Walking amongst the slave markets of Kaon was always an ordeal for Solstice. It was a wonder why her mother, the Primeval Djinn Promethea, wanted to shop or look around this particular market. She wasn’t cruel to any she purchased, she was often disgusted by the very idea of slavery. In fact, many of the indentured servants living in their home were treated better than even the outlander residence in Iacon.
Eclipse, walking beside Solstice, had been one such rescue. Promethea had been touched by the selfless wish she had asked for in exchange for her ten-year service, but seeing what many would’ve done to this golden heart churned the Primal Djinn’s stomach. Eclipse, rather than a slave, was one of the first Promethea took from the seedy and debauchery-laden red light auctions to live in her lavish mansion, paid and given everything she could need to work out her debt. It was the only thing Promethea could not remove; a wish made needed to be paid.
Today, however, was a little different.
Solstice was of age. 24 years in fact. Her mother had come to believe the eyes and optics of many in Kaon turned to her. Solstice never believed herself to be vain, and would often tell others how wrong their observations were. She was average by her standards but with so few female heiresses about, especially with a legacy as grand as a Primeval Djinn, many optics followed her.
She didn’t mind. None of them bothered her and the last to have tried to touch her caught her fist with his face. After that her mother believed she required extra muscle. Meaning she was going to force another poor soul, who gave up their freedom for a wish, to follow her around and protect her. She didn’t want to do that. She hated the very idea, and the idea of needing someone to protect her did bruise her independent self-esteem.
Eclipse found Solstice’s stubbornness to having a personal escort at her side amusing. She would pout like a scolded child, but making light of the situation did bring her bright smile back. Eclipse had known the Djinn heiress since she was brought to their home. Promethea had even entrusted her with caring for the younger Djinn as she grew, they become close like sisters and Solstice couldn’t be happier. She had confided in Eclipse her dislike for the slave markets and her mother’s over-protectiveness but Eclipse was always there to reason out her feelings, waning her annoyance to a mild tolerance.
Besides the other stores and stalls they visited; purchasing new dresses and outfits, new curtains and drapes, and organising for groceries for their stores, Promethea turned them to the slave pens.
“Mother, must we do this?” Solstice asked, keeping close to the tall femme with Eclipse holding her arm. Promethea’s tail curling around them both, seeing some of the slave merchants eye Eclipse.
“Of course my dear,” Held tall and rolling a drawl as she spoke, Promethea’s very appearance demanded respect. “Really, we’ve gone over this too many times before, must I continue to repeat myself?”
“I can take care of myself mother, we don’t need to rope another poor mortal into slavery,” Solstice only hoped playing on her mother’s dislike for slavery to save her, perhaps she might even consider the Justicar’s aid instead of purchasing another.
“Perhaps, madam, the Justicars are more than capable if any protection was needed,” Eclipse added, even if she knew the reasoning behind Promethea’s need to protect her daughter, maybe there was a way for them both to get what they want without coming to such an impass.
“Very true my dear, but Justicars these days seem more swayed by copper and gold than loyalty. Inexcusable.” Solstice sighed, her mother's mind was made up, there was no getting around it. Eclipse smiled, taking her hand to give a reassuring squeeze. Solstice turned to her, smiling for the kind gesture. Roaming the long bidding booths and large slave arenas, her mother inspected and observed every slave put before them or displayed before moving on. Eclipse remained close as they passed some of the more familiar booths, recalling her own placement after making her wish. Solstice hand remained tight around hers, reassuring her nothing would harm her now.
“Such poor stock. Ill kept, malnourished. Disgusting.” Turning her nose up, it was always a shame, on the slaver and the slave, by the way they’re treated and kept. Eclipse felt sorry for the alien and human slaves presented, she could admit being fortunate she wasn't in these auctions for long when Promethea found her.
Down the row, a commotion began to rouse. Promethea placed a servo on her daughter and on Eclipse, watching the growing interest in the crowd before the murmurs turned into a panic. Loud shouts and roars echoed down from the crowd, soon all ran as a female purple djinn charged. Her eyes ablaze, sickly green and glowing against black. Her hands like sickles of death, just missing those lucky enough to pull away.
