Anna Helsom was driving back home after a very long day at the office. The divorced mother of three young children was deep in thought, trying hard to come up with a more acceptable rationalization for what she'd done. One hour before, though she hated even the thought of seeing him again, Anna had agreed to letting Tom Helsom, her ex husband, stop over at the house, so he could enjoy a short visit with their children.
Anna and Tom had been divorced about a year before, after she'd discovered him having yet another affair with a young woman at his work. In the five years of their marriage, Tom had been unfaithful to her on several known occasions, as well as her suspecting him of having been guilty of the same outrage several other times.
Tom seemingly wasn't capable of resisting certain situations which seemed to always lead to his giving in to temptation. He always swore that he still loved her, and that these affairs of his had nothing to do with their otherwise happy marriage. Each time she'd discovered him in another act of adultery, Anna's pride, and her sense of self worth would suffer another blow. Finally, unable to continue putting up with such shabby treatment at his hands, Anna had successfully sued for divorce.
Under the terms of their divorce, Anna had full custody of their children. The only visitation rights he had were those that Anna was willing to grant him. Since the divorce had become final, about six months before, this was only the second time that Tom had asked to visit with his children.
Anna couldn't find much fault with her ex's parenting. He obviously loved his children, and they him. Tom was also very prompt in paying the child support that they'd both agreed to during divorce negotiations. He remembered all the children's birthdays, and had sent multiple wrapped gifts for each child at Christmas. The children still missed their father. Anna didn't want her children suffering just because she felt so unhappy and betrayed by her ex's inability to honor his marriage vows.
Tom had told her he'd only be there with the children for two hours, at the most, and she thought she could find something that would keep her up in her bedroom, away from him, for that short a period. She knew the hardest part for her would be having to see him herself when he came to the door. She wondered if she could ask Mrs. Feldman, the children's nanny, to stay over until Tom had come and gone, thus sparing her the need to see him again. Even as she thought of that as a possibility, she realized that it would be a terrible imposition on her employee. She needed to return to her own home, to take care of her disabled husband.
The children were all bathed and dressed in their sleep clothes by seven o'clock, which was the time that Tom had said he'd be by. Mrs. Feldman had left at five thirty, right after Anna had gotten home. Anna hadn't asked the woman to stay over. When her doorbell rang, Anna rubbed the palms of her hands on the cotton sweat pants she'd changed into, and went over to the door to let her ex in.
Seeing him again sent several strong emotions running through her. He looked the same as he had the last time she'd seen him. He was quite a bit taller than Anna, something she'd always liked, and he still had that little dimple on his right cheek, and that tiny cleft on his chin, the one that had always reminded her of Kirk Douglas, who'd been one of her grandmother's favorite actors.
She'd watched quite a few old Kirk Douglas movies on the television when she was growing up, while her grandmother had lived with them before she died. Tom was a handsome man, and he knew it, using his good looks and his charming manner to seduce women. He'd used them both to seduce Anna. Even after the break up of their marriage, caused by his flagrant infidelities, Anna couldn't help feeling a brief moment of excitement over seeing him again.
"Hello Anna, you look great. Thank you for letting me come by to see the kids like this, especially on such short notice. I'm on my way back to California, after three weeks in New York, and I scheduled in this layover hoping you'd allow me to see them."
"Come in, Tom. The children are in the living room watching some TV. I wasn't sure whether I should tell them you were coming. I didn't know whether you wanted your visit to be a surprise for them or not. I'll be up in my bedroom, so that you can have an uninterrupted visit with them."
"Anna, before you leave, there's something I need to talk with you about. It concerns our children and their future's."
"I'm sorry Tom, but the future of our children is something that is now my sole responsibility. I have full custody of them, not you."
"I understand. I agreed with you that it would be best if they remained with you, Anna, but now, something has changed, and because of that, we need to talk."
"If something has changed Tom, then you need to have your lawyer get in touch with mine and explain what that change is. Until you do that, I have no interest in discussing anything about their future with you."
"I've found a woman who has agreed to take me with her, as her concubine, Anna. She's willing to take the children too. She and this group of people she works with are almost finished arranging for a pre pack pickup for all of us. I'll need to have the kids with me when they come to pick us all up."
