Solitaire; A Short Story

 

Sol-I-Taire [n]

2.a game played by one person alone…

3. a precious stone, especially a diamond, set by itself…

*warning: sexually explicit


 

Solitaire

A pseudo-origin story from my Fallen Angels universe

The heat of the fire singed the hair from her hands, but still, she knelt over it, absently poking the wood to send sparks into the air, barely acknowledging her immediate surroundings. Her awareness was in the thick forest that masked the location of the village, following the slow gait of the soldier who walked the perimeter of the tiny settlement she’d been sent to watch over, years ago.

It wasn’t his first visit. She’d long learned to recognize him on his approach, far before any of the villagers were aware of him. He was like her, of that she’d always been sure. She couldn’t explain how she knew, but it was certain. That he was allowed to travel versus her orders to remain in place never crossed her mind. Orders were orders, and beyond all else, she was programmed to obey.

The breeze blowing at her back was a satisfying contradiction to the flames at her front, both sensations recognized in the periphery of her consciousness as she continued to follow the soldier’s movements with her mind. His pause to stare away from the village, into the vast forest that surrounded them, ensuring he hadn’t been followed, was the cue that he was about to step into view of the human sentries. Despite her presence there, the villagers maintained their own pathetic watch over a village no one had been interested in for generations.

She heard the subtle call from the guard when the soldier was spotted. She knew he allowed himself to be, that he’d have no trouble infiltrating the village unseen if that’s what his goal was. Unseen by all but her. If she’d been any other kind of soldier, she might itch for some kind of action, so attack his visits. Instead, she merely observed with detached indifference to his movements, and the reactions to them by those she lived with.

The answering call sent a nervous stir through those not yet sleeping, most coming out of their primitive homes to see what was happening, though by the call had told them the nature of the intrusion. Not much happened day-to-day, so any event, even the presence of this soldier that scared them all, was worth checking out.

One of those moving outside was a young woman who knew this soldier quite well.

Through these observations, her eyes remained gazing into the fire, only moving upwards once the soldier broke the treeline to enter the clearing. Through the flames, across the handful of meters that was the radius of her small world, she met the gaze of the soldier whose observation of her was as clear as hers of him.

There was no feeling in this sharing. As one might nod politely at a stranger passing on a stormy evening, these two acknowledged their commonality, without inciting any feeling.

Her eyes dropped back to the fire, continuing her absent observations.

Her passive existence made her all but invisible to the villagers, who’d long accepted her presence as they could do nothing about it. She rarely spoke, offering only mild help to the most challenging of events that might erupt in the small community. Days of bad hunting might elicit her to remedy the oncoming starvation. A windstorm that leveled most of the villages thatched huts brought her from her vague staring to assist in felling enough trees to rebuild. A too-curious youth’s adventure to the nearby river alerted her sensitive ears long before anyone realized he was missing.

Except for these few incidents, she stared into the flames of the fire she set up near one end of the village, away from the stone hearth she’d built in the center of the clearing, hefting huge stones from the riverbed, creating a well camouflaged barrier to the light of the fire that never went out. No one would be able to see it through the trees if they were searching for the village, not that many were left who would.

The villagers had been non-understanding of this, attempting to tear it down as she hoisted the impossibly heavy sections into place. It was the only time she’d insisted on anything, standing off with the village elders for days before they realized she wasn’t going to back down.

Even still, they were afraid of the demon living in their midst.

Not once had she threatened, or shown her nature as a warrior. Only the glimpse of her strength, unmatched by any but the others like her, had managed to be seen by the people she had been sent to live with. If her silence hadn’t kept her apart from the others, than this fear of her did.

Her eyes dropping from the newcomer didn’t mean she’d stopped her watching of him, though his visits here were always the same. The young woman inhaled deeply before standing to meet the searching gaze of the soldier. He nodded towards the structure that sat unoccupied at the rear of the village, camouflaged by the encroaching forest who cared nothing for the fading ingenuity of man. A piece of time barely remembered, this structure was out of place in this world absent of technology.

