By BH Mari

Prologue: “Shadow of the Noose”

This better be worth it.

Carl Cabot thought as he quietly leaned against the back of the elevator that silently ascended to the top of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. He had been in his secret compound in Syria, preparing the latest models for sale when he got the summons to come to Dubai as soon as possible.

He knew he would be the last to arrive, unlike the others he had to stay at the margins of civilization, so moving around a city like Dubai was not easy for him. It did not help that his flame red hair and tall muscular form stood out even among the many tourists filling the city.

Still, it would not do to complain, for he knew the places where Cabot and his associates could all gather were few and far between. And being in one of the great wonders of the world was better than spending another interminable week in Marsa or some weird underground sex mansion in Italy.

A stoic Saudi in a finely tailored black suit stood beside him, staring ahead and not making a sound. Cabot paid him no mind; men in his position mastered discretion or ceased living. His sole purpose was to provide the key card that allowed Cabot to ride the secret elevator to what felt like the very roof of the world and then vanish.

The elevator came to a stop without making a sound. Cabot was impressed with how quickly they ascended to over half a mile in the air. He remembered when he had first arrived at the world famous landmark, and despite having seen the wonders of the world many times over, he couldn’t help but admire the way the gleaming building thrust itself into the wide blue sky. And now he was at its summit.

As far as the public knew, the Burj Khalifa only had 163 floors, with the 163rd floor off limits to the public. The reason for that was because if anyone got onto the 163rd floor, they would quickly discover that there was in fact a 164th floor. No one was ever to know about this floor save the elite of the elite.

Powerful men like Cabot and the others waiting for him. They did not wield the influence Cabot thought they should, but they could still move in circles ordinary men couldn’t even dream of.

Cabot exited the elevator into a silent hallway of shimmering black glass. The man on the elevator remained silent and impassive as the doors closed, leaving Cabot alone save for two massive men clad in black robes at the end of the hall. Both men stood at attention, each holding a large two handed sword thrust upwards towards the ceiling.

Cabot walked past rows of featureless black doors that led to secret rooms before passing by the two men without so much as a nod. They knew who he was and knew not to hinder his progress in any way. He opened the double doors and entered into a windowless conference room, lit by glowing LED torches held by shapely figures that appeared to be statues covered in latex but Cabot knew in fact that they were women personally trained by him. Each latex clad torchbearer was flanked by red banners bearing the image of a noose of black rope.

The massive conference room was dominated by a half moon table made of polished black wood. Seated around the table were an eclectic gathering of men Cabot knew all too well.

On opposite sides at the very end of the table were two hulking men. One looked like he had missed a few rungs on the evolutionary ladder, short and hairy with massive thick arms and a sloping brow. However his dark eyes were filled with intelligence and alertness. He nodded towards Cabot, who nodded back. This was Ape Morello, the man in charge of recruiting and training the footsoldiers used to carry out the decisions of those gathered in this room.

Across from Ape sat a nightmare of a man, over 7 feet tall with a shaved, corpse white head. He turned to Cabot and offered him a smile, showing off razor sharp black teeth. As far as Cabot knew he had no name, everyone called him The Ghoul. He was their sword, their champion. He was more a weapon than a man, and as far as Cabot knew, lusted only for violence.

Beside The Ghoul was a man in skintight white latex. All but his eyes were hidden, intense blue orbs that glowed with a feverish, hungry light. He stared at Cabot but made no move to acknowledge him. Standing behind his chair was a willowy blonde with a cold, expressionless face. Devanex and his paramor Ava Canot. The duo considered themselves the world’s only supercriminals, and loved to commit crimes for an audience. Cabot found the pair exhausting, for they did what they wanted when they wanted. They possessed astonishing skills and seemingly limitless resources, something Cabot and the rest of the group sorely needed, but this group was only a hobby to them, one of many.

Across from Devanex sat a nondescript man who Cabot had known for many years yet could not accurately describe if his life depended on it. Everything about him was forgettable, and that is what made him so effective and dangerous. He was called the Iron Moth, and like The Ghoul answered to no other name. He was the Master of Acquisitions, give him a name and that woman would be yours within a week, no matter where she was or who defended her. Cabot had a close working relationship with the man,as he trained the women the Iron Moth acquired, so he knew the Moth’s allegiance was first and foremost to himself and so was always wary when dealing with the forgettable man.

On his right side sat a small man in a well made but ill-fitting suit. His skin was dark and his hair was thick and black, It’s vitality and volume in stark contrast to his weaselly, chinless face and watery blue eyes. He fidgeted as he looked at Cabot, nervously picking at the arm of the chair he sat in. The great Hassan Bey was always like this, Cabot assumed because he knew deep down that whatever his ancestors had, he lacked, and he no longer belonged in such hallowed company as this. His ancestors had been unholy terrors feared the world over, Hassan was a whiny child who thought he should be running things but all he seemed to manage was to putter around his crumbling palace and wait for others to tell him what to do. If it were up to Cabot, Bey would have been disposed of and his assets taken to be divided by his betters.

