Chapter 1

The sexy woman ran her hand down her exposed flank and smiled, "Justin, can we do it again?" she asked in a soft, sultry voice.

"No we can't," replied the man lying next to her, his expression changing abruptly from sated to businesslike. "I've got to get to work, Heather, and you know that."

The man, a physics professor rolled over quickly to escape the grasping arm of his concubine and came to rest on the edge of the bed. "I swear that ever since you found out that you're pregnant you've become insatiable," he growled at her.

The blond woman on the other side of the bed batted her eyes at her owner before grinning mischievously, "If you'd asked me when you picked me up, Justin, I could have told you all about it," she replied. "Barry always said he needed help after he got me up the duff."

"And that man gave you four children!" exclaimed the professor. "What was he, a raving lunatic?" he exclaimed throwing his hands skywards in mock horror.

"Professor Bennett," responded Heather seriously, "I'll have you know that my husband, God bless him, was as randy as I am and enjoyed playing with my body." She patted her growing tummy, "Especially when he got me all big and round." Heather couldn't keep a straight face and grinned across the bed.

Justin Bennett looked over the rumpled bedcovers at his big titted blond concubine and was seriously tempted to climb back into bed with her. It had been three years since his extraction and the novelty of having two gorgeous girls at his beck and call still hadn't worn off. Heather was the more blatantly sexual of the two and always seemed to be ready to drag him into bed whenever she got the chance.

His other concubine, Georgina was far more studious which was why he had Heather running the household and Georgie helping out as his assistant in the laboratory. The only thing he was missing on this assignment was the noisy presence of the half dozen children that made up the rest of his household.

Justin snorted, unlike in the stories he'd read on the old sex sites he'd never been propositioned by a student to get higher marks. That could have had something to do with his specialist subject and the complete lack of female students where he'd taught.

"Come on, Heather, I've got to get to work," he repeated rising to his feet.

Behind him Heather giggled, "Shall I start the shower?"

Justin sighed, "No, I can manage that myself" he replied and then paused as Heather started to get out of bed. "but you can go and prepare breakfast for us."

"Spoilsport," called Heather as the professor headed for the bathroom.

"Don't worry," he said from the safety of the doorway. "Even if I can't manage it later I'm sure that Keith Tucker would be willing to stand in for me."

He ducked behind the door as Heather grabbed a pillow from the bed and hurled it in his direction.

"What's the matter, dear?" he asked from his position of safety. "You know how much the illustrious professor fancies you. He's always going on about how much he'd like to get you alone."

"Me or any other woman on the base," shouted Heather. "He's a hyena, scavenging around the edges of polite society."

"True," responded Justin, "but he's also a genius."

"Then why doesn't he know how upset his own girls are at the way he totally ignores them?" asked Heather.

Justin stuck his head back around the door, "Probably because he's only interested in the chase," he said. "There were stories back on Earth about him working his way through every female in his department. Assistants, students, even the cleaners were supposed to have succumbed to his charms. I didn't believe it at the time but now? I guess it was true."

"He was that good?" asked Heather curiously.

"Lets put it this way," said Justin, "we all went into the medical pods after pickup, didn't we?"

Heather nodded.

"He's the only one who looks the same now as he did going in." Justin raised his eyebrows for a moment. "Go and make breakfast, Heather, I'm going to have my shower."

Heather looked at the closed door for a moment before turning to do her master's bidding.

"Professor Bennett, the provisional survey results are in." The speaker was a slim brunette wearing a pale grey laboratory coat.

"About time," muttered Justin as he stood up. It had been a long day and he was looking forward to getting back to his pod.

"I'm sorry," said Georgie, her face falling at her owner's apparent displeasure.

"No, Georgie, it's not your fault," said the professor reaching for the slim woman. "I should have known that it was going to take this long," he shrugged and tried to grin, "I just wanted them yesterday."

"Didn't we all," added Professor Tucker from the other side of the room. "Well don't keep us waiting," he added sharply, "What does it show?"

Georgie passed the display tablet she was carrying to Professor Bennett. "It appears that the heavy metal compound you discovered in the planet's crust is attenuating the transporter signal in some way, Sir."

"The distribution of the compound matches the signal attenuation directly?" asked Keith Tucker as he crossed to look at the display.

