Life on a frontier mining planet is never easy. The Company on Trellian, however, is trying to change that status. The Companion program is just what’s needed!
Looking for a change, Shawna decides to join the Companion program on a whim. Her new homeworld is a stark, shocking environment, complete with its own rules and regulations… including getting spanked for any infraction! Is this a life that Shawna can adjust to? Will she be able to accept the domestic discipline? Or is life on Trellian just too difficult?
Re-edited & re-released for 2015. If you have previously purchased this story, there’s no need to re-order it, the new version is already in your Blushing Books library.
Originally published in 2011. Re-edited & released for 2015. if you’ve previously purchased this title, the new version is already in your library.
Shawna sat up in the comfortable seating pod and listened intently. Her friend Rilka had just come back from Trellian to collect her interplanetary visa and some odds and ends she needed in her new life as a settler there. Rilka had spent a very successful and happy three years in the Companion Program. "I married the fourth man I chose to work with. Some girls stay with their first," she had told Shawna, "but I’m glad I waited. It’s a great way to find a mate, and a great way to live. I love the wild life out here. Sure, you do have to follow the rules, and if you don’t, you get spanked for it, but that won’t kill you. If you’re just careful to be safe, you can have a great time."
"But don’t you get lonely and bored? You’re alone out there on your minestead with just some strange man! And he calls all the shots? I don’t get it." Shawna sounded skeptical.
"It’s a bit strange at first, taking orders, but you have to remember, he has the radplant in his brain that tells him what’s happening, and what to do about coming problems. The mining association can’t always prevent the dangers, but they can warn him through the radplant that the problems are coming. The radplant is half radio, half database, and he can access it with his thoughts. I don’t mind my Dordek telling me what to do, since I know that it’s not just his whim. He’s got information I don’t have. Once I get the explanation, I usually agree with his ideas, anyway. And it keeps peace in the house if everybody knows who’s in charge."
"Wasn’t it hard to get used to being alone like that though?" Shawna wanted to know.
"We’re linked through the telecom system, and can see and hear the other ladies in several sectors. On good days, the reception is clear even farther, and we have really nice chats. We have daily meetings, share the mining results the men have gathered, plan strategy and compile result reports. It’s challenging work and keeps us busy. We work together all the time and I actually see more of the other companions through the Linkset than I saw of my friends while I was working in the factory here. Come on, just try it."
It sounded so good to Shawna, and yet it was such a big step. For some strange reason, the thought of getting spanked for misdeeds didn’t bother her at all. In fact, it intrigued her to think that a man would care enough about her to enforce the rules he set down. She would love for someone else to make the hard choices she usually had to agonize over by herself. She also knew the miners had to go through training courses to qualify for the Companion Program and had to be thoroughly checked out so that the women who went to work out in the minestead areas were not at risk of being asked to do anything of a personal nature that they did not want to do. There were lots of protective measures in place to ensure against abuse, and it seemed like a good system where lots of happy couples met, worked together for a time as colleagues, and then fell in love and stayed together. The boyfriends she’d had so far here were not at all interested in working together or building anything. Maybe it was time to take a chance. And the best part was it need not be a permanent choice. She could always change her mind and come back.
The ship that brought Shawna to Trellian hadn’t taken off again before Shawna was whisked through the Orbitport and deposited by the harried company representative into the land transport that would take her to the Selection Meeting Center. She’d had no time to take more than a glimpse of her new home world, so instead of settling herself in the padded pod and strapping in as she was supposed to do, she dumped her carryall and looked out the window of the compartment. A dark-haired man in the next pod scowled and admonished her, "Hey, can’t you read the sign? You need to buckle in or you’ll be sorry."
She paid him no mind, but rather drank in the scene hungrily.
He tried again. "Miss, these things get going with a jolt as often as not and you’ll get hurt if you’re not in a pod." Then his voice turned stern as he added, "And if I have to come over there and help you, you’ll be sorry in more ways than one."
Shawna turned to make a smart retort, but the chance was taken from her by the loud pop of the engines. A moment later, she found herself flung headlong through the aisle by the jerking start of the transport. The stranger caught her awkwardly over his lap and held her tight to keep her from crashing into the floor. As the transport got underway and stabilized, she tried to catch her breath enough to thank the man for helping her, but was shocked into silence by his hand landing with a sharp smack on her upturned bottom.
