Diplomat 13

It was dark in the hold of the ship, the dim lighting there not able to fully chase away the shadows that crept out of every corner. It didn’t matter to the Drules, their eyes enough like a cat to be able to see with just a sliver of light to their surroundings. Not that there was much to see, a line of cells on either side of Lotor, jam packed and crowded full of frightened men and women.

The cells weren’t very clean, unsavory smells and the scent of fear and misery mingling, making Lotor wrinkle his nose in distaste. The slaves would have to be cleaned before they could be sold, but for now they would be left to wallow in their own filth.

Not many would outright look at Lotor, and the pirates that accompanied him. Murmured whispers could be heard, Lotor being compared to a devil, people shuffling to the back of their cells. Women clutched at each other for comfort, hiding their faces, shivering. The men were frightened too, but some clutched at a false bravado, standing close to the bars, fisting them.

Moans were heard, people begging for mercy, for freedom. The whispered curses continued, the pirates ignoring everything that was happening around them. Lotor stalked down the long line of floor between the cells, pulling his leather gloves tight before flexing his fingers in anticipation. Wondering what tools would be needed, just how much pushing he would have to do, before someone broke and gave him the answers he wanted.

He didn’t feel disturbed, though Lotor couldn’t help but wish the women wouldn’t prove difficult. It would spare him and THEM a lot of fuss and muss, Lotor not particularly liking hurting women in this way. But neither would he allow them to play games with him, to let his questions go unanswered. He would find out what was going on, what profit there was to be made off the women and the secret they shared between them.

A hand suddenly lashed out, it’s arm reaching between the bars. Grabbing at Lotor’s arm, an angry face sneering at him. He didn’t understand the language the man was speaking, but Lotor understood the anger, the helpless rage the man was feeling. He certainly understood it when the man spit in his face, Lotor twisting, breaking out of the grip, only to grab onto the man’s arm. The man quickly realized the error of his ways when Lotor began putting pressure on that arm, the man babbling, begging in a mix of the universal basic and his own language.

There was a stir from the cells, people shuffling to the bars, watching. The whispers died down, Lotor almost smiling. But it was no true warmth to that expression, the smile an unpleasant little curve to his lips.

“I might have excused filth like you for touching me.” Lotor told him, in a tone that was false in it’s friendliness. “I might have even overlooked that you spat at me. But your defiance must be punished.” With that said, he broke the man’s arm, his scream mingling with the horrified cries of the other prisoners.

Immediately after Lotor let go of the man, others in the cell hurried to take him away from the bars. The sobbing, injured man was swallowed up in their protective embrace, but there was few angry looks given to Lotor. Instead it was all fear, the people loathing to find out what else the pirate captain might do to them.

Using the back of his hand to wipe the spit of his cheek, Lotor resumed walking. His companions paced behind him, watching to make sure no one else would be foolish enough to attempt anything.

At the end of the corridor, before a barred door, stood Cossack the Terrible. The pirate had watched as his captain had broken that one man’s arms, and from his expression he didn’t approve.

“Shit.” Cossack said as way of greeting to Lotor. “You know how long a broken arm takes to heal? We’re gonna have a hard time unloading a slave that injured!”

Lotor was unrepentant, gesturing for Cossack to lift the heavy bar and open the door to the room beyond the hold’s cells. “Let him be a lesson to the others. Defiance will not be tolerated.”

“Yeah, I understand that. Just don’t like you damaging the goods before they are sold.” Cossack continued to grumble. The heavy bar took two Drules to lift it, the door groaning in protest as it swung open.

It was completely dark in this room, Lotor stalking inside. There was no moaning, no crying, but he could hear someone breathing. Short panicked little breaths that proved at least one of the three women here could not control her fear. The breath would only become that much more out of control once the pirates brought in lanterns, the light bringing into focus the three women that hung by chains around their arms.

Their feet barely reached the floor, the women having to stand on tip toe in order to keep from swinging. Someone, perhaps Cossack, had shown enough pity to allow them to dress before being brought here. All three wore the tattered remains of sky blue and gray uniforms that were a more torn replica of the one Lotor’s beauty had worn.

Three women, and each a different flavor. Lotor noted that one had dyed her hair blonde, the color not quite covering her darker roots. This one was the one panicking, the one who couldn’t quite control her breathing, and who had a constant stream of tears running down her face. She trembled enough that her chains rattle noticeably, Lotor stalking towards her.

