Her New World
Staci woke slowly, the drug in her system still keeping her relaxed as consciousness came back to her. She opened her eyes, or thought she did, but blackness remained and it took a little while for her numb skin to register that something covered her eyes. Something was in her mouth too, something spongy and tasteless. It resisted any attempt to be shoved out by her tongue, and it prevented her from saying anything. As feeling returned, she also recognized that there was a strap around her head that held a gag in place.
As her fuzzy thinking grew clearer, she wondered what Janis had sprayed on her. Not only had it knocked her out, but it had also numbed her body to the point that she couldn't feel much beyond her own face, although her toes and fingers were now tingling. The drug was keeping her relaxed enough that Staci wasn't yet scared, but she was puzzled as to why Janis had done such a thing.
And what about Bob McKinly? Surely he had seen what Janis had done, couldn't he have stopped the man? Maybe he had, she wondered. Maybe even now Bob was taking care of Janis for her, leaving her here to recover by herself. But that didn't explain the blindfold or the gag, and where was here anyway?
One thing Staci could do was listen, and she felt she had a pretty good chance of telling where she was just by the sounds the ship made. She could tell that she was still on the ship by the noise of the air circulation fans, unmistakable and unique to each vessel. But exactly where was a little beyond her at the moment. She could also tell that she was still weightless, another unmistakable feeling.
The tingle in her extremities was becoming more pronounced as feeling continued to return, and Staci felt the need to move, to scratch a hundred itches. But try as she might she couldn't bring her hands down, couldn't do much of anything. At first she thought it might be a side affect of the spray, but she slowly realized that the reason she couldn't move was because her arms and legs were held in position by something. She was really starting to grow concerned now.
Tugging and pulling was doing her no good, and as she continued to come back to reality she figured out that she was bound in a spread eagle position, arms and legs wide apart. She was also sure that whatever held her wrists and ankles was also the only thing touching her body, for she felt no contact with anything either in front or behind her.
Nothing at all.
Not even clothing.
As the tingling all over her skin finally faded away she became sure that she was nude, for she could feel the air blowing from one of the registers across her body. Air in a weightless environment had to be kept moving or else people could suffocate in their own exhaust. So fans were everywhere, stirring it all up.
Staci began to moan into her gag and to struggle some more, but she was still trapped. Fully conscious now, she knew that she was in an extremely vulnerable position, about as physically vulnerable as a woman could get. Naked and spread, not a part of her body was defensible. Whoever put her here would have no problems touching her anywhere he pleased.
Staci couldn't fathom why though!
Obviously, both men had to be in on it. There was no way for Janis to hide the fact that he had Staci tied up naked someplace. This was a big ship but not that big. So McKinly had to be a part of this, and Staci couldn't believe it of the man. She worried that maybe Janis had done something to him too, and when she realized that she wasn't going anywhere she stopped struggling and listened to hear if Bob was in the same room as her. She convinced herself that Janis had gone nuts and had kidnapped both her and Bob McKinly, and that the entire mission was in jeopardy. It was the only thing that made sense, for any other scenario was simply mad! If both Janis and McKinly were together on this, then sure the two men could easily have their way with her during the flight. But when it came time for the rest of the colonists to be awakened, there would be no way they could hide what they'd done; unless they figured they could convince Staci not to talk. Or maybe they wouldn't bother. Perhaps their plan was for Staci to have a convenient accident just before arrival at Elvira. Perhaps they would rig it so her hibernation unit failed. Who would ever know the truth?
Panicked, Staci started pulling hard on her bonds, but she was well and truly stuck, floating spread eagle in the middle of a room in deep space. Eventually though, the panic attack passed, and Staci let herself go limp, exhausted and getting nowhere. She stayed like that for a long time.
Sitting on the flight deck, continuing his work, Bob McKinly watched Staci's struggles on one of the monitors. He knew that he still had mixed feelings about what was planned for the girl, but he also had to admit that she was engaging his interest.
Janis had done a great job stringing her up in the mess room, bonding cuffs to her wrists and ankles and connecting them with monocord to four separate points in the room. For an amateur, Janis had a remarkable aptitude for bondage and Bob had to give him a nod. Staci looked like she was floating completely free, her strong-looking nude body spread out like an X. Bob knew that such a position on Earth couldn't be held for very long due to gravity causing stress in hips, shoulders and neck. But here in zero-g, there was no such stress, and like a certain Marine back at the space station, Bob liked what the lack of gravity did to Staci's breasts.
As he worked he found his eyes drawn more and more to the figure on the screen and he watched her come to consciousness and go through her struggles. He could almost tell what she was thinking as he watched her twist, then relax, then attempt to get free once more. Many times he had watched other women go through the same thing, for it was true that Bob was no stranger to placing women in this position without their cooperation. But Bob had always managed to work it out with them by the end, either by helping them believe that they had not come to harm after all, or by paying off those who failed to be amused. But Staci was going to be a different problem unless she learned to accept her new situation, and he hoped that somehow, Staci would forgive him for what he had to do.
There was a buzz on the com. "Hey Bob! I'm done back here now. Everything's on full auto and should be good for the next five years. How about we celebrate?"
"I'm not quite done up here yet," Bob replied, looking away from the monitor.
"Well too bad," Janis said, "because the work is done and I'm ready to test drive our new plaything; unless of course, you have some other make-work projects in mind."
Bob didn't reply. Sure, he had kept Dick Janis off Staci for the last full day by keeping the man busy with stuff Staci should have been doing. But he had nothing legitimate that needed Janis' attention. Bob wasn't even sure why he was stalling the other man. Had Maxine been aboard, Janis would have had her a long time past by now, for that was one of Maxine's duties as one of the flight crew.
"Sure," he said eventually, "go enjoy yourself. But remember to take it easy on her. Kent wants her intact."
"Yeah, I know. I'll be nice and gentle," Janis replied with a chuckle, and signed off.
As Bob worked on, he thought that maybe his present attitude wasn't due to Staci, but to Janis. The man was an asshole, Bob thought, and by rights shouldn't have been a part of the group that Kent carefully assembled for this trip to the new world. Bob had known Alan Kent for years, as had almost every man on the ship. Bob had worked with Kent, played with Kent, discovered things about himself that he had never known, because of Kent. His true calling, and the realization that life on Earth was no longer true to the natural order of things, were both made known to him by Kent and his friends. Bob knew he might have disagreements with the man about a few of his methods, but deep down Bob McKinly was loyal to his friend, Alan Kent.
Dick Janis on the other hand, had no such connection. If he hadn't had been the inventor of the drive system that made the trip possible, Janis would never have gotten a seat for the flight. He was undisciplined and unsophisticated, despite the excellent brain in his head. He also had a much cruder view of the newfound truth that Bob had so recently discovered and embraced. Bob hesitated to think about what contributions a man like Janis would make to their new community.
Movement on the monitor caught his eye.
Staci was now completely awake, and had been for sometime. She tried calling out, but the gag in her mouth was very effective at keeping her silent. All she could do was float in her position, alternating from periods of calm to periods of near panic. She wondered what was going to happen to her and how long she had to live.
A sound in the room jerked her attention away from her plight. It was breathing, heavy breathing. Staci cocked her head and listened as the breather moved closer to her.
She tried to pull her legs together, aware that whoever it was had an unobstructed view, but her bonds were as inflexible now as they were when she first woke up. She moaned in fright at being unable to do anything.
She felt fingers on her bare stomach, fingers that caressed her skin and ran down one hip, confirming to Staci that she was indeed naked. She shuddered under the touch of her captor and tried to beg release.
She heard him laugh, and could tell that it was Janis who was touching her. That knowledge didn't comfort her. Instead the stab of fear that had been in her heart began to grow.
She felt him run his hands over her body, pulling, prodding, and she shuddered once more. For a year she had endured the looks this man had given her, the last few days being the worst. But now he had her in his power, had her in a position she could do nothing about. It was a worst nightmare situation and she began to cry.
Then suddenly the air was driven out of her as she gasped, for he had without warning, plunged a finger into her dry sex. The pain of his entry made her yell into the gag, and she heard him laugh one more as he twisted and thrust his finger in and out of her.
