A Settlement Story
by Kirsten Graham


Author's note: This is a Settlement story. My latest novel is “The Settlement 3: The Expedition”, which is available from a1adultebooks.com.

Alan had not been sure what to expect of the committee of inquiry: it was not a common happening. Of course, he had worried. He well realized he had made a mistake, leaving the gag key lying on the counter, and apart from anything else, it had landed Carine in trouble, and he certainly did not want that. He cared for the young redhead very much.

What he had not expected was that the committee would be entirely composed of women. That however, was how it was: when he presented himself at the appointed hour, he was greeted by an array of The Settlement’s senior female residents: Number 6, senior administrator, Number 32, security chief, and Numbers 7, 17 and 20. They knelt on the floor in front of him, forming a half-circle in the small room set aside for their purpose. There was just one chair, ready for him, and he sat in it, and regarded his judges. They were, naturally, arrayed in their chains, including handcuffs, and they knelt with their knees respectfully wide apart, but that did not detract in any way from their rather intimidating air of authority.

“Perhaps, Sir,” started Number 7, a brunette of some years, but still attractive, “you had better give us an account of what happened.”

It did not take long, despite questions from various of the women, for all he had to tell really was of gagging the girls, going out and forgetting the key. He had not been there when it had been used. When he had finished, and they had asked him several more questions about his life in The Settlement and how he saw his responsibilities to the community, he was asked to wait outside. Then, just a few minutes later, he was invited back in, to find the five women now standing.

Number 32 stepped forward, her tether chain rattling. She was a curvy woman, with large, indeed quite magnificent breasts, and the two metre metal chain that anchored her to the girl-rails squeezed between them and across the roundness of her stomach in what was, for Alan as for most men in the community, a most distracting way, especially as she approached quite close to him: close enough for him to feel her warmth.

But when she looked up into his face, it was not in the least bit alluring. She had a most stern expression: “The committee,” she started, “has conferred. We are not pleased Sir, not pleased at all.”

He could not help swallowing. Despite being nude, helpless prisoners of the girl-rails, these women wielded quite a lot of power.

“Everyone in the community,” continued Number 32, “has to understand at all times that our society is founded on principles of mutual respect, and these principles have always to be honoured. As a man you have been ready, over the years, to accept women’s respect, but you also have to show it in return. And for us females the one thing that means above all is proper attendance to our security. We have a right, as women, to understand that our chains, and all the other security measures are operated so that we can be absolutely sure that there is no weakness in them at all. You may think a gag is a small thing, but it is the thin end of the wedge: a girl manages to remove a gag, and then she starts imagining she might also remove her handcuffs and fetters, or even her collar and tether, and once she starts to think like that she will never be able to relax again. And of course women’s chains are designed to be as fool-proof as possible. But they still need to be operated by men, and that means men, some men at least, having keys that unlock them, as well as all the cages and so on. But, Sir, those keys must never be allowed to come into a woman’s possession. It is not hard to ensure this, Sir. We females are all chained to the girl-rails. All you need to do is make sure keys are more than three metres from the nearest rail and you know they are safe.

“Anyway, we know what happened. The sentence of this committee is that you surrender your keys for a period of six months, and you be summoned to a full community meeting to explain what happened as a lesson to everyone else.”

* * *

Leaning against the old tree, Rachel and Madeleine discussed men, the crops, food, drink, men again and various relationships and goings on, particularly gossip from the main campus that Elaine had passed on the previous day. They did not discuss handcuffs, girl-rails, bondage of any kind or indeed the possibility or otherwise of escape therefrom. Thus they passed a relaxing afternoon, eventually, after a couple of hours, falling into silent contemplation of the wind in the leaves and the musical wandering of the water in front of them.

“Have you paddled?” asked Madeleine, after a while, beginning to feel the heat.

“It’s a bit of a stretch,” answered Rachel. “Our tethers are just a bit too short. But feel free to try.”

The redhead explored up and down for a while, deciding where the girl-rail was closest to the water. She settled on a spot a few metres from the tree, where the ground was flat, and apart from the few worn centimetres either side of the rail itself, grassy. But there was still at least a metre and half between the rail and where the bank dropped half a metre to the surface of the stream, and a woman who had enjoyed the facilities of The Settlement for as long as Madeleine could instantly tell that it was too far to allow her just to step into the water.

Giving a silent curse to the men who had laid the rail without giving a second thought to the recreational amenity of females attached to it, the girl sat down and slid forward, until her she could dangle her feet over the bank. Even then, her toes only really brushed the water: if she had had longer legs it would have been better. Her tether was not pulled tight, but it was dragging her neck awkwardly backwards, putting pressure on her throat, which although not dangerous, was not conducive to relaxation.

“Can you pull my tether chain a bit, Rache?” she called. Getting another girl to take some of the weight of a bond was one of the coping strategies that Settlement women learned early on in their careers.

“Best lie flat,” replied the blonde, wandering over. “Here.” She sat down beside Madeleine, and soon both girls lay flat on their backs with their bottoms on the edge of the stream bank and their legs draped in a somewhat ungainly, but more or less comfortable way, in the cool water. The only downside was that they were lying on their handcuffs, which dug somewhat into their backs, but they were both used to that, because it happened quite a lot when you were a Settlement girl: most times you had sex, for one thing.

* * *

Having nothing else to do, Claire pondered the nature of imprisonment in The Settlement. How was this place – it was described as a cell, cells being for the occasional imprisonment of criminals, as opposed to cages, which were for the routine imprisonment of women – was any different to her normal night time accommodation. It was smaller, certainly, but it had the same basic facilities, bed, sink, and toilet. The only real difference was the fact that it had no view, not even of a man’s room; its bars faced a blank, blockwork wall.

There was, of course, no way of marking the passage of time: not even by daylight and darkness, since the corridor outside had no natural light and of course the cell itself had no external windows. What was more, there was nothing to do – no books to read, no one to talk to, no comings and goings to mark, nothing. So the hours dragged by very slowly indeed, disturbed only occasionally by a bowl of food and a bowl of fresh water being pushed through a slot under the door, by a man who was clearly not going to engage the prisoner in any sort of conversation whatsoever.

Having explored the cell, eaten her food, lain on the bed, wandered around the small floor area for a bit and used the toilet, Claire found herself kneeling up, looking down at herself, examining her bondage, and in particular the waist belt padlocked around her middle. She had not really thought about it much for years, it was just there, part of her life. Her wrists were, of course, securely locked in its cuffs, which precluded her feeling very far around it or in any way touching or interfering with the padlock that dangled above her cunt, but she could pull at the cuffs, causing the metal linkage anchoring them to the belt to jingle and testing the strength and fit of the bond on her flesh.

Claire found that even now, despite her predicament, awaiting trial for a crime of which she knew perfectly well she was entirely guilty, she did not resent her bondage. She had a mental space, in which she lived almost continually, where the appropriateness, for her and for all women, of being kept in constant bondage, and the right of men to keep her that way, was simply not in question. So, except in very rare moments when her mental space was disturbed, she did not in any sense want to escape. Even the gag business had been about hunger, not about trying to defeat Settlement security, and still less about going against the wishes of Dave, to whom, as his pledged woman, she knew she owed total obedience, her man and her master.

The brunette knelt back down on her heels, letting her cuffs take the weight of her arms, relaxing in the metal’s close embrace. There was no way she could get the belt or any of her shackles off, but she did not want to get them off, and if being tethered and fettered, and not having full use of her hands was sometimes inconvenient, it was also deeply comforting to be absolved of the responsibilities that would come with freedom.

Even now, facing the inquiry, there was nothing she needed to do, except wait.

