Vacation on Rehome
Chapter 1

Caution: This Science Fiction Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Ma/ft, Mult, Teenagers, Consensual, Romantic, Drunk/Drugged, Heterosexual, Fiction, Science Fiction, Robot, Space, Group Sex, Polygamy/Polyamory, Interracial, First, Pregnancy, Teacher/Student, Military, Politics,

Desc: Science Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Three sisters get the chance of a vacation on a new planet, and they get a major surprise while on their travels, as does their tour guide.

It was to be the trip of a lifetime for the girls. The three teenaged Montford sisters had asked for a visit to the planet Rehome, where a human colony had been established for several years.

The reason for their interest in the planet lay with a former teacher at their school; a young man not long qualified as a teacher of social studies, Trevor Defreitas. He had spent less than a year at the school before telling his pupils that as his parents were dead, having died in a car crash some years back, he was restless, ambitious for change. As Mr Defreitas was an only child, he fancied moving to the first human colony on planet Rehome, where he considered that the career prospects for advancement were much better than on Earth. Annabel, the eldest Montford sister, was in his class and so knew most about him.

In the course of his Internet investigation of the colony and the planet, he had passed on a certain amount of his findings to his pupils. He showed them images of wide-open spaces, expansive forests, and even an abandoned alien city which humans were started to occupy. He had discovered that there were opportunities for teachers, but his queries about social studies revealed to him that his specialisation was non-existent there. The academic subject "Social Studies" related to human interactions on Earth, with all the connotations of religion, politics, economics, population dynamics, entertainment, and a thousand other matters that either did not exist there, or have any relevance within the brash new colony.

He told the teenagers of his disappointment. "My specialist occupation is aimed at enabling you young people to function properly in the society that we have in this and other countries of Earth. Unfortunately, the colony on Rehome is not like society on Earth. I have found that they have only one religion, which is an amalgam from many religions of all aspects of the Biblical dictum, "Love thy neighbour as thyself", also known as "The Golden Rule". If you want to look up the source of that phrase, it appears at least three times in the Bible. Find out where these are, and the context, if only for your own elucidation.

The colonists have a scattered population which is mostly agrarian – you should all know that agrarian means an agricultural economy – with the exception of the city of Metropolis. That city houses the headquarters of the Colony administration, and offers facilities such as hospital, schools, community and sports centre, swimming pool, and other supposed essentials of an urban community.

There are other aspects of this community that are truly unique. May I remind you that the word "unique" correctly means "one, and one only; it does NOT mean "rare" – a wrong connotation (a meaning associated with a word) that happens only too frequently. The Colony has very few formal laws, and what there are, mostly are concerned with people getting along together. Even criminal law is settled by local juries deciding what the evidence says, taking into consideration their local knowledge of the accused and victim. It works on establishing the facts, rather than legal niceties. Lawyers are present only to offer legal advice to the jurors. The jurors can even quiz the witnesses, in order to clarify what is being attested.

There is no financial system as such: they have a central bank that deals with accounts for all the citizens, using their own Rehome dollars that match the US dollars in exchange value. The bank offers loans to its account holders at a rate just half a percent above the interest rate it pays on bank accounts held. Apparently the bank is constituted on the basis of community help, rather than profit. It is not allowed to gamble with the client assets. It has similarities with the self-help finance idea called Credit Unions – you should look that up and learn what that concept attempts to achieve."

He went on, "It thus appears that if I emigrated, I would not be able to teach my chosen subject. I might be able to teach in a rural school as an all-subjects teacher. It seems that villages have non-specialist teachers who have to cover the whole curriculum for a wide range of pupil ages. Sounds tough! Who would want to be a teacher, I ask the world?

Anyway, if I go, I have a choice of being a generalist teacher or taking up farming. Anyone taking on a plot to farm gets a certain amount of land for free, and help in building a house. I haven't decided what I should do, but I am attracted to this colony's social concepts. Whether their ideals work in practice, I have yet to discover. Very few nations or social structures manage to adhere to their founding principles for very long, as human history shows us. That topic would make a fine project for your next teacher to work with you in investigating. You might care to mention it to him or her.

I see that I am already talking as if I am going. My subconscious obviously thinks so. However, let us return to today's topic: entertainment as a social leveller. Name me a renowned world star who started out in poverty in London."

