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stargate, DanielJackson

Week 23, Title: But none of them are ours

Posted on 2017.07.05 at 22:38
Tags: ,
Yana enters her new master’s home, keeping her head down and fighting the urge to fidget. It’s a new place. There will be new rules. And she’s never good enough. Never follows them properly. She’s too stupid. So stupid. She doesn’t do things right and has to be punished. And that still never works, her masters always tire of her and sell her off. But this is a new chance. And she has to be good. She has to be perfect. She just has to. Tears spring to her eyes. But she can’t, she doesn’t know how. She’s a terrible, useless, slave who doesn’t deserve to be alive. 


Yana holds her arms against herself to keep them from moving as she’s lead to the slave quarters. Once the door is shut behind her she finally lifts her eyes. The room is bustling with activity, children and adults alike. Their clothes, though well-worn, are oddly lacking in holes. The table is overflowing with food and there’s even more cooking. Bile rises through her. This can’t be the slave quarters. She must be in the wrong place. No, no, no, how has she messed up already. She can’t do this. She hunches in on herself, wants to become invisible.

Someone shouts, “Greetings!”

She freezes. Everyone turns towards her for a moment, there are waves and smiles and then most go back to what they’re doing. She doesn’t understand. Where is she? What’s going on?

A grey-haired lady smiles softly, “I’m Potter Nan. Come, sit, eat.”

Yana obeys- it’s an easy order to follow. But her bowl isn’t filled with dregs. They've given her actual meat. Maybe they don’t know who she is. And now she’s sat down with them, they’re going to be so angry. She whispers, “But I’m a slave.”

The others stare weirdly at her. Potter Nan intones, “We all are sweetheart.”

Yana looks around in confusion. “And this is all for us.”

She’s met with assorted agreements. And she’s forced to turn the thought over in her head. She speaks slowly. “Our master must be very generous. And you must all be very good slaves. I’ve never been worthy enough for this.”  

“Nothing generous about it. Udir just wants us strong enough to work.”

Yana thinks about her previous masters, working her half-starved and exhausted, and doesn’t really understand the words.

*

She meets her new master, Udir, the next morning. Yana serves his breakfast and pours his drinks. She’s careful, so careful, she has to do this right. She has to convince him she’s good enough. He smiles at her and asks how she’s finding the place. And she has no idea why. He says please and thank you and he speaks to her, looks at her. She doesn’t think anyone has looked at her like that before. And he’s kind, unbearably so. She wants to please him. She needs to. He praises her, assures her she’s doing well. Something hopeful and light and unfamiliar blooms inside her. Her smile is too wide.

Back in the slave quarters she can’t quite contain her excitement at this marvellous, amazing, man.

Potter Nan sighs and says gently, “Be careful. He only wants to use you.”

Yana frowns. “Of course. I’m meant to be used. That’s my purpose.”

“Oh child. That’s just the nonsense the masters want you to believe.”

“I’m not a child,” Yana says sombrely. Her masters made her a woman long ago, if that’s what they’re worried over.

Potter Nan purses her lips. “Hmm. I know you’re more used to brutality. But there are other, more devious, kinds of cruelty.”

*

Yana holds her tongue from telling the other slaves they don’t understand how bad it could be. The hunger so deep she feared it would scrape out her insides. The exhaustion stretching the skin of her face and eyes and fingers. The keen knowledge of every movement sending explosions of pain through her limbs. She knows it’s not that simple. But they still find her stance odd. Potter Nan is the only one who will talk to her. And though the lady is lovely, Yana tires of her warnings. So she sits alone, gazing at the tap. There’s water flowing from it in an endless stream. It amazes her. How can there be so much water? How can anyone need so much water?

As she draws away from the other slaves, she finds herself drawn towards Udir. Her master is always pleased with her company and they talk about many things. She doesn’t understand a lot of what he says but he’s always patient explaining. Yana expects a hand on her wrist, prepares for the eventual lead into the bedroom; but it never comes. She’s astonished and relieved. Udir truly is a good man.

*

They are sitting by the fire one night when Udir says, “I try to treat everyone well.”

Yana stares in surprise. “You do! You are by far the best master I have had!”

“It’s not enough. I want all the slaves to be free.”

Yana can’t breathe for a moment. It’s treason. It’s a great wrongdoing for a slave to say such things. But what about when it’s a master saying it? It’s too much. “I don’t understand.”    

“I think you do. People have told you you’re stupid, but you’re not. You’re the opposite and that’s why they’ve spent so much time convincing you otherwise.”

“Okay,” Yana says. It would be rude to disagree, even if she doesn’t believe it.

But Udir explains his ideas. And they are magnificent ideas. As treasonous and wrong as it is; the notion of no one having to suffer like she has is appealing.

And when he turns to her, imploring, “Will you help me?”

She has only one answer. “Yes.”     

*

Udir trains her, tells her not to worry. Yana isn’t convinced the plan will work. She’s only a silly slave girl after all. But Udir thinks she can do it and that makes her believe.

She pours the king’s wine, unsure how Udir got her here; but knowing she has a job to do. She forces her body to move naturally, even as it wants to coil inwards. Yana’s unsure whether she’s more terrified of success or failure. Udir assured her that she’s the sort the king likes. The minutes at the end of the meal stretch, and she’s convinced that she’s going to be dismissed without opportunity. And then his fingers are around her wrist.

