As Erik awoke from the darkness, he was aware of three things. First, he was in a lot of pain. Second, he was bound upright. Third, he was naked. Well, it wasn’t like this was the first time this had happened during his career as an Imperial agent. Hell, there was a scenario during training that was pretty much exactly like it. Erik was pretty sure he was in more pain during the training scenario than he was now, although to be fair, those things were hard to judge.

Erik didn’t sense any emotions around him, but that didn’t mean much. Those creatures he’d been fighting didn’t give off any psi-scents. There weren’t even any residual psi-scents in the room. He spent a moment just listening. Erik couldn’t hear anyone breathing or any sounds other than the clinking of the chains holding him up. Erik cracked open his eyes. It was completely dark. He couldn’t even see his own body as he looked around. The air around him was cool and dry with no noticeable scents. He was standing on some sort of gymnastics mat from the texture and padding. His arms were stretched out and supported by metal shackles. His sides were shooting pain through the rest of his body. Well, they hadn’t fixed him.

I need to get an idea of where I am, Erik thought to himself. Then, maybe try and figure a way out of here. He probed the room telekinetically. It was a decent sized room, maybe three meters by four by three. The chains were anchored to the ceiling. Erik couldn’t sense anything that felt like a door. He slumped forward and gritted back the pain from his ribs. Controlled probes were physically draining.

A door in front of Erik slid open. He shrank back from the sudden blinding light that filled the room. He heard someone walk into the room and could smell the expensive perfume as it wafted over to him. He couldn’t feel her emotions. The lights dimmed and Erik cracked his eyes back open. Glowing blue eyes met his. He tried to focus only on those blue eyes rather than the creature’s all-too-human form. The all-too-female human form. As she strode over to him, Erik could feel her soft touches in his mind. He clamped down hard as the creature gave him a seductive smile.

“What were you doing just now, Mr. Williams?” the creature purred. Erik barely stopped himself from answering. He studiously looked past her to where the door had opened. Could he force that door open with his powers? His thought were disrupted as he felt her warm caress on his cheek. She gently pushed his face to hers. Those glowing blue eyes reminded Erik of that movie Jason forced him to sit through. That one about the desert planet and the sound weapons. What was it called again?

“Mr. Williams, I need you to tell me what you were trying to accomplish,” the creature asked, bringing him back to the present. Erik bit his lip hard enough to taste blood. If he answered one of her questions, Erik wasn’t sure if he could stop himself from answering all of them. The creature breathed deeply before giving Erik a seductive half-smile.

“You didn’t have to do that just for me,” she said. Her hand moved faster than Erik could track. She pulled his bottom lip down and licked the blood. Electric waves of pleasure shot through Erik. He felt the pain in his sides dull and a slight giddy cloudiness come over his mind. It felt like he’d just been jabbed with strong narcotics. Worse, he could feel his body wanting more. What the hell was this woman?

“Are you going to tell me now, Mr. Williams?” the woman asked. Erik shook his head. Why was she calling him, “Mr. Williams”? Oh yeah, Erik Williams was his cover. Why did he have a cover again? Something for the Saint, he was pretty certain. That man always had some odd job he needed Erik to do. Pain lanced through his head as the creature forced her psychic presence into his mind. Erik pushed her back out, but it took more strength than he could spare. Erik was sure that the creature saw parts of his mind. Damn it. Sam had proved more than once how dangerous even a glimpse could be.

Those blue eyes pulsed for a moment and Erik’s head rocked as she slapped him. Blood dribbled from his mouth as he spit out a tooth. Without another word, the creature spun on her heel and stormed out of the room. The room was plunged back into darkness. Erik stared at the door. What had he done to piss that creature off, and could he do it again?

The pain from his sides flared back up to join his head’s aching. The pain was bad enough, but Erik could feel his desire for that drug rising again. One of the advantages of being forced through the Imperial Psi-Academy was that Erik had built up the strength of will that allowed him to separate his mind from his body. It helped being able to keep his rationality when his body was screaming for the touch of the drug again. Still, he was human. At some point, his will was going to break. He had to find some way out before that happened. Erik carefully tugged on the chains with his power. Maybe if he rested a bit and regained some of his mental strength, then he could yank down one of the chains.

A hissing sound started above Erik. He felt upward with his power. It was some sort of nozzle spraying some sort of gas. That couldn’t be a good thing. Erik started feeling dizzy. It didn’t feel like a nerve gas. Erik relaxed and breathed in the odd-scented fumes. Sometimes the best way to deal with adversity was just to embrace it and force your way through it. After a few breaths, Erik felt his eyelids grow heavy. His pain was dulled. A few more and the blackness consumed him.