|by Van ©2014
|OUR STORY CONTINUES
The Final Frontier.
These are the voyages of the Starship...
Its ongoing mission:
To explore strange, new worlds...
To seek out new life and new civilizations...
To boldly go where no one has gone before.
And split infinitives be damned!
Captain Cynthia M'Webbel was mildly irritated, and despite her best efforts, she knew her bridge crew could tell. Her long, furry tail twitched back and forth as she stared at the main view-screen, her cat-like ears were back, her lips slightly parted, and her canine fangs slightly exposed. Also, the fur across the bridge of her nose was crinkled.
Starbase 179's engineers had done a fine job during Dreamcatcher's recent maintenance availability. Among many other upgrades, they installed a new Captain's chair, one tailored to the needs of a native of the planet Caitian, like Cynthia. The chair's back was split, to accommodate her aforementioned tail. Starfleet design standards strive to meet the needs of all the sentient species that comprise the Federation, but generic furnishings have their limitations.
Cynthia never had a problem with the standard watch station seating on any of the other ships on which she had served, not until she advanced in rank and began standing watch as Officer of the Deck Underway. That required her to occupy the center seat if her CO wasn't on the bridge. She could sit with her tail curled to the side for hours at a time, but eventually it made her grumpy. Nothing relieves tension like a nice, satisfying tail swing—or several nice, satisfying tail swings—but you can't do that with your tail tucked to the side. Not really.
By Starfleet tradition, Captains were allowed a degree of discretion with respect to shipboard furnishings and life support settings. Being from an ice planet, Andorian Captains were known to set the thermostats on their ships a little on the chilly side. Their crews compensated by wearing turtleneck sweater variations of the Starfleet uniform. Vulcan captains liked things a tad warm, like their hot, arid home world. Their crews often wore sleeveless mini-dresses or shorts. By comparison, the crew of Dreamcatcher had it easy. Caitian's climate profile was more or less Federation average (like Earth), so all Cynthia's crew had to put up with was a little fur shedding, and now, a Captain's Chair with a split back. Cynthia also had a large scratching post in her quarters, but that was no skin off her crew's nose-pads.
Anyway, Starbase 179 had done fine work; however, a few days after breaking orbit, minor glitches started to appear in some of the systems they'd upgraded or repaired. None were in any way serious or mission threatening... but they were irritating.
The bridge lift doors whisked open and Lieutenant Kiera McFadden appeared.
Cynthia tried harder to suppress her foul mood. It wasn't fair to take things out on Kiera. The red-haired, freckled human was young to hold the post of Chief Engineer, but she was brilliant and Cynthia was glad to have her. Anyway, the glitches weren't Kiera's fault, and she'd already fixed most of them.
"Report, Lieutenant," Cynthia purred, almost literally. She remembered not to bare her fangs as she smiled. Humans didn't like it when she bared her fangs.
"I've reloaded the baseline patterning program and the standards library and rebooted the system three times, Captain," Kiera sighed. "Bravo sierra is still the only option that appears on the replicator menus, ship wide. I'm sorry, Captain. I don't know what else to do. I've run every diagnostic possible without taking critical systems offline. Short of returning to Starbase 179..."
Starfleet uniform "bravo sierra" was commonly referred to as the "go-go boots and mini-dress" uniform. Cynthia had no idea where the nickname had come from, but it didn't matter. Starting three days after departure from Starbase 179, bravo sierra became the only uniform option for the entire crew. Lucky for Kiera, Dreamcatcher had an all female crew. Rather than wear bravo sierra, the males of many Federation races would have rioted and stormed Main Engineering.
Cynthia sighed. Kiera McFadden never made excuses. If her Chief Engineer said she couldn't fix something, it meant she'd already tried everything in the book and several things not in the book. "And the other thing?"
Kiera swallowed, a little nervously. "The automatic hairdressers are still stuck on beehive with braids, Captain."
Cynthia heaved a deep sigh and her tail twitched. Kiera was staring at the bridge carpet.
Cynthia was lucky, in that she didn't have to style her mane. She didn't have to put up with having her cranial hair coiffed in an elaborate vertical pile held in place by a band of narrow, interwoven braids. Her mane matched her auburn body in color, but was only slightly longer than the rest of her fur—not counting the tuft at the end of her tail, the individual hairs of which were mane-length. No, Cynthia didn't have to style her cranial hair. Like all Caitians, she shed and regrew all of her fur on a continuous basis, but it never needed to be cut. She did enjoy the occasional full-body brushing, of course... and for someone to scratch behind her ears.