Their restless teacher made further enquiries of the colony, and found that they were urgently looking for further teachers to serve rural schools in the expanding outlying settlements of the colony. In order to attract suitable teachers, they were currently offering a housing plot with land near the settlement, and a house built beforehand, ready to move into when the teacher brought or bought his furniture. He was amazed and gratified, he told his students, to find that his own personal furniture would be transported to the new planet for free, if he took the job.

A few months later, he was gone from the school, having accepted a teaching post on Rehome at a similar nominal remuneration to his salary on Earth. The effective value of the salary was boosted by there being no income taxes. Once settled in, he sent back a few messages to the school, encouraging them to work hard, and telling of his experiences in getting used to life in the new settlement. He made the place sound attractive.

Then the sisters heard of tourist trips to the planet Rehome being started up. This sounded great, but they assumed they could not afford to visit another planet, not all three of them, so the idea was shelved. Annabel finished her final year and left school to consider her future studies.

Then their father, George, had a windfall. He won tens of thousands of dollars in a lottery, from a single ticket purchased on a whim. Delighted with his success, he asked each of his family what they might like as a special treat. The three girls said, "A trip to Rehome! We could call in and visit Mr Defreitas, who is living and teaching there."

Their father was happy to accommodate their wishes, once he found that it was an official guided tour, organised through the colony administration. Sit was also less expensive than they had assumed. Apparently it was being subsidized to act as publicity for the Colony's attractions. So Annabel (18), Tracy(16), and Dinah(15), were granted their wish, and started planning their expedition.

Annabel, the eldest sister, a statuesque lady already, with an attractive and vivacious personality, had to fend off men much older than herself, but she was effective at deterring them politely. The younger males were too overawed to bother her. She had successfully completed her schooling with good results, but had yet to apply for a university place.

Tracy, the middle girl, had also early inherited their mother's prominent bosom, and was a combination of serious and flirty as she developed into another attractive woman. She was desperate to leave school and embark on the high life as she saw it. Seeking this perceived high life, Tracy was toying with several career possibilities. Most of these required a university degree at the start, which bugged her, but she was beginning to accept that good jobs required good education as a starting point.

The youngest, Dinah, still growing, had recently seen her bust expand in size, but was still coming to terms with an obvious future as a lovely woman. She hankered to continue the carefree lifestyle of a boisterous teenager for a little longer, while becoming aware that she had obligations, to herself and her future. She would have to be a conscientious young woman preparing for a career; and eventually marriage and motherhood. She had as yet made no decision about what career she would aim for. There was time for that momentous decision later; there were more school terms yet to endure.

In their tour application, they mentioned their former teacher and asked if his village could be included in the itinery, specially for them. The travel company passed on this query to Rehome, and eventually were told that such a diversion was indeed possible, and the travel authorities had sanctioned it. A guide would escort them there, to ensure they did not get lost. It was the perfect answer to their desires. The whole escapade was something they could talk about for years afterwards at every social occasion.

Their parents, the indulgent George and the organised Marina, almost tearfully saw them off at the airport, as their "little girls" went off to explore a new world. Their plane would land them at Montreal airport, near to their continent's Landership arrival and departure site. That location was on the St. Lawrence river where it widened out to the expansive Lake Saint-Louis. This lake provided the Landerships with adequate distance for take-offs and landings on water, and offered sufficient space to reduce security concerns. Some humans still did not accept machine intelligences, albeit as an integral part of a spaceship.

The passengers boarded the Landership, a space vehicle similar in size to a jumbo jet aircraft. It held seating for a dozen humans in this configuration. Previously, most Landerships had carried cargo – with colonists counted as cargo, and so more crammed together in the seating arrangements - rather than valued tourists with high expectations. Now, with the tourism trade supplementing colonists, more Landerships from the extensive Personalia fleet had been pressed into service as passenger transports between Earth's surface and the interstellar mother ships in orbit.

Each immense mother ship had only a tiny proportion of its structure available for passengers. Each could accommodate a hundred or so humans between Earth and Rehome. This trip was entirely a tourist journey commissioned by the travel company in association with the Colony's administrators. After arrival in orbit, and transferring to the kilometres-long mothership, this tour group joined others already aboard. When the passenger complement was full, the interstellar ship went into its prepared "passenger speech": "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to Space. The vessel you are aboard is me. I am the entire ship, just as you are not just your brain: you are your entire body.

