The transaction with their supplier went smoothly, as they knew it would. The supplier was not going to mess with The Cartel. And why should it? They each had their role. The supplier provided The Cartel with cocaine at this makeshift jungle airstrip and The Cartel paid the supplier 10% over the going rate of $10,000 a pound in hard U.S. currency. In the United States, The Cartel could sell the cocaine to dealers for $27,000 a pound with no effort at all. Or, if it decided to invest the time and take the risk, it could cut and deal the cocaine itself for many times that. It was profitable either way. Very profitable. The supplier was happy and The Cartel was happy.
Cassie Blaine watched the supplier's plane taxi down the airstrip and take off. This was the first time that Domingo Suarez, the head of The Cartel, had chosen Cassie as one of the four to meet the plane in the army truck with the specially designed engine and more than enough cargo space to hold the 240 cocaine bricks that now lay in the middle of the road. Nearly 500 pounds in 12 sacks. A $5 million investment that would bring a profit in excess of $8 million no matter how The Cartel decided to distribute it.
It hadn't been difficult for Cassie to meet Domingo. It wasn't ever difficult for any woman with a body like hers to meet any man she wanted. And she wanted to meet Domingo. The most powerful and wealthy man in the country. That he was not physically unattractive was a plus, even if he was about 15 years older than her 25 years. The fact that his bedroom kinks were not too different than hers was another bonus. Of course, she hadn't known that when she first set her sights on him.
It wasn't just her body that attracted Domingo to her. He also seemed intrigued by her British accent. Her father, she explained to him, had worked in British law enforcement until he was murdered by corrupt law officials whom he had threatened to expose. As a result, she had become a militant and, after warrants for her arrest were issued charging her with complicity in blowing up a government storage depot, she fled to South America, still violently opposed to government authority. That is what had brought her to Domingo -- the man most wanted by the government. But he was a cautious man, and it took her four months before he accepted her story and trusted her with this delivery.
Adriana was the driver. Antonio and Felipe, armed with machine guns, were the muscle to move the 500 pounds and deal with any trouble that might arise. There never had been any. There was no difficulty determining they had not been followed to such a desolate place. But there would be only one first time for trouble, so they always needed to be ready. That way they would remain the dominant cartel in the country. Cassie was the brains -- in charge of the recovery operation – though she was the only one who described her role that way. To the others she was just a lookout: another set of eyes to make sure everything went smoothly while they performed their tasks.
After turning the truck around, Adriana waited in the driver's seat, Cassie hopped out from the passenger side, moved to the back of the truck and lifted its flap to make it easier for Antonio and Felipe to toss the sacks inside. With the men carrying one sack in each hand each time, it would take them no more than 90 seconds to make the three trips needed to load them all. Adriana kept the truck’s engine running.
But after the men had tossed the first four sacks into the back of the truck and started back for their second trip, bursts of gunfire exploded from the overgrowth on the passenger side of the road. Felipe was struck numerous times in his back and fell face down in the dirt. Antonio raced for cover behind the driver's side of the truck and returned fire. Cassie, armed only with a revolver without enough range to be of any value, moved next to him, hoping for a chance to make a dash to retrieve dead Felipe’s weapon.
Just then, Adriana gunned the truck, which raced down the dirt road, back flap open, with 160 pounds of cocaine bricks inside. Cassie and Antonio found themselves exposed to the ambushers’ gunfire. Cassie started to run after the truck, screaming at Adriana, but Adriana did not slow down and Cassie could not catch it. She turned back to see Antonio's body ripped by several volleys of machine gun fire as half a dozen men moved out of the brush and onto the dirt road. Two turned to face her, their machine guns aimed at her heart. She dropped her revolver, raised her hands, waited and hoped. As two of the men walked toward her, an armored Hummer suddenly pushed through the brush from where the men had been firing and drove over to the unloaded cocaine where several men loaded the remaining cocaine sacks into it.
"Well," said one of the men, smiling as he reached Cassie. The other stopped a few steps farther away, keeping his machine gun pointed at her. “Our orders were to take one of you alive if possible, since you are of more value to us that way than like that." He nodded toward the bodies of Felipe and Antonio. Cassie’s eyes darted around to see if there was any hope for escape, but there was none.
"But we had no idea that our captive would be so attractive." He slung his gun over his shoulder and reached out to squeeze Cassie's breasts. She stared at him with no reaction. Men had touched her breasts before, some of whom she didn't particularly want touching her breasts. But that was not her concern now. "Very, very nice.” Men had told her that often, too. "What's your name?"
"My name is fuck you, asshole."
Cassie's voice dripped venom. She had been in situations as bad as this before. Yes, she was scared. But she knew that letting that show or losing her focus would not help her.
The man began walking slowly around Cassie. She forced herself not to follow him with her eyes, so she was unprepared when he suddenly hit her hard in her midsection with a closed fist. She dropped her hands, grabbed her stomach and fell to her knees. Her effort to regain her breath was futile, as the man swung his gun butt hard against the back of her head, sending her sprawled and unconscious to the ground. He kicked her over onto her back.
"You know what I'd like to do to this one?" He looked at his partner.
“And you know what the boss would do to you if you did?" the other responded, as he picked up Cassie's revolver.
Cassie came to with a splitting headache, alone in a basement. She could see that she was sitting in a chair. Actually, it was more like a wooden seat attached to the floor by a metal bar. Its back was a long, vertical, wooden pole against which her back rested. Her ankles were bound to the metal bar near the floor. Her wrists were tied around the wooden pole and she could feel a strap around her neck. A garrote. They were going to question her as they slowly turned a handle behind the pole to tighten the strap around her neck. And she couldn't be sure that they wouldn't suffocate her even if she told them everything that they wanted to know. Which she certainly wouldn't.
Looking in front of her – the garrote and pole prevented her from turning her head – she saw an empty room except for two chairs against one of the room’s side walls, just under a window. On one of the chairs, Cassie could see her boots and revolver sitting on top of her neatly folded pants and shirt. She looked down to see that she was still wearing her black bra and panties. And her stockings. She had forgotten about those. Wearing them under her pants made no sense, especially in the heat of the jungle. But Domingo had insisted that she wear them and, when Domingo insisted, you didn't ask questions. You just did it.
The door to the room suddenly flung open and two men entered. One she recognized as Javier Milan, the head of The Group, the organization fighting The Cartel for control of the country’s drug and other illicit trade.
Milan moved the empty chair six feet in front of Cassie and leaned forward. The other man walked behind Cassie. Milan nodded toward him, and the man turned the handle controlling the strap around her neck. She felt it tighten uncomfortably and let out a brief gurgling sound.
"Just to show you what we can and will do to you, if necessary," Milan smiled at her. "But you already knew that, didn't you?"
"I had an idea," Cassie was surprised at how difficult it already was for her to get the words out with the strap tight around her neck. It was not yet constricting her breathing, but still uncomfortably tight.
"Two, maybe three more turns, and your eyes will bulge out of your head," Milan explained. "You don't want that now, do you?"
Cassie stared back at him. "Take your best shot."
"They're always so brave in the beginning. Let's see how long it takes for that to change. Serge, you may have the honors."
Serge, Cassie thought. The Group is working with the Russians.
Serge moved in front of Cassie and pulled her bra up, releasing her breasts. She saw Javier's eyebrows rise. He liked what he saw. Firm, large breasts that any man ... or woman ... would love to fondle and suck and squeeze. Cassie was proud of them. Most times they were a great asset. Now, though, they would likely prove a great liability.
"Yes, my dear, they are very nice breasts." It seemed to Cassie that Javier was nearly drooling over her. Of course, if he was, he wasn't the first. "It would be such a shame if anything harmed them."
