2: I find myself awake within a steel ship of acquisition
I awoke, terrified, screaming, finding myself trapped within the narrow confines of a transparent glass like tube that was positioned at a tilted forty five degree angle within a narrow metal walled room. I raised my hands as far as I could to about waist height and pressed frantically at the glass of my prison with the palms of my hands, crying out for help.
To my shock, I saw other similar tubes lining the walls of this room, and in each one I saw another girl, naked like myself, apparently screaming and pressing against the surface of the glass as I did, though I could not hear their voices. My own voice had a deep resonance to it, sealed as I was within the glass container.
I didn't understand what had happened to me. There had been the men of course, and I recalled waking up terrified to find men in my bedroom, men holding me down, both me and Sophia. I had struggled and tried to scream before one of them had muffled my mouth with his hand. I had then been put onto my belly and injected with some sort of fast acting paralysing drug.
I felt sure that I was going to be raped.
But no, they had spoken instead of a consignment, and large canvas bags had been brought out in order that we might be smuggled from the building. We had been kidnapped. That much was obvious to me as I thumped helplessly at the glass in my sound proof chamber. Oh, how I screamed. Suddenly I saw that one of the other girls trapped in one of the other tubes was Sophia. She saw me too and we screamed at one another, neither hearing the other's voice. The look on her face no doubt mirrored my own distraught expression.
The other girls were unknown to me. The only thing they had in common was that they were all quite beautiful, though I do not think they were quite as beautiful as me. Few women are. Even lovely Sophia is not as beautiful as me. There were eight of us in all, split between four occupied tubes on each of two walls facing one another, though I could see that the narrow containment room had two other tubes that seemed empty. The room seemed unusual, reminding me perhaps of the interior of a submarine. Was I on board some sort of sea going vessel? I pressed with the palms of my hands against the glass and tried to calm myself a little. It was now obvious to me that no one could hear my voice, for the simple observation that I couldn't hear any sound coming from outside of my containment tube. Sophia however continued to scream, much to my irritation. How stupid she seemed. Did she not understand that screaming was pointless for now? No one could hear her. I shook my head as she looked at me.
It was easy enough to conjecture that we had all been drugged, and no doubt while we lay within the atmospheric containment tubes, various inert gasses had kept us drugged until perhaps someone decided we should awaken. The evidence was simple enough as we had all recovered within minutes of one another. That could only suggest some other gas had been subtly introduced into our tubes with desired effect of bringing us all back to full consciousness.
I could not at this time comprehend why we had been taken and imprisoned. Possibly the thought of ransom occurred to me, but I was not wealthy, and nor were my parents. True, they had a comfortable house in Surrey, worth maybe two point three million pounds Sterling, and maybe my kidnappers might presume they would sell their house in order to raise the funds required to ransom me, but it would surely be a time consuming process and difficult to arrange on a fixed time scale. Sophia too was hardly wealthy, for she worked in a call centre as I did. Her parents were, I suppose, quite well off, as her father worked in the City, but most of their wealth also resided in their splendid property in Richmond.
It seemed incomprehensible to me that ransom could therefore be the reason for our kidnapping. I felt angry now, for whoever had arranged this capture had surely miscalculated. I could not fathom if the other six girls were rich, but in my case a ransom was out of the question. Surely when my captors realised this they might understand that the most sensible course of action would be to allow me to go free? If there was to be no profit in holding me, they might as well release me to prove their good faith with the families of the other girls when it came time to exchange them for money. Look, they might say, we have proven we will honour our side of the deal because we have released Miss Michelle Frost. You can therefore trust us to do the same for your daughters when we receive their ransom.
Yes, I could see how that might work well indeed.
A door looking very much like some sci-fi airlock rotated open at the far end of this chamber. Through it came two men, and at first I thought they were wearing dresses, but then I realised the garments they wore resembled Roman tunics from historical films and TV shows I had seen in the past. The tunics were blue with edging of yellow, short sleeved, belted, and cut to a few inches above the knees. There were sword belts hanging at their left sides that swung slightly as they entered our chamber. One of the men I recognised from when I had been woken up in my bed by the intruders who had broken into my apartment. I think he had been the man who had commented that I wasn’t on his consignment list. He had not been told to locate me it seems. He had then told his accomplices to mark me anyway and added me to the shipping manifest. Startled, I recalled being marked – some sort of pen device that emitted a searing heat that thankfully I hadn’t felt due to the effects of the paralysing drug. I moved my left hand down towards my thigh and felt a clean mark just below my hip. I couldn’t make it out clearly, but it seemed to be in the shape of some cursive ‘k’ configuration. There was no mistaking that this was a permanent brand, not for example a surface tattoo mark. My fingers told me it was seared into my flesh. They had marked me! Permanently marked me! How dare they! I had effectively been branded, like some animal, like livestock. I was of course furious. Now I slapped my palms against the walls of the glass cylinder again, angry with what had been done to me. The other girls too tried to attract the attention of the two men as they walked slowly between the containers. One of the men, not the one I recognised, carried a rod like device with a rounded steel tip. He held it like a torch, but it didn’t seem to be a torch. The other man – the man I did recognise – slid down the cover from a computer terminal. As I watched he tapped various keys on the keyboard and studied various read outs on the screen. He seemed satisfied by what he read there.
