The Curtain Falls. The Curtain Rises.

By Xaltatun of Acheron

This work is copyright 2000 by Xaltatun of Acheron (A Pseudonym). It may be posted on the Internet to any free forum, provided it is not modified in any way, and provided that this notice is included in its entirety. It may not be sold, or included in any compilation that is sold, or posted on any forum that requires a fee for access, without my written permission. My permission will require payment, terms to be negotiated. For purposes of this notice, sites guarded by Adult Check or similar packages are considered pay sites. Posting on any site must include this copyright notice.

Adult Content Warning - this story contains adult themes, including non-consensual bondage/slavery and forced sexual acts. If you are under the lawful age for such materials (18 in most jurisdictions) or if you would find such material offensive, please go elsewhere.

This is the last of thirteen stories in the series entitled “Ponygirl Transformation.” I may write others later, but twelve is it for now.

1. Ponygirl Finds Her Place

2. Kinder and Gentler

3. The Sorceress’ Apprentice

4. Raw Material

5. Ponygirl by Choice

6. The Politics of Ponygirls

7. Ponygirls on Vacation

8. Bluebird Grows Up

9. Unregistered Ponygirls

10. Suzie’s Ponygirl

11. Driver

12. PonyGIRL?

13. The Curtain Falls, The Curtain Rises

Acknowledgements. The setting and several of the characters are taken from two works by Sir Thomas (A pseudonym). “Adventures on the Hoof” and “Ponygirls, Inc” are both copyright by the Academy Club. Used by permission of Sir Thomas. These works are commercially available, and should not be on any web site on the internet, except for a short excerpt on Sir Jeff’s ponygirl web site. They may be ordered in the US from Quality SM, and in the UK from the Academy Club.

The character of the lobo-ra has been changed substantially. This is partially to motivate the biotechnology theme beginning in Sorceress’ Apprentice, and partially for other reasons.

In neither case should you infer anything about the prior stories from this one. The authors named above have substantially different objectives for their stories.

There are a number of hidden references throughout to obscure (and some not so obscure) science fiction and fantasy stories. This is a game that some authors play. Should you care to look, have fun finding them.

Safety Warning. This story may contain descriptions of practices that are decidedly unsafe, either in general, or if performed by someone without adequate training. There are a number of good books available on safety in the BDSM scene. Most large cities, and some not so large ones, have organized BDSM groups that will usually welcome a newcomer. I’m not going to point out which practices are safe, and which aren’t. Any practice is unsafe if performed by someone with inadequate training and experience, or if performed when not paying attention. Please think before you act. Don’t make yourself a candidate for a Darwin award.

OK - now on to the story -------

Chapter 1. A Call to Action

BRRRRIIIINNNGGG. The house system announced: “Phone call from Senator McWhip.”

“Put it on speaker, please,” Leprechaun Genetics’ premier (and only) saleslady said.

“Hey, Flower. Is that you?”

“Sure is, Senator. What can I do for you?”

I know the Senator slightly. I’ve met him at the International Ponygirl Gymkhana the last few years. He’s Golden Spitfire’s father. The Spitfire is one of our better ponygirls. I don’t know her that well; she’s one of Fran’s. She’s one of the ones the staff rides at the weekly meets at Fran’s track; she’s well disciplined, and we have a good rider to ponygirl relationship. But it doesn’t go any further than that.

He’s also one of the people in the government that knows about the secret technology that underlies some of what we do. The rest of the world is barely aware that someone knows how to teleport, and that a company called Leprechaun Genetics can do rather miraculous stuff with genetics. He knows better.

“I need to talk to the control committee. The National Security Council has got the wind up about this one. They think they have several working nuclear bombs, and might have some real nasty plagues cooked up.”

“Ouch. I’ll put you through. But you know that they can’t do anything without violating the agreement.”

“Too true. Not much wiggle room in ‘not even if all Hell freezes over’. But there’s always a negotiating position.”

“You sound like Alice. System, connect us with Boris Badenov.”

Boris Badenov isn’t his name. He’s really Colonel Ilia Ivanovich Spaski. But most of the members of the control committee go by those awful aliases from children’s comics. They say it keeps their minds focused on the reality of what they do. In any case, Boris is the Russian member of the committee, and the chairman for the year. Bullwinkle is our member, Dudley is the Canadian member, and Natasha is the French member. Uncle Guido is the Italian member, and Sun Tzu is the Chinese member.

“Boris Badenov here. Hi, Senator. I expect you’ve got the Balkan situation on your mind.”

“Exactly. The NSC has gotten down to asking if I can’t get teleportation released to move Army units around quickly.”

“I hope you told them why that won’t work.”

“Actually, I didn’t. I wanted to discuss it with you before releasing any information.”

“Wise. Remember, we were established to keep this technology from destabilizing the balance of power. We’ve picked up the occasional odd task that keeps the lid on, but this is more than keeping criminal gangs off the Island. We think we need to take action this time. We’ve got three alternatives outlined.”

“I assume that means you’re ready to do something.”

“Exactly. Plan A is ready to go, permission or not. But it’s real limited. The bombs won’t go off, and the plagues won’t happen. Otherwise, it doesn’t deal with the war gasses, the tanks, the missiles or any of the rest of it. It’ll still be a real nasty war. The upside is that we will remain invisible in the background.”

“If that’s what we can get, it’s better than nothing.”

“True. Plan B is a direct attack on military hardware. We’re not certain we can carry it off; it’s going to push our available facilities to the limit. Plan C is directed at the miscreants behind the mess. The downside of both plans is that we will be out in the open, which is going to cause a huge uproar. It’s going to destabilize the power balance something awful.”

“A military solution will do the same thing. If Plan B isn’t doable, and Plan C is, then work on it. What do you need from me?”

“Two things, Senator. First is a UN Security Council resolution asking us to take action. Second is an agreement for political integration at the world level. That includes military integration. This can’t be allowed to occur again.”

“I’ll carry the message. Nobody is going to like it.”

“Nobody isn’t being consulted. As long as everybody does it, it’ll work.”

“The NSC is going to want some kind of a demonstration.”

“That’s why I left Flower on the line. They wouldn’t accept one of us. They’ll accept her. Assuming she wants to do it.”

Oh, boy. I’d been wondering why I was allowed to listen to this ‘shred before reading’ conversation. Well, it sounded like the same show and tell I’d been doing for Leprechaun Genetics.

“Sounds interesting.” Was that me talking? “What do I need to do?” Besides keep my mouth shut.

“We’ll work up a presentation on the surveillance system,” Boris said. “That should be enough for one session, shouldn’t it, Senator?”

“It certainly should be, Boris. What does she need in the way of hardware?”

“The one she uses for her demos now will do nicely. Should scare lots of people out of their minds.”

We made arrangements.

After that, I had several conversations with Boris, the control committee, Leo, Alice and several others. Boy, was the NSC going to be in for a surprise. I don’t think the senator realized that my well-traveled laptop was nothing special; all the fun stuff was controlled directly from the complex.

Chapter 2. Meeting

One final check in the mirror before leaving. A 5’10” young woman in her early twenties with long butter blonde hair looked back at me. She had her hair done up in a French braid. She wore a fitted silk sparkly blue sleeveless blouse with a cut buttercup flower on the front and back. The blouse was tucked neatly into a black leather skirt coming to mid-thigh, with her tail coming out the back of the skirt. A red leather belt, with gimmicked cell phone and pouch adorned her waist.

5 inch heels brought her effective height to about 6’3”. I liked the style. The height let me keep control easily, and the heels were comfy because of the ponygirl modifications to my ankles and feet.

Light makeup, pearl drop earrings, a couple of rings, a bracelet, watch and a necklace that looked suspiciously like a collar completed the ensemble.

Just about right. I’d left the whip and prod off; there was no reason to expect that I’d need them. No need to upset the animals early.

Time to go. I keyed my access to the surveillance system, and looked around Washington for a suitable location. I found one not too far from the Senate Office Building, and teleported in. I liked this system a lot better than the pseudo-medieval tower I’d used in my college days. The only thing that had going for it was that I wouldn’t leave the rest of the apartment dwellers stark raving crazy. The Sorceress had fixed the teleports a year ago, but we weren’t advertising the improvement.

The guard in the Senate Office Building looked like he was having trouble dealing with the tail. He called up, and the Senator met me in the lobby. His driver got us to the next destination.

Security around the NSC offices was much better. The guard checked my ID against his list of expected visitors.

“It says ‘tail’ under identifying marks?” he said, doubtfully.

I waved it at him.

I must say, they do train these guys well. He only stared for a moment. “How do you do that, if I may ask?”

“It’s a real tail. It’s one of Leprechaun Genetics’ special jobs. It’s a cross between a pony’s tail and a monkey’s tail. I can even use it to hold a drink.”

“Mine not to reason why...” he said.

“Mortui et saluti,” I replied.

I headed into the briefing room with the Senator.

We arrived with lots of time to spare. This looked like a major briefing room; semicircular tables with space to walk behind the chairs, arranged in layers focused on a table and multiple screens. The Senator and I were in the first row, next to each other. He introduced me to the Major in charge of the room; the Major introduced me to the staff Sergeant who was really in charge. The sergeant looked relieved when he found out that I didn’t want any special setup. Then he almost lost it when the center projector turned itself on and displayed our test pattern.

The General running the NSC this year kept the introduction mercifully short. He did ask that I give them some background.

“Those of you who were previously cleared for this material are under the impression that there is an ultra-secret international weapons cache somewhere for technology that is simply too dangerous for our present level of, if you will excuse the phrase, civilization. It’s maintained in case it’s needed for something like an asteroid headed for us, and it’s staffed by military officers who are idealistic enough for the job, and realistic enough to know what would happen if it got loose.”

“That’s close enough for high level discussion. The actual fact is that the technology was invented and is currently in use by an organization that is not connected with anybody’s armed forces. There are military and intelligence officers from several major countries on site to make certain that nobody uses it against their interests, which in practice means that nobody uses it for any kind of military or political end. Over the years, we’ve been given one international policing task, which we carry out completely undercover. We’re the ones that keep the situation on the Island under enough control so that nobody feels they have to move in and ‘do something’.”

“I’m not going to discuss the organization involved, with one exception. They have a wholly owned subsidiary named Leprechaun Genetics. The surveillance and manipulation technology we’re going to discuss is the same technology that Leprechaun Genetics uses to read genomes and make genetic changes. If you think about it for a moment, this is the real reason why they have never released their technology. It has too many dangerous applications other than genetics.”

“The technology includes teleportation, an advanced surveillance technology and some degree of remote action. You’ll see the surveillance and remote action in the next film clip. As far as teleportation goes, we can reach Pluto, but not the Kupier belt. I haven’t been briefed on the mass limit, but I’ve seen us move several tons at one time.”

“I’m sure some of you remember the television stories a few years ago about the girl with a tail? That was me. These shots were taken with our surveillance technology. They were put together by Security into a real knee-slapper for internal consumption. When we go through it, look at how many impossible things you can spot, starting with the camera angles. Remember that all of this is public record; we just let it blow over by totally ignoring it.”

I ran the series. The first thing was Security zeroing in on me after I pushed the panic button. I still love that shot of the microphone just melting onto its side, like it had gotten discouraged and couldn’t stand up straight. Whoever had edited it had a real sense of comic timing; he couldn’t have gotten my ad-lib in better. “I’m sorry, my poltergeist seems to be having a vanGogh day” usually brings down the crowd. This wasn’t the world’s best audience.

