The Velderet: Chapter One
by Cecilia Tan
"I want to be a slave," Kobi said, from where he lay on the living room floor with his long black hair spread out like a carpet. "The erotic plaything of a powerful, indomitable owner." His eyes twinkled with an "aren't I crazy?" light, or maybe that was the image of the fireplace flickering on the media wall. He sat up enough to take another swig of the wine and passed the bottle back to Merin where she sat on the couch, and lay back again, watching her reaction.
Merin sat still with shock; her fingers barely felt the wine bottle in her hand. She and Kobi had been sharing the apartment for several months, ever since the last housing lottery assigned them into this standard, two-occupant place. It was nice but not fancy, and she and Kobi got along better than well, sometimes sharing beds as well as friendship; but this was the first time they'd ever gotten drunk and bared their secrets to one another. "Say that again," she said, almost a whisper.
"I want to be a slave!" Kobi's voice rang off the ceiling.
A thrill ran through Merin's blood when he said it-the taboo spoken aloud, at last, and the words stirred something in her. "Me too," she said.
Kobi sat up, the wine forgotten. "What?"
"I said 'me too.' "
Kobi was as shocked to hear her admission as she had been to hear his. "Really?" She was nodding to him-slow, serious nods. He took her hand as though he needed assurance that she was real. "I thought-I thought I was the only one."
Merin held tight to his fingers and took a deep breath. Her mind, which minutes ago had been fuzzy and sleepy with wine, now buzzed with giddy possibilities and long-repressed memories coming to the surface. "Do you remember the stories they told us as children, about the cruelty of our ancestors towards the Gerrish, how they subjugated them and forced them to work . . ."
Kobi nodded, his eyes fever-bright. "Yes, yes, and how the mistreatment led to the destruction of the Gerrish race." He sounded like he was quoting some long-ago educator. "That's why we have the Age of Equality now."
Merin curled her legs under her on the couch and went on. "Even when I was a little girl, I used to wonder what it had been like for the Gerrish, to be bought and sold, to be used . . ."
Kobi shivered. Every Bellonian child had been taught in school that the enslavement of the Gerrish was the greatest crime committed in history, and it was only in the aftermath of the Gerrish extinction by a genetic plague that Bellonians began to build the peaceful, free society that currently existed. It took hundreds of years to eliminate warring tendencies and inequality in their society. And here I am, Kobi thought, going against it. "I used to daydream about the Gerrish, too." he said. "I used to imagine I was the servant of an ailing lord, who needed to be comforted in his final days."
Kobi blushed at the memory and let her hand go. "In my fantasy he was dying of a rare sexual disease that required him to have sex almost constantly during all his waking hours, so he had a whole bunch of slaves who served him to ease his affliction." He laughed out loud. "I always had a vivid imagination."
"I guess so!" Merin let herself laugh a little, too, but she was still thinking about the ethics of their admission to one another. "But the Gerrish enslavement was a great crime," she said.
Kobi's eyebrows came down, as did his voice, in serious thought. "Yes. But think about it. It's wrong to subjugate someone. But there's no crime in wanting to be subjugated, is there?"
She pursed her lips. "There's no law against killing yourself, either, I suppose."
Kobi frowned. "That's a distasteful comparison, don't you think? Or do you think we're self-destructive for thinking this?"
Merin touched him on the cheek. "I don't know. Do you think the Kylar are going to destroy us the way we destroyed the Gerrish?" Since the establishment of the Kylaran embassy last year, rumors were flying thick through the streets and through the legislature where Merin worked. Contact with the Kylar and their culture had been limited thus far, so the speculation about their social practices was endless.
Kobi shook his head. "We don't even know if the Kylar are going to colonize here or just trade with us." Kobi felt his cheeks getting warm. "If they did colonize, though . . . you know what they say about the Kylar."
Merin nodded her head and smiled. "So that's what's got you thinking about becoming a-" she rolled her tongue over the words "-love slave."
"They say their overlords keep a dozen or more slaves to satisfy their libido! Imagine it, Merin! It could be my dream come true!"
Merin slid down to the floor to look Kobi in the eye. "If the Kylar do colonize here, it won't be for several years. If they do, they'll probably bring their own slaves with them. And if they wanted to take on Bellonian slaves, they won't find anyone suitable, because we've been conditioned out of thinking that way."
Kobi smiled and stroked her short curls. "Merin, don't you see? That's why we have a chance. You and me, we're not like the others. We want this. When the Kylar come, we'll be ready!"
"What do you mean, ready?"