Solstice felt her mother jerk her and Eclipse back, away from the charge. But something seemed wrong. The light within her, the power she was blessed with as a Light djinn, picked up something. This wasn’t a murderous rampage. Something else was driving this djinn.
Time slowed between them as she passed. Their eyes met for what felt like eternity, eyes that held no anger or rage. Fear was the only light Solstice could see. A need to flee, to escape. Not to hurt or maim. The next blink she disappeared down the street, not taking a single life yet spilt the blood of any Justicar or anyone who tried to stop her.
The chaos threw the street into chaos, everyone running about to save their stock, their lives or aiding their employers to flee. Solstice, however compelled, slipped from her mother and unlike the crowds, moved toward the woman.
"Solstice!" forgetting formality in her concern, Eclipse managed to slip away from Promethea as well to follow Solstice. She was prone to do rather stupid things, she had to make sure she didn't get hurt, holding no regard for herself.
Her aura was clear, Solstice could push out all other sound and colour, focused solely on the fleeing djinn's aura. Such chaos, she could almost taste the raw fear, anger, sadness and grief. But where the Justicars missed, Solstice followed her trail. Past an old dark alley, she peered in. There, amongst the addicted, homeless and forgotten, the large djinn who had once stormed through the streets like a madman. Crouched, frozen like a stone, Solstice could see tears rolling down her cheeks. She was scared, alone and yet didn’t seem fearful of what was going to happen next.
Eclipse managed to find Solstice, watching shocked as the noble heiress walked into the alleyway. Following behind, being mindful of those in the alleyway, she watched as Solstice approached the distressed djinn.
Slow, light steps. Ever aware the djinn could snap and hurt her. Solstice knelt down before the femme, if she noticed her she didn’t react. Swiping back her decorations and gown, she noticed the femme flinch. At least she knew her presence was known. Eclipse tried to approach as well but her own movements caused the scared djinn to recoil back. Solstice raised her hand, haulting Eclipse's advance. Eclipse, understanding what Solstice was trying to do, remained where she was. Once the moving stopped, the djinn didn’t move, watching as her aura whipped and flickered with fear, curiosity and caution. Slowly, the femme rose her helm, optics settling on a soft gold, a sharp snap of familiarity and instant withdraw.
“Are you alright?” Solstice asked. Watching her shake and jitter. “Are you hurt?” It happened so sudden, Solstice felt unnerved by how her aura disappeared, the sadness and raw emotions she had once felt disappeared into a cold and grey blank.
“Leave me…let me go…” her voice was soft, below a whisper but enough to bridge the pair.
“And leave you to the Justicars, or worse; whoever hurt you?” the woman glanced, seeming surprised by her response. She watched her stand, watched the jewels and gold decorating her sunlight frame jingle and glitter. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“There is always hurt.” Her tone was flat, as if she had given up on life. That nothing mattered any more.
“There doesn’t have to be,” Solstice watched as the djinn took notice. Turning her head up, Solstice could see the scars. Old and fresh discoloured lines hid the secrets of her abuse. “I can help you.”
“Why?” Her voice broke, emotion was leaking through. At first one could think she was breaking down. Another, maybe there was hope after all. “You want to ‘buy’ me? Use me, like a slave?”
“No, help you. Because you deserve it like everyone else,” Solstice offered her hand but when the femme didn’t move, she crouched to her level. It felt strange; a femme of her size being the smaller. She watched Solstice, wondering if she was lying and eyeing around in case something happened. She eyed the human standing just a little way from them. Would she run off and get the others? “You can trust me, I promise.” Leaning a little more, Solstice offered both hands this time. She remained calm and waited, waited for the woman to move first. “I’m Solstice.” She looked up, as if something compelled her to. There was something, something caught in the moment that both of them felt, that they shared.
Eclipse could not believe how Solstice had grown. She smiled as she recalled when she was younger, she was mischevious, abnormally stubborn and flighty girl. Now, she had come into herself, her stubbornness remained but it drove her to help others and stand for what she believed in. Watching her help this hurt woman warmed her.
