“Indigo Three, this is Hawkeye Two; skies are clear, you are free to proceed,” the voice of her Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) operator reported.
“Indigo Three copies all; proceeding now,” Lieutenant Rachel Trasck responded. “Indigo Four, we are green-lit. On me.”
“Copy, Three. On your wing,” her likewise female wingmate acknowledged. Rachel tilted her stick a little to the left and banked her Navy F-45 Stealth Fighter into an almost casual descent. Manipulating the controls, she altered her fighter’s course and altitude until she was on the appropriate heading; due west, barely sixty feet over the ocean. A quick glance over her shoulder revealed her wingmate in the same posture. Their mission wasn’t overly dangerous, but it was wise to be ready for anything. For Rachel, it was more training than anything else; Indigo Four, her wingmate for this flight, was actually her senior officer by several years and ranks. A little thrill ran through her as she contemplated her advancement, which was sure to be soon in coming. A promotion, not only in rank but to the position of flight leader (one step below squadron commander), and before long, she’d be covered in laurels and medals, her future bright and secure. She would even get to stop wearing diapers, since she would have proven herself worthy of greater responsibility. Such thoughts made her smile in her sleep, and when no one was looking.
Rachel snapped out of her brief reverie and checked her scopes as well as the horizon; all clear. It was time. “Indigo Four, engage sensor pods; stage two EMCON.” Stage Two Emissions Control was meant to reduce their detectable signatures even further, and was perhaps one step further than was strictly needed for this operation, but Rachel liked the idea of being as sneaky as possible in enemy territory. There were submarines with particularly vicious anti-aircraft weapons systems lurking around, and Rachel’s idea of fun in the sun did not include being blown to pieces by a bunch of bubbleheads. Her flight was reconnaissance, observation, and signals interception. The sensor pods would take care of that, especially at the culmination of their flight, which would have them leave the relative shelter and safety of near-sea level flying and into the far more dangerous skies that enemy radars were ruthlessly effective at sweeping. Stealth aircraft were good in that environment, but not good enough to hang around for a real look; when they climbed to get a better vantage, it would be when they turned for home and ran. Intelligence had indicated their route would be largely free of enemy units, and Rachel felt good about the flight.
Nearly twenty minutes of straight-and-level flying later, everything changed. Rachel’s head’s up display signaled the appearance of another signature at sea level; that meant a submarine had just surfaced. Fear ran like ice through her guts. Could they have been discovered? If that was the case, they’d have to ditch the pods and turn tail right away—they would be trying to get a target lock on her any moment. She opened her mouth to order Indigo Four to break and run… and hesitated. There was no target lock warning. No seeking radars trying to lock onto her fighter. They were still undetected… or were they? Three more signatures appeared on her radar, this time at altitude. She didn’t know what was happening, but she had to take advantage of the situation. Rachel immediately began throttling back to slow her aircraft, and a look towards her wingmate showed her doing the same thing. There could be no radio transmissions until a critical moment; revealing themselves too early could be fatal, and with at least two juicy targets right in her crosshairs, Rachel couldn’t afford a single mistake. She had a light complement of missiles in her fighter’s weapons bay; she could hit the sub and wound it terribly and maybe one of the aircraft in her first volley. Already her targeting computer had identified the four enemy targets: one Broadsword-class fast-attack/guided missile submarine, two F-38s, and one F-35: old by the looks of it. But the F-35 was a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) fighter; someone was being brought to the submarine or taken off. They wouldn’t operate this way unless it was important.
Rachel’s mouth ran dry quite suddenly, and involuntarily she felt her flight diaper grow warm. Suppressing embarrassment, she concentrated on her duty. They were almost in optimal weapons range, but Rachel knew that if she fired at range, the enemy would be able to deploy countermeasures and evade, thus turning a surprise attack into a general melee, which was extremely counterproductive. She looked back at her wingmate, who was looking to her for orders. She signaled ‘close engagement’ with her hands, and got an answering acknowledgement from her superior officer. The chance was too good. They couldn’t not attack… but they could also swallow up as much intelligence as they could. The sensor pods also had cameras on them, and the sheer volume of visual as well as signals data they would gather would probably keep a team of crypto-geeks busy for weeks. Rachel shifted in her seat and waited to pounce. Her computer signaled that she was in range… just a little further.
Flying low and slow was good to help delay detection; if they hadn’t been engaged by enemy radar, yet, they certainly wouldn’t be heard until it was too late. The distance decreased with agonizing slowness, until finally it was at a value that Rachel felt was appropriate to open fire. She went active on her weapons systems, broadcast, “fire at will!” to her wingmate, and almost instantly had good tone. She lit off two missiles, one aimed at the submarine, the other at one of the aircraft. Two more rocket contrails told her that Four had likewise fired. Stealth was no longer necessary; it was time to go hot. Rachel shoved her throttle forward and hauled back on the stick until she was in a near-vertical climb. Her vision grayed out a little bit and she eased back on her throttled and pulled back to complete a short loop and point her nose back at the enemy. She didn’t have time to look and see what sort of damage her missiles caused; the bright light of explosions told her that she was likely to have gotten a piece of someone, and that would have to do. Rachel was being challenged by air-to-air radars and she had to evade.
