She glanced to one side, then the other. Getting the women on either side of her cage to look at her, much less speak to her, had proved impossible. Still, she felt like she had to try.
Muffled voices sounded in the distance. She closed her eyes, straining to hear them. As they came closer she recognized the guttural grunts of the Trug. There was someone with them, though. A voice that sounded different. Unlike any she’d heard yet.
She drew her knees up to her chest and hugged them, trying to cover herself from whatever eyes were approaching. A fresh swell of humiliation at her predicament washed over her.
She squeezed her eyes shut tight and tried to picture the meadow she’d played in as a child. The place she’d spent nineteen happy years. The same place they’d plucked her from and hauled her off into the dark skies.
A hatch slammed in the distance. Footsteps grew louder. Ominous, heavy thuds that echoed along the bare metal hull. A buzz sounded as the lights were turned on.
Aveera closed her eyes tighter against the glare. Why they couldn’t at least keep the lights on was beyond her. It was almost painful to open her eyes after hours, sometimes days in the cold darkness.
The footsteps came closer, pausing every so often.
She cleared her mind and recited the same words she always did when they came.
Please not me. Please not me.
The bottom fell out of her stomach as the footsteps fell directly in front of her and stopped. A long, heavy silence filled the giant chamber.
“Human?” a deep voice asked, so low it was nearly a growl.
“Eaaaki!” The sharp shriek was followed by the loud clang of a correction bolt banging against the bars of her cage.
She sucked in a quick breath, adrenaline coursing through her, ending in a pinch at her toes.
“Stop that,” the deep voice growled.
She frowned, puzzled by the feeling the sound inspired. Fear, certainly. But the tone wasn’t cruel. She opened her eyes, knowing they were talking about her. Knowing that the shriek and banging would only continue until she did what they wanted.
She let go of her knees, her hands falling to her sides. A warm blush rose to her cheeks as she exposed her breasts, the nipples hardening into pink buds. From fear as much as from the cold air.
She opened her eyes, squinting against the light. Beside the stout outline of the Trug guard stood another taller silhouette. This was not one of them. His body was nothing like the portly frames of the cruel aliens who had abducted her.
His stance was proud. Though she couldn’t see his face against the light, she could see he held his head high. Proud, like a warrior. Or a king.
The Trug guard shoved the correction bolt he was carrying between two bars and banged it back and forth.
The clatter made the females on either side of her cower in their cages.
Aveera often dreamed of what she would do to the slug-like creature if she ever got a hand on that bolt.
“Eaaaki!” it screamed at her again.
Aveera knew this meant she should stand. But part of her quiet resistance, part of what had kept her sane these last months was not following their orders immediately. Though they owned her body, she had vowed that she would never let them own her.
“I said stop that,” the tall creature growled again. This time he turned, put a hand on the Trug’s greasy arm, and tugged the bolt out from between the bars.
The Trug grumbled its protest but didn’t react. Cruel didn’t mean stupid. And it would have been stupid to anger this… whatever it was standing in front of her.
Somehow she knew that. Opening her eyes and allowing more light in, she looked up. She could make out some contours of his face: narrow almond-shaped eyes, a thick neck, broad shoulders, and muscles that rippled each time he moved.
Her eyes wandered down its body, past the strong chest and chiseled abdomen. It wore no top. Its features were… clearly male. A loose cloth clung to his muscled waist, falling to just below his knees. An obvious bulge confirmed that it… he, was male.
The order was clearly directed at her. Taking a deep breath, Aveera grabbed the bars of the cage with her hands and hauled herself up off the floor.
Her cheeks flared red again. Now there was nowhere to hide. Her whole body was on display. Every inch of her soft skin, including her tender breasts and the soft folds between her legs could be leered at by both of the alien males standing in front of her.
She clenched the muscles in her jaw, fighting against the shame and humiliation that threatened to overwhelm her and make her ball up in the corner once more.
A heavy silence fell on the compartment.
Aveera felt not only the eyes of the Trug guard roaming her soft curves, but also those of the strange alien he’d brought with him. She could tell the females on either side of her were watching her, too; most likely grateful it wasn’t they who had been told to stand.
Seconds ticked by. They felt like hours. With each passing moment fresh waves of shame washed through her. She thought back to the meadow again, back to her home planet of Valenz.
She had been happy there. Despite not knowing her parents, she had lived a good life with Ala and Muti, her appointed guardians. They’d cared for her. Sent her to a good school. Prepared her for a life of service as a mendala, a keeper of the forest.
Then the Trug had come, shattering everything. Now she was nothing more than a slave, locked in a cage until she was ready to be sold.
