Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Elias Stark, Lex/Jamie, Dre Costner, Jack Sullivan
Series Notes: In the 23rd century, Earth is a technologically-advanced society that practices the ancient institution of slavery. As Bruce and Clark continue to juggle being lovers as well as Master and slave, Bruce continues his Abolitionist work, and a shocking Family Secret is revealed. Meanwhile, the Queen Family welcomes a new member, and Steve and Hal meet their Destinies, although neither one realizes it yet. The entire series can be found here.
Genres: Drama, AU
Rating: (this chapter): PG-13
Summary: Lex learns some interesting information at his latest Hunt Committee meeting.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): April 27, 2008
Date Of Posting: February 6, 2009
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1703
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Shall be shards
Of glittering death,
And the rivers
Run with blood.
And those who remain
Shall be as the hunted,
In their bondage,
Scattered to the winds.
Until the day
When the Messiah
On freedom’s rainbow
And lead the faithful
Song Of The Savior
"The Book Of Rao"
IN THEIR BONDAGE
“Watch and observe, ladies and gentlemen.”
The screen flickered, a grainy image appearing. A figure flew across the screen, clad in a tight red costume with blue piping. He swooped down, heading for an enclosure filled with people dressed in rags.
Lex frowned. Some of the outbuildings looked like one of their outposts on the Rim. That probably explained the poor quality of the transmission, beamed from light-years away.
He watched the flying man.
No jetpack. A Kryptonian under a yellow sun.
Lex jerked slightly as an explosion of green liquid spattered all across the screen. The Kryptonian’s body jerked, his hand going to his throat. His entire body seized up, and he began falling from the sky.
Lex watched the man writhe on the ground, face contorted in agony. He felt his heart pound as the hand in his lap clenched and unclenched under the table.
He glanced away from the death throes, his gaze settling on Jamie. His slave was studiously avoiding the screen from his chair against the wall. Lex was pleased. A tender heart was a good thing in a slave.
He resolutely turned back to the screen. His father would be contemptuous of his own momentary lapse if he was here to see Lex’s reaction.
Even with the poor quality of the picture, Lex could see the green tinge to the skin as the man gasped his final breaths.
Elias Stark’s voice cut into the quiet of the room.
“It took this latest Kryptonian an hour to die.” Elias drank from his water glass. “Messy, but effective.”
Lex felt his stomach knot. He had seen an execution like this before at an earlier meeting, but time had not soothed the harsh reality.
“Green Kryptonite is highly effective, of course.” Elias frowned. “Only the Government is allowed to possess this wonderful substance, but Earth has a limited supply.”
The lone woman on the committee, Dre Costner, spoke up. “Isn’t there an unlimited supply floating around Krypton’s past coordinates?” She looked over the silver rim of her glasses.
An eyebrow lifted. “Was?”
Stark looked a little uncomfortable. “There was still plenty floating around at the site of the planet, but pirates and smugglers have done their work.” He took another drink of water. “Damned Corellians. And people wonder why we have a Decree on them.”
“If it’s illegal to own Green K, whom are they selling it to? Certainly not the Empire.”
“No, not the Empire.” Stark smiled. “They sell it covertly to planetary governments, sometimes dictators or kings who live on yellow sun worlds. Those in power like to keep a hold on it.”
“Haven’t there been reports about smugglers bringing Green K to Earth?”
Stark’s expression was unreadable. “I haven’t heard anything like that.”
“And what about the rumor that there is a highly-specialized market for Kryptonians taken by the Government but not executed, instead sold as slaves?”
“That would be a very highly specialized market. If a Master took a Kryptonian to a yellow sun world, he’d be in big trouble.”
Dre’s expression was very cool. “Could there be a way to suppress their powers?”
“Not that I know of.”
Lex’s interest piqued. Could the Control Committee be working on something like that?
“And let’s say the rumors are true, Ms. Costner. A Master or Mistress knowingly taking a Kryptonian slave would risk imprisonment and confiscation of all their property by harboring a being under Hunt Decree.”
“What if they didn’t know?”
“They would have to prove it pretty conclusively.”
Lieutenant Jack Sullivan, Stark’s young aide, raised his hand. “But aren’t Kryptonians against slavery? Wouldn’t it be against their laws to enslave them?”
Dre looked impatient. “We all know that for Humans, once born a slave, always a slave, and the reverse is true, but we also know that other races have different rules. Beings captured in war or kidnapped to become slaves are sold all the time in the Empire. The Rigellians and Orions have trafficked in such unsavory practices for centuries. It’s better regulated now, but if someone was smart enough to hide a Kryptonian’s identity, they could get away with it. That highly specialized market would be for Masters looking for extremely exotic slaves, and the thought of an all-powerful Kryptonian, de-powered or not, under your control would be a rush for certain, sexually and otherwise.”
