Her New World
Over the next few months, a routine of sorts guided Staci's life with Bob McKinly. No matter what other things were happening in her life, there were moments during the day that she could always count on happening.
At first, the very rigidity of the rules and routine Bob set up for her made her feel trapped and less than human. It was like she was just a part in a machine that always did the same job, over and over again. But as time went by she found comfort in the daily tasks and actually missed them on the odd times when circumstance happened to change. The structured life, which had appealed to her back when she first joined the military on Earth, allowed her to settle and learn her new place; and allowed her to truly feel a part of the community.
The sameness of each day provided an odd kind of comfort for her, for surprises were usually unpleasant or at least a little unsettling. Unless of course they were provided by Bob who, she admitted, was doing a fair job of trying to woo her. She knew that in other circumstances she wouldn’t have hesitated to give a relationship with Bob a go, but she just couldn’t let go of what was happening to her to allow herself that luxury.
A part of her was also aware that despite her resistance, Bob McKinly had managed to train her to his liking in many things. She was accepting, and in some cases even liking a little, the ways and means he used on her to impose his dominance over her, including the slave chain between her legs.
Her days almost always started with them getting up early and heading to the beach for their morning run. At first Bob would dress her for the walk to the beach and undress her for the run itself. But that soon changed to her going there nude and soon Staci got used to walking through town naked except for her bonds.
Once on the beach she would always run with her hands bound behind her, and once she got used to that she was able to extend her distance until a morning run for both of them equaled six kilometers with little effort. After their run they would return home where Staci would bathe her Master and then cook their breakfast.
Three days a week saw her joining Priss' aerobics class which was now held on stage in the bar for the amusement of anyone coming there for breakfast. The other four days of the week Bob had her in the Gym on weight training.
The rest of the day was usually spent working. She worked for Bob and Butu exclusively at first, slowly bringing the recreation building online, and then afterward part time for Tommy Windwalker and his construction crew as well, keeping their electronics in order.
Her evenings were usually the most random; she rarely knew in advance what she was going to be doing. But bedtime with Bob always meant her being chained to the bed, while he played with her body.
He knew just how to play her too, stimulating her passions until she cried out for release. It was sensual torture at its best, but one thing Staci always managed to deny him was her request that he have sex with her. Sometimes it was very hard to resist, and sometimes she wondered why it was important that she resist him that way considering how he had such intimate contact with her anyway. It would hardly be a stretch for them to take that step. Yet a small part of her mind just would not let go, thinking of it as her last surrender.
And so the days, the weeks, passed.
One of the first events of note for Staci after the Colony had started to settle in, was dinner at Alan Kent's home. This took place about three days after the big celebration party at the bar.
The party itself had been a big success with almost everyone in attendance, although Staci noticed that neither Mrs. Kent nor Doctor Kelly had shown up. Still, no one else seemed to notice and Staci, along with Mya and two other girls, got to play waitress for the night, serving drinks and food to the rest of the Colonists.
Entertainment was provided by several of the women of the group Staci liked to call "The Barbarians". Seemingly, they were a group of about twenty men and all their women who were dedicated to living a more...leather and sword...type of lifestyle. And there were rumors that this group would be leaving the camp in a year to go found another one where they would live completely off the land. They supposedly followed the edicts of some fantasy writer Staci had never heard of, and because of this they seemed brash, full of vigor, even violent to her eyes. But as she got to know them she saw them as probably the happiest bunch on the planet, and she watched them, fascinated. Their leader was a man named Jake Torres and while he wasn’t a physically imposing man like Tommy Windwalker, Jake had a presence that other women called “True Master”. But you didn’t have to be a slave girl to see it and Staci had to admit that the man had that “thing” that got other people to pay attention to him. He Led, with a capital L, and no other position seemed possible for him, and at the party he was surrounded by people who automatically deferred to him as was his due. Staci found it hard to keep her eyes off him.
At the party, the barbarian women spent a lot of the time dancing on stage to music of a certain primitive nature, real instruments played by real people rather than the synth stuff so popular on Earth at the moment. She didn’t know that anyone even still knew how to play a real guitar anymore, but the members of Jake’s group were very good and the music they played was well suited for what their women were doing on stage. The women didn't dance like strippers, but much more like dancers from the Far East. Many danced chained or bound, and rather than inhibit their movements the restraints seemed to guide them, as if the moves they made were designed to be danced that way. It was quite beautiful, and the increasingly drunk crowd applauded loudly when each girl took the stage.
At one point Staci was surprised to see Bob go on stage, apparently taking a break from the bar where he had been working all night. He had in his hand a very long bullwhip, and with him was a girl who Staci recognized as Lynn, the biologist she’d met while surveying the planet. As Lynn was being strung up naked on stage, her back to the audience, Staci remembered Bob's comment about his skill with the whip and how Lynn liked that sort of treatment. So Staci stood spellbound with the rest of the Colony as her Master gave a demonstration of that skill, slowly bringing Lynn to several orgasms with the whip, either by caressing her with it, or giving her increasingly harder strikes or by simply cracking it hard and making it snap close enough to her skin for her to feel the shock waves of the tip breaking the sound barrier without actually touching her. By the time Bob was done, Lynn was a sweaty, panting wreck, but her body displayed only a few red marks where the whip had touched her.
Of course the Colony was suitably impressed and applause was high, but Bob didn't react much except to give the crowd a wave and a quick smile. He did search Staci out with his eyes though and when they locked the couple almost seemed to talk without words.
Staci thought she saw pride on his face, and also a challenge and it disturbed her. Bob in his turn thought he saw curiosity in her eyes, and a little fear. Then she broke eye contact and he watched her look over at Lynn who still hung in her ropes, coming down from her sub space, and Bob was surprised to see a flash of jealousy. He kept that to himself though and returned to his job, full of thoughts.
After that, Kent stood up, looking quite drunk, and gave a welcoming speech that was well received by all; after which he played on the Bar's big stage monitor a surprise from Earth. It was a message from the President of Earth himself, sent eight years earlier, timed to arrive shortly after the Colony did. The Mayflower, high in orbit, had received the message on its big transmission relay, cleaned up the faint digital signal, and beamed it down to the planet. So now everyone watched as they were congratulated by a man that at the moment this was recorded had no idea if the Colony would make it safely to Elvira. To make things even more surreal by the time the signal reached the Colony the man would no longer be in power, so it wasn't even the current President addressing them. These thoughts, more than the political speech itself, had a sobering effect on the crowd as each person in turn realized just how far they had come. But once the message was over, the crowd's good mood returned and soon it was a boisterous as ever.
Only one other incident marked the party for Staci, and that was the fight. It was over a woman, surprisingly enough. Two men started beating on each other and most of the folk around just stood back to get out of their way.
Not Janis, however. The engineer waded in and broke up the fight, carting off the guy who started it and expelling him from the bar.
"You ought to get a bouncer!" Janis yelled at Bob after it was over.
"You want a job?" Bob replied, joking, and half the bar, Janis included, started to laugh.
People were very drunk.
That was the party, and now a few days later Staci and Bob were walking through a light drizzle to the home of Alan Kent.
He had invited them just that morning, telling Bob that it was about time they had a sit-down. So, that evening, Bob surprised Staci with a lovely red dress that while light, draped her gracefully and modestly.
"What's the occasion?" Staci had asked upon receiving it in their apartment, while holding it up to herself and looking in a mirror.
"Dinner with the boss," Bob replied, noting the gleam in Staci's eye as she admired the dress, and the gleam between her legs from the chain. He was glad she was happy with it; he didn't know a woman who didn't like something nice to wear from time to time, or even at all!
He let her primp for an hour before locking her hands together for the walk over, and connected a leash to her collar on the way out. But a lot of her careful work was being undone by the rain. Bob didn't mind though, he preferred Staci's more natural look anyway.
Kent had moved into one of the first completed detached homes built by Tommy Windwalker and his crew, and befitting his status, the house was a large one, or at least here it was.
On Earth, the house would have served a family of four with little room left over, but here it was a mansion, at least until a real one could be built.
It had a covered porch which got the two former astronauts out of the rain, and the front door was opened by a small Japanese woman who most definitely was not Joyce Kent.
Staci just blinked, pulling slightly at the lock that held her arms behind her, while the woman, dressed in a beautiful silk kimono, bowed.
"Mr. McKinly. Please, come in," said the woman in perfect English.
"Thank you, Tagi," Bob said with a smile as he stepped inside, tugging on Staci's leash to make her follow, "I haven't seen you since landing. How have you been?"
"Tagi has been well, Mr. McKinly, and yourself?"
"Just fine, Tagi. May I introduce Staci?"
