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.
Sky woke with a start. Consciousness struck like a blast of cold water, leaving her shivering. She wasn’t getting raped, which was already an improvement over most days. Sky quickly scampered to her feet, throwing herself against a nearby wall and forcing herself into the shadow it cast, her tail wrapping around her body like a raised fence.
Unlike the tails of other llorians, hers bore no spires. The spines had been torn out without anesthetics and the spinebed cauterized to reduce her formerly venomous tail to a harmless lump of flesh. There were no other visible injuries on Sky’s spotted orange skin, but her body was absolutely in pain. Her stomach didn’t growl or complain to her. It merely prodded her persistently, reminding her that she was starving.
Instead of metal or stone, the wall she was leaning against was distinctly plastic. The floor beneath her feet was the same uniform metallic mesh as the ceiling, allowing the air to pour down through the hundreds of layers. She wasn’t in the central space of the ship anymore. She was back in the casteless slums. The revelation brought her neither relief nor dread.
Set into the side of the kthid warship, the casteless slums weren’t so much habitation as they were storage. With hundreds of floors formed out of little more than metal mesh, harsh yet sporadic lighting, and fortified transportation pipes and slopeways acting as both support pillars and the only thing passing through the countless layers of the slums, the hovels were less like homes, or even a prison, and more like a tightly-packed hive.
Dried cum clung to Sky’s arms, legs, and lightly pregnant belly, crusting up her dark orange skin. The memories of the previous night came flooding back to her in a surge of nightmares. Paws bearing down on her body, tugging her from side to side like she was a doll being torn apart. Countless scaled cocks crammed down her holes. Hours of being rendered airtight by cocks until her consciousness shattered. Once upon a time, the rapes had left her feeling disgusted, horrified, and filthy. Nowadays, it was just survival.
“You have been booked. Report to the checkpoint,” the harsh voice intoned, straight into her earpiece. Sky stared blankly ahead, her mind frazzled. She wouldn’t even get a chance to rest?
No. There was no resting. Sky needed to obey if she wanted to survive. The llorian looked around her quickly. The plastic walls were all around her, forming something like a labyrinth. The sight was relatively familiar to the few especially wretched slaves like her who had been thrown to the casteless. She was inside of one of the casteless hovels, one of their nests.
Sky crept along the wall, her eyes rapidly probing every single corner as she crept along, hunched over so far that she was almost crawling on the ground. There weren’t any true structures or rooms inside of the casteless slums. What was there were just sheets of partitioning plastic, given to gangs of casteless to construct anything from single-room dens to full sized camps. Sky, chillingly, seemed to have found herself in the latter.
She scuttled to the closest corner and peered around the plastic wall. At the very least, there weren’t any visible kthid that might turn around and spot her. They were nearby, however. Sky could hear their harsh tones buzzing through the air like the movement of wind.
Scuttling between the alleyways of the casteless encampment at a brisk but silent pace, Sky couldn’t help but grow increasingly apprehensive about the size of the place. Countless rows of hovels stretched onwards, constructed out of those roofless partitions. She pushed on nonetheless. She couldn’t stay here and dwell in her misery and worthlessness. She needed to keep moving if she wanted to survive.
With her hasty pace, Sky nearly stumbled out into a clearing. Heart hammering against her ribs, she nearly gave herself whiplash as she jumped back into the shadow of a nearby wall. She returned only slowly, her tail arching up behind her as she crept back forwards and glanced around the corner.
The clearing at the center of the encampment was wide, encircled as it was by the simple hovels. Sky’s eyes widened and her stomach growled as she looked upon the structure at the heart of the plastic village.
The massive metal cylinder, as wide as a house, emerged from the floor and disappeared into the ceiling above. It was bolted into the grated metal surface, built to the strength of a bunker. A dispensary!
An uncommon but nevertheless familiar sight in the casteless hovels, dispensaries were the only place where solvent towels, food, and water were provided and where waste could be disposed of in the gray deserts of the casteless slums. Sky bit her lip. The camp was built around the dispensary like some kind of fort, guarding some of the most precious resources available in the slums.
The most precious resource in the metal wastes, however, could be spotted right next to the stops leading up to the fountain. Tall and shapely, the umbral woman would have struck an imposing sight were she on her feet. On her knees and flanked on all sides by the looming lizards, she looked considerably less striking. They were too far away for Sky to see the scene clearly but with the position of their bodies and knowing the nature of these lizards, Sky had little doubt about what she was looking at.
That wasn’t what drew her attention, however. What did was close by. Rows of refilled bottles stood on the steps of the dispensary. They were sized for kthid hands and bodies, more like water tankards. By reflex, Sky’s tongue slid over her lips. Those lips, her mouth, and the throat behind them were utterly parched.
Hot pain stabbed into Sky’s ear, the screech like metal against her eardrum. Sky squeaked and staggered, doing everything she could to stop herself from letting out a scream of pain. The shrill note continued for another ten full seconds before it cut off with a thunk.
“You are not moving,” the harsh voice intoned. “Move towards the checkpoint.”
Sky clutched her ears, eyes watering. The translator had been surgically installed into the side of her ear canal, essentially impossible to remove for her. It would constantly demand her obedience and hurt her for any perceived failure, regardless of whether she was slow to obey because she was unconscious or in the middle of a gangrape.
The water was so close, though. So, so close and it wasn’t like she’d be getting any water on the outside either. This could be her last chance for a drink for the next thirty hours. Setting her teeth and steeling herself, Sky began to slowly creep forwards, wearing the shadow like a skimpy veil as she moved to where the hovels ran closest to the fountain.
Sky stopped at every corner, peering down every alley and scanning the insides of every hovel. Some were empty, but most were occupied with kthid. Most were sleeping, others were in the middle of gruff-voiced conversations or were busying their paws with tasks. One group in particular seemed to have taken the metal poles that were used to hold up the plastic panels and were sharpening them, turning them into crude spears. Sky quickly moved on before she could think what those jagged tips would feel like when sinking into her flesh.
Her ears listened to every noise they could, separating the murmurs from the footsteps as she quickly wove between the hovels. The narrow alleys and the indistinct buildings made navigation difficult for her, but it also gave her dozens of passages to leap down when she heard approaching footsteps.
Only one hovel gave Sky actual pause in her journey across the camp. Instead of immediately sprinting on after leaping past the entrance, she turned back and peered around the corner to make sure that she wasn’t seeing things.
A group of kthid lay asleep, their thick tails curled up behind them. Near the slumbering kthid, a tan-skinned woman slowly moved. The slave was clearly a mirucain, marked by their sharp ears, distinctively curled horns, and eyes that were uniquely terrified even among the members of a slave species.
This particular mirucain was cleaning: moving around the kthid bodies with her broom. Only two of her ears were still fully intact, the other two missing their tips. The mirucain woman stopped for a moment, putting her hand over her mouth to stifle a yawn before reaching up to rub the dust out of her eyes.
“ – only so many places she could go!” Sky’s blood ran cold. Her head snapped around, searching for the owner of the voice. “I told you that you were supposed to watch her and be there when she woke up!”
“I was just taking a piss! I didn’t think she’d just disappear!”
“Well now you know! Fuck’s sake, Grolarn! Follow your damn orders!” a gruffer voice growled, “Kan’lun’s mercy, Shautan’s going to have our heads for this! Now go and – ”
Sky bolted before she heard any more, scuttling away from the direction of the noise as quickly as she could. They were looking for her! She needed to escape! But the water! Sky gritted her teeth, scrambling down the darkest and narrowest alleyways she could find until she could no longer hear the voices behind her.
The muffled sounds of conversation quickly gave way to a much more familiar noise as she crept up towards the fountain. Wet, sloppy sounds resonated alongside the gruff moans of the kthid. Sky peeked around the corner to find herself confronted with a familiar and yet no less nauseating sight.
Emerald erections stood high, the long phallus jutting out like firearms aimed straight at the head of a subdued captive. The woman didn’t seem to get fed much better than Sky did, with her ribs visible with some prominence through the skin of her upper body.
“Ah — Oleira,” one of the casteless groaned, “your skin feels so good!”