“Four, status?” she asked.
“Fired two, think I scored, ready for action. Nicely done, Three.”
“Thanks, Four. Let’s open the distance between us and them, ditch the pods, and go to work; as soon as we come around take the lead.”
The next few minutes of the fight seemed to pass in an instant while simultaneously lasting forever. The Indigos were dueling with the wingpair of F-38s, their pilots evidently quite experienced. Neither fighter pair had air superiority, so it was a battle of maneuvers and wits. Rachel yielded to her wingmate and followed her lead almost immediately as planned; now was not a time to try to gather more glory unto herself. Four was the more experienced pilot, and Rachel knew she could learn a lot from following the example of her betters.
While Four was trying to get in behind one of the -38s and almost ready to shoot, a chance flash on her scope told her they weren’t alone. “We’ve got company, Four! I think it’s time to jet.”
“Negative, Three; almost have him.”
Fear roiled in Rachel’s guts again, making her swallow back a whimper. “On your wing, Four.” She couldn’t leave Four unprotected. Besides, maybe she’d been spooked by a radar ghost; it wasn’t unheard of.
“Gotcha!” she heard Four cry triumphantly as she launched a missile; the target F-38 snaprolled away from it, but the proximity fuse of the warhead triggered the missile and the left wing of the enemy fighter was shredded. It wasn’t a clean kill, but it meant that the other -38 was in real trouble.
And then Four’s fighter erupted into flames and smoke before Rachel could even congratulate her wingmate on the shoot-down. Rachel went evasive on instinct by snaprolling and diving for the ocean. She hadn’t even completed her maneuver before her early warning systems began screaming at her with radar lock-ons, incoming missiles, and way more fighters in the local airspace than had any right to be there. Some of them would be drones, and if that was the case, Rachel knew she was dead. A fellow pilot she felt at least on equal terms with, but an A.I. drone? They were relentless, and even more hated and feared than even the greatest of the enemy aces because of their single-minded purpose and programming. They weren’t honorable foes; they were robots. And they were coming for her.
Hopelessly outmatched, Rachel had to try to get as close to her home carrier as she could, or at least within range of the AWACS so she could transmit her data. Sparing a moment to look down at the surface she saw that the submarine had taken ferocious hits to its conning tower and was still burning. That was at least some satisfaction; a valuable element of the enemy’s submerged arsenal was now out of the fight, even if temporarily. That alone was worth reporting. It would be a while before the events of today would be considered worth Indigo Four’s destruction. For that to even happen, Rachel had to survive long enough to complete her mission. She pulled into a thirty-degree climb and throttled up to full power. There was no time for fine work; she just had to run. Missile launch warnings screamed in her ears, but she hesitated to deploy her countermeasures. She had some chaff and flares, but she had to save them. Rocketing up through forty thousand feet and missiles hot on her trail, Rachel hoped against hope that someone would hear her distress call. “Hawkeye Two, Hawkeye Two, this is Indigo Three, do you read?”
Static was her only answer; she was being jammed. Missile proximity warnings were screaming at her now, and she glanced at her scope. That was close enough; she triggered her flares and rolled into a dive—which she almost immediately pulled out of and leveled off back onto her original course, the missiles detonating behind her. She still had lock-on warnings and missiles flying after her, but the flares had bought her precious seconds; at these speeds the miles were being eaten up at a frantic pace. Another proximity warning screamed at her sooner than she had hoped; tears ran down her face behind her visor as she triggered her chaff; another series of explosions directly behind her. But that was it; she was now hopelessly defenseless from attack, now. “Hawkeye Two,” she said again into her radio, broadcasting in the clear. “Do you read?” It was all she could manage between sobs. Static. Missiles were on her tail, again; Rachel felt like screaming. As if matters couldn’t get any worse, her heads-up display was warning her of overheating in both engines. She was running them too hard. She gave her console a loving caress. “Please, hold together just a little longer.” It was her only hope. If the missiles didn’t get her, first, she might run clear of the jamming, or at least into the electronic counter-countermeasures being put out by the AWACS. Rachel might just be able to broadcast her data in a quick burst transmission before the end.
“Hawkeye Two, this is Indigo Three, do you copy?”
Static… and then the garbled sounds of a human voice. Rachel cried aloud with joy. The missile proximity warning was already sounding.
“Hawkeye Two, this is Indigo Three; attempting burst transmission of recon data.” She didn’t say anything more; she didn’t have to.
