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Will is asleep in his small room when the call comes, a small insistent beeping from his watch.  He rises, tired down to his very bones, and stumbles out bleary-eyed with the heavy weight of the city pressing between his shoulder blades. He is tired enough to assume it is an emergency, but when he emerges, mask firmly attached, the master is lounging in the pool with two empty gas bubbles floating by his side. Will stiffens. A change of the routine is never good. Fritz's master changes the routine daily, the better to catch his slave out, and to make him burn from the lash.


There is no lash in evidence however, and the Master is loquacious tonight. Will realises all too soon that he has indulged too much. The words are slurred and almost breathless- barely understandable- and the Master rambles on and on about the Call which he has received, the implementation of a quota of production in regards to the 'yuhhtnze.' He sounds upset, and Will knows his place. His place is to serve and comfort the Masters. He listens carefully, as always seeking to scrounge even the smallest pieces of information. He does not know if even Fritz can understand the seemingly nonsensical syllables, but off guard like this the Master could let slip something important.


Will feels a tentacle curl around his waist and pull him closer, goes with it easily. His nails are worn down smooth against the ends of his fingers from the amount he has scratched the Master's hide, and so he makes use of the bathing brush. Rubs it hard and well against the tough almost reptilian skin, and the Master sighs with pleasure underneath him. The gas bubbles he has noted dissolve inhibitions. In this state he can speak to the Master of many things, that would not seem to be appropriate to a slave, and have it dismissed as strange but not dangerous. He does not take this freedom lightly, not any more after seeing Fritz suffer from the vicissitudes of his master's whims.


Will’s attempts to lead the Master though, are futile. He seems sunken in thought, submerged now almost completely in the steaming water. Will has to balance on the side while avoiding the tepid water as much as he can- the air is hot enough for his taste. The Master senses his difficulty and winds another tentacle around his waist, and Will scrubs grimly. When his arm muscles are aching and sore, and everything in him screams for sleep, the Master finally speaks again. "Boy," he says thoughtfully. "I read in a book that the human male must seek release, or die."


Will stops scrubbing for a second, grateful for the break. "The book lied, Master," he said, and raises the brush again, although his arms protest.


"They often lie it seems," the Master said thoughtfully. "I do not understand this, boy. Why would your ancients conceal their true intent?"



Will has no answer, the ancients were as much a mystery to him as to the Master. Before he fled to the White Mountains he had sought answers about them, had wanted to know of the past, (though never as much as Beanpole,) afterwards it had seemed less important. The ancients had not won against the Tripods. It was their ancestors who had condemned them to this hell, had lost the war despite all their marvellous inventions. He shook his head. "I do not know Master," he replied submissively.


The Master shifted his bulk. "Boy," he said. "I am worried for you."


It isn't the first time that the Master has expressed concern for him in some fashion, or has sought to make his life easier. Will knows how rare this is, and like a good Capped slave, he bows his head, thanks the Master for his goodness, and reassures him of his capabilities. He adds "If I were not well Master, I would go to the Place of Happy Release since I could no longer serve you as you ought to be served."


Unhappily, the Master subsides again, the patches on his chest flushing darker as they often did when he had over-indulged. "Another gas bubble, boy." Will fetches it swiftly, helping attach it to the expanse of skin, and waits to be bid to go. After his third gas bubble, the Master rarely likes to be touched. He is surprised to hear "come closer." He steps within reach once more. "Remove your shorts boy," the Master said. Will strips them from himself uncaring. In the City there is no modesty, there is nothing to hide. If the Master wants him naked, then he must do so without complaint. The Capped would not think to protest, and neither must he.


The Master shifts to the comparatively cool end of the pool, the equivalent to a cold bath to a human, and Will follows. He isn’t surprised to feel the smoothness of the tentacles against his skin, but he is surprised at the way they move, smoothing over his skin endlessly as though to reassure him. "Boy," said the Master slowly. "Your Ancients are often right. What if you do not seek release, and you die? It is early for you to do so, and I would be... disappointed. I think boy, that I might even grieve to see you gone."


