From orbit, she had assumed it was just an illusion, a trick of the light as it filtered through the atmosphere, but the sand actually was red, almost like blood. It was beautiful. The endless landscape of great hills of sand was a sea of frozen waves in every hue of red one could imagine.

As she turned about to watch the crimson dust trickle over her feet and down the dune like water an alarm sounded. Her suit helmet warning read that she was out of air in her pack. The mission briefing had said that Severus’ atmosphere was breathable, it may even be inhabited she remembered. I guess I am going to find out, she thought nervously. The faceplate slid silently into the body of the helmet and it felt as if someone had hit her with a blowtorch. The shock of it knocked her off her feet and she rolled helplessly to the foot of the huge red dune in a cloud of dust.

Leah blinked rapidly as she coughed up half a desert and struggled to her feet. Then with another choking cough she scrubbed frantically at her close-cropped hair to free it of sand.

“It looks like the intel was correct, perhaps some of their exiles do survive here,” she addressed the empty landscape.

Sub-Commander Leah Vane was a recon officer with the Matriarch 41st Scouts. She had been attached to a heavy patrol squadron that had been probing Raw’s outer defences. They turned out to be good.

Before the mission, Leah had entertained the fantasy that her squadron would overwhelm the whole barbarian planet, although early reports had warned them that the Raw might possess some monitors. They had. Worse still, as many as 23 up-to-date monitors had been supported by three heavy cruisers with an escort of at least nine destroyers. The Matriarch’s five heavy hyper-corvettes had not stood a chance.

Leah had been circling behind Severus in a scout plane in an attempt to scan the orbital base when the enemy fleet had come from nowhere. The battle had lasted just eight minutes. Two of the corvettes had been destroyed outright, she had seen the violet blooms of their demise. Two more had been crippled and before she lost contact had already signalled their surrender. The fifth, her own ship, had turned and fled its fate unknown.

She had felt a mix of anger and grief at the disaster but had not had time to dwell on it as her AI informed her of three heavy fighters closing on her position. Her scout was unarmed and unable to jump out of the system unsupported, which left her three choices, surrender, self-destruct, or Severus.

Severus. She took it in. She had no communications and one litre of water. So far the enemy had made no attempt to recover her, which was odd, her suit distress call had been broadcasting for three minutes before she remembered to shut it off. Was she glad? She knew that the desert covered most of the planet. Less than a quarter was water and that largely in the form of temporary lakes. If there were any inhabitants then the chance of finding a settlement had to be diminishingly remote. She cursed herself for not hitting the self-destruct.

“You coward,” she yelled at the empty sand.


Randall all but heaved the animal over the ridge as he willed it on. About now he was ready for a real drink, but in the heat alcohol was out of the question. Come to that, he might have settled for water but his pride in his own resilience held him back.

The toad-horse he rode had no such requirements. Ironically its forbears had been genetically developed from a hippopotamus, which meant water horse. The engineers had ensured that the toad-horse needed less water than a camel, yet was still equally at home on Raw or Severus. Slob, as he called her, had cost him a fortune, but then after his exile he had plenty to spare.

Exile. Even unspoken the word was bitter in his mouth. Still it beat slavery and if he died here, then at least he hadn’t given up, a fighter to the last. His only real regret was that less than a month after his sentence the war had started. Would he be here now if he could have fought in a real war? What was the point of regret? Now he would never know.

On Raw Mark Randall had always been a fighter. First, he had served in the military. He had craved what little combat he had seen, but even after 21 years, it had been all too brief. The arena had been a good outlet for some of his violence. He had been champion four times with sword and shield. That career had been cut short by his conviction for illegal edge-fights. He had been good on the black fight circuit too, with the scars to prove it. If two grown men wanted to risk all in a death-fight then who was to say that it is forbidden?

He had refused the bond-service penalty outright. That was almost unheard of on Raw. There was no dishonour to bond-service, but something in him… he could not explain. Finally he had been given a choice, the mines or to serve his bondsman-service as a guard on one of the outer islands.

Seven years on Race had been better than he could have hoped. Pirates constantly beset the island and he had quickly risen to the highest rank possible for a bondsman. Then he had met Ellen. Once his sentence had been served, they had married. He had as good as been assured of a post as a guard officer and their life together on Race would have been the closest to happiness he could ever aspire to.

He could not bear to think on the rest. Ellen was gone and the man responsible was dead at his hands. What did he care if they called it murder?

As he finally topped the ridge, he was disappointed that the vista contained only more of the same. What was it that his contact had said? The nearest settlement was northeast from the scheduled landing. Nearest maybe, but how far was that? He scanned the horizon where the multi-red plane met the azure sky. Sure enough to the northeast were the signs of faint clouds. Water? Probably and on this world water undoubtedly meant a chance of a settlement.


Boss wiped the sweat from the back of his neck. Eighty years he had been here, from swab to number one. He had been on Severus twice as long as he ever lived on Raw and yet it wasn’t home. There were 185 of them in Milk City, 143 had been born here and those bastards on Raw didn’t even care.

He crooked a finger and his number three slave stepped forward and poured him a drink. He had bought her seven years before and only now was she beginning to be house trained. She had been a lawyer back on Raw he was told. What the frig did he need with a lawyer? Boss regarded her and smiled. She smiled back shyly. I bet you wished you had taken the slave option back on Raw when you had it? He thought.

He contemplated having her then, but the slightest hint of a breeze took his attention. The rippled water on Lake Honey was like art, second only to his favourite moment of the day. Raw rise.

As he watched, Raw’s rim broke the horizon. At first it appeared as an elongated curved X. A mirage he knew. The edge of the rim was reflected in the haze. Then little-by-little it took form and the solid blue disk ascended.

“Do you wish you were home?” He asked.

Button was flustered. Was his question rhetorical? Was he even talking to her? If she guessed wrong she would be spanked at least. Whipped more likely.

He turned and smiled at her.

“I won’t eat you.”

Her hand went to her bottom and quietly rubbed.

“You answered me back before. You can answer a question when asked.”

She looked from him to the rising planet that dominated the sky, which would soon bring a welcome cooling.

“Honestly I don’t know.” She surprised him with her answer. “Being a slave here is less demeaning somehow. I couldn’t bare the idea of being a luxury toy back on Raw. Perhaps even in the same town where I used to be an optimate. Here at least I have a purpose.”

He nodded understanding. One day Button would make a fine wife for someone. Then he turned back to the emerald-flecked sapphire sphere as it cast its purple shadow on red.


Leah crossed the tracks in the sand around mid-afternoon. Four or five pack animals she guessed and with them, she counted at least seven people. At least she knew now that Severus was inhabited. As she pondered on whether or not they might be friendly, she took another pull of her ever-dwindling water bottle. I don’t suppose it matters she thought in resignation. I have until around mid-morning tomorrow to find water or I die.

She checked her stinger for reassurance and then set off in pursuit of the travellers. The stinger fired only 30 rounds and she only had one spare clip. Not mention that as a recon pilot she was hardly a marksman and definitely did not belong on the ground. Guns were toys for men and generally had no place in the Matriarch. One of the few uses for men were as shock troops, big, stupid and above all expendable. For once in her life she wished she had a few around.

As she followed what she guessed must be some sort of desert caravan, she did not see she was not alone.

The raiders had been about to close up on the traders when they saw the armoured figure cross the trail. That had thrown them, especially when the unknown warrior hefted a gun before setting off after their quarry.

“He has a gun,” Sheba hissed.

“An offworlder?” Ben wondered aloud.

“Maybe,” Hank agreed. “Why else would he be out here alone and with a gun?”

“Shit man, guns are rarer than water,” Liz said, stating the obvious.

“That was just what I was thinking,” Hank smiled. “It could be worth more than the whole caravan put together.”

The raiders, three men and two women kept their distance as they followed. Hank decided that they would attack after nightfall.


Randall watched as Raw rose ever higher to fill the sky. For a moment he weakened at the sight of his home, the closest now he would ever get. Then his hand strayed to the hilt of his sword and he steeled himself.

It would be dark soon and he decide to camp on the high ground. Slob was beginning to get sluggish in the cool of the evening anyway.

Ever conscious that he was in a strange land he decided against a fire. His light ceramic armour had thermal settings anyway, so he didn’t need one.

As darkness fell the sky exploded into a myriad of stars. He could only imagine the sight when Raw finally set and he was in full dark. Then he saw them. Not one, but two points of light ahead of him. One near-to and the other maybe no more than a day away, although in the dark it was hard to tell. It was all he could do not to strike camp, but his warrior instinct held him. Riding Slob, he would close with the other travellers soon enough, if that’s what they were.

Comforted by the lights he drank deeply from his water ration and chomped through a travel steak and biscuits. So there were indeed settlements on Severus. He smiled and knowing that he was invisible in the night, he risked going to sleep.

Less than an hour later he was awoken by shots. A stinger, he knew the sound. But firearms were forbidden on both Raw and Severus, except those in the hands of the external military. Although he had trained with guns in basic, he had never used one in anger. Crossbows and swords were the only authorised weapons for dealing with bandits, lest criminals get their hands on anything more serious. What a stinger was doing on Severus, Randall could only guess. He listened again. The shots were about a league and a half away.

It took him an age to get Slob awake and on her feet. Even then, she would not gallop, not that a toad-horse was ever very quick. Nevertheless, he closed on the sound of the shots in good time.


Leah risked picking up the pace even though she would use more water, but after two hours, she began to regret her foolhardiness. Even the servos in her suit, which made a faint cawing sound, seemed to mock her.

