Author's Note: This is only the first part of what hopefully will be a fairly long story set in an indefinite far-future. The government as we know it has collapsed, and crime syndicates and influential families run the show.
This is my first effort, so let me know what you think!
I'd expected it to be darker.
Admittedly, I've never been abducted before, but when your captors refer to your prison as "the dungeon," I think it's fair to expect something a little more threatening than a basement. They didn't even board up the broken windows, just installed bars. They clearly aren't worried about us being seen. Outside the windows is flat earth dotted with weeds and the occasional car tire. I waste a few minutes wondering where we are, like I've been doing since I woke up.
OK, I need a distraction. I take another slow survey of the dungement concrete walls with a layer of dirty white paint, inch-thick dirt over the concrete floor, rough wooden ladder leading to the door 8 or 9 feet above us. It looks like there used to be wooden stairs, but they've rotted away into a pile of mold and termite dust. At first I thought there might be some nails left, but a long and somewhat disgusting search has proved fruitless. Besides, what could one guy with a bum foot, chained hands, and one rusty nail do against five people coming at him from above? I sigh and lower myself to the ground.
I'm beginning to worry about my cellmates. I've been awake for six hours or so, judging by the sunlight through the windows, and neither of them has so much as stirred. Lissa is still sprawled awkwardly on her side, hands cuffed behind her back, long red hair puddled under her head. Unlike me, her ankles are cuffed and her knees tied together. Also unlike me, she has a bruise spreading across one pale cheek. When they grabbed her, she kicked one of the guys in the nuts and smashed another in the nose with her cuffed hands. I smile at the memory, then wonder if I should roll her to her stomach to take the pressure off her shoulders. But she might have trouble breathing on her stomach... I leave her where she is.
The other prisoner is a stranger, thin and dark with an intense face. They've propped him up against the wall, and his head is lolling to one side, making a lock of black hair fall across his eyes. He's going to wake up with one heck of a neck cramp. I could reposition him, but I'm reluctant to take that sort of liberty with a complete stranger. What if he woke up with me breathing into his face? I leave him where he is, too.
The sound of a key in the door makes me start. I must have dozed sitting against the wall, because now there is only a pale artificial glow coming through the metal bars. I am stiff all over, and my bad leg hurts with a sharpness that makes me grunt when I try to get up. The tensions of the day are making themselves felt.
When I glance over at the stranger, I am startled to see one eye peering out from the mussed hair. The rest of him remains motionless. How long has he been faking unconsciousness? I'm glad I didn't try to move his head.
The room brightens as the door opens, and I squint to see a figure climbing down the ladder and two more waiting at the top. More light floods the room as one of them flips a switch, illuminating the single bulb hanging near the ladder. I have to shield my eyes for a moment as my vision adjusts.
When I stop squinting, I see Lissa, still unconscious, propped up against the wall while the man tried to slap and pinch her back to consciousness. She remains still, and eventually the man calls something to his companions. I don't understand his words, but recognize the dialect, I think. Ushpai. If I'm right, we're in trouble. One of the men in the doorway is holding a gun some kind of automatic - and his gaze flicks around the room in a hyperalertness I recognize from my soldier brothers.
The other man brings back a bucket of water, which he proceeds to slowly empty over Lissa's head. Tension is making my stomach tight, but what can I do? If I try anything I'll be dead in a second. She stirs and coughs as some water makes its way into her mouth. Blue-grey eyes open and then squeeze shut again against the harshness of the light.
The Ushpani man moves on to the stranger and finds him awake, blinking and shaking his head in feigned disorientation. I wonder who he's from. With his dark, straight hair and sharp features, he could almost be Ushpan himself, but he could also belong to fifty or a hundred other tribes. Dark olive-toned skin and black hair are not exactly an uncommon look. Lissa and I are the outliers, with our pale eyes and skin that burns in the sun.
The Ushpan, a harsh-looking man with a scar across his forehead, pulls the stranger to his feet and pushes him wordlessly towards the ladder. He stumbles artlessly on his way. This guy is too smooth.
My turn. I actually need Scarface's help to get to my feet, but I'm long past being embarrassed about things like that. The ladder is going to be a challenge, with my hands bound, but I manage creditably, if slowly, while Scarface goes to free Lissa's legs. At the top, the other Ushpan scowls at me over the barrel of his gun. I try not to make any sudden movements.
Lissa stifles a groan when she's pulled to her feet. Pins and needles, probably, from her legs being bound. She recovers quickly, as always, and I can't help but admire the grace of her movements as she crosses the room and climbs the ladder. I avert my eyes when my body threatens to make my admiration public. She hardly glances at me. Suddenly I'm worried that somehow she doesn't recognize me.
