CAUTION... CAUTION... CAUTION... CAUTION... CAUTION...
This story is of an erotic nature.
I wouldn't dream of telling you what you can or can't read but if the law, in your part of the world, says you must not read this sort of fiction then please go read something that they'll let you.
Don't break the laws, change them.
CAUTION... CAUTION... CAUTION... CAUTION... CAUTION...
A Story in The Swarm Cycle Universe
by Duke of Ramus
A Piece of my Imagination
The Swarm Cycle
The Swarm Cycle is a collection of stories manufactured around a concept introduced by the Thinking Horndog positing an alien invasion and Earth's reaction. The intent is for this to be a multi-author universe similar to the wildly popular Naked In School stories. If you're a budding author of erotica or sci-fi and see something here that strikes your fancy, pop over to the Author's Page for more info on what's going on here and how to submit a story for this collection. The rest of you are probably here to read, so...
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental
© 2007 Duke of Ramus.
All rights reserved.
The Swarm Cycle Universe
Copyright © 2007 The Thinking Horndog
I'd like to thank Mulligan for his assistance in turning this into a better story than my initial effort, any errors remaining are of course mine.
Colonel Boris Johnson was not looking forward to this interview -- he never did when he didn't believe the interviewee was going to be happy -- and the news he was imparting was definitely not the sort of thing that this recipient wanted to hear, still it was all part of the job he mused.
"Svetlana," he greeted the young looking woman who entered his office after acknowledging her salute, "take a seat," he ordered waving at the conveniently positioned armchair.
Captain Svetlana Sergeyevna Lebedev, Confed Space Marines had originally been a Major in the Russian Naval Infantry and been attached to the US Marines in Hawaii when the CAP testing craze had hit America. She'd gone through the testing process -- along with several of the American officers she was serving with -- and had been amused more than anything when she'd come out with a CAP score of eight point four and been well ahead of majority of them. When the true purpose of CAP testing had been revealed she'd been ordered by Moscow to volunteer for the Confederacy Marines and await developments.
Developments had been almost immediate. She'd been picked up, along with the other Marines she'd tested with, three months after the event -- that this broke all ties with Russia had been a surprise, as it had been for the Americans when they too realised that America no longer had any say in their destiny.
After conversion and advanced training in the Confed Space Marines Svetlana had spent eighteen months leading hit and run raids against the incoming Swarm, first as a platoon commander, then with a company and finally with a two company raiding force before being transferred to Persephone. There she found herself in a holding pattern awaiting developments in the war. She'd led half a dozen extraction missions -- just to stop from going insane -- and was hoping that this interview was her chance to get back to a combat unit to continue culling lizards.
Once the woman before him had settled into the armchair Boris began, "Lana, there is no easy way to say this so I'll just read out your orders and we'll take it from there." He tapped the paper on his desk, a foible that he hadn't been able to break, even to the point where he had to print things out rather than read them from a screen. "Umm, here it is -- Is transferred to the planet Demeter, township of Celeus, to undertake the training of the volunteers as Space Marines and such other details as ordered by the commander of the township." He looked up to see the woman going pale, "To assist in this task Captain Lebedev is promoted to Major effective this order. Deployment is to be implemented on the first available transport to the new duty station."
Boris placed the copy of the orders back on his desk and waited for the explosion -- which he expected to both vicious and probably incomprehensible given their different native languages. What he actually got was a simple question that knocked him off his stride completely.
The Russian looked across the room and simply asked him, "Why?"
Surprised he held up his ace card -- a record chip -- something he hadn't planned on doing until she'd calmed down enough to appreciate it. "This is a background brief on the Sa'arm war and an indication of future Marine Corps plans to counter the threat. It's something that every line commander has been saying we should have done a long time ago." He paused to gather his thoughts and then went into lecture mode.
"When the Darjee made contact it took awhile for us to realise that the AIs were actually running the war. Most of us, myself included, just saw it as a chance to get back to commanding combat troops." Boris Johnson had been a Brigadier General in the Australian Army who'd been attached to his country's UN mission in New York. "It has taken us this long to get our act together and start thinking rather than reacting." He looked Svetlana in the eyes, "We dropped the ball when we didn't have a long term plan, we have been throwing company and battalion battlegroups at isolated incursions with no real overall plan or objective, all under the direction of the AIs." He tapped the record chip, "This changes all of that."
"The field elements we already have will continue to harass the Swarm, reinforced as required by current extractions. Hopefully -- now that there is human intervention with the AIs - this will start to have a strategic goal in mind. In addition it has been decided to form larger formations in three of the colony systems and recruit and train these from scratch. Poseidon is one of the systems that has been picked for this enlargement."
Again he tapped the record chip, "This details the Demeter part of the operation but basically they are creating a Marine Expeditionary Force in the system with a full Marine Division being based on the planet along with the Logistics group. The Air Wing will be based on Persephone but will be an integral part of the MEF and along with the First and Second MEF it will be the first step to destroying the Sa'arm instead of just slowing them down."
"According to this chip, each of the Regiments will be closely tied to one of the townships, as will the Logistics group and the Headquarters elements which means -- doing the maths -- that each township is going to have a population of somewhere between six and eight thousand volunteers. That'll give a total population per township of between thirty and forty thousand and even with the thousand pods ships they're using at the moment it's going to take at least a year to get each township fully manned, let alone trained and equipped."
"That isn't as bad as it seems as we don't have the ships to move these people around and it'll take at least that long to get them built." He noticed Svetlana raise an eyebrow, "They've designed a new class of ship, the Tarawa," he said with some relish. "It carries a full battalion of Marines with all their supports and it's going to have enough lift capacity to put them all on the deck in one hit. They are going to be used alongside another new class of ships, the Midway carriers, which will embark the Marine Air Wings and together they're going to provide the starting point for future assault operations.
Svetlana was still digesting the information on the Tarawa, "That's better than the Lancelots," she commented.
The Sir Lancelot class of landing ships was the current major type of troop transports that the Marines were using to get to battle. They were really modified passenger ferries with a limited capacity and very little in the way of support capabilities. The ship could transport a full company of Marines and, using the two Leopard class assault shuttles they carried, get them to the planet's surface in one wave. The ship had two beam weapons for ship defence but no direct fire capability to support the ground troops. Neither could they carry close support craft, which meant that a Navy carrier had to be available to support any ground operations.
"A lot better, and they're getting a new class of assault shuttles too. All this means that we're going to need more shuttle pilots and assault troops and to get those we need training personnel. Which is how we get back round to you."
Svetlana couldn't help it, her shoulders braced at the comment.
"You will be training the first take of future assault shuttle pilots as well as organising and eventually running the full training cadre for the planet. If nothing else Major it should ensure that you get your next promotion," he said with a smile. Promotion in the Space Marines, to date, had been of little importance, with everyone running around as independent battalions obtaining a higher rank had been irrelevant but that would not be so in the future.
"In addition you will be working with the local commander and that may create a few interesting situations." He paused to gaze at the wall, as though distracted. "Lana, because we've been grabbing people from all over and, as often as not, throwing them into combat it's left us in a bit of a mess. One of the things that has been happening, underhandedly if you like, is that people have been feeding back information to Earth. This information has been being used to train various people, usually in military academies, for future responsibilities out here. The," Boris smiled, mostly to himself, "I keep calling him boy but I should think of him as a man, you'll be working with is one of the recipients of this training. Although only sixteen he's been put through the equivalent of junior staff college with a few extras tacked on. Although he's only a lieutenant at the moment, he will become a Captain on completion of his basic training and -- in all probability -- a Major by the time the first of the Marine Regiments is ready for operations. He has some interesting ideas on what to do with the concubines and has pushed them through for his own township and, according to Dave Roberts, will probably force the whole planet to follow suit, simply because it's so effective."
Svetlana sat there trying to absorb what was being thrown at her, questions already bubbling about under her calm exterior. Without warning the chip flew through the air from the Colonel's hand, "For now take this and study it," he said, "Then come back and see me in a couple of days with any questions you have and I'll do my best to answer them."
He stood and Svetlana, recognising that the interview was at an end, did the same.
As he escorted the new Major to the door he said, "Your niece is currently going through the Malinovsky Academy." The door opened and Svetlana stepped through it as Boris continued, "She's receiving the same sort of training as Alex Flowers did. It wouldn't surprise me if she appears out here in a year or so."
Svetlana thought of little Nadia, who wasn't so little anymore and by the time she got her thoughts back to the here and now she'd been deposited outside the door with the minimum of fuss. Very smooth she thought as she turned away, the data chip covering her new assignment clutched firmly in her hand.
Alex stood on the highest point of his pod and gazed across his township. Although all of the pods were grounded now you couldn't see that many of them. The rolling hills and small copses of trees that were scattered about screened much of the human activity. Alex had managed to get the initial pods spread out over as much area as was possible. He'd explained that he didn't want cliques forming around first arrivals, second arrivals and so on and had, effectively, forced his thoughts onto the AI's original plans.
Basic power, communications and sanitation links had been made and the colonists had all been safely transferred to the planetary surface. The town, such as it was, was dirt side and ready to begin ironing out the kinks that four weeks travelling had created.
The major down side to his insistence that the pods be scattered was the increase in time it was going to take to get the interconnecting tunnels dug. In most cases the pods were only going to have one link and getting from one pod to another would require a very winding path if they weren't actually adjacent to one another.
The fact that Alex had managed to get this less than ideal pattern, along with his original idea that drones should receive military training, past the AIs had led him to the belief that the AIs were not actually in control but there just as advisors. A belief that in the short time he'd had to test it had not been changed. It made him nervous. If he insisted on something and the AIs couldn't convince him he was wrong, then they'd let him fuck up in a big way. Not a pleasant thought!
They still had nearly two months before the force domes could be dropped and he figured that the next batch of colonists wouldn't arrive until then at the earliest. It just wouldn't be worth the effort to try to connect the pods up before that.
Now they just had to wait, wait for the arrival of the training team, wait for the equipment and most importantly, wait for the atmosphere to become breathable.
"Alex," a soft voice behind him called.
Alex half turned, to confirm his recognition of the voice, "Yes Sister Melanie?" he asked, suppressing a groan.
"I know you're busy and I really shouldn't be bothering you but I feel..." she paused, what was it she really wanted to know? She wasn't too sure, even now, "I mean, uhmm..."
Alex waited patiently. Sister Melanie really should have been talking to Rebecca but in the confusion of getting aboard the Aurora Sister Melanie had ended up being allocated to one of the slots he had for concubines. Which made things a little difficult, as the major purpose of having concubines was to get and, as far as possible, keep them pregnant. Something that wasn't really acceptable for a nun who'd been effectively press-ganged into joining the colonists.
Looking up Sister Melanie tried again, "Have you made any plans for my use?" she asked.
Alex raised an eyebrow and was rewarded by the Sister blushing. When Alex had been laying down the law concerning the physical stature and abilities that the volunteers were to apply to their drones -- during the augmentation process -- he'd failed to allow for any exceptions. As a consequence Sister Melanie had gone from being a delicate, petite twenty eight year old woman with a pale complexion to someone who looked like a twenty two year old, two metre tall, hard bodied, pert breasted, fighting machine, a true amazon princess.
When Alex had thought about the issue, he'd believed that the hormone levels induced during the augmentation process to facilitate pregnancy would be creating all sorts of dilemmas for the chaste woman. Therefore -- in the true spirit of man -- he'd been doing his best to avoid her, without making it blatantly obvious. Now he'd been tracked down and would have to deal with the fallout.
Alex looked the woman in the eyes and answered honestly, "Sister Melanie, I've got no plans, or hidden agendas, for you. Rebecca asked you to join us and as far as I'm concerned that is how things stand. Why?" he asked as he watched her eyes cloud over.
"Because I'm losing my faith." she stated. When Alex started to open his mouth Sister Melanie continued, "Not my faith in God, which I believe is firm, but my belief in the vows I took and the life I've led so far."
Alex waved the Sister to a convenient low wall and sat down alongside her and waited to see what would happen.
"How much do you know about my religious order, Alex?"
"Nothing, really," said Alex, wondering where this was going.
"Well, let's start with one of the basics," she said. "Regardless of what I looked like -- with the habit and everything -- I wasn't a nun."
That surprised Alex on two counts, he'd always believed that the teachers at St. Genevieve's were nuns, and he hadn't realised that there were different sorts of nuns...
