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Title: The Seasons of Conscription Part 2
Fandom: Homestuck
Characters: Sollux/Eridan,
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Consent issues, discussion of slavery, mpreg

""Those two have been hidden away in your hive for a while, haven't they Gamzee? I wonder what they could be doing?"

"That nooksniffer Ampora's probably making Sollux beg or audition to be his slave."

"Don't say that Karcrab." Feferi didn't want to think that he former moirail would do that to Sollux. He wouldn't be doing this, offering himself up to Eridan if he thought that she could defeat the Condesce.

"Uh...maybe they're t-talking it out. He was really nice when I asked about it"

"Why'd you want to be motherfucking up and doing something like that Tavbro?"

"I'm a uh...crippled lowblood. If I don't belong to someone who can protect me I w-will be culled."

"Did Eridan...refuse to take you?" She didn't want to think that he'd do something like that, but Tavros wasn't wearing a chain.

"No he uh...promised to keep a place for me. But uh...he said I should w-wait in case...well he doesn't want a concubine who resents him."

"You're keeping a promise from a breeder in reserve in case nothing better comes along? Way to go Pupa. Didn't think you had it in you."

"It isn't like that." Feferi didn't think she was the only one who found that unconvincing. "Really. He says it would make him look bad if he made me his concubine then, uh...promoted me to consort in less than a sweep. And he said he was waiting for three offers before he decided what to do with his household."

"A Fertile Lord is under no obligation to wait for his inferiors to offer themselves."

"But it's purretty nice of Eridan to let people come to him."

"Tavros did state that Eridan does not wish his concubines to resent him - and I expect forcing them into his harem would lead to that."

"Did Ampora say what he was waiting for?"

"Not the offer Sollux made. He uh...did want Sollux to make an offer but n-not that one." Tavros ducked his head, looking away from Karkat and Fefer. "He doesn't really pity Sollux, I think they're taking so long because Eridan needs to know if Sollux can give him what he wants."

"He wants Sollux as his kismesis." Feferi glubbed unhappily at the thought. "Isn't that...unfair? Eridan's a purple breeder, how can Sollux win?" Especially if he was the only thing keeping Sollux out of a helmscolumn. Eridan had all the advantages; strength, blood rank, social rank - failed heiresses who ended up in a breeder's harem were always given to purples.

"Heeeeeeeey! I managed to face him. We broke up because he was so easy to beat. Not Eridan's fault if Sollux can't figure out how to win." Kanaya looked annoyed at Vriska's sneer too. "I mean he was practically telling the nerd how to claim that quadrant by force."

"You don't force someone into a quadrant. That never works."

"It would be highly improper to presume to even suggest oneself for a Fertile Lord's quadrants."

"Legally a mature breeder can't break up with a kismesis, not unless she kills them, or cripples them and forces them into his black harem. Nor can a registered kismesis leave the breeder she belongs to."

"In summary Vriska, I do not believe Eridan ever saw you as a true kismesis." There was a hint of satisfaction in Kanaya's voice. "As I understand it he allowed you to define - and redefine - the terms of your conflicts."

"What sort of half-assed kismessitude is it where you let your kismesis win all the time?"

"The sort where it's more about securing and humouring a partner to complete an important task you can't be certain of handling alone." Eridan had been far more upset that Vriska didn't want to hunt with him any more than about losing a potential concupiscent quadrant when he'd broken up with Vriska. "He would have been perfectly happy just being fronds with you." He'd ranted enough about Vriska's attitude to make Feferi wonder why he even bothered playing along with her stupid fantasies.

"Ah...Eridan did say that a breeder who can't uh...handle an unwelcome suitor might as well get himself spayed straight off, and save everyone the trouble when she screws up."

"I thought breeders were supposed to be purretty agressive in a relationship. But you two are making Eridan sound pawsitively laid back about it."

