Chapter 4

Rachel worked to master her emotions. She was badly frightened, but relieved to think her imprisonment would be relatively short. There was a good chance that the U.S. embassy was working on her behalf at this very moment.

Her heart pounded as it suddenly occurred to her how much depended on Mandy. At present Rachel's life was held up by that single thread. Nobody else knew she was here. Even the standard visa paperwork had not been required. There would be no records to tell anyone in the U.S. of her visit here. Everyone she knew would think she was still traveling through Germany, and there was no evidence anywhere to contradict that. Wait... No. Rachel sighed in exasperation. No credit card charges for plane tickets: Mandy had paid cash. Rachel had wondered a little about that, but now decided Mandy had probably been trying to avoid leaving records of her "spy mission."

Rachel wished she had tried harder to contact her father. He could then at least have steered the investigation of her whereabouts into the right country, if only she had called him to let him know where she was. The cell phone! They could... No. She'd had it turned off for the plane flight, and after she'd arrived, the phone couldn't find her network. The phone's last known location, like her own, was in Germany.

Calm down, Rachel, she told herself. Mandy will go to the embassy, and there is no reason for the police to stop her. Mandy hasn't broken any laws. Even if they do stop her, she will show her passport to the police outside the embassy, and there will be no trouble. She won't be carrying anything incriminating. The whole process of freeing me will just take time, but no more than the three days I already settled on.

But I have to pretend I think I'm here for good, she pointed out to herself. I can't let them know I have a way to get out, that I have a friend on the outside. They would pick her up, if I do. They'd assume she and I were conspiring together. The fact that they don't know about her is what makes it all work.

Aside from the food and drink dishes, the only other item within her cell was something whose purpose Rachel couldn't make out. It was a ring of metal, a little less than two inches across, from which leather straps hung on two of its sides. The ring and its straps hung on a hook on the wall just next to the cell door. Rachel shrugged and continued her inspection of her tiny living area, seeing nothing else of note but the bare walls.

Her attention was attracted to sudden sounds outside her cell. She recognized the creak of the drawbridge at the entrance. It was followed by jingling sounds. Other prisoners! Rachel thought. They sound like me when I walk!

A group of women came shuffling into Rachel's view, in the aisle between the cells. Completely naked, like Rachel, and wearing all of the same types of chains Rachel had, with one addition: The women walked in a line, and between any two consecutive women in the line, a chain about a yard long ran from the back of the metal collar of one woman to the front of the collar of the woman behind her. There were eight women in the line, connected in that way into a single unit.

The women looked exhausted and miserable. As they came closer, Rachel's stomach flip-flopped. Many had clearly been whipped at some point! Rachel could clearly see the tiger-stripes of bruises on legs, shoulders, breasts, and particularly on buttocks, some of them new and sharply red, some old, with purple-yellow mottling. Rachel wondered momentarily what these women had done to merit such harsh punishment. Rachel bit her lip, breathing fast, her heart pounding. Will they do that to me? she wondered. If I'm only here a few days, can I get through them without being whipped? How often do they do it? And why? Is there something I can do to avoid it?

The hair on all of the women's heads was... not quite shaved, but close to it, trimmed to hardly more than a half inch in length. It seemed to Rachel so symbolic of being inmates in a prison. Rachel bit her lip. They haven't had time to do that to me, she thought, but they probably will before I get out. I'll go home looking like a biker gang's woman. She shuddered.

All of the women were young -- it seemed to Rachel they were all in their twenties, two of them perhaps younger, and all of them looked very fit, some of them extremely so, with slim, curvy legs, taut stomachs, and firm breasts, mostly large. Despite the ultra-short hair, all of the women looked very attractive, with the classic facial features of the beautiful woman. Rachel blinked. They couldn't represent the average Irkhetnian woman. There had to be some sort of selection process that decided which women would be here. It was no surprise to Rachel to observe that all of them appeared to have been through the same grooming treatment Rachel had just been through -- the skin of their legs was smooth and hairless, as were their mounds.

Rachel shuddered again. It seemed obvious that there was a heavy sexual element involved here -- keeping only the young women with the best bodies, keeping them naked, depilating their legs. And it surely wasn't just so the guards would have something pleasant to look at. Rachel hadn't been raped so far, though she already felt violated. But she saw it was obvious there would be sexual mistreatment far worse than she had experienced to this point.

Three days. Three days. I have to make it that far, she thought. I don't know what they'll do to me in that amount of time. But I'll bet it won't be pleasant.

