Awareness was slow to arrive. It felt even slower than when Master had spent hours upon hours fractionating her, breaking her mind down into the basest elements so that he could implant some new essential element to her training. Her world was foggy, darkness at the edges of sight refused to go away, sounds refused to make sense, and she couldn't tell what she was feeling.
She tried to process what was happening, putting her mind to the task of focusing on one element at a time.
She was in a bed.
Not her bed
Not Mistress’ bed.
It wasn’t comfortable, but it was a bed.
She was looking at white walls.
No, curtains, not walls.
Sounds weren't making sense because they were muffled and distant.
The whole space felt... clean. Antiseptic. Hospital-like.
Perhaps she was hurt.
Was she hurt?
She didn't feel hurt.
But medicines, temporary chips or implants, drugs...
Sammy had no medical training, but she knew there were dozens of ways a doctor could numb or block pain.
She tried to speak, but her tongue was heavy. Could be a side effect of treatment. Words didn't want to happen. She could feel them forming in her mind, but something wasn't quite right with the connection between her brain and her mouth.
Finally, sound came out. “Wur 'm I?” she managed.
No one answered.
She looked around for Mistress.
There was someone standing at the foot of the bed.
Mistress was nowhere to be seen
Sammy focused again on the person at the foot of the bed.
They wore scrubs and a lab coat, they looked like a doctor.
That would make sense if Sammy had been hurt.
She tried to remember the last thing that had happened.
She remembered the bus, and then...
Had there been an accident?
Sammy tried not to think about that. An accident, an injury that landed her in the hospital, that would mean she needed time to recover, if she could even recover, and that meant time away from Mistress, and Mistress needed her, and she needed Mistress, and...
Sammy tried not to think about that.
Instead, she looked to her right. A muscular, dark-skinned person was sitting there. Perhaps a physiotherapist. Perhaps another sort of therapist, someone to help her adjust to a new reality.
Her limbs wouldn't move.
If she had been paralyzed, even if it was treatable, that could mean weeks, months of recovery time, time she would be dependent on other people, dependent on Mistress, and that wasn't the way these things were supposed to work, Mistress needed her, and if she couldn’t serve...
Sammy tried not to think about that.
She looked down, over herself, assessing like Master had taught her to do when he woke her from her trances, to see if he had hurt her or if in her duties she had hurt herself.
A needle in her arm. From there, a tube, an intravenous drip, some sort of clear fluid being pushed into her body.
A restraint, below it. She tested her arm, and the restraint held it to the bed, with very little give. The other arm, and both legs, felt the same.
A wave of relief passed through her then. She wasn't paralyzed, at least not that she could tell. She was tied down. She had been tied to a bed on more than one occasion. Maybe this was a game of Mistress', and she would come in through the door (or curtain) all beautiful and sexy and call her a good girl and everything would be right with the world and they would kiss and—
“Hey there,” the person sitting next to her said. Their voice was kind, sympathetic, deep and soothing.
But why would Sammy need soothing? Something wasn't right.
Why would Mistress arrange all of this? It didn't make sense. There must have been an accident. And she had been on the bus because of a task Mistress gave her. She had to get back. Mistress would be missing her, would be feeling guilty because Sammy was only on the bus because Mistress had forgotten her case, and if she had been better organized—Sammy made a quick mental note to make sure that Mistress' case was always near the door when she needed it—if Mistress had been better organized Sammy wouldn't have been on the bus in the first place so Sammy had to get back so Mistress wouldn't feel bad—
“Hey, hey now, it’s okay, there’s no need to freak out. You’re okay, you’re safe.” The voice was calm, soothing, and understanding. Sammy took a deep breath. She had been hyperventilating without knowing it. She relaxed her arms and legs which were straining against the restraints. She was still worried, but that even, soothing voice helped her to relax. “If you promise me you won’t try to get out of the bed, I’ll undo the arm restraints, okay?”
Sammy took another deep breath, to show that she was in control, and nodded slowly, willing herself to relax.
