NSC – The Endless Night – Chapter 4 – Emergent Cohesion

Thank you for reading! This is an NSC written by Aia and InBrightestDay, written with my approval and reference. Discussion for this story will be primarily located on discord! Come on in and let us know what you thought, we don’t bite.

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“There is no hope, so give up now! Your bodies belong to the Empire!” The Huntmaster’s voice resounded from the speakers as his face flashed on the large wall-mounted screen.

“I know, Huntmaster.” Krathan sighed, hunched over in a chair meant for slaves about one-fifth his size. “Sometimes I wonder if there ever was any hope.”

“That’s meant to be for the slaves, brother, not for us,” Grakrash said.

“Does it matter who it’s meant for?” Krathan asked, voice a growl. He glanced at the bottle of orange kashlaan wine in his hand. “It’s true, isn’t it?”

“Krathan, honestly,” Grakrash said. “The systems test should be over soon and it’ll go back to being quiet again. Just the way you like it.”

“Sure,” Krathan grumbled, taking another swig. The liquor stung as it burned down his throat, a blissful distraction from the headache. “Until we start taking terran slaves aboard and these damn screens start playing all day and night.”

“You’ll have an entirely new species of slave to fuck, brother!” Grakrash smiled.

“And I can probably expect my workload to triple,” Krathan muttered. “At least if that party of yours is any indication of how people here get when they get their paws on ‘novel’ slaves.”

“You really are so pessimistic, Krathan,” Grakrash said. “There’ll be a lot of excitement at first, of course, but I’m sure everything will go back to normal eventually!”

“Yes, it’ll go back to ‘normal’. Do you know how many pairs of wings I’ve had to reset or replace in just the last two days, Grakrash?” Krathan demanded. “What passes for normal here is freakish, honestly.”

“Well you can’t expect people around here to act like they do back home. We’re amongst nobility now, after all! People of exquisite tastes and appetites!” Grakrash said, practically radiating oppressive enthusiasm. “It’s only natural that the treatment of heitera and unowned slaves alike goes far beyond the level you’re accustomed to amongst the rabble.”

“Aren’t we part of the rabble?” Krathan asked. “Honestly, this just feels like shit flowing downhill. They get to beat, torture, and use their slaves all day, and then they toss their heitera to me to patch up. What happens tomorrow then? The same damn thing!”

“There is no hope, so give up now! Your bodies belong to the Empire!”

“I know, Huntmaster. No hope,” Krathan sighed, taking another swig.

“Like I said, brother, the message isn’t meant for us,” Grakrash said. “It’s been proven to keep slaves compliant and make breaking them easier. helping out the new owners. I mean, I’d really rather break in slaves myself of course. Not that Anisa and Metzili needed much breaking.”

“You do realize, Grakrash, that slaves that are kept constantly terrorized and in pain also end up with more fragile bodies and worse health?” Krathan said. “As a vet, I can tell you that you’re handling your heitera responsibly if you want to torture her to break them in or punish them. Tormenting them once they’re already well-behaved isn’t going to give them much incentive to better themselves. Every single comparative study I’ve read says the same thing.”

“Well, sometimes it’s better to punish them too much instead of too little. That way, they don’t forget who owns them and why we still feed and bed them,” Grakrash said, turning to face Krathan. “It’s better to be careful, isn’t it?”

Krathan grunted, glancing around the room as he digested his brother’s words. He’d had certain expectations about what working on a battleship would be like, some of which had been entirely subverted by his experiences on the Night. He’d never have thought he’d have a larger clinic on the warship than back home, for example. Despite that, the waiting area was tiny. If all the seats were occupied, some of the larger slaves probably couldn’t do much to stop their bodies, which were often bruised, cut, or even flayed, from pressing up against each other. Krathan scowled. He really needed to have a word with the builders about expanding the waiting area.

“There is no hope, so give up now! Your bodies belong to the Empire!”

“Why do we even have this moronic screen in this place anyways?” Krathan snapped. “It makes all the slaves miserable! Don’t you think it’s difficult enough to treat slaves with compound fractures and bruises and internal bleeding and second and third degree burns without also throwing chronic depression into the mix? It’s like they want their slaves to die in my operating theatre! If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that this entire thing was a setup to sabotage my practitioner stats!” Grakrash chuckled, and Krathan snapped his head around.

“What’s so funny?” Krathan demanded with a growl.

“Nothing, brother. I just forgot how seriously you took this job.”

Krathan snorted, slumping back in the seat. He shifted awkwardly, his massive tail preventing him from leaning comfortably against the backrest. “I also remember how seriously you took yours.”

Grakrash chuckled. “You really are so mean, brother,” he said. “Honestly, I really did think Anisa would be helping your mood by now. Is she not enjoyable? Should I go encourage her?”

“No!” Krathan gritted his teeth at his sudden outburst, growling. “It’s fine.”

“It’s not fine if my slave isn’t treating my brother like he deserves to be treated, Krathan. I lent her to you thinking she’d help you relax and unwind a bit, you know?” Grakrash clasped Krathan’s shoulder. “Any slave that doesn’t treat my family right’s going to have a problem with me, and Anisa’s not just any slave. If you’re not having fun with her, it’s not because she can’t pleasure you. It’s because she’s not trying hard enough.”

Krathan locked his jaw, growling. He really didn’t want to talk about this. “I haven’t used the cephalian yet.”

“Oh? You haven’t?” Grakrash asked, eyes widening, “Well, then there’s your problem isn’t it? Go fuck her then!” Grakrash chuckled, snatching the bottle from Krathan’s paw. Grakrash gave the liquor a sniff. “She’ll make you feel better far faster than this garbage.”

Krathan scowled, “I’ll get around to it.”

The room fell silent again. Krathan waited for the irritating recorded loop of the Huntmaster to start playing again, but it never did. The test appeared to be, at least temporarily, over. Krathan glanced towards the entrance to the waiting room. No new patients today. That, if nothing else, was a small mercy.

Grakrash turned to Krathan. “It’s not normally this quiet, is it?”

“No, it’s usually a lot busier near the end of the shifts,” Krathan responded. “It’s usually the point where people start going to sleep after a day with their heitera, and when their heitera can finally come to me if they need medical attention.”

“Well, it’s good that we have some time.” Grakrash smiled. “Krathan, you mind joining me? There’s someone I want you to meet.”

“If it’s Avraks, you don’t need to remind me; I keep a good track of my clients,” Krathan said. “My meeting with him isn’t for another two hours.” 

“Lord Avraks, Krathan. You need to remember to refer to the higher officers with the proper amount of respect.” Krathan grunted and Grakrash sighed. “Brother, little things like these are important. They distinguish us from the regular people. We’re with nobles now; we can’t just keep acting like we always have.” Krathan sighed, scratching his face.

“I can call him Lord Avraks if you want, as dumb as that’ll make me sound. In any case, my appointment with him is booked around an hour before lunch.”

“It’s not actually Lord Avraks I want you to meet,” Grakrash said. “No, I actually found someone else I want you to see before that. He’s free today, fortunately. He completely cleared his schedule to come see you.”

“I’m already booked full on clients,” Krathan said, “and I’m also taking care of your heitera during my own time now. I really can’t afford to take on any more recurring patients.”

“Oh, it’s nothing like that. I’m sure that even if I find you no work, you’d find a way to bury yourself in the stuff somehow. No, I’m thinking about the kind of things you do outside of work,” Grakrash said, smiling. “It’s just like you said about the slaves. If you put too much stress on yourself, it’s going to really affect your performance in the long run. It is, in fact, why I found a friend to keep you company!”

Krathan spent a long while, a good twenty seconds by his estimation, subjecting Grakrash to the deepest scowl his face could manage before he even considered turning away. The fact that Grakrash laughed at his reaction didn’t help his mood any.

“Come now, brother. Don’t be like that,” Grakrash laughed. “Having a friend will be good for you! If you’re staying on this ship for any length of time, you’re going to want someone to talk to whenever you’re not on duty or studying.”

“I have you to talk to, and if I’m really desperate I can always talk to my patients,” Krathan said. “They may be much less intelligent than we are, but at least they can hold something like a conversation. The arane can, anyways.”

“I won’t always be there to talk to you, Krathan. I have my own friends I need to go see, and I’ll also have less and less time to talk to you the closer we get to the invasion,” Grakrask said. “You’re going to need to find someone to talk to you, and talking to a heitera isn’t going to mentally stimulate you. By Shau’lun, sometimes even I can’t seem to mentally stimulate you.”

“I’ve done fine without friends, Grakrash,” Krathan grunted. “And I have your heitera to distract myself. I’m building an enclosure for her.”

“Anisa’s a good little fuckdoll, brother, but you need relationships with real people as well.” Grakrash said. “I picked out someone perfect for you! He doesn’t have any friends either, and apparently he barely needs to send his heitera to the vet, so you don’t need to worry about being pestered on that front. He’s also very talkative, so you don’t need to do much to keep the conversation going! It’ll be perfect!”

“I don’t see how any of that is positive…” Krathan muttered.

“Oh don’t be like that,” Grakrash said, standing up and striding over to the entrance. He reached up and banged on the door with an open paw. “Ehnkath, you can come in!”

The door hissed and slid open, revealing a figure standing in the corridor beyond. Krathan felt a sinking in his stomach as he saw the long, draping robes and the cursive calligraphy running down each of the strips like text down a scroll. Did Grakrash actually invite a Shau’lunite cultist to his clinic?

No. That wasn’t it. Those fanatics might have shared in this stranger’s affinity for large, heavy, and impractical robes, but these ones were too bright and colorful. The man painted the dark green scales on his face with swirls of white and red, mimicking some primitive depiction of the blowing wind.

The stranger’s orange eyes swept the room until they found Krathan. The kthid in front of him was of average height and rather scrawny, yet he still bore an unnerving, otherworldly air about him.

A mirucain heitera stood silently behind the man. The woman was tall and statuesque, her nude body covered in the same red and white swirls that painted the man’s face whilst her neck was ringed with a light but elaborate golden collar. Her horns had been molded, the elegant and simplistic natural curves replaced with a pattern that forked away from her skull like frozen lightning.

The stranger waved his hand and his dark-skinned property obeyed, reaching up to one horn and pressing a button beneath it.

And then music began playing.

Krathan pinched his cheek until it hurt. No, he was definitely awake. He was also reasonably sure he hadn’t taken any hallucinogens this morning.

The stranger threw the ribboned sleeves backwards and gave a deep bow. To his side, his heitera stood with a wince on her face. The music coming out of her horns must have been bordering on painful, judging by how her ears wilted and drooped like leaves during a drought. The music itself was almost comically dramatic, like the most excessive war movie score ever conceived.

“Greetings, fellow seeker of knowledge, perfection, and beauty. I have come from afar, crossing the void of space and the twisting grand constructs of machinery to come to this most auspicious of meetings!” The robe wearing man announced. “I have been called by many names in my various incarnations across countless millennia, but you may refer to me as Ehnkath the Blessed!”

