Ex Machina
Taken by the Machine

by Van © 2023


Dramatis Personæ


Three days later, as promised, Alice returned to her acting career.  Dressed in a borrowed (requisitioned) business suit from one of Lydia's closets, she rode a robot-driven golf cart down the tunnel linking the mansion to ΛLIOS ÇYBRTRONICS World Headquarters.  There, she was met by a high-ranking but (slightly puzzled) executive from the Public Relations department.  The HQ's electronic visitor logs confirmed that Alice had been Lydia's guest for several days and that she'd been properly processed by Security upon her arrival.  There was even video.  The thing was... no one could actually remember Alice's arrival.  Then again, it had happened in the middle of the night and the stunning blonde had been Lydia Aelios personal guest, so everyone decided to let it slide.

The suit in question was summer-weight and had been altered to her exact measurements by Lydia's bots.  The jacket, blouse, skirt, and high heeled pumps, all in ercu-tan, perfectly hugged Alice's body, and/or were a perfect fit and she looked absolutely stunning!  Blond curls, tan skin, pale blue eyes, amazing smile—everybody stopped caring about her original arrival and simply stared (like lovesick idiots).  Alice was gorgeous!

There was a helicopter waiting at the ΛÇHQ Helipad and Alice was flown directly to Skywalker Ranch in Marin County for several days of talks with George Lucas and the new film trilogy's production team.  After that, she was flown to Burbank for similar meetings with the Disney people.  All was forgiven with respect to her bizarre and unconventional "abduction" by Lydia Aelios and the resulting disruption of the pre-production schedule.  Multiple checks with an absurd number of zeros have a way of assuaging the most colossal of bruised egos, even those of studio executives.  Needless to say, the folks at ILM and Legacy Effects were chomping at the proverbial bit to sink their teeth into ΛÇ's robotics technology.

Alice's career was back on track and her exquisite body none the worse for wear, and the same went for her mind and spirit.  Alice Lindgren was one tough cookie (as well as gorgeous).


Meanwhile, back at Lydia's Lair (which in all but name was now Edwina's Lair), Dr. Bliss had finished solidifying her cyber-control of Lydia's empire and was now the total (but unsuspected) power behind the throne at ΛLIOS ÇYBRTRONICS; however, she only gradually eased into direct interaction with the company's top level management.  Fortunately, the abrupt creation of a brand new movie-making subsidiary caused much less turmoil than might otherwise have been expected.  Almost all the required resources came directly from Lydia's personal discretionary funds (which were calculated to be in the Billions, depending on current economic indicators), and once the details of the proposal were revealed, everyone could see that once off the ground ΛÇ Cinematic Technologies would be a real moneymaker.

Initially (and surprisingly), Edwina found running a multi-billion dollar international enterprise like ΛLIOS ÇYBRTRONICS only consumed something like half of her time and energy.  The system's many Management Science, Economics, and Applied Mathematics expert system programs did most of the actual work.  The rest of Edwina's time was devoted to basic research, but she did set aside a few minutes a day to monitor what was happening to Lydia.

The day of the cyber-coup, only about two minutes of Edwina's time had been required to handle the Lydia problem.  Edwina simply took the schedule of erotic tortures and elaborate bondage predicaments Lydia had crafted for Alice and intended to test on Edwina herself and simply re-designated the original author as the new test subject.  In other words, instead of the robots doing unspeakably horrible (but ultimately harmless) things to Edwina, they did them to Lydia.  No muss, no fuss; however, while Lydia Aelios was undeniably a Prize Bitch, Edwina Bliss was not.  She eliminated or significantly toned down the most extreme items on the list.  Nonetheless, Lydia had a very rough first few weeks.

As time went by and the business side of things placed less and less of a demand on Edwina's time, her scientific research continued and she pursued a few extraneous side projects. 

