Friday, 12 May 2017
Panther Girl of Gor Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Thirteen: Golden Klaw
The second day inside Golden Klaw:
“I love this one!” I was already halfway out of the shower with a white fluffy towel in one hand when I heard the first thwaka-thwaka-thwaka chords of Bowie’s ‘Modern Love’ starting up. I ran, still wet from the shower, across the corridor towards the living room and skidded through just as Bowie was singing the intro refrain:
I know when to go out
And when to stay in
Get things done
I catch a paper boy
But things don't really change
I'm standing in the wind
But I never wave bye-bye
But I try
Rachel was there on one of the sofas with her feet curled under her as she gazed at the tatty vinyl sleeve of the 'Let’s Dance' album in her hands, Other late seventies Bowie albums were scattered on the carpeted floor - 'Young Americans', 'Low', 'Station to Station', 'Scary Monsters', and 'Heroes'. She had been working her way through the albums Bowie had released after she had been taken to Gor. It was all new to her.
I had of course warned her not to bother with the 'Never Let Me Down' album.
Rachel laughed as I launched myself into an enthusiastic, overly dramatic and rather sexy dance routine to the chorus and began to sing along with what I was pleasantly surprised to find was a very tuneful voice. Something else the Kurii science had gifted me it seems.
Walks beside me!
Walks on by me!
Gets me to the Church on Time
(Church on Time)
(Church on Time)
Makes me part-ayyy!
I loved to see Rachel laugh so freely as I went overboard with my interpretive dance routine, overacting every word. I grinned as I saw Rachel put her hand to her mouth in a fit of giggles. I loved her so much now. She was naked of course, in her collar, and she wore earrings and a nose ring. There was no mistaking she was a slave-girl, but here in the communal recreation room of the spaceship, you might be forgiven for thinking it we were back on Earth in the 1980s. Three sofas in pale blue formed a U shape around a heavy wooden coffee table. There was an out of date television set that naturally enough couldn’t receive any television programmes, but there was a collection of dated looking DVDs stacked close to a similar size collection of CDs and perhaps 150 vinyl records, none of which were older than the late 1980s.
I danced seductively over to Rachel and bent slightly to kiss her on the mouth. She returned my kiss, though she looked nervously towards the open door. Brinn was still unaware of things like this, and neither of us wished to prompt a negative reaction from him. As a worst case scenario I had considered the possibility that if Brinn didn’t approve of how close Rachel and I had become, he could always sell one of the two of us to ensure we never saw one another again.
“So, you were quite noisy last night,” I said with an innocent expression on my face.
“Oh.” Rachel suddenly looked crestfallen. “You could hear me?”
“Honey, everyone could hear you as far as Port Kar!” I snuggled up and lay my head on Rachel’s lap as I opened up a carton of pistachio ice cream that lay on the coffee table. The ship had ice cream in an enormous refrigerator! How good was that? “Can’t believe you haven’t opened this bad boy yet.” I stuck a big dessert spoon with a long handle into the tub and scooped up a generous helping of ice cream. “I have sooooo missed ice cream since I came to Gor. Want some?”
Rachel smiled and nodded as she gazed wistfully around the room, so I lifted the spoon and fed her as I lay there listening to the Bowie album. “Maybe we could persuade Brinn to move in here permanently. But anyway, last night…?”
“Here we go again,” sighed Rachel as she suddenly began to tickle me. I squealed, managed to drop my second spoon of ice cream and began slapping her.
“This will lead to a pillow fight you know, and that’s such a male fantasy come true, so we shouldn’t even consider it…”
“What do you want to know about last night then?” sighed Rachel after a while.
“Well, tell me how you felt. I genuinely want to know. You sounded like you were enjoying yourself?”
Rachel had spent the night with Brinn, as he had told her she would, several hours after he had used me. It felt strange, because the Rachel I heard when she was being fucked was very different from the Rachel I had known all these many months as a friend. Rachel was passionate and unrestrained in bed, while at all other times I think she guarded herself and her true feelings very carefully indeed. I think the only time you saw her true self was when she nearing an orgasm.
“I feel ashamed to say this, but it was good.” She motioned for some more ice cream and I quickly obliged.
“Just good?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Very, very good, if you must know, Emma. But I wish I didn’t feel that way. The sex is great and… okay, I can see the way you’re looking at me now – yes, it’s amazing, but I don’t think I can ever forgive Brinn for the way he beat us both.” She flexed her fingers as she said that. “He beat us Emma! With a whip! Our backs are still marked and will be for a week or so. Why aren’t you more angry about it?”
“I am, just…” I shrugged. “This is Gor, it’s the way Goreans are. Nothing is going to change them. It could be a lot worse.”
“A lot worse? That doesn’t excuse the fact that a man on Gor has the right to tie us to a tree and whip us until we say whatever he wants us to say. That’s wrong, Emma. It’s always going to be wrong. And I hate him for it. I really do. And I hate the fact he can fuck me whenever he wants to, and I have to go along with it, but most of all, most of all, I hate the fact that the sex is then so fucking good.”
“I know,” I said softly.
“I hate wanting the sex so much. I just want to be able to hate him without any distractions...” Now Rachel shifted position on the sofa and pulled her knees up under her chin. “I’m going to wear this collar for the rest of my life. I know that now. I’m going to have to kneel before men and call them Master, and you have no idea how difficult that is for me. I feel so angry sometimes because of what’s happened to me, but then, at night when I’m in the furs and he’s doing all those things to me, I forget all of it, all of it, and I’m suddenly just another mewling whimpering slave-girl, begging him not to stop. And then the next day I feel disgusted with myself for being like that.”
“It gets easier…” I placed my hand on her arm. “It’s still so new for you.”
“But I don’t want it to get easier! That’s what frightens me. I don’t want become the Rachel that one day loses the hatred for the beatings and the misogyny. I’m scared that one day I might become like…” Rachel suddenly stopped before she said any more.
“Like me, you mean? Become like me?”
“I didn’t mean it that way.”
“It’s okay, I have changed. It’s not so hard for me any more. Sometimes… sometimes I can barely remember what it was like to be free.” I curled up next to her again, the pot of ice cream all but forgotten now. “The sexual side of slavery has taken over so much. I live for those nights now when Brinn uses me, and… God help me, but sometimes when he doesn’t use me, I long for him to at least give me to someone else.”
“Slut,” said Rachel, softly, but not with any real criticism.
“I suppose so. I used to hate girls like me. We used to ridicule them, didn’t we? All those sluts in their collars, so eager for a man’s touch. And now I’m one of them. The first time you saw me like that you were so angry.”
“I was,” said Rachel, remembering it only too well. “I wanted my friend back. I didn’t want you to be a slave-girl. I knew that a Free Woman could never truly be friends with a slave-girl, the way we were both friends when you were free.”
“And then you became a slave-girl too, and that made things easier,” I said with a smile.
“I guess it did. I can hardly be all aloof and critical of you after I’ve lain in the furs squealing and whimpering with pleasure too.”
“No, that you can’t,” I said with a smile. “I’m actually… and please don’t take this the wrong way, Rachel, but I’m actually kind of pleased you’re a slave too. I think I would have lost you had you remained free.”
“Wow. My best friend and secret lover would keep me in a collar.”
“I would!” I said with a laugh. “So long as I was in one too.”
“Could still buy you if I was free. I could use someone to clean my house.” She tickled me again suddenly without warning.
“Brinn would never – stop that - Brinn would never sell me!”
We held each there for a while and I think we both knew that our moments together were drawing to an end, but neither of us wanted to voice the fact. Either we were going to die in Brinn’s war with the Kurii, or Rachel was going to try to buy me an attempt to reach Skaffel Peak with her life if necessary. I had promised her I would take that chance when it came, but I still wasn’t sure I could actually follow through on my promise and leave her behind on Gor.
“Rachel…” I pressed my face close to her neck and closed my eyes. “What will happen to you if I escape Gor?”
