Chapter 1

'So this is it, ' Kyle thought sadly.

The air was hard to breathe and stunk of burning plastic and superheated metal. Screams from the wounded filled his ears and an ominous hiss of escaping atmosphere made it very clear what his fate was most likely going to be. It had apparently been their epic bad luck to jump out of hyperspace almost next to a Sa'arm scout sphere. The unarmed and unarmored Aurora had been no match for the heavily armed ships journeying with the Sa'arm sphere. Only launching hastily evacuated pods at the enemy to give some cover had enabled them to last as long as they had. They were too far in-system to jump to hyperspace but too far from the colony for the single military vessel stationed there to get to them in time. That is assuming they even tried. The human warship would be heavily over-matched by the Sa'arm sphere's firepower.

He tried to move away from the fire burning near his head, but the agony was too much. Something had impaled him and he was pinned to the floor like a bug. He could see his concubines' unconscious bodies scattered around the shattered remnants of the pod. The amount of blood around them frightened him and he prayed they were all still alive, although he was fairly sure being dead right now was a better fate then falling into the hands of the Sa'arm. Looking the other way, he saw Jen laying on the floor near him. Reaching out slowly, he took her hand and started whispering reassurances to her, and telling her how much he loved her.

After the crewman had parked some of the displaced sponsors and their concubines in his pod to keep them out of the way, they had been as quiet and unobtrusive as possible. Now mostly they were either adding to the din with their screams of fear and pain or were overwhelmed and collapsed. A few, however, were up and about, trying to treat the injured and control the fires.

Smoke and sizzling showers of sparks obscured his dimming vision and he felt so cold, even the agony of his wounds and his failure as a sponsor to keep his concubines safe ebbed in the face of such overwhelming cold. He hoped the rest of the militia fared better and wished he could say goodbye. The AI had stopped responding after the first few hits, so he could not even relay his goodbye messages to them.

As the light in his eyes dimmed, his mind wandered back to the worst day of his life, which had become the best day imaginable. Images of the wonderful women in his prepack who had finally been given the opportunity to officially agree to come with him to the stars, as well as the last addition to his harem, flashed through the darkness encroaching on him.

The thick fog made driving extremely difficult. Trees loomed out of the mist and vanished just as quickly. Oncoming cars were little more than brief, blinding annoyances as their headlights lit up the mist, making it even more opaque. Both the stress of the fucking horrible day combined with the squinting to see through the fog was giving Kyle an epic headache. Beside him, Jared sat slumped in his seat, depression weighing as heavily on him as it was on Kyle. His face was dimly lit by the ghastly green glow from the instrument panel, making him look sickly.

After a long drive made longer by the damn fog, the bar finally loomed out of the shadowy mist, being obscured until the last moment. With a curse and screeching tires, Kyle braked hard and swerved into the parking lot, just missing the "plow-proof" steel post the mailbox was mounted on. That would have been a perfect cap to an awesomely bad day. Jared was so sunk into himself that he did not even notice the close call. Only the door opening and the interior light coming on broke him out of his introspection. Both men climbed out of the car and stumbled into the bar. Their usual self-confident stride was gone, destroyed by the shock of the day.

Kyle and Jared sat slumped in their usual booth. Soon after they sat down, a zombie shambled towards them! For a heart-stopping moment both men froze in shock, hearts hammering wildly. It took them a few seconds before they realized it was actually just their usual waitress. She looked like hell!

"God, Jen, what happened?" Kyle asked. "No offense, but well... ," he trailed off, not knowing a tactful way of asking a beautiful girl why she looked like shit.

Her blonde hair was straggling all over the place and she was not wearing any make-up, which made her unusually pale face look even more sallow. Looking at her blue eyes, he saw they were completely bloodshot. The skin around them looked bruised from lack of sleep as well as being puffy and red from crying. She had even lost her usual bounce and flounce that got her best parts moving in ways that definitely increased her tips while making other women jealous.

"Sorry," she replied, "I'm not doing too well today. You remember Rache, the waitress?" Seeing their nods, she continued, "She was killed here last night."

"Oh shit," Jared said, "I'm so sorry." Kyle added his condolences as well.

"Could you just hook us up with a couple of beers then and with a pitcher as well? I can guarantee we are not going to be able to improve your mood after the day we had. They say misery loves company, but I think people who are miserable should just leave each other alone since they are having a bad enough day already."