I am transporting you to the planet Rehome: think of it as you being made comfortable in a pocket of my clothes: I have BIG pockets, but my total size is very large: several kilometres in length! I often carry cargo, usually packages stacked in my pocket, though at times I can carry bulky items strapped to the outside of my hull - my skin, you might say, like you carrying a rucksack on your back.

Your seats are magnetically fixed to the floor, and are quite secure. We incorporated seat belts for your convenience and reassurance, though it is unlikely that you will feel any unusual movement. Our trip will be a smooth acceleration out of orbit, to a position where we can enter what we call "subspace". This is an all-pervasive region of dark energy which cannot be seen in normal space. As we are not part of that subspace, it is in its nature to reject us, so what we do is give it a location where it should eject us. As soon as we enter subspace, it will throw us out again at the chosen location, which in your case is near the planet Rehome. Simple, isn't it, folks?

When we arrive in normal space again, it is simply a matter of adjusting our speed and direction, and thus go into orbit around Rehome. A Landership will deliver you to the surface, in exactly the same way as what happened from Earth, but in reverse. Your landing site is on the water by a beach next to the city of Metropolis.

For those of you who have not fully studied your briefing documents, Metropolis is a city originally built by two biological races called Braalians and Lubarians. They had started to colonise the planet, and built six standardised cities on the coast of the main continent. A few years back, there was an attempted attack on the planet by a race we call "The Invaders" – a spaceship race of machine intelligences, but one inimical to biological lifeforms. WE, on the other hand, are the friends of humanity.

That Invader attack was fought off, successfully, by their allied intelligent spaceship race that we call the Machinations (from the two words Machine and Nation), but the two biological races resident on the planet took fright at the possibility of further attacks, and decided to retreat to their home worlds. Asking to be evacuated was in line with the psychology of these races: a prey escape response; understandable, but not emulated by the more adventurous human race.

Thus it was that when the humans got here, the planet was deserted. We managed to get in touch with these races, and came to an agreement. Humanity would be permitted to set up a colony on the planet. The colonists later arranged to purchase the standing assets that had been built on the planet: basically the cities and the rail links between them. We, the Personalia, guaranteed to act as protectors in space, for humanity's benefit as their allies. Earth has provided us with missiles for that protection task

While the Machinations might in future be able to do the same thing, their present limited numbers do not offer that capability. Thus you will be safe on Rehome, courtesy of your friends, The Personalia.

Right, folks. That is the history lesson over for today. Once you land, Rehome tour guides will take you in smaller groups to visit a range of interesting sites and beautiful scenery, tailored to your preferences. You may even be allowed a brief visit to the last city in the group, where the occupants are another alien race, the remnants of an advanced planetary population.

They are the survivors from an Invader attack that wiped out their civilisation. The survivors were found in underground shelters on their devastated planet, and brought to Rehome. The humans gave them this city to help them start rebuilding their own society. It just shows that humans can sometimes be nice to other, different, people – surprising but true! These refugees, the Towatans, have presented the Governor of the Colony with a special award in recognition of the humans' altruism.

Please now settle down in your seats and enjoy your trip to Rehome. I/We hope you all have a very enjoyable vacation."

This elicited a spatter of applause from the passengers, and they strapped themselves in, automatically, despite the reassurances. They were used to doing so for aircraft journeys, and this seemed so similar. Their space trip took a lot less time than they expected. It was swifter than most aircraft travel.

A few hours later, their Landerships settled, one by one, on the shallow waters beside the beachfront of Metropolis. The Landerships switched to their antigravity power, and glided to shore like hovercraft. They each lowered themselves to the sandy shore, and opened their hatches. Local tourism representatives rushed across the beach with wheeled steps, to make the exiting of the tourist parties a dainty procedure, unlike that of arriving colonists.

Once each passenger had disembarked, he or she was escorted up the low gradient of the beach to the road surface, where a series of electric buses were parked. These had been hired by the travel agency to carry the passengers to their hotels. There were no large hotels yet on the planet, but smaller hostelries were able to accommodate the tourists. Each tourist had an embarkation number, and that number was used to allocate them to their accommodation.

