Beating as one of the fine arts.

I’m Elizabeth of Montpellier, the former madam of the Matriarchal Zone’s finest whorehouse (I’m prejudiced) Elizabeth’s Secret. Sally and the girls just keep the name to please me, and they make a fuss all over me on the one or two Sunday mornings (the whorehouse lull) a month that I come over to visit just to talk with my own kind, non-citizens from Great Lakes Consortium brought over to meet the sexual needs of all those men the Matriarchals dominate, but wouldn’t dream of taking to bed despite enjoying their oral sexual services regularly. A lonely old woman, exile in a foreign land, but no longer knowing anyone in her own country, must take her company as she can find it.

The girls are always fresh and new and under 30, and both their new mistress, Sally, and the old one, me, have to take them under the wing and mind their business enough so that after they turn 30 and must leave the Zone that they aren’t destitute and have a real chance of changing careers now that their young bloom had faded. My long and healthy acquaintance with two of the members of the Matriarchal Cabinet has allowed me to place them in temporary, sheltered, part-time work with the Matriarchs for the last year they can stay, to learn a skill and pick up a couple of good letters of reference before they left the country.

You will notice I said “acquaintance” a sentence or two back. I would not, even yet, call any matriarchal my friend. Our attitudes as citizens and non-citizens of the Zone diverged too widely for friendship and there were too many things “to agree to disagree” about with all of them for more than good acquaintanceship.

Sally is young for a Madam at 27, but level headed and well schooled by me. Don’t ever tell her, please, but ten years ago, when I began planning to retire, I had to pull every string I could on both sides of the GLC/Zone border to find a girl to teach to be a high class tart that had both the brains and the ethics to move up to Management. They’re not scarce as hen’s teeth, but they aren’t that common. The young whores who retain some shred of ethics are usually the ones with no brains, and the one’s with brains are simply not trustworthy unless you are watching them, or they are too frightened of getting their butt beaten off by you to do anything but behave.

I despised pimps when I was a young whore and even as a young madam, but the older I got the more I understood them. They couldn’t trust either style of girl except if they beat them hard enough and often enough to keep them cowed and cared for them well enough so as not be turned upon. A difficult balancing act at best. The one whose kneecaps I shot off 40 years ago had the attitude that the rest of the women in the world should be treated that way, too. Bad idea. Particularly with Elizabeth.

But a certain amount of beating (or, if you are a nose in the air matriarchal, and prefer, “corporal punishment”) you must do. The Matriarchal Zone police, Fem/Dom, taught me how to turn ordinary beating into one of the fine arts, as they still practice it on the street and in the prisons, but they have fallen away from doing that with the newer Madams. So I had to teach Sally, to the gossip of the girls from all the houses on Scarlet Fever Lane, once my girls told them of it. Particularly of the trips to the prisons to watch the Fem/Dom guards in action.

Their older peers and their madams had kept alive the notion that I was some special disciplinarian who might set your entire dorsal side from heels to neck aflame for whole weeks, if it suited me. As well as my being clairvoyant about when a girl in my house was trying in any way to cheat.

In my decades as a madam in the Zone, I only gave out two of those full coverage, Level One, strappings. But both of these were semi-public among those in Scarlet Fever Lane, and had some rather embarrassed citizen plain clothes cops involved. The Matriarchals, however tough of women they are, are rather prudish when they deal with we whores, and really didn’t want any of us to land in their prisons for any length of time and “corrupt” decent citizens who had “made a mistake” and were serving time.

So the cops and even a couple of high-up members of the Matriarchal Cabinet came to see me for a solution. One of the Madams was embezzling the tips of her stable with the help of one of those brighter bent whores. The powers that be wanted them out of the country rather than enforce the Zone laws and incarcerate them. And the Six Genders Compact days when they could just boot out anyone they pleased were ending. They wanted this madam and her apprentice to leave “voluntarily” and they wanted ME to give them good enough reasons. I thought I could, so I agreed.

So, it was up to me. Those Plain Business Clothes Fem/Doms (badly fitting ones of no fashion sense whatever) gathered the delinquents, their stable, and my stable as witnesses, cramming all of them into my house’s punishment room. Mine was the only room on the lane to have three separate punishment blocks (a wise investment from my first days as madam), so both miscreants could be clamped down in sight of each other while they were being beaten.

