Awe Of Predators

Chapter 1 - Gatekeeper

by alectashadow

Tags: #cw:noncon #cw:sexual_assault #D/s #dom:female #f/f #humiliation #pov:bottom #sub:female #bondage #boots #bullying #classist_control #clothing #foot_fetish #foot_kissing #foot_worship #hypnosis #leather #mind_control #mindbreak #mindfuck #restraints #revenge_hypnosis #reversal_of_fortune #role_reversal #wealth

This story is a sequel to APEX PREDATOR, and begins where the latter left off. Reading APEX first is not strictly necessary, but it will net you the best reading experience. Enjoy!


My hand finds Margaret’s, and squeezes.

Her touch is soft and warm. Once, when she still thought herself an apex predator in the making, her skin was smooth and perfect, a rich girl’s skin.

I loved that about her, for the brief blissful months when she was mine. Now, I can feel the calluses – matching my own, really – developed by scrubbing floors and washing dishes. A servant girl’s skin.

Yet, the warmth remains.

I cling to that comfort. Because the only other source of metaphorical warmth in this ballroom, is the raging fire of hunger for power. And that’s the sort of fire that bites cold.

Oh, the room is made to look warm. Crystal chandeliers cast an orange glow over marble floors and gilded furnishings. The soft clink of wine glasses, the muttering of polite and refined conversation, it all looks so civilised.

But there’s no mistaking the coldness underneath. This gathering isn’t just an assemblage of the powerful and influential, it’s a conference of predators.

I once thought I could be one of them.

It’s easy to rationalise that might makes right, when you think you might end up on the winning side. But Elizabeth’s triumph over me has shattered that perception. Serving her is hot. Getting to spend my life with Margaret is a gift. But it all still feels so unfair.

I excelled at Ragnaring. I subdued Margaret. Social mobility was within reach, and I lost it all because of one oversight, one misstep. But for that, I could be in this room as a guest, not as a collared slave, not as Mistress’ doggie. I could have Margaret on my leash, and sip fine wine, and feel like I was at the top of the world.

That’s what I’ve been telling myself anyway. The one ember of my old self that’s still there, after Elizabeth’s thorough training has snuffed out all the rest. I’ve been telling myself that I’m paying a disproportionate price for one mistake, that I don’t deserve to spend the rest of my life on my knees.

But now, taking in all the decadent finery and the cutthroat smiles… I’m no longer so sure.

I look at Margaret, wondering what she’s thinking. She’s gorgeous, her red hair like a crown of fire, which goes so well with the slick black collar around her neck. That’s what she is, isn’t she? A fallen queen.

She stands tall, shapely and inviting, while I shuffle and slouch in sullenness. Were it not for the curiosity attracted by my purple hair, I feel like Margaret would be getting all the attention.

She smiles and serves with ease. Her eyes are green and bright, where mine are deep and dark, clever where mine just show how sad I feel.

She seems so much more at ease in this life than I am. Is it because I started the process of breaking her, before Elizabeth – no, not Elizabeth, she is Mistress - made her move?

The difference in our attitudes… Is it a sign of her personal weakness – or a sign of my weakness?

She smiles at me, not the servile smile she reserves for the powerful, no… this is our smile. Hers, and mine, and Mistress’s. So unconcerned, so carefree.

What a pairing we must make, matching collars, matching slaves... her the slave and me the dog, to be more precise. Beautiful, and sexy, and in love… and owned.

We’re chained to the wall.

Every ballroom worth its status provides convenient sconces where the wealthy and powerful can leash their slaves for convenience, and linger unencumbered. They look at us the same way one might look at a dildo.

Useful to get off, but an inanimate object for all that.

That’s who we are, to people who rank high in Black Opal. Objects. Weakness personified. Clay to be molded to our owners' whims.

I can't help but feel the sharp sting of envy as I watch them, these predators. For a moment, the familiar thought resurfaces again.

Had things gone different at Ragnaring, I’d be enjoying the same fruits they are.

But again, uncertainty creeps in. I’m painfully self-conscious of my background, of the fact that I’ve enjoyed serving Margaret, that I find myself responding to Elizabeth’s firm hand. I feel out of my depth.