The dark-skinned person leaned over, unclipping the bonds that had kept Sammy’s arms tied to the bed. She still couldn’t stand, but at least she could sit up, which she did.
“You thirsty?” her caretaker asked.
Sammy nodded again, and graciously took the plastic cup of water he had poured for her, swallowing it in large gulps. She looked for somewhere to put the cup, but couldn't reach the small table, so she handed it back.
"Feel a bit better? A little more human?"
"Good. You're safe here," they continued. "We got you out. You're free now."
Sammy started, and reached up to her neck.
She wasn't wearing a collar.
Did that mean she'd been... released? Was this Mistress' way of saying she didn't want her slave anymore? Why hadn't Sammy been returned to Master? Was this a facility for... Sammy wasn't even sure what to call it. Deprogramming? Un-slaving? She felt sick to her stomach.
No, no,no,nonononono, that couldn’t be right. I’m a slave. I’m Mistress' slave. I'm happy to be Mistress' slave, that's what I want to be.
She hadn’t been free in over a decade.
She didn’t want to be free. She needed to be owned. She needed to obey.
She felt the first tears on her cheek, and then with that realization came the permission to let the others out. She started sobbing uncontrollably.
Free? What had she done wrong? Was Mistress displeased?
She’d only ever heard of slaves being freed if they wanted to be, or if they failed in their service to such an incredible degree that there was no choice but to release them and find them another owner. But why would Mistress get rid of her? Mistress seemed so happy with Sammy’s service, so pleased by her obedience, was she lying the whole time? She wouldn't have taken her from Master just to free her only a couple days later, would she?
Sammy bunched up the thin blankets that covered her, gripping them in her fists, pressing them to her face, trying to stifle her sobs, or at least hide her face. She was a failure. That was the only explanation. Such a bad slave that her Mistress didn’t even give her back. She needed to get back to Mistress, fix whatever she had done wrong, she needed to apologize, she needed to beg and plead to be allowed to keep serving.
“LET ME GO, LET ME GO!” Sammy struggled against the bonds as hard as she could, pulling at her legs, straining, screaming. She didn’t know who these people were, she didn’t know where she was, she just had to get away, and find someone to help her get back to Mistress.
The dark-skinned person looked at her with a mix of concern and understanding, while the ... doctor? Sammy didn't know. While the person in the lab coat moved towards the bag of fluid with a syringe, nervously preparing to add some sort of drug to the mixture.
“Nah, it’s okay," the calm voice said, holding up a hand to wave off the doctor. "I’d freak out too. She's fine, it's not like she can hurt me. You can go."
Sammy strained against her bonds again. “WHERE AM I? LET ME GO!”
The doctor looked at her with concern and seemed about to move to inject the IV bag again. The other one shook their head again, and the doctor shrugged and turned away.
Sammy took another deep, sobbing breath to shout and—
She didn't even see them move.
She was held down, not by bonds, but by two hands, two arms, expertly pressing her to the bed, holding her mouth shut. The force was more like that of a car than of a person. Her breath caught in her throat.
“Shhhhhhhh”, they said, “I don’t want to have to knock you back out, or tie you back up, but that is what is going to happen if you can’t calm your shit down, you understand?”
Sammy nodded. They hesitated, then let go slowly pulled back.
Sammy kept her word, and didn’t start screaming again, no matter how much she wanted to. She expelled the deep breath slowly, trying to keep calm.
The doctor had turned back, making a third move with the syringe, but was waved off again. Finally, the doctor ducked through the curtains and left, still looking nervous.
The two of them waited there a moment while Sammy made sure she wasn't going to have another panic attack.
Finally, she mustered the will to ask a question. One word, whispered. “Free?” Even to her own ears, her voice sounded small and empty.
“Yeah” they said, with a wide, gentle smile. “I don’t know what kind of torture you went through, but it’s over now”.
