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The Rape Run

Categories Fantastic, BDSM, Humiliation, Male Domination

Authror: Olga Anastasia

Published: 27 March 2018

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The Rape Run

Written by Olga Anastasia

The Runners:

Melena de Santo – The Colonel

Ja-alixxe – The Bounty Hunter

Aireela – The Amazon

Elionara – The Dancer

Palonae – The Princess (Princess Palonae Noonian Aurora Tonova)

Tasha Castelaine – The Career Woman

Jasmeena – Daughter of the Sands

Cara Haston – The Model

Leesha – The Born Slave

Oorla – The Actress

The Hunters:

Salarin – The Sadist

Leshan – The Runt

Cronorgan – The Master

Lotho-etsarra –The Libido

Jackran-ad-aktar – The Alien

1 - General

I am sleeping alone in my small regulation single bed, as always, when I’m woken by the urgent alarm call of someone pressing the buzzer outside my door.

“Light!” I command.

Sensors detect my voice, signal to the lamps, and my cabin gradually illuminates with a soft glow.

There’s enough light to see my soldier’s watch. As usual I fell asleep with it still fastened round my slender wrist. Zero-two-hundred hours, prime-world time. It’s not my duty period. It’s the middle of the night.

I recheck the time in confusion.

The ship’s engines are resonating with their familiar constant, gentle shush. I hear no tortured roar of battle maneuvers, and there is not the sound of blasts hitting the hull. Everything seems calm, so I have not been woken because we’re under attack.

I am not due on duty for hours. What can have been important enough to wake me up?

The buzzer repeats, a longer, insistent sound.

“Okay, Okay, I’m awake,” I shout out testily. The internal walls marking out the cabins in this cruiser are paper thin, so the caller outside will be able to hear me.

I swing my smooth, pale, bare legs from the cot and stand, padding across the floor to the door. My long hair tumbles into place down my back.

A screen to the right of the exit shows the image of Mansom, my steward. I scowl. Most in the Republic fleet would consider themselves lucky to be high-ranking enough to have their own assistant and normally I appreciate him. But in the middle of the night I’m only good for being tetchy.

I press the open button beside my cabin door, which sweeps aside in a rush of hydraulics, and I turn away without speaking, walking back towards the metal basin.

Mansom enters the room and the door closes behind him. He carries a steaming coffee to help wake me up. He knows my moods and habits well enough to bring this strategically sensible offering.

“Ma’am,” he says diffidently. “Sorry to wake you, but the general wants to see you immediately.”

I grunt, splashing my face with cold water from the basin, and turn back to catch him in the act of watching me. Mansom looks quickly away, but his guilty start gives away that he was staring at my body, again. Okay, I’m only wearing standard issue female underwear – flimsy white cotton panties and a tight vest, but really Mansom… Half the population of the universe are women with organs same as mine. Get over us.

But he’s been assigned as my steward for long enough, being forced to look every day at what he wants but will never have, that the normal male appreciation of a familiar woman has turned to desire, and then to hungry obsession.

I get this kind of thing all the time. Young women serving in the space fleet are vastly outnumbered by our male colleagues so we have to learn to cope with the constant hungry eyes. Luckily rank counts, and while junior ratings are perpetually hit-on, men of Mansom’s grade know better than to dare try anything with a senior officer.

For my part, I have always refused to let myself be treated any differently or behave any differently because of my sex. It’s a point of principle. So that meant when a male steward was assigned to me, I didn’t ask for a female instead. I determined he’d have to put up with me in my smalls, just the same as if he was steward to a guy.

I believe to the depths of my soul that a woman should be able to fill any role in the Republic fleet just as well as a man, and it shouldn’t matter a jot if that woman is considered desirable. If I show discomfort, well that’s just a sign of weakness on my part. So, just as I’ve done every other time this has happened, I pretend I haven’t even noticed my male steward mentally undressing me, and I sip my coffee.

It’s steaming hot and it tastes good. My mood starts improving immediately.

Mansom helps me into the snug white regulation jumpsuit that is my uniform. A symbol on the upper arm of my suit marks me as a colonel. The shoes I slip on are also white, sturdy and utilitarian.

Unlike some women in the fleet, I take no time to apply makeup. Men don’t have to. Why should I?

Only a couple of minutes later, clad in standard field dress, I am moving alone through the corridors of the ship towards the general’s office. Mansom is left behind, at liberty to return to his bed and his dreams.

Passing a place where the vessel narrows allowing viewing windows to have been installed on both sides of the walkway, I see no sign of a planet or sun around us. We are in deep space.

A cruiser of the Republican fleet never drops its guard, even in the middle of the night, so although it is my time to be resting, others are about their duties. A group of soldiers comes down the corridor towards me, dressed in the same uniform jumpsuits I wear. There movements are leisurely, confirming we are not on alert.

Most of the soldiers are men, but there is one woman with them, not as tall and long-legged as me but with a pretty face and neat blonde hair, that she keeps cut shorter than I wear mine.

The approaching group clock the insignia on my jumpsuit (or more likely simply recognize me), and give me the salute due to a senior officer. I return the salute casually. All the men make their way past me and continue down the corridor, but the blonde female hangs back.

“Guys, I’ll catch you up,” she calls after her comrades in her high voice.

Once the men are out of sight, formality can be dropped.

“Jasmine,” I say, pulling her to me in a chaste hug.

“Melena,” she says, giving me a peck on the cheek.

She carries a flowery scent along with her, like her own personal cloud. She shouldn’t really wear fragrance on duty, but no-one is likely to report her for it, including me. Jasmine is one of my few close friends here on the cruiser. Being two women in a mainly male environment we would probably have been drawn together whatever, but our similar personalities and sense of humor made us closer even than the many other serving females who can only let their guard down in the company of their fellow women.

Jasmine is quite junior to me in rank, a sergeant, so in front of the rest of the crew she has to treat me respectfully, but the moment we’re off duty I enjoy and actively encourage the open, casual way she speaks to me.

“Why are you up?” she asks me with puzzled concern. “It’s not your time on duty.”

“Something going on,” I tell her. “I’ve been summoned to see the general.”

“Raiders, perhaps? Or smugglers? Or a strike planet-side?”

“Possibly. But then why aren’t the crew at their stations, and why are we in deep space? I’ll let you know later, if it’s something I can discuss.”

Jasmine nods, and adds in a relaxed tone, “You working out today?”

“Certainly. I’ll come and find you.”

The gym on the ship isn’t sexually segregated, so Jasmine and I soon found there’s safety in numbers from the constant discreetly watching male eyes, if we perform our keep fit together.

Working out is supposed to be a nice part of fleet military routine, recreation, but I frown when I think of braving the gym. Okay, it’s the one place I can’t avoid wearing tight clothing, but it’s not that there’s a problem with guys trying to pick us up the moment I venture out in public. I am too senior in rank for men to come onto unless they want to risk being busted down to private, and Jasmine’s boyfriend - one of the space marines – would break anyone’s neck if they messed with his girl.

They never say anything, but we can’t forbid them looking at us, and boy, as soon as I step out from the changing room dressed in lycra, watch they do.

For example, I have to lean over a bench to lift a weight and work my triceps, and seeing how I have to do that with my ass sticking up in the air the bench press machine right behind me never seems to be without an occupant. Jasmine literally mounts a rear guard for me, scowling at anyone sat behind me who is being too blatantly obvious.

But even with her there I’ll always feel uncomfortable when I’m in that sweat-soaked room. And yet just like the situation with the male steward, at the gym I’d be letting them win if I let my sex stop me doing what I want.

“See you later,” I say in farewell to Jasmine, and squeezing her hand in platonic friendship, I continue my progress until I’m at the quarters of our commanding officer.

I press the buzzer at the general’s door, and hear his voice call, “Enter.”

“Sir,” I say, as I walk into the room.

The general is sat behind a large desk, with a facing chair on its opposing side already prepared for me. I’ve known him for years but salute him smartly all the same.

“Colonel,” he says, gesturing to the chair. “My apologies for waking you. Please sit.”

I do.

He surveys me for a moment, like a schoolmaster considering a difficult pupil. The general is a small man, wiry-built and in his sixties, but he still has a sharpness and a manner that commands respect.

“Colonel de Santo,” the general says. “May I call you Melena?”

I look suspiciously at him. First names in the fleet mean bad news.

“If you must, Sir,” I say.

“You have been critical in our Republic’s fight against the Slavers of Aghara-Penthay,” he begins, “and proven your courage again and again.”

There is not much I can reply with to this flattery, but, “It’s a fight I believe in, General.”

It is a cause close to my heart. I detest the Slavers, and everything they represent, and I think there is no more important task for the space fleet than bringing about their defeat.

For decades, no, centuries, the Slavers have been the scourge of this part of the galaxy. Acting like common raiders, they prey on ships following their legitimate business along the trade routes, and like all pirates the Slavers come not to destroy, but to plunder.

As their title suggests, their fortune comes from the capture and sale of slaves. They’ve been so successful at this work that over the centuries they’ve grown hugely wealthy.

These riches enabled them to afford so many ships and armaments to protect themselves that now they can menace this region with impunity. Even the Republic’s space fleet cannot currently beat them in their home territory, and dare not approach their hub, the horrific planet of Aghara-Penthay. We’ve fought a series of skirmishes along the frontier, encounter after encounter for decades and no sign of a victor.

“We all want to see them defeated,” says the general with a nod of agreement that our cause is the right one. “And I can imagine that as a woman, you particularly oppose them.”

Briefly I feel myself scowl, disliking any reference to my gender and how it might make a difference. He is, however, unfortunately correct.

While the Slavers deal in slaves of any kind, and are known for selling some healthy, strong males for breeding stock or for intense physical labor, their specialty and their fortune comes from trading women. Beautiful women. The sexual desires of the galaxy’s men are insatiable, and the immoral rich and powerful will always pay well for compliant, broken, and most importantly desirable, female slaves. So, yes, given that as I too am a female considered to be unusually attractive, it is in my own interest to free the galaxy from their threat. My gender makes us automatic enemies.

“You are perhaps the highest profile woman serving in the Republic fleet,” continues the general. “Your success in battle against the Slavers has made you a symbol of woman’s struggle for equal rights in the galaxy.”

I am further irritated as once more the general brings my sex into the discussion, so I wave an arm dismissively. Okay, the fleet’s publicity arm put me in a propaganda movie, and they used my image on a recruiting poster to attract more women into the fleet, but I never sought that attention.

“I’m not interested in being famous, or a symbol, general, if that’s the issue,” I reply with increasing annoyance. “If that’s what’s what you want to talk about, I’d welcome a lower profile.”

“Nonetheless, you have grown into a figurehead, and caught the notice of the galaxy, and the Slavers themselves,” he says, moving on in a calm tone, like I’m a difficult beast he’s trying to settle.

The general looks at me shrewdly, and even more carefully he says, “Your beauty has only added to the attention you receive. A journalist described you as both the most famous and the most desirable woman in the Republic fleet.”

Being reminded of this statement, and the teasing I received after its publication, makes me really angry.

“What difference does all that make, General?” I snap back, not hiding the hostility in my voice. “You know that’s all baloney.”

“It matters because your reputation makes you a target, Melena,” he answers patiently. “Imagine the damage to the Republican fleet’s credibility and the fear that will spread through the Republic’s women if even the great Melena de Santo was paraded as a sex slave.”

I dismiss this as well, for I have long known what the Slavers would try to do with me if I were captured, but I get on with the job anyway and I avoid contemplating that fate. I devote my efforts to the downfall of the Slavers, not to fearing them. All the same, when the general utters the phrase “sex slave” I shudder for a moment.

“I won’t let that happen, Sir. I would kill myself before they took me,” I say, trying to sound confident.

“You might not have that choice, Melena. Lots of women would rather die than be broken, and yet they are captured and tamed all the same.”

I clench my fists under the desk to hide my surging emotions. Every female in the galaxy is aware of their fate if they are captured by the raiders of Aghara-Penthay. Not even I can escape the fear the Slavers instill.

Deep down a part of me knows that like so many women before me, I would too be unable to resist if I fell into the Slaver’s hands. They would break me under the whip and the neural implants, and then I’d live out my days enduring rape after rape after rape. But I suppress my personal fears to fight the good fight, and that’s what I’ll keep on doing. I’d rather not dwell on such gruesome things.

“Why have you woken me to discuss this, General?” I ask suddenly. “What is so urgent?”

He pushes a screen across the desk. There is an image of myself on it, the one they used in the recruiting poster.

I remember standing proudly with my head held high for that photo. I’d turned up for the shoot in my regulation jumpsuit but Publicity had made me wear something stylized and tighter than my usual uniform. And I hate the camera angle they used in the end. In that profile, the most prominent thing about me is my embarrassing gravity defying breasts.

A few parodies and versions edited to make me look obscene have made it out to the ether. The photo on this one hasn’t been altered, but the writing on the version filling general’s screen isn’t the call to women to join the fleet. I can read the new text perfectly well for myself, but he speaks anyway.

“The Slavers have put a bounty on you, Melena, a bounty that’s almost unprecedented. They’re offering half a million credits to someone who delivers you to the Slavers alive. And what makes this situation even worse - we’ve only just come out of communication silence, and discovered it. That means this announcement has been all over the galaxy for several days. Bounty hunters will already be on their way here.”

The fears I’ve spent years quelling flutter in my belly, but I hide them from the general. I refuse to show weakness, especially weakness that results from me being a woman.

Inside, I’m in anguish though.

Who will resist such a fortune? It is enough credit for a bounty hunter to spend the rest of their life living in luxury. Every lowlife in the galaxy will be attracted by this fortune. And just for capturing me. Fortune seekers will already be on their way here.

“I have to take you off active duty and put you under protection, Melena,” the general says. “You need to go into hiding somewhere secure until this blows over.”

“No!” I protest. “That’s giving in to them, if you take me off service just because I’m female. The galaxy will believe that I’ve run away like a coward, and that would send a worse message than if I was taken.”

“No it’s not worse, Melena,” the general presses, almost pleading. “Just think what the Slavers will do to you.”

“I won’t give in to them,” I insist firmly, and then remember my rank, and say, “No way, Sir.”

The general pauses, leaning forward to make a steeple with his forearms, elbows on the desk, and tries a new tack. I can see the deep furrows of age in his face. His skin is quite brown, tanned from leave spent on sunny planets.

“Have you ever met a woman who’s been fully processed through Aghara-Penthay?” he asks.

“Of course not,” I reply.

Slaves are almost never recovered by the free planets of the Republic, once they’re taken. After capture, women disappear into the hidden places of the universe, the cellars, the dungeons, the pits and the cages of those who can afford them on the worlds that don’t respect law and order.

While women might have equal rights in most of the Republic, possessing a vagina instead of a penis means a human becomes property as soon as she sets foot on Slaver territory. Occasionally women return from the station orbiting Aghara-Penthay, where they can enter and leave under the escort of a registered male “owner”, but I’ve never met a woman who has been down on the planet’s surface. Females only go there when they’re lost, and on their way to be processed and sold by the Slavers.

“I think you should meet one, Melena. It would give you some perspective.”

And without giving me time to reply the general leans forward and presses the intercom on his desk.

“Ask Beyala to come in, please,” he says to someone.

While we wait for this Beyala he offers me coffee, but I’m pissed with him and I refuse. I sit back petulantly in my chair and fold my arms under my chest.

It is only a couple of minutes later when the girl enters.

She’s wearing a standard ship jumpsuit, the navy blue that designates a civilian, but despite her entirely generic attire I can tell immediately what she once was, a slave of Aghara-Penthay, because Beyala has the mark.

The slave mark – an indelible sign that a woman has been processed on the surface of that vile planet.

Beyala’s imprint reminds me of dark make-up, eyeliner or perhaps a tattoo, swirling patterns that emerge from the edge of her right eye to decorate the right side of her face. The spiral design is the same one that has been used by the Slavers for centuries, and is supposed to remind the observer of the letter that starts the word ‘slave’ in the ancient galactic universal script.

Even though it’s a barbaric thing to inflict I must admit that adorning Beyala, it adds to the beauty of an already exceptionally striking woman.

Unlike some marks and brands which owners apply to the thigh or the shoulder blade, Aghara-Penthay’s Slavers choose to mark the girl’s face, because for the rest of her life unless she veils herself it will be almost impossible to disguise. With each person she meets, their eyes will track to the mark before they go anywhere else, reminding the girl and everyone else constantly of what she is.

I realize I’m being rude and staring, and yet I notice Beyala is watching me with almost as much interest as I’m studying her. Embarrassed, I look away, down at the desk.

“Eight days ago we seized the heavily-armed ship of one Kazar, a drug trafficker and a thoroughly nasty piece of work,” says the general.

“I remember the mission,” I reply.

Yes, I was leading one of the assault teams. I lost a good man, blasted so completely that not even immersion in a healing tank could save him. My group dealt with the resistance from Kazar’s guards, but after the capitulation we left. I was not involved in searching the upper decks.

“When we searched Kazar’s personal quarters, we found Beyala waiting in his bed,” the general says. “He’d made so much profit from narcotics that he could even afford to buy a girl from the Slavers.”

I look at her respectfully, a real slave of Aghara-Penthay. This woman is exceptionally lucky to have been rescued. Very few of her kind ever see the free worlds again.

“Beyala,” the general says, addressing the woman in a kindly voice, and with great courtesy, he says, “If you’d like, you may sit.”

I don’t need an explanation for the general’s elaborate formality.

“They gave you the implant chip,” I say to her, my voice choking with sympathy.

Implanting is the stuff of nightmares, another example of the Slaver’s cruelty towards their captives. Lodged in Beyala’s brain stem, too deep to be surgically removed, it will be there. Her control chip.

Everyone in the fleet has sat through briefings on Slaver technology, and knows about implants. The chip interferes with brain patterns, so the slave behaves not according to their own free will, but according to the program’s configuration.

Some functions are common to all chips. An implant makes it impossible for the carrier to commit suicide, either through action or inaction. Yes - a slave cannot even escape their hellish existence by ending their own life.

A woman with an implant cannot harm a male, any male, in any way either, also by action or inaction.

The chips have a location broadcast ability, which enables the Slavers to find the slave, anywhere in the galaxy. That means once a slave is implanted, it’s almost impossible for her to escape the Slaver’s control. Even here in the Republic Beyala will live her whole life in fear of being retaken. She will never be free.

Almost all women’s chips have an obedience function active, which explains the general’s careful phrasing to Beyala. To me, this would be the greatest humiliation to endure. She feels an overwhelming compulsion to follow any request, as long as it’s given by a man. That means her unlamented former owner Kazar did not have to worry about keep her captive or Beyala running away. He just had to ask her not to leave, and she would have felt an irresistible urge to stay with him.

Our best technicians still haven’t found a way to defeat a chip’s encryption and turn them off, and they can’t be surgically removed without causing terrible damage. The chips have to be left in place. Beyala is in a civilized place now, on a Republic cruiser, but she’s still a slave. So right here in this room in front of me, all the general would have to do to have sex with Beyala would be to tell her to put out, and she’d oblige gratefully.

There are other functions that can be configured in control chip, which the Slavers customize according to the owner’s wishes. Women can be made desperate for sex – turned into raging nymphomaniacs, or, for the tastes of the sadist owner, women can be conditioned to be repelled by contact, and loathe any touch of a man. Her dislike will not protect her. If ordered, the slave will yield just the same.

Women can be turned lesbian; or mute; or submissive; or be programmed to be aroused by enduring torture or the wearing of restraints.

Even the women participating in the Rape Run are implanted, although as those ten are not yet full slaves, some of the functions are left dormant until after the competition is over. There would be no sport in hunting a female who could easily be found with a tracker. And where would be the victory in capturing a woman who would come the moment you called her?

“Beyala’s implant makes her very vulnerable to exploitation,” the general tells me, as if I, a woman, wouldn’t already know the implications of suffering the process. “The fleet will have to place here somewhere she can be protected by those merciful to her condition, and she will need assistance for the rest of her life.”

The look I flash him is hard, for I know exactly why the general is showing Beyala to me. It’s a crude attempt at manipulation.

This ruined female before me is a living example of the fate that awaits me if I fall into the Slavers’ hands. He expects me to go meekly into protection as soon as he shows me how her whole future has been shattered by one microchip.

His ploy works, in that the horror I’m meant to feel at the idea of living her life is so intense, it’s as if someone has gripped my heart. And yet the sympathy I feel for her, the sisterly comradeship, is also intense. This is why I joined the space fleet, to help put an end to such barbarity.

“I’m so sorry for what they’ve done to you,” I tell her with great tenderness.

“Your sympathy for me is misdirected,” Beyala surprises me by interrupting, her answer delivered in a brusque, dismissive tone. I’d expected her voice to be compliant, like a slave, but she sounds cold, almost authoritarian. I soon learn why.

“My implant prevents me feeling any unhappiness at my situation. Rather, I rejoice in serving men. So do not pity me. Furthermore the particular configuration of my chip programs me to feel masochistic urges around men – I truly want them to hurt me - but sexually sadistic cravings towards all other women. So your sympathy, to me, sounds only like an expression of your own weakness, and as it would arouse me to see you suffer, I recommend you do not show such vulnerability.”

I understand now why she has been staring at me so intently. She’s enjoying my fear of the Slavers. Floundering for something to say, I try to break the sudden tension in the room.

“Do you feel aware of the implant?” I can’t help asking from morbid curiosity.

Beyala looks contemptuously at me, and snorts with derision.

Gods, she wants to hurt me so much she’ll even try with words. Is the control over her that bad? And I do flinch, stung by such animosity from a complete stranger.

“I’m asking the question,” the general interrupts gently, taking control. “Answer me please, Beyala,”

Compelled now to reply, she immediately does.

“I know these instincts that make me such a slave once were not my own, Sir,” she says to him, changing back from hostility to humility so immediately it’s as though someone flipped a switch, “and yet today they feel so deeply part of my identity it’s as if they’ve always been there. In that sense I’m not aware of the implant at all.”

“Some piece of my awareness knows I’m being controlled and my inclinations I would once have believed were shameful and wrong, and yet through the core of my being they’re also now me. As I stand here, Sir, I’m so desperate for you to tie me up and abuse me that I resent every second your whore friend sits here in this cabin with her prissy legs crossed.”

My face reddens with embarrassment both at such frank admissions and the unceasing venom directed at me. Neither could be faked, and clearly they run to Beyala’s core. It’s impossible to believe the delicate girl openly begging for cruelty could have been a normal young woman with the same will and urges as my own.

For a moment I have an image of my steward Mansom politely asking me for sex, and my irresistibly complying in some degrading act. I shudder.

“And this could be your fate, Melena, if you don’t go into hiding,” the general resumes. “This, and worse than this, for unlike Beyala they will certainly want to subject you to public degradation.”

Looking away from the almost predatory stare of the slave girl, I restore my courage and my equilibrium. Preventing this kind of treatment of sentient females is why I joined the fight.

“Whatever the risks, you can’t discriminate against me just because I’m a woman, and because men happen to find me attractive,” I say angrily. “That would contradict everything we stand for.”

“You don’t understand how desirable you are, Melena, and what a trophy you could be. There’s only one reason for such a vast bounty. You’re so beautiful they want you for the Rape Run.”

Before I can reply to that, the general’s expression changes, as if he’s had an idea. He looks questioningly at me, as though he’s seeing me in a new way.

“Maybe that’s the problem, I hadn’t thought of that,” he says. “Maybe you really don’t realize how much your beauty puts you at risk.”

Immediately he scoffs for a moment at his own illogical thinking aloud.

“But no, surely you must have experienced the way men see you, and react to you, and you release what a threat that represents?”

The general is a strategic and tactical genius, and I’m familiar with seeing his mind race and his understanding grow. His eyes widen, and shame floods me as I know what he’s about to ask.

“You have been with a man, haven’t you Melena?” he says abruptly. “You know… intimately… I’m sorry to ask such a personal question, but it affects your safety on my ship, and I must apply a commanding officers prerogative.”

I don’t answer but my hot blush of embarrassment must speak for me. His look of utter incomprehension, and Beyala’s malicious pleasure at my discomfort makes the humiliation ten times worse.

“Seriously, Melena? There are eight times as many men as women on this ship, and all of those guys would like to bed you,” he says, awestruck, “and in all the time you’ve been stationed here, you’ve not had sex once?”

His elbows hit the desk with a clunk and he puts his head in his hands, a gesture of despair.

“Gods, what the Slavers will do to you if they find out you’re a virgin? Please don’t let them capture you as a virgin, Melena.”

He looks up again.

“What’s the matter? Are you a lesbian or something?”

While Beyala smirks at me, I’m about to reply that it’s none of the general’s business, but a deep boom resonates through the ship. It sounds like the docking clamps. The general taps a symbol on his pad and puts on a businesslike manner.

“Supply vessels,” he says. “Right on time.”

My opportunity to argue has gone.

“We have to bring this meeting to a close,” the general says. He stands up, so I rise as a well, as soldiers do for a senior officer.

“Colonel de Santo,” he says to me. “Your orders are to report in six hours to the supply vessel Koshkeen, docking here as a cover to escort you into hiding. Dress as a civilian. Koshkeen will transfer you to Capital Prime, where you will be safe.”

It is a direct order from my line commander. I am forced to obey, just as much as if I was Beyala, and I click my heels smartly to indicate acceptance.

With his official orders delivered, the general’s face softens.

“Melena… I can’t give you this next request as an order, but as someone I hope you think of as your friend, I suggest in your remaining six hours you look for a man you find slightly attractive, and get yourself laid.”

I am outraged at such a request, and blush furiously. Beyala’s smile widens at my discomfort, and she’s compelled to say, “I hope they catch you, and you lose.”

My dignity demands a retort to both insults.

“For the record, Sir, this stinks. I’m going off the ship under orders, but note my objection.”

“Noted,” says the general, and I am dismissed.

As the door to his cabin closes behind me, I hear Beyala has switched to her wheedling tone once more, and is asking, “Now, Sir? Oh please! Do I have to beg?”

2 - Visitor

All the way back to my quarters, I seethe at the general.

How dare he?

One of the main reasons I joined the space fleet was because the Republic believes in the equality of women. Back when I signed up even fewer women had made it into the fleet, so I worked hard to show everyone that being female was no handicap, and equality was correct. I was determined to do as well as a man, and I what’s more I wasn’t going to be one of those who set her career aside to mother babies.

As I rose higher through the ranks and members of my sex became even rarer, being the first woman breaking down barriers became a point of pride to me. I would be an example to other girls, showing them that the Republic space fleet was a great career.

All that toil has just been proven futile, in one ten minute interview. The general’s high-handed dismissal showed me that nothing had changed for women, over all these centuries. Because I am female, someone passed a particular set of chromosomes before I was born, I am being treated differently. Because I am female, I cannot reach my full potential. Because I am female, I am a seen as prize, a trophy. I will no longer be given the chance to fight men as an equal – they will fight over me while I remain docile and passive. The victor will give me commands, and will do with me as he wishes.

The general thinks he is protecting me, as though he understands the situation better than I do. All he is doing is demeaning me with his treatment.

And being ordered into hiding was not even the greatest insult I just received. How dare he advise me to go and get laid? I thought he was patronizing me by taking care of someone he sees as a female unable to look after her herself, but interfering in my private life is far worse.

Some of my anger is also directed at myself, because my reactions gave away that I’m a virgin, in front of the slave girl who enjoyed every moment of my embarrassment, when I should have behaved calmly. God damn, some days I wish I’d been born a man.

“Are you a lesbian or something?” the general had asked me.

He’d never have asked a male subordinate if they were queer. It just so happens I’m not, or at least I’ve never spent time thinking about it, but that’s my personal business. The only reason I have my cherry is because I have more important concerns than my sexuality.

Pausing, I sigh, leaning against a window to look at the complex form of the cruiser, and several smaller ships docked alongside to load supplies. One of these might be Koshkeen, here to smuggle me into seclusion as though I’m a nun.

While my breath fogs the window glass I face up to the honest truth that I’m lying, even to myself. Okay, so I have been concerned about my sexuality – hetero with a hint of bi – but my shameful secret is that my body’s sensitivity is what really deters me from intimacy. The few times I’ve touched myself the response of my body – flaring into passion – makes me feel like there’s a sexual animal inside me that could claim me utterly once it was released.

First and foremost I’m a Colonel in the Republic fleet. I can’t let myself be reduced to something so aroused I cry out uncontrollably. I’m strong, not a woman who can be made desperate to orgasm.

So my limited sexual encounters have always been kept strictly to my terms. I gave head to a guy at boot camp, swallowing his slimy seed like I’d heard girls were supposed to do. I made out with a few guys, but as soon as they dared their hands inevitably would stray to my breasts, wanting to play with nipples that are almost as responsive as my more intimate place. I’d push them away, and they’d call me cold.

Always the same pattern with roaming hands and me fighting off the advances, until later on I was able to use my rank as a shield. I was relieved when the requests for dates finally stopped.

But still they look. They always look.

God damn my body!

I hit the button hard to open my door.

One of the cleaning orderlies is changing the bedding on my regulation cot. She has brought in a huge laundry basket – too large to carry, so it’s on wheels, with canvas sides. She’s in the blue jumpsuit of a civilian.

“Ma’am,” she says politely to me, as I walk in.

She’s an exceptionally pretty girl, this one. Not delicate, but a strong beauty, like a sportswoman. She’ll be one of those unfortunates living a life like mine – unable to bend over in the gym without guys staring, and ordered into a subservient place by her boss, who is inevitably a man.

Yes, I think to myself, watching with righteous indignation as she humbly goes about work. Her kind of role is the only place where the fleet wants pretty women. If you’re desirable, that means you’re only good for performing menial tasks like changing bedding.

I haven’t noticed this particular woman before, but there is a crew of hundreds on the ship, and new people arrive all the time. All the same, the beautiful ones usually stand out. Everyone on the ship knows my name, for example.

My hair doesn’t help. It’s a deep red color, the shade of wine, and it’s ruler-straight, never showing the least trace of a curl. Okay the attention from my hair is partly my fault - I’m vain about the color, and I grew it long, down to the base of my spine, way back in my teens.

But as for the rest of my body – that I could do nothing about. It was my genes that decided I’d be tall and slender, with delicate features and large eyes that make my face look even more feminine. My greatest curse – the gravity defying breasts, I inherited from my mother, and she also gave me the slim but athletic frame that makes my boobs so noticeable in relation to my ribcage. I’ve considered a reduction, just to escape the endless men who greet me to my face but as soon as they dare, look down. Surgery would be another way to let them win.

Cursing, I hit the button heavily that closes my cabin door.

In the corner of my private space is a small shower area. I’m high enough rank to have en-suite, and not need to rely on the communal washing areas. Stepping around the busy cleaner, I cross towards my shower, ready to warm the spray. First I intend to get clean, and then I’ll sit and consider whether should give up the last of my self-respect and go out looking for a screw.

I never reach the taps.

There is the smallest pain, just above my right hip. A pinprick hardly there, but enough to make me pause. No worse than a mosquito insect bite.

I’m trying to continue towards the shower, but for some reason I can’t move. It’s like my body no longer belongs to me. Time slows to a crawl. The muscles in my body spontaneously relax, except for my heart which is suddenly racing. My knees bend, involuntarily, and I start to collapse towards the hard cabin floor.

I’d strike my head if it wasn’t for the hands steering me. The woman’s hands. She pushes me forward so I tumble into the laundry basket, which as it zooms towards me I see has already been lined with soft sheets. After this soft landing my feet and knees are tucked limply in after me. My inert body offers no resistance.

I’m on my side. I try to speak, but my mouth doesn’t move.

“Too easy,” I hear the cleaning girl’s voice say, and the sheet from my bed is thrown over me, so I see nothing but white.

3- Ja-alixxe

I have been kept restrained since my capture, my wrists shackled above my head, padlocked so I dangle from a fixture in the ceiling high above.

I am utterly helpless.

Ja-alixxe (I have learnt that is her name) is an experienced bounty hunter and clearly has no intention of allowing such a valuable prize as Melena de Santo to harm herself before Ja-alixxe claims the bounty. She is wise. Knowing the never-ending series of humiliations that await me once I’m handed to the Slavers, I will indeed take my life if I have the chance.

Kidnapping me was just as she said, too easy. It took less than five minutes from the moment when Ja-alixxe injected me with a temporary paralytic drug to the moment when she wheeled the laundry basket to her ship, docked in the middle of the other supply vessels. She was so confident she even took half a minute to flirt with the guards at the docking ring. Idiots - as soon as a beautiful woman bats her lashes at them, they’re too distracted to remember they’re supposed to check what she’s carrying.

With full permission of the fleet vessel, Ja-alixxe undocked, talking lazily to the command deck on her communications panel. All the while I lay helplessly in the basket next to her, hearing the voices of the fleet that should have been my salvation. I felt the basket roll slightly as we escaped into hyperspace and we were away, as easily as that.

I judged by the high pitch of the engines that we were in a much smaller vessel than the capital cruiser of the Republican fleet. “Be too small to be noticed”, is the mantra of the bounty hunter.

Once she’d safely escaped, Ja-alixxe attended to her captive at leisure.

I was first wheeled to a holding cell, still in the laundry basket. Before I’d recovered from the paralyzing injection she’d shackled my wrists closely together in front of me, and then cranked a winch that pulled me up to a suspension point in the ceiling. She surprised me with her strength, managing to move my limp body quite easily.

Hanging from my arms, my feet did not reach down to the floor.

I dangled, stretched out and at her mercy.

The next part was inevitable, but that didn’t make it any less degrading. Ja-alixxe couldn’t risk me carrying concealed weapons or tools I might use to get free. We both knew that.

The one piece jump suits work by the space fleet are hardly the most practical garments for wearing while restrained either – getting out of clothing for toilet breaks is impossible with shackled hands. So while I hung from my wrists, limbs still only just starting to tingle with returning feeling, she cut every last piece of my clothing away.

I was naked, and she wasn’t done with me. After I’d been stripped, a second set of shackles were locked onto my ankles, and threaded through a steel ring embedded into the floor. It seems unnecessary to me, but she was taking no chances.

“This key is going in another part of the ship,” Ja-alixxe told me, holding the small piece of metal that could release my shackles up to my view. “It will stay there until we arrive. So you can’t leave this room, even if you somehow successfully overpower me, because you won’t be able to unlock the restraints.”

Paralysis left me unable to respond so I just hung there, silent and shamefully bare. Ja-Alixxe appraised me, as she probably did with each captured bounty, and she must have seen the blush I gave in response to another woman looked at my body.

She showed her first trace of humanity.

“You won’t have to be nude for long,” she said in a more gentle tone. “Just until the drug wears off. I’ll find something convenient to clothe you when I come back.”

“Come back?” I wondered, and as she opened the cell door I realized she was going to leave me there in that degrading state. I tried to plead as she left me, but I couldn’t make a sound.

Alone, I waited there as limp as a side of meat in a butcher’s refrigerator, my spirits in the most miserable state I’d ever experienced.

I was seriously injured once, on a military operation against drug runners. You’d never know it to look at me now – they can do wonders with a couple of days immersed in a healing tank, even rebuilding an entire body. Anyway, the risk of being wounded I’ve always been able to cope with. My naturally sensitive flesh doesn’t have a strong tolerance to pain but I’ve never lacked for courage, and that time I was back on duty as soon as I was fixed, with the wreck the blaster had made of my body forgotten.

The prospect of rape has always terrified me, though. I think it’s because a rape victim is left with nothing, denied even the right to the intimacy of their own body. There is no humiliation in being wounded, but there is terrible shame in being violated.

So as I hung there and waited, paralyzed, privately, I could admit to myself that I was dreading my future. My mind kept going over visions of horror after horror of what might be to come – imagining what it would feel like if I were rendered passive and obedient, my skull implanted like the former slave on the ship; and then imagining countless faceless men looming over me as they rape me; rape me; rape me. I imagined being in the power of one of those men who likes to make girls scream, and I even imagined being sold to one of the carnivorous species that consider human female flesh a delicacy. I imagined torture and suffering. I imagined many things, but in those warped nightmares the pain was never as bad as the rapes.

These horrors had to be avoided at any cost, but on Ja-alixxe’s ship there was nothing I could do but pass the time anticipating these ordeals. As much as I could plan or think, or scheme, not one escape idea occurred to me. Dangling naked from my wrists, a captive in a bounty hunter’s ship, I was powerless to prevent any part of the destiny fast approaching.

I was there a couple of standard-galactic hours before I hear the sound of the security pad outside the cell. By that time I had regained the feeling in my body. Unfortunately my bladder was one of the last muscles to activate. Before physical control returned I humiliatingly urinated, a spray of warm liquid that went everywhere.

So when Ja-Alixxe opens the alloy blast door and I bravely lift my head to face her, she discovers me with piss drying on my leg.

And this is my new present life, the reality I must boldly face.

I have made only one strategic decision during my time alone in the cell, and that is to try to engage Ja-Alixxe in conversation every opportunity I have. Her mercy is my only chance now. I must appeal to her sympathy as a fellow female.

“How can you do this to another woman?” I ask her as my opening gambit. “You’ll know what the Slavers will do to me if they catch me.”

At the time when I pose my question she is sponging me clean. Ja-Alixxe has washed me, from my neck down, carefully moving my long red hair aside to clean my back. However much I try to keep stoically still I feel myself flinch and blush at the more intimate touches. Each time I twitch there is a clink from my chains. I give an unwanted gasp when she takes me by surprise, rubbing the sponge over my sex.

“It makes no difference whether you’re male or female, honey,” she says. “I’m a bounty hunter, and this is what I do. You’re just a commodity. There’s nothing personal in this. I’ll try to make you as comfortable as I can, while you’re in my custody.”

“They’ll make me do the Rape Run,” I press. “I’ll be defiled in front of the whole galaxy.”

Ja-Alixxe is not cruel, but neither is she kind. Not even my mention of the Rape Run, the most popular competition amongst men across the whole universe, and the most detested by women, provokes any sympathy.

“You’re just a commodity,” she repeats.

The sponge strokes between my legs a second time, and to my shame again I flinch.

“You’re sensitive,” she observes, pausing. “From the poster I was expecting someone tough. I didn’t think you’d be so… vulnerable.”

And so my body has betrayed me already. But that’s just the start of my embarrassment. A far greater humiliation comes when I see the clothing she has provided.

“Please, no,” I beg, for I recognize this uniform, and the vision of myself wearing such a thing has haunted my dreams.

The garment she’s brought me is a simple rectangular wrap of a silk-like material, the size of a small bath towel and scarlet red in color. These wraps are designed primarily for practicality, being particularly easy to remove and secure while the wearer remains secured, as their only fastening is one simple bow at the woman’s left side, under her arms.

They fit around the body also like wearing a towel, and the string bow is tied in place. The natural swelling of the female chest prevents it falling away.

These garments are made intentionally too small, for they are created to solely present the wearer pleasingly to men.

While I struggle futilely, my face growing hot with shame, Ja-Alixxe fastens mine about me. It comes down only as far as my upper-thighs, with just enough drop of fabric to conceal my most intimate place. On the Republic ship I would never show anything like this much bare leg.

At its upper hem it covers my areolae, but I am naked from there upwards, flaunting acres of my full cleavage and leaving my arms and shoulders bare. The thin fabric is woven not to be satin-smooth and as comfortable as possible, but to be just coarse enough to brush skin sensuously. With nothing protecting my flesh from the gentle friction of the wrap, my nipples are responding to the caress, protruding and drawing the eye to my chest.

Another deliberate design contrivance is making the garment too small to wrap round me completely. Thus at my left side where there is the fastening, a stripe of my flesh is entirely exposed. It is particularly undignified while I have my arms raised over my head, as I do now.

This view of my hip and the side of my breast makes clear to all who might see me I am wearing nothing beneath the one silk garment. Women are not permitted undergarments where I’m going, for this is the single item of clothing for a slave of Aghara-Penthay. She has dressed me as a slave girl of Aghara-Penthay.

Again I try to appeal to her conscience, mournfully telling her, “It would have been kinder if you’d killed me, bounty hunter.”

This, she doesn’t deny. But she justifies herself with:

“If I hadn’t done it, someone else would have found you. And a man would probably have raped you before handing you over.”

Once she’s finished washing and dressing me Ja-Alixxe moves away again. As she reaches the exit I realize I am to be abandoned in my cell for a second time.

“Wait, stay with me,” I plead, but the door is already closing.

Sensation has returned entirely to my body. So I use my rediscovered muscles to struggle, kicking out with one foot, but the ankle chain goes taut with a loud clang, and I start swinging so my view of the blank cell wall moves from side to side.

“Goddammit,” I say to myself.

I wish I didn’t have to feel so exposed, but my generous bosom means the slave uniform hangs down some distance away from my belly, and this combined with a denial of underclothes leaves me very open to the air. I look down and see my nipples are still showing.

“Goddammit,” I repeat. All someone would need to do to examine me would be to lift the hem. How is any woman supposed to bear this?

For a moment I kick out in a frenzy, venting some fear and rage, but all that happens is I finish swinging a little more noticeably in my shackles, my chest heaving with exertion and just as totally trapped. My hard nipples tingle from the teasing fabric.

So I freeze, and I wait, and I wait, and I wait.

After an eternity the tone of the ships engines alters – up on the bridge Ja-alixxe must be making a course change. She will be making for a rendezvous somewhere, taking me to sell me, and as soon as I think the phrase “sell me” my mind fills again with images of the rape and torture lying ahead.

I am not used to being in such a passive role – staring at the blank wall of a holding cell while waiting for a timetable only known to someone else, and it makes the hours drag out even more.

I try to pass the time by forming a new strategy. There must be a plan – I’ll go insane if I have to accept I’m really helpless. But by the time Ja-alixxe returns only one fresh idea has occurred to me. Appeals for mercy to my captor didn’t work, so at her next visit, I try another approach. Her own self-interest must be my salvation.

“You won’t be able to dock at the Aghara-Penthay trading station to sell me,” I tell her. “There are no free women permitted, even there. Any female has to be with a male escort - her owner.”

Ja-Alixxe is spooning a paste of nutrients into my mouth while I say this. I have considered refusing the food – attempting to starve myself, but I dismissed that approach. There will not likely be sufficient time to die of hunger before we reach our destination, and I’m sure once we arrive the Slavers will be able to ensure my co-operation. I am better to keep up my strength, and I docilely I swallow the savory paste.

“Do you wish to urinate?” she asks me when I’m finished eating. Ja-Alixxe is already pulling my wrap aside to permit me to do this, baring the neatly trimmed dark red nest of my pubic hair. I’m terrified by how quickly and easily my organs can be accessed in this nonexistent covering.

“No!” I quickly say, almost like a plea, and from my shrill cry it’s not clear if my answer refers to peeing, or the humiliation of having her expose my sex.

Trying to recover my dignity I warn again, “They won’t let you leave Aghara-Penthay.”

“We won’t be docking at the station,” Ja-alixxe says, and thankfully she drops my garment back into place. “We are travelling to rendezvous with one of the Slavers’ vessels. There the regulations can be a little more relaxed.”

“Even there, you’re taking a risk,” I tell her, and I deliberately look her body over to convey a sense of appraising her the way she looked at me. “Men would like to enslave you, as well.”

There is uncertainty in her face for a moment, but then I see her resolve herself. Ja-alixxe confidently spoons another mouthful of food into me.

“I have a plan for that,” she says. “The trade will be successful.”

During the next long period when I’m once again alone, still hanging from my wrists and facing the wall of my cell, there is little to do but try to imagine what this plan might be.

4 - Business

My dread has reached a level where I can barely keep from crying out when the moment finally arrives, and Ja-alixxe’s ship vibrates with the sounds of us docking.

She will come for me any moment, or maybe she’ll send Slavers in here to collect me. She will give me to them. They will put their hands inside my wrap, and they will touch me. They’ll want to put their cocks in me.

After the bass boom of docking, the ship falls almost silent as Ja-Alixxe ramps back the engines. I wish I could stop time, but it passes anyway. Slavers are coming for me, I scream in silent panic. And when the door to my cell opens, just as I’d dreaded it is not the familiar beautiful face of the bounty hunter I see.

The person before me wears a breathing mask that completely surrounds the head, and a dark brown jumpsuit that protects the body from any exposure to the air.

In his hand is a weapon, held like a baton, a prod or goad where the wielder can stimulate pain receptors by squeezing the handle.

A blast gun is also at this person’s belt, ready to deal with more serious situations.

At first I think this alien is one of the Slavers, already come to claim me, and in sudden panic I wail and try to shrink back, paddling my feet in the air to the limits of my restraints and making my chains jingle.

But then I see the slim build of the figure, and how the jumpsuit disguises the shape of the chest, and I understand.

“This is your plan for the trade,” I say to Ja-alixxe, calming my terrors and hanging still from my bonds.

I have to admire her ingenuity. Even the electronically synthesized voice she uses to reply sounds masculine.

“Melena - I can paralyze you completely and drag you along to the Slaver ship like I did before,” the male voice says, “but it will be more pleasant for both of us if you agree to co-operate and walk on your feet. For if you’re numbed and you arrive soiled, the first thing they’ll do is wash you.”

Not wanting to be stripped and interfered with, I comply, indicating this with a nod. The last thing I want when I meet the Slavers is to be paralyzed and even more helpless.

Ja-alixxe lowers me to the ground, and my bare feet touch the cool alloy of the floor. Gradually my wrists come down. My arms blaze with unexpected pain the moment I move, muscles protesting at the sudden change in my position after hours of suspension.

I’m free from the ceiling, but my wrists remain shackled. Ja-Alixxe only unchains my ankles from the ring in the floor to immediately rebind me. I am to walk in my chains.

In this fashion, like a condemned prisoner on their way to the gallows, I shuffle through her ship, proceeding in as large steps as my ankle bracelets permit.

The fabric of my slave wrap is almost weightless, and I can feel it waft around me even with my restricted movements, brushing my skin with an intimate kiss.

“Please,” I beg Ja-alixxe one last time when a cool air current flows across my sex. “Anything but this.”

But rather than provoke any mercy, my words seem to remind her of something – a task forgotten.

“Ah, we can’t have you speaking,” the masculine voice says, and without permission she holds an injector against the soft skin of my throat. There is a click from the trigger and I feel the familiar pulse of medication entering my bloodstream.

Behind it is a sensation of coldness, which spreads through my jaw. I try to ask her what she’s done but I only manage to emit a mute moan. My tongue feels like it’s enormous.

“I’m sorry,” the same male, electronically synthesized voice explains. “I cannot risk you betraying that I’m female. This disabling of your speech will be temporary, and you will be back to normal in a few hours.”

So it is in silent misery that I continue.

The shuffling journey through the corridors of Ja-alixxe’s ship is brief, with the vessel not being very large. A viewing window gives me a short sight of a larger cruiser docked above us, straddling Ja-Alixxe’s smaller ship as though it’s mounting to mate. It isn’t a Republican fleet ship.

Slaver.

I take a short elevator journey upwards with Ja-alixxe. Neither of us speak. She is unwilling, and I am unable.

Then, we walk along a gangway and I see a reinforced airlock, after which the color of the walls changes. I pause before this, longing reverse back up, but the bounty hunter indicates with a wave of her baton that I should continue. Blood pounds in my ears as filled with dread, I take a step over the line.

A Rubicon has been crossed. My feet stand on Slaver territory.

I am Colonel Melena de Santo. My sex – female. That means on this side of the line I have no more rights than an object.

The disguised Ja-alixxe whose true status is the same as mine gives me another shove, and despite my terror I force myself to walk forward again. In a small chamber beyond the hatch we meet the first men, Slaver men, and my suffering gets so much worse when I see the way they stare at me with such animal open desire. Eyes check out my face, then my breasts, then my long, bare legs, and then stay watching my boobs.

My face glows hot, and my heartrate climbs even faster.

God help me. I feel even more underdressed in my brief silken wrap than I did in front of Ja-Alixxe, and I hold my chained hands to my abdomen to keep from flashing glimpses of my front when the garment gapes open.

“This way,” one of them says to Ja-alixxe, making no comment at the bounty hunter’s strange appearance.

She prods me once with the tip of the baton to keep me advancing, but to my relief it isn’t switched on. With the jingle of steel I hobble onwards to my doom.

In this slow fashion we move further and further away from territory where women are free, and further away from hope. Ja-alixxe strides confidently beside me, not revealing any of the concerns she too must be feeling.

The two of us are boxed by four guards, male outnumbering female. All the slaver men are armed with similar control batons to the one wielded by Ja-alixxe.

I cannot help but look fearfully at these weapons. I know of their reputation, and mercifully I’ve never felt their touch, but it’s only a matter of time now. The baton is designed to inflict maximum pain, with minimal damage to the flesh. Their purpose is to control women by inspiring terror.

I’m expecting the financial transaction to take place on the bridge, but under the threat of these goads, we are led to the entrance of a room that looks like a recreation lounge. Here a man is sat waiting on a deep soft sofa. He is a bearded fellow with a scar on his cheek who looks over me so unpleasantly that my skin crawls.

He is in the uniform of one of the slaver’s senior officers, but I note he is not one of the five faction leaders – they who each provide two of the ten female victims for the Rape Run.

To enter his recreation lounge we have to walk through a frame as big as the doorway, which looks like a security detector for weapons.

I am not armed, and yet I notice a red light illuminates as I pass through the frame, and the same thing happens when Ja-alixxe walks through. I see the reclining man give a glance meeting that of his guards just for a moment, but he reveals nothing more away and makes no move to stop Ja-alixxe entering, even though she is quite clearly armed.

“I am Doshenk,” he says to her, “Captain of this vessel. You are in the realm of Aghara-Penthay.”

“Ja-alixxe,” I hear my captor reply, the electronic filtering making her voice sound deep and masculine. Not wishing to waste time here, she continues:

“I am here to claim the bounty on this woman, Colonel Melena de Santo.”

“Then sit,” Doshenk says graciously, “and have the slave kneel on the floor.”

I draw myself up taller. I have no intention of kneeling - taking the humblest place in the room. Unfortunately I have forgotten Ja-alixxe’s baton. A gentle push at the back of my knees, without the stimulator even being switched on, is all it takes to make me collapse painfully down.

I consider standing again, but it is foolish to expend energy in a futile gesture, and the bounty hunter puts her hand firmly on my bare shoulder, weight pressing down in silent warning.

Instead I quickly draw my bare thighs together. My wrap is too short to kneel with any modesty unless my legs are kept closed. Already I’ve probably flashed him a view of my most private place.

“Would you like some liquid or nutrition?” Doshenk asks cordially, but Ja-alixxe declines.

“I wish to be on my way, as quickly as possible.”

“We will hurry with completing the formalities then. I wouldn’t want to keep… such as you waiting.”

What Doshenk described as “formalities” are then performed, all the while with me waiting on my knees.

A sample of my DNA is taken, to be compared against the republic’s medical database for confirming my identity. While we await the results my shackles are exchanged, from ones that belong to the bounty hunter to ones where the keys are in only possession of the Slavers.

This change is a negative one for me, and not only in the identity of the new key holder is now a Slaver. The bindings on my wrists are also altered so my hands are locked together behind me, instead of in front. My sense of vulnerability increases – if I lean over my hanging uniform will move with it, gaping open. I am only able to hold my slave silk against my back with any dignity.

While I thus sink deeper into their hands one of the guards returns to the recreation cabin.

“It’s her,” he confirms to Doshenk.

The captain gives a self-satisfied smile. My fear ramps up further, even though I knew this was inevitable.

“Colonel de Santo,” he says to me, addressing me for the first time. “Welcome to Aghara-Penthay. I look forward to seeing you get fucked in front of the whole galaxy.”

I can’t help being stung by his coarse language, but there is no helpful reply I can make, so I wait on my knees, hiding my indignation. I don’t dare to look up and challenge him with eye contact. That would only invite reprisals.

He said I would be fucked and specifically stated it would be in front of the galaxy. It’s true then, as I’d feared. My future is the stuff of nightmares. It’s the Rape Run for me.

“Fetch the bounty payment for this female,” Doshenk commands, and the guard leaves the room again.

It takes two fully grown men to bring in the reward for selling me into slavery. The boxes of galactic credits – the bounty payment that will be enough for a life of luxury – look heavy.

“Our business is done?” Ja-alixxe asks. I can hear the relief in her voice, despite the mask disguising the intonation of her tone.

“There is one last formality,” Doshenk replies. “There are some criminal elements who threaten the security of Aghara-Penthay, and one of those is known to masquerade as a bounty hunter. We merely need to confirm you are not him. It is a straightforward identification check based on us viewing your face.”

“I don’t think so,” Ja-alixxe replies. “And I am no criminal.”

“Please, bounty hunter – just take the mask off, and you can be on your way,” Doshenk commands. He is polite, but it’s clearly an order this time.

“Negative,” Ja-alixxe replies. “Your atmosphere is poisonous to me. It is impossible to comply.”

I risk looking up to see what’s happening. Doshenk continues to be solicitous towards Ja-Alixxe, although his expression is skeptical.

“What gas mixture do you need to breathe?” he asks. “We have a sealed tank and can provide for your comfort. There we can satisfy this tedious requirement, and as soon as it’s done you can leave.”

He is playing with her. I am certain about the device at the doorway now, and also that they’ve know the truth about us since we walked through the arch. It is a gender scanner.

Ja-alixxe too has finally realized that things are going badly wrong, and Doshenk is playing with her. But she’s too clever to be greedy, and decides abruptly to abandon her riches, relying on surprise and speed of such an unexpected move. She turns to flee as fast as a cat, but one of the troopers guarding the door behind us must have anticipated her. There is a flash of bright light, and unlucky Ja-alixxe drops like a corpse, face first onto the floor.

She’s been stunned with a blast.

The guards chortle at her failure.

It is Doshenk who walks across to unclip the mask. Inexorably he releases the breathing helmet from Ja-alixxe’s head, and I see her dark hair spill free. Ja-alixxe’s eyes are still open and her head has landed facing towards me. I can see she is conscious, but unable to move.

“A pretty one,” he observes calmly.

Without ceremony he unclips some binders from his belt and snaps them onto her, securing the bounty hunter’s wrists behind her.

“Two for the price of one,” he tells the helpless woman, “or more accurately, two for free, as there’s no need to pay a female. Yes, you will also make a pleasing slave. Perhaps you’ll even be good enough for the Rape Run as well – a bounty hunter would make an interesting contestant.”

He signals to one of his men.

“Beam this new one’s details to the Hunters. And tell them we have the Colonel as well.”

Incapacitated by the blast, the bounty hunter is completely unable to offer the slightest resistance to her binding, but I see her eyes widen a little in dreadful understanding. She must be beginning to visualize her whole future ahead of her, just as I’ve been doing since my capture.

The next part comes with dreadful inevitability.

“This slave is improperly dressed,” says Doshenk, indicating Ja-alixxe. “Strip her, and get her into uniform.”

So I watch from my kneeling position as every last item of Ja-alixxe’s clothing is cut away.

