Rowan gasped, unable to contain the sound any longer as the stuff filled her and finally, the syringe was removed. She clenched her bottom tight then released it just as quickly, already feeling the initial burn of the stuff.
Without a moment’s delay, the sound of the first switch whipping through the air filled her ears. It was a moment after contact before she registered its pain and sucked in a breath. The second stripe fell and she gasped again. If people called out, she quickly became unaware as her whipping continued. Captain Amro worked fast and struck hard, hard enough that the doctor approached him more than once to stay his arm. She had been spanked before, it was how the breeders were punished, but this was something else entirely. The strap she was used to, although terrible, didn’t compare to this pain.
Sweat covered her and she heard her own screams. When the fourth switch broke and Captain Amro reached for the next, she thought she would die. She saw him raise his arm and squeezed her eyes shut, trying to somehow disappear into the stone that held her prisoner.
Rowan made some sound, expecting the switch to fall, but after that one command, all was silent behind her. Her bottom and the backs of her legs all the way to her ankles throbbed.
“You’ll kill her.”
Rowan knew that voice, she’d heard it before.
“Commander Norrin,” Captain Amro said, his tone surprised and more annoyed.
Rowan dared a glance over her shoulder to find Captain Amro standing before Commander Norrin. Commander Norrin ruled all of the colonies. Captain Amro answered to him and only to him as the leader of this particular colony, Andorra. Commander Norrin’s visits to the colonies were rare and always unexpected.
“I am well within my rights as captain to punish her as I see fit,” Captain Amro said.
Rowan swallowed, awaiting Commander Norrin’s response, which came quickly in the form of him taking the switch and breaking it in half. He turned to Rowan then back to Captain Amro before taking the two steps to reach her.
“Look at me,” he said to her.
Rowan kept her gaze to the stone. She shouldn’t look him in the eye, it wasn’t allowed. Commander Norrin was the highest-ranking officer of all the colonies.
“I said look at me,” he repeated.
Something told her Commander Norrin saving her from Captain Amro would not bode well for her.
Slowly, she turned fiery green eyes up to meet his.
“She is a breeder, captain,” he said, looking at Rowan all along, his gaze traveling the length of her before he reached to grip a handful of hair and lift her face up as if to show it to the captain. “Or have you somehow failed to see that?”
“Sir, she would have been put to death if she were not a breeder. I showed mercy.”
Commander Norrin then looked at her bottom, the backs of her legs, his eyebrows rising. “I see your brand of mercy. Unbind her,” he told the guards who immediately ran to do just that. He took one menacing step toward Captain Amro and in that moment, Rowan knew this man was not to be fooled with. “Without the breeders, we die,” he said through clenched teeth. For a moment, Rowan thought she glimpsed a battle behind his eyes, but his next sentence left her feeling cold. “Besides, there are other ways to punish one so valuable.” This last sentence was directed at her and the look in his eyes as he said it turned her blood to ice.
She rose slowly as her bonds were removed but before she could rise fully, Commander Norrin reached out a hand and, without even having to look at her, gripped her by the back of her neck and dragged her forward to face the people.
“People of Andorra,” Commander Norrin began, addressing the crowd who instantly quieted. “The crimes this breeder has committed against the state, against Andorra, and against all of you, are horrific. If she were not a breeder, she would be publically executed,” he said, pausing for effect. “However, as she is a breeder, you must rest assured that her punishment will be carried out to the fullest extent of our laws. For now, I ask you all to go home. This spectacle is over.”
The crowd began to dissipate, their sighs and mumblings making their disappointment obvious.
“Take her to the examining room. The doctors are ready for her. Bind her if she gives you any trouble,” he ordered the guards who had brought her to the platform. “Captain, come with me,” he finished.
The guards took her roughly by the arms, every one of their movements agony on her bruised body as they made their way into the massive building that housed the breeders. As they marched her down the corridor and to the stairs that would lead to the medical rooms, she heard a roar she would have thought only an animal could make. When a door opened, she and her guards all turned their heads in the direction of the commotion. There, a giant of a man who dwarfed even the six-foot-tall men of the colony, gripped a guard by the throat and pushed him hard against the wall.