A Slave to the Servants Ch. 21


"How many?" I asked quietly.

Ra looked at Hannah and me closely before she spoke. "Twenty-four half human children would not adversely affect the overall population. I don't wish to confuse Damien and his family, but you will understand Mama. Your genes, as Hannah calls them, will not dilute the Paterian gene pool enough to be harmful if they stay under twenty-four children."

"Breeding numbers have been low," Hannah whispered. "The women on this planet do not conceive easily. It has been getting worse and worse. Humans breed quickly, Nu-reeh knows this. She will use you to increase her numbers. The permission has been granted."

I sat and breathed slowly in and out. Hannah was strong, I told myself. My children would be strong, their testing showed it. I tried to calm myself.

"That is a large number..." I mused.

"Nu-reeh's computations," Ra said softly, "have told her you will be superior in this use."

Hannah growled at the comment and Ra calmly stroked her arm. I knew the phrasing, too. It was the way the men talked about slaves. They had not used that terminology around me in a long time. To them, I was no longer a slave. Obviously, to Nu-reeh, I still was.

In an effort to remain controlled I concentrated on my living child. She was so upset she was shaking lightly. I tried to find a way to calm her.

"Your letter was brilliant," I complimented her. "I found your message the second night."

Hannah grinned suddenly and even Ra looked proud. They had put a lot of time and thought into that letter. Hannah explained how hard it had been to leave it in the right spot. They wanted it found by honorable men and not pesky outlaws.

Kein commented how good the tami leaves were. My men all thanked them for the treat. The conversation over the box was casual and relaxed.

Crunching feet got our attention suddenly. Men's voices were coming into the forest.

"I love you, Mama," Hannah said rising and hugging me. "Stay strong, I'll see you again. We will find a way to fix this...somehow. We have to leave tonight, the women will fight us if we stay close to their men another night."

Ra gave me a quick squeeze and the girls melded back into the forest.

We stood and I heard Basin's voice boom out. He cursed and swore. The General was angry, Damien and his Brothers were being troublesome today. First the fighting, now they disappear and hang out with me.

Damien was noncommittal in his response and just led me back to the Keepers.

He had to walk me all the way to the beach, since everyone was already there. His presence caused a great deal of turmoil as the girls all looked up at him. They cried and looked down, everyone feared the new punishments.

The Keeper told Damien he would let the respective owners know who had looked at him without permission.

"No one looked at me," Damien said bluntly while stripping me of my ornamentation, so I could swim.

The Keeper politely disagreed and Damien got in his face. "No-one-looked-at-me," he said forcefully.

The Keeper backed down and Damien stalked back up toward the Keepers' compound.

I settled under a tree and several Earth girls wandered over. They wanted to know what I'd done to make my owner so easy going.

"I had his child," I said as the tears ran down my face.

That comment cut the questions off and the crowd wandered off quickly. Rose and Fuji stayed and I looked tearfully at them.

"Go," I said, "unless you want to watch me breakdown again. I'm a mess and it won't get any better."

They didn't leave. Rose and Fuji were loyal friends. In addition, they were curious. Something had obviously happened at lunch.

I told them everything. They sat in stunned questioning silence.

"How many children do they want from you?" Rose clarified with disbelief. "I knew women with many children, but twenty-four? It seems..."

"Surreal?" I laughed in a high falsetto. "Surreal like being kidnapped and sold to aliens? What else will seem surreal before I die? How long will I last if they breed me like that?"

I paused and really considered giving birth twenty-four times. My eyes stared blankly ahead as I remembered the pain of Hannah's birth. What if the babies were too big or positioned wrong? Would I get a C-section if I needed one or would I die in delivery on Nu-reeh's warm stone?

"I should just kill myself now and get it over with," I mused loudly looking out over the ocean.

I was lifted suddenly. The Keeper was carrying me away from the beach and my friends. I struggled and he just restrained me. He took me to the punishment room. My arms were bound to the wall and so were my feet. The blank divider lifted in front of my face.

"Slaves are not allow to harm themselves," he informed me before the door closed.

Just great, I thought. How much of my rant had he heard? Hopefully, he didn't understand if he did hear it.