Serge watched Milan for a few seconds, then turned back to Cassie, holding a small knife. Cassie sucked in her breath, not sure whether Serge had pulled out the knife in response to Javier's statement about harming her breasts. To her relief, he moved it down and flicked it against the sides of her panties, then pulled her panties off and tossed them on the floor near the chair holding the rest of her clothes. [See Cassie Pic 1]
Now the two men stared at Cassie's shaved pussy. "Again, very nice," Javier approved. "And, again, it would be such a shame for it to cause you great pain."
"You can't scare me," Cassie gritted her teeth. "You might as well gag me for all I'm going to tell you."
"No, I prefer to hear you scream." Milan nodded toward Serge, who moved behind Cassie, then returned pushing a small cart that Cassie was surprised to see. The room obviously was not as empty behind her as it was in front.
"Not very original, is it?" She saw the generator on the top of the cart, several wires dangling over its sides. She hoped that the slight shake in her voice was not noticeable to the two men.
"We're not shooting for originality," Milan calmly observed. "We're shooting for effectiveness." Serge pulled two wires from the generator and Cassie could see the alligator clips attached to their ends. She watched Serge open them over her nipples and release them slowly. She bit into her lip hard as she saw the drips of blood ooze onto her chest as Serge walked away. She stared at Milan.
"Don't worry, love, we're not done yet." Milan made sure she knew. Serge approached with another wire with one end leading to the generator. Attached to its other end was a thick metal shaft in the shape of a large penis. "You'll be glad to know that this one is no doubt larger than any of your previous lovers. And it will remain hard for as long as you like. Actually, for longer than you are going to like."
Serge wrapped his arm around her waist and raised her body from the seat to allow him to push the metal shaft into her. Cassie squirmed, but her fear had moistened her enough that its insertion required little effort. Once in place, Serge lowered Cassie back onto the wooden seat.
"Now, what is your name?" Milan asked his first question.
"I already told your flunkies my name. It's fuck you." Cassie sneered back at him.
"And what is your role in The Cartel? Domingo's whore is my guess."
"Well, I'm not your whore, that's for sure."
"We'll see about that when we're finished with the questions. And the answers. Because there will be answers."
"And most of them are going to be the same. Fuck you."
"Serge, don't you think that it's time to see how strong this one really is?" Serge walked over to the cart and put his right hand on the dial on top of the generator.
Cassie twisted her body and pulled at the ropes tying her wrists behind the pole. Ropes, not chains. Easier to get out of. And her ankles were also tied by ropes only. If given the time, she could escape if she were left alone -- she knew it. But for now, she was not alone. And she was about to feel the pain of electricity surging through her body. She had faced torture before, but never electricity. She had no idea how...
Serge turned the dial about a quarter of the way around... and Cassie immediately felt the electricity jump between her breasts and pussy as her body arched upward. Shit, she thought as she bit her lip hard to stop from screaming. He barely moved the knob and the pain was nearly intolerable. She knew this was going to be much more severe than she had expected. For the first time, she doubted her strength. After five seconds, Serge turned the knob back to its “off” position.
"I'm a kind man," Milan told her, "so I'll give you a minute to recover before the next jolt. At a higher level of course. Look, you're already sweating."
Cassie glanced down and saw that her body was in fact already bathed in sweat. And that her breathing was rapid and shallow. Both of which confirmed to the men that she was more affected by her ordeal than her brazen words would have them believe.
"Who is The Cartel's supplier? Who made the delivery today?"
It took Cassie more time to catch her breath and raise the nerve to give Milan another smart ass answer, although she knew that she would soon pay for her continued insolence.
"The local florist." She inhaled deeply for another breath. "There's a discount this week on roses."
She saw Javier nod toward Serge, still with his hand on the dial. Cassie tried to prepare herself, but knew that it would be hopeless.
This time Serge moved the dial a third of the way around. Cassie knew that biting her lip was not going to be of any help to her. Her body lurched forward as far as the strap around her neck allowed, tightening it in the process. Diabolical, she realized. She needed to open her mouth wide to gulp in as much air as she could, but the strap constricted her throat, limiting how much she could take in. At the same time the electricity was cutting through her so painfully that she was sure that there must be knives inside her cutting through her skin until they poked out her body. She could feel her mind start to swirl. Again, after five seconds, Serge turned the knob back to the off position.
Cassie's body plunged back to the wooden seat, which loosened the strap around her neck a bit, allowing her to gasp in needed air. Her chest heaved and her eyes blinked hard. She tried to focus. Milan again waited a full minute to allow her a bit of time to try to recover.
“Now, I believe that I asked you for your name." Milan’s voice was calm. Cassie stared at him, continuing to blink hard to try to see him clearly.
"Cassie. Cassie Blaine." It gave away nothing to tell him her name, she thought, which should buy her a little more time -- time that she desperately needed. She was not ready for another jolt. Certainly not a larger jolt.
"Good. Good. I'm glad you're cooperating," Milan chided her for her display of weakness. "And guess what, my dear? We know you're telling us the truth. Because we already knew your name. In fact, we know a lot of things about Domingo's whore."
Jesus, Cassie thought. Sure, she had been sleeping with Domingo. He was a powerful man. Sleeping with him was good for her career. Sometimes a woman had to do what a woman had to do. But that didn't make her a whore, did it?
"How many times has The Cartel used this airfield for drug drops?"
"I ... I have no idea," Cassie quickly responded. Not exactly a lie, but not the whole truth, either. She had no idea how many times in total. But she did know that it regularly used the airstrip during the last four months.
"What a shame. I thought we were moving in the right direction," Milan shook his head and stood up. Serge turned the knob half way around the dial, and Cassie immediately found her body in the same position as before, stretched upward off the seat as far as the strap and the ropes tying her wrists would allow. She heard herself scream, but the scream sounded like it was coming from another place, like she was outside her body watching herself writhe in the pain from the electricity coursing through her. She was sure that her nipples and the inside of her vagina must be frying, if not actually on fire.
She looked at Serge to see when he would turn the knob back to off, but he just stood there for what seemed an eternity. A greater jolt for a longer time. Barbaric. But she knew that The Cartel’s interrogation methods were just as brutal as those of The Group.
After the longest ten seconds of Cassie's life, Serge finally turned the knob back off and her body again crashed back to the wood seat. Her gasps for air now carried a loud wheeze that made each breath sound raspy and painful. Milan and Serge watched Cassie until she could once again focus her eyes on them.
"Cassie, we are actually kind men, so we are going to give you a break to think about your situation. But if you do not then reciprocate our kindness and cooperate with us, we will resign ourselves to watching you die painfully. I hope you will make the right decision."
Serge turned the knob just a little and Cassie could feel the electricity invade her body once more. She started to shake slightly. Not too painful, but the sensation was annoying and persistent.
"Just so you remember us as you consider your decision." Serge smiled and the two men walked out of the room, leaving Cassie still struggling for air and shaking, alone to consider her choices... and her fate.
All right, I'm alone and I can get myself out of these ropes if I just stay calm, Cassie told herself. She twisted her hands to feel the ropes. If she could figure out how they were tied, she could slowly loosen the knots and slide her now sweating hands out of them. Then she could easily free her neck and ankles, dress and escape through the window above the chair holding her clothes. She was surprised that it had no bars behind it, but then probably no captive in this room had ever escaped. Three minutes at most after freeing her wrists she would be gone.
She felt for the ropes around her wrists. More strands than she thought. It would take a little longer. But she had 30 minutes, they had said. That should be enough time. She tried to push her fingers between the top two strands of rope, then under them to loosen the knot. Focus, focus, she told herself. But the strap around her neck was still tight, so she was not getting as much oxygen as she needed, causing some dizziness.