“Assuming Brinn doesn’t kill me for helping you, and to be honest I can’t rule that out - he’s going to be furious after all - he’ll either sell me or… no, I think the best I can hope for is he’ll sell me. I don’t think he’ll keep me if I help you get to Skaffel Peak.”
“You have no idea what that means, Rachel.” I clung to her, so frightened for her unknown fate.
“So I’ll be sold on an auction block.” She shrugged. “I’ll just have a different Master.”
“It could be anyone!” I thought back to Rashid, to whom Seremides had sold me. The time I spent in his collar was a nightmare. I couldn’t bear the thought of Rachel enduring such a life. “Some Masters are better than others.”
“Brinn has already viciously beaten me, and just for freeing him from a Panther Girl tribe. How much worse can the next Master be?”
“I would carry a nightmare level of guilt with me for the rest of my life if I left you behind.”
“You promised me, Emma. If you don’t go through with this and take the chance when I hand it to you, then I honestly have nothing more to live for. Promise me you’ll go to Skaffel Peak and I promise I will remain alive. I mean it.”
I sobbed some more. And I felt Rachel’s hands stroking my hair, holding me to her.
“Hush.” She kissed me on the forehead and I felt terrible, for deep down I knew what I was going to have to do when the time came.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you,” said Simon as he shuffled awkwardly in the doorway. Instantly we both dropped off the sofa and quickly knelt as pleasure slaves with our thighs parted, and our backs straight, gazing up at him with smiles on our faces.
“Is there something we can do for you, Master?” I said in my lightest and most pleasing voice. Both Rachel and I were naked and it was secretly amusing to see how flustered this young man seemed to be in our presence.
“Um, you don’t really have to call me Master, you know…” he laughed nervously, but it was obvious how he kept sneaking glances at our breasts and our thighs, all the while trying desperately to appear to be looking at us with respect and kindness.
“We’re supposed to address Free Men as Masters, Master,” I said, enjoying Simon’s total bewilderment. He had obviously never spent any time with Gorean slaves since he had come to Gor. He was in every sense a typical young man of Earth, conditioned by the social norms of Western society when it came to women. It had been a long time since I had seen such a thing.
“This is all a bit…” he was searching for the right words, “I mean, I’m not really used to women being owned and…” he looked again at the steel collar on our throats. “You can’t remove those, can you?”
“Certainly not, Master. Even if we could, we wouldn’t dare do so. We would be severely punished.” I followed the flicker of his eyes and I could see he was gazing at our kef brands now. He obviously desired us, but he was conditioned to fear such desires by the norms of the society he grew up in.
“You belong to that violent man? Brinn? The one with the sword?”
“We do,” I said brightly. “He owns us all. Can we be of service to you, Master? You need only command us.”
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to… I mean, I wouldn’t treat you like that… this is inhuman, the way you’ve been enslaved. The things you must be forced to endure. I can hardly imagine... I’m on your side, I just want you to know that.”
I could see a slight trace of a smile curling on Rachel’s lips, so I nudged her subtly to remind her to behave. Simon was sweet and meant well, and we shouldn’t tease him about it.
“Thank you, Master. That is very kind of you.”
“You, um, you don’t really have to kneel. Not in front of me.” He glanced back down the corridor but could see no sign of Brinn. “I mean, I expect you have to kneel before that barbarian, but I’m not like him. I wouldn’t treat you that way.”
“Master is so kind to us.” I had to nudge Rachel again because she really was threatening to giggle.
“Look, I was just going to make some coffee. Would you…. I mean, I could make you some too if you’re allowed to drink it?” He glanced back again, but still there was no sign of Brinn. “We have some biscuits too. Chocolate ones. I could get you some.”
“That would be lovely, Master. I haven’t had coffee since I came to Gor.”
“Biscuits would be lovely too, Master,” added Rachel.
Simon smiled, apparently very pleased that he could do something to earn our gratitude. I watched as he hurried away to make us both coffee. He seemed happy to be able to do these small things for us, and no wonder, because we were probably all his fantasies come true, and incapable as he was of simply taking us for his pleasure, he felt obliged to try and win our favour and friendship and maybe more by acts of kindness.
“I think he wants you,” said Rachel with a smug smile.
“I think he wants you too,” I said back to her, and then we both giggled, hoping he couldn't hear us. “He so desperately wants to have sex with us,” I said as I touched Rachel’s thigh with my right hand. “I actually feel a bit sorry for him.”
“Do you fancy him?” asked Rachel. “He’s not bad looking, in a very androgynous way.”
“I don’t, actually.” I considered the question carefully. “I mean, obviously I’d have to please him if he commanded me to, but I’m not really attracted to him…”
Rachel nodded. “He doesn’t trigger your slave reflexes. It’s because he’s not dominant. You’re turned on by strong uncompromising men, like Brinn.”
“I suppose.” Rachel was right of course. I thought Simon was sweet enough, but I wouldn’t relish being in his collar. He’d be unbearably nice to me and would probably keep apologising all the while as he had sex with me. “What about you?” I asked Rachel. “Anything there?”
“No.” Rachel shook her head in agreement with me. “Like you say, he’s too nice. Too polite. I’ve been on Gor too long I suppose. On the one hand I hate the way Gorean men are, but on the other hand I admit I find them sexually exciting.”
“Slave-girl,” I said with a wicked smile.
“It’s more complicated than that with me,” said Rachel. “I have very conflicting emotions about a lot of things. It makes my life a lot more complicated than it must be for you.”
“Well, you’re still very new to your collar. It will change you.”
“Like I said before, that’s what I’m most scared of.” Rachel gazed round the room, taking in the spot lamps in the corner, the books on a half size book case and the dirty wine glasses on the coffee table. “It’s strange, isn’t it. We could almost be back home on Earth. I think Simon would free us if he could.”
“Oh yes, I have no doubt he would. He offered me some of his clothes to wear earlier this morning. A pair of jeans and a t-shirt and a hooded sweat shirt. I told him my Master chooses how I’m dressed. I don’t think he can get his mind around the idea that as a man on Gor he could dominate every aspect of our lives. Or rather the lives of girls like us, if he so wished.”
The first day inside Golden Klaw:
Simon’s shock reaction as we appeared through the doorway from the entrance tunnel that spanned the length of the lake lasted about as long as ours did. Brinn had been expecting to find several Gorean warriors in their signature red tunics, for after all this was a Kurii stronghold, so when he saw a weedy little Indie boy surrounded by his plastic superhero figurines, Brinn hesitated for several precious seconds. Which is just as well because if he’d attacked Simon the way he had planned to attack the hypothetical Kurii warriors, Simon would have been dead on the floor several seconds later, and the Sardar mountains would now in all likelihood be a radioactive hell hole. But instead Brinn stumbled to a halt and fixed his eyes on a man who didn’t seem much stronger than an average slave-girl.
Only Simon wasn’t quite as useless in a stress situation as Brinn might have thought. With all thoughts of karaoke gone from his head, Simon sprinted the three or four feet to the desktop to his right where the 9mm automatic pistol and clips of ammunition lay. I had enough time to register this and scream a warning to everyone as Simon scooped up both the gun and a clip and inserted the clip into the handle. Brinn recognised only too well what the weapon was from my own demonstration against Seremides and he was about a third of the way across the room, sword in hand, as Simon chambered the first round, turned and pointed the weapon in our direction.
A single shot was all it would take to draw down the wrath of the Priest Kings, and this time we were in a confined space and well within the ground zero area. I could tell Brinn wouldn’t make it in time, but surely Simon wouldn’t actually pull the trigger? Surely he understood what would happen if he discharged a firearm on Gor?
There were several deafening bangs in this confined space that made my ears ring as Simon fired and I saw or rather heard Brinn grunt as he dived for cover. It was enough to spoil Brinn’s attack and his sword smashed down on a computer terminal, causing the screen to blow up spectacularly as Simon also screamed and dived to the side. Brinn was reeling from the noise which he wasn't accustomed to, and the reek of gunpowder and the awful realisation that anything he did now was pointless as we would all be dead in just a couple of seconds from a Priest King flame strike. I think he turned round to voice some last words to me, and as he did so Simon vaulted over one of the tables strewn with coffee mugs, plates and the remains of various microwave meals.