Then as first Raw had obscured the sun, and then true night had fallen, she saw the campfire perhaps a kilometre ahead. She stopped and pawed at her stinger. Diplomacy might be the best first option she decided and left the weapon holstered.

She approached the camp carefully, making sure she scoped it out before she announced herself. Once she was sure there were no pickets, she hunkered down behind a rise to watch.

She had been right. There were five camels and seven people, four women and three men. Three of the women seemed to be in a huddle near the fire, while the fourth joined the men as they set down for an evening meal. Okay then, she gritted her teeth and stood up.

“Hello the camp.”

One of the men drew a sword and another aimed a crossbow at her.

“Who’s there?” The third man called.

“Sub-Commander Leah Vane,” Leah replied. “I am with the Matriarch, I crashed here yesterday.”

“Step forward,” the man ordered her. Leah didn’t like his tone but did as she was told.

“Sub-Commander, Sub-Commander of what? You look more like a runaway, except for the suit that is.”

“I told you, I am with the Matriarch. I crashed.”

“Never heard of it, who are you with?”

Leah might have gasped. How could they not have heard of the Matriarch? Even the primitives on Raw had heard of it from the days before the war.

“I think she may be an offworlder Stephan,” the woman spoke.

“An offworlder, what from Raw?”

“Not if she crashed. I heard rumours last time we were in Steel Town that the world beyond had started to open up again. Some of the recent exiles had brought news.” The woman looked as if she was afraid the man might do something unwise.

“I’m Leah,” Leah said again. “Who are you?”

“I am Stephan Grind. This is the Grind Caravan. This is my wife Petra and my partner Cold Billy.”

“And the others?” Leah nodded to the women who had huddled together even more closely since she had made herself known.

“Tomas, my guard,” he said indicating the man with the crossbow. Then he paused.

“The women?”

“How the hell would I know? They are merchandise.”

“You’re damn slavers?” Leah was horrified.

“Not exactly…” Petra started to explain, but before she could say more things changed.

The arrow came from nowhere and took Tomas in the throat.

“Raiders,” Stephan screamed and drew his sword.

Leah turned and fired wildly into the shadows. Despite her training, panic overtook her and in a moment she half emptied her magazine without even seeing the enemy.

It was impossible to tell how many there were. First an arrow shot would come from the left and then the right. Someone else would rush at them in the shadows and then retreat.

“Grab the crossbow,” Stephan yelled.

Leah stared at the dead man in the firelight, the first she had ever seen and then at his weapon. Petra made for it but an arrow narrowly missed her causing her to dive for cover. Leah fired the rest of her clip in the direction of the shot and then fumbled with the spare clip. Her palms were sweating and the plastic ammo refill slipped through her fingers and on to the ground.

“Shit, where…?” She scrabbled about for it until another arrow shot whizzed past her. Then she ran.

Somewhere there was a clash of steel, Cold Billy and Stephan were putting up a fight. Leah didn’t wait and ran into the shadows.

“Get her.” It was a woman’s voice, Leah looked around and saw that she had two pursuers. She fired an impotent click in their direction and then ran.


The camp was towards the end of a narrow valley. It was a good position, but a low narrow ridge that ran like a spine from one side had been good cover for the attackers in the darkness.

Randall took all this in with a glance. He also knew that one of the defenders was down and the remaining two were hard pressed by three swordsmen. Another had fled pursued by two more, which left four women huddled by the fire.

The fight at the camp would last a few more minutes yet, he decided, so he turned his attention to the pursuit.

Slob lurched lethargically but even so, quickly closed the gap on his quarry. Women he realised. He leapt from the saddle and dropped the nearest with a sword hilt tap to her neck. The second turned and sliced inexpertly at him with a short sword. A routine forward circle-spin with his sword sent the woman’s blade spinning from her hand. Then to his amazement, his opponent’s head turned to see where her sword had gone. An amateur, he thought incredulously. When she turned back, he tapped her below her throat and sent her unconscious to the floor.

The third woman in the exotic space armour had not even stopped for breath as she fled into the desert. He considered giving chase, but decided securing the camp was more urgent.

A short distance away Petra kept herself between the fight and the women, considering her options. If the raiders prevailed, she would arrive at her next settlement as a slave again. Well, easy come easy go, but it would mean that Stephan would be dead and that brought a tear.

So far it did not look good. Stephan and Cold Billy were holding their own as they stood back-to-back warding off the circling raiders who slashed wildly at them with each pass, but they would not last much longer.

Suddenly there was a wet clunk in the shadows and something rolled into the firelight. The women screamed. It was a head. By the time Petra looked back at the fight one of the raiders was spinning round and something was driven through his chest. Cold Billy fell upon the remaining attacker and with a ferocity she hoped she would forget and made a bloody mess of him.

“The woman is she with you?” The large stranger strode out of the shadows as if he owned the desert.

“What? I…” Stephan was in a daze.

“He means the offworlder,” Petra explained, still reeling with the idea that out of the vastness of the desert would come a rescuer.

“The Matriarch pilot? No. Wasn’t she one of them?” Cold Billy seemed as unfazed by the violence as the stranger.

“Matriarch?” Randall’s eyes narrowed.

“That’s what she said,” Stephan supplied, pulling himself together. “Thank you friend, you may have saved us.”

“Randall,” Randall said. “I am an exile.”

Stephan nodded and made his introductions.

“We will be at Milk and Honey tomorrow, why not join us.”

“Milk and Honey?”

“Milk City on Lake Honey, it is the nearest settlement.”

“Oh, yes I think that’s where I am headed.”

“Tell me Mr Randall, how long have you been on Severus?” Cold Billy asked, not once looking up from rifling the bodies of the dead attackers.

“Since yesterday.”

“Some reception,” Stephan laughed. “Welcome to Severus and again I thank you.”

“I will fetch the woman, she will die out there,” Randall said by way of an answer, uncomfortable with so much friendship after months of being vilified as a criminal.

“He is here one day and already he had won his first battle, made three new friends and earned himself a woman,” Petra could not keep the admiration and awe out her voice.

“Earned a woman?” Randall was puzzled again.

“It’s the Code here on Severus. Most women need protection. A man saves a woman or if she relies on him for survival then she is either his wife or his slave.”

“Can’t she be a sister or an employee?” Randall knew he was mocking them.

“If you are a good brother or father then you will sell your sister to a good man, as these girls have been,” Stephan explained nodding at his ‘merchandise.’ “As for employees…”

Stephan began to laugh.

“The main currency on Severus is barter,” Cold Billy explained. “After water, the biggest commodity is service.”

“I intend to thrive here, I would hear more,” Randall wished he had been quicker to strip the bodies now. Everything is a resource he realised.

“You had best get the woman first and then join us for a meal.”

“There are two more. I didn’t kill them.”


“Well they weren’t fighters that’s for sure.”

“Ha,” Stephan clapped him on the shoulder. “I’ll collect them for you. Give you a good price too, if you want.”

Randall grunted and considered those words.

“Fetch the offworlder and join us. I will explain.”


Randall found Slob dozing a short way off.

“Come on girl just a little more work before bed.”

The toad-horse took half a step forward as Randall mounted her and then tried to return to her slumber. Her rider felt behind her ears to reassure himself that he could get another hour’s work out of his steed, then he wafted a dried pepper flower under Slob’s nose. The change was miraculous and after rearing up a little, she grabbed the treat with her tongue and set off at a trot as was required of her.

It took twenty minutes to catch up with the woman. Randall hung back, watching as she staggered sideways in a futile attempt to climb a huge mountain of sand. She was clearly done in and now devoid of ammunition for her stinger and down to her last mouthful of water, was heading for certain death.

Randall watched as she stumbled and rolled to the foot of the dune. After a few moments, she climbed painfully to her feet and tried her ascent again. So exhausted was she that the mounted warrior trotted right up next to her without being seen.

“We’re late for supper woman,” Randall said as he grabbed her with one arm and swung her face down over his thighs. Despite the space armour, she was remarkably light.

“Wha…” The woman flopped about like a fish on land, an almost literal truth in her case. She looked up at him with half dead eyes and mumbled, “Who are you?” Then she passed out.

Slob made good time trotting back to camp. By the time they got there, the two raider women were tied up and lay face down next to the other women who were enjoying their supper.

“The hero returns,” Petra called to him. “You found her I see.”

“She may need some help,” Randall replied.

“She’ll be fine after a little water and some sleep,” Petra replied as she began working at clips and buttons in an attempt to remove Leah’s space armour.

“It’s a little small for practical use, but there may be some useful components built in,” Stephan said weighing up the salvage value of Leah’s suit. “Which brings us to the question of trade.”

“Yes you were saying,” Randall accepted a cup from Cold Billy and took his place beside the fire.

“Like many exiles who first come here, you are rich. You have a toad-horse and several kilos of gear. But how long will your food last? How useful is the equipment you have brought?”

“I have…” Randall began.

“No doubt you have, its not my business,” Stephan cut him off. “You look capable and I have seen you fight, but you are a babe here. First off, don’t start telling people you don’t know, what you have. Second, work out the real value of your skills and of what you have. You have three women, man you are rich. But what are their skills? The two raiders are young and healthy, but will be troublesome to train. The offworlder may know tech or have medical knowledge. Under all that body armour she is a looker, believe me I have a good eye.”

“I will not take an unwilling woman,” Randall said flatly.

“A week on Severus, a day even and they are all willing enough. We all are. We must do what we must.”

“My only skills are to do with fighting and hunting,” Randall said bluntly. “I am not concerned about water, but food will be a problem in the long run. What do people eat here?”

Stephan frowned. He was tempted to ask why Randall didn’t need water, but knew better.

