Of all the strange ways found by the formerly super-wealthy to use what remained of their boundless fortunes in the years immediately following the first collapse of the world economy in 2243, that chosen by Lord Andrew March might have been the very strangest. With all his assets—including above all the three now-worthless castles he had sold off in 2239—converted into immediately usable resources and safely stowed in the hold of his cruise-ship-sized yacht, he traveled the world as a merchant in the necessary and the pleasurable.
The necessary: most important, parts to keep generators and the odd hydroelectric plant going alongside electronics to extend the doomed technologically driven life of the information age. No more national power grids. No more factories.
Only, somewhere so well hidden that even Lord Andrew didn’t know the location, there was a secret project to preserve civilization by an unknown means. One of Lord Andrew’s friends, Henry Lourcy, as a final favor before departing—it appeared—into thin air, had imparted the precious knowledge of the project’s existence. He had told Lord Andrew that in 2238, while also telling him that the final collapse was coming, because Henry would play a crucial role in precipitating it. Lord Andrew had used the knowledge to corner the market in electrical and electronic parts while building his yacht, the Aphrodite.
The pleasurable: the collapse having ripped the veneer from the sexual practices of the formerly super-wealthy, Lord Andrew had in 2245 taken to the seas aboard the fully solar-powered Aphrodite to consult, all over the world, on the most pleasurable ways for dominant men and women to enjoy the submissive charms of the girls they possessed. Really, he often thought, he might be called a post-apocalyptic event planner, with a single specialty—all his events involved dominants whipping, fucking, and otherwise mastering submissives in the most spectacular possible ways.
In addition to his holds full of batteries, solar panels, generator parts, and computer equipment, then, he had aboard the Aphrodite staterooms full of people he called the ship’s company. These people fell into two groups: fit, handsome men who liked to fuck girls in a masterful style and girls for them—and for Lord Andrew himself—to fuck. Or, to put it another way, the guests aboard Lord Andrew’s yacht comprised his harem and his harem guards—some of both groups also highly skilled engineers and technicians who knew how to fix the generators and electronics both aboard the Aphrodite and at her various ports of call.
Thus Lord Andrew had developed a reputation, and the robust trade to go with it, as a purveyor of goods for those who had managed to cling to their material possessions even after their paper wealth had vanished the instant every currency in the world became meaningless. In return for his services as consultant and his ship’s company’s technical and pleasurable services as repair people and submissive sexual partners, he received the cream of the young people of every land, for training as members of the Aphrodite’s ship’s company: both guards and girls.
Five years into the new era, the era of the collapse, Lord Andrew—now thirty-seven years of age—had in his ship’s company forty-three girls and twenty guards. He had begun with two guards and eight girls. Both those guards now worked as heads of security and technology in two of the little commonwealths that had arisen on the Eastern seaboard of what had been the United States. One of the original girls, Freda, now served as a guard—Andrew’s head of security, in fact—while the other seven girls had gone into service in the harems of various governors of the same set of commonwealths.
All of those little states, the largest of which was Manhattan, had received at the hands of their governors, acting in unison in the months after the collapse, the designation ‘commonwealth.’ Their true political structure, of course, differed vastly from what anything called commonwealth had ever known prior to the collapse. Dictatorship would probably be the best word for it, in the parlance of old-fashioned politics. Sultanate might not be far off.
Lord Andrew liked trading in the seven little American commonwealths because their governors behaved predictably: they maintained an appearance of democracy for those who lived outside the grounds of their mansions, the better to enjoy themselves within their walls. Now that Lord Andrew had at least one former member of the Aphrodite’s company in each commonwealth, the trading was exceptionally easy and exceptionally favorable as well. He could get new girls and guards whenever he wanted them, and his experienced scavenging teams never met with any resistance to their free movement across the increasingly wild borders.
The invitation from the prince of the Florida Keys, then, gave Lord Andrew pause.
“Freda,” he said at dinner one night in June, as the Aphrodite made her stately passage from Portsmouth to Manhattan. “I got a satellite call from the Caribbean today.”
Twenty-five-year-old Freda, standing with her back to the bulkhead of the little dining deck just aft of Lord Andrew’s stateroom, said, “We haven’t been to the Caribbean in five years, have we?” Her dirty blond hair was pulled into a tight ponytail. Her khaki shorts and her tank top, along with the sidearm in a shoulder holster and the leather paddle at her right hip, made her look like a cross between a cruise director and a commando—which, really, represented a fair assessment of her duties on the Aphrodite.
Lord Andrew turned to the eighteen-year-old girl who sat across the table from him—lovely little Cara, red-haired and blue-eyed, just acquired from the governor of Portsmouth. She looked back at him with frightened eyes.
“What about you, my dear?” he asked. “Have you ever been to the Caribbean?”
“Is that a place?” Cara asked uncertainly.
Lord Andrew smiled. He turned again to Freda, who seemed to be trying to suppress her own smile. “Isn’t it amazing?” he asked her. Then, to Cara, “Did you go to school after the collapse?”
Cara looked back at him as if he had lost his mind. “The school closed,” she said. “It wasn’t safe.”
“And did your parents try to keep teaching you?”
“Well,” Cara said, “there was a nice man who taught everyone in our neighborhood—the parents, too—how to fight, and clean a gun, and things. He was in the army before there wasn’t one anymore. And I guess I read the books we had around the house, but when the computers wouldn’t work anymore I couldn’t read anything about the stuff we used to learn about in school—like geography and science and things.”
