The Phantom Pilot


Maybe those two girls were Jadda's tent-mates?

She moaned beside me, so softly I doubt Namtor discerned the sound.

I thought we'd never get to the Sheikh's tent!

He occupied one of the silk palaces as befit his station.

By the time we arrived I had to adjust my loincloth before entering. I noticed my friend Namtor smoothing the front of his trousers as well. The interior of the Sheikh's tent shown brightly from the light of many candles and oil lamps. The barbaric candlelight revealed Jadda better than did the moons' light. Every nuance of her loveliness became visible: her shoulder blades, belly button, the tattoo on one of her ankles. She got down on her knees before the Sheikh, head to the floor of the tent, her bottom in the air.

I could see how excited she was.

I wanted her badly.

By the look on the Sheikh's face, so did he, but other evidence was to the contrary. Naked except for the ghutra on his head, the Sheikh sat on a stack of cushions, trimmer and more fit than I thought he'd be. The length and width of his limp organ evidenced nothing to be embarrassed about, except its very limpness in the presence of such an exquisite female creature.

"I want her hands undone," he said to me. His eyes never left his slave girl as he spoke. "Unchain her."

The enameled wrist manacles fell to the floor of the tent. Jadda's position changed only when her palms pressed the ground in front of her instead of behind. The Sheikh lifted her head up with his switch under her chin. My eyes would not leave the glistening opening between her thighs.

"I'm particularly glad to see you, Jadda," the Sheikh said.

"I am flattered, master."

"You look delicious, my dear," he said through pursed lips.

"Thank you, sir."

Their damned game again!

"Take me in your hands, girl."

She gripped him with both fists, "Master is very large."

True, but soft and flaccid, I thought.

"Rouse me with your mouth."

As she bent forward to obey I struggled against my instinct to prevent her. I held myself in check as her head began moving rhythmically up and down. The Sheikh asked me about the mutants and I relayed the details. The sight of Jadda noisily worshipping him, in the same fashion as she'd done me twice before, in front of all of us while the Sheikh casually carried on an unrelated conversation stimulated me. But apparently not the Sheikh! When Jadda finally looked up from her endeavor she grasped him in her fist, as limp as before. Scowling, he shoved her away from him with his foot. In that instant I saw what made this man cruel.

Jadda sprawled on the floor of the tent, not meeting anyone's eyes.

I wanted to interfere, but stood frozen and kept my own counsel.

"Be seated, Namtor," the Sheikh commanded, "and hold the girl."

Again I fought my emotions and stood motionless.

The big black man grinned hugely, seating himself on a mound of silks and pillows. He undid the front of his striped trousers in order to be more comfortable. The problem afflicting the Sheikh did not ail Namtor. He pulled Jadda's head into his lap by her long dark hair. She did not resist. Her tongue darted like a snake's.

I felt tortured, but moved not a muscle. The Sheikh had more torment in mind for me.

He held out his leather switch, "I want you to give her fat ass ten lashes."

I looked at the switch, but did not take it. "But . . ."

The Sheikh said, "You do it, or I'll do it."

Still I hesitated.

"I'll whip her a lot harder than you will," he assured me.

Namtor said to me, "He speaks the truth, man, do the girl a favor." She was certainly doing him one and, as such, could not speak for herself at the moment.

I took the leather switch.

"Don't be lenient," the Sheikh cautioned me, "I want to see a welt with every stroke. Or it goes over. And over. Until there's a nice red stripe."

Namtor pulled out of Jadda's mouth, "Just kiss it while you're getting the whip, baby. Get your behind up." His big hands parted her buttocks while he repositioned her. The button of muscle above her gaping mouth spread wide in such a compromised posture. Streaks of wetness gleamed on her inner thighs.

"If you don't strike her hard enough you might end up delivering thirty or forty lashes," the Sheikh advised. "Administer enough force the first time every time and spare her pain."

Jadda gave me that glazed-eyed look, Namtor's endowment shone with her saliva. "Hurt me, baby," she said. "Please."

The switch trembled in my hand like my sword had when I'd threatened the Sheikh. I lashed out in a sudden rage. When leather met flesh it cracked like a pistol shot. I was surprised I'd struck Jadda so hard, I think the others in the tent were too, Jadda more than anyone. She caught her breath at the unexpected smart. A fresh red line gleamed on both cheeks.

"Excellent," commended the Sheikh.