That was probably when their rumpled clothes and dour expressions really registered with her. "You too, huh?" she asked dully. "Seems like it's an epidemic today." Turning away, she shuffled off to get their beers.

Giving Jared a disgusted look, Kyle said, "You realize you basically just told a beautiful girl who is having a shitty day to fuck off and leave you alone, right?"

His only response was a disinterested grunt. Apparently, the Fitzsimmons deal falling through had hit him far too hard for him to care what others thought. Not that Kyle could really blame him, feeling pretty much the same way himself. Losing a $10 million deal hurt a lot. It was especially galling considering the amount of wasted work and unpaid overtime they had put into it. They were both also still smarting from the reaming that their asshole boss, Fred, had given them. Like it was their fault he had borrowed money against the bonus he would have gotten from their work. After that, there really was not much to say to one another, so they had skipped out early and taken the afternoon off to drown their failure.

When their favorite craft beer finally arrived, they just grabbed their glasses and drank. The bitter taste of failure made the craft beer taste even better than usual, or maybe they just needed it far more than usual. Starting to rally slightly as the alcohol hit their system, they began to notice the bar around them. The employees were obviously still stunned and grieving for the waitress that had been killed in the bar fight the night before. They overheard conversations and comments from the staff and regulars, and were able to piece together what had happened. The worst part was that she had not even been directly involved. Some new guy got in the face of a regular who was a friend of Rache's and punched him out. As she moved to catch her friend as he fell, he knocked her over. The back of Rache's head had connected wrong with the corner of a table and she died instantly.

Needless to say, it would be weeks before the stranger got out of the hospital to face involuntary manslaughter charges. Being just outside city limits, the bar was under the jurisdiction of the county sheriff and he had a bit more leeway to ignore the "accidental" and "unavoidable" damage the guy had suffered when the regulars took him down. While they had vented their anger the night before, it would take a long time before the shocked sorrow faded. It would also be a long time before a stranger was welcomed into the bar.

The sadness of the staff was incredibly contagious. Their mood, combined with the number of sour faces among the patrons, made the atmosphere in the bar pretty dark. There was none of the usual laughter, flirtation and shenanigans going on, instead everyone was getting straight to the business of drinking. Into this bleak, depressed atmosphere walked eight very large, grim-looking men. Kyle noticed them first and, with a curse, grabbed his phone.

Hitting speed dial, he only had to say, "Code Red, Fieldstone Bar." He then hung up and quickly called two more numbers and said the same thing.

"What was that all about?" Jared asked, not having noticed the large men.

Jerking his chin at the group, Kyle said, "Looks like a pickup."

"What? Shit!" Jared swore and grabbed his phone. He also called two numbers, each time he simply said, "It's happening at the Fieldstone bar."

"Ok, it's done," he said to Kyle, "Now all we can do is wait and hope they get here in time."

The excitement of the moment drove away their depression. However, as the time passed, doubts started to enter their minds. All the big men were doing was sitting there drinking. They were not paying attention to anybody, nor did they seem to be waiting for anyone else. Kyle and Jared looked at each other and shrugged, not having any idea what the men were waiting for, but glad of every minute that elapsed without an interdiction field going up.

In less than ten minutes, Sven raced in. He had been the second person Kyle had called. Four women came in with him, but sat across the room from them. One woman was keeping her hand in her purse which she had resting on her lap. Without acknowledging anyone, Sven came over and dropped a small backpack on their table.

"Loaded?" was all Jared asked.

Sven merely nodded and continued walking.

"So far so good," Kyle said, surreptitiously handing one of the pistols in the bag to Jared.

"Yeah," he replied, "It looks like all the work we went through to set up the network is going to pay off."

Over the next few minutes, almost two dozen people came into the bar. Kyle and Jared knew that each person was carrying a gun. The militia members nodded to them as they came in, but did not sit with them. Many of the militia members sat near the big men, the rest scattered themselves through the bar, making sure every section was covered. The moment the interdiction field went up, they would be ready to act.

"Ok, looks like everyone is here," Jared whispered, "Now all we can do is wait for them to make their move."

Suddenly, from the booth behind them came a loud, "Holy shit," followed by a loud female squeal of pleasure. Two teen girls zipped past Jared and Kyle and went straight over to the table the large men were sitting at.

"What the hell?" Kyle asked.