The umbral woman gave no verbal reply, continuing onwards with her sordid task. Her white wings were folded against her back to give space to the three kthid standing before her kneeling body. Two were being tended to by her hands, her dexterous fingers gliding up and down the length of the shafts. The third moaned and growled in delight as the umbral woman licked the glossy head of his fuckpole, her long tongue tracing and lapping over the sensitive cock. The lucky kthid hissed, his entire body trembling as her lips wrapped around the shaft and the woman hollowed out her cheeks to form a vacuum around the malachite cock.
There was one last kthid right behind her, groaning as her long tail coiled around his shaft. The flying tails of umbrals weren’t overly dexterous, yet through some great feat of legerdemain the umbral still managed to work her tail into something almost like a hole for the kthid behind her to work himself to a climax on. The kthid kneaded at the meat of her soft ass with his paws, his thick digits playing against the sphincter nestled right beneath the tail.
Nearby, other kthid were enjoying the sordid scene. More than one formed a line leading up to the pale-skinned woman, clutching something or a handful of somethings in between their cupped paws. Other kthid were nearby, watching the debauched scenes and jerking their meat-poles to the sight of the woman’s defilement.
Sky shrank back quickly, sinking back into the shadows as a pair of kthid sprinted forwards galloping on all fours with their tails out behind them. They stopped before another of their number, rising to a stand.
The kthid in question turned towards them. He looked different from the rest: gray-scaled and sharp-faced. He was tall and yet gangly, to the point where Sky could see the bulge of his spines running down the length of his back. With his looming presence, spindly frame, a strange primitive fetish hanging from a string like a necklace, the kthid almost looked like some kind of animated specter.
“Sir Shautan, we’re really sorry!” one of the smaller kthid said quickly. “We lost the llorian!”
“You lost the llorian! You were the one who was supposed to be watching her!” the other messenger snapped.
“I needed to take a piss!” the first kthid argued. “What did you want me to do? Just pee in the corner? What would she think if the first she ever saw of me was the sight of me peeing!”
“That’s your problem! You were supposed to be the one watching her!”
The gray kthid clasped his paws over his face, index finger pressing hard against his closed eyelids. The two green ones continued to argue back and forth, their voices rising up like a clamor. Some of the kthid in the square turned to watch the argument, but the rest of them were still watching the umbral woman being gangbanged. It seemed to be the reason most of them were out in the camp’s central area in the first place.
For the four kthid surrounding the umbral, there seemed to be absolutely no awareness of the furious shouting that was happening right next to them. The umbral’s hands were moving faster now, jerking up and down the length of the scaly cocks and moving her hips such that her coiled tail would tug at the shaft of the kthid behind her.
The kthid in front of the umbral groaned in delight, earning a noticeably envious glance from one of his fellows, as the pale-skinned woman leaned forwards over the cock, sliding the shaft deeper into her mouth. Her neck swelled and bulged as the monstrous cock made its way down her throat. The woman had to straighten out her neck and leaned forwards, tipping her chin up to align her mouth with the rest of her esophagus.
Sky couldn’t help but shudder as the middle kthid reached forwards with his paw and placed his clawed hand on the umbral woman’s head. Pushing his digits in between the long locks of her hair and grabbing hold of them like reins, the kthid guided the umbral down onto his shaft. Even from a distance, Sky could hear the wet squelch as the cock bulged her face-hole.
“Quiet, both of you.” The harsh tone easily tore Sky’s attention away from the scene, focussing it directly towards the gray-scaled kthid. “No fighting in the commune.”
The two kthid straightened up instantly, their backs as stiff as a board. “S – sorry, Sir!”
“We’ll find her quickly, Sir Shautan!” the other kthid assured, the both of them nodding quickly. “We’ll bring her right to you when we do.” Sky shuddered, hugging her chest protectively. The bottles of water were so close, but so were the kthid. Should she even risk it?
“No need,” the gray kthid said.
“We will not be keeping her here,” the gray kthid said. “Chase her away if you see her again.” Sky turned towards the kthid, blinking. Chase her away? Even if they chained her down, she’d probably gnaw off her own feet to get away!
The umbral woman finally managed to get the cock all the way inside of her throat. The kthid’s green testes rested against her chin, almost pressing against his cock from outside of the umbral’s neck. The kthid pulled on her hair, slowly pulling her face off his cock. The shaft was glazed with saliva as it slid from between the woman’s full lips, the sheen glistening in the harsh light of the ceiling lamps.
One of the kthid raised his head and roared in delight, his voice ringing loud as he reached his climax. Spurts of cum erupted from the jade-colored cock, the spray of white seed splattering over the woman’s shoulders, back, and breasts. The umbral’s right hand worked hard, continuing to jerk up and down the cock even as he emptied his load all over the woman’s body.
The sight wasn’t particularly new to Sky. With such a scarce supply of usable holes to empty their cocks into, casteless had far more cum to pour into the screaming slaves than their casted peers. The kthid staggered back slightly before sinking towards the ground, face replete with bliss.
All of the kthid in the square either seemed to be watching the public fucking or were listening in on the arguement between the two messenger kthid and the one who appeared to be something of a leader among their kind. They were absolutely distracted, but would they be distracted enough to not notice Sky sneaking up to the dispensary? The llorian gulped, feeling her raspy throat clench as she stared desperately towards the blue plastic tankards.
The water was so very close. Sky balled up her fists and began to creep forwards. Even covered in old cum and grime, her skin was still a vivid orange. She wished that she had the umbral woman’s pale skin right about now, that she might blend in a little more seamlessly with the grays of the plastic partitions and the dispensary. Would that make a difference though? Beneath the bright glare of the light, Sky really wasn’t sure.
Making sure to pick an angle where the darkness and the dispensary would best obscure her body, Sky swiftly darted into the shadow of the metal station. Her heart hammered against her ribcage as she peered around the corner. There was no shouting. No kthid got to their feet. Sky’s knees nearly buckled underneath her as she gasped, clutching her chest.
It wasn’t over though. Sky crept around the corner, fingers pressed so hard against the wall behind her that she was almost afraid she would break bone. While she had already covered the vast majority of the distance she needed to get to water, the most difficult stretch was still ahead of her.
“But the llorian’s already here, Sir!” the first green kthid protested. “We might as well keep her! She couldn’t have gotten far in her state.”
“No,” the gray one growled. The two smaller kthid looked at each other, clearly confused.
“But you’re the one who brought her all the way here, Sir!” the second kthid said. “You’re just going to throw her out?”
“The council has ruled. Three against one,” the gray kthid said. “No more slaves. Too much danger.”
“Too much danger, Sir?”
“Patrols are more common now. More raiders on the attack,” the gray kthid growled. “It’s already too dangerous. The council wants no more threats to the commune.”
Sky could still see the captive umbral from where she was. The kthid that just recently climaxed reached for a stack of towels nearby, picking up the wet sheet of fabric and moving back towards the umbral. The pale woman was still busy at work with the other three kthid, her hand working furiously over the shaft whilst her throat bulged and shrank as the kthid in front of her lanced her throat again and again.
Unfurling the towel, the kthid began to wipe the splatters of cum off the umbral’s body. It took Sky a moment to actually parse what was happening. The umbral, along with that mirucain Sky had spotted earlier and perhaps a few slaves hidden away elsewhere, had to be shared between the hundreds of casteless in this vast camp.
Those females were public property, and as public property there was almost certainly some camp law about keeping them clean for the other kthid. Sky shuddered. How many rapes were each of these women subjected to each day to make them so filthy that even casteless would have to formulate some kind of public hygiene code?
The kthid behind the umbral grabbed the pale woman’s tail and uncurled the limb. He wrapped his massive paw around the base of the umbral’s tail and stepped forwards. Though she was already taking the massive shaft down her throat, the woman’s eyes still went wide. Though Sky couldn’t see the emerald cock piercing its way into the puckered pale sphincter, she still shuddered with sympathetic pain.
The two kthid before the leader looked at each other. “Isn’t there something we could do?” one of them asked.
“No. This decision will not be overturned,” the gray kthid declared, turning away.