She recognized the woman’s reluctance in some part of her separate from her experience. Curious by this recognition of something she’d never considered, she rose as if in slow motion, stepping in front of the woman as the soldier disappeared into the structure.

The woman ran into her, thoughts turned inward to steal herself against what would happen next. Somehow, with no experience to know, she understood what had been happening to this woman, feeling something she’d never felt before at the idea of this woman’s terror. Why had this observation never come to her before now?

The woman looked up, startled, tears forming at the idea she would now need to battle the female who’d lived among them so curiously for so long.

Understanding the woman’s fright from that same place that brought her forward to intervene where she never had before, she shook her head, offering a hopeful glance that read in her eyes though her face remained frozen in it’s impassive mask.

Confused, the woman whispered in her choppy language that she had to go to him.

She shook her head again, “No. You sleep now.”

She didn’t wait to see how the woman would react, simply stepping towards the house, matching the pace of the woman, so she would reach the soldier inside at the moment the woman would have if she hadn’t intervened. Inferring that he wouldn’t be paying close attention to who was coming to him, he wouldn’t know of the switch until she was in front of him. Why he would be watching something that happened the same every time he visited was something she was counting on.

The structure, left for the ones like her to stay in while they occupied the village, was reminiscent of a twentieth century western home. Some technology from a later time was the only explanation for the continued stability of the faux-wooden structure. The trees were in a constant battle to reclaim the area for themselves, so though the structure projected a dismal state, it had been frozen at it’s current state of dilapidation for years.

The heavy door gave her entrance to the inside, where the inner structure of polymerized plastics soundproofed the house from the world outside, and vice versa.

Only the few who knew what this structure was would know this secret. None from the village had ever stepped foot inside, none but the woman forced to betray the villages strict rules of superstition.

The inside appeared just as dilapidated as the outside, creaking wooden boards to prove it. Her steps mimicked the gait of the young woman’s, alerting the soldier upstairs to her approach. It was now a game to see if she could make him believe the woman was the one visiting him. She hadn’t needed to do such a thing since her days of training, games that had always been enjoyed by her. Her success rate had greatly interfered with others, but as a Solitaire, she had never known the aftermath of their defeat.

The stairway led upwards to the center of the second floor where a room lay to her right and left, with a smaller room that had been a bathroom directly in front of her. He was in the room to her left, where the closet taking up the majority of the room hid the supplies that might one day be needed. Why he chose this room made her wonder about possible tertiary reasons for his visits for the first time. Was he there to check on her directly? To make sure she hadn’t tampered with anything beyond her mission?

It wasn’t beyond them to check in on her, but she’d never wondered if that was this ones purpose. His purpose there mattered not to her. Only her own directives mattered. As long as those weren’t being threatened, she had no reason to react, and until today, never had.

Her training, that had begun before her language skills had developed enough to respond to what was being taught, had programmed her psyche for prolonged solitary isolation. Contact beyond verbal cues had only been broken during her combat training. Even than, a stress on not being touched overrode a normal fight curriculum.

Something in her subconscious halted her steps. Maybe the young woman’s steps would have paused here, but it was most likely that knowing he was in the room where her arsenal was hidden brought an emotional reaction to flicker inside her. Had she grown possessive of this place?

Brushed off easily, her indifferent curiosity at the coming events replaced whatever this flicker of feeling might be.

Continuing towards the room in the mimicry of the village woman brought her through the door. His back was to her, face staring out through the window whose view was little more than trees and vine suffocating the structure. Under the window, a bed was pushed against the wall, dimensions suggesting it appropriate for a single sleeper. It would have been her bed had she chosen to stay in the structure.

She hadn’t liked the too quiet atmosphere of the dead structure, feeling more comfortable in the open air where she could hear, see, and sense everything happening around her. Inside, there was only the tech equipment to rely on to tell her if a threat was near. She would never have caught this ones approach if she’d been inside.

