Your Master Requires Your Obedience

by Jack Peacock

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© Copyright 2021 - Jack Peacock - Used by permission

Storycodes: M+/f+; fpov; bond; prison; chastity; straps; collar; cuffs; cage; shackles; reluct; XX

This is the fifth of five stories, each in multiple parts. You may wish to start from the first story: Your Master Requires Your Presence

Part 1

Center Express

Trina, short for Katerina, stole a glance at the guard sitting next to her. He seemed to be bored; that was understandable considering how many times he must have traveled this road. Bored but always alert, she noticed when he sat up in swift reaction to her sidelong peek. On the job as well, as Trina discovered when he reached behind her back to check on the handcuffs.

“Mile marker forty,” the driver announced. It must be some kind of code, since all Trina could see outside the front window was the Interstate and empty desert. She recognized where they were, on the road from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. This was the Mojave Desert, a huge swath of desolation, containing sagebrush, cactus, rattlesnakes and not much else. Eastward was Las Vegas, Death Valley to the north, and Arizona to the south. In any direction there was at least a hundred miles of nothing. It was the perfect location for hiding secret installations.

“Transport in place,” was the equally enigmatic response from her guard. It had to be a reference to her, and that she was under control. “In place” was an understatement, if he was referring to their passenger. From the outside her transportation bore a superficial resemblance to a common, full-sized SUV. Inside it could not be less common. This vehicle was equipped for one purpose, to move people like her from point A to point B, whether she wanted to make the trip or not.

She was a willing participant, the passenger by her own free choice. Free, now that’s irony, she thought. Who knows when she’d ever be able to use that word again? The way they had her bundled up she was free to turn her head but not much more; certainly not to speak. The gag dangling halfway out of the seatback pocket in front of her conveyed a message with no subtlety in it. Ride in silence, one way or the other. If her escort decided she was being a nuisance, be it from an honest mistake, insolent disobedience, or for no better reason than he missed his lunch today, then she’d suffer through the rest of the journey with that thing stuck in her mouth. Trina was determined to ensure her traveling companions would not hear a single sound from her without their permission.

Behind her back she flexed her hands to keep them from getting stiff. The handcuffs weren’t painful, as long as she didn’t fight them. Matching bracelets, she mused, the perfect accessory for a romantic evening’s car ride in the moonlight. That could easily be one of those fashion show introductions, except no one’s ever going to see high fashion models parading down the runway with their hands firmly secured behind their backs.

Three times, so far, her guard had checked on the cuffs. It wasn’t really necessary; she had no means of escape. She did find it reassuring the man next to her, the one in charge, was thorough in keeping her in her place. She hoped it was a sign of what was to come when they reached the Center.

Her fingers brushed against the fiberglass shell that formed the basis of her car seat. There was a space molded in the back to accommodate her arms and hands, for which she was grateful. The handcuffs were attached to a chain wrapped around her waist; the cuffs were held close to the small of her back. Not much chance on her part for any mischief with roving hands. There was a real seat belt, a wide nylon strap across her waist, just above the waist chain. Not much difference compared to a regular seat belt, except the buckle had a keyhole instead of a latch.

The two shoulder straps started above her shoulders. They ran down her torso, on either side of her breasts, ending in locking buckles built into the shell. They weren’t tight; he needed some slack to check behind her back. They were sufficient to keep her in the seat.

The high-risk prisoner car seat was full of those locking buckles. Another strap went across her legs, just above the knees. She could see it, next to the hem of her skirt. A proper lady keeps her legs together, Trina’s mother’s voice echoed, reminding her how to behave. At the moment that wasn’t a problem. Straps wrapped around each of her ankles held her legs together and in place. Just below the ankle straps were leg irons locked around her ankles, the connecting chain coiled between her feet. Bare feet too, the driver had taken her shoes. They must be somewhere in the front, though she had no idea where he put them. The image of her attempting to run through the desert in a desperate escape attempt, barefoot, with her hands still locked behind her back, almost made her laugh. It wouldn’t exactly be running either, more like a slow walk forced on her by the leg irons. These men took their job seriously.

There wasn’t much to see in the dark. A tiny bit of road was illuminated in the headlights. It all started to look the same through the security grill separating her from the driver. Trina closed her eyes and leaned back, her head resting on a pad in the shell surrounding her. This was her long awaited ticket on the Center Express, the FastTrack program’s ride to that mysterious place in the desert. She knew little about the Center other than its shadowy reputation for discipline and obedience. It wouldn’t be long before she found out if the choice to subject herself to being “educated” was a wise one, or the worst mistake she’d ever made.

Even without all the restraints she would have been the model prisoner. This was where she wanted to be; there was no chance she would jeopardize it by misbehaving. Her opinion didn’t matter though. If the guard sitting next to her believed it was better she should endure the trip in close restraint, then she accepted that’s how it had to be.

Trina watched with envy when her escort raised up his arms, stretching to work out the kinks from prolonged sitting. It must be nice, she mused. He can do as he pleases. Me, she had to smile at the contrast, I can do as he pleases too. A quiet sigh escaped from her lips while settled back in her tiny confines, resigned to her condition while hoping they didn’t have much further to go.

He must have heard that sigh. Trina’s eyes flew open when he tugged on the seat belt, then the shoulder straps, her knee restraint and ending with a hands-on examination of the straps on her ankles. From the frown on his face there had to be something that didn’t meet with his approval. He used a key from his belt to unlock one of the shoulder straps. Trina wasn’t sure what was going on until he pulled in some slack before locking it back in place. She hadn’t noticed any difference but he was the one who had to be satisfied she was secure.

