A Slave to the Servants Ch. 36


"We had never felt safe to travel far from there," Rynal said as he held Aiden. "Our mates feared for us to travel here, because we had to pass a mountain full of ore. With things as they are, no one even noticed us as we moved past it."

"Your mates?" I asked curiously. "They did not come with you?"

"Of course they came," Holden answered, "still, there used to be much danger from the slaving women in the past. Travel was dangerous. Our mates would do anything to protect us, but they could easily be outnumbered..."

"Halil," I said softly, "she was your mate?"

The men all smiled lightly and touched one another. "She is still part of us," Hodlen said with some reverence. "We felt her go to The Great Harmonious Spirit. Halil's Sisters would have preferred to give her back to the Paterian fire in our home, but it was not possible. I wish she had lived long enough to have seen her male offspring bonded before she joined The Spirit, as was her fervent desire."

I nodded solemnly and told them how she had instructed the slaving women on the benefits of freedom before she died.

"She was always an agent of The Great Spirit," Spartian said softly and his Brothers agreed.

Hodlen and his Brothers focused back on the boys and Mycah's family was happy for the attention. They described the bathing pool and the alien attack. Jonathan told them about coming here from the compound. The little ones wanted to show them their scars and the men all discouraged them. No one wanted to interrupt what the Healers were doing for our boys. The wraps over their wounds stayed in place.

"Let the Healers show us when they are ready," Damien said patting Mycah's head.

Holden looked to Damien to tell them exactly what had happened at the pool. I saw Rynal almost puff with pride looking down at his boy as Damien spoke. Our sons had fought with valor.

"Strong and loyal, like us, Brothers," he said holding Aiden happily as his Brothers patted his shoulders.

Damien and his Brothers had picked up the clothing that Mycah's family had left at the pool. We helped the little ones put on their pants and shoes. Since Jonathan and Aiden couldn't wear a shirt, yet, we only fully dressed the other three. As we were finishing I heard a happy shout come from across the room.

Tyle and his family ran to us and looked excitedly at Hodlen and his family. I saw the resemblance in an instant. Tyle was Hodlen's male offspring. He absolutely had to be.

By now Hodlen's family was getting used to hugging and kissing. It wasn't their way, but they accepted the affection from Tyle's young family. They looked at me as they took the greeting. My influence was hard to deny. It was a testament to my freedom that I felt I could share Earth tradition. I was glad I had.

"We have talked many times on the monitor since coming here," Tyle explained to Damien's family. "They contacted us soon after we were brought here. We didn't tell you all because..."

The young man faltered looking at Hodlen and Damien patted the young man's shoulder in reassurance.

"Slavery was not something we should have been a part of," he said simply and the surrounding family agreed.

The Healers came and unwrapped the wounds on our youngest family members. It amazed me how fast Paterians recovered. Aiden's cuts were well on their way to being healed and most of Jonathan's were not even oozing. My boys and their male breeders were all proud of the resulting scars. Our boys were fearless.

The Healers re-wrapped the worst of it after applying some salve. They allowed us to take the boys from the infirmary, but insisted we keep them calm for the rest of the day cycle.

"No fighting, no climbing, no jumping, and no running," Rhane explained plainly. "The little ones must rest. If there is any concern bring them back to us without hesitation."

"Will water hurt the wounds?" I asked.

"They can swim tomorrow," Rhane's Brother said thoughtfully. "Do not let the wounds get wet tonight."

Tyle's family listened to the instructions as well and piped up to remind the Healers Molly would be staying with them. Tyle's family stayed near us in the same secluded complex. Our new Healer's assistant would help watch the boys, also. That seemed to please Rhane. Molly had already proved herself to have a knack for healing. We should trust her judgment.

It was easier to control Mycah and his Brothers with so much family around. As we walked through the busy halls I was glad for the assistance. I imagined that in the distant past it was always like this. The children's care could be spread between all their breeders. It would have been a superior system.

"We need to find the others," Hodlen was saying to Damien. "Our families share male offspring with several other families. All of us should be in the same place. Now that we are all free men we should be close."