"We'll have to have practice. We can practice with each other!"
She laughed out loud. "Doing what?"
Kobi was shaking his hands in excitement. "Just like when we were kids, did you play at being parents, educators, legislators? Let's pretend. Like this." He cleared his throat and growled, "Slave! Are you ready for me? I need some service!" And he pressed her back into the floor, pinning her by the shoulders and kissing her neck.
Merin had slept with Kobi plenty of times since they had been assigned to share this apartment. They often had sex to blow off steam or relieve boredom. She'd expected they probably were going to end up in bed tonight since neither of them had plans. But she hadn't expected anything like this. Kobi had never been so intense before, she'd never felt his yearning need like this. His long black hair fell loose like a curtain, intensifying the moment, isolating them from the cluttered media room they shared. She squirmed under him and enjoyed the buzz of sexual tension building between her legs. She said, in falsetto, like a long-ago educational depiction of a helpless Gerrish maidservant she vaguely remembered seeing, "Oh master, anything to please you. Take me!"
Kobi let her go for a moment as he began to slip out of his clothes. "Um, strip!" he commanded. He had trouble getting his waistband over his erection.
She was wet when he slipped into her, there on the floor, pressing her down with his body. But in his mind, their roles had reversed, as he fantasized again of being a slave, serving his master's needs. Or, in this case, mistress. Then they were both lost in the mindless lust of heat and sex. It felt good.
Merin spoke first after they were done. She wasn't sure what to say, so she settled for stating the obvious. "That was intense."
"Yes." He rolled onto his side and propped his head up with his elbow, his hair flowing around him.
This could be fun, she thought. "Next time, do you want me to be the one in command?"
"Yes! Sure!" He held her hand. "We can take turns."
They lay like that for a while, among their scattered clothes at the foot of the couch. Merin's mind was busy as she relaxed. We can't be the only ones, either, she thought. How could we find more? "Hey, Kobi?"
"When is your next session at the Velderet?"
"I'm bartending there tomorrow."
"No, I mean, when is your next sexual encounter due?"
He blushed. "I already used one this month. So, ten days at least. What are you thinking?"
"Nothing," she said. But she knew she'd tell him her idea as soon as she convinced herself it could work.
The following week passed with Merin spending her days at the legislature where she was doing her mandatory four years of duty as a consensus lawmaker, and Kobi spending the nights tending bar at the Velderet. They hardly saw each other, so there was no opportunity to play "let's pretend." But Merin's mind kept returning to her ideas about Kobi and the Velderet.
The Velderet was a sex house, an Age of Equality institution begun on the theory that all citizens should have equal access to some basic sexual freedoms. Any Bellonian could walk into the Velderet, or one of the many other places like it, once a month and request sexual satisfaction, or save up currency and transfer it there for extra time or sessions. Merin looked up the legislation ruling sex houses and transferred them to her home system to peruse later. Was there such a thing as fraudulent use? She'd find out. While she was poking through the databanks she also found some graphics of the latest in "sensual fashions." Could be interesting, she decided, and transferred them, also.
Kobi, in the meantime, made a friend at the Velderet: a customer named Mica, who had started coming in recently and usually hung around to talk and have a drink. One night Mica began griping that he wasn't getting his usual satisfaction anymore. "Maybe I just don't know what to ask for," he said as he rested in the lounge after one of his sessions. The whole room was decorated in a spiral motif, with customers entering at the lip of the cone and working their way down to the bar at the bottom. Mica leaned his arm on the bar, staring at the swirling patterns in the smooth surface. "Or maybe I'm in here too often, getting jaded."
Kobi had noticed that Mica tended to come in once a week or more. "Could be," Kobi said, as he poured Mica some iced water. "Have you been seeing the same people again and again? You could try cybersex instead. Then you could have the pick of partners from all over."
"No, it's not that. I try to come on different days. But they all seem the same. Maybe as I get older my tastes are changing."
Something in Mica's voice made Kobi listen more closely. "Like how?" he asked, pretending to busy himself behind the bar.
"Like . . . I want it more quick? I had one woman last month who was great, really physical, rough almost. That . . . got me going." Mica stared into his glass, his dark eyebrows casting his face in shadow. "It's probably just a phase I'm going through."
Kobi looked around. The lounge levels above him were mostly empty. "I know what you mean," he said.
Mica's eyes flickered up for a moment before he looked pointedly away.
"I do," Kobi insisted, and pressed his hand to his chest.
Mica also took a look around to confirm they were mostly alone and unobserved. He wrote something down on a throwaway[NH1] and passed it to Kobi as he stood up. "I'll see you around." And then he left.
