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THE DIARY OF AYIESHA PANAUT


by: Rick Johnson
PO Box 40451
Tucson, Az.
85717
RikJohnson@juno.com


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A Maiden on Barsoom. The sequil where Ayiesha recovers on Barsoom.

Return to Barsoom. Ayiesha’s overly elaborate plan to return to Barsoom. Note: still being written

Weirlu of Caspak. Ayiesha’s vacation on Terra.

Characters in these stories. Here you will find who these people and places are.

My very best friend, Caroline, suggested that I keep a diary of my life just in case it had historical value. After all, very few people have done what I am about to do and so may have nothing to relate this to. Hopefully, my journey will help others who choose this path.

I guess I should start with myself. My name is Ayiesha Penaut. Well, that’s not my full name because my grandparents, being from Terra and coming from three separate religions, each insisted that I be named after some holy person in their own faith as a family tradition. Thus my complete name is Ayiesha Maria Ruth Mahmoud Villmer bint Penaut, but make things simpler, I just use my first name and my Clan name. Today I am 17 years old and a few months having started puberty at 15 & 6 which is about average but a bit upsetting when my best friend, Caroline, started at 13 & 3. But then, she is human and bleeds monthly and I don’t so there are advantages to being what I am even though her Puberty Rites were held years before mine even though we are the same age. So, even though she developed into a woman long before I did and grew faster than I did, we still were best friends and told each other everything.

My father was born on Gaea but his parents were from France and Germany on Terra. Grandfather was a German Jew who was on the way to one of that planet’s many death-camps when he was rescued by the Colonial Service and brought to Gaea. My grandmother was from France and was dying from lung cancer in the slums of Paris when she was found by Colonial. Grandmama told me that because she was Catholic and he was a Jew, they couldn’t marry on Terra so she was glad when Colonial brought them here, cured her cancer, made them both young again and encouraged what granddad’s people called “the mongrolization of the races”. I never understood that idea as any farmer knows that the more pure and limited the gene pool, the weaker the stock. So it just stands to reason that the more different races you mix together in a population, the stronger the people become. But humans are strange anyhow and I am glad I’m not one.

Mother was an Arab, also born on Gaea, and her parents were from Saudi Arabia, also on Terra. Granddad was a Bedouin bandit or something and was driven into the Rub al Kali desert to die. Grandma was a slave girl from Mozambique I think. Slavers were about to gang-rape and sell her when Colonial saved them and brought them both to Gaea.

Mother was raised Arabic and they believe that a woman’s value is in her virginity and her father’s ability to marry her off to consolidate economic partnerships. Father was raised in some combination of Catholic-Jew-German-French thing that just confused me so when Mother and Father met and fell in love, all four of their parents fought the relationship. Mother’s family insisted that dad was an infidel and father’s family insisted that mother was a nigger. Those words don’t exist in Spanglic so I don’t understand what they mean other than I am told that they are an insult on Terra. As a result, when mom and dad fell in love, they had to run away to marry and even today I rarely see my grandparents.

So I was born a peasant girl on a farm on Gaea in the Talic Sector which is mostly dry and made for orchards and livestock. Father Homestoned a farm and we grew some crops and raised Rundis and sheep but mostly we grew olives and grapes and honey. I have two older brothers and, like me, we are all born Weir, which upset all of my grandparents and even my father for awhile even though Colonial told them that this would happen. Thus I grew up mostly barefoot picking olives and grapes, harvesting honey from the tickle-bees and spent all day every Spring combing the under-fur from the Rundi’s and shearing sheep then all Winter weaving that into cloth and rugs. Being the youngest and having two older brothers, I learned to fight well and became stronger than my contemporaries who lived in the city and had sisters. But then, Caroline never had to shovel Rundi Manure every day and a Rundi can dump a cubic meter of shit in one load and they do it a half-dozen times a day so she probably had the better deal.

It occurs to me that I should tell you now why I went into so much family background when my future is what you are reading. Well, any farmer will tell you that the soil in which you plant your seed will determine how the crops grow. And my family is the soil in which my father planted the seed that eventually became me.


I don’t remember when I decided that the life of a peasant farmer wasn’t what I wanted. I think that it must have been last Spring when Caroline and I were with our friends at the Quarry. The Quarry had been a marble mine years ago when Caer Cyprian needed marble for the Temple, then it was abandoned and filled with water from the rains and streams. Of course, being Spring, the water in the quarry was snow-melt and barely above freezing but it was one of the few places we could go to swim and enjoy ourselves without adults telling us how to live our lives.

Caroline and I were naked and sunning ourselves on the rocks. My body had finally caught up with hers and after a winter inside, we were both paler than normal. Her skin was almost fish-belly white and mine was a very light brown, almost the colour of my father’s when he was tanned. Even my hair was sky-blue instead of its’ natural dark blue so we were desperate to get as much sunlight as we could.

So we lay there, on the marble feeling the cool stone against our belly and breasts as the sun warmed our backs and watched the boys, also naked, show off with their diving into the water. “Human or Weir, boys do the stupidest things to impress us,” I commented.

Caroline laughed and mentioned that the cold water was shrinking the only useful part of a boy then she asked, as girls do, “Are you going to marry Geraldo?”

I looked at her and laughed back for we were having too much fun to be jealous. “I’m not my mother. You humans can have babies at 13, I cannot until I am 25. So what’s the use? And though he would make beautiful babies, he is a wonderful dancer and good in bed but… but… I’d like a husband who was stronger than me, someone to take care of me. Geraldo is only human so I’m afraid I’d break him if we had a fight.”

Caroline was used to these comments on how Human and Weir differed. As a Gaean-Human, she had grown up with Weir so understood us. Geraldo was an immigrant born on Terra and one of the few children who was allowed to immigrate. His parents had died in an Earthquake in Mexico along with much of the town and the local economy couldn’t support so many orphans so Colonial simply took them and handed them to Gaean locals who wanted more children than they could bear. Thus he had the unique history of remembering Terra as a child but growing up on Gaea. Unfortunately, he couldn’t really understand a Weir as could Caroline who had been born and raised among us.

“If not him, who?” she asked. And that was when it struck me. I was turning into my mother. Mother was raised to believe that a woman’s value was to be a virgin bride, marry young to someone with wealth, bear babies, preferably sons, and serve her husband and I didn’t want that. Mother had married young and birthed three Weir babies, babies that almost killed her with our constant demands for food. Not that I minded being a Peasant girl on a farm but where would that lead? Babies that drained my strength to the point where I could only have one every five years? Milking goats every morning, picking olives, combing Rundis and spending every Winter weaving and sewing and praying for an early Spring to melt the snow? There must be something better to life than this. The Demons had engineered us Weir for space travel. We were designed to survive in space and operate star ships and here was I and my brothers shoveling Rundi shit!

So I rolled over to sun my front and stared at the sky. Somewhere past that sky were stars. And around most of those stars were planets and many of those planets were Class-M habitable. Goddess! Even the Barony of Drakonis, young as it was, had four dozen star systems in it and each had at least one terra-formed Class-M planet. I took some of my hair and looked at it. The colour, though paler than normal by Winter’s imprisonment, matched the sky, not the ground or the trees. I didn’t belong here. My brother Erik would inherit the farm forcing my other brother to either work for him or move elsewhere to Homestone another farm. All I could do was to Homestone my own farm or marry someone with a Homestone or try to find work in the cities.

“Ayiesha?” Caroline said as she shook me. “What’s happening? You drifted off just then.”

So I kissed her, looked into her eyes and kissed her again. We had shared so much these years. I had always been stronger, faster, smarter than she. Then when she reached puberty before me, there was that short three years when she grew faster and could outmatch me until I reached that stage and passed her. We had schooled together with me tutoring her in math and the other sciences for Weir have a strength in those fields too and her giving me advice on boys and life in general for she was a city girl and more sophisticated than we farm girls. We had dated the same boyfriends, comparing notes on their skills in bed and on the dance floor. We had slept together as friends and lovers, cried over a pet ravine eaten by a wild falanx pack and we knew that we would always be there for each other and suddenly, I knew that it would end.

“I don’t know. But I do know that I’m tired of being just another peasant girl. There must be something more out there and I want to find it!”

Caroline looked at me with all the sadness in the world in her eyes, her aura dimmed and her skin temperature cooled and paled as the blood was drawn inside. Things that humans couldn’t see or experience save occasionally during passion with a Weir told me that she was pulling away from me and I didn’t want that. Although we had been lovers and loved each other, we weren’t “in” love with each other and her pain hurt me as much as it hurt her.

“How long?” was all she could get out.

“Just now. I have to wait until I am 18 before I can do anything without my parent’s permission so we have a few months. I really don’t know what I want to do but I know that a farmer’s wife isn’t it. I need you to help me find my Path.” Then I hugged her knowing that she would and so share in my decision. “BUT, we have to keep this a secret.” So we linked fingers, her smallest finger linked with my outer thumb and kissed to seal our vow and spent the rest of the morning watching the boys play and trying to figure out what I wanted with my life.

Caroline had an easy life. Her family was Merchant Class and so was not only wealthier but above me in status. As eldest, she would inherit the family business and her brothers and sisters would either work for her or start a business of their own. She wasn’t rich but unlike me, she never had to wear hand-me-down clothes. So we talked about what a Merchant Class was and the headaches her parents had when they worried about a freighter being taken by pirates or some other merchant undercutting their prices and all the worries that produced all those advantages that she enjoyed. Farming was easy compared to that. We only worried about the wasp-eaters or flitter-fly birds moving in to eat our bees or mold killing the grapes before the med-techs could find a cure or a Rundi breaking a leg or a long winter. But these were things I had lived with all my life so they were known and the fears of a Merchant scared me.

I was too young to be a whore though the life of men throwing wealth at my feet for an evening at a party and in bed was attractive. But frankly, most whores hire out to Weir families to service the husband as his wife struggles with their babies and that wasn’t what I wanted. Mother told father often enough after my birth that she was exhausted and if he wanted more children, to hire a whore to impregnate and she’d raise his children for him but she refused to become pregnant again and I didn’t want to be a surrogate breeder either.

Explorer? There are vast tracts of Gaea that had never felt human or Weir foot. Alan Quartermane, Indiana Jones, Lewis & Clark, Cho Fat, all the stories I had read in school and on the tri-vid about the first explorers on Terra and in the Commonwealth, both fact and fiction stirred my soul. THIS is what I was engineered to do! But how? The Devil pays the expenses for explorers to study and map the Barony and she rewards well those who find interesting things but do I want to fight parasites and vermin in the jungle or drink my own urine when lost in space and the reactor shuts down? Also how do I convince the Devil that I am serious and capable? My resume is enough to work on a farm and maybe a ranch but to fly a starship or sail around the world?”

“Well,” she suggested, “We make it look better. Your family raises sheep and olives don’t they? Aren’t these plants and animals from Terra? So we say… ‘extensive experience with alien biota.’ You are a Weir so we say ‘physically adapted to space travel’. See how that works!”

“That’s dishonest,” I exclaimed shocked.

“No, not dishonest, imaginative, free thinking, willing to do what it takes to get the job done. There’s a difference and that difference makes you space-worthy. It’s no different than advertising anything for sale.”

Of course, Caroline and I watched all the tri-vids from action-adventure to history. We read the books and haunted the local space-port whenever we could. We sent my resume to everyone and anyone we could think of to no avail. Those replies we got back were less than enthusiastic.

“Wouldn’t it be so romantic to explore the galaxy then meet someone as wonderful as Malcolm Chong on StarShip for Hire? “ She said one evening while we watched the tri-vid.

I responded, barely looking up for as gorgeous as he was, and we’d seen all his vids, we both knew that a good make-up artist kept him looking handsome even in a Kothian swamp, “But remember what happened when he spent the entire show searching for that woman who was lost? He fought pirates, dodged asteroid belts, did everything to win the woman he loved and THEN, she turned out to be a Mon! Can you imagine, Malcolm at two meters marrying a woman three meters tall? He’d never be able to look into her eyes!”

Caroline was indignant, “That was a plot device to make certain he remained a bachelor for the entire series. “’I’ think that it was so romantically tragic.”

“Regardless, I still need to dress up my resume and collect needed skills. I don’t think that the ability to shovel shit is important aboard a starship.”

Caroline laughed and said, “Ayiesha, your entire race was engineered by the Demons for space travel. THAT alone is qualification enough. Look at Terra! A few decades ago they managed to finally land someone on their own moon, picked up a few rocks and never returned. They can’t even get past a few hundred kilometers from planetary surface. Even today, half their orbital shuttles blow up which proves that their abilities have degenerated. Even Professor Duncan at school said that, and he worked for NASA when that shuttle blew up during launch.

