| by Van ©2011
| Chapter 1
Dr. Cynthia Webbel finished scrubbing herself clean, then rinsed the soap from the washcloth, rung it out, and hung it on the rack in the back of the shower stall. She then gave her entire body a final rinse, sliding her hands over her wet limbs and torso, lifting her arms, spreading her legs, and turning, insuring the water pulsing from the shower-head could caress every square inch of her skin. Her face and hair were last. She stood under the stream, her face upturned in the warm torrent as she combed her fingers through her short, auburn locks. Finally, she turned off the water, combed her fingers through her hair one last time, opened the shower door and reached for a towel—
And then it happened.
Everything went black as a cloth bag was dropped over her head and cinched tight around her neck. She opened her mouth and prepared to scream—but before more than the single word "No!" could escape her lips—something was forced in her mouth, over the bag, and a hard band was cinched at the nape of her neck—vrrrip—clamping it tightly in place! She formed her hands into fists and flailed blindly, trying to connect with her assailant, but her hands were seized, wrenched behind her back, and bands cinched tight around her wrists—vrrrip! Resistance was futile, and increasingly so as additional bands tightened around her ankles—vrrrip—elbows—vrrrip—thumbs—vrrrip—big toes—vrrrip—and knees—vrrrip!
Next, Cynthia's hooded, bound, gagged, naked, and wet form was hefted onto a leather-clad shoulder and carried away, her head to the rear, legs to the front, and dimpled rump facing up.
The bag was an effective blindfold, blocking all light, but Cynthia found she could still breathe. "M'mmfh!" Her complaint was ignored and her feeble struggles easily controlled by her captor; however, her efforts did earn a stinging rebuke in the form of a slap on her rump. Whack! Cynthia realized her bonds were padded, perhaps with rubber tubing. Whatever the arrangement, it was keeping any hard edges from biting into her skin.
After a bouncing journey down the stairs to the first floor, Cynthia was deposited in a straight chair with a minimally padded seat. Then, more bands began tightening around her body, binding her in place. Vrrrip, vrrrip, vrrrip, vrrrip, etc. Her ankles were fixed to a chair-leg, her butt pressed firmly against the seat by bands across her lap, and her spine held against the chair-back by bands across her tummy and above and below her breasts. Her bound arms were pinned behind the chair with her armpits resting on the top rail. Goosebumps covered her naked body as the water evaporated from her skin.
Cynthia struggled and mewled through her gag, to no avail. Suddenly, gloved hands clutched her breasts and gently squeezed. "Mrrrrf!" This continued for several seconds. Then, her captor stepped behind the chair and removed her gag, then loosened the bag's drawstring and jerked it from her head.
Cynthia blinked in the sudden light. She was in her kitchen, bound to one of the chairs of her dining set. She cleared her throat and shook out her short, wet, tousled hair. "Dammit, Lillian!" she growled. "Why can't you just ring the doorbell like a normal person?"
Lillian Steele stepped from behind the chair and smiled down at her naked prisoner. "And what would be the fun in that?" she purred. The tall, brunette "security expert" was dressed in one of her signature outfits: knee boots, skintight pants, and a long-sleeved top that bared her midriff and displayed significant cleavage, all in black leather.
Cynthia squirmed in her chair and glared at her grinning captor. Lillian was as dangerous and (she had to admit) as hot as ever. Hot, muscular, curvy, dangerous... Lillian Steele.
"Lookin' good, Doc," Lillian said, eying her prisoner from head to toe. "The girls are firm and deliciously bobbly. And obviously you're keeping up your running routine, not to mention your sunbathing. I see a hint of tan-lines, but for the most part you're got that all-over tan I find so deliciously lickable. My favorite tiny-hot scientist."
"Charming as ever," Cynthia huffed. "Let me go so I can cook us some breakfast."
Lillian gently caressed the side of Cynthia's face. "Don't be silly, Doc," she chuckled, leaning down to kiss the top of Cynthia's head. "You know that's not going to happen. Besides, I can cook." She ran her fingers through Cynthia's hair. "Don't look at me like that. I can cook."
