Axion swallowed the bitter air of the human world. "Resource repurposing" meant being stripped of his armor and fed into a flesh recycler. Maximillian continued to talk, probably instructing him on what to do while expecting total obedience, but Axion's mind was elsewhere. He had fought and killed dozens of species in the service of the Galactic Trade Commission. He had served the Empire of Imperatrix as loyally as any member of his people ever had. With one snap decision Axion broke his mind free from the tangled web of decades of indoctrination and faith. He would not be turning himself over to the callow treachery of Maximillian Xc8 Soak.

"I will report to the Well Meaning Gesture as rapidly as possible, my Lord. Axion out." Axion cut off the communications link and rose to his feet. He keyed the channel to Moxos, his representative on the surface and the only member of his force he would trust with sensitive information.

"What is it Axion?" The artificial life support devices Moxos used to survive were audible even over the static filled comms channel.

"Moxos, I have been ordered to return to Well Meaning Gesture for execution."

"I'm very sorry to hear that." Moxos replied sincerely.

"Do not be. Feel hatred towards me, my old friend, because I now turn my back on the great enterprise. I will not be returning to the Well Meaning Gesture. Get the forces aboard the drop ships immediately and head into orbit without me."

Moxos started to protest but then stopped himself, realizing that persuading his friend to be murdered was no better than silently accepting his treasonous decision.

"He will kill you eventually Axion."

"If I die, then I die on my own terms, not his. But he should fear me more than the wrath of the Trade Council, for if I meet Maximillian Soak Xc8 again the encounter will end badly for him."

Annabelle came to tentatively, her vision blurry and her head pounding. She drew in a ragged breath of air and became slowly aware that the weight of the Imperatrixian was no longer holding her down. She struggled to sit up but her bruised muscles would not allow it. Something large and dark closed around her arms and she felt herself being lifted to her feet. An enormous hand steadied her.

"Human." It was the voice of the alien, and fear chased away her wooziness. Her vision steadied and she could once again see the alien looking down at her.

"I am offer to you my surrender." The alien said, unbelievably.

Annabelle just stared at the creature, unsure what to do or say.

"I am your prisoner." It reiterated.

"That sounds good." Annabelle replied before falling into the swirling darkness of unconsciousness.

Axion caught her, slinging her easily over his shoulder and moving over to the two other females. Both were dead. He left them where they fell and began a slow and cautious ascent to the surface. Annabelle stirred softly against him, muttering curses that meant nothing to Axion's uneducated ears.

– Zack "Geist Editor" Parsons (@sexyfacts4u)

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