The shots of the religious nuts stepping out of their clothes, and the cops arresting them got more of a chuckle. The first time a gun laminated itself around a hand brought a gasp of disbelief. I had to go through that scene several times; quite a few of these people had a touching faith in weapons. After that, the emergency room scenes didn’t get much of a reaction, except for the one where the magazine went off, totally destroying the guy’s hand.

The ensuing discussion brought home the idea that someone had an awful lot of power. That’s a very disquieting notion to a group of people who thought that they ran the most important chunk of the planet. I gave a couple of ‘impromptu’ demonstrations to illustrate several points. They ‘accidentally’ disclosed that we could access just about any database around, including several that everyone thought were locked down tight. They also brought home the point that we could do this stuff as easy as breathing.

We got back on track when one of the Generals asked me to show him the A-bombs. I switched in a surveillance viewpoint and brought it down to the building, and then cruised it around so the intelligence types could check that it was where they thought it should be. It was. Then I bought it in through the wall, eliciting another couple of gasps.

It’s a popular illusion that these things exude an aura of menace. They just look like any hunk of machinery with warning stickers on the outside. When I got the viewpoint inside we got down to cases. Three military types and two civilians moved up. I got an ID on the two civilians; they were both senior nuclear weapons designers who had been reviewing intelligence data on these things.

“Dr. Stephens, do you need anything else?”

“I think I recognize the design. I wish I had the plans to check.”

A minute later, the second projector turned itself on and the screen came down. It showed the first page of an engineering design document.

“This one, Doctor?”

He bit off an exclamation. “That’s the one.” They told me what page they wanted. Eventually, I joined everyone else for coffee and rolls while they looked at it. I don’t think they noticed that they were talking to the air, and it was working. Eventually, they came up for air.

The General in charge asked them. “Well, gentlemen, what’s the verdict?”

“If it’s built correctly, it should detonate. This design has never been tested, but all the simulations are good.”

We covered the rest quickly. I told them the control committee thought their intelligence was good enough for the military operation. What they couldn’t know was the status of the plagues. There were six variants on current major diseases. Leprechaun Genetics’ opinion was that four of the plagues were non-starters, and that the vaccines they had prepared were a joke. The only vaccine likely to be effective was for one of the duds. Of course, I qualified the opinion by saying that Leprechaun Genetics’ expertise wasn’t in diseases. We agreed to send the specs to their Bio Warfare unit for a second opinion.

The political discussion split between Plan A and Plan C. Nobody liked Plan B; if we were going to come out into the open like that, we might as well finish the job. Likewise, nobody wanted to vet the target list. If you didn’t have your hand in it, it couldn’t be slapped. Probably.

The finally settled on Plan C, mostly because they couldn’t figure out how to make this meeting absolutely leak proof. I had to agree; we’d already spotted (and disabled) two listening devices in the walls.

Chapter 3. How to take the Fun out of War

The Security Council debated for a week before approving the resolution. They weren’t sure who “The Custodians of the Weapons Locker” were, but the demonstrations were awfully convincing. Once they did, Plan C went into action immediately.

The committee fed our prepared ultimatum directly into the state owned television transmitter. It was amusing watching the bureaucrats running around like lab rats trying to figure out how to turn it off. The ultimatum was simple enough. We listed the top 100 people in the country’s political, economic, military, religious and information infrastructure, and told them to turn their organizations over to someone else, and report for detention by local midnight. If they didn’t, they’d be executed at one minute past midnight. We weren’t going to accept excuses. We also told them that anyone attempting to start the war early would be executed on the spot.

We tossed the nukes into the Sun, and denatured both the war gasses and the plagues. The executives and scientists working on those projects all got put on a separate list to be tried later for conspiracy to commit crimes against humanity and conspiracy to violate the Geneva Accords on war gasses and biological weapons.

The reaction was about as we anticipated. International speculation mounted throughout the day, starting with pleasure at some unnamed resistance group committing a coup against the state television agency, and then moving to speculation when the state television wasn’t shut down, or the ultimatum pulled.

Midnight passed. We released the transmitter. Then the death reports started to come in. That settled most of the doubters. It was now very obvious that there was a power somewhere that could simply reach out and touch someone.

The next week was mop up time. Specifically, moping up several terrorist groups that decided to stick their hand in; they wanted us to release the few higher-ups that had opted for detention rather than laughing at the ultimatum. We didn’t even bother giving them a return ultimatum. Death walked among them and felled them like wheat before his scythe. That fueled the hysteria even more, especially when it became obvious that we knew who was behind the terrorists, and that they had kept their own appointment with the Keeper of the Gate.

We let the public furor die down. A few people who seemed dedicated to keeping the story alive died with it.

Chapter 4. Terraforming the Dodecahedron

To backtrack a bit. A few years ago it had become obvious to the higher ups in the Community that the situation was unstable. We couldn’t maintain our secrecy for very many more years; when the secret came out, the reaction would be very nasty. Regardless of relative power, the big guy is going to win over the very small guy. We could probably force a standoff, but the cost would be very high.

So the higher ups decided to emigrate somewhere else.

The biggest problem was where. The best the teleport could do was somewhat beyond Pluto. They’d put together a couple of automated probes to check out the nearer stars. They’d gotten reasonable distance by putting two probes together and having them play leapfrog through space. Only one nearby star turned out to have inhabitable planets; however, Sirius was already inhabited. Their tech level was significantly higher than ours. That’s a joke; it was incomprehensibly higher than ours. The Sirians didn’t think it would be a real good idea for us to return home to their system. After we got over the shock of what that statement implied, we had to agree. We did get copies of the files, however. The basic outlines of the story were comprehensible, but the technology required to merge an essentially alien critter into the hominid evolutionary tree had Black ThunderBolt talking to herself for days.

What they finally decided on was terraforming an asteroid. They picked an asteroid that was about 100 miles in diameter, and moved it into Earth orbit, but on the other side of the Sun. Then they used the gravity controls they got from the Sirians to reshape it into a dodecahedron with pentagonal faces. The atmosphere was less than a mile deep, and sealed in with a gravity fold. Some of the mountain peaks on the edges stuck out from the atmosphere.

This left a bare, lifeless rock. Water and air came from Saturn’s rings. They dumped several species of tailored microbes in, and then put the entire thing into a time warp, with a gravitational lens for power. Three days later, external, the atmosphere had been transformed. Then they repeated the pattern with the next microorganism. It took just less than a year, external; before the asteroid was about twelve thousand square miles of the prettiest little paradise you had ever seen.

They had finished about four years ago. They’d been debating basic rules ever since. The only real conclusion they had arrived at was that to keep the technology, they had to give everyone access to it. To keep that from becoming a madhouse with hot and cold running loose cannons, they had to create some type of enforceable group consciousness so that people simply couldn’t go off on their own. They’d stuck there ever since.

The perplex had two major results. One was that they had lots of time to build the initial settlement. The other was the direct brain connection that I enjoyed. The geneticists and computer staff had started experimenting with integrating themselves, and had turned up some very interesting results. The upshot was that they couldn’t get a “group consciousness.” They couldn’t even define it, once they tried. What they could get was an individual consciousness of being a part of a larger whole, and therefore being unable to violate the integrity of that larger whole.

Chapter 5. Commitment

This was the first full Community meeting I could remember. It not only included all of the community members, but it included all of the community owned ponygirls in girl mode, and all of the ponygirls from the training block. The ones that had gotten to girl mode were there as girls, the others were lined up on their stands in rows at the back.

It also included many of the larger owners, with their entire staff and their ponygirls. The other communities were having their own meetings, only on a smaller scale.

Leo laid it on the line. The technological core of the community was moving to the Dodecahedron over the next few months. The computer complex and all of the widgets had already been moved; the staff was commuting back and forth. The distance didn’t seem to be making any difference, nor did the fact that there was a star in the way.

Everyone who came was going to have to make a commitment to the Dodecahedron. That commitment was going to make the old lifestyle commitment we demanded of our ponygirls seem tame by comparison. The Sirians had intervened to keep several of the first group from going insane. They weren’t going to keep doing that indefinitely. Once we were a going concern, they were going to revert to being strictly observers.

The lobo-ra had already discussed it, and were coming along, lock, stock and wolves. They were getting one complete face, and didn’t need to make any commitment. The Sirians said that they had the degree of group commitment required, and in any case, they didn’t have access to a dangerous level of technology. We didn’t have any argument on that point; they were the one group in the Community that was implicitly trusted.

What to do with everyone who didn’t want to come along was the major issue. The other major issue was what to do with the ponygirl business. We could continue it on the Dodecahedron, or let it go. We didn’t think it could be continued with the old level of technology. Now that it was in the open, trying to revive the old methods of acquisition would get stomped on immediately.

My direction was kind of obvious. I didn’t want to lose the computer access, and I didn’t want to lose the backing of the organization. I’d been their girl lock, stock and tail ever since I’d taken the sex change and ponygirl route out of the community. I didn’t really want to go completely independent. I didn’t think I’d live that long if I tried it without the umbrella.

Group meetings like that are interesting beasts. If you handle them right, you can get lots of unanticipated results. The owners decided to stay. I can’t say this surprised anyone. What did come out of their ranks was a suggestion that we do more general BDSM support. We could do things like kinky vacations in paradise without worrying about the local bluenoses.

Quite a few of the community wanted to come along, but not make the commitment. Eventually, we reached an agreement to give them a face, and let them do their thing as long as they abided by serious technological and ecological restrictions. That clarified the situation immensely. Most of the community came one way or the other. A few younger people decided to leave.

Chapter 6. Moving Day

I got moved into a small apartment on the Dodecahedron the next day. The complex was nice and cozy. It was just one story, with each apartment sharing a wall with its neighbors. It was your basic oval around a central lawn, with trees and flower gardens. One end of the oval had community space, the other end opened onto the main thoroughfare.

The arrangements baffled me for a while. It was three rooms plus bath. No kitchen. No washer or drier. The reason for the lack of a kitchen turned out to be real simple; the apartment complex I was in had a group kitchen and dining area at one end. The collective rotated meal preparation duties among us. Nobody was exempt. It took me about two seconds to decide that this didn’t bother me in the least. It was more efficient, and I got a lot of people to eat dinner with.

The lack of laundry facilities turned out to have an even better explanation. A senior trainer named Dreammaker was allergic to housekeeping. Well, to each her own, I suppose. However, she had mentioned it to the staff while she was here for training, and the idea had intrigued a couple of the computer support ponygirls. So they put in some time investigating what detergents did, and why wrinkles happened. The result was amazing. You just aimed the widget at the clothes, shook them out, and hung them up in the closet. No laundry. No ironing. Not for sale, either.

25 and a half hour days took a little getting used to. That’s the ideal day for us. They kept the entire asteroid in a slight time warp so that our day kept in synch with 24 hours back on Earth.

The black sky and stars during the daytime took a bit of getting used to. The color balance was definitely off, partially due to the gravitational lens, partially due to the lack of atmospheric scattering, and partly due to the time warp. Shadows were SHADOWS. If there wasn’t another light source, they were pitch black.

I really looked forward to what else they had up their sleeves. I wasn’t looking forward to finishing up the commitment, or rather I was looking forward to finishing it up. I wasn’t looking forward to the process of getting there.