“Standing… Indigo Thr…” the voice said. “Trans…eady,” she heard. Without hesitating, Rachel reached out and touched the control to send her data. It took two seconds… and then Rachel inverted her plane and dove, a reckless maneuver that she hoped would delay the inevitable. She had to try to get down towards the deck… maybe she could eject and be rescued. It was a wild hope, especially since she was still over hostile waters. Wild hope was all she had to go on; wild hope had gotten her this far, and quite possibly had seen her precious data into the hands of her masters. The recordings of the attack on the submarine and the other planes as well as whatever else the sensor pods, now long-sunk miles behind her, had scooped up would be useful. They had to be. Indigo Four had died to make this happen.
Her scope was alive with enemy contacts. There were no friendlies in the air or on the water; she was completely alone. Fresh tears clouded her eyes, and she quickly blinked them away. Missiles were coming after her, though one of them, maybe two, had burned out and fallen harmlessly into the sea. There were still plenty more, and they were targeting her aircraft. She leveled out and continued to run. She looked at her displays and prayed for a green blip to show up, or even a neutral blue. Nothing. Rachel knew she had only seconds left; she could either eject or die in a blaze of glory that no one would see and she would be remembered only as a data entry and a statistic. The desire to live won out; she pulled the ejection lever. Small explosives bolts blew out and her cockpit canopy vanished, replaced by the shattering roar of the wind. An instant later, an almighty hammer blow to her bottom and back smote her senses for a split-second; the next thing she knew she was flying upwards and watching her aircraft being blown to pieces. It looked to Rachel like a small cloud of missiles had been sent after her, which was an absurd way to get an ego boost.
Eventually, her upward momentum was expended (the rocket motor at the base of her seat had only lasted a few seconds) and she began to fall towards the sea. Her parachute deployed automatically, triggering the release mechanism that allowed her seat frame to fall away. Rachel’s water landing survival kit was strapped to her back, now, and when she splashed down, she would have enough range of motion to stay afloat and deploy her raft. Well, she would if her pursuers didn’t see fit to shoot her as she descended, of course.
While descending gently towards the water, Rachel took stock of her situation. The ejection had knocked her around, some (that was unavoidable), she was alone in enemy territory, her chances of being recovered by elements of the battlegroup she had flown from were extremely limited, and her diaper was wet, probably very wet by this point. Like all women her age, Rachel was largely incontinent, because that was the way things were. Children were kept in diapers all throughout their growth to adulthood, and only at a certain age, or after accomplishing something noteworthy, either in civilian or military life, would they be granted the privilege of toilet-use. Most young adults, chafing at being forced to wear diapers, surreptitiously learned how to control their excretory systems in anticipation of being granted full adult privileges. Rachel had only progressed as far as bowel control; she had no say when she wet, or where. This had all been decided after the last major global conflict had nearly torn the world apart; several nations had banded together to form a new alliance under a matriarchal system; it included most of Western Europe as well as Canada. As a means of controlling the populace, as well as cutting down on protestors, riots, civic unrest, and promoting patriotic responsibility, the laws had passed that put children back into diapers and kept them in diapers until their twenties. After all, only a true adult, ready and able to contribute to society, could be trusted with the responsibilities of adulthood. The laws had worked; civic unrest plummeted (after the first year, of course), crime went down, teen pregnancies dropped to almost zero, and it seemed as though Europe had regained its prominence on the global stage, once again the leader in culture and understanding.
The United States remained a neutral power, but faced with hostility from the east, west, and north, Congress and the President had decided to seek peace rather than all-out war. All-out war had happened eventually, however, with China seizing the chance to gobble up as much of Asia as it could. The U.S. had gone to war against China almost immediately to protect the rights of the individual nations China threatened or had already annexed, and the Matriarchy had decided to attack the United States instead of joining it. Twenty years later, the world was teetering on the brink of falling into the open flames of complete destruction. Against all odds, the United States had held its own against two enemies without resorting to nuclear weapons, forced China to agree to an armistice after nearly ten years of bitter fighting, and if it could, it would have brought all of its military might to bear against the Matriarchy. The Matriarchy itself had managed to invade the United States on several occasions and in several places, but never with enough gain to make it work, though a large portion of Florida was under their control, along with many former U.S. possessions in the Caribbean.
It was towards the Eastern Caribbean that Lieutenant Rachel Trasck was now falling, with the steel jaws of the United States Navy about to close about her and forever separate her from her home. As if to drive home the point, two of her pursuers roared overhead, patrolling the area while they circled about her and waited for Rachel to splash down. A recovery craft of some sort would be on its way soon enough, and she would be a prisoner of the hated Americans. Rachel had learned to hate America at a young age, as most Europeans and Canadians did. America was a land of decadent barbarians that were only slightly more palatable than the Chinese; at least they spoke English and tried to get along with people. The Matriarchy that Rachel so fervently served considered America to be one of the great evils of the world, forever standing in the way of progress and global social reform, rarely inclined to come to the negotiating table for the good of humanity, and unable to see the sense of its inferiority by comparison to the Old World of Europe. Anger and revulsion mixed within her at the thought of being a prisoner of war to America. She had heard stories about Americans. She had heard they were brutal in their treatment of prisoners, especially the elite female soldiers of the Matriarchy. Tales of rape and forced impregnation (as well as the subsequent theft of the child after the fact) had worked their way through the ranks to the point where even the second-class male soldiers and citizens hated the Americans for how they treated Matriarchy women.