Most of the women had unusually pale skin, some more so than others. Possibly, thought Rachel, those more pale had been here longer. She bit her lip. It would take years, she thought, for her own tan to fade to that extent. Had these women been here that long? Had they seen any sun at all, in all that time?

Rachel made a sudden connection: with one exception, the palest of the women were also the ones with the most well-developed muscles. The longer you stay here, Rachel told herself, the more buff you get. Obviously all of these women worked hard.

Two of the three guards accompanying the women unhooked the chains connecting woman to woman, after which the women were hustled into the row of cells opposite Rachel's, one to each cell, and locked in. They adopted various postures in the cells, some sitting, some lying down, curled up to fit the narrow confines of the floor. All of them wore grim but resigned expressions.

As the women were settling themselves, another line of women entered the aisle between the cells, secured together in the same way. Rachel counted seven this time. I'm in one of the eight cells already, Rachel thought. The guards who put me here knew there was a vacancy on this side.

Examining the women, Rachel suddenly experienced a shock that surprised her all the more because she'd imagined she was beyond shock. Among the women in the line, the one who had stopped just short of Rachel's cell hardly looked older than fourteen. It can't be, Rachel moaned to herself, they can't have kids in a place like this.

No, wait, Rachel thought, obviously she's not that young. No adolescent has breasts that big, that full. Considering how petite the girl was otherwise -- looking at her standing near the other women, Rachel judged that she couldn't even be five feet tall, probably several inches short of that, and couldn't possibly weigh eighty pounds -- her breasts seemed like they shouldn't belong, yet somehow, in some unaccountable way, they did belong. The girl's face, very cute, also looked a bit more mature than her body suggested, but she still couldn't be more than eighteen or nineteen. The word "pixie" inevitably came into Rachel's head: with her close-cropped hair and slightly pointed ears, the girl reminded Rachel of some legendary magical sprite.

Rachel bit her lip hard. The pixie girl had by far the greatest number of whip marks of any woman Rachel had seen so far, nearly all fresh, surely not more than a few days old, and they were especially concentrated in the areas of her breasts and... Rachel squeezed her eyes tightly shut, and shuddered once more. Her crotch. Her sex. This girl had been whipped in her most sensitive place of all.

No wonder she looked so hopeless.

The pixie girl went into the cell immediately adjacent to Rachel's, while the woman who'd been ahead of her entered the cell on the other side of Rachel. The latter woman showed just an instant of surprise at seeing Rachel -- perhaps not just at her being there, but also at her long, blonde hair. (Though it wasn't always easy to judge with their hair as short as it was, the hair color of the women ranged mainly from brown to deep black.) Then the surprise was gone, replaced with resignation and the same hopelessness Rachel had seen on the other faces.

As soon as all of the women were secured in their cells, guards appeared at the end of the rows, pushing carts. Rachel could smell food, and her stomach rumbled. The door of each cell had a gap of a couple of inches at the bottom, enough to slide the food and drink bowls in and out, which the guards now began doing, slopping spoonfuls of some sort of meal into one bowl and pouring into the other what appeared, to Rachel's surprise, to be milk rather than water.

Rachel, starving, squirmed a bit to free her hands from her waist, as the chain leading from her wrist cuffs to her hobble chain slid jingling up through the ring in her waist chain. She heard the same jingling sound from other cells. Rachel picked up the bowl of liquid and tipped it into her mouth. It was indeed some sort of milk, though she didn't think it was from a cow. Could it be from goats? Mountain goats. That made sense. Certainly easier to keep them up here than a herd of dairy cows. And the milk was pleasantly cool, if not quite cold. Well, yeah, thought Rachel. No problem keeping things cold in this environment. She remembered the bitterly cold wind, the patches of snow on the ground.

She started to pick some of the food out of the other bowl with her fingers, but noticed the other women she could see were simply holding the bowls up to their mouths and licking the food directly out of them. That was probably easier, she decided, and she hadn't liked the feel of the food on her fingers.

As she licked up the food and the first of it hit her stomach, her hunger seemed to burst into flames. She ate desperately, gulping down several mouthfuls before wondering what it was she was eating. It seemed to be a mix of finely-chopped vegetables, a little fruit, and chunks of a type of meat Rachel couldn't identify. Not beef... well, of course not, Rachel, she thought, or the drink would have been cows' milk. Venison, maybe? That was probably available here. Or the goats theoretically supplying the milk. Rachel had no idea what goat tasted like.

