Shadows in Mind Ch. 02byJoshuaX©
Although history has plenty of references to the existence of Psionic abilities, it wasn't until the Expansion that any substantial evidence was recorded. Actual verifiable instances of telepathy, empathy, and telekinesis began showing about half a century into the Expansion. At first, it was assumed these new senses were the result of a next stage in human evolution. In was not until the end of the human-werian war that the truth was discovered; cross breeding between humans and werian prisoners and civilians, mostly refugees, during the war had created a new race of half-breeds, carrying genes from both species. As the centuries passed, the werian culture declined, to near extinction; while in human space, the werian genes continued to mix, passing down through the generations.
Although not much is understood about how the genes are passed, or what determines how certain psionic abilities will manifest, it is clear we have this once great civilization to thank for our next stepping stone in genetic pool.
-Excerpt from The PsiCorps and You, a recruitment book published by the Republic Psi division, circa 1008AF
When he opened his eyes, Tripper saw something he had never seen before, outside of the vids; he gasped in surprise, taking in air that tasted strange, fresh and clean; there was a bit of an odor -perfume or spices -that was not unpleasant, just unfamiliar. Above him, filling his eyes with wonder, a blue sky stretched on seemingly forever, imposing and beautiful.
"Careful," a soft voice warned, the tone filled with concern. "You have been in stasis for over a month, and it will take a bit to get used to the changes."
"What changes?" Tripper demanded, looking around from where he lay, on some kind of gurney. A short thin man -dark skinned and well groomed -stood next to him, dressed only in a black thong and a number of leather belts that crisscrossed his body.
The man smiled at him softly. "I am Cinnamon," the man offered. He nodded his head, pointing at Tripper. "While you were sleeping, Mistress initiated some... Upgrades."
Tripper glanced down, and gasped again. He was as naked as he had been on the ship, restrained in the dark, but that was hardly the source of his shock; he barely recognized the body he looked down on. His chest, once shallow and little more than flesh draped casually over bone, had filled out, his muscles feeling tight and strange. He had never had much body hair, but now his skin was so smooth it glistened, every hair below his head gone as if it had never existed; even his genitals, below a stomach far more defined that he recalled ever seeing it, were smooth and hairless.
"What the drek?" he cursed, and immediately regretted it. Pain split through his head like blaster fire, ripping his skull into pieces; he clutched at it as if to keep the pieces together, and cried out at the pain. His vision dimmed, and for a moment he was afraid he would black out.
Cinnamon glanced at him and winced, a look of pity in his eyes. "Please, you cannot swear. It is not permitted."
He sat up slowly, still holding his head. "What the-" he paused, considering the pain still throbbing in his skull, and rephrased what he had planned on saying. "What happened to me? And what was that?"
Cinnamon nodded knowingly. "While in stasis, you underwent an intensive treatment, including intravenous nutrients, nanite reconstruction, laser hair removal and skin conditioning, and a number of internal medical procedures, inoculations and the like. While you won't be entering any weight lifting competitions, you aren't the scrawny bag of bones Mistress brought onboard either. As for the pain..." the other man paused, his eyes again showing pity and concern. "While in stasis, you also went through rather rigorous mental training. Among other things, you will not be permitted to swear."
"Brainwashing," Tripper muttered. He had seen enough vids to know it was possible, and very, very illegal.
Cinnamon nodded, and then immediately glanced around as if he was worried someone would notice. "I would highly recommend you accept your new position here," the man went on, his eyes down. "The pain you felt now is nothing compared to what Mistress can do. You must do exactly what She says, no matter what it is. Do not even think of escape; She will know, and will not be pleased." He glanced up, and something like devotion showed in his eyes when he continued; "Mistress can be kind, too. She will reward obedience."
Tripper grumbled something, and hoped whatever trigger was implanted in his mind did not recognize it as an almost-formed swear word. He didn't like the idea that someone had been playing about in his head, and wondered what other traps had been left for him.