Another teen, a boy this time, leaned around the corner of the booth. "Sorry," he said, "the girls recognized them from the wrestling event we went to yesterday and wanted their autographs."

"Wait, they're wrestlers?" Jared asked in growing dismay.

"Yup, they're professional wrestlers." The boy proceeded to rattle off the men's names but they just bounced off Kyle and Jared. The next thing they registered the boy saying was, "I'm not sure why they are still around. I figured they would have moved on after the event last night."

Turning his attention back to the girls, he sighed jealously as they exchanged kisses for autographs with the wrestlers. It looked like the wrestlers were having a better night suddenly. There was a sudden disturbance at the wrestlers' table. Looking to see the source, Kyle saw a huge man who actually had to duck as he came in the door. Several of the wrestlers made a hasty departure as he came in. Kyle noted that as they passed the huge man, none of the wrestlers came higher than the newcomer's chin.

"Holy shit," the teen whispered again, "That's the new wrestler, Titan. He's 7'4" tall and weighs like 380 pounds."

"Yeah," the other teen added, "He's a real monster, dumb as a post too. He likes to tear apart the turnbuckles and eat the stuffing after he's done throwing his opponents all over the place."

That description rang a faint bell in Kyle's memory from watching wrestling as a kid in the eighties, but he could not remember the details. Besides, this guy looked much too young to have been wrestling way back then. Not that it mattered. They now both looked like idiots for calling in the militia for no reason. Over two dozen people armed and ready to rock and not a Marine in sight.

The luminous mist was so thick that no one noticed the gray interdiction field going up. Nor did either Jared or Kyle pay more than passing attention to the six large men and women who came in a few minutes after Titan, thinking they were simply more wrestlers. No one was looking when they unbuttoned their coats to reveal Confederacy uniforms underneath.

Suddenly, a strong, amplified voice cut through the dim, "Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please? This is a pickup."

"Oh hell no," a voice screamed out, "You ain't stealing all the purdy women."

Jared and Kyle's heads snapped around when they heard the drunken yell. Zack was a failed football player who had come back to the small town to specialize in beer and stupidity. It was no great surprise that he would be the one to fuck up their careful planning. Seeing him standing there, gun in hand, they knew they had to act immediately or the plan would fail. Immediately, around two dozen other people, including Kyle and Jared, also jumped up, drawing their guns. The alert Confederacy Marines were fast, but they had no chance to get even a single shot off before they were surrounded.

"Zack, you fucking idiot, drop it!" Kyle yelled, "We've been waiting for a pickup for years and there is no way we are going to let a piss-ant like you fuck up our chance to go to the stars."

All the surprised Marines were able to see were the backs of a bunch of people who had jumped up and moved to protect them from the lone idiot. As soon as Zack started to lower his gun, he was hit by a taser and then tackled by several guys who quickly handcuffed his twitching body. The Marines just stood there, fully alert with stingers in hand, watching with bemused disbelief as a bunch of civilians tried to protect them. Successfully, as it turned out. It was a surprisingly nice change for them.

After Zack was safely subdued, Kyle yelled, "Is there anyone else who wants to try and fuck up our chances to get off this planet?" Unsurprisingly, there were no takers. Seeing all was secure, Kyle and Jared carefully approached the wary Marines, holding their guns by the barrels with their CAP cards in their other hands.

"Sorry about that," Kyle said, "My name is Kyle and this is Jared. We are members of a pro-Confederacy militia that formed after we started hearing about idiots interfering with pickups. Our goal is to stop trouble before the pickup team decides it's too hostile a situation and heads out, never to return."

They put their guns on a table near the Marines and Kyle stepped forward. He handed his CAP card to the squad leader, making sure the 8.1 was clearly visible. The others headed over the same way, guns held by the barrel and CAP card in hand. Marissa, an older, plain-looking woman, topped out the group with an 8.4.

"So you're a PRO-Confederacy group huh?" the squad leader, Sergeant Taylor, asked, still unable to believe it.

"Yes sir," Marissa replied, "We are all volunteers and prepack concubines. All of us have had small arms training and taken either close combat bodyguard classes or martial arts classes to ready ourselves if a situation like tonight arose."

As she was talking, Marissa started unbuttoning her shirt. Sergeant Taylor's eyebrows rose as she revealed not the expected pair of breasts, but instead the Kevlar body armor she had on under her clothes. It was pretty easy to tell from his expression that he was amazed by the turn of events. Encountering a well-trained, armed, armored and dedicated group that was not trying to kill the Marines must have been a nice change for them considering how powerful and prevalent the anti-Confederacy groups like Earth First were becoming.

