NSC – The Endless Night – Chapter 9 – First Shot Across the Bow

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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When Krathan’s message appeared in his visor’s notification tray, asking to speak to him, Grakrash needed to do a double-take. Krathan never called him.

Grakrash sauntered down the corridor towards the hangars at the back of the ship, admiring the statues as he passed. It really was nice to work somewhere with some class. The figures he passed were such fine depictions of the feminine form that he couldn’t help but harden beneath his armor. Damn he wished he didn’t have battle duties right now.

Then again, a chance to capture and break some feisty Terran warrior was just as exciting of a prospect. The plan from harvestmaster Sarcand had been to fall upon the pacifist Terrans, crack open their space stations, cull their males and haul back their females for the feast, then to be frozen and delivered back to the sunbreakers once they returned to Maldoror.

The plan had failed. The initial spearhead has been broken and forced back through the wormhole. Huntmaster Voerash had, naturally, been elated by the developments. Grakrash was too. What red-blooded warrior wouldn’t be excited by the prospect of crossing blades with a worthy foe?  He may have been born too early to subjugate the falirans, but it seemed the universe still had plenty of worthy slaves to offer.

Now that the Terrans had shown their mettle, the harvest fleet would respond in kind. Soon the battle would begin, and this time the fleet would force their way through.

Grakrash really should be hurrying. His squadron was probably waiting for him already. Krathan’s message still sat unopened on the side of his visor’s display. Just from the sender, he had a decent idea what this was about.

“Open last message,” Grakrash said. The visor flickered in confirmation and opened it for him.

The message was a series of photographs, clearly taken within seconds of each other. It showed his heitera’s writhing body, tied down to a medical table with measuring instruments crowding her body.

Most of her body was painted with swathes of blues and whites, as was common with cephalians after several months in captivity. Between the bands of familiar colors, however, several thin bands of reds and pinks poked through.

The first photos had arrived several days ago, and Krathan had only sent Grakrash more of them. It was nothing like the vibrance the slave had displayed when he had first collared her, but it was still a step in the right direction. 

It wasn’t some edit, either. Every cephalian had a unique pattern to their colors, as distinctive as their genetics, and Anisa was, by a good margin, the most beautiful cephalian he had pleasure of fucking. Grakrash still had photos of her from before the incident with the cephalian artifact, and the thirty-hour punishment that had taken away her color. True to his expectations, Krathan had managed to reverse the course of Anisa’s illness.

Somehow, that made Grakrash deeply uncomfortable.

He hadn’t lied when he said he believed in Krathan. Still, he hadn’t expected this. Research into reversing the bluing disease was hardly uncommon, considering how much it devalued the slaves, and the consensus was rather clear. No combination of threats or torture was able to correct their colors. Once a cephalian broke, they broke. 

Grakrash was drawn out of his thoughts as he spied a man struggling with crates, his face a mask of concentration. Judging by the belt around his waist and the relatively low amount of muscle mass on his body, the man was probably either an engineer or science caste.

“Hey, you over there!” Grakrash shouted as he jogged up to the man. “Here! I’ll help you carry that!”

Grakrash was stronger than the man to begin with, and the aid the motorized armor provided him made up the rest of the difference. Grakrash asked the man for where he wanted the crates, striking up conversation as he went.

A few friendly questions told him that the man was actually an artist, and was moving his tools to a more secure area before the second assault began and the nukes started flying again. As they finished loading boxes onto the trolley, the artist turned and smiled at Grakrash.

“Thanks for the help, friend. I appreciate it.” The artist smiled. “Say, if you ever get the chance, drop by the third sculpting studio and we’ll go get something nice to eat.”

“Be careful there! I might take you up on that offer one day.” Grakrash smirked, earning a jovial laugh from the artist. “Be careful to ask for help if you need to carry something, alright? Won’t do to have a good artist like yourself getting hurt now.”

“Thanks, friend,” The artist chuckled. “Does this mean you’re familiar with my pieces?”

“Not at all!” Grakrash laughed. “But if you’re on this ship, then I know your work is great!”

The two of them exchanged some more pleasantries before Grakrash continued. The brief distraction got his mind off the cephalian, but he soon found himself thinking about her again.

Cephalians changed colors to correspond to their emotions. Blue was the color of hopeless sorrow and white was the color of terror. Once, it had been a game of trying to get a cephalian to break into those colors. That was up until everyone began to realize that they didn’t change back.

A colorful cephalian, even one that had been owned for years, was worth several times more than a member of their species that had been directly purchased from cryogenic sleep. Even if Grakrash had paid Krathan the full price for an artisanal veterinarian, he could still probably have made a not inconsiderable profit.

More than that, however, was the exotic appeal. The last colorful cephalian Grakrash had seen was Kangansverii Drax’s slaves back on his old ship. Just thinking about how excited his subordinates or his fellow officers would be to play with a slave like that already had his mind spinning. And still, the itch beneath his skin wasn’t going away.

“Attention all. The Empty Night will initiate the jump in ten minutes.” The voice of the announcer rang loud, almost making the floor beneath his feet shake. It would be heard over even the loudest and most desperate of screams. “Secure all loose items and evacuate from the bow wing. An ambush is expected.”

Already? Grakrash hurried into a jog, his tail swinging behind him as he moved. He probably wouldn’t make it in time for the jump, but he was sure that he would still arrive before the boarding skids were sealed up for launch. He was already so close to the hangars, after all.

Almost on a whim, Grakrash reached up. The interface of the visor reacted to him, forming a holographic projection of an interface with full tactile support. Grakrash reached over and tapped a button, initiating a call with Krathan.

As always, the call rang for about a minute before automatically disconnecting. It would probably have been easy for Grakrash to pretend he’d just called Krathan on a whim, or that he’d forgotten what he wanted to talk about. Grakrash couldn’t do that though, not to his little brother. He pressed a few buttons to begin recording a voice message.

“Brother! Why aren’t you picking up? You aren’t making my heitera scream too hard to hear me calling, are you?” Grakrash laughed. The laugh quickly died into a faint smile. “Look, brother, I’m not being serious in case you didn’t realize. Probably didn’t expect to get a call just before battle.”

Grakrash walked in silence for a long time. He rounded the corner and saw a pair of arane, each one of them holding a tray. The two slaves quickly froze before falling to their knees and bowing deeply as he passed.

“But yeah, I hope you’re doing okay. I hope Anisa is still a good little fucktoy. Just tell me if it doesn’t please you anymore, and I’ll make sure that she regrets it. You hear?” Grakrask asked, smirking. The little blue’s voice really was sweet when she had her bottom caned.

Grakrash strode down the corridor, coming across another patrol of three warriors, their names and ranks floating above their heads on the interface. He didn’t recognize them, but they called out his name, and he paused the recording to talk. Guests to his parties, it seemed. Grakrash laughed at their jokes and assured them that the next party was coming soon, continuing on to the hangar.

The warrior kept walking and walking. His eyes flickered over towards the cephalian’s mostly blue face again. It was better that the cephalian was broken, of course. He knew that. He knew that he needed to crush a female and force them to give him everything, without question, to make sure he got everything out of them. It was just the right thing to do.

Grakrash’s eye itched. He almost took off his helmet to scratch at his face.

“Brother, I’ve come to a decision. I will be selling Anisa to you after all,” he said. “Call me when you can. I’ll pick up the line if I’m available. We’ll discuss how much I’ll want for her.”

Selara tried to sleep. She really did. She was still curled up on the hard plastic pallet that served as her bed, unable to even bury her face into anything to try to escape the hateful light.

The ship shook, the room around Selara shaking and trembling. She winced and curled up like she was trying to tuck her face into her own stomach. The explosions were loud, but for Selara the only thing that frightened her was the prospect that this might prevent her from getting what little sleep she could.

Master Avraks wasn’t even watching her suffer. He had decided to leave her like this as he went to join the invasion force. It felt like he enjoyed even the idea of her being reduced to a miserable and pathetic wreck.

The headache clung to Selara’s mind like a stubborn tumor. The lights above her ‘bed’ were now merely painful. For the first few months after she had been enslaved, it entirely robbed her of her ability to sleep. It was only through a barrage of drugs, nanites, and Selara’s own will that she even survived through those early months.

Another impact hit the ship, causing the walls of Master Avrak’s room to ripple. The umbral woman cringed, clutching her ears as all of the bells sang out their cacophony. The noise lashed her mind like a whip.

The impacts had restarted just recently. As Master Avraks had been called to duty on the ship, the time notifications that usually sounded from Selara’s collar had been deactivated. She was far more lost now that she had been in a long time. 

The umbral woman gritted her teeth. She thought that Master Avraks’s absence would give her some time to rest and gather her energy. There was little hope for that now, with the entire metal leviathan around her ringing like a gong.

Selara wasn’t going to get any sleep here, clearly. She pushed herself off the floor and stretched as slowly as she could, taking utmost care not to set off the bells again. If she wasn’t going to get real sleep, then she might as well look for a place where she could enjoy resting a bit more.

Trying to rest out in the corridors was out of the question, of course. Beyond the usual threat of being found by one of the scaled brutes, lying in the hallways could be taken as an attempt to sabotage the efficiency of the ship. She knew that would warrant a the worst punishment she’d suffered in years

Another explosion struck, the impact nearly tearing Selara off her feet. She reflexively tried to flare her wings to stabilize herself, but that just yanked hard against the hooks and wires, and she screamed as a blast of pain hit like a white flash. Barely managing to stop herself from falling, she staggered over until she half-collapsed against the wall, carefully inching her way along the surface until she reached the button by the door.

Selara let out a sigh of relief as the door opened. Master Avraks often locked her away in his quarters. She poked her head out to check for kthid, and then made for the closest servant’s tunnel.

Sena groaned as she tried to rise. Pieces of transparent tissue that once had been her wings lay shredded on the floor around her, floating in pools of blood. She felt her collar much more prominently today. Even the ring of protective carapace around her neck provided little succor against the kthid when they violently yanked the metal band back and forth.