“Even when the Demons abducted the first humans a thousand years ago, human exploration out here used Demon ships. It wasn’t until the Demons engineered the humans into the Mon that space travel moved ahead for us. Doesn’t this prove that humans like me aren’t suited for space travel but that Weir like you are?”

“It only proves that politics on Terra will stop any decent advance and will eventually destroy the planet so it’s a good thing that the Demons and Colonial keep taking humans from Terra.

“Besides,” I said, “your parents and my grandparents are from Terra so if your race is so poorly off, why keep going back for more? No, I need something more. Something that will convince Star Fleet or one of the private Explorer Ships to hire me.”

“Star Fleet!” She jumped up. “That’s the solution! You join Star Fleet!” I think that she had visions of romance again. Humans are too emotional sometimes.

“The Commonwealth Star Fleet is composed solely of Mon engineered by the Demons to be super-soldiers for the Kris Wars. The Drakonis Star Fleet is solely Lanai who are engineered by the Baron to be super-soldiers. Why would they consider me? I’m not a soldier, I don’t even have martial arts training.” I replied.

She was excited again, “Remember Marcus? HE was a human soldier from Terra who joined the Fleet and he became a hero during the First Shitai War. Then there was Pauline who is a Weir and has been Fleet for ten years. So the Fleet is mostly Lanai, so what! They accept human and Weir. All you have to do is be willing to defend the Barony.”

And so my decision to become a soldier and better myself was made by my best friend whose only experience with combat was a fight over a pair of shoes during a store sale.

So we went into Caer Bridget to look up Star Fleet. The problem was that unlike Terra, Drakonis forbids the draft and as long as the Lanai are being created, they have no need and little desire to enlist anyone else so the first test to enlistment is actually finding a way to sign up.

We walked around the Plaza looking at the war monuments and pikes. There were only three heads on the pikes, one Shitai the other two human criminals and none of these held any interest as we had both been there when they were piked. But the monuments. Every Drakonan city has war monuments in the plaza and each is similar. A two meter obelisk with a statue on top designed by the city artists. Each obelisk had a bronze plate that listed the names of those who died in that war so I read one,

Morgor Invasion, 1005 Standard/48 Gaean.
Lacaille 258
Ceti 23
Siria 174
Atria 55
Spica 144

The names and vat-sequence numbers of all the Lanai who gave their lives that we could live free and safe. Someday my name might be on one of these plates and that thought made me sad. I noticed a tear and for some reason, I touched it with my finger, looked at it and then placed it on the plate. Then I looked at Caroline and said to her, “If you see my name here someday, please pour me a libation and remember me to your children.” Then before she could reply, I walked away, bought some flowers and laid them at the shrine. What could she do for we were committed now and suddenly the possibility that I could die before my time was real.

She hugged me and said, “I won’t live past a hundred years despite all our medical skills and you can live easily five times that. I always knew that you’d outlive me but the thought that I may outlast you scares me. No matter what, I’ll name my first daughter after you and tell her of our friendship.”

It was days later when I told Caroline that I needed to talk to my grandfather.

She immediately knew who I meant for Grandfather Ali thought she was a slut. Hell, he probably thought the same of me because of the curse of Weir sexuality where we NEED sex regularly but to Grandfather Ali, any woman who enjoys sex outside marriage should be stoned. No, she understood we were going to see Grandfather William who had fought on Terra during WW-I. He would tell me what war is really like.

So Caroline arrived early the next morning in her flivver for Grandfather lived in Nordan Sector which was too far away for a Rabbuck ride or ground-car drive. She was excited as Grandfather William loved her too. Sometimes I wonder if he thought that she was one of his grandkids though he was German-Jew and Caroline was pure Highland Scot and still wore the Macgregor Tartan from the old country. Besides, although all of Grandfathers eight kids were human, every one of his 37 grandchildren were Weir like me.

We arrived a few hours later and found him on the porch with Aunt Ruth who was, for once, alone. I guess my cousin was napping and she was taking that time to relax. When we approached, we both curtseyed low and said, “Good morning Papay,” for he was my Clan Head and so deserved that respect.

Grandpapay looked at us, then recognized who we were and called out, “Ayiesha? Caroline? Come onto the porch and sit. Ruth, fetch our guests some lemonade.” He was obviously happy to see us but didn’t stand because of his age and position and since he gave the farm to Aunt Ruth and her husband, he really didn’t have much to do but dream and hope his kids would visit.

I sipped the lemonade but as usual it was too sweet and it made my teeth ache so whenever I could, I’d pour my glass into Caroline’s as she had a sweet tooth. About then I heard a baby cry and Ruth just sagged and started to stand up. Birthing three Weir babies almost killed my mother so I could imagine what having four was doing to her. “Aunt Ruth, why don’t you go lie down and take a nap. I’ll feed and watch Heinrich for you.”

She was very grateful at that, “Thank you dear, I really appreciate this.” And she almost ran to the bedroom and closed the door.

Ok, I thought, no big deal. All I have to do is to find the Rundi milk, warm it up and feed the baby until he falls asleep again. So I went to the baby’s room and picked him up. By human standards, he would be considered to be very small and immature for his age but he seemed to be normal by Weir standards. I picked him up and carried him to the kitchen but by the time I got there, he had managed to open my blouse and was seeking a breast and getting frustrated enough to cry some more. I needed to keep him quiet so Aunt Ruth could nap so I simply unbuttoned my bra and let him suckle for a moment. He wouldn’t get anything because I was about eight years away from full maturity, but the suckling would calm him down for a moment.

Heinrich clamped onto my blouse with his hands and feet and I wrapped my tail around him for security but as we Weir have an incredible grip, I felt comfortable letting him go. Then I could use both hands to find the rundi milk, add the vitamins that he needed, pour it into a liter bottle and set it in the warmer.

Unfortunately, by then I was getting horny with his sucking on my nipple. All I could think about was last night with Geraldo. Goddess I wanted him again! Finally, I couldn’t take it any more and the milk was still warming so I slipped my thumb between breast and mouth, popped him off and before he could cry, moved him over to the other breast, “Equal time, cousin.” I said to him not caring if he understood. Then making certain that Aunt Ruth was asleep and that Caroline was keeping Papay busy, I sat down and slipped my tail under my skirt. I also slid my free hand under to move my panties aside and with very little help, slid my tail inside and fantasized about Geraldo. I used one hand to hold and rock Heinrich as he sucked harder seeking milk that wouldn’t come and the fingers of my other hand to help my tail until I shuddered in climax.

Whew, that was nice. I wanted to relax a bit but Heinrich was very upset with his hunger and before he could cry again, I grabbed the bottle and shoved it into his mouth. I’ve heard of human women who tried to nurse Weir babies without help or extra milk sources and every one was found later with both mother and child dead of starvation and malnutrition. Aunt Ruth needed help and I was hoping that our relatives would return home soon. In the meantime, I refastened my bra and blouse, splashed some cold water onto my face to remove the flush and tried to wash the woman-smell off my fingers and tail. Then, with a couple deep breaths, I carried my cousin onto the porch and sat in the swing next to, but not too close to my grandfather.

“What took so long?” Caroline asked. “Papay was telling me about Passover and I thought you would be interested.” She obviously knew what I had been doing and was trying to either cover up for me or embarrass me.

I knew that her Passover comment was a lie because although my family celebrated Hanukkah, Passover, Ramekin and a few other holidays in private, to us kids, they had no real meaning other than as a family tradition. The big religions of Terra didn’t fit here and the only time their holidays were celebrated was when some new shipload of colonists insisted. Even then, they died out after a few years until the next ship arrived.

“Papay,” I asked, “You were in the army weren’t you?”

“Yup!” he answered. “Even got an Iron Cross from the Kaiser during The Great War, a lot of good that did me when the Nazis took over and tossed me into that railroad car with the other Jews.” He then moved off onto a tangent and told us all the war stories about the trenches and bayonet charges and gas attacks and other things that ranged from horror to humor. All the time I fed Heinrich, burped him and played with him to encourage his development. I knew that he’d fill his diaper just before he fell asleep and if I timed it well, I could clean and diaper him before he sprayed me. For some reason, babies always held their bladder in reserve so they could empty it at whomever changed them.

Finally Papay wound down and asked, “Why are you so interested. You rarely visit like this and when you do, you only pretend to listen. You think I don’t notice because I’m old but there is still a mind behind these wrinkles.”

I tried to explain, “It’s a secret, papay, but I don’t want to be a peasant any more. Farming is nice but I want to be something else. Maybe Star Fleet and I wanted to know the truth about war.”

Papay just stared at me, then at Caroline who smiled back then again at me and said, “Give your cousin to Caroline and walk with me please.”

We walked around the house, over to the rundi paddock, then around the barn until we were alone and far enough from anyone working so he could talk to me privately. I’d rather not tell you all that he said but it boiled down to this: War should be the last resort but most Terran politicians use it to garner votes and land and power. The advantage here in Drakonis is that the Baron is forbidden political or economic power by Charter so he doesn’t start useless wars. But war is still bad because it kills people and despite what people say in the parades, killing anyone isn’t something to be proud of doing. But, he could see that I was intelligent enough to make up my own mind about things and if this is what I wanted, I should go for it. BUT, before I did anything too stupid, I needed to be certain that this WAS what I wanted. But whatever I decided, He’d talk to daddy if I needed him and try to help me out as much as he could.

I kissed him then and was very happy that he was my Papay because a grandfather loves you because he wants to, fathers love you because they have to.

Well, we returned to the porch and never mentioned it again, passing time watching the dragonets catch lebballies in the paddocks, talking about the weather, crops, my aunts and uncles and brothers and cousins and what the news was there and generally enjoying our time together, just us four. Eventually Heinrich burped, finished his liter of rundi milk, then filled his diaper and, as soon as Caroline opened the diaper, his little penis waved and sprayed everyone before we could cover it to the delight of that little creep cousin of mine. “I can’t remember how many times your father peed all over me,” laughed papay.

But finally the sun set, my relatives returned from the fields and pastures and we all had a hearty dinner, through which Aunt Ruth slept. I fed Heinrich again, put him to sleep, made a few hearty sandwiches for Auntie, then Caroline and I hugged and kissed everyone and flew home.

It was on the journey that Caroline said, “Thank you for including me in this.”

“In what?” I asked.

“Your family. My grandparents are back on Terra. I’ve never seen them and never will so having Papay accept me as his own makes me feel especially loved. Plus, I never eat so well as when I am on your farms. Everything is fresh and there is always more than enough. I love it here.”

“If I die in battle, I’ll leave Papay to you in my will,” I joked. “He thinks that you are a good influence on me.”

She looked at me and said, “I’m serious Ayiesha. I don’t want you to die or even joke about death. You know the Gods hear Their Names mentioned and sometimes They answer. I love you and I love your family and I don’t want anything to happen to any of you.”

What could I say? I could only hug her and scream as the flivver took a nose dive from which Caroline barely managed to recover.

It was two months before my 18th birthday when we finally decided that writing letters wasn’t working. We needed to visit the capital and actually talk to someone in the Exploratory Service or Star Fleet and that meant more time away from home. Mother and Daddy weren’t happy with my leaving all these times but they felt that whatever I was doing that was so important would cause me to be really bitchy if they forbade it so they let me go. So Caroline and I borrowed her flivver again and flew to Caer Cyprian where the big spaceport was.

Caer Cyprian wasn’t too strange for us as we’d been there before. From the air we saw the Liberatory near the central plaza, three tiers high, each tier five floors and covering a total of a square kilometer of land. South of that was the Central Plaza and hill with the Great Circle and to the west the monorails that led to the other cities and the five kilometers into the ocean where the spaceport was. We just didn’t know where to find the offices we needed so we landed in a parking lot and went exploring.

You would think that the capital of a nation that covered four dozen stars and was a hundred light years across would be more impressive but it wasn’t. The Liberatory was larger than any other, the Stone Circle was the same as the one at Caer Bridget, and there were more people, maybe 5000 total and half of them tourists or merchants or aliens so finding our way around was easy. We saw a small swarm of Demons, Basics I think or Termagants, moving around doing whatever their reptilian minds did. And in the distance a couple Mon, towering above their human relatives. But for the most part what we saw were the usual one-third Weir and two-thirds humans, though half those humans were immigrants from Terra and the other half were Gaean-born like Caroline. What we needed was to find a Lanai or someone else in a uniform. But like all Drakonan cities, there was one policeman to every thousand people, if that. Caer Bridget had one full-time sheriff and one part-time deputy, here they probably had a sheriff and maybe two full-time deputies and possibly a couple other part-timers. Unlike the stories our Terra-families told us, there simply wasn’t enough crime here to justify any more. Thus, we simply couldn’t find a cop to ask directions.

“Maybe the Liberatory?” suggested Caroline. “They should have maps and directories.”

“Or the spaceport,” I offered. “If there are any warships or explorers, that is where they would dock.”