"Kinda tight there, cunt!" she heard him say, his mouth just inches from her face. "Pretty dry too. What's the matter, don't you like me?" He laughed and pulled his finger out of her, leaving her alone for a minute.
Staci caught her breath and wondered what he was doing. She wished she didn't have the blindfold on; it wouldn't have been so bad if she could at least see what she was going through.
She felt his presence between her legs and felt something cold being sprayed on her.
"There, we'll give that a minute or so," he said.
It didn't take a minute. Staci felt a burning sensation quickly build up on her vaginal lips, and she groaned in response. She began twisting and pulling in an attempt to bring a hand down to massage her now throbbing sex, but it was no use. Instead she felt Janis touch her once more, this time easily slipping his finger into her.
"This stuff always works. Never met a cunt it couldn't bring to life!" he said with a chuckle.
Floating in torture, Staci heard the rustle of clothing being removed, and became aware of Janis hovering right in front of her. She felt fingers at her nipples, his hot breath on her neck, and something bumping against her soft and now well lubricated pussy.
He began thrusting at her, attempting to gain entry with his cock, but it was evident from his efforts that the man wasn't adept at zero-g sex. His fumbled attempts soon gave way to frustration, and he resorted to wrapping his arms around her so he could gain purchase.
Staci was glad, once he had entered her, that her contraceptive shot was still active for another six months. The thought of his rape producing a child was more than she thought she could take. It was enough to just float there and be taken like a piece of meat, unable to protest, unable to say no. She felt her self-worth plummet as she listened to the man insult her as he fucked her, and by the time he was done she was numb.
Janis seemed satisfied though, at least sexually. He smacked his lips as if he had just eaten a great meal, and pulled away from her with a wet plop.
The engineer in Staci wondered if their fluids would damage the environmental systems, but she figured that the filters would take care of it okay for they were designed to capture accidental spills. The engineer part of Staci's mind was all that was active at the moment, the rest having gone into hiding. The rape, the humiliation, all that would be dealt with later. What her mind needed to do now was simply survive.
Janis didn't seem done though, for he suddenly began slapping her all over her body. He would insult her, complaining about some way she was supposed to have slighted him during training, and he would swat her hard with an open hand. Most often he spanked her breasts or her ass or her still burning sex, and each time he did Staci would yelp and try to pull away. It was a nightmare for her and she wanted nothing more than for it to stop.
"Dick!" yelled a voice from the other side of the room. Staci turned her head, it was Bob McKinly.
"About time you got done," Janis said, "you want your turn? I got her ready for you!" He smacked her pussy hard and laughed.
"Get away from her," Bob said, sounding angry to the blindfolded girl.
"What's the matter Bob, don't you like sloppy seconds?"
"What I don't like is you beating her when Kent ordered you to keep her intact!"
"The hell I'm beating her! Just getting her attention, that's all!" Janis said angrily, swatting her right breast hard.
Staci wasn't sure what happened next, but if she had been able to see she would have seen McKinly launch himself across the room to tackle the still-naked Dick Janis, pushing the man away from her. They collided with a wall and Bob grabbed Janis's testicles and began to squeeze.
"Listen here, asshole," he said, knowing he had the man's attention. "Fuck her you can, but beat her you can't. Save that for your own women, or for when Kent says it's okay with this one!"
Janis looked Bob in the eye, "What's the matter with you, Bob? This was nothing but harmless fun!"
Bob squeezed a little harder.
"Ow! Okay, okay! Deal!"
Bob let him go and pushed himself away, his own anger evident in his eyes. "Get dressed, the fun is over for now," he ordered. "Get our hibernation units ready."
Janis scowled, but reached for his pants. "I don't understand you Bob. I've seen you handle a whip, you can make 'em cum from pain alone, and you're hassling me over a few swats!"
Bob didn't answer him, but he was thinking much the same thing. He waited until Janis left and then approached Staci who still floated as they had left her. He could see that she was scared, her body stiff with fear. So he gently placed his hands on her and began a gentle rubbing motion.
"I know," he whispered, "I know that all this is a shock to you. That you are wondering what is happening and that you even fear for your life. I'm sorry, that you have to feel that way. But you are now a part of something you may never truly understand, and there is nothing you can do about it but accept it and learn to live with it. This may or may not bring comfort to you, but I assure you that you aren't in any real danger. We don't want to kill you; we don't even want to hurt you. What happens to you is in many ways up to you and you alone. But one thing you have to realize and realize quickly is that your freedom is gone. Your life is no longer your own. Think about that."
Bob sighed and left the room.
Staci was still for a moment, Bob McKinly's words echoing through her brain. She was in no state to process what he had said, but his soothing tones and light touch had calmed her down a little. She didn't know what was going to happen to her now, but she vowed to survive it and get back at everyone who had wronged her. Holding onto that thought, she managed to pull herself together.
Someone came for her a while later, she didn't know how long and she didn't know who. She felt hands caress her skin once more and she tensed up. She was afraid she was going to get raped again and despite her earlier resolve her fear began to paralyze her once more. But the hands on her body simply brushed over her, rubbing gently, and as Staci calmed down she began to suspect that it was Bob touching her, not Dick Janis. She didn't think Janis had it in him to be that gentle, and after a short while she was able to relax again.
She tried to talk, to ask...no beg, for release. But her speech was nothing but muffled moans and she felt so frustrated that she had no control over what was happening to her. Bob had said, a million years ago, that her life was up to her. But she sure didn't feel that way.
Her suspicions about who was rubbing her were confirmed when she heard Bob say "You got it?"
"Yeah," said Janis who sounded like he was far across the room. "It's all charged up and ready to go. Want me to do it?"
"No, I'll do it. You just stay out of the way," Bob answered.
Staci started to breath harder. What did Janis have? Was it something that would hurt her? What were they planning?
She felt fingers at the back of her head.
"Close your eyes," Bob said quietly, "I'm taking off your blindfold."
Staci did as she was ordered and sure enough the blindfold was removed. Even with her eyes closed the light still seemed bright, and she had to squint as she tried to open them.
A sharp flash of pain licked her side and she screamed into her gag, pulling and tugging at her bonds.
Bob was yelling at Janis who was laughing.
"There was no need for that!" yelled Bob.
"The bitch needs to know she has to follow orders," Janis said. "Hey bitch! When you're told to close your eyes you keep them closed!"
"Just...forget it asshole, you're not worth it. Just keep your whip to yourself. I'm handling this!" Bob exclaimed.
Staci, her eyes tightly shut, felt Bob touch the place where she had evidently just been whipped. It stung like crazy and his probing the wound didn't help. She moaned into her gag for him to stop.
"It's okay, it's okay Staci. You're not cut. You're just going to have a nasty welt there for a few days. You can open your eyes now."
Staci did, slowly, letting her eyes adjust to the light. She could see Bob floating next to her, looking at her face. His expression was one of concern, but there was also anger there and Staci was afraid he was angry at her. But when Bob looked up his anger deepened and she realized that she wasn't the target of his ill will. She followed his gaze to where Janis floated in the doorway of the compartment. He had a big smile on his face and Staci saw that he had a whip coiled up at his hip. She watched his eyes as they deliberately scanned her naked body, and she felt sick knowing that he had taken her against her will.
"Look at me," Bob ordered. Staci turned to do just that.
"You have questions, I know. But there is no time for answers because we are all due in hibernation. But first we have to put this on you." He held up a metal ring, green in color, just the right size to go around her neck. Staci knew instinctively that it was a collar.
She tried to resist when Bob passed it around her neck, but of course could do nothing to stop him. She heard a click and knew she wouldn't be able to get it off without a key, or at least a tool of some sort. The engineer inside her immediately thought of three or four different tools she could use if she got the chance. But Bob was ahead of her apparently.
