NSC – The Endless Night – Chapter 8 – Private Talks

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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The light was painful. Selara wasn’t quite incapacitated by the brightness, but it still stung at her eyes. She fought off the instinct to curl up into a ball and veil her face with her wings, holding herself in a straight-backed stand despite the pain.

She could see Master Avraks through her squinted eyes, the monster lounging on a couch with a bottle in hand. He was naked, of course, with his cock jutting upwards like a torturer’s knife. His breakfast had been arrayed around him, composed of heaps of aromatic grain, sizzling cuts of meat, a plate of fried arane eggs, and a tray full of freshly cooked pastries.  From what Selara had seen over the years, it wasn’t out of the ordinary.  In some ways, Master Avraks’s tastes were disciplined and subdued, but apparently food was an indulgence.

Selara’s meal was there as well. Gray nutrient blocks, blander than even the worst rations she’d had as a soldier. They didn’t taste bad and did fulfill their role of maintaining a body healthy enough to sustain kthid spawn, but years of eating nothing else had made Selara despise the taste.

“Hungry, Cave Worm?” Master Avraks asked suddenly, startling Selara. The sudden jolt set the tiny bells clattering.

“N – no, Master Avraks,” she whispered, cringing against the sound. What wouldn’t she give to be back with her friends right now.

“Good. You will be allowed to feed once I have been properly satisfied,” Master Avraks said, lowering a slab of meat into his toothy maw. His movements were languid and unhurried, chewing slowly whilst he continued to ogle Selara’s body. She grimaced.

Today was one of Master Avraks’s days off. From what Selara gathered from her friends, the kthid worked on a three-day week with shifts that had half the ship sleeping at any given time. The reptiles were not particularly interested in informing their slaves about what they did, but they apparently left most of her friends locked away while they went off to entertain their sadistic whims.

 Not Master Avraks. Whether he was going to some party, taking part in a hunt, or even attending a formal juncture, he would invariably drag her along. It was guaranteed. At least once every three days, Selara would have to spend a full day indulging whatever struck her master’s fancy.

Selara was in bondage, as was typical. Ropes coiled around her, hobbling her already-crimped body even further. They were heaviest behind her back, twisting her arms back at an unnatural angle and forcing her forearms up against each other. Her hands were forcefully clasped behind her back like some kind of obscene prayer. A blunt hook reached down from the ceiling, nuzzled into her ass. It had been lowered enough that Selara’s feet barely touched the ground, forcing her to put almost all her weight either on the rope or the balls of her feet.

The restraints seemed to have two intentions. Firstly, they turned her arms into shackles for her wings. They also forcefully presented her chest to Master Avraks in an even more pointed manner. In between the room’s temperature, turned down from its usual muggy condition, and the puffiness of the nipples that always accompanied the time around and after Selara’s pregnancies, the state of her breasts was almost a torture in and of itself.

Master Avraks licked his fingers, his eyes flickering towards her. “Now then, Cave Worm, do you know what I have in mind for you today?”

“I don’t know, Master Avraks.”

“That is the least satisfying answer imaginable.” Master Avraks chuckled. “Go on, take a guess.”

Selara gritted her teeth, tensing. “You’ll — make use of me?”

Master Avraks snorted. “That’s obvious! Hardly worth mentioning.” Selara flinched.

“Yes, Master Avraks. Forgive this stupid Cave Worm,” she said, trying her best to keep her emotions from surfacing.

“Surely that brain of yours can do a little better than that,” Master Avraks said, leaning forwards. 

Selara couldn’t help the tension in her body. At any moment the monster might decide to drop his crudely urbane veil and show himself for the brutish, barbaric monster he was. His curved claws, sharp fangs, and scaled monster of a cock were constant reminders of the violence he was capable of.

The sharp claws twisted around Selara’s breasts, hanging for a moment like an executioner’s blade before they finally made contact with her skin. Selara gasped and trembled as Master Avraks rotated his paw to cup her breast from below. His countless scales brushed against her strained mammary, leaving thin scores on the skin.

Eight pregnancies. Over the period of as many years, Selara had been forced to bear her master’s spawn. Her beasts had swollen further during each ordeal, filling up with milk that had been meant to nourish an umbral child. Master Avraks’s hand squeezed her breast slowly, sending a shiver through Selara’s bound frame. It might have been pleasure beneath a different light, but it was so tainted by its source that it left Selara feeling she had been dragged through sewage.

Master Avraks adjusted his hands, digging his claws in without any warning and squeezing hard. Selara squealed in pain, her eyes watering and those hateful bells violently chiming from her uncontrollable shudders. The cruel reptile watched her carefully, the subtlest smile visible at the corners of his mouth. The turgid cock twitched between his legs, apparently enjoying the show just as much.

Little droplets of milk oozed from her pierced nipples, rolling down the breast’s underside and then over the tones of her trembling belly. Master Avraks prodded and jabbed his talons at her nipples, tormenting her puffy areolas with his touch. Selara’s breath grew increasingly short and sharp, the warm tears flowing down her cheeks joining her leaking tits in wetting her skin.

What felt like an hour passed before Master Avraks finally relented, pulling his hand away and brushing his finger against her skin to collect her milk. The kthid raised his talon to his mouth, licking the fluids off his digit.

“Your milk isn’t as sweet as it used to be, Cave Worm,” Master Avraks said thoughtfully. “Perhaps I should change what I’m feeding you.”

Selara winced. Her body felt filthy. The kthid leaned back on his couch, stuffing another chunk of meat in his mouth. He licked his lips and fingers before looking back towards Selara. His talons reached between her legs. The umbral woman could do nothing but wince as he forced his scaled fingers between her legs and up her dry slit.

Master Avraks didn’t force his fingers up inside of her, however. He didn’t force her legs open and pushed himself on her either. Instead, he leaned back and smirked. Selara found her breath catching in her throat. What was he planning? What in damnation was he planning?

“Master Avraks?” Selara said. “May I ask what your plans for today are?”

Master Avraks chuckled. “What good will it do for me to tell you, Cave Worm? You just need to do as you are instructed to and you won’t face punishment. It’s really quite simple.”

Selara thinned her lips. “Of course, Master Avraks. My apologies.”

Master Avraks smirked and went back to his breakfast. The scent of the food made Selara’s stomach growl, but she forced herself not to think about it. She just kept her eyes forward, as she had been ordered, and tried to dissociate herself from her hunger as her master feasted.

Master Avrak’s room was large, apparently as befitted a warrior of his rank. It wasn’t densely furnished, but war trophies still lined the walls, plundered from worlds and slaves that were likely now long-since dead. Selara’s sword hung there among the display, the curved edge of the blade kept gleaming even after all these years.

Barely a day passed that Selara didn’t think about taking that sword in her hand and plunging it into Master Avraks’s chest..

Master Avraks was careful, though. Selara had found out, rather painfully, that the sword was both secured to the wall by an electromagnet and an alarm system. The consequences of learning that fact might not be on Selara’s body anymore, but it had permanently scarred her mind. Although Master Avraks treated her as a harmless toy, it was clear he knew otherwise. She had been waiting years for him to drop his guard, but he showed no sign of doing that, always watching her out of the corner of his eye. She never really doubted what she would do if she had the opportunity, however.

Not until these last few days at the very least.

Kill Master Avraks and as many of the monsters as she could, then kill herself before she could be caught and executed. As grander fantasies of revenge had faded, that modest goal had always remained. Now…while her friends were still alive and still needed her help, could she do something like that? Master Avraks’s trophy, once her mother’s sword, continued to gleam from its display. It offered her no answers to her questions.

It took a good part of an hour for Master Avrks to finish. By the end, Selara’s legs were falling asleep beneath her. She almost looked forward to Master Avraks finally deciding to have his way with her, so at least she might be allowed to kneel.

The kthid did no such thing, however. Instead, he picked up a clear glass from the table and filled it with liquor, pouring out the light blue liquid. He rose up as he finished, leaning in towards Selara. Even stretched out and on the balls of her feet like she was, Master Avraks was still taller than her.