“What if we got the proper seated members to annul this ruling?” the first of the green kthid said, hurrying after the taller gray lizard. The leader growled in annoyance, picking up his pace, though not breaking into a run. “We could call for a repeal and a new ruling on the decision then, can’t we?”
The gray kthid growled. “It will be weeks before they arrive. We cannot hold the llorian until then.”
“Then I’ll get Gaskrit and make my way to the third commune right away!” the first of the green kthid insisted. “Please, Sir. All I need from you is your assurance that you’ll call for a repeal once we gather the holding members!”
The heated conversation continued, drawing the eyes of more than a few of the kthid in the square. Just about every last one of the monsters that wasn’t watching the debased orgy, in fact. Sky pounced then. She quickly scampered out of the shadows whilst the kthid were all distracted, rounded the stairs, and quickly grabbed hold of the plastic.
The tankard was heavy; Sky nearly lost her balance as she tried to pick it up. Managing to lift the plastic cylinder on her second try, she clutched the massive bottle against her chest, and quickly sprinted back around the dispensary.
Sky nearly tripped over herself as she dashed back into the shadows. She fell to her knees, quickly turning to peer around the corner. Apart from the three kthid still triple-teaming the umbral woman, every kthid in the square was just lounging around. None of them were moving towards her. As far as she could tell, none of them had spotted her.
Crumbling against the wall, Sky let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. Her lungs burned from the sudden rush of action and her heart felt like it had been bruised just from how hard it had been beating, but she had gotten away with it.
The punishing sound struck her then, like someone taking a needle and driving it straight through her eardrum. “You are not moving towards the exit,” the computerized voice intoned, cold and yet somehow vicious. “You have been booked. Begin moving towards the exit.”
It was nothing but honed instinct, cultivated within her like debilitating calluses, that stopped Sky from screaming out in pain. The sudden rush of activity had left her mentally and physically taxed and far more brittle than even she would typically be. Sky sat there for what must have been a minute, trembling and whimpering whilst trying her best not to vocalize her agony
She did eventually recover, however. The feeble muscles of her arms burned as she picked up the water tankard from her thighs and set it onto the ground. Sky licked her lips nervously as she pulled the cork open, nearly bursting into tears all over again as she heard the sloshing sound from within.
Water. So much water. Sky carefully tipped the tankard over, slowly sloshing mouthfuls of water past her parched lips. The water flooded her mouth like liquid bliss, the cool mouthfuls instantly hydrating and reinvigorating her.
More than a little water spilled out over Sky’s face to wet her hair and run down over her nude body, but she couldn’t care less. She drank desperately, barely even noticing that she was quickly running out of air between mouthfuls. She just coughed up the water that managed to make its way into her windpipe, pressing her hand against her mouth to try to mute the sound.
By the time the water in the tankard was running to a trickle, Sky had drunk her fill and then some. Feeling bloated and wanting nothing more than to just lie down and sleep, she forced herself up onto her feet. She peered around the corner, making sure that no kthid was waiting just around the dispensary to pounce on her.
The umbral woman was still there, surrounded by kthid. The lizards had all changed individually, but the scene before Sky was practically a mirror of the one she had seen just minutes ago. She gulped. How long had the umbral been a toy for the castles? A year? Two? Five? Sky wasn’t sure she was getting an answer either way.
Without making another sound, Sky crawled back into the shadows. She wiped her mouth with one hand and clutched her bloated stomach with the other. Now that one essential need was taken care of, she needed to move on to caring for the next.
It was the only way she would continue to survive.
Thron strolled through his brother’s palace with a leash in hand, his heitera crawling along behind him. On her hands and knees as she was, the umbral struggled to keep pace with him. The former priestess and soldier didn’t neglect her posture, however, the constant sinuous sway of her back carried towards her hips and onto her gold-adorned tail. She wore nothing else but a simple brand on her flesh, displaying the emblem of Thron’s illustrious lineage and proclaiming her servitude to him.
Lesser officers stopped to salute as they saw him. Arane scattered, quickly scuttling for what they imagined were safe hiding spots. He really did want to spend some time relaxing, hunting those endlessly replenishable game through the tunnels of the Night, with their eyes filled with terror and bright blood staining their skin. Hunting down Tehouanai was certainly fun in its own way, but there was nothing quite like chasing prey that knew that they might die if they end up getting caught.
Voerash was waiting for him, however. Thron had already flaked on his elder brother several times over the last couple of weeks and Voerash didn’t seem to be getting any less angry. It seems, one way or another, Thron would have to be the one to put the Huntsmaster’s mind back on task.
Branded arane waited before the golden double-doors leading up to the lounge. They quickly rose to their feet as he approached and pulled the doors open. Apart from the transportation elevators, there wasn’t a single door in the Huntsmaster’s palace that was mechanically articulated. Why bother with such cold devices, after all, when they had so many good slaves to set to the task?
The room beyond was replete with artwork, though of an entirely different kind to what adorned the majority of the ship. These pieces were truly priceless. A metal sculpture taken from an umbral palace was bolted to the ceiling of the lounge, the geometric metal structure dominating the ceiling like a massive chandelier. On the far corner of the room was a stone relief that had been taken from a corvid temple, disassembled and then transported piece by piece before being reconstructed. Different colored minerals had been selected and filed down before being put into place like pixels on a screen. The image depicted a godlike being with wings ten times larger than their body standing atop a triangular structure with worshippers prostate beneath its talons. Much like the slaves that the artwork had been captured with, there was no real need to appreciate the context or the cultural significance for Thron to appreciate how beautiful they were. Each was a piece that could never be produced again. That uniqueness added to their preciousness for Thron. He had helped destroy the worlds and the hands that had created these pieces, and thus rendered them priceless.
Trays of snacks and pots of hot wine had already been prepared in anticipation for his arrival. Though prepared for only him and two of his brothers, there was enough food in the room for a company to feast. Thron plucked a crystalline glass off the table and sat himself down on a long couch, clicking his tongue and waving his hand to call his heitera over.
Luvira crawled over demurely, scarlet painting her cheeks beneath her bright yellow eyes. She wore an expression of resignation and practiced subservience. Hooking his claw beneath her metal collar, Thron guided the umbral up onto her knees. His paw moved down his heitera’s marbled skin, caressing the curves of her breasts. Luvira was a beauty, of course, though one that many within the Empty Night would consider unworthy of his attention. She had been a simple soldier and priestess once, one that would otherwise have been sent off to the auctions in Maldoror alongside the billions of other females looted from their little world.
At least two of Voerash’s Kangansverii had offered him one of the umbrals’ generals for his harem. He had turned them both down, of course. Though it might have been more appropriate for a more ranked member of the umbrals’ hierarchy to wear his chains, his interest was never on who his slave was.
Instead, it was on what she would become.
“Display yourself, Luvira,” Thron said, rolling every single exotic syllable of her name on his tongue. “I wish to admire my property.”
“Yes, master,” the umbral said softly.
Luvira rested her haunches down on her heels. She stalled for the briefest moment, a flush of red shame and humiliation crossing her expression, before she forced her knees apart to reveal the soft insides of her thighs. Her pregnant belly was displayed in lovely detail, with red marks running across her skin like veins of copper through marbled limestone.
The umbral shuddered as Thron reached forwards, taking hold of her breast. The slave made the most lovely pained squeak as he squeezed down roughly, deforming the shapely orb into a squashed wineskin of flesh. Droplets of milk spurted from the applied pressure, running down her mound.
“You are as beautiful as always, Luvira,” Thron smirked, pulling back his paw and licking off the faintly sweet fluid
“Thank you, Master,” Luvira whispered.
“You do not sound particularly thankful,” Thron growled. Luvira’s eyes flushed with instantaneous dread, transforming her shame into terror. Thron chuckled. “No matter. Tell me, Luvira, do you know what it is that I find most lovely about you?”
“I do not, Master,” she whispered, bowing her head. Thron took hold of his heitera’s chin and forced her face upwards.
“Look at me, Luvira. You are a heitera, not an arane serving slave,” he chided, a certain note of amusement in his tone.
“Yes, Master. I’m sorry,” Luvira whispered, raising her eyes to his face.
