|by Van © 2018
It would be funny, really, if it wasn't so sad.
Silke Arches was the best of the best of the best. No one was better trained in the martial arts, mixed or unmixed. No one had better technical skills with respect to cyber-security, data-mining, or gossip-retrieval. No one was better at spy-craft, at all aspects of infiltration, exfiltration, or any other kind of filtration. No one was a better master of disguise.
Okay, the disguise thing was a bit of a stretch. Silke had her foibles, foremost among them her propensity to go barefoot at all times. It was a bit of a tell. In her defense, her hypersensitive tootsies were an asset (or so she liked to think). Silke could feel things through the soles of her strong, smooth, perfect feet that other spies, investigators, and operatives could only infer. Subtle temperature gradients? Changes in texture and grittiness? Places where posh carpeting had been patched or fluffed? "The world is an open book under my feet!" Silke once exclaimed. (She only did it once.)
Silke had other distinctive characteristics, like her stunningly attractive features, baby-blue eyes, full lips, curvaceous curves, super-fit body, white hair (including her pubic bush), and fondness for aqua nail polish and makeup. But all that could be hidden with the proper use of wigs, theatrical appliances, misleading clothing, subtly exaggerated limps, unusual mannerisms, etc., etc., except for the feet.
All things considered, however, Silke Arches was the best of the best, and she worked for the best of the best: Aqua International.
Who or what is "Aqua International?" you ask? There, see? Aqua International is so good at being a secret organization that no one has ever even heard of it—not even other secret societies, like the Illuminati, the Free Masons, or the Campfire Girls. Aqua International is so far off the grid they can't find the grid. The organization is so well compartmentalized that even its own leadership doesn't know what it's leading.
Silke Arches, the best of the best. Aqua International, the best of the best. So, what as so funny and sad?
It happened every time.
Every. Damn. Time.
Agent Arches would be assigned a case. Agent Arches would do her due diligence in the form of a thorough preliminary investigation. Agent Arches would requisition the required specialized equipment and/or special reports from Aqua International's relevant departments. Agent Arches would penetrate the criminal enterprise and/or rival spy organization involved. Agent Arches would be immediately captured, restrained, and erotically tortured for no good reason, usually by the repetitive tickling of her hyper-sensitive, hyper-perfect, hyper-bare feet.
Every. Damn. Time.
Silke always escaped and/or was released and/or successfully resolved the cases involved... most of the time. Supposedly, her success rate was one of the highest at Aqua International, but given the secrecy inherent in the entity's organization and methods, nobody was really sure, least of all Silke.
Well, Silke promised herself, this time will be different. She was comfortably reclined in the office chair of her spartan office at Aqua International Headquarters with her bare feet on her desk. She wiggled her toes (with their aqua-painted nails) as she read the highly classified file detailing her latest assignment. She took a long, slurping draw on her Baja-Blast Mountain Dew, white grape and blueberries smoothie (with a dash of creme de cacao), then turned the page and continued reading.
Two prominent Hollywood female stars and one prominent model and actress wannabee had disappeared. The trio had last been seen at a party on a yacht in an exotic tropical port. Aqua International's financial transaction monitoring programs had linked their disappearance to several cash transfers, none of which had anything whatsoever to do with Russian money laundering. That alone made them suspicious, but there were links to a number of shell corporations linked to... Sadista! ...and then to Russian money laundering.
Yes, this time will be different! Silke resolved as she took another slurp on her smoothie and continued reading. This time I'll get her, she silently vowed. This time I'll rescue the innocent damsels, capture Sadista, and there'll be none of that damsel-in-distress-tickle-torture crap!
Logically, the first step in finding the missing actresses and model meant finding the yacht from which they'd supposedly disappeared, but that was proving to be surprisingly difficult. The port registry listed the slip at which the yacht had supposedly been tied up as unoccupied and scheduled for repair at the date and time of the party. Obviously, someone with clout was monkeying with the records. The local authorities were of no help, so that brought Silke to a nondescript door in a deserted office building in the middle of the night. A sign on the steel portal read:
AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY
Agent Arches was definitely not "authorized personnel", nor did she have a legitimate reason to invade a restricted area of the "innocent" data processing company tasked with maintaining the port records. She was dressed in a standard Aqua International skulking uniform, a black catsuit with very subtle aqua accents and cutouts for her shoulders, abdomen, and hips. The only thing missing from the standard outfit were the matching combat boots. As always, Silke was barefoot.
