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' WARNING: Your vessel has entered a restricted area. You must... '
The automated message was only one of a dozen warning signals that were bombarding the control room of the survey craft Dawkins. Cali Moore shut that particular warning signal out of her head. She couldn't think about it right now. She had to focus on finding an emergency landing site. The vessel wouldn't last long in open space.
"Where the hell are we?" Cali demanded of her co-pilot, Klayne.
"It doesn't make any sense ... it's like we've been going the wrong direction for days. We're nowhere near a station or colony."
"Improvise. Find me a landing site, NOW!"
Another automated message pumped into the control room.
' WARNING: Power system failure is imminent. Commencing emergency protocol..."
Fuck, Cali swore to herself. It didn't make any sense at all. These systems shouldn't be failing.
Klayne scrolled through the navigation displays at a blinding speed.
"Here's one..." he froze the display on a scan of a nearby planet. " Damn, we're right on top of it."
Cali wasn't waiting for a second choice. According to the control panel, the systems of the Dawkins were shutting down, one by one. Without delay, she barked out the voice-commands that would land the vessel onto the surface of the planet. The computer acknowledged her orders. She only hoped that the computer would remain on-line long enough to carry out the commands.
The landing was actually perfect. A little too perfect for a vessel with so many problem, Cali thought briefly, but she wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Besides, there were more pressing matters.
"Cali, " the voice of Sonya came in through her headset. She was the second shift pilot, and had been trying to track the source of the system problems while Cali piloted the craft. " Sensors are reporting a dangerous hot-spot on the outer hull. I'm suited up. I need to get out there and cool it down before it becomes critical."
Fuck. One more problem.
"Understood Sonya, go ahead."
A light flashed on the panel, showing that Sonya had opened an access port to the outside. It was one of several warning lights that were still blinking relentlessly on the display. Not a moment later the computer churned out yet another automated message.
' WARNING: Intruder alert. Unidentified personnel have boarded the vessel. '
Cali's training took over.
"Lock down all systems. Send a distress..."
The blade was at her throat.
Ann/R/K felt the Dawkins come to rest on the remote planet, and allowed herself to relax for the first time in days. Whatever else they built these survey vessels for, it left little room for comfort. Her back ached from the cramped position she took on the edge of her bunk while accessing her console. Now that the ship was down, she allowed the her fingers to drift away from the keypad.
Her moment of rest was short lived. The man who burst into her room gave no sympathy for her aching muscles. The man was huge, nearly naked, and covered in a foul smelling mud paint. He grabbed her by the arm, and led her, at knife point, out to the small clearing surrounding the Dawkins. The smell of the damp jungle air filled her nostrils.
The crew members were here too, she noted. There were Cali and Klayne from the control room, the secondary flight crew, Sonya and Beth, and herself. Sonya was wearing a portion of what used to be an environmental protection suit, now dismantled by their captors.
Surrounding the occupants of the Dawkins ware the dark, thick walls of the jungle which covered the surface of this planet. On the edges of the clearing there was a large group of men who seemed to fit in very well with the jungle setting. It wasn't easy to know how many of the men were around them. Wearing full body paints of green, brown and black on their bare skins, they blended into the edges of their jungle home.
"Who here is with McPhail?" A tall man stood forward from the edge of the clearing. His accent was Scottish, but the war paints did nothing to confirm his ethnic origin.
"That's me, " responded Ann/R/K. She could see the looks of confusion passing among the other captives. She produced a small metal pin from her pocket. It identified her as an agent of the McPhail corporation. Ann held it out to the man she knew to be called BlackWatch. He inspected the pin briefly.
"What's your name?"
"Good. You've done well. I'll see that you are rewarded for your efforts."
His voice rose in volume to address the entire crew of the Dawkins.
"As for the rest of you, it's important that we come to an understanding quickly. BlackWatch is my name, and make no mistake, your lives are in my hands. Perhaps my colleague, Ann/R/K can shed some light on your recent difficulties."