“Don’t!” It wasn’t the blonde who had cried out when Lotor attempted to touch his fingers to her bruised cheek. Instead it was the angriest looking of the three, the woman with the flaming red hair. Her clothes were the most tattered, her cheek bearing an ugly bruise under one eye. Various scratches could be seen on her arms through the cuts in her sleeves, and yet none of this made her too afraid to speak. In fact, she looked at Lotor with absolute revulsion, hate and anger burning in her narrowed eyes.

“Don’t you touch her.” She said, her teeth flashing in a snarl.

Lotor dropped his arm, looking at the red head. She didn’t seem at all frightened to be the new focus of his attention, scowling at him.

“And why shouldn’t I?” Lotor asked, more curious than anything.

“Haven’t you done enough?” She retorted. “Haven’t you all done enough?”

“Apparently not, if you think to speak to me like this.” Came Lotor’s reply.

“I’ll speak to you however I damn well please!” She hissed.

“Well then, since you are in so talkative a mood…” Lotor gave her that unpleasant little smile, stepping towards where she hung. “Then you can answer a few questions for me.”

“I will tell you nothing that you want to hear.” She lifted her chin, her very manner rife with stubbornness.

“Don’t think they’re going to talk so easily.” Cossack muttered.

“You just haven’t asked the right questions.” suggested one of the other pirates.

“Or maybe he forgot to say please.” laughed another. The red hair flinched at the sound of that laughter, but her glare never broke off from Lotor.

“I find it’s often not the questions themselves, but HOW you ask that get results.” Lotor said, watching with some amusement at how the red head tried to bite his fingers when he touched her face. “What IS your name?”

Silence, the woman just glaring.

“You do have one, don’t you?”

“OF course I do! But it’s none of your business!” She snapped.

Lotor grabbed at her chin, his grip painful as he got right in her face. “As long as your on my ship, in my care…” Her lips sneered at that last one, the woman trying to jerk free of his bruising grip. “Everything you say, everything you do, even what you think is my business. Until you’ve been sold, I own you. I own ALL of you. Now tell me what your name is.”

“Burn in hell!” She spat back at him, actually getting off of tip toe in an attempt to kick Lotor. He caught her foot by the ankle, and if she had been a man, he wouldn’t have hesitated to twist and break it.

“Now now…do you realize how foolish you are being? How foolish all of you are being? It’s just a name…and yet you guard it so fervently. That alone lets me know something very odd is happening here…and I won’t rest until I find out what it is.”

“Then I hope you die of exhaustion!” She was trying to get her foot free, and Lotor put just a little pressure on it in warning. “Damn it, let go!”

“Your name.” Lotor said in response.

“Captain um…you’re not gonna…” Came Cossack’s worried voice. Lotor ignored him putting more pressure on the foot, staring into the redhead’s eyes.

“Please stop….” Came the voice of the third woman. A pretty brunette with tear filled eyes.

“You’re a tough one, aren’t you?” Lotor asked the red head. Her lower lip was starting to tremble, her anger dulled just a little by pain. “You’d really let me break your foot rather than tell me anything? All right…”

“DON’T!” screamed the two other women, just as Lotor abruptly dropped the woman’s foot. She was left swinging, her expression as shocked at it was frightened.

“What? You’re not gonna….why?”

“It won’t serve my purpose.” Her brow furrowed at Lotor’s answer, the woman not understanding. The other two were sobbing, relieved and frightened and knowing it was not over yet. “I bet you’re willing to let me break all the bones in your body, and even then you’d tell me nothing. I’d succeed at nothing but wasting my time and ruining a slave I could sell.”

“We’re not slaves.” Came the automatic response, which Lotor ignored. He stepped away from the still swinging red head, his hand touching the back of the brunette. Interesting enough Cossack stiffened at that, his expression tight with displeasure.

“Problem?” Lotor asked.

“No, none.” Cossack said, his tone tense enough to let Lotor know he lied. Lotor tsked, but didn’t pursue it, keeping his hand on the woman as he circled around her.

“How about you?” Lotor purred. “Are you willing to die to protect your secrets?”

“What secrets?” Suddenly Lotor’s hands were in the brunette’s long hair, painfully pulling on it. She cried out in pain, and out the corner of his eye, Lotor saw Cossack reacting,

“Stay where you are Cossack!” He snapped.

