this was given even less polish than normal. not as bad at that first thing, but i'm not incredibly happy with some of the wording. Spoiler: Onyx (shorter than i'd like but i want to introduce it) Onyx strolled into the slave-seller's office, having made an appointment. This business wasn't as nicely decorated as she was used to, but she wasn't looking for anything too special. The owner rose eagerly as she arrived. "Princess Raven, welcome! Any coffee, tea...wine?" His eyes glittered. Onyx was sure he'd increased the prices, knowing her pedigree. "I am well. I want to look at Nicole Anderson, Adam Vega, and Priya Lacroix." He paused. "You don't want to...look around?" He'd probably cleaned up some of the nicer-looking slaves hoping she'd make an impulse purchase. It was a common tactic. "Not unless you've had any come in that weren't on your website two hours ago." "No, my lady. Who would you like me to bring out first?" "The vampires, please. I'd like to do a physical inspection." "Yes, my lady. Right this way." He led her into a white tiled room, a little too brightly lit, with a drain in the floor. He offered her a plastic chair. "Sorry, my lady. You know how messy some of the fresher ones can be, a-heh." "Mm hm." She declined the chair and the seller slipped into the slave pens. The first thing she noticed was Adam's posture. Despite being gagged and shackled, his back was straight and he looked her in the eye before remembering to turn his gaze to the floor. Or pretending to remember. Onyx had read that he was crafty. The woman, on the other hand, looked like an angry cat. Her hair was tangled, and her body language was hunched and defensive. Her eyes were bright, the only part of her that resembled the pictures online, where she was rather pretty. Those had been taken before she was enslaved. Adam was patient and agreeable when his bindings were removed so she could feel his limbs and check his teeth. Priya tried snapping at her, to which Onyx responded by knocking out a tooth. "Don't worry, I'm buying her," she mentioned offhand to the startled merchant. "They are both fine. I would like to see Nicole now." The vampires were removed before the human was brought in. She was Nordic in coloration, and though some might find her attractive, Onyx thought she was plain. But she was suitable. "I will take her as well. Don't try to up-sell me, I will be annoyed and demand a discount." "I wouldn't dare, my lady." The human looked scared as she was led away. Onyx would be tempted to pity her, if she hadn't of known why the woman had died. After paying for her slaves and having them signed over, Onyx headed out to her ship while her purchases were readied. She owned a stout, black ship that was inspired by her younger sister's personal craft. That ship was an heirloom, and Onyx had built hers to be more comfortable. Larger bedrooms, no brig for prisoners, smaller engines, and fewer weapon caches. She had moved the living room furniture into the central navigation room, and turned the old rec area into a proper dining room. Her slaves were brought outside and lined up. She'd asked for Priya to be rebound and gagged for easier transport. Onyx had made up three small cells with attached bathrooms. She'd had too many spare bedrooms to begin with. Once the vampiress had been dragged into her cell, Onyx closed the door, loosening the shackles and leaving Priya to vent. Onyx had little patience for screaming. Adam remained outwardly agreeable. She led him into the cell next to Priya's. "Make yourself comfortable. I'll be back to speak with you in a moment. You may call me Onyx. Would you prefer Mr. Vega or Adam?" "I didn't realize I'd get a choice, Princess." "It makes things easier when people pretend to be civil, isn't that right, Senator?" He paused to choose his words, and Onyx continued. "I know what you've done. But you aren't always foolish. If you cooperate, I will treat you kindly. If you prove I can trust you, I will give you a longer leash. It is unlikely you will have true freedom for a long time. I don't want you to cause trouble for me or anyone else. So, Mr. Vega or Adam?" His eyes grew darker and more calculating, though his expression remained passive. "Adam, please." "Of course." Finally she led the human inside. "This is your room, you may call me Onyx. I won't spy on you unless you give me reason to. You will not be able to harm yourself or anyone else." Nicole's voice was shaky. "Why did you take me?" "No real reason. Honestly, I figured if you came from the same world as the other two, I might as well." The human swallowed, speaking