Lex silently agreed, the thought of such power at one’s command exhilarating.
“Risky, but I suppose worth it since you can keep a Kryptonian enslaved forever,” Stark said.
Jack’s blue eyes were stormy. “But the Slave Laws state here on Earth that if a Master wishes to free a slave who is not Human, he can petition the slave’s Home Government and if they give permission, the slave can be freed.”
“That’s certainly true, Lieutenant, but Krypton has no Government to petition anymore,” Stark said dryly.
Dre frowned, absently twirling a dreadlock. “This smuggling of Green K…it could be a way to control those Kryptonians in chains.”
“Highly fanciful,” Stark scoffed.
“Would it? A Kryptonian might choose slavery over certain death and so would keep quiet about his or her true identity, but would they stop trying to escape? A Master would have to be vigilant.”
“This story of Kryptonians as slaves sold in some highly secret exotic market is just an urban myth,” Stark said, impatience in his tone.
Dre frowned but said nothing further. Instead, Lex spoke up.
“How many Kryptonians have you killed this way?”
“At least a dozen, but there are other methods. As long as you have Green K, you’re all set.”
“Aren’t there hundreds of Kryptonians still out there? Surely not all of them were on Krypton when the end came.”
“Certainly, but the Hunt Decree has taken care of most of them. The ragged survivor bands out there aren’t much of a threat, but a Hunt means no exceptions.” Stark leaned forward. “We’re eradicating the bands as soon as we come upon them, of course.”
Dre said, “You say they’re no threat, but aren’t they ready to rally around a Messiah?”
“A Messiah?” Lex asked.
Dre nodded. “Kal-El. As son of Jor-El and Lara of the Ruling House of El, he would be uniquely placed to rally the survivors under one banner.”
“I thought that Kal-El perished on Krypton.”
“He might well have, though it’s said that his parents put him in a rocket that Jor-El had designed and launched him just in time.” Dre twirled her stylus. “Even if that were so, the rocket was probably destroyed by a meteor or something, but it’s a great myth to keep the people’s hopes up.”
“If the story is true, he must have handed on a non-yellow sun world, or perhaps he was one of those already killed.”
Stark waved his hand. “There are always pretenders.”
“You underestimate the power of symbolism, General,” Lex said mildly.
Stark shrugged. “A Hunt Decree trumps any fairy tale.”
Lex doodled the name Kal-El on his notepad. “Speaking of Decrees, shouldn’t we clean up some old ones?”
“Such as?” Stark raised an eyebrow.
“Such as the Romany Decree we discussed at an earlier meeting. Do we really need to continue to carry a Decree established in the late nineteenth century by people convinced all Roma were thieves and baby-stealers?” Lex sat back in his chair. ”What threat are a bunch of Gypsies, anyway?”
Stark smirked. “The Roma are exceptional at deception, Lex. Despite the Decree some have managed to survive through the centuries.”
Stark shrugged. “It’s whispered that they have methods to conceal their true selves.”
“You can’t conceal DNA.”
“Who knows the way of the Roma?”
When the meeting broke up, Jamie immediately attached himself to Lex.
They left the building and emerged onto the streets of Washington, D.C.
For a moment, Lex just stared off into the distance, then said, “Come.” Jamie followed.
It was cold even in D.C., November winds blowing as scarves whipped around and hats were clutched by hurrying pedestrians. The ends of Lex’s long coat flapped, Jamie buttoning his own warm coat as they walked.
They traveled several blocks, then Lex asked, “Pretty barbaric way to die.”
Lex squinted against a gust of wind. “What do you know about Kal-El of Krypton?”
“Just what Ms. Costner said.”
“Mmm.” Lex put gloves on and shoved his hands into his pockets. “I would like to know more about this legend.”
Lex smiled slightly. He would have a complete report in a short amount of time.
“I know that your eventual goal is to join the committee for control of Kryptonians, but…”
“You may speak freely.”
“Is it really productive to just kill all these people?”
“What, you mean the Government doesn’t do what’s best for us?”
Jamie’s mouth quirked at the obvious sarcasm. “Wouldn’t it make more sense to form an alliance with a race that can gain incredible powers under the right sun?”
“Well, my Prize, the Kryptonians have this little peccadillo: they’re Abolitionists.”
“You see, the Earth Government frowns upon such an attitude.” Lex braced himself as the wind blew strongly. “The Empire loathes it.”
Jamie frowned. “Do you think that rumor about Kryptonians sold as slaves is true?”
Lex shrugged. “There are always wild tales out there, though even the wildest have shreds of truth.” He blinked as a harsh gust of wind blew down the street. “Still, it wouldn’t hurt to keep our ears open.”
They fell silent for several minutes as they walked, then Lex asked, “Care for some lunch, my beauty?”
Jamie smiled. “I’d like that, Master.”
Lex and his companion walked into the wind.