I didn’t realize that I had taken a step forward until I felt a hand on my chest. The sight of my sister had caught me completely off guard, and I could barely even think. How had she ended up there? Why was she in a cryogenic chamber? Cock and Balls were supposed to be holding her hostage. I tried to work out all of the possibilities in mind. The first possibility was that Cock and Balls hadn’t taken her. Maybe she had ended up going through the mirror on accident? Maybe, that’s what led them to come back through to my world?
I shook my head. I wasn’t sure if that made any sense. Maybe, Cock and Balls was just trying to punish me. If I hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have ever known she was sold. In that respect, I would have kept on trying to fight them over a lure that never existed. That could just as likely be a possibility.
“Daniel…” Katarina hissed toward me. “Are you okay?”
I snapped out of it quickly. “Yeah…”
They pulled Hazel back down under the stage, and I felt my heart falling with her. A few moments later, the first batch of humans came up. The group was ordinary without any defining characteristics. They all had collars around their necks and wore basic unitards. I barely heard as the auctioneer began to read off the characteristics of the people. By the time she starting asking for bids, I had already sunk into myself.
There was no point in raising an army. The only thing I needed was to save my sister. That was all I was thinking about.
The batch sold and was brought back down. Another batch rose and the selling continued. Sometimes, they were sold in batches. Other times, they were sold as a single person, especially when that person had a Perco or was in some way especially talented. I ignored every case. They simply didn’t matter to me.
“Master Daniel, are you going to be bidding on anyone? That last person was a former sniper. They could have been very useful.” Red nudged me.
I barely looked in her direction. What did a sniper matter when compared to the person who mattered the most to me? Of course, the girls didn’t know that she was my sister. To them, I had only grown strange as soon as the slave bidding had begun.
“If we can’t buy anyone, we can’t protect the bazaar,” Katarina warned, seeming to sense that something was off.
Her words once again pulled me out of my daze. She was right. The army that I was going to send after Cock and Balls wasn’t the only reason we needed people. The raiders had also been putting pressure on us and even trying to use mutants to flush us out. It had been two days since I was last in touch with them, and in that time anything could have happened. Were they able to hold off the attacks? That’s when I noticed Katarina looking up at the stage intently.
“Your family… the colonists…”
“None of the colonists have appeared.” Katarina frowned. “At least, none from the nearby colony.”
I had only been paying a bit of attention, but she was right. Colonists were supposed to be obvious. They usually looked more attractive, were cleaner, and were more fit. These were the advantages of growing up in an environment with advanced technology. They grew up with proper nutrition, hygiene, and no radiation. It could also be believed that those that had the right to be in the colonies were already the top-picked people, so even genetically they had been superior to those who had to survive outside.
Those that had been on the stage mostly looked like they had been in the Wasteland for a while. If they were Wastelanders, they were colonists who had been in the waste longer than Katarina had, enough time to lose that fresh colonist glow. It was the same thing that caused me to constantly stand out as a colonist, even though my situation was completely different.
I tried to remain more focused on the people coming up. I still didn’t bet on anyone, but if Katarina had a sister or father or something appear, I would probably feel obliged to bid of them. That time never came though. Person after person was brought up, but never the colonists. I wasn’t the only one who felt confused. Many of the people here had come specifically to get their hands on some colonists, and they were muttering under their breath. Still, everyone stayed, because they all were waiting in anticipation for Hazel to be brought up.
“I want that girl. I bet she’s a virgin.”
“Hehe… she won’t be a virgin once I get her.”
“Like you can afford her.”
My hand clenched and loosened over and over again as I listened to such remarks and others that were far more horrendous. It didn’t matter. I would buy her. If I had to utilize every resource, I would. I would have Cecelia hack a bank and grant me a trillion dollars if that’s what it took. I had been playing by the rules before, but the second they took Hazel, all the rules were off.
“And finally, the person you have all been waiting for… the lady in ice!”
The crowds quieted down as Hazel was once again brought up from the ice. Katarina frowned, looking my way as she saw the intensity in my eyes.
“You didn’t buy a single slave. That was the entire reason we came here, wasn’t it?” Katarina asked. “By the look in your eye, you seem to want her.”
Red chuckled. “He is young… I didn’t expect him to think with that anatomy though.”
“She’s my sister,” I responded quietly.
The two women nearly jumped. Katarina looked from me to the woman in ice. Many of her features were obscured, but her beauty was undeniable.
“They said she’s prewar.” Katarina frowned.
“Why is she in a cryogenic freezer?” Red asked.
“That’s what I want to know,” I responded again.
“The minimum bid for this untouched slave will begin at 10,000 large crystals.” The woman began.
“20,000!” A large man in the back immediately bellowed.
“100,000!” That bid came from a rich-looking man who was guarded by three rough-looking men.
His bid that more than doubled it didn’t slow the bidding down at all. The bids kept coming, and soon it was 200,000 large crystals, then 300,000.
“How much money will creeps bid for just some attractive virgin?” Red made a face, and when she noticed my dark expression she jerked. “S-sorry…”
The bidding didn’t slow until the price moved past 400,000.
“450,000!” The auctioneer cried out. “Going once…”
“500,000!” I called out.
Until that moment, I had only bid once before on the Perco. Hours had passed, and I had almost been forgotten after many other heated bids. Suddenly, I threw out an incredible number that had already been pushed up. This was the most expensive item to date.
“500,000…” The auctioneer looked at me with wide eyes. “Um… Going once!”
I didn’t look the type to afford it, but it didn’t matter to me.”
“600,000!” A voice came out from the other side of the stage.
I couldn’t see them, but their voice sounded vaguely familiar to me. Was it one of the raider gangs?
“One million!” I responded.
That caused a torrent of people to start whispering in shock. The woman on stage was so shocked that it took her a few moments to remember her place.
“Ah… apologies… that’s one million.”
“Two million!” That same voice from before spoke up again.
I felt a torrent of rage and anger. I had already bid on everything. I had no clue if I could meet their demands in a single night. It wasn’t for lack of money, but the time and energy necessary to transport that many goods. Still, I wasn’t willing to back down.
“Three million!” I snapped.
“Ten!” I shouted.
“One hundred…” His voice sounded amused.
“A billion!” I screamed.
Katarina grabbed my arm. “Daniel, enough.”
The group around us started muttering. Some were angry, while others only sounded amused. The lady on the stage looked confused. After a moment, she touched her ear, and it looked like a communication device was telling her something. She nodded, and then straightened her back.
“It seems like the auction has reached an unresolvable price.” The woman announced. “In this case, the assets of the two parties must be evaluated for their worth. The ultimate winner of the bid will be decided by our group head, Sovereign Gunner. The two winning bidders, please collect proof of your ability to match your bids, and then come follow me to the back.”
The end of the auction occurred just like that. The anti-climactic ending left many people muttering in annoyance or confusion. I walked to the front, joining the woman as she led the way out of the crowd. However, my eyes were on a cloaked form that joined us. This was the person who tried to outbid me on my sister. When they pulled back their hood, my mouth fell open.
“A wonderful evening, isn’t it, Monsieur Daniel?” Jacques smiled.