What's she writing now?

I took down the first half of "The Vanishing" because it was getting so long it was beginning to become cumbersome to add content.  This second part does not contain so much sex... well ANY sex... 

In the first half, Jen was abducted by Aliens and spent several weeks in a training center.  Now she has been sold and in the the second part of her story she must deal with being the alien... an unwilling stranger in a strange land.  


A trio of guards marched along with her, one on each side and a third behind.  The wound through what seemed like a mile of unfamiliar corridors, each one wider and busier than the next.  Once they even passed through what seemed like a huge public square that bustled with a bewildering number of other people.   

Jen had hesitated in the entrance , staring in sudden shock at the crowd of figures.  Again, they were human shaped but the variation was just far away from familiar to make the hair on the back of her neck stand up.  Figures too tall or short or wide, hair in the wrong places, eyes slanted not quite right made her eyes stare and flinch away as her mind could not quite get around this strangeness.

Her heart was racing and her palms sweating.  The urge to turn and flee was so strong that she took a step backwards, unintentionally bumping into the guard standing behind her.  He gave her an impatient push forward and Jen caught a glimpse of silver in his hand.  Obviously it was not unexpected for a slave to resist at times like this.  Jen forced her feet to take a step forward and then another.  The guard gave her another push, forcing her to increase her speed and Jen struggled to match the speed of all the others that seemed to rushing along in a hurry to get someplace.

No one seemed to notice the small group, but Jen was painfully conscious of her nudity.  There were no other slaves that she could see.  In fact, as far as she could see, there were no other females at all.  These men were all clothed, wearing a bewildering variety of styles and colors.  She could not help but cross her arms across her breasts as she trotted along.

The guards were adept at steering their charges, a nudge or a gesture was all that was needed to guide her into another wide hallway, only slightly less busy.  Now the twists and turns led to narrower and emptier passages.  Finally they came to wide stairway leading up to a set of wide doors and as one of the guards pushed them open, Jen peered into another warehouse large room and to her sudden heart stopping excitement, what looked like brilliant sunlight streaming in through a cavern like opening. 

Jen squinted and held her hand up to shade her eyes.  She could barely remember the last time she had seen the sky.  It was almost unbearably bright and she wondered if it was this place, a different planet and a different sun that made it seem blinding.

Two massive creatures, silhouetted in the bright light approached.  There seemed to be some kind of wordless exchange and the three guards from the training center withdrew and Jen found herself standing alone.  Jen realized she was shaking, her hands trembling and her breath coming short and fast.  Her eyes were scanning and she could feel the panic starting to rise up.  Jen wasn’t even completely aware that she was slowly backing up.

One of the things stepped closer, said something in a gravely sounding voice and thrust a bulky black object toward her.  Jen yelped and scrambled backward.  For an instant, everything was still.  Then the two massive figures gradually separated and as one moved to the side, Jen could see its features a little more clearly.  To her surprise, other than being very large, this was the most human looking thing she had seen since her abduction.  He looked like a huge black football player.  His eyes met hers and he smiled reassuringly and once again held out the black object, shaking it out to show her that it was a garment and held it out again.

As Jen tentatively reached out for it with a trembling hand, he cooed in a deep voice.  It was a dress or robe like thing, black, floor length, long sleeved, with a deep hood.  Jen glanced at the garment and then at the massive black man.  He pointed at the dress and then at her.  It did not have any buttons or zippers.  It was clear that it was designed to slip over her head.  Slowly Jen gathered the soft fabric so she could put her head and deftly pulled it over her head in one quick movement.  The fabric tumbled down and was long enough to pool around her feet.  Keeping her eyes on the guard that had handed her the dress she fished around and slipped her arms through the voluminous sleeves. 

As her second hand appeared both guards moved in a well practiced, blindingly quick attack.  The closer one, in front of her, stepped up quickly as the second deftly shifted behind her.  Before Jen was totally aware, both her wrists were behind her back and she felt the click and cool metal of some kind of restraint.  Each of them had her one of arms and had her lifted up so high that her toes barely were touching the floor and were moving quickly toward the bright sunlight. 

As her feet futilely scrabbled to get some kind of traction, to either walk or run, the one that had handed her the dress made another cooing sound.  As they transitioned out into the light he reached with his free hand and flipped the hood up and over her face.  Jen frantically shook her head, trying to throw it off, to see where they were taking her.  She could see down, see their feet in heavy black boots, the shadows dark and sharp and feel the heat reflecting up.  It was hot, like walking into a blast furnace.  When one of her toes touched the surface it was like touching down on a stove top.  Jen yelped and sucked her feet up; letting the two men carry her.

