Let the Chips Fall Where They May
Chapter 1

Caution: This Science Fiction Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, mt/ft, Ma/ft, mt/Fa, Fa/Fa, ft/ft, Fa/ft, Ma/Ma, Ma/mt, mt/mt, Mult, Consensual, Romantic, Rape, Mind Control, Slavery, Lesbian, BiSexual, Heterosexual, Science Fiction, Space, Cheating, Incest, Father, Daughter, Grand Parent, BDSM, DomSub, MaleDom, FemaleDom, Spanking, Rough, Light Bond, Humiliation, Sadistic, Swinging, Gang Bang, Group Sex, Orgy, Harem, Polygamy/Polyamory, Interracial, White Couple, Black Female, Black Male, White Male, White Female, Oriental Male, Oriental Female, Hispanic Male, Hispanic Female, First, Oral Sex, Anal Sex, Masturbation, Petting, Fisting, Sex Toys, Squirting, Pregnancy, Exhibitionism, Voyeurism, Size, Leg Fetish, Body Modification, Public Sex, Violent, Workplace, Nudism, Military,

Desc: Science Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Franco and Giulio Varizzi are brothers, friends, roommates, and fellow volunteers for the Confederacy. Will they do as well in choosing their concubines as they did in other things? For Franco, will he be luckier with his harem than with his ex-wife? And what favor does his boss have for the security guard? What will their uncle think of it all?

Franco Varizzi rushed out the door to work as usual that morning, determined to act as if everything was normal. It didn't matter that he suddenly had a 7.9 score on his CAP card. He still had to make a living until the Confederacy picked him up. He also didn't know when that would be. It could be days, weeks, or even months. His brother Giulio helped him get the job at the Chips retail electronics store, so he couldn't disappoint his flesh and blood. They also shared an apartment and its expenses.

Their uncle Carlo, a retired soldier of fortune from their native Italy, had already joined the Confederacy Space Marines and presumably earned a high rank due to his military experience and CAP score of 8.4. He also had six concubines, including his old comrade Aleksandr Vrzenic's 21-year old daughter Aleksandra. Neither of the brothers believed that they would be as successful at war as Uncle Carlo; that idea would be self-delusion in the extreme. Still, Giulio was a great computer tech and scored a 6.8 (points were deducted for a much lower libido, but raised to match intense loyalty, courage, and aggression).

Franco had lost his job with his father-in-law and been kicked out of the house by his wife back in Long Island, so he went from a top security post at Adler & Logan Brokerage to being merely a guard at his brother's workplace. Unfortunately, he had to start over, and Las Cruces was a good place to do it. He still needed a job to pay the bills and avoid deportation. Thankfully, his ex's trust fund made her an unsuitable candidate for alimony, but the law still required him to pay child support for Michael and Danielle until they turned 14. He didn't mind, but it was expensive and required him to keep working.

Admittedly, he was effectively damned in the eyes of the Church, but Franco had bigger issues. This Confederacy matter gave him hope for a worthier destiny. If he joined, he could find four women for regular breeding. The concubines wouldn't cut him off after the birth of a second child, as Rachel had. He wouldn't need to follow his family's tradition of "discreet adultery" for husbands, as he could brazenly sleep with whomever he pleased and the ladies of his harem would embrace it, not just look the other way. Best of all, he would be patriarch of his household, just as Varizzi men always were. If anyone was kicked out of the residence, it would be a rebellious concubine, not him.

Franco didn't discuss his eventual divorce with the women at work. It wasn't their concern. That changed when he learned about Rachel's addition as a concubine. On the same day, he was called into the manager's office to receive some kind of verbal notice. He was relieved that it wasn't an exit interview. Then again, the economy had improved with the prospect of evacuation and the threat of the Swarm. People wanted to stick around large public venues such as electronics stores in the hope of being extracted. They were willing to spend like there was no tomorrow, too, since there ultimately wasn't much of one.

"Sit down, Franco," Antonio Flores instructed his most effective and respected security guard, a man whom he expected to promote soon.

"Yes, Mr. Flores," Varizzi agreed with curiosity.

"I bet that you're wondering why I called you in. I have a question for you. Are you qualified as a sponsor or do you expect to become a concubine for one? I have meant to discuss your future with you, anyway, but this recent business of the Swarm pushed the timetable ahead for me. I want to know if training you for management, in light of your experience, would be worth our while. Security at a store like this is different than it is at a brokerage firm, but the main reason that I haven't promoted you sooner was to test your quality first. Be honest. I'll be sad to lose you, but I will understand a desire to escape Doomsday," Antonio urged him.