“All life on Raw gathers at the lakes and the trails between. Apart from lakeside gardens, there are fish and other water creatures. Sand Lobsters make good eating if you can catch one. Sand Hopers are foul and there is virtually no market for them, but they will keep you alive. Hunting is poor here. The only other things to hunt are raiders and Rock Dragons. Both are just as likely to hunt you. Besides cannibalism is taboo.”

Randall was about to protest.

“This is Severus, believe me everything has been tried at one time or another.”

The men talked long into the night. Seeing as he was now a guard down, Stephan offered to make Randall a partner if he put up the two raider women as a stake. He also urged him to keep the offworlder for himself.

In the end, Randall accepted a rare book on a Survival in return for giving Stephan the Stinger and the rest of Leah’s gear. They also agreed that Stephan would barter for the raider women at Milk and Honey in return for a commission in the form of what Stephan called a barter debt, which was redeemable at some future date.

The question of Leah’s status was left open until Randall heard what she had to say for herself.

“Trust me, I will slave her myself if you don’t want her. It’s her only fate here on Severus unless you want to marry her,” Stephan urged.

“I wonder what your wife would say to that?”

“Ask her.”


The separation between night and day crossed the desert faster than a man can run. One side of the line was still all shades of dark blue, purple and grey and the other vivid red and orange. Before it reached the camp, the sun burst over the far off low hills and the valley was washed with a warm russet glow.

Leah blinked hard and worked her mouth free of the stale taste. As she sat up she realised that she wasn’t wearing her armour. She felt naked in her one-piece clinging white body stocking and her arms closed across her breasts defensively.

“Your boots are there, you won’t need the rest.” The woman who spoke appeared to be in her mid 30s, but on Raw and Severus, Leah knew that she could be any age.

“My stinger?” Leah’s voice was thick.

“Your man traded it for a survivalists guide and a few other things.”

“My man? What are you talking about?”

“You don’t remember shooting off half your ammo before running away last night?”

Leah blushed she did. Her first taste of close quarter combat and she had run.

“I see that you do. Well you lost and now you are a captive.”

“I wasn’t attacking you.” Leah was indignant.

“I know that, but what difference does it make? This is Severus. If you can’t stand up for yourself then you are goods.”

“Are you ‘goods’?” Leah challenged angrily.

“I was for a good many years. My Pa sold me at 15 to a barkeep in Tinsel Town. I learnt a trade.” Petra shrugged. “I am a good trader. That’s why Stephan bought me and made me his wife.”


“That my sweet is Severus. Get used to it.”

“Look I can see the way of things. If you help me, I can reward you. If I can get a message to my people then I can get off this planet.”

“A message to your people?” Petra spat. “What good will that do you? The Raw control everything in near space and from what I have seen of your military prowess, that ain’t going to change any time soon.”

Leah scowled at the sand. There was some truth in the statement. The Matriarch had greatly underestimated the Raw. Her mind raced with the possibilities of rescue and above all of not being rescued.

“Who is this man you spoke of?”

“He is over there packing the toad-horse.” Petra pointed to the large man in archaic battle armour. He looked like something out of one of the forbidden underground teen magazines of Leah’s youth.

“Okay then,” Leah sighed under her breath and reached for her boots, “let us see if we can do a deal.”


Randall hummed a little tune to himself as he checked out his pack. He had been tested in battle and had prevailed. Also, Slob was on good form that morning and the portable condensers were working better than he could have hoped. He actually had more water than he had when he arrived.

Not that he was complacent. Nothing moved in the camp without escaping his notice. So when the Matriarch woman started walking over he watched her without seeming to react.

Apart from the slave-like military buzz-cut she was beautiful. The figure hugging white thermal suit revealed a figure that would command a good price on the courtesan market on Raw. He almost wished he could buy into this enforced enslavement deal they had here on Severus.

“You.” The woman barked at him as if she was still aboard her spacecraft.

“Slob doesn’t talk,” Randall grinned.

“What?” Leah was thrown. She had rarely ever needed to speak to a man before. Even in the military, there were special officers to give the male warriors their orders.

“I assumed you were talking to my mount. I was just pointing out that she doesn’t speak.”

“Is that some kind of childish wit?” Leah asked impatiently putting her hands on her hips.

Randall cocked an eyebrow in her direction.

“My, my, someone is brave this morning.”

Leah blushed. So she had found out that she was useless in a fire fight. But that was men’s work anyway.

“I am Sub-Commander Leah Vane, I understand that you rescued me last night.”

“I understand that too.”

“Ah,” Leah breathed out heavily. “I suppose I should say thanks.”

“It’s an improvement on ‘you.’”

“Well that’s what I want to talk to you about. If you can help me get a message off this planet I could… well anything you want. You are an exile right? Well, if you help me get back to my people there would be great rewards for someone like you who knows about the Raw military.”

Randall froze. For a moment his whole existence could be defined by a small spec that had caught his eye as she spoke. It was the blood rage. He had long since learned to control it. He forced himself to take even breaths and then his hands went to his sword belt which he unfastened and slung across his saddle.

“Tell me Leah Vane, have you ever been spanked?”

“What?” Leah wondered if she had heard him.

“You are a snotty spoilt brat who is barely fit to command herself, let alone whatever it was they put you in charge of. And you have the gall to assume that I will turn traitor on the word of a slip of a girl like you.”

Leah’s mouth worked silently, she had no idea how to respond to that.

Randall took two strides towards her and upended her over one knee.

“What are you doing?” Leah raged. “You…”

Randall noted that her bottom filled out her body suit with an epic satisfaction as it wriggled on his thigh. Then with his arms as a piston, he began to spank her with a controlled vigour.

“You beast, you barbarian, how dare you, you…” Leah spluttered in disbelief.

But Randall had set himself to giving her spanking that she would never forget. The rest of the camp drawn by the unfolding drama stopped what they were doing and began to laugh.

“Please, look I’m sorry, I…” Leah’s breathing was ragged and she could not remember anything ever hurting as much.

“Shush little girl, you’re not sorry, you only think you’re sorry. Sorry is what you will be if you ever talk to me like that again. Do you understand?”

Her bottom was firm and yielded only a little as he spanked her. Most satisfying was the sound, which echoed of the valley walls with real bite.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Leah started to cry. An officer in the Matriarch reduced to sobbing like a child.

“Listen brat, I am taking you as far as this Milk City and then you can try and persuade the natives there of your master plan, but until then you don’t need to talk to me,” Randall growled as he spanked on.

The spanking continued for a while longer until all semblance of resistance had gone out of her. Then Leah was dropped like rag doll on to the ground.

“You bastard,” she spat grasping her bottom with both hands.

“What?” Randall asked allow his voice to take on an edge.

Leah’s eyes went wide in fear and she held up one hand in surrender.

“That’s what I thought.”


Leah tried to tell herself that she had only lost the first battle. But the truth was she had never felt so wretched and at the moment it felt as if she had single-handedly lost the entire war.

As she trudged behind the ugly beast, and the brute he was riding, she added mentally, she had never been so aware of her bottom. Even an hour later, both her nether globes fizzed behind her. The humiliation was bad enough, especially just after, when everyone openly laughed at her. But now it was even worse somehow, because everyone seemed to have forgotten the incident as if it was totally unimportant. She an officer in the Matriarch Space navy had been dismissed like an errant child.

She considered the rest of the women in their little convoy. First there was Petra, who seemed to be totally comfortable her complicity in subjugating the other women. Even the three young women who had been with them before the attack, chatted happily as they walked along. Petra had said that on Severus, most women had been in their position at one time or another. It was accepted practice and an integral part of the economy.

Only the two raider women looked unhappy. They had been stripped down to the bare minimum of clothing and had been bound at the wrists and by the neck to a leash hanging from one of the camels.

Stephan had suggested that Randall do the same to her, but he had just laughed and said that Leah knew what to expect if she gave him any more trouble. That had been the most humiliating thing of all.

All morning they pressed on under the unrelenting azure sky in a sea of red. Then at midday they rested in the available shade. The heat was bad enough, but Leah struggled with the brightness that bleached out the sky and rendered her almost unable to look above her feet.

“Raw will rise soon and the afternoon will be a lot more pleasant,” Petra told her as she offered some water.

Petra seemed to be holding out an olive branch with her friendly tone, although Leah was tempted to tell her exactly what she could do with the hated planet, but she was too tired to argue.

Then as promised, the great blue disc broke the horizon, a deep ultramarine in a cyan sky. The green-brown islands on its surface looked almost close enough to jump onto. Even the unrelenting desert of red softened with its coming and the shadows of the dunes turned purple.

The rest of their hike was almost pleasant in the cool of the afternoon and when Lake Honey appeared in the long valley ahead, Leah could have cried.

Then there was Milk City. An odd place. Leah hadn’t known what to expect, but the well-appointed red mud-brick and sandstone domes was not it. Most of the buildings were underground and only a few towers, including the home of someone called Boss were visible from any distance.


“Welcome Stephan, I see you have a good crop as usual,” Boss said expansively as he emerged from the foot of his tower. “Some wild ones as well I see.”

“We were attacked by raiders, but we prevailed with the help of Randall here. He is a recent exile.”

“Not your biggest prize though it would seem.” Boss looked Leah up and down appreciatively.

“An offworlder, she says she is with the Matriarch, whatever that may be. It seems that in the stars beyond war has come.”

“I had heard that Raw had made contact with other worlds again. Mr Randall, is it? What do you know?”