They did not go far.  They stopped and put her down and Jen found herself hopping and yelping as they opened the doors on what looked like a cross between a submarine and a delivery truck.  As soon as the door was open, Jen did not need any encouragement, she darted inside.  It was cooler inside, the floor carpeted and she sighed in relief.  She was sure if she had stood out there any longer she might have scorched the skin off the bottom of her feet.  It was just tall enough inside for her to stand up and she could see a number of containers lashed down in the back and a number of seats with surprisingly familiar looking four point seat belts in the front. 

Without a firm grasp on her arms, Jen was able to shake the hood off her head and peer out the tinted windows at the front of the vehicle.  Somehow, the sense of panic had disappeared with the forward movement, she was being taken somewhere and a tentative sense of curiosity was beginning to assert itself.  She hardly noticed as she was gently pushed to sit down and the seat belt fastened, just leaned forward and stared those front windows. 

There were buildings, not tall, but square and familiar.  Her attention was drawn as another vehicle glided past, and then another.  None of them seemed to have wheels; they just floated along apparently defying gravity.  One of the large men moved to sit in the front and began to manipulate some buttons and levers and Jen could feel the car thing rise up and move forward.

There were a few more buildings but less than she expected and remembering the stairs, Jen realized most of the complex was located under the surface.  As they left the little island of civilization, the surface of the planet spread out ahead of her.  It was a baked, barren expanse of dirt and rocks without a single sign of life.  Even through the tinted windshield the reflected light made Jen squint.  She thought to herself that this was a miserable place, one she would not want to be stranded in.

The driver pushed some more levers and the car abruptly accelerated sharply.  Jen boggled slightly when the driver casually unfastened his seat belts and leaned back and began to talk to the other guard in the same unfathomable language.  Every once in a while Jen caught them glancing at her and she suspected that she was the topic of their conversation.   

Every once in a while there would be another vehicle, hurtling along at the same break neck speeds.  Several times they passed clusters of sand colored buildings that looked dusty and more than a little dilapidated in the searing light.  Gradually the terrain changed, still impossibly dry and barren, rocky outcrops began to show, the road they were following starting to wind its way down and up cliffs and once to Jen’s gasping surprise, the car crossing a deep crevasse without any bridge or structure to keep it from falling down.  To her relief, whatever was holding the car up off the surface of the road kept it from plummeting off the edge.  She caught one of the guards staring at her with an indulgent smile and fought the urge to smile back.

They sped along on what was obviously some kind of autopilot for what seemed hours.  But the light did now seem to diminish.  Jen was distinctly aware of being hungry and her bladder was starting to complain and she gazed around the vehicle with a sinking sense of inevitability.  Finally she spoke up, “You guys don’t speak English do you?”

She was rewarded with a shrug and an admonishing hand.  She sighed and looked up at the ceiling. She told herself that she had not reached the point of embarrassing herself yet, that she could go on hours more. 

Her attempt to communicate did seem to trigger a bit of a change in the tone of the conversation between the two men.  The one that had been doing the driving seemed to be taking orders from the other one.  And not long after that he moved to her and unfastened the seat belt and pulled her to stand, for an instant Jen felt a sudden flash of uncertainty and fear, but then she felt her hands being freed and she carefully brought them in front of her and gratefully rubbed her wrists. 

“Thanks.”  Jen directed her gratitude toward what seemed to be the senior of the two men, wondering if this was the one that had purchased her, but she doubted it.  These guys were just muscle.  It showed in their unadorned black, nearly identical uniforms. 

Jen bit her lip and pointed at the general location of her bladder and made a pained face.  “You wouldn’t happen to have a bathroom hidden around her somewhere?”  She deliberately squirmed and made a show of pressing her knees together.

Again her words seemed to trigger some discussion, there was even a brief snort of amusement from the boss and some more words were issued.  Once more, it was the driver that took gentle hold of one of her arms and urged her toward the back of the vehicle.  One of the box like objects was pulled out and a lid opened, revealing what looked like a chair with a hole in it.  Jen did not hesitate, just pulled up the skirts of the long dress and sat down.  In many ways the dress made it easier, draping across her lap and giving her some small sense of privacy.  The guard watched her the whole time and when she sighed and stood up, he pointed back toward where she had been sitting and said something in his gruff low voice. 

Jen could tell he was telling her to go back and sit down.  She was promptly strapped in again but this time she found her hands left free and when the driver returned he handed a small box to the one in charge and then an identical box was pushed into her hands.  Jen watched as the senior guard, opened the lid and began to eat, reaching in and gathering up something and putting it into his mouth.  He paused and gestured toward her box and grunted something around a full mouth. 