Sammy stared, trying to process what they had said. Those dark eyes looked so compassionate, so understanding... She didn’t scream again, but she cried instead, her entire body shaking.
“That’s right, let it all out." The comforting voice was deep, smooth. "You don’t have to go through that ever again.”
“Please," Sammy sobbed, "please tell Mistress whatever I did, I’m sorry!”
She could hear the gentle smile in the reply. “You don’t need to worry about that. There’s no ‘Mistress’ here. She can’t ever hurt you again.”
“Hurt... me?” Sammy realized some kind of terrible mistake had been made. “No, no, no! I promise! Mistress never hurt me!” Maybe if they understood, they would take her home.
“Then what are those scars from?”
Sammy hesitated. She didn’t like talking about it, but she didn’t want to let these people think that Mistress was an abuser she needed to be rescued from. Sammy considered for a moment, maybe, if her scars were the reason that she was in this place, if they got Mistress in trouble, then maybe it was worth getting them treated?
“When... When I was in school, I didn’t think I was good for anything. I did it to myself.”
The look she got made her feel like she was made of glass, easy to see clear through. The two of them sat together quietly for a moment.
The dark-skinned person broke the silence. “My name’s Ennay.”
Sammy waited. When Ennay didn’t continue, she asked, “Umm… What are your pronouns?”
“Huh? Right, uh, I’m a man?”
Sammy decided that this meant using ‘he/him’ and decided to go with that until she was corrected. “I’m Sammy, she, her," she introduced herself, and then the words tumbled out. "I promise, my Mistress isn’t an abuser! Is she okay? She’s not in trouble, right? Can I please go home now?”
“Sammy.” Ennay’s brow furrowed, “Why would you want to go back there?” He didn't seem mad, more like confused.
That made two of them. “Because that’s where I live?”
“You know you don’t have to live as a slave, right?”
“Well, obviously! But I want to!”
Ennay’s mouth hung open for a second, and then, recomposing himself, he asked, as if pleading, “Why?”
Sammy paused to gather her thoughts. That was a big question. Really big. Big like asking someone their purpose on Earth.“I like being useful," she began slowly. "I like doing what I am told, I like that I don’t really have to worry about anything except making Mistress happy!" Once the ideas came, they wouldn't stop. "I like that when I am sad, or stressed, or anything, I can just remember that I am owned and it’s not so hard. I live for the look on my owner’s face when I get something exactly right. When they say they want to use me, it makes me feel like the most precious, special slave in the entire world!”
Ennay was looking at her. Sammy couldn’t quite place what his expression meant. He almost looked like a drone without it’s helmet, processing rather than thinking.
"I have... questions."
Sammy smiled. It seemed like this man didn’t want to hurt her, he just didn’t understand. If she was good, and well-behaved, maybe they would take her home. But also, she knew that it was important to understand what was happening. Maybe if she got enough information, she could tell Mistress all about it. She'd only ever had Master before Mistress, and Master led a sheltered and quiet life, so maybe this was a common event for slaves working for someone like Mistress. The more she learns, the more likely she'll be able to avoid this situation in the future. “I have lots of questions too! What if we take turns?” She would answer as best as she could, but she didn't remember much about her programming and didn't know a lot about the world around her; she'd been given conditioned responses and taught how not to think, and she was a good girl who followed her programming as perfectly as she could.
He seemed briefly amused by Sammy's tone and energy. “Heh, alright, but I can’t promise I can answer everything.” His face suddenly turned serious. "Why don't you have any implants?" His tone remained friendly, but his expression and his choice of words made Sammy feel like it was an interrogation.
Sammy wasn’t sure what she expected the first question to be, really, but was glad that it was one she was used to answering. “When I was growing up, I kind of just thought like, people are so amazing the way they are! Our bodies get hurt, and they heal themselves even stronger, and that’s a scar! That’s why I didn’t get my scars treated, because I want to remember that I am strong too! Acne marks, scrapes and bumps, they’re the tapestry of our lives! I wanted the totally birth-standard experience.” The discussion made her think more about her own scars, and the option she had to have them treated. Strength wasn't as important as obedience to a slave. If Mistress told her to... but that was a thought for later.
