Alexei Iskakov had had a long night. Sometimes you bring in the head of a bounty, and the client gets pissy about a missing tooth. The resulting 'negotiation' only got him 70% of the agreed price, and led to a long night of drinking and ranting at his favorite bartender. He kicked an adbot, blaring promos for "forbidden erotic services" out of his way, and climbed aboard the Tamerlan.
"Hey babe, I'm home." he turned the lights on with a wave of his hand
"Welcome back master." Tamerlan purred "There is an unexpected lifeform presence in your cargo hold."
"Rats?" he sighed "I told you how to deal with rats."
"No master, by my readings, it is a humanoid, or something of similar size and profile."
"Fuuuuuck this is the last thing I needed today." he pulled out his stun baton in one hand, and his gun in the other "Give me an overlay."
A display popped up in his eyes, giving a tactical overlay of the ship, and sure enough, a crouching silhouette of a human behind several water barrels.
Zarina could remember very little. She remembered her family, taking off from Pamuengpeuk, and boarding the Tianhe station, before being shot off into hibernation in a life among the stars, Proxima Centauri to be exact.
She didn't know where she woke up, it had taken a while for her short term memory to start working again, but she knew she had been running for a while. The ships in the spaceport she was in were like nothing she had ever seen, but she knew that she needed to get out of where she was. When a cocky, long haired young man left his ship open, twirling his bag and letting the door close automatically behind him, she had slipped in.
Now, everything was dark, but by feel she found some packets of dried ramen, and tore into them greedily, until the light of the cargo bay door opening hit, and she scurried behind a stack of barrels.
"Fuck, it's the cartel here about my debts."
Alexei's bad day had gotten worse.
"Tamerlan, take off, if I don't cancel orders myself, initiate protocol eighty in twelve minutes."
The ship roared to life, leaving the station. Alexei had been through a few liftoffs like this, and maintained his balance, hoping that whoever had gotten in would be thrown off.
"Come on out. Let's make this easier for both of us." he said, cautiously advancing into his hold "I don't want to die but neither do you."
Zarina, distracted by the presence entering the hold she had hidden in, was thrown off her feet. The man was saying things, in a language that sounded like Chinese, but she could only pick a few words out. He approached her position straight off, as if he knew exactly where she was. In desperation, she reached around, her hand landing on a bottle. She pulled it back to strike as he came around the corner.
A bottle very narrowly missed Alexei's head, as he sunk the cold prongs of his stun baton into his intruder's neck.
"Alright, lets... fuck, it's just a kid."
The girl he had stunned was hardly over twenty, gasping for air in a very old school colonist's uniform, like you would see on a bad drama.
"I'm pulling you out of the hold, and you're gonna thank me later" He dragged the intruder's limp body by her shoulders "As Captain of this ship, all your current possessions are forfeit to me and therefore you..." he reached for her wallet, finding nothing "You... Fuck I'm gonna have to wait till you wake up"
Alexei went to his cabinet, and pulled out a generous length of rope "But lets make sure you don't cause any trouble while I drive"
Zarina came to, looking at her own feet. A rope connected them, uncomfortably, to her neck, bending her forward. She tried to yell, only to realize her mouth was filled with a round ball of hard rubber. She screamed into it anyway, trying to move her arms, but finding them pinned behind her, able to do little more than shrug. Ahead of her, she saw a man in a pilot's seat. He slowly turned around, gripping her chin in his hand, and giving a command she could not understand.
The hand on her chin quickly moved to her hair, pulling her up savagely and choking her on the ropes around her neck, repeating the same phrase from before. The man looked angry. A hard slap followed, and he turned around to continue piloting his ship. Zarina let her head drop, and began sobbing.
Where am I? Why is this happening?
Alexei turned back to guiding his ship into the warp gate. The ship shuddered, then slipped into the fog of hyperspace. He had to get that fixed, and soon, but it was expensive. Fortunately, he might have just found his meal ticket. He wouldn't be able to send it, but he began drafting a listing for the encrypted app he used to buy and sell guns, drugs, and the occasional unpaid bounty.
"Name... no idea. Registration... I'll have to get one from Yuri. Age... I'll put 21, looks accurate. Height, 155 cm, give or take, weight, about 55 kilos. Hair, black, Eyes..."