"Not to worry, Kiera," Cynthia sighed. "We'll swing back towards 179 after the next survey."
Kiera lifted her gaze and managed a weak smile. "Aye, Captain." She spun on her booted heels, walked to the engineering station, and sat. In the process, her red mini-dress hiked up about as far as it could go, nearly exposing the black uniform panties under her dark, regulation pantyhose. Her red hair was neatly and elaborately piled atop her head, a victim of the malfunctioning auto-hairdresser.
Cynthia looked around the bridge at the rest of her watch crew.
Lieutenant Commander Janice T'Bell, a native of Vulcan, was her XO and Science Officer. She was wearing black tights, rather than pantyhose, and a black turtleneck sweater under her blue mini-dress, to protect herself from the "cold," non-Vulcan climate. Janice's fine, black hair was cut in a short pageboy, which she did herself, by hand. Cynthia liked her Number One's pointed ears. They were attractive... almost cat-like.
Lieutenant Rachel Haines was at the weapons control station. Her uniform was gold, as she was on the command career track. Someday, the brown-haired, blue-eyed Trill hoped to command her own starship, and Cynthia had little doubt that someday she would, if she survived the dangers of Starfleet service. Rachel's long, dark hair was up (of course), and her glyph-like Trill spots framed her beautiful face and throat. And through her pantyhose, more spots could be seen running down the sides of her legs, before disappearing into the tops of her boots.
The final member of the bridge crew was Ensign J-Lou Goodwind, at the helm. J-Lou was Andorian, her mini-dress was gold, like Rachel's, and her long, pale blond, almost silver hair was piled atop her head. J-Lou wasn't wearing pantyhose, and she'd carefully, neatly separated and discarded the long sleeves from her mini-dress. Technically, the absence of sleeves was a violation of regulations, but the officially sanctioned short sleeved and scoop necked mini-dress she usually wore was uniform bravo tango, and thus not on the malfunctioning replicators' menus. Yes, L-Lou was showing a lot of blue skin, but neither Cynthia nor her XO were about to put her on report for trying to be comfortable in the "heat."
A star appeared on the main screen's tactical display, the next system on Dreamcatcher's survey list.
Rachel pressed several buttons at her station and a number or corresponding bleeps, gleeps, and other electronic tones sounded. "I read one M-class planet, Captain" she said.
"Confirmed," Janice intoned from the science station.
"Standard orbit," Cynthia ordered.
"Standard orbit. Aye, Captain," J-Lou answered. Her forehead antennae wiggled and twitched as she pressed buttons and manipulated various levers. More beeps and bleeps sounded, the star field shifted, and a blue planet appeared and slowly grew in size. Dreamcatcher's inertial dampening field compensated for the maneuvers with ease. There was no sense of motion whatsoever as the Saladin-class starship swung into orbit.
Suddenly, the proximity alarm beeped.
"Contact ahead," Rachel announced. A cubical object appeared on the screen and grew in size. "It's maneuvering at high impulse, and its dimensions are..." Rachel's eyes popped wide as she studied the display at her station. "Captain, it's the size of a K-class starbase!" Another alarm sounded. "It's locking on a tractor beam!"
"Shields up!" Cynthia commanded as the ship began to shake. "Condition red!"
"Shields are ineffective, Captain" Janice intoned calmly.
Suddenly, an alto, melodious female voice with a chilling, machine-like quality spoke over every speaker on Dreamcatcher.
"We are Nomad.
Your technological distinctiveness will be added to our own,
and we will maidify your female pulchritude.
Resistance is futile."
"What the hell does 'maidify' mean?" Cynthia demanded. She turned to Kiera. "So now the universal translator is glitching?"
Kiera punched buttons at the engineering station, then heaved a relieved sigh. "No, Captain."
"I have accessed the Federation Database," Janice announced as she punched science station buttons in a blur of flying fingers. "There is a large collection of files, collectively labeled 'We-R-Nomad,' which reference a process called 'maidification.' It shall take time to ascertain their relevance."
"Study it later," Cynthia ordered. "We're in the middle of something."
"Yes, Captain," Janice responded.
