This forum has several quality stories that center around the idea of slavery returning in some fashion or another. These will necessarily share common themes. I have made every effort not to plagiarize, but if any writer or reader notices something that appears to be a word for word copy or paraphrase, please let me know and I will correct it since any appearance of it is entirely by accident.
Nearly the entire Western world borrowed itself into something past bankruptcy. Apparently contingency plans had been drawn -up for some time because every industrialized Western country except Canada the Scandinavian countries defaulted at noon on the same day by simply declaring they would not repay any outstanding debt, would not issue any new debt or currency, and ended every active trade agreement. The US borders and territorial waters were militarized as were the borders of the European Union. The US and EU simply dared anyone to invade to try to collect on the debt. The rest of the planet quickly understood that any invasion would simply be throwing good money after bad and getting too many of their own killed in addition. They also understood that with the two largest hogs of pretty much everything of value and use were now, in essence, hermit kingdoms, they could trade amongst themselves without fear of intervention thus putting a quick end to any ill effects of the suddenly canceled debt.
Each region introduced its own command economy that was intended to be temporary. But nothing so drastic as a sudden and near total reorganization of a society can ever be temporary.
The story involves the US. There is no reason to go into the politics except to say that the Constitution was suspended indefinitely (three generations so far). Oil is, in fact, plentiful but because of a labor- shortage and reorganization, its use is tightly controlled and used almost exclusively in cities. Free citizens can travel at will, but the entire country's infrastructure was reconfigured so that the means of travel from one city to the next were on road and rail specifically set aside to avoid all but accidental contact with the slave society that provides the materials for the free world. In territory the `bound' area is roughly ten times the size as the free but the population is generally kept at roughly 2 - 1 (bound - free).
This will be part history, part journal, part journalism, part in-territory participant story in structure. It is entirely open ended and I have only the roughest of sketches. Comments are welcomed if not encouraged and requests will be honored where possible.
The Free Cities and Migration
The Free Cities was what everyone called what for all intents and purposes was a new country. Even areas that were not cities essentially became so after the migration was complete. And it was difficult to call it a country since the free portions of it were not contiguous. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and South Carolina were the only full states containing no territorial lands. Costal Maine and the coast of New Hampshire were free, but the inland portions and all of Vermont were deemed territorial.
Most of the eastern halves of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, and the costal portion of Georgia finished out the east coast.
The western halves of those states, nearly all of Georgia and all of Florida were territorial.
Costal and the southern third of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana along with coastal Texas finished were what was left of the Gulf states. A wide swath on either side of the Mississippi river up to St Louis was all that remained of the interior of the country except for an arc from Greater Chicago to Detroit.
Portions of west Texas, most of New Mexico, Arizona, and half of Utah and Nevada were the new west. The western third of the 3 west coast states and the part of California that bordered Arizona were the new west coast.
Hawaii was free. However, since tourism was going to take a drastic hit, anyone wishing to relocate to the continental free cities was permitted.
Alaska remained free also, except for timberlands and much of the petroleum industry were deemed to be territorial.
Everything else was the territories.
The migration started by relocating free peoples of Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa along with those living in Denver, Oklahoma City, and the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Free labor went into the three major cities and the smaller ones in the three states and dismantled, demolished, and salvaged
(DDS) all they could. Slave labor began agricultural work in the three states. They also started what was named the Great Reroute.
Meanwhile, renovation of abandoned or neglected neighborhoods in the free cities and construction of new dwellings began in parallel. The response to "but this is my home" and "but this farm has been in my family for generations" was either "it isn't now" or "you can stay, but get used to being slaves." It was a painful process, but everyone involved had seen the enslavement riots and knew that they could simply be relocated as a slave to the territories if they pushed back too hard, so while painful it occurred more smoothly than anyone had anticipated.
As the dwelling space grew, the migration from agricultural areas and towns surrounding the raw materials areas were next mixed with the populations of the smaller interior cities. Paid labor was used to DDS the cities, but after this second migration, that ended and any large enough town to need the treatment was handled by slave labor. The last wave picked up everyone left who had not chosen to leave already.
The so-called Great Reroute was happening along-side each migration. The Slave Bureau in conjunction with the Transportation Department didn't exactly reroute the infrastructure in the territories as tear it up, but Reroute sounded hopeful instead of defeatist, so the misnomer stuck. They had a map of all federal, state, county, and local roads, and the entire rail system. Within a week they had "greenlined" a system of road and rail that removed nearly three-quarters of what had been there. The concrete and asphalt from roads and the steel rails that were not on the greenline map were ripped up and sent to the free cities to be recycled, where possible.
Compensation and housing were Free Cities headache equivalent to the territorial headache from the switch from mechanized to mostly manual farm labor in the grain heartland. Just because you lived in a ten thousand square foot house didn't mean you were going to get either the same size or the relative- equivalent sized home in the Free Cities. For many it worked like that, but not for most. The Bureau simply took the last assessed value of the property and paid that to the "owner." Most city/county assessments are slightly inflated so the "fair market price" argument was impossible to maintain. The "owner" would have to pay the remainder of the mortgage and could use whatever remained (if anything) to choose a new home. For underwater homes, regardless of any other solid or liquid asset the "owner" had, the bank received the full compensation and wrote off the difference. Housing prices were strictly regulated based on size only.
The only benefit anyone had over anyone else was that the earlier migrants had a larger number of properties to choose from, outbidding someone else was no longer possible.
Those in apartments were relocated to apartments of relative-equivalent size. Anyone in a mobile home was upgraded to an apartment.