She had also heard lurid tales of how whenever an American woman served in the military it was in some low position without possibility of advancement or distinction, and that women were never let out of diapers, either; forever trapped under the heels of the imperialist government of America, little better than slaves. Rachel shuddered involuntarily. This was what she was going to be doomed to for the rest of her life. Suddenly, she wished she had just let the missiles take her. She also wished that she wasn’t wearing a diaper; at least if she was going to be a prisoner, she would have had the distinction of making them force her back into diapers and fighting them all the way, instead of simply being changed from one to another. Rachel expected that the diapers she would be forced to wear would be thin and uncomfortable, and give her rashes all the time. One could never trust American products, after all. They were inferior in every way.
Splashdown was a cold experience. It was gentle, which was a small consolation, but nevertheless, Rachel was soaked through quickly enough. Just like she had been trained, Rachel quickly cast off her parachute so she wouldn’t get tangled in its lines and drown, and then she set about deploying her inflatable raft. Now that she was down, she took off her oxygen mask and threw it away; it sank almost immediately. She also raised her visor but kept her helmet on. The swell was moderate, but sitting in her raft didn’t give her a lot of opportunity to enjoy it. She was wet, cold, and worse, her diaper was completely and uncomfortably saturated. Rachel wished dearly for home… things made sense at home. The Matriarchy had everything taken care of. Everyone got along… and the price of that was wearing diapers and using them. Compared to the anarchy that was the United States, Rachel was glad of the Matriarchy’s protection; she had looked forward to finally being considered an adult, when just barely twenty-four years old. Now, she would never be one. The finality of that realization caused Rachel to cry to the point where she was wailing like the small child she wasn’t. She cried and cried and cried until she had no more strength to wail and no more tears to shed. All she could do was wait to be captured.
She didn’t have to wait long. Soon enough, a helicopter came clattering towards her, and she watched it dispassionately. Rachel was resigned to her fate, and was further determined to go to it stoically. She would defy them in all other capacities, however; her interrogation was likely to be harsh. The helicopter hovered over her and two human forms jumped out of it wearing full diver’s rig. They splashed into the sea to either side of her, and when they reappeared they took charge of Rachel immediately. They were powerful swimmer; there was no way she could escape now, even if she had wanted to. A line came down with a harness attached to the end of it; the two swimmers had her into it quickly and she was hauled up like so much cargo, and secured by soldiers the instant her head came over the deck. They had her manacled and one of them yelled something at her about being a prisoner. She didn’t hear all of it, but she understood, anyway. Rachel was silent the entire flight back to the American fleet.
When they reached the fleet, Rachel couldn’t help but marvel at the spread of sea and air power laid out before her. Two Super Carriers were at the center of a spread of warships that varied in size from small frigates to immense triple-hull battleships armed with huge rail guns. Looking at the concentration of power beneath her Rachel found herself awed. Instead of proceeding to a carrier, the helicopter carried her towards one of the battleships and landed on the fantail, almost directly behind the ship’s two stern triple batteries. She was removed from the helicopter and taken under guard into the superstructure, and then down into the bowels of the ship, or so it felt. She was searched, relieved of any personal affects and the remnants of her survival gear, as well as anything they considered a weapon (which included her helmet and boots, apparently), and then they left her in a windowless room that was little more than bulkheads and a bench, as well as a small sink and toilet that folded down from the wall. She had to be in the ship’s brig. After a minute, the door was opened to admit a seaman who brought her a change of clothes; these he set on the bench and gave her a smirk that would have seen him beaten under the Matriarchy’s rule, then he was gone. It was easy to determine why he had given her that smirk; on top of the pile of neatly folded clothes was a fresh diaper. At least they had the decency to let her change in private. They had also been nice enough to provide her with a towel and a very flexible comb.
With a sigh, Rachel began undoing her flight suit and removing it. Beneath the suit and its insulating layers she wore only the regulation bra, onesie and shorts over her diaper. Everything was soaked, anyway, and it would do her no good to be uncomfortable. She stripped naked, very thankful to be free of the saturated diaper at last, cleaned herself with the provided wet wipes, and unfolded the diaper they had provided her. It was a plain white plastic garment with four tapes and a waistband front and back, as well as colorful cartoonish prints on the front panel, but when she put it on she was surprised at how comfortable it was; almost like the diapers she wore for regular duty. Next she put on the plain t-shirt and socks, and finished by putting on the coveralls. She spent some time dealing with her hair, and when she had finished, the door was opened and someone came in to take her wet things and the comb without a word. Rachel realized to her intense mortification that she had been watched the entire time she had changed. She glared at the ceiling of her cell and as venomously as she could, she cried, “I hope you enjoyed the free show, you animals!”