The next crisis arrived right on schedule. Leo called me into a planning meeting.

“Flower,” he said, “We’ve got a sales opportunity for you.”

Oops. When Leo said opportunity, I had this impulse to duck. “Somebody wants a horse with a head on both ends?” I hazarded a guess.

Leo laughed. “Not quite. You know our arrangement with the Island?”

Oops again. The Island is everyone’s problem child. Its population had emigrated en masse several years ago, and it was now inhabited by the most motley accumulation of splinter groups imaginable. It doesn’t have a government. The major nations haven’t moved into the power vacuum for fear of starting a war. The UN wanted nothing to do with it, for exactly the same reason. We’d been keeping organized crime off the island as a way to avoid incidents.

“What’s happened is that Prince Gregory has asked us if he can license our technology. We’re inclined to say yes. There are some real specialized circumstances involved here. He’s the head of a splinter group where rank is based on demonstrated competence, and where that is measured by social responsibility. They have a series of formal tests. The Sirians are fascinated by how that works out in our species. They think that it would be workable to let them have some of our technology, as long as we maintained adequate controls.”

Thank God for 25 1/2 hour days.

Prince Gregory turned out to be this gorgeous 6’2” hunk. He had chestnut brown hair done up in a pageboy and muscles that would have impressed a professional wrestler. He moved with all the grace of one of the big cats, but you had more of the impression of a drowsing dragon. Wisdom with an attitude. What’s the difference between the lion’s share and the dragon’s share? Answer: They both get it all, but the dragon’s share is toasted.

I could have fallen for him hard if the situation had been different. As it was, we got down to discussions immediately. I had been told to offer the surveillance system, communications and a single weapon. They could also access the teleport system for emergencies. I wasn’t to mention anything like gravity controls or time dilation.

When I asked him what we could do for him, things turned out differently. He wanted to talk about ponygirls, of all things. It took a while before I understood that his interest was totally different from ours. He was looking at a human livestock program as a place to put people that couldn’t be trusted to behave in a socially responsible manner while performing some kind of socially useful service. His ideas for a ponygirl taxi service were fascinating. He was intrigued when I told him what we were doing in the Community.

His biggest problem was that he wasn’t in control of the island. His group was the biggest, but it was being challenged by a group of slave owners that disgusted him. It seemed like their entire purpose in life was to mistreat their slaves. That was a bit of a perplex. I didn’t think I had the authority to help him with a local war. Of course, it wasn’t my decision. I passed the buck to the Syndics.

They tossed it right back. The slave owners’ acquisition policies were skirting the prohibition on organized crime. Now that we were aware of it, they were going to be history shortly. The problem the Syndics tossed at me was very simple. What should we do about the slaves?

So I tossed it at Gregory. He said we’d have to treat each one individually. It would be shirking our duty to try to apply a single answer. I had to agree.

The slave owners were going to discover the joys of being livestock. The next hurdle was that he didn’t have the infrastructure set up. So we worked out plans, and brought in the surveillance and communications technology while they were building the training facility and stables, and training staff.

Eventually, the big day arrived.

Chapter 7. Surprise!

Lady Chase paused to consider the quivering wreck strung up on the X-frame before her. The girl’s bright red hair paled beside the bloodstains that marred what had been a pretty nice body; one might almost say a perfect body, if such ever existed. The broken thing mewled pitifully; its eyes blank with shock. Was there any point to continuing? What was left of her old college nemesis was certainly not enjoying the game any more. No, she thought. Let’s finish it. She walked over to pick up the bullwhip with the lead weighted tip. Let’s see how long I can make this one last.

Suddenly, everything started to spin around her. Colors broke up into impossible shapes and ran into each other in ways that made her head ache. There was nothing at all under her.

“What the fuck?” Her words lost themselves in the blackness around her. Not an echo came back. She flailed around trying unsuccessfully to touch something, anything. Then she stopped by sheer willpower, and willed herself to listen. Silence. She could hear her ragged breath and her heart beating, but that was all. She clapped her hands and the sound was swallowed up in the stillness around her as if it had never been.

The blackness broke up into more impossible colored shapes, and she suddenly sprawled on a concrete floor. Sight and sound assaulted her. She gathered her feet under her to get up.

“You might as well stay there,” a voice said.

She sprang up and whirled around to face the voice. “Who the fuck do you think you are to tell me what to do?” She started to stride toward him.

YIIIII! Her entire front felt like it was on fire. She screamed and fell back. YIIIII! Now her back felt burned like it had been dipped in boiling oil. She screamed again and jumped forward. After a moment, she found a safe location and stood quivering in shock. “Why you... you... you,” she sputtered.

“And now it can’t even make sense,” said another voice, female this time. She looked cautiously toward the voice, and was rewarded with the sight of a tall blonde wearing a black leather miniskirt. The blonde’s tightly fitting silk blouse had a picture of a man-eating plant. One of the blossoms opened over her left nipple. The naked man being swallowed by another blossom had his ass over the other nipple. The blonde waved her tail at her cheerfully. “If you just stand there, you’ll be all right. For the moment at least.”

She stared at the blonde in shock. “I thought demons were male. With pitchforks.” Slow down girl. You’re starting to gibber.

“Oh, you’re not in hell. You’re still quite alive in the real world. Of course, it does depend on your viewpoint,” the blonde mused, thoughtfully. She brightened. “Especially considering what’s about to happen to you. Besides, I used to be male. I like being a girl better.” Her tail emphasized the point with a little flip.

Maybe the guy was going to make more sense? She looked over at him again. He was sitting behind a table decorated by a pitcher of beer and a frosted stein on one end, and a gavel and timer on the other. A picture of a brown animal loomed over him. The animal was blindfolded, and held a balance dangling by the pan in one paw and a machine pistol in the other. A smaller version of the animal peeked out of a pouch. It held a gavel in its paws. Oh, no. Nooooo....

“Well, Lady Chase,” the man said, as if Lady was pronounced Offal, “What did that girl ever do to you?”

“She stole my boyfriend!” She sounded like she was still angry about it.

“What? She kidnapped him? Why didn’t you have the law track her down?”

“She didn’t kidnap him! The hussy stole him!”

“Oh, I see. You had him caged, and she broke him out. Or did she steal the cage too?”

“He wasn’t in a cage! I wouldn’t do that to him.”

“So you didn’t have your property secured very well. I see.”

“He wasn’t my property!”

“If he wasn’t your slave, then how could she steal him? Theft requires ownership of property, I would think.”

“She stole him. He was mine.”

“So he preferred her to you, and you’re blaming her.”

“I’m getting tired of this. It’s obvious that you can’t think straight. For the record, Freehold has taken over the entire island. You’ve been found guilty of abysmally low social responsibility, specifically, non-consensual slavery and sadism. We’ve sent the dossier to your former country, so you will face a capital charge if you ever decide to go back. Have fun where you’re going, Lady Chase.”

The blonde said: “You won’t need those there.” She waved her tail, and the woman’s clothes fell off. She stumbled as her shoes disintegrated under her.

YIIIII! Her heels felt as if they had been assaulted by hot pokers. She elevated onto her toes as if levitated. “There, that’s better,” the blonde said.

The former Lady Chase stared as leather and chains rose from a table and started circling. She flailed around as ghostly fingers pressed her arms, her jaw, and her mouth. Click. Click. Snap. Click. Mummph! The lady was now decorated with a big, red ball gag, and a nice solid leather collar with rings on all four sides. Her arms were folded behind her, hands on elbows, and secured with an assemblage of straps and chains. More ghostly fingers pressed her shoulders and guided her out the door. As it closed, she heard Gregory say to Flower: “Four minutes and 37 seconds. We’re improving.”

“Let’s see how long I can make this one last.”

The redhead hanging from the X-frame was so far gone in a state of psychic collapse that she didn’t hear Lady Chase’s last words. Her body seemed to be hanging, far away, where she could barely feel the screaming pain coming from every part. She saw Lady Chase vanish, but it meant nothing. Then her world dissolved in a psychedelic blaze of color and faded to black.

“Am I dead at last?” she thought sluggishly. “But shouldn’t I be seeing Jesus? They say you see Jesus when you die.” She barely noticed her body quit hurting as the haze of anesthetic settled around her. A bottle with a nipple connected with her mouth. Her sucking reflex took over, and she sucked it. The soft texture and pleasant taste combined to fill her stomach with content. She curled up in fetal position, and slept.

They left her sleep, floating in the gravityless space while her body healed itself. Eventually, the wounds were healed, and she was getting restless. The universe twisted around her again, and she dropped a few inches into a warm tub of water. She stretched, smiled and opened her eyes to gaze blankly around.

“Well, doctor, what’s the prognosis?”

“I can heal the trauma to her mind. In fact, you can also; we share the same techniques. But her mind is broken. To heal that will take time, nurturing and fate. It is beyond technique. The best you can do is to find a non-stressful environment where she can do something useful. If anything can be done, nature and nurturing must do it.”

Bluebird finished attaching ex-Lady Chase to the end of the coffle as a tall blonde walked in the door. “Hey, Linda. Are you guys ready for another shipment over there?”

“Sure are, Bluebird. That’s why I came over. Looks like you’ve got them nicely scared.”

“They ought to be. I keep looking at them and wondering how thin I can slice them. With a blunt knife.”

“Ouch. What brought that up?”

“I thought I’d gotten over being kidnapped and turned into a ponygirl quite a while ago. But it all seems to have boiled up again.”

“Well, I can’t really blame you. I assume you’ve talked to Alice?”

“Yeah. Didn’t help.”

“Try Doc Eric. He’s got a lot more experience with that kind of trauma.”

“Hum. Could be. You know what gets me, however? I want to punish them. This collection is all dominants, and they’re going to regard it as a punishment. I know it’s supposed to be retraining, not punishment, but I can’t make my guts see it. Something just isn’t clicking.”

“Well, maybe you should talk to Flower, then. She’s the only one of us that’s really inside. I can’t say the situation makes a lot of sense. Intriguing, but I don’t really see it either.”

“I think I will, as soon as she finishes playing bailiff to the kangaroo court in there.”

The door opened again, and a dazed looking man stumbled out, gagged, collared, bound and hobbled. Bluebird expertly snicked a chain on his collar, and added him to the end of the line.

“Well, let’s get this lot over there.” So saying, she unhooked the first girl in the coffle from the wall.

“Get your asses out the door. Left. Right. Left. Right. Don’t keep that branding iron waiting.”

Linda shook her head. Bluebird must be really pissed. There was no branding iron waiting. Just as well, or the conservatives might think about it for their girls.

Chapter 8. Remedial Diplomacy

Flower surveyed the clearing critically. These guys sure made a mess of things.

“Hey, whatcha doing there, girlie?” Someone hailed from the top of the stockade.

“Waiting to talk to your boss-man. Get his ass out here, or you’re all dead meat. Pronto.”

“Riiiggghttt, cunt. You and what company of marines?”

“I don’t need any marines. Just me and my tail.” She waved it at him.

He stared and then recovered. “Nice tail. You get your ass over here so I can get some of it.”

“Well, you were warned,” she said, menacingly. She waved her tail again. The stockade gates yanked themselves off their hinges with a sound of breaking wood, overwrought iron and nails regaining their freedom. They hit the side of the clearing with a final sounding thud.