"Actually, I have a 7.9 rating. Check it yourself, Mr. Flores," Franco assured his boss, letting him see the CAP score on his ID.

"Well, that changes my tentative plans, but it also gives me some hope on a personal level. I have a different proposition for you. I'm sterile, which has rendered me unqualified for Confederacy service. This is embarrassing, but I have to be candid under the circumstances. My sister, Aurelia, is a widow herself. It's a sad tale. My wife Anita and I want her to have a chance, whereas we're ready to die fighting here at home. I have too much to lose to trade that in, even for survival. I'm too comfortable here on Earth.

"In any case, Aurelia and her daughter Octavia both need a sponsor. The girl is too young to qualify as a concubine, so she won't hurt your options. Furthermore, Aurelia's pregnant. Her late husband was the father, but he was killed in an Earth First riot. Apparently, he was a real fanatic about that cause. Don't worry, as my sister never shared his politics. To be frank, she's not political at all.

"She is an excellent mother and still quite fertile, unlike me. Then again, I had testicular cancer and this affected my potency. I keep urging Anita to find a sponsor, but she loves me too much. I confess that I would miss her a lot, and that's not counting her skills in the kitchen or the sack," Flores stated crisply. He was always a bit of a hard-nosed pragmatist and had a dry manner that one couldn't believe without hearing it in person.

"So, basically, I would take on a single concubine at your request, as well as her two kids? I wouldn't mind that, especially if she is as great a mom as you say. I miss my own children a lot, so being a father again isn't such a bad idea for me. I would still get three concubines of my preference, and she would free me up to select some younger ladies from here, since I would have someone who could keep things orderly," Franco answered, pleased at the idea. He personally liked Latinas, and getting one who could breed with him would be good news for him.

"That's correct. Thanks for agreeing to this, Franco. Oh, and call me 'Antonio' now. You're family as of this moment. You may go now. I imagine that you have some more candidates to pick, not to mention some actual work. People still shoplift, you know," Antonio said, shaking Franco's hand.

All of this reversal of fortune was too good to hide from Giulio, but this meant that other employees overheard it in the break room. The entire store was aware of their situation, which dashed the brothers' plans to screen prospective concubines based on their sincere feelings toward them. Because of this revelation, both of the Varizzis would wonder for a while if the ladies in question were truly interested or just using them as a way out of danger. One or two such convenient relationships would be okay, but the Italians hoped for at least one or two women who honestly liked or loved them.

It was not a long wait before every woman from cashiers to saleswomen began making sexual advances to the duo. Several of them had children, so the matter was urgent, but it was so abrupt that their motives were instantly suspected by the Varizzis. Then again, with so many advantages, why worry over the possible selfishness which prompted this interest? There was some wisdom (though not absolute) to the proverb about "looking a gift horse in the mouth". However, the Italian siblings didn't know if they could quite trust these local ladies during their absence.

"Well, now, if it isn't the future heroes!" Carolyn taunted the immigrants.

"Do you have a beef with Franco or me?" Giulio demanded, quite annoyed with the bitch.

"Let me see ... yes. You stinky, chauvinist manwhores, fucking around and slapping your women around like your fathers did back in the Old Country! This is not the Middle Ages! Go back to fucking Italy, if you can't behave like American men!" the bitter divorcee shouted at them.

"I'll have you know that I have never slapped a woman around, though you tempt in that sense. It fits, since you don't tempt me in any other way!" Franco mocked the shrew. He knew why her husband left her. No one wanted to live with a rabid man-hater like Carolyn Harquist, who even insisted that her hubby change his last name to hers.

"Don't blame me because Armin wanted his gonads back! It's one of the great things about the Defense Forces. They helped a man regain his dignity, and he wasn't even a sponsor. That tells me how desperate he was to be rid of you, that he'd rather be a stranger's slave than your husband," Giulio snickered at her expense.

"Well, from where he stood, I'm sure that it was a step up to be a concubine," Franco agreed with laughter.

"Hey, he has his pride, too, right?" his brother commented.

Carolyn started to slap Giulio, but Franco looked at her so severely that she felt the icy hate in his eyes. She turned and left the break room in a huff. The door slammed, but it was a pathetic act that wouldn't impress either of the Varizzis.

"It's a shame, don't you think? She's pretty, but she ruins it with her malice," Giulio pointed out.

