com badge From the log of USS ARTEMIS (NCC-69069)

                THE GIAN EXPANSE   by Van  ©2010
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After dropping off the Starfleet prisoners, Chel found a new hiding place high on the slopes of a rugged mountain about five thousand kilometers from Bendwater.  She landed the shuttle, triggered its active camouflage—and instantly became one more of the hundreds of house-sized boulders cluttering the stark, frigid, windblown landscape.

She knew the Starfleet vessel would return, eventually, and either they'd deal with Marta and her "fleet" or the other way around.  All she had to do was wait.  Her bet was on Starfleet.  In any case, there would be a battle, and that would be her best chance to escape the system undetected.

It happened sooner than expected.

The shuttle's passive sensors weren't all that great, but plasma detonations in near space are difficult to miss.  As soon as the fight began, Chel lifted off and set course for the other side of the planet, zipping through the upper atmosphere at Mach 5.  For the moment, she seemed to have escaped notice.  In any case, no disruptor bolts, phaser blasts, or scanning beams were directed towards the shuttle.  So far, so good.

As soon as the mass of Scatara-IV was between herself and the ships in space, she set course for Federation space and boosted to half-impulse.  Then, as the first passive signatures of the starships appeared over the horizon of the rapidly diminishing planet, she cut the engines and powered down all the shuttle's unshielded systems.

Chel waited, her eyes glued to the tactical display and her hands hovering above the warp controls.  Her luck seemed to be holding.  The shuttle still seemed to have escaped notice.

The computer continued processing and refining sensor data, repainting the tactical display with additional details every few seconds.  Eventually, text began appearing next to the chart symbols, and Chel's eyes popped wide in surprise.  There were four ships near Scatara-IV.  The smallest two were obviously Marta's.  The third, larger than either pirate, was the Federation ship.  The fourth was almost twice the mass of the Feddie, and unless Chel and the shuttle's computer were very much mistaken, it was a Klingon battle cruiser!  As she watched, the Klingon locked a tractor beam on one of the pirate vessels and pulled it close.  A few seconds later, the Starfleet ship did the same to the other pirate.

"Just great," Chel muttered under her breath.

Her shuttle was fast, possibly fast enough to escape the average Starfleet vessel, but she wasn't fast enough to escape a Klingon battle cruiser.  If she had a significant head start and a nearby destination in which to hide, like an asteroid field or a proto-star nebula, things would be different.  As it was, all that lay between the Scatara system and any possible refuge was light-years of empty space.

Camouflaged as a tumbling asteroid, Chel's shuttle drifted through the void.  Slowly, carefully, over the course of several hours and taking advantage of the periodic masking of Scatara-IV and its moons, she used the thrusters to ease onto a course that would, eventually, take her behind one of the system's outer gas giants.  Hidden by its mass, she could engage the warp drive without being seen and make her bid for freedom.

The problem was the "eventually" part.  The shuttle was already moving at a speed typical for an asteroid, but...  Chel tapped the keys, frowned, and repeated the calculation.  "One-point-three standard years," she muttered.  Without engaging her impulse engines, she wouldn't pass behind the gas giant for one-point-three standard years—and she might as well fire off a few flares or trigger the distress beacon as engage the impulse or warp drives without cover.

The shuttle's energy reserves were more than adequate and life support was operating at peak efficiency; however, her food stores were seriously depleted, thanks to the depredations of the Ruby Queen.

There was only one thing Chel could do.

She took her time, rechecking her calculations, running diagnostics of the shuttle's systems, and drafting redundant control programs.  She also programmed an "entertainment program", using the training/conditioning program that usually droned in the ears and before the eyes of any drugged, newly-captured slaves restrained in the shuttle's slave-alcoves.

Finally, there was no further excuse for delay.

Chel stripped off her boots and borrowed bikini, stowed the costume and her weapons and belt, then tapped the control pad and opened the slave-alcove closest to the cockpit.  She stretched her blue, naked body, full-length, then shrugged into a slave-harness of silver-gray plastic, tightening the torso-straps until her flesh bulged between the three-centimeter bands.  Tight was better than loose.  Tight meant less chance of uneven support and the inevitable bruising that would result.  She added wrist, thigh, knee, and ankle restraints, then triggered the computer.  A gag-mask attached to a flexible hose popped from a panel in the top of the alcove.  At the same time, a computerized voice in Chel's native Andorian dialect droned from the cargo bay speakers,
"Five minutes."

Chel hopped into the alcove, turned her back to the wall, and went up on her toes.  She made small, squirming motions until she felt the alcove's clamps grip the back of the torso harness and engage.  Further movement caused the remaining clamps to snick closed.  Then, everything tightened, and Chel found herself pinned against the back wall and strapped in place, from head to toe.

"Four minutes."

The mask lowered and Chel accepted its bulbous plug into her mouth.  The mask sealed to her face with a hiss, then flanges extended and locked against the back wall.  Her eyes were covered by a holographic display panel, and breathing tubes entered her nostrils and expanded to make an airtight seal.  Only her bobbing antenna remained free of the mask.