“Just for the record, he’s nineteen. He’s even from the faliran war generation, just like you,” Grakrash whispered.

“He was waiting outside the whole time?” Krathan asked.

“Of course.” Grakrash smiled, “He was very excited to meet you once I told him you wanted to make friends with him.”

“You told him what?”

“I needed to get him to come here somehow didn’t I?” Grakrash asked under his breath. “Look, neither of you have friends; this is a great opportunity for the both of you to socialize more! Who knows, he might even be able to help you find a heitera you like.”

“Why have you fallen silent, o Krathan the Mender?” Ehnkath asked. His heitera’s expression was a unique kind of mortified, the likes of which Krathan rarely saw even in his practice. “We have journeyed far to arrive at this crossing of paths! There is no need to hide your joy at this momentous occasion! Let your appreciation and joy flow forth, and let us bask in the light of our newly forged rapport!”

“I did try to find you a science caste friend, but they didn’t seem interested. An artist caste member isn’t bad either, though, right?” Grakrash asked. “He might be a bit much, but he’s completely harmless. Now you have someone to talk with about your medical discoveries, and he can show you all his new artwork. It’s a win-win.”

“My sanity feels distinctly bruised, Grakrash.” Krathan turned to face the newcomer.

“Ehnkath, do I have that right? I do want to apologize for my brother’s deception. I was not, in fact, looking for a friend. It’s actually the last thing on my mind right now.” Krathan leaned back. “I’m sorry my brother had you come all the way down here, but I’m very busy.”

“Ah, so obligation and duty stand in the way of acquiring what you truly want!” Ehnkath gasped, pressing on before Krathan could get a word in. “That is truly a tragic tale, and one which I have heard often before. Fear not! Through our perseverance and a desire to not surrender this newly forged fellowship regardless of the price, we shall forge a path through these dark times!”

“I – look, that’s what I’m trying to tell you. This is a misunderstanding,” Krathan said, holding up both paws. “It’s not that I’m being stopped from getting friends. I genuinely haven’t been looking for a friend.”

“Ah! I see! I understand!” Ehnkath said, closing his eyes. “Your conscious mind was unaware of this momentous meeting. Instead, it was your heart that called out for me and beckoned me here!”

Krathan locked his jaw, looking in his brother’s direction. Grakrash shrugged and smiled encouragingly. Krathan turned to look at the robed man again before his eyes flickered to the side. The stranger’s slave was wearing a deep grimace on her face. Her eyes were pointed at the ground, but they flickered up and widened in panic as Krathan strode towards the doorway.

“Ah, do you wish to embrace? Or perhaps to clasp our hands together to mark this occasion?” Ehnkath asked, turning as Krathan strode around the artist and walked out into the corridor. “Oh, so we are to depart from here then my fellow? Speak to me, if you please! To where shall we journey next upon this grand adventure we call life?”

“I’m going to my bedroom,” Krathan said, not looking back at the artist. “It’s been nice meeting you, now please never talk to me again.”

“Ehnkath’s no good for you then?” Grakrash asked, jogging to catch up to Krathan. “Sorry, brother. I’ll look for someone else.”

“I’d rather you didn’t, Grakrash.” Krathan sighed, walking down the darkened corridor. “I’m not feeling well right now, brother. I think I’m going to sleep.”

“Oh. Well, sleep well, Krathan!” Grakrash called. “I hope you feel better soon!”

The hallways leading away from the clinic were dark, lit with just enough light to stop people and slaves from crashing into the walls. Sealed hexagonal doors ran down the length of just about every exposed wall. Beyond were the cryogenic pods, awaiting the slaves that would soon be harvested to fill the Night’s yawning belly. The pathways were empty; desolate. That suited Krathan just fine, however. It felt like he had just experienced enough ‘social interaction’ to last him the next ten years.

He took the first left, down the easily-missed alleyway, and strode to the very end of the path, turning left again to face a door. The biometric scanner beeped softly and Krathan’s bedroom door hissed as it opened. He shambled into his darkened bedroom, glancing towards what was easily the most notable piece of furniture in the entire chamber.

The cephalian’s aquarium had arrived earlier this morning, the object more like a fuel drum than an actual enclosure. The literature said that cephalians could be healthily housed inside of such aquariums for extended periods of time, however. The cylinder was constructed of glass and treated with a coat of specialized paint. When the light in the aquarium was on, as it currently was, the cephalian would be unable to see out through it, whilst outside observers would be at liberty to admire her body.

Grakrash’s heitera had curled up on one side of the cylinder with the water coming halfway up her belly. A soft, mournful song carried from her mouth and into the microphones set in the tank. The sound was then projected through speakers atop the cylinder. Krathan frowned. What a peculiar design.

Stepping closer towards the aquarium, Krathan found his fingers curling into his palm. The cephalian was crying. Her chest heaved as she sobbed, accompanied by the slowly pulsing colors of her skin. Krathan reached for the lid at the top of the aquarium, opening it.

The cephalian reacted immediately, quickly wiping away her tears and putting a smile on her face before shifting her body directly beneath the lid of the enclosure. She bowed her head subserviently as she caught sight of Krathan’s face.

“Good morning, Lord Krathan!” she said, her voice filled with strained cheer. “What would you have me do today?”

Krathan frowned, reaching into the aquarium. His frown deepened as the cephalian flinched away, staring at his claw with visible fear in her eyes. Her two head flaps, positioned just above her ears, hugged her head tightly like they were trying to make her already-small frame look even smaller.

“Get out of the aquarium,” Krathan commanded, turning away. The cephalian nodded, her skin a shifting sea of blues.

“Of course, my lord. Is there a way in particular with which you would like me to serve you?”

“Just get out of the aquarium. Wait on the top,” Krathan said, turning away. “I want to take a closer look at you.”

“Yes, my lord.” The cephalian whispered.

Krathan quickly made his way to his table, picking up the biometric monitoring set with one hand and his bag of general medical tools with the other before returning to the aquarium. The cephalian lowered her head demurely as he returned, her bright orange eyes briefly flickering up to his face to steal glances at his expression.

Moving carefully, Krathan raised the cephalian’s head backwards before hooking a claw into her mouth and prying her jaw open. The cephalian held the position for him, faint pulses of white flickering over her blue skin, as Krathan leaned down to select a flashlight from his bag. “Tongue,” Krathan commanded, grunting contentedly as the girl rolled the long muscle out from between her lips.

It seemed like Grakrash’s cephalian was quite familiar with medical treatment. Considering how the parties usually went, Krathan supposed he shouldn’t be very surprised. He moved his finger down the tongue. The muscle was a deep, uniform blue, both warm and slippery to the touch. Two rows of tiny suckers ran down its length, clinging to Krathan’s scales as he pinched the tongue and pointed the flashlight down her throat.

The inside of the cephalian’s mouth was as blue as her tongue. It was a flat and static color, quite unlike the dancing shades of her skin. Krathan rotated the flashlight around, inspecting the cephalian’s throat for tears or injuries. He couldn’t find any. Satisfied, he put the flashlight away.

“Close your mouth. Open your legs,” Krathan said, dropping the flashlight into the bag. He unpacked the biometrics monitoring tool, pulling the tablet from the box and setting it down beside the cephalian. He opened the medical electrode box next, carefully picking up one of the circular little tabs by their connecting wire.

“Lift up both your arms. Keep them there.” Krathan said, turning the little electrode between his fingers. “These are cold. Don’t flinch.”

“Yes, my lord.” The cephalian responded, moving to quickly obey him. Her posture pushed her breasts forwards.

Krathan gently placed the electrode onto the cephalian’s skin attaching several rows of the white circular tabs. The cephalian took a sharp breath every single time he attached a new one, the motion causing her modest beasts to tremble pleasingly.

Krathan frowned, feeling his cock twitch. How very distracting. He gathered up the wires and inserted them into the tablet. The screen automatically powered on, and the cephalian whimpered softly. The electricity released by the mapping function of the biometric scanner wasn’t painful per se, but it was unpleasant. It felt like being tickled from beneath the skin. Krathan was particularly annoyed every time he had to map his own body, especially with how long it took given his size.

The cephalian was surprisingly quiet through it all. No complaints. No questions. She just sat there silently with a forced smile on her face. Her eyes looked rather different, however. They weren’t terrified but instead anxious, flickering between the tablet and Krathan’s face as she fought to stop herself from squirming.

“You can put your arms down,” Krathan said, and the cephalian moved to obey him. “Do you know what I’m doing?”

“N – no, my lord,” she said nervously.

“Biometric mapping,” Krathan said. “Right now, the computer’s taking a reading of your body and cross-referencing it with the aggregate cephalian nervous system model. We’re basically teaching the device to measure your pain.” The cephalian’s skin paled.

“I – I see, my lord,” she whispered. Krathan snorted at that. The stupid thing probably barely understood the words he was using, never mind the medical concepts they conveyed. Still, it was fun to talk about medicine again.

A faint beep rang from the tablet as the machine finished, flashing up a three-dimensional model of the cephalian’s body. There were hotspots of pain responses all over the girl’s body, although fortunately it seemed relatively muted. The aches the cephalian was experiencing could, almost invariably, be traced back to the larger piercings dotting her body.

“Lean back. Open your legs more,” Krathan said, tapping the base of the cephalian’s caudal tentacles. “I need to see inside you.”

“Yes my lord,” she whispered.

Krathan lathered lubricating gel onto the speculum before placing the tip of the inspection tool between the cephalian’s legs. The girl gasped, squirming, as the cold plastic was slowly driven into her quim. Krathan’s eyes were on the tablet display as he slowly sank the tool deeper into the girl’s slit.

The biometrics readout showed no pain even as Krathan drove the speculum all the way into the base. He held down the button, causing the device to mechanically pry open the cephalian’s hole. The squid squirmed but otherwise offered no complaint as her cavity was spread out before Krathan. Her vaginal insides were the same blue as the inside of her throat, the smooth and pristine walls of her cavity trembling as Krathan inspected them. He withdrew the tool with a satisfied grunt before wiping it down and lathering another layer of lubricant onto the speculum.

Krathan drove the speculum into the cephalian’s anus next, spreading the tight ring of muscle open. She gasped, the suckers on her pelvic tentacles latching on tight to the glass aquarium. The light also revealed a perfectly smooth cavity inside of her spread sphincter. Krathan withdrew the speculum and wiped it down, before sealing both the speculum and cleaning cloth in a bag for biohazard sterilization.

“I’m finished. You can sit up,” he said. The cephalian nodded, biting her lip as she glanced between the medical equipment and Krathan. The girl slipped her hands between her two forward thighs, feeling her pubic area with her fingers.

“My – my lord?”

“What is it?”

The cephalian gulped. “Thank you, my lord,” She whispered softly, bowing her head.

Krathan paused. “For – for what?”

“For being gentle with me.” The slave responded.