"I'm not just going to give you our children, Tom. What happens if she tires of you and trades you away to someone else? What will happen to my babies then? You signed all the papers turning over full custody of them to me. I won't let you come waltzing back here now and take them away from me."
"You'd be willing to see them die, rather than let me take them to someplace where they'd be safe? I can't believe that, Anna."
"Get out of my house, NOW! You have no right to accuse me something as horrible as that. Get out, or else I'll call the police and have them arrest you for trespassing."
"Think for just a minute, Anna. Think about what's best for the children. We both know the Sa'arm are heading right for us. They say it will probably take another six or seven years for them to get here, but nobody is claiming that our side will be able to keep them away from this planet. I went to a lot of trouble trying to get this set up for them. Please, don't let your anger with me affect your good judgment. If our positions were reversed, and you had a sponsor willing to take you, I'd never stand in the way of you and the kids going somewhere that was safe."
"If you aren't out of here in one minute, I'm calling the police. You won't be going anywhere if you wind up in jail because you refused to leave here after I told you to."
"If I have to, I'll arrange it so the Confederacy people get a legal order to bring them to me after we get picked up. It would be easier if you just let me take them with me now."
Anna went to the phone in the entry way and started dialing 911. Tom shook his head, resigned to the fact that his ex wife wasn't going to allow him to do things the easy way. He felt pretty sure he could get Judy to try to negotiate the pick up of his children after the planned extraction, but he hadn't wanted to take any chances he hadn't needed to. He wished he'd had more time to prepare Anna for this opportunity the children now had. He felt confident that she'd see this as a better option for the kids, once she had time to actually think about what this could mean for them. He turned away and went back through the door, letting Anna have her way for the present.
After Tom left, Anna started calming back down. She was aware she'd been acting on her emotions rather than stopping to think things through. She and Tom had identical CAP scores of 5.7. Neither of them had scored high enough to believe they had any realistic hopes of improving their test scores enough to qualify as Confederacy volunteers in the future. They'd both accepted their test results while they'd been together, and neither had ever expressed any interest in trying to separately seek out a qualified sponsor for themselves as one possible way to try to safeguard their children's future.
Anna hadn't even been looking into that possibility since getting a divorce. While many of her acquaintances and co-worker's had taken to dressing more outrageously, in hopes of attracting a potential sponsor's attention, Anna hadn't changed the way she dressed, or done anything else to try to spruce up her personal appearance.
She'd been too concerned with trying to make a living, and with providing a good home for her three children. With what Tom had just told her, she now knew she needed to change all that, and she knew she had to do something quickly, or else risk losing her children and never having the opportunity of seeing them grow into adulthood.
Anna was a very attractive woman. She was thirty years old, and had been lucky enough to have been blessed with a metabolism that allowed her to eat sensible portions of food without packing on any excess weight. She knew men liked her figure. She'd grown to where she was already wearing a 36C bra cup size by the time she had turned sixteen. Luckily, she thought, at least, her growth spurt had ended before her breast size had gotten completely out of hand, or had became any kind of a problem for her. Her hips and butt were the same, widening out to a womanly shape early, but not going beyond that after she had turned sixteen. Having had three children, her body had matured somewhat, but her face and body still commanded men's attention whenever she walked into a crowded room.
Anna hadn't been a prude in her personal life, even before she met, fell in love with, and later married, Tom. She had become sexually active at sixteen, and had remained so all through high school and college. In college, she had even done some experimenting with alternative lifestyles, having sex with several different girl friends, and participating in other situations involving multiple sex partners. By the time she was twenty three, when she had first met Tom, she'd already become tired of having casual sex, and had decided that she wanted to settle down with one man, get married, and raise a family.
The following morning, after the conversation with Tom, Anna called an attorney friend, the one who'd handled her divorce, and told him the gist of what Tom had related to her.
"Anna, if he gets picked up, and if his sponsor okay's it, there isn't anything you can legally do to prevent him from taking the children with him. In fact, you might want to rethink your objection to him taking them with him."
"Suppose I find a potential sponsor who would agree to take me and my children? Could you prevent Tom from being able to take them then?"
"Not if Tom gets himself picked up before you and your potential sponsor did. In a sense, you'd be in a race, and he'd win it from what you've told me. You'd have to find a sponsor, then get him or her and yourself extracted, all before Tom gets a chance to request that the Space Marines pick up your three children. You said he told you that his sponsor had already agreed to him bringing the children when they leave?"