The seconds ticked by and we realised with a sense of euphoria that there was no flame strike, no sudden death - we were still alive.
“Don’t shoot!” screamed Rachel as she raised her hands quickly, facing Simon. The young man looked terrified. His hands were shaking as he kept the pistol trained on us as a group. Brinn crouched low, still holding his sword, unsure whether to risk another attack.
“Don’t fire!” screamed Rachel again. “Code Nine, five, five, seven, nine!” She turned her hands palms facing Simon as she repeated the identification code again.
“Who… who are you?” said the young man as he looked close to peeing himself in terror. Whatever his role here it wasn’t a combat one, and he looked very much out of his depth.
“My operational name is Jacinta. We're on the same side. We’re not the enemy. Please lower the gun. We’re not the enemy.”
I could see from his expression that the recognition code meant something to Simon, but even so, he was wary of lowering the gun while he had it.
“How did you get in? What are you doing here? This base is on complete lock down.” He waved the gun at Brinn since he seemed to pose the most serious threat. Brinn quickly ducked back down under cover.
“We came through the hatch on the shore of the lake,” explained Rachel. “I have the access code for the airlock. I work for Kurgus. It’s all right, you don’t have anything to worry about. We’re not with the rebel Kur faction.” Rachel remained where she was, not daring to provoke a reaction by moving any closer towards Simon. “Please just lower the gun. We’re not the enemy.”
Simon was unsure what to do, but as Rachel calmly and professionally talked him down into a calm space, I noticed he began to lower the pistol. For myself, I was still astonished that we hadn't been incinerated by the Flame Death, and to this day I still do not fully know the reason why. I can only assume now, as I did back then, that the interior of the ship was screened from whatever planet wide detection systems the Priest Kings possessed. Either that or the depth of the lake somehow interfered with their omnipresent monitoring of the planet's surface. Whatever the reason, Simon had fired off several shots, missed each time, and his actions had not doomed us all.
“Everything is going to be okay,” said Rachel again, and as her calm soothing voice did its work, I noticed Erin inch cautiously towards the young man, seeming somehow to move without visibly moving.
“Why didn't anyone contact me?” said Simon. “Someone should have sent a signal.”
“There wasn't time,” said Rachel. “There was a battle and we had to fall back here. Everything is going to be okay. I'm Rachel Evans. What's your name?”
“Simon. Simon Rogers. You're from Earth?” He stared at Rachel's nudity, and the collar around her throat.
“I am, yes, from England, like I assume you are by your accent? Stay calm, Simon. We can explain everything. Just don't do anything rash with that gun.”
And then Erin sprang suddenly, punched Simon in the solar plexus and raised his gun hand into the air where it fired twice into the ceiling. As Simon doubled up in pain, she twisted his gun hand back, painfully, until the weapon clattered to the deck.
Simon was screaming from the way his arm was now twisted back as Brinn ran forward, grabbed hold of the young man and threw him on to a couch. In a flash, Brinn had a knife to the young man's throat. Now Brinn began to fire off questions at Simon as we urged him to go easy.
“He's not a warrior,” I said to Brinn. “He's terrified of you!”
“Who else is in this ship?” Snarled Brinn. “Quickly now!”
“There is no one else, only me! We’ve been on lock down for over a month. No one comes in and no one goes out. Sally was evacuated when we went into lock down and…”
“Who is Sally?” snapped Brinn.
“My colleague. We operated the computer systems together! This is a monitoring station, nothing more! We just process data! Please, I’m not military…” Simon couldn’t press himself any further back onto the upholstery of the couch as Brinn kept his knife fixed to the young man’s throat.
“I can see you’re obviously not military! You’re from Earth? An Earth man? But you speak Gorean?”
“Yes! From Basingstoke. Sally was from Los Angeles. We just work the computers, that’s all.” Brinn of course had only an abstract and almost supernatural knowledge of what a computer was. He was aware they existed, but what they could do, or what he had heard they could do must have seemed like magic to him. Many Goreans do believe in the basic concept of magic, though I was disappointed to learn that Brinn was actually that superstitious too.
“If you’ve lied to me and I find there are other men in this ship…”
“I haven’t lied to you! Please…”
“I think he’s telling the truth,” said Rachel. “Trust me, I’m good when it comes to spotting a liar.”
“I expect you are,” said Brinn with a nod as he relaxed his grip on Simon’s T-shirt and moved the blade from his throat. “How long have you been on Gor, Simon?”
“Eight weeks here. Just over eight weeks. Four weeks before in the countryside having language lessons from a machine. But no one told me I was going to be working on an alien planet! I thought I’d be in a remote research station in the Arctic or something...”
“You are in a remote research station,” said Brinn. “There isn’t a settlement of note for seventy pasangs.” Now he sheathed his blade, sensing that Simon wasn’t any form of a threat, and indeed could be useful. “You can operate these machines?”
“Yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing. With Sally gone some of them are in safety mode now, but the essential stuff is still ticking along. I'm here to maintain everything during lock down.”
“I want you to connect me by your communication systems to the Sardar Mountains. Do that and you have my word that not only will I spare your life but you will be treated honourably and given a lot of money.”
“I can do that. Not a problem.” Simon just about scrambled to his feet without knocking anything over. “I can patch you through on the computer system. What’s your frequency?”
Brinn looked at him blankly. “I wish to speak to the Priest Kings in the Sardar.”
“Oh-kayyy, but I need to know the frequency…”
“I don’t know what that is. Just contact them.”
“Master,” I said quickly, as I could see Erin rolling her eyes and muttering ‘he hasn’t actually got a radio frequency, has he…?’ “it’s like an address. If you wanted a scroll delivered to a house in Corcyrus you would have to give the address to the messenger otherwise he wouldn’t know where to go.”
“Can’t the machines do that?”
“Um, no…” I winced. I suddenly realised that there wasn’t going to be any urgent message summoning help by the looks of it. We wouldn't have cavalry riding over the horizon to our rescue. “When you talked about contacting the Sardar, well, we all assumed you had a frequency for us to use?”
“I told you I don’t know what that means,” snapped Brinn again. “I normally just tell a man in a Priest King safe house to send a message and he sends it.”
“That’s because he has the frequency,” said Simon, trying to be helpful without getting himself punched in the face.
“I want some paga,” said Brinn, changing the subject abruptly. “My best ideas come to me when I have paga.”
“Fucking great,” whispered Erin until I urged her to shut up with a ‘look’.
“I’m really trying to help, honestly I am,” said Simon as he quivered in front of Brinn and pressed himself against the far wall. “But I need something to go on.”
And yes, with Miss Elizabeth Bentley close to launching Tarn Strike from deep inside the Northern Forest, Brinn actually went in search of paga as the first step in formulating a plan.
“I can’t believe he doesn’t have a radio frequency…” said Erin when Brinn had left the room.
“It’s magic to him, more or less,” I said.
And so that’s exactly what Brinn did. He drank paga – three cups of it, and paga of course turned his mind to sex, which this time round meant me.
“Do you have a bed in this ship, Simon?” asked Brinn when he returned with a bottle of Glenlivet whisky in one hand.
Three of the rooms had beds and Brinn took over the biggest one which until now Simon had been using. I had anticipated that I might be used and so I had hidden the ring of red metal in amongst the medical supplies in my shoulder bag earlier in the day. I had slit the packaging of one of the medical dressings and pushed the ring in amongst the sterile bandage cloth. So when Brinn ordered me to climb onto the bed, there was no chance of him finding the ring either in my slave tunic or indeed secreted inside my sex.
“I want you to resist me, Emma.” Oh? Well, this was new, I thought. He had never said that to me before. I suddenly felt very aroused at the thought of playfully trying to fight off his advances. With a shake of my head in a very haughty manner, I stepped up off the bed and regarded him coldly. He nodded for me to continue as I was and so I dared to do this.