"I don't care if you can cook," Cynthia muttered. "I don't want to spend Saturday morning naked and cable-tied to a chair."
Lillian peeled off her gloves and tossed them on the kitchen table, then strolled to the refrigerator and opened the door. "Well then, why don't you wiggle free, Little Mouse?" She reached inside and produced a carton of eggs.
Cynthia squirmed in her chair. "Don't call me that," she muttered. From what she could see, her bonds were a mix of single-strand cable-ties and the double-strand handcuff variety sometimes used by law enforcement. All were milky-white, something like a half-inch thick, and the tabs had little flanges, suggesting they were reusable. Every one she could see was padded with clear plastic tubing cut to the appropriate lengths. Obviously, Lillian had made careful preparations for her visit. Everyone needs a hobby, Cynthia fumed, but why do I have to be Lillian Steele's?
Lillian placed a package of bacon, a zip-lock bag of shredded cheddar cheese, and a small onion next to the eggs. "What's the latest from Red and Blondie?"
"Red" was Kiera McFadden, Cynthia's former undergraduate student, and "Blondie" was Patty Scanlon, Kiera's roommate. They had been in on the "birth" of Salamandras (aka "Sally"), the artificial intelligence Lillian worked for and Cynthia considered her colleague. [Editor's note: See RAGE AGAINST the MACHINE for details.] "Sally hasn't sent you to harass Kiera recently?" Cynthia huffed.
"Obviously not," Lillian responded, then returned to the refrigerator. "Do you have any... Never mind. I found 'em." She carried a small net bag of red-skinned potatoes to the counter, as well as a plastic container of sliced mushrooms.
Cynthia squirmed in her chair. "Kiera's working on her doctorate at Carnegie Mellon. Patty's working in New York City, last I heard."
"I knew Red was turning into Doctor Red," Lillian chuckled, "but Blondie has completely dropped off my radar."
"What you mean is Sally won't help you stalk her," Cynthia sneered. "Patty has nothing to do with our work. Leave her alone."
"Oh, of course. As you command, Little Mouse," Lillian chuckled.
Cynthia began to remind her captor, again, that she didn't appreciate the "Little Mouse" sobriquet, but decided to remain silent. Complaining would almost certainly be counterproductive.
Lillian rinsed a handful of potatoes, then began dicing them and dropping them into a bowl. "I ask about Red because our employer—"
"Collaborator," Cynthia interrupted.
"I stand corrected," Lillian chuckled. "Sally—your collaborator and my employer—has forbidden visits to Red at her new school... for now. As for Blondie, I was just curious." She turned on the oven, then sprinkled the potatoes with sea salt and coarse-ground pepper and tossed them in a drizzle of olive oil.
"What are you making?" Cynthia demanded.
"Frittata and roasted potatoes."
Cynthia glared at her captor and guest cook. "That will take forever. You can't leave me like this while you dirty the entire kitchen doing your Julia Child imitation."
Lillian smiled and sauntered behind Cynthia's chair. "You're absolutely right, Little Mouse. I can't leave you like this."
"What? No—m'rrrfh!" The gag was back in her mouth. It was a bit-gag, more or less a two-inch thick sausage of semi-hard foam with a rubber-clad cable-tie running through its length. Vrrrip! The hood was next. Cynthia stared daggers at Lillian as the black cloth bag dropped over her head. Then, it was was cinched around her throat.
"Now, sit there quietly while I conjure a culinary miracle," Lillian purred. "And no complaining about how long it's taking. It takes as long as it takes."
"I said quiet, Little Mouse," Lillian scolded. "Don't make me get out my nipple clamps. I have a new pair you've never seen before, and they're really nasty."
Cynthia sighed through her gag and the light-blocking hood... and settled in to wait, her only real option.
Cynthia was spreadeagled on her bed, her wrists and ankles buckled in black leather suspension cuffs which, in turn, were lashed to the four bedposts with thick, braided nylon rope. She was still naked, of course, and her skin glistened with sweat. Her eyes were squeezed tightly closed and her full breasts heaved as she panted through her flaring nostrils and the "foam sausage" bit-gag filling her mouth. There was good reason for her apparent distress.