“Open it.” The voice was quiet but deep. It was him speaking again.
The Trug let out what sounded like an exasperated sigh, its fat lips flapping against each other like a loud fart. Nonetheless, he stepped forward and pressed his fob against the electronic lock.
It clicked open.
The command was for her again. Fingers of fear began to crawl through her. Though he didn’t seem immediately dangerous, he was completely foreign. She had no idea what he would do to her. But she had little choice except to obey the order.
Holding her chin high, she took a step through the open bars and out of the cage.
It was the first time she’d done so in weeks. The last time had been for a washing, when they’d soaked her with a foul-smelling brine, then hosed her down with cold water. Despite the current situation, a certain relief came at the small freedom of not being inside the cage, short-lived as it might be.
She kept her eyes forward. There was no ignoring the way the large alien’s gaze raked over her body, pausing at her softest parts. Her cheeks heated even more. She closed her eyes, hoping to protect the last shred of dignity that remained deep inside her.
“I will take this one.”
Never had words inspired such hope and such fear in her at the same time. Her body felt so light at the prospect of leaving the slaving vessel. Finally, she would no longer be caged. Finally, she would be allowed to move forward and face her destiny.
But that idea came at a price. This was not a graduation. She would not be free to pursue her own desires. She was being passed from one cruel master to another. Whatever lay ahead, it would be her chore to deal with it. Whether she liked it or not.
Her eyes snapped open at the sensation of something grazing against her nipple. Her gaze fell to see two fingers of the alien’s massive paw caressing the tender bud. She gasped as he squeezed tighter.
Aveera hated how the sharp sting of pain tore through her and settled between her legs. She hated even more the dull ache that began there, because of the rough touch.
A glance sideways revealed that the Trug guard was sneering, chuckling at the way the alien was fondling her. It took every ounce of will not to lash out and try to swipe the correction bolt from the creature. Instead she clenched her jaw, enduring the humiliation of the fondling.
“Reef-a kweki?” the Trug gurgled.
“One final thing. I want to check her rear.”
Aveera inhaled sharply at the statement. Looking up, she locked eyes with the alien male.
“Turn around,” he commanded.
Aveera’s nostrils flared and her throat tightened. Surely, he would not subject her to this ultimate humiliation. She glared at him, her eyes imploring him not to continue.
He tilted his head to one side. His brow raised and then furrowed. “Turn around, human,” he repeated.
Aveera knew there was no hope. Nothing in his eyes or his expression made it seem like he would change his mind. Biting the inside of her cheek, she turned one foot, then the other, turning her back to him.
“Hands on the bars,” came the rumbling order.
Aveera did what he said. She leaned forward, reached out, and grasped the bars with her hands. This caused her backside and the soft petals between her legs to become even more exposed to their prying eyes.
She didn’t expect the first sharp sting of pain that fell on her rear. It shocked her, shooting up her spine and crackling inside her brain. Nor was she ready for the second, on her other cheek. That one made her gasp, then cry out in pain.
The creature’s heavy palm fell on the small of her back.
Aveera couldn’t resist the instinct to try to squirm away.
The weight of his hand made it impossible. Crack after sharp crack of his correction landed on her ass. Each elicited a wild, animal-sounding yelp from her. The sounds mingled, bouncing against the hard walls of the compartment.
Her bottom began to burn. Her knees grew weak and shaky. She gripped the bars until her knuckles turned white. Just as she thought she wouldn’t be able to stand any more, the creature let one last fat slap fall on her ass cheek, then stopped.
Aveera’s nostrils flared as she sucked in air, trying to catch her breath. She felt the warmth of his on her neck.
“Do not make me repeat myself again,” he said, his voice stern and even. His mouth stayed close to the nape of her neck.
She sensed the request he was making with his proximity. “Y-yes,” she whispered, her voice shaking.
“Yes, Master,” he corrected.
Aveera swallowed nervously. “Yes, Master,” she repeated.
The heavy hand on her back fell lower.
She sucked in a breath as a firm finger slipped between her ass cheeks. It plied lower, down between her legs, to her damp pussy.
Aveera closed her eyes in shame. Her nipples were so stiff they were aching. The other females’ stares burned her skin.
The finger slipped back and forth along her slick folds. It rose again, past her tender perineum, and the tip pressed at the tight ring of muscle that led into her ass.
Her body tensed.
The reaction was met with another sharp slap on her rear. “Open,” he growled.
Fighting the instincts that were screaming inside her body, she let out a heavy sigh and did her best to relax.
The tip of his finger slipped in.
He twisted it, sending her up onto her toes. He held her there until her calves began to shake from the exertion.
“Varaga?” the Trug grunted.
