The Strongest Bond
Disclaimer: The characters are mine! They may share a passing resemblance with other people but I just blame their stylists. Sequel to ‘The Binding Tie’ you really need to read that first in order to understand what is going on here.
Slavery exists in this fic as does extreme violence. Sexual violence
of a m/f variety in here. Also a loving consensual f/f relationship. If you’re
too young to vote, you should probably go elsewhere.
Feedback: Much appreciated firstname.lastname@example.org
“Mr Dettore, many people have speculated on the reasons for your hostility towards the freedom of slaves yet you have never made your motives clear; would you be willing, at this time, to give the public this information?” The reporter looked keenly at the big man seated behind the conference table, flanked by two of his rivals, as did all of the assembled press and the home audience.
“I’m glad you asked me that. Before coming to this press conference, I agonised about what I should say in answer to that question. It was only when I spoke with my advisor that I realised that the only way to end this constant speculation was to reveal the truth. This could well make or break me, ladies and gentlemen, so I would appreciate no interjections while I explain.” Nodding, the other panel members agreed to this while the journalists were almost salivating over the news. In the background, Cliff repressed a smug grin.
“You’re probably all very aware hat records of my youth are sealed, or you’d already know what I am about to tell you. The reason for that, and my antipathy, are one and the same. When I was a boy my parents owned a big ranch and many slaves. It as prosperous and my family treated those slaves like they were free – even paid them. Life was great, I had a brother and a sister and we would play with the slave children…” Gradually he trailed off, wearily rubbing his forehead.
“I was at camp when it happened, my siblings didn’t come with me, they’d grown out of it. I’d had a really good time. When nobody came to collect me from the bus, I made my own way home in a cab. What I found was…it was…” he drew in a shuddering breath. “My whole family had been slaughtered, butchered like animals. Body parts were strewn everywhere and the house was on fire. The taxi driver dragged me away…” He blinked back tears and cleared his throat.
“It seems that the slaves weren’t satisfied with life and decide to change their own destiny. That was the day I realised that no matter how much they look like human beings, they aren’t! They are animals that need to be monitored at all times, totally cowed. Many people feel this way, with far les cause than I, but are too afraid to voice their concern. I want to be their voice.” Glancing around the audience he saw shock and understanding in many eyes.
As another reporter started to ask a question his voice was suddenly muted by the man watching his television in a dim room. Sal was stunned by what he had just seen. The re-run press conference from several day s before put the nail in the coffin of his plans to try and keep the young man from power. So many people would identify with his story and feel his pain while others, those he had spoken of, would find the balls to stand up for their beliefs publicly.
“Shit!” Glass shattered against the far wall as he hurled his scotch in frustration.
Snapping the sound back on, he knew he needed to hear what else had been said. As the speakers slowly came back up, he steepled his fingers to his lips and tried to formulate a new plan and waited for more.
“Fire crews arrived here at 7pm, Ken, and the blaze continues to wreak havoc on this city block. Little is known, as yet, as to the cause of the fire, though fire investigators seem sure that it was the work of arsonists.” The dark haired reporter tossed her head, attempting to dislodge hair that had been blown around her face.
The camera panned to the scene of carnage, revealing to the home audience the level of damage caused by the licking flames. Several buildings lay in ruins while others were still fighting back against the lances of water directed t them by fire crews. Fire trucks lined the curb with yellow jacketed men rushing around like insects trying to beat back the danger that they had yet to quash.
“Louise, do they have any idea where the fire actually started?” The camera moved from the studio, taking in the well dressed anchorman, back to the scene of destruction.
“Yes Ken, this is the site of a campaign centre for Bradley Dettore.” The camera moved to show a smoking pile of bricks. “As you can clearly see the building has been totally destroyed. It seems likely that the fire originated here and spread outwards. This is likely to have been the target and initial police inquiries support this. It is suspected that this was some sort of retaliation for the recent comments made by Dettore in a press conference, lending further weight to his campaign.”
“Could this have been the work of extremist freedom activists? Or even a group of freed slaves?”
“Why yes, Ken, that is exactly what the police are looking into. It seems that a large group of what looked to be picketers were seen running from this area shortly before the fire was reported. We’ll keep you posted with more information as it becomes available. This is Louise Warren, Channel Six News at the corner of Preston and Fife, handing you back to the studio.”
“Thank you Louise,” the camera was firmly focused on the anchor. “We will keep you updated on any further developments throughout the night. This seems to be yet another example of the increasing violence directed towards those against emancipation by those who have received the right and their supporters. Is it time for us to start taking head of Dettore’s message? Time will tell.”