After such a thorough inspection, she expected him to continue. He was bored, she was a woman, and there was quite literally nothing she could do to stop him if he wanted to go exploring with those large hands. One of those hands rested on the edge of her car seat, almost touching her bare knee. Any moment now he’d begin reaching up her skirt…

Except it didn’t happen. What did occur is a hand on her chin, turning her head so he could look at her, eye to eye. “Are you okay?” The sincerity in his voice matched the concerned look on his face.

“I’m fine, sir. Please don’t worry about me. I apologize for disturbing you.” Those were the first words she’d spoken since they left Los Angeles. They would also be her last unless he asked another question. She’d been told to sit quietly for this trip; a very clear, concise instruction she felt compelled to obey.

“Mile marker ninety-five,” another update from the driver. She hoped it meant the Center was nearby.

“Ninety-five, confirmed.” Her guard answered. Judging from the formal way they spoke it must be recorded. Her guard reached into the seat pocket behind the driver and took out a canvas bag. A moment later she was plunged into darkness when he slipped it over her head. “Transport in place,” he answered.

Trina had been puzzled at the seeming lack of concern she might learn of the Center’s location. That particular question was now answered; she wasn’t going to see much of anything. All she knew, from the road signs, is that they weren’t close to any of the towns along the route to Vegas. That didn’t narrow it down by much; the Mojave Desert was a big, mostly empty spot on the map.

The arrangements had been simple, once she contacted the email address passed on by someone on the internet. There would be no cost for her to attend an informative retreat, but attendance would be mandatory if she chose to participate. She did hesitate, but once the details were explained to her she decided to proceed anyway.

This retreat was one that required strict obedience and adherence to regulations. That sounded just like the place Trina longed to visit. Transportation would be provided, but she would have to agree to be brought to the Center in custody, as if she were being taken to prison. That condition gave her pause too, but the vision of being arrested and restrained overcame her reluctance.

She did keep her appointment. The guards were very efficient, subduing her with handcuffs and a waist chain, before placing her in the SUV. Within seconds she was strapped in and the Center Express was on its way.

Arrival

Whoever ran the Center didn’t waste any time. Less than an hour ago Trina was sitting in that vehicle with a hood over her head. Events moved quickly when they stopped. Her clothes, skirt, blouse, underwear, were nothing but scraps now, shredded with scissors. Her hands were still stuck behind her back, but the waist chain was gone. The leg irons on her ankles were in place too, which ruled out running or kicking. Not that she’d try; from the looks of this place she’d regret it.

She didn’t like the idea of being forced to wear a chastity belt either. When she tried to protest, the guard, no, she had to call them Wardens now. The Warden told her to shut up and get used to it. She got the hint. What she later learned was the standard Center uniform was topped off with a nice, shiny steel collar locked around her neck. A serial number was prominently stamped on the front.

She didn’t care much for her new ensemble, not that anyone else seemed to be bothered by her current state of undress. The dominant commands, the submissive obeys. It’s what Trina believed in, the reason she was here, to prove to herself she was committed to living up to her beliefs. How the Center would help her, that was a question yet to be answered. The conditions for admittance to the Center were explicit if lacking in detail: trust those with authority over her to act for her benefit. There was no explanation of what “benefit” meant, or how they intended to act on her behalf. And who were the mysterious “those in authority”? Again, Trina had no idea who gave them this power or how qualified they were to exercise it.

She turned her head, to get a better view of her companions. They were in the Waiting Room, so named because her group was to wait here for an orientation lecture. What she didn’t expect was that it would be standing room only, enforced by the metal cage now locked around her head. It was held on by a metal strap around her neck, under her chin and above her new collar.

 A chain ran from the top of the head cage up to the ceiling. Once her head was inside a Warden had adjusted the chain length using a padlock to take up the slack, which forced her to stand upright in one spot. There were three other women with her, dressed, or undressed, in the same Center uniform, also rooted to one spot with similar head cages. One more head cage dangled from the ceiling, unoccupied for the moment.

They were lined up against the far wall of the room, spaced about an arm’s length apart. The orders were for the four of them to stand in their assigned locations, quietly, and no talking allowed. That was enforced by the Warden supervising them from his desk. Every time one of them shifted around, he looked up from his phone, a frown warning them he was not pleased with the distraction.

Running through the middle of the room were steel bars, reminiscent of old-style jails. She and her group were on one side, the Warden on the other. There was a gate set into the bars, with a lock built into it. Trina had seen the Warden use it when she was added to the waiting group. If this was a taste of what was to come, her initial impression of a Center that would be run like some kind of school symposium was far off the mark.

Behind her back she tugged at the handcuffs. They made her feel so helpless. And exposed now she had no clothes either. The Warden heard her. He stood up and walked over to the bars, stopping in front of her. “You were told to keep quiet and stand still. If you can’t follow simple instructions, we can provide you more time to consider the wisdom of defiance. One more sound out of you and you can stay in there all day. Do not try my patience.”

He backed up to look at the entire group. “I told all of you to stand still. I meant it. Any one of you, just one, disturbs me again and the whole lot of you will spend the day in here. I don’t care who did it; every one of you gets punished. I hope I make myself clear.”

Trina knew her legs wouldn’t stand up to treatment like that. Nor did she want to be the one to get the group in trouble by displeasing him. When he went back to his desk, she willed her body into holding as still as a statue.

Her eyes were drawn to the entrance when the door opened. A woman entered, led in by a Warden with his hand on her arm. She noticed the two Wardens didn’t speak to each other, though the new guard did nod to their room supervisor when he stood and left by the same door.