The faliran glanced around the room warily. The pain never truly went away, but today was worse than most. Not only had her master and his asshole friends decided to film a special shoot as a gift to the huntmaster, but the failed initial incursion had also resulted in just about everyone she knew being utterly brutalized.

All falirans were linked, of course, but the bond was always strongest between friends and family and those who knew each other well. Just about everyone Sena knew who was still alive was in the fleet when the news of the failed attack on the Terrans reached them.

That had been around fifty hours ago. Sena wasn’t aware of and didn’t particularly care for the specifics. All she knew was that some of her closest living friends and family had been utterly brutalized as the kthid took out their frustrations on their slaves. Sena felt it all as well, the pains of their torture mixing with her own.

Her master’s room was deep within the Night, though the space backdrop behind the glass screen did make it look like his room was the bridge of a science craft. It was the room Keia used to live in.

Sena had walked the real bridge through her sister’s mind, experiencing the excitement of her explorer sibling all through the tour. Each detail had been fully recreated, from the buttons too small for any kthid hands to comfortably use to the seats with open backrests so winged phenotypes could sit down.

Sena rose to her full height and then stumbled, reams of pain lashing across her body. They just had to nearly crush her legs and tear her wings to shreds, didn’t they? If it was just one of the two, then at least she had some way to get around. Instead, her master and the actors might as well have passed her entire body through a fucking industrial line.

Sena had to move slowly. A floor smeared with blood and cum made for poor footing. Each step felt like she was walking over a puddle of oil. Standing up with so little blood in her left her light-headed and dizzy, with her stomach constantly threatening to empty itself and smear her with even more of the disgusting kthid fluid.

It took agonizingly long for Sena to get even close to the edge of the room. Why didn’t she just crawl?  It was like no matter what Sena did, she just couldn’t think straight. The kthid cum, tepid and lukewarm from being left inside of her for so long, continued to ooze out of her and drip down her inner thighs. She was only a few meters away from the edge, but Sena began to slowly squat down anyway.

Another explosion struck. 

Sena cursed as her precarious balance was ripped away from her,  and she slammed face first into the hard metal floor. The shock of pain shot through her body like someone had taken a sledgehammer to her side. Sena gagged, clawing for the floor as tears clouded her eyes. She couldn’t breathe! She couldn’t bloody breathe! 

The faliran laid there for what must have been minutes, her lungs trembling and spasming. It felt like she had just inhaled boiling oil. She might have done something almost like that, considering how much her lungs still burned. It seemed she’d managed to breathe in the cum as well.

With great effort, Sena managed to force herself up on all fours. Her entire body was screaming at her, but she couldn’t listen to that right now. Sena just focussed on putting one hand in front of the other. One knee in front of another. Micromanaging each tiny detail of her crawl lest her balance was taken from her by the intermittent impacts.

Sena all but fell over as she finally reached the edge of the room, leaning her forearms and head up against the wall. More pain, this time from her side, like someone was trying to pry the chitin plates off. At least her body was off the floor now, and she could breathe a little more easily, though her lungs still felt coated in cum and phlegm.

The faliran’s belly was unarmored, and the bare skin was a canvas of black and purple, from bruises and welts. Her stomach was still visibly bloated, and the cum continued to sting like hot wax as it oozed out from her tortured holes. Sena winced as she pushed, trying to drive some of the cum out of her body. She felt like she was wringing water from a dirty rag,

She sighed, her voice coming out soft and haggard. She would rather be anywhere but here right now. Today was a meeting day again, wasn’t it? The day when she could go see those three idiots. Sena found herself slumping.

Out of the twenty five sessions when they were supposed to meet, Sena had shown up for a total of ten of them. The others probably assumed she just didn’t want to see them, but she would have shown up at every last meeting if she could. She would have shown up even if she had to spend every second of it cleaning the toes and cunts of every woman there with her tongue.

She just couldn’t. She was a slave, and her master’s will always came first. If he decided that he wanted to rape her for fun or film a torture flick, or ‘historical reenactment’ as he called it, then that’s what she’d be doing.

Sena really couldn’t bother those three with that. They were still so new to slavery under these creatures. They had enough to worry about. She couldn’t just pile her own pain and misery on top of theirs as well. Sena looked down at the smeared puddles of yellowish-white cum on the ground and sighed.

The kthid ships were all heading into a fleet battle with the Terrans. Word had come down through the hivemind from those owned by high-ranked kthid. It wasn’t going to be an easy conquest.

The Terrans had an entire operational spacefleet. It was going to be a long and brutal war, with warriors and engineers alike returning to the ships aggressive. It would fall to their heiteras to manage that aggression, mostly by being tortured until the kthid grew tired or the slaves died.

She didn’t want to be here. She didn’t know where she wanted to be, but it was not here. Moving slowly and carefully, Sena crawled towards the exit of the film set.

Nareen cringed as the earthquake struck again, shielding her head with her hands. Tears flowed down her face as the roaring sounds, like peals of thunder, continued around her. Nareen might have been her clan’s best, but even she wouldn’t have tried standing against nature. No matter how strong a matriarch was, she needed to take heed when the skies flashed and roared and water came crashing down. Those were not things that any could command.

Nareen had believed that as well, before the demons came.

Another earthquake. The world shook. Nareen felt like a kit again, nestled in the arms of the mirucain males in charge of caring for the children. When the other girls kept laughing at her for still being scared of thunder by the time her adult teeth came in, Nareen did her best to try to get rid of the fear.

She had stood outside in the next storm, her arms crossed defiantly as the rain hammered down on the savannah. Now, she just felt as lost and terrified as she had back before she managed to defy thunder. It felt like, at any moment, the ceiling of the demon warren would cave and bury Nareen alive.

The tentacles moved around her body, cradling and hugging Nareen like a protective blanket. The mirucain trembled, clinging tight to the coiling arms of the cephalian.

“Miss Nareen, are you well?” Anisa asked softly. She blanched from blue to white as the waves of sound struck. She was terrified as well.

Nareen found herself letting out a haggard sigh. “I’m alright, Anisa. I’m alright,” Nareen whispered softly, her hands shaking as she hugged Anisa close to her body. As long as Anisa was here, Nareen could always believe that was true.

“I see. I’m very pleased to hear that,” Anisa said softly, hugging Nareen carefully to avoid the sorcery-inflicted wounds. “But if there’s anything I can do at all to make you feel a little better – ”

“You already are, Anisa,” Nareen whispered. She didn’t feel brave, but she wrestled her emotions to put a brave smile up on her face. It was what she’d done for the kits when they were terrified of the thunderstorm like she had been. She’d do it now, so that her lover wouldn’t have to worry about her. “You already are.”

Anisa returned Nareen’s smile, her colors shifting away from the fearful whites and towards lighter blues. The pattern of pigments and lights constantly moved over Anisa’s body. It was like the cephalian had laid her very soul bare for all to see. Her tentacles were wrapped around Nareen’s legs, the little suckers clinging softly to her skin. Anisa’s delicate hand was in hers.

The pair of them sat in a bubble of darkness, woven by Anisa’s sorcery. Anisa explained it as something that she had always been able to do. Reprieve from the blood-red corridor lights. A little bubble of privacy. It wasn’t a true wall, and it couldn’t keep out the demons, but it was something. A place where they could be together.

The two of them hadn’t moved very far from Master Thrakur’s den. The demon may show up at any time, and Nareen didn’t dare wander too far away. She was too terrified of what he would do to risk not showing up when she was called.

Anisa sensed Nareen’s tension, nuzzling up against her. Nareen gently cupped her hand behind Anisa’s head, smiling faintly as the tentacles trailing from her head twisted around her arm like gentle hands. Cuddling with Anisa felt like cuddling with a whole group of people.

“Anisa, can I say something?”

“Of course, Miss Nareen.”

“I just wanted to say thanks. For coming for me after what I did.” Nareen turned her gaze down, looking at the faint blue lights demarcating Anisa’s face. She gently touched where she’d struck the cephalian. “It doesn’t still hurt, does it?” A soft and genuine laugh left Anisa’s lips.

“Miss Nareen, it’s been months. Of course it’s not going to hurt anymore,” Anisa said kindly, nuzzling into the mirucain. “Please don’t worry about me.”

“Of course I’m going to be worried about you, you idiot,” Nareen sighed, squeezing Anisa’s trailing tentacles. “You haven’t been throwing yourself in front of those demons again, have you?” Anisa shook her head.

“Not recently, Miss Nareen,” she said. “The masters have not made demands of me since, and I have not found any occasion to attempt to intercede.”

Nareen tensed. “That sounds like you would, if given the chance.”

Anisa went quiet, and Nareen cradled her protectively. She wanted to admonish Anisa, of course, but they had argued this a dozen times and neither of them budged. Nareen found herself sobbing. Anisa’s kindness was the thing that allowed her to crawl out of her warren and meet Selara and Sena. It was selfish to have been protected and then to hate seeing Anisa protecting other people, but she couldn’t help what she felt. What if Anisa got hurt? What if she got so hurt that even demon magic couldn’t fix her?

“Miss Nareen?” Anisa said. Nareen blinked, breaking out of the mental maze she had trapped herself in. “I shall not be going anywhere, Miss Nareen. So please do not worry yourself.”

Nareen nearly laughed. It was like Anisa could read her mind. “Alright.” Nareen smiled, gently taking Anisa by the cheeks.

Anisa’s lips were as cool and soft as the lips of any mirucain male that Nareen had ever tasted. The tentacles from Anisa’s head moved, some gently brushing her cheeks whilst others coiled around her broken horn. Nareen gasped as Anisa pulled her in, sucking at her chapped lips between the softer, sweeter pair. Anisa moved her lips back and forth like a soothing massage, her touch gentle and careful. 

Nareen couldn’t help but tear up. In all her months here beneath Master Thrakur’s heel, she’d never thought she would ever be given a chance to enjoy intimacy again.

Nareen spread Anisa’s lips, pressing her tongue into the cephalian’s little mouth. Anisa obliged, her slender tongue encircling Nareen’s and fastening to her muscle with those little suckers. Anisa kissed her back, gently and yet passionately. Her lover tasted faintly sweet, almost sugary. 