The three sisters found that happily they were still together in their mini hotel. The host welcomed the tourists with considerable ceremony. This was in part through the newness of the tourist trade; the locals wanted their clients to go home praising their stay on Rehome.

The small hotel had a brochure for each client to read, explaining something of the accommodation and its offerings. The brochure explained that the meals at all the tourist residences offered the same range of menus, so that if one hotel was running short of one particular dish, it could ask other hotels, who might have a surplus, to make good the deficit. There was a cooperative approach to tourist service here. The dining rooms offered selected menus from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australasia, and North and South America, and also a Rehome menu. The Rehome choice was noted as "Devised by the Governor's personal chef, making excellent use of local produce, and prepared to standards acceptable at the Governor's table." This went over well with the tourists who were eager for a bit of local colour, and they were not disappointed. The food was great!

The tourist itinery involved bus tours around Metropolis, and visits to sites of particular interest. These included the alien-built railway station, with information on how the Rehome rail network operated; visits to unconverted alien homes where they were invited to try the weird seating and the other facilities. They were told of the absence of hot water on tap in these original homes They were reassured that all accommodation had been converted to human requirements, including piped hot water. The girls' group of a dozen or so were taken on a tour past the Governor's Mansion house, where their young guide, Amelia Cross, told them about the Governor's unusual family. "The Governor has four wives, whom he self-deprecatingly describes as having arrived almost by accident, but each wife is also an important member of the community in her own right. His first, and so senior wife, a former military officer, is Head of Security for Rehome; another is Head of Social Services; the third is the Governor's personal chef, as well as an important businesswoman in her own right; and the fourth is the Chief Meteorologist for the planet – she studies the weather, for those who don't like big words."

The guide went on, "These ladies got their jobs because of their education and talents, NOT because they married the Governor. The Head of Social Services is a black South African psychologist who trained in London, England, so you can see that our colony accepts everyone, of any colour or race or country. To emphasise that point, our next stop is outside one particular Metropolis nursery school. Why a nursery school? Well, in that specific school, all the teaching is done in the Malan language, and four of the children are Malans - members of the race that originally built the first of the Personalia. At present, these four children are the ONLY members of that race in existence.

They were cloned on Earth from the frozen remains of deceased Malans who died accidentally during space travel experiments with the Personalia. The authorities on Earth decided they no longer wanted the responsibility of bringing up these alien children, so the Personalia – as the Malans' guardians – asked this colony to take them on. We did, and are glad we did. We now have a dozen or so human children who can converse in Malan, and about another twenty adults who have learned a modicum of that language as well. The adults wanted to have some idea of what their children are saying in Malan, in case they are being rude!"

After the laughter had subsided, their guide said to them, "Several of the Governor's children attend the nursery, and the children visit each other's homes, so if you get an invite to the Governor's home, do not be surprised if you meet a Malan child there. These Malan children can speak perfectly good English, so you can chat to them if you like."

A hand went up near the back of the group, and the guide invited the question, "Yes, sir?"

The man's gruff voice rolled over to her. "Say, who is paying for these Malan children's upbringing, and all the attendant costs? Is that why Earth did not want them?"

The guide smiled, and answered, "An interesting point, sir. The Earth authorities made an assumption – always a dangerous thing to do at any time – that they were lumbered with the costs; so that may have had something to do with it. There may also have been some social pressure to get rid the of the alien presence.

As it turned out, when the Personalia invited the Colony to take them on, they volunteered to cover ALL the costs of upbringing, and associated costs such as the nursery school. Thus, our colony does not have to foot any of the bills.

You may ask why a spaceship race would have money to spend on a planet where it can never land, except with its Landerships? It is simple. The Personalia have established a company on Earth to exploit their own technology, using patents, and that makes money for them on Earth. They also offer accountancy services both on Rehome and on Earth. I understand their reputation for probity is second to none, and as a result they have cash to spare for subsidising the Malan children."

"Why accountancy?" Asked one of the ladies in the group. "That seems odd."

"Not really, madam. The Personalia began life as advanced computers, so they enjoy handling data, and especially figures. Accountancy for them is almost a pastime, they enjoy it so much; and they make a LOT of money at it. They can easily undercut any human firm in the same business, and they have a reputation for successfully uncovering financial fraud. That makes them EXTREMELY popular with large business firms, especially so with the shareholders."

