= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Alice in Thunderland is a nerdy, sci-fi, fantasy, bdsm, romance. If you are not nerdy or into sci-fi fantasy, you can skim through the first half and go directly to the playroom scene. The BDSM is traditional and timeless. It involves all aspects - BD, DS, & SM. There is some erotic pain, but it is relatively mild. If, on the other hand, you are nerdy and into sci-fi fantasy romance, but not into BDSM, you can read the first portion, skim through the playroom scene and get to the end where Alice saves the world and lives happily ever after with her prince charming... or in this case, a Star Commander. If, however, you are nerdy, into sci-fi fantasy romance and BDSM then I heartily recommend that you take a leisurely read through all 14K words of Alice’s adventures in Thunderland. And before anyone asks, “No, I have no idea where to get the helmet.”
WARNING! All of my writing is intended for adults over the age of 18 ONLY. Stories may contain strong or even extreme sexual content. All people and events depicted are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Actions, situations, and responses are fictional ONLY and should not be attempted in real life.
If you are under the age or 18 or do not understand the difference between fantasy and reality or if you reside in any state, province, nation, or tribal territory that prohibits the reading of acts depicted in these stories, please stop reading immediately and move to somewhere that exists in the twenty-first century.
Archiving and reposting of this story is permitted, but only if acknowledgment of copyright and statement of limitation of use is included with the article. This story is copyright (c) 2014 by The Technician.
Individual readers may archive and/or print single copies of this story for personal, non-commercial use. Production of multiple copies of this story on paper, disk, or other fixed format is expressly forbidden.
Alice Lutwidge was far from being your typical nineteen-year-old. In fact, she was what many nineteen-year-old girls dreamed they could be. She was tall, thin, blond, blue-eyed, beautiful... and rich. She was also a genius who already had four doctorates from three different colleges. She seemed to have everything... except a job or a boyfriend.
The job wasn’t really needed. At age 12– in her senior year of high school– Alice created a battery for a science fair project that was somewhat unique... no, it was absolutely unheard of in the scientific world. It was a fuel cell that used biomass and carbon dioxide to create electricity. The byproducts were oxygen and a syrupy liquid that was very much like thin honey.
Alice recognized how groundbreaking her discover was and had her father, a lawyer, file a patent on the process. She wasn’t really trying to protect her invention or make money on it. In fact, it was the opposite. She wanted to make sure that everyone in the world could use the technology.
Her father set up the process to be almost free for use anywhere in the world. All that was required was a one tenth of one percent royalty payment if the battery was sold. It was cheaper for the big companies and big governments to protect her patent than attempt their own, so they paid the minuscule royalty.
But it was soon discovered that the process could be scaled and within months there were Lutwidge fuel cell banks the size of shopping centers powering whole cities and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they did so. One tenth of one percent is only one dollar on a thousand dollars. That doesn’t seem like much, but those huge systems sell for billions, and one tenth of one percent of one billion is one million dollars.
Alice didn’t need a job, but she wanted one. She had tried several jobs, but interpersonal relationships weren’t her strong point and employers don’t like being told that their pet ideas are stupid and will not work. They like even less hearing “I told you so,” when the inevitable crash occurs.
Perhaps there was a job out there for someone like Alice, but she had yet to find it. So, she spent her days working on this or that new idea or on the internet keeping her mind sharp with online games and increasing her knowledge of... everything.
Perhaps there was a boy out there for someone like Alice also, but she was starting to doubt that. Most men her age were threatened by her looks or her intelligence or her money. She tried dating among the “old money” set, but soon discovered that much of the old money gene pool had been severely diluted by trophy wives and bimbos– or gigolos– accumulated along the way. She tried dating among the high intelligence set, but discovered that most young men with anything near her IQ were even more socially inept than she was. She even tried dating older men, but... well, young girls who date older men are usually looking for money, not the other way around.
She knew what she wanted. She wanted someone who was kind enough to love her, intelligent enough to understand her, and forceful enough to be willing to take charge of her and her life.
Her current therapist told her that wasn’t necessarily a healthy viewpoint and told her she needed to accept her true self and should just assert herself in the world. Her previous therapist told her basically the same thing.
Dr. Burrows– the next therapist back– came closest to truly helping her. Alice also came closest to truly being honest with him. He asked her to identify with a character in a movie. “Of all the movies you have ever seen,” he asked, “which character comes closest to being you?”
She chose “Number Five,” the robot in the old, camp, sci-fi movie “Short Circuit” who was brought to life by a bolt of lightning and spends the first half of the movie seeking “input.” More than anything else, Alice was seeking “input.” She wanted to know. She wanted to experience. She wanted to feel. And secretly, she wanted to be overwhelmed by what she found.
There was no game she could not win. There was no puzzle she could not solve. There was no concept that she could not understand. There were even few physical things which presented an obstacle for her. She was more than fit and her mind easily grasped the oriental concepts of self-defense. She had attained master’s level belts in several different disciplines. If someone accosted her on a dark night thinking they had found an easy target, they would be woefully surprised.
For all of her short life Alice had been the overwhelming force that others had to deal with. She yearned to know what it would be like to be overwhelmed. She wanted to experience being physically overwhelmed or overwhelmed with input so that she could no longer understand, could no longer process, could no longer be in control, but instead could just be. She had even written that desire down to discuss with Dr. Burrows at their next session.
But there was no next session. A train operator was talking on the phone rather than watching the warning signals on the track and slammed into the back of another commuter train. Dr. Burrows was among the casualties. In a way, so was Alice. She gave up trying to relate to other people after that and buried herself even more completely in her experiments and her computer quest for input.
Then one Tuesday morning, her computer spoke to her. That in itself was not unusual, she had developed several different voice interfaces for computer systems and normally used one of them for her own personal work. But this wasn’t her interface. It was a different voice. A male voice she had not programmed and had never heard before said, “Alice, I have a special opportunity for you.”
Her immediate response was ‘Damn, something got through the spam filter.’ And she began manually checking pages to see which one was playing a directed ad.
“This is a chance for you to test a totally new alternative reality system,” the voice from her speakers continued. “There is absolutely no risk. I don’t want credit card numbers. We don’t need any personal information. You can even print off the page that guarantees no charges at any time. Just give me a few seconds to tell you all about this.”
Alice continued to look at her monitor. She had closed all programs. Everything except the operating system itself was shut down but the voice continued. “OK,” she said. “You’ve got fifteen seconds, then I’m powering down the CPU.”
A page suddenly displayed on the monitor. It showed what looked like a sound-cancelling battle helmet with a blast visor. “This helmet,” the voice said rapidly, “is all that is needed for the most overwhelming alternative reality experience ever.”
The image of the helmet began to turn as the voice continued, “If you are willing to participate in our tests, we will ship you this helmet overnight. All you have to do is experience it. You don’t have to report back. You don’t have to fill out any surveys. You don’t even have to return the helmet. It will report back on its own and then deactivate itself following the tests. What do you say? Will you become one of our alpha testers?”
Alice paused before answering. They had her at “overwhelming,” but she didn’t want to seem too eager. Besides, poor social skills or not, she had enough experience with people trying to scam her out of money that she was wary of anything that sounded too good to be true.
“OK,” she said. “Ship it. I’ll look at it. But if there are charges of any sort, you will hear from my lawyers.”
“Thank you,” said the voice and the images disappeared from her screen. Alice immediately checked her history, cache records, and router IP logs to see where the connection had come from, but strangely there was no evidence that anything out of the ordinary had been on the network or in memory. She also checked a few areas that most people don’t even know exist, but according to her computer, the voice and the ad never happened.
‘Hmmm,’ she said to herself. ‘I guess it’s time for a few extra security traps to see whose messing with my system.’ She then went back to her simultaneous games, conversations, and explorations.
