Fortunately, I hadn’t told anyone about my new power, so no one would know if I was… getting creative with the truth. As with my shapechanging, it was a simple matter of simply deciding what truths to tell, and letting them draw conclusions that happened to be what I wanted them to believe, while not actually telling a lie.
OK, so the ‘not lying to the crew’ thing was important for two reasons. First, because if it ever came out that I’d lied outright to them, then it could potentially rip the crew apart. And second, because I wasn’t convinced that there weren’t powers or abilities that could passively detect lies based on some kind of mental ability.
Either way, telling the truth (technically) in a vague and misleading way would be easier for the rest of the crew to accept than outright lies, especially when I let it drop that I was a streamer, and I wanted to keep some secrets, so they couldn’t be used against me, or against the group as a whole. ‘Need to know’ sucks, and no one likes hearing it, but I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t rather hear truth for the basics and need to know on the details, than to be lied to outright. That was why spooks were so disliked when I was in the Navy. They never told the truth, unless it was layered in a good two dozen lies first.
Still, I was definitely going to get something of an interrogation about my new ability. And, right on cue, Jaynie stepped forward and spoke up.
“So, boss. Mind telling us what the hell you did to the girl? Didn’t see you hit her with anything until you slapped the collar on her, and she was already calling you master before that.”
I chuckled. “Well, you could consider that a successful test. I call it Mindbreaker. Basically, I worm inside your shields, like I do with Mindread, and then do the equivalent of setting off a flashbang inside their skull. But this is the first time I’ve actually been able to use it, since I’m not about to go testing shit like this on you guys. Unless you’re volunteering, Jaynie?”
Jaynie quickly shook her head, and held up her hands in a rejection of the idea. “No, I’m good. Just wanted to be clear on what went down. You hadn’t really attacked at all, so her going down screaming just looked off. How’d you get the idea to do something like that, anyways?”
“Well, I had a couple inspirations, but you could say the only one I’ll talk about here is boot camp back when I joined the Navy in our world. They break you down so that you can be remade into something that suits their needs, same as with any branch of the armed forces.”
Jaynie shrugged. “All right. So it isn’t something you can do without working on it?”
I laughed. “No, it isn’t an instantly OP thing. If my new pet hadn’t been so distracted with the fight and let her shields slip because I angered her, I wouldn’t have been able to worm my way in, certainly not without alerting her.” I paused, and then got serious. “But if I can do it, then someone else can, too. So up your Special Defense when you can, and practice the tricks I taught you to keep people from using Mindread on you.”
As we were finishing that conversation, Cali came up from the path leading to cove where the Harvester was stashed. “The raiders are dealt with, Master. Shearah is overriding the security on the Harvester as we speak. We should be able to arrange for pickup before long.”
Shanni finally spoke up. “The remaining warriors of the sietch are due back soon. We have not been able to contact them since the raiders attacked. They would likely see you as a threat if they encountered you out of sietch, until you were far from this place. Especially if you called down flyers to pick up the Harvester here.”
I sighed. “All right. We’ll wait for daylight. If the Freemen haven’t shown up by then, we should have time enough to get away from the sietch before they show up. I’d rather not have any unfortunate accidents in the dark.” Looking back to Raven, I said, “Get in touch with the shuttle, and have them land by the Harvester. No sense hiding, and we don’t want to look too threatening. And it would probably be safer to have everyone in a single group, rather than getting spread out.”
Shanni nodded, and said, “By tradition, outsiders who enter a sietch unbidden are to be purged immediately. However, a service to the tribe has been done, without expecting reward. It would have been easy enough for you to attack the leader first, but you were worried about them taking hostages. As a Freemen warrior, I offer sanctuary of the sietch for this night, and provisions for your journey back to keen-Arra. I cannot do more without leave of the First.”
I nodded to her. That’s about what I expected. The warriors we had helped that allowed us to buy the Freemen-made stilsuits had said similar things about the Freeman ways. “Thank you. If there is a place we may rest the night, then in the morning we shall take the Harvester back to where the raiders stole it before activating the radio.”
One of the Freemen women came in at that point, and said, “Places have already been prepared for you, and those the raiders have captured.” Shanni looked like she was about to say something, but the woman shook her head. “It was the only honorable course open to you, Shanni. It did not take much wisdom to see what you would do.”
Other Freemen entered now, taking the bodies of the slain raiders away, most likely to deal with the aftermath of the battle however they normally did. Checking my HUD, I saw that we still had almost four hours until dawn.
Retiring to the rooms we’d been given, I took Sana and Nyna with me. The other girls didn’t look exactly happy, but they understood that I needed some time to thoroughly enjoy my new property. I also promised to properly reward them for their deeds when we got back to the ship.
