Caine Wise had forgotten how to be a splice instead of a person.
He hadn't expected that. Thing is, the Deadland might have been hell, but as the ancient proverb went, Hell was full of people. Sure, some of the people were at the bottom of the heap, which was essentiallythe same as being a splice out in the widening gyre, but even that was based on what you did or had happen to you, not on which proteins someone had tweaked when they were making you.
And Caine had not been at the bottom of the heap. Caine had been the already-legendary Skyjacker who came to the Deadland because he tore out the throat of the Abrasax.
Now Caine was standing in front of a man who would probably be very upset to know that anybody had ever called his brother the Abrasax. And he had to remember how to be Just A Splice again.
It wasn't going very well.
He really missed being able to fly away.
"I can get you your wings back," Titus Abrasax said.
Also, Caine really fucking hated the Entitled.
"A tempting offer, Your Majesty," he mumbled, staring down at his bare feet. He did remember most of the last time his unit had been seconded to the Abrasax corporate guard.
"Of course, you'll have to prove to me that it's really worth something to you."
Caine looked up at him without raising his head. He was pretty sure Titus could see the hatred, burning in his eyes: that particular soft 'whatever you wish, your majesty,' expression was one of the things he'd gotten too far out of practice with.
Titus titled his head inquisitively, ridiculous hair flopping over one eye.
Caine sighed, and sank fluidly down onto his knees in front of the man, harder than it looked with his hands still in grav-shackles behind his back. "What is it you wish, your Majesty?" he asked.
Dealing with Balem had always been the hardest of the three: he prided himself on being rational and polite and honorable (at least by Entitled standards), and then he'd explode into one of his rages and the nearest splice would be lying dead in a pool of blood on the floor. But Caine could at least understand the feeling. Kalique ostentatiously treated them like the valuable and well-trained animals they were, which was sometimes even harder. Titus was just tacky as shit.
"You could start by putting that mouth to good use," he said, detaching his trousers.
Stinger'd had a theory that there was something in Caine's genetic makeup that made him go strange around Entitled. It was apparently a convincing theory, since Stinger had managed to leverage it into commuting Caine's sentence. Caine had never noticed this, personally. The only strange thing he noticed around Entitled was that they were constantly fucking hitting on him.
Stinger had a theory about that, too. He said that since Caine's lycan genes had only half-taken, so that he had most of the abilities of a lycantant splice but he could still pass as human to someone with a poor sense of smell, Entitled liked the idea that they could be safely fucking a powerless splice but pretend they were fucking each other. Fucking each other over was generally the only thing that actually got them off.
But then, what did Stinger know. He was the only splice Caine had ever met who was more fucked-up than he was: who had ever heard of a male Melian splice anyway?
It certainly wasn't Caine's resentfully sloppy blowjob that was getting Titus off. Possibly it was the fact that he was getting sucked off by the man who'd nearly succeeded in killing his brother. Possibly it was just the sheer cliche of the scenario. If there was anyone in the world who could get off on the power of cliche, it was Titus Abrasax.
Whatever it was, he eventually got there, and before Caine got too bored with the situation. Caine swallowed it down and sat back on his heels.
"That was not terribly convincing, Mr. Wise," Titus said.
Convincing enough to get you off, Caine didn't reply.
"I think we may need to work a little harder," he said. "Famulus, take him to my chambers. My pisgies have been asking for a toy."
Caine knew Titus's right-hand-splice Famulus from before. She was very aware of how cushy her place was, relatively speaking, and it made her annoyingly smug, but as long as you didn't do anything that would threaten her position, she was usually easy enough to work with.
"What is this really all about?" Caine asked her. It couldn't be just a little petty humiliation: the youngest Abrasax had gone to a lot of trouble to get him out of the Deadland after leaving him there for five years, and he'd done it in a tearing hurry, too, judging by the fact he'd brought his homeship there personally.
"Family business," she said. "But you know he does love to play." She opened the door to the chamber, and then turned off the shackles and shoved him through in one motion.
There was a steep gravity gradient that he wasn't expecting, and without his wings or his boots, he lost his footing and tumbled toward the freefall sphere at the center of the room.
It was full of pisgies, twined together in a gently heaving ball.
Pisgies had always creeped him out a little. He knew it was unfair, but they were spliced solely for orgies, and they went disturbingly vague if you tried to talk to them about anything but sex. If you wanted someone with no personality, he'd always been of the opinion that was why they made sims.
One of them noticed him, squealed, and flew over to him. In freefall, even their tiny decorative gossamer wings, wings they'd never had to earn, gave them an advantage in maneuverability that Caine no longer had. The pisgie grabbed him by one ankle and started towing him toward the center, quickly enough joined by the others.
"Can we maybe just not do this?" Caine asked. "I've had a very long day, and--"
The pisgie nearest his face stared at him in confusion, and then ripped off his vest.
"Right," he said. "I shouldn't have asked."
Pisgies were designed for sexual skill, and Titus Abrasax would have only the best. Caine probably could have fought them off, left them all broken and wingless in the corners of the room, but what would be the point? They weren't doing anything against their nature, and it wouldn't leave him in a better position with his majesty.
And they were damn good at what they did: a brush of fingers or thighs, twisting strokes just where he most missed warmth; a thousand nibbles and licks and little sighs. In artificial freefall, every touch became a movement became a glide, and without his wings, without anything stable to grip for leverage, he was at their mercy, going where they pushed him. He was far from helpless in freefall, even clipped, but zero-g sex rooms were their natural habitat, and the more he flailed, the more they effortlessly worked it into their well-practiced choreography.
