Author’s note: The following story takes place in an alternate history of a vaguely Napoleonic setting. Body modification for the sake of air travel is at the center, along with other “methods” of travel and warfare.
It was midday in the city. A carrier pigeon descended from the clouds, over the expanse of buildings and streets which formed the organs and arteries of a drab and gray organism. The Grande Cittie of Brinnsmore was merely grand in size, but still, it was the capital of the small nation Carrow. The pigeon continued its journey, lowering incrementally over the Chimneytops District, a dense neighborhood of slums and gutters.
Walkways had been built overhead for more genteel people to conduct their business. The pigeon made a quick change in direction and flew westward-but in that moment, just below was the Rowan residence. It was a dingy little place with barely enough room for the family, and hardly enough for today’s guests.
Clara Rowan nervously munched on her birthday cake. It was exciting to have one, especially during the rationing; it had been ages since she tasted something sweet. Her family sat and watched her awkwardly, they all knew the test was about to happen, but no one could guess at the outcome.
It felt strange, everyone was watching her, and there was no real celebration, just the cake. She finished and pushed her plate away. The ministry officials waiting in their quaint family room injected her twice and waited to see the results.
One of the injection points turned blue. “Mom?” It was happening.
“She needs to come with us,” said one of the officials. Her mother wept.
“Mom!” They grabbed Clara and half-dragged her from her home.
“Dear,” her mom cried out. “You’re helping our nation! You’ll be a hero!”
“I don’t want to be one!!” Clara strained against the hold they had on her, as they lifted her into a wagon. Her hands were bound to a ring in the floorboards. The last she saw of her father was a flitting image of a Ministry agent slipping him a thick envelope. He looked to be counting what was inside it. The horses began clopping down the street as her neighbors stared from their windows.
Clara shuddered. She knew about the Lift Crews, but never fathomed becoming one of them. She looked at her shivering arms and legs, worried that the rumors were true. The Air Ministry was mum about those things.
She asked, “Do I need to be tied down?” The female Ministry agent nodded. “Will this hurt?”
“Only if you struggle, dear,” said the agent. “From what I’ve seen, it’s not been too bad.”
“I didn’t want this.” Clara shook her head, trying not to cry.
“Yet… Here we are. The nation needs women like you more than ever. If it helps, I’m grateful for people like you.”
Clara squinted at the uniformed woman. “Who are you?”
The uniformed woman smiled. “Agent 23. Clara, I can tell you’re scared. Will it help to know that I’m assigned to you? I guess you could say that I’ll be your representative during the conversion process.”
“I don’t know… A little. The girls in Lift Crews, do they… you know, die?” Clara was shaking noticeably.
Agent 23 turned her head to the looming buildings they passed. “We all do. You. Me. My mother, and yours. We all pass away when it’s our time. If you’re asking whether your new lot in life will put you into harm’s way. It’s the opposite. Devulcanization will make you impervious to most anything. In some ways,” she turned to look at Clara again, “I wish it were me; I’d have gladly undergone it.”
They continued to pass through the crowded city streets. Those who recognized the purpose of their trip saluted the wagon. Buildings loomed overhead, and it seemed at every turn, someone was staring at them pass. Clara wasn’t used to the attention. Eventually they reached a gated estate. “This is it,” said Agent 23. Clara was now in a huge garden, she had never seen anything like this.
Shrub and tree were perfectly manicured. Colorful flowers effused around her, and she could smell the wonderful aromas wafting past her. Guards were stationed along the walls of the garden. When the gates shut behind them, she unlatched Clara’s clasp to the floorboard of the cart, but her hands were still bound. “I’m not going to run,” she said to the Ministry agent.
“We’re careful here.” Agent 23 put her hand on Clara’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, but you WILL be restrained until the proper time.” With her other hand, she clutched the chain between Clara’s hands and led her to the doors of the mansion. The doors opened as they approached, and two agents similarly greeted Agent 23 with ankara escort a salute. “Agents 37 and 55 will get you sworn in and settled for the evening. The process begins tomorrow. I shall be there when it’s time, Clara.”
