“How long am I going to be here?” I whisper, as the huge gates to the Kerz embassy swing open to reveal a courtyard and enormous building, and Klergon Kirook, smiling brightly. He looks sinister; he’s always looked sinister but it’s very powerful now. It oozes from his pores.
“Do you remember what you promised me?” Baz says, without looking at me.
I want to make a joke here; it’s what I’d ordinarily do. But I’m too down to do that. I swallow, feeling a huge lump in my throat. “I’ll submit and obey,” I hiss.
“Yesterday. And today. But especially today, Lenera. Do you understand?”
“Miss White. Bazrok Jargan.” Klergon approaches us, his eyes on me. In the confines of his embassy, he seems even more alien than before. His eyes seem more reptilian, his kryth has currents of excitement coursing through it. The way he’s looking at me is different, as well. It’s the kind of look that people with power over you give you: smug and cruel.
Well, Baz doesn’t have that look.
But Baz has turned into an icy, robotic, infuriating block of repetitive meat. I’m almost glad to be rid of him. Every stoic comment he delivers to me makes me want to ball my fists up and hit him furiously. I’m only here cooperating because of the silly belief that Baz is trying to tell me something. That I only need to hold out for one day, or something like that. I know it’s crazy, but I cling to the idea.
Now that I see Klergon in person, I’m not so sure.
He seems a lot… skeezier than before.
“Our security has naturally been stepped up, Bazrok Jargan, so I assure you that the premises are free of all dangerous wildlife,” Klergon says, smiling at Baz.
What a weirdo thing to say.
“And Miss White is… cooperating, I see.” He looks at me, all smiles again. And then to Baz, his eyes getting icy. “I will naturally need to confirm this for myself.”
Baz is impenetrable. He nods solemnly and places his hand on the small of my back. My skin is bare to the touch, because Baz had me wear a long, backless dress that serves no discernible purpose in my view, except to make it hard to run and easy to rip my clothes off.
Which I wouldn’t mind, if I’m being honest, if Baz were to do it.
His touch sends electricity through me. He moves a finger over my skin, stroking it. I want to believe it’s a signal; it’s deliberate, caring. But when I look at his face, it’s stone.
We begin to walk, Baz prodding me gently when I find that my feet are refusing to move for themselves. We enter the building and follow Klergon, past a number of silent and stoic Kerz guards, to a bizarre room with a large table and several chairs in it.
Klergon stands behind the table, so I take Baz’s lead and stand, like him, waiting for Klergon to speak.
“The first order of business,” he says, “is for Miss White to demonstrate her willingness to behave in accordance with the expectations of the Kerz. I happen to be privy,” he speaks like he’s a great, trusted advisor, “to the name of the clan warrior who will be mating with Miss White. Now, of course, she will be expected to participate in the mating ritual, and give herself freely to all warriors in the clan at that time—”
“Excuse me?” I say, looking at Baz.
“The Kerz have certain rituals, my dear, from which they cannot be persuaded to detract,” Klergon says, and I assume he’s talking to me, but he’s looking at Baz and smiling. “We know, of course, that human females are inseminated by only one man, regardless of how many they copulate with. But the tradition is old and crucial to the order of our society. I would have thought Bazrok Jargan would have explained this to you.”
“He certainly did—” I cut myself off before I say “didn’t,” because Baz gives me an extra-sharp look.
Klergon cocks his head. “He did? Or he didn’t?”
“She is compliant, Klergon. I explained what was necessary to obtain her compliance and nothing more.”
“Oh, yes,” Klergon says, smiling. “The Authority, in their desire to sweep this matter under the rug as quickly as possible, assure me that you did just that.” He smiles at me. “After yesterday’s incident, we can’t be too careful about security.”
I look from Klergon to Baz. “After I fell, you mean?” I harrumph.
Klergon exchanges a meaningful look with Baz. I’m starting to worry that these two are actually in cahoots with each other.
I suddenly want to retract my agreement to be here.
Klergon smiles, and I look at the floor. I don’t know what’s going on here, but I can see that I need to take matters into my own hands as soon as possible. If I just could rid myself of the nagging feeling that Baz is trying to help me, that what we did two nights ago meant something to him…
“I will need to see for myself,” Klergon says, his voice suddenly much more sinister. “I’m afraid.”
“Look,” I say, my eyes going from Baz to Klergon. I start to take a step backward. “This whole thing is getting a little bit weird—”
Baz puts his hand up behind me, his palm against my shoulder blades. His touch is measured and almost gentle, but there’s a fast hardness about it that makes it clear: he’s not messing around. “You will stay,” he says icily. “And you will show Klergon Kirook the submission and respect that he deserves.”
