Dru groaned as she came to. Rolling over she let out a small sob as the coarse surface grated on her skin. She tried to sit up and immediately wished she hadn't – her head throbbed and the room spun, making her nauseous. Dru closed her eyes and let out a fresh groan. She held still, hoping to wait out the flood of pain when suddenly a cool hand was placed on her forehead.
“Don't do that,” a voice told her. “Just lie down, be still.” Dru slipped back down. When the throbbing had subsided, Dru opened her eyes to see a girl in her late teens hovering. She frowned.
“Who-?” she started and interrupted herself with a coughing fit. The girl patted her on the back until Dru recovered.
“Who am I?” the girl asked for her. Dru nodded weakly. “My name won't mean anything to you,” she said, “but does Umberchild ring any bells?”
Dru blinked, trying to think through the pain and fatigue.
“Umberchild?” she repeated. “Off Protag?” Umberchild bobbed her head.
“Uh hu,” she said. “That's me.” With caution Dru sat up and leant against the wall and gave the girl a long look.
“What are you doing here?”
“Well, I was at school and Cren and June and Ezra showed up-”
“My characters,” Umber said. “Cren is a half bat, June a half wolf and Ezra a dragon.”
“Okay,” Dru said with a frown. “Go on.”
“We decided to go to England, and got a few miles off the coast when this spaceship showed up and... and it shot Ezra.” Umber's voice cracked, and she took a few breaths before continuing. “Cren was able to catch us, but the spaceship pulled us in anyway and took us here with the other prisoners.” Dru opened her eyes and looked at Umberchild.
“There are others?” she asked. Umber bobbed her head.
“Uh hu, all Asheynas.” Dru sat up sharply, mostly ignoring her pain. Umber continued. “They told us Pirate Ash betrayed them. Instead of taking them to England, she brought them here instead.” Dru gaped, her eyes wide, thinking furiously.
“We have to-” she began, but Umber gripped her arm.
“No,” she said, her voice quaking. “Don't even think it. Bad things happen if you try to escape.” Umber backed away and curled up on her self. “Very bad things,” she muttered into her knees.
“Oh sweety,” Dru said and scooched over to hug the girl. “It's gonna be all right. Spockeh will notice I'm gone eventually, even he's not that stupid, and he'll come for us. We'll get out, I promise!” In answer, Umber pressed her face into her knees.
Just then there was the sound of a key in a lock. Dru looked up to see a door on the far end of the room opening. A quintessential thug stepped through.
“Boss wants to see you. Get up,” he said looking at Dru. Suddenly all her hurts came back at once, and fear won out over sarcasm.
“I said 'get up,'” the thug repeated in measured tones and took a step inwards. Dru felt Umber shrink against her. She gave the girl another quick hug, before carefully rising and walking forward. He head throbbed worse than ever now, and Dru was sure the guy was about to be wearing her dinner. He grabbed her roughly by the arm and dragged her outside.
The thug started to pull her along a dim industrial corridor, while another behind them locked umber in again. Dru screwed up her eyes. Frack any experience is a writeable experience, she thought, I want out! She opened her eyes when her escort pulled her to a stop. They had come to a halt just inside a small room filled with industrial shelving, ancient computer equipment and a really funky smell. Directly in front of her, sat at a terminal, was an aging Asian man, his hair hanging in greasy streaks down his back and his fat body drooping over the sides his office chair.
“Boss,” said the thug. The man turned and Dru was astounded by how ugly he was.
“Ah,” he said in a disproportionally high voice. “My dear, so glad you have awoken. I hope your nap was... pleasant.” The fat man grinned unpleasantly at her. Dru frowned. Something about him seemed familiar but she couldn't quite place him.
“I'm sorry,” she said. “Who are you?” The man's eyes widened and his jaw clenched. He waved a hand and the thug twisted Dru's arm behind her back. She gasped and gave a yelp.
“You!” said the Asian man, rising from his chair. “You who gave me a half-life! You who turned my people against me! How can you not know who I am?” The thug twisted tighter.
“Ow! I'm sorry!” Dru cried. “I'm sorry, I just don't!” The man came close to her, leaning down so his face was almost touching hers.
“My name is Sonasoda, and you are my author,” he said.
“Oh,” Dru said quietly. Then, before she could stop herself, she asked, “Is that your first or last name?”