“How dare you command me to the bed! I am not some Gorean slut that you can simply Master according to your tastes.” I prowled around him, still clad in my slave tunic, acting the haughty Free Woman of Gor as I had once been. “And I am furious with you. Look how you have dressed me! This is a slave tunic! You dare to treat me like this?” I stood there now looking imperious and I could see he was getting very aroused indeed. I was stirring all his dominant juices in a very challenging manner.
“I want you, Emma.” Brinn reached for my tunic hem and I quickly slapped his hand away.
“You dare!” he hissed in a voice that was enough to make me suddenly fear I had gone too far, but a quick nod from him encouraged me that all this and more was now permitted.
“Yes I dare! Do not touch me! I forbid it, you filthy barbarian!”
Brinn was now breathing very heavily indeed as I turned my back on him and said, “You are not welcome in my chambers. Go to some cheap paga tavern if that is what you seek. I am not for the likes of you.”
And then he was upon me, tearing, literally tearing my slave tunic apart, throwing me hard on to the bed and forcing my wrists down above my head. I hissed at him, struggled, snapped with my teeth, and my God, he was harder than I had ever felt him before. He tied and bound my wrists to the headboard and pushed my legs apart. I cried out all manner of things, warning him not to touch me, then begging him not to touch me, and then - and this didn’t take any role-play at all - began quivering with excitement as he quickly entered me. The sex was rougher than usual, but in a good way. I think that in the face of all the recent examples of female empowerment, Brinn wanted to reassure his own male ego by demonstrating that he was the one who could master a girl. And master me he did.
It was also perhaps a reminder meant to show me that I could not practically resist him if I ever tried to do so for real. After we had finished he untied me and allowed me to curl up next to him.
“Emma, I have had some time to reflect on my recent actions and… it isn’t easy for me to admit this, but it’s important I tell you… I regret what I did earlier today.”
I gazed at my Master in amazement. “You mean that? You really mean that?”
Brinn nodded and looked torn with regret. This was a stunning turn about for the books. He had tied Rachel and myself to a fallen tree and had beaten us brutally until we had been raw with pain. It had been a stupid, spiteful, sadistic, immature thing to do, born out of frustration and feelings of personal failure no doubt. Rachel had sworn never to forget what he had done to her after she had saved his life. Neither of us had ever expected Brinn to regret his actions, but now it seemed he was beginning to. I held him and kissed him suddenly.
“Thank you. Thank you, Master, that means a lot to me.”
“It does?” He looked happy that I thought so.
“I’ll be honest with you, I was angry, and Rachel even more so. You need to tell her too. We did what we did for the good of us all. Seremides would have killed us if I hadn’t used the gun. I know I should have told you that I had found it but I was scared that you would have taken it from me and thrown it into a river or lake. I knew we might need it and… I wasn’t trying to challenge your authority – that wasn’t what I was doing. I was scared that we were heading to our deaths, vastly outnumbered and poorly provisioned. I knew the gun might make the difference if my guess about how the Priest Kings dealt with…”
“Emma,” Brinn interrupted me suddenly. “What are you talking about?”
“When you whipped us, Master? I wanted you to know I appreciate you’re principled enough to realise when you made a mistake.”
“You do say some stupid things sometimes, Emma.” Brinn laughed. “I was talking about how I now regret allowing Tallia to take Kurgus into the forest. I shouldn’t have allowed that to happen. Regardless of my enmity towards him, no man should permit his enemy to fall into the hands of Panther Girls. It is simply not right.”
“What?!” I stiffened and moved my arms from his body. “That’s what you regret doing?”
“Not the fact that you whipped Rachel and me?”
“Why should I regret that?” Brinn looked genuinely puzzled. “It was for your own good. Surely you understand that?”
“Oh!!!” I writhed in suppressed fury beneath his muscular body. “I really can’t believe you sometimes!”
“Do not go into one of your moods again, Emma. You are to be pleasing while you are in my furs.”
Pleasing! I always had to be pleasing! Never mind how I actually felt at any given time, when my Master clicked his fingers I had to put aside my true feelings and smile sweetly, and be pleasing. That was the life of a slave-girl on Gor. The Master could be as moody and stroppy as he liked, but slave-girls had to be permanently pleasing.
“I don’t understand any of this. You hate Kurgus! You said so! He killed my father. You were going to kill him, deprive him of the chance of dying with a sword in his hand, and then you were going to chop his body up and leave it for the forest sleen to eat. But now you say you regret standing by while Tallia made him a slave?”
“Yes. A brutal death is one thing, but I should not have permitted a warrior to be enslaved by women. Even Kurgus did not deserve that.”
“Unbelievable! You are such a hypocrite!”
“I do not know what that means.”
“Of course you don’t.” I had had to use the Earth word, for the Gorean vocabulary doesn’t have the concept of hypocrisy, which by the way speaks volumes in itself about the men of Gor.
“This troubles me, Emma. I feel it is a blot on my honour to have left Kurgus to such a fate.”
“You…” I was speechless now. “Blot on your honour?!”
“I should do something about it. I will do something about it. No man should suffer such an indignity. It is not justice.”
“I’m beyond words. Really I am.” I lay there and felt like I should just give up. Brinn could shoot surrendering men of his own caste in the chest with a bow and think nothing of it, but to let a man then be the slave of a woman… oh no, that was against the proper order of things.
“After I have dealt with the threat of the Atomics, and after I deliver you to my home in the Sardar, I will set out to right this wrong. I do not like the idea of Kurgus being the slave of a Panther Girl. Enemy he may be, but Kurgus deserves a chance at death at my hand instead.”
“Oh, how wonderful for him. He’ll be so grateful!”
“I think he will. I know I would be.” Brinn had made his mind up. “I will kennel the three of you at my house in the Sardar and….”
“Kennel me?!” I was suddenly close to thumping him in the chest.
“The kennels are quite warm and comfortable, Emma. There is nothing to worry about. I have men there loyal to me. They will ensure you are all fed, watered and exercised until my return.”
I began struggling, furiously for real now and Brinn laughed, seeing my rage. “You are incredibly sexy when you try and resist me for real, Emma.”
“I'm not trying to be sexy now!” I shouted at him.
“And that is what makes it so sexy.” He quickly turned me on to my stomach and, feeling aroused once again, entered me as I continued to broil with rage. “You will be First Girl of course, though do not take the position for granted. Once Rachel has been fully trained, I suspect she will come close to equalling you, and you will be expected to strive hard to remain ahead of her in my coffle.”
The second day inside Golden Klaw:
Sometime after Simon had made Rachel and myself some coffee and biscuits, Brinn began to take a liking to Simon. I think he saw the young man as someone who had been led astray by the barbaric practices of Earth and now that he found himself on Gor, he felt Simon needed an education in how a man should properly conduct himself. Much to Simon's dismay, Brinn began offering him whisky, asking him questions, and offering what he no doubt considered to be sage advice on manly issues. And all the while we sat here deep beneath the waters of Lake Siljan, still lacking a plan to save the Priest Kings. I could see Rachel in particular growing more and more exasperated with this lack of initiative.
“This is good,” said Brinn as he finished his glass of whisky in a single swallow as he sat in the communal living area of the Kurii drop ship. “It's not paga, but it's very good.” He eyed the bottle of Glenlivet and that was enough for me to smile and pour him another glass. “I've heard some very bad things about Earth, Simon, so I'm pleased to see the planet produces something of value – something in addition to its women of course.” Brinn glanced at the three of us as we knelt in our steel collars around the room. “Your women make exceptional slaves.”
“I wouldn't know,” said Simon as he tried not to look at Erin, Rachel or myself. Unlike Brinn he was sipping his whisky.
“You're drinking from that glass as if it's about to bite you!”
“I'm not really a heavy drinker,” explained Simon. “Just a few beers on a Saturday night.”