"It may not mean much to an outsider but I was a religious sister not a nun. A nun takes a series of solemn vows, where the religious sisters only take simple vows. The major difference for those outside the religious community is that they get to see the religious sisters but a nun is cloistered and not allowed contact with the outside world."
"I belonged to an Order called 'the Ursulines', we are a teaching Order with a long and distinguished history," she said proudly. "I'd taken the simple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as befitted one of my standing." Sister Melanie raised her eyes, "When I joined the order I did so as a Postulant and was in that position for nine months. The Order then accepted me and I became a Novice, where for two more years I lived the life of a Sister without any real commitment. That was after I'd left college with my degrees and no real idea of what or where I was going with my life."
"The Order helped me find a reason for being in teaching young girls who'd gone off the rails, so to speak. For the last couple of years I've been a full religious sister, having taken the three vows temporarily," she paused as Alex looked puzzled, the continued. "After being a Novice you take your vows temporarily, for three years, then they are made perpetual."
Alex nodded his understanding.
"You see, Alex, I'd never made that final commitment and now, with all that is going on around us, I'm not sure if I can." Sister Melanie, sniffed, then a small sob escaped and before Alex could react she was in his arms blubbering away.
Alex didn't know what to do; he just held the crying woman and waited for her, hopefully, to calm down.
Svetlana had become separated from her concubines when she'd ended up in the Poseidon system and -- following a chat with the Civil Service rep on her old planet -- had handed them over to the pool. She hadn't been too bothered by this turn of events as the two concubines she'd picked at the time of her extraction had proved to be typical American teenagers and she'd grown bored with them very quickly. She'd been so busy since that she'd never bothered to replace them, or collect the other four slaves she was allowed -- when she got sexually frustrated there was always a willing Marine around who she could take advantage of, in the nicest possible way.
Which is why she was able to settle back in the pod she'd been assigned and contemplate the screen before her, the big screen that was currently displaying the contents of the chip that Boris Johnson had so casually dropped on her in their interview.
He hadn't been joking when he'd said this was the future of the Marine Corps. It was a synopsis of the events so far along with an appreciation of the current status of the Corps and its assets and finally -- the meat of the document -- a detailed plan of how the future development of the Corps was expected to run. A lot of detail had been left out from this copy, Svetlana had noticed as she'd worked her way through it. Colonel Johnson had mentioned that larger formations were being established in three systems, the chip only detailed what was happening in the Poseidon system and on the planet Demeter -- which was a lot when you got down to the nitty-gritty.
Demeter was getting a full Marine Division and a Logistics Group, and Persephone would be getting the Air Wing and the ships that went with the Marine Expeditionary Force. Colonel Johnson had mentioned the Tarawa and Midway classes but he'd failed to mention the new Landing Ship Logistics -- which was positively huge -- especially when you allowed for the fact that they were atmosphere capable craft.
The Air Wing was split into two groups, one of which was capable of supporting ground operations from space. The second group was deployed in the new LSLs -- after a bridgehead had been established -- and provided the transport and ground support elements for the Marine Division.
'And what a Division,' thought Svetlana as she perused the contents of the chip. Three infantry regiments, an artillery regiment, two recon battalions, a combat engineer battalion and the assault landing battalion, all of this adding up to thirty thousand men plus their equipment -- truly awesome. Throw in three independent Brigade headquarters groups and you had a large but flexible all-arms force that really was going to give the lizards a hard time.
Svetlana paused to get a drink before returning to her contemplation of the information. The assault-landing battalion was to be her starting point in this new assignment, and getting to know all about it and its function was the first step she would be taking. It also looked like she was going to have to find someone to help develop a tactical appreciation for the unit because there wasn't one included on the data chip and as far as she was aware the Confederacy Space Marines had never tried to organise such a large landing force.
Svetlana had already spent hours studying the chip and making a list of questions and possible answers as she'd done so. She'd also spent a similar amount of time having the AIs dig around in historical records, both from Earth and amongst the member states of the Confederacy for any indications of how best to go about invading a planet, all of this information was stored away ready for her use.
She figured it would take a week or so after her initial interview before she was ready for her second interview with the good Colonel and by then he wouldn't be getting off so easily...
"Well we're here," said the newly promoted Tribune David ap Rhys standing in the hanger bay of the Colony ship Diaspora -- a ship he'd almost hijacked a month before and had been stuck on ever since. Around him several of the five hundred or so displaced concubines who'd been put into his care were watching the same moon displayed on the same screen that he was and wondering what the future held for them -- for David that future was sure to be a strain.
He was the first Civil Service officer having to deal with a major loss of life to a combat unit. C Company, 2nd Battalion of the Neptune Regiment had been wiped out when their transport ship had crossed paths with a Sa'arm hive ship. Under the system as it stood the concubines of the company -- being property -- had dropped into his tender clutches and, following various trials and tribulations now found themselves orbiting a strange moon numerous light years from their old homes.
David looked around at his immediate family, still dressed in their illegal Civil Service grey uniforms, and ushered them back to their own pod for a chat. "I've got to report to the S1 for this system, a Colonel Johnson, for a briefing and hopefully a clarification of the orders we received in Frik. While I'm doing that I want you to keep an eye on everyone, the last couple of months have been stressful for everyone and I'm worried about a few of our people. Remember, you know what the current plan for them is -- they don't -- let slip the fact that it looks like most of them are going to be dropped on a planet without sponsors and they'll flip. Only the belief that they are going to a new home has kept most of them from going over the top as it is."
He looked around, "I know I keep saying this but remember it, I don't want to have to replace you so take care," and with that he picked up his hat and headed for the transporter station and his date with destiny.
On Persephone, Svetlana was waiting patiently in the Personnel sections outer office for her interview with Colonel Johnson -- either he was late or he was deliberately keeping her waiting -- she hoped it was the former because the later did not promise good things for her future.
Svetlana had just started to consider doing something about the delay when a man in the uniform of the Civil Service entered the outer office, he looked around, nodded casually to Svetlana and then crossed to the only occupied desk in the office.
"Sergeant, I've an appointment with Colonel Johnson, can you let him know I'm here."
Svetlana scowled, she had an appointment as well and she didn't expect to be replaced by some jumped up housemaid. Fortunately before she could react the door to the Colonel's office opened and Colonel Johnson made an appearance.
"Major Lebedev, sorry for the delay," the Colonel said, "I've been waiting for Tribune ap Rhys to arrive so I can brief the two of you together."
The Colonel turned so that he was addressing both of the officers, "Please come inside and I'll let you know what's happening." He went back into his office and Svetlana and David followed.
"Take a seat, please," he smiled, "this is probably going to take awhile so we may as well be comfortable."
The three of them settled in around a small coffee table and the two junior officers waited to see what was coming.
"Svetlana, this is Tribune David ap Rhys of the Civil Service. He was based in the Neptune system and a short while ago ended up with five hundred concubines on his books. Since then he's had to leave the system because the Sa'arm turned up and now he -- and they -- are here." The Colonel turned to David, "This young lady is Major Svetlana Sergeyevna Lebedev of the Confed Space Marines and she is currently earmarked for a training slot on the planet Demeter, the very same planet to which you have been sent, Tribune."
Colonel Johnson sat back once he'd made the initial introductions and paused, allowing his guests time to absorb the information he'd just given them.
When they both looked back at him he continued, "Demeter is becoming one of the key colonies in what we hope is the future of the human race in this part of space. It is far enough away from the direct route of the Sa'arm invasion to allow us time to get settled and sort out how future colonies will develop as well as being a convenient place to site one of the largest military forces we've yet to raise."
"Major Lebedev has the plans for the military force that will eventually be calling this system home, she is tasked with training the initial force and then setting up the training establishment for the entire force. That force, Tribune will contain over thirty thousand volunteers, which means that we can expect to have at least another hundred thousand concubines on top of that number."
David went to say something but the Colonel held up his hand, "I know Tribune, you've heard all this before but this time it will happen, not overnight and," he turned to Svetlana, "not in the next couple of years, but it will happen."
There was a knock on the door and a Sergeant walked in carrying a tray, "Coffee Sir," he announced before crossing the room and placing the tray on the coffee table. While that was happening Svetlana and David glanced at one another and both grimaced slightly, this clearly wasn't what either of them where expecting and it didn't seem particularly relevant.
"So what does this mean for you two?" asked Boris Johnson as if reading their minds. "It's simple really, but probably one of the most difficult tasks either of you have ever faced. You are to ensure that the colony on Demeter is stable and capable of supporting the sort of operations that we expect it to carry out. Working with Alex Flowers, who is head of the colony you will make this happen and keep it happening until such time as the Sa'arm are defeated."
"Svetlana I know you have questions coming out of your ears but we haven't got time to deal with them now, so record them and I will get the staff to provide full answers and forward them to you on Demeter." The Colonel looked at the Tribune, "David I also know that you were expecting better things for the concubines you've dragged half way across the galaxy but that is something you will have to deal with when you get to Demeter. Your original orders still stand in that regards."
Boris stood and the two juniors did likewise, "David you will take Svetlana with you and cross over to Demeter and report to Alex Flowers and take it from there." He held out his hand, first to David and then to Svetlana, "and I wish you both the best of luck, I think we're all going to need it."
"OK, will someone give me a clue," asked Alex rhetorically as he read the message on the screen once more. 'Why would anyone change his title to planetary Governor -- and having done so -- what did it mean for him?' His mind was in turmoil as he tried to digest the information he'd just been given.
"AI," he called out, "define the duties of planetary Governor as per these new orders?"
"The planetary Governor is responsible for all actions of a civil nature that occur on the planet," the AI responded. "The Governor sets the rules which everyone on the planet abides by in all civil matters."
"The Governor is responsible directly to the Confederacy Council for his actions and those of his planetary population," the AI concluded.
"So," said Alex quietly, "while before these orders I was in charge of the Celeus township, I'm now responsible for the whole planet?"
"Yes Sir," the AI responded.
"How will this change when the rest of the Marines arrive?" he asked sharply.
"It will have no effect, the Governorship is a civil post not a military one," the AI stated.
"But I'm in the military," said Alex almost whining.
"It is as though you are two people, Lieutenant Flowers is a Marine and responsible for his actions to those placed over him and Governor Flowers is the head of this planet and responsible to the Confederacy Council for his actions. If there is a conflict of interest it will be up to Alex Flowers to sort it out and set the standards for future actions," the AI responded.
"Fuck," exclaimed Alex as he tried to get a grip on reality. "So what rules have other Governors established?"
"There are no other governors at this time," said the AI, sounding smug.
"Okay," said Alex, "and what other joys have the powers that be got in store for me?" he wondered out loud.
"A ship of refugees is on the way to the planet and should be here at zero nine hundred hours tomorrow," came the surprising answer.
"And what am I supposed to do with them?" Alex asked.
"Anything you like, they belong to this planet as soon as they arrive. They are accompanied by Tribune David ap Rhys of the Civil Service and Major Svetlana Sergeyevna Lebedev of the Confed Space Marines who will give further details regarding the future of the planet Demeter."
Suspicion flared in Alex, "These refugees, are they drones?"
"Yes Sir," the AI answered.
"Do they have sponsors?" Alex asked.
"No Sir, their sponsors have been declared missing after an encounter with a Sa'arm hive ship."
Alex shut his eyes and groaned, taking a deep breath he tried again, "How many volunteers and how many drones will there be on the planet once these people have landed."
"The figures are not available at this time as the make up of the Marine training contingent hasn't been specified," the AI hedged.
"OK, make an estimate of the figures." Alex demanded.
"These figures are estimates only and should be treated as such," stated the AI clearly, "there will be approximately fifty volunteers with approximately six hundred and fifty drones, of these approximately ninety are known to be pregnant. They are accompanied by approximately a hundred children."
"Oh fuck, we're going to have a slave revolt," muttered Alex. 'Unless I can come up with something between now and tomorrow morning,' he thought.
"Governor, the colony ship Diaspora is now in orbit and requests permission to start landing passengers," announced the AI.
Alex looked around the practically empty pod he'd commandeered and smiled grimly at the hastily provided seating and occasional tables -- lightly covered in refreshments -- and stood. "Have the Tribune and the Major transported to this room, then lock all transporter activity between the planet's surface and the ship," he ordered.
The portable transporter terminus -- the same as those used during extractions -- glowed and a tall, dark complexioned man in the grey uniform of the Civil Service stepped out, his collar insignia that of a Lieutenant Colonel -- or Tribune. He was followed immediately by an equally impressive woman in the uniform of the Space Marines. Alex -- in the uniform of a Marine Lieutenant -- came to attention and put up a salute and then waited to see what would happen.