Naked, I see Ja-alixxe is as physically fit as a soldier, without a trace of fat on her long, lithe form, although she is still notably feminine. Her backside is the rounded shape that can only come from womanly curves, with the deep cleft that will inevitably be violated, and despite her overall lack of body fat her breasts, squashed against the hard floor, are still full.

She’s much like me in her body shape, cursed with the kind of figure that is arousing to men. Rape Run or not, her time on Aghara-Penthay is not going to be an easy one.

The men flip her onto her back and I see her nipples are large and dark. Still stunned, she lies with her thighs apart showing a high pubic mound protected with a triangle of almost-black hair.

I can’t help feel sorry for her – she must be longing to close her legs, but a guard nudges her knees open even wider.

“Can we entertain ourselves with them?” One of the guards asks Doshenk. “We have no women on this ship, and we’ve been in space for some time.”

Someone has comes in with a wrap in for her. It’s the same color as mine. The guards don’t put it on her straight away though. They drop it on the floor beside her face, so she can feel her own nakedness and helplessness while she waits, unable to move.

The captain shakes his head, and I can’t help feel slightly grateful he’s spared the two of us from rape, even if it’s a temporary reprieve.

“This one is marked for special processing,” he says, indicating me, “and the other may also be selected for the Run. Put them into the cages. Prepare the ship for departure and open up a communication link to the home world. It’s time to take these women where they belong.”

5 - Aghara-Penthay

The Slaver ship docks with a deep boom that reverberates through the hull. It would appear we have arrived. I’m assuming this is Aghara-Penthay but I don’t know, for with my only view of the vastness of the universe being a blank wall of corridor outside my cramped cage, I have no means of telling where I am.

My view of this small world is through a grill, which only shows me that corridor and its featureless far wall. This locked door of bars is my only exit from a container with solid steel floor and ceiling, and alloy walls on the other three sides.

My confinement is an act of sheer cruelty. I’ve never spent so long in such a tight space. This is how a lab animal must feel in its cage.

I’m on my knees, my breasts pressed to my bare thighs and my forehead almost touching the steel floor. Despite this lowly posture the ceiling is so low my back is almost against the cage roof. It is impossible to straighten up.

The walls are as close around me as the ceiling. One is almost in front of my head, and the other just beyond the tips of my toes, so I cannot lie down or stretch at all within the length of the cage. My space is similarly narrow. There is insufficient room to turn round, even by a small amount. I wait with my side presented to the grill.

The shackles I’m wearing have not been removed, so my hands remain trapped, useless, behind my back, and my ankles are equally close together.

I feel utterly miserable. I’m not broken enough yet to cry from hopeless shame in front of these people, but I’m having a constant battle to keep my emotions under control.

The guards forced me in here and left me in the orientation where the open side of my slave wrap faces outwards. Technically I am dressed, but from their view I must appear almost as nude, with an uninterrupted view of my skin from my ankles to my shoulders. Certainly, whenever a guard has passed the cages, he has taken pleasure from pausing to admire me. Periodically they return, visiting this corridor of cages for no other reason than to taunt us. Men throughout the universe enjoy the opportunity to look at women, and with Ja-alixxe and I seeming to be the only females on board, we have received a lot of unwanted attention.

My beautiful red hair hangs down about my face, puddling on the metal floor before me.

Beneath the intimate place between my legs is a small open hole in the floor, to serve as a drain for waste. Close to my mouth is a feeding tube, similar in concept to a device for feeding a caged animal rather than a human being, except this one is shaped and colored to exactly like an erect male penis. Even drinking is to be turned into an act of humiliation for me, now I’ve been taken by the Slavers.

I don’t know how long I’ve been here. My regulation watch was taken by Ja-Alixxe when she stripped me, and there is not a clock in my field view. But it was only minutes after we broke our docking contact with Ja-Alixxe’s ship – probably abandoning it to float as space debris, that they locked both of us into cages, nearly naked in our wraps. We’ve been here for the rest of the voyage.

They ordered us not to speak and I obeyed. There was nothing worthwhile to say.

As soon as the guards left me I noticed a small camera in the top corner of my tiny cell, Filming of women in the Rape Run starts early, often as soon as they’re captured. Trying to look brave, I scowl repeatedly at this hateful piece of electronics.

“Special Processing”, Doshenk said, and he also spared me from being used. That makes it certain. I’m for the Rape Run.

From the moment I padded barefoot onto these men’s ship my image was probably recorded for broadcast victoriously across the galaxy. The Slavers will have gloried in the way they could have Colonel Melena de Santo snatched from right on a Republic cruiser. I will be filmed every moment of my life now until the Run is over. Warm-up shows go out every evening – look what we did to Melena today.

It cuts me up inside that I’m inevitably being portrayed as so weak. And my personal shaming lets down all the women in the galaxy. No female is safe if we betray each other so they can capture me - that will have been the message broadcast with footage of me on my knees, humbled in a slave wrap.

During my time in the cage I had no intention of adding to the galaxy’s entertainment, so for a while I stubbornly avoided the phallic feeding tube. I considered that my fall would have represented a greater humiliation for the Republic and myself if the brave colonel was shown with her mouth on something like a cock, only hours after capture. But I wasn’t even permitted the right to starve myself.

“Feed!” one of them, in the uniform of a more senior rank eventually ordered me.

I shook my head. It was unlikely I would have been able to starve or dehydrate myself to death before we reach Aghara-Penthay, but I intended to try.

“Very well,” said the guard, and he reached up to press something concealed above my cage.

It was as though the ship has flown into the sun. It felt like every part of me in contact with the cage walls, floor or ceiling became as hot as lava, and I was shrieking uncontrollably.

Remembering it, I believe the guard probably only permitted this torture to persist for a few seconds, but for me as the unlucky victim it felt like I endured it for an eternity. Then as suddenly as it began the agony ended, as abruptly as turning off a light switch. My eyes had filled with tears while I’d been screaming. They’d made me cry already.

With my sanity restored I shuffled position to check the damage, expecting to see my skin burnt and stuck to the metal. My knees, so close to my chin I have been easily able to touch them with my cheek all this time, were the only place in contact with the cell that I could check in the cramped space, and moments after such agony I couldn’t believe they were completely unharmed.

Was this what a touch from a slave baton felt like? And that was just from the places on my body in contact with the cage - my knees, part of my feet, and my side. I couldn’t imagine how bad it might feel to have the pain applied to somewhere more sensitive. Somewhere intimate.

“Feed!” the guard repeated.

I hated giving in, but cowardice overwhelmed me. I was gripped by an unnatural fear that the walls might become white hot again. When that guard threatened me, I was willing to do anything not to endure that punishment a second time. Docilely, I extended my head forward and closed my lips over the end of the feeder.

The false cock even had the texture and temperature of human flesh, although with my single experience of the male form I did not know if all erect organs have this same rigidity.

Trying to take as little of the object into my mouth as possible I sucked, and my mouth filled with a bland, salty-tasting liquid.

I swallowed this back.

“Keep yourself fed and hydrated,” he commanded me. “We’ll be watching you.”

This was demonstrated by a gesture by him towards the camera.

Humbly I tasted the liquid again to prove my compliance, and to my intense relief, saw the guard was satisfied and moved away.

“Feed!” I heard him command to someone else.

“I’d prefer to suck on the real thing,” I heard the voice of Ja-Alixxe reply in a voice that was throaty and seductive. “Be nice to me, and I’ll be nice to you. No-one needs to know.”

There was a rustle of movement – I do not know if it was from her or him, and then I flinched hard enough to bang my head on the roof as I heard an animal scream of pain. The sound, very close by, was loud in the confined corridor with its cages and the voice that emitted that cry of agony was plainly female. Had I sounded that bad? It was horrific to witness.

“Feed!” the guard said to Ja-Alixxe again.

This time she too must have obeyed him, because I heard him repeat the instruction he had given me. “Keep yourself fed and hydrated. We’ll be watching you.”

There was the stepping of booted feet as he moved away, and then silence.

I looked cautiously at the camera, as I have done frequently since during this time in the cage, and to prove my compliance I extended my head once more, connecting with the phallic feeding tube using no more than a kiss of my soft lips.

It is difficult to measure time when you are locked away and naked, but I think it was an hour before anything else happened.

“Melena!” Ja-alixxe’s voice interrupted in an urgent whisper. She repeated herself, “Melena!”

I couldn’t believe her boldness. This woman was the reason I’m here, and she’d decided to try and make friends.

“What?” I replied testily.

“We need to escape, as soon they let us out of here,” she said. “We have to try to overpower the guards, and make a run for it before they unload us. Once we’re inside the station, we’ll never get back out. But I can fly this ship if we can grab their weapons and get to the bridge.”

As if I was going to join any escape plan of hers…

“Why should I help you?” I told her in a hostile voice. “You’re the reason I’m here waiting half-naked in this shameful uniform. I hope they fuck you raw.”

“It was nothing personal. We have to put that behind us and work as a team,” she urged me.

“Don’t you think they’re listening to us, right now?” I demanded. “They’ll know if you’re planning anything. Besides – we were ordered not to talk. You’re just gonna get us punished.”

Sure enough, an instant later I was screaming again, as the walls of my cell turned once more to fire.

“Cunts, do not speak,” a bored male instructed from an intercom, the sound of his voice seeming to come from all around me.

For the rest of the journey we were silent, waiting for the arrival that signaled our doom. The passage of time when you’re waiting for something terrible seems to take forever, and yet you wish it would last longer.

But happen it does, and the deep bass thunder of the docking process has barely faded when the guards come for us.

By now we have been cramped into our tiny cages for so long that the muscles in my thighs have locked and I cannot extend my legs.

The guards solve this problem, by the simple tactic of one of them grabbing me round my neck and another taking hold of my ankles. The two men then pull me out straight, making me shriek as tired muscles are forced back to use.

During this procedure my silken wrap slips down to the side, and I bare my groin to them completely, which feels unendurably shameful. It takes until I am on my feet before the slave garment falls back into place.

Both my pain and my embarrassment are very amusing to the guards.

Ja-alixxe suffers similarly while she is being removed from her confinement, and she too is briefly exposed. I feel a small amount of pleasure when the stretching of cramped muscles makes her cry out.

My wrists are still not released. The men leave them locked together behind me, as they have been since I was led onto the slaver’s ship. My ankles also remain in their bracelets, obliging me to move in short convict steps.

Back when she was captured, Ja-alixxe’s wrists and ankles were restrained in a similar manner to my own, her binders fastened there by Doshenk himself as she lay stunned.

She too remains secured, standing in the same design of slave uniform as I wear, completely open at one side and tied under the arm, similar to mine. Once she’s steady on her feet I think Ja-alixxe looks rather beautiful in it, although her eyes are dead with misery and defeat.

One of the guards fumbles behind me, at my wrist binders. I can feel he is fixing something else to the chain linking my wrists – there is a slight tension, still pulling my arms back away from my body, even once his hands are gone.

I dare not look behind me.

“Move,” orders the more senior of the two guards.

I shuffle forwards, using as large a pace as I’m able to in the ankle shackles. For a moment there is more unexpected resistance from my arms, which seem unable to keep with me and are pulled painfully backwards, but then I hear Ja-alixxe catching up behind me and I can return my hands to their place protecting my buttocks.

We are secured together then, in some fashion I cannot see.

The journey we make is not back to the recreation room, where I was traded and she was captured, and we are not taken to the bridge. Instead our chain gang waddles a short distance to the docking bay. The guards do not give us an opportunity to escape.

Around us the color scheme of the bland corridors changes to show we have changed vessels, and abruptly we find ourselves moving out onto a wide, busy concourse lined with shops, cafes and bars.

I know where we are, although only from having seen it on video screens. I’ve never visited here in reality, and never wanted to unless it was as part of a mission sent to destroy the place. This is the trading station.

Aghara-Penthay is the name of the planet below. In orbit around the planet is the trading station – a vast hub that’s decreed the only point in the Slaver’s realm accessible to outsiders.

This security measure makes it impossible for women to escape once they have been transported to the surface. Only the Slaver’s own shuttles allow access from the ground back up to the station – the route out to freedom. Slaves – i.e. all females, are not permitted on the shuttles except under escort, and they only make this journey twice - when they are transported down to be trained, and then back up after processing to be auctioned.

Around me on the station, I know that in large rooms off the concourse will be the various auction halls, dealing in everything from run-of-the-mill domestic or pleasure women exchanged for modest sums of money, through to the sale rooms for rare or significant females who change hands for fortunes.

Although the main trade on Aghara-Penthay is in women, and my sex is present all around me, the male population in the trading station significantly outnumbers the female.

Men flock here in their droves to enjoy the most notorious fleshpot in the galaxy. They come to buy pleasure, easy gratification, either for the night or by purchasing more permanent ownership.

Unarmed and outnumbered, even women who end up passing through here in larger groups have no chance of revolt or escape. The majority of fellow females that I see are naked save for chains which link them together in long lines of servitude. All the Slaver men are armed, most with the hateful goads and a few with blaster weapons which could do more serious harm.

Some of the sisters in bondage who mill around us are new arrivals, some are leaving, and some seem to be in service here on the station. I don’t need any skill to tell the difference between trained women, returned back up here and on their way out to be sold, and new captures about to descend into a world of torture and humiliation on the planet’s surface.

Processed women have their faces tattooed with the slave-mark – the sign of degradation that they will carry for life. Although I cannot see the implants buried in these women’s skulls – an even more terrible lifelong burden, I know each one of them carries one. For the mark of a true slave is applied only when the girl is implanted.

The new arrivals like Ja-alixxe and myself are yet to be marked. These fresh captures usually look terrified and broken and are frequently crying. Processed women have more stoic expressions of acceptance, and some of them actually look eager to be sold. Perhaps anything is better than the horror waiting for us down on the surface.

Slavery is everywhere, although not quite every woman at the trading station is destined for lifelong bondage. Some females come in as crew or passengers on ships, and depart on those same ships, only briefly tasting the abuse that will be unending for most.

Such women are permitted into the station only if dressed as a slave should be, and they must remain in the company of a registered male owner at all times. A female would be insanely foolish to venture here on her own, for she would immediately be taken.

These lucky visitors I see are still slaves, but slaves whose bondage is temporary. They will not have their faces marked, although if their registered owner does wish for a permanent memento, there are still places on the station where the masters can have their property implanted.

Private slaves, i.e. those not owned by the planet, have to wear bracelets locked on a wrist, registered with their DNA and linking them to their owner. The information is filed with the Slaver authorities and bracelets are checked frequently. A woman cannot “fake” an owner.

There are a number of different garments worn by private slaves. The most common is the wrap, like mine, but in navy-blue. It is greatly coveted by the many Slaver-owned girls, that blue wrap. Wearing blue means you’re not destined to go down to the planet. Wearing that means you’ll leave this hellhole.

For a few females, coming here is even a strange form of tourism – women who crave to briefly experience a reality where they are nothing but owned objects of desire, and they venture here with trusted escorts, deliberately seeking time in the bracelet and the navy blue slave clothing.

I can guess who these lucky ones are by their expressions, which are flushed with excitement and lack the dead-eyed manner of the others. When I look at those among my fellows who are true slaves, I wonder if I look as broken as they.

Two drunks stagger past, singing, and almost knock us aside.

The relaxed attitude of the men on the concourse differs dramatically from the women. Aghara-Penthay is a popular destination for male ship crews who flock here here to relax, get laid and enjoy the sight of so many scantily dressed females.

Ja-alixxe and I pass a typical crew in dirty overalls, sitting drinking alcohol, and I am recognized for the first time.

“Melena de Santo,” a mechanic covered in oil calls out to me jovially. “It’s really you. The news said they’d caught you, but I didn’t quite believe it.”

He adds with gleeful unconcern, “Man, you’re in for a rough time.”

His weedy looking colleague, a fellow perhaps still in his late teens, is groaning with longing as he blatantly looks me over and I feel shamefully aware of my body, of my femininity.

“Whoa, she’s even hotter in real life. Oh, check out her legs,” he says reverentially, staring at my bare limbs with unabashed lust. “Why can’t I ever get with a girl with legs like that?”

“Legs?” his shipmate scoffs. “Are you queer? Check out her titties. Those have got to be the best titties you’ll find in a thousand light years.”

With my face growing hot I try to hurry past, wishing the floor would swallow me up, but our guards are enjoying the status of escorting a celebrity. I am blocked from moving further on and have to wait in my chains, prolonging their demeaning inspection.

“Who is the other one?” another of the flight crew is asking as he indicates Ja-alixxe. “Quite a body on her, as well.”

“Bounty hunter,” the guard answers gruffly. “The one that sold out Melena, actually. Dumb cunt walked right through a gender scanner. She might be made to Run too.”

“Such a beauty,” says the same weedy fellow with unrequited longing. “What a woman. Nice breasts too. Bouncy hunter, they should call her.”

“Have a feel, if you like,” the guard says generously, and at last feel slightly sorry for her.

Realizing what has just been offered Ja-alixxe is trying to back away, but it’s too late. She is already being nudged forward by the guard, his superior weight and her restrictive shackles making it impossible for her to backpedal.

Forgetting we’re bound together I’m not prepared for the tug that also pulls me closer to the man. Pain shoots from my joints as momentum part-spins me around.

Next thing she knows, Ja-alixxe is in the weedy mechanic’s lap. He slips his arm around her waist, and holds her intimately close to him.

I can see how the leash linking us is configured now – from behind me at my bound wrists a cheese-cutting-thin cable runs between Ja-alixxe’s thighs to her own bindings. She must have to follow me or risk the wire slicing painfully against the apex of her legs.

The short length of the cable means I have to stand very close to the couple to avoid being dragged off my feet, or cause her serious damage. Reluctantly I go for the former.

“Let me go!” Ja-alixxe insists, hissing like a cat as she tries to rise from his grasp.

I had thought this small man lecherous but not cruel, but without warning he next slaps her face, not hard enough to damage – he is not drawing his arm back to strike with force, but it is certainly enough to shock and be painful.

“That’s not the way to behave, cunt,” he chides, and repeats the slap.

Over the next couple of minutes he hits her again, and again, and again with that same stinging smack, until Ja-alixxe admits defeat and goes utterly docile, almost cowering in his lap.

The other crew members are amused rather than shocked at his behavior.

“Oh, my dick is so hard right now,” the weedy man tells the guards. “Am I allowed to fuck her?”

“We don’t know if she’s a virgin yet, so no,” says the guard. “But cop as much of a feel as you like. And there are plenty of brothels on the station ready when you do need to shoot your load.”

Weedy man does just as the guard offered, slipping his hand right inside Ja-alixxe’s wrap without asking her permission, to squeeze her breasts. This time she knows better than to resist.

“Can I have a go with Melena de Santo?” one of the other crew asks abruptly. “That would be something to boast about – that I’ve had a feel of her.”

“No!” I plead in sudden fear, squeezing my knees together, and I actually try to back up towards the guards, seeking their protection now, although the cable soon goes taut and I can move no more.

“If it was down to me I’d agree,” one of the guards says with a nonchalant shake of his head, “but she’s meant for special processing. They’re going to make an example of this one once she’s down on the surface.”

Special processing… That means preparing me for the Rape Run.

“Speaking of which - we’d better move, these cunts have a date on the surface,” his colleague reminds him, and Ja-alixxe jumps out of the wiry ship crewman’s lap without a second invitation.

Without the girl covering his lap I’m left look in revulsion at a rampant erection bulging in the weedy man’s loose coveralls. As he’d declared he is indeed “hard”.

That incident is over, but is by no means the only obscenity I’m to witness in my journey through the station.

Scenes of sexual depravity seem to be commonplace on the concourse. I see a number of slave women opening performing fellatio on visiting space crews, and a couple of girls are sitting in men’s laps with their hips bucking rhythmically, shamelessly screwing the men to climax.

In spite of these many alternative attractions a small crowd still begins to gather around us during the abuse of Ja-alixxe, drawn partly by her unusually striking beauty but more by my celebrity status. This mob swells as we continue our shuffling progress. They escort us all along the deck of the station, taunting us the whole way.

For the next few minutes this crowd puts me through the worst experience since my capture. Worse than the pain in the cage.

I have devoted my life to service in the space fleet, trying to make the Republic a more just and safe place. I had expected this might earn me a token of mercy or kindness from the galaxy’s men.

The hostility I feel from them stuns me. I shuffle on through taunts, mockery and the most intimate of sexual comments. The guards repeat that I am not to be touched, but a number of males are so overcome with hatred of me that they snatch at my body and my clothing.

My wrap is dragged aside several times, flashing a view of my sex to the crowd before the guards can beat away my assailants.

The crowd begins to get to me, despite myself, and soon I’m fighting to hold back tears. It comes almost as a relief when we finally reach the far end of the concourse and pass through a guarded corridor leading down to a docked shuttle, even though I know boarding that vessel will represent another stage further away from any hope.

Large viewing windows look out into space, and for the first time I see the huge looming planet.

That’s it – Aghara-Penthay - in the entire universe it is the planet most feared by women. And it’s the place where I, a woman, am being taken.

The world below is a scarlet oxide red, betraying how hot and arid it is down on the surface. There is no cloud, not even over the poles.

Ja-alixxe and I shuffle through the next guarded docking port, and we are inside the shuttle. The vessel is small, with barely more than a holding brig and a more comfortable cabin up front for the guards.

There are no windows in here.

The hold is already packed with women destined for slavery on the surface. These other females are sat chained to each other on hard benches, positioned front-to-back in a long line as though they are to row a boat.

Ja-alixxe and I are the only two females who are not naked.

To prevent us feeling superior to our sisters we are not permitted to sit, but are made to stand against the wall. Our ankles and wrists remain in our shackles. Once we’re positioned facing out into the cabin, an additional collar fitted with some kind of electronic function is closed by the guard around my throat, where it locks with a snap. With my wrists still held together behind me, I am utterly unable to prevent even this simple device being fixed to my neck.

Ja-alixxe is locked into a similar collar. By means of these we are trapped close to points high in the wall, with only six inches of chain to permit us movement.

Our guards do not release the cable joining me to her, so it is difficult even to look at each other.

Satisfied we’re unable to run, our captors leave us alone to face the hold full of slave women, and they go to take their place up in front with the pilot.

After only a couple of minutes the ship jolts, and there is the soft rush of the engines. We are moving.

Almost a half of the population of this room are crying or moaning, and with only my own sex for company in this women-only privacy I briefly permit myself the catharsis of weeping.

I’m for the Rape Run. God help me.

Despair claims me completely. My chest heaves with sobs, and tears run openly down my cheeks, falling onto the silken material of my wrap where it protrudes over my breasts.

It is hopeless. There will be no escape for me now, save the one-in-ten chance that I am the winner of The Rape Run. Even if I survive without violation I will be a broken woman – marked forever as a slave, and never living down the varied other public degradations that lead up to the main event.

And what if I do lose? I will spend the rest of my days as slave to one of the five Hunters, or sold on to a wealthy collector when my captor grows tired of me. The implant they will embed in my skull will prevent me even from taking my own life and I will serve his sexual needs, believing it is my place to do so.

The humiliations I have suffered so far will be nothing to what lies ahead in the Run. In a way, even these nudes are better off than I am. Through blurred tears I look around the hold, wishing I was an anonymous naked captive, instead of the famous Colonel Melena de Santo, pride of the space fleet and about to become its shame.

When my tears are under control and I’m only sniffing, I’m obliged to meet the questioning gazes of the slaves on the benches. One of the naked women, a pretty blonde sat at the front of a row, is not crying. She turns and looks at me.

“I know you,” she says, confirming my celebrity status, “You’re Colonel Melena de Santo.” I am surprised to hear anger towards me in her voice.

“I have offended you?” I reply in a shaking voice, bemused.

“I thought you were doing good making your stand, but you have made things worse for free women, not better, now you have been captured,” the blonde says despondently. “You wanted to be famous and have the glory. You wanted to show your boobs off in that poster. Now those who are still free will for that with fear, when they see what the Slavers do to you.”

And so I learn not even the galaxy’s women are on my side. Black depression has me once more, but this time, I fight the tears. I’m not going to cry in front of someone just because they’ve hurt my feelings.

I stare numbly ahead for the rest of the flight. Occasionally the shuttle gives a jolt and secured to the wall only by my neck, I stumble forward, pulling painfully against Ja-alixxe who has not said a word since the concourse.

It seems to take forever to land.

When the ship settles with a heavy boom and the engines cut, the gravity we feel can only be real.

I am planet-side. My worst nightmare has come true. I am a prisoner on Aghara-Penthay.

6 - Holding

When we disembark the heat hits us as though we just walked into an oven. For the first time there’s a benefit in being the ones without much clothing, although my wrap flutters alarmingly in the hot breeze, making me feel even more undressed.

Around me is the planet’s surface of Aghara-Penthay.

My first view is from a landing pad, on the roof of a large stone building. The place looks ancient, like a desert castle. Nothing decays in the dry atmosphere, so apart from cosmetic damage from sandstorms the structures here last for centuries.

Around me women, dressed and naked, squint into the glare. Through a heat haze I can see sand, rocky ground and mountains, all in the same deep red color. This place – I call it the fort – seems to be part of a complex of similarly sized buildings.

Everything constructed on the surface is here for the process of selling slaves. Although there is indigenous life on Aghara-Penthay none of it is sentient. The Slavers chose this world as their home precisely because there is nothing to flee to, and no-one to give us shelter.

“Move,” says a guard.

With a jingle of chains we’re driven through a modern-looking guarded blast door, and into the building. Our escorts have a rapid consultation with the men at the entrance. Judging by the direction of their gesturing the conversation seems to concern Ja-Alixxe, who stands behind me in her binders.

Obeying another shouted order from our guards we shuffle deeper into the stone structure. Inside the building there is no air-conditioning - it relies on unglazed windows facing onto the desert for ventilation. Each opening is sufficiently large to let in sunlight and the arid breeze, but they are too small to fit the body of an escaping slave.

Luckily it is too dry to be humid.

I know already that the fort is not the place where the Rape Run takes place, so I am not in immediate danger. My future lies a specially prepared location – always in the same giant crater created by a prehistoric meteor strike. It is known to the galactic viewing audience as The Zone.

After passing a couple of branching corridors the two guards separate me from the line of naked women. Ja-alixxe is pulled along with me, which seems to confirm certain she is to be a Rape Runner too. The bounty hunter will be my rival in what is to come. I think of her without kindness as she follows me, also barefoot and wearing a revealing slave wrap.

Once she and I are alone with our escorts, the men release the binders on our ankles and disconnect the line joining us to each other. There is no need for them, now we have nowhere to run, no-one to run to, and no chance of escape. Our best chance of survival is now to co-operate, and try be the one from ten who is victor in the Rape Run.

The guards make us walk again.

Even though our wrist binders too are unnecessary they are only removed at the last moment, when we stand before a large alloy blast door that lifts into the roof. As we rub our sore wrists, the door raises and we both step cautiously forwards into a large cell. The blast door closes behind me with a rush of hot air and a clang before I realize the men don’t intend to follow.

My new location isn’t a very welcoming place. It is windowless, illuminated by only glow-spheres high in the ceiling, and the room is completely bare of decoration, save a few sleeping rolls on the floor. A small drainage hole in one corner with a grill bolted over it has a showerhead high above, protruding from the roof, and with it just one tap to control the water. There is no sign of anywhere to do our business other than over the drain.

It’s hot in here. It’s hot everywhere on Aghara-Penthay.

Protruding from the wall there is a nutrition dispensing tube, in the same pink phallic shape that was in my cage on the Slaver ship. There is only of these for us all to share. It is at waist height, so we’ll be obliged to kneel to use it.

A couple of other women are already in here, each dressed in the plain wrap of a slave, open along one side and barely low enough to cover the pudenda. In these uniforms they stand and look at us, sizing up cellmates who will inevitably become rivals once we’re in the Rape Run.

I was often told I was exceptionally desirable within the Republic fleet, but I feel average compared to these two. Both women would be considered exceptionally beautiful in their own different ways.

The face of the first one is familiar.

She has no surname, being simply known as Oorla. Here stands a genuine celebrity – an award winning actress. I’ve never been in the presence of a famous person before, unless you count my own appearance as the poster girl of the fleet, so it feels unreal to see her right before me.

Oorla is shorter in reality than I’d have expected – I have a good five or six inches on her. She’s not childlike though – her body is buxom and feminine, with a breast size similar to my own and a round curve to her hips. Her mouth is wide and sultry. One of the galaxy’s top poets wrote a verse where he dreamed about the pleasures of kissing those pouting lips.

Oorla portrayed someone in a rape and revenge movie, escaping slavery and turning the tables on her captors to slaughter them all. I can see how poignant the Slavers would find it to make her truly endure the abuse. If she is raped in The Zone, she will not defeat her assailants as she did in the fiction.

Oorla’s hair is platinum blonde – a silver curtain that contrasts the other woman. Her companion is a slender dark haired beauty I do not recognize. This one is of the same height but with dark doe-eyes and a more understated cleavage. The second female soon introduces herself to me.

“You’re Melena de Santo, the heroine of space fleet?” she says, in a high soprano. “I admire the brave stance you take. My name is Princess Palonae Noonian Aurora Tonova, of the Ring Worlds.”

Ah… I can see why the Slaver’s have targeted the princess. Palonae is a champion of equality between genders and species in the republican senate, which would have made her an immediate enemy of the Slavers of Aghara-Penthay. Furthermore she’s young and pretty, with a delicate slim body and big brown eyes that men no-doubt find appealing. She will make someone an exquisite prize unless she’s the winner.

“I’ve heard of you, erm… your highness,” I admit. We shake hands like men, although Palonae’s feels so small I could probably break her bones by squeezing hard.

“My condolences at your capture,” Palonae says, a politeness that makes me well-up with emotion for some reason.

“Likewise, your highness,” I reply.

“Who is that lady?” Palonae asks, indicating Ja-alixxe who has slumped alone at the far end of the cell.

“Ja-alixxe,” I say, loud enough that the traitor can here. “A bounty hunter. Don’t trust her – she’s the reason I’m here.”

“Just doing what I have to do to stay alive,” Ja-alixxe calls, unabashed.

Oorla comes across to me.

“Melena,” she says, “my condolences.”

Unlike the chaste handshake I received from the princess, Oorla hugs me then without inhibition. I’m surprised how wonderful this feels – just to receive some kindness from another human being. I feel like weeping again.

Her breasts are firm where they press against me and I want to put my arms round her, but by then Oorla has already broken the embrace.

“Let us find you some bedrolls,” the princess says. “They’re not very comfortable, I’m afraid.”

“How long have you been in here?” I ask.

“A day, I think. It’s hard to tell. Sometimes the lights go out, and we take that to be night time.”

“Two days for me,” Oorla says, releasing me from the embrace.

“How did they capture you?” Ja-Alixxe asks from her place resting against the wall.

“I was betrayed,” Oorla says candidly. “A crew were supposed to be taking me to a screen awards ceremony, on the Indigo Prime world. They docked with a Slaver cruiser, and found out they could make much more credit if they sold me instead.”

Oorla’s face takes on a pained, faraway expression, and she adds, “The crew made use of me first.”

None of us need her to explain what she means.

“I went to sleep in my bed in the palace,” Palonae says, letting Oorla lapse into silence. “When I awoke I was naked in a cage, on the hold of a Slaver ship. The guards didn’t violate me but I was abused. For example, at the time when I wanted to earn a slave wrap, I had to use my hand to please them.”

Thus we begin to learn each other’s sorry stories. We talk a lot on the first day, as women are stereotyped to do, but in our defense there is nothing else to do and the alternative is to sit in silent fear, and anticipate what is coming.

The Rape Run is broadcast to screens all across the galaxy, so I’ve seen glimpses of earlier years and I know exactly what’s coming. Processing, the exhibition, scarves, and then the terror and humiliation of the Rape Run itself.

Time passes. Under the artificial lights there is no sense of how many hours have gone by, but they go by anyway. My stomach churns so badly I get diarrhea and have to squat over the drain. Not wanting to earn punishment I make use of the demeaning feeding tube, even though I know I’m being watched when I kneel down and take the thing between my lips.

After an unknown eternity there is a click and we are abruptly plunged into almost total darkness. This must be a signal we are obliged to sleep. I find where I placed my sleeping roll, in the furthest corner from the blast door, and lie on my side curled into a fetal position.

I tuck my hands between my thighs, using them to protect my pussy while I’m still permitted to do so. I’m too afraid to sleep. This morning I was on the Republic cruiser. Now I’m here.

There is just enough light that to make out the bodies of the other women – the glow spheres have been turned right down rather than extinguished. I can see enough to witness something that should be tender, but is heartbreakingly depressing.

Palonae and Oorla join each other on the same bedroll, and their bodies entwine intimately. I watch their hands begin caressing and stroking, and heads extend to kiss.

Such couplings are a common phenomenon in women waiting in the holding pen for The Rape Run. But rather than being a romantic display of unforced lesbian affection, these encounters often arise as an antidote to misery, or even from mercenary reasons.

Alliances can be beneficial once the competition starts, so it is common for girls to flee the Hunters in small teams. Shared intimacy can be a good way to build trust between women, even though they know deep down that eventually, only one of them can win.

The second reason for seeking a lover is that in the face of so much abuse of their bodies, women are desperate to snatch any pleasant sexual experience they can and cling on to its memory.

Palonae looks across at one point and a glint of reflected light from her eyes shows she has seen me, watching her. In spite of this she is not ashamed – she draws her thigh up between Oorla’s. The other woman’s pelvis gyrates rhythmically as she pleasures herself against Palonae’s smooth thigh.

Both of them are certainly aware that footage from the holding cells is often broadcast in the build-up to the Run and during the contest, but they pleasure each other anyway. Oorla is married to an A-list actor, and homosexuality is frowned upon on Palonae’s conservative world. The two women must think it does not matter – the odds of either of them returning home are so slim they can worry about being ostracized on their return when it happens.

I too might be being broadcast across the universe right now – here is the latest shot of Colonel Melena de Santo resting in her revealing slave shift. I can even guess what the commentator – the vile Wagner will be saying: how the always-frigid Melena even sleeps keeping her hands between her thighs and with her knees drawn up.

I feel my face grow hot with impotent anger.

My slave wrap barely covers me when standing, so lying down I am probably showing an obscene view to anyone filming upwards from my feet. I can’t protect every possible viewing angle though, and all I can do is reassure myself that the Slavers are unlikely to broadcast any images of me that are too pornographic before the run. They will want to build anticipation to the moment when I am first stripped before the galaxy.

Stripped before the galaxy… Gods, please don’t let me be one of the nine caught. “Stripped before the galaxy” is the phrase that echoes around my head like the universe’s catchiest song, while leaving Oorla and Palonae to their privacy, I turn to face the other way and try to rest.

7 - Male

Over a series of days, our pen fills with more and more women. The Slavers won’t begin the Rape Run until ten of us are gathered and processed, so each addition to our group shrinks the time before the rest of us have to face our destined series of public humiliations. This makes it difficult not to resent the new arrivals, even though they are not to blame for their presence.

Jasmeena is the next Runner who pads into the cell, a stunning olive skinned beauty from a desert planet so conservative it makes Palonae’s home look liberal. Females on Jasmeena’s world normally robe themselves head to foot, unveiling their heads only in the privacy of their family homes. How the Slavers discovered Jasmeena looked so exceptional is a mystery, but I can only imagine someone close to her and someone female could have committed such a cruel betrayal.

Coming from a culture where female bodies were always completely covered makes wearing the revealing slave wrap is a particular indignity for the dusky Jasmeena. She cowers each time the guards enter, trying to cover exposure she considers almost as bad as being nude.

Jasmeena is not a big talker. You see the type in the Rape Run – the solitary ones. She has a strategy, and she doesn’t need anyone else to survive.

Next comes Aireela, a beautiful blonde snatched from a primitive world where small tribal groups live in dense jungle. Her hair – slightly curled – is exceptionally long, reaching down well below her rump. She looks human, but she’s actually a different species, where their men develop to be feeble mentally and physically compared to the lively, athletic females.

These tribes in Aireela’s society are therefore ruled by women, with men existing in near-slavery serving only for breeding and domestic labor. I can see the Slavers would enjoy seeing one such as her experience having their status so completely reversed. With little awareness of the modern technology likely to be used by Hunters in The Rape Run, I do not expect poor Aireela to avoid capture for long, which will be yet another tragedy. I find her quiet confidence appealing.

In the confined cell where we all live there is no air conditioning, and the heat of the desert pervades even this far inside the building. By the time there’s six of us the atmosphere becomes oppressive. Bodies confined in close proximity turn the dry air humid, and even though we try to keep clean, the smell of women’s sweat and fear is always present.

And still more of us are added.

Cara Haston was one of the highest paid models in the galaxy, until the moment when she is pushed into our holding cell, wearing only the wrap of a slave. We could all be considered as beauties, but most of us feel positively dowdy compared to the perfect form of Cara. This girl is unreal, ethereal. Even the way she moves is balletic. The only category where any of us could be said to rival her is breast size – Cara is a diminutive A-cup, and if it wasn’t for her exquisite features she’d look like a slim teenage boy standing there in a scarlet slave wrap.

Cara had known for a couple of years that she was a favored target to be forced into The Rape Run, and she had spent a considerable amount of her fortune on bodyguards. The Slavers of Aghara-Penthay had captured her anyway, killing her retinue in a straight-up gun battle and stunning Cara with a blaster bolt before she had chance to take her own life. I am sure they will consider her quite a trophy.

Cara seems the least fazed of all of us by her imminent ordeal. Perhaps in the same way many of the really beautiful lead blessed lives, she expects that if she waits her problems will sort themselves.

Unless they’re as physically breathtaking as Cara, every woman selected to be one of the ten Rape Runners has to possess more than mere beauty, for there are many desirable women scattered across the universe. Runners have to be exceptional.

I am one of those here because of what I represent, as much as for my looks. The Slavers like each captive to bring meaning and send a message, whether that message be that there is no escape and all women must fear; or that it is futile for women to seek equality; or that there will be a particular poignancy to seeing their target humbled low; or that it proves the Slavers are all powerful.

It is therefore easy to see why they wanted Tasha Castelaine. As one of the Republic’s most successful and well known business women and with a fortune in the billions of credits, like myself she is a symbol of female empowerment. Tasha is also beautiful in that pouting, proud way that makes men want to conquer her. No doubt she has been the subject of many male fantasies as she sat across the boardroom table. But now she’s no luckier than the rest of us. Unless she is the victor in the Rape Run, she will soon be acting out their fantasies for real.

On first being pushed into our holding cell Tasha lay curled up into a ball, weeping in her slave’s wrap. But she soon got a grip on herself, put her strategic brain to use and turned out to be the talker of the group. Tasha wants to know everyone. She’s using her time in the pen to deal and form alliances, working out which of us is the best to ensure her chance of survival and not wanting to make friends with a girl who will be a potential burden. She’s physically and mentally uninhibited, choosing to spend most of her time naked and only pulling on a wrap when the guards enter the room.

“We’re all women,” she says, “and it’s better to be nude than be dressed as a slave. You might be naked at home, but you only dress like this because you were forced.”

I don’t agree. I keep my wrap close about me except for in the moments when I have to wash, and have to void myself.

When I awoke after my first night in the cell, Palonae warned me women are not permitted to let ourselves become dirty. We will be punished with the goad unless we shower thoroughly at least once per day.

I feel self-conscious at the cleaning times when I’m obliged to undress, even though there are only other women present.

In the days of buildup before the Rape Run begins, we are sizing up potential allies and rivals, and not only based on physical prowess. With a handicap system applied in the Rape Run to make things harder for the Runners whom the audience really wants to see defeated, it doesn’t pay to be friends with the most desirable.

So while I wash I want to turn to the wall and conceal my beauty, hiding my pert, full breasts as much as I can, even though I know deep down it’s futile. The other women have been able to see me as well as I’ve seen them, and the brief wrap leaves nothing of our figures to the imagination.

Voiding is another occasion for public indignity, with all of us having no choice but to squat over the drain hole. No paper is provided so afterwards we’re often obliged to shower again, to avoid the smell of excrement being added to the other odors of humanity pervading our pen.

It is on the day when we are only two women away from our group being complete that something unexpected happens.

The majority of the thousands of captives brought annually to Aghara-Penthay are female, and the Slavers rarely interest themselves in male victims. When they do, it’s normally a case of kidnapping important figures to order, or taking of the strongest stock for fighting or breeding purposes.

When a male is taken captive, sometimes it amuses them to cage him with the females, after rendering him safely sexually impotent by some means. I gather that with the male sex drive being much higher than ours, it can be a form of torture to be surrounded by desirable flesh but unable to enjoy such bounty. What’s more - outnumbered, the hapless male usually suffers the vengeance of women who suddenly have an outlet to vent their terror.

I’ve been a prisoner in the cell for a week on the day when the door flies open without warning, and a man is pushed into our pen. It’s immediately obvious he is a slave, for he is naked, naked amongst women, stripped to show us his status is being even lower than ours. When the door reveals him, he has his hands behind his back as if to protect his rear, but this effort is insufficient defense. I see the spark as one of the hated goads, held by someone outside the door, touches his bare buttock. He leaps in with a shriek, and turns in time to see the door drop closed behind him.

I am so used to being dressed in the simple slave shift by this point that I’ve forgotten to be ashamed, but with Jasmeena comfortable only in the heavy, conservative dress of her planet she shrieks, collapsing into a crouch and drawing up her knees to hide her body. I too then hold my arms protectively about myself, trying to conceal my figure.

The man straightens up, looking round at us. He still holds his hands awkwardly behind his back, as though he’s about to give a lecture. He seems familiar to me, but I can’t immediately remember where I’ve seen him. It seems like another life when I recall my past, the time before they locked me away in here.

The man is young, perhaps in his thirties according to the common Republic year. He is very slightly build, slim but with a toned physique, and he’s not even as tall as I am. I could probably overpower him in a trial of strength. His hair is a mahogany brown, cut in an effeminate flopping style that almost covers his eyes.

His captors’ method of preventing the man from sexually rampaging, even though he’s a room of the galaxy’s most attractive women is immediately apparent – a circular band locked tightly around the base of his penis and his scrotum.

I have heard of such devices. They are called control rings. If this ring is armed, the minute the wearer becomes sexually aroused it will deliver a powerful stimulation shock to his genitals. I’ve never been in a situation to see one activate before, but I hear they’re agonizing enough to deter the most ardent lover.

The man makes no effort to conceal the control ring. He does not have the courtesy to cover his genitals either, but stands there uncertainly with his hands still behind him.

In disgust I look away. The last thing I want to see is a man’s penis. But even wearing the ring he’s too much of a threat to ignore, and I cautiously turn back again, keeping a watchful eye.

The man has sunk down, making no effort to move further into the room, and sits back against the blast door with his head turned away. I understand what he is doing. He will try to avoid staring at us, thinking of us as women, in case the sight of our bodies is sexually arousing to him.

This male is not to be left alone, however.

Ja-alixxe has leaped up from her bedroll, and is sashaying across to him. She has her arms by her sides, and she crosses our pen in as provocative a manner as possible. She has found a source of sport.

“Leave him be, Ja-Alixxe,” I complain halfheartedly.

I know what the bounty hunter plans to do. I can see from her cruel smile. Ja-alixxe is going to deliberately arouse the man until he suffers the agonizing pain from his control ring activating.

“What’s your story, handsome?” she says, putting on a seductive voice. Her hip was cocked, her pussy almost at the level of his face. He’d only have to lean forward to get an obscene view under her wrap, but he keeps his gaze high to maintain eye contact instead.

When she gets closer to him, Ja-Alixxe frowns.

“I know your face,” she says, puzzled. “Where do I know you from?”

“You’re mistaken, I’m nobody,” the man says quickly in a trembling voice, but it’s obvious he’s lying, and he’s oddly familiar to me too. Women move closer to look, and that’s when it happens.

“Wait - that’s Leshan!” Tasha Castelaine, the beautiful career woman says. “That’s one of the Hunters.”

“No!” the man pleads, sounding close to terror, but it is too late.

“It is him!” agrees Palonae, and the moment Tasha said the name I am sure too. We can all see it now, and in the instant of our recognition any chance of kindness to him has evaporated.

The Slavers of Aghara-Penthay present a united face against the galaxy, but behind the facade they are a highly hierarchical and factionalized organization. While the numbers of men who would identify themselves as a Slaver run into the thousands, each man also feels a strong sense of connection to one of the five Slaver clans. The five clan leaders are The Hunters and are the elite who have the privilege of compete to be first to catch each one the ten women in the Rape Run.

During the Rape Run the Hunters will set out into The Zone accompanied by a retinue of men and slaves, but it is only the Hunter himself is permitted to enjoy the moment of restraining, violating and then enslaving a Runner who falls captive.

Thus the competition in The Rape Run takes place on two levels. The women (the Runners) move from hiding place to hiding place in The Zone, attempting to be the last to evade capture – knowing that only when their nine sisters have been degraded and just one remains unshackled and out of custody will she be permitted to go free.

From the Hunters side, they compete to capture the most women, or they spend their time pursuing a female of particular interest to them. Hunters share use of Runner women after the honor of the initial conquest, but each defeated female remains legally as property of her initial captor. Once the Run is over the Hunter may keep the victims he claimed, or dispose of them as he wishes.

All of us, except maybe Aireela, know something about the five Hunters. I avoid watching the Rape Run as much as I can, finding no pleasure in seeing women broken and violated. But know who the Hunters are anyway. Everyone does. They are celebrities across the galaxy, broadcast year on year enjoying the sadistic cruelty that some consider to be sport.

Each one of the Hunters has a different temperament, and they deal with captives according to their personal taste. Most women dread (although a few masochists fantasize) falling to one Hunter, thoughts of him triggering terror more profound than his fellows.

Cronorgan is known as “The Master”. He is renowned for his need for dominance, and he enjoys breaking his captives down into absolute submission. It is victory in the conquest of wills that provides Cronorgan with the greatest pleasure.

Last year’s Rape Run was considered a particularly entertaining one, because of him. Cronorgan captured an unusually courageous female mercenary, not dissimilar in temperament to myself, early in the Run and it took the remainder of the competition for him to break her. Much of the footage of her two days in torment was broadcast. We saw her utterly defeated by the time the final slaves were run down, and thank the Gods the coverage could end for another year.

Lotho-etsarra is known across the galaxy as “The Libido”. Lovemaking is his forte – using chemically enhanced performance he can take a woman for hour after hour. That Hunter does not so much focus on any individual slave, but is more concerned with raping every desirable female he can possibly get. If a woman had choice, she would usually surrender to Lotho-etsarra because he doesn’t violate any slave for a second time. As soon as he’s used a captive Runner he trades her on, and she can disappear from celebrity into the anonymous mass of thousands of other female slaves.

It is not good to be captured by Jackran-ad-aktar – “The Alien”. The divide between human females and his own species is no barrier to his taste. His penis is much larger than a human male, and the body chemistry of his breed being different to ours, the semen he ejaculates into a human woman is caustic. It is agony to be raped by Jackran-ad-aktar, both from the damage accommodating his vast girth and the internal burning from the aftermath.

Jackran’s species are carnivorous and in their normal business his faction tends to specialize in providing the slave women that are sold to owners with a taste for the flesh of humanoid females. A woman who falls captive to Jackran-ad-aktar has the lowest life expectancy of a captured Runner.

Nonetheless I would rather be caught by Jackran than Salarin – “The Sadist”. Salarin does not care if a woman breaks to his will or not. He does not care if she yields. He takes pleasure from her pain, and the most desirable woman to him is the one who can suffer longest and most profoundly before she loses her mind.

It is the prospect of ending up in the power of Salarin that I fear most. He is the Hunter that haunts my nightmares.

My personal terror list, and I’m sure all the women here with me have one similar, is: worst – Salarin; second worst – the Alien; mid-table – Cronorgan, the dominant. If I am caught, I hope Lotho-etsarra is the one. My second “choice” would be the man naked before us now.

Leshan, smallest of the Hunters, is known as “The Runt”. Perhaps because of his diminutive size, Leshan feels driven to prove his physical superiority over women. Those of us familiar with his particular cruelty know that the best tactic for a victim of this man is to yield quickly and unconditionally. Fail to do this and Leshan gets more and more physically violent with her, until his psychological need to prove himself is met.

A Runner two years ago, one of the most famous female sports stars, if I recall, stood up to Leshan and was beaten into unconsciousness. Still that didn’t stop him. She was immersed in a bacterial healing tank, and as soon as she was recovered the abuse resumed. It took a day and a half before she cowed sufficiently that he was satisfied.

Some think Leshan should be named “The Violent”, instead of “The Runt”.

And now The very same Runt is here, naked and wearing a control ring, in our cell. I can see why he keeps his hands behind him now – barely visible on his lower arm is the glint of a slave shackle. Leshan is defenseless and Ja-Alixxe is going to make him suffer for his crimes.

“Any of you girls want to get some revenge on the male sex?” calls Ja-Alixxe, her voice cold with malice.

“No! Don’t!” Leshan pleads, scrabbling with his heels against the floor as though he could propel himself back through the blast door, but begging will get him nowhere now he’s been recognized. Tasha, Oorla, and Cara are on their feet and closing in, trapping him against the edge of the cell.

After the indignities I’ve already suffered I too want to kill the Slavers with my bare hands, but it’s not in my nature to be cruel without good reason. So I decide that although I’m not going to participate in this lynching, I certainly won’t intervene while my fellow females restore some self-respect at his expense.

“Two of you hold his legs,” Ja-Alixxe is ordering over Leshan’s pleading cries, “while the other two of us arouse him. The control ring will do the rest.”

With four women pitted against one restrained man, he has no chance.

Tasha and Oorla seize one of Leshan’s legs each, and they lift, so he tips back and cracks his head roughly on the stone floor, unable to break the descent with his shackled wrists.

While he groans, almost knocked unconscious, they pull his legs apart, obscenely displaying Leshan’s genitals and anus. He’s rather hairy, and it makes the cleft between his buttocks look unclean. With revulsion I look at the penis that might have been first to rape some of these women, rape me, had Leshan not suffered some kind of fall from grace.

Then my view of the vulnerable prick and scrotum is blocked by Ja-Alixxe and Cara, and I am grateful.

I can’t see, but I can hear what’s happening. Leshan is helpless to prevent those two women from caressing him, and the noises he emits are half-pleas, and half cries of unwanted arousal.

Of the remaining women present in my cell, Aireela the primitive Amazonian blonde watches with only casual interest. Men are weaker anyway on her world, and perhaps this scene of female dominance is not usual for her. The two women from more repressed worlds where they have little exposure to men - Princess Palonae and Jasmeena, are not engaging either, and avert their gazes from seeing a male in sexual arousal.

I too shift my position, and not just so I don’t have to watch. Now Leshan’s head is at floor level I don’t want him able to see up my too-short slave wrap. So I keep my knees together, twisting my body to face to one side, ankles drawn up close to my buttocks. I make sure the side of my wrap that gapes open faces into the wall. His attention is occupied only on his suffering now, but while they were spreading his legs he looked at me - looked right at me, and in his presence I feel underdressed.

It is not difficult to tell when the control ring around Leshan’s penis activates. His first scream of agony is deafening in the confined cell. I risk a glance and see his limbs have stiffened as if he’s receiving an intense electric shock. Leshan is bucking so uncontrollably that the women are struggling to hold him.

His scream fades to a hoarse cry. It is not enough for his tormentors. I hear Cara murmuring to him in her most seductive voice. “Did that hurt? Poor baby… Oh, let me take it into my mouth and suck it better.”

“No! No!” Leshan starts pleading afresh.

“Stick your fingers in his anus,” Ja-Alixxe suggests. “He’d do it to you.”

It is only a minute or two before once again they have him so aroused that the ring suppresses him, and I can hear nothing but a man’s screams.

By the third or fourth time, he’s been through this treatment, he is weeping uncontrollably.

“I want to rip his balls off,” Tasha says viciously. “They haven’t implanted me yet. That means I can still hurt men.”

And she tries to do just that, bringing a fresh chorus of howls from her victim. It turns out a female isn’t strong enough to part masculine flesh with her bare hands, but a woman can squash a man’s testicles in her fists, and she can kick him between his legs using bare feet.

For perhaps an hour it goes on. By the end Leshan is growing lost in the suffering, and his cries are beginning to weaken. I look again and see his eyes are now glazed. He seems only half aware of what is happening.

The women have used their claw-like nails on him, and his hairy skin is covered in such deep wounds it looks as though he’s been whipped. One of his eyes is blackening.

Of course it is the clever Ja-Alixxe who realizes she has one last weapon. Kneeling between his thighs almost submissively, she leans over, as though to deliver a kiss, but her lips are drawn back to bare her teeth. This time Leshan’s scream cuts of suddenly, and he lies silent and limp. Ja-Alixxe rises, smiling. The lower part of her face is covered in blood. She has something in her mouth, and I feel myself about to retch as she walks gracefully to the drain and spits something that looks like a piece of raw meat into the hole.

I cannot help but feel pity, and then I remind myself this is a Slaver. If I were helpless, would he be showing any mercy to me?

Other cellmates also believe such cruelty is justified. Tasha is closing on the bloody remains of Leshan’s groin. And still the women’s vengeance is not complete. Turning so I can’t see more, I put my hands over my ears and try to block out the world.

8 - Processing

Now that the full line up of this year’s Runners are present, all ten of us, I know they will come for me soon. Each time the door of our pen opens, I clench with dread, digging my fingernails into my palms to keep me from shaking.

As with every year in the Rape Run, our participation in the entertainment doesn’t spare us the processing received by any woman in the hands of the Slavers of Aghara-Penthay. I have already witnessed some of the other girls in our cell being taken away for the processing that prepares them for The Rape Run, and for an almost inevitable life of slavery, and for a future of pleasing men.

When they return to the same each sits by themselves. They’re unwilling even to talk to other women, having endured humiliations they can only come to terms with alone.

The implants and whatever further degradations are prepared will be horrific, but personally I’m dreading one treatment above the others. It is treatment universal to the Slavers victims and impossible to hide – a graceful design on each girl’s face, almost like an elaborate eye liner pattern, where she’s been marked with the Slaver’s symbol.

Even the one lucky girl who wins will still display the slave mark for life. She will still carry the Slaver’s implant in her brain stem too, although Runners’ implants are only partially activated. Where would be the sport in catching a girl who obeys when you call “come”?

If I’m the survivor, for the rest of my life people will see me, see the mark, and know me as a woman who fell to Aghara-Penthay. I won’t ever get respect. I’ll get sympathy. My career in the armed forces of the Republic will be over.

When they take Ja-alixxe, she is docile while they shackle her wrists behind her and lead from the room, but even the bounty hunter is unable to hide her despair as she pads out the cell with her guards, and she moans once. Several hours later she is back, sitting silently back against the wall, knees drawn up and hands between her legs, holding her silk wrap against her core as if she needs the touch of the fabric against her sex.