I try not to look at Patrick too much as I hobble by on legs still half-numb from the ropes. He remembers me, that much I can tell, but the last time we saw each other we were 18. I've changed a lot since then. A lot. I don't know why I'm so nervous about meeting his eyes, considering the rest of our situation, but I let the moment pass and keep my head down. I wish I knew why he was here, why they took him too.
I see Rani and let my glance slide past his smoothly, past his face and right down to the fingers tapping restlessly against his leg. He's tapping out the signal for "You OK?" I bring my hands together and scratch my right palm with my fingernails. "Fine." Then there's no more time, as the Ushpani hired guns are urging us onward.
I'm still embarrassed at how easy it was for them to grab us. Revisiting my home town churned up a lot of memories and emotions, not all of them pleasant, and I was not as alert as I should have been. Plus, there was Patrick. I saw his sandy hair and mischievous grin from across the café, saw the recognition in his face as he saw me, and suddenly lost my nerve. I pretended I hadn't seen him, heading for Rani instead. I guess my distraction let me miss the signs, miss the telltale scatter of brown jackets across the room and the group of dark-haired men and women clustered oh-so-casually outside the door. They didn't act until we finished our food, paid the bill, and pushed our way through the swinging doors to the sidewalk.
Four hands grabbed my arms, taking me totally by surprise. I struggled wildly, all my training gone from my head, until they had my hands cuffed in front of me. Then something clicked and I smoothly stepped forward and brought my knee up between the bastard's legs. He doubled over, gasping, and I turned and kicked out, bringing my handcuffs down across another face. That was long enough for them to get over their surprise and swarm me. The last thing I remember before they stuck me with the drug is seeing a protesting Patrick being hauled from the café in cuffs. Everyone else, of course, was silent. That's the way the New States work you stay quiet or they haul you away, too.
A barked command brings me back to the present. I'm walking behind Patrick, watching him struggle to limp quickly enough on his bad leg. In spite of everything, he still has that casual, easy manner that was always his trademark. He could be on his way to the library, not being marched along at gunpoint. I can hear Rani's quiet footsteps behind me and struggle to imitate them.
The house is surprisingly big. We walk for at least ten minutes and go up one and a half flights of stairs before they stop abruptly at a small door set into the wall of a landing. They pull me forward and I hear Rani's voice in my head. They always question the woman first. Thinking, of course, that either the weak woman will break or the chivalrous man will not allow her to suffer. Luckily, I'm not weak and Rani is not chivalrous. They push me into the room, leaving Patrick and Rani outside. The door closes with a heavy thud and suddenly my mouth is dry.
It seems like a long time before we hear anything from the other side of the door, though it's probably only five minutes or so. Then there's a crack and another sound that might be a yelp of pain. My fists clench in reaction, but I force myself to relax when one of our escorts gives me a warning look. The silence is eerie. The men don't make small talk or even look at each other. They just watch us, eyes hard and bright in scarred faces that have seen this situation play out many times before, and listen to the sounds coming through the door. Finally, there is a pause, and two knocks come from the inside of the door. Scarface grabs me and pushes me through, closing the door as he follows.
The first thing I see is Lissa's back, crisscrossed with red welts. They have let her keep her skirt, but her shirt hangs in tatters where it was cut down the middle of her back. She is bound hand and foot, arms hoisted above her head by a rope running to the ceiling, with tension in every line of her body. They've put some kind of cloth sack over her head. A woman, tall and dressed in some kind of military uniform, stands near her holding the whip.
"My dear Mr. Duffen, how nice to meet you at last!"
The voice startles me and I whip around, almost losing my balance. The man rising from behind the desk is not physically imposing average height, with grey hair and beard and a telltale tremor in one hand but he doesn't need to be. I recognize him from the newscasts.
"Everyone calls me Duff, Mayor Bland." I was going for nonchalant and casual, but my voice sticks in my throat and I have to repeat myself.
"Well then, Duff," and he made it sound somehow accusing, "I think the question on everybody's mind is how exactly you come to be here today."
I'm still trying to play innocent. "I couldn't be sure, but I think it might have something to do with the men grabbing me from the café."
Bland smiles slowly and cocks his head like a dog. "Yes, but why? Why did you try to interfere with the arrest of two known criminals wanted for numerous offenses? What connection do you have to Miss Henry here?"
Two known criminals. My tongue gets twisted up inside my mouth. I knew the Ushpan family had a lot of influence, but using their private police to arrest criminals? Holding us not in the city jail but in a private jail in some undetermined location? This whole situation is beginning to stink.
Bland gestures to the woman with the whip, who cracks it across Lissa's back. I flinch, and a muffled mmph comes from under the hood.
"Well, Mr. Duffen?"
The truth seems easiest. I wet my lips with my tongue. "I know her from school. We had a lot of classes together."
"And that's all she is to you? A former classmate from what, 10 years ago?" He gestures again. Crack. Flinch. Mmph.