more bravely. "My kind see slavery as a barbaric practice." "I would agree! The enslavement of innocents is inexcusable. And yet, you died because you betrayed your allies." "They refused to give-" "Ms. Anderson, you would have made a terrible vampire, as proven by your treachery. I don't blame them for being cautious about turning someone." "But-" Onyx silenced her for a moment with a spell. "The other woman was turned as a last resort to save her life. Frankly, the fact that you begged to be made into a vampire was probably seen as a red flag. I don't blame your employer for wanting to make sure he wouldn't regret it. Now, I didn't buy you to argue with you. If you are good I will give you freer reign of the ship. If you are very good I might free you one day. You have fewer evil deeds under your belt than the other two. Think about it. And remember that I can sense your intentions." Nicole glared at her with puffy eyes. "I almost forgot, I'm taking you three to a store soon to pick you up some clothing. Take a shower or something in the meantime, if you wish. If you ask nicely, I might buy you some toiletries you'd prefer." Onyx smiled at the human and closed the door. Then she had a cool drink and rested for a few minutes before knocking on Adam's door. "It is open." She opened the door and smiled at him. "Pretend civilities, remember? Now, you are familiar with Ms. Lacroix. Could you let her know we'll be going to a clothing store soon? If she manages not to bite or hiss at anyone I might buy her some nicer toiletries. It makes me look good if my slaves are well-kept, Adam. And I do prefer when those under my roof are comfortable." "If I may, Lady Onyx...what are your plans for us?" "I am readying some land that I wish to build my manor on. I'll be breaking ground for a garden and getting other things in order. I know you aren't familiar with physical labor, but I'm sure you can manage some gardening. I may have other work for you later." "You will have trouble getting Priya to work." Onyx smiled coldly. "I have a different plan for Ms. Lacroix. I enjoy having pretty women around, and she enjoys fine things..." For the first time, Adam let his anger show. "I will not allow-" Onyx giggled. "I won't touch her without permission, fool. I thought it would be amusing to keep her as a pet. But unlike her old houseboys and 'muses', I won't be leaving her in bloody pieces. I am wealthy enough that I can keep a woman around to spoil for no reason than I wish for it. If she wants to mope around instead, one more mouth to feed is hardly an expense." She studied his expression. "I encourage you to take comfort in each other, if you wish. That is one of the reasons I bought all three of you, there is some familiarity already." Adam cleared his throat. "Ah, yes...how is Nicole?" "Well enough, Scared, but I think she'll grow more comfortable. Would you like to speak to Priya now? Our appointment is within the hour. Will the two of you need any blood?" "I will ask her, my lady." "The title isn't necessary, Adam." "I know, my lady. But it bothers you." She chuckled. "Carry on, then." Onyx carefully let him into Priya's cell. She didn't need to be cautious, a barrier was on all three doorways so that no one could enter or exit without her permission. But Priya didn't need to begin her stay by running face-first into a barrier. Onyx doubted it would improve her mood. I'm uncertain how often i need to emphasize that they are doing something with magic instead of physically...it might grow repetitive. Also Adam is judging Onyx, her limits, what gets her angry, etc. He is going to do his best to be a model slave in order to gain trust and 'freedom', but he wants to pick at her too. It doesn't bother Onyx to be called by a title, he just assumes it does because she clarified that he could use her first name. Nicole is very afraid (she's seen how the vampires treat their slaves, and she won't be certain of her treatment until Onyx proves she will not be cruel for no reason) but in time she will act more like Adam does. they were one-time allies. Their attempt to fuck over Adam's fellow vampire's failed. Priya goes with whoever lets her be cruel to her prey, and whoever has the most power. She will be annoyed that she cannot play with her food, but she will try to cozy up to whoever is the most powerful, as she always has. Onyx's main reason for claiming these three is that she knows her sister has contacts in their old world, and she doesn't want them escaping from a less-capable master and making trouble for Orchid. Also she thought Priya was pretty.