"Well, he does know that forcing someone into a quadrant just causes problems." Feferi giggled, looking at Vriska. It would be easy to hate her for her attitude - she was even more entitled than Eridan was. And she'd hurt Eridan pretty badly in the past. But there was no-one who could auspitise between them, and even if Kanaya hadn't taken Vriska's black quadrant already, Eridan had made her responsible enough not to start anything seriously concupiscent with anyone who'd need that quadrant in the near future.

"Uh...Eridan said he has three lists of offers. He could fill his harem three to ten times over from each of them."

"And the bulgemuncher is just keeping them hanging on like that?"

"He's said no to one list, he's just keeping it in case he needs black daliances. And the other two lists have been told to uh...look for alternatives, just to let him know if they find them." Tavros looked down, fiddling with the hem of his shirt. "He t-told me to look through the longest list, and let him know if I uh...had problems with anyone on it. He rejected all the trolls I told him about." Tavros sounded guilty about that, and Feferi was about to reassure him when Equius stepped forward and rested a hand on his shoulder.

"You did your duty in providing the honoured Fertile Lord with the information he requested Nitram. You can hardly be held responsible for what he chooses to do with it." And Eridan had probably made the right choice. Any troll who couldn't get along with Tavros had to be trouble. "Are you permitted to tell us more about these lists?"

"Uh...Eridan didn't tell me to keep quiet, but I don't want to upset him."

"But I do." Sollux looked happy, psionics holding him up in the air. But when she looked at his wrist he was wearing a chain wrapped around it, with an amethyst spade and Eridan's sign-tag.

"Are you certain? If Eridan decided to take you as his black consort rather than his kismesis..." Or as a red concubine.

"He'th regithtered me and ordered the bracer. He'th got planth and he told me about them. FF, KK, he wantth both of you ath red conthortth."

"But...he doesn't pity me." He'd been humiliatingly clear about how much he didn't pity her when they'd broken up as moirails. At least they'd stayed friends.

"Greedy nookwhiffer wants two consorts. Is he even allowed to do that?"

"A breeder may arrange his household however he chooses. The only thing that would be illegal is for Eridan to have a black harem or consort and a kismesis, or start a red harem after acquiring a matesprit."

"But I do pity you FF. And ED doethn't want you to die or be enthlaved and gelded, then given to an older breeder. Having you ath hith conthort when I'm red for'th a way to beat me, at leatht ED thayth that'th what motht people will think."

"I'm the prize?" Was she supposed to feel flattered by that? "Eridan doesn't think I can beat the Condesce either then?"

"I gueth not." Sollux pulled her into his arms and she didn't fight it. "I'm thorry."

"Don't be. I sort of knew it already. Do you still want to be my matesprit, I mean officially?" They'd kept it informal because if Feferi won she'd have been able to keep Sollux safe and claim him then, but she hadn't wanted to give the Condesce another weapon to use against her. But now that Eridan was going to keep Sollux safe he needed a matesprit who could be with him.

"Oh yeth. If you're wearing my ring everyone will know you committed to me firtht and I mean enough for you to keep it on even after Ed'th taken you. are going to tak the offer?"

"Yes. If...he'll still let us be together?" She thought Eridan still cared about her, enough to work on reform from inside the system. And she didn't have any real base of support to make changes even if she did face and defeat the Condesce.

"Yeth. And we can fill pailth for the droneth together. ED told me he expectth me to come to you without him knowing."

"That sounds dangerous." Breeders were possessive about their harems, and Eridan would have the right to kill Sollux for something like that if he wanted to. Not to mention that he'd look weak if he didn't do something to her as well, at least if any outsider learned about it.

"Only if we're caught by anyone but ED. And even then he thaid I'd be given to him to deal with."

"And you really think that greedy fuckass won't use it to screw you over?"

"KK, I offered to be in ED's harem. I didn't think he pitied me. TZ, what'th he allowed to do to me if I'm caught?"

"Anything he wants if he catches you pailing his red consort. But he can only kill you or cripple you if he does it at once." In the heat of the moment, that made sense. "If he does cripple you he is legally required to take you into his harem if you would be culled otherwise."