“Look at me,” the new Warden ordered in a sharp tone. That got Trina’s quick attention. “Cathy here has been assigned to present your orientation today. She will talk, you will listen. Ignore her at your peril. She has the information you need to make it through your stay at the Center. Cathy has been a guest here several times, making her something of an expert on how this place operates. Her advice and insight will be useful as you work to earn your release from our custody. When she finishes you will be allowed to ask questions. She will explain the rules, follow them.” With that he walked away, closing the door behind him when he left.

Custody? Earn my release? What was he talking about? Trina didn’t like the implication she was not free to leave on her own. Though at the moment she had to admit returning to the city wasn’t up to her.

“You can relax now, he’s gone.” Cathy smiled. “He left me in charge so I have a little bit of leeway. Not much though.” She turned to one side and held out her arms, behind her back. The handcuffs were plainly visible. “Even though I’m an instructor I’m not granted much in the way of extra privileges. I have to follow the same rules I’m going to explain to you. I screw up; I’m in there right next to you.” She nodded toward the empty head cage. “They left room for me, just in case. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’d rather stay on this side.”

Trina studied the woman through the bars. Judging by appearance Cathy was right about the privileges. She was loaded down with the same chains, belt and collar. There was something about her: the way she held her head confidently, the ease when she moved around with those chains on, the deference she showed to the Wardens. It was a difference Trina wanted for herself.

“Welcome to the Center. That’s what we call it, don’t use any other name. The four of you are the first group admitted under the new FastTrack program. What does that mean? I don’t know. The men in charge have determined I don’t need that information. Neither do you, so don’t ask. That’s our first lesson.” While she talked Cathy paced back and forth in front of the group.

“In here you will be told what you need to know, but only when you need to know it. If you’re the curious type with an inquiring mind, then you’re in for a disappointment. There are many tools in play here to control us. Withholding information is one of those tools you will encounter with great frequency. We are deliberately cut off from the outside world. Yeah, that includes me. Get used to the fact you aren’t going to have any idea of what’s going on, or even what you’ll be doing an hour from now.”

Trina was beginning to worry. This was drifting further and further away from what she expected. There had been no explicit exit date specified when she signed up, though she had assumed it would be about two weeks. It might be a good idea to call it quits now and walk away.

Cathy must have read her mind. “I know what you’re thinking. Second thoughts: it was a mistake; I didn’t sign up for this; it isn’t what I expected; I want to go home now. I have some very bad news. You aren’t going home, not anytime soon. I mean months, not days. You start out with a bad attitude; it can be years before you ever see the outside world again. The men here, they are relentless. They don’t give up on you. In the end you will finish the program regardless of what you’re thinking now.”

“Wait a minute, I didn’t agree…” Trina began. This was wrong. Months, years? It had to be some kind of bad joke. No way was she going to waste her life at some Center for that long.

In a flash Cathy was in front of the bars, facing Trina. “Stop it! Right now, stop and don’t say another word!” The insistent tone was enough to stop Trina in mid-sentence. “You go any further and we’ll all be in trouble. So SHUT UP AND LISTEN!” Cathy all but screamed those last words. Trina flinched when the woman yelled at her. She could see genuine fear in Cathy’s face. That was confirmed when she turned toward the entrance, as if she expected Wardens to burst in at any moment.

Whatever Cathy anticipated it didn’t happen. “I’m sorry I shouted but you have to understand you cannot speak up like that without permission. You put us all at risk when you react that way, without thinking first. You were disobedient because you were told to stay quiet while I delivered the lecture. You’ve got to understand you can’t get away with outbursts like that, not in here. We’re lucky the Wardens aren’t coming through that door right now.” Cathy looked over her shoulder again, as if she still expected their imminent arrival.

“Please, be patient and let me finish. I believe you’ll find I can answer most of your questions, though you won’t like the answers.” Trina tried to nod in agreement. The head cage got in the way but Cathy seemed to understand.

“I’m sure all of you are having some misgivings about what you’ve gotten into here. Tough luck, you’re long past the point of no return once you’re this far in. You can see for yourselves there’s no way out. To be blunt, you’re all being held against your will, indefinitely. Illegal? You bet. Does it matter? Not really. No one knows you’re here, you can’t contact anyone, and there’s nothing that leads the police to this location. No one at the Center is going to help you escape either. That includes me. You have no options. I can’t stress this enough; you have no choice but to make it through the program, however long it takes. Time is not on your side. You don’t agree? Too bad for you. The men here, they don’t need your consent for anything.”

That phrase, for anything, struck a chord in Trina. Was it true? Up to now she’d always relied on that “get out of jail” card. It might be a safe word, or something as simple as walking away. All that had been yanked away in an instant. I wanted to experience the moment, she thought, the total loss of freedom, and how I’d handle it. Reality had come to her like an onrushing train, unstoppable and unavoidable.

“Speaking of time, it all belongs to the Wardens now. You have no free time, period. If a Warden wants something, you make sure he gets it, and I mean right now. Sorry again, but I can’t put too strong a point on your obligations. It’s very simple, do as you’re told. Obedience is what gets you out of here. Don’t think about their orders first; act immediately. The purpose of the program is to train you on proper behavior. How? That’s up to the men in authority over us.

“You’ll come across that phrase many times in here. Who are they? I have no idea. I don’t need to know. It might be someone watching us now. It might be one of the Wardens, observing you first hand. That’s something else you don’t need to know. They do exist, and their word is final. Your fate is in their hands, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

All powerful, unseen, and in total control; Trina felt something stirring under that chastity belt. No, no, not now, she fought to suppress what her body was telling her. That’s why they make us wear these things, she thought, almost laughing. She had an uneasy feeling there were many hours of sexual frustration waiting in her future.