This deal with the whip is making me flustered despite my best efforts. My voice comes out higher than I want it to. "Yes! Just a classmate!" Crack. Flinch. Mmmmmph.
"Do you go to these lengths to protect all of your former classmates, Mr. Duffen?," the man all but purrs. Sick fuck is enjoying this. He pulls a coil of rope from a desk drawer and makes his way over to Lissa. I am intensely aware of Scarface standing behind me and my tongue disengages from my brain.
"OK, you got me, I always wanted to be more than classmates but she was never interested in the cripple." Lissa jerks at this and her head swivels towards me. I can't believe I just said that out loud.
"Lower her hands," Bland crisply commands Whip-Woman. She obediently unties the rope and lets Lissa's hands drop. Bland's hands flash as he slips a noose around her neck.
The next few moments are confused as I charge forward and am restrained by Scarface. We struggle I may have a bad leg, but I'm still pretty damn strong and I break away only to see Lissa's heels leave the ground. She's balanced on the balls of her feet, and I can hear her struggling to breathe.
"Contain yourself, Mr. Duffen, or I'll give this rope a jerk and break her neck."
This would all be very thrilling if I wasn't so scared. The whipping was unpleasant, but I've endured worse on the training ground. Patrick's unexpected announcement, so closely followed by the noose jerking me into the air, has my head spinning and for a moment I can't process what's happening. My body seems to know what it wants, though, and I feel the familiar flush of blood signaling arousal. This is an amazingly bad time for my kinky side to kick in. I try to concentrate on standing as still as possible on the balls of my feet. Losing my balance will not be pleasant.
I hear a thud and a groan. Patrick? Yes, I hear him swearing in New Gaelic. He can't be hurt too badly if he's swearing. The pressure on my neck eases a little.
"You know, Mr. Duffen, you may just be telling the truth." Bland sounds thoughtful. "Siff, take the males back to their cell for now and give them some food. I'm going to keep Miss Henry for a little while to do some ah extended questioning."
I roll my eyes, even though no one can see it. "Extended questioning"? He's worse than a 2060 3-D villain. At the same time, I'm sending urgent thoughts to Patrick. Go. Go now. Don't be stupid and chivalrous. Go. Apparently he hears me, because he gets up without a word and I hear the telltale drag of his bad foot as he goes out, accompanied by two other sets of footsteps.
The rope tightens again, and I feel Bland's hand on my chest. He twists and mauls my breast through the fabric of the shirt, and I can't help but flinch a little. And get aroused a little. Damn libido.
"The lovely Miss Lissa, SSI agent extraordinaire. I've always heard that SSI girls have certain ah tastes, and I'm so delighted to find that it's true."
My irritation stops the arousal in its tracks. He jerks the noose a little tighter, and I can feel my face turning red. His hand wanders down to my skirt and then underneath it, stroking my lips slowly in time with little pulls on the rope. He's standing close behind me and I can feel the hardness of his erection pressing into me. I would recoil in disgust if I could. Against my will, however, the adrenaline rush from the lack of air is making his probing have some effect.
"Ah, there we go. It's always nice to find such an ah - accommodating lady." His fingers are going deeper, and I'm getting close to blacking out. If my hands were free, I would punch his fucking face in. Especially if he says "ah" one more time. I feel myself struggling reflexively as survival instinct takes over.
He relaxes the rope just before the blackout point, but continues to hold me tight against him, fingers shoved up my cunt. I realize he's trying to grind his cock into my struggling backside, and promptly go as still as possible. It isn't hard, given how exhausted I am. He hisses.
"Well, perhaps we need a little ah encouragement." He drops me. Luckily the noose is no longer tight, because I stumble and almost fall. Being nearly strangled will do that. He yanks the rope attached to my wrists, and I feel like I might dislocate a shoulder. He leaves my heels on the floor, but pulls the rope tight.
I feel steel touch me and I jump, but he's only cutting my clothes away with swift angry strokes. He drops my shirt without ceremony and attacks my skirt. It feels strange to be so abruptly naked and unable to do anything about it. I can hear Bland's breathing getting heavier as my skirt falls to the ground.
There's nothing for a minute or two. I wish he would take the hood off. When I hear the rustle of the whip, I have almost no time to prepare. I manage not to scream as the pain resounds through my body. The next stroke comes faster, and the next immediately after that. Each one is laid atop the welts from the earlier whipping, which have had time to become really nice and tender. Also, unlike the controlled strokes of the first whipping, I can feel these breaking the skin. I'm going to have some interesting scars.
He starts to branch out from my back. Stomach and thighs are the obvious targets, and I'm gritting my teeth trying to stay in control. Then he goes for the breasts, and I scream at last. He gets excited and one stroke goes wild, laying my cheek open. He continues to beat me until I collapse, sagging into the rope holding me up. Control is nowhere. Score 1 Bland. Then, mercifully, I lose consciousness again.