A silence passed. “Tight enough,” the alien replied.
The Trug answered with another grunt.
“Have her sent to my ship while we discuss payment.”
As the finger slipped out of her ass, Aveera felt a sharp sting in her side. She recognized the pain of the correction bolt for only a second before everything went black.
It was the smell that woke her: sweet, like summer grass. It brought a smile to her lips but only for a moment. As she opened her eyes, the memory of what had happened, along with the memory of where she was and who she now belonged to, flooded through her mind. Drawing in a quick breath, she sat up with a start.
Her surroundings were the last thing she expected to see. Instead of the dull grays of the cage compartment she’d been locked in for the last few months, she was surrounded by soft white lights along the walls. A light blue halo of light pulsed gently along the ceiling. She looked down to find herself lying on a soft mattress, covered with sheets that felt like they were made of silk.
Turning, she tried to swing her legs off the bed, only to find one ankle bolted and chained to the floor.
From one prison to another, she thought.
Her insides twisted. The reality of her situation crashed against the memory of her old life. Her throat went tight. Tears stung her eyes and when she blinked, rolled down her cheeks.
In the way they sometimes did when times seemed dire, more memories of her happy childhood tumbled through her mind. Followed by questions and doubt.
Maybe there was something she could have done? Maybe she could have run harder toward the forest, found a place to hide, and weathered the storm of fire that the Trug ships had wrought on her planet until they were gone?
She began breathing heavily and closed her eyes. As she’d done countless times before when these doubts had reared inside her mind, she calmed her breathing to try to stifle them. The path to happiness did not lie in looking back with regret. It lay in looking forward with hope.
Whatever little hope there could be, in a situation like this.
“You are awake.”
The feminine, vaguely friendly sounding voice made Aveera jump. She spun around, eyes wide open to find the source of the sound. Her gaze settled on a creature similar in appearance to the one who’d bought her. The one who’d… inspected her in front of the Trug.
Another swell of shame washed through her at the memory.
This one differed in a few ways. She was obviously female. Where the other’s body had been hard and angular, this one was soft, with curves that grabbed her eyes. A smile graced her lips as she stepped toward the bed.
Aveera shuffled back until she was pressed against the wall, as far as the chain would allow her to go.
The creature stopped and raised her palms, as if to calm Aveera. “I won’t harm you,” she said, shaking her head.
Aveera struggled to control her breathing. After a few moments she realized she had no choice but to trust the female.
“I am Maati,” she said, speaking softly. “Drak’s… your master’s Tuur.”
Aveera responded with a quick nod.
Maati’s smile grew warmer. “Forgive me. Of course you don’t know what any of that means.” Her human dialect was tinged with the slightest accent. Her tone was as warm as her expression.
For the first time since waking up, Aveera let the tension ease out of her shoulders. A glance down revealed that she was still as naked as she had been in the cage.
“May I sit?” Maati asked, pointing at the edge of the bed.
Aveera gave another nod.
A slight frown furrowed Maati’s brow. “You must respond with your voice,” Maati explained.
“Yes… of course,” Aveera stammered. “I… please, sit,” she said, pointing to the edge of the bed. The pain of… Drak’s, was that his name? The pain of his correction still burned in the soft flesh of her ass.
Maati smiled again. “Thank you,” she said with a nod, then settled on the edge of the bed. “You are a fine human,” she whispered, her eyes raking up and down Aveera’s body. “You will work hard to please your master, I can tell.”
Aveera nodded again, then caught her mistake. “Yes,” she whispered. “I will do my best.”
This seemed to please Maati. Her smile widened as she pressed out a crease in the sheets with her palm. “Then we shall begin shortly,” she said, looking up to meet Aveera’s gaze again.
Confusion formed in Aveera’s mind. “Begin?” she asked.
Maati nodded. “Yes. You are his property now. A Varagi enjoys a thoroughly trained pet. We are not barbarians,” she added kindly.
The explanation only deepened Aveera’s confusion. Was Maati confused? Her human dialect was nearly perfect, but perhaps she didn’t understand the words ‘training’ or ‘pet’? It sounded like she was talking about an animal. “I’m sorry… I’m not sure I understand,” she admitted. “Pets are not… I mean, training is not for humans. It’s for, well, pets,” she explained.
Maati smiled at this. “Oh, dear,” she said softly, tilting her head to one side. “But that is what you are, sweet thing.” She nodded for emphasis. “You are to be Drak’s pet.”
A shiver raced through Aveera. Her stomach sank, shoulders sagging as she stared at Maati in disbelief.
