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Her Shameful Service by Emily Tilton – Sample

Chapter One


The Vionians liked girls from my planet. Specifically, they liked to requisition us from our villages, prepare us for sexual service, and transport us to the concubine auctions on Vion Prime. There they liked to sell us at a fabulous price to the ruling class of the empire. That’s what the merchants liked about us, anyway.

What the ruling class liked about us was that Kamnian girls—girls like me—could, once purchased and conveyed home to their palaces, be subjected without legal consequence to whatever form of erotic depravity and brutal discipline they chose. At the time of the Magisterian Civil War, as my master taught me to call the conflict that I later learned the Magisterian Federation called the Vionian Revolt, several hundred Kamnian concubines served the Vionian nobility.

That changed, of course, in highly dramatic fashion, when the empire fell as a result of supporting the Federation rebels.

I had no idea, though, when the village chief’s men took me from my family home and brought me to the village house, that my fate would take me anywhere but Vion Prime. The imperials who ensured that Kamnos remained almost entirely primitive compensated—as they maintained, at any rate—for that oppression by providing all Kamnian children with a basic education until age nineteen. I had turned nineteen the previous day.

Even at my school-emancipation party, where I’d received the Certificate of Learning that meant I could, if I chose, seek employment offworld, I’d heard other girls whispering that I’d be requisitioned. They’d used that word, the Vionian merchants: requisitioned.

The Tri-System Mercantile Company, under imperial writ given governing authority over Kamnos’ star system, maintained my planet as a highly efficient farm for the production of owned concubines, after all. The Vionians liked Kamnian girls so much that Tri-System could afford to spend their resources generously on keeping my world in exactly the fashion they had found most conducive to raising nineteen-year-old girls whom they could simply take—requisition—from their villages for a nominal sum, with the purpose of auctioning them at a fabulous profit.

The moment the chief’s men informed me of my requisitioning, I became—the textbooks supplied by Tri-System laid it out very clearly—property. Not just property: I was a luxury good, which meant according to imperial law, that I had a highly protected status. To attempt to steal me from the company represented a capital offense. The Vionian ruling class took their pleasures, and their plans to continue enjoying them until the heat death of the universe, very, very seriously.

“Wait,” I said, to Elder Harta. “Can’t…”

The kindly middle-aged man, father of my friend Lopanda, shook his head, a look of compassion on his lightly-lined face. I could see that color had come into his cheeks, staining them a slightly pinkish hue. Elder Jusalon shifted uncomfortably on his feet, his eyes refusing to meet mine.

I could feel a much deeper blush suffusing my own cheeks: I knew my face must be almost scarlet, a color that showed up very vividly on my face, thanks to the sky-blue tint of my hair. I remembered my teacher in Vionian Culture class telling us, almost casually, that the Vionians prized complexions like mine because they showed our blushes better.

Second daughter, with looks admired by everyone in my village, I had known that the girls at my school-emancipation party had only spoken the truth: I had come into the world with requisition almost stamped upon my forehead. Tri-System didn’t take eldest children; they could afford to wait, because they had outlawed contraception on Kamnos, just as they had introduced the modification to our DNA that over ten generations had turned our hair a sort of blue they said a dye could never rival.

It made Kamnian concubines exotic. It also made it nearly impossible for us to escape.

I hung my head, looking at the red, iron-rich Kamnian dirt beneath my bare feet. I cursed inwardly, wondering what had possessed me to come outside to weed the front garden. A desperate thought rose in my mind of turning and trying to run into the house, begging my mother to call my father in from the fields to protect me from the elders.

Insanity. The Tri-System Mercantile Company didn’t like to show its capacity for violence and destruction very often, but no village elder, let alone a village chief, would want to give them the chance—not for the sake of a young woman who should have expected to be requisitioned anyway. My parents loved me, but they had known it too: in fact, they had favored me over my older sister Mathaea in many ways, and she had borne it—with the unspoken truth hanging over me from the moment I first learned of what it meant to be born a Kamnian, that when I came of age the company would take me from my homeworld and sell me on Vion Prime. If I made a scene, it would simply tear my parents’ hearts out. It wouldn’t save me: it would only get my village and my family in trouble.