In any case, the food was good. At least they seem to want to keep us all healthy, Rachel told herself. Yes, she then reminded herself bitterly, they want us in good shape for sex.

Her stomach filled, Rachel rolled back onto the floor of the cell, feeling better equipped to deal with the world. Her spirits rose. It's just for a few days, and I'll be getting reasonable food and liquids. And meanwhile Mandy is helping me get out.

Rachel was awakened from a light snooze by a sudden stirring among the girls in the cells around her.

One by one, all of the girls Rachel could see were scrambling up onto their knees, some looking frightened, some even whimpering, while others looked resigned. Each girl, while Rachel looked on, appalled, walked forward on her knees to the front of her cell and pressed her arms, thighs and stomach against the bars, her breasts thrust out in adjacent spaces between the bars. They remained like that, many of them trembling.

Oh my God! thought Rachel. I have to do that too! These women are obviously afraid of what will happen if they don't. I can never act as if help might be on the way, she reminded herself. And I'll probably be whipped on the spot if I don't do this! Trembling herself, trying not to whimper with fear, her face flushing with embarrassment, she got up on her knees. As tall as she was, she had to spread her thighs farther apart than any of the other women, and the top of her head still brushed the ceiling of her cell. The metal bar running up between her breasts felt cold, until her body heat began warming it. What's going to happen?? she asked herself over and over.

Rachel could see the guards gathered together at the entrance to the aisle between the cells, and she bit her lip, almost pushing a tooth through it. She could barely breathe, and the sound of her heart pounding filled her head.

The men walked slowly, smiling, looking relaxed and excited. The one farthest in front stopped in front of one of the cells, and Rachel could see the girl's chin trembling, could see her efforts not to cringe. The guard reached down with one hand and gave the girl's right breast a squeeze. Rachel herself squeaked at the same time the girl did. Oh, no! Rachel thought. No, no, no...

The guard made a gesture, and the girl quickly ducked back into her cell, then returned to her original breasts-outthrust position, now holding in her mouth the straps of one of those little metal rings, identical to the one Rachel had been puzzled by in her own cell. The guard reached down and took it from the girl's trembling lips, and Rachel, looking on, saw to her horror what the ring was for. As Rachel watched, the girl remained on her spread knees submissively, her mouth open wide, while the guard put the ring into the girl's mouth, upright behind her teeth, so that it held her mouth open in a wide O. He buckled the straps of the thing behind her head, then stood and unzipped his pants.

Rachel continued watch, wanting to turn away but afraid to leave her own position at the front of her cell. She was barely aware of shaking her head in disbelief, more terrified than ever, watching the guard present his hugely erect penis to the girl and pushing it into her mouth. Crouching slightly to get down to her level, he held her head against the bars and began thrusting in and out of her mouth, grunting with each thrust.

Another guard had now come farther down the row, and stopped in front of another girl, and gave her breast a squeeze. Obviously, thought Rachel, that was the signal to her that she had been "chosen." Rachel thought the same thing was about to happen, but this time the guard made a twirling gesture with his finger. Immediately the girl turned around to face the back of her cage, leaned ahead with her elbows out in front and let them down to the floor to support her, then backed up the short distance to push her buttocks against the bars of the cell. The guard, unzipped by now, knelt in front of her cage and pressed his erection into her vagina. At least, Rachel hoped that was the hole he was using. The grunts of the guard synchronized with the squeals of the girl as he pounded against her, deep inside her. Meanwhile other guards were still walking down the row.

Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod, Rachel's thoughts screamed, there are four other guards, all still thinking about which girls to rape! Right here, right now! They'll see my long hair, they'll know I'm new, they'll want to try me out! I'm going to be raped, I'm going to be raped...

Rachel's mind spun as frantic, nonsensical, almost delirious thoughts rushed through her head that she couldn't remember later. Please, sir, please don't rape me, I'm not allowed, I have a note from my mother, I can't participate in any strenuous physical activities... She felt a deep buzzing in her head, saw a redness squeezing in from the edges of her field of vision, knew she was about to faint.

She closed her eyes, took a slow breath, tried to blank her mind, calm her thundering heart. You have to get through this, Rachel, she told herself over and over. Get through it and go home. You can survive being raped. These women all look strong, they're fed well. No broken bones. The guards keep them healthy so they can use them. They're just going to make me do something I've done on purpose myself when I like a man. I'll be okay. I'll be okay.