On the right side of her face she carries the slave mark. She makes no effort to hide it, but she’ll have to do something if she ever means to work as a bounty hunter again. Every man in the galaxy knows what the mark means, and none of them will honor a woman that carries it.

The male captive, Leshan, was taken away, after what probably was only a couple of hours penned with the females. But during that period Ja-alixxe’s lynch mob took as much vengeance with him as they could. What the guards removed was bleeding mass, no longer a man. They did not object to our treatment of him. Brutality is everywhere on this world.

“Why Leshan?” Tasha was courageous enough to ask the guards. “What happened to his faction?”

“Gone, cunt” a burly man answered her with a sneer. “There are only four factions now.”

He called her “cunt” but after a number of days here I barely noticed the vulgar term. We’ve got used to hearing it. Technically, as Rape Runners the ten of us are women who don’t have owners, and therefore we are not yet slaves. However the Slavers don’t honor free women with respectful titles like “Ladies”, or “Women”. Any woman who is owned is a “slave”. Any unowned female is a “cunt”. So that’s me, Melena de Santo. A cunt.

The day after our visit from Leshan, Elionara arrived – a redheaded dancer famous from a reality show where she teaches celebrities to be graceful. I’ve watched it once or twice. Elionara is perhaps the most beautiful of the female professionals on the show, blessed with a superbly toned athletic body, and a pretty face with deep green eyes. In her former life the galactic media followed her everywhere. Stories of her affairs were never out of the news.

Now, she’s nothing but a Rape Runner, although no-doubt still front page news out there in the free world. Her presence in the pen makes me nervous, even though she is good natured. Elionara is fit and strong. This one will be competition.

Tradition in the Rape Run is that each faction provides two women to the pool of prey. Perhaps because of the upheaval from Leshan’s downfall it is several more days past before the final girl arrives. By this time we are all half-mad with dreadful anticipation of the ordeal to come. I almost want the Rape Run to begin, so at least it can be over. Not knowing what awaits me is sheer hell.

The last unlucky victim pushed into the cell has a body so perfectly sculpted into the rounded breasts and buttocks pleasing to men she could be genetically bred to be a sex slave. Her large dark eyes have a naturally pleading expression, and her curling hair has a lustrous dark sheen like polished mahogany. She already wears the slave mark, which makes it likely she was reared in captivity or pulled from the existing stock of captured slaves. I do not recognize her as a celebrity.

She’s a timid one, and looks utterly terrified when she’s propelled into our cell, backing up against the door. Ja-Alixxe she seems to find particularly threatening, so if the new girl has no other survival skills at least she can immediately judge character. Palonae gently asks for the arrival’s name, and the new girl is so frightened she stutters when she answers.

“Leesh… Leesh… Leesha.”

“Where are you from, Leesha?”

“Here…” Leesha answers, looking rather confused. “Aghara-Penthay”.

It is as I suspected, then. The Slavers do not usually enter bred slaves into the Rape Run. For the viewing galaxy, the suffering of newly captured women not mentally prepared for defeat provides the best sport. A bred slave expects the rape, and their lifetime as the underdog means they surrender easily when captured.

The public will not approve of her, but she is here. It is possible that the internal upheaval with Leshan’s downfall disrupted the usual selection process, and this girl is an unlucky last-minute substitute.

Ja-Alixxe seems treat Leesha’s joining us with something close to glee. It’s probably because she also understands a bred slave presents no threat, and Leesha’s participation increases the bounty hunter’s chances of being the survivor.

For coming from Aghara-Penthay won’t help Leesha. She will be as ill prepared as the Amazon Aireela to face the landscape, traps and dangers of The Zone if she has never been out of captivity her whole life. In Ja-Alixxe’s mind she only has seven real rivals, when two of the nine women she has already dismissed as threats.

Humming in a way that is almost smug Ja-Alixxe strips and showers, shamelessly flaunting her lush figure in front of the cowering new arrival. As I watch the bounty hunter cleaning I remember that Ja-alixxe had a neat triangle of dark pubic hair when she arrived, but now after processing her vulva is bald. The only time during her shower that I notice Ja-Alixxe looking uncertain is when she cleans that newly hairless part of her body. It must feel strange. A common part of Slaver processing is to remove body hair, so I too will probably soon be saying goodbye to the tidy stripe of dark-red that I’ve had since my teens. What will it feel like when my sex is so exposed?

The bounty hunter sings to herself while she washes. Seven rivals, Ja-Alixxe will be thinking. I can’t think harshly of her for doing such when I, all of us, must be secretly going through the same process of calculating our chances.

Oorla and Carla we have also dismissed. Women from pampered lives tend to go to pieces once they’re put under pressure, and these spoilt ones make stupid rookie mistakes. The princess and Tasha have that handicap too, but although they come from wealthy backgrounds their roles mean they’re used to keeping their heads under extreme stress. Even so, a lack of survival experience might let them down unless they learn quickly. So that’s six we privately think are unlikely to win. Leesha, Aireela, Oorla, Carla, Tasha and Palonae.

It takes luck to be the winner in the Rape Run, but survivors usually come from the women with combinations of stamina, physical fitness, survival skills and intelligence. So I think this year the winner will most likely be either Ja-Alixxe, Elionara – who came from a near anarchy world before rising to fame and can probably take care of herself, and who am I missing?

I look around the cell. Jasmeena! Keeping to herself as always. She was one of the first to endure processing. We always forget quietly confident Jasmeena, but coming from a desert world she’s a contender, and she will know how to survive in the environment of The Zone unless she’s been sequestered away all her life.

My eyes drift back to poor Leesha, already written-off as a loser. She had sat in the quietest corner of the cell for all her first day shuddering uncontrollably, joining us in the unbearable drag of waiting. I feel sorry for her.

I am half awake, half asleep when the blast door slides up and two guards enter the cell, blasters at the ready. I see another two are outside, in case we try to rush the door. As if there’s anywhere to go.

“Colonel De Santo,” the guard calls my pompous title in jolly malice, and I feel faint with fear as I know my time is up. The other women know what this means and look at me, sympathetic.

It is pointless to resist. I rise to my feet and I pad docilely towards him, and then out into the corridor on my bare feet. The door slams downwards with a whoosh. I am beyond the confinement of the slave pen for the first time in many hours, but I wish I wasn’t.

A guard holds up a pair of binders, and I turn my back to them and hold my wrists close together behind me, hands resting against my buttocks through the thin silk wrap, while I’m locked into the restraints. Again, I offer no resistance.

The guards must be lacking entertainment today, for despite it being entirely unnecessary they choose an additional method of subduing me.

They have with them a steel pole, six feet in length. From one end of it hands a loop of leather which reminds me of a noose. Gripping the far end of the pole firmly in his muscular hands, the guard drops this noose end over my head.

When he operates it I discover the pole is hollow and the leather threads adjustably through it, for the band is suddenly pulled tight about my throat, pinning my neck against the end of the metal rod.

“Come,” I am ordered.

They don’t need to command me, for by means of the pole securing my throat they can control my movements easily. My neck is high enough above my body’s center of gravity that I have to walk wherever they lead me or risk overbalancing. I can’t use my hands to break a tumble while they’re shackled behind me, so a fall would be painful.

So steering me by means of the metal pole I am driven along the corridor, like I’m a dangerous dog that has to be kept at bay rather than a human being with thoughts and feelings. The leather is pinched tight enough to restrict my windpipe, and I have to gasp as I’m herded through the maze of passages that make up the fort.

Through the high windows I see open blue sky. It’s oppressively hot, inside and out.

Days of idly anticipating being processed haven’t made this moment easier, and my heart is racing. My mind fills with the vision of what awaits me. I can’t decide now if I dread the mark or the implant more. Yes the brand is a signal to the world I can never rub away, but the implant will change my very soul.

The guards propel me in front of them, using the noose that chokes my breath. I quickly learn why they are taking pains to drive me so degradingly, for the two men freely discuss it. They want to watch my body while I walk. As I stumble along in misery, I must listen to them converse easily with each other.

“This girl has a nice ass,” one of them comments. “Look at the way she moves.”

Actually I had been trying to keep upright and not trying to walk in a provocative manner at all, but the natural gait that a female figure such as mine provides means I’m cursed to do so anyway.

“I’m looking forward to seeing this one taken,” one says to the other. “I bet she’s going to be a fighter. I love it when the ones who resist lose.”

My face burns with emotion, anger, humiliation, but rising to this hazing will only earn me trouble, so I make no response and remain silent at this news, staring ahead down the corridor. No doubt the guards are not alone in their anticipation of my failure, and if I were to seek revenge on every man looking forward to see me demeaned and tortured, I’d have to punish almost half the galaxy.

“She might not lose. What happens if she’s the winner?” the other one asks.

I sense the first one shake his head.

“The bounty hunter will win,” he says. “I have fifty credits on her. Born survivor, that one.”

The corridor we move along must be near the outer edge of the building than my cell, for the desert heat beats through the walls at us even more intensely. Before we’ve gone far I’m starting to sweat.

The room where my escorts soon deliver me is a surgery, just as I’d feared. I see shelves of medical instruments and bottles of pills and colored liquids. Surely they can’t all have a purpose? What can all of these do?

The doctor given the task of processing me is waiting, seated in a swivel chair, dressed in a white laboratory coat that makes him look like a medic. He is a young fellow with a tidy beard, and doesn’t have the hard face of most of the Slavers. At the sight of him briefly my spirits lift. Perhaps I have a chance at persuading him to be kind to me.

But then, my eyes lower to the chair meant for me. It looks like a mount for a gynecological procedure.

I will rest back in a reclined position. There are padded supports for propping up the patient’s legs and feet, but I see these supports are as wide apart as stirrups to allow the doctor easy access to my genitals. The seat is fitted with restraints – thick leather bracelets. Whatever happens to people in this chair, it must be unpleasant enough that they’ll struggle.

“Over to the chair, Melena,” the doctor says, but it is a pointless request for I am propelled across by my neck before there is time to comply anyway.

In this room there are three men bullying one shackled woman, one shackled and leashed woman on a world where females are not permitted to leave or move without their owners’ permission. So yet again I offer no resistance during the short moment when my binders are unlocked and my wrists are free.

Obediently I climb into the chair, blushing as I open my thighs to put my feet into the stirrups.

The silk wrap barely covers my dignity when I’m standing, and assisted by gravity from my raised pelvis it falls back to my belly the moment I recline. I have to try not to think about how the doctor, and these two guards, have an obscene view of my genitals.

“There’s no need for the restraints, I’ll obey,” I plead when the guard starts wrapping the first of the heavily padded bands over my shin, but he ignores me as if I’d not spoken at all.

They begin by buckling my ankles. Next, an additional thick restraint is fastened around my waist, and a loop circles each thigh just above my knees. The waistband holds my hips down onto the padded seat, and my thighs are stretched even more humiliatingly wide by the additional padding. I can feel the air of the room on my exposed sex.

My pussy is on plain view to them, and there is nothing I can do. They act as if this is routine, but it’s a terrible moment for me. My steward back on the republican cruiser, Mansom, had occasionally seen me nude in the shower. Other than him, and the brief snatching molestations up at the docking station, these are the first men to glimpse the most intimate part of my body.

Meanwhile my wrists are shackled down to the armrests, and any means of offering even token resisting is gone. Last of all a final restraint is passed around my throat. This seems unnecessarily sadistic, as it means I can’t lift my head from the chair. It adds a sense of vulnerability to my feeling of exposure, when I can’t look down to see what’s happening to my lower body.

Experimentally, I tense myself, testing the strength of my bonds. I can’t move an inch. I can’t close my legs.

I become aware that there is an opening in the padding behind my head, to allow access at the base of the skull, and my heart makes another jump upwards in speed. I feel faint as I think over what that is for. It is easy access for the implanter.

“You can leave us for now,” the doctor orders, apparently senior to the two guards. They click their heels in a salute, and exit the room.

While they go I continue to test my bonds, instinctively tensing my thighs to determine any means of defending myself. It is not hopeful. The leather bracelets are soft, but as unbreakable as steel.

There is one conclusion. I am helpless.

The blast door shuts, leaving me alone in this man’s mercy.

I turn my head to look at the doctor, trying to assume a beguiling smile. He is reading notes, but looks up when he senses my watching him.

I can see from the chilling smile that my first impression of his personality was completely wrong. This man will enjoy my suffering, rather than trying to ease it.

“Colonel Melena de Santo,” he says. “I’ve seen you on those posters, sticking your titties out to tease the galaxy. I always hoped they’d get you one day, and it would be my chair you were sent to. Tell me: how are you looking forward to a lifetime pleasing men?”

In spite of all the times coaching myself that it does no good to respond, I’ve reacted before I can hold back, straining to try and lash out, hurting him as he’s hurting me. Nothing happens other than my bracelets giving an obvious clang.

It takes me a moment before the logical part of my mind resumes control, telling me that showing him his taunts upset me will only make this more pleasurable for him. I berate my own weakness.

Rather than meet that victorious gaze I turn away from him to look up at the ceiling, feeling the throat strap rub against my neck.

“Bastard,” I whisper quietly, “fucking bastard.”

I hear him chuckle. There is a rustle of movement and I feel his touch under my left arm. A tug at my clothing. There is the briefest brush of his fingers on my skin. Abruptly my wrap is flipped aside, and I am as good as naked before him. I feel the slightest current of air in this room breathing over my exposed nipples.

His swivel chair is on poorly oiled wheels, and while I stare upwards I hear the squeak as he rolls to a place right between my legs. Air moves on vulnerable flesh. He might be breathing on my sex. I try to look, but the neck brace doesn’t permit me.

“You have a nicely shaped pussy,” he says to me appreciatively from down between my open thighs, “and a big clitoris, which is likely to be pleasingly sensitive.”

The doctor tuts.

“We’ll need to do something about the hair, though. You haven’t shaved yourself recently, and most men don’t like a furry snatch.”

He wheels briefly back into my view, and my whole body tenses as he picks up an injector from the table of instruments. The doctor trundles back to his obscene view between my spread legs. Without asking for permission something is pressed against my inner thigh – the injector. There is a barely audible hiss, and there is the cold sensation of a chemical entering my bloodstream.

“This will correct the hair problem. Actually you will find all your body hair will fall out over the next twenty four hours, except for that on your head,” the doctor tells me, gliding back into my field of view again. “Your hair frames your face nicely, it would be a shame to lose it.”

At this point in the conversation he reaches out to my face and strokes my red-wine tresses. My self-control cracks a second time and I shake my head violently, trying unsuccessfully to pull away from the caress.

He mocks me, “Come now, be grateful Melena. Some women pay a lot of money for beauty treatments like hair removal, and you’re getting it for free.”

Thankfully his gentle stoking, touching me the way only a lover should, doesn’t last long and soon he withdraws his hand. I turn as my head as much as I can to follow him. There is a clink as the injector is discarded on a tray. The doctor makes a note his electronic pad. Then back he goes for a second look, out of sight to the place I can’t protect or hide myself.

I sense him reaching in again, and a sharp pinching pain in as intimate a place as a touch can be makes me cry out. God’s he’s right at the opening between my legs. My eyes water, and I instinctively try to squeeze my thighs together.

As well as the pinching discomfort below there’s a sensation of being stretched, and I realize what’s happening down there. He’s pulling at the lips of my labia. Please no, I’m gaping open like a tunnel, and it’s the most exposed feeling imaginable.

I hear him chuckle.

“Is that a hymen?” he asks. “Are you a virgin, Melena?”

I don’t know whether to lie and deny it or admit the truth, but my hesitation is enough to give the answer away. He laughs openly now.

“Oh, what a waste that such a sexy piece of woman flesh isn’t being shared,” he chortles. “How could you have denied the galaxy’s cocks the chance to go up there? It’s good we caught you while you still look your best.”

It shouldn’t mean that much to me, but when this secret torn from me, I pass a point of being unable to hold back my misery. My eyes had already filled with tears from the discomfort of having such delicate flesh pinched, and at this additional verbal wound the first drop of salt water trickles down onto my cheek. I squeeze my lids closed trying to stem any more weeping, but luckily he isn’t looking at my face.

I hear him talk to himself as he notes down, “virgin – who’d have thought it?”

The doctor looks back up at me.

“You must be a bit frigid, no?”

I’m not going to answer that.

“Look - just fuck off!” I tell him. “Do what you have to do, and spare me the banter.”

The man tuts emotionlessly.

“Well, if you’re not going to be nice to me we can do this the other way,” he says, and picks up a black tool like a blaster gun from the table of instruments.

He doesn’t load it with bullets or blast charges though, but with an inconsequential tiny pellet. This weapon he moves under the chair near my upper body, and out of my sight.

Any rebelliousness leaves me immediately.

“Please, not an implant,” I beg, but he’s already decided.

I feel the tip of the gun press to the base of my skull, and there it is already - a fierce, intense pain. I cry out, and the moment of agony is already fading, but inside I’m still screaming. Gods no! I’ve been implanted, I’ve been implanted.

“There,” the doctor says.

The pain made my eyes brim with fresh tears, but as soon as the pain has gone and I’m able to take stock I feel confused. For I feel no different whatsoever – no sudden compulsion to obey his every command, and nothing forbidding me harming him either. Right now I could happily watch the girls give him the same treatment as they gave Leshan.

I’ve just been implanted, but briefly a moment of hope returns to me. I read once that as often as one time in twenty times the implantation process fails. Could luck be on my side for once, and mine be the one chip that is faulty?

My mind races as I consider this possibility more deeply. If the doctor discovers something is wrong, I’ll be given a second implant. So it’s imperative I find out what’s expected of me and behave in the correct way, before he grows suspicious.

“What does my chip do?” I ask humbly. “Is it one of the ones that makes me like women, or want pain, or something like that?”

The doctor laughs.

“You think I’m going to tell you that, after you told me to fuck myself?” he asks.

I make no answer to his reply, but hide my turbulent emotions by looking at the ceiling above me. I must behave as if I’m implanted, even if the chip is defective, or the doctor will grow suspicious.

Meanwhile the doctor had been typing something else on his pad, and hitting an enter button with an air of finality he looks at me again.

“Now,” he says, “I’ll give you another chance to answer. “Do you consider yourself to be frigid, Melena?”

His intimate questions are humiliating, but I can see he’s got me in a corner where I can’t even be deceitful. Implants have a function to detect if a slave is lying and report to the control pad. Her every intimate secret is laid bare as long as the question is asked by a man.

The doctor might believe he’s just activated the honesty function, for all I know. So unless I want to give myself away, I can see with dreadful certainty what I must do. Even though it will make me weak with shame I must play along.

“I don’t think of myself as frigid,” is what I answer in a voice trembling with shame, “but there’s always been more important things in my life than sex, so I can see why other people see me that way.”

The doctor nods.

“But you must masturbate, or give yourself sexual pleasure in private?”

Again there is no point concealing what could be extracted from me anyway.

“I prefer not to touch my body,” I admit. “The way it responds is… too much.”

The doctor gives a low whistle of surprise, and notes something down on his pad.

His chair is still within my range of view but I’m too ashamed to meet his gaze and I stare at the ceiling. This is unbearable. Why is he making me answer these questions? What does it matter if I masturbate or not? I’m actually starting to wish he’d just give me the mark, and then this hateful process would be over.

“If you did have to engage in sexual activity, would you prefer it to be with male or female?” he asks next.

I think about that. I would have considered myself heterosexual. But after I’ve so long been the subject of such predatory male interest, and now I’ve fallen victim to the Slavers, it would feel like a defeat to yield myself to a man. And yet, the thought of the female form does not particularly arouse me either. Well, I’m not going to admit I desire any man in front of this sleazebag, so I risk telling a lie.

“Perhaps a female,” I answer, and then hide it with the truth, “but there’s not much in it.”

This too is noted down. The doctor’s pad bleeps halfway through my response – a message coming in probably – and he takes longer to type his answer.

The pad is then put down on the surgical table with a clink of metal on metal.

My eyes which had been streaming from the discomfort have dried quickly in the hot room, so I can glance across at him again without showing my weakness. This I do in time to see he’s opening a communication link to someone else. The doctor puts an earpiece in, so I’m only able to hear his half of the conversation.

“It’s me, Chief. I’m processing Colonel de Santo. Yes – with this change you’ll need to approve the selections. Do you see the file I sent?”

(There is a pause).

“That’s right. A virgin, and naturally celibate. Almost no interest in partners of either gender, and yet a very responsive body. The celibacy is perhaps a fear of her own sexuality.”

I blush indignantly at this public debate of my psyche. How dare this guy talk about my secrets? Meanwhile the unknown speaker replies.

“Yes, I agree,” the doctor says. “Something on those lines would be most entertaining for the public, especially if left to war with her instinctive revulsion.”

(Another pause).

“I have your approval to proceed? Then I’ll deal with it as soon as the confirmation arrives.”

And after a final pause the call is ended. I don’t know whether I want to know what has been decided, or whether ignorance is better, but it can’t be good for me.

The doctor has to stand up and cross to a cupboard, where he takes out an additional injector. His pad chimes. Another message.

He resumes his place on the wheeled chair, and scrolls back down my body. Again he is at the most vulnerable place, right between my legs.

The previous injector he had pressed against my inner thigh, but the doctor presses this one directly against the left lip of my vulva. The injection this time is far more painful, and I gasp with distress as a flare of agony accompanies the sensation of heat.

It is not the only injection either – there is another to the right lip of my vulva; and a third to my clitoris. They get more painful each time and by the last one I’m struggling not to scream. My sex feels it’s been injected with lava.

“What did you just do to me?” I moan.

“A surprise,” he says viciously, “but one you’ll find most interesting. Fear not – the pain will pass in a couple of minutes.”

That is all he will tell me about his non-consensual violation of my body.

“We’re almost finished,” he tells me. “Not too much modification for you.”

But the worst modification he has saved for last. This time when he comes into view, he picks up a black box, far bigger than the injector. Lord help me, this is it - the slave mark, the slave mark.

“No!” I plead pathetically, trying to shrink back into the chair.

I’m shaking my head from side to side like I did when he touched my hair, to prevent the box touching my face.

“Keep still,” he commands me. “Or I’ll only have to clamp your skull and then apply it.”

He is right – and having my head held still would just make it worse. I freeze in the chair and let him press box against the right side of my face.

It looked solid – like a piece of metal, but I can feel the surface conform to me like its water. Then it turns white hot, and I scream uncontrollably as my cheek is plunged into the sun.

But as soon as the torture begins it is finished, and the doctor is putting the harmless-looking black box back on the table. The unbearable fire has faded to a dull burning.

Up to now during this misery of processing I’ve just about managed to keep myself together, but now, right at the end, the failure to retain any of my dignity or self-respect overwhelms me, and I properly begin to cry.

I’m on a barbaric world where women are treated worse than animals, and I’ve been implanted and given a mark of a slave, something that I will carry for the rest of my life.

Soon I’ll be publicly humiliated in front of the whole galaxy, with the shame of the parade interview ahead even if I am the winner. And what about the Run itself? All the men of the space fleet who used to look at me with respect will likely watch me get stripped and raped, legs open and boobs out like they are now. The whole universe will know what I look like naked, and afterwards they’ll replay my defeat over and over. On top of all this, something has just been done to my pussy.

Tears and snot begin to run down my face, but I can’t wipe the mess away while I’m braceleted.

The neat bearded doctor has sweat on his brow. He is ignoring my misery completely, and presses a button on the communicator.

“You can return Colonel Cunt to the holding pen,” he says, summoning the guards to collect me. Abruptly he starts releasing the many buckles restraining me. That stems my weeping. Suddenly I’m free. I can sit up.

Sniffing uncertainly I fold the wrap back over my bare breasts, and tie the fastening knot. As though this is a normal doctor consultancy and I’m an overwrought patient, I am offered a tissue.

“Dry your eyes, Melena,” he says. “You don’t want anyone to see you’re so pathetic.”

He is quite right. The guards will get a kick from seeing me weep, and I don’t want the other women to know I can be broken. Ja-alixxe would gloat to see a crack in my defenses.

I dab my eyes and try to get the last of my shuddering sobs under control before the guards arrive. To avoid displaying weakness I try to focus on anything that might give me hope.

There is still a small chance I could be the winner, I tell myself first. Another possible source of optimism is that I feel no evidence that the implant chip is functioning, although this may simply be because it has yet to be activated.

All is not lost, I try to conclude.

But maybe it is. I will never again be the same proud and confident Melena de Santo, though. The men around me see me as a slave now and some always will, even if I’m the survivor. As proof, half way through my stumbling journey back to my cell, arms pinned back behind me once more and driven by the choking band of leather tight around my throat, the guard driving me holding the pole slams me without warning into the wall.

As if this is a prepared signal his colleague is on me immediately, hands invading my wrap. And then, he molests me intimately, squeezing my breasts, cupping my sex, and running his fingers up the cleft between my buttocks. Once number one has had his fun they swap positions, and the other one takes his turn.

During the groping my fragile self-control dissolves yet again, and I’m reduced once more to tears. When the ordeal is finally over they resume herding me almost as if nothing just happened, but I feel shattered.

“Don’t try complaining to anybody about this, cunt!” one of them barks to me while my hateful pneumatic chest heaves with sobs. “No one will believe you, or care.”

He’s probably right.

If the Slavers investigated claims of sexual assault by captive women, they’d never have time for anything else. These two men have groped me and there’s nothing I can do about it. They’re going to get away scot-free, and they’ll do it because I’m a worthless slave.

I’m emotionally grateful to be back in the comparative safety of the cell but physically I feel terrible.

The side of my face aches, I can still feel where the guard’s hands were on me, and the burning from the injections in my groin remains as a tingling itch between my legs which keeps demanding my attention.

The irritation feels a little more comfortable with something pressing against the intimate region, so I rest back against the wall with my knees drawn up and my forearms squeezed between my thighs. In this manner I can hold one of my wrists intimately against my nether lips without the position looking unladylike. When I discover this, I have a flashback to remember Ja-Alixxe behaved the same way after her processing. Maybe she also has the same whatever-it-is, but I have no intention of revealing any vulnerability by asking her. I try to sit nonchalantly, concealing what’s been done to me.

Instinct is urging me to hide the slave’s mark on my face, and I do keep the marked side turned to the wall for much of the first evening after processing.

I conceal it because it shames me to have women I want to respect me seeing that Colonel Melena de Santo has been marked as a sex slave, and will forever carry the symbol proving that she has failed.

9 - Allies

We’ve been shut in this stifling hot cell forever, what are the Slavers waiting for?

Sighing with irritation I shift position, drawing up my wrists a little. I’m sitting propped back against the wall, knees raised, elbows between my thighs. I’m not just getting comfortable - my change is position is to discreetly graze my slim forearm against the most intimate place on flesh.

For most of the day I’m been trying to find positions that press something against my sex, particularly my clitoris, without my cellmates noticing. The admittedly pleasurable sensation this temporarily brings seems the only way to relieve the constant distracting tingle that has been with me since the injection.

Two days after my processing, I no longer feel any discomfort from the treatment except the buzz between my legs that constantly demands attention. My face doesn’t hurt; the only reminder of the implant is a slight lump at the base of my skull; and the injections to my genitals that were extremely painful at the time now create an effect that is quite the opposite from suffering.

As forecast by the doctor, the neatly trimmed hair protecting my pudenda fell out within hours, leaving my sex as bare as a pre-pubescent girl’s. It feels more exposed now I’m bald down there - the greater nakedness of my pussy further boosting the enhanced sensitivity that I’m sure results from the injections.

I was captured for the Rape Run while still a virgin, and as I admitted during processing - I have not previously taken much interest or pleasure from my own body, being too busy with the task of protecting the rights and freedoms of women across the galaxy.

But I am not uneducated or ignorant about human sexuality or the possible responses of my body. Thus, I am now dreadfully certain of the function of the painful injections to my labia and clitoris.

Something has been done to me. Something whose purpose is to constantly stimulate the sensitive nerves in my sex organs. Something whose purpose is to humiliate me by sexually arousing me, against my will.

The morning after my processing I awoke on my sleeping mat from a vividly erotic dream to find myself wet between my legs and with my nipples stiff. I tried to ignore the warm, gentle stimulation through the slow hours of my day, but the teasing just grew worse and worse. By the time night approached it was almost impossible to keep my hands from myself, but I vowed not to let the ignited fire conquer me.

The audience will no-doubt know about my treatment. My condition is probably a joke across the whole galaxy – look at the famously frigid Melena de Santo pretending she doesn’t need to touch herself. Look, she’s getting so desperate that she can barely hide it from the other women in her cell.

Today the final female was taken for processing – Elionara being removed from the cell and returned marked and subdued. We all know what the last step in our preparation means. We are all ready. The run might even begin tomorrow.

With ten confined women left with nothing to do but wait for the artificial lights to suddenly extinguish, telling us it is evening in the desert, tension reaches unbearable levels. I, for one, am desperate to flee what awaits in the coming days, but there’s nowhere to run beyond the few yards up to the blast door. Gods help us, even the warm-up is going to be horrific.

The public spectacle of the Rape Run always begins in the same way. First the women are paraded to Wagner’s sadistic kick-off show. Dressed in the years Rape Runner costume they endure a humiliatingly frank interview in front of an auditorium of Slaver men, which is broadcast to the whole galaxy. For a brief time during that conversation the Runner’s implants are more fully activated, so they must answer every question posed, no matter how intimate.

After the interview there is no respite. The women are taken to their departure points ready for the main event, and as soon as number ten has finished on stage and been delivered to The Zone, the Rape Run starts for real. The Hunters will seek us out, and if they catch me I will receive no mercy.

I don’t want to dwell on the Hunters, but with so much idle time I can’t help thinking again and again about each one, and what will happen if I end up in his power.

Lotho-etsarra, known as the libido, the most handsome of the Hunters, if any such vile man could be considered in terms of attractiveness. He has dark hair and a chiseled face, giving him the appearance of a swashbuckling hero from movies of the ancients. He will be less cruel to me than the others if he catches me - simply raping me and not inflicting any other abuse.

Cronorgan, the Master. He is a fat man in his forties, bordering on obese, and his head is completely shaven. His bald skull makes his face seem cherub-like, but there’s nothing else angelic about Cronorgan. If he catches me, he’ll want me restrained while he violates me. Some stress position in my bonds will exhaust me, and force me to co-operate in my own subjugation.

Jackran-ad-aktar, the Alien. The slight blue tint to his skin is not the most notable sign that this is not a human male. He looks simply gigantic in every dimension compared to the women he rapes, and he dwarfs the other Hunters. His manhood is in proportion to the rest of his body, if I fall victim to him then I’m in serious danger of him splitting me apart.

Worst of all to me - Salarin, the Sadist, an ageing man, with short cropped white hair and a clean shaven face with a hooked nose. It’s hard to tell when viewing a screen but I would estimate him to be in his sixties in galactic standard years. He’s strong and muscular for his age though, and his physique is lean. Torturing women keeps one fit. His face is the chilling thing about him, as he has small black eyes, like a crow’s, and never shows the least emotion.

Salarin can only grow aroused by seeing women suffer. If I’m captured by him I can guarantee there will be pain for me.

For many of my fellow Runners, cursed with the same nightmare visions I’m experiencing, there is only one way to keep them at bay.

Almost as soon as we are in blackness, I hear the noise of girls moving around and then the soft murmurs of pleasure. Palonae and Oorla comfort one another. Elionara and Aireela have also paired up, Elionara being naturally expressive through her dancing and comfortable with her physical body, and Aireela coming from a culture where lesbianism was considered a common and natural act.

I too am relieved when our cell at last is plunged into enforced darkness, granting me at least a little privacy from the other women. With the night vision monitors the Slavers undoubtedly constantly use to watch us certainly active, the shame of what I’m about to do cannot be concealed from the galactic audience, but I’m getting too desperate to care. I need to masturbate, or I’m going to be unable to think tomorrow.

A few feet from me I hear two other women seeking each other. An unexpected companionship has arisen between Tasha and Ja-Alixxe, neither of whom seemed to be naturally sensuous in need of physical comfort. I expect is a purely strategic alliance – both of them seeing in the other skills and abilities.

I’m not sure if they even like each other, but all the same they seek each other out in darkness and sleep entwined. Once we’re in The Zone they’ll likely search for each other from their separate starting points, and give each other what aid they can.

With six Runners paired off, that leaves the only women without companions as Leesha, Cara, Jasmeena, and myself.

Jasmeena would be ruined in her culture if she was the survivor and returned home outed as a lesbian. She’s not risking showing any trace of finding one of us physically attractive. As for immaculate Cara – despite having unearthly beauty, she is curiously asexual and seems self-sufficient in her own company. Cara seems the least fazed of any of us by the suffering of captivity. I wish I knew her secret.

At night, increased physical exertion from lovemaking makes our cell humid, and the scent of women – sweat, and juices becomes cloying. But tonight I’ve been looking forward to this time when the air is filled with sex. Around me, the sounds of women coupling is loud enough that I can finally sate my own desperate need without attracting attention.

I already have my finger between my wet nether lips, so I almost jump out of my skin when there is a soft touch on my bare thigh.

I know who it must be.

“Please,” Leesha whispers.

For a moment I am irritated with her. I had been waiting all day for the privacy that would allow me to ease my shame. But then I think, “Why not her?”

I have seen footage of the holding cells at night from previous years of the Rape Run, the cameras showing the girls in images as bright as day. The galactic audience probably know how the Slavers have modified my vulva better than I do, and they’ll understand exactly what I’m doing, so… so what? A lesbian encounter is no worse than masturbating.

Why not permit another female to ease my never-ending need for stimulation, and why don’t I accept the only physical kindness I’m likely to receive on this planet of horrors?

Rolling decisively onto my back I reach up into the dark and touch something warm and firm, which by moving my hand I determine to be Leesha’s upper arm. Orientating myself, I gently grasp both her shoulders and steer her body over me.

“Come,” I say.

A sudden pressure against my inner thigh tells me her knee is between my legs, and then she sinks down onto me, her bodyweight pressing me down into the mat.

Her mouth seeks out my ear, at the whisper is so quiet that the other women won’t here, and perhaps not the cameras.

“I know about your injections,” she says almost silently. In the dark my face grows hot. I didn’t manage to conceal it that well then. Leesha continues, “You, Ja-Alixxe, Aireela, Cara, Palonae. Let me help you, Melena.”

“How…” I stammer, and then more pressingly I need to know, “What have they done to me?”

“Nanobots,” she whispers with surprising certainty. “When you orgasm it pacifies them, but you need to do it every two days or they’ll drive you insane.”

And she repeats, “Let me help you, Melena.”

Yes, if I must release my passion, let it be with her. This docile, beautiful brunette. At twenty-one galactic years, she’s the youngest of us all, and she deserves someone on her side.

I seize her head in my hands and silence her by pulling her mouth to mine. Our lips seek each other out and I kiss her, probing between her lips with my tongue, suddenly desperately hungry for tenderness from another human being.

Certain of my permission, Leesha’s fingers start pulling at the tie under my arm that keeps my slave wrap in position. Were any other person on Aghara-Penthay to be undressing me I would be fighting desperately at this moment, but for her I welcome the chance at nakedness.

Leesha pulls my wrap back, baring me to the darkness, and pushes it aside so I’m lying back on it like a beach towel. Meanwhile I reach for the fastening of her own garment. This is the first time I’ve let go of my inhibitions since arriving here, and being free of the shameful slave clothing feels glorious.

Our legs entwine like the teeth of a zip. Her lush thigh is between mine, just where I’ve been craving the pressure of flesh all day. I grind my pelvis hungrily into her, smearing my juices as I strive to make the contact even more intimate.

The bow holding her slave wrap in place comes loose and I throw it aside. Now we are both nude. I clutch Leesha to me, my breasts pressing into hers, and we kiss again. I run my hands down her slim waist, her wide hips, and her smooth skin. It is a body that is not threatening to me. She’s so warm, so soft, except for the hard buds of her nipples which grind into mine.

My body is now aflame with desire, heat pooling in liquid fire between my legs. Gods help me, I need this so much. I grasp her rounded fleshy buttocks, one in each palm and squeeze, spreading my fingers out like fans. Women do not particularly arouse me, but I can appreciate that this girl has an exceptional body.

The pleasure I feel is so deep I have to bite my lip as I press my swollen sex rhythmically into Leesha’s thigh, wanting the stimulation to be even more intense, but before I can sink deeper into this bliss she is pushing herself away in the darkness, lifting her body off me.

“No! Please!”

It is me whispering now, to the girl held above me by knees and elbows.

“It’s okay - like this,” she whispers back.

I sense her movement rather than see it. Then her weight is on me again, nipples lower down, caressing my stomach, and my nostrils flare with the acrid scent of a woman’s fluids. One of Leesha’s thighs brushes against my ear.

The sensation I feel then is unbearably delicious. Her mouth is on my pussy, gently kissing and licking, concentrating particularly on the area around my clitoris.

It is too delightful to hold back and before I know it I am groaning. I pause, freezing in embarrassed, but then once more remind myself – what does it matter if my cell mates know what’s happening? We’ll all be slaves within days anyway. Who cares?

Stretching my head upwards I reciprocate Leesha’s action, at first kissing the warm, soft lips of her pussy tentatively, and then with growing confidence as I learn the contours of her hairless form.

She’s probing into me with her tongue, but she can’t penetrate deeply enough to break my hymen. It’s perfect - pleasurable without making me feel too invaded. This gentle tonguing by another woman is not humbling, unlike how I believe having a man enter me might be – an experience I imagine would make me feel stretched and full.

I reciprocate, and taste her in my mouth. Leesha is as wet as I am, her pussy moist and swollen. Tentatively I probe deeper with my own tongue, and find her internal passage warmer than her skin. The taste of her juices fills my mouth and nose.

With this beautiful woman I hold nothing back. I will soon be degraded before the universe anyway, my every last intimacy torn from me and exposed, so I might as well just once flaunt myself on my own terms. As she pushes me up the curve of joy I yield more deeply against her, feeling myself opening up like the petals of a flower.

Something is building inside me, something like an explosion that’s swelling out from between my legs spreading warmth right to the tips of my fingers. The intensity of that ecstasy is almost frightening, but I still offer no resistance to my passion and let it claim me.

Then every nerve is ablaze with pleasure, as I experience an orgasm so intense that my head reels. I would have collapsed were I not already lying on the floor. I cry out noisily, only becoming aware I’m making any sound when the walls reverberate with it. Still it doesn’t stop. On and on goes the climax. I have to squeeze my thighs together, bucking my pelvis as I press into the other girl’s face. Suddenly her thighs clamp tightly about my head, gripping me so hard I’m trapped completely with my face in her sex, and ears muted by her flesh hear Leesha moan in the moment of her own release.

As our orgasms mutually subside we go limp. I realize I’m breathing heavily, and a sheen of sweat covers my body. I’m adding to the overpowering odor of the room.

Leesha recovers from the ecstasy more quickly than I do. Above me she tenses as gracefully as a cat, her weight is lifted from me, and I hear her moving. Then once more she is there, only this time she lies draped partly across me, with her head heavy where it rests on my shoulder. She kisses me, tenderly rather than passionately, touching her lips to my cheek. The smell of her sex is still on my face.

“Thank you,” she whispers.

“No, thank you!” I reply.

Something has been awoken in me. For an instant I glimpsed that it could have been wonderful to be the sensuous, passionate, response female that is Melena de Santo. The fears of what my helplessly sexuality could do if turned against me were beaten back into the shadows, if only for a brief moment.

“Allies?” she says almost silently. “I think they’ll make us Run tomorrow so there’s not long to decide.”

“I’ll try to find you,” I whisper.

That’s easier said than done, though, and she hears the doubt in my voice. Neither of us know where we’ll start in The Zone, or it’s geography, so how are two vulnerable women to find each other while avoiding all the other threats?

But Leesha has an answer.

“Make immediately for the highest point you can reach, and hide close by. There’s probably a peak on the crater rim. I’ll do the same.”

I only hesitate for a moment before agreeing.

“Okay.”

“But tonight, this…”

Her hand travels down over my belly, until her fingers rest over the contours of my pudenda. Gently she strokes me, more intimately than anyone has done before.

The fire inside my loins that I thought would be sated by the orgasm, is already beginning to build again. Heaven help me if a man has me in his power, and discovers that this secret part of my nature is within. Before I can sink into imagining those horrors I think of my companion. Just think about the girl.

“Once more,” I plead humbly, and for a while we escape Aghara-Penthay to lose ourselves in each other.

10 - Line

All ten of us are ready, the Rape Runners, class of galactic-standard-year 4451. We should be pleased, to be the only ten women on Aghara-Penthay neither nude nor wearing slave clothing, and yet as I await display, I almost wish I was one of the many other females who pass naked through the training system. Those women don’t have the one-in-ten chance of escape, but they do get to be ignored among the thousands of anonymous slaves. At least they don’t have to be seen in degrading dress by the entire galaxy.

In early years of the Rape Run, the women were let loose nude, but it was soon found to make a more enjoyable show if Runners began the contest dressed. This clothing is not provided as a kindness, however. We are given garments not to give us dignity, but to make the moment of our defeat more entertaining, and make our fall into slavery an even greater one. Many viewers enjoy seeing coverage when a helpless girl is being gradually stripped more than they enjoy the actual moment of her rape, especially when it happens to the women from conservative cultures who hate to reveal themselves.

I’ve seen the clothing of enough others torn away over the years, before turning away in revulsion. Unless I’m the lone survivor, my turn lies ahead.

For now, ten of us stand nervously waiting in line, dressed in the clothes that for nine of us will be the last garments we wear as free women – “cunts” in Slaver slang. Only the luckiest one, the winner, will live to see the end of the contest without being stripped for the pleasure of the viewing galaxy.

Runner costumes vary year on year. One year it was modest jumpsuits much like my Republic uniform. One year it was tight catsuits. One year they Ran in a different slave costume – a revealing bikini top and narrow strips of cloth which hung down between the legs.

This year they have covered our nudity, but chosen something that in all other respects couldn’t show our figures more completely. The navy-blue shorts I’m squeezed into are the tightest I have ever worn, and they’re cut so high that it feels like round the back my buttocks escape from their lower hem. I’m wearing hot-pants, degrading hot-pants made from some kind of elasticated material. They’ve dressed me in clothes for a hooker or cheap waitress, not something for a Colonel.

The fabric clings so closely to my pelvis I’m sure that between my legs, even the rounded curves of the lips of my sex would be revealed, were it not for the worrying contraption cupping my groin.

My top is made from the same obscenely-tight navy fabric. It covers my shoulders, which will be helpful in the desert sun, but it is scooped low at the neckline, emphasizing the generous cleavage that has drawn so many stares since I reached womanhood. Internal support has been added - a firmer section inside lifts the breasts as would a bra, no doubt to flaunt my cleavage more prominently. Oh well - at least partly disguises the shape of my nipples, which seem to have remained permanently erect since my processing.

The designers of our tops didn’t see the need to cover the section of flesh around the waist, so the garment unfortunately terminates just below my breasts. My firm belly and lower back will be bared to the universe for the duration of the Rape Run, along with my legs, my arms and a lot more of my ass than I want to show.

We will all run in soft, slipper-like shoes. The soles are reasonably solid, but they will be insufficient in places where the arid ground on the planet’s surface gets very rocky. The Hunters in their heavy combat boots will find movement easier than we do.

Our clothes are chosen to emphasize our beauty, not for desert practicality. We have no choice about any of it. The Hunters want us in crop-tops and hot-pants, so that’s what Melena has to wear.

Waiting in line I shift position, and it feels like my shorts ride even higher up into my backside. I wish I could pull down the hems, but we haven’t got to the worst of my outfit yet - the yoke across my shoulders trapping my hands.

This item, we were told while being locked into them, will be removed after the display, as I hope will the groinal cup. The steel-alloy bar is formed around a central collar for my neck, a yoke which extends one foot to either side, where it terminates in a metal bracelet for my wrists. So with my throat currently locked into the collar section and my hands secured and useless out at the bracelets, I don’t have the use of my arms in any way.

We have all been restrained in the same way, holding our hands out, wrists level with our necks. Down from each collar section dangles a leash. In my case this strap rests on the swelling of my breasts.

Beneath the mysterious groinal cup my pussy is tingling – the returning early stages of arousal that has pestered me since my injections. This morning the stimulation is made worse by the presence inside my shorts of a bumpy piece of soft rubberlike material, something only the size of a sticking plaster, which presses and forms around my clitoris intimately. It seems to have been manufactured into the fabric of the clothing, and I hope it’s only to be there during the parade. Having to complete the Rape Run with that thing turning me on the entire time will make an insurmountable challenge still more difficult.

I wonder if all of us are inflicted with one of these. Some of my fellow runners are certainly looking flushed, especially the ones Leesha believed were also injected, so I suspect at least a few are suffering the same constant teasing.

So great is the effect of the rubber on me that the camel-toe I’m forced to display by the tightness of my thin shorts might show a shameful stain of dampness, were it not for the cup.

But what is this cup? The yoke I understand, but the cup is a mystery and the unknown frightens me. It covers me like the protective device that goes over a sportsman’s groin, fastening to me with such a simple strapped harness that were it not for the restraints I could easily remove it. Only a groin guard is hollow, whereas the solid inside of this thing fits snugly to me, pressing through my thin shorts intimately against the whole of my pudenda. Also unlike a groin guard these cups contain some technology - the entire outer surface of each one glows with a soft red light.

We all have been fitted with one of them. We can’t hide its steady shine, even by demurely crossing our thighs, because of the second bar. This piece of metalwork has leather straps at either end and is fastened to hold our legs open, just above the level of the knees.

So once we are taken, one at a time, into the interview hall we will do so walking in an ungainly waddle. It’s demeaning to move in such a way here in front of our cellmates, let alone the crowd, so most of us stand as still as we can, only taking a step when obliged.

In the heat of the waiting area I feel sick with anticipation. This is how I am to be displayed – in hot pants, a crop top and this yoke, interviewed on stage before an auditorium full of men baying to see my humiliation, with the session broadcast to the galaxy.

Our implants will temporarily be fully activated during the interviews, making it impossible to tell an untruth to the intimate questions we will be given. I wish I could avoid this more than anything else they will throw at me today – more than whatever the cup does - having my secret feelings exposed to ridicule.

Ever since my processing I’ve had my suspicions that my implant might be faulty, I’ve felt so little difference since it was buried into my brain stem. One piece of evidence to support my belief is that a partially active implant will still prevent the Runner from killing herself, but I feel I could readily take my own life were I to be captured. Another is that the implant is supposed to stop us harming a man, but I desperately want to strangle every single guy I see round here with my bare hands. I’m only holding back on acting out because of the futility of the attempt.

Failure to implant does occasionally happen, but even if that’s my situation I’ve got to play my part on that stage. I must disguise the possibility that the implant hasn’t taken, and answer every question without disguise, even though it will cause me great shame.

My interview, conducted by the same sleazy host Wagner who fronts the show every year, is only the start of my day’s ordeal. After my displaying we will be taken to our starting places for the Rape Run, and the main event will begin. Then my future is in the lap of the Gods. If I’m caught, within hours instead of Leesha’s gentle fingers inside me it could be the cock of the alien.

It is tradition to surprise the women in some unpleasant way during the display. One year the implants were configured so when Wagner said a keyword, the Runner would suddenly believe herself to be naked in front of the audience. Another year a mini-contest was held where each Runner was forced to give oral pleasure to a male captive. The woman bringing her man to climax fastest was promised an advantage in the Run.

I fear that this year, the trick has something to do with the glowing red cup.

I will not be the first Runner to go before the crowd, but even so I won’t learn of the surprise until I am there in Wagner’s presence. Runners are not permitted to see each other’s interviews – the unguarded answers about our tactics for the Run might give our fellow competitors an advantage, so the forced secrecy means the moment revealing the surprise will be more entertaining.

How many billions, perhaps trillions, will want to watch my reaction when they unveil the shock? My face is well known across the Republic, and I’m grimly certain there will have been even more publicity since my capture. Will the general watch me suffer? Or Jasmine? Or Mansom?

Edited footage of me will have been broadcast since my capture – the preamble and anticipation of the Rape Run are as important to the audience as the event itself. The viewers won’t have seen shots of me naked or indulging in sexual activity, as the first time the crowd get to see me nude will be saved until I’m stripped. My adult-rated footage has been recorded and kept for the highlights shows after the Run, and for the lucrative merchandising that accompanies the event.

So the audience will be familiar with me already, but today will be the first time the Whole Galaxy sees Melena de Santo reacting live to questions. Today they’ll see that the Republic was not strong. Their poster girl can be humiliated and displayed as a Slaver captive.

Seeking a distraction from the futile anticipation I’m feeling at this prospect, I look down at myself. The dim light in the antechamber where we ten women wait under close guard, makes the illumination on each of us more noticeable, a row of waist-high weaving fireflies, so my eyes are drawn to my own cup.

I can see confusion in the faces of my fellow Runners. None of them understand the purpose of these devices either. I wish I could ask Leesha, but being interviewed second, she’s not near me in the line.

Ja-alixxe meets my eyes once. I must concede she looks utterly stunning in her tight top and shorts, even with demeaning yoke lifting her hands away from her torso, her knees apart and the red glow from her sex. I can appreciate a female body even if I do not desire my own gender.

Swinging my yoked arms out of my view I look along the line. Many of the other women around me are in my opinion, more attractive than I am. I remember that some runners are chosen for beauty, and some because their participation makes a political or psychological point about the rights of women.

Thus Aireela the Amazon, Elionara the dance, Jasmeena from the deserts, Cara the model, Leesha, Ja-Alixxe the bounty huntress and Oorla the actress are selected mainly based on their desirability, and indeed they do look exquisite. The political prisoners – Palonae, Tasha, and myself wouldn’t be here were we not also notable beauties, but if we’re lucky our appearance as part of the display will be forgettable compared to the others.

The princess Palonae, who has been selected at random to be displayed and interviewed first, is twisting and turning her arms, trying to contrive to bring her hands in and reach the scarves knotted to the neckpiece of her yoke.

She fails completely.

Those delicate silken scarves, an addition to a Runner’s parade outfit give the only other flash of color to her dark blue outfit apart from her glowing red crotch.

The scarves are the only variation in our uniform. Two of these are around my throat - we all wear at least one. I would give almost anything to be able to tear mine away, but they were secured when my wrists were already yoked.

The scarves are an annual traditional of the parade, and unlike the chastity belt like glowing cup, they are symbols the whole galaxy well recognizes.

In the Slaver’s mind-set women should be allowed no secrets, even those women destined for the Rape Run who are cunts and not yet slaves. The scarves convey two pieces of information, the first about our sexual history, and the second about our recommended fate as slaves, should we be one among the nine losers of the Rape Run. They will remind the voters of the galactic public, who through their sponsorship will influence which women they want to see win, or get raped and then sold.

Palonae displays a red scarf – indicating if she fails to win the contest she has been found best suited to end her days providing sexual pleasure. This is the most common scarf – as well as Palonae’s five more are on show – Elionara the dancer; of course Cara the model; the exotic Jasmeena; humble Oorla and finally the red scarf I can’t dislodge from my own neck.

I had expected nothing else. It will be the most entertaining outcome for me to end up with this fate – the pride of the Space Fleet turned into nothing more than a degraded sex object.

I’d hoped for the green scarf, but as always I have been bested by Ja-alixxe, the bounty hunter. She wears the green marking her as breeding stock. The women who combine athletic or intellectual prowess with beauty are sought after by forced-breeding programs. As such women spend much of their lives pregnant, in most ways it is the least barbaric life for a slave.

It is not too surprising Ja-alixxe was selected for this purpose, neither is it surprising that the lithe Aireela wears green. The green scarf at the throat of Tasha, the famous career woman, is perhaps more unexpected.

The most feared scarf is the grey one – that indicates the unfortunate wearer will be supplied to the species that enjoy humanoid females as live food. This year there is only one grey scarf in the Rape Run, worn around the neck of my poor Leesha. She looks remarkably stoic as she stands in line, despite the death sentence displayed at her throat. The cruel decision to mark her in grey is incomprehensible to me. Leesha is one of the most beautiful of us all. Why do something so pointless and so barbaric to her?

Ten of us. Six pleasure, three breeding, one food.

My second scarf, the white one, is perhaps a greater indignity. This shows the intimate truth that I would have desperately wished to hide. It tells that if I am raped, my conqueror will claim my virginity.

It’s bad news to Run after parading in the white scarf. It will turn the audience more against me. They say there is more sport to see a virgin be claimed by force than a woman who has previously experienced sexual pleasure in her life. Sponsors will want to see me lose.

I am not the only virgin present in the line. Palonae, unsurprisingly has not been intimate with a man, and Leesha and Aireela also wear white scarves. The only white that I did not expect is fixed to Ja-alixxe’s yoke. She had exuded such sexual confidence, I was certain she had some experience, but she stands there, looking calmly stoic, in scarves of green and white.

One girl I had expected to be a virgin was Jasmeena. From her repressive society where women are sequestered indoors, she should not have had the opportunity to be in private with a man.

For her, I feel great sympathy. It is more shameful for her to be publicly displayed as having been deflowered than it is for me to have retained my virginity.

There is one more scarf to mention, only infrequently worn. The blue scarf indicates a woman whose sexual preference is for other females. With the incidence of lesbian women being less than three percent in the indigenous population of the galaxy, on many years there are no blue scarves in the Rape Run.

In our year, there are two.

Oorla and Leesha both are showing the blue scarf. This will be damning for Oorla, who was married, should she be the survivor.

Briefly my eyes meet Leesha’s. Now I’ve been outed as straight, I worry she’ll think I tricked her during last night’s session of mutual pleasure. The reciprocal looks she gives me though is reassuring though. Like many of us she’s busy fighting against her restraints, attempting to assume a less humiliating position.

As well as the scarves, each one of us has fastened to the neckpiece of our yokes the leash, such as might be used to lead a dog. By this we will be led out onto the stage, ready to be interviewed on our thoughts, hopes and fears for participating in the Rape Run.

I can feel mine right now, resting between my breasts against the taut fabric of my revealing top. If I’d not had those breasts, not been beautiful, I wouldn’t be here. Life isn’t fair.

“Princess Palonae…”

We are interrupted by one of the Aghara-Penthay guards, who addresses Palonae with mock respect. He takes hold of her leash, and I am sure when his hands brush her exposed stomach that it is deliberate.

“Show time, cunt,” he tells her, and after he tightens her lead the princess is forced to waddle forwards. I watch, feeling sick with nerves as she is led from the room and into the auditorium.

For a moment while the door is ajar I hear the roar of hundreds of male voices greeting her, and then there is silence again. Those of us waiting behind are left looking at each other in quiet dread.

11 - Wagner

When I waddle onto the stage behind my guard the noise of the crowd is thunderous, and every one of them is baying for my blood. It takes me an effort not to cringe from it, such is the hostility directed towards me.