Krathan froze. He — didn’t know what to say. He looked over the cephalian, watching her slender body in its position of deferential subservience. Beneath his loincloth, he could feel his cock twitching. The vet locked his jaw.

Moving his hand slowly, Krathan gently angled the cephalian’s head up. The ceiling lights might have been dimmed, but they were still more than enough for her eyes to practically sparkle as he looked deep into those amber-colored irises. Cranial tentacles framed her head, curling around her slender neck and draping over her shoulders and back. Krathan’s eyes moved downwards, following his probing fingers.

Soft sounds escaped from the cephalian’s lips as Krathan’s fingers slipped over the mound of her left breast, briefly pinching at her pierced nipple. The blue freckles of chromatophores dilated and shrank to form waves of color, seeming  to caress his fingers as he traced the curving lines of her waist and the swell of her hips.

The cephalian did nothing to resist Krathan’s touches. In fact, she placed her hands behind her and arched her back forwards to make it easier for him to fully explore her body. It was – exciting. The girl was small and slender, so small that he could probably wrap his paw around her waist at its narrowest point, and yet so perfectly formed. Adding to that was how perfectly obedient the cephalian was.

“Are all of your kind this demure and easy to work with?” Krathan asked.

“I – I would not know, my lord,” the girl whispered, biting her lip. “I – I’m sorry! I apologize for my inadequacy! Please, my lord, I beg for your mercy!”

Krathan grunted, nodding idly. It made sense, he supposed. Grakrash probably didn’t give the cephalian many opportunities to meet with her kind. Krathan’s fingers slipped between her legs, drawing a sharp breath from her. He could feel his loincloth tighten as he stroked a finger over the squid’s quim.

“You’re in good health. You’re in as good of a physical state as I could get you,” Krathan said, looking at the cephalian’s face. “I want to make use of you. Do you understand?”

The cephalian nodded. “I do, my lord. How would I be expected to prepare myself?” Krathan picked up the tablet, pushing it into the cephalian’s hands.

“I need to get a few things,” he said, taking his hand off of Grakrash’s heitera. “Go wait on my bed.”

The girl moved to obey immediately, moving to the bed as quickly as her tentacles could carry her. Krathan watched her from behind, staring at the sway of her hips and the dance of colors over her skin. If all cephalians were this nice to look at and this obedient, maybe he should get one. He did have a lot of printer time sitting unused in his accounts.

Krathan made his way to the bed, stopping briefly by his desk. The adhesive restraints were based on the same microfiber technology as the stickpads on the electrodes, except the force they could hold was an order of magnitude higher. They had arrived days ago. He picked up the stack of ribbons before approaching the cephalian. The squid looked at Krathan anxiously.

“Lie down on your back,” Krathan said. “I’m going to tie you down.”

White pulsed across the cephalian’s skin, but the smile never left her face as she lowered her head deferentially.  “As you command, my lord,” she whispered, lying back on the bed with the tablet still cradled in her arms.

Krathan took the cephalian’s pelvic tentacles and, one by one, began spreading her limbs out like the spokes of a wheel. Cephalians were actually a relatively large slave species, with an average weight even above the statuesque umbrals and the muscular mirucains, but they didn’t look it. The vast majority of their weight was centered around their caudal tentacles, in the thick rings of muscle that ran the length of the limbs. Krathan turned the tentacles over and, one by one, stuck them to the edge of his bed like he was taping them down.

There was a brief, buzzing sound as the adhesive strips secured themselves to the tentacle and the bed beneath. In a single instant they were fastened tight. Krathan moved between the cephalian’s legs when he was done, running his hands down her soft belly and towards her slit. Cephalians might have lots of mass for a slave race, but their torso was just a small fraction of that weight. Krathan frowned.

Grakrash’s heitera had the frame of a small arane woman, and Krathan had memories from his youth of how arane reacted to him when he penetrated them. He took the tablet out of the cephalian’s hands and set it down on the bed next to her. He leaned over the cephalian and picked up the injection gun, loading the anesthetics into the device. The slave’s eyes followed his hands.

“It’s just anesthetics,” Krathan explained. “If I hurt you too much, I’ll give you something for the pain. Now put your wrists together and put them above your head.”

“Y – yes, my lord,” the cephalian whispered, moving to obey.

Krathan quickly bound her wrists to the headboard. With everything but her cranial tentacles secured, the cephalian was as safe as she could be. Krathan wouldn’t have to worry about her flailing or struggling and injuring herself when properly secured like this. Reaching down, he finally pulled back his loincloth and allowed his engorged cock to pop free.

Precum painted the cephalian’s quim as Krathan mashed the head of his emerald-green shaft up against her loins. Positioned like this, the difference in their sizes was made all the more stark. Krathan took in a deep breath, looking first at the pain readout and then at the cephalian. Her skin had blanched towards white, leaving only the tiny and isolated speckles of blue over her skin. Krathan locked his jaw. It was fine. If he really started hurting her, he had the anesthetics prepared. He’d get to satisfy himself and the squid wouldn’t be reduced to a crying wreck.

Krathan laid his paws down on either side of the cephalian’s head, his lumbering form looming over her thin frame. Without any further ceremony, he drove himself into Grakrash’s heitera.

The cephalian gasped as the bulbous cockhead slipped inside her. Krathan froze, blinking. He stared down at the display screen. Had the sensors malfunctioned? The vet reached over to tap the screen, the slight shift pressing him deeper into the cephalian. Grakrash’s heitera moaned, shivering at the sudden motion.

Krathan’s muscles somehow felt more rigid than even his cock did. He looked down where his cock joined with the girl’s groin. The size mismatch was such that the heitera’s belly was already bulging noticeably from his brief insertion, and yet she wasn’t in pain. Krathan prodded at the cephalian’s groin, causing her to squirm.

The restrained hetera was breathing heavily. His eyes moved over the tablet before flickering to the cephalian’s face. Krathan could see anxiety and fear in those eyes, but no pain.

“My lord, is there a problem?” The cephalian asked nervously.

“This isn’t – this isn’t hurting you?” Krathan asked.

“I – I’m sorry my lord! I can tighten up a bit more for you if you’d like.” The cephalian said quickly. A groan of pleasure forced itself from Krathan’s throat as the squid’s soft pussy squeezed down on him. He could feel the rings of her muscles contracting, massaging his cockhead. Krathan looked at the tablet again. Still no pain. “Is this better, my lord?” she asked frantically, her colors paling.

“You can relax,” Krathan said. “I’m going to go deeper.” The words alone were enough to make his cock twitch. “If it starts hurting, you need to tell me immediately. Do you understand?”

The cephalian nodded fervently. “Of course, my lord!”

Krathan pressed deeper into the slave, her slimy passage parting for his entry. Her pussy coiled around his shaft, somehow simultaneously so soft that she offered him little resistance and so tight that it felt like her breeding canal was trying to strangle his cock. The vet could feel the cephalian’s muscle shift and dilate as to accept him deeper, moving with amazing fidelity. The separate rings of muscles moved from completely soft to squeezing down on his shaft as he pushed deeper into her.

Was this something the heitera had practiced? Or was this just something she instinctively developed over years of sexual servitude? Whatever the case, she felt incredible. Krathan continued to sink deeper into the squid, her stomach bulging with his insertion and yet her body reacting with no pain. Her piercings continued to ache, and yet somehow the cock that was thicker than her forearm squeezed nothing but moans from the cephalian’s sweet lips.

Krathan fully hilted inside of the heitera with a growling moan as his body shook with pleasure shudders. She was so soft and so warm around him. He could feel her muscles coiling around and massaging the length of his cock. His shaft had deformed the squid’s belly, causing a shallow but noticeable bulge that reached almost halfway up her body. Krathan’s fingers stroked over his cock, moving downwards until his claws traced over the point where her nether lips kissed his groin.

“How do you feel?” Krathan asked.

“How do I feel?” the cephalian asked, expression a little confused. “I, well, I suppose that I – how does my body feel? I’m feeling fine, my lord. A little full. You’re quite big. Ah, not that that’s a problem of course! I’m a fuckdoll, existing only for the pleasure of the mighty kthid!”

Krathan’s claws continued to trace over her belly, his eyes watching the dance of specks of blues and whites like the pixels of an ancient display screen. His cock twitched inside her, coaxing him to spill his seed into her womb and claim her as his. His eyes moved up.

The cephalian was clearly nervous, but her fear did seem to seep away the longer he was inside her. She still didn’t show any pain from his penetration. It was so ridiculous that Krathan almost felt like he should be laughing.

“I’m going to start moving,” he said. “You need to tell me if it hurts.”

“As you command, my lord,” The cephalian said softly.

Krathan groaned as he pulled out. The cephalian’s pussy was almost like one giant suction cup around his cock, the quim squelching and oozing with natural lubricant. Ripples of boiling pleasure ran up Krathan’s body in a rush, leaving him dizzy. The friction of his cock pulling out of that tight, soft quim was so intense that he felt awake for the first time in weeks.

Before Krathan fully realized what he was doing, he slammed his cock deep. His eyes flickered to the cephalian’s face and the screen in panic, but the cephalian just moaned and the biometrics showed zero concerning signs. He drew in a sharp breath. Grakrash wasn’t lying about how tough the squid was.

Emboldened, Krathan began to slide his cock in and out of the cephalian. It felt amazing. It had been years since he’d used anything but the hands and kissing lips of the arane for his pleasure. The cephalian’s breathing grew in speed alongside the pace of his thrusts. His scaled groin thumped steadily against white-blue skin, the hammering causing the cephalian’s body to dance with colors.

Krathan’s tempo built swiftly. The pleasure built in his cock and his pelvic area, setting all his nerves alight. Krathan gazed down at the cephalian, her small back arching and straining against her restraints. Kratha’s fingers moved down, clamping onto the squid’s pierced breasts. The cephalian’s moans intensified into wails as Krathan pinched the pert nipples between his fingers.

Blues and whites painted the squid’s skin as her vulnerable and compliant body flexed and rippled beneath the fury of his sexual conquest. Krathan drove further and further on, his breathing growing ever heavier as he ramped up the speed of his thrusts into hammering blows. Driven on by a savage sexual hunger, Krathan pummeled the slender slave beneath him. His cock was sluiced with pussy juice with every thrust, splattering the bed and the cephalian’s thighs with her juices with every withdrawal. The pleasure built within him, radiating off of his cock like radiation from a star and then conducting up his spine like electricity surging through a power cable. He was moving far faster than more vigorously than he has done in years, and yet exhaustion didn’t even touch his mind.

Underneath him, the freckled patterns on the cephalian’s skin surged and swirled. The little dots swelled and dilated to form the patterns of dancing clouds. Her body rippled from the sheer force of the thrusts even as her pussy continued to cling to his shaft like a lifeline.

Memories of the tearful, screaming slave were like a distant dream to Krathan. Without the desperate and distressed voice of the slave to slow him down, Krathan fucked the squid like he would drop dead after he came. Hot blood thundered through his body, screaming at him to dominate and inseminate the beautiful creature beneath him.