“The Matriarch is a society ruled by women. They have been trading with Raw for a few years and had even sent emissaries. I heard that any man they sent and a good many of the women opted to live on Raw once they set foot here. Those that did not must have returned with tales of our ‘medieval’ society. They believed we were both dangerous and weak and sought to annex us.” Randall stared hard at Leah as he spoke.

“You are an anachronism. Men are little more than a mutation. You have your uses, but your instincts are to destroy societies not to stabilise them,” Leah spat.

“She is a captive?” Boss was incredulous.

“She is,” Stephan answered, in case Randall said something that was less than diplomatic.

“Then she should be taught some manners,” Boss growled.

“Do not be afraid of the clucking of a frightened hen Boss,” Petra soothed.

“Bah. It’s jus her manners, not her words that offend.”

“I speak as I will, you, you barbarian. If you have a care and lend me some assistance, then I will put a word in for you once the Matriarch conquers this system.”

“You will, will you? I am going to have you flogged you…” Boss was furious.

Petra had done her best to shield the girl, but she wasn’t about to cross Boss.

“The woman is in my care, she will only be punished at my command,” Randall said simply.

“Listen son, I am Boss here. You are new and a valuable asset if I’m a judge, but in this town my word is law.”

Randall saw that Petra was looking daggers at him and Stephan was vigorously patting the air with the flat of both palms in a gesture that suggested he should tread carefully. Only Cold Billy seemed to be enjoying the situation.

“I mean no offence, but the woman is in my charge for now.” Randall stood his ground.

Boss sized the large warrior up. He did not know Stephan’s position with this man, but he could tell from his body language that Cold Billy would stand with the stranger. That would mean complications. Besides, if only half of what Stephan had said was true, Boss knew that he probably lose some men before he prevailed using force. He did get where he was by resorting to violence when there was another way.

“As a favour to you as my guest I will leave her punishment to you. As Petra says, her words are of no import.”

“No import? I am Sub-Commander…”

“Shut up woman,” Randall roared.

Leah jumped suddenly afraid. Petra shook her head in disbelief. The woman was afraid of Randall, when a child could see he was soft when it came to women and despite his prowess, he was restricted by his own sense of honour. Yet she would argue with Boss who would kill in a heart beat if it suited his purpose.

Boss smiled a politician’s smile and walked away before the offworlder cut her own throat.

“I don’t say this to offend you, but do you have the balls to punish a woman in your charge?” Petra hissed.

Randall glared at her, but Petra pressed a slave switch into his hand and whispered, “use it for her sake as well as yours.”

Leah saw something that looked like a cross between a bar and shop and started walking towards it. She needed information and allies. Someone in this dump must have the wit to see that she could offer much for some assistance.

“Where do you think you are going?”

“To get a room if it is any of your business, which it is definitely not.” Then to a passing stranger she yelled, “Hey you, is there a hotel in this town?”

Randall braced the switch between both hands and gave a heavy sigh. His wife had been like this at times. Instead of being sad at the memory, he was strangely cheered. Oh well, duty calls, he thought.

The bemused local was taken aback by being addressed by the strangely dressed woman, not least because the word ‘hotel’ whilst not being immediately familiar rattled some thing loose in his brain.

“An inn, somewhere to stay, duh,” Leah added impatiently.

“There are rooms for Stephan’s party around the back,” the man began, remembering the word suddenly from a novel he once read.

“Thank you,” Randall said walking up behind and clamping a hand on the back of her neck. “You come with me.”

“Take your hands off me you…” He didn’t wait, but heaved her over his shoulder and headed off where the man had directed them.

“Put me down, you… you,” she didn’t have the vocabulary to hand and in any case her raging was drawing unsympathetic eyes. Instead, she opted for fuming in silence as she viewed the world from upside down.

Randall was directed by an amused girl to some steps at the back of the building, which led to some guest quarters overlooking the lake.

“We’ll take this room I think,” Randall growled as he found an open door that led to a Spartan and obviously unoccupied room. He dumped Leah on the bed and pulled the switch from his belt.

Leah was set to rage at him again now that they were alone but the words caught in her throat when she caught sight of the switch in his hand.

“Wh-what are you going to do with that?” But by some instinct, part of her already knew.

“I am going to do you a favour. I am going to teach you for the last time that we have left the world we knew behind and we need to stay focused on this one if we are going to survive. Now remove that thing.”


“Your clothing, take it off,” he thundered.

She lunged at him trying to remember her unarmed training. She hadn’t been very enthusiastic at the time, but she had managed to throw a semi-cooperative woman to the floor once. This time the result was pathetic; he stood more than a head and shoulders over her and had almost twice her mass. And he was fast, although he did at least arch and eyebrow with surprise.

He caught her and turned her about easily. Then in one motion tore her thermal jump suit from the back of her neck to mid thigh leaving her half denuded.

“Oh my god,” she gasped as she felt the warm breeze at her back.

Then he thrust her forward onto the bed and put his knee on the small of her back. She managed to look back to confirm that she was naked behind, just in time to see him pat-squeeze her bare bottom with his hand. Having never been touched so intimately before, the sensation was electric.

“Get your hands off me you brute, you absolute barbarian. Just you wait until…”

“I am so tired of your arrogant ignorance, not to mention your insistence on giving everyone orders. I am going to give you what you should have had before you were ever put in charge of anyone.” Randall looked down on the dome of her rather comely bottom, this wasn’t going to be such a chore, he thought.

The switch drew a line of fire across her bottom that stole her breath and she gave a wide-eyed gasp. As she struggled to breathe, he let loose with another and immediately after, a third stroke. Then her lungs finally got with the programme and she let out a long angry incoherent wail.

There were three plum coloured lines across her firm prominent buttocks now and as he watched they began to rise in tender ridges. Ellen had marked easily too.

Randall placed three more across the vivid marks, taking no care if he crossed the lines, but too many fell on her thighs for his liking. Leah herself was beyond caring about such subtleties. By now her bottom was on fire as she struggled to reach behind his knee to shield her embattled flesh.

Then he seized her by the waist and hauled into a kneeling up position that unbalanced her. It occurred to her that he might take her sexually now, and with that thought she realised she was aroused and that she would almost welcome such attention as a respite.

However, he soon renewed the thrashing, the position change simply allowing more access to the underside of her bottom where she sat.

“Please no,” she wailed as he resumed the switching with another sharp volley of eight or nine strokes.

Randall noted that the whole of her bottom from her cleft-top to just below where her thighs met her bottom was a mass of welts with little unmarked flesh between, something still to aim for, he thought bitterly and lay on again.

By now, Leah’s howls could be heard throughout the town and even Boss could hear them from atop of his tower. He chuckled to himself and took a long cool drink of water.

Petra noted how the girls awaiting sale became flustered and eyed each other nervously and a broad grin spread across her face. There is hope for the new boy yet, she thought happily. Leah too I hope, although she will no doubt not see it that way for a while yet.

Randall fancied that he had drawn little on her right buttock and although Ellen would have called him soft for holding back, he was well aware that Leah had never before be handled so.

Leah herself lay broken with sobs on the bed.

“I am done with your attitude and your poor manners, do you understand?” He hoped she did because he sure as hell was spent.

She answered only with sobbing.

“Do you understand?” he bellowed.

“Yes,” she gasped at last, desperate for him not to start over.

“Good. You will remain here until I work out what to do with you.”


Leah had no idea how long she lay crying on the bed, although she knew that the fire in her bottom kept searing her ever more deeply until she wondered if the aftermath was not worse than the initial thrashing. If only she could stop crying, or it would stop hurting. When she risked a glanced down at her behind, she was surprised to see it only looked twice its normal size instead of the 20 times it actually felt.

Then finally as the pain abated a little, she had to contend with the humiliation. She hated herself for not getting up and confronting him, but the truth was she didn’t dare. She was beaten, for now at least, anyway, and everyone knew it. The thought brought on a fresh rush of tears, but then strangely, in some indefinable way, she actually felt better about it.

She had no idea how long she slept, but someone in the room awoke her. For a moment, she fancied it was Randall, come to say sorry he had been hard on her. A projection of her need for his approval of her, a psychologist on Matriarch would have said, the realisation angered her, but fear held her tongue.

There was a clink of glass or ceramic and then she saw that it was Petra.

“Lie still, I have something to ease the soreness,” Petra said kindly.

Leah blushed at the intrusion of hard fingers on her bottom, but they brought something cool and soothing and she melted at the touch. Although she squirmed and gasped at a fresh touch of pain, it was a good sting that was almost addictive, a clean sharpness that swept aside the raw burning graze on her behind.

Petra’s hands got bolder as Leah cooed and groaned and she took great handfuls of the girls flesh and let her buttocks slide through her fingers the welted texture an all too familiar sensation.

“Better?” Petra breathed.

“Much,” Leah sighed.

“You won’t be able to sit down for a few days, but hopefully you won’t need to. Now what to do about some clothes? You are well and truly done with these.”

Leah suddenly realised that she was naked and if she was truly alone, then the only things she now had on this world were her boots. She tried to sit up, immediately announcing her regret with a yelp.

“Easy now, I warned you. You really won’t be able to sit for days,” Petra winced. “You have got some beautiful markings there, if he decides to sell you in the market tomorrow this evidence of your poor training could lower your price.”

“Sell me?” Leah was suddenly afraid he would. The ‘devil you know,’ she thought, as if that explained her reaction.

“Think of it like a bond price on Raw, only here it is a little more crude. Most women go through it at least once,” Petra explained misunderstanding Leah’s consternation. “I’ll see if I can find you some clothes, I may have an old skirt and shift, but my support bodice will be too small for you I think.”


Randall sat in the shade drinking mead. Market day was well underway and there was healthy bidding on everything from live chicks and camels to scrap tech components.