I whipped her again. And again. She cried out, but I did not stop. Her flesh undulated under the lash. After ten strokes Jadda sagged, gasping, no tears in her eyes; only a wicked glow. She clenched and unclenched her buttocks. Namtor wiggled himself in front of her face, but his ardor went temporarily ignored. Welts crisscrossed both cheeks of the girl's bottom, her skin fiery red. Now the smell of her filled the tent, as pungent as the oil in the lamps and the wax of the tapers.

The Sheikh took the switch from me. "A fine job, Thwart."

The whipped girl quivered with arousal.

"Jadda, you will mount Namtor now," the Sheikh said, "and use him to pleasure yourself."

"Yes, master." She crouched over Namtor, inserted him, and sat. When his great length disappeared inside her she groaned loudly. He lay on his back and remained still. Leaning forward with her hands on his chest she ground her hips into his, rotating against him. I watched the play of muscles in her back as she arched and moved. A minute later she bounced up and down frenziedly. She mewled urgently and little cries escaped her throat. Her body made wet sounds. She'd spent all evening pleasing others, now she pleased herself. Judging from the excessive leakage, Namtor obviously had been pleased once or twice himself.

My heart pounded.

Jadda savored her pleasure greedily, finally collapsing, shuddering, still impaled. The fleshy socket between her cheeks drew my attention, and that of the Sheikh.

He glanced down at his limpness. My loincloth stretched before me.

"You want her, don't you?" he asked.

My mouth was dry, "Yes."

"Use her," he said.

"She looks fairly used up," I remarked.

"Jadda is a long way from being used up," he said. "There is not yet light in the sky, the night has only just begun."

Namtor started thrusting gently into her. She moaned.

"Use her," the Sheikh said again.

"It would seem she is in use."

The end of the switch touched an alternative, the vulnerable little circle of muscle nestled in the valley created by her cheeks. "That is not in use."

I licked at my lips, my desire almost painful.

Seeing my reluctance, the Sheikh spoke to Jadda: "Tell Thwart to violate you."

Namtor pumped like a machine, the moons of her bottom jiggling with the motion. She said, like a little girl, "Use me, Thwart."

"Do you want me to?" I asked. Already I began removing my loincloth.

"Hurry, I want you," wheedled Jadda. "Please don't make me beg."

The Sheikh propelled me forward with a push to the shoulder. Holding Jadda still, Namtor stopped moving long enough to allow me to get in place. Spreading her cheeks wider I touched against her entryway, pressed until I'd breached the muscle. Slowly I slid into her warm tightness until embedded fully. A guttural sound issued from her every penetrating millimeter of the way. Namtor began to move again. I had never done that before, never took a woman there, never felt another man moving inside the same woman I was making love to. Jadda humped against Namtor and me, exhorting us to perform harder, faster. We obliged her. She breath grew ragged, then she screamed in joy, though had I not known better, would have sworn was bloody murder.

Eventually that lovesome triangle came to a logical conclusion, but the Sheikh recommended many other combinations. These variations took place far into the night. At long last the girl worked herself into exhaustion, as did Namtor and myself. He and I later went outside to talk after the Sheikh commanded Jadda to give each square inch of his body a tongue bath. Her mouth lingered in some areas much longer than in others; and the choices were his, not hers.

I felt nauseated.

Namtor held the tent flap for me and let it fall closed behind us. Even so I still heard the grunts of the Sheikh while his slave girl licked the intimate spots of his person. I tried to ignore it and devote my attention to what Namtor was saying.

"Nice and cool out here. It sure gets hot inside those tents, doing what we were doing."

I looked into the night sky, listened to the insects. Never in my life had I experienced such a conflict of feelings.

"Are you angry with me, Thwart, for following the Sheikh's orders?"

I remarked obliquely, "There are many slave girls in the camp."

"This is the Sheikh's camp," replied Namtor matter-of-factly.

I ventured away from the tent and the sounds within.

Namtor followed me. "A slaver is going to make use of his possessions in the way he sees fit. It really means nothing."

I shrugged in agreement. "There is an abundance of slaves here."

"And you and I helped capture many of them. Even Jadda."

I nodded like I knew exactly what he meant. That didn't fool Namtor.

"Thwart, are you still having trouble remembering?"

"Yes, I'm disoriented and confused."

"You looked like you were going to chop the Sheikh's head off when he told Jadda to service him. Then me."

"Did I?"