Suddenly, a fanfare of ominous music sounded over the bridge speakers.
"What the hell is that?" Cynthia demanded.
"I believe we are about to go to commercial, Captain," Janice explained.
Cynthia turned and stared at her XO, her cat-like, amber eyes wide, her ears back, and her whiskers twitching with surprise. "Go where?"
Suddenly, the music rose to a crescendo and all the lights faded to black!
The bridge lighting returned to normal. The giant Nomad cube was still centered on the main view-screen with the M-class planet in the background. Nothing had changed, but before Cynthia could ask her XO for the coordinates of the planet "Commercial" and ask why she thought Dreamcatcher might be going there—
"Transporter activity on deck twelve!" Rachel announced.
"The transporter beam is cycling through frequencies harmonic to our shields," Janice said. "Somehow, it is maintaining a pattern lock."
Cynthia punched a button on the armrest of her chair. "All hands, prepare to repel boarders." Her voice echoed throughout the ship. She punched another button. "Security to deck twelve." Why is it always deck twelve? Cynthia mused. Every time something happens—deck twelve.
A small panel popped open at each watch station, including the captain's chair, and Cynthia and her crew reached into the compartments revealed and pulled out hand-phasers. With practiced professionalism, each officer checked the charge of her weapon, confirmed it was set on "stun," then slapped it against the static attachment pad sewn into the right hip of her mini-dress uniform. They then returned to studying their displays, punching buttons, and sliding levers.
"More transporter activity!" Rachel said. "Deck three!"
Cynthia punched the button, again. "Security to deck three."
"Transporter activity on—" Janice didn't complete her report. It wasn't necessary. The air was shimmering and sparkling at dozens of locations around the bridge. Some of the incoming objects were small, only about ten centimeters in height, vaguely humanoid in shape, and near the deck—but most were even smaller, about four centimeters in diameter, roughly spherical, and were appearing in midair.
Cynthia and her crew drew their phasers and began firing at the objects. The transporter beams dissipated, but were replaced by the shimmer of energy shields surrounding every object touched by a phaser beam.
The larger objects were, indeed, humanoid—or more correctly ursoid! They were teddy bears! Fluffy, cuddly, undeniably cute teddy bears! Teddy bears wearing tactical harnesses and battle helmets! They moved with waddling gaits, but were fast. They danced around the Starfleet defenders, dodging phaser fire and converging on individual targets.
The more numerous smaller objects were something like tiny Starfleet shuttles—or flying saucers—or both. They hovered on ducted fans and dodged fire, like the teddy bears.
Cynthia watched in horror as three of the tiny hovering craft wove a tight pattern around Ensign Goodwind. Silver ribbons, about two centimeters in width, reeled from their bodies and wrapped around J-Lou, pinning her blue arms to her sides and her knees together. The ribbons were self-adhesive, and band after band tightened around the frantically struggling little Andorian. Then, one of the bears hopped on her shoulders and popped a ball-gag in her mouth!
Similar battles were happening all across the bridge, and Starfleet was losing—big time!
Cynthia had her own problems. Three bears and five of the tiny, hovering tape-dispensers were binding her arms behind her back, mummifying her hand-paws, wrists, and arms in band after tight band of silver, all the way up to her elbows! She managed to swing her tail and swat one of the tape-dispensers against a bulkhead—but it quickly returned to its tape dispensing duties, apparently undamaged. A bear popped a ball-gag in Cynthia's mouth—"Mrr'Rrrf!"—and its strap tightened. Her fangs sunk into the semi-soft sphere, then bands of silver tape tightened around her head, mummifying her lower face from chin to nose-pad.
Cynthia continued to fight, but soon her ankles were taped together, as were her knees, and more tape pinned her mummified arms against her torso. Horizontal silver bands passed above and below her breasts and around her waist and forearms. Her tail was pinned by the same bands, but with sufficient slack so as not to cause her pain. The end of her tail, including the tuft, twitched in anger and distress.
By this time, the rest of the bridge crew were like their captain, helpless prisoners writhing on the carpeted deck, mewling through ball and tape gags and fighting their bonds. Janice was the exception. She was just as helplessly bound and gagged as the others, but with Vulcan logic she seemed to have concluded that resistance was, indeed, futile.
