Ex Machina
Taken by the Machine

by Van © 2023

Chapter 4

Dramatis Personæ


Some unknown number of hours later...

Edwina was roused from her naked, captive, troubled misery by a subdued cacophony of whining noise as several robot arms emerged from their alcoves and lifted her into the air!  At the same time, the overhead LEDs brightened and shifted from red to white.


Still in a daze, Edwina had complained aloud and been rewarded by a stinging shock from the obedience-collar still locked around her neck.  She was also still naked (of course), and a web of amber rubber (probably synthetic) tubing still restrained her body in an elaborate lattice-sheath from her big toes to her shoulders—but not for long (at least with respect to the tubing).

The steel arms were releasing her from her rubber/synthetic bondage!  And as strand by strand the bindings slackened and melted away, the arms controlling her wrists, ankles, and strategic parts of her body maintained her midair position and helplessness.  Edwina wasn't at all sure how her rubber bonds were being dealt with.  As far as she could tell they weren't being severed, and when a strand loosened and its ends flopped free, the tubing seemed to simply slither away and vanish.  None of it was dropping to the floor, so presumably it was somehow being retracted into the manipulators.

Finally, nude and restraint free (not counting the hateful collar), the arms gently lowered Edwina to the padded floor, released their grips, retracted into the walls, and the hex-pad-covers snapped closed.

Edwina raised herself to a sitting position with her legs together and tucked to her right, then began examining her body.  Her fair, firm skin was crisscrossed with pink indentations, but there were no evident bruises or friction-burns.  Her hair hadn't been touched, so it remained plaited in a single tight braid and dangling down her bare back.  Since her hands and arms were finally free, she groped for the end of the braid, pulled it over her shoulder, and examined it closely.  Some sort of tight, black, elastic rubber or latex sleeve about four inches in length was enforcing the interwoven arrangement.  There was no way she'd be able remove it using only her fingers, so she didn't even try.  Besides, given her circumstances, a long pigtail was far superior to a tousled tangle.

So... Edwina was naked but not bound.  Of course, the system could decide to impose new restrictions on her at any time, but at least for the moment... she was free... if one could call being trapped in a subterranean padded cell "free."  Edwina climbed to her feet... rather clumsily after her recent hours of bondage... then performed a series of deliberate stretching exercises.  It felt very good to be able to move in a manner more complex than that of a pathetic inchworm.  As she flexed and stretched her muscles, Edwina noted that the "tube-marks" on her skin were already beginning to fade.

Suddenly, a single hex-pad down near the floor snapped open and Edwina's old "friend" the toaster-size mini-bot (the compact automaton that had been her taskmaster on the running rack) rolled into the cell... and skidded to a stop twelve inches in front of her toes.  Hands on hips, she gazed down at the little bot with a sour expression... then spun on her bare heels as, directly behind her, several hex-pads snapped open to the left, right, and upwards, revealing the closed door to her padded prison.  Next, the mini-bot's red gumball light flashed several times... then took on a steady ruby glow.  The chamber door whisked open (in typical Star Trek fashion) as the bot rolled around Edwina's feet, trundled across the threshold, made a right turn, and rolled down the corridor.  As it passed out of sight Edwina's collar gave her a warning buzz.  She rolled her eyes and quickly padded after the bot.  Thankfully, the irritating little mech was setting a walking pace and she quickly closed the gap.

Their destination was the same tiled bathroom chamber she'd visited after her run, and without waiting for prompting Edwina stomped (padded) to the stainless steel commode, sat, and emptied her bladder.  (Something she wanted to do anyway.)  She then padded to the washbasin/drinking-fountain, wet and scrubbed her face with her hands... and quenched her thirst.  That would have been enough personal hygiene for Edwina for now, but the system had other ideas.

Edwina turned and watched as the clear glass or acrylic shower cylinder door slid open.

"Enter the shower stall," the voice ordered.

Edwina rolled her eyes again, but padded to the shower and stepped inside like a good little damsel who didn't want to be zapped by her collar.  The door slid closed and as before the lattice of pipes lining the interior gurgled, hissed, and began spraying Edwina with cold water from all sides.  She flinched and shivered in response and in only a few seconds was thoroughly drenched.  Then, the stinging pelt of the water abruptly ceased.