Hundreds of men fill the auditorium. Some of them are on their feet, shaking their fists at me. No one in this crowd is on my side.

So many people, and all every single one wants is to see me fail, and then see me shamed, and then see me hurt, and then see me raped. I have done no more than defend law and order in the Republic, but it is as if I personally have wronged each male in the audience.

“Bitch”, “Cunt”, “Whore”, are a few of the names I am called. Observations are made about the shape of my boobs, and how pleasing my ass is. Suggestions are being shouted at Wagner for the various ways I should be treated once caught.

In this helpless condition, I can do nothing but try to remain impassive, and stare stoically ahead.

Wager is not shocked by any of the verbal abuse. He looks amused, and smiles benevolently at the crowd. While I am led towards the seat intended for me he even exchanges banter with a few familiar faces.

My place is to be on a low, padded stool. Women are not permitted chairs on Aghara-Penthay. This inferior thing is good enough for my sex. While I waddle into position with my feet apart like a fattened goose Wagner quiets the crowd, gesturing in downwards motions with his hand like one might calm a difficult child.

“Please Melena, sit,” Wagner says, as if I had a choice when I am surrounded on either side by male guards.

I comply.

Even sitting is awkward with my knees spread by the bar, and I almost overbalance, relying on one of the guards to prop me up.

There is a chuckle from the crowd.

The guards aren’t finished with me. Steel ankle shackles – linked by short chains to bolts in the stage floor - are locked to my legs, keeping me at an angle where I will directly face the hateful audience, showing them the glowing cup between my open legs. There is nowhere for such as me to flee on this world, but it appears I am to be restrained during my interview all the same.

While I docilely wait for whatever humiliation is to come they then fumble to connect something to my yoke, at the back of my neck. I can feel a pressure there – another chain, taut, that will keep me down, preventing me from rising should I wish to stand.

That dreadful animosity from the crowd continues to come at me like waves. In the expressions of the men is also malicious expectation. Whatever the others have already been through, it wasn’t pleasant.

“Be brave, Melena,” I think to myself. “Whatever is coming, you can survive this.”

“Colonel Melena de Santo,” Wagner says genially. “Welcome to Aghara-Penthay.”

I turn my head in the yoke to look past the curtain of my long hair and boldly meet his gaze.

Wagner is an effeminate, coiffured man. I would have guessed him as homosexual, were we meeting elsewhere. He is heavily made up for the cameras of the galaxy and his hair has been styled into curls. The suit he wears is dark, formal and conservative though. Here sits the respectable face of the Slavers.

There is nothing I can say to his greeting, so I remain stoically silent, eyes locked with his in open hostility.

“We enjoyed your performance with Leesha last night,” he says conversationally. “It was so graphic that most of it had to be pixelated out – we don’t want the galactic audience to get a peek at you too soon, do we? Did you find bedding Leesha pleasurable?”

I must be careful, and remember that my implant is supposed to be active. I must answer truthfully.

“She was delightful,” I reply, and feel the first warmth of a blush hit my face.

“Was that your first sexual experience with a girl?”

I must answer.

“Yes.”

“And has it turned you? Much better to have sex with her than fucking one of the Slavers, hey?”

This provokes a strange laugh from the audience, like there’s a shared secret. Leesha was interviewed ahead of me. What did she say?

“I would never willingly let one of those creeps touch me,” I insist, keeping on topic before they can mess with my mind. “Those men are pathetic. They’re not real men!”

That’s better. I’m making a stand now.

“Yes, Melena, indeed Leesha isn’t a real man,” Wagner agrees.

Another laugh at my expense. What am I missing?

“Let’s pick up on that point you made about ‘real men’ though Melena… You accuse these great guys here on Aghara-Penthay of not being real men, but you’ve been in the Republic fleet all this time, surrounded by hundreds of males, you’re not a lesbian, and you’re still here in the scarf of a virgin. What’s the story there?”

Wagner turns to address the audience, “You see what I mean? Just take a look, men and cunts…”

And at this he reaches out and grasps my yoke, twisting and raising it, easily using it as a lever to force my back into an arch that pushes out my chest.

“Look at those hooters! Did you ever see such a nice pair? And not one man in the fleet got his hands on them? Tell us Melena: don’t you like sex, or is there not one of them knows how to get a girl between the sheets?”

It is as the general warned. My virginity is being used against me. I wonder if the general is watching me now.

Wagner releases the yoke, so I can look at the crowd while I give my answer. Careful again. Remember the implant.

“It’s not that I don’t like sex. I don’t really have time for it. There are more important things…”

“But surely you masturbate, Melena?”

The follow on question comes too fast, and makes me blush hotter. When can this be over with? And still I must tell the truth.

“Not until I came here,” I answer with my cheeks glowing. “Then they did something to me you see. I have to…”

“Would you say you’re responsive?” Wagner asks.

Gods help me, must I really answer?

“I’m hyper-sensitive,” I admit, every part of me is wishing I could hold that truth back and then add, “I wish I wasn’t.”

“Why?” Wagner asks, and again my alleged implant would oblige me to answer.

“Because now you’ve captured me, I’m scared my responsiveness will be used to humiliate me.”

His face assumes a smile of mock sympathy.

“How can you think the Slavers would do something as cruel as sexually humiliating you?”

The noise of the crowd is building back towards the feeding frenzy. Whatever the trick is, it’s coming. And then it happens.

Between my legs, there is a sudden intense flood of stimulation. Something is moving against me, vibrating intimately against my clitoris with a gentle buzz.

I cry out, I can’t help it, and I jump in my seat as my muscles involuntarily tense. There is a roar of laugher. I’m trying to squeeze my thighs together – instinctively trying to push away whatever is stimulating my sex, but the bar keeps my knees apart so the thing stays tightly against me.

The noise of it, the soft hum, is amplified by the microphones and clearly audible to the room, but soon the savage amusement grows so loud they drown it out.

So this is what the “surprise” is this year. Each one of us is to be stimulated, against our will, so the whole galaxy can see how we look when aroused. My comrades in the space fleet will see me turned on, my friends, my enemies. They’re all about to see me growing flushed, my breathing beginning to quicken…

Wagner makes the hand gesture to quiet the audience again.

“Is something the matter?” he asks.

Everyone is laughing at me. A few men are crying with hilarity, rolling in the aisles. And I have to keep up the confessions, just to protect an implant that only might be faulty.

“The vibration,” I groan, twisting my arms to see if I can reach the glowing red device with my hands and pull it away, “between my legs.”

As well as straining to dislodge the hateful thing with my hands I try gyrating my pelvis, struggling desperately to move my vulva away from this unbearably close contact, but the sculpted rubber inside my shorts conforms closely, keeping the stimulator firmly in place.

“It’s not pleasurable?” Wagner asks, provoking another big laugh.

There crowd are building to another crescendo. They must have seen this with the other runners.

I want it to stop, but there’s nothing I can do. Wave after wave of warm liquid arousal spread out from the pool between my legs and out to the ends of my body.

And I have to answer him honestly.

“It’s unbearably pleasurable,” I say, and hear the crack in my voice. Oh no, oh no, don’t let them hear how my voice sounds as well – this is supposed to be for the most intimate of partners.

“So what’s the problem?” Wagner asks.

No, no, no. Anything but this question. I look at him in desperation, and see I will get no mercy.

“I don’t want to have an orgasm in front of everyone.”

He laughs.

“But everyone else in the galaxy wants to see you climax. That’s democracy. And you support democracy?”

There is a new roar from the crowd, confirming this.

I cannot answer, for an even greater wave of hot pleasure spills out from between my legs. Oh God, I can’t think for this.

“While you’re getting warmed up, would you like to know your place in the two ranking tables, Melena? Would you like to know how grateful the galaxy is for everything you’ve done?”

“No…” I answer. I really don’t want to have it made clear to me, how much they hate me. I already know. My answer “No” just broke down into a groan of arousal, and the reaction to that tells me enough.

“We’ll talk about your odds of being the lone survivor, first Melena,” he presses inexorably. “You are actually second place in the betting to survive. What do you think of that?”

“Urggghhhh!” is what I answer, for at that moment I’m trying to move my pelvis, desperate to get my clitoris away from the overwhelming vibration, and my movement only makes it feel more intense. I’m getting so turned on it’s getting difficult to keep quiet.

There are shrieks of laughter from the watching men. Some of them are on their feet again.

“She wants it! Fuck her! Fuck her right here!” one fellow bellows.

I try to ignore my disintegrating lower body and concentrate on what Wagner told me. So the odds put me in second place, do they? (Oh God, Oh God, Oh God). That’s good – the audience across the galaxy will have seen background information on the Runners that is denied to us. And if they think I’m in with a chance knowing all they do, then that means I am in with a chance.

In the last five Rape Runs, the winner has always come from the top three in the survival ranking. It was six Runs ago when an outsider, the seventh placed female, was the last to be caught.

But before I can consider that further there’s another wave of pleasure. This time so intense I think I’m going to faint here on the stage. Another sexual sounding moan escapes me.

Goddam this thing, I’ve got to stop it stimulating me. If only I could get it away from vibrating right against my clit, I might be able to keep my body under control.

I twist my arms again, grunting with exertion as I try once more to reach down to my groin with my yoked hands. But of course, I get nowhere. I wouldn’t be wearing this thing if I had a chance of saving my pride.

“Please Wagner, take it off!” I beg him.

My voice sounds strained with arousal.

“And disappoint the crowd, Melena?” he replies innocently.

“Screw you, then!” I curse him, but my insult is robbed of its impact by another involuntary moan of pleasure.

“No, it will be you getting fucked I think, Melena, unless you’re the lucky one who gets away,” he says smoothly. “Do you want to know how much the galaxy wants to see your virgin little pussy getting reamed? Do you want to know how grateful the republic is to the woman who fought to protect it?”

I do, and I don’t. The first category – the odds for the betting on the survivor don’t matter too much, apart from reassuring the higher ranking females that they have a chance. But the second ranking – who do the audience most want to see raped – makes a big difference to how the run plays out.

The reason is because of our trackers, and the sponsors.

(Please no, I feel so horny)

Back before trackers were used, the best survival tactic for a woman in the Rape Run would be to find the perfect hiding place and stay there. It made for a competition the audience found boring – no better than an adult game of hide-and-seek. So when the Slavers developed technology to let all their slaves’ implants also function as trackers, they made an amendment to the implants of women in the game. At a random time, once per day, and she doesn’t know when, the implant in each Runner anonymously broadcasts her location to the screens of the Hunters.

Because the broadcast time is random and changes for each girl each day, that means Runners like me can’t just hide in one place, and we don’t know when to change location. We must move, at least a little, every couple of hours, and even then we might get unlucky, resting just when our location is out.

Once the Slavers started using trackers, almost fifty percent of captures were women on the move. They said it put the “Run” into the Rape Run.

We have to rest sometime, though. The competition wouldn’t be entertaining if women got too exhausted to resist. So there are no location broadcasts between sunset and sunrise. One of the few rules for the Hunters is that women are not to be caught at night.

(Gods, that feels good)

By keeping the tracker information anonymous it means in The Zone I won’t send out a signal “Melena is at this grid reference”, merely “a Runner is at this grid reference”. Otherwise the five Hunters would only ever target the two women they most wanted to violate, and the Run would commonly end in a draw.

That system worked for many years, and then the Hunters realized they were missing an opportunity. Viewing men across the galaxy would pay to see their favorite women lose. Sponsorship and the “Most want to see” category were born. Wealthy men across the galaxy can transfer a small fortune in credits to the Slavers, and sponsor a girl not to win, but to fail.

But that meant there had to be incentives for the perverts who hands over their life savings.

The poorer guy only gets to make a contribution to our hydrating fluid that is too gross to think about. For the rich man though, it is expected that the sponsor will be permitted some use of the female, after her capture.

So ever since we were first broadcast at our kidnappings or in the holding cell, they’ve been taking advance reservations, whoring each one of us out. Even if the Slaver decides a captive is a personal favorite and wants to keep her for himself, the sponsor must still be permitted some time with her in exchange for his vast payment. What’s more, if the slave is discarded after the end of the Rape Run, as is a more common fate, the sponsor will have privileges in the bidding for her. It’s a very lucrative business, selling the bodies of the most beautiful women in the galaxy.

(Oh! Oh! I moan out loud. I nearly came there, barely managing to keep my body under control. Help me, I can’t take much more of this. Think only about explaining, Melena.)

After so much money has changed hands, the Slavers as well as the sponsors don’t want the most desired girls to survive. So each high value sponsorship is linked to a handicap system. That’s why I desperately don’t want to score highly in the “most want to see lose” category. A high ranking will mean I’ve got sponsors, and each time a Runner is sponsored her location is broadcast an extra time during the day. That’s right. I could be sponsored up to twelve times, and my anonymized location would be broadcast every hour during the daylight hours of the Rape Run. This means it is often possible for Hunters to guess who is who by the frequency of the tracker broadcasts, especially when there are only a few Runners remaining.

Sponsorship will make the biggest difference in whether I have a chance of winning or not. Really it’s vital I know my ranking, but here in the auditorium, only ten percent of my mind cares about the scores and all those problems of sponsors. Ninety percent of my awareness is fighting the unbearable pleasure between my legs that is making my whole body tingle.

I can’t even win against myself. A tidal wave is building within me, and I only hope I can last out the interview and let the orgasm claim me once I’m out of sight of the audience.

Wagner can see I’m not going to answer on how much I think the galaxy’s men want to see me lose, so he deals his killer blow.

“You’re ranked number one, Colonel de Santo,” he says coldly. “They want to see your frigid little pussy fucked more than anyone else in the Rape Run. There’s had to be auctions, so many men wanted to sponsor you. What do you think of that, Melena?”

“No!” I plead, and trying to cover my moaning reaction being a response to the news and not the vibrator I add, “It can’t be true.”

It hurts me worse than a physical blow. Men out there, who will be watching me right now, live, have paid to increase my chances of losing. Men out there are already paying to get their repulsive groping hands on me once I’ve been caught. There are reservations from strangers waiting to have sex with me. All my worst fears have come true. The Republic aren’t trying to help me. I’m completely abandoned here on this hellish world.

I strain again to free my wrists. Sweat from my exertions is starting to gleam on my skin. God, this stimulation is unbearable. And it’s all for nothing. I’m going to lose.

You have to go back about fifteen seasons of the Rape Run to find a year when the most-want-to-see female was the survivor. Oh no!

Tears bead in the corners of my eyes, and I blink them back, trying to steel my nerve. I’m lost, but for the women of the universe I have to show them I can’t be broken.

“It is true,” Wagner smiles. “Let’s see some example messages for you from across the galaxy.”

I moan again with arousal as a viewscreen above us on the auditorium wall flickers to life. Two middle aged men, both looking sleazy are being interviewed. Boiler suits mark them as in some form of manual trade. Behind them are the steaming pipes of some industrial complex.

“She looks like such a snooty bitch,” the one on the left sneers. “I’d so like to see her brought down a peg. Fuck her hard, Hunters!”

The next clip is of a man in a business suit. He is being interviewed on the streets of a mega city somewhere. A backdrop of skyscrapers is behind him, with arcing bridges and crisscrossing lines of flying vehicles. He is of a different social class, but has the same hateful attitude.

“Melena de Santo isn’t the hottest of the Runners unless you drop your gaze to look at the twins she carries,” he ponders, “but boy her attitude makes up for it. What I wouldn’t give to have her on her knees in front of me, sucking my dick.”

The next young man is actually in Republic fleet uniform. How can my own side have betrayed me? I think I recognize him, someone in a parallel unit. He has the insignia of a commander, someone subordinate to me.

“We used to call her Colonel Bigtits,” he confides to the interviewer. “I think she’s got the best rack of this year’s Runners, and certainly the best pair in the fleet. Have you ever seen a set of hooters that perfect on so slim a girl?”

Perhaps on cue but perhaps just terrible luck, the stimulator between my legs intensifies its power at that point, and on being described as “Colonel Bigtits” I am overwhelmed and give a sexual groan of uncontrollable arousal.

The muscles in my stomach are beginning to pulse now. I can’t keep still. They’ll be able to admire how toned I am, driving more imaginations to cruelty.

On the screen man after man condemns me. I am frigid. I am a lesbian. I am selfishly wasting my body, by not letting men enjoy me. Apparently I treat men as if I am superior to them, so I deserve to be humiliated. I am a cock tease. And always is the same emphasis only on the physical – they want to see my breasts; they want to see my breasts; they want to see my breasts.

“No!” I cry out again as the video flickers to a close, but this time for a different reason. I only shifted my hips by the tiniest amount, but somehow it moved the endlessly vibrating stimulator and the protruding nub within my shorts into the worse possible place.

My pleasure, my flaming arousal reaches a new peak, and this time I’m not going to be strong enough to hold it back. In horror I’m staring at my defeat.

“Is something the matter Melena?” Wagner asks me knowingly, but it’s too late. I can’t even vocalize a coherent response.

I cry out as the orgasm begins to explode out from between my legs and I arch my back. Then every muscle in my body goes as rigid as if I’m being electrocuted. Heat scorches every inch of me. I’m light headed. I’ve never experienced anything like this, even in that beautiful moment with Leesha. Please God no, that I have to have the orgasm of my lifetime in front of an audience of trillions.

But we’re not done. Behind the first orgasm my body goes into a second. There is no chance of trying to disguise what’s happening. My responses are completely out of my control.

I manage to look down. It feels like I’m soaking between my legs, but all that shows is the glowing red cup that covers my crotch has turned green. I understand the purpose of the light.

An orgasm detector.

Not that they need it, I think ruefully. There was no disguising what just happened there.

The vibration abruptly stops and my head clears. I realize I’m out of breath, and I’m gasping noisily. I don’t trust myself to say anything in front of the audience, but it doesn’t matter. Apparently there’s nothing more to say.

“Take this cunt away,” Wagner orders, sounding almost bored. Is that it? The show is over now I’ve cum in front of the watching universe. There was nothing I could do to prevent the orgasm, but Wagner’s tone is cold with me. He wants me to feel like it was my fault.

While I continue to gasp the escort of guards re-enter, and I am quickly released from my restraints, except for the yoke that is left about my neck. When they lift me by my yoked upper arms I discover my legs are shaking too much to stand.

I have to be dragged from the hall, my feet trailing behind me. I feel exhausted. My knees are still spread. The cup glows green between my legs.

The crowd begins to chant, a vast deep sound that escorts me out.

“Run! Run! Run! Run!”

Don’t think about it, I tell myself. The worst part of the ordeal might be over. If you’re the survivor, the interview is the last thing you’ll have to go through, and things will improve now. Put the public humiliation you just endured from your mind.

I wearily lift my head to see where they’re taking me. In order to take me to my start point for the Rape Run, they will have to load me on a shuttle. Eventually I will have to be released from my yoke. My best and only opportunity to escape this planet will be during transit to The Zone, so I try to summon what resistance is left in me.

We proceed further and further away from the air-conditioned auditorium and through the baking hot stone corridors of the fort.

But with a prisoner who is one of the world’s most valuable women, the guards aren’t taking chances. Something like a gun is pressed to the side of my neck, by the guard on my right hand side.

“Night night, cunt!” he says to me, “happy Rape Run!” and then he clicks the trigger…



12 - Alone

Hot. I’m frying. The sun is unbearable. I’m baking alive.

I gradually awaken in the desert, so groggy that I don’t even immediately think that I’m about to be a Rape Runner, and I’m under threat. There’s just the heat, and my craving for water.

I open my eyes.

I’m lying on the arid open ground of Aghara-Penthay, in a patch of the red sand. The sun is almost directly overhead. Groaning I push my head and shoulders away from the floor. Some of the coarse grains are stuck to my cheek, and I wipe them away.

I look around me.

I’m alone.

I’m just where I expected. The Zone. The Rape Run takes place in the same location every year. A vast bowl in the landscape, formed by the impact of some meteor millennia ago. The Zone was the site for an earlier settlement by the Slavers, but it was long-ago abandoned for the sole use of the Rape Run.

I’ve seen it on the screen many times, but it feels different to actually be here. Everything shimmers with heat haze. About two miles away is what looks like a lake, but I know is a mirage. In another direction a dust devil spirals its meandering path, throwing up clouds of sand.

Ruined buildings are scattered across much of the huge depression, creating ample cover for both Runners and Hunters, and the rocky peaks around the crater rim form a natural boundary beyond which the Runners are forbidden to advance. One of the peaks around the edge of the bowl is obviously higher than the others. That is good. There will be no ambiguity about where to meet Leesha.

I push myself more upright on my weak arms, trying to gather my wits and form plans. The peak. I must get to the peak without getting caught.

Unfortunately I can see already that my destination is right on the far side of the crater from my current location. I’ll either have to trek through the dangerous ruins in the center of The Zone, full of ambush places for concealing Hunters as well as Runners, or skirt round the outside where I’m less likely to meet a hunting party but there is also reduced cover.

Hunters begin each year in the central ruins, and usually make their bases there. Typically Runners begin the contest in locations spread widely across this bowl. So I am unlikely to meet another female for a couple of hours, and must assume any signs of humanity will be Hunters making straight for my tracker signal.

Reflexively I rub my unbound hands. The yoke restraining me was removed while I was unconscious, and the humiliating glowing cup is gone as well. But I can see a faint bruising on my bare wrists – evidence of the ferocity of my struggles as I was forced to orgasm.

I get to my feet, to find my leg muscles also ache from my earlier exertions. Damn them all. Reserves of stamina are vital in the Rape Run. Being sore I’m already at a disadvantage.

I look around, taking stock carefully.

I’m not expecting any immediate threat – it will take time for Hunters to fan this far out. And that’s why it’s such a shock when before I’ve even come to my senses something happens. The deafening noise is so sudden I almost jump out of my skin, my heartrate instantly doubling.

It blares out so loud and from so close it could be next to me, but it also seems to come from the sky and echo off the rocky mountain sides around me. Not a Hunter, then.

While my heart slows from the scare, I look up to see a vast screen, holographically projected into the very air, depicting a scene in full color, high definition.

The smiling cruel face of Wagner, still with his black suit on, is looking down into the bowl.

“Cunts…” he says, “welcome to the Rape Run. I’m glad to see you’re all awake, and the contest is ready to begin.”

“I’m here to remind you of a few rules, and of some facts that will help you survive. We don’t want any of you to meet your end before you’re fucked raw, do we now?”

There is a pause, which is probably to allow an unseen audience to laugh at such sparkling humor. I make a point of looking bored. I know most of the regulations already, having watched earlier broadcasts with horror.

“Runners will be filmed the entire time, as you have been since your capture, although the nanotech cameras recording you will be too small to see and will not disturb you or give away your location,” Wagner begins.

I fake a yawn.

“Runners can use the monitoring cameras for requesting essential supplies. If you’re dehydrating from the sun and the heat, just whisper ‘water’ and fluid suitable for a cunt will be dispatched for you. Ask for ‘food’ and that will be supplied. There are also natural food sources and water holes on the plain that can be foraged.”

“Runners will not get sunburnt in The Zone, as the star’s emission spectrum is low in UV. However heatstroke and dehydration are problems. It is mandatory for Runners to drink at least every two hours, so you remain hydrated. Failure to do so will result in your disqualification, and your location being provided to Hunters.”

This is not new to me either. There’s only two water holes in the entire Zone. Both of them are a magnet for Hunters and riddled with traps. Any woman who has ever seen the Rape Run knows it’s safer to rely on the hydration canisters, even if it does mean the viewers’ seeing us drink the contaminated filth.

And I’ve always known I’d be monitored. As the “most like to see raped” Runner, coverage of me will be broadcast for much of the time. Well, if they’re watching, I’ll show them. I wave my hand, dismissing Wagner with contempt. He probably can’t see me though.

“The Hunters are not the only threat to females on the plain,” he continues, unruffled. “If your life is in danger from the indigenous wildlife or any other risk, shout ‘flare’ and a distress flare will give away your location so the nearest Hunter can show you… mercy.”

(Wagner gives a snickering laugh)

“Owing to the danger of some of the nocturnal creatures, the Rape Run will pause in the evening as soon as there are no more direct sun rays shining into the bowl. The Zone is on Aghara-Penthay’s equator and we have equal twelve hour days and nights. The Rape Run will resume in the morning as soon as the first rays break over the rim. Hunters will not move in the dark, so the Runners may shelter. Runners may move if they choose, but at their own risk.”

“The only other time the Rape Run will pause is in the event of a sandstorm. Sirens will signal a pause in the event. Hunters and cunts must take cover immediately. A second siren signals resumption of the entertainment.”

“The rim of the crater marks the boundary of the playing area. Any females who cross outside the rim or attempts to leave The Zone will be immediately disqualified and their location provided to all Hunters for punishment.”

“That is all. Cunts, I wish you bad luck. Run!”

I feel a release of tension as his image and the sound vanish in an instant. Good. Fuck you, Wagner. After all the waiting, my destiny is in my hands now. I am no longer a captive. Granted I cannot leave this bowl, but I am not restrained, and not in the immediate power of men.

I peer out into the boiling haze. Far in the distance through the rippling heat, I see stick-like dark figures crossing the plain, raising a plume of dust. Hunters, already. It has begun.

They are not coming towards me, but that does not matter. The sight of them is an ominous signal that this is really happening. I must move.

I’m a participant in the Rape Run. This is the real deal. There is nothing left between me and the Slavers hunting me – no processing that needs to be completed, no ordeal of interview. I have no protection except a pair of non-existent hot-pants, a tight top and my wits. If they catch me – I will be raped while the galaxy watches. But if I’m the one woman from ten who is last caught – I will be permitted to walk free, my implant inactive, and with no-worse scarring than the traumatic memories and the lifelong mark on my face.

Cameras will be on me. I can’t see them – they are nanoscale as Wagner said, but they will be there. Dismissively I shake my head. They are the least of my worries and must be forgotten.

I must concentrate on trying to survive while avoiding capture. Intelligence, skill and luck are the combination that wins the Rape Run. A strategy also helps. Leesha said she would meet me at the highest point, which I can see shimmering on the horizon. It was clear from Wagner’s loaded comments that something was said I don’t know about, but I want to trust her. I’ll try for the peak anyway. It’s a good target even if I don’t find my ally. The area around it is very uneven with plenty of outcrops and boulders to provide cover, and I can also see caves. All I have to do is survive the journey without capture.

After taking a deep breath, I begin to run across the stony ground.

Melena de Santo is a Rape Runner.

The galaxy will enjoy seeing me jogging. I’ve been forced to see enough other clips of the Rape Run that I know they’ll be filming me from behind, enjoying the way my backside flexes in these hot pants. But I don’t care how I look because at last my fortunes are back in my own hands and oh it feels good to be outside.

I’d been hoping to put my status as a woman aside in the effort for survival, but even in the familiar focus brought by intense exercise it turns out I am not to be allowed to forget my sexuality. As soon as I stride out it’s there – a gentle teasing touch at my clitoris. The contoured part inside my shorts that conforms to my sex must still be there. If I walk the friction of it will be unnoticeable. Every time I run, I’m going to have to deal with the distraction of being aroused.

I Run. Better to be horny than be caught.

Soon I grow even hotter under the baking sun and I start to sweat, although the air is so dry it evaporates from me immediately. I reach my first bit of cover – a dried river bed, forming a small canyon, and drop down within, using its concealment to move almost in the direction of my distant target. Only intermittently do I risk a peek above the sloped sides, checking for threats.

The glare is so intense that I have to keep my eyes half closed, and in the baking heat I’m already I’m beginning to feel faint. The sun beats back at me off the canyon walls as well as cooking me from overhead. I’m going to be in danger from the warmth soon. I’ll have to hydrate, and maybe also find somewhere in the shade to wait out a couple of hours.

But then I recall that I am the female they most want to see caught. Even remaining a short time in the same place is particularly dangerous for me.

I decide I must at least call out for fluids, even if it is a shameful thing to do, and then take things from there.

Without even raising my voice I ask, “Water!” to the seemingly empty desert, and I wait.

In an early year of the Rape Run, over two centuries ago and before hydration was provided, a solar flare from the nearby star Aghara-One caused a heatwave even worse than the standard temperature for this world. Two Runners died from dehydration rather than risking approaching the water holes where they might be caught. Drinking was made mandatory, but for the next three years when all the Runners were forced to converge on the two oases in the desert, they were too easily captured. The Run was over within half a day and it was considered unsatisfactory entertainment.

Every year since then hydrating drinks have been given to the Runners. But the assistance comes at a price.

I don’t even see a drone pass overhead, such is the Slaver technology, but it must have gone by. Within less than a minute a small parachute comes down, just large enough to float a steel container the size of a milk carton.

I open it, and sniff, detecting a slightly salted scent.

It is as I feared – sperm.

Feeding the women semen is as much of a tradition in the Rape Run as the interview with Wagner. I knew from the moment I was captured I’d end up drinking someone’s cum before this was over.

For those less affluent men across the galaxy who cannot afford enough sponsorship to pay for sex with me, but still crave some personal connection, this cheaper option is available. They can provide some of their semen, and it will be mixed into the water supplied to keep me hydrated. So a man might not be able to afford having me blow him, but I will end up swallowing his vile seed all the same.

This is all the hydration that will be on offer from the Slavers during the Rape Run. Unless I visit one of those risky natural water sources I’ll have to force one of these canisters back every two hours.

And I must drink. It didn’t need Wagner to remind me of the rules. Women who refuse to hydrate as a means to getting themselves killed before they can be raped, are betrayed by the watching camera crews to the Hunters.

So I raise the bottle to my lips and allow myself one last hesitation. Then, grimacing, I start to drink.

My stomach turns the moment liquid makes contact with me, and I can barely avoid retching. I’m trying to cope by swallowing before I have to taste it, but the fluid is slightly viscous and clings to the back of my throat.

Unless something more interesting is happening in The Zone than me drinking sperm, this will be being shown live, right now, across the galaxy. Even if I’m not being broadcast now it will be saved for later screening. Whichever - when the footage of this goes out across the universe, a list of names will scroll down the screen – the men I owe for this gift. How smug they must feel to have bested me, seeing as everyone seems to hate me so much. The proud Colonel is drinking strangers’ semen.

Grimacing I gulp back the whole lot – a pint of disgusting sperm churning in my stomach. And that won’t last me for long. Every two hours, Wagner said.

The empty container I discard. Littering won’t give away my location - it will be quickly collected and auctioned off as Rape Run memorabilia. There is no point burdening myself and carrying it the whole time, just to prevent someone else owning it. Keeping the silk parachute is tempting – I might be able to collect them and make them into some form of clothing. But that too I decide to cast aside. I’m in this year’s uniform, and there are plenty of ways of punishing me if I don’t play along.

Ready for more activity, I resume moving along the gully. It is unnaturally quiet here on the surface, with not the least sound apart from the desert breeze. The silence makes me nervous. Every stone I send clattering sounds dangerously noisy.

The hiding place offered by the dried-up creek peters out where the ground flattens, but I’m close to a cluster of buildings. After checking there’s no sign of life I break cover and move to the open entrance of the nearest one.

It looks like the remains of a large warehouse, or perhaps even a factory. Discarded and broken ironworks lie around, there original purpose impossible to guess. What’s here must be of great antiquity judging by the rust – it takes a long time for something to turn brown in such a dry place.

A piece of pipe, with length and diameter almost like a sword, would make a useful weapon. I pick it up.

I don’t intend to use this to resist the Hunters. That would be foolish. Besides, my implant would prevent me harming men anyway. But fights between females are common in the Rape Run. Some women’s Rape Run strategy is to find and disable their rivals, rather than focus on evasion.

Ja-Alixxe is out here somewhere. If she can bring about my downfall, she will. Nothing personal, she’ll tell me as she sells me out. Tasha, the shrewd businesswoman and Ja-Alixxe’s ally I wouldn’t trust either. Aireela, Cara, Jasmeena, Elionara – unknown. It could go either way if we meet. Even the cellmates I felt closest to – Palonae, Oorla, and Leesha… Well we all know the odds. Only one Runner will be the survivor, and faced with a future of endless abuse even the most noble will betray their friends.

Hefting the length of pipe I pick my way into the ruin. What I see there makes me stop dead. This was no factory. Along one wall are rows of shackles, high ones for wrists and low for ankles. Today they’re so rusted I could probably shatter them with my bare hands. Once they would have been new, and inescapably held captive limbs.

Cells line another wall, their grilled doors open but still ominous. In the middle of the room is a crumbling brazier and protruding from it, still recognizable, is a branding iron. The symbol of the brand – the same slave mark I wear on my face – is irrevocably blackened. How many humans must it have touched to do that to it?

Instruments of torture hang on the walls – serrated blades; pincers; things with hooks. All are too decayed to be of use as weapons. Some of the equipment is thankfully too decrepit to identify.

I’m so preoccupied by this museum of horrors that I almost miss it. A large circular area in the dusty concrete floor ahead of me is a fractionally different shade to the rest of the room.

I pause, and tentatively touch the edge with my foot. The seemingly solid surface gives. It’s a pit, covered with a piece of tech fabric which blends, chameleon-like, with the floor around it.

I crouch down, lifting one edge, and see it is loosely tacked at the edges with hooks fitting in large eyelets. These are sufficient to hold the cloth in place but would not be enough to bear a woman’s weight.

Traps are everywhere in The Zone used for the Rape Run. Statistically, it is usual that only half the women each year are caught by the Hunters while fleeing, or cornered in a building. The others will be caught in traps where they’re held until Hunters arrive; or sometimes captured by rival women and left bound and helpless waiting for collection; or even harmed by the indigenous life and forced to call for help. Occasionally the fear becomes too much for a woman, and she simply gives up, calling for a flare.

As well as pits like the one in front of me there are net traps, pools of quicksand, sticky areas that look like normal ground but trap the woman’s feet in a fast setting gel, and a device like a gin-trap, trapping an ankle but without the cutting teeth that would mangle a valuable limb.

The Hunters have also nurtured the dangerous desert plants which inhabit The Zone. Out there lurk things with moving tendrils that trap anyone getting too close, and a huge camouflaged monster that closes on you when you accidently step on its giant mouth. There are also benign plants and some of the vegetation even has tempting food, but unless a Runner is expert at identifying the hazardous lifeforms it is best to keep clear of anything green.

I flip the fabric further back and look down into the pit. It’s about eight feet deep and six feet wide. The walls are of rough cut rock, but not so roughly cut that anyone unlucky enough to fall would find footholds to escape. The pit is too deep for a captive to jump and grab hold of the lip.

No matter. I avoided it, that’s all that’s important. Once you have your eye in, it’s not even very well hidden.

If the Hunters have a weakness which increases a woman’s chance in the Rape Run, it is their overconfidence in the realm where they are so dominant. And it is that overconfidence that in the next moment, saves me.

I hear a male voice – loud and exuberant, close by enough to make me start. Perhaps a young man excited to be in his first year accompanying a Hunter.

The sound comes from just outside the building and there is no time to think. With a soldier’s instinctive reactions I fall to the ground at the edge of the pit. Threading my fingers into one of the eyelets I swing my body over the edge, until I’m hanging down into the hole by my fingers. The elastic sheet is folded back to let me enter, so I have to risk releasing one hand and painfully suspending my whole weight from the other arm, so I can throw the cover into place.

And then, dangling once again from two sets of fingers, I wait.

My front is against the rock wall, breasts squashing stone like airbags. It’s excruciatingly uncomfortable – my fingers ache after only seconds, and it feels like my shoulders are dislocating.

It’s a strain not to let go, and the exertion means I have to breathe quickly. I focus my thoughts on trying to control the noise.

There is movement above me. Hunters are in the room. I hear men, many men. Booted feet pause close to the rim of the pit.

“Someone has been here recently, Hunter,” a deferential male voice reports from only feet away. “She found the trap.”

It will be obvious from the disturbed dust that a Runner was here, but I am preying they won’t check inside the pit. A girl who was tricked and is standing at the bottom would hardly be able to replace the cover.

“Clever cunt, not to fall in,” someone replies. This person I recognize, and the voice chills my bones. Jackran-ad-aktar, the dreaded alien, has non-human vocal chords that make his voice sound like a deep husky growl.

“Well, she can’t have got far,” the alien continues. “They’ve only been Running for an hour. Spread out and search the area.”

“Hunter.” The first man replies in acknowledgement.

There is the sound of someone moving away.

I’m starting to lose feeling in my hands, so I risk trying to shift the grip of my fingers and keep the circulation going. One hand slips and I almost drop, and have to lunge for the metal hoop.

The strain makes me gasp, and that triggers terror like I’ve never felt before. Is he still there? Please, let him have gone. God help me if he heard, and I’m caught by Jackran-ad-aktar.

I hang as silently as I can, in spite of the growing pain in my arms and shoulders.

Someone is certainly moving up there in the warehouse, but not towards the pit. The rusted iron parts are being kicked around, in much the same way I was doing only minutes earlier.

The sounds seem to get further away, and then there is silence.

Has he really gone? Or is this entertainment – the alien waiting with amusement for me to emerge from my hiding place?

It feels like an eternity that I hang there. By that time my upper body is in an agony like being tortured. Only when I am sure that if I wait any longer my arms will give out and I’ll fall into the pit do I start to pull myself back up.

I barely manage, with my arms weakened from straining earlier against the yoke, as well as this afternoon’s stretching. Luckily years of working out with the Republic Fleet has maintained my stamina.

At last my upper body is over the lip of the pit, and I groan with relief. I’m out of the hole and no-one is here. I am alone.

I cannot relax, though. I am still in danger. At some point soon my implant with its sponsored heavy handicap will again broadcast its location, and Jackran-ad-aktar will know he’s almost on top of one of the Runners. If I’m the only female in this region of the Zone, they’ll deduce that the persistent signal from one woman has to be Melena de Santo. The alien will come for me.

Not him, don’t let it be him! Panic grips me. My whole being is crying out with the need to flee, but I must force myself to rest for a moment or I’m going to collapse when I’m out of cover. I lie on my back on the dusty concrete, focusing not on fear, but the relief at having the weight taken from my arms.

I manage to remain a whole minute before getting back up. Then, cautiously I edge towards the warehouse door, moving on the balls of my feet to remain silent. Glancing down at myself I see I’ve got myself filthy – my pneumatic cleavage is covered in dust. I’ve already brushed myself clean, entirely from habit, before remembering I’m only improving my appearance for the audience’s benefit.

I peek around the door frame, half expecting a jump-scare moment of seeing a Hunter waiting on the other side. But the dusty yard outside the building is deserted.

Across the glaring red inferno of the plane, about five minutes away at a run, I can see a dust cloud that could only have been raised by many male feet heading away from me. I pray it is the party of Jackran-ad-aktar and not a second hunting group. They are making no effort to conceal their location.

Two minutes later I have still not been seized by any ambush. Terror eases as I finally permit myself to believe that I have survived my first close encounter with the Hunters without being captured.

I must now put this place with its trap behind me, mentally and physically. Jackran-ad-aktar will search more thoroughly on a second visit, if there’s still a Runner’s signal coming from the same wrecked building. I would not deserve to escape a second time if I’d been so foolish.

13 - First

The hunting group moved away perpendicular to my route towards the mountains, so once my close call is over I proceed with growing confidence, creeping steadily from building to building to building.

In this manner I have continued for what I estimate to be a couple of hours. The sun has passed its peak in the sky and is beginning to descend. The temperature on the surface of Aghara-Penthay is not as oppressive as it was.

By late afternoon I am obliged to hydrate again, so I whisper for another of the semen-laden canisters. This one is even more viscous than its predecessor.

I try not to think what I’m swallowing while I drink, but the unwanted image of some gross hairy male ejaculating into the container enters my mind, unbidden, and I do properly retch - regurgitating half of the contents into a wet puddle on the sandy ground.

Drinking sperm is not the only demeaning task demanded by my human body. I need to urinate as well.

I’m sure I’m on camera the whole time of my Run, but I want the illusion of privacy anyway, so I duck into the concrete shell of a building the size of a small hut before squatting down and pulling my tightly stretched shorts down to my thighs.

They didn’t provide us with underwear to accompany our Running costumes, so my sex is immediately exposed.

I am not yet used to the absence of the neat pubic hair which protected my genitals, so even in the warm air of the desert I am conscious of the open, receptive fleshy lips of my pussy. The rubbery protrusion that constantly rubs my clit has been doing its job.

I only climaxed a few hours ago, in my interview in front of the whole galaxy, but already between my legs is the distracting tingling that has been my companion since the Slavers processed me.

I might be able to get through tonight without masturbating, but if what Leesha told me is true I’ll need to relieve myself at the latest by tomorrow evening.

For now I merely urinate, relaxing the muscle of my bladder with relief, and hearing the gentle trickle as my piss flows onto the ground.

All the while that I empty myself I cautiously keep watch, one arm propping me against the rough concrete wall so I don’t overbalance and tumble into my own mess.

But no-one disturbs me, there are no threatening noises, and without incident I pull my shorts back up. Once again my sex is hidden. Once again the bumps inside begin to tease my clit.

I stand, and continue my progress, from cover to cover across the plain.

I am doing well, already nearing the edge of the bowl where the rocky sides climb high up to the peak. The sun is getting very low in the sky now and long shadows spill across the plain, creating illusions of flickering movement.

It’s then that it happens.

The noise is so sudden I almost jump out of my skin, my heartrate instantly doubling.

So loud, and from so close it’s like she’s right next to me, comes the sound of a woman moaning in intense sexual congress. I could be beside her, but at the same time the noise coming from the sky and echoing off the rocky mountain sides around me.

My heart, slowing from the scare, knots with sympathy now. I know what this means. I look up to see a vast screen, holographically projected into the very air, depicting a scene in full color, high definition.

Tasha Castelaine, the galaxy’s most famous businesswoman, is being fucked by Cronorgan, the Slaver known as The Master. She is lying on her back on a mattress, seeming unrestrained except for a heavy steel collar around her neck fixed to the bedframe by a chain. There must be electronics of some form in there – a green light on the shining metal is illuminated. Tasha appears to be entirely compliant, looking up at her captor with what seems to be genuine desire.

“Tasha Castelaine,” booms the genial voice of Wagner, providing commentary of the footage as he always does. “What does the galaxy’s proudest businesswoman want to tell this meeting?”

They have edited the footage cruelly, for she replies, “Fuck me master – please let me suck it and then fuck me, Master,” begging to Cronorgan, in complete submission.

I soon understand the reason for her surrender, for the voice of Wagner provides a light toned explanation of the vile act.

“Tasha’s choking collar detects her muscles tensing in resistance and cuts off her air supply,” he says. “Because like all slaves her implant prevents her ending her own life, the moment the collar activates she’ll involuntarily go limp. She is literally unable to resist her rapist.”

“It doesn’t take a woman long to accept her slavery when she’s given the right persuasion. Then again, we all know that deep down, that’s what every cunt really wants.”

The display shows me a close up of Tasha’s face, seeming to be screwed up in an extreme state of sexual arousal, and then the image and the sound disappear as suddenly as they began.

Emotion makes me grow weak, and my knees almost give way.

The first of us has been caught. Poor Tasha is now a slave, probably restrained in one of the Hunter’s camps. She’ll be wishing she was dead right now. They say the first couple of days are the worst when a woman is captured in the Rape Run. After the initial claiming of her by her captor, it is traditional to had her around like a party favor and she is subject to gang rape by other Hunters, anyone in the Hunter’s support teams who wishes to try the girl, and finally sponsors who paid for the use of the slave before she goes to sale.

A study conducted by the Republic’s anti-slavery group estimated that in the first week after a woman loses in the Rape Run, she will be raped by fifty to one hundred different men – some of those using her more than once until she’s likely to have been raped up to three hundred times.

With Tasha’s capture, my odds of escaping this horror and becoming the winner have increased, but I cannot feel pleased about it. I want to weep in sympathy for the poor woman’s fate. It was so nearly mine. I would have been the first loser in the Rape Run if I hadn’t been quick enough there at the pit.

I have paused to watch the images in the sky. My danger never stops, though. I return to my present, and the urgency to move again. The sun is lower still, and Wagner was right that there are other threats on the planet’s surface than the Hunters. During the hours of darkness it is not safe to be out on the ground in the open. Sandclaws – a four legged mammal like a warm-blooded crocodile, hunt on the plains at night.

Half a mile ahead is the next cluster of ruins – perhaps a dozen buildings. The largest, in the center, has two stories. It is only a concrete shell missing any doors or glazing in the windows, but the upper level safely away from the ground would be a good location to spend the night.

Moving steadily but cautiously I reach the ruins without incident, and pick my way through rubble to the large opening in to the building. This entrance is wide enough to have been either a garage or double doors, or was perhaps built for a differently proportioned non-human species. Sand has blown in and flooded the floor to a foot depth.

Thankfully this place isn’t another chamber of horrors.

Inside there is little except the rusted frames of objects that were once furniture. The sand shows no sign of recent disturbance, but all the same I scout through the ground floor rooms cautiously, making sure that this place isn’t already occupied, before finally making my way up the eroded steps to the upper floor.

I tiptoe around and recon each of the upper rooms. Here too there is no sign of life or any recent visitors. The upper rooms have the same hollow window spaces, with the glass vanished probably centuries ago. Out of the openings there is a drop of twelve feet to the ground. A sandclaw would be unlikely to be able to jump this high, or climb up to surprise me.

The sun is below the horizon, it’s darkening rapidly and already getting difficult to see.

In the very last room on the upper floor is an unexpected bonus. A steel door is intact, but off its hinges. If I could push it into back place I could seal myself into the room. Anything trying to reach me during the night would have to break through my simple barricade, giving me enough warning that I can jump out the empty window cavity.

The door is heavier than it looks, and it makes a terrible scraping noise that must be audible for a quarter of a mile. But I manage to shift it across over the room’s opening, and I feel satisfied.

As soon as that’s done exhaustion catches up with me. It was only hours earlier I awoke from unconsciousness to find myself a Rape Runner, but since then I’ve been in a permanent state of fear, with the adrenaline spiking into terror when I so nearly got caught at the pit. My morning appearance on the stage was eventful too.

Weariness can be permitted in this temporary resting place. Alone in this shell of a room I sink down onto my haunches, with my heels pressing into my buttocks through the thin fabric of the shorts, and then I slide out my ankles and sit on the floor. My legs are extended in front of me and I’m leaning back on the rusting door. Long, red hair caresses my shoulders.

I’m too tired even to stand again, but my thoughts are racing too much to sleep.

I’m still free, I congratulate myself, but so are eight other Runners, who are also desperate to be the last woman caught – the survivor. I mustn’t get complaisant.

Only one Runner, poor Tasha is tonight beginning her future of endless rape and abuse. Tasha – I barely spoke to her, especially after she chose to partner with Ja-Alixxe, the bitch responsible for my being in this situation. The business woman seemed okay in a tough way – certainly not deserving what has happened to her.

Who will be next? It is almost certain there will be more captures tomorrow. I pray one of them isn’t me. Typically in the Rape Run, the rate of captures increases gradually during the event, as the Hunters have fewer and fewer women to run down. The longest the Run has ever lasted is a week. The shortest Run – less than a day.

In these quiet moments since my kidnap I have avoided dwelling on my chances of survival, and similarly the likelihood of my becoming one of the captives. I’d probably go mad with terror if I truly come to terms with my odds, and my probable fate. I’ve got by so far and held onto my sanity by doing, and not thinking - keeping on running; keeping resisting; and telling myself I’ll be the successful one this year. Someone has to survive. In a matter of days I’ll be the winner, rescued by the Republic fleet after the Slavers abandon me on one of the many trading stations littering the galaxy.

Will I feel proud?

On my face would be the Slaver’s mark that I’d carry for life, and I’d forever have an un-activated implant dormant in my brainstem. I’ll remain hairless on my body.

Would I be able to resume any position of responsibility in the Republic Fleet, or would it be too difficult when every man I work with would know how I look when I climax, and would have seen me making love to Leesha?

Survive first, and then consider the future. Stay calm by living in the now, I tell myself.

It’s almost pitch dark in my hiding place. The rectangular opening of the window is letting in some starlight, but there are no moons over Aghara-Penthay so I can barely see my own slender hands before me.

And it’s so quiet. The silence unsettles me. For many months there was always the background noise of a starship while I slept, and after that there was the sound of other women in the slave pens. But here in the desert there is no sound at all. It’s what they call a deathly silence. I hate it, like I hate everything on this vile planet.

14 - Second

I awake, feeling overwhelmingly defenseless and vulnerable, and I sit up with a frightened jolt. I’d not meant to fall asleep.

Panic subsiding, I take stock of my surroundings. The rectangle of sky through the window space is a little lighter but I can see it’s still an hour or two before dawn.

In theory I’m safe until the sun breaks above the rim of the bowl, but that doesn’t mean the Hunters aren’t waiting somewhere close by, ready to nab me as soon as they’re allowed. The sensible move would be to leave before the sun becomes visible. The sandclaws will have gone to their lairs just before daybreak, but the Hunters and their entourages will not be moving.

I shift the door away from the opening, taking longer this time to avoid making the least noise. From my belly there is an uncomfortable grumble and I realize I didn’t eat all day yesterday. My mouth is also dry and parched.

Quietly I call out for water, and this time I also call out for food. Sure enough the galaxy is still here with me – only seconds later two canisters float in through the open window.

I unscrew the lid of the food container first. As expected it contains an unpleasant broth. This is slave gruel – the staple food of women on Aghara-Penthay. When I was first taken captive I would vomit back every mouthful, but hunger and desperation drove me to persist and I’ve grown used to eating it over the time I’ve been here.

Everything a female needs nutritionally to survive is in here. Vitamins, carbs, proteins, and so on. There’s a mint flavor additive so our breath smells pleasing after we’ve consumed it.

But to remind us of our perpetual inferiority they lace it with other things – often human excrement and more sperm. Men don’t kiss slaves on Aghara-Penthay – partly because we women apparently don’t deserve such a gesture of tenderness, but also because they don’t want anything transferred from our lips to theirs.

For the regular slave population it is rumored that slave broth often contains other ingredients – drugs to make women compliant and docile; aphrodisiacs; drugs that mean our tongues deliver a tingling sensation when women perform oral sex; and occasionally things to make women high, or hallucinate terrible visions.

It would not make for an entertaining Rape Run if I could not perform at my best, however. This broth won’t be spiked. I gulp back the mulch in several swallows, trying not to think about what I’m ingesting.

I follow the same approach with the viscous, salty, sperm-laden water, and although the thought of drinking cum makes me retch, this time I do not vomit.

Wiping the last of the sticky liquid from my lips, and with my most urgent bodily needs met, I become aware of the secondary demands – a tingling arousal between my legs. Damn – I should have sated my desire last night. I slip a hand into the front waistband of my tight shorts, and worm my way down until my fingertips down to the intimacies of my core. Oh, touching my clitoris feels good, and my nether lips are as I’d expected – wet and receptive. My body yearns for the relief of full penetration, even though it’s abhorrent to my mind.

I consider masturbating right now, but temporarily gratification might cost me my freedom. I don’t have the time to spare, and must face a day spent while turned-on.

Preparing to leave, I creep around the upper floor of the structure, risking peering in each direction from the window spaces.

When I look out in the direction over my building’s front entrance, I see something. Immediately my spirits sink.

A few hundred yards in a single story building I can see light shining from the window. It’s an electric light, which means it’s impossible it was made by another Runner. To confirm my fears, next moment there is a movement in the building’s doorway and a man appears there, standing to look through binoculars. He is watching the ground-floor entrance to my shelter and not looking up at these windows, but I throw myself to the floor all the same. Then I scramble back against the far wall, furthest from the window, with blood pounding in my ears. Only then do I risk the briefest glace, raising my eye-line just enough to see. Bastard, he has turned his back to me, and is urinating against the wall.

It is a Hunter camp. They must have been homing in on my tracker signal and almost caught up, but paused at nightfall, following the rules. As soon as the sun breaks over the bowl they will storm my hideout. I only have until then to leave, or I will be lost.

The front entrance is being watched, and it is possible observers are also guarding the open rectangles on the ground floor. But I remember at the back of the building there are no ground floor windows. That is where a sloppy overconfident group wouldn’t post scouts, and I have my best chance of escape.

Dawn is perhaps ten minutes away. I hurry to the back of the building, and swing my leg over the window sill, straddling the concrete.

The drop of several yards is heart-stopping, but I’ve received combat training and I roll out of the fall. My landing is painful, but I am sure there is no harm done.

I cannot stop to think.

I am on my feet, running for my life for the next building. There is no sound of alarm from behind me. Hunters cannot follow, but it’s very possible they’re watching me, so I must get well beyond range of their sight.

I break for the next building and reach that without challenge. And then I’m at the next.

Five minutes later there is a red glow on the western rim of the crater, as the first morning sun shines across the bowl. The temperature, which is bearable, has already climbed by several degrees. It’s daylight, and the Rape Run is on again. From now until sunset I can be caught, and if I am caught I will be violated.

Half an hour passes.

I’m starting to believe I’ve got away a second time. The ground I’m crossing is more dangerous though - there are no more buildings and I am cutting across open terrain. The slopes climbing to the rim of this crater tower higher and higher over me. The floor begins to be littered with boulders and shattered rocks that have fallen from the cliffs over thousands if not millions of years.

I permit myself a rest, and look back over the bowl. It’s almost all in sun now, and the temperature is climbing steeply. In the far distance I can see a plume of dust – Hunters moving in some kind of vehicle. It will not be the same group that tried to trap me.

Melena de Santo has slipped through Hunters’ fingers once again, but other men are being more successful. For a second time I almost have a heart attack as the bowl is filled with the amplified scream of a woman.

I look up to see the images. Who do they have now?

And I see her.

Aireela, the blonde-haired tribeswoman, lies on her back on a small single bed – something that looks portable, like a military cot. Her long hair fans about her face, framing a delicate chin and high cheekbones. Her arms extend out to her sides and then bend back at the elbows, to disappear underneath the mattress. It looks like an uncomfortable distortion of her limbs, but she does not shift position back to something more natural. She must have her wrists shackled together by some means, under the camp bed. Aireela is a strong woman – athletically built and muscular, but still unfortunately feminine. They have already stripped her, and on her back the flesh of her large breasts spills either side of her ribcage. The rounded curve of her female pubic bone betrays her sex.

She is weeping, and pleading, “No, No!” to someone.

Our view of her is blocked by a gigantic, muscular, male back. The skin has a slight pale blue caste. Jackran-ad-aktar, the so called alien, is climbing onto the cot. He is already hard. His phallus is colossal, and silently I plead to the screen, please don’t do it – you’ll tear her apart.

Aireela struggles. I see her knees kicking as she tries to prevent him getting between her thighs, but he’s stronger than her and with her arms restrained she’s fighting a lost battle. He holds the tip of himself against her to let her anticipate what is about to happen.

She emits a scream when he enters her and it is a terrible sound, as if he’s piercing her with a blade.