Tentacles coiled around Nareen’s legs, prying apart her muscular thighs. Nareen took hold of Anisa’s hips and squeezed, hands moving carefully over her lover’s skin. Their touch had to be careful, avoiding the wounds and piercings that ailed their bodies. Anisa’s belly pressed up against her bronzed abdomen.

Fingers probed Nareen’s mound, the touch that was so different from the rough stabs that the demons used. Anisa gently pressed into Nareen, her thin fingers parting the mirucain’s nether lips and widening the passage. The mirucain gasped as her lover gently slid in her middle finger in the same stroke that she pressed down on Nareen’s clit with her thumb.

Nareen’s hands dug powerfully into Anisa’s rump. Fingers slid between the base of her lover’s limbs, poking around until Nareen found that dripping quim. She drew a long moan from Anisa’s lips as her digit sank deep. Anisa’s hole felt like it was surrounded by rings of muscle, tugging her finger deeper like a hungry mouth.

Anisa gently stroked her finger over the soft membrane of Nareen’s insides. She moved slowly, coaxing forwards the wetness from Nareen’s slit as she dotted kisses on Nareen’s face and neck. Nareen cried out as Anisa gently nibbled at her sensitive ear, sensing quivers of pleasure surging through her body.

Back when they’d started, a lot of words had passed between them as they tried to understand each other’s exotic bodies. Now, familiarity guided their hands. Anisa’s fingers twisted and curled inside of Nareen’s gash as Nareen pulled Anisa’s slit apart, her body shivering from her ears to her toes

“Does that feel good, Miss Nareen?” Anisa asked, whispering the question into Nareen’s ear.

“Y – yes!” Nareen cried out, her voice quivering.

Nareen’s eyes went wide as she felt a third finger slip into her quim, the thin digit sliding in next to the others. The girth and depth wasn’t anywhere as extreme as Nareen has become used to, but it elicited pleasure from her like nothing had in a long time. Nareen’s movements were simpler, pushing into and spreading both of Anisa’s lower holes.

Anisa continued to nibble at Nareen’s ear, forcing even more vulnerable and fragile sounds to her lips. Nareen returned the favor by rolling her digits around inside of Anisa’s orifices, varying angle and pressure.

She wasn’t the only one with two occupied hands. Anisa’s other hand gently groped over Nareen’s upper chest until it found her nipples. The fingers danced deftly, gently rolling the stiff nub until it became as hard as stone.

Pleasure erased Nareen’s sense of time. She felt like years had passed in their private darkness, lit by Anisa’s glow, and yet Nareen still felt an irreplaceable sense of loss as Anisa withdrew from her gash. Anisa licked Nareen’s juices off her digits, panting hotly before reaching for Nareen’s breast.

Nareen cried out as Anisa began to gently roll her long tongue over the sensitive nipples. Anisa’s mouth sucked and adhered to the breast as firmly as any of her suckers. Nareen’s voice rose to a fevered pitch as her lover teased and suckled on her nipple whilst her other hand danced on Nareen’s other breast.

Her head was still spinning by the time Anisa took her hand and lips off of Nareen’s breasts. The cephalian trailed down a line of kisses across her belly, deftly avoiding any of the various injuries that still covered the mirucain’s torso. Anisa’s tentacles pulled Nareen’s legs even further open, allowing the cephalian to fit in place just in front of her mound. Anisa leaned in and kissed Nareen’s clit with a gentleness Nareen hadn’t expected to feel again in her entire life. The cephalian’s lips brushed over the clit, the feather light touch somehow managing to make Nareen clench up and forced her voice far higher than she thought it was able to go. Anisa kept gently brushing her lips across Nareen’s clit, causing little zaps of delight all over Nareen’s groin. Nareen’s eyes fluttered as she gasped for her next breath.

“Anisa, faster! Please!” she whispered. “I can’t wait anymore!”

Anisa’s gorgeous orange eyes flickered up towards Nareen, saying what a thousand words couldn’t. Anisa smiled. “Very well, Miss Nareen. I shall be starting now,” Anisa said, laying her lips up against Nareen’s quim.

Nareen cried out and her eyes rolled to the back of her head as Anisa dove straight in, pressing her soft face up against the triangle of bronzed flesh that made up her groin. The tongue pushed deep into her in one smooth stroke. Nareen grabbed her mouth to muffle the moans that were bubbling up from within her, knowing that kthid may be passing by.

Anisa’s lips pressed against her entrance as that wonderful tongue dove deeper and deeper, coiling through her insides. The tongue slid and sluiced and danced, swimming in a pool of her juices and Anisa’s saliva as they lit up Nareen’s insides like wildfire during dry season. Nareen’s quim was anything but dry, however. Her insides were so slick and wet that Nareen was almost surprised that she couldn’t hear the trickling.

Nareen surprised Anisa as she pushed her lover’s face away from her slit. Concern painted Anisa’s face, but Nareen gave her a reassuring smile before laying her lover upon the ground. She quickly mounted Anisa’s face, placing her slit over the cephalian’s beautiful face, before leaning over and kissing Anisa’s oozing slit.

With Nareen’s injuries and Anisa’s piercings, they both had to be careful, but that didn’t stop them diving in between the other’s thighs. Nareen’s own tongue wasn’t as long as Anisa’s, but she made up for it with technique and speed. She lapped and lapped, scraping the bumpy surface of her muscle over Anisa’s throbbing little clit.

The metal piercing in Anisa’s little fleshy nub, thankfully, did nothing to dull the pleasure Nareen could give to her lover. Nareen’s thighs tensed and trembled as Anisa licked her deep, the strange little appendage twisting through her insides and feeling her in places deep inside that she didn’t even realize she had.

Her legs letting go of Anisa’s head for a moment, Nareen kissed Anisa’s nipple. Anisa’s voice was soft and clear as Nareen nibbled gently at Anisa’s pierced nipple, licking at the little nub all the while. Anisa’s tentacles writhed as she moved her face all over, moaning into her quim as Nareen buried her face in the valley between Anisa’s petite breasts. It wasn’t long before Nareen moved back onto Anisa’s loins, sitting back down on her face.

“Miss Nareen,” Anisa moaned, her voice melodic until it was muffled beneath Nareen’s groin.

The deft muscle was soon within Nareen once again. The slippery little tongue wriggled back and forth, leaving Nareen’s insides hotter with every stroke. In return, Nareen focussed her attention on lavishing her own efforts on Anisa’s little slit.

Nareen pulled Anisa’s flower apart, admiring those beautiful vivid blue folds as she plunged those fingers in deep. Pleasure crawled up Nareen’s spine as Anisa pinched at Nareen’s clit, pulling it down gently as she pushed her tongue even deeper.

Anisa’s tentacles crawled, latching onto and coiling around Nareen’s breasts as they began to squeeze. They practically melted into each other as they dove deep into each other’s warmth. Anisa’s slit was even sweeter than her kiss, smelling faintly like the grasslands and flowers that Nareen had left behind upon her old world.

The strange couple continued for what felt like a blissful eternity, their voices singing their pleasure and their bodies intertwined. Anisa’s tentacles continued to massage Nareen’s breasts as her tongue continued to wring juice and pleasure from Nareen’s box. Nareen returned the pleasure with interest, tongue on the cephalian’s clit whilst her fingers pumped into her hole.

Whenever Nareen struck a particularly pleasurable vein in the cephalian’s body, her efforts were rewarded by the reverberating rumble of her lover’s moans straight into her own womanhood. Anisa’s body only felt cooler to touch as her tongue stoked at the fire of pleasure in Nareen’s belly.

The haze of pleasure seemed to burn away the pain from the wounds that covered Nareen’s body line warpaint. She whimpered and gasped, the raw carnal sensations churning inside of her body like the mightiest thunderstorms she had ever stood beneath.

“Anisa,” Nareen whispered, “I’m going to – !”

Nareen’s last words were lost as the orgasm struck. The raw sensation struck like a flash flood, sweeping away all other sensations. She buried her own face into Anisa’s womanhood to muffle her pleasure, the vibrations of her throat passing straight through Anisa’s quim as she came. It set Anisa off as well, her voice ringing through Nareen’s loins.

It was minutes before Nareen could open her eyes again. Anisa’s tongue had gone slack, clinging to the insides of her body with its little suckers. Nareen opened her bleary eyes and sat back up, looking down at Anisa between her legs. Nareen wiped the tears from her eyes and gently took her hand off Anisa’s head, looking at her blue skinned lover.

There was a demon behind Anisa.

Nareen’s blood ran cold. The demon’s head poked into the darkness, its monstrous features lit by the blue of Anisa’s glow. Anisa sensed her terror, quickly pulling out from beneath her. Her lover’s eyes went wide before she quickly gathered herself up, the bubble of darkness vanishing from around her.

“Welcome, my lord,” Anisa said.

Nareen’s throat had seized up. She couldn’t say anything. The monsters were universally large, but Master Thrakur was tiny compared to the dark-brown monstrosity in front of her. He had a large, silvery box behind him. What was that thing? Some kind of demon instrument? Some punishment now that he has discovered their tryst.

Nareen’s ears dropped as she looked at Anisa, her lover’s eyes lowered to the ground.

“Is – is there something you need of me, my lord?” Anisa asked.

The fiend reached forwards, pushing his massive paw beneath Anisa’s body and scooping her up. “There’s something we need to discuss,” the towering demon said, his booming voice causing Nareen to tremble. “I will also be going to the hangar’s medical bay later to treat any injured returning from the raid. I’ll want some entertainment.”

“Certainly, my lord. Whatever you wish of me,” Anisa said, bowing her head again as she was lifted off the ground. Anisa turned in her direction, causing the demon to do the same.

Nareen was petrified. Was the demon going to rape the both of them, one after the other? Was he going to rape Anisa and make Nareen watch? His form alone seemed to radiate a suffocating menace. He seemed less like a demon and more like a mountain of muscle, scales, and claws. He was closer in size to a great tusker than any rationally sized creature.