Krathan’s predatory eyes swept up to the cephalian’s face. She was breathing quickly yet her apparent shortness of breath did little to dampen her vocals. If anything, the vigor of Krathan’s thrusts only seemed to drive the cephalian’s sweet voice to greater heights. She writhed beneath him, moans and whimpers alike flowing from her mouth like the notes of a beautiful song. Her sparkling orange eyes were full of life as they practically coaxed him to keep going.

Was she enjoying this?

The pace of Krathan’s rutting grew until the sounds of their smacking hips almost became a continuous sound. The raucous noise of sex and conquest filled the chamber along with the scent of their fluids. The cephalian didn’t simply lie there and let him have his way with her. Her submission was active, using what limited movement she was allowed to make her conquest even more delicious and pleasurable for him. It was like a dance, one where Krathan’s lusts controlled the tempo. He watched like a passenger in his own body as he rode the cephalian.

Control came flooding back to him as Krathan felt cum bubbling in his balls. It surged up his hardened cock with such a rush of pleasure that the vet was rendered momentarily breathless. His seed poured into the cephalian as he grabbed her around her waist and fully hilted, a guttural roar exploding from his throat as he finished. 

A surprised scream burst from the squid’s mouth as the seed pumped into her womb, the scream quickly melting into a moan. The cum kept pouring from Krathan’s cock, painting the quivering hole with his genetic load. Krathan’s ejaculation went on for far longer than he felt was possible, filling up and then overflowing from the fleshy receptacle around his shaft.

The pair stayed locked in place for a long, long time. Even as his cock softened, the cephalian still felt indescribably tight and pleasurable. It felt like he could spend hours like this. Krathan curbed that impulse though, slowly withdrawing. He shivered with pleasure as he pulled out.

His cock popped free from the heitera’s quim like a cork, finally allowing the cephalian’s passage to empty. The bulge at the top of her belly slowly shrank as Krathan’s gooey semen oozed and bubbled out from her tight hole. The yellowy-white fluid flowed out like a gunky waterfall, staining her many thighs and oozing over her anus before staining the bed beneath her.

The cephalian looked up at Krathan, her breathing slowly calming down. The piercings covering her body seemed to still be inflicting pain on her, but none of it was acute. She looked oddly sated. It made Krathan feel really uncomfortable, somehow. He wiped his cock off on the cephalian’s thighs, smearing their combined fluids onto her constantly shifting skin.

“Thank you for being so gentle with me, my lord,” the heitera said softly.

Krathan grunted, picking up the tablet and disabling the restraints. The girl yelped in surprise as all the electrodes and restraints simultaneously disengaged. Krathan returned his attention to the tablet and looked back over the history of the pain monitoring software. A frown settled over his face as the cephalian gathered her tentacles beneath her and rose onto her “knees”.

That was not what he expected. At all. Having just climaxed, intrusive thoughts began to force their way to the front of Krathan’s mind. That felt — strange. That was far better than what the arane he called over could manage with their hands, or what he could manage with his own. It felt incredible. Judging from the sounds that the cephalian had made, it was great for her as well. Krathan’s brow furrowed even further.

It felt wrong that both he and the slave could feel so good at the same time. It felt like cheating, somehow.

Krathan turned back to look at the cephalian. The squid’s expression was somewhat pensive and anxious at first, but her face twisted into one of terror an instant later. White exploded over her body and she quickly bowed her head, her entire body trembling. “I – I apologize for my performance, my lord!” The cephalian whispered softly, tears beading in the corner of her eyes.

Krathan stiffened. The cephalian’s head flaps and her cranial tentacles hung from the side of her head like wet towels. “What do you mean?” he demanded.

“I’m sorry!” The cephalian whispered, “I – I don’t know your body very well yet. That must be it! Please forgive this stupid slave, master! I’ll try better next time, I promise!” She trembled.

Krathan tilted her head up by her chin. “That was — good,” Krathan said. “You did well. Well done.”

“But – but you’re hurting, my lord,” the cephalian whispered.

Krathan’s jaw locked. “What?”

The cephalian cowered, her hands above her head as if to shield herself from a beating. Krathan took a long breath to calm himself before he began speaking again. “What do you mean?” he asked, forcing his tone back to the professional timbre he used to address his patients.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be a good toy for you, my lord,” the cephalian sobbed softly. “I – Master Grakrash and all of the masters are always making use of us. Whenever they make use of me, whether they just want to use me like the pathetic tentacled cumdump I am or they want to twist and hurt my body, they always end up happier by the time they’re done! I just saw that you – would you please tell me what I did wrong?” The heitera bit her lip.

“You’re hurting,” the squid whispered. “Can – can I help? If my – if my slut pussy isn’t satisfying you, then I do have other holes for your use, my lord! I have my mouth and my ass if you prefer, or both if you like in any order you want to use them! If you’re tired of raping this brainless slave right now, I can provide you with a massage or a dance or – ”

“I told you that I am fine!”

The cephalian froze, as if she’d just been slapped across the face, before she began to blubber. She continued to whisper apologies, but the actual words were indistinguishable behind her sobbing and sniffling.

Krathan felt his hands trembling. His gut twisted into itself and he felt nausea rising. Was he ill? Had the cephalian managed to diagnose some kind of illness he hadn’t noticed until now?

Krathan snorted. Preposterous. The cephalian was an uneducated slave from a backwards world without even basic technology like computers or reusable planet-to-space shuttles. She — really did seem genuinely upset though, and Krathan didn’t have any medication on hand that was designed to treat psychotic breaks in cephalians. Sighing, the vet put down the tablet and put his hands back on the cephalian’s body.

The girl tensed as Krathan began squeezing. He shushed the cephalian as he moved his paws over her body, gently massaging her all over. Her muscles were so tense, and so Krathan did what he could to squeeze the tension out of her. He had to move slowly, careful to avoid the painful piercings as he continued to knead at her body. It was a slow process, but Krathan knew he had to be patient. Prey animals would calm down eventually once they realize that they wouldn’t be harmed.

 It was several minutes before the more typical blues, albeit with patterns that were more erratic and transient, returned to the cephalian’s skin. Krathan quickly got off his bed, picked up a few solvent towels from the dispenser, and used them to clean the tears from her face.

“There, do you feel a little better now?” Krathan asked.

The cephalian nodded, whimpering. “I’m sorry for making you angry, my lord,” she whispered.

“I’m not angry at you.”

The cephalian flinched. “Whatever I did to offend you, I am truly sorry and I – ”

“Little squid, I am not angry at you. I’m just – I’m not angry. You just said something really stupid. That’s all,” Krathan said, gritting his teeth as he saw the cephalian flinch. “I – I won’t punish you this time. I’ll just give you a warning. Don’t say ridiculous things like that again. Is that clear?”

The cephalian nodded, “Yes, my lord. I apologize for my overstep.”

Krathan nodded as he stared at her. He really should be punishing her for this. As the textbooks said, an undisciplined slave is an unruly slave. Krathan couldn’t, however. Not when she was looking at him with eyes so brimming with gratitude.

It was fine to let things slide this once, wasn’t it? The cephalian was clearly not in a stable state of mind and probably wouldn’t even remember this incident. Besides, he had weeks left with her. He could always punish her if she did something wrong next time.

Krathan dropped the towel in the cephalian’s lap. “Use this to clean yourself. I don’t want you dripping cum all over the floor.” The vet rose up to his normal towering height. “I’ll go get a few things and then we’re going to my clinic. Do you remember where that is?”

The cephalian nodded. “Of course, my lord.”

“Good.” Krathan said as he tucked the tablet under his arm, turning to the side as he walked to the other side of the room. “Get ready to come with me then. I want to use you a few more times before I meet with my newest recurring patient.” The cephalian’s eyes widened.

“So does that mean – is my body to your liking?”she asked, voice hopeful.

Krathan grunted, stopping mid-stride and turning around. “Like I said, you are healthy. Now clean yourself up, we’ll get moving soon.”

The cephalian nodded enthusiastically, opening her tentacles and wiping away at her slit with the towel. Krathan turned back around and headed towards the table with the tablet in paw. The vet quickly linked up the computer and transferred the biometric data from earlier into her files on the workstation

Krathan glanced over his shoulder at the preening cephalian. It would probably take a while. Deciding that he’d rather not discourage her diligence, Krathan instead turned his attention to typing out his thoughts on the cephalian’s sexual service. He ran through their interaction from start to finish, making notes of everything he could recall. His shaft hardened at those memories.

Can I help?

“Of course not; don’t be ridiculous,” Krathan muttered under his breath. “You’re just an uneducated breeding slave. The fact that you think that you could tell me something that I wouldn’t know about is so preposterous that I – ”

The vet sat there for a long time, hunched over his workstation, as he tried to think about what else he should be adding to his notes. His fingers just kept hovering over the keys silently until, at long last, he sighed. He reworded the incomplete sentence into something like a concluding statement before saving the file. Krathan was just about to close the application when his fingers stopped. On impulse, he pulled up the squid’s acquisition data.

It was a page that Krathan rarely even glanced at, filled with irrelevant biographic data like pictures taken of a slave when she was first acquired. At the top of the page was the slave’s name, written first in kthid script and then again in the squid’s native tongue. Krathan read over the approximation of the cephalian’s name, sounding the syllables out to himself.

He picked up the tablet and slung his cloak over his shoulders, mouthing the alien name to himself as he rose to his feet. Turning around, Krathan saw that the cephalian was already behind him with her head demurely lowered as if awaiting his next orders.

“You can stand up,” Krathan said, walking towards the cephalian.

“Thank you, my lord,” the cephalian said, her tentacles lifting her from the bed.

“You can go ahead to the clinic,” Krathan said.

“As you command, my lord.” The cephalian nodded. She turned and began shuffling away, her tentacles pulling her silently over the ground. Krathan watched her walk, eyes drawn to the rolling colors all over her body. Grakrash did mention her being much more colorful some time in the past. What had caused that? Could it even be fixed? Krathan just stared at the cephalian for a long moment before glancing back at the bed where he had made use of her and again at the computer workstation. The vet turned and walked after the cephalian.

“Anisa,” Krathan said, finally speaking the alien name out loud. “Your name is Anisa.” He whispered it softly to himself as he shadowed the cephalian to his clinic.

To many, the darkness of the Empty Night’s lower levels would have been incredibly unnerving. For Selara, on the other hand, it was rather comforting. The lack of the glaring lights from above allowed her eyes to rest somewhat. It did little comfort to her at the moment, however.

Selara tried to walk silently and deliberately, but Master Avraks was doing absolutely everything he could to make that difficult. The kthid yanked on her collar intermittently to throw her off balance, setting the bells ringing.

The metal piercings cluttered and dangled from her body like hateful parasites, and Selara winced and corrected her posture, only for Master Avraks to yank on the leash again. He chuckled as she stumbled.

