I'd like to thank Mulligan for his assistance in turning this into a better story than my initial effort.
Also thanks to the Swarm Universe authors group for their comments, corrections and ideas.
Any errors remaining are of course mine.
"Is everything ready?"
Herbert Beard turned to the speaker and managed to smile in response, "Fred, when have I ever let you down?" His smile turned to a grin, "On second thought, don't answer that, you'll only bring up that blind date with your sister again."
Fred looked to the heavens momentarily, "Herbie..."
Herbert waved his arm along the seafront, "We've got three different marquees erected, the far one is for the rock crowd, the middle one is hip hop and this one, thank God is for us old fogeys." He nodded in the direction of a dark green vehicle parked reasonably close to the nearest marquee, "The Terriers have let us use their forty kilowatt generators and have even designated one of their number to join us in case there are any problems."
The Terriers was the nickname given to the Territorial Army and the local unit, a battalion of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers was always willing to help out the college whenever it could. The simple fact that soldiers liked looking at pretty young girls was a pretty good draw.
"So the tents are up and running," said Fred. "What about the food?"
"Since your mightiness gave the catering staff the day off as well as the rest of us minions we're having to rely on Benjamin's Restaurant for the food. But Maggie has been breathing down the necks of the crew that Bennies sent all morning and she assures me that there won't be any problems on that front." Margaret Tindle, or Maggie as she was known, was the head of catering for the college, a task she thought of as thankless but essential.
Herbert indicated an area roped off at the end of the beach, "They've set up barbecues at both ends of our beach front along with clean up areas and the bars."
Fred scowled, he was fifty-four years old and was having a hard time accepting the changes to the drinking age brought about by the universal acceptance of fourteen as the age of majority.
"Don't worry about it," said Herbie when he spotted the scowl, "I've detailed off the Phys. Ed. department to keep an eye on things and make sure that none of the kids drink too much."
Frederick Dalton, the principal of Highcliffe College ran a hand through his thinning grey hair and gave a nod of appreciation before slowly turning through three hundred and sixty degrees, "Can you think of anything we've forgotten, Herbie?"
"Fred, if we've forgotten anything it's too late now. The kids will be arriving in an hour so grab yourself a beer and try to relax until they get started." He chuckled, "There'll be enough going on then to raise your blood pressure without giving it a head start."
Giving the principal a squeeze on the shoulder Herbie led the older man towards the nearest bar, "You know Fred, I think this has been one of your better ideas. Things have changed so much in the last four years, ever since we were told about the Swarm and it's good to be doing something positive."
"Two Grolsch," ordered Fred from the young man behind the bar, "I know what you mean, Herbie. For the first couple of years I was running around, setting up the CAP testing and trying to implement all the rules the government sent out. Then we got that AI that was supposed to help us with the transition and all it did was tell us how wrong we were."
Herbie chuckled, "Yeah, and when we asked what it meant it replied that it couldn't tell us because we were so primitive."
"Primitive," snorted Fred, "I was all for pulling the plug on the damned thing until the powers that be finally got their fingers out and instructed the bloody machine to assist with the administration and we started to make progress."
He looked down the beach towards the other bar, "You know, I never suspected that I'd be giving the students beer, I always pictured that I'd be the one confiscating it."
Herbie raised the green Grolsch bottle, "That's the one good thing about school these days as far as I'm concerned." He took a sip of the cold beer, "What's really surprised me is how many of the students have stuck with it."
Fred raised an eyebrow in query and Herbie continued, "Don't get me wrong, I might be the vice-principal but I'm still a teacher at heart. When the coming of the Swarm was announced I was convinced that the Confederacy would cherry pick the best of the best, high academic qualifications along with a perfect body would be the order of the day. No one was more surprised than I was when that didn't happen, I was totally gobsmacked when a willingness to give up a human's basic rights was a better selling point than being a genius."
He took another swig from the bottle, "Once all that became general knowledge I expected attendance to fall through the floor, what was the point in attending school if it wasn't going to mean anything in ten years time?"
"I think a lot of us believed that we'd be out of a job," agreed Fred nodding, "and for awhile things did start to fall away but as people began to realise just how few were going to be saved that trend reversed."
"The riots," scowled Herbie. "At least the improvement in attendance was something to thank Earth First for, even if there's nothing else."
Fred snorted, "I can't think of anything else they've done right," he said.