The djinn was slow, timid almost; a direct opposite to the woman who had just rampaged through the streets. Her hands dwarfed those offered, but held tight like a single lifeline. Solstice helped her to her pedes. Eclipse slowly approached, offering her help to keep the woman steady. She was apprehensive at first, but seeing Solstice smile, she allowed the human to help her up. Her own grip tightened as they all walked from the alley way.
“Oh my dear there you two are!” Promethea sighed, gliding over to her but paused at the sight of the femme.
“Mother. She isn’t a threat,” Solstice was deliberate in her standing, placing herself between her mother and the djinn. Protecting the other from another, Promethea observed the pair. She could feel it let alone see it. Only someone blind could miss it.
“A fine femme,” and in an instant her mother turned back to her ways, her critical optics taking in every inch of her frame, though noting the woman seemed uncomfortable by it. Solstice and Eclipse knew that tone well, watching her inspect the poor Djinn. Eclipse kept her grip on the woman, helping her stay balance despite how difficult it was becoming. “Strong, able, but such poor treatment.” Promethea didn’t care for her twitch as she took her arm, ran sharp servos over old and seemingly new healing scars. “Disgusting, poor treatment so unbecoming,” releasing the woman, Promethea summoned her magic. Waving her hand and watched as it licked and surrounded the djinn. Her scars brushed away like make-up. The djinn's body looked as new. “There, much better.”
Testing her restored strength, the djinn managed to remain standing on her own. Eclipse stepped aside, smiling as the djinn was astonished by the power the Primal Djinn had. Looking at her, the woman nodded her head, thanking her for her help. What she hadn't anticipated was for those same healing servos reaching for her again, cupping the stunned djinn's cheek.
A sudden shout caused the woman to jump. Promethea turned a hard glare to the approaching crowd and Solstice placed herself in front of the femme and Eclipse. Rushing up to them in first was a large, dark blue and grey djinn decorated in bold and fashionable robes, scarves and jewels, clattering as he approached. Solstice recognised him; Nitroglide – a minor lord who resided in Kaon. Known for his scientific endeavours though he wasn’t as well-known as scientists like Shockwave or Perceptor. Following him were five other servants, all of which seemed frightful and jittery.
“Oh my lady,” Nitroglide sighed, bowing low in respect. “I must thank you for finding my property, truly I am grateful.”
“Your property?” Asked another voice, coming up through the crowd. His cape appeared to be plucked from the very shadows. The dark wrapped around him, the very void stepped with him like a shade. His ruby optics trailed over everyone present, landing on Promethea, Solstice, Eclipse and the djinn. Solstice was surprised by the woman's instant grip. She knew this man, and so did Solstice. “My Lady.”
“Lord Megatron,” Promethea dipped her head, knowing who this mech was. Even she, a neutral party, would know better than to be impolite to the leader and ruler of Kaon. But he knew just as well not to be impolite to a Primal Djinn. His gaze cross all present, his red eyes lingered on Eclipse a moment longer before turning back to an addressing Promethea. “This young woman is…your property? Seems rather odd given she is a fellow Djinn.”
“She isn’t an heir, if that is what you are implying,” Megatron soothed. “Aparently her father is dead and his estate dispersed.” Her grip tightened, Solstice could tell something wasn’t right. Eclipse could see her distress too, offering her hand in comfort. But the grip that enclosed her hand only skimmed the top of the anger she felt.
“And where might her mother be?” Promethea asked, looking to Megatron and the other Djinn. Megatron replied with a simple shrug while Nitroglide denied a response. Annoyed but not done, Promethea turned to the woman. “My dear, perhaps you can enlighten us. Where might your mother be?” The woman remained still, looking to Solstice and Eclipse. Both placed their hands on hers, smiling and nodding her head.
“She…she is of the ether, my Lady…and he killed her,” nodding to Nitroglide, his expression spoke it all.
“She killed herself, my lady. A tragedy indeed, she was a very loving and beautiful slave,” he explained, approaching them with his hand outstretched to command her to him. She remained where she was, glaring down the djinn.