Vilnek spanked her harder and faster than he had ever spanked a girl before because he knew he really had no right and as soon as she protested, he would have to stop. Before that happened he wanted to give her something to remind her that her new home was not without its dangers. The settlers with more experience were duty-bound to teach the new recruits quickly that the rules were to be obeyed. He smacked her bottom through her thin leggings, knowing they offered little protection from the kind of force and swing he was using. As quick as piston strokes and as hot as a drill engine boring through grade three Stalcon, he did his level best to make her bottom feel the error of her ways. His hand began to feel the heat as it landed with several sharp swats to her left cheek before her right cheek received the same attention. He then returned to the left side but lower down on the sensitive crease where her bottom would hit a chair. He succeeded in dispensing several sharp slaps to both sides before returning to the higher portions of her bottom and spreading his swats around to cover all the area so prettily displayed to him by her position over his knee.
Shawna gasped with the surprise and pain of the spanking, but didn’t resist. She knew that miners had the right to spank their companions, and so assumed falsely that all miners had the right to spank any companion they encountered.
When she gave him no fight, he felt a strong surge of protective empathy toward this obviously green recruit and finished up the spanking with a sternly voiced warning. "Now remember this in the future, little one. We need and value our companions and don’t want you hurt. You obey the rules and you’ll be fine, but if you don’t, you’ll get more of this. Nobody wants to spank, but they will if they have to. Do you understand me?"
She sniffled her assent and he let her stand up. Then he surprised her even more by gathering her in his arms and holding her close, though not so close that she felt threatened. His hand stroked her hair as he pressed her head gently into his chest to let her snuffles subside. She asked in a small voice, "Should I strap myself in now?"
He replied, "Now if I were your boss and had the right to tell you what to do, I might tell you to take a nap as further punishment, but since I actually don’t have any say-so over you…"
Her howl of anger and confusion cut him off. "What do you mean? You don’t have the right to? Then you just…. Oh, how dare you!"
"Well, little lady, if I have my way, I will be the one taking you home with me day after tomorrow, and I will have the right to protect you and correct you. As for this little incident, let’s just call that a welcome party."
"I don’t think much of Trellian’s welcome traditions, then," she pouted, but broke into a smile a moment later. She had to admit the humor in the situation that her ignorance of the rules had caused. "I guess I have a lot to learn. Trellian educational methods take a bit of getting used to," she commented as she rubbed her sore seat.
"I know you were just wanting to get a look at the planet, and it takes a bit of seeing. Not hard on the eyes at all is our little world, especially for a mining planet. I’ve worked some rough ones, I can tell you. I much prefer this planet, no matter the weirdo dangers, and I like this mining company. Not many out there that like to keep their miners civilized, not to mention happy and sane. Without the Companion Program, this place would be like all the other dirty mine worlds around here. This place is decent, and they work to keep it that way. You’ll soon learn you’ve made the right choice."
"How did you know I was having doubts?" she asked him in wonder. She felt as if he could read her mind.
"It’s written all over your sweet face. I can see… hm…." He tipped her face toward him with a gentle finger and pretended to study it like a sparkling, but complex, specimen the drill had brought up. "There’s excitement, fear, a lot of self-doubt, and a healthy dose of new respect for the situation here. It’s okay to be cautious, little one. That caution will keep you safe. But don’t be scared that you’ve come to a bad place."
They continued to chat, getting to know each other, but somehow feeling as if they’d already become close friends. Shawna put it down to the pioneer atmosphere, where folks knew each other and helped newcomers to settle in. When they arrived at the Meeting Center, Shawna let the man help her with her carryall and followed him to the main entrance line, where they waited for a transport platform to carry them up.
"I have to go file some reports before I go up to the meeting," he explained, "so I’ll leave you here. Just follow this line of folks and read the instructions when it’s your turn. It’s easy enough." He gave her a meaning glance before he left her, but she was already turning away and barely caught it. She was eager to meet other miners, especially if they were all as personable and helpful as this Vilnek.
Shawna took a deep breath, pushed her blonde hair back from her small featured face, and looked up at the office building where the meetings were to take place. The bright lights glowing from the rows and columns of doors in the outer face of the wall let visitors know exactly where to stop the small transport platform that lifted people one at a time from one level to the next. She was told to enter the blue door on the third level from the top, so she hung on to the hand rail and tried not to look at the pavement below. The instructions printed on the platform railing said to face away from the building, but she did not want to enter the Intake Area looking green with motion sickness, so she faced the wall.
The transport platform whisked her up to the correct floor quickly, but she had to stop and wipe her eyes because the bright lights of the building wall had stung them, making them water. Then she waved her hand over the sensor at the side to open the door. As she stepped into the room, she heard a light buzz of conversation and smelled a bit too much perfume and a bit too little deodorant. Gee, these folks must be as nervous as I am. Everything is going to be just fine, she thought.