“Now, get his ass out here before I come in and drag him out.”

The guy on the stockade stared. More heads popped up over the top. Half a dozen men came boiling out the hole where the gates had been. They were mostly dressed in faded blue jeans, ragged shirts, scuffed boots and mean expressions. They carried a variety of assault weapons. They moved up to grab her.

YIIIIIII. The screams were followed by the sound of retching. She waited stoically for them to recover.

“Now, which one of you is the leader of this gaggle of losers?”

One of the guys yanked a thumb at another one. “Him.” There was an overtone of contempt.

“That piece of crap? He needs his mommy to finish his toilet training.”

She looked at the guy who’d spoken. “You look like you’ve got enough brains to pull your pants down before you shit.” She reached out and pulled a piece of paper out of the air. “Freehold has just taken over the island. Here’s the declaration.” She handed it to him.

She pulled another piece of paper out of the air. “You can stay here on one condition. Here are the rules. There are two things to notice. First, we don’t really care what you do in your territory as long as you don’t cause trouble outside it. Second. No weapons. That’s NO as in ‘what part of no don’t you understand.’ Got it?” She looked at the guy holding the two pieces of paper.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Good. I’ll be back in a couple of days, when you’ve had a chance to discuss it.” She waved her tail and vanished into thin air.

“Who the hell was she?” one of the men muttered.

“ ‘Yes ma’am, whatever you say ma’am, right away ma’am,’ as far as I’m concerned,” another one said.

“You got that right,” a third one muttered, looking at the artistic knot tied in the barrel of his gun. “Just as well she’s not staying here.”

“You hope,” said the first guy, pessimistically.

The coffle of newly minted slaves staggered into the clearing before the training building. It was clear they weren’t used to walking long distances. Bluebird hadn’t let up on them. “Left. Right. Stop.” Some of them stopped. Some of them kept going and ran into the ones in front of them. The whole line came crashing down like dominos. It wasn’t the first time on the march that had happened.

“Get your miserable asses back on your feet and stand there until someone tells you to move!”

They’d learned a bit on the march. They tried to get up in unison so they didn’t jerk on their collars. It didn’t look pretty, but they did get vertical without strangling anyone.

“That was better than I expected. Maybe there’s hope for you yet sometime before the next century.”

“You’re going to do one more maneuver. When I tell you, and not before, you’re going down onto your right knee.”

YIIIII!!! Two of the slaves had started to knee. “What part of ‘when I tell you’ don’t you miserable excuses for assholes understand? Don’t bother to answer that.” They sobbed into their gags.

“On the count of one, you will shift your weight to your left leg and lift your right leg so the knee is forward. On the count of two, you will bring your right leg back so the thigh is vertical and the calf is horizontal. On the count of three, you will squat until your right knee is on the ground. Understand?”

A couple of muffled grunts answered her.

“One!” Right legs came up, and the entire line fell over to the right.

“Get your asses back up. NOW!” They struggled back up.

“What part of balance don’t you understand, dummies? Let’s do it again.”


This time they stayed upright.

“TWO!” Legs came back and down. Several of the slaves flinched as ghostly fingers touched them, adjusting their position.

“THREE!” They managed to make it down.

“You only tried to kill yourselves once doing that. You’re improving. NOW STAY THERE until someone comes to move you.”

They stayed. She stalked off in the direction of the training building.

The two ponygirls trotted around the curve, tails waving gaily, pulling their cart and driver. Prince Andy flicked the reins lightly. “OK, girls. Time for a break.” He gave a tug on the left reins, and they trotted into the little clearing by the side of the rutted dirt road. He unhitched them. “Sit.” They sat on their heels. He took out their bits and put in their feeding funnels, then he gave them five ounces of mash apiece. They sat there, quietly sucking. He relieved himself and grabbed a sandwich and a beer from the hamper.

Fifteen minutes later, he took out the feeders and snapped their bits back in. “Up.” They rose gracefully and marched back to the cart. He harnessed them to the shafts and got in. “Easy there, back now.” They backed the cart onto the road. “Giddiap.” They trotted away.

Andy reflected that these were very well trained ponygirls. He wondered where the Dodecahedron had gotten them; they were quite a bit better than the ones they had inherited from the slavers. Although those were improving with retraining. He doubted that they would ever match this pair, however. These ponies had the intelligence of girls who were doing exactly what they wanted to do, and got a great deal of pleasure out of doing it well. The slaver’s ponies had been beaten into submission where they simply didn’t care if they did a good job or not.

He flicked the reins. “Show time, girls.” They slowed as the settlement came into view around the bend, and fell into a synchronized march step. Each leg came up precisely horizontal, the calf precisely vertical. The calf stayed vertical all the way up and down.

A wide, well kept dirt road lead between two rows of neat frame buildings with hitching posts before them. Tonsured monks wearing brown robes walked intent on their business. The chapel rose above the rest of the buildings, steeple and bell tower gleaming in the sunlight. The map he had been given said the administrative offices were next to it. He marched his girls down the center of the street and turned them in toward the administrative center, leaving a wake of startled comments and staring monks behind him.

They came up the street between the monastery compound buildings, and stopped before the chapel, next to a pair of riding horses. He got out and flipped their reins over the hitching rail.

It looked like the whole town had turned out to stare. Well they might, they probably had never seen ponygirls before. In fact, they probably had never heard of ponygirls before. He picked the least dazed looking of the onlookers.

“Sir, I’m Prince Andy of Freehold. Would you please give my complements to your Abbot and tell him that I have some diplomatic business with him.”

The onlookers dispersed like the dew in the sunlight. It was best to look busy when the abbot came out. It was also advisable to look like they were ignoring the shameful display before them. Let him deal with Prince Andy and his ... whatever.

After a few minutes, a tall, spare man in a black robe came out of the chapel building. He apparently had been warned about the ponygirls, because he studiously ignored them. The monk who carried the message introduced them.

“What business have you got here, my son?”

“Protocol first, Abbot. I’m not your son. My title is Prince. Remember that.”

The abbot stared. He wasn’t used to being put down that directly.

“Now for the diplomacy.” He picked up the first paper. “As you’re probably aware, Freehold has declared sovereignty over the entire island. That includes this enclave. Here’s the declaration.” The abbot took it like he really didn’t want to deal with it.

“We’re going to allow all existing enclaves to stay, on condition that they obey the rules.” He picked up the second piece of paper. “Here is a copy of the rules. Remember that we only ask substantive compliance; we aren’t dictating precise regulations. What you do internally is really your business as long as it does not impact what’s outside of your enclave.” The abbot looked a good deal happier.

“One more thing.” He picked up a box. “Here’s a phone. It’s hooked into our system. If you need anything, or have to discuss anything, just call. It’s also hooked up to the international phone system. You can use it to call your order if you need to.”

The abbot stared at it as if Santa Clause had arrived early.

“The Abbey thanks you for your most generous gift.”

“Think nothing of it, Abbot. It was our pleasure.”

“If I could ask something of you?”

“Certainly. I cannot say yea or nay until I hear it.”

“We have a sick brother. We do not know what the malady is, and nothing we do seems to help.”

The prince looked into the air for a moment. “Flower?”

A lighter voice spoke out of the air, startling the Abbot and his staff. “I see him. Just give me a moment. There. I’m not surprised they couldn’t identify it; it’s not on record with us, either. He doesn’t look very good. I’m just going to zap it and let the geneticists sort it out later.”

“Abbot, I believe I’ve killed the disease causing organism. He still needs to recover, of course. I’ll have someone look at him in a couple of hours to make certain I got it.”

The abbot definitely looked shaken. “Who was that?”

“That was Flower Coves. She’s on loan to us from ... somewhere you’ve never heard of. She’s a very good example of the old saying: ‘a sufficiently high technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ She assures us that everything she does is strictly technological.”

“Um. Well, I’m not certain what to say about the rest of this, Prince.”

“And I wouldn’t expect you to without studying it, discussing it, and possibly conferring with the head of your order. If you have questions, just call either Flower Coves or me. We’re both in the directory. I’ll call back in a week.”

“Now, I’d better be going before my team disturbs the equanimity of your meditations any more than it has already.”

“It was a pleasure meeting you, Prince Andy.”

“Entirely my pleasure, Abbot.”

The prince unhitched his two girls and got into the cart. “Back, gently now, back.” They backed the cart into the street. A flick of the reins, and Thunder and Lightning trotted out of town, legs in perfect synchronization.

The former Lady Chase knelt in the hot sun on one knee, her collar attached to the slaves in front of her and behind her, and waited in stunned silence. From her point of view, it had been about an hour since she had picked up the whip to finish off her old college enemy. From other viewpoints, about a month had passed, but she couldn’t know that.

She watched stoically as people came up and unhooked slaves from the front of the coffle and led them off. Slowly, she collected her thoughts. Was this Hell? The woman who moved things around by waving her tail had said not, but then, if she was a demon, she’d lie about it. If she wasn’t, then she might be telling the truth. The bitch who had marched them here didn’t have a tail, but she certainly behaved demonically enough. It was totally confusing. Finally, the guy in front of her was unhitched and led away. She was next.

Now she had a chance to study the bitch as she walked toward her. She was dressed in a black leather miniskirt, black leather boots with 5 or 6 inch heels, a closely fitting sleeveless blouse and a red belt. The blouse had a picture of a bluebird flying over a rainbow on the front. “Oh, God,” she thought, “She really is named Bluebird. But this can’t be Oz. Not even Mombi is this wicked.”

Bluebird walked up and stood, looking down on her. “You’re next, Rolling Surf. That’s your new name, Rolling Surf. Remember it.” She reached down. Click. Click. Click. She unhooked the lead to the slave behind, and snicked on a leash. “Up,” she said as she tugged on the leash. Rolling Surf came to her feet and staggered on her toes after Bluebird. Bluebird led her to a long, narrow table in a room that smelled of leather. “Down on the table like a good girl.”

Rolling Surf stood there. “MUMMMFFF!” she screamed from behind her gag as she flopped down on the table like there was a pitchfork in her shoulders and belly.

“Now, wouldn’t it have been easier if you’d just have done it when I told you?” asked Bluebird rhetorically. The table came up so her feet left the floor. She felt hands on her feet, on her arms, on her head. ZIP! Her feet were stuffed into boots. She felt her hands close around something, and then arm sheaths zipped around them. They took off the old collar and put a new one on her. They took off the gag. “Now, understand something. You are not to talk to us. Ever. If you try, you’ll regret it. Even to answer a question. No talking. UNDERSTAND?”

“Yes, mis... YIIIII!”

“What part of no don’t you understand?”

“I know... YIIIII!”

“You must be a masochist. No talking means NO TALKING. Understand?”

Rolling Surf lay there with her jaws clenched.

“Better. For a moment, I thought you were brain damaged.”

Suddenly the table dropped out from under her and she found herself standing on her hands and feet. She stood there, dazed, when suddenly it felt like a whip smacked her across the ass. She stepped forward on all fours, and then stopped in astonishment. She had no idea that she could walk on four feet!

“Well, keep going, idiot.” Bluebird tugged on her leash, and she trotted after her. She had a great view of the back end of Bluebird’s black leather miniskirt and red belt. They went off of the packed earth onto grass, and then came to a fence. Bluebird looped the leash over the fence and held out a bundle of ropes.

