a prison, a body

xxiii. helen. bad dance

by gargulec

Tags: #cw:sexual_assault #D/s #drones #pov:bottom #sub:female #transgender_characters #bondage #exhibitionism #sadomasochism
See spoiler tags : #robots #scifi

Rabbit put down the brush, gathered a tiny bit of silver-blue glitter on the tip of their finger and smudged it alongside the edges of their face. They frowned at their reflection in the mirror for a moment, then smiled and turned to Helen.

“How do I look?” they asked.

“Brilliant,” Helen replied, the word coming off dull and flat; her mouth dry, her throat clenched.

She meant it, for what it was worth. Excited and beaming, Rabbit practically shone with twinkish chrarm. They’d spent the last hour and a half prettying themself up, while Helen had just sat in the corner fidgeting with a keycard and stewing in the slow-motion misery of having her insides churn with the half-imagined impressions of what the night would bring.

Rabbit nodded contently, then looked back to the stack of their palettes.

“Hey,” they said warmly, “do you want me to make you up?”

“We’ll be late,” Helen muttered without a trace of enthusiasm. “We probably should get going.”

“It’s not like they’ll close the bar on us,” Rabbit shrugged their slender shoulders. “In fact, the later we arrive, the lower the chance we’ll have to mingle with the clientele, so...” they let their voice drop.

They had a good point. Helen thought about all those politicians, all those businessmen and idle rich who came here to get off on whatever Galatea had to offer. A good half of them—good half, yeah right—were cheating on their wives right now, she bet. Or husbands, or whatever. What was she even doing here, among them? She reached for the jug of water, poured herself a glass, drank a bit, and shivered.

“Helen,” Rabbit whispered, shuffling closer, perching themselves on the edge of bed within arm’s reach. They leaned in; there was an unusual softness in the way they looked at her. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah…” she lied, gulping audibly. “No. I’m just… just worried, okay? Stage fright, or something. It’s gonna be alright. I’m just worried about you and…”

Rabbit sighed.

“You don’t have to go if you don’t want to,” they said, straining not to let frustration bleed into their voice. “Get some weed, I’m sure they’ll bring you some if you ask, bake yourself into a stupor, sleep it off. Tomorrow’s also a night.”

It was tempting. It really, really was.

“What if they do something to you,” Helen whispered back, avoiding looking Rabbit in the eye. “What if you can’t even…”

“Drop it,” Rabbit snapped, the soft impression gone in an instant. “You don’t need to stand guard over me. I’m a grown person who knows what they’re doing.”

Helen opened her mouth to speak back, to remind them that what they were doing was just excessive, that it flew in the face of every rule of consent, that it was bound to end terribly, that they would end up getting…

She shook her head and just looked at her, vaguely helpless.

“Okay,” Rabbit added after a moment, staring at her with mounting concern. “Do you? Do you actually want to go?”

“I have to,” Helen said, forcing some steadiness into herself. God, she was an adult woman, she should not be acting like a quavering schoolgirl.

“Okay, if we’re going,” Rabbit declared forcefully; they reached out to her, half reassuring, half impatient. “Please promise me you’re not going to make a scene out of it? Because if you are, just stay here, it’ll be healthier for both of us.”

“I won’t,” Helen said in what she hoped was a solemn tone. “I promise won’t ruin your fun.”

“Good,” Rabbit smiled. “So now I’m just going to order you something to smoke to get you off the edge, and we’re off. You’re fine with that?”

She swallowed, turned the keycard one more time in her hands, and nodded.


The distant thumping of music beckoned, carried through the steel walls like the beating of a giant heart. They followed rows of guiding lights, descending the now-empty corridor. Everyone seemed to have vanished into the bowels of the facility; the scant few people they passed were all hurrying to places unknown. The other visitors had to be there too; at times, they heard their voices or laughed, but saw no one.