* * *

Rachel sat up, almost choking herself with her tether as she did so, before remembering where she was and shuffling backward, nearer the girl-rail. Gosh, she must have dozed off. And there was Madeleine, also dozing – in fact more than dozing – completely slobbed out on the grass and snoring her head off. Rachel stood up, her metal work rattling, but this did not make any impact on the petite redhead’s slumbers: Settlement girls were far too used to the rattle of other women’s chains to ever be disturbed by such noises.

Stretching as best she could with her hands locked behind her, and shaking her head to dismiss the sleepiness, Rachel moved away from where Madeleine slept, back towards the old elm tree. How long had she been under? A while, certainly. The sun had moved round considerably. But she would not yet have been missed: it was still well before evening bell time.

Rachel now stood where she had stood with Elaine the day before, when they had wondered if they had seen something moving on the opposite bank. Remembering the moment, Rachel stared again, examining the pattern of grasses and leaves beneath the trees. What was it? Something seemed different.

Very slowly, a tall section of grass parted and a small, dark human female face appeared between the blades, quite close to the ground: “Hey!” it called, in a stage-whisper. “Hey! Can we talk?”

Many things ran through Rachel’s mind that instant, but no coherent conclusion emerged, and all she could think of doing was to say “Hello?” quite quietly, thinking it best not to disturb Madeleine.

“Can you come here?” asked the voice. “I don’t want to cross the stream.”

“I can’t,” answered Number 391. “My chain won’t reach.” She realized she had said this in a completely matter-of-fact way. She no longer ever met women who did not understand about being permanently neck-chained to the girl-rails.

There was a pause, and then the face said: “Oh, sorry. I didn’t realise. Hang on.” No sign of surprise at Rachel’s explanation of her restraint.

The bushes on the far bank rustled, and a figure emerged. Rachel looked, and the figure looked back: a girl, probably about the same age as Rachel, petite in build, and dark – dark haired, dark eyed and dark-faced, of Indian or similar ethnicity. It took the blonde a minute to notice that the newcomer was completely naked, and that her arms were invisible behind her back, just like a Settlement girl. Her collar – of course she had a collar –seemed to be black leather, not steel, and there were diagonal black straps crossing her chest above her breasts.

“Hello,” said Rachel. “Who are you? How did you get there?”

“Hi,” she said. “I’m called Hiba. My master is staying over there.” The girl nodded back towards the trees. “I was exploring.”

At this point, a rattle of female chains indicated that Madeleine had awakened: “What's…?” she questioned, struggling to her feet, her question trailing away in wonder.

“Hi,” smiled Hiba, taking in the redhead. “I can try and come across, I’m just a bit worried about falling.”

“It’s shallower a bit further up,” said Rachel.

Madeleine looked at Rachel with wide eyes, but said nothing, and the two of them followed the girl-rail along a bit to where the brook was wider, with shallow stony beaches on either side of its flow. As they went Rachel watched the dark-skinned girl on the other bank, noting that – just like a Settlement girl – her feet were chained, though her ankle cuffs like her collar appeared to be leather – and her arms were behind her, obviously held there, but completely encased in a tight leather armbinder.

“How come,” said Madeleine, in a stage whisper, “she is not chained to the girl-rails?”

“She’s not from here, of course, silly. She’s from outside.”

“Oh. But you said that women outside didn’t have chains, and wore…panties.”

“Not all of them, it seems.” No reason it should be surprising, Rachel considered. After all, the old civilization was gone. Where she had lived before here there had been bondage too, of men by women. But it was only logical that there would be other communities, other people who lived as they did in The Settlement, with men keeping women restrained and naked. Why would they not, if they could? It was a very successful way of living, it seemed.

The women arrived at the shallow area, and on the far bank, Hiba turned to towards the water. She looked anxiously at it, though Rachel thought it could hardly be a problem, even for a shackled female: the flow was slow and only a couple of inches deep. But, Hiba was closely restrained, and she was evidently nervous: “Are you sure you can’t come to me?” she asked.

“How would we do that?” responded Madeleine, not really understanding.

“Quite sure,” said Rachel. “You’ll see if you come across.”

There was a step between the grassy stream bank and the little stony beach, and Hiba sat on this, before cautiously standing and making her way through the water. It was soon done, with no slips, and repeating the sitting manoeuvre – necessary because her ankle chain was too short to take the step up the bank – she was soon on her feet, next to Rachel and Madeleine.

“Welcome to The Settlement,” said Rachel. “This is Madeleine – Number 610. We have numbers. I am 391.”

“Hiba,” repeated Hiba. “Slave of Sadi. Pleased to meet you.”

“What do you mean, slave?” asked Madeleine. “How come you are wandering around freely? With no girl-rail?”

“What’s a girl-rail?” asked Hiba. “Is your master nearby?”

“The girl-rail is what stops us crossing the river,” answered Rachel. She pointed with her toe: “See: we are chained to it.”

“Oh, wow!” exclaimed the dark girl, immediately understanding how the system worked – it was, after all, a simple concept. She looked Rachel and Madeleine up and down, her dark eyes following their bright steel tethers. “Wow,” Hiba said again. “That’s amazing. So you can be chained, but still move around, on these rails. How far do they go?”

“Everywhere!” chipped in Madeleine. “All over the community.”

“Everywhere we are ever needed to go, anyway,” said Rachel, “and we can’t get free of them.”

“Of course not,” said Hiba. “I get chained to a ring when I get home, and obviously I can’t get free of that.”

“Your hands…?” Rachel questioned.

“My arm binder? Yes. I wear this except when I’m chained to my ring.”

Hiba moved her encased arms around a bit, demonstrating her restraint. Rachel took in that the device pulled its wearer’s elbows almost together, and that it was strapped around her shoulders in such a way that it could clearly never be slipped off. It was evidently tightly laced, but she did not immediately grasp how it was fastened, however, and Hiba did not offer a closer look.

“It must be tight and uncomfortable,” Rachel prompted.

“Tight yes, uncomfortable not at all, once you’re used to it. Except it can be hot.” Hiba smiled, and moved her arms again – she could get her leather-encased hands to her side at each side, much good it did her. But she seemed quite relaxed and happy about wearing the bond, all the same. And not at all fazed, or even remotely surprised, that Rachel and Madeleine were also held in bonds.

Madeleine had remained silent through the exchange so far, though she had gazed with wonder at the new arrival and her novel bondage, and had pulled and twisted at her cuffs in the way That Settlement girls often did when anxious when anxious or excited. Now, however, she was moved to speak: “But how do you use your hands?” she asked. “I mean, we have to wear handcuffs, but we can still use our fingers.”

Hiba giggled, rather prettily: “but they’re not my hands, they’re my master’s hands. If he needs me to use them to serve him, he takes the armbinder off. Otherwise, I wear it. Anyway, tell me more about these rails. Are you always chained to them?”

“Yes,” said Rachel. “It’s like Madeleine just said. They go everywhere.”

“So there’s no need for us to be unlocked from them, ever,” chipped in the redhead, sounding pleased with herself.

“The thing is,” said Rachel, “if one of our men catches you here they’ll chain you to them too, and you won’t be able to go back to your master.”

“Is that right?” asked Madeleine, sounding unconvinced. She did not really understand the idea of people, especially women, from outside The Settlement community at all.

“Yes,” said her blonde friend. “It is. Hiba – and all her community, if she has one, would be absorbed into The Settlement. The Settlement only wants to grow. Joining used to be an option, I believe, but it isn’t now. It’s compulsory.”

“Well,” said Hiba, “I have to go anyway. I need to be back well before dark. Perhaps I will see you again.” Numbers 391 and 610 watched the dark girl wade carefully back across the stream, managing her fetters and using her tightly encased arms very gingerly to balance. Then she sat on the bank, swung up her legs and with a final smile and “bye”, she disappeared into the undergrowth.

“What just happened?” asked Madeleine.

