by Van © 2020

Chapter 2

Dramatis Personć


Effie experienced a series of somewhat disturbing dreams.
Jeez-Louise! Effie thought.  Who the hell dreams about getting an enema??  The "sludge" and "enema" dreams were more or less tied for least favorite. And then... Effie was awake... sort of.

She opened her eyes... and immediately squeezed them shut again.  A very bright light was shining in her face from directly overhead.

Effie had a headache.  Not a bad headache... but she had a headache.  She also had an everywhere-ache.  Her muscles and joints were sore... everywhere... or at least a little sore.  She was also naked... or still naked.  Her memories of recent events at The Four Seasons were 100% intact.  She assumed they were recent events, anyway.  She continued assessing her situation... and decided she was lying on her back on a thinly-cushioned surface in the "lounge chair position" with her arms raised and her hands to either side, even with her head.

Fine-tuning her assessment, her elbows were bent about 90°, her legs were raised and splayed apart with her knees bent about 45°, and everything would be staying that way for the immediate future.  Why?  Because her wrists were bound in tight, wide, padded, cuffs, and more padded cuffs or belts bound her upper arms, waist, her thighs just above her knees, and her ankles.  In addition, a pair of un-padded straps pinned down her upper torso, passing above and below her breasts.

Effie decided she'd learned all she could learn by feel alone... so she cautiously opened her eyes and blinked several times until her eyes adapted to the glare.  Visual sensors finally on-line, Effie lifted her head and looked around.

medical cuffsThe padded cuffs and straps were conventional medical restraints—wide, hefty, tan leather lined with soft white padding—and they were double cuffs, meaning there were wide, padded inner-cuffs and narrow, un-padded outer-straps over the inner-cuffs.  The two un-padded straps framing her boobs were the same tan color.  So, Effie noted, everything's a matching set.  Whoop-de-doo.

Also, the cuffs and straps in question were binding her to what she realized was a stainless steel gynecologist's examining table—complete with knee-troughs and stirrups!  That meant, seeing as her legs were splayed, her private parts weren't so private, which she decided was not good.  Effie tugged on the wrist-cuffs and tried to kick her feet, but everything held.  The stainless steel table/lounge-chair didn't even shake.


Effie was gagged—still gagged—but it wasn't the ball-gag-and-medical-tape combo Kyler's amazon she-goons had crammed into and plastered over her mouth back in the penthouse.  Her current gag was some kind of hard metal bit.  It had flanges or bent parts that pressed against the back of her teeth and was held in her mouth by a tight, narrow strap buckled at the nape of her neck.  That's what it felt like, anyway.  Her hair was pulled back and confined in a tight ponytail.  She could feel it trying to flop and sway as she lifted and turned her head.

Effie continued her visual survey and decided she was not in The Four Seasons... unless the 5-star hotel had decided to decorate its medical examining room as if it was the interior of an old farm building.  The walls were wide, unpainted, horizontal boards the dark gray-brown color of aged "barn wood."  To her right, a pair of stainless steel medical-style cabinets with glass doors and a steel cart on wheels stood against the wall.  Overhead was an array of adjustable spotlights suitable for a surgical suite, the sources of the bright light shining in her face and bouncing off the rest of her.   Beyond the spotlights' glare were exposed rafters.

To Effie's left... "GLRRR!"  Her eyes popped wide!

A petite, naked woman was hanging from the rafters!  Wide, padded, black leather cuffs were buckled around her wrists and attached to a vertical steel chain!  A ball-gag plugged her mouth and a thick, wide, black leather collar encircled her neck.  Finally, black leather cuffs bound her ankles together.  Her feet were on pointe with her toes dangling about four inches above the concrete floor.

Oh-by-the-way, the woman in question was Lady Jo Gladburn!  Effie recognized her immediately, despite the ball-gag causing Her Ladyship to grimace!  Her Ladyship returned her stare with serene calm—naked, suspended, bound, and gagged serene calm—as if her current predicament was some sort of normal.  Talk about your British reserve! Effie mused.  Then again, she has been a prisoner for six months... probably... almost certainly.  Is this a typical 'day at the office' for Her Ladyship?  Surely she hasn't been dangling from her wrists for six months!

Effie noted additional details:
Effie was reasonably sure this was a recent development, meaning the piercing had happened subsequent to Her Ladyship's disappearance/abduction.  However, the nipples in question appeared to be completely healed.  In any case, during her journalistic research Effie had come across candid photos snapped by the paparazzi of Lady Jo while on vacation in Spain and rocking a wet bikini.  She hadn't been topless, but if her nipples had been pierced, even with simple posts and not rings, it would have been apparent.