He’d already taken off his shirt, bare back showing strong, lean muscles. The bulk of him took her off guard, as the only males she’d seen of her kind had never shown their strength through their exterior form, clothing created for them to blend in, and cause no unwanted attention. A figure this well-formed would only bring stares from both genders, creating a remembered figure.

Turning to face her, his eyes allowed minimal surprise to show, face impassive. She allowed herself a fraction of time of elation that she’d won her game, before allowing her eyes to take him in. The bulk that his back spoke of wasn’t as pronounced from the front. Chiseled muscles would be easily hidden under clothing, as hers were.

Still, neither spoke, both continuing to study the other with empty thoughts, taking in any information given by the other through subtle body language.

They were both trained for quiet passivity, so the room was stilled to nothingness in their complete waiting.

Finally, it was him who stepped forward, a single slow step, allowing a smile to light up his face, transforming the robotic soldier into a human being. This information was processed quickly, and intelligently, by the one who’d never been taught such skills.

You take her place?”

The words were choppy, in the strange dialect of the villagers she lived with, but his true meaning was clear: Why would she come here? Why would she care to interfere? It was the interference that spoke volumes. In each previous visit, she’d never made a sign that she even noticed this transaction between him and the village, yet now, here she was. What was different?

She wasn’t sure how to answer. This interference wasn’t interference, as she saw it. His usage of the woman was beyond his orders. This she was sure of, but irrelevant in terms of needing an explanation. H’d done what he’d done, and she was doing what she was doing.

In easy mocking, beyond her scope of experience, he chuckled, opening his arms wide, “You are curious about this?”

He used the word curious purposefully, knowing about her as she knew nothing about him. Only a Solitaire would be assigned to watch over this wretched place. Only a Solitaire would react as she did among the handful of villagers managing to survive in the squalor of this place. Well placed questions to the woman he forced entertainment from had previously confirmed these assumptions, knowing this one rarely interacted with the group she existed among. Not even he was so disciplined to attempt such isolation. The days it took him to complete his circuit of scouting was rarely completed without him itching for this rendezvous, a break from his short stints of social isolation, while she’d barely spoken to anyone years.

She still hadn’t answered either question, impassive face continuing to absorb his every subtle gesture, his genial outburst surprising to her, but full of details to be absorbed and calculated, awareness traveling over his entire form even as her eyes remained locked on his. He carried a handful of well concealed weapons in the remaining clothes he retained, many more in the double layer of shirts and vest he’d discarded before her arrival. Was he there to test her? Assassinate her? Testing made sense to her, but not assassination. She was too young; on an assignment too removed to be of any threat to any side, and it had been her who’d come to him.

She felt down the length of her own body with her inner senses, mentally caressing the weapons she had tucked on her person. Her disadvantage was that she had stopped carrying projectile, munition weapons, told at her briefing that the people she would be staying with could not see any of this technology unless absolutely necessary. That this technology was centuries older than the village hadn’t given her a second thought. It was just a small detail in the task she was set upon.

Arms back at his side, face an odd mixture of mocking smile, and curious observation, he moved another small step towards where only the movement of her body breathing affected her form. He would not be denied what he had come here for, and her lack of response was bringing him around to the idea that she truly meant to step in for the woman, “You’ll really do this?” He switched to their shared language, words intoned to reflect more deeply the essence of a person over the choppy dull words of the villagers.

This change of language was more information to study, whether to give insight into his personality, or the training he’d received in emotion manipulation, was still to be told.

You are outside orders,” she spoke softly, unused to the sound of her own voice, her words in the coded language of soldiers rather than the shared language of their kind, statement matter-of-fact so he wondered if maybe she had received orders of her own to watch him, as he had checked in on her.

