Chapter 37

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The smell here was disgusting, no wonder no-one wanted to check them out for a cheap price. There were only four in the cage, yet they stank worse than the other two cages put together. They were the unkempt, the uncared for, the ones left to stagnate and die.

Johanna watched the, now customary, charade of the first cage. Then the serenity of the second cage. She saw the masses leave, flooding out in their droves as each other group of would be slaves were ushered back to their private boardings.

Now just them, her and three others in her cage, along with two couples looking decidedly disinterested. There were now more guards than slaves and buyers added together. The fetid stench filled the air, along with the fear of what would happen to them. It was like a magical barrier that not even the guards wanted to cross. Soon it became clear the customers wanted nothing to do with them either. Hearts dropped as the last couple meandered out. The same hearts struck up in anguish, beating a rhythm that spoke of death, told them they would be cast aside to be no more than fresh nutrients for what little soil remained in this part of the world. Johanna shed a tear, a few days ago she was almost at the end of a successful mission. A mission that would give her information about her daughter, a mission that showed her that her husband still lived, in some form. The picture of happiness in her mind, the picture of a united family, burned away to nothing but ashes.

She felt the teardrop on her lap, looked up, and saw the guard pointing his weapon at her. Her trance had been so powerful she had blanked out the rest of the world; soon the world would blank her out. "Move," the guard stated, given her about two seconds to respond. With a face that screwed up in disgusted, he grabbed her arm and yanked her to her feet. Stumbling forward, Johanna exited the cage and headed toward her fate.

~

"Hmmm," she considered, observing them as if they were mere products on a shelf, simple acquisitions that needed to be placed in the correct department for maximum profitability. Her suit hugged in the all the right places, tailored to extenuate her body and show off wealth and power. Deep down she was nothing more than a paper pusher, a distributor of resources, even if those resources were people. She pointed to one of the four, "send this one to medical, they have not asked for anyone but I have a feeling they will need something tested soon."

Elation hit, her husband was in medical, if Johanna could get transferred there she could save him. Yeah, they would lock her in a cell, but she would have plenty of time to formulate a plan.

"This one can be taken to the farming module," Johanna breathed a sigh of relief as the woman pointed to some else, "looks strong enough." The lady looked towards her watch, flicking through apps and checking her messages, as she continued she mumbled, "now what to do with the other two?"

All four still stood, none daring to speak, two knowing they would survive this day in some form. The general hubbub of people passing through the concourse rang in their ears, now Johanna noticed that almost none looked at them, like they were just vermin, too disgusting to look at. The ones that turned had the expression of seeing and smelling a week old dead rat. They then continued their perfect lives, surrounded by clean white walls, holographic adverts and fine food, all with no need to lift a finger.

"Looks like there is a cooking position open, peeling potatoes and chopping carrots," she looked up, her view flitting from Johanna to the competition. With another disdainful smirk she pointed a finger, "that one." Johanna still had a chance, the lady had sent one to medical just in case, if there were no other jobs, surely Johanna would go there. "I suppose this one had better go to cleaning."

"What?" Johanna screeched, "surely I should..."

"I don't remember asking you to speak," the lady tried to sound forceful but there was something missing.

"Yes, but..." the woman rubbed the back of her hand where it had struck Johanna's face. The criminal never flinched, it was a small victory but hopefully the start of something bigger. Cleaning was not medical, but they could not watch her every minute of every day. At least she was alive, another slight adjustment to the plan and everything would be fine.

The lady ambled behind a desk, it was as if she was a receptionist and this was the gateway to the heart of Princips. From some secret compartment she pulled four thick plastic straps, each forming a loop. Walking to each slave, she placed a strap over their left wrist. Once this had been completed, the lady tapped the screen on her watch and each strap tighten. "Now," she uttered, "these straps monitor what you are doing and the areas you are in, if you try to do something you should not be doing, or go somewhere you should not go, this will happen."

With a touch of the lady's watch, Johanna spasmed, before dropping to the floor. "Great," one guard said, "now I need to carry her."

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