It was only as the music around them grew more intense and the electronic tones came distinct from the measured beat that they came across others. The lights dimmed, warmed whites and yellows giving way to artificial neon-blues and purples. They passed by a stately looking man quickly whispering into his phone about how he would not be able to answer any calls in the days to come, by an elderly couple in luxury evening wear holding themselves close some distance from the main event; no one seemed to pay them much attention.

And, they arrived at a door.

It was a simple, thick slab of steel, with a key-card reader next to it, right under a row of information plaques urging the visitors to keep Galatea security regulations in mind, reminding them who to consult in case of a particular need and informing that past this past this point, “Galatea safeword regulations” would go into effect. The music coming from behind it was clear and loud enough to go past ears and nest in the gut. Helen looked at Rabbit, hoping against hope, and against herself, that they would turn back suddenly, that they would call someone to change the arrangements, so that…

“Okay,” Rabbit said with a deep breath; they touched the card to the scanner and waited for all the lights to turn green. “At some point during the night, I’m going to get abducted. Don’t freak out, please.”

“You…” Helen gasped, and the layers of anxiety clouding her mind briefly parted at the touch of a sharp, sudden burst of anger. “You’re dropping that on me now?

“You promised,” Rabbit reminded her quietly. “I’m gonna be fine.”

They opened the door.

The music hit her first, a thrumming wave flooding the mind with enough impact to break through thoughts and drown out worries. Struck mute, she followed Rabbit into a gallery overlooking a roiling sea of neon light. It was a teeming, swirling mess of color, not bright, but saturated as to drench and sink into every surface. Shades and hues danced in the flicker and strobe, the light pulsating like a heart. There was a smell of liquor in the air, of steel, of sex, of things better…

“Come on!” Rabbit shouted, their voice cutting over the sonic assault. They grabbed Helen by the hand and dragged her forward. In the purple and blue glow, they shone jewel-bright, skin shimmering, face afire; compared to them, Helen had to look little better than a shade, a spill of ink.

They descended into the frenzy below, Helen’s eyes slowly adjusting to the light, first thoughts managing to punch through the sound-veil. It wasn’t that the music deafened, even though it resonated straight in the bones; but there was something to it that went beyond the beat and the melody, a spectral thread. Not quite a voice—more like a howl or maybe a modulated moan, too distorted to possibly come from a human throat, but captivating nonetheless. It laced the music, or rather haunted it, weaving and wafting above and below the rhythm. And no matter what the place around her was, Helen could feel it get its hooks into her muscles, settle into the recesses of her mind, grab her by the throat. It wasn’t that she loved it. It wasn’t the kind of music that would make her scream in joy. But it seized her and would not release her, and she could only try to let it in.

She walked over translucent panels set into the floor; below, a tangle of wires ran the span of the hall, braided tight. They too throbbed with light, red diode waves sweeping through them to the beat, bloodlike. Helen had seen this before, but in the moment, there was no room for coherent thought and memory in her. People mingled below, visible as pools of shadow, silhouettes drawn with light. Only as Rabbit led her below did individual shapes peel from the teeming mass.

They were the elite she had seen before, but they were not the same. Even those among them who stuck to their tailored suits and high fashion dresses now seemed not-quite-human. Bathed in the flickering light, they stood out demonic and predatory, the imperfections of flesh, the small ugliness of overused human form flensed from the shape of the body by flickering dark. If they spoke, their voices carried a crackle in the melody, a hitch and a hiss.

Others shed that skin and chose differently. Helen’s eyes trailed after an older woman in what seemed to be a uniform of kinds, the buttons and insignia catching light like fire, burning from her shoulder and chest. Some chose nothing at all. There was a tower of sculpted muscle in the shape of a man, a silver thread of a leash running from his groin to the hand of an imperious woman.