"He said that. He said it was some kind of a pre pack or something like that, and that he was supposed to have the children with him when it occurred, somewhere in California."
"I can give you an idea that might work, and if it did, allow you to keep the children with you, but it isn't what I'd recommend that you do. If you aren't where your ex tells them you'll be whenever they come to get the children, I doubt very much that they'd spend much in the way of time or effort trying to track down the children's whereabouts. Once the pod ship leaves, then, as far as I'm aware, that's it. In the past, it has always been a hit or miss occurrence, this picking up of minor children. They tell the sponsors and concubines that they must have exact information about where the children can be found for pick up. If you knew when the pick up was planned for, you could make arrangements to not be around the places he'd tell them to look for them."
"That's what I'll do then. A few months ago, I had to go out of town for three days on business. Mrs. Feldman, the children's nanny, agreed to care for them in her home. Everything worked out well then, and the children actually seemed to enjoy the novelty of the new experience."
"You're comfortable then, as a parent, with denying the children this chance to make their escape from the approaching aliens?"
"No, I'm not comfortable, but I feel confident that I can find a better chance for them to escape, with me, and with whoever I manage to find as a sponsor. Tom has a history for being unreliable, for thinking with his penis rather than with his brain. I don't want the live's of my children being dependant on his ability to keep one specific woman satisfied."
"The Confederacy has a good reputation for caring for any dependent children left in their charge. It would be shortsighted of you to pass on this nearly sure chance for their evacuation, with just the unproven hope that you could secure a place for them and yourself at some later date. Perhaps, too risky for you to chance it?"
"I appreciate your concern, Edward, really, I do. If I wasn't almost positive that I could find someone, I'd never take the risk."
That had been three years before. As he'd claimed, Tom had been picked up in California, two weeks after his unsuccessful visit to try to pick up his children. Anna and the children had been off in Florida for an extended vacation, not back at their normal home when the Space Marines came looking for all of them.
In the ensuing three years, since Anna had successfully kept her ex from separating her from her children, Anna had found no workable plan for having herself and her children extracted from the planet.
They had been three long, miserable, and increasingly, guilt ridden, years for her. Years where she'd almost become overwhelmed by the responsibility she was feeling over having been so selfish as to deny her children the relative safety of going off world with their father.
She hadn't been idle during the intervening time since then though. She'd made it a practice to seek out and introduce herself to as many eligible volunteers as she possibly could, both men and women. She'd been very chagrined to find out that her relative youth and robust good looks weren't the assets she'd always thought them to be.
Some men had used her for quick sex, claiming it was a prerequisite for getting her name placed on their list of potential concubines. She'd complied, enduring their unwelcome sexual attentions, all the while pretending, usually unsuccessfully, that she was enjoying every moment of being with them.
Now thirty three, with the wear and tear on her looks that those three desperate years of searching had given her, Anna now found herself fresh out of new ideas, out of known options, and, for the most part, bereft of hope.
Of course, as usually happens at times like this, someone reentered Anna's life, someone she never expected to encounter again, her ex husband, Tom Helsom. Now, instead of being just Tom, he was Decurion Helsom, of the Confederacy Civil Service, Human division.
This had all come to pass as more of a lark than for any other single reason. His original sponsor, Judy Traynor, had taken Tom to a party over on Pleasant, one of the four colony's of Journey. Judy and her team of weapons scientists had settled on Finally, another colony on the planet. While at the party, Judy had discovered that the colony of Pleasant had their own Civil Service center. This was something that wasn't yet available to the residents of Finally.
Judy had become somewhat miffed with her favorite concubine, and had been seeking to teach him a lesson about who the boss was, and who he should be concentrating most of his sexual energies on pleasing. Tom had gotten into the not very welcome, for Judy, habit of spreading his sexual attentions too evenly among four of her other five concubines, all the females.
Her subtle attempts at trying to dissuade him from continuing to spread himself as thin as he had been were not met with any noticeable change in his behavior. In an attempt to teach him a lesson, she had released him as her concubine during that visit, remanding him over to the Civil Service's custody and control. It had been her intention to let him stew in his own juices for a few days, then, later, reclaim him, after his fear over possibly being recycled had made him more responsive to her stated expectations.