"You think you can get that off. Well, you might just be able to do that, but not before it killed you. It's a training collar, colored green because you're new to...our lifestyle. It's an active collar, programmed to help us with your training and discipline. This one is programmed to be voice operated by any man it can hear, but no woman can control it. Its voice recognition programming is pretty advanced, so don't think you can fool it with a recording. I don't have time right now to go into all the collar can do, but for now all you need to know are two things. First, with it we can discipline you anytime we want. Collar, four second shock!"
Staci suddenly felt like her entire body was being jabbed with thousands of needles, and she lost control as her body tried to get away from the torture.
It stopped by itself, but it took almost a minute for Staci to catch her breath and calm down.
"That is the punishment level. Longer shocks could kill you eventually, and it activates automatically if you fiddle with it," said Bob.
Staci looked him in the eye and saw that the man was deadly serious. She didn't know what was happening, but saw that what ever it was she wasn't getting away from it.
"The second thing it does is this. It can monitor your voice box and give you a shock anytime you try to talk. So when we want you silent, you will be silent. Right now, I want you silent. Collar, gag on!"
"Gag mode, on," said a tinny voice, and Staci closed her eyes. Of course the collar would have an AI chip.
"Now," continued Bob, "I'm going to unhook you and take that gag out of your mouth. You are to go with us directly to the hibernation room, where you will do your prep and get into your unit. You will not go anywhere else, you will not try anything, and you will not try to talk. All of that is punishable right now, and I don't think you want another shock. Right?"
Staci nodded. She certainly didn't want another shock, but she wasn't promising anything else.
Bob took the gag out of her mouth, and started with her ankles, undoing the lines that had held her in this vulnerable position for so long. He left the cuffs on her though, and as soon as she was able Staci curled up into a ball, hugging herself.
"Get moving, cunt!" Janis said, moving away from the door.
Staci looked at him, working her stiff jaw. She had a few things to say to him and was tempted to try out the collar, but the look in both the men's eyes told her that would be a bad move. So she pushed against a wall and drifted out of the room.
She was very aware of her nudity as she made her way to where the hibernation units were. The eyes of both the men on her body made her very uncomfortable, and she tried to shield herself as best she could, even though she knew there wasn't much point to it. She looked behind her to see that both men were in fact following her closely, and she shuddered as she entered the room with the hibernation units in it.
Preparing to use one of those things was a messy, personal business, and a certain amount of modesty was lost anyway. But before, she could have handled the clinical exercise with a joke or at least the illusion that both her crewmates were being gentlemen about it. But now she had to put up with Janis openly staring at her, while Bob helped her.
At one point though, she looked Bob in the eye, and spread her arms, indicating the ship. Bob caught on.
"The ship is fine," he said. "All the checklists have been done and it's all set up to run by itself for the next five years. Once we're all asleep the environmental systems will drop to minimum and we'll be good to go. We're okay."
Staci looked at him and nodded. She thought it strange that she had remembered to ask about the ship, but she was about to go to sleep for five years and she needed to know that she would wake up again.
Bob helped her into her unit and started the cycle, watching until she was too far into it to stop the process herself. He was pissed that the girl was here to go through all this, but he knew her best...her only chance, was to be trained.
He looked at Janis, "Okay, Dick, your turn."
"You really have a hard-on for her, don't you?" Janis said, not moving.
"She deserved to make her own choice, not have it thrust upon her," Bob replied.
"Bullshit. This is more than just your outrage talking. You have a thing for her." He raised his hands. "Hey, I don't have a problem with it. As you said, I have two bitches of my own back in cold storage. But don't think that just because you like her that I won’t get to use her once and a while!"
"Well, that depends, doesn't it," Bob McKinly said, his face blank.
"Depends on what?"
"On whether you survive hibernation."
Janis's face turned red, "Listen here, you fucker. Don't threaten me. You need me for the deceleration burn; you can't do it without me. So you'd better pray I survive!"
"Sure," said Bob, and he turned away from his partner to get himself ready for hibernation. Bob knew that they would probably get through it, but he got a little satisfaction yanking Janis's chain. Bob had never approved of Janis joining the group, but no one else knew the drive system the way he did. There was no other choice. Still, there were two more hibernation periods after this one, because every five years the crew was scheduled to wake up, spend a week checking over the ship and then going back to sleep. The danger in hibernation wasn't the length of the sleep so much, but the going in and coming out. That was why everybody else was staying under until they reached Elvira.
Bob knew that all three of them were risking death going under so often, and he had even thought about keeping Staci under for the rest of the journey. But maybe, he thought, he'd get lucky with Janis. He smiled.
Bob, being the Captain, was the last one to go under after seeing Janis safely into hibernation. He took one last look about his ship, and one last look at the naked body of Staci, visible through the cowling of her unit, and then went to bed.
It was a long night.
A person normally wakes from hibernation slowly, like a great bear stirring in its cave. Rushing the job is dangerous and only done in emergencies, but normally the process takes a couple of hours from start to finish.
Staci woke later than normal, some people were like that, but her mind was immediately alert, and she remembered everything that had happened to her before she went to sleep. She reached up to her neck, her arm feeling stiff despite the hibernation therapies that looked after a sleeping body while it rested, and felt the collar about her neck. She groaned. Her movement triggered a sensor inside her hibernation unit, and after checking to make sure there was air outside, the canopy opened.
The first thing Staci focused on was Bob McKinly, already cleaned up after his long sleep from what she could see. He was dressed in the standard ship's jumpsuit, which made Staci once more aware that she was naked. But she didn't move, half afraid to and half in defiance.
Bob had been going over a checklist on his palm pad, but he looked up when Staci's canopy opened and smiled. "Good, you're awake," he said. "Collar, gag off!"
"Gag mode, off," said the voice at her throat.
"How are you feeling?" Bob asked her.
Staci didn't answer, she just stared at him.
"You can talk, the collar won't shock you," Bob said pleasantly.
"What was all that, back there?" Staci whispered, her own voice a little dry from her hibernation.
Bob shook his head, "Now isn't the time for questions, but we'll get to them eventually. Right now we have systems checks to run. We got through the five years with no problems so far..."
"You've got to be kidding!" interrupted Staci. "After what you did to me you still expect me to work for you like nothing happened?"
"Yes, I do," replied her Captain, his smile fading. "Your job, your primary job, the one that got you on this trip, is to work as one of the Mayflower's flight crew; you, me, and Dick Janis. It's our job to see that this ship makes it to Elvira in one piece."
"But...you raped me, or at least Janis did with your help! You can't seriously expect me to help you now!" Staci exclaimed.
"Can't I?" said McKinly. He frowned and moved closer to the nude woman, floating almost inside her hibernation unit with her. "Let me explain a few things, girl. Traveling with us on this ship are three hundred people who are depending on us to do our jobs. While it is true that we trained in the simulator for Janis and I to make the trip alone, the odds would be a hell of a lot better if you worked with us as well. Not to mention the fact that your own life, as well as ours, is affected by whether we get there in one piece. So if you don't want to work for me and Janis, then come to work for the rest of the group!" He paused and looked her in the eye for a moment. "Of course, if that isn't enough to satisfy you, I can always go the other route and use the collar to get you going. Failing that, I know Janis would be happy to work on you a while."
Staci paled at that last comment, and Bob could see that she was scared to death of the other man. He was also amused to note that he failed to generate a similar response in the girl. He thought he could use that. He still didn't like how Alan Kent had thrust him into this position, but he was going to do his best to control it from this point on. It was the kind of man he was.
He moved back slightly, "So, which is it, you do your job, or I let Dick Janis come and convince you?"
"You keep that asshole away from me...and I'll do what you want," Staci whispered.
Bob thought about her offer for a moment. "I can't promise to keep him off you, after all, he was promised certain...favors, by Kent, which Maxine would have gladly fulfilled had she made the trip. But considering you're still green," he said with a smile, gesturing at her green collar, "I'll make sure he doesn't go overboard with you. You'll probably just have to fuck him every once and a while."
"You don't call that overboard?" asked the girl.
Bob snorted, "For a man like Janis that is hardly getting started!"
"What about you, are you going to fuck me too?"
Bob paused, then he smiled. He deliberately looked her entire body up and down. Then, without replying, he pushed himself away across the compartment to a set of lockers. He opened one and took out a jumpsuit which he tossed at her.