Staci had followed Bob into the front hall of the home and stood uncertainly on the cold floor. She felt a mess; damp, her hair coming undone, her bare feet wet and muddy, she again didn't feel at her best for meeting new people. But at least she was dressed this time although the fabric didn't look that good wet. Evidently Tagi agreed because her eyes widened with shock.
Bob chuckled, pulling off his shoes. "Yeah, the rain did some damage. Could you take her and tidy her up for me, then bring her along?"
"Yes, Mr. McKinly, of course!" replied Tagi, frowning at the mud on the floor.
Bob smiled and turned to his ward. "Staci, Tagi is an old friend. You'll be fine with her. Let her get you cleaned up and I'll see you soon."
"Er...yes, Sir," said Staci, wanting to ask him if he was sure. Tagi didn't look that friendly to her. But then Staci wondered how friendly she would look if someone had just muddied up one of her floors, especially the way Bob liked to make her clean them.
She waited as Tagi directed Bob through a door, hearing the men greet each other as Bob entered the room, and then Tagi was back.
"You will come with Tagi, girl," she said simply, "and you will behave. This is Tagi's home, you are a guest!"
"Sure," Staci said with a smile.
Tagi didn't smile, instead with a huff she took Staci's leash and started pulling. The two women hurried to the back of the house, through the kitchen and into a large downstairs bathroom. Tagi then turned and began to remove Staci's dress, which of course was designed to be taken off a bound woman.
"What are you doing?" Staci said, trying to dance away from Tagi's fingers.
"Tagi's orders are to clean you up, girl. You have mud all the way up your legs and the easiest way to clean you is to shower you. Now, stop wriggling!"
"I don't need a shower, just a wet...ow!"
Tagi had reached up and given one of Staci's nipples a really hard pinch, getting her attention. "You listen, girl. Here, you guest, you slave of guest. You do as Tagi says!"
Staci couldn't believe it; the woman couldn't even talk about herself in the first person. But fearing what might happen if she continued to refuse, she allowed Tagi to strip her and shove her under the shower. Tagi herself quickly removed her kimono and, also nude, she stepped in and began to run the water. This was no sensual bath, it was a hard, fast scrubbing, with Tagi using lots of soap to take not only the mud, but half of Staci's skin off, or so it seemed to the bound girl. She wondered what Tagi thought of the fine chain handing from her clit hood, but Tagi didn't appear to notice as she started from the bottom, cleaning Staci's feet. Tagi didn't limit herself to Staci's legs either, she gave Staci a complete body scrub and rinse in five minutes flat before pulling her out and toweling her down. Then she attached Staci's leash to hook on the wall and told the girl to wait, dashing off with Staci's dress.
She returned without it a minute later and, after drying and dressing herself, proceeded to style Staci's hair, putting back the look Staci had given it in almost nothing flat. Some delicate touch-up work on Staci's makeup, and Tagi was almost done. She finished by retrieving the dress which looked like it had just gone through an autolaund machine, and put it back on her.
Through all this, between the yelps and the grunts, Staci tried to engage Tagi in conversation. She had lots of things she wanted to ask Tagi about Alan Kent, but the oriental woman refused to talk about him. After first saying that Kent's private life was none of Staci's business, she then threatened to take a willow stick to her.
Staci shut up, but thought about the evident loyalty Tagi had for her boss.
Fifteen minutes later Staci looked wonderful. She told Tagi as much as the Japanese unhooked her leash.
"Of course you look wonderful," said Tagi with a frown. "Would Tagi prepare you otherwise? Come, time to present you to your Master."
"He's not..." Staci started to say yet again, but then shrugged. To the rest of the Colonists, Bob McKinly was her Master. Of course he was. He was the one in charge, wasn't he? He controlled her collar which meant controlling her.
Staci also had to remember that Tagi was most likely more than the Kent's maid; she had to be his so-called slave as well. She wondered if Kent slept with her.
Tagi led Staci, still on her leash to the front of the house and into a large room, where she tethered the leash to a hook high up where Staci couldn't reach it.
"Wait here," Tagi said simply before leaving Staci alone.
"As if I had much choice," Staci replied quietly with a sigh. She looked around the room and tried to take it all in.
The walls, floor and ceiling were all white, but the floor at least was thickly carpeted and felt good between her now clean toes. Casual furniture was scattered about and a large fireplace glowed with a burning fire. The room was decorated rather erotically, with paintings, photos, and statuary depicting various women in either nude and/or bondage themes. Several caught Staci's eye including one wooden piece on a shelf of a near nude woman wrapped in tight rope, a look of ecstasy on her face.
A nearby photo of a vagina bisected by a double strand of rope was scrutinized by the bound girl, an engorged clitoris trapped and squeezed between the two strands, a drop of moisture poised to fall from the wet folds of flesh.
At one end of the room was the oversized ebony figure of a nude woman on her hands and knees, her back supporting the glass top of a dining table.
Over the fireplace was a large portrait of Alan Kent and his wife Joyce, but was not the usual husband/wife portrait that you would see in someone's home. Kent himself looked rather normal in a four piece suit, but kneeling at his feet, Joyce looked nothing like the smart, business woman that was her public face the few times she was ever seen in public. In this portrait she appeared to be encased in heavy metal bands that circled and bound her tightly into position. Her calves and thighs looked welded together and her arms practically disappeared under the solid metal jacket she wore. Her crotch was buried deep under a huge chastity belt but her breasts poked free, almost obscene in the way they bulged out of the metal. Her neck and lower face were also covered in a metal form that had to stop her head moving at all. Her mouth was covered and Staci saw that the artist had caught how stretched open her jaw must have been, showing Staci that Joyce must have been heavily gagged. Yet her eyes were what drew Staci in, for they shone with a joy that was unmistakable.
Staci wondered if whoever painted this had taken some artistic license regarding Joyce Kent's eyes. Who could find joy being stuck in something like that? It looked like torture to Staci.
One stone piece quite close to her of a lovely young woman was the next thing Staci examined, and she could walk right up to it she was so close. The young woman was nude and half in a crouch, as if caught rising to her feet from a kneeling position. One arm was thrown back for balance as she rose, but the other was caught in the act of attempting to cover her nudity. Her face looked shocked and embarrassed, as if not expecting to be caught like she was, and Staci wondered what the girl had been doing just before being 'discovered'. She had to admire the sculptor’s skill though. Even though the statue was only half size, he had managed to express the model's shame with such clarity that Staci almost felt for her. She knew what it was like to be in that moment...exposed...vulnerable.
"That's an original Cook!" said a voice behind her, and Staci jumped, turning quickly in surprise. She saw that it was Alan Kent, standing at the far end of the room next to the table. He had a drink in one hand and was smiling at her. "It's close to eighty years old...well...almost a hundred now counting trip time. It’s one of the more fragile pieces I own. Do you like it?"
"It's...very well done, Sir," answered Staci, feeling flustered and not sure why. She looked around for Bob but he wasn't there.
"Brian Cook was an old man before he did his best work, and I hear that work done of this particular girl are quite valuable because she later made quite a name for herself in her own right, by becoming a Superior Court Justice after a long and well-regarded legal career. I paid over eight million for this piece alone." He walked slowly into the room, his eyes on Staci, a trailing hand touching the various pieces of art he passed, pausing in front of the painting of himself and his wife.
"Where's Bob?" Staci asked, uncomfortable with her hands locked behind her.
"He'll be just a minute. We were just conducting a little business," Kent replied, glad she had asked. Like Bob, Alan Kent saw any show of dependence on Bob McKinly, as an important part of Staci's growth here. By learning to depend on Bob, Staci would find the course of believing him her Master to be that much easier. The more independent she remained, the harder it would be for her. Kent was also glad that it was Bob who was involved with her. Not only was he happy that his friend had someone he actually cared about, but Staci was enough of a distraction for the other man that Kent knew Bob wasn't paying attention to what was happening in the Colony. It was important, he had plans.
Staci nodded and pulled at her cuffed hands, looking away from him.
Kent smiled and came closer. "Come, I'll undo those for you. I know Bob likes to make sure you won’t run away from him, but here in my house I make the rules!"
Staci stood still as Kent went behind her, and in moments her hands were free and the leash was taken off. She wasn't sure what she was supposed to do.
"Thanks...Sir," she said.
"Don't mention it. Feel free to explore the room. Can I get you a drink?"
"Er...maybe I'd better wait."
Kent chuckled, "That's fine. You know, Major, you look wonderful in that dress. Much better than in that grimy flight suit I first saw you wearing."
Staci grew still, looking over at him. "I remember," she said softly, thinking that she wasn’t much of an Air Force Major anymore.