Somehow, Rachel had no idea how, the guards all missed her. There were sixteen women to choose from, and six guards. Rachel knew the odds should be in her favor, except for her long hair making her stand out. She wondered whether perhaps the guards couldn't see her hair, with the top of her head pressed up against the ceiling of the cell -- no, she decided, it can't be that, they can't miss it falling down in front of my shoulder like it is. But for whatever reason, unless the guards had enough stamina for a second round, Rachel seemed, against all reason, to have made it through safely.

One of the first guards to finish zipped up and began looking down the row of women again. Shit, thought Rachel, they are doing a second round. But instead of the same type of rape, when the guard stopped in front of one cage, the occupant of which cringed in fear, he unlocked the door of her cage and swung it open, ordering the woman out with a gesture. She emerged and stood upright, shaking from head to toe, her chains clinking, tears streaming down her cheeks. To Rachel's surprise, the guard turned away, leaving the woman standing there, while a second guard started looking in other nearby cages. At last, with a grin, this one opened another cage, ordering its occupant out.

As Rachel watched, unable to formulate a theory for what was about to happen, the guard unlocked the second woman's handcuffs from the chain at her waist and from each other, leaving her hands and arms free. Then he turned back to the first girl and did the same.

The guard spoke to the women, perhaps telling them what they had to do, while the rest of the guards approached and formed two groups on either side of the women, talking to each other animatedly and laughing. In various groups the guards placed piles of money on tops of cages, and Rachel realized they were betting on... something.

The two women now faced each other, looking resigned and terrified at once. At a word from the guard who had released them, each nodded slightly and raised her hands, clenched into fists. Rachel's jaw dropped as she suddenly understood what was about to happen.

The girl to Rachel's left, a pretty girl of about twenty with coal-black hair and dramatic, beautiful eyebrows, took the first swing, her fist aiming for the head of the other girl, brown-haired, very nice body, slightly older. As the guards shouted encouragement to one or the other girl, the brown-haired girl ducked the punch and back-pedaled momentarily, in the quick, tiny steps the hobble-chains allowed, then quickly closed again and swung her arm up from below, catching the black-haired girl in the stomach. She tried to follow with her other fist swinging towards the black-haired girl's head, but the black-haired girl instinctively blocked the blow, then punched the brown-haired girl on her upper arm, spinning her to the side, and quickly swung with her other fist, connecting with the side of the girl's head. The brown-haired girl staggered, and began falling, her hobble chain interfering with her effort to keep her balance. Desperately she reached down with her hand to keep from falling, and pushed herself back upright. Rachel suspected that if either girl touched the floor with anything other than hands or feet, she would immediately be declared the loser.

Neither girl, Rachel could easily tell, had any expertise at fighting of this kind, or of any kind. On the other hand, they both seemed accustomed to pain. There was very little of the sort of squealing Rachel would have expected in reaction to blows that came as hard as either girl could deliver them. There seemed only to be the terror of losing, or of the consequences of refusing to fight.

With the guards shouting louder now, the brown-haired girl jumped away to a safer distance, then immediately closed again. She ducked the next punch, then her own fist caught the black-haired girl for a second time in the stomach, and this time succeeded in following with a blow to the head. The black-haired girl cried out as she felt herself falling, and landed heavily on her butt. Immediately she gathered herself into a self-protective fetal position on the floor, shaking her head and crying out forlornly, "Nyet... nyet..." Rachel recognized it as the Russian word for "no," the only word in that language she knew. She wondered whether that was the language everyone was speaking. She had assumed they had their own language in Irkhetnia.

The brown-haired girl, covered with red marks that would soon be bruises, and bleeding from both a cut cheek and a split lip, breathed a heavy sigh of relief, bent over with her hands on her knees to catch her breath, then scuttled back to her cage, where the nearest guard locked her in -- without securing her hands to her waist chain. Evidently, thought Rachel, that's her reward for winning: being able to spend the night, or at least part of it, with her hands free.

The other girl, the black-haired one, responded to an order from the nearest guard by lying down on her back on the floor between the rows of cells, down near the end of the aisle. Her hobble chain was unlocked, and several of the guards quickly secured her, by chains from her wrist and ankle cuffs to the bars of cells on either side, in a painfully stretched spread-eagle, her legs spread very wide. She was sobbing and sniffling steadily, but no longer bothering to protest verbally.