And then, mingling between them, light playing striking games of iridescence on their polished shells, there were the drones. They made Helen exhale, her heart skip a beat. She had seen them before; she knew their look, their form, their grace. And yet, a material thing emerging so close as to be touched, and allowed to be touched…

Some served. With their arms fastened to their sides and trays bolted to their torsos, they shuffled between the clients precariously balanced on their absurd heels, delivering drinks and refreshments. But they were just as much for use as for their service. Helen watched, bitter taste pooling in the back of her mouth, a man came across one of them and swiped a glass from the tray. He was the bearded tech executive she had seen before, now stripped to the waist to showcase his chest, this beautiful marvel sculpted by a retinue of personal trainers and dieticians.

He did not let the drone go. Sipping his fluorescent drink, he reached down the drone’s back, large hand closing and grasping. A circle came alight on the drone’s blank face, an oscilloscope of sorts; mesmerized or maybe disgusted, Helen watched it twist and contract with the man’s touch, mapping the motion of his hand. He watched, idly pleased.

When Rabbit also stopped to stare, he noticed and toasted them, not releasing his catch. Helen felt like porcelain, like glass.

There were other services the drones were made to perform; Rabbit pulled Helen’s arm and pointed her towards something crawling alongside the edge of the floor. They moved their mouth, but their words vanished in the sonic boom. Yet, it was enough for Helen to notice a low table slowly make its way back and forth across the ground. It was a body forced on its all fours, arms and legs folded together into an impression of stubby legs, backed pulled tense and straight, transformed into a level top. Some were stopped in their wanderings; surrounded by cushions, they were a rest for drinks, for feet, for those staring at the true stars of the show. Helen followed the eyes of those people.

“Holy shit,” she whispered to herself, the images hammering at her one after one.

There were drones that served, and then there were those that performed. At the center of the floor, there was a podium, and on the podium, raised to be visible to all, there was a glass dome, and inside of it, there was a body clad in iridescent black. Strapped loosely to a frame, its legs wide apart, it strode atop a piston, the tip of its long arm disappearing between the drone’s legs.

The music hammering through her veins, Helen watched as in time with the blink-red heartbeat of the hall, the dildo extended inside the drone’s body, moving up the surface of its stomach as a shining red display, to a depth Helen sorely wished was exaggerated. With each pump of the piston, the drone jerked puppet-like in its bonds, and a counter boldly broadcast across its blank face went up a number, just as its entire throat lit up in the colors of music. And then it hit Helen what the moan in the melody was, where the wail originated.

The song thrummed in her muscle and bone, played on the instrument of a dehumanized, fucked body, and what a splendorous song it was! If only she did not feel like breaking, like shattering.

There was an audience to the spectacle, eagerly watching the concert, and there were also those who found it a beat to dance to, moving to the heartbeat of Galatea, hammered out of a quavering drone body.

To the sides, there were other amusements and spectacles, more direct and intimate. Glass cases lined the walls, drones trapped or a few. Some were let free to struggle against their glass cages, more still restrained and attached to devices of torture or pleasure, if the distinction even mattered for Galatea. And next to each of those displays, there was a control panel, freely available for anyone interested to come over and play with the bodies inside. Frozen in place, feeling Rabbit tug at her and try to get her to move, Helen stared at a stately gentlewoman sitting in front of this exotic, monstrous dance, a hand on her groin, the other setting the spreadeagled drone inside into blue-lit electric spasms.

“Holy shit,” Helen repeated, feeling as if her legs could no longer support her.

She knew this place.

Before, she had only seen glances of it, scattered snapshots, pieces, not such sweeping vistas, but she had seen enough to to recognize the heartbeat in the floor, the display of conditioned bodies, the tools and the trade. She had watched Rowan writhe on this very floor. It wasn’t a surprise to realize that Aphrodite had brought her to the same facility where her friend was used in; she had always expected it to happen. But to know was one thing, and to have the cold certainty sink down into her awareness was another.

Something inside of her started to give in.