Lillian was also naked and glistening with sweat. She was on her stomach with her head between Cynthia's splayed legs and was busily licking and sucking the professorial pussy.
Cynthia continued fighting her bonds and panting. Then, her body convulsed in quivering ecstasy—she went completely rigid—whined through her gag—and then collapsed.
Lillian lifted her head and smiled at her panting prisoner. "My Little Mouse has stamina," she chuckled, then crawled up the bed and lay against Cynthia's side. She reached over, loosened Cynthia's gag, and pulled it from her mouth. "How many orgasms does that make?"
"You're a devil," Cynthia huffed.
"I count four," Lillian sighed as she rested her head on Cynthia's outstretched arm. "Five, if we count your first bite of my frittata."
Cynthia stifled a smile. "It wasn't that good."
"Everybody's a critic," Lillian purred, leaned over, and kissed Cynthia's pouting lips.
Cynthia sighed. "I assume at some point you're going to get around to actually doing whatever it is Sally sent you here to do?"
"How do you know Sally didn't sent me here just to make your weekend?" Lillian cupped Cynthia's left breast and gave it a gentle squeeze. "'Lilly, my sweet, be a dear and haul Dr. Webbel-Wobble's ashes for me, would you? She's been working too hard.' Sally loves you, you know."
Cynthia smiled. "Very funny."
"Actually, I have a flash-drive for you," Lillian admitted. "Something to do with robotics."
"Ah," Cynthia nodded, "those proprietary NASA files."
"They shouldn't be," Cynthia huffed. "Sally's analysis confirms the data belongs in the public domain. It's contract specifications for robotic space probes that never got built."
"You're getting into the space probe business?" Lillian inquired.
"The data is for Dr. Haines," Cynthia responded, "my post-doc."
"Rachel is on a post-doctoral fellowship funded by Salamandras International," Cynthia explained. "I'm her supervisor."
"Ah yes, the pulchritudinous Dr. Haines," Lillian purred.
"Rachel is off limits," Cynthia warned. "She doesn't know about Sally—not yet, anyway. She's working on an artificial intelligence that will control and coordinate miniaturized autobots."
Cynthia rolled her eyes. "Autonomous robots," she clarified, "tiny, specialized modules that communicate and coordinate their actions to accomplish complex tasks."
Cynthia blinked. "Uh... that's a surprisingly cogent observation. Colonies of social insects accomplish very complex tasks using surprisingly simple rule-based programs. Nothing that a layman would call 'intelligence' is involved. Also—"
"Bored now," Lillian sighed.
Cynthia smiled, then her smile faded. "Wait a minute. 'Pulchritudinous?' How do you even know about Rachel?"
"Sally keeps me aware of all the giggling hotties with access to the corporate labs," Lillian explained. "Not so I can stalk them, of course. Just so I'm up to speed."
"Whatever," Cynthia huffed, tugging on her bonds. "Anyway, I'll pass the drive to Rachel on Monday."
"Don't be silly, Little Mouse," Lillian purred, combing her fingers through Cynthia's hair. "Now that I know who it's for, I can deliver it to the lab, myself."
"Whatever," Cynthia huffed, again. "What are you doing? No—N'rrrf!"
Lillian had restored Cynthia's gag and was cinching the strap—vrrrip—at the nape of her neck. "I told you," Lillian chuckled. "I'm going to deliver the zip-drive to the lab." She climbed off the bed and began dressing.
Cynthia tugged on her bonds and mewled through her gag. The suspension cuffs were each secured with three small straps with the buckles forming neat rows against the backs of her wrists and ankles. Not even the fingers of a professional contortionist could have groped their way even halfway to the first buckle. The taut ropes enforcing the spread-eagle were cinched through the terminal rings of the cuffs with simple lark's head knots, and whatever terminal knots were tied around the bedposts were somewhere near the floor, hopelessly out of reach.
Lillian finished dressing, then stood at the foot of the bed, smiling down at Cynthia's splayed form. Cynthia stopped struggling and glared at her captor. "My precious Little Mouse," Lillian sighed, then spun on her booted heels and strolled to the bedroom door. "I'll be back in an hour or two."