Will repeats the rote response. "I am honoured, Master, that you value me so highly. I seek only to be of use to you." He forces himself to be still, to relax. When the Master is in a mood like this, he can be almost irrational. Will is well aware of how vulnerable he is like this, naked and small beside the looming bulk of the Master. The tray of oils is beside the pool as always, and the Master picks one up –xunubi with one brooding look.


"You humans have a saying," he says. "Better safe than sorry. I do not wish to lose you boy, therefore I shall take steps to preserve you regardless.”


The tentacles are moving with intent now, slipping under the water, one winding tightly around his waist. It's less to restrain him- no slave would try to escape a Master no matter what, and more- Will realises with a shudder- as some bizarre reassurance. A second one slides over his chest, tweaks at one nipple almost curiously.


“Apply ointment,” comes the instruction. “It is necessary.”


Will cannot but hesitate even at the risk of exposure. The thought of allowing this to happen repulses him, and more frighteningly he is aware of a strange shivering excitement deep within himself. He has never been touched like this, not with intent, and it has been too long since he was touched at all, too long since even a modicum of affection has brushed against him. He cannot touch Fritz, thin and broken and bruised as he is, even an embrace could cause pain. Besides, slaves were not supposed to touch anyway, were not expected to care for anything beyond their master. The Master senses his hesitation, and the network of wrinkles that serve as expression twitches.


“Boy,” comes the question. “Do you fear?” The tentacles withdraw for a moment, unwind themselves from around him, and once again the Master is curious and Will is at risk.


If he says yes, the Master will stop, Will has little doubt, but he will not stop his questions. An order from a Master; even a mere wish, is sufficient to ensure that the Capped will go to the ends of the earth to fulfill it. Once again he would have marked himself out as an oddity, and in time the Master will grow to doubt his slave.


For now he is merely a small anomaly, but too much difference, too many times and he will be revealed. It is not merely his own life at risk. Fritz’s life is as well, and more important than either of them is the knowledge and the information that they must carry home to stop these monstrosities, to fight back and win. He cannot afford to put his personal feelings over those reasons, however much he is revolted by this.


Fritz is beaten every day, Will reminds himself. He is so thin and worn he could be twice his age and still look old, and yet he searches out scraps of information, and never gives up. He dares more than anyone else has in the pursuit of knowledge of the Masters. Will has it easy in comparison, and it is this that steels his spine and makes him open the oil and smooth it over the three tentacles that sprout from the master.


He can endure this.


“Forgive me,” he says. “I did not understand.”


The Master tells him to kneel on the side of the pool, and lean against him, and he does so, forehead against leathery moistening skin, oddly comforting even in its warmth, hands braced on the rough hide in front of him. His knees have slid apart and he is uncomfortably exposed, all too aware of the tentacles that wrap soothingly around him. The Master’s voice sounds quieter now. “I have read that stimulus to humans is given by manipulation of the genitalia,” and his words are accompanied now by a slick tentacle coiling around Will’s cock, and smoothing itself around.


It is unlike anything he has felt before, unlike the rough jerks of his own hand that he has dared only once or twice, since the White Mountains were almost devoid of privacy, and he would have blushed to think of any of the others knowing that he did this. The touch is gentler than he expected, the dryness and weight of the tentacle under the thin layer of slick less unpleasant, and he hardens almost instantly, his cock pressing between them, and the Master lets out a sound Will can’t identify.


He’s often remarked on the dexterity of the tentacles before, but never imagined them doing this, trailing over him, one now winding itself around him swiftly, and then as swiftly unwinding, the friction deliciously light. The other two are smoothing themselves over him, down his back, across his arse and the tops of his thighs. They move more nimbly than he has ever seen them move. Generally the Master’s movements are slow and ponderous unless there is an emergency, and he can feel their intent, their purpose as they curl around him and draw him in closer still.


