Ocean, Chapter I

From: Caithness



This is a distant-future science fiction story. It involves a teenage boy and a young woman in her early twenties, and although no explicitly sexual relations are involved, there exists an element of erotic tension in the boy's mind that is manifested physically in the story. There are also some off-screen F/f references.

Be forewarned: It is L - O - N - G. At more than 40,000 words, it is technically a novella-length piece.

Be forewarned: There is considerable emphasis on the science fiction aspects of the story. This story is an attempt to write in the spirit of a Robert Heinlein juvenile, perhaps the spanking novel RAH never got to write. The spanking action is widely spaced throughout the story, including entire chapters with no spanking action at all. If this is not your thing, do not bother going further.

You may distribute or archive this story without permission, as long as it is reproduced unaltered (well, grammatical corrections OK!) and in its entirety.


Upon completing their program at the Starfarer's school at age fifteen, exceptional students are selected to spend a year on a colony world, to see how they adapt to local culture. Nathaniel was the top of his Starfarer's class, and was awarded his dream assignment to a colony world on the frontier of human-explored space. He will meet his greatest challenge, though, in the demands of the harsh, inhospitable colony world: Ocean...

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Ocean, Chapter 1: Tank (F/m-teen, Non-con, SF, Novella)

Nathaniel's muscles burned with lactic acid. Each stroke of his arms and kick of his legs felt like it was the last before the fabric of his muscles was pulled from bone. His vision was starting to tunnel in, tinged by blackness on the edge. When he could not take another stroke, his head broke the surface and he gasp for breath, only to take in a mixture of brine and air. He coughed violently, gasp again--this time carefully synchronizing his gulps of air with the waves--and submerged. He pulled is arms, and kicked. In the murk ahead, he saw the faint lime-green luminescent outline of the platform. Four meters...Pull, kick...Two meters...Pull, kick. Touch. He burst through the surface and sucked in air savagely. He could care less how much water he inhaled now. He only cared about the chronometer display on the platform wall: 00:29:48.45.

"Goddamn," came out of his mouth more as a cough than a word. "Goddamn," he said again, this time to clarify.

"Need a hand?" Abby shouted down to him from the control mezzanine, but the artificially generated waves were already beginning to dissipate.

"I did it!"

"Yes, you did. Now, are you going to drown as an encore?"

"Nope," he said up to Abby with a grin.

Nathaniel slipped low into the water, feeling its icy chill pull the heat away from his burning muscles. Then, in a strong kick, he launched himself toward, then up onto, the ladder. As he pulled himself up the ladder, he could feel the yoke of Ocean's 1.42 Earth Standard Gravity returning, like a lead-lined lab coat.

He retrieved the towel he had carefully left for himself on the platform, and started up the next ladder to Abby's control station for the Tank. He paused at the top to slowly turn his head and scan the interior of the dome that contained the Open Water Simulation Tank. Spotlights cast patches of illumination on the interior the dome.

"I did it," he said more quietly this time, more for himself than to Abby.

"Yes, you did," Abby echoed. "Not bad, kid, not bad," she said with a wink and grin.

"Now I can make the 'graphers."

"Well, I would make sure you could repeat that performance, on demand." Abby was always a check on Nathaniel's enthusiasm.

"Yeah, yeah, but I did it. Once. If I can do it once, I can do it a thousand times. That's how physics works."

"Oh, it's physics, is it?" Abby raised an eyebrow.

Abby was a grad student in kinesiology. She ran the Tank in the evening to support her thesis research. "This is the sixth night in a row you have been out here, right?"

"Yeah, I've been shaving off time every night, and I did not want to stop. I have this all plotted on my tablet, I can show you."

"That's alright, the proof is in the numbers," she said with a nod toward the chronometer. "But how did you swing this in your schedule?"

"Oh, well, yeah I have been putting in a little overtime. But I scheduled the Tank time through the proper channels and all."

"I know, but what does your Super think about you cheating your schedule? Who is he, anyway?"

"Uh, it's 'she.' I've got Sarah, and she doesn't know, doesn't need to know." Nathaniel knew Sarah would be distinctly unhappy about his regular late night cram sessions to complete his learning modules.

"Careful, Nat," Abby chided. "On Ocean, everyone finds out everything."

Not surprising, Nathaniel thought, given the colony population numbered only a few thousand inhabitants, spread out over a dozen inflatable platforms that comprised an artificial archipelago floating in a world-spanning ocean. The founders must have been a highly creative bunch, Nathaniel often mused, naming the world "Ocean," officially replacing the Starfarer's Register designation for the planet: HHW-2324.3.

