Trystum blinked and then stared up at his son wide-eyed as the strong southern accents reached his ears. “They sound close,” he whispered.
“Doesn’t sound carry at night? I remember reading that somewhere once,” Joshua whispered in reply, his heart pounding in his chest. Both men jumped as a loud laugh rang out. “They’re going to find us,” Joshua said shaking with fear. “We need to move.”
Trystum shook his head. “You have to go, take Caleb with you.”
“I won’t leave you!”
“Josh you have to. I’m too old and weak from the birth to run anywhere. You have to take Caleb and go.”
Joshua shook his head defiantly. “No,” he said stubbornly.
Trystum grasped his son’s hand. “I’ve been in a breeder camp Josh. I’m old; you have your whole life before you. Don’t be a fool and throw it away out of some misguided sense of loyalty. Justin loves you. Don’t let your first time be rape.”
“I won’t leave you daddy.” Joshua crawled over to where he had left the packs, dragging them back to where his father sat. He rummaged through the sack, finding the medical kit and opening it. “You will have to keep Caleb quiet. Give him one drop of this on his tongue. It says they are knockout drops.”
Joshua got to his knees and kissed his father and baby brother. “He needs you, not me. I can’t feed him.” He stifled a sob. “I’ll be fine. I’ll just lead them away. I‘ll be right back, I promise.”
“NO!” Trystum grasped tightly at his eldest son’s shirt, his eyes brimming with tears.
Joshua wiped his eyes and pulled his breeders robes from his pack. He slipped them on, hesitating as he went to pin his veil in place. One final look at his father and brother made up his mind. Gathering all his courage he slid into the trees ignoring the soft heartbroken sobs behind him.
“Doesn’t this thing go any faster?” Justin asked impatiently. More than six hours had passed since he had left his young husband and father-in-law.
“Depends on whether you plan to stay alive or crash.”
“Fuck you CK. Just drive.” Justin folded his arms across his chest and rested his booted foot on the jeeps dashboard.
“The kid really got under your skin didn’t he?” Chris said, not taking his eyes off the road.
Justin groaned. “You have no idea. He is the sweetest, most innocent person I have ever met. When Joey first told me that he had arranged my marriage I though what the fuck! How dare he arrange my future? Then he gave me Joshua, and suddenly Santa Claus was real.”
“Wow! So is he good in the sack as well as being a hottie?”
“Chris! Like I’m going to tell you that.”
“You haven’t boned him yet have you?”
Justin blushed beetroot under his helmet. “No.”
Kirkpatrick snorted with laughter and slapped the steering wheel in mirth.
“You don’t understand. He is a total innocent. Shit he didn’t even know you could pee standing up.” Justin took off his helmet and ran his fingers through his hair. “I love him man. I wanna make babies with him.”
“We had better get you back to your boy then JT before someone else gets there first.”
Joshua’s heart was beating fast in his chest as he crept through the trees. He paused to gather the fading threads of his courage as he got closer and closer to the Rebel camp. The mixture of their Mississippian, Louisianan, Kentuckian and Carolina accents sent shivers of fear down his spine. Suddenly there was an audible snap as he accidentally stepped on a brittle branch. The Rebel camp went quiet and there was a scramble to gather up rifles and other weapons. A soldier put a pair of goggles on and scoured the surrounding area.
Joshua froze, the stories of breeding camps flooding his head.
“THERE, two o’clock. GET HIM!” Every man in the camp looked in his direction. Shaking he began to back away. Two men started in his direction making him whimper and turn, bolting in the opposite direction to where Trystum was hiding with Caleb.
“Halt or we’ll shoot.”
Joshua gave a panicked squeal and darted around a big tree, running as fast as he could in his long black breeders robes.
The man with the goggles shouted a warning. “Don’t shoot, he’s a breeder. Catch him.”
The teen slipped hitting the hard ground hard and scrambled across the ground, staying low. He looked over his shoulder, eyes moving from side to side looking for his pursuers. He crawled on the ground, heart beating so fast he was sure that it could be heard for miles around.
All of a sudden there were two big black boots in front of his nose. He looked up at the soldier looking down at him and cried out in terror, clambering across the foliage-covered ground to get away. The soldier planted a boot in the centre of his shoulder blades, pressing him down into the dirt.
“Got him,” he shouted, he moved his foot and reached down seizing Joshua by the scruff of his neck and hauled him to his feet. “Now what’s a nice sweet boy like you doing out in the northern controlled wilderness?” He shoved Joshua hard, sending him stumbling in the direction of the Rebel camp.
The soldier grasped his upper arm tightly, bruising him and making him wince. The other Rebels gathered around as they entered the campsite, all of them curious as to why a southern breeder would be this far north. The man threw Joshua onto the ground and the teen scrambled onto his knees, looking up at his captors, petrified of what they were going to do to him.
