tagSci-Fi & FantasyA Slave to the Servants Ch. 37

A Slave to the Servants Ch. 37


Mycah's family had never washed anything and that was obvious. The point was not that they did every piece of their clothing, just that they started to learn. Free men knew how to care for themselves and did so independently. This was just one of many things we had to teach them.

Rose's instruction on the use of the camp's washboards were still fresh in my mind. I taught the boys the way I had learned and they did a fair job on the item or two they cleaned. We did most of the work, but one or two of the young ones started to get the hang of it. I encouraged and congratulated them each time they did it right. The boys liked the feedback and tried very hard.

"You do well instructing, Ciara," Hodlen said appreciatively.

I blushed at the compliment.

"On Earth, Jonathan would have been mine to care for and teach. Women do most of the child care where I am from," I said simply. "I enjoy being part of his life in every way."

I saw a faint smile start on Hodlen's face. "Do you know letters and numbers?" he asked. "Do you know how to use a sword, in addition to, the gun?"

It was hard not to puff with a little pride. I'd made a point to learn about the things he talked about. I also knew a great deal about the planet and its inhabitants. Men from the camp had taught me and I'd been reading. Frankly, I felt quite well versed.

"The slaving women, as well as Damien and his Brothers, taught me to read and write," I told the men, "and I have enjoyed having this skill. I read about the world around us and even wrote some children's stories. My friends and I wrote about things we thought the children should know."

"And swords?" Hodlen's Brother, Kee, asked again. "You obviously know the guns, you handle them with ease, but do you know swords?"

I shifted my weight and laughed a little. "Damien and his Brothers were Warriors and they taught me the fundamentals of sword work. Men from the camps have taught me to fight. I am hardly in any condition to show you right now, but I can easily use a sword."

"And you like children," Tos said sounding excited. "You enjoy teaching them."

I smiled and answered affirmatively. Being with the little family made me very happy.

"So you could Keep Mycah's family in the day," Hodlen said with authority. "We do not need to use unrelated Child Keepers."

I was startled and looked up at the men. Doing what he said would be a dream for me, but I wasn't sure it was possible. Obviously, I'd gone to school on Earth, but I had not trained to teach. I didn't know exactly how the children were organized here and I didn't want our boys to have an education too far from the norm.

"The young ones are all kept together in the day," Damien said gently, pausing in his work. "The various men that care for them work as a team based on age, although each is responsible for only a few families. You learn very quickly, Ciara, and I know you want to do this."

Bane snorted and looked around before he spoke, "You can't tell us you wish to continue to work as a shopkeeper."

Some of the old prejudices were still there and Kein shook his head as he scolded Bane. Shopkeepers were necessary. Bane needed to amend his way of thinking.

"He's right, though," Christof said quietly. "You don't enjoy the jobs here the way you enjoyed writing for the children or spending time with the young..."

"Rose could help me," I contemplated. "We could work as a team. She knows more about teaching than I do. I'm sure she'd be willing."

It was decided, as far as the family was concerned. I was going to teach our young. The education of Mycah's family would be my responsibility. Everyone was sure the Administrators would approve this change in jobs. It was the appropriate thing to do.

After our lesson on cleaning, we hung up the wet garments and stripped out of our clothing. Evan and Rynal took the protective wraps off of Jonathan and Aiden. We all examined the marks and I was shocked. Everything was almost entirely healed. The boys looked as good as new. Tos assured us the Healers would take the stitches out later today. The skin was holding together just fine.

Mycah's family was a little hesitant to get in the water after we finished examining them. Our attention to their wounds had reminded them of the excitement the day before. The aliens had been frightening and too much for the young family to handle. We coaxed them and pointed the guards in the bathing pool out to them, but they wouldn't get in until Damien's family patrolled the pool.

"They trust family," Hodlen said watching my men make their sweep. "Your family has done a good job with them. This is how they should feel. We had thought it would take much longer to earn their trust."