Ragnaring wasn’t the real war, it was just boot camp. It was not where the competition ended. It’s where it began.

Would I really have what it takes to emulate Mistress’s own actions? To slowly but inexorably climb the ladder of the Corporation, sparring with competitors at every turn, dealing with the world of shadowy corporate politics, where the losers stand to lose far more than just a chance at a promotion?

It is practically mandatory for anyone who wishes to be taken seriously at Black Opal to have a collection of prizes and conquests – a living representation of her steps to the top. Ragnaring was even more right than I knew. These people, and organisations like this, revere only strength.

This is why even someone like me – a girl from the slums, without a single drop of Old Blood in my veins – could even aspire to become one of them.

It’s also why I failed.

I wasn’t strong enough, focused enough, ruthless enough. So what if I had played my cards right – would I be able to play them once more here and now? Could I do what Mistress does?

Day in and day out, dance the dance and never miss a step?

A nearby couple pauses to admire us, their gazes lingering on our bared legs, the slick black collars. Heat floods my cheeks – I thrill at the attention. Mistress will be pleased, and what pleases Mistress pleases me. Our beauty in thralldom merely adds to her own.

I hate that I like that.

"Aren't they exquisite?" Mistress says, and I startle at the sound of her voice. Her hand strokes down my back in a possessive caress, settling on my hip to pull me closer against her side. "Fiona is not as well-behaved as Margaret yet, but she is learning quickly."

My face is on fire, and it’s all I can do not to openly moan at the words. I dare a glance at the woman she addresses, taking in expensive jewels and a predatory smile. I swallow hard against the lump in my throat, torn between longing for Mistress's approval and fear of this stranger who looks at me with naked hunger. But it is not my place to want or fear, or so I tell myself. I am Mistress's to do with as she pleases.

The woman's smile widens, eyes gleaming. "I must congratulate you on snatching the pair of them. Not something you see every day. The Corporation will benefit from fresh blood like you," she purrs, and leans in to whisper something in Mistress's ear that makes her chuckle.

Mistress pats my cheek, a glint of approval in her eyes. "You're doing well here, pet. Now smile - you have an audience."

I force my lips into a tremulous smile. I haven’t been able to cum in so long… I can’t wait for this function to finish. I just want to go back home and let Elizabeth and Margaret fuck me into brainless submission. If I am to be a slave for life, I can at least focus on the parts that feel incredibly good, rather than just personally demeaning.

The stranger says something else to make Mistress laugh, a calculated show of mirth that does not touch her eyes. With a nod, Elizabeth unchains Margaret and I from the wall, one leash in each hand. She gives a demonstrative tug, possessive and reassuring.

“My friend Julia has reminded me of the importance of making new acquaintances,” she says, talking to us – though the message is not really meant for the likes of Maggie and I. "Come along, pets. We have fellow guests to entertain."

Mistress glides across the ballroom, a vision in red silk and diamonds. We trail in her wake, Margaret and I. My own leash is drawn taut, almost tight – it’s awkward, but I can’t help myself from looking around, taking in every detail of this social sanctum I could have belonged to, if I’d played my cards right.

Not so Margaret. Her gaze is lowered in deference, her focus entirely on Mistress and on keeping pace. Her own leash hangs slack and loose as she follows dutifully, never falling out of step.

The cluster parts for us, people eager to take a good look at this new young Mistress with her two young slaves.

It’s funny. One of the things about being property is that you can sometimes be invisible, and sometimes be the centre of disquieting attention for an entire room of your betters. And the transition between the two states can be as quick as half a heartbeat.

"Elizabeth, darling!" A statuesque blonde envelops Mistress in an air kiss, clutching her shoulders. She’s in incredible shape, and tall – Mistress’s head doesn’t quite reach her chin.

"You simply must tell me where you found those matching collars,” the woman says. “I would die for a set of pieces like that."

"You have exquisite tastes, Amelia," Mistress smiles, thin and sharp. "I’ll have Margaret send your own household chattel the phone number for the atelier where I got them, if you're interested."