"Who would have thought that that meeting would have led to all this...to all the success the Colony is having right now?" He smiled at her. "We owe you so much."
"If you owe me so much, then how about letting me go? Let me live the life I want!" she told him, voicing a wish that at times didn't seem quite as strong as it used to be.
Kent shook his head. "Sorry, Staci. What is; has to be. It's for the good of the Colony, the good of the world we're trying to build here. But no more talk of that. It'll be time to eat soon."
As if on cue, Tagi appeared at the far end of the room and she began to lay places at the table...two of them.
"Isn't Bob coming?" Staci asked a little alarmed.
"Of course he is, neither of those places are for you. He tells me he hand feeds you."
Staci blushed, on one side ashamed that she still took food from Bob's fingers at dinner, and on the other hand a little upset that Bob was talking about what they did in private. She wondered what other things he bragged about to his buddies.
"What about your wife?" Staci asked, attempting to cover her embarrassment and anger. "Is she going to join us?"
"Join us? She's already here! Has been since before you came in!" chuckled Kent.
"What?" Staci said, looking around. She didn't see anyone else in the room with them, not even bound up in some sort of contraption.
Kent smiled and finished his drink, heading over to a wet bar in the corner discreetly hidden behind a mobile of chains. "Let me tell you something about my wife," he said as he fixed himself a new drink. "Joyce and I have been married for ten years and a more insatiable woman for bondage I have never met. She isn't happy until every last opportunity for movement has been taken away from her! She revels in restriction and can endure absolute control longer than anyone else I know. Now, I love bondage, but she frightens even me, and it becomes harder to satisfy her cravings at times." He came away from the bar, fresh drink in hand and looked at Staci. "That painting over the fireplace, it was done true to life and Joyce was actually cold welded into the metal web you see her in. By the time the artist had started, she had already been in it for almost a week, and she didn't come out until two more after the painting was done."
Staci didn't know if she quite believed him. "How did you feed her, how did she use the bathroom?" she asked.
"The bathroom was easy, urinal and anal catheters. Feeding her was another matter and meant having the chin section of her metal helmet removable. You can't see it in the painting but it all came apart. If you like, I could show you the actual body cage. You're about her size, perhaps you would even like to try it!" he said with a grin.
"No...thank you, Sir," Staci said, swallowing.
Kent chuckled. "Don't blame you. I doubt you'd last an hour. Well...you'd last as long as we had you in there, but you wouldn't want to be in it for more than an hour."
"Less than that, even, Sir," Staci replied.
"I hear you. Joyce sure is different. She loves being bound in unusual ways: ways you'd never suspect could be possible. That said, do you think you can find her?"
"Find who?" asked Bob McKinly, walking into the room.
Staci looked at him and smiled, making him smile back.
"Joyce," Kent said, noting the exchange, "she's here."
Bob frowned. "She's in the table, isn't she?" he asked, turning to the glass topped piece of furniture that Tagi was now putting food on.
"Bob! You gave it away!" exclaimed Kent with a laugh.
Staci frowned. "You can’t be serious!" she said.
"Oh she's there all right, trust me," said Alan Kent.
"But...how?" Staci asked. Then she saw it. Yes the nude figure was oversized, but not very much so. Just enough to give the table top the proper height and enough to hide the body within. It could be done.
"Is she okay?" asked Staci, moving closer.
Bob took hold of her shoulders while Kent moved to the table.
"She's fine," Kent said, "here, you can ask her yourself." He sat down at the literal head of the table and fiddled with the face of the figure for a moment. Then he pulled a part of the lower head away to reveal the smaller, pink jaw and mouth of the woman inside. The woman's mouth hung open for it had been clamped about a now visible monstrous phallus-shaped gag, and drool ran down to the floor in a long streamer.
"Hi Hun," Kent said gently, "I know you heard everything we said, so why don't you reassure Staci here that you're okay."
The edges of the mouth turned up in a smile. "Sure," they heard, the voice rough, horse. "I'm fine, going great really. It's okay."
"You sure?" Staci asked, unable to imagine how anyone could stand being where Joyce evidently was. She tried to move closer but Bob held onto her and shook his head.
"I'm fine, dear, really. I've only been here for...what, a week? I missed the party didn't I?"
"A week..." whispered Staci, amazed.
"Yes dear," Kent answered his wife, "you missed the party. But it's okay, everyone understood. Do you need anything?"
"No. I'm good. Put the gag back, please?"
"Tagi will be by to feed you later, but we're going to eat now. You have a good time," Kent said, and he lifted the chin piece back up, pushing the phallus back into Joyce's waiting mouth and locked the whole thing back into place while he explained that the whole house was wired for sound and video and that it all fed into Joyce's helmet. "That way, she can still be a part of whatever is going on here, and knows what's happening."
Tagi, who had been standing next to the wall, took the opportunity to step forward. "Dinner is served," she said with a smile.
"Let's eat!" Kent added, grinning at his guests.
Staci had lots more she wanted to know, but Bob told her to hush and had her kneel next to him on the soft carpet, locking her hands behind her again. She spent the next hour not saying much as Bob fed her by hand, and she avoided Kent's eyes as much as she could. All the time the men talked about camp business, Staci was aware of the woman trapped not a foot from her, forced into total immobility. It blew her mind.
Her mind, however, was dragged back into the present by the mention of another name.
"Are you aware of what Dick Janis has been up to lately?" Bob said to Alan Kent as he sat back in his chair. The meal had been a light one, but long- winded. Many courses, tiny portions.
"What's that?" Kent asked, sipping at some port.
"He's been bitching about the fight at the bar that he stopped; said we should have had someone there to handle things like that," Bob replied.
"What's he going to do, sue you?" Kent said with a chuckle.
"No. He's been saying that we need a police force, or a Sheriff, and he's putting himself up for the job!"
Kent said nothing, he just looked thoughtful.
Bob frowned. "Don't tell me you agree with him."
Kent shrugged. "It hadn't been part of the original plan I admit. I figured that we would all get along together and that crime wouldn't rear its ugly head for at least a generation or two. But I wasn't thinking of some of the other things cops do that we seem to be dealing with from time to time."
"What's that?" asked Bob.
"Keep the peace," replied Kent. "Take your fight for example. Too many drunks and not enough room for them. Back on Earth they would have been carted off to the drunk tank and left to sober up. We don't have that here. Instead I think Janis took one over to his shop and let him sack out in their break room. He seems to have the instinct for it."
"I don't think Janis is quite the man we need to be our first Sheriff, Alan," Bob said with a sigh.
"You only say that because you don't like him."
"I say it because I don't trust him!" countered Bob. "Why you let him bully his way onto the flight I'll never know!"
"He came because that was his price for his drive technology." Kent answered.
"You could have gotten it from him in other ways."
"No...he was too smart for that. You forget the man is a genius, despite outward appearances." said Kent.
"He doesn't fit in," Bob replied quietly, taking a sip of his drink, "and I think his attitudes are starting to affect others.
Both Kent and Staci looked at him.
"Why do you say that?" Kent asked.
Bob shrugged, "Stuff I hear and see, working behind the bar during the day. The guys that work with him, they seem harder, harsher to their women then they were on Earth. It might just be me but they don't look quite as happy as I remember them, the women that is. I've also seen a few bruises, some whipping scars."
"Men are entitled to discipline their women as they see fit, Bob," Kent said, making Staci frown.
"True," Bob replied, deepening Staci's frown, "but I'm seeing these injuries on women whose owners were never really into that side of things before. We all know Dick Janis' attitudes toward what makes a proper BDSM relationship though, so I figure he's been working on his people, turning them a bit.
Kent shrugged, "Maybe. But I think that he might be just what this community needs."
"We have enough assholes already," grumbled Bob, and Kent laughed.
Then Kent looked down at Staci who knelt watching both men.
"Bob tells me you're adjusting," he said to her, changing the subject.
"What else can I do...Sir?" Staci said evenly, making Bob glare at her.
Kent just smiled. "True. Tell me, has there been anything Bob has shown you about our lifestyle that you actually like?"
Staci tried to hide it, but she began to blush and Kent knew for sure that the hook had caught on something in Staci's psyche. He looked up at Bob who didn't look like he wanted to change the subject. "Do you know what it is?"
Bob sighed, and then smiled and nodded slightly. "Rope work," he said.
"Found out quite by accident. Up until a little bit ago I'd been using nothing but chains or leather straps on her. But for a change one night I decided to practice my Japanese bondage on her. She didn't like that at first either, but as the ropes went on her she calmed down and actually got into it. She especially likes it when I rope her breasts; they're quite sensitive anyway, so she really feels it. She barely admits it of course." He grinned down at the blushing girl, but it was evident that he spoke the truth.