The main event of the day would be the slave auction. As well as Stephan’s three young girls, there were four other woman standing in the pen. Some Randall noticed were trying to entice the buyers they most liked the look of. However, most of the attention was reserved for the two raider women. They had been stripped naked and oiled. They were now kneeling on a raised dais with bound hands and feet. To stop their vocal protests, which had assailed the crowed at the start of the market, both wore a ball-gag.

That morning he had again asked Stephan what he should do about Leah. He had been adamant that the only alternative fate that Boss would accept after her outburst on the day of her arrival, was the block.

Why Randall should care, he didn’t know, but somehow he did not expect Leah to accept being sold lightly. He just knew that if he had chosen not to keep her, then she would be naked next to the raider women by now.

Nearby Leah was keeping well out of the way. It had been the first day that she could face leaving her room and she was relieved that she was not to be restrained. The clothes Petra had given her were strange, especially as there was no underwear and the feeling of being naked beneath her skirt was disconcerting. Not that she could have bourn the touch of anything against her bottom just yet. As Petra predicted, she was still completely unable to sit down.

Despite her reservations, she found the market fascinating, although the sight of the two naked women being leered at made her uncomfortable. However, it was hard to find any righteous sympathy for them after Petra had explained that had she fallen into their hands she would have met a similar fate in a raider camp or at another town.

What disgusted her even more was the behaviour of the other women being sold. Some of them seemed positively enthusiastic about their treatment.

Leah made a slow turn around the outside of the general gathering until she came to a lean-to bar. Petra had given her a few tabs, so she purchased a spiced-lemon water drink. It was truly unremarkable, being one step up from water, but it was all she could afford and it served to quench her thirst.

As she continued to watch the proceedings, she realised that some of the tech scraps being sold were part of her gear. Given some of the prices she again cursed her lack of fighting prowess in the encounter with the raiders.

There was some keen bidding and after a competitive flurry Boss bought her stinger for five camels, some miscellaneous gear and a 1,000 tabs.

“Damn I would have been rich,” she spat. “I might have even got the communicator working.”

“Only communicator working around here is the one at Iron Towers,” the woman at the bar said matter-of-factly.

“What was that?” Leah asked.

“Oh you were saying about the communicator, they don’t work too well on Severus. But they do say there is one at Iron Towers. I have even heard that they are in touch with offworlder traders, you know the black market.”

“Is that a fact?” Leah took a thoughtful sip.

“No it ain’t a fact, it’s a story. But don’t mean it ain’t true.”

“How far is Iron Towers?”

“Oh it is a good ways. Fifty or sixty leagues northwest on the iron road.” The woman did not look up but continued to mop down her bar area. Leah guessed she was used to just making idle conversation with customers and took little mind of what she was saying, so much the better then, Leah thought, as an idea formed in her mind.

“The iron road?”

“It’s a track. Runs from Crash in the east out to Iron Towers and the mines there.”

Leah didn’t want to seem too interested so she waited to see if more information was forthcoming before she pumped the woman for more. She didn’t have to wait long.

“We sometimes get the miners coming here from the north. Crash is too far I recon and its only 30 leagues along the lakeside road from the junction at Honey Falls.”

“Honey Falls. That’s the town at the other end of the lake?” It was an educated guess on Leah’s part.

“If you can call it that,” the woman spat. “Just a road stop and some fishing huts.”

“So Crash is too far then?” Leah had no idea where or what Crash was.

“Never been there myself,” the woman continued, “but I heard that it is a mighty fancy place. Must be 200 leagues further along the iron road from Honey Falls I guess.”

“So Iron Towers is nearer?”

“Half as far, less maybe. I comes from there originally. It took us, maybe a month to get here. Course I was with a trader caravan and they are slow. The miners make it in 10 days or so on camel back.”


The auction had gone well. In the end, Boss had bought the raider women. He had grinned with relish as he had laid a whip across each of their bare bottoms before having them released from their bonds. Although they had screamed curses at him at such treatment, afterwards it had rendered them sullen but compliant as they were led away.

Although the other girls were less dramatically treated, the whole episode was enough to convince Leah that she had to act.

Randall, who was still finding his feet in this world, was undecided what to do with Leah. If she did but know it, although he was sympathetic to her plight, he had yet to choose his own path on Severus and finding himself responsible for another was something he hadn’t counted on.

Leah, for her part was afraid and tempted to confide in Petra, desperate for some suggestion of a way back home and a real alternative while she waited.

Come on Leah, take a stand, she chided herself, there is no future for you here. The last hyper-corvette may still be in the system somewhere, but it won’t wait forever.

It was 10 days to Iron Towers the stupid woman had said. But how the hell do you ride a camel? Where could she get one? That day she had walked around the pens and they were all well guarded. Leah chewed the end of her thumb pensively as she concentrated on the problem.

Randall was asleep on the other side of the room. He had made no move to molest her or even secure her in anyway. Let something happen? She begged the darkness silently, anything to push her and make her decide.

The silence was an oppressive hush in her ears, like a seashell of her childhood. No an accusation of cowardice, she realised.

She kicked back the light coverings Petra had given her and dressed herself. There was no way she could risk taking anything else from Randall’s bags lest her hear her and anyway the bags themselves must weigh in at 50 kilos each. It was all Randall could do to heft one at a time down to Slob.

Slob. The toad-horse was not in the guarded pens. She had unsettled the camels and so Randall had tethered her outside their quarters.

Leah was excited now. The one thing she had noticed about Slob was that she was biddable. Biddable and quiet, Leah amended. The door creaked causing Randall to groan a little in his sleep. She paused. When he made no other sound, she crept from the room like a mouse.

Her first problem was the saddle. It was huge. But to her surprise it was light. Made of some strong but light alloys she realised, I must stop thinking of these people as primitive, she thought. The saddle went on easily once she worked out which way round it went. It had a padded saddle and an array of attachments for the tailor-made bags that Randall had in his room.

“I bet he has tech,” Leah whispered to Slob. She was tempted to go and look, but dismissed this as too dangerous. Then she saw the water skins hanging in what would be shade when the sun came up. They were both full.

She guessed that each of the skins held 25 to 30 litres each, more than enough to get her to Iron Towers. And anyway, she could refill them at this Honey Falls place. It took her another 15 minutes to heft the skins onto Slob and find some improvised panniers for food and blankets. She also remembered to take the makings for a fire.

Her last problem was climbing onto the very large toad-horse. It was taller than a camel and nearly three times its mass. Finally she realised that there was something like a ladder built into the saddle which she had obscured with her hasty packing. She smiled as she climbed aboard.

“Yah,” she yelped, threatening to wake the town, as her bottom made first contact with the seat.

Damn the man, she cursed, as she stood up in the stirrups breathing heavily and recalling her recent thrashing. Leah was right; I won’t be sitting for days yet.

Slob looked around at her curiously. Leah kneed her to no avail.

“Get going you stupid beast,” she hissed.

Slob didn’t respond.

“Go. Walk on.” She remembered Randall had said a few times.

Slob started forward.

It was awkward to stay on, standing up as she was, and it took no little time to work out the steering. But pretty soon she was on her way towards the lake.

Leah tried kneeling in the seat, which made her more stable. It also had the effect of settling Slob down and she picked up the pace.

“I wonder how far a league is?” Leah wondered aloud as the lakeside path became obvious. “Oh well, Iron Towers here we come.”


Randall slept late the next morning and even when he did rise he was not immediately alarmed that Slob had been moved. In the end it was over an hour before the toad-horse’s absence was linked with the fact that he had not seen Leah all morning.

At first Boss was more angry than Randall, the latter assuming that the stupid girl could not have gone far on her own. Although Boss agreed with that assessment, he took it as an affront that someone would steal from his town, and insisted that he would handle the situation. Consequently, it was mid afternoon before Randall realised that if he were to recover his property then he would have to act alone. This was after scouts picked up Slob’s tracks on the lakeside road and reported that Leah was beyond any foot pursuit.

It then took more than two hours consultation with Stephan to acquire a suitable replacement mount and make arrangements for the storage of the majority of Randall’s gear.

“Best if you set out at first light,” Stephan urged.

“She’ll have a day’s head start by then,” Randall fumed.

“It will take her three days to get to Honey Falls, there is nowhere else she can be heading. Take two fast camels and you can do it in a little over two. Even if she makes it past the town, she will be at best three hours ahead of you by then.”

“And if I miss her there? She could head off in any direction.”

“She must be going to Crash.”


“It’s the biggest city on Severus. It stands on the shores of the only true sea on the planet. It is where one of the first ships crashed; it was so huge that the people there are still living off the salvage. With enough tabs, which she’ll have by selling your toad-horse, she might even buy her way off planet.”

“How far is Crash?”

“More than 200 leagues. I seriously doubt any offworlder could make it that far unassisted, certainly not a woman alone. If raiders don’t get her, the rock dragons will. Hell, from what I’ve seen I doubt she could fight off sand hoppers.”

“Then I had better catch her soon,” Randall glowered across the lake as if expecting to see her.


Once Leah had got the hang of the steering, she had made good time. The track was easy going and unlike the open desert, the lakeside was cool and even more beautiful.

She mused on what she saw as the waste of a planet. If the Matriarch had had such a planet in their own home system, it wouldn’t have been used for a few convicts. There would be a hotel and yachts on the lake.

For the first hour of daylight, she kept glancing behind. Hardly believing her easy escape. But then the awkward squatting position on the saddle began to tell on her back and neck. After another hour she even tried sitting upright, but that sent her back to a kneeling crouch.