"You're a gem." Amelia laughs, but her eyes are not on Mistress – they keep swivelling between Margaret and I. "Speaking of, is this the pair of slaves I've heard so much about? The ones you bagged at Ragnaring? They’re quite the prize. Any chance you’d be willing to part with one of them for an evening or two?"

Mistress's hand tightens on my leash, the only outward sign of her annoyance. "Best to wait until their training is complete, or so I’ve been advised."

Amelia's gaze sweeps over me, assessing. I keep my eyes downcast, suddenly doubtful. Should I try to look desirable? Or will my decorative appeal make Amelia want me more, and thus annoy Mistress? I fidget about in place, unsure what to think, until Amelia takes the decision away from me.

"Charming," she says at last. "You’ve been advised well, and I won’t press. If you ever tire of the one with the red hair, though, do let me know. I'm sure we could come to an arrangement."

"I'm quite content with the both of them." Mistress bares her teeth in a sharp smile. This Amelia must not rank very high in Black Opal, if Elizabeth feels confident enough to be this blunt.

No matter their height disparity – it’s clear which of the two is doing the intimidating, right now.

"Of course, dear." Amelia takes a hasty step back, nervousness bleeding through her haughty demeanor. "My apologies. I didn't mean to overstep."

"Think nothing of it." Mistress pats her arm, a clear dismissal. "Do enjoy the party, won't you?"

Amelia beats a hasty retreat, cowed.

As Elizabeth resumes her circuit of the ballroom, I find myself staring at her with a renewed sense of awe. She’s only been in the Corporation for such a short time, and she’s already in a position where she can put women who’ve been here longer in their place.

An apex predator indeed…

I lick my lips, staring at the glossy black heels that click against the marble floor with each of Mistress’ steps. If she gives me the chance to worship them tonight, she might just find me more adoring than usual.

More insecure, too… but predators love insecurity. It’s what allows them to pry you apart, until you start becoming unwound.

We stop before a tall, raven-haired, severe woman in a military dress uniform. I gulp, looking at her up and down, the way the black overcoat makes her seem so much larger than life. I can’t help but envision her flat-soled riding boots squashing my face into the ground…

Mistress's nails dig into my arm, sharp and sudden. "Stop that," she hisses in my ear. "I will not have you panting after another woman like a bitch in heat."

I flinch, stung by her displeasure. "Forgive me, Mistress." The words are automatic. "I am yours, and yours alone."

"General Lydia," Mistress purrs, dipping into a curtsy. "How lovely to see you."

"Lady Elizabeth." The general's tone is curt, her gaze frosty. "I see you've brought your pets again."

"But of course. A lady aspiring of status such as myself must have chattel to match." Mistress's fingers play with the leash. "And since Fiona here has been such a good girl lately, I thought I'd reward her with an outing."

Lene snorts. "I'm sure she's simply delighted at the chance to be trotted about on a leash for your amusement." Her scornful gaze rakes over me. I shrink under the force of her derision, heat flooding my face.

Anger flickers in Mistress's eyes, there and gone in an instant behind her placid smile. "Fiona knows her place is by my side. She enjoys a great relationship with Margaret, and is content to serve in whatever capacity I require of her."

"Is that so?" General Lydia reaches out, grasping my chin and forcing my head up. I whimper, torn between the urge to pull away and the spike of arousal that lances through me at the unexpected show of force.

This is a soldier, alright. Someone used to taking what she will…

The general’s eyes are as mirthless as Mistress’, and her mouth is pressed into a thin line. She studies me with the same expression she might reserve for a very pathetic and impractical breed of dog. "She doesn't look content to me. I think you've broken her, that's all. Not that I disapprove."

“It sounds to me like we’re simply discussing means and ends,” Elizabeth says, very politely, very calmly. General Lydia snorts again. But she releases my chin, and I sag in relief against Mistress's side.

The confrontation has drawn eyes. Satisfaction glints in Mistress's gaze as she surveys the crowd. Let them look, let them see her triumph. She belongs here.

Perhaps more than I ever could have, even if I’d played all my cards right.

The interest Elizabeth’s self-confidence has drawn is not limited to looks and comments, it would seem. Another woman approaches. And this one makes three.