What happened was a look of confusion between the two new arrivals and then both of them returned the salute.
"Welcome to Demeter," said Alex as he dropped is hand. "Shall we make ourselves comfortable," he looked from one to the other, "I think we could be here for some time."
The three of them sat down and Alex, feeling that he was the host, started in, "As I'm sure you've guessed I'm Alex Flowers. I'm supposed to be running this place but we've only been here for a month and there hasn't been a lot for me to do. Yesterday I was informed that I'm now the Governor for the whole planet and -- before you ask -- there are no rules or precedents for a Governor's duties. I understand that you have -- is it information or instructions -- for me?"
David looked at Svetlana -- who just stared back -- looking as confused as the Civil Service agent did.
"Do you want to go first?" David asked Svetlana, who declined the offer.
David grinned at her before turning back to Alex. "I'm David ap Rhys," he said, "and the first thing I'd suggest is that we dispense with ranks and titles, otherwise we'll just tie ourselves in knots." He got nodded agreement from the other two.
"Right, I've got five hundred plus concubines up in orbit with no one to look after them. I was told," he said with a cynical grin, "that you -- Alex -- would sort them out, how I'm not sure?"
David turned to the female Marine and indicated it was her turn.
"As I'm sure you already know Alex, I'm Svetlana Lebedev and I'm here as the training officer, initially for the volunteers that came with you but -- in the future -- it will be for all the Marines who are earmarked for this planet."
"I don't suppose you've any idea how many that will be?" Alex asked diffidently, he'd already had his expectations changed so many times that a new number wouldn't be that much of a surprise.
Svetlana fished a data chip out of a pocket and held it up, "The latest plan," she said with a knowing look. "This calls for thirty thousand troops here plus a full Air Wing on Persephone, that'll give you -- call it -- around a hundred and fifty thousand people all told on the planet."
"A hundred and twenty thousand concubines," said Alex quietly.
"And…?" prompted David.
Alex looked at David, "Do you think that many slaves are going to stay as slaves when their masters are away?" Alex looked over at Svetlana, "How long do you think it would be before there was a slave revolt?"
Svetlana and David stared at Alex as though he'd suddenly grown two heads. He took note of their looks and continued, "Oh yes, I've given this a lot of thought and I'm not very impressed -- which is pretty worrying -- when you consider that we're out here fighting for our lives. I mean, have either of you thought about the rules we're operating under?"
His question was greeted with silence and more puzzled looks.
"I'll try to explain," Alex said. "When I asked the AI what the rules were I was told that they would be whatever I made them. I then asked who I was responsible to and the answer that came back was to the Confederacy council, not Earth or the military command or even the United Nations, just the council. I spent a large part of last night going round in circles with the AI and as I understand it the Confederacy is made up of member races - us - the Darjee - and so on. Each occupied planet is given a seat on the Confederacy Council though -- in most cases -- a race would elect one member to represent them on the Council. The Thring, for example have eight occupied planets but take up only one seat on the council, albeit with eight votes. Now we humans are going to end up with at least a dozen planets and each planet -- unless it agrees otherwise -- is a sovereign member of the Council and entitled to a seat there and a say in the decision making process."
Alex glanced up to see both that David and Svetlana seemed to be engrossed in what he was saying.
"Now I know," he continued, "that the Americans were the lead nation back on Earth, and that the Chinese have the largest number of bodies out here but no one seems to be leading us politically. Out here everyone is running around, obeying military orders and fighting the Sa'arm wherever we find them but who is looking after our new homes while we are doing that?"
"The concubines are going to be required to fight just like those who get left back on Earth -- those haven't been extracted -- but that will just give slaves weapons if we leave everything as it is now and -- to add to the confusion -- you arrive here bringing even more changes."
Alex paused for a moment, "And as if that wasn't enough it appears that I'm expected to be two people in one body -- the Governor and the Lieutenant -- and whatever I do sets the standards for any other Governor that comes along."
He slumped back in his chair, "So what do you think -- are we up shit creek sans paddle or is there really a plan and I just can't find it?"
David actually smiled at the younger man, "Welcome to my world," he said, "the Civil Service is a prime example of what you're talking about though I hadn't given it that much thought. We weren't planned for and have no real authority -- I believe the only reason we have a uniform is that as in Germany in World War Two, if you didn't have a uniform you were ignored. Everything any member of my Service has ever achieved has been by force of character, and that includes me dragging these concubines around with me. The fact that we've ended up here just goes to show how little planning is actually going on -- concubines without sponsors has got to be a major fuck up. I don't know about Svetlana here but I'm willing to help you in anyway I can if it means that the people up there have a safe home to go to."
The two men turned towards the Marine Major and waited.
"I'm not sure what you intend to do and I won't go along with anything that stops us killing lizards, after all that is what we actually volunteered for," she said. "By the same token I was ordered to volunteer by the Kremlin and then found that they had no say in what I did or where I went -- most of them haven't even been able to volunteer to get out here so I've pretty much forgotten about them. The Confederacy Armed Forces do seem to be getting their act together," she said holding up the data chip," but whether that's a general thing or just a few good men, as the saying goes is hard to decipher. What are you actually planning Alex?"
"Nothing at the moment," said Alex, "I've got a few ideas and a lot of hopes but an actual plan is noticeable by its absence." He took a breath, "the first thing -- and that happens now -- is to change the status of the drones. That may annoy a few of the volunteers, especially those who will be coming along later but I'm not prepared to have armed slaves running around when I'm not here to keep an eye on them. To do that I guess I'll have to form a second class citizen," he held up his hand as Svetlana moved forward, "who will have exactly the same rights as a volunteer with one exception - they will not be allowed to leave the planet."
"Why that limit?" asked David.
"Because the original purpose of CAP testing was to protect the Confederacy from the results of letting us in. Allowing failures -- which is how the AIs see anyone with a low CAP score -- to run around the galaxy willy-nilly isn't going to be allowed," replied Alex.
"I actually believe we'll end up with three classes of people on the planet," said Alex. "Volunteers -- who will be mostly regular forces personnel -- and can come and go pretty much as they like. The second class will be those concubines who volunteer to serve in the Militia, they will have all the privileges that a volunteer has without being able to leave the planet. The third class will be those concubines who won't serve in the Militia and they will remain as they are now, effectively property."
"That sounds doable I suppose," said David, "but what happens to my concubines?"
"Well you ask them first if they want to serve in the planetary Militia," said Alex, " and if they do then they become citizens of the planet and will be entitled to a pod and -- if available -- two concubines just like a regular volunteer. If your people don't want to serve in the Militia then they stay as they are, as concubines. After the new citizens have had their pick of the concubines on the ship the rest will get shared out amongst the original volunteers -- that way they will have a sponsor -- and if a sponsor ends up with a dozen drones so be it," concluded Alex.
"What about in the future?" asked Svetlana.
"Every concubine who is sent to this planet will get the same offer," said Alex firmly. "And it won't be a one time offer either -- every year on the anniversary of their arrival here any concubine can ask to serve in the Militia and thus become a citizen of the planet."
"What if they change their mind," asked David, "about serving in the Militia I mean?"
"I haven't decided how long a term of service will be yet but it won't be short and anyone who quits -- and they can -- will revert to being a drone," said Alex. "As their sponsors will have replaced them they'll then fall back into your tender care," he said with a smile. "Likewise anyone who completes a term of service in the Regulars -- or the Militia -- will become a citizen and will be entitled to all the rights and privileges that the volunteers have now." Alex looked at the two volunteers, "So the only way a concubine will leave this planet is if a sponsor takes them away or they complete a term of service and become citizens of the Confederacy."
Alex looked bemused for a moment, “I’m still trying to figure out what the pension rights are for all of us as the AI’s aren’t being very forthcoming at the moment. So that side of things is still a bit vague, no doubt it will become clear in time - hopefully before we retire,” he concluded with a grin.
Svetlana shrugged off his attempt at humour and asked, "What if the volunteer doesn't want to give up his concubines?"
"Then he doesn't bring them here," answered Alex, adding snidely, "he can do what he likes with them, after all they're only property, but they will not be on this planet. Which could cause problems for other people but not on this planet."
David thought for a moment and asked, "Does this service have to be in the Militia?"
Alex guessed where David was going and responded, "You're thinking of recruiting people for the Civil Service, I suppose that could be an option but I wouldn't want to push it too hard, some people might see it as the easy way out."
David smiled, "If they do I'll let them speak to my concubines, that'll change their minds." When Alex looked puzzled he continued, "I've had them running around in Civil Service uniforms -- completely unofficial -- and helping me out for the last couple of months. They'll tell you just how easy an option my job is."
Alex nodded, "Yes," he said thoughtfully, "I can see how that would be." He paused then nodded more firmly, "Yes they could do their time in the Civil Service, that would count just as much as serving in the Militia, we may even have to expand your role to cover all non-military matters." When Alex saw the look on Davids’ face he added, “or maybe not,” before he turned to the other Marine, "What do you think Svetlana?"
"Sounds a bit like the old Roman Republic," she said, "serve your time in the Legions and gain full rights otherwise do without." She shrugged, which David noted as being a particularly impressive motion, and finished, "I don't see how it will make any difference to me, I've got no concubines and I'll be working with the volunteers so go ahead. If nothing else it should be fun to watch."
"The way I see it it's more likely to be wet and dirty," said Alex. "I envisage using the Militia like the Red Army in China, fighting and training when they have to and then as a labour force for 'community projects' at other times. Alex turned back to David, "Given that, how many of the people up there do you think will volunteer?"
David thought for a moment before answering, "You know what, I haven't a clue," he said. "I guess those with young children or who are pregnant will give it a miss but the rest of them -- it would just be a guess and a wild guess at that."
"Well, I press ganged all the concubines that were on my colony ship into the Militia before I got here so I guess I'll have to reverse that and then see how many of them will actually volunteer now," said Alex. "D'you want to get back to your ship David and get things organised and I'll do the same down here. Once we know how many Militia volunteers we've got we can sort out the disposition of the concubines amongst them and the rest of us volunteers before we get the pods landed and new homes set up."
David stood and held out his hand, Alex took it and shook. "I'll get things in motion and call you later with the results," said David as he stepped towards the transporter terminus. Svetlana joined him and as they stepped through she thought, 'Boris was right, young Mister Flowers could be interesting to be around.'
"OK people listen up," barked Svetlana.
Around her the small contingent of Marines that were to make up the training team stopped what they were doing and turned their attention to their boss.
"Grab a seat," she said, "this could take some time and I don't want any of you falling over with boredom."
This raised a few smiles as the Marines found a place to relax and listen.
Svetlana looked around at her people and pondered their possible responses to the announcement she was about to make. The eight Marines she'd bought with her were all combat veterans and experienced instructors as well, though none of them had ever faced a task this large before. Whether the fact that their concubines were still on Persephone would play a part in their reaction was yet to be seen.
"I've just been dirt-side and had a chat with the Planetary Governor and he's told me about his new way of doing things," she grinned at the groan this statement brought forth. "This guy is actually serious," she said, "and I'm not sure how his orders are going to affect us."
She glanced around and saw she had their attention totally, "I'll run through his ideas and then ask for comments, try to stay quiet until I've finished. He has decided that all concubines will be given the option to opt out of slavery by volunteering to serve in the Planetary Militia. If they do decide to volunteer they will effectively have the same status as we do, including the right to own their own slaves. This chance will be offered to all concubines who become resident on the planet and will be repeated every year." She glanced around, "Now does anybody have anything to say?"
There was a moment of stunned silence then a lot of garbled noise before Master Gunnery Sergeant Jacob Archer; the senior non-com spoke up clearly.
"Does he think he can make it stick?" he asked in an interested tone.
"He believes so," said Svetlana. "He's looked at the rules of the Confederacy and found that each planet is actually a political entity and can do pretty much what it likes. His big worry is that once the concubines are armed -- and they will be eventually -- that they will stage a slave revolt when we are away killing dickheads. What he's proposing is that any concubine who volunteers will serve in the Planetary Militia and eventually gain citizen rights. To me it seems like an easy way of separating the sheep from the wolves and protecting his, and our, backs."
"What does it mean for us?" asked Master Sergeant Isabella Kellogg, the youngest woman present.