“About my plans, Cave Worm. After discovering something rather interesting, I’ve decided to give you a very special treat, just for today.” He paused for a moment. “I thought we might watch a very special film together.”

The blood drained from Selara’s face. It took actual effort to turn her eyes to Master Avraks. The monster was looking at her with an expression of unveiled mirth.

“Is there a problem, Cave Worm?” he asked. “You seem so incredibly tense all of a sudden.”

“Master Avraks, I don’t understand what I did to offend you but I didn’t mean to!” Selara whispered quickly, her entire body trembling. She needed to breathe. She forced herself to breathe. The instinctive terror coiled inside her gut like a painful knot. “Please, not the screen room! Just please, tell me what I need to do. Whatever you like, I’ll do it to the best of my abilities!” she whispered, gritting her teeth. “Just please don’t put me in that – ”

The slap struck Selara without warning. She reeled, every bell on her body ringing. It all hit her like a physical force, the metal sound landing on her sensitive ears like a shower of whipstrikes. Her vision swam. She raised her head as she struggled to keep her feet beneath her, her eyes teary.

Master Avraks’s face didn’t look any warmer than usual. Wasn’t he angry? What did he want then? Did he just wake up today and want to torture her? Selara groaned. That wouldn’t be out of character for these monsters at all, would it?

Master Avraks grabbed Selara around her throat, pulling her up. “Honestly, Cave Worm, after eight years under my enlightened guidance, you should know better than to try to bargain,” he said. “I own you, albino savage, and you will do whatever I command. Unless, of course, you would like to tell me that you have been keeping some hidden talent in reserve as a bargaining chip.” Master Avraks leaned in close. “Have you been doing that, Cave Worm?” Selara shook her head.

“Of course not, Master Avraks,” she whispered.

Master Avraks squeezed her face, those slitted eyes staring straight into hers. Selara could feel her heart pounding in her chest; could hear it like a drum. Master Avraks let go of her without warning, leaving her to scramble to catch herself. The swarm of noises attacked her head once again.

“I thought that after eight years of training, you would know better than to talk back to me.” Master Avraks said, “Perhaps I should hire some trainers for you, after all. A few weeks among the casteless should help improve your disposition.”

Selara lowered her head. “Please, Master Avraks. Please have mercy.”

There was a long silence. Selara didn’t dare look up. She just kept her eyes pointed downwards and tried to take as subservient and compliant of a posture as she could while waiting for the verdict.

Instead of more words, she heard a snicker that quickly became a laugh. Selara’s face was forced up by the cruel hand, the motion making her look into Master Avrak’s gleeful face.

“I was simply going to show you a video that amused me, and you thought you were being punished?” Master Avraks jeered, rolling Selara’s face in his hand. Selara felt her face flush with blood. “You certainly are getting more paranoid, worm! By the time we’re done harvesting the terrans, will you be jumping at your own shadow? Would you cower away from arane?”

It took a long time for Master Avraks’s laughter to die down. His paw snatched for Selara’s breast, giving her mound a rough squeeze before moving to her nipples. His touch was vicious, clutching and twisting her breast like it was a rag. Selara writhed as Master Avraks wrung yet more screams from her mouth and more sounds from the bells.

Milk spurted from Selara’s breast, some running warm lines down her body while more sprayed up in thin streams. Master Avraks put a glass up around her nipple and kept abusing her tits, squeezing and kneading as he milked her like livestock. The kthid kept at it until the spray slowed to a trickle. Selara’s entire body trembled as hot fluid was forced out of her puffy nipple.

Master Avraks simply stepped away as he finished, leaving Selara teary-eyed and gasping for air. The kthid admired the glass for a moment before raising it to his maw and drinking, finishing what he’d harvested over long, painful minutes in a matter of seconds.

“Your milk, at least, is of exquisite quality,” he said. “Such a shame that you yourself are merely decent.”

“Of course, Master Avraks,” Selara said, fighting to keep the mix of venom and humiliation out of her voice.

Master Avraks recovered his tablet from the couch and began tapping at the screen. Selara tensed. Her owner had forced her to tell him about every friend, colleague and war comrade she’d ever known. He made a point to tell her the fate of every last one of them, showing Selara depravity and agony that made her own pale in comparison.

What had happened? Did one of her old team members die from the abuse or from being forced to birth an endless string of loathsome monsters? Did one get thrown to the casteless? Something even worse than that? Selara braced for whatever scene would greet her as Master Avraks turned the tablet around.

It took a while for her to actually understand what was happening. Light that was visible to kthid eyes wouldn’t necessarily be visible to hers, leaving the whole screen looking discolored and incomplete. It seemed to show a nondescript room of some sort with the feminine forms of slaves kneeling and sitting on the ground.

Selara’s blood ran cold as the realization struck her. The umbral woman in the image sat with her wings folded against her back in an awkward position: a position no umbral would willingly choose to adopt for any length of time. That was her! Selara quickly picked out the rest of her friends around the room. Anisa and Nareen sitting beside each other, holding each other’s hands for comfort, and Sena sitting off to the side. How? How did her master find this?

Master Avraks snatched her face with his paw, forcing her to face him, burning eyes locking with hers. “You see, Cave Worm, I was wondering why you didn’t scream nearly as much when I used you anymore. Imagine my shock when I found out that you had been going out for walks.” Master Avraks’s intense gaze stayed locked with Selara’s, but he chuckled. Selara trembled as his paw locked around her thigh. The reptilian crushed her limb in his grasp.

“Your legs certainly do feel nice,” Master Avraks said, leaning in so close that his fangs threatened to rake across her skin. “Surely this must be why you decided to wander around rather than spend time perfecting your makeup skills to make your pale self a little more usable. You’ve taken on the role of being a good little toy with such initiative. What a pleasant surprise.”

“Thank you for your compliments, Master Avraks,” Selara responded stiffly, trying to keep her fear hidden. Master Avraks chuckled again.

“You should be thankful, Cave Worm. I shouldn’t be complimenting you at all for achieving the bare minimum. In fact, I should be punishing you for taking this long to meet my expectations,” Master Avraks sneered. “But it’s pleasant to see you improving nevertheless. I think this new drive you’ve been displaying should be rewarded. Don’t you agree, Cave Worm?”

Selara gritted her teeth. “There’s really no need, Master Avraks. As you have said, this is the bare minimum.” It was unlikely that she would be able to dissuade Master Avraks from punishing her for what he seemed to think of as a slight. She needed to try anyway, to protect her sanity if nothing else.

“Surely you didn’t think you’d be able to hide something from me, did you?” Master Avraks asked, watching her face carefully.  “Now then…” the monster grabbed her by her milked breast, pulling her closer to him using her battered tit. “You are going to tell me what it is you’ve been doing with all those other slaves.”

 “Or,” he growled, “we will be going out to find some umbrals to motivate you.”

Selara trembled, her lips fluttering, “I was just meeting with the other heitera, Master Avraks.” Selara whispered softly. Master Avraks rolled his eyes.

“You don’t think I’ll be fooled by something like that, do you?” he demanded. “Tell me what this is really about, Selara, or we might spend today in the screen room with some of my friends.” The kthid grinned, showing off his monstrous teeth. “So many of them are excited to be able to play with you again after so long, after all.”

“I’m not lying, Master Avraks,” Selara managed, fighting back her urge to scream. To lash out. “I’ve just gotten to know a few of the other heitera and I started talking to them.”

Master Avraks leaned in. “Why?”

Selara thinned her lips. Her mind raced. This was an answer she desperately wanted to properly think through, but it was clear she wasn’t getting the chance. Master Avraks was looking right at her, clearly growing increasingly impatient.

“It makes me feel better, Master Avraks,” Selara whispered softly. Master Avraks remained silent for a while, clearly expecting more.

“And?” he demanded.