Once they were on the blocks I laid out all of the evidence against them (which was overwhelming) and took the testimony of the girls of their own house. Despite this, they both denied the charges. So I told them that I’d apply my house rules for starting a hubbub with the police, innocently or not. And I’d give them my customary strapping for it.

The visiting girls’ eyes were like saucers at the notion that anyone would strap you for such a reason. My girls were calm, as this was perfectly familiar to them, and the cops were trying to keep from openly laughing. So I started with the butt of the young Jill whore, who began screeching immediately. My girls raised their eyebrows at such a racket, and the other girls began to look a little green around the gills.

I simply kept up the customary Level 2 strapping from butt to knees and back again, judging how near I was to preventing the target from sitting down, lying on their back, or taking a hot shower. It usually takes about 5 leisurely trips up and down and you judge it by the state of the bruises. On the third trip down young Jill whore began to scream out her confession. I slowed down to one smack about every ten seconds while I interrogated her thoroughly and she gasped out responses tying her Madam directly into the crime. Her peers sat stunned and they stayed stunned. My girls were full of curiosity about what would happen next. The cops were nodding in approval of my technique.

I stopped the strapping for a moment. And then I gave the young Jill whore the bad news. She would now be strapped for stealing and strapped far longer and harder. She screamed bloody murder before I even resumed. I then went down to her ankles and started systematically strapping upward toward her neck. You stop with this when the target can no longer even walk from the excruciating pain; ten runs up and down at the very least. Her bawling had become continuous.

Then, it was over. Two of the visiting girls threw up at that moment and I motioned two of my girls to take them away, reminding them not to step in the large pool of young Jill whore’s urine dripping off the punishment block.

Then I turned to Madam Jane and locked her hating eyes with mine. She was one of those who could make hate suppress her fear enough to almost forget she was going to get a strapping, either short or long. I don’t think we need bother with foolishness, I said. The long level one strapping that keeps you from walking is what we’ll want here, immediately. I watched her eyes shift from hatred to disbelief to sheer stark terror.

She was tough. She didn’t start screaming until I was starting the second pass, then she came unhinged, talking wildly and incoherently. The finish was anticlimactic. After I strapped Madam Jane until she also could no longer walk, the cops led all the girls away except for two I held back to clean the Punishment Room. One of the cops called for EMT’s. It may sound cruel, but I left the two delinquents strapped down until the squad arrived. I knew that the less movement they gave their backs the faster they would heal.

With the squad came two of the tall women, 6 foot and more, who used to be the old security strong arms for Sec/Spy, the agency whose collapse I had a mild hand in, and which, in the Matriarchal Zone’s fledgling years, nearly cost it the privileged place it had in the Six Genders Compact. They were both salt and pepper gray in the hair by now, but still clearly worked out to keep in shape. When they saw the beatings and the fact that I’d left the patients still secured, they nodded, smiled, applied the temporary topical anesthetic, and got the victims face down onto the gurneys with a minimum of movement.

It was one of the most harrowing ordeals of my life. I sat in my office alone after, sipping the 50 year old congac that I keep in my desk drawer and crying my eyes out with no one to comfort me for the horror that I’d committed. I had, like even most Matriarchals, despised the terror and tortures of Sec/Spy when they were finally revealed, but now, even if I didn’t have blood on my hands, I, too was a torturer, just like the Zone Police who trained me. Like so many things, experience painfully burred off, in one night, another of my high toned opinions, and left me bleeding inside. The third glass of brandy allowed me to sleep.

But there were other good, long term, results, and not just that the well strapped miscreants chose to leave the country two months later, when they could finally walk straight. For six months or so, I was in charge of both houses which luckily weren’t far from one another.

My girls were angels. There were even two who broke my rules but confessed to me that they had, despite the strapping that was coming to them. And two weeks after, when they could finally sit down without thinking about it, they both together came to me privately and gave me the largest of hugs, telling me that they thought of me as a second mother, though their first mothers never had given either of them quite such a bottom tanning as I had! There were no problems at Elizabeth’s Secret otherwise.

The other girls were victims of long term demoralization, and most of them blanched a little when I laid out the new rules in a house meeting. There were two intelligent but surly ones who didn’t. Sure enough, they were the first to break the rules and get their butts strapped off.

