Chapter 12 – “Bienvenue à la Colonie de Thulé”
It was a race that the Engineering team won by putting forth a truly herculean effort right up to the last minute. By the time CSS Aurora arrived a little after breakfast, Lieutenant Carruthers' team had identified the needed pods at the fabrication facilities located in orbit around the planet's tiny moon, cleared space for them in the first basement layer under the Beauty Saloon and the already-existing Unattached Concubine Quarters, and joined them into an elaborate tunnel system. It wasn't easy; it had never been intended to use the basement levels under the dome for residences, so they'd had to adapt egress systems intended to carry nothing larger than a Rommel tank or an armoured personnel carrier to transit the far bulkier and less manoeuvrable pods. The area itself had to be cleared of stowed emergency goods and the hydroponics gear. Fortunately the hydroponics farmer wasn't due to arrive until the last kilopod transport arrived some four months from now, so the gear itself was still bundled and reasonably easy to transport.
Fortunately for Carruthers and his team, Samantha had worked out how to get away with fewer pods than the Aurora carried. Aside from having as many of the girls “foster-sponsored” by the parents of 13-year-old sponsor-track kids as possible (with an eye toward having the fostered concubines becoming sponsored by the kids when they turned 14), there was the issue that outside of the pods there was a lot more space for the concubines to roam in without getting claustrophobia. She figured she could get away with 25 pods, including one ablutions and lavatory pod, which meant that with 5 already in place they only needed to add another 20. If there were a lot more dependants than anticipated she'd just think of something – like farming mothers and offspring out to foster sponsors before the single concubines.
The pods were now reconfiguring themselves to hold all those concubines and dependants, the exact number of which poor Samantha had to confess to Carruthers was still a best-guess estimate, while the engineers bustled about reconfiguring the Saloon itself to triple its former size. And the CSS Aurora had just announced her arrival.
In addition to transporting the newly-arrived concubines to the planet via a set of transporter nexuses, the Captain of the Aurora was asking for two (2) of his pods to be delivered planetside, adding that “you can let the God-damned things burn up on re-entry.” Replacement pods were requested, the Aurora would configure them if necessary on their way back to Earth.
Samantha and Lieutenant Carruthers were standing together in the board-room with the Colonel and his battalion commanders when the communications came from the ship. As they listened to the relay, Carruthers turned to the 13-year-old and growled, “They're biting even more into the reserves I've been holding onto for the Pisces Clipper. You owe me, little girl.”
She leaned over and purred into his ear. “In three months, I turn fourteen. Right after I get my CAP score, I get my birthday party. You're definitely invited. For this, you get my cherry. Ya wanna... come?” She brushed her free hand against his crotch. Yep, she thought gleefully, hard as a rock.
“Don't let your mouth write cheques your body can't cash,” he warned in a mock-threatening tone.
“Look for me at my party.” She whispered silkily as she nibbled on his earlobe. “I'll be the one wearing the birthday suit.”
“AI,” Carruthers ordered, sounding strangely preoccupied, “release and deliver two empty pods from the pod reserve to CSS Aurora.”
“Acknowledged, Lieutenant Carruthers,” responded the clipped tones of the AI. Subvocally it added, 'Lieutenant Carruthers, you are aware that Optio Redburn is still only 13, and thus not eligible yet for full sexual activity?'
Now, Carruthers wondered as Samantha's fingers continued to do delightful things to his ability to cogitate, where was he going to put these two new pods from the Aurora, and what did they have on board that the Captain wanted off his ship post-haste?
The first female off the nexus was dressed in 1660's peasant garb and carried a tiny wooden trunk, about the size of a small purse, as if she really were a Fille du Roi. The woman, who looked like she was in her 30's, stepped off the platform, making way for the next lady, and bowed deeply at the assembled officers. “Bonjour. Je m'appelle Sylvie,” she announced in perfect Parisian French to the startled crowd, doing a curtsy right out of the French King's court of the 1600's.
The Colonel recovered his wits first. ''Bonjour, Sylvie. Mon nom est Michael Deschenes. Enchanté de vous connaître. Bienvenue à la colonie de Thulé.”
While the French greetings flowed, behind Sylvie girl after girl emerged from the nexuses. Each was dressed in period costume, each carried a tiny wooden chest, each had a concubine collar, and each was obviously and understandably nervous.
A few were rather obviously a lot younger than 14, and lacked the concubine collar. One such young lady noticed Samantha, nudged the elbow of the older woman next to her, and pointed to the Civil Service cadet.
The pair, trailed closely by an even younger sprite, strode up to the grey-uniformed girl. The adult addressed her uncertainly.
“Optio Samantha Redburn?” When she received an acknowledging nod, she breathed a sigh of relief and continued. “I'm Vickie Arbuthnot,” she introduced herself in an accent straight from the streets of Liverpool. “This is my daughter Mickey, and my niece Allison. Allie, don't hide, she won't bite.”
“No I won't,” Samantha reassured the five-year-old. “It's not a full moon today.” She accepted the note that Vickie handed her – a note on real paper, a rarity on Thule.