The Liberatory was closer so we chose that location. As the largest building on the planet, it was easy to find. Like a terraced mountain, it was unmistakable and we arrived after only a few minutes walk. The inside was amazing. Our Liberatory had the same four meter ceilings for any Mon that happened by but this one had rooms as large as our entire building. So we found the librarian and asked, “Excuse me ma’am,” curtseying to her, “but could you give us any information as to where we could find an office for either Exploratory or Star Fleet?”

She smiled for as a librarian of the Fourth Pillar, it was her job to give information of any kind. I suspect that had I asked for the design of a thermonuclear bomb, she would have offered us a copy. “We front the Plaza on the north but three blocks south then four west you will find the customs office by the monorail station. Both the Fleet and Exploratory share that building.” And she handed us a map of the city with our route marked. We curtseyed again and thanked her and ran off to my future.

As we approached the building, Caroline commented that we had landed and parked only a block away from our goal. But we did see more Mon and even a few Skree as we approached the Customs office. We did remember to never turn away from a Skree in case it decided to breed and implant eggs on our backs. Fortunately, there was a Guardian machine following them a meter above to make certain that this fate didn’t happen.

Finally, we saw three Lanai walking from the building. Caroline looked at them then at me for Lanai were patterned after Weir, only taller than I was. “If Lanai don’t breed and are made in bio-tanks, why do they all look like women? And why do they need such large breasts?” Caroline whispered to me.

“If I find out, I’ll let you now. Now let’s find their office.”

Once inside we got lost. It wasn’t that the building was huge, it was that there was so much going on that we couldn’t find anything or anyone to help us. The directory-map was crowded with people, human and alien, all looking for their business offices so we couldn’t push through ourselves, it wouldn’t be polite and neither of us wanted to fight a duel over discourtesy. Finally Caroline saw the flash of a uniform and dragged me over to a couple Lanai who were playing Blind Chess off to the side. Like any Draconan, I play the game and am considered to be a good player but these Lanai never took more than a few seconds to make their move. It was as if they had memorized their game in advance and were playing a new game with every move.

We waited until there was some lull in the game, then interrupted, “Excuse us, Noble Warriors,” Caroline said as we curtseyed very low for their combat ribbons on their sleeves showed that we were in the presence of Warriors who had fought in the Morgor Invasion and both Shitai Wars. One even had a scar along her neck where a human or Weir would have their juggler vein.

Both stopped and looked up at us… or rather down as even though they were both sitting, our curtsey was so low our heads were properly below theirs. “Rise children, please, and speak.” Said one. Neither smiled but both sat there politely waiting for us to stand and say what we would. Unfortunately, I was frozen with nervousness so Caroline elbowed me in the ribs, then did so again until I spoke out. “Noble Warriors, thank you for defending our Barony. I would ask a boon of Thee if I may.” It is always a good idea to be extra polite to someone who can crush your spine with a simple motion.

“I am but a simple peasant girl from a farm in Talic Sector who would wish to serve my nation and join you in Thy noble profession. Could you please direct me to your … employment officer?” I then added in a rush, “If it be not inconvenient to your noble personages.”

One of them turned to Caroline and asked, “And you child, are you with her also?”

She looked down and said, “No Great Warrior. I am my friends friend and am here to offer moral support if it please you.”

They looked at each other and I could estann them psi to each other then one said, “Follow me please.” Then as they walked away, and without looking back, the other added, “Your friend also.”

We followed them down the hall and noticed that everyone gave them room, even the Mon who towered over us all by a meter. Many bowed or curtseyed to them in politeness and respect so it wasn’t long before we reached an office where we were told to wait. Our guides simply turned around and left without talking to anyone in the empty room. “Did you see that?” asked Caroline. “I’ve never seen anyone give respect to someone the way these people showed respect to the Lanai. And to think, shortly, I’ll be curtseying to you.” And she hugged me tightly.

“Not if we just sit here. What are we supposed to do? Wait? Or is this a test to see if I have the strength to walk in on them? And how are they supposed to know we are here? I didn’t estann any psi activity as the Lanai left.”

Our discussion was cut short as a door opened and another Lanai, a human one, entered and bade us follow her. Her? Lanai aren’t real biologicals despite their outward similarity to humans and Weir. So do they even have gender? And if they were made to be super-soldiers, why look female and not male or Demon or something completely different that would strike fear into the stomachs of their foes?

She led us down another hall and opened a door and waited for us to enter, then she shut the door and we were alone in an office with another Lanai, this one had light green skin and yellow hair. She motioned us forward and we approached her desk then curtseyed very low. Had I not been wearing a bra, my breasts would have popped out I was bent over so low.

“Rise and at ease,” she commanded. We complied instantly and she looked us over. “I am Group Captain Anaba 224. I understand that you wish to be a soldier? What do you think that this means?”

I tried to explain remembering that with anyone in authority, total honesty is advisable even if it gets you killed, “Mistress Group Captain, my future is a peasant married to another peasant to bear him children and farm or herd or plow or harvest. I discovered that this is not what I wanted. I was engineered for space travel as you were engineered for battle and I wish to follow that path as you follow yours. I don’t know what that means, I only know that once I made that decision, I was at peace.”

She walked over to me and immediately punched me in the nose, stopping her fist a millimeter from its tip. “You want to be a warrior and won’t even defend yourself?” Then she punched me again. This time I tried to block the blow. Now I am fast and strong. Weir have reflexes and strength far greater than any human and years of farm life and fighting with my brothers had made me faster and stronger still. Yet, I found myself on the floor with blood running from my swelling nose. Now I was angry so I jumped her… and was thrown across the room for she moved faster than I could. As I picked myself up, Caroline jumped her from behind only to be grabbed by the throat and held as if she were a child. I got angry and yelled, “Let her go!” and jumped her again…

This time I found myself on my knees, her tail choking me and both my hands being held behind my back by her one free hand. “Anger, little child, strengthens the body but clouds the mind. If you would fight and win, fight first with your brain and allow the body to follow.” Then she let us both go.

She handed me a cloth with ice and bade us sit as she poured us both a glass of mead. I couldn’t really taste mine as I was trying to not bleed all over my blouse but I could tell that it was excellent, better than what we brewed at home.

“Do you expect to get rich? Loose that wish for Warriors seek not wealth and we do not get paid for our lives. Do you expect fame? Loose that too, for the most famous Warriors are those whose names ride the obelisks and so are dead and thus cannot enjoy that honour. Do you expect power? I am denied politics or the law because of my rank in the military, for the people mistrust Warriors with ambition.

“Understand and accept the Lord of the Dead for Warriors start their lives expecting to die, for once we accept that we won’t live past the next battle, we are free to live and to throw our entire beings into our actions.

“What you CAN expect is a life of hardship. Long hours training to fight, days in the field hungry, cold and hoping to survive the next hour. And if you live, it will be scarred, crippled and your life will end centuries before your siblings, possibly your human lover here will outlive you. And as for sex… you Weir need sex often and aboard a starship, you will be alone with Lanai and we aren’t what you would expect or need or desire in a bed partner. Thus you tail yourself on shipboard and hire a male whore when you are on shore and suffer the rest of the time. THIS is the life you want?”

The thought images she sent were graphic and even Caroline could pick them up and went pale. I pulled the cloth from my nose for the blood had already clotted. “Madame Group-…” I sounded terrible so I put the cloth to my nose and blew… hard. Blood clots were forced out and I could breathe again and started over. “No, Madame Group-Captain. I don’t want that life. It scares me so much I want to shit but am too scared to do so. But, it seems to be the path I am fated to walk.”

She sat down, steepled her fingers and thumbs and looked me over again. I returned her examination and saw that she wore no cosmetics at all. Her hair was long and wavy but held by a simple clip and not styled at all. Obviously, she had no need or desire to attract a lover so why look sexy? Would I feel that way after a few years?

“How old are you child?”

I responded immediately, “Seventeen and ten, if it pleases thee.”

“Whether Standard or Local, your age is your age and my pleasure has nothing to do with it. Avoid the fantasy shows and focus on the documentaries and histories of the Warrior. Then, if your are still so inclined, return when you are of legal age. I have no wish to anger the Clan of a child.” And with this she waved us out and turned as if we did not exist.

We returned the way we came for Caroline trusted my Weir sense of direction and by the time we were in the lobby, she was over her fears and hugged and kissed me, “We did it! You are a Warrior! Anything else is a formality,” and she backed off and curtseyed to me. “We need to celebrate.”

I’m afraid that I wasn’t as confident as was she and my nose still hurt. I looked at my reflection in the window and saw it somewhat swollen but at least it wasn’t bleeding any more so I allowed her to lead me down the street.

By the time we had looked into the windows of a few shops, I was beginning to get over my fears and enjoy the experience. Here we were, two single girls in a big city without parents or steady-lovers. The world was ours. All we had to worry about was money.

“Caroline, I don’t have much money so we have to return home tonight.” I begged.

“Stuff and stuff!” she laughed. “Tonight we get laid! We celebrate and for that we need new dresses, perhaps a hairstyle and you HAVE to change your colours.” With this last, she held my hands to show my pale pink nails. “This doesn’t go with your skin. I don’t know why you would wear pink with brown skin and blue hair. Fortunately, I have credit with the Merchant’s Guild. So let me deal with the cost.”

Why was I allowing her to make my decisions for me? I was the one who decided that I wanted to be a Warrior and from then on she took over. But having someone wash my hair and massage my feet and paint my nails and make my face was a wonderfully sensual experience. Then we went to a dress shoppe and found something to accent our figures. Caroline didn’t have my bust size so she chose something high necked and tight around her ass but bought me a dress cut almost to my nipples and with a long skirt. Then, as the sun set, we found a club where we could dance and drink and snack.

Fortunately, my worries about the cost were groundless. Once we entered the club, Caroline announced that I was enlisting in Star Fleet at Yule and from then on, we never opened our purses, for boys and men and women spent hours buying us drinks and snacks and other foods I never knew existed and we danced so much with so many people neither of us was able to gain a gram of weight. Finally we each allowed a nice looking boy to take us away and rent a room where we spent the rest of the night enjoying ourselves. Somehow watching your best friend get well-fucked while the same is being done to you in the same bed is extremely exciting and we fed on each other’s pleasure. Then after the boys were finally exhausted, we made love to each other not caring if we were watched or not and fell asleep in each other’s arms with me caressing her face with the tip of my tail.

A few hours later I woke up with a weight on top of me as my lover slid inside. Good thing Weir get wet really easy. I pretended to be asleep as I love to be waken up this way and can’t have it very often, living under my parent’s roof and all. Eventually I noticed something different and opening my eyes, discovered that my early morning lover was Caroline’s from last night. Mine was gone. I looked around and we were alone so I relaxed and enjoyed the experience, gentle as it was compared to the passion of last night.

When we were done, he lay there and asked, “Are you really joining Star Fleet or was that a ruse to get free drinks?” When I answered in the affirmative he began to babble about how his father had been in the Navy back on Terra and how he was thinking of enlisting too and so on until I shushed him. “Be quiet and just hold me,” I told him, touching his lips with my fingers. Why do boys have to ruin good sex with insane braggado? It isn’t as if he were someone special like Geraldo. He was simply something to do last night to celebrate.

Eventually, he grew soft enough and slid out and embarrassed, made some excuse about work and got dressed. I slid a pillow under my hips as I didn’t want to loose his warm wetness yet and watched him dress. Flat belly, nice pecs, tight ass, still decent looking this morning. I guess Caroline and I weren’t as drunk last night as we thought. After he left, promising to call me, though I noticed he forgot to ask for my vid-code, I got up and ran into the bathroom to pee. Caroline was there in the shower alone so after finishing, I joined her and we giggled about the boys we picked up and those we didn’t as we soaped and scrubbed each other’s back and hair. Her human capacity and desire for sex wasn’t as great as mine though she did seem to enjoy it more when it happened so although I wanted more, she gently pushed me away and I accepted her rejection with good graces.

After dressing and packing our clothes, we left the Inn and spent the afternoon playing tourist. The Caer Cyprian Plaza had more heads piked, but I expected that as this WAS the Baronial capital. But there were the same monuments as home, only different statues on top and the north view was blocked by the mass of the Liberatory. Like home, there were children playing though none here were naked so I suppose the locals could afford to replace torn clothing easier than we could. I wore my brother’s old clothes until I was six when mother made my first dress. It took me forever to learn how to play and sit in one, I was so used to pants. All the people here were as polite as at home though those who weren’t were obviously off-worlders and unfamiliar with our customs. I even noted a couple of Mon staring at a Morgor head on a pike and their horrified looks said that they didn’t approve of the practice. Well, if that Morgor didn’t want his head removed and stuck on a pike in the plaza for all to see, he shouldn’t have invaded our country! If people don’t want peace, they will avoid war through fear. And what we did to the Alphas made a lot of people fear us and caused even the Skree to back off. Our Barony may be large in territory but our population was small and mostly peasant farmers so our survival depended on avoiding war.