“She was no slave, she was free. My father married her!” Solstice could see the green coming back; she tightened her grip and help the djinn calm. They didn’t need another rampage.
“Free?” Promethea pondered, looking to her again and noticed something. Her magic swirled and whipped again, tickling the woman's arm and creeped into her chest. She gasped, feeling the magic wrap and tickle before returning to its master. “She speaks the truth. My Lord your slave is indeed a free femme. Both herself and her mother.” Turning to Nitroglide, he turned from annoyed to flustered in mere seconds.
“How…that can’t be!” he snapped, looking to his own slaves. One scuttled forward, fearful of what might occur next. He handed Nitroglide a datapad, one he skimmed through until he found what he intended. “There is no record of their marriage. See, My Lord, My lady. She has no claim and thus a slave.”
“No she wouldn’t!” Solstice snapped and stepped away from the woman and left her in Eclipse's care; showing just what she inherited from her mother. Her temper. “Like mother said she is a free femme, she shouldn't even have a contract! And dispersed property? The Justicars would take control and either offer the staff contracts out or keep it as a halfway house until all contracts have been fulfilled! What you’ve done to her is blatant disregard to her safety and a violation of her civil rights!”
“How dare you!” Nitroglide slipped, his anger flaring. “She is my property! Regardless of who her father was! So is her mother!”
“Enough Nitroglide,” Megatron’s calm shook the mech. “You overstep, she is my property, however damaged,” the woman made a move to attack but Eclipse managed to hold her back. “I don’t appreciate being robbed or fooled, you will make amends.”
“But I…My Lord please, be reasonable. I am as much fooled as you are,” Nitroglide pleaded, offering to show Megatron the same pad. “S-she was given to me, as was her mother.”
“No! You took us! You pretended to be a friend of my father and you stole us!!” the woman shrieked, needing Promethea to place a hand on her to prevent her charge despite Eclipse's best efforts.
“Stole?” Promethea, though shocked she didn’t show it. It disgusted her. Slavery was one thing, but theft of property, whether living or inanimate, was what only lowlife scum.
“My lady, she lies. I did not steal anyone or anything,” Nitroglide flapped, looking between the two high-rank and annoyed nobles.
“Regardless, I hope the Justicars present will report this…unsavoury incident to the proper authorities and to the Consortium,” Promethea’s glare intensified on Nitroglide as he tried and failed to reason with them. Enraged, turning on his own slaves, Nitroglide left with the Justicars as they began investigating, leaving the nobles to their own devices. “Now, to you my dear.” Promethea turned to the djinn, her own expression turning grime as she eyed Megatron.
“Indeed, My Lady,” Megatron approached but watched as the woman leaned closer to Eclipse. Solstice knew she didn’t want to go back, she couldn’t let that happen.
“Please My Lord,” Solstice stood forward, placing herself before the Void djinn. “This femme has been wronged, whether more or less than yourself but wronged the same.” Megatron listened, if only because of who her mother was. “I implore you, My Lord, to…allow me to purchase her contract from you.”
“A steep ask, even for one of your roots my dear,” Megatron crossed his arms, eyeing the little human and his property behind Solstice. “You know I do not give my property away on simple whims. If you wish to make an exchange, what could you possibly offer me in exchange?”
“Your life for one,” Promethea’s motherly nature took hold, reality warping around her again in anger, but she paused as Solstice placed her hand on her own. She watched her daughter smile, silently asking to allow her to try. She knew she couldn’t simply offer him payment, that wouldn’t sway him in the least given his standing in Kaon. A mech known for his wide tastes and that he never gave up a contract. All who worked with him remained until after their first decade. He had exotic tastes, wide and even dark tastes.
“I am willing to pay the same amount you were regrettably parted with, my Lord,” Solstice started. “Anything I can do to erase such a regrettable mistake though as to what else I could offer I cannot quite place. Perhaps there is something you might suggest or want?” She hoped she timed her words. To be subtly reminded of how he was duped by Nitroglide might lighten his price, but even then it would be a stretch.