He stood up from the gurney, and glanced around, taking in his surroundings; he let out a little whistle, impressed and a little in awe. He and the slave Cinnamon were both standing in a clearing amongst thick trees, a spaceship next to them -a graceful thing of shining metal, looking as if it were spun like a spider's web, rather than built. In front of them, the clearing opened further, and a stone walkway led the way down to a sprawling estate, unlike anything he had ever seen in the Sewer. It looked like a palace, constructed of steel and glass, towers and spires piercing the sky. Around the building, he could make out gardens and walkways, fountains and sculptures, everything immaculate and carefully tended. His mind could barely cope with the fact that such a place could even exist.
"Mistress went ahead, on her palanquin ," Cinnamon spoke cautiously, almost as if he was afraid to offend. "She left it to me to bring you down to the estate. She did not specify any instructions for waking you; I thought you might appreciate this view more than the inside of a spaceship. After your ordeal, I was hoping it would be soothing, and offer some comfort."
"I don't know what's going on, hey, but the view is pleasant enough." He glanced at the other man, and his eyes narrowed. "Now what? How about some clothes?"
Cinnamon smiled, and Tripper couldn't help but think he was starting to like the man. Something about him radiating peace, a calmness that seemed to draw him in. "I can't offer you garments, but in this climate you have no fear of suffering from a chill. Now, I need to return this gurney to the med-bay on the ship, and then we will walk on down to the estate. You can wait outside, and continue to enjoy the view." The man paused, and his face took on an expression of regret. "I'm sorry... You will not leave the clearing, Sewer Rat."
It was subtle, but at the man's last words, Sewer Rat, something in his head clamped down; he knew immediately that something had been triggered, some kind of compulsion, and he knew that leaving the clearing would be physically impossible. He scowled.
"I'm sorry," Cinnamon whispered again. "I have no choice, either. And if you managed to get away, Mistress would have my hide." He bobbed his head, a silly motion that seemed to be meant to both offer an apology and shrug it off as something out his control. "Please, enjoy the view."
Cinnamon took the handles on the gurney, and started to push it towards the ship. Tripped watched him go, still scowling. The dark skinned man reached the ship, and started up the boarding ramp, disappearing from view.
"Sewer Rat," he grumbled. "I take offence at that, hey." He turned from the ship, and started down the walkway a short ways, watching the tree-line from the corner of his eyes, careful not to stray further than he was allowed. The clearing they were in was high up in the mountains; he could see mountain peaks all around them, sticking up from above the trees. The walkway followed the slope downwards to the estate, perched on a larger clearing on the slopes of the mountain.
Tripper frowned; the fact that he was strolling naked along a mountain path on an alien world sinking in a bit. The last he remembered from his journey were bits and pieces of his detox; flashes of pain and suffering, and memories he had thought gone forever clubbing him over the head with all the subtlety of a Sec's raid. He remembered... His mother. With a mental shove, he pushed the memory away; he had enough to worry about, he thought grimly, without worrying about someone that had been gone for fifteen years or so.
He reached the edge of the clearing, where the ground fell away in a gradual slope down to the estate, and let out a low whistle; the view made it easier to shove aside his mental anguish, at least for the moment. From his vantage at the crest of the hill, he could make out the plains below; a deep valley was nestled amongst the rocky slopes, an area of green bigger than anything he had imagined. Rivers, forests and grasslands filled the valley, with roads leading down from the mountains to one central spot in the center; and there, a city.
"The City of Light, great Lamoria," a voice from behind narrated, and he knew Cinnamon had returned. "He's beautiful, isn't he? The most beautiful place on the planet. I have only been there a handful of times myself; if you are lucky, perhaps Mistress will take you someday."
Even at such a distance, Tripper could make out a fair bit of detail. The city was laid out like a bicycle wheel, a circular layout with wide streets joining rim to hub; at the center stood a delicate looking tower, stretching up far above the city, as intricate and fragile as an icicle, shimmering brightly in the sunlight. The scale of everything –mountains, estate, the valley below, the city and the tower that must have stood hundreds of miles tall, even the sky itself – was overwhelming. He had spent his entire life sheltered in a steel cave. It was too much; he shook his head, feeling dizzy.
"Let's walk," Cinnamon offered softly, resting a hand on Trippers shoulder. The dark skinned man opened his mind, and let comforting emotions spill out to the other man. He could clearly sense how overwhelmed the newcomer was feeling, Trippers mind a churning mass of confused emotions. "We can talk on the way, and I will explain some things."