Eventually Caroline dropped me of at home and I hung my new dress up, caressing it’s lines and wondering if I would be able to wear it again, then back to the life of a peasant girl. Feeding rundi, shoveling shit, shucking peas and winnowing corn was my life it seemed. Winter was approaching as we needed to ensure that we had enough food in store to feed the stock through the Winter snows.

Finally my 18th birthday was approaching. I was born a few weeks before Yule so always felt special, almost sharing the same birthday as the Sun-God and asked my parents to make this year special as I was coming of legal age (we’d celebrate my coming of reproductive age in about seven years) and had a special announcement to make. I also emphasized that ALL of my grandparents must be there with my friends and family. I had been seeing a lot of Geraldo lately and mother was probably thinking that I was going to ask permission to be courted or something.

Now we Drakonans love a party and celebrate all of our life stages. Birth, first puberty, legal age, second puberty, marriage, divorce, death… if we can celebrate and party, we will and I wanted this one to be special. So the week beforehand we gathered food and drink, both wine and mead and fruit juices for my Arab family never touched alcohol while my French-German relatives never had a meal without wine. I wasn’t fully looking forward to this event as sometimes accusations of race and religion would be tossed and a fight would ensue so we removed all the breakables and made certain that the furniture was strong and bolted to the floor. And in between cooking and cleaning, Caroline and her sisters spent a lot of time over helping out because you can’t expect two women to cook for as many dozens as I hoped would attend. I even managed to pack my things in secret, steal some time with Geraldo and confess my fears and hopes to Caroline.

The day came, my birthday morning. Caroline and I walked to the family Circle and cut our wrists, clasped hands to allow the blood to mix and swore sisterhood. Papay had told us that the worst thing about soldiering was the loneliness. You had war-buddies that you lived and died with but your family wasn’t there and would never understand what you endured so you never talked about it and letters from home were treasures to be read and read aloud and saved to be read again. I promised to write as often as I could but sometimes that may not be for months so she promised to write more often even if it was to say the same things over again. Then we ran to the house to finish preparations as family had been moving in since yesterday and I was sharing my small bedroom with two girl-cousins and four nieces and nephews. Fransua and Eric fared no better and we even had beds in the dining and family rooms.

For the most part we were able to keep my grandparents apart. My uncles and aunts generally kept to themselves as the Arabs had little in common with the Europeans though my cousins made a habit of patrolling and whenever they found someone talking in Arabic or French or German, they’d drag them over to the other family side and force them to mingle and talk in Spanglic. Caroline’s sisters tended to spend most of their time around the buffet table enjoying the attentions of all the strange men, human and Weir. But despite all our efforts, most of the men managed to gather to talk sports. Which Hurling team would take the Cup, which horse should we bet on, did we really need another soccer league. Were rabbuck races better than horse races, and so on. And the women tended to gather in the woman’s room to weave and talk about babies. I did notice that the Weir grandchildren managed to cross the barriers often for my brother Eric loved to weave rugs and no one dared to call him effeminate. He even tried to talk babies and sports with the women but once a mother nurses, her mind goes blank for awhile. Even Caroline had personal experience with his ‘love’ for the ladies and I often wondered if Eric started to weave so he could get the girls into bed then learned to love weaving or if he loved to weave and later discovered it was a good way to find multiple bed-partners?

Finally, I called for attention and stood on the table to make my announcement. I curtseyed to Papay and grandpa Ali and grandma Ayiesha then to the family Homestone and shrine and started, “Respected Elders, beloved family, gracious friends. Today I am a legal adult and so can make my own life and I have something special to say to you all. Please do not think ill of me but I’ve been thinking of this for almost a year and wish you to know of my path.”

My mother, I noted was looking at Geraldo and thinking of him in her house as a son-in-law when I continued. “Today at sunset I turned 18. Tomorrow at Sunrise…. (I looked to Caroline for support) I join Star Fleet!” I rushed through the rest before my family could register my words. “So please give me your blessings and …” That’s as far as I got. The room exploded in verbal violence in four languages. Fortunately, the Arabs couldn’t understand the German, French or Yiddish profanity any more than the Europeans could understand the Arabic insults. But I could hear them all as I had been raised speaking all of my family’s languages.

“It’s all your fault” “That slutty Scot did this” “If you had kept her a virgin” “She should be decently married by now” “A woman, soldering with Lanai” “Why did you allow her to bed that Mexican” “She’s going to be sent home in a jar” “What if she’s crippled” “It’s that Arab raising she had” “It’s that Jewish raising she had” “It’s that Catholic raising she had” “It’s that German raising she had” and so on. No one can blame another person more than a Jew or an Arab and I had enough of both. So I left the room, took my bag and left the house intending to hitchhike the 2000 kilometers to Caer Cyprian that very night.

I was saying goodbye to Sasha, the rundi I had raised from a calf but who now towered over me by a good two meters when someone wrapped a blanket over my shoulders. I hadn’t even noticed the cold, I was so upset. “Families are a pain sometimes, aren’t they?” asked Eric as he leaned against the paddock. My other brother, Fransua was on the other side of me. “If you plan to take me back, I can’t stop you but you’ll know I tried and in the morning, you can’t stop me from leaving.” Both my brothers were older and bigger than me but that only forced me to learn to fight dirty and I prepared to do as much damage as I could before they tied me up and dragged me home.

Fransua just tossed a rock at the lebballies eating a fresh pile of rundi shit and said, “I always knew you would leave us. Eric will inherit the farm and I either work for him and wait 500 years for him to die off or leave and Homestone my own land. But I hoped to leave before you did.” Eric continued, “We love you Ayiesha. I know we don’t say it often but you are our sister and we want the best for you and if going off and fighting on some foreign world that even the Gods have forgotten is your desire, then all we can do is to bless your decision. Besides, for the first time the family is united. Even Grandpa Ali is talking to Father. And how did you get Papay to side with you?”

Fransua finished, “Mother sent us out to slaughter a lamb or two so you may as well help.”

Lamb? We only ate lamb at Ramadin or Harvest! I hoped that they weren’t planning to pack me off to some harem or convent. But we chose a couple fat ones that had been weaned and explained our need to the yews then took our future meal to the slaughter shed where Eric blocked their nerves so they wouldn’t feel anything and apologized to them for what we were about to do. We then stripped naked to avoid ruining our clothes and Fransua tied their ankles while I slid the pan under them to catch their blood. We took a moment to pray for their souls and thank them for their meat then, making certain that the nerve block was working and they were asleep, we carefully slit their throats and mourned them until the blood stopped flowing. I bottled the blood and stuck it in the cooler for later then helped my brothers skin and gut the lambs, saving the entrails for the falanxes and ravines and the skin for clothing. Then we washed the blood off ourselves in the shower, wrapped the carcasses in burlap and carried them to the house where a pit was already burning.

For the rest of the night we cut slices of lamb, drank and everyone pretended that all was well. Even some of my Arab uncles drank mead for although Mohammed had forbade the grape, mead was fermented honey. Even my Papay remembered to not point the bottoms of his feet towards his Arab in-laws and to hand drinks with his right hand, so much did he want to avoid an argument with the people he normally disliked.

Mother took me aside and asked me to help her with the dishes which as an excuse but I went anyway. “Ayiesha, my dearest child, how much you’ve grown. I remember when I used to hold you in one hand as you suckled at my own breast and now you are almost a woman yourself.” She sighed then continued, “When I was your age, I was still nursing Eric and discovered that I was pregnant with Fransua. Do you know I once had dreams of being a dancer? I was taught to belly dance when I was younger and I wanted to be a professional and tour the Barony and have people love me for my art. Instead I met your father and my parents were horrified. They wanted him killed for … deflowering… me but then I wasn’t pure any more so they were forced to allow us to marry or have me at home forever or until they could find some old man who didn’t care about a maidenhead.”

She looked out the window and gathered her thoughts. “It’s been hard raising Weir children. You three are so different from my own brothers and sisters. You are all so logical and passionate and smarter than I could ever be. I speak Arabic and Spanglic and only a few words of German or French yet you learned them all before you were five. You had only 6 years of school but know more than your uncle Mohammed who teaches at the university. And… (she whispered) sex, it was painful and bloody and I hated it at first and it took me months to enjoy my duty to your father but you loved it from the first. I was ashamed when you told me about that sex party but remember what I asked?”

“Yes mama, you asked if I enjoyed it and I said ‘very much’ and you said ‘I’m glad’.”

“Ayiesha, my baby child, I gave up my dreams for your father and a family and the life of a farmer. But sometimes, (and she looked around before she continued) when your father is gone and you kids are away, I open my secret box and dress in my veils and dance again.

“Don’t be like me. Don’t resent your family for the life they made you live. Don’t regret not chasing your dreams. Enjoy your life because someday, you’ll have children and a home and your memories will warm your soul when all you want to do is throw the children out the window, smash your husband’s head with a frying pan and run screaming into the fields.

“I love your father dearly and I’m glad I married him and I love you three so much if anything happens to you, I’ll die but sometimes, I wish my life had been different. Go dear, with my blessing and don’t be my daughter, be Ayiesha.”

I was crying then and held my mother and wished that I were a baby again so she could pick me up and rock me but she was right. I had to be me.

Near sunrise, I wandered around, covering relatives with blankets so they wouldn’t freeze, making certain that the babies were fed and changed, putting the left-over food away, dusting the walls until my father took me aside and said, “You’re stalling. If this is your wish, I’ll support you. But please don’t die.” Then he did something he hadn’t done since before I grew breasts and our relationship changed, he took me in his arms and hugged me. “I love you Muffin and wish only the best for you.” Then he released me and turned away before I could notice that he was crying, but I did.

Caroline was asleep in my bed with two of my baby cousins and I couldn’t find Geraldo so I took my bag and left the house without good-byes. My brothers were waiting for me with the ground-car and they drove me to the town and waited with me for the monorail to Caer Cyprian. Neither of us said a word the entire time. Finally the station-worker came over and told me that my tube was ready to leave so I stood, hugged and kissed my brothers and climbed aboard and fastened the safety harness. Just before the tube launched, I saw my brothers crying and holding each other. I know that we were all thinking the same thing, would we ever see each other again.

3 Holly, 61

Dear family and loved ones,
I’m sorry I have to send the same letter to you all but I am so busy here training that I barely have time to sleep.
I arrived at the Customs office on my 18th birthday late in the evening. The monorail tube must have been traveling at hundreds of kilometers an hour but even then I fell asleep and was awakened at the station where I took my bag and returned to the office of Group Captain Anaba. I was honoured that she recognized me and acted as if she knew that I’d return. There were no contracts to sign, she simply took me to a medical lab where I stripped naked and was scanned to the molecular level. Then she gave me some coveralls like the ones workers wear only these were sky-blue and had the starburst sign of the Fleet on the shoulder. I was allowed my own undergarments until I could get some regulation ones. Then I was taken to the spaceport where I had a few minutes to wait for a shuttle. I watched the whales scratch themselves on the posts to remove parasites and was amazed at how large they were. I thought rundis were big but these sperm whales were easily a hundred meters long. I am told that they are almost extinct on Earth and survive in any numbers only because we are not allowed to hunt them here.

Finally, I was called over and loaded onto a Gothrock shuttle bearing the Star Fleet Crest. The shuttle could hold easily five passengers and the pilot but only I and another Lanai were on board. There were no windows but my co-passenger showed me how to activate the screen that imitated a window so I could watch the travel. I expected to leave Gaea and go to some space station but we simply flew south-east so high and fast I couldn’t see anything but clouds. After a few minutes we landed and I was taken to a room with a dozen Lanai, some human, some Weir, all with white to dark brown skin and every colour of hair you can imagine. I was the shortest, almost a half a head below the next shortest and easily a head below the tallest. If the Baron engineered Lanai to imitate human and Weir, he made them bigger than we are. I learned later that these Lanai may look a few years older than me but they were all recently ‘born’ from the bio-vats and so were only a few months old. Imagine, any baby that young can do naught but cry, suckle and shit but these were ready to train as soldiers.

We were told to line up and stood at attention with our feet slightly apart, our backs straight, chest out, hands at our sides and tails wrapped around our right ankle. We followed the Trainer with our eyes and heads as she walked back and forth talking and examining us. Grandpapay, this was nothing like the training you described. No yelling or punishment, just teaching us how to work together and fight and think as a team. I was too nervous to remember everything she said but it went something like this;

“I am Trainer Birkita 74. Listen well for all that I say has importance. You are all here for one reason, to defend the Barony of Drakonis. Your lives exist for only that reason. You will serve the Baron as he desires and give your fealty to the Barony. Nothing else matters. You are Warrior Cast, born and bred for battle and so are a Class apart from those we defend. But ever remember that our task is to defend the civilians so treat them well for without the civilian population of Drakonis, we have no purpose. You will train and work and study and fight and live and die for these people. Care for them and they will return that service with respect.