First was the mansion.  Edwina was fine with the clean lines and mathematically pleasing proportions of the Ultramodern milieu, but not Lydia's unrelenting use of steel, glass and concrete.  So, with the help of a newly created interior decorating expert system, she went room by room and gradually redecorated with natural materials and fabrics, all in warm and carefully chosen earth tones.  The robots did all the work, of course, but Lydia's formerly cold and monotonous lair was becoming anything but.  It was a work in progress.

And speaking of works in progress, Edwina found she quite enjoyed letting her cyber-minions hack Alice's film project so she could follow the ins and outs of script evolution and the development of the costumes and creature and hardware effects.  (She even sneaked in a few personal suggestions via e-mails to Alice.)

Edwina also began paying slightly more attention to Lydia's daily routine.  The poor unfortunate bitch and former mistress of the mansion had started out being subjected to one seriously nasty test a day—followed by a day of rest—followed by the next outrage on Lydia's very own and very long list—lather-rinse-repeat—but after about two months Edwina modified the test regime to a single serious erotic and/or bondage ordeal followed by two days of rest and recuperation—and eventually one test followed by three to five days of R&R, with the exact timing being on a random and therefore unpredictable basis (for Lydia).

Exercise was another matter.  The robots kept the bitch on a rigorous and regular regimen, and some sort of bondage was usually an element of Lydia's daily sessions... just on general principles.

Lydia's nutrition and general health were also well regulated.  She received systematic and very thorough medical and dental examinations (always with bondage as her cooperation couldn't be assumed).  Also, while Lydia's diet started out with the same near-tasteless but fiber-rich pablum and semi-fluids the system had inflicted on Edwina and Alice when they were her captive test subject and girlfriend, respectively, eventually Edwina reprogrammed the system to add increasing numbers of normal food items to the menu.

And speaking of general health, with Edwina's approval and by mechanical means, the system brought Lydia to a crashing orgasm at least once a day, but on an unpredictable basis.  As mentioned before, Lydia might be a bitch, but Edwina was not, or at least not a mean bitch.  (Besides, Edwina found watching video of a naked and helpless Lydia writhing in ecstasy to be a surprisingly entertaining and relaxing diversion.)

As for clothes, the system recycled most of Lydia's wardrobe and altered the remainder to Edwina's exact measurements.  Also, an expert system monitored popular style developments, proposed wardrobe changes for User-zero-zero-Bliss-comma-Edwina's consideration, then fabricated the new garments that met with her approval.  As for Lydia, nudity was invariably the test subject's uniform-of-the-day.

Scientifically, Dr. Edwina Bliss had never been more productive, she lived in the lap of luxury, was physically fit and in perfect health, and—as she could rely on the mansion's robots and expert systems to take care of Lydia—Edwina was free to travel for business meetings, professional conferences, or recreational purposes whenever she wished.  Life was good.  In fact, life was well nigh perfect.


As for Lydia...
Hoist with (or by) your own petard.

What happens when a plan to cause harm to another backfires on the perpetrator.  From Shakespeare's Hamlet (3.4): "Let it work, for 'tis the sport to have the enginer hoist with his own petar."

A "petar" or petard was a gunpowder charge placed on the gate of a besieged city or castle.  This was a very dangerous tactic as early fuses were notoriously unreliable and the sapper or "enginer" might easily be "hoist" or lifted into the air and carried away by a premature explosion.

Lydia did, indeed have a long and extensive roster of erotic punishments/torments/tortures she had intended for poor Alice, including elaborate and horrific bondage predicaments, robot-administered tickling/tactile-stimulation, technologically engendered orgasms, prolonged sensory deprivation, etc., etc.—and that included all the classics, like being stretched on the rack, riding the horse, bastinado, and monotonous incarceration in what amounted to dungeon cells—and as day followed day, it became obvious to Lydia that Edwina intended to subject her to each and every item!

Eventually... as days became weeks... which became months... Lydia realized the test program was slacking off.  That is, she was being given more time to rest between ordeals, and the ordeals themselves seemed to be less extreme than those she remembered planning to inflict on Alice (after testing them on Edwina).  This was all well and good, but her daily (and nightly) routine was hardly pleasant.  It was like being a prisoner/customer at a high security prison crossed with a luxury spa.  Lydia was not a happy camper... but neither was she clinically depressed or emotionally dysfunctional.