Selara swallowed. “That was all, Master Avraks.”

The kthid stared straight at her, his reptilian glare drilling into her eyes, dissecting her like a surgeon’s knife. Her heart pounded hard in her chest as she waited out the agonizing silence.

“How long have you been doing this, then?” Master Avraks demanded. Selara swallowed. Sixteen. Selara had counted out every last one. The next one was supposed to be tomorrow.

“We’ve met a dozen times or so, Master Avraks. I’m not sure exactly,” she said, trying to keep that expression of very real fear as a mask over her less compliant emotions.

“That doesn’t answer my question, Cave Worm.”

 “We’ve been meeting every three days, Master Avraks.”

Master Avraks thought for a moment. “So nearly twenty days then,” the kthid said, rolling his head back. 

He rolled Selara’s breast idly in his hand as he sank into deep contemplation. Selara so wanted to pry open Master Avraks’s head to see what horrible thoughts were racing through his mind, or simply to leave him to bleed out. Master Avraks sat down on the couch, his eyes still distant.

Without warning, the monster grabbed hold of Selara’s yet-unmolested breast. She squeaked in pain as Master Avraks dug in his talons like he wanted to pierce her with new holes. The reptile didn’t stop at just that, pinching down on the nipples and tugging hard. The squeaks quickly turned to screams as Master Avraks pulled on her breast until it looked like a formless slab of flattered flesh.

The kthid’s cruel hand let go of her just as quickly. He grabbed the ropes around Selara’s breast like a handle and hefted her up, pulling her off her feet and reaching between her legs to pull the anal hook out of her. Selara didn’t even have time to gasp in relief as she felt something hotter, and somehow even wider, pressing against her entrance.

Selara’s eyes went wide as pain burned up through her body. Her sphincter was spread at agonizing speed, the hot rod impaling her innards like a tool of execution. The scales came a moment later, scraping over the already overstretched hole and sending pain shooting up Selara’s spine.

Master Avraks’s face remained almost instructable. Selara could see a note of sadistic mirth in his eyes, but nothing more. Did he just bring this up to terrorize her? Or was this some kind of hidden warning? Would he and the other reptiles follow Selara to the next meeting so they could menace their group?

Selara winced as Master Avraks finally bottomed out within her, the too-long shaft so far up her body that it felt like any movement would wrench her organs out of place. The pain of being speared by her master’s monstrous shaft was so great that Selara could barely even hear the bells ringing. She looked into the sadistic lizard’s cruel eyes through a sheen of shimmering tears, biting her lip.

“What do you want from me, Master Avraks?”

“Isn’t it obvious, Cave Worm?” Master Avraks growled. “I’m educating you. It’s your fault that your dull brain makes learning so difficult. It is pointless to try to hide things from me. Wherever you are, eyes will always be watching. You can’t keep a secret from the ship you hide it in.”

Master Avraks grabbed hold of her mostly unmolested breast and opened his maw, not even giving Selara a moment to brace herself before his massive jaws clamped down hard on the mound. Selara squealed in pain as the jaw crushed down on her tit like a hydraulic press. The sharp fangs pressed into the sensitive skin of her bust, only adding to Selara’s pain.

Milk continued to pour from Selara’s nipple in spurts, disgorging straight into Master Avraks’s yawning maw. The claws reached for Selara’s ass as the reptile continued to maul her bosom, grabbing her by her rump. It was like she had just been reduced to a milk dispenser with holes. Apparently having satisfactorily frightened Selara for the day, Master Avraks lifted up her body and began to work her rear to drive his cock into her with a violent rhythm.

The song, soft and mournful, flowed out from Anisa’s little enclosure. Krathan sat quietly, staring at the squid through the one-way mirror of her little aquarium. The song was about a minute long, punctuated by a few moments of silence or sobbing before Anisa started singing again.

It wasn’t any language cephalians actually spoke, at least not according to any documentation he’d been able to find on the subject. Krathan had initially worried that Anisa might have belonged to a small tribe of squids that had otherwise gone extinct with their language, but the ship that captured them belonged to Sunbreaker Orgranath’s dynasty. It would be unthinkable that such a vital piece of information would have been neglected by the warriors of their vessels.

Krathan honestly wasn’t sure what to do. He watched the cephalian’s expression shift alongside the dancing patterns of her skin, moving from the impassioned notes of her song to quiet, desperate sobs. It somehow felt wrong to interrupt her, but should he just leave her like this? She was clearly in pain.

Anisa yelped as Krathan knocked sharply on the top of the aquarium, waiting for a few moments before opening the lid. The lights in the aquarium quickly turned off and the ones around the room came on, reversing the effect of the one-way mirror.

“My – my lord?” Anisa asked cautiously. Her eyes went wide as Krathan looked over the edge of the lid, putting his arm into the pod.

The cephalian didn’t need any instructions. She moved towards him hesitantly, her hands and tentacles trembling noticeably as she wrapped her long appendages onto his limb. Her suckers fastened to him and she clung on tight as Krathan lifted her out of her tank, motioning her to sit on the roof of her little aquatic enclosure.

“I’m finished now. I’ve also made sure to clear the schedule ahead of the day,” Krathan said. “Today is a break day for me.”

Anisa bowed her head. “I have made sure to inform myself, my lord, so that I may serve you better,” she said, looking at him. She wasn’t smiling, but she did look eager. “What are my orders now, Lord Krathan? Should I put myself to use upon your shaft? Is there a hole you wish to plunge into?”

Krathan gently traced his finger over the inside of Anisa’s thigh, earning a gasp from the squid. “Maybe later,” he said, picking the squid up. Anisa’s limbs coiled around his arms, securing her to him as he crossed the room to where he had left the construction project he’d started earlier this morning.

Now that it had been assembled, the climbing tree had easily become the biggest object in his entire chamber. The material was synthesized from a special lightweight compound that perfectly mirrored the tactile properties of raw wood while also providing maximum transparency. It had been the very first result Krathan had found when looking up print designs for cephalian toys, and it had been perfect.

Anisa’s eyes quickly flickered up towards him as Krathan slowly pushed her off his arm and onto one of the many protruding branches. Her tentacles coiled around the limbs of the artificial tree, the little squid sitting up straight on her perch. Krathan smiled with satisfaction, pulling back the hand he’d had ready to catch the girl if she fell.

“My lord?” Anisa whispered, wiping away her tears with her hand. “What is this?”

“This is a tree,” Krathan said. “Your kind likes climbing trees. Now climb the tree and be happy.”

Anisa looked at Krathan like he’d just grown a second head. “I – I do not think I understand, my lord.”

Right. She didn’t remember, did she? “Cephalians are semi-arboreal, adapted to living in trees. In nature, you’re meant to be using tentacles to climb trees to find food as well as to enter and exit your nests,” Krathan explained, barely stopping for a breath. The encyclopedia entities on cephalians had been all but memorized. “The environment Grakrash has been keeping you in isn’t allowing you to use your body properly. It’s the same with your siphons. Those parts of your body show signs of extensive atrophy.”

Anisa’s expression was blank as she looked between herself and the tree she was perched on. “I don’t understand, my lord,” she said. “I am so very sorry.”

“It’s fine, it’s not your fault. Your brain probably isn’t equipped for this kind of information.” Krathan sighed.

Anisa blinked. “So what would you have of me, my lord?”

“Climb the tree. I want you to start using your muscles and tentacles properly again,” Krathan said. “A lack of proper exercise can lead to poor physical and mental health. As your vet, I expect that you need to do this to make sure your body is at least functioning correctly.” Anisa nodded dutifully.

“Yes, my lord. As you command,” she said, looking hesitantly at the frame she was clinging to. 

Anisa’s tentacles unwound from the perch and began to pull her between the various branches of the frame. She moved with surprising grace. Each tentacle was solid, but they moved and shifted in an almost fluid way. Krathan stood back and watched the cephalian navigate the branches of the display tree, the patterns of her skin undulating with her effort.