"Go clean up and grab a food pack from the mess. You know what your duties are, Major. I know that you'll do the right thing. But be warned, if sabotage is on your mind, then remember that whatever you do will affect the fate of everyone on this ship. Could you handle the thought of being responsible for everybody's death?" That said he exited the compartment, leaving Staci alone.
Staci wasn't sure what to do. She was confused by what these men had done to her, yet he was right about her sense of duty being strong enough not to let the sleeping passengers down. It wasn't like she could plan an escape. Even if she could fire the main drive and turn the ship around, celestial mechanics denied them the window to reunite with the Earth. All she would do was strand them all. There was nothing she could do to the ship that would improve her situation one bit, except kill herself, and she didn't feel that far gone...yet.
Still thinking however, Staci pushed herself out of the hibernation unit and toward the shower. She had to figure out how to get out of the position the men had put her in. How to get out of this electronic collar around her neck. How to get out of becoming their slave!
Much refreshed after cleaning off the remains of the hibernation gel that had helped keep her alive the past five years, Staci made it to the flight deck in her new jumpsuit, but barefoot because she couldn't find any shoes. While in the shower she tried to examine the collar on her neck, but it was too close fitting for her to look at it without a mirror, and too smooth to feel any detail. She did get a good look at the flexible cuffs on her wrists and ankles, and she had to sigh. It looked to her that they were made out of Ceramit, a hybrid metal/mineral compound that was used to make hull material for spacecraft. Flexible until heated and cured, even in this state the stuff was almost indestructible, yet it bonded to itself with only simple glue. It would be easier for her to take off her hands and feet and put them back on again, than to remove the cuffs. She was stuck with them.
Bob wasn't on the flight deck when Staci arrived, and she looked longingly at the communications panel. Even if she couldn't do anything, she could at least tell Earth what was going on. They wouldn't get the message for another few years, but at least they would know. But the panel's display told her plainly that it was locked down, Captain's code only. Staci figured she could break it, but it would take time she didn't have right then. She put the idea aside for another time.
She donned a headset and logged into the ship's computer, checking in with Janis working back in the drive section.
"Hey! It's the slut!" Janis said over the com. " Welcome back to the land of the living, cunt! You looked real sweet sleeping there in your pod. Got a few pictures of you nice and naked to send to the folks back home!" He laughed and Staci ground her teeth together.
"Just shut the fuck up, Janis, and leave me alone," she replied.
"You have to learn some manners, cunt! Collar, training aide L1."
"Training aide L1," the collar repeated.
"Wha..." Staci started to say, when the collar gave her a two second shock that left her gasping for breath.
Over the com, she could hear Janis laughing.
"You..." she managed before the collar shocked her again, this time for four seconds. When it was over she lay stunned, unable to move for several seconds.
"Bit of a surprise, ain't it!” crowed Janis. "You can talk, but the first word out of your mouth each time had better be 'Master'. You were told the collar would help train you. Well classes start right now, babe!"
"If..." Staci tried to say, but she got another shock, this time eight seconds long, that actually knocked her out for a minute.
"It'll double the shock time every time you screw it up, until you get it right," Janis said, laughter in his voice.
Staci didn't want to say it, she didn't want to get trained. But she also truly didn't want to be shocked again. "Master...you're a prick," she finally said, risking his wrath.
Instead Janis laughed, "The biggest and best one you'll ever take in that cunt of yours! But don't get cocky, there's a lot more that collar can do to fix your language skills!"
Staci was about to reply, but Bob, who had been listening in, had had enough.
"Get back to work the both of you. We have a lot to do yet!" he ordered. So Staci shut up and reluctantly turned to the first of her checklists.
Staci's next few hours were agonizing and humiliating, she couldn't even address the ship's computer without calling it 'Master' first. Every time she opened her mouth to talk she had to preface whatever she was going to say with that loathsome word, even if all she had to say was 'yes'. But as time went on she began to subconsciously slip the word 'Master' into the beginning of every sentence, although from time to time the collar gave her a two second shock whenever she slipped up. As the day went by, even she could testify to the effectiveness of the training.
This went on for several days as the three of them went about giving the ship its five-year service. Staci was thankful that there was so much to do, there was little time for so-called fun and games. But still Janis got his kicks at her expense, although Bob rarely touched her, instead making sure that Janis was too busy to do much more than harass her.
One thing Janis did early on was take the jumpsuit away, forcing her to work naked except for her collar and cuffs. He would then take every opportunity to paw her body, poking his fingers into her and laughing. She spent half her meal times with the engineer, sucking on his dick rather than eating. In her life before, she hadn't minded doing this for her lovers, but she hated doing it for Janis, especially when he grabbed her hair and pumped her head manually. Occasionally he'd finish up with a quick fuck that did nothing for her at all, not that she wanted any satisfaction from him.
Bob, on the other hand, shied away from any sexual contact with her, and Staci was puzzled by that. Certainly she couldn't stop him if she wanted, the control the collar had over her humbled her greatly, but he never went further than the occasional light petting.
Instead, he concentrated on enslaving her mind, rather than her body. She got little sleep during her rest periods due to his using them for her training, utilizing the collar to have her do repetitive and demeaning tasks, such as standing or kneeling on command. Hard to train for in a null gravity, but she managed all the same, the collar able to track her body movements. When she slept, she was locked in her hibernation unit.
All in all it was a mind and body numbing experience for Major Staci Mann, one she had never expected to have happen to her. But at least she found out why, when during one training session, Bob McKinly opened up.
They were on the flight deck, Bob on duty, monitoring Janis as the engineer manually checked hibernation units for mechanical defects, something which needed to be done for all three hundred of them before the crew could go back into hibernation.
Staci was supposed to be sleeping, for the three person crew slept in staggered shifts, two on duty at any one time. But for now she knelt against the 'floor' of the flight deck, a bungee cord keeping her from drifting away. She was sweating from her work out, and just wanted to sleep. But Bob McKinly's story started to wake her up.
"I suppose we owe you a bit of an explanation," he said, out of the blue.
"Master, yes you do!" Staci replied.
Bob nodded and closed his eyes, composing his thoughts. "Back in 1620, the Mayflower sailed from England to the new world, carrying with it a people who thought themselves persecuted by the laws of the time and by the hatred of their way of life. They sought a place where they could live in freedom, a place where they could live the way they wanted to, worship the way they felt was right, and exercise the moral values they thought the rest of the known world had left behind. These people, were willing to risk all on the very hazardous undertaking of sailing in a wooden ship across a stormy sea, to a place they could only imagine. They were, in my opinion, some of the bravest people the Earth had ever produced, risking all that was known for all that was unknown.
“They succeeded. They built a land they were proud of, and even if others that followed them tried to pollute what they had built, their standards and ideals stood in that country for hundreds of years." He paused, looking at Staci who floated in a kneeling position as she had recently been taught to do.
"The Earth has changed a lot since then," he continued, "but in many ways it hasn't changed at all. The known world is crowded. Everybody eats now that world hunger has pretty much been wiped out. Populations are booming, but are people happy? We've had three major wars in the past twenty years. Countries now able to feed all their people are bursting at the seams and looking to their neighbors for more room. There is little or no privacy to be had on Earth right now, there just isn't any place left to get away from the others, not in this age of Ultra Band communication.
"Because of the population boom, a new morality has crept into the human race. Have you noticed? Sex, once publicly accepted after years of staying...under the covers...has gone back to being the bugaboo of polite society. It's fine between two consenting adults, as long as they keep it to themselves and use proper birth control. But bring your sexual habits out into the open and society not only frowns, it turns its back.
For counter culturists like ourselves, such an atmosphere is stifling. It becomes harder and harder for us to live how we feel life should be lived, for fear of society coming down on us and taking away everything we have. Yes, it's that bad. Of course, living the life you did, I doubt you noticed did you? But we felt it. So, when the planet circling Elvira was discovered to be able to support human life, it was as if God himself had given us our answer. A new world, untouched by human morality of any kind and so difficult to reach that it would remain pristine for maybe hundreds of years. All we needed to do was get to it! Enter Alan Kent, the leader of a special group of like-minded people, people feeling the persecution of society just as the pilgrims did back in 1620. A group of people with the resources to obtain the unobtainable, to build our own Mayflower and sail to a new world. And so, as you well know, a plan was formed, money was found, and here we are sailing through the cosmic ocean."