“You will be given tasks that seem empty but every job you do is THE most important job in Star Fleet. If you fail to clean the latrine well, parasites and disease can decimate an entire company. If you fail to tamp the ground well, a building can collapse. If you fail to inflate a tire properly, a blow-out can crash a vehicle so take care and take pride in even the smallest tasks for these are the foundation upon which a battle is won.”

Then she sent us to a classroom where we began our studies. First there were tests to determine our skills and talents. I learned that all Lanai are born from the vat with the same basic programming in language, customs, basic schooling but they quickly become different with separate personalities and skills. Lanai are as different from each other as are we. I never thought of that but somehow it makes me feel calmer and not so different. No one here expected to fail and none of them expected me to fail either even though I, as a Weir, was to them as a human is to a Weir. They would simply find a task that I could do well. There was also no say as to how long I would remain. No three year enlistment for me, I am here for as long as I wished or until I died in combat.

So I spent that first week getting used to my new life. We did tai chi and yoga in the morning, then ate breakfast, then classroom studies on astronomy, technology, medicine, history and other advanced sciences that I’d learn at home only if I could afford to attend a university. Then Martial Arts and then lunch then more classroom of a practical nature such as tactics, logic, weapons and then field exercises such as field combat, then dinner followed by mental exercises like logic puzzles, chess, go and other such things that are useful in war and ethical dilemma’s followed by heavy team sports like hurling and soccer then a light meal and a very short time to relax. I haven’t written before because I was so exhausted I fell asleep as soon as I was released. I thought the farm kept me in shape but I was a child when I came here. Fortunately, we don’t compete but are encouraged to assist each other. Lanai have no families so they adopt each other as such and care for and help the slower ones, of which I admit I belong.

I am also discovering that my innate telepathic abilities are expanding and often I know what is expected of me before they tell me. This is useful as it helps us to work as a team without the problem of words slowing our actions. It also explains how Group Captain Anaba knew we were waiting for her. I’ve also discovered something interesting. Lanai are not made as human or Weir, they are both and neither. They change with their mood. When I first saw Birkita, she was a green-skinned, blue-haired Weir then the next day she was the same colour but human. Another day her hair colour had changed and another her skin colour. She looked the same physically and I could easily tell it was her, only she, like all Lanai could change her skin or hair colour at will and shift from human to Weir form. I don’t know why they do this other than they must get bored looking the same as we get bored wearing the same clothes and hair-style all the time.

Tomorrow we are on a field exercise. Something about wilderness survival so I expect to do well since I’m used to catching and cleaning my own food.

I miss you all very much and keep your pictures by my bed. The Lanai come over to look at them and ask about you all and what it’s like to have a family. I think that they are jealous of me for having you in my life.

Much love,
Ayiesha.


27 Holly 61

Dearest friends and family,
I miss you all so much I sometimes cry myself to sleep.

What I thought was a chance to show off turned into the most disgusting event of my life, and I’ve shoveled rundi shit and changed diapers. We were loaded aboard two shuttles and flown to some wilderness area then when we off-loaded we were told to strip naked and toss our clothing into the shuttle which was closed. Then we spent a week in the field. Birkita showed us how to chip stone into knives and axes and scrapers, make spears and bows and rope from grass and wood, make snares, what insects to eat and how to make fire and even how to recycle our own urine into drinking water. At first I refused but by the second day, I as so hungry and thirsty I didn’t hesitate. Birkita said that in any war, never rely on technology because eventually you will run out of ammunition or your computer will crash or your power cells will drain and you will be forced to fight with whatever you have on hand and can make for yourself. Despite this all, we still did our tai chi and yoga and martial arts every day though having my breasts bounce around as I’m fighting naked took some getting used to. How I envied those human girls with their tiny-titties. And the Lanai were as well-endowed as was I. And we fight full contact all the time. I can’t count the number of bruises and cuts I had to nurse. One Lanai even broke my arm during a match and instead of stopping, she took advantage of my scream of pain to knock me unconscious. I woke up later with my arm in a brace and Birkita telling me that in war, we ignore pain and keep fighting. Then she showed me how to turn off pain so I could keep on. I don’t hold my injury against her as I would have been expected to do the same and over dinner we were still buddies.

The first thing I did when we returned to base was to jump into the hottest shower I could stand and scrub the dirt from my skin. Then I went to the med-techs to have the lice removed from my hair. I almost cut it but having long hair is the only feminine thing I have here. No one wears cosmetics or attractive clothing or even acts like a woman. I’m beginning to forget that I am one too so I spend time on my hair and will kill for a lipstick.
More later,

As always, all my love,
Ayiesha.


7 Wolf, 62

Dearest Caroline,
I absolutely LOVE you. I received your package today along with mother’s cookies and passed the cookies around to the other Lanai (see how I am thinking of myself as one) but the lipstick, shampoo and eye liner you sent was the best gift I could have. No one cares if I wear it and no one asks to share, they just think it is some human quirk I have but it helps me remember that I am a woman and I absolutely NEED that now. No one here appreciates this as there are no men or boys (I found out why the Lanai are female) so I wear it to remind me that I am still a woman.

I hope you don’t mind but I read your letter to the team. They didn’t understand the sexual description of your newest boyfriend but I found it hot and jilled myself when I was alone. At least I thought I was alone. It seems that three of the Lanai caught me with my tail between my legs and asked why I did that. How do you explain sex to someone who cannot breed? So I tried to describe it to them and ended up teaching them how to kiss and jill with fingers and tail and tongue. Remember those whores we hired when we were 15 so we could all learn about sex? This was the same only now I was the teacher. Except none of them found the experience particularly enjoyable. None climaxed and they wandered off not understanding my needs at all. By the way, I hope you don’t think ill of me but can you send me a phallus? Nothing special, just something to take the pressure off.

I am in the absolutely best shape I have ever been in. My muscles are firm, I have an ass that is so tight I could stop a hornhead charge, my belly is flat and I’m faster and stronger than ever before. Today I broke a ten centimeter oak log with my fist and never felt a thing. I’m nowhere as fast and strong as the Lanai but damn! I’m good. And my mind, I can do complex math in my mind now. I had a sling with a fake grenade and had to toss it into a bunker and as I swung, the math of where to aim and what angles I needed to bounce just appeared. Astrogation is still difficult but once I read the rutters for the gravity well data and then the navigation math and course plots become so easy to calculate.

I was even placed in charge of a task yesterday. We had to cross a gorge with full field packs and no ropes. So I had to figure out how to get my team across in a hurry and safe to defend some pretend base camp. And I did it! My first leadership position and I succeeded! Can you imagine how wonderful I feel! I know I made the right decision and thank you so much for helping me realize that.
Your loving sister,
A.


17 Chaste, 62

My dearly beloved family,
Please don’t worry about me and try to not listen to the news. But pirates have moved into the Barony and I am assigned to the Medium-Class Cruiser, Flavian. The Commonwealth Star Fleet has been pushing the pirates back and they seem to have settled on the frontier of Drakonis. So far they haven’t done much but hit a couple freighters heading for the outer colonies but the Baron wants them eliminated so the fleet has been pushing them into one system and I am tasked to join the ground teams and clean them out. You may wonder why we don’t just nuke them all from orbit and be done with it but the Kris Wars proved that unless you Super-nova the star, someone will manage to survive any bombardment. And the Baron refuses to destroy a star or planet that can be saved so we kill as many as we can from orbit then clean the remainder from the ground.

Don’t worry as the Baron also refuses to loose personal so he gives us the best equipment he can find and reminds us that WE are his most valuable resource so never take a chance. Risk conducive with mission success.

I’ll write more when it’s over. Love,
Ayiesha


1 Chaste, 62

Dear Caroline,
Training has been stepped up for reasons I cannot tell you. But I am learning how to arm in speed and to enter and exit a drop ship. These are incredible craft we buy from the Demons. They are long and narrow with forward and belly deflectors and can go from the ground to orbit in less than a minute, but their main use is to be dropped from a Cruiser and speed to a LZ (what we call a Landing Zone) within seconds to drop off a fire team and them move into the sky to provide air support. When you look at them, you get scared, they look so mean.

I’ve been fitted with the latest in Kentauran battle armour. You read the history books how the Kris held onto Kentaurus until the last. Well, the Kentaurans spent 500 years perfecting battle armour and we use it too. It’s actually grown around me and is a defense against almost anything but weighs mere grams and fits so well, it’s almost as if I were in coveralls. Plus it’s loaded with all sorts of secret weapons and survival gear.

We had some Mon from Star Fleet visit to pass on information that I cannot talk about yet and they were absolutely gorgeous. The problem is, as you know, the Mon are humans who were engineered by the Demons to be three meters tall. Even their women are almost that tall. Plus they have enhanced reflexes and strength and look fabulous. I was so horny and desperate for sex that I asked one to bed and when he undressed, it took my breath away. Broad shoulders, narrow hips, washboard abs and he was only average. When I tried to hug him, my nose was literally in his navel. The problem is that he was equally huge where it counts.

Now I know we talked about sometimes bigger is better but imagine this, bend your arm at your elbow then make a fist. THAT is how he was built. And I’m not imagining as I compared him to my forearm! He scared me to death but you know me, I’ll try anything once. Unfortunately I couldn’t. It hurt so much I couldn’t take even the head (I’m glad I was on top) so I quit but I promised him a time so had to do something. A lot of spit, both hands and finally he climaxed. He shoved my mouth over the head which was too large to take and his stream choked me till I felt like I was drowning. There was so much it was like that rundi we watched rub himself on that bale of hay a few years ago. So he dressed and left and I was so frustrated and angry I thought I was going to die but was too sore to jill.

Finally I dressed and went to my station and was so bitchy that Abara, one of the Lanai on my team, asked what was wrong. I told her how we Weir were engineered and how that forces us to have sex regularly and how I was suffering from the lack. Then I told her about my attempted experience with the Mon and how it left me even more frustrated. I’m afraid that I babbled and she understood not one word as she was only a month or two from the bio-tank and I was the only real person she had met. But we are war-buddies and so she took me by the hand to the crew’s quarters and did me. She needed directions but it helped relieve my frustration enough for me to concentrate.

Later when I saw my Mon ‘lover’ he said something to his friend and they both stared at me and laughed so you can imagine what they were thinking. Abara saw this and asked the Mon Captain if he would mind having one of his men teach her some unarmed combat moves to prepare for the coming battle. He agreed because the Mon, being Engineered soldiers for 500 years and being so big, thought that they were the best anywhere. Well, Abara chose my ‘lover’ as her opponent. Now Abara is short for a Lanai, even centimeters shorter than I am so she just stood there and stared at his crotch in the ring

And when the signal to begin was given, she jumped up and punched him in the belly twice then rolled away. The jerk didn’t go down but he did get mad and jumped her. That’s when one of my other Lanai mates said to me, “If you’re smaller, be faster and hit harder and let their overconfidence work for you.” I realized then that she had pulled her punches to get him angry. Then as he charged, she dropped and stood up under him and drove both fists into his balls so hard he lifted off the ground and landed four meters away. She then jumped onto his back, pulled his head off the ground as if she as going to snap it (which she could easily have done) and whispered something into his ear that no one could hear then let him go.

I don’t know what she said to him but after he was released from the med-lab with a rebuilt hip and replacement testicles, he sent me a note of apology and promised to be polite to us forever more.
I love my war-buddies. Love;
A.


16 Hare, 62

Dear Caroline,
By now you know the news and got the letter I sent to everyone but here is more that I didn’t tell them.

First of all, I met the Baron himself! Can you imagine. He was busy planning the assault from the Yossarian but he led the assault himself with Field Marshall Andromeda and Field Marshall Cassiopeia in a three-pronged attack. We managed to back the pirates onto one world, then surrounded the planet and destroyed every ship that tried to escape. Almost our entire fleet was there, 18 Cruisers and over a thousand Demon mercenary ships. We always wondered what happened to all those Termagants and Fiends that the Demons engineered when the Kris Wars ended and now we know. The Baron hired them to patrol the frontier. They get land to roam and plenty of alcohol and chocolate and they are a ready source of military might when we need them. And I always thought the Baron bought all that alcohol and chocolate for export to be rich.