Those with cars could bring them, however maintaining them was going to be expensive so most opted to sell their cars to the Bureau.
This meant that a large section of the population that wasn't used to having much cash on hand suddenly did. The Bureau offered assistance on how to save rather than splurge and the Bureau setup watchdog groups along-side local watchdog groups whose goals were to squash profiteering before it could start. Little of it occurred because the suddenly
`wealthy' often had at least one family member enslaved and understood better than most that if they became unemployed and lacked the savings to pay bills, they could easily join them.
People already living in the Free Cities were given tax breaks and
`inconvenience bonuses' that assuaged some of the rapid economic imbalance.
The complaint in the Free Cities was that the compensation didn't amount to enough. The response was as blunt as most from the Bureau for complaints of that sort: an armed member of the military didn't force you to pack up and leave everything you knew, but we would be happy to migrate you in the same manner to a different city if you want to know what that feels like.
Where someone ended up was based on their skills. Professional, skilled, and unskilled labor was subdivided. If a family was to be relocated the member whose income would be the highest was the one classified (if both adults were skilled, then a special consideration was given to cover both).
Each person would be randomly assigned to any area that needed the skill and unskilled labor was randomly assigned to any area with a deficit of unskilled labor. Attempted bribery might result in forfeiture; if anyone in the Bureau took the bribe, then all involved would forfeit. There was no evidence this occurred.
The migration was complete in eight years. The obvious construction boom that would end in a glut had been anticipated from the beginning and as the need for new construction began to diminish that labor pool was allowed to find something else on their own or be reassigned, typically to infrastructure maintenance. In other words, the plan was not to have a group of people expand and rebuild the free cities then be sent, enslaves, to the territories when the job was complete.
From the Journal of Stephen Mechamp, Chief Physiologist of the Tri-Peaks Holding Company.
As much as I hate this rotation, I recognize its importance. I'm in the back of the bus filled with Overseer Recruits heading to what they call
"The Compound." I'm back here with my laptop and have actually decided to start keeping some record of what I've done that hasn't been published in the professional journals. This is largely for me - I saw a friend the other day and he said it had been a long time since we had met; I disagreed saying it was just a few months but he was finally able to convince me it had been over two years. When I stopped to think about what I had done in the time between, I realized my life had become a blur of common activity with some focal points that I could remember but not put in any time order.
However, anyone keeping a journal realizes (hopes?) that the work will have an audience beyond him at some point.
I teach a two month graduate seminar in slave physiology at the University each semester. This is the slang term for it (well, slave-phyz actually)
and as a professional I'm supposed to despise it. The catalog calls the seminar Health and Maintenance of a Bound Population. It is truly more than just physiology but the so-called health and maintenance are used in the physiological context. It is a 3 hour a day class for 2 months. I typically start out with fifteen students and end up with 8 (ten in a good semester, as few as 4 in a bad). It is the first course anyone interested in my kind of work has to take, so the washout rate isn't unexpected. The course isn't exactly difficult, but when faced with the realities of the so-called `bound population' instead of the ideals they may have studied before, about half of the class decides that another job will be less trouble.
Which brings me to sitting in the back of a bus filled with Tri-Peaks Overseer Recruits. The company considers the three weeks I spend with these young men as payment for the supposed reward for two months as a professor. I'm at the time of my life where I have researched pretty much all I intend, so the University really isn't a reward anymore. However, since I see what I do as important, not to mention my particular brand of it, I see it as my legacy to continue with it as long as I am able -
that includes my current duties with regards the men on this bus.
We are on our way to the Tri-Peaks Advanced Overseer Training Facility -
how it got named "The Fort" or why is lost on me. It had been a rural high school with an agricultural program so it came with the necessary acreage and reasonably sized pond the company needed for this training program. We only use the gym, fields, cafeteria, auditorium, and a few classrooms that were converted to dorms; otherwise the rest of the space is unused. It is surrounded by the requisite but perfunctory fence, so while it might pass for a minimum security prison, there is nothing fort-like about it. Of the fifty holding companies the same size as, or larger than, Tri-Peaks, less than a dozen use this kind of facility, let alone the reasoning behind it and methodology it teaches. When short and medium term profit outweigh all other considerations, the cost - while not significant at any stage -
seem unjustified. When the slave is considered only a cog to be replaced when worn out (instead of an investment in long term productivity) a place like this facility would make no sense.
I could not work for a company with that ethic.
Tri-Peaks has a variety of overseer types based on the type of labor. I have never memorized the official titles, but have put them into broad categories for myself. General overseers have responsibility for a set number of slaves, area, and production. They have the responsibility to
"encourage" necessary levels of production with whatever whips they have been cleared to use. They have the authority to punish using common lashing or other corporal techniques that do not involve the whip for anything shy of major problems. These overseers are responsible for medium and low labor capacity slaves which for Tri-Peaks includes the less heavy portions of quarry work, mining, and transport (and a small amount of livestock and ag work since Tri-Peaks feeds its property with its own foodstuffs, almost exclusively).
The men on the bus are designated as heavy labor overseers. This is determined from personality testing and classroom observation. They are offered this opportunity very early in their education. Tri- Peaks discovered that men intended to work the heavy labor slaves were not as effective as they should have been if they learned the encouragement and punishment techniques that the general overseers use. They discovered that it was far easier to train an overseer to tone down his methods rather than amp them up - this is due to the overall philosophy the company uses and runs counter to the way overseers behave in purely profit driven enterprises.