But… I thought. But…

Despite everything—despite the history of my world and the excellent company-sponsored education, despite my parents’ quiet acknowledgment of my fate, despite the whispers of the other girls—I had possessed a shred of consolation for the past four moons, as the rumors of current events in the heart of the empire had reached Kamnos.

I chewed on my lower lip, considering, wondering whether it would do the slightest bit of good to tell Elder Harta and Elder Jusalon why I had hoped I might avoid requisition.

Elder Jusalon apparently knew what I was thinking, though. He said, in a weary voice, “The war hasn’t changed anything, Chalondra, I’m afraid. In fact, it’s made the company more demanding. The navy needs Kamnian girls for the officers in the front-line systems. This requisition involves thirty-six young women from Kamnos, one from each village.”

My eyes went round, and I looked up into his face to see that the elder’s expression had turned grim.

He shook his head, clearly reading my mind again. “As you can imagine, I don’t have any way of knowing where they’ll take you. I would guess the company agent doesn’t know himself.”

I swallowed hard. The Imperial Navy? To my dismay, a perverse thrill of excitement surged in my chest. Our early school lessons had involved a healthy dose of adventure-tales, many of them centered on the dashing exploits of admirals, captains, commodores, and even common enlisted star-sailors, who of course earned promotion at least to lieutenant by the end of the story. On Kamnos, the thick clouds of the atmosphere meant that we never saw the stars at all: for as long as I could remember, I had longed not just to see them but to go out into them, travel there like the heroes and heroines of the stories.

“May I…?” I started to ask, as I felt the color come and go in my cheeks.

“Yes, of course,” said Elder Harta. “Go in and say goodbye to your sisters and your mother. Don’t be long, please.”

I felt my forehead crease hard. Tears welled up in my eyes and I blinked, looking down again at the soil, at my bare feet. The idea that I should feel outrage over the injustice of it occurred to me, as a sort of exercise in metaphysics, rather than anything I truly felt on the inside. Here, I suddenly realized, lay part of the genius of the Tri-System way of doing business.

All Kamnian adolescents had to take a course called “Galactic Ethics” in their final year of school. In that course, our teacher Mrs. Grelinqua—a Kamnian woman who had passed the legendarily difficult engineering qualifying exam and traveled within the empire—had repeatedly raised the question of whether the company treated Kamnos fairly. We had spent weeks debating the issue on a theoretical level, surrounded by all the benefits the company bestowed on our world. Our teacher had ended the course with what amounted to a shrug, though: why did it matter, she had asked us, if it was fair, when it was simply the way the company chose to operate?

I turned and walked into the house, remembering as I did so that my father had held me especially close that morning before he went out to work. I felt my cheeks warm once again as I realized what it must have meant: the elders had told him what would befall me today. He had been saying goodbye.

Part of me wanted to fling that in the face of my mother, but when I saw that face, and realized that she, too, knew exactly why I had come back in from the garden, all I could do was let myself be swallowed up in her arms one final time, while my sisters joined in for a tearful group hug.

“Don’t let them take your spirit,” my mother whispered into my ear. “Whatever they do.”

As I detached myself from my family’s arms and turned to walk out of my home, I thought about those old school reports that had never failed to call me high-spirited, with the clear intention of delivering a warning, not to let my high spirits turn into misbehavior. My parents’ tendency to spoil me slightly had probably contributed to my low-level naughtiness, growing up, but my mother had always accompanied her mild punishments with words like, “Your free spirit is a wonderful thing, Chalondra, but you must not let it get out of hand.”

I followed the elders in silence the short distance to the village house, still thinking about it. If I truly had a free spirit, shouldn’t I be trying to run off into the woods, doing something drastic—trying to start a rebellion on Kamnos that might find some way to communicate with the Magisterians and help their effort against the empire?

Insanity, I thought, again. Lunacy and spirit are not the same thing. Doing something foolish can’t be the only way to keep some shred of freedom in the face of a system designed to turn a young woman into property.