“Th-thank you.” She turned to the two new agents. “Pleased to meet you,” and curtsied as best she could. Whereas Agent 23 was a short, scrappy woman with short, scrappy hair, these two were tall and broad. Agent 37 was a woman with blonde hair pulled up in tight braids. Agent 55 had short brown hair, flecked with gray and mutton chops that ran down the line of his jaw. They looked like honest, dangerous people.
“Miss,” said Agent 37 as she took Clara’s bound hands and led her inside. Agent 55 took up the rear.
Clara was beginning to feel genuine fear. “If… If it please you ma’am. What sort of place is this?” The broad woman simply looked over her shoulder, yet continued to walk, wordlessly.
Clara could see plainly the opulence of her surroundings. Gilded furniture, massive oil portraits and landscapes. They passed through a long hall, lined by windows which looked out over the gardens. At the far end, Clara could hear yelling, and clanging sounds coming from open doors. Passing though, she saw two people in fencing gear lunging at each other with épées. Their movements were elegant and savage.
“TOUCH!” A woman’s voice rang through the large chamber. The two masked figures shook hands and bowed. One of them turned to walk in their direction, hesitated a moment, then resumed their approach. The mask was removed and locks of black hair tumbled down around her striking face. There was a shock of white hair descending from her left temple. She handed her gear to her fencing partner. “Our new recruit, I take it?”
“Yes, madame,” responded Agent 55, curtly.
“State your name and residence.”
“Clara… Clara Barton from The Chimneytops… madame.”
“Don’t you mean UNDER them?” Her voice dripped with privilege. “This way!” She was led behind the woman to an office, who neatly sat behind her desk and opened a folio. “Miss Rowan, you are aware that your nation is at war, yes?”
“Yes madame, with the-“
“And you have passed one of our tests?”
“She gone blue, madame,” said Agent 37.
“Very well!” The woman made a mark on a form. “Miss Clara Rowan of Brinnsmore. Do you…” She cleared her throat. “…swear solemnly, and truly declare, that you will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Royal Personage, the Grand Duchess Mar Carrow-Galvin, and that you will, duty bound, faithfully defend Her Person, and Dignity against all enemies, and will observe and obey all orders of Her Person and of the admirals and officers set over you?”
“Yes?” Clara had no idea what was just asked of her. “Oh! Yes, madame?”
“Welcome then, Lift Cadet Rowan, to Her Royal Air Ministry. I am Dame Barstowe. I trust the journey has brought you in good health?”
“In a manner, madame.” Clara meekly held her bound hands.
“We are careful here, Cadet.” The Dame flit her finger at Agent 55. “Lodgings and food. May your evening be restful, Cadet. ‘Tis a long day ahead.” Clara was yanked from the room. As they headed in a new direction, she looked back and saw another girl being led into the office. She wondered how many girls were going to be a part of this, and hoped at least one of them would be pleasant towards her.
Supper was taken in her quarters, which were small and meager. Her meal was much the same. The silence made her the most anxious, nothing but her own thoughts to comfort or antagonize her. Thankfully her hands had been uncuffed, but a manacle was now attached to her ankle. She finished eating her oats and beans and shoved the plate through the door slot as instructed. Her uncle had been in the jail before, and had described it so.
“If this is meant to be an honor… I don’t know the meaning of the word,” she said to the walls. Her mind went through the tales she’d heard, and though living on an airship sounded fantastic the stories were… troublesome, to say the least.
Some mentioned stretching girls’ bodies to monstrous lengths. Another mentioned inflated their… breasts to huge proportions. They sounded insane. One boy in the schoolyard even mentioned chopping all their limbs off, but that seemed more like a Krampus Tale a mother would tell a rambunctious daughter in a desperate attempt to shut them up.
Still… Flying. Seeing the world the way the birds do. That was something she never imagined. Then why was she locked up like a prisoner? Eventually sleep took her.
There was ankara genç escort no knock; the door’s lock clacked loudly as it opened. “Cadet! Wake up!” Clara pulled the sheet over her face reflexively. “We have a long day, and I’d like to unlock you. I need convincing though.”
“All right… I’m awake.” Clara rubbed her eyes.