Kobi read what was printed on the damp piece of paper. It was an access code for a retrievable data file. He slipped the paper into his pocket.
Merin had fallen asleep in front of the media wall that night. When Kobi came home, he found her curled up on the couch with a video of some fashion show looping on the screen. He sat down next to her and touched her shoulder. "Merin, wake up."
She woke with a yawn. "Did I fall asleep? What time is it?"
He took the control board out of her lap and entered the code Mica had given him. "Someone told me something interesting today, I think."
Merin yawned again. "What?"
"We'll see what it is." The screen went dark while the system retrieved whatever it was. And then, on the screen, appeared the words:
The Kylaran Desire
They both watched, rapt, as the letters dissolved into the image of a naked, kneeling woman, her hands bound behind her back. She wore a suit of something black and stretchy that oddly covered all of her torso except for her breasts. A voice speaking Bellonian intoned the evils of the decadent Kylaran empire . . . while the image changed. The animated graphic figure now was tortured by faceless figures with whips; then, limbs spread beyond the view of the screen, she was entered from behind by a man. The soundtrack in the background featured a woman's cries and screams as the voice listed the kinds of service that were commonly expected of caitan, the elite Kylaran sex slaves.
Merin laughed. "This is obviously a piece of propaganda. But is it condemning the Kylar? Or promoting their way of life?"
Kobi mouthed the word ky-tahn" "Those sound like cries of ecstasy to me. Look." He pointed out her face, enhancing the image with the control board and enlarging it. "Is she grimacing in pain or smiling?"
Merin squinted. "The resolution of the data's not good enough. I can't tell."
The clip ended with the image again of the woman kneeling, rotating slowly to show her reddened buttocks, her full breasts, the metallic cuffs at her wrists and the collar around her neck. The screen went dark.
"Where did you get this from?" Merin looked at the throwaway with the code written on it.
"A guy at the Velderet wrote it down for me." Kobi shrugged. "Do you think it's contraband?"
Merin considered that. "Maybe not. If it purports to be a piece of propaganda against the Kylar . . . the legislators really haven't dealt with this issue before." It was illegal to create or distribute dramas depicting "inequality" except for certain educational programs about the Gerrish. But no one had wanted to create such things before, either. And no one had actually come forth in the legislature to condemn the Kylar or claim it was wrong to have contact with them. She was deep in thought when Kobi touched her on the arm.
She felt the dampness of his fingers and smiled. "You horny bastard."
"Please, Merin, I . . ."
She held up a hand. "Are caitan allowed to beg for favors?"
He got down on the floor and bowed his head.
"You had better beg well."
"Please, mistress, I'm so hungry, I could die."
"Hmph, well, we can't have you dying now, can we? I paid good money for you." Merin struggled to keep a straight face. So i wasn't the most eloquent improvising she'd ever done.
"Please, mistress," Kobi said again. "I am so full of need."
Oh, Kobi, you always are, she thought. But Merin was hot, too, she realized, between watching the propaganda and now seeing Kobi's face flushing with desire. But that's no reason to rush, she thought. "Then touch yourself."
Kobi flashed a look at her and she raised an eyebrow. He slipped back into character and slid his pants off. He wet his hand with his tongue and began stroking. Merin had never watched a man touch himself before. She was fascinated by the way he curved his fingers to catch the lip of head. She wriggled out of her own clothes while he pulled and stroked. His hand was beginning to shake.
"Don't you dare come unless I say," she said, pulling his hand away from his cock as he gave a little whimper. She motioned for him to lie down and then straddled him, stroking herself and teasing him with the sight and scent of her cunt. Then she settled onto his erection. She'd been on top before, but she'd never ridden a man like this. He jerked and shuddered under her, trying hard not to come, but in the end he couldn't stop himself. But then again, neither could she.
"Oh mistress, let me take care of that mess," he said quickly, and they switched places. He put his head between her legs and lapped up his own seedless come as it leaked from her, then kept lapping until Merin clapped her thighs so tight around his ears he could hardly hear how loud her screams and moans of orgasm were.
A little bit later, he asked, "So, do you think it's true?"
"About the Kylar in the propaganda?" She shrugged. "Who cares? What matters now is who is putting this data out and why. And if others like us are seeing it, how it is affecting them. . . ." She put a hand on his shoulder. The time had come to tell him about her idea. "I'm sure now we're not the only ones. About the Velderet . . ."