The pain of penetration from such a monstrosity must be agony, for Aireela faints after only three or four thrusts from him, and after that she is so limp he might as well be raping a corpse. Around her vulva are smeared streaks of blood.

They say a woman is so stretched and torn by being raped by Jackran-ad-aktar, that unless she is healed she can never feel another man afterwards. If any of this is true, perhaps it is a mercy to Aireela that further abuse she’ll inevitably suffer over the next few days will be less of an ordeal.

With Aireela lolling unconscious and her breasts shaking in rhythm with the ferocity of Jackran-ad-aktar’s thrusts, Wagner gives his opinion.

“Not the dominant sex on this planet, are you, cunt?”

Then the image cuts and the hot desert is once again silent.

“Water, please,” I beg quietly, and I compose my shattered feelings while the canister of sperm drifts down to me on its small parachute.

I would rather die than be speared by Jackran-ad-aktar, I truly would, so I do not take any pleasure that there are only seven rivals left between myself and the end of this nightmare. I can only feel pity for Aireela, and feel the stomach turning dread that any woman might feel at the prospect of themselves enduring the same fate.

That is why the Slavers must be defeated by the Republic. No woman can feel safe when they can capture us with impunity and debase us like this.

I hate them, I hate them.

15 - Net

Not much later into my morning I reach where the steep edge of the bowl starts to slope upwards. The peak, where I’d agreed to rendezvous with Leesha, looks much higher from down at its base. It will take me a fair part of the day to get up there.

What’s more, it won’t be a very direct climb, as I can’t scale the side of the slopes in a straight line. From close up, this area isn’t a steady, even, slope of scree, but is rumpled with jagged rock after jagged rock; drifts of soft sand deep enough to drown in; and vertical cliffs meaning that the only way up is through a series of gradually ascending canyons.

However there is an infinite amount of cover here, which is good news in that I have plenty of places to hide and I can cautiously progress from rock formation to rock formation, but is also dangerous as once in the canyons I’ll be closed in, and more vulnerable to ambush. There is cover for them as well as me, and I can’t have eyes everywhere. Hunters could be waiting only yards from me, and I wouldn’t know it.

It’s been suspiciously quiet since Aireela’s capture. There’s been no trace of anyone following me and I’ve only seen one trap – a sticky pool camouflaged as the stony ground of the bowl. But my back prickles and I feel uneasy, as though I’m being watched.

The Zone is oppressively hot this morning, and I’m sweating.

Trick or treat, I have no better plan than to climb away from the plain. Leesha chose a good location to wait for me. Once I have the advantage of height I will be able to see approaching Hunters from miles away.

Furthermore the cliff sides are peppered with caves of all shapes and sizes. Some of the openings I could barely squeeze through, and they’re certainly too small for a man. They will do nicely. If I survive to a second night, I will be spending it somewhere better concealed than in that building.

I begin to ascend, moving at a trot. Climbing so steeply demands I bend my knees more, pulling my contoured shorts against my clitoris and making the tingling desire between my legs more distracting, so I keep to weaving from side to side across the slopes where possible.

Between the rocky outcrops it is like a maze. This is another reason for my zigzagging backwards and forwards, concentrating on going upwards, rather than on aiming directly for the highest point. The high walls of my rat-run mean I’m in shade down in the canyons, and it’s much more comfortable than being exposed to the sun in open country.

Not long into my ascent I encounter something odd. In the side wall of the rock, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, is a hatch, and not an ancient hatchway like most of the rundown structures in the bowl. This one is clean, it looks oiled, and through its small porthole window I can see a descending concrete tunnel lit by glow light.

Why would the Slavers have construction out here? I suppose that they must need some kind of service tunnels to move their cameras and supplies around the zone, but this spot seems very remote.

The hatch looks strong enough that it would need a bulldozer to force it, and only a combination keypad permits entry. I shake the handle once or twice in futility, and even try bashing the keypad with my steel pipe, but I inflict no damage. I continue on my way.

After perhaps another half-hour my path through a canyon between two walls of rock abruptly breaks out onto a ledge. The cliff is ascends vertically on my right hand side and a terrifying drop falls away to my left. Though not sheer, it is a steep thousand feet down to the flat floor of the bowl.

I look up towards my destination, and see the peak lies at least two miles away along the side of the bowl. I’ve been ascending, but my zigzagging has moved me away from the peak at the same time, not towards it.

No matter – exercise helps me discharge the adrenaline-fuelled tension that constant fear pumps through my body.

It is late morning. The sun is high in the sky now, and in the places without shade it is blistering hot. The heat haze makes my view over the scattered ruins in the crater distort and shimmer.

“Water”, I call out, and within seconds one of the canisters is descending towards me. It might feel like I’m alone, but I’m not alone.

While I’m gulping back the think sperm I see something, perhaps only half a mile away out in the bowl – not far from me at all. A piercing bright white light is descending towards one of the buildings. It’s a magnesium flare.

I freeze when I understand what this means. Oh God, some poor soul of a Runner is in trouble. She’s called for a flare.

I move right to edge of the precipice, leaning out as if I might be able to see the unlucky woman. As with my earlier rivals lost to the Rape Run I feel only sympathy for this unknown female. What could be happening to her that’s so terrible she’d rather submit to capture and a lifetime of slavery than endure it?

Now a plume of dust is visible. A vehicle moves at speed towards that same building. If this is a trick, luring Hunters to her location, she has only seconds to spare.

That’s that then. I shouldn’t stay and watch any longer. It’s far too far away for me to make out anyone in the vehicle, and it’s dangerous for me to be standing right here in the open where I’m visible for miles. The mystery captive’s distress flare is bringing a Hunter pack close to my location, and I’ll find who she is soon enough. Her defeat and degradation will be broadcast on the screen for us all.

After hiding my empty hydration canister in a heap of sand I resume my progress trotting quietly along the ledge, and soon I’m lost once more into the warren of canyons.

Usually in the Rape Run it takes a couple of hours before a fresh captive has been violated enough that the Slavers have their footage to broadcast. I’m not expecting to hear from magnesium-flare for a while, so I’m taken by surprise when I hear a woman’s moaning very close by.

But after only a moment, I know this is something different. Her groaning isn’t right in my ear and also in the sky, the way it is when a conquest is shown. It is coming from round the next corner in the path. The screen hasn’t appeared either. What’s more – it’s not a sexual groan, or the groan of a woman in terror or being tortured.

This is the sound of someone injured, or trapped.

My first instinct is to flee any encounter with her, and I have half turned to begin running the opposite way, back down the path. Hunters might be there, only yards ahead where I was about to walk. They have someone – live bait in an ambush.

But no, says my inner logic, taking over. The odds that another Runner would come across this suffering female must be too unlikely to use her as a lure – they might have waited for days. Besides, I’m already close enough they could spring their trap and yet nothing has happened.

I should run for my life anyway. Whatever waits around that corner, it can’t be good for me. Being near another Rape Runner only reduces the spread of targets for Hunters to find. Two of us here close together trapped in the warren of paths on these slopes makes for an attractive destination.

But what if it’s Leesha? She might have suffered some accident because she was trying to find me, or wait for me.

This train of reasoning leads me to the decision that it’s no good - I have to see. I have no other option anyway, other than to backtrack a very long way down the slope, and out on that exposed ledge, which will put me in similar danger. With my heart pounding I step round the bend in the path, gambling that I have the element of surprise and preparing to make a break if I need to.

What I see is that the path narrows to a few feet wide – a corridor between two high walls that cast the route into shade. Hanging up over the path, ten feet up, is a bundled net. It was a trap, probably concealed in the sandy ground until someone steps on a trigger right in the middle.

The trap has triggered, for struggling desperately from within the net is the blonde actress, Oorla.

The sensible thing to do in every way is to leave her here. Her capture increases my chances by further reducing the number of opponents. I don’t know how long she’s been here, and that means Hunters might arrive at any moment, homing in on the trace of her, a Runner, remaining stationary.

I should leave her here, fleeing underneath her and continuing up to the rim of the crater.

But she’s seen me, and Oorla freezes her struggles.

“Melena!” she calls miserably, and then begs, “help me, please!”

Still my rational mind screams to me to just leave her, and run for my life. But my conscience knots with sympathy. She’s a woman, a poor, unlucky, frightened woman. Just like me. And I’ve tried to protect women all my life. It will be another victory for the Slavers if I start to betray my own sex.

I decide. I’m going to let her go.

“Don’t panic. I’ll look for a release mechanism,” I call up. I search around the neighboring crags and boulders and finding it doesn’t take long. It’s hidden in a cleft in the rock, almost within touching distance of the victim in the net. A lever, holding a saw-tooth cog in place. Pull the lever back and it will freewheel, dumping the net on the ground.

“Sorry – this might hurt,” I tell Oorla, and with both hands I pull the handle back.

There is a whirr as the trap mechanism is released and the celebrity actress is dumped to the ground, landing on her side with a heavy thump and a cloud of red dust.

I pad over to her and crouch down. While I’m at a distance all she does is half raises herself, showing me she’s uninjured, but when I get near she grabs me and clings to me like a child to its mother.

“Melena, Melena,” she moans, on the verge of tears. “I thought I was lost.”

She’s endured a terrifying ordeal and I want to comfort her, but feeling our two sets of bountiful breasts press together through the thin fabric of our tops reminds me I am female, she is female. We are in danger.

“How long were you in there?” I ask urgently. “Hunters will be coming.”

Oorla sniffs.

“Thirty minutes, maybe?”

Thirty minutes? Sweet mercy, they could be right upon us.

“I’m sorry Oorla, but we need to move. Now! Hunters will be coming.”

Oorla gets obediently to her feet, and brushes some of the iron-oxide dust from her navy-blue outfit. From close-to I’m reminded she’s probably the shortest of us all - the women with model figures, like Cara or Jasmeena having a good eight inches advantage. Oorla’s breasts are exceptionally full though and her hips are wide, giving her walk a feminine sway.

I seize the blonde’s wrist and start trotting up the path, pulling her along behind me like a mother whose child is late for school. She doesn’t resist. Oorla knows the risks as much as I do.

We continue rapidly upwards for ten minutes. I keep us moving at speed until we’ve passed at least five possible forks in the route which pursuers will have to search, before I consider stopping. I am breathing heavily by this time and a sheen of sweat coats my exposed skin. Oorla is also gasping for breath.

“Please,” she gasps. “I gotta rest.”

But before we have chance I become aware I can hear a noise over our mutual panting. It’s the high pitched whine of an engine, and it’s getting louder. Something is coming this way.

“Hide!” I cry, not disguising the fear in my voice. “We must hide, now!”

We’re lucky we’re not in the open, but in these honeycomb rocks. One of the myriad openings in the cliffs is close by at the base of a rock face. Without hesitation I make straight for it, crouching and then going down onto my belly. The crevice is low down and the size of a dresser drawer, barely enough to wriggle into on my belly. There’s a risk one of the indigenous creatures will be lurking inside, but we have seconds at the most, and can’t wait. I’m already flat on my stomach inching into the hole. It widens out within and descends, going back about six feet to leave a space smaller than a single bunk bed.

Inside the rock is rough, and I scratch my thighs on the jagged chips of red stone. But once I’m in as far as my knees it’s easier to move and I quickly turn round.

Oorla already has her head in the opening, following as closely as she can. I grab her wrists with both my hands and pull her bodily within the chamber. With two of us in here the space is very cramped, and with barely room to move we have to scuffle around each other like a game of Twister. By the time we’ve maneuvered into position with both of us lying down, heads towards the opening, I’m out of breath.

There’s no other exit from our hiding place. If someone looks into the hole we’re doomed, trapped within. But the entrance is low down against the floor of the path. A Hunter would have to crouch right down to see inside. This will do.

The volume of the engine noise gets louder, louder, very loud, and a hoverboard with a man’s booted feet passes by, going up the path. He gets so close I could reach out and touched him. He’s gone, but tight behind him is a second board, also close enough to touch. Then that passes too, and the noise begins to fade. I force a smile, taunting the cameras that are no doubt watching me. Melena escapes capture a third time, and saves Oorla in the process. I have made the Hunters look incompetent yet again.

16 - Third

Only when the threat of immediate capture subsides do I realize Oorla and I are clinging to each other as intimately as lovers, offering what mutual reassurance we could through these moments of greatest threat. Her arms wrap round my neck. Mine encircle her back, and our thighs are intertwined.

Her face is inches from mine. We’d only have to extend our necks to kiss. Oorla has wide blue eyes and a pouting mouth, which coupled with her curvaceous body gives her the natural raw sensuality that shot her to stardom. Her skin is smooth as milk.

Against my chest I can feel her breathing quicken – a sudden flare of electricity between us. I remember that Oorla was paraded wearing the blue scarf of a lesbian and feel compelled to say something that breaks this tension.

“I’ve never been so close to a movie star before,” I whisper, but realize that sounds so much like a come-on I blush at my own social clumsiness.

Oorla smiles ruefully.

“I’d sign you an autograph if someone would give me a pen.”

Then her expression turns melancholy.

“I’ll never get back to that life, acting and signing autographs, will I?” she says. “Half the galaxy has already seen me raped in that movie. Now it’s only a matter of time before it happens for real. They might prefer the version where I’m faking it.”

She seems already defeated, so I try to reassure her.

“You might be the survivor.”

Oorla shakes her head.

“It will be one of the Runners with survival training. Like you, or Ja-alixxe. Or Jasmeena – she’s at home in the desert. You saw what happened to me with the net. Something like will get me again, and you won’t be there this time.”

She hesitates, and then says more. “Do you want to know my odds of winning? I was ninth – second bottom. They think I’ve got no chance.”

It is my turn to demur.

“I came second, but I won’t survive either,” I state. “I’m the one the audience most wants to see raped. Top of that ranking. My location is broadcast more than any of the others. Those who score as high as me never win.”

Reflecting on my prospects for the future is always a mistake. The pang of despair I feel then is almost unbearable as I remember how much the rest of the galaxy wants me to fail. All those messages, my colleague calling me “Colonel Bigtits”, the man saying how much he’d like to see me on my knees sucking cock.

“People hate me,” I blurt out.

Tears well in my eyes and I blink them back, irritated at showing any weakness.

“No, you make them feel threatened, because you have spirit, and you’re very beautiful.”

While she’s saying this Oorla reaches one of her soft hands up to my brow, and strokes my dark red hair sympathetically.

“Would it help to talk about it?” she asks gently.

“What more is there to say?”

“Well… what else did they do to you, apart from the implant?”

I flush with shame, but there’s no point hiding it. The audience already know.

“Something injected into my … you know, down below,” I stammer. “It makes me get more and more aroused, until I have to touch myself.”

Oorla squeezes me tenderly against her.

“Hormone treatments for me,” she confides. “And neural stimulators in my implant, to change my brainwaves. I was bi-before – I wouldn’t have got married if I didn’t like guys too. But over time they’ll make me less and less lesbian, and I’ll become aroused only by men. I have just a few more weeks left of enjoying girls.”

She pauses, and looks directly at me.

“They’re taking my sexuality away from me, Melena.”

While she continues to soothe me by stroking my brow, I become aware of her other hand sliding down my back.

“So you saved me. Twice,” Oorla whispers in the quietest of voices. “And I know you’re not very into other women,” she continues, lowering her eyes with a blush. “But if I can reward you with any kind of physical comfort… I’ll do anything you find pleasing.”

And then, around my back her fingertips are inside the waistband of my shorts and continuing their downward path, so her palm rests at the base of my spine and her fingers are in the cleft between my buttocks.

“Please,” Oorla begs me, drawing up her knee between my thighs, “I just want to go with one more woman.”

She doesn’t need to ask any further, because when the lithe muscle of her thigh brushes against my needy, tingling sex, desire flares in me.

I press my mouth against hers hungrily, probing at her lips with my inexperienced tongue. She parts her mouth and her tongue meets mine.

Oorla’s breath is hot and warm, and she tastes of the unpleasant semen-contaminated water that’s been keeping both of us alive. But that doesn’t matter. I want her. I need this. I’m desperate to forget for another moment, and lose myself in the body of this woman while she makes me cum. For a short while the demanding stimulation of my genitals can be sated.

I realize she has my shorts down over my cheeks already, and my rump is exposed to the hot air of the desert cave. Greedily I scrabble to push the blonde’s tight pants away off her buttocks.

Oorla’s flesh is lily white, the paleness only natural blondes can have. I squeeze the muscles of her rear, kneading and splaying her cheeks with my hands, while we struggle to kick our shorts down to our ankles in the confined space. It’s not very comfortable on this stony ground, but we both are too inflamed to care.

Her hands are at my sides now, and made rough by the urgency of her desire she pulls my top up under my arms, freeing my breasts from the restraining tight fabric.

I reciprocate and we grind our chests together. My full bosom squashes into her even fuller one. Hard, sensitive nipples tease hard, sensitive nipples. Oorla is by now gasping with lust, and my breathing is heavy.

In the holding cell I had partnered with Leesha, and I remember Oorla had become intimate with Palonae. But I needn’t feel guilty. Neither of them would judge us harshly for what we are doing here, or consider us as being unfaithful. This the Rape Run. We are allowed to claim what sexual pleasure and comfort we can, for once we are made slaves all human kindness will be torn from us.

I reach between her legs and find her sex slick with arousal. Groaning with desire Oorla moans, and her fingers seek my clitoris, drawing an equally loud sound from myself as they brush into my wetness.

But overlaid with that is the noise of a third woman’s moan, and it is not Oorla’s cries or my own groans.

We freeze, desire quenched as quickly as if they’d thrown cold water over us.

The cave illuminates with light as horrified, we disengage ourselves. How have they managed to project a screen in here? But there it is, close enough to reach up and disrupt the holography.

Palonae is on the screen. It is Palonae who sent up the flare.

The Slavers have stripped her, of course. And she seems to be restrained in some device – her limbs extend from her body unnaturally stiffly so she stands in an “X” shape, although from the close up camera work I cannot see what holds her.

The ruler of an entire planet is naked except for two steel cups the size of thimbles which cover her nipples. A third one is fixed over her clitoris, which I can see easily while she stands with her legs apart. I cannot determine how these devices are attached.

“Citizens of the planet Tonova,” Wagner’s voice genially greets the unseen audience, “I greet you and present you with your proud princess. Men of Tonova – look at your ruler’s delightful breasts. What a waste she kept these puppies hidden for so many years. Women of Tonova – what feeble sluts you are, if she is the best of you! See how weak you are in the face of pain.”

The screen cuts to an image of Palonae contorted in agony. She bucks in her frame, thrashing about her torso as if her breasts and the intimate place between her legs are on fire, and in the insanity of torture she imagines somehow she could shake herself free of the source of such suffering. How can those metal cups, so small and inconsequential looking, be capable of delivering such horrific pain?

Another shot now – Palonae’s body drenched in sweat and her ribs heaving with exhaustion, as she begs in a husky voice, “fuck me! Oh please just fuck me! Anything to avoid more of that!”

Her pleading was granted, for in the next shot my view is of the back of Salarin, pressing up against her front. He is still fully clothed but I can tell he’s raping her by the rocking movements of his hips.

And then we cut in a jumpy edit to him standing behind her, violating her anally instead of vaginally. He grips her hips with his hands and uses her pelvis to pull her back over him, and it must be unbearable for Palonae’s face is a rictus of discomfort.

To avoid watching her suffering I look at the background of the scene – anything else in the hologram, but what I see gives me another shock. Apart from being down on the flat floor of the crater instead of raised up, the perspective of the high peak behind the princess is almost the same as where we are.

I interrupt Palonae’s sexual moans to alert my companion.

“Look where they are – Salarin, he’s really near us,” I tell Oorla urgently. “This footage will have been taken some time ago. He’s probably on his way here by now.”

While I’m saying this the images of poor Palonae’s violation vanish and the cave is quiet, except for the sound of our slowing breathing.

Watching the princess suffer has crushed all desire from me, and suddenly I’m embarrassed about my nakedness, and I feel vulnerable.

I first pull down my top, hiding my breasts, and then reach down to return my shorts to their position. The clinging fabric is too tight around my pussy, reconnecting to the unsatisfied desire in my yearning clitoris.

“Tasha is gone, and then Aireela, and now Palonae,” Oorla says mournfully, seeming more defeated by the capture of the others.

I’m not going to let her give up.

“We need to move,” I say. “We’ve been in the same place for too long.”

Levering myself on my elbows I shuffle forward towards the exit from the cave. My head breaks out into the sun and reminds me how blazing hot it is out from cover. But I continue and scramble to my feet. By then sweat is already breaking out over my skin.

Oorla’s hand appears in the opening. I pull her through, as I did when we entered the cave. She squeezes her eyes closed in the bright light.

Hastily we make our way up the path. The need for intimacy has not left us entirely though, and she keeps her arm around my waist, so we walk leaning against each other.

In the furnace of Aghara-Penthay we have to hydrate. Two Runners asking for water at once. Our canisters come individually labelled, so we swap – a small act of defiance. She will drink the sperm of men who sponsored their seed to be consumed by me. Her men will watch me drink away their lust. Maybe the Slavers will have to give refunds.

“What time is it?” Oorla asks after swallowing back the fluids, wiping her lips that I was recently kissing.

“Almost noon, perhaps?”

Again we proceed quickly but cautiously. Time ticks on. The Hunters on hoverboards might still be ahead of us, preparing traps, but for a while everything seems quiet and we progress unhindered.

Ten minutes later the path broadens to a high plateau. The view over the bowl would be spectacular, if only we were here for sightseeing.

I seem close to the final ascent, onto the actual peak where Leesha said she would meet me now. It is perhaps two hours hike, at the most. I will be there by dark. The terrain is not so broken into canyons this far up. Millennia of wind and sandstorms have done their part as a leveler.

There are multiple ways either of us could go, so it is time to continue alone.

I turn to Oorla.

“You shouldn’t stay with me,” I begin. “My ranking makes me dangerous, and two of in the same place adds to the risk.”

There is a momentary look of rejection in her expression, but she sees the sense of it and nods.

“I’m going that way, towards the peak,” I tell her.

“I’ll go the other way, along the rim of the crater.”

We embrace. It is friendly but chaste, with no sign of resuming the emotion from the cave.

I had rescued her, but now is not a time to be sentimental, so I turn from Oorla and begin to trot forwards.

“Thank you, Melena!” she calls after me, but I do not look round.

17 - Fourth

Oorla was not as fit as I am, and freed from being slowed-down I push myself for the next thirty minutes, secretly eager to put some distance between us. At one point I hear the sound of a vehicle, lower down the slopes of the bowl, but it is travelling parallel to me, not coming in my direction.

I’m probably okay but it is cautious women who win the Rape Run, so I hide behind a rock and remain silent for a while, until there is no more noise but the whispering desert wind. Perhaps an hour past noon I grow weak from the baking sun, so I permit myself a rest to hydrate and to take in some slave broth. While I’m eating I reflect on my circumstances.

Three women are lost – Tasha, Aireela, and Palonae. I have six rivals. It could have been only five, but I chose to save Oorla.

Once the Rape Run reaches the stage when the numbers of women drop nearer parity with the numbers of Hunters, the pace of captures tend to increase. They choose a victim each, and concentrate on finding one female.

Sure enough, I’ve barely started moving again when there is the terrifying blare of noise, and the screen appears in the sky. I’m expecting one of the others – Jasmeena, Elionara, Ja-Alixxe, Cara, or Leesha. So my stomach jumps into my mouth when I see Oorla, Oorla who I only just left.

This is not the usual conquest footage. It doesn’t begin with her bound, ready to be raped by a Hunter. She is padding along by the edge of a cliff, one of the rock faces riddled with caves.

Oorla passes in front of one of the larger caves, looking ahead at something out of shot.

It’s so fast I barely see it.

A vast snout, reptilian, erupts from mouth the cave. Fanged jaws are already open, they close over her, Oorla is jerked from her feet and she’s gone. She doesn’t even have time to cry out but I do, my hand covering my mouth to stifle the scream.

The image of the cave remains for a moment, and then there is the voice of Wagner.

“There you have it, cunts!” he crows, victorious. “Proof that you really are better off being a slave. My, that’s gotta smart. Not even a session in the healing tank will fix that one up. What a waste of a fine pair of tits, eh?”

There is one of his pauses. Something is being narrated to the audience that I can’t see, something that they don’t want us to know here in The Zone.

Then he’s back.

“If any of you Runners would prefer the safety of a Hunter’s bed, you know what to do, cunts!” Wagner mocks. “Just shout ‘flare!’”

The screen vanishes, leaving the sound of Wagner’s voice echoing back off the rock faces.

I’m not sure what comes over me in the next moment. I think I must lose my mind for a moment, because next time I come to my senses I’m on my knees, gasping loudly, and my cheeks are wet with tears. A string of saliva runs down from my mouth, connecting me with the stony ground.

Oorla. Oorla is gone. Only minutes ago we were laughing together. We were intimate.

In a way her death was my fault. If I’d kept her with me, we would both still be alive, but we might be in the hands of the Hunters. Or have I done her a favor, rescuing her only to fill the jaws of that thing? Perhaps her sudden nothingness, extinguished before she knew what was happening, was better than the lifetime of horror awaiting the ones like me.

I get off my knees and stand, but I still feel faint.

Come on, pull yourself together, I tell myself. It’s not like this the first time I’ve witnessed those close to me dying. Fatalities are a common event in the Republic Space Fleet – a blast to the ship, and then bodies are sucked into the void and snuffed out in an instant.

But Oorla… Oorla was so vital, so alive.

I’m permitted no more time to mourn. My ears ring with the sound of yet another vehicle – something deeper and larger than the hoverboards. Run, Melena, run, I think.

Abandoning thoughts of my friend, I do run, fleeing for my life for the nearest place in the rocks where I can hide.

18 - Native

It sounds like a speeder large enough to carry several men, but I don’t get to see it. I’m cowering behind a large boulder, and I don’t dare risk peeking after the craft while it’s departing.

Close encounters with Hunter groups have been increasing in frequency. It’s possible that these are because of the reduced number of Runners in the game. It’s possible that they’ve plotted my tracker every hour, and they know what direction I’m heading. If so – the longer I continue making for the same point the greater my danger.

But meeting Leesha has been my focus since I woke up in the desert. Having a mission has kept me from despair. I decide that if I’ve not found her by tonight, I must go on my way and choose a new path.

Once I’m sure the speeder is passed, I wait another five minutes behind my rock to be extra careful, and then continue on my way.

Not long into the afternoon I reach the rim of the crater. The ascent onwards to the peak is only a short journey. From close up I can see what’s ahead isn’t a smooth incline, but is a series of climbs then plateaus, almost like giant stairs.

The whole peak is honeycombed with the same caves I’ve been seeing during the climb. There are a thousand hiding places up there. Leesha chose well.

I keep low, just down from the crater rim, and don’t stand on the ridge – my outline would be visible for miles and miles so I’d be asking to be caught. I peek over the top though, and see desert stretching to the horizon, seas of sand dunes going on and on, only breaking round the occasional columns of rock strong enough to survive the eroding storms.

Down that far side of the ridge, towards the dunes, is a part of Aghara-Penthay forbidden to me – a Rape Runner. But I can see no buildings out there to tempt me anyway, no sign of life, water, or hope. I begin to inch along the ridge, stepping horizontally just below the skyline so my shape doesn’t break the contours.

It is not far to the base of the peak, but right before the start of the final climb I find an unexpected obstacle in my way.

The ridge widens out to accommodate a small plateau, only 30 feet across. Either side of this plateau the slopes down to the floor get precipitous, dropping in near-vertical runs of rust colored scree. The only options for continuing are to skirt the short distance across the top, or take a grueling detour climbing down and back up. It’s a detour which would leave me crossing very open ground.

Safety and cover are so close ahead it feels like a trap, luring me through this narrow area. For just beyond the plateau the ground ascends again, a short climbs to the peak, with several caves watching over this flat space.

The floor of the plateau would have been level, but for a deep irregular pit in the middle. It’s about twenty five feet across and at least ten feet deep – I can’t see the bottom yet. The remaining ledge – a rim around the top of the pit, is only a few feet wide and looks precarious. The center has probably sunk in a flood hundreds of years ago, subsidence probably, but it looks almost as if something has punched the middle of this smaller bowl downwards with a giant fist.

It occurs to me that if I could get safely down inside this pit would be invisible, unless a Hunter flew right overhead. It might be a promising hiding place, especially if there are caves in there.

I inch forward to look down and see how far the drop is. Not very far - the pit is only about ten feet deep, and while the sides are vertical a competent climber could get back out.

But I recoil in disgust all the same, getting as far from the drop as I can on the ledge. What I’ve just seen occupying the pit is one of Aghara-Penthay’s unpleasant indigenous life forms.

A huge plant fills most of the twenty foot diameter recess. It is pale green and looks like a form of succulent, evolved to retain what water it can in the arid heat. Wide leaves, each larger than a rug, carpet the floor of the pit, radiating out from the plant’s center like six petals. In the middle of these large leaves the vegetation converges at a smaller disc, only six feet across. This disc looks as if it’s filled with a sticky syrup, the way a tart might hold jelly. The tendrils are the most chilling thing, reaching out unseeing to the edges of the plant’s space. There are dozens of them, thin, like vines. Already they twitch, sensing me even at this distance.

Revulsion make my skin break out into bumps. I know what plants like this do from viewing it in action, when a woman was thrown onto one like it during a Rape Run years ago.

It’s a carnivore.

Leshan was the one to blame. Yes, I remember now, tormenting a famous concern musician who didn’t yield to him quickly enough. He told her all she had to do to go free was walk across it.

She never made it.

The plant senses anything in its territory and the tendrils move as quickly as snakes, restraining the victim. Then the captive is drawn into the center where the leaves roll up, mummifying the poor soul to be slowly digested by the sticky pool. Once it has a good hold on you, escape is impossible unless you’re armed.

Death in the syrup is gradual, not like Oorla’s demise. The beautiful musician had laid there for half a day before the burning from the sticky jelly became unbearable and she begged for slavery. All the while Leshan watched her.

She was caught early in the Run, and coverage continued for a while. They had to immerse her in a healing tank for several days before she could be raped again. It was considered an anti-climax as the main Rape Run was completed before she was ready.

But that was the past. If I keep low and go cautiously, there’s no reason I can’t get past the plant. It’s probably a greater risk to choose the alternative route and skirt the exposed scree slope, so decisively I get up onto the ledge.

Moving carefully and keeping calm, at a low crouch I make it round the lip of the pit with nothing occurring. I’m fine, and no trap was sprung. I will avoid this place in future. With my back to the caves I take one last glance at the monster.

The person who runs up behind me comes so fast that they’ve struck me before I’ve understood what’s happening. A shove in the middle of my back propels me forward, and suddenly I’m in the over the pit with nothing but air underneath me.

Too surprised to be afraid, I am falling, and then I land hard on one of the green leaves. I wasn’t prepared for the drop so I jar my spine hitting the ground and there is a flare of pain, but recovering with soldier’s reflexes I manage to roll forwards, absorbing the shock without sustaining more serious damage.

Then I come to terms with where I am. I’m in the pit with the plant. Gods help me, I have seconds at most.

Adrenaline surges through me. Already back on my feet I run towards the nearest rock wall. I’m so nearly successful – I get close enough to stretch out and touch the stone before something wraps round my ankle and pulls me sharply back towards the center. I overbalance completely and slide flat onto my face.

Again I’m already moving, lifting my torso with my hands, like doing a press-up, but even as I do that I start slipping back towards the horror in the middle of the pit. Fear spikes in me. Please, no! Not like this!

It’s got my foot! I have to unwind the tendril on my ankle. Trying not to descend into panic, I turn towards the center and bend my body, to reach down to my ankle.

The tendril is as strong as a rope. It’s wrapped around me several times. I begin trying to rip the tip green plant away, but another frond lashes around my wrist as fast as a whip.

“No!” I moan in despair.

It has me. With the attacks coming faster and faster another tendril restrains my free ankle, and another clamps over my remaining wrist, and another encircles my right thigh so high up its almost intimate, and another wraps about my waist like a lover’s arm.

With each one I can move less and less. Soon I’m helpless, twitching like an insect in a spider’s web.

I’m lost. I’m lost. I feel lower than I ever have in my life.

Trying to distract my thoughts with anything I can think of from the horrors stretching ahead, I wonder for the first time who pushed me in. The plant has me on my back now, so I twist my head to look at the point where I fell.

Dressed in the uniform of a Rape Runner, Ja-Alixxe is on the ledge above me.

“Second time, Melena,” she calls out, looking genuinely regretful. “Sorry. I seem to be destined to ruin your life. It’s not personal.”

“Please!” I beg her, but she stands there implacably.

I’m still writhing to free myself, but each time I struggle it only seems to trigger the fronds to wind tighter about me. And then I’m in the middle of the monster, and my back is in the sticky syrup. The bare skin up my spine between my shorts and my top contacts it first. It doesn’t hurt yet – it feels no different to lying in a shallow pool of molasses, but it won’t be long.

I look back to Ja-Alixxe in a final desperate appeal. She should leave – that would be the sensible thing to do, but she still seems to want to explain herself.

“Didn’t you think that there might have been others listening, when you had your little triste with Leesha and the two of you arranged to reunite?” she calls down. “I wasn’t far from you, in the dark.”

She ponders for a moment.

“There’s an interesting choice to team up with, given you’re the supposed to be the savior of women’s rights in the galaxy. Haven’t you figured it out yet?”

Ja-Alixxe shrugs. She looks beautiful, proud standing above me. Infinitely superior to a defeated Runner.

“Well, I can’t stay here until the Hunters arrive. Goodbye for the last time, Colonel Melena de Santo.”

Without giving me time to reply she turns and disappears beyond the rim of the pit, and I am alone in this trap. Where the skin of my back isn’t protected by my clothing, it’s starting to feel like it is burning.

I have lost. Now my only choices are to wait until the pain becomes unbearable, or I can surrender myself while I still have my health and avoid at least one additional torture.

There is nothing worse I can imagine enduring than what inevitably lies ahead of me - being stripped and raped, but I don’t want to die either, or just lie here suffering needlessly until a Hunter homes on my signal anyway. They say that while there’s life, there’s hope, but it doesn’t feel like it to me, hogtied by a giant carnivorous plant.

As the leaf starts to close over me I commit myself and say the word that dooms me to be a loser in the Rape Run.

“Flare.”

19 - Camp

I growl angrily as I’m steered towards the frame by the men, fighting as hard as woman can when she has bound hands and a noose around her throat attached to a pole. They might be about to take my body, but I can show them they won’t break my spirit.

My first view from inside a Hunter camp does nothing to ease my fears. A number of such sites in the Zone are configured for the Hunters to use as bases, and enjoy their captured women. They are places of horror.

The buildings around this one are not as decayed as most of the ruins in the crater, and they form a neat ring facing into a circle. In the center of that circle are the instruments of suffering.

I’ve been unlucky since my kidnap on the cruiser, and of course, down in the carnivore pit when I sent up the flare it had to be Salarin that was the first to arrive and “save” me. The man I feared most of all was the one standing victorious over me when from my place enshrouded within the deadly leaves I heard the sound of blaster weapons, and at last the foliage fell away.

But even after the plant’s death those snaking tendrils didn’t relax their hold, and completely helpless in the vines I had to endure the indignity of needing the Hunter’s help to get free, and then needing someone to intimately clean off the corrosive syrup, before they could manhandle me back to their base.

But it is the present and future suffering I have to concern myself with, not the past, and here before me are instruments that will deliver that. I need to fear the wooden frames; the human-size St. Andrew’s cross with bracelets at its tips intended for limbs; the cage suspended above the ground; and the deep pit at the edge of the ring of buildings, covered by a grill.

In the center of the camp the Hunters have positioned three wooden frames, each large enough for a human to stand inside. Of course each has eyelets screwed into the timber suitable for attaching restraints. I am being herded across the circle by my neck like a rabid dog and towards one of these by my captors, the men of Salarin.

In the frame to the right, beside the one that is my destination, a woman is already bound. Her limbs, roped to the corners, pull her body into an ‘X’ shape, a living example of what is intended for me.

This other female is slumped in the frame as if she’s been tortured into exhaustion. I’m not sure if she’s conscious. Her hair hangs forward in front of her face, but I can tell it’s the princess, Palonae. She is still naked.

I struggle to the very end to try and avoid following her fate, but overwhelmed by their numbers, I am inevitably moved into the empty square between the wooden beams. Then the guards efficiently thread fresh ropes around my wrists, and the ends of these ropes are passed through loops in the top corners of the frame.

Released only momentarily from my former bonds, abruptly the new ropes are pulled taut, and my arms are jerked unnaturally out to the sides and up, as if I’m a dancing puppet. My hands are thus held away from my body, unable to protect me in any way, limp and useless. With them has gone any last hope for Melena de Santo.

I look out, from side to side.

My captors tie the ends of the ropes off to the frame, only feet away from me but infinitely far out of my reach. As soon as that’s done, the atmosphere in the camp changes – the men suddenly relaxed, celebratory, almost festive. They can take time having their fun now. Everyone knows there’s no chance of my escaping. I must endure, and I must obey.

So with my arms already helpless I don’t even resist as they start to loop ropes around my ankles, even though my skin is crawling with anticipation at what’s coming.

I keep my thighs squeezed together as long as I can while they attach these ropes, female instinct tensing my muscles, resisting to the last. But then there’s a sharp drag on my ankles, the male weight and physical effort that’s attempting to pull my limbs apart easily overpowering female desperate resistance to keep them closed.

Again the free ends of rope are tied off. I strain, testing their strength and there’s no give. My bonds are holding me inescapably in an ‘X’.

I feel so terribly vulnerable, but I’m determined not to show it, so I stand there defiantly in the frame, while the afternoon sun beats down on me. It will be the first of many things from which I am utterly unable to defend my torso in any way.

My legs feel so wide I must be displaying my sex obscenely, the tight shorts revealing every camel-toe contour of my intimacies and this time with nothing covered by the glowing cup.

At the apex of my legs tingles the inexorable burn of desire that has been building steadily since my orgasm at yesterday’s interview. Gods help me endure how shameful it will be when I’m naked, spread pussy flaunted like the princess in the neighboring frame, and they find out I’m wet.

Behind my calm exterior, my mind is in overload, trying to come up with anything that keeps me from breaking down into insane fear. “They’re not going to kill you Melena,” it says, “so you’re in for a very unpleasant few hours, few days, few months even, but you will survive this.”

It doesn’t seem to help.

All this time these preparations have been going on the focus of my terrors, Salarin has only watched, delegating the chore of securing me to underlings. With the mundane done my Hunter breaks off his conversation and comes towards me. I face forwards, bravely, as Salarin the sadist walks around me, surveying his prize.

“Fuck you!” I growl defiantly to him when he stops inches from my face. I know this profanity will probably be my last show of resistance. They will break me soon enough. But I have to show strength for the women of the galaxy who will be watching my torment.

Salarin smiles, looking right into my eyes as he shakes his head.

Close-up, I can see the lines of age in his face and he’s tanned, which can’t come from the star here. He’s slimly built and is barely taller than I am. The first traces of grey stubble are returning as a haze around his jaw. The man’s gaze is the most chilling thing about him. Irises so dark they’re almost black, pierce into me.

“I think it is you about to be fucked, Melena,” he demurs.

I’m expecting some further immediate retaliation, a slap across the face or something. But Salarin does nothing but circle me again, appraising my form as though I’m a new speeder he wants to buy.

When the first indignity does finally come, after several more circuits when he stops in front of me again, it is to expose me rather than strip me entirely, to extend my slow defeat as long as possible. Reaching out to my hips, he casually tugs down my tight shorts.

My widely spread thighs stop him pulling down the clinging fabric completely, but I soon see that denuding me entirely is not his current intention.

Those shorts he leaves in place at the apex of my legs, at my front giving me the last remainder of clothing to hide my sex, but round behind me it’s a different story - my buttocks are bared to everyone, the deep cleft between my toned cheeks exposed and vulnerable.

Salarin appreciatively reaches round me and squeezes my rounded muscle once, the first intimate touch between us. Involuntary I flinch, but the feeling of his dry fingers on me is already over.

I’d reacted even though it wasn’t even particularly sexual, that initial groping. That touch was no more than a quick declaration of his total rights to my body.

Much worse is to come. Next his hands travel up my sides, making me suck in my breath as fingers tickle to the lower hem of my top, just under my breasts.

“The galaxy has been waiting for a while for a look at these,” Salarin says, smiling meanly.

I know what’s coming. Just get it over with.

“Let’s all take a peek at Colonel Bigtits.”

Emotion rises in me and I have to fight the urge to cry with shame and break already, this early into my ordeal. With great effort I manage to keep myself under control, but only just, and I can’t meet his gaze in the moment when he lifts my top, hitching it high under my arms so my breasts spill free.

With the fabric of my clothing thus stretched between my armpits Salarin’s hands leave me again. If my own hands were free it would be simplicity to pull the top back down, but for now its tightness keeps it in place, a useless elasticated strip across my collarbone. Goddammit, I feel so powerless - my top is right there, so close to me, only the length of my arm away from my hands, but I can’t reach to move it myself, and until I can the fullness of my own breasts will keep me exposed.

At this moment I do not want to remember the video clips played during my interview, but recollections come anyway, reminding me how much those cruel viewers all wanted to see me in this situation. Well, the universe will be glued to their screens enjoying my next few hours.

The atmosphere around me feels thick with my own fear. Salarin seems poised like a snake about to strike. I don’t know what he’s about to do. I step nervously in my frame, but feel my bare breasts shake and quickly realize that the universe can see my flesh respond to even the least movement.

I force myself to keep still and stand proudly defiant. But I lack strength to meet his intense stare and keep my gaze down. The pert, full masses of my pale breasts fill my view. Despite the desert heat my nipples have betrayed me and grown erect, protruding out like bullets which will draw even more attention to my chest.

Helplessly I look back up to meet my Hunter’s eyes.

I’m expecting Salarin to immediately grope my breasts, as every other male in the universe seems to want to do, but this man who has total power over me doesn’t raise a hand. He nods appreciatively once, and then turns his back to me and walks away.

Bemused, I watch him go. This appears to be as far as he’s taking things for now.

I see their game. Let everyone take their time to watch me, standing here in this frame with my boobs hanging out, and let them anticipate the show. Abandoned by my chief tormentor I too can do nothing but watch the goings-on at the camp.

The men of Salarin’s retinue resume the business of supporting him - moving equipment and supplies from building to building, charging vehicles and weapons. Most males I see are of his faction, identifiable by a motif embroidered on the upper arm of their uniforms. A few men are from other clans. At one point I see a woman, who crosses from building to building carrying a jug. She is dressed in a slave wrap and marked. I do not recognize her.

These Slaver men must find the sight of my flesh on display a pleasing one, for whilst moving around completing their tasks they often stop to stare openly at me. When Salarin bared me I’d thought it was impossible to make me feel more ashamed and self-conscious, but these guys make my skin crawl. Sometimes one will reach down to his genitals and play with himself. The sight of me, a half-naked frightened woman, arouses them.

I stand there with my arms raised and my legs spread, helpless. My backside feels exposed, but it’s having my breasts bared that really humiliates me.

I know that each time I move it does nothing but shake my boobs for them, but occasionally the need to relieve my building tension by movement becomes too much and I strain my arms, shaking in the frame and trying to pull my elbows in to hide myself. Then, with logic winning once more over fear I force myself to stay still and I stand, my pink nipples pointing out invitingly into the camp.

Showing off my chest is not the only issue I have with struggling in my ropes – the least change in position of my shorts against my clitoris rubs the contoured section against me and makes the tingling between my legs worse. Each movement of my pelvis makes me hornier and hornier.

My despair deepens as arousal climbs. The last time I climaxed was live on stage so I’d meant to masturbate yesterday night and keep down the involuntary responses of my body, but in my exhaustion last night I just dozed off.

Next time I orgasm, it will probably be another one taken from me by force.

Since being chained on Ja-Alixxe’s ship I’ve known my probable fate – a nine-in-ten chance of rape – but I’ve never really faced that it’s really about to happen until now, standing in this frame with my breasts on show and my backside hanging out of my shorts. My refusal to consider failure had all been a defense mechanism, for if I’d accepted the inevitability of it back then I’d have gone insane and been unable to function. But here where it’s minutes away, the certainty crashes down on me.

Please someone stop this, I think, anguished. Can’t someone rescue me at the last moment? That’s what happens in stories and movies. I’ve always scorned those stereotyping hero films, but today I could totally believe the girl always gets with the guy at the end of the story, because frankly, right now, I’d screw the ugliest guy in the world in gratitude for being my savior. Why won’t my protector come? Please someone come. Am I really to be left here until I’m pierced by a Hunter’s cock, with the moral of my personal movie being that I and every other woman in the galaxy are weak and worthless?

Attempts are occasionally made to save Runners, but they never make it through the Slaver’s defense grid. No rescue mission came from Tonova to save Palonae. I can’t forget the image of what lies ahead for me - Palonae writhing under torture from those things, no bigger than thimbles. And now she hangs by me in reality, so limp in her frame she could be dead. Her wrists and ankles look bruised from fighting the ropes. Something foul is dried on her thighs, close to her vulva.

A large speeder roars into camp and men jump out, ten of them, laughing and talking like they’re on their way into a bar. I see several different faction badges. I’m expecting them to go into one of the buildings but they all stop, conversation dying as they stand to stare at me here displaying my breasts.

Their arrival seems to trigger something. The tension ramps even higher, for it won’t be long now. Other men begin to emerge from the buildings and gather around, slowly forming a circle with me at its center. Most of them are in the uniform I take to be Salarin’s Slaver faction. Come and watch Melena get raped, the entertainment spectacle of the year.

Twenty, then thirty, then forty, all watching me. Dead eyes rove over my body, exploring where hands will soon follow. I avoid returning eye contact with any of them.

The atmosphere under the desert sun turns uglier and uglier. My stomach feels like a lead weight in my belly. Even Palonae senses some of it from within her well of unconsciousness and she looks up at me with dark tear-reddened eyes, and shakes her head.

Oh please, oh please, oh please, no, not this.

And then Salarin reappears, head high like he’s a great statesman. I hear a murmur of expectation from the watching crowd as he strides purposefully across towards me.

“The Sadist” carries objects of cruelty in his hands – a vicious serrated bowie knife, and worse – a wand like some electronic relay baton.

He takes his place, standing before me again. Only inches separate us.

Wordlessly Salarin raises the knife so I can get a good look at it, and without ceremony slices away my elasticated top. The clinging fabric falls away abruptly, leaving my shoulders feeling strangely unconstrained.

Then Salarin takes hold of my hips in his hands, as if we’re about to dance. The razor sharp tip of the blade presses against my skin. I’m expecting the assault to progress to my shorts, cutting those away as well, but instead he leans his face down and into me and takes my right breast in his mouth, or at least as much flesh as he can envelop between his teeth.

While I look helplessly down at the top of his grey head he sucks at me, as greedily as a child. The sensation, intense, sends electric tingles through me, making the muscles of my belly flutter.

“Stop it! No! Get away from me!” I demand angrily, over the amused chortling of the crowd. Feeling obliged to educate the watching galaxy I insist “You can’t just do that without my permission.”

To my surprise he does release me, and stands before me again.

“Have it your way,” he shrugs, and moves the knife back towards my pelvis.

Inevitably I pay for my insolence by losing my shorts. He slices through the fabric at each of my hips, pulls the remnant of cloth from between my legs and I’m nude before them, before these men.

I thought have my nipples out was bad, but having my sex exposed to the open air makes me feel unbearably vulnerable. I can feel the hot desert breeze on my dampness. Sensing weakness as though he’s telepathic Salarin touches the sharp point of the knife’s tip against the folded flesh of my clitoris once. No doubt this is only to make me flinch, but I do anyway.

Once the sharp pressure is gone, we pause again.

Even though I’ve just been stripped naked I summon enough will to straighten in my frame, and I stand, lifting my breasts proudly. I must resist to the last, and show the women of the universe, that they might break me, but I shall go as a martyr.

Salarin passes the knife off to a grinning underling, who removes it and also scrabbles in the red dust for the ruined remnants of my outfit. My shredded clothing will be auctioned, probably for a huge sum. Fabric that smells of Melena de Santo.

“You have an unusually prominent clitoris, colonel,” Salarin comments conversationally, bringing me back to the present. “Is it sensitive?”

“Go to hell” is my only reply.

This time he doesn’t just walk away.

With a flash of movement his hand is between my legs, and now the probing is intimate. Stroking in a swift upwards motion he draws his fingertips between the soft pads of my nether lips, lubricated easily by my juices, and as his digits travel up and away he brushing my hood roughly.

The effect on me is involuntary and immediate. My body flares and I stiffen and gasp in my bonds. As his hand moves away my pelvis shifts to follow him.

It was the touch of just a moment, but the damage is done to my pride goes deep. I feel my face glowing with shame, hotter than the place between my legs.

“Oh, colonel,” Salarin admonishes me. “Needy, are we? Is being tied up like this turning you on?”

How dare he do this to me? How dare he?

“Go… to… hell!” I repeat, more of a shout this time, and I lunge forward as though I’m trying to attack him. It’s a foolish thing to do when I’m naked and helpless, but I have to try and retain my dignity somehow.

Tutting, Salarin moves the other instrument he’s carrying, that dreaded electronic wand, into his right hand.

“You’ll already know this is a slave goad,” he says loudly, for the benefit of the audience as well as me, and he waves it high in the air like a stage magician showing off a prop. “It was noted that you were particularly fearful of these during your processing in the center. Perhaps you have a low tolerance to pain.”

“Well, as you’ll already know my brave beautiful Colonel, wherever the goad touches skin, it stimulates the nerves that transmit pain, without causing any damage. It’s the perfect way to torture slaves. You can goad someone into unconsciousness, and it won’t even leave a bruise.”

My head reels, faint with fear. Oh please save me, oh please save me. That’s what’s planned for me. He’s about to use the goad.

“Where there are more densely concentrated nerves in the victim’s flesh,” Salarin continues, “the torment is more intense. So your sexual organs will make particularly good targets, Melena, but never fear. We’ll save those for later. Seeing as you seem to be hypersensitive there, we don’t want to rush the main event, or have you black-out too early.”

He’s gesticulating with the goad while he talks, so it keeps waving casually towards me, and involuntarily, each time I shrink away from its touch. Dammit why can’t I stand still? I mustn’t show fear. Any weakness will only be exploited.

I just can’t seem to hold steady in the frame though, reacting to each movement towards me. This is pathetic, my trying to writhe and evade the goad already, but my body is senses what is to come and is reacting on its own.

“Let’s make you scream for a little while, before I take you,” Salarin says in a genial voice. “It will help break your spirit, and terrify the other women, still out there in The Zone. Soon you will inevitably beg me to fuck you Melena, and every other woman will want me to fuck them when they see this, because they’ll understand anything is better than what I’m about to do to you with only a goad.”

Again my mind tries to tell me, “You will survive, Melena. It won’t be fun, but you will survive. If you beg, it doesn’t really matter. You’ll do it anyway, just like he said. They all know you won’t be able to help it. Just do it. Make it easy on yourself.”

I wish I could leave my body, and witness what’s coming as a disinterested observer. But I’m stuck in my vulnerable form, and my bladder control is the only part of my body that abandons me to my fate. Suddenly urine is spurting from me, steaming down to the dusty red ground and running down my thigh in a warm rivulet of shame.

Salarin, just far enough from me to avoid being splashed, turns away from me for the last time. He raises his arms, goad held high, to address the galactic audience. I wonder how many trillions are in front of their screens, waiting to see me suffer.

“Look, the so-called heroine is so frightened she pissed herself. Maybe she’s not so brave? Let’s see how long Colonel, Melena de Santo, can hold out before she begs to be fucked,” he calls out.

Salarin turns back to me, his voice so quiet it is intimate. There’s nothing in my universe but me and him now.

“The goad has a pain setting from one to ten,” he says gently. “One is an uncomfortable jolt. Ten will leave you unconscious.”

My eyes are drawn to follow his fingers as he adjusts the dial.

I standing here naked and helpless, at his mercy. There is little else I can do but watch, and anticipate the inevitable.

“This is a four,” he informs me, and it begins with the flesh around my stomach.

20 - Fifth

I am begging, but only when I have the chance. Most of the time I’m just screaming like an animal, any coherent thought driven away by the world of pain. All that once was the person named Melena de Santo, he has taken from me. My sense of shame, I quickly discovered was insignificant compared to this personal hell. So much hurt, and he hasn’t even moved to my erogenous zones yet.

Such torture should take months to heal, but when he does pause, the agony doesn’t fade gradually. It vanishes instantly as it arrives, and I’m transported from one reality to another. At those times I can suddenly think, and I can understand, and see that I’m totally unharmed, and I can fear the moment when the baton touches me again.

There is no permanent damage, but when I return to the reality free from fire, I find things have changed during my absence. During one break, for example, I realize I’ve started gasping with exertion. Rapid, deep breathing draws attention to the rise and fall of my vulnerable breasts. During another I discover my muscles have started to ache like I’ve run a marathon. How rigidly must have I been tensed in the frame, to have strained my resilience so much already?

I try to be brave for as long as I can, but when he takes my suffering to a new level, saying, “Let’s try it on your pussy now,” I start to weep shamelessly.

“Please, no!” I sob, and for the first time in my life I beg a man “Please fuck me!” and I mean it.

While I plead with increasing desperation he moves the slave goad low, between my spread legs. I am busy gyrating my pelvis, trying instinctively to open my thighs wider, away from the wand, and I even stand on tiptoe to avoid the inevitable for a moment longer. How much is this going to hurt?

My clit is hypersensitive, I know that. I didn’t want to masturbate in front of the cameras back when I was free, so the constant gentle stimulation from the nanobots has left me aroused. The lips of my sex are swollen, opening themselves ready for what should be pleasure, instead of pain.

It’s the slightest touch, but it feels like my pussy is white hot. It’s worse than being branded, worse than anything I’ve ever felt before. Far worse. I am screaming and screaming and screaming.

When the pain is gone, as suddenly as it came, it takes me a moment to understand I’m still alive.

“Again?” Salarin asks me in an almost pleasant tone.

“No, no, no, no, no,” I sob.

The goad is waiting between my legs, pointing at me like a man’s cock. I flex my thighs, trying to get onto tiptoe and escape the contact that will plunge me back into molten agony. It’s futile – he only has to raise his arm between my open limbs, but I can’t help myself trying to evade it anyway.

I am a loser in the Rape Run. My future is only slavery, misery, rape and humiliation.

“Please fuck me, please fuck me instead,” I beg, and to the depths of my soul that’s what I want him to do. I would welcome the rape if it would spare me more torture.

Mercifully, he takes the goad from between my legs, but Salarin has not finished with me yet.

“Are those lovely big titties sensitive?” he asks curiously, and without warning he strokes the wand back and forth across my defenseless breasts.

