It started with an accident. Svetlana (a tiger) and Spots (a jaguar) were playing a trick routinely done to me by the cheetah sisters, Dash and Flash. Spots got behind me and Svetlana stood on her hind legs and pushed me over. Normally I would simply have rolled out without injury, but Svetlana fell on top of me, all 325 pounds of her, and my head smacked on the floor hard enough that I saw stars.
The next thing I knew was Fannie Mae’s concerned face staring at me. I was laying in a sleep learner. Sleep learners have limited medical capabilities, just as medtubes have sleep learning capability. Think about why the medtube would need that capability.
“I’m okay,” I told the baboon. Fannie Mae was the medic for the DECO Marine recon platoon. I hit my head hard enough to induce concussion. “Can I get up now?”
Fannie Mae nodded—she was fluent in communicating with humans but her vocal equipment limited her unless she wore a voder or we humans used a translator. Channel D, for Doctor Doolittle, naturally! The translator program could transliterate or could directly translate, and for most humans the transliteration worked better. That caused artifacts such as a single hoot from the baboon being transliterated as a long speech, or long vocalizations becoming a monosyllabic answer such as “NO!” Animal language was more emotional content and less noun/verb sentences.
The tiger and jaguar were sitting contritely beside the sleep learner. I got out and hugged them both.
“I’m okay, now,” I said. “When Flash and Dash dump me, the tipper pushes me and lets go. It’s okay, girls. I know that you didn’t mean to hurt me. Besides, it was funny until someone got hurt-”
“Then it was fucking hilarious!” Tess completed my sentence. She was a bit more crude than I was, and that was okay. She wore the standard female sponsor attire for Arc Dios, which was just like the standard concubine attire: her birthday suit. Tess’s belly protruded with our unborn daughter, but otherwise Tess could have passed herself off as a high school student. Modern high school girls had filthy mouths, too. “Lilith wants to see you in her office. Now. Don’t bother dressing.”
Tess was the chief Civil Service Officer on board the Arc Dios. When the star ship was in orbit, it became a “space station” and the colonial governor, Lilith, was in command. Colonel Mary Popov was the star ship’s captain when the space station was either conducting interplanetary operations or when in hyperspace. Tess, as chief Civil Service Officer, was also in administrative charge of Arc Dios in its role as an academy. I was the Historian and Librarian and Zoo Keeper because one of Arc Dios’ missions was preserving human culture. Arc Dios was also headquarters for special operations in support of the Confederacy evacuation and a colonel who called herself only “Georgia” was in charge of that mission. They were also my sponsor wives.
Can you see the complex politics already?
Most people use the corridors and elevators. I normally use a shortcut. Walls have transporter terminals in them on Arc Dios and I can walk from my office to Lilith’s in one step. Tess, Fannie Mae and the two big cats followed me into the formal reception room. Awaiting me were four more women and two cheetahs. Flash and Dash flanked Lilith, or Goddess Lilith as she styled herself. Flanking the cheetahs were a pair of the Central Command Marines, the small eight-woman detachment providing security aboard the Arc Dios. Private Hartley and Private Knight were new recruits just completing their training. Except for decorative helmets and their golden Smatchets, a short sword with a broad leaf-shaped blade. It may be improper to capitalize Smatchet, but this old British Commando weapon was specific. I digress. Unlike most Marines, Hartley and Knight were only five foot five inches tall and their enhancements were invisible. Both women were slender, with flat chests and no body hair—they looked like teens and they were. Just four weeks ago both women had taken their CAP and achieved sponsor status. CAP scores above 6.5 are important for extraction but anything above 6.5 is unimportant during basic training. Yes, that basic training included sex—with me, and with women. As noted, both were nude except for their helmets and Smatchets. Naked was normal for women assigned to Arc Dios, Tess was naked behind me, but even so, basic training was demanding. It was supposed to be.
Lilith and the other woman wore leopard-print one-piece swimsuits that looked familiar. Lilith’s pregnancy was beginning to show even under the swimsuit and today Lilith’s hair was blonde and cut in a pageboy style. The dark haired woman at Lilith’s feet also had a pageboy haircut.
“Tomcat, this is my concubine,” Lilith announced. “You will call her Bettie.”
Bettie with “ie” and not “y” I noted. Lilith touched her concubine’s shoulder and Bettie stood up. Blue eyes regarded me, grew wide as Bettie stared at my crotch. Same height as the two Marines. More curves. Lilith’s self-confidence was enormous because the guards and the concubine were taller than the goddess.
“What happened to your...” Bettie clapped her hands over her mouth and blushed from her hairline to the tops of her large breasts.
“Tomcat is fully retracted,” Tess patted my pubis. “His friends play rough and being able to suck in his dick and balls saved him a lot of pain.”
“Besides,” I added, “there’s the space suits. I don’t know how the Budweiser can boys do it, but getting squashed in a spacesuit isn’t my idea of fun.”
“Reeling in his hose prevents accidents when he’s sleeping,” Tess added. “You do know that Tom has three kinds of wives: sponsor wives like me and the Goddess Lilith, concubine wives, and dependent wives.”
“No intercourse with dependent wives,” I explained how I had four dependent wives. Operation Arab Dagger had netted me three dependent wives because becoming “family” permitted me to deal with the clients as something other than an outsider. There was a Koranic precedent for marrying an underage girl but not having sex with her until she was an adult. My daughter had petitioned my sponsor wives to become a dependent wife until her fourteenth birthday, when she would become a concubine. “I never sleep alone.”
“Don’t need Tomcat to wander places he doesn’t belong,” Lilith said. “He’s been getting dosed with cobra venom to expand his mental capabilities. As long as he’s in a sleep learner or with other living minds, he won’t get himself into trouble. Dear, tell Tomcat why you’re here.”
“Sir,” the accent was southern and I couldn’t place it, “I was offered three futures. Earth is going to be invaded. I was told that I could remain on Earth with either my tired old body or you’d give me a new young body and I’d live out the rest of my days pretty, the way I want people to remember me. I wasn’t evacuation material because I’m no longer fertile. When you check my CAP sub scores, you’ll see why I didn’t make sponsor—but I’m close—and it didn’t matter. Even if I qualified as a sponsor, I don’t meet the requirements for evacuation. Lilith offered me fifty years as a concubine and said that she had work for me. I’m to be a teacher, a movie star, and I’m going to spend time in the brothel. It’s okay—I chose this fate.”
“Tell him the rest, Bettie.”
“Yes, Goddess,” Bettie said. “In fifty years you will execute me. It’s part of the deal we made with the AI—I’m only allowed to live a limited time and I must be a slave for the rest of my life. I do want this, sir.”