Under Merin's instruction, Kobi made an appointment to utilize his monthly quota of sexual satisfaction in one of the Velderet's cyber suites. "Pick a time when there will be lots of other people connected," Merin had said. "Your chances will be better."
According to the data, most of the citizens in the population centers connected after dinner. So he waited until evening and then let himself in to one of the plain, gray rooms that held the network connections. Each room had a bed, a small cabinet of supplies for real world encounters, and a terminal. The main suites in the Velderet were much more richly decorated, but for a smooth cyber connection, a plain background was easier on the brain, with less distracting visual data if your eyes were open. He took a seat at the console and began the registration procedure.
"Hello, Kobi," the programmed computer voice said to him as the words appeared on the screen. It asked him whether he wanted his previous preference file loaded or if he'd like to choose a new set.
"New set," he said, and the registry questionnaire came up in front of him.
The first questions were very basic. Age? Gender? Body type? and so on, as the system tried to determine his ideal partner. He specified a slightly older individual with physical strength rated high, no gender selected. Then it became more specific about sexual tastes, asking him to rate the desirability of certain acts, both performing them and receiving them: massage? ear licking? cunnilingus? fellatio? anal penetration? Hundreds of sexual and sensual activities. He tried hard to draw an erotic map that showed his underlying motive-to be the erotic plaything of a domineering partner-something the computer wouldn't sense, but perhaps the human being it matched him up with would
Merin's idea had been to try to work the system to match Kobi up with a partner who might have the same ideas as he did. "We know we're not the only ones, now," she insisted. "What better way to find the others?" One couldn't request of the system any encounter that had any element of dominance in it. But perhaps the person it matched him with, perhaps he could say to him or her, "Let's reenact the Kylaran Desire . . ."
He marked high preferability for all the acts that required him to be penetrated in some way and designated himself "passive." Then it came down to the personality and mood selections. Romantic did not seem the right choice, although being swept away to a distant, exotic world by a tall, dark Kylar was about as romantic as he could imagine. He also rejected the categories of Nurturing and Inexperienced, among others, and settled for Passionate. He checked Complex rather than Straightforward" but specified Anonymous. All that setting really meant that he wasn't interested in meeting a Relationship partner through this encounter, so names did not have to be exchanged.
Lastly, he selected Link Only" By meeting his potential partner through cybersex and not in person, he could not only choose from anyone linked up at sex houses all over the world, he would risk no physical damage if he found what he was looking for.
"How would you like to appear?" the computerized voice prompted him.
"Oh." He had almost forgotten Merin's facsimile. Since he would be projected into the computer's mind, he could change his appearance if he wished. "Please use my usual nude body," he said, knowing it was on file. His naked figure appeared on the screen. "But clothe it in this." He fed the paper into a scan slot. The computer filled in a dark outfit that fit snug over his shoulders and around his waist. Merin had designed a male equivalent to what they had seen the caitan wear in the propaganda clip. "Hair in a topknot," he added, remembering the way the woman in the clip had hers piled atop her head.
"Material of clothing?" the computer reminded him.
"Something stretchy," Kobi said, realizing he did not know what to say.
"Choose from the following." A list of fabrics and materials both natural and synthetic scrolled down the screen. He had never used this option for anything before. The cybersex he'd experienced had just been in the nude. His eyes stopped on the word "leather."
"That material will limit mobility and make sexual activities difficult or uncomfortable," the system advised him. "Please choose something with greater elasticity."
"List from least elastic to most."
The list flickered as the words rearranged themselves. He scanned to the bottom. There was something he hadn't seen before: "Ultra-stretch rubber."
The Kobi on the screen was suddenly clad in something shiny and tight. The computer showed the figure doing jumping jacks and the material stretching accordingly. "Within acceptable limits," the computer said. "Please lie down and await connection."
Kobi stripped out of his clothes and lay down on the bed in the suite. He had to ask the computer for further instructions on how to attach the tiny leads to his skin at various points on his head and neck. Cybersex wasn't something Kobi had done very often. In fact, the only times he had done it were once when he had a broken arm and shoulder and could barely move, and once when he had been sick with a bad flu that he didn't want anyone else to catch. It hadn't been as satisfying as meeting a real person flesh to flesh, he had told himself then, but maybe being sick or injured had dampened his response. Cybersex had originally been designed for those with physical disabilities for whom ordinary sex difficult or impossible, but there was no reason any person couldn't use it. Many people these days seemed to prefer it. In fact, with enough excess currency, one could even buy the right connectors and hook in to the cybersex network from home.
Kobi lay back in the warm room and waited for a connection to come through. I hope this works, he thought.
