Morgan gathered Danielle’s shift team for Electrical together - all two of them - on the Monday morning and clapped his hands cheerfully. “Right,” he said. “Obviously you’ve seen already that we’re getting some great results from the Food Shop team, and I’m hopeful we’ll see something similar from Clothing now I’ve worked with them. That’s good for the store, but now I’m talking with you, I think you’re going to be asking other questions. Questions like ‘what makes this good for me?’ And that goes double with that tiny raise we brought in, because I know at least one staff member suggested they thought that might be all we were going to do for you.
“Suggested it in rather rude terms, actually,” he said, his lips thin, a little pink showing on his cheeks. That had clearly stung; Danielle wondered who might have said anything, then realised she already knew.
And that was probably why Jonesy wasn’t around anymore. She felt a sense of loss for his camaraderie, and wanted to feel annoyed that Morgan had fired him - but it was hard to blame him for it when she’d thought, so many times, that he would be fired at any time.
Besides, she had enough to be angry at him about anyway. Between the way Theresa had completely abandoned her old attitude - and seemed to barely register her husband any more, though she still doted on her kids - and her own expectation she’d be forced to choke down being called Danni if she wanted to keep her job, she was simmering anyway.
She just hoped it wasn’t obvious enough that he might spot it and decide he didn’t need her bullshit. The idea that she might make it through this change of ownership just because Company Woman Terri (the capitals had formed in Danielle’s head over the past week, out of a growing sense of frustration with her friend’s new attitude. She couldn’t wait for that to wear off.) had put in a good word for her was infuriating in and of itself.
“So, what makes us taking over good for you? Why should you be happy that MaxiMart belongs to Mandatum?” He paused theatrically for effect. “For one thing, you’re going to see your money go a lot further. We start that with a bigger employee discount on a wider range of products, but we’re looking for other ways to help. If this store - not MaxiMart as a whole, this store - hits our sales targets over the year we’ll invest in this town. More businesses. A sponsorship for the local sports teams. Your children, if you have them, will go to schools where teachers can get classroom supplies subsidised by Mandatum. We’ll even encourage expansion for the local hospitals, dentists, everything your health insurance pays into.
“And those other Mandatum businesses will also give you employee discounts.”
My God, Danielle thought, they’re trying to recreate company towns. I wonder if he’ll mention pouring money into the mayoral and police elections or hope we don’t notice.
Morgan smiled. “Aside from that, though, we are giving you more paid sick leave, and the first day of any given one doesn’t need a doctor’s note. That’s good for you, but it’s good for us, too - we don’t want you to infect the rest of the team if you have to come in.” He did something quick and demonstrative with his hands, spreading them wide, a momentary magician’s ta-daaa! Look at the rabbit. We want you to want the rabbit. And pay no attention to what our other hand is doing…
“Anyway. That’s all to come.” He flashed a smile that Danielle didn’t even want to think about the cost of. “For today, we’re going to focus on our evaluations. I usually do group seminars, but with there being two of you, I’m going to handle these one on one. So we’ll work together for a while, you’ll show me how it’s done, and then we’ll discuss how it can be done in future.”
Danielle couldn’t have felt more patronised if she’d tried, but she’d worked in retail far too long for the expression on her face not to stay a smile. A visibly fake one, but a smile all the same.
“If we have any problem customers while I’m with you, just let me take care of them,” he continued, and looked across to Danielle. “Right?”
She managed to give him a nod, but she felt her stomach curl as she did it. Now he was trying to cash in on having helped her.
It would be less of a problem if he hadn’t got something of a point. Honestly that had been the smoothest Karen disposal she’d ever seen, and she’d still got less than no idea how he did it. The woman hadn’t just been disarmed, she’d gone away having spent much more and seemed absolutely delighted with the outcome.
“Right, then,” Morgan said with a grin. He clapped his hands again - it felt a little like a nervous tic, but she wasn’t sure it wasn’t just a sign of decisive activity he’d read about in some guidebook and adopted to make him seem like a stronger leader. He stood up from his awkward perch on a table. “Let’s do this.” And he looked to Danielle again. “On Terri’s recommendation, I’ll start with you. So Marcus, if you could get on with your day for now? We’ll sit down after this.”
Marcus exited the scene as fast as possible. It felt like a betrayal, but Danielle had to admit that if she’d been given the chance she’d have fled exactly as quick.
She met his smile with her own, again, but she knew hers was false and she was worried that his might not be. If he was taking all this seriously, what did that say about him? “So how do we do this?”