Ennay nodded. Sammy wondered if he really understood.“My turn?” Ennay nodded again, so she asked, “Why am I here?’
Ennay hesitated for a moment. “I think I might have made a mistake." His voice betrayed confusion and, perhaps, guilt. "I was hired to get unwillingly chipped slaves out of Febos. I thought I would be clever, grab a whole bunch at once. You were part of the bunch.”
“I didn’t think you could chip someone who didn’t want to be chipped?" Ennay wasn't making sense. The idea that there were slaves who didn't want to be slaves was bizarre. "Like, don’t they turn off if you don’t want it anymore?”
Ennay paused again. “You can. There are some chips that don’t turn off when consent is violated.” A dark look came across Ennay’s face. Sammy felt it best not to ask how he knew, and anyway it wasn't her turn. But the idea of someone being forced to do something they didn’t want to do? Not something they wanted to be pushed into, or those fun times when a slave would be allowed to struggle and enjoy how it felt when she—when they failed to resist. But something that they really didn’t want to do, something as big as getting a chip, permanently changing who they are and how they relate to the world? That was hard for Sammy to get her mind around the idea. The kind of person that would do that to someone, they would be... evil. That was the only possible word for it. Evil.
Ennay seemed to take note of the silence, and asked his question. "If you aren't chipped, does that mean you were there freely?"
Sammy nodded enthusiastically. “Yup, I moved to the territory basically as soon as I became an adult, just so I could be a slave!” Before Ennay could ask more, Sammy quickly continued,
“Where am I?”
Ennay took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I can’t give you specifics. This place is a secret." He spoke slowly, choosing his words carefully. "Broadly speaking, you are in Kamikaw, the DCA territory”.
It had been ages since Sammy had had to worry about anything outside of Febos' borders, so she didn't really know a lot of geography or regional politics. If memory served, and she wasn't sure that it did, that was far away, nearly an entire day's drive. Further from home than she'd been since she moved. So far from Mistress.
"Why did you move to Febos, then?" Ennay asked. "Why did you want to be a slave?"
That was a very personal, private question, and Sammy was reluctant to answer. Still, Ennay seemed nice; if he could be convinced of how much she loved being a slave, then maybe, hopefully, he would take her back.
Sammy looked down into her hands. "I used to... I would hurt myself because I didn't think I was good for anything. I wanted to be useful, to be part of something more, something... bigger than myself. A purpose, you know? I wanted to be... happy. And a good slave, a really good slave, can find real love, real care. So, when I first heard about Febos and started reading, looking up audio and video files..." She looked back at Ennay. "There was an interview with a Master. He talked about his pets, but the way he talked about them... it was like they were special, each of them, and each of them was exactly who he wanted them to be. And then they talked to the pets, and they talked about how happy they were, to be made exactly right for one person, you know? It's like how people talk about soulmates or something, but a Master gets to make their own, and the slaves get to know that they're perfect. I'd never been perfect before, not for anyone, not for anything. And I wanted to feel that. To feel that special, to be cherished. For me—a-and for me, nobody should be made to serve if they don't want to—for me, it's a better way to live. It..." She tried to think of the right words. "It called to me. Called to my heart. Nothing else ever did that, you know? I had a chance to be exactly right, to be perfect for someone, and... well, i-if you were me, you wouldn't, you couldn't pass that up."
There was a silence between them. Ennay shifted, looking uncomfortable. He didn't seem to know how to react.
Sammy spoke up, since it was her turn to ask a question. "How do I get home?" She hoped that her meek, soft tone and the question itself would help Ennay consider only the possibilities that would get her back to Mistress.
He scratched his temple. “Fuck. I don’t know." Finally he met her eyes. "This place can’t be found out. The people that run it won't allow it. My best guess is that we’ll put you back into a suppressed sleep, and... “ He trailed off.