A frown couldn’t help but work its way onto Krathan’s face as he watched Anisa climb around the tree. She kept stealing glances in his direction, wilting every time she saw his expression before quickly continuing to climb. On one hand, Krathan was glad to see that her motor control was still excellent and that her amnesia didn’t seem to disrupt the parts of her brain that commanded movement. On the other hand, he couldn’t help but notice that Anisa didn’t look even slightly happy.

Did he assemble the machine wrong? Krathan walked back to the table and picked up the tablet, hoping he still had the place he purchased the prints from saved somewhere. The tree was meant to be a toy. Maybe it was also supposed to have some rainbow lights or make funny sounds as the cephalian climbed or something.

Krathan had received a lot of notifications. He tapped one, opening the message, and his confusion rapidly turned to annoyance.

“Anisa, I’ll be gone for just a moment!’ Krathan shouted over his shoulder. “Stay right there; I’ll be back soon!”

The vet’s frown deepened as he heard the sound of music, his mouth finally twisting into a snarl as he caught sight of the offending individual. Ehnkath had one foot planted on a loudspeaker that was booming with a loud tune, borrowed straight from a war movie. He and his heitera were shouting a conversation at each when they both noticed Krathan, the mirucain instantly scurrying to hide around the corner. Krathan shambled  towards the artist.

Ehnkath appeared to have assembled an entirely new set of clothing for himself today. Krathan guessed “assembled”, because he couldn’t possibly conceive of an artist who would willingly craft such a design. Well, not any other artist at the very least. The ribbons had grown even more extensive, turning into massive sleeves that covered both his arms and legs in a multicolored plume. The rest of his body, meanwhile, was entirely naked, save for the swirls of body paint smeared over his scales. It even reached his phallus, the bright red paint on the organ standing out even more against Ehnkath’s green-gray scales.

“Fellow seeker, it has been much too long! What tumultuous times we find ourselves in that not even those seeking fellowship are able to pursue the company of others. Truly this is a tragedy beyond reckoning, a horror beyond that which can be captured with phrase or rhymes!” Ehnkath gasped, clutching at his chest. “But despite adversity, we have confronted and overcome! We have transcended and emerged victorious!”

“I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about,” Krathan sighed. “Look, Ehnkath. I don’t know what my brother told you, but you really don’t need to keep doing this.”

“Of that I am cognizant! I am appreciative! I am aware! What is need and necessity, after all, if not restriction with a mask, despotic coercion under a different name? One cast upon us all by the whims of Fate itself! Nay, fellow seeker. I say that it is in the unnecessary and the inane that we truly find our voices and display who we are!” Ehnkath clicked his fingers and pointed at the corner.

The mirucain, previously clutching her face like she had a headache, quickly looked up. She muttered something under her breath and fiddled with a small tool in her hand. The song changed an instant later, turning to the kind of music Krathan might have expected to hear in a sleazy lounge. The kind where all the slaves were patterned over with light-up paint and bolted to the walls. The mirucain, Krathan realized, had a different set of horns this time.

“Nevertheless, fellow seeker, I must confess that today I have not journeyed here for naught. Nay, I say! Today, I find myself a servant of obligation! A slave to Fate, a toy for the whims of necessity!” Ehnkath said. “I have found myself vexed with trouble I can’t transcend, obstacles I can’t overcome, complexities I can’t quite comprehend. Ah, such is the nature of my quest this day.”

“I really don’t think I can help you with that,” Krathan muttered. “I am a vet, not a psychiatrist.”

“Oh, my fellow! A scathing well-delivered blow! Your tongue is as sharp and swift as the blade of the Sunbreakers! To think we have already assembled such rapport where such venomous barbs could be brushed aside as cordial banter!” Ehnkath said, shuffling forwards. “Ah, my heart swells like the waxing moons! It drips like the ripest of fruits!”

“That genuinely sounds like a condition,” Krathan muttered, glancing at the mirucain again. Her hands were still clasped over her face. “Your heitera seems to have a headache. Is this a persistent issue?”

“Oh you need not concern yourself for my companion!” Ehnkath said, Gesturing to the mirucain woman. “She is simply expressing her overflowing joyousness in her own peculiar way. But you are most opportune and circumspect, Krathan the Mender. It is the matter of companions which I have come here to discuss.”

Krathan frowned. “Companions? As in, your heitera?”

“Precisely, fellow seeker! A companion! Let us not descend to using such pedestrian and banal descriptors for what can become a truly vital bond. I have come to speak of a companion! Rather, your lack of a companion,” Ehnkath said, wiggling his fingers. “Speak your mind, my amicable associate! Have you known the pleasures of the mirucain?”

Krathan sighed. “Not really. They’re a rare species.”

“Ah, and true rarity is itself such a gift, is it not? A blessing, really! To be the one to possess such a rare gem, made all the better by how unappreciated they are. There is a fierce wildness in them to be tamed, fellow seeker, that maketh for only the most markedly remarkable of prospects!” Ehnkath gasped, clutching his chest. “Why, I could scarcely speak of them but to speak of their delectable corpus! Bodies with muscles sculpted like artistic masterpieces, and yet with parts so soft that you may find no end in the joy of squeezing and molding them with your hands! And despite that mighty form, you need but brush against their arching ears to hear the sweetest of whimpers!”

Ehnkath’s mirucain flushed red from her corner, clutching her ears protectively. “If you want to sell me your slave,” Krathan said, “then I’m not interested.”

“Nay, Krathan! Fellow seekers we may be, but my Althea is a companion that I shall be taking with me to venture into the grandest of quests! I am afraid she is not for sale. I brought you these tidings, for I wish you to know of the beauty of the mirucain, O Mender, and also to have you know of a most delectable of opportunities!”

Ehnkath leaned in conspiratorially, pushing the mask on his face down like he was trying to shield his visage from prying eyes. “There is a mirucain, O fellow seeker, no less beautiful than this companion of mine and no less delectable. She is no common huntress either. Nay, I tell you! She leads a pack of huntresses, the strongest among them!”

“I found a heitera I want already,” Krathan said.

Ehnkath stared at him blankly for a very, very long time.

“Excuse me?” he asked.

“I’m buying Anisa off of Grakrash,” Krathan said.

“But – but he told me that — ” Ehnkath quickly gathered himself, clearing his throat and standing up straight. “Ah, that is blessed news, O Mender! To have found a companion to cherish and hold close when the night grows coldest.”

“If that’s a problem for you, you should check your air conditioning settings.”

“But of course, O Mender! Ah, this is a most unprecedented and unexpected turn of the winds, a most fraught formulation of fateful consequences.” Ehnkath turned around, grabbing the loudspeaker and hefting it over his shoulder. “Alas, it appears to be time for me to bow out from this stage and allow you to return to your own journey. May Fate guide you true, Krathan the Mender, and may our search for beauty guide our paths to intersect once more. 

Ehnkath turned and shuffled down the hallway with a frantic clip to his feet. His heitera wasn’t far behind him, gathering up what looked like an entire box full of tools and sprinting after the awkwardly-shambling artist. They said something to each other, but Krathan didn’t particularly care to find out what. He turned around and headed back into his room, returning to the newly constructed tree.

Anisa was still climbing over the branches. Krathan waved her back down to where he was, waiting until the little squid arrived again. He sighed.

“You don’t look any happier,” Krathan said.

Anisa wilted. “I’m sorry, my lord. I’ll try to be happier.”

“It’s fine. I’ll leave the tree up for now. You can use it for exercise when I’m not here,” Krathan said, pulling Anisa off the tree and waiting until she secured herself to his body. “Come on then. Let’s go look for something you can have fun doing.”

Thron and Gronak were late once again. Voerash didn’t find it surprising, but he absolutely found it infuriating. His mechanical eye flickered with light as the scowl worked itself over his scarred face. If there was one place a huntmaster shouldn’t have to wait on others when he demanded an audience, it would be on his own damn ship.

