Equality when acceptable, dominance when necessary
Empath Amara, beaten and nearly forced to become a reproductive machine for rich men, escapes with the help of her cousins. She runs far away, hoping to find freedom for herself and ultimately for all women. The world she finds herself in holds the key she is seeking, but it’s more complicated than the one she left, and equally as dangerous.
When she is captured again, three powerful men rescue her, agreeing to help Amara on her quest, knowing they could lose her forever. But when she becomes a target, their focus changes to keeping their woman safe – by any means necessary.
Publisher’s Note: This steamy sci-fi reverse harem romance contains elements of power exchange. It can be read and enjoyed as a standalone.
Amara Finauu –Year 2179 Cailis Island, Pacific Ocean
Global Office of Scientific Health Training Center
The mental and physical anguish was excruciating. Amara couldn’t contain her cry of misery as the woman next to her wailed. The fears of the surrounding women had melded with her own and the culmination of it was, at times, overpowering. It didn’t divert her own misery; it highlighted it.
“Are you ready to admit that there is no way out? Will you agree to the surgery to make you what you need to be to do your part, your duty?”
“I’m a prisoner only.” Her chest heaved with the exertion of speaking. “I give no consent.”
The searing burn came immediately after the sharp snap of the leather implement of torture. It was similar to an old weapon called a whip, giving the sound of the tool of agony, bringing her senses to levels of terror. The burn, however, was from a probe that seared her skin, tearing it at times, scorching it always. Amara’s scream, and the added pain of the others’ anguish that she carried inside, took her consciousness for a blessed moment but only that.
The burn and then sting of the leather bit into her skin, bringing her back to the present. The resounding slap seemed to echo the emotional cries of those women around her, compounding her own feelings of panic. Her gift, in this environment, was indeed a curse. Empathic abilities had enhanced her understanding of people for as long as she could remember. Now it was keeping her from shutting down. The echoes in her brain kept her aware of her surroundings, plaguing her with the constant knowledge of where she was and what was happening to her.
The cold airwas blowing on Amara’s heated body, bringing her back into the room of horrors. If it were another circumstance, she would have welcomed the time she was left alone and the cooling air, but she knew that once the heat had been disbursed from her sweaty body, the cold air would not be turned off. It would continue to blow on her until she was frigid, her body going from overheated, to shocked, to frozen, another brand of torture she could barely endure. Their island was tropical, cold being foreign. She had no tolerance for it. The tremors were beginning. She tried to separate her thoughts from the situation at hand.
Amara had been taken to her room and dumped on her mattress. The end of the day must have come, or they had better things to do. Either way, her second day of torture was over, and she couldn’t believe she had survived it. She knew, however, that the next day would be more of the same and she shed tears she didn’t think she had left for the way her life had turned out. Falling into an exhausted sleep, Amara’s mind drifted and she dreamed of the men who would protect her. Her fantasy dreams were all that kept her alive at times.
She had survived, thought Amara the next day as they forced her into the chamber of horrors as she now knew this room to be. She could hear and feel the sound of the pain the captive next to her endured. Amara finally realized what some of these methods of torture were. They were greatly exaggerated forms of the sexual pleasures they had shown the women in training. When only pleasure was the goal, they were exciting, but when they were used in a deviously malicious way, they were true torture.
As it always did for a few moments at a time when their anguish was too much, the plea of deliverance pulled Amara from her own misery for seconds before her own body spasmed with the heavy thud of the leather. This time no electronic searing, just a two-tongued devil. She was to become a slave to men’s pleasure because they were stronger than she, because she had refused to be a breeder by acquiescence, and this was the result. She was to be beaten into submission. She felt liquid trickle down her back and wondered briefly if it was merely sweat or sweat mingling with her own blood. That had been a normal event for her recently due to her refusal. Relieving darkness descended.
It wasn’t until much later, when her heart quit it’s violent pounding and her mind had cleared of the first fog of horrific fear, that Amara realized how ingenious the use of the old truck was in deflecting discovery and ownership of the deed. Who would suspect the growing universal government to possess a rogue faction? The regime that had done so much good in the last years already had insurgents. Surely the ruling administration that would soon guide the entire world, would never condone such callous abuse of women if they knew.
A mandate had been sent to the leaders of her community that her island was one of the chosen elites. They were given the privilege of helping to repopulate the world. A mandate of similar fashion had gone out to other parts of the world several generations ago, to help reestablish the balance of males to females after the last war. There were three females to every male then and multiple female partners were encouraged. Gender selection was a new concept then.