“What’s your name boy?” a soldier asked. Joshua looked up at him tearfully, recognising the uniform of a senior officer. The officer crouched down so he was at eye level with the frightened teenager. “We won’t hurt you boy. We just need to know who you are so we can let your family know that you are safe.”
“Do you have a family name?”
Joshua’s looked around at the men surrounding him and shrank as small as he could. “Chasez,” he whispered.
“Chasez you say, well that’s interesting. George, get HQ on the blower. Tell them we found us a breeder, see what they want us to do with him?” The officer stood up brushing down his pants. “Tie his hands and put him near the fire so he don’t freeze. You hungry boy?”
Joshua shook his head looking away. Roughly his hands were grabbed and bound together in front of his body, and then he was hauled onto his feet and shoved towards the comforting heat of the campfire.
“How do we know he’s who he says he is? He could be a Blue Coat in disguise. I say we face strip and examine him, make sure he is a breeder. He could have friends out there waiting to pounce.” A gaunt faced shaven-headed recruit with pox-scarred skin asked the question.
The commanding officer grabbed Joshua’s hands and examined them, using his own rough hands to check the softness of the teens. He thrust Joshua’s bound hands at the pox-scarred soldier. “You tell me, when did you ever see a unionist with hands like silk.”
“Sir, HQ replied Sir.” George ran up to his CO. and handed him the scribbled down message.
The officer read it then screwed it up, throwing it on the fire. “We have conformation of our guests identity. You’re General Chasez’s son?” he asked kindly, turning his attention back to his teenage prisoner.
Joshua nodded silently, not trusting his voice not to break.
“The message said you were abducted by the union five days ago. How did you get out here alone?”
“I was being transported north for breeding,” Joshua lied, thankful that he was veiled. “I jumped out of the truck when no one was looking and ran for it. They looked for me for a while. Then they gave up and left.”
The pox scarred soldier laughed. “Stupid Blue Coats couldn’t find their dicks without a road map.” The contingent of soldiers joined in the laughter.
“My lord Breeder. I have to ask you to sit down and remove your footwear so that I might bind your ankles.”
Joshua gasped, “You have my word that I will not run.”
The officer smiled sympathetically. “I’m sorry but it is for your own safety my lord. Please sit and take off your boots and socks.”
“You would have me bare my feet in front of your men? Would you have me face-stripped as well sir?” Joshua raised himself to full height, his confidence returning with the soldier’s knowledge of who he was.
“I’m sorry my lord but I really must insist.”
The breeder glared at the southern officer, giving a deep sigh he relented. “At least afford me the decency of having your men turn their backs.”
“You heard him piss off you debauched bastards.” The platoon of men all laughed and left. The lieutenant gave Joshua a wink and pointed to his feet showing slight signs of impatience. “Your footwear my lord,” he repeated.
Joshua sat down and started to pull at his laces with his bound hands. “Let me help you my lord.” The teenager squeezed his eyes shut tight as the officer knelt down and pulled off his boot, giving a little squeak when his sock followed. “I won’t hurt you, you know that don’t you?” the officer pointed out as he unlaced Joshua’s other boot and pulled it free. “My Name is Richardson, you can call me Kevin if you like.”
Joshua chewed his lip, conscious of the fact that the southern officer was stroking his instep.
“Lieutenant, you go too far. Please take your hands off me.” Joshua yanked his foot away much to the amusement of the older man.
“Cross your ankles if you will My Lord Breeder.” Reluctantly Joshua crossed his ankles, wincing when they were bound together with a tough nylon tie. Richardson draped a blanket over Joshua’s bare feet protecting his modesty, and the teen took a relieved breath. His relief was short lived as the southern lieutenant slid his hand behind his neck and pulled him close to his face.
“I have heard that General Chasez’s breeder son is a beauty beneath his veil. As a veteran I have breeding licence and as commanding officer I have the right to decide what happens to stray breeders that we find.”
“I am a virgin sir. Touch me and you will be executed for defiling my innocence.”
Richardson laughed. “Such bravery, such fire from one so young. I would be within my rights to claim you as booty, but I won’t. Not yet anyway. But rest assured breeder I will impregnate you. I’ll put in my request for you as soon as we get you back home.”
Joshua twisted his face away and turned his back on his countryman sweating with fear. He felt the officer settle next to him, barking his orders to the first watch. He sent out a mental plea to his husband as the soldier draped his arm around his waist, pulling him closer to him. “Please, take your hands off me.” Joshua pleaded pathetically only to be ignored as Richardson snuggled closer into him to sleep.