"Three minutes."

A small panel opened in the back of the alcove, directly behind Chel's butt and crotch.  Probes of various diameters snaked out and found their way into her anus, vagina, and urethra.  They would handle her bodily wastes—and would serve other purposes.

"Two minutes."

The alcove's bulkhead panel slowly rose... and Chel's blue, helpless body slowly disappeared from view.

"One minute."

In total darkness, multiple straps pinning her against the back of the tiny alcove, Chel waited.  Waiting was her only option.  In a few seconds, drugs would flood her system, inducing a state of deep hibernation.  The system would see to her physiological and psychological needs.  Her mind would drift in a suggestive, semiconscious state, her dreams guided by the sensory input of the "entertainment" she had programed.

The cargo bay and the rest of the shuttle went dark and all the control panels winked out, one by one, as the remaining systems powered down.  They would remain inert until one day before the rendezvous with the gas giant, the date specified by Chel for her reawakening.  Only the life-support system of the alcove would remain active.

Chel heard a quiet hiss and became aware of a slightly metallic taste on the back of her tongue.  Her mind began to whirl, and then...

Chel entered her personal code in the cipher-pad beside the door to her quarters.  There was no pressing ship's business, night watch was about to begin, and her First Officer was in the center chair on the bridge.  It was time for the captain to rest.

As the door opened, Chel's Human slave-girl and pet, "Little One", jumped from the bed and rubbed the sleep from her eyes.  "Mistress!" she giggled, rushed to Chel, and pulled her into a tight embrace, pressing the side of her smiling face against Chel's breasts.  The little pink-skin was dressed in her usual costume, a silky loincloth and bandeau in the vibrant blue of pressure-tempered ice, as well as cuff-bracelets, anklets, and a choker collar of polished platinum-silver.  Her brown hair was cropped short, in the manner of a bonded Andorian maiden.

"Easy, Little One," Chel chuckled.

"You've been gone all day, Mistress," the Human accused in a teasing pout, continuing her tight hug.

"But I'm here, now, my pet."

"Yes, Mistress, you are."  The little Human finally released her embrace and began opening the fasteners of Chel's clothing.  She didn't stop until Chel was naked, but for her boots and weapons belt.

Chel smiled as her garments slithered to the deck, lifting her limbs and cooperating in her disrobing.  She let her slave-girl lead her to the bed, then sat, lifted her legs, and pointed her toes.  Expertly removed by her kneeling slave, her boots slithered free and thudded to the deck.  She then undid her belt, wrapped its ends around the holsters, and tossed it on the side-table.

Little One scampered about, gathering Chel's clothing and boots and putting them aside to be laundered and polished.

"Have you eaten, yet, Little One?" Chel asked.

"I'm not hungry, Mistress," the little Human answered.

"Liar," Chel chuckled.  "I've ordered food to be delivered in one hour."

Little One removed her loincloth and bandeau, then folded and put them away.  Smiling, she gracefully padded to the foot of the bed and climbed onto the smooth, crisp sheets.  She straddled Chel's reclined body and hugged her close, again.  "My Mistress," she sighed.

Chel ran her blue fingers through her slave-girl's short, brown hair.  "Do you miss your former life with Starfleet, Little One?"

"No, Mistress."  The grinning Human whispered, and kissed Chel's left nipple.  "I'm happy.  My shipmates are free, and my Mistress is kind."

"I spank your little pink butt 'til it glows red," Chel chuckled.

"Only when I've been bad, Mistress," Little One noted.  "My Mistress is kind."

"Your Mistress is horny," Chel purred.  She leaned forward, grasped Little's One's wrists, pulled them together behind her back, and pressed a pair of tabs on her bracelets.  The cuffs clicked and locked together, binding the naked little Human's wrists.  She then locked the slave-girl's ankle cuffs to the wrist cuffs, leaving her in a stringent hog-tie.  Reclining against the bed's pillows, Chel indicated her crotch with a languid gesture.  "Earn your supper," she ordered.

Smiling her dimpled smile, Little One squirmed and rolled between Chel's long, blue legs, then inched her way towards her Mistress' blue pussy.

Chel smiled and watched her pet's progress.  There was no need to bind the little pink-skin, but she looked so very cute when she was restrained in this manner.

Little One finally reached her goal and gave her Mistress' labia a languid lick, giggling and wrinkling her button nose when it was tickled by Chel's white pubic bush.

Chel smiled.  She loved it when Little One did that—the giggling and the licking.  "Keep it up, Little One," she sighed, "and when you're finished, I will make you even happier."

The shuttle continued to tumble through space, and its occupant continued to dream.
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The machine was complex, and it had a dual function: pleasure and pain.

In essence, it was a massive, horizontal wheel with five spokes.  Shackles attached to heavy chains ran in tracks along four of the spokes, and running along the fifth was a chain terminating in an iron ring.  The machine's victim was spreadeagled on the wheel, and as it slowly turned, the chains tightened, one link for every complete rotation.