Thoughts battered down the wall of music, and dragged her down with them. What if she was looking at Rowan right now, what if one of those drones was her, what if the music gripping her was woven out of her wails and screams, what if Rowan could see her right now…

Cold sweat broke on her skin. What if Rowan looked at her, right now, from the position of humiliation and enslavement, what if the drone with the drinks right in front of her was Rowan, staring, forbidden from speaking, from acting, what if this was all…

She looked at Rabbit, saying something into her ear, the words dissolving into scattered glossolalia before they could reach her brain, and remembered that she had made a promise. However afraid she was, however much—no, she couldn’t. She squeezed her fingers until she felt the nails into the skin, she breathed in and out, and forced herself, with all the strength that she could muster, to not snap. Barely, she held.

“Yeah?” she spoke back to Rabbit, her words lost in the noise. Rabbit made a gesture, as if a drink, then another at her ear, and indicated a side-door leading away from the floor. Helen just followed, to be anywhere other than in this neon sea.

They entered a side corridor, still pulsating with music; on the wall, there were directions, to “amphitheaters”, to the second dance floor, to the bar, to the booths. Rabbit pointed at the last, and led the shell-shocked Helen down into a padded darkroom.

As soon as the door closed behind them, the quiet click of the locking mechanism promising unperturbed privacy, the sound cut off. Helen could still feel it, if she touched the floor or the walls, but it was only a vibration, and an echo in her ears. She breathed out freely, watching Rabbit drop onto a sofa. After a moment, she followed them, carefully sitting down, sinking into the soft upholstery.

The room was made both for privacy and for sex. Behind a screen, Helen glimpsed a bed, a bench, a locker doubtlessly filled with everything kinksters could ever need. Nervously, she looked back to Rabbit—she really hoped that they did not have any ideas right now. She really… really needed a moment just to put her thoughts back into something resembling coherence.

She just hoped that they wouldn’t notice that she was shivering.

“I’m getting a drink,” Rabbit declared, leaning into what turned to be a concealed, built-in screen in the table, “and a...” they squinted, “a back massage. You want anything?”

“J-just water,” Helen stammered.

“Sure,” Rabbit punched in the order and leaned back. “God, just—holy shit. I’m going back to watch in a moment.”

Helen didn’t say anything; her lips felt dry, tongue stiff and frozen in place. Whatever was this place? Images of bodies played like toys, like tiny gizmos, like flesh that could be puppeted for—

“Did you notice how those drones to the side,” Rabbit murmured dreamily, “had those… brain scans display on their faces? Like you could tell when they were getting close to the peak and then… I just,” she paused, “I just can’t imagine how this must feel, God!”

There was no hint of terror in their voice, no sign of disgust or fear. Helen knew it wasn’t coming and yet—how did she feel now? Alone? Alienated? How could they all see it just as—how could she not? Her head felt heavy; music, though quieted, still threatened to split it open; the wail the fucking machine drew from the body whose face was a number trailed behind her, spectral, ghastly.

The door opened and immediately closed, letting in a drone, a strange-looking, a classic negroni in one of its hands, a crystal water bottle in the other. Without a sound other than the clicking of its heels, it put the refreshments down in front of them, and then moved behind Rabbit, fingers touching their back.

“A bit higher,” they purred, the drone matching the order immediately. Helen stared. “Wow,” they added after a moment, “it’s really good.”

The drone continued, oblivious or uninterested in the comment, its hands and fingers working the nape of Rabbit’s head.

“You should get some of that,” they suggested at Helen. “It’s… you could learn so—”

They noticed something, and shut up mid-sentence. Helen tried to smile in gratitude; she drank some of the water, the cool slowly rolling down a throat so tight it might as well have been tied shut. There were feelings inside of her, emotions and sensations twisting and winding on each other, a crawling insectile mass chewing out its nest in the private places of her body, dark thoughts hazing about her, impressions of what this place really was. Old, familiar, well-understood concepts ready to be deployed, to make sense of this neon-soaked horror and condemn it, as she should have done long ago.

