CROWN Affair

by Van © 2003
Chapter 17
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In the safety of one of the island's countless "natural" stone redoubts, hidden by the leaves and shadows of a dense thicket, Katherine watched a Zodiac rigid inflatable boat approach the lagoon-side beach.  "So much for the promise of 'four weeks of total isolation'," she muttered under her breath. "It's only been seventeen days... I think... yes, seventeen!"  Katherine was enjoying this interlude of study and meditation (although she had been talking to herself (without realizing it) from Day Nine).

The "Forest Isle" was a wilderness of laurel, cedar, and fir.  It was studded with numerous naturally occuring ancient groves, and appeared to be completely wild, but cleverly camouflaged catch basins and low stone "rip rap" storm barriers built across most of the island's ravines and dry stream channels slowed runoff and captured generous portions in mountainside ponds and underground cisterns.  The result of this careful husbandry was bubbling brooks, small waterfalls, shallow pools in dappled glades, and significantly more greenery than was found on the other islands of the archipelago.  There was an abundance of wildlife, including a herd of the small deer native to this part of the Mediterranean.  Rabbits and squirrels abounded, their numbers checked by birds of prey and foxes; and the island was a regular stopover for migrating songbirds.  

Katherine had been dumped on the island naked, bound, and gagged (of course), by Helena, with instructions to make her way to a clearing halfway up the island's central peak.  "There you'll find several books Tommy wants you to read, and some supplies," the Dark Priestess had explained, then departed, in what was probably the very same boat Katherine was watching approach.  Her eyes were on the bobbing craft, but her thoughts remained on Day One.  It took most of three exhausting hours, but Katherine had finally managed to hop to a game trail and kangaroo her way to the clearing.  As Helena had done her usual superbly competent job of binding Katherine with an overabundance of tight, restrictive, well hitched rope (with the knots epoxied), hopping had been the prisoner's only option.  Given Helena's "sense of humor," she expected to find thirty cans of beans in a neat stack (with no opener) and a dull spoon.  Instead, she found a truly magnificent Bowie knife with a graceful, double recurved blade, a fighting hilt, and a wire bound ivory handle.  It was embedded point first in a log at the edge of the clearing.

Katherine made short work of her bonds, then examined her surroundings.  The clearing was modest, with a small fire pit in its center; but off to one side, sheltered under several mature firs, a log hut was built into the mountainside.  Its sod roof was festooned with ferns and shade-loving wildflowers.  She opened the hut's door... and discovered a large apartment, complete with modern bathroom (shower and sauna), a kitchen (with fully stocked refrigerator, pantry, and freezer), a comfortable set of overstuffed chairs and sofas surrounding a large stone fireplace, and a huge bed with a frame of peeled logs.  Everything was state-of-the-art and functional, but designed to appear primitive and rustic.  In short, the ambiance was Spartan, but Katherine had all the comforts of the 21st Century... excepting TV, the Internet, and a phone.

There was also a small cache of clothing in a cedar trunk by the bed, several variations on a single theme: leather bikini. All were purposely ragged and fringed, ranging in color from dark tan suede to gleaming, pebbled, cedar brown.  There were also several pair of sandals (some slipper-style, and some that laced up to her knees) and moccasin boots, all of which matched the bikinis.

In addition, there was a sheath for her knife; and in a rack by the door: a spear; short sword; broad sword; poleax; battle-ax; several throwing axes; arrows, quiver, and bow; as well as a note in Kimber's handwriting that read:


In the bathroom, next to a brush and comb set, she found a doeskin bag that clinked when she hefted it.  Inside she found her half-moon silver hair clip, as well as all the numerous beads and charms with which she had been gifted at various milestones in her training.  There was also something new: a pair of exquisite spiral torques of hammered gold, for her upper arms.  They were heavy and thick at their centers, but tapered to blunt, graceful laurel leaves... and they were beautiful!

Finally, in a shelf near the fireplace, there were more than a hundred books, some technical, some philosophical, and some fiction.  Tucked between two volumes was a folded note in Thomasina's hand:

"Ignorance is the cutting edge of knowledge."

I wonder if that's a quote, Katherine mused, then selected a volume on the philosophy of science and began her studies.