“Or what?” I challenge him.
He turns to look down at me. “Or you will be disciplined. Like you were last night.” He looks back at Klergon. “You see, Klergon Kirook, what I have to deal with, do you not?”
Klergon chuckles, while my heart sinks. I’ve been such a fool.
But Baz doesn’t give me any time to think, nor does he give Klergon much time to think either. Baz’s hand shoves me roughly toward the table, so I run into it and fall forward a little. I look back at him, and he glares at me. “Bend over the desk.”
“What? I didn’t do anything!”
Baz stands behind me and pushes me onto the desk, roughly lifting the long dress and hiking it up, tossing the material onto the small of my back, then pins me beneath the pile. I try to push up on my hands and Baz swats my bottom through my panties. “Place your hands on the table, Lenera White.”
“She’s very resistant, Bazrok Jargan.”
“She is an Unreg, Klergon Kirook. I have done what I can with the material.”
As they exchange these words, I face forward and begrudgingly put my hands on the table. It’s humiliating, not the least of reasons being that Klergon gets a kick out of it; I can feel it in his sleazy gaze.
Baz meanwhile hooks a finger on the underwear I was given for the day and tugs on it, pulling the scanty material down so my bottom is bared. Klergon takes a lazy walk around the table to view what I know is back there because of the cool breeze on my still-stinging skin. Baz left welts on my bottom that I could feel with my fingers in my bath this morning. I would never tell anyone and I wouldn’t want Klergon to know, but the welts made my belly warm as I touched them and stirred up the desire that I felt sitting on Baz’s lap, being held after he spanked me.
Klergon makes a sound of approval behind me, and then I feel his hand on my bottom. It’s big, strong, and rough, like Baz’s, but the touch is different. My skin starts to itch where he caresses it. “And was this effective, Bazrok Jargan? Did Miss White learn her lesson? Or does she need some repetition?”
“My agreement with you, Klergon Kirook, was to deliver her to your care. She is here voluntarily and has agreed to submit and obey.”
“Has she?” Klergon ponders aloud, his hand moving lower, down to where my bottom meets my thighs. He strokes the crease, and his fingers sweep uncomfortably close to my pussy. My cheeks get red; Klergon’s fingers have discovered the wetness between my legs.
I push myself up again and try to turn around. “Okay, look,” I begin. This is quite enough for me, thank you. It was fine when it was Baz, but not Klergon. “I don’t know what—”
The smack comes so fast it’s only registering with me that it happened at all, when Baz pushes my chest to the table and pins me there. I start to squirm as the sharp pain moves over my tender skin, igniting it. Another hard smack, then another, while I struggle and shriek incoherent half-sentences at Baz. “Baz, what the—? Ow! Stop, what have I—?”
But Baz just keeps spanking me, one hard smack after the other, at a slow, methodical pace. He says nothing, but as long as I struggle, the smacks continue to rain in a steady rhythm. At last, I give up, much faster than I did the night before, because my skin is alight and there’s no way to escape.
“Okay!” I holler when he doesn’t stop even then. “I got it! I stopped!”
Baz leaves his hand on my right buttock for a moment longer than necessary. “Good. Now show Klergon Kirook that you understand how to submit.”
“How?” I wail.
I feel Klergon’s fingertips on my welted skin now. He traces lazy designs over the welts, making them burn and itch, and then massages my skin lecherously. “The Kirook Kerz have a preference for strict obedience, Bazrok Jargan, did you know this? I’m afraid they’ve become quite accustomed to the willing Burzhe girls and will be very disappointed in Miss White if she cannot do any better than this.”
“She will comply.”
“Yes…” Klergon says, moving his fingers over my fresh welts. “I do hope so. For my sake, and also for yours.” I hear him stand back from me. “If you release her? What then? Will she allow herself to be disciplined willingly?”
I wonder, and then wish I hadn’t, what will happen if I don’t. I don’t like the sounds of any of this. If only I knew, with certainty, what Baz’s plan is.
I feel Baz’s hand on my bottom, cupping the heat to my left buttock. His fingers move like Klergon’s, but it feels different. Slower. More deliberate. I have to believe he’s sending me a message.
“Lenera, leave your hands on the table and show Klergon Kirook that you intend to cooperate.”
A chuckle from Klergon. “Oh, my dear. Everything.”
Baz releases his hold on my back, and I don’t move, more than anything because I don’t know what my move is here.