Damien was going to be angry. He would never understand I didn't mean that literally. Christof might believe me, but if they'd had a bad enough day, he wouldn't listen. I lay my head against the wall and relaxed.

High screaming voices surprised me. When I heard Fuji and Rose yelling at each other, I felt shocked. The Keeper's voice told them slaves couldn't fight and I heard two dividers rise. The door closed and all was silent for a moment.

"Rose? Fuji?" I called hesitantly.

"Shh," I heard Rose say.

A sharp tip swung around my divider and then flipped back out. It had looked like Fuji's strange tail, which I'd only seen the once.

"We're alone, just the three of us," Fuji said happily a moment later.

Evidently, Fuji's tail could extend three times the length of her body. Besides being a sharp weapon, it had great sensing abilities and she had used it to check the room.

"I'm screwed," I said in English.

Rose laughed and translated for Fuji.

We talked casually for the afternoon. I chose not to perseverate on my new duty, so the conversation was varied. When it got late enough we kept the conversation very light, in case the men came in.

"Again," I heard Basin say, "this doesn't sound like a slave that wishes to die and two who are fighting."

The dividers dropped as Fuji's men agreed. We sounded like three happy friends left to talk without interruption all afternoon.

Basin stopped in front of me and released my bonds. He told me he was my Keeper for the evening. I was also informed that if I hurt myself on his watch, he would heal me well, so I could know true pain.

"Where are my Masters?" I asked hesitantly.

"They made the General angry," he said as he wrapped my ornamentation around me. "They are being punished."

We left the Keeper's compound and I stared into the forest beside it. I knew the thick growth hid my daughter and her Sister. Quickly and discreetly, I blew two kisses in that direction. I hoped my girls saw.

The transport landed in the main compound and I walked off with Rose. The men led us in a direction I didn't typically go. It wasn't clear to me where we were going.

I didn't look up. I watched their heels and followed with Rose. She took my hand in a comforting gesture and squeezed it as we walked.

The men were grumbling and griping. They didn't want to go, but they had to make an appearance. It was expected of them, even if it was their friends.

"We do not take part, we only observe," Basin said. "We cannot help, but we will not assist."

That made no sense to me. The statement in itself was contradictory. All the men agreed with him, though.

We walked through an assembled crowd all facing the same way. Wherever we were everyone was watching the same thing.

I heard it. The sound of a man's pained grunt in front of me. I'd recognize Christof anywhere. My head jerked up and the sight took my breath away.

My family stood on a low platform with their hands chained over their heads. Their shirts had been stripped. All of them were bleeding and I could see bruises forming on their faces and stomachs. Another Warrior was currently pummeling Christof in the abdomen.

It was a gut reaction, built from memories that weren't mine. I leapt on the stage to defend my Brother. The man hitting Christof had a short sword on his leg, so I took it.

Positioning myself in front of Christof, I lunged at the man. He side stepped away from me with surprise on his face. I moved toward him again along the length of the platform, my weapon at the ready. Before I'd made contact I was grabbed.

Arms around mine I could have handled. Legs were a different story and I was dragged back scraping my knees on the stage as I fell.

"Stay still!" Evan demanded tightening the strange grip he held me in.

Twisting my head I saw him staring down at me. All his weight was on his battered wrists and the blood was flowing down his arms. He didn't loosen his grip even after the knife fell from my hand.

"No slave will harm a Warrior!" I heard a man yell.

There was cacophony in the yard as the Warriors called for my head. Terror clenched my gut and I my eyes widened in horror. They were going to kill me for attacking one of them.

The sound of screaming metal broke through the yelling. I heard a crack as wood creaked and gave. The metal was wrenched free from its holding. Twisting my head I saw that somehow, Bane had pulled his arms down from the bar. Manacles hung from his bloody wrists. There was fire in his eyes and his sharp teeth were down.

Evan released me when Bane grabbed my arm and pulled me to stand with him.

"If you wish to touch my slave," Damien boomed, "you go through my brother. We decide its punishment."

The yard got quiet and the only sound I heard was Bane's breathing.