Katherine's thoughts returned to the present.  The Zodiac slowed as it approached the beach.  George was at the wheel, dressed in a sleeveless wetsuit of black neoprene.  Katherine had long since learned that with "Male Mountain," the direct approach was always best.  She stepped from hiding and onto the beach.  George smiled, waved, and tossed her the bow line.

The forward keel of the Zodiac nudged the sand, and Thomasina's personal bodyguard looked Katherine up and down with an appreciative smile.  Today's bikini was fringed buckskin in a rust brown.  Sandals were bound to her feet, their long laces criss-crossing her shins and calves.  Her sheathed Bowie knife rode her right hip, and leather bracers were laced on her wrists and forearms.  A strung bow and quiver of arrows were slung over her shoulders.  Her hair was swept back in a loose ponytail, restrained by her silver barrel clip at the nape of her neck.  A pair of thin, tight braids framed her smiling face, and were decorated with beads and charms of silver, moonstone, pearl, and turquoise.  The gold torques dimpled the tan, toned flesh of her upper arms.  "The very picture of a 'Forest Amazon!'" George sighed.

Katherine's smile broadened and she felt a blush color her cheeks.  "Ever the charmer," she mumbled.  "Good evening, George."

"Good evening, Huntress," he responded.  "I have something for you."  He reached down and produced... Andrea!  The red-haired pixie was unconscious, limp as a rag doll, and dressed in her Flight Attendant's uniform: sky blue miniskirt and jacket, white silk blouse with black tie, white hose, and black heels... only everything was soiled and disheveled, the left shoulder of the jacket and blouse ripped open (revealing Andrea's smooth, freckled shoulder and upper arm), her stockings ripped and laddered, her right heel missing, her hair tangled, and her face smudged.  In addition, she was wearing a yellow Mae West life preserver, but it had a visible rip in one side, was missing its gas cartridge, and was very much not inflated.  "Poor, Ms. McCandless.  Her plane went down in the middle of the ocean, she was separated from the other survivors, and now she's washed up on the shores of this uncharted, seemingly deserted island.  Who knows what will become of her?"  George easily lifted Andrea over the side of the Zodiac, dipped her in the sea like a tea bag, then came forward to the bow, leaned forward, and gently settled her to the sand, just at the edge of the lapping water.

Katherine gazed down at the peacefully slumbering redhead.  She was on her stomach, her left face in the damp sand; her right arm bent at the elbow and slightly raised; the pale, freckled fingers of her right hand in a delicate curl.  "And I'm the beachcombing 'Forest Amazon' who finds her."  She lifted her gaze to George.  "Grown adults, dressing up in costumes and playing make-believe," she sighed, shaking her head.

George was back at the controls of the Zodiac.  "Isn't it great?" he asked, and winked.  Katherine tossed the bow line back aboard, and George began backing into the lagoon.  "She'll wake up in about an hour," he advised, then turned the wheel and accelerated away.

Katherine waved, then knelt and gently turned Andrea onto her back.  The diminutive beauty was wet, oil stained, and bedraggled, now with wet sand clinging to half her body, hair, and ruined clothing,  ...and she never looked cuter.  She lifted the soggy, dripping "Flight Attendant/Crash Survivor" first into her arms, then onto her shoulder, and carried her into the forest.
Chapter 17
At the clearing, Katherine gently set her still slumbering burden on the ground in front of the first of several young myrtles growing in a rough row opposite the entrance to the hut.  Their boles were all straight and vertical, clear of branches for the first seven or eight feet.  She lifted Andrea and placed her back against the base of the tree, pulled her hands behind the sapling's six inch trunk, pulled a length of braided cord from a pocket sewn in the side of her quiver, crossed Andrea's wrists, and carefully, meticulously, bound them tightly together.  She used all her tricks (old and new) to insure the bands would remain snug with the knots unreachable, yet would preserve the precious prisoner's circulation.  She then pulled out a second length of cord, bound the redhead's ankles, and stepped back.

Tied against the tree, her ruined uniform ripped and stained, her head and shoulders drooping forward, her smudged and gleaming face lost behind the tangled curtain of her copper-red curls, the "Captured Survivor" was a pitiful (erotic) sight.

