Disclaimer: The characters and situations of the TV program "Space" Above and Beyond" are the creations of Glen Morgan and James Wong, Fox Television and Hard Eight Productions, and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.
Lieutenant Shane Vansen scanned the area, "Lifeforms headed in this direction from the north." she warned.
"Weapons at ready." ordered Colonel T.C. McQueen, he was satisfied when he heard the others ready their weapons. Just then a young woman burst out from the bushes ahead of them. She stopped short and pulled a nasty looking sword from the sheath on her back. She barely looked big enough to hold it but there was no doubt in McQueen's mind that she knew how to use it.
"Easy we don't mean you any harm." said McQueen.
At that moment several other women came crashing out of the bushes, "What was that about us not harming her?" asked Lieutenant Paul Wang. Before they could realize what had happened the 58th and the girl had been surrounded and the 58th had been disarmed.
McQueen looked at the young girl to see her struggling with four other women who were much larger then her for her sword. She seemed almost feral but the other women finally disarmed her by sheer size alone and bound her hands as she glared venomously at them.
The 58th was forced to follow the head woman who had tied a rope through their bindings like a leash as the others took up guard positions around them. The lead woman kept yanking on the rope causing McQueen to stumble forward into the girl ahead of him. He studied what he could of the passing scenery which by chance included the girl in front of him. She was about 5' 5" and maybe a 120 pounds, her chestnut hair fell in waves to her shoulders and he'd seen sharp hazel eyes take stock of him and the 58th before they'd been captured.
After a while they arrived at a small village and as they were lead through it the 58th noticed one thing about the village. There were no men anywhere not even little boys, all the people in the village were women. They were brought over to a corral and McQueen and the 58th were thrust into it. The men in the corral were the only men that they'd seen in the whole village.
Lieutenant Nathan West tried to talk to a few of them but they pulled away from him in absolute terror and refused to meet his eyes let alone answer him. The 58th settled down together in a corner of the corral to take stock of what was happening.
"Any ideas?" asked Lieutenant Vanessa Damphousse, "These men are obviously drugged with something that causes fear." answered West. A sound brought their attention to the women as they returned and they noticed the girl who had been captured was with them as well.
Her hands were no longer bound and her sword had returned to its place in its sheath. "Are you sure Ariel?" said a small redhead who entered the corral with the girl that McQueen now knew was called Ariel.
"I'm sure Calisa, I'll take them with me now." answered Ariel. "You know you can't trust males! Are you sure that you don't want some of the sisterhood to act as guards?" asked Calisa.
"Yes. You there can you ride?" Ariel asked McQueen.
"Yes." he answered, "I'm Colonel...." he trailed off as the wind rushed out of him. Calisa had struck him in the stomach harder then he thought possible for someone her size.
"Be silent male!" she hissed, "Your name is what your mistress gives you! Is that understood?"
McQueen could only nod in response because he was having difficulty breathing.
He noticed that the rest of the 58th were being restrained by the other women who had come into the corral with Ariel and Calisa.
"I have no complaints with the name Calisa." Ariel said firmly. "He'll answer better to the name he already has then any name I'd gave him. I want the women too Calisa." Calisa nodded in agreement but she thought that princess Ariel was taking too many chances by becoming interested in these strangers so soon after the truth run. She linked a lead rope through the bindings of the 58th and yanked forward on the rope.
"Come along you worthless males." she hissed, hoping she sounded as if she found it distasteful to be dealing with untrained males. When they arrived at the village square Calisa pulled the lead rope from their bindings. "Get on the horses." she ordered.
Hawkes noticed the horses being held by their reins by a sixteen year old boy. "Now wait a minute." complained Lieutenant Cooper Hawkes and before he said another word he went down in a heap on the ground as he groaned in pain. Calisa stood over him with the staff she'd used on him trying to look dangerous while the whole time she wanted to see if he was okay.
Ariel yanked Hawkes up, "Get on your horse boy or you'll get more of the same!" ordered Ariel. She noticed that Calisa was helping Hawkes up onto his horse before she got up on her own. After they left town McQueen tried to ask her questions but she just hushed him like a parent with a misbehaving child. Neither Ariel or Calisa could be more then twenty but both had a way about them that spoke of great age. McQueen sat quietly on horseback hoping that he'd find some answers once they got wherever they were going.