When Alice stepped out onto her porch the next morning to replenish the seed in her bird feeders, there was a package sitting next to the door. It was addressed to her. There was no return address as such, but the word “Thunderworld” was printed across the top of the box in large, dark brown letters. Beneath that, in smaller lettering, it said “The Ultimate Gaming Experience.”
‘I wonder who delivered this?’ she asked herself. There were no shipping marks indicating which carrier had brought it and no barcodes or other automatic sorting labels. There was just a plain white label with her name and address.
She continued to inspect the box as she carried it back into her house and set it on the kitchen table. The tape that sealed the box was of particular interest to her. All edges had been sealed, but she could not find the end of the tape. Also, although the tape went along the edge and was half on the top and half on the sides, the corners seemed to be form-fitted to the box. It was as if the tape had been sprayed on or otherwise formed in place.
The box also felt strangely warm. Had she found it much later in the morning or perhaps in the afternoon, she would have put it down to the sun’s warmth, but it was still slightly cool outside. Why was the box warm?
She slit it open with a kitchen knife and discovered a flat gray surface beneath the top. Whatever it was seemed to have been formed inside the box, or the box was formed around it, so it was necessary for her to slit the sides of the box to get it out. She was left with a gray cube sitting on the table.
There appeared to be a seam that ran diagonally across two opposing sides. Closer inspection showed a slight seam on the top and bottom edges corresponding to the diagonal line. Grabbing the corners of the box in opposite hands, she pulled.
The helmet was the same dull gray color as the foam or whatever it was in which it was embedded. It looked somewhat like a fighter pilot’s helmet, even to having her name, “Alice,” written in script above the solid visor. She carefully examined it, but there were no switches or controls evident. In fact, nothing was evident except gray padding in the interior. There were no screens or speakers or microphones or anything. Just more of the strange foam-like material with two round patches of shiny cloth in an identical shade of gray that corresponded to where her ears would be within the helmet.
‘I guess they’re planning to work on the visuals later,’ she said to herself as she slowly turned the helmet around in her hands. ‘Or maybe this is just one to try on for size.’
She raised the helmet above her head and slowly lowered it into place. The visor was totally opaque and things dimmed as the helmet slid into place. The cloth pads moved smoothly over her ears. Alice noticed that everything seemed to fit as though the helmet had been molded exactly for her. Then a voice spoke in her head.
Obviously, there were headphones buried somewhere in the helmet. The effect was similar to listening to music on really good stereo earbuds or headphones. If everything is set up just right, sometimes it seems like the music is coming from inside your head. The voice seemed to come from the center of her head as it said, “Welcome to Thunderland.”
Alice startled and attempted to look around as if trying to see the source of the voice as it continued. “Please wait while the helmet calibrates itself for your visual cortex.”
Visual cortex? Was the helmet transmitting directly into her brain?
There were a few flashes of light and suddenly Alice was standing in front of a huge set of wooden doors that said “Thunderland” across them. They slowly opened inward and Alice moved through them.
A young man stepped out from behind a counter of some sort and smiled at her. “Welcome to Thunderland, Alice,” he said. “As you will discover, Thunderland is more than just a game. Thunderland is an alternate reality that is created and shaped exactly for you. Enjoy your stay. If at any time you need to leave Thunderland, just say ‘Delete me; delete me; delete me’ and you will be returned to your normal reality.”
Alice frowned slightly at the weird escape command and started to ask a question, but before she could speak, the young man pointed further down the path and said, “As you go further into Thunderland, you will encounter a series of doors. Each set of doors is a choice you make that shapes your reality. Because this is an alpha test version, the choices are not reversible on this trip through Thunderland, so choose wisely.”
He then stepped back behind the counter and he and the counter disappeared. She was now standing beneath a summer sky filled with white puffy clouds. A brick pathway wound into the hills ahead. As Alice started down the path, all she could think of was the song from “The Wizard of Oz,” about following the yellow brick road. She halfway expected to see Munchkins capering along beside her.
As she reached the top of the hill, she could see in the valley below a tremendous stone wall that stretched out to the horizon in both directions. There were a series of wooden doors in the wall. She followed the path to the wall and then walked back and forth in front of the it reading the words deeply carved into each door. There were six doors labeled, “Combat Games, Nature Games, Real World Games, Brain Games, Sci-Fi Games, and Sex Games.”
She immediately eliminated “Combat Games”. Since she was a small child, she had firmly opposed using her skills for war.
“Brain Games” was also quickly eliminated. That was not an alternate reality for her. Her life was one brain game after another.
“Real World Games” was likewise eliminated. Why come to an alternate reality just to experience the real world?
“Nature Games” was tempting. But she didn’t get along with animals any better than she did other people, so she also discarded that choice.
That left the last two doors, “Sci-Fi Games” and “Sex Games”. She stood in front of the wall slowly turning her head slightly from “Sci-Fi” to “Sex”. Finally she said aloud, “So, do I expand my outer nerd or my inner slut?”
She laughed aloud as she pushed open the “Sex Games” door. On the other side of the door, the sky was totally clear and a hot sun shone down on an almost arid terrain. Another wall ran from horizon to horizon. This wall had only three doors– “Romantic, Vanilla, and Kinky”.
“This is a very interesting menu system,” she said aloud, not knowing who or what could hear her. “I am impressed.”
The three doors were close together and she stood in front of “Vanilla” glancing back and forth between “Romantic” and “Kinky”. “I know I’m not Romantic,” she said, still speaking to the program or whoever. “But am I Vanilla or Kinky?”
“More importantly,” she said a little louder, “do I want to experience Vanilla or Kinky sex games?”
On the other side of the “Kinky” door, the sun was hotter and the ground was desert sand. There were three more doors, “Fetish, BDSM, and Non-consensual.”
“I feel like a pearl,” she said with a giggle. “Each door I go through peels off another layer revealing more of my inner self.”
“Fetish?” she asked aloud. “That could be about anything. There’re probably doors on the other side that say “Scat, Panties, Golden Showers, High Heels, and... whatever.”
“Non-consensual?” she asked as she moved to stand in front of that door. “I guess that is everything from reluctance to rape.”
“BDSM?” She laughed as she remembered an online argument she had once had with someone who insisted that it actually should be BD-DS-SM because BDSM encompasses Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, and Sado-Masochism.
As she opened the door, she was even expecting three more doors which said “BD, DS, and SM” or something similar, but instead there were only two doors in the next wall. One door was painted a dark red and had three rows of large gold letters. The first row said, “Top.” Beneath that was the word “Dom,” and beneath that was the word “Master.”
The other door was a medium shade of gray on which were three rows of smaller words painted in flat black. The top row said, “Bottom.” The next said, “Sub,” and the next read, “Slave.” What really got Alice’s attention, however, was the even smaller script beneath the word “Slave.” In what looked like her own handwriting, it read, “Alice, enter here to be totally overwhelmed.”
On the other side of the gray door was a small room. It was actually more of a vestibule or hallway than a room. There were mirrors on one side and a counter on the other behind which seemed to be a coat– or perhaps costume– room. The young man from the entrance was standing behind the counter.
“A few minor final decisions,” he said, “and then you are ready. First, how do you want to experience this reality? You can be anything or anyone you want to be. Just tell me and the program will change you to be what you request.”
“Can I be myself?” asked Alice.
“Of course,” the young man replied. “And how do you wish to be dressed?” He waved his hand toward the rows and rows of coats and dresses behind him. “Whatever you wish is what you will have,” he said brightly.
Alice looked at herself in the mirrors and for the first time realized that she was naked. Actually, it was the first time she realized that she even had a body in this reality. “When I walk through that final door, I’m a slave? Right?” she asked.
“That is what you have chosen,” the young man replied in his measured tone.
“Then I think I am already properly dressed,” she answered. “I assume that my master can clothe me otherwise if he so desires?”