And one day, a few months after that absolute bitch Edwina Bliss had inexplicably turned the tables and ruined everything...

Lydia was following the mini-guide-bot with its red gumball light to wherever the system had decided she needed to be.  She was naked (of course) with her wrists crossed behind her back and lashed together with about a meter of her own New and Revolutionary synthetic rubber tubular bondage system.  She wasn't gagged, but then again, a gag wasn't necessary to enforce her silence.  As always, the shock-collar/choker was locked around her neck and, she assumed, was active.  She certainly had no reason to suspect it wasn't.   She'd just endured a difficult afternoon of erotic torture.  The robots had secured her to a vertical X-shaped frame of chromed steel, then tickled her feet, thighs, ribs, armpits, and ears for a very... long... time... culminating in a detailed diddling of her upper thighs, labia, and lower tummy!  She'd had no choice but to cum like the proverbial bunny!  It wasn't the worst thing that had happened to her in the recent past, but it'd been bad enough.  Anyway,  she followed the guide-bot to the door of what would no doubt be yet another nondescript subterranean chamber... the door whisked open... the guide-bot rolled across the threshold... Lydia followed... and froze in place, her eyes wide in surprise.

Lydia found herself in what by all appearances was a luxurious, somewhat spacious, and Ultramodern apartment suite!  There was a platform bed with a full-size mattress and the usual bedspread, sheets, and pillows.  There was also a normal-sized desk with what looked like a comfortable office chair and a wide-screen computer monitor.  A virtual keyboard glowed on the desktop, and resting on the desk was a normal-looking iPad or some other brand of tablet-computer.  Off to one side of the apartment was a generously sized and fully tiled alcove with the usual washbasin, commode, and shower stall expected in a full-sized bathroom; however, there were no provisions for privacy—no screens, curtains, or doors.  On the far side of the apartment a comfortable easy chair was tucked in a corner, and in the other corner was a small café table and a single dining chair.

But perhaps most remarkable of all, the apartment was a subterranean suite with a view!  That is, two of the four walls were window-walls, providing a magnificent and unrestricted vista of a forested landscape.  Hundreds of huge cedars (or redwoods, or conifers of some species) reached for the heavens near and as far as the eye could see,  And several yards away a waterfall cascaded down a pile of moss-covered boulders and fed a small pool that emptied into a meandering brook.  It was all very picturesque and soothing, and obviously totally fake and computer generated.  The video imagery was convincingly photo-realistic, but totally incongruous with the lair's geographic location, not to mention the suite's subterranean status.

A robot arm extended from the wall, removed Lydia's wrist bonds, then retracted back into the wall.  The door to the corridor had long since whisked closed and the guide-bot had disappeared (no doubt finding itself a cozy and hidden recharging station somewhere).

Lydia rubbed her wrists (more from reflex than any real need) then padded to the neatest "window-wall" and gazed out at the virtual landscape.  She had to admit the simulated view beat the heck out of blank walls.  Then, her eyes caught movement... and she watched in amazement as a group of large bipedal dinosaurs wandered out of the forest!  There were three adults and two much smaller youngsters, and they were Hadrosaurs.  Lydia was familiar with the family (Hadrosauridae), but had no idea which species was being depicted.  She already knew the landscape had to be computer generated, and the presence of a family of long-extinct herbivores slurping water from the gurgling pool did nothing to change her mind.

The juvenile dinosaurs were very cute... but Lydia turned her back on the remarkable scene, padded to the desk, and settled into the office chair.  She started tapping the virtual keyboard, the monitor flashed to life, and she began navigating the system.  The interface was familiar, but her available access was severely limited.  In fact, it soon became obvious she was linked to an air-gapped server completely isolated from the ΛLIOS ÇYBRTRONICS network... or any other network for that matter, including, of course, the internet.  Her keystrokes were being monitored by a watchdog sub-system, and it scolded her for attempted hacking and threatened punishment if she didn't cease and desist.  As for the iPad/tablet, it had a reading app with an extensive library and a search function for authors and titles not already on the list.