Any response to these words would give too much information, so he paused to stillness, looking at her in a different light. Solitaires were viewed as odd, even among those similar. His training had been for infiltration, so his personality was easily matched to any he was ordered to be around, but she was different. Her personality had been driven out to be replaced with indifferent objectivity. She was the one thing he hadn’t been trained to handle, but neither had she been trained to deal with him on a level such as this. He was sure she could kill him if it came to that, but in this social interaction, he had far too many advantages.

Now, she stepped towards him, reading something in his subtle facial gestures, let out while his thoughts had rummaged for meaning in her words. He wouldn’t leave without his personal objective being met, regardless of whether or not he thought she was there to spy on him.

She heightened her awareness to prepare for violence.

Her forward step put him off guard, convinced this would be a fight. He’d deduced she wouldn’t allow herself to be the replacement for the woman. How could she? A Solitaire would never allow themselves to be touched so freely, especially in the manner and depth with which his favored activity required, and he wouldn’t leave without it.

His mind whirled, second-guessing instincts honed for just such a meeting, but she was a Solitaire, and there was no understanding of them. It was their purpose, a purpose he had never been meant to face, so his training was inadequate.

He forced his body to relax, giving himself over to the impulses of muscles that would react before the brainwaves could interfere. If she was goading him into a fight, he wouldn’t be caught off guard.

The information was clear. He didn’t understand her position, so mis-read her signals. She stopped her forward movement after this first step, recognizing his body re-programming itself into reactionary defensiveness. It was a dangerous mode for one of them to be in, all external stimuli interpreted as threatening. This was not how she expected this to go. Stepping into the woman’s spot, in her mind, meant exactly that. That he would question her, not excepting her role, hadn’t occurred to her.

Movements in the slowest motion allowed to still obtain motility, she dropped her weapons vest to the floor gently, slowly pulling her outer layer out of her pants, than over her head. It wasn’t until she stood in front of him, naked from the waist up, that his stillness changed.

Eyes pulled from heightened threat mode, to curious onlooker, to excited male, happened with minuscule change in expression or posture, but she saw each progression as if highlighted underneath the greatest of microscopes. Confident she wouldn’t set off violence in him, she took another step forward, this time met by his outstretched arms that gently held her in place while he scouted her with his eyes. Never had he been with a female of their kind. Too stoic to illicit any response, rendered nearly pheromone free to ensure prime manipulation of their actions, gender had been nearly eradicated among those trained as they had been.

Eyes drifting over a nearly perfect form, he noted the muscles poking through soft skin that reminded him of her strength, yet did nothing to to hide her feminism. Two perfectly formed breasts, hidden as the rest of her had been behind the androgynous gear of a soldier, kept his gaze lingering before they returned to her blank gaze.

Watching him look at her, she was curious to his amazement, even as she fought the urge to detach herself from his touch that was so alien, bristling strange energy from his point of touch on her arms. She was female, as the young woman was female. She assumed he had looked on that one like this, so what was he searching for? Had she missed a subtle hint that he still considered her threatening, not believing she would hold her end of the bargain she had entered into when taking the woman’s place?

Unbidden, her muscles tensed as his eyes again met hers, unsure how to read the look that now filled his face.

Feeling the tension run through her, he smiled, a genuine expression that set her at ease momentarily, before the uninitiated response set her alerts even higher. He was manipulating her, and it was working.

He let her move backwards out of his grip, understanding her reaction, curious how this encounter might culminate if neither could find the trust needed to take the next steps.

You come to me. I wanted other woman,” the villagers language allowed him to hide nuances of what he was thinking as their language wouldn’t have allowed.

The ploy worked. She drained the tension from her limbs, impassive observation deducing his threat level before she continued. He was right, and the unspoken terms were there: she either did this, or didn’t. He didn’t care either way, but if she decided against it, she would need to send the woman to him. Was she willing to kill him rather than do what she’d agreed to do?

The nod was so minuscule as to almost not exist, but he saw the gesture clearly, understanding it for the complete absolution of what she’d decided. This time, his forward momentum wasn’t subtle.