Between the distance, the glare from the spotlights, and Lady Jo's gag, it was difficult for Effie to read Her Ladyship's expression in nuanced detail, but Effie's initial assessment that Her Ladyship was unfazed by her situation remained intact.  Was she sympathetic to Effie's situation?  Yes.  That was obvious.  But the fact that they were both gagged was putting a serious damper on Effie's ability to conduct an interview and fill in the blanks.  Anyway, Lady Jo was anything but a whimpering and broken damsel-in-distress.

Just then, Effie heard the sound of approaching footsteps... and diagnosed at least two sets of hard-soled footwear with increasing confidence.  Effie could tell Lady Jo was also aware that they were about to have visitors.  Finally, two women strolled into Effie's somewhat limited field of view.

One was Kyler Drāgon!  The other was a complete stranger.  Both were dressed in classic English equestrian drag from the waist down, meaning knee length riding boots and skintight riding pants with the seat and inner thighs lined with chamois leather.

Kyler's boots were medium-brown, her pants British-tan with slightly darker chamois butt and thigh patches, and she was wearing a white, long-sleeve cotton blouse with the sleeves rolled up.  A designer silk scarf, predominately in shades of blue that complemented her eyes, was folded and tied around her neck like a bandana.  Her glorious blond hair was loose about her shoulders in "tousled" waves, framing her gorgeously beautiful face, and a happy (sinister) smile curled her lips and twinkled in her blue (sinister) eyes.

The stranger's boots were black and her riding pants and butt and thigh patches shades of light-gray.  Her top was a cadet-blue tank that enthusiastically hugged her torso and ample breasts, tightly enough to strongly suggest that her nipples were not pierced.  Her brown hair was cropped pixie-short, her eyes blue (like Kyler's), and her features even and attractive (in a hard, athletic sort of way).

Oh-by-the-way, the stranger was in very good shape.  Kyler was also physically fit, of course (as confirmed in the bedroom back in The Four Seasons), but the stranger had well-defined muscles and moved with the grace and assurance of an all-around athlete in prime condition.  Her smile was less ecstatic than The Dragon Lady's, but she was smiling.

"Ahh," Kyler sighed as the duo (meaning the duo not naked, bound, and gagged) arrived at Effie's table/lounge-chair.  "There she is!  Effie, my new pony."  She rested her right hand on Effie's lower tummy, between her dark, neatly trimmed, pubic bush and the padded cuff-belt binding her waist to the table.

"MRRR!" Effie complained, squirming and staring daggers at the smiling Dragon Lady.  Hands off, you fucking asshole!

"Temper, temper!" Kyler chuckled, continuing her slow, gentle massage of Effie's tummy.  "Nobody likes a grumpy pony."

Effie continued glaring and squirming.  You can shove that 'grumpy pony' crap right up your...  Her expression changed from gagged-and-irate to gagged-irate-and-slightly-puzzled.  Wait... 'pony?'  What the hell does she mean by 'pony?'

Kyler focused her smile on the short-haired stranger with the muscles.  "Status?"

The stranger responded in a melodious alto voice.  "Effie has been bathed, scrubbed, fed a little pony-pablum, and cleaned out.  She passed her general and dental exams with flying colors, and obviously the transport drugs have worn off.  She's probably still a little hungry, but I've made sure she's properly hydrated, so thirst shouldn't be an issue."

Kyler nodded, then focused her smile on Effie, once again.  "Excellent.  Any piercings other than her earlobes?"

"No," the stranger responded.  "Her bellybutton, labia, and clitoral hood are all virgin... so to speak.  I've already disposed of the ear-posts."  She then turned and strolled towards the cabinets on Effie's right.

Hey, I liked those posts! Effie mentally objected.

Kyler sensed her displeasure.  "Don't worry, dear," she purred, smiling and giving Effie's tummy a gentle pat.  "Ponies don't have pierced ears.  Not my ponies, anyway."

Again with the 'pony' crap! Effie fumed.

The stranger had returned, wheeling the stainless steel cart Effie had noticed earlier.  Its top shelf was covered by a jade-green cloth.  The stranger whisked the cloth aside—"Mrrrf?"—revealing a neat array of various stainless steel surgical instruments, mostly different kinds of forceps and clamps!
"Mrrr!"  Effie watched with growing apprehension as the stranger selected a locking pair of forceps with a rubber-padded business end!