Unfortunately, the ramifications of trying to create more male children than females had backfired. Now the male population extended to more than a two point nine male to female ratio. The population was diminishing as men couldn’t find females and women didn’t want to mate exclusively. Some didn’t want to procreate at all.
Something must be done. This was their solution. Reverse gender engineering to force multiple births, though choice had nothing to do with the program now. Women were forced to participate, for their full childbearing years, and then given a pension if they survived being a baby factory. It disgusted Amara.
Her family rejoiced they had only one daughter. They were assured that each family could keep one female, per generation, to further the island people’s own line. But it, as so many other things in the recent past, was a lie.
“Johan and I won’t allow them to keep you, Amara,” vowed her cousin Karik, as the sanctioned kidnappers held the two strapping males at gunpoint, while others drew her further from her home. They were forcing young women of the island to participate in their nefarious plan of “Mating for Mankind.”
Karik grunted as the butt of the rifle slammed into his temple. Amara prayed he didn’t die from his injuries. Not because of her. She watched Johan stand stoically but with utter hatred and fury in his normally kind eyes. She believed if they could save her, they would.
Amara was told from a young age she could see, hear, feel things that most others could not. Her mother had the same torturous talent. She’d been able to use it for the good of the island and Amara had wanted to do the same—until her capture. Now, in this environment, Amara could only feel the anguish of the surrounding people. “When the time is right, you will help others and feel proud that you have been given this gift,” her mother had assured her. Perhaps now was that time.
She, like other women on the island, had additional genitalia. More fleshy bits than most, is what she was told. One doctor had come to the island and said the women were hermaphrodites. Amara’s mother vehemently denied the women’s differences were that. But again, her mother had reassured Amara that one day she would come to understand and appreciate her difference.
Amara had never mentioned it again. Of the two things making her so different, her empathic abilities were not something she could ignore or pretend didn’t exist. While she didn’t announce the anomaly, many knew of her as a psychic or seer. She wasn’t. She could predict things based on people’s emotions, could even decipher their thoughts at times, but she couldn’t see events in the future. Her family had hidden Amara when the surveyors had come around.
“The women of this island are strong, well built, and made for breeding,” the representative from the Global Office of Scientific Health told the community when they had arrived. “You should be proud you will be a part of the survival of mankind, excited that your genetic makeup will be in many peoples of the world.”
Some of her island community did not see it as a privilege to give up their women to be trained, altered as needed, emotionally and physically and then used for breeding. They would never find a family or create a home if allowed to be used in this way. They were to go to men of high intellect, great influence and even more power, all to ensure these men’s DNA, their essence, wasn’t lost but passed on in their children. The women would not stay to raise their children unless the men were a group and then the agreement was they could stay long enough to procreate once for each of the group.
Evidently there was a protocol in those instances. Each man must mate exclusively with the woman provided until she was impregnated. Then he could have her as he wished until she was ready to be impregnated again. Then the protocol was reinstated. Amara’s family heard that the women were taken from their infants and given four months to rest before finding them another receiving male. The process would start all over. Consent was not required.
Each woman would produce until they could no longer bear a healthy child or was rejected by two men. They were then returned to their families—broken—with a monthly stipend for the rest of their lives. It was rationalized that the women had no true meaning until they were the mothers of the wounded world. Then their value as a commodity, their quality of life in a materialistic sense, rose. It was enough compensation for their enforced slavery.
Amara disagreed. “We have minds. We’re intelligent beings, born of the same seed that men are born of and we can change the world, save the world with our abilities, our minds, not our bodies.” Amara had tried to reason with her captors, but there was no hope for it. They wanted her, and they had her. She had prayed every night since her abduction that her cousins could steal her back before it was too late.
The first days of captivity were torture because of the frightened women all around her. She was absorbing their pain as well as her own and it was crippling. Then the training began, and soon the women fell into a routine, which seemed to calm many of them. The women who relinquished their control, even the true hermaphrodites, were given much pleasure as they learned to please a man. Everything was geared to gain the women’s willing acceptance to their fate, and no luxury had been denied them, except freedom.
