Prometheus

Chapter 6: How new little slaves are made, part two

Ratchet noticed that Sam was nodding off, and sent him to sleep. His own recharge was troubled. He remembered the massive adjustments the humans went through on the colony ship, dealing with space, and all the changes they made, but their struggles dwindled compared to the humanity left on Earth. The next day he talked about that a little to Sam, but the guards growled when he spoke. Seeing Sam go into his slave mode made him desist. Pits, just watching that would convince most Autobots that something had to be done.

That night he read more.

Weeks later, Mute stood in front of the breeder, staring at the floor and hoping that the breeder's frown was not going to translate into a beating. Harvest was over with the cold starting to set in, and the breeder had time to look over his records.

"Mute, I don't understand this," Razorclaw said, partly to the slave in front of him and partly to himself. "Not one of your females has caught." Mute hunched his shoulders and kept his gaze down, radiating shame. The breeder looked at his reports and then at Mute, wondering what the problem was.

It was not that Mute was not doing his duty. All the breeding stalls possessed video with the videos monitored by Razorclaw's staff as a rotating duty. Razorclaw needed to know if the males got violent, and some needed training before they performed adequately. Most considered the duty boring. When Razorclaw found out that they manuvered to get duty on Mute's nights, he sat in to find out why. He wound up enjoying the show. Mute made all the right connections, but the preliminaries showed he had quite an imagination, and he liked to cuddle afterward. No wonder the females loved him. He was by far the favorite for the most offspring sired in the betting pool.

Instead, there was a lot of disappointment, not least among the females he was supposed to be breeding. Some of them cried when they found out that they did not have a child by Mute.

By this time, Razorclaw wanted Mute to breed for more than his hair. Not only was he a strong male with an excellent disposition; observation showed he was quite intelligent. He worked hard, but found ways to save time and make his work easier.Put to work in the kitchen, he organized the supply room to make everything easier to find. Razorclaw saw Mute examining the breeding schedule, which was a simple color-based diagram. After a time, he realized that the slave figured out who the colors belonged to.

It was possible that Mute was infertile but Razorclaw did not want to accept that as fact yet. He sighed and motioned Mute over. "Let's look you over," he said. "Maybe we can figure out the problem." Some time later Mute was dismissed from the office, with Razorclaw still puzzled by the lack of outcome.

While he felt relief at escaping a beating, Mute worried that the breeder might figure out the problem. If he did, the human knew he would be in for some serious trouble.

During his years in the resistance, Mute, once Sam, learned how to have sex without making babies. During long cold winters before and after Mikaela, he also learned how to make a woman happy in bed. He knew from the woman's talk that sometimes the masters watched to be sure the females were not being abused, so he was careful to cover what he was doing.

Strangely enough, the women themselves kept him going. They were grateful to have a considerate lover who took the time to pleasure them, and to cuddle them afterward. Otherwise he was sure one of them would have noticed what he was doing. More than once he felt like dirt when a girl came crying to him because she had not caught, and lately all of them were giving him anxious looks. They knew that there had been no results. Faking shame for his infertility was easy. Mute got depressed whenever he thought about the next rotation, which was the mines- hard, grinding labor. At the same time, he would not bring any children into this world where human life was misery.

Since he did a lot of cleaning, he knew where the bottle of wood alcohol were stored. He kept some close by. If he timed it right, he could manage a relative painless death. The moment Razoclaw figured out that Mute avoided procreation, the speechless slave could expect a lot of pain before he headed for the mines with a black mark in his file.

Razorclaw sighed. He found nothing wrong with Mute. He heard a whisper of sound, and looked down to see his favorite slave peeking out of the door as well. "Hello, my lovely," he greeted her. She looked up at him and smiled her sweet smile. He bent down and picked her up to stroke her red hair and soft white skin. She lost her last child in a stillbirth years ago, and he promised to let her wait to breed again until she was ready.

"Is that the one that all the other girls talk about?" she asked. "The kind one?"

"Yes," he said, putting her on his disk. "He's just had his evaluation, sweet, and while I can't find anything wrong, he's not producing. "

"No babies?" she asked. He nodded. She considered that. "He's pleasing," she admitted.

"I like his hair, but it's not as pretty as yours," he said, sitting and putting her in his lap. She lay back against him.

"Can I have him for a little bit?" she asked. He considered. "I'll breed for him. I don't think he'd mind. Not if the other girls are right. They say he likes new things."