They were learning him as they went. What had been teasing touches very quickly became calibrated to exactly what he liked, things even he'd forgotten about himself, and before he'd even managed to orient himself properly he was hard, brain fogged with arousal. Likely they were playing with pheromones, too. High-end pisgies usually could, tailoring them to their focus-person on the fly, their wings wafting the mind-altering chemicals across his breath, and in freefall the scents would never settle out. It didn't feel like very long before he hit a plateau, right on the edge of release, but never tipped over it, just kept on the wavering edge forever and forever and forever by their expert work, with no sense of up or down or start or finish. He should have been resisting - he knew that Titus didn't drag him out of Deadworld just to play with pisgies; that he'd take whatever Caine revealed here as a victory in some incomprehensible game - but it was hard to remember, with warm hands over the scars on his back, something moving slowly inside his ass, his mouth, and limbs and bodies wrapped all around him, the pressure of life next to him no matter how he drifted, a cold facsimile of the warm press of pack around him that he'd missed so much for so much of his life, that he had for a few precious years in the creche, and later, for a few precious years in the Legion.
Except it's wasn't like that, because pack was above all people, and nobody in this room was permitted to be people, not in the lair of an Entitled, not when, for all their skill, none of them were here for anything but the whim of an Abrasax.
Maybe it was that, that let him keep himself together enough to notice when the pisgies started suddenly drifting away from him, leaving him just as hard as ever but minus even that soulless touch against his arousal.
He managed to shift himself in midair, open his eyes: There must have been more gravity in the other end of the room, enough that Titus Abrasax could come striding in, his feet as firm as on the ground of a planet he owned; the pisgies were fluttering around him, less graceful out of freefall but still every movement designed for erotic perfection.
"Oh, my lovelies," he said, with a good approximation of warmth in his voice. "Have you done well? Have you entertained him well? Taught him what it means to be a guest of Titus Abrasax?"
They caressed him all over and he deigned to turn enough to kiss a few of them with their faces conveniently near his, and then dismissed them with the wave of a hand as he kicked off toward where Caine was still floating. Naked. Still aroused.
He was stuck there, he thought, in more ways then one, still trembling at the edge of pleasure and unable to come down, fighting his way through the fog in his mind, with nothing to hold on to, nothing to get traction or friction from, and a fucking Entitled looming over him, almost body-to-body.
Titus reached out, ran a hand along his jaw. "Mr. Wise," he said, voice soft and honeyed. "Beg me for it."
Caine looked at him. "Please," he said.
Titus smiled. "I know you can do better than that."
He closed his eyes and leaned his head back, the motion starting a gentle spin. There was nothing to do but get it over with, however Titus decided it was going to end. He wouldn't be surprised if the pisgies had done something with pheromones that meant he could only get off to the touch of an Abrasax, anyway. It was the sort of thing the Entitled thought was clever. "Please, your majesty, please, fuck me, I need it, I need you, your majesty, please," he said.
Titus smiled. "See, we'll get you trained yet," he said. He pulled Caine back toward him, position them for fucking. He was good in zero-gravity, but then, Entitled had time to become good at everything. He pressed a finger into Caine's ass; it was still wet and loose from what the pisgies had been doing to him, and Titus made a soft noise of satisfaction, and pulled out his cock.
Caine was kind of surprised he wasn't going to make Caine get him hard, but maybe he was running on a tight schedule; he was hard already, and pushed into Caine with a gentle movement that sent them spinning faster around a shared axis instead of sending them tumbling out of the zero-g bubble. He was very good at this: he must have spent a lot of time in the room.
Caine made an involuntary sound of pleasure at the first thrust; how the pisgies had left him, anything would have been pleasure, but Titus smiled triumphantly and said, "See? I knew you would like it." He kept up the small, rolling thrusts that let zero-g and angular momentum do most of the work for him. No hard brutal fuck then, unfortunately. He hadn't really expected it, from Titus, but it would have been nice to get it over with.
Then the motherfucker started praising him. "You're gorgeous," he said. "I don't think anyone's told you this enough, but you are. For an accident, you're a work of art." He reached forward and caresses his chest, where it was still a mess of fluids from the pisgies. "And so responsive! My beautiful, beautiful boy."
Caine set himself to moan on automatic and tried to tune it out, focusing on the feel of a cock in his ass to try to get it over with. It didn't seem to be working, though. He kept wavering up and down near that plateau, but every time he thought he might finally get through, Titus would do something to distract him.
"...and if you're good, you might even get to see your old friend Stinger," he said. "You two worked beautifully together, I bet you were beautiful together in other ways-"
His first impulse was to punch Titus for daring to even mention Stinger's name, but given the position they were in and the lack of gravity, it would be a terrible choice even tactically. And strategically it would be worse. But then his brain suddenly made a connection - Stinger, as far as he knew, was still with the Aegis, and was posted to some tertiary planet that everyone knew was going to be Balem's next harvest. If the actual reason Titus had hauled him out of the Deadland was for a a job involving that planet--
"You hauled me out of the Deadland just to make an ironic statement to your brother?" he said before he thought better of it, and laughed. Fucking Entitled.
Titus slapped him so hard that it pulled him off his cock, and sent him spinning back into gravity - but it didn't matter, because Caine was already coming just from the expression on his face when Caine laughed at him.
"I dragged you out of the Deadland because I needed a tracker, and I'd heard you were the best," he said petulantly. "But if you can't be civil, I can find someone else." He was like a Llyant splice who was offended someone had stepped on his tail. All huffy indignation. It was delightful. Caine was delighted all the way back to the oubliette.