The tape-dispensers shimmered and were transported away. Apparently, their role in securing the captives was done. The bears remained, and began attaching pairs of small, streamlined objects, each roughly the size and shape of a Starfleet communicator, to the captives' upper bonds, one on either side of their boob-framing silver bands. They also snapped steel collars around their necks.
Cynthia struggled and squirmed as the objects attached to her bonds hummed and she was lifted to her bound feet. They were anti-gravity lift-modules. A bear was sitting on her right shoulder. Cynthia rolled her shoulders and tried using her gagged head to dislodge the cute, cuddly kidnapper—but suddenly, a mildly painful shock was delivered by her collar! "R'rrrf!" Okay, she thought, lesson learned. Cynthia stopped struggling. She was still angry and defiant, of course, but would just as soon not be shocked.
The others had, apparently, received similar lessons. They offered no resistance as the bears passed steel cables from captive to captive, attached them to their collars, and formed the prisoners into a coffle.
J-Lou was in the lead and the cable dangling from the front of her collar was clutched in a bear's furry little paw. It waddled towards the bridge lift with J-Lou hopping to keep up. Next came Kiera, then Rachel, Janice, and finally, Cynthia. A bear perched on the shoulder of each captive, the prisoners hopped and hopped. The lift modules provided support only if it was necessary to keep a captive from losing her balance. As the prisoners jumped, their boobs flopped with every landing in a most humiliating manner.
It was a tight fit, but Cynthia, her entire bridge crew, and all the bears managed to squeeze into the lift. Inane, generic music played softly over the speakers as the lift descended. This was surprising, as Starfleet vessels in general, and Dreamcatcher in particular, never used elevator music. Luckily, the tune playing was at least moderately tolerable, an orchestral version of a ballad of unrequited romantic longing. Famous across the Federation and known space, it had even been made into a Klingon Opera. It was... The Girl From Ipanema.
Shoulder to shoulder and boob to boob, the captives stood in gagged silence. L-Lou's antennae twitched and the cups on the ends traced jerking orbits, signalling her nervous distress.
Cynthia squirmed in her bonds and growled through her gag. She didn't care if it was illogical. Captain Cynthia M'Webbel had lost her command to a collection of teddy bears and floating tape dispensers! She was pissed off!
The lift doors whisked open and Cynthia and the others were led down the corridor towards transporter room three. Ahead were a score or more of Cynthia's crew, identically bound and gagged and formed into coffles. The captive women formed a long line, periodically hopping forward, towards the open doors of the transporter room. Cynthia and her bridge officers hopped to the back of the line and joined the queue.
The sound of the transporter pads being energized echoed down the corridor—the line advanced with a dozen boob-flopping hops—the transporter energized—the line advanced—etc. Cynthia had no doubt the same scene was playing out across the ship. Her crew was being transported away! Apparently, she would be last. This was appropriate, as she was Dreamcatcher's captain, but it was cold comfort.
Suddenly, the alto, female, machine-like voice of Nomad echoed down the corridor. "You know, ladies," Nomad sighed. "This is a somewhat limited scenario, don't ya think? I capture the ship, I capture the crew, you all get beamed to one of my cube-cruisers, transported to my nearest planet, and are maidified. Big whoop. There's no back end to the plot."
There's that word again, Cynthia thought, 'maidify.'
Nomad seemed to have read Cynthia's mind. "The maidification process is simple," Nomad explained. "Once you're bound, gagged, and under control, you get processed on the assembly line: stripped naked, dressed in a French maid costume, and your semi-permanent bonds are applied. Next, you undergo behavioral modification, to prepare you for a life of restrained domestic servitude in the form of feather-dusting, floor-mopping, dish-washing, making beds with crisp hospital corners, etc."
Cynthia frowned. "R'rrrf?" The others were equally confused.
"Hey!" Nomad huffed. "There's no greater calling for any beautiful, sentient, female, carbon-based life form than service to the machine as a bound and gagged French maid!"
Cynthia and the others were unconvinced.
"Anyway," Nomad continued. "Let's try something else, okay?"
Suddenly, all the lights went out, plunging the Starfleet captives into total darkness.
Janice, Rachel, and Kiera were in the control room off the SMAT chamber, studying the bank of giant, flat-screen monitors mounted in an arc along one wall and facing the keyboards and switch panels of the main control station. Through a large glass window to the left could be seen rack upon rack of super-computers in a large, climate-controlled chamber. The control room was quite comfortable, but beyond the glass, the rapidly circulating air surrounding the blinking and flashing cubes was decidedly frigid. To the right, a similar window looked out onto the SMAT chamber, itself.