Her plan had backfired, almost immediately, when Centurion Karen Freeman had decided to claim Tom for herself the very next day. Karen had spent three years on Journey, all without taking any of the concubines her CAP score entitled her to. Her sexual orientation was somewhat changeable in any case, and her libido wasn't strong at all.
She didn't choose Tom to make him her sexual play thing. She chose him because she needed someone to assist her with managing the operating side of the Civil Service center, and she had discovered that Tom had a wide array of experience dealing with just the sort of problems that Karen usually found too irritating to effectively deal with herself.
As might be expected, having as many as three hundred women at a time in her care, the nine connected living pods that made up the Civil Service center often became embroiled in bad feelings and strife. It wasn't just the unattached concubines either, the four hundred children who lived with these women were also prone to getting into arguments, fighting, and just creating an atmosphere of chaos and anger.
In a word, Karen was exhausted. Making Tom her concubine had been a desperate attempt on her part to get some much needed relief from the stress of her work. It took Tom only a month before he had things smoothed back down to a manageable level.
He had this engaging manner with the women, part flirt and part confidant, he had a knack for discovering each woman's greatest anxieties, and, of being able to tell them just the right thing to reassure them.
With the women less stressed out, the children too began to act calmer. Tom also had this wonderful way with some of the older children, getting them into cooperative games with each other, and leading them into much more productive pastimes than yelling at the top of their lungs, and running, willy nilly, all through the living areas, looking for anything to relieve their pent up boredom and youthfully exuberant energy.
So, it was a month before Tom had managed to seduce a good percentage of the female population of the Civil Service center into a more peaceful coexistence with each other. This resulted in a calmer, much more pleasant, lifestyle for everyone.
That he had also managed to bed an impressive number of these unattached women had probably played a significant role in inducing this greater peace and tranquility. During that month, Karen had learned to appreciate all those good qualities about Tom. She was somewhat puzzled that Tom, in spite of all the time they'd spent in each other's company, had never made any attempt at seducing her.
Karen knew that male concubines were aware that sex was expected from them. While this wasn't necessarily true in Karen's particular case, the fact that he had made no effort to see whether or not his advances might have been welcomed, troubled her some.
Of late, Karen was finding that it was starting to irritate her as well. It wasn't that she would have welcomed an attempt on his part to seduce her, but she found it somewhat insulting that he hadn't even bothered making an attempt.
Other than for that one thing, she was as pleased with Tom as she could have ever hoped to be. Things ran much more smoothly since he'd begun helping her, and she now found herself with much more free time to rest and relax back in her own quarters. When concubine's had problems now, most of them went directly to Tom to have them fixed.
It took Karen one more month of stewing in her own juices before she got sufficiently upset about Tom's lack of attention to her, personally, that she brought him back to her personal quarters in order to confront him directly.
"Tom, I couldn't help but hear the rumors that you've become somewhat more intimate with our charges than might be deemed entirely appropriate. If the rumors I've been hearing are at all accurate, it would appear that you have slept your way through almost our entire inventory of women."
"Is there a question in there somewhere, Centurion?"
"I guess what I'm asking is whether there might not be a factual basis for all those lurid rumors?"
"Well, I certainly haven't had sex with anything even approaching all of the unattached women. In fact, I'd say it was much closer to being just a tenth of them, if even that many. I don't keep score. You asked me to try to help you calm the ladies down, and I've done everything I could to try to achieve what you've asked of me. Some of them just needed some reassurance that they were still very desirable women. At times, that reassurance can take many forms, some of which might be considered extreme, like my making love to them. It seems to me that it's been working out pretty well. The women seem much calmer now, and far less worried than they were before. The same is true for most of the little kids. They see their mom's acting calmer now, and this reassures them as well."
"You see all this as just another part of your work then? Not something you've been going out of your way to make happen?"
"I see everything as part of a desired whole. You told me our job was to try to make these people as calm and happy as we can. I'm trying to please you, Karen. If I'm not succeeding, please tell me what more I can possibly do?"
"Hasn't it ever occurred to you that I might be in need some of that calming you've been passing around? You're my concubine, Tom, it shouldn't be something I need to remind you of. What did you do with your former sponsor? Did you just sleep with her other concubines, or did you have duties to her as well?"