But she hadn’t come here for that. It was the feeblest comfort, knowing that she hadn’t come here to be terrified or appalled, but to try to understand. And that meant suppressing it all, stuffing it deep, deep inside, holding it together with all of her strength, so that she would have a mind open enough to learn, and decency enough not to violate the promise that Rabbit had extracted from her.

Plus, she had her own experience to look forward to. She had to be ready.

She had to…

“So the shows going on right now…” Rabbit said dreamily, looking at the screen. “There is some dude getting pegged in the first amphitheater, and it’s apparently public viewing, ew. Then… drones dance? Apparently they are somehow joining them beyond making them dance together, that sounds deliciously weird…”

Helen just nodded along, her imagination serving her a picture of a conjoined twin in latex dress forced to dance by some cruel overseer. It couldn’t be that, could it? Her thoughts swirled, throbbing with the echoes of that fucked up song, of the sights.

“...some more drug ‘em and see them struggling to come, I guess,” they continued, “and an open corporeal punishment booth if you want to get your ass spanked, or beat black and blue. You interested in any of that?”

Once again, Helen said nothing, drinking the water slowly and trying not to break down.

“Okay,” Rabbit sighed after a moment, turning to face her. In the dim light of the booth, their face glittered and shone like a beautifully painted mask. “Helen. Do you want to leave?”

“N-No,” she forced out. “I promised. Just—”

“Okay,” Rabbit repeated. “I can see you’re barely on your feet just from that show in the main hall.”

“Yeah,” she admitted, dropping her head a bit. “I just need a moment to adjust.”

Rabbit inhaled, then smiled, not unkindly.

“Good,” they said. “I guess—I’ll just go, catch some entertainment, and get back to you later. Stay here if you want, this place is private, quiet, you can just rest and unwind. Get a drink, a tea, whatever.”

“Right,” Helen agreed, feeling the tiniest bit of tension release. This room wasn’t that bad: quiet, remote. She could calm down here. Muster courage.

“Cool. And, Helen?” they stood up, brushing the drone’s hands away, to come over to her and quickly put a hand on her shoulder, the warmth in their fingers seeping through the fabric of Helen’s shirt. “I appreciate you trying. Justs don’t—don’t hurt yourself. Drone,” they turned back to the shell that massaged her, “get this woman a pot of your best tea.”

It did not acknowledge the order, but immediately it vanished out of the room to fetch the tea.

Rabbit held her for a moment longer. It was nice having a steady hand to remind her that there were people caring for her, even now, but it felt so very bizarre that this person was Rabbit. When was the last time they had supported her like that? Just how miserable did she come across now?

“Later,” they finally said, peeled back and disappeared to chase some perverted high.

Silence shrouded Helen. She reclined further, then just kicked her boots off and laid down on the couch, head rested on folded hands. Thoughts and echoes hammered at the inside of her head; her body felt as if it had gone through a long run; she felt sweaty and sticky. Everything about this place scared her.

This was not how sex should be. This was not how joy should be. This was not how bodies should be. This sort of mechanized exploitation, of flesh slaved to high technology, this idea that you can make a thing out of a human: it terrified her. But that fear, that fear was nothing compared to what the real worry was. To think that others could see it as beautiful, to think that there could be joy here, and that even her body could feel the music torn out of a tortured throat as something touching, magnificent—that chilled her.

This was not how things were supposed to be. This was something she was meant to fight, not struggle to understand. But she owed that much to people so close to her. She thought back to the feeling of betrayal she’d had when Rowan vanished into the maw of Galatea; Helen would not betray back. She would not abandon her.

And this is where her attempt had brought her. To a backroom in a palace of horrors, left behind a shivering wreck in the first hour, Rabbit, of all people, showing her pity. And this was just the beginning.

