Prodigious Collection
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, Science Fiction, Incest, Harem, Interracial, First, Oral Sex, Anal Sex, Masturbation, Squirting, Pregnancy, Slow,

Desc: Science Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1 - A cube ship holds a quarter million people. That's a lot! Some assembly required.

Day 1

1 Section 1 -- Main pickup

The marine did not even step out of the elevator. The transporter nexus was tossed out onto the carpet in front of the open elevator door. Almost instantly, two more marines stepped off of the glowing disk. A dozen tiny drones then appeared and spread throughout the area above the available floor space. Without a word, the elevator door closed and the car rose to the next floor. Again: open door, toss disk, watch two marines and the drones appear, let the door close.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

In the fifty-six-story office building the elevator banks were divided. Some serviced the lower floors, some served the middle floors and still others served the top floors. A marine had been detailed to each of the three banks of elevators, seeding every floor being serviced with a transporter nexus. When they were finished, the three marines were returned to the first floor retail area. Each of the myriad other elevators in the building had stopped at the nearest floor, opened its doors and ceased to function.

Surprised and shocked, the receptionist on the thirty-seventh floor took in the two BDU-dressed giants, a man and a woman, both two meters tall and solidly built. She managed to croak, "May I help you?"

"I'm sure you can," answered the smiling woman. "Do you think anyone here would like a free trip to the moon?"

The receptionist briefly closed her eyes and shook her head, trying to clear the cobwebs. "A trip to the moon? What are you talking about?"

The two marines glanced at each other and grinned, enjoying the confusion they had sown. "I'm Corporal Tim Hansen and this is Corporal Susan Chang of the Confederacy Marines."

When the poor receptionist remained silent in her confusion, Corporal Chang added, "We're auditioning for colonists. We're here to escort all comers to the moon. There, we will explain the program. All those who fit one of our profiles and are willing to go will be taken to the colonies. Those who change their minds about going or who don't fit our profile will be returned to this building."

By this time, two men had rounded the corner from deeper in the office and were watching, their confusion just as apparent. One of the men said, "This is a pickup? Where is the grey wall?"

The receptionist leaped from her chair so violently that it tipped over and noisily crashed to the floor. She was already unbuttoning her blouse.

Turning back to the receptionist, Corporal Chang held her arm out, her hand turned palm up and outward. "Not yet, please." The receptionist stopped but held the front of her blouse in her hands.

"We're trying this pickup without an interdiction field," Corporal Hansen explained. "This building is too near its neighbors to be isolated in a single field. Besides, we're going for quantity here. Anyone walking into the building can come, too."

"Could we gather all your people?" asked Corporal Chang. "That way, we may only have to explain once."

Soon, the lobby was crowded with people. More were in the hallways and some were in the elevator lobby, with the main office door wedged open. Someone had gone to the other offices on the same floor and invited all to listen. Only five minutes had elapsed since the marines had presented themselves at the reception desk.

"Okay, people, listen up," Corporal Hansen began, his voice amplified. "There's a honkin' big colony transport headed for Earth. The transport will hold a quarter of a million people. It has been decided that, to collect a quarter of a million people in a few days, the pickup routines you have all heard about won't work.

"This is the first large-scale trial of a new system. Everyone who is willing to consider going to the colonies may go to the moon. We will collect the dependents of any of you who choose to go. This time we mean 'dependents' very broadly. We will collect all of your children, no matter their age. We will collect spouses, if you want them and if they want to go. Parents, siblings, your secret lover, neighbors, friends, whoever there is, we don't care, they're all welcome as long as they're fertile.

"In the moon, each person has one day in which to decide whether or not to make a commitment to go to the colonies. Volunteer-grade persons are, of course, automatically accepted. All those who decide not to go will be returned to this building. All those who wish to continue and who do not have a CAP score over 6.4 will shed their clothes and begin the process of finding a suitable sponsor. Volunteers will be searching for and collecting concubines.

"We are here in an office building because we believe there to be a very high percentage of volunteer-level men and women here. Men, those of you who are not volunteers have a slim chance of being collected as a concubine. This is, however, the perfect opportunity to help your family escape, even if you have to leave them in the moon and come back home alone. You are welcome to go to the moon, although the facilities are deep inside and there will be no view. Frankly, brutal testing will determine whether men have the capacity to subordinate themselves to a sponsor. Any adult 'dependents'," and he made air quotes with two fingers on each hand, "that you have us pick up will decide for themselves whether to stay or come back to Earth.

"Ladies, if you wish to go to the colonies, you need only be fertile. Those of you who do not find a sponsor in the moon will be taken as a group to fill shortages of women in the colonies. Some of you may find a sponsor during transit. For you as well, any adult 'dependents' that you have us pick up will have to decide for themselves whether to stay or come back.

"Alright, those of you who want to go to the moon, step right up. Again, every last question you may have will be answered in the moon. If you don't like the answers, you will be returned to this building. If you think that you may want to be returned to this building, tell us upon your arrival in the moon and we will arrange for your dependents to be cared for here on Earth until you make your decision. We don't want to involve them if you are uncertain right from the beginning. They can wait up to twenty-four hours in the care of our colleagues for you to make up your mind. For those of you who are unwilling to go to the moon before questions are answered, go see Corporal Chang," and he pointed at his fellow marine.

Corporal Hansen moved the fallen receptionist's chair and placed the transporter pad on the floor behind her desk so that he could control who approached it. Corporal Chang took up a position somewhat away from the pad but near enough to step in at the first sign of trouble.

"Please make sure you have your CAP cards," said Corporal Hansen. "Leave your weapons. Take your wallets and your purses. Take your cell phones, your keys and coats and jackets. Leave just about everything else." A number of people turned and went back into the offices, only to return with personal belongings. "Please keep this orderly. No stampedes allowed. You all get to go if you want to."