Ann was pleased that BlackWatch deferred to her about the technical details. Like every hacker, she enjoyed taking bragging rights to her work, and this job was a thing of beauty. She turned and smiled at her astonished ship-mates.
"There's absolutely nothing wrong with the systems of the Dawkins, " she explained. " My job was to force you into this star system, and to land on this remote planet. It wasn't easy, I'll tell you. After two full days of trying to crack the command system, and take control of the Dawkins, I had to give up. The command system is fool-proof. It will accept only voice commands from the crew."
"I checked the system for other weak links. Finally, I found one that I could exploit. With the help of some very sophisticated hardware, provided by my generous benefactors at the McPhail corporation, I was able to insert myself as a link in the sensors, and feed false data to the control room."
"First it was little things. I shifted the star charts a bit. Predictably, you adjusted your course. By small degrees, I had you change the course of our travels to bring you to this system. Once we were within range, I began to feed system error messages to the main computer. I knew that if you thought the Dawkins was close to failure, that you would be forced to land. Lastly, I fooled the ship's sensors into thinking that these co-ordinates were the only safe landing site."
As she spoke, she could see the crew shaking their heads in disbelief. Their sole passenger had hijacked the Dawkins without so much as brandishing a weapon, or even leaving her quarters. Ann/R/K was in her glory.
"But, why?" The captain of the Dawkins asked quietly.
BlackWatch was the one to answer Cali's question.
"Because of me, " he said, in his thick Scottish accent. " If you haven't figured it out yet, your vessel has landed you on Penal Facility 7, your government's final solution for criminals who are beyond hope of correction. You are participating in the first escape attempt in the history of this penal colony."
Ann/R/K had heard stories about the penal colony long before she was 'recruited' by the McPhail corporation for this mission. Everyone had heard the stories, but no one knew how true they were, because no one ever came back. No one even knew where the colony was.
After she was briefed on the mission, Ann could understand why no one had ever escaped. The location of the planet was a closely guarded secret. Nestled among some of the more remote star systems, it was a virtual needle in a haystack. Dropped here without any technology, in the middle of the savage wilderness of the jungles, the convict was lucky to survive, much less consider building means of escape.
What means of escape? The convict was left her without even the basic foundations of technology, on an inhospitable planet, amongst the worst criminal deviants that human society has ever produced, and light years away from the nearest outpost. No, the justice system had very little worry of an escape attempt.
Until, of course, a high level covert agent for the McPhail corporation was imprisoned here; namely BlackWatch.
Hiroshi Nagato, McPhail Corp's top technician, was the one who had found the location of the colony, with the aid of technical gadgetry that frankly made Ann/R/K drool. The more Ann learned about the power and influence of the McPhail Corporation, the more impressed she was.
BlackWatch was impatient to continue.
"If I understand Ann/R/K correctly, only a member of your crew can reactivate the Dawkins, and navigate us away from this hell. She was able to fool you into landing here, but it is a method that cannot succeed again, and so I now must convince one of you to co-operate with me."
This was going to be tricky, Ann knew. The standing policy of the pilots, no matter the circumstances, was to refuse to negotiate with hijackers or terrorists. The policy was held sacred amongst the union of pilots. If any of these crew members violated the ordinance, they would never fly again. It was a policy that had virtually eliminated hijacking attempts over the last three decades.
"Now then, which one of you will it be?"
Darkness was descending on the planet. Cali cursed herself again and again for being fooled by the clever hacker. If she had only been more alert. She remembered how routinely she had made the course corrections, without bothering to double check the sensors. She should have know that something was wrong. She could have saved the lives of the crew.
"Don't blame yourself, " Klayne tried to reassure her. " We were all fooled. The second shift made as many course corrections as we did."
He was a good friend, but his words rang hollow.
"But the Dawkins is my command, Klayne. I should have been more vigilant. Now we'll never leave this planet alive. Look at these men ... they're savages."