“And what?” she prompted.
“Sorry, just thinking. You can’t be trusted not to tell everyone about what's going on here. OPSEC means that we shouldn’t—we can't let you go. Fuck. This wasn’t supposed to happen.”
Fear started to creep back into Sammy's heart. She tried very hard to stay still, tried very hard not to freak out, but she started sniffling again. “Mister Ennay, I wanna go home. Please, please take me home.”
Ennay stood up, and started walking to the curtains at the foot of her bed. “I’ll figure something out. Gotta talk to my Boss and see what he thinks.”
Ennay pulled open the curtains. At the same moment, another occupied bed was being wheeled by, pushed by the person in the lab coat. In the bed was the first familiar sight that Sammy had seen since waking up. There was no mistaking the hair, or the maid uniform, even mostly covered by the bedsheets.
“That’s Red!” she exclaimed. There was no mistaking what she had seen.
“Red?” Ennay asked as the bed left Sammy's sight.
“Yeah, it belonged to someone that my Mistress worked with! What are they doing to it?”
“They’re taking her to get her chip deactivated, and then she’ll go back to her old life.”
“Red is an ‘it’,” Sammy gently corrected. Or at least, she was trying to be gentle, when it came to something as important as someone’s pronouns it was hard to not be insistent. “Red’s Master seemed okay! Maybe a bit rude, but he doesn't seem like the sort of person who would own somebody who didn’t want to be owned!”
Ennay turned to look at her. “How can you know? How can you know that they wanted it, once that chip is inside them?”
Sammy didn’t have an answer to that, and Ennay walked out of her little curtained area, closing the curtains back up behind him. He seemed to expect her to think about his last statement.
She lay back down in the bed. Mistress must be so worried about me. I wish I could tell her I’m okay. ... Am I okay?
Sammy kept reaching to her neck. Her collar was missing. Every time she checked, it continued to not be there. She looked around. Perhaps it had been taken off her, for safety; it could get caught on something, it could get tighter and choke her... That had to be it. She tried to keep calm, even when she spotted the waste bin, even when she saw the leather strap in the bottom, and it's beautiful lock, broken into pieces.
She tried to reach for the basket, to assess the damage, to see if the ornament could be repaired, but with her legs still restrained it was just barely, painfully out of her reach.
She fought the panic. The collar is not my submission. Submission is in my heart. Mistress... Please be with me in spirit. I am yours, even when I am far from you. I am Mistress’ slave. I am Mistress’ slave.
She thought back on her life before Mistress, and all those little choices she would have to make when Master wasn’t home. She couldn’t always know what he would have wanted her to do, but she could trust in her training, trust in her submission. She could trust that if she just surrendered, obeyed, gave in to conditioning, she would find the right thing to do. She would find a way back to Mistress. She just kept breathing, focusing on her own submission.
I am Mistress’ slave. I am Mistress’ slave.
Sammy wasn’t sure when she fell asleep. It wasn’t a deep sleep, every time someone was walking just outside her curtains, or something heavy moved and echoed through this apparently massive building, she would awake with a little start. Then, she would realize that she wasn’t in immediate danger and close her eyes again. One time, she woke up, and all the lights were dimmed, and the next moment she recalled, they were back on. After all that, she didn’t feel much better rested.
Sammy woke up to the sound of her name. She looked at the curtains at the foot of her bed. Ennay stood there, waiting for her to come around.
He smiled, seeing her eyes open. “I thought it would be important for you to meet someone, so you knew I wasn’t lying.”
Ennay held open the curtain, and in walked a very, very nervous looking figure. Sammy recognized Red's face, but instead of it’s perfect, color-coded maid outfit, it was dressed in rather plain clothing, scrubs like those that might be worn by nurses, all beige. It's body language was unusual; gone were the focused stare, the perfect posture, replaced with an uncertain, closed off position and darting glances. Its eyes were bloodshot, not altered red, but as if it had just been crying.