A hostess from the recruitment department greeted her and signed her in, taking her retinal reading confirming her identity and generally helping her with all those little routines that put one at ease in a new group. Then she went over the purpose of this first meeting once more. "You will have this meeting and an all-day seminar tomorrow to get to know the miners and list them in order of your preference. You will then be matched with one miner who will be your companion assignment for the next two months. Nothing will be expected of you beyond housekeeping, technical assistance, and conversation during those first two months, so don’t get all tense about an immediate attraction. It’s quite normal for ladies to return after two months and pick a new companion. What you are doing today is just really picking a boss. If it develops into something more, well… that’s just an added bonus, so there’s no pressure, okay?" Her manner was friendly and reassuring, which helped Shawna relax. Five introductions later, Shawna felt like she needed to take notes to keep names with faces and first impressions. It was almost time for dinner and she still only had vague impressions of the miners she had met. Not one of them even came close to having the calming effect Vilnek seemed to have on her. None of the others made her feel so right about her decision. She had asked normal small talk questions, and received stock answers about interests and experiences, but no one stood out in her mind as being particularly more or less desirable as a potential "boss."
She chided herself that she should not pin her hopes on just one man and tried to look about her again. Then the door opened and admitted a dark-haired man of Vilnek’s height and build. Shawna glanced away from the door for a moment, and when she glanced back, he had already faded into the background. She wasn’t sure whether it was Vilnek or not, but when he didn’t approach her, she told herself sternly to forget him. He obviously wasn’t going to bother to show up at the Meeting Center after all, and she had best forget him.
The bell rang for the whole company to go in to dinner and they gathered at the double doors in the far wall of the room. The doors opened to reveal a table of unique design and function. It was of brown plexilat, but that was the only common thing about it. It was circular in shape with a hollow center and place settings were situated so that diners sat facing each other in concentric circles. The hostess instructed the ladies to take seats on the inside of the circular table, which they entered through a single empty slot. Upon closer examination, Shawna realized the table was really a double circle. She sat facing one of the miners she had met earlier and chatted quietly with him and the people around them.
Suddenly, the table and chairs on which the men were seated started to move. Some of the ladies gasped in surprise and the men chuckled, but most of them had been to these Selection Meetings before and were used to the equipment. When the table settled into its new position, the gray-haired man across from Shawna introduced himself as Radnok, and explained that every ten minutes or so, the table would move the men one place to the right so that every miner got to chat with every companion at least once during the evening.
Shawna chatted with the various miners easily, but the dark-haired man she had observed coming in late never seemed to make an appearance. It must have been her imagination, she told herself. Best concentrate on making notes of names and estimates of how each man would rate as a boss. The older miner Radnok, who had made her laugh, would be first, while the conceited younger man who could only brag about his success in getting his first choice of companions at other meetings would definitely be last. She lost herself in the conversation and the purpose of the meeting.
The next day’s seminars opened without incident, and also without Vilnek. Surely now you’ll give up hope, you silly thing, she scolded herself. The ladies had two hours of meetings to discuss rules and ask questions regarding safety issues and the life they were embarking on. Shawna had become friends with two of the other new prospective companions over breakfast, and they sat together reviewing their lists during a break.
"I just can’t think of it as selecting a boss," Willa declared. "I want someone dashing and romantic. I’m putting down Bilvon as first choice. He seems so manly and strong."
She had named the man Shawna considered a braggart last night, so Shawna felt compelled to say, "He seemed like a bit of a bully, to me." When Willa protested, Shawna made no other comment. Everyone had something different they were looking for, and she was just glad she was not competing for her first choice with a gorgeous girl like Willa.
"I can’t really make up my mind," said the shy blonde Claire. "I’ll just put down that I’ll take anybody but that huge one with the scar on his face. He scares me, but anyone else would be ok, I guess."
Again, Shawna had to disagree though silently this time, with her new friend. Choldor, the huge miner with the scar, had actually impressed her with his stolid good sense and steady calm manner, but he had described his minestead as being perched on a high cliff overlooking a misty valley and her fear of heights made her queasy at the thought of going there. So she reluctantly decided to use her veto power and not list him at all in her preferences.
Leah, one of the returning companions, tried to help them make sensible decisions and put their fears at rest. "It’s best not to be too romantic or too picky about these first choices. If you get a reputation as being hard to please, you won’t be listed in anyone’s top choices next time around. You should look for a man with whom you can talk and work peaceably. And you have to respect him enough so that if he has to invoke the Peace Initiative, you won’t be too embarrassed. I mean, being over a man’s knee certainly helps you decide pretty quickly whether he’s right for you or not," she chuckled.