The drone snuck back into the room, leaving a tray with a pot of fragrant tea on the table, then vanished. Even being served like that rubbed Helen wrong; she didn’t want to be treated like some kind of an elite, someone to be obediently and wordlessly attended to by servants whose primary ability was to remain unseen.

It would be so easy just to curse this place, and everything it represented. She was so tired of this loop, of coming across some sort of a realization only to snap back to visceral disgust and worry at the sight of the next part of the Galatea show. Why couldn’t it just end? Why couldn’t she just get it? What was wrong with her?

She had committed so much of her life to an attempt, an honest, sincere attempt at making the world a better place for people who were different, for those who couldn’t fit in the existing hierarchies and systems, for those who brought in sneers and insults, for the wretched of earth, whoever they might be. And this attempt had to, always, start with herself, with personal empathy as the root for political change. And yet, here she was, choking on a shouted “what the fuck is wrong with you?”

She was supposed to be better than that. She had put in so much effort. She couldn’t stop now, she couldn’t chicken out just because the place worried her.

Somewhere, in all those thoughts, she dozed off into a shallow, uneasy nap. When she woke after what could have been an hour, or just as easily fifteen minutes, Rabbit was nowhere to be seen. Helen sipped the cold tea, rubbed her temples and thought.

There was a dull feeling all over her, this kind of an afterthought of exhaustion. She pushed away at the part of her that yearned to lay back down and sleep again, and tried to figure out where to go. She probably should try to find Rabbit; hopefully the place wasn’t big enough for that to prove impossible. At least she no longer felt as if a bomb had gone off in her head. The initial shock of the night gave way to a mood of slimy bleakness, bitter taste in the mouth, stale sweat sticking to skin.

Find Rabbit, or maybe find Rowan. God, how would she even? Ask drones if they were her friend, by chance, by accident? She chuckled a desperate, sad laugh. She really should go find Rabbit, before they got “abducted”, whatever that was going to mean. Hopefully not getting driven off in a van into a distance.

Without a shred of enthusiasm, she dragged herself off the couch and stepped out into the corridor, dearly hoping not to run into some lovelorn kinky couple sloppily making out on the floor. Thankfully, with everyone apparently being offered their private booth, there was no one in the corridor, save for a drone rushing with a fresh set of drinks towards the hammering heart of music. Helen didn’t want to go back to the main floor, not yet; she’d rather check everywhere else before.

So she went, from an open door to an open door.

A glimpse of a man in a sling, swinging on and off an absurdly sized dildo mounted on the body of a drone. A glimpse of a drone frantically trying to claw through the belt across its groin, thick pipes pumping its body full of something bright red, observers cheering and chanting it on. A glimpse of people grabbing a snack away from all the craziness. A glimpse of a drone instructing a young woman in the use of a riding crop, the man twice her age strapped to gurney below, a significant audience calling him a name that Helen recognized from the TV.

Each and every sight just a few seconds, and then another door. Each and every sight alien, something spoken in a language she couldn’t understand, its very sound twisting her mind into a disdainful knot. And nowhere a sign of Rabbit.

She peeled from another door, finally decided to check on the main floor, where Rabbit probably twerked to the wail of an abused drone—no, she should not think about it that way, she shouldn’t frame it like that, it was the kind of—

A trio of drones marched past her, two of them holding a large rubber sack between them, strapped close with a thick buckle. There was something inside, squirming madly, wriggling and held secure. The drones paid Helen no mind, walking on deeper into the facility, and she, heart racing, followed after, the hunch that drove her plainly obvious.

They did not notice, or more likely did not care when she followed them down the winding corridor, away from the music, away into the light. They navigated a maze of empty passages and the longer Helen followed them, the more she thought she wouldn’t be able to find her way back.

But she—

They did not stop walking, and did not stop struggling with their cargo, until finally the sound of the main floor had all but faded into the faintest hum, until the lights above were dim fluorescent white casting feeble light over bare steel walls reminiscent of a prison, not a resort.