“Well, as I said - you’re going to call the shots this morning. When there aren’t customers around, maybe I’ll ask you why you’ve done things the way you have. Or if it all makes sense, maybe not. And then after lunch we’ll get started on the shape of Electrical here from that point on.” He reached into his jacket and pulled out an envelope, glanced at it, and extended it to her. “But first, just the one change.”
That same brilliant smile, and as Danielle took the envelope she felt something firm inside, firm and plastic and perhaps four or five millimetres thick.
She bit her lip. She didn’t want to get into this, but she had her pride. Still… to confirm her worries first. She slit the envelope open, tipped it, and a shiny new badge slid into her waiting hand. The slogan stared up at her.
Welcome to MaxiMart
is here to make you happy!
“This isn’t my name,” she said. Morgan just raised his eyes politely in response, a question without a question. There was no expression in his eyes; no concern, no interest. Which made it all feel somehow all the more inevitable.
She tried again. “My name is Danielle. Always has been. And I know some people shorten it, but I don’t like to.”
His eyes didn’t change, but he reached back inside his jacket and took out a notepad, then that expensive fountain pen of his again. He uncapped it, replaced the cap on the other end, and then clicked the button on the tip in that tic of his. And then he wrote. Was he actually making a note? “Can I ask why not?” he said gently.
“Because…” She faltered for a moment. It had always been a personal thing; would it make sense spoken aloud? “Because everyone who hears Danni thinks she’s probably a dumb slut,” she said. “It’s right on the edge of all those bimbo names where people stop treating you as a person. They just think of you as a set of tits.” She left silently implied that her breasts sat somewhat bigger than the average on her frame.
Morgan nodded quietly. “Alright,” he said. “I can see that. Would you mind if I offer a rebuttal?”
“Can I stop you?”
She regretted the words the moment they left her lips. Her frustrations had been up just enough for her inner monologue to get out at exactly the wrong time.
Morgan clicked his pen lid again. Danielle heard that odd, frustrating high-pitched noise from somewhere again and winced slightly. She really hoped this wasn’t just a fault the PA system was developing. “I think you’re working from an out of date assumption. It’s like - OK, you got emails about policy from the old MaxiMart corporate occasionally, right?”
“And they’re all ‘do not do this’ and ‘it is important’, right? No don’ts, no it’s’s?”
Danielle hadn’t thought about that, but it was definitely true. She gave a nod of acknowledgement, though it felt a little like she might be walking into some kind of trap.
“It used to be the idea that you shouldn’t be informal at work. Now it just sounds like you’re mad with everyone.” He smiled. “Right?”
“Right…” she agreed, feeling the trap close around her. She was beginning to see what his argument was going to be, but she wasn’t at all sure she agreed.
“I feel like this is the same thing.” He clicked the tip of his pen again. “Maybe Danni has stood for dumb bimbo sluts in the past. But that doesn’t mean you can’t wear the name with pride.”
There was something very, very wrong with his argument, and she was sure she should object.
She’d wonder for the next couple of hours why she said “I guess you have a point there,” and, even more so, why it felt like a relief to have said. Like her life had become lighter and more positive.
If it weren’t for that ongoing whine, she’d probably have said she felt happy for conceding.
“And besides, this is just for work. You’re in retail, I know you don’t spend your spare time thinking about how you can make the company more successful. You go home and you leave MaxiMart behind, you have no reason to be loyal to Mandatum yet.” Morgan grinned. “So under those circumstances, can you be Danni for me?”
The part of Danielle’s mind which had objected to him suggesting she should be proud of a ‘dumb bimbo slut’ name didn’t object to adopting the name ‘for’ him, or if it did, the rest of Danielle didn’t notice. “I guess… sure,” she said, and she even smiled. She unclipped her old badge and put the new one in place, and instantly felt better, one of those moments where just a wave of pleasant sensation seems to wash over you with no cause or reason you can think of.
Morgan smiled, capped his pen, and put it away, and a few moments later she noticed the whine was gone, which just felt even better. Her back straightened a little and the smile on her lips was more genuine.
“Okay, cool,” Morgan said. “Let’s make some big sales.” He waved an arm toward the door, inviting her to get to work. Motivated and eager, Danni lead the charge.
Lunchtime arrived and Danni was in the best mood she’d been in for months - since well before the takeover. She couldn’t put her finger on why, but as she’d gone through her day, she’d just found things seemed to be looking up - especially as the sales had started to come. Every time she logged a sale, she found her mood lightening, and Morgan loitering in the background seemed to change.