Shawna had more questions about the Peace Initiative, which was what The Company called their policy of encouraging the miners to enforce obedience with spankings. A "Peace Initiative Adjustment" was the standard euphemism for a spanking, and Shawna wanted to make sure she understood the details, though none of her friends knew of her encounter with Vilnek or their misunderstanding. She could not admit to them that she had just laid there and taken a hard spanking from a total stranger, not knowing he had no right to be anywhere near her bottom. Neither could she admit that she could not keep from searching for that same stranger through all the meetings and social times. Nor could she admit that none of the other miners appealed to her half as much as the stern, rather overbearing Vilnek, partly because he was stern and overbearing enough to make her feel protected in this alien and dangerous place. The Peace Initiative was meant to keep peace between the working couples, but it also seemed to her that it might provide peace in her heart as well. At least it seemed that peace was what she had felt around Vilnek. Perhaps in time she might find that same peace with one of the others.
Shawna had almost given up hope of seeing Vilnek again by the time the companions were entering their final selections on communipads to be turned in at the end of the night. The ladies were together in a small comfortable courtyard and Shawna was just sitting back, relaxing, and trying not to look at the door when suddenly it opened and there was Vilnek, looking harried and a bit cross.
"Come on, Shawna. You’ve got to pack quickly so we can go," he instructed.
"What are you talking about?" she shot back, slightly embarrassed and suddenly angry at his unexpected reappearance.
"We don’t need all this Selection nonsense. No point in it, and I need to get back to the mine. The drilling drones are getting some really strange product and I had to return there right after I left you. I just came back to get you. In fact, we need to get a move on. The transport leaves soon and the company won’t wave the darn escort, so we’ll have her slowing us down, too."
"But that’s not possible," she countered. "I mean, I haven’t been assigned to you. I haven’t even put you on my preference list. I thought… well, never mind that. My point is, I haven’t been assigned to work with you so…."
He cut her off with a note of impatience as he explained, "I got an Early Release for you so you don’t have to wade through all these other men. They’re not right for you anyway, and we both know it. It’s all cleared. It’s a done deal. Now go get ready and meet me at the transport dock in ten minutes."
She watched with her mouth gaping open as he turned on his heel and strode out. I can’t believe this is happening, she thought. I assumed I had a choice. I guess I really do have a lot to learn.
With a hasty explanation to Willa and Claire, she left the courtyard. Her friends hesitated only a moment before following her out of the hall, but were turned back at the door by the company representative.
"You haven’t turned in your lists so you can’t leave. Please finish your preference rankings, then you can go help her." The representative wondered how much trouble she would be in if it was ever learned that she had accepted a bribe from that miner to railroad this particular companion into accepting an Early Release. Vilnek was her old friend, so she didn’t mind helping him separate the woman from her friends who might tell her that in reality, an Early Release needed the retinal scans and signatures of both parties to be valid.
Vilnek hoped his gruff manner and insistence on haste would convince Shawna to come with him without questions. It was true that his minestead was heading toward a crisis, but he would let the minestead implode if it meant getting her assigned to him. His fear of losing her to another miner in the usual Selection process persuaded him to not only take the unusual step of filing for Early Release, but also to give her no choice in the matter. If only I can pull this off, he thought as he paced the dock.
His friends in the company had helped him hatch the scheme when he had told them of how much he wanted this companion assigned to him, but they had also warned him sternly that the usual safety rules would still apply once he got her out to his minestead. Once he had her there, he would have to win her affection with no other rules being bent. She would still have the option of calling for an escort back to headquarters at any moment. He realized that he would need to convince her of the rightness of this pairing before she realized that it had not come about in a manner that would stand up to inspection.
A breathless Shawna hurried up to the dock and was relieved of her carryall by the strong hands that she had dreamed about in the night. It was a small off-rail transport ship that she stepped into and she wondered why they were in such a rush since the transport was obviously only carrying them and no other passengers. She began to form her question when Vilnek cut her off with a sharp swat to her behind and a stern tone.
"No time for questions, little one. We’ll talk when we get there. There’s the matter of the way you rode that transport platform backwards up the Central Meeting Hall wall yesterday and stung your eyes that we’ll have to take care of as well." He kept up a steady stream of mild scolding as he handed her into the transport, helped her strap in, and checked that the escort had followed suit.
Much to Shawna’s surprise, he climbed into the driver’s pod and strapped himself in. In the middle of all the unexpected scolding, she could barely process the incongruity of his knowing about her eyes hurting yesterday. As the transport gave its loud "pop" and started to zip and hum through the large central company complex towards the mysterious minelands beyond, Shawna’s mind seemed to swirl one way and her heart another. Isn’t this what she had wanted from the beginning? Hadn’t she compared the other miners with Vilnek and found them wanting? So why did it seem now like she couldn’t get a deep breath?
Vilnek on the other hand had breathed deeply for the first time, it seemed, since he had met Shawna. He had her in the transport and on the way to his minestead. "This is going to happen," he thought. "I’m going to have her there with me. She’s all I’ve ever wanted. This is going to work. I’ll give her a beautiful home, a great life and she’ll want to stay… won’t she?"