Merin scanned over the many bright-colored facsimiles spread across the living room floor. "Sensual fashions" were particularly disappointing this season. Mostly androgynous, baggy things, very soft on the skin, of course, and easy to remove, but very little looked particularly enticing. She doodled with some more ideas similar to the thing she had come up with for Kobi. It was good to stay in practice with design. Once her three-year tenure in the legislature was up, she could go back to attire design. Most of what she had done was not fashion but utilitarian, designing better clothes for certain types of laborers, hospital workers, construction . . . She tried to imagine that if this was how a slave was dressed, how would a master be attired? What would the needs of a master's clothes be? The clip hadn't shown anything useful. Her pen ranged over the control board as she searched for something else that might inspire her. She passed out of the fashion sector and into a branch on historical costume and checked the heading "Ancient Military Uniforms."
To Kobi it seemed that the light in the room changed, but as he looked down and saw himself clad in the black, Ultra-stretch suit, he knew that he was seeing the room in the virtual network. He could feel the Ultra-stretch now, too, tight and slick, not like cloth at all. He wiggled a bit and loved the feel of it on his skin. What would it feel like without body hair?
A chime sounded and the room warped a bit as a naked, male figure opened the "door" and came in. He had short, sandy hair and looked to be about five years older than Kobi, probably breeding age, if he had a taste for women. "Hi," he said.
"Hi." Kobi resisted the urge to get down and kneel. There was no way to know what this guy's reaction might be to that. Kobi stayed on the bed as the man approached and looked at him, like a doctor looking over a patient. Kobi tried to imagine he was a prospective slave buyer, examining the merchandise before trying it out himself. I better try to feel out this guy's true preferences, Kobi thought. "I have a very talented mouth and ass," he said, watching for a reaction. No change. Time to initiate something. "And I'm ready for you whenever you are." There, that was almost like something a slave would say.
The man ran his hand over the Ultra-stretch and Kobi shivered, back in his mental game of slave for sale. He turned over onto his stomach and waved his ass in the air.
"Well, here," the guy said. "If you suck me off some, I'll be hard enough to fuck you, okay?"
Kobi pretended that was an order and went at the flaccid penis with gusto. What will happen to me if he doesn't get hard? Kobi thought. He imagined being punished for failing to do his duty, but he couldn't really imagine what the punishment would be,only that there would be some. He moaned around the cock in his mouth. The guy was getting hard. He didn't wait long before pulling away from Kobi's mouth and positioning himself at the end of the bed. Kobi rocked back on all fours. Oh, perfect, Kobi thought, just like in the clip when the caitan gets fucked . . .
"You ready?" the guy said, spreading Kobi's asscheeks apart with one hand and guiding his cock with the other. Maybe cybersex had some advantages, Kobi thought. No lube necessary.
Kobi nodded, pretending that he really had no choice. His master was just toying with him, asking like that. As he was when he later asked, "This okay?" when he changed to a faster rhythm and, "You getting close?" a bit later on. Kobi didn't answer either time-it would have broken the dream too much.
But the truth was, he was getting close, and he wasn't able to hold it. Not like a good slave would have. The guy didn't seem to care much, either, as he slicked himself in and out of Kobi as fast as he could, straining toward his own orgasm.
That's it, Kobi thought suddenly, he's using me for his own pleasure! Oh yes. By the red moon . . . And he moaned a little as he thought about that.
"Are you okay? Am I hurting you?" the guy asked. "Do you want me to stop?"
Some people are just too nice, Kobi thought. It's like he's forgotten we're cybersexing and he can't really hurt me. He shook his head as he clenched his butt tight and sent the guy over the edge into orgasm.
Later, Kobi sat in the dimly lit lounge, playing over the encounter in his mind. If the guy had kept his mouth shut, Kobi thought, would it have worked better? The truth was, that night's partner just wasn't into it the same way. Then again, Kobi thought, I never did ask him specifically or give any direct hints. Maybe Merin will come up with a more direct way to get the message across. . . .
His eyes stopped their roaming as he spotted Mica coming into the lounge. Mica made his way through the softly sculpted tiers and scattered pillows to where Kobi sat. Kobi indicated a soft pillow next to him but Mica did not sit.
"Here," he said, and handed Kobi a scrap of paper. Then he walked back out the way he had come.
It was another code. Another propaganda clip? Kobi folded the paper in half and stood up. It was time to go home and find out.
Copyright © 2002 Cecilia Tan
Originally published in Taste of Latex Magazine, Issue #10, 1995