"I've never seen any indication that you have even the slightest interest in me that way, Karen. If there's one thing I'm confident of about myself, it's that I can tell if a woman is interested in me that way. I'd have bet a lot that you weren't interested."
"I might not be interested in you, Tom, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't be interested in having some of my own stress relieved. It bothers me that you make these types of judgments without first bothering to even check them out with me before jumping to your own conclusions."
"Very well, I'm sorry. Please tell me what you want me to do to help you with this stress of yours?"
"Isn't that pretty obvious, Tom?"
"You want me to make love with you?"
Karen had been standing the entire time she was confronting her recalcitrant concubine. He was maddening to her. He had to be aware now that she wanted physical attention from him. It seemed to her that he was deliberately toying with her. It seemed to her that he had no idea of the power of life or death she held over him. She could order him recycled, anytime she chose to do so.
In the Human colonies, male concubines were valued far less than the females. After losing his initial sponsor, Tom should be very grateful, just to be alive. She was going to let him know that too, just as soon as he'd shown her exactly why all those other women had been practically giddy after spending a night in his arms. Now though, as she propelled herself closer to him, all she wanted was to be in his strong arms. She too wanted to be able to forget all her own worries and troubles, if only for a single night.
Tom lived up to his reputation for being a gifted and talented lover. By the following morning, Karen felt herself falling under his masculine spell. Perhaps it didn't quite come up to the standard of being true love, but she definitely felt an emotional connection now between them.
As with many women who fall under a new man's spell, Karen's first thought was on ways she could help improve Tom. One way she knew she could help him was to show him ways where he could change things about himself in order to possibly score higher on his next CAP test.
What Karen didn't know, was that the planetary AI was already keeping close tabs on Tom. The Civil Service center had started running more efficiently than at any time in its prior operations. The AI concluded that Tom was the catalyst for most, if not all, of this improvement.
Many of Tom's skills held little value for being a Space Marine, which was what he'd been tested for. A Space Marine's job was to kill the Sa'arm, not attempt to seduce them. When it came to being a Civil Service worker, Tom's skills were exceptionally welcome and utilitarian. Already, the AI had made adjustments to Tom's CAP scores, changing them to match up with the tasks he was currently engaged in. The AI saw no need to make any formal adjustment yet, but would do so when, and if, Tom ever elected to sit for another test. The AI's assessment was that Tom's new score would be a 7.0 rather than the current score of 5.7 his present card indicated.
And, so it was, when Tom later decided to retake his CAP test, mostly after Karen's urgent pleading, he became a qualifying sponsor on his own. She had first gotten him to spend many hours learning the duties of a Civil Service Decurion, which was the entry level officer position within the Civil Service. In addition to this, she had expanded on his duties within the center.
While she was convinced that Tom was right about his special skills being necessary to keep the women in their charge calmer, she encouraged Tom to lean far heavier on the flirting aspect, and to rely less and less on the necessity for actual physical couplings.
Tom complied with Karen's wishes, more or less. He still had his own six or seven favorites that he liked to make personal, private, visits to, but he restricted these activities to times when Karen wouldn't be aware of his disobedience of her stated wishes. At the same time, he made it a point to provide her with as much physical attention as she could put up with.
Karen realized a lot of what Tom was doing. The man really wasn't very good at covering up his tracks. She finally decided, that, as long as he spent all his nights in her bed, she wouldn't make a big fuss over him not being perfectly faithful to her.
The results of Tom's retest were exactly what the planetary AI had thought they'd be, a score of 7.0. Immediately after the results were known, Tom volunteered for the Confederacy's Civil Service, and was commissioned a Decurion, and formally assigned to work with Karen. A big difference was that Tom was now entitled to four concubines of his own. Rather than pick from his favorites at the center, Tom deferred on making any choices at all.
Against her better judgment, Karen forwarded Tom's request that he be allowed to revisit the Earth, so he could now pick up his three children. She knew there was no way the Confederacy would let Tom make a special trip back just for that. Tom understood that too, but he hoped to travel on one of the Darjee pod freighters that occasionally stopped by at the manufacturing colony over at Long, to pick up some of the newly produced residential pods the large manufacturing replicator's operating over there were now turning out.