Cautiously Jen opened the lid and looked in.  There were some kinds of pieces of green and yellow stuff, some strips of something pink and one corner was filled with some kind of think brownish paste.  Jen sniffed it cautiously and then looked at him again.  He was using his fingers to gather up a mix of the different things and then deftly transferring them to his mouth.  Jen picked up one of the yellow things and tasted it.  It was crisp, salty and just a bit sour, like a mild pickle.  She dipped her finger in the brownish paste and found it to be bland, starchy.  The pinkish things were chewy and hot, the green things pungent and tasted vaguely like cooked cabbage.  Nothing was overtly animal flesh and Jen found if she mixed the various things they made a very tasty mouth full, very reminiscent of sushi, and she began to eat in earnest.

When she finished she said, “Thank you,” again and handed the empty box to the driver.  He took it and as he did he said something back.   Jen tipped her head and repeated the sounds, slowly enunciating each syllable, “ka am da?”

He snorted and said some more words so quickly that Jen was baffled.  She yawned and leaned back, grateful to have her hands free.  She did not try to talk again.  As she watched the boring landscape flow by, her eyelids got heavy and she did not even fight the urge to sleep.

It was dark when she was roused by sensation of her ears popping.  She blinked and looked around.  The cabin of the car was lit dimly by some lights near the controls up front.  Both guards were asleep.  Jen had the distinct feeling that they were traveling downhill, but it was nearly pitch black outside.  Tentatively she traced the shape of the buckles of the straps that held her in her chair.  She was pretty sure she could take them off, but good sense won out.  The car must be going at least a hundred miles per hour and there was nowhere to go.  These guys had been pretty easy going, but she had a definite sense that they exuded strength and capability and she did not want to test their patience.

When she woke the second time, one of the guards was shaking her shoulder.  Jen yawned and rubbed her eyes.  Her back felt stiff and her butt was numb from sitting so long.  It took her a minute to realize that the car was not moving and the door was open.  Someone was moving the boxes out.  It was still dark and a number of figures were moving around in a pool of artificial light.  Jen stood uncertainly, taking a tentative step toward the door, but a large hand moved to stop her.  She could see the wrist restraints in the hand of the driver and did not resist when her hands were drawn behind her once again. 

Only then was she urged out of the vehicle.  The air was still warm, perhaps not that blast furnace hot it had been when she had gotten into the car, but oppressive.  But here is was heavy with humidity and Jen’s eyes widened at the dense jungle of trees and flowers that surrounded them.  She was still looking around when she was led through a pair of doors and marched down a wide flight of stairs. 

She realized that, once again, they were below the surface.  And once again there was a long series of corridors, but here they were wider, the surfaces more varied and made up of richer materials.  The training center had been stark, clean and efficient.  Here there was a love of design, color and art. 

The same two guards led her through a pair of doors made up of what appeared to be heavy, cherry colored wood.  Inside the floor was covered with a soft, textured fabric.  There was furniture, wood tables and chairs, upholstered couches and a desk with a nude woman sitting in a chair behind it.  Jen had a disturbing image of a four star hotel and a concierge.  The woman looked up and spoke in halting heavily accented English, “Slave Jenferr, my name is Slave Tanna.  I am chosen to be teacher for you.” 

Tanna spoke rapidly with the two guards, asking them questions and listening to their gruff answers.  Eventually one of them moved and removed the wrist restraints.  Tanna spoke carefully, “Please to remove the sun robe.”  She pointed at the long black dress.  Jen hesitated for an instant and then reluctantly pulled it off over her head.  Tanna stared at her tattoos and her lips twitched slightly, like she was thinking of saying something and then either did not know the words or thought better of it. 

Jen was used to people staring at her tattoos and ignored the girl’s reaction.  Instead she asked, “You are a slave too?”

Tanna nodded, “Yes, I serve House Dhanda Ap Vashra Millandra for,” the girl hesitated and seemed to be thinking or counting, “twenty-two arcs.”

Jen wondered what she meant by arc.  It couldn’t be that long.  The girl did not look much older than she was.  It didn’t matter, the other words, those were the important ones.   “Dhanda Ap Vashra  Millandra?  Is that who bought me?”

Tanna shook her head and laughed, “No no, you send for training.”  Tanna frowned, “Please to forgive my poor language.  I study your language short time.  First I order to teach you our language, but now, it is time for sleep.  We start tomorrow.”                
Tanna stood up and beckoned for Jen to follow as she moved toward a doorway on the far side of the room.  The hallway was short with a number of doors.  Tanna opened one and stood back, letting Jen look inside.  For a second Jen had images of being back in the college dorm, there was a single poster over each bed with some kind of calligraphy on each, books on shelves, two low beds and matching tables with chairs.  “We share room.  Come in.  It many ticks past time for sleep.” 

Jen stepped in and reevaluated her first impression, no, maybe not a dorm, it was simpler, zen-like, more like a cloister or a retreat.  She looked around and cleared her throat nervously.  Speaking slowly, enunciating carefully she asked, “Where is the bathroom?”

