tagSci-Fi & FantasyA Slave to the Servants Ch. 31

A Slave to the Servants Ch. 31


Thanks to all of you for returning! This chapter is all plot - fair warning.

Steve150177 has continued to be unfailingly dedicated to giving you all the story in my head and I appreciate it.

I will concede this bit of consolation to those who fear Ciara's new path away from her hunky, although often misguided, men. I like Damien and his Brothers. I've tried to make the story realistic, so my men get to suffer some for their prior misdeeds. They have proved they can learn and change, so...don't give up hope.

I anticipate our next chapter April 17/18/19. For you Americans that's right after taxes! Something to lift your spirits, perhaps.

Please read and vote! Thank you! DW


This world seemed to burst with life and color. Massive trees formed a perimeter around the opening. The deep green canopy above was magnificent. The plants were bright and exotic.

I breathed in the fresh air outside the tunnel and it smelled of wilderness. It wasn't the crisp pine scent of the forests on Earth. The sweet tang of flowers mixed with the natural odor of the trees and the leaves here. I could smell the rich aroma of the soil and, all mixed together, it was unlike anything I'd experienced before on this world.

Taking a huge breath I almost thought I smelled jasmine in the air. I remembered the vines that had clung to my grandmother's mailbox. Looking around I didn't see any, but when the breeze drifted by, I smelled it again. I wondered how much out here would be familiar to me.

A branch to the right moved and I watched a small green animal run to the tree's trunk. Noises all around us told me this area was brimming with animals. There were sounds like a large bird's call and other strange guttural sounds. Compared to the silence of the compound, this was unreal.

The area reminded me of a rainforest. Clinging purple vines crept up the trees with large purple flowers hanging down. I saw plants of vibrant red and yellow spotting the ground and growing in crevices in the trees. The area was a blaze with color and teeming with life.

"It's amazing!" I said and Thom laughed.

"What did you say?" he asked curiously. "I don't know much of your language. I have learned some, but not enough."

"Amazing," I repeated in Paterian continuing to look around.

"The entire planet was like this," Thom said as the transport rose higher. "The women cleaned the area around the compounds so they could watch the men better. Our world is meant to be filled with life."

I nodded and continued to take in the breathtaking scenery, still my heart mourned. This moment should have been experienced with my family. As I looked around and saw them on their transport surrounded by other men. Christof's eyes caught mine and I saw the sadness there as well. We should have been together for this.

The transports took off in single file toward a set of hills in the near distance. The transports moved quietly through the forest, cutting through the air just under the canopy. As we moved I saw small creatures frolicking and moving in the trees. This place was full of little animals, they were everywhere I looked.

Occasionally the trees would part and I could see the area around us. The hills went on forever, covered in trees, plants, and things I had no name for. Farther in the distance huge mountains could be seen rising far into the clouds. I had been right, this world was amazing.

Our line of transports traveled steadily up an incline. It was evident we were climbing a hill. I looked down at the steep incline and realized it would be hard, but not impossible on foot. Below us I saw several faint footpaths winding around the mountain. Someone walked here.

Looking ahead I watched the lead transport suddenly change orientation so it faced into the foliage covering the mountain and disappear. I sucked in a surprised gasp as the next transport did the same thing. We got closer and closer as the transports ahead of us dove into the mountain side, one by one.

"Watch," Thom said pointing to the magical spot, "the leaves and trees you see are not truly there. The main entrance to our camp is through there and hidden from view."

As we headed for the trunk of a very solid looking tree I cringed, but the crash never came. We'd passed through the illusion and into a large well lit cave. Behind the fake tree was a huge open area with many, many transports parked in it.

For all intents and purposes we were in an enormous parking garage. There was space in here for perhaps three or four hundred of the large transports it seemed, perhaps more. Much of it seemed unoccupied now. A family of men walked around gesturing to the drivers, instructing them where to land.