Well, the fleet bombarded the planet and took out the pirate defenses and shields and we blasted their ground personnel from orbit until we were certain that no one was left alive. Then we loaded into drop ships and that was scary. I’ve done a dozen drops but none into combat. I’m glad my battle armour had a diaper in it. One second we were strapped into the drop ship plugged into the command computer with three battle striders strapped in the middle, then the bottom of the Cruiser opened and we were shoved down to the planet at 3+ gravities acceleration. Even the inertial dampers couldn’t stop all the force and I almost lost my breakfast during the descent. It took less than ten seconds to travel the 1500 kilometers from the ship to the surface. As soon as we were a few hundred meters above ground level, the drop ship opened missile bays and pulse lasers and slug-throwers and moved in at mach-5 to the LZ. Suddenly the drop ship stopped, landed and the rear hatch was open before we touched down. My team was out and to the port, the other team out and starboard and the striders were rolled out on their platforms. Then the drop ship was away instantly and cruising around giving us air cover while the striders unlatched and moved into defense positions.

Team leader Nanihi had us move to some ruins that somehow survived the bombardment and we took cover as the drop ship screamed overhead lasers and slug-throwers blazing. We charged the ruins and found a small band of pirates holed up under a cloaked shield firing at the drop ship so we laid down some suppressing fire to take the heat off the drop ship (they would have ambushed and killed us all had the drop ship not spotted them) and the striders came forward and finished them off. I was so scared that I didn’t have time to think. I just linked with my team and did our job.

After we killed the wounded pirates and moved on, Nanihi stopped me and pointed out a scar on my chest armour. A HV round had glanced off my breast-plate gouging a six centimeter groove. Had it hit direct, I would have lost a lung at least and probably my heart. That’s when I peed in my armour. She just laughed and had me take flank.

We had three more fights over the next three days but with striders and drop ships and Demons, we didn’t loose anyone. Damn those drop ships are good. Fast! Armoured! Armed with almost anything you want, I’ve heard Lanai say that having a drop ship scream overhead was better than any body armour or shield you could possess.

And the Demons, they wear no armour at all save their own scales and prefer to fight with axes and clubs and swords though they also carry beamers that are far more powerful than ours are. We were pinned down by some pirates and before the drop ships could arrive, a small swarm of Demons ran passed us and hit the pirates. I almost got sick at the carnage and even the Lanai are afraid of facing a Demon in combat.

During that week of exploration on the world to hunt down any survivors we all submitted our designs for the combat ribbon (mine is enclosed) and voted for the top three. Then when the pirate War was declared officially won, we all voted on the ribbon we wanted to wear (also enclosed). Remember how we saw those first Lanai wearing their ribbons on their sleeves, well I have one now. I missed wearing a braid because that round glanced off but sewing that ribbon onto my jacket was the proudest moment of my life.

But I lived and am intact and now can walk down the street knowing that I did well for my Barony.

By the way, I promised to tell you why all, or most Lanai are female shaped. Well it seems that the Baron built the first Lanai, Andromeda, before there was a Barony. He was a Terran Human abducted by the Demons and changed by them into the first Weir. But, the only women in the Commonwealth were Mon, which as you know are too ‘big’ for us to fuck, and so he was desperate for someone to talk to and fuck so he built Andromeda and later Cassiopeia as companions. He made them to fit his own desires and the rest just continued the design. They both were with him when he crashed on Kentaurus during the Kris Wars and were there five years fighting until the Commonwealth won the war. Now the first two have become Field-Marshals and practically run the military.

Love always,
A.

p.s. Don’t tell anyone about my almost being killed. I don’t want mother to worry.
a.

I took leave after the Pirate War was over. I wanted to see my family and relax and even shovel some rundi shit. So the Flavian landed at the Caer Cyprian spaceport and I went into the city with my bag and still wearing my uniform. People bowed and curtseyed to me and I felt so special. A few months ago I was just another Peasant girl and today I was a decorated Warrior and people showed me respect.

I was hungry and my tube to Caer Bridget was still a couple of hours away so I stopped into a restaurant for a meal and the entire place stood and bowed and curtseyed to me. I was so embarrassed I didn’t know what to do. So I smiled and said “Thank you” to them all. I think that was when they realized that I wasn’t a Lanai but a Weir. And the next thing that happened was so incredible even I don’t believe it.

Off to the side was Kimama herself! Imagine, the Devil at Drakonis. Dictator of the entire Barony! Leader of four dozen star systems. She walked up to me, can you believe it, and said, “Mistress Warrior, thank you for defending my Barony. Please, take my table and enjoy your meal.” What could I do? I tried to curtsey to her but she refused to allow it and held my chair for me. I was so embarrassed and so honoured at this. Then she asked if she could share my table if you believe that. ‘My’ table. The one she gave to me! I couldn’t refuse and didn’t know how to treat this honour so I apologized for my lack of manners and education and she laughed and sat, telling me that it as she who was honoured by my presence.

We talked for the entire meal and I learned so much about her. Those scars you see on her face in the vids are smallpox scars. It’s a Terran disease that the Americans would use to kill their enemies without risking soldiers. In her case, Kimama was an Indian of a warrior tribe called Commanche when the American army gave the women of her tribe blankets infected with this disease. They felt that if they could kill the women and children they could eliminate the entire tribe and take their lands. It worked. Only Kimama and her brother survived and were saved by Colonial. She refuses to allow the scars to be removed as she wants to remember how evil a government can become when it allows their goals to overcome their morals. So every morning she looks at herself and remembers the price she paid and swears to never be like that. I guess that is why she is still Devil after all these years. She also asked me about my past, my family and what we did and thought. She said that a leader who isolates herself from her people forgets that she serves the people.

I think that is why Lanai never have their battle scars removed. It reminds people of the price freedom costs.

After our meal, she kissed me and thanked me for the company and conversation and we parted.

By then I missed my tube but Caroline arrived with my brothers and parents in a rented flivver. They had been looking for me and found me by asking at the Liberatory, which traced a Weir Warrior at a certain restaurant eating with the Devil. I was so happy to see them all I cried and hugged and kissed them all. So Caroline led me to the flivver and took me home where my family was waiting with a party. They had heard the news about the war and were so happy I was safe they ordered me immediately to resign and remain home where I was safe.

Well, before the lunch with the Devil I might have agreed but now I knew how important my job was. So I explained to them all that I loved them dearly but this was my profession and that I was good at it, and that I believed that what I did against the pirates directly led to their safety so I couldn’t abandon them to whatever would happen if I left the Fleet.

They tried to argue but I could see that they were so proud of me that any arguments were token.

All that week, I had visitors who brought me gifts and congratulations and honours. Mother and father, it seems, had been bragging to everyone about their daughter who was now Warrior Class and how much a hero I was during the Pirate War. I tried to tell them that I did nothing special but Papay told me that to them, I was a hero. I told him how I peed my armour during my first battle and he laughed and said he did that every time he went over the top of the trenches. But he went over anyway because he had to. He also said that when I stop being afraid, I need to start to worry.

Well, Geraldo was there and as soon as I could, I took him aside and made up for lost time. I hadn’t had a man in months and the only thing that kept me going was the phallus Caroline sent and a couple experiences with sympathetic Lanai. By the time we were done, he was exhausted and I was really happy so we returned to the house holding hands and smiling.

The next day I was at the quarry with Caroline sunning myself. It was only a year before that we were here and I was paler than I imagined I could be. There is no real UV aboard ships so I had lost most of my melanin and was a very light brown, almost white, and I was anxious to get my colour back. Besides, I missed the life I once led. Not enough to return to though I loved talking to Caroline and sharing our lives. We swam, talked about boys and went shopping for the Fleet gave me a Merchant’s Credit to enable me to purchase what I wanted and needed.

Everything was the same, nothing had changed but me and somehow, rather than being upsetting because I had grown and my friends had not, I found the continuity somehow comforting. Life was easy and I slid back into my old life with no effort. I even enjoyed shoveling after the rundis. But eventually all good things have to end so I packed my things and returned to the big city and caught a shuttle to my ship where I continued to train and follow my duty.

23 Wort, 61

Dearest Caroline;
I cannot tell you what happened. But I need to talk to someone about it so I’ll try. We received a distress signal from a Class IV freighter out past our borders. We didn’t have to answer because it was in free space where you take your chances but we did anyway because if we saved lives, it would be worth the effort.

It took us almost a day to reach the ship and when we found it, the hull was holed by blaster fire and there were no energy or life signs. Obviously the ship was attacked by an unknown predator but we couldn’t tell if it was pirate, Shitai or Skree or anyone else.

We boarded in full armour and found the ship gutted which meant pirates but the log mentioned ten passengers and Class IVs normally take a crew of ten and with only four bodies killed by blaster fire, that meant fourteen missing. We scanned the area but found no bodies in space but we did find the trail of a ship. I won’t go into details of this other than to say that every kind of drive leaves a residue of some sort and that can be used to determine the kind of engine and the direction it went. With some, we can tell the kind of ship and even follow it.

So we followed the direction, dropping from warp occasionally to be certain that we were still following the ship and eventually about 800 light years from Drakonis, we picked up a mass disturbance in space. When traveling at hyper-light speed, all you can detect are mass disruptions and the size and velocity of that disruption tells you if it is a planet or star or ship and this one was a ship so we took a chance and managed to get it out of warp where we could look it over.

The Ship Captain said it was Green Pirates from a world about 200 light years ahead and when we scanned the ship, we found some human bio-signs so before the pirates could return to warp, we holed their engines and prepared to board. Of course they attacked us but our shields were stronger and we destroyed their weapons and shields and then docked and boarded.

I had never seen a Green Pirate before and the vids they gave me before we boarded weren’t pretty. I didn’t have time to scan them all so had only the basics when we moved in. They were five meters tall, green skin, eyes on the sides of their heads that moved independently, cup-like ears and tusks that grew from their lower jaw to their forehead. They also had two legs, two arms and two limbs between those that could be either arms or legs. They were also well muscled and well-armed.

When we boarded the fighting was nasty but we had personal shields and they didn’t so our injuries were limited to a few minor shrapnel wounds that happened when they tried to blow the airlock with large explosives. We eventually managed to kill all thirty of them because they refused to surrender and like Demons, they fought hard and had to be almost blown apart or cooked through before they would die.

We found the survivors of the Class IV… or what was left of them. Caroline, the Green Pirates had tortured them horribly. They didn’t need to so they did it for fun! What I saw made me vomit in my space suit and you know that on the farm, I had butchered many an animal but what happened here was ….. I can’t even bare to think of it. Some were still alive and screaming when we entered the hold and I don’t know how they could have been alive with what little I saw.

Then mercifully, a booby-trap charge blew the cargo hatch and sucked the victims and most of us into space. At least the decompression put them out of their misery and we were lucky that we still had our suits on.

I floated there in space for a long time before shuttles from the Flavian found me and retrieved me.

Caroline, it was horrible and I’ll have nightmares all my life because of that. And the worst thing is that we cannot go after their homeworld because the attack took place in free space. We could kill the Green Pirates that did that act but not their homeworld or government. I wish, and I hate myself for saying this, but I wish that they had taken the freighter inside our borders so we could turn their planet into an asteroid belt.

All that happened last night and I cried myself to sleep over those poor people. Whenever I close my eyes, I see them and what happened to them and I don’t know how to deal with that.
A.


17 Mead, 63

Dear beloved ones,
The Shitai are moving in again. That lull since the Second Shitai War was just for them to re-arm and they seem to be based on Sothis, a world on the frontier and in disputed territory. The Commonwealth considers it to be Drakonan but as we haven’t yet put a colony there, the Shitai insist that it is open for anyone. We know that if they remain, they will arm Sothis and invade the rest of the Barony so His Grace notified the Commonwealth of his intent to take Sothis from the Shitai and if anyone objected, to let him know fast. All the comments from the Commonwealth Senate were 10 to 0 with two not voting in favour of the war. Of course they would say that. If the Shitai armed Sothis, the Barony would fall quickly and then with all of our Class-M worlds so close to Kos, they would invade the Commonwealth.

Well, when the Baron accepted that the Commonwealth wasn’t going to do anything but would support our action, he mobilized the fleet and we blockaded Sothis. A Shitai fleet tried to pass but we destroyed them with minor losses. They may outnumber us but they rely on jump technology and we use warp drive so we are faster and more manuverable than they are. Plus our weapons and shields are Demon adaptions of Skree technology so are far better than anything outside the Commonwealth. It only took four of our Cruisers to destroy the two dozen ships the Shitai sent in and soon we will be ready to attack in force. He is waiting to ensure that their ground forces are isolated and our cruisers return from destroying all the possible jump points between the Shitai Empire and Drakonis.

So right now all I have to do is man a gun blister in the hull of the Flavian and wait until the word comes through to drop. I may not be able to write again until this is over but don’t worry for me, I seem to lead a charmed life with so many of you asking the Gods to protect me.

Much love,
Ayiesha

I’m thinking about that last letter I sent and can’t help but think about how wrong I was.