“Of course,” he answered.
As Alice pushed against the final door, the young man added, “Enjoy your time at Thunderland. And remember, ‘Delete me; delete me; delete me,’ and you return to your normal reality.”
Alice had no idea what to expect on the other side of that final door. If she had been given a thousand guesses, however, none of them would have been the 18th Century sitting room in which she found herself. A middle-aged man sat in a stiff-backed padded chair with a drink of some sort in his hand. Since he was holding a snifter, she assumed it was brandy.
“Have a seat,” he said pleasantly, motioning with his drink hand toward an overstuffed chair that faced his own. “We have much to discuss before we begin.”
There was something mysterious about this man. He was rugged and handsome. Alice had no problem envisioning him in a military uniform of some sort, but he seemed to her to be more of an explorer than a warrior.
The only things not perfect about the figure were his eyes and the color of his skin. The eyes seemed almost too big for his face. It broke Alice’s train of thought as she remarked to herself that the programmers would have to work on that imperfection. Surprisingly, she had no more than thought of it when the eyes adjusted to a more appropriate size. Likewise his skin color flushed from the slightly gray to a more normal skin tone.
“You wish to be overwhelmed,” he said casually, “and I shall do that.” He swirled the drink in his hand. “And you wish to experience an overloading of your senses.” He laughed slightly. “I shall do that also.”
He paused. “But before we begin, you must understand that the overwhelming will be physical and may be more than a little uncomfortable.” Another sip of his drink. “And your senses will be overloaded with both pleasure and pain.” He paused for emphasis and to swirl his drink and take a sip. “Some of that pleasure and some of that pain will be sexual in nature. ... Some will not.”
He sat back against his chair and swirled his drink once again. “I am going to give you one minute to reconsider your choices. During those sixty seconds, you may say ‘Delete me; delete me; delete me,’ and return to your normal reality.” Another sip of the drink. “But at the end of that time, you will be my prisoner until I decide to release you.”
He sat forward and looked directly into Alice’s eyes. “Understand fully that once I claim you as my slave, your escape phrase will NOT work until I release you.”
He lifted Alice’s face slightly so that their eyes were once again in direct contact. She had not realized that she had looked down. In the same forceful voice he said, “If you use the escape phrase, I will stop what I am doing, but you will not return to your normal reality unless I release you.”
He was silent for a moment and then sat back up and lifted his brandy snifter toward Alice. “Do you understand that?” he asked.
“Yes, I think I do,” she answered.
“You think you do or you KNOW you do?” he replied. His voice was louder and even more firm.
“I understand,” Alice said.
“Good,” he replied. “Then I will wait for sixty seconds. If you are still here when the clock chimes, we will begin.”
The handsome man leaned against the back of his chair and sat slowly swirling the brandy in the snifter while the ticking of a large grandfather clock filled the silence. Alice looked nervously around the room. This was her final chance to back out.
‘No,’ she said silently to herself, ‘the pearl has been peeled down to this inner layer. My inner desires have been brought to the surface. It is time to see if they are truly what I want.’
The chime of the clock and the loud mechanical snap of iron manacles trapping her arms and legs to the chair occurred simultaneously. The minute was up.
The handsome man stood from his chair and removed the light gray smoking jacket / robe that he had been wearing. Beneath it, he was dressed in black leather. He still looked more like an explorer or scientist than a warrior, but he now looked like a very dangerous explorer or scientist.
He reached out and stroked Alice’s hair. Her first thought was appreciation for the game’s ability to make her truly feel his touch. Then the pleasure of his light stroking overtook that thought and she gave a slight contented moan. This felt good.
“Close your eyes,” he commanded, and she did so.
The hand left her head. It was now totally silent in the room. Something brushed against the tips of her nipples. She gasped in response. He was now stroking her breasts with his fingers, first one breast and then the other. As his fingers came together over her nipples, he would give a quick pinch of the nipple itself. Alice could feel herself becoming wet.
The fingers continued to tweak and tease her breasts, but now the fingers of his other hand were brushing lightly over her pubic hair. She could feel herself starting to squirm under his touch. Suddenly the fingers at her breasts held tightly to her nipple and two of the fingers between her legs slipped into her sex.
“Ahhhh!” she gasped.
“Quiet, Alice.” he commanded. “Do not speak. Do not make a sound. Just respond to my hands and my voice.”
Alice struggled to remain quiet as fingers continued to tweak and pinch her breasts. It was at the edge of being painful, but somehow, that edge kept receding into the background as pleasure flowed through her body.
The fingers in her cunt were slowly sliding in and out. Each penetration ended with the rest of his hand making contact with her now throbbing clit. And each withdrawal ended with the fingers sliding over that very sensitive nub. Alice was drawing short gasps of air in through her nostrils as she attempted to remain quiet. As the passion rose within her, she found herself pulling against the iron restraints on her arms and legs.
“Open you mouth,” he suddenly ordered, and Alice did.
A sudden, somewhat sour, taste filled her mouth as two fingers thrust against her tongue. “Have you ever tasted yourself before?” he asked.
Alice could not speak with the fingers in her mouth, but she wagged her head from side to side to say ‘no’.
“Clean off my fingers,” he said and Alice closed her mouth over them and began licking and sucking.
“Open your eyes and come with me,” he then ordered.
As Alice opened her eyes, there was a click and clang of the manacles releasing. At first she found it difficult to get up. Her body wanted more of what she had been experiencing in the chair and was reluctant to leave it.
“Now!” he barked, and Alice found herself nearly jumping to her feet.
He walked toward a dark wooden door that matched the paneling of the room. As he reached for the handle, he turned toward Alice and said, “This is my play room. I designed it hoping that someone like you would come by and want to use it.”
For a moment, his eyes were once again too large for his face and his skin color was much too gray. Alice thought of one of her professor’s comments in an advanced programming class. “The programmer always shows through in the finished product. Someone who truly understands programming can see your thoughts and even your personality buried amongst the code.”
Alice had thought him silly at the time, but now she wasn’t so sure. For a moment, she was sure that she was getting a glimpse of the man who had created Thunderworld... or at least this portion of it.
As Alice entered the room, the door closed solidly behind her. From this side, the door was just one of the panels in the wooden wall. The decor was still Baroque and the walls looked like the luxurious walls of an 18th Century French castle, but the furnishings, except for two chairs and a divan, had a much more modern touch. Or, at least they seemed that way to Alice.
She wasn’t sure. She really didn’t have that vast a knowledge of 18th Century BDSM devices. There was a large X-shaped cross with leather restraints hanging from the ends mounted on one wall of the room. A padded punishment bench of some sort sat in the corner. A set of stocks which were made of highly polished cherry wood stood in the middle of the room. And across the back wall of the room was a slanted rack.
Alice had seen racks before. They were featured in historical documents from the Inquisition and from Medieval times. She had even seen an actual rack in the Tower of London with large wooden spools on which to tightly-wind the ropes which would pull some unfortunate soul’s arms and legs out of their sockets.
This rack was different, however. For one, it used chains rather than ropes. It also had an iron or steel mechanism with a much finer gear and pawl system that would allow the tension to be increased in much smaller increments. But the thing which made this rack most different from any rack Alice had ever seen was the padded stocks for the feet and padded restraints for the wrists.
The foot stocks were completely covered in leather and had what appeared to be sheep’s wool both within the ankle hole and on the bottom side of the stock. The arm restraints were almost long enough to reach the elbows and included a bar that could be clenched in the hand to prevent damage to the wrist. To be sure, this rack was capable of pulling someone apart, but it was obvious in its design that the intent was to create the tension without permanent damage to the person being stretched. Even the fact that it was slanted rather than flat implied that a person was intended to willingly place themselves in its pulling grip.