“This is Michelle,” Ennay introduced it.
Red—’Michelle’—met Sammy’s eyes for a moment. Sammy thought she saw something like fear in them, but a moment later, it was gone. “Hi, um... This guy says you... know me?”
Sammy nodded. “Yeah, not, like, super well, but we’ve met.”
“Sorry, I don’t... really remember anything from when... I was... um...” Michelle sniffled
Ennay put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay. You don’t have to... but if you can, could you tell Sammy what happened?”
Michelle nodded and took a deep breath. “Okay. I was on a university trip. We were visiting Febos. Then, um, someone grabbed me. They put a thing in my head. They made me tell my fiancé that... that I was choosing to stay there as... as a...” Michelle gasped back a sob. "As a s-slave." She took a breath, obviously trying to keep from crying. "It’s like I was asleep for ages. It was the... the best feeling... dream, I guess, the best I could imagine.”
Ennay nodded down at it—at her, Sammy supposed.“Thank you for doing that for me. You're being very strong, Michelle. There’s a truck waiting to take you back to Daniel. You’re going to be okay now. You can go back to your old life.”
Michelle gave Ennay a grateful smile, and then headed out of the curtained area. Ennay watched with a small, sad smile, letting the curtain fall shut.
"I needed you to see that, Sammy," Ennay said, moving to sit on the edge of the bed. "That's what Febos does. It steals people from their lives, makes them slaves. We find out who they used to be, help them reclaim their... their selves. We remove the chips that we can, we deactivate those we can't, and we get people help. Real help. Physical, mental, emotional. And so far we've been able to locate families for everyone we've brought in." He sighed. "Which brings us to you. I don't know what to do with you, Sammy. Sending you back there, well... What if you know too much, now? They might decide that a good little slave girl who's seen the truth needs a chip in her head, to keep her from talking, you get me?"
Sammy swallowed, and nodded. What he was saying did make sense. Seeing Michelle raised uncomfortable questions. Sammy had been told that the story Michelle shared should have been impossible, that no one would ever let that happen. Unwilling slaves would be... well, just wrong. That's not what Febos was, or should have ever been. But Michelle obviously didn't want to be Red; did that mean that Blue was the same? And how many others? Mistress couldn't know about it, Mistress would have said something, would have done something... but... the doubt started to creep in. What if Mistress did know? Surely Mistress wouldn't want that. She had specifically chosen Sammy because Sammy didn't have a chip, because Sammy was willing... But all slaves were supposed to be willing, and if Mistress knew about people like Michelle, she would have to do something about it; Sammy would have to do something about it, too.
Until I know, she thought to herself, I have to trust that Mistress doesn't know that people are being forced into slavery. Mistress wouldn't allow that continue. She would fight back.
Maybe that, too, was the real reason behind forbidding slaves to meet people visiting from outside Febos. Sammy shuddered at the thought. What if Red had met Michelle's old family when they came to visit? What would have happened? If she really had been chipped unwillingly, maybe this was the best solution.
The next day was, thankfully, boring.
Ennay came to spend some time with her, alone this time. They didn't talk a lot. He brought her terrible-tasting food, in an odd tin labeled 'Meal, ready to eat. Contains: Beef, potato, pudding.' Three differently-coloured gelatinous masses were held inside, each equally unidentifiable and unappealing. Hunger dictated Sammy's actions, though; she couldn't serve Mistress if she was starving.
She tried to keep the distaste from her expression, but must have failed. Ennay laughed.“Yeah, MRE’s are pretty awful, but you can’t depend on a printer when you’re on the go.”
Despite the contents, Sammy finished the entire container, and thanked Ennay gratefully.
They sat mostly in uncomfortable silence. Occasionally, Sammy would ask for water, and Ennay would give her a glass. Neither really knew what to say. Sammy was curious about so much, but she was worried about the answers she might get if she started asking questions.
A few minutes after Sammy finished her meal, someone dressed in beige camo poked their head through the curtains, nodding to Ennay. “Boss wants you up in the command center.”