The shaking of her body from the electricity made it more difficult for her to keep her hands steady, especially as her heart rate remained elevated from the larger electric jolts she had previously received, and the excitement and tension of trying to escape. After a few more minutes, she realized that her strength was gone and that she would need a few minutes rest. Frustrated, she closed her eyes.
As her head was about to slump to her chest from exhaustion, she heard the door open.
Cassie, semi-conscious, felt a hand raise her chin.
"Cassie, Cassie," the voice was familiar. She slowly opened her eyes. "What happened? Cassie?"
She was surprised that the voice was not that of Javier Milan. Or of Serge. No, it was the voice of ... Domingo.
"You're all right now. We're here. You're all right."
Cassie felt the clips on her nipples being opened and removed, and the metal shaft in her vagina was gently pulled out by two men helping Domingo. They untied her wrists and ankles, and unfastened the strap around her neck, before gently leading her to the empty chair in which Milan had sat during her torture. They brought over her clothes and helped her put on her pants and shoes. She pulled her bra down over her breasts and slipped her shirt over her head.
"What happened?" she asked Domingo.
"We tracked you here. There was no one else around. We have guards stationed outside in case anyone returns."
"Tracked me here?"
Domingo laughed. "There are several thin wires in your stockings that GPS can track. I figured it was better for you to think I was kinky to ask you to wear them under your pants than tell you that we were tracking you for your safety.
Cassie rubbed her wrists then her neck to help restore the circulation. "Can we get out of here?" She looked at the generator on the cart and shuddered.
"Yes, you'll tell us all that happened back at the compound, and then we'll let you rest." Domingo put his arm around her.
Forty-five minutes later, Cassie sat at a table in The Cartel’s compound with Domingo and the three other members of The Cartel’s top brass. If she thought about it, she could remember their real names, but she usually just thought of them as Athos, Porthos and Aramis. The Three Musketeers.
"Everything started smoothly." Cassie began slowly to tell them the events at the airstrip in as much detail as she could remember.
"You're saying they were waiting for you? So that means they were tipped off to the time and location of the drop." Domingo asked Cassie for confirmation.
"Yes, they were waiting for us. I don't know whether Adriana panicked or whether she thought it best to get back with some of the drugs instead of losing all of them. And to be captured and face a fate like the one she left me to face."
"Or maybe Adriana was the one who told them about the drop, so they let her escape as part of their deal -- with a small part of the drugs to make it look like she was a hero – and so she could keep spying on us without suspicion." Domingo looked around the room. The others nodded or raised their eyebrows. "I think Milan is playing us for fools. We need to ask Adriana some questions. I'll have her brought in."
"The torture was unbearable, but I didn't tell them anything, I swear.” Cassie wanted to make sure that no suspicion of spying fell on her. “Well, no. That’s not completely true. I did tell them my name. I'm so sorry, but it was so painful. But that's all that I told them."
"Did you learn anything from their questions?" Domingo asked. "Sometimes the captive can learn more from the captors’ questions than the captors learn from their captive’s answers."
"I learned," Cassie blushed, "that they knew my name before I told them, or at least they said they did. And I learned that," she paused and whispered to Domingo, hoping the Musketeers would not hear, "I was sleeping with you."
"I see," Domingo whispered back to her. "So that means that your reputation is destroyed," he smiled, "while mine is greatly improved."
Cassie woke, not knowing how long she had been asleep, but knowing that it must have been a long time since she felt rested even after her ordeal. She found a note at the side of the bed: "See me when you're ready. There is work to do." She knew it was from Domingo even if it didn't say so. No one else in The Cartel gave her orders.
She got out of bed and saw that she had slept naked. She didn't remember going to bed and decided that Domingo must have put her to bed after she passed out during her talk with The Cartel brass. She saw her revolver on the night stand and picked it up. "You were worthless to me yesterday but sometimes you are very helpful, so you're forgiven." Still holding it, she walked into the bathroom and picked up a towel with her free hand. [See Cassie Pic 2]
"I mean," she set a fantasy scene for herself, "if I were in the shower,” she tossed her towel on the bathroom floor, put the revolver on the counter, turned on the shower and stepped in, “…when two men burst in and I didn't have you ...” She gave a look of horror, shook her head side to side, quietly mouthing the word “no” over and over, and threw her hands up to the side of her head. “Bam, bam,” she had to play all parts. “Uuuuhhhhhh,” she slid down until she was sitting on the ledge inside the shower, her legs spread out straight in front of her. She dropped her head to her chest, letting the water continue to run over her, and held the position for several seconds. Then, “bam” – her body jolted before resuming its prior position. “Just to make sure, sweetheart.” Snap, snap, snap. “Some photos for the boss to show him that we have eliminated the spy.” Again, she remained motionless for several seconds.
“But,” suddenly she rose, and reached out of the shower to retrieve the revolver, placing it on the ledge away from the water, “if I had you,” she grabbed it, turned and pretended to fire two quick shots, “I would live to spy another day.” She returned the revolver to the bathroom counter and got back into the shower.
After her shower, Cassie was surprised when she walked into the bedroom wearing only the towel, to find two of Domingo's flunkies waiting for her. She knew that one was named Diego but she didn't know the other one's name. "Boss wants to see you in Room 6 when you're ready," Diego told her and both immediately left.
"Room 6." Cassie said quietly to herself. "He does suspect Adriana of being Javier's spy."
Cassie put on her gray camouflage pants and gray tank top, then strapped on a holster belt and slipped her revolver into it. She quickly pulled it out, pointed it at the bathroom mirror and pretended to fire, then blew off the smoke as if it were a western six-shooter. [See Cassie Pic 3]
"If you can satisfy me, I won't shoot you like I did your partner. But you better be damned good." She laughed as she returned the revolver to its holster and left the room.
Room 6 was in the basement. Actually deep in the basement. Two levels down. The sub-basement. Only one thing happened there. No more fantasy. This would be real. Too real.
When she reached Room 6 in the sub-basement of The Cartel compound, she was surprised to find only Domingo there with the Musketeers.
"Recovered, my dear?" Domingo turned to her when she entered. "We were waiting for your arrival. You are about to be avenged for your torment yesterday after the spy Adriana set you up and left you to be tortured and killed."
Domingo glanced toward the door in the middle of the far wall, which opened as two men, both wearing hoods, entered, dragging a naked woman along the floor between them. Cassie could not see if the woman was conscious, but if she was, she was not able to put up any resistance. The men walked toward a heavy wooden chair. [See Adriana Pic 1]
“No, not there,” Domingo directed. “Put her over there.” He nodded toward a large wooden rack at one side of the room.
The men lifted the woman onto the rack and rolled her onto her back. Cassie could see that her body remained smooth. It was also, Cassie had to admit, nearly as magnificent as Cassie’s own. Apparently that was a requirement for a woman to work for Domingo. She wasn't sure if Domingo slept with her, but she imagined that he did. When Cassie’s gaze left the woman’s body to look at her face, it confirmed what Cassie already knew. The woman was Adriana. Either they hadn't yet tortured her or, if they had, they had so far done it in a way that did not mark her body.
The men secured Adriana’s wrists to metal cuffs connected to the roller bar at the top of the rack and locked her ankles into wooden stocks that remained in place when the roller was turned. As soon as the men had finished securing Adriana to the rack, they turned the roller bar’s handle enough to stretch Adriana fully, if not yet painfully, then remained standing at the head of the rack for further instructions.
Cassie could see the Musketeers staring at Adriana’s naked body.