"These results seem to indicate that," admitted Georgie, "but the correlation is still a little tenuous around the smaller deposits we've identified. It will take a full geological survey to establish the exact location and size of each of the deposits. Once we have that we will be able to state categorically that it is this particular compound that attenuates the signal."

Keith Tucker snorted, "What else is it going to be?"

He switched his gaze from Georgie to Justin and continued, "There isn't anything else we've identified that causes anything like the problem we have with the transporters. We can call it quits now and get off this rock and back to civilisation."

"Not yet we can't," stated Justin firmly. He held up his hand to stop Keith interrupting, "I agree it is almost certain that we have found the cause of the problem but this is a scientific mission and until the I's are dotted and the T's crossed we're not finished." He smiled at Keith, "Still, I believe we should be able to wrap this up and go home in a month or so."

"What do we need to do first, then?" asked Professor Tucker.

"Get some drones up under AI control to do a full mineralogical survey of this planet," replied Justin. "We could also extract a decent amount of the compound and drag it clear of the planet and investigate how range impacts on its effect on the transporters."

"Georgie, go and work with the AI and see what you can coax out of it. We need a full survey in as many different ways as you can think of," he thought for a moment. "Begin with magnetic anomaly and a spectrographic scan. After that use your own judgement."

"Yes, Professor," responded the concubine and departed immediately to do his bidding.

As she disappeared from view Keith Tucker shook his head, "I don't know how you manage it," he said.

"Manage what?" asked Justin confused.

"Get them to obey you like that," replied Keith. "I've never heard anyone say that you've disciplined them but both of your concubines ask how high when you give them a command."

Justin shrugged, "I only ask them to do things they want to do. They've no reason to refuse." He could see that Keith Tucker still didn't understand for all his intelligence and he wasn't in the mood to enlighten him. He shrugged, "Discipline doesn't have to be physical," he concluded.

"If you say so," was all Professor Tucker could muster as a reply.

"Have you had any thoughts on how this compound is blocking the transporters?" asked Justin to change the subject.

"Not that I'd want to put before a peer review but my initial thoughts are to do with resonance," replied Professor Tucker.

"You think the field is interacting with the compound at that level?"

"Nothing else makes sense," replied Keith sharply. "There isn't enough metal to physically act as a shield and just about any other part of the electromagnetic spectrum is unaffected by the stuff. What else can it be?"

"I suppose that's true," responded Justin soothingly. "I wonder why it's only been found here?"

"Chance," declared Keith.

Justin stared for a moment and then slowly nodded, "I suppose the incidence of two of the rarer metals in one location could account for that."

"Throw in the equally weird location of this moon, or planet if you like and I think that were on to something." He paused, "One thing we haven't tried yet is replicating the stuff, I wonder if that would work?"

Justin thought for a moment before responding, "I doubt it," he said. "The replicator works at the molecular level, I doubt if it would create the right subatomic matrix to get the effects we've witnessed."

"It's something we'll need to try at some stage," said Keith.

"True, but I hope it doesn't replicate." He shuddered, "If it can be replicated and the Sa'arm find out about it, we're in deep shit."

Keith looked confused for a couple of seconds and then his eyes shot open. "You're right, if they can block our transporter signals then the drop in attacks we've been using so successfully will be a thing of the past."

Justin nodded, "It'll also make this one of the most valuable moons in the galaxy."

"Or one of the biggest liabilities," concluded Professor Tucker.

The Galileo shuttle settled onto the pad and silence filled the air for a moment, that is until the rear loading ramp dropped and Keith Tucker led the two women who'd accompanied him out into the daylight. As he strode towards the remote sub-base's entrance the shuttle was grabbed by a tractor beam and carefully moved into the adjacent hanger.

The closest that this system had to a habitable planet was, like Earth, in the third orbital position but it would be a million years or more before it settled down enough to be considered for colonisation. The fifth planet was a methane-clouded gas giant and only a cursory survey had ever been attempted of its surface.

That wouldn't have caused a stir amongst the AI's who guided the survey ships or the humans that crewed them. That the ninth moon of Morgat five held an oxygen atmosphere that was barely breathable by humans, did. That is what attracted their attention but when they then had problems transporting drones to the surface to collect samples, the anomaly became a huge red flag.