It took more than a month for orders be cut for Tom to head back to Earth to serve as one of the Civil Service officer's for a new colony extraction. He'd be charged with managing any unattached potential or existing concubines during the sponsor and concubine extraction operations the pod freighter would be used for. As for him being allowed to go back down to where his family lived, there was nothing in his orders that specified he be allowed anything like that. Tom knew he had a possibility though, and, to him, that was far more than he'd had back on Journey.
It took the freighter's AI less than ten minutes to locate the current whereabouts of Anna, and Tom's three children. What took much more time was for Tom to convince any of the Space Marines that they should allow him to go down to the planet, accompanied by a two man extraction team, to pick up his kids. He managed to talk one into helping him, but this help wasn't free. The Marine officer agreeing to help him had two sisters living back in Chicago. Both women were in their early forties, both were married, but with husbands and grown children who wouldn't be accompanying them.
Captain Griffis could call his sisters, to let them know where they needed to be for the pickup, but Tom had to be able to convince the two of them to join him as his concubines and come with him. If Tom failed to accomplish this task, the two Marines who'd be accompanying him had orders to abort the extraction and leave Tom's children behind as well.
With the Sa'arm only a few short years away from Earth, people were becoming increasingly desperate to see to the safety of their family members. Tom too was desperate, which is why he'd agreed to making such a deal in the first place.
When the evening finally arrived, and after the ship's AI had confirmed that Anna and the children were at their home, alone, the extraction began. Jane and Debbie, Captain Griffis's two sisters were parked right in front of Anna's house, waiting for their brother's phone call. They were expecting him to be at Anna's house, and were expecting only to have a chance to visit with their younger brother.
Tom, with the two Marines who were accompanying him, was transported down through a field created from the ship who's terminus was in the unoccupied living room of Anna's house. She and her children were in the kitchen, just finishing up dinner. Jane and Debbie started ringing the front door bell within seconds of Tom being transported to Anna's living room.
The next five minutes were pure chaos for everyone. For one thing, Tom's children didn't even recognize him. It wasn't that his appearance had changed that much, just that his oldest son had been but five years old when he'd last seen his father, with the youngest two, a second son, and his youngest, a daughter, being three and two respectively. They had been too young to remember much about their father, and Anna had long ago taken down any pictures of Tom from their home. Anna recognized him though, which was a lot more than she could say for the two, very heavyset, women who were standing in her doorway, demanding to be let in to see their brother.
"Tom, how dare you invade my home like this? What are you doing back here anyway? I'm sure I got notified that you'd been evacuated by the Confederacy. Who are these two men with you?"
"Anna, things have changed. Everything's different now. I'm a sponsor now myself, working with the Civil Service. I'm a Decurion now, and I have four spots of my own to fill. Can you believe it?"
"I'm not giving up my children, Tom. You'll have to kill me first."
Tom couldn't understand her attitude, especially now. More than three years had passed since he'd been extracted, and his children were still on, what everyone now believed, was an almost certainly doomed planet.
It was far too loud in the hallway, what with the two fat women screaming about wanting to see their damn brother. Couldn't they just shut up for a few minutes so he could talk some sense into his ex wife?
"Anna, you can come too. I have enough spots for you, and for these two ladies also."
Hearing what Tom had just said, both middle aged women stopped shouting, instantly becoming as quiet as possible. They looked at each other, totally at a loss as to why the nice looking young man would be interested in taking either of them anywhere.
Anna too stopped ranting at him. She'd heard what he'd said. Now, she was considering it. From any other man, this news would have been most welcome. She just wasn't used to the idea that such a proposal would come to her from her philandering ex husband. She'd been praying for an opportunity to become some sponsor's concubine, to get herself and her children as far away from the Sa'arm's path as she possibly could.
She had been having nightmares often now, ones where many aliens would come to her house, and start eating her children right before her eyes, before, mercifully, finally getting around to eating her as well. The rational part of her thoughts told her she should fall to her knees and kiss Tom's feet.
"I hope you don't think I'd consider taking you back again, not after the way you cheated on me so many times?"
"You can come or not, Anna, your choice, but the kids are definitely going with me. You have no idea of what I've had to go through for the chance to be here tonight. Nothing is going stop me from taking these children with me, nothing. You see these two women? I had to promise their brother that I'd choose them as two of my concubines, just so he'd let me come down here to pick up the kids. If I was willing to do that to save them, do you think having you not wanting to be separated from the kids is going to stop me from taking them?"