Gathering his wits, Sergeant Taylor detailed someone to guard the table with the weapons on it and then finished the routine pickup speech he had memorized. Slowly the sponsors, would-be concubines and those not interested or who were ineligible sorted themselves out as he had directed. He had asked the volunteers to gather near him and present their CAP cards for verification.

"Here you go sir," a deep voice boomed.

Startled, the sergeant spun around and looked up and up some more. At 6'7" tall, he had not had to look up to meet someone's gaze since his enhancement. Taylor barely came up to the nose of the man who had addressed him and probably weighed a hundred pounds less. Suddenly feeling small, it took him a moment to register the tiny CAP card dwarfed by the huge paw offering it to him. The teenaged wrestling fan, who had turned out to be a volunteer with a 6.6, gasped when he saw the number on Titan's card.

"Holy fuck! An 8.2? I thought you were just a moron who liked to eat turnbuckle stuffing. Err, um," he actually slapped his hands over his mouth and both blushed and cringed when he realized what he had blurted out to a guy who could literally throw large men around like toys. Luckily, rather than being offended, Titan just laughed.

"It's ok," he said, "Titan is just a persona. When I was recruited by the wrestling organizers after winning the world strongman competition, they decided I would make a great bogeyman that both the 'good' guys and 'bad' guys feared. They revived the George 'the Animal' Steele character archetype from the eighties and updated it for me. Interestingly, both of us are actually highly-educated teachers. He has a Master's and taught high school and I put my dual-Doctorates of organic chemistry and genetic engineering to use teaching at MIT. And yes, my students get a kick out of having 'Titan' as their teacher, although I do ask them to keep it quiet so my wrestling persona isn't shot." Seeing their looks, he shrugged and added, "Hey what can I say, it's a little extra money and fame, as well as being remarkably fun."

Sergeant Tyler was still off-balance because of the proverbial curve-balls being thrown at him. First the PRO-confederacy group, and now he had a monster looming over him. He prayed fervently that there would not be any other shocks. He turned to Corporal Harris to give her an order, only to have the words die in his throat.

The extremely tall, aloof, dark-haired, dusky-skinned Marine corporal was staring at Titan with a look of pure lust on her sexy face. The look was so hot that he felt himself harden while a worm of jealousy flashed through him. He had never been able to elicit a look like that from any woman, not even his concubines. She was actually panting and her nipples were tenting the front of her uniform.

"Corporal!" he snapped finally, his mouth dry and his pants uncomfortable tight.

Her head slowly turned toward him and she blinked a few times, suddenly refocusing on her job.

"Personal time later," he said to her quietly, "I need you to focus right now, ok?"

Blushing bright red, unable to even look at Titan, she nodded and whispered, "Sorry about that."

"It's ok," he said, trying not to sound jealous, "I want you to take the female volunteers in hand and help them choose. Don't force them, but try to encourage them to make wise decisions."

With a deep breath that strained the already taut front of her uniform, she gave herself a quick shake, which did nothing for the composure of the males who witnessed it, and turned to the female volunteers. With a smile, she beckoned them to follow her. Titan sighed as she walked away.

"Wow, that is some woman. I've rarely seen a woman as hot as her, and the fact she is tall enough not to look ridiculous next to me... ," he trailed off wistfully.

"Don't worry," Sergeant Taylor said, "You can modify your concubines to make them as tall as you like. Besides, I'm pretty sure she'll find her way into your bed. That was the hottest look I've ever seen."

"I hope so," Titan said, his eyes glued to Corporal Harris' ass as she walked away, naughty thoughts clearly displayed on his face. Almost as an afterthought, he asked, "By the way, what's her name?"

The sergeant chuckled, "You've got it bad for her, don't you? Her name's Rana Harris, and as I said, I'm sure you can look her up once we get you guys settled in on the transport."

Kyle lightly slapped Titan's arm, "Come on big guy, you have a bunch of sex slaves to pick. Don't worry, she isn't going anywhere."

With a last lingering look at Corporal Harris' perfect ass, Titan allowed himself to be led over to the would-be concubines with the other male volunteers. More than a few of the women and girls suddenly looked nervous when they saw him looming over them by as much as two feet or more. A few looked down slightly instead to see the very large bulge in his pants that they would barely have to bend over to kiss. Just as things were getting back on track, Sergeant Taylor realized that Kyle was the only militia member who had gone over with him to the women.