“Also, when it comes to time, don’t bother trying to keep track of date or time of day. A clock, a calendar, maybe you had one of those smart watches? You aren’t going to see any of those for quite a while. Did you notice? Not one Warden wears a wristwatch. Won’t do you any good to try sneaking a peek. Want to try counting days? Consider this: what makes you think there are 24 hours in one of our days? That’s up to them. It might be twenty, and then again it might be thirty. What you call morning might be 10PM at night. You’ll be punished if a Warden catches you attempting to keep track of time or date, so don’t even try.”

Trina stared through the cage around her head at the woman standing before them. The Center was becoming scarier with every word Cathy spoke. She didn’t want to think about it, but she had to face the possibility she had, literally, risked her life in volunteering to come. She could disappear and no one would have a clue as to what happened.

“A word of advice concerning the Wardens. They are not your friends. They are not approachable; they are not sympathetic. You pay attention to them; you listen to what they say. Once more, above all, do as you are told. Those are the words you live by at the Center. Whatever they want, you deliver, as fast as you can. They are not patient, forgiving or understanding. You’re having a bad day? That’s your problem. All they care about are results.

“If you have to talk to a Warden, remember they all have only one name, and that’s ‘sir’. Don’t go overboard; you don’t win any points by irritating them. Use it in the first or second sentence. It’s not like you’re going to have an extended conversation anyway. Listen to those around you; you’ll pick it up quickly.

“One more thing. Maybe you have some urges, the itch you need a man to scratch? The Wardens are handy, plus they have the keys to these belts we have to wear. They’re men; all it takes is a little persuasion, right? Don’t bother. The belts have one purpose: to keep you in, not keep them out. You’ll be amazed at how much self-control you can muster when you don’t have a key to the belt.”

Questions

Cathy continued with her lecture. “I’m told the four of you are the first group in the new FastTrack program. I have permission to mention that, but I wasn’t told what it means. I do have some specifics I can talk about. From the name I’m sure you can guess it has to do with streamlining the Center’s training regime. You four were selected based on your past history. My guess, and this is only my opinion, it must be related to your natural inclination to submit, to be owned, possessed, dominated, to depend on a man to run your life. Nothing wrong with it; I’m proud to be counted in the same category. I hope my owner agrees.” Cathy paused, seemingly lost in thought.

Trina wanted into that club too. She envied Cathy for so many reasons. She had an owner, she had made it through the Center, she had earned a life Trina could only dream about.

“Again, apologies, I drifted off topic. I wasn’t supposed to do that, which means my master is going to have some tough questions for me later on today. I wouldn’t characterize him as the lenient type, so don’t be surprised if I happen to join you tomorrow. I better stop there, no point in digging a deeper hole.”

Trina didn’t understand why Cathy seemed to be so apprehensive. What had she done that warranted being punished for it? Her master must be incredibly inflexible in his demands.

“You might be puzzled as to why we have to wear these cuffs?” Cathy held her arms out again. “The Wardens insist on close physical control over us at all times. That’s why we call this part of the Center the secure area. It’s a constant reminder for us there is only one way out of here, their way. The handcuffs, leg chains, bars, even taking away our clothes, it’s all there to intentionally force us into a helpless, vulnerable condition. Don’t judge too harshly; after a while you might even learn to love it. I do.”

At the moment, stuck in the head cage Trina found it difficult to agree with Cathy. She might not be enjoying it so much if she was on this side of the bars, Trina thought.

“The Center’s program started a profound change in my life,” Cathy continued. “I’m sure it was a change for the better. I am a man’s property, in every sense of the word. I’m not ashamed to admit it. In the usual sense I have virtually no freedom. When it comes to my spirit, my soul, I’m more liberated now than I’ve ever been before I came here. It may sound like a contradiction but it isn’t. I hope all of you will one day experience the same freedom, the freedom to be true to yourself.”

Trina sighed. It was her dream, one special man, always in charge. A man she had to please, to serve. No, wanted to please, Trina corrected herself. If only she could find someone like that. To date her efforts were dismal failures. They were eager to have her body; when it came to the rest, supervising her day after day, running her life, they soon disappeared after facing real responsibility.

“Okay, your turn. I’ll try to answer some questions. This is how it works. You tell me your name, that's your first name only, and ask one question. I reply as best I can. If you don’t like what I have to say, wait for your next turn. When you finish, keep quiet. Don’t interrupt, don’t ask for clarification. Keep in mind I may not know the answer, or if I do, I may not be allowed to tell you. Don’t push it; I obey my master first and always. You aren’t going to persuade me to change that. Okay, we’ll start at this end of the line.”

Cathy was at the opposite end of the group, which meant Trina would be last. At a nod the woman in front of Cathy spoke up. “My name is Joan. I’m not sure why I’m here. The email described a retreat, a BDSM style hotel, some bondage play, for the weekend. Am I in the right place?”

“I don’t know your details, Joan, but I can make an educated guess. Yes, you’re in the right place. The men here don’t make that kind of mistake. In simple terms, you were lured into coming here. Why? I have no idea. I’m sure you didn’t want to hear that, but you’re here now so you’ll have to live with it. Next in line?”

“Maria. I was pulled over by what I thought were police. They arrested me and brought me here. I didn’t volunteer for anything. Why am I here?”

Cathy hesitated before she replied. Involuntary seizures were rare. She would have to be careful since the orientation process tended to become confrontational very quickly. Still, she deserved to hear the facts, brutal as they might be.