Both the psychology and physiology (not to forget nutrition and sanitation)
needs of the middle and low capacity slaves are considerably different from their heavy labor counterpart, meaning, naturally, that the training for the men overseeing them will be considerably different. General overseers graduate in 6 months and undergo a six week probationary/observation period and then they are assigned. The dropout rate is about twenty percent (the reason most give for quitting is they didn't understand there would be an academic approach, and my cursory research has most of those going to companies whose training program is short to non-existent). Heavy labor overseers' graduate in 9 months, have a probationary period of 2 months before being assigned and are recertified every year. The dropout rate is less than a percent - the personality tests are truly that good.
In addition to overseeing heavy labor slaves, these overseers are responsible for serious punishment of the slave population as a whole.
"The Compound" is where they learn to do this. For as much as 12 hours a day for three weeks during which each will be given two days off after the first 10, but no more than a third can be off at any time. Slaves do get down time, however, this training for the overseers must be intense and the slave population is not exactly chosen at random. "The Compound" is one of the places that Tri-Peaks sends recalcitrant slaves, so the population is a mix of uncooperative middle and low capacity slaves and heavy labor slaves
(that may be new or pulled from duties elsewhere there is a surplus of labor for usually seasonal or inventory reasons).
We've arrived. I will air out my usual rooms, shower - just as they will - and prepare for the first lecture.
The Opening Lecture
Dr. Mechamp begins.
"Gentlemen, this first lecture is just that. There will be a question and answer at the end, but I would appreciate full attention until then. The rest of your limited time in the classroom will be fully interactive, so I'm sure you can indulge me in laying out the fundamentals of The Compound." He uses the slang term now since he understands he needs to be seen as `one of the guys' in this setting rather than `the professor.'
"Each of you has probably heard some or all of the following, but you must all hear it now, again, together. The first purpose of the next three weeks is to teach you not just the techniques of punishment but the reasoning behind it. Most of the time here will be spent with different lashes, but some of the time will be spent in what we call close quarter correction and a small amount of time will be spent with different sorts of punishment and encouragement options that will be available to you but you will have ample time to learn their uses during the rest of your training.
"The second purpose is hands on work with heavy labor properties. To this you will be typically paired at random with another overseer and be given a task to perform. After dinner the instructors will go over the results and evaluate from there.
"The third purpose is time and stress management. When posted, except for times when you are overseeing only heavy labor properties in more remote locations or running a heavy haul, there will be times when you will be called to handle situations elsewhere in the area only some of which will involve actual punishment. What we teach here is how to manage these situations well. A note here. This is a recent addition to the curriculum so you can imagine that circumstances in the field indicated it is needed.
"The second and third are self-evident. The first requires more attention.
"We do not hire, train, or retain sadists. Encouragement and punishment are bound by motives and goals. Cruelty has no place here. Some of you will be too harsh or rash early on; we expect that and know how to handle it. I say this because once you have been given the basics, you should feel free to encourage and punish in the way that suits you and the daily debriefs will determine what adjustments are necessary. We prefer that you be as aggressive as necessary early but that is not a license to abuse, just a reality we expect.
"The motives and goals of encouragement are the right amount of force to get the full amount of energy - you will learn more about this in the coming days, but a quick preview, Tri-Peaks' model is founded on energy not labor and yes there is a difference. Too much force will result in a decrease output because it affects both the physical and psychological aspects of the property. Too little will also result in decreased output, typically attributable to what we call psychic laxity. Even with the same team day to day the amount of encouragement force can change so it requires careful vigilance. To answer a question I know will come anyway: it is better to err on the side of too much, and we will get into that specifically later.
"The motive of punishment depends on what makes it necessary. Is the reason you have to do it related to behavior to be adjusted or is it the result of an infraction of company rules or local laws? Each of these will occur in public but which public and how you do it depends on the reason for it. First, it is public because the individual psyche needs the impact of the audience for best effect. Second it is public because the others learn by-proxy - put differently `I don't want that so I won't do what he did.'
"The goal is either to end a behavior or to stabilize a situation or population. A property that needs so much attention that others are allowed to slack is the most common thing you will face. The goal is to make that one understand that the penalty for the behavior is severe. The audience is typically no larger than the immediate group and any close by that could have witnessed the slacker. Remember when the properties are not active, energy is not being used fully. This is not to discourage you from using what you believe is the right amount of time to change the behavior, just something to keep in mind. Insubordination is the next most common and has to be handled differently we will get into the details as necessary. Also these punishments typically take place as close to the time that the overseer experiences the need as possible.
"Physical insubordination, attempted insurrection, attempted or actual escape, or purposefully breaking a local law is different. These behaviors or the reactions to them impact the population and always result in lowered output until managed. This is one of the hazards of the trade. For these, the audience will be wide and the punishment particularly severe. These punishments occur as many as several days after the event itself usually.
To answer another question in advance, while it might seem counterintuitive to wait long for this level of punishment, it is necessary for a couple of reasons. The first is a cooling off period so that all overseers involved will be guided by reason not anger. The second is that it takes time to gather an audience that might be spread over acres if not square miles.
"If you didn't see the blue packet on the desks in your rooms or haven't read the schedule in it, do so when you get back. Everyone gets one late excuse and one only. There is an additional tag with a pink silencer on it, arrive in the morning with that attached to your general tag - if you decide at any point that you do not want to continue, remove that tag and hand it to an instructor. There is no shame in that, gentlemen. This is where you discover just how difficult a job this can be and if you determine that your talents are best used elsewhere, we will find a place where those talents will be best suited.