But it was not up to Cabot, he thought as he took his seat across from Bey. That decision belonged to the man at the head of the table. His chair was more like a black throne, more than three times the size of the chair Cabot occupied. The size of the chair was not what made it stand out, even as it struggled to hold his massive frame.

The throne was alive, or rather parts of it were. The back of the chair was a woman, her face visible from her eyebrows to just under her nose, with large blue eyes filled with terror. She had been cocooned into the leather that made up the chair back, leaving her an hourglass shaped silhouette raised several feet in the air. Her breasts were bare, tan orbs with golden rings through the nipples and small diamonds at the end of the rings, obviously tugging on her firm young breasts. Her exposed skin glistened with a youthful sheen of sweat.

The man seated in the living chair was in his late fifties, and was just over 6’5 feet tall. His appearance suggested morbid obesity, but Cabot knew from painful experience that underneath his fat was hard, powerful muscle. His strength was almost inhuman. His bald head rested just below the nippled ringed breasts, his hard brown eyes studying each man in turn.

This was Julius Goord, the fearless head of the ancient secret society of kidnappers, The Black Rope. Goord entered the skin game in the early 80s, after the death of his father. Despite his youth at the time, he became feared and respected the world over. In the late 90s he saw a chance to resurrect the Black Rope, once the most infamous gathering of slavers in the history of the world. He had drawn each man here with his ambition and drive for power. They had faced many enemies and many setbacks, but Cabot still believed in the man who was now looking at him with his trademark smile that always seemed predatory.

What do you think?” Julius said in his booming voice, smiling his shark’s smile as he gestured to the chair. “German, I think. I’m always partial to a good European piece.”

Cabot smiled politely. Truth was, he had always thought the living art piece was an unnecessary risk for meetings such as this. Julius loved to wrap himself in the symbols of power that came with being the leader of the Black Rope. But they were not in a position where they had much power to display. Cabot was always preaching practicality. They not only had to contend with law enforcement, but their many rivals as well. In Cabot’s mind, it was better to get in and get out and not take risks of bringing a slave for decoration. Especially an untrained one. He knew the women who held the torches were trained and conditioned according to his specifications, but Julius always had to have girls full of fire and fear around him. It was the only source of contention between the men.

But today he held his tongue. He was about to make polite conversation about the piece when Hassan cut in.

We don’t have time for your games Julius,” he said, his voice a high pitched whine. “I have a city to rule. If you could please get to the reason why we were brought here?”

Julius eyed the small man without a word. To his credit, Hassan attempted to meet Julius’ gaze, but Julius’ eyes bored into Hassan’s unblinkingly, and Hassan broke, his eyes finding an interesting spot on the table.

Julius looked away from Hassan and nodded towards Ape. Morello got up and loped out of the room.

I have brought you here because we need to talk about where to take the Black Rope in the years to come. I do not need to tell you that we are not what we once were. When I reformed the Black Rope I had many notions of what I would become, what we could become. We are the heirs to Arvin Talon, the greatest leader our order has ever known, who constructed an entertainment persona that allowed him to bring countless young women into the embrace of our order. Bartram Bertram, the man who married our ideals with those of corporate America, taking us to new heights. The Rakshasa, the greatest crime lord India ever produced and a man whose accomplishments rival even Talon’s.”

Julius paused to look at Hassan. “And the Black Rope would be nothing without the House of Bey. Your ancestors like Hossein and Hazhad Bey carved out an empire in the shadow of the great colonial powers and were feared even in the halls of the mighty.”

Hassan nodded warily, not used to receiving praise from the hulking man. Cabot studied Julius. The man radiated a childlike excitement. Cabot had never seen him like this. He had always been obsessed with the history of the Black Rope but never really spoke about it. He never thought he would see the day that Julius Goord spoke highly of a member of the Bertram family, especially not the father of the often cursed ‘Old Man.’

Despite himself Cabot leaned forward with interest.

Goord settled back, earning a faint moan from his ‘chair.’ Cabot scowled but no one else seemed to notice.

And now?” Goord asked, gesturing around the room. “We skulk in the world’s shadows, meeting in secret rooms because pretenders hold sway over what should be ours by right. Organizations run by women have turned the domain of male power into a sapphic playground. We, the men of the Black Rope, have to hide from the Consortium, from Bianca Weller, and other deviants who should be at our feet.”

Cabot knew that destroying the Consortium was Goord’s greatest dream. Their last meeting over a year ago had been about securing their trade routes against Consortium raids. Julius had been so enraged by the losses and their inability to stop them that Cabot had feared he would have a stroke.

