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the endless pool was one of Lydia's favorite exercise
options. She cycled through her usual mix of different
strokes... and finally reached the end of the session. The
water jets slackened and went still, Lydia planted her feet on
the glass floor of the pool, padded/sloshed to the side, and
used the ladder-steps recessed into the side wall to climb from
the sloshing water. Shivering delicately as water
evaporated from her dripping, bikini-clad body, she rolled her
shoulders, flailed her arms, and padded towards the door to the
nearby yoga studio and the solution to her post-swim
chill. The system knew that after a swim
User-zero-zero-Aelios-comma-Lydia almost always indulged in an
extended bask in the studio's attached dry-sauna, so the
cedar-lined space was already at the user-specified temperature
of 170°F (77°C), fresh towels were on hand, and a selection of
Lydia's favorite beverages were stocked in a well-insulated
mini-refrigerator built into one of the cedar benches.
As she approached the door, Lydia pulled the strings of her
sopping wet bikini top and bottom and dropped them on the
concrete floor of the deck. A valet-bot was already on its
way to collect the soggy garment and induct it into the laundry
routine. She was still reveling in the thought of her
beloved Alice involuntarily immersed in the endless pool,
trapped in a cute but inescapable mermaid costume, and
struggling to maintain an endless series of dolphin-kicks to
prevent attached lengths of fishing line from snapping taut and
tightening the cruel, insidious clamps that would painfully
pinch her nipples. Lydia's pussy quivered at
Nude and still wet, Lydia padded across the padded floor of the
yoga-studio... the glass door of the dry-sauna slid open as she
approached... and she entered the hot, dry space. She
waited while nozzles built into the sauna's cedar ceiling wet a
section of the top bench against the far wall, then climbed up
and reclined full-length on her back with a folded towel under
her head, and closed her eyes.
Life was wonderful. Her elaborate plan had successfully
come to fruition. Once again Alice was her girlfriend, and
she would remain so forever! As for the unplanned but
necessary capture of Edwina Bliss, that had turned out to be a fortuitous
plus! Alice hadn't intended to have a prisoner
(other than Alice) available for the final testing of the many
punishments and restraint-schemes she had planned for her
beloved, and now she had one!
Eyes still closed, Lydia smiled and heaved a supremely self-satisfied
sigh. Clearly, the very universe itself was on
|TΛKΞN BY THΞ MΛCHINΞ
|| Chapter 8
infinite relief, the system responded to her verbal command and
released her from her synthetic rubber tubing bondage—all of it!
It had worked! The worm she'd planted in Lydia's system
had fulfilled its function! Test Subject Edwina Bliss was
now User-zero-zero-Bliss-comma-Edwina! She was
still naked, of course, but no longer bound and helpless.
She was FREE, and intended to stay that way.
Edwina spoke again. "Direct me to the nearest
workstation!" The chamber door whisked open, there was a
brief pause... then her old friend the mini-bot with the red
dome-light on top rolled across the threshold. The light
flashed three times, as always, then glowed a steady ruby-red.
Despite everything that had happened, Edwina smiled down at the
little robot. For some reason, probably because she was no
longer a bound and/or gagged prisoner, she now considered the
mini-bot to be quite cute. It reminded her of the adorable
little "mouse droid" of the Star Wars franchise... only
with a red light on top. Anyway...
Edwina padded in the mini-bot's wake through the doorway, down
the corridor, and to a steel panel set in the concrete wall at
waist height. The panel whisked open, a keyboard extended
from the shallow alcove thus revealed, and the computer monitor
mounted inside began to glow, displaying the Λ≡LIOS ÇYB≡RTRONICS™
network interface, open to a System Maintenance menu.
Naked and smiling, Edwina pulled her tangled hair back and let
it drape down her back, then flexed her fingers, bit her lower
lip in concentration, and set to work.
In less than half an hour she accomplished the most important
tasks on her mental list of "cyber-coup-things-to-do."
1. Carefully, gingerly, Edwina isolated
Lydia's user authority, downgraded it to the the lowest
possible level (less than "GUEST") and locking her out of all
control systems. She had to be careful in case there
were hidden security back doors available only to Lydia.
