The Captured Princess Ch. 08byHandsInTheDark©
We sat, strapped in, watching the blur of the old tunnel wall, seeing each flash of the overhead lights in the ceiling as we passed them, two each second. If the track had been laid straight, and we had been going at full speed, the trip would have taken less than a minute. But I hadn't dared specify full speed, and the track curved and twisted -- it had been designed as a joyride, not serious transportation.
I tore my eyes from the blur of the walls and focused on the controls. I was not an engineer. I was a woman who, as a girl, had been caught up in (and secretly fascinated by) my brother's madcap imaginary adventures, many of which had involved daring escapes on a 14-B. He'd printed up a mockup of the control cabin, accurate in all details, and in it we'd flown from imaginary advancing armies, hid in tunnels from air strikes, taken on refugees and smuggled weapons, and dealt with temperamental engine breakdowns (these always occurred at critical moments like a steep track descent or an arrival at a station, so I always knew when they were coming.) In fact we'd had so many imaginary bizarre engine failures that he'd ended up drilling me extensively in the controls and on the fly recovery procedures.
The indicators all glowed a reassuring blue-green. This was not an imaginary madcap adventure, and we were fine. I turned my mind to the problems of the real world.
"What becomes of me, Lord Tir?"
"We escape and live happily in a new land," he said instantly.
"Or Tir shoots us," Enjine added helpfully.
"Or that," Tir said, smiling a little. We were all giddy with the excitement of the flight, of the dangers and uncertainties.
"No, I mean... assume we do escape. You have some place to go, so there we are going. But what happens to me?"
Enjine opened her mouth and immediately shut it again. It was not her place to comment. Tir looked me over, and I suddenly remembered I was naked. My hand slid over my flower, but I did not bother trying to conceal my breasts.
"In the short term, you are my possession, my slave. In the long term, I have no idea."
"And how does this even come to pass? Were you planning to leave all along? With Enjine? How do I fit in?"
"I'd always wanted Enjine to be mine. I was also unhappy with the way the kingdom's politics were going. No one wanted a kingdom under Arj, but Raka isn't ideal either. He's very fond of war as a solution to everything, and he wants the planet for his own, and that is a path to ruin. So for years I've been carefully moving my assets to a more stable nation. And then you showed up. Arj made a lot of fanfare about your capture and boasted you'd be his whore within the month. That kind of talk plays well in this country, and success would have positioned him ahead of Raka in the esteem of the nobles and common people. But I am old enough to remember a more honorable way of treating the conquered. And I do not want Arj as Raja. So it occurred to me that if you could have resisted him, or even be whisked away, his capture of you could be his undoing."
He ran a hand over Enjine's breast, and she smiled and closed her eyes. "Enjine and I have been becoming closer for over a year now. She was unhappy under Arj. There's only so much conditioning can do; it can force sexual responsiveness and obedience, but it can't compel love. Only a man can compel a woman's love, and Arj is in a very real sense a boy, not a man... She and I discussed ways to keep you from breaking, or to help you escape. We both did what we could to encourage you and keep you strong. There was little we could do though."
"We did not do badly," Enjine said. "I chased off that Tormentor pretending to be a guard, before he could fuck with your head. I watched as the Prince analyzed your progress and I learned your strengths. I even fed you some of my precious chocolate to give you a distraction when you needed one. Tir did his best to feed you scraps of respect, even while playing the Prince's man. But in the end we could not do very much; you survived as long as you did because, as Lord Tir said, there is only so much conditioning can do against a strong will."
"It can do a great deal," I said, quietly. "If the Prince were here now, I woul-"
There was a violent thump, and we'd all have been thrown from the seats if not for the straps. Then there was an unholy squeal of tortured metal and a terrifying vibration, and indicators on the controls started going red and orange. Tir cursed and reached for the brake.
I was faster. Later I realized I was hyped on two different kinds of stimulants, but at the time all I could do was wonder why Tir was moving so slowly. I slapped his hand away from the brake, hit the override and shoved the accelerator to full.
The squeal of metal grew louder but that did not matter. The vibration was what was going to kill us, and for a terrifying second it grew worse. My hand snapped to the manual trim controls, things you don't touch when a train was in motion. I touched them, hard. Somewhere behind us a blazing array of sparks washed out from the train, garishly lighting the tunnel around us. The train gave a terrifying lurch and the ceiling got much too close; I'd gotten it wrong. I tried to re-adjust, but too late; the tail end of the train left the grip of the magnets and whipped upward, smashing into the ceiling...