So... when not being tortured (erotically or otherwise), Lydia would be allowed recreational and scientific reading, and from the programs available on the workstation, theoretical research was also allowed... as long as she was a good girl and didn't try designing a super-robot dedicated to the capture of Edwina Bliss.

Lydia frowned, spun in her chair to face the virtual window-wall, and watched the Hadrosaurs continue drinking.  One or more of the adults were clearly vigilant at all times, scanning their surroundings for predators.  Meanwhile, the youngsters splashed in the pool, played the herbivorous dinosaur version of grab-ass, and had themselves a grand old time.

I hope there's a menu of different landscapes, Lydia thought, and that I'll be allowed to make changes.  Dinosaurs will do for now, but variety is the spice of life.

This is just like Edwina Bliss, Lydia silently fumed, dangling a giant carrot but continuing to pummel me with the stick.  Bitch!  Lydia continued watching the cavorting Hadrosaur youngsters.  At least now I won't go crazy, she conceded, which is obviously Edwina's intent... what with the posh apartment and fancy view.  It's no fun tormenting a crazy woman.  Bitch!

Lydia heaved a deep sigh, stood and reached for the ceiling in a full-body stretch, then padded into the bathroom alcove to try out the shower.


Approximately Two Years After Edwina's Cyber-Coup...

It was a special occasion.  Edwina never "invited" Lydia to visit her in her former mansion, but tonight she had.

Edwina was wearing one of her casual-relaxing-after-work outfits.  Specifically, it was a pair of bicycle shorts and a tank-top, both in body-hugging spandex, heather-gray with Prussian-blue piping and accents.  Edwina's current hair style was short and off her shoulders, a charmingly tousled crop (if she did say so herself).  She was considering having the hair-care-bots straighten and trim her locks into a classic pageboy, possibly even a Lu-Lu or Valentina cut, but hadn't yet made up her mind.  The Mistress of the mansion was reclined on a comfortable lounge chair, munching from a bowl of popcorn, taking occasional sips from a cool drink, and watching a gigantic projection screen.

Lydia was also reclined on a comfy lounge chair, but not by choice.  Her wrists were strapped to the chair's armrests by broad cuffs of woven nylon and her ankles similarly secured to the footrest.  She wasn't going anywhere.  As for her costume, she was nude, as always; however, she was wearing a few shiny steel accessories.  The obedience collar/choker the robots had locked around her neck soon after her capture was solidly in place.  In addition, she was wearing a steel chastity belt, and it was a hi-tech and very special chastity belt!  It provided a second and redundant disciplinary channel.  Like the collar/choker, if the system decided they were needed, the belt could deliver powerful electric shocks to some of Lydia's most sensitive nerve endings!  In addition, it could vibrate and titillate, either as a reward for good behavior or as a non-painful way to prompt Lydia to carry out orders.  Finally, Lydia's nipples had been pierced, had long since healed, and now sported a pair of permanently fused half-inch rings of a virtually indestructible steel alloy.  Edwina had found both the belt and the rings on the list of things Lydia intended to test on Edwina and possibly inflict on Alice, and after careful consideration, she decided to let the belt and rings remain on what was now Lydia's list.

As for Lydia's hair, also on the list of things-to-test-on-Edwina were instructions for the bots to shave her head!  It would be an available option in the unlikely event she grew tired of Alice's gorgeous blond curls.  Also, it would allow an evaluation of whether or not hair interfered with the donning and doffing of isolation helmets and various styles of hoods; but there was also an undeniable element of cruelty and humiliation.  Several months into Lydia's captivity (and after more soul-searching) Edwina decided the defoliating experience was something Lydia might find morally instructive.