He guided the first man toward the now-glowing pad. "Walk onto the nexus and keep walking. By the time you get your second foot down, the surface will be polished stone and you'll be in the moon. Don't stop or else the next person will crash into you. Follow the instructions you hear when you get there."

The glow turned red for a moment as the man stepped on the device, and then returned to green. Corporal Hansen gave the same instructions to the next person, who stepped onto the pad and was gone. Corporal Hansen guided person after person onto the pad.

"What about securing this office?" a man asked.

"We will see that the outer doors of the offices are locked," answered Corporal Chang.

"How are you going to do that?" the man continued.

"We will see that the outer doors of the offices are locked," repeated Corporal Chang with a big grin and a twinkle in her eye. "Don't worry about it. We'll handle it."

Corporal Chang briefly looked up and her expression made it appear she was thinking. She recovered her demeanor, turned toward the fourth man in line for the transporter pad and brought her hand toward his middle. A loud zap was heard and the man collapsed to the floor as though boneless. Chang calmly turned the man over, reached into his right front pocket and removed a pistol.

"This is an incredibly bad idea, people," she said in a loud voice while waving the pistol in the air. "This man will be out for several hours. He will awaken with a headache on steroids, and the rest of us will be long gone. Will the other guy with a gun carefully put your hands on your head and come see me, please?"

Sure enough, a man from deeper in the crowd did as he was told, presenting himself to Corporal Chang with his fingers laced atop his head. She guided him away from the queue and from among those trying to ask questions. "Why shouldn't you get the same treatment as that guy?" she asked him.

People were now forced to step over the unconscious man on their way to the transporter pad. A couple of people quietly giggled at the man's fate. Chang heard whispering that the idiot had got what he deserved.

"How did you know he had a gun?" asked the incredulous man. "How did you know one other person had a gun? How do you know there aren't any more?"

Corporal Chang simply smiled at him. One by one in rapid sequence, the previously unnoticed drones flashed a light. "The Confederacy has lots and lots of nifty gadgets," she chuckled. "You didn't answer my question. Do you want a world class headache?"

"No, no, no!" squawked the alarmed man. "I'm a volunteer! I didn't mean anyone harm. I would have given it to you when I made it up here. I just wanted to help if I was needed."

Chang briefly peered over the man's shoulder, a far-away look in her eyes. "Patrick McNeil, that was a mistake. If you weren't a volunteer, you'd be unconscious now." The man flinched when she spoke his name. "If you fuck up again, being a volunteer won't save you. If you proceed to the moon, and if you so much as look cross-eyed at someone, you will never have another headache again. Do you understand me?" The frightened man nodded vigorously. "Do you want to go?" More nodding. She shoved him toward her partner.

Two men collected the unconscious man and carried him by his hands and feet into the conference room. They left him there and resumed their places in the queue. Corporal Hansen kept the stream of people stepping onto the transporter nexus at a rapid clip. Corporal Chang tried to maintain her composure through an endless series of inane questions.

Finally, all of those who were ready to go had passed through the transporter nexus. The two corporals were left with three women and a man, none of whom appeared to be able to make up their minds. "Pardon my French," growled Corporal Hansen, "but it's time to shit or get off the pot. Those of you who choose not to go will be locked on this floor for about an hour."

When the four still dithered, Chang sighed deeply and turned to the four people. "You four are too stupid to go anyway. We told you that you can change your mind. I answered every one of your idiotic questions. Step on the fucking pad or go in the conference room. NOW!"

Heads down, all four cowards scurried onto the pad and were gone. Chang and Hansen looked at each other and smiled. Seventeen minutes had elapsed. "The AI says there are no people on this floor except the folks in the conference room -- a woman and five guys plus our sleeping beauty," said Hansen. With a wave, Chang stepped onto the pad and disappeared. Ten of the twelve tiny drones followed suit.

Hansen picked up the transporter pad and collapsed it into a small tube. He determined that, in the conference room, there was at least one person from each of the offices on the floor and that they agreed to lock up. With a sigh, he entered the stairwell, established a wall screen to keep the door shut, and began the long trudge down the stairs.

More or less the same thing happened on all of the floors above the main floor. No shots were fired, no serious injuries were sustained and only one or two people per floor were introduced to the stingers. With the guarantee of return passage, the vast majority of people in the building chose to take the plunge.

In the basement garage, one marine had been stationed near the now inactive elevators. The entrance to the garage remained open and a trickle of people parked their cars and approached the elevators. The marine had to repeat his spiel again and again. Two people opted not to go and returned to their cars.

The other marine had stationed himself at the garage exit. He too delivered the same pitch over and over. Those who took him up on the offered extraction backed up and re-parked their cars. Those cars that contained no volunteers and no women were allowed to pass, unaware of the pickup going on throughout the building.

The main floor of the building was where all the fun was happening. Some wise guy had decided that an interdiction field would not be used during the midmorning pickup, and that pedestrians entering the building would be allowed to participate. The marine extraction team had interrupted all of the landline telephones serving the building. However, cellular phones remained operational. Hundreds of people frantically called friends and family, urging them to come to the building post haste. Many in the usual flow of pedestrians approaching the building became distressed as more and more people were seen sprinting for the entrance.

One of the primary objectives of the extraction was speed. Only twenty minutes had been budgeted. A number of small shops occupied the main floor. To ensure success, eight marines had been assigned to the main floor. In addition, one of each pair of marines on the upper floors was to come down the stairs to assist.

The marines entered the shops in twos and threes. As there was no need to hold an orgy to facilitate sponsor/concubine match-ups and, since everyone was welcome to go, the main floor shops were cleared out in record time. None of the upper floor marines even made it to the main floor in time to assist. When the main floor had been cleared out, the marines stanched the flow of pedestrians entering the building by the simple expedient of rubber doorstops on the front revolving doors.