Was he just going to ignore us? The men had barely gazed in our direction, save to assure themselves we were all now awake. I slapped hard against the glass again and shouted at them. I was suddenly conscious of my nudity, and like some of the other girls I tried to at least cover my sex with my left hand. It wasn’t possible to bend my right arm sufficiently inside the narrow cylinder sufficiently to cover my breasts with it, and so I had to remain there exposed to their view.
The man continued to tap commands into his keyboard, and now I noticed a gentle humming transmitted through the confines of my prison. I could feel a vibration of sorts too, and became aware of a tilting movement as my cylinder began to move, the top lowering and the bottom rising up until it was now angled horizontally with me effectively lying on my belly, facing the metallic floor. As the cylinder became horizontal, the hinge mechanism slid the bottom of the tube into a recessed space in the wall. This was I think for purposes of space as otherwise the chamber would be far too cramped if the cylinders on both walls were simultaneously extended. There was a sudden hiss and I became aware of the seal on what had been the top of my cylinder beginning to open. I felt the movement of air as the sealed and self contained atmosphere within my cylinder became exposed to the air within the chamber itself.
My ears seemed to pop as the contained atmosphere I had been exposed to equalised with outside. Around me I could hear other mechanisms rotating and opening – other tubes unlocking their captives.
And now I could hear the sobbing, crying and screaming of some of the other girls inside their tubes. I myself did not scream, but I pushed myself further back inside my cylinder, scared now that my body was within an arm’s reach of one of these brutal looking men.
A hand reached inside my tube and took hold of my hair. With a tug, I was urged to crawl out and emerge from my glass prison. I was pulled roughly and protesting onto my hands and knees, on a metal grilled floor by the man I didn’t recognise. He had already freed two girls to the right of my capsule and was now moving towards the fourth occupied tube.
I felt weak, nauseous even as I crouched there on the grilled flooring on my hands and knees. My hair hung loose about my face and for a moment I thought I was going to be sick for I felt a sudden flush in my stomach. My head was spinning, possibly from the side effects of the drugs and the sudden intrusion back into consciousness.
Capsule locks hissed open on the rack of tubes opposite my own. I saw another four tubes open, exposing their female cargo. Sophia was one of the girls who was pulled free by her hair from one of those capsules. Within a few minutes we all lay exhausted on the metal flooring while the two men paced about us. Some of the girls were crying. One of them was pleading with the men. We all seemed confused, numb with shock.
“Debemus festinare. Non multum tempus. Fori la Kajirae,” said the man I had seen in my bedroom. His companion nodded as he approached the nearest girl in line.
“Sula, Kajira da,” he said pointing to the metal grilled floor.
“What?” A red headed girl looked at him, not understanding what he had said. “I can't understand you! Who are you? Where am I? Where are my clothes?” She desperately covered her breasts with her arms and turned her folded legs primly to one side to conceal her sex as best she could.
“Sula, Kajira da!” said the man again, more angrily now. He stabbed his pointed finger to the floor again as he had done before.
“Stop saying that!” cried the red head. “I don't understand you! You can't treat me like this! The police will be looking for me by now! Please let me go!”
“Maybe, but they won't find you,” said the man at the computer terminal in the accented English I had heard him speak in my bedroom. “You're far beyond their reach now. Leofric is speaking Gorean. He has just told you to lie on your back. I suggest you do so and quickly. Leofric is not renowned for his patience.”
The red head sobbed and, as I watched, lay back on the cold metal floor, pressing her thighs together as she did so. “You can't do this to me!” she said as she kept her arms crossed over her breasts.
Leofric reached down and took her left ankle. As I and the other girls watched, he locked a steel anklet about it. The anklet seemed to be part of a long chain system that had three other steel anklets in place at regular intervals. There was another such coffle chain looped over Leofric's left shoulder, and I suddenly realised that the number of anklets equalled the number of girls in this chamber. The man now moved to the next girl in line – a beautiful black woman with large breasts, and repeated the same instruction as to the red head. The black girl however just sat there numbly, shaking her head in shock. Leofric seemed to lose patience and, without any warning, touched the black girl with the rounded metal tip of his rod device. There were sparks and then suddenly the girl screamed and fell backwards, writhing in pain, sobbing, her body seeming to convulse on the spot. We all shrank back as the man motioned with the rod device in our direction, as if to say, does anyone else wish to test me?