“I’ll be blunt. You were stalked, selected for seizure, kidnapped and transported here without your consent. Why? Someone with substantial influence and power decided he wanted you, so he had you brought here. I’ll say it again, nothing you can do about it. What I can guarantee is you’ll be here until you finish the program. Next?”

The woman standing next to Trina was a petite Asian woman. “I’m Yoshi. The program, when we finish, will we be allowed to meet potential owners?”

Cathy didn’t reply immediately. She studied the small woman, though it wasn’t easy to gauge her expression through the helmet locked on her head. This one is definitely invested in the program, Cathy thought.

“It doesn’t work like that. They pick you. If the Center approves, you belong to whoever chooses you from then on. A potential master might interview you, or you find out when he comes for you. And the last in line?”

“My name’s Trina, short for Katerina. That last question, what happens if no one wants me?”

Serious self-esteem issues, Cathy concluded. The program will build her confidence.

“In the entire history of the Center that’s never happened, so I can’t give you an answer. If it helps, you’ll discover you are considered to be a very valuable and desirable property by the time you complete the program. In the meantime, don’t worry over what isn’t in your future.”

The Fast Track

“So, how good is the science on this?” the Director asked. “The Board is going to be asking some questions at the next meeting. If FastTrack starts to resemble some kind of eugenics program, I’ll be labeled a new wave Dr. Mengele.”

“We’re on the bleeding edge when it comes to the use of genetic predisposition, but this isn’t any kind of breeding program. We’re looking at the individual’s genetic code, and only at statistics which might show genetic disposition, nothing more.” That was from the Project Head of the research team. “The science is in uncharted territory. We’re using established tools, statistical analysis, so in that sense we’re on solid ground. What we lack is a large population to source samples. Plus, we’re working with samples way out on the edge of the distribution curve. For now, we have to rely on empirical observation to validate our model.”

“I get all that,” the Director pointed out, “but bear in mind your samples are real people. We have a duty to see to these women’s benefit.” He held up a hand before the Head could complain. “I realize all these women could be processed through the Center’s regular program. Where are we at?”

The research Head stood up and went to the monitor. “As you can see, we’ve set up an arbitrary scale, for now, based on standard deviations from a normal distribution. Our population is all the women who’ve been to the Center. We use regression testing to compare predictions against known results. Based on model validation we have proposed five levels. Our graduates tend to cluster around levels three and four, high marks for predisposition on submissive traits. We have two cases where the women tested all the way to level five using genetic markers.”

The Director nodded. “Okay, what are your conclusions?”

“The first, no surprise here, the women who pass through the Center present a high incidence of unique marker combinations we associate with submissive behavior. Level three is a preponderance of characteristics: lack of aggression; obedience; and a desire to please dominant males, but there is resistance which needs to be overcome first. Level four adds servitude, the need to be useful; and enhanced intelligence, along with lowered resistance. Level five, we see the addition of a tendency to high achievement; very low resistance after an early phase; with a marker we have trouble quantifying. The best description we’ve come up with is a type of fanaticism. Level five is extremely rare; we’re talking more than three standard deviations off the curve.”

The Director picked up a sheet of paper. “You say you’ve found two instances of level five?”

“That’s right, and one more in the new program test group. I think you’re familiar with one of our previous graduates.”

The Director scanned down the page. “I see what you mean. Paula, she belongs to Big Mike.” He laughed. “I’d certainly agree with the fanatic assessment. Her behavior in the secure area is legendary. If she ever disobeyed Big Mike he’d collapse in shock. For that matter, we all would.”

The Director sat thinking, tapping his pen on the conference table. “The test group started today? Go ahead, we’ll keep to your plan, but I want round the clock surveillance on this. Use overtime if it’s needed. Any indication the program is wandering off target, we pull the plug. I don’t want these women mentally scarred because of us.”

“That’s not our intent. We have a level three as a control, two level fours, and we’re positive the last one is a level five. The program accelerates development of the desirable traits by slowly increasing pressure in such a way as to bring out the best in her, in our case adapting to the principles they are taught. It’s a way for them to cope. The one right way becomes the easiest way. We extrapolate the level fours and fives will be a success for the new program; the level three we don’t agree on results.”

“The principles?” The Director wasn’t sure what he meant.

“We’ve come up with a meme, an easy way for them to remember what’s important. To obey is to serve; to serve is to please; to please is to live a full life. To live a full life one must obey, the circle of submission.”

“I like that,” the Director replied with enthusiasm. “Regardless of the FastTrack program we’ve got to work that meme into all the classes. Keep up the good work.”

Attached

The wooden bench was hard and uncomfortable. For Trina it was still a hundred times better than that dreadful head cage. The leg irons were gone too, another improvement. Her hands were still locked behind her back; she was starting to worry the Wardens would never take off the handcuffs.

The four of them had been moved to another, smaller waiting room. She had no idea why, but Trina was catching on quick; she’d be the last to find out why. A Warden sat next to the entrance. Whenever she risked looking in his direction, he was alert and watching their every move. So far two of her group had been led away; she was next in line. The first two hadn’t returned. She was about to find out for herself whether that was a good or bad sign.

The inner door opened and a Warden came out. She caught a quick glimpse of what looked like machine tools inside. “Come with me,” he ordered, grabbing Trina’s arm.

She recognized a lathe and a drill press; the others were a mystery. The Warden sat her down in a plain wooden chair next to one of the larger machine tools. Another man, the operator, stood in front of a control panel. Unlike the Wardens he was dressed in a gray shirt and pants.