We bombarded the Shitai holdings and pretty much steralized their landing and living areas but remembering the Pirate Wars, they may have troops under shields and cloaks that we can’t find. So we had no choice but to drop. All our intelligence estimated less than 200 Shitai on the surface and this was based on scans of their buildings before we destroyed them from orbit. It’s like you look at a city from the air and count the number of houses. Then you figure out how many people can live in each house and you compare that number to the amount of food you can find and how many people that amount of food can feed and so on. There are a lot of factors to consider and each has to be compared with each other to get a good idea.

The experts calculated 10,000 Shitai originally on site and we scanned the bodies of over 9,000 before the word to drop was given. Every time we located a group, they were killed from the air so estimates of 800 more dead were made leaving only 200 left. Then His Grace said that he’d been in many a war where the experts had underestimated the foe and he had lost too many men and lovers because of that, so he wasn’t going to take any chances. If all the data said 200 Shitai were left, he would plan on meeting 2,000 and if there were only 50 on site, then he wouldn’t loose anyone and would sleep well.

That is what I like about His Grace. He was a soldier long before he was an officer and a leader and he’d seen so many good men sent to their deaths that he didn’t want any more to die uselessly. That’s why there are so few names on the obelisks at home. He’d rather send a hundred armed Lanai to kill one unarmed foe than risk one Lanai dieing uselessly to save a few credits or to look good to the Media.

So we dropped. We had a dozen cruisers around Sothis with two dozen more watching the borders just in case this was a feint. And with six main class Battleships on patrol, everything seemed to work out. The Barony would be safe.

But the Great God Murphy must have had a bad night with the Goddess Eris because it went wrong. There were 500 Shitai left which was nothing to worry about. We had drop ships covering the sky and striders and Demons on the ground with us and we killed hundreds of them and lost very few Lanai. Unfortunately a group of Shitai went underground and we had to dig them out or they’d hive and eventually take over again. So the Baron led my company after them. We had a hundred Lanai chasing twenty Shitai when somehow, the roof caved in. His Grace and two teams were in advance and we ran forward to avoid the rock fall. I don’t know how many were trapped and crushed but when we tried to dig back, we found mines buried in the rubble. Since we didn’t have the tools to disarm them, we had to move on. Twenty of us against twenty of them.

His Grace said that this was too easy and held us back, making us go slow and careful when they jumped us. Their ambush failed because the Baron was worried about just this event. So he sprung the ambush and dozens of Shitai came at us. We killed and killed and killed and still they came. That twenty was a ruse and by the time they retreated, we counted over seventy five dead Shitai and at least an equal number running. But the cost was high. We had three wounded and less than half our ammunition and power packs left. Myrmadon said that it was a good thing we all paid attention to the survival classes because we’d need them now.

Then Aria noticed while stripping the Shitai bodies that some of them were young, too young. Fuckin-shit! They had a hive hidden so far below ground that our sensors couldn’t find it. They could pop out Shitai forever so we had to find the nest-chamber and destroy it then hunt down and kill the remaining Shitai. There could be hundreds or thousands of them here. And we had only three days field rations with us. His Grace said that if we could get out, he’d evacuate our people and blow the planetary core and worry about moving another planet into the eco-sphere another day. But first we had to survive long enough to get out.

To save energy and ammo, His Grace had us build deadfalls and traps out of whatever we could find and wouldn’t show on their metal detectors and then we’d draw the Shitai in and spring the trap. We’d then strip the bodies of anything useful and hunt some more. Fortunately, being Weir and Lanai, we had excellent night vision and needed very little light to see what was around. Although we need some light, we could easily see in darkness that would blind a human. Unfortunately, the Shitai could ‘see’ in the dark too. But at least it saved us power.

We stretched our rations and supplemented these with Shitai food which gave us diahrrea and headaches but kept us alive. But we remained awaiting support and rescue and planting our traps and killing Shitai.

I think it was on day three, but I’m not certain, that we found the nest. There were thousands of young waiting to be released and hundreds of adults training and feeding and guarding the young. We pulled back and the Baron discussed plans with us. It was always his way to ask for input and ideas, then he’d choose the best and that is what we would do. In this case, we needed to kill the breeders first then the food stores so the Shitai would eat each other then try to stay alive long enough to kill the rest of the Shitai.

We did have grenades from the Shitai we had killed but they were too big to throw and besides, the distances were too far. So we made slings. Ropes with a pouch in the middle. Put an armed grenade in the pouch, swing the ropes to generate centrifugal force then release and toss the grenade far father than anyone could throw. His Grace then looked as us all and ORDERED us to not sacrifice ourselves. There were only twenty of us and some wounded and even one lost warrior would compromise the rest of us. If we couldn’t destroy the brood this time, we’d run away and try again later. Good! That meant that I wouldn’t have to sacrifice my own life to detonate some bomb like they do on the Tri-vids.

When we were ready, we psi’d the order and over a dozen grenades were lobbed over the rocks into the brood. Then we were slinging another load before the first exploded. Confined in that cavern, the sounds deafened us but when we looked over the rise, there must have been hundreds and more dead. We then ran and met up, fortunately alive though some were deaf and two of us would need to re-grow ear drums.

We had set perimeter guards in two waves, the forward guards being watched by the rear and the rest of us were sleeping and resting when I visited the Baron. He had lain against a rock and was reading a book (no one ever saw him without a book) when I excused myself. No one ever bows or curtseys in battle so I said, “Excuse me My Lord, but may I speak?”

“Of course Ayiesha,” he replied, putting his book away.

“My Lord, are we going to live through this?” I was worried but would follow him anywhere.

He laughed and said, “My dear, I’ve been in worse places than this. I was a POW in a cage in Vietnam and tortured daily and still I managed to kill all of my captors and lead three dozen other prisoners to freedom. Another time my company was trapped in a vampire nest in Rumania and we spent three days there cleaning them out. This is neither easier nor harder than those. Besides, the Gods aren’t finished with me yet so I have to live. And if I live, so do you!”

I was happy that he had such confidence as it was always impossible to lie to a Weir or Lanai. All the signals of eye dilation, skin temperature and such that humans cannot see are as a book to us and he wasn’t telling anything but the truth. So I knew that my chances of living through this were very good.

“Is there anything else you need?” he asked. “Otherwise you should get some sleep.”

I was embarrassed to ask but he was Weir, though made Weir and not born Weir, so he should understand. “My Lord, please forgive me for this but… I may be a peasant girl and you a Noble of long Lineage but… “ and I was suddenly more afraid of him than of the Shitai, “…. it has been a long time since I have been with a man and the Lanai try but are not what I need and my need is great and…” I was babbling now and the only thing that stopped me was when he kissed me.

I don’t know if it was stress passion or my frustration for being celebate so long or the fact that here was the Baron of Drakonis, the Supreme military Overlord of four dozen star systems, the main defense for the Twelve Nations of the Commonwealth and all that power turned me on! But whatever the reason, we struggled to remove only as much armour as we needed (I, at least, was afraid to remove too much) and we had a wonderfully satisfying time.

When we were done, I noticed that some of the Lanai had moved closer and were facing outward to protect His Grace while he was so very vulnerable. I tend to be a bit noisy and they were probably afraid that we’d attract attention but they understood that whatever the Baron wanted, the Baron got. And none were about to deny me my needs either. So I snuggled in his arms and we fell asleep with our body armour clanking as we moved around in our sleep.

When the Lanai woke me for my watch, I tried to not wake his Grace and wished that he had woken me instead of the Lanai.

It was hours later that we set an ambush that went wrong. We had killed three of them with spikes and were stripping to bodies when a group of them appeared suddenly and one shot Myrmadon in the belly. She went down but refused to scream and as two Shitai loomed over her to finish her, His Grace leapt from a rock and killed them both with a bayonet. I don’t know how he did it, I only know it happened really fast. Then he picked her up, tossed her over his shoulder and ran for our line with Shitai in pursuit.

We fired back and three Lanai ran out to help him while the rest of us did what we could to kill the Shitai and then it was over. It was then that I realized that I was one of the three and that I was bashing the skull of a Shitai with an empty blaster.

We set another perimeter further out and stopped the bleeding from Myrmadon’s wound. The round had entered her lower belly, passed through her hip bone and exited near the bottom of her left buttock, fortunately damaging nothing vital. Had it been me, I would have lost an ovary and some intestine but Lanai are made of stronger stuff so the wound was serious, but not fatal. After ensuring that she was safe and would live, His Grace then asked if we would fix him, then he passed out with blood running down his head and back. He had been wounded while carrying Myrmadon to safety and refused to mention it until she was safe.

Fortunately, his back armour had stopped most of the blow so the wound was shallow and he only had a broken rib from the impact and a lot of blood from a superficial scalp wound when the round bounced up and cut his skin under the hairline. We packed and braced his rib and glued his cut together then when he tried to stand, we saw one eye slit open for darkness and the other narrow as if there was bright light. His eyes wouldn’t focus so we assumed a concussion and bade him rest. But the Shitai were still attacking and with Myrmadon unconscious, Abara took over and we held them off while I sat on His Grace to keep him from trying to help until the battle was over. He raved a bit about things I didn’t understand as they were in Terran languages but eventually he settled down and in a few hours, the medications had healed him enough for him to return to leading us, though we all kept watch to be certain that he wasn’t crazy from concussion.

We kept hunting and running and killing Shitai for days until I took a plasma round in the side. I only remember a Shitai looming over me then intense heat and pain, and my lungs exploding then nothing until I woke up in a bio-vat. It hurt to breathe, it hurt to move my left arm and it hurt to think. So I lay there waiting for the fluid to drain and the med-techs move me to a bed. I managed to turn my head and saw a dozen bunks filled with Lanai. Across the room were a dozen more. So I passed out for awhile.

When I again woke, I saw His Grace talking to each Lanai. His right arm was in a sling and I could tell that he had bandages under his clothing but he was mobile and in a good mood so I watched him and finally it occurred to me to realize that we had been rescued and that the war was over. We must have won because the Baron wouldn’t be here if there was still fighting. But even this effort of thought hurt so I relaxed and waited for my turn.

I woke up again with him sitting next to my bed reading my chart. I remembered that he had once been a surgeon when he first arrived at Gaea so I guess he understood what was there.

“I see you are awake. Good. We lost too many down there and I don’t want any more to die.”

“My Lord, …. What happened?” and I trailed off.

“Not much. You took a plasma round in the side. It burned through your arm, breastplate and three ribs before it cooked your lung. So we took you back to the main tunnel with Myrmadon and the other seriously wounded and kept on fighting. The next day, our people cleared the tunnel and came down to relieve us. We evacuated you and the other wounded and then cleaned out the rest of the Shitai. We now have war machines searching the caverns but that hive we found appears to be the only one. Just in case, we are bombarding the place with neutrons to kill anything down there.”

We talked a bit more. Well, he talked and I tried to listen until he finally realized that I wasn’t listening so he kissed me on the forehead and left.

A day later I was well enough to be released and I talked to Abara about what really happened. She told me that the fighting was really fierce and we were reduced to throwing rocks as we had no ammunition or power cores then the tunnel cleared and a company of Lanai with war machines flying ahead came in. The Baron and all of us were taken out then he took a weapon from a Lanai and led them back down. He wanted to be certain that the job was done. So, wounded as he was, he returned underground and every Lanai who had been trapped with him and who could still walk took arms and followed him back under. There weren’t many. But after a few hours he was satisfied and trackers and war machines were released to scan and hunt and kill and last she heard, the world was clean. It would be a year before it would be considered safe enough to colonize but in the meantime, there were ships watching the system to prevent a return of the Shitai. And with their forward jump points gone, another ten years before they could even think of another invasion.

When I asked her how many of us died underground, she sighed and said, “None. His Grace insisted that no one would die and he kept that promise to us. Not one if us was untouched but we were all alive.”

So I voted on the ribbon and asked Abara to sew it on for me for my left arm hurt, this one with a scarlet braid for blood shed and I took some more leave time. I needed to re-grow my ribs and lung and wanted to do that in my own home.

While she was sewing it for me, I asked her and the team to come home with me but she said, “No Ayiesha, we Lanai serve the people but we are uncomfortable among them. We have no parents, no children, no family save each other. After we do our duty here in town, we will go to our islands and relax as we prefer.” Then she handed my jacket back with my ribbon and I looked at her’s. She had ribbons for every major war Drakonis had fought. Alpha, Morgor, all three Shitai, Pirate and others. Many of them had scarlet piping for the blood she shed and many had silver stars for heroism. I looked at the piping around my ribbon and saw, for the first time, the silver star.

I looked at her and asked, “I don’t understand…”

She smiled and explained, “Remember when Myrmadon was wounded and the Baron carried her back even though he was wounded himself? Three of us ran out to cover his rescue and you were one of us. Armed with an empty blaster, you still charged and killed a Shitai that was about to shoot His Grace in the back. For that you earned that star.”