The moment I saw the company agent, though, that rational conclusion started to waver. The center of my village, Village 17, was relatively busy at this hour. The artisans who produced genuine Kamnian products like the highly-prized aged cheese from Kamnian sheep’s milk and the even more highly prized decorative lumber that they told us no Vionian palace could do without, were taking their mid-day meal in the plaza. School-children had just emerged from the educational facility to return home for their own lunch. I could still pick out the agent, though, standing in front of the village house, as much from the mere body language of his stance as from his red uniform and his pale skin.

I wore the simple shift dress that represented traditional Kamnian women’s clothing. Kamnian men wore a tunic and loose trousers. The agent’s company uniform fit him like a glove, and he wore it in a way that suggested he could adopt a ramrod military posture if he chose, but he definitely did not so choose here on a world owned by his mighty corporation. I watched him lift his eyes in recognition as the elders led me closer, and then stroke his chin, looking me up and down with a frankly evaluating gaze that made my face go hot.

My skin was close to ivory, and my hair, according to my mother, was the perfect shade of blue. In the loose ponytail all Kamnian girls wore for school and daily chores, it flowed down to my shoulders in tight ringlets, its color vibrant against my skin’s: cyan, people usually called it.

The agent gazed into my eyes as I approached, until I had to lower them, knowing he must find them “striking,” just as I had once heard a neighbor describe them to my mother. A very light shade of green, I had always thought of them as my most characteristic feature—the expression of my spirit.

The elders stopped in front of the man in the red uniform. I stopped too, but he said, in an impatient voice whose accent seemed like the schoolbooks telling of Vionian Imperial glory come to life, “Step forward, girl. What’s your name?”

I had thought the matter of whether I meant to do anything foolish settled, inside myself. The company agent’s brusque, dismissive manner seemed to change that completely. I didn’t answer, and I didn’t step forward.

“Her name’s Chalondra, sir,” said Elder Harta. “You’ll forgive—”

“No, elder,” the agent replied, his words clipped and harsh. “I have no need to forgive anything. Get her into the preparation room, please. Chalondra, this is your first, last, and final warning to obey me. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll get out of all your clothes once the elders have left you in the preparation room. If you’re not completely nude when I arrive, things will go badly for you.”

Chapter Two


I didn’t protest as the elders, obviously miserable at having to do their duty in obedience to the company agent, led me into the village house, through a locked door, and down a flight of stairs I hadn’t known existed. There, in a nearly bare basement room most notably containing metal pillars to support the floor above, were a table, a chair, and a cage of the same dull gray steel as the pillars.

I swallowed hard. For some reason, rather than reacting immediately to the presence of the cage, I felt surprise at the metal involved in the room. Kamnos, despite being quite rich in minerals, sent those minerals to the company. We were forbidden to smelt our own metal, and forbidden to buy metal from the company, which of course controlled all our trade. Every piece of metal in my world represented a “gift” from the company: ploughshares, hammers, structural supports like the ones in this room. The rest of the village house, where I had come frequently for various important occasions in village life, contained no metal at all. Nothing marked this room as Vionian more starkly than those metal pillars extending up from the basement’s dirt floor.

Or that horrible cage.

It looked perhaps ten centimeters taller than my 170, but it could have no other purpose than to hold a human being.

No, I thought. Not a human being really. A particular sort of object, wholly owned by the Tri-System Mercantile Company. A girl, destined for sale on Vion Prime.

A naked girl. Next to the cage, I noticed, stood something else I hadn’t observed when the elders had led me in. An unassuming post, made of wood, with two wooden pegs on it, one at head height and the other halfway down.

For my clothes, I understood, the heat flashing into my face. The upper one for my dress. The lower one for my underwear.

“Now, Chalondra,” said Elder Jusalon from behind me. I realized the elders, after leading me into the room, had dropped back a step. To block my escape? I wondered.

Elder Jusalon didn’t seem ready to go on. Elder Harta supplied the rest, in a firm tone that seemed to tell of having had to deliver the instruction several times before, but never without regret.

“If you go into the cage without a fuss, we’ll leave you here and you can… you know, follow the agent’s instruction… without us here. I’m sure that will make it easier for you.”