Cynthia was in mid session, and hi-definition video of her naked, tightly restrained body filled the control room's center screen. Numerical data and animated graphs scrolled and flickered on the screens to either side. Cynthia was strapped to the elevated table with her head at the center of the DSM array, just as Kiera had been during her first session; however, there was one change: a pair of VRD goggles were strapped over Cynthia's eyes.
The VRD (Virtual Retinal Display) was one of Sally's inventions. It was similar to the Optical Head-Mounted Display (OHMD) used by Google Glass, but far more advanced. The system tracked the focus and dilation of Cynthia's eyes and painted hi-definition images that seemed to float in her field of vision. It presented data, including full video, and sensed the wearer's choices from menus as they appeared.
During all SMAT sessions after the first, Cynthia and the others interacted with the system via VRD, and provided additional feedback by tapping a set of simple keys under their fingers. At the moment, the goggles were presenting Cynthia with the latest in a series of increasingly difficult mathematical problems. All of the sessions after the first required the test subject to solve problems, play simple games, or watch videos and answer questions. The DSMs mapped her brain activity and the images and her responses provided context. The team's task was to try and put the two together, so they could model a functioning human brain in full detail.
The VRD goggles used in the SMAT chamber were specially constructed from clear plastic, with the circuitry and retinal projectors shielded from the DSMs. Like the pedestal table and restraints, they were "invisible" to the system.
Less specialized versions of the technology existed, and increasingly, the research team found themselves wearing VRD glasses almost all of their waking hours. They were that useful. Janice, Rachel, and Kiera were wearing them now, but their VRDs were eyeglasses with designer frames, of course, not goggles. They watched the image of Cynthia's naked, restrained, slowly writhing form on both the wall-mounted screen and their VRDs, and Sally was melding the two into one realistic three-dimensional image.
Suddenly, J-Lou's smiling, two-dimensional face appeared in the upper right corner of all three VRDs, and all three of her fellow team members focused on the "accept" icon of their VRD displays.
"Hi, guys," J-Lou said. "The departmental symposium is over and I'm on my way back to Rook House. Tell Cynthia she's in deep trouble for skipping out on her solemn professorial obligations. Her absence was noted."
"That's the beauty of tenure," Janice chuckled. "Cynthia can ignore academic politics, unless she wants to be the next department head, which she doesn't."
"Tell her she didn't miss anything," J-Lou continued. "We still on for this Sunday?" The entire team was invited over to Cynthia's bungalow for a backyard barbeque, together with J-Lou's charges, the "Rook House Rapscallions," and a handful of other Lewis & Clark faculty, students, and staff.
"Of course," Kiera responded. "She already bought the food."
"Burgers, hotdogs, ribs, brisket, and chicken," Janice sighed. "We're all going to gain five pounds."
"Brilliant," J-Lou said with a dimpled smile. "I'll see you in the morning."
"Work on your dissertation," Rachel ordered.
"Shut it," J-Lou laughed, then broke the connection.
The trio returned to watching Cynthia's naked, tightly restrained, slowly squirming body.
"Whose turn is it to cook?" Janice asked. The three SIAS residents, one permanent and two temporary, had started taking turns preparing the evening meal, with Sally's robotic assistance, of course.
"Uh, me." Rachel muttered. "I guess I better get started."
"I guess," Kiera agreed.
Seconds passed... and turned into a minute. They were all still staring at Cynthia's nude, wiggling, strapped-down image.
"Well?" Janice said, finally.
"I'm going," Rachel sighed, and made her exit.
Janice and Kiera's full attention remained on the screen... and Cynthia.
"You have someplace you need to be?" Janice asked.
"Nope," Kiera answered.
"Me neither," Janice responded.
Dinner was broiled tilapia with mustard-chive sauce, and it was excellent. Rachel had outdone herself.
Afterwards, Janice, Rachel, and Kiera watched a little TV in the common lounge, then retired to their individual suites for the night.
Kiera changed into one of her usual sleeping costumes, a lacy, baby-doll nightie in antique ivory. It was decidedly skimpy, with spaghetti straps and a hem that just barely reached her upper thighs. The nightie and matching panties did little to hide Kiera's body, but she'd always worn something to bed, and liked the way the whisper-thin fabric felt against her skin.