"Basically if you bring your concubines here," Svetlana waved in the vague direction of the planet, "you have a chance of losing them."
"Just like that?" Isabella said, with disgust.
"Pretty much," said Svetlana. "I don't see all the concubines volunteering and a lot of them will quit after they've volunteered when they find out what is involved. This tub is full of concubines without sponsors, how many of them do you think will volunteer to fight? Those that don't will become fair game in the cattle market so I doubt if you would be without for long."
"He's planning on doing this to everyone who gets posted here?" asked Staff Sergeant Joshua Ward, the units' admin clerk.
"Everyone," said Svetlana with a grin. "Which should be interesting the first time a General gets here, but according to the planetary AI he has the authority to do it and having met him I reckon he's got the balls to follow through."
First Sergeant Emma Fletcher said quietly, "Well I'm going to give my two the option. If they want to put their lives on the line for a chance of freedom I'm not going to stand in their way."
Michael Chandler, another First Sergeant scowled, "You can do that Emma but I'm keeping mine, even if I have to do without, while I'm here."
Before things could escalate Svetlana called a stop, "The choice is an individual one but they're the rules we'll be operating under so get used to them. Let Gunny know if you want your concubines shipped here," she looked over at Jacob Archer and got a nod of agreement. "We go down tomorrow to start setting up so get a good night's sleep and I'll see you all at oh eight hundred."
Tribune David ap Rhys settled into the armchair he'd found for his pod and waited for his family to gather around him, He was about to offer them all their freedom and he wasn't sure that he really wanted to, he'd grown to enjoy being a slave owner. When he'd been listening to Alex Flowers it had been an impersonal thing, then the option of the Civil Service counting as a way of gaining citizenship came up and now it was very personal indeed. Who in his family was going to take this chance and leave him?
Stuart was the last to arrive, carrying a fully loaded tray as usually, once the drinks were dispensed David cleared his throat to gain their attention and began. "We are about to start a new life here on Demeter and it opens up a lot of possibilities," he glanced at his concubines, "especially for you."
"The Governor of the planet, his name is Alex Flowers by the way, is instigating a new set of rules for concubines and they will affect you and your life here." David found himself having to swallow to keep going, "He has decided that all concubines will be given the chance to volunteer to serve in the Planetary Militia and, if they do volunteer, they will -- after a suitable period of time -- become citizens of the Confederacy."
David glanced up and saw he had the undivided attention of his family, "While the concubine is doing this service they will be treated the same as if they'd had a high enough CAP score to join the regular forces. That means a pod, concubines of their own and all the privileges that go with it. The down side is that if the concubine fails to complete their service -- for whatever reason -- they will revert to being a concubine but without a sponsor."
David continued, "I've asked the Governor -- and he has agreed -- that for you," his sweeping eyes made it clear it was just the family, "this service could be with me, in the Civil Service." He paused to look around, "and I would be more than happy, for all you, to take this opportunity to move forward."
Megan was the first to react and asked, "Do we have to?"
"No Megan, there's no compulsion involved. If you don't want to volunteer then you'll stay as you are now, my concubine," said David.
Charlotte piped up, "But if we volunteer and then change our minds we don't come back here?"
"Normally, no," David answered, "but in your case," he said with a smile, "I'd take you back if there was a space available."
"When do we have to decide?" asked Daniella looking very serious.
David fought to keep his smile in place, "Pretty soon," he answered, "the Governor wants all concubines to be offered the chance before they land and that means I've got to make this offer to everyone else on the ship. I just wanted you to know about it first and have a chance to make your own decisions without getting caught up in the hubbub that is going to happen when 'they' have to make a choice." The way David said that indicated his feelings towards a lot of the concubines that he'd had to look after on the ship.
"Well I'll be staying with you," declared Katherine bluntly, "I've helped out with everything that has been going on, as best I could, but I doubt if I could do that sort of job all the time and being a soldier just isn't for me."
Stuart looked up, "I'd like to stay as well, if you'll have me?" Which surprised David a little, he'd half expected Stuart to be the first to leave.
"Stuart, I'll be happy to keep you," said David looking around, "and that goes for the rest of you. I'm not throwing you out, I'm just letting you know that the option is there and if you want to go for it I'll help in any way I can. What I will say is think about it tonight and tomorrow -- after breakfast -- let me know your decision."
Alex utilised the AI to collect all of the planet side volunteers in one place and once he'd got them settled he launched straight into his sales pitch.
"For those of you who haven't been keeping up with local events I am pleased," he said, "to announce that I've been stuck with the job of being Planetary Governor. If any of you wonderful people would like to volunteer to take my place I'll be more than happy to step aside." He paused while his words sank in and to see if there was any response.
Eventually Rebecca Shannon, who just happened to be his lover sang out, "Get on with it Alex, none of us are stupid enough to take on that job."
"Yes, well," stuttered a blushing Alex, "Right, in that case I'll let you know my first decree, and you'll find it a bitch, I'm telling you." He took a deep breath and continued, "With immediate effect the Planetary Militia, as it stands is dissolved..."
Before he could get any further Doug Rutledge and Maxine McMillan jumped to their feet.
"Sit down!" Alex barked, "You may ask questions when I have finished. Until then, sit and listen."
The two former cadets slowly sat back down not sure that they were doing the right thing but discipline was too firmly ingrained to be ignored and Alex had been their Colonel.
"As I said, the Planetary Militia in its current form is dissolved. In its place I will be authorising the raising of a new Militia manned entirely by volunteers from amongst the drones. Any drone that volunteers for service in the Militia will be granted the same rights we have now as volunteers, with the exception that they would not be allowed to leave the planet. At the end of their term of service they, like we do, will become full citizens of the Confederacy, with all the benefits that go with that status."
He licked his lips and looked across his audience, trying to gauge their response. "Anyone who fails to complete their term of service will drop back to being a drone and as such will be property, as they are now. This right to volunteer will be offered to any drone or concubine or whatever you want to call them when they are sent to this planet. It will also be repeated every twelve months so a drone will always know that they have a way of breaking away from their sponsor without getting killed in the process."
He looked around and waited for the questions, at first he thought there wouldn't be any but realised that he hadn't told them he'd finished. "Oh, so are there any questions?"
Dougie held up his hand, "Yes Dougie?"
"As we discussed on the ship on the way here, I've always been worried about having armed slaves, because let's face it -- that is what a drone is -- running around on the planet when we're away fighting the Sa'arm." His comment received several knowing nods, "Well, this is the way I've come up with to head that off," he said.
"Everyone will be able to volunteer and thus improve their status, if they don't then it is their decision and they have to live with it. It also separates the wolves from the sheep, which in the long run, is just as useful for keeping the peace."
"Do you think we'll get enough volunteers to man the Militia?" asked Maxine.
"I'm not sure, it's one of the things that is going to have to be watched but with another five hundred concubines in orbit already and upwards of a hundred thousand earmarked for the planet I think there is a good chance we'll succeed. Whether there are enough drones to go around is another matter but I'll deal with that when the matter arises but don't be surprised if you end up short."
Kevin Hayles, one of the later arrivals muttered, "Thank God for that," a little louder than he thought and his comment was greeted by a mixture of laughter and derisive snorts.
Alex, smiling, calmed everyone down. "Now I want you all to go back to your pods and check with the AI that you know exactly what the offer is and its limits, then I want you to put the offer to your drones." Alex looked across his audience again, "We need to know what they want to do by tomorrow morning so we can start shuffling people about and making sure we've got enough homes for everyone."
"Hang on a sec," yelled Paul Teesdale. "What if I don't want to make the offer?"
Alex looked disdainful; "The offer is going to be made. I just felt it would be better if it came from you rather than the AI or me. Don't you agree?" he asked.
"Well, yes I suppose it would," said the older man, not looking at all happy but not prepared to go against the authority of the young man.
"How many of your drones do you think will volunteer, when they know what it's for?" asked Alex sound conciliatory.
"One, possibly two," replied Paul after a moments thought.
"And how many would that leave you with?"
"One or two."
"So you'd still have a slave and the difference will probably be made up from those on the ship," said Alex, "and these people would have taken on that role twice so they really shouldn't give you any trouble. Now wouldn't that be an improvement?"
Paul smiled weakly, "I guess it would," he said, "I just wasn't thinking things through."
"No problem, now let's all go home and see how things pan out," said Alex, finally bringing the meeting to a conclusion.
Paul Teesdale sat back and looked at what he'd come to regard as his small family and wondered how they were going to react to the offer he was about to make. He guessed that Erin would jump at the chance and figured that Eleanor would stick with him. It was Georgia he was unsure about and it was that uncertainty that made him nervous. Still, sitting here and dithering wasn't going to get the job done so he metaphorically squared his shoulders and began.
"Ladies," he declared, "Our glorious leader is changing the rules again!" He couldn't help but make it sound sarcastic, he glanced around and saw that he had everyone's attention, "His latest edict applies to everyone on the planet and, as with his original Militia proposal, will impact on you directly."
Around the dining table the women prepared themselves for the worst, ever since the transport ship had arrived in orbit there had been all sorts of conflicting rumours concerning its cargo and how that was going to affect life on the planet.
"He has declared that everyone will be able to volunteer to serve in the Militia, it's no longer compulsory. If you do volunteer then he will elevate your status to something similar to mine, except you'll be stuck on this planet. If you don't want to play soldier then you can remain just as you are now, without messing around with the Militia." Paul took a deep breath and looked around the dining table again, "What I want you to do is to have a chat with the AI and look at all the implications of the proposal and then let me know your decision tomorrow at breakfast."
"Whatever you decide," he said, "needs to be the best for you, personally. Don't let anything that has happened so far influence you." He looked around again, making sure to catch the eye of each woman, "I want you to know that I'd be more than happy if you all wanted to stay with me but I'll understand if you want to set out on your own."
Eleanor looked across the table, ignoring the other women, "Paul, I don't care what the options are, I'll be staying with you." She blushed as she continued, "I want to have your children."
Paul stood and moved around the table and then dropped to one knee beside Eleanor, "and I want you to have them," he said, hugging her to him. After a moment or two he looked at the other two women, "and that goes for you as well, even if you wish to leave."
He rose to his feet, "Now, go and relax, check with the AI and think about the future." He smiled, "and, while you're doing that, I'm going to relax here and get pleasantly drunk."
Across town, if the settlement could be described as a town, Kevin Hayles watched his drones as the AI concluded its briefing on the new rules and how they applied.
"Well you've all heard what's happening," he said, "So, what are your initial thoughts." He turned to the only other male in the room, "Parker?"
"I'm going for it," the dusky skinned man declared. "That's no disrespect to you Kevin but I've been given a new body," he said, waving his hand up and down to indicate the two metres of muscle and sinew he now occupied, "and my get-up-and-go is back with a vengeance. This is the ideal opportunity to become someone," he grimaced, "which is more than I managed back on Earth."
Kevin nodded, "What about you Keira?" he asked the oldest woman in his family.
"Not me," she said with feeling, "I wasn't happy doing the little training we've already done, let alone doing that for ever. Besides," she said batting her eyelashes at Kevin, "you'll need someone to look after you."
Kevin chuckled, "That's true," he said. "What about you Sarah, how do you feel about this?"
Sarah glanced around the room, "I'd like to give it a go," she looked down at the table, "I never thought I'd say that but, unlike Keira, I loved the training we've done, it made me feel, oh I don't know, free maybe, or independent. Whatever," she said looking up again, "I want that and if I have to volunteer then that's what I'll do."
Before Kevin could ask, Daisy McDonough jumped in, "Me too," she said, "I don't want to be dependent on anyone else to defend me when those dickheads arrive," she snapped her head to Kevin, "Sorry, that didn't come out quite right."
"No problem Daisy, I'll just take it that you'll be happy to fight," Kevin said smiling at the most impulsive member of his family. "What about you Lauren, will you be volunteering."
Lauren may have been a teenager, even if she now inhabited a fully augmented body, but she also had the lowest CAP score in the family and really was the only sheep in a family of wolves. She shook her head, "Not me, I'm happy here." She looked shyly, "and I'm sure you'll protect me if I need protecting," she said to Kevin. Who promptly blushed, triggering a bout of giggling from the other members of his family.
"Of course I will, petal," he said when he got a grip of himself, "of course I will." As he finished, Keira slipped an arm around him and gave him a hug.