So that was what she was meant to be here. That was why she’d been purchased. Fear, as well as a stranger and quite unknown feeling twisted together inside her. It tightened the knot in her stomach as a needing ache blossomed between her legs.
Aveera looked up at Maati. The female seemed unperturbed by how long she was taking to think. A spark of courage inspired her. “May I… may I ask another question?” she said quietly.
“Of course,” Maati replied.
“What is… the training?” Aveera ventured.
Maati nodded. “Your master, Drak, enjoys the use of a pet. He finds it soothing to have a creature to take care of. He will also use you for his release.”
The blood drained from Aveera’s face. “Release?” she whispered.
“The Varagi race are blessed with a vigorous energy. It is how they have risen to become keepers of the Deyvelon galaxy. Their sense of justice is highly evolved. They are tireless in their quest for equality.”
Aveera nearly smirked at the explanation. Quest for equality while keeping humans as pets? She wondered if Maati understood the word ‘irony.’ She managed to control her expression.
“No doubt when he found you,” Maati continued, “he checked your back tunnel?” she asked.
The blush returned to Aveera’s cheeks. At the memory, and at Maati’s candor. She nodded, unable to bring herself to speak about the incident.
“Answer with words, as I instructed,” Maati said, a frown forming on her brow.
“Yes,” Aveera said, breathless. “He did.” Fresh shame coursed through her.
“He prefers a tighter entrance. It brings him more pleasure and a greater release,” Maati explained. “And it prevents the problem of cross-breeding among our species.”
Aveera’s heart had begun to pound in her chest. Her imagination began to run away from her, lewd visions formed in her mind. She remembered the bulge she’d glanced at between Drak’s… her new master’s legs. The thought of it entering her caused her to shudder.
But even as trepidation gripped her mind, that strange, confusing feeling grew beneath her belly. Imagining herself bent over, her face pressed against the soft sheets as her master… took her from behind caused her core to ache. The faint scent of her own arousal drifted up from between her legs.
“This excites you,” Maati offered, nodding at Aveera’s sex. “I can smell it from here.”
And while Aveera wanted nothing more than to hide the way her body was betraying her, there was no way to do that, naked and exposed as she was. “I… I don’t…” she stammered, not really knowing what else to say.
Maati’s frown deepened. “I know your human outposts are primitive. I will assume that is why you don’t understand what an honor it is to be chosen by a Varagi male as his pet.” She shuffled closer to Aveera on the bed. “But allow me to explain something. There are few races as benevolent and kind in the Deyvelon galaxy as the Varagi. If you choose not to consent, I have no doubt that your next master will not be nearly as forgiving as Drak.”
Aveera’s head began to spin. It all sounded so filthy and lewd. And yet that ache between her legs persisted. Her sex was damp, as if she were actually excited by the prospect of being Drak’s pet.
She had had a pet once back at home. Not one she kept in her house, that wouldn’t have been allowed. It was a small warbler, a burrowing animal she’d found wounded in the trees and nursed back to health. She remembered skipping to the forest with a basket full of berries and feeding and petting it.
The thought that she would become that to Drak was terrifying. But she couldn’t help but think there would be a certain safety to it, too. After all, owners did everything so that their pet wouldn’t be harmed. They cared for them and kept them safe. Would that be a life she could become happy living? It seemed wrong, somehow, even entertaining it.
“One last question?” she pleaded to Maati.
Maati scowled. “Very well. But only one. Drak will be here soon. Be quick about it.”
“What will… what will happen when he’s… done with me?” she asked, her voice barely a whisper.
Maati sighed. “You think too deeply about the future, little thing,” she said. “Rest assured a Varagi would never abandon you. You will live a good life until he is finished with you. Then, most likely, you will be sent to an outpost at the edge of Deyvelon. Roknid, maybe. It’s a nice planet. Lush and green with plenty of sunshine.”
Maati shifted on the bed.
Aveera could tell she was getting impatient. Her heart started to thump again. On the one hand it seemed like a defeat, to consent to becoming Drak’s pet. To consent to letting him use her any way he pleased. Allowing him to… release inside her.
The thought caused her to shudder.
But the other option, being sold to the next unknown alien they happened on was far too much of an unknown to entertain. Steeling herself, she sat up straight against the wall and looked Maati in the eye. “Very well,” she said quietly. “If he will still have me, I… I will be his pet.”
A smile lit up Maati’s expression again. She leaned forward and patted the back of Aveera’s hand. “You have chosen wisely, little one. You will see that Drak is a good master. Honor him and he will treat you well.”
Aveera forced a smile herself, though it was a struggle to keep her body from trembling.
“Now, there is much to be done before he graces us with his presence. Get up onto your knees so I can teach you a good posture to take for your new master.”