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Title: In the Seasons of Conscription Part 8

Fandom: Homestuck

Characters: Sollux/Eridan, Sollux/Feferi, Eridan/Karkat

Rating: NC-17

Warnings: Consent issues, discussion of slavery, mpreg

Eridan inspected his companions one last time before they left for his interview with Captain Iceheart. This was his first interview, and he didn't really know what to expect.

Kanaya had really come through when she designed the uniforms for his harem. It wasn't at all revealing, the dark grey tunics were high necked and fell to the knees over black leggings, making Karkat look almost as delicate as Feferi did.

Neither of them were delicate, but Karkat was solidly muscled, despite his small size, and somehow Feferi never looked anything but delicate. Maybe because she looked so much like the Condesce, only scaled down by a third.

Even Sollux looked reasonably good, better than Eridan'd expected if he was honest with himself. He was wearing a real - albeit lowblood cut - shirt, in black, open at the throat, with his sign embroidered highblood style at the corners of the collar. He was wearing heavy grey work trousers - the same grey as Karkat and Feferi's tunics - and someone had talked him into black workboots with red and blue laces. Still the colours and duality theme he was so fond of, but a nicely subtle display, almost classy.

He was still wearing his red and blue glasses, but he wore his kismesis bracer too, as well as the matesprit ring Feferi had given him. Eridan glanced down at his own ring, reminded again that Feferi had paid for it, even if Sollux had designed it. At least that was a private insult, even though the jewels set around the band were publicly insulting.

"Well, do we pass inspection, Ampora?" Karkat was nervous too, he hadn't used that name for Eridan since the first time they'd pailed.

"Yes. Kan's brilliant, don't you agree?"

"Thhe got you to thhow thome rethtraint."

"Wwell you don't ignore an expert's advvice, do you Sol?" Kanaya had made him a greatcoat, black with a deep violet lining. He was wearing his own sign as jewellery; a lapel pin, holding his blood purple cravat in place and on his cuff links. His shirt was pale grey, his trousers dark grey while his high boots were black and he could move in the whole outfit.

"It's just about time. You all ready? Knoww howw to behavve?" He looked at Feferi - she was the one on record as being at least a little reluctant and by now he was expected to have got her under control.

"Yes grumpy gills. Walk just behind you, don't look around, sit or kneel where Karcrab puts me. Don't speak until I'm spoken to, then look to you for permission."

"Yeah, that covvers it. Sol, you okay wwith your side a things?"

"Yeth ED." He sounded exasperated, they'd spent far too long arguing over the best presentation for this interview. "I'm not going to pick a fight with - or in front of - a violet breeder captain."

"I knoww you're not stupid, Sol." There wasn't anything to correct and it was getting close to their interview time. "We need to go." He turned and led the way from the room, making it clear he expected everyone to follow him. Sollux used his psionics to catch up before Eridan reached the door, but Karkat and Feferi trailed behind. A teal opened the door for them. He was a little shorter than average, but broad across the shoulders, and all he was wearing was a black wrap edged in a violet just a shade bluer than Eridan's, and pinned with a teal spade. His claws were filed right down to the quick, was that a humiliation technique, something punitive, or an implication of something else? Eridan silently hoped for the third option. At least the teal was a black consort not a black concubine, but it was still a disappointment to know that Captain Iceheart was apparently willing to have black sex with a slave - Sol's hacking had indicated that she shared Eridan's opinions on the matter.

"Fertile Lord. Please enter." He dropped to one knee, bowing and turning his head to expose a triangle of throat as Eridan passed. He came to a stop five full steps from where the captain sat, two paces to the side of the chairs in front of hers. She was wearing a full captain's uniform, all in black with tyrian insignia and piping in her blood colour at the seams. It exactly matched the edging on the black wraps her concubines were wearing around their hips, and the violet hearts pinning them in place. They were all kneeling on the cushions at her feet, none higher blooded than Sollux's yellow - at least that information was right, and Eridan silently congratulated himself on choosing not to bring any of his concubines - Tavros wouldn't be able to get to his knees gracefully, and Eltrice might have come across as a subtle insult, with his marginally higher blood. There was an empty stool at her feet as well.

"Captain Iceheart." He turned his head away from Sollux, exposing the side of his throat to her. He could hear his consorts dropping to their knees behind him, and could only trust that Sollux had tilted his head back to expose his full throat, as he'd ordered his consorts to.

"Applicat Ampora. Sit. And my personal name is Ashakaya, use it."

"As you wish. Call me Eridan, if it pleases you." Three chairs, one sized for a breeder, flanked by two for lesser trolls. Two padded stools, one on each side in front of his chair, and a scattering of cushions. He took his seat, and kicked one of the foot stools, careful not to actually move it. Karkat guided Feferi to sit on the side opposite Sollux, then settled down himself, resting his head against Eridan's knee.