"We have to be strong, Cali. As much as we fear these men, we can't allow the Dawkins to fall into his hands. I swear to you, he will not break me."
Cali wished that she could be so confident in her own will to resist. Through the final hours of the day, BlackWatch had left his captives alone. The savage jungle of this world took on a whole new countenance in the increasing shadows of the evening. A chill ran up and down her spine as she heard the call of some massive predator in the distance.
Even more than the perils of this wild land, Cali feared these savage men. They were congregating here now, hundreds of them, in and around the clearing where BlackWatch kept his prisoners. These were the worst that human society had to offer. Much like the creature she could still hear howling in the distance, these men were predators. Serial killers. Sexual sadists. Hit men. Men too dangerous to be confined to any other penal facility.
They circled the captives, their eyes full of lust. How long had it been for some of these men since they had seen a woman? Cali could feel their eyes all over her body. Sonya and Beth were terrified too, she could tell just by looking at them. The traitor of the ship, Ann/R/K walked without fear beside the man known as BlackWatch.
"Light a fire, " BlackWatch commanded a group of the men. His body was pure muscle, and he spoke with the confidence of a born leader. His mastery over this population of criminals was impressive. The men began to gather dry wood from the surrounding area.
He drew close to the crew now. The four captives were standing, but were tied by their hands and feet by leather straps. Even if they could free themselves, where could they hope to escape to?
"We will resolve our impasse before this evening ends, " the Scotsman told the crew. " I've waited for nightfall because I want you to see how fearsome this place becomes at night. There are creatures in this land that confound the imagination. This will be your new home if you choose to defy me."
"Now I come to my proposition. It is the fairest that I can offer, given the circumstances. When this vessel leaves, it will carry eight people. That is the maximum that the Dawkins can support in order to reach the nearest colony. To secure the help of my fellow convicts, I have promised to bring five of them along on this escape. That leaves only room for myself, my colleague Ann/R/K, and for one member of your crew."
He smiled. It was the first time Cali had seen him do so.
"Which one of you will it be? Cast aside your moral beliefs. They will not help you here. This is your reality. Whichever one of you chooses to help me will return home safely, and those left behind will live and die here on this planet."
He came closer to Klayne now. He was the only male crew member of the Dawkins. The two men stood face to face. Klayne scowled into the painted face of BlackWatch.
"How long will you last here, Klayne? None of these men will protect you. They would kill you for sport right now if I allowed them. You will be alone in the jungle, on a night much like this one. Something will catch your scent, but you won't be able to see it. You can try to run. Or maybe you're fool enough to stand and fight. No matter. The beasties will get you in the end."
No answer came from the burly navigator. His eyes burned with hate. Cali silently admired the inner strength of her shipmate. He would never relent.
BlackWatch shook his head.
"Stubborn, aren't we? Perhaps I'll do better with the women."
The glow of the fire began to illuminate the small clearing. Surrounding the edges of the clearing, Cali could see the glow the fire reflected in the eyes of the convicts. They were everywhere, and they all watched the spectacle with hungry eyes. BlackWatch turned to the women now.
"Let me tell you about the men who live on this planet, ladies, " his voice was calm as always, " They are not like me. They are barely human. The horrible crimes that they committed before coming here were mere hints of the animal savagery that this planet has nurtured in them. Their souls are every bit as black as the night beyond the edges of this clearing."
"Their basic drives, their lusts, their sexual appetites have been denied for so long. Many have been here for decades, without hope that they would ever see a living woman again. Look in their eyes now. Do you see their lust burning?"
He stepped up to Beth, the youngest of the three women. Taken directly from her quarters, she was wearing only a T-shirt and shorts. The Scotsman reached out his hand and took hold of the cloth of Beth's T-shirt. She tried to struggle, but her hands were lashed behind her back.
With one vicious tug, he tore the material from her youthful body. The reaction from the surrounding men was immediate and frightening. The men howled their excitement from every direction. The cumulative sound resembled nothing human.