After that happened, with all the house watching, things settled down and one of the surly ones came to me and apologized. We talked for a while. She was 28 and only had a couple of years left on her Zone visa, which wouldn’t be renewed. She was terrified of going back to GLC with invested money adequate for only about five years of frugal living. But she had no skills, other than raising an erection and orgasm on a corpse, and, unlike the feather brains, she knew her age would find her no welcome in the GLC brothels, so she’d have to hit the streets on the downward slope of jail, John abuse, aggressive pimps, and drugs to make it all bearable. Or start early and figure out how to do outcalls all by herself.

I looked at her silently for a long while and said, could you take up my strap tomorrow and punish a girl who broke the rules? She answered that the thought alone of doing it terrified her. Good, I said. No one should enter training wanting to beat the butt off of others. I’m willing to train you to be the new madam here. The Zone government owns the business at the moment, to their very great embarrassment, and they would turn it over to you if I suggested it when your training was finished and you had successfully strapped 3 or 4 errant bottoms. Do you think you could do that?

She sat quiet a long time. This was also a very good sign of no hidden power trip in her mind. She finally said weakly, I’ll try to do it, but I’ll never be as good a Madam as you. I said nothing, but I knew the surprise coming for her when I’d finished training her. Having to do this put me in mind once again of passing on my own house, the first step which would be putting my financial house in order over in GLC.

On my next trip to GLC to manage the careful investments that have made me a wealthy woman in my old age, and to write my will, I was approached by the Senior Intelligence Analyst of GLCIS, Great Lakes Consortium Intelligence Service, (you pronounce it glee/sis) second only, I’ve been told, to the Chief of Service herself, who is the first woman to ever hold the position and, like my friend Henry Peterson, was a deep cover agent in the Matriarchal Zone in the heyday of Sec/Spy. Henry would be my age now, but Lady Chief was 20 years younger and has been on a fast track to the climax of a career.

Nobody outside of GLCIS knows WHO she is, but every woman in the country knows WHAT she is. Little by little Henry’s adventures and his final tragedy are becoming public property, so perhaps someday you will read Lady Chief’s harrowing story of how she spied and survived in a country with one of the worst, though most hidden, records of Security Service physical and mental torture of the era.

The SIA introduced himself to me as what he was but not who he was. GLCIS spies simply don’t tell you even their false “workname” let alone their real one, unless they’re living that name in deep cover as Henry was in the Zone. And, to this day, no one outside of GLCIS, and not most of them inside of it, knows what Lady Chief’s workname was inside the Zone. She was that good.

He had me call him “Peter” for short and he called me Elizabeth, since, though he knew my last name, whores and Madams don’t use them socially or professionally. Peter, then, asked me if I’d like to meet “Ian” the Chief of Service of Henry’s day, who, he told me, was actually looking forward to meeting me.

I saw no reason not to, and thought I might actually learn something about that terrible and beautiful time and place I whored in and lived through. We went to what was a discreet club high up in a Chicago skyscraper, met for Sunday brunch and stayed talking until far into the evening. Mostly my talking and he listening, but with some stories from his side.

The two senior GLCIS operatives that Sec/Spy caned until they were maimed for life died not shortly after Henry. Both were suicides on release from mental health confinement. Thus Henry chose the same road before the caning could happen to him. I knew the name Micha Haaretz as Henry’s mercy killer, but little else about her. Ian was quite forthcoming about her story, even showing me the letter she had written before a GLCIS hit team killed her. Such a poverty stricken and evil life for a woman so beautiful who fell in love with Henry when apprehending him!

What I think most people don’t know is what happened to “Helen” the last chief of Sec/Spy and Ian clearly wanted it known now, for whatever reason. She, too, had fallen to assassin’s gunfire, but the assassin was from Mossad, who had sent Micha as a liaison to Sec/Spy.

Helen was hiding in another Sec/Spy safe house in fear of GLCIS, but Mossad knew where it was and staked it out to discover where she was. Helen was killed opening her door to a birthday floral delivery supposedly from the Chief Matriarch. A silenced pistol was used, wiped, then dropped by her side. Mossad’s “handwriting” was all over this. No one in Sec/Spy, except Micha, had any decent tradecraft. Mossad didn’t want them to once the caning torture “punishment” and interrogation leverage was in place.