"Intelligent and affectionate. I see why you chose a mutant first consort now. Does he have any problems keeping the rest of your harem under control?" The teal silently came to sit on the stool at her feet as she spoke, holding himself stiffly, as if expecting a blow.

"Not that I'vve noticed. Kar, havve you had any problems?" He rested a hand on Karkat's head, thumb rubbing against the base of one horn.

"No Eridan. Not with my position, and certainly nothing worth bringing to you. You...made your support very clear by keeping me as your first consort."

"There's a reason I did that. Howw does it wwork, havvin' a neww black consort and a red harem?" The teal hadn't been anywhere in the records, and he should have been, unless she'd just acquired him on planet - and he was too old for that.

"Sofwan?" She reached out to stroke his horns in a casually possessive gesture. "He was a gift from a governator. You did know we can only take convicted criminals black?"

"Even if you already filled the black quadrant?" Sollux spoke out of turn to ask the question but it looked as if Captain Iceheart approved of his initiative.

"Even then. It would be hugely insulting to your kismesis to accept such a gift of course - and equally insulting if your kismesis didn't do something about the insult. Then again, not many trolls would dare offer such an insulting gift to any breeder.

"To answer your original question, Eridan, I keep him apart from my harem. You seem to have a taste for the small and crippled." She gave a frankly appraising look at Sollux and Eridan's consorts. "I think your psionic's the biggest of the lot. And probably the healthiest."

"They're not as delicate as they look. As for my concubines...does it matter howw healthy they are? They just havve to please me, it's not like I'm going to breed wwith them." He hesitated, trying to assess her reaction, she seemed unhappy about something, and given her own political history..."Besides, Kar wwanted to savve as many livves as he could, and I had them under consideration anywway."

"Ah. Very kind of you." Was that sarcasm, or approval? "But picking out cullbait and catching an ungelded tyrian does have its costs.

"Who do you intend to leave to make sure no one breaks your kismesis?"

"I havve agreements in principle from a blue and an indigo if it provves necessary." If he wasn't accepted by a breeder captain he thought he could get away with staying himself.

"Both of them? You are protective."

"This is a bad thing?" He grinned at her, trying to look appealingly confident, rather than arrogant.

"No. It isn't. You still need to be careful what promises you make."

"Nevver make a promise you aren't wwillin' or capable to honour. I knoww. I have no intention a doin' that. To anyone." It wasn't as if it had taken much to bribe Equius or Gamzee either - he had more than enough pull to get Nepeta on the same ship as him and safe as an adjunct to his household, even with a breeder captain, and Gamzee just wanted access to Tavros when the drones came around. "The blue's a pretty talented engineer, and I'vve named his moirail as my harem guard."

"Hmm. I'd wondered why you only had one guard if you were going to bother with that, and a greenblood too. What's wrong with the moirail?" She leaned forward, focused entirely on Eridan and his answer.

"Nothin's wwrong wwith her, she's smart and a great fighter. And she can control her temper. She'll make a really good guard." He hesitated, and shrugged one shoulder, hoping they'd judged her right. "That's sorta the issue - greens aren't 'supposed' to havve the right temperament to be guards, not evven the teals." At least not the sort of guard you'd keep on a harem, who needed to be decisive and proactive - watching monitors or more routine guard work was considered well within their capabilities.

"I see. She needs a superior who won't care about her temper, as long as she can keep it under control." She sat back, smiling to bare her narrow seadweller sharp teeth. "Tell me, why did you choose to apply to me?"

"Personally, or professionally? I got reasons on both sides."

"I think I want to hear the personal side first."

"Accordin' to wwhat I kneww you only had a red harem. And you alwways chose a psionic wwhenevver you had a kismesis. I figured at wworst you'd accept my choice a kismesis, and at best you'd share my opinion a black sex wwith slavves."

"And what opinion would that be?"

"That it's kind a borin'." That was the reason he felt would make most sense to her. "I mean, a slavve's got no powwer to defy you or anythin', so they're not goin' to givve you any sort of real fight."

"You run that risk with a psionic kismesis too though. If they're powerful enough to be a worthwhile fight then they're dependent on you to stay out of a helmscolumn."

"All that means is that they can't actually kill or cripple you though. Wwe're not allowwed to repudiate them."

"There is that. Did you have any further personal reasons?"

"Not...really Ashakaya." He glanced down, then back up at her with a smile. "Nothin' that matters compared to wwhat I could get about your attitude and beliefs. And you're well enough knowwn to keep your bargains to put that on the professional side. Should I add the other professional reasons?"

"Please do."