Rachel felt sure the guards were going to rape the girl now -- probably all of them, in succession, she thought. She squeezed her eyes shut, not wanting to watch.

When no sound of an assault ensued, Rachel opened her eyes again. One guard to her left suddenly shouted something, and his idea was greeted with laughter and apparent agreement. A guard near Rachel quickly moved to a cage in the row across from Rachel and unlocked it, while another guard moved to the cage immediately to Rachel's left and did the same. A desolate moan came from inside the latter.

Moments later the women from the two cages stood facing each other, and Rachel gasped and shook her head as the women's handcuffs were unlocked. I shouldn't be surprised, she told herself. I've seen the guards raping inmates, I've seen them stage a fistfight between prisoners for their entertainment. But now they were reaching a new level of cruelty.

Rachel had forgotten that the cage next to hers housed that girl whose face and tiny size made Rachel think of a pixie. She really was such a wisp of a girl -- not underfed, or her breasts wouldn't be that big, clearly just genetically small. With her diminutive size and that adorable face, she would probably inspire any normal man to protect her. The guards, Rachel already knew, were not normal men.

The pixie girl had a more pronounced tan than most of the women Rachel had seen here -- even in the dim light, Rachel could make out bathing suit tan-lines. She couldn't have been here long, at most a few weeks to a month or so. The outline suggested a fairly modest one-piece suit, and Rachel wondered whether the girl had ever shown herself naked to anyone before being arrested and brought here. The girl's whole bearing suggested a shyness that made Rachel certain the answer was no.

And there were, as Rachel had already observed, those whip marks. Rachel, with a flash of anger, wondered whether the guards had singled her out for especially harsh treatment precisely because of her smallness, her shyness, and her limited ability to defend herself even in the best of circumstances. The type of men Rachel was seeing here, she thought, were exactly the sort who would do that.

The girl was squinting in the dim light, and Rachel suspected she might be very near-sighted.

Standing in front of the girl, her mouth quirked in a small smile as if she could already taste victory in the battle that was about to start, was a very strikingly athletic woman, whom Rachel had noticed when she'd arrived with that first group of eight -- easily picked out as the tallest of the eight, probably only a few inches shorter than Rachel. Even in a population of women whose muscles had been built up with hard work, this one stood out as remarkably well-developed, especially her legs, upper arms and shoulders. It seemed likely that her muscle tone owed little to whatever work she'd been doing in the prison, presumably the same work as the others, and more to her previous life before arriving here. The woman's breasts were large -- that, Rachel had noticed, was common to all of the women here -- and her stomach taut, with well-defined abdominals. She had a beautiful face -- assuming she was, indeed, an athlete, Rachel thought the woman could probably make millions of dollars in the U.S. from television endorsements. For a moment Rachel thought she might be a gymnast, but she seemed much too tall for that. Possibly a soccer player, Rachel speculated, reminding herself they would call it football here. Whatever she really was, she reminded Rachel of her mental image of an Amazon, the legendary female warriors of a past millennium.

The Amazon was clearly older than the pixie girl, about twenty-four, Rachel guessed. She very nearly had the greatest number of whip bruises marking her skin of any of sixteen women in the room, second only to the pixie girl standing in front of her. That seemed to fit in well with what Rachel could see of the Amazon's personality. Her face expressed silent, barely-contained defiance of the guards, awaiting only an excuse to break out into the open. No doubt it had several times in the past.

That certainly couldn't explain what had happened to the pixie girl, Rachel admitted. She looked completely incapable, in both her size and her demeanor, of expressing defiance in any form.

While the pixie girl's brush-cut hair made her look still smaller, that same haircut on the larger woman seemed to make her look that much more menacingly athletic.

Rachel wondered about the reason for the severe haircuts, given that, as Rachel had seen, the prisoners were sexual playtoys for the guards -- as, Rachel thought with a gulp, she herself would be at some point unless she could be freed very quickly. A full head of well-groomed hair is always attractive. If the women were going to be used for sex, why not keep that feature?

It occurred to Rachel, then, that she wasn't looking at it the way a man would, a sexually aggressive man with no inhibitions or moral scruples. To the guards, the prisoners, with their pretty faces, firm breasts, and feminine curves, were clearly women, and all of them had available holes in the right places. The men had no trouble thinking of the prisoners as women. But the prisoners weren't allowed to think of themselves as women, nor as anything other than objects the men could use for their pleasure and entertainment.