“But…”

“Don’t interfere with my inquiries.” Lotor told him. He kept on pulling on the woman’s hair, the brunette having managed to control anymore cries from coming out.

“Why are you doing this?” She asked in a hoarse tone of voice. “We’re no one.”

“Maybe, maybe not. The fact that you refuse to tell me who you are, that all four of you won’t even give me a name, is suspicion in and of itself.”

“Four?”

Lotor could give the woman credit, her expression looking totally confused. “You’re quite the little actress, aren’t you my dear?”

“There’s only three of us, not…”

Lotor jerked on her hair once more. “Lie to me about that one more time, and I bring out the knives.”

The blonde with the dyed hair continued to cry, and now the red head began swearing. Lotor sighed and rolled his eyes, not sure which sound exasperated him more. “Someone shut her up.” Lotor snapped when the redhead began insulting his mother.

One of the pirates hurried to gag the red head, her legs kicking, her body swinging for her struggles. Even once gagged, she continued to make infuriated sounds, Lotor trying to ignore her as best he could.

“Your friend is very feisty.” Lotor said to the brunette. “That kind of spirit will get her killed if she’s not broken of it.”

“Please, oh please.” Came the repeated sobbing of the blonde.

“There are FOUR of you.” Lotor said. “Another blonde, who unlike your friend prone to bawling, has hair that is naturally that color.” His smirk was answer enough as to why he knew that, the color leeching out of the brunettes skin.

“She was wearing the same uniform as you. And just like you, she had no papers, and refuses to give me her name. Why is that?”

“I…I…”

He had a feeling she was going to lie to him again. “Cossack.”

“Yes captain?” Cossack’s voice was extremely unhappy.

“I think our guest here is in need of a visual aid to serve as a reminder.” Lotor smiled. “Go…get the woman from my cabin. Maybe the sight of her will jog someone’s memory.”

“Fine just….”

“Just what?” Lotor demanded.

“Just don’t do anything else until I get back.” Was Cossack’s gruff answer before he hurried out of the room.

Cossack’s request was an odd one, and one Lotor wasn’t entirely eager to grant. He circled around the brunette once more, the woman twisting, trying to keep him in sight. The red head growled low in her throat, but she was nothing more than a kitten playing at being a tiger. The third one continued her miserable sniveling, practically choking on her own tears. Even with the mess her crying made of her face, Lotor could see the glimmer of beauty that would be more apparent once she had calmed down, and cleaned herself up. She wasn’t the only one, each of these three holding varying degrees of pretty to their faces, even with their fear, or in the red head’s case, her hostility.

Certainly the three were attractive enough that they would most likely avoid the backbreaking work of mine slaves. But it was doubtful if all but the brunette would get a chance to be a pleasure slave. With the incessant crying of the blonde, and the fierce anger of the redhead, a whole lot of personality rebuilding would have to be done. Frankly he wasn’t sure three weeks was enough time for that, especially where the red head was concerned.

“Why are you looking at us like that?” The brunette bravely asked. Her voice almost didn’t waver, the woman trembling as Lotor turned back to her. He had a speculative look in his eyes, one he didn’t bother to hide.

“I am taking stock of the merchandise.”

“Merchandise?” She blinked, and the gagged red head let out a stream of muffled anger. “You’re not really going to sell us?”

“Of course I am.” Lotor told her. The one with the dyed hair seemed to sob louder, her chest heaving rapidly. “But where you end up, what kind of situation and master you gain, is entirely dependant on how truthful you are with me.”

She didn’t look like she entirely understood. “End up? A slave is a slave, no matter who the master is…”

Lotor tsked. “So naive.” He patted her cheek in response to the insulted look she flashed him. “There’s quite a few differences. The key is, do you want to spend your life on your back in some harem, or have it be broken down in the mines of some far away world.”

“Neither appeals.” She retorted, the redheaded muffled snarls an emphatic agreement to that.

“Tell that to the slaves who would kill for a chance at the luxuries afforded to those who end up in some harem.”

“It’s not a hard life.” Spoke up one of the other pirates in the room. “Just have to spread your legs a few times a month.”

“I’ll take my chances in the mines.” She retorted coldly.

“You think that will spare you from abuse?” Lotor asked. “As if the slavers in charge have never taken advantage of those in their care?” She actually shuddered in response, Lotor fighting not to flash her a predatory smile. “I can of course…make arrangements for you.”

“Arrangements?”

“Better the situation you’re facing.”