“What’s wrong, Cave Worm? Is walking around like a person truly so difficult for you?” Master Avraks asked, eyes narrow. “If you’d prefer to crawl, I promise, that can be arranged.” Selara gritted her teeth.

“No, Master Avraks. This cave worm is sorry for her sluggishness.” Despite her best efforts, Selara couldn’t stop the sharp bite of futile anger from seeping into her voice. It didn’t make Master Avraks angry. He just chuckled.

“Honestly, Cave Worm. Not a day goes by when you don’t amuse me with how pathetic you are.” the kthid said, dragging her along. Selara followed, her thighs slimy with semen. The slick fluid made its presence known with every step she took.

 Her arms had been twisted behind her body, bent at the elbow, and then bound with rope that pressed her forearms against her upper back through the mess of her folded wings. Selara had learned to ignore the pain in her constantly restrained wings, but having her normally free arms pressed into the fragile membranes brought the sensation into sharp focus. Selara stumbled to a stop as Master Avraks did, gasping for air as her master pressed the doorbell beside the hexagonal entrance.

The pneumatic door slid open and Selara hissed in pain, the searing light stabbing at her eyes like needles. She breathed heavily and tried to squeeze her eyes shut as she was dragged forwards into the radiant inferno.

“I apologize for my pet’s pathetic sniveling. Even after eight years of training, she still has a long way to go.” Master Avraks said. Selara gritted her teeth. She wouldn’t ever wish to be a good slave to these monsters, but hearing her performance denigrated despite her efforts still stung. “I am merciful, though. She has sentimental value for me, after all.” Master Avraks laughed, as if he had just told a hilarious joke.

“Hello, Lord Avraks.” A deep voice said. The lights were still too bright to Selara’s eyes to make out anything.

“Please, there’s no need for any of that. Just Avraks is sufficient.”

Selara heard a low growl.  “This is my patient, yes?”

“Getting straight to the point, I see. I can tell  you weren’t raised on this ship. Not that that’s a criticism of course. Pertinence is commendable in a vital role like yours.” Master Avraks grabbed Selara by the collar and yanked her up. She gagged, the metal pressing against her neck like a noose. “And indeed. This is my heitera, Cave Worm. As you can see, a beautiful specimen of her kind. 

Selara drew in a sharp breath as Master Avrak’s paw closed over her breast and squeezed with all his monstrous strength. Little droplets of tears came to her eyes as the talons dug into the soft orb. “She has grown much more shapely with impregnation, of course, a duty I have made certain she doesn’t neglect.”

The kthid, presumably the vet Selara was being delivered to, grunted. Outside of her stinging eyes, Selara could hear the sound of shuffling and the mechanical clicks of — something. All of a sudden, the agonizing light dimmed. Selara blinked, opening her eyes experimentally and trying to see through her tears.

“I’ll run a comprehensive panel and treat her for any injuries I find. I’ve read her file and she shouldn’t have any infections, but again I’ll treat any I should find.” The other kthid’s voice was markedly deeper than even Master Avraks’s. A deeper voice usually meant a wider throat and therefore a broader body. That — was not a comforting thought. “You can take the wing bindings with you. I’ll send her back once I’m done with the general checkup.”

Selara blinked the tears out from her eyes, glancing around the chamber. It wasn’t a very large room, covered in drab white walls and one large screen. The room was filled with seats that, strangely enough, looked far too small for the looming bodies of the monsters. Selara’s gaze kept wandering until it finally found its way to the other kthid. Her heart froze.

The kthid was gigantic. The monsters were all obscenely large, but even Master Avraks was quite average for their kind. The beast in front of her stood well over a foot taller than either of them. He wasn’t lanky either, with arms as thick as the torsos of some slaves. The kthid’s bulk continued downwards as well. Just the sight of the soft bulge beneath the loincloth was enough to make Selara’s blood run cold.

Master Avraks’s shaft wasn’t abnormally big for a kthid, but he was still larger than anything Selara’s body was meant to handle. This monster, if his size carried to his — to other parts of his anatomy –

“Has she ever had a regular vet before?” The giant asked, stepping closer to Selara. He leaned in, inspecting Selara like a piece of meat. “Or has she just received treatment as needed in the past?”

“She had a vet, naturally. Several over the years, in fact. You came highly recommended, however, and I must say your record and qualifications give me good reason to trust you.” Master Avraks took a step back. “If you need any more information, I’m sure you can find it as a part of her files.”

“I saw. The notes were — minimal,” the giant sniffed, voice noticeably agitated. Selara stiffened. Being taken to a kthid vet or doctor ranked just below having to accompany Master Avraks to a party on her list of most hated activities. “It also seems to have completely omitted any mention of major surgeries or physical modifications.”

“Nothing’s been omitted,” Master Avraks replied with a quick shake of his head. “There simply hasn’t been a need for her to receive anything more significant than regular nanite injections.” Master Avraks’s paws squeezed Selara’s breasts posessively, and she shuddered as his hand moved down, crawling over her belly like a giant bug. Selara winced as his taloned finger bent, hooking into her seeded slit. “With how often I do like to use her, it would be a true shame if she ended up in the infirmary thanks to some careless injury. As such, she is kept impeccable.”

The giant lumpered forwards, grasping Selara by the arm. The vet maneuvered her around like she was nothing more than a doll, turning her to examine her back. She couldn’t see what he was doing, but Selara knew what one of the monsters positioning himself behind her usually meant. She yelped as the giant pinched her wing membrane between his fingers. The giant’s touch may have been more careful than anything Master Avraks had inflicted on her, but it still tugged at the wires passing through the skin.

“I don’t see any swelling around the piercing points, so these wings clearly received a full course of anti-inflammatories,” the vet remarked. “These are permanent restraints, aren’t they?”

“Indeed they are,” Master Avraks responded, smiling just a little and adding “worms don’t fly.”

“Permanent modifications like these are meant to be accompanied by a writeup, in compliance with the revised veterinarian code.”

“It makes sense that there was nothing in her files about it. I applied the restraints myself,” Master Avraks replied. “After all, how would I better impress my ownership than to modify my heitera in such a significant way?”

“You performed a major modification on your heitera, yourself, with no medical training?” The vet asked.

“Of course not, I made sure to properly educate myself on the intricacies of umbral body modification. I found an artist whose work, in fact, focussed specifically on this type of artistic wing binding,” Master Avraks said, carelessly grabbing hold of Selara’s wings. Hot tears filled her eyes. “He has a whole video tutorial course on it, in fact.”

“Yes, because a thirty minute video from the mainframe is an actual substitute for years of professional training,” the vet responded, voice acrid. Master Avraks chuckled.

“I was warned that you take your job rather seriously,” Master Avraks said, letting go of Selara. The umbral teetered, wincing as the bells clattered and rang. “Oh, I do suppose I should mention a few other things before I leave her in your capable hands. As you’ve no doubt noticed, her wing membrane is very sensitive. I thought you should also know that her breasts are even more so.” Master Avraks said as he turned Selara around, posing her like a statue. The kthid’s paw reached up again, kneading her dangling orbs.

“They’re sensitive both around the mound, and on the nipples themselves. The cave worm will squeal like nothing else if you give the nipples a nice firm pinch.”

“I don’t see how that’s relevant to the umbral’s medical care,” the vet responded curtly. Master Avraks responded with a good-natured chuckle.

“Oh, I simply thought you should know,” he said.

“It’s been noted. I’ll refrain from invasive tests in the breast area unless strictly necessary.”

Silence fell between the two of them. Selara continued to squirm uncomfortably as Master Avraks continued to knead her breast. She couldn’t help but wince as he withdrew his hand, sharp claws tracing almost-painful lines over her skin. Master Avraks strode forwards, placing a paw on the vet’s arm.

“The person who recommended your services has noted that you don’t have a heitera.” Master Avraks grinned. “I am sure that you’ve had a chance to sample plenty of slaves in your line of work, but I do just want to say this so that there’s no misunderstanding between us. If you’d like to sample my cave worm, you are free to. Please don’t hold back on account of my position. My slave and I are very different, and I will take absolutely no offense if you decide to — display your medical knowledge.”

The vet grunted. “I’ll keep it in mind.”

Master Avraks gave his arm a couple firm smacks. “Good man! I’ll be looking forward to seeing you in the future.”

“I have a policy against seeing owners in the clinic,” The vet responded bluntly.

“I am aware. Perhaps I’ll send you an invitation to a party.” Master Avraks shifted his focus. “Cave worm!” he abruptly snapped, voice cracking like a whip.

Selara jumped, “Yes, master?”

“I will be expecting some interesting stories when you return to my chambers,” Master Avraks said, “Do you understand?” Selara shivered, looking at the giant warily.

“Yes, Master Avraks.”

The door closed with a hiss, leaving Selara alone with the giant. She turned her eyes towards the vet with mounting dread. A kthid like Master Avraks had four to five times her muscle mass. This creature in front of her probably was closer to eight times her weight. It was hard not to let terror overtake her imagining what it would be like when that monster forced himself upon her.

The giant stepped aside. “Follow me. Don’t ask any questions. Respond to me only when I ask you questions,” The kthid intoned.

“Yes, my lord,” Selara said softly, trailing the giant. It felt like she was walking, unarmed and unarmored, into an active war zone. Selara was already bracing herself for how much it would hurt when he raped her.

The kthid lumbered forwards, entering a significantly larger chamber. A massive machine dominated the side of the room, jutting with spokes and robotic arms. Shelves filled up the rest of the chamber, labeled with kthid script.

Apart from the giant machine and the storage, there were things Selara could more readily recognize. A large table dominated the room’s center, with a massive chair behind it that was clearly built to house the giant’s looming frame. A simple stool stood on the other side, tall enough that the monster wouldn’t have to get up from his seat to observe her fully.

“Stand over there,” The kthid instructed, pointing with his thick finger.

“Yes, Sir,” Selara said softly, quickly moving to obey. The giant lumbered over to the side of the room as she took a moment to reorient herself. Like most of the technology the monsters had access to, the medical technology Selara had seen demonstrated by the kthid was leagues ahead of anything her own people had achieved; she’d literally seen limbs restored and organs reconstructed from nothing. It would be a marvel, if it was possible to decouple the wonders from the horrors they facilitated. Selara’s eyes swept the chamber and then stopped, hovering over a heat signature in the corner of the room.

There was a slave there, one that Selara recognized an instant later. With long tentacles sprouting from her head and even longer ones from her hips, Selara recognized the species easily. She wondered for a moment if she’d found a different slave of the same species as Anisa, but the plethora of cruel piercings left her little doubt.

Did Anisa belong to this vet? Being used by the monsters was always humiliating, painful, and harrowing, but this was worse than Selara had imagined. The umbral still remembered how painful receiving her wing bindings had been. The giant she and Anisa were trapped with was a vet: he could push her body to its brink and not have to worry about killing her.