With her new zero-zero access and six month's of
experience with the system before her capture, Edwina felt she
had a decent chance of finding and eliminating any booby-traps
and boltholes Lydia had salted away in the hi-level code.
Alice was naked (which was hardly
surprising) and lying on her back with her arms at her sides
inside what amounted to a futuristic steel and glass
sarcophagus! It had a curved, clear, closed cover, and was
lit from within by a row of LED lights on either side of her
supine body. The surface under Alice appeared to be hard
and without padding, and she was restrained by black leather
and/or nylon webbing medical-style restraints at her ankles,
thighs, wrists, waist, and across her squashed breasts.
Diagonal straps pinned back her shoulders and what amounted to a
gas-mask covered her face. Additional straps pinned her
head in place, passing across her forehead and under her
chin—and although it wasn't obvious from looking at the image,
according to the list there was more.
2. She also put a temporary hold on Lydia's e-mail and
messaging in-boxes. In the long term she'd have to find
a way to deal with the senior executives in the office
building on the far side of the mountain/hill, but for now a
simple "privacy" flag would have to do.
3. She ascertained the status of her captor... and found
Lydia swimming in an endless pool up on the mansion's
deck. She noted her nemesis was scheduled to use a
dry-sauna immediately afterwards, and quickly deployed
capture-bots to apprehend her if instead she started heading
for her office, bedroom, or anywhere else. The sauna
seemed like a good place to keep Lydia bottled up until she
was ready to deal with her properly.
(Oh-by-the-way, programming the capture-bots and the rest of
the prisoner-handling technology was simplicity itself.
They were 99% autonomous and all Edwina had to do was specify
Lydia as their target and choose the desired actions off a set
4. Next, she checked in on Alice. An image
appeared on the screen, replacing Lydia swimming in the pool,
and Edwina's eyes popped wide in concern! She
scanned the menu choices listed beside Alice's image... and
her expression grew grim.
A. The gas-mask incorporated a mouth-filling
gag with silicon rubber bite-protectors and a perforated
Edwina scowled as she returned to her
things-to-do-list. Lydia was being a real bitch,
but that was hardly a novel development. Anyway...
B. The system was carefully regulating Alice's
breathing, allowing her only shallow, widely-spaced
breaths. Alice had no choice but to remain "calm."
C. Also, the breathing mixture included an
anti-soporific, sleep-suppressing gas! Alice was
helplessly restrained and had no choice but to lay in her
bonds... but she couldn't rest!
D. Finally, also according to the list, a curved mirror
was mounted on the ceiling of the chamber. So, as the
only lights shining in the chamber were inside the
sarcophagus, all Alice could see when she gazed up through her
gas-mask and the clear cover of her sarcophagus was a
virtually unobstructed reflection of her own naked,
restrained, totally helpless self.
5. What to do with Lydia? Even if she'd
been "defanged," meaning her access to the control systems had
been successfully eliminated, the bitch couldn't be allowed to
wander around loose. Edwina's fingers flew over the
keyboard and she quickly cobbled together a capture routine
for "User-Zed-Zed-Aelios-comma-Lydia", selecting items off the
relevant menus. With her knowledge and the user-friendly
design of the interface, it was almost trivially easy.
Edwina paused as, on the screen she'd tasked to keep track of
the former mistress of the mansion, Lydia was climbing from
the endless pool and strolling along the deck... removing and
dropping her bikini as she went. She entered the
yoga-studio and headed for the attached dry-sauna, as
expected. Edwina smiled, then began tapping the keyboard
again, amending her action plan. She then moved on to
the final pair of absolutely crucial items remaining
on her list.
Edwina sighed, not especially satisfied with any of her
immediate fashion options, but chose the least objectionable
item on the list, then secured the workstation and let "Gumball"
the mini-guide-bot show the way to the nearest elevator.
Once there, she would await the arrival of a valet-bot with her
new costume—the first actual clothing Edwina would be wearing
since her capture.
6. Tea. Lydia's smart-house management
system already had state-of-the-art beverage concoction and
distribution hardware and software, but it was all tailored to
Lydia Aelios' personal preferences, and outrageously, did not
include brewing a proper cup of tea as the recognized
top priority! An extensive stock of expensive (and yummy)
tea blends were stored in the automated pantry, but they were
there for Lydia's infrequent guests/visitors. Edwina
reprogrammed the beverage subroutine, upgrading tea from the
standby to the priority menu. That included
reprogramming and restocking the "Coffee-bot" and renaming
it the "Tea-bot." Of course, coffee would continue being
available on request).
