(Pictures near the end - Still working on earlier pictures - will add them when ready)
Section Leader Christina Rand’s sleep too was uneasy, she turned and could not rest, “It’s always the same in hyperspace” she said to herself, “they say it gives you night terrors”, but she knew it was not hyperspace. She turned on her side again, the pale orange glow of the security lighting leaving too many dark corners, dark corners for dark memories, and things she wished she didn’t know.
Her squad, her girls, probably resting, she hoped so, she curled up into a ball. “It’s just hyperspace” she said again.
No good, she stretched out again, they’re needed here for something, it’s no good if she can’t rest, be at least alert for whatever is out there, she sat up, too many dark corners, in the room, in her mind, maybe the VR suites could help her... distract her, she pulled her robe on and opened the door, stepping out into the darkened corridor, lights low for artificial night.. heading towards the VR suites.
It was tough being a section leader. The other girls in the squad could find their ways of releasing the tension or finding comfort – Christina had already seen Dayna starting to make moves on young Miyuki, and Maeve was almost certain to be out to get thoroughly fucked by some grunts – but neither option was open to Christina. As a leader, she needed to keep her distance.
The VR suits looked in many ways like heavier and clumsier versions of the combat suits the grunts used under their battle armour, covering the entire body and fitted with sensors, motorized joints and interfaces that plugged directly into the troopers skin and nervous system. The sensations they sent into the nerves and directly into the brain were almost indistinguishable from the real thing. They were, of course, supposed to be used for training and practices, but recreational use of them was extremely common, to the point where it was an open secret. There wasn't a squad in the Corps that didn't have access to technically irregular programs.
There were several VR suits in the suite, heavy cabling tracing back from them to the central core – they could be connected to each other in order for people to interact in the virtual reality. The core itself was very sophisticated, as close to a real AI as the laws allowed. While it was possible to run pre-defined programs on it, it was often more interesting to let the system adapt itself to one's subconscious wishes by reading brain-patterns and bodily reactions.
Christina dropped her robe, no other users in the suite tonight and pulled on the VR suit, holding her tight, tighter than her uniform, the sensors pressing against her, electrodes nipping into her skin. She turned her attention to the control panel, flipping through the illicit programmes, looking for something... to feel... innocent again.
She paused, selecting the programme and turned towards the VR bed, then turning back she increased the gain on the brain pattern reader controls, she paused, leaning heavily on the controls, yes, to be innocent, she turned down the safety controls – usually left up except in case of – more severe training.
She lay back on the bed, pressing the start controls, feeling the suit press to her.
When safeties have been disabled, the program will not stop until it has run its course or is terminated from the outside, and the normal thresholds on pain input are disabled. It becomes impossible to terminate the simulation from within. Christina had used these settings on other girls before, in training, as punishment, or even for the … interrogation.. of enemies, but never on herself. She knew though enough to cover her tracks – this kind of thing would look bad on a psych evaluation. It's only too easy to imagine a military psychologist nodding and asking her if she wanted to punish herself...
Christina lay back, as the programme commenced, a sharp prickling sensation as the suit began to connect and then a bright light as it fired signals into her nerves and brain, before subsiding to a murky glow.
She looks down at herself, young again, just a teenager, her hands soft, softer than they ever really could have been, she’s wearing a white gown, medieval in design, pure, she looks up, the chamber is huge, long, high vaulted, with columns, stark but beautiful.
But there is the rumbling and the dull glow in the distance, she starts to move but her ankle is bound, oh yes, the rescue fantasy. “Where is my knight to rescue me” she laughs inwardly to herself but it feels cold.
She looks beautiful – a mix of her own younger appearance, and what could have been achieved if she had been put through the most intensive genetic beauty-treatments.
The chamber seems more ominous than romantic in some ways. And then a gust of wind brings an unpleasant smell to her nostrils – the smell of damp and rotting flesh. There's the sound of heavy wings outside, and then she can hear the grinding as a truly enormous door starts to open.
The smell, why such a smell, surely this was meant to be a romantic fantasy?
She looks toward the sound of the door.. light creeps in around the edges, the glow increasing, and the sound of something heavy dragging across stone, a clash and a drag, clash, drag sound, something large and terrible.
