A Slave to the Servants Ch. 35byDoctorWolf©
Many thanks for all the well wishing! My little girl is happy and healthy. She was born 9 lbs 15 oz and 21 inches, I breed 'em big!
Many thanks to Steve150177 for his tireless efforts to make the story shine! I am very grateful for the time he puts into this.
I am WAY behind reading comments and feedback. Infants are time consuming, it seems, but I'll get the hang of it! I love knowing what you all have to say - good or bad.
I anticipate the next chapter will be out July 11 or July 12.
Thanks to everyone and please remember to vote and comment!
The day dragged on and I felt more and more excited as the time passed. I could feel my connection to my family getting stronger. Still there was a...reservation resonating though the bond. Something had the men feeling uncomfortable as they neared home. Their happiness was tempered by this hidden concern.
I knew the discomfort wasn't a serious injury to one of them. I could begin to detect each of their individual thoughts and none were gravely injured. Even Jonathan's signal felt strong and healthy. Bane's arm had been cut, but stitching was holding the wound closed. Christof had a shallow gash on his head, it had bled a great deal, but needed nothing other than pressure. Neither injury was life threatening, just annoying to them. In the flurry of the infirmary, I just couldn't concentrate on whatever was bothering them.
The men in the main cave had quickly cleared the foreign invaders out of our living spaces. It was a relief not to have to worry about that anymore, but I felt a new anxiety I could not place. Something was wrong and my family went back on alert, although all looked calm here. It was disconcerting.
We still had our guard at the door, but they were more relaxed. When Thom arrived with his family I hoped it was good news. It wasn't.
The announcement brought tears to my eyes.
"Gunth and his Brothers have gone to rest forever with The Great Harmonious Spirit," Thom announced as he entered. "They were attacked in the tunnels beneath the mountains. The aliens have found our hidden passages and they were lying in wait. This means our men cannot progress further without danger. They are trapped."
My hand flew over my mouth and a sob escaped my throat. Gunth would have done anything to protect his campmates. I had no doubt he had faced the aliens head on and never regretted doing it. He and his family had been unfailingly loyal to this world.
Thom continued to name the killed and injured. It was an impressively long list considering how few had been lost in the main battle. The snipers in the tunnels were doing more damage than the open war had done. The men in the tunnels were trapped. They couldn't move above ground in the mountains, because the women's field prevented travel by men above ground in the mountains.
"Turn off the shield!" Kana yelled suddenly. "Asper, you can access the control through the technology here. That shield is getting the men killed! It is not protecting them. We are allowing their deaths to happen!"
The women in the hall argued furiously around us, beaded and unbeaded. Even the badly injured managed to speak up and call out their opinions. This was a serious step for the women. That shield had been in place for generations, turning it off was unprecedented.
A large woman without beads raised her head from her warm stone. She looked around at all of us before demanding access to a pad, NOW!
The force field in the mountains that had for so long trapped men in the compounds was turned off. Asper had accessed the system that controlled the shield. She had the codes and the authority to remove it. In fact, it appeared she had the authority to remove it from most of the world.
I watched the woman in awe as she lay her head back down and rested. The men had talked about her quietly when she was brought here. After her Sisters were killed, it appeared she had single-handedly killed off a squadron of fifty aliens before she was incapacitated. The invaders had almost killed her before our men arrived.
Asper was the toughest woman they'd ever seen. She was massive and her wing span looked huge, even folded. The powerful presence she exuded was almost palpable. If this world had a queen, it appeared she was right here. Hopefully, that was a good thing.
I felt relief move through my bond the moment the field was turned off. The men were connected to one another and they knew it was gone. I saw a flash of light in my mind as the men shot out the roof of their tunnel and resumed their journey above ground.
Rose and I worked through the rest of the day and part of the night. I was more than willing to keep working, but my body would not cooperate. When a stumble took me to my knees in front of Aryn, he demanded I lay down. Working to exhaustion could damage my baby. It was a good argument and I listened.