"Do you have any idea what life will be like for you in this place?" BlackWatch asked loudly, through the noise. " More than four thousand men have been abandoned in these jungles, and you will be owned by strongest and most brutal of these men. Every day for the rest of your lives will be spent serving these men sexually. Day after day, you will be raped and tortured. You will likely change hands many times. Perhaps you will be shared freely amongst some of the tribal groups that have formed."
"Unlike Klayne here, you will never be allowed to fall victim to the creatures of the jungle. Instead, they will keep you alive to serve their darkest desires, and to bear their children."
Cali shuddered involuntarily. The thought of being impregnated by any of the beasts was almost too much to bear. BlackWatch noticed her reaction, and turned his attention to the captain of the Dawkins. He reached his hand under the shirt of Cali's uniform, and rested his hand on her abdomen.
"Oh yes, these men will want you to bear children. You will carry the sons and daughters of these felons, these deviants. I shudder to think about the lifetime of abuse your little daughters will endure at the hands of these savages. They will be born to a lifetime of rape an abuse, and they will be the mothers of new victims for generations to come. How many children do you think that you can bear before your body is spent? Ten, ... maybe fifteen?"
He looked at each of the women in turn.
"Which one of you will be spared?"
Ann/R/K shook her head in disbelief. Even after listening to BlackWatch, the women of the Dawkins wouldn't relent. If Ann were in the same position, there would be no debate. She would sell out her crew mates in a heartbeat to escape this place. Morality was an alien word to her. It was a large part of the reason that she was on this mission in the first place.
Her previous dealings with the McPhail Corporation had proven both her skill at breaking into computer systems, and her total lack of sympathy for human life. Ann/R/K had stolen a sophisticated piece of hardware that belonged to McPhail. The catch was, the hardware was contained in the head of a director of the McPhail corporation. The director of covert operations, no less.
The fact that the hardware was inside of the head of a woman posed no moral difficulties for Ann/R/K. She simply took possession of the woman too. The abuse that the woman received at the hands of Ann and her hacker friends was ample proof of her cruel nature. When she was finally caught, the corporation proposed this mission as a way of settling the score. Ann/R/K didn't feel sorry at all for her actions, only for the fact that she had been outsmarted.
In the same way, she felt no guilt for delivering the crew of the Dawkins into the hands of these depraved convicts. Forcing the ship to land here was an interesting challenge, another notch in her belt as a hacker, and the consequences could be damned. If it meant that these women would spend the rest of their lives being brutally fucked by four thousand criminals, it was their tough luck.
She even got a bit of a perverse thrill out of it. A cruel little smile crept onto her face just thinking about the captain of the Dawkins being brought down a few notches.
"Why don't we give them a little preview of what it will be like?" Ann/R/K suggested to her colleague. BlackWatch smiled back.
"All right, Ann/R/K, choose one for me?"
Ann was flattered that the Scotsman was giving her the choice. After they returned, he would be a good connection to have within McPhail. It looked like they were definitely going to get along.
She turned her attention to the three women. Sonya was the pilot of the secondary flight crew. She was a black woman in her early thirties, who had an athletic body and a really defiant look. It would be a pleasure to wipe that expression off of her face.
On the other hand, Beth was an inviting option. The girl was closer to Ann's own age, and had a beautiful little body. The way the pale flesh of her bare tits was reflecting the light of the fire was absolutely irresistible. God, she looked scared. That was irresistible too.
Of the three women, however, Ann/R/K's eye was drawn inevitably to the captain of the craft, Cali Morgan. The woman was a combat pilot before joining the Survey Corps. In her mid-twenties, she already had command of her own ship. Until now, she had always exuded an air of unshakeable self-confidence, almost cockiness. The question was settled. Ann couldn't wait to see this bitch get fucked.
She pointed to the captain.
"Good, " proclaimed BlackWatch. " We'll take this one. I'll give the other girls to a few of the convicts who I can trust not to damage them too badly."