Meanwhile, Kyler had strolled to the head of Effie's table.

"Glrrr?"  The Dragon Lady had lifted some sort of steel something-or-other and dropped it to either side of Effie's surprised and gagged head, where it locked in place with an authoritative clunk followed by a snap!  Obviously, whatever it was, the thing was attached to the underside of the table/lounge-chair by a hinged mechanism, and was adjustable.  "Glrrr!"  Effie heard a metallic squealing sound as Kyler did something (probably repeatedly turning a small metal wheel), and padded somethings tightened against the sides of her head until they clamped her head firmly in place!  The thing in question was a head-vice!  "Glrrrrrr!"

"Settle down," Kyler purred, then positioned a leather strap across Effie's forehead, pulled it taut, and secured its buckle!

Effie's head was now completely immobilized!  "Glrrr!"

Next, Kyler leaned close and reached to either side of Effie's bit-gag.  She heard a metallic ratcheting sound and felt the accompanying vibrations.  "Mrr-ARRR!"  Simultaneously, Effie's mouth was forced open until her jaws were stretched apart, nearly to their limit!  "Arrrrrrrl!"  Obviously, the bit of her bit-gag was in two parts and had come with the required hardware to serve as a dental-style, jaw-spreading clamp!  "Arrrrrgurlh!"

Thanks to the head-vice-clamp and bit-gag-clamp, from the neck up all Effie could do was roll her eyes, flutter her eyelids, and wiggle her tongue.  She did all three—but with respect to her tongue—not for long!

Both Kyler and the stranger loomed close and, working together, clamped Effie's tongue with the forceps and stretched it from her mouth until wiggling was no longer an option!  Kyler was holding the forceps (and therefore Effie's tongue) while the stranger was poking the underside of her tongue with a powerful penlight!

"Here's an excellent spot," The stranger purred.  "Very few blood vessels."

"Indeed," Kyler agreed.

Effie disagreed.  "Arrrrrglh!"  She had a pretty good idea what The Dragon Lady and her minion were up to, and she was not on board with the proposition!  As it turned out, Effie's worst fears were correct, but unfortunately—as had been the case with everything that had happened to her since shortly after entering Eve Darlington and/or Kyler Drāgon's penthouse suite in The Four Seasons—Effie's opinion was entirely moot.

Working in concert, they did it!  The be precise, the stranger did most of it, reaching to and from the steel cart for whatever she needed.  And what, exactly, was "it?"

The blonde and brunette assholes in the riding outfits with the grabby hands and evil smiles pierced Effie's tongue!!


Okay, truth be told, it wasn't all that painful, only about as bad as when she'd gotten her ears pierced.  There had been a slightly jarring stab of pain, but nothing Effie couldn't handle—even when not naked, strapped down, and helpless.

A stainless steel dumbbell (two small spheres screwed into either end of a short post) was installed in the freshly made hole.  And then, adding wadding to impalement, Kyler continued holding Effie's now pierced tongue with the forceps while the stranger placed a thick, white cotton pad under her tongue and a second pad over her tongue.  Then, still working in concert and with deft efficiency, Kyler released the forceps as the stranger stuffed a third, even larger pad into Effie's gaping mouth.  Next, they unbuckled the bit-gag's strap, released its clamping mechanism, whisked it from Effie's stuffed mouth, and replaced it with a single wide strip of off-white Microfoam tape, all before Effie could do anything other than blink her eyes a few times!


"Effie's tongue will be a little sore for a day or two," the stranger purred, smiling and placing what was probably intended to be a reassuring hand on Effie's left breast, "and I'll have her on antibiotics for the next week.  And possibly a mild painkiller if I think she needs it, but they usually don't."

"But first we have to finish, of course," Kyler added with a truly bloodcurdling smile.

Huh? Effie wondered.  'Finish?'

Meanwhile, the stranger had reached down to the cart's lower shelf and returned with—"MRRRRRRRR!"
Effie Dennings was not into BDSM—something she'd very much like to explain to Kyler Drāgon (before and after giving the blond bitch the beat-down she so richly deserved, of course)—but even Effie recognized a pair of nipple-stretching breast clamps!

The things were identical stainless steel gizmos and clearly designed to rest against a person's breasts, directly over their nipples.  Attached were vertical, 90°, "U"-shaped loops and spring-loaded clamps that could be adjusted by means of vertical screws to streeetch the nipples of the poor, unfortunate person doomed to experience the tug of the diabolical devices—which Effie assumed was about to be her!

Again, Effie was right!