"Use the liquid soap provided."

Edwina blinked and wiped the water from her eyes.  Soap?  She then noticed the compact stainless steel dispenser set among the pipes at waist level.  Its cover-plate was clearly labelled "SOAP."  Oh... soap.  It was a manual dispenser and she had no difficulty pumping a generous dollop of a milky white fluid onto her left palm.  Not automated, she noted.  How... quaint.

Edwina rubbed her hands together... then soaped her entire body, replenishing the soap as required.  This process raised substantial white suds and she noted they had a pleasant botanical aroma.  She wasn't sure what was in it, exactly, meaning what herbaceous oils had gone into the formula, but she liked it... and it was good to unreservedly like something for a change.  As an added bonus, the soap was "no-more-tears," meaning it didn't sting when she scrubbed her face and inevitably got a little of it into her eyes.  Her body was now slick and shining from head to toe.

Then, without preamble, the shower turned itself back on.  This time the water was warm and refreshing.  Edwina continued rubbing her hands over her body and began turning in a slow circle.  The suds sluiced from her skin and disappeared down the drain-floor.  She luxuriated under the pulsing torrent... and made sure she was as soap-free as possible, including her scalp.  It would have been better to have had her hair loose so it could get a thorough shampoo and rinse, but that wasn't her decision to make.

Abruptly, the water stopped and was replaced by a steady, omnidirectional blast of warm, dry air.  Edwina continued turning in place, using her hands to strip the water from her body... then raised her arms over her head and continued her slow turn.  Eventually, she was dry and the arid windstorm ceased.

The shower-tube door opened and the red light atop the mini-bot began flashing red.

"Follow the guide to breakfast."

Edwina thought that was a brilliant suggestion and stepped from the shower.  The chamber door whisked open, the mini-bot's red light burned steady, and it spun on its treads and trundled from the space.  Edwina followed.


Alice was... perturbed.  Something was strange.  No... everything was strange... and black... and silent.  She blinked her eyes several times, but all she could "see" was darkness... total, coal-black, Stygian darkness.

"Mrrrmpfh."  That was her voice, but something was plugging her mouth, trapping her tongue, and some sort of something, probably a breathing mask, was pressed against her lower face and nose.  She could breathe, but was thoroughly gagged!

Also, she was on her back with her arms at her sides.  She squirmed and twisted her body, but found she could barely move.  Straps of some sort pinned her in place at the ankles, wrists, and several places over her legs, arms, and torso.  Another strap crossed her forehead and pinned her gagged head in place!  She could barely wiggle!  Also, something was jammed in her anus, and something else seemed to be plugging her urethra!  She was helpless and violated!

And not only were her limbs and body restrained and some sort of gag/breathing mask covering her mouth and nose, but it was almost as if she was trapped in—Her blood ran cold!—a coffin!


Had she been kidnapped by a psychopath and buried alive?

Suddenly, before Alice's panic could build to mind-numbing terror—brilliant white light and a flood of cool air engulfed her helpless form.  "Mrrrk?"  The lid of her "coffin" had snapped open.  She rejoiced at not having suffered premature burial, but as her eyes adjusted to the light she realized something alarming was happening!  To the accompaniment of whining motors, several robot arms were extending in her direction, their complex manipulators open and reaching!  Then, a pair of them clamped shut on her gag/breathing-mask and lifted it free.

"Arrr!"  Alice swallowed, worked her jaw and licked her lips, then tried to speak.  "What the hell is—Mmmmf!"  Another pair of arms were pressing a strip of some sort of adhesive-backed film or tape against her lips and mouth, cutting her off in mid-inquiry!  She'd been tape-gagged by the robot arms!

Next, in a coordinated and impressive dance of technology, the arms somehow released Alice's restraints and the straps slithered away.  At the same time, the object that had been plugging her anus retracted and was gone!  The catheter that had been plugging her urethra disappeared as well!  "MMMF!"

Next, manipulators seized her wrists, ankles, legs, and torso and the arms lifted her into the air and out of the coffin!  "MRRRK!"  Alice tried to resist, but her most energetic efforts were totally ineffectual.  She was glad to be free of the straps and out of close confines of her former prison, but had no enthusiasm for a wrestling match with mechanical steel arms.  The steel arms in question were strong!