He eyed me in the darkness. "You know you did. That's not like you. Have you forgotten slave girls aren't exclusive?"

"Maybe you can help me to remember."

"Let's go down to the spring and get washed up. We can talk there." He looked at my sword with uncertainty, "I see you brought your blade with you."

I held it up in the moons' light.

"I left my things in the tent, you got dressed. Since when did modesty run in your family?" His comment caused me to smile. When he realized there was no danger of me running him through he joked with me like an old friend. "Anyway one sword should be enough if any more mutants are on the prowl. They don't travel in packs like the Askaar. We're not likely to run into many of them at night."

"There were four of those mutants," I reminded him.

"So you said, but that's not typical of them, they usually wander around mindlessly by themselves. Askaar like to have strength in numbers. You and I can handle a couple of Askaar if they get any ideas about waylaying us."

"Are you not going to arm yourself and dress?" I asked, not deigning to look on his nakedness.

"I'm not afraid and modesty don't run in my family. Remember?"

I smiled again. "Tell me about the Askaar?"

"They're different tribes of brigands. They plunder the plunderers."

"Who are the plunderers?"

Namtor grinned, "We are."

We proceeded through the camp, past the perimeter guards and into the foliage. Despite Namtor's bravado I noticed he warily surveyed his side of the trail; I kept an eye on mine. Both of us whirled upon hearing something scurry away through the underbrush. We had come upon the disheveled remains of the four mutants I had slain. They appeared a lot bloodier than when I'd gotten through with them.

"Looks like we interrupted something's dinner. These bodies have attracted scavengers, " said Namtor.

"You think our approach scared it away?"

"Seems likely. I'm glad we didn't run into lions or wolves."

"Want to go back and get your sword?"

"Nah, a few jackals don't worry me."

We skirted the bodies and continued on our way. When we reached the spring I started to disrobe and dive straight in. I wanted another bath too.

Namtor stopped me. "Don't get invincible on me, man. You walk that way and I'll go this way and we'll meet on the other side."

I saw his wisdom; no need to invite an ambush from those who might lie in wait on the other side. We needed to scout around the entire pond before bathing. After we circled the pool and met on the other side Namtor waded right in, swam to the center. I saw only his head, heard a subdued splashing. Unsheathing my sword I thrust the point into the ground. I rid myself of the loincloth and entered the water, not straying far from the weapon. I'd angled it toward the water for quicker access if the need arose. At first I submerged myself, but after getting my long wet hair out of my eyes I floated with only my head above water. I watched the foliage. The cool swim refreshed me.

Namtor broke the shiny dark surface and emerged onto the bank, seating himself on the grass close to my sword. I joined him on the bank. Wiping away droplets clinging to my chest, arms and legs I donned the loincloth.

Namtor chuckled and I said nothing. I retrieved my sword, but didn't sheathe it. I too sat down, facing Namtor so we could see anyone, or thing, sneaking up behind either of us. I recognized that as warrior behavior; it came naturally between us without anything being said. More of Thwart's inherent memory, I guessed. Flyboys don't act like that.

We sat silently listening to the wind rippling the leaves and tall grass, the song of the insects. Content that I heard nothing more than nature I asked: "Well, why don't you tell me about me? And you? And Jadda?"

"And the Sheikh?"

"Tell me everything."

He chewed idly on the thin stem of some plant. "And the past? Thwart's past?"


"Remember the night we did the raid in Rishi-Kej?"

"Rishi-Kej?" I asked.

"We got ten girls that night," smiled Namtor.

"We did?"

"One of them was Jadda."

"I wish I remembered."

"The Sheikh raids from one market and sells into another. He is the most successful slave trader in the known world, the king of the plunderers."

"He is?"

"May I again draw your attention to all of that fine female flesh in the camp."

"How could I miss it? Is that all the Sheikh does, travel around looking for women to sell into slavery?"

"You're exactly right. That's his driving force. And me and you help him achieve his ends. It's a good life."

As an Earthman I wasn't so sure about that.

"The Sheikh does have a secondary mission," Namtor went on. "He's searching for a cure for his failed manhood."

"Does one exist?"

Namtor shrugged. "He's always seeking out apothecaries and medicine men in the kingdoms and cities. That's why we're in Askaar country. We been camped here two days. There's a witch doctor whose tribe is located to the south. We're trying to pinpoint its whereabouts. The Sheikh thought he'd take an Askaar captive and torture the location out of him. But that didn't work out. It almost got you killed, so we're moving on tomorrow."