Tanna paused and then laughed softly, “Please to forgive.”  She led the way back out, gesturing for Jen to follow.  Further down the hall was an open archway.  Tanna pointed in, “Bathing room here.”  Then she continued further and pointed at a closed door and hesitated.  “Please to forgive, memory fails.”  She pushed open the door and pointed.  “This room for…”  She tipped her head and frowned clearly struggling to remember and clapped her hands softly in triumph, “toilet!”

Jen could not help but smile at the girl’s obvious joy at her success as she walked in.  As she crossed the threshold the lights came on.  The room was not large.  The only furnishings were row of four gleaming commodes made up of what appeared to be stone stood along one wall.  There were no privacy screens between them.  She moved toward on with a sigh of relief.  “Thanks, it was a long ride.” 

Tanna frowned, clearly not quite understanding her meaning.  Then to Jen’s mild embarrassment she followed Jen into the room and sat down on the toilet immediately to her right.  Somehow this was different than the institutional, enforced lack of privacy of the training center.  Here, the richly appointed rooms, the wood, marble, the very serene atmosphere made this casual familiarity even more disturbing.

It took a few moments to relax enough to pee.  Jen tried to turn her eyes and thoughts away from this but as she cast her eyes around looking for something else to look at, anything else to think about she realized that the wall facing them was a made up of a floor to ceiling, side to side mirror.  It had been weeks since she had seen herself.  She could not help but stare.  She was still thin and angular, her hair was its usual jumble of different colors, but the purples and oranges had faded and the roots shown the familiar dirty blond shade.  She reached up and touched her hair, the roots were loose again.

Tanna’s accented voice was soft, “To clean, touch here.”

Jen glanced at the girl and saw she was pointing at something on the side of the toilet.  Jen nodded uncertainly and looked down at her own toilet.  There was a subtle depression in the surface of the stone.  Cautiously she touched it with a finger tip.  She jumped as an oscillating fountain of warm liquid struck her from underneath. 

There was the softest of giggles and when she looked up at the reflection in the mirror she could not help but laugh at the surprised look on her face.  Tanna was clearly struggling to control her reaction, covering her mouth with her hands.  She choked out, “Please to forgive.  To dry, touch again.”

This time there was a rush of warm air, but this time Jen was expecting it.  She could not help but smile ruefully, “Don’t worry about it.  I just wasn’t expecting it.”  She stood up and stared down at the toilet.  It was sleek, streamlined and she could not see exactly where the water or air had come from.  “Crapper, bidet and blow dryer all in one.”  She began to wander around the room.  There was no place to wash her hands but then again, other than touch the button she had not touched anything that would have gotten her hands dirty.  These space age toilets sort of made the habit of hand washing unnecessary.

Tanna was standing near the door.  She seemed slightly nervous.  She pointed up the hall toward their room.  “Please to forgive, rules require return to sleep room.”

Jen wondered what this girl would do if she told her to fuck off, that she could just take her rules and shove them up her ass.  There did not seem to be any guards or induction rods around here.  But a practical, pragmatic sense that this was not the time to test the actual limits of this place made her shrug and follow Tanna out and down the hall to their room. 

Tanna went immediately to her bed and climbed in under the covers.  Jen followed suit, getting into a bed and pulling up the soft blanket over her.  Tanna said something in a different language and the light was instantly gone. 

Jen lay there, thinking about how strange it felt to lie on such a soft surface, to have a blanket over her.  It felt wonderful, but she could not relax.  Too many questions were bouncing around in her head.  What was this place?  What were they going to do to her here?  How come Tanna looked so human?  For that matter, how come all the things she had seen seemed at least part human?  It was obvious that the paleontologists back on earth had gotten it wrong, way wrong.  People did not evolve from primates; well maybe it would be more accurate to say that primates did not evolve from…”  Jen sighed and turned under the blanket trying to remember the name of that little four legged big eyed thing that was a theorized to be the ancestor of primates.  She shook her head as she realized it didn’t matter, none of that stuff mattered anymore.  Not only were the paleontologists wrong, so were the physicists and god knows what else.  This last thought sent her off in another direction.  All those Christians had it pretty fucked up too.  There was no way to fit all these beings and planets into the fucking bible either.  Again she shook her head, telling herself that it didn’t matter.  This thinking was confusing and tended to stir up the fear again.  She withdrew into counting, breathing and touching her fingertips with her thumb in the familiar soothing cadence she always retreated to when the questions in her head began to threaten to overwhelm.