"Staci," said Kent, "tell us...what's so special about being roped?"
"There's nothing special about it," Staci said quietly.
"Come now. Nothing at all? The feel of the rope against your skin, the constrictions of each loop going around you?"
Staci looked down, unwilling to answer. To tell the truth, she wasn't sure what it was that calmed her while being bound in rope. She wondered if it was the sensuality of it all as the ropes were laid on her body, so much more elegant than being locked in a chain. Having her breasts wrapped at first scared her, but the actual feelings were very different and couldn't help but arouse her, so maybe it was that. Maybe it was just the fact that it was Bob doing it, taking his time, paying attention to her as he worked. She was almost...almost...willing to submit to him when he brought out a coil of rope for play.
"I'd like to see that," Kent said, watching Staci closely.
He saw her eyes open wide and watched as she caught Bob's eye. The couple looked at each other for a moment and Kent knew they were talking to each other in the subtle way couples did, and that Staci was asking Bob to say no.
Kent figured that this business with the ropes was something she considered too private to share...perhaps a part of the bond Staci and Bob were developing.
Bob, to his credit, caught that too and politely refused Kent's request.
"That's okay. Another time perhaps," Kent said. "Say, I just remembered. I have something for you both. Why don't we move to the fire and I'll get it."
They got up from the table and Staci took one last look at Joyce's tomb before following her owner across the room.
Bob settled into an armchair and Staci, out of habit brought on by her training, settled at his feet, her hands still trapped behind her. As usual she felt the caress of the chain between her thighs as she knelt, and its slight pull against her clit. She was always aware of her sex now.
Kent left the room and came back within a minute with a flat black box which he handed to Bob.
"What is it?" Bob asked.
Bob opened the box and smiled, making Staci wonder what was in it.
"I've seen these," Bob said. "Memory metal, right?"
"The loops, yes," Kent answered.
Staci knew what memory metal was: a class of metal formed into a specific shape under certain specialized conditions. If the metal was later deformed, pulled out of shape, you just had to reapply those conditions and it would 'remember' the shape it was supposed to be in and return to it.
"Can I see, Sir?" she asked, the engineer in her curious to find out what they would be using memory metal for.
Both men looked at each other and grinned, suddenly worrying her.
"Sure," said Bob, "kneel up."
Stacy turned to face Bob and got up high on her knees. She was aware of Kent walking around behind her, but her eyes were on the box. She gasped as Bob lifted a thin silver chain from it, light refracting off it in many colors. It was lovely. She almost didn't notice the fine wire loops at each end.
"Beautiful!" she exclaimed.
"I'm glad you like it," Kent said behind her, undoing the clasp that held her dress up around her neck. It immediately fell to her waist and Staci looked up, confused.
"It's a nipple chain," Bob explained with a soft smile, "one of the best. I've seen these in London, they're not that common." He brought his hand down to her bare breast and held one of the loops of fine wire next to her nipple. "This should work fine," he said.
"The pen is the trigger," Kent said, now holding Staci's upper arms.
"What are you doing?" she said, now scared.
"It's okay...It's okay," Bob said softly. "Staci, look at me. Look…at…me. It's okay...we're not going to hurt you. Do you trust me?"
She looked up into his eyes and saw he was sincere, and yes she trusted him. He had taken her many places but he had never abused her outright. She found that she did trust him and began to relax.
Bob watched her for a moment, then said, "Alan, let go of her."
"You sure?" said Kent.
"I'm sure. We're good." He smiled, and Staci echoed the smile with a faint one of her own. She was still nervous, but no longer scared.
Bob nodded and took out of the slim box a device no bigger than a pen. He held the tip to the wire loop and pushed a button. The loop immediately began to contract.
"What stops it from slicing her nipple off?" he asked.
"Skin contact itself," replied Kent. "Once a certain resistance is reached it stops contracting and will only expand from that point on. It's perfectly safe. The firm that makes these has been doing it for fifty years."
"I know. But I thought Staci needed to hear it."
"A proper submissive should just need to trust in their Master, and let them decide what is safe," Kent replied.
Bob arched an eyebrow. "I prefer to let Staci know what the risks are, if any. It's a part of my partnership with her." He grinned at Staci and she smiled back, thankful for his attitude. She appreciated being treated as a human for once.
"Of course," Bob went on, "I'm not going to ask her if she wants to wear this, that's my decision. But I will make sure she knows all the risks."
Kent chuckled and Staci gave Bob a look which he pretended to ignore. He reached out and carefully encircled Staci's left nipple with the fine wire loop and applied the pen.
Staci gasped as the wire retracted, tightening around her nipple and sending a shock wave deep into her. Her nipples had always been sensitive and this felt like someone had taken hold of it and was pinching, lightly, with his fingernails. She almost cried out.
"Okay?" Bob asked, watching her face and seeing the effect.
"Yes...yes...wow," she said, wondering if the effect was good or bad.
Bob smiled and repeated the action with the other nipple, holding the chain so its weight wasn't yet a factor.
Again Staci gasped and she pulled at her bonds, wanting to rub her nipples, but she couldn't. Instead she shifted her body, trying to come to terms with the pinched feeling she was getting. It didn't hurt at all, but it did feel weird.
Then Bob dropped the chain and Staci slammed her thighs shut. She gasped, her breathing heavy as she almost came. It was like the chain on her nipples was connected directly with the chain over her clit, both conspiring to keep her thinking of nothing but sex. If this was the way she was supposed to get around from now on, she knew she would be a wreck before the week was out.
"Oh God...please...take it off!" she pleaded.
"Does it hurt?" Bob asked.
"No...no...it just...God!" Staci answered, trying to catch her breath.
"Good, then it stays on for a little while," he replied, pulling her dress back up and fastening it. The material across her suddenly supersensitive nipples didn't help matters, and Staci actually whined.
Kent moved to sit down nearby. "Don't leave it on for longer than a week and let her have a few days between wearings. And be careful. One hard tug and you'll take her nipples off. That wire may be fine, but it'll hold her weight if it has to."
"I'll keep that in mind. You know, I’ve always preferred these to nipple rings. Piercings are fine when you want to include a girl’s nipples in her bondage, but for erotic stimulation a pinch is much more affective than a pull. Don’t you think?”
Kent nodded, “Oh, absolutely! Which reminds me…” he said, and the men talked for a while about there personal experiences in training women.
To Staci, the rest of the evening was somewhat of a blur; her mind almost fully diverted by the feelings coming from three points on her body, but as they were leaving they almost bumped into Doctor Kelly arriving.
As usual he had a somewhat worried expression on his face, yet he gave the couple a smile and watched as they left Kent's home for their own.
"Come on in, Don," Kent said, also watching Bob and Staci walk away.
"Couldn't this have waited until morning?" grumbled the doctor.
Kent just gave him a look and pulled him inside.
Out on the street, Staci walked carefully along side her owner, trying not to cum as the chains attached to her sensitive spots all swung and tugged at her like an insistent lover. Her face was flushed and she didn't know if she was going through heaven or hell. To try to distract herself she forced some conversation.
"I don't remember seeing...Doctor Kelly...at the party," she said.
Bob looked over at his companion, well aware of what she was going through. He planned on taking the nipple chain off her that night, holding it in reserve for just special occasions, but he wasn't going to tell her yet. "Yeah, I didn't think he'd show," he said, going along.
"Why not?" Staci asked.
"Don hasn't been in a partying mood for years. You mean you didn't know?"
"About his wife and kid. They died in a boating accident about four or five years before we left Earth. His wife and his sixteen year old daughter went out together on their boat while the Doc was out of town, and the next thing people knew there were pieces of the boat floating against the shore. No one knows what happened to them. Don was devastated, still is. Never got intimate again. He's the only man here without a female companion."
"I thought that Anna..." Staci said, feeling for the man.
"No. She just works for him. Anna belongs to one of Tommy's crew, you know Pete. A nice guy, I hear he's been working on a definitive history of the Colony, has aspirations of being a writer. Anyway, I think Don Kelly just came along because he couldn't stand being on Earth anymore. I'm glad we have him."
Staci thought it was a pity, and he was such a handsome man too.
True to his thoughts, Bob did remove the nipple chain from Staci, after spending half the night torturing her with it, and things settled back down into the routine she had begun to need.
There was a buzz building in the Colony though over the next couple of weeks, about the first real expedition to go explore their new world. The final list of adventurers had yet to be drawn up and most were eager to be among the chosen.
Even Staci was eager to go, the explorer in her wanting to break free from the domestic life that was her lot. But she doubted she would get the chance. Despite her assurances that her prior escape attempt had been a moment of madness, she thought that Bob still considered her a flight risk and kept her bound for any trip out of the building, even when she went to the hospital for her weekly genetic shot.