Anisa was breathing quite heavily with her eyes closed and her hands draped over her belly. Selara wondered for a moment if she was pregnant, but the cephalian seemed to be cradling her belly for a different reason. Cum, bright and hot to Selara’s eyes, oozed out of Anisa’s slit. The cephalian had been used recently. Selara would estimate, from the size of the puddle on the floor, that Anisa had suffered at least four or five successive ejaculations.

Sealra’s eyes never left Anisa as the vet continued to gather up his implements. Seeing a slave used like an object was a familiar sight, but seeing someone who had shown her such kindness being treated like that was uniquely awful for Selara. She wanted to go comfort Anisa, to hug the girl or do something to ease her pain. The kthid returned to Selara, forcing her attention back to her own predicament.

The tray of implements clattered as the vet set it down. Selara froze as the giant picked up a blindfold and tied it over her face without comment. Selara felt her mouth drying. So it was starting already.

Selara’s heart rate spiked. She had been helpless before, but now even her vision was taken away. The umbral squeezed her eyes shut right, bracing for the sensations of claws on her body. She could practically feel the sensation of her womanhood being torn apart as she stood there and waited for her violation. She waited. And waited.

Selara could hear a clatter and then a sound of cursing, followed by the sound of something hitting the ground. Selara’s eyes snapped to the side reflexively and she drew in a sharp breath. She could see. She could actually see the room even more clearly than before.  The fabric didn’t blind her, it just moderated the brightness. 

“Is this – ?”

“What did I say about unnecessary questions?” the kthid growled. Selara stiffened.

“I’m sorry, my lord,” she whispered, bowing her head. The giant growled again.

“Just be quiet,” the kthid said, predatory red eyes on Selara’s face.

Selara’s mind spun. Why do this? Surely a vet would know that covering her eyes with a thin cloth was preferable, for her, to both being blinded and unprotected against the stinging light. Did the vet want her to see his face as he raped her? While they were all gigantic and monstrous, Selara knew that the appetites of the kthid varied greatly.

The talons scraped over Selara’s upper arm, earning a slight gasp from her as they slipped beneath the ropes. She barely breathed as the kthid fiddled with the arm bindings. The rope came loose moments later, her hands burning as blood rushed back into her fingers. The kthid untied her, setting the ropes aside and turning her back around.

Selara watched as he silently retrieved what she belatedly recognized as electrode pads from the tray. The kthid laid the cold surface of the patches in rows over Selara’s belly and upper chest. She couldn’t help but cringe and shrink slightly as the kthid took hold of her breast and lifted it up to stick the cool electrodes on her abdomen right underneath the hanging orbs.

The silence, along with the mechanical prods and pokes, was deeply discomforting. Lord Gakslan, Selara’s former vet, couldn’t help but spew countless remarks about her body as he examined her. That was, of course, during the few times he didn’t just throw her to the floor and have his way with her. Being handled by the giant felt different, like being handled by a machine.

Behind the kthid, Anisa stirred. The girl glanced around quickly before catching sight of Selara. Anisa rose, ropes of filthy seed dripping and sliding down her thighs, as she shuffled forwards. There was a certain amount of nervousness to her movement as she got closer, which peaked as the giant turned around.

“What? What do you want?” the monster asked.

Anisa looked up towards the monster, and yet she remained quiet. Selara’s blood moved like slush through her veins as she watched the colossal creature stare down at the petite slave.

“Are you hungry?” the giant asked.

Anisa blinked. The cephalian didn’t move for a moment before she hugged herself. She looked — disappointed? Selara stared at the tentacled slave as she nodded.

“I’ll need you for a bit longer and then you can go eat. Go back to your corner, I don’t want to step on you when I’m walking around,” the vet said. Anisa looked at Selara for a moment like she wanted to say something, before seemingly thinking better of it.

Selara breathed a sigh of relief as Anisa obeyed the monster’s command. The girl’s sanity was suspect, of course, but Selara was relieved that it hadn’t deteriorated far enough to ignore orders from the kthid. 

The giant reached for a plastic tube, uncorking the lid and removing a swab at the end of a thin stick. Selara drew in a sharp breath as he pressed the swab in between her vaginal folds and rolled it around inside her. He did the same thing for her other two orifices, both times conducted without ceremony. Lastly, the kthid jabbed a needle into her arm and drew several vials of blood, setting the warm fluid aside.

The kthid set the needle down, evidently having used all the tools he had selected for the checkup. Selara knew what came next, of course. Her thighs were squeezed together all the way down to her knees, though the posture did little to shield her public mound. She briefly contemplated cupping her loins and hiding her breasts, but she thought better of it. There was no sense in provoking any more abuse than she was already going to suffer.

“I’ll need to keep you here for the next few hours to check your resting biological profile,” the kthid said, his commanding voice making Selara jump. “Then you can go, or just stay on the infirmary bed for as long as you need, up until the end of my day, at which point I’ll be throwing you out.” Selara blinked.

“Throwing me out?” The giant scowled.

“Do I need to explain what it means to throw you out? You have no chronic injuries, you have no debilitating illnesses, and my beds aren’t infinite in number!” he said testily. “If you don’t want to get thrown out, then leave before I close down the clinic!” 

Selara blinked, trying to process what the vet had just said. It wasn’t complicated or technical, the instructions quite blunt. Even so, she struggled to parse the words coming out of the scaled goliath’s mouth. Selara swallowed.

“Is…there’s nothing else you want with me right now, my lord?” Selara asked softly. Asking felt like provoking the kthid, but she knew that the monsters also took offense to slaves attempting to avoid their ‘duties’.

“Do you have any injuries I don’t know about or any unexplained pain that needs a scan?” The kthid asked irritably.

“I – not that I’m aware of, my lord,” Selara answered quickly.

“Then I’m done with you.” The kthid said, grabbing the coil of rope from the table and pressing it into Selara’s hands before snatching up his tray. Anisa sat up attentively as he walked up to her. “Anisa. I want you to take – ” the kthid glanced over at his tablet “‘Cave Worm’ over here to the infirmary. Do you remember where that is?”

Anisa nodded. “Of course, my lord.”

“Good,” the giant said. “You can use the bed if you want. Food is in the fridge; you’re allowed one nutrient block.”

Anisa bowed as she accepted the order. Her body plan was clearly poorly suited to the gesture, but she made it work anyway. The squid shuffled up to Selara, taking hold of her hand and guiding her down a different door from the one she entered the clinic through. Selara walked past an area with a small kitchen and bathroom on one side and a darkened room on the other, and into a room filled with medical cots. Selara glanced over her shoulder before turning to the cephalian.

“Anisa,” she whispered softly. The tentacled girl turned, her eyes widening and a smile coming to her face.

“It is you after all,” the cephalian beamed. “I had my doubts. My memory has been quite untrustworthy as of late. I’m very glad to be able to see you again, Miss Selara.”

“Oh – yeah. Of course,” Selara said. 

Anisa walked Selara up to one of the cots, extending a hand towards it. Selara complied, sitting down on the bed. It felt – really nice. The bedsheets were clean and freshly pressed, far cleaner than her own body.

Both were, of course, cleaner than Anisa’s body. The seed clinging to the cephalian’s thighs was still fresh enough that they were noticeably warmer than her skin. Guilt twisted in Selara’s stomach. This must have been why the kthid was no longer interested in her. He had sated his lusts already. Selara squeezed the cephalian’s hand.

 “Anisa,” she said softly, “how are you – how are you holding up?” The cephalian blinked.

“I’m doing quite well, Miss Selara,” Anisa smiled. Selara swallowed.

“I see,” she said softly, looking down at the cephalina’s groin. “Does it – does it still hurt?” Anisa followed Selara’s eyes downward. She rubbed her lower belly, careful to avoid the dozens of piercings on her loins.

“It doesn’t hurt,” Anisa said. “It’s still a bit hot, but it’s always like that when he uses me. I’m merely happy that Lord Krathan was willing to be so gentle with me.”

“I see,” Selara said again. It was probably better if she didn’t press too much. If the cephalian said it didn’t hurt, it was probably better to let her keep believing that.

Selara looked away from Anisa and glanced at the room around her. On one side of the chamber, a rather extensive setup had been erected around the far bed. A corvid girl had been laid down to rest, an oxygen mask covering her beak. Significant parts of her body had been plucked of feathers to make way for various tubes and wired probes, the snaking lines linking her body to various machines. An arane woman stood nearby, moving and shuffling the corvid. Selara had seen treatment like that before. The corvid girl was comatose, the work of either the vet outside or some other kthid on the ship. The scene of the arane tending to the corvid almost looked like something that Selara might have seen in a normal hospital, if not for the completely naked caretaker and the collared patient.

Numerous other patients filled out the infirmary. Selara counted three falirans in all, the green-carapaced women physically intact but bearing empty stares from emptier eyes. Falirans were some of the oldest slaves the kthid had, and it showed. There was a gauntness to their faces. They jumped at shadows.

 The other slaves looked better, but not by much. All wore collars that marked them as property of a specific kthid. A harrier girl lay on one bed, glancing over to the comatose corvid intermittently, in between episodes of shivering despite the room’s warmth. A dehorned mirucain woman sat on the other side of the room, her body covered in scars. There was also another umbral: the younger woman curled up with her wings wrapped around her body like a blanket. Selara turned away.

“Anisa, that vet. Is he your master?” she asked. Anisa went silent, clearly thinking over the question.

“He’s not, but he is. My master has made the decision to loan me to Lord Krathan for the next few weeks so I may serve him as if I were his heitera,” Anisa said, placing a delicate hand on her modest breast. “I am still growing accustomed to his preferences. Fortunately for me, his demands for me have been achievable even for a stupid and useless slave like myself.”

Selara winced. The cephalian spoke those words frighteningly smoothly.

“Anisa I – you’re not useless,” Selara managed. She wished the words didn’t sound hollow.

“I — thank you, Miss Selara. You are very kind,” Anisa beamed. “I appreciate that you would like me to feel better.”

“I mean it too,” Selara said.

“Miss Selara?”

“I said I mean it,” Selara said again, more firmly this time. “You were a lifesaver for me. If you weren’t there, I have no idea what would have happened to me. You’re not useless. I promise.” The cephalian beamed again.

“You’re very kind, Miss Selara.”

Selara pursed her lips. It felt like she should say something else, but she had absolutely no training to provide help for the cephalian. She couldn’t even tell what was wrong with the girl. Was this a coping mechanism for her, or was this some kind of insidious mental programming forced upon her? Selara just couldn’t know.

“So, Anisa,” Selara said, “what happens now?”

Anisa tilted her head. “I’m uncertain of what you mean, Miss.”

“Your – your temporary master. The one you were loaned to,” Selara said. Her stomach turned slightly as she looked at the girl in front of her. She was a piece of property, to be passed between the monsters however they pleased. Just like Selara was. Just like every single slave was. “Your temporary master. What will he want you to do now?”

Anisa stopped and tilted her head back to its neutral position. “He has no orders for me currently.”

Selara nodded. “So what are you going to do?”