“A smart mouth I see,” Megatron shook his head. She certainly had her mother’s guile though lacked the same tact. Removing from his garb, he produced a small necklace. The djinn flinched, signifying it as her contract. “Perhaps I will accept your offer for this…damaged stock," smiling, Solstice moved to accept the contract but was stunned to find it removed from her grasp. "However, you present a rather...interesting proposition. I will need time to consider your offer for a trade, but until I have chosen I will hold onto her contract,” looking to the femme, his very smirk drove her anger, flaring green in her eyes.
“But now you leave me at a disadvantage, you have her contract yet I wish to claim her service, how do I know you won't return my request and simply keep her?” Solstice asked, watching Megatron closely. Instead, one of his attendants approached with a datapad. Quickly scanning it's contents he handed the pad to Solstice.
"An assurence, this allows the djinn to remain with you even if I hold her contract until such a time as our agreement is fulfilled or ebolished," Seeing no reason to object, Solstice took the pad and reading through the contents before signing. Seeing as Megatron's seal was already in place, she extended her hand. Megatron, a smirk crossing his cheeks, didn't accept her hand in a shake but raised it to his lips and placed a small peck. He may have been feared and called a monster, but he was always a gentleman. And if only to see the rise he recieved from her ever watchful mother. She reclaimed her hand, nodding as Megatron took his leave.
Promethea watched with a clear eye, monitoring her daughter while minding Megatron. Thankful these proceedings were completed without incident, despite the small peck on her daughter's hand. Her aura rippled a moment at such a bold gesture to perform before a mother, but the djinn turned away and moved on to his next state of business. Solstice, however didn't seem pretrubed by his gesture, turned to the woman and offered her the agreement.
“You’re going to be free,” she smiled, watching the djinn look over the pad in a stunned silence. She looked between them, glancing between Solstice's smiled and Eclipse's grin, she was unsure of what to do but her mind raced to its conclusion as Solstice turned away.
“Wait,” catching her attention, Solstice observed the woman. “I…I want to thank you. Please…I…how can I repay you?” a little surprised, she looked to her mother.
“Well, our intent here was to find you a personal guard,” Promethea shrugged but seemed weary. Snatching the agreement from her servos, Promethea looked over the terms. “Are you a capable fighter?” She could see from the recordings on the pad as well as what she had witnessed prior that the femme was strong and fierce, but was she trained and disciplined?
“I am…My Lady,” turning, Promethea was peeked to see the femme on bended knee, bowing to her. She was indeed trained, whether by her mother’s teachings or by the harsh treatment Nitroglide gave her.
“Do you swear to protect my daughter, the one whom you owe your freedom and liberation to?” Solstice gasped as her mother treated her like some plain slave. Again.
“Mother please! That isn’t nec…” she was stopped as the femme rose, turning her attention to her. Eclipse stepped back as the taller woman towered over Solstice. Promethea was truly curious as her origins now; the woman bowed to her the same but while on her knee, she took Solstice’s hand as if it were carefully crafted glass. Brought to her painted lip, the woman placed a small chaste kiss on her knuckled, erasing the kiss just left by Megatron. This intrigued Promethea; most swearing like this and especially in Kaon, it’s a simple bow or a bent knee as she did before. But this…this spoke more of the femme.
Solstice, however, was surprised and embarrassed by the woman's display. Her face flushed red, more so when the djinn looked up.
“Nightfury. And I am yours, my lady. I will shield your back, and give my life for yours if it comes to that. I swear this by Primus above and to the Ether,” A proclamation more than a promise. One that seemed to satisfy the contract and Promethea. Solstice stood confused, but Eclipse had recognised the words from an old scroll in Promethea's library. Quick to Solstice side, she whispered in her ear. Unsure about the she was told, Solstice turned as Eclipse nodded. Taking a breath, Solstice took Nightfury's hand in both of hers.
"I vow...that you will always have a place in my home, and at my table. And that I shall ask no service of you that might bring you dishonour. I swear it by Primus above and to the Ether." Promethea perked at her daughter's reply, her own smile gracing painted lips.
This was going to be an interesting contract.