Tears sprang to my eyes. I shook my head hard, angry with myself. Without the horrible agent present, and the two kindly elders my only company, I had recovered some of my logical thinking on the matter of my fate. What else could I do? The shred of comfort Elder Harta had just offered struck me as something to cling to.

I walked forward, past the chair and the table, which faced the cage at a distance of about a meter. It didn’t take a great deal of my intelligence to grasp the intent: the agent would descend the stairs himself. He would sit at the table, and he would…

That was where my brain’s great potential, remarked upon by practically all my teachers, deserted me. I felt my breath speed up, little pants coming through my nose and making me feel lightheaded as I chewed my lower lip.

The cage door stood open. I saw, without much surprise, that it had a metal block that matched another on the corresponding upright bar, where the door would rest when closed. A lock, surely employing some of the Vionian starfaring technology my teachers—with the exception of Mrs. Grelinqua, the Galactic Ethics teacher—had treated with the awe and reverence usually reserved for our religious rituals.

The wild idea that the gods would deliver me floated into my mind, and actually made me snort with derisive laughter despite the terrible room and the terrifying cage. Mrs. Grelinqua hadn’t gone so far as to tell us that our Vionian gods represented nothing more than a useful fiction foisted on Kamnos by the company, but the few of us whom school actually interested had easily figured that out. It had come as a relief to me, because from an early age I had wondered if I were going crazy when the various festival times rolled around. I couldn’t ever figure out why my family and our neighbors would say things like, “Great Vion be with you,” as if that meant anything at all.

Still, though I knew for certain no gods would come to my aid—least of all the Vionian gods to whom the village offered the first fruits of each harvest.

And, I suppose, my mind added of its own accord, the second fruits of their families, when requisition season arrives.

My heart had started to pound so hard in my chest that I thought the elders might hear it, even from across the room where they had remained. My feet stopped at the doorway of the cage. I looked down at them, willing them to move just so that I could spare the helpless elders any further embarrassment, and I noticed for the first time that the cage had a metal floor that rose a centimeter or two from the dirt.

It shouldn’t have made any difference, but the realization of what that probably meant—that this cage would be used to transport me to the Vionian requisition ship, that this metal framework would serve as my cage—made me stop in my tracks for a moment. Then I noticed something else that the room’s shadows had obscured, something that made me turn back towards the elders with pleading in my eyes despite all my resolution to approach the awful situation rationally.

A bucket. In the corner.

Better than no bucket, my mind observed, but that didn’t stop me from looking at Elder Harta and then Elder Jusalon, wordlessly begging them to do something.

I watched Elder Jusalon breathe a sigh and look at Elder Harta. Elder Harta looked back at him steadily. If I had to guess, I would have said that Elder Harta wanted Elder Jusalon to deliver at least some of the awful instructions it had fallen to them to give me.

Elder Jusalon turned his attention back to me.

“Go on in, Chalondra,” he said, trying to make his voice firm. “The agent… you don’t want to disobey him. They’re very… harsh with girls who disobey.”

My tummy flipped and I felt my face pucker into an expression of dismay. I gave Elder Harta one more anguished look, and then I turned and stepped inside the horrible cage.

I thought the elders would instruct me to close the door, so I supposed I had a chance at one more moment’s hesitation, a few more seconds before it all became much too real. Vionian technology took care of that, however. As soon as both of my feet stood on the cage’s metal floor, the door swung rapidly closed, with a surprising lack of clang. Instead of a clashing metallic noise, I heard only a soft beep from the lock.

I turned around, startled, and reflexively reached out, some part of me—my spirit, I guessed—needing to test the door.

“Don’t—” I heard Elder Harta say, but the electronic sound, two falling tones much louder than the one that had indicated the closing of the door, cut him off. I followed it with a cry of sudden agony, because before my fingers even touched the door my whole arm felt like it had caught fire and burned to a cinder in an instant.

I grabbed my elbow with my other hand and held my agonized hand against my ribs, looking down and finding to my amazement that nothing visible had happened to my body. The horrendous pain was still there, though. I let out a scream, and I turned my eyes to the elders, sure that unless they intervened my arm would never feel whole again. They looked back with pained expressions, neither of them moving a muscle.