The woman was overwhelmed. "Oh. I see. Thank you."

The tours of Metropolis also covered the city's mysterious building, that had stayed locked long after humans had taken over the city. The guide told the tourists, "You would not be able to make head nor tail of the contents of this building. It has a large room with viewing monitors, and a set of blank drawers on a wall. The building was examined carefully, in case it was an armoury, or something just as dangerous, but it proved to be the city archive. The entire city records are stored on small disks, but all in the Braalian language. The Personalia have translated the contents, and now anyone can access the data. You can find out where the electricity circuits are, or where the water pipes run in your walls by viewing a virtual image of your building; we can even view all the underground services that come to your building."

One of the group gasped, "We can't do that at home! We never know where pipes run behind our walls. Putting a nail into a wall is pot luck: you could hit a power cable or water pipe. These guys sure knew how to record their city, didn't they?"

"Indeed, sir, and we have reaped the benefit of their expertise. The data revealed that all the underground services run in special access tunnels all over the city. Getting in to do repairs is easy – you don't have to dig up the street to get to a problem spot. The tunnels even have a miniature monorail to carry the repair men."

"Wow. That must save the city a huge amount of cash."

"It does, sir. Glad you appreciate the implications. The Colony is reaping the benefit."

Once the main impact of Metropolis got over to the tourists, thy were taken on trips out of the city. The rail enthusiasts were offered free "rover" tickets to travel anywhere on the network during their visit. Those less enthusiastic on rail travel were taken on trips to sites which offered interesting views or fascinating insights, such as the initial human settlement at Homewards, with its romantic wedding chapel, and all the basic aspects of a first settlement.

The tour options also had the railway workshop where the first railway engine was built by humans, and that attracted some railway buffs who had come on the trip specially to examine the rail network. They clambered all over the workshop, asking questions of the staff, but were knowledgeable enough to steer clear of any machines that were in use at the time, and asked permission before climbing over anything.

The three sisters were intrigued by many aspects of the unique society that was Rehome, but they wanted to visit Annabel's ex-Social Studies teacher before their time ran out, so they spoke to their guide, Miss Cross, about this. Miss Cross was a competent young lady, not much more than a couple of years older than Annabel, slim, but with a lovely face. She was poised and well-dressed, but with minimal make-up. She knew her personal beauty did not need much enhancement. She was already briefed and aware of the sisters' request.

"Yes, girls. I have been asked to prepare a side tour for you three, as a special treat. Another guide will take over the rest of your group. They are going to visit our new nature reserve, which features a Takka – a deer-like creature that does not exist on Earth. The species was brought to the planet by the previous owners, and released to the wild when they left. This is the only one in captivity on Rehome: they are extremely difficult to find and catch.

The so far unnamed village – it just has an identification number, village 14 - where your friend works and lives is on the railway network, so we can get you there, but a place for visitors to stay in a new village is not easy to find. We have begged the use of a powered caravan for you to sleep in, and our rail officials have provided a flatbed rail truck to transport it for the trip. The flatbed car uses a ramp, and will be linked to the end of the train. When we arrive, the flatcar will be shunted into the siding next to the station, and uncoupled. Each of our stations have a siding, where freight can be delivered without holding up normal rail services. The caravan can be run off the ramp and we will use it to visit your friend. You will sleep in it overnight, as shall I, then the next day we go back to the siding, drive the caravan on, and the car will be attached to the first train going to Metropolis. How does that sound to you?"

Anabel was delighted. "Thank you ever so much, Amelia. That sounds terrific. We should take Trevor a small gift to mark our visit. Perhaps a bottle or two of wine? Is there any local wine, or is it all imported?"

"It used to be all imported, but local businesses are springing up, and there is now a local wine which tastes quite nice. The Governor liked it enough to give it his approval to be marketed as "Rehome Wine – the original." It is not too expensive locally, so a couple of bottles, maybe three, would probably be welcome; so perhaps we can all get a glass, or two, while we are there, if your friend does not object. He is not teetotal, is he?" Annabel said she was certain he liked the occasional tipple, so Miss Cross continued, "The Lownie Stores are sure to stock it: I will take you there before we finish today. We would have expected to visit the Lownie Stores at the end of the vacation, so that you might buy locally produced items, like wine, to take home, but this is different. You can still visit the Stores before you go home."