"I wouldn't call it malice. It's more like spite. She's too wimpy for malice. It's all hot air on her part. If a man called her bluff, she'd bend over and take it in the ass. I'm just not sure that she's worthwhile in that fashion. It's all sour grapes, as the fable says. She knows that no one will pick her, so she attacks those who will reject her and pretends not to want it. I agree that it's a waste. Her beauty belongs to a much more pleasant lady. She frankly reminds me of a wounded possum, ferocious to the end. The whole 'womanizer' complaint is an example of someone who can't accept a world that doesn't conform to her world-view. She still buys into that monogamy BS, but probably thinks that even that doesn't apply to her in practice," Franco sneered.

"Well, I used to believe in that bullshit, but I'm past it now. Where does that leave me? I want to be a concubine, since I can't be a volunteer," Marta Borisevic interrupted the brothers.

"Wow, Franco, it's an offer I can actually consider! Uncle Carlo always told us about girls from the Balkans. Now I see why he likes Sandra. I want to see your card, of course. What are your results?" the nerd insisted, as the Macedonian girl anxiously handed him her CAP card.

"Hey, brother, I have a real contender now. She's not just a babe, but she's even smart and a suitable choice to knock up immediately," Giulio told Franco, before kissing Marta to satisfy his curiosity about her.

Instead of objecting to the sudden peck on her lips, Ms. Borisevic grabbed the computer repairman and lengthened the kiss by closing in on him. She gladly gave him tongue, letting the Italian make out with her without apology. Her long black hair surrounded his neck as she locked her mouth on his and slid her hands down his pants to grab his butt-cheeks.

"Damn, Marta! You're more serious about this than I imagined," Giulio returned the favor, fondling the Slavic beauty.

"Yes, Giulio, I am quite serious about being a concubine. If you'll have me, I would like to be yours," the Macedonian swore.

"You know that this would mean chattel slavery, for all practical purposes. You wouldn't have any rights or protections. The colonies aren't necessarily democratic, and certainly not where concubines are concerned. If you agreed to this, you'd be my property," Giulio Varizzi warned his co-worker.

"I accept that. If I can be with you at the pickup, will you take as one of your concubines?" Marta pleaded with the man who demonstrated his interest in her.

"Alright, if you are with me during the extraction, count on being part of my harem. I just thought that I would warn you, though I doubt that you're a troublemaker," Giulio decided.

"As lovely as this moment is, I still need to pick three more ladies and you still require a second woman. Since our secret is out, we might as well start actively picking them," Franco encouraged his brother.

"True. I am not as randy as you are, but I have an eye for the ladies in my own way. Two girls will suffice for me, anyway. I don't envy you the task of choosing that many women," Giulio laughed, now holding Marta intimately. The woman showed no embarrassment, since she was relieved to have found a sponsor.

"What about me?" another voice chimed in. It was a tall, slender, nearly androgynous young woman, who happened to be a supervisor in the checkout department. She was pretty, but her boyish hips and nearly flat chest left only her long legs as physical advantages.

"I hear that we can make some changes after extraction. No offense, but it would necessary for your safety to expand your hips. A few other such modifications will be needed, as lovely as you are in general. I don't want you to think that you're ugly. In fact, you're a babe. Those legs of yours are perfect. If you can accept the declared rules of concubinage instituted by the Confederacy, I will welcome you as one of my girls. You have flaws, such as your willful ignorance and ditzy mistakes now and then, but you're also somewhat adorable that way. Call it a quirk of mine, my soft spot for a scared young woman, but I'll take you as my number two," Giulio brusquely announced.

Janine Halder blushed, a tad stunned by the geek's sincere and insensitive candor. At least she knew how someone actually felt about her. It was also quite fascinating to see an Italian computer whiz (a combo she had never met before and which fit no ethnic stereotypes she had ever known) in action. He was a genius, if a tad less assertive and confident than his brother.

"That covers you, but I still need to find three ladies. On the plus side, I'm not picky about looks that much. Especially since they can fix any blemishes, as you said. I enjoy women, so everything from the test to the settling in and the breeding should be great for me," Franco said with an atavistic grin. He truly was a caveman in some ways, though he was as smart as Giulio.

He contemplated several possibilities, including Molly from returns and Erin from checkout. The first was a blonde with some fine curls and the latter was a sandy-haired girl with eyeglasses. Both had some benefits. There was also Ginger, a redhead from the relations area, but she had a known jealous streak. He wondered if she could rein it in enough to prove compliant.