The men had a small alcove at the back of the healing room. When Thom had ordered I stay in here, they'd put several mats back there for me. The warm stones were needed for the wounded. They'd created a comfortable place for me to sleep, so I went there and slept.
The next day was more of what we'd already experienced. The organized alien attack was splintered and scattered. Our camp had been cleared of invaders, but I stayed safely in the healing room, from there I heard the reports. There was fighting here and fighting there, but it had lost the grand scale. This appeared to be the clean up.
My family got closer and closer. They were holding something back from me, but I couldn't tell what it was. Something had upset them and they didn't want to let me know what it was, yet. I thought perhaps it was Gunth's death that had them anxious, so I didn't push the issue.
I felt the moment my family entered our camp. The elation was like nothing I'd experienced before. I bolted from the healing room and ran as well as I could for the transport storage area.
The sight before me had me standing in awe.
There were hundreds of transports, loaded full of men, being directed to land. I saw men dressed like shopkeepers and Warriors from the compounds. Other men appeared to be wearing what the men in the mountains wore. They had brought everyone back here.
"They brought the whole world to this camp?!" I heard Rose say beside me.
She sounded as shocked as I felt.
"Not the whole world," a man laughed beside us. "We took who we could, other camps have done the same thing. No one is left at the compounds or in the mountains. We had to split the men up between several different camps. Some of these men are from the Barnas compound, some from the Caras, and some rescued from the T'aran Mountains. The compounds and the mountains are not safe and our resources are here. The women's ships are defending the ore in the mountains, but we will defend our cousins."
"As we teach them," the man's Brother said watching with us, "we will teach them freedom and The Great Harmonious Spirit."
All around us were murmured promises. It was time these other men understood. They had been kept in the dark for much too long.
I didn't dare move and stood still watching the carefully organized landing. I felt my family and knew they were there. In the mass of men, I just wasn't sure where they were.
Once the transports were settled the men all waited for instructions. A wave caught my eye at the far wall and I saw Christof's face beaming at me. I ran for him without another thought.
My men looked tired and dirty. Christof's left temple was bound where he had been injured. Still I couldn't stop myself from wrapping my arms around him. He hugged my shoulders tight. A hand drifted down to greet the offspring still in my belly as he smiled at me.
"We have missed you, wife," he said softly before handing me off to Damien.
Tears were running down my face as I passed my hands over Damien's shoulders and felt the tense muscles of his back. His face was rough with stubble and I could smell several days worth of sweat on him. Getting here safely had been a harrowing journey.
"I promised you," he whispered in my ear as he held me tight. "We all did, but we aren't sure..."
I backed away and looked at him. He was unsure. Over his shoulder Evan looked even more unsure. They didn't know how I would react and they didn't want me to panic. They'd been told stress was not good for the baby I carried, but I had to know.
The women had implants and controlled the men. They had used the implants to erase our little boys' memories of their mountain birth. It wouldn't do to have them remember their female breeders and a time when the mountains were a safe place.
Damien moved and I saw the sight I had waited many moons for. Little Jonathan, standing to just above my knee. My baby was dirty and his clothing scuffed, but he was unharmed. Jonathan stood with four other boys and they looked so very confused.
Instinctively, I reached for my son and he backed away, as did his Brothers. They looked nervously from Evan to Damien as though seeking reassurance. My heart broke as I drew my hand back.
"This is family," Evan said gently. "We told you about this. This is not a slave and you can touch her. You know this human Jonathan; she is your female breeder."
Big, blue eyes looked like they were trying hard to trust what Evan told him. He looked back at me and I saw the ambivalence he was feeling. His Brothers reached out to touch him in comfort. This was unsettling to them.
"He feels me," I said softly, "but he doesn't know why."
Evan stepped past Damien and wrapped his arms around me. He spoke softly into my hair. Had Evan been human his voice would have been breaking.
"Just as he feels me, but he doesn't know why he does. He can't understand what we are telling him. He can't remember. It upsets him and therefore them."
I buried my face in Evan's neck for a moment and breathed in his familiar scent. My body shook with silent sobs as I mourned for my boy, for our boy. All the love and care we had showed him had been callously wiped away. We didn't even exist to our own baby.
