She's been branded. Actually branded. 'Is she insane', was your instant thought and reaction on seeing the kef sigil on Michelle's left thigh. Is she really so naive that she doesn't know what it means? But of course she's right in a sense that she cannot play the role of a slave with out it. The kef brand will be expected if she is to be ultimately convincing. And yet, even so, the brand will remain on her long after her mission for the Kurii ends.
You regard the girl on her knees now before you – quite the change from the woman in the sumptuous gown who reclined on your outdoor couch as if she owned the house. Then all her words come together in your mind and you realise she is actually naïve and she has no comprehension of what her role entails.
Sighing inwardly, you sit yourself down on the edge of the couch, the whip idly swinging from your hand as you consider the situation. Michelle waits, watching you with uncertainty, not knowing what you are going to do or say next. This is not her world. She has no caste and no Home Stone to protect her. And she wears a brand on her thigh.
"Tell me, do you know exactly what your role is?" you ask.
Michelle begins to speak, but it is a rhetorical question, and you allow no more than a word or two before you cut her off, motioning her to silence with a sweep of your hand. "Your role is that of a slave. You're not a servant. In this society, slaves obey, without question. You could be beaten by a man for not being sufficiently deferential, or you could be killed if he deems you to be insulting. A Free Woman could beat you for looking at her in the wrong way. I will help you with this, but understand, you are at risk if you do not learn quickly."
Michelle's eyes widen as you say that. She considers her words to you carefully. “I understand of course the nature of your society and the prevalence of slavery here. Slavery existed for a long time on my world too, but long ago the civilised nations of the world put a stop to it, because slavery is wrong. I am an intelligent woman. I have a sociology degree. I understand only too well the cultural and social norms that propagate and encourage slavery, particularly in primitive cultures where society is dictated by raw muscle.”
“I need to correct you there,” you say with a sweep of your whip hand. “On Gor slavery is not 'wrong'. Here on Gor it is a natural part of our lives and it is 'right'. I know something of your sick, twisted world, so please don't try to lecture me on any cultural superiority you may mistakingly feel is your heritage. We are Goreans and we pity you for what you have done to your world. In any event, you are no longer on Earth, you are now on Gor and you need not concern yourself with what you consider is right or wrong. Simply consider that on Gor there are slaves, and slaves are subject to strict discipline. They obey without question or suffer the consequences. And you appear to be a slave as far as anyone man or woman is concerned.”
Michelle shook her head angrily, though she remained on her knees on the flagstones before your couch. “I am not actually a slave! It is a ruse! A pretence! A temporary one and I shall be richly rewarded for my work, as will you I suppose. I have a job to do and if that job requires me to pretend to be a slave for a short period of time then I will do so to the best of my ability. I am a professional, you see. I have agreed to various degrading aspects of my service as a necessity of doing my job. I will wear this degrading garment if I have to. I will kneel if I have to. I have even permitted men to mark me on my left thigh as part of the illusion. But understand, I am not a slave. I am, as your society considers it, a Free Woman, and one who is vastly superior to most of the women on this planet. I am educated well. I have a sociology degree. I think you will find me to be a resourceful and talented partner in our endeavour going forward. Furthermore I can act the part required of me. In public I will be your slave. Quite obviously when we together in private you will accord me greater respect and indulge the fact that I am an Earth Woman who secretly serves the Kurii. I do not expect to have to wear this degrading garment when we are together in private. It is frankly shameful and I do not like it.”
“What are your objections to it?” you ask.
“It is a slave garment!”
You nod. “And you are supposed to be a slave. Is it therefore not an appropriate garment?”
“You are being ridiculous now. The illusion does not need to be maintained when others cannot see us.” Michelle gazes about the courtyard. “Even here the house is secluded and screened from view by the tall trees and the walls at the side of the cliff. We have privacy. I would like to suggest you provide me with fine gowns to wear, much like your own, during the hours when I reside in your house and we do not have visitors. If I must I will change to this tunic if someone calls at the door.” Her confidence seems to be returning somewhat. “Perhaps later, when I am richly dressed and veiled, we can walk through the main areas of Telnus and you show me around? It might be advantageous if I knew the layout of the city. We could perhaps stop somewhere and eat. I am quite hungry in fact, for the men who escorted me here did not give me anything to eat this morning.” She sniffs in annoyance. “Between you and me I did not care for them at all. They were rude, uncivil and inconsiderate for my feelings. I told them that I would prefer to arrive at your house in the robes and gowns of a free woman, but they insisted I wore this slave tunic!” She picks at the garment with the fingers of her left hand, pulling the stretchy material, breaking her position slightly in doing so as her hands should continue to rest on her thighs until given permission to do otherwise. “They made me walk here barefoot!” Michelle is obviously annoyed with them. “So you can understand how relieved I am to be placed in your care now. I do not think I like the men of Gor very much. They look at me as if...” her voice trails away.
“As if?” you ask from where you sit with the whip still hanging from your right hand.
“It does not matter. It is nothing.” Michelle sniffs again. She gazes once more around the courtyard garden. “So... perhaps you could tell me something about yourself? Since we will be working together now?”