She pulled down the bed covers and prepared to slide between the sheets, then noticed the book resting on the nightstand. It was Rachel's copy of Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. Kiera had finished reading the Sci-Fi novel three days ago, but kept forgetting to return it. She pulled on her terrycloth robe, cinched the sash, stepped into a pair of slippers, then picked up the book and headed for Rachel's suite.
As Kiera approached Rachel's door, it slid open and Rachel's voice sounded. "Come in, Kiera."
Kiera crossed the threshold and continued through the lounge area to the bedroom. She already knew the answer, but asked the obvious question anyway. "How did you know I was coming?"
"Sally," Rachel's voice answered as her bedroom door whisked open.
"Sally," Kiera chuckled as she entered the bedroom. "Always the busybody."
Kiera's eyes widened. Rachel was in bed, on her back, comfortably reclined against a pile of pillows and reading from an iPad—and was completely nude. Kiera quickly regained her composure. All the team members had witnessed each other nude and strapped to the table in the SMAT chamber, at least once for each member in the case of Kiera, the newcomer, and several times in the case of the others. Rachel's toned, athletic, perfectly proportioned body was no mystery; but the smiling, naked brunette was an alluring sight, nonetheless.
"I've been meaning to return this," Kiera explained, indicating the book in her hand. "You were right. It's really good. I wish Hollywood would make it into a movie."
"Wouldn't that be amazing?" Rachel agreed.
Kiera nodded as she set the book down on the nightstand. "Anyway... thanks." She turned to leave.
"Wait," Rachel called. "Let's talk."
The merest hint of a blush touched Kiera's freckled cheeks as she returned to the bed.
"Let me see your nightie," Rachel said. "It looks pretty."
Not really knowing why she did it, Kiera released the sash and shrugged out of her robe.
"Oh, I'm right!" Rachel gushed.
A wry smile curling her lips, Kiera executed a graceful pirouette. "I bought it in Pittsburgh, but I'm sure Sally can find you a Victoria's Secret that's a little closer."
Rachel laughed. "I'm sure she can, but I like sleeping in the buff. Always have." She patted the mattress. "Have a seat."
Kiera sat on the edge of the bed.
"Sally tells me you and Cynthia used to tie each other up when you were an undergrad," Rachel continued, "to practice escaping, for when Lillian Steele was in town. Is that true?"
Kiera jumped to her feet. "What?" Her blush was now unmistakable. "Sally!" she huffed. "You have a big mouth!"
"A big virtual mouth, Freckles," Sally's disembodied voice agreed. "I thought it would be good for Rachel to know that you have history with Lillian. She also had an adventure involving Ms. Steele, although Rachel's was somewhat different." [Authors note: See the story Bad Robot! for the details, if you're interested.]
Kiera noticed Rachel was also blushing. "Sally, your gossiping subroutine is malfunctioning."
"Actually," Sally purred, "I think all my subroutines are functioning perfectly. We're all friends here."
"Don't be mad," Rachel said to Kiera, taking her hand. "Sally, if Kiera is curious, I don't mind if you tell her what happened, meaning my story."
"Okay," Sally answered. "Now, if you don't mind, I'm going offline for routine file maintenance."
Kiera and Rachel exchanged a knowing smile. Sally never, ever went offline. This was her way of giving them at least the façade of privacy. Sally the human-like avatar was going away. Sally the globally distributed artificial intelligence would remain, monitoring everything for their security... and "her" edification.
"Goodnight, Sally," Kiera and Rachel said in unison, then shared a giggle. Rachel was still holding Kiera's hand.
"In answer to your question," Kiera said, "yes."
Rachel frowned, then her smile returned. "Oh, the 'you and Cynthia used to tie each other up' question."
Kiera nodded. "How 'bout you?" She was both blushing and kidding.
Rachel laughed. "No, Cynthia has never tied me up." Her blush returned. "But Sally does."
Kiera frowned. "Sally?"
Rachel nodded. "Sally's robots, actually. It's fun."
"Fun," Kiera whispered to herself.
Rachel's smile turned rather coy. "When was the last time you were tied up?"
Kiera's blush intensified. "Uh, not for years. Not since I graduated from Lewis & Clark."