"Well, let's hope she doesn't find out, because Sarah is a stickler for schedules," Nathaniel said, continuing under his breath,"...like a lot of other people out here."

She was indeed. When Nathaniel was assigned to Sarah, her first order of business in functioning as his Supervisor was to sit down with him and plan out a detailed schedule of his classroom hours, study period, chores around the hab, and so on. She was willing to accommodate his preferences for when he did what and where, as long as he did not skirt responsibilities and ensured a good night's sleep.

Finishing off a last year of secondary school was emphatically not what Nathaniel had in mind when he shipped out to Ocean for his Year Out. He and his best friend Simon had graduated top of their class from the Starfarer's School on Earth, and had the assignment of their choice. Ocean was among the farthest out of the colony worlds, way out on the rim of human-occupied space. The world in and of itself did not terribly interest him, but its proximity to the Frontier certainly did. A good performance here, and he was prime material for crew on the next deep space survey ship headed Outbound. A seat on the only ships that do real exploring: surveying promising Systems identified by the robotic precursors, first landings, first contact...all by the time he was seventeen years old!

But that would be two years in the future. For now, everything hinged on a good performance in his Year Out, the capstone for a brilliant career in the Starfarer's School program. The Year Out was a chance to see how well students could perform field work: doing real science, coping with being away from home, adapting to local culture, customs, food, whatever. No problem, he and Simon thought.

Abby was waiting for an answer.

"Well, we can hope that Sarah does not find out about my Tank time, at least until am long off this rock...or drop, as the case may be," Nathaniel swaggered as he looked out past the Tank through a section of dome material made from transparent sheet and gazed at the real Ocean.

"Not that this is a bad place, mind you," he backpedaled as both of Abby's eyebrows went up.

An enormous wave crashed against the barrier that separated Ocean from the artificial training Tank that could simulate the full spectrum of open-water conditions: from the usual bone-crunching waves, to the really serious, gale-force stuff.

Abby was not about to let an off-world juvenile disparage her home world.

"You get into the 'graphers, you'll get to find out what Ocean is all about. Swimming with Snarks."

Graphers: Oceanographers. The only real job title worth having on Ocean. This was the title he was going to have to earn if his Year Out was going to go as planned.

Oceanographers, of course, were the individual researchers who studied Ocean, the world and its indigenous inhabitants. They took superalloy bathyscaphs to the bottom of ultra-deep trenches, trying to identify the bottom-feeders of the food chain. They coursed though through canyons in high-speed mini-subs, pursuing Krakens. And they swam with the Snarks, the 20-m-long carnivores that sat in a very well entrenched position on the top of Ocean's food chain. Snarks were very, very smart sharks. Why did they need to be so smart, so fast, so big, though, if they had no natural predators? Why their elaborately evolved defense mechanisms--with which Oceanographers had became painfully acquainted from one nasty encounter after the other, sometimes with loss of life--if they lack predators? Why where Snarks so smart, so fast, so big, unless there was something else down there, something not yet seen? Questions you could spend a profitable year chasing, if you could qualify to be an Oceanographer.

"Well, right now, I've got to swim myself back to my hab and plunge into a module I'm only about halfway through, and I have a midterm exam tomorrow!" Nathaniel said as he toweled off his head and neck, more vigorously than he needed to--he was trying to warm up. The Tank was usually at 15 C, which was only representative of the maximum equatorial surface temperatures on Ocean during the orbital summer, but a more realistic temperature for simulating Ocean would have resulted in hypothermia in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.

"Ouch! Gonna be a late one for you too," Abby said as she powered down the controls.

Nathaniel had begun to shiver uncontrollably and knew he had to get changed. He walked a few paces behind a translucent privacy screen, still well within earshot of Abby. He pealed off his skin suit and pulled the towel from side to side across his back and backside. He stepped out of the skinsuit, now a mound of wet, shear fabric at his feet.

"'Burning the midnight oil,' I think is the old Earth expression," Abby said loudly, so Nathaniel could hear from behind the screen.

"Yeah," Nathaniel replied as he jumped on one foot and tilted his head, trying to get the water out of his middle ear.

"Well, just remember that your academics and your Super's evaluation count just as much as your Tank times in the application," Abby hollered over the screen as she collected her research materials and stuffed them into her knapsack.

"Yeah, yeah," Nat said, and slipped into his fleecy training suit. He collected his wet skinsuit from the floor and his tablet and stuffed them into his pack.