“Is that due to scarcity?” enquired Brinn. “I assume there must be shortages of food in your city. Your home on Earth is prone to terrible famines, yes?”
Simon looked up, surprised. “No, food's readily available. Anything you might want. Lots of it. We have supermarkets.”
“But you're so thin and weak looking?” Brinn was almost concerned. “I assumed some pestilence has recently thinned out your crops and livestock? A shortage of red meat perhaps to account for your lack of muscles?”
“Oh, I don't eat red meat. I'm a vegan.”
“A vegan? I have no idea what that is.”
“Vegans don't eat meat or in fact any by product of an animal, such as milk, cheese or...” Simon paused as he suddenly saw Brinn choke on his whisky.
“You don't eat meat?!” This of course was unheard of on Gor. It was a bit like a man telling Brinn he didn't particularly like sex. It just didn't make sense.
“No, I oppose cruelty to animals, and modern farming methods are...”
“But the animals are already dead when you eat them! They're not suffering!”
“Uh...” Simon seemed to stare somewhat aghast. “I don't think you quite get what I'm saying...”
“No meat?! No wonder you have such a malnourished body! I've never seen such a weak looking man! Your upper arms are no more developed than Emma's! I don't think you could even lift my shield above your head! But do not fear, Simon, there's still hope for you now that you're on Gor.” Brinn knocked back another whisky and held the empty glass out to me for another refill. “It's not your fault, I suppose. You've been indoctrinated by the sick culture of your barbarian society. We can do something about that. Take off your clothes. Let me see what we have to work with.”
“What?” Now it was Simon's turn to almost choke on his whisky.
“Your clothes, Simon. Take them off. I want to see if you have any muscle mass at all under those unusual garments.”
“Uh, I'm not really comfortable with...” Simon gazed at Rachel, Erin and myself as we smiled sweetly at him.
“They're only slave-girls,” said Brinn. “Don't tell me the men of Earth are afraid of undressing before a slave-girl? Surely you don't have sex with slave girls on Earth while fully clothed?”
“Well, no, but, it's just that, there's you too... and it's just that, we don't really do that sort of thing in polite company...”
“If it'll make you feel any more comfortable,” Brinn rose up from where he sat and quickly stripped off his red tunic to display an impressive physique of ripped abs, sculpted torso, rippling muscle, iron bronzed thighs and what I can only describe as a well above average size cock. “There, now I'm naked too. See, there's nothing wrong with this! Men on Gor often strip off together in paga taverns when they wish to enjoy the paga slaves. And men are naked together in the communal bath houses, when again we enjoy the attentions of the bath slaves! Come, show me what we need to do with your malnourished Earth body.”
Poor Simon looked mortified. There was Brinn, standing like some Greek adonis without a care in the world, and not surprising when he had a body like that to show off.
“I really can't...”
“Erin, Emma, help him undress,” said Brinn casually as he helped himself to some more whisky. “This is for your own good, boy.”
“Oh yes, Master,” I said with a delighted grin. Poor Simon practically squealed as we descended on him and began to assist in removing his T-shirt and jeans. There were some futile protests from him, but really, when you have two luscious slave-girls setting about undressing you, with their hands straying all over your body, your mind rapidly turns to other things than protesting, as was obvious when I slid his jeans and underpants down his legs.
“Well at least you like women, Simon,” said Brinn as he regarded the man's rising erection while we touched him. “There's some hope for you at least.”
“I'm so sorry,” said Simon to me as he blushed red at the rising evidence of what my hands were so expertly doing to him.
“It's all right, Master,” I said with a smile. “I'd be worried if I wasn't able to get this reaction from you.” I stroked just under the head of his penis, touching a very sensitive spot and watched as it jerked stiffly up right. The look of pleasurable alarm in his face was delicious.
Erin bundled up his clothes and placed them on the table as the poor guy squirmed where he stood. He had an average size cock, but of course compared to Brinn he was going to feel inadequate, especially with Brinn's overwhelming sexual confidence permanently on show.
“You need to eat some meat,” said Brinn as he gazed at Simon's boyish physique. “Spend a few months at my home in the Sardar and I'll put muscles on your chest, back, arms and thighs by the time you leave.” He raised his glass of whisky and added, “and you'll be fucking some of the most beautiful women on Gor every night. How does that sound?” Brinn snapped his fingers and Rachel curled up beside him. She gazed at us with an expression that was as enigmatic as ever as Brinn set about warming her with his hands. From the way she suddenly sighed and trembled, I could tell the effect Brin's hands were having on her.
“Women are wonderful, Simon. One of the great pleasures of life. You have so much to look forward to on Gor.” He rolled Rachel on to her back without warning and began to arouse her quite openly in front of Simon. Now Simon's face was visibly in shock as he couldn't help but watch Rachel responding to Brinn's caresses.
“He's not going to actually...”
I nodded. “I think he is, Master.” And indeed, Brinn did penetrate Rachel after a couple of minutes of exquisite foreplay, oblivious to whoever might be watching. It was nothing Erin and myself hadn't seen many times over during our periods of slavery, but Simon had probably only ever seen this sort of thing before in porn and in his fevered fantasies. He watched as Brinn took hold of Rachel's wrists and held them tightly, helplessly above her head as he proceeded to fuck her. He saw Rachel writhe in pleasure on the floor, toes flexing in response to each thrust. He heard her passionate cries and the rather more primal grunts of pleasure from Brinn as they both coupled like dominant and submissive animals. I was more interested in watching Simon's reaction, for in many ways he reminded me of what I would have been like had I gone to Gor as a free man. I think I would have been embarrassed yet also turned on, and ashamed of feeling that way, if I had encountered the blatant sexuality of Gor in such a manner.
Erin played with Simon's cock with her hands as she watched Brinn and Rachel. Simon made no attempt to stop her or even protest. He grew more and more excited of course, breathing heavily and swallowing as Erin teased him close to a climax, but stopped before he got there, for she knew what she was doing and was apparently as experienced from her training in Banu Hashim as I was. By the time Erin paused from what she was doing, Simon was ready to melt onto the floor.
I think Brinn must have sensed this because he paused in his taking of Rachel to look round and grin at Simon's face. “Which one do you like most, Simon?”
“Um...” Simon swallowed hard. “I really don't think...”
“Emma or Erin? They're both beautiful. But which one do you prefer?” Now he spoke to us. “Display positions.” And we both promptly and smartly posed ourselves before this hapless man of Earth, and we posed as the enticing, and deeply sensual slave-girls we had been trained to be.
“You can have one of them now,” said Brinn. “Choose.”
“I... this is...” Simon was like a deer caught in the headlights of a car, desperately torn between wanting sex with one or both of us, and the moral constraints of his political correctness and concern for our well being.
“Emma or Erin?”
“I...” he gazed now at me with such a guilty expression, as if he really hated himself for saying this. “I've always really had a thing about blondes, but...”
“Good. Emma, fuck him.” Brinn turned his attention back to Rachel who was now gazing up at him, eyes wide, close to orgasm.
I didn't particularly want Simon, and I guessed he was probably quite inexperienced when it came to sexually pleasing a woman, but I was a pleasure slave, and this was what I was supposed to do, whether I wanted to or not. I took hold of his hand and kissed him in a way that made his penis quiver, and then to save his further embarrassment I said to him, “we can go to a private room if that is easier for you, Master? We don't have to do this here.”
Simon nodded, much preferring the thought of fucking me where Brinn wouldn't be watching. And then he added, “You don't have to call me Master you know. I'm not like the men of Gor.”
Tell me about it, I thought to myself. “But I think deep down you probably love the thought of a slave-girl calling you Master, yes?” I smiled at him, and from the way he blushed I could see the answer. “Most men of Earth secretly would. It's okay. It's normal for me now, Master.”
“Oh Emma, I'm so sorry you have to do this for me.” He suddenly started kissing me, frantically, and clumsily, and I tried not to laugh at how inept he was. I could sense Erin was rolling her eyes in disbelief from where she stood, posing still in position. I shot her a warning glance with my eyes while Simon couldn't see her. And then I led Simon by the hand into one of the adjoining bedrooms. The overhead strip lights flickered on as we entered.