7. Clothing. Enough with all this
uncivilized and scandalous involuntary nudity! Edwina
dispatched a valet-bot to fetch her a proper set of
clothing—but was dismayed to find that Lydia had ordered the
system to dispose of her entire wardrobe! It had all
been consigned to the subterranean recycling chamber the very
day she was captured, including her luggage, and everything
had already been torn apart and/or shredded! One more
egregious crime Lydia Aelios had to answer for! Plan
two: find something to wear from the bitch's vast
closets. The problem would be a proper fit.
Edwina's figure was more svelte than Lydia's and she was less
well-endowed in the boob department. The bitch's
everyday custom tailored and hideously expensive business
outfits would hang off her frame and she'd look quite
ridiculous. Edwina filtered the available clothing that
reasonably met her size-requirements and everything dropped
from the list except for exercise clothing such as swimwear
(string bikinis but not one piece suits), running shorts,
sports bras, yoga pants, and several spandex one piece
|TΛKΞN BY THΞ MΛCHINΞ
|| Chapter 8
Lydia felt as
limp and relaxed as the proverbial noodle... but was also
becoming overheated. Her entire body was flushed and
dripping with sweat. She took another drink from the
insulated water-bottle in her hand, then closed the cap and
returned it to the refrigerator built into the cedar
bench. She debated whether to stand under the in-sauna
shower area in the center of the room and have the system drench
her with cold water, or to terminate the session. Enough
is enough, she finally decided, rose to her bare
feet—executed a languid full-body stretch—then padded towards
the sauna's glass door... then skidded to a stop and
frowned. The portal of thick, insulated safety glass should
have whisked open on her approach, but it hadn't.
"Open door," she ordered. Nothing happened. "System,
open the sauna door." Still nothing. "System, this
is User-zero-zero-Aelios-comma-Lydia. Open the sauna
door immediately!" The door remained closed and
Lydia's frown became a petulant scowl. In the event of a
total power failure (which was astronomically unlikely)
the door should open automatically; however, there was no
power failure. The sauna's interior lights were still
shining. "Dammit!" Lydia cursed, then flipped open a small
cedar cover next to the door. In the shallow alcove
revealed was the manual release for the door's latching
mechanism. She pulled the handle... or rather she tried
to pull the handle. It didn't budge. Lydia tried
again, this time using two hands and all her strength. It
still didn't budge.
Lydia's frown faded and she blinked in surprise and
confusion. Also, through the slightly tinted glass of the
door she could see no less than four mobile
capture-bots trundling across the padded floor of the
yoga-studio in her direction, and she hadn't called
them! Two of the bots made a beeline for the sauna
while the second pair held back as programmed, positioning
themselves to act as backup in the highly unlikely possibility
their target evaded the first pair. All four bots had
unfolded and extended their many arms, and Lydia noted that all
of the padded manipulators were configured for restraint!
Lydia's eyes popped wide and she swallowed nervously. It
was abundantly obvious that in some incomprehensible manner, she
was the bots' designated target! "System!" she shouted
as she released the non-functioning release handle, "open the
sauna door, and cancel the current capture program!"
The door finally opened—Whisk!—but Lydia strongly
suspected it wasn't in response to her command. She
backed away from the threshold—but it was too late! One of
the lead capture bots grabbed her wrists and dragged her from
"No! No! Terminate program! This is
User-zero-zero-Aelios-comma-Lydia, dammit! Terminate pro-grmfh!
Working in concert, with their usual graceful, balletic
coordination, the bots had lifted Lydia's sweaty, naked body
into the air, easily defeating her most strenuous and panicked
struggles, as they'd been programmed—and the instant she was off
the ground, Lydia's hair was seized, bundled together, and held
out of the way while a ball-gag was popped in her sputtering
mouth and a panel-gag-muzzle added that covered her lower face
and cupped her chin! "Mrrrpfh!" Both gag and muzzle
were the amber-colored, translucent, synthetic material of
Lydia's revolutionary new and improved tubular bondage system,
but only the strap of the ball-gag was tubular. The ball
plugging her mouth was a 2½" sphere of semi-solid foam while the
panel-gag was a stretched sheet. "Nrrrmrf!"
