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Jul. 7th, 2011

We've reached the end of the completed chapters, so I'll be posting fragments from here on. Please let me know what you think!

Dirt in the Sky, chapter 4a
614 words

After under-going a timeskip of approximately six sweeps, our hero undergoes a shocking change in fortune and at least meets another member of the permanent cast.


Equius was ten sweeps old, and felt very cold and alone.

The former sensation, at least, was almost certainly an illusion, brought on by what he felt to be an uncomfortably conspicuous lack of a shirt and the appraising looks that even now green-blooded, maroon-vested employees of the house were giving him as they moved to and fro across the wide room that lay just behind the stage. He had already been questioned, vetted, and thoroughly tested by both the house’s professional appraiser and two inspectors from rival houses, but he fancied he could still feel their eyes on him, mentally calculating their share of his worth. The other slaves and lusii that filled the room were little better; they sat or leaned against the walls in silent resignation, listening to the patter of the auctioneer with a thin veneer of affected inattention. Try as he might, Equius could not ignore it completely, knowing full well that soon he would be out there on that stage, and that all he could hope for was the chance that someone in the audience would be more interested in his actual skills than they were in exercising cruelty. He didn’t imagine the thoughts of his silent companions, who had been steadfast in refusing eye contact or conversation – for what was the point, when they were all about to be separated anyway? – were any different, though a selfish part of him rather thought it might be worse for him. Most of them were roughly his age, and so had presumably been raised for scenes such as this, but the only master he had ever known had been his moirail, Nepeta.

Nepeta…She’d wept when they were finally separated, protesting to the last – but quietly, too quietly for the Legislacerator to hear. “Let’s just go,” she’d whispered in his ear, as they embraced for the last time. “We could fight our way out, and run for it, they’d never expect that…” But he’d shaken his head, and with infinite care kissed her cheek. He couldn’t risk any harm coming to her, least of all because of him – so he’d released her and turned to the Legislacerator – who perhaps had heard Nepeta after all, for he offered Equius a small nod and immediately turned to go, gesturing for Equius to follow him. And then had come the long, lonely journey to the capital, allowing Equius plenty of time to contemplate his fate.

He’d been allowed to keep Aurthour, so he wasn’t truly alone. But in a way his lusus’s presence hurt as much as it comforted; Aurthour was just as helpless as he was, if not more so.

There was a stir at the far end of the room; Equius looked up in time to see a group of the house’s employees wheel in a large tank filled with water. The lights in the waiting room were dim, but as the tank came closer he could see some sort of trollish shape inside; he peered closer when it finally came to a stop just a few feet away, and was shocked when a grey face that seemed all sharp, needle-like teeth and purple-lined fins suddenly slammed up against the glass, accompanied by two webbed hands that produced barely-audible squeaks as they scratched the invisible barrier with helpless fury. He jumped back with a startled exclamation, prompting a few derisive laughs from the handlers and a few other slaves, but otherwise no one took much notice. He flushed with embarrassment anyway, watching as the seadweller, clad only in a pair of purple shorts tight enough to border on indecency, threw itself at the lid of the tank in a frenzy of rage.