“How would Master like to have me?” I asked as I closed the door to the frantic wailing that was coming from Rachel. I was sadly resigned to the fact I probably wouldn't be sharing her experience.
“Well, um, on the bed I suppose...”
I smiled at his lack of imagination and simply nodded. I was beginning to suspect that Simon might actually be a virgin, not that I dared ask him that. “Perhaps Master might care to lie on the bed and then permit Emma to pleasure him?”
He nodded eagerly and jumped on to the bed and lay down like a frigid girl might. I could see his hands grip the sheets in excitement as I lowered myself down onto the bed and began to caress him in the way I had been trained. I was going to have to read his body very carefully indeed because it would be embarrassing for him if he came too quickly, and Brinn would almost certainly blame me for letting that happen. And so as he lay there with his hands now gripping the head board, I began to bring him down a little, while still maintaining the pleasure. Only when he was at a more acceptable level of arousal did I lower myself onto his penis with my mouth.
“Oh Godddd!” moaned Simon as I pleasured him with my lips and tongue.
I felt his back curve and his muscles stiffen as I began sucking and licking him, still careful to read any physical signs that might suggest approaching orgasm.
“Oh Emma, that is wonderful! Oh, Emma...”
He sounded so much like a girl, and the way he was gripping the headboard – so unlike the various men of Gor who had used me this year.
“Master is enjoying this?” I asked as I paused momentarily to speak.
“Yes, yes, it's perfect, oh my God, you are so good, so amazing...”
I've barely begun, I thought to myself with a smile. I could still hear Rachel from across the corridor – her cries of pleasure were incredibly loud. I was sure I was never that loud myself.
She really was a slut in the furs, I thought to myself with a smile.
“He sounds like her's hurting her,” said Simon in concern. “Should we...”
“Trust me, Master, Rachel is perfectly happy right now. But thank you for your concern.” I lay on my side and placed my hands on his wrists, guiding his hands now onto my body. I suspected he wasn't returning to Earth any time soon, and so he may as well learn how to enjoy a slave-girl. I guided him a little and quivered as his hands roamed over my body. Now I lay back as he rolled onto his side and began to lick, kiss and even bite me.
“Is this okay, Emma?”
Don't ask me for permission, I thought to myself, but then replied “oh yes, Master!” and with that he seemed to grow bolder and began to touch me in other ways without first seeking permission. And then to my surprise he took hold of my wrists and pinned them down on to the bed either side of my body. He was imitating Brinn, I think. I responded with positive body signals to encourage him further, sighing, moaning writhing and fluttering my eyelashes and licking my lips. A slave-girl has a myriad of signals to encourage slave rape from even the most weary Master, but in this case Simon just seemed to need to know he was pressing the right buttons and getting the right responses.
He wasn't naturally dominant, but with subtle guidance he was managing to arouse me and so with relief I realised I wouldn't have to fake everything. And then came the money shot, as he grew bolder still, I looked up at him with my most timid, aroused and submissive expression possible and softly said, “Emma begs slave rape, Master.”
The look on his face! He had me pinned (well, loosely held so as not to really hurt me) against the bed, and now I was apparently the shy, nervous, fearful one, hesitantly begging for what I secretly desired, and what only he, the virile man of Earth could possibly give me. Oh, but I was a great actress that night. I had carefully elevated him into thinking he could bring me to the same kind of orgasm that Brinn was bringing Rachel to in the common room. And believe me, if you can boost a man's ego, that turns him into a tiger in the bedroom.
“I want to Emma, I want to, but... there's something you need to know...”
Oh God, he was going to tell me he was a Virgin and he'd never had a woman before, and then the moment would be lost and I'd spend five to ten minutes reassuring him, and...
So I just interrupted him with the most exquisite piece of acting, turning myself into some desperately needy girl who was experiencing waves of pleasure that she had never known possible before.
“Oh Master, please take me now, please... do not make me beg, please... I need you so much, but I'm so frightened that I won't please you...” I wanted him to think I was the nervous inexperienced one here, “Please take Emma, permit her to give you pleasure... please...”
The tip of his cock was close to my sex and so I shifted slightly so that it touched the lips of my labia and then, I have to admit, with my left hand guiding it, I slipped the tip inside me quickly, making it seem that he had just penetrated me himself. I gasped, overcome with joy, and that was enough for Simon, startled as he was, to push suddenly deeper inside me without thinking what he was doing.
Now was the difficult part. The last thing I wanted was him to come too quickly. Now that he was inside me he was inexpertly thrusting like mad, just overwhelmed to have penetrated a woman at last. It was going to be tricky to slow him down without seeming to take control, but in the end the problem was taken out of my hands when suddenly a loud klaxon siren sounded throughout the ship. Simon suddenly froze and pulled himself free of me.
“Master?” This couldn't be good.
“That's the alarm for the motion sensors on the lake side! Someone is opening the hatch at Lake Siljan!”
By the time we ran into the control room, Brinn, Rachel and Erin were already there. Brinn was still naked, though he was in the process of pulling his red tunic back over his body. Rachel looked flushed and agitated – I guessed the alarm had been coitus interruptus for her too.
“What does this awful noise mean?” said Brinn as Simon, now wearing a pair of jeans, but no T-shirt, ran to the main computer system and switched off the alarm. He brought some head up displays on line and confirmed the worst.
“We have company climbing down through the hatch. They didn't know about the motion sensors, obviously.”
Elizabeth Bentley. It had to be her. She had followed us ever since Brinn had fired his arrows at her.
“Simon, look, I know this is probably a stupid question, and I expect the answer to both parts is no, but… can this ship still fly, and if so, is there any way you can fly it?” I asked.
“That’s not really a stupid question. In theory yes it can, but practically, who knows. It’s been down here at the bottom of the lake for a long time. It's an orbit to surface fast entry drop ship, but it has flight capabilities through an atmosphere as well. Within the orbit of a planet it works on an anti-gravity principle, so there aren’t any engines as such. As for can I, well, I’ve never tried, but I do know that the ship takes care of most of the work. It was designed to be operated with minimal input from humans, and bearing in mind there are no humans on Earth with experience in operating vessels like this, the controls had to be very basic. I haven’t a clue about travelling between planetary systems, but moving round on the surface of a planet, well yes that could be done.”
“What are the controls like?” I asked.
“They’re designed to operate a bit like a video game really. Like I said, the computer system does most of the work, and it has all sorts of checks and balances built in to compensate for human error or lack of familiarity with flying aircraft. Basically you just sit in a pilot’s chair, pull out the steering console and the ship responds to where you turn the wheel. It sounds simple, but that’s only because the computer system is doing all the hard work in response to your basic commands. Basically if you can play a shoot ‘em up first person perspective video game, you could probably steer the ship without too much trouble. And because it has an anti-grav engine, there’s not much to worry about when it comes to turning. It can pretty much go anywhere.”
“So we could leave the lake and fly across the tops of the trees?”
“Sure, but you know what’s going to happen once the ship shows itself. The enemy will detect its flight path and deploy its own ships and missiles to take it out. It wouldn’t be a very long ride.” Simon typed a few commands into the desktop computer and I saw a 3D hologram of the localised terrain appear on one of the table surfaces. “See, that’s us right now, at the bottom of the lake, and you can see pin pointed around us are various hot spots that I presume are the enemy. Here, here and there.” The 'there' in particular was the umbilical cord leading from the shoreline of the lake to the airlock of the ship. “I count fifteen heat signatures in the corridor tube. And it looks like they’re getting set to cut through the airlock door with thermal lances.”
“So we’re going to die if we stay here anyway?”
“Yeah,.basically,” said Simon. And as we studied the rest of the display we saw a group of small dots flying above the Northern Forest canopy. “And there are three Tarn Riders flying south from Fell's Bane.”