It was representative of Ocean's collective ethic that, in order to qualify for the Oceanographers, you had to display a level of physical performance that would boarder on the extreme back on Earth. Never mind that, on a real Ocean expedition, you would be dead a half-dozen different ways if you wound up in the water without an environmental survival suit. Hypothermia, drowned under 5-m waves, eaten by a Snark. Never mind that most Oceanographers work in deep water where, if you found yourself in the water without an atmospheric-pressure suit, you would be loony from narcosis, and even if you could make your way to the surface, your blood would boil with dissolved nitrogen. Never mind. Ocean was a tough world, and demanded tough inhabitants. And the 'graphers where the sturdiest of the bunch.

As with every colony world, the local color could always be traced back to the founders. The consortium that funded the original Ocean colonizing expedition had adopted some credo that was probably trendy at the time--this was five decades ago, before Nat's parents were born--which basically boiled down to the tired mantra that "technology had made humanity weak," and that a full spectrum of mental and physical challenges were necessary to keep us fully human. This was reflected in the culture and customs on Ocean in so many ways that Nathaniel could pass a boring lecture by just trying to catalogue them. The lectures themselves, for example, were a completely outdated mode of education on Earth, having long been replaced by individual sims that worked simultaneously on various levels of conscious and subconscious information processing. But not on Ocean; classes were taught with a teacher at a board in front of a room of students. No jack-in sims, not even full sensory holographic projections. Nothing. Just a teacher and stylus at a board, reasoning everything out from scratch. Quaint. Of course, the lectures were recorded and could be fully accessed afterward. Nathaniel rarely needed to, however, because he had mastered most of the course material before he ever shipped out from Starfarer's School. The only topics he was weak on, understandably, were the details of Ocean's exquisitely balanced ecology, which was the subject of tomorrow's quiz, and tonight's independent study module. By Nathaniel assessment, the study modules were, of course, obscenely low-tech, with large portions of just pure text!

As he an Abby parted ways and he headed back to his residence habitat, he recollected again just how badly things had gone for him since he and Simon had arrived. They jumped into the Ocean System and then dropped down from orbit with a routine supply shipment, presenting themselves to the colony Administration with great aplomb. The new wonder-boys from the School had arrived! And with perfect timing, the colony assistant director had informed them. They were just in time for the quarterly tryouts for the Oceanographers, which was, of course, the assignment they came to Ocean to accept. It was just a matter of reviewing their course transcripts--flawless--a physical exam--flawless--a checkout on standard control equipment--Simon and Nathaniel would have passed this exam when they were eight years old--and an Ocean open-water certification test. Should not be a problem, Nat recalled thinking. He was a good swimmer and fully checked out on shallow water diving techniques. But when he saw the Tank for the first time, his stomach lurched. Doing 1500 m in 30 standard minutes should not be a problem, he thought, but in 1-2 m white-capped waves was another matter entirely. They had only scant days to practice before the tryouts, and neither Simon nor Nathaniel were making the mark. Hopefully the pressure of the real tryout would push them to peak performance.

On the day of the tryout, they both started out strong, but after inhaling what felt like three consecutive lung-fulls of icy saltwater, Nathaniel went into a near seizure that made the lifeguards--one of whom was Abby--consider pulling him out. Simon, however, performed brilliantly, only missing the target time by about 20 seconds. Given he was still "slagged" after traveling 230 light-years, the admissions panel decided that coming in only 20 seconds off target was acceptable. Nathaniel did finish the course. In 00:34:05.23. Sorry, kid, but tryout again next quarter.

Simon shipped out the next day to the research vessel "Shakelton" in the South Polar Regions.

On the same day, Nathaniel showed up for school, tablet and stylus in hand.

The idea was that Nathaniel would spend the next quarter year brushing up on the local ecology by completing the last term of the normal secondary school program. In principle, he would fit right in, since he was the same age, in standard years, as the Ocean kids in his class. Then, provided he could pull his butt though the Tank in under thirty minutes, he would be off to join Simon doing fieldwork and then bring his friend up to speed on what he had learned.

He was assigned a Supervisor, a "Super," just like most of the other kids on Ocean. Like all colony worlds, most children on Ocean were born ex-utero, so the fact that Nathaniel was there without his parents did not make him unique. Once kids reached twelve or thirteen standard years, they were weaned away from the nannies and the nursery, and expected to live up to the responsibilities of adulthood. The best way to do that was to pair kids up with a young adult that would simply set a roll model. The Supervisor, as he understood it, was more like a big brother or sister than a parent or guardian. They were only five to seven years older than the kids they supervised, and they were supposed to identify with you, to be sympathetic. Follow in your Super's footsteps, and by the time you were sixteen or seventeen, you were a full citizen and out on your own. This was how colony worlds worked; you grew up fast.