The lid of the sarcophagus-bot (Alice's former "coffin") closed and the thing rolled away on some sort of tread arrangement.

Alice could now see that she was in a largish room with a high ceiling.  Its concrete walls were lined with vertical steel panels, several of which were open to reveal the origins of the robot arms holding her aloft.  She watched as yhe chamber's door whisked open, her former mobile coffin/prison rolled across the threshold, and the portal whisked closed behind it.  She shook her tousled blond hair from her tape-gagged face and looked up.  LED pin-spots were attached to a steel grid, as were a half-dozen or so compact cameras.  She looked behind, as best she could, and her pale blue eyes popped wide in alarm.

Behind her was a stainless steel frame or armature in the form of a large "X."  More accurately, it took the form of a skeletal stick figure with its arms and legs flung wide in a full spread-eagle.  It was canted at about 45° from the vertical and had thick, wide, stainless steel clamps padded on their interiors, all open like shackles waiting to close on a hypothetical victim's wrists and ankles.  "Nrrrf!"  Alice had absolutely no doubt who that hypothetical victim would be.

The robot arms had no doubt either.  They were already carrying her to the frame!  "Nrrrm!"  They manipulated her body into a spread-eagle, pressed her against the frame, and held her steady as the wrist and ankle clamps snapped closed with authoritative clicks.

And then, the robot arms released Alice completely, retracted into their alcoves, and the steel panels snapped closed.  Obviously, their work was done.

Pale blue eyes wide and tugging on her bonds with all her strength, Alice was absolutely terrified, but she was also intelligent and made of stern stuff.  She forced herself to control her panic so she could try to make sense of what was happening.

Alice tugged and kicked, testing her new bonds, but found that once again she could barely move.  The padded cuffs fit the anatomy of her wrists and ankles to perfection, and the armature itself, while narrow, followed the curves of her limbs and torso with matching precision.  She even had a headrest.  It was a simple concave flange of un-padded steel, but it supported her head and let her rest her neck muscles.  This was definitely not a haphazard, makeshift arrangement.  The elaborate industrial robot handlers had been her first cue and the custom fit of the frame her second.

Five times in the course of Alice's acting career she'd been a damsel-in-distress, appearing onscreen as a bound and gagged kidnap victim or hostage.  Five times.  She'd been cleave-gagged twice, gagged with duct-tape twice, and not gagged in any way once.  Three times her wrists had been bound together in front and twice behind her back.  Twice she'd been lying on a bed, once on a mattress on the floor of a dirty storeroom, once sitting in a hard chair, and once standing against a steel support column in a dark basement.  Four of those times her bondage had been superficial, meaning she could have escaped at any time without assistance and with little difficulty.  Only once, the chair-tie, did she know herself to be truly helpless.  That was also the occasion with the most effective gag, a rag stuffed in her mouth and held there by several tight turns of duct-tape-gag over her mouth and completely around her head.

Alice was well aware that most screen bondage was laughable to the point of being a cliché trope of helplessness, and that was for three main reasons:
(1) The realities of production.  Actors or their stand-ins were often required to hold position for long periods of time while the camera and lighting setups were changed between takes, even when there were bound and gagged damsels-in-distress involved.  Elaborate/effective bondage was time consuming to rig, release, and rig again, and there was the added complication of maintaining continuity between takes.  Also, an effective gag might damage the talent, leaving a skin rash or friction-burns in their wake that the makeup department would have to deal with.

(2) Over the decades, audiences had grown numb to ridiculously loose bondage and pro forma gags and for the most accepted both without notice or complaint.  Almost any sort of "restraint" was accepted.  The actress acted like she was helpless, so obviously she was helpless.

(3) Effective bondage was seldom critical to the actual plot, so screenwriters usually left 90% of the details up to the director, and directors were already juggling a dozen expensive production issues and struggling to keep everything up in the air.  Convincing bondage simply wasn't a priority, not if accepting the trope was an easy out.
Not so with Alice's chair-tie experience.  In order to build suspense the script had repeatedly cut away from the action to visit Alice's character, the kidnapped wife of a prominent politician, as she struggled against her elaborate bonds and cruel gag, and for once the director had embraced the situation.  There was also a lengthy gloating scene between Alice and the villain.