“Nareen,” Anisa said, “please stay safe, alright? I shall be with you again soon.”

Nareen tried to talk, but her words caught in her throat. She could only nod weakly as the demon put Anisa down onto the box, retrieving a set of horrific implements.

One was shaped like a demon’s cock, though it was longer and girthier than even Master Thrakur’s. The second was a set of spherical tools, the largest of the balls almost as large as Anisa’s balled up fist. Anisa splayed her tentacles, exposing her lower holes without any further instruction or protest. Nareen teared up. This was a torture Anisa was clearly accustomed to. The wand alone would probably already make Nareen scream, and Anisa was far more slender than Nareen was. The mirucain could do nothing, of course. There’s nothing she could –

“Wait – please wait!” Nareen shouted.

The demon looked straight at her, predatory eyes boring into hers. Every instinct screamed at her to run. To not be here anymore. Trembling, Nareen knelt down before the demon in supplication, bowing her head. 

“Please, my lord, I – I just – ” Nareen froze. What was she supposed to say?

“Make this quick. I don’t have all day,” the demon said curtly, his voice hard.

“My lord, please don’t be impatient with her,” Anisa said softly. “She means no disrespect.”

“Yes, Anisa, but this is still a waste of time. Spread your legs, we have a schedule to keep,” The demon said. Nareen’s heart clenched. He was going to take Anisa away.

“Please, my lord. Please take me with you!” Nareen whispered. She stared straight at the ground, her entire body trembling. “I – I have holes which you could enjoy and – you’ve never fucked me before have you, my lord? You’ll find me attractive and worth toying with, right? If you’re going to take Anisa away, then please take me as well!”

What was she saying? What, in the name of her countless ancestors, was she saying? The terror churning inside of her threatened to crush her heart to pulp. The demon squatted down in front of her, holding her by the chin and pulling her up. The fiend’s eyes flickered over her body.

“Good musculature, healthy skin color. Extensive injuries,” the fiend noted. “Inflicted by your master, I’m assuming?

Terror muted Nareen more effectively than any gag could. How she wished she could be anywhere else right now.

Anisa was here, though. Nareen locked her jaw. She needed to do this. If she could lighten Anisa’s pain even a little, take the demon’s attention off of her, then she needed to do it.

“Unresponsive. Damage to cognitive faculties, maybe.” The demon scowled, turning around. “Work can’t just space itself out properly, can it?”

The demon reached for something at his belt, picking two tiny pebbles out of the pouches. He reached forwards and took Nareen by her chin. “Open.”

Nareen was as confused as she was terrified, but she had no choice but to open her mouth. The demon placed the two tablets into her mouth before pulling a bottle from his belt, forcing it up against Nareen’s lips. “Now drink,” he commanded. Nareen could do nothing but obey as the two pebbles were washed into her stomach.

“At least you’re obedient,” The fiend muttered. “You can play with Anisa later. I need her right now. You’re not to exert yourself for the next half an hour until the nanites have had a chance to do their work. That’s an order,” he said, turning away.

Nareen couldn’t spare time to think about what horrific magic the pills were working in her stomach. She could only crawl after the demon as he turned his attention to Anisa, picking up the long string of spheres. One by one, he inserted it into Anisa’s sphincter. Nareen’s eyes only got wider as her lover’s ass was spread wider and wider until each orb was deep inside of her. The demon picked up the long shaft and pushed it into Anisa’s quim in one smooth motion, bulging her stomach.

“What do you want now?” the fiend demanded, glaring at Nareen. “You don’t need more analgesics. One pill is enough for your body weight.”

“Wait, my lord!” Nareen whispered. She quickly bowed over, kissing the demon’s scaly foot. “Please, my lord. Please take me with you!”

Nareen’s heart seized as she heard the demon grumble, muttering something to himself. “Why?”

Nareen’s fangs sank into her lips. “Please, my lord,” she whispered, “I – I don’t want Anisa to be alone.”

The demon sighed, looking towards Anisa. Anisa’s eyes went wide, quickly glancing between Nareen and the demon before her eyes finally settled on Nareen. Gulping nervously, Anisa leaned forwards. “I’ll be just a moment, Miss Nareen,” Anisa said. “Once Lord Krathan is finished with me, I’ll be right back with you. I promise.”

“But – but — ” Nareen’s voice faded away to nothing.

The kthid grunted, pulling the tiny box open. “You can get in now,” he commanded. Anisa nodded.

“Yes, my lord,” she whispered. She turned to Nareen one last time, offering a thin smile, before crawling into the narrow hole at the top of the box. The fiend reached up and closed the box, sealing Anisa in.

Nareen desperately wished she could do something for Anisa. She wished she could act in some way to protect the cephalian and spare her from what was going to happen next. There was nothing she could say, though. Resisting these fiends would only mean that the both of them would be made to suffer even more. The mirucain woman could only cry quietly as the monster wheeled her lover away.

Sky stumbled over the metal floor of the hovels, her thin arms wrapped around her trembling shoulders to provide some semblance of protection against the cold wind roaring past her body. The air came from the holes below her feet and was forced up into openings in the ceiling.

The air inside of the casteless hovels was cleansed periodically, pumped in on one end of the hovel and sucked out of the other. Both of the ventilators were placed outside of the hovels themselves, ensuring that the changing of the air struck with gale force. Sky’s hair whipped around her face as she staggered forwards through the cold, dry, artificial storm of the metallic hell around her.

The llorian didn’t really have it in her to even feel miserable anymore. It was more than that, though. The screams of one of her heroes still rang loud in her ears. Days later, she could still feel the flesh parting beneath the knife. Sky had no right to be miserable.

Not only was Sky useless and a coward, she was also a traitor. She hadn’t dared to meet the eyes of another llorian in over a decade, but she knew how they looked at her. She didn’t resent them for that. She deserved to be hated.

Sky’s stomach growled so loudly that she could feel it vibrate against her brittle ribcage. How long had it been since she had eaten? Days? Weeks? Before she had been called outside for the last time, that was for certain. Having to stand in front of a sizzling pan of food and being allowed to touch none of it might actually be more torturous for her than having her fingers broken.

To survive as a slave in the metal wastes was a matter of speed, strength, and fortitude. Sky had never had an abundance of any of those to begin with, and with her tail having been turned into a nearly inert lump of cauterized meat she was almost as easy pickings for the other slaves as the casted kthid themselves.

Sky poked her head around the edge of a high metal wall. She froze, breathing in sharply, as she caught sight of something. Not a kthid, thankfully, though the gray skin had her worried for a moment. Sky gulped, her bony fingers digging into her shoulders, as she began to slowly creep towards the downed figure.

She stopped in front of the unmoving body, fiddling with her fingers. A ghost. The woman was shaped like an arane and would have easily been mistaken for one, if not the patterns that covered her skin like printed circuit boards.

Signs of the countless vicious rapes still marred the ghost’s body. The woman didn’t bleed, however. The places where her skin had been torn away simply exposed the mechanisms beneath, revealing the plastic muscles and artificial tissue. The ghosts were artificial lifeforms, as far as Sky understood. AI given physical bodies so they could continue to be raped by kthid long after they had left their mortal bodies behind.

Sky’s stomach growled violently. She looked over her shoulder again, searching for watching eyes, before kneeling in front of the ghost. Of all the toys the kthid casteless had to play with, the ghosts were some of the most disposable. They weren’t edible, however. Sky, in her most desperate moments, had found that out. Their skin might look like flesh, but it was as much plastic and metal as the rest of their artificial bodies. There was something here that was edible, however. Barely.

 The ghost’s stomach was swollen, though not with child. The woman had simply been filled with cum in each and every one of her orifices until her belly bulged. Sky spread the woman’s legs, earning a groan from the gynoid. She could feel her stomach turn.

The cum had mostly dried around the entrance to the ghost’s ruined orifices, forming into a film almost reminiscent of dried snot. Kthid cum was foul at the best of times, but Sky didn’t know how long it’d be before she would be able to find anything else to eat. Despite all these years of torture and abuse and rape, she still wanted to keep living. She was still too afraid to die.

Sky carefully peeled the seal of dried cum away, leaning forwards and locking her mouth onto the woman’s slit. The cum was rank and bitter on her tongue, but Sky forced herself to swallow. The mouthful, half-dried and half-slimy, slogged down her throat like phlegm.

As far as Sky knew, the cum on the woman’s body may have been literally a day old. It didn’t matter. Sky forcefully reminded herself that it didn’t matter. At least it was nutrition. At least it would keep her going for a few more days. It would be worth it. Tearing up, Sky forced herself to remember that it would be worth it.

It began as a trickle, like a dam had been cracked open. The dam soon crumbled and the ghost’s stomach began to flatten, the cum gushing out of the slit. Sky moved as quickly as she was able, locking on her lips and forcing the fluids down her throat.

The semi-liquid filled her mouth like water pouring from a sewage outlet. Sky had to fight the gag reflex she’d thought long lost to get as much of the fluid down her throat as she could. Far too much of the genetic soup escaped her mouth, sloshing down her chin and dribbling down into the grates beneath her where it would be forever lost.

It was minutes later before the trickle finally slowed to a stop. Sky pulled her head back and gasped for air, making up for the breath she was quickly running out of in her efforts not to miss a single drop. She pulled the woman’s slit open and leaned in again.

Sky’s tongue could feel distinctive fissures inside the woman’s hole that had likely been formed after hours of merciless rape. Sky felt like her face had been used as a toilet. She didn’t feel miserable, however. At least, for the first time in days, her stomach stopped growling.

Sky looked back down between the ghost’s legs and gulped. There was still food to be had here. She leaned back in before she had the chance to fully consider what she was doing, forming her tongue into a spoon as she pulled apart the semi-dried wad of cum plugging up the woman’s ass.

Logically, what Sky was doing now was no more foul than what she had already done. The ghosts, true to their names, weren’t alive. Sky couldn’t help but shudder in disgust, however, as she drank down the seed oozing out of the six-armed woman’s intestines.

