Pairing: Liam Neeson/Orlando Bloom, minor Liam/Johnny Depp, plus a few other pair-ups among the supporting characters.
Rating: NC-17 overall
Summary: Slave Orlando's been taken and the kidnappers aren't interested in ransom. And of course Master Liam's thundering rage is only at the personal insult, that someone would disrespect him by daring to touch his property.
Disclaimer: I don't own anyone you recognize. I know nothing about their social lives or sexual activities, more's the pity. This is fiction, period. It is done as a labor of love and I make no money from it.
Notes: 1) Set in poisontaster's Kept Boy universe -- FAQ here. See Chapter 1 for more notes.
2) Thanks and hugz to everyone who nominated Lost Boy for Best WIP in the slashy_oscars! Voting runs through 25 Feb.
Previous Chapters: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty, Twenty-One, Twenty-Two, Twenty-Three, Twenty-Four, Twenty-Five, Twenty-Six, Twenty-Seven, Twenty-Eight, Twenty-Nine, Thirty
The end of training came without any fanfare, or even an announcement.
The lack of ceremony or even a special marker made sense once Orlando thought about it. When Jamie and Paula had finished kindergarten and been promoted to first grade, there'd been a special ceremony at their school, with the graduating students in special caps they'd made themselves out of construction paper, and they'd all gotten a certificate and a hug from the teacher; it'd made the kids feel special and proud of their accomplishment, and eager for the next step to come. Master Liam and Mistress Natasha had been smiling and proud too, and Orlando supposed they'd been happy with the school for the job it was doing educating the children and making them enjoy the process.
No one cared how slaves felt about their training, though. And while there would soon be rich patrons purchasing each one of the slaves, they weren't in the picture yet, so there was no reason to put on a show to impress them.
Orlando hadn't even realized that the previous day had been the end of slave training, until the next morning when the line-up after breakfast hadn't led to the any of the training rooms. Instead, it filed past a clot of staffers who scanned each slave as they shuffled by. Most were shoved forward through a door which Orlando later learned led to a new dormitory for the slaves who were currently up for sale. A few, here and there, after having their chips scanned, were pulled out of line by one arm and shoved into a smaller group.
When Orlando stumbled over to that group, he looked around and knew what had happened. Paul had been right, after all; Commerce only trained unusually attractive people to be body-slaves.
By the time everyone had been processed and sorted, there were eight of them there in their corner. Orlando was the oldest, although not by as much as he would have thought.
He knew about the children trained to be body-slaves, kids as young as Jamie or even younger, although he'd never met one. Everyone in his group was an adult, though; the youngest was a teenage girl, probably somewhere between fifteen and eighteen.
They must have separate groups for children. Not out of any sense of what was proper or appropriate, of course, but because younger kids learned differently and at different rates from adults. The one thing he'd figured out about Commerce was that they were pragmatic all the way. They weren't deliberately cruel, just brutally efficient.
Somehow, that made it worse, treating the slaves like lumps of plastic to be pressed and cut and melted into a shape which could be sold for the greatest amount of money with the least amount of effort. At least cruelty would acknowledge that they were living, aware beings.
An unknown time after the last addition to the group scurried over to join them, they were marched down a hallway they'd never taken before, to a new training room. This one had the usual large, open space in the middle, but along the walls were benches and frames and racks of equipment. Orlando had seen enough of it before that his throat went dry.
The staffers prodded the slaves into a spaced line across the middle of the floor and ordered them all to strip. Clothes were collected and shoved into a slot in the wall, then the staff people retreated to the corners. Orlando ended up near one wall; the woman he'd been thinking of as his shadow was still nearby, propping up a wall a few strides away.
They all waited for another unknowable interval, then a well-fed man in a suit came striding in, followed by a man wearing more casual slacks and a button-down shirt. He deferred to the suited man and ignored the uniformed staffers.
The man in the suit stopped and took in the whole line of slaves, then grunted. "Decent enough group," he said. "Probably make some money on these."
That was it. Orlando stood perfectly still in his place at the end of the line, but excited thoughts raced through his head. That was the person he'd been hoping to contact, someone higher up, someone who should care about problems and be able to fix things.
Orlando felt a tingle of electricity running through his body, an excitement and hope he hadn't experienced in weeks. Months, maybe.
Both men walked slowly down the line, poking and patting and scrutinizing each body-slave trainee as they went, handling whatever parts they felt like handling and poking fingers wherever they felt like putting them. The man in the more casual slacks was treating the man in the suit like a horse broker treated a wealthy buyer -- showing deference and a quiet enthusiasm and a lot of salesmanship. The man in the suit had to be someone important, and they were nearly down to Orlando's end of the line.
Suddenly the woman who'd been watching him was right next to him, kicking his feet out from under him. Orlando went down and the hard fall knocked the wind out of him. The woman glared at him and jabbed her baton into his chest; it must have been set all the way up because Orlando'd never felt that much pain from a shock baton before.
Real electricity ran through him, convulsing his body until his arms and legs flopped up and down, slamming into the floor. He tried to beg for her to stop but could only manage an animal cry, all agonized vowels.
By the time he noticed that the pain had stopped, the woman and the two men were standing over his jerking body. The woman was saying something about disrespectful gestures behind his back. Orlando tried to deny it but all he could get out was a grunted "No..." before his dried-out throat seized up.
He heard the bleep of a scanner and then one of the men said, "This is the one who claimed to already be a body-slave?" Someone snorted out a laugh and then two or three arms hauled Orlando to his feet.