Dramatically, it had worked.  Practically, poor Alice had spent many long hours tied to that chair with several tight yards of hemp rope down the entire length of her body, as well as being gagged with that effective gag.  The director and rigger had done the best they could.  Most of the ropes were hitched together behind the chair at strategic points that could be released and reapplied without too much difficulty, but wouldn't show from any of the camera positions used.  Also, the duct-tape was applied over a single wide strip of medical tape that had a weak, hypoallergenic adhesive.  The duct-tape was then carefully slit at the nape of her neck and under her tousled hair.  That way, the gag could be peeled off and reapplied with a single short strip of duct-tape in the back to keep it in place.

All of that made it possible to let Alice take breaks now and then, but she still remembered that shoot as one of the worst experiences of her career, right up there with the time she spent most of an entire shoot filthy, drenched to the skin, and running through a dripping jungle with "angry natives" on her heels.

Why she was reminiscing about past cinematic damsel-in-distress experiences, even in the back of her mind, Alice had no idea.  There was nothing cliché or trope about her current predicament.  That was for damn sure!  She'd decided to take an afternoon nap in her temporary bungalow-home... and awakened to find herself the naked, tape-gagged, and spreadeagled captive of a bunch of industrial robots out of a big-budget science fiction production!  She just hoped she was the star of the production and all she had to do was wait for rescue... and not the minor cast member about to be sacrificed in the first act to establish the future peril that would loom over the actual star!  It would have been polite to let her read the script.

Also... HEEEEELP!!


Much to Edwina's surprise, breakfast was a rather pleasant, and above all, semi-normal experience.

The mini-bot led her to a smallish chamber brightly lit by the usual LED mini-spotlights mounted in the ceiling.  There were also the usual vertical panels, no doubt concealing the usual strong, dexterous, and grabby robot arms.  However, in a novel development, there was furniture, and it didn't appear to be more robot arms folded together to take the form of a table or lounge-bed or examination chair.  The furnishings in question were a round, stainless steel café table and a matching steel straight-back chair.  Both were ultra-modern in design, as Edwina supposed was to be expected at Lydia's Lair, and the only thing "unusual" was that they appeared to be firmly embedded in the floor.

The chamber door whisked closed, the mini-bot trundled to the base of the far wall and rolled to a halt... and there she was.  Edwina looked around... but she'd already seen everything there was to see.  She padded to the chair... stared at its shining, unpadded seat... and sat.  Not surprisingly, the steel seat was cool under her bare bum.

As if on signal, three of the wall-panels snapped open and three of the expected robot arms emerged.  The first deposited a covered tray on the table, then lifted the cover and retracted back into its alcove.  The second deposited a ceramic mug on the table next to the tray and returned to its alcove.  At least the mug looked like it was ceramic.  The third arm poured tea into the mug from a stainless steel carafe... then placed the carafe on the table and retracted into its alcove.  And it was tea!  Edwina could smell it!  She picked up the mug (which was ceramic) and took a cautious sip.

Brilliant!  Edwina actually smiled.  It was English Breakfast Tea, her favorite morning beverage.  She turned her attention to the plate... and the delicious aromas emanating therefrom... and beheld an artfully arranged selection of breakfast foods.  There were small toast squares slathered with marmalade, a variety of tiny quiches (ham, shrimp, and Lorraine), small pastries, slices of apple, whole strawberries, and small scones.  Everything was finger food, which was a good thing because no eating utensils of any kind had been provided.

Edwina tucked into the modest feast with carefully concealed enthusiasm.  Not counting gorp pumped into her mouth, this was the first real food she'd been served since her capture, and she was hungry.  Still, Edwina Bliss had her pride... as well as a lifelong habit of English Reserve to maintain.
Anyway, the finger-feast was delicious, all of it.  Edwina would have preferred a "Full English" of fried eggs, fried bacon, fried black pudding (blood sausage), fried mushrooms and tomatoes, baked beans, bubble and squeak (fried potatoes and cabbage), and fried toast.  She rarely indulged in such heavy, greasy repast, but this morning she could have handled it... assuming it actually was morning.