"Ok, time for questions. For my sake, when you ask, please tell me your name."
At least half of the men raise hands. Nothing tells an instructor or teacher how enthusiastic and confident a student is than that.
"Jason Andrews, why do you use property instead of slave sir?"
"Your instructors are sir, no need to use that with me please. From here out, you will use slave most of the time, but some of the material you read will use both. I wanted to stress that the company sees the slave as a property, something to be maintained and protected. Yes they are slaves and the law does not call them otherwise, but we see them as cars instead of tubes of toothpaste."
"Alex Mann, protect?" He says with confusion.
"Man of few words, forgive the pun. I assume you had a different question when you raised you hand before so I'll let you ask that one too if you want. You will always hear and see it as maintain and protect, but ensuring equipment like boots and tools are in acceptable shape, ensuring any wound or illness is handled quickly and effectively to allow the slave to return to full capacity as soon as possible fall, to my mind anyway, in the protect category. What was going to be your original question?"
"When you said tasks, do you mean like the projects we did in Youth Sight?"
"Yes, but everything about them is more serious and there are actual stakes involved not just bragging rights, if you will. Please stand if you spent at least a year in Sight" two thirds of the men stand; "and keep standing if you completed a summer session." Only two sit. "Thanks, please sit.
Sight is a respectable organization and you will be able to apply some of that here. But the circumstances of the leaders and the region and the slaves at any given session were varied enough that I wouldn't be surprised if you compared notes and everything but the core fundamentals were radically different. Basically, do not rely on what you learned there beyond that you were leaders then and are leaders now."
"Steven Riggart, will we be training on bred slaves here?"
"I want to comment on your choice of words. It may seem petty and tedious, but what words you use when dealing with slaves is as important as how you manage them physically. You will learn some of that here, and more of that in the coming months. You will not be training `on' but rather training
`with'. There will be so-called bred slaves in the mix here. That reminds me, for the Youth Sight members and for the rest who may have learned the boot tag color scheme, Tri-Peaks does not use the standard system and here the tags will be aluminum and will only have the IN and blood group."
"I thought the colors were mandatory."
"Only the tag with that minimal information is required. I was on the committee that was formed to revise some of the rules and, though we can talk about this later, I was and am opposed to having them color coded at all. The logic that it helps identify how to handle an escaped slave is ridiculous. It is entirely psychological and I will explain more on that later. The system Tri-Peaks uses is based on current behavior, labor class, and whether the slave is on loan to a different part of the organization."
"Ty Steele, may I ask a personal question?" Nods. "I understand you were in medical school when you changed to slave phyz, I'm just wondering why?"
"Harlan." Nothing about the instructors changes, but the men in the room seem visibly to shrink and tension squashes what had been a relaxed atmosphere. "I must say I'm pleased by that reaction. The Harlan Holdings atrocity happened when I was taking a class in sports physiology - I had intended on being a surgeon in sports medicine. I did some side research on what the law said with regards to slave physiology which was nothing beyond a rudimentary list of classification recommendations. I tried to find the same kind of information from some holding companies and realized that there was only a little more, meaning that Harlan would be the first instead of the only holding company to be dissolved based on inhumane treatment. Since I realized my passion was research, not surgery, I changed my profession.
"That's time for this evening. I am available at any time for more questions or general discussion, so use that if you like. Before the first session tomorrow please read the syllabus. Also each of you has a blank notebook in your desk. It's for keeping a journal. It isn't required and no one will ask to read it, but I do encourage each of you to keep one.
This profession is more mentally and psychically taxing than you may understand now and keeping a journal is one way to keep your thoughts and emotions from getting out of control."
Stocking The Compound
Twice a year Brett Davis, Chief of Educational Logistics, culls through the Tri-Peaks inventory to find the necessary number and mix of slaves to bring to "The Compound". He had been a divorce attorney before joining the company a dozen years back. The job is one that has little respect of the company outside the board and requires a tremendous amount of arguing and deal-making and last minute adjustments and panics. Previous holders of the title, all leaving after a few years, had been experts in crisis management and city planning - the board thought that those skills would be best suited for what the position required. A divorce attorney didn't make immediate sense, but after his first stocking, the board realized that someone accustomed to arguments and half-truths and last minute come-aparts was what had been needed from the get. There is more to the job than just
"The Compound", a lot more, but for a full month before classes there and at least two weeks after, the vast majority of his time is spent picking the list, finding the ones from the list he can use, and arranging transport.
Every April and September he has to locate and transport 200 of the sixty thousand slaves Tri-Peaks maintains from the Rockies to the Appalachians
(and California and Washington) from five different industry types to a former high school in far west Tennessee in a `town' with the unfortunate name of Nutbush. It can take as long as four days to get a slave from one of the remoter locations to The Compound. It can take a week's worth of cajoling to get one from less than an hour away. That said, he loves the job. Point of fact, anyone with "Chief" in their title loves their job since you have to in order to put up with the bullshit that comes along with it.
The timing is the major headache. All of the slaves have to be on-site by the morning of the first session but cannot be there for more than two days prior. Incidentally, these are Davis's `rules'. Previous occupants of the office would leave slaves idle for as many as ten days. Davis's efficiency has gained him not a little respect among `the men on the ground.' Still, gathering six from three different California sites, one from Washington, thirty from Wyoming, five from just north of Memphis, and on and on is the equivalent of being a freight yard manager playing three simultaneous games of chess at the busiest time of the day.