"Tell them what happened!! That I saved what I could!!” Cassie looked at Adriana and saw that she was staring back at her, eyes wide open. “Cassie, please tell them. I did everything I could!! Tell them!!” Adriana screamed at her.
They hadn't even started on her and Adriana was already panicking, Cassie observed. She looked at Domingo to see if she should reply, but the attention of everyone in the room was drawn to a male figure entering the room from the same side door through which Adriana had been dragged. It was one of Domingo’s torturers. Catching Adriana’s attention was not just the man, but what he was wheeling into the room: a brazier filled with coals in which was embedded a hot iron, glowing white. The Torturer rolled the brazier to the side of the rack, near a series of candles. Cassie was struck by how the light from the brazier and the candles gave the room an ominous red tinge.
The Torturer pulled from his belt a wooden peg attached to a ring and a loop of rubber. He quickly pushed the peg into Adriana’s open mouth and looped the rubber around her head to hold it in place, deep inside her throat. “The boss doesn't want you to confess too soon,” he told her as her eyes stared wide at him.
The Torturer then pulled from his belt the hilt of a long sword. He pushed a button and the blade leaped from the hilt to extend a full foot. Adriana screamed through the wooden gag and tried vainly to close her legs. The Torturer pushed the button a second time and the blade retracted into the hilt. Then he pushed the hilt, with the blade sheathed up between Adriana’s legs.
“We need to be sure that your confession is truthful, which can come only after you have fully understood what will happen to you if you don't tell the boss everything that he wants to know.” Adriana’s screams of terror remained incomprehensible. Cassie realized that the Torturer’s explanation of the need for Adriana’s torture before she was interrogated made no sense at all. Great pain would lead to the opposite of a truthful confession. Cassie suspected that Domingo was already satisfied that Adriana was the spy, which meant that her fate was sealed regardless of her guilt or innocence and regardless what she said or confessed. Cassie was sure that Adriana was innocent, but she could say or do nothing.
The Torturer pulled the iron out of the brazier. Three inches of its tip glowed white hot. [See Adriana Pic 2] The men holding the handles of the roller bar gave it half a turn. A loud grunt escaped through the gag in Adriana’s mouth as her shoulders and hips stretched to their limits.
“Yes, that’s what I wanted,” Domingo shouted toward Adriana. “The tighter your skin is, the more it will feel the iron. Now you can see that I have been kind to you and had him heat only the very end of the iron, instead of the whole thing, which would do far more damage to your body.”
Adriana shook her head violently, her muffled incoherent grunts continuous. The Torturer leaned over and whispered to her, “I hope that enough of the men had a chance to enjoy your body before you were brought here. And you to enjoy them. Because it’s a shame what I have to do to be sure that we get the truth from you.” He touched the heated end of the iron to Adriana’s stomach, just above her navel. Her screams through the wooden gag grew louder. She pulled frantically and hopelessly at her wrists and ankles, managing only to chafe them raw.
Without a word, the Torturer touched the heated iron across her left breast, just below her nipple, then vertically between her breasts and finally above her pubic bone, before putting the iron back in the brazier.
The men in the room watched as Adriana screamed through her gag, her body shaking and twisting helplessly. They watched for several minutes before the Torturer pulled the ring attached to the wood peg to remove it, and let it snap back under her chin.
“Cassie, how can you let them?! Cassie, you know I did the only thing that I could!! Cassie, please. Please tell them!!” Adriana immediately continued her protestations of innocence, clearly understood by all in the room.
“What do you want Cassie to tell us, Adriana? That we have a spy in our midst? We all already know that.” Domingo rose slowly and walked closer to the screaming woman. “You know that, too, don't you?”
“We may. Yes, we may. Yes, I think we do. But it’s not me!! Why do you think it is me?! I've worked loyally for you for six years!!”
“You're not suggesting that the spy was Felipe or Antonio? They were both dead within 30 seconds after the shooting began.”
“No. No, I'm not saying that. I just know that it’s not me. It’s not me!!”
“Are you saying that Cassie is the spy?”
“No, I'm not saying that!!”
“Because, by leaving her there to be captured by The Group, she was tortured nearly to death. We were lucky to rescue her in time. So I hope you're not accusing her.”
“It could be someone else!! It didn't have to be one of the four of us!! I'm not accusing anyone!! It’s just not me!! Why do you think it’s me?!”
“I don't have to answer your questions, Adriana. But maybe the answer is because the two men that I sent to the airstrip were killed and Cassie was tortured, while you were allowed to escape. Did they even try to stop you?” Adriana shook her head and started to weep.
“Adriana, confess and I promise that I will make your death painless.”
“It’s not me.” She continued to sob.
“All right,” Domingo sighed. “We're not getting anywhere, Adriana, are we? You seem to be begging me to torture you more to get to the truth.” Domingo walked back to his chair and sat down. It seemed to Cassie that Domingo had no evidence that the spy was Adriana, other than the fact that she had survived. Although Adriana was probably now wishing that she hadn't, that she had simply been gunned down with Felipe and Antonio – a far less painful demise than the one she now faced.
The Torturer knew that since Adriana was no longer gagged, the men would all be able to hear her screams and denials and protests. And he wanted those screams and denials and protests to be very loud so that the men could see that he did his work well. Maybe they would even give him a raise.
The Torturer took a four inch stiletto knife from his belt and nodded to the two men standing at the head of the rack. They gave the handle another half turn, and everyone in the room could hear the popping in her shoulders. At the same time, the Torturer jammed the stiletto blade into the middle of the underside of Adriana’s right breast and pushed it up through her breast until its tip exited the top. He let go of the blade’s handle, leaving it there, trickles of blood escaping from both sides. He reached into his belt for a second stiletto knife. Adriana’s desperate screams intensified.
“Do you have anything to tell us yet, Adriana?” Domingo had to scream himself to be heard above Adriana’s cries. “If not, I'm sure you know what he’s going to do with that other knife.”
“I'm not the spy. I'm not the spy!! Why won't you believe me?!”
The Torturer thrust the stiletto blade up from the underside of Adriana’s left breast until its tip exited the other side, just as he had done with the first knife. He then squeezed her breasts with the metal blades running through them. Adriana flung her head back and forth, screaming at the top of her lungs.
“We are wasting our time. We have other issues with The Group that we need to handle.” Domingo looked at the three members of The Cartel’s brass seated at the opposite side of the room. All were staring at Adriana’s body and watching its slow destruction. “Would any of you like to assist?”
The one Cassie named Athos rose and walked to the foot of the rack. Adriana’s eyes followed him as he pulled the hot iron that the Torturer had used on her out of the brazier. It glowed even hotter than before. He looked over at Domingo who smiled and nodded. The Torturer moved aside, as Athos stepped toward Adriana’s screaming figure. Her throat was now so raw that the volume of her screams had greatly diminished.
Athos dropped the iron down so that its heated end covered Adriana’s right nipple, watching as it quickly burned off completely. He looked to Aramis and Porthos and held the iron toward them. “Interested?” They both shook their heads. “Go ahead,” Porthos authorized.
Athos held the iron over Adriana’s left nipple and looked at her. Her mouth was wide open, what was left of a raspy scream still audible. Her eyes were glazed and unfixed. He glanced down to see the criss-crossed lines of burns that the Torturer had earlier inflicted on her, the two stilettos skewering her breasts and the hilt of the sword jammed between her legs.
“I will take pity on you and let you keep that nipple for now,” Athos leaned in close to Adriana’s face, but he was not certain that she could still understand where she was or why she was being tortured. He imagined that her mind had become one mass of pain.