Franco finished work later than usual that day, but couldn't bring himself to go home just yet. Perhaps he just didn't want to see his brother romping with Marta and Janine. Then again, he was also drawn to a female customer who perused the adult section. This was a lot more common now, since many girls sought to improve their skills in order to raise their odds of someone picking them up. In any case, this lovely Asian gal who stood topless in Daisy Dukes and sandals had a keen interest in Sapphic smut. He just hoped that this didn't make her a lesbian herself. Perhaps she was just thinking to life in a pod.

"You know, staring at my girlfriend won't do you any good. It would help if you approached her. We need a sponsor, anyway," someone behind Franco interrupted his ogling.

A tall black woman with braces and a distinct accent winked at him. There was little question from her body language just what she meant by "girlfriend". She appeared to be a college girl, just like her lover. She also had a miniskirt slit up the front to the point of almost exposing her crotch. She was also topless, but she had larger breasts. In fact, she was bigger in all ways than her petite friend was.

"How do you know that I'm a sponsor?" Franco demanded suspiciously.

"Oh, come on! You look at Minnie as if you're about to buy her at a slave auction! I'd be offended, but back in Guyana, the white men all act the same way. It's just a question of whether they go for Africans or Indians. Besides, you actually want to protect her. I can just tell," the stranger answered, rolling her eyes.

"Well, in that case, I guess that I should introduce myself formally. I am Franco Varizzi. Who are you?" the Italian announced, offering his hand.

"Ah, you're Italian. That explains why you're more pleasant than some other white blokes I've met. I'm Gloria Higginbotham. My girl over there is Tran Van Minh, but I call her 'Minnie'. She's Vietnamese and an even better cook than I am, which is saying a lot. We're both in culinary school and share a flat across the street. If you care to try us out, I think that she would go along with it. Minnie loves European guys. You don't look eager to go home, anyway," the Guyanan girl commented.

"Fair enough. You're right, I am loathe to watch my brother's trysts at close hand, even though I applaud his taste in women and wish him good luck. Sure, let's go to your place," Franco agreed, quite intrigued by the notion of an interracial threesome.

"Hey, Minnie," Gloria spoke to her girlfriend at last.

"Yes, I know. What, didn't you think that I could overhear you? Babe, your voice carries like a trombone," Minnie snickered, and then kissed both Franco and Gloria on the lips.

"So, you're cool with this, I take it," Franco asked for clarity's sake.

"Honey, I have fantasized about screwing an Italian since puberty. It would be worth my while on that point alone. The fact that you're a volunteer just gives me an excuse to go for it. I'm not sure that my parents are thrilled, but they're in no place to judge me. They cherry-pick when it comes to practicing what they preach, anyway. If I were aggressive enough, they'd want me to volunteer myself, but I have a hard time with violence. I am more Buddhist in that sense than Mom and Dad are," Minnie confirmed her lover's statement.

"Just bear in mind that I'll have to be violent in my job. Think that you can accept such a man as your master?" Franco warned her, fearing the possible complications of her pacifist tendencies.

"Sure. Someone has to kill the bugs, or we're dead. I'll just try to think it as pest control, not war. Though technically, extermination of even insects is contrary to Buddhism. But if my cousin Thanh can enlist, and he was a monk, I'm a less serious offender," the Vietnamese student giggled.

"Alright, then I think that we should head over to the checkout, once you've selected your DVD," Franco urged them.

At the checkout line, the girl responsible for directing line traffic stared with obvious lust at the security guard. Varizzi recognized her as Jaimie, an unhappily married woman with a name that was tough to pronounce. She also had reddish brown hair that struck him as a cross between Molly's and Erin's. Her freckles, however, were her sexiest feature in his eyes. He had a strange fascination with freckled redheads. She also wore contacts to make her eyes look purple. It wasn't the wisest policy, in terms of healthy sight, but people did weird things to attract sponsors these days.

"If you want him, just say so," Minnie teased Jaimie, making the lady blush.

"I wouldn't object if he took me along. Hell, if he asked me to, I'd walk off the job this instant and never look back. I wouldn't even stop to count out my drawer. I already want out of my marriage. Why not burn my bridges completely?" the redhead declared abruptly.

"Very well, then. Do it, except for not closing out your drawer. You dared me, so I'm calling your bluff. If you're truly serious about going with me, tag along as we leave the store and don't even call your husband. It's not as if you have kids with him," Franco challenged his co-worker, wanting to see if she meant her bold proclamation.