A recorded orchestra played in the background, blanketing the room in the lavish symphonies of the palace. The music mixed with the sounds of gagging as Voerash continued to slam his slave’s face down onto his cock in rhythm with the rushing music. 

Slayer had been hogtied like an animal for slaughter and hung from the ceiling, her body moving like a frantic pendulum as Voerash swung the entire llorian’s body to slam her face down onto his cock. The metal wires wrapped around her body like a minimalistic cage, pinning her arms to her back and her legs to her thighs. She had no ability to move, save for the shifting of her throat and the lapping of her tongue to try to more quickly bring Voerash to his climax.

The llorian was hung by neck and tail. Voerash could feel the collar press up against his cock through the slave’s throat, further enhancing his pleasure. The slave gagged and whimpered with each thrust, trying to gasp for air around his thick green shaft.

Voerash sneered at the sorry creature, crushing the llorian’s fragile fronds even further as he continued to use them for purchase in the slave’s esophageal rape. She had been fearsome once, a terror even when she had been forced to wear his chains. He could break her bones, twist her fingers, and even tear off her tails and she’d still find the strength to look at him with undisguised hatred.

Those days were long gone. The alien quickly adjusted her head to take the cock in her throat and pinched her lips tightly around the shaft to form a perfect passage for his shaft. Her eyes were constantly on his face, his pleasure more important than her next breath.

“Voerash! Brother! You certainly are enjoying yourself!” Thron laughed, the sudden intrusion into his enjoyment startling Voerash. Voerash growled as he glared at his brother.

Llorians followed in after Thron, Seeker and another one that Voerash didn’t recognize. Next to Thron’s heitera, the second llorian was so scrawny it was almost comedic. The woman had visible ribs and sunken eyes, struggling to push even the powered trolley in front of her. She was uncollared, Voerash noticed.

“You certainly took your damn time, Thron!” Voerash snapped, glaring at the new llorian. “Is that one prey for the arena games? Those ended hours ago, not that you seem to understand the concept of time!”

The uncollared llorian froze. Thron chuckled, grabbing the llorian by her hair and dragging her along with him. “Her? No, she’s just a little toy I rented out,” he chuckled. “The newts call her the cook. Have you heard of her?”

Voerash creased his brow, continuing to plow his heitera’s face. Yes. He had heard of that sniveling little creature before. “You are late again, Thron!” Voerash snapped, his talons sinking into the side of Slayer’s head. “I hope, for your sake, that this isn’t because you wasted your time picking up that creature.”

“Oh brother, do not be absurd!” Thron scoffed, dragging Seeker behind him by her leashed collar. “Come now, Seeker. There’s no need to be shy. Slayer shall not be hurting you today.”

Thron’s llorian heitera followed him into the room. Voerash briefly fought the urge to roll his eyes at the sight of the slave. Thron didn’t actually capture his heitera. He had heard that Voerash had managed to capture a llorian champion, and so he just purchased his own from a different warship.

Voerash’s cock throbbed with rushing blood and boiling cum. Slayer’s pretty purple eyes flickered and her throat squeezed as he sped up even further, the furious pace of the throatfuck causing saliva and slime to dribble down over Slayer’s chin.

Voerash tore his cock out of Slayer’s throat as he finished, hosing down her face with his seed before he slammed deep into her throat just as she was gasping for breath. The llorian’s ragged cough and throat trembles coaxed even more cum out of his shaft. He pumped the seed down the slave’s throat, poured it into her mouth, and smeared it off on her face and hair. He put the shaft up against his heitera’s tongue as he finished. Slayer, visibly fighting unconsciousness, dutifully lapped the remaining droplets of genetic load from the head of his cock.

“Where is Gronak?” Voerash demanded.

“He had stopped at the door, I’m afraid,” Thron said, selecting a fruit from a nearby bowl and biting his way to the juicy center. There were bowls and plates of food and snacks all over the lounge; the vast majority of it would go uneaten. “He shouldn’t be much longer.”

“Of course,” Voerash snorted. “I am constantly astounded by how you all keep arriving so late for appointments. If my warriors behaved like this I’d have stripped them of ranks long ago!”

“Then Shau’lun has been most wise in guiding me towards the path of the engineer.” Thron smiled, opening his hand.

“I’m still astounded you haven’t become one of those priests yet,” Voerash muttered.

Voerash reached over his slave’s back, careful to avoid the barbs of her tails, and reached between the cheeks of her ass to find the pull ring for the girthy dildo. He yanked the synthetic cock, a replica of his own with numerous blunt spikes added as enhancements, out of Slayer’s gut in one rough motion. Slayer yelped in pain as the spiked toy was dislodged, but otherwise remained quiet.

The llorian was considerably less quiet as Voerash shoved the dildo down her throat. Slayer gasped around the thick sex toy, her breath coming out increasingly ragged and strained as more and more of her throat was choked off. Her neck distended around the massive gag, with impressions of the spikes visible even through her skin. Slayer’s pained eyes flickered to him, looking up pleadingly at his face. Voerash said absolutely nothing as he drove the entire length of the dildo in the rest of the way.

Cum oozed out around the dildo, along with other fluids, as  Voerash reached for the wheeled table just to the side. His paw moved past the scalpels, wires and saws to select a needle from atop the sterile tray. It wasn’t particularly narrow and as long as Slayer’s forearm. 

Voerash looked over his shoulder as he heard the doors open again. Gronak strode in with his heitera at his side. The umbral woman didn’t wear a collar or any other bodily decoration, but Voerash recognized her quite easily. Her dangling mammaries, and how vividly she had screamed when he’d had his way with them, were rather memorable.

That was probably not a bad idea. Voerash turned back to Slayer, his slave too busy trying to recover to see that his eyes were back on her. She looked relieved. Perhaps she thought he was sufficiently distracted to forget why he’d picked up the needles. Voerash was more than happy to correct Slayer’s assumptions, and he skewered both his slave’s dangling tits through with the needles.

The umbral female tried not to look at Slayer as she pushed the transport trolley towards the center of the room. Voerash watched the slave with a silent glare as she pushed a few buttons on the trolley, undid some latches, then quickly fell into a subservient kneel as the box came open with a soft hiss.

Faint lines of condensation wafted up from the box as it split in half  and pulled open. Several metal cylinders sat within, held in place by kinetic foam. The rockets were each so small that they would easily fit in Voerash’s palm, tapered on one end and set with stabilizing fins on the other. They lacked any labels whatsoever.

“It’s a little surprise for you, elder brother.” Thron smiled. “Gronak managed to get the warheads designed and tested early.”

Voerash released a satisfied breath through his metallic teeth. “So it works then?” he asked. “They seem rather small. Did you decide to use chemical charges instead?”

“Fission. As discussed,” Gronak responded.

“It’s remarkable that nuclear warheads can be made so small,” Thron smirked. “Gronak managed something quite impressive, wouldn’t you agree? And he managed to get everything done so quickly as well.” Gronak shrugged.

“It wasn’t difficult,” he said, yawning disinterestedly. “I adapted the umbral miniature reactors and made some small adjustments to the fission rate. Much easier to build a bomb than a powerplant.” Voerash’s robotic eye caught Gronak’s heitera pulling her lip into a thin line. “It will have less energy yield per gram than hydrogen fusion, but this bomb will actually work at this size.”

“Good. Excellent,” Voerash said. “And have you tested this against the latest generation of our battle armor?”

“Against the defense fields, yes. The blast will overload and destroy the shield emitters at a range of up to two hundred meters, heating up the air to the temperature of a yellow star’s photosphere,” Gronak said.

“And this will kill the target inside?” Voerash asked firmly.

“Brother, please do not worry yourself. I read through the construction report and field test information, and ran some of my own simulations,” Thron said. “At up to around fifty meters, each warhead should have enough energy to turn the metal alloy to slag and cook whatever’s inside. That is assuming that the concussive force isn’t enough to crush his lungs and squeeze his organs out of his body.”