All of the marines coming down from the upper floors and all but one of the main floor marines exited through the last remaining transporter pad. The last marine headed down the stairwell to the garage. Soon, all of the marines were in the moon. The first phase of the extraction had come off without a hitch. Over thirty-two hundred people had been extracted.

1 Section 2 -- Earlier Confederacy planning

The new office-building paradigm had not been universally embraced within the Confederacy ranks. There was outrage at the proposal that no interdiction field be used. The twenty-minute time budget was ridiculed, as was the two minute budget for each secondary extraction. Some objected to the use of an entire company of marines. The idea that all comers would be accepted for transit to the moon caused heated arguments.

The fact that the cube ship transporter Valhalla had a two-week turn-around that would begin the following day helped to focus the minds of the planners. There was no practical alternative extraction method which would begin to meet the required two hundred fifty thousand people being extracted so quickly.

After some rough-and-tumble discussion, a framework had been agreed upon. The lightening fast extraction of the entire building would be conducted without interdiction fields. It was conceded that taking the overlarge number of low CAP males would be allowed for the primary goal of safe and rapid collection of their 'dependents' in secondary collections -- on condition that no unbound male concubine could bring minor dependents to the moon unless accompanied by its mother. As many low-CAP males as possible would promptly be driven back to Earth; the remaining surplus would probably be forced home in a week. It was agreed that no post-menopausal women would be extracted from the office building or in the secondary extractions.

There was sharp disagreement and lively discussion about the fate of the minor dependents of people who decided to be returned to Earth. There was particular concern about older children, who would understand events and would have some conception of the consequences of a return to Earth. In the end, the longstanding rule that minors could be extracted only with a parent or legal guardian was upheld. The return of these children to Earth would be no more tragic than the fate of untold numbers of young adults who were left behind when their parents were extracted. It was decided that parents would be strongly warned not to bring children to the moon until the adults had decided to become concubines. Any parents who brought children to the moon and then decided to go home would be allowed to do so.

1 Section 3 -- On Copernicus Station

Copernicus Station on the moon was chaotic. Sixty transporter pads were arrayed for a single extraction. At first a trickle and then a flood of humanity began appearing on the transporter pads. "Don't stop!" came loudly through the public address, over and over. "Look around you! Pre-packs and families, follow the green line! Women follow the pink line! Men follow the blue line! Keep moving!"

At the end of the blue line, the first forty men were counted off and led a short way by a woman in a dark blue uniform. When they reached a bank of five transporter pads, the uniformed woman stopped the procession. "Do any of you have an acute medical issue?" When none of the men spoke up, she continued. "We need to get this crush of people settled. You are about to be temporarily installed in living units. The AI, the artificial intelligence that controls the living unit, will give you a brief orientation. The AI will help you describe where we can find any of your dependents. The AI will see that you get food and drink if you want it and will answer your questions. We will call for you later to take the next step in the process. Until then, please cooperate by obeying instructions, moving quickly and quietly. The first five of you, count off." Five men stepped forward. The uniformed woman said, "Line up, side by side. The rest of you, line up behind the first five. Each of you in the front row, step on to the transporter pad in front of you. Second row, wait until the disk glows green before stepping onto it. Step away on the other side or the next man will run into you."

Another uniformed woman spoke to those remaining near the original transporter pads. "Listen up! Line up five abreast! Fall in line, any line! Stay there!" When the men had had some success in sorting themselves out, she barked, "The first eight rows, this way!" As she led them toward the bank of transporter pads, her explanation was much the same as that of her cohort. She and her group reached the pads just as the last of the first forty men disappeared. The second group of men, having watched the first group, were already aimed at the five transporter pads.

The first uniformed woman returned, barked at new arrivals to fall in line, and began to urge the entire phalanx of men forward while she loudly repeated her spiel. Five men at a time disappeared into the transporter pads. The few requiring medical treatment were redirected first to the medical bay.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

1 Section 4 -- Women: initial briefing

"Welcome to your temporary quarters in Copernicus Station," intoned a pleasant female voice that seemed to come from everywhere at once. The women looked around unsuccessfully for the source of the voice. "I am the AI, the artificial intelligence responsible for this living unit. Please be seated and the orientation will commence."

The room contained two sofas facing each other and a love seat at one end, together forming a U-shaped seating area. As soon as the last woman sat down, the AI said, "It is assumed that not all of you know each other. Allow me to introduce you. Beginning nearest the door and moving clockwise, first is Kimberly Schmidt, Nina Ruiz, Rachel Milinavic, Sandy Young, Barbara Verduin, Gretchen Zalezny, Janice Oster, and Hattie King."

"How did you know that?" squawked Barbara.

"For safety and security, the AI can see, hear and otherwise sense everywhere in Copernicus Station, as the AI can on all Confederacy ships and colonies. On one hand, you have absolutely no privacy. You will be under observation at all times. Sponsors, volunteers and certain others may view activities live or at a later time. There is a record of every event. On the other hand, you are only moments away from emergency aid, should it be required. You, Barbara Verduin, are wearing a pale yellow blouse and brown pants. Your CAP card is in your right pants pocket. May we proceed?"

Although there was some murmuring and a few gasps, Barbara said, "Yes, please continue."

"It is preferred that you remain where you are during this session. Let me take a moment to explain that this living unit contains sleeping rooms, which would be configured for your needs, a full bathroom, and the kitchen and dining area that you see beyond you. None of you will be in this unit for very long. Your living unit will be identical to this one. If you must move about, you will be able to hear, but not see, this session. If you need food or drink, simply ask.