Though she looks different from the others. Where Amelia and Lydia were physically imposing, this blond woman is short and unassuming, with a neutral expression on her face that would fit perfectly in a poker game.

And that immediately catches my attention… because it reminds me of Mistress.

"Ah, Elizabeth," the woman says with a smile that fails to light up her face. "I suppose it was high time we met in person.”

"Well met, Lene," Elizabeth replies, her voice smooth as silk. “Yes, high time. It just wouldn’t do for us to work together for an extended period of time without getting acquainted, first.”

The subtlest twitch of an eyebrow is all the reaction Lene’s face shows to the outside world. But I see the pride in her eyes, the ongoing threat assessment as she squares Mistress up and down.

She may look unremarkable – not too thin, not too shapely, somewhat short, with dull blond hair that reaches just past her shoulders… but her eyes are where her true self shines through, I think. Chipped blue, calculating, and cold.

Together is not the word I would choose,” she says. “It implies a level of peerage that… does not really apply to the context. Be that as it may. I’m sure when the time comes for me to review your work, I will have no reason to complain.”

I look back at Mistress, understanding dawning inside me this time. Careful, Mistress, I think to myself. If this woman is truly responsible for giving Mistress a performance review, she could stop her rise through the Corporation cold.

Sweat trickles at the back of my neck, even though I objectively have no direct stake in this… I think. This conversation is not like the others, and I can tell. From the outside, Elizabeth looks like an imperturbable mask too, but you don’t serve someone every day without learning to pick up on the smallest of clues.

The way her eyes shift left and right, as if scanning for threats. The slow, deliberate picking of her words. She’s suddenly defensive. She knows she must tread carefully, too.

“I certainly hope so,” she says, an ambivalent phrasing that could mean contrition… Yes, I won’t give you any reason to complain, but it could also mean something else entirely. You better not make up a reason.

Plausible deniability. Mistress was born to play these games.

To dance the dance and never miss a step.

“You've certainly made your mark early,” Lene acknowledges with a polite nod. “Impressive for someone so young and... inexperienced."

Elizabeth smiles back. "I believe one must be resourceful and adaptable to succeed, especially when faced with adversity."

"Indeed," Lene muses. She grabs a glass of wine from a passing servant’s tray, and takes a small sip, careful not to break eye contact. "But remember, dear girl, true power is not simply handed to you. It must be earned."


The first time that the affectation of propriety has slipped to reveal the knives underneath, it seems. I study Mistress, trying to glean what she’s going to do – I already know how she feels. Her mood has darkened, as if a storm cloud has just passed before the sun, but she’s too good a player to let that show easily.

Instead, she matches her opponent: she grabs a glass of wine from a tray, without even throwing a sidelong glance at the slave holding the tray. As she sips, her eyes never leave Lene.

"Of course," Elizabeth says at last, her tone remaining gracious as ever. Her own knives are still kept under wraps. "And I have every intention of earning my place here."

"Bold words," Lene counters, her gaze sweeping over Elizabeth, then lingering on me. It feels like ice against my skin, making me shudder involuntarily. "Let us hope your actions can match them. Though things would certainly go smoother if the higher-ups were guaranteed to witness these actions. Sometimes, a file just stops on a desk for so long, and, well… we all have busy lives, you know how it is."

For a heartbeat, it seems like the mingling partygoers in our proximity are holding their breath. I frown, wondering if I’ve heard this right. Is Lene asking for a bribe?

I suppose that’s not exactly unheard of. This world is like Ragnaring writ large. Nothing ever comes free, not even the things normal people would take completely for granted, such as giving due consideration to a subordinate’s achievements. There is always a cost, even if you don’t always see it.

But what’s the cost here?

Whatever it is, it’s clearly something Mistress is loath to offer. Her jaw is tightly set, and she’s taking a long time to answer, staring coldly at Lene from the rim of her glass of wine. She’s overdoing it, I think. That stare is emotionless and dead. It’s the sort of stare that, when occasionally glimpsed, made us at Ragnaring think of Elizabeth as a bit of a creepy girl.