Athos turned to look at Domingo, who nodded. Athos moved his hand to the sword hilt between Adriana’s legs and pushed the button that the Torturer had previously pushed, releasing the sword’s blade its full length into her, through her cervix and into her internal organs. He then moved back to his chair as the entire front of Adriana’s body turned a deeper and deeper red. Her screams stopped.
Cassie walked over to Adriana’s body. She touched her neck. No pulse. She looked at Domingo and shook her head. Then she looked back at Adriana’s corpse and touched the handles of the sword and stilettos, all three still embedded deeply in her. Cassie looked at Adriana’s open eyes and mouth. She drew her fingers along the burn marks on her body. A horrible painful death indeed. Of a woman whom Cassie was sure was not a spy, but only a low level operative whom Domingo had decided to eliminate after a few seconds of imperfect analysis. Cassie knew that she needed to be careful, very careful, lest a similarly horrible fate befall her.
"Now that our spy problem is solved, we have to deal with The Group." Domingo sat opposite Cassie at the dining room table an hour after returning from Room 6. "I think it's time for a direct confrontation at the airstrip. How can we make sure that they know when our next delivery is expected and how many men we will bring?"
Cassie smiled and pulled Adriana's cell phone from her pocket. "I can take care of that. She texted Milan in code about the last delivery – a ridiculously simple code. Date and time and number of people we'd have there. They don't know yet that her spying was uncovered and that she has been… compromised. For all they know, we fell for their effort to make her look like a hero for rescuing some of the bricks. Just tell me what information you want Milan to have and I'll send it to him in code from Adriana’s phone. Then we bring 20 more men than we tell them will be there and arrive a day earlier. I can also tell him that we've treated Adriana like a hero and that we're convinced that The Group won't dare try to intercept our next delivery."
Domingo thought for a minute. “Sooner is better,” he answered. “Before they learn that Adriana’s pulse rate has slowed considerably. Have Adriana tell them Thursday at 7 a.m. And that we'll have six men there. No, tell them 8. We want them to bring more so we can eliminate as many as possible. They'll come with 15 or 20 on Wednesday evening. So we'll be waiting for them with 30 men that we send on Wednesday morning."
"What if they don't take the bait," Cassie cautioned. "We'll have a lot of men out of commission for several days if they don't."
"Risk, reward. If they take the bait, we will put a real dent in their operations. If they don't, we're not risking much."
"I'll get right on it." Cassie leaned over and kissed Domingo, then walked out of the room. “I'm going to send you to the airstrip again,” she heard Domingo call to her as she left the room.
When Cassie got to her bedroom, she closed the door, took out Adriana's cell phone and typed a text message. "We're in. Not my phone. Details when we speak. BC." She hit send. Signing it "CB" would be too obvious, but reversing her initials really wasn't much better, she knew.
All the pain from her ordeal in the hands of Serge would now pay dividends. It had been terrifying, yes. Only Javier and a few others in The Group knew, so she had not been certain that The Group members at the airstrip were all aware that they were to take a captive. Given that Adriana would no doubt drive off, it had been a good bet that they would choose her as their captive over Felipe or Antonio. But it had been no sure thing.
Far more frightening was that Javier had insisted that his chief interrogator, Serge, not know that Cassie was not working for The Cartel, but spying on it for The Group. He wanted to make sure that Serge was as brutal on her as would be on a real captive spying for The Cartel. Javier wanted Cassie to be able to describe her ordeal vividly and convincingly after he intentionally left her alone so that she could escape or be "rescued" by The Cartel.
As a result, Cassie’s ordeal seemed credible to Domingo and The Cartel, who were convinced that she truly was one of them. After all, she had been tortured nearly to death by The Group, which further convinced The Cartel that Adriana was the spy. To Adriana’s misfortune, Domingo had acted under that belief. Poor innocent Adriana, Cassie thought. But, as they say, all is fair in… And this was war. Domingo sought Cassie’s assistance to arrange a massacre of The Group at the airstrip on Thursday. And there would be a massacre. But it would be on Wednesday. And it would not be exactly the massacre that Domingo had in mind.
Cassie heard the buzz on Adriana's phone. The return text contained the code that confirmed that her message had been received by Javier himself. She walked down the hall and stairs. She saw Domingo working in his study and poked her head in. "I need some air. I'll be back in an hour."
"I'll send a guard with you."
"No, I'm not going far. I just need some space after what happened. Need to get my head straight before Thursday." Cassie walked out the front door of the house and across the compound. She nodded to the guard at the gate, who nodded back at her. The guard used to stop and question her. But now Domingo had gotten word around that she did not have to be questioned any more.
As soon as she was out of sight of the compound, she dialed Adriana's phone. Javier answered on the first ring. “MJ.” More stupid reversed initials. But she knew it was Javier.
“You're supposed to believe that the drop is at Thursday at 7 a.m. They expect you to arrive Wednesday night. They're going to arrive Wednesday morning. They're bringing 30. Bring as many as you need. And like last time, remember that you can only position your men on the left side of the airstrip. The right side is too marshy.”
“Got it. Anything more?”
“Yes. Your plan to let the other woman escape with part of the load, and to torture me … It worked perfectly, I have to admit.”
“I'll take that all as a thank you. If they knew you were the spy, it would have been much worse for you. And more permanent.” Cassie knew that Javier was right. She would have been the one whose nipples were burned off with a hot iron. And worse.
“Javier, you will get a text from this phone soon. Ignore it. I just need it in case I have to prove that I sent you the information that Domingo wants you to have."
"Understood." Cassie heard the click. She immediately texted him: "D -- 5 07 8." "D" for "delivery." That it was at the airstrip was understood. "5" for the fifth day of the week, Thursday. "07" meant 7 a.m. "8" meant that The Cartel would have eight men for the pickup. Then she erased the phone's record of the call and of the first exchange of texts with Javier. She left the second text visible. Far from perfect, she knew. If Domingo had a tech expert examine the phone, she would be discovered. But he wouldn't. And he certainly wouldn't before Wednesday. After that, it wouldn't matter. After that, she would be in the clear.
Now Cassie had nothing to do but wait until they left for the airstrip. The Group would be waiting for them. Thirty men on The Cartel’s side. And one woman. At least 30 on The Group’s side. Again she prayed that Javier got the word out that the woman was not to be harmed. As long as she survived the battle, she would be safe, since, no matter who won, she would be considered loyal to that side.
By early Wednesday morning, Cassie’s memory of her ordeal had started to fade. Not that she didn't shudder when she remembered it, but the mind is resilient that way. It provides a strong defensive mechanism to force a person to forget the sense of pain.
Twenty minutes before the scheduled departure, with Domingo watching, The Cartel began loading three armored trucks, each carrying eight fully-armed men in the back, a driver and a man, or, in one case, a woman, in the front passenger seat. Cassie wore the same gray camouflage outfit she had worn a few days earlier. When Domingo saw her, he was startled.
"Cassie, no. I won't let you go off like that. I need you safe. Go put on your full body gear like the others."
“I'm a lover, not a fighter,” she cooed back at him. “I'll stay in the background. I'm fine like this."
"No, like that you'll be a target for everyone The Group sends. You'll be a trophy for them. Go put on your body gear. I need you safe." Again Cassie knew that there was no sense in arguing.
It took several minutes to get into her body gear. Domingo was right. It would provide her with greater protection. But not as much as her gray camouflage outfit, since, wearing that, she would be easily recognizable to Javier’s men, as long as word got around, as it had the last time, that they were not to shoot her.