When one pushes between his legs, seeks out his hole, he cannot help but tense. The Master senses it, slows the movements, and speaks again. “This is the best way,” he says, and there is a stilted quality to his voice, as though he must search for the words and come up lacking. The tentacles spread his legs apart further for him, pulling his knees gently until he sinks down into a crouch, temples still pressed against the rough skin of the Master. One of them leaves and returns with the bottle of xunubia and lets it puddle in the small of his back, drip downwards between his cheeks until it runs over his hole, and regardless of the inhuman-ness of the Master, Will is glad that the heat of his face can’t be seen.


He closes his eyes, and breathes in deep through the sponge mask,  as the slenderest of the tentacles pushes at him, and meets resistance. The Master retreats and instead the tentacle softly strokes the oil in and around his hole, pushing in more deeply each time, first a quarter inch, then a half inch, and Will can feel himself stretching around it in a way that he’s never imagined, feels something frightening swell up inside his chest, and squeezes his eyes shut. It feels odd but not unpleasant, there is no pain, and he tells himself that this is no different a way to attend to his Master and obey his commands, no different than endless back-scratching and food preparation.


Then as though deciding he is ready, the Master pushes in slowly, relentlessly, a couple of inches thick, and Will can barely restrain his cry. He doesn’t feel like he can take it- he feels like he is splitting around it and he can’t move, can’t say anything, can only wait for the Master to conclude whatever he thinks this is. Slowly more presses in, and then withdraws completely, and he can hardly muffle a sound of relief, before it is pressing back into him, slow and sure and relentless, and he wants to be able to grip with his hands, or push forward away from it, but all there is before him is the solid bulk of the Master.


Then on the third push in, something shivers up his spine, races down to his fingertips, and he convulses against the tentacle, seeking a resumption of that feeling, of the sparking sensation that was like nothing he’d felt before. The Master makes a sound, something like pleasure, Will thinks dimly, and the tentacle does it again, and again until Will can barely think, barely move, barely even focus on the speed with which the other tentacle presses around his cock.


He shifts his arm, and bites down hard on his own skin, tries not to make a sound, as the Master lets the third tentacle glide over him, joining the one on his cock for a second, flickering over the head, and then around his balls, until it moves on, and the delicate end of it traces where the smallest sized tentacle presses into his body, where it disappears inside him, and he can feel it against him, curious and probing, doesn’t think he could take anymore, and finally moans as it presses against him and against its fellow, slides in to take the other one’s place when it withdraws, until they alternate in turn, fitting into him one after the other until he can barely imagine anything else, doesn’t want it to stop.


The Master is breathing faster, Will notes almost mechanically, as though he is enjoying this himself, as though he wants to do this, and the skin under his cheek ripples. He doesn’t know how the Masters experience pleasure, what they do to propagate themselves, but he knows now that they do, even if it is in unusual ways. He will report that, he thinks, but not the way he found it out. Then his thoughts are lost; the tentacles are pressing in harder now, faster, and he is so close he can hardly take it. The tentacle on his cock has slowed, but now speeds up again, and he bucks into it, and then back, seeking and needing more, more friction, more speed, and the Master obliges, gives him it, until he shatters and spills, comes in aching pulses harder than he ever has done before.


The tentacle slides out, and all three retreat, leaving Will without their meagre support, gasping through his mask, lungs almost unable to take the strain of not getting all the air he wants at once. He feels sore and used, still twitching all over as though he is still being fucked. The Master tucks one tentacle under his chin, raises it up until their eyes meet. Will forces adoration into them, the blank mindless simplicity of one of the Capped who has been well treated by his Master, and the Master sighs and releases him. He repeats once again as he has done before, “You are a strange one boy. You may leave now, and report to me at 1/7 with news of how you feel.”


Will stumbles out, bruised and aching, barely able to move from tiredness and from being fucked so hard. He wrenches off the mask when he enters the room, lies there and breathes heavily, sucks in every bit of the precious air before he showers in the lukewarm swill that passes for cold water here. Then quietly as though he cannot stop he begins to laugh to himself. Perhaps the Master had misunderstood the role of dogs in human culture, he thinks, aware for the moment that humour is all that stops him from thinking too deeply about what has just happened. Sleep comes easily, but his dreams are terrible.