They only kept her waiting about five minutes before the door was opened and she was escorted out and to a different part of the ship. One seaman led her while two more followed behind. She crinkled noisily with every step, and if she hadn’t been so furious about being watched earlier she would have been horribly embarrassed. The diapers duty officers, staff, and soldiers in the Matriarchy wore were cloth-covered and very discreet in terms of their sound. Clearly this was another part of her inevitable relegation to second-class prisoner. Rachel was offended by it, and it gave her one more reason to be angry with the Americans. She had been aboard barely fifteen minutes and already the psychological warfare was underway. What did they hope to glean from her with this? Rachel’s suspicions ran from logical to completely off the wall. She couldn’t really be faulted for that; after all, this was her first time being a prisoner of war.
Their journey through the ship ended in what looked like the sickbay. A nurse, or at least someone who Rachel thought to be a nurse, directed them towards a privacy curtain. Rachel was conducted behind it and told to wait there; the three seamen remained on guard close at hand, but at a respectful distance. This time, Rachel didn’t even have to wait five minutes. Scarcely thirty seconds later a woman who looked scarcely older than Rachel breezed in; the red cross on her coveralls identified her as a member of the ship’s medical staff, and there was a stethoscope around the back her neck. “Hello,” she said cheerfully, and Rachel wondered if they had drugged her in order to be this upbeat. Was she a product of severe plastic surgery? She looked too good to Rachel to be an American woman; blond, tall, and quite beautiful. There were no signs of scarring or other physical trauma upon her face or neck that she could see, or even evidence of makeup covering up signs of abuse. Too, as the other woman moved, she didn’t hear a crinkling sound that would have given away her diapered state. Did she get to wear cloth diapers? Maybe she had a diaper of the sort that Rachel wore when she was on duty. Did this woman have some sort of special status? The daughter of a high-ranking official, perhaps?
“…Hi,” Rachel responded quietly.
“I’m Doctor Elizabeth Peters, and I’m here to give you a quick physical and general examination; standard procedure after recovering someone from the drink,” she explained casually, and she made some notes on a chart that Rachel only just then noticed. A physical examination? Were they investigating to see if perhaps she would be suitable for some other form of punishment? She imagined being forced into a harem for American officials or sent to a brothel to be the pleasure slave of rank and file American soldiers. She had to suppress another whimper at that thought.
Doctor Peters for her part wasn’t sympathetic. “I need your name and rank, please,” she said, and looked at Rachel expectantly. Rachel remained silent. “From your personal affects we know your last name is Trasck; you can either give us your first name and rank or we can dig it out of the Matriarchy database.”
Rachel was staggered. Could they actually do that? It didn’t seem possible. Then again, America had held her own in a three-front war for ten years… and Doctor Peters sounded extremely matter-of-fact about it. If she was bluffing, she was really good at it. “Rachel,” she admitted at last. “Lieutenant Rachel Trasck.”
Doctor Peters smiled. “Thank you, Lieutenant. Now, I need you to strip so I can examine you; don’t worry, you can keep your diaper on.”
Rachel didn’t move.
Doctor Peters stepped closer to her. “Lieutenant, I know this must be difficult for you being on an American ship, but I’m only going to tell you this once. You can make this easy for me, or I’ll have the seamen who brought you here come and hold you down while I poke and prod at you until the examination is finished. Too, I outrank you by one full step, so you can consider this an order if you like. But I will examine you, and one way or another, I will have your cooperation. Do I make myself clear?”
There was something about Peters’ voice that made Rachel comply and begin to disrobe in silence. The woman didn’t yell at her, she didn’t try to cajole or coax; she said her peace, and she said it with a strength and certainty of position that Rachel wouldn’t have thought possible from the American. She must be royalty in America, or whatever passed for royalty, at any rate.
Finally, Rachel was again naked except for her diaper. Doctor Peters gave her a soft smile. “Thank you, Lieutenant,” she said, and then she started to examine Rachel’s body. “Light bruising typical of ejection at high speed and altitude… no other abrasions or sign of physical trauma…” She made a few notes on her chart and then she made use of her stethoscope. “Take three deep breaths and hold on the third, please,” she said and put the stethoscope to Rachel’s chest. Rachel breathed like she was told to, and after listening for a few seconds in a couple of places, and then withdrew the stethoscope. After taking Rachel’s blood pressure, she pronounced that Rachel appeared to be in excellent health. And then she asked a question that made Rachel blink. “Would you like any powder?”
“What?” Rachel asked, thoroughly confused.
“Powder. You know, talcum powder, also known as baby powder? Smells good, keeps your skin healthy?” Doctor Peters explained.
“Oh, um… no, thank you, not this time.”
“Very well. You may get dressed. Can I get you something to drink?”
Rachel felt awkward, but she was suddenly reminded of her thirst; she hadn’t drank anything since before starting the run into this hostile territory… how long ago had that been? “Yes, thank you.”