With his heitera posed as he desired, Thron leaned back to once again admire the pregnant trophy. Her chalk-white breasts rose and fell as she breathed, drawing attention to the dark gray of her silver-adorned nipples and the distinctive brand. Faint blue veins ran just beneath her skin, giving her body the appearance of a statue. She would almost look like one, if not for the trembling of her knees as she tried to keep herself upright and the shudders of disgust as he consumed her with his eyes.
Thron retrieved a toy from his belt, pointing the glass tool towards Luvira’s mouth. It was a gnarled thing, covered in blunt spikes and nodules. The umbral required no further elaboration, rolling out her tongue and lathering her spit all over the glass surface. She gagged as Thron plunged the tool into her throat, her neck bulging from the intrusion.
Thron gave his heitera little time to acclimate before he began to twist the toy around inside of her. Tears of pain and indignation running down her cheeks, Luvira tried her best to keep up. Leaning forwards and straightening out her neck, the umbral did what she could to manage the vicious tool.
It was about a minute or two before Thron deigned to pull the tool out from between his slave’s lips. The glass length was lathered with slimy fluids, pulled straight from the sensitive surface of the slave’s throat. Luvira coughed and gasped for air as Thron raised the toy up to his eye, admiring the bright gloss covering the tool.
“So, Luvira,” he smirked, “did you enjoy that?”
The priestess’s eyes widened. “I – I don’t know if — ”
“Tell me how much you enjoyed that, Luvira,” Thron said, “and tell me why you enjoyed it.”
“I – I – I enjoyed it very much, Master,” Luvira said quickly. Thron raised his brow and the umbral priestess shrank, bowing her head in apparent fear. “M – my slut hole is thankful for being useful to you,” she quickly added, sounding more like she was reading off of a prompting card than anything else.
Thron laughed. “Your efforts were utterly pathetic, but amusing all the same,” Thron said. “Now then, I shall ask you the question again. And do try to be honest this time.” Thron enjoyed the priestess’s face twisting in confusion. If he’d known she was going to be this fun, he would have gotten to her far sooner. “Be honest with me. Tell me how that made you feel.”
Luvira’s eyes widened. “I should tell you how I feel honestly?”
“Of course,” Thron said, reaching forwards and gently laying his paw against the umbral’s throat. “Do go on. Tell me.”
Luvira shrank even further. “I’m not sure that’s appropriate, Master.”
“Do you truly think it inappropriate for a heitera to obey her master’s orders?” Thron asked, his paw suddenly clamping down around her neck. He didn’t use much force, but the previous toying had left Luvira’s throat tender and hurting. Pain and fear flashed in the priestess’s eyes as he pressed down on her windpipe. “What is the role of a heitera, if not to obey her master’s orders and to suffer for his pleasure? Perhaps I should give you time to carefully consider that response, Luvira. Perhaps I shall have you entertain the warrior platoons as a public slave for about ten days, so you have enough time to properly consider your place.”
“Master, please don’t! I didn’t mean to anger you, I swear!” the priestess whispered quickly, her voice hoarse and strained.
Thron relaxed his grip, arching his brow. “And so you thought to disobey me for that reason?” he asked. “Because you feared causing me offense?”
“Yes, Master,” Luvira whispered. Thron tisked.
“Luvira, Luvira, Luvira. You should know me quite well by now.” He sighed, letting go of her neck. “Do I seem the type to take offense at your words? I know you loathe being my heitera. That is part of what makes slaves like you so much more worth having than those arane,” Thron said, waving his paw dismissively. “Do you think I’d find it offensive if you were to speak those thoughts aloud? Do you think I’ll be appalled? Do you think my enjoyment would be dampened by knowing how much you want to scream every single time I rape you? I know you hate what I do to you and your kind, and I love it.”
Luvira flinched as Thron jabbed her chest with his claw, right on her brand. “Hate your treatment all you wish, Luvira. In fact, hate me for everything I’ve done. Believe me when I say that for every single child and male you’ve seen me butcher, I’ve slaughtered and tortured countless more. I don’t pay any more attention to them than I pay to each gram of dirt that goes into making my meals. I remember the desserts I’ve enjoyed far more than I remember those worthless lives, Luvira.”
Thron shoved the glass tool back into Luvira’s mouth just as she started to respond. He rotated the sex toy in her throat, letting the umbral priestess feel every single bump and contour as he rolled the toy around. Strings of saliva and mucus splattered across Luvira’s chin, breasts, and belly as Thron unsheathed the tool from her throat, reaching down with the transparent tool.
Luvira squirmed as Thron raped her with the glass rod. The sex toy was neither overly large nor excessively long, but the blunt spikes would feel like dozens of fingers pressing into her sensitive pussy walls. Thron turned the toy slightly until the largest of the spikes, the one curved up like a curled finger, rested on Luvira’s clitoris. With the press of a button, the toy began to vibrate inside of the umbral woman’s passage. Thron smirked as she watched the woman’s eyes widen and heard her breath begin to grow faster and more erratic. Fresh tears painted her cheeks.
“Now then, where was I?” Thron asked, tilting his head. “Oh yes, I remember. Do tell me, Luvira, do I seem, to you, like the type to mete out idle punishments?”
“I – Master, if I may ask,” Luvira asked softly, her entire body tensing up as her slit was stimulated by the warty toy, “am I still to be honest?”
Thron snorted. “Luvira, do I seem to you like the type that needs to prove myself through my treatment of my property? Do I seem like I need to show anyone that I am deserving of my place?” he asked. “Punishment is hardly the only motive for me to cause you suffering, Luvira. Sometimes it just pleases me to see you in pain. I hardly am the type to punish a slave idly.”
Luvira looked utterly bewildered. “B – but Master, you punish one of your heitera almost every single day!”
“Do I? I certainly recall doing no such thing. I do believe that that will need some clarification,” Thron said. “Oh, are you thinking of that corvid girl?”
“She’s called Tehou,” Luvira said. Panic crossed her expression just as she realized what she just let slip from her lips.
“Oh, Luvira. How you misunderstand,” Thron chuckled. “That is no punishment. That is but a game I enjoy playing with her. Nothing more. Punishment is something you do when you find a certain behavior to be unsatisfactory and worth correcting. Little Tehou’s struggling isn’t worth correcting. It is amusing in the extreme and I have no interest in seeing her stop her futile resistance before she genuinely surrenders,”
“Until then, I am more than happy to let her boil and seethe and struggle. Her rebellion nowadays will simply mean that, when she does inevitably cave, her submission will be all the sweeter for me to enjoy.” Thron smiled, looking at his heitera. “The same concept applies to you, Luvira. You are so very much like Tehou, after all.”
Luvira’s eyes widened. “Me?”
“Yes you.” Thron smiled, stroking at Luvira’s distended belly. “I will enjoy you very much on the day when you finally cave and fully become mine, Luvira. I can tell you that there is no experience quite like forcing a heitera into her final surrender. I can recall every single heitera I have forced to that point and claimed so fully and completely. There is no sensation greater.”
“I – I don’t think I understand, master,” Luvira whispered, shuddering as Thron dragged the points of his talons over the skin between Luvira’s thighs, moving over her stuffed slit and towards the nub right at the very top. Thron’s fingers closed around the clit, making Luvira squeal in pain.
“All this would be so much easier if you got a little wetter, Luvira,” Thron taunted. “What use is your cultural prudishness and pride now? Are you too mired in your meaningless faith to see that you have been recruited to a far higher station than a middling priestess of some backwater world?”
“You said you wanted me to surrender to you,” Luvira whispered, tearing up. “I’ve already surrendered to you, Master. I don’t know why you think that I resemble young Tehou. If there is something that you think of as me rebelling against you, I can assure you that I am doing no such thing.”
“Oh, but you do rebel against me, heitera. You rebel against me every single day.” Thron smirked, mashing his fingers against the soft quim. “There is so much more of you left to break. So many flavors of enjoyment I can yet extract from you. I need to keep slowly chipping away at you until you finally crack and turn into the perfectly obedient heitera your kind were meant to be from the very start.” Thron smiled, pulling his fingers away. Even with the vibrator deep within her, the umbral woman was still as dry as hard rations.