“I’m the machinist here at the Center. Today I’ll be fitting you. Relax, this won’t hurt. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.”

A fitting? What did he mean? Trina had no idea what was happening. The Warden kept a hand on her shoulder, pinning her in the chair.

When the machinist reached into a box and drew out the leg shackles her reaction was to try to rise up. “Wait a minute, what are you doing?” she asked, rather too loudly. The Warden held her down with both hands on her shoulders. With her wrists still cuffed behind her back she wasn’t able to offer much resistance.

“Settle down,” the Warden ordered. “This can go easy or we can get rough. Either way, it will happen.” Trina saw the determination on their faces and gave in. They were in charge; she couldn’t prevent what she knew was coming next.

The machinist grabbed one foot and lifted it up. Resigned to the inevitable, she watched him close the shackle around her ankle. Holding it shut he dropped what looked like a steel bolt into one of the holes where the two halves met.

The machine began to hum when he pressed a button. Holding the edge of the shackle he guided it into a slot. There was the sound of a large electric motor. When he withdrew the shackle, she could see the rounded top and bottom of the rivet. He repeated the process with a second bolt.

When he lowered her leg Trina immediately felt the additional weight. Unable to resist she sat quietly while the machinist imprisoned her other ankle with a matching shackle. Her feet were now connected with a far too short length of chain.

She could only stare at what they’d done to her. Permanent chains, secured by rivets instead of a lock and key. They aren’t coming off, the realization hit her. Those shackles are a part of me now, attached for who knows how long. The only way to remove them was with a hammer and chisel. Trina doubted she had the strength to manage it even if she had the tools.

“Stand up,” a crisp order from the Warden, helped along with one of his hands on her arm. Reluctantly she stood. The shackles didn’t hurt, but she couldn’t ignore the weight. “This way.” He turned her to face an exit in the back of the tool room. That explained why the other women hadn’t returned. “Let’s go.”

Her first, tentative step was brought up short by the chain. She might have fallen except for his hand holding her. What had they done to her? She couldn’t even place one foot in front of the other. She tried a second step, this time anticipating the sudden halt when the chain grabbed her ankle. A third and fourth step followed.

Okay, I’m making progress, she thought. When she looked up at the exit it didn’t appear to be any closer. Progress of a sort, she corrected herself. It was going to take a long time for her to get anywhere now. What Trina didn’t understand was the reason why she’d been forced into slow motion.

Recruiting

Lenora stood in front of the Director’s desk. Steve Garran, her master, was at her side. Whatever she’d done, it had to be bad, very bad, to be called in to face the Director. Once more she wracked her brain, trying to figure out what had happened. She’d gladly accept any punishment, if it would spare Steve from the public shame of being her owner.

Neither Steve or the Director appeared to be upset or disappointed, which left her confused. Either they were both concealing their true feelings, or something else was going on. Why else would she be here? Did it concern her job in accounting?

“Lenora,” the director began, “I asked Steve to bring you here this afternoon because the Center has a problem, a serious one.”

It was her job! She must have missed something, entered the wrong numbers somewhere. How much had it cost the Center? “Sir, I’m so sorry. Whatever I’ve done, is there some way I can help fix it? It was my own carelessness, sir.”

Steve laid a hand on her shoulder. “Why don’t you let the Director finish before you start taking all the blame?” The Director was shaking his head, doing his best to stifle a laugh.

“The problem, Lenora, is that we’ve run out of instructors for the secure area. We had counted on Paula, you know her, being here but Big Mike couldn’t spare her. She’s somewhere in the Yukon outside a town called Whitehorse, at one of those remote mines Big Mike is so fond of working at. There’s no way we can get her back here. There’s an important program underway. Without someone to take her place we’ll have to stop it. That’ll cost the Center time and money.”

Her burden of guilt vanished. Lenora was so relieved she missed the significance of the Director’s last words. She didn’t understand why she was here if the Director wanted Paula.

He must have sensed her confusion. “I want you to take Paula’s place, Lenora, starting tomorrow. You’ll be working in the secure area, but Steve can bring you home when you’re done for the day. I’m afraid the schedule is a bit jumbled, so I can’t promise it will be every day. We’ll do what we can to see you have time with Steve.”

She looked up at the man who made the hard choices for her. “Sir? What should I do?” Tough questions were Steve’s responsibility. She didn’t have to worry about complications in her life; he’d sort it out.

“You’re going to take Paula’s place. I’ll see to it you’ll be prepared. I have every confidence you can step in and help. You will follow your instructions and meet my expectations. You will put your doubts aside and focus on the task at hand, giving it your undivided attention.’

Clear and concise instructions, the way she liked it. That settled it, in Lenora’s mind. Steve wanted her to be an instructor; that was all she needed to know. She didn’t look forward to a return trip to the secure area, but as of now it wasn’t up to her. Those in authority over her had done their job. Now it was up to her to obey, to put forth her very best.

She remembered Paula all too well, and how much she envied Paula’s unswerving dedication to her vision of submission. Lenora had never encountered such single-minded devotion to obedience. Paula lived to follow her rules, to obey orders, to please her master, and never deviate from the strictest interpretation on how others had structured her life. How could she ever replace someone like that?

First Evening

Trina’s group had been moved from the tool room straight to a dormitory cell. They were all housed in one large room, with a bunk for each of them, and a toilet in the corner. The bunks were placed end to end, two to a side, with a narrow corridor between them. The front of the cell was closed off by the familiar bars. There was a table and chair on the other side of those bars, she assumed for a Warden though it was empty at the moment.