The cum in the woman’s ass seemed older than that which was in her pussy. It poured down her throat like the liquid runoff squeezed from old meat. Even with hunger pangs jabbing at her stomach, Sky still needed to force herself to keep her face pressed up against the woman’s ass. Her throat was like a sewage pipe, her stomach a septic tank.

Sky sat back as she finished, tears running down her cheeks and cum smearing her chin. She tried not to think about what she had just done.

“E – erm. So are you done?”

Sky yelped, jumping back more quickly than she thought she had the ability to. It brought her to face three casteless, an armor of green-gray scales covering their giant bodies. All three of them were armed with spears, as well as the spears between their legs. Sky could see the swell of the shafts behind their loincloths, no doubt raised by her display.

Sky fell to her knees. She couldn’t run. She couldn’t outrun kthid at the best of times, and her muscles still felt so feeble right now that she struggled to walk.

The kthid stared intently at her, cocks hard, until one of them elbowed the other. “Hey, Rehtva, why isn’t she saying anything?”

The other kthid frowned. “Might be mute. I’ve heard it happens from all the trauma.”

“Oh,” the kthid said, looking in Sky’s direction. “Can we bring her back with us?”

“No. You remember what the council said about bringing back new slaves,” the third kthid said, looking at Sky. He looked at the ghost, then back at Sky. “Well, I guess she’s done.”

Sky shrank as the kthid reached his paw towards her, and then past her. She turned, eyes wide, as the kthid picked the ghost off the floor with one hand, slinging her small body over his shoulder. The oldest of the three kthid turned towards Sky. He stared at her, his thoughts unreadable behind his predatory eyes.

It wasn’t hard to know what would come next. Casteless would use any hole they could get their paws on, but the one desire any kthid had was to breed. Sky would be raped until her pussy felt like it had been turned inside out. Until one of the horrible creatures was growing inside her once again.

A pang of hunger interrupted her thoughts. Sky knew what kthid wanted, but if she could steer their thoughts a little then perhaps she still had the chance to get a full meal as well.

“W – wait! Please, my lords!” Sky squawked, her mouth dry. The kthid turned towards her. Sky was frozen. She didn’t actually expect them to stop.

“Yes?” The kthid said. “What do you want?”

Sky drew in a sharp breath. How was she going to word this? A casteless that had a chance to breed? How would she dissuade them of the basest desire that drove their empire? She didn’t know, but she knew that she at least had to try.

“P – please, my lords,” Sky whispered, lowering her head, “I’ll pleasure you however you wish. Just – would you please finish in my mouth? Please?” Sky begged, tears streaking down her face.

The three kthid stared at her, utterly dumbfounded. They glanced between each other, seemingly sharing a conversation through body language alone.

“I’m not sure I understand,” the largest of the kthid said. “Do you know what you’re saying?”

“I’m sure she does, Gaskrit!” one of the smaller kthid said eagerly. Sky could see his erection standing up behind his thin loincloth. “What else could she mean when she says that she’ll pleasure us!”

“Look, it’s probably a translation error or something,” the oldest-looking of the group said quickly. The other two looked at him skeptically. “Listen! What’s more likely? That our translators are malfunctioning, or some woman is just offering herself to us?”

“Like Oleira?” one of the smaller kthid asked.

“No, not like her!” the largest of the three hissed. “That’s completely different.”

“How many months until it’ll be our turn?” the other smaller kthid asked.

“Please, just use me however you like,” Sky whispered, bowing her head. “Just – just please don’t hurt me. I can’t — I just can’t.”

The three kthid gathered up in a ring, muttering amongst each other. Sky sat still, trying to ignore her urge to bolt. That was foolish. Kthid were all sexual predators in the truest sense. If she forced a chase, they would tear into her like half-mad beasts.

Keep her head down and be ignored. That was the only way to survive.

Even the opportunity to run was soon quickly cut off as the kthid surrounded her, their bodies like skyscrapers. As they peeled away their loincloths to reveal their scaly cocks, Sky could only hope that whatever meager energy she managed to scrape from this wouldn’t all be lost in trying to survive the ordeal. The cocks faced her like the muzzles of a firing squad.

“So,” one of the kthid said to Sky, “you can start whenever.” The smaller kthid glanced over to the biggest one. “Hey, Gaskrit, am I doing this right?”

The oldest kthid furrowed his brow. “You’ve given handjobs and blowjobs before, right?”

Sky’s eyes widened and she looked down at the three cocks. “Y – you’re fine with handjobs?”

The kthid glanced towards each other, “Are – are you offering something else?” One of the smaller kthid asked eagerly.

“Shut up, Rehtva,” the oldest one snapped, causing Sky to flinch. He looked towards Sky, the scowl on his face quickly vanishing. “It’s probably better not to do anything else. You don’t look very strong.”

Sky nodded quickly before the kthid had the chance to change their minds. “Of – of course, my lords! Right away!” she whispered. Sky trembled. She’d never thought she would be let off so easily. She might actually get away without any broken bones or wounds, and maybe a slightly fuller stomach.

Sky’s hands shook as she reached up for the cocks on either side of her head. In her years as a rape slave, this was ironically the one thing she’d had almost no experience with. The kthid did moan, however, as she stroked her hands over their scaly shafts.

The kthid bodies were uncomfortably warm for her to touch. Sky’s eyes warily flickered over the faces of the kthid. Her former master never taught her to use her hands. He was far more interested in ‘teaching’ her to not bite, usually by making her pass out on his cock and whipping her if her fangs grazed his cock as she fainted.

The oldest of the kthid stood right in front of Sky, his cock still twitching. He seemed to be the leader of the group, from what Sky could gather. Gulping, she leaned forwards and took his cock into her mouth. The shaft tasted foul and unwashed, but Sky forced down her tremble of disgust as she began to suck. The kthid purred, taking hold of her head with his paw.

“Graksit, take your hand off her head! I can’t see her eyes!” the kthid to her left hissed.

“Shut it! How many times do you think I’ll get to do this?” the kthid in the middle asked. Sky gently stuck out her tongue, slick with filth she had sucked out of the ghost’s guts. The middle kthid still had the woman on his shoulder.

Sky drew her head back and breathed in, relieved that at least these casteless weren’t too picky. She just kept tugging at the shaft whilst the kthid in the middle pushed her head down onto his cock. Her mouth was stretched painfully wide, but Sky suffered in silence and hoped that it would be enough to sate their lusts.

Though her task was simple, Sky’s exhausted body struggled to keep the movements going. She felt like she would fall unconscious, but she forced herself to keep moving anyway. The kthid were saying something, but she didn’t have the energy to pay attention to them. Her attention was on maintaining the rhythm, and ensuring that she pleased the monsters enough that they’d leave her alone after this was done.

After the week-old cum she had been forced to stomach earlier, the warm and purely salty flavor of the kthid cock in her mouth almost bordered on tolerable. The heat of the kthid’s cock was nearly painful against her parched lips, but this was still much better than having scales raking her insides. The best Sky could hope for now was simply ‘not as bad as it could have been’.

On her knees and surrounded by kthid, Sky could only count time by the strokes of her hands. She just kept up the rhythm. She kept at her task until, at long last, one of the cocks began to twitch.

Sky pulled her head back and locked her lips over the head of the cock on her left, continuing to pump with her hand as she added the sensation of her suckling mouth to the service. The kthid came with a roar, the fountain of raw ejaculate spewing into Sky’s throat. Some made it up her nose, making it feel like she was being drowned.

Sky shoved the cock deep down in her throat to ensure she would taste as little of the foul concoction as possible. The kthid’s roar of ecstasy faded as his ejaculation slowed. Sky kept pumping the cock that had just ejaculated, milking it for the last spurts. Only when she was sure it would disgorge no more did she move back to the other two.

With just two cocks left, Sky could focus a little better. Both of her hands never left the green shafts as she alternated her lips between the two of them, sucking on the cockheads. The blanket of exhaustion, previously stalled by terror, was soon pressing down on her with force. If not for her hands, she probably risked being jabbed in her one eye or mostly empty socket each time she moved.

The cock in her right hand was beginning to twitch. Sky quickly wrapped her mouth around the head and stroked at it with her numb tongue, closing her eyes as the cock began to ejaculate. The cum filled her throat, painting her innards and washing away some of the foul fluid still coating her insides. Sky milked the cock diligently, draining it for every last drop of energy.

The last cock began to twitch. Sky’s eyes went wide and she moved as quickly as she could, desperately trying to get her mouth around it. It was too late, however. She could feel the cum surge up the shaft, arching through the air like the missiles flying towards the interceptor her people had been foolish enough to entrust her with.

Sky tried to move her mouth to catch the stream, but only a small part of it even landed on her face. Sky turned around so quickly it hurt, watching as the few calories she might have had sank down through the grate on the floor.

She didn’t have any tears left, but her eyes stung like she was crying. After everything, Sky didn’t know why it was this that seemed to hurt so much. The answer came to her. She failed as a pilot, as a soldier, and even as a rapeslave. Even as a toy to the casteless, she still fucked up.

There was a balance that needed to be upheld. Sky couldn’t afford to throw herself to kthid just to get something usable into her stomach. Being raped meant being bruised and wounded and needing energy to repair her body, and so falling unconscious meant waking up exhausted, without having regained a fraction of the energy the casteless wrung out of her.

Sky sobbed. She grabbed the soft fronds behind her heads, squeezing them like she was wringing a rag. She curled over, wailing. Unable to even care that there were still kthid around her.

The kthid stepped forwards, kneeling down next to Sky. “Hey, what happened? What’s wrong? Did one of us hurt you back there?”

“I did not hurt her!”

“Shut up, Arshak!” The kneeling kthid snapped.

“Please, my lord! Just one more chance! I won’t screw up again!” Sky whispered, “Skullfuck me please! Hurt me as much as you want!”

The kthid fell silent, staring at her. They looked towards each other, an unrecognizable expression on their faces. They turned to whisper, but Sky could still overhear their voice through the translator.

“I don’t think she’s well,” one of them muttered. “Kan’lun’s light, we shouldn’t have done that!”