Wearing her full body suit, she looked the same as every other member of The Cartel, to the point that it was not even apparent that she had breasts. It would now be much harder for a member of The Group – even if they had all been properly instructed – to realize that she was the target. [See Cassie Pic 4]
Domingo smiled at her as she walked by him after changing her clothes. She hopped into the passenger seat of the first truck. While the others thought they would have a whole day to prepare for an ambush, Cassie knew that the ambush was just a few hours away, as soon as they reached the airstrip. Javier's men would already be in place. And it would be an ambush of The Cartel’s men, not an ambush by them.
As they drove toward the airstrip, Cassie could hear the men in the back of her truck singing and laughing -- trying to calm their nerves no doubt. She hoped that she didn't appear too nervous to the driver sitting next to her. But if she did, he would certainly attribute it to her supposed fear of what was to transpire tomorrow. After all, she was the only woman in The Cartel's contingent, even if she no longer was recognizable as such. But she wouldn't be in charge of the operation, or even part of it, if she didn't have Domingo's complete trust. Poor foolish Domingo. His world and his organization were about to change and he didn't have a clue.
When they reached the road that would take them the last mile to the airstrip, Cassie looked for signs of recent heavy traffic. She wondered whether the trucks’ drivers would notice anything to warn them what was about to happen. If Javier's men were waiting for them, they had done a good job of covering their tracks. Cassie could see nothing.
The three trucks reached the airstrip and the men got out. Cassie arranged them in three lines to give them their instructions. But before she could begin, bursts of gunfire caused the men to scatter for safety.
Four of The Cartel men fell instantly. The others took cover behind the trucks. As Cassie had instructed Javier, the gunfire came from only the left side of the road. Cassie raced into the cab of the middle truck. This provided her some protection from the gunfire but also allowed her to see the action.
Suddenly an armored Hummer burst through the underbrush onto the road, gunners blasting from behind its cab and around its sides. The Cartel men returned the fire, but could not stop it from ramming into the closest of The Cartel’s trucks, pushing it back into the one in the middle and trapping several men before the first truck exploded in flames. Cassie scrambled out of the middle truck and into the farthest from the attack. The Group’s men – or at least those few who had survived the explosion -- jumped out of the Hummer to engage The Cartel in close-in gunfire. Cassie could see that The Group’s uniforms did not provide as much protection as The Cartel’s did. Apparently, Javier believed that speed and flexibility of movement were more important. And it seemed to be working, as The Group appeared to be gaining the upper hand. And, so far at least, none of them had shot at her.
But a few seconds later, the wind blew a huge ball of flame from the site of the explosion in the road toward the underbrush that The Group was using for cover. Cassie heard a second blast as the flames landed on one of The Group’s vehicles and engulfed the entire brush from where The Group’s gunfire was coming. The remaining members of The Group raced out of the brush to avoid the flames. Cassie was surprised to see at least three women among them, all firing machine guns, but each wearing nothing more than a white t-shirt, khaki pants, boots and ammunition belts.
Quickly The Cartel men, from their positions behind their trucks, took aim on The Group’s members running toward them. Cassie saw at least half hit in the first wave of fire, including two of the women, whose chests were ripped by numerous rounds from The Cartel’s machine guns. They fell face down in the road, their weapons flying out of their hands as their bodies came to rest next to their dead male companions.
But the third woman made it to the side of the middle truck and reloaded her machine gun. She glanced around to see that none of The Cartel’s men had realized where she was. She jumped between the two trucks and began to fire, killing half a dozen of The Cartel’s men before they even realized what was happening or from where the gunfire was coming. Cassie slowly drew her revolver. Having cleared out The Cartel men between the trucks, the woman again paused to reload her machine gun. As she did, Cassie aimed at the center of her back and fired. The woman jolted upright, the force of the shot causing her to spin around until she was facing Cassie, who was leaning out of front cab of the third truck. With the woman’s gun still at her side, pointing down, Cassie fired again, hitting the woman between her breasts. The woman dropped her gun, stood staring at Cassie for a second, and then fell to the ground on her back, her arms splaying over her head, her white t-shirt quickly reddening, as her head turned to the side and her eyes closed.
When Cassie looked back to the fighting, she was surprised to see that the battle was over. In no more than two minutes more than 50 had died. The Group’s entire force lay dead in the road or in the burning brush. Only five of The Cartel’s men – and one woman -- remained alive. The bodies of the rest of them were scattered around the trucks. Amazingly, none of the six survivors bore more than a grazing bullet wound or a few scrapes and bruises.
The Cartel survivors counted 35 of The Group dead. "They knew we were coming early and that we were coming with dozens of men," one of The Cartel men screamed at Cassie. "How did they know? We were supposed to ambush them. They knew. They ambushed us." The other survivors formed a circle around Cassie.
"Look," she replied. "We told them there was a delivery tomorrow and that we would have eight men here. We wanted them to come so that we could massacre them in revenge for Felipe and Antonio. Why they brought more men and why they were here before us I don't know. I have no idea."
"Who told them?"
"I did. At Domingo's instruction. Look." She pulled Adriana's cell phone from her pocket. "We had their code from the spy’s cell phone. And I used that code to tell them delivery tomorrow at 7 a.m. and we'd have eight men there to meet it." She turned the phone to them to show them the numbers. "That's what those numbers mean.”
"Let me look at that." One of the men grabbed the phone to stare at the numbers, hoping to decipher what Cassie had told them.
"We need to get back to the compound, report what happened and get men back here to remove our dead as soon as we can," one of the men pressed Cassie. "We can't have the police finding 50 dead bodies here. There's no one left to tell The Group what happened, so they won't be sending anyone out here for awhile."
"If the police knew about the place, you'd be right,” Cassie responded. "But they don't. And it’s isolated. That's why we use it. So we have time. Let's not panic."
“Twenty-five of our men are dead and we shouldn't panic? Do you think that there won't be hell to pay with Domingo. Heads are going to role, ma'am, and you were in charge. Yours might be the first."
"I did exactly what Domingo told me."
"You don't think that Domingo is going to take the blame himself, do you?"
Cassie was already on her own cell phone. "Domingo. We killed all thirty-five of The Group men who were here at the airstrip. But we lost 25 of our men. It was a brutal shootout."
"How could we lose so many men if we were waiting in ambush for them? And how did they know to bring so many?"
Everyone around Cassie could hear Domingo's wrath and waited for her response.
“Domingo,” Cassie took a deep breath.
“Their men were here before ours. They were waiting for us. I don't know how they knew. But they did.”
"Get your asses back here. I want to understand exactly how this could happen."
As angry as Domingo was when the six returned, he knew that they all needed rest after their ordeal. He called a meeting for nine that evening. Cassie went to bed after stripping off her body gear, showering and slipping on some boxer shorts and a t-shirt. It had gone wrong for Domingo, but his side had still won. She knew that he wasn't happy with her or anyone else. But Javier's side had been totally wiped out. She had to make sure that Domingo remembered that, too. All in all, the effects of the battle would be more devastating to Javier than to Domingo. The Cartel was larger than The Group and better able to absorb the losses. Not that the loss of 25 men wouldn't severely damage The Cartel’s operations.
Cassie was not sure for how long she had been asleep when she was awakened by someone shaking her. "What is it?" She looked at the clock. It was 5:30. “The meeting is not until nine.”
"Boss wants to see you." She recognized Diego. She could also see a second man standing in the doorway.
"Can't it wait until the meeting? And why did he send two of you?"
"I just deliver the message, ma'am,” Diego responded politely.
"All right." Cassie swung her legs off the bed. “Please wait outside and give me a minute to get dressed.”
“Sorry, ma'am,” Diego remained polite. “He said immediately. No delays.”
Cassie shook her head and walked barefoot out of the room, one man on each side of her.