"It attacked Torus," a man yelled out.

"Ah, yes," Bane laughed, "and I saw that mighty Warrior run from it!"

The cries for my head still came, but they were less now.

All the sound died suddenly and I knew who was here. Automatically, I moved closer to Bane for protection.

"Your punishment is not done boys. Why did Bane step out from under the bar?" the General asked casually.

"Only proving a point, General," Damien answered. "Our slave saw our punishment and feared for us. It sought to defend those that protect it. We do not wish to punish it."

The General stepped onto the platform and closer to me. In reaction, I huddled to Bane's massive chest. The General took a visual appraisal of me before looking at the structure Bane had pulled down from.

"The slave comes with me," he said simply. "Damien, you and your Brothers take the rest of your punishment."

I clung to Bane as he stepped back under the bar.

"Go," he ordered softly, "follow the General and do what he says."

My eyes met Bane's and I saw his assurance. Those eyes promised safety. I moved quickly to catch up to the General. It was what my family wanted me to do.

We passed through the other Warriors and toward the General's quarters. He moved through his door and held it until I entered. Once we were inside he stood staring at me.

The big man moved until he was in my face. Rage was coming off of him in waves. Gone was the calm, cool man that the compound saw. This was the raw beast that lurked beneath.

"You," he growled, "are important to the women. Damien's family is precious to the women. It would not do to have you injured, but I will not stand to have you disrupt my compound!"

The General's hot breath brushed my cheeks as he spoke. His voice had risen and I saw the fire burning in his eyes.

"No other slave would dare to raise an arm to my Warriors," he continued. "The sentence would be death or removal."

I trembled in fear watching him.

A voice from behind the General broke our staring contest.

"I am curious," the voice of the General's Brother spoke, "did Damien and his Brothers train the slave?"

"Answer him!" the General barked and I jumped back bumping the door.

"Yes, sir, they trained me," finally came out.

The General stood staring at me for a moment and then left. I trembled in the anteroom waiting for my fate. The General joined his Brothers across the room looking out the wide window.

They must have seen everything. The General was obviously observing Damien's punishment. How stupid of me to give into that primal reaction. I stood watching the General, mentally berating myself, as the General watched my men and conversed internally with his family.

My knees were bleeding. I felt the slow tickle and it flowed down my legs. It pooled over the cuffs on my ankles and dripped down to my feet. I didn't want to get it on the floor, but it wasn't really my choice at this point.

"Why did they train you?" the same voice called over to me.

I didn't really know why. "It amused them," I said remembering Evan and Damien, "and they just thought I should know. It was disgraceful I was so untrained."

Now that was an interesting answer. The General's family looked at me questioningly. This situation was unique and new. Evidently, Damien had wanted me to fight.

"Slave," the General finally addressed me, "did you know not to raise your hand to my Warriors?"

"Damien told me not to hit him or his Brothers," I said remembering the one time in the bathhouse.

Finally the General asked one of the Brothers to fix my legs. The man walked me into their bathroom and he scrubbed the debris out of my knees and applied healing cream. They started to bleed again, so he wrapped them both with cloth.

When I came back out, Basin and his Brothers were standing around. The General told them he would not put me up for the compound to punish. Damien didn't want it and I was merely too well trained for my own good.

I would throw my own life away to protect my owners. He didn't see the purpose of punishing such blind devotion. I was too stupid to know any better.

"When Damien and his Brothers are punished," the General said, "I put you all in charge of restraining and monitoring this slave."

Basin took the task politely and motioned me to follow him.

We walked down the steps and several Warriors were waiting around outside. They seemed very disappointed and irritated when Basin told them what the General had said. My punishment, and especially my death, would have been entertaining.

As soon as we made it into their dwelling and the door closed, Basin lit into me.

"You have no sense of forethought!" he roared.

For the second time that night I backed into the door.

Damien and his Brothers would have been upset if something happened to me. Basin knew I was smart enough to understand the probable consequences of my actions. I was reckless. His friends were what mattered and they would have felt pain because of me.

Since my owners were not available to reprimand me properly he took me to task. He lectured me until my ears felt numb. When he was finally done, he seemed to be no less upset.