Nathan Alvarez, an instructor at The Compound waits at the stock stop for freight train heading from Nashville to Memphis. The train carries the last three: two class heavies from the gold mines in northern Georgia and a recal from a quarry in Alabama; combined mass 300 kg - meaning that he couldn't use the truck to transport them since the minimum combined mass has to be 400 kg and that the recal is pretty damned small. Two naked drafts at the yoke of a cage-cart stand idle after the 5 mile trot to the stop. By covered truck they could travel on the free roads which is almost twice the distance but takes about ten minutes instead of nearly an hour.
The train stops and the door to the passenger car opens. A transit guard leads three slaves, naked except for boots and wrists restraints attached at the back to their collars, to a spot a couple of yards from the train where they drop to slave-straight (knees wide apart, full body upright so no weight is resting on heels, toes of boots touching the ground and parallel with the other, hands behind head but not touching it, eyes full forward). They are not hobbled and are not chained together. Also, they are still covered in grime from their place of origin despite two days of travel. This is a typical form of protest from many of the southern locales so Nathan expects it. He also expects:
"The manifest said they haven't been fed or watered since last night, did you forget to update it?"
"Naw, they was loaded on without and we don't keep the stuff handy since none of y'all people use the same food." The man is in his late forties and said his gripe with a careless drawl instead of any true ire.
"No but we do all use the same goddamned water." Nathan signs the manifest and the guard continues,
"Toilet's broke in this car so I figure theys more comfortabler not having full bladders." He takes the manifest, boards the car and shuts the door.
Nathan takes a moment to marvel remembering something an instructor told him when he got his first assignment: Once in the territories you'll run into men that aren't fit to be free or be bound so it is a private mystery that they can breathe and manage to function in any understanding of the word.
"Go ahead and piss where you are" without pause they start. "I have food and water here. You think you can hold your shit for an hour or ..." He can't finish before all three say "Sir yes sir" in unison. They are thirsty, hungry, tired, grimy, and they would all rather be in the cage taking care of three of those problems than anything else.
"Up and queue up." They spring to their feet and line up behind the back of the cart. In less than thirty seconds Nathan unhooks the wrists, and they are all seated in the cage with the door closed and locked. "There's six bottles of water in the box and the green bag is for the little one.
Pace yourselves with the water we don't have time to stop and you don't want to have to spend any time washing this thing out."
"Sir why's mine a different color sir?" Something just shy of terror replaces fatigue in the recalcitrant (recal) slave. The other two who have their hands in the box already freeze waiting for a tongue lashing if nothing else.
"Because you are a different size so you get a different amount?" Then.
"What's got you all in a panic?"
"Sir am I gonna be kilt at the compound sir?" Small, skinny, brown hair two week's length too long, young, maybe too young and petrified.
"Sir am I gonna wish I was dead sir?" Realizing nothing bad is going to happen, the other two start to eat one of the two biscuits from their bags.
"No. I'm sure people told you all sorts of stuff to scare the shit out of you, but I'm sure none of it is true. It's not going to be fun, but it's not going to ruin you either. Calm down and eat. When we get there you'll get showered and bunked. Should be a smooth ride all the way there. On your way boys." The two drafts begin to trot and within a minute are at speed. The matched pair keeps an eleven minute mile with no need for the whip and know the way without need for reins. Barring unforeseen problems with the cargo, this was going to be a quiet hour. Nathan knows there will be few of those for twenty days so maybe using the cart was better than the truck after all.
Nathan wakes the trio when the cart stops outside the gym. He points them towards what had been the girls' locker room. They stop just inside it.
"Take your boots off." Knees and elbows and in seconds they are barefoot.
"Toilets are over there, showers are over there. The showers have hot and cold so be careful not to scald yourselves, there's soap and towels too.
You have about fifteen minutes to take care of all that." They all stare, mouths slightly agape. "I know you don't get those things were you're stationed and you won't get them but a couple of times while you're here but you get one now. I'll give you a two minute warning so you can be dried off and boots on and ready for bunk down. So you can just let the water run on you as much as you want til then. Oh and don't forget to flush."
They take off for the toilets and Nathan sits in the bleachers with an eye on his watch. In less than a minute all toilets have flushed and there are some yelps and giggles a minute later as they adjust the water.
Like the population in the free cities the trio washing away days of grime have three `names' and an identification number - common in the territories but not universal. In the free cities, family is tightly attached to the names a person has and the number confers benefits. In the territories, many slaves have the usually unspoken name, the `name' the overseer uses, and the names they use among themselves. The secret name is the one their parents gave them. They are told at processing to forget the name and sharing it with anyone would be "a bad idea." Tri-Peaks, like its competitors in kind, has never enforced this recommendation meant more for fear than anything else. But the slaves rarely speak that name even to their closest friends and never ask anyone else's. The psychologists who noticed it came to two conclusions. The first is, they admit, sentimental
- it is the last thing they can consider their own and should freedom find them, they will be able to share it without fear of it being taken.
The second is, in the lingo, compartmentalization: speaking the name to anyone is a full admission that the person belonging to the name is fully, totally (likely hopelessly) enslaved and therefore forever lost.
The second name depends on the overseer's type. Cog companies (Harlan, Penn Coke and Steel, Archer Ag, and others) hire overseers without regard to personality type, but those with any empathy usually wash out early, leaving only the martinet and the brute who tend to bestow names that in the free cities cannot be said on television and would likely cause a fight. Investment companies (Tri-Peaks, Minnesota Mining, Daniels Ag, and others) hire and train overseers whose personalities indicate consensus leadership, responsibility ownership ("yes it was my fault"), and controlled empathy (the comparison here is a surgeon, even with a patient fully sedated, cutting on and cutting out is something that makes most cringe not because of the blood but because we cannot put aside the empathetic feel of the blade; surgeons know what they are doing is necessary and can put that empathy aside while doing their work).