The bots held Lydia in their "comfortable" padded grip,
including her gagged head—"Mrrrrrf!"—as, in an interweaving
dance almost too fast for the human eye to follow, other arms
dressed her hair. When they were finished, the target's
wet, sweaty hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail, then
plaited into a compact three-part braid and secured at the tip
with a tight, three-inch, synthetic rubber sleeve. Then,
the two capture-bots restraining Lydia's wrists, ankles, and
other parts of her sweaty, glistening anatomy, joined together
end-to-end to become one double-bot, then lowered the target's
struggling form to their hard and now table-like top surfaces,
and locked in place. They then spun 180° and rolled away,
obviously headed for the nearest elevator.
Needless to say, Lydia was not happy about this recent
turn of events. "Nrfh! MRRRM!" She struggled
and squirmed, but her best efforts to escape were as ineffectual
as Edwina's and Alice's had proven to be when they were the
|TΛKΞN BY THΞ MΛCHINΞ
|| Chapter 8
She was naked and lying on her back inside a... hi-tech
sarcophagus? Yes, now she remembered, and "hi-tech
sarcophagus" was as good a name as any. She remembered
Lydia's robots carrying her to her current location—a
rectangular chamber with walls, ceiling and floor all painted
flat-black with the sarcophagus in the center and the only light
coming from an array of widely spaced LED spotlights overhead,
around the periphery of the ceiling—and then the bots strapped
her into the sarcophagus in question. Barely able to
squirm, gagged, and with her face covered by an airtight
gas-mask, the clear, curved lid closed. Then, the overhead
lights winked out, but were immediately replaced by two rows of
bright LEDs lining the inside of her close-fitting prison, one
neat row on either side.
She looked up through the clear, curved lid of the sarcophagus
and beheld her reflection in a mirror mounted on the
ceiling. She'd been too busy fighting the robots to really
notice it before. Anyway, there she was... helpless...
encased in glass and steel like a Sci-Fi Sleeping Beauty...
and... helpless... and there was her reflection overhead.
Struggling was pointless, but she did it anyway. Mewling
through the gag/gas-mask was also pointless, but she did that
anyway. Time passed. She closed her eyes and
willed herself to sleep, there being no other logical course...
but found she couldn't. She tried... but sleep wouldn't
She wiggled and tugged on her bonds... but they were as tight
and inescapable as ever. Horrible. And it went on
And then... somehow... she finally fell asleep.
And now she was awake.
Alice sat up. Her former bonds, including the gas-mask and
its flexible hose, were arrayed around her in all
directions. She stretched—"Eyah!" The sarcophagus
lid was folded back on her right, so she carefully climbed off
the sarcophagus on her left, planted her bare feet on the cool,
smooth, ebony-black floor, and stretched again—this time
full-length, arching her back and reaching for her reflection in
the ceiling. "Eyaaah!"
Suddenly, the ten or twelve vertical panels lining the walls
snapped open, the inevitable robot-arms extended into the
chamber, seized Alice—"Hey! No, dammit! Stop!"—lifted
her into the air, and executed their programmed tasks. As
always, it all happened too fast, the robots were too strong,
and Alice's vigorous efforts to escape were totally in
vain. "I said stop! MRRRF!"
When the routine had run its course, the robo-arms deposited
Alice's feet back in the floor, withdrew back into their
respective alcoves, and the covers snapped shut.
"Mrrrf!" Alice's arms were now folded behind her back and
she was bound with more of the ubiquitous amber-colored rubber
tubing. In fact, her forearms were encased in what
amounted to an interwoven sheath of the stuff from wrist to
wrist. In addition, single strands of tubing pinned her
upper arms against her torso, passing above and below her boobs,
and yoking her shoulders. The stretched rubber was tight
enough to dimple her tan skin, but not tight enough to cause
significant discomfort, even when she struggled, which she did.