How can I sit here calmly thinking about hairstyles, wondered Rachel, when I can see with certainty that I'm going to be raped and otherwise abused if I stay here much longer? Surely by tomorrow, if not tonight? But it was, she realized, one of her defense mechanisms: examining situations in detail when she was scared, trying to lose herself in the small brush strokes when the big picture was terrifying. The alternative was hysteria, panic, breakdown. She would hold it off as long as she could. Only a few days, she reminded herself. I will be out of here soon.

Rachel reflected again on the heartbreaking unfairness of the fight she was about to witness. Undoubtedly the guards had picked out the strongest and the weakest of the prisoners exactly for the purpose of staging a complete mismatch for its entertainment value. The Amazon must have outweighed the pixie girl by sixty pounds, and was a foot taller. In the upcoming fight, the only question would be how long the smaller girl could last. She couldn't hope to outfight the Amazon, who looked ready to smash her like a bug. The girl looked terrified, her lip trembling. She was breathing hard already, making soft moaning sounds.

The guard who seemed to have taken on the task of spokesman gave a much longer speech than he had to the previous pair. Perhaps the rules would be more complex.

The surrounding guards, after putting down their bets, shifted their positions now, forming two unbroken lines across the space between rows of cells, on either side of the women -- coincidentally also on either side of Rachel's cell, so that she was still able to see both of the women -- making a boxing ring more formal than the one before. Rachel wondered which of the guards could possibly be betting on the pixie girl.

The lead guard shouted a single syllable, and the Amazon crouched, her arms upraised, and approached the pixie girl. The big woman swung her balled fist at the smaller one suddenly, but the pixie girl managed to dance out of the way, backing as far as the circle of guards, who pushed her, stumbling, back into the fray. Each girl still had the hobble chain to hamper her movements, but they both seemed accustomed to its presence, and used quicker rather than longer steps whenever speed was called for.

Rachel could see the lead guard glancing at his watch. He called out something, just a few syllables. Evidently there was a time limit. He had probably just stated the time remaining. Perhaps the pixie girl just had to survive long enough.

The Amazon waited as the pixie girl was pushed back towards her a second time, then clenched her right hand into a fist and swung again. Her fist connected with the pixie girl's cheek with the appalling sound of a sandbag dropped from the ceiling. The pixie girl cried out and staggered back, her knees buckling, and desperately reached down with her hand as she was falling. The larger woman swung again, missing as the girl's head dropped below the punch. The girl managed to catch her weight on her hand and somehow arrest her fall as she continued scrambling backwards. As she backed into the circle of guards, the men didn't think quickly enough to let her fall, and instead pushed her forward again as they had before. She remained on her feet. Rachel could see the girl's cheek already darkening, with one line of blood in the middle of the bruise and a second cut on her lip. She was crying now, and just managed to duck away from a second punch from the Amazon, who looked angry and frustrated.

The guard called out the remaining time. By now Rachel was sure that was what he was doing.

The Amazon quickly took two steps forward and slammed her left fist into the pixie girl's stomach. As the latter doubled over in pain, the big woman swung with her right, but too quickly, only managing a glancing blow to the smaller girl's head. Still, the girl was staggered, and only barely managed to keep her footing as she backpedaled once more. She had stopped crying shortly after the stomach blow, and had a desperate, panicked look on her face, her mouth opened wide. Rachel suspected that the girl's diaphragm was temporarily paralyzed, that she couldn't breathe, and that the Amazon had only to wait a few seconds for her opponent to faint.

The Amazon must have decided she had no time to wait. She made a quick lunge forward, her right hand clenched in a fist once more. Before she could swing, the lead guard shouted once more, and the other guards began babbling excitedly. The woman swung and connected with the pixie girl's cheek for a second time, this time sending her sprawling backwards to the floor.

The Amazon raised her arms into the air, then spun as the lead guard said something, and began arguing with him furiously. Several other guards closed in on her, grabbing her arms, ignoring the pixie girl on the floor, who was crying again, doubled up in a fetal position. Rachel realized that the lead guard's announcement before the punch had been that time had expired, and the Amazon had lost by default.

One of the guards said something to the crying girl on the floor at last -- not especially friendly, but Rachel didn't take it to sound threatening -- and the girl scrambled back to her cell. The guard locked her in. As with the earlier winner, her hands were left free. Rachel could hear her sobbing within her cell.