The party had barely started when Adonis and his girlfriend Penelope arrived, the young man, whose looks lived up to his name, had no difficulty parking his battered pickup near to the beach.
"Come on gorgeous, let's see who's here and if there's anything worth joining in with," he called as he slammed the driver's door shut. By the time he'd pushed the keys into his denim cut-offs Penny had his free hand in hers.
"Have you any idea what this is all about?" she asked.
"Only the official version," he replied as his blue eyes scanned the beach for signs of anyone he knew.
"And you believe that?" asked Penny, her voice imply just how implausible she found that idea.
"For once I do," replied Adi, pulling his girl's topless body against his own naked torso. "Look at all the trouble they've gone to just for us." He kissed Penny's cheek and continued, "The idea of allowing us to meet the staff in a non-academic setting is a good one though it should probably have been done at the beginning of the year rather than halfway through."
"But why this weekend, everyone knows we head to Spain for a bit of sex, sun and sangria over this weekend."
Adi frowned, "And that's probably the main reason for having it now," he said. "Look at what happened last year with that gang that took advantage of those cheap flights. My guess, and that's all it is, is that they want to get us off to a slow, call it more controlled start to the break. We can begin partying here in a safe environment before we hit the wilder shores. I'm betting that after today half the kids who are here won't even leave town."
Penny pursed her lips in thought, "What about us, are we still going?"
"You bet," he replied, "You know I had to get a special dispensation to arrive a day late as it was. There's no way I'm going to miss out on any more training than I have to with the Swarm heading this way."
Penny hugged hard against the muscled upper body of her lover as they reached the beach level. "There's Angel and Desiree," she murmured nodding in the direction of two good-looking girls who stood near the bar. "Let's go join them."
The couple changed their direction and ambled towards the friends. Alongside them, waiting to be served, was a bunch of lads who were just a little on the rowdy side. The two girls, like many of the others near the bar were edging away from the group whilst eyeing them nervously.
Adi exchanged nods with Joel Vance, the head of physical education who was watching the lads with a growing sense of mistrust. He stood back as the three girls exchanged hugs and kisses then asked, "Do you two need a refill?"
Desiree glanced back at the bar and then down at her glass.
"Don't worry," chuckled Adi, "I'm going into the lion's den and I'll bring back whatever you want."
"White wine and soda," said Desiree, smiling in relief.
"Just a lemonade for me," said Angel.
"Your usual, Penny?"
Penny nodded then looked around, "We'll wait over by the marquee," she said.
"OK, see you in a minute."
The trio of beauties headed for the relative safety of the marquee as Adi made his way to the bar. The talk around him was loud, and in some cases profane, but he ignored it and tried to catch the eye of the bartender.
"Look, I'm telling you that our wonderful government is not going to force the Confederacy to take us all," said a short guy with dark hair and glasses. "As long as this bunch of buffoons remains in power we," his hand waved to encompass the group, "are doomed."
"And how are we supposed to get rid of these 'buffoons'?" asked a lad with dirty blond hair. "They don't need to hold another election for three years and I'm willing to bet that they'll be able to come up with a reason to put that off as well."
"Stage a revolution?" asked a swarthy skinned individual from the edge of the group.
"That's one option but that always leaves the new government open to a charge of being illegal," said the lad with the glasses. "No, the best method is a systematic demonstration of public disillusionment with the current incumbents. If they can't get anything done because the people will no longer obey them they'll have to call an election."
"And you think that would be enough for the Earth First party to get into power?"
"Look at this place," said glasses. "We're all adults and entitled to vote. How many here have got CAP scores high enough to let us volunteer for the Confederacy? How many of the rest of us would be willing to prostitute ourselves to get off this planet, how many of us would even be given the chance?"
He waited for an answer that wasn't forthcoming then looked around the group again, "You know the Confederacy is taking their picked volunteers and as many women as they can cram into their ships. Blokes like us are pushed to one side, our girlfriends taken as slaves and we're left here to rot."
"Earth First promises to cut off the supply of volunteers that the Confederacy claims it needs so desperately. Once that has been achieved a government that is sworn to look after us will renegotiate the deal that the current bunch of traitors have struck with the aliens." The lad settled his glasses firmly above his nose, "As long as we stick together there is nothing the Confederacy can do but fold and take us all. It's only the traitors, who are thinking of their own skins who are letting them get away with it."