Madness claims me again. My chest has been immersed into the sun. I’m not aware if I’m writhing, or making any sound, or how much time is passing. All I know is the burning.

And then it is gone.

I look down. It hurt so much that surely he must have burnt me away and only a blackened ruin remains. But although my chest is heaving with exertion the pale globes of my boobs look entirely unharmed. A light sheen of my sweat glistens across my cleavage and a droplet runs down into the central divide. My nipples are still hard, calling out for male attention.

It’s gone quiet. I raise my head with a jerk to see he’s waiting for me. Salarin feigns a move with the wand toward me, and I moan an animal plea for mercy. The sound of my voice is hoarse now, from endless screaming.

“Shake those sensitive titties for me Melena, if you don’t want me to hurt them anymore.” Salarin orders me next.

So I do. Shame is nothing compared to torture. I rise and fall onto the balls of my feet, up and down, up and down, until I’m in a rhythm that maximizes the bouncing of the heavy flesh of my breasts.

I risk dropping my eyes to his groin and I think, “please get hard, please get hard enough to fuck me instead!” and when I see his loose desert pants are now bulging with a prominent erection I actually feel relief.

While I jiggle I look pleadingly at his face, begging with my eyes that he finds my movements sufficiently arousing to rape me.

In the moment when he raises the wand again, just before he brushes the goad back and forth across my breasts and I’m plunged back into hell, I have to understand that I’m so powerless I can’t even barter my body to avoid the torture.

After an eternity of fire I become aware of time passing again, and find I am hanging as limply in the frame as Palonae did, my bodyweight nearly pulling my arms from their sockets.

Then I realize I’ve started sobbing, great heaving sobs that make my chest shake and shudder and are so uncontrollable I can’t get my breath.

Salarin is reaching for the fastening of his pants and I actually thank the gods when he unveils his dick, a heavily-veined revolting thing that’d darker than the rest of his skin. Omnipotent he moves in to me, so close I can feel his hot breath on my neck.

I can’t see down far enough, but I can feel it. A hard point presses firmly between my nether lips, something the same temperature as my own sweat-soaked body. It is the head of him. He pauses for a moment, and then thrusts himself forcefully and deeply into me in the final victory.

I feel a part of my inside tear and there is a new pain. It’s a different kind of pain, something deep within me, and the unlike the goad’s touch the damage from this is real. But I’m so lubricated by a day of the nanotech stimulating me that the pain of my first penetration by a man could be much worse. Physically it’s little compared to the wand, and it’s the mental hurt from having this secret torn from me that is devastating. My hymen is broken. I can never have that back.

Salarin, taker of my virginity, begins to pump in and out of my vagina. I know his penis is only flesh, but it feels as rigid as if there’s a piece of wood pounding into me. Inner muscles that I didn’t know I had instinctively tense around him, probably making his experience more pleasurable.

Now I’m being fucked for the first time I understand what women mean in intimate talks when they describe feeling stuffed, stretched. The tip of him seems to be probing deep in my abdomen. The friction from his veined flesh sliding up and down against my vaginal walls sends intense stimulation spilling from my sex out through my body, making my legs grow weak.

He’s being so physical that the thrusts are throwing me back in the frame, making my joints strain to hold my limbs together. I can’t stay where he wants me so to keep the contact intimate he grasps my buttocks, one in each hand, using my flesh to clutch me against him.

“So tight…” he whispers to me, and then louder to the audience in such a calm voice that he might be doing the garden, “let me tell you, guys - this is a nice pussy.”

I’ve forgotten all about the ring of men, but I’m reminded by the cruel laughing of many voices.

On and on my rape goes.

The sensations his cock trigger in me become so overwhelming I start moaning each time he rams forwards. He’s thrusting deep, right up to the base of himself. I’m so exhausted I have to rest my head on his shoulder like we’re lovers, and my ear touches his cheek through the curtain of my deep red hair.

I’m thinking, “Please, orgasm and leave me be,” and a moment later he does suddenly stop thrusting. Maybe he’s finished. I’m not sexually experienced enough to know if I should have felt him ejaculate, so when he abruptly withdraws I first think the rape must be over. Salarin’s cock is rampant now – a rod of iron. It glistens from my juices and virgin blood, like some kind of newborn larva.

But I can see from the malicious expression that this is not yet done. He walks slowly round to my back, his rigid cock swaying so much it must be uncomfortable, and in spite of the heat I shudder. The sound of my frightened whimpering is loud in my ears.

As Salarin passes behind me and out my sight, I have nothing to do but stare out in horror at the amused crowd. Are they just going to stand there and let him do this to me? Already he’s claimed my virginity. No doubt the men before me can see ample evidence of that between my naked widely stretched legs. How much more does he want?

Salarin seizes my hips in his large hands, grasping me from behind this time.

“No!” I plead, but of course he continues anyway. I feel a sharp pressure of something probing at the cleft between my buttocks and I buck my pelvis sideways, trying to move away.

“Keep still!” he orders me, and one of his hands abandons my hip to grasp my breast. He squeezes, mashing a great handful of me between his fingers and the ball of his palm ferociously hard.

I moan as a dull pain spreads through me from my breast. It feels like he’s mashing the life out of my nipple, and I can’t stand any more.

Surrendering, I move my pelvis back to him, to press my cheeks around his head. Gradually my buttocks enclose him as he slides between my muscles. A moment later I feel the hard crown of the first man to touch his cock against my anus. I try to relax, knowing what’s coming will hurt less if I’m not tensed, but fear of being torn prevents me going completely limp and there is a piercing pain when he pushes inside my body, far more intense than when he violated my vagina.

More tears fill my eyes, and although I’m trying to be strong I moan with discomfort.

Having had his fill of my pussy Salarin begins to fuck me in the ass next, drawing his hips back before thrusting into me, repeating the motion over and over in a regular rhythm.

He’s partly lubricated by my own juices, which makes the ordeal more bearable for me, but unlike my vagina (where I was helped by the arousing nanotech) there is nothing pleasurable about what I experience from being sodomized. I don’t understand how any woman can willingly submit to this with her male partner.

Each movement Salarin makes hurts, and I feel distended by him, as if my hole is being stretched around a giant. It’s like I’m being penetrated by something as large as a beast.

Instincts war in me about how best to survive the ordeal. On one hand I want to relax, opening myself and reduce my discomfort by accommodating him more easily, but on the other hand I want to tense and protect by fragile body by withdrawing into myself. The rod within me makes my back reflexively arch, but this only presents my buttocks more completely for his enjoyment.

And so this is how my Rape Run is to end, with Colonel Melena de Santo being vaginally and then anally raped by this man. Freed from the madness that came with torture I’m aware how I must look to the watching galaxy, so I try to reclaim some of my lost dignity. Thus I try my best not struggle when every movement hurts, and I try to face stoically out into the watching crowd, even as he drags my hips back against him, again and again and again.

Reality begins to fade. I’m panting with the effort to control the agonizing cramps within my bowels, but other than that I simply stand there, still and unresisting. This silent surrender on my part turns out to be a mistake – Salarin wants me to fight to the very end. Without giving any sign I’ve displeased him he lifts one hand from my hip and mashes my breast again, making me scream, with a pain so intense that I have to try and pull away.

“That’s better!” he growls, spitting the words at me between the merciless animal grunts he emits in time with each thrust. “Move, cunt!”

Perhaps it is squashing my boob, or perhaps naming me with that profanity that triggers Salarin’s orgasm to arrive suddenly. He bucks hard – a particularly painful thrust, and I cry out as he rams his pelvis against my buttocks as hard as he can.

When it happens I learn that a woman can feel it - the moment when a man’s climax pulses inside her, even over the agony from a cock which is like being pierced through my abdomen by a sword.

With his victory over me complete, Salarin rests against me, propping his head on my shoulder. His weight is added to the load pulling my shoulders from their sockets.

At some point I’ve started crying again. I don’t know when.

So that’s it then. I’ve been raped. It happens to millions of women across the galaxy every year, and has happened to billions of nameless and forgotten women since pre-history, but this time is different because it happened to me. I’ll always know myself as a victim – someone who was once raped.

He has taken all my rights and my dignity from me. He has shown me that I am nothing, worthless, - the weaker sex, a mere object to be defeated and made slave, and there is nothing I could do or can do. I have no way of exacting revenge. If he wants to rape me again, he can start right away if he likes.

In his moment of total triumph, raised as high as I’ve been plunged low, Salarin is in no hurry to withdraw from inside me, but my legs are trembling with broken muscles and they’re starting to give way. If I slump suddenly I might hurt him, so he decides to pull out of me. His withdrawing penis creates agony so intense I scream again while he slices out of my bowel.

Once the cock is no-longer within me, the muscles in my thighs and my backside can face no more punishment and they collapse, so I drop a short distance and abruptly I’m dangling in the frame by my wrists. The stretching of the joints in my arms and shoulders create a new source of suffering.

My exhausted limbs flail, weakly trying to gain purchase on the woodwork. Between my buttocks it feels like my ass is wet, as if I’ve been to the bathroom and I wasn’t able to clean myself properly. That will be his sperm in me. I am soiled and unclean.

The rapist Salarin walks round the front of me, and towards the ring of men. He’s put his dick away now and looks entirely respectable. I’m the only one that’s exposed.

“She’s nice and tight,” Salarin says, turning to the men to give his verdict. “And she really does have spectacular titties. All in all – a nice fuck. Help yourselves, guys!”

Did he just say…? Oh, not this as well! Please no! My senses leave me as I grow faint with fear. More than one of them? He’s just giving me to them? I won’t survive this. I’ll be raped to death.

The watching males with their cold eyes begin to close in on me, like hyenas finishing a kill after the lion has had its share. From somewhere I find enough strength to stand again, and I try once more to pull my wrists free of the ropes.

“No, please don’t!” I plead to the first man stepping up in front of me, and I can hear how pathetic I now sound. My pleading is not the voice of the strong Melena who stood proud in the frame and showed they wouldn’t break her. This is the humbled Melena who has been tortured and anally raped, and is willing to do anything that earns her mercy.

The new threat to me is younger than Salarin, still in his thirties probably. He’s wiry and thin, with neatly styled brown hair. A nondescript fellow, I wouldn’t have glanced at him twice in the uniform of the Space Fleet. But he’s going to rape me anyway.

From behind him the baking afternoon sun shines into my eyes. I’m feverish and dehydrated.

No lengthy foreplay with this one. He’s already fumbling with his trousers, unfastening them with one hand, and with the other he reaches out and rubs his hand across my aching breasts, backwards and forwards to see how my flesh moves and feels in response to his touch. Once more my nipples start to harden in response to the friction, a reaction which I can see from his hungry expression pleases him.

He has his penis out now. Like its owner the cock is thin, but it’s long. It is less veined than Salarin’s was. Younger man hasn’t been circumcised and his crown protrudes from the foreskin. Brandishing it in his hand he waves the disgusting organ at me, like it’s some blind worm seeking a host.

He takes his hand from my breasts and without ceremony reaches between my legs. With two fingers he enters me, and to my shame he finds me still wet and lubricated from the previous rape. He grunts with satisfaction.

The thin man closes the space between us, breathing on me like Salarin did, and I make one last attempt to plead, “No!” to him. Then the head of his cock presses against the apex of my spread, defenseless thighs, and he spears into me. He poles in and out with difficulty, slipping right out of me once, so he too eventually grasps my hips to aid moving my body in rhythm with his strokes.

We’re fucking, screwing, maybe having sex, but not making love.

The man’s face looms closer to me, and I understand this one wants to kiss my face. Here at least I have some limited capacity to resist. I turn my head to the side and look across to Palonae, who is wide awake and watching my violation, tears running down her cheeks.

I am merely exposing another part of myself for him. His lips explore my cheek and my neck, and his stubble is rough on my soft skin. He can’t reach my mouth, though. I remember I’m presenting the side with the slave mark to him, but it’s too late for me to turn the other way.

All the while his cock hammers in and out of me. The stimulation I feel from him, enhanced by whatever cruelty was injected into my pussy with the technology, floods through my body. I’m being raped, but I’m turned on by it anyway. It’s a warm, tingling sensation, with its core between my legs but radiating out to my other erogenous zones, especially turning my nipples hyper-responsive.

I refuse to accept this feeling is pleasurable – nothing can be pleasurable when it comes with such total degradation and cruelty. At least it is not painful though, as it was when my hymen was broken and when Salarin pierced into my backside. But although getting fucked this second time might not be uncomfortable but it is impossible to ignore. I long to disconnect myself from what’s happening to me but the stimulation is too overwhelming.

Just as I’m hoping this next part of my humiliation will soon be over, I become aware there is also someone behind me, and then immediately I feel the probing rod of another penis breeching between the defensive muscles of my buttocks.

“No!” I moan, writhing, but with my hips already held by the man in front I have less ability to struggle against the new invader. There is a renewed flare of pain as he reaches damaged ring of muscle and I’m penetrated again.

Two of them at once. Please somebody, will they allow me not one shred of my former humanity? The shame I feel is as unendurable as the physical abuse.

I wish I was dead.

I have two cocks ramrodding in and out of me. I can feel them moving deep inside me and low in my belly, the two invaders so close together that the men can probably sense each other from within.

This experience – of fucking a girl while someone else does the same - perhaps increases the stimulation for my twin rapists, for almost as soon as the man behind begins the thin one in front abruptly lurches inside me, and he groans his hot breath against my throat in ecstatic climax.

He withdraws almost as soon as his orgasm has subsided, and without a word the second man to ever have sex with me turns away, tucking himself back into his pants.

The absence of someone in front permits the one behind me (I can’t see his face) freer access to my body, and he reaches round to roughly fondle my breasts. They all want to touch my breasts. He seeks out my nipples and pinches them painfully.

I look down and see a hairy arm, muscular and heavily suntanned compared to my pale complexion. The fat fingers squash and roll my dark buds.

Down between my legs my vagina feels wetter than when Salarin first opened me. The sense of the hot desert breeze over moisture makes my sense of exposure worse. Something sticky is trickling down the inside of my leg.

My vulnerable front hole is not to be left unattended for long. The next of the Hunters’ men is already stepping up. This one is a bearded giant, rather overweight, and I tense in my bonds at the sight of this one, anticipating penetration with an organ that matches the size of his body. His prick is average size though, and the worst thing about being raped by him is the way my head presses against the sweaty flesh of his chest, so even after he’s gone I can’t escape the scent of his body odor.

Thus it continues, on and on and on.

By about man number ten, I’m weakened severely. My arms and thighs, unnaturally stretched by the restraints have no stamina left for fighting to protect me and I hang limp and accepting as cock after cock enters me to dump its load of slime.

There is so much of these men’s fluids in my holes that I am thoroughly lubricated, and in that sense the sensation of being torn lessens, but at the same time a deeper soreness builds and builds with each successive rape, until my holes seem to burn with pain.

But being rubbed raw does not deter my nanotech, which continues to keep me aroused throughout. I feel as though the unending sexual stimulation is sinking me into a trance, but the tech mercifully spares me the dishonor of climaxing during rape. Perhaps it needs prolonged stimulation to my clitoris rather than my vagina to achieve that goal. Each man’s rough exploratory fondling of my button is brief – a gesture to claim complete possession of me, rather than to give me pleasure, and no-one seems interested in that part of me other than as another vulnerable place to hurt.

Once the number of rapes I’ve endured is into the high twenties – that’s high twenties just in my pussy, and a slightly lower number in my backside, I’m so exhausted and lost in unending misery that I begin to lose awareness of reality.

I’ve been raped so much by now I’ve lost count of exactly the number of violations I’ve endured. Faces begin to blur, man after man, an old one, a young one, a fat one, a hairy one, ones of different races, ones with big cocks, ones with small cocks, circumcised and uncircumcised, but all with the same merciless inhuman expression as they take their turn to rape me.

Glancing down in a moment between partners I see blood streaked down my thighs, as red as my hair. It says something about the male psyche that anyone still finds me desirable when I’m such a wreck. I’ve been sweating heavily even though the heat is going from the day. My hair is matted to my skull. And I feel soiled, so soiled that an eternity of cleaning will never remove the sensation of so many touches on me.

Dribbling streaks of filth run so far down both my thighs that they’re reaching my ankles. My buttocks are so slick it’s like they’re oiled. They slip and slide against each other with the few movements of my pelvis I can still manage.

It is at some time in the thirties that I pass a point where I’m so ruined that I’m too unclean for the taste of some. One waiting man changes his mind and steps up behind the helpless Palonae instead of me, and to my eternal shame I’m relieved when he begins to rape her.

Another fellow is determined it is me that will bring him to orgasm, but he finds me too soiled to penetrate. His solution is to masturbate into one hand while he touches me with the other, and then wipe his seed over my face, leaving it dripping down my cheek to degrade me in a new way.

With the man who follows him, it’s back to business as usual.

By the early forties it’s as if I’m looking at the world from inside a dark tunnel, able to see the sunlit afternoon of the desert camp only in the small visible circle at the end of the tube. I can’t feel anything now – no hands, no cocks, no pain. It’s cool down here in this vast concrete pipe, and I don’t seem to be restrained. In one direction I see light, and the desert. In the other direction the tunnel goes into to complete darkness, and turning my back on Aghara-Penthay, this is the way I run.

21 - Sixth

The deafening noise of a woman’s conquest being broadcast across The Zone brings me reluctantly back to consciousness. Wearily I lift my head to look at the sky, and discover it is my own humiliation that is being shown to the galaxy.

It starts with footage of the moment Salarin exposed my breasts. I remember it well, but the woman on the screen, someone brave and beautiful, her eyes bright with anger, is a stranger to me.

“Look at these puppies, well worth the wait!” is the jubilant opinion of Wagner. “The men of the fleet must all be gay, if Melena was left a virgin when all that time she was equipped with those! Maybe she was too tough to let anyone near her?”

Then there is footage of me being goaded. I writhe uncontrollably, dancing like a puppet while I’m stretched out in the frame, my expression an inhuman rictus of pain as the torture goes on and on.

“Nope, not so tough after all, was she?” is Wagner’s quip about this scene. “Look how easily we broke her!”

They prove this by showing some of the images of me bouncing on my feet to shake my breasts. My facial expression is completely different to the defiant woman first captured. I look pathetically terrified, and when the images and sound cut to my actual rape, you can see I’m already defeated.

My memories of my first violation are, to me, acutely clear, but watching myself in the playback I look drugged, barely registering the moments when Salarin penetrates first my pussy, and then walks behind me to finish his pleasure in my anus.

After showing me my deflowering, the footage goes on to briefly show each man who raped me. There are so many that some of the faces I don’t recognize and can’t even recall them using me. But there they are, so it must have happened. By the time the screen gets to the final clips I look almost unconscious, with my eyes rolling unfocussed and my body lolling limp in the frame.

“Not a virgin now, are you Melena?” is Wagner’s witticism about my downfall. “She’s had more cocks than a fifty credit hooker.”

These end frames of my “highlights” are heartbreaking for me to watch as during the real ordeal I had lost my senses by that point. Watching them brings forces me to go through it afresh, so when the images finally cut once again I feel drained. I let my head fall forward so my hair hangs down and hides my face.

I’m still tied into the frame, sagging from my bound wrists. My eyes look down at my own naked body and I try to take stock of my situation. Once the flesh I’m looking at felt like it belonged to me, but now it seems alien – someone else entirely. I notice for the first time there is a bite mark around my left nipple. I don’t remember getting that – Salarin took me in his mouth but to suck, and I was unmarked afterwards.

As though seeing the bite has flipped some internal switch, awareness of the signals from every nerve in my battered body crash in on me like an avalanche.

The goad has left no trace of its touch, but constant writhing under torture means my muscles ache as if I’ve spent a week in the gym – especially my thighs, my shoulders and my buttocks. My wrists and ankles are also painful – they feel as though the skin has been cut from the ferocity of my struggles. Down at my ankles are the blue marks of developing bruises – evidence of the ferocity of my struggling. I raise my weary head to examine my wrists and see the same damage.

My vagina and my anus feel worst of all. They burn with a steady pain, which turns to a hot stabbing if I make anything more than a small movement with my hips. It’s not surprising that rape after rape has torn me down there. Deeper within my bowels and my womb I have cramps, as though my body needs to expel something but can’t.

In spite of all this my pussy is still tingling, and feels wet. My body won’t let me be now, until I’m permitted to cum.

I have dried matter caked all down my inner thighs. I look down and I’m frightened to see streaks of blood that have run as far as my knees. How badly did they damage me? I can see other crusted material – shameful drips of semen, probably.

There is the same sensation of caked filth between my buttocks as I can feel on my legs. On my face sperm is crusted – a smear from my cheek down onto my chin that’s a souvenir from the man who thought me too soiled to rape.

My boobs and nipples, which bore the brunt of the groping, are sore from so much pinching and squeezing, but seem to have sustained no serious damage except for the ring of teeth marks where my right nipple was bitten. There is dried sperm on the slope of my left breast. I don’t remember when that arrived there either.

The pungent smell of myself assails my nostrils. I reek of sex, and sweat, and blood, and fear, and woman. I realize I’m very thirsty, and remember the last time I hydrated was early afternoon.

I’m alive, I tell myself, but that’s no comfort. Better they’d raped me to death earlier, seeing as there’s only new abuse in my future. I wonder what torture Salarin has for me next.

Summoning strength for the next round of misery, I tense the muscles in my sore legs and try to stand. When I take my bodyweight I can’t stop my thighs trembling, but I have enough resilience to remain on my feet and relieve the strain in my arms and shoulders.

Naked, I look out into the camp.

Only a few men are moving around, busy with their own business. Salarin will be hunting again, and most will be away in his retinue. No-one seems to be paying any attention to me at the moment. The defeat of Colonel Melena de Santo is already old news.

The sun is low in the sky, and the fire has gone from Aghara-Penthay, but it’s still daytime. Is it only late afternoon? Lord help me – all that suffering took only a couple hours, and now evening is coming?

My spirits sink lower. Nightfall is bad news for the losers in the Rape Run. Once it’s dark, there is nothing for the Hunters to do but take pleasure from the women already in captivity. Salarin’s hunting party will return here, and perhaps some of the others too, and they will want to fuck me and they’ll want to fuck me, and they’ll fuck me again…

The frame next to mine is now empty. They took Palonae down while I was unconscious. I wonder what’s happening to her. Things will be worse for me tonight if I’m here alone.

I step in my frame, flexing and trying to shift the encircling ropes away from the worst bruising on my wrists, and I feel my breasts shake with my movements. Soft and full, they hang there like ripe alabaster fruit, an advert calling every man’s attention to the fact that I am female, and nubile. God I hate my boobs; I hate having wide childbearing hips; I hate having a delicate almost perfectly symmetrical feminine face; I hate having long smooth legs; I hate having a round, toned, ass; I hate having pouting lips; I hate my wine-colored hair; I hate my pouting lips; I hate that there’s a hole between my legs instead of a cock and balls. But most of all I hate these breasts. I had no choice about being born with genes to deliver me big breasts, and they’ve brought me nothing but misery my entire life.

I look up from my bout of self-loathing and I’m gripped by fear. One of Salarin’s underlings, across by one of the buildings, is standing watching me. How long has he been looking? I think to break eye contact too late. The man calls out and I feel myself shrink in my bonds. He shouts an order, inaudible to me over the distance between us.

Tears prick in my eyes, and I pull with my arms, again trying to draw my hands free through my bindings. Please help me no, my body surely can’t survive more rape.

I have my head humbly down, but inexorably he approaches me anyway.

There might be some alien blood in this one, for he is unnaturally tall, almost seven feet high, and he’s very thin. It’s as though someone took a normally proportioned man and stretched him upwards. His skin is mid-brown and without trace of him needing to ever shave, but his hair and eyes are jet black.

He stands close to me, where Salarin did before I was tortured, and then cups the underside of my left breast in his hand, the one with sperm dried on it, jiggling it up and down to test my weight and firmness.

He releases me.

“Melena de Santo,” he says in a voice that is soft and high-pitched, almost like a woman’s whisper. “You stink of cum like a bedroom in a brothel. No one will want you when you smell like a five credit whore.”

It’s not my fault, but his words sting me anyway.

The dark willowy man turns from me then and walks back to the buildings. He shouts something, too quietly for me to hear. I’m scared that he’s ordering me punished for my lack of hygiene, but his instruction soon turns out to be to another purpose. A slave girl comes hurrying from the hut. The tall man gestures to her, and then points to a different building. She disappears inside, following his directions.

A minute later she re-emerges, carrying a bucket and some other paraphernalia. The female hurries across towards me.

She’s dressed, this one, in the brief red slave wrap open at her left side. I don’t recognize her although she reminds me of Jasmine. She’s young, early twenties probably, blonde, and quite pretty.

Without a word the woman squeezes a sponge in the bucket, and crouching down in front of me she begins to clean me intimately with soapy water. The water is warm, and the brushing of the sponge is initially not unpleasant. But when she reaches the lips of my pussy I have to cry out with pain. Please no, I’m so sore – it will be sheer torture if another man forces his way into me.

I start shaking while she washes my sex, an uncontrollable display of my weakness. She gently places a hand on my thigh to soothe me, but does not stop her work.

“Help me,” I plead, looking down at her crouched form, and hear that my voice is hoarse. Probably from so much screaming. “Don’t let them rape me again.”

She looks at me with an understanding expression, but the girl has as much power to protect me as I do, and does not stop her labors. I can see she’s being as gentle as she can be with me, but all the same the slave isn’t going to risk being punished for sloppiness, so she is thorough. I cry out in pain again when the sponge has to work between my buttocks and brushes over my anus.

The girl washes every inch of me, including cleaning my hair, and she diligently removes all traces of the filth that was crusted to me. I get soaked in the process, but I dry quickly in the sun, even though it’s late afternoon. With the cleaning complete she opens a small jar, which I see contains a pale ointment, like a skin cream.

“This contains the healing bacta,” she whispers, speaking for the first time. Her voice is heavily accented – she’s not from a Republic planet. “The Slavers call it ‘cunt paste’. I must put it inside you. It will hurt at first, but it works quickly. By tonight you will be completely recovered.”

I protest but then I am penetrated anyway, this time by a girl.

It is painful when she slips even something as slim as her finger into me, and I can’t help moaning. However the ointment feels cool and my soreness starts to recede immediately. The woman walks round behind me now. I hear her crouch down and she parts the cheeks of my buttocks. Before she’s even entered me the spreading of my gluteal muscles is uncomfortable, and I instinctively tense, to resist being further splayed.

“It will hurt less if you relax,” she urges me, and I do try to keep still, but I my body reflexively strains with the pain anyway when she violates me for a second time. But once I’m through the ordeal, there too the cream produces almost immediate relief.

I am not grateful to these people that my internal damage is bring fixed. It is a cruelty, and not a mercy, that they have the technology which can heal such as me so easily. A woman can be tortured to the point of death, scarred, burnt, dismembered, and the Slavers merely have to dump her into a bacta tank to regenerate her entire body. Old women can be regenerated into young ones. Women can have their bodies altered to please the master’s wishes – extra breasts or holes, a different face, anything is possible.

The Slavers will probably heal me many times in the coming weeks, but I expect they will not want to alter my appearance. The importance of their victory is that it is over Colonel Melena de Santo of the Republic fleet, so they will make sure I remain recognizable as the poster girl of the military. Any major alterations they inflict on me will be psychological only – permanent modifications to my personality using my implant.

My mind is still numbed by the enormity of what I’ve just endured, so right now I don’t know how badly I’ve been mentally damaged.

No doubt, the time when I flinch and cower like a dog at a man’s merest movement is coming. Since my capture on Doshenk’s ship the Slavers have done everything they can to teach me that I’m worthless and powerless, with my only function to be an object of lust. I’ve resisted them, still clinging to remains of the proud colonel I once was, but I sense that defeat after defeat is beginning to change me to someone who believes herself a victim, seeing no future beyond my sexual slavery. Only two hours earlier I was free, a Rape Runner, with a chance of returning to normal life but already it feels like my distant past.

The events before my capture belong to another life, so the flickering to life of the screen in the sky, and the blare of noise to indicate that a sixth Runner has been caught bemuses me, and I’m somehow surprised that there are women still competing.

I straighten in my bonds, and look up at the screen.

Who is left from the time before? Ja-Alixxe of course, Leesha, Elionara, Cara, and Jasmeena. If I have any emotion to spare on the remainder of the Rape Run, I hope they’ve caught Ja-Alixxe. Yes, for what she’s done to me I really hope the sixth victim is Ja-Alixxe, and she gets torn open by the gigantic cock of the alien.

But no. It is the model Cara whose face appears. Cara with her perfectly shaped face and long, straight naturally blonde hair and a slender body that most women would kill to possess.

I didn’t ever get to know Cara. She had seemed placid all the way through our time in the holding cell together, floating around with her unearthly grace and beauty. Cara seemed to be one of the least effected by captivity of all of us. She sailed through her time in the cell as though she were sedated. The only time I saw any kind of reaction out of her was when the overthrown Hunter, Leshan, was shoved naked into our cell. Then a feral viciousness emerged.

Now Cara is alert. She has a man’s erect cock filling her mouth, and she sucks it apparently with some relish.

“We thought she was frigid but look, what a natural slut she was, after all!” the voice of Wagner agrees.

Our view pans back and I can see Cara is restrained. She has her head and her wrists locked into a wooden pillory. Unlike the ancient’s version where the victim stood and bent ninety-degrees at their waist, this one is low to the ground so she’s down on all fours like a dog. Or more accurately - Cara would be on her hands and knees, were not her hands unavailable, trapped through the holes in the woodwork.

She is naked, so with her torso horizontal her breasts point downwards. Cara has the small boobs typical of a woman with a model’s exceptionally thin figure. They’re cone shaped, looking more like a teenage girl’s underdeveloped chest than those of a woman in her twenties.

In front of Cara’s face is her captor. He has to kneel down to get his penis into her mouth. I can see who he is now – it is Lotho-etsarra. His handsome features are contorted with ecstasy as she pleasures him.

Just when he looks as if he’s about to orgasm in her mouth, Lotho-etsarra withdraws and takes up a new position round behind her, between Cara’s bent knees. He buries himself into her pussy, making her groan, a sound so sexual that I think if she’s faking that she must be quite an actress.

The scene cuts, to show the couple still in the same position, but now Lotho-etsarra holds a device between Cara’s thighs. Its handle looks like a slave goad, but at the other end is a bulb which he has pressed into her clitoris. I can hear a buzzing noise like an electric toothbrush. The purpose of her wand is to arouse, not to torture.

I’m ashamed at the jealousy I feel. Caught by Lotho-etsarra – she has it easy.

Cara’s face is red with sexual exertion, and she writhes, paradoxically both desperate for the touch of the thing and finding the stimulation of it unbearably intense. Her moans of pleasure are louder than his and she climaxes almost at the same time as he does.

“From supermodel to cock whore, it doesn’t take long for any woman to reveal her true nature,” Wagner concludes, and the screen vanishes.

As I stand naked on show to the camp in my frame, I can’t decide if Cara just got lucky, because she was at least permitted some sexual pleasure during her rape, or whether her downfall was worse. What could make for a more public humiliation than being broadcast enjoying your own degradation? At least my actions were quite clearly those of a woman under duress.

The truth is that being shamed is nothing compared to being tortured. If acting like a slut would save me from more pain, I’d willingly play along. So as I wait helplessly in my ropes for the next man, I pray that whatever awaits me tonight will let me demean myself, rather than repeat the tortures of the afternoon.

22 - Seventh

I’m not even given until dark to be by myself, unmolested.

As soon as the footage of Cara has finished the tall man comes to watch me again, and this time he’s not alone. The new one he brings with him is almost his physical opposite – short and stooped with a hunched back, heavy and obese in the body, and with unkempt brown hair and a jutting chin that wears several days’ growth of stubble.

The tall man’s eyes are sharp with intelligence, but the hunchback has the vacant expression of a simpleton. The deformed fellow wears the same arm patch of Salarin’s faction, but he isn’t in the common uniform of a slave-handler – he has on a tech’s overalls.

Both of them are carrying something, something hidden from me behind their backs. Even when they get nearer I don’t get to see what it is, for the men stand several yards back from me, as though I’m a dangerous animal that need to be kept at bay.

The familiar oppressive grip of terror returns with them. What cruelty is coming now?

“You understand the rules?” the tall one says to his fellow in that sensuous whisper. “One point for her legs and belly. Two for her breasts, but three if it’s on the nipple. Three if you get round to her buttock. Five points if it’s on her cunt. But a ten point penalty if you touch her face, as that will piss off the chief.”

I moan a plea, trying to backpedal. Are they planning to shoot me with something?

The hunchback grunts to convey his understanding. This fool is hopping from foot to foot, like an excited child about to be given a treat.

“Good. Then let’s make the woman dance,” the tall man says, and bring out the objects they’re hiding.

The two men were holding their implements in a coiled state, but when they bring them into my view the objects are already unravelling away from the handle and towards me. They comprise a long plaited leather strap forms a strip twelve flexible feet long, attached to a handle contoured for fitting a man’s grip.

Bullwhips.

“No, no, please!” I am already begging. I’m anguished, because I don’t understand why they need do this. The Slavers have defeated me already. I’m co-operating – there’s no reason to whip me.

“You first,” the tall man says.

The hunchback draws back his arm, and then snaps it towards me with a flick of the wrist. The lash comes so fast I barely see it before it’s on me. There is the sound of the crack and I cry out at the stripe feeling like red hot fire that streaks across my upper belly.

“Your score – one,” the tall man says.

The tall man is drawing back his arm now.

“No!” I plead.

The second lash, striking me with the speed of a cobra, lands right across my vulnerable breasts, leaving a line of pain just-off the horizontal axis, catching me right across my already sore right nipple. This time I scream.

“My score – three,” the tall man says.

“Please no!” I beg.

On his second try the hunchback’s aim is better, and he lands the whiplash on my breasts, but doesn’t get one of my nipples.

“Your total score – three,” the tall man says calmly, and follows with a strike aimed at the defenseless place between my legs, but which only catches the skin high on my inner thigh.

“My total score – four.”

“Please, please, no!” I cry hysterically. “I’ll do anything.”

And on it goes.

Drawn by the sound of my wailing, the entertainment of sport and the sight of a nude woman, a crowd begins to gather again. Alcohol is passed around. There is much joking and high spirits.

The hunchback catches my left nipple this time making me wail in agony. His total score – six. Tall man lands a lash on my right hip, and the whip travels round to sting my bare buttock. Seven points.

The pain isn’t as bad as the goad, but it builds up with each stroke. Rather than grow immune to the suffering, my exposed skin seems to get more and more sensitive.

Next there’s a hit to my abdomen, barely above my pudenda (hunchback, seven points), the tall man follows it with the first on-target strike to my core (twelve points).

It gets me right on the sensitive lips of my pussy, wet and swollen with arousal, and the bite of leather makes me howl – this time it feels white hot rather than red. I’m so frightened of them after that that I can’t keep still – instinctively I flinch my pelvis each time they come close, putting a strain on my already-bruised wrists and ankles.

Men laugh at me. Some of them I can see are touching themselves, aroused by my suffering. Once the whipping is over they will want to rape me again, but for now all I can concentrate on is my current pain.

It’s not long before they’ve reduced me to feebly sobbing with terror. Unlike when I was goaded, the whips are doing me real damage. Risking a glace down I see a crisscross of angry red welts rising on the milky pale of my skin. A few of them are on the verge of actually cutting. Blood beads along the stripes decorating my body.

Twenty points. Thirty points.

My breasts, protruding in front of me as appealingly large targets, take the worst of it, but with my thighs spread so wide my tender pussy is particularly vulnerable, and hits there are the most painful.

I had only barely regained some stamina from the earlier torment, so soon into the whipping my tired legs fail me again and I’m left hanging from my wrists, twisting my torso from side to side in an attempt to deflect the lashes from my most delicate areas.

And then, for the first time Salarin spares me some pain, rather than causing it. Night is falling and the tall man leads by sixty-two points to forty-nine when my Master returns, and at the first sign his appearance the two underlings finally lower their whips. With some murmurs of discontent they and the crowd hurry to his service.

The Hunter comes into camp driving a chariot-like hover speeder, standing at its helm like a captain. He cruises in slowly, far slower than the maximum capacity of the vehicle, as though he’s taking part in a victory parade. Salarin’s retinue is almost in the camp when I see the reason for the leisurely pace.

Following the speeder is a woman. Her wrists are roped together, and these have been tightly tied by a long length of rope to the back of the vehicle, forcing her to run behind it and keep on her feet, or risk being dragged along the ground, causing her skin to be gradually flayed by the stony crimson surface of this hateful planet.

It is Elionara.

She has already been stripped and is drenched in sweat when she stumbles exhausted behind her captor into camp.

Elionara’s physique is that of a dancer. But being the most toned and muscular of us all doesn’t stop the figure I see being clearly feminine. Her breasts are small but pert, and she had unusually large nipples of a copper color almost the same as her hair. Her hips are wide, and she has a pronounced womanly pubic bone above her fleshy pussy.

Some of Salarin’s men rush to prepare a place for Elionara in the wooden frame at my left, following instructions shouted from their leader. Included in their number are the two who just whipped me.

I will witness what is to come as Palonae did with me, but I soon see that unlike myself, still roped in an “X” shape, they have additional plans for Elionara. Instead of leaving her standing in the frame several men drag a heavy piece of equipment to a position in the middle of the timber square.

It is a simple thing, made of two rectangular boards of wood, sloping against each other to form a shape like a ridge tent.

The two wooden sides, tapering as they go upwards, met in a sharp spine in its center. From the front or the back, looking along the length of the thing, its cross section would look like a steep triangle.

At first I can’t understand its purpose. Where will Elionara go, when that thing is in her place? She can’t straddle it - that would be agonizing – a rider’s vulnerable genitals would be crushed against the sharp spine running down the center of the ridge. And then I look back and forth between it and Elionara with dawning horror. They mean to put her on there, precisely because it will be torture for her to mount it.

While the furniture is shifted into place Elionara’s wrists are untied, but only so her captors can secure them with fresh, separate ropes. Salarin strides around, barking preemptory commands, while they thread the ropes through upper rings in the frame, ready to stretch her arms out just as they did with mine.

Meanwhile my flesh is burning with pain from the whipping and I’m exhausted. The tail end of my sobs taper away, and I regain enough control of myself that I can watch with sympathy when the moment comes when her wrists were pulled apart, and all hope for her is lost.

Beautiful dancer Elionara is dragged easily towards the frame by the ropes, each held by a guard. The mass of maleness pulling each limb is as least three times her total body weight. Then her thighs are seized by two more men, their hands touching intimately. Lifted off her feet there is nothing more she can do.

All this takes place only feet from me, so in my frame I can hear every word.

“This is an ancient torture meant just for women,” Salarin says conversationally while Elionara is maneuvered into place. “It comes from a world long lost.”

Left straddling the thing, I can see from her expression she’s already suffering, but they take some time to adjust the ropes to even greater perfection. Salarin wants the tension to be just right. The psychological effect of the ordeal is to be as important as the physical.

When they were satisfied, and step back to admire their handiwork, I see Elionara has been left with just enough slack to fight against her restraints, but only resisting at the expense of her reserves of stamina. By tensing her arms she can take some weight and ease her sex away from the punishing pressure of riding the sharp ridge. But with her wrists stretched out by the ropes to such an uncomfortable angle, to do that will take a great deal of physical exertion.

If she wishes she can rest her tired shoulders, but this will be at the price both of letting her sensitive genitals mash into the woodwork, and meaning her arms will be pulled even tauter.

In either position, with so much of her bodyweight hanging from her wrists, Elionara will experiencing the sensation of being crucified. The intellectual torture will be having to choose - suffer in one position or the other.

Her ankles are been lashed by the men to rings, low down either side of the horse’s base. She has enough play in the leg ropes to struggle and move pleasingly in her suffering, but her ankles are spread too wide to use her knees and thighs to grip the horse efficiently, giving her sufficient purchase to relieve the pain.

I’ve seen footage from a number of years of the Rape Run, and these stress tortures are typical of Salarin. They’re always successful in the end, so Elionara will break. But it might be all night before she’s reduced to screaming for mercy.

“Show us how strong you are, my pretty dancer,” Salarin says to her, slapping her thigh like it’s the flank of a beast. “And when you tire of the pain, show us how well you can beg. Once you’ve entertained me sufficiently with your screaming, I might permit you the release of rape.”

He hasn’t even touched her intimately by the time he leaves her there. There was only that slap to the leg.

I think of Elionara no more, for Salarin takes the short walk over to me.

“Melena,” he greets me, and while I begin shaking with terror he crouches slightly to view the whip marks covering my front. “You’re as stripy as a Zelac. That must be sore.”

He reaches to me and roughly plays with one of my breasts, squashing the aching flesh between his leathery fingers until my nipple responds to him.

“How is your cunt feeling now?”

I wish I were still brave and strong enough for a sarcastic retort, but the woman who stands before him is defeated. I just want to get out of the ropes, so that at least next time I’m taken I won’t feel so defenseless. I have no willpower left in me to go on fighting.

“Fuck me there Master,” I beg him in a trembling voice, and I emphasize “Master”, the term of address of a slave to her owner. I am nothing more than that now. “Do anything to me except hurt me, Master.”

But Salarin doesn’t seem pleased by my show of humility.

“Really colonel, I’d expected you to resist me for a little bit longer” he tuts. “Breaking you was too easy. Sadly it’s often that way with the females with responsive bodies.”

He sighs.

“Very well, Melena,” he says in a tone of disappointment, and he turns from me, gesticulating to the tall man, who hurries over.

“I’m done with the cunt,” Salarin tells him, in a voice loud enough that I’m meant to hear. “She’s of no further interest to me. Take her down and prepare her for the next one.”

Next one? New anxieties flood through me.

“What is to be done with me, Master?” I plead, trying to address him in my most slave-like, appealing voice.

Inside I’m filling with the panicky fear of better-the-devil-you-know. Please God, not the alien tearing me apart.

Salarin takes one last look at me, the Runner he captured, raped and tortured, and there is a final hint of the malice I know is his nature.

“Prepare her!” he repeats to his men, and with a great deal of unnecessary intimate touching they do.

23 - Cronorgan

All the while that these overwhelming waves of sensation electrify every nerve ending in my body, I moan. I moan, and moan, and moan, as loud as a woman giving birth, scrabbling futilely with my feet, trying to gain enough purchase to lever my fulcrum off the narrow impalement on the wooden post. But for all my straining nothing changes. I’m trapped right on top of this thing - tied as artfully as Elionara was, bondage that gives me enough freedom to struggle, but not to help myself.

Under Salarin’s precise instructions, first his men made me fold my arms behind my back, and then they roped them tightly to me, cinching me into a complex crisscrossing web that pins my upper arms over my shoulder blades and holds my lower arms together, overlapping horizontally behind me. It is utterly inescapable – I can’t reach even one of the many knots.

By means of this carefully knotted harness I hang suspended from a ring high above me, dangling from a rope just long enough that my weight won’t slip far from the post underneath me. Dangling under the alloy ring I’m still in the middle of the wooden frame, where I’ve been since early afternoon, only this time I can’t touch the base of the frame with my toes. The only point of contact with the ground is where the mass of my torso presses down through my fulcrum against the post.

Salarin’s men tied my ankles together too, with a rope that passes through an iron ring in the bottom of the frame. Unlike the earlier “X” shape of my restraints on I now have plenty of slack to kick and struggle with my lower limbs. Should I wish it I could spread my ankles to a width of a couple of feet, but that would be agony, placing my entire weight on my tender sex organs.

I can writhe, I can move, I can do everything but lift up my toes to the top of the pillar, which would enable me to go what I desperately want - lifting myself free from my torment.

The wooden post between my legs has been coated with a lubricant rendering it almost frictionless. If I exert myself, draining the reserves in my aching muscles even further, I can tense my knees and calves and lift my torso a few inches upwards, gaining a precious movement of relief. But then gravity and the lubricant will inevitably win, and I’ll sink back down right where they want me.

I can’t even ease my discomfort by moving my pelvis forwards or backwards to take up a different resting point on the pillar. Because - mounted on top of the post is a large phallus, made of something solid like an iron rod encased in a softer rubbery material, and that phallus is currently buried deep inside my vagina.

Salarin’s men suspended me in my ropes and then lowered me onto this object, using it to both fill me and trap me. With the wooden mounting post being so liberally greased I can’t get enough leverage to lift myself off of the huge rubber cock, and when I do manage to temporarily raise my pelvis the friction from the phallus against my nether lips sends such intense stimulation through me that my thighs shudder, I grow weak, and once more I’m where I started.

It’s the largest invader I’ve so far had inside my sex. At first I found being stuffed with something so big was bitterly uncomfortable. It felt like it was probing right up to my stomach. But over time I’ve become so sexually aroused that the dildo began to move easily against my slick inner walls. Now I’m struggling more to increase my feeling of friction than to attempt to escape.

I feel as if I’m drugged, in a trance, partly from the exhaustion of the torture and gang rape I’ve endured, but also from the steady effect of the things between my legs – the phallus and the other, even crueler device.

The second one senses me somehow and when it chooses it vibrates against my clit. Technology can be a terrible thing when used to dispense suffering. Between the two devices I have been kept turned-on for what seems like hours – the vibrator teasing me, pausing and withdrawing from me if I get close to orgasm, and then when I regain too much control over my own body returning to repeat the unbearably delightful buzzing.

Back when Wagner interviewed me and the Slavers forced me to climax using that cup between my legs, I knew I’d never been so turned-on before. Well it was nothing compared to what’s happening now. My public shaming with the red vibrating cup lasted a relatively short time. This has gone on and on forever. I can feel myself dripping with my own wetness - slipping and sliding on the ginormous phallus that stuffs my sex and makes me feel distended. My vision is blurring with animal lust, and my blood pounds in my ears.

I’ve not given much thought to sex before the Rape Run, and certainly didn’t think that with my level head I could be reduced to a state where I was desperate to orgasm, but in my heart of hearts I know now I would yield willingly to someone who would grant me that relief.

The unwanted and involuntary expression of my true sexuality has taken place just as I’d always feared. I have lost control of my own body entirely. I’m breathing heavily. My naked skin glistens with sweat, which combines with the welts from the whipping so I look as though I’ve been oiled and grilled on a barbecue. My stomach muscles and the more intimate internal workings of my abdomen tense and relax, fluttering and rippling from no commands of mine, and sometimes when the stimulation gets too much the noises come from me. My moans and groans sound wanton, sexual, even to my denying ears.

The whorish sounds caused by my torment counterpoint the agonized cries that Elionara, close by, emits because of hers. An impaling that arouses me out of my mind seems tame compared to how she must feel having the sharp wooden spine from that horse knifing into her sex.

I thought she might last hours, but it only took fifteen minutes for the already-exhausted Elionara to be crying out in pain, and by half an hour she was weeping and calling out to the men who come to watch us. When she has the chance in between her uncontrollable moans of pain to vocalize human words, Elionara calls for Salarin, begging him to come and fuck her.

She is not the only woman in the camp humbling herself by pleading. I too have abandoned all dignity and am calling to the men who pass by, begging for anyone just to touch my clit enough to push me over into the white eternity of orgasm.

But we are Runners, to be made an example of rather than used by any common Joe, so when after an eternity someone does come to attend to us, it is two of the elite faction leaders of Aghara-Penthay, Hunters, who approach our frames.

Cronorgan, the obese man with the shaven head known as The Master, walks beside the grey haired Salarin, The Sadist. Salarin has already said he was done with me. So it’s Cronorgan, and not the Alien, who will have his fun with me next.

Following dutifully behind the two leaders comes some of the Hunters’ retinues – a couple of men to assist in whatever humiliations are intended.

I try to straighten and prepare myself, but the group arrives at a time when the vibrator is stimulating my clit, so the heroine of the Republic greets this second Hunter with a sluttish moan of desire.

Cronorgan stands with his hands on his hips and surveys my sweat-soaked, writhing form.

“Do you want to cum, Melena?” he asks me. His voice is rather high in proportion to his body size, which (unlike the tall man) gives him a camp air.

Oh I do, I want to cum more than anything, and I’m not above whining desperately to show it.

Cronorgan’s pleasure is from the sexual dominance of women. He likes to turn their female-ness against them, showing them they are weak by using their own bodies. He’s achieved that completely with me, and my response to the torment has inflamed him. I can see the bulge of his erect penis in the loose pants that are Hunter’s uniforms.

“Take her off the post,” he orders his men in a perfunctory tone.

My relief as they seize me, one arm each, and lift me from the phallic stimulator is so overwhelming I cry out as if I’ve already had an orgasm.

While my vagina is being lifted from the dildo ready for fresh invaders Cronorgan extracts himself from his pants. I look down to see what is coming for me, and find his cock is as fat as he is. He’s been circumcised, and the uncovered domed helmet is a dark color, almost maroon. Encircling the base of his shaft is a device of some kind – a ring with a protruding spur the size of a finger joint directly over his organ, at the twelve o’clock position.

While he rapes me that spur will press against my clitoris. I predict it is either meant to cause pleasure or pain. Whichever it turns out to be – I will not be able to prevent the contact between myself and that thing. What will happen will happen.

I am still dangling from the top of the frame, weight supported entirely from the harness now the men have lifted me off the post. The suspension point is high up my back so my torso hangs almost upright. I can just touch the wooden beam below me with the tips of my toes. Otherwise I’m completely helpless.

Meanwhile Cronorgan has got himself completely ready for me. He brandishes his rampant penis in his hands.

“Open your legs for me,” he commands.

I obey, spreading my aching and tired thighs to obscenely present my pussy. In the open air of The Zone the sun has gone down, and the gentle night breeze feels cool against the core of me that’s oozing juice.

Without further word Cronorgan steps in to me, holding the shaft of his penis to aim into my body as though pointing a hose. He guides the crown of himself to the slit of my vulva and I feel his hardness pushing against me. I’ve been ripened from the many hours of tortured arousal, and when he thrusts he penetrates me easily. The sensation of being filled is made less intense by an eternity riding the larger rubber cock

“Wrap your legs around me,” Cronorgan orders.

I obey, enclosing him so my calves form an “X” just below his buttocks. I offer no resistance. I’m defenseless, prisoner on a cruel world and being raped by him is the best of my options. I’d take this over being given back to Salarin any day.

Cronorgan sinks deep into me, burying himself to the hilt on the first thrust. After the long build-up of my arousal, my vagina is receptive and the friction of him sliding within me would have actually been pleasurable, if only it wasn’t being forced onto me.

When I knot my ankles around his back and pull him as far inside me as I can the ring touches my clitoris, exactly where I’d anticipated. As soon as we’re joined the spur buzzes intensely against my trigger. I cry out, with pleasure and not pain. Oh, having him in me like this is heaven, and at last I might be able to sate my need to orgasm.

“Fuck me slavegirl, that’s right,” Cronorgan gloats. “Show me what you want.”

And shame on me, I do. Using my crossed lower legs I hold him to me greedily, desperate to use the vibrating spur to reach climax before he withdraws and leaves me insane with need. I buck my pelvis in time with the thrusts, my loins on fire, crying out with lust. There is no denial from me at all. Not if Cronorgan will grant me the mercy of orgasm.

His hands seize my naked buttocks, for the pleasure of touching me and to hold us closer, and he splays the cheeks of muscle apart, so I can feel the desert air tickle my anus. Unlike earlier no-one is waiting behind me for a double violation.

At my side there are moans of a different kind, as Elionara is also prepared for rape. She too has been lifted from her mount, but the bonds at Elionara’s wrists have been tightened and shortened, so she is now suspended entirely by her extended arms. It must be agonizingly uncomfortable, taut ropes pulling her arms from their sockets. Her face is a strained rictus of suffering.

Salarin has his penis out, and he’s already erect. Like Cronorgan he too wears something on his genitals, but Salarin’s accessory is a strange sheath of metallic tracks, like a condom made of elasticated wires.

I hear him speak, over the sounds of Cronorgan and my coupling.

“Spread your legs, whore,” he orders Elionara.

She yields immediately when Salarin closes the gap between them and enters her, and as I just did she wraps her legs around her rapist once he’s inside, but unlike my degradation I can see his penetration of the copper-haired dancer causes her agonies. She’s behaving as though he has a goad inside her. The penile sheath must be one of his many instruments of torture.

Elionara screams inhumanly, but clings to him anyway, drawing the source of agony deeper into her body because she needs Salarin to relieve the pain in her distorted arms.

Too revolted to watch I look back to Cronorgan’s flushed face inches from mine. Immediately he presses his lips against my mouth, surprising me. It is the first time I’ve been kissed by a man on the slave-trading planet of Aghara-Penthay, and given some of the unpleasant things that have been in my mouth it’s unexpected that a man wants any contact there. Uncertainly I open my lips and brush his tongue with my own, showing my inexperience in the amorous arts.

And it is then that the most intense climax of my life comes upon me, without warning. This one doesn’t just flood me. It’s a tsunami of sensation, and I throw my head back and hear myself grunt like an animal. Wave after tidal wave of stimulation sets every nerve in my body jangling, from the depths of my sex to the tips of my fingers and toes, and I grow faint as reality falls away and then comes back.

Elionara screams in time with my own cry, a tortured animal. There is a grown from Salarin as he thrusts deep into her in the throes of his own orgasm.

I feel the lurch of Cronorgan’s fat hard penis deep within me as he too climaxes, milked by the internal pulsing of my own muscles. The sensation of a man’s release inside my vagina is now becoming familiar.

He rams his pelvis against me at the moment of his peak, and squeezes the cheeks of my backside so hard I suffer the first pain of our coupling. As his pleasure subsides he takes one hand from my rump and gropes my creamy breast.

Aftershocks of stimulation zap from my nipple. The bud of pink flesh is engorged and as stiff as a bullet.

With victory complete Cronorgan withdraws, making me gasp again. His hands release me, and swinging from my suspension point once again I’m scrabbling to reach the wooden base of the frame with my toes. Tucking himself away in his pants Cronorgan the Master leaves me without further word, to contemplate what just happened.

Between my flailing legs there is the familiar feeling of the sticky disgusting dribble of a man’s sperm, leaking onto my thighs. The rope above me unwinds and I rotate slowly, getting a panoramic view around the camp.

Now my desperate need to orgasm has been sated, my ability to feel shame returns. A new low has been reached. They turned me from the proud colonel into a needy slut. And I’m sure that having been reduced to that state once, they can do it again, and next time I will succumb more easily.

The Slavers will probably broadcast my disgrace. Footage of the captured Runners is shared until the end of the competition. Men will look at what just happened and see it as vindication. Melena is a natural slave. It took only a few hours to reveal her true self.

I hang from the frame, limp now, seeing my pale breasts rising and falling as I continue to breathe heavily.

Tears prick in my eyes. Goddam them all. Damn fate, which decreed that I had to be born a female. This galaxy is a terrible place to be a woman.