Somewhere through the red fog of the pain I heard the lock let out another noise: two rising tones that I thought had to correspond to the falling ones it had made before. The pain vanished as suddenly as it had come.

I sank to the floor in relief, still cradling my right arm against my chest, tears flowing freely—pain, relief, surprise, and abject fear of what would happen to me now, when the Vionians didn’t even need to be physically present to inflict such terrible agony. Through the watery film in my eyes, I watched the elders turn, with a final look at me and then—god help them—with expressions of relief on their faces as they turned away again to ascend the stairs.

Back into the world that’s no longer mine, I thought, with a sob that wrenched itself from the depth of my chest. I gazed up at the lock. Reflexively I pushed myself back away from the door, my instinctive terror proving, to my dismay, just how effective had been the terrible warning the metal box had delivered.

I looked down, rubbing my right arm with my left hand, then flexing the arm, still not quite certain that everything had returned to something like normal inside my body. I looked out of the bars of the cage at the metal supports. The dim light in the basement room came from lamps set into the tops of those columns.

Electric light. We knew about electricity, of course: we even studied it in physics class at school. We weren’t allowed to use it, though. In a village like mine, without any contact with any of the mining villages, we barely ever saw it. The miners had to work by its light, I had been told, for safety reasons, but only their supervisors had permission to control it. I had only ever seen its strange, artificial glow on Great Vion day, when the company garrison drilled at night in the plaza, and the whole village came to watch.

The thought of those splendid drills, with the strange, grand marching music and the fascinating, frightening energy rifles on the company soldiers’ shoulders made my mind turn to the agent. I felt my forehead crease, and a deep shudder went through my limbs. I looked down again, one more time, at my arm, trying desperately not to think about the thing that was still amiss in my body, the fullness of my bladder.

I knew from experience that if I could just manage to distract myself somehow, I would forget about the pressure down there. The moment I attempted to think about something other than the terrible urge between my legs, though, my thoughts went straight to the company agent in his red uniform, and to his degrading instruction.

I remembered the threat with which he had delivered the command to remove my clothing. It had seemed vague at the time, but the horrible warning conveyed by the cage’s lock had given it far too much solidity for my comfort.

The jolt of fear that traveled through my system as I recalled the agent’s words pushed my mind back in the equally awful direction from which it had come. I couldn’t help it: I turned to look at the bucket, the sight of which I’d been trying so hard to avoid. Instantly the pressure between my thighs became so great that I had to squirm. To my horror, I felt the muscles down there yield a tiny bit, and some of my pee leak out into my panties. My face glowed like a furnace as I felt the dampness there.

Then it all got a billion times worse, because I heard the unseen door at the top of the stairs creak open, and then I heard the steps themselves creak under the weight of someone coming down into the basement room.

Chapter Three


I could do nothing but stare, wide-eyed, my lips parted as if I intended to make some excuse, as the company agent descended the stairs. He had his attention on something in his hand, as if he were reading it. It took me a moment in my panic to realize it must be a “handheld”—a communicator, a computer, and if our schoolbooks told us true, a device for doing practically anything.

As if to confirm just how much a handheld could do, the agent tapped the thing and the lights on the columns nearest to my cage suddenly lit up much more brightly, so that I had to raise my hand to shade my eyes. I saw the agent look up from the device, and though with the new brightness I couldn’t really make out his expression, the way he crossed his arms made me close my lips and start to chew the inside of my cheek.

“Chalondra,” he said, beginning to pace slowly towards me. “I’m disappointed.”

He had unfolded his arms. As he advanced, he rubbed the knuckles of his right hand with the fingers of his left, a subtle movement that nevertheless sent a thrill of fear through my upper body with its suggestion of masculinity and aggression.

Almost unconsciously, I tried to push myself further back into the cage. My back came up against the metal bars, and I let out a little cry of alarm, thinking that they might give me the same kind of excruciating warning the lock had delivered. Nothing happened, but although for a few moments I had forgotten all about my bladder, at the entrance of the agent, I suddenly felt the pressure down there again. My soft cry became a whimper of humiliation as I felt another few drops of wetness emerge into my already damp underwear.