Even though lone strands of faraway sound could still reach here, the air was different; gone was the heady scent of a partying excess, replaced by the sterile, antiseptic stench of detergents. There were doors running alongside walls, bare but for the red labels printed across them.




Cameras did not hide their presence in their nests in the nooks of the ceiling, their careful eyes trailing the drones; and Helen. She felt their gaze on her skin; how did Rowan even manage to weather it?

Sometimes, a door would be left open, offering a glimpse of the insides; but those were no longer the amphitheaters and performances. She saw halls filled with the static blue light of surveillance screens, the life of the distant party rendered in spectral blues and ghostly whites. She saw a man held down, a golden injection going into his side, eyes rolling into the skull. She saw…

She saw torture chambers, slick, high-tech, deceptively clean, reminding her of the testing chambers Galatea dragged Rowan through.

It was into one of those rooms that the drones brought their package. A padded, elevated bench dominated it, straps and buckles dangling from its sides. Blinking, whistling electronics circled around; Helen recognized the machinery.

She stood in the doorway, heart fluttering like a maddened bird; her fingers squeezed against the metal frame; the drones still paid her no attention at all.

The sack went onto the bench; someone started to loosen the locks. Another drone climbed towards the roof, digging in the machinery above. And then, there was Rabbit, dragged from the rubber bag and pushed into the padded surface by drone hands. Helen whimpered at the state they were in.

Layers of silver duct tape bound their legs together at ankles and knees; more stuck their arms to each other, fingers wrapped in enough of it to look like gloves; and then, there their face, beautiful makeup rendered into a smudged mess under strips of tape holding their mouth shut and eyes closed. They squealed and mumbled as the drones pulled the sack off them; when their legs were free, they tried to kick, legs striking one of the drones and forcing it two steps back.

A sharp, slapping sound went through the room, another drone’s hand impacting Rabbit’s cheek with enough force to throw their head slightly to the side. If Helen hadn’t been holding onto the frame with all her strength, she’d just rush in, throw those bastard off and—

“Know your place, whore,” the drone crackled in a metallically malevolent voice.

The one standing above finally finished its work, bringing down a bizarre machine, a tangle of metal braids dangling from it, each tipped with a bulbous, profiled end.

And then, the same drone that hit her partner turned to face Helen with its faceless, inhuman head.

“If you want to watch,” it said with the same static hiss. “Come inside.”

The last thing Helen saw before the doors closed was a red eye come alight with a whirring whine inside the dangling mass, thick, viscous liquid beginning to drip from its metallic tendrils.

She stood in front of the shut door for a while, trying to catch any sort of a sound from the inside, a scream or a moan of pleasure. In the perfect quiet, she could hear the distant music, the thrum of engines running right behind the metal walls, the electronic whistle of Galatea’s nervous system. But no voice. No sound from the inside. She looked at the door, wondering if it would open to her. Maybe. Maybe she could enter, and watch.

Instead, she sat down on the floor of the corridor, back pressed against the cool metal wall, breathing in the cold air of an intelligence blacksite built up for the purposes of bored, wealthy perverts.

She saw her partner brutally bound, struck, struggling and failing to be free and she knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that Rabbit wanted it. She recalled how a year ago, when explaining their kinks, Rabbit mentioned that when bound, they liked to struggle against the ropes or cuffs. This kicking, this desperate fight, it was just that.

That, or Helen was just drinking the abusive kool-aid and—

No. She made a promise. She wouldn’t interrupt. Even if, right now, she felt sick to her stomach, lost and more alone than she had been in years. So she sat, waiting for something to happen, head rested on curled up knees.

“Miss Hu?”

She didn’t hear the two drones approach until they were towering just above her. Two sleek, bleak shells, two inhuman bodies. One of them held a collar and a lead in its hands.

“Miss Hu,” the drone in front repeated. “Are you ready?”

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