Peters disappeared for a moment and when she returned she was offering the now-dressed Rachel a bottle of water. Without even thinking that it might be poisoned or otherwise contaminated, Rachel opened it and began to drink. It tasted good; she drank it all quickly and still without thinking.
“Well, now that the examination is finished, here are a few basics for you; you’ll be fed three times daily, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as offered opportunities for diaper changes at each meal time. You can expect to be kept aboard for the next few days until transport is arranged to take you to a stateside facility, where you are likely to remain incarcerated until a prisoner exchange is negotiated, a cease fire is negotiated, or hostilities come to an end. Do you understand this?”
The hatred of America came back to her, then, as well as fear. She was going to be sent to the very nation she hated most, and worst of all, she was being told this by a woman who looked as though she was at perfect ease with her position. It was this fear and hatred that drove Rachel to respond like she did. “How do you do it, lying to me like this? Is this some sort of interrogation technique? Are you hoping to break me with platitudes and courtesy and then when I least expect it, you pull the rug out from under me, is that it?” Rachel spat.
Peters looked both startled and confused by her outburst. “What are you talking about?”
“You! You’re such a fake! Everyone knows that American women are slaves at best; you don’t have a mark on you! Did they all get removed with plastic surgery? Is your diaper cloth or the kind reserved for the elite?”
For what felt like a minute, Doctor Peters just stared at Rachel, which only made the aviator madder. “You actually believe it,” she murmured, looking shocked and appalled. And then she laughed, apparently in spite of herself. “I’m sorry. But… you believe all the lies they tell you about America?”
“They aren’t lies!” Rachel shrieked. “America is a backward, corrupt, short-sighted and male-dominated country without morals or ethics, only pretenses to both. What’s really going to happen to me, hmm? Going to throw me to the men and let them have their way with me? Maybe send me up the line to be the sex toy for some general or parliamentarian?” Tears stung her eyes. This woman seemed so nice, and she was lying to Rachel’s face.
“Oh, honey,” Peters whispered. “No, nothing like that is going to happen to you at all, I promise.”
“Prove it,” she said. “Show me proof that I’m not going to be treated like a slave, like you.”
“I’m not a slave, Lieutenant,” Peters responded casually. “I earned my position by working hard, yes, but I’m not a slave. I knew that the Matriarchy had some weird ideas about their people, but…” Elizabeth trailed off when she saw that Rachel wasn’t convinced. She sighed, looked indecisive for a moment, and then she unzipped her coveralls and shrugged them off a little bit. Rachel saw that Elizabeth was wearing the same nondescript t-shirt that she had been given, and looked down to see just what sort of thin diaper, or worse, pull-up, she had been given to complete the deception. All she saw was regular, nondescript panties. Not even an incontinence pad, or even the thin menstrual pads that older women were allowed to buy.
Rachel was thunderstruck, especially when she felt a light tingle of warmth in her groin that signified that her diaper had just been dampened. Then she scoffed. “That is a neat trick. Did they stop you up so you wouldn’t make a mess all over the place?” she sneered.
“Oh, knock it off, already,” Peters said to her sharply. “You’re just making things up, now, not that I blame you; face it, your world is about to get rocked. Now come on, it’s time to take you back to your… temporary residence.”
“You mean the brig?” Rachel asked snidely.
The march back to the brig was a silent one, with Rachel alternating between anger and despondency; whenever she saw a female crewman she scrutinized them closely, but it wasn’t enough. Rachel didn’t think that America was so backward as to let its young people think they were adults before they actually were adults, but if Doctor Peters was any indication… No, it was a lie. It had to be some clever ruse to crack her so she would tell them every military secret about the Matriarchy she might conceivably possess, as well as whatever else she could produce about the leadership of various ships and installations. Well, she’d give them nothing. Not even the satisfaction of seeing her squirm.
Doctor Peters said she would come back and visit Rachel the next morning, and with that, she bade the aviator good day. Rachel was served her dinner later, and offered a fresh diaper. She declined the diaper, picked at her food even though she was ravenous, and fell into a deep, but troubled sleep some time later. True enough, the next morning Doctor Peters did come to visit; she shook Rachel awake and both stunned and embarrassed the aviator by beginning to change her diaper, which by this point was wet, as well as messy. Apparently, Rachel’s bowel control wasn’t as good as she thought, she thought grimly. Damn the Americans, anyway. “No rash, thankfully,” she said as she wiped Rachel’s bottom clean with several wipes. In spite of herself, Rachel was glad that Peters was cleaning her bottom; she seemed to know her stuff, and dirty diapers were never fun to deal with. She put the dirty diaper into a trash bag before she unfolded a clean one, still with the same cartoon prints, Rachel noticed, and slid it under Rachel’s bottom. As much as she would have liked to resist the diaper change, it was a practical consideration. Rachel wanted to fight the Americans, yes, but she disliked the notion of being forced to have accidents all over the place just because she felt like being contrary. Without even asking, however, Elizabeth sprinkled powder all over her skin and in her diaper before she closed it up smartly. She took off the gloves she had been wearing and put them in the trash bag as well before she cleaned her hands with a sanitizer lotion.