"Master," said Staci, "that's all fine and good. But I'm still a little bit fuzzy as to what you guys are all about unless your beliefs include kidnapping and rape."
Bob's expression grew a little darker, but he remained calm.
"Kidnapping, rape? Well, you have me there, and I wish you didn't. But that is certainly not what we are about. Not all of us at any rate. What we believe is that men and women were evolved to play certain roles in life, that men are the dominant sex, and that a woman's purpose is to serve her man. It sounds simple and base, I know, like something from a trashy John Norman novel. But for us, that is just the beginning of something we think is wonderful and right, and something the people of Earth could never admit to being good. Slavery across the globe was banished thirty years ago, so the idea of voluntary slavery just doesn't sit well back there anymore. Yes, I said voluntary. Every woman sleeping aboard this ship is here because she wants to be. No one was kidnapped, coerced, or raped into being here. No one that is, except you, Staci." He looked away from her, at his fingers which he placed together. "Kent should have told you this, given you the choice before we left Earth. But the man is so...he was so gung ho about making our window and making sure that we had the very best chance that I'm not surprised he didn't!"
"Master, why didn't you warn me?" Staci asked.
"I almost did, several times. But I couldn't because...because Kent threatened to replace me on the flight with my backup. He would have left me behind, and I just couldn't stay there any longer." He glanced at her briefly. "It was, selfish of me, I know. I bought my ride to the new world with your freedom."
Staci needed time to absorb all this. "Master, if you are so sorry about my being here, then why the training? Why the abuse? I'd be willing to live with you people, I'm committed to that anyway, but I can't live as a slave!"
Bob looked at her, "That's out of my hands for many reasons. But mostly because of the society we want to grow on that planet. A society where all women are subject to the rules of men, obedient, submissive, and loving. And that, I'm told, includes you!" he pushed himself from his seat, and floated to the deck in front of Staci. He took her upper arms and looked at her face. "You need this training, and you have to accept it. For it is how you will have to spend the rest of your life with us. Without it, you will be a disturbing influence, and I can't guarantee your safety."
"Master, my safety?"
"If you don't learn to go along, you will be forced to. There are many men like Janis on this trip, for whom the older ways of training a slave being hold more interest. Those men are not above using whips and other physical tortures to break your will, and if Kent feels that you aren't being brought to heel he will most likely turn you over to them, and there won't be a thing you can do about it. Don't underestimate that man. He's as ruthless as they come."
In Staci's eyes, Bob McKinly actually looked worried, which gave a weight to his words like nothing else could. She couldn't bear to look at him any longer so she dropped her gaze to the floor.
She heard Bob sigh, "Okay, enough for now. You have your answers and we won't talk about this again until landing. Just do the training and try not to antagonize Dick. Let's go put you to bed."
She went along meekly as Bob took her back to her hibernation unit, and she fell into a restless sleep thinking about her life as a slave among many slaves. The thought didn't make her happy.
The last day before going back into hibernation they spent prepping the ship for the slingshot maneuver that would take place while they all slept. They had to enter the close gravitational fields of not one, but two dwarf stars in order to take advantage of their unique gravitational properties. By coming in at the right angle the stars would accelerate the ship to almost twice its present speed and throw it back out into deep space on the correct course for Elvira. In turn, celestial mechanics which never gave away anything for free, would slow the rotation of both stars a tiny fraction of a percentage because energy could only be transferred, never created or destroyed. The trick was in the timing though, for both stars circled each other in a complicated dance, and the correct position for this maneuver only came around once every thirty years, hence the flight window for their launch. If their timing was off then they would get sent in a completely different direction, possibly to be lost forever in the vast reaches of space. So the Mayflower crew applied themselves to making sure they hit all the marks the way they were supposed to. But once all the work was done and the ship was in the right position, Bob McKinly put Staci and Janis into hibernation. None of them needed to be awake during the pass, either it would work or it wouldn’t. Besides, they didn’t have the stores aboard for any of them to stay awake for the time the maneuver would take. But it was disconcerting to all that they wouldn’t know until they woke up five years later if the slingshot had been successful.
After putting Staci and Janis away, Bob toured the ship one last time before spending a few minutes on the flight deck talking to Earth.
He composed a message detailing the work done, and included with it all the pictures and other readings taken by the Mayflower computer during the five year trip so far. He finished up with warm greetings from both Staci Mann and Dick Janis, but he said nothing of course about Staci's new position aboard the flight. No one on Earth needed to know.
The signal was still winging its way to Earth while Bob put himself to sleep, years away from reaching their target.
It seemed to Staci that her world was red and white, but never at the same time. First it was red, then it was white, and then red again.
It took her a few minutes before her sleepy brain caught on to the fact that a red light was flashing over her hibernation canopy. It took a few more seconds to remember that this was a bad thing.
She waved her arm to let the sensors know she was awake and alert, but the canopy didn't open automatically this time. Instead, a computer voice told her that atmospheric conditions outside the unit were not yet tolerable for humans.
In a slight panic, Staci tried to demand more information. But she had forgotten the collar and her first word triggered a shock. Staci silently cursed and rephrased her question.
"Master, give me more details on the current emergency," she ordered.
"All command functions for this unit have been suspended," replied the voice. Staci was pissed. They wanted her to do her job but their paranoia had cut her off from the ship's computer. Fuming, she waited for what seemed like an hour before her canopy finally opened, and once it did she knew immediately what the problem had been. She smelled smoke.
Pushing out of the hibernation unit, she saw that both McKinly and Janis were exiting at the same time, as trapped as she had been until the computer let them go. Both men were nude, as you had to be while in hibernation, and it was the first time Staci had gotten to see Bob McKinly without clothes. She reflected more on this later, but at that time she was more concerned about the emergency.
"Master, what is it?" she asked Bob, heading to a locker.
"The computer reports that we had an impact event during the tail end of the slingshot," Bob replied, opening a locker and pulling out a jumpsuit. "Something got past our inertial shields and holed us aft someplace. Caused a small fire back there in section 82. It's out now, the computer just opened that compartment to space, but there are mechanical difficulties we need to deal with."
“Master, are we on course?” Staci asked, voicing what was on all their minds.
Bob shook his head, “I don’t know yet. But that isn’t important right now. On course or not we still have to deal with the present emergency.”
"Master, I tried to get a report, but you'd cut me off from the computer," Staci said angrily. She pulled open a locker to grab a jumpsuit of her own, but a strong arm shoved it closed again. It was Janis. "You stay naked, slut!" he said zipping up his own jumpsuit.
Staci gritted her teeth. She hated saying 'Master' every time she opened her mouth, but she especially hated saying it to Janis. "Master...this isn't the time or the place for your stupid games. We've got a job to do."
"I’ve got a job to do!" Janis said angrily. "You get your ass up to the flight deck and keep out of my way until I call for you!"
"No," Bob said, now dressed, "take her with you. I'll see to the flight deck."
Janis frowned, but did as he was ordered. Staci almost wished she didn't have to go.
The pair made quick time down the spine of the Mayflower to the aft section which really was pretty much Janis' domain. The two engineers accessed the flight systems and in coordination with Bob on the flight deck, quickly discovered that an emergency vent was ejecting coolant into space and hadn't closed on command. The hole made by the object that had crashed through their only shielding, had already been patched by a system designed to do just that, but the lack of computer control over a single valve could cost them the mission. If they lost too much coolant, they couldn't run the main drive at full burn to slow themselves down.
But Janis was in his element here, and impressed Staci with his command over the systems in this part of the ship. He soon had a solution, but Staci didn't like it.
"There is nothing else to do but bypass the valve," he said, "unfortunately, because of the control foul up, it can't be done without manually shutting it off first. There is a service duct, but guess what? It's the one you were bitching about before we left Earth!" Janis grinned and Staci groaned.