* * *

Joanna was less than pleased at finding herself now wearing a gag more or less constantly. But Dave’s thought, that news of what had transpired with Carine and Claire and Emily would get around the Women’s Quarters, was a view widely held by the men of the community – and the one sure way to stop it was to make the women who knew about it unable to communicate it. The three actually involved were, for the moment, safely incarcerated, but the fourth, the witness, had no reason to be locked up, only to be silenced. So, her gag – all the girls had one, somewhere, made, like their cuffs, to their exact measurements - was found and fitted, and secured with a lock to which only Mitch had a key.

At first, Joanna’s long-term companion Bill, an older, balding man, rather enjoyed it: he loved his intellectual conversations with his favourite female, but he also loved having her turned into an incoherent lump of flesh – effectively nothing more than a walking vagina, at his entire disposal for sex and only sex. And, since he had no key for the gag, he was free of any feeling of guilt about leaving her in it while he fucked her one more time.

But of course, he could sense her growing upset, and after two days his feelings of powerlessness began to grow, when all he could do was hold her while she sobbed and spat helplessly at the tube which imprisoned her tongue, or worse, pulled at it when she had her hands free, only stopping this when, worried that she might somehow damage herself, the man insisted she re-cuff her wrists behind her, and did not unlock them again.

Finally, when the curvy blonde had sobbed herself to sleep on his bed, Bill headed out to see Mitch – carefully locking the girl-rail bolt at his apartment door on his way, so as to retain Joanna inside. There had to be a balance, he thought, as he strode across the campus, between the need for security about whatever it was that Joanna had seen, and the need for her to live a normal life. She could not be required to stay gagged for ever.

Though, he reflected, there was nothing in the community rules that actually prevented this, and after all, she was required to stay tethered and fettered for ever. A gag was just another security measure.

* * *

It was fair to say that Emily and Carine, locked in their respective cells, reacted differently from Claire. Where the latter waited with calm resignation, they fidgeted and worried, and pondered their life with frustration and regret. Whilst neither the blonde nor the redhead had had any thought of escape when they were interfering with their legally applied gags, they had each had such thoughts in the past, and now they were doing so again.

Emily, of course, had once lived outside: she had been free to wear clothes, to go wherever she wanted and to use her hands without restriction. But having, so she believed, nothing left in the outside world, and having found a supportive community, she had voluntarily accepted The Settlement’s rules and become a member, in the days, some years ago, when women were still given the choice to either do this, or leave forever. She had settled in, finding it hard, but not so hard as her old life had been, eking out an existence in the wilderness, dodging gangs of bandits, and she had got used to the routine, and the bondage. But then she had heard a rumour that her brother, Elliott, was still alive, and she had wanted to go and find him, being intensely frustrated by the community’s refusal to consider unchaining her from its girl-rails, even for such a purpose. So she had determined to escape, and tried many things, even once managing to get outside at night with her hands free, and to have a go at prizing the padlock off her tether.

Carine, meanwhile, bowed down by months of violent abuse from a pledged man who had gone insane, she had set about making preparations to pick the lock of her neck chain, and then more recently, when Alan had inadvertently dozed off leaving her handcuffs off, she had actually tried this using a sharp implement she found lying within her reach.

Of course neither Emily nor Carine had succeeded in her attempts: the widely promulgated story that no woman had ever escaped from The Settlement was in fact quite true; even in the early days, the bondage they had used had been more than sufficient to ensure this, and now female security was a highly refined system, capable of holding many hundreds of highly intelligent and resourceful women however great their determination to defeat it. And in normal circumstances – as Carine knew well from her experience as a counsellor – a few failed attempts to defeat security were usually helpful for a Settlement girl, encouraging her to a swifter acceptance of the inevitability of spending her entire life tethered to the community’s girl-rails and the pointlessness of even imagining anything different.

But these were not normal circumstances. Carine and Emily were each alone, in the semi-darkness of a prison cell, awaiting an uncertain outcome for what each of them realized was a clear and serious breach of community rules. So while neither of them seriously imagined they had a realistic prospect of a new life beyond The Settlement boundary, it was hardly surprising, that, in between their plaintive sobs and sniffles, they could not help indulging their fantasy that somehow, the world might be different.

* * *

Rachel pulled this way and that at her handcuffs in frustration. Mother earth, Madeleine was naïve, she thought. “Look,” she said, “if we tell, we’ll have all the girls trailing down my –our – branch of the rails and then Hiba will never reappear, she’ll be frightened off. And we won’t find out anything else."

“But…” Madeleine was a true child of the community. “But we have to tell, because of security.”

“How in the name of all the trees and flowers does it affect our security?” exclaimed 391. “Are you any less chained up than you were this morning? Am I?”

“Well, no, of course not.” Madeleine could see that. “But…”

“But nothing, Maddie. Look, just another few days, right? See if she comes back?”

* * *

Mitch had just shown Martin, Chris and Dave out, and was alone with 523 and his other new assistant, a pretty, short, wide-hipped girl, Number 305, who had luxuriously thick brown hair that cascaded abundantly about her shoulders. They had knelt by the side of his chair during the interview, but now he got them to stand close in front of him. Now used to his ways, the girls spread their ankles as far as their hobble chains would allow, made sure their tethers dangled to the side and tilted their hips backwards, so that the leader had as much opportunity as possible to view their feminine intimacies, and all the rest of their flesh, exactly as he chose.

Mitch was never slow to enjoy the view of a woman’s muff, but today he was admiring the latest adornment sported by his assistants, added when they had been sent to the smithy to get handcuffs with non-standard locks, so that other men would not be able to unchain their wrists. In the centre of each girl’s abdomen, just above the line of her neatly trimmed pubic hair, was tattooed, in characters about a centimetre high, her Settlement number. The marking was small enough not to disfigure its wearer in any way, but clear enough to be an intriguing reminder to any that chose to look that she belonged to the community – this community. Mitch’s community. And it was, of course, in a place on her body, where, due to the community’s rules on the proper exposure of female beauty, it would never be covered up.

“So ladies,” he said eventually, not moving his gaze at all, but speaking directly to the girls’ exposed femininity, “what do you think? Is this going to work? Give me your advice.”

* * *

Lydia, aka Number 514, was missing her friend Madeleine. And more than that, she knew that something must be wrong, for Number 610 to have gone off and joined the new outpost like that, with barely a word of farewell, never mind a discussion. And they discussed everything. Extensively.

If only, thought the petite blonde, she could get to her friend and have a word. But, of course, there was no chance of that. Now that it was in operation, there was no public access to the farming outpost anymore: the boundary gate across the path leading to it remained firmly closed, and the girl-rail securely bolted off. The boundary fence would be a pretty significant obstacle, even for a man, unless he had the key – it was high and solid – and the girl-rail arrangements were, as far as she and all other women in the community were concerned, a completely decisive factor. If the girl-rail was locked off, or absent, then Settlement girls did not go there. That was all there was to it. Although…

An idea racing round her brain, Lydia presented herself to the doorman at the Women’s Quarters, and after the mandatory chain-check, headed out into the campus.

* * *

It took Rachel considerable ingenuity to distract Madeleine, and get her to go off with Beatriz, leaving 391 free to visit her line of girl-rails alone, and with her hands free this time – though she had held them behind her when talking to Madeleine, giving the young redhead the impression that she had, in fact, rechained them as the other girl had done. But at last, she sat by her tree, her tether chain coiled at her side, staring across the stream, willing Hiba to reappear.

It felt like she waited an age, but finally the undergrowth parted, as it had before, but this time revealing not one but two naked, bound females. They hobbled carefully across the stream and joined Rachel by the tree, where it was comfortable to sit.

“This is Pria,” said Hiba, introducing the new girl. She was also dark skinned, of a similar age but a bit taller and more curvy than her friend. She had wide, brown, beautiful eyes. She was in similar bondage to Hiba: leather ankle cuffs and collar, and a tight leather armbinder. The two women were also chained together, a two metre tether, padlocked in place, linking their collars.