Walking back over, Sergeant Taylor irritably asked, "Aren't you coming?"

Jared shook his head, "No need. Except for Kyle, we've already chosen all of our concubines. Some are here at the bar," he gestured to an alert-looking group of naked men and women standing together in a corner, "the rest are at a safe house, guarding the all the children from harm. We had everything planned out and didn't want to take any chances."

Jared took a thick sheaf of papers from the backpack Sven had dropped on their table earlier and handed them to Sergeant Taylor. "Here are directions to the safe house, passwords to get in, signed and witnessed statements by all of our concubines indicating their agreement and willingness to be our concubines," he explained. "And these are guardianship papers making us all legal guardians of each of the children in the group in case any adult was unable to make the pickup or was killed. Here are our wills, which give clear instructions for concubine and possession transfers upon our death or extended absence."

Once again surprised by the thoroughness of their preplanning, Sergeant Taylor took the thick pile of papers and quickly scanned through them. After consulting with the AI, he said, "This paperwork is a little irregular, actually nearly unheard of, but the AI confirms everything is legal. However, we still need verbal acceptance before they can be concubines."

"Check the flash drive," was Jared's response.

Taking the offered flash drive, Sergeant Taylor plugged it into a hidden port in the side of the CAP card reader. Through it, the AI was able to view the video clips of each person verbally agreeing to everything in the concubine contract and signing it, while the sponsor verbally accepted them as concubines and co-signed the contract. There was a much longer pause this time as the AI digested what it had viewed and checked for precedence. Coming up blank, the AI finally had to agree that the videos were unaltered and there were no signs of coercion, so it reluctantly agreed they constituted proof of contract. The AI made it very clear that it would still prefer to witness the asking and acceptance, but would take the videos as proof until then. It authorized the Marines to pick up everyone named in the contracts when they went to retrieve the children.

With a quick yell of "YES" and a victorious fist pump into the air, Jared walked over to Kyle. That paperwork had been the only lingering question. No one had been absolutely sure the AI would accept it or the video clips, but they were the best thing the lawyer who had been hired by the militia had been able to come up with.

The pickup was going pretty well, but there were a few ruffled feathers. A few people were stunned, but not many, and no one was injured. Quite a few tables had their sturdiness tested as willing people were tossed on them for test drives. It was interesting the responses Titan was getting. Women were either extremely frightened by his size and turned away from him, or were extremely aroused by his size and offered themselves willingly. He tried quite a few before making his choices. Corporal Harris watched him the entire time, obviously wishing she was the one being test driven. When he was finally ready to cum, Titan looked right at her and as their eyes met, he had the best orgasm of his life, even if he was in a different woman at the time. The look on her face made it very clear that she had orgasmed as well, just from having him staring her while he orgasmed.

Their waitress, Jen, came over to Jared and Kyle. She had obviously spent a couple of minutes working on her appearance and almost looked like her old self. "Wow," she said, "you two looked really hot standing there, guns in hand. I don't suppose either of you is looking for one more?" She had a hopeful look on her face as she looked back and forth between them, concentrating far more on Kyle than Jared. Her blush at what she was asking made her look even more attractive. Jared shook his head a little wistfully, but Kyle looked at her speculatively. It seemed like he suddenly realized she was something more than a dream.

Just as he was about to respond, a gorgeous girl in her late teens latched onto his arm. Her very large, bare breasts got his attention and she purred, "How about taking me to the stars?"

She quickly grabbed his hands and pressed them against her full breasts. With rapidly diminishing control of his larger head, he looked at Jen, only to see her face become blank as she took a step back, leaving him at the mercy of the aggressive girl. Before he had a chance to ask for the girl's CAP card, she glued her lips to his and undid his pants. Although she had completely taken charge after coming on aggressively, something did not feel right to him. Judging by her age, beauty and body, he suddenly suspected that the guys always came to her, but on her own terms. Despite his misgivings, he pushed her back to one of the tables and laid her down on it.

Seeing that she was wearing nothing under her skirt, Kyle pushed her knees back to her shoulders and lined himself up. She was a touch dry, but a bit of spit on his cock and he was able to slide into her. Her amazing breasts bounced as he stroked into her, but despite that, he was not really enjoying himself. Apparently her idea of sex was to lay there until the guy fucking her was done. A quick glance over at Jen showed her standing there watching, shoulders slumped and tears in her eyes. She knew, or at least thought she knew, that the beautiful girl would get him as her sponsor. Pulling out of the girl, he stepped back.