And while this happened, a thick, rubbery phallus attached to a steel rod slid in and out of the victim's vagina, slowly gathering speed as the chains grew shorter.  For lubrication, warm oil periodically dripped down onto the victim's crotch; and purely for torment, icy cold water rained down from above.  At first it fell in random drops, but eventually it became to a monsoon-like torrent that pounded the victim's taut skin.

This continued until a preset tension was reached.  Then, the rain stopped, the mechanism paused for a brief period... and then reversed direction, slacking the chains with each successive turn.

A single rotation of the wheel took approximately seven standard minutes.  A complete stretching and slackening cycle took a little more than one standard hour.

Marta had been riding the wheel since dawn.  She had to take her jailers' word for the time of day, as she hadn't seen the sun since she'd been brought here.

Her wrists and ankles were locked in the thick, wide cuffs and her braided hair was bound to the fifth chain's ring.  It was now about an hour past noon.  By now she would have screamed herself hoarse begging for mercy, but for two factors.  First, the large plug of a panel-gag filled her mouth, gripping her lower face and rendering her speechless.  Second, there were none to hear her pleas.  Marta was alone in the tower chamber.  The machine was regulated by a huge, slowly swinging pendulum and powered by massive counterweights.  Once set in motion, it required no sentient control.

The nuns of the Order of Lukara had explained to Marta that the "Wheel of Tears" was once a method of slow execution; but, with the discovery of dermal regeneration, it was now used only for "moral instruction".  The phallus pumping her pussy not only spun, wiggled, and vibrated as it moved, it also emitted a weak regenerative field, repairing any abrasive damage it might cause as quickly as it occurred.

Writhing in a haze of pleasure and pain, ice-water streaming from her smooth, green skin, Marta's ordeal continued.

The chamber was lit by torches, but there was also a single candle, scored with horizontal bands that marked the hours of the day as it burned.   It told Marta that sunset was still hours away.  Sunset... when her Klingon handlers would release her from the machine, use the latest medical technology to repair whatever damage the device had caused to her joints, then drag her back to her dark cell under the foundations of the Windowless Tower.

There she would remain, naked and in chains, for hours or even days.  It was difficult to measure the passage of time under such conditions.  Then, she would be dragged to her next "lesson".

Only days earlier, Marta had been a prisoner of the bitch Larga in the Gian Expanse.  Then, a Klingon scout-frigate with an all-female crew had appeared and transported her to Kronos, to the Windowless Tower of the Order of Lukara.

Marta's prison had another name: the Tower of 500 Torments.  High-ranking warrior-nuns of the Order were said to have undergone every one of the Tower's tortures, all 500, in order to "temper their souls".  Marta, however, had been sentenced to "only" ninety-nine torments.  Her court-appointed Klingon advocate had explained that actual legal proceedings wouldn't even begin until she was released by the Order, and that included extradition hearings to discuss transferring her case to the Federation.

As terrible as they were, the tortures of the Tower were probably better than the alternative, shivering to death laboring in the mines of Rura Pentha, the Klingon prison planet.  Marta might survive a year on the ice planet, possibly two; but Klingon criminal courts usually meted out sentences in multiple decades, not years.

Marta didn't hate her keepers.  One can't hate Klingons for being Klingons.  The Starfleet do-gooders, on the other hand...

Marta hated the Starfleet bitches who had destroyed her fleet and all that she had built—especially the little Orion race-traitor who had posed as a member of one of her crews.  Planning ways to repay the slimy little quastraad filled the long hours of her captivity between ordeals—and those plans included her little pink-skinned friend.  It was obvious that the Orion and Human youngsters were friends, possibly even bond-friends.

All that the Klingon bitches do to me, Marta vowed, I will do to themone at a time, while the other is forced to watchbound, gagged, and helpless.  By Orion's star, I swear!
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Angie leaned close to Lyra and whispered in her ear.  "Just before I left the ship, it came over the comms that ONTARIO has left Starbase Seventeen.  Captain Carter will be here in about five days."

"And after a brief turn-over," Lyra whispered back.  "ARTEMIS will move on to the Trantora system.  If there are any hidden pirate bases in the Expanse, we'll find them."

They were at a party being thrown by the Bendwater clan to honor the "star friends"... yet another party.

It was well after dark, and the stars of the Expanse and the galaxy beyond wheeled overhead.  A bonfire was roaring, sending red sparks into the night sky.  Intermingled groups of Carmow, Starfleet, and Klingon warriors lounged on scattered mats, talking, feasting, and drinking the local beer.  Over smaller fires around the clearing, animal carcasses turned on spits, pots of various stews bubbled, wok-like pans of vegetables and diced tubers sizzled, and cauldrons of Klingon blood-wine simmered.  Also, bottles of wines and liquors from across the Federation as well as trays of cold appetizers rested on table-sized blocks of ice.