“I’ll need more convincing than that. You’re in Her Highness’s Service now!” Agent 23 leaned against the door frame and folded her arms.
“I’m NEW to this.” Clara tossed off her sheets and stood in her bed clothes. “Will I have a uniform though? Like yours?” Agent 23 smirked. “You’ll HAVE one, but it will be quite different. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure those things are sorted out. What WE need, is someone I can trust not to bolt at the next chance. Can I have your word?” She held out a hand.
“I-I know I don’t have a choice in the matter. And we’re at war. You’d… probably hunt me down I suppose?”
“You’re right, and you’ve answered all of the questions I shouldn’t need to ask.” Agent 23 unlocked the steel cuff at Clara’s ankle. “Keep this up and you’ll be a blighted admiral soon.”
Clara was relieved to have finally been freed of a restraint. “What do I do?”
“Look at you! A question I was going to answer anyway! There’s hope for you. First is breakfast and tea. After that we begin with some tests and um, procedures.” Agent 23 saw the fear in Clara’s eyes. “Look, I promised you, I’ll be there every step. I’ve seen this process many times. They all live through it just fine. Can you trust me?”
“I’ll… take your word for it.”
“That’s our girl. And I will.” Agent 23 put a hand on her back. “Breakfast first!”
Supper had been bleak. Breakfast was just so. Oats and beans. The tea was heavenly though. Clara had tasted tea on occasion and found it to be rather bitter; this time, she sensed spices and hints of fruit and wanted no cream or sugar to adjust it to her palette.
“Good cuppa, eh?” Agent 23 smiled.
“Fantastic! I didn’t know tea could be this wonderful on its own!”
“The perks of being in the Air Ministry, Cadet. We get the best of SOME things.” The agent leaned back and sipped hers.
Clara looked around. There were other agents at mess, each paired up with plain-clothed women. “23, are those all Lift Girls too?”
Agent 23 made a sweep of the room. “Classified, but I’ll let you think what you want.” She winked. “Curious though, since the draft, you’re one of the few who have complied so easily.”
“I just sort of assumed… I have no choice in the matter.”
“That’s correct. Once again, you are passing ALL of my tests.”
They all seemed to be in the same position as her. Mussed hair, tired faces and ratty bedclothes. At least she wasn’t alone in that.
“ROWAN!” Agent 37’s voice boomed across the mess hall.
Agent 23 perked up and set her tea down. “That’s us, Cadet. Follow me.”
Clara rose and followed. She made sideways glances at the other women who had stopped eating to watch her procession. One of them, a blonde, gave her a thumbs up and a smile. Clara smiled back.
They traveled down a series of stairs and into what looked like a dungeon. It was cold, dark and lonely. Clara’s hackles were raised at the bleak interior. She was led to a chamber with a cruciform bed with straps. A man stood off to the side, fiddling with an apparatus of some kind. He turned as he heard them approach. He was wearing slacks and a dress shirt with his sleeves rolled up. He wore a smile, and a neatly trimmed mustache.
“Ah, you must be Clara!” The man looked somewhat friendly, but Agent 23 sneered at him. “Sorry! Sorry, Lift Cadet Rowan. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I am Simon Hariotte, Surgeon on The Eridanus.” He bowed with a slight flourish. “Agent, I trust we are ready?”
“One moment.” She turned to the frightened young woman. “Clara, once again, I’m your guide. You trust me, right?”
“I think so. I’m still… scared.” Her body was shaking.
Agent 23 called out, “Master Surgeon, how much pain, and how long will it last?”
He looked to his instruments and sorted them casually. “Oh! Well most cadets feel some sensations that are painful for the first few minutes, and then it’s… actually pleasurable. From what I hear.”
“I… don’t have a choice.” Clara walked to the bed and touched the wood.
“Please disrobe,” said the surgeon.
Clara looked around nervously. It was just the three of them. She’d seen a doctor before and had been asked the same of him. She was asked to lie on the table and was strapped down. Her antalya escort heart was fluttering at this point.
“We’ll make this pleasant. A little ether?” He held a rag near her face and she suddenly felt like earth was embracing her in a warm hug. “Yes… Our old friend, Mr. Ether. I’ll give you a moment.”