In the Flowers-Shannon household things got a bit hectic. Having twenty-one people there made things confusing at the best of times, but once things were organised, starting with putting the children to bed, it quietened down considerably. Rebecca and Fred were familiar with what Alex had proposed and worked together to brief the others on their new option.
Deciding what to do was much more difficult and many discussions got a little heated before everyone had decided.
Perhaps the easiest decisions applied to Lilian, Mabel and Socorro, who all had children and declined the chance to volunteer. As Lilian pointed out, her son would be fourteen in two years time and she could reconsider then, if she wanted to.
Lydia and Melissa, who'd joined the family after stowing away, were the first to declare an interest, which Alex didn't find surprising. After all, their drive and determination had got them off Earth in the first place.
Fred Carroll and Mercedes Pierce had been driving forces in the Militia and wanted to continue so they too volunteered, but they were only joined by Latonya Murphy and Marianne Castro. All this left Rebecca and Alex with nine drones and three children in their extended family and, of course, Sister Melanie.
Alex looked at Rebecca and nodded towards the Sister, Rebecca mouthed back, "You."
"Melanie," he called, dropping her honorific for the first time since he'd met her. "We've got a proposal for you that we think you'll like."
The former Sister looked skittish, as she had been for the last couple of weeks, still finding it difficult to fit into the new society. "Yes?"
"Yes," said Alex, patting the seat beside him.
Melanie crossed the room, a bit like a prisoner going to the gallows, and sat next to her owner, because, despite her high CAP score, that is what Alex was.
"Rebecca and I know you won't volunteer to fight," he said, "and we all know that you are not really suited to be a drone." Alex shushed her before she could say anything, "Listen, just a little longer, please." he requested.
Melanie settled back down so Alex continued, "You know the work that the Civil Service does, do you think you'd be better suited to that role?"
Melanie thought for a moment before nodding.
"Rebecca and I agree, so what I've arranged, if you want to, is that you can 'volunteer' to become a member of the Civil Service. You'd be based on this planet and work with David ap Rhys, the Tribune who arrived on the ship upstairs." He looked into Melanie's eyes, "You'd be entitled to your own drones and when you've completed your time in that job you'd be a free citizen of the Confederacy, just like the rest of us."
Alex sat there and waited for a response, across the room Rebecca watched on silently, hoping that the Sister would have the courage to break free from the melancholy that had been gripping her.
"Are you throwing me out?" she asked.
"Not in the slightest," said Alex, "if you don't want to do this then you can stay here, just as you are now."
"If I go, will that be the end of 'us'?" she asked, her eyes filling with tears.
Rebecca answered, "NO! Definitely not! You will have your own family, but you will always be part of ours," she stated categorically, Alex, for his part, nodded his agreement.
"Do I have to decide now?" asked the distraught woman.
"No, not now, but you need to decide very soon," said Alex, giving her a hug.
"I will," whispered Melanie, enjoying the feeling of the young mans arm around her, a feeling that she also found upsetting because of its sinful connotations.
John Kam felt truly relaxed, which didn't come as any surprise having just been on the receiving end of a blowjob from Libby Simpson. A blowjob that had been freely given as part of an evening's entertainment for the family which had commenced as soon as six-year-old Ping had been put to bed.
This had quickly become a family tradition -- each evening -- after they got finished with their allotted tasks, they'd shower and then settle in together for a cuddle, talking a little and the girls would gently make love to the man of the house. No particular routine was followed and John would make love to whoever took his fancy. His favourite, though you wouldn't be able to tell from his actions, was the Westerner, Bethany Williams, whom he'd inherited on the journey to their colony.
Feeling sleepy, he was just about to drop off when the AI called him, "You asked to be reminded when it was time to brief your family." Scowling, at the interruption more than the task, John sat up, which attracted the attention of everyone else.
"I am sure that all of you have heard the rumours concerning the new arrivals and how they will impact on your position here," he began, "I can tell you, that as far as I am concerned they will have no effect." This was greeted by happy smiles all around.
"However, you are being offered a chance to change your status," continued John, "in that you can volunteer to serve in the Militia."
"We already serve in the Militia," said Libby from her position by his knees.
"Sorry, I should have started by telling you that you no longer serve in the Militia," he said. "Alex has decided that rather than telling you that you must, he will allow people who want to, to volunteer to serve. If they do then they will be granted certain rights, a home of their own, concubines, just like regular volunteers."
"And if we don't want to?" asked Bethany.
"Then you stay as you are now, my concubines," he smiled, "to do with as I please."
"Ohh goody," said Bethany crawling towards him.
"Wait," he stopped her, "this is important for all of you, and you need to think about it. If you volunteer you will not be a 'slave', you will move up in respect."
Fen, the oldest of the Chinese drones, asked, "Do you wish us to volunteer?"
"No, I want you to be happy and if that means staying with me then I'm very happy to have you, but it is only right that you are given the opportunity to volunteer, if you want to."
Fen looked across at Wei and then down to Mei, a silent conversation took place and then she looked at Bethany, who responded immediately, "Not me, I'm staying here," she said.
Libby didn't wait for Fen to ask, "I'm staying too," she declared.
"Then it is decided," said Fen, "we are all staying for as long as you'll keep us."
John Kam opened his arms and all of his family joined him in a very happy group hug.
Breakfast in the ap Rhys pod had been a solemn affair, made more so when Daniella announced that she intended to volunteer. David gave her his blessing and then looked on as the other women, who'd all declined the opportunity, hugged and kissed the thirty-nine year old.
David was finally forced, by necessity, to end the meal and get on with the day's business.
"Right, if I can have your attention," he said, "today is going to be difficult," he announced. "As soon as we've cleaned up I'm going to inform the rest of the concubines about this offer." He looked around, "For now, I'd like all of you to continue wearing the uniform and acting as you have been."
He glanced at Daniella, "Danny, if you're quick off the mark, you can pick your concubines from anyone who says they're not volunteering." He had a sudden thought, "Do you have anyone in mind?"
"No," she said, shaking her head for emphasis, "I'd never even thought about leaving."
"OK then, let's get ourselves sorted and then stage a meeting." He switched his attention, "AI, inform all concubines to be on the main deck in thirty minutes, no exceptions."
The meeting was long, because of the number of questions, most of which had been answered in the initial briefing. Then it got fraught as those who volunteered for Planetary Service set about picking their concubines. The biggest problem was the lack of men, which was an unusual occurrence for humans after they had been extracted.
As David pointed out, numerous times, there would soon be lots of Marines on the planet and if those who ended up in all female households needed sex he, personally, would arrange it.
In the end, of the four hundred and forty-five concubines who'd been handed over to the Civil Service on Neptune, ninety-three of them volunteered for service in the Planetary Militia. They accounted for one hundred and eighty-six of the spare concubines when they set up their families.
Of the thirty-seven concubines who'd been employed in the Neptune brothel, eight volunteered for service and picked their concubines from amongst their fellow workers. This still left another ten concubines to be added to the list without sponsors.
Daniella was quick off the mark; especially after the prompting David had given her and grabbed her two concubines before the other volunteers realised that they should be picking. In the end she settled on Stephanie Salle, who was already pregnant and Donald Pritchard, a young man who looked good without any enhancements.
All told implementing Governor Flower's edict raised another one hundred and three family groups for the Demeter settlement. Of more importance to David ap Rhys was the remaining number of unallocated concubines, these where his responsibility, all one hundred and seventy-four of them. Along with their children, both those running around and those yet to be born.
His despondency at the numbers was relieved somewhat when Alex informed him that a fair proportion of the concubines would be taken up by the new families being formed within the settlers already on the planet.
It took the best part of a week, with a fair amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth, to resolve most of the issues and to get Diaspora's pods to the planetary surface. Locating the pods had been one problem they'd solved in their drive to integrate the new arrivals with the original colonists.
That this was the third time in five years that some of these families had been relocated was another cause of stress but the idea that this should, hopefully, be the final time settled most people's nerves.
Finally the three leading lights in the new colony, Alex, David and Svetlana met again.
"That wasn't as difficult as I thought it was going to be," said Alex.
"I think you were lucky with your timing," said David, "Everything has been so chaotic on the ship, and here on the planet, that this was just one more annoyance. People hadn't got any idea what normal was so they didn't struggle against the change."
"David's right," added Svetlana. "My people had the option to leave their slaves back at base so they could decide to ignore your idea if they wanted to." She smiled at the younger man, "I'm looking forward to the first time you try to invoke this rule on a General," she said, her smile becoming predatory.
Alex grimaced, "I'm not looking forward to it," he admitted, "but it will happen and if the AIs are right I can make it stick." He shrugged, "but that's for the future," he said. "How are we set up now?"
David went first, "I've got sixty-five concubines left without sponsors," he said, "What do you want me to do with them?"
Alex frowned, "You said you used some of them in a brothel on Neptune, do you think we need one here?"
Svetlana jumped in, "My people are expecting one," she said, "It's why a couple of them have decided to leave their concubines on Persephone."
"David?" queried Alex.
"I'd rather not," he said, "but it has become the normal occupation for a concubine who can't find a sponsor." He paused for a moment, thinking, before continuing, "I'll ask them, I'm sure some of them will volunteer.
Alex raised an eyebrow in query.
"You haven't been here long enough to realise it yet but your sex drive, especially that of your concubines, has been jacked up," said David by way of an explanation. "Frustration can be a pretty good motivator. Another option is the concubines that are in female only families, often the sponsor will lend out one of the concubines to get them pregnant." David paused again before nodding to himself, "I'll set up a brothel, it won't be as big as the one on Neptune but it will do for now." He looked up, "What about the rest?"
"I guess the best thing is to share them out amongst the regulars," said Alex.
"Regulars?" asked Svetlana.
Alex shrugged, "I was trying to decide how to label everyone, so we knew which groups we were talking about. The best I could come up with was 'Regulars' for the full Confederacy volunteers, 'Citizens' for those who volunteered once they got here and 'Drones' for those who were owned. If you've got any better suggestions I'd be pleased to hear them?"
"Not me," said David as alongside him Svetlana shook her head negatively.
"OK, it'll do for now," said Alex. "How many of the drones do you think you'll need for the brothel?"
"Probably half of them," said David, "that'll leave you thirty to spread around."
"Less than one a family," said Alex nodding.
"Those are just minor details really," said Svetlana, "When do we get on with training," she raised an eyebrow, "which is what you're here for really."
"Yes Ma'am," answered Alex with a grin. "We'll give them a week to bed in and for you and your team to set up and then we'll get started."
David grinned at the two of them, "Well, I'll leave you two warriors to it and go and sort out my problems."
As David left the room Svetlana glanced over at Alex, "You know," she said, "he's a warrior too, he's just trying to deny it."
"Let's hope he's never forced to remember, then," said Alex as he moved over to the township map. "I think this is the best place to set up..."
"Sister Melanie," said David rising from his chair.
"Just Melanie, Tribune," said the former Sister.
David raised an eyebrow and Melanie grinned in response. "It appears that I'm coming back into the real world and, as such, that title would be more of an hindrance than a help, or so I believe."
"I see," said David, not really sure that he did, but he gestured towards a free seat and waited as Melanie sat. "Alex tells me that you want to try for the Civil Service, is that right?"
"It's the sort of thing I've done before," said Melanie, "and I'm not really a fighter like you," she finished shyly.
David snorted, "I'm not a fighter, not anymore," he said before glancing at the pile of work on his desk. "These are my battles now and, as you can see, it's a battle I'm losing."
Alex had tipped David off that Melanie might be coming to see him and had given him a quick resume of her history. "Why don't you tell me what you've done and we'll see where you can be best used."
Melanie settled back, "I was a member of the Ursuline Religious Order, a Catholic Order, dedicated to teaching." She looked at David and was surprised when he returned her gaze, "I went through college, sponsored and guided by the Order and ended up a teacher at St. Genevieve's. I'll admit that I was happy leading young girls back from the brink, providing a structure for them to follow. Other than that I've led a very sheltered life."
David looked the woman before him over and was impressed. The former Sister Melanie had been the recipient of the full augmentation package, had as all the concubines who'd come in with Alex Flowers. David had no idea what she'd been like before but now she looked to be in her early twenties and was two metres tall. Her body was firm, if not hard and was well displayed in the universal grey smock that most of the concubines still wore. It was hard to believe that the sexy woman before him had been a chaste Nun.
David had a sudden thought and asked, "What was your CAP score?"
Melanie blushed and said quietly, "Seven point three."
David exploded, "Seven point three, why on Earth didn't you volunteer?"