His hands were on her, the sensory input confusing to interpret. Though his movement suggested aggression, his hands on her were anything but. Light caressing bringing sensations to skin that had barely been touched since birth. Despite herself, her legs faltered, forcing him to support her weight in his arms, worrying him for a moment that something had triggered in her to self-destruct.

Realizing she was simply responding to him gave him new purpose, exciting him in a way he’d never felt before. She was a Solitaire. She would never have experienced anything like this before.

The information that was already known flashed through his mind as new, so his mind was changed regarding the entire encounter.

Carrying her to the bed, he set her down gently, glancing into eyes that stared inward. Would she survive such an onslaught of physical sensations? Did he care?

Even as he questioned his level of compassion for this one who’d put herself in this position, her gaze returned to him, finally noticing the change in external stimulus. They held each others gaze for a moment, reading what was there to read.

This is new.” The statement was obvious, rhetorical, yet asking many other questions.

I provoked this.”

Everything he needed to know was laid bare in that sentence, answering what his responsibility level was for her. She was just as aware as him that the sensory overload might short her out, but was willing to continue, as she had taken on the obligation of it. This idea, of her doing her duty, relaxed his excitement, reigning him in for a moment to again look at her in a new light.

His excursions here were typically short, all for a personal mission that had nothing to do with the young woman directly, this place, or his orders. The woman he used to fill his boredom, and social isolation, had never been at any physical risk, though what was to say of her mental damage, he had no context to judge, or had ever considered.

Not until this evening, when a Solitaire had come to him as a martyr for the people, had there been any reason to give it a thought. But, in giving herself to him, she’d given both of them something unique. A Solitaire to experience the sensations of a non-solitary nature, and him, to show her these sensations in a way she might survive, that would also inflate the ego he shouldn’t have.

Their eyes were glued to each other as these thoughts flew through his awareness, her complete surrender to her plight essential gave him complete control of her.

Back to the business at hand, slight change in perspective, he broke his eyes from hers, to wander over the form relaxed for his molding. He ran light fingers along her ribs until they met the line of her pants, sending shudders through her where goosebumps were raised from his touch.

Eyes fluttering closed at this unexpected reaction to his contact, brought his awareness back to the knowledge that this was a once-in-a-lifetime encounter. This evening had become less about him, and more about how he could enhance this experience for both of them. The likelihood of him ever being with another of his kind, especially one such as this, created the most unique of situations. He wouldn’t allow himself to move through it quickly.

He played his hands along her body, bringing gasps of breath from her that excited him in a way that had him forgetting his plan to savor every moment. Using every point of discipline the intensity of his training, and of his kind, brought to him, barely maintained the pace he was intent upon, more curious to her reactions of him then he was of the pleasure she could give.

Finally, he allowed himself to undress the rest of her, pulling boots and socks away, before gently tugging at the clasps that held her pants.

In his concentration on her lower half, her top had grown cold, told by the tightness of her nipples still exposed to the air, goosebumps along her stomach distracting his hands from pulling off her pants. Instead of hands, he decided on a secondary source of warmth for her chilled torso, leaning closer with the weight of his body held in a pushup over her to lower his face to her navel.

The warm breath against her skin forced a deep inhalation from her, so he paused, deathly still to wait for whatever reaction she may have. There was still the chance that she would over-react to something, and he knew her strength would be able to send him flying. It was part of his game to avoid such a response, keeping her on this side of sensation, slowly allowing her to build her tolerance to avoid any such inadvertent reaction.

When the long exhale came, his stillness was broken, allowing lips to touch her gently so he could feel the tingling of skin he caused her. Moving slowly upward, he crossed under her breast to the other side, following the curve of her ribs until they were lost underneath her, than returning slowly to her front, this time using the warmth from within him on her nipple.

Another deep intake of air stilled him, mouth still connected to the skin that was so sensitive. He felt her hands tighten at her sides, and his own body tensed, waiting to see if this would be what would drive her too far, but her sudden relaxation, and arching of her back to push her breast further into his mouth brought more excitement.