Anna looked over at the two, rather unattractive women. She couldn't help herself, she just had to laugh. When she did, strangely enough, both the other women joined in her laughter. Even the two, up until now, very imposing, Space Marines started laughing.
"If I do agree to come, does that mean I have to have sex with you?"
"Maybe not with me, but you will with someone You'll have to have sex, because the biggest part of your new job will be to have new babies. Finding someone else to do you won't be a problem. There must be thirty or forty thousand Naval and Marine personnel stationed on our planet. Maybe a fourth of them, at any one time, not having current access to any of their concubines. You'll have to go live in one of the base comfort houses until someone makes you pregnant, but while you're pregnant, you can sit around, taking things easy with the children."
"You'd make me a whore then? Is that all I mean to you now?"
"Anna, you're acting like an imbecile. I'm trying to help save you from being eaten by the 'dickheads', and you're standing there, wasting everyone's time, trying to negotiate a better deal with me. All you have to do is say out loud that you accept me as your sponsor. Soon as you do that, you and the kid's are safe."
Tom turned to the Captain's two sisters.
"Ladies, the same holds true for you. Just say you accept me, and we're good to go from here."
Jane and Debbie both shouted out their separate acceptances. Neither tried to negotiate a better deal for themselves. The two Marines took the two older women over to the transporter field and pushed them through. Once they were done with that, they went over and reached for the now crying children.
"I accept! Stop crying children, I told you Daddy wasn't going to let you get eaten by those bad bugs."
It would be extremely difficult to describe what followed next in any way that would completely encompass the whole story. For one thing, it took almost three months for Tom and his new family to make it from Earth back to the colony of Pleasant, on the planet called Journey. There were two other stops along the way. The first stop was to transfer a hundred pods of new colonists, and to pick up a few military people and their concubines. At the second stop, Tom had to transport down to the planet and take charge of fifteen newly unassigned concubines and their forty six dependent children who were being brought to Pleasant to be housed at the Civil Service center.
During this long trip back to Journey, Tom made no attempt to have sex with Anna. He had arranged for both Jane and Debbie to undergo the physical enhancements that they had requested. After these procedures were completed, Tom moved both women into his personal pod, leaving Anna and his own three children living in the Civil Service residential pods that housed the unattached concubines and their children.
Tom's plan was a simple one. He was going to try to avoid getting into any confrontations with Anna until after he and all the others were back in an environment where he felt like he would be the person in charge. In his opinion, it would be far too likely that Anna might let herself get carried away if she and Tom were to attempt to work on finding an acceptable solution to how they would conduct any future relationship they would have.
Tom knew he was holding all the cards, and had been from the first moment that Anna had accepted his offer, thus making herself one of his concubines. He knew it, but he knew that Anna hadn't truly realized this yet. If she decided to become irrational again while they were still on board the pod freighter, Tom was afraid that she might end up doing something where punishing her behavior was totally outside his control. He didn't want to see her harmed in any way.
As long as she fulfilled the minimum level of adherence to her responsibilities to the Confederacy, Tom thought he'd be willing to ask nothing more from her than her being a good mother for his three children. He had no wish to do anything to make her life less rewarding, or more of a trial. As far as he was concerned, as long as she consented to having someone make her pregnant at periodic intervals, about once per each Earth calendar year, he would leave her alone.
One thing he would insist on, however, was reasonable contact with his children. Reasonable by his standards, not Anna's. It took all the discipline he could muster not to send for his children while they were in transit. He knew things would be less stressful once all of them were on Journey and able to concentrate on forming a workable plan for a reasonable relationship with each other.
As soon as the ship reached stable orbit around Journey, Tom and all his charges were transported down to the Civil Service center. Tom had left his three new concubines and his children back in his newly assigned residence pod. It would be the thirty third pod floated down for permanent settlement. Tom would return to the ship to gather up his ex wife, two new concubines, and his three children. He would house them in the Civil Service center until after his new residence had been expanded and reconfigured.
He believed that a week of watching some of the unassigned concubines going off to the base comfort stations would change Anna's mind about not wanting sex with him. It wasn't that he thought he would want to resume the relationship they'd once had. Clearly, that marriage hadn't worked. Tom had always been willing to accept full blame for the failure of his marriage, and had felt that nothing had changed to make the chance of it suddenly working a real probability.