Before, she’d viewed Morgan as a threatening figure, not from his own physical capability but because of the power he held over her. Now he seemed more like a comrade, someone who would answer her gleeful smile with one of his own, albeit much more reserved. Which was not to say he wasn’t clearly in charge, more that it didn’t feel like an affront to her dignity to be bossed around by someone years younger than here with much less experience because he’d been born with enough money to never have to worry about becoming competent.
Each time she’d completed a sale, and sent a satisfied customer off, she’d felt more satisfied. Some sales always did - it was hard not to feel good when you saw someone come in with a kid who was crying because the TV had died and sold them something at a price they could stand which was maybe even an improvement on their old TV set. But it was rare, and it depended on her mood.
None of this seemed to - everything she did or got done seemed to make her happy, and when she realised one display needed restocking, even handling the trolley and the loading and unloading herself didn’t get in the way of her happiness.
Productivity just seemed to lead, a few moments after a task was completed, to a little shudder of happiness and satisfaction.
She accompanied Morgan to the food aisles, where he bought his everyday lunch, before the two of them went back to the canteen and took a table in the corner, away from the hubbub of other conversations. Danni was aware of a number of curious glances in their direction, some of them from worried workers, but that didn’t matter too much, certainly didn’t frustrate her, just as doing the work while he stood and watched hadn’t frustrated her.
She felt… giddy, she decided. There was no better word for it. Giddy like a schoolgirl.
“You know,” Morgan said between mouthfuls at one point, “you have the makings of a real asset to MaxiMart.” Danni preened, and only caught herself to wonder why afterwards. Somehow it felt right.
After lunch, the two of them headed back into the giant stockrooms. Morgan was leading the way now - that had been the deal, and Danni found it was easier to follow his lead than she’d expected. There was a bounce to her step as they continued into the backs, out of sight of her fellow workers.
They found a space amid the stacks of console games, and settled down in one of the corners of the store, in the lower light of the storeroom. Danni wasn’t at all clear why they were here, but she was sure Morgan would make things clear soon enough.
“So let’s talk,” he said after a moment. “Like I said before, I think you could be a real asset to MaxiMart.” He fiddled with the back of his badge. There was a click, his name lit up on the front, and Danni felt a sudden shiver down her spine. Was that just her brain trying to emphasise how important this was? Or was something else going on.
“Would you like to be?” he asked. After a moment or two, Danni nodded. Her lips parted to speak but rather than say anything she found herself waiting in case he had anything else to say. The shiver had been joined by that same happy tingle she’d felt when she closed sales.
“I’m glad. You’ve got no objections to our approach?”
Her open mouth spread into a warm, dizzy smile as she shook her head. She still felt like she should say something, but the tingles and the shivers were just too much.
If she didn’t know better, she’d say they were spreading out from her heart, pulsing away feeling happy, right under her name badge.
“That’s good.” Morgan grinned broadly. “So don’t worry, Danni. Nobody on our side thinks you’re a dumb slut.”
The sudden topic change was… unremarkable. Danni felt somehow that it should have been, but she just blinked her wide eyes and smiled her wide smile, and Morgan laughed. “Well, I mean. We know you’re a slut for sales.”
Her breath caught in a gasp, loud in the sudden silence. She was very aware of Morgan not just looking at her but studying her. How she behaved was very important to him, obviously. How should she behave, with that being the case?
Obviously she should remember her value here was as an asset to MaxiMart. She nodded again, more slowly this time, her smile narrowing but losing none of its sincerity. She was reminded of her first interview to join MaxiMart, except that this time she had a good feeling about it and was hopefully anticipating success, not fearing an embarrassing failure.
“You hadn’t thought about that before,” Morgan said, seeming even more confident than ever now, as if some hidden sign Danni couldn’t see had changed things. “But it’s true, isn’t it?”
She nodded again, a little quicker. Enthusiastic now it was clearly the right thing to do.
“Say it,” Morgan told her. She fell awkwardly silent for a moment.
“I’m a slut for sales,” she said slowly. The same pleasant tingle that had filled her whenever she completed a task all day washed over her again. And for the first time she noticed the way that tingle satisfied the deep, aching need between her legs, or perhaps that happened for the first time. It wasn’t something Danni needed to work out. She just needed to know what Morgan expected from his assets.
“That’s right,” Morgan acknowledged. “That’s the thing about a good asset. Every part of them is useful. Every part of them offers their owner the best. That’s what makes assets so good to own.”