“This is a rope bridle. When someone holds it in front of your head, you stick your head into it.” She held it out. Rolling Surf pulled away from it. YIIIIII! She screamed. “Head into it. Understand?” Rolling Surf poked her head into the bridle. Bluebird tied off the slipknots and looped the end over the fence rail.

“We need to get a few things straight. I’m your trainer. There are other people that will deal with you from time to time. I hope you’ve noticed that when I’m unhappy with you, you hurt. I think, you hurt. Most of the staff can’t do that.” She paused. Then she reached out and pulled a long, sticklike thing out of the air. Rolling Surf shied back. “Steady there, girl.”

“This is called a hypersonic prod. Other staff members use it to discipline you. There are three levels. This is level one. A low whine filled the air. She brushed it against the Surf’s front leg.


“Now, look. That wasn’t that bad. That’s just supposed to be an attention getter. It’s not even a punishment. Level two is a punishment. The whine went up in pitch.

“YYYIIIIIIIII!” This time, the scream had real distress behind it.

“That was a free sample. The next time someone uses it, it will be a punishment. I’m not going to show you level three. That will leave you writhing on the ground in convulsions.”

She threw the prod into the air, and it disappeared.

“Another thing to know. Your collar has some really clever stuff built into it. It’s clever enough to know when you are allowed to talk or stand, and when you aren’t. You try to when you aren’t allowed, you’ll hurt.”

“Next thing. I’m sure you know about the circus act where the showman asks a horse what two plus three is, and it taps it’s foot five times? I thought so. You’re going to learn the foot tapping code. Two taps is for yes, three is for no. Understand?”

Tap. Tap.

“Good girl,” she clapped. Bluebird worked the taping code for a few minutes.

“You know what a whinny sounds like, right?”

Tap. Tap.


Rolling Surf made a sound. “That was pretty pitiful. Do it higher and louder.” Rolling Surf tried again. “Better. A little more vibrato. Good.” She worked the whinny a bit.

“Feeling OK?”

Whinny, tap, tap. Rolling Surf looked startled.

Bluebird clapped. “You’ve got it! Good girl!”

“I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You can think of me as Inevitable Girl. Most of the time, I’m not going to tell you what I’m training you to do, you’ll just find yourself doing it. You know the old phrase ‘Resistance is futile?’ Well, it’s not really futile. I can use it to train you even faster. I’m sure you know how to whipsaw someone into doing what you want when they have no intention of doing it.”

“Think about your choices for a while. You can resist me all you want. That’ll get you a lot of pain, and you’ll wind up being mediocre. Or you can decide to become the best ponygirl that ever existed. You’ll avoid a lot of pain, and you might even have some fun. You’ll also be a lot better than mediocre. This is going to be your life for the next however many. Think about it.”

“This is the meadow. The staff will usually put you here when you’re not being worked. Come when someone calls your name. Enjoy yourself. You can talk to the other ponies, sleep, run around, and have sex.”

Chapter 9. The Meadow

Bluebird opened the gate in front of me, and took off the halter. I trotted in. I had no desire to find out what Bluebird would do if I hesitated. I stopped and looked around.

The meadow was carpeted with lush green grass and framed by two stands of trees on top of small hills. A wooden fence marched around it on the right and left and vanished behind the hills. I thought I heard the sound of a brook babbling to itself in the distance. A number of ponygirls and ponyboys lay around or walked around. There was a small group farther up one of the hills. It looked like a teacher surrounded by students.

The teacher flicked her tail. Tail? None of the other ponies had tails. That looked interesting. I trotted up the hill.

The pony facing the others noticed me. “Hi, I don’t think I’ve seen you before. I’m Blue Waters. What did they decide to call you?”

“They’re calling me Rolling Surf. What’s going on?” I’m afraid I sounded a bit plaintive.

She chuckled. “That’s what you all ask. You know they shut down your entire group? You’re all here being trained as ponygirls and ponyboys?”

“I thought so. I recognized a fair number of us.”

“They did. One end to the other. They also sent dossiers on all of you back to the police in your native countries.”

“Oh, God. That means I really am stuck here.”

“Probably. I’m supposed to tell you the way out.”

“Way out?”

“Yes. The way they tell it to me, if you do well at this, you get a promotion to slave girl. Then if you do well at that, you get a promotion to the next thing. In four or five promotions, you get to citizen and you can do what you want.”

“How do I know I’m doing well?”

“There’s supposed to be a training system. There’s about twenty of us here that are helping them test it out. You’ll get to it when you’re ready, which is when you quit falling down with fatigue at the end of your day. The first couple of months are going to be quite strenuous.”

“Oh, goodie. I suppose that’s good news.” I became aware of my bladder. “One question. Where do I piss?”

“Technically, anywhere you like. You’re not expected to be at the level of personal responsibility where you control yourself. But the rest of us would really appreciate it if you did it in the latrine. I’ll show you.”

She got up and limped off. I followed. We went over the hill to the far corner. God, did the place stink. She squatted down, flicked her tail up out of the way, and let go right on the ground. Well, when in Rome. I just imagined I was pissing on a slave and let go. As my bladder emptied, my bowels decided they’d had enough, and let go too.


She trotted over to a little fountain and squatted over it. Oh, boy. Well, my turn next.

The cold water hit me with a shock. The surge brought me out of some of the fog.

“Something doesn’t make sense.”

“Lots of things don’t make sense around here,” Blue replied. “Which one has you puzzled?”

“Why would they let us go? I know I wouldn’t.”

“Why wouldn’t you?”

I stared at her in disbelief. “I thought you knew what I like to do.”

“I do. I just wanted to hear you say it. This is going to take a bit of an explanation. The first thing you need to realize is that you’re not here as either a punishment or as a play toy. You’re here so you can perform some socially useful work while you’re kept from doing socially undesirable things. Understand me so far?”

“Socially useful work? Me?”

“Strange as it may seem, yes. You’re probably going to be part of the ponygirl taxi service. Just like a normal taxi anywhere, except that it’s just a ponygirl and a cart. Your passenger gets in, tells you where he wants to go, and you get him there. He may want to drive you, he may let you handle the arrangements.”

“That sounds truly awful.”

“Oh, you’ll get into it. Either that, or go nuts.”

“That, I’ll believe when I see it. If I survive it.”

“You’ll survive it. As I said, you’re not here as a play toy. The one thing they won’t do is mistreat you for the fun of it.”

“Really?” Rolling Surf said, skeptically.

“I know you would. That’s partially why you’re here. Most of the reason is that you mistreated people that didn’t want to be mistreated. Believe it or not, they didn’t pick you up because you were going to whip that poor girl to death. They picked you up because she, and a great many others, didn’t want to be your play toy.”

“You mean it’s all about consent? They’d let me have my slaves if they wanted to be my slaves?”

“Of course. You might find it a bit difficult to get very many people to play with you for quite a while, however. The population just isn’t that big, and it’s loaded with people who like to run their own lives.”

“I don’t believe it. I didn’t consent to being here.”

“Too true. And you can be out of here right quick if you really insist. But I guarantee you won’t like the results. Or maybe you will, people are weird that way.”

“I wouldn’t like it?” she said, skeptically.

“What they’d do is drop you off back in the States, nicely packaged, with the arrest warrants for accessory after the fact to kidnapping. About fifty or so of them so far. And the victim’s families would be after you if you managed to escape. With that many, some of them might have the pull to make your life in the pen even more miserable than it would otherwise be.”

“Oh. My.”

“Exactly. You’re going to have to learn responsibility before they let you out of here.”

“And if I don’t?”

“Enjoy swishing your tail around,” Blue said.

“But,” Rolling Surf sputtered, “I don’t have a tail.”

“You will,” Blue said as she trotted away.

Chapter 10. Interlude on the Road

“Time to stop for the night,” Prince Andy said to himself. “There’s the campground.” The abandoned campground looked like it was still somewhat useable. He turned his team into the clearing, and pulled on the reins to stop them. “OK, girls. Night time.”

He got out, and unhitched Thunder and Lightning. He took off their bridles and bits, and unfastened their forelegs from where they were fastened behind their backs. They bent forward into four footed mode. “Should I hobble you so you don’t wander off?” he asked himself, out loud.

“Why would you do that?” Thunder asked. “We’re not going anywhere without you.”

The Prince stared. “You talk?”

“Of course we talk,” Lightning said. “We won’t if you don’t want us to, but we would like to.”

“I’d like you to. Maybe you can tell me what’s going on with you.”

“I thought you’d know more about that,” said Thunder. “We’re really fairly much in the dark about you people. Interesting as you sounded.”

“Well, I’ve been busy working on the government and diplomatic end. I haven’t gotten to know the Dodecahedron or the ponygirl end that well. Why don’t you tell me about yourselves?”

“Feed us first, then we’ll talk.”

He chuckled. “You’re on.” He got out their bowls and filled them with the food pellets he’d been supplied with. They dug in with every evidence of appetite. He got out his own dinner, heated it up, and fell to. When he looked up again, they were in front of him, sitting on their haunches.

“Leftovers?” Thunder asked.

He stared. Well, why not? There were a couple of extra pieces of chicken he hadn’t gotten to. He held one in each hand. The two blonds reached their heads out and took a bite each. He kept holding the drumsticks up while they polished them off.

“Dessert?” Lightning asked.

“Dessert? I didn’t bring any.”

“I mean, do you want us for dessert?” Thunder prompted.

The Prince had the grace to blush. “I’ve been trying to avoid thinking about that. You vixens would try the resolve of a saint.”

“You know how to handle temptation. Yield.”

“All right! I yield. Which one of you first?”

“Do Lightning,” Thunder said. “She can do me at the same time. Then we switch off in the morning. Put you in a good mood for the day.” Lightning flipped her tail up and planted her legs. Thunder trotted around in front of her and backed up. The prince dropped his pants, showing a raging erection. He bent his knees and entered Lightning. Grunts and whinnies filled the little campground for a while as the participants came closer and closer. Finally they all came in a chain reaction.

When they recovered, Prince Andy asked, “Well, what about you?”

“There’s not really that much to tell,” said Lightning. “We were kidnapped in ‘96, trained as ponygirls, and became Leo’s running team. We’ve been ponygirls for close to a quarter century, and don’t really know anything else to do. We’re too old now to race well, so we’re looking at what we want to do next.”

“We’ve been thinking about going into training,” added Thunder. “Although we’re open to other options.”

“True. Right now,” said Lightning, “We’re just having fun seeing the sights while you drive us around. We may stick with you for a while, considering what’s been set up.”

Chapter 11. A Date With a Chair

“Rolling Surf, get your ass down here!” I was dozing when Bluebird called. I preferred to doze. She’d just have to come get me. YIIIIII! My ass felt like it was on fire! I pitched forward and staggered down the slope toward the gate. Bluebird didn’t look in the least angry. She looked grimly amused. Oh, boy, was I in for it.

She opened the gate and held the halter out in front of me. I stared at it and then poked my head in. She tightened it and then gave it a tug. I followed. We went back down the path, but this time turned to the back of the stable building. It was like every stable I had ever seen. Wood. Lots of wood. I followed her in, my horseshoes going clip, clop on the concrete floor. She turned right into an opening. The right seemed to be counters and the left seemed to be open doors. She turned me into one of the open doors and then closed it behind me with a thud and a click. I found myself facing one of the shelves I’d seen. Time to take stock.