It took her a second to realize he was leaving rather than getting into a new position. She sat up so fast she almost fell off the table. "Where are you going?" she asked, unable to conceive of any guy rejecting her.

"I'm really not interested," he responded, seeing Jen's head jerk up in surprise out of the corner of his eye. The smile lighting up Jen's features did more to arouse Kyle than the entire time he had been inside the girl.

"Hey, fuck you!" she yelled, obviously shocked at his rejection.

"Sorry, but if I wanted a boring fuck, I'd have fucked her," Kyle said pointing at a stunned woman who was lying nearby, "she at least has an excuse to be boring, she's unconscious."

The girl's mouth opened and closed a few times as her perfect features distorted with rage, but a Marine suddenly loomed next to her. Still angry, but cowed by the huge Marine, she stomped away, each stomp making her breasts bounce all over the place. She did not have to go far before a drunken frat boy grabbed her and tossed her onto a table. He obviously did not have a problem with her lack of sexual response and was quickly plunging into her with abandon. Soon thereafter, they vanished through the transporter field along with another girl.

Jen and Kyle missed the entire scene though, having eyes only for each other. It did not matter that Kyle already had a harem of women he loved, one of whom had actually come to the bar. He was lost in Jen's eyes. He had always had a crush on her, but had never had the courage to make a move when he had been assembling his prepack. He had never even admitted to himself that the reason he still had one spot open in his harem was that he had hoped Jen would fill it.

"Why?" she asked, obviously referring to his rejection of the beautiful girl.

"Honestly, she was such a bad fuck that she would have bored a necrophiliac," he said and they both laughed. "Beauty and the body of a goddess, you would think she was perfect. Too bad she never bothered to learn how to use her body. Besides," he said with an embarrassed blush, "she wasn't you."

That completely melted Jen, and she threw herself into his arms. Leaning down, he kissed her passionately. He knew in his heart that, even if Jen was as bad a lover as the girl had been, he would still take her. While he might not have needed a test drive to choose her, she obviously wanted one. Pushing him back onto a table, she crawled up onto his legs and cleaned all traces of the other girl off his cock with her mouth before mounting him. He did not need any spit to help him get into her pussy, as she was drenched and willing. Quickly slipping off her shirt, Kyle filled his hands with Jen's beautiful breasts, not caring in the least they were not as big as the other girl's had been. Proving she was anything but a dead fuck, he was barely able to hold out long enough for her to orgasm before he emptied himself inside of her. After their orgasms, she lay down on top of him, and they savored the contact until a voice gently interrupted them.

"We are under a time limit here," the Marine said. "If you are taking her, say so and get a move on, if not... ," they both interrupted him simultaneously, rejecting the notion of her being left behind and making her his official sixth and final pick.

With a very sexy smile, Jen slid off him and gave him a kiss on each head, kissing the smaller one thoroughly before stepping away. Another of Kyle's concubines, and the only one currently present, was standing naked beside them, holding his pants when they got up.

"Hello Anna, this is Jen. Jen meet Anna, my head concubine," he said, introducing them to each other. He looked between the two a touch warily, the fear they might not like each other crossing his mind. Luckily, Jen seemed to accept the other woman as another concubine rather than a threat and did not seem fazed by the idea that Anna was going to be in charge.

"Looks like your harem is finally complete," Anna responded. After handing Kyle his pants, she hugged and kissed a surprised and somewhat embarrassed Jen. "Welcome to the group," she said.

"Finally?" Jen asked.

"Yeah, he's been trying to figure out how to get in your pants for over a year now." Ignoring his embarrassed "HEY!" she continued, "We've been holding at one short for that long, as he tried to find the perfect sixth person. Of course most of us knew who he wanted, even if he refused to admit it." Jen blushed again, but held tightly to Kyle's arm.

Jared was waiting for them by the transporter ring and smiled when he saw Jen, "So you finally manned up and asked her, huh?" he asked with a grin.

"Shit, did everyone know?" Kyle asked a little plaintively.

Jared and Anna both said, "Yup," simultaneously, causing them all to laugh, although Kyle joined the laughter a little late. Scowling at the giggling adults, the Marine guarding the transporter gestured for them to hurry up.