She sometimes found this lack of trust to be annoying, especially when he was asking her to trust him so much. It wasn't until later that she found out that it wasn't lack of trust that kept her bound, but just personal taste. She was able to relax then.
But when the list came out she was disappointed that she wasn't on it, so much so that even Bob noticed.
"Don't worry, Pet," he told her that night as they settled together in bed. "When they come back I'll take you into the interior for a few days. We'll go camping and do some of our own exploring," he told her.
"Really?" Staci replied, turning in his arms, her own lashed to the headboard.
He nodded and she smiled, then she put her head back, shook her naked body as if presenting it to him and sighed. "Okay then, I'm ready...do your worst!"
Her giggles as he descended gave lie to her martyrdom, but still she refused his final advances.
On the day before the exploration group was supposed to leave, Staci found the list of adventurers affecting her after all.
It was evening and Bob and Staci were alone at home watching a movie on the big, flat, wall display in the living room. Bob was settled in nicely in his favorite comfy chair while Staci knelt beside him, her head resting against his thigh. Her arms were tight behind her, held in place by an intricate web of rope that wound about her body in a complicated design that had taken Bob half an hour to weave. Her breasts were tightly bound as well and Staci could feel them throb slightly with a heat that she never realized could be real, and the feeling was capped off by the nipple chain that made her feel that he was constantly holding her there. She didn't know why she liked this form of bondage, why it brought her pleasure while other forms did nothing for her, but both she and Bob were glad that they had found something she liked. It made her adjustment to the rest of her new life a lot easier. At times it made her feel that she just might have a chance at happiness here.
The door chime rang and as usual Staci felt a momentary panic at being naked and unable to do anything about it. But it quickly passed and she did her best to struggle to her feet, keenly aware, now that she was moving again, of the deep crotch rope she also wore. She gingerly headed to the door. Unless she couldn't move at all, she was expected to get the door if someone called, and it was with relief that this time it turned out to be Tommy and Priss.
Tommy was dressed, as usual, in his work clothes of jeans and leather shirt, while Priss wore a cloak that completely concealed her body except for her head.
Tommy, because of his military training, had been picked to go on the first expedition and Staci was frankly surprised to see them. She thought they would be spending their last night at home making like bunnies. The group was scheduled to be gone for two weeks.
"Hey, Staci. Looking good as always," Tommy said as he came in, his eyes openly taking her in. Staci blushed, well aware that this was the only man Bob trusted with her, for anything. More than once during social get-togethers she had found herself under Tommy's skilled hands. It wasn't an unpleasant experience and after the initial shock she just went with it. It didn't hurt that the man looked like a square-jawed hero with big brown eyes and muscles like steel bands. He was, in her opinion, hot! Once she and Priss became good friends it became even easier, as the two women could gossip about their men without feeling uncomfortable about it. Priss' only hang-up was Staci's insistence on not having sex with Bob, a service Tommy hadn't pushed her too either. Staci suspected that Bob was releasing his frustrations in that regard with Priss, with Tommy's permission, and a part of her tried not to be jealous about it. Staci reasoned that if she was really jealous then she wanted Bob herself, right? But she didn't...did she? It was something she kept putting out of her head.
Staci blushed under Tommy's gaze and smiled a greeting to Priss who didn't look too happy. Staci wondered if she was worrying about the trip.
"Hi Tom, what's up?" Bob said, getting out of his chair, finally.
Tommy sighed. "I'm not taking Priss tomorrow. I thought I was, but I can't. It's just too dangerous to have her along this time," he said with a deep voice that seemed to echo straight down to Staci's loins. She curled her toes in the carpet.
Priss looked at her Master as if to protest, but she remained silent as if collar-gagged. From the look on her face it was evident the couple had already had this argument anyway.
"To be honest, I was wondering about that," Bob said thoughtfully.
"Yeah," replied Tommy. "I could have programmed her collar with her daily tasks while I was gone, but I don't care to leave her alone. Would you mind if I left her here with you for the duration?"
Bob chuckled, "You have to ask? Of course she's welcome here!"
"Thanks. There's no place I'd rather leave her," he said with a smile. Then he moved over to where Staci stood and lightly tugged on the chain that intimately held her nipples. She immediately began to pant due to their sensitivity and Tommy grinned. "Maybe when I come back you could spend a couple of weeks with us!"
"I...wouldn't survive...a couple of weeks with you...Sir," panted the bound girl.
Tommy and Bob laughed while Tommy moved to his own girl. He removed her cloak, showing that for a change she was nude and not tightly dressed in some exotic outfit, and then took her by the shoulders. "I'm off early tomorrow, so you stay here and behave. You're under Bob's house rules now," he said. "I want a good report from Bob when I come back. Okay?"
Priss nodded, tears in her eyes, and the two of them embraced before Tommy left, taking her cloak with him. This left her just in collar and cuffs, about as bare as a woman got here on Freedom.
She made a move toward the closing front door, as if wanting to give chase to her Master, but then just stood still with her head down.
"Kneel, both of you," Bob said quietly, and the two women obediently complied. "Priss, am I going to have to restrict you?" he asked.
She shook her head, but didn't look at him.
Bob stood still for several moments before moving back to his chair. "Then come kneel with us, and let's finish our movie."
With a glance at each other, the two women moved to kneel on either side of the man of the house, and peace descended once more on the house of McKinly.
At first, Staci was a little apprehensive about Priss staying with them, given their history together so far on Freedom. While it was true that Priss was turning out to be Staci's best friend on the planet, the fact that social events with her and her Master had turned into play sessions, disturbed her. She was only now adjusting to life with Bob McKinly, being his bondage plaything, and she didn't think she was up to a more intense diet of his games now that Priss was living with them.
To a point though, things did go much as she expected them to. Bob did include Priss in their play and often the two women found themselves bound together while Bob sat and watched them struggle. The feeling of being tied skin to skin with Priss upset Staci a lot until Priss told her to just get over it.
"You're making a mountain out of nothing!" Priss said to her after their first session bound together. "So what if he ties us together, he's a Master, he can do that to us if he wants. So what if we're naked when he does it. It's just skin. He's not making us fuck is he? He's not forcing us to go down on each other? You're afraid that our being pressed naked together is going to force some sexual...lesbian thing on us! Well Lady, that's bullshit! I like you, Staci, you're my friend. But I'm not attracted to you, no matter how many times he ties us tit to tit. I'm in love with my Master and he is the only one I yearn to fuck. Everything else is just fun and games, and you'll feel a lot better once you learn to just relax and go with it!"
Staci was a little stunned by her comments, but on giving them some thought she knew that Priss was right. Sure, it was embarrassing feeling Priss' nude body pressed up against hers, yet Staci knew that Bob wasn't placing them in any overtly sexual positions. She remembered how on stage one afternoon at the bar, a man and his two women 'performed' for the lunch trade with a series of dual bondage ties that more often than not had one woman sexually servicing the other.
Staci went gray at the thought of having her face tied to Priss' crotch, but Bob never went there. And as the days went on Staci did begin to relax.
There was another fear of hers that also didn't come to pass. Staci felt that with Priss there, Bob would be using her openly to satisfy his sexual urges but as far as she could tell, that wasn’t happening. Staci found her fears very unsettling and had to admit to herself that she had developed strong feelings for the man.
Despite the weird lifestyle he had been good to her, cared for her, and it was obvious to her that he loved her himself. So Bob not using Priss that way in front of her was a big relief. She even started considering letting Bob take that final step with her, but a part of her was still holding back.
And so the days went on until one morning when instead of going to the beach for their run, Bob dressed both women in shorts and T-Shirts and took them east of town to an open field not far from where the shuttle was parked.
"What's going on, Sir?" Staci asked, padding along beside her owner with her hands bound behind her. Priss, bound exactly the same way, echoed her curiosity.
Bob simply smiled. "No more runs on the beach for a while," he said, "things are now ready here!"
‘Here’ turned out to be a sandy oval track about 500 meters in length, laid out next to the tree line on that side of town. It had been built by Dick Janis for one reason, racing, and it wasn’t cars that were competing.
"Oh my God!" Staci exclaimed when she saw what was going on.
Priss giggled. "Cool! My Master asked Master Janis to build him a cart."
"Maybe it's here," Bob said as he escorted the ladies to the track.
It was already occupied with several couples, the women for the most part standing together and talking, while the men examined several tubular framed pony carts and talked racing. Standing with them, a huge smile on his face, was Dick Janis, and the smile deepened when he saw Bob approaching. "Hey, Pal!" he said.