With a snick the TV went off, leaving the tall, haggard man sitting in darkness, tapping his fingers agitatedly on his armrest. Snapping on the lamp on the table beside him, he picked up the pen and pad of paper that he kept close to hand. Flipping o a page covered in jumbled thoughts, he began to scroll more information on the page.
Minutes passed as he furiously laid down his thoughts. Finally finished he stood from his seat; paper clutched firmly in hand and made his way to the phone. Picking up the receiver he hit speed dial, waiting to be connected to the familiar address.
“Dad, we have got to do something…”
“Seen it, seen it, that’s weird, soap, blah…Man, doesn’t anybody show anything decent anymore?” Rodrigo threw a kernel of popcorn into his mouth as he continued to scan through the channels looking for something to watch.
Roddie was used to being up late at night but usually he was gallivanting about town surrounded by women, not sitting at home flicking through the channels. He could have gone out, lived it up and forgotten all of his woes, only he didn’t think that would work today, it certainly hadn’t for the rest of the week. His mind was far too preoccupied with worries over his sister and her lover to let loose and have fun. Knowing that he could not discuss the situation with any of his ‘friends’ he’d opted to stay home instead.
Most people saw Rodrigo Prince as the weak link in the family; he knew his parent’s didn’t see it that way but so many others did. He tended to live down to those expectations, drinking, partying, wasting money on frivolous trifles but when push came to shove he always pushed back. Where his family was concerned he pushed very hard indeed. He loved his little sister too much to just sit back and do nothing, problem was, what could he do?
His brother and his father were much better suited to rile against the political machine and he wasn’t entirely sure what part he could play in this personal war. All he knew was that he had to do something. Trying not to wallow too deeply in his malaise he tossed another fluffy ball into the air and caught it in his mouth as he turned to one of a multitude of tabloid gossip shows.
After watching a segment on the newest cosmetic surgery he felt his eyes beginning to droop. Ready to throw in the towel and give in to sleep he was about to turn the television off when an all too familiar face appeared on the screen. Eyes widening in shock he studied the screen. Hanging over the shoulder of the young nymphet, seated in the foreground, was a headshot of his sister. Turning the volume up, he paid rapt attention to her words.
“Speculation is rife tonight about the relationship that singer and heiress Francesca Prince may share with her slave bodyguard. Earlier today several media agencies received packs of materials showing that the Prince Empire has released several of its slaves. This came to light while the police were investigating the death of one named Savage, under the misguide notion that he had run away. It would seem that he had been freed and sent on his way.
Why have the Prince family hidden their freeing of slaves? What do hey have to hide? Are they affiliated with the rogue factions who are raising their heads? All these questions and more and sure to be answered in the next few days; leading us back to our original question, is Francesca Prince in a relationship with her bodyguard? These candid shots taken on the red-carpet at a recent movie premiere would seem to suggest that she is.”
Watching as his sister was escorted down the red carpet by a gentle hand on her back before leaning intimately close to her slave he saw what thousands of other viewers would see. He saw two women who looked far too comfortable together to simply be master and slave. As the segment moved n to something else, he heard none of what was said as he grabbed the cordless at his side, punching n the familiar number.
Resting her elbows on the polished surface of the table, the blond held her head between her hands. Shaggy blond hair covered her eyes as she slowly shook her head in defeat. The three men watching her said nothing, they had already said enough, simply waiting for some sort of verbal response from the young woman. After what felt like hours of silence, she raised her head and rubbed her eyes with one hand while the other curled into a fist on the tabletop.
“We’re screwed, aren’t we?” No shout, no scream just a quiet and resigned question.
“I won’t lie to you Hunter, it doesn’t look good.” Sal had decided to speak to Hunter first, on her own, before facing his daughter. Hopefully the warrior would be able to soothe Francesca’s fears once she was told, not that there was much she could soothe with.
“He might not get in…” Roddie so wanted to inject some hope but couldn’t quite manage it. “Who am I kidding, it wouldn’t matter if he did or didn’t anymore. He’s stirred up so much fear and distrust that the genie is out of the bottle and it ain’t going back.”
“I won’t leave her,” seemingly coming form nowhere, all three men had been expecting it.
“We’d never ask that, Hunter, and it’s too late for it to make any difference even if we did.” Sal reached over and patted her hand reassuringly. “Nate?”
Nate cleared his throughout before slipping on his thin silver spectacles. Opening the pad that lay in front of him he quickly glanced over his notes before beginning. In that brief moment, Hunter was able to see the face of the Prince company, the methodical and deliberate Nathaniel, a contrast to his headstrong father and impetuous brother. Meeting his eyes, she nodded, ready to hear what he had to say.