“What, wasn’t some random female just offering herself to us enough of a hint?”

“Shut it, Arshak! You were right there with us!” another kthid hissed.

The two of them turned to argue, snapping at each other. Tears continued to pour down Sky’s face. Sky’s first effort at speaking came out as a haggard cough, forcing her to double over. The arguing kthid stopped, returning their attention to her. Their shadows alone were enough to make Sky tremble.

The llorian forced herself to look up anyway. “Please. You – you want to use me again, don’t you?” Sky whispered. “Please, just give me one more chance! However you want,” she sobbed. “I – I’m so hungry. Please. I – I don’t want to die! Not here, not now, please! Please — ”

Sky’s words broke into more sobs. Tears ran down her face. So she could still cry after all. The oldest of the kthid turned towards the tallest one, adjusting the ghost on his shoulder. “Hey, Arshak, give her a block.”

“What?” the tallest kthid began. “But that’s for the commune!”

“We’ll say one was missing when we arrived at the depot.”

“They’re not going to believe that! They’re going to think we stole it and ate it,” the other kthid protested. “I bet the council will make us do hard labor for days as punishment for this!”

“Then that’s what we’ll do.”

The two kthid stared at each other for a long time, the air practically crackling between them. Sky could only watch them mutely as they looked like, at any moment, they would erupt into blows.

Fortunately it didn’t come to that. The taller kthid sighed, grumbling, before pulling the sack off his back. It landed next to his feet with a loud thump and the kthid reached in, pulling out a large block that Sky recognized. Sky’s eyes widened.

She had seen kthid rations before, of course, but it had been years since she had tasted one. She didn’t have anywhere close to the energy to try to steal one from the depot. The kthid set the block down in front of Sky. They glanced at each other quickly before the oldest one cleared his throat, shuffling forwards.

“Here you go. Try not to eat it too quickly,” he said, biting his scaly lips. “Sorry,” He eventually finished, turning his back to Sky. The three kthid then turned around and walked away.

Sky sat there for long after the kthid vanished. Expecting them to come back. Expecting them to return and laugh at her before throwing her to the ground, breaking her bones and leaving her to bleed out, unable to muster the energy to heal her wounds.

They never returned. After a long, long time, Sky moved. She snatched up the nutrient block, so big in her hands that it might as well have been a brick, and sprinted for the closest stairwell she knew of. Just the run alone had her lungs feeling like they would tear themselves out of her chest.

Hiding beneath the stairs, Sky began to break little pieces off of the block and stuff them in her mouth. The sweet taste was so strong that it almost made her gag, striking her tongue with flavors she hadn’t experienced in years. Hiding away beneath the staircase and sobbing to herself, Sky ate the only real food she’d had for as long as she could remember.

Selara had to double-check the room number to make sure she was in the correct place. Sena glared at her, the spindly woman tucked into the corner of the room. Her face glowed to Selara’s eyes, a sign of blood rushing to the surface.

“What? Did you just come here to just stand there and gawk?” Sena asked, scowling.

Neither Anisa or Nareen were there. Selara sighed, crossing the room to her usual spot. She lay down, barely noticing the stains on the fabric.

“So you decided to come after all,” Selara said, turning towards Sena. “I thought you’d stop once you realized we were all idiots and were never going to take your advice.”

Sena scowled, turning away. “Mind your own business, umbral.”

Oh. Selara must have struck a nerve. “Sorry. I didn’t mean it that way,” Selara said, looking away. “So it’s just the two of us today. That’s rare.”

“Not really,” Sena glowered. “It makes sense. Anisa spends all her time with the vet now, so a battle means shit since he doesn’t get sent to the front. Nareen? Can’t explain that. Her master’s that jackass engineer, fucked if I know his name. He should be busy, so I have no idea why she isn’t here. Maybe he threw her in a cage so he’ll have a piece to fuck once his shift is over. I guess Nareen master’s not very confident in his ability to catch a slave. Hah! Can you imagine that?” Sena laughed, her voice dead of any humor.

“Do you think it’d be better if he were more confident then? For Nareen, at least?” Selara asked.

“Not saying that. If he’s confident and he doesn’t get a slave from a raid, then he’ll take it out on Nareen.” Sena sighed. “Being a heitera means you’re going to get fucked at some point. Just a matter of whether it happens early or late, is all.”

Words usually came to Selara more easily, but that might just be from how much Anisa and Nareen talked to each other. She glanced at Sena. This really was their first time together alone during these meetings, wasn’t it? 

Sena was tight-lipped about her past, but Selara had a good idea of how kthid saw falirans. They were the most formidable enemies the kthid had ever faced, far stronger than her own species, or any other non-kthid empire, for that matter. The kthid had still won. Sena never really talked about that.

“Sena, do you want to talk to me?” Selara asked. “It doesn’t matter about what. Do you just – want to talk?”

Sena stayed silent. It was hard to see at first, but Selara was getting better at noticing the subtle thermal color differences between Sena’s eyeballs and the eyelids around them. It was enough to read nuances of emotion that Selara hadn’t been able to perceive in the prickly woman before.

Sena’s posture was clear: hunched over and closed. It was the same posture Sena was always in, that or lounging on the floor and acting like she had fallen asleep, only to snidely interject whenever someone said something she found objectionable.

Selara did think she was good at reading people. Anything deeper than the surface level, however, and things got difficult. She’d seen people who acted like Sena, of course. Constantly complaining, always with something negative to say. It usually came from a military daughter following her mother’s footsteps. They were pressured to be there, so they took it out on everyone else.

“Sena, If you don’t have anything you want to talk about, do you mind if I ask you some questions?” Selara asked. “If it’s too sensitive or it’s something you don’t want to discuss, just tell me and I’ll change the subject.” Sena seemed to consider for a moment.

“Sure. It’s not like I’d beat you up if you do,” Sena said, narrowing her eyes. “Just don’t get all offended or whatever if I don’t answer.”

“Fair,” Selara said. “I – well, I assume you’re not the type to like meandering so I’ll just come right out and ask: why do you keep coming here, Sena?”

The faliran hissed. “I don’t see why any of this is your business!”

“Very well,” Selara muttered. That was – a lot more aggressive than she’d expected. 

Anisa and Nareen were easy to talk to. As long as she didn’t discuss Anisa’s master, the cephalian was chipper, pleasant, and cheerful. Nareen was upset when Anisa was upset, and she also didn’t like to talk about anything to do with kthid. She liked talking about her old life. Sena, on the other hand, got upset with no clear pattern.

“Oi, Selara!”

The umbral refocused, “Yes?”

“Why do you care so much why I keep coming back here?” Sena asked. “I show up to your stupid meeting and I keep my trap shut, isn’t that good enough?”

“Sena, you interject every single session and you’ve almost made Anisa cry several times now,” Selara sighed, closing her eyes. “Honestly, it seems like you’re trying to get thrown out.”

“Throw me out then!” Sena snapped. “Just tell me to fuck off and poof! I’ll be gone. You won’t have to see my face ever again.”

“I don’t want to throw you out, Sena. Despite my complaints, I’m actually glad you come to these meetings.” Why was the woman so hard to talk to? “I just want to know why you keep coming.”

“Why would you wonder that?”

“Because every time you come here, you seem absolutely miserable. Like you would rather be anywhere else. Like everything we do annoys you.”

“Not everything you do annoys me,” Sena said. “When you do say something that annoys me, I speak up. Not that any of you seem to appreciate that.”

“My point is, you seem to find things to complain about all the time,” Selara said. “I guess my question is what you’re actually getting out of this?”

The room fell silent. Even from this distance, Selara could see swathes across Sena’s body that had upswells of warm blood. Bruises, both beneath the carapace and across the skin, were apparent to Selara’s eyes from the way they subtly glowed in patches that didn’t seem to adhere to the rest of the pattern of the body. Sena was rather irked, if Selara was reading the woman correctly.

“You annoy me, Selara. Did you know that?”

I had no idea,” Selara replied.  “You’re so incredibly subtle about it.”

Sena snorted. “That wasn’t bad. Didn’t need to lie until I became a slave. No point in lying when everyone can read your thoughts.” Sena paused for a moment. “Why do you annoy me? You annoy me because you’re going to get yourself hurt. You’re going to get yourself, Anisa, and Nareen all hurt.”

“Yes, I believe you covered that during our very first session,” Selara said flatly.

“It’s still annoying,” Sena snipped. “Not that knowing it makes watching your bumbling any easier.”

“Probably not, but you still haven’t answered my question,” Selara said.

“You’re really annoying.”

“That’s also not an answer.”

“I thought you said I could refuse to answer if I wanted,” Sena scowled.

“If you want to refuse to answer my question, that’s fine,” Selara said, “but saying I’m annoying isn’t a refusal. It’s evasion.”

Sena rolled her eyes. And then suddenly, she started laughing. Genuinely laughing. 

Selara was dumbfounded. This was not what she expected. Had she finally gotten through to the woman? Sena looked towards her and chuckled. “You’re real annoying when you want to be; you know that, Selara?” Selara returned the smile.

“From what you’ve said to me,” she said, “my larger problem seems to be that I’m annoying when I don’t want to be. So, you going to tell me why you keep coming back?”

The faliran went silent for a long time. Selara’s first worry was that she’d said something to really offend the other woman, but then Sena just released a long sigh. “I don’t know. Well, I do, but it sounds like a stupid reason.”

“I’m not going to judge you,” Selara said. “As you’ve noted, I’m quite an expert on stupidity.”

“Hah!” Sena chuckled. “Why do I keep coming back? I guess it’s because I’m as much of an idiot as you are,” Sena said, scowling. “It’s like doing a drug. I know this is shit for me in the long run, but right now this is the best I’ve felt in a long time. And I’m addicted now. I’m fucking addicted now.” Sena sighed, rubbing her head.

“I love to hear the pretty little squid sing for us. I love it when the mirucain tells me about the hunt she’s been on. I even like it when you organize it like you’re some kind of bloody therapist. Makes me feel normal again. Like I haven’t felt in a long time.” Sena smiled. “I do love being here, and I hate that I love being here.”