Jen was dreaming, some jumbled images of careening through the darkness in some kind of vehicle, but it wasn’t clear if it was a car or a plane or a spaceship.  She was trying to peer out the window but all she could see was the reflection of her face.  But the dream vanished and was forgotten when she woke.  Tanna was standing by her bed, speaking rapidly in the other language, the language that she was supposed to learn.  Jen opened her eyes and stared around, wondering who she was talking to.  Tanna smiled in greeting.  “Morning greetings, Slave Jennifer, please to rise.”

Jen crawled out from her bed and looked around the empty room.  “Who were you talking to?”

Tanna quickly straightened out the blankets of Jen’s bed.  “Please to make flat upon rising.”  And then she beckoned for Jen to follow, “Morning bathing is required.  Please to follow.”

Clearly Tanna had an agenda and a schedule to follow.  Once more Jen wondered what the consequences would be if she just refused, if she just turned around and crawled back into the “made flat” bed.  But too much was new and too many questions were filling her head.  The only way to get some of those questions answered was to go out and do what this girl wanted.

There were voices and movement in the hall and Jen’s eyes widened with curiosity as a lithe, fur covered girl with unnaturally large eyes passed them in the hall.  There was an exchange of greetings between Tanna and this exotic creature and Jen could not help but gawk with wide fascinated eyes at the back of the girl as she went down the hall.  Two other women were in the bathing room, chattering animatedly to each other as they stood under a body sized blow dryer.  The paused and the same greeting words were exchanged and then some other speech.  Jen recognized Tanna’s odd pronunciation of her name, “Jenferr,” interspersed into the conversation. 

Jen was staring at the two, again they were slightly divergent from the human norm, one tiny, hairless and pale, the other tall, her legs and arms a bit too long.  Facial features, just a little off, eyes to far apart, nose too small.  Again Jen felt the prickle of discomfort.  The tiny one caught her eye and smiled, showing small sharp teeth, she spoke the same greeting words, “Galla macht, Ap Jenferr.”

Jen blinked and nodded, “Um… Galla… Macht… um… Ap?”

There was a brief moment of silence and then the taller of the two women hooted with laugher.  The little one frowned and then chattered rapidly.  Tanna spoke very rapidly; her tone reproving and the two instantly sobered and said several things in a more subdued tone and then quickly exited the bathing room.

Jen could not help but feel like she had said something not exactly correct and that whatever she had said, it was not complimentary.

“Slave Jenferr, please to bathe.”  Tanna’s voice was cool and she was frowning.  She moved to stand in a specific place and water began to cascade over her body.  She pointed at the place next to her and repeated the words.  “Please to bathe.” 

The showers were similar to those at the training center.  The soap dispenser was a little more complex, a wider variety soaps and lotions were available.  Tanna let Jen take the time to sample a few and choose the one she liked. 

As they stood under the blowing air and Jen was carefully squeezing the water from her dreadlocks, Tanna stared at Jen’s hair.  Her frown was deeper.  Jen met her eyes challenging her to say something.  And Tanna made her first comment, “Your appearance custom of your home planet?”

Tanna’s expression and tone was so similar to her mother’s that Jen could not help but bristle slightly.  “My appearance is customary for me.”

Tanna did not react.  In fact she seemed slightly distracted and then began to talk rapidly in her language.  Again there was no one there, but from the pauses and cadence, Jen had the definite impression that the girl was talking to someone else.  Jen realized that the girl was receiving messages in some way, probably had some kind of communication thingy somewhere, but as far as she could tell, the girl was buck naked and didn’t have any kind of object stuck in her ear.  Jen shrugged, telling herself that it could be up her butt or inside the girl’s head for that matter.

Tanna turned and spoke quickly.  “Please to forgive but we take too many times in bathing.  Must go faster.  Very few times to consume morning food.  Please to come now.”

There was a definite urgency to the girl’s pace as she led the way to the end of the hall, through the large lobby and out another door into a room full of tables.  Jen was distracted by an expanse of windows looking out onto a lush tropical looking garden with a fountain.  There were a couple of women still sitting and eating, but when Tanna entered, they all stood up and quickly put their trays on a shelf and left.  There were the usual greetings of, “Galla Macht,” but then there were other words and Jen got the definite impression that the lingerers were making some kind of excuses, that they were just a little apprehensive of Tanna.

Jen frowned at the girl.  She couldn’t be much older than 22 or 24, with thick, shiny blond, shoulder length hair.  She wasn’t classically beautiful, more the cute kind of pretty that would fade to just slightly piggy as she aged.  She was just slightly plump with lush curves and full breasts that promised inevitable weight gain in the future.  She just didn’t look intimidating, but it was clear that here, looks could be deceiving.

Tanna led her to a buffet of unfamiliar food.  She rapidly filled a bowl with a number of round balls of something doughy and poured some kind of sauce over them.  She pointed at the food, “Please to eat quickly.”

