The Rebellious Slave Ch. 12byHisPet21©
Then, Arlington nodded his understanding. And poor Alice, appalled that the Slave Master should bet on her appeal, sat silently in her seat, crying quietly and mumbling over and over again: "But I have a good lawyer this time. They promised. He's a really good lawyer." But Arlington ignored the girl and turned back to her file. As far as Arlington was concerned, Alice was a slave now, by reason if not by law.
A public defender would be a low paid youngster, fresh out of law school, with ten or more cases on his desk at a time. Innocent or not, Alice couldn't win against a legislator with a public defender. And if she were on her last appeal, as Nimbus claimed, then she was as good as Arlington's. There would be no point in waiting for the decision on Alice's appeal. Everyone present knew how it would turn out. Still, the name "James Montrey" rang a bell, and Arlington was curious about the girl's case.
"What did you do?" he asked Alice, and the Slave Master backed away into a corner, to silently observe.
"I didn't do anything!" Alice insisted, her nose running and wet. "I swear I didn't do anything! Mister Montrey is a liar! He stole his own money, and he's blaming it on me! He's just trying to evade taxes, my lawyer said so!" And for the first time that evening, Alice looked Arlington square in the face. Her eyes were huge, and seemed out of place on her soft, fragile face. The proportions were so off, in fact, that Alice resembled a porcelain doll. Arlington couldn't decide if the look was creepy, or unabashedly cute.
"Now, calm down," Lord Arlington ordered, and Alice returned to her silent little sniffles. "What, exactly, didn't you do? What crime were you convicted of, specifically?" And Arlington, while he waited for an answer, began to skim through Alice's file. She'd gone to college for a year and a half, studying to be zoologist, before quitting mid semester and going to work for a seamstress. That was interesting. Arlington would have to ask her about that later.
And, finally, Alice answered Arlington. "Robbery," she admitted, looking down toward the floor, shame on her face.
"How much?" Arlington demanded.
"A quarter of a million dollars," Alice whispered.
And Arlington looked up from Alice's file, raising his eyebrows in surprise. "That's an awful lot of money," he mused, watching as Alice winced and turned away.
The girl was awfully nervous for a supposedly innocent victim, but perhaps the tendency had been drilled into her. Alice must have spent a long time in prison. The appeals process was a long one, and the girl had probably been behind bars for at least eighteen months, maybe more. With that kind of jail time under a prisoner's belt, it wasn't unusual to feel guilty for no good reason. If enough people had told Alice that she was a criminal, a small part of her subconscious may have started to believe their words. Arlington ought to know that; he'd used the trick himself, before.
"You want to tell me how they caught you?" Arlington asked, eyeing the girl with increasing interest.
"Motivation," Alice replied, relaxing a bit now, perhaps out of necessity. Her breath came in little puffs as she spoke, and she swayed gently in her seat, perhaps as a self calming measure. "But having the motivation to commit a crime does not a crook make." And Alice stuck her chin out proudly, the gesture unusual given the girl's typically timid demeanor, so that a solemn beauty crossed over her features.
Arlington liked that look.
"So," Arlington continued, trying to lean back in his seat. But the chair almost slipped out from beneath him, reminding Arlington that it was way too small for a man of his stature. And before falling onto his back, his lordship quickly regained his balance. "Now," Arlington continued, catching his breath and trying to act natural. "Why did you decide to become a slave?" And Alice looked guiltily away. How very interesting.
"It says here that the typical punishment for your crime would be exile, to the Open Desert," his lordship insisted, motioning toward Alice's file, watching her try and back away into herself. She didn't like it when Arlington talked about her sentence. "But why did you opt for a life of enslavement, instead? That seems to be a rather dangerous gamble, don't you think?" And Lord Arlington grinned sinisterly at Alice, to gauge her reaction. "Slaves aren't protected under common law, and not all masters are kind."
"Well..." Alice began, swallowing hard, her face fearful. But when she stared off into space, as if incapable of speech, Lord Arlington became impatient and motioned for the girl to continue. "If I'm exiled, I lose my citizenship status," Alice tried, still fidgeting nervously. But then, with a deep breath, she relented and launched into the whole story, her speaking rapid and rushed. "If I lose my citizenship status, even if they do find out that I am innocent someday, I won't be allowed back into the country. And my mom kind of needs me. I had to quit school to take care of her, and earn an income. She has enough savings to last her the next year, but she has some unknown ailment, and her treatments are kind of expensive. But when they find out that Montrey is lying, they'll let me out, and I can go back to work for my mom." And Alice looked up at Lord Arlington, made hopeful by the thought of freedom.