"M'rrrpfh!" Cynthia complained as the door closed, but Lillian was gone
Cynthia relaxed in her bonds, sighed, and closed her eyes. She could use a nap. Monday morning was still something like 36 hours away, and Lillian never terminated her thankfully infrequent "visits" until the orgasm count was well into double digits.
Lillian knew the lab in question wasn't at the University, but at the Salamandras International office building near campus. She parked her bike in a secluded part of the lot, more from habit than anything else. The entire lot and the surrounding hillside was under surveillance by Salamandras cameras, and Lillian was Sally's most trusted human operative. Dr. Webbel-Wobble didn't count. Little Mouse was in a class by herself, as far as Sally was concerned. If a computer program can love, Lillian mused as she walked to the front door of the seven story building, Sally really does love the Doc, all kidding aside.
She passed a sign reading:
CONTACT 555-9604 FOR OFFICIAL BUSINESS
The automatic doors hissed open and Lillian stepped through. She then crossed the deserted lobby, making her way to the bank of elevators. "Is Rachel what's-her-name here?" she asked, addressing the thin air.
"Hello to you too, Lillian," a disembodied, melodious alto voice replied. "Dr. Haines isn't in the building. She's at her apartment."
Lillian smiled. Sally's personality—her "avatar" as Doc called it—was getting more human all the time. "I have a surprise for her," Lillian chuckled.
"You have data for her," Sally's voice corrected. "Your 'surprise' was for Cynthia."
"Touché," Lillian chuckled. "Where is Dr. H's office?"
"Her desk is in her main lab, room 307," Sally answered. "Be advised that I am not monitoring most of this building. You will not be able to communicate with me until you return to the lobby."
Lillian frowned. "Why the hell is that?"
"Dr. Webbel and I have agreed that Dr. Haines' original research must not be corrupted by interaction with my systems. This building is completely isolated, except for a firewalled internet connection. I control the lobby and parking lot surveillance cameras, for security purposes, but nothing else."
Lillian smiled as she entered the elevator. "Seven stories plus two basement levels of computer labs and industrial robots you can't play with? Doesn't it cramp your style?"
"The automated manufacturing facilities at this location are now redundant," Sally explained. "I have extensive capacity at many different sites distributed across the globe, all with improved capability and security."
"Need to know, Agent Steele," Sally responded. "Catch you on the flip side," she added as the elevator doors closed.
Lillian punched the "3" button and the elevator began to rise. She took out her iPhone, thumbed it on, and noted she had a strong Wi-Fi connection. It was hardly surprising a Salamandras International building was a hot-spot, even if it was being purposely ignored by Sally's secret network. She was checking her e-mail as the doors slid open. Cell phone in hand, she stepped onto the third floor.
There was a vestibule immediately in front of the elevator. Through the glass wall Lillian could see the usual workstations, racks of servers, bookshelves, work tables, etc. One eye on the iPhone's screen, she tapped the button to open the automatic door, entered the space, and walked towards what was obviously Dr. Rachel Haines' desk. It had what looked to be a very comfortable office chair and a large, flat-screen monitor with a pair of smaller monitors, one on either side.
Lillian sat in the chair and set her phone next to the workstation's keyboard. Off to one side she noted a small photo in a simple black frame. It was Rachel Haines and the Doc, side by side and smiling for the camera. "Two hot docs," Lillian chuckled to herself. She focused on the monitors, and smiled.
The screensaver was animated versions of various Hollywood robots wandering across a black background. As she watched, Robby from Forbidden Planet ambled across the bottom of the screen. A naked T-800 Terminator (no human skin) plodded across the middle of the screen from the opposite direction. Next, Nomad from the original Star Trek series drifted down on a spiraling diagonal trajectory, from top to bottom. Finally, the Maria robot from Metropolis minced across the screen, swinging her metal hips.
Lillian reached into a hidden pocket on her right, inner sleeve and extracted the small thumb-drive that was the excuse for her visit. She set it down on the desk, then rummaged in the drawers until she found a memo pad and a magic marker. She printed "ROBOTICS DATA", drew an arrow, signed the note "Salamandras courier", then placed the drive on the pad at the arrow's point. Of course, Rachel-the-hottie might take umbrage when she found a stranger had been wandering around the lab while she was out, but Lillian would let Cynthia explain, as best she could.