"So I hear," he said. "Well, sweet, it can't hurt. Maybe with you we can figure out what's wrong. And you're right, he seems to like to experiment. I don't think he'll mind."

Two days later Razorclaw summoned Mute from the supply room where he worked. It was late in the afternoon, but not yet time for the evening meal. In the office the slave stopped in front of the desk, eyes down. "Around here," the breeder said, and motioned Mute to his chair. There was a cup on the desk that Sam estimated held about a pint, and Razorclaw handed it to him. "Drink that, you're going to miss your evening refuel." Certain now that he was about to be shipped off, Sam took a cautious sip before starting to drink. It was some kind of pureed soup, thick, warm and good. Sam savored it; so little food they got tasted good.

Halfway through, he realized he felt odd, and stopped to look up at the mech watching him. Razorclaw turned him around, took the cup and put it on the desk, pulled Sam into his lap, and put the cup back in his hand. "Finish up, now," he coaxed, and Sam obeyed. When he finished the last swallow, he lowered the cup and almost dropped it. He slumped back against the master. In the back of his head, he knew something was wrong, but he could not bring himself to care. "Good boy," the breeder crooned, "looks like you're nice and relaxed. Come along." He stood Mute up and guided him through a door on the other side of the office.

Some time later, Mute came out of his drugged haze because something went around his stomach. He could not sit up. Then he heard the noise that sounded vaguely familiar, and frightening. He found chains on his wrists and ankles. He tried to remember what was going on. He remembered being told to void, and complying. He remembered being undressed and guided into a warm shower, and getting soap. He remembered he was somewhat unsteady, so he sat down to scrub and wash his hair. When told to rinse off, he complied, though he wanted to stay under the warm spray. Then Razorclaw picked him up and dried while carrying him here.

Now that his mind cleared somewhat, Mute tried to figure out what was going on. He pushed himself up on his elbows and looked around. He tested the length of his chains.

"Don't you look good," a feminine voice purred.

He turned his head. Then he pushed up onto his elbows and stared. The woman standing over him was any man's vision of heaven. Curley red hair cascaded to her hips. Lovely large green eyes dominated an angelic face of pale white skin, a tiny perfect nose and a smile full of small white teeth. She had a slightly rounded face, and an adorable pointed chin. She wore a robe that hung open. Her only resemblance to Mikaela was her body shape, which was rounded and pleasing. He estimated that she was about his height. He lifted his eyes back to her face to see she was giving him the same pleased assessment that he had given her.

She went to her knees beside him and reached up to stroke his hair. "Your hair is like mine," she said. He looked at her hair and gave her raised eyebrows. She laughed again. "It's different that the others," she elaborated. He nodded. She pushed down his collar and looked at the scar underneath it. He let his head fall back, and then lay back. He held up his wrists, wondering at the chains.

"I can't take off the chains. I need them." He gave her a questioning look. "A long time ago, three men held me down and took turns." She noted his outraged look. "My master stopped them. Their punishment was this." She indicated the chains. "He let me do whatever I wanted to them. After that, I've needed this."

She smiled at the look on his face. "I don't need hurt, Mute." She brushed her fingers over the scar on his neck. "It's another way we're the same. We've both been hurt where it doesn't show." She trailed a finger down his chest, past the tight stomach, and further. His body responded. She drew closer. "The other females say you're different," she murmured, moving her hand to his knee and tracing it upward. "They say you like to play, that you know how to make them feel good."

He nodded, cautiously. "So I'm going to play, "she said, sliding to lie on her side against him. He raised his arm to run his hand over her back, moving slowly. She jumped a little, and he lifted his hand. "Go ahead," she murmured against his ear, and her hands resumed their feather-light stroking.In the many encounters he had at the breeding facility, he was always in control, no matter how experienced the females were. This time, she was in control of the entire experience, and she made sure he knew that.

The feel of a metal finger stroking her back woke her. She looked up at Razorclaw, and carefully moved away from her sleeping lover. Putting on her robe, she watched her master undo the locks. Mute did not move, and she giggled behind her hands. "Wore him out, did you," the breeder said fondly. At the sound of the master's voice, Mute woke, jolting upright and almost falling over. Razorclaw steadied him before handing him his clothes. Mute dressed and stood up. The breeder picked both of them up and took Mute to the kitchen, telling him to get to his sleeping pad. Mute nodded and headed off.