Several other guards were still busy with the Amazon, who was struggling with them and shouting. Despite her efforts, they managed to stretch her out on the floor, face down, atop the earlier loser, and soon they had her chained in place in an identical spread-eagle, her arms, widely-split legs, and stomach lying on those of the first woman.

The lead guard gave some instructions to three of the others, who saluted and sprinted out of the cavern. One of them returned almost immediately, holding a device whose purpose Rachel couldn't guess at first sight. She could see that it was a black cylinder, perhaps four inches long and an inch wide, with several straps attached at its middle. Its ends were rounded, and Rachel, wrinkling her nose in distaste, thought both ends looked like...

She gasped as she saw she had been right. Both ends were molded in the shape of a penis, like the gag they had used to silence Rachel earlier. As Rachel watched, it was put to that same use.

As both women, one atop the other, resisted, each one's head was held by a guard while one end of the double-ended dildo was forced into each one's mouth. The straps were then fastened, one pair encircling the head of the Amazon, the other pair doing the same for the other woman. Rachel, based on her earlier experience, knew what it felt like to have her mouth completely filled with a rubbery gag. But beyond that, the women's faces were held together, their lips touching in an involuntary, unbreakable kiss as they helplessly shared the gag.

The lead guard raised his whip, and Rachel clenched her teeth, knowing what she was about to see. He swung his arm, bringing the whip down on the Amazon's back. The woman convulsed in pain and let out a shriek, muffled by the gag she shared with the other woman.

Rachel's whole body tensed in sympathy for what the Amazon must be feeling, her jaw dropping in disbelief that she could be seeing what she was seeing. Whipping had always been an abstract concept to Rachel before. But the woman Rachel could see, not more than ten feet away, was a real person, a woman whose bondage and bare skin left her helpless and vulnerable. The slapping sound of leather against flesh, and the Amazon's reaction, made the sight so real that Rachel could feel the pain on her own back.

The woman's cry of pain was followed by a second slapping sound Rachel couldn't identify at first. She realized, then, that the pain from the whip had made the Amazon's body spasm and bounce up off the other woman below her, so that afterward Rachel could hear the slap of two tummies coming back together -- Rachel knew she was right when the woman underneath coughed, then gathered her breath back and wriggled violently as if trying hopelessly to get out from under. The guard whipped the Amazon four more times -- on the backs of her thighs, on her buttocks, her back again, and just below her shoulders -- as both women, with gagged shouts, struggled to get free.

Both women were suffering, but the Amazon obviously more, as all strokes of the whip were falling on her.

Rachel, blinked, horrified, watching the face of the guard doing the whipping. With a touching faith in humanity, Rachel somehow visualized the guard regarding the whipping as a distasteful but necessary part of his duties, but she could see that clearly wasn't the case. The guard was smiling, looking excited. He enjoyed whipping the woman. He loved it. So happy to have an excuse. Rachel saw him, in amazement, as a cruel, vicious animal, and wondered how any human could do what he was doing.

It seemed obvious to Rachel that the Amazon had incurred the whipping because of her argument and struggle with the guards, in keeping with Rachel's earlier speculation that that sort of thing was why the Amazon already had a lot of whip marks to begin with. The woman underneath her was, so to speak, simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The second guard sent away on an errand returned now, carrying a bucket that Rachel at first took to be, unaccountably, paint, but then she could smell it as it went by, and identified it as some sort of gravy. Rachel blinked as she watched several guards use their hands to spread gravy in both women's crotches, partway down their inner thighs, and on the sides of their squashed-together breasts.

As Rachel was puzzling over this, she heard, to her horror, the barks of several large dogs.

They were German shepherds, Rachel could see as they entered the aisle between cells and raced towards the two helplessly chained women. The third guard trailed behind them, returning from retrieving them.

The bound women, of course, heard the dogs coming long before they arrived, and began squirming desperately to try to free themselves, mmmmmming in fright against their shared gag.

The first dog to arrive skidded to a stop between the women's spread legs and began excitedly licking the gravy coating the crotches of both women. Another stood with his front paws on the upper woman's buttocks and licked from there. The rest -- there were six dogs altogether -- eventually formed up in pairs on either side of the women, licking the sides of their breasts, forcing their long tongues deep into the valley of compressed skin between the women, whimpering with happiness at the unexpected treat.

The guards stood grinning with arms folded, making undoubtedly lewd comments to each other, as the women moaned and squirmed violently against each other. Rachel was sure the guards found it incomparably erotic, watching the two women's bodies rippling against each other, grunting with effort and sharing a long, enforced kiss, as if they were making passionate love to each other. To Rachel there was nothing erotic about it. It was simply horrifying.