Consensus leadership means they are not dictators or blindly following rules, but make decisions based on the facts at the time and understand when rules can be bent or broken - this breeds respect among peers and among their slaves. Responsibility ownership earns them the respect of the company as a whole. Controlled empathy is why investment companies use facilities like The Compound. Their job is to get the full measure of energy each day from the slaves they oversee and this will require almost daily use of verbal and corporal `encouragement', humiliation, and punishments intended to cause severe pain. They must be able to step outside their empathy during those times and return to it afterwards. Cog companies treat their overseers not much better than the slaves they oversee and their attrition rate is enormous. Investment companies treat their overseers as managers and the attrition rate is lower than any similarly classified job. The saying is "cogs hire and create alcoholics;
investments hire and create men." After saying all of that, these overseers tend to use petlike names.
The names they give each other are too diverse to explain and even psychologists who have tried to get an insight have been unable to trust the information even when they could get it and have long since tabled any notion of answering the question.
The Trio - Showers
"I'm otter, quarry." The small one says just loud enough to be heard over the water.
"Deacon, he's brown, both mining." Muscled, buzzcut, pale once the grime heads to the drain but not at all unhealthy. Deacon is half a head shorter than the almost six foot brown, but otherwise they pass as brothers. "What kind of rock?"
"Jesus, just white or speckled with other colors?" Deacon, who had been in college, knows that otter didn't finish high school assuming he was even allowed to attend.
"Most likely Alabama."
"Wow, really? How'd you know?"
"I don't for sure, but you rode the train with us so you work in the south and the rock is probably alabaster which means most likely Alabama.
"You a pretender?" Otter wants to step back but the water feels too good so he tenses up as if to fight.
"No, just unlucky enough to be educated. We mine gold in Georgia. I'm from Pennsylvania, brown's from New Jersey."
"Wow, gold, really?"
"It's not what you think, you can't even see it. And even if we could what would we do with it? So where from?"
"Two minutes boys."
There is really nothing to rinse off so they stay a few seconds longer then douse the water and towel off. They stand by the boots left at the entry.
"Just carry them with you. You'll sleep without them tonight." Nathan points them to a brick building twenty meters away - it had been the athletic facility for the football team. Now it bunks two hundred slaves.
"Lights are already out, so bed down quick." He points deacon and brown to a pair of bunks on the right, near the door and otter to the left side.
They are asleep almost before head meets pillow. Nathan listens to what amounts, ultimately, to nothing. Two hundred bodies that may as well be in a coma. No restless movement, no snoring.
Day One: Punishment Basics and Recals
After breakfast, the men sit in the risers, on the parquet floor is a table with whips and a few other items; beneath it are some visored helmets and several boxes that look like they hold Chicago deep dish pizzas. There is also a post, a T-bar and X-bar (the word cross is no longer used), a standing frame with different spots to hang rope or chain, an A bench, and a spread horse.
Instructor John Aix begins.
"It might look like introduction to torture ..." general laughter, "... and in the wrong hands that is exactly what this is all used for. We joke and say what we teach you is energy extraction but the brass of it is that slaves by nature of what they are will withhold labor and energy that doesn't belong to them and the way we make sure the company gets what it pays for, these items that haven't really changed much in thousands of years and have been used everywhere on the planet once man realized that swinging a stick could make another do what he wanted.
"Dr. Mechamp will give you all the details about calories in and out in a few days, so no need to mess with that now. The short version is that when you are on site you will have a group of slaves that have to meet a quota of output every day. The quota often changes every day based on weather for example or season, but it is still your job to make sure your team gets the tasks complete. If you have a solid team of slaves that don't fight their station, you may get by swinging a whip just a couple of times a day and yelling a bit. For a more common mix, you're going to be swinging different lashes throughout the day and yelling a bit more. If you oversee for two years without issue you get go on the list to be, um, rewarded? by having to break in a new team. By the end of the week you will be able imagine how much work that will take.
"There are two hundred slaves here. Since you will spend most of your time paired up, that means 10 per group. It works out to 8 heavies and 2 recals. I will tell you that your first day on task with them will feel like we've thrown you in the deep end with cement shoes; I will also say none of you is set up to fail so the first couple of hard days will fade pretty fast. The other instructors are moving the teams of heavies around getting the work areas set up so the first group you're going to work with is the recals. For those not up on the jargon, recalcitrant but you also hear recalibration but that's wrong except, well, what happens is a recalibration. Any slave given a work pause punishment for the same problem three times in six months is a recal. Any class slave can become one, but you'll be training on the lower labor class recals here. They will be brought in shortly and it's going to get rough.
"We do this first day in the gym because of the echo. There will be yelping, screaming, crying, and usually some begging. This can be loud outside but in here it is ... you'll find out. It is meant to shock their systems and yours too. There will be breaks periodically and that is the only time you are allowed outside. If you find that this shock is too much, then remove the tag you added last night, and hand it to me. Never turn your back either. Best way to get past whatever emotion hits you is to stare straight ahead until it passes. This includes laughter.
Sometimes what happens is funny, but today is the one day you can't laugh.
A few will piss themselves at post or even waiting. That's normal and you don't stop what you're doing, you just let it happen. Questions before we start ... good. Bring `em in."