Jen dished up an identical bowl of food and followed her to sit.  She gingerly picked up one of the sticky balls and bit into it.  The sauce was slightly acidic and yet sweet, the ball was some kind of a dumpling.  Jen flinched and pulled it back, examining the filling.  It was salty and chewy, and fibrous.  She forced herself to swallow and put the uneaten half back into the bowl. 

Tanna stared at her, clearly puzzled.  “Not like?”

Jen shook her head.  “No, not like.”  She did not feel like trying to explain her profound distaste for eating meat, how she hated the way it felt inside her mouth, the flavor and most of all the idea of eating the flesh of another animal. 

Tanna’s bowl was already empty and she spoke around her last mouthful.  “Please to forgive, but time for eat is gone.”  She stood and took Jen’s tray.  “Next eat at evening meal.”  She looked expectantly at Jen, clearly waiting for her to stand and follow passively.

Jen pressed her lips together and muttered as she stood, “What is the fucking rush?”

Tanna sent her a sharp look and started to speak, “Rules…”

Jen found herself shouting, “Don’t you get it?  I don’t fucking care about your fucking rules! I didn’t ask to come here.  I am sick of your god damned ‘Please to’s’ and your bullshit politeness.  This ain’t no school or spa, it is some kind of a fucking slave camp and I am not going to let you fucking brain wash me.”

Tanna had stepped back.  Her expression was cool and observant.  Jen stood panting and trembling.  Tanna waited a few moments longer and then spoke in an infuriatingly calm voice. “Slave Jenferr, I not understand all words you say.  Please to come to learning center.”  She turned and walked away without a backward glance.

Jen stood staring at her with disbelieving eyes.  This was fucking insane.  But the prospect of learning triggered that spark of curiosity again.  She loathed that she had to hurry to catch up with the quickly retreating figure. 

The learning center looked remarkably similar to the interview rooms of the training center.  The large semi reclining chair was a little plusher and there weren’t any straps that Jen could see but the large video screen was there.  The mere sight of it made the hair on the back of Jen’s neck prickle. 

Tanna pointed at the chair, “Please to sit.”  She began to push some buttons and an image came up on the screen.  The benign smiling entity looked enough like Crandle that Jen flinched.  But this man spoke in perfect unaccented English.  “Welcome to Easy To Advanced Tantama.”  Then he repeated the phrase in what Jen was rapidly learning to recognize as the common language spoken among these people.  Jen glanced at Tanna and moved to sit in the chair.  She wasn’t totally sure if this was some kind of live link or a recording.  But as the speech continued, describing how the learning course was set up and how to advance from one section to the next by simply touching the screen, Jen quickly realized this had to be some prerecorded educational program.

Tanna stayed in the room only long enough to make sure that Jen understood how the controls and then stepped out of the room.   

Jen found the teaching system was easy to follow.  Not only did Jen learn the words, the program also incorporated learning the phonetic alphabet and reading as well.  It used a lot of pictures and when she was prompted to speak, there was a visual feedback system that helped her refine her pronunciation.  Each step was built upon the other with repeated references back to previously learned words and phrases to reinforce her memory.  The program used a lot of games and humor to keep her attention focused.  It was fascinating. 

Jen was so absorbed that she did not notice the passage of time.  She blinked in surprise when Tanna moved the video screen away from her reach.  She spoke in Tantama.  “Ap Jenferr, you learn fast.” 

Jen smiled when she had realized that she understood.  Then she carefully spoke back, using the new language.  “My name is Jen.”

Tanna tipped her head to one side, “Ap Jen?”

Her smile vanished as Jen felt a chill as the reminder of her status was brought into the conversation.  She swallowed down the sudden bitter taste that rose up in the back of her throat and spoke in English.  “What do you want?”

Tanna continued in Tantama, speaking slowly and sticking to the simple words Jen had already learned.  “You sit long time.  I think you want break to toilet.  I think you want drink.”  She pointed to a tall glass of some kind of beverage sitting on a counter. 

Just the sight of the drink made Jen’s mouth water.  She hadn’t even been aware of how dry her mouth was until it was mentioned.  She turned and slid her feet to the floor.  She was surprised to feel just a bit stiff.  She must have been sitting for a long time.  She reached for the glass.  It was tall and filled with a deep purple beverage.  She sipped it and sighed at the light tart flavor and she took a several deep swallows.  It was only after she had almost emptied the glass that a random thought about the drinks they had given her on the training table, drinks calculated to suppress her inhibitions and trigger her sickening physical responses.

Jen stared into the glass and then at Tanna.  “What is it?”

“The juice of the Banzama fruit.”

Jen felt a wave of suspicion.  “Just fruit juice?  Nothing else?”