Adi shook his head, he'd heard it all before and he'd seen the ideas the lad with glasses was putting forward ripped to shreds by other members of the Earth First movement. Members who had a firmer grip on reality and a plan that might just save the majority of those who were going to be left behind.
"What's going on over there?" asked Penny as Adi handed out the drinks.
"There's a guy sprouting off about Earth First and how it's going to save us all."
Penny snorted derisively which drew a puzzled look from Angel.
"Don't you think the Confederacy should be taking us all?" she asked.
"In the ideal galaxy I'm sure they would," replied Penny, "but you've seen the figures, the same as I have. They haven't got enough ships to lift us or places to put us if they had the ships." She glanced towards the group of guys and shook her head sorrowfully. "At least we stand a chance if we can get involved in a pick up; those poor buggers would just get pushed to the side and ignored."
"You think so?" asked Desiree.
"Come off it," said Adi. "The three of you are young, beautiful and intelligent. Most guys have been programmed since birth to look for those attributes, the simple fact that the Confederacy is telling them that they can make any woman they pick look like you do now just doesn't wash, not when the pressure's on."
He smiled at the three girls, "The figures that have been released show that about a third of the guys who are extracted base their selections on what would be good for their future households, just like they're supposed too. That still leaves two thirds of the volunteers who are using their gonads to make up their minds for them."
His smile disappeared and was replaced by a more serious look, "Provided you can get rid of your clothes and service whatever's put in front of you all three of you should have no problem getting picked."
"What about you?" asked Angel, "You're young and handsome, so you shouldn't have any problems getting picked."
"Looks count for a lot but not so much for us men," said Adi, "If we're too intelligent or pushy we'll be dumped. No woman wants to risk being undermined in her own house."
"So what do you think will happen to you?" asked a wide-eyed Desiree.
"I'll still be here when the Swarm land but I'll be ready for them," replied Adi firmly. "I've joined a group that are seriously looking at what can and should be done to make Earth as safe as possible."
"But the Confederacy aren't going to do anything, are they?" asked Angel.
"That's not strictly true," said Adi with a small smile. "What they've said officially is that they will not commit troops to a ground battle. The Confederacy Navy will endeavour, that's their words for it, to endeavour to make sure that no enemy units reach the planet's surface. If however they are unsuccessful in that task it will be up to the planet's defenders to repel or destroy the incursion."
He looked at the three girls with almost wide-eyed innocence, "That's where you'll find me, fighting against the aliens who are out to take my planet away from me."
"What sort of chance would you have?" asked Angel, shock showing in her voice.
"The word is that the Confederacy estimated that Earth would still be fighting back after ten years," replied Adi, "And that was without any warning or a space navy that would stop a lot of the attackers."
"You're serious?" asked Desiree after a moments silence."
"Deadly," said Adi firmly.
"And how many of you are there?"
"It's hard to say," admitted Adi, "I know that there are ten thousand of us in the UK who've started training. We're sure that number will grow and eventually the regular armed forces are going to have to be put on alert as well. When that happens the Confederacy will be banned from recruiting volunteers from within the armed forces because our need will be greater than theirs will. By the time the Swarm arrives I think that at least ten percent of the population will have received some sort of training and will be armed."
"Ten percent, that's not many," said Angel.
"No?" said Penny, "You think that six million armed fighters in this country alone is not many? There are six billion people on this planet and even after the Confederacy has had its share there would still be more than five billion. Ten percent of that means that the Swarm will be facing five hundred million armed fighters!"
Angel looked from Penny to Adi and back again, "You're one of these fighters too, aren't you?" she asked looking at Penny.
"Dead right I am," replied the girl, "and even if I get a chance to escape I'm not going. This is my planet and I'm not going to desert it!"
"And you feel the same?" asked Angel switching her gaze to Adonis.
"The fighters have taken the name of Einherjar and I'm one of them," he replied seriously. "We've all vowed to stay and fight."
Desiree looked at the group of guys who were still clustered around the bar, "What about them?"
"At the moment they're part of the ninety percent," said Adi. "Whether they will see the light and start to behave realistically only time will tell."
Angel looked at Adi and shook her head, "That's all well and good but if I get a chance to get away I'm grabbing it with both hands."
"And so you should," said Adi. "It's a personal decision, one that I'm happy to have made but it's not for everyone. Those are the ones I feel sorry for," he said indicating the milling throng. "You and I know what options are available and we've made up our minds what to do. They're still milling around in never-never land and the only thing it will achieve is getting them killed." He shrugged, "And there's nothing any of us can do about it."
