Part of the Death Row series.
August 8, 2250 AD: Abdul Kan is dead. After enduring twenty-five years of a forced polygamous marriage, Nicoletta Kan is free to leave the harem bed and make her own choices.
But someone is watching Nica, someone is hunting her like prey. Someone Nicoletta had never thought to see again in her most terrifying nightmare...or her most fevered fantasy.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from The Mastering by Jaid Black
"My name is Nicoletta Isabella Carlotta Apollinaris," she whispered in a thick Italian accent, her dark chocolate gaze lowered. "I herald from the Greco-Roman biosphere. My talents are--"
"Raise yer voice, wench!" the chattel auctioneer bellowed.
Her heart began pounding in her chest, tiny beads of perspiration dotting her brow. As it was, she was a nervous wreck up on the stage. Sitting there naked, her hands chained high above her head against a wall, her legs chained wide open to bolts on the floor so the curious potential masters could see everything she had to offer them, the added embarrassment of being publicly yelled at felt nearly overwhelming.
She took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. You can do this, she staunchly told herself. You have no choice.
Nor did she wish for her seeming lack of finesse to cause the well-to-do males to overlook her. Nicoletta did not wish to end up the wife of a male low in the Hierarchy who could scarcely afford food let alone a wife. Such was the very reality her parents currently lived in, a reality they were hoping their daughter's exceptional good looks would keep her from repeating.
Not that every wench chained up on the stage wasn't exceptionally good-looking. All of them, every last one, were stunning beauties with large breasts, gorgeous faces, and curvy bodies. Hierarchy scientists had ensured long ago that no female child would ever again be born less than physically perfect. Any imperfection detected in the womb--from plain looks to pudginess to being overly thin--all of it was engineered out before the child was ever born. Disgusting, piggish, and a total abomination of all that was holy perhaps, but the unfortunate truth nevertheless.
You can do this! Now calm down and speak clearly.
There was little choice. Her looks were no better or worse than any of the other wenches on the marriage auction block this day. Nor could she claim any superior talents from the rest of them. The only rarity about Nicoletta was that she was still a virgin--an eighteen-year-old virgin who would lose her virginity this very eve to whichever male bought her as a wife.
Her heart raced impossibly faster. Sweet Kalast but she hoped her future husband would not be overly hard on the eyes! Male fetuses were not engineered like female fetuses were--a quick glance in the sea of wretched masculine faces confirmed that awful fact. So if fate decreed her bound for life to an ugly Master, she could at least hope for a husband who was semi-high within the Hierarchy.
"My name--" Nicoletta cleared her throat and began again, her voice audible if not loud this time. "My name is Nicoletta Isabella Carlotta Apollinaris." Her large breasts rose and fell with every breath she took, her nervousness waxing instead of waning. "And I herald from the Greco-Roman biosphere."
"State yer talents, wench," the chattel auctioneer mumbled.
She swallowed against the knot of cold fear in her throat. She decided she wouldn't be surprised if she fainted dead away before her turn was over. "My talents are in the areas of body massage and cock sucking."
Ah gods, she thought, her heart sinking, every wench in here was possessed of those talents. The sea of masculine faces looked heart-wrenchingly bored. She was doomed.
"I'm a virgin," Nicoletta said quickly.
The sea of bored faces perked up and paid attention.
Her chin notched up, her confidence restored enough to finish her rehearsed spiel. The others were just as pretty and were possessed of more talents, so she'd have to go with this one rarity she had. "I have never been vaginally or anally penetrated--only orally that I might perfect that skill for my future Master."
The chattel auctioneer inclined his head then turned to the next wench up for bid and repeated the process. He continued down the line until all ten chained-up females stated their names, origins, and talents. Only then, after the last of the chattel had spoken, did the inspection begin.
The inspection, Nicoletta thought, taking another calming breath. All ten of the brides up for bid had undergone genital waxings so that only a tiny inverted triangle of neatly groomed pubic hair showed on their bodies. They had also been bathed in exotic oils the eve prior that they might smell intoxicatingly arousing to the wealthier male bidders during the inspection period. Poorer males were given no inspection period--they made do with the leftovers the Hierarchy elite didn't deign to bid upon.
Please let me be bid upon!
Her thoughts drifted back to the tiny two-room quarters that had housed her family of seven for as long as Nicoletta could remember. She slept on a rough floor mat like a dog, begged for food in the airbus atriums in order to keep from starving... Please!
Everything, her entire future, all came down to the next hour in time. Sweet Kalast but she felt close to fainting! She could only pray to Cyrus her virginity would make at least a few well-to-do bidders curious enough to inspect her. She knew her parents would be gravely disappointed in her should she be auctioned off to a male of questionable means. They wanted her to marry well.
Not that she planned to stay married long, Nicoletta silently admitted, her heart drumming away like mad in her chest. Perhaps it was wrong to plan and plot against one's future husband before she even had a Master to speak of, but she simply wanted more out of her existence than...this.
This, Nicoletta sighed--cock-sucking, body massage, and breeding--this summed up the whole of a wench's value in Federated Earth. Given the fact that males outnumbered females five hundred to one, she supposed it was little wonder that females were thought of as creatures, as possessions to be haggled over and bought. And yet she wanted more than this, wanted more than to be some man's lowly chattel...
She wanted to be free.