“Dear Samantha,” the note read, “I'm delighted to be of assistance. Please accept the gift of Mrs. Victoria Arbuthnot, veterinarian, her daughter Michelle and niece Allison. Her talents will come in handy as you continue to build your new life. Tell Mike I hope he enjoys his presents – they're in Pods Blue 3 and Blue 5.”
“Lieutenant Carruthers,” Samantha called, not reading any further, “Those pods that the Aurora had us take away, would they be Pods Blue 3 and Blue 5 by any chance?”
“Ah, yes, why?”
“What's in them?”
“Jesus Christ!” came a yell of surprise from across the dome.
Lieutenant Carruthers turned bleakly to Samantha. “I think we just found out...”
“They're full of Jesus Christ?” Samantha asked, trying to keep things light.
“They're full of WHAT?” demanded an infuriated Colonel Deschenes. Obviously the sergeant who had opened the pod was discussing the situation subvocally. The Colonel turned to his second in command and announced in amazement, “That incredible fucking fruitcake! That pest has sent us two pods of pets!” He shook his head in frustration. “I need men. I need tanks. I need artillery. I need aircraft. I need carriers to take them to battle, and escort ships to protect the carriers. And what do I get? I get cats, and I get bunnies – and none of them vorpal.” He began cursing, first in English and then when that proved inadequate, in French.
Samantha got Sergeant-Major Blondell's attention. “Can you get the Marine detail to escort the Filles du Roi to the Unassigned Concubine Quarters? And warn my mother – they're going to be dressed like bit players at the Stratford Festival.” Samantha's mother and aunt, as well as Michael's former wife and now concubine Penny, were leading a party of fellow concubines in welcoming the newcomers and helping them to settle in. The Thule veterans were already over at the Unassigned Concubine Quarters ready to direct traffic and answer any questions.
“Yes, Sir,” saluted Butch, as she gratefully exited from her commanding officer's hysterical presence.
“You three are on me,” Samantha ordered Vickie and her children.
Michael was no longer subvocalizing with anyone. They could probably hear his bellow clear over to Azahar despite the intervening light-years of vacuum, Samantha mused.
“Just how many of these bloody nuisances have we got?” the Colonel was demanding.
“About 130 of each, at a ratio of roughly five females for every male,” came an unexpected voice. “And most of the females are pregnant.” Vickie gazed at him sympathetically. “And we also have about the same number of white mice, gerbils and hamsters.”
“White mice?” Michael growled dangerously.
“Gerbils?” Samantha wondered in horror, trying to visualize the level of care required.
“Hamsters?” Carruthers had thought himself beyond further amazement, but now found himself pondering what other surprises the Aurora might have brought with her.
“GREAT! Wonderful! Organic hand grenades!” Foaming at the mouth with righteous indignation, Michael turned to Lieutenant-Colonel Desrocher. “We don't need to use dummy MB-15's for grenade practise. We'll use LIVE AMMUNITION!”
“He's losing it...” ventured one particularly brave, or foolish, young ensign.
Manfully, Michael drew himself up to his full height and took several deep breaths. “Optio Redburn!”
“Sir!” Samantha gave him her best salute. The last thing she wanted to do was to piss him off even more than he already was, if that were even possible.
“That bloody menagerie is your official responsibility. Take care of it.” He stomped off, muttering about performing a vivisection on Tribune Whitefeather, to see if they could determine why the man's common sense had ceased to function.
Samantha turned to the vet. “Why did he send this... this...” she waved in the general direction of the brace of pods, “zoo?”
“It's been found that having a pet raises a child's CAP scores for responsibility and for nurturing, plus it's something for the entire household to bond with,” Vickie explained.
“Makes sense,” Samantha agreed. “Lieutenant Carruthers, can you get those two pods placed close to the concubine quarters on the B1 level? I'd like to keep them out of sight of the Colonel as much as possible.”
“Yes, Sam, but you owe me a big one for all this.”
“When I turn 14, Vickie will be my concubine.” She turned to the Liverpudlian and explained, “That's the only way this whole thing is going to work.” She turned back to the engineer. “Even as a Pool concubine, I need to keep her pregnant. At tonight's party, you can have her scream your given name to the ceiling. That way, I'll learn what it is, too.” Vickie blushed as she realized her two little girls were hanging on every word of the discussion of her future sex life. If she'd realized that Samantha saw no reason to have Vickie and the Lieutenant breed in private, she would have been even more embarrassed.
“Ah, but that's a state secret,” Carruthers warned. “If you learn it, I'll have to kill you.”
“On my fourteenth birthday, you can fuck me to death, like your concubines have been boasting you do to them,” she advised the tall, cadaverous man. “Until then, I've got a welcoming party to prepare for, and you've got two pet pods to find a good home for.” She flounced off as best she could.
“My concubines have been boasting, eh? I'm going to have to give them a good tongue lashing when I get home!” Carruthers yelled, wagging his eyebrows lasciviously.
“Lucky girls!” replied Samantha, now well on her way to the newly-expanded Unassigned Concubine Quarters, Vickie and her two girls in tow.
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