There is a moment of silence, a low grumble of approval from Klergon, as the two stand behind me, looking at my bare bottom and the red welts of Baz’s spankings. My skin is screaming in hot, burning pain, and my pussy is treacherously leaking despite it all. Humiliation washes over me.
“These humans,” Klergon muses. “So odd, don’t you think?” He touches my bottom again. “Their females are aroused by submission, they crave it, they are hardwired for it. And yet they squander this opportunity, this natural order of things.”
I won’t ponder until later why Klergon is talking about humans to Baz as if Baz isn’t one, because Klergon has walked around the table and retrieved something from a drawer in it. I see it flash in my peripheral vision: a long rod, wound with leather.
My insides twist in knots, my pussy clenches, and my skin begins to burn before he even lands the first switch on my backside.
I shriek, and Klergon growls in pleasure. And then he delivers a second, sharp switch.
“What are you doing?” I scream, putting my hands on my bottom and starting to rise up from the table. I look behind me as I try to turn, and I’m met with Baz’s green eyes, his coldest stare, and for a brief second, my heart sinks so low that I let my hands slide from my bottom and Klergon gets another strike in, partially across my fingertips.
I think I see Baz, who is staring at me, move his lips. “Today,” I think he is saying.
Only today? What today?
“Put your hands on the table, Lenera,” Baz says, actually making sound.
“You’re only making it worse for yourself, my dear,” Klergon agrees.
“She’s an Unreg,” Baz tells him, as if this explains everything.
I put my shaking hands on the table. “Okay. Okay. Please, stop. I’ll do… I’ll do what you want.”
“Count your punishments—”
“I didn’t do anything!”
Baz puts a hand over my wrist and leans down to my ear. “Obey Klergon Kirook, you silly girl, like you agreed to. Or I will punish you, and don’t think for a moment that won’t be worse. You have no choice, Lenera, but to do as you agreed.”
He lets go of my hand.
Klergon cracks his rod again, across my entire bottom. “Ow!”
“Give the whip to me,” I hear Baz say.
I look straight ahead, my heart sinking.
“This is going to make you scream, Lenera White. But you’ve given me no choice.”
The sound of the rod whistling through the air is terrifying, and I sense Klergon himself stepping back, see in the corner of my eye that his mouth is open as it flies through the air. When it impacts my rear, the sound is a loud, sharp crack that dwarfs the sound of Klergon’s smack.
But the pain, somehow, is less. It still hurts, but not as much as it sounded like it should.
I shriek anyway. As loudly as I can.
Tears sting in my eyes, and they’re real; this may not be as bad as it sounded, but it stings like heck. I bite into my lip and spit, “One.”
I count for the remaining four strikes, each one making my chest cooler and the breath expel from my throat with more force, until “five,” when I barely manage to squeak out the word. It isn’t like Baz isn’t whipping me at all, but I have the distinct impression he’s doing it less violently than he’s capable of.
“As I said, Klergon Kirook. She’s an Unreg. She is unruly and this is all that I could accomplish in such a short time.”
“Yes,” Klergon says, with an odd growl in his throat.
His demeanor changes suddenly. “I must tell you, Bazrok Jargan, I find this most compelling. For a moment, if you can believe it, I doubted your commitment to our agreement.”
There is a very long pause, while my stomach flips around inside me and my chest feels raw.
“I have no commitments except to this agreement,” Baz says slowly.
“I see. I wonder how it is that I arrived at such an erroneous conclusion.”
“People arrive at erroneous conclusions all the time, Klergon Kirook. Especially when something takes them by surprise.”
I’m still bent over on the table. I don’t dare to move, even if I’m thoroughly humiliated.
Today, and tomorrow, Baz said. Surely this meant something? From a guy who says next to nothing?
I close my eyes, squeezing out a tear.
“Stand up now, Miss White,” Baz says.
I do so, making extra effort not to sniffle. They might be able to break my spirit down, but I’m not going to show them that.
Klergon stands close to me now, and I can’t hide the shudder that it gives me when his hands go to my shoulders and pull me toward him. I dare to look at Baz, one last time, pleading with him not to leave me here.
He doesn’t even look at me.
My heart sinks, and I know that if Baz betrays me now, or abandons me, it will hurt until my dying breath.
But I’m a Scrapper. So I’m already machinating a plan B.
Today and tomorrow, Baz said. Well, it’s tomorrow now.
But nothing has really changed, if Baz turns out to be the huge self-interested jerk he seems to be at the moment. I had a plan to kill these fuzzers before, and that’s just what I plan to do.
I look at the floor.
“Until the Commencement Ceremony, then, Bazrok Jargan.”