Bob raised an eyebrow, not realizing that they were 'Pals'. "I see you got the place done finally," Bob said, "Looks good!"
"Thanks. The track is a hard clay base with sand over the top, pretty good for barefoot pony racing. I got your cart too, it's over here!" said Janis, gesturing to where several of the pony carts were parked.
Bob grinned. He had been looking forward to this since he had first seen the cart Janis had for his own women. Then, when Janis had approached the Council with his idea for an actual track and organized pony girl events, Bob had enthusiastically chimed in with his support. Janis had been surprised, Bob thought, but hadn't backed down with his proposal, so the Council voted yes and Janis got to build his track. It had been felt that with all the work the Colony had yet to do, the pony races, once organized, would provide a welcome community distraction. Certainly there were no shortage of volunteers to compete, and even most of the volunteered potential pony girls were enthusiastic about the project. So as the morning went on there was a fairly good turnout for this first look at the future of pony girl racing on Freedom.
As it was, Staci was amazed at what she saw and also a little lost until some of the other women explained what was going on. Then, as women started getting harnessed into their various rigs and their drivers took them for their first spin, Staci's competitive nature kicked in.
"What do you think?" Bob asked her at one point while they watched the first carts getting driven around the wide track.
"I think you're all crazy," she said with a smile. "Wouldn't it make more sense to have you guys pulling the carts and us lighter women driving them?"
Bob chuckled, "Sure, but then that wouldn't be half as pretty would it? Half the fun is in the look of the thing, not just in how fast you can go. Look over there!"
Bob pointed to where Janis was fiddling with his own two pony girls, and Staci saw what Bob meant by the look of the thing. Both women wore an elaborate head dress of feathers on their helmets, and their harness shone in the morning light. The women, harnessed together as always, looked ready to take on everyone as well they probably could.
"I wouldn't doubt that over the coming weeks and months most of the basic harness rigs Janis has been passing out will have either been replaced or customized to make the woman wearing them look a lot better," Bob said. He turned to look at Staci. "I know that I'll be doing the same thing."
Staci tried not to blush as she looked up at him. "You're serious about entering me in these things?"
"What do you think?"
Staci took a deep breath. "I think I know now why you've had me running with my hands cuffed behind me on our morning jogs," she said.
Bob smiled, "Got it in one. We'll wait a little bit, see what the competition is like, and then get you harnessed up for a trial spin. Dick finished my cart and it looks good; I'm anxious to put you in it."
"I bet you are...Sir." Staci said with a soft smile, and the couple stood back as a cart went whizzing by on the track, pulled by a rather energetic-looking young woman with a determined look on her face. Her driver on the other hand, had a big grin on his, and he reached out with a light whip, smacking her behind.
Staci blinked. "Are the whips necessary?" she asked.
"Part of the package. But they're only effective if used correctly." He looked at her. "Trust me. It isn't about whipping a girl as hard as you can to get her to run faster, even though that's probably how Janis likes to train. A pony whip has to be used with finesse; it’s to encourage, not to frighten. Pain won’t drive you faster, not lavish amounts anyway."
"Pain wouldn't work on me at all," Staci said firmly.
"Perhaps...we'll have to see won’t we?"
Staci wasn't looking forward to that, but she was intrigued by the competition aspect of it all. She smiled as she watched one couple plodding around the track, both members obviously out of shape. "You won’t need the whip," she said, "I can take them without it."
Bob smiled a curious smile. "You think so, huh? Come on, let's get you harnessed up and we'll see. Pulling one of these things is harder than it looks."
"Like you'd know," Staci said under her breath as they headed toward the carts.
They had left Priss with some of the other spectators, but Bob waved her over to help him get Staci hooked up. Priss was all smiles. "This is great! I can't wait for Tommy to get home. He's going to be sorry he missed this."
"I'm sure he'll have you in harness soon enough," Bob said with a grin. "In fact, we'll let you have a go in a little bit."
"Oh really Master!? That's cool, thanks!" Priss said with a grin as Bob unlocked her hands. He then undid the lock holding Staci's hands behind her and ordered her to strip.
Staci was a little shocked. Up until this point she had been happy to have something to wear, but to strip right out in the middle of everything seemed a bit much.
"Staci, I didn't have you running naked on the beach just so you could wear clothes on the track. Now come on, get those clothes off!" Bob ordered.
Staci frowned, but did as she was told, pulling off her simple outfit and standing naked. She looked down at herself and blushed, her nipples were hard and her sex was somewhat visible through her sparse pubic hair. She had recently noticed that she’d been thinning out a bit down there, and wondered if there was any connection to the planet. She hoped it wouldn't go much further, but it was a relief not needing to shave her legs as often.
Bob and Priss descended on her with a bunch of leather straps and soon Staci felt somewhat covered again by the network of bands that encircled her body, even though nothing was really covered. The straps between her legs framed her sex rather than covered it, digging deep to each side of her labia and pinching them, actually pushing them forward a little. This meant that her slave chain hung freely from her clit hood, with nothing stopping it from brushing her lips as she moved. Even her breasts were framed and supported rather than covered, with wide straps lifting them and presenting them for all to see. Her hands were bound behind her and attached to a belt around her waist, but other than that she had full range of motion. Still, the leather was new and felt rather stiff, especially between her legs. It wasn't that comfortable.
"Ready?" Bob asked her.
Staci nodded, it was all she could do for she had a large wooden bit in her mouth that was making her drool. So she followed as Bob led her over to a cart, embarrassed at being seen in such a strange get up, her breasts on full view, leather straps cutting deeply between her legs and into her ass. It was humiliating but would have been a lot worse hadn't half the women there been dressed exactly the same way.
Bob backed her between the forks of one of the carts and began to buckle her in. As Staci stood patiently waiting for Bob to get done, Doctor Kelly caught her eye. She was surprised to see him.
He was standing over near Janis and his pony girls and appeared to be having a strong conversation with the man. Janis was trying to take the doctor's arm and lead him away, but Kelly didn't look like he wanted to go. He kept gesturing at the two harnessed women who were oblivious to what was going on next to them, until Janis finally got the doctor walking. Staci watched until they were out of sight.
"Okay, kneel," ordered Bob, and without really thinking about it, Staci dropped to her knees in the dirt. She felt Bob climb into the seat of the cart and looked behind her to check. Bob was a big man and she began to wonder how she was going to handle his bulk.
"Eyes front," said Bob. "There's a whole new set of pony etiquette for you to learn, but for today we'll just get ourselves used to running the cart. Stand, please."
Staci did so and felt the weight at her hips. The two stays were hooked to the wide belt around her waist, and further straps ran from her shoulders back to the cart. A set of reins from her bit also ran back, presumably held by Bob.
She was pleasantly surprised at the balance though. She figured she would be supporting a lot of Bob's weight but the two-wheel cart did most of the work. It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't that bad. In fact, the worst thing about it was that now she was standing her slave chain swung free and she could feel it against her clit. She knew from experience that running with the chain down there was a whole new level of difficulty.
Bob settled himself into the cart and explained a few rein commands. It was clear that the man knew a thing or two about pony girls so Staci listened to what he had to say. When he finally gave her the signal to go she didn't embarrass him. They moved off smoothly and entered the track without a problem.
It took Staci a half hour to figure out just how to lean in order to get the best traction on the sandy track. The cart's wheels were large and the tires wide, so resistance from the sand was minimal, yet adjusting for turns and different jogging speeds took time to learn. At one point, Bob stopped them and got out, taking the time to adjust her shoulder straps and attach some weights to the back of the cart to change the balance. Those adjustments made it a lot better and soon after a few more tweaks Staci was whizzing around the track, impressing all who were still there watching.
At one point, Bob had them stopped on the side of the track closest to the trees, and while Bob messed around with one of the wheels Staci got a bit of a break and watched the other girls on the track, seeing who looked good and who didn't, competition-wise. She could feel however, someone watching her, and she felt unsettled by it, half naked as she was. She looked around but didn't see anyone staring. But then she got the strange idea to look into the forest, and for just a brief moment she thought she saw eyes deep in the trees. She blinked and they were gone, and Staci couldn't be sure she had seen anything. A moment later she was running again.
While Staci took breaks, for she couldn't run all the time, she remained harnessed to the cart while Bob drove Priss who was now attached to Tommy's cart. Priss was not the athlete Staci was, but she did a fair job and seemed a lot more skilled at presenting herself while in harness than Staci did.
"The look is half the contest," Bob told Staci at one point. "Watch some of the other women. See how at a trot that one over there is raising her knees. I know that Jill there has had lots of pony training and will probably win any dressage competitions we may have...at least at the beginning. You keep an eye on her."