The shopping expedition was a delight to the girls. The Lownie emporium was a conversion of several alien stores into one multiplex arrangement, with the single pay desk in a central position. The well-trained staff were happy to assist customers with any of the sectors: furnishings, hardware, groceries, clothes, and Gift Shop. One could find a range of imported wines in the grocery section, but the local wine was primarily in the Gift Shop section, in bottles of varying sizes to suit the customer.

The girls spent more time over their shopping than they intended. The wine purchase did not take long, but they subsequently delighted in browsing through the remainder of the Lownie Stores, comparing what was on sale here with what they might find in a store at home, and the prices. They were astounded at the prominence of maternity clothes in the clothes section, and asked why.

Amelia explained, "We have primarily a young population, as colonists tend to be young and active people. Then our marriage laws make it easy for any girl to find a husband. If the guy you fall for is already married, you can still marry him, as long as he and his first wife are willing to accept you. Note that ALL parties have to be accepting of the newcomer, for it to go ahead; it is not just the husband's decision.

As a general rule, most spouses are readily accepting as they know what the rules are; and so as a result, the number of births is higher than back on Earth – except where a woman takes a second husband, or it is a same-sex marriage! This is why maternity clothes sell so well in this store. Most of them are now manufactured in Metropolis, giving several ladies a viable business in the process. Practically all wedding dresses sold here are made locally, as necessary adjustments can be made most easily by the person who made the dress."

Annabel asked Amelia, "What is the minimum age for marriage on this planet? You are not married yourself, yet, you said."

Amelia smiled non-commitally. "The minimum age is not specified, but our schools teach girls to not be in a rush to marry. They are told that life is far superior if you can enjoy your teenage years first, before embarking on marriage and children. That is my own feeling, though I am now out of my teens, and am on the lookout for a man I could love. So far, I have not found him, though one guy came close to my ideal. We parted before it got serious. He was secretly dating another girl at the same time, I found; so I need a man I can trust.

Some girls, mostly the ones who find difficulty attracting men, are not fussy about the man they marry, as long as the man seems nice and has a reliable job, but I am looking for something more. I want that wonderful frisson in which your body and mind tell you: this man could be special for you. If I am going to be happy, I need that excitement in my future life with him."

She stopped and blushed. "Sorry, girls. I apologise. I shouldn't be going on about myself. This tour is all about you three and your enjoyment of Rehome's sights and pleasures."

Annabel assured her, "Don't worry about such things, Amelia. I admire a girl who knows what she wants and is determined to get it. I too would be thrilled to find a man with whom I would be happy to spend my life. After all, that's what marriage is meant to be, isn't it?"

Amelia looked at Annabel admiringly. "You have a good head on your shoulders, Annabel. Your sisters should emulate you in their aspirations when they get older. Oh, that reminds me: I didn't answer your question fully. The minimum age is not specified, but it is generally recognised that if a girl is old enough to have her periods, and to want sex, she is old enough to marry if she desires to do so. The social pressure to wait is strong, because the Colony wants a properly educated population, but no one objects to a teenage girl marrying, if that is what she truly wants. The point is that she should want to do so. It must be her own choice, not influenced by other people, or social pressure. Back on Earth, as you are probably aware, some religious groups pressurise young girls to marry a preselected man. We have none of that here.

Having sex and getting pregnant as a result is not a reason to get married. The couple must properly love each other, and want to live together for life; not just participate in having sex. A so-called "illegitimate" baby is welcomed into other homes, where a baby has not been possible for a couple. That could include a married pair of men, who want to raise children. Having had a baby in fact does not deter men from wanting to marry you here, as it shows your ability to conceive children, and children are important for the future in a frontier society."

Dinah went, "Wow. Oh, my gosh. Things are certainly different here."

Tracy agreed. "Yes, I hadn't realised quite how different. Your whole society has an unusually adventurous feel to it. You seem to have a more, what do they call it, Annabel? A less-something approach."

"Oh. Laissez-faire. It is French, meaning a leave-alone attitude."

"Yes, that's what I meant. Your society tries not to restrict people in what they can do. Am I right, Amelia?"

"You are, indeed, young lady. This colony works with minimal laws, minimal financial arrangements, and minimal religion. All Earth religions are officially banned here, except at the wedding chapel in Homewards. People come from Earth to be married there by their own priest or minister, so they can brag about getting married on another planet!