The man in the shirt and slacks smacked Orlando's face until his eyes focused, then snapped, "Present!"
Orlando slammed to his knees in the present position he'd practiced for so long and so hard...
...and only after he was in position did an alarm slam through his brain. Wrong! It was all wrong! And the mental image of all that practice shifted and widened and he was in the other Commerce center, the one where the other guy, Anderson, had drilled him so hard while he was drugged and starving.
He tried to shift into the correct position but it was too late. The two men were already laughing and one was making some kind of comment about how he'd probably played around with his girlfriend and wasn't even bright enough to get the position right, and there were enough TV programs with body-slaves that he should've been able to find some decent example to copy, and how it didn't matter because they'd beat all the bullshit out of him soon enough and have him looking like a real body-slave and then Orlando felt strong, rough hands hauling him to his feet again and forcing him to stagger off in some direction he could only squint at through tear-filled eyes.
A male voice said, "Need back-up?" and a female voice said, "No, got it."
She steered him with one arm twisted behind his back until they entered a tiny room and she shut the door behind them. Orlando recognized this room; he'd been shown one like it weeks before and told that it was for the kind of punishment that couldn't be done on the spot.
The woman maneuvered him across the room, proving easily that she was stronger than he was, and pushed him up face-first against a frame made of steel piping. She clicked steel bands around his wrists and throat and waist and ankles. It was uncomfortable and the frame held him spread out without giving much support; trying to let the bands take his weight just hurt.
There were some footsteps, and a couple of hollow clicking sounds, and then something whippy and stingy slashed down across his shoulders. Orlando yelled and tried to jerk away, but he couldn't move and the bands bit into him again.
"You don't seem like a bad slave," said the woman from behind him. "You're just stupid. Stupid we can fix." Another line of pain crossed his back, a little lower than the first time.
"You were going to try your story about already being a slave again. I could tell. That would have been a stupid thing to do and I'm going to explain why, one time, and you're going to understand and never bring it up again."
Orlando wanted to answer that it wasn't stupid, that it was true, but when he sucked in a breath to speak she gave him another hard strike with whatever it was she was using.
"You're going to stay silent and listen, because you're stupid and I'm explaining something important," she said. "You weren't a slave before you came here. If you keep insisting that you were, there are only three possibilities. One is that you're a liar. That's what your file says and that's the one I believe. Lying is a bad habit for a slave no matter how bad you are at it and I will beat it out of you while you're here."
Another slash, this one crossing two of the others. Orlando yelped in pain, gasping for breath and trying to stop the tears that were flowing again.
"The second possibility is that you're crazy, that you actually believe you were a slave before when you weren't. We have people who can fix that too, but you don't want to meet them. They'll get you behaving perfectly well, but slaves who've been through the p-docs are too robotic to make good body-slaves, which means we'd lose money when we sell you. That would be bad, so I'm hoping you're not crazy."
Whack! That one went right into the crease beween his ass and his thighs and he screamed.
"The third possibility is that you were a slave before but you ran away from your owner."
Orlando tried to gasp out "Stolen!" but before he could produce more than the first syllable, three more lines of fire tore across his back. He screamed and sobbed and begged her to stop.
"Ran. Away," she repeated. "Some runaways try to claim that someone else forced them to leave their owner, that they were stolen. It's obvious to everyone that this is a weak excuse used by runaways to try to avoid the punishment given to every runaway." Slash, slash. She waited for Orlando to stop crying out before continuing. "Which is immediate assignment to medical testing, the mines, or waste clean-up. The best any runaway can hope for is a slow, painful death. What usually happens is an extremely long and very painful death. Every time. No excuses, no what-ifs, no mitigating circumstances."
He flinched, expecting more pain, but she didn't hit him again. She just stood silent for a few moments and he finally realized she was giving him undistracted time to think about what she'd said.
And he did. If he understood what she meant, she was saying that Commerce didn't believe slaves were ever stolen. Or they pretended they didn't. It didn't matter because the result was the same either way.
So he had two choices -- he could convince someone he'd been stolen and be branded a runaway and die of radiation sickness, his body covered with oozing sores, or some other similar nightmare death, or he could keep his mouth shut and be a good slave and live as David Grant for the rest of his life.
Either way he'd never be able to get back to his master.
The woman stepped up next to him, grabbed his hair in her hand and twisted his head around to force him to look at her glaring face. "Are you still stupid or do I have to go over it again?"
"No!" he gasped. He tried to shake his head but that just pulled his hair so he stopped. He tried to smile, though, wanting to do something to show his gratitude. This room had to be monitored like every other room, so she couldn't have just straight-out told him what was what, but she'd saved him from committing slow, horrible suicide and he was grateful. "No, not stupid anymore. Thank you. I--"
She cut him off with a painful shake that felt like his scalp was being torn off, then let him go and took a step back. "Don't think this means I'm your friend or any shit like that. You'll be valuable if you can keep your head out of your ass. If we lose you to the mines after all this, that goes on my record and I don't get a raise next year. So make sure you don't lapse back into stupid or I'll kick your ass and it'll make this feel like a birthday spanking."
She manipulated the latches on the steel bands and released him, then pointed to the door. "Walk. You're going back to training, and you get to do it with a sore back. Hopefully that'll help you remember this talk."
Orlando wasn't going to need any help remembering, but he said, "Yes, Ma'am," anyway and staggered across the room ahead of her.
Next Chapter: Chapter Thirty-Two