The nipple-stretches were positioned, one at a time, and the jaws of the clamps engaged.  "MRRRRR!"  Then, the wing-nuts were turned and Effie's clamped nipples and the immediate surrounding areas of her breasts were stretched something like a full inch!

"MRRRRR!"  That hurts, dammit!

And then... once everything was to their satisfaction... Effie's captors pierced her nipples!

This time, all Kyler did was hold the gizmos steady as Effie tried to wiggle and squirm.  The stranger did almost all the work, swabbing Effie's breasts and nipples with icy-cold alcohol, then using some sort of wrench-like tool with handles to pierce her stretched flesh!  The stranger inserted steel rings into the tiny holes, then used a pair of specialized locking forceps to close the rings and hold them closed for several seconds.  Ellie strongly suspected some sort of epoxy might have been involved, but her view of the proceedings was obstructed and intermittent.

Unfortunately, nothing interfered with the full function of her nipples' nerve-endings!  The actual piercing was slightly more painful than her tongue, but again, it wasn't that bad.  Admittedly worse, however—"MRRR!"—was the alcohol swabbing that happened after the rings were in place.  Finally, the ring-clamping-forceps were released—EYOW!!—and the nipple-stretchers removed.  Truth be told, the clamps were the worst part—they were bad going on, but even worse coming off!  Ow, dammit!  Finally, some sort of ointment was slathered on her nipples, then they were covered by a pair of unusually large circular band-aids, rings and all.

And the deed was done.

Assholes!  Effie silently huffed, glowering at Kyler and her minion.

"Oh my," Kyler chuckled.  "If looks could kill.  She's a feisty one."  She then glanced at her watch.  "No rest for the wicked.  I'm afraid it's almost time for an important conference call I was unable to reschedule."  She smiled at Effie, once again.  "Welcome to my stables, Effie.  I'm going to have to leave you in Tasha's capable hands, but we'll get better acquainted later, I promise."  She leaned close and planted a quick kiss on the tip of Effie's nose, gave her lower tummy an affectionate pat, then turned and strolled away.

Die, asshole! Effie silently fumed.  The Dragon Lady's footsteps faded away, and Effie was alone... not counting the stranger (who, apparently, was named "Tasha") and Lady Jo (who was still hanging around).

"Finally," Tasha chuckled, "I thought she'd never leave."  She strolled to the wall behind Lady Jo... there was a quiet hum (which Effie diagnosed as the sound of a small motor)... and Lady Jo's suspended body lowered until her toes touched the concrete floor... followed by the soles and heels of her bare feet.  Her Ladyship's arms were still raised, but she was no longer stretched by gravity and hanging.

"Mistress Kyler delights in tormenting poor Jo," Tasha stated, apparently for Effie's benefit.  "I try and go as easy on her as I dare, but Mistress is the boss."  She strolled back to Effie and the table/lounge-chair, still smiling.  "My advice is to be a good, and above all, obedient pony.  And whatever you do, don't antagonize Mistress.  You do not want to get on Mistress' bad side, Effie."

Effie glared at Tasha's grinning face.  I'm not on her 'bad side' now??

Smart-collar"Now, pay close attention," Tasha stated, then reached down to the cart's lower shelf (which Effie didn't find at all ominous) and returned with a black leather collar.  It had a pebbled finish and shining steel hardware, including studs, as well as a dangling circular ring in front and "D"-rings on the left and right.

Effie blinked in mild surprise.  The collar looked expensive and was impressive (Effie supposed), but given all that had happened in the recent past, why was Tasha treating a simple albeit kinky collar with so much drama?  Not that Effie was indifferent to involuntarily wearing a leather collar, of course.  In fact, Effie was definitely on the no-collar side of the debate, but she knew her opinion was as moot as ever.

"There's a lot more to our pony collars than meets the eye," Tasha purred, slowly turning the collar in her hands.  "In point of fact, this is a smart-collar."

Effie thought stared at the collar in question.  Say what?

"As you can see," Tash continued, "it secures with a three-point lock in the rear, and the backside is somewhat thicker than the front.  That's because it holds several sets of wafer-thin rechargable batteries and most of the electronics."  She turned the collar so Effie could see the collar's interior.  "Note the copper studs lining the throat.  With a full charge, the collar can deliver up to an hour of very unpleasant shocks, but only if its wearer is a bad pony."

Shit! Effie thought.