“I don’t understand. I’ve already surrendered to you,” Luvira whispered. “I can’t even recall the last time I deliberately acted against your orders. Why are you still doing this?” New tears ran down her face. Thron put two of his fingers together and slapped the umbral across her face. The pale winged woman recoiled, her eyes snapping wide open. It wouldn’t have hurt much, but it certainly seemed to get the point across.
“I do it because I enjoy it, heitera,” Thron replied, grabbing the woman by her face again and handling her like a doll. “Do you not enjoy this?” He pushed his fingers against the umbral’s quim and drove the toy deep into her. “Do you not enjoy this game of ours? Do you not enjoy being treated like a toy? Answer honestly.”
“Please stop, Master,” Luvira whispered between heavy breaths. “It hurts.”
“I asked you a question, Luvira.”
The priestess stared up at Thron, her eyes wide and her lips trembling. Behind those eyes, he could practically feel her mind whirling to try to come up with an adequate response. At long last, the woman opened her lips.
“I hate this,” Luvira whispered. “I hate all of this!”
Thron smiled. “And that is the point. The rabble might be satisfied with breaking your body and raping you until nothing but terror and self preservation remains, but that is not true conquest. That is simply crushing a heitera until nothing of their essence remains. That isn’t true surrender. It’s nothing but the careless manipulations of the rabble and the kind of thing I would not even contemplate dirtying my hands with. But I doubt that you understand, and so I shall explain through example and analogy.”
“You’re good with your words. How about you tell me about your All-Mother. Tell me what would happen if she fell into my hands.” Thron grinned as the umbral’s face turned into an expression of horror. “Go on then, tell me.” Luvira went silent for a long time.
“You’ll have to excuse me, Master, but the All-Mother is a goddess. You may be leagues ahead of us in terms of technology, but that is nothing compared to true divinity,” the priestess said, choosing her words carefully.
“Naturally. Divinity is above mortality, that much is obvious,” Thron said, “but you umbrals are far from the only ones with a goddess, Luvira.”
“That’s – of course, Master,” Luvira lowered her eyes. “I have heard of the faiths of the other captives as well, Master.”
“Yes, I would imagine that you would. To every single species that we shall capture, there is a goddess to go with them. Another daughter of Kan’lun.” Thron turned towards Luvira. The umbral’s confusion was visible even through her pain and her forced sexual violation. “Have you heard of her, Luvira?”
“I – I have not, Master,” Luvira whispered, lips trembling. “I’m afraid I have not heard many Kthid speak of their faith.”
“Of course not. Faith in our creator has waned much in these past centuries. It is only natural, I suppose. In the ascendancy of our empire, we have stepped closer to Shau’lun in might and power. We have become more like him, and so many have taken that as a chance to blaspheme.” Thron tsked, shaking his head sadly. “Just because we are an infinitesimal fraction closer to our creator, many among us think to see ourselves as Shau’lun’s equal. Such arrogance.”
“But I do suppose we are discussing your goddess, Luvira. Your All-Mother,” Thron said. “I imagine that she would be the most beautiful of the umbrals. Even more beautiful than you.” Thron smirked. “Her curves and her breasts would probably be the very images of perfection, shapely and enticing to the extreme. Her body would be a pristine garden, waiting to be subjugated and perfected through torment and rapine. Her face would be a perfect image, made all the more beautiful once it is curled in anguish. I can already imagine how she would look with her body laid low, her holes gaping and oozing with cum.” Thron turned his eyes back on Luvira. “Go on then, heitera. Tell me. How do you see the first night going when we drag this All-Mother to our ship, her body covered in chains?”
“I – Master, if I may,” Luvira started, “the All-Mother is a spiritual being, a…sentient cosmic force. To think of her as an individual with a body and a fixed appearance is – ” The umbral’s words halted as Thron raised his hand to silence her.
“If she created your kind, then this All-Mother would be a heitera. That, however, is all that she will be. Do not mistake your place or the place of your deity, heitera,” Thron said. “She shall belong to Shau’lun, of course. All of the goddesses are to be given over to his harem. That doesn’t mean that we shall not be allowed to revel in the comforts of her body. How do you think we would make use of her, Luvira?”
“I – I’m not sure I can offer any opinions, Master,” Luvira whispered quickly. “I’m afraid there’s not much space in my theology for this.”
“Luvira, if you want to know what kind of behavior warrants punishment from me, your actions right now would be a prime candidate,” Thron growled, causing the priestess to draw in a sharp breath. “If you don’t give me an adequate answer, you shall be spending the next few weeks in the barracks, being used as communal property by the rabble whilst you formulate a proper sermon about how your goddess could best be used when she’s made into a casteless cumdump.” The pale shade the heitera’s face took on was simply delectable. “I’ll also find three of the youngest living umbral slaves on this ship and ensure that they join you in your punishment.”
Thron chuckled as Luvira became all but petrified. “Go on then. The All-Mother is brought back to the ship. What happens?”
Luvira seemed to struggle with herself for a long time. At last, she opened her mouth. “You’ll rape her to start with.” Thron snorted.
“Of course not, don’t be ridiculous. Do you think this ship is run by savages?” he demanded. “We’ll gather up all of the umbral slaves we have and make them watch as we parade their precious goddess around the ship, naked and in chains.” The noble smirked as she watched new tears fall from Luvira’s eyes. Her theology would probably tell her that what he was describing couldn’t happen, but Thron was ecstatic that the priestess had seen enough by now to imagine the scene all the same. “It shall be an exhibition for goddess and common umbrals alike. For this All-Mother, she shall be made to see what her precious creations were subject to. For you and the other umbrals, you shall be shown that even the greatest among you can’t help but fall under the yoke of the true rulers of this universe.”
“Only then will it be time to rape her. Go on then, Luvira. I know you can imagine the scene now. Tell me which ones of her holes shall be raped first?”
Tears streamed down the priestess’s cheeks now. “Her face, Master.”
Thron clicked his tongue. “Just because that was what happened to you? You really are so self-centered. No, her womb will be raped first, in front of as many umbrals as we can fit around her, and broadcast to all the umbrals we can’t. They shall be made to see their goddess’s womb defiled by kthid seed.”
“Of course, Master,” Luvira whispered, averting her gaze. Thron reached forwards and grabbed her face, forcing her to look at him.
“Her ass shall be next. With her womb defiled, she shall be made to make use of her other hole. It would be appropriately poetic, I think. Whatever use that hole may have had prior, its primary role will now be as a repository for excess cum,” Thron said, looking down at Luvira. He hardened as he imagined a more perfected version of his heitera, radiant and with soaring wings, as she was chained to the ground and raped in front of millions of eyes. “Her mouth would be next. She shall be made to clean up all of the excess filth. Whatever inspirational words those lips may have once spoken, they are nothing more than another hole to be fucked now,” he said. “Do you know what would happen next?”
“I – you’d take her back to your chambers so you may violate her again?” Luvira asked softly.
“If we captured a goddess, there would be riots if she was not made to satisfy the cock of every single kthid. The orgy shall probably last for years!” Thron smirked. “Those waiting would, no doubt, get bored and probably push themselves on the rest of you winged whores. The entire ship would turn into an orgy, no different from the day when your world finally fell. Finally one with all of her worshippers, your goddess will be turned into yet another winged cocksleeve. She’ll be lost in the hull of this ship as yet another toy to her natural superiors and predators.” Thron smirked, looking deep into those teary eyes. “Go on, Luvira. Say it. Tell me that your goddess will be made into a casteless cocksleeve, and a winged cumdump.”
“I — yes, Master,” Luvira whispered, tears running down her face. “I – my goddess will be made into a cocksleeve and a cumdump for the casteless.” Thron had to use all of his willpower to not burst out laughing.
“You don’t sound very convinced, Luvira,” he said.
“I – I — I don’t know what to say, Master!” Luvira sobbed, her entire body trembling. The woman looked simultaneously terrified, utterly appalled, and furious. “You can’t expect me to sound convincing when saying this!”