Look at poor Elionara next to me, forced to participate in the Rape Run just because genes decreed she’d be beautiful. Salarin wasn’t even merciful enough to ease suffering after his victory. She’s off the wooden ridge but has been abandoned by her rapist to hang from her stretched arms, raped and then crucified.

Elionara is struggling for air, her lungs stretched by the ropes until they’re almost useless. She’ll gradually suffocate if she’s left in the frame. Perhaps if she dies there in her bonds it will be a kindness. Surely a quick end is better than whatever waits next for me.

24 - Bed

Nightfall finds me still just as naked, but at last removed from the wooden frame and also away from display in front of the whole camp.

I’m lying in one of the crude buildings surrounding the camp of Salarin. The place is no more than a mud hut really, containing little more than my single bed, one of the military types with a collapsible frame meant to be easily carried, and a couple of foldaway chairs.

On my back on its mattress, I am left to await whoever was next given rights to enjoy the use of my body.

My restraints for this new location are light but effective – with the cot where I lie raised from the floor on feet at the corners, my wrists were simply threaded under the bed, between the props, and handcuffed together. Thus it is completely impossible for me to rise from my back, or use my hands to protect myself in any way.

My ankles have been left free, creating the illusion of some freedom, but I’ve been roped above my knee joints to the bed frame, holding my thighs open and leaving my lower legs dangling over the sides.

I’m lying back on my long red hair, which spreads out on the mattress underneath me in a blood colored fan. My full breasts, without the assistance of gravity to hang in their pert shape, spill to the sides across my chest.

They did not offer me any more healing ointments before leaving me here, so the red welts from my whipping, which crisscross all over my front and sting on my buttocks and the backs of my thighs, throb with pain.

There was no need for them to restrain me really – I have abandoned hope and will spread my legs if that’s what they order. I do not wish to be needlessly tortured for a lost cause, so if I am commanded to surrender myself, I will do so. I have accepted that I am not strong enough or brave enough to prevent these men from raping me over and over, and the easiest path for me comes through submission.

It seems like so many lifetimes ago that I was a woman with vitality and spirit, that I can barely believe they only captured me this afternoon. This morning I was a virgin with my life before me, I was pushed into the carnivorous flower by Ja-Alixxe early in the afternoon, and now, after sunset, I already don’t know how many men have had sex with me. I have lost count. Vaginally raped – I think it goes into the fifties. Anally – perhaps the thirties.

The two men who brought me in here added two to the tally of my sexual partners. I was groped intimately during their handling of me, and once I was chained down to the cot they prepared me for a new form of abuse by forcing something between my teeth, a large ring strapped there not to mute me, but keep my jaw open.

Then they raped me, in my mouth this time, male hairy thighs either side of my face and cocks shoved so deep into my throat I retched and feared I’d choke to death. I can still taste my rapists’ foul sperm, semen dumped fresh from the source instead of consumed later via the hydration canister.

But I’ve endured worse. It’s over now. The ring gag they took with them, so I’m able to speak and there’s no reminder other than a disgusting taste in my mouth. What those two men did to me will probably not be as bad as whatever comes in here next, be it Hunter or sponsor.

So as I lie here handcuffed and roped to this mattress, facing more fucking by whoever enters next, once again I’m struggling to avoid losing my mind to fear.

When a Rape Runner is caught by a Hunter, she belongs to the one who makes the initial capture, and he has first use of her and also dictates her final disposal. Thus, I am by their law Salarin’s sex slave. Despite his saying he was finished with me – apparently because I’m too cowardly under torture to be of interest, my disposal is still his privilege.

Protocol amongst the Hunters is that once the initial captor has claimed the honor of violating his prize, the other faction leaders may have turns with her. At the end she is sold on, or kept as her captor’s personal servant, depending on his wishes.

Cronorgan has used me already. Before they start whoring me to my sponsors, I might still be passed to Lotho-etsarra, the one known as The Libido because of the way he can go for hours and is only interested in screwing as many females as he can. Or it might be Jackran-ad-aktar, the one called The Alien with his gigantic spear of a penis. It is the Alien whom I currently dread penetrating me more than any other living being, so I wait in a state of terrible fear knowing how completely defenseless is my delicate pussy.

But my feelings are worth nothing. If the Alien wants me, he will have me. And afterwards, if he wants he will have me again. No matter how much it hurts and tears me inside they will simply repair me with that “cunt paste” and start on me right over again. I’ll be as tight as a virgin and the next violation will hurt just as much as the first one did.

These are the grim thoughts that reach their peak when I detect the sounds of movement outside the hut. I tense like a trapped animal, even though any resistance on my part is futile.

It is with definite relief I see Lotho-etsarra, the one called the libido, enter my chamber. He has the familiar cruel expression on his handsome sculpted face. Dark eyes burn as they look at me. But he is better than the Alien.

And then I cry out, a cry of utter despair in the face of unstoppable evil. For following humbly behind him is Jasmine, my friend who should be safe and well with the Republic fleet, now incomprehensibly here on this abhorrent world.

What is she doing on Aghara-Penthay? How did they..? Please no, not her! What new cruelty is this?

Jasmine is stark naked, and her face carries the same slave mark as I have on my cheek. That means these bastards will have implanted her. At the apex of her legs, her pubic hair has gone. I can see the lips of her pussy, pink and almost fat enough to hide her clitoris.

The Slavers have done something to her breasts. They’re now much larger than they were before, bigger than mine, and almost on the verge of drooping.

“Jasmine!” I wail.

Her eyes meet mine briefly in response, but there is no message conveyed as she stands docilely with her slim arms at her sides. Instead, her gaze moves away from my face and down over my body, absorbing the sight of me as I’m doing with her. Jasmine makes no attempt to conceal her nudity – to cover her sex with her hand, or cross an arm over her freely hanging full breasts.

“Jasmine, what happened to you?” I moan. Tears fill my eyes, making my vision blur.

“She can’t reply to you,” answers Lotho-etsarra in a flat, almost bored voice. The Hunter takes a place in a chair, facing the cot where I’m strapped.

“She was muted, permanently psychologically muted, during her processing.”

I’m horrified. This is barbaric.

“You’re all bastards,” I say, trying to sit up so suddenly that my arms jar against the bed frame. “You’re as bad as the rest of them.”

“I wasn’t responsible for her capture or processing,” he replies with laconic dismissiveness. “I merely saw that one of your acquaintances was close by, and thought you might like to… comfort each other.”

He studies me for a moment, his gaze meaningful.

“You’re a very beautiful woman, Melena de Santo,” he says. “Of course, there are lots of beautiful women on Aghara-Penthay. But you’re better than them all. You deserve your place as a Rape Runner, and I very much want to have sex with you.”

There’s not much I can say to this. I stare up at the ceiling where a shiny black insect with vicious looking pincers crawls along a bleached wooden roof beam.

“Cold on the outside though, aren’t you?” he ponders. “In spite of everything you’ve been through. I thought involving Jasmine here might be a way to warm you up. They’ve made her a lesbian, using the implant, did you know? We like to do it sometimes – create women with intense sexual interest in their fellow slaves. They assist in managing other females, in exchange for the occasional use of one of them.”

There is ten seconds of silence. The whole time Jasmine’s eyes glide up and down over my nude body, and for the first time in my life I sense desire from her, and feel uncomfortable about being undressed in her presence.

“Jasmine,” says Lotho-etsarra. “Arouse the Colonel. Use her for your own fulfilment while you arouse her for me.”

“No!” I plead, saying no for the thousandth time since being handed over to the Slavers. I strain with my bruised wrists against the handcuffs as uselessly as I’ve always done, for Jasmine is already half-way through straddling my cot. Her weight settles on my pelvis, pressing on some of the lines of soreness where she sits on me, and then her hands reach where she wants to touch - for my injured breasts, fingers pulling at my nipples so they begin to spark with stimulation.

“Please, no,” I beg to them both, “not this.”

I turn my head to the side to look at balefully at the Hunter, slouching back indolently in his chair to watch us, and Jasmine takes the opportunity to lean in and kiss the side of my neck. I hold his gaze, furious, the whole time her soft lips press into me. Her breath is hot, tickling, and she sucks at me, compressing her mouth the way teenagers do giving a love bite.

Having claimed me thus, she straightens up and rubs the palms of her hands up and down over me, stroking from my belly over my breasts to my collarbone. Jasmine’s touch is gentle enough not to cause my welts too much discomfort, but she’s inexorably determined and insistent enough to awaken me.

I turn from Lotho-etsarra and stare plaintively at Jasmine.

“Stop this!” I tell her in a quavering voice. “This is a direct order from a senior officer!”

But she looks at me without a trace of an expression, like she’s drugged, and I see how profound the control of the slave implant can be over a human being’s will. Jasmine will follow his order to without question. She’s going to arouse me, and unless he stops her she’ll inevitably use me for her own climax as well.

And this blind obedience is a living example of my destiny. Once the Rape Run is over my implant will be activated just like hers, and I too will be lost, dissolve into slavish compliance forever.

Jasmine surprises me then, lifting herself off after only caressing me for moments. I hope somehow that my ordeal is over, but with a creak of springs she merely rotates round, so her creamy back is towards my face. My eyes helplessly follow the bumps of her spine, from her hairline down to the cleft of her buttocks, as she reverses up my torso and then leans down to attend to the place between my legs.

“Jasmine, No!” I plead again, but my words turn into a groan and my back arches as her soft mouth smothers my clitoris. Jasmine’s tongue, warm and moist, presses against my folds, already moving in intimate circles.

My lower body ignites with arousal. I try to pull my pelvis deeper into the mattress, away from the intense stimulation, but she moves with me. As the same time she spreads her knees wider apart, either side my head, lowering her core to just in front of my face. Even at this distance I can smell the smell of a woman’s sex organs, but also other scents – the now familiar smell of sperm, the smell of her sweat, and ever pervading fear that seeps from women on Aghara-Penthay.

At the other end of my body her tongue thrusts deep between my lips and then drags up over to my clit and I cry out at the overwhelming sensuality, tensing in my bonds.

“Bring Melena close to orgasm, but don’t let her climax,” I hear Lotho-etsarra instruct Jasmine in his deep, calm voice. I try to look angrily at him, but my view is blocked by Jasmine’s immaculate thigh straddling my face. She gives no sign of having heard him, but merely continues her constant, steady attentions to me.

I’m outraged he’s forcing us to do this, but oh my Gods it feels good. My lower body is liquid with pleasure. I can’t focus on anything but the place between my legs and the friction against me, pushing me up and up the curve of arousal. It’s impossible for me to keep silent under such stimulation, and I frequently emit involuntary moans, the noise sounding wanton to my own ears.

Jasmine cannot help what she is doing to me, and I’ve fallen so far as to be beyond shame. And that’s why as I lie there underneath her, I abruptly decide that if this is what’s been done to her, the kindest thing I can do is to give one pleasurable experience to my friend. So tentatively at first I lift my head up to her, and begin to kiss and lick at the vulva floating obscenely before my face.

The contoured folds of her nether lips and the fleshy trigger I probe are warm with her body heat, and baby soft in comparison with the hardness of Jasmine’s pubic bone.

Close-up, the scent from her is overwhelming. The smell of male sexual fluids is stronger, as well as female. More faintly, I can detect the odor of excrement. I’m sure she’s been taken recently, and not permitted to clean herself afterwards. But soiled or not, I stretch and search deep into her with my tongue, until the taste of her juices fills my mouth.

In response to my caresses Jasmine shudders. Perhaps movement is the only way left for her to express herself.

Down between my spread legs I feel a new touch – her fingertips between the lips of my vulva. She too is exploring. I can feel her slip easily inside me. I am wet and receptive. The burning pleasure intensifies with my insides and my button caressed at the same time. For the second time today I feel myself accelerating down the pleasure curve towards orgasm.

I’m beginning to squirm with ecstasy when her tongue is abruptly gone from me, and I’m left unthinkingly lifting my hips as far from the bed as I can, chasing her touch.

As ordered, she has aroused me, but not permitted me climax.

There is no such prohibition on Jasmine’s right to orgasm. She pushes herself more upright and kneels astride my head, looking down at my torso. Her weight is pressing down heavily against the lower part of my face, mashing my nose and mouth against her core. I can’t turn away – she’s pushing too hard. It’s difficult to breathe past the enveloping warmth of her, and for a moment I’m frightened she’ll suffocate me, then I remember that being smothered by someone who cares for me might be a mercy.

My next few minutes are shameful even by the standards of Aghara-Penthay. The woman who was my friend grinds her pelvis rhythmically against me, using the pressure of me against her sex to ride me to orgasm.

Before she’d only appreciated my chest with good-natured platonic jealousy, but now from her kneeling position she repeatedly grasps my boobs, not just stimulating my nipples but pulling at my skin in painful little pinching gestures.

Some females can disguise their climaxes, and some are “squirters”, having an uncontrollable release of fluid much like a male orgasm. Jasmine is one of the latter. When she cums my face is inundated with liquid as warm as urine.

The moment her release is complete her weight lifts from me, and she is gone without ceremony. With my eyes closed I flail my head from side to side, trying to shake off the disgusting fluid.

“Kneel on the floor, by Melena’s head, and watch while I take her,” I hear Lotho-etsarra order.

I open my eyes and blink, face turned to the wall to avoid looking at him, as after a moment my cot creaks from the heavier load being added.

Lotho-etsarra “The Libido”, climbs between my knees, with his torso casting a looming shadow from the dim lamp. I feel pressure from the head of yet another man’s iron-hard cock at the apex of my open thighs and I know I’ll be as powerless to prevent this penis entering me as I was with all the others.

The healing paste has returned my vagina to its virgin tightness, but because I’ve just been opened and made wet against my will, Lotho-etsarra enters without me suffering discomfort. I feel my pelvic muscles flutter and grip him tightly, and the friction of him against my inner walls makes me moan.

I turn my head to look the other way, and meet Jasmine’s silent presence. She reaches out and tenderly strokes my forehead, brushing my hair away from face as though she’s soothing a sick friend.

Hers is a different touch to that of Lotho-etsarra, whose hands grasp my breasts and squeeze the soft flesh uncomfortably hard. Using my globes as support he leans on me, his body weight pinning me down further into the bed.

Once he’s securely positioned he begins to thrust against me with his pelvis, an easy rhythm but strokes hard enough to make my body lurch. He grunts each time he buries himself to the hilt against me – the rhythmic “urgh, urgh, urgh” of a rutting animal.

This is by no means the worst rape I have endured since my capture, but his stamina far outstrips the other men to take me, and my violation just goes on and on and on. I surprise myself when ten minutes in I begin to sob, making my welt-covered chest heave underneath him. And once I’ve started I can’t keep it back. I cry like a broken-hearted child. Perhaps it’s just one rape too many in a day, perhaps it’s because I’m left nothing, perhaps it’s because I’m turned on.

He wanted to see and touch Melena de Santo naked, and he got to. He wanted to fuck Melena de Santo, and he got just what he wished. He wanted to see how Melena de Santo reacted when she was turned-on. So she was turned on. He wanted to see Melena de Santo with another woman, even though I’m not a lesbian. That is what happened.

I am worthless. I am weak. I am a sex slave. I feel dirty and unclean, so I vent my misery by crying hopelessly.

Some men might be deterred by a weeping female, but Lotho-etsarra still it goes on, and on, and on. I start to think that even the woman-hating Leshan would have been better than this. He would not have had to hit me for long before I’d have yielded, and quickly it would have been over.

Five more minutes pass before Lotho-etsarra thrusts particularly forcefully against me, and inside my body I feel the iron rod of his penis moving. Then he goes rigid, grunting with the strain, and the regular pounding rhythm pauses.

This time I don’t feel the actual emptying his seed, but as with many of my previous rapes I sense the orgasm through the pulsing of his cock.

Jasmine brought be close to climax, but while enduring this rape I myself do not reach the peak. When he withdraws I’m still aroused and this is why I cry out at the stimulation of him slicing out of me, and then I weep some more as I’m left naked on the cot with my thighs apart and his cum dribbling from my pussy. Lotho-etsarra lays a hand on my bare thigh as though he wanted to comfort me.

I’m finally able to look at him, the man who only ever takes a girl once, now he has had his fun from me. He’s on the end of the bed, pulling up the loose pants that all the Hunters seem to prefer. Lotho-etsarra is perspiring slightly. Fucking me has tired him out.

The moment is fast approaching when he’ll be gone and I’m back to facing the dreadful unknown dread of what might be coming next. It’s the same fear that has haunted me since my capture. Please God, not the Alien. Don’t let him walk in when I’m like this, lying helplessly with my legs held apart.

Nearby, Lotho-etsarra hums a tune to himself as he adjusts his clothing. Abruptly it occurs to me that I am in the presence of the most approachable of the Hunters.

“Master?” I say humbly, looking at him with my tear-filled eyes, and he looks at me, surprised.

“Slave?” he says.

“If I pleased you… Stop them giving me to the Alien, Master.”

And once I’ve started I carry on, hearing the pathetic tremble in my voice. “Please, Master, I’ll do everything I can to make it nice for you, just don’t let Salarin give me to the Alien.”

He laughs, a warm rich laugh, as though I’ve just told a fireside joke. A hand is placed affectionately on my naked thigh.

“Fear not, pretty Melena,” he tells me. “You are safe. His species does not mate as frequently as ours, and they find it difficult to grow aroused more than once a day. He saves himself for his next conquest. My esteemed colleague wants to be the one who breaks the Bounty Hunter.”

“Ja-Alixxe?” I say, questioningly.

Of course I know her to be attractive, as are all women forced into the Rape Run. But I find it strange to think of a man having a particular “thing” for her. To me, her entirely mercenary nature makes it impossible for me to think favorably of her companionship. The Alien’s attention proves how to men, personality in a female is largely irrelevant. A pair of tits that suits their taste, a pussy and an ass is all that matters.

“It was actually Jackran-ad-aktar who chose the bounty hunter to Run,” Lotho-etsarra says. “Her, and the Amazon.”

I had forgotten entirely that each faction chief is expected to contribute two prize women to the competition. I suppose that’s because once you’re a Rape Runner you’re a Rape Runner, and it hardly matters who condemned you. All the same, I can’t help asking, “And who offered the bounty for me?”

He laughs and shakes his head. He’s not telling me, but bet it was Salarin. Ever since his men cut me loose from the plant, I’ve been sure Salarin had some particular hatred for me.

“Ja-alixxe will win, Master,” I predict. “The Alien will not get her.”

This comment seems to amuse Lotho-etsarra as much as my fears about my fate.

“No, Melena. She bested you, easily, but I do not think she will win. The one from the desert world, or the one you were intimate with… They know better how to survive in The Zone.”

I am puzzled by this. What does Lotho-etsarra know that I don’t? Why would Leesha be particularly suited to survival in that arid wilderness? She was last to arrive in the pens, and in the short time Leesha made no mention of her past or origins, but I always took her for a bred slave. That means she would have never been outside the pens in her entire life.

Glumly I wonder if she lied to me. Was I being played by her the whole time? Maybe she just sent me where I’d get caught. Maybe she was never even on that mountain waiting for me to join her.

I shouldn’t be continuing the conversation – addressing a man on Aghara-Penthay only invites suffering, but I have to know more. Please, give me a sign that someone in this universe hasn’t betrayed me.

“Do you know where they are, Master: Leesha and Jasmeena?” I ask.

Lotho-etsarra moves his hand up my thigh, and his touch is back at the apex of my legs, fingering my clitoris. My arousal has not completely diminished after sex, and heat flares in me one more, my loins turning to liquid.

“I like you Melena – you’re unusually responsive,” he observes, and I feel my face grow hot. He debates for a moment and decides to be merciful to me, a naked slave looking feeble covered in red welts.

“You know of course that the tracker updates do not tell us which Runner is which, so I cannot say for certain,” he explains softly, all the while with those fingers slowly working my body, “but it appears that two Runners are remaining stationary, staying close to a fixed base near the high mountain. We suspect those two to be your friend and your enemy. The third and last female hides in the most open desert area of The Zone, where there are sand dunes. She moves constantly, as you did before your capture. We believe that one to be the female native to desert lands.”

So she was waiting for me. I feel a surge of gratitude to know Leesha was there, on the hill. But I can’t think much more of it now because the stimulation from my sex is much more demanding and I have to moan, arching my back to satisfy my overwhelming need to move. If he carries on with soon, soon I will only be able to exist in my present. I have one more thing I’m desperate to know, so I ask it in a voice breathy with arousal.

“If I’m not to be given to the Alien, what is to happen to me, Master?” I plead, trying to make my voice seductive enough to win an answer.

“You’re already up for sale, slave girl,” he replies immediately, with a casual flash of his dark eyes and handsome smile. “Salarin prefers the women who break gradually, and although the sensitivity of your body makes you desirable to most men, it is a turn-off for him. So bids are being taken on you and competition is fierce. Whoever wins you, he will be a wealthy man to afford your price, Melena. But as to what happens before then… As soon as this year’s Rape Run is complete your implant will be fully activated, and you will sexually serve the needs of each of your sponsors, before being delivered for permanent service to your new master.”

“No!” I beg, my tone unclear whether I’m begging to avoid this fate, or the approaching orgasm.

“The responsiveness of your body, that again you prove right now, has attracted great interest,” he relentlessly continues. “Many man wish to enjoy having Melena de Santo as their personal plaything. What a prize you would make, docile at someone’s feet. You’re going to make millions of credits for Aghara-Penthay.”

I’ve always known I’d be sold if I was caught, but for some reason hearing this news repeated unleashes a fresh flood of crying from me. I turn my head to the side and face Jasmine. Kneeling beside the bed, she looks silently at me - a teardrop in her own eye her only means of communication. As it trickles down her cheek we hold each other’s gaze as my body’s resistance breaks down, and I scream in climax at my violation from a stranger.

The electric aftermath of such an intense orgasm hasn’t entirely faded when Salarin enters the hut with two of his men. But any last pleasure is shattered as I’m quickly brought down to the ground. My owner says that if Lotho-etsarra is finished with me, I am to be put in an appropriate place for Salarin’s property to spend the night.

25 - Pool

I cry out in disgust as warm wet liquid spatters down onto my head. A man is urinating on me. Sloshing rapidly away from him through the thigh-deep filthy water, I move as quickly as I can out of the steaming stream that rains down from above.

Most of the time I’ve seen these attacks coming and taken evasive action, but a couple of times I’ve been surprised. Luckily as it draws later into the night, such visits to my overnight home – the camp cesspool – have grown infrequent.

This pit where they lowered me is the one I’d spotted on my first arrival. It is circular, about eight feet in diameter, and it’s about twelve feet from the submerged floor up to the rim. The walls surrounding me are made of the same desert sandstone that is everywhere on Aghara-Penthay, and they’re so roughly hewn that I could probably have climbed out without much difficulty, if only I had the use of my hands.

But I don’t.

To keep me trapped I was strapped into a garment rather like a straightjacket before they dumped me in here. Only unlike the lunatic asylum classic, where the clothing would have at least had the benefit of covering the torso, mine is a cut down version. So I’m standing here up to my thighs in shit wearing a skimpy piece of bondage-black leather, which comprises nothing more than tight sleeves and a stiff collar about my throat.

My arms are folded across my stomach, with the limbs enclosed in black leather all the way from my shoulders to my fingertips, and then the securing straps which extend out from my hands have been tied tightly around my back and circled round to buckle over my belly. Left restrained in this configuration I am utterly unable to use my arms, although the sensation of having them close about me in a kind-of-hug at least gives a little comfort.

As the garment is cut down to only sleeves and the collar, my creamy breasts are left totally exposed by the restraints. The heavy weight of my fruit-like flesh rests on my crossed forearms, and there is not the least way I can cover myself.

Having my hooters on show for the world to piss on should have been degrading enough for them, but Salarin wasn’t finished. Additional leather cords were then tied round and round the base of each of my breasts, squeezing the flesh so I bulge out like I’m wearing a pair of pale pink balloons on my chest. My nipples protrude from these swollen masses, darkening from trapped blood to make even more prominent targets.

Apart from the accessories around my boobs, the straightjacket and the gag over my face, I’m still stark naked, as I have been since he stripped me. In the Republic I was shy about revealing myself without clothing. Here, half the men on this hellhole planet must have enjoyed a look at my secrets.

The muddy brown water I stand in is thigh-deep and too contaminated to see through, but that does at least mean I can use it to conceal my pussy and my backside if I crouch down. But it smells so foul I’m reluctant to submerge, and besides, there’s probably a hygiene risk if the worst of my welts go below the surface.

A sound makes me look up as another visitor comes to the pool – a slave girl this time. I haven’t seen this one of the camp’s women before. There is a handrail sunk in the flat desert ground at the top of the pit, and by means of hanging onto this users can hold their nether regions over the empty air and conduct their business.

There’s also a winch rig up there. It was used to lower me in here. Two guards put me down here – men who shoved me face down onto the sandy ground and sodomized me before they abandoned me in the water. They anally raped me while the highlights of Elionara were being broadcast in the sky, footage of her further arousing them, and then they dumped me in here.

My feet have been left unbound for once, which means at least I am free to move around my small confined space as I wish. Above me the top of the filthy pool the pit is open to the sky, there being no need to cover captives unable to escape.

The night sky is cloudless and I can see hundreds of stars. I look up longingly. In most of those worlds, my being a woman would not make me a slave. Trillions of female citizens are going about their lives, free. But I am here, wading through a pool of piss and shit, naked, bound and with my breasts degradingly tied.

There is a moan from my companion.

Palonae is in here too, Salarin’s captive who he claimed before me. This is the first time we’ve been reunited since she witnessed my torture and gang-rape in the wooden frame.

She is in the same restraints, and lack of clothing, as me. Her breasts aren’t large enough to wrap bands around their base, as was done with mine, but Palonae carries a crisscross of rope that still exaggerates their shape.

She moans again. Like me, she cannot speak.

Our current home is disgusting, but apart from the issue that I can’t rest or lie down, being left in this pool would seem like the mildest treatment I’ve received since I was captured, if it wasn’t for the gags we both wear.

A band of black leather runs across my face, under my nose, and circles right round to my ears, almost like a mask worn by a bandit. The leather band looks innocuous, hiding the secret that on the inside of the gag is a large biotech phallus, which fills the wearer’s mouth.

This obscene thing is designed to resemble a real male penis in temperature, firmness and texture, except for the important detail that female teeth can’t harm it. After they forced my jaw open and shoved it into me I tried biting down on it with all my strength. It would have given me great satisfaction to emasculate even a fake male organ after all the cruelty I’ve endured from the Slavers.

I clenched all the muscles in my neck and jaw to clamp down on the thing, but it was obdurate and resistant, and seemed to swell in response to my struggles, rather than reduce. In the time since I was strapped into the gag (opening my mouth obediently rather than earning pointless punishment) I have discovered the phallus can change significantly in size, but always remaining erect enough to prevent my speech.

When I brush my tongue against it, attempting to make myself more comfortable or swallow back my saliva, the penis swells. At its largest expansion, it reaches right to the back of my throat, and terrified of retching and choking on my own vomit I have to look upwards and use the space right back in my gullet. If I continue to provide involuntary stimulation, it pulses and squirts a semen-like fluid against the back of my throat. This disgusting juice I have to swallow back, knowing that if I fail and vomit I’ll probably choke on my own puke before they can get to me. The gag has “orgasmed” several times into me already. I know simple physics must win eventually and I’ll drain the reserves of the obscene thing, but how many more times must I pleasure it first?

Palonae groans again. She has her head stretched back to look straight upwards, which arches her back and presents her pale breasts towards me. Her gag must also be at its largest tumescence, for I see the muscles in her throat working as she swallows the sticky liquid.

Once the penis is diminished then Palonae is able to look at me. Her eyes glisten with the misery of our shared suffering.

I want to comfort her, and I desperately want to receive some contact myself from another human who does not intend cruelty, but without being able to explain that my intentions are kind I can do nothing but inch gradually into her space. Palonae’s slender body looks even more delicate and vulnerable now she’s locked into the straight jacket. Her face is almost deathly pale, the contrast made more noticeable by the frame of her long, dark hair and large chocolate-brown eyes which watch me over the gag. The princess’s small breasts point towards me, distorted into cones by the cross pattern of ropes.

I take a step closer to her, water and floating turds sloshing about my legs, and see no hostility in her expression. In fact she reciprocates, and also makes a tentative movement nearer to me. Her expression looks grateful. Perhaps she feels the same need for tenderness that I do.

My mouth is filling with saliva, triggered by the presence of the alien invader. I swallow, but can’t ingest my own fluids without rubbing my tongue against the phallus. The lifelike cock twitches, and I feel it expand and stiffen.

I take another step towards her, and again she does the same. We’re now only a foot apart. The ties around my breasts force them to protrude far ahead of me, meaning they will be the first point of contact between us. But that can’t be helped.

I close the last of the distance between us and she does the same. Our flesh meets, the twin tips of me against her, and we adjust, twisting sideways so our chests interleave. My head is turned so I’m looking into her eyes. We’re close enough that we would kiss, were we not both gagged.

That’s when I remember this woman took Oorla as a lover. Poor Oorla. If I hadn’t saved her from the net, she would still be alive.

Thinking of the fate of the actress makes me shiver, even though this living woman feels warm against me. Palonae’s soft breasts are made firmer and more prominent by the harness of rope. Her physique is delicate, smaller than mine, so she feels very feminine. The contact of someone who feels so much like a woman is reassuring in a place where every male means suffering.

Her eyes, so close to mine, look grateful. She is probably reacting to my touch and receiving the comfort of my presence in the same way.

Then the sensation of her smooth thigh is abruptly there down at my core, pressing against the lips of my sex. She must be balancing on one foot, so that she can lift her other leg up to my fulcrum. It’s blissful to have something covering that place, someone trying to protect me.

I wish Palonae could put her arms around me too. I wish I could be held while I weep against the shoulder of someone who understand everything that has been torn from me, and together we could mourn the total degradation we’ve endured.

But we are on Aghara-Penthay, so even this moment of peace between two females is to be taken from us. A fresh spatter of hot urine suddenly breaks us apart and we scramble away through the water.

“What a touching scene,” a male voice calls from above us. “Two lesbian sluts rubbing their titties together.”

I jump, and look up to see the familiar expression of cruelty on Salarin’s face as finishes his business and tucks the cock that raped me back into his pants. His hair looks particularly white against the black sky. The man who owns both me and Palonae then crouches down, resting an elbow against the small winch and pulley apparatus they used to lower us into this hole.

“Relax – you cunts are off camera. Your sponsors don’t need to see what’s happening to you here.”

So, potential buyers are fine watching me get gang raped and tortured, but they’re squeamish about crap? If it deters anyone from violating me, I’d willingly dive head first into the filth.

“Your friend the dancer has been very entertaining, and I have to get a few hours rest before dawn,” Salarin says, “so I need to make sure the two of you aren’t left neglected for the rest of the night.”

My stomach knots with fresh dread. I thought we were just to be left here until tomorrow, but it sounds as some further misery will be inflicted on us.

“Tell me - have either of you two slaves heard of a cunt leech?” he asks us, and then amuses himself by continuing, “of course, with those things in your mouths you can’t answer my question. So I’ll assume you’re as dumb as most females, and I’ll go ahead and explain from scratch.”

“It’s rather a fascinating little creature, with a two-phase life cycle – something not uncommon in parasites.”

“In the larval stage, the cunt leech is barely larger than a bacteria, and it lives harmlessly on the genitals not of women, as its name suggests, but of male mammals. They say the presence of the larvae is detectable by a faint scent of vanilla, but I’ve never been able to confirm that, having avoided infection.”

“Those little larvae remain inert, and are of no scientific interest until the moment when the male mammal carrier has sex with a female. You see - immediately when the larvae sense themselves inside a female they detach and, and in their new home they then mature into adult leeches. They can survive inside both the vagina and the anus of mammalian females, latching onto the walls and swelling as they parasitically live on warm blood from the host. Surprisingly they don’t develop inside a male anus. It’s really better to be a man around these creatures.”

“Once they’re happily settled inside a warm cunt and fed by fresh blood, the adult leeches grow large and firm, embedding so deeply they’re very difficult to remove. They’re ready to breed. To protect themselves from the environment inside a ripe pussy the leech secretes a naturally lubricating slime. Infected women report that because of the slippery mucus and the leech’s firmness, the host female feels a sensation of being permanently stuffed as if they’re carrying an oiled and slippery dildo all day. What do you make of that ladies? A naturally occurring dildo.”

“Anyway, those critters get so big that in order for the host to have sex, the adult leeches need to deflate their bodies when the woman is penetrated by a male. This they do, partially collapsing, so the male mammal is provided with a tighter and more readily lubricated hole than with an uninfected female. Sadly, once the leech has collapsed its life cycle is usually complete. The leech soon detaches after the woman has had sex – scientists don’t know why it doesn’t simply remain and re-inflate. Once detached, they are soon voided from the host. Outside the mammal’s body the adults quickly die, except for the rare occasion when a leech can find itself a new female host within hours. But let’s not dwell on death, slaves. Let’s look at the miracle of new life.”

“Once the parasites are mature and happy inside their vagina, on the leech’s skin new larvae grow. Interestingly, these new larvae are evolved to remain in their early phase until they’re transferred on a male penis and to a new female, so for their reproductive process it’s vital the parent attracts fresh cock into the home orifice.”

He claps his hands together gleefully.

“I’m sure you think that the idea of these leeches stuffing an infected female like a dildo is degrading enough. But it’s the way the leeches attract dick that’s I really like about them.”

“Let’s marvel at evolution. To increase their chance of finding new homes and spreading their young as quickly as possible, the adult leeches secrete chemicals into the host female’s bloodstream.”

“These hormones increase the female reproductive urges of the host, making her more maternal. At the same time a mild sedative lowers the host’s inhibitions and makes her docile and receptive to male advances – sexually submissive, you might say.”

“But my favorite part – a chemical aphrodisiac increases her sex drive by orders of magnitude. Within a couple of days of being infected, the hormone concentration in her blood reaches a critical level and over a duration of only minutes a change suddenly comes over a host female. She becomes driven entirely by the urge to mate. She’s been turned to a raving cock-whore.”

The Hunter pauses.

“What does all this have to do with you, you’re probably wondering?”

“I figured that coupled with the nanobots you already both have injected into your cunts – you know, the ones that force the two of you to regularly masturbate - it would be quite amusing to see the additional effect on the two of you carrying the parasites. And the galaxy won’t see your infection. Our contempt for your sponsors and future owners will be a private joke. We’ll be handing them such soiled seconds: Melena and Palonae fucked by more men than professional whores, and then left filthy and infected.”

The princess and I are looking at each other uneasily. We know enough of Salarin already to be sure his telling us this won’t be good, and he told us we’re not on camera now, didn’t he?

I’m so frightened that my bladder fails me for the second time today and I soak my thigh with warm liquid. Turn me into a “cock whore”? Please God no… I have to gulp back more saliva, and my tongue rubs once more against the phallus filling my mouth.

“But don’t worry, slaves,” he says, in a tone not reassuring in any way. “My men and I are not carriers of the larval cunt-leech, so you don’t need to fear infection from one of us fucking you. And a simple dose of medicine cures any kind of infection. We are perfectly clean.”

He pauses. In the depths of the pool I step my feet, hearing a slosh of water. So what’s the punchline? He’s clearly taunting us, extending our misery.

“What you women need to worry about – are the adult leeches that have just been released into the water where you’re standing.”

26 - Leeches

Palonae has lost it completely.

She’s moaning hysterically, and her knees churn the muddy pool as though she’s trying to climb the vertical wall through sheer force of will.

I wade through the water towards her, and give my muted call, the only way I can think of to try and attract her attention. Our best chance of protecting each other is to act together. But she is thrashing about and crying so much that she’s lost in her own world.

I move in, close enough to lean my chest against her. In a panic, thinking me a threat, Palonae pushes back against me violently, and unlike the last time we got close her shoulder slams painfully into my jaw. Her instinctive assault makes me see stars, but worse it makes me overbalance and I fall backwards into the lake of foul water. I’m probably only submerged for an instant, but it feels like forever and I’m soaked head-to-foot in human waste.

When my head breaks the surface I see that at least my dunking has brought Palonae back to her senses. She stands over me, her face tear streaked and her eyes wide with terror.

Perhaps it is because I am lower down, while I struggle to get upright, that I see the first of the creatures on her.

The leech is on the inside of her right thigh, moving slowly up towards her sex. It’s black and slimy, about three inches long, and reminds me of a garden slug, but one missing any sign of antennae.

She must recognize something is wrong from my expression, because Palonae looks down at herself, her dark hair falling about her face, and she sees the leech. Terror claims her again and she begins to scream once more, the volume muted from behind her gag. It’s the same scream, over, and over, and over.

As I get back to my feet Palonae is kicking wildly, thrashing and rubbing her silken perfect thighs together to try and dislodge the invader. But the body of the leech is low and streamlined, and it seems to be able to clamp tightly to her skin, even while continuing its inexorable progress up to her core.

More of them are breaking the waterline now. I see a second, a third, a fourth, making its way up her perfect legs.

Then I become aware of something wrong on my own flesh. It feels for a moment as if there is something clammy moving on the outside of my buttock, going round the muscle towards my back. I can’t turn round to see, but I look down at myself anyway.

Now it is my turn to scream, my gag making the sound louder in my ears.

On the front of my thighs and my lower abdomen, the areas that were submerged longest, there are about a dozen of the creatures. A thirteenth is high on my right breast. The beasts inch along slowly but inexorably, homing towards the central target that is my vulva. The first is already only the length of my little finger away from the entrance.

I almost pass out from horror. I can’t bear the idea of having such slimy, cold things inside my body, without even thinking about what they’ll do to my mind, to my free will.

And then I too am thrashing in the water, screaming my lungs out. I’m crossing my bare thighs over each other and rubbing them together, trying to wipe the things away. It’s no good though – the leeches are stuck as firmly as they are to Palonae.

Something is in the cleft of my buttocks now, not just on the cheek but in the divide. I can feel it sliding. I tense the muscles, but the pressure isn’t enough to stop the invader moving.

Again, I scream.

I try to fight off the insanity of terror. Think Melena. I’m a soldier, and soldiers don’t panic. There’s nothing I can do to prevent them entering my backside, but if Palonae and I interlock our thighs, we might at least be able to protect each other’s pussies.

The first of the things is on the sensitive lips of my vulva now. I move towards Palonae. I only have seconds.

But she looks at me horrified when I wade towards her, and backs away against the wall of the pool. The infestation covering over me is worse than her own, and she is frightened I’ll just pass creatures across to her.

It’s too late now, anyway. I feel the first leech slip into the muscle of my anus, which dilates slightly in a sensation like I’m passing a stool in reverse. Only moments later the first leech is penetrating at the front, between my legs. The invader is still cold, not yet stealing the heat from my insides. It is completely unlike the sensation of a penis entering my vagina.

All hope is now lost. I have a cunt leech inside me. I’m infected. They’ll be latching on, breaking through to my bloodstream within minutes and beginning to feed through the poison that will break my mind. And there is nothing I can do but scream hysterically.

At the back of my throat there is surprise touch – the cock has expanded without my noticing - and I barely avoid retching. The vibrations from my screaming must have stimulated the gag, which is now almost at its largest girth.

I am forced by the engorged phallus to look up, avoiding a touch that might trigger vomiting. Salarin seems to have gone from the pit. Staring at the sky means I feel rather than see the next leech enter between my nether lips, and then another, and then another. Five of them, and then ten. They are indiscriminate as to whether they violate me from the front or the back.

I begin to feel distended with them, as though I’m in the middle of intercourse, despite there being no penis inside my body. Hopelessly defeated I give up and stand near the wall surrounding the pool, looking up at the starry sky as I wait for there to be no parasites left to rape me.

Because I’m looking in the wrong direction I barely see the rope dropping around me. But suddenly there’s a noose around my torso, wrapping under my breasts and pinning my upper arms to my back in a reverse of the process which lowered me in here. The rope goes taut and I lift, slowly, slowly, an inch at a time in gradual movements as the pulley is winched upwards. I scrabble with my toes against the floor of the pool and then I’m suspended. The water level drops to my knees, then my shins, as I rise.

I don’t understand what’s happening. The Hunters easily have man power to lift me out quickly, so why this gradually effort as if one person is doing the job alone? Perhaps they’ve given the task to a slave knowing it will frighten the girl to have to get near the contaminated Melena.

Palonae is looking up at me with anger and envy. She hates me, jealous that I’m the first to be lifted away.

It takes almost a minute before my feet are clear of the pool. Even so there are still several leeches on my calves and thighs, and all the flailing I can do or rubbing my thighs together can do nothing to dislodge them from their inexorable progress. While I kick in the empty air yet another slips into me – a slimy cold thing grazing between the lips of my pussy, and then another forces its way into my anus.

My head at last breaks the rim of the pit and I’m even more confused by what I see. Looking up to keep the gag in place I glimpse Leesha pulling me out of the water. Leesha on her own is pulling me – the rope winding through a block and pulley and then to a post, so she can raise my bodyweight even with her female upper body strength.

Why did they give her this task? I didn’t know Leesha had been caught as well. Which Hunter claimed her? The violation has not been broadcast on the screen yet. And she’s still dressed. Why have they kept her in her Rape Runner uniform, and not stripped her?

The rocky edge of the pit is sharp, and I’m distracted as I scrape my protruding breasts painfully as my torso bends over the top. Then I’m lying on my side on the dusty ground of the desert, arms folded around my waist and held by the leather restraints.

I’m gasping with fright and exertion. My struggles down there in the water must have been intense.

Leesha scrambles across to me. Crouching down next to me she pulls the noose off over my shoulders, and casts it aside. In incomprehension I look up at her. Where is her master?

“Melena, quickly, on your feet. We need to go right now!” she hisses urgently, pushing at the wet, clammy skin of my torso as she tries to lever me upright.

I moan, flexing my bound arms at her, and she understands.

“No… I’m sorry about the gag and the restraints but we can’t wait. I’ll release you when we’re somewhere safe.”

Too numb to do anything but obey I summon the strength to draw up my thigh, and Leesha pushes against me until I’m on my knees. Even kneeling is an effort - my whole body is aching and I just want to lie down. Inside me I feel stretched and I can feel things moving and shifting. I bring the sole of one foot to the ground, and gingerly get to my feet. My legs are shaking. I’m weak with fatigue.

“Come!” Leesha insists, seizing my upper arm to try and pull me along. Tentatively I begin to move with her, staring towards the stars the whole time. Up here on the surface there’s a slight breeze, but the desert night is still hot.

What about Palonae, I wonder? She is to be left there?

I can’t look down at the pool to show Leesha this question, because of the gag. I moan, but Leesha is dragging me away and I’m too weak to resist.

At last I think I understand what’s happening, but it’s too much to take in after the horrors of the pool. I’m being rescued, after all the rape, and torture, and humiliation, I’m being rescued. But I feel no emotion. After all those hours… No, was it only this afternoon Salarin caught me? Really, it was less than a day I was a slave?

What about Palonae? The poor princess is left behind.

I moan again. It is a mistake, for by making one more sound I’ve stimulated the biotech phallus filling my mouth to ejaculate again. I have to swallow back the foul-tasting sticky slop, but at least it means the cock reduces in size and after half a minute I can look around.

I would have expected Leesha to flee out into the desert, where we could lose ourselves in the ruins and rocks, getting further and further from the Hunters. But she makes her way right among the cluster of buildings.

Between two high walls is one of the ubiquitous hatches. I bump into her back as we pass it, because I’m not expecting her to stop by something useless to us. Leesha crouches down at this and with confidence enters a code on the keypad.

I hear a gentle hiss as the lock disengages, and then she opens the hatch door. Inside stone stairs lead down into a brightly lit corridor, walled in grey concrete.

“Inside, quickly!” Leesha says.

Completely bemused I obey, tentatively placing my foot on the first step, and moving cautiously down. I will sustain a serious injury if I stumble while I can’t use my folded hands to break the fall.

The floor is cool on the soles of my bare feet.

Behind me, Leesha swings the hatch door closed and quietly re-engages the lock. On the stairs she overtakes me, and gently using my upper arm to support me she tows me along the corridor.

“I know you’re tired, hon, but not far,” she says sympathetically, “and then I can untie you, and you can rest.”

Our journey only takes us a few hundred yards, but by the end of it she’s actually having to drag me. All of my physical reserves are spent and try as I might, I just can’t stay on my feet a moment longer.

27 - Tunnels

The place where Leesha permits me to rest is beside an underground crossroads. Symbols are painted on the wall in the Slaver’s script. They look like directions. Just after the junction a doorway leads into a side room, which is windowless and only twelve feet square.

It’s some kind of rest space for men working for the Slavers. There’s a cot here (with a dirty mattress but no sheets), a shower space, a sink, a toilet, and a table and chair. The room is bare and lit by a harsh tube light. There’s so little sign of any individuality in the decoration that it reminds me of some of the Republic fleet’s boot camps.

It’s hot down here underground.

“Sit,” Leesha says gently.

I look at her, my eyes tearful with gratitude. Right now she’s the most beautiful creature I could imagine. Not because the brunette is undeniably gorgeous, but because she represents hope and the chance for me that there is something beyond all these horrors.

I can’t keep on my feet, so I collapse back onto the cot, ignoring that the mattress is sore against my whip marks, and where the two guards preparing me for the pool violated my ass.

Leesha stands over me, looking tall for the first time.

Then resting one knee on the bed next to me, she reaches for the first of the buckles holding my leather restraint in place. But I moan at her, jerking my chin as a signal. I want the vile gag out my mouth first.

Leesha reaches behind my head with her small hands and she unclips the muzzle. I give a cry of relief as the phallus is pulled away from between my jaws and at last I can speak again. Strings of saliva connect me to it, only breaking when it’s discarded on the floor.

“Thank you,” I then say softly to her, abject at such kindness. “Thank you so, so much.”

My voice is croaking. I’m hoarse from screaming.

My exquisite rescuer unbuckles the jacket next, and suddenly my arms are no longer trapped around my waist. I’ve been struggling in the restraints for so long and so hard I hear my shoulders pop when I’m finally able to flex the joints. Leesha helps me pull the leather off over my hands.

Pushing myself into a sitting position I perch on the edge of the bed. Inside me I feel wrong - swollen with the leeches, but all the same I feel like I have a new lease of life.

“Where are we?” I ask.

“Service tunnels,” she answers. “They go everywhere under The Zone. They enable all the infrastructure needed to support the Rape Run.”

I rub my hands over my sore wrists, trying to get the circulation going and work out the stiffness. They’re so badly bruised the delicate skin is almost breaking.

It is natural that my next question is, “How did you know the code to get in here?” and it should be a straightforward answer, whatever it might be, but Leesha looks uncomfortable for the first time.

“Can I tell you later?” she says, turning away so her long hair hides her face. “You’ll behave… differently towards me, and we need to get to safety first. I promise you’ll know when the time is right.”

I’m desperate to understand this mystery of a Runner, and Ja-Alixxe’s cryptic “interesting choice to team up with” returns to me, but I’m not about to hurt the person that has saved me from the Slavers. If it wasn’t for Leesha I’d still be in that pool being invaded by leeches.

The leeches… I still feel distended and stretched inside, like the moments when I was roped into the frame and two men were violating me at the same time. They’ll be sucking my blood already, feeding chemicals into my bloodstream. Are they really going to make me lose my mind? Salarin said in two days they’d turn me into a “cock whore”. I need to warn my friend.

“The Slavers – they let these creatures crawl inside me, back there in the pool,” I begin, but she stops me with a raise of her hand.

“I can guess,” she says tenderly. “You don’t have to tell me about it. It will happen rapidly when you deteriorate, but I know what to watch out for and you’re safe for a couple of days.”

Shamefaced, I look down and that makes me feel worse.

My breasts are still tied around their bases, squashing them out into balloon shapes. The leather strings wrapped around my flesh must be restricting the blood supply, for my breasts have turned a strange color, darker than the rest of my skin. They’re almost purple.

The pattern of lashes from the whipping are everywhere across me.

With my fingers trembling, I pick at the knots. The faces of the two men who tied my boobs up resurface to haunt me. Two men of Salarin’s. It’s like there here in the room and its happening all over again.

They groped me much more than necessary while they forced me into the jacket, and then they tied these humiliating bands around my breasts, and then they shoved the gag in my mouth so I couldn’t scream, and finally they pushed me down into the dirt and raped me in the ass, one after the other.

One of my assailants, an unshaven man in his fifties who had an overpowering rank smell of stale sweat, was one who had anally raped me while I was in the frame as well. The other younger man with dark skin was unknown to me.

The paste that was applied to me after the mass rape had healed me, but I think these two men tore me again, judging by the sharp pain my backside if I move too suddenly.

I try to fix myself up as best as I can, massaging my sore breasts once the leather is removed. The strips I discard on a pile along with the jacket and the vile gag.

“Lie down and sleep for a few hours,” Leesha urges me in a soothing voice. “I’ll wake you up if there’s a sign of anyone in the tunnels. We’ll talk more tomorrow.”

I want to stay up with her, and thank her, over and over. But my whole body is sore and I’m exhausted, mentally as well as physically. I smell like a sewer, but that can be dealt with later. Giving in, I gratefully lie on my side on the mattress, drawing up my knees into a fetal position. Everything feels bloated inside my abdomen, as though I’m in the middle of intercourse, but there’s nothing to be done at the moment. Leesha is thinking more clearly than me. I should rest.

I’m expecting to lie awake, my mind beginning to process the trauma, so when I’m suddenly in the nightmare, reliving standing helpless in the frame while Salarin rubs the goad across my body, that makes it worse.

I wake screaming, with Leesha’s hands gently shaking my shoulders. Even though she’s my friend I recoil instinctively at contact from another human. I’m back against the corner of the bed before I understand who it is, and I begin to calm.

“It’s almost dawn on the surface,” Leesha says soothingly, hiding a wounded expression. “We’ll need to move soon, but there’s time for a shower if you want to clean yourself. You should drink too. The water will be clean, not like the bottles they give you if you call out.”

I look at the shower and realize I really do want to wash myself. As well as removing the caked human waste which stains me, I want to try and rid my skin of the feeling that I’m imprinted by countless hands.

“There are no towels,” she apologizes.

I shrug. It doesn’t matter. I’m warm. The heat from above permeates down here, and with the planet being so arid any water on me will soon dry.

I get to my feet to discover my body is still aching and sore. My thighs and buttocks are particularly painful, the welts throb and my intimate holes feel stretched by the fresh rounds of rape. Inside me the leeches distend my bowel and my vagina. They will be pumping hormones into my blood already.

I groan. Within days I’ll apparently crave a man’s penetration, but for now I can think of nothing worse than yet another penis forcing past my damaged flesh.

I take the longest shower of my life, and although I’m physically cleansed by it, it doesn’t make me feel any less soiled. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to wash away the hands and the cocks, if I spent the rest of my life in the bathroom.

But I’m young, and the young heal. Under the spray I rehydrate with water that’s blissfully pure, the warm water makes my muscles feel more comfortable, and I’m able to forget temporarily about the parasites poisoning my blood. I emerge with the first glimmerings of hope I’ve felt since being captured yesterday afternoon.

By the time I’m ready Leesha is stepping from foot to foot, trying to hide her anxious impatience. I apologize for keeping her but I had to do it. I needed that, for myself. It was a catharsis.

“Is there anything to wear?” I ask. “Slaver’s uniform, or even a slave wrap?”

“We’ll look for something along the way,” she answers. “Nothing here though. And we need to go.”

So this is how it must be - for now I am free, but my clothing has gone. Unless we find come across something, which sounds unlikely, I will be remaining naked. If the cameras are filming me as they follow Leesha, this will no doubt give a thrill to many of those watching me, who take pleasure from seeing the graceful way a woman moves whilst she is nude.

With no towel to use I resume my progress dripping wet. The concrete floors feel rough on my soles. We reach a crossroads in the neat tunnels, and then another. I have no sense of our direction but Leesha moves with assurance, only occasionally checking the symbols on the walls.

“Where are we going?” I ask.

“We need to go back to the peak. It’s essential if we’re to have a chance.”

What does she mean by “chance”? I’m doubtful if this is her plan. Maybe because images of the horrors of being captured that are still so raw, and it all started on that mountain.

“But Ja-Alixxe is up there,” I object. “She was the reason I got captured. She pushed me into a carnivorous plant, and its tendrils restrained me before I could escape.”

I pause, shuddering as I recall being dragged helplessly towards the sticky pool in the center of the flower, and then I remember the moment I admitted defeat and called for help.

“We have to go there,” Leesha insists.

At the next junction is a small store room.

It’s a cornucopia inside, loaded with everything I could need except for what I want - something to wear.

Parked in the room is a two man hoverboard, shining with new chrome and small enough to fit along the tunnel. There is even a rack of blasters of an ancient design. Weapons! But Leesha runs right past all this bounty and continues up the corridor. Perhaps she hasn’t seen it, or realized its potential, although it seemed plainly obvious to me.

I call after her in my croaking voice, and she pads back towards me.

“We can be on the peak in minutes on this,” I suggest, indicating the board.

“No…” she insists. “The other Slavers, the ones who watch us on the cameras and edit footage for the broadcasts, will think it’s too easy for us if we use transport. They’ll tip the Hunters off. The Hunters must believe we’re escaping across the surface for as long as possible.”

“And what about the weapons? Surely we take some weapons?”

“They’re just a burden. You won’t be able to use them on anyone significant,” she argues. “The implants prevent us harming a male in any way, and we’re not going to meet anything else that we have to fear.”

I pick up one of the weapons anyway, and tuck the strap over my shoulder. This will give them something to broadcast. Melena de Santo, naked except for a blaster, probably the fantasy of many men.

“For Ja-Alixxe,” I say, like a line from a corny movie.

Leesha looks disapproving but doesn’t object any further, and we resume our progress. The gun is heavy and uncomfortable, but it makes me feel safer. I keep it hefted close to me. The shoulder strap runs diagonally between my bare breasts.

I watch the back of Leesha. She is still in her Runner’s uniform, and the muscles of her backside flex with every step. She looks sexy, but my feelings to her are bemused gratitude, rather than lust.

Why won’t she talk? Leesha is clearly keeping something from me, but she’s certainly saved me from the Hunters so it must be a secret for our benefit. I have to trust her, so I keep my questions to ones she might risk answering.

“The cameras can follow us, even down here?”

“Yes,” she says, hesitating momentarily at a junction and studying the engraved script before deciding to go straight ahead. Leesha touches the wall sign as though it were braille rather than paint. “The cameras are everywhere. It is why I can’t reveal some things until it’s time. But I promise I mean you no harm.”

They’re still recording me. I’m on camera, right now. I cross my arm over my breasts and fill my nipples press into the skin. There’s no escape from them. The Slavers are everywhere in the Zone, and if I needed further proof that my freedom is an illusion it comes almost immediately.