“Tarn Strike,” said Rachel. “Elizabeth Bentley has got her atomic weapons airborne, and now she's come for us.”
“How does she know you're here?” asked Simon as he continued to tap away at the keyboard.
“Because someone decided to shoot at her with a bow and arrow,” said Rachel as she crossed her arms and looked anywhere but at Brinn.
“It was a perfectly acceptable tactical decision at the time,” said Brinn, irritably. “If I'd hit her...”
“Hey, people, we don't have time to argue,” said Simon as he tapped out a few more commands and we now saw on a wall screen, footage from a pin hole camera in the umbilical corridor that gave us a clear view of Miss Bentley, the great Kur, and her warriors. As Simon guessed, they had thermal cutting equipment and were already preparing to burn through the outer airlock.
“So we’re dead either way,” said Rachel as she stood beside me with her arms folded. “Well I’d rather go out quickly with a potential missile strike than fall into their hands.”
“I don’t think it will be quick though,” I said, thinking about it. “Don’t forget what we’ve seen recently – a jettisoned escape module from the downed cargo ship with the atomics, and a jettisoned cargo hold. That suggests the previous ship wasn’t atomised by a flame strike. I think it was moving too quickly for the Flame Death. The marks on the hull of the escape pod suggested a number of strikes by beam weapons while it was descending, but it landed intact, more or less. The main ship obviously survived long enough to dump the cargo hold in a safe place before it went on to its eventual fate. Wherever it crash landed is so far away from here that there’s no sign of it, which again suggests there was probably something of a dog fight before it was downed.”
“What are you suggesting, Emma?” asked Brinn.
“I’m saying we have nothing to lose by doing something wild and reckless. If we can get this ship to take off then… oh wait a minute!” I turned round with a big smile on my face. “Simon, please tell me this ship has weapons mounted on it?”
“Um, yes, but…”
“Spinal mounted twin chain guns. They’re housed in retractable recessed turrets on the hull.”
“And would these also be mostly computer guided?”
“Well, yes. Obviously. Again, it’s like playing a video game.”
“Okay, then this is what we’re going to do. We take off from the lake bed, leave the umbilical cord to flood when it breaks away from us, and hopefully that’s the last we see of Miss Bentley and her Kur, and then we go after the heavily laden Tarns. We take them out with the chain guns.”
“We’ll all die,” said Rachel matter of factly. “Firing a pistol is bad enough on the surface of this planet but if you burn through the sky in a Kurii drop ship, firing twin mounted chain guns at a wing of Tarn riders…”
“We’re going to die anyway once Bentley and her Kur get through the airlock. We’re going to be shot down just for flying this thing, so how much worse can it possibly be if we take out the Tarns and their atomic payloads with the chain guns? I mean, really, the Priest Kings can only kill us the once.” I gazed round at everyone. “Master?”
Brinn nodded. “The mission has to come first. If the Tarns reach the Sardar without any warning, then the Sardar dies and with it Gor’s defences. Everyone dies. Emma is correct. Our lives do not matter. If we can stop the Tarns, then we do so. Emma… this is very brave of you.”
I stepped forward and stood there before Brinn. He gazed down at me and then held me and kissed me passionately. “The ship has an escape pod, Master. Even with a missile lock on us, we can hopefully eject to safety if we have enough time. We may destroy Tarn Strike and live.”
It was important to know exactly how much time we would have to reach the escape pod and eject to safety once we had taken out the Tarn riders. This meant a practice dry run in sprinting from the flight room to the escape pod at the rear of the ship.
For the purpose of the dry run, we buckled ourselves into the seats we would be occupying when I took control of the ship’s steering. Then, once Simon started his timer running and shouted “go!” we all scrambled to release our seat harnesses and ran across the flight room, through the doorway, with a minimum of jostling and tripping over one another’s feet, and ran as fast as we could down the winding corridors to the emergency escape pod. Erin got there first, much to Brinn’s irritation, and she hit the emergency door release button to enter the pod. By the time we all squeezed inside and Simon had stopped his timer running, we had clocked up 57 seconds.
“Call it sixty seconds to be on the safe side,” I said.
“Assume someone’s going to fall over in panic when we do it for real,” remarked Rachel. “So we'll need more than that.”
“Sixty seconds. We have to do it in sixty seconds. No one falls over.”
“Add in some time for releasing the escape pod from the vessel and getting far enough away to be out of the blast radius of the Priest Kings’ missiles. Let’s call it 80 seconds.”
“Okay. Eighty seconds everyone. That’s what we’re going to need.”
No one looked particularly happy with the odds or the timing. We had no way of knowing how much time we’d have once the missiles locked on to our ship and even then whether the count down would remain linear or whether it would rapidly increase as the missiles built up speed.
We filed back into the control room as the enormity of what we were about to undertake silenced us all.
I settled down into the comfortable padded pilot’s chair and pressed the button that caused the front mounted panel to open out. A steering system for the ship emerged and locked in place in front of my hands. Panoramic wall screens came on line giving me two hundred and seventy degree vision of the underwater lake. I couldn’t help but feel nervous as I placed my hands on the flying controls and placed both my feet on the pads that would accelerate or decelerate the speed of the anti-grav drive propulsion drive. “Is it really this simple?”
“Like I said, the computer does everything else,” said Simon. “Are you sure you don’t want me to…”
“I used to be very good at first person perspective video games on Earth,” I said with a smile. “Really good in fact. And anyway, I need you working on the computer systems.” I tested the responsiveness of the controls while the drives were offline and was reassured by how smooth the movements seemed to be. The real test would of course be when we were flying.
Erin slipped into the second seat and brought the fire controls up from their own recessed space. “I used to kick ass playing Halo,” said Erin. “If this feels the same, then it’ll be bye-bye Tarn Strike.”
Brinn seemed to be fretting, pacing up and down behind the seats. “Are you sure you know what you’re doing, Emma? I don’t really understand any of this.”
“Well, we don’t have a lot of choice, Master. It has to be Erin and me. There weren’t any video games when Rachel was growing up, and you’re not going to have the faintest idea what to do, so it's down to Erin and myself.”
It was a strange feeling as I activated the anti-grav drive, or rather it wasn’t, because we didn’t feel anything at all, and to be honest the only indication we had that the ship was steadily rising from the lake bed was the view from the front facing view screen that showed the murky water appearing to descend in relation to us. It’s like that moment when you’re seated on a stationary train by a platform and you see the train opposite moving out, only for a moment you’re fooled into thinking it’s actually your train that’s moving. That was how I felt on board Golden Klaw, only in reverse, because this time it was us moving and it looked like the water outside was moving instead.
“She’s all yours, Emma,” said Simon as I already gripped the W-shaped steering wheel, for want of a better word. And then we felt it, a lurching to the side, a strain against the hull, and a sudden pitch to the right as the long umbilical cord strained against its secure fastenings. For a moment it was like we were being pulled back at an angle towards the sea bed as the cord held us like an anchor. Anything that was loose and lying on a table flew across the room as the angle of our ship tipped to perhaps fifty or sixty degrees before, with a sudden grinding and tearing of metal, the ship tore away from its access moorings, leaving the umbilical tunnel behind to come crashing down on the lake side bed and flood with fresh water.
“Can the Kurii swim?” asked Erin as we imagined the chaos and pandemonium that must be taking place in the three hundred yard long tunnel about now.
“Hopefully not,” I said as I compensated with the steering wheel as our ship suddenly and alarmingly righted itself. Nothing was holding the ship back now and within seconds we had emerged from the deep water and rose into the sky above Lake Siljan.
“We're on borrowed time now, Emma,” said Rachel as she gripped the arm rests on her chair. Brinn gazed firmly at the wall length view screen and seemed even more concerned than Rachel if that was possible, for he was now totally out of his depth, not knowing what to do, not knowing anything about flying ships, and he was having to trust in his slave-girls to not only destroy the Tarn riders, but somehow save us all.