Her stomach full (but not too full), Edwina sipped a second cup of tea... then set down the empty mug and quietly sighed.

Apparently, that was the cue for the robot arms to reappear, clear the table, then disappear back into the wall.  Seconds after the panels snapped closed, the mini-bot rolled away from the wall, around Edwina and her table and chair, the chamber door whisked open, and the gumball light atop the mini-bot started flashing red.

"Follow the red light."

Edwina rolled her eyes, climbed to her feet, and quickly padded after the mini-bot.  I know!  I know!

Their destination was a tiled chamber, but not the one with the commode and glass/acrylic vertical shower-tube.  It was circular, with a domed ceiling, and, as Edwina had come to expect, there were a dozen or more of the vertical steel covers almost certainly concealing dormant robot arms.  She didn't get an actual count because as soon as she crossed the threshold they all snapped open and the arms within extended, grabbed her, and lifted her into the air!

It was the same as before, with Edwina's most energetic struggles being easily defeated.  Another humiliating dance of control was happening as the arms pulled her wrists behind her back.  This time, however, the system demanded Edwina's cooperation.

"Place your hands together, palm-to-palm." the disembodied voice instructed.

Edwina's outraged feelings got the better of her as she decided she'd had enough of being the plaything of a bunch of robotic appendages and continued squirming, struggling, tugging on the padded manipulators grasping her wrists, and fluttering her fingers.  Granted, it was pointless resistance on her part, but—


Edwina's brown eyes popped wide and her body went rigid in the robots' collective grip.  The shock collar had reminded her of its persuasive capabilities.  Edwina went limp and the system took the opportunity of her immobility to manipulate her hands and fingers into the ordered palm-to-palm configuration and wrap them in a smooth, tight, neat cocoon, using some sort of black tape.  As Edwina recovered from her obedience lesson, the arms continued wrapping her arms together, past her now touching elbows and up to her mid upper-arms.

The collar had delivered a serious lesson.  Edwina was still gasping and shivering as the arms slid some sort of flexible sheath up and over her tape-mummified arms.  Then the sheath—whatever it was—grew progressively tighter.

Dr. Edwina Bliss was no bondage aficionado, so she didn't recognize the accessory now needlessly reinforcing her tape-bonds as a classic "single-sleeve arm-binder."  A pair of attached straps dropped over her shoulders, crisscrossed over her chest and above her breasts, snugged tight, and were secured behind her back to the top of the sheath to the accompaniment of a pair of audible clicks.  Now the sheath couldn't possibly slither down her tape-wrapped arms (something that was already patently impossible).  Additional straps tightened over her breasts and around her waist, pressing the sheath (and therefore her arms) against her back.  The breast-strap was unusual in that it more-or-less doubled as a push-up bra with open cups.  Its pair of oval openings left her breasts totally exposed and caused them to bulge a little.  The waist-strap had a similar opening that framed her bellybutton and left it exposed as well.  The style aspects of these particular design elements went unappreciated by their wearer, but it was crystal clear that the restrictive functionality of the breast-and-navel-exposing straps was 100%.

While the robot arms held Edwina in midair they added a final refinement to her condition.  Two arms held her head steady while a second pair stretched a panel of off-white tape between their manipulators and pressed it firmly against her lips, covering her lower face from nose-to-chin and ear-to-ear.  That's right, they'd applied a tape-gag!  A totally unnecessary tape-gag!  Edwina was already effectively silenced by the shock-collar that had just demonstrated its painful efficiency, so why the tape-gag?  Tears welled in Edwina's brown eyes.  It was all so cruel and... redundant.  And just when things had been looking up.  Just after she'd enjoyed a nice breakfast.  And just when she was being allowed to walk around naked but not bound in any way (not counting the damned collar).  So unfair.

The arms planted Edwina's bare feet on the floor, released their padded grips, withdrew into their alcoves, and the covers snapped closed, all of them.  Then, the mini-bot's light flashed a few times, glowed a steady red, and the bot rolled towards the chamber door—which slid open to let the little bot into the corridor.

"Follow the red light."

Edwina was already doing so.  Shut it, you cybernetic wanker! she silently fumed.