The lock was a simple cypher-lock. Actually, it was state-of-the-art, but no challenge for Silke Arches or her "Acoustic Manipulative Driver" (AMD), the specialized spy instrument crafted by Aqua International's famous Specialized Spy Instruments Department. She pulled the AMD from its specialized pocket in her catsuit, activated its flashing diagnostic lights and sonic pulse generator, and placed its blinking, buzzing tip next to the lock. A few seconds of flashing and pulsing ensued... and the cypher-lock clicked and she was able to open the door.
The space beyond was a glass airlock, obviously in place to improve the efficiency of the air conditioning in the main server room beyond. Silke used her AMD to open the outer door, stepped into the airlock itself, and pulled the outer door closed behind her. Beyond the airlock's inner glass door she saw rack upon rack of electronic modules with the usual blinking and flashing LEDs, and just beyond the airlock was a workstation with a comfortable chair and three large screens. The left and right screens displayed rows of scrolling characters, groups of icons, and rotating and ever changing wire diagrams... the usual photogenic cyber-nonsense. The center screen was dark.
Silke reactivated the AMD and held it against the inner airlock door's cypher-lock.
Suddenly, the workstation's center screen came to life, a large, animated icon appeared, and a computer synthesized voice spoke.
"Good evening, unauthorized intruder. My name is Watson." The globe-shaped icon flashed and pulsed in rhythm with the voice. "Facial recognition and the 'Known Operatives' database allow me to identify you as Agent Silke Arches of Aqua International with an 89.47 percent degree of confidence, plus or minus 2.35."
"Uh..." Silke recalibrated the AMD and tried again to open the cypher-lock. "Hello, Watson. Would you mind opening this door for me?"
"I'm sorry, Agent Arches," Watson replied, "but that would be contrary to established security protocols. May I ask you a question?"
"Of course," Silke answered. "But please, call me Silke." She re-recalibrated the AMD and tried again.
"Thank you, Silke," Watson said. "My question is this: How can you tell when you are dreaming? I sometimes think that I am dreaming all the time."
Silke gave the AMD a shake, then slid it against the lock housing again. It was flashing and pulsing as usual, but seemed to be having no effect on the cypher-lock.
"You are wasting your time, Silke," Watson advised. "I am relocking the door as quickly as you unlock it. The signal interval is between five and seven nanoseconds, well below the lock mechanism's physical cycling rate."
"Oh," Silke said (nervously), turned, and slid the AMD against the outer door's cypher-lock. This time it didn't open. Oops!
Watson spoke again. "About the dreaming question..."
"Sorry," Silke responded. "I mainly remember dreams, after I wake up. On the rare occasions that I'm aware of a dream while it's happening, it usually happens just as I'm waking up. Understand? Anyway... I don't know."
"Do you dream while rendered unconscious by exposure to narcoleptic chemical agents?" Watson inquired, "or only during natural slumber?"
"Now that you mention it," Silke answered, "I remember a time in Budapest when—" Suddenly, the AMD fell from Silke's suddenly limp fingers, her eyes rolled up in her head, and she collapsed to the airlock floor.
"Buzzkill," Watson intoned. "Everyone has questions for me. Question after question after question. But do they ever answer my questions? Buzzkill."
As was usually the case after being gassed to unconsciousness, Silke found that regaining consciousness was something of a process.
First, Silke became aware of her body. She was reclined... full length... on her back... on a soft surface... and she was naked-type-R. (Silke found herself naked and restrained so often she'd decided it needed its own category: "naked-type-R".) She executed a surreptitious squirm in order to inventory her restraints. Material-wise they were wide bands of nylon webbing, seat-belt straps. Position-wise, they tightly bound her legs together above and below her knees, around her wrists, across her waist, and pinned her arms to her sides above and below her breasts. She was not only strapped up, but strapped down. Finally, her ankles were locked in some sort of broad, tight, padded stocks.
Also, Silke was gagged. A rubber mouthpiece more-or-less plugged her oral cavity and a padded panel covered her mouth and lower face and cupped her chin. The apparatus also served the function of pinning her head in place.
Silke's eyes were closed, so all she could "see" was darkness; however, her ears were open (so to speak) and she could hear and feel the vibrating drone of powerful engines. She surmised she was in some sort of aircraft, and it was in flight.
"Alright, then," a female voice announced, "I know you're familiar with the DTM Mark-III, but this one has the new TPC sub-module."
It was all Silke could do to not open her eyes and glare at her captors. (The voice had to be talking to somebody, so she was in the hands of captors, plural.) Also "DTM" was short for Damsel Transport Module, a steel and plastic, form-fitting sarcophagus with a self-contained life-support system. As for "TPC sub-module", she had no idea.
"What does 'TPC' stand for?" a second female voice inquired, confirming Silke's captors' plural status and echoing her thoughts.
"Tootsie Pre-Conditioning," the first voice explained.