It looked like it might be my stall. The walls on either side towered over me, floor to ceiling. They were awfully close in; there was maybe three feet separation between them. The door behind me was maybe four feet high; too high to see over in any case. The shelf in front of me had two bowls set into the surface. One looked like it had water, the other had food. The food looked like an assortment of vegetables and some kind of crunchy pellets. I could see over the counter to the other side of a corridor; more stalls with their gates open.

My stomach said it was mealtime. I considered. How was I going to eat this stuff? Well, just dive in, I suppose. I’d made enough slaves eat their dinner off the floor without benefit of hands. I put my head down and shoved a carrot around with my nose until part of it was sticking up. Crunch. That worked. I chewed and swallowed and went back for another bite.

“Well, I see you found lunch.” I jerked my head up. Bluebird was standing in front of me. “Mealtime is whenever you’re in your stall and feel like eating. I’d suggest you eat when you get put in, rather than waiting; they won’t check whether you’ve finished digesting when they take you out for exercise.”

“Don’t try to stand up. You’ll be punished for it. At night, we’ll close up your stall so you can get some sleep. It works like this.” She reached in and pulled a gate across the front and then dropped a panel down. The edge of my ledge was now a solid wood panel. I heard a noise behind me, and then darkness fell with the thud of the top half of the gate closing.

I guess sleep is next on the agenda. I went down prone onto the straw. Good, that damn collar let me stretch out. I wiggled around to find a comfortable position.

It turned out that sleep wasn’t on the agenda after all. The top of the gate opened and I struggled to my hooves. Then Bluebird opened the stall gate, and said, “back out.” I backed out. She held out the bridle and I stuck my head in. We took a different turn on the way out.

We went back to the meadow. Then we went back to my stall. Then we went back to the meadow. After a few more repetitions, she left the bridle off. I trotted out of my stall and followed her to the meadow. Then back. Then forth. Then back. Bluebird started following me rather than leading. By this time, I knew which was my stall. This was getting boring. The next time out of the stable, I tried to turn right to see what would happen. I found out. Absolutely nothing happened. I headed for the meadow like I was on a train track. Bluebird’s chuckle did nothing to dispel the shock. I made several more trips back and forth, this time with me going alone. At least, I didn’t see Bluebird except at the start and finish.

The next time, she varied the routine. Instead of taking the normal route out of the stables, she guided me into a narrow passage. I had to stop in front of a barrier. WHOOSH. I got hit from all sides with warm water. Then I got soaped and rinsed. The barrier went down. Uh, right. Forward. Stop at the next barrier. This time it was more of a sigh as I got dried with hot air. When the barrier went down, I trotted out. Bluebird was standing there with her arms crossed. I looked at her and whinnied plaintively. “Well, you navigated that all right on your own. Head for the meadow.” I did. I knew I was headed for taxi duty, but going through a car wash?

Then she left me in the meadow.

“YE-HAH, Back to the stables, you mangy excuses for ersatz horseflesh. Day’s over for you.” He woke me up, drat it. Most of the ponies were heading for the gate. A couple of the stable lads were coming up the hill with what looked like prods held out. I struggled to my feet and trotted down the hill. Next stop, stall. I fell into line, and trotted back like we were playing follow the leader. My body turned into the proper stall without me having to do anything to guide it. Boy, did she have me programmed.

“Lights out in ten minutes.” The recorded announcement sounded like, well, a recorded announcement. “Lights out in five minutes.” The stable lights shifted color from natural sunlight to twilight, and then went out. I went out with them, still wondering why an announcement. I barely heard the thud as the upper doors closed on my stall.

In the morning, the top barriers folded back, and then the lights came on with a fake dawn. That was a beautiful way to wake up. Then I almost went crazy until I remembered how I’d gotten here. Silk sheets and one of my favorite slaves bringing me breakfast in bed was more my style. Straw on a concrete floor with my hands encased in boots didn’t do anything to help my attitude. This had gone too far. Way too far. I struggled to my feet with the charge of adrenaline. Then I tried to stand. AIIIEEEE! Big mistake. I felt like my hips had been invaded by a colony of ants. Flesh-eating ants. Now I was seriously annoyed.

Eventually, the stable lads came by to open our stall doors so we could begin our morning. I charged out like a raging rhinoceros. I never heard the WHINE of the prods. Some time later, I stopped twitching.

“You’re OK now. Get your mangy body up on your hooves and move it!” I could hear the whine of those prods all too clearly. I staggered up and moved to where they wanted to herd me. This turned out to be a row of alcoves, each of which had a weird looking chair installed. “Get your ass planted on that seat! NOW!” I did. The damn thing looked like a toilet. They strapped me in with ruthless efficiency. By the time they were done, I looked like those pictures of Gulliver staked out on the ground by the little people. I had about an inch of wiggle room, which seemed to be deliberate.

One of the guys put a halter on my head. “Open up wide.” I stared at the bright red ball gag. No way in hell. YIIIEEEEE! It felt like he was doing open heart surgery with no anesthetic and a dull machete. When the pain died to where I could see again, I had the ball gag in my mouth.

The halter got attached to a set of straps that lead back behind me. Then they put a too small headrest behind my head and left. The door slid closed, plunging the room into utter blackness. Except for a red display that said 80:00. After I stared at it for a while, it changed to say 79:59. Then after another immeasurable time, it said 79:58.

They had put me in here for over THREE DAYS? The nerve of those twerps. There would be a payback. That I promised myself. There would be a BIG payback. Starting with Bluebird. I’d gotten past turning her feet into a bloody mess with bastinado, and was imagining making her watch the branding irons getting hotter, and hotter, and hotter, and having her describe the color changes in the iron, when I dozed off. AIIIIII! I jerked awake. What had caused that? Suddenly suspicious, I moved my head forward. AIIIIII! That hurt! It seemed that sleep deprivation was on the agenda. Oh, my. These people were serious. Seriously addled to be inconveniencing me, but definitely serious.

The clock continued its remorseless countdown. I’d gotten to contemplate how many ways I could do lashes. Lashing her eyelashes while she was lashed to a lashing frame. Oh, my. I was beginning to get silly. And my arms and legs hurt. And I’d been jolted awake at least a dozen times.

The clock hit 75:00 and the door opened. One of the stable lads came in, and pulled the headrest away. My head fell back. Then he took a funnel and stuck it through a hole in my ball gag, and poured some white stuff into it. He left and the door closed. After a moment sanity prevailed. Maybe it was food? Oh, well. If they wanted to play mind games with me, I’d just add it to the account. I sucked and eventually a squirt of something filled my mouth. Oh, my! It tasted like vanilla ice cream. Not exactly my favorite, but better than anything else I’d had here. Maybe they’d try pistachio next? After a while I finished. He came back in, and dumped water into the funnel. I sucked it down. Then he removed the funnel, shoved my head forward to set the too small headrest, hit the switch and left me in darkness. The clock said 74:57 with robotic aplomb. Then it said 74:56.

After a while I came to when I realized I couldn’t find a torture that began with Z. I must have been hallucinating, because I couldn’t remember anything past tweezing. My jaw ached. My head ached. My neck ached from the strain of trying to keep my head from falling. My arms and legs ached and cramped. My shoulders ached. Maybe I could pass some time by checking out what didn’t ache? The clock had counted down to around 69:50 when the door opened again.

Another guy, another feeding.

The clock kept counting down. Every five hours or so, they fed me. I quit wondering if they would change the flavor. Anything to stop the torture. Belladonna. Ptomaine. Strychnine. Arsenic. Old Lace. Anything. Mommy. What did I do to deserve this? Unfortunately, I knew all too well. Well, the hell with them. I’d do what I damn well pleased, and if they got hurt, too fucking bad. Anger wiped out the hurting for a moment. Then I sagged in reaction. YIIIIIII! I’d let my head fall again.

My world dissolved into trying to stay awake and keep my head up. And unremitting agony from every part of my body I could name, and quite a few I had no idea about. Eventually, the clock came down to 0:00 and started blinking at me. After a while, the door opened, and two guys came in and untied me from the chair. I fell down. “On your feet! NOW!” I didn’t move. WHINE! AIIIII! I came to my feet and weaved back and forth. “Back to your stall. That’s a good girl.” They got me back to my stall where I fell down in a dead faint.

Chapter 12. The South Will Rise Again

Prince Andy looked at the tangle of brush that choked the old coast road. Fortunately, they’d checked his entire route with the surveillance system before he left. He pulled out a long, black plastic cylinder that looked like it belonged in someone’s attic. WHOOSH. A six-foot lance of solid looking light stabbed out the front. He considered for a moment, and adjusted a slider. The bar of light developed a bend. He adjusted it until the bar of light was bent properly for clearing brush. “Now what,” he reflected as he used it to clear brush, “did anybody on the Dodecahedron want a real light saber for?”

Thunder and Lightning followed as he cleared the way.

A couple of trees that had fallen along the old road yielded to the light saber and a block and tackle powered by two ponygirls. Eventually, they hit the blacktop. Time to clean up and look like a diplomat, not like a peddler. He got out the cleaning widget, and turned it on. A quick shake, and all the dust, dirt and wrinkles fell out. Thunder and Lightning shook themselves, and then gave the cart a yank. Good. Everything looked like it had just come from the cleaners.

He shook his head as his team trotted past the fields. Tobacco he could understand, and growing your own food was pretty obvious. But cotton? That was a glut on the world market; synthetics were cheaper anyway. Cotton just wasn’t that good a fabric. He left a trail of staring eyes and swearing overseers behind him.

A mile further on, he found a reception committee blocking the road. The guy in front sat his black gelding like he had been born in the saddle. His face looked like he was suffering from saddle sores. Or something.

“Now, just you stop right there, sonny boy. Where do you thing you’re going?”

“As to that, I’m Prince Andy of Freehold. I’m on a diplomatic mission. Stand aside.”

“Freehold, Shmeehold. You’re going straight to the lockup while we put your two whores up for auction.”

Andy shook his head sadly. “Your mother really should have taught you better manners. Last warning. Stand aside.”

They surged ahead. Then they went flying out of their saddles like they had been shot out of a cannon. Two of them hit the ground in a roll. Most of the rest hit the ground with a dull thump and the sound of breaking bones.

Their leader hovered in front of the horses. “Bad manners, my foot!” Flower said out of the air. “He needs a spanking.” So saying, his pants ripped off, and a thick strap occurred. “Forty whacks.”

THWACK. Scream. Another THWACK and another scream. Eventually, he quit screaming and just whimpered. “Enough of this. Let’s get on with the show.” The strap vanished, and the strapee described a lazy arc to the side of the road, where he hit with a dull thump.

“Uh, sir?” one of the two guys who had rolled said. “These guys need help bad.”

“Well, one of you go get a medic. The other one gets to show me where there’s some kind of authority with a brain in its head.”

“Hey, Dennis. You go for the Doc. I’ll take the prince to the mayor.”

Eventually they got into motion, leaving moans and grazing horses behind.

“Um, Prince. I’m Jeff.”

“Pleased to meet you, Jeff. It’s a pleasure to find someone with some brains in their head.”

“Some days I wonder about that. If I was as smart as I thought, I wouldn’t be here.”

“Oh, how’s that?”

“Well, I thought that recreating the Old South would be fun. Now that I’m in it, I don’t like what we’re doing to these people at all.”