He was succeeding at his game.

Moving the rest of the way over her torso was much easier, trusting that she had pushed her sensory line further to allow for anything else he could do to her at this level.

He lost himself in the feeling of her, rubbing lips, tongue, and face against her for a time that was lost to both of them, giving in to the primal desires of the mammalian ancestors he’d been bred from. Coming back to himself, he was surprised at how much he was enjoying his own game, taking a moment to caress her with his eyes before returning to the job of fully undressing her.

Pants off, he now concentrated on her legs, finding the pinpoints of nerves on each that would welcome a new line of sensation to be passed. Eyes, still closed, as they had been since her initial surrender to him, clenched and unclenched as she fought her bodies interpretation of each new touch. As a Solitaire, she would be instinctually wanting to suppress what was causing the feelings, but as a soldier who’d given herself to a mission, she’d be forced to fight against this nature. Watching this happen was yet another uniqueness given the situation. Not only could he manipulate her on a sexual level, but on a psychological one far beyond what any but those select few who created those of her kind were capable of.

This thought was completely benign, a simple observation of the rarity of his position, it’s uniqueness doubled by his own reaction to it, and to her. Laying fully naked, there was nothing to stop him from simply taking her for his own, then leaving her to worry out her new experiences. Never had he taken such time with any of the woman he’d used to satisfy this need no geneticists had ever fully eradicated in them.

Spreading her legs just enough, he breathed warm air between them, sending sensation to a place she’d never considered capable of bringing such excitement, rushing air into her lungs so they risked explosion, back arched, hips twitching in a complete overwrite of muscular control. His smile spread through his entire face, something that had never been brought over him since the months of his birth.

Looking up to her face, he watched her reactions to what was happening to her. Drawn by her expression, he crawled upwards, body parallel to hers, looking down between them, sighing at the majesty their forms made. His will to join them as one was nearly impossible to control, but he managed to return his gaze to her face, settling all his weight on one arm so he could trace the line of her face with his other hand.

After her last inhale, she’d forgotten to breath, giving him the perfect transition to bring her eyes to him. Leaning gently to her, he whispered in the emotive words of the sacred language they shared, “Breathing is life. The grounding and connection.”

They were words from a mantra they’d learned in their youths, taught as they were led to learn complete control over every function inside them. To control the breath was to control much of the bodies metabolism. His words, perfectly uttered to speak to a part of her long hidden, brought a new stillness to her, even as they brought her breath back to her. Eyes open, she turned her head to meet his stare, eyes locked with his.

You should see.”

She followed his gaze between them, stunned by the sight of both herself, and him, fully nude, his erection startling her even as it seemed perfectly natural. Curious, she brought her hand to it, marveling at the texture that belied it’s hardness.

Surprised by her involvement, it was his turn to close his eyes with an inhalation that startled her. His eyes flew open as he felt her mis-understanding, head dropping closer so she was forced to stare into his face. His eyes told all she needed to know, processing information from his look she had no reference for, ignoring the feelings awakening inside her as she’d been trained. Those things that beckoned, unwilled, ignored until learned to control. This was the hardest test she’d ever encountered.

Gaze again broken by eyes traveling down the length of her body, brought her gaze to follow. This time, worry about what she did was gone, broken by what had laid in his gaze.

With both hands, she passed light fingertips down his chest, smile drawing out of the stone of her face when her touch caused goosebumps to shake his breath. Goaded on by a new sense of purpose, she scooted further under him to be able to press lips to his ribs and chest in the same way he’d done to her. Feeling his appreciation of her touch was almost as satisfying as his touch had been to her.

The hold over himself he’d mastered, was quickly unwinding, shocked by her ability to coax feelings from him that had never been considered. No other had ever managed this from him.

Opening his eyes, he watched the Solitaire he was, every moment, reassembling his opinion of.