"You're damless, like me, and you'vve accomplished more than a lot a breeders wwith a dam's support, evven the ones older than you. Wwho wwouldn't wwant to havve the benefit a your experience?"

"Nicely said. Now, we need to determine what you can offer me. You are clearly intelligent and strong willed to catch an ungelded tyrian and train her to accept a place as your second consort, without embarassing you in public." Meaning she could expect that at some point he'd be in a position to do her favours, or offer solid support to her.

"Have you ever been taken in before, Eridan?" Ashakaya had an odd smile on her face as she looked at him.

"Yes Ahsakaya, I havve." He forced himself to smile back at her and opened his legs a little. He'd known this question would be coming in one form or another, he just hadn't expected her to be so lowblood blunt about the issue. He didn't have a problem with being taken in, but he knew that he was supposed to and he still wasn't certain what sort of response would appeal to her most. "Wwhen I wwas younger, before I hit my full growwth."

"You think it's something for pre-adults then?" A dangerous edge to her voice, and Eridan didn't really like the way Sollux was looking at him now. But he had to answer her, and he wasn't going to risk lying about this.

"I think it's not something a half-sterile troll can do to one a us as an adult. Takes another breeder for that."

"Quite. So...why did you allow yourself to be taken in?"

"The calli-playmate wwho wwanted it wwas useful." He shrugged, as far as he was concerned it was a minor matter, even if no one else seemed to agree, but he thought he saw approval or appreciation in her eyes.

"Very pragmatic for such a young breeder. I take it you would still be open to allowing such a liberty from a breeder who was useful enough to you?"

"Naturally. But such an elder breeder wwould havve to be extremely useful. Say...offerin' all the benefits they wwould to a younger breeder of their line."

"Without any of the corresponding obligations I take it." At least she sounded amused, not angered by his gall. "Any such breeder would have extremely high expectations of your availability."

"Indeed. And she wwould havve the right to it, wwhile I wwas on his ship." But an easy agreement wasn't what the captain wanted, Eridan got that, it made him look weak and easily controlled. "Still, there wwould be limits. Maybe ten...vvisits a swweep." He grinned at her, he knew his offer was totally outrageous, but it was a display of spirit he needed to make.

"Unless you included totally free access to your harem - including your tyrian - then I would say a minimum of ten nights between visits would be more reasonable." That was significantly more demanding than Vriska had been, but Ashakaya was offering more, being taken in didn't hurt, and...was she implying that going to her every ten nights would mean that he didn't need to trade Feferi's powers with her?

"At that frequency I wwould expect aid and advvice in tradin' the use a my tyrian's abilities." That wasn't already covered in the bargain they were making, no breeder his age would normally own a tyrian - and certainly not if the elder whose line he was in didn't. "Advvice on howw best to bargain, and on wwho it wwould benefit me most to trade wwith."

"Not an unreasonable expectation." She nodded with a smile. "Tell me, howw do you intend to keep the indigo close to your household to pay your debt to him? Or have you agreed something that does not require that?"

"I...hadn't considered that." And Gamzee would need - want - to be close to Eridan's household, hoping for more of a chance to meet with Tavros. "Wwould it be inappropriate to ask for suggestions?" He knew that indigoes always ended up trained as subjuggulators, except in special cases, so he hadn't thought about trying to keep Gamzee out of that, or even if he'd want it.

"Are you trying to test my advice?" She laughed lightly, he hadn't offended her. "I...dislike subjuggulators, and I would never permit one to be trained aboard my ship." In other words he had to work out a way to keep Gamzee from becoming a subjuggulator if he wanted to keep him in easy access, assuming Ashakaya accepted him. "One more question, what other quadrant affiliations would I have to consider if I accepted you and your household onto my ship?"

"My guard is in a concupiscent square, so you'd need to find places for a teal legislacerator trainee, a jade seamstress and a cerulean potential officer. The indigo and blue I'vve made arrangements wwith are kismeses."

"And on the red side?"

"The blue's got a slavve, and I'vve promised the indigo limited access to my harem - I should make him the other harem guard, shouldn't I?" Whatever he felt about the matter - although honestly Gamzee was unlikely to make a good subjuggulator anyway. And he'd yield to Karkat without giving him any trouble about it, although Eridan wasn't entirely certain that Nepeta would be able to assert any dominance over him.

"It would be highly inappropriate for me to make demands regarding how you arranged your household before I accepted you onto my ship would it not?" Her smile shifted more to the predatory side as she stood. "However you are aware of my preferences now...I believe we have covered everything necessary to determine our positions. Unless there is anything else you wish to bring up?"

"No, I think that wwe'vve covvered evverythin' wwe need to." Eridan stood himself, and the others followed his example.
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