Back in his office, Razorclaw set her on his desk and said, "I think you enjoyed yourself, sweet. Did he mind?" She shook her head, smiling. "Do you think you found the problem?" She laughed into her hands and nodded, telling him. "Do you want him again?" he asked, and received a beaming smile in answer. "All right then, you train him in what he needs to do. If you catch, then we'll keep him another rotation. I do want some offspring from him."

The next night, and every other night for about two weeks, Mute went back to Red. On the last night they spent together, she trailed her hands down to his neck. "I want your baby. I want a white-haired boy or red-headed girl who's as smart and sweet as you. Master says if I catch this time, he'll let me keep it. But to get a girl to catch, " she talked a little longer, earnestly instructing him in what he was doing wrong. At the look on his face as she went on, she said, "You didn't know, Mute."

Damnation, he thought, despair running through him as she stroked his face and tried to make him feel better. She was probably pregnant. Two good things, he thought; she's the only one I'm leaving pregnant, and they don't know I was acting deliberately. Besides, she said she could keep it; at least the baby will have a chance for a slightly better life. He assumed he would join the other young men heading for the mines tomorrow.

After breakfast he headed for the supply room as usual. His supervisor called him aside and took him to a storeroom. The place was an absolute mess. "Clean it up," the supervisor instructed. Mute looked the room over and got to work. It took him all day, and according to his stomach it was close to dinnertime when he was down to sweeping the floor, everything in some kind of order and cleaned. He heard footsteps and kept working. The supervisors checked un frequently. Then a large, warm metal hand fell on his shoulder.

"Listen closely, Mute," Razorclaw said softly. "I've been a breeder for a long time, several generations of humans long. I remember when feral humans were common. They tended to be reluctant to breed." Mute waited, afraid to look up and tensed for the whip. "Now, Red believes that you have no idea what you were doing wrong. I have no reason to doubt that. Yet. So, I am keeping you for another cycle."

The hand on his shoulder gripped a little more firmly. "I want children from you. I want the combination of your strength and intelligence. Don't defy me in this, Mute. Unless you want to go to the mines with a beating and a report that you're a troublemaker." Mute shivered involuntarily. "I see you understand me. If you perform as needed, and I have a reasonable result, then I'll either let you go back to Shrapnel or I'll keep you here to help raise Red's child by you, depending." The pressure on his shoulder eased. "And understand that I am watching you."

Mute nodded. "Finish up and I'll walk you to the kitchen," Razorclaw said pleasantly. The human obeyed, moving numbly. When they reached the kitchen, the breeder commanded, "Look at me." Sam looked up into red optics. "You are rare, Mute. As rare and valuable as my Red, and I want more of you. "A gentle finger stroked over his hair and under his chin. "I can make your life a lot easier, my wise one. Don't force me to destroy you. Now go eat.

That night Mute lay sleepless on his pad, his mind running in circles. Razorclaw knew humans very well. If he was only Mute, he would be willing to do anything the breeder wanted to get that praise, to keep being told he was special after being the 'flawed' one all his life. But he was not just Mute, he was Sam, and he knew he was being manipulated. Sooner or later Razorclaw would notice something more different about Mute than no voice and a way with females. After a night with no sleep at all, he was one of the first up, his decision made. He ate automatically and went to the storeroom as normal. Then he discovered that his bottle of wood alcohol was not in the place he left it. "There you are," his supervisor said, coming in the room. "Come show me what you did yesterday." Sam went with him to the storeroom and showed him how it was organized, earning a nod of approval. "Good. Oh, and I found a bottle of some of the cleaning stuff sitting around. Keep it in the closet and don't take it out without permission, hear me? Some of the other studs drank the stuff and got sick. " Sam nodded, his heart leaden.

Somehow, somehow he had to get out of this trap he saw closing around him, without going through either hell he foresaw he would endure. If he faced a quick death, he might be able to find his courage and refuse to breed. But the mines- that was a fate he cringed from. His only other way out was out of reach now. He just did not know what to do, not even with more than a century's experience behind him.

The next day, his supervisor sent Mute to the kitched to organize the cabinets. That afternoon, his supervisor called him out to meet the new set of studs. The supervisor explained the routine while using Mute to demonstrate at times. Mute, listening through the lectures again, looked at the young men Already they gave anywhere between ten and fifteen years of their lives to the farm, and after a month or so here, would go on to the mines. Maybe half of them would survive to go on to other work. The women worked the farms and bore children until they died. He was going to bring children into this endless, mindless cycle? He had to figure something out.