The mini-bot led its naked, armbinder-bound, collared, and tape-gagged charge to another chamber.  The door whisked open, Edwina followed the bot across the threshold... then the bot spun 180°, sped back into the corridor at high speed, and the door whisked closed.

Edwina stamped her right foot in frustration, then glowered at her surroundings... which turned out to be multiple reflections of herself!  The chamber was about fifteen-feet on a side with a twelve-foot ceiling, and all four walls were perfectly reflective.  The ceiling was gray concrete with the usual grid of LED mini-spots, but the walls were all mirrors.  Even the back of the closed door was a mirror.

Still in a decidedly foul mood, thanks to her recent mistreatment, and knowing it was a completely pointless gesture, Edwina padded to a wall and gave it a firm kick.  Aside from reminding her that kicking even semi-solid objects was seldom a good idea, she was surprised to find her foot had rebounded from what could only be called a padded surface.  Rather than silvered-glass or highly polished steel, the mirror-wall appeared to be Mylar film stretched over some sort of resilient padding.  She turned to the side and gave the wall a tentative kick with her right heel.  It too rebounded (meaning her heel) and her reflected image had rippled, then returned to normal as the Mylar fluttered and snapped back into taut, flat perfection.

This is a madhouse, Edwina mused, referring to all of Lydia Aelios' lair.  Not surprising, as it was designed by a madwoman.  She then gave her reflection her full attention.

Edwina's naked body appeared to be none the worse for wear, meaning there were no obvious bruises or abrasions marring her naked form.

The armbinder and its straps were either expensively tanned leather or a very good synthetic substitute.  It had a black, gleaming, semi-matte, lightly pebbled finish.  The straps were tight enough to dimple her skin (and make her breasts bulge, just a little), but none were excessively tight.  When she examined the binder itself, she found it closed with a zipper (or similar technology), fit her pressed-together arms and praying hands like the proverbial glove, and hitherto unsuspected secondary straps encircled her wrists and upper arms just above her elbows.  All of the straps—including the chest/bra-strap and navel-exposing-waist-strap of which she was already aware—passed through retaining sleeves sewn into the sides of the binder and closed by means of some sort of steel snap-buckles.  And she noted that none of them had excess free ends.  All the straps fulfilled their tight functions without any provision or need for adjustment.  There were two final details:  (1) a D-shaped steel ring dangled from the bra-strap between her breasts, and (2) a second D-ring dangled from the finger-tip end of the binder.  The rings seemed to serve no immediate purpose, but Edwina knew them for what they were: attachment points for leashes, leads, or tethers.

The shock-collar was still there, of course, with its QR code block (which no doubt identified her as "Dr. Edwina Bliss, prisoner and bondage-plaything"), and the weakly glowing red LED light under her chin (that she assumed signaled that the diabolical device still had sufficient power to torture its wearer).

Her tape-gag appeared to be conventional medical tape, the kind she believed was generically referred to as either Microfoam or by the popular brand name of... What was it?  Elasoplast?  Anyway, the tape was off-white, had a subtle milky sheen, and revealed the outline of her sealed lips in three-dimensional bas-relief.

Edwina's brown eyes were... sad... and she heaved a silent, tape-gagged sigh.  I know how you feel, she commiserated with her reflection.

As for her hair...  Edwina turned her tape-gagged head from side to side, watching her involuntary and very tight braid sway as she did so.  Her hair was secure and out of the way of manhandling robotic arms, which she assumed was the practical reason for the coif.  God only knows what it's going to look like when that braid is finally unraveled.  Probably as tightly curled as it's ever been.

Edwina continued staring at her reflection.  What the hell is going on? she pondered.  Hours of bondage. Various intrusive outrages.  More hours of bondage.  And then... I'm released... and fed a decent meal... which is followed by more bondage.  This is insane.  And above all... inconsistent.  Lydia is playing with me, keeping me off balance.  Why?

Up until that instant, everything that had happened during and after Edwina's capture had been terrifying and, to say the least, unpleasant.  But in the back of her mind she'd believed that ultimately... her treatment would come to make some sort of sense.  Twisted, immoral, and certainly illegal, of course, but sense.  And eventually the bondage nonsense would stop and she'd be released.  But what if Lydia Aelios was gifted enough to program a stunningly sophisticated cybernetic network and direct her robots to toy with her... but was clinically insane?  This brought Edwina to a new level of dread.