By this time, the shadows under the trees had merged to full night, and only the last glow of the sunset was visible in the western sky.  Katherine smiled, walked the several paces to the fire pit, built a small fire, brought coals from the hut's fireplace in a nest of cedar bark, blew them to flaming life, and set the wood and kindling ablaze.  She then returned to the hut and emerged without her bow and quiver, but with several coils of cotton rope.  The braided fibers were mottled and dyed to resemble hemp, but were smooth and soft.  She dropped the coils on the ground, half by Andrea's tree, and half by the tree next to it, then returned to the fire.

Katherine selected two straight, short, relatively thick sticks of dry wood, drew her knife, sat cross-legged on the ground, and began whittling.  She cleaned the bark from the sticks, gave them deep notches at each end, then began wrapping their lengths with wet, ribbon-wide, leather thongs.  When she was finished, she had what were unmistakably two bit-gags with long leather thong ends trailing from each side, crude but obviously quite functional.

Katherine admired her work, tossed one gag towards the rope near the second tree, then shifted her gaze to Andrea.  She was unsurprised to find the disheveled prisoner awake and gazing at her with sad green eyes.  "So," Katherine asked her captive, "got a story to tell?"

Andrea sighed, twisted her bound wrists, and shook her head.  "Not really.  Sally was showing me a variation on the Bombay Trojan Shuffle, when—"

"The what?" Katherine interrupted.

"It's a hack."

"Oh... Never mind."  Katherine knew her way around a keyboard, but had long since come to realize that she'd never be anywhere near as good as Andy or Krippendorf... especially Krippendorf.  "Continue."

"There isn't much to continue," Andrea sighed.  "I saw Helena grab Sally from behind, then got a face full of Soma from Kimber... and here I am."

"And here you are," Katherine purred, picked up the second bit-gag, flowed gracefully to her feet, and sauntered towards her prisoner.  "George explained the game," she said.  "When he delivered you to my island."

"Your island," Andrea laughed (nervously), tossing her head in a futile attempt to tame her tousled red locks.  "You've been out here too long.  This is Tommy's—m'mmpfh!"

Katherine had thrust the bit between Andrea's teeth, and had taken a single hitch in the leather thongs at the nape of her neck.  She lifted the captive's dimpled chin, thrust the bit deeper, until it pressed the corners of the mewing pixie's mouth, then tightened the hitch and turned it into a square knot... then a double square knot.  She then took a step back and gazed down at her bound and now gagged prisoner, hands on hips and a decidedly feral smile on her lips.  "Of course it's Tommy's island, silly," she said, "now, get with the program.  You're an air crash victim washed up on the shores of uncharted nowhere, and I'm the Forest Amazon who's had a very good day of beachcombing."  She drew her knife and slowly tilted the blade, watching Andrea's eyes follow the glint and flash of the razor-sharp edge.  "Let's see now... You've violated the shore of Artemis' Sacred Isle, and I am her Hermit-Priestess.  So... either you're a sacrifice from Poseidon, a gift between the divine twins... or a gift for me.  In any case, on the goddess' behalf, I accept!"  She leaned close, slashed the straps of Andrea's Mae West, then tossed the vest on the fire.  "I have a set of chains in the hut," she explained, as she began slicing Andrea's already ruined jacket.  "With proper training... proper extensive training..."  The jacket was tossed on the fire and Katherine started on Andrea's blouse.  "'ll make a suitable temple slave."  The skirt followed the blouse into the flames, then Katherine put more wood on the blaze, to insure Andrea's costume would be completely consumed.

She returned to the tree, and slowly, carefully, sliced and ripped Andrea's slip from her body; then her bra, garter belt, stockings, her remaining heel (Poseidon having kept the other for his extensive collection), and lastly, her panties.  All were sacrificed to the flames.  Andrea's entire body was smudged and slightly oil stained, glistening in the firelight.  Katherine admired her captive's pale, toned, freckled body; perfect under its patina of grease and soot.  She lifted the naked prisoner to her bound feet, being careful not to scrape her back, rump, or arms against the myrtle's bark.  Holding her in place against the trunk, she took a turn of rope around Andrea's wasp-thin waist and the tree, tied it off, then set to work.