Melanie raised her eyes, "Because I wasn't going to fight and there were no other options."
David scowled, slumping back down in his chair. "There are," he said, "I took one of them," he paused for a moment, "but you're right. No one on Earth is talking of anything but fighting and that really is wrong." He rubbed his temples and mused, out loud, "I wonder how many others we're losing because of that attitude?"
Melanie answered him, "I know of at least four other Sisters who had CAP scores high enough to volunteer and hadn't. I'm sure that if it was checked you'd find that there whre hundreds, especially in religious orders or the medical profession that simply could not bring themselves to fight." After a short pause she continued, "I'm sure there are many who would gladly join the Exodus if they could be approached and they would be a major beneficial addition to our population."
"True," said David, "whether it will happen is a different matter."
"It's a shame we can't just go and get them ourselves, isn't it?" Melanie asked.
David looked up and smiled, his mind racing, "You know, that might just be an option," he said, "but not now." He looked Melanie over once more and after a moment's thought declared, "Welcome to the Civil Service, Decurion. Lets get you a uniform and see what task I can give you," he glanced at the pile of paperwork he still had to wade through, "I could always..."
He grinned as Melanie shook her head negatively.
Melanie stared at the woman reflected back at her in the mirror. This time the body was clad in the drab grey uniform of the Civil Service but it couldn't hide the fact that the woman was tall, well proportioned and beautiful. The beauty was natural, not part of the augmentation process and had always been a source of pride, and therefore trouble, for the religious woman who'd had the body originally.
Now, full of the raging hormones that the augmentation process had introduced, it was driving her to distraction and away from the vows she'd taken, what seemed like a lifetime ago. Thoughts of children had started to appear in her dreams and her body was developing an itch that she'd never wanted to scratch before.
Deep down she knew she needed, as the saying went, to get laid. That this was in direct conflict with the last twenty odd years of her life was something she was going to have to deal with. That Alex and David were clearly, big, strong, competent men was a temptation that she'd come very close to succumbing too.
Now, according to David, she had to go and pick a concubine, not something she was looking forward to.
She straightened her jacket, again, and despite her misgivings she smiled and headed for her rendezvous with her new boss.
David led his new recruit through the transporter and up to the ship and the remaining concubines from Neptune. As he led Melanie through the ship he explained how things had panned out for the occupants he'd bought with him from the former Marine colony. "So now, there are just women left and most of them have accepted, reluctantly in most cases, that they are going to end up in the brothel."
Melanie scowled and David, seeing the look on her face, continued, "That is one of the problems with this job," he said, "you have to do things that you don't like." He gave a significant glance to one of the waste disposal chutes that were dotted around the ship, "but the brothel beats the alternative."
Melanie clearly didn't like it but she kept quiet so David continued.
"What I'm going to let you do is pick one of these women as your concubine," Melanie opened her mouth but David silenced her with a gesture. "I know you're entitled to four but if I let you pick now you'll do it out of sympathy and that is the last thing you, and they, really need."
Melanie looked at her boss and slowly nodded in understanding, if David had let her she'd, no doubt, have picked the four most desperate cases and beaten herself up over leaving the rest to their fate.
The two Civil Service representatives entered the main hold area and found the remaining women engaged in various time consuming pursuits. All of them looked up at the new arrivals and one woman, a slightly plump figure, rose and approached.
"Hi Becky," said David, "this is Melanie..." he stopped and looked at his new Decurion. "Melanie, what is your surname?"
Melanie couldn't help it, her eyebrows raised and she chuckled, "It's Carstairs," she said after a moments thought. "You know, it's been thirteen years since I used that name."
David grinned, "As I was saying, Becky this is Melanie Carstairs, she's here to take one of the girls away." David turned slightly, "Melanie, this is Becky Fletcher, she's going to be running the house here on Demeter."
The two women nodded in greeting.
Melanie looked at the women, who'd returned to their tasks, and asked, "How do I pick one of them?"
Becky looked at David as though she wanted to say something; David gave her a nod.
"Have you got anything specific in mind?" she asked.
"No," Melanie nodded at David, "he just told me I need one to look after my house?"
"Do you have any objections to a girl who's already pregnant?"
"Not at all," said Melanie.
"Then I'd suggest taking Gail," Becky looked around and indicated a young woman on the far side of the hold. "That's her, over there."
Melanie looked at the woman indicated and saw a dishwater blond with a very large bust that the standard grey smock did little to hide. She turned back to Becky and asked, "Why her?"
Becky waved her arm around to indicate the room, "She's the only one of these who is pregnant," she said. "All of the others in that state have been taken by the people who volunteered." Becky looked Melanie in the eye and continued, "I don't think a pregnant woman would be much use in the job we'll be doing, do you?"
Melanie frowned, "If all the others who were pregnant got picked up, why wasn't she?"
"Triplets!" exclaimed Becky.
"Triplets, what sort of reason is that?" asked Melanie.
"Gail is pregnant with triplets, which proved too much for most of the new families to take on," said Becky.
"Come on," said David, "let's go talk to the girl and see what she's got to say for herself."
The girl in question glanced up as the three of them approached and put the book she was reading to one side. She rose to her feet and lowered her eyes.
David conversed with the AI as he crossed the room getting the girls particulars. "OK Melanie, this is Gail, she's twenty-one years old with a CAP score of two point four. She has very high marks in nurturing though she really needs guidance for most other things. She's currently carrying three embryos from the same father and one of the embryos is male."
"Gail," said Melanie and then waited until the younger woman looked up. "I'm looking for someone to look after my home, would you like that job?"
Gail looked from Melanie to David and then back again before nodding.
"It's yours," said Melanie, "as soon as I've got a pod organised I'll get you transferred to the planet. In the meantime collect whatever stuff you've got and get ready to move." Melanie glanced at Becky and smiled, "Could you give her a hand, please?"
Becky returned the smile, "Certainly," she said, stepping forward to gather up the young woman.
Svetlana, her face covered by the required breathing mask, looked at the reality of the rugged area Alex had indicated on the map and smiled. This was going to be a good place to break in the new recruits and get them ready for war. Around her the members of her team were doing a similar appraisal and finding themselves in agreement with their commander.
Alongside her Master Gunnery Sergeant Jacob Archer started pointing, "Range and confidence area over there," he said before twisting to his right, "Drill square about there." He then turned through a hundred and eighty degrees and continued, "classrooms, armoury, morgue..."
A short distance behind the two senior members of the training cadre the rest of the team where clustered together. Master Sergeant Isabella Kellogg flicked at her mask, "I'll be glad when we can get rid of these damn things," she said.
"At least it's only masks," answered her partner, Abigail Proctor, "It could have been full isolation suits and that really would have been a pain."
Staff Sergeant Joshua Ward added his thoughts to the conversation, "Well the AI confirmed that everything would be hunky-dory in a couple of days so it shouldn't cause any problems with training. The prefabricated sheds are being extruded as we speak and Governor Flowers has already allocated us bodies to get the place set up."
"What do you think of this Governor, Josh, is he a Prima-Dona?" asked Isabella.
"No, I don't think so," said the units’ clerk, "and from what I've heard the boss saying she doesn't either. I get the impression that he's given the job a lot of thought and rather than just react he's trying to plan things out so that there aren't any problems down the line."
"Yes, but taking away the slaves..." she said.
"If you look around, you'll find that everyone who wants their full quota of slaves has got them," said Joshua. "And how many of the other planets you've been on are preparing to defend themselves as well as this guy is after only a month." He shrugged, "I was sceptical, but the more I see the more impressed I become and his people don't seem to have any problems with what he's doing."
"That's easy enough for you to say, Josh, you've got Jane coming to join you," said Abigail, who'd elected to leave all four of her concubines behind on Persephone.
"But I left Alexandra behind didn't I, just in case." Josh continued with a smile, "But I'll tell you now, if all of this pans out the way I think it's going to then I'm going to be sending for her too, and asking to have this planet nominated as my home world."
"You really think he's going to make his ideas stick?" asked Abigail.
"The boss had me check up on what he's doing," said Joshua, "when she found out what he was up to and, you know what, he's been right in every instance." The clerk looked impressed; "I'm just waiting to see what he comes up with next."
"Won't they just replace him?" asked Isabella.
"If you mean the military, they can't," declared Joshua. "Under Confederacy law a planetary Governor has the job for life unless the ruling council orders him to stand down or he quits of his own volition."
"And?" asked Isabella, sensing that there was more.
"The Confederacy Council hasn't sacked a Planetary Governor in the last twenty thousand years according to the AIs. I'm not sure how Mr Flowers got the job, but he's stuck with it, that's for sure."
Their conversation was interrupted by a yell from Gunny Archer, "On me!"
"Alex, have you got a minute?"
Alex turned to find Johnny Porter, his designated commander of the Militia, hurrying to catch up with him. The former cadet was practically dragging another man along with him in his rush.
"What's up Johnny?" asked Alex.
"Are you still having problems getting hold of the laser rifles for the Militia?" he asked, panting slightly.
Alex frowned, it was a valid question and Johnny had a right to know, "Yes, both the AIs and the Military are of the opinion that the defence of colony worlds has to be carried out from the resources available on the planet." Alex grinned at his fellow cadet, well, former cadet, "I was thinking of staging a raid on the Marine armoury after they get it established but I'm not sure if I'd get away with it."
Johnny grinned, "That's one option," he said, "but," he waved at the man accompanying him, "I may have a more realistic option."
"And what, may I ask, is that?" asked the Planet's Governor.
"Sorry," replied Johnny, looking a little sheepish, "Alex, this is Ismael Whyatt, he's one of the drones who's volunteered for the Planetary Service."
Alex nodded, indicating both his understanding and as a greeting to the new Citizen.
"Well, before he got picked up Ismael was a gunsmith," Alex raised an eyebrow on hearing this, his interest piqued. "He says he was a pretty good one and he's come up with an idea for arming the Militia."
"Go on," said Alex.
Johnny, his breathing returning to normal, continued, "He thinks he can design, and more importantly, build a prototype weapon that the replicators can produce."
That statement summed up the problem -- the replicators -- without a good sample, or the data from a machine that had already built a working model, the machines couldn't produce the goods. They just couldn't work from an idea.
"Build?" asked Alex, somewhat surprised.
The two men smiled at Alex's reaction.
"I've been speaking to some of the crew and they tell me that the ship up there has a pretty reasonable machine room," said Ismael, speaking for the first time. "If I can get access to it, I believe I can make a rifle incorporating some of the best ideas that were doing the rounds of military weapon design."
Alex frowned, "What would we end up with?" he asked, envisioning something monstrous and probably dangerous.
Ismael fairly glowed, "Simply put, it would be a bull-pup design with flechette ammunition and an integrated grenade launcher and laser sight." He paused, "Well, that's what I would aim for. I'd need some help from the AIs to actually achieve that but I think, from the little time I've managed to scrounge with them, that it's a feasible option."
"What sort of help would you need?" asked Alex, beginning to hope but wondering if the demands would place too great a burden on the AIs.
"Mainly information about materials," said Ismael. "One thing I really want is a totally combustible cartridge case, that would make things so much more efficient."
"How long would it take," asked Alex, "to get at least a prototype."
"Well..." started Ismael.
"Let's put it another way," said Alex before the older man could start prevaricating, "the ship up there is leaving in nine days, after that you'll be on your own."
Johnny smiled, "So you want us to give it a go then, Alex?" he asked, ignoring the older man's gasp when he heard the time scale.
"Hell, yes!" exclaimed Alex.
"Right," declared Johnny, "Come on, Isie, let's get started," he grinned at Alex, "before the boss here changes his mind."
As the two men walked away Alex spoke to the planetary AI, "How much of the ship's machine shop can we reproduce here?"
"Most of it, given time," came the reply.
"How much could we 'acquire' from the ship, before it leaves?" Alex pressed.
There was a short pause, Alex assumed it was as the two AIs conferred. "We can have, either from the extra's the ship already has, or from it's own ability to replicate the equipment, just about one of everything before it leaves orbit. The items we cannot get it can give us full replication details so we can produce it ourselves."
Alex nodded to himself, thinking. "OK, get it started," he said, "and see if there are any other items that we could use."
Humming, Alex continued on his way, his mind turning over the idea of local workshops and how to go about getting them.
Alex was sat at the desk he'd set aside for doing his Governor's work, as opposed to the one he used for his military duties when he was interrupted. "Governor Flowers, I have a priority communication from Rear Admiral Cummings on Persephone, for you."
