Thinking back, it should have been obvious. One of the easiest ways to keep a large group happily, for relatively cheaply, is good food. It was still a suprise to find out, as the usual fare you would imagine for slaves, is a lot less … nice
When Kat returned from her belated goodbye to Flora, she pulled Peter into a warm hug. As she pulled him gently back to his seat, Peter did not resist.
“Well, that was…” Peter murmured. “I mean doctors have done that before, but it felt worse.”
“I know the feeling.” Kat hugged again, only looking up as Kharon entered the room and walked over to them.
“Went well, right dears?” He smiled slightly.
“B-Better,” Kat said.
Looking to Kat curiously, Peter nodded. “I suppose.”
“And do either of you know what time it is?” Kharon asked the question rather plainly.
“I am guessing not time to let us go, so no,” Peter bluntly replied right back.
“It’s actually around eleven at night,” Kharon said, apparently ignoring the rest of Peter’s response. “And I know you two haven’t had dinner, so let’s go to the cafeteria, eat something, and then get you to your flats.”
As Kharon talked, Kat’s stomach grumbled loudly, cuing an embarrassed look from the feline. “Eep! Sorry, errr, okay?”
Kharon looked to Peter, who nodded softly. “Well then, let’s be going. Mina and Nera will meet us there,” Kharon said, starting to lead them towards the door.
As Kat and Peter got up to follow, Kharon started to lead them through the halls to the open cafeteria area. “I’ve been told by the administrator of this facility that I may not give you a discipline session to start your training. However, I don’t use discipline sessions with my slaves.”
“Then why bring it up at all?” Both of the twins spoke the question at the same time, almost as if it were rehearsed.
“Just because I don’t use discipline sessions does not mean I don’t discipline my slaves. I just feel that prolonging it is unhealthy.” Kharon shrugged during a brief pause. “Unless you like being disciplined, the discussion I was having earlier doesn’t apply to you.” Kharon slowed down as he approached the cafeteria. “However, Miss Fair finds it necessary to make it clear to all of us that she doesn’t allow discipline sessions for untrained slaves.”
“Flora sounded like she had a usual script too.” Kat nodded. “I imagine it’s easier to say to all than try and pick out who you think it needs saying to, or at least, it is how we do on the online sites I help administrate…” She looked away at that, pausing to realise that she likely wouldn’t be able to continue. “Well, helped.“
“I suppose so. I’d also like to note that, while I want to show you all I offer, I also want it to be clear that I won’t withhold anything, in general, for disobedience.” Kharon stopped in front of an open double door, which led into a mostly empty cafeteria.
Peter started to look around the cafeteria, reminiscing slightly about his old school cafeteria.
Kat was already making a beeline for the trays and the food. She was practically bouncing in the non-existent queue as she picked up a tray before stopping. Head hanging low, she returned to Kharon. “I just realised… I don’t know how money or anything like that works here.”
“That is something you wont need to worry much about. The cafeteria is free,” Kharon said, smiling softly.
“Now you’ve done it,” Peter chuckled, albeit grumpily.
“You will earn money as you work here, but that’s more for luxury or comfort items, not necessities. I am covering all of your necessary expenses.” Kharon grinned at Peter as he noticed Kat had already gone back to the food before he was even finished.
Kat stopped as she got close enough to see what the food was: Salisbury steak, with a choice of mashed potato or chips, and about six other assorted vegetables. Nearby, in a separate section, lay fruit and cream options, as well as milk and juices. As Kat stayed put, surprised at the wide range of choices, Mina and Nera entered from a different door and rushed over to Kharon, who had wandered over behind Kat along with Peter.
“Okay,” Peter said as he looked over with a soft blink. “Are all the cafeterias doing this level of food, or is this an owners’ cafeteria?” He asked Mina, seeing as she was closest.
“We have better food at home, “ Mina shrugged softly “But we have stopped in a few other facilities on the trip over, they all had good food”
“Do me a favour?“ Peter rolled his eyes. “Don’t tell her that.” He grinned a bit as he finished the request.
Mina smiled at that a bit. “Big eater, huh?” She picked some mashed potato and green beans, with some water for her meal.