It's a matter of just blind luck, she told herself, that they didn't pick me out for that. And they will, she realized in despair, they will do it to me, or something even worse, something more painful and perverted and disgusting. And I can't get away! I can't get out of this cell! I can't get away from them in these chains, I can't stop them from doing to me anything that strikes them as amusing -- and I can see what kind of thing amuses them! There are no rules here, no limitations.

Rachel heard, with her ears, and felt, with her entire body, the pounding of her heart against the bar of the cage through which her breasts were still thrust outward. She felt, to her added horror, her bladder start to let go. No, not here, not on the floor of my own cell where I can't get away from it! She wanted to back off and let it go in the toilet hole, but except for the two fight winners in their cells, and the two losers being forced into sex in full view of everyone, all of the rest of the girls Rachel could see were still up against the bars of their cells in the "present breasts" position, and Rachel had no doubt she'd be punished if she backed away.

Luckily, she regained control in her crotch after a few small dribbles. After about ten minutes, which had to seem more like hours, or days, to the two women on the floor, the dogs had apparently licked up as much gravy as they could find and began drifting away. The guards, also, once the women's struggles had subsided, began withdrawing, taking four of the six dogs with them, and a minute later Rachel heard the heavy drawbridge being closed. The guards' workday is over, Rachel realized, and they've left the task of guarding us to the two remaining dogs. The two women remained bound in their joined spread-eagles, still kissing because there was no way to stop, limp with exhaustion, left to provide whatever comfort one could give the other by sharing her fate. Rachel, horrified once again, realized they would apparently be left that way all night.

Around Rachel, the prisoners withdrew into their cages, and Rachel knew it was safe to back away now. With relief, Rachel backed towards the waste hole and let go what seemed to be an endless stream of pee.

One of the dogs came sauntering down the aisle, looking idly at the girls in their cages. On duty.

Somehow, Rachel thought, the guards missed me, but before long they will definitely want to try me out. She felt sure she couldn't expect to get through even another day without being noticed.

Ordinarily Rachel would have expected her breasts, which had definitely not been out of sight, to attract attention. But here, they didn't seem unusual. Rachel had seen several girls in the opposing row of cells as well-endowed as herself. Or nearly so.

But her hair, her hair. It would give her away. The guards would surely spot her tomorrow. Do they have the fights every night? she wondered. She shuddered. That's what they'll make me do, she told herself. I'll have to hit a woman I don't even know, I'll have to try to hurt her, to swing my fist at her face and knock her down. And I have to try to win. I have to try as hard as I can. If I lose...

Another shudder passed through her, and seemed to keep shaking her. She found she was crying. I want to be home, I want to be home, I want....

I will be home, she told herself firmly. I'm lucky, even if I don't feel lucky. I've got people working to get me out of here. The embassy has to know I'm here by now. That part, making her government aware of her captivity, that part must already be done.

In the cell next to Rachel, the little pixie girl who'd "won" the second fight had stopped crying... no, Rachel could hear a soft hiccupping sound of stifled sobs. Rachel's heart went out to her. So sweet, so delicate. It has to be a mistake, her being here. She has to have got caught up in something she didn't understand. Or she could even be a completely innocent bystander, mistaken for someone else, and now looking ahead to years of agony, to endless repeats of what she'd been through tonight.

After I get free, Rachel told herself, I have to tell her story, hers and all of the other girls here. None of them deserve what is happening. No human does. Caught in a meat grinder, in a system gone mad.

I do need to try to get some sleep, she advised herself. Obviously all of the girls were preparing to settle in for the night -- gratefully, no doubt. It seemed that the lights would be left on. At least the women in the cells were trying to sleep with them on. Oh, of course, thought Rachel. The dogs. They have to be able to see what they're guarding.

Rachel sat on the floor of her cell, and with awkward movements curled up on the floor, having to curl into a still tighter ball than most of the other girls just to find room for herself in the tiny cell. Her chains clinked, their restraint making it even harder to find some position that was remotely comfortable. She focused her mind on the future, the excitement of being freed, the satisfaction of telling her story to shocked officials who would set the wheels in motion to free all of these other girls. With a vision of the president of Irkhetnia himself on trial for crimes against humanity, with herself as the triumphant key witness, Rachel drifted off to sleep.

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