The Warden who brought them in had assigned a bed to each of them. Trina sat on hers, rubbing her sore legs. They weren’t allowed to lie down until lights out. The trip from the tool room had taken forever, or at least it felt that way. It couldn’t have been less than an hour. They had to stop to rest at least six times. The Warden seemed to be sympathetic; he hadn’t pushed them to hurry.

She ran a hand over the polished metal band around her ankle. For the foreseeable future there would be no ‘hurry’ any time in the near future. The inside of the shackle appeared to be lined with some kind of thin padding. That would keep down chafing. If she was careful the cuff didn’t move around on her ankle while walking. Not exactly what I’d call walking, she thought, more like shuffling.

She stopped at the rivets. There were two of them, rougher in texture compared to the plated steel. She’d seen them in the machinist’s hand. Each one was the diameter of her thumb. One would have been plenty; they had to use two. The rivets had the dull gray look of mild steel, or something similar. Whatever they were made of, it was strong enough to hold the shackle shut despite any effort she might attempt in an escape. Trina sighed. She felt trapped, controlled by men she had never met, unable to resist them. The ones in authority over me, that phrase came back to her.

At least the handcuffs were gone. That was an immense relief, to be able to use her hands and arms again. In small doses this might have been a fun night. It had all the elements she craved: bondage, confinement, nudity and especially dominant men in charge. At the end of a night like that it was more than likely she’d be on her knees, begging to be used by the man with the keys in his hand.

Her hands went to the waistband above her hips. Not much point in begging now. She used her fingers to explore the front. It was far too effective in blocking any attempt at fun and games. It wasn’t a cheap lock either. Without a key the belt would remain her constant companion.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Trina looked up at Joan, sitting across from her. “The purpose of these belts is kind of obvious. I doubt the Wardens would approve of us trying to get around them.” The woman shrugged. “Just a suggestion.”

Trina jerked her hands away from her belt. Her companion was right. “Thanks for the warning; I was daydreaming.” Trina rapped her knuckles against the triangular shield between her legs. “This really sucks, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah, I don’t know which is worse, this belt or the lovely set of matching ankle bracelets.” Joan held up her feet, yanking the chain between them tight.

Trina lifted up her legs and began moving them up and down, rattling the ankle chain. The other three joined in, laughing at the chorus. “Would you believe I asked for this?” Trina told them. “It’s true, I volunteered to come here. To date it ranks as the stupidest move I ever made.”

Joan nodded in agreement. “This guy, I met him online. He said the Center would be a life changing experience. So, I signed up. I’ll change his life if I ever find him, and not for the better.” Joan mimicked a motion of choking someone.

“I don’t mind it so much,” that was from Yoshi. “I hope we are treated well. My father, he’s in the military. That’s where he met my mother, in Okinawa. When I was growing up, he was strict, but he always took the time to explain to me why it was so important that I listen to him. Now that I’m on my own I miss having him in my life. I thought if I signed up for the Center I might recapture some of that, what would you call it, loving discipline?”

Trina felt a kinship with Yoshi. She too wanted that loving discipline, and so much more. She was eager to commit to a lifetime relationship, to grow old in the arms of the right man. Unfortunately, the only prospects to date had wanted nothing more permanent that a convenient sex toy. It might continue for a week, maybe an entire month, but she knew in her heart they were not going to last.

Draw Straws

The moment the outside door to their cell opened Trina and the rest of the group jumped to their feet. A Warden came in, carrying a thermos bottle and a paper sack.

“Lights out will be in ten minutes. That means bedtime for all of you. When the lights dim, you are permitted to lie down and use the covers. There will be no talking. You may get up to use the toilet, providing you keep it quiet. During lights out you do not have to rise if a Warden enters or leaves.” He put down the thermos and bag on the table. “I’ll be on watch tonight. If you have a problem, raise your arm and wave it to get my attention. It better be important; I don’t like to be disturbed.”

Trina had mixed feelings about his announcement. She liked the idea of someone watching over her, keeping her safe. Not that she was in any danger, given the multiple layers of security around her. It was a little unsettling though, having a stranger sitting so close by, staring at her while she slept.

“One more thing before you go to bed. You all saw this cage behind the table?” Trina had. She assumed it was there as a warning. Break the dorm rules and punishment was close by. “I’m going to leave for a few minutes. The four of you will choose one from your group to keep me company by spending the night in there. The other three will stay in their bunks. When I come back one and only one of you will be standing in front of the cell gate. If no one’s there, or you decide to be noble and all volunteer, then everyone spends the night in those head cages. I’m told it’s quite miserable, much worse than the alternative. I suggest you act quickly. When I return, three of you will be in bed. The fourth will be waiting near the gate.”

With that depressing announcement he turned around and walked out the cell block entrance. Trina slowly crept up to the bars to get a better look at the cage. She had to stop at the blue stripe painted on the concrete floor, an arm’s length from the bars. The blue moats, anywhere in the Center, were forbidden territory, never to be crossed without permission.

From what she could tell the cage wasn’t on the roomy side. It opened in the front, with a lock at the top. It did have a solid floor, a small concession to comfort. It would make a miserable bedroom. She turned around to face the group.

The other three were still sitting on their bunk, all with worried expressions. One of them had to accept a most unpleasant night, or they all would receive far worse. “Anyone care to step forward?” Trina asked. She stumbled back to her own bed to sit down.

They were all exhausted from a long, stressful day. No one, Trina included, wanted a sleepless night in a cramped cage. None of them wanted a return to the line of head cages either. “What are we going to do?” asked Joan. “Draw straws?”

“I’m fresh out,” Trina snapped back. They were in an impossible position. One of them had to make the sacrifice to save the others. Doing nothing would only make it worse. They had to act, and quickly.