He had reached the chair. He put his hands on its back and stood looking at me, assessing and evaluating me even more closely than he had done outside.

“My name is Senior Agent Delvik,” he said, with a smile that seemed to me even more frightening than a frown would have. “You will address me as sir, or Senior Agent. Do you understand, girl?”

My lips opened and closed. I clenched my fists with the effort to hold in my pee. I felt my face crumple into a mask of woe. I hoped the man might take it as penitence for my failure to obey him, because I felt desperate to find some way to get from him the boon I so desperately needed.

“Sir…” I started, hearing the strain in my voice. “Sir… I need…”

His smile changed to a frown of apparent confusion. Feeling my cheeks burn, unable to name my mortifying request, I turned to look at the horrible bucket. It was blue; almost the same shade as my skin. It looked clean, but to my dismay I could detect a whiff of odor now that gave away its purpose.

“Ah,” said Agent Delvik. “Well, girl, you may go ahead, if you answer me, and obey the instruction I gave you before the elders brought you down here.”

I swallowed hard, my brow creasing almost painfully. The tears of shame and terror came back into my eyes. Agent Delvik looked back at me steadily. His little smile had returned as he contemplated my ordeal.

“Otherwise,” he continued, “it seems as if you’re going to have some difficulty—though, really, of course, your new life as a concubine will bring you nothing but difficulty if you persist in your disobedience.”

My mouth opened, and I breathed in little gasps, in and out. The agent had spoken so vaguely, and yet my mind had filled with horrifying images. Another stab of agonizing discomfort came from between my legs. I couldn’t help it: I put my hand down there, between my thighs, pressing in a desperate little-girl attempt to keep my pee inside. I watched as Agent Delvik’s smile broadened slightly in obvious appreciation of my dilemma.

“I’ll make it easier for you, Chalondra,” he said, though the tone of his voice suggested that he meant the opposite of what he said. “For the moment, all you must do is remove your dress.”

“Please…” I sobbed. “Please… just let me…”

“I’ll let you relieve yourself,” he said, “once you’ve shown you can do as you’re told. Though I must say that it seems you’re under the impression that I’m going to turn my back, or leave the room, while you use your bucket. I don’t want to leave you with an incomplete understanding of your position. That sort of privacy isn’t going to be part of your life from this point on.”

“What?” I choked out. I realized to my dismay that he had spoken the truth. Somehow, because ever since I could remember I had, like everyone else I knew, had the expectation of privacy when using the outhouse, I had felt certain I would be allowed it here in my cage—despite all the obvious indications to the contrary.

“Stand up, girl!” the agent said, his voice suddenly very sharp.

My eyes blinked and went wide as I looked at him. I realized to my relief that the pressure of my bladder had eased again at the distraction the agent’s dreadful words had provided. Part of me wanted to obey, out of the rationality and the intelligence I had applied before the elders had left me here. The consequences of disobedience had started to become clear: the pain in my arm from trying to touch the lock had vanished but left its mark in my memory. How could I bear more of that?

But the elders had gone, and they had already taken me from my family. My choices here in this awful basement wouldn’t get them in trouble—the Tri-System Mercantile Company didn’t work that way. To my surprise, I felt my individuality and my sense of independence—my defiant spirit—begin to make a contribution to the confused argument inside my head.

You can’t give in to him. You mustn’t.

The words came into my mouth, straight from my spirit. “Which is it? Do you want me to stand up or do you want me to take off my dress?”

Agent Delvik’s eyes narrowed, but to my horror his smile widened. His expression had become one that I realized, my heart speeding up in alarm, must represent a kind of cruel enjoyment—my defiance pleased him, rather than the reverse. He spoke in a much quieter, but also much more menacing voice.

“I was trying to help you, my dear,” he said. “Sometimes, when I’m preparing good girls, I find that their fear can make them seem disobedient, when in fact they’re merely confused. Telling a good girl to stand up can help get her moving towards the next and more difficult part of an unfamiliar and embarrassing task she must learn to perform without hesitation. Taking off your clothes, of course, represents only the very beginning of your submission to your masters, so it makes a very good starting point, especially when it comes to telling good girls from bad girls like you.”