“Excellent,” Voerash said, reaching down into the crate. He carefully selected a rocket and turned it around in his hand, following the sheen of light as it rolled over the surface of the chrome cylinder. Voerash could almost feel the power of the weapon, hidden behind that thin skin, the power that would help him destroy his most hated adversary.

“Elder brother, whilst the weapon is unquestionably fascinating, there will be plenty of time for you to play with it later,” Thron said, glancing towards the two other llorians that weren’t hanging from the ceiling. “I shall have Seeker for as long as I wish, but I have only booked the cook for the next hour or so. Let us start with these toys first, shall we?”

Voerash grunted. He didn’t need to ask Thron to clarify, striding over to where the two orange-skinned slaves were kneeling. Seeker, he knew rather well. The llorian assassin was almost as good a fighter as Slayer was. The spicy little bitch also still had plenty of fight left in her, unlike Voerash’s own heitera. The cook, however, he was much less aware of. 

Both were appealing for different reasons. Seeker reminded him a lot of what Slayer had been like when she was still fresh. He could probably enjoy skullfucking her while she glared at him, imagining he was in the process of breaking Slayer in. The cook was interesting in her own right, however. Llorians had their world captured nearly two decades ago, leaving only the most resilient amongst their numbers alive. It had been a long, long time since Voerash had seen a living llorian that was so thin, feeble, and brittle.

Most kthid would probably have less fun with a slave like this. Voerash wasn’t like them, however. He never really minded breaking his toys.

The cook whimpered in terror as Voerash grabbed her by the hair and pulled her to her feet. He tossed her over a couch on her back and pinned her down, wrenching her legs aside to expose the two holes between them. Terror and pain were vividly expressed in the unowned llorian’s voice as Voerash tore his way into the dry cunt.

Voerash yanked the llorian up and down his cock like a doll, the scale ridges of his cock scraping past the clit. Her emaciated appearance left much to be desired, but the pained, panicked breaths and the terror in a defeated female’s eyes was something that would always sate Voerash. He drilled into the slave’s quim, delighting in how her stomach stretched around his shaft and her bony chest struggled frantically for air.

His brothers had turned to their own entertainment as well. Thron had Seeker on all fours, her back arched and her tail curled up away from Thron as he took her from behind. Gronak had his heitera on her knees in front of him, her hands squeezing her pillowing breasts around his jutting cock. The umbral’s tongue hung from her mouth, licking at the shiny cockhead.

“Thron, what is your plan then?” Voerash asked as he continued to ravage the cook. “The same as before?”

“We may wish to change our strategy slightly,” Thron said. “These new devices will provide us with far more tactical latitude than I expected us to have.”

“The missiles are far smaller than I thought they could be made,” Gronak said. “We have battle armor mountings. We can fit them to the suit without adding significantly to the suit weight.”

“If we push all of the printers and reactors, we can fabricate enough to give our warriors two warheads each before we reach the wormhole,” Thron said. He lunged forwards suddenly, forcing his heitera off-balance and causing her to stumble face-first into the ground. He dragged her back by her ass before she could recover, continuing a barrage of thrusts that now drove the llorian’s face into the carpeted floor. “With just a single battalion, we shall have a force that could turn the Death of Hope to scrap metal.”

Voerash snorted. “As entertaining as that sounds, it is useless,” he growled. “I doubt even father would be able to turn a blind eye if it came to light that we slaughtered the upstart’s entire genetic line.”

“I am simply suggesting we be safe, elder brother,” Thron chuckled. “We can call it a weapon test, and give orders to our warriors to fire into a position where the upstart Sarcand is, and we can purge him from the position of harvestmaster for good.”

“One missile should be enough to destroy the suit and its occupants,” Gronak said. “Ten will mean that there won’t be anything left of Harvestmaster Sarcand.”

Thron smiled, continuing to force his slave to eat carpet. “With the upstart disposed of, the position of huntmaster will rightfully return to you, elder brother.” Thron’s smile curved up further. “After all, is it not better to have the child of a proven bloodline guide this auspicious war instead of some no-name that rose from the ranks of the clanless?”

Voerash reached behind him and picked up a needle. Whatever relief his temporary distraction provided the unowned slave was quickly rendered irrelevant as Voerash pinched her teats and stretched them almost to tearing before lancing both through with the needle. The cook screamed, her pussy tightening around his shaft as her muscles locked up.

 There were plenty more needles on the tray. Voerash pawed for them as he continued his hammering thrusts, dropping them onto the crouch. He picked up a single needle and started looking for a new spot to stab in the spike.

“Elder brother, before I forget, I should mention that I have gathered together many who share in our grand cause,” Thron said. “Many particularly eager individuals who will be more than willing to get personally involved with the task of sending the upstart back to the Ravaged Gardens.” 

Voerash frowned. “What is this about?”

“Assassins, elder brother. Assassins scattered across many a warship. Warriors who do not mind bloodying their claws to preserve the glory of Shau’lun,” Thron said. “The dynasty guarantees that they will see no blame, naturally. Some others may suspect and question, but there will be no implicating evidence. It shall be the perfect assasination.”

Voerash’s hand stopped. He pulled the point of the needle away from the masterless llorian’s unadorned breast. “No.”

Thron actually stopped thrusting, looking at Voerash with a question. “Elder brother?” Thron asked, voice suddenly concerned.

“No. This will not do,” Voerash said, pointing the needle down. The uncollared slave screamed Thron rammed the needle into her shoulder. “I must be the one to kill Sarcand. No one else will do.”

His brothers shared a look. Both clearly had something to say, but it was Thron who opened his mouth to speak first. “Elder brother, is there any need for that?” he asked. “Not only will this make escaping implication more difficult, you are risking yourself as well. Sarcand may be an upstart, but he is a proven warrior.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Voerash said, snatching up another needle. He drove them into the llorian’s belly whilst his thrusts kept coming, barely paying attention to her screams. “He stole my legacy. I will be the one to vanquish him.”

“Warrior’s pride is not more important than results,” Gronak said flatly.

“Silence, Gronak!” Voerash snarled. “What do you know of warrior’s pride?”

“Elder brother, I must agree with Gronak here,” Thron said, thinning his lips. “You are valuable, and we all wish to support your ascent to your rightful place. I don’t understand why you would risk it all so readily.”

The cook screamed as Voerash lanced through both of her sensitive areolae. The woman’s body might have been weak and brittle, but she still had more than enough muscles to wring all the pleasure he could ever want from his cock. The newt was already bleeding quite considerably from the punctures, but Voerash wasn’t anywhere near done yet.

Voerash grabbed a new needle and turned his eyes to Thron, “Could you not understand me, brother?” Voerash demanded. “Are you telling me that you don’t understand why it must be me who handles this upstart? This thief who intends to rob me of my legacy?”

Thron went silent for a long while before sighing. He grabbed Seeker around her throat and hilted inside of her, his balls twitching as he filled her with seed. He pulled out of her a moment later, a thick stream of cum spurting out of the slave’s ass.

“I do understand, elder brother, but I can’t abide you risking yourself like that,” Thron sighed, flipping his heitera over. His cock still dripping, he rammed the shaft into the llorian’s pussy. “We are in a delicate position. We can’t afford to let personal feelings get in the way of our objectives.”

Voerash narrowed his eyes. “I must be the one to kill him. There can’t be a discussion about that.” he said, pointing his needle towards the uncollared llorian’s eye. It took a moment for her to register what was happening, and another moment for her to start whimpering and begging.

“Sarcand is a worm and a backstabber, but he is a warrior, chosen by the Sunbreakers. If the Sunbreakers made a mistake, then it falls to their scions to correct their error,” Voerash said, grabbing the llorian’s skull in his paw to hold her face still. “He thought himself above his station and tried to rise to where he does not belong. I must be the one to put him in his proper place. There can be no one else.”

The uncollared llorian’s scream was so loud it could be heard throughout the palace’s front block.