The Confederacy dispatched an investigative team under Professor Justin Bennett to see what was causing the problem and if it was of any significance.

Now the sub-base, technically Morgat five niner-gamma but usually referred to as Gamma base was about to become host to Professor Tucker and his two concubines for the final couple of weeks of occupation.

The base had started as four standard pods dropped from the ship that brought the investigative team here. Over the first month on the ground three of the pods had morphed into a single entity that housed an accommodation block as well as the main science area and a storage facility. The fourth pod had expanded to form the hanger that the shuttle was now settling into.

The door opened as the professor approached and a rush of warm air greeted the rapidly chilling party. Skin suits, like those worn by the Marines were only so good at keeping a body warm in the extremes here on the moon.

"Get in here quickly," called Keith as he dropped his bags just inside the door.

Two women rushed in after him, hopping to the side as they came in to avoid the professor's bags.

"Darlene, get this stuff put away," snapped the professor before turning to the second concubine. "Veronica, you'd better get us some food whilst I see to setting up the mining operation."

Darlene nodded and reached for the nearest of the professor's bags. Veronica flashed her sister concubine a look of disgust, "I'll get that," she said reaching for the second of the professor's bags. "The replicators are in the back pod next to the bedrooms."

Keith Tucker missed the interchange between his concubines, he was already thinking of the most efficient way to mine a portion of ore so that he could get it tested.

Gamma base had been the nearest of the three human bases to a large deposit of the compound they were investigating and that had decided where this experiment was going to be conducted from.

Its sister base, called Beta, was on the equator but on the far side of the planetoid from Gamma base and was currently home to Professor Teresa Porter and her team who were running the planetary survey that Justin Bennett had deemed necessary.

He was still in the main base that, in keeping with the simple naming convention they'd adopted was known as Alpha base. This base was situated at the planetoid's North Pole and had originally consisted of six pods but now occupied twice that area.

In Alpha's control room Morgan Green, a technician with the mission, looked up from her display, "Professor, are we expecting any visitors?"

Justin turned to the speaker, "Not as far as I'm aware, Morgan. Have you checked with the AI?"

The red headed volunteer shook her head negatively, "There's nothing shown in the log but I've just had a report from Beta that they've picked up a hyperspace transit flash."

"Where was it?" asked the professor.

A holograph of the system appeared in the middle of the room, "Way over here," explained Morgan as a red light started to strobe. "If it was someone coming here I'd have expected them to come in on this side of the system."

"I see what you mean," replied the professor, frowning. "Bend a sensor over that way and see what it is."

"Yes, Sir," responded the technician returning her attention to the console she was working.

Justin paced behind the two duty technicians, his mind in a whirl. They'd been on this rock for nearly eight T-months and had had precisely two visits. In each case it had been the scheduled supply run by the Fleet Auxiliary, something like this was totally without precedence.

"Oh, shit!" exclaimed Morgan, her expletive attracting attention from everyone in the room.

"What?" snapped Justin dropping his hand on her shoulder. Neither he nor Morgan knew how he'd got there so quickly.

"According to the AI, that's a Volturnus freighter."

"What is a Volturnus freighter?"

"It's a Sa'arm ship," said Morgan twisting to look at the professor.

Justin blinked a couple of times, "A Sa'arm freighter, what on Earth is that doing here?"

"Off the top of my head, professor, I've no idea," replied Morgan, "but we sure as hell don't want to attract their attention."

"No we don't," agreed the professor. "Tell the other bases to keep communications to a minimum and not to do anything that is likely to attract their attention," he ordered.

"Yes, Sir."

Justin took a deep breath and looked to the ceiling, "AI, what are our options?"

"This base has no offensive or defensive capabilities at this time. There are two Galileo class shuttles available, both of which carry minimal armament. However, they are deployed to the two satellite bases and would not be up to the task of taking on a ship. It is suggested that you request assistance from the nearest Confederacy forces."

"Thank you," replied the professor softly. "I'll prepare a message for dispatch."

He turned and headed for his office space, his shoulders slumped and his feet shuffling along slowly. Anyone watching him would believe he had the weight of the world on his shoulders and although this was only a small world. It's woes were definitely on Professor Bennett's shoulders.

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Story tagged with:
Science Fiction / Military /