I didn't even have to be asked. I was next in line and before Leofric could even issue a command I lay down on my back and extended my left ankle. He grinned as he then bent down to fasten the third anklet on my foot. The second one he snap locked on the black girl once her writhing had subsided to some degree. Sophia would be next, to my left.
I didn't know what exactly that metal tipped rod did when it touched skin, but judging by the state of the black girl, it was as if it ignited pain through all the nerve clusters of her body. Swiftly now all the other girls lay down on their backs, and one by one Leofric went round chaining them in two coffle lines.
I moved my ankle slightly, to the extent permitted me. The chain slid across the metal floor, making me shiver. I was now part of a chain arrangement with three other girls, one of whom was Sophia. I could not understand what was happening to me now! This was beyond my comprehension. I was naked, chained, the captive of men. Where was I?
Sophia moved closer to me and I to her. She was at least a constant in my world now, something familiar that I could cling to.
“I'm scared, Michelle,” she said as we embraced one another. “Who are these men?”
“I don't know.” I could see the men talking to one another now in this strange dialect that had been referred to as 'Gorean'. From the tone of their voice, I could guess that something had gone wrong with their plans. From time to time the men consulted the computer screen and looked worried. And it was then that the overhead strip lights began to flicker alarmingly.
Once, twice, three times, and then the glow from the computer screen cut to black. A moment later the lights went out too, plunging the chamber into darkness for there were no windows. A couple of girls screamed. I heard the clinking of chain as legs moved back in the darkness, before there was a sudden bright flash of light and I saw Leofric now holding a light source – a burning flare of some sort that illuminated the chamber.
“Quiet,” barked the English speaking man. “We've lost power to the ship, that's all. Stand up.”
We did so in a jingle of steel chains. I clutched Sophia to me and held on to her for comfort and reassurance. To my right the black girl painfully lifted herself up on to her feet, still in shock from the touch of that power rod. And to her right was the red headed girl, trembling as much as any of us.
There was a second eruption of light as the English speaking man now lit a chemical flare, doubling the available light sources. He moved to the circular door that resembled an airlock. It remained open from when it had been powered open.
“Mox aderit Sardar hostis,” said Leofric with some anxiety, as if in warning, to urge haste. The other man nodded and placed his right hand on the hilt of his sword as he moved towards the airlock like opening. He turned at the mouth of the doorway and pointed to the chain to which I was attached.
“You are first coffle. Understand?”
I nodded, as did Sophia and the red head.
“And you are second coffle,” he said in accented English as he motioned to the other four girls. “Leofric holds a slave goad. You have seen its effects quite clearly. He will use it again at the slightest sign of disobedience. Now move. Coffle one first.”
Slave goad? Sophia and I looked at one another. Slave goad?! But now the red head was moving, as was our ankle chain, and then the black girl with the large breasts hobbled after her in pain, and then I too had to move or else bring the chain to a halt. Behind me now, Sophia followed, holding my hand for courage.
“He called that a slave goad,” whispered Sophia as we entered a long metallic corridor. Were we in some sort of underground cellar made of metal? Surely if we were on board a ship, we would feel the motion of the water by now, but he had referred to it as a ship.
The English speaking man led, and once our coffle had left the chamber, Leofric ordered the second chain of girls to follow us, he then taking up the rear, holding his slave goad at the ready. There was enough light to see where I was going, but the interior was gloomy without the aid of the overhead lighting. The corridor seemed as oppressively cramped and narrow as the metallic chamber in which I had woken up, and at two points I saw it divide into side corridors. There were a couple of doors similar to the one that had opened in our chamber, but we passed them by as we followed the man ahead of us.
“Where do you think we are?” asked Sophia as she almost tripped on her ankle chain. Neither of us were used to walking in formation in a chain sequence.
“I don't know. I think they may be terrorists of some sort.”
“Isis?” said Sophia in alarm.
“I don't think so. They do not look the type. Stay close to me.”
The corridor branched left and seemed to reach a dead end, but as the man's light source illuminated the area I could see there was another door with overhead light cubes that seemed as dead as everything else around here. The man beckoned the red head closer and he handed her the flare which was still burning brightly. The red head took it in both of her trembling hands, leaving the man free to reach for a panel set next to the door. He slid the panel upwards and out of the wall sconce it had been covering to reveal a heavy handle that seemed to pull downwards. The man took hold of this handle and pushed it down, at which point a series of manual override locks clicked open. Wherever we were I assumed this had to be some sort of emergency door release in case of power failures such as this. Perhaps in the case of fire or some such.
