Four years ago — June 2012
Sometimes later, I woke up in a tiny cell, only a few steps across in width. I didn’t know where I was, I couldn’t see anything outside as the only entrance was barred by a heavy metal door. The aliens had taken the time to strip me as I no longer wore my apprentice’s uniform, instead they’d dressed me into some loose orange one-piece outfit.
I spent a few minutes trying to remember everything that had happened and take the layout of my cell, which featured two devices I wasn’t familiar with, although I guessed they were to obtain water and dispose of body wastes, and a mattress I was lying on…
“Oh my god, she’s awake.” I heard an alien say in its language just beyond my door, the sound muffled but clear enough that I could hear it. Still I came closer to the door and set my ear against it. “Jeez. How long has it been, Two days?”
“She must be starving. Dave, get us something for her.” Another alien said.
“What is she doing?”
“Obviously she’s trying to listen. Now go get the food.”
“Oh man, why do I always have to make the run?”
“It’s called I outrank your ass. Now skedaddle.”
I heard one of the alien run away, its position given away by the drumming of its feet against what had to be metal tiles. A few minutes later the alien returned and I heard the mechanism of the door open so I retreated to the corner of the room, looking for a weapon, but I couldn’t find anything. The only thing I stood a chance of moving was the mattress I’d woken up on.
Two aliens came into my cell, wearing heavy armor on their body. Their faces were left visible behind clear helmets. One of them held a large baton while the other had a tray in its arms. They carefully advanced a few steps into the room and the tray carrying alien set it down on the floor before sliding it toward me. Although I didn’t recognize the content of the tray, the smell of it had my stomach growling within seconds. I wasn’t sure when I’d last eaten anything…
Hesitantly I sat beside the tray and my captors seemed pleased. On it was some strange white paste, something I presumed was a slice of grilled meat, orange-colored disks, tiny mushy-looking green balls and a sealed cup of white goop. Everything except the cup had this brown liquid dousing it.
“It’s food.” One of the alien told me.
I didn’t know their language but I wasn’t stupid and knew he wanted me to eat it. As strange and unappetizing as it looked, I was starving… I dipped a finger in the white mush and brought it closer to my face, smelling it. I brought it to my lips and tasted the mixture, licking it off my finger. It was odd, but edible.
I was about to try something else when I saw my captors’ expressions, satisfied grins. The hunger faded away. Replaced with disgust. I was doing what they wanted… Doing what the ones who’d murdered master Iren wanted.
So I grabbed the tray and threw it at them. Growling in defiance. I tried to advance but the alien with the stick poked me with it and I fell down, feeling a shock through my whole body which gave them the time to escape and close the door.
Through the few next days — or so I assumed, I couldn’t tell the time within my cell — The aliens kept bringing more food but every time I refused to even touch it. Sure, my stomach hurt from hunger and every hour was like torture, but at least I took comfort in knowing that the aliens couldn’t break me. Even in their captivity I was in control, I was a Tzari, I wasn’t going to stop fighting, no matter how it meant I had to.
One day I woke up to the sound of the door opening. But this time it wasn’t the aliens who came through the door. Rather another Tzari did. Although she didn’t wear her armor, I recognized her, having met her before on the Tzari flagship.
“Lord Kiorga.” I painfully brought myself to stand and kneeled before her. “Have the aliens captured you too?”
“Stand up apprentice.” She said and I obeyed, although in my state I couldn’t stand straight. Thankfully she caught me before I fell. “What is your name?”
“Shekaree, daughter of Kirath of clan Izret.”
“The Humans tell me you haven’t been eating. Why?”
“I refuse to bow down to the enemy.” I said, snarling reflexively. “Apologies, I didn’t mean to be rude my lord.”
“Shekaree, the Humans aren’t our enemy anymore… The war is over.”
“The fleet has retreated back to Resh.”
“In a way… The dishonorable actions of High Lord Kuthal forced me to assume the position of high lord and I had to order the fleet and the remaining warriors to leave.”
“But we’re still here.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know of your presence in the human’s captivity until after the fleet departed. There are a few thousands of us who couldn’t make it back. I chose to remain behind to account for the actions of our kind.”
“What will happen to us?”
“For now, we’ll get you out of this cell and feed you. You’ll need all your strength for the trials ahead.”
She turned toward the exit, which had been left open, and together we walked out of the cell. Although the alien guards were around, they didn’t react to us leaving. I didn’t understand why, but I went along with lord Kiorga. One of the alien guided us into a large room full of tables which I assumed was some form of mess hall.
Kiorga sat me down on one of the table before leaving to fetch food. She came back carrying a tray filled with alien foods and set it down before me.
“Don’t worry, the food of Earth is safe for us to eat.” She said.
“It’s what some of the aliens call this world. They call themselves humans. One of them has been teaching me some of their words.”
I nodded and with some initial reluctance dug into the food she’s given me. Although it was all so strange, I didn’t mind. I shoved it all down my mouth until the whole tray was clean.
“Glad to see you didn’t lose your appetite.”
“Lord Kiorga, may I ask a question?”
“What will happen to me? I’ve lost my master… And we can’t go home…”
“I know our circumstances are not ideal, but if you’ll allow me, I’d like to take you as my own apprentice. There are many of us stranded on this world, they’ll need direction.”
“You’ll take me as your apprentice?”
“I’ll need someone at my side in the coming days and you have the fight within you that I need. Even if it could have been channelled a little less self-destructively. Will you be my apprentice?”
“Yes.” I got up and then back onto my knees, which had her smile. “Before the ancestors, I pledge my life and service onto you. I swear by my ancestors to be faithful, loyal and honorable in deed and words to you Master Kiorga.”
She got up, leaned down and kissed my head. “Shekaree, daughter of Kirath of clan Izret, I accept you as my apprentice. I swear before the ancestor to shelter you, to care for you and to teach you the way of our people so that you may one day stand among us as one of the lords. Now rise, apprentice.”
As she commanded, I got up to my feet and faced her.
“There is much work ahead of us. We better get started.”
“Yes master.” I said, bringing my fist to my chest.