“Because of what you said?” Selara asked.  “About the Kthid using it against us?”

Sena closed her eyes and nodded. “One day, this is going to go away. This thing you built? It helps. It really does. It makes us all feel better, it lets us forget our pathetic lives for a while, and it helps us get through the day. This isn’t the first group like this I’ve been to, Selara, and it might be the best.” Sena chuckled. “It might be my favorite, not counting my family. We used to talk, you know? Until they began to disappear, one by one. Until they all died off, and nothing else remained.”

Sena leaned forwards, opening her eyes. “One day, they’re going to come down here and make us suffer for this. That, or they’ll just do what they always do. Just use us up and squeeze us for every last drop until nothing’s left. And I don’t think I can live through that again.”

Selara nodded, pursing her lips. She couldn’t really lean back against the sofa with her wings bound like they were, so she just sat up straight. She kept trying to think of topics they could discuss, of course, but nothing came to mind. And so she just sat there and stared straight ahead, waiting for the battle to be over so they could both return to their miserable lives.

Fortunately for Krathan, not many of the patients needed treatment. It has been years since he had been called on to treat a kthid other than himself. He had boxes full of psychotropics, but he hadn’t found a reason to use any of it.

He hadn’t been able to connect to Grakrash yet, but Krathan wasn’t going to worry about that yet. Grakrash was probably just partying with his friends. If Krathan didn’t get a message tomorrow, then he’d start worrying.

The latest batch of patients had long-since been evacuated from the medical bay Krathan was stationed in. Most of his patients were casteless requiring nanite injections and the occasional individual requiring replacement limbs. 

It was boring. Treating people was boring. They had no interesting biological quirks, no challenging organs to operate around, and Krathan found them all depressingly unsexy. It was why he went into veterinary sciences and learned how to treat slaves instead of people.

None of that mattered right now though. Krathan had been wandering the clinic for hours and personally doing a task that, quite frankly, he could have trained an arane to do in a matter of days. He needed a break.

A few of the doctors were still milling around, most having long-since moved to a nearby lounge. Krathan wheeled the box to one of the empty medical beds, grunting as he picked it up and dropped it into place atop the mattress. He would have found a different room, but he could already see a doctor with a corvid heitera who had the woman bent over the bed with his paw clamped around her neck.

It was apparently socially acceptable to fuck and spill bodily fluids everywhere inside of a clinic, so why should Krathan hold back? Grakrash did keep insisting for him to try to assimilate into the ship’s culture, after all. Krathan might as well get started with that.

He could feel the box vibrating as he lifted it open like a treasure chest, his eyes settling on the beautiful creature inside. Anisa’s face was covered by a breathing mask that did little to muffle her moaning. The sight of her was enough to instantaneously take Krathan from just barely hard to standing so rigid he could probably hang a towel on his length.

Anisa was secured to the box, tied down by adhesive straps covering her arms, thighs, and neck. Bursts of lighter blues swirled with spirals of darker blue in a tumultuous cascade. Clamp vibrators pinched her pierced nipples, assailing Anisa with the sensation. Her pussy and ass were also loaded with their own toys, humming away inside of her.

It was amazing how cheap sex toys were to print. He really did need to print them more often. Krathan reached up and pulled the oxygen mask off of Anisa’s face, allowing him to properly hear the cephalian’s carnal song.

“Oh, my pretty little blue,” Krathan growled, his voice sounding more predatory than it ever had before, “I’m going to enjoy breeding you.”

“Master! Please, I beg of you!” Anisa screamed, her voice sweet and yet frantic. “I wish to cum! Master, please let me cum!”

“So vulgar,” Krathan smiled, tracing his claw over Anisa’s puffy pussy mound.

 An unassuming little device, much like an electrode in appearance, was draped over Anisa’s groin. She had spent hours in darkness with the vibrators going wild against and inside of her body. The device on her quim, however, interrupted the metabolic chain needed to reach an orgasm. Krathan drew the dildo out of Anisa in one single stroke.

The bulge vanished with the sound of squelching as the cephalian’s elastic stomach returned to its smooth form. The cephalian’s ecstatic voice rang out as she threw her head back…before she froze and confusion entered her eyes. Anisa whimpered, looking around. Her eyes were half-mad.

“Anisa, can you understand me?” Krathan asked.

“My lord, please! My body, I don’t know what’s wrong with my body!” Anisa whispered, her orange eyes wide. “What’s happening to my body?”

Krathan slipped his talon into the anal beads’ pull-ring. Anisa’s voice rose to a feverish pitch as he began to pull, her sphincter popping as he emptied out her hole. Anisa trembled and writhed, blues and whites flashing and pulsing like a mad thunderstorm.

“Nothing’s wrong with your body, Anisa. I’m just restraining your orgasm,” Krathan said, pulling another bead out, and then another. The anal beads kept popping out like eggs. “It’s for today’s lesson.”

“L – lesson, my lord?” Anisa asked, her voice faltering as another bead popped free.

“It’s classical conditioning,” Krathan explained, pulling yet another bead free and gently stroking Anisa’s belly. He let the cephalian’s ecstatic and yet desperate voice die down before he continued. “I’ll be repeatedly penetrating your colon as I push you to your orgasm.” Krathan looked down. “Your biggest orgasm in your life so far might come from me fucking your ass. What do you think, blue?” he asked, pulling out yet more beads. The anal beads were much smaller now, popping out of Anisa’s body much more easily.

“My lord, oh my lord,” Anisa gasped, her voice intertwined with her moans. “I’m scared.”

“I know you are, my little squid,” Krathan said. “But I need you to stay brave for me, do you understand?”

“I’m scared,” the cephalian repeated. “Please, my lord, just let me cum!”

“I know, my little squid. I know you’re scared. But you’re being trained, and we need to do this step by step,” Krathan said, leaning in until his head was over the cephalian’s face. Anisa’s eyes were wide as she looked up towards him, her colors undulating. “Anisa, I know you can get through this. Can you be a brave girl for me?”

The cephalian stared straight at him, those beautiful orange eyes practically dancing as she fought against chains both visible and invisible. Anisa finally bit her lip, nodding mutely.

Krathan nodded. “Good girl. Very good girl,” he trilled. Anisa shuddered, almost like she’d had an orgasm just then. Krathan readied his cock at the cephalian’s ass, her juice-slick hole barely resisting him as he slid his way into the tight passage. Krathan’s entire body shivered as he penetrated Anisa, a victorious growl rumbling from his throat.

Krathan’s tablet was ringing. The vet snapped his head around. What cursed idiot was ringing him right now? He reached over to cut the line before he noticed the contact that was calling him. Grakrash. Krathan quickly turned towards Anisa, stroking the cephalian’s head.

“I’ll just be a moment,” Krathan said quickly. Anisa nodded in response, though there was clear desperation in her eyes. Krathan turned towards the tablet and connected the line.

“Grakrash, about Anisa’s sale,” Krathan said quickly.

“Whoa, brother! Jumping straight into things, aren’t we? Aren’t you going to ask me about how my battle went first?” Grakrash asked, laughing.

“You’ll be telling me anyway,” Krathan muttered, pinching the bridge of his nose. A shiver of pleasure went echoing across Krathan’s cock all of a sudden. He looked down and had to take a few moments to realize what was happening. Anisa was undulating her colon, using her muscles to draw him deeper like a swallowing throat. Krathan grinned and pushed deeper into the cephalian with his cock, making Anisa’s eyes go wide. “Look, Grakrash. I have my account ready. Just tell me how much you want me to pay and I’ll send the minutes over.”

The silence that followed was rather concerning for Krathan. Anisa managed to draw his attention again, her orange eyes so expressive and distracting. Despite literally hours of constant edging, the cephalian was staying almost completely silent whilst he was on the call. What a well trained girl. Krathan reached for her head, rubbing the cephalian’s crown fondly. Her tentacles moved, intertwining with his fingers.

“One minute.”

Krathan stopped. “Excuse me.”

“I want one minute for Anisa, brother,” Grakrash repeated. “One minute of printer time for it.”

Krathan paused, frowning. “That’s ridiculous, Grakrash,” Krathan muttered. “The cheapest new arane I’ve been able to find costs fifteen minutes.”

“Ah, but Anisa isn’t new is it?” Grakrash asked, laughing. “I’m selling a secondhand slave! A little price off the top is to be expected, isn’t it?” Grakrash asked. “Besides, you’re family. We’re supposed to do this kind of thing for each other.”

Krathan eyed the tablet before leaning in. “Grakrask, what are you playing at?”

The tablet went silent again. Anisa kept nuzzling up against his palm, her face showing intense concentration as she tried not to make a sound. “Brother, Anisa’s there with you isn’t she?” Grakrask asked.

“Yeah, of course,” Krathan said. “Why?”

“I want to talk to you privately, brother,” Grakrash said. “Just step out of the room or wherever you are and we’ll talk there, alright? Where Anisa can’t hear us.”

Krathan sighed. “I don’t see the point, Grakrash. We’re talking about selling her, right?” he asked, looking down at the cephalian. She was looking up towards Krathan, her eyes practically sparkling. “She might as well know about it.”

“Just – go somewhere it can’t hear you,” Grakrash sighed. “Listen to your older brother this once, alright?”

Krathan sighed. Grakrash really was so cryptic sometimes. Krathan pulled out of Anisa’s ass and sealed up her box before walking away. Krathan stopped a considerable distance away, well out of earshot but close enough to interrupt a stranger who tried getting too close to Anisa.

“Alright, Grakrash, I don’t think she can hear us here,” Krathan said. “What do you want to say?”

Krathan could practically imagine his brother furrowing his brow as the silence stretched. “Alright, Krathan, I’ll admit it. You’re right, I haven’t been taking care of my slave very well,” Grakrash sighed. “Anisa is far more exotic than I was expecting, and trying to keep her alive as a first heitera was a bit much. It’s a small miracle she lasted this long.”