"Copernicus Station keeps time based upon Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT. You have been extracted from the Eastern Daylight Time zone. The time on Copernicus Station is now fourteen forty-three. It is ten forty-three a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Until the dependent extractions are completed, it is important that you keep time on Eastern Daylight Time.

"Except for acute medical issues, which you told Sub-Decurion Baker that none of you have, the first priority is the extraction of any dependents you may have. The Confederacy cannot safely call on most public places to conduct dependent extractions. There is an unacceptable level of danger, not only for Confederacy personnel but also for extractees and bystanders.

"If you think that you may want to be returned to Earth, tell us and we will arrange for your minor dependents to be cared for on Earth until you make your decision. Please do not involve the minor children if you are uncertain right from the beginning. The minor children can wait up to twenty-four hours for you to make up your mind. Your children who are over age thirteen are considered to be adults. Any whom you bring to the moon will make their own decisions whether to proceed or to be returned to Earth.

"Non-fertile women in the office building were not allowed to come to the moon. Of the men extracted from the office building, those men whose CAP score is below 6.5 will not be allowed to bring minor dependents unless accompanied by their mother. You may not bring as your dependents the minor children of any man whose CAP score is below 6.5 unless the minor children are also accompanied by their mother. You may not bring as one of your dependents any woman who is not fertile.

"Please begin thinking of whom you wish extracted and the earliest place and time that the extraction can safely be conducted. Very shortly, you will be allowed one or two calls to facilitate this effort. Minor children are especially wanted on the colonies. Your dependents must be collected from only one location. Every adult must be in possession of a CAP card. It is recognized that most pickups will occur this evening. Please try to arrange pickup of your dependents as early as possible. Well before five o'clock would be preferred, but we will go later as needed. You will be escorted to the extraction site with two marines. You will be back with any extracted dependents within two minutes. If there is any disturbance, the extraction will be aborted.

"As you were told during your own extraction, wide latitude will be allowed in dependent extractions. The dependents can be adult or minor, related or not. This is both a boon and a handicap. Once in Copernicus Station, all adults have a choice whether to 'audition', if you will, for transport to a colony. All of you except Gretchen Zalezny will be concubines, should you choose to proceed. You should plan on four or five of you having a sponsor who is male, one or two of you having a female sponsor, and one of you having no sponsor at all until arrival at the colony.

"If your husband or boyfriend does not possess a CAP score at volunteer level, it is very probable that he will be returned to Earth. The same is true of your adult male children. If any of them is a volunteer, there is no assurance he will choose you as a concubine.

"All fertile adult females will be accepted. If you agree to become concubines, your extracted minor children will be with you. Minors will be extracted only if the parent or guardian is simultaneously extracted. Your adult children may or may not be placed in the same family group as you.

"You have nearly twenty four hours remaining before you must irrevocably decide whether you wish to continue in this process. Having loved ones nearby may aid you in your decision. Your many questions will be answered after we have organized the extraction of your dependents. A sound shield will be established around you in order that you each be able to communicate at the same time."

The air briefly shimmered around each of the eight women. "Rachel Milinavic, whom do you wish extracted, and where are they located?"

"I don't have any children, yet," said Rachel as she looked around at her peers. Almost all of them appeared to be talking, but Rachel could hear nothing. "My boyfriend isn't a volunteer. My sister has two small children. Her husband is a volunteer. I want them extracted. They always have dinner at six o'clock." She recited her sister's address and, when asked, her cell-phone number. Within moments, Rachel heard the sound of a phone ringing.

"Hello?" Rachel heard.

"Heidi, it's Rache! I've been extracted! I'm on the moon!" Heidi squealed excitement. "You and David and the kids can go too! Will you do it?"

Heidi was now screaming. "Get her settled down, please," intoned the AI.

"Heidi! Heidi! Get a grip!" Rachel said sharply. She heard her sister take a deep breath and let it out slowly but loudly. "The marines want to pick you up as early as possible. When is the soonest you can be ready?"

Heidi answered, "David is coming home today from a business trip. He won't be home until five o'clock at the earliest. We can be ready when he gets home. I'll call him to make sure he hurries."

"Then let's have the marines be at your house at six o'clock. Whoever is in your house then can go, unless it is a child without a parent."

"Rachel," said the AI, "if there is a hint of trouble, the marines will abort the extraction."

"Heidi, did you hear that?" asked Rachel.

"I didn't hear a thing," answered Heidi.

Rachel wondered how her sister could not hear such a strong voice. "Listen to me. Make sure all the people in your house are ones you trust with your life, Heidi. If there's any trouble, your extraction will be aborted. Also, there's no use bringing any adult males unless they're volunteers."

"Why is that?"

"They extracted all of the people in the entire building I work in -- everyone who was willing to go. They told us that almost all the males with CAP scores under 6.5 will be sent back to Earth."

"Oh," sighed Heidi. "That sucks, doesn't it?"

"It's their rules. Anyway, don't have a brain cramp, Heidi. Everyone needs to have their CAP card, or they can't go. Don't tell anyone why, but get people you trust to your home before six o'clock. I'll see you tonight!"

Heidi squealed again. The AI broke the connection. "The sound barrier will be lifted as each of you finishes her arrangements," said the AI. The air around Rachel shimmered again.

"Who can hear me?" asked Rachel.

"I can," answered the slender, coal-black girl.

"I'm Rachel. I forgot your name."

"Hattie King," she said brightly. "Who'd you get for dependents?"

"My sister, her volunteer husband, two kids, and maybe some of my sister's friends," said a grinning Rachel. "I hope she doesn't mess it up. I don't want them to abort the extraction. I really want my sister to be with me. Who'd you get?"