Mossad, rather unreasonably, blamed both Helen and the Chief Matriarch for Micha’s death without having provided Sec/Spy with the intellectual tools to protect her. Ian had to actually travel to Israel to meet his opposite number in Mossad to point this out to him and try to dissuade Mossad from killing the Chief Matriarch as well, and massively disturbing international relations in the Western Hemisphere in so doing. Her death from a heart attack two years later brought all of this to a close. And by devious ways he afterward received a thank you note from the head of Mossad. It puzzled him a little. The thanks should have been flowing in the opposite direction.

Ian had also been closer to Henry than anybody realized. They had cut their spying teeth together on a first dangerous assignment to Dixieland as it was first forming in 2040. Both Henry and Ian had taken gunshots and Ian still had the scars, but they were rescued by helicopter extraction, and both lived.

Only a small handful in GLCIS knew this, and when he was presented with a quite reasonable choice of killing Micha Haaretz, Ian hauled his very puzzled ring of top executives over the coals several times before he gave permission. Ian said to me that he wanted any such action to be a matter of good tradecraft and not a private vendetta on his part.

He reminded me a lot of Henry and was genuinely pleased when I told him so. Particularly that quality in Henry that was good at anything he undertook. Ian told me Henry was the bravest man personally that he ever knew, and I shared the description given me by a Sec/Spy interrogator of the final meeting where Henry lost his final chance to escape caning and maiming. Ian apparently had not heard it and was very silent over it. I still wonder if when I left he let himself cry about it. Henry, I think, would have.

“Peter” and I had several other chats at his insistence, and I laid bare my desire to leave my brothel in good hands when I retired, because, among other, personal, reasons I still owned the house and would be charging them rent. These days, no one in the Matriarchal Zone whoring trade could have afforded to buy it from me, even with the reputation of it’s neighborhood. And the Matriarchs were not enthused about buying me out either, because a large number of their own citizens were still opposed to having brothels at all. Thus I had a vested as well as a personal interest in the continuance of Elizabeth’s Secret.

Peter said that maybe he could help me, that he knew “a certain number” of Chicago Madams who might be able to suggest a madam candidate to me. I’m sure he knew that I knew that he was asking me to place a deep cover spy. So I made it perfectly and specifically clear that what I wanted was someone who could be trained to run a whorehouse, whatever other good qualities she may have. We left it at that. He did ask if I still knew anyone here in the old trade, and I gave him about five names. I also told him which ones knew me as “Elizabeth” and which ones didn’t.

A year or so later, I received a note on GLCIS stationary, “from your good friend Peter” printed on it but unsigned, with a round trip ticket to Chicago and a week’s worth of credit at the best hotel in town. You might be scratching your head just as much as I was. An office stationary for an intelligence agency? But GLCIS even had an openly known headquarters at the corner of Randolph and Third Streets downtown! Secrecy is a matter of all your people keeping their mouth shut, not hiding where they work. With the GLCIS system of yearly rotated worknames, even the headquarters workers who had been “made” and photographed, would have nothing but the slimmest dossier under that name in the hands of any enemy service.

And there were special arrangements for the field agents, thugs, and assassins to enter the building without just going in the front door. They had a private elevator that never went to any floor of the building besides their own two floors, thugs and agents, with full facilities including lodging and food service if needed. Even the Chief of Service met with them in their offices and not her own. So all this was plenty of security for GLICIS’ real business.

The Ritz Carelton was still the Ritz Carelton and that’s all you need to say. I was met by Peter at the door and we both went to the front desk where a room key for the twelfth floor awaited me. Superstition being what it is, the Ritz never had a 13th Floor, or so I thought. But Peter led me through the strongbox room for guest valuables and out a door opposite the lobby, to a hidden elevator that had buttons inside for the ground floor, the Mezzanine, the Parking Garage and one other floor which had no marking next to the button. There were also no call buttons on the outside of the elevator, which opened at our mere approach documented by an unseen AI run CCTV camera.

I learned later that the 13th floor had it’s own waitresses, maids, and bell hops who were trainees from the first 6 months of entry into GLCIS. They were dressed exactly like the real ones and had to learn to behave like it. I handed my electric key for the 12th Floor to one of bell hops and was given the equivalent key to his own room, which was laid out and ready for me. Sitting in the lounge chair of my room was a woman I recognized from many years ago. Seeing her sent an electric shiver up my spine. 

She had never had a “girl’s face” even when young and, when I first met her, she could have been any age from 20-40. I only met her once and she was wearing a green uniform, the uniform of Sec/Spy. Now, in middle-age, she looked and dressed like a Peeress of the Realm!