"Come on Doreen, let's sit over there and eat this in peace."
Doreen York nodded and followed as Mona Blackwell headed for the grassed area she'd indicated, each of them was juggling a full paper plate and a plastic glass of beer as they negotiated the tricky going left by a hundred people.
Mona lowered her plump posterior to the ground and twisted the beer glass into the soft ground to support it, her pendulous breasts jiggled with each twist she made. Doreen couldn't help watching her friend's blatant display even though she'd seen it many times before.
She dropped to her knees, "Do you have to do that all the time?" she asked.
"If you're not advertising, you're not in the game," came the well rehearsed reply, "and you know that Doreen, so why do you ask?"
The skinny teacher glanced down at her black bikini top that barely showed any sign of a bulge and snorted, "What have I got to advertise with and besides, what's the point advertising here, have you seen how those girls are dressed?"
"You mean not dressed," replied Mona casting an almost jealous glance in the direction of the girls who were playing volleyball. Only one of them was wearing a top and that was totally see-through.
The home economics teacher picked up the first thing on her plate that came to hand and bit into the sausage, she chewed a couple of times and swallowed, "Have you heard the rumours that the Confederacy has been messing with people?"
"In what way?" asked Doreen as she dropped down beside her friend.
"Something I heard the science guys talking about the other day," said Mona. "Apparently the state of our health is improving and there's no logical explanation. Or, as one of them put it, there is nothing we've done that can have had that impact so it has to be something the aliens have done to us."
"What sort of thing?" asked Doreen, picking at the plate of barbecued food.
"From what they were saying they believe that the replicators we're all using don't just produce food but also treat it in some way to improve our health," said Mona before popping the last of the sausage into her mouth.
"I'm not sure if I like that," said Doreen frowning as she considered what Mona had just said. "I mean, that's messing with my body without permission, isn't it?"
"It is," agreed Mona, "but think of everything else the Confederacy has done to us without asking and it doesn't seem that much of a stretch, does it?"
"No," replied Doreen still frowning, "but surely the people they've extracted wouldn't let them mess with us, would they?"
"Depends on how you view those who've gone," said Mona before glancing around. "You know that some people are starting to talk about those who've been extracted as though they were traitors, deserting us to go and work for the enemy."
"The Confederacy aren't the enemy," said Doreen as a statement and then added "Are they?"
Mona shrugged, "That is open to debate, isn't it? I mean, they're taking the best people away from Earth in its hour of need. They've reintroduced slavery and they're oppressing the vast majority of the planet's population because it doesn't meet their ideals. Simply they're condemning most of us to a horrible death, now does that sound like a friend?"
Doreen sat there wide-eyed, "You don't think it's a deliberate plot or something, do you?"
"Not really," replied Mona, her shoulders dropping in resignation. "Those who are volunteering really are leaving us to fend for ourselves but I'd describe them as being more like the French Foreign Legion or the Gurkhas than as true mercenaries or even traitors. If the Confederacy is telling the truth about what they can and cannot manage and what is coming then they are doing the best that they can and our personal survival is down to the luck of the draw."
She pushed a chicken wing around her plate for a moment, "Even all of the volunteers aren't going to be extracted so having a high CAP score isn't a guarantee of survival, I just wish it wasn't so, I don't know, call it dependent on luck. I've never been that lucky."
Unknown to Mona a space ship in orbit around the planet was about to change her luck.
"The drones are in position and are ready to deploy the transporter pads, sir."
Commander Ray Avila nodded and after a final glance at the screens showing the beach scene he crossed the hold of the colony ship Cassiopeia and rejoined the Marines of his extraction team.
"All right, pay attention, you've all been briefed on what's going to happen and we've all done extractions before so this should be a walk in the park."
Around him the Marines started sealing their skinsuits, the closest thing to full body armour they were allowed to wear. The suits had become the everyday wear of the Marines and provided sufficient ballistic protection to counter most handheld threats that they were likely to encounter on Earth. The surface of the suit could blend with its surroundings like a chameleon or maintain a fixed colour depending on the instructions given to the nannites that made up its surface. This capability had led to some rather remarkable uniforms appearing around the Corps as various commanders let their artistic abilities, or the lack of them, loose on their troops' clothing.
