James, who accidentally “rented” Lydia, a slave, must return her. He goes her master’s house with his friend Raym to to talk the man into selling her, but her master says James can’t buy her because he’s not a citizen of this planet, and besides it’s too late. James put too many radical ideas into her head while she was with him, and she is already being re-imprinted.
As soon as they were settled into the small car Raym leaned his head back and closed his eyes. “You can’t just waltz in there and demand he sell to you! It doesn’t work like that! It’s a negotiation, a delicate dance, and I should have done the talking.” He shook his head.
“You act as though she’s a piece of merchandise to be bargained over.”
Raym turned, looking at James directly. “She is. And if you can’t get that through your head, you will never get her.”
James pressed his fingers to his temple, struggling to understand. “What is re-imprinting?”
“Yeah. I was hoping that went over your head.”
Now James stared at Raym. “You’d better tell me what the hell you’re talking about.”
“Re-imprinting helps a slave remember who her Master is and why she is devoted to him.”
“James, you’re not going to like this–”
“Tell me, goddammit!”
“Everything is taken from her. Food, water, warmth, comfort, sound, light, speech, even the ability to lie down – and it’s only returned with perfect obedience. They key to its success is that the slave hears her Master’s voice as she is rewarded, telling her what a good slave she is. If she disobeys, whatever was just given to her is removed again and she doesn’t hear his voice, and it’s only when she’s perfectly obedient again that she gets it back.”
“That’s enough to make her devoted to just this one man?”
“Well, that, and the fact that at some point she’ll be required to repeat some sort of phrase showing her devotion to him thousands of times, and when she’s asleep it’s played back to her continuously until she wakes up, when she starts repeating it again.”
“This is barbaric. Do you not understand how barbaric this is?” James’ voice was rapidly rising.
Raym wouldn’t meet his glare. “It is a little more than I’m comfortable with, I’ll admit. I don’t think I’d ever do it to a slave myself. I’d rather just sell her if she doesn’t love me any more.”
“Love?! That’s what you think this is? It’s brainwashing! These women have no choice but to be devoted, because their very life depends on your good will!”
“Shut up. Duruma said I can’t buy her because I’m not a citizen. How do I become a citizen?”
After a moment, Raym nodded and tapped new directions into the car’s computer. “We go here.”
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