"We must contact the others, now that they are all free," Kee said seriously.

In the past, at least one of those families would be men that were good at Keeping and training children during the day. Hodlen's family didn't want to use unrelated Child Keepers if they had an option. Family would be the best to care for the young.

"Things are going back as they should be," Rynal said happily. "This is how we always wanted to live. We have dreamed of this a long time."

Our conversation was cut short as the boys grabbed our attention.

"Daddy," Jonathan suddenly wailed loudly, "I want to swim! We didn't get to swim enough this morning!"

We all looked at my upset little boy. The tunnel to the bathing pool was coming up and Jonathan obviously remembered that.

"There might be aliens," Mycah said as his eyes lit up with excitement and then I saw the fear. "Do we need to fight the aliens in the water to swim every time?"

"They might catch us!" Rees intoned sounding alarmed.

Niah's little teeth grew and I saw him getting upset. The boys were caught between excitement and trepidation. They wanted to swim, but the big aliens were something to worry about.

Damien's calm voice settled the boys as the men picked them up.

"The aliens that got inside are gone now and won't come back," Damien said. "We barred all the entrances they were using. Men protect those entrances now, also. There are no aliens to fight and none will catch you. Your older family will protect you. In the morning we will swim again."

The little ones looked around at the ten powerful men. It eased the distress that they had been feeling. Mycah in particular seemed to relax in Spartian's strong arms. He wasn't solely responsible for his small family anymore. My family realized how much better this life would be for our boy. He and his Brothers should grow up protected and loved.

"My Brothers and I cannot swim," Tos said as we passed the damp tunnel leading to the bathing hall. "We lived in a dry area. There was very little underground water and none above ground. We have never learned."

Evan shrugged and patted the other man's arm in reassurance. There was no shame in this lack of ability. Certainly this family would have much to teach us. We would share everything with them.

"We will teach you, cousin," he said simply.

We took our evening meal in the dining hall early tonight. Hodlen's family was hungry after the long trip here. Damien thought they might be tired, also. Since they would have to work for the camp tomorrow, we should give them food and let them rest tonight.

After our meal we retired inside our private rooms. There were lots of men in the main communal area, but none of us wanted to be around such activity. Despite Hodlen's initial reservations about Damien and his Brothers, I got the impression he felt a duty to this extended family. His family really wanted to know my husbands.

Hodlen and his Brothers had brought toys for Mycah and his Brothers, which I was glad to see. The small wooden swords would be useful for practice later when the young ones were healed. They had also carved small figurines of animals. The boys played make believe games with those as we talked. It kept the little ones distracted and happy.

The mats that the other men used for sleeping were spread on the floor around our fire pit. The men sat on them or sat in the few chairs we had. They lounged and started to get to know one another.

This conversation was interesting to me, but I made it a point to let the men talk. Hodlen's family was still evaluating Damien's. I was part of the family, but I wasn't the part that concerned them. The men needed to have this time to converse, so I sat and knitted, only interjecting occasionally.

The families became more familiar with each other as they discussed life in the T'sparian Mountains compared to the compound. The camp Hodlen's family had come from was smaller than this one and even more tightly knit. Leaving there to come here had been a very big deal, the children were worth it, though.

"Why did you decide to become slavers?" Hodlen finally asked. "We shared male offspring with Kein and Bane and then we were notified you had bought a slave. My Brothers and I were sure there was a mistake...."

Damien looked deeply into the fire before his eyes turned to me.

"We, our bond, were broken. We were lonely," he said quietly. "The gentle affection Ciara gave us healed our bond. Still, we foolishly believed what we had been told about her weakness. It took us a long time to realize how wrong we had been."

I had settled in a chair and Kein moved to kneel before me.

"So many stupid mistakes, Brothers," he said with great sadness.

"You are forgiven," I repeated for what felt like the millionth time. "We have talked about this many, many times. I love you all. Family is allowed to make mistakes."

They remembered the lines cutting across my flesh and the cruel lashes Damien had laid on my delicate areas. Punishment had been a tool and they'd never known lasting effects from it. It had never occurred to them that I was different. Those horrible marks had scarred deeper than they'd known.