Service ducts for crew access were everywhere around the great engine. These weren't so much actual ducting, but spaces designed into the construction of the aft section big enough for a person to squeeze through in zero gravity, just in case some one had to actually go back there for some reason. These spaces, for the most part, followed the course of all the piping that circulated coolant, fuel, power, air, and dozens of other things to wherever they were needed. They were cramped and ill lit, but essential because without them there would be no way of making emergency repairs due to the size of the main engine. But some of them, due to space restrictions were very narrow indeed. This was one reason Janis had recommended that one of the flight crew had to be a small woman, because he most certainly wasn’t able to fit in them. Back at the station, Staci had been told to take a tour of the main drive from the inside, and had spent several hours pulling herself along very cramped tubes and spaces. She hadn't liked it and had spent a memorable meal break during training bitching about it. Now she had to go back.
"Shit," she said, suffering a two second shock for her outburst. "Master, I'll need a tool set and a jumpsuit before I go in there," she said, calling up a schematic so she could see the route she had to take.
"The tool set you can have, but you don't need the clothing," Janis replied.
Staci looked at him in amazement. "Master...you don't expect me to go in there naked!"
"There is no need for you to wear anything in that part of the ship," Janis replied, "You won't be near any corrosive sources. Now get going!"
"Master...no! You can't order me to do it!"
"Collar, four second shock!" Janis ordered, and he watched with a smirk as Staci writhed with pain. "Care to go for an eight second burst?" he asked, pulling a tool set from a nearby locker.
Staci held her tongue, something the collar was teaching her to do. Instead she donned a headset and took the tool set from Janis's hand, careful not to touch him. She buckled the belt around her bare waist, the tool set floating at the end of a long strap behind her, and headed for the nearest access port.
Janis watched her go, admiring her nude form as she wrestled with the hatch. "I'll talk you through it from here, slut!" he said. "Don't screw this up!"
Staci said nothing and pulled herself into the access tube.
On the flight deck, Bob followed along using the computer as Staci slithered naked through the bowels of the ship, tracking her via the transponder in her collar. While he did so he worked to correct another problem the ship was having. The venting was pushing the ship out of position, just as if one of its own steering thrusters was running. All the vents were designed to run together, canceling out any thrust they developed, but the ship was never designed to deal with just one of them going off. This meant that Bob had to use the steering thrusters to counteract the odd push the vent was giving the ship, and he hated to waste their limited fuel supply like that. He hoped that Staci fixed the problem quickly.
Staci was having her own problems. It was one thing to travel along these tight passageways fully clothed, but quite another to do it nude. Every time she bumped or scraped her body against something, she was reminded yet again about her nudity, not just from the touch, but also because the fine coating of oil applied to all the surfaces to prevent dust particles from drifting around that was getting on her bare skin. It was making her filthy. It was even worse when her breasts brushed against things, for with no gravity to hold them down they stood out nice and proud away from her body. This meant she was a lot wider, front to back than she was the last time she had come this way.
She made good time though, her chosen path taking her along the inside of the inner hull. One side of the tube she pulled herself through was nothing but a mass of piping, almost looking to her like a never-ending cage wrapped around her on three sides. The so-called fourth wall was solid, and told her that she was right up against the hull. Because of the strange things perspective does to someone in zero-g, the smooth side of the hull became 'down' in her brain and she oriented herself as if it was the floor, so the 'cage' of piping appeared to surround her completely. She had almost made it to her destination, however, before she discovered a real problem.
"Master," she said over the com.
"What is it, cunt?" Janis replied.
Staci clenched a fist before replying. "Master, there's a problem here. The access tube has almost closed up."
"What? I'm not sure what you mean!" Janis said.
"Master, it looks like the impact buckled the hull here, closing the tunnel up," Staci said.
"Is it completely blocked?"
Staci took another look in the dim light. "Master, no. Not completely. I'd say it's a little over half closed. The power conduits are all compressed together but undamaged from what I can see. There is a main oxygen line we might want to test later, but the coolant pipes are all untouched. It's like something outside dented the hull really badly, pushing everything in here aside."
"There should be enough space, you can get through that."
Staci grimaced, "Master, with all due...respect. I can't squeeze through a space that small."
"Listen to me, cunt!" yelled Janis, "you'd better try, or so help me I'll whip your ass when you come out of there, and you know I will!"
"Staci," broke in Bob McKinly, "you're going to have to try. The venting is trying to make us tumble and we're using a lot of thruster fuel keeping that from happening. You know we can't afford to use too much! You can do it, I know you can."
"Master...Bob. It's too small. Maybe I can get in the other way around!"
"The other access is through the fire zone. That section is open to space now. This is the only way in," Bob replied.
Staci was breathing hard, trying to decide what to do. But there was only really one choice, Master...okay. I'll try."
Neither man answered, for which she was glad.
She unbuckled her tool belt, sticking the tool set to the hull with a magnet so it wouldn't drift away, and took a long look at the tiny space she was supposed to get through. She remembered something she’d read about tiny spaces, that the best way to approach one was with your arms extended in front of you. So she pushed both hands into the opening and pushed forward with her feet, trying to find purchase against the greasy walls of the tube in the null gravity. It was not easy, but for the first time she was actually glad about being nude. She knew she would need every millimeter of space she could get. Besides, at this point, she would have been afraid her jumpsuit would have caught on something.
"According to the trace, the valve assembly should be just another couple of meters along the main line. The impact itself is just a few meters beyond that, but that section is now sealed off," said Janis, for once keeping his personal remarks to himself.
Staci just grunted in response, not wanting to take the breath to talk. She could already see up ahead the access port to the valve she was looking for. It was buckled and crushed.
Taking shallow breaths, Staci wriggled as best she could, moving shoulders and hips in an effort to drive herself forward. The lack of gravity worked both for and against her, for she didn't have to work against her own body weight, but that same lack of weight denied her any friction to propel herself along. The space got tighter and tighter and as Staci kept moving she wondered just how much force it had taken to put such a big dent in the hull of the Mayflower. It had to have been a lot considering what hulls were made of these days. This section of hull would have to have been pushed in at least a meter to be this closed up in there.
"Master," she said at one point, "can you...turn off...the collar...I need...every breath...if I'm to...talk to you."
After a pause she heard Bob give the order, and the collar responded.
"Thanks," she said. "I can see...the access port...and I know...why it...won't work. The relay box...is crushed...by the hull." What Staci was saying was that the unit that allowed the ship's computer to send instructions to the valve was no longer in working order.
"Can you reach the valve itself?" Bob asked her over the com.
Staci could barely take a breath and her breasts hurt like hell. She was glad she wasn't claustrophobic, no astronauts were, but it would be easy to lose it and panic. At least there was light. Her arms outstretched she found she could reach the broken pieces of the port cover, and she began shifting them, sending broken glass drifting about the tube; one more thing for her to worry about while she was nude.
The valve itself was just within view, its blue handle almost teasing her. She tried to reach it but her fingers were short by inches.
"I hate to hurry you, but you had better do something soon!" Janis said, his voice sounding rather nervous to Staci's ears.
She bit back a retort and tried to find purchase with her toes. She only needed a few more inches and from the feel of things the tube was a little wider right by the port. If only her bust was a little smaller, she thought to herself. Not that she was big busted, but her breasts seemed to be bearing the full compression. Then she wondered what would happen if she tried twisting a little, and she wriggled and squirmed as best she could when suddenly she burst forward a few inches, her breasts shifting forward and giving her room.
Without hesitating, she reached for the valve and closed it.
Back at his control center, Janis saw the pressure suddenly come up on the dead system and he was back in business. He quickly set up the bypass and shut off the vent, taking a deep breath after he did so.
On the flight deck, Bob was similarly relieved and he sat back in his seat, laughing, releasing his own tension. "Great job, Staci!" he said eventually, getting up to head aft. "Come on out!"
"Yeah, thanks." Staci replied.