“Within this room you will call me ‘Master’ or ‘Sir’,” he said as he turned to face her. “Do you understand that?”
“Yes, sir!” Alice found herself answering in almost a shout.
“What are you to call me?” he asked.
“‘Sir’ or ‘Master’, Sir,” she answered. Her voice was more controlled, but just a little.
“Do you know what these devices are?” he asked. His voice was calm and reassuring, almost as if he did not want to unnecessarily scare her.
“Yes, sir, I do.”
“Then explain them to me,” he replied.
“The large cross is a Saint Andrew’s Cross,” she began. “It is used to hold someone firmly with their arms and legs spread out. The person can be either facing the cross or with their back to the cross. It can be used for whipping or other actions while the person is spread wide and helpless.”
“Go on,” he said with a smile.
“The rack is normally an instrument of torture that was used to very slowly and painfully pull a person apart. This rack is modified so that the tension can be more carefully controlled and the restraints are padded. I assume that is to allow someone to be taken to the very threshold without the actual destruction of their body.”
“You are very observant,” he replied. “Please continue.”
“This,” said Alice, setting her hand on the padded leather of the punishment bench, “is commonly called a spanking bench or punishment bench. A person kneels on the low pad and puts their body over the higher pad where it is strapped into place. Sometimes there is a stock for the hands and head, but this bench instead has an additional pad which seems to be intended to support the shoulders. It would appear that the arms are restrained down along the supports for that pad.
“You seem to know a great deal about these instruments. Have you studied them?”
“Yes, sir,” Alice answered. She looked down at the floor. “I find myself drawn to them.” She squirmed under his gaze. “I have read a great deal about their use.”
“But you have not yet experienced any of them have you, Alice?” he asked.
“No, sir, I have not.” She found herself flushing red as she answered because she was thinking that she was about to find out how each of these was used.
“And what is this final item used for?” he asked.
“This is a stock,” she answered. “It was used for public humiliation and punishment.” She thought to herself that she was starting to sound like a tourist guide. “A person’s hands and head were locked in the stocks and they were displayed in the public square. The people of the town, including the children, would say terrible things to them and throw mud and garbage at them.”
“I am sure that is what you read in your history books,” he replied, “but there was much more to it than just children throwing mud.” He raised the top of the stock. “A person was sentenced to the stocks for anything from an afternoon to several days.”
He motioned for Alice to step forward, then he guided her head and hands into the holes in the stock. “If it were for but an afternoon,” he continued as he closed the beam, trapping her in place, “then what you read was probably accurate.”
He stroked Alice’s back. “But if you were in the stock for several days, that meant you were bent over and vulnerable like this all night.” He gave a deep resonant laugh, “And a lot could happen overnight to a man, and especially to a woman.”
He slid his hand on down her back until he was stroking her ass. His fingers slipped between her legs and she moaned slightly. “You are dripping wet,” he said. “Is that because you are imagining all that could happen to you overnight, bent over and vulnerable like this?”
Alice suppressed another moan and answered, “Yes, Master, it is.”
“Sometimes the women of the village, when the opportunity presented itself, would get their revenge against a tart who had been teasing their husbands by stripping her naked in the middle of the night and leaving her to complete her time in the stocks open to everyone’s view.” He rubbed his fingers through Alice’s slit almost causing her legs to buckle.
“But that was a risky thing to do,” he added, “because the punishment for a woman interfering with a prescribed punishment was a public birching in these stocks.” He patted Alice’s asscheeks and asked, “Do you know what that entailed?”
“I’m not sure,” Alice moaned. She was starting to have trouble following the conversation.
“Women were not supposed to interfere with men’s decisions,” he said softly. “They could throw mud or garbage, but they couldn’t change the nature of the punishment. That was not a woman’s place. So if they were caught adding to or subtracting from a public punishment, they were stripped, or at least had their dresses put up over their heads while they were trapped in the stocks, and publicly birched.”
He walked over to pail of water sitting on the floor. There were a number of small tree branches soaking in the bucket. “These are birch switches,” he explained and he picked up the bundle. “Soaking them in water makes them more supple and they swing with greater flexibility.” He laughed, “Of course, you can also soak them in salt water so that it multiplies the sting if the switch breaks the skin.”
He whipped the bundle through the air. “They can be used as a single switch, or as a bundle. Then it is called a whisk.” He held the dripping bundle of switches in front of Alice’s face. “Which do you think would hurt worse?” he asked. “The whisk or the switch?”
“Most likely the single switch, sir,” she replied. “It would concentrate the force of the blow into a smaller area.”
“Let us experiment, then,” he said merrily. “I will switch your bare arse nine times with this bundle of switches.” He patted her asscheeks and continued, “I won’t be too severe at this point. We are, after all, just beginning. Then I will strike you once with a single switch and let you tell me which hurt worse. ... Until then, I expect you to remain quiet.”
Alice could not see him, but could sense him moving around behind her. She could hear the swishing of the bundle and feel water droplets sprinkling her back and legs. Then there was silence for several seconds followed by a louder swish and a loud smack as the bundle of birch switches struck her left asscheek. Alice gasped and squeaked, but remained more or less silent.
“One,” he said. There was another swish and another loud smack, followed by another squeak from Alice that was more of a muffled grunt.
“Two,” he counted. The swish, smack, squeak continued through three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine. Then he came back into Alice’s view as he returned all but one of the birch switches to the pail of water. He stood there where Alice could see him, swishing the rod back and forth in his hand. Not only was it a single switch, he had stripped all of the twig branches from it so it was more like a small, whippy cane. It had a much different sound than had the whisk as he snapped it back and forth. It almost sounded alive, like an angry insect waiting to strike.
Again, Alice could not see him, but she could hear the buzzing of the single switch. She could feel herself tensing her asscheeks waiting for the strike, but it did not come. Then the sound stopped. It was silent for five or ten seconds. She felt herself start to relax. Just as the muscles of her asscheeks unclenched, there was a rapid buzz followed by an immediate very sharp smack.
That was followed by Alice’s scream.
“I’m sorry, Master,” she sobbed. “It took me by surprise and yes, it was much more painful than the bundle of switches. I intended to remain quiet. Truly I did, but I couldn’t.”
“You wanted to be overwhelmed, and you were,” he said. He patted her ass and ran his fingers over the thin welt created by the switch.“Be careful what you wish for. You may get it.”
He continued lightly running his fingertips along the small raised welts left by the switches. “It would seem our little experiment has been a success, hasn’t it, Alice?”
“Yes, sir,” she answered. “A single switch does hurt much more than a bundle of switches.”
“But there was a second experiment,” he said. “Do you know what that was?”
“No, sir,” she answered.
“This,” he said as he ran his fingers through her slit. “The experiment was to determine if you would remain wet during the birching.”
He held his hand in front of her face and continued, “Not only did you remain wet...” he thrust his fingers into her mouth and she quickly cleaned them with her tongue. “... but you flowed in even greater quantities.”
He raised her head so that she was looking into his eyes. “Did you know that your sex juices are running down the insides of your legs?”
Alice reddened with embarrassment. “No, sir, I didn’t know.”
“There is no shame in that,” he said. “It means that you are meant for this room and this room is meant for you.”
He raised the upper portion of the stock and smiled at her. “Let’s overwhelm you in a different way. Please move over to the cross and stand with your back against it.”
Alice did as she was instructed and he bound her wrists and ankles with the restraints which were attached to the cross. The cross was slanted slightly so as she was pulled tightly against it she was also pulled back slightly off of her feet.
He now stood in front of her, but she could not see what he had in his hands. She felt herself trembling slightly. Was it fear? Was it anticipation?
“Close your eyes.”
She did so.
“You do not have to remain quiet. You may scream and yell as much as you want.”