“Of course not,” Thron sniffed dismissively. “How, after all, would you manage to summon conviction to throw behind words which you do not believe? Such a task would surely be impossible.” Thron smiled. Luvira stared at him with an expression that mixed confusion and fear. It was delicious. “The thing I love about you the most, Luvira, is that your heart resists me even now. Your heart and the faith that you shut away inside of it resists me.”
Thron shrugged. “I do suppose I can beat and torture you until you are a gibbering wreck, but then I didn’t truly subjugate you. I simply pummeled you into dust.” Thron sighed. “That is not true conquest. True conquest is when I manage to reach deep within you and change you. To conquer you down to the very last shred of your being.” He smiled. “We’ll have decades together yet, Luvira. Decades where we will be able to see the seeds of my labor bear fruit. Decades where I’ll slowly reach into your heart and mold it into a shape that better suits a heitera like you.”
The umbral looked up at him, terror in her eyes. Her body still trembled from being forced to hold that uncomfortable position with legs and elbows spread, but she didn’t even seem to notice anymore. Thron drank up every single moment of it, all the while feeling very pleased at being able to squeeze this horrified reaction out of a slave of eight years.
“Now that I’ve dealt with Seeker, I’ll have much more time to dedicate to you and Tehou. I’ll be able to spend as much time as I want molding you into the perfect shape before I force the final surrender out of you,” Thron said. “By the time I’m done, there won’t be a single shred left of your faith. By the time my work is finished, when you call your All-Mother a worthless whore, who would just be used as another womb if she existed, you will mean every word of it.”
Thron leaned in close, so close that he could feel his heitera’s sharp breaths on his face. “You were always going to see what would become of your goddess and all of the other umbrals in time, Luvira. Now that your All-Mother’s garden has fallen, the souls of the umbrals belong to Shau’lun.” Thron narrowed his eyes. “I have heard you whispering to the other umbrals, Luvira. I have heard the comforts you promised them. I have heard what you swear will be waiting for them on the other side.”
Luvira’s eyes practically trembled as she looked up at Thron. “Do not worry, my heitera. You are absolutely right. You will get to see your goddess again in time,” Thron said, “when you join her in eternal damnation.”
Thron leaned back and let his heitera stew in those words. Far too many kthid, especially the younger ones, really were too preoccupied with how quickly they could break a slave. It seemed like such a waste to Thron. Why not take the time to enjoy the process of taking one of Kan’lun’s granddaughters and twisting her into the perfect slave she was always meant to be?
After all, Thron would have all of eternity to enjoy the results.
A good twenty minutes passed before the wide doors swung open. Two sets of footsteps entered, one thundering and the other faint. From the fact that he wasn’t greeted, Thron could already guess who the new visitors were.
“Brother! Welcome!” Thron laughed, looking over his shoulder. With Thron’s new body, Voerash was somewhat shorter than him whilst being wider and bulkier. Voerash always looked so delightfully distinctive, with deep scars running all over his body like tattoos. Only one of his original eyes remained in his face, the other having been replaced with a glassy black aperture ringed by a blue light. Despite the circumstances of their meeting, Voerash had still fully dressed himself in plated armor.
Voerash’s llorian heitera, Slayer, tottered along behind him like the obedient pet that she was. Many chains draped over her body, joining her collar, her wrists, her nipple and clit piercings, and the metal rings adorning her tail. Voerash’s favorite heitera moved carefully, her chains not making a single sound despite the speed she was moving at. Thron appreciated the beauty of the woman alongside how quietly and demurely she held herself beside her owner. One would hardly be able to imagine that this was the same woman who was often the centerpiece of Voerash’s game.
Voerash planted his feet, looking around. “Where is Gronak?” he demanded.
“I would guess that he was on his way,” Thron responded. “That, or he has simply found something else to do.”
Voerash cursed, striding forwards and dropping himself down on the long couch. His one remaining fleshy eye showed enough anger for his entire face. Slayer followed her master, dropping to a kneel next to Voerash’s feet. Voerash, for his part, continued to fume quietly.
“Honestly, elder brother, there is no need for this anger, is there?” Thron asked. “What would the officers think if they saw you in this state?”
“They’re not listening, Thron; I don’t care what they would think!” Voerash snapped, his normally poised demeanor nowhere to be found. “And where is Gronak? I specifically ordered him to arrive early!”
“He probably took the last few meetings as indicative of this vessel’s typical pace and decided to adjust his schedule around the presumption that you’d keep us waiting,” Thron chuckled. “When he is working on a project, he really doesn’t want to be disturbed.”
“How is that different from any other science caste I have on board?” Voerash demanded. “Does he think that just because he has a few commendations and a few awards to his name that he’s allowed to buck orders and do whatever he wants? Whilst he is on my ship, he follows my orders and my schedule!”
Thron sighed. “Elder Brother, will you really lose your temper over a few lost minutes? Is there really something so pressing that you need him to arrive early for what is meant to just be a relaxing conversation?”
“The relaxing conversation is no longer possible because he’s late!” Voerash snapped. “Might as well cancel this stupid meeting!”
“And do what, elder brother?” Thron asked, carefully observing the older kthid. “Sit in your room and seethe? Sulk on your command chair? Brother Gronak does important and vital work. You understand that as well as I do. If he simply decides that he would rather spend time with his work than with us, shouldn’t we support him in his endeavors?”
“He’s been working on his stupid pet project for thirty years now, and we still haven’t seen any results!” Voerash shouted. “He keeps telling us that he’s making more and more progress, but what does he have to show for it? A heitera that continues to taint our dynasty’s legacy in the eyes of the public? He was supposed to deliver the next breakthrough in powered armor years ago!”
Voerash grabbed a fruit from a nearby basket, crushing it to pulp with one bite. “And what has he managed to create, except electrical sensors that are still outranged by two hundred year old acoustic imaging technology? ”
“Elder brother, anger is fruitless. I suspect it would fail to even improve your mood,” Thron said. “Just let him continue with his projects. You clearly believe in him; you wouldn’t have given him Villera otherwise.”
“And what if I did?” Voerash demanded. “That was six years ago now, Thron. Don’t you think that things change? Maybe I believed in him back then and my faith has never been rewarded, and so I have grown tired of tolerating his nonsense! Did you never once consider that?”
“Of course I did, elder brother, but I know you more than well enough to know that this isn’t really about Gronak,” Thron said. “It’s not overly productive to take this out on him.”
Voerash growled. “What in damnation do you mean?”
“Exactly what I said, brother,” Thron said. “I understand why you are angry at Sarcand, but – ”
“This has nothing to do with Sarcand!” Voerash roared, hurling the half-eaten fruit in his hand across the chamber, striking the large corvid art on the wall and splattering juices all over it. Thron sighed, really hoping the acidic tang of the fruit wouldn’t end up destroying the priceless piece of art. “The next time you bring that name before me, it had best be to report that he’s dead!”
”That is impossible, elder brother. Considering how the invasion is arranged, I expect we will have to hear his name a lot more often in the future,” Thron said, his eyes narrowing as he watched Voerash’s expression turn even more sour. “I know this situation is far from desirable. The upstart will, in fact, probably cause the invasion to go awry. It is almost inevitabile. After all, Sarcand simply lacks the mental acumen that is born from true lineage.”
“Then explain why the council allowed him to lead the charge!” Voerash demanded, his roar echoing through the room. Thron shrugged.
To call the situation less than ideal was a gross understatement. Sarcand, a huntmaster without a lineage and one who had insulted Thron’s own dynasty more than once, had managed to gain the illustrious position of harvestmaster. Seeing an upstart without a bloodline ascending to the position was certainly a bitter and offensive proposition. That didn’t mean that Thron thought his elder brother’s rage was helping matters though.
“It is all just a show, brother, nothing more. The rabble needs to keep believing that they have the chance to rise to our position, after all.” Thron pointed towards the fruit, and Luvira moved immediately to clean it up with the vibrator still buzzing inside of her. “For all of his achievements, he simply lacks the natural disposition of a ruler. He will no more be able to rise to the position of Sunbreaker than Luvira over here could,” Thron said, admiring the curves of his heitera’s posterior as she bent over the low table to retrieve the fruit. “He may be able to get closer to the status of true leadership than Luvira or Slayer could, but his position in the cosmic hierarchy was fixed from the moment of his birth.”
