enkaychi: (Default)
[personal profile] enkaychi
Title: Selection
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: YunJae
Length: Drabble
Summary: Whoever was chosen at a Selection Ball would not be an Honored Spouse. They would be tribute.

-

Music. Dancing. Shining lights. Sparkling clothes. Gold leafed furniture. A sample of every food imaginable. The whole situation was bullshit.

A System Lord’s Selection Ball was an ostentatious display of excess and wasted credits. Worse than any planetary ruling family’s was, Jaejoong imagined from what he’d heard from his older sisters.

Jaejoong had never been to one himself. He shouldn’t have had to attend this one. He should have been safe.

He looked around at his dancing and laughing age mates while trying to keep himself inconspicuous at his corner table. They all should have been safe.

The Ruling Class of the Terran Empire chose their first spouses from the Second Class, the children of government and religious officials and important businessmen, those families who had earned their higher position in society instead of being born to it. In the Empire’s early days, royal spouses were chosen from the First Class, the empire’s nobility. This had changed after the First Great War, almost two thousand years ago.

It was supposed to be an honor, a privilege, a way to show all the peoples of the empire that social mobility was possible. And for the most part that’s what the Second Class considered it. The young men in women of eligible age all donned their silver and gold formal wear for their assigned day of the week long event. They were escorted by their mother’s and father’s to the closest landing bay and they let themselves be beamed on to their System Lord’s flagship like a herd of good little sheep and during the ball they tried their best to make sure their graciousness stood out among the other sheep.

Jaejoong would have spent the entire night staring mutinously at the ground if it wouldn’t have made him stand out all the more. He compromised by letting himself be shuffled to a table near one of the corner’s of the large ballroom and observing the going ons of the night without appearing to be angry he was there. A shy and reluctant potential spouse was to be expected, a hostile one would have been cause for closer scrutiny. After all, they were all most honored and privileged to be there.

It was a bullshit nightmare.

The sons and daughters of their planet’s ruling family had all already chosen spouses, Jaejoong had been too young to attend a Selection Ball then. Their System Lord’s children were all very young. By the time they were old enough to hold their balls Jaejoong would have been too old. It was perfect. He should have been safe.

But the Ruling Class was full of greedy usurpers. It was not enough that they were in control of an entire planet, not enough that they were in control of an entire system of planets. They wanted more control, more territory, more power. Always more, more, more.

The Emperor usually kept them all in check, but occasionally one managed to slip through his iron grip.

The most recent had been the Panther Lord, Sung Oh, whose territory consisted of fourteen relatively insignificant planets, a small pittance in the large scheme of things.

The Panther System had once been much larger and more influential, totaling over two hundred planets but generations of lords with poor decision making skills had seen their planets assigned to other systems. The Panther Lords were rarely fighters and more rarely ambitious so none had ever tried to regain their lost planets until Lord Sung Oh.

Lord Sung Oh had reduced three planets to little more than fields of ash and smoke in his quest for more territory before the Imperial Fleet had stopped him. The emperor had relieved his body of its head in one fell stroke. His execution had been broadcast over the entire empire. His family had been exiled and the Panther System had been absorbed by the Dragon System.

With over three hundred fifty planets it was one of the largest systems in the Empire. Jaejoong’s planet was now in the Dragon System. That in itself was not a bad thing. The Dragon System had resources and opportunities Jaejoong had only ever dreamed of before. There was just one small problem.

The Dragon Lord had an unmarried son.

Prince Yunho was the reason Jaejoong was suffering through this nightmare. The Prince had been in the second year of his Selection Balls when the Panther System had been dissolved. Princes and princesses of the ruling class held a Selection Ball for each planet in their system until they found someone they found suitable enough to marry. For small systems the process lasted only a few months. For systems as large as the Dragon System the process could take years, depending on how particular a prince or princess was.

The Dragon Lord had rearranged the Selection Ball schedule to include his newly acquired planets as soon as possible. Every unmarried member of the Second Class between the ages of sixteen and twenty five was summoned to attend. Jaejoong’s planet was the last of the former Panther System the Prince would visit. If it had been one of the first, Jaejoong would not have been able to attend.

He had turned sixteen last month. Only those of the proper age at the time of their planet’s Selection Ball were forced to attend. It was an ugly turn of bad luck for Jaejoong.

Theoretically, Jaejoong’s father could have refused the invitation, but there were consequences for such an action. Maybe not direct consequences from the Ruling Class, it was not as if they were forcing the Second Class into a marriage, but his father’s peers would see his refusal as arrogance beyond his station. After all, which of them had a child who was too good to marry a prince? Their entire family would suffer for it.

In reality, it was unlikely that Prince Yunho would choose a spouse from one of the former Panther System’s backwater planets, but there was an itch in the back of Jaejoong’s mind, a tiny voice whispering ‘what if?’

Jaejoong didn’t want to know the answer to ‘what if?’

Whoever was chosen at a Selection Ball would not be an Honored Spouse. They would be tribute, not even a commodity bought and paid for, they would just be taken used however their new spouse wished. They would see themselves taken from their families, their marriage consummated before an audience, and then subject to their new spouses desires, both desirable and undesirable alike.

A prince or princess was obligated to take a member of the Second Class as their first spouse, and consummate the marriage, but what they did with them after that was their own business. Of course no ‘Honored Spouse’ had ever appeared in public in anything less than perfect condition but medical doctors could fix and hide a great many problems.

Jaejoong was sure there were some princes and princesses who treated their spouses with kindness and respect but he had no desire to find out for himself.

So Jaejoong attended this ball. He sat at his corner table. He answered whenever someone asked him a question and made his own polite inquiries in return. When he was asked to dance he smiled sheepishly and reluctantly admitted to being clumsy on his feet and would then be left alone, of course no one would want to showcase any deficiencies at such an important event, perfectly understandable. He did his best to appear nothing more than ordinary and went home that night without any concern.

In his desperation, Jaejoong had forgotten that no matter how banal he made his personality seem, his face was anything but ordinary.

-
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