Amara had undergone the first part of the training, mostly because it was expected, and it was not unpleasant. She was not made to couple with a man, so the training was informative. She was given pleasure when she accepted it, but she was never violated. Some women bought into the propaganda. By the end of the training, most did. They felt they were part of a special group of people with a special task. Their sole purpose in life was to ensure the continuation of mankind. Not Amara. She was biding her time until her cousins could rescue her.
As she began to go into the transition stage, things changed. She was lured like the others by accolades and special treats to give her consent to physical alterations. In her case, she was to have removed the small, extra appendage—at a minimum. As the process began with the women who had signed consents, Amara saw her friends and neighbors change drastically.
Once the surgeries had taken place it was almost as though their will to live was also removed. They became risky and their behaviors erratic, nothing appeared to matter anymore. They were often warned that this was a dangerous time in the training process because the highest rate of self-destruction happened during the healing time after the surgeries and before the emotion eradication happened.
The population on Amara’s island was small, meaning not many women escaped the capture and training process unscathed. Amara didn’t believe, no matter what she was told, that it wasn’t simple enslavement under the guise of humanitarian efforts for the good of all mankind. She had overheard one of the surgeons with another high-ranking official speaking.
“Do you believe the complacency, the stupidity of these people? I could never guess at our good luck. Finding this out of the way island, and them living this secluded life. They are so gullible. They trust when no one else in the world does.” She recognized the surgeon’s voice from his explanation of the procedures.
The other man chuckled. It was a sound she could still hear. He was the one who told the community leaders he would not take them all and that it was a totally voluntary service.
“Yes, it’s unbelievable that they don’t make a public outcry with those in the rest of the world. They could actually stop this, but they are like lemmings following their leader to the slaughter.”
“Amazing but true, just like that group found in the Himalayas. I hear there are others who have escaped total modernization and have been recruited. They have given over without a fuss and made our job easy. I hope the potential intellect isn’t as dampened as their self-preservation instincts. It would ruin the efforts.”
“Or at least lessen the benefits. Damn women. But they have always been the lesser gender.”
Amara could sense the cold callousness of the speaker’s heart. She would never forget his voice.
The men had laughed at their own inhumane joke, but Amara became determined. It was at that moment that Amara vowed to escape and tell the world of the crimes being perpetrated against her island community and others. Before the spotlight was turned on her as a hold out, she began to gather names. Hiding and sneaking around, listening to conversations, memorizing places and names to share when she escaped.
Amara had refusedthe second stage of training. She watched and found an opportunity to run, but she was recaptured just before she had made it home. She almost yelled out that she knew there was no mandate that they submit to this type of treatment, but if she did, her life would have surely ended and so would the knowledge, so she kept silent.
Her cousin’s words played in her mind as they returned her to her prison. She clung to the fading hope. “Johan and I won’t allow them to keep you, Amara.”
From that night on, her dreams of the women calling her to them came nightly. “Come, my dear. Your men are here waiting.”
Amara was determined she would not be altered in any way. Oh, they could force her, but she would rather die trying to thwart their plan than allow the alterations. That wasn’t going to happen to her. Something deep down inside Amara told her that their plan was not her destiny. She was destined for something more. She was not going to succumb to being altered, changed forever, nor would that be her ultimate end.
Her dreams were of three strong men coming to her rescue later—not now, but soon. She sensed their presence, their protection over her. The dark-haired woman began invading her thoughts, assisting her in mental protection against the evil surrounding her.
Nothing like that dream connection had happened before. She normally needed to be close in proximity. Maybe her mind was stressed to the point of being able to reach out. But regardless, if she sensed they would find her soon, keep her safe, that meant there was a later. Fairytale or not, she would cling to that hope. As the days passed, a calm alertness came over her.
The first man the dream walker woman showed her appeared to be some kind of leader: dark in complexion, eyes and hair. He was meticulous, confident and well dressed. He commanded, no, demanded attention. The second one was playful, smiling, gentle but intelligent and important—a healer. He looked to be of Italian or Mediterranean descent with an expectation of getting his way.
The final man was immense, but that didn’t scare her. He had the kindest ice-blue eyes. He had wheat-colored long hair and fair skin. His muscles had muscles. He was the protector—more nurturing than the other two—but still a force of nature. She saw them with a female who looked like herself. They simply existed in her dream, unlike the woman who was actively participating and speaking to Amara. Somehow, she could feel her whole being yearn for them.
