| Find Chapter 1 here
Chapter 2 is here
Chapter 3 is here
Chapter 4 is here
Chapter 5 is here
Chapter 6 is here
Chapter 7 is here.
Chapter 8: here
Chapter 9: here
Chapter 10: here
Chapter 11 (R-Rated) here
Chapter 12: here
Chapter 13: here
Chapter 14: here
Chapter 15: here
Chapter 16: here
Chapter 17: here
Chapter 18: here
Chapter 19: here
Chapter 20: here
Chapter 21: here
You can skip Chapter 11 without losing the plot.
Sefton moved on to another part of the floor, and noticed as he did that there was blood spray on the walls.
“Clean water,” he grunted, and used the excuse to go clean out the bucket, wash his rag, and fill the bucket with fresh water before he started working on the clay-covered wall. “What did you mean?” he asked, when Jaco was several slates away and he was using a tiny brush to get blood from the texture in the clay.
“Which part? I mean, it’s obvious you’re the nurturing sort, you’re not gonna get mad about that, are you?”
“No, of course not. I like kids. I’d think it was a selling point except I’m pretty sure my selling point was ‘hey, I have a son the right age too.’” He tried not to be bitter about it. Lots of people were married off for worse reasons than that. “I mean – being, what, bred for it?”
“What did they teach you in school, kiddo?”
“History, math, science. Arts, lots of arts, and a lot of homemaking, of course. I don’t think you’re senior enough to call me kiddo until you get your chains off and I haven’t,” he added grumpily.
“Science and history, hunh? All right, I’ll admit, this is stuff I picked up from my sister’s books, and those were when she was preparing to do two years at the Academy. Not the sort of stuff they give to just anyone, I guess.”
“Your sister let you read her books?” Sefton didn’t even try to hide his jealousy.
“She brought me a couple, too. I’ll let you read them later, if you want. Might help with this discussion. So. We were brought here for a purpose, right?”
“Yeah, everyone knows that.”
“But the planet isn’t set up for the progenitors, the people that brought us here. So they made little changes.”
“Okay. Still not surprising me.”
“But all that tinkering didn’t just include the physical differences – we’re shorter than the progenitors but we can soak up energy from the sun differently than they do; we can breathe underwater, that sort of thing. They also wanted to make sure we did our job. So they built in behavior patterns, and then built in, ah, I think they’re called cultural conditions. The sort of thing that says that certain behaviors are encouraged or discouraged by the group as a whole.”
“How do you build in old granthers and prissy young wives glaring at you?” Sefton frowned at the stain on the floor. He didn’t think it was a new one. But he was going to get it out anyway.
“Well, I’m not sure, but I think they sent the first generation down with certain behaviors literally conditioned in. We don’t have the technology to do that, but some of the stuff I read says they did. So they built us to be good little – whatever we are.”
“‘Whatever we are?’” Sefton frowned at Jaco. “What, you don’t know?”
“Not really. I mean, I have guesses, so did my sister, but when you’re looking at it, so we’re built to survive here. We’re built to want to make communities and babies. But they didn’t build us to not want to fight, to not want to…” He trailed off, gesturing with both hands, making the chains rattle and jangle. “They just told us we can’t. So many things we’re told we can’t that we still want to do. So either the people who dropped us here weren’t as good as they thought they were, or there’s a reason for the want.”
Sefton thought about it. He felt like there was something he was just missing, something right at the corner of his mind that was what he needed to know, but he couldn’t quite reach it. He sighed. “I don’t know. It seems like it sucks.”
“Sometimes it does,” Jaco admitted. “You don’t feel that way?”
Sefton concentrated on a stain for a few minutes. “I… I want to be married and have kids. I want to be a good husband. I mean, some of that,” he lowered his voice and moved closer to Jaco. “I mean,” he repeated. “I don’t want to get in trouble. I don’t want to be a bad husband.”
“But sometimes you don’t like the things that doing those things mean?” Jaco’s voice was just as soft, and his forehead was furrowed. “I get that, ki- brother. I do. You want to know that the people that matter approve of you, and you don’t want all the shitty stuff that happens when you’re not doing things they approve of – I mean, even the guilt when you don’t get caught can be hard, right?”
Sefton nodded. Jaco was being far more understanding than he’d expected from someone who was still in chains years into his marriage. It made him a little suspicious and a little confused. “I-”
He couldn’t bring himself to say it. Even thinking it seemed disloyal.
“You’ve got a really bad case.” Jaco patted his shoulder sympathetically. “Can’t be easy. But if I were going to guess, you probably were angry that your lover was sold into marriage-”
“Special friend,” Sefton hissed. “You can’t call him… you can’t…”
“It’s the right term, isn’t it? Besides, nobody but you or I is listening. Angry your special friend was taken away, angry you had to marry his mother, angry you didn’t have any choice in the matter. I mean, anyone would be angry.”
Sefton stared at the floor and the cloth he was using to clean it. “A good husband wouldn’t be,” he tried quietly.
“That’s nonsense and whale turds. Anyone would be angry. You don’t have any choice in your life. You had choice, you had Isham, and then that was all taken away.”
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