"Mrrrmpfh!" And then there was the tape gag. She
looked up at the mirror overhead and confirmed that it was, in
fact, a tape-gag... or maybe not. She finally decided it
was a combination tape-gag and panel-gag of more of the same
translucent amber rubber as the rest of her bonds. It had
an adhesive lining and was stretched across her lower face like
a rubber sheet, pressing against her mouth and closed lips,
tightly cupping her chin, then narrowing to a broad band as it
extended completely around her head and pressed against the nape
of her neck under her blond hair.
And speaking of hair, the Let's-Box-Tie-And-Gag-Alice program
had included a hairdressing routine. Her long blond curls
had been brushed and combed and now framed her gagged and
understandably peeved face. It fluttered and
swayed as Alice tossed her head, rolled her shoulders, twisted
at the waist, squirmed, wiggled, tugged and generally tested her
new bonds. The bonds passed. At least my legs
are free, she silently conceded.
Just then, the chamber door whisked open and a small robot about
the size and shape of a counter-top toaster-oven rolled into the
chamber and stopped at her bare feet. It had a red
gumball-style light mounted on top, which proceeded to start
"Follow the red light to the nearest
elevator," a disembodied,
computer-generated voice ordered, the light stopped flashing and
took on a steady, ruby-red glow, then the little robot spun
180°, trundled back across the threshold of the open door,
turned to the right, and proceeded down the corridor beyond.
Brave but obviously pointless defiance was all well and good,
but Alice heaved a gagged sigh and padded after the disappearing
bot. She might as well. The alternative was probably
being manhandled by the mobile versions of Lydia's grab-handed
robot kidnappers. She quickly caught up to her guide and
padded in its wake. They made several turns and passed
closed door after closed door... and finally arrived at what was
clearly an elevator. Its doors whisked open—Very Star
Trek, Alice mused—they entered the car, the doors closed—Whisk!—and
it began to rise.
The doors opened—Whisk!—and Alice found herself back in
Lydia's apartment suite. Through the window-walls she saw
picturesque shafts of sunlight shining through broken clouds and
playing across patches of the chaparral-covered hillsides and
the surface of the Pacific beyond. Its red light still
shining, the mini-robot continued across the carpeted floor,
rolling deeper into Lydia's luxurious Ultramodern abode.
Alice heaved another sigh and resumed following.
Obviously, Lydia had scheduled herself another gloating
session. Might as well get this over with, Alice
silently fumed as she padded across the carpet.
Alice and her mini-bot guide arrived at what was obviously
Lydia's home office. The little robot's red light winked
out as it rolled to a stop. Seated in a posh office chair
in front of a huge desk, her back more-or-less to Alice, her
attention focused on the bank of flat-screen monitors displaying
scrolling lines of multi-colored computer code before her, and
her fingers flying across the keys of the virtual keyboard built
into the desktop was—NOT Lydia! Alice's pale blue
eyes popped wide in surprise.
Edwina! Alice remembered. Edwina Bliss!
Doctor Edwina Bliss! The last time she'd seen her
fellow prisoner they'd both been naked, bound, and gagged, but
now... not so much! In fact, not at all!
Edwina was wearing... a long-sleeve unitard? The
base-layer of a skiing outfit? A futuristic Sci-Fi
uniform? Whatever the proper designation of the garment,
it was charcoal-gray and hugged her svelte, fit body like the
proverbial glove. Anyway, Edwina wasn't naked, and she
wasn't bound and gagged! However, Alice noticed, she was
barefoot, like Alice herself. Then again, barefoot was
no big deal compared to naked and tied up. The not naked,
not bound, not gagged, and no-longer-fellow-prisoner's
long brown hair trailed down her back in a sleek, severe
Edwina rose from the chair and turned to face Alice.
"There you are," she said with a smile, looking at the blonde's
naked, restrained body from head to toe in an assessing
manner. "None the worse for wear, it would appear."
She then focused on the mini-robot. "Thank you,
Gumball. That will be all."
Alice watched as the little robot (whose name, apparently, was
"Gumball") spun on its wheels, rolled across the office, and
disappeared from sight. Also, from her accent, she noted
that Edwina was British, probably English.