“Hello, Elizabeth! I didn’t give you my name even then and I won’t now. I’m the Chief of Service of GLCIS. Nice to see you once again.”

So I said that since she didn’t offer me a call name, like poor “Peter” and “Ian”, I’d just address her as Lady Chief. She broke up at this, with the deep contralto laughter that was only a whisper in her speaking voice.

So I continued, “I told Ian the story of Henry Peterson that you told me then. He let me think he’d never heard it before, but certainly he had, and from you. Of course, that you were working for Sec/Spy meant that you didn’t need an overt workname in the Zone while you were spying there for GLCIS. The Sec/Spy uniform took care of all of it. And that’s why nobody has ever found it out while you’ve climbed the ladder to the top.”

“Elizabeth, I underestimated you then and I’ve underestimated you now. Where were you when we needed to recruit you? You’d have made a wonderful secret agent!” She laughed again.

“That question is truly serious, if you’re willing to answer it. We’ve found no trace of you back further than a Cicero brothel/bungalow in the early 2040’s. You’re better educated than most women in your trade and I’m curious to know more. Don’t worry, I don’t need to know if you don’t want to say more.”

I replied, “It probably won’t hurt now, the records are unlikely to have survived the Shitstorm of 2037. I sometimes tell people that I once shot a pimp in the knees. That’s not quite true. I shot him through the heart. It was back in Council Bluffs when I first had to take to the streets.

“Daddy always carried a pearl handled .32 gun when he went to town to spend or change money. It was one of the very few mementos I had left of him by that time, and it cut me to the heart to toss it into the Mississippi River. But it had left behind a bullet and a cartridge and I had sense enough to see that it had to go, and that I had to go somewhere else, like Chicago.

“As for the rest of it, all of us were night people, and who among us could place any other of us anywhere at anytime in the Iowa night?

“Before the Shitstorm? I don’t look back there much, but I have degrees from Loyola University. Two of them. I was working on the third when the walls came tumbling down.”

Lady Chief said, “Professionally it doesn’t matter, we have the most exerable killers and thugs on the payroll for when we need them. And we pay them generously. Most of them already had rap sheets in their teens when we scooped them up and put them in segregated training. We GPS chip them, retina scan them, and monitor their movements every time they return. There are certain areas of the city where these thugs are forbidden to go. They’re also forbidden to seek lodging of any kind and must return here by a curfew.

“They have worknames so they are less easily made, but they don’t have access to their legends, and we have their real names and any arrest warrants against them. The issuing agencies are informed of their espionage detail and file the warrants. If they go where they aren’t supposed to or don’t return when they are supposed to, they are disciplined. If they monkey with their GPS and return, we turn them in on the warrants, or discipline them if they happen to have none. If they don’t return, we send a Truth Team out to find and kill them. They know all the rules and the consequences.

“I actually have to do the disciplining personally, like a damn gang boss! They wouldn’t pay attention to anybody but the Chief. My Sec/Spy training comes in handy. The Matriarchals would recognize the locked up X room on their floor of the building. So would you. It’s the one with the punishment blocks. About once every three months one of our desperadoes (usually a newbie) gets out of line and I personally have to drag out my old Glasgow tawse and take a couple of our security gorillas to unlock the door, strip the thug, and lock him down on the punishment block. The four or so Level One strappings I give out a year are just part of the job. It’s only a couple more than I had to do for Sec/Spy Interrogation.

“Ian tells me that this works a lot better than on his watch. He had to send security to rough the delinquent up before taking them to one of the basement cells and 3 months solitary to get the same subordination. A woman, strapping them so hard that they can’t walk for weeks is embarrassing and terrifying enough to keep everybody piped down for a good long while. I’ve been Chief long enough that my rep with them is well cemented.” Lady Chief smiled, “And just like naughty little boys, if you whip one of their behinds occasionally the rest more or less keep in line.”

“Lady Chief,” I said “since you had to play a matriarchal in the old days, it’s ironic that you still have to do it here.” She gave another deep contralto laugh.

“Elizabeth you are amazing! I never thought of it that way, but it’s true!”

“Why do you call your dirty workers Truth Teams?” I asked.

“It’s short for Moment Of Truth. That’s what they bring to anybody they are hunting.”

I had no response to that.