As he boarded the cable car that took him from the Tank back to his habitat, he thought about Sarah, the Supervisor he had been assigned to. She was probably twenty-two or twenty three, and just starting postgraduate studying in Engine Mechanics. Nathaniel could appreciate the demands that would make on her time. He knew his own mastery of Quantum Gravatonics would not come until he had long, lonely years between the stars to devote to intensive and uninterrupted study. But for now, he had to get that seat on a Ship heading Outbound. Learning QG would come later...

He tossed his bag in one corner of the cable car and plopped into the low couch in the other corner. No one else was in the car, he was delighted to see, so he could spend the five minute ride home the way he liked to: with his face plastered to the window like a tourist. He cupped a hand over his forehead to block out the single dull light in the car, and stared out over the vast, unending ocean. Ink black water leapt up toward the cable car, bursting into a spray at wave's peak and, occasionally, misting the window for a few seconds before the shrieking wind striped the drops away. The car occasionally rocked as the winds shifted, but it mostly kept a constant list of about twenty degrees. Already in his short stay on Ocean, Nathaniel had seen the entire cable car transport system between the various habitats shut down twice due to inclement weather. Surely, Nathaniel thought, they could come up with a more reliable means to move the few kilometers between the floating habs, but the exact solution escaped his exhausted mind. He thought he had better de-focus for these few minutes, in light of the long night of study ahead of him.

The grind and bump of the cable car hitting the station jolted him out of his light reprieve. "Time to get to work," Nathaniel thought. The corridor leading to Sarah's apartment was empty--the hab really had no nightlife, nothing like the dorms back at Starfarer's. Nathaniel slowly opened the door and cautiously listened for any sound of activity. Delighted, Nathaniel concluded that Sarah was not yet home, and could discreetly dispose of the wet skinsuit and towel without having to hide them until later. For now, he tossed them out of his bag into his bedroom, and headed for the shower. The alkaline crust left behind by the Ocean water was starting to itch.

"Ok, a few more minutes of mental vegetation, then gotta hit the mod," Nathaniel thought as he stepped out of his fleece trainer and into the shower in one continuous movement. The scalding hot shower felt wonderful, as he never really warmed up on his own after a swim.

After five minutes in the shower, he turned off the tap and retrieved a bath towel. For the second time in the space of a half an hour, he vigorously rubbed himself down. As he opened the bathroom door, he noticed additional lights in the living room had been turned on.

He did not see Sarah until he turned to go into his bedroom. She was standing in the doorway to his room, with his wet skinsuit in one hand, wet towel in the other.

"Uh oh," Nathaniel said to himself. "Not good," he muttered under his breath, cursing himself for not disposing of the suit and towel as soon as he got home.

"Nat, I thought you were explicitly instructed not to train in the Tank until you were done with this week's module." Sarah was looking back and forth at the suit and towel before setting her dark brown eyes on him. Her dark hair was matted against her forehead. She had probably spend the day slumped over her lab equipment, Nathaniel concluded.

"Uh, yeah, but I can finish the mod tonight. No problem for the quiz tomorrow." Nathaniel tried to sound confidently nonchalant. Sarah gave him a long look, and slowly turned her head as her eyebrows raised a notch.

Nathaniel slipped past Sarah as she walked out of his room to the laundry station with his suit and towel in hand. He pulled his bedroom door shut and went to his closet. He replaced the bath towel around his waist with pajama bottoms. He did not use the pajama tops, but instead just pulled on a clean t-shirt as Sarah gently reopened the door into his bedroom without knocking. Nathaniel was glad he had dressed quickly.

"But it is already 22h now, Nat. 'Tonight' is only two more hours," she said.

Sarah was not unreasonable about curfew, but she did expect "lights out" by midnight, and had patiently explained her reasons to Nathaniel. Sarah had been convinced by the mountain of studies suggesting that adolescents who get any less than eight hours of sleep per night were just compromising their heath and ability to concentrate, and were not gaining a moment of "extra" time by cheating on sleep. The fact that Ocean had a 22 standard hour day meant that midnight to 7h local time was really only six and a half hours of sleep. "You can train all you want but you are never going to make the Oceanographer's team if you make yourself sick from sleep depravation," her usual explanation went. Given the exasperation evident on her face, Nathaniel figured he was in for the same lecture tonight.

"It will be OK...seriously. I can catch up on my rest over the Break. I got all the way through school pulling all-nighters." Nathaniel was trying every tact he could to allay Sarah's displeasure.

"Not here you are, young man." Sarah clearly was not going to be put off.

"Look, I'll finish the module in a couple hours and then be in bed by midnight. A quick review in the morning and I'll be 'Good to go' for the quiz."

Sarah ignored his protest and picked up his tablet from the small desk in his bedroom. She inspected the vertical bar graphs in the lower left corner of the display, the performance indicators from his learning module. Nathaniel looked down, as if studying the pattern of carpet at his feet, knowing he had a good six to eight hours of work ahead of him.