Two instructors open double doors and forty slaves move in quickly, form a 5x8 rank, kneel upright with hands behind heads, eyes forward. John stands in front of them with his back to the overseers.
"All you slaves know you are here because you keep defying authority." He doesn't yell, or condescend. "All you slaves know what some lashes feel like and either sorta like it or have short memories. At lights out you will all have felt stings and blows of half a dozen different reminders that the labor `your' slavebody can make does not belong to you. I'm just talking normal and you can hear an echo so you can guess that when you and your fellow slaves start screaming that it's going to sound like Hell in here."
Otter kneels, slave-straight like everyone else. He cannot argue that defiance is the reason he is here. Fear and fatigue at processing and initial training erase detailed memory from most slaves, particularly the younger ones. After about six months in the alabaster quarry, otter had adjusted to the routine enough that he no longer feared for his life on-site, had in fact been injured and spent a full two weeks in recovery.
That time was dull as hell, but it showed him he wasn't going to be worked to death or sent off to become dog food. He was never well behaved -
his neighborhood in Raleigh was a factory of the barely contained. Puberty amped up his bad behavior and he turned to drinking and drugs and petty thievery. The petty thievery didn't give him the buzz for long so he started to steal more valuable items. Then in an odd turn of semantics, he stole his own freedom besides.
The first example
John walks back to the men in the risers. He picks up a small box from the table containing the whips, opens it, and asks the nearest overseer to pull out a chip. "What's the number?"
John removes a leach that is coiled to his belt and walks to the rank of slaves. He clips the leash to the middle slave in the sixth row.
"Up and follow at a walk."
"Sir yes sir." He is a well made medium capacity transport slave; not quite six feet, probably 80kg. He shows no visible fear as he walks upright with eyes straight ahead trusting the leash and listening for the sound of the overseer's boots to stop instead of looking right at him.
They stop at the standard post.
"Wrists up and click them into the place on those hooks."
"Sir yes sir." He moves his wrists into place as he says this. Slipping one of each wristcuff's rings through the carabiner on either side of the 12x12 post, his wrists hang just above his head.
"To be fully effective, the psychology of the session is as important as the physical. You will get more details in the next few days, but I'm going to go over some basics. Beating alone doesn't work for human animals. Now ..." a hand is raised. "Yes Peterson?"
"Is it a good idea to talk about that with the slaves here? I mean won't that kinda undo the psychology, sir?"
"We're not going over all of it here, but even what I do cover won't change how effective it is. Just because they might now know the reason behind it doesn't mean it won't still have the same impact. Good question though."
He continues. "Though time is hugely important, if a slave deserves this level of punishment, and you are certain you can get the daily work done without it, then you can put it at post at any time and have it wait for as long as you want. Five minutes or five hours, without knowing when the punishment will start and stop will wear on it. Not knowing which lash you will use or how many you will give is even more stressful. You will learn guidelines for the different types, but it is left to your discretion.
"What about announcing how many then going past it, sir?"
"Useful but something to be careful with, I can go over details at a break.
Also a good question. How this will work. I'll explain how to setup and use the different classes of lashes then you'll grab a chip out of the box and that will be your slave for the day. There will be an instructor at each station to monitor your technique but they won't actually step in unless what you are doing is either ineffective or dangerous; we will go into finer detail at the debrief later."
John grabs the six foot single-tail from the table. The length is measured from where it begins on the handle to where it tapers to a narrow point.
"Most of the lashes we use are a mylar, nylon, rubber mix. They are durable and easier to keep clean. To make things simpler for you, they are weighted so they feel the same as the standard leather." He moves to a spot of tape on the floor that marks six feet from the slave. "The length of the lash defines where you stand, so if it is six foot, like this one, you will stand a little more than six feet from the target, not the post.
For those of you with longer than average arms, you will stand a bit further back. The idea is that eighteen to twenty-four inches of lash will be in contact with the target."
Anyone looking at the slave sees a sheen of sweat that hadn't been there until now. It has felt this many times before but something about the explanation of the technique makes it new and thus frightening in a way it couldn't foresee.
"You've probably heard `let the whip do the work' and that's true in so far as it goes. There are basically three places to stand and where you stand determines how you swing. First, how not to do it." He moves two paces to his left. He swings casually and the whip grazes the slave from shoulder to hip and it jumps and gives a little eek. And the men laugh lightly.
"If that's all you can do, then there are other jobs for you." He walks back to the table and takes a football helmet with a clear Plexiglas visor from underneath. He puts it on the slave's head and whispers into an ear hole, "This is going to be very bad but there will only be one."
He walks back to his previous spot. The slave cannot hear the details and is as confused as scared. For it, warnings have never come with compassion.
"Swinging with your torso is the opposite of what you just saw. You may have seen others do it, and it has its place, but it isn't something you are going to need to do often and something you will not do here. I put the helmet on it because there is a relatively high risk the lash will hit its face. And any chance of that means a chance that it hits the eye which is a very costly mistake. He raises his arm parallel to the floor and pauses for a beat then swings as if throwing a baseball. The lash wraps over the slave's right shoulder with the tip hitting just above the nipple and full four feet of the lash is against the skin at that instant and in the next split second that length travels the same path the joke lash had taken, this time leaving a red, bloodless slash. It screams a lungful then pants. Two of the waiting slaves, otter being one, piss a bit but are able to stop before fully emptying the bladders - the scream echoing as it does is what they were warned, but a hellish sound like that isn't something easy to prepare for.