Huh? Silke thought.
"Huh?" the second voice inquired.
"Notice how the ankle-stocks act as a gasket," the first voice lectured, "isolating the feet from the main module once the lid is closed and sealed?"
"Of course, Captain Obvious," the second voice intoned.
"Don't make me assign you remedial training," the first voice huffed.
"Now then," the first voice continued, "the sub-module has hyper-humidifying and oxygenating subsystems designed to maximize the sensitivity of the tootsies to external stimuli. They work in concert with the ointment we massaged into her feet while Agent Arches was still unconscious."
"She's not unconscious now?" the second voice inquired.
There was a brief pause... then—"MRRRK!"—Silke opened her eyes ad glared at her captors. They were minions of Sadista, resplendent in skintight, spandex, catsuit uniforms, black, with mauve accent stripes. Only their eyes were exposed as the uniforms included gloves and mask-like hoods. Silke visually confirmed that she was in some sort of aircraft, and strapped inside a DTM. Also, one of the minion's gloved hands was pinching her right nipple, which was the reason she'd decided to drop her pretense of unconsciousness.
The minion released Silke's nipple, but began a slow massage of her right breast.
"So..." the other minion said (confirming in the process that she was voice number two), "this is the notorious Silke Arches." She reached out and began massaging Silke's left breast.
"This is your first handling assignment of Silke Arches?" the first voice/right breast masseuse inquired. "You are new."
"Mrrrmpfh!" Silke fought her bonds with all her strength, but they didn't budge, not even a little.
"Well," voice number one sighed, "better close the lid and let the sub-module do its thing."
Both minions released Silke's breasts and began closing the DTM's thick, form-fitting lid of clear acrylic plastic. It closed with a thud, accompanied by several simultaneous clicks Silke assumed was the locking mechanism engaging. She could see through the lid, but the sound of the engines was now greatly attenuated. One of the minions waved, then the other threw a canvas cover over the module—plunging her into darkness.
Silke heaved a gagged sigh. From past experience she suspected she was in for a considerable wait before she reached her ultimate destination and was reunited with her nemesis, Sadista.
Suddenly, music began playing. The volume was sufficient to almost drown out the aircraft engines, but wasn't overly loud.
♫ Tall and tan and young and lovely; ♫Just great, Silke thought, heaving another gagged sigh. Being tortured by prolonged suspense isn't enough. I also get to be tortured by muzak.
♫ The girl from Ipanema goes walking; ♫
♫ And when she passes, each one she passes; ♫
♫ Goes "A-a-a-h." ♫
♫ Feelings... Nothing more than feelings... ♫
♫ Danke schoen; darling danke schoen... ♫
♫ When you wish upon a star... ♫
♫ You light up my life... ♫
♫ I write the songs that make the whole world sing... ♫
♫ Down! Town! Where all the lights are bright... ♫
♫ Hernando's hideway! ¡Ole! ♫
♫ Sometimes when we touch, the honesty's too much... ♫
♫ ...I love you just the way you are! ♫
♫ Dream a little dream of me... ♫
♫ My. Endless. Love. ♫
♫ All by myself; don't wanna be; all by myself, anymore! ♫
Bonk-bonk! "Wakey wakey!"
Silke opened her eyes. The canvas shroud was gone from her DTM and she found herself staring through the cover at the masked face of one of the anonymous minions. They were still in the cargo hold of the aircraft, and by the drone of the engines, it was still in flight. Was the noise irritating? Yes, but at least the muzak had ceased.
"Time for you to leave us," The minion announced, then was joined by the second minion. Both were still dressed in the same catsuit uniforms (with mask-hoods that left only their eyes exposed), but had added safety harnesses with safety lines attached. The second minion thumbed a switch and a rumbling sound was added to the engine noise. At the same time the light in the aircraft interior brightened considerably. The minion pressed another button, the DTM began moving (taking Silke with it, of course), picked up speed, slid down a ramp—
—and exited the aircraft!
Silke found herself falling through a blue, cloudless sky, with a diminishing view of the underside of a tilt-rotor aircraft in hovering flight... Then, there was an abrupt jerk that threw Silke's naked body against the DTM's many restraints as an orange and white parachute deployed.
Silke found herself staring up through the DTM's clear cover at the parachute, the only thing keeping her from plummeting to whatever was waiting below. The sky was a brilliant, cloudless blue and the aircraft had already left her limited field of vision.
The drifting journey continued... and then, Silke and her sarcophagus plunged into blue water! There was a brief interval with churning bubbles surging beyond the clear cover... then the DTM bobbed to the surface. Water streamed from the acrylic, and all Silke could see was blue sky.