"My twin sister, Mattie, my other sister, Jayden, my mother and my brother Tyrone, even though his CAP score isn't high enough. Maybe he'll get lucky. No matter what, he deserves the chance, and the experience. He's a good boy ... well, man, now. He's fifteen. Momma's going to try to round up a few more. I told her she had to trust anyone she asked."

"Hattie and Mattie? Your mother must be cool! My sister and her tribe are getting picked up at six o'clock. They couldn't be ready any sooner. I can hardly wait!"

"The King pickup is at three o'clock," said Hattie. "I hope my momma can get everyone home in time."

And so it went with all of the well-over-three thousand picked up in the office building. It meant that dependents had to be collected in more than three thousand locations, most during the two hours between five and seven o'clock. Only two minutes were budgeted for each pickup.

An entire company of marines had been involved in the office building extraction. Knowing that the majority of the dependent pickups would have to occur in the evening, most of the marines were lounging until the crush of dependent extractions later in the day.

1 Section 5 -- Men: initial briefing

"You have now made dependent extraction arrangements," intoned the AI. "Edward Koval, do you volunteer for service to the Confederacy?"

"Yes," Ed said firmly.

"Edward Koval, you expressed a preference for the Navy. Do you wish to volunteer now for the Navy?"

"Yes," Ed said just as firmly.

"Recorded. Brian Lanz, do you volunteer for service to the Confederacy?"


"Brian Lanz, you expressed a preference for the marines. Do you wish to volunteer now for the marines?"


"Recorded. Roger Wilson, do you volunteer for service to the Confederacy?"


"Roger Wilson, you expressed a preference for the Fleet Auxiliary. Do you wish to volunteer now for the Fleet Auxiliary?"


"Recorded. Max Johnson, do you volunteer for service to the Confederacy?"


"Max Johnson, you expressed a preference for the Fleet Auxiliary. Do you wish to volunteer now for the Fleet Auxiliary?"

"May I choose the Navy instead?" asked Max.

"You may."

"Then I volunteer for the Navy," said Max with a grin.

"Recorded. Lawrence Wiskowski, do you volunteer for service to the Confederacy?"


"Lawrence Wiskowski, you expressed a preference for the Navy. Do you wish to volunteer now for the Navy?"


"Recorded. William Stremich, Donald Podesta and John Quinn, your CAP scores do not entitle you to volunteer for service to the Confederacy. Your circumstances will be described shortly.

"For all of you, this would be a convenient time to explore this unit, to obtain food or drink, or to use the restroom. Introduce yourselves if you wish. You will not be together in this unit for very long. Most of you will be separated and moved elsewhere with your dependents. It is possible, but not likely, that you will see each other in the common areas of Copernicus Station."

The eight men rose from their seats and began wandering about the unit. Brian made a beeline for the kitchen. "AI, I'm a bit peckish. What do you have in the way of a snack?"

"As a practical matter, the menu is limited only by your imagination," answered the AI. "No alcohol will be served at this time. More orientation remains to be conducted and time is short. It is recommended that you select accordingly."

"Okay," chuckled Brian, "how about a burger, fries and a coke?"

"Would you like to be more specific, or will you leave the details to the AI?" replied the AI.

"I would like a one-third pound burger, cooked medium rare, with sharp cheddar cheese, grilled onions, mustard, lettuce and tomato on a sesame seed bun with a large order of McDonald's french fries and a sixteen ounce Coke," grinned Brian.

"Your order will be complete in two minutes."

Brian used the time to briefly investigate the rest of the unit. The kitchen was simply a counter with a sink, two microwave-like devices and a strange looking trash receptacle. A table and eight chairs dominated the room. Through an archway, a hall led him to a large, nicely appointed bathroom with two sinks on a long counter, two separate toilets and a large shower with multiple shower heads. Brian also found a room that might be a bedroom. It contained amorphous lumps vaguely shaped like beds.

When Brian returned to the kitchen, the AI said, "Your meal is ready. It is located in the replicator on the right."

Brian opened the door and found a plate containing a good-looking burger and a pile of fries, all steaming hot. Beside it was a clear tumbler filled with cola and ice. A large napkin and an unwrapped straw were also present. Brian peered into the replicator cavity but found only smooth walls. He wondered how the machine had produced hot food and an iced drink at the same time.

The AI's voice could be heard throughout the unit. "It is suggested that each of you have a meal at this time. Much remains to be discussed. When dependents begin to arrive, the facility will be more chaotic."

The other seven men made their way into the kitchen. It did not occur to any of them that their order could have been placed from anywhere in the unit. The men ordered an assortment of burgers and deli sandwiches. After the first such order, the rest were stated with precision.

The men sat at the table while they ate. They worked in the same building but, since they had all emerged from the transporter pads at virtually the same moment, they all worked on different floors. None knew any of the others. They speculated briefly about their immediate future, and then fell back on sharing a bit about themselves.

"Would you please return to your original seats," said the AI. The men reseated themselves on the sofas.

"When it is time to collect your chosen dependents, you will be transported from here to the main transporter room. There, you and two marines will be transported to as near the dependent pickup point as possible. You will rapidly proceed to the pickup point. Your dependents are expecting you. There should be no need for discussion. The marines will guide the dependents onto the transporter pad, followed by you and one of the marines. The last marine will bring the transporter pad back to the place you were transported to, which will enable recovery of the pad by a drone, and then step through himself.

"When you and your dependents arrive on Copernicus Station, you will find yourselves to be in the medical bay. There, each of you will spend a brief time in a med tube. Acute medical issues, such as diabetes and undiagnosed cancer, will be found and cured. Minor issues, such as poor eyesight, and body augmentation will be deferred to another time.

"When you and your party are rejoined after the med tubes, you will be transported to a living unit such as this one. After you and your dependents have settled in, further instructions will be delivered.