"Morning patrols have set out or there would be more here," Thom explained. "We have much work to do to keep our camp running well. Our campmates travel to the compounds near here on a regular basis. Whenever we can, we take men, but it is difficult."

"We always watch the compounds for a chance to take men when their guard is down," Thom's Brother, Brand, told us. "It is just a waiting game to find the right family at the right time."

"What do you mean the right family?" I asked not knowing what would make one family superior over another.

Thom grunted and his Brother answered. "We wait for men that come and go from the mountains. Men with slaves stay away from the mountains. We don't want slavers here."

I stood silently and felt Rose take my hand. When I looked at her she appeared as concerned as I felt. Our men were hated in this place.

The transport settled and the men doing the directing approached. He called a greeting and told us his name and place of birth. I called back my name and he smiled at me before moving on.

"You must learn to speak to us," Thom scolded Rose and Fuji. "The women will teach you and you will understand."

"Brother," one of Thom's family addressed him, "we need to see where we are scheduled today."

The men discussed it and it was decided Thom would show my friends and me around. His Brothers would link up with him after finding out what they needed to.

Rose, Fuji, and I followed Thom away from the transport. We walked with him through a massive arched passageway into the interior of the mountain. It was like stepping onto a busy city street from medieval times.

Smokeless torches hung on the walls and kept the area quite bright. In the center of the walkway the large smokeless pits that kept the area warm. Paterian men and women walked around busily going about their lives.

Light seemed to be coming from above and I looked up. Perhaps thirty stories above us there were several openings allowing light to come in. The top of this mountain had vents it seemed. Thom noted my attention and pointed them out.

"They are covered with the same shield you have already seen to avoid visible detection," he explained. "We can also shut them completely with large stone doors, like you saw in the tunnels. You are very safe here. Our camp is large and well defended. Nothing will harm you here."

I nodded and he quirked his head. "A nod," he smiled. "Kennedy taught this to us. It means yes."

On both sides it looked like a hotel with many stories of doorways and stairs. Some of the doorways had a leather drape and some did not. I only saw men using the doorways lower down.

Looking up, the openings in the rock walls continued, but there were not always stairs leading to them. I saw huge women flying into and out of those openings.

"Men stay lower down usually," he said gesturing to the seven stories of rooms all around us.

A large group passed and I stared at them. It was perhaps thirty families of male children all of varying ages. They were surrounded by, several groups of grown men as they all moved toward the parking garage.

"They are having lessons outside today," Thom said. "We did not learn the way the children here do. Most of those men are their male breeders. Some male breeders teach the young and some have talents otherwise. Each of us does what he is best at, although we can change jobs if it is needed or we wish to."

I stared at the backs of the children and thought of Jonathan. My beautiful, blonde boy would be here learning like this soon.

"Most of the industry is on the ground floor," Thom continued to explain as we walked.

He pointed out an open cave and told me those men produced shoes, another opening produced coats. Essentially, it was a town inside the mountain.

"We men eat together," Thom explained as we passed a gaping cave. The inside area was covered in tables. "You will eat with us, I believe. The women like their meals raw for the most part, but they often join us for company. There are several families of females that bring their kill and eat with us every time. Other women eat what we do and take every meal in the hall."

It was so much to take in and I was glad when Thom walked into a quiet opening off the main cave and motioned us in. The inside of the room was tight with tables and fabric. It was well lit, though. The men inside the room were busy, but stopped when they saw Thom.

"Hannah and Kennedy's special guests have arrived," Thom said cheerfully as the lead Brother approached.

"Wonderful, I am Armant rescued from the Barnas compound. It is a pleasure to have you here," the man said congenially.

The man speaking appeared older, hardly frail or infirm, just with more years than I was accustomed to. His shoulders were broad and his hands looked strong. He didn't look like any shopkeeper I'd ever seen on this planet.

"They need the outfits Hannah specified," Thom said.

Armant smiled as he looked at Rose and I. "I was told," he said, "that these females can make things, blankets and such. Also, I was told they could stitch."