“And all I have to do is…give you the information you want?” She asked, the red head making frantic noises, shaking her head no. Lotor smiled at the brunette just before she spit in his face. “No, never!”

Faster than his blink of surprise, Lotor slapped the woman across the face. Several things happened then, another woman screaming, her voice all too familiar to him even if the horrified sound she made was not. There was someone grabbing at him, the pirates cursing, both grabbing at Cossack.

“You weren’t gonna do anything until I got back!” snarled Cossack.

Lotor jerked free of the man’s grip, turning to look at him as he adjusted his jacket. “Have you drank away all semblance of your sanity?!” Lotor demanded. “Or are you actually feeling sympathy for a prisoner?!”

“I…” Cossack opened and closed his mouth, still angry, still upset. But the tension in his arms was easing, Cossack relaxing in the grip of the other two pirates. “Just don’t think you should be damning any further merchandise.”

“Your concern is duly noted.” Lotor retorted coldly. “Can you control yourself? Or will there be more drunken outbursts?!”

“I’m fine.” Cossack grumbled. “I just overreact where money is concerned.”

“Don’t we all.” Lotor murmured, then nodded for Cossack to be released. The Drule shot the two pirates that had restrained him a dark look, before grabbing the arm of the woman who had accompanied him to this room. It was Lotor’s blonde beauty, the woman wide eyed and pale skinned, staring at the three girls who were still hanging from the room’s ceiling.

“So good of you to join us, pet.” Lotor’s voice immediately snapped her attention to him, the anguish in her eyes unable to properly power her glare.

“You fiend! What are you doing?!”

“I’m doing what I have to, to find out what you won’t tell me.” Lotor calmly retorted.

“And you think torture is the way?”

“Well my asking you nicely hasn’t netted any results has it?” Lotor chuckled. At his laugh, her beautiful blue eyes became angry, and only Cossack’s grip on her kept the woman from launching herself at Lotor.

“You may want to string her up with the rest of them, captain.” Suggested one of the pirates. The other laughed in agreement.

“She looks more than Cossack can handle!”

The woman was struggling wildly in Cossack’s grip, shooting glares at all the Drules, as though she would attack each and every one of them. “Monsters!” She snarled, Cossack almost unable to hold her back from her lunge.

“We’ve been called worse.” retorted one of the pirates.

“Enough.” Lotor said, taking hold of the woman’s face by her chin. She narrowed her eyes at him, a fierce spitfire who refused to back down. “Now that you’ve been reunited with your friends, maybe some answers can be had.”

Her lips sealed together, flattened in disapproval. The back drop of sounds had died down, no laughter, no angry muffled words, and even the crying had lessened in intensity.

“Someone is GOING to talk to me.” Lotor said, his tone dangerous. “Or else I will become a lot less merciful than I’ve already been?”

“Merciful? You called hitting a woman merciful?!”

“When I could have gutted her with my sword?” Lotor demanded in return. The woman’s skin paled further, her expression horrified. “I’ve been quite kind, all things considered. But it ends here. Tell me who you are, and what planet you come from.”

“I…I’m no one. I’m just a maid.”

“Just a maid doesn’t cause nearly this much trouble to herself and her friends.” Lotor retorted. “Nor does she inspire this much loyalty.”

“Your blinded by your distaste for the servant class.”

“That is not what we are here to discuss.”

“I’m not here to discuss anything with you.” She snapped out a command, seeming very much like a regal woman. “Now let down these innocent women, and leave them be of your twisted mercies!”

“No.” Just a word, but it angered her, the woman’s lip curling in a sneer.

“Bully.”

“Maybe so, but it gets me results.” Lotor let go of her face, to hold his hand out. Someone put a black leather whip in his open hand. He never broke his gaze with the woman, his arm moving, the whip making a snap of sound in the air.

CRACK!

She flinched at the sound of it, shaking in Cossack’s grip.

“The real interrogation begins here.” Lotor said, giving the woman that special, unpleasant, little smile of his.

Noise came back to the room, the pirates laughing, the red head snarling. The other two women began crying, the dyed blonde practically hyperventilating. And yet neither one began begging for mercy, neither began spilling secrets in a desperate attempt to keep the whip from them.

Lotor turned slowly, fingering the leather whip as he eyed his three targets. Even he wasn’t sure who he would whip first, his arm raising. The woman screamed out, “STOP!” but his hand was already cracking the whip, it’s flexible leather striking towards the red head.


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