Edwina's smile faded. "Oh, I'm terribly sorry,"
she sighed, "This was unintended." She turned back
to the desk, opened a drawer and pulled out a pair of sharp
scissors, then padded towards Alice. "I've been very busy
and neglected to notice that apparently some form of gag is the
default setting of the control-and-restrain
protocol. Please forgive me." She stepped behind
Alice, parted her flaxen curls at the nape of her neck, then
teased the bottom margin of the synthetic rubber mask-tape-panel
away from her neck with her fingertips, then carefully—very carefully—snipped
and severed the stretched band of amber material with tiny,
nibbling cuts, not letting the scissors' sharp tips touch
Alice's skin. "Things have been absolutely hectic,"
she continued, "a thousand and one things to change or not
change, and all of it demanding my full and immediate
attention,"—Snip-snip-snip...—"or at least my detailed
The cut now complete, Edwina began peeling the gag from Alice's
face. It was, in fact, the same synthetic rubber as
Alice's tubular box-tie bonds, but was a single stretched sheet
coated on the inside with what Alice hoped was a hypoallergenic
adhesive. Whatever its dermatological properties, the
glue-like substance was surrendering its grip on Alice's lips
and lower face with great reluctance. The
mask-like panel finally came away and Edwina tossed it aside.
Alice licked her lips, worked her jaw, and watched as a small
Roomba-like robot darted from hiding, extended a small
manipulator arm, and carried the gag-remnant away, she assumed
"There," Edwina said as she turned, padded back to the desk, and
returned the scissors to the drawer. She then positioned a
nearby visitor chair next to the throne-like office chair and
patted its plastic seat. "Here. Come join me."
Alice blinked her pale blue eyes... then padded to the visitor
chair and took Edwina's advice, settling her naked tush onto the
questionable comfort of the hard seat. "Uh... what's
happening?" she inquired (which was only logical).
"I've rescued us," Edwina explained with a smug smile.
Alice blinked a few more times, then twisted her upper body and
tugged against her synthetic-rubber-box-tie-bonds. "Uh..."
"I'll explain the technical details later," Edwina continued,
"but rest assured that I'm in control of the situation,
meaning Lydia Aelios' and her entire
organization. Also, I'm in the process of implementing an
optimal final outcome to our, uh, adventure. That
will take some time, I'm afraid, but rest assured we're entirely
"Stop!" Alice commanded, her expression unmistakably
angry. "Where is—" Her expression instantly shifted
to one of amazement and surprise. "Oh."
The formerly featureless wall directly beyond the desk and its
arc of flat-screen monitors had revealed itself to be a gigantic
projection screen, and it was now displaying the video image of
a naked, bound, gagged, and vigorously struggling brunette—and
that brunette was unmistakably Lydia Aelios!
Both Edwina and Alice stared at the screen in silence.
Alice was still wide-eyed and bewildered, but was no longer
angry. Edwina gazed with a serene smile.
Lydia was in a chamber with a padded floor and walls lined with
the usual vertical panels, no doubt hiding the usual robot-arms
poised in their alcoves and waiting to pounce. It was one
of the seemingly countless number of
damsel-holding/handling-cells beneath their feet. Lydia
was naked and lying full-length on the floor with her legs
together and arms behind her back. Neat bands of
amber-colored synthetic rubber tubing—which apparently was the
prisoner-restraint-sub-system's bondage medium of choice—bound
Lydia's wiggling, squirming body at her ankles, mid lower legs,
above and below her knees, her mid-thighs, wrists, waist and
forearms, and passed above and below her breasts, pinning her
upper-arms against her torso and her elbows together. In
addition, a web-like, diamond-hitch pattern of single strands
augmented Lydia's helplessness, crisscrossing her entire body
from her shoulders to her feet and big toes. A
close-fitting steel collar was around Lydia's neck and her lips
sealed by a broad strip of off-white medical tape. The
shape of Lydia's lips stood out in three dimensional detail and—
Alice had just realized her collar was missing.
It was no longer hugging her neck like a high-fashion
choker. "Where's my collar?" she inquired
Edwina continued gazing at the screen, but her smile
faded. "I had it removed, of course. It was an obedience
collar, by the way, the kind used to train dogs to stop
barking." She shifted her smile to Alice. "Did you
know that? Did she tell you? Did she ever turn it
Alice shook her head. "No." She focused on the
struggling, squirming, larger-than-life image on the screen,
once again. "Not yet."