"The witch doctor supposedly has a potency elixir. That's one reason we're here, that, and the Askaar sometimes have nice slaves in captivity. We're traveling with a hundred warriors, plus native guides and many wagons, for protection. Normally it would just be the Sheikh, me and you, Portor, Kyle and maybe one or two other mounted warriors. He's also brought some women along, not that we haven't captured a few on this trip already, but not enough to make it profitable. The Sheikh knows he can't make a long trek and expect his men to do without women. That's not his way. He may not be able to do anything about it himself, but he understands the need in others. His men. And his women."

I changed the subject: "What is Rishi-Kej?"

"It's a kingdom in one of the city-states."


"There are two city-states. One is the jungle, where we are now. The other one is the desert. Me, I much prefer green trees and water over sand. But the Sheikh is a man of the desert. Obviously."

"Obviously. Where are the Silver Cities, the place where the Sheikh bought me?"

"They stand where the jungle and the desert meet, which you might recall comprises all the known world."

"I don't remember. And?"

"And one of the Silver Cities is on the jungle side and . . ."

". . . the other Silver City is on the desert side," I surmised.

"Correct. Very good! The two cities are really one big kingdom, the largest in the known world, although there are many kingdoms. The desert and jungle each have their seat of government in their respective city."

"You keep talking about 'the known world.' What lies beyond the deserts and the jungles?"

"The Fire. That's why it's so hot everywhere."

I thought about that for a minute, but had more important things to ask him about than superstition. "And the arena?"

"A while back the Sheikh saw you in the Ring on the jungle side of the Silver Cities and went to great lengths to procure you. He gave you your liberty in exchange for you signing on with him. It might interest you to know he paid twice the amount for you than even Jadda will bring from the highest bidder."

"He intends to sell Jadda?"

Namtor smiled broadly enough that I saw most of his teeth. He flicked the stem into the pond. "Eventually he sells them all, rotating his stock. I'm sure he'll sell Jadda sooner or later. For the time being he enjoys her too much. He also suspects you're love for her. He already knows Jadda loves you, but that matters little to him."


"Because he owns her," he explained. "You're a different story though."

"How so?"

"The Sheikh cannot afford conflict in his ranks. He knows you can cut his throat; which basically makes you uncontrollable. He can control Jadda. The men can make use of the camp girls anytime they please. Or most of them anyway."

I interrupted him: "But not Jadda?"

"Jadda is not a camp girl, my friend. As far as slave girls go they don't come much better than Jadda. She is a top tier prime piece of woman and, as such, is an exception. The Sheikh is not going to let the rank and file sully her. Oh, she gets put through her paces, as you know. She's like a fruit that is so perfectly ripened, sweet and bursting with juice. A young girl brimming with that much beauty turns brittle if she doesn't get enough loving. A woman like her, even a slave, holds a lot of power over a man, any man. Including her master. One of the Sheikh's uses for Jadda is to control you."

I thought about that. "Since I'm in love with her he knows I won't act against him?"

"That's as close to the truth as we're liable to be able to put into words." Namtor paused, then said, "But it seems to me you weren't as much in love with Jadda yesterday as you are today. Maybe that fall knocked some sense into that thick skull of yours."

I didn't smile. "What about Jadda and Thwart, I mean me, yesterday?"

He squinted oddly at me before speaking. "Yesterday she was just one of the Sheikh's favorite slaves he let you fuck. Now I don't know what you and her have been whispering in each other's ears in the middle of the night, but like I said before, dangerous men are difficult to control, especially a young man as impulsive as you. The Sheikh exploits the situation, it is no secret really. You know it, he knows it and Jadda knows it. If and when he learns you've fallen totally in love with one of his slaves, he'll own you as much as he owns her."

"But he lets you . . ." I hesitated.

"Fuck her too? Well, that's because me and you are privileged. Not just any man in the camp can frolic with the Sheikh's favorites."

"Why is that?"

"Because we're two of his top hands, me and you."

"Do you love her too?"

He looked at me like I'd lost my mind. "Me? Love a slave? Sluts are a luxury for me, nothing more. Jadda's a beautiful woman, but the Sheikh has a dozen more girls as prime as Jadda. You should know, you've dallied with all of them, although Jadda spends more nights in your tent than any other. You don't remember Kalli, or Danae?"

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