But Lene is no school pupil. Surely she knows that Mistress is a threat…

At last, Elizabeth’s face stretches into a thin smile. "Very well," she says, her voice deceptively calm. "In the interest of fostering cooperation and goodwill, and displaying my respect for authority, I offer you the temporary loan of a slave of your choosing. Say, for a month?"


For once, even Margaret is shocked out of her impeccable slavegirl demeanour and posture. She looks up at me, eyes going wide, her breath caught in her throat.

That barely registers, though. I can barely hear myself think over the sudden, thunderous beating of my own heart.

"Your generosity is noted, Elizabeth," Lene replies, her eyes flickering over me with a predatory glint. "The one with the purple hair, I think. She looks fun to break."

No no no no no. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. When I accepted, when I, when, when I submitted to Mistress without reservation, it was also because she said, she promised…

I’m supposed to stay with Margaret!

I’m hyperventilating, I feel dizzy, the ballroom is spinning around me. As restless as I’ve been under Mistress’ foot, the prospect of leaving, of serving without Maggie, it… it’s terrifying!

"Of course," Elizabeth responds coolly, her gaze never wavering from Lene. "Fiona is a skilled and obedient servant, trained to cater to your every whim. You will find no fault in her."

"Then let us toast to our newfound friendship," Lene suggests, raising her glass in a mock salute. The words ring hollow, but that’s how the game is played, and these women are all players… and I’m not.

I’m just a pawn. Chattel. Clay. I’m Elizabeth’s dog.

"Indeed," Elizabeth agrees, lifting her own glass in response. "To cooperation and mutual benefit."

Lene regards her thoughtfully for a moment, then smiles – a slow, dangerous curve of her lips that promises both pleasure and pain in equal measure. "Mutual benefit indeed, my dear Elizabeth. Rest assured, I will make good use of your precious little slave."

"See that you do," Elizabeth replies, and for just the tiniest moment, the mask slips. That’s entirely intentional, I’m sure. Mistress wants to make it known that her granting a concession does not mean she’s being cut down to size – that this is just a conditional exchange of favours.

Somehow, that fails to comfort me.

It hardens Lene’s attitudes, though. She dislikes the reminder that Mistress still has teeth. "Of course. For now, please do enjoy the festivities."

Mistress nods and turns towards me. She takes me in with one sweeping glance – the way I’m barely able to stand, on the verge of panic, breathing faster and faster – and gives one firm tug of the leash. She smiles, as she draws close to me, slow and predatory. "See that you remember," she says. "You will always be mine, Fiona, no matter who’s standing over you as you kneel. Your place is with Maggie, and beneath me."

And just like that, she is gone, Margaret throwing forlorn glances at me as she dutifully follows Mistress through the crowd. I close my eyes, trying to shut out the noise, the emotional and sensory overload, to cling on to Mistress’ words…

This is how far I’ve fallen. I find slavery reassuring. I’m pathetically grateful for her reminder that she’ll get me back… that I will return to Maggie and her.

Return home.

Funny. I never thought of our household as home until the moment I lost it.

I reopen my eyes at the startling touch of fingers against my throat, sneaking in between the skin and the collar that wraps around it.

"Enjoying the evening, Fiona?" Lene purrs from behind me, her voice dripping with false sweetness as she sidles up to me. She circles me slowly, studying me from every angle, her hands never leaving my collar.

Then, she comes to a full stop in front of me. Her eyes bore into mine, twin pools of cold blue fire that send shivers down my spine.

"Y-yes, Mistress Lene," I stammer, dropping my gaze to the ground in an attempt to evade her stare. This woman wants to dominate me, but it’s not really me that the weight of her attention is focused on. It’s Mistress she’s thinking of, and those behind her eyes are not gentle thoughts.

I’m… scared.

"Good, good," Lene murmurs, and I can feel her fingers tighten over my collar. "You should relish the opportunity of serving in a more… established household. Perhaps you’ll find that a very teachable experience."

"Thank you, Mistress," I reply, my voice barely audible. My fear is so thick that I feel like the women in this room could smell it, if they wanted to. I’m just harmless prey, surrounded by predators, and what’s worse…

For the first time, truly the first time since I first stepped through the gates of Ragnaring, I am alone.

My hand searches for Margaret’s again, and finds only empty air.

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