Several days after she’d started having the dreams, Amara had been able to escape again. It was her second attempt to gain her freedom. By this time, she had been through the training and through her first attempt. She had learned more about what to do to survive. She had raced through greenery she’d played in as a young girl with her cousins. The freedom she had once felt long gone, stolen by those who would enslave her. Her head was finally quiet. There were no women close enough to invade her mind, the frightened emotions of those who were not eager to be altered no longer invaded her every waking thought.
She came upon several women. “Come with me. I can hide you.”
The women looked at her and smiled but they were empty, emotionless, distorted smiles. Did men really want a woman that had no emotion, one that couldn’t be passionate or have a desire for them? Would they simply accept the vessel and not dream of the woman that once had inhabited it?
One altered, flat affect woman spoke. “I’m quite content to return to the facility. You should come with me. It isn’t bad. I admit I had missed family at first but now, it’s freeing, really. I don’t have the extra baggage of heightened emotions to muddle my day.” The monotone was eerie.
There was nothing, not even the most modest flicker in Amara’s mind. No flash of an inner life fire. She couldn’t sense any connection at all with these women. She knew it was too late to save them, so she rushed on. Her empathic abilities told her there was nothing there to have any compassion or sympathy with her plight or indeed their own at this point. She was devastated when she was found. Most likely turned in by those women.
In the beginning, after the first month, when she had refused to go along with stage two of the training and had tried to escape, her globally sanctioned captors had started by attempting to spark her sensual side to gain her compliance. They didn’t know what she could do, what she was capable of doing. Her captors had no idea she crawled inside their heads. Rather, they opened the door to their emotions, and she walked right in.
She understood what they hoped, and it had not worked. They’d thought once she knew what sexual gratifications she could receive if she gave in to their desires, she would agree to the empathy block, the erasing of her deeper emotions, and the surgical removal of part of her anatomy. It didn’t work. She knew their weaknesses and exploited them. It was difficult to push all the physical and emotional pain away, but she did it in short bursts.
Her second attempt at escape had worked in ending the unwanted sexual enticements, but she now had a different anguish to deal with. Evidently, she was considered too much of a risk. They had to break her. She’d been suffering the consequences of her actions ever since.
Her captors had turned mean. Soon, the treats and benevolence they used to draw their desired response had given way to physical torture of a different type. They weren’t trying to offer her sexual favors, which she had consistently declined. They now beat her and tormented her, using less civilized methods, to force her compliance.
At first, they used a hard leather strap of some sort. That was quickly suspended as it was doing too much damage to her skin too quickly, and she had lost consciousness too often. They switched to something just as vile but less physically destructive. They had no idea she was an empath and was also bearing the burden of the others. But had they known, they would have exploited that gift to break down her resistance.
Not for the first timeAmara rethought her choices in life, but she simply couldn’t be emotionless which is what a breeder had to be. A breeder’s job was to breed not to bond, not to stay, but to reproduce only. She had begun to dream of having men, maybe even several husbands, who loved her, protected her, wanted her. Men who honored her intelligence. They would make her life carefree and end this nightmare.
Amara knew it was never to be, and yet she couldn’t find a way to become resigned to her future. Or to succumb to the next part of the preparation process. Her dreams became full of a woman with long flowing black hair and a well-rounded belly trying to take her to three powerful men whose bodies looked strong but whose faces were obscured.
“Come to us. We will keep you safe. Your men will keep you safe. They will fulfill your destiny, but you must come to us.” Was this just a nightmare for the woman was pregnant and it wasn’t one man but three that she was offering to Amara. It made no sense, but her intuition said she was wrong. These people were safe and would protect her if she could only find them.
The loud, angry voice pulled her from her desperate daydream. “You need to stop fighting this. Everyone must do what they can to help the human race continue, Amara. You will agree with me before I’m done, or you will die in your vain attempt to defy me.”
She was dumped on the hard mattress in her holding cell where she lay in between ‘discussions’. She was left alone now, in her room, but there was always a guard outside her door. She marked day three of her torture as over. Three days in which these humanitarians tried to coerce her agreement to be altered, to become a human baby factory, since no other methods in the last month had worked. There wasn’t much more she could handle. She lay where she landed, and her thoughts wandered as they often did when not filled with others’ pain. It was a coping mechanism she wished she had better honed.
The door flew open and Amara didn’t have the energy to react. Her eyes never opened. “They’ve decided to go ahead with the surgery tomorrow morning. We don’t have time to wait on you coming to your senses. Enjoy your last night as a resister. You’ll be a convert soon.”