“Yes we are.” I gazed quickly at the navigational animation display then back at the view screen, then at the long range radar or whatever it was and quickly swung Golden Klaw towards the three dots superimposed on the view screen. It really was like a computer game, like Grand Theft Auto where you always had an indicator superimposed on your screen pointing you in the direction you needed to go while you couldn't see your target. I had no idea how long it would be before the Priest Kings took action against us. I was levelling the suspension drive so that the ship was clearing the forest canopy by maybe thirty feet, and I was accelerating as fast as I could. I had to hope that sheer speed might buy us time before the Priest King weapon systems locked on to us. I felt confident that the vaunted Flame Death would not incinerate the ship, but from what Kurgus had once told me, I assumed the missiles would. I was dreading the inevitable warning alarm that would indicate incoming ordnance and the equally inevitable target lock warning which meant we really were heading to our deaths.
“Come on, come on...” The forest canopy was practically a blur. Erin beside me had the weapons harness rig pulled all the way out from the console and she had her hands over the twin joysticks that would open the chain gun pods and then fire their deadly ordnance. I had cautioned her not to open the weapon pods until we had some sort of visual, for fear that showing our weapons might accelerate the wrath of the Priest Kings, though thinking back now it was unlikely they would hesitate anyway, the moment they caught sight of a speeding Kur ship crossing the horizon of the Northern Forests, guns or no guns.
“Emma, are you sure you know what you're doing?” shouted Brinn as he leaned forward in his seat belt harness.
“Yes, Master,” I lied, and tried to keep my attention focussed on the main view screen, the head up displays, the navigational display and the radar thingie. My hand was trembling, but like a steady cam used by film camera men, the computer guidance systems on board the Kur ship seemed to recognise what was the steering effect of shaking hands as opposed to actual manoeuvring, and worked to cancel it out. We did seem to be flying smoothly, despite my nerves running out of control.
We were flying much faster than the Tarns ever could and so I saw the encouraging sight of the target blips on the navigational map getting closer and closer to our position. “Come on, come on…” I said to myself again as I searched the horizon in the magnification view screen for any sign of the great birds. Every second without a visual was bringing us closer to the moment when the internal alarms would sound, warning us of impending Priest King retaliation. To be shot down by the very forces we were striving to save from annihilation would be the most ironic of endings to our lives. And then I saw them as moving specks on the far horizon – three Tarns, heavily laden with freight baskets containing the recovered atomics. And as I saw them they began to grow larger in size as the Kur ship sped closer and closer towards them. I had no idea how loud the ship was, if it was making any noise at all, and if not whether the Tarn riders would remain oblivious of our presence until the twin chain guns tore them apart in the sky.
“I see them, pumpkin.” She had switched the twin guns into ready position and flicked the switch that would cause them to extend out from the recessed pods on our fuselage. Now there really was no going back. ”Target lock in ten,” said Erin as reticules hovered over the Tarn group. The reticules were triangulating on the target group as we flew closer and closer with every passing second. “Target lock in eight,” said Erin again, and I felt a rising sense of exhilaration. We were going to do this – we seemed to be clear of any Priest King attacks for the time being and we had our gun sights closing in on the tarn riders. The chain guns wouldn’t need much in the way of accuracy – from what Simon had told me earlier they could easily strip a full size football pitch with ease.
But then my worst fears were realised.
“WARNING: missile ordnance detected. Impact in 40 seconds. WARNING: missile ordnance detected. Impact in 38 seconds.”
That was it – we were dead. Not enough time to clear the ship to the emergency escape pod even if we aborted our attack run now.
“Target lock in six,” said Erin as she chewed her lower lip and ignored the warning sounds that our ship was now in target lock by the Priest Kings. I spared a glance at the ship’s radar display and saw multiple blips closing with us in turn.
“Just shoot now!” I shouted and Erin did as I said. Without waiting for a precise target lock to close, she depressed both fire buttons on her joy sticks and sprayed the sky around the Tarns. Twin chain guns spewed somewhere in excess of 3,000 rounds and suddenly there were no Tarns, riders or freight baskets in the air any more.
“Let’s try for the escape pod,” screamed Simon, but I knew it would be a waste of time. Instead I banked the ship sharply, pulling on the steering system to turn it on a point in the direction of a geographical feature that I had been keeping a very close eye on all this time. Everyone felt the sudden lurch in direction as the Kur ship changed course, as did the incoming missiles hot on our trail.
Now the view screen had something new on the far horizon – the steep edifice that was Skaffel Peak. I was going to get as close to it as I could before the missiles made contact. This would all be down to timing and I concentrated on the multiple head up displays and radar alerts that were feeding me the numbers that kept changing with each alteration to our flight variables. We’d be blown out of the sky seven seconds before we would ever hit Skaffel Peak but I wasn’t intending to hit Skaffel Peak. I just wanted to get as close to it as I could. I had to trust that the missile lock wasn’t as intuitive as a human being might be.
“Simon – are you still on your computer?” I didn’t dare turn round to look at him.
“Yes, what do you want?”
“Remote ejection of the escape pod from here. On my count. Eight, seven, six…” suddenly the head up display of numbers adjusted alarmingly, and not in our favour. I aborted my count and simply shouted, “eject now!”
And Simon did. We felt a kick as the escape pod jettisoned to our rear, directly in the path of the incoming salvo. And then immediately following release I shut down the anti-grav drive and let our velocity simply carry us in a downward arc, dropping rapidly like, well, like a drop ship without anti-grav. I was cutting propulsion speed now as fast as I could as the head up display showed the salvo of three missiles strike the escape pod in our rear, recognising it as our vessel and therefore its target. The first we knew of the detonation was the shock wave that struck Golden Klaw and blew out the internal overhead lights and practically flung me forward in my seat as far as the safety restraints allowed. The ship now seemed out of my control, through a combination of emergency deceleration, cutting the anti-grav and being hit by the shock wave of the Priest King missiles that had blown the escape pod into buckshot. The view screen showed the foot of Skaffel Peak coming up fast and furious and I had just enough time to scream, “I love you Rachel,” before we struck hard, tore an enormous gash in our underside hull and skimmed in a series of terrifying thumps parallel with the lower slopes of Skaffel Peak.
We had done it. The integrity of the ship had held. Say what you like about the Kurii, but they knew how to build a crash proof drop ship. We had destroyed Tarn Strike and on top of that we were still alive, and deep down I knew that for all my deeds the planet of Gor would reward me with a life time of abject slavery. We were at the foot of Skaffel Peak and I now knew what I had to do. I glanced round at Rachel as Brinn released himself from his seat belt, and nodded at her knowingly. Unseen by Brinn, she nodded back.
“Emma...” said Brinn as he stood rather unsteadily on his feet from the crash landing. “I don't know what to say... you have saved the Priest Kings.”
Behind him now, Rachel quietly released her own seat belt and stood up. I knew of course what she was holding in her right hand.
“I'm sorry, Master. Please forgive me,” I said softly as I gazed at him from the flight seat which I still occupied.
“Forgive you? What for? You have done Gor a great service.” He looked at me in confusion. And then Rachel stabbed him in the back of the neck with the disposable syringe she had been concealing for some time. She had taken it from the collection of medical supplies in my shoulder bag. Brinn's reactions were superb. As soon as he felt the needle enter his flesh he span round and punched Rachel in the face before she could jump back. I screamed as I saw my friend thrown against the wall, and I screamed again for Brinn to stop as he advanced on her. But the sedative was incredibly quick acting, and already his steps were faltering as he advanced on the girl.
“I have to do something very important, Master, and I know you would try to stop me. I'm sorry,” I said.
“Emma!” He turned round again to face me as Rachel slumped, holding what looked like a broken nose and maybe a missing tooth. She was in shock from the blow and no obvious threat to anyone any more, but Brinn could feel the powerful sedative speeding through his system and he roared with anger at this betrayal. For a moment I feared he would be upon me before the drug did its work, and he almost was, but then he fell, tried to get up, and fell again, and suddenly he was still.
Brinn was down.
Now our destiny on Sakffel peak awaited us.
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