“Mother earth,” exclaimed Pria, almost at once, “her hands are free! Out here.”

“Yes, but it’s OK,” said Hiba. “She can’t get away. See, she’s chained to these rails. Tell her, Rachel.”

Rachel went through the explanation of the girl-rails again, this time, because they were seated, being able to show in detail the function of the little ball that held the end of her tether, and which could be made out through the slot in the conduit.

“That’s so cool!” said Pria, twisting her leather-encased arms about in excitement. “I wish I could be chained like that. You get to move around and still have your hands free!”

“But the thing is,” said Rachel. “I’ll be tethered to these rails for the rest of my life. There’s no way I can ever get free. You can just wander off. Eventually you’ll find a way to get free of your bonds and escape.”

“Why would we do that?” laughed Hiba. “We belong to Sadi. We can’t go off without his permission. And we can’t use our arms, either, so we’d die if we went far.”

“My hands are free now,” said Rachel. “Maybe I could free yours? Those binders just lace up don’t they?”

“Only Sadi can take them off, they have straps and locks, as well, see?” answered Pria, turning her back to give Rachel a really good look at her bond.

What she said was plainly true. There were laces, as Rachel had perceived the other day when she first met Hiba, and these, zig-zagging in and out of a series of metal-reinforced eyelets in the leather, held Pria’s arms in close proximity. But at her wrists and elbows the binder was further secured with a leather strap, each one of which was held firmly closed by a discreet padlock. A further leather strap covered the point where the laces were knotted off at the top of the leather sleeve, and this, as well as the shoulder straps, were also padlocked.

Inwardly, Rachel sighed. But why would it be any different: just like her own collar, tether, fetters and cuffs, the devices that Hiba and Pria wore had been designed by men to confine the female body, and confining the female body was something about which men clearly had a natural and expert understanding. Rachel glanced a final time at the various padlocks: it was quite evident that without either the key or some heavy tools, to which she would never have access, the locks were not coming off.

“We might be able to cut the straps,” she said, clinging to hope, though they looked very thick and strong, as did the collars and anklets that the visitors sported.

“They’re steel inside,” said Hiba. “The leather is just padding. There is no way to break them without a workshop.”

“And in any case we aren’t allowed to mess with them,” said Pria. “Only our master gets to adjust them in any way.”

* * *

“Where are we going, Sir?” asked Elaine, puzzled. She was following George up a path she’d never used before, one where the girl-rail was kept locked closed with a double bolt, and which led through a dense thicket of woodland so that its destination was invisible to women on the wrong side of those bolts.

But a little while ago George had told her to pack her stuff: a very swift operation for a Settlement girl, at the best of times, and to follow him. He’d unlocked the double bolts one by one, re-locking them after Elaine’s tether had been dragged through, so that there was no chance of any other female following them.

“We are temporarily relocating,” he said. “There is another apartment up here, and we need to stay in it a bit, to look after some people, some girls who have got into a spot of bother. Dave, Bill and Alan will be there too, but I need you to be in charge of house keeping.”

Elaine was obviously curious, but her remaining questions were fobbed off with a “you’ll see,” so she had no choice but to follow the man, the small draw-string bag containing her toothbrush, hairbrush, make-up and glasses case dangling from her cuffed hands. In front, measuring his stride to the speed that the fettered Elaine could - just - manage, George carried his own bag, with clothes, toiletries and a couple of books, slung across his shoulder.

Eventually, they came to the top of a small incline and the woods parted. There was a slope of grass and at the bottom, by a stream and surrounded by woods on its other sides, was a medium sized building, in the same blockwork architecture that was The Settlement’s utilitarian style. Elaine noted that on the wall facing her there were some of the long, high-up windows, set with steel bars, that were typical of places where women might live. Windows that allowed in the daylight, whilst preventing females locked inside from being distracted by any view of the outside world.

George operated another double-bolt on the girl-rail and the pair of them went down towards the building. About five metres from its walls there was a junction in the rail, which went off parallel to the walls in both directions, as if it encircled the building entirely. They went right, past an expanse of blank wall, and around the front, where there was a long veranda just like on a standard man’s apartment. In front of this another branch of girl-rail led down towards the stream, but they ignored this for now, and went up the veranda steps and through the door.

Inside, the building was also similar to a man’s apartment, but bigger: a large kitchen at the back, lit by the high, barred windows Elaine had seen outside, separated from an even larger, well furnished living area by a section of counter extending across the boundary between the rooms. To the right, where a man’s bed would normally be, were four ensuite bedrooms, their doors standing open revealing bright, airy chambers with large beds. The windows here were full height, allowing a panoramic vista of green trees, and their bars – they still needed bars, for women might sleep there, in the men’s beds – were wrought into cursive, flowery patterns. Just as secure as normal bars, but much more beautiful.

On the other side of the living area was the women’s accommodation, consisting of four ensuite cages of the usual design, though perhaps a little smaller. Each had two bed mats, one down each side, and a toilet and sink at the back. Again as usual, there were no windows in the cages, just a screen of steel bars with a stout barred door at the front of each one. At present, all the doors stood open.

“Pick one,” said George, gesturing towards the cages. “You’ll have to share with 391 some of the time. Then make yourself at home and have a look round outside. I’ll be back in an hour, and then I’ll undo your cuffs and you can cook. There’s food there. There will be nine or ten of us eating.”

Picking the cage nearest the front of the apartment, which, Elaine thought, stood the best chance of getting most daylight, she dumped her little bag of possessions on one of the mats and then went outside again. A quick exploration round the other side of the building demonstrated that the girl-rail did , in fact, encircle it, but it had no branches other than the one in front of the veranda. Elaine rather expected this one to be locked off, but it wasn’t, so she went down it and was pleased to see that it led all the way to the stream, where it had a T-junction with another leg that ran along the stream bank for several metres, terminating at one end right on a little sandy area of beach on the inside of a meander in the water course. And, unlike Rachel’s rail by her old elm tree, this one had been laid right at the waters’ edge, so a girl could easily wet her feet. Elaine did so, enjoying the sensation of cool water passing between her toes. She found herself thinking of Rachel, down at the farming outpost, wondering how she was getting on.

* * *

Hiba and Pria had stayed a while, chatting, learning about The Settlement, and telling Rachel about their life and their master, Sadi, who it seemed was quite old, and kept six girls, living in an old bus which he drove around sometimes, seeking new places where they could grow or find food. He seemed to be quite strict with his females in some ways, keeping them in their armbinders most of the time, and chained in or to the bus on short tethers when not, but it appeared his women loved him, and felt no unease about their life as his property, subject to his will and, despite being given occasional freedom to wander as they had done to come here, completely unable to escape.

More seriously, it appeared that Sadi’s health was not good: the girls had seemed worried when they had discussed it, and Rachel wondered what would become of them if he died. They might starve to death in their bondage if no one found them: and who, in the world out there, was there to find them anymore?

Finally Hiba and Pria departed, not sure if they would return because their master had talked of leaving the area while he still could. Rachel had watched them depart, and, feeling uneasy, had clicked her cuffs back together, and then tugged at them, this way and that, trying to draw comfort from the now familiar feeling of feminine confinement.

Should she make a report to 567, and thus to the men of the community about what she’d seen? Was she breaking a rule by not so doing? She was not even clear about that. What she was clear about was that talking to Madeleine would not help any, the girl was too simple and inexperienced in anything other than her life in The Settlement. What Rachel needed was the advice of a sensible, experienced older woman – someone like Elaine.

Wandering back into the farm area, Number 391 could see that there was no-one around, the day’s work over and the other girls having taken themselves off to their own favourite places as was their wont. So the blonde headed to the left of their accommodation block, wondering if it were somehow possible just to go up to the main campus along the line of girl-rails that led through the woods. But of course it was not: the little signal light glowed red, and the bolt across the rails, preventing female egress from the farming outpost, was plain to be seen. If she were going to get to speak to Elaine, it would clearly only be with the permission and knowledge of men.