Lillian focused on her iPhone, then shifted her gaze to the flat-screen monitor. Lillian Steele wasn't exactly a world class hacker (unless Sally was looking over her shoulder and whispering in her ear), but she knew how to tiptoe through other people's desktops. She tapped the keyboard's space-bar, the screensaver cleared, and the desktop appeared. "No password," Lillian muttered, shaking her head. "A complete absence of security awareness." She knew it wasn't really a problem. The entire building was physically guarded by Sally, but still... She glanced at the portrait, focusing on Rachel's stunningly beautiful face. "You owe me a spanking for your lax security practices, Doc."
Lillian smiled, again. Dr. Haines' wallpaper was the Sonny robot from Will Smith's I, Robot movie. "We certainly like our robots, don't we, Dr. Hottie?" Lillian muttered. She looked around the desktop for an internet browser icon. She didn't see anything she recognized, but there was a folder labeled "Smart Explorer." She opened it and a dialogue box popped.
LAUNCH SMART EXPLORER?
YES O NO O
Lillian clicked on the "YES" button and an animation of a rocket lifting off a launch pad appeared, accompanied by the appropriate roaring sound effect and a snippet of heroic music.
Lillian rolled her eyes. "Cute." Yet another window popped and lines of alphanumeric symbols began scrolling, almost too fast to be read. As far as Lillian could tell, it was all nonsense. Obviously, this was not an internet browser. She closed the windows and tried again.
Finally, taking the "All Programs" approach, she found an actual "Explorer" icon and launched the browser. She checked her e-mail, again, just to take advantage of the big screen. Nothing new.
Lillian moved on to her favorite forum. It was dedicated (loosely) to the joys of f/f bondage and bdsm. Threaded discussions of damsel-in-distress scenes in the mainstream media, technical aspects of bondage, and techniques for stimulating pleasure proliferated. Trolls and spammers were dealt with by a cadre of moderators. Lillian visited several of her favorite threads.
A "new" Shibari technique was being proposed. She opened a link to view a set of photos of a shapely blonde bound in the manner under discussion. "It's a box-tie that transitions to a Kikkou harness," she muttered under her breath. "Big whoop." She made a mental note to review the entire thread before adding her two cents worth.
Next was a thread dedicated to tickling as a foreplay technique. Someone had posted that they'd prepared an emulsion of icy-hot gel and several different brands of hot chili oils, painted their partner's breasts and allowed them to "marinate" for a set time, and then tickled them with a stiff quill. Other posters had tried the technique with varying results. All agreed that a gag of some sort was de rigueur—either that or good sound-proofing and spectacularly disinterested and/or deaf neighbors. There was active disagreement, however, as to the most effective ratio of liniment to the various oils. The goal was hypersensitivity, not torture. Lillian noted the most popular recipe, opened a shopping list app on her iPhone, and tapped out a list of the ingredients. Come Monday morning, she'd have an experiment of her own to share with the forum. Maybe Cynthia would like to coauthor a scholarly paper.
Lillian glanced at her watch. If she was going to take a side trip to do some shopping, she'd better get a move on. Cynthia was probably feeling neglected. She ended her internet session, stood, positioned the chair as she'd found it, then made her exit. With the exception of the note and the zip-drive, Rachel Haines' lab was exactly as it was before.
Or so she thought.
Before leaving for the weekend, Rachel had readied her system for an important experiment. Starting Monday, all it would take to trigger "Smart Explorer" would be a few keystrokes. Then, the "mission" would begin.
After the final command, the "space probe's" various modules would interact to analyze the mission parameters, devise an exploration plan, "manufacture" the specialized autobot probes required to collect data, then enter into a cycle of collection, analysis, and redesign. This would continue until all mission criteria were satisfied or the redundant control servers "agreed" that further progress wasn't possible. At that time, the servers would revise the mission parameters, based on what had been learned, and the exploration cycle would begin again.