The trembling was now almost a shaking as Alice waited for whatever it was to assail her body. Was it better to tighten her muscles or to relax them in preparation for the blow. And then she felt it. There was no swish or any sound at all, just the gentle tickling of the feather’s edge as he traced it slowly down from her neck to where her legs were pulled tightly apart by the shape of the cross.
The edge of the feather slipped across her clit and started down between her legs, but then it was turned so that its touch encircled her throbbing nub. A shrill, “Aaahhhh” escaped her lips. She thrashed against the leather which held her tight to the cross.
‘I could remain still in the stocks against birch rods,’ she almost screamed out, ‘but I am driven wild by a feather?’
The feather continued its course up her body, and fingers now took their place on her clit. They rubbed and twirled and slid while the feather itself slowly danced across her breasts and tickled the very edges and then the tips of her nipples. Nothing else touched her body anywhere. Only the feather and the fingers, but that was enough.
That was more than enough. She could hear her voice growing louder and more shrill as her cries became almost continuous grunts which changed only in pitch as she drew in or exhaled her forceful breath.
“You wanted someone to control you,” he said. The feather swirled around a nipple. “I control you.” The feather and the fingers continued their dance. “You cannot find release unless I tell you that you may. You will cum when I command and not before. ... Do you understand that, Alice?”
“Yes,” she panted. “I understand, master.” She grunted and groaned before adding, “But I need to cum so badly now. Please let me cum. Please!”
His only answer was a laugh. “I could take away my fingers... or the feather... and leave you to smolder here on the cross.”
“No!” she screamed. “No. Please master, do not do that.” She was crying as she begged, “No. Take me higher... let me feel more... ... and let me cum!”
Again he laughed. “I will take you higher, and you will feel even more, but you will not cum until I order you to do so.”
The feather began moving slightly faster as did the fingers. Alice could feel the passion welling within her. Her head was throwing from side to side. She was pulling against the wrist restraints with all her might. She could feel her hips pushing against his hand and her legs attempting to lower herself down onto his fingers. She heard her voice chanting, “Please, please, please, please, please,” almost as if it were speaking on its own. She was losing control of her body and her mind.
“Please, master,” she screamed, “let me cum!”
Laughter, again, was his only response. That and increased pressure with his fingers and increased speed with the feather. Then suddenly the hand was gone. So was the feather. Alice strained against the restraints trying to bring her body back into contact with either one.
The feather touched her once again. This time on the very top of her forehead. “When the feather reaches your clit, you may cum,” he said in a soft but very stern voice.
The feather moved slowly– very slowly– down her body. It brushed down the center of her nose. She moaned as it crossed her lips. She moaned again as it passed down between her breasts. The moan became almost continuous as the feather swirled slightly in her navel. Her breathing was coming faster and faster. The feather continued its slow journey downward. It was almost there. Why was it taking so long?
“Now!” he said as the tip of the feather finally touched the center of her passion and she exploded. She could hear herself screaming. She could feel herself thrashing against the wood of the cross. But it was as if she were not in her own body. She was there, but she was not. She was a bystander... a witness, and yet somehow still a participant in the overwhelming feelings which tore through her.
Alice had no idea how long she was senseless. Perhaps if she had more experience with losing control of her mind and body she might have been able to make a guess, but this was her first time. It could have been a moment... it could have been a day. She was hanging limp against the cross. Her body was sticky with sweat. She could smell not only the sweat, but the aroma of her own sex.
He stood in front of her. She smiled weakly at him and tried to speak. It came out as “mmmmmmmmmm”... almost a purr. ‘I sound like my cat,’ she thought to herself.
“There are many other things which can be done on the cross,” he said, “but I want you to experience a taste of each of my favorite devices today and we have only so much time.”
He released her arms and then her legs and led her over to the punishment bench. He had to support her as she walked the few steps to where she knelt on the pad. The lowest pad was just high enough so that her toes did not touch the floor, and just long enough so that with the top of her feet against the edge of the pad, her knees were aligned so that she was able to properly bend over the higher pad.
She lay her shoulders on the smaller separate pad. Her breasts hung down between that pad and the pad for her stomach. He placed her arms against the supports for the shoulder pad and began strapping her in place.
The straps were designed to hold her firmly in place without totally immobilizing her. Leather straps held her wrists and elbows firmly to the front supports. Additional straps held her ankles and knees to the lower pad. There were no straps on the rest of her body. This meant that she was free to writhe and squirm under the paddle or lash, but would be unable to move to avoid it.
“We will begin with a simple hand spanking,” he said quietly. “... just to warm you up.”
He then began spanking her with slow, steady spanks that moved from the top of her ass to just below where the ass cheeks began blending into the leg muscle. The blows alternated left and right so that her ass took on a uniform red glow. After every fourth of fifth swat, he would reach up with his other hand and stroke her still wet slit, sliding his fingers easily into her and twisting them slightly.
‘Am I feeling pleasure or pain?’ she asked herself. Then she told herself firmly, ‘Don’t think, just be. Let it happen. Let the sensations overwhelm your body and mind.’ As she did so, she noted that the pain and pleasure were beginning to merge and form a painful pleasure, or perhaps a pleasurable pain. Which was it?
‘No, don’t think, experience,’ she told herself once again.
“I think you are moving around a little too much,” he said. “I think you need some incentive to remain still.”
Alice could see out of the corner of her eye that he went over to a small cupboard on the wall and took out something silver. As he walked back toward her, she could see that he was holding something in each hand. It looked like one of those pull chains that you sometimes find on a ceiling light, except that it was bright silver and the large knob on the end was also metal.
“These aren’t too uncomfortable as long as they are hanging still,” he said. Then he showed her the clip on the end of the chain. He squeezed the clip to open it and reached under the pad which was supporting her shoulders. She gasped as she felt the clip close on her left nipple. She gasped again as the other clamp closed on her right nipple. The pressure of the clip was uncomfortable, but bearable.
“As long as you keep still, they will not swing,” he said. “But if you move around too much...” he reached under and tapped one of the metal weights with his finger setting it in motion. Alice gasped again, this time in obvious pain.
“We will resume with a paddle,” he said calmly. “And you will count the strokes. There will be twenty-five,” he explained, “and then I will give you pleasure to balance out the pain.”
He walked behind her. She could not see him, nor hear him as he stood still behind her. Then there was a slight swishing noise and a very loud splat as the leather paddle slammed into her ass.
“Aieee!” she screamed. Her body had also unconsciously jumped and the nipple weights were swinging wildly.
“Was that ‘One, Master,’ that I heard?” he asked.
“One, Master,” she replied, trying to hold very still so that the painful pulling at her nipples would end.
There was another swish followed by the loud splat followed by pain that radiated from her asscheeks throughout her body. This time she merely grunted and gasped in a short breath. Then she said, “Two, Master.”
There was another swish, another splat, another burst of pain. Again she grunted and gasped. “Three, Master.”
‘This isn’t fair’ she thought to herself. ‘I can either prepare myself for the blow or work to keep myself totally still. I can’t do both.’
From somewhere deep in her mind her own voice– but not her own voice– said, ‘Then do neither. Let your body go. Let your mind go. Accept the pain. Experience the pain. Go into the pain. ... Let the pain overwhelm you.’
When the next blow landed, her back arched and she nearly rose off of the padding which supported her stomach. A loud scream escaped her lips, but it was followed almost immediately by, “Four, Master.”
And so it went. Swish, splat, scream, count. Swish, splat, scream, count. Swish, splat, scream, count. As the count passed eleven, Alice noticed that there was something different about the pain. At sixteen, she noted that her screams were now closer to moans and gasps. At twenty she realized that she was rocking her hips so that her ass rose to meet the paddle and so that the weights on her nipples were swinging in wide arcs beneath her.
And then it was over. She lay sweaty and panting against the leather of the punishment bench. Someone was moaning, “More. More. Don’t stop. Don’t stop! I’m almost there.”