She expected that they were going to Domingo's bedroom down the hall. He probably just needed a fuck before the meeting and certainly he did not have Adriana any longer as an option to satisfy that need. Inconsiderate of him, for sure. Maybe he'd settle for a blow job. That would be easier for her. She was not in the mood for sex. Or maybe he really was just concerned and wanted to make sure that she was all right. But why did he send two men to deliver that message and escort her to his room? After all, she knew where it was.
They walked past Domingo's bedroom and down the stairs. Maybe Domingo was in the kitchen or in his study because he couldn't sleep. Perhaps she wouldn't have to fuck him. Her pussy still hurt from her ordeal with Serge.
When they continued past the study and kitchen to the basement steps, Cassie’s heart started to race. "Where are we going?" she demanded.
The men grabbed her by her upper arms. "Room 6." Diego’s voice remained polite, but his grip was strong.
Cassie began to struggle. "No, you've made a mistake. That's not possible." The men gripped her arms harder and, after they reached the bottom of the first flight of stairs, they were forced to drag her down the second flight and the hall to Room 6.
As they entered the room, Cassie saw Domingo seated on a chair on one side of the room and the Musketeers seated on the other side, just as they were during Adriana’s interrogation. Two other men -- whom Cassie recognized as Domingo’s other torturers -- stood in the middle of the room, arms folded. One was wearing a hat and the other displayed an armful of tattoos. She didn't know their names.
She looked around to see if Adriana’s Torturer was also in the room. He was not. His absence gave Cassie no comfort, though. Domingo had used only one torturer on Adriana. Now he had two ready for her. Hat and Tattoos. She saw at the side of the room the rack used to destroy Adriana’s body. If she didn't wind up on the rack, Cassie knew, she would face an equally horrible fate in this room unless she could convince Domingo of her innocence.
Domingo excused the two men who had brought Cassie to the room. "I have some questions for you, Cassie," Domingo's voice was stern.
"Ask me anything. I know it didn't go as we had planned. But we everyone The Group brought there. Thirty-five of them. Not one escaped. The Group was hurt a lot more than we were. Our power over them is now even greater."
"Nice spin, Cassie. I tell you what. You explain to me why they had more men there than we had and why they were waiting for us, and I'll hire you as the head of my PR department. How did that happen?"
"I don't know. I texted them exactly what you told me. Thursday at 7 a.m. with eight men. You can check. I think Adriana’s phone is back in my room.”
"Cassie, I need to hear the truth right now."
"Why do you doubt me? You saw what they did to me? What are you saying?” Had Domingo so soon forgotten what The Group’s men had done to her?
Domingo glanced toward the two torturers. Without word or gesture, the men walked up to Cassie. Tattoo moved behind her, wrapped his arm around her neck and lifted her off the ground. Cassie tried to twist and kick, but this had no effect. Hat pulled her shorts down and threw them aside. Tattoo released his grip around Cassie’s neck and pushed her to the floor. Hat grabbed the sides of her t-shirt and pulled it off over her head.
In an instant, Cassie was completely naked. Hat tossed her shorts and shirt to the Musketeers, who examined them before Athos threw them under his chair. Tattoo carried Cassie under a set of cuffed chains hanging from the ceiling. Hat secured her wrists to the cuffs, leaving her hanging with her feet off the ground, her shoulders strained from her own weight. Tattoo raised her ankles and secured them to another set of cuffed chains hanging from the ceiling, behind those holding her wrists. Cassie saw that all six men in the room were staring at her naked, helpless, hanging body.
Hat picked up a screwdriver length taser and approached Cassie. “I've got the electricity covered,” Tattoo told him, showing him the device in his right hand; in his left hand, Tattoo held a billy club. [See Cassie Pic 5] “Why don't you use the iron? That’s always a nice complement to the electricity.”
"Cassie, you said that the men from The Group garroted and electrocuted you.” It seemed to Cassie that Domingo was even beginning to doubt this, despite being the one who found her in The Group’s torture chamber with the generator’s wires attached to her most sensitive parts. “If they really did and it wasn't just part of a story you made up with them, But they didn't leave any marks on your body..."
"How can you say such a horrible thing? I was near death when you found me. I couldn't have faked that. My body was shaking for a full day from the torture."
Domingo laughed. "You missed my point. I said that, even if The Group did torture you, and even if they tortured you severely, they didn't mark your body. So you could fully recover. I won't give you that chance. Unless I hear the truth. And, if the truth is what I think it is, then not even then."
Hat walked up to Cassie, now holding the hot metal poker that Tattoo had suggested he use.
"As you saw with Adriana, a hot iron can leave marks that never heal," Domingo stated the obvious. "Do you want your body ruined like Adriana’s was? Or even worse. Maybe, instead of torturing you to death, the worse torture for you would be to leave you alive and disfigured. So that the men who always admired your wonderful body now found it repulsive. What do you think? Which would you prefer?"
Cassie shook helplessly in her chains, her shoulders on fire from the strain of her weight and her mind on fire from the fear of the pain and disfigurement sure to come very soon.
Domingo walked up to the hanging Cassie, separated her legs and pushed the middle finger of his left hand up between them. "You are soaked, as I expected. I know. You will tell me that is a woman's defense mechanism when she is afraid. So that rape will not be so painful." He pulled his finger out and held it up to her to show her how wet it was, then rubbed it dry against Cassie's thigh. "But I think it may be you're wet because pain turns you on and you're as excited as you are scared." He took a few steps back, until he was standing behind Hat, who still held the hot iron. "In that case, perhaps you don't want to talk. Maybe you want to suffer."
"You are a sick man," Cassie shouted at Domingo. "You fuck me one day and then fuck me the next.”
"Cassie." Domingo grinned at her. "I am so much more than sick. I run the largest drug cartel in the country. A few days ago I tortured to death a beautiful young woman who used to screw me nearly as well and nearly as often as you did. A woman who also had a beautiful body and who, it turns out, was completely innocent. She was a loyal employee, just as she said she was. Not a spy like you. You think I worry about being sick? I haven't lost any sleep over what I had done to that woman, although I wish I still had her to fuck after you're gone. But I'll find many more beautiful women who are attracted to power. So let's get back to what's important right here and now. You have one chance to tell me the whole truth."
Domingo pulled Adriana's cell phone from his pocket and held it up. Cassie suddenly realized that the man who had taken it from her at the airstrip had never given it back to her. And had given it to Domingo, who no doubt had it checked by a tech expert. She had been so foolish to think that he would not. "Start with who you are really working for."
Cassie knew she had no choice but to tell him the truth. The whole truth. It would not save her. But it might provide her with a quicker and less painful death. And right now that seemed very important to her. As well as the best she could hope for.
"I don't work for you. You know that. I warned The Group how many men you would have and when they would arrive."
Domingo nodded toward Tattoo. She had almost forgotten him, focusing on the hot iron in Hat’s hand. Tattoo swung the billy club that he was holding hard into the back of Cassie’s thighs. She screamed as her mind blurred. She couldn't tell whether the blow had broken any bones, but it was hard enough that it might have.
Tattoo moved in front of Cassie, still holding the club. Without hesitation, he swung it hard into Cassie’s stomach, just below her ribs. She knew if he hit her ribs – and that’s where his next blow might be directed – it would easily break several that might puncture her lungs.
Cassie gasped for air. Before she could recover, Tattoo again moved behind her and swung the club against the sole of her left foot. A few more blows like that and she knew that she would have difficulty walking. But that meant little to her at the moment since she knew that Domingo was likely to make sure that she was no longer breathing before she had any need to walk again.
After a few minutes, Cassie recovered her breath enough to scream at Domingo. "Why? Why? I told you the truth. I'm telling you the truth. Everything!!"