The suit also looked after the wearer in an everyday environment, regulating temperature and humidity as well as dealing with the hair and skin particles that became detached from the human's body.
The suits were matched to a pair of synthetic boots that could mimic almost anything from a slipper to an armoured boot. For the wearer the only real difference was the sound made as the boot hit the surface, on board ship it was a soft sound whilst on the planet it could sound like a hobnailed boot or be almost silent.
Ray glanced at the ceiling, "AI, how many are we looking at?"
The ship's disembodied voice replied, "There are eighteen people in the extraction zone with CAP scores over the threshold, however four of them, three females and one male have been artificially lowered as they are incapable of breeding."
Ray flinched, as he always did when it was confirmed that people were being left behind simply because they couldn't breed. It was bad enough when the person in question was simply too old but there had been cases where the person was the victim of a medical condition that could have been cured using Confederacy technology. Unfortunately for them, that only applied after they were extracted and not before.
"In addition," continued the AI, "there are two people in the extraction area who haven't volunteered, a male with a CAP score of seven point two and a female whose score is six point eight."
Ray couldn't hide the look of surprise that flashed across his face and he noticed that several of his Marines had shown their surprise as well.
"How many concubines are there going to be?" he asked.
"The entitlement is for thirty," replied the AI, "In addition you are detailed to bring back four more females for the Civil Service pool."
Ray nodded once and turned his attention back to his Marines, "OK people, you heard the AI, we're looking at picking up twelve volunteers and thirty-four baggage items. Kiddie lifting will commence as soon as we're back aboard and will be dependent on what we get stuck with."
His demeanour turned serious as he continued, "Remember, this is a college and they're always hot beds of extremism, whether it's communism, Islamism or any other ism you care to name. It's almost certain that there is going to be a large contingent of Earth First loonies in the extraction zone so don't take any chances, zap them as soon as they show themselves. The good thing is that this one's happening in Great Britain so there shouldn't be a lot in the way of firepower on their side but stay alert and stay alive."
"What about the high CAP scores who haven't volunteered, Sir?"
"I'll look them up and see what's going on," replied Ray, "If I can, I'll get them to volunteer and we'll deal with their six concubines at the same time. Any other questions?"
He looked his people over and when no questions were forthcoming he indicated the transporter pads, "Get in position," he ordered. "AI, drop the pads and activate the interdiction field."
"Field up," responded the AI.
"Go," ordered the Commander and the first four Marines stepped onto the transporter pads.
"Oh, my God!"
Mona's exclamation was one of many as the bright sunlight gave way to a grey, almost a twilight. A quick look confirmed that an interdiction field, something that most people hadn't witnessed from the inside but had heard all about, caused it.
On the beach people were milling around in confusion, some of them staring out to sea whilst others sought out friends and loved ones.
Mona bounced to her feet and grabbed Doreen by her arm, "Come on," she called dragging her friend along, "this is our chance to get away."
Doreen struggled to get her feet under her as Mona ploughed ahead, heading for the centre of the beach. In front of them a disk appeared on the ground and two men stepped of it. They turned outwards and looked around, their faces set in a grim mask and their arms extended in a threatening manner.
Mona and Doreen slammed to a halt as two more figures appeared, one of them a woman. The two new arrivals adopted a similar posture to the earlier arrivals and Doreen realised that they were now covering all avenues of approach.
The four of them slowly relaxed as their eyes failed to spot a threat and after a couple of minutes there was a flurry of arrivals including one who stood out as an officer.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," began the officer, "I'm Commander Avila of the Confederacy Space Marines and this is an extraction of volunteers for service with the Confederacy Armed Forces." His amplified voice could be heard over the whole of the extraction ground, the AI ensuring that his voice came out of the speakers inside the three marquees.
"At this time I require everyone to remain where they are whilst we identify those we are here to collect. When that is done we will separate the remainder into those who wish to be considered as concubines and those that don't." He looked around, assessing any threats, "Be aware that we will use whatever force is required to carry out this task without endangering ourselves or those we are here to collect."
His eyes picked up movement near one of the marquees and he looked that way, "So don't do anything stupid and we'll get our job done and be on our way."
Ray Avila turned away from the marquee and a rush started as soon as his back was turned, another group charged from the direction of the bar and a third group magically appeared further down the beach adjacent to the second transporter pad.