Then the enormous doors are flung open with almost impossible force, and she can see the dragon. But this is neither a romantic dragon, one that could be won over by a gentle heart until it allowed her to ride its back, nor a fairy-tale dragon to merely imprison the young maidens brought to it. This thing is a stinking, decomposing undead monstrosity. Its wings are in tatters, the pale scales on its body broken with many wounds, all seeping pus and corruption. It's ungainly, terrifying, and foul… disgusting beyond belief. It leaves a stinking trail of corruption behind it as it approaches her, leering. Parts of its skull can be seen. But its eyes are the worst, full of evil and dark lusts.
Christina recoils in disgust, this wasn’t what she wanted… or was it? The machine is responding to her brain waves, why is she thinking this?
The beast crawls closer on its two forelegs, claws clashing with the stone floor as it drags its long carcass behind, the breath is rancid filling up the whole room before it even gets close, she wonders what in her head can cause such decay and corruption but she knows, deep down. She knows.
She knows what she’s seen.
And what she’s done.
Closer, the eyes.. those ghastly evil and lust filled eyes, that somehow, still look... human.
She pulls at the chain at her ankle again, wondering at what point this fantasy can become romantic. Its breath hot on her now, it begins to rise up, its pale belly exposed before her, dripping in its corruption and filth, wrinkled, pale, seeping from festering wounds, suddenly its wings beat and it rises further on the gust of foul air, towering above her, as it reaches out with a single claw, as big as her arm and razor sharp, but slick with foulness, and with a single slash it rips her dress open. Maybe it tries to say something, but is unable to due to the state of its body, and only a grotesque gurgling sound comes out, and rotten fluids drip onto the floor. But one part of the beast seems functional – as it inspects her exposed nudity, it's enormous, rotten phallus starts to rise...
It is red, a livid red, rising out of the pale blue white folds, huge and boil ridden, and seeping yellow from the head in thick lumpy globs.
She wants to scream.,. she should as part of the fantasy, but the Corps trains you, not to scream, not to make a sound no matter what – but this is not right – not what she was looking for. She knows she’s on the VR bed, tries to move, but the reality of this is as strong – it twitches before her face, more yellow oozing out and she feels her stomach turn.
“It’s not real”, she says to herself. .
But it feels real, in some ways more intense than her real life. The monster wants her, but it's size… it’s so close she could touch it, and the smell, the smell is enough to cause retching.
She looks up at the beasts face – high above her but full of lust and hate and evil – but with its human eyes - full of the rottenness of what has been done. She fears its intentions unless it can be sated.
She begins to stroke it, her hand running through the oozing yellow filth, the eyes, not only human, look familiar, she feels herself wanting to retch, she feels the ground begin to tremble, the stones on the floor shifting cracking.
For the moment, it doesn't force her beyond that. It wants more than her hands though, she can feel it. She continues to stroke, her hands rubbing over the rough flesh, occasionally bursting a boil or opening a sore, dark blood, black with foulness leaks onto her hands, a steady rumble builds with it as the rumble continues around her, earth pushing up between the stone slabs of the floor.
She strokes faster, but knows it is not enough as the stone slabs around her slide away on the loose earth, disgorging small bodies in barely any better state than the dragon, it leans toward her a little, its eyes water, but filled with malice.. is that hair on its head?
What was it the girl had said so many years ago? “Old men - covered in blood.. never touched them.. but they’re drowning in it” the filth runs down her arms
The monstrosity makes a growling sound, although it's halfway a bubbling noise as it drools filth. The thing is growing impatient with her, more fluids start to seep from the hole. She is soiled to the elbows in the horrific fluids the undead thing seeps out, and the nausea is worse than anything she's experienced on any battlefield.
Around her the bodies start to move, she looks around at them, reaching to her out of the darkness, small hands, children’s hands. They speak, frail thin voices. “You can bury the truth, but secrets can’t be kept forever.”
“Old men, covered in blood – never touches them but you’re drowning in it for them:”
The dragon’s face leans closer, grey hair flops from the side of its head, a thin combover, it would be funny were it not so foul. Its foul lips quiver. ”You know what you did for us – you know what you’ll do for us again.”