"Max Johnson, you will be first. You will move to the transporter room in twenty-nine minutes. Until that time, all of you will receive additional briefings. We will begin with questions you may have."

William said, "Will you tell us what is in store for those of us who don't have the CAP score to volunteer?"

"Certainly," responded the AI. "Five of you have sufficiently high CAP scores to volunteer. Three of you do not. The information to be imparted will be useful for all of you.

"In order to go to the colonies, William Stremich, you must be accepted -- sponsored -- by a volunteer. In the Confederacy, concubines are property, with all that that concept implies. A concubine owes its complete obedience to the sponsor. The sponsor is totally responsible for all actions of the concubine.

"Concubines have only the rights granted by the sponsor. Any rights granted can be withdrawn at any time. A sponsor has no duty to protect, care for, feed, or shelter a concubine. On many colonies, there is no effective constraint upon a sponsor's right to do anything, including kill, a concubine. Some colonies restrict the ability of a sponsor to replace a killed concubine.

"Once a concubine has agreed to accept a sponsor, the decision is irrevocable. A sponsor may trade a concubine. A sponsor may reject any concubine at any time, for any reason or for no reason at all. A rejected female concubine is usually held by the Civil Service until she can be placed with a new sponsor. On some colonies, surplus concubines are placed in the brothel. On many colonies, rejected male concubines are allowed forty-eight hours in which to be placed with a new sponsor. After the forty-eight hours have expired, the rejected male concubine is recycled."

All of the men blanched. "Does 'recycled' mean 'killed'?" asked Don.

"Yes," replied the AI. "There are offenses for which recycling is mandated, no matter the wishes of the sponsor. These include a concubine attacking a sponsor and other grievous offenses.

"Those are the facts. However, it is well known throughout the colonies that a happy, harmonious household is greatly beneficial to all concerned. The great majority of sponsors promote harmony in their households, once the sponsor has subjugated all of the concubines. Occasionally, the sponsor does not establish superiority. Sooner or later, the dominant concubine goes too far, and is recycled.

"Let us consider the position of male prospective concubines. The vast majority of sponsors are male. The primary purpose of concubines is procreation. The secondary purpose is for the benefit and pleasure of the sponsor. A plurality of sponsors have CAP scores between 6.5 and 6.9 and are granted two concubines. Male sponsors in this category uniformly select female concubines. A lesser number of sponsors have higher CAP scores and are accorded additional concubines. Most male sponsors allowed four concubines select only female concubines. The very few sponsors accorded six or eight concubines often select at least one male concubine.

"Female sponsors are far less common, but tend to have relatively higher CAP scores. Living units should soon fill with babies. Female sponsors tend to select only one male concubine. Often, the second-in-command of a sponsor's family is a female of the type you call a 'den mother.' The male concubine has a lower status.

"Sex is far more casual, far more open than on Earth. It is well known that human females are attracted to powerful males for procreation, but these men are often not good long-term mates. Females seek as long-term mates those who will be loyal and supportive, who will contribute to the harmony of the family unit. So it is with female sponsors. Many find an attractive male sponsor for recreational sex and procreation. Male concubines are selected for their ability to support everyone else in the family group, adult and child.

"Each of you knows his overall average CAP score. The overall score is a composite of sub-scores of a large number of individual characteristics. Among those are sexuality, obedience, loyalty and nurturing. None of you know any of your CAP sub-scores. In the past, sponsors had little time and less inclination to delve deeply into the sub-scores of potential concubines. There is far less time pressure on sponsors who will select concubines in Copernicus Station, and more incentive to choose carefully.

"Those male prospective concubines who do not possess suitable sub-scores will not be selected, and will be returned to Earth. Because the supply vastly exceeds demand, many males who would be excellent concubines will not be selected. Males are prone to self-deception. Many persuade themselves that they would make good pets," -- the men blanched at the word 'pets' -- "but will never be successful in that role. Male prospective concubines have twenty-four hours to decide for themselves whether to seek sponsorship. During that time, they will be subjected to exercises designed to unmask any self-deception. It will not be pleasant. Those who succeed will have demonstrated, especially to themselves, that they will make successful concubines. Nevertheless, the vast majority of male prospective concubines will not attract a sponsor and will be returned to Earth. Consider carefully whether you will subject yourself to this ordeal when the probabilities are steeply against you."

1 Section 6 -- Operational review

Miles Chandler, the Director of Evacuation and Colonial Operations, seated himself in the visitor's chair in front of the desk of Lieutenant Steve Martini. "Phase One of your pickup went very smoothly. I didn't think you could pull it off so quickly, and without an interdiction field. Congratulations. You now have more than one percent of the number required for the Valhalla's cargo. I wonder whether you'll have five percent of the required number of sponsors at the end of the day."

"Thank you, Sir," responded Lieutenant Martini. "I truly believe we will have more than five percent of the sponsors after the dependent pickup. As with many novel ideas, it remains to be seen whether we can pull the same stunt more than once."

"I would expect," said Chandler, "that your counterpart Mark Robinson will have similar success. His extraction from Dallas should be starting momentarily."

Martini grinned. "The news of our extraction is only now being picked up by the national media. Mark's pickup should be fine. I think it will take days before Earth First begins formulating countermeasures. Tomorrow's pickups, beginning in Manchester and Glasgow, are the exact same plan. We will also do pickups tomorrow in Edmonton and Phoenix. We plan to do four of these pickups every day for the next four days. That'll bring us pretty close to the number needed to fill the Valhalla. We'll give the marines a couple of days rest and then begin to assemble the passengers for the next cube ship."

"I remain convinced that the initial pickup was the easy part," said Chandler. "Successfully pulling off more than three thousand dependent pickups comes next. That seems a daunting number for such a short time."