Instantly I hit the emergency disconnect, and the last three cars of the train, intended for freight, detached, just as we passed Mach 1. Because of our speed the chaos behind us seemed eerily silent, but in the rear screen I watched three cars spinning off the track, tearing the tunnel apart and turning orange-hot as they disintegrated.
Speed of sound in rock is over Mach 10, we couldn't outrun this-
But the train stiffened and the vibration died away. So at least the train wouldn't tear itself to pieces, but if the ceiling kept collapsing-
Chunks of stone suddenly fell around us, but at our speed they looked and acted like projectiles flying at the train. One hit the front of the train dead on, but shattered, and the train took the impact in stride, they don't make them like this anymore-
Station Ahead, Reduce Speed, flashed the indicator. We passed Mach 1.5, things blurred, but all that mattered was the ceiling, where's the steel, where's the moondamned steel-
Light and dim silverness , all around us. I slammed the brake on and wondered if I'd black out from the deceleration.
I didn't, but I wished I had. I vomited and my vision reddened. The train overshot the station by a mere 300 meters, and then, to my surprise, stopped and began to back up, calmly, as if I hadn't just fucked with every aspect of its design and construction.
We pulled into a cute little replica of a station, still deep underground, and the train whrrred softly and cycled off. Outside, clouds of dust trickled past us, and there were faint rumbles.
I sat, patted the controls, and cried.
Tir's hand landed on my shoulder, and so did Enjine's.
"Let me guess," Tir said. "You read."
"I was so scared," I whispered. "Oh moon. I wet myself and threw up. I'm sorry."
"That's fine. I get the impression we're alive because of whatever you just did."
"Huh. Yeah. The poor train, I ripped it to shreds..."
Tir got out, after banging the stuck door open. He looked back, but there wasn't much to see except for the dust. "Probably. I'm curious, what happened?"
"Tunnel collapse. My brother and I used to pretend- no, I'm not going into that. As a high speed train moves through a tunnel it pushes a big pressure wave of air in front of it. Not a problem normally, but this tunnel hasn't been maintained for hundreds of years. There's probably been flooding and shifting and who knows what else. So the pressure wave up ahead of us stressed something and the ceiling began to collapse. Part of it hit the train and the train got unstable, and that's instant death at those speeds. But by accelerating you stabilize the train -- it stiffens and sinks down, gripping the... eh, never mind. I screwed up getting things stable again and had to release the cars, and that just smashed up more of the tunnel, which triggered more collapse."
"So why aren't we buried now?"
"Stations and the approaches to stations are wrapped in steel, so even if there's a collapse it only takes out tunnels, not stations."
"So I think what I get from all that, is if I'd slowed the train down, we'd be buried and crushed."
"Um... no. Buried and smeared. We'd have spun off the track in the collapse and smashed into volumes of stone. Human bodies turn to jelly in those conditions." I smiled shakily at the controls. "No one's ever died in a 14-B, though. I was so scared I'd ruin her perfect record."
Enjine squatted down and looked into my face. "You are the strangest female I have ever met. Can we leave now?"
"I'm shaking so badly I don't know if I can walk."
"Lord Tir would be happy to put you over his shoulder and carry you into the city, ass first."
"Oh. I'm fine, let's go."
We climbed a long, narrow, dusty stairway. Enjine and I were talking. Tir was ahead, largely ignoring us.
"Women cannot do the things men do," Enjine said. "It's biology. We're not meant to fight and kill, to rule, to investigate the sciences. Our minds work differently. And it's true in reverse. Men can't do the things we do."
"Bah," I said. My father had been very fond of saying bah, and I decided I'd carry on the tradition. "That's mostly upbringing. I was raised by my older brothers, since kings and queens get busy in wartime. I can fix a hovercraft, I can dig holes and find worms and catch fish with them and I can clean the fish. And I can drive a train," I added, proudly.
"Badly," said Tir.
"Better than you," I retorted. "I agree about not fighting and killing, though. But that's not an essential skill. It's just something men do because they don't know how to negotiate."
"No," Enjine said. "It's something they do to get more women for themselves. Winner gets the spoils."