Anisa turned around. “I’ll probably go wait around the corner of his room. That way, he won’t accidentally trample my tentacles or trip on them,” she said. “He used me just recently, but he’s returned to his paperwork and so it’ll probably be a while before he’ll make use of me again.” Selara nodded, looking down at the cephalian’s pelvic mound. The girl’s thighs were slick with fluid. Selara turned to meet the cephalian’s eyes.


“Miss Selara?”

“Would you – would you be willing to stay here with me?” Selara asked. “To talk a little?” Anisa glanced over her shoulder at the door that led to the scaled giant. “If he wants to – to make use of you, I’m certain he’ll call for you.” Selara was only half sure of that. Even so, Anisa had taken a ravaging meant for Selara. She really didn’t want Anisa to go back into the room with that creature and, if she was being honest, she just wanted a bit more time with the girl. “Before he calls you back, wouldn’t you rather be doing something instead of just sitting alone in the corner waiting to be used?” Anisa seemed to digest Selara’s words.

“I suppose you’re right,” Anisa responded, drawing a sigh of relief from Selara. “Is there some topic you had in mind?”

“Well, anything you like,” Selara said softly. “Do you have something you want to talk about?” Anisa closed her eyes and tipped her head back.

“I must admit that I don’t have a preferred topic in mind,” Anisa said, sitting herself on the bed next to Selara. She leaned against Selara’s side. Her tentacles moved as well, draping and coiling around Selara’s feet. “Is there something that perhaps you wish to speak about?”

“I – I suppose there isn’t,” Selara smiled as the cephalian nestled up to her. She wished that her wings were free right now, so she could drape one over the cephalian’s narrow shoulders. “I guess since we don’t have a topic, we can just sit here and relax.” Anisa tilted her head for a moment before smiling.

“That sounds wonderful, Miss Selara,” Anisa said, leaning her head back up against Selara’s shoulder.

Time passed quietly in the room. There were beeps from the equipment, of course, and the sound of the other slaves shuffling in their beds. Anisa didn’t say anything, but Selara didn’t find that to be worth complaining about. There just wasn’t a lot to say. Selara just sat and allowed her mind to wander. Even the initially intrusive mechanical noises soon took on a nearly hypnotic air. 

It was hard to say how much time had passed when Selara sat up. The umbral woman glanced over to Anisa, the cephalian still resting on her shoulder. Anisa seemed to sense that she was being watched, turning her head and looking up to Selara.

Selara smiled. This was a lot more physical contact that she was used to, but Anisa seemed to think it was normal. For Selara, it had been a long time since she was touched by someone who just wanted to comfort her and wanted nothing more than to be comforted themselves. A frown quickly followed. It was quite haunting to think how much of the simple pleasures of living had already been stolen from her in this hellish place.

“Thank you, Anisa. Again. I’m not sure how long it’s been since I had a chance to relax like that,” Selara said, gently patting the cephalian’s head. The tentacled girl beamed. “I also want to properly thank you for helping me get to safety the other day. It may have been an accident, but you helped me a lot.”

The cephalian’s smile deepened, “It’s no trouble at all. As a loyal and dedicated heitera, it’s my duty to dedicate everything I have to being a perfect toy and tool for the masters. Protecting another heitera is only natural for me.”

Selara had to try hard not to scowl at that. The cephalian’s words dug in like shards of glass, but Selara knew that she couldn’t allow Anisa’s words to make her hurt this girl. “Anisa, I’m not thankful that you protected the property of those brutes. I’m thankful that you took up your time and energy and used that to protect me. I want to thank you for what you did for me. Anisa, you said you had a lot of free time, right?” The cephalian shrank slightly at that.

“I’m afraid that I am lacking in many ways as a heitera, and my master often leaves for places without me,” Anisa said softly. “I make sure to make my best efforts to meet his desires, of course.” Selara bit down on her lip.

 “Anisa, listen. You shouldn’t be saying things like that about yourself.”  She thought for a moment. “Remember what I said last time?  Well, I still think it would be good for us if we meet in the future.” Selara forced what she hoped looked like an encouraging smile to her lips. “What do you think? We can talk, or we can just sit quietly together. You remember the room you took me to, right? On the arane floor?” Anisa nodded. “Would you like to meet there again? I’m sure it would be good for the both of us to have someone to talk to.”

“My master wouldn’t like that, Miss Selara.” Anisa said. “I’m just a fuckdoll.”

“Anisa,” Selara began, her voice stern.

“The only thing a worthless fuckdoll like me should want is to please her master, Miss Selara,” Anisa said insistently.

“Anisa,” Selara said, “I want to see you again. It’ll make me very happy if we can meet again.”

Anisa looked at Selara, seemingly considering the offer for the first time.  She opened her mouth, and then closed it again. “I…my – my master wouldn’t want that.”

“Forget that, Anisa,” Selara said firmly, “Do you want to do this? If you don’t want to meet me again, that’s fine, but please make this decision because of what you want!”

Anisa shrank back slightly. Selara caught herself and leaned back as well, biting her tongue. Was that too much? She stared at Anisa’s face, every muscle tense as she waited. Selara nearly fell over when Anisa finally nodded.

“Good. That’s good.” Selara said, beaming, “Well, we know where to meet and I think that our masters have their work days on the same day. We’ll meet in the same room?”

“That sounds – it sounds good!” Anisa smiled.

The sound of a derisive snort cut through the air. Selara turned, looking across the infirmary. Most of the other slaves were not making eye contact, seemingly either focussed inwards or on the air right in front of them. One of the faliran women was glaring at the two of them, however. Selara was just going to turn away and ignore her, but she saw Anisa shrinking away. Not even remotely ready to lose all the progress she’d made with Anisa, Selara turned to face the faliran woman.

“Is there a problem?” shel asked, looking at the Faliran woman.

“Apart from this moronic shit? No, of course not. I have no problem in the slightest!” The faliran woman sniffed, turning away. “Just do whatever the hell you want. It’s not my problem if you all end up as useless broken wrecks.”

Selara could hear whimpering. Her eyes flickered towards Anisa to see the cephalian girl tearing up and curling into a ball. She quickly grabbed Anis’s shoulder and squeezed it reassuringly.

“We’re going to meet to make sure we avoid that,” Selara said, hoping she sounded more confident than she felt. “And I don’t appreciate you putting us down.”

“I’m not putting you down. I’m giving you some damn advice,” the faliran woman growled, narrowing her eyes. “If you think that sticking together or whatever’s going to make this easy on you, you have another thing coming. You want to live long in this place? Don’t count on friends.” The faliran woman narrowed her eyes, leaning against the wall. “Friends are just another way for them to hurt you.”

Selara stroked Anisa’s shoulder, trying to stop the tentacled girl from crying while trying not to tear up herself. “That’s ridiculous. Are you really going to tell us that getting help from other people does nothing?”

“Yes,” the faliran said, sounding so sure of herself that Selara couldn’t help but feel herself waver a little. “If the kthid see you two together, do you think they’ll let it slide or do you think they’ll find a way to make you suffer for thinking that you can have anything good or comforting in this hellhole?”

Selara tightened her jaw, trying to not think about how much sense that made. Anisa curled up beside Selara, sobbing to herself. The umbral set her jaw. “We’re meeting up, one way or another,” Selara said, looking towards Anisa. “It’ll make things better, I promise.”

“No it won’t,” The faliran woman sniffed. “Do you think sticking together is all you need to do to survive? It doesn’t help. If it did then everyone would be doing it.”

“It’ll work,” Selara said, locking  her jaw. “You’re welcome to join us if you want.”

The silence that followed was incredibly satisfying. The faliran woman looked at Selara like she had just grown a second head. “What?”

“If you are so sure that this won’t work, then why don’t you come along and watch it fail. I’m sure it’ll be satisfying to be proven right,” Selara said, narrowing her eyes.

The faliran woman growled. “Is this some kind of joke?”

“No it’s not. It’s a genuine offer,” Selara said, glaring at the faliran woman. She looked around the room, at the chamber full of hunched over and exhausted slaves. “The same goes for all of you. If you want to come join us, whether it’s just to try to watch us fail or you genuinely want help and want to give some help in return, you’re all welcome. I’m not sure how much I can do for you, but I’ll do my best to help however I can. I promise,” Selara said, looking towards Anisa. The cephalian girl was looking up at her, eyes sparkling. “That’s okay with you, right?” Selara asked more softly. It would be hard to call off everything after she came this far, admittedly, but it was the cephalian that she most wanted to keep safe.

Anisa nodded eagerly.

“Everyone, the chamber is room two hundred and thirty one of the fifty seventh corridors of the arane floor,” Anisa said, seeming to get absorbed in her thoughts for a moment. “Please come and join us. I can give you hugs!”

“This is ridiculous.” The faliran woman scowled, turning away. “If you want to pull this suicidal fuckery, then do the rest of us a favor and just jump into the trash pit, instead of trying to make all of us fall in after you!”

Selara pulled her attention away from the faliran and back to Anisa. The cephalian was looking up at her with no small measure of admiration. Selara wasn’t sure if it was hubris, and if she was drastically overestimating what she just did, but it did feel good to pay the cephalian back in some small way for her help. Selara patted Anisa’s tentacle, looking deep into those wide round eyes.

“You’ll be coming as well, right?” Selara asked.

Anisa nodded. “Of course, Miss Selara.”

Selara smiled, pulling the cephalian girl into another hug. The faliran woman had gone silent, seething quietly on her bed. Selara just focussed her attention on hugging Anisa back as she did her best to both enjoy the tranquil moment for as long as she could, and also try not to think about how much the small, wide eyed girl clinging to her for warmth reminded her of Ki-leth. The moment would eventually end, of course. But for now, Selara just wanted to stay here as long as she could, before she needed to go back out there and face Master Avraks and the other monsters alone again.

4 thoughts on “NSC – The Endless Night – Chapter 4 – Emergent Cohesion

  1. This was a very interesting chapter. Even with my tentativeness of Krathan still ongoing, he’s growing on me. Although (naturally) I’ve got mixed feelings on the scene between him and Anisa.

    Anyways! I’ll start by saying that the introduction to the chapter is perfect. I’d hesitate to say that the Kthid are **victims** of their own system, just because the usage of the word feels very minimising to the trillions of slaves under their tyranny.

    But their system is, in the same way fascism, authoritarianism, the patriarchy, and all oppressive forms of governance do cause damage to even their dominant social group, damaging. Krathan is rather clearly not happy with the system. He’s not particularly radical or **opposed** to the system, but he’s disillusioned with it. As much as he benefits from the system, he is still damaged by it. Albeit, at a greatly reduced rate in comparison to the slaves under his care.

    I do love the usage of the word “veterinarian” to refer to Krathan’s job. It serves as ample dehumanisation of the slaves under their care. They’re not people to them, they’re animals. Adding onto that, the mention of studies on “not tormenting slaves” does intrigue me. Partly due to the world-building, partly due to the horror that that had to be a study, and partly because they **really** decided to do a study on whether or not a slave would be happier, and healthier if not beaten regularly.