The two slaves were in submissive poses, both collared and naked, kneeling by my bed, looking up at me with looks of adoration and, dare I say, worship. Even though I knew it was fake, I could see how people might get swayed by this kind of thing. Two beauties looking at me in such a way did wonders for my ego. Still, before I began enjoying them, there were a few things I needed to hear answers to.
“As your Master, you may both speak freely for the moment, with your true thoughts. If you do not keep a civil and respectful tone, however, I will simply remove your ability to speak altogether. Am I understood?”
“Yes, Master.” The two slaves spoke in unison, though while Nyna’s voice was resentful, and a bit despondent, Sana’s was clearly brimming with barely checked rage at what had happened to her.
“Good. Now, we’ll start with Nyna. I know you have some skill as a Mechanic and Pilot. That’s good, because I could use a backup to both those things on my ship. You got a raw deal, because you didn’t read that contract closely enough, but if you do good work, you’ll find that being my slave isn’t so bad. Your Stepford protocols will remain on until we get back to my ship. The desert is dangerous enough without having wild elements throwing a wrench in the works. Prove to me that you can be trusted, and that you’ll work hard, and those protocols will remain off. Right now, I only have the one ship and a shuttle. But some day I might find another ship, and on that day, I’ll have two ships with only the single captain.”
I trailed off, letting her imagination run wild on that idea for a bit. Then I said, “Of course, part of any decisions, whether on your protocols getting turned off or any future matters, will depend on both the skill and the enthusiasm with which you undertake the tasks I give you, whatever they might be, or whoever they might be with. Understand?”
Nyna gulped, but nodded her head, clearly getting what I was hinting at. “Yes, Master. I’ll do my best to make you happy with my skill and… and enthusiasm.” Well, she was trying, at least. That was something. She might actually turn into a decent crew member.
I turned to look at Sana. “As for you, you are not allowed to lie to me, ever. That is an order. Now, I want to hear how you became a raider. You’re clearly a better fighter than the rest of the idiots you had with you. You have actual training, unless I miss my guess. How did you become a raider?”
The knelfi warrior grit her teeth, and practically spat out, “I was a Sergeant in the Confederate Armed Forces, Special Operations Command. Fully trained on any weapon system in known space, and I used to be enhanced with augments to enhance speed, strength, and survival ability. Most of my augments were ripped out after my discharge, except for a few biological enhancements, like my toxin screen.”
“What were you discharged for?”
“Officially, it was a bad conduct discharge for assaulting an officer. The assault happened because the officer in question thought his rank meant he could take me whenever he wanted, and I thought differently. He was connected, and I wasn’t, so I was out, with a black record. No one wants to hire a troublemaker, so work was short until I found myself on kisArra. Muldoon used to run my group, and he thought he could take what he wanted, too. But he tried to drug me, so he got dead, and I took over the group. Now the group is dead, and I’m a slave.”
“And I trust you’re fully aware that, as a slave, your duties are whatever I tell you they are, even if it means riding my cock like it was the best gift anyone could ever give you?”
She bristled, but nodded, reluctantly. “Yes, you bastard. I’m aware that I don’t have any choices any more, now that you did whatever it was that ripped through my head.”
I smiled at that. “Yes, you were a good test of a Psy power I’d just developed. You are going to be a submissive pet the rest of your life unless you are able to persuade me that you have some worth besides warming my bed and helping to defend my ship. You may even find yourself reduced to being a literal pet, forced on all fours, and being unable to speak without permission. Your task is different from Nyna’s. If you prove to me you are worth more as someone capable of making decisions, I will keep you as you now are. Prove to me you are REALLY worth something, and I may even see if there is a way to bring your former personality to the surface for longer periods. Fail, and you won’t even remember your name. You’ll be just a former knelfi who now lives their life pretending to be a cat.”
Sana bristled at that, and said, “I’m not a damn animal! You imperials are all the fucking same! Racist bastards! I ought to kill the lot of you and be done! You—“
With a command of my bracer, I activated Sana’s Stepford protocols, and set them to ‘sexy kitty’. “That’s enough of that.”
“MEOW! Mrow? MROW!! HISSSSS!” Sana, it seemed, was not too happy with me.
Be sure to read my published works!
Frozen Soul series (Sci-Fi Supervillain story):
Frozen Soul https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071R125QT
Tales of the Void Traveler https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZ52G37
Rules-Free VRMMO Life (Dark Fantasy LitRPG):
Volume 1 - Tutorial https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071VPRNDB
Volume 2 - Beginning the Journey https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071VR7M41/
Volume 3 - Wyrmwood https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072QKVBYV
Volume 4 - To the Deeps https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073QSD9S4
Into the Black (Sci-Fi LitRPG):
Book I - Game Start https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071LT5WGL
Book II - Choson Ring https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071X3LL9D
Book III - Alpha Centauri https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073X8J9GF
The Kalipshae Affair (A First Contact Short Story): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0739V6R6T
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