"Evan and I loved Jonathan with our entire being when he was born," I told the man stoically. "We would have done anything to keep him. It nearly broke us when he was taken. I cannot imagine giving up as many male offspring to the compounds as you have."

Hodlen was thoughtful for a moment before he spoke.

"Our mountain home was a dangerous place," he said looking out across the pool. "My Brothers and I knew that our young would grow strong in the compounds. The Great Harmonious Spirit was at work and we would not be separated forever. We never doubted that they would join us eventually. It is a pleasure to finally be able to care for at least one family as we should, though."

I nodded as Damien and his Brothers bounded out of the water in front of us. They were dripping wet and grinning broadly with their teeth down. They looked ferocious, but I knew the visual was to reinforce to the children we could protect them.

"No aliens," Evan said, shaking the water out of his hair, "just lots of places to swim."

"We bathe together and then learn to swim together," Damien commanded, eyeing Aiden and Jonathan. "You two need to help your Brothers learn to swim. No one goes off on their own today."

Hodlen and his Brothers were impressed Aiden could swim. After our bath, the men all practiced swimming some. The boys progressed very quickly, probably thanks to the Aiden and Jonathan's influence.

Hodlen's family wasn't lying, they'd never been in this much water. Damien's family, as well as, several others around us took the time to instruct them. By the time we left the bathing hall the men had a solid grasp on the movements they should be making in the water.

Breakfast was a happy affair. Rose and her family ate with us and she was honored to be asked to help teach our boys. My friend adored children and the idea of being such a fundamental part of their life really appealed to her. We preformed a valuable function in Armant's shop, but it wasn't what we wanted to be doing.

Rose and I both respected the camp's Administration. We would not change jobs without officially notifying them and being granted permission. Our current job duties split us between the infirmary and the clothing shop. My friend and I put an official written request into the Administrators, but we would to continue our duties until a decision was reached. The leadership was so busy, neither of us expected an answer for a while.

Damien and his Brothers had been assigned to patrol today. Since Hodlen and his family were new, they would follow my men around. Before they left for their duties, the men took Jonathan and his Brothers to the Child Keepers.

I walked with Rose down the crowded main hall to Armant's working area. The camp felt a little gloomy, because the skylights were all closed. I knew this was necessary for all of our safety. Still I missed the sunlight that used to stream in from the ceiling. It would have made it feel less cramped. It would take time for the women to excavate enough room so the camp didn't feel overburdened with men.

As we got closer to the area with the shops, I was surprised to see tables placed between the fire pits. Men sat at the tables working on boots, coats, and shirts. It was the shopkeepers from the compounds. These men were diligently doing the jobs they had always done. All of them stopped as we passed by and watched us intently.

"These are free humans," Armant announced loudly while walking toward us. "They have mates they have chosen in the camp. You may touch them with their permission and we encourage you to speak to them. Just as you are not slaves to the women's demands these humans are slaves to no one."

The men around us murmured, some tried not to stare and others watched us openly. There wasn't really malevolence in their faces, just abject confusion. They'd never seen a human up close and they seemed to be waiting for something. Armant stood a body's length away from us, waiting also, and it dawned on me.

"Good morning, Armant," I said loudly and cheerfully, "Rose and I came to help you sew today."

Apparently, the conversation was what Armant wanted. He grinned and watched the shopkeepers around us as he spoke. I assumed he wanted them to see a normal interaction between us.

"The shopkeepers from the compounds are helping us now," Armant said motioning. "We have many more tailors than we need. Perhaps you and Rose should go to the infirmary, your skills may be put to better use there. It is your choice, of course."

Rose spoke up and I was surprised by her concern. "They need to learn about the world, Armant. It is very important they don't limit themselves. Sitting and sewing all day will not teach them freedom. This is a very different place from the compounds."

"Not all today, cousin," Armant answered in a gentle tone. "We will teach them slowly, just as we taught you at your pace. They feel comfortable sewing, so we will start with that. This afternoon we may have some lessons with swords or perhaps about the creatures that live in the forest outside."