"We exist," Evan said tightening his hold, "he is ours to care for again. He is not lost to us."
Kein spoke from behind me and I felt his hands on my hips.
"He will learn and he will remember," Kein promised. "It has not been too long."
I wiggled from Evan's arms and threw myself into Kein's embrace. He was right. Jonathan was home now and we would remind him. Softly, I kissed Kein before greeting Bane. The big man was gentle as he held me and I brushed my lips against his skin. I was so glad to see all of them.
Wiping my eyes I looked back over at Jonathan's family. Evan knelt on one knee beside them and explained what a hug and a kiss were. He told the boys that was how humans greeted others they cared for.
I realized I'd never been introduced to Jonathan's family. Aiden I recognized, he was taller than the rest and I felt sure that trend would continue. The other children I'd only seen the day Nu-reeh had sold them.
"Mycah is the lead Brother," Damien said pointing out one of the boys.
Mycah was taller than Jonathan, but not as tall as Aiden. He had golden brown hair cut short on his head. He watched me with very wary eyes.
Niah and Rees were the other two children. Niah was darkly striped like Aiden and quite lanky, but Rees almost had a ruddy complexion. Looking at Rees' height, I realized it was closer to Jonathan's short stature. I imagined the second boy had some human blood in his line somewhere. It would explain the coloration and his smaller size.
I wiped the tears from my eyes and smiled at my men and my boys. Suddenly a familiar sight caught my blurry eyes. I grabbed Bane's left hand and looked at the small metal band on his left ring finger.
"What did you do?" I asked touching the metal.
It wasn't shiny metal, but I saw a symbol etched into it. My symbol was on it. Kein had the same metal band on. They all did.
"We were bored in the tunnels," Evan explained touching his. "We made these to show everyone we are yours. Some men have many mates, but that is not what we want. We only wish to mate with you. These bands tell everyone that."
"They aren't slave bands," Christof said. "You thought about these; they are wedd-ing rings."
I looked from one of them to the next and couldn't get over the surprise. I wasn't sure how they'd done this. Their memories told me. Men in the tunnels worked repairing metal weapons as they waited. Damien and his Brothers had asked to be taught the procedure and quietly made these with the same technology and scraps when they weren't doing other things.
"My Brothers and I talked," Damien shrugged, "we wish to let everyone know you are our mate, our only mate. This seemed a good way."
Usually both parties in a marriage or mating would wear rings. I felt a little left out.
"I also only want you and your Brothers," I told Damien firmly. If they were wearing rings, I wanted one too.
"We made you one," Christof said sheepishly. "It is not a slave band and you can take it off if you no longer wish to be our mate."
Damien took my left hand and slid the cool metal over my finger. The ring fit perfectly. It was etched with Damien's family symbol and each man's number.
I kissed each of them again in thanks. This was a very sweet gesture. In the middle of a war they'd been thinking of me.
The little ones watched us but they appeared slightly shell shocked.
"Have they slept and eaten?" I asked Damien. "They don't look..."
I let the sentiment hang, but the men understood. The little boys were stressed and they did not appear well. Life in the compound was based on pattern and repetition. Being trapped in the middle of a war and then transported a world away was too much, too quickly.
Damien took control and picked up his bag. The rest of the men did the same and the boys copied the men. Each boy had a small satchel of things. From what my family knew I understood it was a few things they'd grabbed before they were rescued from the compound.
"We will take our things back to our room," Damien said briskly. "We have responsibilities today. There are Child Keepers we can leave them with until our job is completed. The little ones stay with us when we are not working. They are ours to protect."
I looked longingly at Jonathan and wanted to be the one to take care of him, but that wasn't a good idea. The boys were not sure of me and needed to be left somewhere they felt safe. The family mind settled and I knew we would slowly remind Jonathan, but it wouldn't happen this instant. At this moment he'd be better off with Child Keepers and the other children.
A low sound like a horn cut through the air and everyone turned toward the center of the room. Men carried what were obviously the wrapped remains of our fallen men and women into the camp. We all stood still as the procession moved into the main area.