"Thee KK. ED doethn't want anything black with a thlave. He thaid he'd keep me in hith harem for a few nightth and leave me all marked up from pailing if I let anyone elthe catch me."

"You trust him to do that?" Feferi should feel offended by the doubt in Karkat's voice. She'd agreed to Eridan's plan without picking at his morals like that.

"He jutht proved that I can KK. FF, I need to get ED a ring, don't I?"

"That's traditional." But Sollux wouldn't be able to afford anything up to Eridan's standards. "Do you want me to pay for it?"

"How much of an inthult ith that? Compared to what I can afford, brath and glath?" Was that all? Her surprise must have shown, because Sollux gave her a sheepish smile and a shrug. "I didn't really thave for quadrant jewellery. I never expected to be allowed to have quadrantth. And there were alwayth thingth I needed to buy inthtead of thaving."

"Giving him somefin cheap would be a reely bad idea Sollux. He has to wear it and somefin that looks cheap says you don't really care." And they were counting on making Sollux and Eridan look obssessive over each each other.

"Yeah, I figured. You don't mind? I wath thinking thilver and amber for your ring, make it elegant." Sollux grinned down at her. "I want to get thomething gaudy for ED. He'th not exactly thubtle."

"No, he isn't." Feferi giggled. "That means it has to be expensive, or it's going to look terribubble." Simple and elegant meant that as long as it was made well the materials didn't matter as much. "We can get together and pick out something we both like for our rings, and you can choose what you want for Eridan too. Would you like silver and garnet, or white gold and pink diamond?"

"I don't care. They jutht have to look like a proper pair."

"So glad you two are happy with your plotting. You don't really expect me to roll over and be Eridan's happy little bed slave, Sollux."

"Karcrab! A consort isn't a slave. A red consort definitely isn't a slave."

"Guess that level a naivvety's one a the things that makes you pity her Sol." Feferi felt her cheeks heat at Eridan's casual dismissal of her and her opinons. "Kar, I'm not askin' you to be mine. I wwant you to knoww it's an option for you. I can't think of anythin' that'd keep you safe and free - Sol's useful as a helmsman, but you and Fef are threats to the empire, just by livvin'. If you'vve got plans against the empire I don't wwant to knoww."

"Oh yes, you believe in all that blood shit."

"That isn't fair Karcrab. It isn't like we can just not turn up when the Fleet comes." Maybe she could - although she'd still be hunted down, mutilated and handed over to some ancient breeder as a sex slave - but Eridan, Gamzee and even Equius couldn't. "Eridan, I'm willing to be your red consort. We're exchanging rings, so..."

"I should wwait and make a claim once you're wwearin' Sol's ring? Wwant me to make it look like I forced you?"

"Yeth!" Feferi blinked. That was...emphatic.

"I don't mind, but wouldn't that make you look reely cruel?" Or was that what he wanted, to look callous and controlling? As if he'd disregarded her own wishes and desires?

"It makes it look less about you and more about Sol. That's kind a wwhat matters here. You do all knoww I'm supposed to invvolvve my captain in my first season aboard her ship until I get one of my owwn?"

"Fuck, that has to suck."

"It's not that bad." Eridan didn't sound at all upset at the prospect. "I get to choose howw they're invvolvved. Technically I could rape the captain in front of his creww, and she wwouldn't havve the right to retaliate."

"Like that's going to stop them."

"I don't want you to do thomething like that ED." Sparks were forming around Sollux's eyes. "I'd have to do thomething if you cheat on me that way."

"Yeah, that's wwhy I wwouldn't do it unlesss I wwas goin' to kill him and claim her command. It'd be evven more humiliatin' for her than being raped in front of his creww. Don't you think Eq?"

"Yes my lord. Everyone knows that an honoured Fertile Lord taked his breeding partners as he chooses, but to be defended by a lowblood, or worse treated as nothing more than a tool to further a kismessitude with a lowblood..."

"Is that what you bereef about me? I just agreed to be Sollux and Eridan's prize."

"No Heiress, your situation is entirely different."

"How?" The only difference she could see was that her involvement would be red, and this hypthetical captain would be infringing on the black quadrant.