Abruptly, some of the Carmow began pounding on kettle-sized drums.  Others produced flutes and horns and began playing a shrill, complex, multi-part melody.

"That's pretty," Angie sighed, sipping a flagon of Carmow beer.

"It is," Lyra agreed.  She downed the last of her beer, then held it out for a refill.

Angie leaned close to Lyra's ear.  "You did take your alcohol-blocker, didn't you?" she whispered.

"Don't worry, Kipper," Lyra chuckled.  "Gwen gave me my pill."

Angie favored her friend with a prim expression.  "Doctor Tabor gave me one, as well."

Just then, Zeeka leaped to her feet and gave a very cat-like yowl.  She then executed a rapid series of handsprings, somersaults, and cartwheels that brought her to the very edge of the central fire.  She paused for a few beats...  and began to dance.  The watching revelers clapped and cheered, and more Carmow joined her, forming a circle.  Their steps and movements were as intricate and coordinated as the melody.  Obviously, the dance was something known to all the Bendwater cat-women.  Tails whipping and furry bodies whirling, the dancers spun around the fire, stamping their feet and flipping and twirling in coordinated displays of athleticism and grace.

A pleasant hum joined the music as all of the Carmow present began to purr.

"Lyra," Angie said, quietly.

"What?" Lyra answered, her eyes on the dancers.

"I-I've been meaning to thank you," Angie continued.

"For what?  That plasma conduit I helped you isolate and repair?"

Angie favored her friend with a mildly exasperated expression.  "For freeing me from the Ruby Queen?"

Lyra blinked and focused on Angie.  "You did thank me."

"Okay, I'm thanking you again."  The light from the fire and flickering torches hid Angie's blush (she hoped).  She knew Lyra knew she was serious.

"No problem," Lyra muttered.

They both sipped their beers.

"Don't expect me to do it again," Lyra added, "when the next Orion pirate queen captures you."

Angie gasped.  Now, nothing could hide her embarrassment.  "I don't expect you to—"  She noted the twinkle in her friend's eyes.  "Wise-ass," she muttered, and gulped her beer.

"There is something you can do for me," Lyra purred, "to show your gratitude."

Angie raised a questioning eyebrow.

"You can help me develop my Kahl'vin skills," Lyra explained.  "Captain T'Pax wants to continue exploring the various techniques.  I've replicated the required instructional materials, but I need a practice dummy to hone my bondage skills."

Angie sighed, and shook her head in disbelief.  "So, after an exhausting day of diligently performing our shipboard duties, you want me to lock the door, strip down, and let you bind me in some contorted position with a dozen or more meters of silk rope, then 'meditate' until you decide you'd like to untie me?"

Lyra smiled.  "We don't have to lock the door."


Lyra was watching the dancers.  "Okay, I think I've got it," she said, then leaped to her feet.

"You are kidding, right?" Angie asked.  "About the Kahl'vin practice?"

Lyra's only answer was one of her typically mischievous smirks, as well as a saucy wink.  She then turned and skipped towards the fire.  The Carmow opened a space for her and she joined the dance, matching the cat-women move for move (except for the tail swishing, of course).

"You better be kidding, Tree Frog," Angie muttered into her beer, then began studying the dance with careful attention.  She didn't want to make a fool of herself when she finally worked up the courage to join the circle.
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And, just so everyone gets a chance to play...
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"Our last day on engineering rotation and we get assigned a service call in the Chief Engineer's quarters, " Angie sighed.

"Yeah," Lyra agreed.  "I suppose a quiet watch would have been too much to ask."

"I think that's the main thing I've learned about being an engineer," Angie chuckled.  "There are no quiet watches.  Something's always broken, somewhere."

"And if it isn't broken," Lyra added, "it needs an upgrade."

"Or phased replacement."

"Or periodic maintenance."

Both Ensigns were wearing rad-suits, skintight catsuits that hugged their bodies like silver latex.  Only their hands and heads were exposed to the ship's warm, humid air.  They carried small toolkits and had additional tools and instruments tucked into small pockets and sheaths on their arms and thighs.  Thankfully, the fabric not only repelled the low levels of the exotic forms of radiation that tended to haunt the area around warp field generation coils and antimatter containment vessels, it also absorbed and then dissipated infrared radiation.  Angie's fears about the suits being physically hot had proved to be ill-founded.  As for Lyra's suggestion that the garments were stylistically hot...  rad-suits left very little to the imagination regarding their wearers' physiques, and the Ensigns collected appreciative (albeit carefully hidden) glances wherever they went on ARTEMIS.

"Something to do with the regeneration chamber?" Angie asked, consulting the PADD in her hand not carrying the toolkit.

"I told you before," Lyra huffed.  "I don't know any more than you do."

"Possible software conflict," Angie read.  "What is a 'possible software conflict'?  Either software works or it doesn't.  Either it's tagged by the background diagnostic routines on the ship's network, or it isn't.  This isn't the 20th Century."