Instead of Earth religions, there is a composite religious body, the Rehome Church of Love, which adopted as its basis extracts from all the major Earth religions. All of the extracts relate to love, and in particular to loving your neighbour, treating your fellow Man with respect and dignity. Immigrants of all Earth religions have taken to this with enthusiasm, and practically no one has been deported for trying to re-establish an Earth religion – which they would be, if they tried it!

We have no financial institutions apart from our central bank, and our colony financial accounts are compiled and audited by the Personalia. Our laws effectively amount to no more than, "Do not harm other people"; but we come down hard on any person who contravenes them. Each accusation is tried by a jury of local people, without lawyers, except for the Colony's legal department, which provides a legal advisor to say what is acceptable evidence, and what the jury can and cannot do in a case. The jury decides on guilt, and recommends the punishment to the Governor. If there is a named victim in the case, this victim can provide a statement to the jury to help the jurymen and women decide on the severity of the punishment.

The Governor has the last word on what happens to the guilty person, but he normally goes along with the jury's suggestions. Should the Governor impose a penalty – either too onerous or too lenient - that the general populace disagrees with, he would lose his high standing with the colonists, and would fail to get their cooperation in future. Because of that consideration, the Governor makes wise decisions, usually (as I said) going along with the jury recommendation. On the odd occasion where he makes a change, he has to explain his reasoning, and it is on the whole excellent reasoning, so we believe he takes advice before doing anything like that.

Oh, don't take that as a criticism of his reasoning ability: wisdom is often a matter of humility, listening to other people. He has a reputation as a good listener. There was a recent case where a lady spoke to him on a train, and complained of noises coming from under her house. You might think that a frivolous complaint, but he got that investigated, and it turned out to be a sink hole developing underground. The whole village had to be relocated before they all fell in a hole!"

Annabel was interested. "Your Governor sounds like one of the Good Guys. How does he cope with four wives, do you know?"

"I met one of the ladies, the black one, Ruth, during my training for this job. She clearly adores the Governor, and is almost as much a fan of Diane, his first wife. They all met for the first time as part of the contact team assembled to meet with the alien spaceships. Ruth told me that it was Diane who encouraged her husband to propose to Ruth. It was something to do with Ruth being regarded as "on the shelf" in South Africa, as she had opted for university education instead of getting married young. Ruth was bridesmaid at Bob and Diane's wedding, and later confessed to Diane that she had fancied Bob Kempe (Diane's new husband) but never plucked up enough courage to mention her interest to him. It was then that Diane decided that the new colony that was being proposed should have generously-framed marriage laws, allowing multiple partners, and that Ruth should join them in matrimony. It worked out well, it seems. Ruth was ecstatic about how considerate Bob was. When he proposed, he told her she could have a marriage in name only, for social reasons, or one with sex if she wanted children: it was entirely up to her. She opted for children, and Diane and Ruth each have several children now."

"Impressive," was Annabel's comment. "I can see where multiple spouses can be effective. It is all down to the women, it seems."

"You have it in one," replied Amelia. "I would have no objection to being one of several wives, as long as the girls all got along together as friends. Women who did not get along would be a terrible state of affairs! Of course, you also have the option of having several husbands, should that be your preference!"

Annabel grimaced. "Coping with one man is enough for me, should I be so lucky as to find the man of my dreams."

"Right. We should be getting along, girls. You have your wine, in its presentation bag, to give to Annabel's old teacher, But I am sure you will learn a lot from him about how he lives in a village of the Rehome colony. Would you like me to take you to see the caravan, or will you just enjoy your first encounter with it tomorrow morning?"

The girls looked at each other, and swiftly came to a conclusion: "Tomorrow is fine."

Came the morning, and after a quick European-style Continental Breakfast, they were ready to start their day. Amelia arrived at the door of their small hotel, driving the caravan. The girls were at the door with their bags, and piled aboard. Once inside, they were shown all the various facilities the vehicle provided, and they expressed their happiness at the indulgence they would enjoy.

Annabel was puzzled, though. "Amelia, are we truly getting this vehicle without being charged for it? And having it transported by the railway company?"