Rose was insistent as she looked around at the men surrounding us. None of them were armed and some of them looked ready to hide under the tables. Shopkeepers had been kept from exhibiting any form of strength or self reliance.

"You should not let their fear limit them," she said decisively. "This is a very wild world-"

"Relax, Rose," Armant chuckled, "you would have them fighting racks by this afternoon. They need to be slowly introduced to new things. We will encourage them to explore more once the aliens are under control. I promise you we will not bind them to this job."

Rose was hardly deterred, but then she was never deterred. My friend was stubborn and decisive. She'd made up her mind about this and would not stop.

"They should at least be allowed and encouraged to carry weapons," she said crossing her arms. "If something happened they couldn't even begin to defend themselves."

Armant watched Rose with appreciation on his face. She'd come a very long way from the girl who refused to look at him.

"It is not forbidden for them to have weapons, but they did not have them in the villages. You have my word that by the end of eight day cycles every man here will have a weapon," Armant said solemnly. "The smiths will start to measure them today. I will make sure of it myself."

Rose seemed pleased as we walked to the infirmary. She didn't like to see the shopkeepers unarmed. This was not a place to be without a weapon. I had to agree, how many times had I drawn my own to protect myself from danger?

The infirmary was the same story as Armant's shop. Healers from the compounds were already helping out. Even with all the wounded they were well staffed with trained professionals. Rose and I would not really add anything to what they already had. Rhane and his Brothers suggested we go see if Armant needed help today. They seemed so frazzled by the confusion their extra helpers created we just politely agreed and left.

Our next idea was the hall where they were keeping the freed slaves. We had been helping with them, perhaps they could use our talents. It was the next best place to try to work.

Today Hassar and Reed along with several male Administrators had stopped by to discuss the options the freed women had. Our leaders had come down to have a frank discussion about future choices. There were risks to staying and risks to going. It was all being openly talked about.

Off to one side I was surprised to see Fuji surrounded by women that looked a lot like she used to. These women glittered and stood nude, even in the cold, but I was sure it didn't bother them. They were demure and attentive, as good slaves from Batra should be, but they couldn't take their eyes off Fuji. Something about her had captured their attention.

Rose and I made our way toward Fuji's mane of hair. She had new scars on her back and sides. Our friend must have been part of the war outside. Fuji looked battle tested.

"I will teach you freedom," Fuji was stating in a resonating voice to her audience. "You will grow strong and powerful like I am. You cannot go back to Batra as you are, we have much to do first."

The women didn't say anything, they just watched her. It was obvious her appearance had the desired effect. Fuji's appearance was shocking; she looked powerful.

Our friend turned to greet us and walked toward Rose and me. I noted right away Fuji was moving differently, almost prowling. There was a speed and fluidity to her movement I'd never seen before. Her eyes seemed to take in every part of Rose and me before settling on our faces. Fuji looked very much like she was hunting.

My heart sped up a little as Fuji got nearer. I heard Rose catch her breath beside me. It was hard not to feel like prey when being approached in such a manner.

"Do you fear me?" Fuji asked in an almost laughing tone as she stopped less than a body length away. "I didn't expect the smell of fear from you, old friends. There is nothing to be worried about."

It was hard not to feel a little concerned. Fuji looked like a predator you'd see in a zoo, one you'd want held safely behind the bars. My finely honed instincts screamed caution.

Rose regained her composure and smiled a warm smile.

"You just seem different," Rose stated, trying to shrug nonchalantly .

"My race are hunters," Fuji practically purred, stepping closer, as he tail moved hypnotically. "We are carnivores and I have rediscovered my natural tendencies. Being outside hunting everyday brought most of it back. The battle gave me the chance to fully explore my instincts."

I felt the girls roll in my belly and found honesty the best policy.

"Do you eat humans now?" I asked bluntly. If she did, we'd be having this discussion with the business end of my weapon aimed at her.

Fuji laughed for a moment before calming down and meeting my eyes.

"No," she stated simply, "I don't think so, but I won't change who I am to make you happy. I've done that for too long."