Again, her hands went to the thing pressed to his stomach, called by the remembrance of that silken skin that forced her touch to be gentle, hands enveloping him in another new sensation for both of them.

Remembering his breath between her legs, she scooted underneath him to give him the same pleasure, looking up reflexively when his body convulsed above her. He looked down, surprising her with the look in his eyes, a look that would have sent her alerts to their highest level if seen hours ago. Now, it flooded gates inside her she hadn’t known were there.

Unable to wait any longer, this last trick of hers sent his discipline running, he brought his face back even with hers, searching between her legs as she watched his face with open curiosity. Finding her wet, as well as her involuntary arching of her back at his touch, was all he needed to convince him it was time. Pressing himself to her, he remembered, as if new information, that this was her first time. He knew enough to understand what this would mean for her, regardless of how much she was currently enjoying herself.

Her hips, twitching tighter against him was almost more than he could handle, but he managed to detach herself from him, meeting her questioning gaze with another smile that elicited the same expression from her. Without thought, he brought his face to hers, meeting her lips with his in an act he’d never indulged. They were frozen by the strange sensation for a moment, until it exploded in a frenzied passion they lost themselves to in the exploration of this new act.

Her legs were thrown around him, pushing that wetness against him so a groan was forced from his throat. Still, he remembered her newness, maintaining his game that he would manipulate something from her he’d never done before. Pressing her gently against the bed, mouth still covering hers, he brought his fingers between her legs, exploring there in a way new to both of them.

From his long study of identifying subtle body language, he quickly discovered the correct motion to send her body into frenzied spasms. Fascinated by her breaths, he allowed space between their mouths, just enough for him to continue catching these expelled expressions, while continuing to bring her to climax with his fingers.

When it hit her, his own breathe caught in his fear that he’d killed her. The explosion of wet warmth at his fingers, with the explosion of sound from her mouth was more than enough to tell him he’d done his job. Ensuring it had completely taken hold of her, he used this moment to ease her discomfort, knowing her own pleasure would cover what couldn’t be avoided. Pressing slowly into her, he leaned in to cover her mouth with his as he pushed his hips forward, fully sheathing himself inside her, sensation drawing an audible encapsulation of pleasure from him.

He felt the short breathes that told of her interpretation of the assault, but was quickly brought to another climax through his own need, that overshadowed whatever pain she might have felt. Excited further by her pleasure, it didn’t take long for his own to bring their experience to an end.

Laying entwined with her, eyes closed, he allowed a few moments of relaxation to overcome him, instead of jumping right up as was his usually behavior. She lay with him, excited and confused by what had just happened, unsure if it was over. As sensationalized as her body was, she was sure she could handle more if that’s what was to happen.

She opened her eyes slowly, full body scan complete, to find him staring at her with eyes that held a curious blankness. Similar to that open stare that was tuned to absorb details, there was something slightly different about it she’d never seen before.

Absently, her free hand moved to brush light fingers across his face, as if she’d be able to ascertain the information she sought that way. There was nothing there for her fingers to find, except his lips, turning to meet her fingers as they brushed by. The sensation that welled up from a place deep inside her at this small gesture caught in her throat. She correctly read the same reaction happening in him.

Propping himself up slightly to rest his head on one hand, he lightly played his other hand across her hip bones, bringing another smile to her face. He realized he liked that he could do that to her, a reaction that hadn’t been on his original list of manipulations. She watched him, watching her, similar thoughts whispering through her head.

The soundproof structure wasn’t enough to cut them off from the outside world, their heightened senses able to detect subtle nuances even through the technology that kept the villagers from hearing what was inside. As one, they responded to an unknown stimulus, experienced training giving them the only information that mattered: a threat was moving towards the village.

Snapping back to the soldiers they were, the two were up, dressed, and to observation posts before checking to see if the other was following similar protocol. Their experience together had bonded an illogical trust, so neither looked for the other directly, simply knowing the others position intuitively as they did the room they were in, the air currents that moved around them, even how their own muscles carried them through necessary movements.