“Ooh, damn that man, damn him,” she cursed as pain-tingling blood sang at her seat.

The other thing she hadn’t counted on was the water. Not only was it a chore to pull the heavy skin to her mouth, obliging her to opt for dismounting then stooping for every drink, but the liquid was foul, tasting as it did of rancid fat from the semi-cured leather.

After three goes at it, she looked longingly at the lake to her left, but decided that not only would it take too long to keep going the short distance to collect fresh water, but that she had better get used to it as on the open sand it would be all she had.

By mid afternoon, her morale was so low that she entertained the idea of returning to Milk City. In fact if she hadn’t been certain that Randall would thrash her and then sell her to a brute like Boss, she might have done it.

Then Raw had put in an appearance, its huge comforting presence rising into the sky like some great carnival balloon. Leah was struck how its twin was an inversion of this desert world, all water flecked with land, where Severus was all sand dotted with lakes. As she looked up, the aches in her body drained away unnoticed and her courage found a second wind.


Honey Falls was astonishing. The silver-white water cascaded off the high cliffs in three great steps, each one both higher and broader than the last until a rippling wall of water churned up a greater part of the otherwise crystal calm lake.

The settlement itself was set back from the lake on a rocky ledge, which was easy to by-pass. Leah was in no mood to risk awkward questions or well-meaning would-be owners. So, after stopping only to refill her water skins, she gave Honey Falls a wide birth.

Leah hadn’t known what to expect of the so-called iron road. So she could hardly complain that she was disappointed. But what she found was a road only in the lightest of senses. In fact she might have missed it altogether if it wasn’t for the stone.

At a point facing the track from the lakeside the ground opened up on both sides between the dunes. Here she found a white boulder that had been flattened on one side. Two crude arrows had been etched on it, one labelled: Iron Towers and the other Crash. After pausing for a moment and taking one last glance at the sun rising above the lake behind her she turned left.

Randall did not reach Honey Falls until shortly before the sun was at its zenith. By then the small town was awake and his arrival caused quite a commotion.

“Did you see a woman pass this way on a toad-horse this morning or perhaps late evening?” he called out.

“A toad-horse you say? I haven’t seen one of them in years. Ain’t seen any travellers on the lake road for a week,” a rather wiry looking man said smiling as he advanced on him. “Rest a while, we can do a great fish pie for lunch.”

“I believe I will, but I must be back on the road within an hour,” Randall agreed.

Over lunch Randall told his story, which seemed to generate more humour than sympathy. Although no one he spoke to seemed to think that a lone unarmed offworlder, let alone a woman, could make it to Crash.

“For one thing, where would she get water? The caravans to Crash from here go well stocked. You say she has only two water skins?”

“Well as far as I know,” Randall shrugged. “I’ll be sure when I catch up with her.”

“I’ll recon you’ll do that right enough. A toad-horse is slow but certain. A camel should overhaul her in the long straight,” one of the locals said sagely. Then added, “could she be going to Iron Towers? She might make that with the water she has if she bothered to refill before pressing on from here.”

“Iron Towers?”

“Oh it’s a mining settlement perhaps 90 leagues west of here.”

“Why would she go there? She wants off this planet I think,” Randall was getting tired of all the unsolicited ‘local-knowledge.’

“How she plan on doing that?” The locals broke into open laughter at this idea.

Randall shrugged. He had no idea.

“The black market or someone else with off world contacts,” he suggested, thinking it all rather academic.

“I’ve heard of such things for sure, but that cost big money. I mean big, big money.”

“I hear that Iron Towers has a communications thingy,” another man offered. But no one was listening, no one but Randall.


The lizards were the size of dogs. They had been circling Leah for over an hour, but so far had made no move to come closer. Every now and then one would block the way and stand its ground until Leah was sure it would attack. Then at the last minute it would bounce away.

“I guess you are what people around here call sand hoppers,” Leah said nervously as she hugged into Slob. “Wolf-lizards would have been a better name.”

She had been told that a determined man could easily deal with sand hoppers, but she guessed that was a determined man with a big stick or some other weapon. Leah thought about the knife at the bottom of one of her bags. Somehow, it seemed inadequate.

The largest of her tormentors was trying its luck blocking the road for the seventh or eighth time, when Leah heard a high screeching bark. At first, it made her jump but the sand hoppers scattered at the sound and Leah sighed with relief. Then Slob, who had largely ignored them, began to slow and turn of her own violation as if facing a larger enemy. Leah cursed her own naivety and began to peer anxiously over the dunes for whatever had so frightened the pack.

The rock dragon was bigger than half the size of Slob. Worse still, under a single short horn on its nose were rows of pointed teeth.

“Oh great, now I am going to be eaten by B movie monster,” Leah’s burst of courage surprised even her.

The dragon leapt and on instinct alone, Leah ducked flat on Slob’s back. Slob charged forward and tried to flee tossing Leah to the ground as she did so.

The dragon was in a heap on the ground and struggled a little to regain its feet. Then having failed in its first attempt hung back as if contemplating the prostrate Leah who sat on the road regarding her attacker in horror.

“There, there nice dragon,” Leah said hoarsely as she backed away in a seated crawl.

The dragon charged again and Leah scrambled to her feet and ran. Luckily, the giant reptile did not have the agility of the sand hoppers, but nonetheless it closed quickly enough.

Leah ran in blind panic. At the back of her mind, she realised that death was inevitable now. Even if she outran the dragon, she would quickly lose the road and any hope of finding Slob.

Then the ground collapsed under her and she found herself in a giant circular hole. Somewhere the dragon was bellowing its anger at momentarily loosing its prey.

“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit,” Leah chanted as she tried to climb the ever-widening sides of the hole.

As she climbed she realised that instead of getting out she was sinking further into the middle of the hole, which was a perfect concave point swallowing the sand. It was as if she were in the top draining part of a great hourglass.

The dragon was visible now. Peering down at her from the sides of the chasm of sand. Maybe it will rip my throat out quickly and save me from suffocation, Leah thought grimly.

Then it tried. The dragon looked almost clumsy as it charged down the sliding bank of sand. Leah screamed.

The beast fell astraddle her so that she was almost pinned beneath its belly and the pouring sand. Too late, it realised its mistake and immediately forgot her as it tried climbing out. Leah didn’t hesitate. More to get away from the beast than anything, she pushed against it and stepping on its head as she wriggled free she managed to clear the top of the hole.

Then to her relief and horror the dragon was swallowed by the sand, which closed around it until the hole all but disappeared.

“Sand pits. There’re not that common,” said a voice behind her. “But almost always fatal. You were lucky.”

Leah jumped and turned.

There were three of them. All dressed in torn leather and miscellaneous attire, much like the five that had attacked Stephan’s caravan.

“We have been tracking you for some time. At first, we couldn’t read the tracks. No idea what it was you were riding, until we saw it that is. A toad-horse. Valuable. More valuable even than you and you will fetch a pretty price.”

“I’m not for sale. Nor is Slob.”

The raider grinned. Then something struck her from behind.


The ground was hard in her face and she spat the dust from her mouth. Then the pain in her limbs hit her at the same time she realised she was naked.

She wondered how long she had been unconscious, then the cause of her discomfort came to her. She was trust-up with her wrists bound to her ankles. It was with some effort that she could turn her head and take in her surroundings.

It was still dark and she could feel the desert chill on her body. From where she lay, she could see that the raiders had recovered Slob and they were celebrating around the fire. Just three of them, she thought, as if somehow that wasn’t going to be a problem.

Maybe they would try and sell their windfall in Iron Towers, she thought positively. Overall given her encounter with the local wildlife this might actually be a heavily disguised blessing.

“You can untie me now, I’m awake,” Leah called out.

An unpleasant man staggered over to her, obviously drunk and grabbed her bottom and squeezed.

“You’re not giving orders here my pretty, although when we get you back to camp there will be plenty of orders for you.”

“I’ve got a headache,” she said foolishly.

“Give her some water and leave her alone Bark,” one of the others said.

A rancid leather bag was thrust into her face and she was allowed to drink some vile water before being left alone.


At some time during a cold uncomfortable night, Leah managed to sleep. Now her arms and legs were killing her and she viewed her sleeping captors with both hope and dread.

Then one of them coughed and the camp slowly came to life.

As she watched the first man, Bark suddenly stiffened and reached out to punch his fellow on the arm. Then they both stood looking at point behind her.

“I believe you have some of my property.” The voice was Randall’s and Leah’s heart raced at the sound. She was relieved but why she couldn’t say. These men had not thrashed her. How was her situation improved?

“The woman is ours,” Bark said uncertainly as he looked around expecting to see others. “There are three of us.”

“I don’t care about the woman. She made her choice. But the toad-horse and its gear are mine.”

Leah swallowed and wanted to protest. But wasn’t he right?

Then there was a rusty scrape and twang. The third man had fired crossbow bolt over her head. It could only have been fired at Randall. Panic surged in Leah and she nearly cried out.

“If that’s the best you can do I am minded to let you have another try,” Randall said with scorn. “My property in return for your lives.”

The man next to Bark screamed in rage and drew a short sword and raced at Randall.

“Wait,” Bark screamed. He didn’t see it. He was watching but he didn’t see it. One minute Doug was running at the stranger the next the stranger held a sword and Doug was staggering on past him.

When Doug fell forward into the sand, Bark knew he was already dead.

Bark drew his own blade, but unlike Doug, he waited until the crossbowman stood at his side with a sword.

“He’s good, but we can take him if we keep our heads,” Bark said anxiously.

The man nodded and they began to circle Randall. Leah rolled over to watch. She wanted to tell Randall to run, but she saw that it was the raiders who looked scared.