Tripper nodded gratefully, and they started down the stone road. "What does she want with me?"
"Your tor," Cinnamon answered; at the blank look on Tripper's face, he explained further. "Like an aura. Some powerful psionics, like Mistress, can sense ability in others, and what type it is; empathy, telepathy, telekinesis, pyrokenisis and some other less common types. This is called tor; Mistress is one of those that can sense it. She was on Trandor for other business, but took a detour down to your level seeking a new slave with a strong tor. Down there, no one would notice someone disappearing."
"Wait, you saying she wants me 'cause I'm some kind of psychic? That's crazy."
Cinnamon nodded. "Usually she can tell what type, but with you she couldn't; but she did say she thought you were unusually strong. Mistress takes pride in her possessions; the stronger they are, the stronger She is. And here you are."
"That's-" Tripper started, and cut off with a grumble. "This no swearing thing is a pain in the... arg... butt. Listen, hey, that's nuts. I'm just a jake and sometime skimmer, I ain't nobody. And I don't know nothing about no magic powers."
"I've never known Mistress to be wrong," Cinnamon said with a smile.
"And if she is? I go home?"
Cinnamon shook his head. "No, there are plenty of slaves in Lamoria with no Tor. You would be sold to another household, and find a place there. Mistress is a bit eccentric in that; while Psionics are very common here, only Mistress insists that everyone in her household have a tor, slave or not. I have never heard of another Mistress making such a rule."
"So what are you, then? Some kind of mind reader?"
"Not exactly. I am an Empath. I cannot hear thoughts, only emotion; and to a lesser degree, I can feed emotion back unto others. Mistress paid a lot for me; she sought my tor, specifically, and paid for it. Once I arrived, she spent years training me in the manly ways; how to dress and act, how to serve, and how best to please her. I am her First," he added proudly, "and her favorite, because of my tor. For whatever reason, male Empaths are rather rare."
"You are some kind of sex slave?" Tripper guessed. "Reading what feels good for her and what don't? That would have been useful back in the Sewer; I'd have been the Prince of the Jakes."
Cinnamon smiled. "Among other things, yes, I serve her sexual needs. But any of the slaves are expected to serve Mistress in that way, or any of the other women of the household. It is our duty."
"That doesn't sound so bad," Tripper admitted with a grumble.
"Oh, no," Cinnamon exclaimed, "Far from it! It is an honor to be allowed to worship Mistress." He paused, and then hastily added, "Or any of other women."
"So tell me about this place," Tripper asked, changing the subject. The way the other man beamed when he talked about their mistress concerned him a bit. And no matter how pleasant their duties might sound, he didn't like the idea of anyone forcing him to do anything. "Looks like I be staying a while."
"I was born at another estate, here in Lamoria." Cinnamon explained as they walked; Tripper found the man's voice soothing, and a welcome distraction. "I've never known another world, so I am very familiar with how things work here"
"Lamoria. That's the name of the planet, too?" Tripper asked.
Cinnamon laughed softly. "I do not know. They do not tell us much; the city is Lamoria, as is the valley. We do not travel outside the valley – I have heard it is too dangerous, but I could not say why." The man glanced at him shyly, before continuing. "I have spent my whole life here, but I have learned enough to know how different it is; I have spoken to many slaves, like you, that come from off-world."
"Lamoria," Cinnamon continued, "is governed by the Goddess, from the Crystal Tower at the center of the City of Light. The city is not much different than any other; homes, business, factories, shops and restaurants. The difference is that here, by the Word of the Goddess, no man is free. Women run everything. When I was born, at another estate on the opposite side of the valley, my mother was Mistress there. As I child, I enjoyed all the freedom the girls enjoyed, but always knew my fate. When I reached adolescence, I was sold off to Mistress; I have been here ever since."
Tripper, having heard and experienced worse, nodded but remained silent.
The path ahead was growing short, and the massive building was drawing closer. "Listen," Cinnamon went on. "You need to know some things before we arrive, or you will be punished, and I'll be punished for not telling you. Do not look any woman in the eyes; in fact, you should look at the floor at all times. Do not talk to any woman unless they ask you a question. If anyone woman tells you to do something, as long as you are not hurting Mistress' property –including you! – you do it. If Mistress tells you to do something, by the Goddess, do it fast."