"That motion is usually done out of anger, which is not the mind frame we want you in. Mann?"
"I understand that, but wouldn't standing back a bit more and swinging like that mean it would hurt worse so it would get the point across better, sir?"
"Actually no. For most of these punishments your point isn't the highest pain possible. Instead it is something much harder to gauge but something that you will learn in time. It is a level of pain that they are likely to remember in detail for a long time. Intense pain is something we forget most of. We remember the most intense and the last moments usually, but after we recover we immediately begin forgetting the rest of it. If you've ever broken a bone you can relate. They are going to forget parts of any whipping, but the point is to make as much of it stay in the memory as possible. The kind of whipping you're thinking about is something we tend to use as a deterrent for the ones in the audience more so than the one at the business end of one of these."
He returns to the slave and removes the helmet and inspects the slave's chest and face to make sure nothing is bleeding. John puts the helmet back on the slave and returns to the table and removes a thick, crude leather vest and puts it on.
"One last way not to do it. Since most of the time you will be swinging across your body, any lash longer than four feet can end up in a position for the infamous backlash. If you pull your arm back into its start position too fast there's about a sixty percent chance that the whip will hit you somewhere along your back or side." He swings the lash the correct way. The slave, ready this time, yelps but does not scream. John quickly moves his arm to its start position and they all hear a loud pop. "Hitting yourself hurts like hell of course, but it wounds your pride, and it breaks the seriousness of the session. This is another reason anger cannot be the mindset you are in. Once your arm has completed the motion, let the lash fall, then move your arm like this ..." His hand starts at his left front pocket and he keeps the arm extended but moving against his body in a smooth arc, once the hand is just past the right hip, he flicks the wrist and that brings the lash back to the starting position.
He puts the whip and the vest back. He unhooks the slave, leashes it and returns it to the ranks.
"Get one of them to mop up the piss then take them out and water them." He says to the two instructors at the door.
That action begins as he returns to the risers. Each man grabs one of the boxes. Inside is a new four foot single-tail. John explains that not everyone in every type of job will get access to all lashes, but that everyone, regardless, got this as their standard issue. He puts leather pillows on the post and the T and X bars. He shows them the basic method:
arm parallel to the floor then lifting to about forty-five degrees, swing quickly with the arm fully extended, and wrist relaxed but still as straight as possible without being rigid, hand ending the swing at the opposite pocket (right hand - left pocket). He shows them the most common stance (the one he used for the earlier examples) and the full side position: standing to the side so that the lash goes across instead of on the diagonally.
"You usually have to stand a bit farther away using this stance because of the likelihood that the lash wraps around and the tip hits the post. The wrap around isn't a problem but hitting the post is since it can wear the whip out faster. This isn't an issue if the slave is hanging or in another position where no post is in the way. Jenkins?"
"How do we tell when a whip is worn out, sir?"
"For these if any part of the end of it breaks off. Also after each use you will clean them and if they fray past a certain point that I'll show you in detail later. For the leather ones, the answer is more complicated but we will go over that in detail also."
He shows them the full straight position: standing exactly in line and swinging perpendicular to the floor as if serving a tennis ball. He explains that they would need to stand farther back for this one to be most effective so that the tip doesn't go higher than just above the shoulder blades.
"I used the six foot because you needed to see it first and the rules for it generally apply to the others. There are two exceptions and you will use those today and in the next few. The first is this knotted three-tailed flogger, the second is the slave cane. With all lashes follow through is just as important as if you throw a ball or swing a bat or racket; it's how you reach maximum effectiveness for the energy you will expend. This is true for the cane as well."
He passes the box of chips around. "You will draw chips each day until the teams are set, it is possible to wind up with the same one each day.
Riggart pick a number between one and forty that is not the one in your hand or 28."
"Have a seat. We'll bring them in and I'll show you the cane and flogger. Then you'll use the standard issue, flogger, and cane on your slave."
He has them brought in but much closer to the risers this time. Before they kneel, John leashes nine and leads him to the spread horse. It is a hip high bench with slightly splayed legs and a padded vinyl covering with the same general curve as a good sized horse. This device uses carabiners like all posts, one on each leg. He kicks a wooden box from underneath and the slave hops up on the bench, arms and legs in a position to be attached to the carabiners. John clicks the restraints into place.
"Most stable locations have these, but the remote locales usually don't.
You can use the cane if you like on any of the other posts and can uses whips on this one if you like - it isn't restricted for the cane only.
The main benefit to this horse is exposure to things you can't get to with the others." He grabs the slave's hips and pulls him back, grabs the cock, pulls it free so it points down, then pushes him back almost in the same starting position. The slave sucks in air through its teeth.
"Butthole and sac exposed. Specifically targeting those spots repeatedly isn't recommended since infection risk is too high for the butthole and work slowing swelling too high for the sac, but hitting either a few times is fine."
John picks up a three foot rod from the table.
"Same material as the whip, just stiffened. Traditional would be fine in a world where everyone used soap all the time, but not where you will be spending most of your time. Once again I'll show you what not to do. The pop method is something you may have had used on you." General laughter.
"Great with kids, not so effective with slaves." He does a quick smack allowing the cane to bounce off the middle of the ass leaving a pink welt an inch above the scrotum. The slave jerks against the carabiners and again sucks air in through clenched teeth but settles quickly.
"See, not the reaction we want. Follow through here just like with everything else." He steps away from the horse a bit and swings as he did before but this time brings his arm to the same finish position as with the lash. This time there is an ear splitting screech and heavy panting and a puddle of piss.