But I think I may have found a way back to our predecessor’s glory,” Julius said as Ape reentered the room, dragging a hooded and stinking man clad in rags. He led the man to just in front of Julius and forced him to kneel on the floor. He pulled the hood off to reveal Lore Luxor, former head of tech giant LuxTech and one of the most wanted men in the world. Cabot’s eyes widened in surprise as he wondered what this meant.

Only two years ago Lore Luxor had been a tech messiah, a genius dedicated to developing technology that would save the world. He had projects dealing with everything from climate change to women’s health. The media cast him as the symbol of what the tech industry could be, and Lore relished playing the role of savior. There was even talk of him running for President, the perfect person to oppose the often vilified President Daniel Clamp.

But as time went on, whispers grew louder and louder, telling stories of special ‘conditions’ required for women seeking employment. Lore denied the rumors, using his influence to cast the accusations as an attempt by political and business rivals to discredit him and destroy his vital work. The internet tore itself apart debating the issue, and Lore continued on, hoping another scandal would come along to take the focus off him.

But Lore’s luck had run out. Two months after the first rumors had appeared, a reporter for the LA Times had broke a story featuring dozens of women testifying to have been forced to be a part of a bondage sex cult within LuxTech.

The women told stories of being forced to wear fetish clothes to work, being coerced to punish and dominate each other while Lore watched, and being used in overseas business trips to help Lore make deals or network. Trips that some alleged not every woman returned from.

The fallout had been swift and vicious. LuxTech stocks tanked as Lore and most of the executives were sacked and Lore’s sister Lana took over. Then the federal government got involved, with the FBI and the SBI looking into possible human trafficking charges against Lore.

Lore fled the country and disappeared. Some suggested that he tried to get the Assange/Snowden treatment and hold up in an embassy to avoid being arrested by forces of the US government. But he was beyond radioactive at this point so no one had taken him in. And then 6 months had gone by, without any leads to his whereabouts.

Until now.

Julius smiled at the fallen former billionaire. Cabot studied the grimy man kneeling before him. He had taken an interest in the case because it struck him as a missed opportunity. A man of Lore’s power and passions could have been cultivated into a powerful ally of the Black Rope. Instead his playing at being a master had destroyed him and left a powerful company in the hands of a girl instead of a man with a global vision. It was such a waste.

Who the fuck are you people?” Lore said, looking around. His eyes widened as he looked at Devanex and The Ghoul. “Is this some weird cosplay thing? I’ll admit, this has not been the best year, but I’m not ready to star in the Amazing Adventures of Gimp Man and Sunscreen Lad.”

For those at the table who don’t know, this is Lore Luxor,former head of LuxTech and the most wanted pervert on the planet,” Julius said.

Cabot noticed there were still looks of confusion on some faces. He guessed they, like him, wondered what the Black Rope needed someone like Lore for.

I’m Julius Goord,” Julius said, introducing himself. “And these men surrounding you are what you played at being. They are true masters of women, some of the most dominant individuals in the world. Together we are the Black Rope.”

Lore was silent for a moment as he took this in. “I take back what I said about the cosplay thing. It would be better than whatever you just said.”

It’s good that you have such a sense of humor,” Julius continued. “To have lost so much so swiftly, it would destroy a lesser man. I cannot imagine being so harshly punished just for being who you naturally are.”

I don’t need the sympathy of a crazy person sitting in a chair made of lady,” Lore snarled, his eyes locked on the slightly quivering breasts above Goord’s head. “I was framed by my enemies, I’ll clear my name and then I’ll be back to where I belong.”

Julius shook his head sadly. “We both know that’s not true. If there was even a chance of you getting back what you lost, my friend the Iron Moth would not have found you black out drunk in a particularly nasty favela outside of Rio. It’s a shame because where you truly belonged was here with us, among other powerful men who understand your desires.”

So you kidnapped me to pitch me membership to your little Black Knot club?”

Black Rope,” Julius corrected. “And no, your moment has passed. Everything belongs to your sister now, you have nothing to offer us.”

Then why am I here?” Lore spit out. His face had darkened at the mention of his sister. Cabot knew a murderous rage when he saw it and thought it was probably for the best that Lore would never leave the care of the Black Rope. Cabot knew Julius and he had never been a man for half measures. It was just as well because his sister was a prime conquest and it would be a shame to lose her to quench the fury of a failure. Perhaps that was what this was about, using LuxTech and Lana Luxor for the Black Rope, a plan Cabot did not hate.

As I was telling my associates,” Julius said, standing up, causing his chair to groan in relief. “The Black Rope is not what it once was. But we still have some resources, including elements in the US government who still believe in our ideals. Some of those elements took part in the investigation of LuxTech and found some interesting things.”

Julius shot a look at The Ghoul, who stood up and left the room. Cabot eyes remained on Lore, watching as the fury drained from his face and fear replaced it.