I swallowed hard. Much as I wanted to, I couldn’t take my eyes off his pale face, with its sharply pointed beard and its blue eyes that seemed to look into my mind. I hugged my arms tightly around myself and tried to keep the rebellious expression on my face, the little sneer I had managed to produce when I had spoken so disrespectfully.

Only the very beginning. I knew, from a theoretical point of view, what Vionians did with their concubines. Health and hygiene education didn’t take place in school, on Kamnos, but rather in the family, and traditional Kamnian family values prescribed that boys and girls remained innocent until courtship began at age twenty. My brothers had learned about the changes brought by puberty from our father and our uncles; we girls had learned about it from our mother and our aunts.

I knew that a husband and a wife—or a Vionian master and his concubine, for this much was made clear in school, though in the vaguest possible terms—shared a bed. There, my mother had told me, they did something together that made the wife pregnant. Because girls remained indoors or very close to the house most of the time, helping with cooking and weaving and vegetable gardening, I had no comparisons to make with the lives of animals and the way calves and piglets came to be, so the question of what exactly a husband and wife did in bed remained a mystery.

I also naturally assumed that a concubine’s purpose on Vion Prime lay in getting pregnant and having Vionian children. I knew that childbirth had a great deal of risk and involved much pain for the mother, so I had, I thought, reasoned out for myself that Vionian women left the thing that happened in bed and the resulting production of children to the concubines.

Friends and siblings whispered that husbands and wives didn’t have their clothes on when they did the bed-thing. That seemed strange, but my mind had connected the fact automatically to Agent Delvik’s ordering me to take off my clothes. I had supposed, I realized as I tried to define the meaning of his terrifying words, that he wished to carry out some sort of inspection to verify my suitability for the bed-thing, whatever it might be.

The idea of being naked in front of the agent had seemed terribly embarrassing on its own. Part of my mother’s education in hygiene had, as it did for all Kamnian girls, involved instilling what she called a feminine modesty in me. That, too, had always seemed to go along with what happened between husband and wife: from puberty a girl kept her body hidden from the eyes of all others—especially men. The bed-thing clearly represented a sort of secret, just like a girl’s body in a dress.

The news the agent had just delivered, however, seemed to speak of things that went well beyond having to show the secrets of my newly blossomed body to a man I had never met before today. I had to work very hard even to keep my face from twisting into a pleading pout as the fear and embarrassment swept through me—embarrassment as much at having no idea what the man was even talking about as at being called a bad girl, or at the thought of undressing with him watching.

A stab of discomfort from my bladder, so severe that it brought a whimper to my lips, called me from my thoughts. I felt my face yield to the torment and the humiliation, the corners of my mouth turning down and my brow furrowing. I closed my eyes, tears leaking out from under the lids. I had to unfold my arms so that I could push with both hands as I tried to keep the pee inside.

“Very well,” I heard Agent Delvik say. “We’ll do this the hard way.”

I opened my eyes and raised them, my heart pounding wildly. I saw him pick up the handheld from the table and touch something on the screen, and then I felt a sudden, terrible discomfort between my thighs. The warning I had gotten from the lock now seemed to focus inside my pussy, as if someone had put a red-hot iron bar there. I screamed in agony, and because it seemed like it might lessen the agony, I stood up, though I couldn’t straighten my limbs out because of the sheer intensity of the pain.

Tears gushed from my eyes and down my cheeks as I looked through the bars at the agent, standing calmly there with his finger on the little screen. I hopped from one foot to the other in the vain hope of easing the agony.

“Please… please… sir…” I screamed, clasping my hands together in front of me in a gesture of beseeching. I clutched at my pussy shamelessly, trying to soothe myself.

Agent Delvik lifted his finger, and the pain stopped as suddenly as it had started. I let out a cry of relief, and then a soft whimper. Then I noticed to my horror that I had started soaked my panties in pee, and more was still coming out, running down the insides of my legs and splashing onto the metal floor below me. With a little cry of dismay I finally managed to clamp down with the muscles between my thighs and stop the shameful stream of warm wetness.

“Lift your dress, girl,” he said, in that quiet voice that brought more fear than his sterner tone. “I want to see you wet yourself.”

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