"I thought so at first," answered Martini. "But then I began to break down the numbers. We picked up about thirty-three hundred people. We have two hundred marines for the task. We're sending two marines to every dependent extraction. That's thirty-three extractions per team. The extractees are expecting them. No explanations are necessary. That means, go in, find the dependents, guide them onto the transporter pads, and get out. Drones will set and recover the transporter pads, as well as providing surveillance."

"That certainly sounds like a good plan. I hope it stands up to actual execution without chaos. Don't forget that we're using some of these people to top off the Aurora and Kilo transports."

1 Section 7 -- Sarah's family pickup

"Hi, I'm Sarah," said the woman as she stepped off the transporter nexus. "Are you the ones... ?"

"Corporal Susan Chang and Private David Atkins at your service," said Chang. "Are you ready?" Sarah nodded uncertainly. Chang took on the far-away look as though listening to a voice Sarah could not hear. Chang's attention came back to Sarah and Atkins. "The AI says the area is clear," Chang told her. Atkins stepped onto the transporter pad and disappeared. Chang guided Sarah onto the pad and then followed.

Sarah stumbled when Chang collided with her, but recovered her footing without falling. "Sorry," she mumbled.

Atkins had already moved to the side and, when Chang was clear of the transporter nexus and the glow ceased, he picked up and collapsed the disk. He hurried to catch up with Sarah and Chang, who had walked around the back of the garage and were approaching the back door of the house.

"Mom?" Sarah called.

"In here, Sarah," a voice answered. The three moved quickly through the kitchen and into the living room. A girl of about four years shrieked her joy and flung herself at Sarah, wrapping herself in a fierce embrace. A boy of perhaps seven years sat on the sofa, looking puzzled. A woman who apparently was Sarah's mother sat with a boy on her lap. A woman younger than Sarah stood holding a toddler-aged girl.

Without a word, Atkins unfolded the disk and placed it in the middle of the room. "Sarah, take the little girl," said Chang. When she had done so, Chang guided the sister toward the disk. "Step onto the pad and keep walking. By the time your second foot is down, it will be on polished stone and you will be in the moon. Don't stop walking. Move away from the transporter pad or the next person will collide with you." The unnamed sister did as instructed, and vanished. Chang took the toddler from Sarah's arms and set her on the floor. "Go with your mommy, Sweetheart." The child did so without hesitation.

"Granma, you go next," said Chang.

"No, I can't go," said the older woman. She looked pleadingly at Sarah.

"Stop it, Mom," Sarah said sharply. "You have your CAP card in your hand. You can come back tomorrow if you want. Go see what's offered. Sandy and I need you. The kids need you."

Reluctantly, and with head bowed, the woman stepped onto the disk and was gone.

The little boy went next, followed by the older boy, by Sarah's daughter and then Sarah. Chang spoke briefly to Atkins and then stepped onto the pad. Atkins returned to the original location behind the garage and stepped onto the nexus. It had taken less than two minutes. The drone recovered the transporter pad and raced off to the next location.

A med tech met the older woman as she stepped off the transporter pad in the med bay. Corporal Chang stepping off the pad signaled that the party was complete. After a brief silent consultation with the AI, she stepped back onto the transporter pad and was gone.

"Step right up," the cheerful med tech said. "We're going to do a brief check of your health. None of the famous body alterations today. This'll take about fifteen minutes each." With that, he guided each of them into a med tube, closed the hatch and moved on to the next arrival.

Sarah was instantly asleep and, when the hatch was opened and she was assisted to her feet, she felt that no time at all had passed. Soon, she was joined by the other members of her party. They again stepped onto a transporter pad to find themselves in their temporary living quarters.

"Welcome," intoned a pleasant female voice. "Please be seated and your orientation will begin."

"That was disorienting," said Sandy. "Are we really on the moon?"

"In the moon might be a more apt description, Sandra Broderick," said the voice. "You are far below the surface of the moon, within Copernicus Station."

"Sandy, if you please. Where are you? Who are you?"

"I am the artificial intelligence, the AI, responsible for this living unit. Sarah Lang has already had much of this orientation. Before the orientation is commenced, provision should be made for entertainment for the children. It is important that you focus your attention on the details of the orientation. The children are in a range of ages. Perhaps a movie would entertain them all at the same time?"

"Yeah!" said all four children at once. When it was discovered that the movie play list was all but unlimited, negotiations began in earnest. When the selection was settled, a door popped slightly open. Sarah opened the door further and discovered a room with two beanbag chairs and a number of cushions on the floor. A white rectangle on the wall signified the place where the movie would be shown. The children were led into the room.

"Would the children like any food or beverage?" asked the AI.

Sarah turned to her mother. "Have they had lunch?" The mom shook her head.

"You are reminded," said the AI, "that the time on Copernicus Station is four hours later than Eastern Daylight Time. It is now sixteen eleven. Later, you will be encouraged, but not required, to leave this living unit and mingle with others. Food and drink are available within this unit or in dining areas elsewhere in Copernicus Station. You will be encouraged to end your day at a reasonable hour."

They settled on snacks that would hold the children for perhaps three hours. The juice was served in plastic glasses for the older two and in spill-proof containers for the younger two. Sarah stayed with the children and instructed her mother and sister on where to find the food and beverages.

The title screen of the movie was being displayed on the wall when Sandy and her mother returned with the goodies. The children were settled in with their snacks and beverages. The movie began. The adults adjourned to the living room and reseated themselves.