I looked into Fuji's strange purple eyes and understood her, probably for the first time. You could tame a creature, but you could never take away its basic instincts. The things that made Fuji who and what she was had been beaten down, but never dissolved. Her spirit had lay silent and dormant, but it was back now.

"If you're going to start hunting Paterians, they aren't going to like it," I warned her, while dropping my voice.

Fuji flicked her tail and seemed almost bored with this conversation.

"We aren't going to hunt Paterians," she remarked almost flippantly. "These women are going to become strong and then we will go reclaim our home planet. This world has no interest for me. We cannot breed and grow my race here."

I looked past Fuji at the perhaps twenty huddled women from Batra. They didn't really seem like a fighting force. I raised an eyebrow and looked at Rose. She had the same look on her face; it irritated Fuji.

"It will take time and I have to get all of them here," Fuji said in an exasperated tone. "I know I can't win with just this."

I was incredulous as I questioned Fuji, "You're going to take over the whole planet with just the few slaves on this planet? It just seems impossible."

My old friend brushed off my concern with a casual air. "My planet is weak," she stated with conviction, "wait and see what I do."

It was not an idle threat Fuji was making and I understood that. She was commanding, now that she'd discovered herself. I felt for sure she would surprise the slavers of her home world.

Rose and I stayed for a few moments to listen to Hassar speak to the other races of women, but it was obvious we weren't really needed. Hassar made it quite clear the choice Rose and I made should not influence the other women. Our behavior had been quite frowned upon at the time.

The women asked many questions, but Hassar and her Sister answered them. Rose and I were not asked to participate in this session. We almost seemed in the way. My friend and I slipped out when we realized we were just sitting and listening like everyone else. This was not how we could provide for the camp.

Rose and I walked through the halls and found a quiet place to sit beside a fire pit. Neither of us was sure what to do. Distantly we heard the occasional boom that told us of skirmishes still raging with the aliens outside. It didn't feel like a good day just to take a day off. There had to be something we could do.

"We could help with the children," Rose said innocently. "I'm sure the Administrators won't object to you teaching your own young. We could go and see how the children learn today..."

I smiled slyly at her and had to agree. Spending the day with our little boys would really appeal to me. It wasn't like we had any clue what the boys did all day. We should go down and watch for a while before we tried it ourselves. There was most likely some sort of curriculum they used.

The children's area was near the infirmary, deep in the mountain. It made sense to cluster the weak and defenseless together. The entrance was set back off the main thoroughfare. We had to walk a short distance down a hall to reach the actual entrance. I was a little surprised to see a door at the end of the hall. The strong metal structure was a powerful reminder of what children were worth. They would always be protected.

Outside the entrance to the children's area an armed guard of three families stood. We'd had too many close calls with sneaky aliens and we certainly had enough Warriors to spread around now. The men were friendly it seemed, but vigilant as we approached.

The guards from the camp made a point to introduce themselves and speak politely to Rose and me. There were men with them that must have been Warriors from the compounds. I assumed our campmates had been told to model good behavior. Rose and I returned their greetings and made small talk.

Unlike the men last night, these Warriors seemed more accepting of our equality in the camp. They watched us curiously and spoke to us cautiously, there was no malice. I figured they either had no real opinion on humans or were just going with the flow of the camp. Either way, I was relieved not to have to fight again. The night before had been stressful.

The door was opened, after it was unlocked, and the guards allowed us entry. After we stepped inside I heard the heavy structure closed and re-secured. The men were leaving nothing to chance.

The inside of children's area was a shock for Rose and me. It was so well lit I blinked a little. I had not realized they'd brought this many young ones back, although the size of this space still dwarfed the men and boys in here. It was like the inside of a football stadium. It appeared all the boys were taught together, although they seemed to be divided by age group.

Older boys sat to one side and they sat at tables. As the children got smaller they tended to have them grouped sitting on the floor. I imagined they'd run out of tables and the little boys probably didn't mind. Several groups of men were with each different age group, presumably teaching.

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