"That was not for lying to me. That was for betraying me.” Domingo nodded toward Hat. “My turn now, sweetheart,” Hat smiled. He moved the hot iron against her left upper thigh and held it there for several seconds. Cassie screamed and shook her head violently as Hat moved the iron up to her stomach and pressed it into her just beneath the bruise from Tattoo’s billy club a few minutes earlier. Cassie’s cries continued until she ran out of breath and gasped desperately to refill her lungs.
“That is all for betraying me.” Domingo waited to speak until Cassie needed to gasp for more breath, providing a brief pause in her screams. “You were working for The Group?"
Cassie slowly shook her head. "No. I told them about your plans and told them to bring a lot of their men so that you would all kill each other and destroy the effectiveness of both organizations."
“Government,” Porthos shouted. “She must work for the government. She arranged for us to kill each other.”
Domingo looked at him, then back at Cassie. She nodded.
Domingo’s teeth clenched. “Milan and The Group are my rivals. But they are not government agents.” He stood and walked behind Cassie. A second later she felt the lash of a four-tailed studded whip against her back. Her screams became raspier and more painful, as her skin was torn away. A second blow left her able only to make gagging sounds as she tried to focus her eyes.
Domingo moved back in front of her. Cassie was still shrieking hysterically as Hat stood back to give Domingo room. “Now tell me the whole truth or the next two lashes will be across your breasts.”
Cassie took the deepest breath she had ever taken, and knew that it might be one of her last. "I work for MI-6. I'm a British agent.”
Domingo’s eyes opened wide and his jaw dropped. Given Cassie’s present situation, he didn't think that she would lie to him.
“You are fucking telling me that you are a British agent?”
“So that explains the accent. And that sob story about your murdered father?”
“A lie. Part of my background cover.”
“So what are you doing in my country?”
“I was loaned to your government’s anti-corruption task force to try to improve relations between the two countries – and to help with its problems controlling organizations like yours."
Domingo looked across at the Musketeers. "We have a problem. I thought she worked for The Group. That is why I had her brought down here. To torture her, kill her and leave her body on The Group's doorstep as a warning. But if she’s MI-6, I don't want the British government to come down on us. I don't want it sending more agents here.”
"So we do what we would do if she worked for The Group,” Aramis suggested, “but make it look like The Group did it to her. So Britain comes down on it and not us.”
“You must have spent all of the time I was just talking staring at her body,” Domingo screamed at him. “Did you hear her say that her job was to have us destroy each other? The two governments would rather have us fighting than have either of us in complete control. They want us both gone. And killing her would bring them down on both of us.”
“You're soft, Domingo. You've fucked her too many times. It’s gone to your head. To your upstairs head and your downstairs head,” Athos offered his opinion. “She’s just one agent. She was sent on a very dangerous mission. Britain loses agents all the time, I bet. Rather than cause them to send more, I think it will be a lesson to them to stay out. I say we treat her as we would any other spy. Like we did Adriana. No, worse. Adriana turned out to be innocent. This one is guilty as shit.”
Porthos, Hat and Tattoo all nodded their agreement. Cassie turned to Domingo, hoping that he would stand firm against their suggestions. But finally Domingo nodded, too. “All right. I defer to your judgment.”
"Nooooo, Domingo," Cassie screamed. For a few seconds it appeared she might be spared or even released. Now even her plan for a quick, painless death had been rebuffed in favor of a demise more painful than she could image.
Cassie saw Hat move behind her and return with a second hot iron. “This one will be for your ass when the time comes,” he grinned at her. She turned toward Tattoo to see that he was holding a small stun gun.
“In case your story about electric torture wasn't true, we want to make sure you still have a chance to experience it." Domingo's voice was cold. She knew that, after the challenge to his decision by the others, his position of power now depended upon making her suffer for what she had done.
Tattoo pushed the stun gun between Cassie's legs. She screamed and lurched forward to try to escape contact with it. This forced her body against the hot iron Hat was holding, burning her from two inches to one side of her belly button to two inches on the other side. She shrieked again and tried to pull herself away from the iron, but Tattoo pressed the stun gun against her buttocks, again forcing her body to jerk forward until it contacted the hot iron. Half a dozen red lines now crossed the front of her body, some deeper and redder than others.
Just as Tattoo again pushed the stun gun against her, to start the next round of back-and-forth with Hat’s iron, the door to the room suddenly burst open. Half a dozen armed men poured in, weapons drawn. Hat and Tattoo reached for their guns jammed into their waistbands and were immediately felled by automatic weapons fire unleashed by the men storming into the room. The Musketeers and Domingo raised their hands in surrender, and, a moment later, all four were cuffed and led away.
Three of her rescuers released Cassie’s wrists and ankles from the cuffs holding them and moved her to a chair, covering her with a blanket. She turned to see that the leader of the rescue team was her MI-6 superior -- the man who had sent her on this mission nearly a year earlier. "Why are you here? How did you know?" she asked weakly.
"The local task force notified us a few days ago that you might be in trouble. We had been monitoring your whereabouts with the tracking device in your hair extension. You didn't wear it to the airstrip the first time and we lost you.” Cassie remembered that the attachment had broken and she hadn't time to fix it before she needed to leave for the airstrip. And she couldn't keep anyone waiting on her breakthrough mission.
“That caused enough concern for me to fly in yesterday,” her superior continued. “We waited for word. We feared that you were a captive of one side or the other, that your identity had been discovered. We shuddered at the thought of your fate if that were the case, so we knew that we needed to move fast, but we didn't know where to move.”
Cassie stood up slowly, dropped the blanket and walked naked, shamelessly and with some pain to pick up her boxer shorts and t-shirt from under Athos’s chair. Her body ached tremendously, but it seemed that no bones were broken – at least no weight-bearing bones. She could feel the whip marks across her back and dreaded seeing what they looked like. She could see and feel the burns on the front of her body. But they hadn't damaged her breasts or her pussy. She had suffered similar wounds several years earlier when she had been captured on her first mission, and those had eventually healed. These should be no different, even if they would take a little longer to heal than the last ones.
Cassie stepped into her shorts and pulled her t-shirt over her head. They hadn't damaged her face, either. With clothes on, no one would even know she had been tortured. Of course, she hoped that, after enough time, no one would know even when her clothes were off.
“So how did you find me?”
"It wasn't any high tech tracking device,” her superior confessed. “"One of The Cartel men who brought you down here – I believe that his name is Diego -- is on the local’s payroll. He called to say you were in very grave trouble and that we needed to get to The Cartel compound as soon as we could. Cassie, I'm sorry that you paid such a high price, but you put a major dent in the two largest drug operations in the country. We'll get you to a hospital now to make sure you're all right – to make sure that you have no internal injuries."
Cassie shook her head. She had been captured and tortured by The Group. Then she had been captured and tortured by The Cartel. But not as badly – or terminally -- as Adriana had been. Of course, Adriana worked for a drug cartel, so that was nothing more than justice, even if she had been innocent of the charge for which she suffered so horribly. Cassie, in contrast, worked for MI-6. And had posed as a double agent, even a triple agent, for two rival drug organizations when she hadn't ever worked for either of them. She wondered if any MI-6 agent had ever done anything like that before.
"No," Cassie replied with a wry smile. "I promise that I'll check myself in tomorrow. But right now I'm going to a nice hotel to sleep in a bed that isn't located in a drug lord's compound. It's been a long time since I had that luxury."
Cassie knew that she would not be able to work again until she had fully healed, and that she faced several painful months of recovery from injuries that she received during her spy work for MI-6 -- spy work that had nearly killed her.
Even now, she couldn't wait to get back to work.