It wasn’t until he said, “Do not worry, Alice. I will give you what you need,” that she realized that it was she who was saying those words.
A soft hand caressed her flaming ass. Fingers slipped between her legs and made one teasing pass through her dripping slit. “One final thing for you to experience on this bench,” he said softly as he continued to stroke her asscheeks. “I am going to give you three strokes with the cane. They will hurt. Mmmmmm, they will hurt, but on the third stroke of the cane, all of the pain that you have received will suddenly turn to pleasure. That third stroke of the cane will be pain and pleasure working together to overwhelm your body, mind, and spirit.”
“Are you ready?” he asked.
Alice wanted to scream, “NO!!!” but instead she just clamped her mouth shut and said “mmmm” as she nodded her head up and down.
The first stroke was immediate and Alice screamed louder than she had ever before screamed in her life. The second stroke soon followed and the scream turned hoarse and frantic. Then there was a pause. Alice’s ass was literally on fire. She could feel the two stripes which burned deep across her already inflamed asscheeks. There was a swish, a snap, an explosion of pain, and then Alice’s world disintegrated.
It was as if her mind and body had shattered. Somehow the pain had become pleasure that tore through her as the most powerful orgasm she could imagine. As she pulled against the straps and bucked and writhed on the pads, she vaguely felt him release the nipple clamps and then felt the straps on her ankles and wrists being removed.
She was floating in a cloud of pain and pleasure as he helped her to her feet and guided her across the room. By the time clarity had returned to her mind, her feet were firmly locked within the padded foot stock of the rack and her hands were above her head in the long wrist restraints.
She could hear a light clicking noise. He was standing alongside the rack slowly turning a large iron wheel. “The true terror of the rack,” he said in a voice that sounded very much like the guide at the Tower of London. “... is not the pain, but the helplessness and the feeling of inevitability.”
“You start off at the very beginning already trapped in the mechanism. That itself is fearful enough. But as the ropes or chains grow tighter, you can no longer even struggle. Your body reaches its limits but you know that the final outcome is inevitable. You know that you will be taken beyond your limits... and there is nothing you can do about it.”
He stroked Alice’s cheek and looked into her eyes. “When you reach that point,” he said, “I am going to make love to you.” He smiled and stroked her abdomen. Then he patted her tummy and said, “But it will not be inevitable.”
He pointed to a lever on the side of the rack. “That is the lock mechanism for the tension wheel. When I set that lock, we have reached that point.”
He ran his fingers across her breast and lightly tweaked her nipple. “But when I set that lock, you are released. Your escape phrase will once again work. At that point, you can leave, or you can experience the finish of our little game.”
He turned the wheel so that there were a series of small clicks. Alice’s arms were now held tightly above her head. She could feel the leather padded stock pulling strongly on her feet. He stroked her now tight abdomen with two of his fingers and said, “You think that you have reached your limit, don’t you?”
Alice stared back at him but remained silent. The fingers slid downward across her stomach until they reached her pubic bone. He raised his hand as it continued its downward path and then brought it back upward between her legs, slowly pulling those two fingers through her slit.
She gasped slightly as he then slid them into her and pushed gently, once... twice... three times before pulling them almost out and continuing upward over her clit, pausing to press lightly and then continuing until he was once more moving across her quivering abdomen.
“But it isn’t that simple, is it?” he asked as his fingers circled her navel. “You think you have reached your limit, but then your body adjusts and establishes a new limit.” His other hand moved on the tension wheel and there was a quiet “click” as it moved forward another notch.
Alice felt the slight additional tension. She also felt his fingers begin moving back down on her abdomen. The path was identical. The fingers raised off her body as they reached her pubic bone and then made contact once again as they began moving upward. This time it was a moan that came from Alice as the fingers pushed into her once... twice... three times and then a light pressure on her clit before she heard the “click” and felt the very slight increase in tension.
He looked deeply into her eyes as his fingers again retraced their path around her navel and back down. Once... twice... three times... light pressure. “Click.”
Alice could feel her hips thrusting up to meet his hand. She felt like she was a string on a violin, being pulled tighter and tighter while the musician strummed the bow listening for the proper tone.
Once... twice... three times... light pressure. “Click.”
Her moans were becoming more high-pitched. Her hips were starting to strain against the tension as they thrust and pushed against his fingers.
Once... twice... three times... light pressure. “Click.”
Alice wasn’t sure how many times he had turned the wheel. She knew that she was now keening a continuous high wail of passion. And yet it continued.
Once... twice... three times... light pressure. “Click.”
It was to the point where all that she could move was her head, which she thrashed wildly from side to side.
Once... twice... three times... light pressure. “Click.”
“You are now very close,” he said softly. Did he mean that she was reaching the true limit to which she could be stretched, or that she was approaching orgasm?
Perhaps he meant both.
Once... twice... three times... light pressure. “Click.”
“When you reach that final limit, you will be released.”
Once... twice... three times... light pressure. “Click.”
Alice thought that she could stand no more. Her body was now tighter than a violin’s E string.
Once... twice... three times... light pressure. “Click.”
He moved so that he was now above her. He lowered himself down so that his member was nestled against her opening. “Click.”
That click was followed almost immediately by a deeper “Clunk.” The lock had been dropped into place.
“You are released,” he said softly.
With that sound and those words, Alice felt her passion explode within her. In the microsecond of time before the orgasm began to overwhelm her mind there was an instant of clarity. Time and space seemed to disappear. She was everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Her mind screamed out to her, ‘I am released!’ Her spirit rejoiced, ‘I am free! I am truly free!!’
She now knew what freedom meant. It did not mean crying out her release phrase. It meant going beyond her limits. Going beyond the limits by not resisting those limits.
The orgasm tore through her body. She thrust upward against him, pulling him into herself. Her body was able to respond, not because the chains had slackened, but because she was no longer holding herself back. Her passion went beyond anything that she had ever before felt... also for the same reason. She was no longer holding herself back. She was released.
Alice felt him erupt within her. He looked down into her eyes. She could see herself reflected in his huge, black pupils. He stroked her face and smiled at her and said, “You are truly beautiful... and you are truly free.”
Then he was gone.
The foot stocks had opened. The wrist restraints lay alongside her arms on the slanted wood of the rack. As she lay there breathing deeply and trying to make sense of what had just happened, she heard the soft pop of the panel / door opening.
The young man stepped into the room. Alice stood from the rack and faced him. “You have finished the game, Alice.” he said. “I hope that you have enjoyed Thunderworld. Remember, your release phrase is, ‘Delete me; delete me; delete me.’” And then he was gone, leaving Alice standing naked next to the rack.
A uniformed messenger hurried into General Hunnington’s office in the fourth sub-basement beneath the visible portion of the Pentagon. There was a black metal briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. The secretary said, “He’s waiting, Colonel Morton ” and the courier rushed into the inner office.
“We have another one,” the messenger said quietly as he entered the room.
“Rank? ... Nationality? ... Name?” the general said brusquely.
“Civilian; American; Alice Lutwidge, replied the messenger. “She is the prodigy who invented the Lutwidge battery. Details are in the package.”
He held up the briefcase and General Hunnington inserted a special thumbdrive into a port on its side. He then entered a seven digit number and the case popped open.
“Anything that isn’t in the written report?” the general asked.
“Same gray helmet,” the colonel answered. “It was apparently delivered to her house by an unknown delivery service. She’s alive but no brain activity. The body is being transported to the special ward at Walter Reed. We don’t know if she will recover like some of the others or if we are looking at long-term life support like General Adams, Admiral Siraku, and Commodore Markowski.”
“I assume all that is in the report,” snapped the general. “What isn’t in there that might be important?”