Tanna looked thoughtful and turned to the screen and pushed several buttons on the rim and then began to rapidly tap the screen, moving from one screen to the next so rapidly that Jen was bewildered.  Finally she stopped and spoke rapidly at the screen in Tantama.  Almost instantly her words were scrolling across the screen written in English. 

“Please to forgive, but I do not know enough of your language to accurately answer such a specialized question directly.  Much of the food and beverages we consume here at House Dhanda Ap Vashra Millandra contain a variety of chemicals and additives that enhance flavor, promote our physical health and to preserve.  I do not have immediate access to specific ingredients of this particular beverage, but if you are curious I am sure I can get that information for you.”

Jen stared at the screen and then at the girl and sighed.  She looked down into the glass of fruit juice and drained the last swallow.  “No, that’s okay.”  She gestured at the screen, “That is pretty cool, can I ask you some questions?”

Tanna stared at the screen and spoke rapidly.  The words scrolled quickly.  “Slave Jen, the contract with your owner is for a limited time period.  I am responsible to produce quick results.  This leaves us little time.  Once you become more conversant in Tantama, we will be able to talk during other daily tasks.  Hopefully I will have time to answer questions then.  We only have a short amount of time for this break from assigned tasks.  Do you feel the need to use the toilet?”      
Jen did not particularly need to go to bathroom but the prospect of taking a brief walk and stretching her legs sounded like a good idea.  She spoke in English.  “Yeah, I could use the bathroom.”

Tanna nodded and turned to leave, speaking again in Tantama, “Ap Jen, please to speak in Tantama as much as possible to promote learning.”

The wall that was mirror last night was a window today.  Jen sat and looked out at the thick vegetation and then gasped as a brilliantly colored creature flitted between the green branches and lit on the ground near to the window.  About six inches tall, it moved like a bird but scintillating, metallic greens, golds with sparkles of blues reflected off scales rather than feathers.  In fact it looked more like a tiny pterodactyl than a bird.  She stared at it fascinated and whispered, “What the hell is that?”

Tanna lifted a reproving finger, “Please to speak in Tantama.”

Jen narrowed her eyes stubbornly, but the little thing hopped closer and began to scrabble at the window as if it was trying to get in.  When one of its efforts were so energetic that it overturned and flopped awkwardly on the ground, Jen giggled and then found the words in Tantama, “What is it?”

Tanna nodded in approval, “Good, Ap Jen, we call them flanna.  They are pets.”  She paused as if trying to remember a word, “Whole name is S’flanna’cthst.”  The last word was as much phlegm and throat clearing as vowels and consonants.  Jen could tell that it was not a Tantama word. 

As the little creature continued to tap and struggle at the glass, Tanna spoke out loud in Tantama, “Lights off,” and as the lights dimmed the little creature froze and then darted away, disappearing instantly in the thick foliage.  Tanna turned to Jen, “It is a male and sees its reflection in the polarized window.  He tries to chase away a rival.”  Jen did not understand every word, but was pleased to catch the gist of the statement.  She did not protest when Tanna prompted her that time was passing and that she needed to return to the learning center.

The afternoon passed just as quickly as the morning had.  Nouns and verbs, games and rhymes songs, reading and reviewing, her afternoon went by in a flash.  Jen did not even notice the passage of time.  Completely immersing herself in learning was easy and familiar; and in very many ways, an escape from the emotional roller coaster of anger and fear that had become her daily reality.  Jen was so absorbed that when Tanna moved between her and the screen she felt a sudden flash of frustrated anger. 

Tanna ignored her narrowed eyes; her voice was warm and praising.  “Ap Jen, you learn very quickly.  The reports of your intelligence were accurate.  Your owners will be gratified.  It is near time for evening meal.”

It was only then that Jen became aware of how hungry she was, ravenous in fact.  She hoped that there was something without meat as she trailed along after Tanna. 

The dining area was filled with the chatter of women and Jen hesitated and stared at the nearly two dozen naked females sitting and standing around the room.  There was a flurry of greetings.  Jen noticed that only a few of the women had the word ‘Ap’ before their names, many others were called ‘Am’ or ‘Mil’ and Tanna was ‘Amilla Tanna’.  Jen wondered at the differences. 

She could tell that she was the object of speculation, could not help but notice the way that the curious eyes traced the decorations on her skin, stared at her hair.  She was able to understand a few less than discrete statements about her strange appearance.  Tanna cleared her throat sharply and the buzz of voices became a little subdued.

Tanna stood and spoke in a soft lecturing tone.  “Ap Jen is a new member to our household.  She is unfamiliar with our ways and we will all need to remember our best manners so she may learn from our examples.  I urge you to remember that the fifth covenant of a worthy servant is that she treats all around her with care and respect.”

