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OFFERING:
Captives of Kazir Book  2

Chapter 2

Nikos:

I searched the crowded room for Dirac Ortan. Getting a signature from the leader of the government for a routine trade agreement should have been handled by assistants, but the dirac had insisted I meet him here.

Here, where a crowd of people could witness his magnanimity. I was under no illusions about the reason for the public meeting. I sighed in irritation. I disliked the slavery auction, and I hated crowds even more.

As I searched gathering, a commotion erupted across the room. Senator Mik’kal Isyll pushed past me, carrying a human neatly tied up in morphicwire rope and dangling from his hand. I turned and watched the senator’s retreat out the door, wondering about the story behind that sight.

“He’ll be busy for a while.”

I swung around to find the dirac right behind me, and I inclined my head in respect. “Service, Dirac.”

“Did you bring the contract?”

“Yes, sir. The farmers in my district wish you to know how grateful they are.”

The dirac pressed a finger to the screen and the tablet beeped. “Of course they are. Tell me, Nikos, what do you think of the auction?” He swept his hand around the room.

“It’s fine, sir.” I began to recite the traditional exit phrase, “I serve the Dirac Or—”

“I would understand that with your rather liberal upbringing you would find having a slave distasteful and difficult,” the dirac interrupted.

What I found distasteful and difficult was being made to chat with this man in a room stuffed full of other beings. I was desperate for fresh air.

“I wouldn’t really know what to do with one.” Agreeing was the best way to get the man to stop talking.

“Have you met Rund Da’Hakos?” The dirac motioned towards one of the many hangers-on who seemed to follow him like little baby squerlings. This man was huge, even by Kaziri standards, with the typical brown wavy pattern all across his body. Usually, the darker the pattern, the less mixing someone’s ancestors had done in the past with other species, and Hakos’ pattern was so dark it was almost black. “I’ve been talking to him about the unfortunate possibility of the humans mixing with the Kaziri, and further contaminating our lineage.”

“I have heard some speak of that concern,” I replied cautiously.

“It’s obvious that we all have something staining our heritage”—the dirac motioned to his own lighter brown lines—“but it’s time we put a stop to that.” He paused, and his gaze traveled to Nikos’ dark brown lines. “It’s public knowledge your family has been pure for at least six generations.”

“Yes.” I wasn’t sure what game was being played.

“There are many of us not happy that the humans have been given the freedom to settle—though these humans won’t have any freedom at all.” He waved around the room and laughed, and I bit my tongue, hard. “We’re forming a small group of similar Kaziri who believe it’s time to stop polluting Kazir with inferior genetics. We’d like to extend an offer to you to join.”

Dammit, this was a complication I did not need or want. “Sir, I’m very busy on several committees already. I’m afraid I need to decline.”

The dirac’s gaze narrowed. “This offer would help your political future, I’m sure.”

“Sir—”

The dirac waved his hand. “Very well. Several bills will be presented soon, and I hope I can count on your vote to stem this slide towards contamination. It’s the least you can do after I was so generous to your territory.”

A garbled screech caught our attention. A trio of younger Kaziri senators, known for their lack of good sense, had surrounded a human woman displayed for sale. One had yanked her hair back and had his fingers down her throat. A second had his fingers pushed up inside her breeding hole, and though I couldn’t see clearly, I suspected the third had his fingers inside her pleasure hole. As I stared, the woman struggled, clearly unable to breathe. Her struggles grew weaker as they laughed.

I abandoned the dirac and pushed my way across the room.

“Get your hands off of her!” I barked.

The three men had the good sense to back away at my tone. My senior status in the senate carried a measure of respect, even from troublemakers like these.

But that didn’t mean they wouldn’t challenge me. “Why?” One of them pointed at the information hovering in the air to the side of the human. “She’s up for sale, and we plan to buy her.”

I narrowed my gaze and stared at them for a long moment. Then I turned towards the glowing list. “Nikos Abzik, 4500.”

The red light began flashing slowly. I waited for the men to counter the bid, knowing they couldn’t possibly have that kind of money.

They gaped at me. The light flashed faster, a warning that the counter-bid time was ending. After another moment of silence between the four of us, the light changed to green, and “SOLD” appeared at the bottom.

“She’s my slave. Now get out of here.”

They melted into the crowd and I turned to the human. Her head had fallen forward when they’d let go of her hair. I was relieved to see her chest rising and falling beneath the curtain of black curls hiding her face.

The dirac and his retinue had followed me. “That was a generous gesture, Nikos, but since you’ve just declared you don’t know what to do with a slave, I’ll arrange for her to be returned and you can get your money back. There are still plenty of buyers here.”

“No! I mean, no, sir, thank you. I’m going to keep her.” I had no idea why I said that. I should have taken him up on his offer.

“Nikos, these humans will need to be kept strictly in line, and if you have any ideas about freeing her, it’s prohibited by law.”

I gave the dirac a level stare. “I understand.”

The dirac stared back, then nodded. “All right. You may keep her. But if you—or anyone else here today—shows you are not able to subdue and tame them, I will remove them from your ownership.”

Without waiting for an answer, the dirac turned and headed for the door.

“I serve the Dirac—” I tried to say, but Da’Hakos bumped into me.

“Just be careful. The Purajii are watching everyone.” He caught up to the rapidly disappearing leader.

The Purajii? The Pure? Oh, hell.

Turning my attention back to the human, I tapped her shoulder, unsure what to do next. She struggled to get her feet flat, then straightened her legs and raised her head. Her face was streaked with tears and she regarded me with fear in her eyes.

“It’s okay. They’re gone.”

She nodded. “Thank you.” The words came out as a raspy whisper.

I motioned to one of the guards, who pushed a button on his uniform arm. Abruptly the cuffs around her wrist and ankles released, and she pitched forward. I threw an arm around her waist. She recoiled.

“I’m just helping you stand!”

“Oh. Thank you. Did you just buy me?”

“Yes.”

 

My regret was increasing by the moment.

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