I glanced at the black girl ahead of me. I could see, now that she was standing up, that she was tall, much taller than I. She stood perhaps five feet ten inches tall – six inches more than I. Sophia was the same height as me, and the red head was maybe an inch or two taller. Of the four of us the black girl seemed to be coping the best. She seemed strong, for a woman that is, and I sensed with some discomfort that she would be much stronger than either Sophia or myself. Were we not civilised people, I could well imagine that the black girl might easily be my superior in a more primitive culture where my social background, education and cultural norms meant for little. It was a strange thought to have, coming from nowhere as we waited for the man to force the steel door open. He did so with a rotational wheel set below the lever. With each revolution of the wheel, the airlock style door rotated a little more open.
Beyond it was a small bare chamber, perhaps eight by eight feet with an identical metal door at the far end. The man now repeated his earlier work, first pulling away a steel panel, then pushing down a manual lever, and then rotating another circular wheel.
“Will there be water?” said Sophia anxiously. “We're chained together! If we go into water like this, we'll drown!”
“I don't think there will be water,” I said, for this compact chamber seemed very much like how I would imagine an airlock to be. But that would be crazy. You would only find an airlock on a space ship and such things did not exist outside of lurid sci-fi books and films.
As the final doorway rotated open, I felt warm evening air blow inside the small chamber. Until I felt the fresh air current I think I had not really noticed how stale and metallic the air had tasted inside here.
My hand strayed as I waited, to the brand on my left thigh. I had noticed earlier on that all the girls had been marked in the same fashion. Someone would surely pay for this when we were inevitably rescued. We had been mutilated! Disfigured! And yet, as I touched the brand and gazed down at it in the dim light, it was not I suppose ugly, but rather quite beautiful in its cursive effect. It seemed graceful as a design, but nevertheless it had been placed upon my skin against my will. I moved my foot and heard the jingle of chain again.
Calm. I must be calm. This ordeal could not last indefinitely after all. I had no idea how much time had gone by since I had been kidnapped alongside Sophia, but I guessed this was not the same night during which I had been rudely awoken by men within my apartment. Surely by now, or soon after, my disappearance would be noted by friends and work colleagues. Enquiries would be made and when I could not be found through any conventional means, I would be swiftly reported as a missing person. Too, there must be signs in my apartment that I had been abducted? Surely the door had been forced. Neighbours would notice that in the morning. I smiled to myself. I could well imagine the inevitable nationwide manhunt for Sophia and myself. I would be on the news. Everyone would know my face.
I hoped they would use a good photograph of me. One of the ones on my Facebook page perhaps. One in which I was elegantly dressed, looking stylish, aloof, perhaps on holiday somewhere expensive. I had many, many pictures like that on Facebook, all available for public viewing. It amused me how many men would send me friend requests day after day. Always desperate men that I didn't know. Men who had seen my photos. They would always be so complimentary, practically begging to be friends with me. I of course deleted the requests, though I did not go so far as to block them from seeing my page. Let them see my page, and the photos I posted, but let them know their pathetic invitation to befriend me had not been good enough.
I enjoyed treating men that way. They were like little puppies, so desperate to please. Pathetic really.
It was definitely night time outside, for I could hear the nocturnal sounds of the countryside; the movements and cries of wild animals; though the cries sounded rather strange to me. Could it be I was no longer in England? But no, it would surely be difficult, impossible even to smuggle eight women out of the country, through a channel port. And yet the sounds of the wildlife in the distance sounded like nothing I had heard in the green and pleasant fields of England before.
“Coffle one,” said the man as he stepped outside and stood in the moonlight with his flare beginning to run low.
The redhead moved first, stepping over the threshold and seeming to drop four feet down to the ground. She yelped, not expecting quite such a drop, and the pull on the chain almost staggered the black girl. Now she braced herself, gazed down to where the red head had fallen and she carefully lowered herself down, puling me towards the threshold in the process.
“Don't pull me!” I said angrily to her. Who did she think she was? She gazed up at me with an impassive and unruffled expression as she held out her hand to help me down.
“I'm Eleanor,” she said seeming to take measure of me as I pulled myself over the edge of the door and with a tug on the chain connecting me to Sophia, gingerly touched down onto damp grass. “Eleanor Maddison.”
“Michelle Frost,” I said as I touched the long grass with the palms of my hands. “Miss Michelle Frost,” I added, just so that she might know her place in this ad hoc relationship. I may share an ankle chain with her, but that did not mean she could presume we were friends. “Where are we?”
“A long way from home I think...” she said with a sudden look of shock on her face as she gazed up at the night sky.
“How do you know that?” I said as Sophia now emerged at the top of the hatchway. Eleanor Maddison simply pointed up towards the night sky and as I followed her gesture I too gasped in shock, for there in the night sky I saw them, clearly illuminated behind the mere traces of cloud.
The three moons of Gor.