“He’s leading the invasion, Thron! He is closer to the position of Sunbreaker than I am!” Voerash howled, slamming his fist into the lounging chair. “He is leading a hunt to subjugate a starfaring prey civilization!”
“A civilization that, as you so vividly displayed, is filled with weak and feeble creatures,” Thron noted.
“You damned fool! I said that because I absolutely could not be seen, in public, endorsing that two-faced worm!” Voerash snarled. “The terrans, for all their weakness, have built an interplanetary civilization! Uncle Varkash managed to make Sunbreaker by subjugating just the umbrals, and they lacked even the ability to make it off of their birth world! These terrans are considered worthy prey, and the leader of the invasion will no doubt be made Sunbreaker! That unclean casteless-spawn will steal my birthright, Thron!”
“No he will not,” Thron said calmly. “As you said at the symposium, we are subjugating a race of weaklings. A victor over such inconsequential prey will hardly deserve a position as lofty as a seat amongst the Sunbreakers.”
“Thron, are you even listening to me?” Voerash demanded. “That’s not the truth! If the attestation given by the acquired slaves was actually accurate, then this civilization is an enemy that would legitimize the ascension!”
“The truth is what we say it is, elder brother,” Thron said. “We are nobility. In our veins flows the right to rule the universe. Shau’lun’s light guides us.”
Voerash rolled his one good eye, muttering darkly. Unfortunately, Thron’s brother had never pledged himself to Shau’lun. “That’s ridiculous, Thron! Do you think we can get all of the warriors across the ships to lie about what they see that the terrans have achieved?” Voerash demanded. “How do you suggest we achieve such a ludicrous task? This will be the largest harvest we’ve participated in since the subjugation of the falirans, and what if these terrans prove to have more mettle than their pacifistic ways imply? You speak as if they have magnificent science but lack warriors to guard their borders, liable to fold like the alicians once did. What if their technological prowess speaks of a strength the upstart has not discovered?”
“I don’t think it does,” Thron smiled. “The information I forced out of the terran slaves I purchased very much suggests otherwise.”
“You purchased a slave?” Voerash asked. “You, Thron?”
Thron shrugged. “I arranged to have some notable slaves purchased from Father to satisfy my interests and curiosity. According to them, there’s not much for us to concern ourselves over,” he said, looking up as the gates opened.
The new arrival was scrawnier and lankier than Thron and Voerash, with eyes sunken deep into his saurian face and wearing a plain blue cloak that covered his more thinly built body. He held a crate by his side, his bony paw curled around the handle.
Thron continued. “The terrans are no threat, elder brother, I assure you. At most, they will kill a few dozen million of our troops. Hardly something to lose sleep over.”
“You can’t just go around buying slaves, Thron! What’s wrong with you!” Voerash demanded. “What would the people say if it got out that my second in command was buying a slave like some common artist or science caste weakling?”
Gronak rolled his eyes, picking up a crystal bottle from the side table, pulling off the stopper and gulping down the pale brown liquid.
Thron chuckled and turned his attention back to the huntmaster. “Elder brother, surely you understand that they are as vital to the beauty and might of our Empire as you and I are.”
Voerash snorted. “You see, this is precisely why upstarts like Sarcand are gaining power!” he growled. “How can you think that the peons will respect us and our legacy if they see a Kaarvaak that needs to go around buying heitera?”
“I don’t know why it matters to you whether or not you captured your heitera,” Gronak said, walking forwards with the bottle in hand. The newcomer pulled his cloak off of his shoulder. “Wouldn’t it be better to get the best heitera possible? If you didn’t manage to capture a heitera and some other warrior managed to entrap a better one, why wouldn’t it be better to pay for the superior option?”
“Gronak, when in damnation did you get here?” Voerash snarled. “You’re late!”
“I would be on time if I could video-call you,” Gronak responded flatly. The scientist turned towards a statue nearby, a faliran queen on her knees in supplication, and held out his mantle. With a swift motion, he cast the blue cloak across the room. The large sheet of fabric ballooned out before smacking against the statue, wrapping around it like a net. The little stunt set Voerash’s eye twitching.
“On the topic of capturing a heitera rather than buying her, Gronak, things are not that simple. A warrior must hunt for his quarry and his heitera, and engineers like me are expected to do the same. To lower yourself to taking a heitera that another warrior or engineer captured is a condemnation of your own skill and capabilities.” Thron turned to Voerash. “It’s why even though I purchased those human slaves, I didn’t make them my heitera.” Voerash looked somewhat relieved by that, but Gronak looked confused.
“I don’t see why. I have a limited number of heitera and I want my spawn to be born off the strongest and smartest ones I can possibly afford. It is logical to select the best womb to use to bear my child,” the scientist said.
“It is also far more entertaining and satisfying to break a strong and willful slave,” Thron argued. “There are also rules, and following those rules is the way we demonstrate our respectability.”
“Thron, will you shut up for a moment!” Voerash demanded, snapping his head to the smallest of the three nobles. “Gronak, when your huntmaster calls you to meet him on schedule, you arrive an hour early and, by damnation, you’ll wait for him!”
Gronak turned to Thron and pointed his finger at Voerash. “Why is he so angry?”
Thron shrugged. “Sarcand.”
“Oh,” Gronak said. “Makes sense.”
“What do you mean, Gronak!” Voerash roared, “Is this a joke to the two of you? Is this funny?”
“Elder brother, please do calm down. This isn’t a joke to either of us,” Thron said. “So, younger brother, are your projects going well? Are there any breakthroughs lately?”
“We’d be making more breakthroughs if you’d join my team, Thron,” Gronak said. “The engineering team I’ve had to work with has been rather disappointing.”
“Hardly, brother. They are very talented and accomplished, I can assure you of that much,” Thron said. “They are simply uncomfortable with suddenly having a new leader. Please do not worry; their discomfort will pass and they will serve you as well as any team you might have been able to find back in Maldoror.”
“So no new developments then,” Voerash snorted. “Disappointing.”
“I didn’t say I didn’t have any breakthroughs,” Gronak replied. “I just said we weren’t making many of them. It’s hard to help that. The team’s been incredibly uncooperative. It’s irritating. I’ve also been distracted by the project that Thron wanted me to deal with. With two things to do, you should be glad I got anything done at all.”
“What is this nonsense?” Voerash demanded, voice irate yet careful. “Have you two been going behind my back again?”
“We were watching your back, elder brother,” Thron said, glancing at Gronak and then turning his eyes back to Voerash. “There is neither need nor cause for anger.”
“How am I supposed to not get angry if you two idiots run around doing things without telling me?” Voerash demanded.
“You are hardly the only one dissatisfied with the state of affairs, elder brother,” Thron said. “Sarcand has been, after all, a constant thorn in our collective sides ever since the debacle with Princess Thia. It was why Gronak and I, along with our allies on other ships, have been assembling our own plans regarding the Sarcand Problem.”
Voerash went silent for a long while, picking at the fabric of the couch with a talon. After consideration, the huntmaster reared up and looked at his heitera and Thron’s umbral. “Get out, both of you,” Voerash growled. “I wish to talk to my brothers privately.”
The llorian woman bowed and shuffled backwards before rising and departing. Luvira, still busy disassembling the fruit in front of her for Thron, stopped what she was doing and set the half-empty shell down next to the small pile of seeds she had picked out. The pregnant umbral shuffled over to Thron and laid the plate in front of him before bowing and rising, heading for the door as well. Thron smiled as he watched her leave, her gait unsteady from the vibrator still humming away inside of her. The device had a battery that should last for hours, and he wanted to see whether or not his latest gadget would stand up to his demanding specifications.
“Are you two planning that?” Voerash asked.
“There really is no need to be cryptic, elder brother. All of the security staff has been thoroughly vetted, admitting only those that are completely loyal to our dynasty,” Thron said, turning towards Gronak. “And I do recall you having made some modification to the officer’s wing security systems as well, little brother.”
“I’ve had all of the cameras in the palace removed,” Gronak said. “There’s nothing recording anything we say in here.”