Jaimie stunned everyone by immediately walking over to the other side of the counter, pulling her drawer from the register, and counting the money. She got dirty looks from the supervisors and several colleagues, but everyone knew that she was likely to quit soon anyway. They just didn't expect her to be so dramatic about her resignation. On the other hand, was a job next to one's own survival?

"Done," Jaimie declared upon clocking out and meeting with the trio just inside the store's exit. They were all paid up and finished, though part of Franco worried about his own job security all of the sudden. On the other hand, Antonio Flores needed him more than vice versa. He still wondered if he was too rash in making such a demand in an attempt to smoke out a poseur. Evidently, he had misjudged Jaimie. She really was in earnest.

"I take it that you've mentally kissed your position goodbye. They'll fire you if you don't quit first," Franco reminded the cashier.

"So what? If I can leave a husband, I can give up a job, too," Jaimie Stapleton shrugged off the issue of her likely termination.

"Very well. Kiss me then," Franco told her.

"Yes, Master," Ms. Stapleton (she never took hubby's last name) obeyed, after which she also kissed her fellow concubines.

"Well, it's clear that you've caught on to the right idea," Varizzi noted, quite pleased at the plump redhead's correct attitude.

"Hey, I'm committed now. I was tired of Matt's bullshit, anyway," Jaimie replied, just seconds before the grey interdiction field prevented them from leaving the store.

"Oh, crap, it's happening now!" Franco exclaimed, realizing that Giulio and he were among the many people about to depart the facility in a somewhat different vehicle than the one they had parked outside it. They wouldn't be going home, either.

"Franco, come here! Bring your girls, too!" Antonio blurted, pointing to a voluptuous Hispanic woman and her daughter.

"Are these Aurelia and Octavia?" Franco asked his boss directly.

"Certainly. I'm just glad that they decided to go window shopping here tonight. Otherwise, I would have had to change my plans... , " Mr. Flores started to explain, but someone else cut him off.

"Attention! All employees and patrons of this establishment, I require your attention for just a while, for the purpose of an evacuation. Yes, I am a Confederacy Space Marine officer, but this is a larger extraction than usual, so my rank is higher! I am Col. Carlo Varizzi and this is a recruiting pick up!

"Alright, now that you are giving me your undivided attention, people, I have some names to read off. I am proud to announce that the first pair of names on this list belongs to my nephews. Franco and Giulio Varizzi, step forward and make yourselves known to this gathering. Zenobia Stanfield, Wolf Marcus, Aidan Magee, Walter Finkel, Jose Caballero, Vera Long, Thomas Cullen, Miguel Serrano, Dale Parson, Fedor Komarov, Han Kim Yun, Laurie Purcell, and Krista Steiner, all join my nephews behind me for now. Ladies and gentlemen, these individuals are selected to serve henceforth in the uniform of the Confederacy, with all claims of nationality and citizenship elsewhere renounced from this moment.

"As you probably know, every volunteer is permitted at least two concubines, with two more for each point of merit on the CAP scale. I recommend, based on experience, that the female sponsors here only choose one male each for their harems. A half-female household is easier to trust in one's absence than one with male concubines alone. However, I cannot make your choices for you. It's your funeral, or rather your concubines' funerals, if you choose poorly and have to recycle an unfit concubine. At this point, those interested in being concubines are encouraged to present themselves and offer themselves to whichever sponsors might take them," a massive Italian whose familiar receding hairline was absent declared himself in a staccato voice.

"Dale, you son of a bitch, you're not leaving without me!" a tall and icy blonde shouted at her husband. It was Mrs. Kimberly Parson, who still labored under the impression that she was in control of her man.

"That's the kind of thinking that you need to abandon, Mrs. Parson. Your marriage ends today. Whether or not Dale keeps you as a concubine is his prerogative. If he does, however, I pity both of you. He'll probably have to dismiss you from his harem, since you don't strike me as obedient or grateful. I know that I wouldn't touch you with a hundred foot pole, myself. It sounds as if he has kissed your ass the last time, and it's your turn. What do they say about sauce for the goose being good for the gander as well? That's the idea, signora. Signor Parson can certainly do better, as plenty of ladies here will be eager to show him. Now, silencio!" Carlo put Kimberly in her place.

"You heard the man, Kimberly. I think that you would have some serious attitude adjustments ahead to qualify as a decent concubine for me. Enough said, bitch," Dale asserted himself at last.

"Okay, I'll change! I promise! I'll sleep with you every day, if you really want it! Just don't leave me here to die," Kimberly begged her ex.

"Do you want this woman as your concubine, Mr. Parson?" Carlo asked him, getting to the point.