* * *

Dennis felt somewhat out of sorts. Normally at this time of day – when it was busy, due to the end of the afternoon shift – he would have enjoyed wandering through the campus, readily engaging in conversation with the nude, shackled young women who smiled their respectful greetings at him as they hobbled past. But today, and indeed for the last few days, he had only been able to think of one woman, Number 514, Lydia. Despite the plethora of pretty faces and the acres of exposed female flesh that surrounded him, there was only one pair of eyes he wanted to see, only one body that occupied his fantasies.

Unable to focus clearly on any activity, Dennis sat on one of the benches and stared into space. There was no doubt about it. He was in love.

* * *

Over the years, a great many girl-rails had been laid round The Settlement’s main campus, to cater for the large number of women that needed to move here and there across the central area whilst remaining helplessly tethered. Some of these rails led around the backs of the buildings clustered round the four sides of the main square, providing a less-busy relief route for women who had the time to take a slightly longer way round, and offering, for women that wanted it, at least some possibility of passing more discreetly from one side of the community to the other.

It was one of these routes that Lydia now followed, moving with the relaxed ease of a female perfectly accustomed to living in Settlement bondage, her neck chain looped over her shoulder and gripped in her cuffed hands, her steps measured exactly to the length of her hobble chain. As she came to each junction on the single line of girl-rails, she looked ahead, making sure no one was coming the other way, before proceeding, and so, after a while, she emerged at the top of the campus. Here, just before the girl-rail she was on rejoined the main line down past one of the administration buildings, there was a little garden, with a trellised-vine, through which she could peer and see the activity in the square. And there, on his bench, was Dennis, quite plainly ignoring everything around him, and gazing down towards the Women’s Quarters. The girl was of course well aware of Dennis’ infatuation – women always knew such things. And as things went, it was not particularly unwelcome – Dennis was nice enough, and more than capable of satisfying her womanly needs, saving her, for the moment, the effort of trying to attract the attentions of other males. But she did not return his love: a Settlement girl, she felt, had little enough control over her life without surrendering her emotions, as well as her physical freedom, to men. No, for her, the relationship with Dennis was about fun, sex and occasional extra times with her hands free from being locked behind her back. And, more to the point, it was about being able to control a man and make him do what you wanted.

Lydia set off down the hill towards the target of her schemes; she got within ten metres before Dennis turned around: a man who cared for a girl soon got to recognize the particular, individual rattle of her chains. The man sat, transfixed, as the girl approached, his eyes drinking in her loveliness. She came very close – within a metre of him, before she stopped and stood legs spread as wide as she could, tether still over her shoulder, body perfectly displayed. She said nothing, but waited, sensing and enjoying Dennis’ lust.

For a few moments, he studied her face: the green eyes, framed by the somewhat unkempt blonde locks and the bright steel collar. Then he considered her unclothed flesh, her perfectly proportioned breasts, smooth flat stomach, the line of her thighs, with, nestling between them, the light bush of pubic hair, the only covering her femininity would ever be allowed. Then, he reached out his right hand and placed it on her hip, touching gently but firmly, and kneading his fingers very slightly into the side of her buttock.

At last she spoke, smiling: “I wondered where you were, Sir, and if you were busy. Would you like me to come to your apartment this afternoon?” So saying, she moved her shackled wrists so that she could lay one of her small hands on top of his, where it rested on her.

* * *

“Nnnghh…ah…oh mother earth, thanks,” exclaimed 53, as, standing in the Smithy, her gag was at last withdrawn. But what have you done to my collar? Trees and sky it has no ….aaaaaaaaaargh!” The naked blonde doubled over with pain. Gasping, she looked up at the four men and three women around her: “what was that?” she asked.

“I think,” said Mitch, “that you tried to say ‘it has no lock’, and you are right. It is one of the new electronic collars and it’s welded on. You’re permanently tethered now, not that you weren’t always, of course, but you know what I mean.”

“But this,” he went on, “is version two of the collar…”

“More like version seventeen,” interjected Chris.

“Sure, but version two in production. We call it the Respect Collar. As well as its pain response to interference with it, any of your other bonds or your lady parts, it can sense your speech. If you try and talk about anything that a girl has no business to talk about – locks, for example, or unlocking, or escape, or freedom, or being unchained, or ‘getting away from the girl-rails’, anything like that – it will stop you, like it just did.”

“But I don’t want to ….yeagh!”

“Escape. No quite, of course you don’t. Be careful. It will get worse if you repeat something disrespectful within an hour. The third time will make you faint. And of course you don’t want to escape, we know that. You’re a good girl, and good girls enjoy being chained. But you might have been tempted to talk about those other young women removing their gags without permission, and such talk would do no-one any good, so we fitted you with this to stop you. It means you don’t need to be gagged anymore, so you can live a normal life, and chat as much as you like, provided it’s on respectful subjects. And when we make enough of these collars for all the girls, it will mean we don’t run the risk of any kind of conspiracy anymore. It just won’t be possible for women to talk about such things.”

Joanna just stared at the group of people, and twisted quietly at her handcuffs.

* * *

Lydia rather enjoyed eating Dennis’ cock: it was another example of how, despite being a helpless prisoner, a Settlement girl could exert control over the men that ran their lives. It was also, she found, a wonderfully feminine feeling, to be serving a man in this way, giving him pleasure whilst receiving none in return, and at the same time kneeling helplessly before him, nude and chained, while he towered over her.

She focused on her task, pulling, as she licked and sucked, on her wrist chains, knowing that the rattles they made were a further enhancement of the man’s pleasure. Not that it ever bothered her, being manacled as she performed oral sex, or indeed at any time in a man’s company: it seemed to her entirely natural to be firmly restrained while men were around. It was only when she was in the Women’s Quarters, trying to get on with every day life, that being handcuffed was ever an issue to her. Nor did she ever fear, as she knew some girls did, that perfecting her technique at blow jobs would ultimately rob her of her own sexual satisfaction: a couple of years of experience had shown her that however much they liked this stage of the proceedings, men always wanted her vagina in the end.

And so it proved with Dennis: he let her carry on till he could barely hold himself back, but at last he pushed her head gently but firmly away, and bending down, scooped up Lydia’s small frame in his arms, pulled her tether around the girl-rails and lay her on his bed. Then it was his turn to worship her, and he took his time, touching, caressing, licking, stimulating every inch of the girl’s shackled flesh before he turned at last to the moist crevice between her thighs, where he first fingered and then tongued her to orgasm after orgasm, causing her to scream with pleasure and kick and pull at her metal bonds, before, at last, he mounted her and spent himself deep within her.

And afterwards, saying nothing, he held her to him, she feeling his now sated and drooping member against her thigh, enjoying the pressure for several minutes, before she finally seized her moment: “Sir,” she said, dreamily, “Do you think you could take me to see 610? I miss her, now she’s away. I am sure they would allow me to visit, if you came with me.”

* * *

“Seriously?” exclaimed Elaine, when, as he helped her to cook a massive pot of stew, George explained about the new Respect Collars that their female dinner guests would be wearing.

“Yes, seriously,” he replied. “It’s very clever. I’ve seen it.”

.“Is there no limit to the ingenuity of men when it comes to controlling women?” She rolled her eyes and sighed.

“Probably not,” laughed George, standing behind the naked brunette and placing his hands on her shoulders. “But what better use for our ingenuity, than to make sure our women are safe?”

“Safe, and secure and nude and respectful and always available,” you mean, said Elaine, attempting to wiggle away from him. Her hands were free, and she still held a wooden spoon in one and a saucepan lid in the other.

“Always available, you say? There’s a thought!” The man held her, still gripping her left shoulder, but his right hand moved down to her waist and then further down the front, exploring. She attempted, relatively half-heartedly, to beat it off with the spoon: “George! Dinner!”