Andrea was tied to the tree from shoulders to ankles.  The rope was tight, the dozens of loops and hitches symmetrically and perfectly positioned.  The redhead twisted and squirmed in her bonds, but escape was a hopeless impossibility.  "Such a pretty package," Katherine gloated, tying the free ends of her captive's bit-gag behind the tree as a final touch.  "There," Katherine said, taking a step back.  "After your slave training has reached a suitable stage," she purred, running her hands over the quivering captive's rope-framed breasts," you can help me build an altar to the goddess on the summit of the mountain."  Her hands traveled lower, and Andrea yelped through her gag as Katherine's left hand parted her labia and her right index caressed her clitoris.  "I wasn't looking forward to hauling all those heavy stones all the way up the steep slopes... but now I don't have to."  The caress became deep and rhythmic, and the helpless pixie began responding, straining against her bonds to grind her roped and harnessed hips against Katherine's hand.  "Part of your duties as Artemis' slave will be giving her priestess pleasure," Katherine whispered, then withdrew her hands, leaving Andrea quivering in frustration.  "But only after you're properly trained, of course.  For tonight, your sole duty is to act as bait, and I know you can do that, even without training."  She winked, then stepped into the forest and silently disappeared into the night.

Andrea squirmed in her bonds, doing her best to ignore the lingering remnants of the aroused state her 'Forest Amazon' captor had induced with her talented fingers.  She gazed at the blazing fire; then up to the first stars of night, appearing overhead; then down at the second bit-gag and the coils of rope waiting at the base of the neighboring tree.  The helpless captive sighed through her gag.  Damn!  She's figured it out.
Chapter 17
A glass face plate and neoprene hooded head emerged from the sea near the Forest Isle.  Its position was opposite a jumble of large boulders, a quarter mile from the beach where George had delivered his cargo.  The head dipped back below the surface, several seconds passed, then it reemerged at the base of one of the half submerged rocks.  The head (and the body attached) negotiated the swirling water surrounding the rocks and made its way to the shore.  It paused several seconds to examine the tree line... then, swim fins in one hand, making very little noise and moving with great economy, darted across the clutter at the high tide mark and into the forest.

Under the shelter of a fallen log the face plate and hood were removed, and the pixie face of Sally Krippendorf was revealed.  Her eyes on the surrounding trees, she unzipped and shrugged out of her equipment harness and wetsuit.  Underneath, she was wearing a spandex catsuit.  The full length, hooded garment was a dark, mottled camouflage, a jumble of earth tones chosen to blend with the night forest.  Thin, matching gloves were on her hands, and soft, sneaker-like, matching boots on her feet.  Her face, the only part of her body exposed to the still air, was blackened and carefully painted with streaks and blotches in dark earth tones.  Under the leaf litter she hid her wetsuit, fins, air bottle and regulator (it was an "octopus rig" with two mouthpieces on dangling hoses); shrugged back into her harness and tightened its straps; then began her search.

It took her three hours to find the clearing. ( You try skulking through unknown forested terrain at night without making noise or leaving tracks and see how quick you are!)  The fire had burned low, but a few flames were still flickering, and Sally could clearly see Andrea's bound and gagged condition.  The nude redhead's eyes were closed and she appeared to be asleep or unconscious, but the tight ropes encircling her smudged and glistening body held her upright against the tree, regardless.  Katherine was nowhere to be seen.   She's probably in the hut, Sally reasoned.

Sally suppressed a smile (her naked lover looked hot as a bound and gagged forest captive!)  I'm coming, Sweetie-pie!  She began crawling around the clearing, her target the dark side of Andrea's tree.  This took half of an additional hour, as Sally had to be sure Katherine (her opponent for this exercise) wasn't hiding nearby.  She finally made it to the base of the tree, straining in the darkness to make out the pattern of the ropes binding Little Red (her target) in place.  She eased forward... and almost tripped a taut, thin cord hidden in the leaf litter.   Damn!  Kath booby trapped the place!  Sally followed the cord to the side.... and discovered a collection of tin cans strung like wind chimes from the branches of a low bush, as well as several lines trailing from the bush in several different directions.   If I'd tripped the line behind Andy's tree...  The resulting clatter would have alerted 'The Huntress'... wherever she is.

The camouflaged pixie studied the trap, and discovered a weakness.  All she had to do was cut the cord leading behind Andrea's tree close to where it joined the nexus of other cords, but control the release of tension, and all would be quiet.  She knelt in the leaf litter beside the bush, pulled a small knife from a sheath in her harness, grasped the nexus of cords next to the bush with one hand, and slowly, carefully, sliced the cord leading to the tree.

