The ice cold water woke him up. He tried to stand up just to remember that his legs weren’t obeying him anymore, and the stumps he had for hands, weren’t helping him either.
“Time to wake up your highness,” one of his jailers mocked him, the bucket in his hands told Caracalla who to thank for his abrupt waking up. “Your food has arrived.”
Another man placed a food plate in front of him. It looked like dog food. Appropriate, Adze had said in the first days, when she still visited, mocking him for having to eat like a dog now that he had no hands to hold a spoon.
“Aren’t we going to help him?” The one that had given him his food asked, a young man, a new face.
“That animal doesn’t deserve help, he’s a traitor, during his time in this sector, he left nothing but death.” The young man didn’t say anything else, just looked at Caracalla.
Caracalla waited until he was alone to crawl a little closer to his food and eat. He didn’t want more witnesses to his humiliation.
Since his return to Adze’s sector, many had gone to see his fall, to mock him and torment him. He hated the stupid idiots, who cried the death of that worthless major, just like Adze did. But he thought he had done them a favor, by freeing them of such a stupid person, how good could a warrior be, if he was naïve enough to fall into his traps so easily? But some didn’t get it, and still mourned that stupid Vlad.
Once he finished eating, he analyzed his situation once again. It had been a couple of months since the battle, just over a month since Adze had dragged him back and threw him into that cell. They had put a power suppressor on him and without his telepathy there was no way he could take control of his jailers. But those bitches that insisted on ruining his life were too stupid to realize that he still had a trick in his bag. Even with the power suppressor he could visit the astral planes.
Caracalla had been very careful, and hiding from the astral sentinels, he had visited his old allies, looking for help. It was a matter of being patient, his faithful followers were going to rescue him and they would find someone to fix his legs. His hands were another matter, he would have to find a replacement for them, maybe a blade he could use to pierce Adze’s and Kaiserin’s hearts. But first, he needed the suppressor gone, he was sure that once his powers were back, he would be able to recover everything that was rightfully his.
He expected the usurper to be enjoying her time on the throne, because once he was ready, he was going to make her pay for every single one of the humiliations he had suffered. What he had done the first time would be nothing compared to what he was planning for her.
Caracalla fell asleep without noticing, he woke up when the door of his cell opened. The young jailer that had visited in the morning entered the room, he was pushing a trash can, like the one the slaves used when they were cleaning his room.
“We don’t have much time,” the young man said. “My name is Alfil, and some of your friends asked me to get you out of here, they’re waiting for you.”
“It’s about time,” Caracalla complained. “What’s that for?” He eyed the trash can suspiciously.
“It’s the only way I can get you out of here.” Alfil took Caracalla in his arms and put him inside the trash can, then he covered him with a bag.
During his travel Caracalla started to get more and more angry. How did he dare treat him like that? His enemies would laugh at him if they knew he was being transported like a piece of trash. But there was nothing he could do about it, but think about it and plan how he would make the young man pay for that humiliation.
Alfil was using a slave to transport the trash can, because it was less suspicious, he got Caracalla out of jail first and then out of the base. At last, they got him out of the trash can and put him in the bed of a truck, they covered him with blankets and Alfil drove to the meeting point while the slave was forced to walk back inside the base.
After a couple of hours they finally stopped, the young man got into the bed of the truck and helped Caracalla out. As soon as Caracalla took a look around, he knew something wasn’t right, he had called several dozen of his followers, but only ten of them were there.
“Where are the others?” He asked, clearly mad, while Alfil unloaded him and put him against one of the walls of the cave they were hiding in.
“I don’t know, we were the only ones here,” Agripina answered, he knew he could count with her, she was one of the most devoted of his followers.
“This must be a mistake.” Caracalla couldn’t accept that his orders had been ignored, that they hadn’t answered to his call.
“Don’t worry, once we get you out of here and people hear about your escape, more people will be willing to come to you.” Pepi said.
“Why are you still laying there?” Perdicas asked. “And what the hell happened to your arms?”
“The bitch cut them out, my legs are broken and my powers blocked. I need someone to take the suppressor asap, and I need a healer to fix my legs.”
“It’s a problem with his spine,” Alfil supplied, “the doctors said that he wasn’t going to be able to move his legs again.”
“The doctors don’t want me to walk again, but I know that all I need is a healer and I will be able to walk again.”
“And how can I take this out?” Toregene asked, she bent over Caracalla and tried to take the suppressor off, but an electric discharge that stunned both her and Caracalla stopped from trying again. “What the hell was that?!”
“The suppressor is configured in a way that only a technopath or technokinetic can take it off, is an extra protection.” Alfil explained.
“So.. What do we do now?” Toregene asked. “We can’t drag a cripple across the Empire.”
“Don’t you dare speak of me like that!” Caracalla warned.