“It can wait,” he said, twisting the spoon and pan lid from her grip and steering her towards his bedroom.

It was a while since George had bothered about Elaine’s handcuffs for lovemaking – if they were on, he left them on, and if they were off, as just now, he left them off. It made no difference, for it was quite beyond the woman to resist his desires, either physically or emotionally, so she just held his back as he fucked her, and then sprawled across his chest afterwards, he lying flat on his back.

“Move your tether, will you, it’s cold!” It had draped across his midriff.

She lifted herself off him, her face close to his, staring into her eyes: “I know it’s cold, Sir. It’s cold on me, and I can’t move it. It’s locked. And I don’t have the key.”

He reached and touched the bond, just below where it was padlocked to his female’s collar, thinking how beautiful it looked. But he knew that it had troubled Elaine, having to be locked to the girl-rails, in the way it did not bother some of the women. “Would you really want to take it off, now, after all these years? If you could?”

She stared a while at him, before breaking into a smile. “I can’t, Sir. That’s all. Would you want to take it off, if you could?”

“Of course not,” he answered. “Women like you belong in chains. Like you said, safe, and secure and nude and respectful and always available.” He pulled on the tether, till she was near enough, and kissed her passionately on the lips. He did not need to pull her on top of him, he climbed there herself.

“Do you not wish you could see me in a pretty dress, sometimes, or pretty lingerie?” She manoeuvred herself around his member, taking her time, teasing.

“Let’s see,” he smiled, his palms cupping her breasts, her nipples squeezed between his fingers. Her tether was still cold on his skin, but he was past caring about that now. “Let’s see, a pretty dress, or always nude for me to admire. What do you think? Ahh!”

* * *

Not for the first time, nor even the thousandth, Dave enjoyed the feeling of Emily’s magnificent arse cheeks against his hands. He had nothing against slim girls, of course: indeed he regularly enjoyed their company here in The Settlement. But he was glad this girl had a good crop of feminine flesh about her, and all of it neatly encircled by the stout metal belt to which he, her pledged man, had the only keys.

“So, where are we going, Sir?” the girl in question asked. She tugged anxiously at the close-fitting steel cuffs that pinioned her wrists to the rear quarters of the aforementioned belt, finding, as usual, not the slightest give. As on every previous occasion, the escape fantasies she had had whilst waiting in her cell had come to nothing, and now she had this strange new Respect Collar, and Dave would say nothing of what was to happen to her.

“To our apartment first,” was her man’s reply. “I’ve missed you these few days. I need to fuck you, soon and hard.”

Somewhat cheered by this, the blonde Number 40 quickened her step, fetters rattling, and said no more, following the accustomed route down the girl-rail – fortunately quiet at this time – to her man’s apartment.

Inside, the feel of Dave’s hands owning her body was all it took for Emily to forget the goings on of the last few days, and the strange and threatening electronic collar she now wore round her neck. She tugged at her wrist cuffs again, but no longer anxiously, she just enjoyed the reminder they gave her of how she was properly and totally subject to Dave’s will.

He put her face down across the bed, determined to carry on enjoying the view of her arse as he entered her. He thrust powerfully, thinking this time of his own desires only, but it did not matter: Emily still came and went on coming, her body understanding just as well as her brain her feminine role as a vessel of powerful male lust.

“Hi, Emily,” said Claire, afterwards. Dave had fetched her first, and she had watched their passion from within her sleeping cage where he had left her. It would have been frustrating for her, had she not received much the same treatment that Emily had immediately before the latter had been fetched from the Smithy. Now, however, she was let out, and soon the two pledged women were kneeling in front of their man, their master.

“So,” he asked, “how do they feel, those new collars?”

“Well…” Claire did not quite know how to answer, for she felt intimidated by the electronics, just as did Emily. So, falling back on the training she had received as Dave’s grad student in engineering, in the last days of the old world, she resorted to scientific analysis: “physically just the same as before, Sir,” she said. “I mean, close, comfortable, secure. Just the same, unless I say something I’m not supposed to.”

“And then it hurts?”

“Yes.” This from Emily, who had tried and learned. “Sir, what I mean. I mean, we gossip. We mention…you know…it does not mean we want it or are planning it.”

“Escape you mean?”

They both nodded. It was of course a natural thing for Settlement girls to talk about. Natural, but forbidden. “Yes. Well. Now you can’t. You’ll have to gossip about something else. Sex, for example. That’s not disrespectful.”

“Sure, but…” Claire tried but could think of nothing to say.

“You can see the point,” Dave said. “If you can’t say those words, you can’t discuss things together, and you won’t get to do daft things like you did with the gags. And you can be like that the whole time and not have to have an actual gag again.”

“But the control you have, Sir?” Dave had been given a little remote control with the girls’ collars, rather like the remote that governed the outpost girls’ electronic handcuffs.


“What, precisely does it do, Sir?”

“Well,” said Dave, thinking that there might be some merit in his females maintaining a certain level of ignorance about the control, “one thing it does is activate the pain sensor if either of you go too near it. And that’s all you need to know, really. Now, come on, we have a dinner appointment, and we are staying over, so bring your stuff.” Dave searched the little draw-string bags the girls used to transport toothbrushes, hair brushes and makeup, verifying that they contained no contraband, and then hung each one around the neck of its owner. Then he shepherded the women in front of him, giving occasional directions up towards the cabin where George and Elaine waited. As they walked, in addition to further admiration of female backsides, the man considered the brief instructions he had been given on the remote control unit for the collars.

What he had told Claire and Emily was true: the device had a proximity sensor to the girls’ collars, which effectively made it impossible for them to tamper with it or even touch it. It also had three level settings controlling what the girls could be allowed to say, without setting off their punishment shocks. Now it was in the middle one, which prevented all disrespectful words such as ‘escape’, ‘lockpick’ and various others, the list of which could be updated as experience showed necessary, using a computer that Chris had got working in his studio. The third setting was essentially “off”, meaning that the girls could talk freely, but to keep this on required Dave to hold down a button on the control, meaning that it could only really be applied when they were with him. The setting was intended to allow them to report security breaches of various sorts, which might be impossible in the second setting. And the first – ie, maximum security setting – was simply a gag. It prevented any speech at all without inflicting copious pain on the collars’ wearers. So Dave could use this instead of their traditional physical gags if he wished. Though he was not sure he would. There was something about a girl whose lips were widely and helplessly spread around a steel tube locked in her mouth.

At any rate, he thought, when he came round in front of the women to undo the girl-rail bolts on the route to the cabin, he would not be doing anything with the device now, for he had, as he had been asked, left it in his apartment, in a locked cupboard well away from any girl-rails. For now Claire and Emily would just have to get used to living on setting 2, and speaking respectfully at all times.

* * *

Number 360 saw Dennis and Lydia first. She had been pottering around the herb garden the outpost girls had set up near their accommodation block, but now she put down her trowel and clicked her cuffs together behind her. However effective the electronic restraints they all had, it was obviously not proper for an unsupervised woman to greet a man with her hands free. Then, when she approached, she stood respectfully, smiled openly and spoke directly: “Hello Sir! Welcome. Are you going to fuck us? It’s been a few days!”

“Thanks, 360,” he said, looking the girl up and down and appreciating the offer: Ruth was a attractive, curvy girl. “But we’re here to see 610. Do you know where she is?”

“Down by the stream, I think, Sir. I’ll show you if you like.”

* * *

Finally, all nine guests sat down to dinner in the cabin. Elaine had cooked a vegetable stew, a fairly standard, though tasty Settlement meal, with the distinct advantage that it could be eaten with a fork or, if you happened to be handcuffed, lapped directly from a bowl either on the floor, or on a table.