Ray kept going, goading the attackers into a desperate sprint across the sand simply by ignoring them. Around him the other Marines did the opposite, separating slightly so that they all had room to manoeuvre. The attackers were within twenty metres when an amplified voice said, "Now!"
A buzzing sound filled the air as the Marines let fly with the heavy duty stingers they were carrying, all around the beach people dropped as though they'd been pole-axed, one or two managed a grunt of surprise before they hit the sand bonelessly.
Commander Avila scanned the scene and pursed his lips, "Any more?" he asked.
Nobody moved or said a word for twenty seconds.
"Check out the bodies," ordered Ray, "and make sure they're not going to choke themselves." His expression showed that as far as he was concerned they could choke in their own vomit but orders were orders and he would obey them.
The Marines split into pairs and as one of them rolled the unconscious body into the recovery position the second member of the team stared around belligerently. Still nobody moved as the Marines carried out their clean up.
"How many are down?" asked Ray.
"Forty-three," responded the AI.
"Any of them ours?"
"No, they're all sub-standards," replied the AI.
"Good," said Ray, "Now let's get on with this pickup."
The last of his Marines reported in and he switched the voice amplifier back on, "Now that the fun and games are over we'll do what we came here to do. There are twelve volunteers here, no doubt you know who you are so I want you to make your way to the nearest Marine in the yellow uniform."
At his words two of the skinsuits turned bright yellow, clearly visible in the grey light. Cautiously a small number of people started to move, making their way towards the highlighted Marines and reporting in.
"That's all of them, Sir," reported the senior NCO on the team.
"OK, now for the messy bit," said Ray softly, "Keep you wits about you and stun anyone who gives any trouble."
"Ladies and gentlemen, would those of you who have no interest in being extracted make your way to the middle marquee," said Ray. "That includes those of you who are beyond the child producing stage."
He stood there and watched as about half of the people who were still awake headed for the middle tent, he was surprised at how many were heading that way but it was no skin off his nose if they wanted to die.
He remembered the two high CAP scores he was supposed to check out, "What were the names of the two high scores who haven't volunteered?"
"Adonis Illiescue and Penelope Powell," responded the AI in his ear.
"Could Adonis Illiescue and Penelope Powell make themselves known," he called and wasn't that surprised when the two of them turned up together heading towards the middle tent.
"Gunny," he sub-vocalised, "get the selection process underway while I have a talk with these two."
"Aye aye, Sir."
Ray approached the waiting couple and was impressed, for a couple of humans who hadn't undergone augmentation they weren't in bad shape, the girl was good enough to be one of his concubines as she was.
The boy was just about one metre eighty-two, or right on six feet tall in old money; he was toned and moved with a certain gait that implied some sort of martial arts training. He wouldn't be able to take one of the Marines but he wouldn't be a pushover either.
"Afternoon," said Ray when he was close enough to talk comfortably, "my name's Ray and according to our AI you're Adonis and you're Penelope, is that right?"
"Yes, Sir," responded the boy and the girl nodded.
"I know what your CAP scores are, so is there any particular reason why you haven't volunteered for service?" asked Ray. "If it's something specific maybe I can answer your questions and put your minds at rest."
Adi cocked his head to one side in thought but remained silent; Penny just smiled softly.
"I've no reason to volunteer, Sir," said Adi.
"You don't look like someone who doesn't want to fight," said Ray, "but if that's the problem I'm sure they could find a place for you in the Civil Service."
"No, Sir, you don't understand," said Adi, "What I mean is that I have no reason to volunteer for service in 'your' Confederacy."
"What do you mean, 'My' Confederacy?" asked Ray, "Are you one of those Earth First idiots?"
Adi continued to smile, though it was showing signs of strain, "It is your Confederacy because it has nothing to do with Earth. We are not part of the Confederacy until we are extracted, the Earth doesn't profit because of the Confederacy and has no say in how it is run or what its aims are."
"You're not even committed to defending us, an action that would be demanded by any other member of the Confederacy if they were attacked." Adi's smile was back now. "If by Earth First you mean do I object to you taking away your pick of the people to fight your battles, but not all of us, then no, I'm not a member. But if by Earth First you mean do I put my planet before those of a bunch of aliens then yes, I'm very definitely a member."
Ray's eyes had grown wider as the young man had spoken, his words forcefully put.