Almost as an afterthought, Kyle asked Sergeant Taylor, "Who will be doing our dependent pickup?"

After a moment's pause while he consulted with the AI, he said, "Looks like it will be my squad, later this afternoon. Since they are all set to go, they will be our first stop."

"Oh, when they ask for the passwords, make absolutely sure you tell them that I said the whole password thing was bullshit. Don't forget!" Kyle said, stressing the last part.

Holding hands, Kyle and Jen followed Anna, Jared and the others through the portal to the awaiting ship. All their hard work had paid off; the militia had managed to get off Earth.

As the Marines pulled up to the house in the rented van, they could faintly hear voices coming from inside. About halfway up the very long sidewalk was a small call box mounted on a pole. After a quick all clear by the AI-controlled drone, the Marines piled out. When the Marines reached the box, a voice came though asking them to identify themselves and state their business.

"We are Confederacy Marines. We were ordered to come here and pick up the dependent children and concubines of sponsors picked up earlier today," Sergeant Taylor said. He was tired and impatient and just wanted the day to end.

"What are the passwords?" the voice asked.

"Oh fuck this," he muttered angrily, "you can see who we are, now let's get this over with."

"Um, Sarge, you probably should do what he said," one of his men said, pointing at the red dot of a targeting laser that had appeared on the sergeant's chest. Three of the others had similar dots on them.

"Ok, ok," he said, wondering how the fuck the drone had missed four snipers, "no need to get testy." He reached into his uniform to retrieve the piece of paper that had the dozen non-associated words in three different languages written on it. "But Kyle said to tell you this whole password thing was bullshit."

The moment he said that, the dots vanished. It suddenly clicked; the list was merely a diversion, something an enemy could steal, while the real passwords had been the phrase Kyle had told him to say. Once again, he was impressed by their inventiveness. Movement near both front corners of the house drew his eye. Two irregularly-shaped patches of ground rose up, revealing the snipers who had been inside the hidden foxholes. The silvery metallic lining on the inside had apparently been what had tricked the drone's sensors. Taylor noticed that they were both holding assault rifles and, to his chagrin, realized he and his men were in the middle of a twenty yard wide kill zone with overlapping fields of fire and no cover. The man and woman carefully put the assault rifles down and walked over to the Marines with their hands up.

"Where are the other two?" he asked roughly, not liking the sudden feeling of vulnerability he had.

They pointed to a patch of woods about one hundred yards away. Two figures came up out of the ground the same way they had, the silvery lining of their foxholes catching the late afternoon light. Sergeant Taylor really started to sweat when he saw what they were holding. Back in the war, he had watched a sniper team using a Barrett M107 sniper rifle on insurgents behind a vehicle and had seen what was left of the insurgents after the massive .50 caliber bullets had plowed through the vehicle, the men and the brick wall behind them. Realizing he had been on the business end of a pair of them was terrifying, and he knew without a shadow of a doubt that if he had failed to give the correct passwords, his entire team would have died. The distant snipers left their rifles on the ground and jogged over to the squad, slowing and raising their hands when they got close.

"Sorry about that," the woman who had been in one of the foxholes near the house said. "Our masters made it very clear that we had to protect the children at all costs. We have heard about the violence against sponsors and their dependents and wanted to be prepared. Even after the phone call, we still had to verify your identity before allowing you in. My name is Lisa and this is Carl, we both belong to Kyle Passa. John and Ken," she gestured toward the snipers, "belong to Marissa."

"God! They're only concubines and they had us cold," one of the Marines muttered in awed disbelief.

Seeing some of the Marines heading toward the house, Lisa yelled, "NO!"

When they stopped and looked back at her she said, "The house is a trap and rigged to explode. The children and the rest of the concubines are in the barn behind a false wall in the stallion's stall."

"Jesus, paranoid much?" one of the Marines muttered.

"Just because we're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't someone out to get us," was her response. Sadly, Sergeant Taylor could not argue with that statement. Showing a little paranoia of his own, he patted each of them down thoroughly to make sure they did not have any other surprises on them, but they were clean.

"But what about the people in the house?" one of the Marines asked.

"It's just a couple of baby monitors connected to the group in the barn. The voices make it sound more natural. Anyone planning to harm them would rush right in thinking there was a bunch of unsuspecting people in the house to slaughter, then BAM! No more murderers," was her rather cold-blooded explanation.