Suddenly, the chamber door whisked open and the ultimate author of Edwina's plight strode into the mirrored space.

As usual, Lydia was dressed in high-heel pumps and a designer business ensemble of matching skirt and jacket and silk blouse.  Her corporate ID badge dangled from the jacket's breast pocket and a black leather leash (the kind used to take a large dog or a restrained damsel for walkies), was coiled in her right hand.  Her stylishly tousled brown curls framed her beautiful, smiling face.

"Excellent," Lydia purred as she walked a slow, leisurely circle around her naked, leather-bound, shock-collared, and tape-gagged colleague, repeatedly slapping her right thigh with the leash.

Edwina's maintained a gagged-expression of careful neutrality (all the while struggling not to pant through her nostrils and thus signal her inner distress), and stared at her reflection in the mirror-wall.

"I had the system generate photo-realistic simulations of how this ensemble would look on you," Lydia said as she continued to circle her prisoner, "for my approval.  I must say, it fits you perfectly.  I'm especially proud of my 'bra-strap' innovation.  It makes your perky little breasts even more perky.  Excellent."  She stopped pacing and stepped close, then clicked the snap-hook at the end of the leash through the D-ring on the bra-strap in question.

Edwina flinched at the sound of the click, but that was her only reaction.

Still smiling (in a wicked, evil manner) Lydia slipped the retaining loop at the end of the leash over her right hand, then grasped the far end of the leash, just short of the snap-hook, and pulled Lydia even closer until they were face to tape-gagged face.  Captor and captive locked eyes.

Edwina was fully aware that nothing was stopping her from lifting her right knee and delivering a substantial number of newtons between Lydia's legs, nothing but the inevitable electrical punishment that would follow, of course.  She stared into Lydia's pale blue eyes and controlled the urge to strike... as well as the urge to surrender to the despair threatening to engulf her very soul.

Reveling in her wicked power (Edwina assumed), Lydia held her prisoner even closer, took a step to her right, stretched her right arm around Edwina's arm-binder-bound arms and body, then used her left hand to grasp and squeeze Edwina's right breast.

Edwina flinched and resumed staring at her reflection, adding the sensation of Lydia squeezing her breast and toying with her nipple to her list of things-to-be-ignored.

"I apologize for stepping up the leather bondage test protocols," Lydia purred in Edwina's left ear as she continued massaging her breast.  "I'd intended to give you at least forty-eight hours of relaxation before introducing the arm-binder, but there have been recent, shall we say, wonderfully fortuitous events that I've decided it will be interesting to share.  Your participation should be instructive and educational for all concerned."

Lydia stopped toying with Edwina's breast, extended her left index finger, and used it to trace the outline of her stoic (but terrified) prisoner's tape-gagged lips.  "I also apologize for the tape.  I know that, thanks to your pretty choker, you've been putting real effort into remembering to be a good girl and not make unpleasant noises or rude remarks."  She gave the front of Edwina's obedience-collar a playful poke.  "But someone not already in on the secret might be confused by your silence."  She resumed toying with Edwina's right nipple.  "Hence the totally superfluous tape-gag."  She turned her head and focused on their side-by-side reflections on the mirror-wall.

Someone? Edwina wondered.  Who is she prattling about?

"You must admit it's pretty, isn't it?  The tape-gag I mean.  The head-harness-panel-gag that goes with the remainder of this—the first leather ensemble—is also cute, if the simulations continue to prove accurate.  So, I suppose you should be grateful for a simple tape-gag, as opposed to a mouth-filling ball or plug.  Yes, let's go with that.  Grateful.  Are you feeling grateful, Dr. Bliss?" 

Lydia released her left arm, took a step away, and smiled at Edwina.  The leash was still in her hand, so the long, narrow, black leather strap drooped between them.

"Now, come with me," Lydia ordered.  The mirror-chamber door whisked open and the smartly dressed Lydia led her naked, leather-bound, collared, tape-gagged, and tethered captive across the threshold and into the corridor.

As she'd feared when she first saw the leash coiled in her Lydia's hand, Edwina was being taken for walkies.



Chapter 3
Chapter 5