Thron smiled. “Don’t worry, elder brother. You can feel free to speak your mind.” Voerash nodded, his temper seemingly replaced with caution.
“Your plans. I assume they involve — murdering Sarcand?” Voerash asked, tone careful and measured for the first time since he’d entered the room.
“It involves removing a persistent cancer that has been slowly growing and damaging both our reputation and our standing in the eyes of the people,” Thron said. “It’s a good cause, no?”
“He’s the harvestmaster!” Voerash growled. Thron chuckled.
“It was why we had to be so careful with our planning. After all, we needed to make sure we knew who our allies and our opponents were in this matter,” Thron said, gesturing to Gronak. “Of course, little brother has also been contributing his own talents to our endeavor.” Voerash shifted, sitting up and leaning over with his back perched on the seat.
“What do you two have in mind?” he asked, turning towards Thron. “You said something about truth being whatever we want it to be. Are you planning to mount a propaganda campaign, to try to show the fleet how unworthy Sarcand is for the position of harvestmaster?” Thron smirked.
“No, brother,” Thron said. “Such attacks would be obvious, and Sarcand has weathered condemnation from powers higher than we. Instead, I suggest that you make a show of allying with him. Extend your hand, and demonstrate to the fleet that you wish to put aside your differences and work together for the good of the Empire.” Voerash stopped, rolling the thought about in his mind.
“If your plan is to get me close to him so that I can stab him in the back, I don’t think that would work,” Voerash said. “Even before our confrontation back in Maldoror, Sarcand knew that he and I would never get along. I can work at trying to placate him for the next three decades, and I doubt he’ll let me get close enough to make any betrayal truly hurt.”
“Befriending him isn’t necessary, elder brother,” Thron said, glancing over at Gronak as the youngest of the three began chugging the liquor in the crystal bottle. “Simply making a show of befriending him will be enough.”
Voerash furrowed his brow. “Explain.”
“Sarcand will mistrust you no matter what,” Thron said, smiling, “but just by reaching out to him you are establishing to neutral parties that you are extending the possibility of mutual cooperation. If Sarcand accepts, then you’ll be in a better position to humiliate him during this campaign whilst claiming glory for yourself. If he rejects you, which he probably will, then he will be seen as the one sowing petty discord amongst the fleet. Plenty of people dislike Sarcand already. We simply need to first give them an excuse to truly hate him.”
“I think I see your point,” Voerash said, “but it’s not going to look good if I start trying to make peace after what I said about him and his terrans. I’ll confuse a lot of people when it comes to where I stand.”
Thron laughed. “Confusion is precisely the point, brother! The point isn’t to create a cohesive narrative, but to sow discord and doubt.” Thron smiled, tapping his snout.
“How will that help?” Voerash demanded.
“We may not be able to discredit Sarcand with propaganda, but propaganda has other uses. Like, for example, manufacturing deniability.” Thron smiled. “When we kill Sarcand, there’ll be far more deniability if people can say that you had put your differences aside and supported him as the harvestmaster.”
“So we want to go straight for the plan of killing Sarcand?” Voerash asked. “Would it not be safer if we just humiliated him instead?”
It was clear, both from what he knew of his brother and the gleam of eagerness in his one living eye, that no one wanted this more than Voerash did. Now that the topic was becoming a serious consideration rather than a way to vent, Voerash was becoming more measured. More cautious. Thron smiled. “We could do that, and I did consider going for measures less extreme than assassination.” Thron admitted. “But Gronak has convinced me of the wisdom of pursuing more direct and drastic means.”
“We can’t leave things to chance,” Gronak said. “Lots of people like Sarcand. If the terrans do well, then that’ll make him look better when we win the war. We can’t have that.” Gronak narrowed his eyes, setting the now empty bottle of liquor on the central table. “He has too much support. We need to forget about trying to make him look bad. We need to get rid of him. He can’t become a Sunbreaker if he dies.”
“Precisely. It is better that we excise this problem so we don’t have to deal with this in the future, don’t you think?” Thron smiled, his smile deepening as he saw Voerash matching his wide mouthed grin.
“So, do you have an idea of how you want to kill him?” Voerash asked. “Do you have some saboteurs that you want to send aboard his ship or assassins that can snuff him out?”
“Those possibilities have been considered and discarded,” Thron said, “mostly for the rather simple reason that there is a venue where Sarcand will be more vulnerable, and where our assasination efforts will be least likely to be subject to counterattacks. In fact, I plan to use the very first front line battle against the terrans as the trap to put an end to Sarcand’s meddlesome existence.”
“You want to stage an assasination during a battle?” Voerash asked.
“It is another decision that I need to credit to Gronak. Battlefields can be a rather chaotic place.” Thron smirked, leaning backwards. “With the fog of war up, it is hard to see what is happening.”
“Turritopian shielding is giving me a lot of interesting data,” Gronak said. “I found a way to blank communication systems completely. I’ve also reverse engineered umbral fission tech and constructed some miniaturized atomic bombs. Our allies said they can help us mask our missiles with human signatures once we extract the radio signals they use to guide their own missiles. If we fire our miniature nukes at Sarcand’s position, it will be like human missiles just appeared out of nowhere and burned their way through his shield and armor.”
“If that doesn’t work, I’ve also gotten word out to the others who may be loyal to our cause,” Thron finished. “They are devising their own ways of disposing of Sarcand and ensuring that there could be no clear way of attributing fault to them or us, one way or another.” Thron smiled. “To Sarcand, this may be his moment of triumph, but he will not be making his way out of this war alive.”
Voerash went silent for a while, and then he began to grin, the smile deepening until his toothy fangs showed like a whole row of daggers. “I didn’t realize you two had been doing so much for me behind my back,” Voerash chuckled. “To think that such an extensive plan to remove the upstart is already in place.”
Thron smiled, opening his hands. “Whilst breaking a heitera and capturing slaves for breeding might be rather individualistic, rulership has always been a team sport. It has always been the duty of we, the rightful rulers, to stand together,” he said. “Sarcand is an aberration, and I do not deny that he has sufficient skill and low cunning to have made it as far as he has. Nevertheless, we can’t allow our civilization to be corrupted by him. Sarcand must be brought to heel.”
“Sarcand has rebelled against the Sunbreakers again and again just to make himself more popular and more powerful,” Gronak said. “He fractures and divides the Empire. He can’t be allowed to stay alive.”
Voerash’s grin reached its peak. He looked like a predator getting ready to pounce. “I like this. I like this very much.”
Thron nodded. “Ideally, the terrans won’t put up much of a fight. Sarcand will forever be remembered as the harvestmaster who lost his life to a race of simpering pacifists. His name will be tarnished, his slight against the Sunbreakers forgotten, and Princess Thia can be reclaimed by the Sunbreakers and delivered to someone more deserving of her,” Thron said. “If the terrans do put up a fight, he shall be seen as a martyr and a symbol to the peons of what they can achieve if they have the ambition. We simply need to temper the story and the reporting with a warning about how his hubris led to his downfall, and we shall have a wonderful narrative for our dynasty to utilize whilst we wash our hands of Sarcand forever.”
Voerash began to chuckle, his laughter slowly growing and growing until it was a cacophony. The huntmaster spun his head towards Thron.
“So when do we properly start working on this plan?”
“Everything is already in the works. I’ll ensure that our allies are where they need to be, and Gronak will make sure that the technical details of our plan are properly handled,” Thron said. “Return to your generals and lead them, elder brother. They will need your leadership and your tactical acumen in this greatest of hours.”
“Wonderful! Absolutely wonderful! This calls for a celebration, I think!” Voerash declared. “I will go fuck Slayer until she can’t stand up straight, and then arrange some games for all of the high officers to watch!”
“I’ll go back to the hangar then,” Gronak said, rising. “I have stuff to do.”
“Yes, go do that, Gronak!” Voerash said, apparently having completely forgotten his anger at the youngest of the three.
“Like I said, elder brother: do not concern yourself about this. Turn your eyes to the battlefield and your mind to the matters of the grand legion you shall lead!” Thron turned aside, his smile deepening. “And leave the upstart to me.”