Haden felt as if a dense fog had settled around his mind. He walked, yet knew not where he went. He talked, but the words were not his own. Being subject to the wishes of a Maruvian queen had always been a difficult life. He had been punished on a whim, starved for failure and watched friends picked off as the queen saw fit.
In all his days, nothing like that had ever happened to him before. It was horrible to be trapped in his own body, unable to call out for help or warn anyone of what was coming. His Maruvian brothers had let him walk right up to them, never suspecting he was a ticking time bomb. He’d sliced through them with barely any effort at all.
Whereas they might have been on guard with another drone, they welcomed his approach. They didn’t see that their one-time leader had been turned into a tool for their exiled queen until it was too late. Though his imprisoned mind screamed for him to stop, his weapons did their despicable deed, sickening him to the core.
The memories came unbidden in the light of day just as easily as they did while he slept. He remembered walking into the queen’s chamber. She was enjoying a relaxing bath. Her small naked body seemed defenseless and weak to his eyes. However, her frail beauty could not be denied. His mouth opened and words that were not his own sprang forth with such ease.
“It is true what they say. Humans are pale and weak.”
Popping her eyes open, the queen glared at him. He watched her eyes sliding over his muscles and scars. He wanted to shout a warning for her to run and seek safety, but his lips were sealed against such utterances.
He’d been sent to kill her in her sleep. The mind control device bled away his resolve to fight against the foul commands being forced into his brain. An oversized, ugly serrated blade twitched in his hand, dripping crimson blood on the carpet. It was the blood of his insectoid brothers-in-arms.
Slowly coming to her feet, the beautiful naked queen grabbed a cloth and began drying herself off. She was offering the primitive male portion of his mind a distraction. It was effective, as his mind processed her naked form, he was able to wrestle some control back. Climbing out of the water, she tied a cloth around her waist. Her plump breasts and slim waistline were on full display as she finger-combed her long hair. He watched her twist it up into a messy knot on the top of her head.
Spiteful words not of his choosing escaped from his lips, yet again. “It seems a shame to waste such a lovely pale body.”
The human queen placed her hands defiantly on her hips. “I’m not just a pretty face. You know that, right?”
His head snapped up from the swell of bare breasts to her face.
Catching her eye, her heard the tension in her voice. “On my home world, I was a soldier. My job was to keep the peace on the Galactic Council’s space station, orbiting Earth.”
Haden focused on standing his ground when the puppet master in control of his body wanted him to move, maim, and kill. The small queen continued with her distractions.
“Some days it was a breeze. Other days it kept me hopping. Have you ever tried to break up a Tardazian bare-knuckle boxing match. They really don’t have knuckles, since they’re gigantic squid, but they seem all arms and legs in a fight. I made the mistake of squeezing one a little too hard and his tentacle just fell off. It seems they’re a little like lizards and can release their tentacle to get away from an aggressor. It was all kinds of weird to see when you’re not expecting it.”
“Stop talking, human. Your distractions will not work on me.”
“That’s too bad. I like a little good conversation now and again.”
Haden jerked his head, trying to dislodge whatever was nesting there and slowly driving him to commit atrocities for which he could never hope to atone.
Finding his voice he intoned the best warning he was allowed under the circumstances. “My queen wants you dead.”
“You know the rules. She needs to challenge me in battle. I already beat her once, though. I think she’s afraid of me. That’s why she sent you to do her dirty work.”
Haden’s entire body jerked in response to her insult.
Taking a step closer to get a better look at him, she spoke coldly. “Kabelda is weak and unworthy of being your queen.”
More jerking ensued as he tried to keep from cutting her head off on the spot. Her eyes went to his neck. Without looking, he knew she’d discovered the root of the evil lurking inside him. A ray of hope filtered through to his brain. Maybe she would figure out he wasn’t in control and run. Attached to his neck, under the collar of his shirt the transponder was digging into his skin just like it was digging into his resolve to be an honorable warrior.
The little queen’s voice turned cold. “Your former queen is a coward and therefore unfit to rule. You know this.”
Trying to shake off the absent queen’s control, he mumbled, “I don’t… I… I am commanded to act.”
“Throw the blade away. It’s stained with the blood of your brethren.” The command in her voice was hard to ignore.
Looking down at the blade for the first time since entering the room, his face contorted into a mask of pain. “I didn’t want too… I must.” Snapping his mouth shut, he twitched again, caught in a raging internal conflict.
“Throw the knife away. You don’t need it.”
Lifting the blade, he concentrated on releasing it from his grip. The control device would not allow it. Intent on resisting, Haden swiftly brought his other hand up in a fist and punched himself in the temple. If he knocked himself out, he couldn’t kill anyone else. It stunned him and he knew the absent queen had not been expecting that at whatever control panel she was hiding behind. Unfortunately, she doubled down on the control she had and forced his body to act.
Fighting it every step of the way, he moved towards the delicate human queen. Words spilled from his mouth. “Queens command, drones obey.”
Just before he reached her, there was a commotion at the door and several drones came pouring into the room. The human darted out of the way and Haden felt his skin prick in multiple locations all at once. His brethren had stunned him, but he fought to stay awake. Though he was unable to keep his eyes open, he heard their voices.
The queen was near when she spoke. “I wish you hadn’t killed him.”
A deep voice responded. “We did not. Queens command, drones obey. You said no more killing. We stunned him.”
Small soft hands tore at his collar, exposing the blinking disk.
Suddenly his longtime friend Raec spoke. “It is a cerebral control transponder. His actions were not his own.”
“Thank God, you’re here.”
“I should not have left you alone this morning, my queen.”
She stated soothingly, “You did nothing wrong.”
Raec’s sire, Vraden spoke. “I came as soon as I heard. His name is Haden. He is one of our fiercest fighters.”
Raec added miserably, “He is also one of our most loyal and honorable drones.”
Hearing them talking about him like he was a warrior of worth, killed of a small part of his soul. They should cut his throat for threatening their new human queen. He shivered to feel her gently touching the transponder. “We need to get this removed.” Her sweet voice sounded so worried. Their queen was worried about him, a scarred warrior who just tried to kill her? It made no rational sense to his mind.
Vraden’s panicked voice broke in. “Don’t touch it. We’ll need to put him in stasis and work only with the small area the device is attached to. These devices are prone to explode if removed improperly.”
Gods of chaos, they were not going to risk the lives of others by trying to save him, were they?
“Let’s get moving before he wakes up again.”
He had the sinking feeling they were. Haden listened as they talked about the drones he had killed and injured. His gut twisted when he heard the numbers. He’d killed three and injured a couple more. May the gods forgive him. He wanted to fight the healers off from mending his wounds but he still did not have control of his limbs. Even if drones did not cry on the outside like humans, he was crying on the inside.