Edwina continued gazing at the screen. "And now, not
Lydia's brown hair was plaited in a tight braid that flailed and
flopped on the floor as she struggled.
Alice tugged on her own much less elaborate bonds. "Why am
I tied up?"
Edwina's smile returned (somewhat) as she heaved an apologetic
sigh. "I'm afraid it's necessary." She tapped a
virtual icon on the desktop—Lydia's squirming, naked, bound,
gagged, and collared image disappeared—then she turned back to
fully face Alice. "As I explained earlier, I have complete
control of Lydia's system, but I'm still systematically going
through the code to solidify that control. I'm
also implementing a solution to our situation."
Alice's frown was back. "Okay... but that doesn't explain
why I'm still tied up."
Edwina heaved another sigh, then noticed a blinking block of red
text on a side-monitor, turned and tapped the keyboard several
times until the text stopped blinking and changed color to match
the surrounding code, then turned back to Alice. "There's
an increasingly small probability the expert software management
programs and I will miss something, someone somewhere will
realize that something unusual is happening in Lydia's
lair, and they might start asking awkward questions and causing
a stir. The absolute worst case scenario is the
authorities arrive in force and take complete and immediate
control. Even though Lydia would surely be prosecuted for
her conduct, we could also be prosecuted for not
summoning the police immediately and for kidnapping Lydia in
"But, we're gonna have to do that anyway," Alice objected,
"aren't we? Call the cops?"
Edwina's smile returned. "Not necessarily," she
purred. "Remember, I've had a little more time to think
about this than you. I assume you'd like to return to your
acting career as soon as possible?"
"Well," Edwina continued. "Just as a mental exercise,
suppose Aelios Cybertronics was to approach Lucasfilm and Disney
and announce that they've decided to dip their toe in the
movie-making business and propose a highly favorable partnership,
if they're allowed to join in the production of their
new film trilogy. That would include substantial
financial investment and access to AC's bleeding edge
robotics technology and software engineering expertise, of
Alice frowned. "But—"
"That's why you disappeared, you see," Edwina continued.
"Your old friend Lydia arranged to have you clandestinely
whisked away to her luxurious and isolated mansion to discuss
the proposal. Lydia wanted to take advantage of your
industry expertise, you see, and insisted on all the silly
cloak-and-dagger nonsense. Also, the entire deal hinges on
your continued casting in all three movies."
Again, Alice began blinking her pale blue eyes. "That's...
Edwina's smile widened. "Yes, absolutely; but tell me...
how many tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of
investment would it take for the studios to decide that Lydia's
bizarre behavior and your covert involvement isn't ridiculous at
all, but just another amusing example of Lydia Aelios'
"Point taken," Alice sighed, "but won't Lydia have to agree to
all of this?"
Edwina's broad smile continued. "As it turns out...
no. It should come as no surprise that Lydia has little
patience or talent with respect to personal interaction.
She finds even polite conversation exceedingly tiresome,
including routine meetings with the senior executives of her own
"No, ya think?" Alice muttered.
"Anyway," Edwina chuckled, "some years ago, when the technology
involved was just becoming viable, Lydia decided to
develop a so-called 'Deep Fake' copy of herself to handle video
Alice gazed at Edwina with a skeptical frown, which Edwina
returned with a serene smile.
"Over the years," Edwina continued, "the simulation has become
more and more sophisticated and is now totally convincing, and
she's started relying on it more and more."
"Okay, that might help us in the short run," Alice conceded,
Still smiling, Edwina raised her right hand. "Hold that
thought." She then turned to the desk and pressed a
virtual function key on the virtual keyboard, followed by
several more virtual keys.
The gigantic projection screen flashed to life, and on it was
the image of Lydia Aelios wearing a skimpy, very revealing
one-piece bathing suit in scarlet-red and a pair of designer
shades. She was reclined on a lounge chair out on the
mansion's deck, reading an iPad, and sipping the straw of an icy
drink in a tall tumbler with a fruit garnish. She heaved
an exasperated sigh, set the drink on a nearby side-table,
removed her sunglasses, and scowled at the camera lens
capturing her image.