Thom seemed surprised and looked at me.

"Rose and I can," I said to both of them cautiously. "She taught me to sew. I like to knit also."

"Ruth," Thom corrected me, before turning to Armant. "Let the Administrators work it out. I don't want to promise you something too soon."

"Put in a good word for me," Armant said to Thom. "My Brothers and I enjoy this work, but our fingers are stiff. We could use the help. You all have not taken enough shopkeepers to maintain this camp as it should be, old Warriors aren't always good at this type of work. They have no patience for it."

Thom sighed before he spoke. "If you want the rescues done differently, talk to the Administrators and give them your point of view. You know how hesitant they have been to take shopkeepers. Perhaps your argument will sway them."

"Doubtful," Armant's Brother said coming forward with an arm load of things, "they'd prefer to give the jobs to us old Warriors. Shopkeepers have never been taught to fight. They can be so difficult to retrain. They don't know their own strength."

It was like my friends and I weren't present. The men talked and I learned shopkeepers were hard to retrain. They'd been told they were unable to defend themselves their whole lives. Rescued shopkeepers needed protection until they figured out they did have power. They were hard to grab from the villages and annoyingly weak when they got here.

"I've told them we could train shopkeepers to fight. We've done it with the ones they've rescued," Armant said laying out the pieces his brother had brought. "We learned to sew and stitch. Shopkeepers are harder to rescue and to retrain, but we could do it."

Two outfits sat in front of Rose and me when the conversation was finished. The long leather skirts would go to our ankles and the thick brown blouses would cover our tops. Something that looked like boxer briefs were produced and laid on the table, there were several for each of us. Hannah must have told them what a bra was because Armant pulled out two of those also.

"How did you make these?" I said picking up a bra and staring at it.

The thing looked like it would probably fit me. The smaller one Rose picked up would probably fit her. The backs were made so they could be adjusted and they looked perfect.

"Hannah told us," Armant beamed as his family puffed with pride. "Your female offspring told us a human woman from your part of Earth would want to wear this. She estimated a size for each of you."

Rose and I were ushered to the back of the room to a secluded nook to change. Kennedy had explained humans liked privacy. The men wanted to do everything they could to make us feel human again. Thom explained we had been treated badly for too long.

Fuji wasn't offered clothing and I was glad. She would have been offended. Kennedy must have remembered her tolerance for cold and explained it before hand when they ordered our clothing.

Rose cried as I removed her ornamentation. She took the strips of translucent fabric from me and stuck it into a deep pocked in the skirt I handed her. That was a very good idea and I did the same thing with my blue ornamentation.

"We'll talk to Hannah," I told her. "My daughters will fix this."

In my heart I doubted this could be fixed that simply. These free men despised men that kept slaves. There was no Great Harmonious Spirit for men like Damien, Basin, and Stayne. They had made the wrong decision and were being punished for it.

The heavy linen of the shirt was warm and the bra was supportive. The skirt was nice and well suited for the weather here. I kept on the boots Thom had given me and felt totally dressed.

"Put the coats I gave you back on if you are cold," Thom stated once he saw we were finished.

Armant cleared his throat and stood looking pointedly at Thom. The other man just stood looking at him. Armant touched his throat and his wrist, but Thom still didn't get it.

"They aren't slaves, but they are still wearing the bands," Armant finally said sounding exasperated. "I cannot believe that Gunth did not remove them himself. The old man is not as observant as he once was."

Thom looked at Rose and I and muttered a curse to himself. He appeared embarrassed to not have noticed. Thom came toward me and I backed up.

"Rachel," he scolded, "I will not hurt you, but you cannot walk around wearing marks of slavery."

The idea of losing my collar terrified me. I'd been badly hurt when it was removed. My instinct was to wear it, even if it was a slave's mark. The thought of being surrounded by these men and no mark to prove to them I was cared for...

"No," I shook my head, "I like it. Let me keep it."