“Look, Krathan, point is. Just a few weeks and she’s already stopped getting worse. She’s even showing you all those colors that I thought were lost forever.” Grakrash sighed again. “You’re amazing, brother.”

“I’m a vet,” Krathan said.

Grakrash scoffed. “I’ve taken Anisa to see vets before, brother. They never had the result that you’ve had. No colors, no improvement to health, just a constant downhill. The vet I went to see before you said that I should just donate Anisa to the casteless nest.”

“I’m glad you didn’t do that, Grakrash. She’s a rare slave.” Krathan said.

“I know that, brother. I know. Look, Anisa’s basically yours already. It spends all its time with you, gets used by you all the time, and all that,” Grakrash said, losing his joviality. “And this is your first slave! Your first heitera! I’ve been talking about how you should get a slave since forever, and now you’re finally doing it. I should support that, alright?”

Krathan nodded. “A minute of printer time, you said?”

“A minute for my heitera,” Grakrash repeated. “Just – can I add a sale condition?”

“Sure,” Krathan said, shrugging.

“Just – take care of her for me, alright?” Grakrash asked. “If you take care of her, she’ll entertain you for decades and bear you dozens of strong children before you use her up. I’m sure of it.”

Krathan nodded, though Grakrash couldn’t see it. “Of course. Thank you, Grakrash.”

“Same to you, brother.” Grakrash said, cutting off the feed.

Krathan smiled and tucked the tablet beneath his arm and strode back towards Anisa, a smile already curving across his face.

Grakrash found himself standing in the corridor, just staring straight forwards. That was — a lot more stressful than he’d expected it to be. He tried not to think too much about Anisa on most days, just enjoying her for the excellent fucktoy she was and punishing her whenever she tried to get overly familiar.

Now she’d be gone, soon to be Krathan’s. Grakrash knew that he could always go and use Anisa, of course, but he wouldn’t be able to just have the cephalian whenever he liked or breed her, if he ever wanted to do that again.

It felt so strange. Anisa, from the very beginning, had been a very peculiar heitera. He had thought himself obscenely lucky to have bagged a heitera as breathtakingly beautiful as that, of course. He used her like any other slave. Beating her when she misbehaved or when something annoyed him. Using her whenever he felt like it and modifying and piercing her to his liking. He treated the cephalian like any other slave he had ever had experience with. And somehow, that made him feel incredibly uneasy. The questions she kept asking him made him feel deeply uncomfortable. There was something indescribably wrong about that cephalian, and he never could explain it. He felt like he should have given her up long ago. He nearly had. And yet, he could never go through with it.

And now Anisa would be Krathan’s.

“Do excuse me, but I couldn’t help but overhear. Not that I am trying to be rude, of course,” A slow, well articulated voice spoke from behind. Grakrash spun.

A massive man, easily as tall as Krathan and much more muscular, stood there in the middle of the hallway. He wore a wide cloak over his shoulder and robes that made him seem more like a sunbreaker of old than someone who Grakrash would meet in the hallways of the ship. The man had a bearing of unmistakable nobility about him, with a smile and an expression that knew itself naturally superior. Grakrash had seen this face before, he realized. He immediately bowed his head.

“Lord Thron! I didn’t expect to see you here!” Grakrash said breathlessly, quickly switching away from his usual speech to higher prose. “My apologies, I would have greeted you properly had I known that you would be here!”

“Come now, warrior. Raise your head. There is no need for that level of obsequiousness before a simple commanding officer,” Lord Thron said,his  voice a rumble.

Grakrash raised his head. He didn’t expect a member of the Sunbreaker’s lineage to be so — humble. The realization almost made him want to bow even more. He stood straight, though,, putting his hands behind his back and puffing out his chest so the gleaming armor plate of his warrior’s suit would be on full display.

“Lord Thron, what can I do for you?” Grakrash asked.

“Well, hopefully something,” Lord Thron said. “You performed incredibly well in the battle today, warrior. You are very much to be commended for your resourcefulness and valor.”

“Oh, Lord Thron, there’s no need for that! I have just obeyed the orders I’ve been given and fought against the enemies that I faced!” Grakrash said, laughing. “The Terrans have hardly shown themselves to be worthy enemies on this day.”

Lord Thron chuckled. “The fact that you think so is proof of your great skill and your potential.”

Grakrash all but froze, trembling. Did the ship’s second in command just say that to him? What was he supposed to think of that? “You have my thanks, Lord Thron!” Grakrash said excitedly.

Lord Thron looked around, “And your martial prowess is not the only thing to be commended, warrior. I have had a chance to speak to those of your squad and those of your acquaintance. The words they have for you have been uniformly glowing.” The Kaarvaak smiled. “You demonstrate skills both in the martial and social sphere. From what I’ve heard, you have also been supporting your younger brother and his – less than conventional methods. Sibling love is something to be commended, certainly.”

Grakrash stiffened. “Krathan’s a little odd, Lord Thron, but I doubt that you will find a better vet than him aboard this ship.”

“Yes, yes. I’ve heard much of him and of you. More than that, however, I’ve heard of your famed parties,” Lord Thron said, smiling, “and of the cephalian you chose as the centerpiece of the entertainment.” The Kaarvaak smiled. “I would have loved to attend that party of yours, warrior. It would have, if anything, solidified my high opinion of your abilities and attributes.”

“Ah, I’m terribly sorry about that, Lord Thron,” Grakrash said, trying to keep the smile on his face despite his nervousness. “I’m afraid that I’ve already arranged the sale of my cephalian. Once my brother credits the time to my account, the transfer will happen.”

“Well, the transfer will happen after administrative matters are taken care of. I’m sure that she hasn’t been registered yet and probably still has her collar on,” Lord Thron said. Grakrash’s eyes widened, he genuinely didn’t expect nobility to be so well versed in the minutia of transferring slaves. “She’ll be legally yours for at least a few hours, I’d imagine.” Lord Thron smiled. “Surely that’s enough time to arrange one of your famous parties, yes? And it simply would not be complete without your famous cephalian heitera.”

“I – I’m not sure I should do that, Lord Thron,” Grakrash said. “Legally mine or not, I did sell my heitera already in spirit. I don’t mind having her service you, but a large party like this just before her handover may cause complications.”

The smile never waved on the Kaarvaak’s face, but Grakrash couldn’t help but squirm under what felt like a heavy weight of discomfort. Lord Thron leaned in, smiling deeply as he took hold of Grakrash’s armored shoulder. Even through the metal plates, Grakrash couldn’t help but imagine the strong claws clamping down on his arm. Grakrash looked over to the hand nervously and then up at the looming kthid. He had Krathan’s height, but the menace and power he exuded utterly eclipsed what Grakrash’s brother was capable of.

“I’ve had a chance to research you and your brother, Grakrash. Children of a casteless father, and yet the both of you managed to rise up through the ranks. All while needing to compete against the natural talents of the children of Sunbreakers, no less. Truly commendable,” Lord Thron said. “That said, doubts still linger about your full capabilities. It’s so difficult to assess how far an unproven bloodline like yours could go, after all. Whilst you are not lacking in talent, there are those among the high nobility who whisper of the unsuitability of those like yourself for reasons relating to your temperament.” Lord Thron smiled. “I can see your talents clearly, warrior, but these doubts will remain.”

“I will do my absolute best to dispel them, Lord Thron!” Grakrash declared firmly.

“Good! I am glad! That is why I am so interested in your party, after all. I wish to recommend you to a higher rank, but that is difficult considering your heritage. Think of it as a dual purpose proof. You have shown that you can fight like nobility, warrior, now show me that you can live like one! Promise me that, before you send your favorite heitera to your brother, you will show me the revelry you are so famous for.”

Grakrash looked towards the floor. “I’m not sure I should do that, Lord Thron. It’s probably better if I ran my heitera through all of the procedures to get her ready for sale,” he said, swallowing nervously. More than that, the nobility tended to have a — reputation for how they treated slaves. Krathan would probably be incredibly upset if Anisa showed up too damaged, seeing as how Grakrash wouldn’t have time to do anything beyond superficial procedures on the cephalian.

“I understand your hesitation, warrior. Consider this then,” Lord Thron said, leaning in. “With his eccentric personality, I am certain that your younger brother will have difficulty rising through the ranks. It’s just a conjecture, of course, but one that seems substantiated. He is incredibly talented, apparently, and yet hasn’t received a single promotion over his sixteen years of work. If this party proves to be entertaining for me, however, then I have no issue whatsoever putting in a word with the correct people. To ease his career path, if you would. Do as I ask, and I will see to it that the two of you both get immediate promotions, as well as my seal of approval going into the future.” Lord Thron smiled. “Show me your potential. Say yes, Grakrash.”

Thoughts buzzed in his head. Thoughts and objections and hundreds of ways this could go horribly wrong. Grakrash felt his mouth drying. He was no noble. He was a nobody. That fact had haunted Krathan and him since their birth, constantly tripping them up. Grakrash had always pushed himself to excel, however, and adopted the speech, tenure, and grace of nobility whenever he could. He would, in time, prove himself worthy to stand amongst the children of the Sunbreakers.

Krathan, on the other hand. Krathan would have none of that. He would be perpetually stuck in a rut with his talents unappreciated because he couldn’t play the games of the nobility and make himself seem like one of them. A show of approval from a Kaarvaak though? That was something no one could deny. Grakrash swallowed.

“Yes, Sir. I’ll have it prepared,” Grakrash said.

“Good, very good,” Lord Thron smiled. “I shall be looking forward to it, warrior.”

Grakrash nodded quickly. Krathan would be angry at him for this, Grakrash was sure, but his younger brother would be reaping the fruits of this decision for decades to come, if not centuries. As for Anisa — Grakrash slammed the force of his will down on his emotions, dashing it across the floor of his psyche like a piece of fruit. Anisa didn’t matter. Anisa couldn’t matter. For his sake, for Krathan’s sake, Grakrash needed to do this. Anisa – she was just a slave. Just a tool. He couldn’t forget that. He must never forget that. Grakrash turned around, marching down the corridor with purpose in his mind.

Next Chapter –>

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