She heard shuffling and talking. The guard that had been keeping vigil at her door since her second attempt at escape and her three days of physical torture was absent tonight. She had been dragged to her room after the last beating. They were obviously satisfied they had gained her submission. Amara wanted to feel pride in her stamina but all she felt was pain and defeat. She couldn’t hold back the burning tears. Her cousins weren’t coming. She was destined to be a shell or to die fighting her captors.
After three days of abuse, Amara wasn’t sure she had the energy to do anything but submit. An inner will to survive was almost all she could muster at this point. She clung to whatever it was that pushed her to persevere. It told her she couldn’t give up. There was something more for her. Maybe it was her grandfather’s voice in her head telling her never to give in.
“Amara never surrender who you are to be what someone else wants you to be. That is a life not worth living. If you are certain that what you want is worthy of you, then do not stop until you accomplish it. A life well lived is a legacy you will be proud to leave behind.”
Of course, her grandfather had been born after the Great Destruction—more correctly called the Annihilation War. He’d died before the scientist had discovered Amara’s people and imprisoned their women. He died before the world went chaotic, when the world powers discovered that their original fix broke things even more, leaving this imposed order.
Her grandfather died when she was just a young girl and within a few years, her little island was visited by these authorized enslavers. Almost as though his presence kept them safe but when his guardian post was no longer manned, the protection was removed. They were vulnerable. But, of course, that couldn’t be true. Even a young girl knew it was a fairytale and fantasy.
Now, as Amara lay in her hard bed, in the room designed to do nothing more than house her, she instinctively knew this was her last chance to get away. The tracking device would be implanted tomorrow when they performed the altering surgery. She had not known about the device until tonight. Another overheard conversation when they thought she was still passed out from her most recent beating. The women would never be able to get away.
Every movement hurt, even lying still was painful. Amara had not been given any food, and little water, for the last two days in an effort to weaken her further. Tonight, they didn’t care, evidently, for a tray was on the floor next to the mattress, but she had no energy to consume more than a few gulps of water. Everything since she had been caught the last time was designed to take away her will to run. No contact with another person, but those women who were refusing. There were only two others in their version of a torture chamber, today.
She must have fallen asleep because she groaned in pain when the guard roughly shook her awake. “Get up, bitch. You’re to go into surgery this morning. They put you third in line. I guess they decided they didn’t need your consent after all. Finally, we’ll be done with you fighting us. I imagine you’re too tenderized to cause us any more trouble, even now. I rather liked giving my sadistic tendencies some freedoms and will miss our meetings in the gray room. Now, get up. Don’t bother with clothing. You won’t need it.”
She was actually relieved that she didn’t have to perform a ritual that had afforded her no comfort the last few days and in fact, would add to her misery. He pushed Amara’s naked, beaten and swollen body into the hallway, laughing when her knees hit the floor. He must have thought she wouldn’t be able to climb onto the gurney since he unceremoniously grabbed her up and flung her onto the portable bed. She bit her lip hard to stop the scream trying to escape when her bruised ribs gave under the maltreatment. She was cold, and her teeth hurt from gnashing against each other trying to generate some warmth.
A man walked past dressed in a white medical coat and a man dressed in an expensive suit was with him. She could feel the momentary angst from the men as one barked an order to the guard. “For fuck’s sake, cover that woman. We can’t have other women seeing her marked body and panicking.”
Amara would have been embarrassed to be naked if she wasn’t so weak and in such pain. As it was, she couldn’t scare up any feelings of shame. Her overwrought empathic abilities had decimated her ability to do much more than exist. She lay on the makeshift bed, cold even with the thin blanket thrown over her, in pain, and drifting in and out of consciousness as she waited her turn. Once she nearly fell off and if she hadn’t instinctively rolled away from the edge of the gurney, hitting the wall she was pushed against, she would have fallen hard, possibly adding broken bones to her list of maladies.
Another man who was like an orderly began to move her bed but stopped. “They don’t need you right away. I’m going to take a quick break. Now, don’t go anywhere, my dear,” he taunted her. The man cackled at his own sick joke as he briskly walked away. If she could only gather enough energy to move, she might be able to push the next person’s gurney in the hallway into her spot. She could barely move but not without great cost. Amara tried to numb her mind for what lay ahead. Without warning the building rocked.