“I don’t know if it is important,” the messenger replied, “but she was naked except for the helmet when she was found and her body seems to be in a high state of sexual arousal. The doctors can’t explain it...” he laughed nervously, “... but that’s not surprising since they aren’t even sure how or why she is still alive.”
The general snapped the now empty case closed and said curtly, “Dismissed.”
A soft chime indicated that someone wished to enter Star Commander Roundoff’s quarters. He huffed his irritation at being interrupted while reviewing the departure procedures. Their four- year probe mission had been very successful despite the early problems. It should be possible for the next ship to initiate successful contact.
He had hoped to be part of the first contact with this planet. In fact, he had been in command of the first contact attempt twelve years earlier while he was still a Captain. Unfortunately they had badly underestimated how warlike and paranoid the inhabitants of the blue world actually were. The three-member contact team had been killed almost as soon as they landed by fearful civilians who did not understand that they were not a threat.
The response of the governments of the blue world, once they realized that it was an interstellar force of some sort, was to go to a full military defense position. Several of their own flying machines which did not promptly identify themselves or strayed from their designated flight paths were shot down. Captain Hugon Roundoff made the wise tactical decision to abort the mission and return to home planet. Now Star Commander Roundoff was responsible for a more careful and measured second contact attempt.
It wasn’t as if the science and research teams had not provided sufficient information for the first attempt. Multiple visits to the blue planet had obtained test specimens of most of the flora and fauna. The highest order inhabitants were bipedal mammals similar to themselves. DNA tests showed a remarkable similarity and rumors were rife among the scientists that the blue planet had been inhabited by a colony ship in the lost times before the last of the great wars. Several of the more extreme scientists even speculated that the genetic match was close enough to allow cross-breeding between the species. The full orders document filed in the Star Commander’s desk allowed for the retrieval of potential breeding stock if circumstances warranted.
The problem with the first contact attempt was that there had been no way to assess the thinking process of the bipedal mammals in their native environment. All data had been obtained from captives, and a captive does not behave normally. The data was skewed and it was assumed that the paranoia and aggression were because of the captivity.
It was not.
Besides, the inhabitants of the blue planet had started to notice that individuals were being taken for observation and testing and that had added to the paranoia already present in the populace. Thus, the appearance of the contact team was met with an automatic, violent response.
What was needed was a way to find out more about the inhabitants of the blue planet without taking them into captivity or bringing them to the ship for study. The solution came when one of the younger scientists proposed that the tests take place in the guise of a mind game that people entered voluntarily and did not realize was off-world.
Mind games were popular on the home planet where a person’s mind was linked directly into the game itself. After enticing the blue planet inhabitant to participate, the test subject’s mind, but not body, would be waveported to the ship and downloaded into a special area in the ship’s data banks in a modified form of the mind games. A similar process was already used to make a backup copy of a person’s mind before they left on dangerous missions or so that skilled scientists, leaders, etc, could accompany deep space probes without adding to the life support requirements of the mission. The minds were stored and then accessed through special holographic computer imagery or, in extreme circumstances, downloaded into various volunteers as needed.
The difference, in this case, was that the mind was transferred rather than copied. A locator helmet was used to insure the exact coordinates for transfer. The porting embedded a distinct tag signature so that the return transfer could be made even if the helmet was removed.
Everything had worked exactly as anticipated except for one minor, but disastrous, detail. The first subjects were military leaders. They engaged in war games and were eventually defeated as had been expected. What had not been anticipated, however, was that when the embedded– rather than linked– mind died in the war game, it actually died and could not be returned to the body. Three minds were lost and that caused those initial test subjects to be discovered.
The blue planet governments knew that something was happening and that beings from beyond their planet were responsible, but they did not understand what was occurring or why. They did, however, began taking seriously the vague memories certain people had of having been taken to a strange world to participate in strange games.
Both problems were solved in the same way. Backups were made of all test subjects minds and the backup, not the original, was returned to the body. That required the deletion of the original mind file, which required a small bit of trickery.
To prevent accidental loss of any stored mind, they were placed in special mind-files that could only be accessed by special mind-file maintenance programs. The mind-file maintenance programs required that the mind itself authorize its own deletion by repeating the delete command three times. Thus, the release phrase to return to normal reality was given as “Delete me; delete me; delete me.”
When the mind brought to the ship for study completed the game, and uttered its release phrase, it deleted itself and the backup was returned to the body with no memories of anything that had occurred. Hundreds upon hundreds of test subjects from all over the blue planet had been brought to the ship for full observation under almost every possible scenario. The computer even adjusted the scenario of the game to correspond to the thoughts and desires of the test subject.
Star Commander Hugon Roundoff customarily reviewed all of the mind scan data. He was now sure that he adequately understood the inhabitants of the blue planet. He would recommend that contact be made on the next mission.
Hopefully, he would be able to command that mission. He had argued to have a contact team accompany the current mission, but the best that Stellar Command would allow was the downloading of the backup copies of the previous team’s minds for consultation during the mission. The current mission was now complete and Contact Ship Delta Twenty-Seven was ready to head back to the home planet as soon as all departure procedures were completed.
He was in the middle of one of the many checklists required when someone interrupted him. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of details that have to be checked and double-checked before departure, and as commander, he was ultimately responsible for all of those details. His lists were actually lists of reports indicating that the detailed steps had been completed, but still they were long and cumbersome requiring careful attention. An interruption meant he would have to go back to the top of the current list and redo those steps of the procedure. The chime itself, had already created that interruption, however, so Star Commander Roundoff said wearily, “Enter.”
A young female ensign entered the room.
“What,” he said with some irritation showing in his voice, “could be serious enough to interrupt a Star Commander during final departure process?”
She answered timidly, “We seem to have a serious problem that could delay our departure and I felt that you needed to know about it as soon as possible.”
He looked up at her and they stared at each other in silence until he finally said, “Would you like to tell me what that problem is?”
“She won’t leave, sir,” the ensign sputtered. “The last test subject. She won’t leave the game.”
“Send her back anyway,” he answered abruptly.
“We can’t,” the ensign almost wailed. “The backup mind is in waveport queue and we can’t port the original mind unless the backup clears and we can’t port the backup mind while the original still exists.”
“Delete the backup.”
“We can’t. It is a self-protected mind-file and unless the mind in the file repeats ‘Delete me; delete me; delete me,’ it can’t be erased.
“Reboot that processor in the computer.”
“We would lose both minds,” the ensign explained. “The games are kept in the most protected segment of the computer and that segment also controls the waveport. If we reboot, both files would be lost and her mind dies.”
The Star Commander was beginning to get irritated, “Purge that portion of the game,” he snapped. “Isn’t that the standard secondary protocol?”
The ensign looked at the floor as she spoke. “Yes, that is the proper procedure, sir. And normally we would do that, but the game sensed something in this female’s mind and added a another door.”
She smiled weakly and shrugged her shoulders, “It sometimes does that. For this female, it created a sixth area based on a crew member’s private game area.”
There was a long pause after which she swallowed hard and raised her eyes slightly, “That area is security protected, sir, and we are unable to purge it. It requires too high a level of clearance.”
“Whose area?” the Star Commander asked wearily.
The ensign returned her stare to the floor. After an even longer pause she finally raised her head and said in a timid, fearful voice, “Yours, sir.”
Star Commander Roundoff’s face went totally blank for just a moment. Then he smiled back at the terrified ensign, laughed, and said, “Ah, yes. ... Now I understand. ... In fact, that explains a great deal about the mind scan reports I have been receiving.”
He then sat silently staring at the displays on the desk before him for several minutes. Finally he asked, “This is the blue planet female who created the biomass fuel cell?”
“Yes,” answered the ensign.
“It is her mind reports that have been forwarded to me over the past several hours?”
“Yes,” answered the ensign.
“Make preparations to waveport the female’s body to the ship,” he suddenly ordered. “Be ready to use a direct connection to return her mind to her body if I give the order to port her.”