"That's right, Effie," Tasha purred.  "Our smart-collars are obedience collars, and all are part of our very elaborate, very expensive security system.  All the critical doors and windows of Mistress' stables and ranch house are wired with sophisticated sensors.  If they detect an 'inappropriate' collar transponder approaching within ten feet, they trigger a warning zap that's only slightly painful.  At eight feet, they deliver a more serious warning.  At five feet, they more or less knock the naughty pony on her cute little ass."

Shit! Effie reiterated.

"Of equal importance," Tasha continued, "a good pony is a mute pony.  At Mistress' discretion, the collar can be set to strongly discourage its wearer from whining, complaining, or engaging in un-pony-like conversation."  She then leaned forward, placed the collar around Effie's throat, and engaged the flush-mounted lock at the nape of her neck.


"Mrrrf!" Effie complained.  With her head still clamped and strapped in place, all she could do was roll her shoulders a little, but that hadn't even come close to slowing Tasha down.  The collar was in place and locked.  Also, it was snug and she could just feel the copper studs in the front, even though that hadn't zapped her (yet).  In point of fact, Effie had to admit the "smart-collar" was a perfect fit.  She would have preferred if it wasn't quite so wide, but it certainly didn't feel like a neck-brace.  She supposed she'd get used to it... in time.  She supposed she'd have to, seeing as how she didn't have any choice in the matter.

Collaring complete, Tasha smiled and rested her right palm on Effie's waist, above the padded waist-belt and below the un-padded below-the-boobs strap.  "I can tell you have spirit," Tasha said quietly.  "As Mistress said, you're a feisty one.  I wish you'd refrain from testing your pretty new collar, but I know that's too much to ask.  I assure you, it works, a lesson all of Mistress' ponies have learned."  She turned and smiled at Lady Jo.  "Isn't that right, Jo?"

Her Ladyship didn't seem to be in the mood for rhetorical questions.  Her only response was a mildly disapproving ball-gagged frown.

Tasha chuckled and turned back to Effie.  "I suppose a little demonstration is in order."  She gave Effie's tummy a reassuring pat.  "Don't worry.  You've been through enough for one day.  Jo will serve as our example.  You see, she's a feisty one too, Effie.  Jo was quite the little fighter when she first arrived, but she's learned her lessons well."  Tasha leaned close.  "Not that I'm fooled, of course," she whispered.  "She's still feisty at heart, but now she knows her place.  Mistress allows, even encourages her to push back a little, but only for entertainment purposes.  By and large, however, Jo has learned to cooperate, which certainly makes my job easier."  She gave Effie's upper tummy another pat, then spun on her booted heels and strolled in Lady Jo's direction.

Effie watched as Tasha knelt and unbuckled Jo's ankle cuffs, then stood and unbuckled her wrist cuffs.  Jo was now "free," wearing only the ball-gag and what Effie assumed was another "smart-collar."  The naked, gagged, and collared peer locked eyes with Tasha and stood in place.  Her bells had swayed and tinkled quietly as she lowered her arms, but now they were still and silent.

"Good pony," Tasha chuckled as she took a step back.  "Position One."

Jo widened her stance to about seven inches, placed her hands atop her head with her fingers interlaced (causing her bells to tinkle), then lowered her gaze to the concrete floor (and/or Tasha's boots).

Tasha stepped behind and slightly to Jo's left, placed her left hand atop Jo's hands and head, leaned close, and more-or-less embraced her from behind, reaching around and across the shorter, naked "pony's" body with her right arm and gently squeezing her left breast.

A shiver quivered through Jo's petite, toned, curvaceous body, but she remained in the ordered pose.  Her left nipple-ring-bell tinkled as Tasha continued kneading her breast

"Now," Tasha purred, "why do you suppose a 'feisty' pony like Jo would allow me to handle her this way?"  Tasha's smile was on Effie.  "Jo has learned the painful lesson of obedience, that's why."  Her hand slid down Jo's flat, sculpted abdomen, and found its way to her crotch.  "I hope you take my advice, Effie, and avoid testing your collar.  All you need to do is simply... obey."

Tasha's hand was gliding up and down between Jo's legs... but still Lady Jo held her pose.  She did resume shuddering and shaking, however, enough to make one or both of her bells chime now and then.

"I confess I enjoy the carrot more than the stick," Tasha purred.  She tilted her head and licked the side of Jo's left bicep.  "But I promise you, Effie, you will learn to be a good pony like Jo, one way or another."