“You’re lucky he still has his suppressor on or you would have ended like Nebet,” Agripina said. “Caracalla doesn’t like to be insulted.”
“What do you mean? You know what happened to Nebet?” Pepi asked.
“I forgot,” Agripina said, alarmed,” you are Nebet’s brother!”
Silence extended in the cave where they were standing, no one dared speak. But Pepi’s mind was busy, searching the mind of the people reunited there, looking for the answers to the mystery of what had killed his sister.
“What does it matter what happened to Nebet?” Caracalla asked with disdain. “She was a traitor, she only got what she deserved.”
“She was one of your most loyal followers.” Pepi answered.
“She thought that Kaiserin was better than me.”
“Well, she IS better than you,” Pepi replied, “she’s the one sitting on the throne and you are here not even able to sit without help.”
“How dare you!?” Caracalla was losing his temper, but even he had to acknowledge that without his powers there wasn’t much he could do against a telepath like Pepi with full use of his powers.
“After what you did to my sister, I should just kill you.” Pepi exploded. “If that is how you pay back to your loyal followers, then I don’t want to have anything to do with you.” With those words Pepi stormed out of the place.
“He’s really mad,” Agripina observed, “it’s good that he didn’t read that you were one of the guys who raped his sister,” she told Perdicas, “or he would have killed you.”
“I believe that, Caracalla is lucky that he’s looking so pathetic that Pepi couldn’t kill him.” Perdicas answered.
“Who are you calling pathetic?” Caracalla was losing it. “If I had my powers you wouldn’t dare to talk like that!”
“But you don’t have them, and like that, you are worthless,” Perdicas said. I have lost too much of my time, I shouldn’t have come.”
“You can’t leave,” Caracalla threatened. “If you do, you will regret it.”
“Caracalla, you are not in a position to threaten anyone.” With that Perdicas walked out of the place, a few others followed him.
“You can’t leave! You owe me, I made you, everything you have is because of me!” Caracalla was yelling at them. “Do something, stop them!” He ordered those still hanging around.
“Well, Perdicas is right about something, this was a waste of time.” Agripina knelt beside Caracalla. “I mean, what use are you to me now?” For a moment Caracalla didn’t understand, then he noticed that Agripina’s hand had gone under his pants, he haven’t noticed her opening his zipper, and he didn’t feel her hand on him. “I admired you Caracalla, and I had a great time with you, but I won’t risk Kaiserin’s anger for a cripple like you. It would be too risky to help you and no warranty that is going to be worth my time.”
“You can’t leave me.”
“I’m sorry handsome, but I agree.” Toregene said. “It was fun, but is not anymore, I won’t fix you just so you do to me what you did to Nebet the first time I say something you don’t like.”
“Where are you going?” Caracalla asked Alfil when he saw him getting into the truck.
“I was payed to bring you here, I already did my part, what happens next is not my problem.”
Caracalla yelled at them, he ordered and threaten them to come back, but they weren’t listening to him, soon his anger dissipated and was replaced by incredulity. They were gone. He was completely alone.
Using his arms, he crawled toward the exit, he knew it was close, and he was convinced that all he needed was to talk to one of them and he could convince them to help them. After what felt like hours of crawling, he finally saw the exit. A figure was standing in the middle of it, he couldn’t see who it was, the sun was obscuring the figure and all he could make was the shape.
“Don’t just stand there, come and help me!” Caracalla demanded.
“And why would I do that?” Adze’s cold voice answered.
Caracalla couldn’t understand why things weren’t going his way, he deserved to rule, he deserved to be obeyed, he shouldn’t be in that situation.
“How did you find me?” He finally asked.
“We knew you were going to try something like this, so we had you under surveillance. We were ready to stop you and your men once you left the cave. Imagine our surprise when everyone left without you. We were sure a few of them were going to abandon you once they saw the pathetic creature you have become, but all of them? That’s better than we hoped for.”
“I will try again,” Caracalla warned. “I don’t care how many times you drag me back, I will find the way to get out again, and again. I still have people willing to help me, if not in this Clan, then in others.”
“Don’t worry Caracalla, I don’t intend to drag you back to jail.” Adze made a gesture with her hand and two other figures stepped closer to her. Caracalla noticed that the cave’s entrance getting smaller. “I finally understood what Kaiserin was talking about, you are not even worth my time, you’re already finished, your own men abandoned you, you don’t even command your own body anymore. I won’t waste my resources to keep you alive. I will see you in hell.”
It was impossible, no matter how hard he pushed himself, he knew he wouldn’t reach the entrance in time. They sealed him inside the cave, alone, in the darkness. He didn’t have the energy to look for another exit, he didn’t even know if there was one. Soon the noises started to get to him, insects started to crawl over him. A few hours, or maybe just a few minutes later, he heard the flapping of wings, the bats were going crazy, looking for an exit so they could go hunt. It wasn’t long before they started to look for something to eat inside the cave.