“Hunters, the galactic audience, and females,” the deafeningly loud voice of Wagner booms from right next to me, as with every other time making my heart almost stop with the shock. My assumption is we’re about to be shown another defeat – Ja-Alixxe or Jasmeena, but no screen appears to show the unlucky victim and Wagner continues, “I have an exciting and unprecedented announcement to make.”

There is a showman’s pause, and then he tells us.

“Colonel Melena de Santo has re-entered the Rape Run. This is a first in the history of the competition. That means there are four Runners remaining – Jasmeena, Melena, Leesha, and Ja-Alixxe.”

He pauses again, as if that’s all, but then continues:

“We Slavers consider it unfair to the other Runners that Melena gets a second chance, whereas the three other remaining women weren’t dumb cunts who got themselves caught. So a handicap will be applied to our beloved Colonel Bigtits.”

“Usually the trackers you carry identify your locations to the Hunters only as ‘a Runner’. Melena’s tracker will be configured to show her personal identity, every hour of the day. Furthermore as well as the Hunters, the other Runners will also be given Melena’s location every hour. Any Runner who captures or harms Melena will be rewarded.”

“This ends the announcement.”

Wagner says no more, but his voice echoes back along the corridor.

My positivity that had started to rekindle since my rescue vanished the moment Wagner revealed the handicap imposed on me. There would be no chance of my being the winner when everyone in the Zone knows my location, and everyone is out to get me. And by staying with my friend I’m only bringing Leesha into danger.

“That’s it then,” I tell her firmly. “You have to leave me. And all of them – Hunters and Runners - know that another tracker signal moving with me can only be you. Leave me and save yourself.”

Leesha gives me a brief grin, and then starts to trot along the tunnel once again.

“Leesha, seriously,” I demand, stamping my bare foot. “Let me out at the next hatch, and get away while you can.”

“We can handle this,” she calls back, nonchalantly. “Follow me.”

But I’m not moving. One question I need answered straight away.

“Why did you save me?” I ask Leesha. “There can be only one winner of the Rape Run. If we’re the last two and we’re caught together, they’ll only make us compete in some cruel way, or they’ll choose a favorite to be the survivor. We’ll end up as enemies in the end.”

Leesha turns back to me, standing close. She’s started smiling, and it’s furtive, almost wicked.

“And what if there was a way we could both win? Wouldn’t that show the Slavers… show the whole galaxy, that things could be different? Would women start to hope, again?”

“That’s impossible,” I say, “How can two Rape Runners change everything, in a whole planet full of armed men?”

Her smile gets wider still. Leesha wraps her arms around my neck and leans in as if she’s about to kiss me, but her mouth moves to my ear, not my face, sinking into the red tresses of my hair.

Then in the quietest possible voice, so not even the cameras of the audience can hear her, she whispers just one word.

“Ship.”

28 - Seventh

My mouth actually hangs open, like a bad cliché, as the planet of Aghara-Penthay, my life, and my future all take a huge mental shift. She said “ship”. She actually said “ship”. Leesha knows where there’s a ship, down here in the Zone. A ship. That means we might be able to leave. Not just one – the survivor. All of us – Jasmeena, Leesha, me, even Ja-Alixxe. There might actually be a chance we could get out of this.

“But where…” too astonished to think I’ve begun to speak, and Leesha pushes her small hand against my mouth to silence me. We’re on camera. The audience mustn’t know, those operating the screens would tip off the Hunters. We must seem like any other uneasy alliance of convenience in the Rape Run, until the moment it’s too late for them to stop us.

I nod, to show to Leesha I’ve understood the need for secrecy. Slowly she lowers her hand.

Then with a satisfied pat to my bare shoulder she turns from me, and resumes her quiet progress up the corridor. I pad along behind her, stark naked but carrying a blaster.

We continue this way for what feels like a long time – perhaps two hours. Unlike the buildings on the surface, everything below ground looks to be of recent construction, and well maintained. Periodically we pass ante-rooms, for the Slavers to rest, store items, and perform the functions of human life. But in none of them is a stitch of clothing.

At one junction we witness something heartbreaking. Grilled cages are embedded into the underground walls, and just over half of them are occupied by naked slave women. These females shrink back as we approach, captivity instilling in them to fear any approaching human. It takes a few moments for them to be sufficiently reassured that we too are only women, and then the bolder ones approach the bars to look at us, locking fingers in the wire grids of the cage doors.

The cages are locked by keypads, like the ones used to control entry to the hatches.

“Can we help them?” I ask Leesha, my heart twisting in sympathy. “I can open the doors with the blaster even if you don’t have the code.”

I know what must be the answer. If I let just one of these females go, the Slavers would know we had some plan far beyond an alliance. The camera operators would alert the Hunters to the danger of a rebellion by the slaves. And that would be the penalty for letting just for one woman loose. There are dozens of them here.

The one closest to me is a nubile woman, with long straight hair and skin as dark as mahogany. Her breasts are full and ripe. She kneels on the other side of the bars, saying nothing but watching me curiously. Her thighs are apart and I have a clear view of her pudenda. The woman’s face is marked, against her flesh the Slaver symbol moon pale instead of dark.

I reach to the bars and close my hand comfortingly over hers.

“During the Rape Run, the captive Runners are not enough to satisfy the needs of all the men,” Leesha says from behind me. “Here is where they keep women for the use of the support workers.”

I give the dark-skinned girl’s fingers a squeeze. She is beautiful. No doubt the men use her frequently.

“Men come down here a lot,” Leesha says. “We’re not safe here.”

So I offer no resistance as Leesha takes hold of my upper arm, urging me to continue. I only briefly say “Sorry” to the women before departing, not wanting to stay longer in front of so many accusatory eyes.

At a time that I conjecture in the artificial light must be mid-morning, we come across a galley room with a well-stocked larder. There I wolf down my first proper meal since arriving on this barbaric planet. I am doomed unless my leeches are removed within days, but it still feels like a temporary victory to eat food meant for Slavers, and not gruel for slaves.

Leesha and I say little during the meal break. It’s not safe to converse. She’s keeping secrets for a reason, concealing them from the cameras more than from me.

Afterwards I feel too full. My first rich meal for some time filling my belly combines with the sensation of parasites swelling in both my vagina and my bowel. I have to rush to the bathroom to void myself, and even after there’s nothing left in my stomach I still feel bloated.

Just as we’re leaving the galley, I notice something completely out of place for this world of horror. There is a child’s doll on the floor, a blue-eyed baby with blonde curly hair, dressed in a miniature romper suit. It’s lying on its back and staring blindly up to the ceiling.

I feel a surge of sympathy for the thing. I don’t know how it got here but it doesn’t deserve to decay on this cruel world. Its wide eyes appeal to me for protection more strongly than if it could talk.

I pick up the doll and hold it to me, its head between my naked breasts. We abandoned those women back at the cages, but here is one small thing I can save, against all the odds. Perhaps it will keep the image of their faces away from me, watching in silent judgement as I left them there.

Leesha looks as if she’s about to say something, and then changes her mind.

We continue.

Over the last couple of days I’ve begun to hate the moment when the video screen bursts into life, even though each time it does so it represents a greater chance of my own survival.

But when it happens and I jump out my skin yet again, who has been caught? Leesha and I are together. That means there’s only two possibilities - Jasmeena, or Ja-Alixxe.

We see a scene of Hunter’s men first, spread out in a search line across sand dunes. Each Slaver carries a thin flexible pole of metal, and the footage shows us their use. The poles are so narrow they slip into the sand easily. The men use them to probe in the dunes for solid objects.

One of these men calls out to his fellows, raising his arm. His comrades converge and from the sand they pull a woman. She is exotic-looking, with raven-black hair and skin the color of coffee. She is dressed in the uniform of a Rape Runner.

Jasmeena.

She holds a tube in her hand, something intended to let her breathe under the surface. She must have scavenged it somewhere. It was a clever tactic – the Hunters could have walked right over her and not found her. Until they began to probe, that is.

But who caught her?

In the next shot Jasmeena is lying on her back on a rectangular packing crate. Her head rests against a wooden pillar which seems to run from floor to ceiling, pushing her chin forward almost to her chest. We soon see the purpose of this post is not just to serve as a prop.

Jasmeena’s ankles are roped to it, trapping her feet above her head, so her knees are drawn up either side of her ears. This position, like squatting but flipped onto her back, makes the view of her sex obscene, both lifting her thighs away from covering the intimate place, and forcing her back to arch, presenting her vulva more completely. With her knees apart her vagina actually gapes open like a pale pink tunnel.

They seem to have bound her hands, somewhere down low out of sight so she can’t free her legs or move her torso from the crate. She just has to lie there, with her sex so dreadfully vulnerable.

The voice of Wagner in a light tone observes, “That pose doesn’t leave much to the imagination, does it? What a whore!”

Our view of the woman is blocked by the movement of a large body. I recognize the blue tinted skin. Jackran-ad-aktar.

“Oh God, no!” I cry, lifting my hand to my mouth, and my cry of horror matches one with the woman on the screen.

Jasmeena, I recall from the parade, surprised us by coming from a conservative society but not wearing the scarf to show her a virgin. She knows what it feels like to have a penis inside her, as I too have learnt over and over in this past day. So she knows how much being stretched by a cock of that size will hurt.

Perhaps that makes her anticipation of what’s about to happen worse, for Jasmeena begins to panic, struggling ferociously as the alien moves to stand at her pelvis, but only managing to waggle those presented holes a couple of inches side-to-side.

The Alien is already hard, the phallus gigantic in relation to the helpless woman’s slender frame. Please, someone has to stop this. He’ll reach to her belly button. She’ll be killed.

Jackran-ad-aktar holds the head of his vast organ against Jasmeena’s gaping opening. She looks up at him, her eyes wide with horror.

“No, no, no, no, no!” she pleads in increasing volume. The last “no” is abruptly cut off as he rams himself into her. Our view zooms into close up.

We actually see her skin rip, unable to tolerate the strain of being stretched around such a girth. Blood begins to trickle down around his organ. Jasmeena screams during each of his first few thrusts and then she faints. After that, while Jackran-ad-aktar continues to rape her she lolls as limp as a ragdoll. Her breasts bounce in rhythm to his thrusts.

Revulsion wells up in me. I turn away from the screen with my gorge rising. My stomach is empty but I think I’m going to be sick anyway.

“There’s a girl who knows for sure she’s been fucked,” comments Wagner in good humor. “Yup… she’ll be walking with her legs apart for weeks.”

His words as much as the images tip me over the edge. I stoop forwards and vomit anything left in my belly onto the concrete floor.

My stomach heaves a second and third time, and only then am I sure I have my gorge back under control. I straighten up, wiping a string of slime away with the back of my hand.

The screen has vanished. My labored breathing sounds loud in the quiet corridor. Leesha looks at me with an expression more fearful than I’ve seen on her before.

“There’s no one left but us and Ja-Alixxe now,” she says. “And we’re heading for the same place where she was – that mountain. The four Hunters can concentrate their efforts. They’ll all go to the peak. We need to move very quickly.”

Leesha starts to break into a trot, resuming her progress through the tunnels. I don’t need any more encouragement to follow her. With the weapon cradled in one arm and my doll in the other, I run to catch up with my friend.

29 - Peak

When we emerge from the tunnels the sun is high in the sky. It’s a blistering hot day, even by the standards of Aghara-Penthay. The rocky ground burns the tender soles of my bare feet, and I have to keep moving, only permitting one foot to be down at a time and then stepping before the pain becomes too intense.

When I was underground I’d thought it wasn’t much cooler than on the surface because I’d been sweating down there. But no.

After an eternity moving along the passages Leesha’s route had begun to take us up stairwell after stairwell. This brought fresh misery for me. My leg muscles weren’t yet recovered from straining in bondage while I was raped and tortured. Tired thighs and my damaged anus were screaming in protest by the time we’d ascended what seemed like fifty, or maybe seventy, staircases. All the while the cramps in my abdomen have been getting steadily worse, and when I rub my core absentmindedly I find I’m wet with an unnaturally cold slickness.

In the heat of the sun, I collapse to rest. Getting my bearings I see we’re on one of the rocky pathways that wind their way along precipice after precipice up towards the rim of the bowl. While I gasp with exhaustion Leesha pushes the door into the underworld closed. The electronic lock set into the cliff behind us seals the exit with a whoosh of machinery.

She sinks down next to me and we pause to hydrate, calling docilely out for sperm. We must act as if we’re following the rules, like obedient little women.

From our high viewpoint we can see right across the huge crater that is the Zone. The ancient buildings shimmer in the heat haze. In the far distance I can see dunes of red sand – the place where Jasmeena hid for most of the Run. Further round the perimeter circumference a huge structure like a fort intersects the sloping side of the bowl. Another of the dust devils kicks up a small cloud as it twists across the plain.

My gaze does not study the far away for long though. Close by, near the place where the floor of the crater starts to slope up to the peak, plumes of dust are visible. Four of them, the dirt being thrown by rapidly moving vehicles. Hunters, and all of the Hunters, are converging on our location at alarming speed.

Painfully I get to my feet, feeling something alien shift inside my body at the same time.

“Men are coming,” I say unnecessarily. “The Run will be over soon.”

“We’re nearly there,” Leesha says reassuringly.

We move wearily along the ledge and I find myself abruptly at the plateau on the top of the ridge. I break out in a cold sweat as I see that same sunken depression where the carnivorous plant waits. Some of leaves look mangled, damaged by the Slaver’s efforts to remove me, but the thing is still alive.

“This is where I was captured,” I tell Leesha. “Ja-Alixxe pushed me into that plant.”

“Let’s go,” she tells me. “Don’t think about. We’ll soon be somewhere where we can… hide from the Hunters.”

I understand the emphasis in her voice.

I risk a glance back and gesture out to the valley. The pursuit is getting closer and closer. Panic starts to rise in me.

“We’re not going to make it.”

She doesn’t know what it’s like when they catch you, so she’s moving steadily and calmly, but I’m almost paralyzed with fright. While I fight my growing terror, Leesha has to help me the short distance across the plateau.

I keep looking back. The nearest speeder is at the base of the slope, making a line directly up the steep hill. The Hunters will be on us in minutes, and Leesha and I will be caught together. Unless they pass right over Ja-Alixxe before reaching us, the Rape Run will end in the two of us being captured on top of this ridge.

“No,” I moan.

I’d rather die than be taken again, but my implant might not even give me the choice to throw myself from the cliffs.

“They’re gaining,” I say desperately.

But Leesha, instead of running for her life, has stopped entirely. She starts to laugh, a deep, hearty sound I’ve never heard from her before. I look at her with incomprehension, thinking she must have gone hysterical, but she just says, “I think we might just make it,” laughing with such relief her eyes start to water.

I look back down towards the floor of The Zone. No, Leesha. We won’t make it. The speeder is halfway up the slope. He’ll see us any moment now, and we’re lost.

“They’re going to catch us. Hide!” I wail, astonished that she can’t see the urgency of our peril.

“It’s okay Melena, look” Leesha says, elated, pointing the other way, down the far slope into the desert.

I do look. I’m seeing the view down beyond the crater. A sloping rock face, littered with boulders and scree, finishes at sand dunes that roll like waves. Last time I stood here the view went on as far as the eye can see.

And at last I understand.

It’s enormous, a wall of billowing red cloud, darker than my hair stretching from one end of the horizon to the other, rolling towards us at incredible speed.

A sandstorm.

Behind us I can see the man in the lead speeder pointing, he’s seen us, but his shout is cut off as the first siren sounds, a banshee wail rising and falling across the vast crater.

The man looks as if he’s debating continuing, loathe to give us up when he’s so close. He actually shakes his fist in frustration but then he turns and scoots off back down towards the base of the crater.

“I know a perfect place to shelter,” Leesha says giving me a meaningful look. “That way. It isn’t far,” and she indicates where a treacherous ledge starts descending around the outside of the peak.

She pauses, actually counting seconds as though waiting for something, and then seems to relax.

“The cameras will be off now. They can’t fly in the strong winds during a sandstorm and the men have to put them to ground straight after as the siren sounds.”

Leesha grasps my arms, looking at me intently.

“It’s now or never. The cameras are gone, Melena, but our trackers will still be active so they know where we are. And we’re about to cross beyond the perimeter of the Zone, into the place forbidden to Runners. Once we begin down this path open season on us is declared. We’ve broken the rules of the Rape Run and unless we escape, after the storm passes the Hunters will be sent straight to us.”

There is no alternative. We’re doomed if we stay here. I’m only a day and a half from turning into a “cock whore”. My only hope is under the care of the medics of the Republic fleet.

“Let’s go.” I say, determinedly.

“Then run, Melena,” Leesha says, and she breaks into a sprint.

And I do run, following her into the taboo place with the edge of the storm only moments away. I can see lightning flickering deep within the towering, tumbling cloud.

The path descents steeply. We’re on a ledge only a couple of feet wide, with a vertical rock wall on our left hand side and a drop over the edge of hundreds of feet on our right.

Over the years some dust and sand has gathered on here, which makes it slippery. It’s probably not too bad in the rubber-soled slippers of the Rape Runner uniform Leesha is wearing, but in bare feet it is much more treacherous. I lose my footing at one point and fall heavily into a bruising slide along my naked backside. It almost takes me over the edge – I’m left with lower legs dangling into open air before I scrabble back, terrified.

The terrain could have been worse though – a scramble over sharp rock would have been impassable to a naked woman. I’m back on my feet, and running again without thought to the risk of plunging to my death. Better a few horrific seconds fall to the rocks that than the alternatives back there in The Zone.

For an instant it sounds as if someone else is behind me – there is the noise of stones skittering, but then I hear nothing but the roaring wind as the sandstorm catches us, right there out on the exposed mountain side.

Sand blasts me back against the cliff. It’s hitting me so hard it feels like it’s peeling my skin. The wind is insane. We’re this close to salvation and the end of the Run, but the hurricane is trying to tear me off the edge as though it’s on the side of the Slavers. It’s impossible to open my eyes. All I can do it hold onto the cliff at my side and inch along the path, feeling my way with bare toes. If we come to steps or a section where I can’t hold anything for support, like a rock bridge through the open air – I’m lost.

I can’t hear a thing over the roaring of the gale and the rumbles of thunder that make the ground shake. I have my eyes almost squeezed closed against the razor sharp sand, so when Leesha stops suddenly I almost run into her back and push her off the cliff. Shielding my face with my arm I risk peeking for just a moment and I see it, part of what must be a vast steel door facing out from the cliff into the empty air. The door is made of metal slats, designed to retract on rollers into the ceiling of… What?

She has triggered something to open it. It seems like the grill retracts with interminable slowness, but at last we tumble in, propelled by a particularly ferocious gust. There’s less sand being blown in here and I can thankfully open my eyes enough to see it. A large cavern, filled with tools and equipment to supply – the ship. It’s a vintage design, a classic, made to carry a few people at speed rather than configured for heavy loads. There are no weapons mounted on the vessel. Nimbleness and pace are its protection.

Leesha is already toggling a lever to roll the metal door back down while I marvel that we’re really here, standing in front of our chance at escape.

We only just made it. All the areas of exposed skin on her have turned pink from being flayed by the sand. I look down at myself and see my whole naked body has turned the same angry looking rose color.

The ship is old, but it looks to be in good condition. A fuel line blinks with a flashing green light.

We should feel safe now, but even here in this secret place is evidence we are in the domain of the Slavers. Shackles are embedded into the rock walls – enough to secure several women for the use of the ship’s owner.

Behind me the sound and the fury of the storm starts to recede as the door rattles slowly downwards.

I only have eyes for what’s in the cave. Discarded casually by one set of chains is something that makes my heart leap almost as much at the sight of the ship – a scarlet slave wrap. My first clothing for twenty four hours.

I bend down eagerly and snatch up the meagre bundle of satin fabric. It’s revealing, but a great deal better than the vulnerable sensation of being naked.

Meanwhile Leesha is attending to ship, uncoupling the fuel line ready for departure. She has confidently programmed a panel and already has the vessel’s entry hatch open. There’s no time to ask how she knows about this place, or how to work the ship. Let’s get away first, and seek explanations later.

Sand is an inch deep over the floor, after only these few seconds of the cavern being exposed.

The hanger door is three-quarters closed in its gradual progress, and the sounds of the ferocious tempest battering the outside are receding. I’m already reaching under my arm to tie the wrap into place. And then I see it – something that stops me in my tracks.

Just before the grill closes completely the figure of a woman comes rolling through, a dark haired female with her skin scored to the same pink as ours, dressed in the tight revealing uniform of a Rape Runner.

Ja-Alixxe is here.

30 - Eighth

With the reflexes of a soldier I seize the blaster, letting the wrap and my doll tumble to the floor. Ja-Alixxe gets slowly to her feet, keeping her eyes fixed on me, her hands part raised as if warding me off.

Leesha has frozen, part way through attending to a panel of electronics on the side of the ship.

The only noise is from the door, which clatters shut, leaving it almost quiet in the cave.

Ja-Alixxe is covered in red dust, and the storm hasn’t done much for her skin, but otherwise she looks unharmed and in good condition. Her expression is sheepishly confident. She looks almost relaxed.

“Are you going to shoot me, then, Colonel?” she begins wryly. “Even though I’m an unarmed civilian, and you know my actions against you were never personal?”

This easy amusement makes me suddenly furious.

“You let them rape me!” I declare indignantly, levelling the sights at her. “They tortured me and raped me. I should blast you into infinity for what you’ve put me through.”

Still she stands there, bold in the face of my blaster.

“You’re not a cold-blooded murderer, Melena. You wouldn’t kill me for doing what I needed to, to survive.”

I want even more to shoot her, for being so self-assured and for looking so unruffled when I’ve been through every humiliation man can inflict on woman. And it was her fault.

“I might not blast you but we can leave you here,” I spit furiously. “The Hunters can do to you what they did to me.” Maliciously, I add, “The Alien likes you, you know. At least that ordeal I was spared. Let me know how it feels, losing your virginity to his cock.”

Ja-Alixxe shakes her head.

“You’re not needlessly cruel, either, Melena. You won’t sacrifice a fellow female to the Slavers, even if it’s me.”

“I will. Get out,” I insist. “Leesha – open the door again and if she doesn’t leave I’ll prove I can shoot her.”

Ja-Alixxe smiles yet again. Damn her smugness.

“Yes… nice to see you, Leesh,” Ja-Alixxe briefly greets my savior with a vicious smile, and then she turns back to me.

“Tell you what, Melena,” Ja-Alixxe says calmly. “Just let me tell you what I know about your lover, and if you still feel the same way I’ll go. If you change your mind – I’ll be the one to fly us out. Let her be the woman left to the Slavers.”

Abandon Leesha? She’s lost her mind. It’s such an outrageous suggestion I scoff.

“Leesha saved me. I owe her my life. I’d still be in Salarin’s clutches if it wasn’t for her.”

“She only saved you to save herself,” Ja-Alixxe retorts with a shake of her head. “Because you, Melena, are the only one she can be sure would make a difference when the two of you escaped.”

“What do you mean ’only one’?” I demand. “And make what difference?”

I look across to Leesha, expecting to see my friend as dumbfounded as I am by these stupid allegations. I’m surprised to see my brunette ally looking panicked.

“Shoot her,” Leesha suddenly urges me, “shoot her quickly, before the Hunters arrive.”

But Ja-Alixxe had one thing right. I’m not going to blast an unarmed female civilian without a good reason.

“Tell her who you are,” Ja-Alixxe presses Leesha. “Or I will.”

Leesha looks silently from me to Ja-Alixxe and back, her fists clenched with suppressed tension. Then seems to abruptly admit defeat. She spins on her heel and returns to programming the panel on the side of the ship, keeping her back to both of us.

“Do what you must,” Leesha says testily.

I turn in bemusement to Ja-Alixxe, who now looks victorious.

“See? Just as I expected. Always the coward, around women. OK. Just wait until you hear this.”

Ja-Alixxe pauses, savoring being the one with the secret for one last moment, and then she says it. “Standing there is Leshan, the Hunter, Faction leader of the Slavers of Aghara-Penthay.”

I look at the slim beautiful form of the slave, Leesha. No, it’s a crazy idea. Ja-Alixxe has lost her mind. How can the bounty hunter possibly believe that?

“Think about it, Melena. They can do anything in a healing tank, even turn a man’s body into a woman’s,” Ja-Alixxe presses, and then pauses to consider my friend. “Something about the eyes is still Leshan, though. They didn’t change that. And they can’t change the person. I saw it in her expression as soon as they pushed her back into our cell. She looked terrified of me, me in particular, even though we’d supposedly never met before.”

“Just tell me it’s not true,” I plead to Leesha, “and we’ll leave this bitch behind.”

Ja-Alixxe is pressing her point.

“As soon as I figured who she was, Melena, I remember thinking, ‘what would be the game plan of a Slaver turned into a slave woman?’. It would be a very tricky situation… The Galactic audience would know who she was. Even if she was the survivor of the Rape Run, Leesha would get life imprisonment once she was released to the Republic. It’s not much of a choice – live food on Aghara-Penthay, or life imprisonment in the Republic.”

“Yes, I thought. An ex-Hunter as the survivor would be almost worse off than a quick death a slave, unless… unless…” (And Ja-Alixxe shakes her hand to emphasize her point), “Unless that Hunter redeemed themselves by making a friend. And no-one was more precious to the authorities than the brave symbol of the Republic, Colonel Melena de Santo.”

“And what do you know, but of all nine women in the pen she homed straight in on you. And then she’s very specific about telling you where she needs you to be – only on the peak would do. How could a lowly slave know her way around so well? When I overheard the two of you, I knew that Leshan wouldn’t be bringing you up here without a very good reason. But I thought she planned to show enough of her nice side to win some favor in the Republic, and then dump you at the very end. I didn’t dare hope for this,” (and she indicates the ship), “not back then.”

Leesha is watching us again. Her expression is desperate.

“Tell me this isn’t true,” I repeat more urgently.

“Then when I was hiding up here on the peak, waiting for you,” Ja-Alixxe says, “I saw her come out one of the hatches. And that made me certain it was Leshan. That was why I pushed you into the plant – I wanted to usurp your place. Sorry Melena, the game was still about nothing but survival then. I’d rather I was safe in Leshan’s love nest than you.”

“Once you were caught, I was expecting to become her new best friend next time she emerged from the tunnel. But I didn’t see Leshan on the mountainside again. And then something entirely unexpected happened. The cowardly Leshan took the huge risk of going to rescue you.”

“When I heard the announcement that you were back in the Run, it could mean only one thing. Leshan wouldn’t have even saved you when the rules said there could only be one survivor. Unless he knew something we didn’t - that there was a way to leave, and take you with him. And if there was a way, it had to be a ship, a ship in The Zone, and it had to be there on the peak. Sure enough, your signal that they helpfully showed me, side by side with her, came right back for here where we all left off, straight as an arrow.”

“How dumb did I feel then? If I’d not pushed you into the plant, we could have all left together. We could have been off this shitty planet yesterday afternoon. Sorry Melena. Everything I put you through was pointless.”

The blaster has drooped, and I raise it to point at her again. The torture I endured, all that pain and rape and humiliation, could have been avoided?

“You’re just messing with me, Ja-Alixxe,” I insist. “None of this proves that Leesha is Leshan, and she’s not merely a slave of Leshan’s who happened to know the codes.”

“Look at the evidence,” Ja-Alixxe retorts. “Why didn’t Leesha leave straight away, seeing how she knew where the ship was? That’s pretty noble for a common slave, hanging around all that time and going back to rescue you while Hunters were homing in. All for someone she’d slept with once.”

“Tell me this isn’t true,” I beg Leesha again.

But she doesn’t deny it. I look at my friend and feel sick. Ja-Alixxe is right, and everything makes sense.

This is why Leesha knows the code to the hatches. And why she knew about the injections between my legs. And why she knew what the leeches do. And why she knew to direct me to the mountain peak. And why she knew the cameras would follow us in the tunnels, but wouldn’t be able to see us in the sandstorm.

“You rescued me to help you win clemency, didn’t you?” I moan.

“If I get you out of here you can guarantee I’ll be given sanctuary with the Republican fleet?” Leesha asks in a wheedling voice, confirming everything.

“I can fly that ship,” Ja-Alixxe insists. “Leave the Hunter to the punishment he deserves.”

“But I saved you…” Leesha whines.

“Those shackles on the walls,” Ja-Alixxe interrupts. “They are fitted there for Leshan’s slaves. If things were different you’d be locked there begging him, Melena. I’d have been chained to that wall as well.”

I look around the cavern with fresh eyes. Leesha knew this secret place was here, because Leshan knew it was here. His little private hidey hole ready for emergencies. But Leshan wasn’t going to leave without the comforts he always enjoyed, was he? How many women has he had there, chained and terrified while he tinkered with his hobby ship? That could have been me. And then a new and terrible question bubbles up in me.

“Which of us did you kidnap for the Rape Run?” I demand. “Was it me?”

Leesha shakes her head, but I can see from her horrified expression what the truth is. It was Leshan, and not Salarin, who had me kidnapped. I would be on the Republic ship, if it wasn’t for both the people standing here in this cave, but most of the blame is with the young brunette.

Something in me snaps. I raise the blaster and point it right at Leesha.

“You can’t shoot me, I’m a male, the implant will stop you!” she gabbles in rapid, urgent speech, hands raised in surrender.

But no impulse from my mind overrides my will as I pull back the trigger. The detonation from the gun is thunderous in the confined cavern and there is a blinding flash of light.

Leesha is thrown backwards against the side of the ship. When the spots of bright light clear from my eyes I can see from the blackened smoking hole in the middle of her chest that Leesha, who was once the Hunter Leshan, is already dead.

31 - Victory

According to the rules of the Rape Run, the Slavers are obliged to shelter until the sandstorm passes over. But we’ve broken those rules, which means they can too.

So we’re expecting the Slavers to be waiting the moment we open the steel door of the cavern. Ja-alixxe and I agree that rather than linger any longer than necessary in their gun sights, while that steel grille rattles up with its painful slowness, I will operate the lever opening the door, and then I’ll run back to jump into the ship, which Ja-Alixxe will already have moving.

I have to trust that she won’t betray me yet again – the woman who kidnapped me, sold me to slave traders, and then pushed me into captivity a second time. But there’s no other way. Ja-Alixxe is the only one who can fly.

When we make our move, the sandstorm sirens haven’t yet called to sound the all clear, but the noise of the tempest isn’t quite as thunderous as it was at its peak. We’re willing to gamble that the engines in this old crate won’t clog with sand and bring the ship crashing into the desert.

As expected, after I hit the button to set everything in motion, the moment the door begins rolling up blaster bolts begin coming out of the red cloud towards us. I can’t see who is firing – only flashes of white as bright as lightning from within the murk. The sound of detonations where the bolts strike around us is even louder than the roaring ship’s engines.

One blast hits the wall of the cave just above me and sharp splinters of rock rain down, but I move through the scattering debris purely on adrenaline and instinct.

Military training and combat experience serves me well here. With urgency but no panic I run for the moving hatch of the ship. The main cavern door is already high enough by this point that the wind starts to buffet me, even this far back in the shelter of the cave.

A blaster bolt hits the ship dead-on, but Ja-Alixxe has the front shield armed and the vessel merely recoils, almost crashing back against the rear wall of the cavern. Then the craft is rolling forward again. As the hatch passes in front of me a second time I throw myself in at a dive to land with a thud on the grilled floor of the ship.

“I’m in, punch it!” I call to Ja-Alixxe, and I’m immediately tossed towards the back of the ship like a ragdoll by several gees of acceleration as she throttles the engines to full.

I can hear the sound of blasts impacting the side of the ship and the noise of millions upon millions of tiny grains of sand crashing into the shield at high speed from our plunge into the storm. I’m being thrown around the hold like I’m on a rodeo horse, and my shoulder slams painfully into an equipment panel, but I feel the least frightened I’ve been since I was captured, way back on the Republic cruiser. We might be about to disintegrate, but death here will be a mercy compared to sexual slavery.

Then the noise of the sand stops, a moment later the firing stops, and our climb steepens.

Ja-Alixxe must have switched on the artificial gravity, because suddenly I can get up and walk to the seat next to her up front in the cockpit. Moving is as easy as if I were on the ground.

Standing by her side I look out at the panorama from the cockpit. The scene of the rapidly scrolling landscape of Aghara-Penthay falling away underneath us contradicts my sense of balance, which tells me I’m standing still. Ja-Alixxe performs a slow roll so the planet changes from underneath us to above.

Ahead out the window the sky is already darkening. Thank the Gods. Space.

On the complicated dashboard of instruments before our seats, the communications panel of the ship suddenly bursts into life.

“Departing ship, this is Aghara-Penthay control,” but the authoritative voice never finishes its sentence.

There is a deafening detonation and a burst of sparks as Ja-alixxe snatches the blaster (mine) from next to her, and shoots the panel. Fragments of circuit boards fly everywhere and acrid smelling black smoke rises from the burnt electronics.

“What did you do that for?” I protest. “We could have called the Republic for help.”

“The Slavers will have fully activated our implants now they know we’ve escaped,” she answers, setting the gun down calmly. “We can’t risk listening to a male voice until we’re somewhere safe. If one of the Slavers tells us to land and complete the tournament, we’ll be compelled to obey.”

I look at the ruined panel in shock, realizing how close we came to docilely turning round. My hand flies unconsciously to the back of my head, and I press the spot where the microchip was injected into my brain stem. Ja-Alixxe is quite right.

“You saved us,” I say softly.

“Twice,” Ja-Alixxe says, a little smugly. “Once from Leshan, and this was the second. But we’re not out yet Colonel. We have to get through the planet’s defense grid before we can relax. I might still get us killed.”

My fingers remain buried in my hairline. I can’t even feel where it is, the chip. Such a small thing to change someone’s life.

“I’m not sure my implant works,” I tell her. “I’ve not noticed anything.”

She looks at me slightly scornfully.

“There are failures occasionally,” I feel obliged to add.

By repeating this I’m partly trying to convince myself, but I can’t bear the idea of a half-life like that woman Beyala led, unable to refuse a single command if it was spoken by man.

“Believe that if it helps,” she says, her tone more gentle.

I sit down and buckle myself into the seat next to her.

In front of us out the cockpit window the sky has turned black and the million stars are beginning to shine. Ja-Alixxe has rotated the ship at some point without me noticing, and now the red sphere of Aghara-Penthay rolls above us. It looks barren but peaceful. Beautiful, even. There is no indication of the terrible suffering going on down there.

On the surface where a soldier’s skills were needed I had a purpose. Now we’re in space I can do nothing to help us. I am seated at Ja-Alixxe’s right. The open side of my slave wrap, at my left, is towards her.

I didn’t feel self-conscious the whole time I was down there on the surface, but now I’m on the ship I pull at the hem of my brief clothing, trying to pull it down over my bare legs.

On Aghara-Penthay my attire was normal for a female. In the reality of space and the Republic, I’m aware how vulnerable being scantily dressed makes me. I long for my full jumpsuit, including the heavy padded armor of Republican troops.

“There’s a grid of mines surrounding the planet,” Ja-Alixxe interrupts me, “Like a net over a piece of fruit, covering everywhere except the approach to the station. If you get too close to one they explode, but we can’t use the usual approach pipe – too well defended by cannons and blasters. We’ll never make it through. Our best chance is to go into hyperspace and hope our ship’s signature doesn’t trigger a mine. But it’s risky, Melena. We might be dead before we know it.”

“Will our implants prevent us doing something that dangerous?” I ask.

“Only one way to find out. Everything in life has risk, and as there’s only a chance we’re about to be vaporized the chips might not block us.”

At that point the ship lurches to the side, as though we’ve just been slapped by a gigantic hand.

“Interceptor on our tail. Closing fast,” Ja-Alixxe says. “He’s firing.”

“Do it – hyperspace,” I say firmly. “I’d rather be dead than go back down there.”

“I agree,” Ja-Alixxe says, and reaches out to decisively tap keys on one of the navigational computers. A large button lights up blue – the hyper drive initiator.

“If you think your implant isn’t working, you press that,” Ja-Alixxe says, indicating the button. “But if neither of us can bring ourselves to push it, they’ll have us in a tractor beam in a minute.”

I reach out, and my hand hovers over the button.

Our eyes briefly meet.

“If we’re about to die, I forgive you for what you did to me,” I truthfully say.

The plastic button is just below my palm. This might be it, Melena de Santo gone in a matter of seconds, obliterated by a head-on collision too fast to ever know what happened. Existing one moment, gone the next. My stomach knots, survival instinct screaming contradictory instructions.

A claxon sounds and a red light flashes on the control panel. I can feel a deep vibration resonating through the ship.

“Tractor beam.” Ja-Alixxe snaps, turning back to face front. “Now, Melena.”

I commit. I’m no slave. I thump down my fist decisively on the button.

And then the motionless stars in front of us turn to streaks of light as we jump to a speed beyond the physics of the universe.

I actually cheer. I already know we’ve made it – our obliteration would have been in the first instant, and the truth that I’m sentient means I survived.

“We’ve escaped Aghara-Penthay. We’ve actually escaped Aghara-Penthay,” I crow. “Fuck you, Slavers.”

Ja-Alixxe, smiling with warmth instead of malice for the first time since I met her, turns to me.

“Well done, Colonel de Santo.”

Spontaneously we embrace, and as the stars streak past leaving the world of the Slavers light years behind us, both of us are able to cry.

32 - Epilogue

The deep space trading station of Escarod is not one of the most salubrious places in the galaxy, but I’ll take it any day over Aghara-Penthay.

The station is independently owned and not part of the vast empire that counts itself as Republic space, but it is the closest place to Aghara-Penthay with a Republic field office.

In an old ship, even the short hop to here took over a day. It seemed like an eternity when I had the cold words of Salarin hanging over me – “Within a couple of days of being infected, the hormone concentration in her blood reaches a critical level and a change suddenly comes over a host female. She becomes insane with desperation to mate. She’s been turned to a raving cock-whore.”

But salvation is within my grasp. I only have to hold on for minutes more, less than an hour, without losing my mind. As soon as I make contact with the Republican forces I’ll explain what’s about to happen to me, appeal to them to keep me away from men, and I’ll be safe in their protection. Medics will remove the leeches. They’ll return me to the general.

I’ll always be known as the woman who lost and was gang banged in the Rape Run, but as someone who managed a certain level of victory over the Slavers, even with an implant there might even be a new role for me defending the rights of women.

So I asked Ja-Alixxe to drop me here. I don’t know where she’s taking the ship – one of the sanctuary worlds populated only by females, perhaps. I didn’t ask.

After our initial jubilation at escape, the truce between us became uneasy again. Things began to change immediately. Ja-Alixxe had to excuse herself and go to a private place in the back of the ship to masturbate. It had been two days since she’d relieved herself. She had her own demons to conquer, and didn’t want to tell me about the secrets configured in her own implant.

Now she’s gone from my life forever.

On the main deck of Escarod I move quickly through the crowds, conscious I’m wearing only a slave wrap, I’m carrying nothing but a doll and I have the mark on my face of a slave of Aghara-Penthay. People stop to look at me, and I see recognition in their faces. I speed up, pass them by and hurry out of the sound of their voices.

There is a mash-up of species, ages and sexes here, but all of it is the lower orders of galactic society – miners, ship crews, traders trying to score fast credit, merchants on their way to and from Aghara-Penthay, and those washed up here with no means to leave. They might be what the general would describe as “scum”, but since the ordeal of the Rape Run finished my soul has begun to heal, and I’ve to look more warmly on the diverse citizens of the galaxy. Any man who isn’t a Slaver is decent in my book.

I clutch the doll to me, and think how I’d never realized before that the many guys who don’t have rape in their hearts aren’t so bad. I was too judgmental in my past, and maybe I they were right and I was cold. Perhaps it’s time I gave in to someone suitable and settled down. It’s not like I’ll be allowed back onto combat duty when I can’t shoot male aggressors, so faced with the necessity of a new career anyway, the idea of a quiet life raising a family isn’t even abhorrent to me anymore.

Skirting these citizens my route takes me past the entrance to the kind of bar I would once have called seedy. Its front is open to the station mezzanine.

A video screen streams news, with the sound muted so patrons can hear the bar music. The news ticker says, “Jasmeena declared the winner of the Rape Run after Leesha, Ja-Alixxe and Melena de Santo disqualified.”

Then there’s a shot of a heavily robed and veiled woman, raising her hands to wave at a crowd. Jasmeena I presume, looking very different to the woman I last saw being torn apart by Jackran-ad-aktar.

I look down from the screen, and back to the bar.

A group of men hangs around outside, lounging back on chairs and laughing raucously. Guys on shore leave. They’re dressed in oily overalls – probably crew from one of the freighters. These are the bottom of the food chain as far as space crew go, but I can’t help smile at their loud humor. One of them notices me and exclaims to his friends, “Holy God… Look! There’s Melena de Santo.”

Blushing, I’m trying to hurry away before the attention of all of them turns to me, but already he calls, “Stop, Melena.”

I do stop, and politely I turn to see what he wants. The man is middle aged, fat and overweight. Hardly a great physical specimen, but a man. He’s sitting in a chair, looking up at me. His gaze is blatantly obvious in the way he leers up and down my body.

I remind myself he’s only reacting the way any heterosexual guy does when presented with a beautiful, underdressed woman. All the same the instinct of the former virgin is to hide myself, and I cross an arm over my chest to hide the obvious swelling of my breasts.

Fat man opens his knees, slapping one large thigh.

“Don’t be shy, Melena. Come sit here,” he calls.

His friends are passing derisive comments about his total lack of success with women, fully expecting me to walk away. I don’t like anyone getting bullied, so I’m pleased to see surprise on a few faces as I take my place, sitting on his vast leg, and I look calmly about the circle. From amongst them I see they have a woman in their number, a rather mannish blonde with short cropped hair and a hard face.

The big guy seems as surprised as they do that I took the offered seat, and he rather uncertainly slips an arm round me, which feels massive in comparison to my slender back.

“Sweet mercy,” one of his friends says reverentially. “She’s even more beautiful in real life,” and blushing I shrink back against the fat man, seeking his protection.

A part of me didn’t seem to want him touching me, and I didn’t want the bare skin of my slim legs sitting on his overweight ones. And yet the sensation of his arm around my hourglass waist isn’t entirely unpleasant. I can imagine myself feeling safe buried in his bulk.

This doesn’t seem enough justification for remaining or my decision to sit however, and I’m mentally examining my own motivations for sitting in his lap when a brown skinned fellow in a leather flying jacket offers an explanation.

“Implants!” he gasps with inspiration. “They must have activated her implant. You told her to sit and she did. The cunt will do anything you ask her Kordling.”

“Don’t say the c-word, Penser,” the blonde woman I’d noticed before says irritably, but I’m barely listening to her.

It’s like my hopes and happiness fell away through the floor the moment leather-jacket said the words. I’m certain he’s right, and with dreadful clarity I see my whole future. The implant in my brain stem had been inert most of the time I’d been on Aghara-Penthay, only stopping me killing myself or harming a man. While Ja-Alixxe and I fled into space, the Slavers did indeed fully activated it. It isn’t faulty. It’s working perfectly.

I’d always imagined the implant would be a voice in my head, something I could sense, but it’s far more insidious. Following men’s orders feels like not like some external compulsion, but like the most natural and logical thing in the world to me.

I’m no better than Beyala. In fact once the chemicals from the leeches reach my critical level I’ll be in a far worse state than her.

Two sadistic goodbye presents for Melena de Santo.

One part of me is screaming for help, but the greater part is already overriding it, and telling me to stay. Why not just do what they say, it reasons? That’s the implant’s ideas, or the hormones, or both. Gods, I must get to the Republic outpost, or I’m done for.

Already the one called Kordling is tightening his arm around me. He ordered me to sit, but I figure out that didn’t say I couldn’t leave. I have perhaps seconds to get away, before they realize the full implications of the hold they have over me. I need to flee these crewmates, and find someone who can put me in contact with Republican forces, someone who can protect me from myself and the chemical instinct to give myself to men, which is already dissolving my will.

I start to get up, but his grip round me tightens, and he says, “Sit still, Melena.”

I obey so quickly it’s as if the muscles in my legs have been paralyzed. I inhale ready to call for help, my last throw of the dice in this year’s Rape Run, but he feels my ribs through the thin wrap and says, “No, don’t scream, or try to attract attention either. Just keep calm and do everything we tell you.”

My cry dies in my throat.

The man holding me lifts my hair, searching for the implantation scar, but any mark from the process would have long faded.

“She’s completely under our control,” another man says, this one bearded, with hard eyes. “And that means…”

It is inevitable that only seconds later, they make the step of realize that their control of me is not only mental, but sexual. The big man, Kordling’s hand on my hip slides further down, until he’s cupping my buttock.

“Please don’t,” I beg him. My eyes start filling with tears. I lower my arm to push his away from me, but my effort is half-hearted. I know it’s futile. He says, “Melena, you will let any of us touch you, anywhere we like. You will resist nothing we try to do to you.”

Silently I scream out my horror when at that signal, the group get out of their seats and descend on me like sharks in frenzy. All of them except for the woman. It lasts perhaps thirty seconds, the groping, but it feels like an eternity. The hands are everywhere on me, intimate, invading, opening me up, but I endure it without protest.

When I open my legs, resisting nothing as ordered, they find me already wet and receptive. I haven’t had an orgasm since I was tied to the bed and pleasured by Jasmine. The nanotech injected into my sex coupled with the hormones flooding my blood are a lethal combination to my self-control. Ordered not to resist, desire flares in me at the men’s invading fingers.

They have me so heated I’m almost disappointed when Kordling who ends it.

“Get back guys,” he says urgently. “You’ll draw attention to us – so many men groping such a pretty girl in public. Someone will come across to see if she’s okay.”

They back away, standing nonchalantly against the wall of the bar.

“Cover her up with something, before someone recognizes her,” the big man commands.

One of the others (the oldest man in the group) has on his lap a heavy cloak like a monk’s cowl, folded repeatedly, and he unravels this and throws it over me.

“Hide yourself, Melena,” old man says, and I draw the garment around me to hood my face, even though I know as I pull up the cowl that it reduces my chance of rescue even further.

Inside the cloak it smells of smoke. The owner must like one of the narcotic weeds. The fabric is rough and abrasive against my skin.

“What shall we do with her?” someone asks.

The big man thinks. His is the only touching hand left on me. He squeezes my buttock possessively.

“We have a long voyage ahead, Melena,” he says confidently to me, “and except for Rheya there, who doesn’t count, there are only guys on our ship. I order you to come along so we’ve all got someone to fuck.”

A part of me is still screaming, but another part of me immediately breaks, as easily as snapping a twig, leaving me too tired to care, and this treacherous part seems to dissolve my will. Why the hell not? I can’t think of a single reason to refuse. It’s not as if there’s anything better for me to do. It might even be nice. If I behave they’ll make love to me, not the cruel rape of the Slavers, but man united with woman as one – the way sex should have been since time immemorial.

Why the hell not?

I will be their someone to fuck. I reach down between Kordling’s thighs and fondle his cock through the heavy fabric of his trousers to signal my obedience. He’s already hard. It’s a big dick. Oh God, I bet it would feel unbearably pleasurable to have that penetrate me while I’m as wet as this.

My Master pulls me back so I’m resting back against his torso. My cowled form hides what my hand is doing from the rest of the group.

“Come on, guys,” the only woman, the one called Rheya says. “Don’t be mean to her.”

But she is the only one speaking up for me.

“She wants to go with us, look at her Rheya,” the bearded one disagrees “And with Melena as sex slave we won’t have to harass you when we feel the urge. Wouldn’t you like it if someone else did the menial work as well – cleaning, cooking and doing the laundry?”

I look silently to Rheya, who looks undecided.

“Her mind has already gone, look,” the one supporting me, Kordling, presses, his voice loud through where I’m leaning back against his chest. “She’s no better than a droid cumbot. And you know what the Slavers want to do with her if they get her back. Runaways are gang-raped to death. We’ll be doing her a favor – keeping her safe as a kind-of… ship’s pet.”

The Slavers want to rape me to death? I find my voice at that. I can’t scream or draw attention, but I can still talk for myself.

“I’d be safer with the…” I’m beginning to protest, but Kordling says “Silence!” raising a finger like a schoolteacher, and I’m muted more effectively than I was wearing that hateful gag from the pool.

“Do not speak again until I give you permission,” he adds.

“Come on Rheya,” the bearded one continues to urge, “it’s not like we’re going to do her any permanent harm.”

I’m yearning to speak, wanting to beg “Please Rheya!” The last small rational part of the woman that was one the brave proud Colonel, Melena de Santo, is desperately thinking, “Please, Please! No!”

Rheya sits back and folds her arms testily, and I’m sure she’s about to give in.

“Only if you guys promise that the end of this voyage we review whether to hand her over to the Republic,” Rheya says to her crewmates, and her words seal my doom.

The remaining part of me that is sane wishes for a heart attack, or a missile strike to wipe out this station, or a fatal disease to kill every person here and take me with it. But the Melena of the implant and the hormones wants them to hurry up and finish talking, so we can fuck. And future Melena is slowly winning.

The leeches – it’s too late – it’s happening, I think to myself, and remember that they don’t know about the leeches. I should warn them, but of course I can’t speak. It will have to wait.

Kordling’s grip is tighter around me, his slave. His other hand is inserted inside the cowl and he’s squeezing my breast through the thin fabric of my wrap. For now my modesty is protected by all this clothing, but as soon as we’re in the privacy of their ship I’ll show him everything, willingly if that’s what they want, or resisting if he wants to dominate me. His amazing cock, which I’m slowly working with my hand, is bone hard. He must be close to climaxing in those overalls and it pleases me that I can provoke so much desire. There is a purpose to life if you’re attractive. Better to be me than someone unattractive, like Rheya.

I’m barely paying attention to what else is happening, but I do notice that amongst the passers-by on the mezzanine comes a stooped over, elderly woman speaking rapidly to two men in the beige uniforms of Republic soldiers. She gesticulates, and I gather they’re searching for someone.

All I’d have to do is call out to them, but I’ve been ordered to silence and besides – I’m doing just fine here. I watch the scene unconcerned.

They’ll be looking for me, but there’s nothing to worry about. I won’t be removed from my rightful place. They’ll be looking for a woman in the wrap of a slave of Aghara-Penthay. They’re not expecting to find me cowled in a robe so they won’t check this group, and anyhow, why would I hide myself in an anonymous ship’s crew?

I feel a glow of pride at my new companions. These men who surround me are right. I will be safer with them than with the Republic, where I’ll just be waiting for another bounty hunter like Ja-Alixxe to find me. Paying them back with an activity I’ll actually enjoy – serving on my back – is a small price.

I’m not going to be the one to betray us, but clever Kordling isn’t going to take any chances.

“We’d better get her back on the ship before they search everywhere,” he says, and tipping me off his knee he rises to his feet.

“Come, Melena,” he orders me. “Follow me, and remain silent and inconspicuous.”

Of course I will, Master, I think. Why wouldn’t I?

The galaxy’s greatest poet, Dosharg-Al-Kamila, wrote that life is like a space voyage, and one was a passenger, not the pilot, as one travelled into the unknown.

As I docilely follow the man named Kordling, who has complete control over my future, I am grateful rather than sad that someone else is the captain of my fate.

33 - Appendix

Galactic Daily News, Sports Pages.

Results of the Rape Run: galactic-standard-year 4451

Captured 1st: Tasha Castelaine (green scarf), caught by Cronorgan. Cunt occupation: Business woman. Ranked 6th most likely to win. Ranked 7th most popular to see raped. Generously donated to the Rape Run by Lotho-etsarra.

Captured 2nd: Aireela (green scarf, white scarf), caught by Jackran-ad-aktar. Cunt occupation: tribeswoman. Ranked 8th most likely to win. Ranked 9th most popular to see raped. Generously donated to the Rape Run by Jackran-ad-aktar.

Captured 3rd: Princess Palonae Noonian Aurora Tonova (red scarf, white scarf), caught by Salarin. Cunt occupation: Head of state. Ranked 7th most likely to win. Ranked 5th most popular to see raped. Generously donated to the Rape Run by Cronorgan.

Captured 4th: Oorla (red scarf, blue scarf). Cunt occupation: Actress. Eaten by venka lizard. Ranked 9th most likely to win. Ranked 6th most popular to see raped. Generously donated to the Rape Run by Salarin.

Captured 5th: Colonel Melena de Santo (red scarf, white scarf), caught by Salarin. Cunt occupation: Soldier, Republic Fleet. Ranked 2nd most likely to win. Ranked 1st most popular to see raped. Donated to the Rape Run by Leshan. Re-entered the competition, but subsequently disqualified from the Rape Run for unauthorized exit from The Zone. Current location – tracker signal moving through deepspace, Ardoran system. One Hundred Thousand Credit bounty currently available for returning her to Aghara-Penthay where she is to be raped until dead.

Captured 6th: Cara Haston (red scarf), caught by Lotho-etsarra. Cunt occupation: Model. Ranked 10th most likely to win. Ranked 4th most popular to see raped. Generously donated to the Rape Run by Lotho-etsarra.

Captured 7th: Elionara (red scarf), caught by Salarin. Cunt occupation: Dancer. Ranked 5th most likely to win. Ranked 2nd most popular to see raped. Generously donated to the Rape Run by Salarin.

Captured 8th: Jasmeena (red scarf), caught by Jackran-ad-aktar. Cunt occupation: none. Ranked 4th most likely to win. Ranked 8th most popular to see raped. Generously donated to the Rape Run by Cronorgan. Subsequently declared the survivor after disqualifications.

Disqualified: Leesha (grey scarf, white scarf, blue scarf). Cunt occupation: Hunter of Aghara-Penthay. Ranked 1st most likely to win. Ranked 10th most popular to see raped. Substituted into Rape Run to complete Leshan’s quota. Disqualified from the Rape Run for unauthorized exit from The Zone. Killed by Melena de Santo.

Disqualified: Ja-Alixxe (green scarf, white scarf). Cunt occupation: Bounty hunter. Ranked 3rd most likely to win. Ranked 3rd most popular to see raped. Generously donated to the Rape Run by Jackran-ad-aktar. Disqualified from the Rape Run for unauthorized exit from The Zone. Current location – tracker reports moving through Gynean system in deep space. Seventy Five Thousand Credit bounty currently available for returning her to Aghara-Penthay where she is to be raped until dead.

The surviving Runner released with an inactive implant is Jasmeena.

The winning Hunter is Salarin, with three captures.

The award for most entertaining rape was given to Salarin, for his violation of Melena de Santo.

Nominations for the 4452 Rape Run are being accepted. In order to nominate a Runner leave a ten out of ten score review for this story on the hosting website, including the name of the cunt you wish to nominate. Cunts may nominate themselves, but may not withdraw the nomination after selection. Reviews will be collated by the Galactic Daily News. Your scores will help publicize the competition.

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The Rape Run

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