Lyra shrugged.  They'd reached the door to the Chief Engineer's quarters.  The keypad on the bulkhead indicated it was locked, but the privacy light was unlit.

Angie held the PADD to the keypad's sensor panel.  The door recognized the maintenance authorization code and snicked open.

LCDR Hansen's quarters were somewhat spartan,  There was a conversation area consisting of a sofa and two overstuffed chairs that she used mainly for informal meetings.  There was also a desk, with a standard utility chair and a bank of displays.  However, none of the usual artwork, knickknacks, decorative plants, or mementos were in evidence.  Also, in place of a bed, there was a sarcophagus-shaped regeneration chamber.

When first rescued from the Borg Collective by then Captain Janeway of USS VOYAGER, "Seven-of-Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One"—aka "Seven"—aka Anika Hansen, had used what was more-or-less a standard drone regeneration station for her periodic downtime.  Standing upright in an alcove surrounded by Borg technology, her Human body and Borg implants would be refreshed, recharged, and/or repaired.  Eyes closed and semi-conscious, the station would balance and restore her neurochemistry.  Normal sleep was neither required nor possible, thanks to her implants.

However, over the years, as Anika continued to adapt to life beyond the Borg, she had developed a slightly more Human mode of regeneration.  Her current station was a near-equal mix of Starfleet and Borg technology and had a horizontal orientation, mimicking a traditional bed as best it could.  Upon retiring, it was now Anika's custom to disrobe completely, open the sarcophagus, and recline on her back on the softly padded surface of the interior.  The system would activate, the lid would close, and the chamber's systems would interface with her implants, linking to her body at the various locations where the metal was exposed.  After a preprogrammed interval, the system would disengage, the lid would open, and Anika would resume her waking life, invigorated and refreshed.

Unless something went wrong.

The Ensigns walked towards the sarcophagus.

"Let's get this thing fixed," Lyra said, "before the CHENG shows up and wants to use it.  I wonder where she is, by the way.  I haven't seen her this entire watch."

"Good idea," Angie said, then tapped her comm-badge.  "Computer, locate LCDR Hansen."

The disembodied voice of ARTEMIS answered.  "LCDR Hansen is in her quarters."

"Great," Lyra sighed, "now the main computer is glitching.  Obviously, the CHENG isn't—"

Angie and Lyra locked eyes... then rushed the remaining distance to the sarcophagus.

The vaguely human-shaped lid was molded from a single sheet of semi-opaque plastic.  The control pad at the head confirmed that the station was occupied.

Lyra hit the "Open" key.  There was a "Bleep" and the key flashed, but nothing else happened.

Angie pulled a probe from a forearm sheath, popped the key's cover, then manually tripped the actuator circuit.  The lid opened with a hydraulic hiss—and the Ensigns gasped!

Anika was on her back on the padded bed of the chamber.  Her wrists and ankles were restrained in padded stocks, and broad straps of tightly braided plastic restrained her naked body above and below her breasts and across her waist and thighs.  A mask-like panel of plastic was clamped over her lower face, pinning her head down.  In addition, a triangular flange was clamped over her crotch.

The Ensigns stared, frozen in fascinated horror.  "Wow!" they whispered, in unison.

Their department head (until tomorrow morning, when they were scheduled to report to the Science office) was completely naked, and helpless.  Her body was flushed and beaded with sweat and her blond hair damp and plastered to her head.  She writhed and fought her bonds, her muscles flexing and gliding under her fair, glistening skin.  Her wide, pale blue eyes darted from face to face.


The gagged moan broke the Ensigns' trance.

Lyra tapped the remaining keys, sending commands to the unit that should have deactivated the system.  Instead, the panel over Anika's crotch began to hum and small panels opened below her bare feet and on either side of her breasts.  What could only be called tentacles of wiggling plastic emerged and began tickling the soles of her feet and her pointing nipples.  The helpless blonde writhed and fought her bonds.

"I didn't do that!" Lyra gasped.  "I swear, I didn't do that!"  She looked for Angie, but her friend had vanished.  "Angie?"

Angie stood upright.  "What?"  A disconnected power regulation module was in her right hand.

The tentacles went limp and withdrew into their panels.  Simultaneously, the crotch shield stopped humming.

"Really," Lyra said, looking from Anika to Angie, "I didn't do that... stuff.  I told it to power down and—"

"Nobody said you did anything," Angie interrupted.

"Well, I didn't," Lyra said.  "I want it perfectly clear that—"

Anika's eyes focused on Lyra.  "M'RRRF!"

"We better do this the old-fashioned way," Angie sighed  She pulled a vibratory cutting wand from her thigh pocket, clicked it on, and its tip began to glow.  Frowning in concentration, she traced the side of the gag-panel where it met the the base unit.  Finally, there was a click and the entire panel popped free.  She slowly, carefully pulled its large, well-padded plug from Anika's mouth.  "What happened, commander?"

"Give her a second," Lyra said.  She'd gone to the replicator unit and was returning with a glass of water.  Lifting the back of Anika's head, she helped her take a sip.