I watched the bodies pass and noted how different they all looked. The wrappings had obviously been hastily scavenged and were a variety of colors and fabrics. On the outside of each one was a family name and number.
It surprised me to see a family I knew carrying a body with their family symbol. The four men walked quietly with the remains of their Brother held proudly above them. Their grief was obvious, but I was shocked that they'd survived the loss.
"It is The Great Spirit," Damien murmured very softly. "We are not alone when we have our friends and cousins. They are part of us and keep us strong. We are not alone on this world."
Men could survive losing family, they just had to have the protection of The Great Harmonious Spirit. I watched closely and noted many men carrying their deceased Brothers. They were not dying like I would have expected. The men in the camp were made much more powerful by The Spirit.
I saw Gunth's five family members being carried in. The wrapped bodies were held proudly aloft. There was a charge that went through all of us as our fallen leaders went by. A sob caught in my throat and I started to tear. Gunth's family had been made up of great men and I would miss them.
My family was surprised at my reaction. Gunth was not dead in the simplistic way I thought of it. Gunth was part of The Great Harmonious Spirit now.
Gunth and his family had spent their lives dedicated to the ways of The Great Harmonious Spirit. They'd taught countless men the meaning and importance of it. Once their bodies were consecrated back into the pool of Paterian fire they would finally be a physical part of it. Gunth had lost nothing and neither had we. His whole family was alive and well in all of us who followed The Spirit.
The men looked serene as they watched their fallen comrades go by. These men and women were not lost to us. They were merely in the place where there was no pain or fighting, only peace.
It was the Paterian equivalent of heaven and I had to smile. The concept brought closure to the beings here. I couldn't imagine how isolated the men must have felt on the compound when they were denied that. The Great Harmonious Spirit certainly gave them a sense of completeness.
The stream of bodies continued, many of the large women toted on transports, and I wondered where they were going.
"The thing the women dip their wings into, the lava," Kein said softly. "We are delivered back to our planet."
The lava took the Paterians back to their source. As the bodies sunk into the strange substance it got hotter. Women had studied the lava or Paterian fire and knew the bodies literally melted deep beneath the surface of the planet. After a time the body was no longer separate from the fire.
The idea of burial beneath the dirt was quite foreign here. At the compound dead men had just disappeared, but this is what had always happened. All Paterians were always delivered back to their planet the same way.
I was saddened that Gunth got no headstone or remembrance. Damien quirked a brow at my memories. A plaque on the wall wouldn't be a bad thing. He would ask the Administrators to consider that.
We stood for a very long time watching the dead pass by. Even the boys stood stoically watching the procession. Everyone seemed to understand the respect that was due those that had given their lives for the rest of us.
Once the last body was gone I saw Thom striding toward us. He looked purposeful and his eyes were on me.
"Ciara," he called once he was close, "you have done a great deal for the Healers, but your skills are needed elsewhere."
I was stunned by his mannerism, he was acting quite official.
Damien wasn't surprised. Thom and his family wanted Administrative duties. He was probably "filling in" to prove his family a suitable replacement for Gunth and his Brothers. I nodded in understanding and agreed politely to do whatever would help the camp. Thom had been good to me and I wanted him to succeed.
"The men brought back many former slaves," Thom said lowering his voice. "They are scared and they do not understand. We need you and Rose to help us with them."
I wanted to stay with my family and get to know my little boy again, but I understood Thom's urgency. The former slaves were probably terrified and confused. At least Rose and I had some knowledge about what was going on when we were freed. These poor women would be completely lost.
"We'll see you at the evening meal," Damien promised as I turned to him, a nod and a smile to all my family and I was gone.
The transport area was busy as I followed Thom through it after we picked up Rose. Men from the camp greeted Rose and me, but the other men just stared. Our mannerisms weren't that of slaves anymore and we wore swords just like they did. Many murmured as they noted the guns we also carried. The men had seen the destruction those weapons could do. The new weapons gave Rose and me immense power. It must have been confusing.