"Hell, no! Living with her has been a kick in the nuts, and I'm done with even listening to her talk. She still doesn't get it. Screw her," Dale answered, punctuating his position with a knife motion across the throat.

"I'd rather not," Carlo chuckled, causing everyone but Kimberly to break out in laughter.

"Doesn't anyone want me?" Kimberly turned to look at all of the men and women.

"Yeah, I'll take you, cunt! Just remember that your ass is mine!" Zenobia Stanfield told her bluntly.

A desperate, but terrified Mrs. Parson fell in with her new sponsor. She had no idea what her new mistress was like, but it still beat dying on Earth. She just hoped that Zenobia was easy on her. The woman resembled a younger Billie Jean King, which made her gender preferences rather uncertain in Kimberly's mind.

Giulio and Franco quickly honored their deals with the women of their harems, but there were other volunteers who took much longer to select their partners. Carolyn Harquist further delayed the process by nagging several of the women about their decision to "sell out the sisterhood for a life of being someone's maid". Carlo warned her not to meddle with voluntary emigration, but instead of listening, she tried to block the women. He lost patience quickly and had his men stun her. Her unconscious body was a definite warning to the bystanders.

Han Kim Yun looked in vain for a Korean girl, so he settled for a traditional Chinese woman from the store's café. He seemed pleased with her, as well as with Ginger. Franco and Giulio both doubted that the second woman was up to sharing a man under any circumstances, but they hoped that she could get a grip on her jealousy for her sake. She was pretty and sweet otherwise, after all. Molly and Erin ended up with Wolf Marcus, a defrocked Bavarian priest who worked as a translator at the German consulate.

The most intense scene, however, occurred when Laurie Purcell ordered a female supplicant to literally kiss her ass and lick it as well. The woman was a sexy, but feisty patrolwoman who gave Laurie a speeding ticket earlier that day. After that moment of brief revenge, however, Ms. Purcell seemed to forgive the cop and even reciprocated the oral pleasure. She then required a male cashier known for his pretentious nickname and fondness for wrestling to do the same for both women, but he quickly yielded to her command. His wife's likely disapproval, were she present, apparently didn't enter his mind. Then again, he might have done it to spite her.

Krista claimed her significantly older boyfriend and a slightly chunky, but quite lovely Pakistani girl named Samira. All three of them hung out together in the heavy metal scene, so they had a natural inclination to link their fates in the evacuation. Krista was unusual among female sponsors in having no bi-curiosity, but she knew that she didn't need a second guy to "babysit", as she put it. She realized the practical need to share Mike, her beau, and didn't seem to care much either way. In fact, she was as Giulio called her, "cold as spumoni" about such things.

Franco felt that his uncle was in a hurry, due to the recent growth of risk at extraction, so the chance to "examine" the prospects had been truncated. Still, he wanted to make sure that Jaimie would be unable to turn back if she changed her mind. He consequently took the chance to pound her cunt and attempt to knock her up, so that saving her marriage wouldn't be an option. He also required her to suck his cock and take a "facial" with his spunk.

"Alright, Minnie and Gloria, lick it off. I think that Uncle Carlo is getting impatient. We have to move along," Franco encouraged his concubines.

His timing was excellent, as Carlo soon began pushing people to decide things. He was on a deadline, one shortened by increased security issues about pickups. In fact, there were rumors that "instant extraction" might become standard operating procedure in some parts of the world, due to the growing trouble from the desperate and especially from the Earth First movement. The halcyon phase of long and luxurious extractions was over, at least for now. After all, if someone made a mistake, there was still the option of discarding a concubine.

It was no surprise when Colonel Varizzi pulled the plug and called for all volunteers to transport to the ship, with or without their full harems. A handful of indecisive sponsors were one or two short, but the example of Ms. Harquist impressed the onlookers and hopefuls too much to object in this case. As for the new recruits themselves, they seemed willing to check out Civil Service for the rest. Fear of recycling might make the girls there desperate, after all.

As they awaited their new fates, the sponsors and their concubines simply breathed sighs of relief. The worst was over, at least in terms of suspense. Their new lives weren't easy, but the alternative was worse. No one cared to stick around for the Swarm. Franco particularly thought about this as he gathered his household of four women and one kid, glad that he could rescue Octavia along with her mother. It was always harder to leave one to die when you saw her face. This reminded him that his own kids were probably with their evil mother Rachel. It was too bad, since he'd rather they were with him, but he had no say in that.

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