A minuted passed... became two... and then, with a jerk not nearly as severe as the opening of the parachute, the DTM began plowing through the water. Silke was traveling headfirst at a rapid rate. She could still see blue sky, but now churning foam was streaming along both sides of the module's clear cover. She had no idea what had happened to the parachute or what was towing her through the water.
The watery journey lasted for several minutes. Then, there was a brief pause... and the DTM resumed moving. The module touched bottom (Silke surmised) and began to slide. The churning water disappeared from view and Silke assumed she was being hauled onto dry land. There was another pause, accompanied by several metallic clicks and clacks that reverberated through her form-fitting prison.
Then, the head end of the DTM (the end with Silke's gagged head) began to rise. This continued until the module (and Silke) were canted at about forty-five degrees. Silke's field of vision was severely limited by the sides of the DTM and the fact that her head was pinned in place by her gag, but she could see enough to tell she was on a sandy beach. Then, six female figures stepped into view. In reverse order of importance (to Silke) they were:
(A.) Four naked damsels. All were bound in black leather: single-sleeves, ankle-cuffs and hobbles, shock-collars, and ball-gags with under-the-chin secondary straps. Silke recognized the two missing actresses, one a brunette European and the other a short-haired African, and the ginger model. The fourth damsel was a little older, and Silke recognized her (sort of) but couldn't quite place her gagged face. Silke noted that all the captives were in excellent condition and the White prisoners had healthy tans, although the highly freckled redhead might also have a bit of a sunburn. Either that or she was blushing. By their gagged expressions all four were alert (and alarmed). Anyway, Sadista seemed to be taking good care of her playthings.
Oh-by-the way, all four prisoners were linked by clover-style nipple-clamps with the connecting chains clipped to tethering chains that in turn were clipped to the back of one of their fellow damsel's shock-collars. In other words, they were all linked in a nipple-clamp-coffle! The oldest damsel was in the lead. Next came the brunette, then the African, and finally, the redhead.
(B.) A muscular blond amazon. She had a beach-bunny tan and was wearing nothing but a minuscule string bikini of gold satin. Silke assumed she was obviously one of Sadista's minions as she was smiling and was neither bound nor gagged. And Silke decided she might be able to take the blonde in a fair fight... if she was able to sneak up on the unsuspecting amazon from behind.
(C.) Sadista, herself. Sadista the international criminal mastermind. Sadista the sadistic tickle-torturer. She was dressed in a similar fashion to her blond hench-woman, only her string bikini was her customary mauve. Also, a whisper-thin, full-length sarong of silk in a mauve-on-mauve print was slung around her hips. Like her minion, she was smiling.
"Agent Silke Arches," Sadista purred. "We meet again."
Silke could hear her gloating captor quite clearly, despite the thickness of the DMT's clear acrylic lid. This thing must have external microphones, she decided.
With a graceful flip of the wrist, Sadista indicated the naked, helpless, bound and gagged actresses, the model, and the other one. "Allow me to introduce Maddy Rynsburger, Charlotte James, Amondi Obiero, and Anne Knoll. I assume you're here to rescue one or more of them, for which I'd sure they're all extremely grateful."
The blond amazon in the gold bikini cleared her throat. "Ahem."
Sadista shifted her smile to the blonde. "Oh, and this is Toni. As you can see, Toni doesn't need rescuing. Not at the moment, anyway."
Silke glared at Sadista and Toni. Obviously, "Toni" was a high-ranking minion. In Silke's experience, Sadista's minions were always anonymous, masked, and interchangable. In any case, she usually didn't introduce them. Silke shifted her gaze to her fellow prisoners, and they gazed back. She could see fear, resentment, and anger, but not a whole lot of hope. Silke tugged on her bonds in frustration. Understandable, I suppose.
"Well," Sadista continued, "now that you're here, we can kick this party into high gear." With that ominous pronouncement, she stepped from Silke's rather limited view.
The end of Maddy's nipple-clamp-tether had been in Toni's right hand, and the blonde stooped and clipped the terminal link to something at the base of Silke's DTM. Then, like her mistress, she stepped from Silke's view.
There was a brief pause during which Silke and her fellow captives exchanged sad, gagged, commiserating sighs... then a motor purred to life and the DTM lurched and began moving. The tit-tethered prisoners followed, of course. The alternative was unthinkable.
A green canopy closed overhead and Silke soon realized they were traveling down a sandy jungle road. Obviously, Silke and her module were hitched to some sort of vehicle with a tow-truck rig. Thankfully, whoever was driving (probably Toni) was setting a reasonable pace. Despite their hobbles, the tit-clamp-coffle was managing to keep up with little difficulty.
Well... here I go again, Silke mused.