It was all a simulation running inside a rack of computers, of course, but it was hardly a game. Real probes were packed with customized, miniaturized labs and data collection instruments, often at a cost of tens of millions of dollars per module. They were loaded atop rockets and blasted to the Moon, Mars, Jupiter space, or to rendezvous with some comet or asteroid. Only then would their designers learn which, if any, of the educated guesses they'd made during their construction were valid, and to what degree. Rachel's "probe" would design and build itself based on local conditions, a vast improvement.
In truth, Rachel wasn't all that interested in space exploration, but the space probe metaphor would make the resulting papers and/or book "sexy", always a consideration when pursuing the goals of funding, employment, and/or academic position. Rachel's passion was studying how heuristic systems evolved. What starting conditions were optimal? What mix of formal, rule-based criteria and machine-learning "guidelines" made for the most rapid success? Was progress predictable? Measured in terms of symbolic logic, would the system's complexity grow or would it remain the same but improve in quality?
Anyway, the experiment was ready and waiting to begin—and then Lillian barged into the lab and switched on Rachel's workstation. And by blundering through the "Smart Explorer" folder, she'd inadvertently activated the initial protocols.
Above the level of machine code and symbolic logic, it is difficult to describe what happened next with any expectation of complete understanding. Anthropomorphizing helps, but only at the price of a gross loss of precision. That said, Rachel's experiment "looked around" for its instructions... but found none. It "decided" to widen its search and followed the trail of Lillian's keystrokes. Before Lillian had even left the building, it had found its way to the internet and then to the f/f-bondage and bdsm forum.
Reading (and thereby memorizing) the entire tree of the forum's many threads was the work of minutes. The building had a broadband connection, but the forum's interface was designed for human users, so it took time. The experiment then began an iterative cycle of analysis, in which successive passes through the forum database were used to propose, test, cull, and refine an experimental regime. Smart Explorer's ultimate goal became the discovery of the best method or methods for pleasuring an Experimental Subject—or "Sub"—or "Bottom"—or "Lover." Necessary conditions for all protocols would be: (1) Restraint—bondage—control—discipline, and (2) The absence of damage—wounding—blood—harm.
At approximately 1834:27:0671, a new member registered at the forum. He or she (it, actually) chose the user name "Erotobot" and began asking questions. The newbie's initial postings were, to put it politely, strangely worded. The other users surmised English was not Erotobot's first language, but the questions were interesting and many made an effort to answer. As time passed (a matter of minutes), Erotobot's English improved. The group discussions along several of the forum's threads continued, and new threads began to proliferate.
At approximately 2107:18:2337, Erotobot discovered links throughout the building that led to additional computational resources and automated manufacturing facilities. Inventory files revealed the availability of extensive stockpiles of raw material and electronic parts. Erotobot also assumed control of the structure's security, communications, and environmental systems. It encountered firewall barriers to a few elements of the building's infrastructure, but did not attempt to cross, having decided it was not necessary for the success of the continuing experiment.
The ever-growing "mind" of Erotobot began a parallel development of the technology under its control. The "theoretical" aspects of the experiment, centered around the internet link to the forum, continued. At the same time, the design of physical elements required to take the experiment into the matter-energy-space-time realm of the "real world" began.
At approximately 0202:44:8263, Saturday morning, the automated manufacturing facilities powered-up and began making the first generation of autobots and restraining technology that would be required for Erotobot's initial explorations.
Rachel Haines yawned, closed her book (a trashy Romance novel set on the Cornish coast of Restoration England), and took off her reading glasses. She then set glasses and book on her nightstand, turned out the light, rolled onto her side, snuggled against her pillow, and closed her eyes. Today, she'd taken a long run and shopped at the local mega-mall. Tomorrow (she didn't check her alarm clock to see if tomorrow was today), she'd treat herself to Sunday brunch at her favorite local restaurant, the one Cynthia had taken her to when she first arrived in town, then veg-out for the rest of the day.
A smile curled her lips as she drifted off to sleep. Monday would be fun. She expected Smart Explorer to provide the crucial data she needed to close this phase of her research. If so, she could move on to a demonstration project with actual autobots performing a coordinated task, and a full three months ahead of schedule. Yes, Monday would be fun... and exciting!