Meanwhile, Angie was working on the crotch panel.

"Thank you, Ensign," Anika sighed.  "Please be very careful with that assembly, Ensign Goodnight," she said.  "It is more extensive than might be immediately apparent."

"What do you mean, ma'am?"  Angie had succeeded in releasing the margins of the panel and was carefully lifting one edge.

"Ah!" Anika gasped.
"Sorry," Angie sighed.

"Uh, I suspect it might be inside her," Lyra muttered.

"What?" Angie asked, blinking in surprise.  The truth dawned and her cheeks flushed a rosy shade of pink.  "Oh!"

"Here," Lyra said.  "Let me help."

Together, the Ensigns slowly, carefully eased the panel free.  Its interior was shaped to fit Anika's crotch in full anatomical detail, and it incorporated a long, phallic shaft that was, indeed, inside her.

The shaft slid free and Anika sighed in relief.  "To answer your inquiry, Ensign Goodnight...  I retired for my nightly regeneration, and as soon as the system activated, the emergency crash restraints deployed.  The system was unresponsive to all orders to disengage, and it began to, uh, vibrate; and the ends of the auxiliary interface probes began caressing my body.  The chamber has vibrated my crotch region and probed various other areas all night."

"All night?" the Ensigns asked in unison.

"All night," Anika confirmed.  "Off and on, for various periods of time and with no discernible pattern."

Angie and Lyra stared at each other in horror... and confusion.

"I believe I have been the victim of a practical joke," Anika continued.

"What?  I mean who?" Lyra demanded.

"Never mind, Ensign," Anika answered.  "Now, please release the remaining crash restraints."

"What?  I mean, yes, ma'am," Angie responded, and both Ensigns attacked the straps and clamps still binding their department head's naked, sweat-slick body.

"Should we call Security?" Lyra asked.

"No," Anika answered.  "I will handle this matter myself.  You two are to remain silent."

"Yes, ma'am," the Ensigns answered.
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B'Elanna entered Holodeck Two and disrobed.  She stored her uniform and boots in a wall locker, then stepped to the center of the space and stretched.  "Computer," she said, addressing the holodeck system, "exercise clothing and practice staff."

The area in front of her shimmered... and a stack of folded material appeared, along with a hardwood staff about two meters in length and three centimeters in diameter.

B'Elanna donned her costume. 

First came a skirt, consisting of five separate panels sewn to a waistband incorporating a belt of dark-brown suede.  There was also a sixth panel that acted as a loincloth.  She pulled it between her legs from the back, carefully arranged a comfortable fit, then pulled it through the belt and let it drape down the front.  Its lower hem matched the other panels, completing the skirt.  If B'Elanna stood perfectly still, the garment covered her from waist to mid-calves.  But, when she moved, the panels parted, giving her complete freedom of motion.

Next came the top.  It was little more than a sports bra, two cups of soft fabric with back and shoulder straps of cord-thin chamois.  It could be tricky to properly position and intertwine the laces for a correct fit without help, but B'Elanna accomplished the task with practiced dexterity, adjusting her breasts in the cups and tying the final knot.

Finally, a pair of leather bracers were laced around her wrists and forearms.

Costuming complete, B'Elanna picked up the practice staff and gave it a flip.  The dark wood was weighted at either end and was reinforced by a helix of heavy wire running in grooves carved along its entire length.  She continued flipping and weaving the staff, letting her muscles loosen up and become re-accustomed to the feel of the weapon.  She began incorporating kicks, spins, and lunges into her warm-up routine.  Finally, her pulse and breathing rates reached the appropriate level.  She was ready.

"Computer, exercise program three, level three, random opponent."

B'Elanna's surroundings shimmered... and were replaced by a barren landscape of rocks, brush, and stunted trees.  The ground under her feet was dry and more-or-less even, a mix of sand and tiny pebbles.  She'd have to watch her footing, but it shouldn't be too much of a problem.  The sky was overcast, providing an even light.  A breeze stirred the upper branches of the trees and lifted strands of her long, dark, free-flowing hair.

Staff at the ready, body poised in "First Combat Position", B'Elanna waited, ready to parry any attack, then to strike in return.  She had meters of clearance in every direction, but there was plenty of cover to conceal her opponent: a tangle of fallen logs, several clusters of boulders of various sizes, as well as the thick, gnarled trunks of the surrounding trees.

I wonder what it'll be this time? B'Elanna thought.  The computer could be quite creative in creating worthy adversaries, drawing attributes from the ever-growing array of sentient species and dangerous predators cataloged in the Federation database.  "Level three" usually meant an opponent with a total mass not to exceed twice her own; but there was a small chance of a wild-card session with up to five attackers, to keep her even more on her toes.

The wait continued... and B'Elanna continued her relaxed vigilance.  She didn't allow herself to become complacent.  She might need every millisecond of response time to save herself.

Finally, something stirred.  A lone figure stepped out from behind a tree. 