Clara had never experienced something so transcendent. All cares had sloughed away from her, and her body was awash with pleasure. The restraints no longer felt uncomfortable… They were like tiny hugs for her wrists and ankles.
“Feeling alright, Clara?” The voice was a distant echo.
“Fuck yes. I love youuuuuu… What’s your name?”
“Agent 23. Do you feel this?”
Clara watched the woman slap her legs and her arms. “Nooooo, I don’t feel any of it. Wowwowwww…”
The first injection went in. Then the second… third and fourth.
She could sense the warmth in her torso, enveloping her like a hug. She was nude in front of these strangers and the feeling of discomfort and modesty left her. She laughed. It was weird and manic, but she couldn’t stop. The doctor approached and made an incision under her right breast. A surgical hose with a small attachment was inserted and pushed inside. It was painful, but her addled mind told her to ignore it. The same process was performed on her other breast, and then she watched as her breasts began to swell.
Clara laughed at how silly this was, but the feeling was surreal. They slowly continued to increase in size. Bigger than her mum’s… Bigger than Mrs. Taveshly from the baker’s. She couldn’t tell if this was a hallucination or not.
A device was wheeled in front of her… Some enormous clamp with a blade. She laughed at how fucking huge it was. It descended upon her hip and she felt the press of the table beneath her. The slight pressure was met with that of the blade above, and then they met. Her left leg had been removed at a 45 degree angle and she laughed! Her leg was unstrapped and removed. It hung in the surgeon’s arms like a limp noodle.
She gawked as the machine was moved to her right hip. The same sensations followed and the machine made a loud noise as the blades heavily met. Again she felt nothing, but the chemicals invading her system allowed her to watch it happen. She cackled maniacally at how invincible she felt in that moment. There was no blood, no pain.
“Doing well, Clara?” Once again the male voice seemed to come from nowhere.
“Thissss is fucking… amazinngnnggg…”
“Proceed,” came a female voice.
Clara yelled back, “Fucking proceeeeeeed, hahaaaa!”
The machine was wheeled to her right shoulder, and she had an up close look at it this time. The heavy, pneumatic blade descended on her, and it slowly pushed into her shoulder. It looked like fresh dough. Her right arm was simply detached. The blade lifted and the arm was taken away. To her drug induced mind, it hilariously wobbled around as it left her field of view.
Finally, the machine was moved to her left shoulder. “Goooooood bye arrrrrrrm,” she said. The blade descended and just as before, it sunk into her pliable flesh. She looked back to her breasts. They were now so large that she was unable to see the rest of her limbless body. “Wowwwww…” Her torso was writhing with the sensations. She’d felt sexual arousal before, but nothing like this.
Freed of limbs, she felt herself rising off of the table. “Restrain her!” Hands were on her and she loved every moment of it. “Never mind,” came the female voice. Clara finally understood it to be Agent 23. “I’ll use my belt.”
It was tied around her waist. “I’ll take her to the recovery room.”
Clara floated from the table, and was now wafting in the air, her enormous breasts stuck straight up, blocking her vision. She felt the tug on the belt as Agent 23 walked out of the operating room. Back up the stairs… Down the halls, and again into her cell.
The dream had been terrifying, and Clara didn’t quite know what to make of it, until she finally awoke completely. That was the same moment she noticed her gigantic, weightless breasts. She tried to touch one and wasn’t quite able to. She glanced over to see nothing there. “No! No!!”
Agent 23 stormed in. “Cadet, you’re awake!”
“What-What happened to me?! Why? Why?” Clara started to sob.
Agent 23 ran over and put Clara’s head in her lap. “This is the sacrifice we have asked of many women. You are also one of the bravest I have ever met. Shhhh. Calm down.”
Clara breathed heavily and her face was clenched in sorrow. “I’m… never going home am I?”
“Someday. When this is over.” Agent 23 stroked her hair. “You need to be strong for me, my dear. Can you do that?”
“I don’t know, I don’t know.”
“How about this. Do you want to meet your partner? I picked her for you.”
“Is… she nice?”
“Cadet, she’s a peach.”