"That's how Prince Arj thinks," I said. "Proof that it's probably wrong. My father was wiser, he said that men got more women by growing food than killing men. Sounds funny, but I see now what he meant. As woman we want security, plenty, peace..."
"You also want confidence in a man's ability to fight for what's needed," Tir said. "Don't try to tell me about how women are all sweet and pacifistic and peaceable. Show me a man who has hacked his way through a battle and emerged victorious with the blood of the fallen dripping from his sword, and I'll show you a man who's going to get laid by his pick of the women that night."
"Said the man who's been there and laid his pick of the women," said Enjine. "And sometimes more than one a night."
"Never more than two," he said. "That's just proper manners."
"He tried three once," Enjine murmured to me. "He couldn't actually-"
Tir's hand was suddenly around Enjine's throat, her back was against a wall and her toes were an inch from the floor. "In our long life together," he told her, "I will make it a project to tame your tongue, so help me stars."
I will skip over some of the details. The city was being locked down and troops were everywhere, but the forgotten station's forgotten emergency exit opened into a city guard station that was nearly deserted, with every man on the streets, looking for us. I snuck up and knocked out the one guard who was between us and the waiting carriage, with the injection I'd stolen earlier. In the carriage we were able to quickly clean and dress, and my hair was turned an oriental, inky-black under Enjine's quick ministrations. She made me up to look oriental as well. If we were stopped and examined closely, it was unlikely to fool anyone, and if there was any doubt there would be a DNA test, but it was perhaps better than nothing.
Enjine made up Tir as well, coloring his hair and smoothing wrinkles, and adding a beard. He looked fifteen years younger, and I found I did not prefer him that way, but I did not dwell on it. The carriage took us into an airport and we were loaded onto a cargo plane, but once inside a man instantly packed us into crates which were being hurriedly offloaded from the plane. Later we learned that the plane was shot down for contravening a suddenly imposed flight ban.
Our crates were carted around, stored, carted again, loaded onto a train... we could not talk, there was no food and only one bottle of water in the crate, and, as I realized four hours into our travels, no provision for dealing with pressing biological needs. I shall say no more.
We were uncrated in a noble's house in a different country. We were free.
A slave arranged much needed baths for the three of us, scrubbed off our disguises, informed us that the Lord of the house had given us three days to find other lodging, and in the meantime we were free to eat, drink, and keep a very low profile.
Late in the second day, Tir -- no longer a Lord, but a rather wealthy man -- moved us into a hired apartment high in a tower overlooking a beautiful city. As soon as the slaves unpacked a few goods he'd bought, he opened a glassee screen, gathered us to him, and began to speak.
"My name is Tir Saros, and until recently I was a Great Lord of the nation of Narsana. I have left my land and title in protest of certain events orchestrated by a member of the royal family, and in protest of Narsana's recent treatment of prisoners in general. With me, of their own free will, are Enjine, formerly chief concubine and slave to Prince Arj of Narsana, and the Princess Alani Silvermere of fallen Kilmjada, recently enslaved by Prince Arj, in violation of the laws and customs of Narsasa and all civilized nations of this world. I wish it known that we are safe and well, far from Narsana's borders. I miss my homeland but I cannot in good faith support the actions of Prince Arj. I flout his authority and denigrate his character as unworthy, and find him unfit to be my prince. I call upon the people of my land to consider carefully his character and actions, and remember that we are a proud nation, and our pride is based in our honor. I shall not return, or speak again of Narsana, until Prince Arj is permanently removed from the succession."
He tapped Send, and Dismiss. A tear trickled down his face; but then he looked at us, and smiled.
I was on the balcony, watching moonrise, when he made his move.
I was wearing dark blue harem pants, and was topless. I didn't know why I liked being topless now; it was something that Arj had somehow lodged in me, and someday I'd fight it and win free, but for today I just marveled at the feeling of air on my nipples. There were bangles on my wrists, and high heels on my feet, and I'd begun to experiment with makeup, under Enjine's tutelage. I was not yet twenty five, but the customs of my country were becoming less important to me. I was no longer a virgin, no longer a princess; now I was simply a woman. And arguably a slave. Tir referred to me as such; but he didn't treat either I or Enjine exactly as one. He made passing reference to the fact that in this land, only nobility could keep slaves, and he was not a noble. I smelled a rationalization.