Five things happened very quickly:  (1) There was a disturbingly loud twang as the cord was cut; (2) something slithered under the leaf litter and closed around Sally's boots; (3) the startled blonde was lifted into the air and found herself hanging head down from a rope looped around her ankles; (4) she dropped the knife; and (5) when her hand was jerked from its grip on the remaining cords, the cans in the bush rattled, clinked, and clanked like the bells of a hysterical herd of dairy cows fleeing a pack of wolves.

Make that six things:  (6) Katherine, resplendent in her Forest Amazon costume, stepped from the darkness and, hands on hips, smiled down at her friend's bobbing head.

"Uh... evenin'," Sally muttered.

"Good evening Krippendorf," Katherine responded.  "I take it this is a field exercise, in which you demonstrate your prowess at field craft and the rescue of prisoners?"

Sally continued bobbing up and down, but the cycle was slowly dampening.  "Yeah, something like that," the sheepish little blonde answered.  "I think I may have failed."

Katherine laughed.  "I know you failed.  Tell me why."

Sally reached for something in her harness, but quick as a fox, Katherine grabbed both her hands, swung her around, and began binding her wrists together behind her back.  Sally sighed and accepted her fate.  "I failed to analyze your double booby trap."

Katherine finished binding her new prisoner, retrieved Sally's knife from the leaf litter, and used it to slice off her harness.  It slithered to the ground, and she began carefully, meticulously, slicing off Sally's catsuit.  "What would Sun Tzu say?"

"Something in Chinese?"

Katherine smiled.  "'If you know the enemy and know yourself'..."

Sally sighed.  "...'you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.'"

Katherine continued to slice and peel Sally's costume from her helpless body.  "'If you know yourself but not your enemy'..."

"...'for every victory you will suffer a defeat,'" Sally muttered.

Katherine reached up and pulled off Sally's boots, then began slicing off her socks.  "Finally, 'if you know neither your enemy nor yourself..."

"You probably work at the Bush Junior White House," Sally quipped, then yelped when Katherine slapped her behind.

"Impertinent pup!" Katherine growled (suppressing a smile), then provided the correct response.  "...'you will succumb in every battle.'  Patience, Krippendorf!  On a rescue op in unknown territory you gotta have infinite... patience."

"I know you, Katherine," Sally muttered.

"In every sense," Katherine agreed, then pulled Sally's gloves from her hands and sliced off her panties and bra.  "...including the carnal; but Sun Tzu's axioms apply at every level, including the tactical.  You failed to scout the terrain in detail, otherwise you would have discovered my defenses; and most importantly, you would have discovered me.  What was going to be your escape route?"

"Uh... back to the rocks near the lagoon beach?"

"The way you came.  No alternate routes discovered, no places scouted where you could hide and wait for the next night if you had to..."  Katherine lowered her prisoner to the ground, lifted her to her bare feet, and hustled her towards the clearing.

"Andy needed rescuing now!" Sally protested.

"And now she isn't going to get it, is she?"  Katherine backed Sally against the tree next to the damsel-needing-rescue in question, and looped a rope around her throat and the trunk.

Sally turned her pinioned head to gaze at her helpless lover.  Andrea was awake and gazing back with sad, green eyes.  "No... she isn't," Sally answered with a sigh.

Katherine untied Sally's wrists, pulled them behind the tree, crossed and tied them once again, then released the rope around the sheepish pixie's throat.  "Hold still while I make you two a matched pair."

Within minutes she had done just that, binding Sally to the tree and matching the ropes binding Andrea band-for-band, loop-for-loop, hitch-for-hitch, and knot-for-knot.  Katherine returned to the area of Sally's capture and retrieved her ruined costume, tossed it on the fire, and added more wood.  The fire burned brightly, cracking, popping, hissing, and flaring as the nylon in her harness and boots melted and burned.  Finally, Katherine grinned and reached for the second bit-gag.

"Bitch!" Sally complained, squirming in her bonds as Katherine approached.  "Did you have to get all 'John Willie' with the damn rope?  I can hardly move."