“That was our thought. Tell me, how many of them do you think would leave if we gave them a ticket home and a few hundred dollars?”

“A while ago, I’d have said all of them. Now, I’m not so certain. Some of them can’t go home without being in a lot of trouble, and some of them, well, this is better than what they left.”

“That’s what we thought when we checked out this place. Well, we’ll see what happens when I talk to the mayor.”

They rode on in silence for a few minutes.

“Um, Prince. If I could ask a question about those two girls you’ve got pulling your cart?”

“Certainly. They’re ponygirls. Very well trained.”

“How did you ever get them? They certainly look like they like what they’re doing.”

“Well, there’s a story behind that. A while ago, there was a group that kidnapped girls and trained them this way. Then they switched to open recruiting and became somewhat more legal. They’re shutting down now, and some of the ponygirls decided to come to us since we’re starting a ponygirl program. These two may stay with us, or they may go somewhere else. Or they may just decide to hang up their horseshoes and do normal stuff for a while. It’s really their choice.”

The white marble of the town hall gleamed in the sun as they rode up. Jeff swung out of the saddle and threw the reins of his roan over the hitching rack. Prince Andy was a little more sedate in stepping out of the cart and hitching his girl’s reins to the rack. The mayor and several notables met them on the steps. Jeff did the introductions.

“If you’d accept our hospitality, Prince, we can get out of this sun,” the mayor said.

“It would be my pleasure, your Excellency.”

They went in. Two modestly dressed servants hurried around with drinks and snacks.

“So, what brings you here,” the mayor asked.

“As you’re probably aware, Freehold has claimed sovereignty over the entire island. Here’s a copy of the declaration. You’re invited to stay as a partially independent enclave under Freehold sovereignty, as long as you agree to a few rules.” He handed the mayor a copy of the rules. “Notice that these rules are actually principles. What you do within your enclave is your business, as long as it satisfies the principles here.”

The mayor looked at the list and turned a shade paler. “I think we need more copies so we can discuss them.”

Flower spoke from the empty air. “I thought you might.” Prince Andy reached out his hand, and paper appeared in it. There was a dead silence. He handed the sheaf of paper to one of the servants, who handed it around.

The mayor broke the silence. “If I may ask?”

“Of course. I assume you know the old saw ‘a sufficiently high technology is indistinguishable from magic?’ The lady you heard is named Flower Coves, and she’s quite proficient in that technology. She dealt with your welcoming committee back on the road; I just stood there and looked like I knew what I was doing. The same thing happened here. I can’t actually pull stuff out of the air. I reached out like I could, and she made the paper appear in my hand.”

Some of the people in the room looked relieved.

“Before we go on, I need to tell you one other thing. The tobacco crop has to go. One of the things Flower’s people do is keep organized crime off the island. Since tobacco is illegal just about everywhere, you have to be dealing with organized criminal elements to smuggle it out and sell it. You’ve come real close to being obliterated several times.”

There was another shocked silence. “Obliterated?” one of the women asked, shakily.

“Obliterated. Criminal gangs were simply killed out of hand. The slaveholder group didn’t just vanish a month ago. They and their slaves were picked up and are being processed. They are being trained as ponygirls and ponyboys. Their toys are being rehabilitated as far as possible.”

“Oh, my. I never realized.”

“Those actions are never publicized. Everyone wants to keep public reaction down.”

“If the tobacco crop goes,” the mayor asked, “what are we going to use for foreign exchange?”

“Have you considered tourists?” asked Prince Andy.

“Tourists? Why tourists?”

“Why not tourists? They’ve got money, and they’re expecting to spend it.”

“But it wouldn’t be very authentic.”

“Very true,” said the prince. “But you can’t do authentic anyway. We won’t let you. You can certainly do a generic recreation. Remember that there was plantation agriculture with imported or impressed agricultural workers all over the world.”

Chapter 13. Learning to Live With It

I woke up again with the false dawn. My body hurt. It took a little while for me to remember why I was here on a straw covered concrete floor rather than in my nice, comfortable bed. Absolute fury contested with fragmentary memories of the last few days. Eventually, the fury collapsed in on itself and I lay there shaking in reaction. Then I got up and looked in the bowls. Food. Was it real food? Who cared? I was hungry. I plunged my head in and began munching.

When the stable lads came by and opened the stall gates, I trotted out like a good little ponygirl and followed the herd through the ponygirl wash. Bluebird met me outside with a bridle. I stuck my head in, and she led me to a new section of the stable.

“Up on two legs, now. Arms behind you.” I obeyed. She brought my arms back to where my forelegs were crossed behind me, hooves sticking out. “Let’s see how far we can get them today. Bring your shoulders back, arch your back. Good.” My arms didn’t come very far back at all; they never have. She tied them so they were immobile. Then she released them, and had me get back onto all fours. Then she had me get back up, and tied my arms behind me. Repeat. She kept repeating until I came up and down on command, without really thinking about it.

“Harness next, girl.” I was standing up. She brought over an assemblage of straps. One thick strap went around my waist. “Suck it in.” she pulled it tight. Then the rest went over my shoulders, back and forth. It was actually very traditional; I’d put that type of harness on slaves many times. Straps to outline my breasts, straps around my chest, straps crossing in a big X. She checked it out. Then she brought out a bridle. I’m afraid I shied a bit, I remembered that ball gag. “Steady, girl, steady.” She put the bridle around my head. She held up a bit in front of me. “Open up, that’s a good girl.” I surprised myself. My mouth opened for the bit as if I had actually wanted it to. She put it in and hooked it to the bridle. I can’t say it was comfortable, but it was a lot better than that damn ball.

“I’m going to teach you a march step next,” she said. Oh, my. A complete sentence. “Right leg up.” I felt ghostly fingers on my leg. It came up as the fingers shaped the movement. Then it came down, and the fingers brought my left leg up. She had me march in place for a while, until I couldn’t feel the fingers any more. Then she shook my reins. “Forward. The fingers were back, shaping the movement as I went forward. She marched me around the room for a while, until I responded to the reins without thinking about it.

“Well, let’s start conditioning you.” She shook the reins and guided me out of the room where we had been practicing to another part of the stable. I saw rows of gleaming machines, some of which had ponygirls and ponyboys in them. They looked like treadmills, except that they didn’t look like any treadmills I had ever seen. The booths had four foot high sides, and front and back sections that were at least six feet tall and about two feet wide. She marched me over to an unoccupied booth, opened the side, and put me in.

Next, I got my waistband hooked to straps that came out of the side, so that I couldn’t move forward or backward at all. She clipped straps from the back to my bridle. Then she walked over to the front panel, adjusted something, and walked away.

I felt my reins shake, so I got moving. The floor moved under me at the exactly right speed. The front panel had two green indicators that went up and down, and two other green indicators that rocked back and forth. I discovered that if I kept my legs in synchronization with them, everything was fine. If I didn’t, red indicators came on that showed where my legs were, and shouldn’t be. If I left them that way too long, I got a shock.

The machine stuck in rest breaks just about when I thought I couldn’t move another step. It kept me going until I was thoroughly wrung out. When I finally just stood there, dazed, one of the stable lads came by and opened the machine. Back to my stall in four footed mode. Collapse. Finally, hunger got its signal through, and I fed myself. Then I got another session on the machine. Repeat. Collapse at night. Bluebird came by occasionally to train me in another movement.

After several days of this, one of the stable lads sent me out to the meadow.

The meadow fairly glowed, greenly manicured, under the sun. Blue rested in her favorite position under one of the trees. A worker guided a ponygirl who was pulling a grass cutter. Another pair worked with a roller. A herd of ponygirls and ponyboys were charging back and forth in one of the corners. I looked closer at what they were doing. Suddenly, a black and white ball popped out. Ponygirl soccer?

Something about Blue puzzled me. After a moment, I got it. She had her head back, as if she was the Sphinx, or a housecat. It didn’t look like she was straining. I trotted up the hill.

“Yo, Blue. How’s the leg?”

“Getting better. You’re Rolling Surf. Right. How are you doing?”

“You probably know better than I do. They aren’t telling me a damn thing.”

“Standard practice,” she laughed. “They don’t tell ponygirls anything they don’t have to. How has your week been?”

“Horrible and strenuous, about half of each.”

“Well, you earned it. They don’t put you in the chair because they enjoy seeing you becoming a gibbering wreck.”

“Oh, they did it to me.”

“And you know exactly why, if you let yourself think about it,” Blue said.

“Rebellion?” I hazarded a guess.

“Not this time. You can do better.”

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this one.”

“Well, spit it out, girl.”

“Letting myself get out of control.”

“Bull’s-eye. Rebellion requires intention.”

“Damn. That’s almost the story of my life. I get frustrated, and have to take it out on something. Or someone.”

“Well, plan on getting over it. Or on becoming compost.”

“They’d kill me?”

“Believe it. Ten counts of conspiracy to kidnap, forty counts of buying kidnap victims, a dozen murders and so many counts of non-consensual torture that they quit counting? Most people would say that they’ve been tolerant so far above and beyond the call of duty that they must be saints.”

“So whom do I talk to about it? You?”

“It’s a start. I’m a ponygirl with a direct tap into the data banks. I’m not a shrink.”


“Probably not. She’s a very good trainer, but she doesn’t have very much experience with heavy duty shrink stuff.”

“That girl in court, Flower, whatever her name is? She seems to be powerful.”

“Flower Coves? Don’t make me laugh. She’s good at sales and sales support. Outside of that, she tends to see everything as a nail.”

“Sees everything as a nail. Oh.” I laughed. That did seem to describe what little I knew of her. “Then where do I start?”

“We’ll start at the top, with the Sorceress.” She lifted her head. “Yo, Alice!”

YIPE! Suddenly this woman was sitting in front of me. She was about 5’6”, maybe fortyish, and dressed the same way everyone else seemed to be. Leather miniskirt, high heeled boots, blouse so tight she could be arrested for indecent exposure.

“So you’re ready,” this apparition asked me. “How would you describe it?”

“I want to get back at them!” I realized I was shaking.

“Who are they? Be specific.”

“Well, just they. Everybody.” She had me confused now.

This went on for a while. I said things, and she asked questions. Lots of questions. My answers started connecting the dots for me. After a while I started sobbing and she held me. When I finished, I sat up again.

“So I’m all better now?”

“Not hardly. That’s one of the big delusions. When it stops hurting, everything’s going to be all right. There’s two things left. First, I’m going to teach you some new ways of handling frustration. Then you’re going to have to learn how to live in the real world.”

“Well, I suppose I can’t have everything at once.”

She clapped her hands in delight. “Great answer! You’ve learned one of the new ways already!” She vanished.

I looked at Blue. “I wish she wouldn’t do that!”

“Well, she likes to be mysterious. Part of it’s pure showmanship. Like Flower’s tail. She doesn’t really do what she does by waving that thing, but it has a certain pizzazz to it.”

“Oh, well. What’s next?”

“Whatever you want, within limits. Go play soccer. Find a stallion and get laid. Eat. Sleep. Just do it somewhere else, please.”

The closer I got to the soccer game, the more it looked like a chaotic grudge match. I spotted a fair number of my peers on one side. The other had a disquieting number of ponygirls and ponyboys I’d seen at shows. Including two from my own stable. If anybody actually knew how to play the game, it wasn’t exactly obvious. Fortunately, it was impossible to foul out by using your hands; nobody had any hands to use. The ball came flying out at me, so I did the obvious thing. I slashed at it with my whip. Except that I didn’t have one. Something connected, however, and the ball went flying back in and hit my former ponyboy in the head, right where he wasn’t looking.