Lord Arlington didn't want a slave with that kind of baggage, nor a slave who would spend all day worrying about her family and wishing to go home. Arlington wanted a dedicated slave, not one who would constantly dream of freedom and then, when she had the chance, try and leave. Alice was an unfit slave, Arlington realized. He would have to find himself another.
But Arlington didn't want another slave. He wanted Alice, and he wanted her badly. She was such an adorable creature, and an interesting one, too. She seemed to embody both bravery and shyness, which had somehow reconciled their differences inside of her and melded into a single entity. And her fragile, tiny little body awakened protective instincts within Arlington, which he thoroughly enjoyed. And so, right there and then, Arlington made up his mind to leave with Alice on the end of a leash. But he wanted a slave who was attached to him, or at least felt indebted to him.
"Shut off the camera," Arlington demanded of Nimbus, pointing to the device, and the Slave Master obeyed. After all, Lord Arlington was no ordinary customer. He was a powerful customer, rich and famous, and he would get what he asked for. "And is that the only recording device in here?" his lordship pressed. Nimbus nodded.
"Good," Lord Arlington replied, sounding satisfied. And he turned toward Alice, his eyes serious. "How much did you make as a seamstress?"
"Minimum wage," Alice replied, unsure of where this was going. Lord Arlington was a wealthy man. Surely, he wouldn't need an Income Slave? Why would he care about her earning potential?
"And was minimum wage enough to take care of your mother?" Arlington pressed, his eyes still trained on Alice, unwavering.
"Barely," Alice admitted. "I had to take out loans."
"Confess," Arlington ordered, pointing toward the security camera of the cell, and Alice's face dropped.
"But, my lord," Alice pleaded, tears returning to her eyes. "I didn't do it!"
"Confess," Arlington demanded, his voice more forceful than before. "Call up your lawyer tonight, have the appeal dropped, and I will deposit half a million dollars in your mother's bank account. Will that be enough to take care of her, at least for the next several years?" And he watched as understanding lit up his little slave's eyes. At first, they were filled with hope and joy, but then they suddenly darkened, and Arlington thought he knew why.
"Confess, and your slavery will be a permanent arrangement," Arlington admitted, and Alice looked at the cuffs around her wrists nervously, then towards the metal bars which crisscrossed over the little window in the locked door. "But that's the deal I'm offering. Take it or leave it. And as Nimbus has so eloquently explained, your chances of a successful appeal are close to zero."
It took her a while, but with a tiny, barely noticeable nod, Alice finally agreed to the arrangement. She knew that she was being coerced, but beggars can't be choosers, and Arlington's option was the best one Alice had. And with that, Arlington motioned for Nimbus to turn the camera back on, so that Alice could confess on tape.
An hour later, Alice was sitting beside Lord Arlington in his limo, with a leather collar wrapped around her neck. The Slave Registration Number tattooed below her shoulder still hurt, and she itched at it often, leaving blood under her finger nails. The tracking implant didn't bother her nearly so much, but the cuffs did, and she itched underneath those as well.
Carefully, Alice scooted away from Lord Arlington, trying not to appear too rude, and looked longingly out the window. It had been ages since she'd seen the outside world, and the bustling of activity in the West Shopping District excited her. There were food vendors, and street performers, and children begging their parents for cotton candy or popcorn, and windows filled with clothes and shiny appliances.
But though she enjoyed the sounds and sights before her, Alice had still been on edge ever since they'd entered Arlington's car. Whenever he approached her, Alice scooted away, but his lordship would not allow Alice to escape. As Alice continued to edge farther and farther away from her new master, he followed her, closing the gap between them until it was nearly nonexistent.
"What are you so afraid of?" Arlington asked, sincerity in his tone.
"You!" Alice replied, but her voice was not malicious or even frightened. It was just honest, adorably honest. And the naivety on his girl's face made Arlington laugh until he was close to tears. When he finally did turn back to Alice, she had a pouty look on her face. It was obvious that she did not like being laughed at, nor did she find the situation funny.
But the innocence in Alice's eyes, combined with that pouty look, sent Arlington over the edge and into more peals of unstoppable laughter, genuine and boyish. Soon, actual tears had appeared in Arlington's eyes, and he wiped them away, still chuckling and trying to get a hold of himself.
"Come on, now," Arlington grinned, picking up Alice, so that she squeaked, and setting her onto his lap. "When was the last time you had a pastry?"
And Arlington directed the driver to stop by his favorite bakery.