I looked at the star and said, “I don’t remember that. All I remember was … doing my job.” I looked at her and said, “I don’t deserve this. I’m not special. I was just doing my job.”

“No dear, YOU are special. I was grown in a vat to fight. I am a Warrior by breeding and what I do is fight and die.” She held her arm for me to see the ribbons, “I am here because that is the only reason I was created. YOU are here because you want to be. You saved the Baron because you wanted to, you fight because you want to serve the Barony. THAT is why you are special.

“I know you want to go home but your duty isn’t done yet. The historians have been time-scanning Sothis and the vids of what we did, what you did, have already been broadcast. The people we defend know that had we not won at Sothis, then this very morning, instead of rain falling from the sky, they would see Shitai war ships. They want to honor you. They need to do this regardless of how it embarrasses us all for they must shower us with their praise to feel a part of it. Otherwise they will see us and apart from them and they will resent us our service.

“Spend a day or two in Caer Cyprian, Ayiesha. Let them honor you so that they can feel better about our dead, then go to Caer Bridget and let your friends do the same. When they place the obelisks, be there in uniform for them. We defend them and they need to honor us for that sacrifice, both for us and for them.” And then she did something I had never seen a Lanai do, she kissed me. Then she stood and left.

The landing call sounded then so I placed my jacket around my shoulders and carried my bag to the ramp. The Flavian was hovering a few meters above the tarmac blocking the rain which had turned to snow. I walked away from my ship and looked up, trying to catch the snowflakes on my tongue. How long had it been since I felt real snow on my face?

“Ayiesha!” I heard my name and looked out to see my parents by the railing. I missed them so much and the thought that they had been as close to death as a snowflake scared me more than I could say. I waved to them and Mother broke into a run with father doing a dignified stride behind. She reached me and hugged me and the pain caused me to cry out and my knees buckled. I never reached the ground for father was there, panting heavily and holding me up.

I caught myself, stood and tried to curtsey to him but he would have nothing of it. “Come home, my dear, so we can take care of you. Your family is waiting for you at the farm.” His voice showed concern that I rarely heard but Abara’s words appeared in my mind, “had we not won at Sothis, then this very morning, instead of rain falling from the sky, they would see Shitai war ships. Let them honor you so that they can feel better.” So I replied, “I can’t father. Not yet. I have some duties to do here. Tomorrow, I promise, we will go home. Can we go get something to eat? Between those caverns and hospital food, I’m starved.”

So with my father almost carrying me and mother carrying my bag, we took a tube across the ocean to the city where as soon as I exited the conveyance, people saw me and bowed and curtseyed until I was so embarassed that I was glad when father led me away. Wherever we went, people parted, stopped, whispered to each other, then bowed and curtseyed. Finally we found a restaurant and as soon as we entered, even before father could ask for a table, the matre’d rushed over and bowed very low to me and said, “Great and noble Warrior, thank you for your sacrifices and please, allow me to lead you to the best table we have.” I smiled and thanked him and as we crossed the room, everyone stood and bowed and curtseyed until we were seated. I think that was when they all realized that I wasn’t a Lanai. Then the whispering began again.

Almost immediately the chef appeared. Chefs never leave the kitchen except to insult the patron who refused his meal, but he appeared, bowed and said, “Please, Noble, Warrior, allow me to make for you the best meal ever.” He then took the menu from the waiter, tossed it aside and continued, “Not this swill!” Then he began to describe for me a meal which I couldn’t understand but I understood was something special. So when he ran down, I smiled and thanked him even though I had no idea of what he had said. Being a farm girl, I was used to plain food, not this fancy stuff.

Then I noticed that the customers were staring at the wall so I turned around and .. there I was. Someone had brought out a vid-screen and it was playing … me. The historians had broadcast not only the battle of Sothis but they had scanned the events underground and everyone was watching me charge that Shitai after my blaster charge had run out. I couldn’t watch that. Not yet. So I removed the band from my hair to hide my face and looked down as I sipped my wine. Then everyone stood and applauded! I looked up and there I was, frozen on the screen, standing over His Grace with my empty blaster, it’s stock still dripping Shitai brains, daring anyone to harm him. I was so embarassed I called the matre’d over and asked him to pass that over. So he apologized and the screen continued with other scenes. Then mother and father gasped and mother grabbed my arm, fortunately my good arm, and I saw my father cry for the second time in my life. I was afraid to turn but something forced me to and I saw myself shot and screaming from the Shitai plasma beamer.

Mother held my hand and cried, “My dear child, I had no idea….” So I stood, walked over to the screen and turned it off. “Please, I’m just a person who did what needed be done.” And I returned to my seat. Then the matre’d brought over a large picture of me over the Baron with another picture of me in the restaurant in a corner. He probably had the vid-screen save and print it just then. He bowed very low, apologized for disturbing me and handed me a pen and the picture saying, “Please, noble Warrior, if you would please honor our place with a signature…”

I didn’t know what to do so I signed it, “Thank you for making my duty clear. Without you, my life has no goal. Ayiesha.” And he immediately hung the picture on the wall over his station. Then a mother and child approached, she curtseyed and made her son bow as she cried her thanks for me. I smiled and told her that I had a cousin his age and she cried more, thanked me and then, she removed a bracelet from her wrist and placed it on my table. It was cheap and gaudy but her meaning as clear and I loved it immediately. So I put it on and thanked her as she ran off to her own table.

From then it got worse. I was showered with gifts and thanks and the dinner was a total embarassment for me and I was glad when it was over and we could leave.

We went on a tour of the city and wherever I went they honoured me with curtseys and bowing and gifts until I ran for the Inn where I had stayed with Caroline two years ago. I asked for a room for me and my parents and the clerk just stared at me. Then he looked at the ribbons on my sleeve, then back at me then he stuttered and practically leapt over the counter to show me to the best room in the Inn all the while insisting that there was no charge.

Mother came in when I was taking a bath and when she saw the plasma burn on my arm and side, she just collapsed and cried. “Don’t worry mother,” I cried. “I’ll heal. Weir heal fast and Star Fleet has the best medical anywhere. See, I can move my arm now and it barely hurts to breathe.” But I couldn’t get her to stop crying. I had lost a big piece of my bicep and there was still a depression where the ribs were re-growing along the bone splint but the psudo-skin was covering most of it. I had originally decided to keep at least some of the scar as a reminder but now I was re-thinking and wishing that I had remained in the tank until I was completely healed.

Father entered and looked at me too, then fought back his tears. He knelt and almost touched my arm then stopped and took mother from the bathroom then returned and sat next to me, not looking but he did take a sponge and scrubbed my back like he used to do when I was a child. “Your grandfather told me about the war he was in, but not until I was almost an adult. It took him decades before he could talk about what he saw and did. I understand that you lost close friends there and what we saw on the vid was nothing compared to what really happened. Muffin,” he hadn’t called me that since I was ten. “When you are ready, I’ll be here. Until then, I’ll respect your wishes.” Then he started to leave.

“Daddy,” I called. He stopped but didn’t turn around. “You know I love you. Now that it’s all over, I know that I made the right decision by enlisting. I couldn’t stand the thought of the Shitai being here and ….” I couldn’t go on so he finished for me, “I love you too, muffin.” And he closed the door to give me some privacy. I spent the good part of an hour cleaning my wounds, filling them with regeneratives and replacing the plasti-skin. Then I replaced the bloody water with clean hot water and just soaked until I was ready to fall asleep.

When I returned to the bedroom, I crawled into bed next to my mother and let her hold me as I wondered if the Lanai were suffering the gratitude of the people as was I and how they were handling it.

The next morning was no better. The Inn refused payment but had already hung the sign-in page with my signature on the wall. The shop where we had breakfast also refused payment and people would come over, curtsey or bow, thank me and leave a gift of some kind. I was terrified of entering an expensive jewelry or dress store. But by noon I felt that my duty was done and we returned to the lot and flew back to Caer Bridget in the rented flivver.

Of course, the rental agency refunded my father’s deposit and when we walked from the ground-car, crowds were there to see me. Local girl made hero. There were posters all over, mostly of me over the Baron, some with me fighting, others… well, I was glad that the time-scanners hadn’t recorded my bedding the Baron.

If I thought that Caer Cyprian was bad, home was far worse. EVERY relative and friend I had was there. Someone had hung banners and streamers all over the house and everyone showed me respect as if I were something special. I wasn’t. I was just a young peasant girl who did an unpleasant job as best she could but they didn’t understand. They couldn’t understand. They weren’t there. The birthday cake was the only good part. I forgot that I had turned twenty in the caverns and had even missed Yule so I let them sing ‘happy birthday’ to me and I cut the cake and this time I enjoyed the attention.

Father unveiled the three new pikes that he had placed in the yard, each holding a Shitai head, one smashed almost to pieces. “That’s the one you killed saving His Grace’s life,” explained father, “He had it recovered and sent here with a letter of appreciation.” I wasn’t certain if I wanted them there though I knew that eventually I would so I turned away and went inside.

I saw Geraldo and wanted to spend some time with him but I was too hurting for sex and wanted something special but didn’t know what. I only knew that this wasn’t it. Then I saw Caroline and she cried and ran to me but was afraid to hug me for she had seen me shot and mother had told them over the vid about my wounds. So I hugged her with my good arm and as soon as I could, I asked her to take me to the quarry.

We were laying there, mostly clothed this time in the cold and Caroline was tending my wounds, crying all the while. I don’t know why as I was the one who was wounded, not her, but she cried and fussed and asked about everything but what had happened. So I told her about my sexual escapade with His Grace and she was so jealous that not only had I met him, but had him too. She asked everything about everything. She wanted details and thought it was so romantic, two lovers fighting for their lives and saving the Barony, yet, managing a few brief minutes for passion.

“It wasn’t passion, it was just sex.” I explained but she responded, “I don’t care, it is still romantic.”

I laughed, the first time in I don’t know how long, and explained that sex in body armour wasn’t easy and we kept clanking breastplates whenever we tried to kiss and my thigh-plates kept pinching and I was so afraid of being shot that I refused to remove my breast-plate even though you know how much I love having my nipples sucked and there was so much blood when Myrmadon was shot and…” I broke down and told her everything. I told her how scared I was and how hungry we were and what we had to eat and the terrors and when I ran out of words, we were both crying and she just held me as I tried to work it out and deal with the nightmare.

“I can’t do this anymore.” I cried. “I thought I was a Warrior but I’m not. I was so scared and there was so much blood and it hurt so. I don’t know what to do anymore.”

Caroline looked at me and said, “If you didn’t go, then would we be here today talking about this? Or would the Shitai be feeding us to a brood hatchery?”

She was right. Despite it all, I did make a difference. I wasn’t just a young girl that the Fleet allowed to join, I was someone who did my job and what I did mattered. I’d heal and cry and talk to Papay who did understand because he had been a soldier too and when my lung and ribs and arm re-grew, I’d return to the Flavian and stop the next invasion. And the next after that so that the civilians and my family wouldn’t have to see what I had seen or do what I had done. I wanted to protect them from that horror and that meant that I had to return to duty.

The next day, I attended the dedication of the Third Shitai War Obelisk. Three Shitai heads were placed on the pikes and the mayor made a speech that went on far too long and then I had to make a speech about being happy to have done my duty and we needed to remember that those names on the obelisk were the real heroes. Then they unveiled the monument and I saw it for the first time. The statue was exactly not what I wanted. Me, kneeling holding my empty blaster, arm and side bandaged. But it was what was below that made me cry. The traditional bronze plate with the names of the dead. I staggered over to it, helped by Papay who was there too. Then I touched the bronze and read the names, occasionally stopping, touching them and telling Papay and the crowd who they were and something about them so that people would remember that these weren’t just names or synthetics from a vat, but real people with feelings and lives. Here was Neomi who sketched flowers on her free time and Leolil who wrote poetry and… I wanted the civilians to know that the Lanai were important and to remember them. Then when I was finished, I kissed my fingers, touched them to the bronze, stepped back and curtseyed to my dead companions.

Later that evening, I sat on the porch swing with Papay, Caroline and my family just watching the sun set and the dragonets roost. Then I leaned over and whispered into Papay’s ear, “don’t worry for me because I spent that entire week underground so scared I peed in my armour.”

END


A Maiden on Barsoom. The sequil where Ayiesha recovers on Barsoom.
Return to Barsoom. Ayiesha’s overly elaborate plan to return to Barsoom. Note: still being written

Weirlu of Caspak. Ayiesha’s vacation on Earth.

Characters in these stories. Here you will find who these people and places are.


To contact me or to request topics to be covered, send to RikJohnson@juno.com
by: Rick Johnson
PO Box 40451
Tucson, Az.
85717


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