They all heard the click of the lock from the cell block door. Time was up. Trina looked around at the group, all with heads hung low in resignation the worst was coming. Sighing, Trina stood up and slowly made her way to the bars.

The Cage

Kneeling down, Trina crawled into the cage. The floor was padded with a vinyl cover, a small concession to her comfort. Inside, she twisted around so she could sit with her back to the rear of the cage. She pulled in her feet so the Warden could close the cage behind her. There was a distinctive clunking sound when the bolt on the lock slid into position.

It was every bit as cramped inside as it appeared from the outside. She had to lean forward, chin on her knees, arms wrapped around her legs. Through the bars on top of the cage she could see the Warden looking down on her. It was going to be a long night.

He walked back to the cell bars, no doubt checking on the three women sleeping in comfortable beds. They owe me, big time, she thought. When he returned to his chair, he was so close she could have reached between the widely spaced bars to touch him. He was more interested in pouring himself a cup of coffee.

Trina closed her eyes, resigned to suffer in silence. Keeping him company, she remembered that phrase. From her perspective it was difficult to find a difference between that task and being punished, even though she hadn’t done anything wrong. Did I irritate him, or maybe the whole group did something he didn’t like? Maybe I do deserve this. Guilt was creeping in.

Despite the turmoil raging in her head, fatigue caught up; she fell asleep. She had no idea how long she slept, but she woke up with the Warden’s finger poking her shoulder. She tilted her head up at him. “Sir?” she asked, still half asleep.

“Put your hands through the bars, above your head.” He kept his voice low, barely a whisper. She could still hear that hard edge of command in it. She had to shift around before she reluctantly raised up her arms, extending her hands through the bars. It was obvious what to expect next.

Click, her left wrist first, followed by another click when the cuff closed around her right wrist. Her body was already a mass of aches and pains; naturally he had to make it worse. What she didn’t expect was the cage door opening in front of her.

“Go ahead,” he told her. “Stretch your legs. You have permission.” Trina wasted no time. Unwinding her bent legs was pure heaven. It felt so good she didn’t care that her hands were stuck to the top of the cage.

He rolled his chair around to get a better look at her. She didn’t miss the appreciative once over from his eyes. It didn’t take any great deductive powers on her part to figure out he liked what he saw. Yet all he did was sit there, as if he was debating some moral quandary. Why, she had no idea. This was the Center; he could take whatever he wanted from her.

“Okay, here it is,” he began. “The cameras are off, no one’s watching while I’m in here overnight. Thing is, you have nice legs. I’d like to find out, first hand,” he smiled at her, “if they’re every bit as soft and smooth as they look. I’m not supposed to do that, so you get a choice. This may be the only time while you’re at the Center you can refuse a Warden. Say no, shake your head, and I’ll leave you alone, no aftermath to worry about. It’s up to you.”

Who was this guy? Letting her say no? That was totally out of character, yet there he was, waiting for her to reply. “I don’t mind, sir. Go ahead if you like. I hope you aren’t disappointed.” Did I just say that? She couldn’t believe her ears.

Trina held very still when he rested his hand on her knee. He took his time, slowly working his way down to her ankle. She could feel the feathery touch of his fingers tracing the edge of the shackle. “I’m sure you hate these leg chains. If it helps, I find them very attractive.”

Sure, they’d be attractive to a control freak. He might have a different opinion if he were the one wearing them. She didn’t care though; all she wanted was for him not to stop. “Very nice,” he whispered. “Very…feminine.” Abruptly he stood up. Reaching into his shirt pocket he took out the handcuff key.

After freeing her hands, he reached down to help her out of the cage. When she stood up, he was very close to her. Trina looked up at him. In a whisper, she said, “Sir? If there’s a next time, you don’t have to ask.” She was so embarrassed she had to turn her head to one side.

Roughly he grabbed her chin and forced her to look into his eyes. “When you speak to me, to any Warden, you do not look away. Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir.” It felt like her mind had gone blank. All she could think about was pleasing him, obeying his every command.

“C’mon, I’ll put you to bed. You still have time to get some real sleep.” Using a hand on her arm he led her through the cell gate to her bunk. When he turned to leave she watched his back, disappointed he hadn’t continued touching her. After he locked the gate to the cell he pointed to her bed. She got the message, climbing in on his order. She was asleep within seconds, dreaming of a man she knew nothing about, a stranger who had come into her life and taken over with lightning speed.

Anomalies

Cheers went up around the table when the Head of Research stopped the video. On screen Trina was inside the cage, her legs extended out the front. “Okay, hold back on the celebrations. This may be a one-off statistical anomaly. It looks like the model predictions were accurate to better than a 90% confidence level, but we’re talking a sample size of one.”

He cleared the video, replacing it with a slide full of bullet points. “What do we know?” He highlighted the top of the list. “Self-sacrifice, or self-interest? The model says she’s disposed to help, to serve, to volunteer for the cage. It could just as easily be the lesser of two evils, to avoid the head enclosures. Considering the alternative, anyone would volunteer. Tim, that head cage idea was really nasty, sure you aren’t a closet sadist?” Everyone laughed.

“This is the important one. Compliance: the model predicted a complete lack of defiance in any form. Past history shows a moderate trend for most level threes, and a much lower inclination for level fours, to present some form of hesitancy when faced with the open cage door. We see at least a two standard deviation measure on this point with the level five, favoring no resistance at all in every case. If we collect enough data points similar to this, we’ll have a good case to show a positive correlation between genetic disposition and predictable behavior.”

16.01.2022

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