For some reason she wasn't all that thrilled about her success. She just wanted out of the hot, smelly tube. She braced herself with her hands against the side of the valve port, and was able to push herself backwards the way she had come. But once the port was a full arms length away from her, she had nothing to push against. She struggled, trying to wriggle her hips and shoulders as she had before, but she was getting nowhere and the reason for that were her breasts. Now that they were pointed toward her head they were acting like a wedge, not able to compress upward as easily as they did downward. Frustrated, she tried to bring her arms down so she could shift them, but there wasn't enough room for her to fold her arms. She was stuck.
"Shit," she said.
"What is it?" Bob asked.
"Mast...I'm stuck, dammit!" exclaimed Staci, still trying to wriggle and beginning to panic a little.
Janis, upon hearing her, grinned. "Don't give me that crap, cunt!" he said. "Get your ass back here before I whip it!"
"I...can’t!" replied the now frightened girl. She was twisting and wriggling harder now, trying to free herself. A piece of floating glass got in between her back and the buckled wall, and she could feel it cutting her. It only added to her distress.
"I knew it!" said Janis. "Fucking women. You can't trust any of those cunts to get something right. No wonder they're the lesser species!"
"Janis, cut it out," ordered Bob McKinly.
"No Bob, you know it's true. Fucking cunts, that's all they're good for, fucking. Look at this one! She thinks she's so high and mighty because she's an astronaut and thinks she’s an engineer. But look at her. One setback and she starts to cry. Are you crying little cunt?"
Staci was crying, or at least trying not to. The sharp glass behind her and the closed-in space were starting to overwhelm her. And Janis' words weren't helping. She was pissed at him for not helping her, pissed at being stuck in this tube, pissed at coming on this trip in the first place. And as Janis continued to insult her over the com, she got angrier and angrier and more determined to get out and shut him up.
What she didn't know was that she was moving, ever so slowly, but making progress all the same. She didn't realize this until she found that she could spread her knees just a little wider than before, and that was all the extra purchase she needed to pull herself the rest of the way past the buckled section of hull. Once free, she got turned around, and made for the other end of the service tube as fast as she could, her anger burning. She forgot about the painful wound on her back, forgot about the collar about her neck. All she wanted to do was shut Janis up, her frustrations at being thought of as a slave fueling her rage.
She burst out of the end of the tube like a bullet from the barrel of a gun and flew right at Janis who was mouthing off at his station. He saw her coming and was quick enough to get his arms up, but for several seconds he had to endure a naked, screaming woman, bashing him about the head and chest while trying to kick him as well. The couple floated free about the compartment until two more hands entered the mix and pulled them apart.
"Stop it! Stop it!" Bob was saying as he pulled Staci from Janis, glad he had rushed down from the flight deck. But she wasn't listening, and turned her anger on him instead.
Instead of fighting though, Bob grabbed her and hugged her close. "Collar, four second shock!" he ordered, and he kept hold of Staci as she reacted to the punishment charge. When it was over, she lay limp in his arms.
"It's okay, it's okay, you're out now," he said soothingly, brushing her hair and watching her carefully. He looked up a Janis who was rubbing his chin. The engineer shrugged and kicked himself off the wall back to his control panel.
Staci started sobbing, her emotional upheaval needed some sort of release, and through it all Bob held the nude woman, floating free around the compartment.
As he held her he tried to imagine what she was going through and he began to hate Alan Kent for what he was doing to her, what he was making him and Dick Janis do to her. Bob resented being the heavy. There was no way Staci could understand what she was going through, what was being done to her, not unless she harbored secret feelings of her own toward their lifestyle. Bob hated the fact that he was the one now introducing her to it, bringing her into the lifestyle in the worst possible way. It might have been easier if she was someone who deserved to be treated like shit, as Janis treated her. But as he held her and comforted her, Bob realized that he was attracted to her, rather strongly.
Staci's sobs soon ground to a halt and she was visibly pulling herself together. She pushed away from Bob slightly and crossed her arms across her chest, in an effort to hide her nakedness. With red eyes she glared at Dick Janis, "Fucking asshole! How dare you!"
"Hey," said Bob, gently, getting her attention, "He was just trying to get you angry. Get you worked up enough to make you want out of there."
"What?" Staci asked, confused.
"He was just trying to get you worked up so you wouldn't panic. Panic is the worst thing you could have done in there and we both heard it in your voice. He got you to focus on getting out by making you want to come out here and beat the shit out of him. Right Dick?"
Janis looked over his shoulder at them, catching Staci's eye. "Yeah...I was just trying to help," he eventually said, before returning to his work.
Staci wasn't sure she believed it, but she was so glad to be out she wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth. "Yeah...okay," she said, moving further away from Bob.
Bob saw the confusion in her eyes and sighed, "Okay, go clean yourself up and bring me a med kit so I can fix that cut on your back. We'll all meet in the mess in an hour for a meal. We need to discuss how we are going to proceed. Okay?"
Janis said sure, while Staci just nodded. So, after a moment, Bob left the two of them alone, sure that they wouldn't start fighting again.
For a few minutes, both engineers were silent, but Staci watched the back of Janis's head as the man worked on checking over his engine. She wasn't sure what to say to the man, or even if she wanted to. But he solved that problem for her.
"Don't mention it," he said, not looking at her. "Now get the fuck out as you were ordered."
Without a word, Staci did as she was told.
The meal was subdued, partly due to the acid stench left over from the fire, and partly due to the stresses of the crew. Janis was also in a funk because Bob had given Staci a jump suit to wear and had left her collar turned off. When Janis had protested about this break in her training, Bob basically told him to fuck himself. "Right now we need Major Staci Mann, not Staci the slave girl. So shut up and just stick to your job!" Bob ordered.
So that was how Staci got to eat her first civilized meal with both men since they first jumped her.
Still, they could have felt a lot worse. Only the news that despite being hit by object unknown, and that the Mayflower was still on course released their deepest fears. The slingshot was working just as predicted back on Earth.
"Okay," Bob said, after giving up on his food, "so, we aren't that badly hurt."
"We're within the limits of the system," Janis said, still chewing, "although we'd better not spill another drop of coolant between here and Elvira. I can give us a full burn, but only by running the engines till they die."
Bob shrugged. "They weren't going to be used again anyway," he said.
Janis looked up at him, and it was hard to tell what he was thinking, although he didn't look happy. "Maybe. But you still hate to see something you've created, destroy itself."
"As long as we get the burn," Bob answered. He looked at Staci who also was still eating. He had dressed her wound, which wasn't that bad really, but she had become withdrawn after the incident in the aft section. He was concerned.
"Anything new on the rest of the ship?" he asked her.
She shook her head. "Master...shit...you fucks," she said turning away from both of them, ashamed that their training had taken hold.
"You watch that language, slave girl," Janis growled. "I'm getting really tired of your mouth!"
"Dick, cut it out!" yelled Bob. "You too, Staci. Right now there are no slaves, no masters. We have a job to do and a decision to make. So Staci, what were you going to say?"
Staci didn't look at him for a moment, but then she took a deep breath and turned back to face them both. "I was going to say that there hasn't been enough time to check over everything. It'll take several days to be thorough. The fire could have weakened something we have yet to detect."
Bob nodded, "I agree, but I don't think it would have hit any critical systems, it was just too small. But here's the rub. The computer woke us up two years too early because of this happening during the slingshot maneuver. There are still seven years of travel time before we reach Elvira. What I want from each of you is a recommendation as to how to proceed. I see us taking one of two ways. Either we do the work up and fixes needed to get us through the next couple of years, and then go to sleep until our scheduled wake time. Or...we do the five year maintenance now, while we're up, and then go back into hibernation until we reach Elvira. A or B, which is it?"
"B!" Staci said without needing to think.
"Why?" Bob asked.
"Two reasons. First, we're only budgeted so much service time for the trip because we need as much time in orbit as we can manage for finding a landing site. We're going to be waking a lot of people when we get there and they may need every minute we can give them. The more we use the environmental system to keep us alive, the less there is for them! Second...well, I'd rather not go into hibernation any more often than I can help."
Bob nodded and looked at Janis. "Dick?"
