A story in the Swarm Cycle Universe
The Swarm Cycle Universe
The Swarm Cycle Universe is © 2007-2013 The Thinking Horndog
Note to readers: This story is a direct continuation of Pickup In a Hurry http://storiesonline.net/s/72967 It cannot be read separately!
Arrival on the ship was like observing an experiment designed to demonstrate chaos theory. At least that was how it seemed to James. The marines in charge of the circle jerk cum orientation eventually got the crowd to be quiet enough for them to have everyone sit. James told Zenobia to remain standing. He truly feared that if she got down that it would take a forklift truck to get her up again. The marines got everyone moving toward medical evaluations. The ship's AI agreed with him that Zenobia should have one of the first slots as her weight constituted a fairly severe health risk. Perhaps not so severe as heart trouble or anti seizure meds but still a weighty risk. Therefore they had allowed her to remain standing. James put Su Mi in charge of the group while he escorted Zenobia to the med center. The technician there had barely squeezed Zenobia into the med tube. When the lid was closed, he told James that it would be at least 24 hours before they had a good reading on what would be required to make Zenobia able to maintain a healthy weight.
James gave an order that, if it wouldn't endanger her health, she be shrunk by enough to enter and leave the med tube without the squeeze that had happened this time. The technician looked at the readout of the machine and repeated that the minimum time someone as grossly obese as Zenobia would require was 24 hours. He explained that the nanites could only work so fast in removing her excess body mass. He also explained that the main thing that would be done was to rebuild any of her joints and connective tissues while assigning nanites to balance her hormones as the issue seemed to be at least in part a matter of glandular imbalance. The remainder of the weight would have to come off as if she was losing weight naturally. Although she would probably require several short trips to the med tube to help keep her skin taut, any real sculpting of her body would have to wait until the fat came off. "Sir, with all due respect, the woman masses nearly 300 kilos. It's a wonder she's still able to move," the tech told him as a final shot. With that chore taken care of, James returned to his other concubines.
The marines or the AI (James wasn't sure which) assigned him a pod and he lead the rest of his concubines off to get better acquainted. The first comment out of Serena's mouth when they entered the living quarters was, "What an ugly place!"
Looking at his two youngest concubines, James asked, "Which one of you is responsible for your body art?"
"I did them," Serena said hesitantly.
"AI," James said to the air around him.
"Yes..." a disembodied voice answered, James thought almost hesitantly.
"With the proviso that I get final approval of the result," James said, "my concubine, Serena has permission to change the color of the walls and furnishings of this pod."
There was a slightly longer hesitation this time before the AI answered James. Finally it said, "Aspirant Parker, it shall be as you've ordered. My hesitation was because this ship is not used to new recruits being aware of the workings of its equipment."
"Confederacy ships have been picking up recruits for most of six years now and you think that every one that you pick up will still be in awe of you like you were some visitation of an angel? You better get over yourself. The fact is that more and more information is filtering back to Earth. That is why groups like whoever attacked your interdiction field today are getting to be more able to react in time to hurry you," James said. "I'm certainly no rube and I was watching that Starbucks for more than a month. I came to your party better prepared to hunt the hunters than you did. The first thing I started doing when I heard about the Sa'arm was consider whether or not to join the Army. I decided though that if I did, I'd probably not be able to emigrate. So I went with the next best choice. I signed up for classes at a local dojo. I also started to take hard science classes, even if it was only one at a time at the local community college. I intended to be able to emigrate if there was ever an opportunity. My first CAP test was 6.4, so I tried to find everything I could about the CAP test. I may not know exactly what made the difference in my scores over the years but I can make some guesses. I took responsibility for myself. I took direct action to improve my chances and finally I set out to learn everything I could about the Confederacy. I haunted your web site and tracked down any rumor about what happened after a pick up. I know this pod and the ship it is attached to are controlled by an AI. I'm not sure if they are discrete individuals or essentially the same individual when the Pod is connected to the ship. So basically I have a fair idea of what you are and what to expect from you. At this time all of my concubines have basic privileges. That is that you will answer their questions if they ask you and that unless an unsafe condition exists outside of the pod you will open the door and let them go in and out as they please. If there are restrictions on them being outside my pod without me accompanying them then of course that restrictions take precedence. For the present they are not allowed to bring any one into the pod without my permission. They may choose their own meals but I prefer that we eat together as much as possible.
"Is it reasonable to assume that you will remain my residence even when I arrive at my duty station?" James asked.
"Yes," the AI answered sounding a bit diffident.
"Then in the case that I am killed in action you will provide basic services to my concubines and notify the Civil Service Officer of the station of their status, unless I have recorded a will giving them to someone else. If the will is not operable, or a Civil Service Officer is not available you will provide basic service to my concubines until such time as a Civil Service Officer is available. The permission for my concubines to leave this pod becomes inoperable in case of my death, however, and you will not open to anyone except the Civil Service Officer if I'm not available or dead."
"That is most unusual," the AI said.
"I know my fellow men," James said shortly. "Indeed with that thought in mind, you will not open to anyone but me or my concubines until I otherwise order. The only exception shall be that you will open for the Civil Service Officer."
"I have to open to the ship's commander," the AI told James.
"Only in an emergency, otherwise wait for the Civil Service Officer," James ordered.
"Aspirant Parker," the pod AI intoned from its disembodied local somewhere in the walls of the unit, "the ship's captain, Major Spelling, wishes to see you as soon as you can get decent."
"Please highlight a path to the nearest shower. I assume it has a dispenser that can produce a uniform for me?" James asked. A lighted stripe showed up on the floor so he addressed the concubines saying, "Until I get things sorted out, Su Mi is in charge of the pod if I'm out. That may change but the worst way to get it to change is to argue with her or me about it."
James hesitated for a moment longer to see that everyone in the pod understood what he had told them. When he got a nod of acknowledgment from each of his concubines he headed off to the shower. He hoped that soon he would be able to have time to learn more about the people he had just coerced into slavery. In his mind he didn't hesitate to name what he had done, using the coming of the Sa'arm as a beater in order to drive people into his sphere of influence. The fact that the Confederacy had in essence conspired with him was of little moment. The fact remained that he could have stayed on Earth. But he had set out to avail himself of a pickup, where he would have the requirement to take other humans as slaves while he became a servant to the very forces that were reshaping humanity to their ends.
James showered quickly and found a plain gray uniform in a dispenser that the AI pointed him to when he had been blown dry in the shower chamber. "What branch does this uniform represent?" James asked as he struggled with the unfamiliar fastenings of the clothing.
"This is the uniform for an officer cadet who has not declared his branch. It is similar to the color of the Civil Service branch because you've essentially been assigned to them until you choose a service branch," the AI explained.
"Is there a sleeptrainer available in this pod?" James asked.
"Then as soon as I have the time available, please schedule a session for me that will give me at least a basic understanding of military courtesy and the service branches available to me."
The AI gave its assent and James headed back into the main room of the pod. "I suggest that you all shower and then work with the AI to make a model of what sorts of body modifications you would like. I may not agree with all of them but for the most part I want happy concubines. So I will take your preferences into consideration when I am making the final decision as to what modifications to have done," James told his concubines, who were still sitting in the main room looking more than a little lost.
"Aspirant Parker," the AI intoned, "if you would please follow the green line, it will take you to the captain's office."
.... There is more of this story ...