"I see." Rachel released Kiera's hand, gracefully climbed to her feet, and made her naked way to the chest of drawers. She bent at the waist to open the bottom drawer, giving Kiera a perfect view of her long legs and firm buttocks, then returned to the bed with a smile and several neat coils of conditioned, antique-gold rope.
Kiera blinked in surprise as Rachel climbed back onto the bed, knelt, released a coil of rope, found the center, and formed a doubled loop. She opened her mouth to inquire as to Rachel's intentions, but it was obvious. Kiera bit her lower lip but said nothing as the doubled loop dropped over her head and shoulders and Rachel pulled it tight, pinning her upper arms against her sides and passing below her breasts. She still said nothing as double strand followed double strand, with Rachel holding her close as she adjusted the position of the bands and made sure they lay flat against Kiera's freckled skin and the ivory fabric and lace of her whisper-thin nightie.
Rope slithered and tightened as Rachel tied periodic hitches in Kiera's bonds, to maintain the tension. The brunette's efforts coalesced into a classic box-tie, with Kiera's wrists crossed and raised behind her back, but not in a punishing reverse-prayer. Kiera's wrists were bound against her spine but well below her shoulder blades. Doubled strands of rope yoked her shoulders and cinched the horizontal bands passing above and below her breasts, between her upper arms and torso. Rachel passed additional strands over Kiera's shoulders and pinched the breast-framing bands into an "X," slightly squeezing the fabric-covered but quite visible breasts in question.
"That isn't too snug, is it?" Rachel purred. Her mouth was an inch from Kiera's right ear. She was maintaining her embrace and additional rope was tightening around Kiera's waist.
"N-no," Kiera stammered, then bit her lip, again. Rachel was tying a crotch-rope, linked to the back of the box-tie. A doubled vertical strand, with periodic knots tied along its length at just the right places, was passed between Kiera's legs and snugged tight. She gasped as the knots cleaved her labia and her captor tied off the free end. Next, she watched as Rachel bound her legs together, at the thighs, above and below her knees, and around her crossed ankles.
Kiera squirmed on the bed, testing her bonds. Rachel knew her stuff. The key knots of the box-tie were nowhere near her wiggling, questing fingers. Her lower bonds prevented her from bending her legs to any significant degree, and even if she could have bent her legs, the key knots were tied in the front and out of reach, even if her wrists had been simply bound behind her back. With her wrists crossed, raised, and lashed against her spine, the knots might as well have been saturated in epoxy glue that had long since dried.
Meanwhile, Rachel returned to the chest of drawers, then strolled back to the bed holding a pair of neatly folded silk scarves. She smiled and watched Kiera wiggle, squirm, and try to kick her bound legs.
Finally, Kiera surrendered to the inevitable and heaved a tragic and blatantly theatrical sigh. "You're good," she said, gazing up at her naked captor.
"And you're beautiful," Rachel responded.
Kiera's blush returned... not that it had ever completely left. "Right," she huffed. "I'm a ginger freak. You're beautiful."
Rachel climbed onto the bed, snuggled against Kiera's bound body and embraced her from the side, then pulled the covers over both of them. "Don't be silly, Freckles," she whispered in Kiera's ear, then kissed her neck. "You're beautiful." She lifted the still folded scarves so Kiera could see them. "Now, if you make any noise during the night, I'll gag you, understand? We both need our beauty sleep."
Kiera couldn't help but smile. Also, she was aroused. A beautiful, naked woman had tied her up and intended to spoon with her, all night. How could she not be aroused? "Uh, Rachel?" she whispered. "Where is this going?"
"Well," Rachel answered, then paused to turn Kiera's head and plant another kiss, this time on her captive's lips. "You're not going anywhere, Freckles, and we're both going to sleep. And tomorrow night... you tie me up." She waved the palm of her free hand over the sensor pad on the nightstand and all the lights in the bedroom faded out. Only a weakly glowing nightlight remained.
Seriously? Kiera thought. No finger fiddling? No vibrator? No nothing? She squirmed in her comfortable but inescapable bonds... and the knotted crotch-rope slid through her pussy. Well, not totally nothing.
Of course, it would be rude, not to mention embarrassing, to try to ride the crotch-rope to some sort of orgasm. But tomorrow night would be different. Tomorrow night Rachel would be the prisoner and Kiera would be in charge.
Kiera had some thinking to do.