Janis inclined his head as if it didn't matter, "She's got a point. Whatever you decide is fine by me."
"She makes mine too," Bob agreed. "Okay. We'll stay up and do it all. We've got five days of hard work people, and I need you both at your peak. So hear me and hear me good. Staci's training is suspended until I say otherwise. If I find out that you're treating this woman with anything but a professional attitude, Janis, so help me I'll use one of your own whips on you. Capice?"
"Kent won't like this..." Janis began.
"I don't give a fuck! This is my ship and until we land on the planet, Kent can suck my dick!"
Janis laughed, "I'm sure you'll get a better blow job than the one this cunt could give you. She's a poor excuse for a woman anyway!" He pushed himself away from the table. "I'd better get started. Capice!" he said with a grin. He pointed a finger at Staci and then waved, before leaving the room.
Neither Bob nor Staci watched him go. Instead, he looked at her while she looked at the wall.
"Is that what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life?" she asked quietly. "Being bossed around by men like that?"
"No. For the most part, the people picked to make the trip are decent folk, people who just want to live the way they want to without a disapproving society looking down on them. You'd like them, really you would. But you've been dragged into this in the worst possible way, shown what we do in the worst possible light."
Staci turned to look at him, her blue eyes gazing at him from under a floating fringe of blond hair. "You really mean that don't you? You're not just doing a good cop bad cop routine on me."
"Is that what you believe?" he asked her.
"Mast...damn it's hard to break that habit! But I guess you don't want that do you?"
She reached up and touched her green collar, snug against her neck. "If it wasn't for this, I'd be trying to believe that you guys were just having your fun for the trip, and that when we got to Elvira, you'd stop and things would go back to the way they were before. But this...collar...these cuffs...they aren't things you'd bring along just for a little fun and games. Not on a ship where every ounce of mass is critical. You're really in it for the long haul, and I can do nothing to stop you from bringing me along." She sighed, her fingers tracing the collar. "I...still don't know, what to think of you. You in particular. Dick Janis, well, he's just a jerk, a sadistic jerk at that. Easy to figure out, and a little less scary because of that. But you...I don't get you. You put this thing on me, put me through those degrading lessons, yet say it is for my own good and defend me from that creep! I find myself...preferring to be around you because you've yet to try to take advantage of me sexually...yet...I don't know if I trust you any more than I trust him!"
Bob waited a moment after she stopped talking, trying to organize his thoughts and feelings. "What can I do to help you trust me?" he eventually asked.
"Take this collar off me, make me human again."
He shook his head, "What can I do to help you trust me?"
She stared at him. "I'll let you figure that one out," she said, and she turned to leave.
He watched her as she reached the doorway and paused. "You know," she said, "had this been a game, and had Janis not been the asshole that he is...I might have...just went along!"
"Really?" Bob asked, a little surprised.
"I guess we'll never know, will we? Thanks for the clothes." She left the room.
Bob stayed where he was for a while longer, wondering how to salvage the mess.
The next five days saw the crew of the Mayflower working overtime, making sure the ship was secure enough to travel the last seven years of the journey by itself. They slept little, ate little, and pretty much talked only about ship's business. Even Janis kept to himself, immersed in the repairs of his beloved star drive.
From time to time Bob McKinly would try to engage Staci in conversation, but she shrugged off all his attempts. Her manner was so brisk with him at times that he was even tempted to bring her to heel using her collar, but he resisted. He needed her as an engineer, not as a slave girl, no matter how much he found himself desiring her as the latter.
Staci, for her part, was in no mood to socialize. Even though she had clothes again, even though she wasn't forced to talk in a demeaning way or perform degrading tasks, even though she was doing the job she had hired on to do, she couldn't forget her true place in the eyes of both her crewmates. The ever present collar about her neck, the irremovable cuffs on her wrists and ankles, wouldn't let her forget. She saw her present freedom as only temporary, for as long as she wore those devices she would never be free. It occupied her mind whenever she wasn't immersed in a job. It made her afraid to sleep.
But she eventually had to sleep and soon she was put back into hibernation along with Janis. Bob, alone once more, composed his final report to Earth and sealed himself away as well, hoping that in seven years there would be a ship to wake up to.
"Thirty seconds to engine shut down," said Major Staci Mann from her seat next to the engineering console on the flight deck. Beside her, watching the flight trajectory monitor, Bob McKinly just nodded.
"Main drive exhaust manifold temperatures now at critical," said the ship's main computer. "Engine shutdown commencing."
"Don't worry about it, I have the override on!" yelled Dick Janis from his station in the aft section of the ship. "Nothing is shutting this bitch down except my finger on the button!"
"Will it hold together?" Bob asked him over the com.
"It'll hold. Hear that baby? You gotta hold!"
Staci glanced over at Bob, but said nothing. She had thought it a miracle that they had lasted the full six hour burn, after it was discovered that one of the coolant tanks had slowly leaked away its contents over the seven-year flight that they had slept through. That would have meant aborting the burn and just letting the ship fly on forever. But Janis in a fit of mechanical genius, had come up with a way of using the massive external afterburn cooling fins to help cool the drive during the burn. He, Staci and Bob then spent a frantic two days in space suits making the necessary changes to the hull of the ship, practically rebuilding a part of it, but they made the critical ignition window on time.
It was just another major glitch that could have killed the chances of the mission succeeding, but after eight light years and a fifteen-year flight, they were now bang on target and within the last few seconds of orbital insertion.
An alarm sounded and Staci hastened to shut it off. On one of her screens fire warning lights were flashing constantly. The interior of the aft section was practically burning itself up and Staci wondered how Janis was doing back there.
So far, the compartment he was in was still safe, but she was keeping an eye on the spread of the fire warnings, just in case it looked like he might get cut off. As much as she hated the guy, she didn't want him dead.
"Fifteen seconds," she said.
Bob started to smile, his first since he woke up. "We can do it from here, but the further we go the better our chances," he said.
Another alarm sounded and both looked at her screen. "There's going to be nothing left!" Staci said. Bob just nodded.
"Ten seconds," she said and she started counting down. When she got to two, the main drive cut out by itself, no longer able to function.
"Dammit!" Bob said. "Thrusters armed and firing."
Without the main drive, the Mayflower was now dependent on its maneuvering thrusters to slow it the rest of the way, but that took fuel, a lot of it. But they had enough. Bob McKinly settled the great ship into a higher orbit around the planet than planned due to their greater speed, but any stable orbit was a good one at that point. He could mess with the fine tuning later.
When the last thruster shut down, the three conscious crewmembers of the Mayflower all just sat a moment, letting the immensity of the task they had just completed, sink in. They had successfully brought humanity’s first interstellar colonists safely to their intended destination. No matter what happened from this point on, they had made history.
They only reflected on this for a moment though, before trading smiles and getting back to work. There would be time to celebrate later, but right now they had to salvage what was left of the ship. That took them several hours more work, and by the time they were done the graceful starship Mayflower was now simply just an orbiting space station, forever doomed to circle this unnamed planet that in turn orbited a star called Elvira.
The three crewmembers met alone in the mess and mutely celebrated their last meal as a crew, too tired to show much feeling, either for or against one another. Looking back later, Staci figured that this was probably the only time during the entire flight when she felt the three of them had actually bonded over something. But of course it wasn't to last.
"Time to wake up the boss," Bob said quietly.
"Yeah," said Janis. "But...er...don't you think we should..." he inclined his head toward Staci, who looked back at him nervously.
"We should what?" Bob asked him, looking hard at the engineer.
"Well. I've let you have your way on the flight, letting her stay free so we could get some decent work out of her. But we're here now, and she's just a fucking slave girl. It's time to put her back in her place!" Janis said with a slight sneer
Bob looked at Staci, and she could see that he was actually thinking about it. So far the man had defended her and kept her from this life they insisted she lead. But now that the flight was over, they didn't really need her to be Major Staci Mann anymore. Not full time anyway. So as she watched Bob McKinly wrestle with his thoughts, she grew afraid.
"What are you going to do, Bob?" she asked.
Bob looked from her to Janis and back again, and then made his decision.