On the compound everyone just expected me to be Paterian. Respecting my thought process or considering I felt differently would have been scoffed at. My husbands tried very hard to respect my human differences now.

"Thank you for that," I said leaning forward and caressing Kein's cheek. "There is no use remembering bad times, though. We have learned and have much to look forward to."

Kein continued to look troubled as his fingers pushed my skirt above my knee. He stroked the delicate flesh they had started their torture on and began to apologize again.

"Enough!" I ordered pushing the skirt down and eyeing Kein sharply. "We are done with this!"

There was absolutely no way I was letting them describe to Hodlen's family what they'd done. It was a private matter, it was the past, and it wasn't something anyone else needed to know. I wasn't going to look back.

Kein's eyes met mine and then he leaned forward and kissed my knee. He wouldn't press the issue farther, but they still felt bad about what they'd done.

"Then you need to teach the men who used to own slaves why it is wrong," I said answering the unspoken plea. "Stop apologizing and do something about it! Guilt about past mistakes without doing something about it is pointless!"

Hodlen laughed and slapped Damien on the shoulder.

"A fine mate, cousin," he said jovially, "strong and to the point!"

A young man's voice sounded from outside requesting admittance and Damien called out to come in. Tyle's family entered and promptly sprawled on any unoccupied mat near the older men. They just wanted to be close to their male families.

Molly followed the young family in looking slightly uneasy, but they didn't know enough about humans to understand that. They'd just assumed she'd come with them if she wanted to. Tyle's family did not really understand how her life had been controlled until the day she was freed.

"Sit with me," I offered scooting over in my oversized chair.

The oversized beanbag I was sitting on would easily accommodate both of us.

Molly and I chatted as the men talked. She was so unused to the way she was treated here. Tyle's family had taken her to eat and Abram's family had told her about the food. Tyle had pulled a chair out for her and been happy to sit beside her. Another family sat with them and insisted she look at them and take part in the conversation. The camp was used to assisting freed humans. They knew the help these women would need.

As Molly and I talked I saw the flap to our door drawn back and a head peaked in.

"Knock, knock," Kennedy said in English as she peered inside.

Christof and I were up in a flash to greet our girl. Dara and Eve followed Kennedy in and I understood why this room was so large. It was made to contain an extended family and we certainly had that.

Kennedy was less injured than Hannah had been. She and her Sisters looked as though they had fared well in the battle. I examined all three of them before I remembered Mycah and his family.

The little boys were staring intently at Kennedy and her Sisters. They edged closer and closer to the girls, approaching them. None of them seemed afraid. They looked like they were trying to control their curiosity.

"You aren't Hannah, but I feel you," Jonathan announced loudly. "You look a little like Hannah, but you don't feel like her. She is not here."

Mycah and the rest agreed as the adults stared at them. We had no idea how Mycah's family knew Hannah.

"I am Kennedy, born in the T'aran Mountains," my daughter said as way of introducing herself to everyone present.

Eve and Dara also introduced themselves, but the boys weren't interested in names. Mycah's family was barely tolerant as Hodlen's family introduced themselves.

"Can we touch your wings?" Rees asked and the barrage of questions began.

The small boys were fascinated by the Paterian women and wanted to get close to them. Every part of the girls fascinated the small boys. Mycah's family was getting used to feeling connected to those around them. They wanted to be close to those they thought were extended family

"Mycah needs to ask," Hodlen said and Damien agreed with him.

The boys needed to work together. They had a bad habit of splintering apart. My husbands wanted the boys to build a strong bond and thinking as a team made that happen. We wanted them to feel free, but they also needed to be connected to one another.

It took several heartbeats for the boys to focus on Mycah. Kennedy and her Sisters just smiled and sat down Indian style along one wall, inviting the young ones to explore. They had no hesitation at all.

The boys were all over the girls. They inspected their wings and their talons. I watched them stand on the girls' legs and scramble up on their shoulders. Not surprisingly Aiden found Kennedy's long hair fascinating. It was different from the body hair she had and closer to what Rynal had. Jonathan went girl to girl, reaffirming their taste. Overall, Mycah's family crawled all over Kennedy and her Sisters and inspected them.