There was movement behind me; I ignored it. He knew I was ignoring it, too.
His hands settled, lightly, on my hips. "Good evening, Princess."
"Good evening, Lord."
"So, this is how it's to be? To each other, we are still titled?"
"If you like. But in fact, I am a slave girl and you are a man."
I hadn't meant it to sound quite that sexually charged, but his hands tightened on me, and the shiver I felt was not unpleasant.
"Lean back against me," he whispered against my ear. It was a cool evening, and I did.
His hands crossed to my belly, and stroked, very slowly.
"Where is Enjine?" I asked, conversationally.
He was probably right. I made a non-committal sound.
His hands slid up, and very slowly massaged the base of my breasts. After a few moments, I bit my lip. His lips found my ear, and he bit down, gently.
"When you first took me," I said in a remarkably steady voice, "you were my rescuer. Except you weren't. Except you were. It has been a little confusing. When a woman gives herself, there has to be a reason. She has to believe the man is worthy, or she's giving comfort, ... men don't a reason. Women do. And in the end I have seen that you are worthy, but I am a Princess, Lord, and my standards are necessaria-"
"You may learn to tame Enjine's tongue, but min- oh stars and moon stop, stop that, stop-"
His teeth bit gently into the side of my neck, just where it meets the shoulder; and his hands massaged my breasts, roughly. My nipples, already erect from the cool wind, wrote pleas and invitations across his palms. Languidness flooded me, and my eyelids nearly closed. I could whisper stop from core rise to moonset, but he'd hear the shivers of my skin and the fluttering of my eyelashes and that damnable licking of my lips, and not one word I said.
And then his fingers caught my nipples, and squeezed down, sending jets of fire into my belly. My absurd words turned into a soft moan.
"Look down," he whispered against my ear. I did, and watched his strong, capable hands tease the nipples, pull them taut, and then bite in lightly with fingernails. My legs went weak, and after a few moments my head fell back on his shoulder.
One hand came up, and he traced a fingertip over my lips, lips made slightly slick by Enjine's application of a glossy gel. His finger parted them, and I closed them but he simply repeated the gesture, and I found I couldn't close them again. He tuned my head and kissed at the corner of my mouth, and instantly I was back at the ruins with him, trusting him too much, kissing him timidly, and then... less timidly. He'd made me burn, and my body had learned to dance in the flames. It wanted to dance again now, and shuddering, I fought to hold it back, and hold it back and then I was kissing him, kissing him opened mouthed, hungrily.
But I broke that kiss, before I lost everything. "You have Enjine. What do you need another woman for?"
"I'm not even going to dignify that with an answer."
Men, I thought.
His hand drifted down my belly, and my thoughts turned to confusion, that sweet confusion that a woman could fight off if she wanted to, but somehow never does. Clarity returned somewhat when his hand dipped into my pants.
"On the balcony? No. You're the same as Arj -- you want to show the world you can have your way with a princess."
"No. I want something much better than that. I want to show the world I have a princess who wants me to have her. I want to bask in the love of a princess."
"Don't you dare use the Love word with-"
His hand plunged in and his finger curled, and I was already so very wet for him. I had been for two days; the bastard had been going around shirtless, working his swordsman and punching exercises, and spanking Enjine's ass, whenever she spoke inappropriately. Which I think she did occasionally so she could be spanked, in front of me.
"Stop!" But it was a moaned whisper, breathy and sexy, a plea in denial's clothing.
A second finger joined the first, and they spread out within me and twisted, slow and merciless and strong, and with his other hand forced a kiss from me, his tongue moving in the same slow, ruthless rhythm as his fingers. Somehow the combination was hypnotic; every thought and feeling flowed to his movement.
I was outraged. Really I was. I was so outraged my legs were useless and my lips were soft and yielding and my eyes were slowly fluttering closed -- I was surprised to learn that really did happen. I was so outraged I sucked his lower lip without realizing I was doing it, and when he pressed his thumb against my bud and circled it mercilessly, my arms went up and circled his head and pulled him into a tighter kiss. That is how angry I was. I'd punish him by being bad in bed, I decided, and then I thought about that and shivered, yes, I'd be bad, I'd be so, so bad. Some of the things I'd read in the library in my captivity...