Hands reaching out towards her, small hands, pale, small figures, with swollen bellies,
“Our secrets are yours - Swallow the truth”
The small hands grasp her. They all seem to think she's so filthy she should be happy to despoil herself further by pleasuring the gross, rotting phallus. The fluids pour over her arms, black and yellow. Small hands are reaching for her, faces, familiar faces, the bodies, some torn, some blasted, a face she knew well, half gone, eyes blank, but belly swollen, she knew too well the uses PK Corps were put to when unfit for active duty.
She remembers her, Teresa, wounded, her brain, damaged, only half aware.. sent to the breeder units, impregnated over and over, and Bethany, her arm and leg amputated, sent there too, her other limbs removed, held in the units clasped tight. She wasn’t meant to see these things.. but she had.. she knew when she declared them unfit for service.. where they went, she still sent them there – still does... still does her duty.
Small hands clawing at her back, pushing her towards it, her lips towards it – towards the truth of what they were – and what she is.
But then, suddenly, there's a sound and a flash of metal, and the hands that grasped her falls away, cut off by the wrists. When she looks up, she can see a warrior in a suit of armour, medieval? Or corps? It seems to shift before her eyes.
A man… very tall, clearly very muscular - cuts into the dead bodies, and then starts to hack into the dragon. The blows scatter filth and rotten meat all over, soiling both him and her, but at least he is protected by his armour. He rains down blows on the dragon, cutting it up, destroying it, but also lays waste to all the dead people around her. The simulation becomes a swirling nightmare of violence and filth.
But then, he seems to have been victorious, and he lifts up her soiled, naked body is his mail-clad arms. “Princess?” he asks her. “Were you hurt?”
Christina looks up at him in shock, the filth all upon her, she can’t answer, knowing that she would have drunk the filth down... was going to... has already… her whole life. Knowing where she sent Teresa and Bethany... knowing where Jessica and Maia and Maeve and all the rest will go - if necessary.
She feels unclean, knows she’s unclean, the filth is still on her, she tries to wipe it off, still looking at him... how can he bear to hold her? She can’t get clean.
It’s not hyperspace in her mind, she knows that... the program also knows it in its cold electronic way… so many secrets.. so many sins.. so much shame – and she’s taking her section into hell tomorrow.
She looks up, but she can’t speak, it’s almost as if she’d swallowed the filth already
“My lady?” the knight asks again, his voice kindly, and she feels as though she should recognize it. He touches her face lightly with his gauntlet. “You have been through a terrible ordeal. Are you hurt?” Even as he asks, he carries her from the despoiled hall, out into the fresh air outside. Christina knows she is still dripping with filth, though, and it seems almost worse here outside, where the rest of nature isn't as soiled as she is.
Can such secrets stand the light of day?
The filth is still on her, she tries to speak again, but remains silent, always silent , she shakes her head and begins to weep. “No”, she thinks, “i never get hurt.”
It won’t come off.
“Shhh...” he tells her, cradling her as though she weighed little more than a feather. Then he opens his visor, and she can see his face. Not the young man she might have expected from a romance VR, but older. Handsome, seeming strong and caring. A face she has never seen in real life, but recognizes from a picture her mother had. He's an idealized version of the father she never met, the marine who impregnated her mother. Did he ever even learn of her existence? Could he be her real father even in this simulation? Does it matter?
She reaches up to touch his face... what would he think if she knew what she had become?
Is he even alive – or dead and defiled on some alien planet, like the poor bastards on this ship are likely to be in just a few days’ time (Corps don’t get sent unless there’s something to fear).
Would he approve she followed him to the forces – would he approve she volunteered for the Corps, would he approve of the training she received... or that she carried out on others?
Did he understand the sacrifices that had to be made for the welfare of humanity?
She stopped herself short – is it possible to defend humanity by becoming inhuman?”
She touches his face – smearing it with the filth – oh god what would the psyche profilers make of this if they had been watching?
As though by dream logic, reality twists, and she finds herself in her savior’s castle. She's bathing in a large sunken pool of hot water, tended to by young bathing girls. It takes a moment before she realizes that she knows them already, the girls of Jessica’s squad. They seem so innocent at first, but then they step in and start to clean her, and they get soiled first by the filth she's shed in the water, and then further as they start to clean her. One girl – Jessica, she realizes – even kisses at the filth, dutifully cleaning Christine's soiled skin with her mouth... even swallowing the horrid fluids.