“Father decided that I should look into possible resolutions to this. Obviously we have several issues to contend with; a) Press interest in you and Francesca, b) Anti-Emancipation protestors outside many Prince holdings, and c) No longer being able to hide your freedom from prying eyes. Now some of these can be lessened but none of them can actually be resolved. We’ve already put out a press release for the companies and dad is going to do a press conference.” He looked to his father who nodded an interjected.
“I am also going to look into the reasons why so many people have been able to look into records that I asked my lawyers to seal. Needless to say they are not going to be my representation for much longer.” Anger was clear in his eyes.
“Next, we think that you and Francesca should go away for a while; away from the press. We’ll find you a private island, some sort of getaway that will be kept totally undisclosed. You can take the children and try not to worry. We’re working on what we’ll do about you after Dettore gets in.” is low, soothing voice and commanding tone made his ideas seem infinitely plausible.
“What about Shep and Megan? The press know that they are free and when the legislation goes through they’ll be rounded up like animals, like me, that can’t happen. I promised them that their baby would be born free…” Noting her growing agitation over the plight of her friends, Rodrigo stepped in.
“That’s where I come in. I actually thought about this before Nate.” There was clear pride in his voice at that revelation. “I don’t have any idea what we’ll do about you, you’re too high profile to hide and anything that might happen to you would be very suspicious. Them, however, we can do something about.” Drawing a file from the satchel on the table he thrust it at her.
Grasping the file she upended it scattering the contents in front of her. There before her lay the accessories of a life, or two as the case may be. Passport, birth certificate, medical records, everything somebody would need to support their identity f questioned. Flipping open one of the two passports she was confronted with a picture of Shep, hair a different colour and style but defiantly her friend, beside a name that was decidedly unfamiliar. Closing the document carefully she turned back to the man who had passed it to her.
“Well, no need to explain to you that those are falsified documents, the problem with false documents is that it isn’t very difficult to pick holes in them.” Rubbing his chin nervously he unconsciously glanced at his father before going on. “I don’t always mix with the most savoury characters and when I started looking into false documents a man approached me who told me he could get me real documents. I asked him what he meant and he explained that many children who die are not taken off of databases. Apparently it’s simple enough to get those records and build a life around them. If you have a life to retire it’s easy enough. Needless to say he was paid a truck load of cash and came up with these. Whether he’ll squeal I can’t tell but I doubt it.”
Picking up from his brother Nate filled in the rest of their plans for the other two gladiators as Hunter simply sat, taking it all in. Occasionally she would nod, or ask a question but in the main she stayed silent simply absorbing every detail to take to her friends.
Megan and Matt sat silently on their coach, staring fixedly at the stash of documents that now decorated their coffee table. They had barely acknowledged the departure of their old friend, too caught up in what they had heard and what it could mean for them. The implications were clear but it was a lot to take in, Hunter’s words still rang in both their ears.
They were to take on the names and identities of two long deceased children while their own lives were snuffed out. There would be some sort of staged accident, probably in a vehicle, where they would ‘die’ leaving only trace amounts of blood and hair to identify them. Then they would simply disappear with their new lives.
It wasn’t that simple, of course, few things ever are but the basics were clear. They had asked her many questions, all of which she had asked earlier for them. The answers were ingenious and covered almost every base. A paper trail had already been laid for the lives that they were to live, an entire history. They would have school and college records, proof of several houses that had been purchased and lived in, bank records and even hospital appointments that they had both made and missed. It was almost perfect. It just might work.
“Will you still love me as a blond?” Curious eyes turned to the redhead holding mirth and a little apprehension.
“As long as you’ll love me brunette!” Slowly se reached for his large hand and rested it on her burgeoning stomach. “We’ll be totally free, no preconceptions, no doubts about us. Our baby will never know the stigma of this life. We have to do this Matt, for the baby and for us…and in a strange way, for Hunter as well.” Leaning over she pressed a tender kiss to his lips.
“I agree, it’s the best option for all of us. I’m really going to miss her, though. We’ll be living this great life and where will she be? The Prince’s are powerful, no doubt,” he held up the passport as proof. “But even they can’t go against the law.”
“I love her too, but I love us more, as selfish as that may sound. They’ll find a way, we need to take what they have given us and go.”
“I know.” He was happy, ecstatic even, yet a part of him could not rejoice knowing that his best friend was probably headed back to a life he thought they had left behind.
To Be Continued...
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