Molly and I readjusted ourselves so we faced the girls and waited for the children to calm down.

"Mycah, how do you know Hannah?" I asked pointedly and the little boy turned to look at me.

"My Brother felt her close when it was really noisy outside at the compound," Mycah said pointing to Jonathan. "We went outside when no one was looking and went to find her. We kept feeling Damien and his Brothers, but they weren't as close. Hannah was really close, we wanted to know who she was, why we felt her, and if we could find her."

Jonathan had tasted his birth sisters many times in the mountains. Evidently he had not completely forgotten any of us, his memory had just been temporarily blocked. I looked over at Damien and he looked as stunned as I felt. Hodlen's family watched the interaction closely, but stayed silent. Tyle's family looked as curious as us.

"How close was Hannah? How do you know her name?" Damien asked quietly. The boys were talking about the compound during the battle, but he didn't understand how or when they would have come across Hannah.

"When we were in the compound, she dropped out of the sky," Mycah said plopping down on Dara's thigh facing the family. "The tall, thin aliens were coming toward us and she cut them in half. They cut her, too, but she just roared at them."

My mouth dropped open and I felt the same amazement from Damien and his Brothers. We had not known aliens had gotten into the compound. No one would have dreamed they'd been that near the children.

"Ra came, too, and then the Warriors all came running. Hannah and Ra made all the aliens fall down and then they talked to the Warriors," Mycah said as his hands explored Dara's talons as her hand lay at his waist.

We sat in continued amazement as Mycah blithely explained how Hannah had introduced herself and quickly taught the Warriors how to fight aliens. She told the Warriors how the aliens moved and how to destroy them quickly. As she talked, she'd plucked Mycah's family from their hiding place and demanded the men put the curious boys in a safer spot.

"War is not a place for little boys!" Mycah said wagging his finger at us, as he must have seen Hannah do. "You have to do a better job watching them!"

None of us knew what to say and I looked at Kennedy to find her expression sheepish.

"You were worrying so much about him, Mama," she said softly stroking Aiden and Jonathan as they sat on her lap. "We didn't want you to panic if you heard that. If the men told Damien and his Brothers...we thought we'd just let it happen if it did."

"No secrets, Sweet Girl," Christof said mimicking the pet name I'd given her. "Mama can't be strong if we don't treat her like an equal. You have to trust that she'll make the right decision."

Kennedy rolled her eyes in a very human gesture and hmphed before she spoke again.

"Like tearing down the mountain on a transport trying to get into the tunnels?" she asked quietly.

"Be respectful," Bane chastised, "Mama was upset. Many of us wanted to do the same thing when we heard what was going to happen. We all worried for the young ones."

Kennedy apologized, sounding somewhat like a sulking teenager, and I admitted to my mistake. What I'd done had been foolish. I assured the girls I wasn't going to do that sort of thing again. Protecting our family would be a shared job, as it should be.

We sat and talked for a while longer and the conversation was pleasant. Damien watched Mycah's little family and knew they were still healing. With no more excitement they started to become sluggish and sleepy. Paterian men healed when they rested and the boys were slipping toward doing that. We would let them rest out here with the family for now.

Mycah's family stayed with Kennedy and her Sisters and, soon, started to doze as the girls held them. They fought to stay awake, but the warm, soft hair covering Kennedy and her Sisters made a nice place to cuddle. The little family started to stretch for sleep as their eyes closed.

Niah was pushed off Eve's thigh and looked blearily around as Molly and I watched trying not to laugh. His Brother, Rees, had stretched out and unintentionally shoved him off. He looked disgruntled at the loss of his space.

"Niah, baby," I called out, "come sit with me."

The little boy dragged himself over so I could pull him up on my lap. He stretched out across Molly and me, quickly falling asleep. My new friend was tentative as she stroked the young boy. He sighed and snuggled against us, absolutely at ease. I felt her tremble and looked over to see tears in her eyes.

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