Katherine smiled, and thrust the leather-wrapped bit between the little blonde's teeth and deep into her mouth, tied it off, then tied it to the tree, as she had with Andrea.  She took a step back and stood, hands on hips, admiring her work.  "There... pretty as a picture... to coin a phrase."  The captives turned their gagged heads to face each other, as far as their bonds would allow, then turned back to their gloating captor and sighed, in perfect unison.  Katherine laughed.  The 'lovebirds' were a miserable (incredibly erotic) sight: Andrea's pale skin soiled and glistening; Sally's relatively clean, tan skin gleaming in the firelight; Andrea's red curls a riotous, tousled mess;  Sally's disorderly blond mop crowning her now ridiculously camouflaged face; both tightly lashed to matching trees with a matching abundance of tight rope dimpling their flesh from shoulders to ankles.

Katherine reached out with both hands and captured one of each of her captives' breasts in a gentle squeeze.  "You two can stay like this 'til morning," she announced, eliciting a pair of mournful moans.  "Then one of you can cook my breakfast... in chains, of course... and the other can relax... roped in some suitably horrible contorted pose worthy of Helena.  I haven't decided who will be doing what."  She then released her holds, turned and faced the dark forest.  "And what about you, Tommy?" she asked in a raised voice.  "Are you going to stay out there all night?"
Chapter 17
Several seconds passed, then a figure stepped into the firelight. She (and it was unmistakably a she) was tall, athletic, and clad in a camouflaged catsuit, identical in all but size to the costume Katherine had removed from Sally; and the form-fitting, skintight garment left little to the imagination.  The newcomer's large breasts; narrow waist; long, strong legs; toned arms; graceful shoulders; and swan-like neck were completely covered, yet her perfect form was completely revealed.  There were two important differences between the newcomer's costume and Sally's: the hood completely covered her face, and her eyes were hidden behind a pair of night vision goggles.  The figure removed the goggles, then her hood, and shook out her long, straight, raven-black hair.  Katherine was correct.  The newcomer was Thomasina Crown.

"I can understand how you would surmise there might be a monitor present, to grade Pip's performance," Thomasina said, smiling coyly and nodding towards Sally, "but what made you so sure it was me?"

"George was wearing a wetsuit," Katherine responded.  Thomasina raised an eyebrow in question, and the grinning Forest Amazon continued.  "George changes into his rescue-swimmer outfit whenever you go swimming, or hadn't you realized?"

"I imagine the dear man changes into his wetsuit whenever I enter the bath," Thomasina purred.  "He's the consummate professional... and personally loyal... but how do you know he wasn't simply prepared to protect Sally during her swim to the island?"

"Sally swims like a fish," Katherine said, smiling affectionately at the helpless blonde.  "George doesn't worry about Sally... not in the water, anyway."  Sally blinked, not sure whether she had been complimented, or insulted, or both.  Katherine and Thomasina smiled, then turned to face one another directly.  "So... Sally flunks," Katherine continued.  "She didn't do that badly, though.  She's learning."

"Her field craft is coming along," Thomasina agreed.  "It's her tactical instincts that need work, as you've already determined.  I'm here to do more than mark Pip's report card, by the way."

Katherine's smile turned coy.  "Yes?"

"I'm here to congratulate you... Huntress."

Katherine's self assurance faltered.  "Congratulate me?"

Thomasina removed her gloves and produced a small, giftwrapped box from a pocket in her harness.  She tossed the box to Katherine, who smiled (blushed) and fumbled with the ribbon and wrappings until the box opened.  Inside was a necklace, a heavy silver chain with large moonstone beads, and at its center, a stylized, primitive/modern female figure in silver, with diamond eyes.  "The goddess!" Katherine gasped, lifting the necklace from the box.  The moonstones seemed to glow in the firelight, the chain and figure glistened, and the diamonds flashed.  "She's... beautiful," Katherine whispered.

Thomasina took the necklace from Katherine, stepped behind and reached around her shoulders, the necklace suspended between her strong, pale fingers.  Katherine lifted her arms and pulled her hair to the side, exposing her neck.  Thomasina draped the necklace and closed its clasp, then spun Katherine around and gave her a kiss.

Katherine pulled Thomasina into a tight embrace and returned the kiss, with gusto.  Sally and Andrea watched the pairs' tongues wrap, cheeks pucker, and lips suckle and smack; then turned their heads, exchanged a mournful, gagged pout... and sighed.  Meanwhile, Katherine had broken the embrace, taken a step back, and was attempting to examine her new gift.  "I... I can't really see it," she muttered.  The chain was short; not a choker, but short enough that when Katherine lifted the figure of the goddess, all she could see was the lower half.