The system used shears to remove all but stubble from Lydia's head (but left her eyebrows intact).  Next, menthol foam was applied, then a gliding rotary razor shaved her entire cranium.  There was no rush, so the process took a leisurely half hour... including the final cleansing and light buffing.  Edwina felt absolutely terrible that Lydia's horrible head-shaving program was happening to Lydia, but consoled herself with the fact that hair had a habit of growing back (if allowed).

Anyway, at the moment, Dr. Lydia Aelios' brown locks were cropped short in a rather boyish pixie.  Edwina found it charming and attractive.  It was nothing she'd instruct the robo-hair-salon to do to her own hair—not right now, anyway—but the pixie looked good on Lydia, in Edwina's opinion, which was the only opinion that counted in Edwina's Lair.

The occasion of Lydia's involuntary visit to her former above-ground abode was the impending World Premiere of the first installment of the movie trilogy starring Alice Lindgren.  Edwina (and ΛÇ Cinematic Technologies) had managed to gain access to a digital copy of the movie's final cut, and Edwina and her captive guest were enjoying a private (but only semi-authorized) screening.

Alice was playing the Crown Princess of The Star Kingdom of Paladar.  Her character was also a Lieutenant Commander in the Kingdom's Space Navy.  The villains of the story were the Navy and Security Police of the People's Corporate Empire of Duluthan.  Details aside, the premise was much more Science Fiction/Space Opera than Space Fantasy (like Star Wars or even Star Trek).

Spaceships traveled the vast distances between stars via a network of "gravitational wormholes," but once they arrived at a star system they used action-reaction propulsion technology several times more efficient than chemically fueled rocket engines and were capable of acceleration up to a few percent of the speed of light.  There was no faster-than-light communication or sensor technology, so naval strategy and tactics resembled slowly unfolding games of four-dimensional chess.

Also, all information from active or passive sensors had to travel light-minutes or even light-days before being received and processed.  Ship-to-ship or fleet engagements were more or less by mutual consent, with warships exchanging fire and deploying defensive countermeasures over a period so brief that even computer control was difficult.  Rival Admirals and Captains employed their respective doctrines and made their best choices—missiles and energy weapons fire was exchanged—and the survivors assessed the result and revised their battle plans accordingly.

Anyway, this would be new territory for many cinematic Sci-Fi fans, but familiar to many Sci-Fi readers, especially aficionados of the sub-genre of military Sci-Fi.

So far, Edwina was impressed.  Not only were the special effects first rate, but the director and producers weren't pandering to established cinematic tropes, like explosions going ka-boom, hurtling spaceships going swoosh (or both in the case of battle scenes), and all of it inexplicably happening in the hard vacuum of interplanetary space!  Actually, cuts between the silent, hi-contrast-lighting exterior of deep space and the noisy, rattling, sometimes smoky chaos inside a spaceship was quite effective.  The filmmakers knew their craft and had respect for their audience.

However, the unquestionable highlight of the entire movie was Alice Lindgren!  She was stunning, even with grease and grime on her angelic face and her body-hugging shipboard uniform ripped and torn as she fought blaster-to-blaster and hand-to-hand during a boarding action.  Edwina was very impressed.  Alice could act, and as far as Edwina was concerned, she carried the entire movie!

As for Lydia... it was difficult for Edwina to tell, mainly because whenever Alice was on screen the system was programmed to send a low-level, modulated, vibratory buzz to Lydia's lady bits via the chastity belt.  Unnecessarily cruel?  Well, yes... but it was only a little buzz.  Also, when Alice wasn't onscreen, if Lydia focused on the popcorn or Edwina's drink, a robot arm delivered a few kernels to Lydia's mouth or a straw to her lips.  So, balancing out the titillating teasing... there were snacks.  Edwina was being a nice bitch.

After the movie was over, Lydia would immediately be returned to her spartan (but arguably quite pleasant) apartment/dungeon-cell down below (if she behaved herself), but after she crawled into bed and the lights dimmed, if she attempted to think about Alice and play with herself... the chastity belt would make that a very iffy proposition.  Poor Lydia.

Tomorrow would be another day.


The Story 

The   End

Chapter 8
Send feedback to the author