Lord Andrew nodded. He liked Cara very much, he found. He needed to discuss the invitation from the Florida Keys with Freda, but he couldn’t resist the chance to make his new girl blush. “And sex?” he asked. “Did anyone teach you about what a man like me does with a girl like you, when he brings her to his bed?”
Cara’s blush was deep and gratifying. She had been looking eagerly into his eyes a moment before, perhaps just a little drunk on her first champagne, but now she looked down at the half-eaten lobster Thermidor on her plate, biting her lip.
“Yes, my lord,” she whispered. “Or… I mean… not taught. It’s just… other girls said things, in the governor’s house.”
“What sort of things, Cara?” Andrew said gently. He would of course become demanding before the evening wore on much longer, but he liked to spend some time getting new girls used to the idea that they would be fucking pieces for the next few years, while also learning the skills that would see them through a hopefully long life after their physical attractions for powerful men had faded and their value as technicians had grown.
Her pretty blue eyes darted up to his for a moment, and then down again. “I don’t know… like about what men have… you know, between their legs.” She looked at Freda, and then at Andrew again. “Do I have to talk about it?”
“Yes, you do, Cara,” Freda said a little sternly. “His lordship likes to talk about it, and you belong to his lordship now. His lordship is going to fuck you in a little while, and he’s trying to help you get used to the idea. He doesn’t want to have to punish you, when the time comes, but he will if he needs to. He’ll punish you now, over his knee, if you won’t answer his questions like a good girl.”
Cara’s expression had grown fearful; she stared wide-eyed at Freda, casting quick glances back at Andrew as if to see whether he would confirm what the older girl said about his proclivities.
“I’m afraid it’s true, Cara,” he said. “I like to spank girls on their bare bottoms, and I’d be happy to spank yours, to teach you to mind me and to answer my questions respectfully. Surely you knew why the governor gave you to me, and why you’re dressed in that pretty pink frock, with the lacy panties underneath—and why your pretty red hair down there was taken away today.”
Cara chewed on the inside of her cheek, her color growing even pinker in the fading sunset over the submerged city of Boston, to the west.
“Yes,” she whispered finally. “Please… please, my lord… If I’m good, will you be gentle? The girls who had to go to the governor’s bedroom… they said it hurts, at first.” She looked pleadingly into Andrew’s eyes.
“It doesn’t hurt as much as the cane will hurt, if you won’t please his lordship,” Freda said, “and take his manhood gratefully whenever and however he wants to give it to you.”
“Hush, Freda,” said Andrew, smiling. It was a game he and Freda had played many times before. “Cara here is trying to learn how to behave herself, and you’re frightening her most awfully. Cara, my dear, I’m afraid it does hurt, the first time a man fucks your little cunny, but I promise that I’ll make sure it doesn’t hurt for very long, if you’re a good girl for me. You’ll have to learn to please my cock, though. Have you heard that word before?”
Cara nodded silently, clearly unsure whether to feel reassured by Andrew’s gentle words.
“What does it mean?”
“It’s the… the thing between a man’s legs, isn’t it?” Her blush, which had begun to fade, returned in full force.
“Do you know what happens to a man’s cock, when he thinks about putting it in a pretty cunny like yours, or in your mouth—or even in your bottom hole?” Andrew loved asking such questions in a gentle, even an innocent, tone.
“It g-gets… hard?”
Andrew nodded. “Hard and long. Ready to fuck.”
Cara started at the word, and looked down.
Andrew continued, enchanted. “Did you have friends who went to the governor’s bed for fucking?”
She nodded, still looking at her plate.
“Did any of them get whipped or paddled?” The governor of Portsmouth had a robust reputation as a disciplinarian.
Cara nodded again.
“Tell me,” Andrew said. “Tell me one of the stories you heard.”
Cara looked up, the pleading clear in her eyes once more. Her gaze darted to Freda, who Andrew knew without even looking wore upon her beautiful face a fixed, authoritative expression. Cara swallowed hard.
“My friend Emily… she’s from my neighborhood, and we got sent to the governor’s house together, to be servants. We didn’t know that the governor… well, no one knows what the governor’s house is really like, and they tell you that if you tell anyone, they’ll…” Cara’s face grew visibly troubled at the frightening memory.
“They’ll kill you?” Andrew asked softly.
Cara nodded, swallowing hard.
“Don’t worry, my dear,” he said, this time truly meaning the gentleness in his voice. “Aboard the Aphrodite, if a girl can’t get used to her life with me we find her somewhere else—somewhere safe—to go.”
Cara’s brow creased in apparent puzzlement. She looked at Freda, as if to confirm that the strange thing she had just heard was true, and Freda nodded. A wild hope appeared on the younger girl’s face.
“Of course,” Andrew said, “that only happens after a girl has been thoroughly disciplined for her negative behavior.”
The look of hope in Cara’s eyes faded a little. “I don’t understand,” she whispered.
“You will,” Freda said, in a voice of grim satisfaction. “For now, you just need to make up your mind to be a good girl for his lordship tonight. It won’t be long until you figure out that it’s much better to enjoy your life here than it is to get caned every day until you’re ready to give his lordship the pleasure he’s entitled to.”