Ennay stood up, in a fluid, mechanical motion. “I’m hoping this is about what we plan to do with you.,” he said to Sammy.
She smiled back, still curious, but held her tongue.
A short while later, someone new made their way into Sammy's area, wearing a lab coat and a nervous expression, glancing about excitedly.
“Hello!" Sammy said brightly, thinking that a friendly greeting might calm them some.
The stranger jumped as if Sammy's voice were an unexpected shock. They didn't answer, though, merely pushing their glasses back up their face. They stepped to the side of the bed, reached down, and unlocked the wheels, moving quickly. It almost seemed like they were expecting an attack at any moment. They slipped up behind Sammy and started pushing the bed down the hall.
As they traveled, Sammy looked around, taking everything in. There were a lot of curtained areas like the one she had just been wheeled out of.
“Where are you taking me?” she asked politely.
She received no response.
Sammy was starting to feel nervous. Her bed was being pushed towards a pair of heavy-looking doors, which opened automatically at their approach. Whatever system opened and closed them hissed loudly with the sound of steam escaping a pipe as they moved. The latch fell shut with a loud kachunk, an awful metal-on-metal clang that had a frightening finality to it.
Sammy was wheeled into a completely white room with a padded metal table in the centre. The room smelled strange, a disgusting sort of sweetness permeating the air. The rest of the room was full of unfamiliar, sterile machinery, meant for some purpose Sammy couldn't discern.
The person that wheeled her in started to undo the straps that held her to the bed. They spoke the first words Sammy had heard from their voice. "Please move to the other table."
Sammy didn't want to upset anyone, so despite the oddness of the request, she stood unsteadily. "Oh, umm, yeah, okay!" She felt a bit dizzy, and held on to the bed as she started to move forward. Her hospital gown did little to preserve her modesty, but she had little care for that. She hopped up on the table, finding it cold and even less comfortable than the bed she'd just left.
“Please lie down,” the person in the lab coat clarified.
"Oh! Right." As soon as Sammy complied, heavy restraints wrapped themselves around her wrists and ankles. Sammy was immediately concerned. "Sorry, um... doctor? Are you a doctor? What's going on?"
They continued ignoring her. Sammy felt her stomach twisting into knots. Should I have told them no? she wondered to herself. What would they have done if I refused to move? She looked around the room, trying to find any hint as to why she was here, but she wasn’t a doctor, and knew almost nothing about medical equipment outside of a few basic first aid supplies, things that she might have needed in the aftermath of a scene, and none of the machines looked like anything she understood.
The presumed doctor was filling a syringe with a clear liquid, but Sammy couldn’t read the bottle. Even if she could, she probably wouldn't have known what the medication was for. Did she need a shot? Some vaccination against a local disease?
A machine on the ceiling, something she did actually recognize, caught her attention. A hologram emitter activated, projectinga face that Sammy didn’t recognize at all. The hologram addressed the other person in the room.“Report.” The voice, coming over speakers in the ceiling, felt cold and distant.
“I am just about to begin, Sir.” The reply was no less cold or distant despite being in the same room.
"The weapon is distracted. Get it done quickly, before he notices her absence. A truck is prepared to take her to her husband the second it's finished. I don't think I can keep the weapon busy more than an hour. Be quick. It doesn't have to be clean."
“Yes, Sir,” the doctor replied
The face vanished with a flicker.
"Husband?" Sammy asked, half to herself, not expecting an answer. There must have been a mistake, she didn't have a husband, she was Mistress' slave. "When... when what's finished?"
The doctor didn't look up from the metallic disc they were examining, tapping a few controls on it.“Your programming,” they said, sounding bored.
"Programming? B-but that doesn't make..." She shook her head, trying to be cheerful. "You must have me mixed up with someone else. I don't have a chip to program."
The doctor looked up and nodded, approaching her with the syringe and the disc. "We know. That's the problem we're here to fix.