“Yeah, she is.” Peter grabbed some mashed potato and some broccoli, with a slightly wry grin. “Especially what she likes to call proper food.”
As the two spoke, Kat was ahead of them, choosing a variety of veg and slathering it with gravy. “Has she forgotten where we are,” Peter wondered to himself, “and just gotten caught up in the novelty of a non-TV-dinner?”
Watching her as well, Mina sighed. “I’m sure the novelty will wear off quickly. Mind you, meals aren’t always this rich, this is probably just a lucky night. Still, it’s all essentially homemade.”
Nodding, Peter responded “To be fair, she walks enough that it is all walked off when she has the chance to, but while she has put up with ready meal and cans of soup, she always has jumped at the chance to have something more. Myself? I can give or take either, food is food you know?”
Meanwhile, Nera seemed just as eager about the gravy as Kat, grabbing some orange juice, she smiled to the snow leopardess. “You know this is real gravy, not just from a pack of mix, right?”
“Oooh!” Kat actually bounced on her heels.
Nera sat down at the table to eat, letting her first bite sit in her mouth, barely chewing it for a few seconds.
“I am guessing this is not every day?” Kat giggled after sitting, and similarly treating her first mouthful of food.
Mina smiled halfway watching as she sat down. “She’s exuberant as ever.” As she watched Nera, she mixed her potatoes and gravy slowly.
“Hmm?” Peter replied with a blink.
Kharon sat down by them, his plate mostly consisting of chips, drizzled with gravy, “Nera is a very outgoing and passionate girl.”
“Kat often is.” Peter took a bite of his food. “When she is in a comfortable place, anyway, it’s like a switch has been thrown, honestly.” He smiled briefly, before realising to whom he was speaking, then looked away.
“And I’m a bit more reserved, and opinionated, and a bit protective too, I guess.” Mina cut Kharon off as he was about to speak
Peter just stayed silent in reply to this, eating slowly.
Kat just happily ate her way through her meal, purring and letting out various pleased little sounds. “This is lovely!” She grinned and giggled, looking around the table.
Mina smiled to Kat softly. “I was actually tempted to turn down Master’s offer, when he first made it. To be fair, though, offer is a generous term for what he gave us that day.”
With a soft, “Heh,” Peter replied “Let me guess, didn’t have a choice either?”
Kharon cleared his throat at this point, looking at Mina, “It’s true. I was less experienced at the time, and didn’t have access to a facility like the Exchange here to help me out. But they actually did have a choice. It was just… very loaded. As you might put it, it was cult-ish.” Kharon softly smiled, “She’s free to tell you the story, if you like, once you two have been shown to your flats.”
Mina nodded stiffly. “Yeah, after we get settled in, I can tell you about it if you like.” She blushed a bit, looking to Kharon, then to Nera and Kat.
Peter nodded as he finished up his last bit of food, then smiled as he saw Kat doing the same. He stuck his tongue out teasingly. “No bread to clean plate with this time,” he said with a grin, causing Kat to just stick her tongue out right back at him.
After they had all finished, Nera and Mina took the dishes and bottles up to the dish room window. Kharon turned to face Kat and Peter, “I chose Nera and Mina because they have some similarities in personality to the two of you. I think you can guess which one each of you will be rooming with in your flats, right?”
“I would say yes,” Peter replied. “But I can think of reasons for both.”
“Nera, right?” Kat interrupted, still smiling, though no longer bouncing. Her eyes were a bit downturned, too.
“Before I answer, your flats are right next door to each other. You’re free to visit with each other and spend time together whenever you aren’t being trained or doing work. I was nervous about taking on twins, and I don’t want to separate you two.” He let out a deep sigh, and then stood up. “Yes, Peter will be paired with Mina, and Kat with Nera. In addition to them helping you adapt, there’s a mentorship program that most facilities of this sort use.”
Nera and Mina returned and stood behind their respective roommates.
“Miss Fair has suggested that two of her slaves serve as your guides around the Exchange, since they know the layout better than Mina, Nera and myself. You’ll be introduced to them in the morning.”
“I see.” Peter rose with a stiff nod.
“Okay.” Kat gave a slight smile to Nera as they left the cafeteria.
Nera returned the favor.