Instinctively Alex looked up to the ceiling, though he knew the AI was safely ensconced in a bunker several hundred feet below him. Shaking his head at his own reaction he asked the AI, "Did the Admiral give any indication regarding what he wished to talk about?"
"No, Sir," came the AIs response.
'Well,' thought Alex, 'he asked for the Governor, so it's probably planetary business.' "Put him through," he requested as he settling back in his chair.
"What can I do for you Admiral?" he started, doing his best to sound professional.
"What the Hell do you think your playing at," stormed a voice in his head loudly.
Alex instinctively bristled, "AI cut the line," he demanded and was rewarded as the voice disappeared. Alex took a deep breath and waited, sure that the Admiral would be back in a moment, hopefully in a less aggressive manner.
It took two minutes before the AI informed him that the Admiral in question was back on the line.
"Governor Flowers," said the same voice, though much more conciliatory, "would you please explain what it is you are up too?"
"With regard to what, Admiral?" asked Alex, fairly sure he knew what the topic was.
"This requirement you've come up with to turn the slaves loose if they're sent to Demeter," said the Admiral, confirming his suspicions.
"Admiral, I am not turning the slaves, as you call them, loose." Alex said, "What I am endeavouring to do is ensuring that there will be a planet here when the troops get back from battle."
"That's not what it sounds like from out here," replied the voice. "Requiring my boys to either turn their partners loose or leave them at home doesn't bode well for the future peace and happiness of those troops."
"Neither does leaving a hundred thousand armed 'slaves', many of whom have been abused by your 'boys', behind when we go off to war, Admiral," said Alex. "I think that is a more likely source of trouble than requiring troopers to consider the well-being of their concubines when they get here, which after all, is one of the responsibilities they took on when they picked their partners."
"Whilst that thought may have some merit, son," said the Admiral, starting to sound condescending, "it doesn't really matter. The Confederacy has set up the system where by volunteers from Earth get so many slaves for coming out here to do their dirty work and you can't change that. So, I'm afraid that your little plan will just have to be shelved."
"Sorry Admiral," said Alex, firming up his voice, "but in this case you are wrong." Alex imagined the Admiral going red at that statement before he continued, "This planet, which is a sovereign world in the Confederacy, has a requirement that all concubines are offered the chance to volunteer for Planetary Service when they arrive here and that isn't going to be changed."
"Listen son, you're in the Marines now and you have to do as I say and I'm telling you..." started the Admiral.
"Sir!" said Alex interrupting the man, "that may be your position on this matter but it is not necessarily the best option for the people of this planet. When I'm acting in the role of Governor, which is what I'm doing now, they come first, no matter how much the Marine Lieutenant, who also occupies this body, may disagree with that position or wish to obey your commands."
"Listen Flowers, you're still a British subject and I'll get the Prime Minister, or the Queen, or whoever to..."
"No Sir! I'm not British, not any more. I'm a citizen of the Confederacy, as are we all and, as such I'm obligated by their rules and standards and," he took a deep breath, "Demeter happens to be my planet so the rule will stand and will be applied to all who get sent here."
The line went dead and Alex slumped down, wondering how many times that conversation was going to be repeated before it finally registered on people that he wasn't going to change the rules to make them happy.
"Governor, the atmospheric filtering by the protective domes is no longer needed," reported the AI. "It is recommended that the force component of the dome is kept activated to ensure that any accidents during training do not damage the living accommodation or endanger lives."
Alex acknowledged the AIs message and stretched before he looked at Rebecca, "Well it looks like our holiday is over," he said to the sleep-tousled girl beside him.
"Over?" she said as she too stretched, revealing her naked body to his gaze.
"Yes," he said with a grin, "Svetlana promised me that things would get tough around here as soon as she could start training us innocents." He flicked his eyes to the ceiling, "and the AI has just informed me that the atmosphere has stabilised so it's all systems go as far as our Russian slave driver is concerned."
"Have you any idea what she's got planned?" asked the girl as she rolled onto her side.
"Only a vague outline," said Alex as he clambered off the bed and reached for his clothes. "She's talking about beginning with the regulars and then, in a couple of weeks, starting on the militia." He headed for the shower with his clothes in his arms, "Fitness training and basic drill to begin with, followed by weapons, field craft and tactics." He glanced across at his partner, "I think this is going to hurt and come as a shock to a lot of people, including us cadets, who think we've done all this already." He blew Rebecca a kiss as he disappeared into the bathroom.
Ten minutes later and dressed in his uniform he reappeared. "I've got to go and get the work details sorted out," he announced. "Before we can start training people we've got to put the training camp together."
Rebecca swung out of bed and admired her long legs for a moment, as did Alex, before asking, "How's that side of things going?"
"All the buildings are stacked and ready for assembly, we've just got to flatten the required area and then bolt them together." He watched as the naked Rebecca crossed the room heading for the shower he'd just vacated. "The robots and nanites will then hook them up to the power, water and sanitation grids overnight and that's it. Give it a couple of days and the torture can begin."
Rebecca stuck her head around the shower door, "I'll see you later then," she smiled, "maybe we can have lunch together," she fluttered her eyelashes, "whilst you've still got the energy?"
Alex grinned back, feeling a gentle throb in his groin, "Be over my desk at lunchtime and I'll show you how much energy I've got."
She grinned back at him before disappearing back into the shower.
"Major Lebedev," the AI spoke in her ear, "Governor Flowers has asked that you be informed that the ships Sir Tristam and Sir Bedivere are now in orbit. The commanders of the vessels will be meeting the Governor at thirteen hundred hours and you are invited to join them."
"Tell the Governor I'll be there," Svetlana said before turning her attention back to Gunny Archer. "The assault ships are here," she announced.
"Well, about time too," he replied with a grin.
"Come off it Gunny, you know as well as I do that the squids have only delayed us by a day. And, lets be honest," she indicated the group of recruits who were sat around in front of the armoury enjoying the sunshine, "they deserved a day off."
"True," the older Marine admitted, "those cadets have been pretty good. It's actually been a joy to teach them." He grinned at his boss, "but I'd never tell them that, it wouldn't be good for our reputations."
Svetlana nodded before asking, "What about the Militia training, how's that looking?"
"Now that is much more like we're used to," he said. "Most of the new Citizens didn't know their left from their right but they're getting the hang of it now. Though I'm not sure that Emma and Ava would agree with me on that one." The two women were the platoon commanders for the Militia training company.
"At least they're only getting the basics," said Svetlana, "We don't have to teach them about the power armour or heavy weapons."
"You know, I'm surprised at that, given the way Alex Flowers has pushed everything else." The Master Gunnery Sergeant had come to appreciate the efforts the planets Governor was putting into his job. He may not have agreed with everything but he couldn't fault the effort.
"Don't be," said Svetlana, "the Militia can only have the equipment they produce on the planet and nobody is prepared to give them the specs. of the gorilla suit or the laser rifle. The same goes for heavier weapons, though I'm surprised that they haven't fabricated at least a basic mortar."
"I think they want to," said Gunny Archer, "but they've prioritised on individual weapons and basic body armour, which, if we're truthful, is better than anything we had on Earth. The whole progress thing is limited by the capacity of their replicators, which is why the drones are out there preparing fields for planting. Having a basic crop will take some of the strain off the replicators."
"You know," Svetlana ruminated, "one thing I've noticed is that this whole Confederacy colonisation effort is that it is about as well planned as the rebuilding of Iraq was supposed to have been."
"Take it from me boss, this planet is doing a much better job of that task than we did in Iraq, I know, I was there," Gunny Archer replied, disgust evident in his voice.
Svetlana rose, "Well I've got an appointment with the Governor so I'd better get ready, hold the fort for me Gunny."
"Svetlana," said the newly promoted Captain Flowers, "allow me to present Major Abigail Richards, Captain of the Sir Tristam and Major Darren Alvares, Captain of the Sir Bedivere, the two assault ships attached to us for training. This is Major Lebedev, commander of the training team."
The three swapped handshakes and settled down as Lilian Alford, the former kitchen manager and now drone to the planet's Governor, served refreshments. Once everyone was ready Alex spoke up, "I'm not sure what the situation is with your people but are you aware of the rules concerning concubines and this planet?"
Both of the Captains glanced towards each other and Darren nodded to Abigail. "Yes Captain," she said, "we've been made aware of that rule."
"Will this present any problems?" Alex asked.
"Not at this stage," she replied, "Most of the crew have left their concubines on Persephone, and those who have accompanied us will be confined to the ships." She didn't seem very happy as she said this.
"Your choice," Alex replied, offhandedly. "Now, what toys have you bought for us to play with?"
Abigail nodded once and then launched into her lecture, "Sir Tristam and Sir Bedivere are Lancelot class assault transports and come equipped with a pair of Leopard class assault shuttles each. In addition we've both dragged along two extra Leopards for crew and ground training."
The Leopard was a versatile troop delivery craft, about the same size, in the body as the C130 transport aircraft. It could deliver two full platoons of Marines to any spot on a planet and give them fire support and protection on the way in.
"In addition we are prepared for a full Marine deployment mission and so have the required ordinance for at least a dozen simulated drops," Abigail concluded.
Alex turned to his military senior, "What do you think, Svetlana?"
"I'd hoped for the newer Panthers but the control systems are the same and operationally they are identical," she said. "You'll get all the skills you need and hopefully time to cross train onto the Panthers before you go into action."
"At least they're not Bengals," said Darren Alvares.
"Bengals?" asked Alex.
"They're a bit on the big side," explained Abigail, "officially they're drop ships, like the Leopards, but that's a bit like saying the Pacific is a big puddle. Most of the Marines who've been in them say that they're an excellent landing ship, but you wouldn't want to use them in an assault. A friend of mine who's flown one told me that they handled like a good sports car but you were always aware of how big the damned thing was."
Darren added, "The real problem with them, as far as we're concerned, is that they are too big for the Tarawa class ships. At the moment it looks like they're going to be used for second wave insertions and as mobile hospitals and command posts."
"Some are currently being used for extractions on Earth," said Abigail, "and the reports that are coming back about them in that role is that they are great."
"Yes?" asked Svetlana.
"Apparently they're that big that they intimidate the opposition," replied a grinning Major Alvares.
"Has anybody given any indication of when we'll be getting the Panthers?" asked Alex returning to the matter in hand.
"No," replied Abigail. "I know that there are at least another dozen of the Leopards earmarked for here that are just waiting for transport, other than that, nothing."
Alex shrugged; he'd only just finished basic training and didn't feel he was in a position to start gripeing about the equipment he was being given for his other job.
He grinned at Svetlana, "So when do we start, boss?"
She shook her head at him, "It's going to take some time to get them down here, checked over and tested before you and yours are let anywhere near them. You've got a lot of book work to do before you get to play."
"Oh well," said Alex, trying to look sad.
"We'll leave you to get on with your other duties," said Svetlana, rising. The two navy Captains took the hint and joined her.
As they walked away Darren asked, "Major, which of you is the boss?"
"It's a bit confusing," said Svetlana, "militarily I am, but Alex is the Governor of the planet which gives him authority over most things non-military. So far there hasn't been a clash," she noted Darren's raised eyebrow. "The slave thing?" she asked.
"Once you listen to his reasons it makes sense and I've come to agree with him and so far, for people who are staying, it hasn't proved to be a problem." She grinned at his look of disbelief, "Stick around and observe, I think you'll find I'm right.
"Well that was interesting," said Ava Leach, Master Sergeant and commander of the second training platoon.
First Sergeant Emma Fletcher, who commanded the first training platoon, nodded her agreement. "It'll be interesting to see what the boss has to say about it," she agreed.
The boss in question was having a hard time not rolling on the floor at the downbeat look her second in command, Master Gunnery Sergeant Archer, was wearing. Eventually she had herself enough under control to ask, "Have you anything to say, Gunny?"
Still shaking his head he looked at his grinning boss, "No Ma'am, not a thing."
The Marines, under the guidance of Gunny Archer, had just been well and truly suckered. Which would have been bad enough if one of the other Marines had been commanding the Militia force, but they hadn't. The Militia had been under command of a sixteen-year-old boy, Johnny Porter, the same former cadet that Alex Flowers had earmarked for the job before they'd reached the planet.