"Yeah Eq, tell us all the traditionalist interpretation of my household arrangements."

"That you coerced Captor into a mockery of a kismessitude in order to leverage it to obtain a tyrian for your harem."

"An ungelded tyrian." Eridan looked oddly uncomfortable. "It makes a difference. I talked about this wwith Sol. He knowws I'm not usin' him."

"I don't believe that."

"You don't havve to Kar." But Eridan sounded hurt, and Feferi couldn't blame him. "Fef, wwe need to talk about my harem. I'vve got a list of nearly thirty highbloods wwho asked to be taken into my harem and wwanted to stay on the list evven after I told them I'd only consider them if I picked up a red consort wwith higher blood than they had." He sounded ruefully amused. "You really hate the idea of me havvin' concubines besides Tavv then I'll just send them all final rejections. But keepin' a harem makes me look less radical and means you and Sol are that little bit safer."

That made sense, but even so..."And you want highbloods."

"Not sure. I'm plannin' on lettin' them pair up for the drones if they wwant to wwhatevver I end up wwith, but if I get highbloods I'll breed wwith them, and if I pick out the cripples from the lowbloods wwho offered no-one'll be surprised wwhen I mostly breed outside my harem and keep them for relaxin' wwith. Really it depends on if you think you can keep a harem of highbloods under control, and keep them from harassin' Tavv."

"You're going to choose highbloods when you could save eight lives?" Fef hadn't thought of that.

"If I had a lowblood red consort before Fef it'd be easy to refuse the highbloods. Since I don't havve to livve wwith them the wway Fef does I'm givvin' her the choice."

"You'd prefer the lowblood cripples." She wasn't sure how she felt about that. On the one hand, yes it would save their lives, but something about the idea bothered her. "Why?" Maybe if she understood what Eridan was thinking she'd feel better about it.

"Besides Kar's point about savvin' livves? Like I said before it'd be a lot easier for you to keep Tavv safe if my other concubines're all lowblood cripples like him. And it makes certain types of politics easier for me if I don't owwn a bunch of highbloods. It's less of a status symbol, but it looks a whole lot more traditionalist."

Making her and Sollux that little bit safer, but...

"Doethn't that make you look weak ED?"

"Me? No. It's makes Fef look wweak; not only did she let me force her into my harem, but I don't think she can keep any troll above jade under control - and evven then I picked out cull bait. It makes me look pragmatic, more than a little ruthless, and kind of manipulativve."

"I'd rather save lives Eridan." She could afford to look weak now, she didn't matter anymore, or she wouldn't once Eridan claimed her. "I...will you still push for those incremental improvements you used to talk about?" When she'd thought she could just defeat the Condesce by virtue of her closer relationship with Gl'bgolyb and abolish the hemospectrum with a single decree.

"Of course." He sounded surprised she even asked. That was good. "You get that I'll need to focus on the areas I'm expected to havve an interest in at first, right?"

"Like a breeder's got any reason to care about the problems we have to face. Especially not a purple like you."

"For the progressivves and radicals I can talk about it bein' a shame so many a us seem to think wwe havve to force trolls into our harems. After all I got enough offers to fill my harem thirteen times ovver, evven before conscription. For traditionalists and moderates there's the fact that forcin' someone into your harem's an admission you're not good enough to get them any other wway. I scored myself an ungelded tyrian, and I only forced her 'cause that wwas the best wway to send my kismesis into a fit a rage. Pretty sure I could havve gotten her wwithout evven havvin' to hint. She certainly didn't try to fight it."

"No, you jutht uthed me ath your go between."

"Yeah, but you really think any traditionalist's goin' to see that as a possibility?"

"Highblood douchnozzles couldn't possibly believe we're capable of thinking for ourselves."

"You don't think I beleive that, do you, Karcrab?"

"I have learned that you can find a lack of intelligence and a refusal to use the intelligence one possesses in even the higher blood castes."