The fight was a short one. Randall kept his posture tight and his movements economical, while the two raiders circled frantically slashing at each imagined opening. Then the poor crossbowman lunged forward only to be blocked by Randall. That was Bark’s chance and he moved in for the kill.

Randall ducked and spun in an elegant turn. His sword described a figure of eight in the air and after one sweep took Bark in the throat. The other man stood close behind Randall’s undefended back, only having to slash once with his sword for the kill. But as Bark toppled to the ground his accomplice did nothing. Then Leah saw that he was looking at the blood cascading from his chest and he sunk to his knees.

Randall executed another twisting sweep with his sword that drew Leah’s eyes to its accomplished termination. At first, she saw no reason for his poetic flourish, but when she glanced, back the man had no head. She screamed.


Randall had released her without a word. Then as she knelt naked hugging herself he had dragged the bodies out of sight behind the dunes. She had never felt so unclean and desperately wanted a bath. She also wished she wasn’t so naked, but her clothes were gone and the only others were the bloodstained rags belonging to Bark and his gang. But just looking at them brought back the memory of the headless man and she shuddered.

Eventually Randall reappeared leading Slob and two camels. The toad-horse looked a little battered, evidentially the dragon had raked her and Leah felt a sickly sense of guilt as Randall unsaddled her and tended her wounds.

“I’m, I’m sorry… I just wanted…” Leah couldn’t help herself and the words just slipped out, she had nothing to apologise for, did she?

“I don’t care what you do. I was obliged to protect you, but if you don’t want my protection then go to hell. But you had no right to take Slob. Did she girl?”

Leah scowled and stared at the ground in front of her. It was hard to argue with a man when you were naked. Even harder, when you could not help but consider that he might be right.

“What happens now?”

He didn’t reply. The truth is he didn’t know. He was as lost on this world as she was. Before Leah had run, Stephan had offered him a partnership. It was as good an offer as any. Now he didn’t know.

“Do something. Say something.” She felt like crying.

Satisfied that Slob would be okay he turned to look at her.

“Very well,” he snapped turning to Slob’s discarded saddle.

He hefted it easily and dragged it over to where Leah was kneeling. Then throwing it down he unfastened his belt.

“I want you face down across that now.”

“What? I mean you can’t,” Leah didn’t want this; it was too, embarrassing, she concluded, as if that was the worse thing.

“Bend over,” he roared.

“Please. I’m sorry.” She thought of running, but she was naked and he would see.

Slob shuffled where she stood, she looked so sad, Leah thought. Randall clamped his hand behind Leah’s neck and half-dragged and half-pushed her towards the saddle. She tumbled across it so that her bare bottom was thrust upper most. Her ears burned and although he didn’t hold her, she did not try to get up. What was the point?

The belt slashed across her exposed bottom and she grunted. He didn’t wait, but brought the leather down three more times.

“Oh, this is…” She didn’t say any more.

Randall gave his anger full rein now and the belt fell fast and furious until she felt one continuous band of fire across her bottom.

“Please I’m sorry,” she wailed, but to no avail.

He did not stop until her bottom was a violent red and the flesh stood out in two great oval welts exactly matching her bottom.

“I ought to lay into you until you can’t sit down for a month,” he growled.

But she wasn’t listening. She just lay sobbing over the saddle. She was lying there for some time before she realised he had finished and was busying himself with the rest of his gear.

Then after a while, he came back and tossed her boots down in front of her. There was also one of his shirts.

“I’ll give you a choice,” he whispered.

She didn’t look up, but just hugged into the saddle and tried to contain her tears.

“Look at me,” he bellowed.

“No,” she said in a small voice.

He crouched down in front of her. He couldn’t help admire her still bare reddened bottom as he did so. Then he took her chin in his hand and lifted her face.

“I’ll give you a choice,” he repeated.

She didn’t answer. She didn’t want a choice. All her choices were bad. What ever she did was hopeless.

“I’ll leave you a camel, free and for gratis and whatever stuff the raiders had. You can go where you like, do what you want.” He paused.

It was far better than she could have expected. The day before she would have greeted such a choice with gleeful satisfaction. Now the prospect of a desert alone but for raiders and dragons seemed bleak.

“Or you can come with me.”

She bit her lip. Her pulse raced a bit.

“But let’s be clear about that choice. You come with me and you will do exactly as you are told. Furthermore, for each and everyday we are away from Milk City on account of your stupid stunt I will put you across that saddle every evening and tan your backside raw.”

“But…” Her hand strayed to her still throbbing bottom.

“Take it or leave it,” he said with finality.

“If I go with you, what will I be? To you I mean?”

“I don’t know. We will have to work on that.”

She eased herself upright and surveyed the beautiful but bleak desert. She would be dead in a week out there. Or enslaved by raiders. She thought of Petra and then of Iron Towers, so near and yet so far.

“If you want, I’ll take you to that damn communications array. We have come this far, we might as well see this Iron Towers. Frankly I think it is a delusion, but if it helps you get it out of your system…”

She looked at him, not believing he was serious. She could see he was.

“It’s still a week away, that’s 14 or 15 days longer until we reach Milk City.”

She stared at him blankly not grasping the import. Then her bottom flared.

“Oh you can’t be serious,” she gasped. He sternly folded his arms.

“Your choice, take it or leave it.”


They had been travelling for almost a week now and Leah was definitely regretting her decision to go on to Iron Towers. Every evening since he had given her a choice, she had been bent over the saddle for a thrashing.

The day after her second session with his belt, she had opted for walking. Not only did that slow them down too much, but after the next day her mincing gait was as difficult for her as sitting.

In the end she had opted for riding belly down over the back of a camel.

Randall was both amused and surprised at her fortitude. He had expected her to ask for him to space her chastisements out a little more, but she was either too proud to beg for a concession or too embarrassed to talk about it.

The truth was Leah was long past letting her pride get in the way, but although she considered pleading for a different punishment, any other arrangement was too close to an admission that she was marooned on Severus for the duration.

The evening before they reached Iron Towers she lay on her belly with a wet cloth on her sore bottom. Tonight he had gone a little easier she thought, not that afterwards she hadn’t had a good cry. It was still strange to her to be naked in front of a man. Especially one who had so recently punished her.

“Would you have treated your wife like this?” She asked curiously.

The previous evening he had begun to talk about his life on Raw and how he had come to be exiled to Severus.

“If she had done what you had done, then yes,” he replied, as he sat at the nearby fire. “You were nearly killed and as it is three men did die because of you.”

She blushed and looked away. It was true.

“Don’t feel too bad about it, I was the one who killed them after all,” he said seeing her reaction.

“Do you feel guilty?”

“Oh yes, always. Killing is no small thing.”

“Then if they hadn’t fought you would have let them take me?” Her question was casual, but never had an answer been so important to her.

It was his turn to look away. Suddenly he was a boy again. He began to prod the sand in front of him with a finger.

“Would you have?” She pressed him.

“No,” he whispered.

She felt light-headed at the answer and a tickling feeling stole up her arms to her back. She desperately wanted to press him further, but she wasn’t sure she was ready to know.

They didn’t speak for a long while after that. Instead, they both watched Raw set in the night sky, its profile already reduced to a crescent by its angle to the sun.

“When we get to Iron Towers?” She asked.

“Yes.” A frown crossed his face.

“If I can reach my people, on the communicator, will you let me go?”

“I suppose,” he mumbled.

Why did she want him to say no?

That night she dreamed of an ancient communications dish. A man was waiting for her, indicating she could enter the small building attached to it. She felt dread as she approached, what if she were rescued? Taken back to the Matriarch? She awoke with a start.

“Come on, it’s time to go. We should be at Iron Towers by mid afternoon.” Randall was throwing the saddle back over Slob.


The road began to rise steeply and their pace stalled to a crawl. Leah suggested they look for a way around, but as Randall pointed out the rocky ridge seemed to extend for several leagues in both directions. At least, Leah reasoned she could walk instead of sitting or worse lying belly down on a camel.

In the end, it took until late afternoon to reach the top and by then it had become clear how dramatic the ridge really was in the landscape. So high was it, that Lake Honey could be seen behind them.

The other side was a plateau. Dotted with small lakes and even a few trees, which the high altitude allowed for. But what really impressed was that at about two leagues distant, two great towers stood stark against the sky.

“They look like old world radio masts,” Randall said carefully as he gauged Leah’s reaction.

“Yes.” Leah nodded.

By the time they reached Iron Towers, it was obvious that the two masts were even more impressive than they first thought.

“Welcome my friends.” A smiling man addressed them as he emerged from a tin hut at the edge of what looked like a town. “Traders are always welcome.”

Apart from the towers, the shanty was much less impressive than Milk City. Most of the buildings were ramshackle, for one thing and everything was much more spread out for another.

They later learned that because of the altitude, it was cooler and the ground was fertile enough to grow vegetables. Also, they were told, predators did not get this high, and so the need for proximity for protection did not arise.

“We heard that you have a communicator that can get a message off world.” Leah was shocked by Randall’s bluntness. She had hoped to be more circumspect.

“The towers you mean?” The barkeeper of the town’s only inn laughed.

“Then it’s not true?” Leah grabbed his arm. In hope, dread, she didn’t know.

“Every once in a while someone comes out from Crash to try their hand. Sometimes it works I hear, you know, the black market folk and the like. But we have no permanent equipment. They always bring their own.”

“Can we see the interface?” Randall asked.

“Sure, I’ll show you.”

The barkeeper led them to a small concrete room below the nearest tower. Leah had never seen anything like it; it was ancient.