"Yeah, it is going to be a late one," he thought, but he had made the qualification time! Nothing else mattered now!

Sarah looked up from his tablet and locked his eyes with a cold stare.

"Nathaniel, there is no way you are going to be competent for the quiz after a few more hours of work. No, I don't think you will be writing the exam tomorrow."

Nathaniel took a moment to register.

"But...I have to!" he stuttered.

"No, I'm going to explain to Elizabeth that you procrastinated finishing your module until it was too late, and that you will come in to write it over the Break..."

Nathaniel was having a hard time processing what she was saying. He just made the qualification time for the 1500 m Open Water Certification, and now Sarah was going to compromise his academic standing. "How could she?" he thought.

"Oh, Sarah, please," Nathaniel cut in. "We were going to visit Simon for the Break. Look, I promise you I will pass the exam tomorrow."

"Nathaniel, do not interrupt me," Sarah said with an icy calm. "I was saying that I'll explain to Elizabeth that you have, ah, confused your priorities, that you were punished for it, and will write the quiz over the Break."

"Sarah, if you want to punish me by taking away my vacation, then I'll accept that. But I need a good recommendation from Elizabeth for the next round of applications to the 'graphers. I don't see how missing the exam is going to give her good material to write about!"

"Nathaniel, I am not going to take your Break away as punishment. You should know I wouldn't do that, not ever. But you do know that violating a direct instruction that impacts your safety or health is going to have to be punished."

"Look, Sarah," Nathaniel said, changing topic and tactics, "I didn't want to tell you this because I knew you wouldn't be happy about my training in the Tank tonight. But...I made the time for the 1500 m! In under 30 minutes! And with time to spare! I can qualify for the Oceanographers!"

"Nathaniel, you aren't listening to me, are you? Come over here."

Nathaniel padded in his bare feet over were she was standing by the foot of his bed. She placed his tablet carefully back down on the desk.

"I know you were made familiar with the rules and regulations of Ocean before you shipped out here, so you know that we regard violating rules or procedures that threaten safety and health as grounds--as the only grounds--upon which the supervisory caretaker adults have the right to discipline minors."

Nathaniel was somewhat familiar with the views of Ocean's founders on the rights of children and minors. He completed a module on children's rights on colony worlds back at Starfarer's School before he shipped out. Nathaniel liked the idea: basically, kids can do whatever the hell they want, as long as they do not push their playmates into the Snark tank, go joy-riding in a supercavitating minisub without proper training, and so on. Since the only challenge--or fun, for that matter--on the whole planet was swimming with Snarks and flying supersonic submarines, kids had plenty of incentive to master the scientific and technical skills necessary to be certified for these activities. That was the "carrot"; making sure they did not hurt themselves or anyone else in the process was the only thing that required the "stick."

"Sarah, I am sorry I skipped out and went to the Tank tonight, and it is going to cost me a good night's sleep, but I really do not think that that constitutes a threat to my health or safety. I was fully supervised in the Tank. You can ask Abby, she was on lifeguard duty tonight." Nathaniel tried to sound firm.

"Well, we view things differently here. Setting your schedule for academics, training, your chores, and so on takes into account models for optimal learning. But this is carefully tuned not to compromise your health, and getting an average 8.5 hours of sleep a night is part of it. You didn't just skip out to the Tank tonight; you have been doing this for a while, if I'm not mistaken. I wouldn't be surprised if you have been cheating on your sleep schedule every night this term. We talked about this before, and tonight it is going to stop."

With that, she took Nathaniel's wrists in her hands and started pulling him slowly toward her as she sat down on the end corner of the bed.

"I guess you know what the punishment is, Nat, and you have only yourself to blame for this."

Actually, Nathaniel did not really know what the punishment was. He had overheard some of the younger kids in a lower class talk about a classmate who got "the paddle" for some infraction, and Nathaniel concluded that this was probably just another of those quaint traditions that typify so many remote colony worlds. His own classmates had been much too well behaved and mature to ever give him the opportunity to see how punishment was meddled out to adolescents his age.

"Uh, Sarah, please," Nat look as earnestly into her eyes as he could. "What are you doing?"

With a jerk on his wrists, she had pulled him onto her lap, and her hand released him only momentary as her grip shifted to his waist, pulling him further forward. He began to pull back, but his strength was not match to Sarah's muscles that were adapted to Ocean; she had spent a lifetime working against gravity that was forty percent stronger than he was used to. Nathaniel did not have a chance.

"I'm giving you a spanking."