"You cannot wear a slave collar. This is a free society. You need to remove those signs of bondage," he said taking a step closer.

I cringed and Rose cringed with me. Fuji was behind Thom and made a strange sound low in her throat as a bit of hair fell off her head. Armant brought Fuji's strange hair loss to Thom's attention.

"Perhaps," Armant said slowly, "this should be left to the women."

"Yes," Thom said relaxing, "part of their retraining perhaps."

All the men murmured that this was a task the women should help us with. I got the feeling it was just a task they didn't want. My fingers involuntarily traced Damien's mark and I felt instantly calmer.

Rose, Fuji, and I were walked further down the wide interior walkway to a set of wide steps carved into the mountain. A literal stage was in front of the large opening to this cave. Thom stopped us and pointed into the well lighted area.

"This," Thom said, "is where the Administrators work. They can stand here and make announcements. There is a tool we have that can amplify and transmit sound. They use it when they are giving us directives or information."

Gunth's voice interrupted us as he came from the open area behind the stage. He walked slowly down the steps and thanked Thom. Gunth told him to go to his Brothers. They were part of the transport group that was collecting food from the fields today.

"Everyone has a job and contributes in this society," Gunth said to us as Thom took his leave. "All members are productive. Some men, like Thom's family, do multiple jobs depending on what is needed. They enjoy the diversity and wish to know how the entire camp runs. Should you decide to stay with us, we will expect you to tell us what you would like to do, also."

"Yes, Sir," I said softly and he smiled.

"My name is Gunth, Rachel, and I enjoy being called that," he stated and led us up the steps.

Behind the large stage was an open work space that was enormous. This seemed to be the nerve center for the camp. I saw several hallways branch off from this area and I wondered where they led. There were maps on the walls and many Paterians working over pads.

Women covered in glittering beads were working at tables that were a comfortable height for them. Men stood on blocks that put them at a good height for working at the same tables. Five men and two women stood at the head of the room. There was a short line of mixed men and women in front of them. I could just make out what was being said as we approached.

Two women were speaking to the Administrators as we approached. A family of men stood beside them.

"My Sister and I wish permission to mate with Darfus and his Brothers," the woman at the beginning of the line was saying to the individuals at the head of the room. "Neither my Sister or I have ever birthed a child. We are of age to mate and I believe we will succeed with this family. We get along very well."

The men beside the large woman agreed with her. They enjoyed the company of these women and thought things would work well between them. In the past they'd mated for fun, but they wished to create children, since the women were coming to that time in their cycle. The family of men stated they were ready for child rearing and felt they would be good at it.

One of the five men at the head of the room spoke to them politely. He asked exactly what sort of jobs the females usually did. The Administrator also wanted a list of the men's usual duties. He spoke with the group of female Administrators to insure all positions could be covered.

"They control breeding?" I asked shocked.

I had not meant to speak. Gunth didn't seem annoyed at the question and answered affirmatively.

"There are several families of Administrators, my Brothers and I are one. We ensure that those wishing to procreate do so in a way suitable for the whole of society. It would be unwise to have too many women carrying a child at one time or too many men relegated to child care afterward. Since our breeding numbers are so good, this is how we handle that."

I was confused and looked at Gunth with utter misunderstanding.

"The men do the child care? How can that be?"

Gunth smiled and continued to teach. Free men on Pateria were always the child care providers. Women knew when their young needed to feed, based on instinct. During the first year the women stayed close. As the children started to eat solid food, the maternal role became less and less.

"Women have no patience for the young," Gunth said quietly. "They are too independent. We men take care of the children as a group and arrange their care."

I was still shocked and turned to watch the Administrators at the head of the room.

They had a tablet that they used to access information.

"It would not be an ideal time for us to lose both your talents, cousins," one of the Administrators said, "but it is not the worst time."

The woman wasn't offended by the statement and wanted to know what made it not an ideal time. They discussed back and forth for many long moments. Eventually it was decided that one woman of the family could breed, but not both of them.

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