Gunny Archer had made the same mistake that the Marines had been making all through the training period, forgetting that in the crowd of civilians they were converting to fighters there were a few who'd been there already. The cadets, as part of Earth's plan to survive the Sa'arm, had been taken far beyond what was normal for the student of a military college. Not just discipline had been instilled but a sound knowledge of military history as well as a full appreciation of small unit tactics. Johnny Porter had failed the CAP score by zero point two as a fifteen year old and would, almost certainly, have passed if he'd retaken the test a year later.
As it was he had been unable to volunteer but that hadn't stopped Alex from finding him a military job that would allow him to make full use of all his acquired skills. That the regular Marines were training the Militia was a fortunate fact that both Alex and Johnny made the most of.
That it came back to haunt Gunny Archer just made it so much more enjoyable.
"Well," said Major Lebedev, "I suppose it proves we've done our job right."
"That it does Ma'am.
"Right, we'll get everyone back to camp, cleaned up and call it quits," she said.
"That's the end of the training program, isn't it?" Gunny Archer asked.
"For the Militia, yes," Svetlana replied, "The regulars have still got to finish flight training but that shouldn't take long, the way they're progressing."
"Then I suppose a party is in order?"
Svetlana grinned, "Yes Gunny, and the first round is on you."
"Tomorrow do you?"
"That'll be fine."
"I'll get it organised Ma'am."
Johnny Porter was one of the last people to arrive. His drone, Samantha Frogget clutched his arm as they entered the decorated hall. Prior to the second chance to volunteer, Johnny had been the concubine of Mandy Simpson and it had coloured his attitude towards the way that concubines should be treated. Not that Mandy had ever mistreated him, it had just given him a different perspective on the position of drone from most sponsors.
Before he'd left for this party he'd let Sam know that if she wanted to go home she could, she didn't even need to ask him before leaving.
Entering the building he was immediately struck by the noise as music blared from a set of power armour positioned against one wall, he nodded to himself in appreciation of someone's ingenuity. Across the room there were various people sitting around, talking and drinking.
An arm raised and waved to attract his attention and Johnny, recognising Gunny Archer, waved back. He pointed Samantha at the makeshift bar and told her to go get them both a drink and join him.
"Hi Gunny," he called above the noise as he joined the older man and the three women he was with.
"Stuff that, Johnny, call me Jacob," said the man from his seat. He waved to a vacant chair and said, "this lady is Berry," pointing to the woman in his arms with his chin, "the blond is Joan and the short thing is Tracy." The last girl he indicated blushed and lowered her eyes.
"Ladies, this is Johnny Porter, the commander of the planet's Militia and the guy who suckered me yesterday."
Johnny made like a goldfish as he tried to deny that he was anything special; he was saved from further embarrassment when Samantha arrived carrying their drinks. He introduced his drone and the conversations around the table resumed.
Svetlana looked around from her corner of the room and felt a flush of pleasure at how things seemed to be going. She had no intention of getting involved in any of the shenanigans that usually went with these sorts of parties but she felt duty bound to at least show her face.
She'd been a little worried when Stacy Klutch had turned up accompanied by a drone and a child but had been assured by both Stacy and the girl's mother that she was just here for experience. Svetlana had told them not to let the fourteen-year-old out of their sight and let it go. She wasn't responsible for the behaviour of the drones, the sponsor was and she was sure that Stacy was aware of that.
Emma Fletcher looked across the table she was sharing with Darrel Wheeler and Abraham Schroeder and felt an itch that hadn't been scratched for some time. "Well, gentlemen," she asked, "are we here to party or are we here to 'party'?"
"Oh definitely 'party'," said Abraham, "Isn't that right, Daz?"
"Absa - fucking - lootly," declared the former cadet, already feeling the effects of the beer he'd been drinking.
"Then lets get started," declared the Marine and urged her two drones, Sandra Doral and John Rough, up onto the table.
"Strip!" she barked at them and watched happily as the two of them began to move to the rock music blasting around the hall. The two cadets needed no further prompting and, following the regular Marine's example, got their drones up on the table and performing a striptease.
This simple act broke the ice and all over the room the party got into full swing, as it did so Svetlana rose and slowly made her way home, muttering about it better to be safe than sorry.
"Johnny," asked a very happy Jacob Archer, "can I have a go with Samantha?"
Johnny looked at his drone and raised an eyebrow, the woman gave a nod of agreement and Johnny opened his arms to let her go. Samantha rose and undulated around the table to the big Marine and slid onto his lap when he indicated this was where he wanted her.
"Tracy," summoned the Marine and when she looked up he pointed at Johnny. No other words were said as the young girl rose and crossed to the cadet.
Bright red she looked at him, her lips quivering, waiting for instruction. Johnny patted the seat beside him and when she sat he gently placed his arm around the girls' shoulders and pulled her next to him. Jacob already had his hands under the standard grey smock that Samantha was wearing and was having a good feel of the goods. After a couple of minutes he looked across at his other two concubines and scowled.
"You two," Jacob said quietly, "why don't you entertain each other." He blinked a couple of times and then added with a grin, "On the table."
Tracy buried her head into the side of Johnny's neck at this, the heat from her blush warming his neck and reminding him that he had a pretty girl in his arms. He twisted slightly and whispered into the girl's ear, "Watch the show."
The show didn't take long to get into full swing. Berry stood and pulled her smock over her head before climbing onto the table. Joan was a little slower off the mark and froze when Berry grabbed her smock and pulled it upwards. Berry helped her naked partner onto the table and pushed her onto her back before dropping onto the blonde's more than generous tits. She wrapped her mouth around the first distended nipple she came to and tried to pull Joan inside out with suction.
Johnny thought this was a bit brutal but judging by the way Joan spread her legs and grabbed Berry by the hair it was the right thing to do in her case. Without noticing it his own hand was gently fondling the breast of the girl in his arms, his movements corresponding to those of Berry before him.
Across the room Emma was thoroughly enjoying her time with the two former cadets. The young men may have been sweet and innocent when they left Earth but they had been through a very impressive training course on their journey to Demeter. Now they were working hard together to ensure that their military instructor was enjoying herself and benefiting from their youthful enthusiasm.
"Switch!" demanded Daz as he pulled his juice coated prick out of Emma's hot pussy. He was moving towards the opposite side of the table before his partner had disengaged his hard prick from the Marine's tonsils, but the way was clear by the time he got there.
Looking at the juice-coated prick Emma moaned, "Oh my favourite, Emma flavoured boy meat. Give it here big boy." Daz, never one to disappoint a lady, did just that, slipping his prick between the soft lips of the willing Marine.
At the other end of the table Abraham slid his prick into the hot welcoming pussy that Darrel had just vacated and gritted his teeth, coming too soon was the last thing he wanted to happen.
On the table next to them the threesome of drones were entertaining themselves. John was flat on the tabletop and was being circled by four naked women who took it in turn to wrap their lips around his impressive erection. A quick stroke up and down was all they gave him before they moved on leaving a stiff, glistening prick beckoning the next willing mouth to worship it.
Jacob lifted Samantha and wriggled, lining his now freed prick with the moist gash that had been in his lap and lowered the woman gently, sighing as he made entry. He held her in place just letting his hardon soak for a few moments before he began to flex his hips to a slow beat that only he could hear.
On the table before him Berry and Joan had rolled into the classic sixty-nine position and were still going at it for all they were worth.
Johnny had given up on what was going on around him and was concentrating on the girl in his arms who had come out of her shell and was engaged in a frantic tongue wrestling match with him. Her smock had been dropped around her waist allowing the cadet full, unfettered access to her pert breasts.
A soft, repeated grunt broke into their consciousnesses and caused them to part and look around. The noise was coming from Samantha who was rising up and then dropping down on Jacob's erection. She let out the little grunt each time she hit bottom before rising up onto her toes, ready for another drop.
Tracy looked on as the couple continued to copulate and whispered, "Please," in Johnny's ear.
"You want that?" he asked just to be sure.
Bright red, the girl nodded which was just what he wanted to see. Grinning from ear to ear he ripped open his trousers exposing a more than ready erection before he reached for the girl and guided her into his lap. As he positioned her she grasped his prick and ensured that it was in the right place. Lowering herself down she gasped when she hit bottom and then proceeded to match Samantha, stroke for stroke.
Bellowing, Jacob blew his load up the more than ready Samantha's pussy, setting her off. The noise she made as she came was enough to trigger a similar response in Tracy who clamped down hard on Johnny's prick. That was sufficient to milk an orgasm that the young man had been fighting to hold off for the last couple of minutes. He let out a grunt that was the equal of Gunny Archer's performance and dropped back drained.
Abraham finally gave up the struggle and buried his prick to the hilt in Emma's hot pussy and shot every last sperm he possessed into her. His pulsing cock was the trigger that she'd been waiting for and she screamed around the cock in her mouth, Daz fearing the worst dragged his delicate equipment away from those teeth but not before she gave his sensitive tip a final swipe with his tongue.
He was shooting white juice as he left her lips, the first pulse staying behind and the next couple plastering her face. Exhausted he collapsed into a convenient chair and looked on as Abraham dragged himself up off the Marine's ample chest and grinned.
"Oh! That was good," said the young man before he dropped to his knees.
All around the hall newly qualified Marines, Citizens and drones did their best to ensure that the human race would continue, enjoying their work as they did so.
"So, Sammie, what was the party like last night?" asked thirteen-year-old Alison Colon.
Sam Ferry looked at the group around her and giggled. They were desperate to hear what she had to say, which was hardly surprising, given that they were nearly all adults -- at least under the new rules.
"Fun," she said, "and very educational."
"Come on, Sammie, make with the details," pleaded Paul Llewelyn, the only boy there.
"Well I watched on as mom got drilled from both ends," she said as a taster.
"Drilled?" asked Fen Ho, the other thirteen-year-old.
"You know, screwed, fucked, however you want to phrase it," said Sammie.
"Oh..." responded Fen, blushing.
"Yeah," said Sammie, "one of the Marines had his big dick up her pussy while good old Martin Walters was pushing his stiff one down her throat." She glanced around before adding, "I thought mom'd hate it but she kept pushing her ass backwards and grabbing hold of Martin's thighs to keep him in tight."
"Cool!" exclaimed Paul., "Did you see my mom?"
"No, was she there?" asked Sammie.
"Yeah," said Paul, "I think most of the adults who've finished training were there."
"It was pretty full," said Sammie, "and I wasn't allowed to wander too far, just in case."
"Just in case?" asked Fen knowing her questions made her seem naive but she was desperate to know more.
"Stacy told me that I was too near adulthood to take the chance that someone would decide I was fair game. I could look, even touch with permission, but that I wasn't going to have sex until the AIs declared that I was an adult." The look Sammie wore as she made this statement clearly defined her position on the matter. "I might have wheedled a concession out of mom but Major Lebedev agreed with Stacy so I was stuck."
The four of them passed the perimeter markers for their township and kept going. The planet had been declared as non-hostile and, mainly because no one had thought it necessary, no limits had been imposed on travel.
The need for privacy couldn't be met in the hectic environment of the township. The houses were too small and people were to busy for it to be dealt with so the children, like Sammie and her friends, had taken to wandering beyond the town limits.
"I'll tell you one thing Ali," said Sammie.
"You're going to have to learn to like girls."
"Yes, way," said Sammie, "Every woman I could see did it at least once to another woman." She looked at her younger friend seriously, "In some cases it was the only sex they got all night."
"Is that the reason I'm here, now" she demand.
"Don't be stupid Ali, you're here because you're a friend," she said, "I'm just telling you like it is."
"She's right, you know," said Fen. "Both my father and first wife Shuang have told me I will need to practise the art before I'm declared an adult."
"And you think that makes it right?" demanded Alison.
"Right or wrong doesn't enter into it," said Sammie, "it's a fact of life for us and the sooner you get used to it the easier life will become."
The four of them continued in silence as Alison sulked and the rest didn't want to get into a fight with her.
They crested a small rise and Paul stopped, looking over the open valley with its small stream meandering down the centre. A couple of stands of the local trees broke the isolation and added a hint of colour to the fertile green of the grassland.
"What's the problem?" asked Sammie after she'd gone on ten metres and realised that she wasn't being followed.
"No problem," said Paul, "I was just thinking..."
"And," prompted Fen after a minute's silence.
"Twenty years from now," said Paul, "when we've kicked the Sa'arm's butt. I want to come out here to a place like that and build a home. A good strong place to raise a family, you know, in the big open spaces."
"Amen," whispered Alison as she too began to dream of the future.
Back to Index