Adi continued, "As to the rest of it, the stealing of our resources to build your ships, the slavery, the destruction of families, there's not a lot I can do about it. But I know there will come a time, after we've defeated the Swarm, that the Confederacy is going to be held to account and those who've deserted the home world will have to live with the consequences."
"Are you threatening me?" asked Ray in amazement.
"No," replied Adi, simply, "I'm telling you that ten years from now, when the Swarm have been kicked off Earth and we're free to develop as we should you and your kind will no longer be welcome here, nor will your interference be tolerated from that time."
"And now?" asked Ray.
"I'm going to watch your extraction and stay out of the way," said Adi.
Ray turned to Penny, "What about you, do you believe all that crap?" he asked, not noticing that his polite manner had gone missing in the last two minutes.
"Personally I don't think it's crap," said Penny. "I'm pretty sure that when the truth is revealed we'll find that the politicians were sold a bunch of crock by the military and those of us back here have been left to pick up the pieces."
"What we're doing young lady is the best thing that can be done," snapped Ray. "Were fighting to defend the Confederacy against a foe that could destroy us all."
"That's just it," stated Penny in vehement response, "you're defending the Confederacy, not the Earth, not the human race, just the fucking Confederacy and that's not right!"
Adi slipped his arm around his irate girlfriend, "It's all right Penny, they've made their choice and have to live with it, just like we have to live with ours." He squeezed her to him and started moving away from the open-mouthed Confederacy officer.
Gunny Rich knew what needed to be done and set about the task with relish, it wasn't much but he enjoyed watching the various women dropping their inhibitions along with their panties for a chance to get off this rock.
"OK. I'll keep it simple because I know most of you aren't thinking straight," he called out to the group of volunteers. "As a reminder you all get to pick two concubines and let's not beat about the bush here, they're slaves with less rights than dog shit. Once they accept you as the boss you can do what you like to them."
He looked at the group and was pleased to note that most of them were shocked at his words. "That's the theory anyway," he continued in a quieter tone. "But, and this is very important to understand, the fact is that you're going to have to live with these people. And in most cases they'll be having and bringing up your kids, so if you don't want the little darlings to grow up into backstabbing bastards you had better set a good example from the off."
"Now I'm going to give you some advice, advice that is based on experience," he tried to catch the eye of each of the volunteers before he continued. "Pick one for fun and one to do the mommy bit; girls, it might be fun to have two dicks on tap but you'll be better off with a mommy to look after the brats whilst you're deployed. Those of you with scores that start with a seven get an additional pair, same thing again, make sure you can live with them and they can live with each other. The last thing you need is to come back after a three month deployment to find the remnants of your home and a bunch of dead slaves. It's happened in the past and will probably happen again, just make sure it's not your family that blows it."
He held up a CAP card reader, "This allows you to dig down on the scores on the CAP cards, see one of the Marines and they'll give you the thirty second tour and then you're on your own. Grab your slaves and come back here. Ladies, I'd suggest that you have a word with Corporal Johns there before you begin hunting so that she can give you the low-down on what things are really like out there."
He looked around and smiled, "Get your card readers and get moving, we haven't got all day."
He stepped clear of the melee as the volunteers tried to find a Marine with a card reader and headed for a clear space from where he could see the potential concubines. He turned the amplifier rig on and yelled, "Attention!"
He smiled and dialled back his volume, "Right, we're about to begin the selection process, I'm sure you all know how it works but I'll just hit the high points in case you've been living under a rock. These people over here are volunteers, they get to take people like you with them to do with pretty much as they please. Now if you want to be one of their playthings you're going to need two things, the first is a valid CAP card and the other is to convince one of the volunteers to take you with them."
"If you had time to sit down and make your case I'm sure that most of you could convince someone to take you with them, however you haven't got the luxury of time, so the tried and tested method is obedience and sex. That's right! You do what they say and you perform whatever sexual acts they demand." His smile disappeared, "If you don't like that or can't do it you shouldn't be here. By the same token if you find you can't do what they ask of you, just step back, taking a swing at a volunteer is going to get you stunned by one of my marines, and will remove whatever chance you may have had."
"Once you agree to go with a volunteer as a concubine and they accept you, it's over, you're their property and they can and will do what they like with you." He looked around at the anxious looking crowd, "Am I just trying to scare you? No, what I'm telling you is the God's honest truth. Once you say 'I do' that's it and there's no chance of an annulment or a divorce."
"Now strip and wait in line for your chance," he finished and turned his back on the crowd.