I was ordered to kneel on my still tender knees and they fed me. A cup of the health drink was there and I took it without hesitation.

"Our slave only takes a drink in the morning," one of Basin's Brothers commented.

They started to talk about the extra health drink. I was just relieved the conversation was no longer on what an idiot I was.

One of them picked up the cup and sniffed it curiously. It was different from what Rose got. The man dipped a finger into the leftover dregs and tasted it. It was very different.

Basin looked hard at me. I saw him appraising my form. His critical eyes judged me from head to toe.

I didn't look ill or malnourished anymore. Just like when I first came to this planet I was lush and full. The evidence of my starvation had disappeared some time before.

"I see no reason for this," he stated simply.

"And the liquid is different," the other Brother said.

Lucky for me they dropped the subject and went to their sitting room. Rose pulled me to kneel beside her as the men played a game. She shook her head and squeezed my hand.

Damien and his Brothers stayed in bondage on the platform overnight. I stayed with Basin and his family. Since Basin felt I should be disciplined, I spent the night in their box.

The box was dark and it should have been creepy. I had slept in one for months though. Inside the box I fell quickly to sleep and dreamed of my family.

It was a normal dream. Memories of Hannah flying in the mountains, as Damien and I watched, predominated my sleeping thoughts. In the distance I felt like I saw my other children, the ones I was slated to have, soaring in the wind. Unlike real life, in the dream I anticipated meeting them.

The next morning Damien and his Brothers were let off the platform. Basin did not take me to see them, he took me to the Keepers. My owners would have enough to do without contending with me, he believed. They would have to get themselves ready and go to work, despite their injures.

The morning drink was again a topic of conversation on the transport pad. Basin and his Brothers knew it was different from what Rose took. It smelled, tasted, and looked different. Lucky for me, they never thought to ask me if I knew what it was.

I was relieved to be at the Keepers, until they tethered me with a short cord to a pole in the main room. They knew humans and when we became suicidal we may stay that way. Until Damien assured them I was no longer a threat to myself, my movement would be restricted.

Fuji and Rose sat with me. We played card games and other "safe" things the Keepers allowed them to get close to me. Being tied to a pole and after the stress the day before, I couldn't really concentrate. Fuji won most of the hands.

The lunch bell rang and I sat quietly waiting on my kneeling place. The room around me was quiet, which was unusual. Without the flurry of the other girls you could have heard a pin drop.

One of the Keepers stood inside the empty room with me and then suddenly he was gone. In the doorway was Damien.

With the light behind him, Damien looked like an angel. When he stepped further into the room I realized angel was the wrong term. Avenging angel would be more accurate.

I'd never seen Damien in a battle with other men, but this is how I imagined he'd look. Focused and furious were the only two terms that came readily to mind. It was a strange juxtaposition and he handled the look of contained chaos well.

"I don't want to die," I said as he moved closer. "It was a a stupid thing to say...Master Damien," the last of the statement came out in a whisper.

He continued to pace slowly forward and didn't say a word. I scooted back off my kneeling place. When I hit the pole I was tied to I slid up it and stood facing him.

"Attacking the man was a mistake, too, Master Damien," I said gripping the pole and steeling my resolve. "I heard Christof and he was in pain. I had to help him. You would have done the same thing..."

I saw the bruising on Damien's face as he drew closer. The lightening marks of his punishment gave his visage a savage appearance. The pain and fatigue must be overwhelming.

Giving into my instincts I reached forward and brushed a hand along the rough stubble on his cheek and into his hair. My other hand made the same trip on the other side of his face. Damien drew closer allowing me to massage the tense muscles in the back of his neck.

For a moment his eyes drifted closed and the lines on his face relaxed. He loved to be touched and rubbed. I smiled to myself thinking I had distracted him. Damien's eyes were open in an instant watching me.

"Look me in the eye and tell me if you wish to die," he commanded grabbing my hands and pulling them down to rest on his chest.

I met his steely grey gaze. "No, I do not wish to die."

The cord on my neck was cut. Damien leaned in until I felt his breath in my ear.

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