"It's beautiful," Thomasina purred.  "You're beautiful.  That's a graduation gift, by the way."


Thomasina pulled Katherine back into her arms.  "You've passed all the critical milestones with flying colors.  Your studies will continue, of course; but consider yourself a probationary member of my Special Operations Team, code name 'Huntress'."  Katherine smiled (her eyes shining) and they kissed.  This time Thomasina pulled back.  "As a post-graduate exercise, there's an operation I'd like you to plan for us."

"I'll get right on it," Katherine whispered, and kissed Thomasina again.

"It can wait," Thomasina responded, running her hands over Katherine's back.  "We're taking the week off so you can celebrate."

"We?" Katherine purred, sliding her hands over Thomasina's firm, spandex-covered buttocks.

"We, as in all of us," Thomasina said.  "Kimber and Helena are busy, but I'm sure they'll find a chance to congratulate you and welcome you into the fold... eventually."

Katherine smiled.  Being congratulated by Kimber was a pleasant prospect.  Her smile faded.  Helena's welcome would probably be more of an initiation... if not a downright hazing.  She'd have to be on her guard.  Katherine's smile returned.  "So... we celebrate.  What does that mean, exactly."

Thomasina turned her head and gazed at Andrea and Sally, as did Katherine.  "Well... you and I will enjoy the pleasures of the Forest Isle: hiking, swimming, sunbathing, et cetera... a lot of et cetera.  And I like your idea of building an altar on the summit.  I'm sure the lovebirds won't mind doing the heavy lifting, as long as we let them cuddle together in their chains at night."

The "lovebirds" wiggled and squirmed in their stringent bonds, and forced several detailed, well reasoned, and completely unintelligible objections past their gags.

"I'm sure we'll find other labors for them to accomplish as well," Katherine purred, "...tongue exercises, perhaps."

"Perhaps," Thomasina agreed, then took a step back.  "So... how about a celebratory dinner?  I'm starving!"

"Me too," Katherine said.  The prisoners began nodding and mewing.  "No, I'm afraid you two will have to wait 'til breakfast," she said, eliciting a pair of mournful moans from the captive lovers.

Thomasina stepped forward and placed a hand on each prisoner's cheek (the one's on their faces).  "The Huntress is correct."  Her head swiveled to Sally.  "A few hours fasting and meditation will reinforce the evening's lesson..."  Her head swiveled to Andrea.  "...and as for you... We can't very well feed you, but not your companion.  That would be one of Helena's games."

Andrea sighed and nodded as much as her tree-bound gag would allow; then gasped and glared at her beloved Tommy (an amused twinkle in her gorgeous green eyes), realizing she had just been tricked into agreeing to go hungry for the night.

Thomasina laughed and took a step back, then turned to face Katherine.  "I have other plans for the evening as well," she said, "for after we eat."

Katherine's smile turned decidedly feral, and she flowed into ready stance.  "I'm sure you do, Your Majesty... but I hate being tied up, and I'm a fully trained graduate of The Kimber Sontag School of Hard Knocks.  I won't be so easy to take this time."

Thomasina smiled.  "You never were," she whispered, then continued in a normal voice.  "I'm a graduate as well, and her continuing student.  It's going to be an interesting match."

"Naked and oiled?" Katherine suggested.

"With all the breakables tucked safely away," Thomasina agreed.

Katherine crossed her arms across her chest.  "No weapons, no choke holds, no punching, and as few broken bones as possible."

Thomasina nodded.  "Kimber's modified Greco-Roman rules.  The winner enslaves the loser for... say... twenty four hours?"

Katherine spit in her right palm and held it out.  Thomasina grinned, spit in her palm and took Katherine's hand in a tight grip.  They laughed, draped their arms over each others' shoulders and headed for the hut.  Behind them, Sally and Andrea tried one last time to voice their piteous objections to being abandoned, nude, tree-bound and gagged, hungry and helpless in the dark, warm night.

Thomasina opened the door and motioned for Katherine to enter.  "You know what the worst part will be for those two?" she asked, nodding towards the squirming, mewing prisoners, "aside from the drooling, I mean."

Katherine bowed and crossed the threshold.  "Hearing us having all that fun and not being able to sneak in and watch?"

Thomasina laughed as she entered and closed the door behind them.  "Exactly."
Chapter 17

IN TOTO (almost)

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