What are you afraid of? Cabot thought. For the first time in years, he was fully invested in a Black Rope meeting. He looked back to Julius, eager to see where he was going.

I am prepared to be generous,” Julius said. “I'll make you a guest at one of my manors. You won’t have to worry about the authorities and you will want for nothing. Slave girls of all flavors will be available day and night. You won't be President of the United States, but you also won’t be in a cage or in an unmarked grave.”

Julius leaned his massive frame forward. “All you have to do is tell us about Project Scudd.”

Lore laughed at this. It was the laugh of the mad, the doomed. It was the kind of laugh Cabot had heard on the battlefield many times, in places where wars had raged for decades and seemed to have no end in sight. Lore knew this was the end for him, and his despair manifested himself in the horrible sound coming from him now.

Project Scudd,” Lore repeated. “If you know anything about that, you know you want no part of it. It’s a project run by people who are what you play at being, and they don’t take kindly to those who interfere in their business. I was only on the periphery and that was more than enough for me.”

Julius smiled his trademark shark grin. “I know whose business we would involve ourselves in, and trust me, that has been a long time coming. They have something of ours, and now we have a chance to take that back, as well as everything else they have. Will you help us willingly or…?”

The door opened and The Ghoul returned, guiding a woman dressed at first glance like a bride. She was clad in all white and veiled, her steps slow and shuffling. The Ghoul stopped her at the end of the circular table and tore her veil off.

Cabot had to stifle a gasp. Even for a man who considered himself a connoisseur of beautiful women, the woman before him was truly breathtaking.

She stood at over 6’ in height, though Cabot guessed that was due to the white ballet boots that poked out from underneath the expensive white silk dress. Her midsection was crushed to a miniscule size by a corset that caused her to take short, shallow breaths.

Her dress was extremely low cut, exposing a massive amount of tan cleavage. Her breasts were huge and round and jutted out prominently due to what appeared to be a white armbinder crushing her arms together behind her. The powerful urge to roughly knead and bite them filled Cabot. Around her elegant long neck was a neck corset which kept her head high and facing forward.

A white panel gag was buckled tightly across her lower face, stopping just below her nose. Across the gag the name ‘Margot’ was written in flowery golden lettering. Her brilliant emerald eyes were filled with fear as she looked from Lore to Julius. Her hair was a beautiful pile of golden curls crowning her head. She was a marvelous example of restrained femininity and Cabot briefly forgot the meeting, fantasizing about spending some time with her.

Margot?” Lore said. “But she died years ago, how is this possible?”

Julius laughed. “Margot was not dead, merely in the care of a man named Chen Chang. Like you he was a man who could have been truly great but he was limited by women. Once I was alerted of Project Scudd, I went searching for participants. I needed to know more. Many I can’t get at, not just yet. But you were out in the open without any friends. And as you can attest, Margot is not a woman men forget easily, all I had to do was ask the right questions. So I decided to take Margot here and put her to better use than Chang ever could.”

The Ghoul left Margot tottering in her bondage and stalked up to Lore, jerking him to his feet. He forced Lore’s face mere inches away from Goord’s.

One of you will tell me about Project Scudd,” Julius said in a low, dangerous voice. “This is my destiny, and I will not be denied. I will restore the Black Rope, no matter the cost. Even if it means destroying such a wonderful object as Margot. If I’m willing to hurt her, what do you think I will do to you?”

Lore slumped in The Ghoul’s grasp as the members of the Black Rope sat in silence. Cabot had finally had enough.

Julius, stop talking in circles and tell us what these two have that we could want? What is Project Scudd?”

The other members of the Black Rope nodded.

Project Scudd is salvation,” Julius said. “Not just for the Black Rope, but for the world. And we can control it. Years ago, a secret cabal gathered to change human destiny. They did not achieve their ultimate goals, but what they did achieve is enough to give us the ability to shape the rest of this century.”

Julius looked dramatically around the room. “It is the power to make us supermen. It’s why I gathered us here. Our Muslim hosts may not like it, but this building is as close to Mount Olympus as humanity will ever get. What better place to discuss gaining the power to be gods on Earth? And once we have that power, we will be able to do whatever we desire.”

The room was silent as the Black Rope took this in. Cabot noticed a mix of skepticism and excitement among his peers. For his part Cabot had been around the world many times over and had seen many wondrous, terrible things. He saw the conviction in Goord’s eyes, and the fear in Lore and Margot’s faces. Cabot was a cautious and calculating man by nature, but it was enough to intrigue him at least. He could see the same wary interest in the eyes of each of his peers, even Hassan.

Before he could offer his support, Devanex spoke up for the first time, his perpetually mocking tone giving voice to what they were all feeling.

Supermen, you say?” Devanex said, his hungry eyes shining with amusement. “In that case,where do we begin?”


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