"You are part of the assemblage of two hundred and fifty thousand passengers for the cube transport Valhalla," the AI began. "This will be the first fully loaded use of a cube ship. The maiden voyage of the Valhalla is now carrying only about twenty thousand passengers to the colony Nuevo Angelino. The Valhalla will arrive back in Earth orbit in two weeks. Today is Day 1. On Day 14, the passengers will board the cube transport Valhalla. On Day 21, the passengers will debark on the colony Frik. Some volunteers will immediately be transferred to other colonies.

"The cube transport contains thirty two thousand living units and accordingly will carry that number of sponsors. Based upon historical averages, the passengers will include approximately one hundred twenty thousand concubines and one hundred ten thousand minor dependents. You three will be concubines, should you choose to continue in this process. You, Sandy, and you, Elizabeth Roundtree, have the time remaining to Sarah Lang, that is, until fourteen forty-five GMT tomorrow, to decide whether to become concubines or to be returned to Earth.

"Sandy and Sarah Lang, you were advised not to bring your minor children to the moon unless you were sure you wanted to become concubines. You have time remaining to change your minds. If you wish, we will return you and your children to Earth. The extraction of children is very important to the Confederacy. However, your children cannot be extracted without you. After the Sa'arm invasion, survival prospects are grim. The Confederacy wants you to remain in the moon to become concubines, saving the lives of your children.

"All of you will be accepted as concubines should you choose. It is intended that your children will help to ensure the survival of humanity as a species. It is entirely likely that your as-yet-unborn children will reach adulthood as sponsors while the Swarm conflict remains unresolved.

"You are aware of your overall average CAP scores. The overall average CAP score is a composite of a large number of sub-scores. Among these are sexuality, nurturing, loyalty, obedience, intelligence and initiative. In the extraction model you are familiar with, scant attention was paid to sub-scores, and concubines seldom examined the CAP card of a prospective sponsor.

"You have the right to decline the offer of sponsorship by any volunteer. You have the right to inquire as to the character of any prospective sponsor by closely examining the sub-scores revealed on his CAP card. The prospective sponsor has the right to refuse to reveal his CAP sub-scores, but you should let that refusal be your guide as to his nature. Once you agree to be sponsored by a volunteer, your agreement is irrevocable.

"The Confederacy regards concubines as property, with all that that implies. The sponsor has absolute power over his concubines. That said, substantially all sponsors recognize that a happy, harmonious household is greatly to be desired. 'Substantially all' is not the same as 'all' but you will be able to determine from the CAP sub-scores what type of person is your prospective sponsor."

"But I'm too old to start having babies again," wailed Beth.

"You would be age regressed to perhaps age twenty-two, Elizabeth Roundtree," answered the AI. "Would you like to see what your appearance might be?"

"Would you mind calling me Beth?" she asked.

"Acknowledged," said the AI as a full size hologram of Beth appeared before the women. "The modifications to your body are as selected by the sponsor. Most sponsors choose modifications which appeal to the sponsor. Many sponsors consider that a concubine who appreciates her own form will be happier and will make him happier. The exercise we are about to conduct is illustrative of the capacity of Confederacy technology. Actual changes are not cosmetic, but real. If you, Beth, are regressed to age twenty-two, all body systems will be in the condition of a twenty-two-year-old woman. Any changes actually ordered by the sponsor are permanent but not inheritable. You would be restored to that condition immediately following of the birth of each of your children."

As the women watched, the hologram Beth rapidly changed. Her hair became more lustrous. Years fell away from her facial features and the hands. "Beth, you are five feet five inches tall and weigh one hundred forty one pounds. Would you change either or both of those?"

"Would you reduce the weight by twenty pounds?" she asked. As they watched, the weight fell away, mainly from the hips, waist and thighs of the hologram. Oohs and aahs came from the women. "I haven't looked like that since..."

"Since you were twenty-two, huh?" supplied Sarah. "Dang, Mom, you look great."

Holograms of Sarah and Sandy appeared beside the Beth hologram. "Sarah Lang, you are twenty-six years old. How would you change your body?" asked the AI.

"First, just Sarah, please. If Mom is twenty-two, could I be twenty?" asked Sarah. The hologram rapidly changed to reflect the reduced age. "Would you please reduce my weight by ten pounds?" The weight came off in all the right places. "Would you make my hair six inches longer, please?" The hologram's hair grew. "Could I have bigger boobs?" The bust size grew significantly. "Not that large, please." The bust size began to shrink. "Stop," she giggled.

"Sandy, what changes would you choose?" asked the AI.

"I'm younger than Sarah," said Sandy. "Make me eighteen, please." The years fell from the image of Sandy. "How about ten pounds off," she added. The pounds came off. "How about five more pounds off?" The image changed instantly. "That would be great!" she chirped.

"Should any of you choose to be a concubine, you will be nude from no later than tomorrow at fourteen forty-five until you accept a sponsor, and probably far longer than that." The clothes on the holograms disappeared and the images of Beth, Sarah and Sandy stood nude. All three women gasped. "Are there any other changes to your form that you would like to see?" All three women wanted their tummies firmed. Sarah liked Sandy's shaved crotch and asked for the same. Beth wanted her bush trimmed. The three women looked from the hologram images to each other and laughed in delight.

"This has been an exercise in what is available. No actual outward changes to your bodies will be performed until ordered by a sponsor. In addition to the physical modifications the sponsor may order, your libido has already been enhanced and your inhibitions relaxed. By tomorrow afternoon, you will be returned to Earth -- with the libido and inhibition changes reversed -- or you will shed your clothes. All of the other prospective concubines will likewise be nude. You will spend much of your days in public areas, seeking a sponsor. If you do not find a sponsor by the time of departure, you will be transported to the colony, where you will find a sponsor from among the colonists.

"It is possible, but improbable, that you will all three be in the same family group," the AI continued. "You should take a break from orientation. Snacks or beverages are available for the asking."

Chapter 2 ยป