Danni’s eyes blinked, innocent and vacant, as she absorbed these ideas. They didn’t seem quite right, somehow. She wasn’t owned, was she?
Although she was an asset…
And assets were property, that was what allowed people to count them as assets. And you couldn’t be property without being owned.
So yes, that actually made a lot of sense. She nodded, beaming happily.
“The best part is that human assets don’t lost their value as they go,” Morgan said, then shrugged. “Well, eventually they do, sure. But before that, they can make new assets. Are you gay, Danni?”
She shook her head, a light frown on a face which looked increasingly lighter and more naive as the conversation went on.
“That’s fine,” Morgan said. “The other way would be too, so long as you’re prepared to breed a new generation of Mandatum assets. Are you?”
Danni was a little confused by the question. Not by its content - that was clear - but by the fact she was being asked. So far as she could see, as his family’s property, there was no reason she shouldn’t be prepared for use however the Allen family wanted to use her. She nodded, her head bobbing a little faster than usual, wanting it to be clear there was no objection or any reason to object.
She didn’t want to say such a thing, of course. For property to point it out would be impertinent.
“Are you seeing anyone?”
Danni nodded. She hoped that wasn’t going to be a problem.
“Well, I’m sure they can do their bit,” Morgan said, but then he grinned. “Of course, I might have to indulge myself, too. I’m sure you won’t mind.”
Another nod, then, as his meaning sank in, many more nods. That had to be one of the most valuable things an asset could add to their portfolio.
She just wasn’t sure why he might even imagine she’d mind. That wasn’t a thing she got to do, was it?
Morgan nodded to himself. “Now, then… one last step before we get you started properly. You’re going to sell your little heart out for me, aren’t you, kitten?”
Danni beamed wider than before and nodded. Finally she could set aside the nagging worry that maybe, just maybe, she hadn’t been claimed as property, that after all this she might be cast aside.
“I think we still need a little more encouragement.” Morgan was grinning broadly now, and Danni felt, somehow, that this wasn’t something he was doing for Mandatum. This was all about his own petty pleasures.
Not that there was any reason for property to object to how it was used, of course. “So,” he said, “let’s talk about incentive. You enjoy your orgasms, don’t you?”
Danni giggled and nodded. She was pretty sure she liked where this was going.
“Good,” Morgan said. “Because property is only allowed to cum on days where it’s made four thousand dollars in sales.”
Her eyes stayed wide but she heard a gasp of shock, and realised moments later that it was her she’d heard. But after a moment, swallowing nervously, she nodded, and Morgan grinned again.
Morgan fiddled with his badge again, and all that was left of that strange, intense feeling was the shiver up and down her spine.
Her owner took her by the upper arm and kissed her, and Danni kissed back happily, her body squirming up against him.
She had the strange feeling he’d done something to her, changed her, but that made no sense. She was property, an asset to the Allen family, just as she always had been.
She was keen to be bred soon.
“We’re going to have to get you into the new look uniform soon,” Morgan told her. “Get those titties of yours on display where they can persuade rich housewives to spend themselves better than you and men to spend themselves so you’re impressed.”
Danni nodded again, eager once more for her work.
“And you’ll have an appointment after work,” he added, and Danni once again smiled and nodded.
Danni marched through the MaxiMart parking lot with a spring in her step, a good half hour ahead of her shift starting. Not far behind her, scurrying to keep up with her shorter legs, was Terri. She held the door open for her fellow Mandatum asset, with - as Terri used to joke - the emphasis on ass. Both of them had seen their sales performance massively improve since going over to the leggings and low-cut tees of the new uniforms, and their smiles seemed to be helping as well.
With their complementary figures they’d become particular favourites of Morgan, who referred to them sometimes as “T and D, my tame T&A.” Whenever he did, they’d look at each other and giggle as they felt themselves squirm, and they’d always hope their sales targets could be reached so that if he took them into his office after work they’d get to cum too.
At the inside lock by the staff room Danni paused, hooked a thumb into her leggings at her side, and pulled them down just far enough to show off the tattoo that had been her appointment a couple of months ago. The wall-mounted scanner read her Mandatum barcode and chimed, logging her in automatically for her twelve-hour shift. The door clicked open, but Terri hesitated long enough to scan her own code.
The two assets made their way into the staff room to await that morning’s briefing. They didn’t exchange words; there wasn’t much need for that any more. Danni knew Terri understood how happy her friend was to see Terri’s belly swell with a new baby to be raised to become a Mandatum asset, and Terri knew that if Danni’s boyfriend wasn’t around, Morgan would be more than happy to make use of her.