After a moment, the door opened and a seaman collected the trash bag, likewise wearing gloves. When he had gone, another seaman brought in two trays of breakfast foods and bottles of what looked like orange juice. Rachel looked at Elizabeth quizzically. “I thought you might like some company,” she admitted, looking somewhat sheepish. So that was how she was going to interrogate her, Rachel thought. She was going to pretend to be her friend and get her to open up. Pleased that she had seen through Doctor Peters’ (if that was her real name) plan, Rachel accepted the company and ate; in spite of herself, she was starving, and the food was surprisingly good. As expected, Doctor Peters started asking her questions, but first dispensed with the formalities of rank; they were on a first-name basis, now. Maybe when the tables were turned and this woman was Rachel’s prisoner, she would be kind to her and show her the truth in the supremacy of the Matriarchy. Elizabeth asked her the banal questions of where she came from, what her family did, if she had any siblings or a boyfriend back home. Rachel answered her vaguely, and sometimes with flagrant lies. It was how the game was played, after all. Rachel took advantage of the situation to learn more about her interrogator.
Elizabeth was nothing if not a good storyteller in Rachel’s eyes. She spun this wonderful fairy tale about being educated at a public university for her degree in medicine while simultaneously being a member of what she called the Reserve Officer Training Corps, and then how she had minored in psychology, graduated with honors, and then accepted a commission in the United States Navy. This was her second at-sea combat deployment. Elizabeth had neither a boyfriend nor a husband, and she surprised Rachel by sounding legitimately wistful at the absence of male companionship. Thinking she had an opportunity to exploit a weakness in her enemy, Rachel pounced on it as lightly as she could; it wouldn’t do to close this possible door. “I had a boyfriend while I was in college,” she recalled. “He was majoring in architecture. We met sharing a class, and sort of got together.” The notion of a man majoring in such a field only confirmed the truth in Rachel’s eyes. America was a backward nation, doomed to be ruled by male oppressors until the Matriarchy invariably prevailed and showed the upstart power what life was really supposed to be about. The Matriarchy had the backing of centuries of cultural evolution and practice, and America had come to be what it was only through strife and anguish. Rachel needed to show Elizabeth why she was wrong. But… something was nagging at her. She took a shot in the dark.
“You had better send for a fresh diaper,” she said to Elizabeth.
“Oh, do you need a change?”
“No, but I’m sure by this point you do,” Rachel pointed out.
Elizabeth shook her head. “I haven’t worn a diaper since I was a toddler. In America, the vast majority of children are toilet-trained fully by age four, if not sooner.”
Rachel wrinkled her nose in disgust, but she couldn’t help but be envious, especially if Elizabeth was telling the truth. One of Rachel’s fondest dreams over the last several years was to be given permission to wear adult underwear instead of diapers. The only time she saw diapers as a convenience was when she was airborne, but aboardship or on the ground? Sure, she was bladder-incontinent for now, but that could be changed. “In the Matriarchy it is different,” she began. “Children cannot be expected to assume the mantle of responsibility of an adult until their mid-to-late twenties, and even then they must have at least completed one higher education degree and begun contributing to society. It is much easier to keep children and teenagers in line when they are forced to be dependent upon their parents or guardians. We have hardly any of the problems with our children that America does.”
Elizabeth nodded. “Every now and again that issue comes up in Congress for fresh debate,” she said, as if agreeing with Rachel, which was a surprise, “and every time it gets shot down, usually with cries of outrage from organizations of parents and even teachers.”
“What do you think?” Rachel asked quietly, not sure how she was going to react to whatever answer she got.
“I think that keeping kids in diapers until they’re full grown is really silly. If they want to wear them, that’s one thing, but forcing them?” Elizabeth shook her head. “It would probably be more trouble than its worth to enforce it, anyway, and besides. I am perfectly happy to decide when or where I go to the bathroom,” she finished a little primly.
“And I bet your children are well-behaved all the time,” she scoffed. “I hear all about teen pregnancies and youth uprisings, gang violence and crime; you make America sound like it’s this great place, when it’s so obviously backwards. How can you claim to espouse and even support such a system that doesn’t even nurture its own children?”
Rachel considered it a huge victory when Elizabeth didn’t respond. So, the liar did see the truth after all! It was all she could do not to smile. “I guess you’ll find out why I do when you get to the States,” she said.
“I suppose I will,” she said, which concluded their breakfast conversation. Elizabeth left shortly after that, and didn’t return until lunch, which they ate together, this time with Rachel changing her own diaper. Dinner went the same way, and the entire cycle (minus Elizabeth changing Rachel’s diaper for her) repeated itself like clockwork for the next two days. On her fourth day aboard the American battleship, Rachel was told she was being transferred to the States. Elizabeth came to see her off, but did not accompany her. The flight was only a short transfer flight via helicopter to one of the super carriers; she was taken by a proper airplane to America itself; she was first processed at a Naval Air Station before being transferred by car to the actual prison. The drive down American streets through an American city was a strange experience. At once Rachel declared it nothing more than elegant smoke and mirrors for her benefit, but it was too complete and too real, and the seeds of doubt that had been casually (or deliberately?) planted by Elizabeth began to blossom.