“Unlike Mossad, we kill only at extreme need, and none of our agents are “licensed to kill” like James Bond. We currently employ three assassins. We trained them extensively, but we only do so if the trainee already has a body on their conscience who we can confirm as dead, but no other criminal history. This is rare enough that when we find someone who fits this profile, we hire them immediately and train them as another assassin.

“The great majority of their time is spent in our Records Area, doing simple enough work that can be re-assigned if they are absent for weeks or months. A team usually consists of one killer in charge of two thugs, or two killers and three thugs. There are exceptions, but, usually, only the killer carries firearms. They tell me in Records that the killers are by far the mildest mannered of their employees, until you look in their empty eyes.

“I was something of a hybrid. I came to the Zone from here in my teens with my mother. It separated me from a handsome devil of a boyfriend who had actually fallen in love with me for real. I hated my mother for it. We wrote secret letters for the 2 years of my Dominant Woman training and the day I became a citizen with a whipping licence, I went back home, overpowered my Mother, gave her a Level 2 strapping, took the money I’d saved, and headed back to Chicago, stowing away on a returning delivery truck.

“GLCIS had already scooped up My Baby Boy, and their chops slavered over me. I got my first workname and legend and have never looked back. My real name, in which I couldn’t live without Consortium documents simply vanished. And it’s the one secret I’ve insisted on keeping from then to now.

“My Baby Boy and I had the classic two spy espionage romance, to the amusement of the rest of our agent class. But he graduated first and was sent in deep cover to Mormonia, and disappeared…” 

She halted and choked a little. For a couple of minutes I became the only Whore and Madam in the world who has ever held and comforted the chief of a spy agency!

After her short cry (which embarrassed her terribly, though she tried to hide it), she regained her composure, “We heard much later that he had been caught and hanged.”

“So how did you get back to the Zone?” I asked.

“GLCIS kept me in the bureaucracy as an interrogator for 3 years, and were grooming me to teach it to their new trainees, when word came that my mother had died. She never knew where I went to, and I don’t know that she even cared. My whipping her was a drop in the bucket of her whipping me to make me “stay in my place”, and “stop acting out”.

“Some of the other Matriarchals took a hand in that, too, just like the training says you’re supposed to, and I spent many days as a resentful teen sitting on welts and bruises from straps applied to me even by strangers or Fem/Dom foot patrols. So I’ve been no friend (though I had to pretend to be in deep cover) with any Matriarchal ever. They made me tough enough to get this job, but I still owe them no favors.”

“As soon as GLCIS thought that no one was likely to recognize me, they whisked me away to deep cover training, gave me a new name, made me a legend, and put me in the Zone to be trawled up by the new police agency, Sec/Spy. Sec/Spy was never good at vetting an agent (eventually Mossad had to do it for them) and, back then they didn’t even bother. I looked Matriarchal, talked Matriarchal, and walloped men like a Matriarchal, and that was good enough for them.”

“Once I had the uniform nobody in the Zone ever knew my name, and one of the first things I did was clandestinely fillet my own file of my deep cover name and legend. The issue never came up in performance reviews, it “wasn’t anybody’s place” to go into the matter. We had simple aliases, like agent code names, for use in house. I later learned that so many of the first group of us had no paper behind us in Sec/Spy’s files that Mossad spent years tearing their hair out over it.”

“GLCIS assured me that the Zone brochures were honest and spies who were caught were never killed, they were especially insistent about that at my last briefing, which even, flatteringly, included the Chief himself! It wasn’t until I joined Sec/Spy that I heard about the Black Widow and caning spys to a living death. But even though I wanted to kick the balls of the Chief of GLCIS for that, I was committed. He was “retired” by the time I got back, and at one point at a spy social event, I openly told him why and that I’d still like to do it. Everybody thought I’d ruined my career, but, actually, it was the first time Ian really took notice of me and kept me on his mental short list to replace him.

“I learned later that the old chief was actually in my corner, too, when push came to shove. I’ve buried the hatchet with him since, but I have a permanent knot in my own handkerchief to never, never deceive a field agent like I was deceived.
“Very early on I worked with Sec/Spy’s court system and knew that I’d already put myself in the way of a Judicial Caning within a week of taking up the job. I had to scare the piss out of many an enemy agent with the Black Widow, sitting with him watching a Judicial Caning and pretending it was the most normal thing in the world. But my own heart was constantly in my own mouth every day I was clandestinely in the Zone! And I even had nightmares about going to the Widow about once a month.”