By this time, he was completely over her lap and was pushing up from the bedspread, but she was using the elbow of her left arm to force the spine between his should blades down. Her hands were still on his hips, pulling him further across her thighs.

"You have got to be kidding!"

"Nat, I though you'd have figured out how we punish kids here."

"Yeah, but I'm 15 standard years!"

"Which is still a minor here, and you will remain a minor for another year and a half, local time."

Nathaniel began in earnest to push away, not just to keep his face off the bed coverings, but to get up, get away. Sarah's left arm locked down on his torso, while her right hand slid down his leg to the back of his right knee, gripping him tight and pulling his right leg in toward her. His knees slid up, onto the bed, but his bare feet dangled out into free space. The action of both her arms pulling in had the effect of forcing his backside up and over her thighs, and up high into the air. He suddenly felt very, very vulnerable.

"I'm going to get punished like, like a five year old, because I might need to say up for a few extra hours to finish an assignment? Come on! Please, just let me up!" Nathaniel implored.

"No, you are getting a spanking," Sarah put an emphasis on the word, "a spanking for consistently neglecting to take your schedule, the schedule you designed and agreed to, seriously. You know, I've read Elizabeth's progress report where she caught you sleeping through a lab orientation session."

"Damn!" Nathaniel had not thought anyone had noticed when he nodded off during a lecture on lab equipment he was proficient at using since he was ten years old?

"And I personally recall you snoozing through the Founder's Day ceremonies."

"Ouch," he thought.

"Sarah," Nathaniel said with desperation in his voice and twist and squirm of his hips, "I am terribly sorry about that, I did not mean any disrespect to you or your world's traditions." Nathaniel was so glad he had memorized that "excuse all" phrase that was suggested in his Interactive Anthropology course. Could get yourself out of a lot of sticky situations with that one, his instructor advised. "Hope it works here..." Nathaniel thought.

"I could care less about that interminably boring ceremony, but you are threatening your own health by sneaking out on your schedule like this, and now you are going to be taught that this is unacceptable behavior."

With that, Sarah brought her upper left arm down on Nathaniel's shoulder blades so her forearm could run down his right side and grasp his upper thigh. This put her mouth only centimeters from his ear. Her voice dropped.

"For future reference, you should be aware that a boy your age usually gets a paddling, usually with a ruler if at school or with a slipper or hairbrush if at home. But, since you are Earth born 'n raised, I'm going to assume this is your first time over someone's knee, correct?"

"Huh?" Nat was frantically thinking about how to get away, but he realized the Sarah had him truly and well pinned. His strength was no match for her Ocean-adapted muscles. He did not want to humiliate himself further in struggle unless he was sure he had a chance of escape.

"You have never been spanked before, right?"

"No, of course not!" Nathaniel gasped. "I don't even think this is legal on Earth!"

"Right. So, I am going to give you, well, a gradual education, like the rest of your phase-in period. I'm just going to use my hand, like we do for younger boys."

"Oh, no, please..." Nathaniel could not believe what he was hearing. This could not be a common occurrence; it must be some initiation or practical joke, which he felt he could probably put up with in the spirit of some quaint, out-would rite-of-passage. Just this one time...

Sarah's right arm let up on his right leg, but he did not think that regained freedom would gain him anything. Her left arm still had him pinned. She used the free hand to pull up his t-shirt above his hips, and then grabbed the waistband of his pajama bottoms, pulling them a few centimeters away from his back.

"Now, the other thing is these," she emphasized with a tug on his waistband, "these usually come down," Sarah was whispering now.

"Oh, god, no..."

"But, again, I'm going to go easy on you this time. Do not count on this courtesy again."

But she did tug his waistband, not down, but up so that his pajamas rode up high and tight around his bottom, outlining the curve between his cheeks. Sarah righted herself, but kept her left arm locked into his right flank.

His face was buried in the bed covering by now, with his arms stretched out in front of him, dangling over the foot of the bed. He pulled his elbows in to his chest, which permitted him to twist his head around just enough to see her right arm raised high up in the air. She was completely fixated on his backside, which, as he twisted his head further, he could see raising above the bunched-up hem of his t-shirt. It looked as if she did not even know, or care, that he was looking right at her. He felt her lift her knees slightly, causing his bottom to rise almost imperceptibly higher into the air. Then, in a streak, her open-palmed, closed-fingered hand came down and connected with his bottom.

"Smack!" resonated through the small bedroom.

Nathaniel felt the force of the blow push him forward, which twisted his already twisted neck further. Deciding that was not a good position in which to take his first spanking, he snapped his head around to look straight ahead again. He then turned his attention to his bottom, wondering why he didn't feel anything. "It doesn't hurt!" Nathaniel thought triumphantly to himself, "I can ride this out."