The facility itself was less like a prison and more like a hospital combined with a school. Rachel was assigned to a room that at least had a proper bed and private facilities, and was also stocked with diapers, wipes, and powder. They were still the plastic-shelled cartoon-print diapers, of course, but Rachel privately admitted that she kind of liked the prints. She shared the facility with several other prisoners of war, all of them female, all of them Navy or Marine personnel. The instant she was introduced to them (she was surprised to recognize a few of their names, if not their faces), they pressed her for all the news of home they could get from her, and Rachel told them what she knew. Some of them looked terribly homesick, but none of them asked about the state of the war; after all, they were being watched. Rachel was relieved to be among fellow officers and she commiserated with them on their diapers—most of them were still too young to have been given toilet privileges—but all of them agreed that there was more to America than met eye. Even the female nurses didn’t wear diapers, and some of the female officers and soldiers who were rotated through the facility weren’t diapered. At first they had all agreed that it was further evidence of America’s backward nature, and dismissed it as more evidence of the Matriarchy’s supremacy.
One of the girls, a British Marine name Anna, asked Rachel over lunch one day how she had come to be captured. She explained that she had ejected over the Caribbean trying to get back to her AWACS and safety. “You saw their fleet?” she asked, causing Rachel to nod. “It’s bigger than they think it is, you know. If America wasn’t so worried about China making a mess of things in the Pacific, I think the Matriarchy would be in real trouble, if not already conquered. You stay here long enough and you hear things, Rachel. Besides, they let me go out, once, into the city. After that… well, I didn’t want to wear diapers, anymore. There is so much freedom here, and it gets taken for granted,” Anna said, sounding wistful. “Sometimes, I wish the Matriarchy saw that.”
“How can you say such things?” Rachel whispered tersely.
“Because I’ve seen how they live,” she replied matter-of-factly. “Besides… I’ve already toilet-trained myself; one of the staff was kind enough to slip me some new panties.”
That shocked Rachel. “But you’re wearing a diaper!”
Anna nodded. “It’s for the others; it’s a solidarity thing. But I couldn’t stand it. There are billboards with women our age in their knickers and on the beach I’ve seen teenage girls in bikinis and no swim diapers. It’s no lie, Rachel; it’s too complicated to be anything but the truth, and the Americans just aren’t that devoted to subterfuge to put on a huge production for just a few prisoners of war.”
Rachel felt sick. Anna had turned traitor, but she did have a point; the other women drew strength from each other knowing that they were all diapered and oppressed by the evil Americans. Rachel was one of them who did draw strength from that solidarity, but Anna’s revelation shook her, just as it filled her with envy. Several days later she cornered Anna and made her show her the panties. To an outside observer it was complete silliness, but to citizens of the Matriarchy it was no laughing matter. Anna even went so far as to take off her diaper in Rachel’s presence and put one of the pair of panties on. To make sure that Anna wasn’t lying to her, Rachel forced herself into what felt like a day’s worth of banal conversation to see if she would have an accident. She didn’t. Now more than anything, she wanted to try to toilet-train herself.
Over the next several weeks she worked hard at it in secret, but at last she felt like she had made headway. Anna told her who to ask. Sure enough, the panties appeared the next day. Rachel stared at them in the privacy of her own room for ages before she had the courage to try them on. She showered first out of some silly superstition and at last, with trembling hands she took up the sheer garment and stepped into them. Sliding them up her legs was electric, and when it was done Rachel felt… different. She put on her bra and a shirt and pants and looked at herself in her mirror, for the first time dressed without a diaper bulge. She didn’t go out of her room wearing panties, of course; she joined the others wearing the comfortably familiar diaper, just like Anna did.
Four months into her incarceration, Elizabeth Peters came to visit Rachel. They greeted each other as friends, and Rachel felt as though she owed Elizabeth an apology, but for what she couldn’t determine. Elizabeth had been rotated stateside as part of her duties, but regardless, Rachel was glad to see her. “Can you… take me to the city? I would really like to see it.”
Elizabeth promised she would try her best, and she was as good as her word. Rachel was given a day pass and a GPS bracelet and Elizabeth took her to the city. It was just like Anna had told her, even though Rachel wore a diaper out in public. Men and women of all ages free to do as they pleased, no evidence of a massive police force or armed patrols everywhere, none of the supposed truths about America that the Matriarchy taught. “You know, I heard there’s going to be a cease-fire, soon. You might get to go home,” Elizabeth told her. Rachel couldn’t decide if that was good news or bad.
“Indigo Three, this is Hawkeye Two; skies are clear, you are free to proceed,” the voice of her Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) operator reported.