Christina winces, self-aware enough to understand, she had it easy compared to the troopers... Corps Volunteer, officer training, the rape and abuse was nothing compared to what her squad endured. Jessica sold into the corps by parents who couldn’t repay the Government settler loans on some godforsaken rock on the rim, Maia, born into the Corps, in the breeder units, never seeing her mother, fed by tubes from invalided corps troopers milked by machine.
She tried to protect them – she really believed that – but duty requires one to do...
This is not the fantasy... the escape that she wanted... she starts to press at the controls of the VR bed... calls out the safeword – but there was no response.
She can see the wordless look in Jessica's eyes as the girl offers to use her mouth... to lick the filth from her. She seems almost eager to devour Christina's filth, to become more like her. She can see Dayna and Maia lead away Miyuki and Catherine respectively, strong arms around the younger smaller girls.
She should protect them... but humanity must be protected, and she knows that Jessica... well Jessica will do what needs to be done always. With other beginnings, Jessica might have been officer material.
Dayna? a little crazy, but she’ll probably be squad leader after Jessica... if she lives that long. Maia? who knows what, if anything, goes on in that head? Born and bred – corps is all she’s known... all she’ll ever know, she wonders if there’s even a person in there at all.
Christina feels the suit press at her, as if it were Jessica – she knows Jessica will never make full officer ranks, not with her beginnings, she feels shame at everything Jessica has endured, has yet to endure, and that she does so willingly. That all her girls endure. The filth is still there, however much Jessica swallows, it won’t go away. Even here, in this peaceful place.
What has she done to deserve peace?
“Damn IT” she says finally “I’ve fought for it.. and I’ve .. I’ve sacrificed for it!” Briefly she wonders what her girls are doing, if they’re able to rest – there’s at least a little time before they return to hell.
The rottenness seems to keep seeping from her, despite Jessica's best efforts, until finally the girl emerges over the surface again, her mouth and belly full of rot. She looks like she has trouble choking it down. “My lady princess, would you like a robe? My Master will soon be here to see how you are doing...”
“Oh.. yes” she wants to say “Jessica” but she can’t quite bring herself to do it. She feels as if the filth is oozing out of her still – not off of her but from the insides too, running down her legs, down her chin when she speaks, she looks at Jessica, coated in the filth, swollen, choking, and swollen, not with corps progeny like in the chamber but… the filth of secrets she’s protecting and doesn’t even understand
Jessica rises, and when Christina steps from the bath, rubs her down with a soft towel. Then she sweeps a gorgeous silken gown around her. A moment later, the knight comes into the bath-house. He looks just how Christina imagined him when she was a child: tall, very powerfully built, handsome, and looking firm and protective. But he doesn't seem to recognize her. “My princess,” he says, smiling at her. “I trust you feel better now? You've been through a terrible ordeal.” And no matter how pure and knightly he might be, he can't help but letting his eyes move across her perfect young body. He must want her, even though he tries to be too gentlemanly to show it.
Christina pulls her robe around her, ushering Jessica away, the girl obeys without hesitation. “Why am i thinking this?” She opens her mouth to thank him, but no words come out “he doesn’t know who i am.. or that i even exist”
He reaches out to touch her cheek, stroking it with a strong finger. He towers above her, and his body is rock-hard and heavily muscled. “My lady, are you still in shock from what that beast did to you?” he asks her, looking down into his eyes. He is – at the same time – both the father she never had when she was growing up, and a powerful, handsome man who must surely think her a lovely sight. And she owes him everything for being saved from the dragon, doesn't she?
She finds herself leaning against his hand – tears form in her eyes – missing his strength even though she never knew it - she finds herself utterly torn - concerned at the wrongness of the situation, yet knowing also its unreality.
Again she asks herself why she’s thinking such thoughts as she leans against his hand still.
The program terminated, she did not know how, dazed and confused Christina tumbled from the VR bed, removed the suit, pulled on her gown and returned to her sleepless bed.
“Hell is coming. And there is no one to rescue us.”