Anisa’s colors shifted and danced as Krathan rolled his thumb over the underside of her tentacles. Anisa watched him with attentive, almost fearful, eyes as she continued to feed from the bowl in her hand.

Cephalian feed was remarkably simple: a sugary jelly mixed in with various other compounds. Krathan also sprinkled on some protein powder to hopefully help build up her muscle mass a bit. Anisa ate with her fingers and cranial tentacles, picking up the small jelly cubes and popping them into her mouth. Krathan did appreciate that. Her food was no more complicated than the nutrient blocks he always fed himself with.

“How – how may I serve you, my lord?” Anisa said suddenly. “Whatever you want, as long as I can, I shall provide it to you without question! Please just give me commands, my lord!”

“The command I have right now is for you to shut up and finish your breakfast.” Krathan said sternly, his voice causing the squid to flinch.

“I – I’m so sorry for angering you, my lord,” Anisa whispered, trembling.

“I’m not angry,” Krathan grumbled, slowly moving his hands down the length of Anisa’s tentacles. “Just finish your food. We’ll find something enjoyable for you to do after this.”

“Y – yes, my lord. As you command,” Anisa whispered, looking down to her bowl. She looked strangely dissatisfied.

Krathan returned his attention to the massage. He had been worried about the task when he’d first looked up the reference documents on cephalian physiology and seen the utter labyrinth tentacles’ internal anatomy.

As it turned out, the process was remarkably simple. Roll his fingers up and down the tentacles, making sure to keep the pressure up and to avoid squeezing the tips too hard. Press his thumbs into the suckers and push into the main tentacle through them, constantly rolling the digits to make sure that all of the nerves and muscles were properly stimulated.

It was very relaxing. Physiotherapy was something he always used to do for his client’s pets. Once he got onto the Empty Night, there was just a whole plethora of necessary treatments that were far more important to administer than a massage. Krathan had nearly forgotten how much he enjoyed doing this. Feeling out an alien’s body with his fingers, seeing how they reacted, and feeling them soften to mush beneath his touch.

Anisa wasn’t very different in that regard. She occasionally gasped softly, her chest trembling expressively as he found a particularly sensitive spot on her body. Her bands of blues and whites echoed up and down her body, only adding to the effect of her display.

Krathan made a conscious choice to avoid all of the piercings, making sure to refrain from even brushing up against them. It wasn’t long until he arrived up where Anisa’s tentacle joined her torso, near what he would characterize as her thighs. Anisa moaned softly as Krathan’s fingers massaged over the base of her caudal limbs, invariably brushing past her vulva.

A few droplets of slime ended up on Krathan’s finger as he finished with the limb, picking Anisa up and rotating her entire body. He licked the little squid’s juices off his fingers before going back to massaging her. There was a subtle, almost unnoticeable, fruity sweetness to the cephalian’s secretions, almost like part of their sugar-heavy diet came out of their bodies as well.

The morning had been mostly uneventful. Krathan had tried getting Anisa to perform a few tasks and exercises he had lined up for her, but she didn’t seem to find any of them particularly enjoyable. She mostly seemed to be doing it because he expected her to.

It was frustrating. Krathan had been counting on his tree idea. Was it because he hadn’t made the tree realistic enough? If he painted it with the colors of the flora of the cephalian homeworld, would that do something to help improve Anisa’s mood a little? Krathan glanced over the massive empty nothing that made up the majority of his personal quarters. He probably could remodel a good portion of that to a habitat that better suited Anisa’s physiology.

Krathan turned Anisa to face him as he finished, taking the empty bowl from her hand and setting it to the side.

“My lord?” Anisa squeaked.


“Was –  would you want to do that again?” Anisa asked quickly, her eyes wide. Krathan frowned.

“The massage?” he asked. Anisa nodded her head eagerly. “Perhaps later. I do want to return your body to its natural state, but we’re not going to get that done in just one day. We need to slowly but constantly work on this to build up your strength.”

Anisa’s mouth hung open, but she closed it quickly. The sudden energy she displayed earlier seemed to have drained from her eyes. “I – I see, my lord.”

Krathan frowned. What was wrong now? He moved in close, prodding at Anisa’s body, looking inside her mouth and listening to her hearts through her chest. Everything did seem normal, at the very least. Krathan also made sure to check his tablet again just to be sure and beyond the persistent aches from the piercings, Anisa didn’t seem to be in pain.

The vet sat back, furrowing his brow. This really was so complicated. With the pets that had been sent his way to receive care, Krathan mainly just had to administer routine tests and treatments or to repair their injuries. The latter, in particular, barely took any consideration. Broken or dislocated bones, open wounds, or organ damage all had well-categorized treatments.

Not once in his career, now that Krathan thought about it, had he been called on to treat unhappiness in a pet. He had always assumed that the pets that arrived at his door were stressed because of the new environment and because they were being handled by a person that wasn’t their owner. Did he assume wrongly? Were the slaves that passed by his clinic always this unhappy?

Was there even a treatment for what Anisa was suffering from?

“My lord?” Anisa asked softly, breaking Krathan out of his contemplation.

“What is it?”

 “Is there anything else you would have of me, my lord?” she asked, “Is there some way I could perhaps use my body for your sake? Please just command me, my lord, and I shall obey any order.”

“I didn’t really have any orders prepared for you today,” Krathan said. It went beyond that. He hadn’t really planned much for today at all, he just made sure to clear his schedule of any patient visits and intended to spend time with Anisa. Now that he was in the moment, Krathan really did wish that he’d planned this day out more extensively.

There was a rather large selection of studies Krathan had downloaded to his workstation earlier, pertaining to the common slave species on the Empty Night. He was just about to dismiss Anisa when the thought occurred to him.

“There is something that I did want to know,” Krathan said. Anisa sat up immediately, her eyes wide and practically shimmering. “Earlier this morning, while you were in your tank, you were singing something.”

Anisa’s reaction was immediate. She froze, breathing in sharply. Her skin instantly paled to white. “I – I didn’t realize you had been listening, my lord!” the cephalian whispered frantically, shrinking away. “I’m so sorry for bothering you! I won’t do it again, my lord, I won’t! I promise! Please don’t get angry at me, my lord! Please don’t get angry at me! I didn’t mean to offend or disobey you!”

Krathan flinched slightly. It felt like he had just dropped and shattered a test tube containing a sample the lab had spent days on. Training took over quickly. Krathan cleared his throat.

“Anisa. Stop crying immediately,” Krathan commanded, his voice firm. The cephalian somehow managed to pale even further, terror in her eyes. Krathan froze. “Wait! You didn’t do anything wrong! I’m not going to punish you for anything!” he said quickly.

Tears started beading on the edges of Anisa’s eyes, but they did stop forming as his words finally reached her. “I – didn’t?”

“No, no you didn’t,” Krathan gasped, doubling over. He could feel the characteristic hunch to his back as he did. It really did seem like the smallest, most absurd things set her off. Krathan locked his law, grumbling to himself. He just had to take a liking to the most fragile, most unstable, and most brittle slave ever, didn’t he? He almost started wondering if he should have taken Grakrash’s advice to go shopping for his own cephalian. Almost.

Krathan stood up to what passed as straight by his standard, looking at Anisa. “I’m not angry, little squid. I was just curious. What are you singing about? What’s the subject of the song?”

“The – the subject, my lord?” Anisa asked, clearly confused.

“Yes, the subject. What is the song about?” Krathan asked, “Is it a story? Is it some kind of mnemonic device? Are you just singing about the things you’d want to dominate and copulate with?”

“N – no, my lord. It’s nothing like that,” Anisa whispered, her skin blanching towards white. She was visibly struggling with herself.

Krathan reached out and stroked his paw across the side of her body. Showing her touch without violence. Showing her that he wasn’t a threat. Krathan had always thought vet training involving calming an animal down seemed absurdly niche, but the Empty Night’s working environment was making him understand the wisdom of his instructors. Whether consciously or not, Anisa slightly leaned into his touch.