Tripper gestured at the other man's thong. "When do I get my clothes?"
"Once you have been accepted by the women of the household, you will get your collar, and your cover. Anything else will have to be earned. Listen, this will be the hard part, getting the other women's approval. This is Mistress' household, and technically, you are her slave, her property; but as a sign of respect to the other woman, they must approve of you joining the household. Some of them will test you. It will not be easy."
"I was never good at tests," Tripper muttered. "But I'm worse at waiting; let's go Cin."
Cinnamon glanced at him sharply, and lowered his voice to a panicked hiss; "You must not call me that. My name is Cinnamon. Only Mistress can call me that, she would not be pleased to hear you say it."
Tripper nodded with a smile, his mind working. "C'mon," he grinned, and started towards the house.
They entered through a small door, one that Cinnamon explained was meant for slaves. It took them through a narrow hallway at the back of the house, plain and unadorned. They moved quickly through the building, Cinnamon wringing his hands as they went, sensing emotions from the new slave that he was sure meant trouble. The man seemed amused, where he should have been anxious and afraid.
Soon enough, they emerged from the servant's hall, and stepped into a large foyer. Tripper gasped as he took it in, and Cinnamon smiled at the awe he felt coming from the younger man. The octagonal room was three or four stories high, a chandelier the size of a small spaceship -crafted from crystal and fiber optics- hung far above their heads. The walls were paneled in expensive looking wood –something Tripper was not used to seeing, the material being extremely rare and expensive back on Trandor –polished to a mirror shine, the finish a color somewhere between red and gold. The floor was stone, white and black and blue, set in intricate patterns of diamonds and squares, shining even more than the walls. Heavy metal doors, made of bronze or another dark metal, led out from each point of the octagon, their surfaces carved intricately with scenes of sexual debauchery; Tripper leered when he saw them.
Standing before one set of doors was a pair of men Tripper could only describe as giants. Each easily stood seven feet tall, imposing walls of muscle. The pair were clearly twins, sharing the same pale skin, blue eyes, blonde hair and grim expressions. They wore heavy looking boots, thongs that seemed noticeable fuller than Cinnamon's, and steel breastplates painted in blue and gold. Leather straps encircled their bodies at points that were clearly meant to highlight already bulging muscles; thighs and calves, biceps and forearms. Each held a tall spear that looked both vicious and functional.
At their approach, both guards turned as one, and opened the pair of heavy doors.
Taking it as an invitation, Tripper strolled into the room, aware that Cinnamon was tagging along behind him, radiating panic. He smiled, and let his gaze explore the room, his eyes sparkling with amusement. He felt their eyes on his naked body, but that concerned him not in the least; he was used to being looked at, and that was before he got the snazzy new upgrade.
The new room was mammoth, the focus a massive table set for dinner for the forty or so women that sat around it. Each woman watched him with a frown as he approached; the room was lined by slaves in similar apparel to Cinnamon, and they looked even less happy than the woman. At the head of the table, Mistress Victoria sat in a throne-like chair; she was dressed in a midnight black dress, her black hair hung loose, tickling her shoulders, and her lips were painted as black as her dress. Other than Tripper, she was the only one in the room smiling, a wicked smile that almost gave him pause.
"Eyes down!" Cinnamon hissed, but Tripper ignored him.
He sauntered past the women, very aware that their eyes followed him. He made a point of scratching his balls as he went, just to be rude, and his grin widened at the scowls he received. Tripper reached the head of the table, and stopped next to his host, making a point to look down at her impressive cleavage. Behind him, Cinnamon was muttering and shaking his head as he stared down at his feet.
"Ah!" Victoria exclaimed, rising to her feet next to Tripper. "My new plaything has arrived. Excellent. Everyone, this is our newest addition to the household, and I do hope you make him welcome, and that he meets your expectations. As is our custom, I have not yet named this one; you may refer to him as boy, or slave." She turned to face him, ignoring his arrogant expression, and her eyes bore into him, almost forcing him to take a step back. "Boy, I assume Cinnamon told you the rules?"