"Sorry to bother you, Lydia darling," Edwina purred, "but George
Lucas would like to talk to you. He has some suggestions
about the use of robotics in the second and third films and—"
"Stop!" Lydia barked. "I told you! I expect you
to handle the project, Dr. Bliss, so handle it!" She
picked up her drink, took a sip, then set it down again.
"Go away." She tapped the screen of her iPad and the
gigantic screen before Alice and Edwina winked out.
Edwina beamed at her naked, bound, blond co-conspirator.
"You see? I keep all interactions short and deflect all
decisions, and I assure you, the simulation is technically
perfect. I would know. I've seen the code, and the
system has thousands of hours of video of Lydia and her verbal
interactions to refine Deep-Fake-Lydia's syntax and
mannerisms. The wonders of machine learning."
Gazing at the now blank wall, Alice nodded... then her frown
returned. "Wait, how do I know the earlier image—the
one of Lydia naked, bound, and gagged—wasn't the... 'Deep
"Deep Fake," Edwina confirmed with a nod. "At some point
I'll take you down below so you can kick Lydia a few times to
make sure she's real."
"Okay," Alice muttered, then heaved a sigh. "I'm still not
sure this can work."
Edwina was still smiling. "Unfortunately, poor Lydia is
becoming more and more of a recluse. In fact, I'm now the
only person she'll talk to face-to-face, apparently because
we're scientific peers. Soon, as far as the outside world
is concerned, while Lydia Aelios might write the occasional
scientific paper, she'll stop attending scientific conferences
altogether, will grant no media interviews, and will
leave the day-to-day running of her business empire to her
subordinates, especially myself."
"She'll be like Howard Hughes," Alice said in a near whisper.
"Exactly," Edwina confirmed, "only with expert systems and
robots to maintain her diet and exercise routine so she remains
fit and healthy."
"That's... tragic," Alice said evenly, a ghost of a smile
threatening to curl her lips.
Edwina shrugged. "Billionaires can be as eccentric as they
wish, especially when their business is private, not a
partnership, and not a publicly traded corporation. No
irritating boards of directors or share-holders to demand their
appearance at meetings."
Alice nodded... then squirmed in her chair (and tugged on her
bonds). "When do I get to go home?"
"Two or three days at the absolute most," Edwina reassured her
friend and fellow-schemer. "Negotiations with the studios
are already underway."
Alice nodded again, then affected a wounded pout. "Your
explanation about why I need to be tied up is absolute
bullshit," she huffed.
Edwina blinked innocently, her smile never wavering as she gazed
at Alice's naked, synthetic-rubber-bound body. "Lydia has
her eccentricities... and I have mine. Don't worry, I know
how to keep my hands to myself and I'll keep the robots in
"You're kidnapping me too, aren't you?" Alice demanded, her
features set in a mildly disapproving stare.
Edwina blushed. "Uh... you're very beautiful... and now
that there's no question of permanent enslavement and endless
erotic torture, I find I'm quite enjoying myself." Her
lips curled in a shy smile. "I hope you don't mind if I
indulge myself just a little. I think we can both agree
that I've earned it... and I will let you go, as soon
as I can... and I will keep my hands to myself. I
Alice continued staring at her blushing and smiling
captor/rescuer. Could she be any cuter? the
naked but only semi-bound actress asked herself. Seconds
passed... then she decided to let her smile surface.
"Well, It's not like I can do anything about it, is there?"
Edwina's happy, rather girlish smile returned.
Alice raised an eyebrow. "Come again?"
"Would you care for a cup of tea?"
Alice shrugged her rubber-tubing yoked shoulders. "Coffee
would be nice."
"That's possible," Edwina purred, then tapped a teacup-shaped
icon off to the side of the desk's virtual keyboard. "The
tea-trolley-bot is on the way."
Still smiling, Alice tugged on her bound wrists and
forearms. "And how am I supposed to drink coffee when I'm
tied up like this?" she demanded.
Edwina beamed. "Don't be silly, darling. That's what
robots are for."
|TΛKΞN BY THΞ MΛCHINΞ
|| Chapter 8
& THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY
...except for Lydia.
(See Epilogue for additional details.)
|TΛKΞN BY THΞ MΛCHINΞ