"Oh!" Nathaniel felt the air exhale involuntarily form his lungs. Sarah altered her hold slightly, and he felt himself shift across her lap as a soft, warm glow started to register where her hand had landed. Seizing the moment, Nathaniel garbled through the bedspread, "Sarah, please..."

"Smack!" cut his plea off mid-syllable.

...and that one he felt. The warmth was growing. He pulled his elbows in even tighter and nuzzled his face down into the bed covering, which was becoming a furrowed disarray of fabric.


Now, with his eyes closed and his arms cocooned in as tight as he could, Nathaniel could focus fully on his backside, which was really feeling warm now as Sarah shifted his position again. It was like a liquid warmth, slowly seeping down, toward his thighs and up, toward the small of his back, and also in toward the crevice between his cheeks. For a moment, the hyperawareness of the area between his checks made him flush with embarrassment...


...but the next blow snapped his attention back to the merciful fact that his pajama bottoms were still on. The warmth was spreading in another direction, around his hips, into his loins.


By now, he had figured out her pattern: two spanks to one cheek, followed by two spanks to the other. He could feel her shift her upper body after every other blow, apparently so that she could line up on the other cheek.


"Oh," Nathaniel murmured. The burn in each check centered right on the sit-spot, exactly where her palm was landing with every blow. It felt like stinging-hot needles poking at every pore of skin, and a dull, diffuse pain sinking in deeper from those individual points.


The blows really hurt now, not at all like the first one. When her hand connected, it was like all the pain receptors fired off-scale, simultaneously, only to return to an ever-increasing baseline of burning pain.


"Oh, god," Nat moaned into the bed, while his thoughts crazed around the inside of his head wondering how much more of this he could take. His butt felt like it was ablaze, and the burn had spread up is back and down to his mid-thighs, into the recesses of the tender fold between his cheeks, and then around to his groin, into his member pressed into the folds between her thighs. He had to risk a look: he pushed his elbows down into the bed so that he could again twist his head around, just in time to catch...


Nat was in awe of how Sarah's hand literally bounced off his raised bottom, as if all the force of the blow as momentary stored in his compressed butt check, and then returned to her hand as it rebounded off.


Nat involuntarily bucked his hips upward after that one, and started to roll onto his right leg as...

"Smack!" That one came fast, followed by...


"Be still!" Sarah barked. It was the first thing she said since his spanking began. Her arm clamped down even tighter, like a vise. His hips bucked up again, even higher, and he felt himself lift off her lap. He could feel his pajamas stick to his groin as he lifted off; he was aware of a moist heat between himself and Sarah's thighs.


"Oh..." That one was hard. So hard it forced his hips back down onto her lap, so hard his pain receptors did not feel like they were going to reset. In a reflexive action, his right hand shot back in an instant and cupped his butt cheek, desperately trying to pull the ceaseless heat away.

"Nat!" Sarah said, as if truly shocked. She easily pulled his hand away and pinned it against his hip, where her left hand had been all along.

"Nathaniel, what are you doing? You only had one more to go!"

"What?" he blurted into the bed covers.

"That was 14. Only one more to go and you covered yourself!" Sarah sighed, signaling complete exasperation. "Now we are supposed to start over!"

"I'm sorry, but it hurts like..."

"Good!" she cut him off. "But you are not supposed to interfere with your own spanking! Now, well..."

Sarah cut herself off mid-sentence, and then...

"Smack! Smack!" came extraordinarily hard and fast, in quick secession. Nathaniel felt his eyes burn now, burn with tears welling up and over. He could feel the blows resound through his whole body, while his backside was a sea of continuous blaze. He resigned himself and fell completely limp over her lap.

"There," Sarah said with a sense of finality, "Now you can rub yourself to your heart's content."

Nathaniel, who had again buried his head into the covers, hoping they would absorb the tears now trickling from the corner of his eyes and the fluid running from his nose, lifted his head. "What?"

"I'm done. That was your fifteen." Sarah, for the first time broke her concentration on his bottom, and turned to face him as her grip relaxed.

"You really have no idea, do you?"

"About what?" Nathaniel said through tears and bubbles of mucous in his nose; he was now the one fully exasperated. How could she still be scolding him?

"About spankings! The number of spanks you get is equal to your age!"

Nathaniel, listening though the unabated glow of sting emanating from his posterior, was trying to register the fact that there were apparently rules, regulations, associated with the barbaric practice that he had just endured.

"But don't ever put your hand in the way again! We are supposed to start over, start over at 'one' if you do that, or squirm out of position, or if 'thou doth protest too much.' Well, we'll just pretend it didn't happen this time," Sarah said, as she waved her right hand in the air, as if to fan herself. Nathaniel could not believe the change in her attitude, now almost light and breezy.