Effie blinked in... embarrassment?  Tasha was openly frigging the naked, ball-gagged, shivering, squirming, and obedient Jo.  Effie continued watching in introspective horror.  I sure as hell don't want to be a 'good pony'... but it's probably only a matter of time 'til I start acting like a good pony if these collars are half as effective as she says.  I need to get the damn thing off my neck and get the hell away from this place... wherever 'this place' is.

Tasha continued frigging Jo for about another minute... then gave her a resounding smack on her right butt-cheek, released her embrace, and stepped back to face Her Ladyship.

Jo panted through her ball-gag and glared at Tasha.  Her breasts heaved, but not enough to give voice to her bells.

Effie couldn't be sure, but if forced to place a wager, she's say Her Ladyship had not achieved orgasm... unless she had a low threshold and was able to suppress the usual physical signs.  Being able to suppress her reactions wasn't totally out of the question, of course.  After all, she was British.

Tasha smiled, then pointed to the open doorway.  "Down to Tack Room One, Jo," she ordered.  "I'll be along shortly to strap you into your harness for your afternoon exercise."

Jo turned and padded away, her hands still atop her gagged head.  Effie's last view of the naked aristocrat was of Tasha's pink, fading palm print on Jo's firm butt.

Tasha reached into her pocket and produced a smartphone, tapped its screen a few times... then returned it to her pocket.  And then, smiling broadly, she strolled to Effie and the table/lounge-chair, lifted the jade-green cloth from the steel tray, and draped it over Effie's gagged and clamped-down head!

"Mrrf?-Urk!"  The smart-collar had delivered its first lesson: Even when gagged, ponies are mute.  The zap hadn't been too painful—no worse than getting a nipple pierced—but Effie would just as soon do without any further instruction.

"Told ya so, feisty pony," Tasha chuckled, then gave Effie's tummy another pat.  "Now," she continued, "we've had a busy first day, haven't we?  Why don't you take a nice nap while I care for the rest of the herd?"

Yeah, sure, why the hell not? Effie silently fumed.  She heard Tasha's boots (and, she assumed, the rest of her) stroll towards the door.  There was a click and the overhead lights winked out, plunging her into total darkness, followed by a thud she assumed was the door closing, followed by a click she assumed was a lock turning, followed by... silence.

Effie tugged on her wrist cuffs (for no particular reason), then sighed through her gag.  Her tongue and nipples ached.  But then, all of her ached... still ached... although none of it was too bad.  She'd survive. 

So...  What to do while waiting for my tits and tongue to heal...  Two options came to mind.

Option One:  Stare into the yawning face of the abyss in mind-numbing terror.

Option Two:  Assess her "progress" in solving The Lady Jo Mystery.

Effie decided to go with Option Two.  She could always fall back on Option One later.

The good news was Effie had made actual headway in solving The Mystery.  As it turns out, Her Ladyship had been kidnapped by a bat-shit-crazy billionaire, spirited away to an undisclosed location, and was being forced to role-play as a human "pony"... supposedly.  So far, it had all been a lot of talk, naked bondage, and unsolicited and involuntary piercing, but for some reason Effie couldn't fully explain, she was buying Kyler and Tasha's spiel.  The Dragon Lady had an unusual hobby she was using it to vent her negative feelings towards Lady Gladburn.

Juuuuust great.

The bad news: Effie had been kidnapped by the same bat-shit-crazy billionaire, spirited away to the same undisclosed location, and was also being forced to role-play as a human "pony."  This was called "getting personally involved in the story," and was considered very bad form in Effie's profession.

And as for disclosing their current undisclosed location, there had been mention of "stables" and a "ranch house," which implied a possible ranch.  Ya can't have ponies without a ranch and stables, right? Effie thought.  I'll have to stay alert for additional clues—actual geographical clues—before I rescue Lady Jo and that 'herd' Tasha mentioned, so we can all escape.  It's always best to know where you are before escaping.  Otherwise, you don't know where to escape to.

And oh-by-the-way...

Effie's stomach grumbled.  Effie's empty stomach grumbled.  Wasn't I promised food at some point? she silently groused.  Also, antibiotics and a painkiller.  And with this damn 'smart-collar' around my neck, I can't even lodge a complaint.  There was also the matter of her gag and no one being present to acknowledge said complaint.

Anyway...  Effie was adrift in a trackless sea with no compass, no chart, and no wind to fill her sails.  Also... no sails... maybe not even a boat.  She had no idea how to get herself, Lady Jo, and "the herd" out of this mess.

And another thing, Effie silently fumed, nothing even remotely like this was ever covered in journalism school!

 Chapter 2


Chapter 1
Chapter 3