Her first priority had been to move to the monitors showing every angle of the village outside, seeking the reactions of the villagers below. Were they aware of the danger?

His reaction had been to check with the long-range perimeter monitors, night and thermal scans that constantly monitored the area.

Confident whatever threat had alerted their senses was still a ways off, her next priority was to retrieve weapons that she’d been briefed to use only in extreme circumstances. Never questioning the feeling, she knew whatever was coming was what they had been talking about.

Already carrying these types of weapons, he moved downstairs, while she rolled out the crates that held her supply of them. Decaying gear from times past sandwiched the weapons hidden within, and as she removed those things that might divert questing eyes, she felt his return. Rather than look behind her to validate what she already knew, she continued her quest, pausing for a moment as something within her told her to grab more than she thought she’d need. Holding one of the old backpacks up from the rest, she allowed calculations to arrange in her mind.

Curious to her sudden pause, knowing she was calculating something, but not the what of it, he moved to her periphery to better see what she was staring at. An old backpack, used ages ago by a different type of soldier, was in her hands, held up in front of her. Deduction assumed what she must be figuring, that she’d need more than she could carry for whatever was moving towards them.

In an unjustified response, he followed her lead. His position was different than hers, with a group to rendezvous with that meant his need for supplies was considerably different than hers, but still, he had attuned his thoughts to hers, so was forced to follow the impulse.

Surprised when he knelt over her to take another of the decaying packs from the crate, she allowed this new information to enter into calculations of a non-solitary approach to whatever was coming. Calculations she had never been trained to accurately make. This new data stopped her movements, holding her gaze on the male with new consideration.

He met hers, forgetting momentarily that she was a Solitaire, with no experience working with another. This was her station, so it was her to lead. Her hesitation confounded him.

Though untrained to create a plan with these parameters, she was able to use her extraordinary abilities at deduction. He worked in a group, this solitary scouting that was part of whatever larger mission he was a part of atypical for him. He had others he would rendezvous with, most likely close enough to this location that he was able to walk in from beyond her range of monitoring. Were they close enough to relay information? Or lend assistance?

Figuring she knew what was coming, and what they could want from this place, he broke protocols by speaking before her, figuring it was her solitary nature that had kept her silent on her plan, “What brings them?”

Her return gaze was a surprise. Never had he been assigned a mission without complete disclosure. That she had been placed here, with no reason, no knowledge to what might come, or for what, startled him to stillness. Were they on their own?

Yours can bring aid?”

Not without leaving this place to what comes. My time is not up.”

She understood he meant that there was no communication scheduled until it was too late, and for him to leave to alert them would put her, and the village, against what was coming by themselves. But, that was what they had done. Put her here with no information, and no allies. They must have known this situation was possible, but they also had sent him in to scout.

We must stay.”

He nodded, accepting this decision as cleanly as he would have any other decision. Whatever was coming, it was the two of them that would hold this place against whatever it was they were coming for.

Leaving the structure silently, careful not to alert the villagers that something was up, the two separated, leaving the clearing where the village was nestled to scout the forest surrounding it. Whatever was coming, was powerful, their heightened senses still unable to pinpoint where they were, or how many there might be.

His sudden tension blew through her conscious as he was ambushed, reading his subtle surprise that they’d taken him this way. He’d never seen them coming, until it was too late.

Her legs raced to where he’d been scouting, arriving where she’d known he’d been, finding only the pack he’d taken from her stash laying in the fallen leaves, no trace to what had caught him in the surrounding area.

Searching outward with her senses, there was the faint touch of him, hidden tightly behind something she couldn’t put her finger on.

A spark flared inside her, alerting her that she hadn’t escaped this fate either. Knowing it was too late, she spun, bringing a pistol to bear with one hand, while slashing with steel with the other.

Three went down, but there were too many for her to take out alone.

The next battle in the great war was about to begin, and the first hostages had been taken.

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