So that's what Staci did when she wasn't on the track herself, she watched Bob and Priss and kept an eye on Jill and her driver, noting the woman's style. That was why she saw the whole horrible thing right from the beginning.
Staci was parked on the town side of the track while Bob and Priss had some fun jogging around the turn at the north end. Jill and her driver had stopped much where Staci and Bob had stopped earlier, and Jill's driver had walked halfway across the infield to talk to a couple of other guys, leaving Jill alone. All was fine and everyone was having a good time until this large green/brown blur leapt from the trees and bowled over the harnessed pony girl. She screamed, which pulled everyone's attention, but the scream was choked off by the animal as it savaged her neck. Now that it wasn't moving it could be clearly seen, a huge, cat-like creature with horns and a big mouth; easily equal the size of a man. It had greenish brown fur and looked powerful and nasty.
People immediately started screaming and running which made it look up, its snout red with blood. It howled and began to run at another harnessed girl and driver, and to Staci's horror it turned out to be Bob and Priss.
Priss was in hysterics and was trying to pull away, but Bob jumped off the cart and began waving and shouting, obviously trying to attract the attention of the beast.
"RUN!" he yelled at Priss, who did just that, pulling the cart off the track and heading for the trees where she could hide.
The animal watched her go, and seemed frightened by Bob and his shouting act, as well as at some of the other men who had joined him while their women ran for safety. It crouched back, looking very much like a cat about to pounce, before turning and running back to where Jill lay unmoving on the track. It jumped on her and once more attacked her neck and chest, very visibly tearing flesh off the girl.
The men watched in horror as this happened, only a few of them now still trying to scare the beast away.
"STAND ASIDE!" yelled a voice and the men turned to see Dick Janis with a gauss rifle in his hand. The men moved quickly aside as Janis took aim and fired. The first shot from the magnetically-charged weapon hit the animal in the shoulder, knocking it aside as the needle it fired fragmented like a grenade in its hide. It turned angrily to face its attacker and caught another shot in the head, half blowing it apart. The animal collapsed immediately, dead before it hit the ground, and for a moment no one moved. Then Janis, with Bob following, slowly approached the animal, the gun on it at all times. It was Jill's husband and driver, a man called Carson, who broke the spell by rushing past them to the girl. He was crying out for help and the other men moved to give it to him, but it was obvious that Jill was dead. Her neck was exposed down to the spine, the front of her throat simply gone. With it was one breast, and the crushed ribs underneath were exposed and bloody. She was obviously as dead as the animal that had attacked her.
As people arrived on the scene, Janis walked around to the animal to make absolutely sure that it was dead. He had moved at a dead run to his shop where one of the Colony armories was and had retrieved the weapon he now carried. He was extremely angry that such a thing could happen and his blood boiled.
Bob was also angry, angry and scared, and once he was able he turned to see where Staci was and saw her kneeling on the far side of the track, obviously in shock. He began to move toward her and then remembered that Priss too was still in harness, so he looked over where he had seen her enter the forest. What he saw got him running, for Priss was lying down on the ground, squirming.
"It hurts, it hurts...oh God it hurts!" she was saying as he got there, and for a moment Bob wondered what had happened to her for she hadn't been attacked by anything. Then he realized that in her mad dash for safety she had run right into one of the spiny bushes that were everywhere among the trees, for her body was covered in small punctures. She must have been having a reaction to something on the spines.
"It's okay, Priss. I'll get the Doc. You lie still," he said to her, crouching and quick releasing her from the cart.
"Please, please...it hurts...it hurts bad!" she kept saying, her breathing becoming labored; she had a pleading look on her face.
Bob was worried. He remembered how Staci had reacted when she had her encounter with the wildlife. He wondered if this plant had poisoned Priss in the same way.
"I'll be right back," he said, pulling away. He headed out into the open and started yelling for help and for the doctor.
Kelly, along with a lot of other people, had been heading over to where Jill lay. But word had already passed that there was no hurry and he walked with his head down, already grieving. But Bob McKinly's shouts stirred him and he turned and began running toward the yelling man. Behind him, Anna also began to run and this attracted several other people.
"She ran into a bush," Bob explained, rushing the doctor to where Priss lay. Bob gasped. In just the few seconds he had been gone he could tell there was a difference in Priss. Her body where it had been pricked by the bush was starting to swell a little and she had stopped talking, instead gasping for breath.
Doctor Kelly took one look at her and yelled for someone to get a car to them fast as possible. He knew they needed to get her to the hospital immediately. In the meantime, he and Anna quickly unpacked the bags they had brought with them and Anna got a medi-scanner on one of Priss' arms.
"Get her bondage off!" yelled Kelly angrily and Bob immediately began undoing straps. Kelly didn't wait that long though and began slicing the girl free with a laser scalpel, cutting through the wrist and ankle cuffs all the girls wore while Bob dealt with the pony harness.
He pushed Bob aside and began to work on the girl, giving her injections of a standard anti-toxin and working to help Priss breathe. But the woman was expanding as they watched and she soon arrested as her throat closed up due to swelling.
"HER COLLAR! DAMMIT!" Kelly yelled. "Collar, Priss. Identify me!" he said loudly.
"Voice identified as Dr. Don Kelly," said the device that was now choking its wearer as her throat grew around it.
"Collar. Medical emergency! Release, release, release!"
The collar sprung open and Anna pulled it away. There were a lot of people around them now, including Alan Kent who had finally turned up at the track, but all Bob could see was Kelly and Anna and a third hospital tech, newly arrived with one of the Colony four wheel drives, working on Priss. He dropped to his knees, suddenly weak at the thought that Priss too might not make it. He didn't know what he was going to do, what he was going to say to Tommy Windwalker when the man got back. Priss was under his care, yet he had failed her. He began to think about Staci, still alone on the other side of the track, and as Priss was strapped to a back board and carried to the vehicle, Bob grabbed someone and gave them the keys to free Staci. "Bring her to the hospital, I'm going with Priss," he told the man. Then, without waiting, he jumped into the waiting vehicle and held on as Priss was driven away.
"This isn't fucking good enough," said Dick Janis to the Council the next day.
It was a full Council meeting with spectators, all of whom were shocked at the immediate deaths of two of their own. Jill's death at the teeth of the beast was bad enough, but Priss had gone through three hours of excruciating agony that Doc Kelly couldn't completely suppress before she passed on, her bloated body looking more like the Michelin man than the beautiful young woman that she had been. The sheer horror behind both deaths had stuck the Colony to the heart, and people were walking scared.
Hence the meeting which half the Colonists attended, filling the auditorium behind the bar to capacity. Carson, Jill's owner, wasn't there but at the hospital, under sedation and observation for shock. Bob was there though, sitting with the other Council members.
"Watch your language, please," Alan Kent said, sitting in the middle of the group of Council members while Janis paced up and down in front of them.
"Watch my language? We've just had two people die and you're worried about my LANGUAGE!" Janis yelled, and many of the spectators echoed his disgust.
Kent looked impassive however, a veteran of hundreds of corporate board meetings. "Calm down, Mr. Janis. We can hear you without the swearing."
"Well hear this. Why did those women die? We're supposed to be safe here with all the large animals chased off, yet no one even know that big cat thing even existed! We had no protection and innocent people were killed!"
The crowd murmured their agreements with Janis's statement.
Kent glanced at Bob McKinly who sat at the end of the group of Council Members, Staci kneeling at his side. Bob looked smaller, his eyes in dark shadow, and he also looked angry as if asking the same things Janis was asking.
"And another thing," Janis said loudly, looking at both the assembled Colonists and the Council that was supposed to take care of them, "those fucking bushes. They're everywhere, yet no one told me that you could be killed touching them! They should have been cleared out before something like this happened, and who's responsible? I'll tell you who, that bitch you put in charge of checking out the planet to make sure it didn't poison us! Well she sure fucked up big this time!"
"Lynn Laslo is the most qualified…" Kent began but Janis shouted him down.
"SHE”S QUALIFIED FOR SHIT! No bitch should be in charge of anything here! Aren't we trying to build a society where we men are in charge? Women are submissive to us! Women...serve us! They have no place being in charge of anything important." Again the crowd responded favorably to Janis' speech, but that wasn't unexpected for only the men in the room could talk. The women were all automatically collar-gagged, having no voice here in council matters anyway. Many of them agreed with Janis, even though they couldn't say so, but many others grew nervous as well.
"Lynn has the expertise we needed for the job," said Kent, on the defensive and not liking it.
"Don't give me that expertise crap. I had enough of that on the trip here," Janis replied, looking at Staci and Bob.