B'Elanna blinked in surprise.  He, she, or it was only about twenty-five centimeters in height.  It had a muscular build and rough, leathery, dark gray skin.  To describe its features as unattractive would be kind.  It was clothed in a loincloth of loosely-woven fabric, a dagger of some sort was tucked in a sheath on the narrow leather belt encircling its waist, and twin coils of thin rope were slung across its shoulders and chest, bandoleer fashion.

"Oh, please," B'Elanna sighed, shaking her head.  Unless this little troglodyte was the local equivalent of Superman, this was not going to be much of a fight.  "Computer, reset program."

Nothing happened.

"Computer," B'Elanna repeated, "reset program!"

The troglodyte midget smiled, revealing a mouth full of yellow, peg-like teeth.  It then reached behind its back and produced an animal horn.  It held it to its mouth, pursed its lips, and blew.

"Bl'oooot!  Loot-loot-looooot!"

B'Elanna shook her head.  "That can hardly be called music," she chuckled, leaning on her staff.  This was one for the record books.  All the randomized parameters must have settled on their lowest possible settings, which was astronomically unlikely, and that must have caused the session's control routine to freeze.  "Computer, arch."


"Computer, control arch!" B'Elanna shouted.

Still nothing.

"Dammit!" B'Elanna cursed, I don't need this—Hey!"  A lasso had flown from somewhere to her left, tightened around the end of her staff, and snapped taut!  She executed a standard lunge recovery, but the rope twanged and held.  Another lasso flew, this time from the right.  It settled over her head and tightened around her right shoulder and torso, pinning her left arm to her side!

More lassos flew, and now B'Elanna could see that the landscape was alive with the little gray troglodytes, all twirling ropes or tying their ends to trees and boulders!  It was ludicrous!  She should be able to extricate herself from any of the tightening nooses.  The problem was, she couldn't escape from all of them, and they kept coming!.  One stretched taut and pulled her one way, while a dozen more were looped around her arms, ankles, wrists, or throat and pulling her in every other direction.  And all the ropes were tied to trees and boulders or were held by gangs of the little gray trogs—and more lassos kept arriving!

Finally, B'Elanna's rope-encumbered struggles caused her to overbalance... and she fell.  She landed on the ground with an "Ooof!" and the swarm attacked.  The trogs climbed and crawled over her body, pulling more loops of rope around her limbs, cinching them tight, and tying knots.

B'Elanna struggled, writhed, and made several clever, albeit very rude anatomically questionable suggestions and alleged that her diminutive captors were of questionable ancestry—in Federation Standard, Klingon, Cardassian, and B'joran.  This stopped— "M'RRRF!" —when a large wad of cloth was stuffed in her mouth and a narrow cleave-gag of the same material was tied to keep it in place.

Gagged and bound with rope from her throat to her ankles, B'Elanna was hoisted onto the shoulders of about two dozen trogs or goblins or whatever they called themselves, and was carried away.  The apparent leader, the trog with the horn, climbed up and settled its minuscule weight atop her rope-framed breasts, which B'Elanna found very humiliating.


She was carried over a hill and down the far slope.  The squirming captive couldn't see much of what lay ahead, but she noticed that the land was changing, growing greener and more lush.  The trees were becoming a real forest, and their leafy canopies closed overhead, blocking the gray sky.  The strange caravan began passing clumps of ferns and wildflowers.  Finally, B'Elanna was carried across a bubbling stream—her porters scrambling from rock to rock and managing to keep her dry—and was deposited on a grassy sward.

She lifted her gagged head and beheld two curious sights.

The first was a normal-sized chair, meaning a B'Elanna-sized chair.  It was lashed together from rough-hewn branches, but was well-padded with cloth cushions and looked quite comfortable.

The second was...  B'Elanna wasn't sure what it was.  Perhaps it was best described as some sort of framework.  It was low to the ground and "T" shaped, or rather, it was a "T" attached to an upside down "Y".  It was comprised of pairs of wooden stakes driven into the turf with a lattice of leather thongs running between.

Meanwhile, the trogs were sorting piles of more leather thongs, pointing at B'Elanna, and holding a discussion in a high-pitched, burbling language.  B'Elanna continued struggling and fighting her bonds.

Plans made, the trogs lifted B'Elanna onto the frame and began lashing her in place.  First, they simply tied her down, so she couldn't mount a credible resistance.  Next, they began untying her rope bonds and replacing them with neatly hitched leather thongs.  They worked in concert, loosening and tightening individual ropes so they could reposition her limbs.  B'Elanna struggled, but couldn't prevent being lashed down with her outstretched arms to either side and her legs splayed about a half-meter apart.

In unison, the trogs drew their knives— "Mwrrfh?" —and began slicing off her clothing!  "N'RRRF!"  This didn't take more than a few seconds.  Then, more leather thongs tightened around her body.

B'Elanna could barely move.  She could lift and turn her gagged head, point her feet, and wiggle her fingers and toes, but that was about it.