Jen paused and shot a sidelong glance at Tanna.  Words like covenant and worthy servant pushed all her buttons, but none of the other women seemed to be the slightest bit resistant.  In fact they acted like a group of school girls caught misbehaving by the nun at a Catholic school.  Jen looked back, as usual, there was not a scrap of clothing and none of them seemed the slightest bit concerned and self conscious.  Again there was a strange mix of shapes and skin tones, one or two were even covered with short, velvety, silvery fur.

Jen hung back and watched as some other women, equally nude, brought out platters of food.  The smells were unfamiliar but not unappetizing and Jen could feel her mouth flood with saliva as her empty stomach growled audibly.  She did not hesitate when Tanna urged her forward.  She tried not to look too close, to analyze the contents of the various dishes, just loaded her plate and sat down.  Again there were no utensils and Jen watched the others neatly using their fingers to gather up little balls of the strange food and pop them into their mouths.

Jen’s hand trembled a little and a few grains of the food fell down her front, sticking to one of her breasts.  Self consciously she wiped it off, catching the amused glances that were exchanged between two of the other women.  The food itself was starchy, somewhat reminiscent of some kind of steamed grain with bits of other stuff mixed in.  Again there were sour vegetables, like lemons or pickles and strips of something chewy. 

Jen lifted the brown chewy thing and spoke for the first time.  “What is this?”

A couple of the other women spoke up speaking very rapidly and saying too many words that Jen had yet to learn.  She held up her hand, carefully enunciating the new words.  “Is it…?”  She did not know the word for meat, she groped around for a word, “…animal?”

There was a series of shocked giggles and Jen had no difficulty understanding the vehement words to the contrary.  It was clear that she had once again said something very offensive.  One girl actually got up and rushed away from the table.  Tanna spoke up, her voice was cool and reproving. “Ap Jen, we do not eat the flesh of animals.  To suggest such a thing is barbaric.”

The other women at the table were still chattering and the looks they were shooting her were clearly repulsed.  Jen nibbled the chewy thing and stared at it.  She did not like it that much, it was vaguely salty and reminded her too much of meat.  She muttered to herself in English, “I’m a fucking vegetarian, damn it.  Stop looking at me like I am fucking Jeffery Dahmer.”

Then she did not speak again for the rest of the meal.  The fact that the food was meat free did nothing to lighten her mood.  In fact, inexplicably it only served to make her feel angrier.  The fact that she was different from these women not only in appearance but in knowledge and culture as well was not lost on her.  For the first time she had a real sense of how alien she was.  As the thought went through her head, Jen stiffened and blinked back tears.  That was the truth of it.  She was the alien here.  And the fact that it had been forced upon her without her consent made it almost beyond bearing. 

When Tanna informed her that she was to return to the learning center after the evening meal Jen felt a small amount of comfort.  There she could lose herself in the act of learning, she could be alone and free from sense of being lost and angry.

Jen had a definite sense of fatigue, her brain was literally tired and she had trouble focusing her eyes when Tanna came for her.  She looked at the poster over the bed and sounded out the words and then read it aloud, doing nothing to hide the sarcasm in her voice, “A worthy servant serves all.”  

Tanna did not seem to hear the irony and only smiled and nodded, “Very good, Ap Jen.  It is the second covenant of a worthy servant.”  Tanna’s response silenced the thousand questions that boiled around in Jen’s head.  She just gritted her teeth and pulled the cover up over her head.

The next day and the day after that were disturbingly similar.  Long sessions in the learning center interrupted for brief minutes of supervised use of the toilet or meals.  Rather than risk sounding stupid, Jen deliberately kept her words to herself but each day, the conversations around her became easier and easier to understand.  Topics ranged from good natured teasing, to infuriatingly cheerful complaints about the expectations of their teachers to even more unbelievable eager anticipation of being able to finally leave the House, to return to finally serve their owners.  Jen just gritted her teeth and fought down the urge to question their sanity. 
The only refuge from this madness was the learning center.  Jen ravenously absorbed each section of the language lesson and raced to the next one.  Not only was she absorbing the language, she was learning a lot about the people and the culture.  The word servant and slave seemed interchangeable.  A whole section was devoted to words regarding rank.  Rank was clearly a matter of prime concern; even slaves had levels of status, from the lowliest “Ap” to the paramount “Milla”.  Jen smirked at the memory of how one of the other slaves had bristled at being called “Ap.”

Female ranks were completely different than male.  In fact it seemed that all females were regarded more as property than as citizens.  Jen could tell the status of citizen had implications that went beyond what was taught in the language program.  It was another question to file away.

The language lessons were enlightening in what they focused upon and what was glaringly absent.  There was nothing in the way of government, geography or history, but extensive sections on etiquette and words to be used when addressing those whose status was different than yours.  Extensive terms for female anatomy were taught, but nothing about male.  Jen wondered about that.