"To be fairer than they deservve, some a that's an age thing. Trads tend to be older anyway, and the ones wwith real powwer are older than Sol'd get normally. Evven wwithout the wwhole helmsman burnout issue. Scorin' an ungelded tyrian's the only reason they'll think I'm wworth talking to before they're allowed to challenge me."

Challenge? Feferi had known Eridan had to fight and kil other breeders in the past - some of the lusii he'd given her were distinctive. But she hadn't realised it had been in actual, formal challenges, or that he'd still have to fight them as an adult.

"And what happens to Sollux and Feferi if you lose?"

"The breeder wwho kills me gets my harem. I...she has the choice a keepin' or killin' them as he pleases. Or settin' them free a course, not that most of us wwould. For me it's depend on howw old my prizes wwere, if they wwanted to be free and if they'd just be culled or wworse if I freed them. The second Sol's not my kismesis someone's goin' to try to 'break him to the helm' and wwithout the excuse of a kismesis to lend her to, and a former quadrant, wwhoevver kills me wwill be under a lot more pressure to geld Fef."

"And what would be different if you'd jutht accepted my offer?"

"I'd look evven more like I wwas pullin' a powwer play if I named Fef my red consort. And I don't think I'd be allowwwed to avvoid geldin' her the wway I can noww. If I got myself killed you'd probably be givven straight to the empire."

"Fuck! Thith ith much better."

"Thought you'd say that. Don't wworry too much; no-one's allowwed to challenge me until after my first season. And I'm purple, so odds are I'll season sloww. Only ceruleans season in their first swweep aboard, and it's not unheard of for a purple not to season until he's fifteen, sixteen swweps old. I'll probably be assigned awway from breeders entitled to challenge me until after at least my fifth season, and at the vvery earliest that won't happen until eight swweps after my first. And there's the caste issue too, once I'vve had ten seasons I still can't be challenged by blues or ceruleans."

"But there aren't a shoal lot of blue and cerulean breeders." Was Eridan trying to reassure them?

"Not relativve to the number a blues in total, but most a the breeders I'vve killed so far wwere purple or indigo. Blues're kinda seen as not wworth the effort a killin' unless they've managed to grab somethin' really special for their harems, and ovverall wwe're a lot more likely to try and kill each other than they are."

"I wonder why." Feferi flinched at the sarcasm in Karkat's voice, but Eridan just grinned and answered him, sounding serious.

"Wwe're a lot more possessivve and territorial. More aggressivve too. Wwe're taught wwe'vve got the right to take and keep wwhatevver wwe wwant, more than they are, so wwe're a lot more likely to issue challenge ovver a specially desirable concubine or consort. And a lot less likely to decline by just handin' evven a concubine wwe'vve got no real interest in ovver. Blues do that sometimes, or so I'vve heard."

"So, having me makes other breeders more likely to challenge you?"

"Yes an' no. Yeah, you're a prize, but...wwe do play politics usin' our harems sometimes. I wwon't evver be asked to let anyone pail you, but are you comfortable wwith usin' those tyrian life extension powwers outside a my household?"

"I...can try." He seemed to have more faith in her abilities in that area than she did. "I don't know how many trolls I can help like that."

"Gelded tyrians manage fivve to ten a swwep at first. I'm hopin' I can count on you to do fivve rejuvvenations outside my household evvery swweep."

"And inthide your houthehold?" Sollux put a hand on her shoulder and glared at Eridan. She didn't like them fighting over her, but she'd have to get used to it.

"I figure extendin' their lifespan a little at a time's goin' to be less stress on the both of you." Eridan was talking directly to her at least. "I figure on havvin' you do that for three trolls at most, includin' our mutual quadrantmate."

"You want her to make me live longer, but you don't care about your harem?"

"Not enough to wwaste Fef's time and energy extendin' their livves. Don't think I'vve met any a the trolls on my lists more than three times. And that at those slavve market meetings wwe're supposed to attend. I gavve them all my contact info." He shrugged his massive shoulders with feigned carelessness. "Not one a them tried to followw up and get into my good books. Not evven the highbloods."
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