“But I wasn’t there to spy on Sec/Spy or the Zone, though I did make the odd report or two. I was there to spy on Mossad. That’s why I made every effort to rotate through as many different Sec/Spy assignments as possible. For a while I even was with the Goons Security Basketball team, doing the clerical work that the ten 6’+ women on the squad couldn’t seem to manage. I was reporting to GLCIS on the depth of Mossad penetration into the Zone agency.

“This gave me another worry. The Zone didn’t kill spies, but Mossad sure did, casually, and while they were still in place, just like they killed Helen, the Sec/Spy Chief. Mossad took the view that they could assess the damage any spy they killed had caused by “taking back bearings” and thought that other upstart agencies, like GLCIS, needed to have a message sent to them from the morgue. Ironically, though they blamed Helen for Micha Haaretz’ death, their opinion of GLCIS improved greatly when they figured out how she had been hit and by whom.

“And that brings us to the hidden tragedy behind the overt tragedy of the deaths of Henry Peterson and Micha Haaretz. Since I didn’t have to give my name if I stayed in uniform, I was able to rent an apartment where no one could place me. Even my own agency (and maybe even Mossad, I’m not sure) never knew where I lived and they never gave the matter a second thought.

“I never worked for Micha Haaretz in Counterintelligence In The Streets. This was deliberate, she was clearly too good to pit my tradecraft against hers. And I really could see the murderous eyes of Mossad when I looked at her.

“So I’d never heard of Henry Peterson until he went on the run and there was the big blowup about the fact that he had “made” Micha and ran because of it. And Henry certainly didn’t know about me. But I had the perfect safehouse for him. Also I had my tradecraft escape prepared in the form of constantly renewed airline tickets to Atlanta in Dixieland, as well as a coded exchange to let Chicago send someone to meet me at the Atlanta airport with temporary new paper and a temporary new legend. I could have pried him out of the Zone, but fate went otherwise.

“That’s a long story and you’re the first to ever hear all of it. I’m sure you’re wondering why.”

“Not really, Lady Chief,” I said. “You want me to place a deep cover agent as the new Madam in my whorehouse. It’s probably not to spy on the Zone, but to spy on Mossad agents in the Zone. You think I have gumption enough to do this even with the threat of your agent or myself getting killed. Your right, I do, but whether I do this or not depends on a number of other things.”

Dead silence.

“Elizabeth, you’ve stunned me. You are as good as Ian and others tell me Henry was good. I’ve half a mind to ask you to go to work for us, too!”

I replied, “I’m too old for the stress of your tradecraft on my memory. Returning to your proposal which I’ve just made for you, why don’t give me some context about why you want a Madam for an agent.”

With the aura of surprise gone, Lady Chief became crisp and businesslike at the snap of a finger, “You already know, I’m sure that for about a decade the Matriarchal Zone has been languishing for want of children. And that it was only last year that they began to do artificial insemination.”

“They certainly have.” I said, “and our clientele among the Submissive Males is getting greyer and greyer, and more and more desperate to squeeze as many orgasms into their life as possible.”

She continued, “After the Sec/Spy debacle made an embarrassing show to the world that the Zone was not the utopia it’s brochures implied, the number of women applying for citizenship has dropped slowly year by year; and the number of single mother families with a story like mine–a teenager whom no amount of strapping teaches to “know their place” and who runs away to evade it is so commonplace that it bears almost no remark within the Zone.

“Of course, if they are able to leave the Zone clandestinely, they become our problem in the Consortium as street victims whose ultimate destinations are the rape clinic, the prison, or the morgue. But still they do and, as one of them, I can hardly blame them. They are often resourceful within the Zone as well. We’ve uncovered an underground teenage “travel agency” in one of their finishing schools that the galumphing beat police of Fem/Dom have never run across.

“These young folks actually smuggle people across the border and, within limits, are pretty good at it. Their tradecraft is crude, but they have heard the word, and it’s good enough so far to fool the knowyourplacers who teach them and feed them. We’d like to help them get better, of course! And to give a job opportunity to the brightest of them that manage to make it over.

“Then there is Mossad. You know on our continent the uninhabited Heat Zone has already engulfed half of the Western High Plains, is slowly cutting off the people still living on the high plateau of the Colorado Rockies, and has pushed the Mormons out of everybody’s hair into the Idaho Rockies.