He paused, and spun his chair back around. The girl was crying. Frankly, he didn't blame her. She had been stripped to her panties, and he had tied her arms and chest in a strict box tie, followed by a shrimp tie between her feet and neck, and gagged her with a ballgag. Maybe he had been a bit mean with the slap, it looked like she honestly didn't understand him.
Alexei loosened up the tether from her neck to ankles, letting her straighten her back out almost, but not quite, all the way. He pushed her thick, black hair out of her face. She had big, dark, brown eyes, currently wet with tears, and a pleasant, round face with olive skin. He reached around to the back of her head and unbuckled the strap of the gag.
"Take a few breaths, this is going back in soon."
The girl quickly started babbling and sobbing what sounded like questions to Alexei, but he couldn't understand a thing she was saying. He put two fingers on her mouth, and she got the hint fairly quick.
"What is your name?"
She didn't understand, obviously. Alexei sighed, crouched in front of her, and pointed at himself.
"Iskasov." he pointed at her and shrugged "You?"
To her credit, the girl was able to figure out what he meant fairly quickly.
"Zarina. Zarina Na-" he cut her off.
"Zarina? No. Fuck that." he thought for a moment then pointed at her "Sofiya."
She didn't seem to get it.
"Zar-" he slapped her again.
"Sofiya. That's your name now."
The girl opened her mouth again. Before she could get a syllable out, he pushed the hard rubber of the ball back between her teeth.
"Good girl Sofiya." he patted her on the cheek after strapping the gag back behind her head. "You're gonna make me a lot of money if I play my cards right."
As she made noises of protest into the gag, Alexei finished making the ad, saving it so he could post it after leaving hyperspace. He mulled over people who might buy the girl. He could sell her to the Bratva, but they would hardly pay full price. Jaime and Malcolm, his frequent business partners, could use a maid, but she wasn't quite the kind of eye candy the couple would like. Galena, his on-again-off-again girlfriend would appreciate a toy, but she rarely had much money on her. He yawned. Time to get some rest. But first, he needed to secure his captive a little more safely.
Zarina (not Sofiya, what is this psycho thinking?) saw the man get up and walk behind her. She tried to strain her neck to see what he was doing, but it was already sore and stiff from being in such an uncomfortable position for so long. She was relieved, and not a little surprised, when she felt the ropes on her neck loosen and fall away, allowing her to finally stretch her back. That relief dissipated when she felt the cold, hard pressure of a steel collar around her neck, and heard the click of it locking. She tried to protest, but the damn gag turned it into little more than frustrated moans, and she hung her head in defeat, not resisting as he cuffed her hands and shackled her feet, but quietly crying. After she was cuffed, the man undid the ropes binding her, pulling her to her feet by a loop attached to the collar, saying something she couldn't quite grasp but figured meant get up.
Summoning the last bit of defiance left in her tired body, Zarina went limp. The man uttered a string of what must have been expletives and prodded her with his foot. She stuck to her guns, doing her best to just be a ragdoll. After about a minute the man (Iskasov?) grabbed her by the hair, forcing her to her feet. The pain was too much to keep up the dead weight act, and she stood up. Alexei pulled her to the back of his ship, while she stumbled over the shackles, to where a cage sat on a sturdy table.
"Something something, Sofiya, something" He gestured at the open door to the cage. She didn't want to give him the pleasure of acknowledging the name he had picked for her, and stood stock still. A slap on her ass and a rough tug on her hair though, were enough to get her to clumsily climb in to the cage, bending onto her knees and leaning forward to fit. She wished she could at least use her hands to hold herself up.
Iskakov pointed to a water bottle hanging on the side of the cage in front of her face, then to a bowl of tofu-like substance just below her head. Smiling, he tousled her hair, and slammed and locked the cage door. As he walked away, she moaned against the gag. She couldn't eat or drink like this. Iskakov looked almost sheepish for a moment, and reached between the bars unbuckling the strap that help the ball in her mouth. He rubbed her head again, said something in his language, and walked off to another part of the ship. Zarina stretched her mouth. At least this was warmer than the cargo hold.
Alexei plopped down on his cot, going over the ad once again. Sofiya had nice, sad, soft eyes. He thought for a moment about keeping her. He knew it was a bad idea. But still...
He poured himself two fingers of whiskey. They wouldn't be out of hyperspace for 16 hours at best. He'd get over it. She was cute, but he'd known a lot of cute girls, and a few cute guys. He sighed, drained the cup, and rolled over, drifting into sleep.