“It’s a prayer, my lord,” she eventually answered.

“A prayer?” Krathan asked. “So a superstition then?”

Anisa’s eyes went wide. “I – I’m sorry for bringing this up, my lord! I’ll never speak of this ever again! I swear in witness to the pnu!” Anisa whispered frantically, only slowly calming down as Krathan continued to stroke his paw over her and hush her.

“Stop panicking, little squid. I’m not going to hurt you. See?” Krathan said, raising his large paw. Anisa’s skin blanched, but she didn’t pull away. Krathan carefully cupped his paw around the side of the squid’s face and gently caressed her until the blue spots finally returned to her skin. “So this spell. What does it do?”

“I – I’m supposed to use it when there is trouble, my lord,” Anisa whispered, wilting. Her cranial tentacles coiled around his digits, clinging to him like shelter. “When there is adversity I could not confront or an obstacle that could not be overcome, I’m supposed to speak this prayer.”

“Right,” Krathan said. “Well I do hope that your god isn’t like Shau’lun.”

Anisa blinked, tilting her head. “Who is that, my lord?”

“It’s nothing. Forget I said anything,” Krathan muttered. “So were you a priestess then?”

“A – a priestess, my lord?” Anisa asked.

“A religious figure, leading ceremonies or something like that,” Krathan explained, gesturing vaguely. Honestly he never even got within earshot of a priest if he could possibly help it, never mind bothering to understand the minutiae of their beliefs.

“I – I am afraid I could not give you that answer, my lord,” Anisa whispered, shrinking away. “Please don’t be angry at me, I would give you an answer if I could!”

Krathan hushed Anisa, gently stroking at her face again. She leaned in hesitantly, glancing at the paw with visible trepidation. “What about your parents then? “Or your children?” Krathan asked. He struggled to think of Anisa as a parent, but her biological age indicated that she should have been able to bear a child long before her capture. “A close friend, maybe? A mate?”

Anisa shook her head, clinging to Krathan’s paw with her tiny hands. “Please don’t get angry at me, my lord! I’m sorry I don’t remember! I’m sorry I don’t remember!” Krathan softly shushed the little squid, stroking her face comfortingly again.

It did briefly occur to him that Anisa might be lying to him, but Krathan decided he didn’t believe that. Even if she was lying, it was strange that she refused to share anything about herself and yet she was fine with sharing this. That seemed important. It was perhaps the only thing he may ever find out about who Anisa was before she was captured.

“This prayer. You said that you’re meant to say it when you need help,” Krathan said. “What kind of help? What kind of powers does your god have?”

Anisa blinked. “My – god, my lord?”

“Yes, your god,” Krathan said. “The one you pray to.”

“Oh!” Anisa gasped. “Do you perhaps mean the pnu, my lord?”

“Pnu?” Krathan asked. The word wasn’t translated, it entered his ears unmodified from Anisa’s alien tongue. “Is that your god’s name?”

“The pnu aren’t gods, my lord. They are the great spirits that we live alongside,” Anisa said. “They are all around us, their world overlapping with ours.”

“I see,” Krathan said. Some kind of primitive animism then? He had never taken interest in the beliefs of the slave species before; hadn’t exactly bothered listening to much of what the pets had to say for themselves. “So what kind of powers do they have?”

“All kinds of powers, my lord,” Anisa said, sitting up a little straighter. “They shape the world around us. Through their touch upon everything in it, the world becomes a better place.”

“Right, so some kind of invisible guiding force with vaguely defined powers that can affect the world around them,” Krathan said.

Anisa blinked. “Th – the pnu aren’t invisible, my lord.”

Krathan frowned. “They aren’t?” 

Anisa squeaked. “They aren’t, my lord! They show themselves all the time, I’m so sorry!”

Krathan kept stroking Anisa’s back, continuing to softly hush her. “I’m not angry with you, little squid. If I’m angry then I’ll tell you.” Krathan said, “Now you said that they weren’t invisible, didn’t you? Do you remember who told you that they weren’t invisible?” Krathan continued, hoping to maybe tease at the neurons to perhaps awaken memories that Anisa might have forgotten.

“I saw them myself, my lord,” Anisa said.


“The pnu come to me all the time to offer their wisdom and guidance. They – they used to come to me all the time,” Anisa whispered, shrinking. “I must have offended them somehow! I must have done something wrong, and that’s why I’m being punished! That’s why I’ve been separated from their guidance.”

Anisa looked at Krathan, tearing up. “Please, my lord. The pnu must have put me here! They must have put me here because I wasn’t a faithful servant, and didn’t serve properly! That’s why I’m being punished!” she whispered, sobs wracking her chest. “Please, my lord! Whatever you command of me, I’ll do it! I swear I can be a good slave! I swear upon all those who watch that I can be the worthy and faithful slave that I need to be!” Anisa wept, her skin trembling with twisting colors. Her body looked like the sky during a storm, the plumes of her pigmentation surging and raging like violent thunderclouds.

“You can stop now,” Krathan said. “You don’t need to keep going.”

“Please, my lord! I’ll do whatever you command of me! I’ll take whatever you want me to take and do it all without question!” Anisa wailed, her voice cracking like glass. “I just want my punishment to end! I just want it to end! I just want everything to go back to the way it was! The way it should be!”

Anisa’s tentacles lashed around Krathan, suddenly pulling her forwards with a lurch. Krathan was actually startled for a moment. Cephalian tentacles were a lot stronger than he’d thought they were. Anisa’s tentacles clung to his legs, stomach, and sides, suckers holding on tight as she pressed her lowered head against him as if in obsequious prayer.

“Please, my lord! Just please tell me what I need to do! I didn’t mean to make the pnu abandon us all!” Anisa wailed, hot tears running down her cheeks and smearing Krathan’s chest. “I didn’t mean to ruin everything! Please, my lord! I’m just a stupid, empty-headed slut who can’t figure it out for herself! Please just tell me what to do, my lord! Please just tell me what to do!”

Krathan locked his jaw. His training came to him quickly. When an animal was distressed, what he needed was a firm and authoritative command.

“Anisa, stop crying. Stop crying right now!” Krathan said, summoning as firm of a voice as he could manage. “You will only make your mental state worse.”

Anisa kept sobbing, curling into the scales of his chest. “Anisa, hey! Listen to me!” Krathan snapped. The little squid didn’t seem to even hear him, however. She just kept clinging desperately to him, crying into his chest.

Krathan tried again and again, and yet his voice never seemed to reach Anisa. Resigning himself to the situation, Krathan just gently laid a protective hand on the back of the cephalian’s head and pulled her in close to him.

If Krathan was following proper procedure, he really needed to be much firmer with Anisa right now. Sever the contact and punish her until the undesirable behavior had been corrected.

That was just what he was meant to do to a normal slave though, wasn’t it? Anisa had distinctive characteristics and circumstances. Surely that meant he could deviate a little.

Krathan gently ran his paw down the back of Anisa’s head, feeling her cranial tentacles twisting as they tried to find purchase on his fingers. It occurred to him that this was the first time she was clinging to him like this. Not because she had been ordered to, not because she was being moved, and not because she was being fucked hard and his body was the only thing she could find purchase. She was in pain and hurting and she was clinging to him because of it.

It didn’t often feel like Krathan was making much progress with the squid, but this was unquestionably progress. It wasn’t a lot, and it had taken a lot longer and a lot more work than Krathan had anticipated, but it was progress. He continued to gently stroke Anisa’s head and back, hushing her until her garbled apologies melted into quiet sobs.

This really wasn’t how Krathan had expected to spend today, but some things couldn’t be helped. Perhaps it was foolish of him to expect everything to happen all at once. He could fix animals up in just a few hours at most, but it took him years of studying to get that good. Perhaps the same would be the case for learning how to take care of his own heitera. Krathan just settled down and said nothing else as he let Anisa cling tightly to him and cry the day away.

Next Chapter –>

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