Staci ignored him, although she clutched Bob's leg a little tighter. She was dressed in a jumpsuit and unbound for once, although like the other women she was collar-gagged by the room. She too was mourning the loss of her friend though and wasn't in the mood to deal with Janis or his crap. Instead she looked up at Bob who looked like he wasn't even listening to what was going on.
Janis, seeing that he wasn't getting any response from the couple, sneered and moved on. "Why weren't we told that those spiny bushes were poisonous, and what are you going to do about them?" he demanded.
Kent sighed, folding his hands in front of him on the table. He looked up at Janis who was still pacing and said calmly, "We were told."
"We had a report from Lynn and her group shortly after we landed, and it was posted to the Colony net. I believe that the bushes were designated and level two biohazard, but Doctor Kelly can explain it better than I can."
"You're fucking me! No way are those things level two!" Janis said.
Kent looked at where Don Kelly sat, exhausted and morose. "Doctor?" he said.
Kelly stirred, as if pulled by strings, looking around at the mostly hostile crowd who, like Janis, just wanted answers. "The bushes...yes," he said. "The initial report had them listed as a level two biohazard, no more dangerous than nettles. I believe there was a plan to clear them out eventually, but it was low priority."
"Then what happened, Doc? Why did she die?" Janis asked.
Kelly glanced at the pad on his lap, as if afraid of the words on it. "We...tested the spines of the bush, almost immediately after Priss was brought in...I was looking for the source of the poison, trying to isolate an anti-toxin that would...help her. The toxin, more a mix of several different toxins...was off the chart, far in excess of the levels in the preliminary report. Nothing I had prepared was ready for it, and with a toxin that strong you need a proper anti-toxin developed from the toxin itself. If we had had a few more hours to push development...well...maybe." He sighed, and those that could see him saw that he was strongly affected by the death of Priss. "We did what we could, but what we were fighting was something unknown, a set of toxins that among other things caused a serious anaphylactic reaction, just like rattlesnake venom only ten times worse. After entering the bloodstream it basically began eating the cells of her body alive, dumping large amounts of toxins into the body and putting it into shock. Because she had run fully into the bush, wearing no protection at all and getting stung pretty much over her entire front, the toxin spread very rapidly, and necrosis of the flesh began immediately. If she had been hit on just the arm, or just the leg...then maybe we would have been able to save her...but there was just too much damage. But at least now, if it happens again, there will be a chance. Priss' death was a tragedy, but because of it we were able to develop an anti-toxin." He put his hand to his face, not wanting to talk anymore. But Janis wasn't going to let him quit just yet.
"Why, Doc...why were the levels wrong? Why was the bush more poisonous than you were told?"
Kelly shook his head.
"Perhaps," said Kent from his seat, "we should save such questions for Lynn and her team when they get back from their trip. They should be here either late tonight or early in the morning. I called them and told them to head right back."
"Well good for you, Alan. Nice to see that you and the Council can do something!" Janis replied, looking at them. "But it isn't Lynn's team anymore. I doubt anyone here would feel comfortable with a...woman...in charge of anything again." Several men in the crowd verbally agreed, and even one or two of the Council members nodded.
"We'll talk about that when she gets here," Kent said.
"Yeah, at her trial," Janis added, causing a stir among those present.
"There's no need for a trial."
"Sure there is, she fucked up! She was responsible for telling us what was safe and what wasn't and she fucked up! She's as responsible for what happened to that woman as...,"
"Me," said Bob, standing up.
Everyone looked at him.
"Sit down, Bob," said Kent, shaking his head, "you aren't responsible for anything."
"She was my responsibility," Bob replied. "My job was to keep her safe. I’m the one who...fucked up."
"You couldn't have known, Bob, it wasn't your fault," Kent said also standing. He glanced at Staci who was looking up at Bob with concern. "You're beating yourself up over nothing."
"He's right Bob," said Janis, stepping in. "None of this was your fault. If we had known the proper toxic levels of those bushes we could have dealt with them a long time ago. Lynn is the one responsible, not you, Pal."
Bob looked up at Janis, focusing on the man for the first time, "Go fuck yourself, Dick!"
Janis stopped pacing, his face a dark shadow before he relaxed and began to smile again. "I'll call that the grief talking, Bob," he said, before turning to the rest of the Council. "Something has to be done to protect us, someone needs to get organized if you people won’t. Those bushes need to be cleared, the entire peninsula swept for more of those cat things, and protection for the people set up. And those aren't our only problems, this is only the head. We need a police force and a proper set of laws in place. My guys have broken up three fights in the past couple of weeks at the Bar, not to mention that fiasco just last week with Gil Weibert and his farm of funny weed. People need to know that there is law protecting them, guiding them, and that there are people dedicated to enforcing that law. You set up a nice little place here, full of all the creature comforts. But you forgot one thing, Kent, the human animal is basically in it for itself, and doesn't do well in a lawless society. It needs structure to survive, and there isn't a man here that doesn't appreciate the value of structure, how else are we to train our women? Well, the time has come for structure for all of us. Someone has to step up, and I'm nominating myself."
"We've talked about this before, Dick," said Kent, sitting down. "We don't need a Sheriff yet."
"Don't we?" Janis turned to the crowd. "Do you want a Sheriff? Do you want someone who will take care of you when you drink too much at Bob's bar? Do you want someone who will see to it that fights with your neighbors don't get out of hand? Do you want someone to keep the peace, and also keep a look out for things outside our community that could harm us? Do you want law?"
With each question the crowd responded favorably, and at the end they showed their enthusiasm by standing up and applauding. Janis turned back to the Council, arms up in victory, a big smile on his face. "Seems like they want it to me!" he said.
Kent looked down, then in turn at the faces of his Council. Most looked enthusiastic themselves, but Bob alone looked shocked. "We'll have to discuss this further," he said.
"I think it should be decided now!" Janis replied, wanting to keep his momentum going.
"No. It will have to wait. Something this important needs to be discussed."
"What about the woman, Lynn? Is she to stand trial?"
That was the big question, and Kent wasn't sure yet which way to go. "We'll discuss that as well. In the meantime, Dick, you get a crew together and make sure there are no more of those animals out there. You can do that at least, can't you?"
Janis stared at Kent a moment before answering, "Yeah, I can do that."
Kent nodded. "Very well, then the meeting is over. Everyone go home."
People started to file out, and Janis was joined by several men, trailed by their women, as he left the room. The Council members left separately, Kent giving Bob a look of concern as he went by.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
"What the fuck do you think?" Bob answered quietly.
"Bob, shake yourself out of it. You can't blame yourself this way."
Bob said nothing, he just stared at the wall, so Alan Kent turned to Staci who knelt beside him. "Take him home, see he gets some rest. Do what you can for him."
Staci wanted to tell him that she had every intention of doing what she could for Bob, but her collar still gagged her, so she just nodded. She waited until everyone else was gone before getting to her feet. She took hold of Bob's arm and pulled. He looked up at her.
"I'm not looking forward to facing Tommy later. He trusted me," he said.
Staci sighed, and pointed at her collar. Bob got the message and released the gag.
"Bob, listen to me. I hurt just as much as you do. Priss was my friend, the only one I really made here, and her being gone makes me sick to my stomach. But what's worse is seeing what it’s doing to you. I saw the whole thing. I saw that animal attack that girl and how you tried to save Priss by luring it away from her. You did a brave, stupid thing, but it worked and you stopped her from getting savaged. But you aren't to blame for Priss' panicking. She did what any of us would have done and ran for her life. Maybe...maybe if we had known how poisonous those bushes really were, she may have made an effort to avoid them. But I think in her panic she just ran without looking, towing that stupid cart behind her. Priss...died...because of an unfortunate series of events. No one was to blame, no one is at fault. So, that said, it's okay to grieve, but this self-pity is beneath you. Its time for you to be the strong man I'm falling in love with, the dominant you say you are."
Bob blinked. "Did you say you were falling in love with me?"
Staci began to blush, but she knew she had to admit what had been growing within her lately. "Yes," she said quietly. She took his arm again. "Come on, I need some comforting too."
She pulled him to his feet and led him upstairs to their apartment. Inside, she removed her clothes as she had been trained, and then pulled Bob into the bedroom where she did the same for him. A few seconds later they were on the bed, and for the first time ever Bob was being treated to what Staci was like as an active lover. At first he just watched and felt her, but as his defenses wore down and his mind put away the grief for a while, he too became active in their lovemaking and they were soon tumbling around in mutual gymnastics that left both of them breathless. No longer a reluctant lover, she gave as good as she got and both cried out in passion many times before sleep took both of them.
A mutual need for comfort may have triggered the break down of Staci's final defense, but as she lay there drifting off in Bob's arms she had no regrets. For better or for worse they were together, and Staci could admit at last that she wouldn't have it any other way.