The trogs gathered into groups and sat on the grass.  Others departed, briefly, then returned, lugging ceramic jars of various sizes, all covered with stretched cloth lids.  Six of the little gray monsters carried over small jars, removed their lids and reached inside.  Their stubby-fingered hands emerged covered in a thick, lard-like paste—which they proceeded to rub onto B'Elanna's skin!


This continued until B'Elanna was coated from her wiggling toes to her thrashing head.  They even held her hair and rubbed the oily stuff on her face, ears, and neck.


They continued rubbing, acting in shifts and massaging what was becoming a warm oil into her skin.  They worked over her entire body, repeatedly.

B'Elanna simmered in impotent fury.  She had to admit her bonds were more-or-less comfortable, and under other circumstances, this extended "massage" might even have been pleasant—but this was no way to treat a warrior!  B'Elanna was only half-Klingon, and had long since come to terms with her non-Human heritage, but—this was no way to treat a warrior!

"Enjoying yourself, B'Elanna?" a familiar Human voice inquired.

B'Elanna lifted her head and her eyes popped wide in surprise.  "Mrrfh?"

"I'll take that as a yes," Anika Hansen purred.  She was dressed in a loincloth and bandeau of the same material worn by the trogs, and nothing else.  Her long, blond hair was free of its customary bun.  The bulk of it flowed down her back, but a pair of narrow braids framed her smiling face.  "Do you like?" she asked, striking a pose.  "I'm the adopted queen of your little friends."  She settled into the chair and crossed her legs.  "A variation on the classic Sheena-Queen-of-the-Jungle or Tonga-of-the-Wilderness holo-characters."

A trog carried a moisture-beaded jar to Anika and handed it up to her.

Anika took a sip, smiled down at the little gray creature, and scratched the top of its head with her free hand.  The trog shivered in delight.  "My subjects love their queen," she chuckled.


"Oh, very well," Anika sighed, "I'll explain."  She paused for another sip, then smiled at B'Elanna's naked, helpless form.  "You tried to cover your tracks, but I know it was you that reprogrammed my regeneration chamber.  I detected Borg/Starfleet interface routines from our days on VOYAGER.  Also, several code sequences referenced a matrix assemblage labeled 'Seven'.  Don't even try and deny it."

B'Elanna sighed and relaxed in her bonds.  Busted, she thought.

"By the way," Anika continued.  "You didn't do a very good job.  From my reconstruction of your coding efforts, I can tell you intended my 'adventure' to last for one hour and to coincide with my REM-cycle simulation.  You intent was that I should experience a very erotic and confusing 'wet dream'."  She sipped her drink, again.  "However, your disengagement routine triggered a system-wide lock.  Instead of one hour, I was 'entertained' all night."


"I accept your apology," Anika purred, "but I must retaliate, if only for politeness' sake.  In light of your original intentions, your punishment will be for one hour, although I think I'd be more than justified if I made it significantly longer."  She focused on the trogs.  "Please, continue."

A dozen trogs lifted large jars, carried them towards B'Elanna and the frame, and positioned themselves at her feet, between her thighs, and to either side of her torso.  B'Elanna watched as they removed the jars' cloth covers, reach inside with both hands, and pulled out—


"That's right," Seven smiled, "tribbles!"

Tribbles are a lifeform indigenous to Iota Geminorum-IV.  They resemble nothing as much as fist-sized balls of fur, in various colors, and most sentient species find them very cute and their distinctive purring quite soothing.  But for an incredible reproductive rate that could rapidly increase their numbers to plague proportions, they would be popular household pets throughout the Federation.  As it was, trade in live tribbles is banned.  Holodeck generated tribbles, on the other hand, are perfectly legal.

One minor detail:  Klingons, almost alone among the sentient races of the quadrant, detest tribbles.  They find their purring and especially their trilling alarm call to be a skin-crawling ordeal, like the proverbial fingernails scratching a chalkboard.  Apparently, the feeling is mutual, as the little fuzzballs react to Klingon body odor with violent thrashing and frantic attempts to escape.

B'Elanna was only half-Klingon, so she only found the tribbles' droning to be somewhat unpleasant, rather than unendurable.  Also, either these particular holo-tribbles had been programmed to ignore B'Elanna's odor, or her Human scent predominated.

"Begin with the feet," Anika ordered, "then, move on to her armpits and ribs.  Next, her breasts.  And finally... between her legs."


The trogs were rubbing tribbles against the soles of B'Elanna's feet, and the furry little monsters were purring, quivering, and licking her wrinkled soles and wiggling toes with their tiny, wet, rasping tongues!  Whatever the trogs had rubbed on B'Elanna's skin, the tribbles were treating it like candy.


Anika sipped her drink, smiled, and watched.  This was certain to greatly enhance her social standing and reputation among her fellow department heads.

B'Elanna's toned, athletic, glistening body writhed and struggled, and she continued mewling through her gag.  It was going to be a very long hour.

Chapter 11
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