“But she would remember everything,” the ensign sputtered. “And she would have knowledge of our ship.”
“I am going to enter the game and speak with her,” Star Commander Roundoff said calmly. “I will be totally honest with her and give her the choice of deleting herself or returning to home planet with us.” He stood up and then added... “as my life-mate.” He reached for his uniform jacket and said flatly, “Those are our only options.”
“But when her body disappears,” continued the ensign, “it will create even greater fear among the inhabitants of the blue planet.”
“One problem at a time,” he said. “One problem at a time. She may choose to delete herself. And if she doesn’t, by the time a new contact ship returns, something else will have captured the attention of the blue planet’s populace.”
Alice continued to stand in the middle of the play room where the young guide had left her. She wasn’t sure what to do, but she was sure that she did not want to leave. This was what she had been seeking her entire life and she was not giving it up without understanding what it was or how she could return.
A voice interrupted her thoughts. “Please return to the study, Alice.” It was the voice of the Master.
She looked over at the panel and doorway through which she had entered this room hours– or was it days– before. Alice walked slowly through the opening and found herself back in the 18th Century sitting room. “Please be seated,” the voice said.
There were only two chairs. The overstuffed chair in which Alice had been seated earlier was directly in front of her. It faced the back of the stiff-backed chair. It was apparent that the Master was seated in that chair. She sat in the overstuffed chair as instructed and waited.
After a few moments the voice spoke once again. “My name is Hugon Roundoff. I am a Star Commander for The Society of Free Planets. I believe that rank is similar to what you call a Fleet Admiral.”
He stood up and turned to face her as he said, “I believe we have met... in a way.”
Alice gasped slightly. It was the handsome Master, except he was dressed in a soft uniform of some sort and his eyes were huge– much too large for his head by human standards. His skin looked almost human except that it was a light shade of gray.
He smiled at her, laughed slightly, and said, “I also have one less digit than you on my hands and feet. But we are genetically very, very close. Except for color, our reproductive organs are identical to the inhabitants of the blue planet. The play room– and my projection into the game– was not originally intended for blue planet females and yet that seems to have... um... worked out.”
He stepped forward to stand directly in front of Alice. He said, “Our scientists believe the blue planet may have once been seeded as a colony in the lost time before the great wars.”
After a pause he continued, “It has been a long climb back from those days of destruction.” There was great sadness in his voice as he said that.
“We have been watching the blue planet for many generations while our worlds debated between intervening or allowing you to go down the same path to destruction that we once took. The decision has been made to initiate contact, but all attempts to date have met with disaster.”
He then went on to explain not only the loss of the first contact team, but the loss of the minds of the three military leaders as the current mission sought to gain more understanding of the blue planet people. “We do not want to repeat that with you,” he explained.
He turned his chair to face hers and sat down so that their knees nearly touched. “We thought we had planned for every contingency, but we never anticipated that someone would be unwilling to leave the game. I believe the blue planet people call that ‘The Law of Murphy.’”
Alice giggled slightly and replied, “Murphy’s Law.”
He chuckled slightly. It was a nervous laugh. “What was supposed to happen,” he said, “was that you were to choose from five game areas. As you experienced the game, your thoughts were to be recorded for study so that we could better understand your planet. Then, when the game was over, you would delete yourself and a backup of your mind would be returned to your body. You would never know that you had been here.”
“But I didn’t want to leave,” Alice said somewhat apologetically.
“No, you didn’t want to leave,” he answered. “Because you found something that you could not give up. The game sensed a need within you and used the private game area of one of our crewmen to create a sixth door... which you chose.”
He smiled at her and said. “I am the author of the world behind that sixth door– at least the portion you experienced. So I have come into the game to explain things to you and ask if you are willing– for the good of your planet– to delete yourself and allow us to return the backup of your mind to your body.”
“And if I don’t?” she asked.
“Then we will bring your body to the ship and return your active mind with all the memories of this game and of this ship to its proper place.” He paused and made an odd gesture with his hands. “Unfortunately, that would mean that we could not let you return to the blue planet. You would have to return to home planet with us.”
He took her hands and said, “If you choose to stay, it could be as my life mate... if you were willing.” He gestured at their surroundings. “This sitting room and the play room next door are based on actual rooms in my residence on our home world. What you have experienced here in Thunderworld, you could experience in reality with me.” He paused, “But it is your decision.”
“If I choose my happiness,” she answered, “... and yours, then I would be risking years of planning toward first contact with Earth... the blue planet? Is that right?”
“Yes, I am afraid that is true.” he answered.
“And if I delete myself, I will lose all of this? And we will lose each other?”
“Again, yes, I am afraid that is true, but those seem to be our only options.”
“There is a third option,” Alice said with a widening smile. “One that I think will be best for you, and for me, and for both of our worlds.”
Colonel Morton nearly ran into General Hunnington’s office. The secretary opened her mouth to speak, but before she could say anything, the colonel and the three officers with him rushed past her and into the inner office.
“General Adams,” the general said, rising from his chair to great them. Turning to the other two officers, he said, “Admiral Siraku, Commodore Markowski., I hope this means that you are fully recovered.”
“I am not General Adams,” the first officer said.
“Nor am I Admiral Siraku,” added the female officer.
The third officer then spoke, “We are a contact team from a distant star system. Let me begin by expressing our condolences on the loss of such noble persons as General Adams, Admiral Siraku, and Commodore Markowski. The Society of Free Planets grieves that they were lost in a tragic accident as we attempted to properly contact this planet.”
General Hunnington stood silently at his desk as the first officer continued, “So that you may be assured that we mean no intentional harm, our ship is leaving your solar system. We will remain behind to confer with your planet’s leaders. The ship has dropped all concealment and will continuously transmit its coordinates as it leaves so that you may track its departure.”
The female admiral spoke. “It was necessary to waveport the blue planet inhabitant known as Alice to our ship to prevent the destruction of her mind. I assure you, she remains there as a willing passenger. Our arrival here using your fallen comrades was her idea.”
She then set a tablet display face up on the desk. “This contains designs and instructions for constructing an inter-stellar communications device so that our worlds may communicate. The three of us can work with your scientists to create it and other needed equipment. Alice will be able to report back to you as soon as the device is constructed. I am sure that she will tell you that she is happy where she is and has found what she has always been searching for.”
She swiped an icon on the screen and continued, “In the meantime, she has a recorded message for you.”
A 3-D image of Alice appeared above the tablet. She was wearing a gray uniform of some sort with a blue sash across her front. “I was told I would be speaking with General Hunninton,” she began. “I hope that is correct. I assure you that I am staying here of my own free will. I also assure you that The Society of Free Planets is of no threat to earth, or as they call it, ‘The Blue Planet.’”
An image appeared alongside her. “This is Star Commander Hugon Roundoff,” she said. “The three people who are in your office are backup mind files of a contact team which was killed twelve years ago when they first tried to contact earth governments.” She paused, “Both sides have lost good people trying to establish contact.”
Star Commander Roundoff spoke, “It was Alice’s idea to combine our contact team which had lost their bodies with your honored servants who had lost their minds. In that way neither of their sacrifices will have been in vain.
The contact team has the authority to speak for the Society of Free Planets. I have reported to home world that contact has been made. Once the communications device has been built, your leaders and our leaders may discuss what this means for your people and for ours. Until then, we will leave your solar system until we are invited to return.”
Alice ran her hand across the blue sash on her chest. “They have given me the rank of ambassador from the blue planet until such time as an official representative can be appointed. Tell my family not to worry about me. I will be with Star Commander Roundoff. It is a very long story that I may tell some day, but he has already shown that he can give me everything that I have been seeking.”
The images faded. General Hunnington said softly, “Be seated. We have a lot to discuss.”