But someone checked on him several times at day at different intervals, and he got nowhere. Soon he went to a breeding stall, to find a girl about sixteen, a frightened virgin. When he took the time to calm her, and gave her a chance to get used to his touch by gently rubbing her back and shoulders, she relaxed enough to blurt out that if she didn't do it right, she'd be lashed.

Mute closed his eyes and cursed Razorclaw in several dead languages. The breeder guessed that while his stud might get up the courage to defy the masters and take the beating, he would not subject an innocent to that kind of punishment. Then he gently introduced the frightened child to the pleasure sex could be.

All of them were the same, young frightened virgins. After the first girl talked with relief about her experience, the rest came to him with hopeful, trusting faces, and he could not resist that appeal. They bloomed from the small amount of kindness he gave them, and that eased his despair when one at a time they came to him, Red first, to tell him that they caught. In the face of their happiness, he managed to smile and pretend to be glad.

He found out there was a pool on what his results would be with the supervisors, and the winners were smug. Razorclaw told Red that she could keep her baby, and that he might keep Mute with them for a time, but not to tell Mute yet. She glowed with happiness. Mute noticed Razorclaw looking at him thoughtfully, and did his best to stay out of the breeder's way.

It was a distinct relief to go off rotation. It was deep winter now, and the supervisors cursed sometimes when they dealt with ice and snow. The water cistern that served the kitchen tended to freeze, and Mute got into the habit of bringing in a bucket of water overnight to begin the cleaning with. He showed the supervisor how wood alcohol kept the water from freezing, but the supervisor insisted on keeping it locked up. "I know you're smart enough to leave the stuff alone, Mute, but you know how stupid some of the studs around here are, and they might drink it."

It was a cold afternoon when he found one of the girls he had serviced bent over and moaning. He went to get her help, and found several of the other kitchen girls having stomach pains as well. He found Red who went to her master immediately, while Mute gulped water and wondered why it tasted funny. By that evening, all the kitchen girls were sick. Mute felt a little odd. He kept drinking the water in the kitchen as he and Red tended to the sick girls. Razorclaw tried to figure out what was wrong. Dinner was late, and worry ran through the breeding farm. Razorclaw had Red and Mute start boiling the water and adding some chemicals to it to stop the vomiting, and the girls started to recover a little.

But it was too late; the girls started losing babies. All of the girls in the kitchen who got sick lost the children, and all of Mute's girls were in the kitchen. Red lost her child. Razorclaw found Mute comforting her while trying to hide his own tears, and tried to comfort them both. Unable to eat, Mute kept drinking unboiled water, ignoring the taste so he could care for the girls.

The next day, Mute was sick, and he rapidly became worse than the girls. Razorclaw was frantic. He checked everything in the kitchen before noticing the water had a faint odor. He had the cistern dumped and refilled with clean water. When one of the supervisors suggested putting the wood alcohol in to prevent freezing, Razorclaw looked up the effects and discovered the problem. He headed inside to get the antidote, only to find that Mute died.

In the infirmary, Sam closed his eyes, remembering. It was the easiest life he had as a slave, and by far the easiest death. Neither Shrapnel nor Razorclaw abused or allowed their subordinates to abuse to their charges. At the same time, that life was the life of a domestic animal. The slaves worked, bred, slept and ate at the direction of a master, and he could see no escape in sight for any of them. It did help to know there was hope in space but this was their home world. He was afraid to ask Ratchet if help was coming. He was grateful that Ratchet did not reject him for cooperating with Megatron.

Ratchet read, and the more he read, the more ill he felt. This was the Decepticon way of thinking in action, and he wanted to purge. Somehow he had to get this and Sam to the Alliance Council. "I wonder where Megatron was going, to leave you with me like that."

Sam typed :It has something to do with the Alliance. He's sure he's strong enough to get them to back off. He said something about negotiations. I hope there's someone to see through his games there, or he's going to play with them like he played with the governments here.:

Ratchet signed his answer."The Alliance is wary of Decepticons after the Fallen."

:You know what Megatron said when he took me to see the last remaining base torn down and put the collar on? He told me that I was exiled from my own kind because I lived free, and that I would be his reminder of what humans could be and would never be again. I never forget that I'm a toy, and I hate it. If I get out of line, the collar has the means to shock me, and there's a beacon built into it. So if you get a chance to get out, Ratchet, leave me behind and try to bring some help, unless you can get the collar off.:

Ratchet had no intention of leaving Sam behind; they needed him. He was sure he could get the collar off if they could get away from the guards.

Where was the sleeper?

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