“Well, in Israel, they still live in the Heat Zone we don’t, hanging on by their teeth because of their nearness to the Mediterranean Sea. And they do more and more of it underground. But they can’t dig fast enough to keep up with the birth rate, and the fainter hearted among them have been dribbling into Southern Europe and headed to Scandinavia where the Diaspora was weakest.

“We were always puzzled about why Mossad had become tangled up with the Matriarchals in the first place. And I observed that they were doing all they could to slowly take over Sec/Spy. But the Israelis have gone ahead with what they appeared to have planned to do with Sec/Spy as a base: more and more of them are applying for Zone citizenship, and there is a very special set of skills that the women who come always seem to have–the ones that the Zone seems to need most at any given moment.

“So it’s not so much a migration as an infiltration. You haven’t seen much of this yet on Scarlet Fever Lane. The Israelis in general are just as contemptuous of the hired GLC whores and madams as the Matriarchals themselves. But it’s starting to be conspicuous enough elsewhere to have even the brightest of the Matriarchals scratching their heads.

“Late last year we finally turned a refugee of Mossad instead of one from them. At first we couldn’t believe him, but he brought enough convincing collateral with him, matching what we already knew. And we still have him in one of our safehouses, where he’ll stay until we’re absolutely sure he isn’t some kind of complicated plant.

“The fact of the matter, amazing as it sounds, is that Israel has been preparing to colonize New England for the last 40 years! Moreover, our defector indicates that Mossad is trying to get the Matriarchals to fund another security police! And this time they are using tall tales of Consortium spying to scare them. We’ve never had more than about 3-4 deep cover agents in the Zone, and even in the bad old days of the Black Widow, Henry and I were the only two GLCIS Deeps in the whole country.

“The Matriarchals got used to living off the perks of the Six Genders Compact and when it wrapped up, both our public and our politicians have wanted to keep them at arms length, if not further. Through Six Genders, GLC did a lot for them, which they mostly don’t remember as voluntary help on our part.

“Now relations between us are those of ordinary states, not hostile, but formal and distant. At GLCIS we’ve not been entirely happy about this and have tried to persuade our political masters that it is still in GLC’s best interest to be a little more friendly and accommodating. We’ve had very little success.

“More importantly, however, Mossad is once again playing to the Matriarchal Cabinet’s paranoia, telling them that they are awash in our nefarious agents. And they’re trying to form a new Sec/Spy in Mossad’s own image and largely staffed by Mossad agents, now Matriarchal citizens, in the supervisory positions. There is no question in our minds that this would mean the return of some new arrangement of mental and physical torture, as well as the addition of the cavalier way Mossad has of killing people they don’t like much.

“We can’t stop the Israelis from colonizing New England if they want to, but we want to stop Mossad from bringing back torture and casual killing to our own doorstep! And if we can’t do this, we certainly want to keep current on how much they are succeeding.”

She stopped for a long pause.

Then she said, “I exited the Zone in all the confusion of the fall of Sec/Spy. Except for the memories of a few people like you, there is probably no evidence that I was ever even there. When I came back I saw our two agents that were caned on the Widow and “couldn’t sit down for the rest of their lives” because they were carefully beaten almost 1000 times with a rattan cane.

“Misha Haaretz was the bent doctor who made sure the caning didn’t stop until they were crippled. When back, I held each of them in my arms while they cried in their rooms at the Mental Hospital. I also was part of the Triage Team working with their families after they killed themselves. My only regret of my career up to then is that I didn’t pull the trigger that killed Misha Haaretz. And to my bitter heart the worst is that the woman executioner who caned all those people is now a member of the Matriarchal Cabinet.

“I had also seen the caning happen to them and used their suffering to torment two separate interviewees, one from GLCIS, into breaking completely. The boy from GLCIS never was the same again and left the agency as soon as he was repatriated. I met him as the border. He had enough of his mind left to make conversation, but not much more. He didn’t recognize me as his interrogator, and between what I did to him and the 3 times more than normal beatings Fem/Dom gave him in prison, because he was a spy, he came back to his home a shell of what he was.
“All of us, and maybe even you, have blood on our hands and a stain on our hearts.”

She stopped and looked down to keep me from seeing her cry again. I went over to her chair and wrapped my arms around her. “Yes, my heart is stained, too.” I spoke softly, “It didn’t involve spying, but it did involve pitiless torture, and it took a long time before I dared look in a mirror.”

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