In this case, the women had not been asked to sit on the floor, but instead had been allowed to use chairs, around the long dining table, with the men. But in the case of the four of them who had the new Respect Collars, it had seemed appropriate to leave their hands chained, so they lapped their meal from bowls, and Elaine, out of female solidarity, had elected to replace her own cuffs after serving the food, so she did the same.

But of course this was not unusual in The Settlement, where, for women, eating without hands was neither intended nor usually felt as humiliating: it was just an accepted by-product of the arrangements for female security, so it did not really affect the dinner party atmosphere over much. Which was not to say that, on this occasion, it was particularly convivial: Elaine tried her best, as hostess, but the other four girls were all highly conscious of their new and not yet fully-understood bondage devices, and were consequently guarded in conversation. And eventually, of course, the conversation turned to the subject of Respect Collars, and what was to happen now.

“What I don’t understand,” said Carine, “is about my work.” She paused, feeling oppressed by the device welded around her neck – a permanent spy not just on her movements but on her very thoughts, was how it felt. “No one has said anything. I assumed I would be sacked as a counsellor, but in any case how can I give advice, with…this?” She looked around briefly, before resuming lapping up her stew.

“If you want to carry on, you can,” said George. “It has been discussed. But everyone agrees that women need counsel from women who have had the same experiences as them.”

“Oh.” The redhead looked up from her bowl, a little smear of stew on her chin. “But I still won’t be able to talk freely.”

“You will,” said George. “Your collar will be turned off when you are in the counselling building. You’ll still be free to say what you like, there, as will your clients.”

“My clients? They don’t have these collars.”

“They will,” said George. “Everyone will, soon.”

Elaine paused: “Even me, George, Sir? Why do I need one?” Suddenly she felt goose bumps all over her naked flesh.

“Why should you not have one,” said the man. “After all, assuming you are not actually conspiring to escape from the girl-rails, it won’t affect you at all, will it?”

* * *

It was not just a generation of girls that had grown to adulthood in The Settlement, with no experience of any other sort of life. Dennis, and several other men in their twenties, were in a similar position. To him, and the others like him, the human race consisted of males like himself who wore clothes and took responsibility for the safety of their community (which naturally required them to be free, with all the risks that entailed) and females who were afforded the protection of being permanently tethered and chained, and in return for this spent their lives in respectful nudity. Of course Dennis had heard of free women, and had met those, like Elaine and Rachel, who had once been outside the community, but their stories meant as little to him as they did to the younger girls: unimaginable fantasies. The idea of a female not being chained to the girl-rails, even if she was still locked in helpless bondage, was basically meaningless to him.

This was why, when he came upon the little gathering by the stream, the man did not at first understand what was going on. There was 610, and her friend 391, he could see, and he had 360 and 514 with him, but who were the other two? Pria and Hiba, not really realizing the situation they were in, merely smiled respectfully and knelt before the man. They spread their knees apart, just like a Settlement girl, this respectful pose being also required by their master.

It was, in fact, Ruth who first understood the situation: “Sir,” she said, “Did you bring your handcuff key? Re-cuff 514’s wrist to their neck chain. They you can fetch proper security, make sure they are fastened to the girl-rails.” Ruth was not like Rachel. She saw no reason at all why these two, whoever they were – and whatever were those strange black things on their arms – should not be just as firmly, and permanently, fixed to the girl-rail system as she was herself.

“But we need to get help to our Master!” wailed Pria, after Dennis had raced off to get assistance. But of course they couldn’t. The neck chain joining the two dark-skinned, armbindered visitors now was locked to Lydia’s arm, linking them to her – and Lydia, as always, was anchored to the girl-rails. Short of tearing 514’s arm from her body there was nothing to be done.

“Well you can’t,” confirmed Ruth, showing no sympathy. “You are in The Settlement now, so you stay on the girl-rails.”

“But we can all go to the accommodation and get some food and drink,” said Rachel, practically.

* * *

Martin was impressed by Pria and Hiba’s armbinders. “Hmm,” he pondered out loud. “Very good. Steel core, I see, and top security padlocks. I could cut them off, but I don’t think I will. They will keep you out of trouble, and when we find your master I expect we can get the keys.”

“Are you ready, Sir?” asked 305, looking on.

“Yes, all done,” said the smith. “Proper collars and tethers and fetters, and they are keeping these armbinders for now. You can show them to Mitch. I’ll just lock the gag keys around your neck.”

“Nngggh ngh,” attempted Hiba, when they were on their way, but of course it was useless. The standard tube gags were more than enough to ensure that none of the women they encountered en-route to the administration block got any answers to their awkward questions. And whilst both the new arrivals would have liked to ask Emma about negotiating the girl-rails, now they had their own Settlement collars and tethers, they in fact found, as had hundreds of women before them, that pulling their neck bonds along the rails came quite naturally. And of course they were already used to being fettered.

Finally, when they stood in front of Mitch, Simon, and Chris, as well as Security Chief Number 32 and Mitch’s assistants, the tube gags were removed, the keys having been transported around 305’s neck, locked there, safely out of her reach, and they were allowed to speak.

“Master, please! We have to get help. Our master Sadi is ill, and his other girls are chained.” It came out in a rush, so that Number 32 had to get Pria to repeat it several times, asking questions until finally the story came out. Sadi, it seemed, had taken badly, and Hiba and Pria, still being free from their steel ring, had done what seemed best to them: ask Rachel and Madeleine for help.

“We can show you the way,” Hiba had explained. “If you unlock these tethers.”

“No!” exclaimed 32.

“No indeed,” confirmed Mitch. “We can’t do that. You have to stay on the girl-rails. Explain to Simon there as best you can, and he will lead some men and go and look.”

* * *

Excursions outside The Settlement borders had once been quite common; they had maintained several vehicles, and had scavenged far and wide for spare parts, fuel, materials and even people. But whilst men did still venture out periodically – and since they had now many more facilities to make their own parts and distill biofuel to operate trucks – there was much less point in doing so, for all that was worth scavenging was gone. The outside was now a complete wilderness, at least so far as human life was concerned – though they did note that birds and animals, previously largely absent, were making some kind of comeback.

This trip should be short, if Pria and Hiba, or Numbers 644 and 645 as they were now officially known, were correct. Their master and his vehicle, an old bus, was only an hour or so’s walk – and that for a fettered woman - from the stream that bordered the farming outpost. But even so, Simon, together with Clarke and Sam, two other men experienced in adventuring beyond the fence, still made the usual careful preparations – mechanical checks on the truck, spare fuel, water and food all loaded, tools and weapons all being carefully tested. Expecting to meet at least four women, they also made sure they had with them appropriate security equipment – cuffs, chains, padlocks and a suitable portable cage strapped to the back of the truck and taking up half its load space.

In fact, it took several hours to find the place they were looking for: partly the description they had was not very accurate, and partly it was the lush forest growth that had sprung up around that side of The Settlement that made it impossible to see further than a few metres from the old road. But finally, after three circuits, they found a point where a vehicle had obviously pulled off the road and followed it. It wound down through the woods before a sharp bend finally revealed what they were looking for: an old yellow school bus, and surrounding it, obvious signs of an encampment of sorts, though somewhat untidy.

The men’s advent brought a collection of female faces to the windows of the bus. They could not hear anything, but the animation on the faces suggested screams. Approaching, still cautiously, for one never knew what to expect, the men scouted round the immediate area, and found no threat, and then approached close enough to discern that the girls at the bus windows were quite clearly calling for help.

The bus doors, on the far side of the vehicle from where they had first approached, were locked from the outside – they had been reinforced with thick strips of steel, and were fastened with large padlocks. Whilst the men had tools, they were not up to the task of breaking through these locks.

“We could smash the glass,” said Simon. Their tools did include sledgehammers.

“Let’s look around first,” said Clarke. “The keys may be nearby.”