“Must be an old communications station from back when the first settlers on Raw tried to colonise Severus,” Randall said. “I learnt about such places at school.”

“That’s what my grandpa used to say, yes,” the barkeeper agreed.

“Then you were born here?” Leah asked.

“Oh mercy yes, as was my grandpa.”

“Here,” Randall said suddenly. He handed Leah the wristband communicator that had originally been on her suit. “I liberated this before Stephan sold the rest of your gear.”

Leah stared at the object like it would bite.

“I thought you might want it back one day,” Randall smiled sheepishly.

Leah took the object and keyed in her activation code. She didn’t need the interface; just being this close to the tower was enough to boost the signal.

“This is Sub-Commander Leah Vane, is anyone there?” She felt like an impostor.

“Go ahead Sub-Commander.” A brusque response that sounded so unworldly came at once. It was all too easy.

“I am down on the planet.” Leah could scarcely get the words out. It was hardly a military report.

“Please clarify Sub-Commander. Are you on Raw?”


“Please stand-by.”

It took an age for the reply. Leah felt sick. Now that she was home, she didn’t want it. On Severus, she had never felt more alive. On Severus, she had Randall.

“Please be advised Sub-Commander. We cannot effect an extraction at this time. The fleet has been destroyed or scattered. We have been severely pressed by Raw forces and have been ordered to fall back.”

Leah blinked. What did it mean?

“You are advised to dig in and wait for further instructions.” The voice sounded hesitant.

“Dig in? Dig in for how long?”

“We… that is… Listen Sub-Commander, I shouldn’t admit this, but it could be years. We have been getting our arses kicked up here. Surrender if you can. We have word that the barbarians are taking prisoners. Our intelligence has been… rather ineffective.”

“I understand. I am ordered to surrender.” Leah snapped off the communicator. She knew that no official order would ever be given to that effect. Still she didn’t want that confirmed.

Leah handed Randall the wristband.

“It looks like I am your prisoner after all,” she sighed, the weight lifted off her shoulders.

Then she followed the barkeeper out of the room, relieved to leave the old equipment behind.

Randall glanced after her and nodded. Then followed her out.

Once outside she looked up at him not knowing what to say. He reached up and lightly held her chin as if seeing her for the first time. She couldn’t meet his eyes and sucked her lower lip in and chewed it a little then she pulled away and stared out across the horizon. She felt reborn and free.

There was a long comfortable silence between them as they both stood looking at the low red hills that stretched into infinity. He stood so close to her and yet he didn’t touch, aware that his hand was just centimetres from hers.

“Let’s get out of this dump,” he whispered.

Leah grinned and nodded.

“I can’t wait to swim in Lake Honey,” she said easily. Now where did that idea come from, she thought.


They found an abandoned shack on the edge of the settlement. It was set high up the ridge and the view was astonishing.

“By my reckoning, Raw will Rise about an hour after sun up,” Randall said with a touch of awe in his voice as he looked out across the expanse of fire-red hills beyond as they caught the dying rays of the sun.

Leah could just picture it and gasped.

“Can we wait until it has risen?” She sounded like an eager child on holiday.

“It will take us most of tomorrow to climb down to the road. We will have the view all morning,” Randall replied, reaching out to ruffle her short hair.

Leah continued to stare until something went thump behind her. She turned to see Slob’s saddle on the ground and Randall standing over it with his short leather strap.

“Oh come on, not again. I…” she licked her lips as she strained for the words that would save her. None came.

“I warned you and I am a man of my word.”

Is this my life now? She wondered silently. Why did the idea not fill her with despair?

Seeing that he would not be moved, she sighed in resignation and started to slowly get undressed. For the first time she tingled all over at the idea he was looking at her body and she wondered if he liked what he saw. Then she took a nervous step forward and lowered herself onto and across the saddle. She squirmed a little to get comfortable; in many ways, she knew this was to be her first punishment. Her first, since she had truly surrendered anyway.

He reached beneath her and placed a rolled up towel under her hips. Then he gently pushed the small of her back down so that she turned her more rounded bottom up. She blushed at the added exposure.

Leah’s bottom still carried a deep-rose stain from the previous evening. There was even some bruising on the edge of her right buttock. Then something new happened. Leah felt a sudden cold wetness on her behind and she looked back to see that he was massaging her bottom with oil. She began panting at once at the pleasant shock.

“Does it hurt less with this?” She breathed, glowing at the idea of his kindness as well as his touch.

“It will sting more, but bruise less,” he explained. “A trick I learned with my wife.”

The intimacy and even the threat thrilled her and she groaned.

Randall placed his thumbs under her bottom and turned it up into an exaggerated posture.

“Hold it there or it won’t count,” he whispered.

“Yes sir.” She replied without knowing what she said.

The strap took her fully across her bottom and she gasped. It was a band of fire that grew like never before. But this time the pain sang in her flesh.

The second stripe was a long time coming and he laid it just below the first. He marvelled at how the vivid mark stood out over already well-reddened skin.

She clutched at the dust and squirmed as she groaned. The fire raging for a time before it abated. Then he struck again.

Slowly but surely he strapped again and again until she abandoned herself to heartfelt sobbing, her bottom still thrusting up to him, feeling like two balls of fire.

She could take no more and yet knew that what she could take was of no matter, he would decide.

Nevertheless, sensing her distress he stopped and she felt both bereft and relief.

He applied more cool oil, which was like liquid heaven on her skin. He even worked the sensual nectar deep between, hinting at what was to come. She welcomed it, even in her most intimate places.

Then again he took up the strap and the cool was replaced with fire and she screamed.

“This every night until Milk City,” he whispered. “And then whenever you cross me.”

“Yes,” she wept. Oh yes.


17 Responses to “Severus”

  1. See, DJ, here is what I like about this. It’s not a “spanking story” like so much on LSF. No, it’s a story about something else that has spanking incidents in it. I sure wish there were more stories out there like this with an external plot that can stand on its own as a straight up sci fi adventure but with that battle-of-the -sexes subplot with the heroine getting her just desserts. I think you and I are maybe the only ones who do this, short of some of the romance writers on places like and similar. Great story, by the way.

  2. 3 Frenchie

    Amazing story. Very interesting.
    How do you see this kind of story telling and the Gor series ?
    Randall is not such a bad guy… I would have expected Leah more trained to fighting as she appears a hopless victim. But that’s your story after all and her surrender at the end is very well described.
    Once again, sorry for my little knowledge of English.

    • 4 DJ

      I didn’t really have Gor in mind.

      Gor didn’t have the courage of its convictions and to me now those stories look both tame and misogynist at the same time.

      The point about Leah is that she was a victim before she arrived on Severus. Deluded about her position in and over privileged – it is only on Severus that she learns who she is.

      Also she is a pilot not a combat fighter and unlike Mark Randall, has no experience of war.

      Anyway thanks for the feedback – it is always welcome.


  3. 5 Fatherjim

    Absolutely rivotting! There was not a place where I was disappointed other than , perhaps, having Boss at least spank the woman! I know Randall was her hero, but she really had it coming and the Boss, well, he was the boss afterall!

    Can’t wait for the next saga of RAW! Will make a wonderful book when completed!

    Thanks for sharing!


    • 6 DJ

      I was going to go for more – but the central narrative took long enough. It is after all a thrid of a novel in length as it is.


  4. 7 anushree

    great story. How do you do this? It was much more exciting than average storys on an average spanking blog. But then, this is not average.

    • 8 DJ

      Hi Anushree,

      Thanks – I am glad you liked it.

      So you like Sci-Fi as well.


  5. 9 Scunge

    LOVED this! Very HOT and had me squirming in ALL the right places. 🙂

  6. 10 scarlet

    Hi DJ,

    I’ve never read any of your stories before, but since I was here, I thought I’d take a look. I enjoyed it quite a lot–I liked your characters, and though I’m not a sci-fi reader normally, this was a real story that happened to have a sci fi setting, making it quite readable and –oh my–with just the right amount of heart racing moments.

    I’d like to come back and

    • 11 DJ

      Well Thanks,

      I am glad you liked it, especially as it is a lot of words (16,000 a third of a short novel) for only three or four punishments scenes.


  7. 12 scarlet

    (Those scenes made me a little squirmy but I am too shy to say so.)

  8. 13 Robin Groen

    I liked this story beacuse it had a real plot and the spanking was just a part of it.

    ofcourse a good part but not overwhelming. This makes the story more natural.

  9. 14 OldSchoolGirl

    Fun space opera and more fun spanking scenes what more could a gal ask for? Well done!

  10. 15 Mark

    I liked this. My one quibble is that she was a bit too much the fool. Perhaps she does not know hand to hand, but she is a scout, she did lead people. Yet she does not notice anything, is oblivious to others, and is obnoxious to them when everyone else can see the point. It would have been improved if she acted with more insight, yet still struggled against her situation and finally submitted. Petra was smarter. Most of your women are. This character was a bit more like Norman’s Gor than your usual — his women are all fools. But this is just a quibble, because in every other way this is a very fine effort. I liked the first third very much with no quibble at all. Those women were all smarter, too.

    • 16 DJ

      Thanks Mark.

      You made some astute observations here. The point was – if perhaps clumsily handled – is that she was an incompetent fool. She is from a culture that is over reliant on technology and convinced of her own superiority. Whereas in fact she has been told very little and is so far removed from anything she has previously experienced that she can only respond with a narrow sense of ignorant entitlement.

      Think spoilt films star who has lived in a western bubble for her whole life ending up behind the lines in Iraq.

      Petra is smarter cos she earned by surviving for so long.

  1. 1 - Chross Guide To The Spanking Internet

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