Gesturing for Lisa to lead the way, the Marines circled the house and headed to the barn. The large barn was new-looking and very solidly built. It was almost a fortress in itself. Taylor thought the small windows on the upper level looked suspiciously like the arrow-slits he had seen in the castles he had visited in England. As they neared the barn, two men stepped out holding some type of nasty-looking assault rifle he could not identify. They had a blocky, one-piece body unlike any weapon he had ever seen, with a large drum magazine like the old tommy-guns had. The guns were being held non-threateningly by the barrel, and two Marines quickly took them away from the men.

"What the fuck are those?" Sergeant Taylor asked in disbelief. These people had some serious, exotic firepower.

"They're AA-12's. Fully automatic, 12-gauge, combat shotguns with 32 shell magazines. With a cyclic rate of 300 rounds per minute, they will blow through a 32 shell magazine in just over six seconds. We have them loaded with alternating Dragon's Breath incendiary rounds, and bolo rounds," Lisa explained.

A few Marines gave appreciative whistles. Hating looking ignorant, Taylor asked somewhat hesitantly, "Bolo rounds?"

"Bolo rounds are made of a pair of slugs molded onto steel wire. When fired, the slugs separate, pulling the wire taut like a cheese cutter. They do remarkable things when they hit soft tissue."

"Jesus Christ! Who the fuck are you people?" he asked, shaking his head in disbelief. Lisa just flashed him a quick grin.

Entering the barn, Sergeant Taylor was confronted with the final obstacle: a very large, unhappy warhorse. The horse made it very clear that strangers coming near it were unwelcome. It took a few minutes and some apple bribes to get it calmed down and moved out into the pasture. John and Lisa approached the rear wall and hammered a complex pattern on it. In response there were several loud thunks as large bolts were undone and a crossbar was removed. They then pulled on the wall, which turned out to be a door made of 4" x 4" beams bolted together and faced with fire-proof drywall to protect the people behind it from a fire. Sergeant Taylor just shook his head in bemusement at the door. It would take explosives to get through it. These people were REALLY serious about protecting the children and non-combatants.

A long line of children and adult concubines came up out of the tunnel behind the door. Each had a large pack on their back. After seeing just how well-armed the others had been, not to mention paranoid, he subvocally asked the AI to scan the backpacks. He was surprised to learn they contained clothes, toys, books, games and puzzles, and electronics filled with music, books and movies. There were also spices, sauces, crafting tools, raw materials for several types of artistic pursuits, lingerie, and several types of rugged clothing, but no weapons. The AI also reported that nothing was duplicated, so the maximum possible amount of different items was being taken. Once again, their foresight surprised him. Even prepacks in arranged pickups were less prepared then this group.

After verifying everyone on the list was present and that everyone present was on his approved list, he had the transporter pad put down and activated. In a very orderly fashion, the group lined up and walked into the light, vanishing one-by-one. When only Lisa remained, she gave him a coy look.

"Want to see something really cool?" she asked.

A few responses went through his head, most very inappropriate to say to someone else's concubine. Shrugging, he decided to play along. "Sure whatcha got?" he asked.

Gesturing for him to follow her, she went over to the open barn door and leaned casually against the wall. When he joined her, she brought her hand up to her mouth and kissed her palm, then pointed her hand at the house and blew it a goodbye kiss. As soon as she did that, the house was ripped apart by a massive explosion. When the smoke and flames cleared, they could see the entire structure had been leveled by the massive explosion.

Seeing his shocked look, she shrugged and said, "What? I told you it was rigged to blow. I'd have been a pretty poor neighbor to leave a booby-trapped house behind for someone else to find." As she moved away from the wall, Sergeant Taylor noticed the concealed button she had pushed to blow the house.

"Kisses like that make me glad you're someone else's concubine," he commented jokingly to diffuse the situation a little.

She was still laughing as she passed through the transporter field. After Lisa had gone through, Sergeant Taylor breathed a sigh of relief. This had been a very strange, surprising and stressful pickup and he was glad it was finally over. As an afterthought, he had two Marines jog out and retrieve the sniper rifles. They might come in handy after being scanned into a replicator. For the same reason, he grabbed the AA-12 shotguns and the spare magazines for them. With a last look around, he ordered the squad back through the portal for some much needed rest.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Science Fiction / Horror / Tear Jerker / Oral Sex / Caution /