    Ehnkath is such a fucking loser, and I love it. I’m just amazed. Even his fucking **slave** is embarrassed on his behalf. It’s amazing. But anyways! Onto the meat of the chapter. Anisa. I’ve got mixed feelings on this. This isn’t anything to do with the quality of the writing, that’s lovely. Nor do I disagree with **what** was written. I’ve got mixed feelings from a real-world perspective in that I’m struggling to decide my view on this.

    I’ll firstly say that I love everything about this. I’ve struggled with viewing Anisa as hot in the past, because she’s just so adorable, but even so this was very hot. I want to hug her tight and tell her everything is going to be alright, but I also want to make her feel super good, but I **also** want to torture her painfully and it’s really hard to decide my feelings on that.

    The aquarium is cute, all of the veterinarian work is something that honestly interests me. I’d probably read it for that alone, and it’s something I want to see more of (and expect I’ll be seeing more of) in the future.


    To my mixed feelings. I’ll probably say that I dislike Krathan more because of this, just because it is **not** consensual. Anisa is clearly not capable of consenting, and even if she was the Kthid hold such a massive power dynamic over her that consent isn’t possible. But I do, at the very least, have some level of “like” for Krathan for not making it painful for her and for trying his best to make it gentle. I still, naturally, think he just shouldn’t have touched her. At all.

    > It felt wrong that both he and the slave could feel so good at the same time. It felt like cheating, somehow.

    This does give me pause. I’m fairly sure I’m just reaching here, but I was personally taking this as him feeling almost.. upset that she **wasn’t** in pain? Not because he’s sadistic, but because he feels instinctually guilty about what he’s doing. He’s worried she’s in pain because of him touching her, and doesn’t want her to be. He **recognises** that what he’s doing could cause pain, and upset her; and I therefore can imagine if he does find what he’s doing instinctually wrong that it would then feel like he was “cheating” to have his victim enjoy it.

    I’m not sure his views are yet that developed though, so again, probably just misreading it.

    I don’t really have any comments on Selara, apart from that I **loved** the mention of Avraks watching a fucking tutorial on how to pierce Umbrals and that I suspect there’ll be some conflict over Selara not having stories to tell Avraks. I suspect, also, that the little meeting Selara and Anisa have going will end up being the bridge-in to a main plotline. Them.. finding family, huh..?

    That’s everything done for this chapter, I think. I’ll probably read Chapter 5 later tonight, and then hopefully get that done so I can be ready for the next chapter!


    1. Hi, Thistle! Not sure if Aia was aware of this, or she might be waiting for the next comment or something, but in the meantime I figured I could respond to one of these.

      You are on to something, I think with the statement that the Kthid are, for lack of a better word, victims of their own culture. I was going to say more here, but I think a perfect opportunity emerges later in your review, so…

      Ehnkath is such a fucking loser, and I love it. I’m just amazed. Even his fucking slave is embarrassed on his behalf. It’s amazing.

      This character is entirely Aia’s creation, and when I read that particular scene, my jaw dropped. I was like “Oh, dear God, Aia, what did you do?” but in the best possible way.

      This does give me pause. I’m fairly sure I’m just reaching here, but I was personally taking this as him feeling almost.. upset that she wasn’t in pain? Not because he’s sadistic, but because he feels instinctually guilty about what he’s doing. He’s worried she’s in pain because of him touching her, and doesn’t want her to be. He recognises that what he’s doing could cause pain, and upset her; and I therefore can imagine if he does find what he’s doing instinctually wrong that it would then feel like he was “cheating” to have his victim enjoy it.

      Ok, so I do think it will be useful for Aia to comment on this, but for me, this is where we come back to your earlier statement about Kthid culture and the negative impact it has on the Kthid. My personal take is that Krathan is aware, perhaps at a level just below the conscious, of what he’s been taught that sex with a slave is like; of what he is expected to do as a Kthid. His culture teaches that sex with a slave is an act of conquest, and therefore that a slave’s suffering during the act is to be expected. Krathan just had a great sexual experience, and the slave seemed to enjoy it as well (on a physical level, at least), and somewhere in his mind he’s feeling what you said, that he doesn’t want to hurt Anisa and that this was actually an ideal outcome. He knows, though, what he’s been told all his life that it’s supposed to be like, so he may feel like he just got away with something he wasn’t meant to. It feels, in other words, like he cheated somehow.

      Again, Aia may have a different take on this.

      I don’t really have any comments on Selara, apart from that I loved the mention of Avraks watching a fucking tutorial on how to pierce Umbrals

      Yeah, I thought that was pretty funny too. It’s the Kthid version of something every doctor or scientist has experienced at least once…

      At any rate, I’ll ping Aia and see if she can reply as well!


    2. I wrote a full reply to this already but for whatever reason WordPress appears to have eaten my response and turned it into nothing. So here I go and write things again!

      Krathan is honestly complicated. He occupies a gray zone, for many reasons, and continues to do so partly for how isolated he is from general kthid society. More of his psychology will become apparent later on, of course, but for now the understanding that he’s unhappy is sufficient for the purposes of the story. He’s a veterinarian and an expert at that, and yet he still feels like his expertise and work is ignored and ultimately useless. He doesn’t really have the words to really express those thoughts though, even to himself, as the society around him really isn’t built to facilitate that kind of understanding.

      Lots more people ended up loving Ehnkath than I actually expected! Honestly the Ehnkath sections were always a joy to write even though his dialogue is some of the hardest for me to actually fabricate since he has such a roundabout and elaborate way of trying to say the simplest things. As for his slave, she didn’t sign up for this. She didn’t realize, coming into this, that she was about to be facing this newly minted psychological torture technique. Though as you did mention it last week, I should note that Ehnkath’s slave can almost certainly body him. It’s also good to hear that you’ve been finding Anisa more appealing from that respect. Considering the kind of story this is, it’s a bit hard for Anisa to avoid getting into that kind of scenario 😛

      And onto Krathan. Honestly his character was probably the hardest one to facilitate throughout this book. The vetenarian work will have many more aspects, of course, and they’ll be more about it as the story goes on as Krathan is a very central POV character to this first book. In regards to the scenes between the two though, Krathan lacks the very basis of understanding of why what he’s doing might even be considered wrong. In fact, his sense of what is right and wrong is warped to an extent that it becomes pertinent to the particular line you quoted.

      > It felt wrong that both he and the slave could feel so good at the same time. It felt like cheating, somehow.

      I wasn’t attempting to represent Krathan being upset here. Anisa assumes he’s upset because that’s how she’s wired and been rewired, but Krathan’s actually uncomfortable. I wouldn’t say it’s a matter of Krathan feeling instinctively that what he’s doing could upset or cause pain as much as he’s **seen** how slaves react to kthid raping them. They scream, they cry, and even when they tell their master that they love what’s happening to them Krathan, someone who studies slave species closely so he can diagnose and draft care recommendation for slaves, sees how much of a sham it actually is. Aliens suffer when kthid fuck them. Krathan doesn’t need to understand it from an instictive level. He has seen what a ‘normal’ interaction of a kthid and a slave is tens of thousands of times by now. Krathan considers himself a professional, dedicated to his job and the wellbeing of slaves as he understands it. He still grew up in kthid society, however. It’s why the term ‘vet’ was chosen to describe his occupation. His understanding of looking to the wellbeing of slaves can best be equated to a farmer who raises the animals for slaughter. They can try to give their animals as well as they could and give them as happy of a life as they can, within ‘reason’, but ultimately the wellbeing of the animal is still below the desires of people. Ultimately the animal has to suffer death for the farmer to get what they want.

      Krathan conceptualizes himself in something of a similar circumstances. He grew up in a society where cruelty to slaves is normal and so he assumes that there’s a good reason things are the way they are. He assumes that the cruelty is just what has to happen for ‘real people’ to get what they want. Seeing Anisa reacting, on the basest level, positively to sex with him feels so deeply **wrong** to him because it’s not something that could be understood in the framework that he has built for himself. He assumed that slaves were hurt because they **needed** to be hurt. Him finding out that slaves could react neutrally or even positively to sexual contact with a kthid body would be like a farmer discovering, after spending forty years butchering animals, that it’s perfectly possible to get meat from an animal without needing to kill or even harm them. Emotionally, this episode was very gratifying for Krathan. Mentally, it’s very disconcerting. Krathan’s uncomfortable because this isn’t how he understood the world works. He has convinced himself that slaves suffered as much as they do because that’s what’s necessary. He’s so uncomfortable because he’s confused. Why hasn’t anyone told him this? If the abuse he sees isn’t optimal or necessary, then **why** are things the way they are?

      Now you and I can probably answer these questions rather easily. For Krathan, things are less clear.


  2. Alright, here we go again! Honestly I do get your hesitation. Quite frankly: this relationship isn’t really particularly healthy for either of them. It does have relevance as we move forwards into the future, however, so I won’t speak too much about that for now. Needless to say, Krathan’s rather miserable in his current position.

    Of course, parallels to fascistic expansionist regimes will be very visible when comparing them to the kthid imperium. A large part of this, naturally, will be the way that their society socially stratifies with their clear division between the ‘worthy’ casted, the ‘worthless’ casteless, and the ‘animal’ slaves at the bottom of it all. It allows the citizens of the regime to continue seeing themselves as decent and respectable even as they heap utterly horrific torments onto their subjects.

    And yeah, Ehnkath is a loser 😀 We talked about Nareen and Thakur last week, but Althea can, without question, body Ehnkath. As for your feelings on Anisa, I’m glad you’re warming up to her! This is that kind of story, after all, so we’ll be seeing her in sexual situations lots going on into the future 😛

    As for Krathan, it’s honestly rather complicated to explain his position and what the line you highlighted in particular means. I think the best way I can describe his initial assumptions (as Krathan doesn’t have much contact with non-arane slaves for his personal use capacity) is that essentially kthid and their slave species exists in a structure that is fundamentally a zero-sum game. That is, Krathan has partially internalized that slaves are miserable, terrorized, and abused so much because that’s just the way things **have** to be for people (kthid) to keep getting what they want in terms of being able to reproduce their species and, more broadly, to satisfy their desire for sexual satisfaction and intimacy. Krathan’s not upset, per se, that Anisa wasn’t in pain and was able to get some base pleasure out of what happened. He was more discomforted now that there’s more dissonance happening in his mind as what he’s witnessing chafes up against the excuses and the justifications he gave himself on why what the kthid do to other civilizations and the slaves that get captured from them would be fundamentally acceptable.

    To some extent Krathan just sort of assumes that this is the way things are because it’s the way things **have** to be in the same way that modern humans might view cruel practices for animal agriculture in the modern world. It’s another itch, as it were, that’s currently working over the back of Krathan’s mind. More generally, what Krathan does can be understood in modern society as wrong. Krathan, however, doesn’t even really have any metric to understand why what he’s doing would be objectionable (beyond his gut discomfort) whatsoever.


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