He staggered out of the mess, and lay down.

I trotted over. “Sorry about that, I didn’t mean to hit you.”

He looked up at me and did a double take. “That’s got to be a first, mistress.”

“I’m not Lady Chase any more. I’m Rolling Surf. What are they calling you? And why are you here? I’d have thought they’d have shipped you all back to your families or something.”

He laughed. “I’m still Driving Rain, mistress. Oh, damn. Got to quit that.”

“Too right. I’m nobody’s mistress. In either sense of the term.”

“Why I’m here? They decided to keep all of the ponies here until they could figure out what to do with us.”

“Pissed about that?”

“Yes and no. Fact is, I’ve got nothing to go back to. I was drifting when I was kidnapped. I needed a new start; I just didn’t think it would be as a ponyboy. I figure you owe me an apology, at least.”

“For what, specifically? I probably do owe you one, but I like to know what I’m apologizing for.”

He looked at me like I was crazy. “Everything, damn it!”

“For your being born? I’m not your mommy. For your being kidnapped? I didn’t order it. Be a bit more specific.”

He looked shocked. Then he looked thoughtful. “Well, the biggest gripe I have over the whole thing is not being asked! And the more I think about it, the more it looks like I want to take the kidnappers apart, but I don’t have that much against you.” He grinned. “With one exception.”


“I’ve wanted to get you on your back and screw the hell out of you ever since I saw you.”

Boing! I hadn’t been laid in over a week. “Well, are you stallion enough to do it?” I bounced up to move away. He scrambled to his hooves and charged me. I moved away, and he charged me again. What the heck? Then the light dawned. He was herding me!

I let myself get into the game, and led him all over the pasture. Eventually, he herded me so my head stuck out between a pair of trees that my shoulders wouldn’t go through. I’ll bet he’d planned it that way! When he leaped up on my back and entered me, it felt like he was going to come all the way through my head! AHHH! In and out, up and down, his strokes kept time with my whinnies. Or maybe the other way. Eventually, I came with a scream, and so did he. He backed off of me, and then I backed out of mother nature’s stocks. We kissed and then collapsed.

“Well, big guy, did that satisfy you?”

“Gaaah! You give a stallion quite a ride! It’s at least a down payment.”

“Come collect the next installment whenever you’re ready.”

The next challenge arrived with blood in her eye. I’d given Bouncing Betty her high school nickname when I’d had her kidnapped for my stable. She’d gone well out of her way to make my life miserable; I figured I’d return the favor.

“You miserable ... slut.” She stopped short and stared.

“Do tell.” She hadn’t exactly been celibate.

“What did I ever do to you to deserve this?”

“Besides be nasty to the rich kid that had the misfortune to be smarter than you? Not a whole lot, really. Anyway, I gave you a job you could handle.”

“What!” she sputtered nicely.

“Let’s see. Three jobs in three years as a file clerk for companies that were so backward they needed a file clerk. Husband ran away with his boyfriend, and took your daughter with him. You did quite well for me in dressage competitions; showing off seems to be your main talent.”

She sputtered for a moment. “Let’s see how you like that damn chair!” as she stalked off in Blue’s direction.

“Insubordination was her other talent.” I commented to Driving Rain.

“I noticed.”

Chapter 14. Tourists? Oh, my

A few weeks later, Blue called me over when I hit the meadow for my day off. “How’d you like an offer you won’t want to refuse?”

“What is it? Assistant meadow monitor? I can refuse that easily.”

“A little bit more responsibility than that. How’d you like to be Lady Chase again?”

Good thing I had all four hooves planted on the ground. “Of course I would. What’s on top of the list of catches?”

Blue laughed. “Well, of course there’s a catch. We’d be shirking our responsibility if we didn’t keep you on some kind of leash. Here’s the deal. The Freehold authorities aren’t real happy about what they did with some of you. This isn’t the best program for dominants. You’ve only been chaired once; the average seems to be around three times. In less than six weeks. They’re discussing what to do next.”

“In your case, they also like how you’ve been handling yourself with your former slaves. So they want to discuss setting you up as a tourist attraction.”

“A tourist attraction? Me? Someone has got to be out of their minds.”

“Their marketing department thinks it would be an attraction. Not a huge attraction, but then, Freehold doesn’t really want tourists in their millions. Hundreds will do just fine, thank you. And your little corner of things would only get a few of those.”

“More of a dungeon and breakfast? I’ve heard of those.”

“Something like that. You’ll get some guests for the guest rooms, and some for the dungeons.”

“There’s still got to be a catch.”

“Well, of course. You’ll have to treat your slaves better. That doesn’t mean let up on discipline. It does mean cutting out the abuse.”

“I think I can handle that.”

“We do too. The other thing is that you’d have to handle some of the walking wounded you created. The ones that can’t function on their own any more.”

“Yuck. But you’re right. We screwed them up; we’ve got to make amends somehow. So what’s the next step?”

“Discussions. You keep on with your training as a ponygirl. There’ll be a topic on the system for you to check in and work on at night setting this up.”

“Yeah-Hah!” Fran shouted as Little Green Apples crossed the finish line first. “I thought that filly was a winner!”

“She’d never live that name down if she wasn’t,” said Prince Andy. “This is a tourist race, isn’t it?”

Lady Chase said, “Sure is, Prince. She’s on a month vacation as a ponygirl. This is actually her third time here; she seems to like it.”

“Also quite good form,” added Fran. “Pity this isn’t a claiming race. I’d love to bid on her.”

“Interesting idea,” said Lady Chase. “Now that I think of it, they may do that over in the Old South.”

“This is a beautiful layout,” Fran said. “How ever did you do it this fast?”

“Well, fast is relative. It took two years of hard labor to get here. Of course, I had most of the money from my colleagues that didn’t make it. For the rest, I just copied what the Old South group did, with modern amenities. Keeping the slave labor happy is tricky, especially since Freehold insists that they have the right to leave any time they want.”

“You certainly succeeded,” Fran said. “I’m enjoying myself tremendously. Of course, part of that is being able to bet on the races without worrying about how my track or my ponygirls are doing. And the maid you loaned me is great. Is she for sale?”

“Could be,” Lady Chase said, thoughtfully. “She told her supervisor she was looking for a change. I don’t know if it’s vertical or horizontal. Ask her if she wants to be sold to you. If she says yes, we’ll negotiate the details.”

“You might even get that pony you were admiring,” added Prince Andy.

“Oh? I thought she was a tourist.”

“So she said. We just discovered a material error on her declaration. If it proves out, she’s put her hoof into it up to her eyeballs.”

“Now this is quite a bit different from my stables,” said Fran as they walked down the columns of stalls. “It looks more like a stable. Mine looks more like a prison.”

“I understand that’s the way your style started,” said the Prince. “This is a variant on our training stables, suitable for guests that want to experience being ponies. Let’s see, the directory says she’s in stall 26.” They went down the wide walkway past three openings to their left, and then turned into the fourth.

“I thought she was in the third column,” said Fran. “Oh, I see. Her head’s on the fourth row, her tail’s on the third.” Each of the stalls on the left had a shelf about two and a half feet high, and a foot and a ha lf deep. The top had a bowl of pellets and a bowl of water set into the wood. Metal numerals decorated the front of the shelf.

The stall itself was about three feet wide and seven feet deep, with sides that ran from floor to ceiling. The other end had a four foot tall swinging gate with a sliding bolt on the outside. Once in, the pony couldn’t turn herself around while standing on all four hooves. There were several other ways she could turn herself around, but the exercise was kind of pointless, since she couldn’t see over the gate without standing, and she would be punished severely for attempting to stand in the stall.

Most of the stalls were empty. Little Green Apples was eating at her food bowl as the party walked up. She kept on eating until Lady Chase cleared her throat. Then she looked up, smiled and whinnied.

“Nice win, Green,” she said as she held out her hand with a sugar cube in it. Little Green Apples snuffled at the hand for a moment, and then took the sugar cube in her teeth, crunched it, and swallowed it. She whinnied again.

“We need to talk. There’s a discrepancy in your customs declaration. Prince Andy will explain.” Little Green Apples froze for a moment.

“What?” she said.

“Visitors are required to have a return ticket. We can’t find any evidence that you have one.”

She wilted on her hooves. “Oh. I can’t go back. I ran out of money. I almost got kicked out of my apartment. Everything is in storage with my sister. She won’t lend me a dime, but she will store my stuff for me. It took the last of my money to get a one way ticket and pay for a week’s experience as a ponygirl.”

The Prince looked at her. “You’re telling me you haven’t paid Lady Chase for the last three weeks? That’s theft of services.”

“No, I haven’t. I’m sorry,” she sobbed. “What’s going to happen to me?”

“Well, normally, you’d become a ponygirl, and work your way up to citizen before you could leave. You’d also have to make restitution to Lady Chase for three weeks, but that shouldn’t be too hard. Since I haven’t filed my report, however, you’ve got some room to maneuver. I take it there’s no possibility you can get the money from someone in the next couple of days?”

“I’ll try, but my family has written me off,” she sobbed.

“The other option is that Fran, here, has expressed an interest in buying you for her ponygirl stable.”

Green’s head came up. “What? Why would she do that? And why would I do that?”

Fran said, “I liked the way you ran that last race. You’re going to be a ponygirl for a while, one way or another. If you decided to go with me, you’ll sign an indenture that will be administered under the Consensual Slave Act. That’s a minimum five years to get out from under the training expense. You get weekly days off and an annual vacation. Our style is much heavier on the bondage, but Freehold doesn’t give you the days off or vacations. With me, you also get career training and regular payments to a retirement fund. Freehold, of course, has it’s own system for that, but it only works if you intend to stay here. If you sign the indenture, I’ll pay Lady Chase, and getting you back will become my responsibility.”

“I need to think,” she said, shakily.

“You can take a couple of days, as far as I’m concerned,” said Prince Andy. “I don’t need to file my report immediately. I believe Fran will be around for a while.”

“A couple of days works for me,” said Fran. “If you’ve got questions, I’ll drop around to talk to you.”

Author’s Afterword

This is the end of the Community. The caverns are empty; the power plant is shut down. Leo’s ranch has new owners who have no idea that there was a tunnel to the caverns. Some day, an explorer may stumble across them, or the Army may decide to make use of them.

The story sequence runs from about 2000 to 2021. There is a lot of room for more stories. Interested authors should contact me first; I’ve got a background document that explains the layout, the people, the technology and the time line. I’ve already had one person ask me what happened to Selma, the main character of Raw Material.

The main action moves to the Dodecahedron, which is normally located somewhere between the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn. Dodecahedron stories are all about people’s experiences with the Dodecahedron; the people of that place are simply too powerful to make good focus characters. I mean, who can sympathize with Flower Coves at the end? She waves her tail, and the doors fly off of a well-built palisade.

Freehold has been set up as a framework for a number of interesting subgroups, as well as being interesting in its own right. The Old South recreation with ponygirls is one. Lady Chase’s slaveholder’s fantasy is another. There may be a Gorean recreation lurking around somewhere. Freehold is adamant about no powered vehicles, so all of them either have real horses or ponygirls.