Sam tried to make reassuring gestures to the women confined inside the bus, and then the men set about exploring the area in more detail. There was a fire pit, built up with stones, and they turned these over seeking a hiding place, and then they followed trails of footprints variously leading to the edge of the forest clearing. Pushing through the first line of undergrowth, they found more spaces, one of which had been fashioned into a rough plantation in which grew several rows of root vegetables. They split up and went different ways, but it was only a few minutes before Simon’s cry of “Here, guys!” brought them together again.

The sweet, rancid stench and the buzzing of flies were an obvious accompaniment to the rapidly decomposing corpse of a man – a middle-aged, Asian-looking man, who appeared to have collapsed en-route back from the forest.

“Poor guy,” said Sam.

“Poor women in the bus,” said Clarke. “They would have starved if we hadn’t got here. Does he have keys?”

He did, fortunately fairly easy to find beneath the body, without any distasteful rummaging amongst the decaying flesh.

“We’ll get our shovels and bury him in due course,” said Simon, “but let’s deal with the women.”

The inside of the bus had a close, hot, and panic stricken atmosphere. It was also squalid, the women having no proper sanitation facilities and no way to clean up. There were four of them, all dark-skinned, of ages ranging between twenty or so and their mid-forties, and all would clearly be attractive when cleaned up. As it was they were sweat-stained and lank-haired. They were all armbindered, fettered and chained by the neck to a steel ring set into the floor of the bus, and otherwise naked.

It took some while to calm them down, and they needed water, which was fetched from the copious supplied carried on The Settlement’s truck, before they were at last able to say that their master had gone to fetch food, leaving them here, three days ago, and had not returned. Then came the moment to tell them of the fate of their master, and to comfort and reassure them as much as they could.

They left the women where they were for the moment – none of them seemed to have any expectation that they might be freed from their bondage, their ambition extending only to having men to see to their needs – and they buried Sadi close to where he had died, in the woods. Then, using the padlocks and chains with which the girls were already equipped, they joined them together by the neck and chained them in the cage on the back of their truck and transported them back to The Settlement.

* * *

Number 523 had reached an understanding with her boss, the leader, that she was not required to knock when coming and going from his inner office. If he wanted privacy, he could use the girl-rail bolt at his door to keep her, and any other female, out. So, she just nodded at the other Jenny Number 6, who worked, as usual, at her desk, her hands free and cuffs laid by, and went in, taking up a stance in front of Mitch’s desk, smiling brightly and waiting till he was ready to deal with her.

“Thank you, 32,” he said, pulling his member out of the security chief, who lay across his desk, her face towards Jenny. Mitch gave 32’s more than ample rump a friendly smack, and pulled up his shorts while she, with a rattle of chains, struggled to her feet and shook her head, trying to restore some order to her passion-dishevelled hair.

“So she’s ready for me, is she?” said the leader, turning his attention to the new arrival. “Lead on, I’m coming.”

Jenny dragged her tether back through the outer office and across the courtyard to the block of cells where, recently, Claire, Emily and Carine had awaited their fate. Now

Number 391 was in the same position, locked away while Mitch decided what, if anything it was necessary to do about her, given her failure to report the appearance of 644 and 645.

“Go on first, 523,” said Mitch, when they were inside. “Let her know I’m coming.”

Inside the cell, Rachel was trying to come to terms with her new Respect Collar. Not that she had had chance to try it much, for there had been no one to talk to. And of course she could not see it, for the cell had no mirror, and she had no chance to feel at it either, for her hands remained cuffed behind her. So the new collar was just there, feeling superficially much like her old one, but playing on her mind so even thinking of escape, which over her months in the community she had done a lot, now seemed fantastically dangerous. Perhaps the collar would read her thoughts.

At least here, alone, she could indulge her imagination to the extent of fantasizing that it was just herself being held in chains for a while, and soon she would be out, and there was a normal life out there to which she would return. This vision comforted her a little, until the advent of the leader’s nude and shackled assistant at the barred cell door reminded her that it was not just her, it was all females who were chained, and there was no normal life out there, except in so far as being held in constant, naked bondage was the new normality.

“Hey, Rache,” said Jenny. “Mitch is coming. He wants to talk to you.”

Rachel’s heart sank, and her stomach flipped, but she dragged herself to her feet and rattled her way over to the door. There was no point in being disrespectful to Mitch at this stage. “Is he in a good mood?” she asked.

“Of course,” said Jenny. “Why would be not be? Here he is now.”

“Hello, 391,” said the man, admiring the blonde through the bars of her cell door. “How are you doing?”

“OK, Sir,” she said quietly. “Bored and lonely. And a bit nervous of this collar.”

“Yes, well,” said Mitch. “You’ll get used to it. Just speak respectfully. Hey, 523?” The leader glanced over his shoulder to where his assistant stood, waiting.

“I’m looking forward to mine, Sir,” she said, still smiling.

“Well anyway, 391,” we’ve decided to keep you away from the farming outpost for now. You’re going to spend a few days up at the cabin, with George and some others. Till you and they are all used to your Respect Collars, and the fuss over these newcomers has died down.”

“OK, Sir. Thank you Sir.” Rachel found herself cheered at the thought of seeing George and Elaine again. Perhaps it would all be OK then.

* * *

“Here you are, ladies,” said Annabelle, carefully lifting the juice cups with their straws onto the table – she was an expert at doing this now, despite her handcuffs, but it still took care and concentration.

“How are you settling in?” she inquired, after moving the last cup from her little trolley.

“Alright…I think,” said Pria. “It’s strange.”

“But everyone’s been very friendly,” said Hiba.

Annabelle looked at them. They looked like Settlement girls, now, quite at home with their collars and tethers, but then from what everyone said they had been used to being chained anyhow. But their armbinders still caused a stir wherever they went: the women in this community quite naturally had an interest in bondage equipment, and new devices like these always aroused that interest.

As if reading Annabelle’s mind, Hiba spoke: “175,” she asked, “do you think we will ever be allowed out of our armbinders, and have handcuffs, like you? Ones that come off now and then?”

Number 175 felt the familiar clasp of her cuffs on her wrists. They did not come off that often, she thought: not more than once a week, now she had moved in with Glenn. Not that she minded - she was totally used to their presence, indeed she loved how they felt, loved wearing them, loved cooking and running her little eatery in them. But she could see that the new arrivals’ armbinders were a different kind of restraint altogether.

“I don’t know, Hiba,” she answered at last. “How could I? I’m just a woman, like you. You know what the rules say. Having our hands free is a privilege, not a right. We have no right to expect it.”

* * *

After three days, the six naked women chained in the cabin had got used to living together, and the men had also risked letting them have their hands free, a little at first, and then, since there was usually at least one of the men on hand, for most of the day, so a holiday atmosphere had developed. The girls had also – during times that they were firmly cuffed – enjoyed the outside, making much use of the little beach at the end of the girl-rail. There had also been a pleasing amount of sex: George had devoted himself to Elaine and Rachel’s ongoing satisfaction, whilst Bill and Joanna had continued their usual active and passionate togetherness. Meanwhile Carine, Emily and Claire had found themselves shared between Dave and Alan; in the case of Dave’s women this being the first time for several years that he had allowed another man to use them.

But since they were pledged women, they had no choice whatever in the matter: a pledged woman did as her man commanded, in sex as in everything.

Even Rachel managed to relax a little, particularly when outside with the other girls, having a splash in the cool water or sunbathing on the beach. But in the night, lying awake on the opposite side of the cage from the snoring Elaine, she still succumbed to tears, staring at the gloom beyond her imprisoning bars, and knowing beyond all doubt that this was her fate, to live out her days in this community, subject entirely to men’s will, always naked, always chained and now, with the protection of her new electronic collar, unable ever again even to speak of an alternative to life as a Settlement girl.

The End

Copyright© 2013 by Kirsten Graham. All rights reserved.