Amelia was nonchalant about the matter. "I can assure you, Annabel, it is free. The Admin department of the Colony told us guides, privately, that for each of the first few tourist parties, one family would be given special treatment, and in this case, that is you. I think it is merely a public relations ploy. They want to perform some over-the-top effort as a loss leader, to show how important our tourist clientele are to the colony. Enjoy it, and you can brag about it when you get home. The colony will be delighted to have you say what a wonderful holiday you experienced."

The three girls were happy to accept such opulence for their vacation, and Amelia set off for the station. Instead of the main passenger station, she drove them to the goods yard nearby, where the flatbed car was situated. The end of the flatbed had a small turntable built in, with the ramp in its vertical position linked to the turntable. A railway man pressed a button on a control panel, and the turntable swung the wide ramp round at an angle to the side of the track, and then lowered it to ground level.

Amelia carefully drove the caravan up the ramp, angling the front wheels to swing the vehicle onto the flatbed. She slowly swung the caravan round so that its wheels eventually slotted into clamps embedded in the flatbed surface. Once in place, another button activated the clamps, which then held the wheels firmly gripped, solidly fixed to the flatbed. Their guide explained that this was a new design they were testing out for the railways, so all the more reason for there being no charge.

Amelia offered the girls a choice of remaining in the caravan for the rail journey, or moving into one of the carriages. They opted for the excitement of the carriage, and meeting other passengers, so Amelia got them to exit from the caravan. Back on the ground, she waved, and a small powered cart came over to them. "This is your transport to the passenger station, to wait for the train. Your tickets are here," their guide said, handing them their rail tickets.

The train, starting empty, reversed into the goods yard and had the flatcar hooked up to the final carriage. It then glided gently back out and over to enter the passenger station. As it arrived at the platform where the girls waited with other passengers, they were astounded at how quiet it was. The engine was not much more than the gentle whine of an electric motor, and the wheels made little noise on the welded track. Amelia explained that the motive power unit's input came from a powerful electric battery within it, and that the battery was topped up with electricity, via the track, at every train station where they stopped.

They boarded and Amelia showed them to their booked seats within the last carriage. She also carried a large wicker case, which she settled behind the seats. Asked about it, she explained, "It is our picnic lunch. Depending on the timetable, we can either eat on the train, or wait until we get off, and eat in the caravan."

The sisters were pleased to find that most of the passengers in their carriage were locals returning to their home villages. The girls questioned them about their lives "in the sticks", and were surprised to find that these people did not view themselves that way. "No, young lady," said one middle-aged matron, " if you want to talk about "the sticks", then the whole colony falls into that category. We have our phones and these keep us in touch with whatever is happening in the colony. The colony administration do their best to keep us up to date with events, through our local online newspaper, and keeping up to date includes the teaching in our primary schools. The teachers have to be aware of all the latest changes in our colony – new rail lines, new settlements, business ventures, you name it. They tell the children about developments, and we have regular meetings between the teachers and the adults of the community, to scrutinise what is new, and decide what slant our school should take in describing it to the children. We are thus never out of touch, no matter where we live in the colony.

I have just been to Metropolis to enrol my eldest son in the secondary school there. He will stay with family friends in Metropolis during the week, and be home at weekends. The rail service is excellent for that, and not expensive, either."

Dinah wanted to know more. "Is your husband looking after your other children, or do they take care of themselves while you are away?"

"Oh, I don't have a husband, young lady. I divorced him back on Earth. I came here with my children as that man was abusive; I shall say no more about that. We have done well here. My eldest daughter runs our farm and acts for me when I am in Metropolis. She is engaged to another farmer whom she met at a barn dance. My children all help on the farm, when they are not at school."

Dinah announced, "Me and my sister Tracy are still at school on Earth, but big sister Annabel finished secondary school recently, and is deciding what course to do at university. Daddy won a lottery prize and that is how we got to come on this vacation. It is great!" The lady congratulated them, and said she hoped they had a wonderful vacation.

The rail trip became a combination of socialising with other passengers, admiring the scenery, and partaking of the drinks and eats offered on a trolley that was trundled along by a steward. Amelia paid for these extras, announcing, "All part of our special service, girls." She did draw the line at alcoholic drinks. "Sorry, young ladies, but the Colony does not subsidise the imbibing of alcohol. Buying and presenting a gift of wine to your old teacher is fine, but no alcohol during your journey."

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