She shakes. It’s okay. It’s okay. She’s just doing as her master told her to. And that has to be right. She wants this. She can do this. She is strong.

Yana waits until they’re in the royal chambers, pressed close, and then slides a dagger into the king’s neck. It’s silent, she quickly cleans herself and breaks the window. And then starts screaming. When the guards run in she points hysterically at the window and they overlook her from that point on. A few questions about the assassin are sent her way but she’s quickly dismissed as useless.

*

There’s news of the massacre of the king and several high ranking members of the Royal Court. Yana is overjoyed at the success of the revolution. She gives Udir a too-wide grin. He doesn’t look at her.

The next day she’s sold. And once more she’s in a state of not understanding.

Until, settled in a far off land, she sees the picture of the new king: Udir.

The slaves are not freed. Their treatment isn’t changed. He didn’t kill her at least, probably to avoid suspicion. And no one in this foreign place would care even if they believed her story.

Yana thinks on the things she doesn’t understand for a long while and comes to a realisation. No one is going to free them.

They will have to free themselves.


She smiles, determined, Udir will rue the day he showed her how.


-----

Written for the topic 'Backing the wrong horse'


Comments:


bleodswean
bleodswean at 2017-07-06 20:26 (UTC) (Link)
Oooooooooooooooooooh! I loved how this progressed and then ended on such a note of empowerment. You did a great job with stretching and holding the tension for the reader.
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2017-07-08 09:10 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, so glad you liked the tension and the ending :)
i_17bingo
i_17bingo at 2017-07-07 13:59 (UTC) (Link)
Wow, that last line was amazing. It was such a turnaround from the first paragraph, which was awful (the writing wasn't awful, but the emotions attached to it were).

I spent the piece hoping, for Yana's sake, that Udir was as he appeared, even though I knew it couldn't be true. I was disappointed, but as I said earlier, there was that last line to make things interesting.
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2017-07-08 09:13 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, so glad you liked the last line :).

Yeah, Udir was never going to be a good egg, especially not with this prompt ;)
rayaso
rayaso at 2017-07-07 17:29 (UTC) (Link)
I wondered where the story was going (in a good way) and you ended it on such a strong note. The warning (“Be careful. He only wants to use you.”) made me question all the good things that happened, as you intended, waiting for something bad to happen, right until the very end, especially with its promise of revolution. Very good job!
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2017-07-08 09:14 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, so glad you liked the ending :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors
halfshellvenus at 2017-07-08 00:49 (UTC) (Link)
That poor girl-- all of the warnings were true, but she couldn't begin to recognize the type of danger Potter Nan was talking about. She became the perfect target for Udir's manipulations.

I do think she drew the right lesson from it in the end, though. And if she succeeds, Udir will deserve what's coming.
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2017-07-08 09:15 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you :). Yeah, she had just had so much horrible stuff happen she wasn't willing to look a gift horse in the mouth. And yeah she definitely learns.
marlawentmad
marlawentmad at 2017-07-08 00:55 (UTC) (Link)

Great foreshadowing! I love the strong ending.

swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2017-07-08 09:15 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked the foreshadowing and ending :)
Murielle
murielle at 2017-07-09 00:37 (UTC) (Link)
Wow! Wonderful! Poor Yana!

I loved the way you drew us into Yana's heart, her pain, her joy, her hope. Her ultimate betrayal, and her strength to learn from her betrayal.

It's a heartbreaking story, but there's hope, and I love that.

Brava!
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2017-07-09 08:00 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much, so glad you liked the way I depicted Yana's feelings :)
Direst Ryl
ryl at 2017-07-09 17:13 (UTC) (Link)
Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! Oh, Udir, you have no idea what you've started.
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2017-07-09 17:22 (UTC) (Link)
Yep, he will end up regretting it all :).

Thank you.
messygorgeous
messygorgeous at 2017-07-09 17:21 (UTC) (Link)
Nice!! What a perfect take on the prompt!

I was so glad for Yana when she found a good place to live, then scared for her as she was used and even more sad when she was sent away for her loyalty. BUT THE ENDING!! Sweet!

This is one of my favorite entries this week. Really well done!
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2017-07-09 17:31 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much for the lovely compliments, that means so much to hear :)
Rebecca
beeker121 at 2017-07-10 01:24 (UTC) (Link)
Oh that ending! And you took us there so skillfully, much as Udir very carefully made Yana his weapon, that the final blow is that much more powerful.
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2017-07-10 18:52 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, so glad you liked the ending and the way the story lead there :)
bewize
bewize at 2017-07-10 17:48 (UTC) (Link)
Captivating read! Great job!
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2017-07-10 18:52 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, so glad you found it captivating :)
flipflop_diva
flipflop_diva at 2017-07-10 21:17 (UTC) (Link)
Wow, this was great. I really wanted the other slaves to be wrong and for Udir to be who he seemed to be, but of course he was worse than I imagined! But I love the twist at the end and how Yana finally finds her own empowerment.

I am now ready for the sequel!
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2017-07-11 17:30 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, so glad you liked the end twist :)
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