"I can't go on tonight," she said and rubbed her palm. Nathaniel for the first time realized that her hand ought to be burning as bad as his bottom, governed by some kind of equal-and-opposite conservation of heat. "But the next time you find yourself in this position and I or whoever else is wielding a ruler or a slipper or a brush, you are not going to be so lucky. So don't do it again!"

Nathaniel resolved to heed this instruction, whatever it meant; he was feeling as though he was an open vessel and anyone could pour whatever regulation into him that they chose. He pulled his knees in and propped himself up on elbows and then onto his hands. He was not in a state to question or protest anything. He looked down to see his pajamas glued with perspiration to his groin where he was held over her hips. She grabbed him under his armpits and lifted him back, so as he kneeled at the edge of the bed his bottom came down to rest on the soles of his upturned feet. The cool of his feet mingled with the burn of his backside. The chill felt good, but the pressure made the sharpness of the pain more acute. He shifted his weight on and off of his feet in the kneeling position, trying to find a minimum of discomfort. With the boy now off her lap, Sarah stood up and was straightening her jumpsuit and fixing her hair, between fits of again fanning her hand.

"Whew!" she said, followed by a long blow through the lips. "Alright, you: To bed!"

She took two steps to the head of the bed and pulled back the covers, pointing to the pillow.

Nathaniel followed her instructions unthinkingly, crawling on all fours to the head of the bed, where he gently lowered himself down on his side.

She pulled the covers up and over him. He was thankful for the covering, not because he was cold; in fact, he licked a perspiration mustache off his upper lip and wiped sweat-streaked hair from his forehead. But he was thankful for the covers so he could bring his hand to his bottom and try again to rub away the heat without Sarah seeing. Of course, she would figure out what he was doing if she looked, but Sarah was busying herself with squaring away his study materials and turning out the desk light. As he saw her make for the door and reached for the main light panel, Nathaniel spoke for the first time since climbing off her lap.

"But what about the module?"

Her eyes fired back at him. She had instantly reverted to her pre-spanking sternness.

"Nathaniel, you really don't want to take a second trip over my knee tonight, do you?"

"No! It's just, that, well..." His eyes made to the clock. 22h11. Had it only been ten minutes since he stepped out of the shower? He felt like he had regressed ten years!

"It's only just after 22h, and I could still get a lot of work done..."

"Nathaniel, you will not be doing any more studying tonight. You will be getting your full eight and a half hours of sleep. And tomorrow, we are going to go to Elizabeth and explain what happened, and explain why you will be writing the quiz over the Break. You may then resume your studies. Understand?"

"Yeah, uh, yes." Nathaniel now wished that she would just turn off the damn light, so he could resume rubbing his tender bottom. But he looked down, away from Sarah's dark brown, disapproving eyes.

"Anything else?"

"Well," Nathaniel really wondered why he was pushing his luck, "Do we have to tell Elizabeth everything that happened? I mean, you know, about this?"

"She will be informed that you were punished for violating your schedule by cheating on your sleep. Trust me, she is well aware of what 'punishment' involves, as she will very likely have the opportunity to demonstrate to you in the near future."

Sarah paused to let that sink in.

"One other thing: if you would really prefer not to have a repeat performance happen on an increasingly regular basis, I would suggest that you do not ever dispute any aspect of your punishment again, or else you will just guarantee yourself more of the same!"

With that, Sarah turned out the light and closed the door, all in one movement.

Nathaniel continued rubbing, back and forth between both cheeks, until resigning himself that it did absolutely no good. He rolled over onto his stomach and stretched out his legs as long as he could while pulling his arms in. He felt for a minute like he was going to break into tears again, so he buried his face into the pillow.

He really did not know what to think, other than to resign himself to a flood of humiliating emotions. But the thoughts were momentary and he always returned to his throbbing backside. As long as the material of his pajama bottoms did not rub against the flesh of his buttocks, he could almost convince himself that the pain was not there. But the warmth was always present, and it was still oozing round his hips and into his groin. In fact, he felt almost warmer there than he did in back. His pajamas still felt moist, stuck to his inner thighs. He figured he must have really worked up quite a sweat as he squirmed against her lap during his initial struggles and his final, desperate kicks to escape the hail of smacks her hand had rained down on his bottom.

He was thinking about being pressed deeper and deeper into her thighs as he drifted off into a very light sleep. He snapped back to full consciousness once or twice, and was tempted to think of the final lap time on the chronometer display in the Tank: 00:29:47. But instead he drifted back to the damp heat in his bottom, and then into a deeper sleep.

End of Chapter I


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