They arrived at a small house and the 58th followed suit as Ariel and Calisa pulled to a stop and dismounted. Their horses were taken by a groom and the 58th was led into the house.
"Would you like some refreshments?" asked Ariel, "We'd rather have some answers." replied McQueen.
"Of course." she answered and McQueen and the 58th were surprised to see Calisa untying their hands.
"My name is Ariel and this is my straba or shield mate Calisa. As far as the confederacy is concerned you are now my property. We are a female dominated society and men here fall into three categories of property. One field hands who work in the fields or two the house workers who work here in the house." explained Ariel.
"And the third?" asked Hawkes, "Breeders." answered Calisa who gave him a wink and an evil grin. "Your females will be given a choice to take the oath or death." said Calisa.
"What's the oath?" asked Vansen. "The oath of sisterhood, it just basically says that you'll be your own woman. To protect yourself before turning to any man and that you'll only bear children when you see fit to." answered Ariel. "Basically that you'll defend yourself, bear the children you wish and raise them the way you wish without first deferring to a male." said Calisa. "Also that you'll be loyal to the confederacy and help a member of the sisterhood when she needs you. Other then that you agreeing to follow the confederacy laws to not harm another unless you have no choice. That if you have a problem with a sister that can only be solved with violence then you and you alone will fight her and in a battle with weapons that will put you in as much harm as your opponent." said Ariel.
"Eons ago men ruled our world and very nearly left it a burnt out cider in space. The women finally fed up with the death and destruction rebelled against the men. They agreed to work side by side as equals with the men but the men betrayed the oath of equals. So the women were forced to make them slaves." said Ariel. "Which they didn't take too kindly so the women were forced to give them the bakra." Calisa said.
"That's why the men are so scared of everyone in the corral?!" asked West.
"At first they're given heavy dosages to make them docile and once they're are trained the dose is then lowered." answered Ariel. "Yes but it does break their spirits and makes them almost worthless especially as breeders." said Calisa as she began to stroke Hawkes arm.
"Oh leave the boy alone you wicked woman." chided Ariel, "This my dear sister is no boy." Calisa grabbed for his belt buckle and Hawkes pulled away in fear. Ariel came over and grabbed Calisa's hands as she flashed McQueen and Hawkes an apologetic smile. She led Calisa over to a chair and made her sit. "She's really very harmless but she does so enjoy mind games." Ariel apologized.
"I'm Colonel T.C. McQueen of the Saratoga and this is the 58th." he made the introductions of his squad to the two women.
"Hawkes as in Hawk the bird of prey? Hmmm...." Calisa mused as a naughty smile spread across her face. Ariel lightly swatted Calisa shoulder.
"Behave!" she hissed quietly at her. "I'm afraid we'll have to claim you as breeders since if your field hands you won't have much to do with us unless you need punishing."
"As house workers you would only have contact with us during your chores but as breeders we can call for your presence at anytime without raising any suspicions." said Ariel.
"All I want is for my squad and I to be able to return to our ship."
Ariel frowned. "You don't understand Colonel that the confederacy never let's go of property unless it's either sold outside our boundaries or destroyed." Damphousse shivered at the way Ariel had said the last word. "Take our hospitality and I'll see what I can do about smuggling you out of the confederacy and back to your people." replied Ariel. McQueen for some reason had felt that this wasn't the first time these two women had been in this position.
Ariel clapped her hands and a young man appeared out of nowhere, "Yes mistress?" he asked.
"See to it Colo that our four new breeders get cleaned up and fed. Then see to a room for my two new sisters." Ariel ordered. Colo led McQueen, Hawkes, Wang and West to an airy room that though spartan held four beds that looked comfortable.
He tossed clothing at each of the men, "Your only desire is to fulfill the wishes of my mistresses. When they call there are no questions asked, you will simply come and do as your told." said Colo and then he marched out of the room.
West and Wang settled onto a couple of the beds as Hawkes looked down the corridor as if he were worried that Calisa would appear at any moment. McQueen dropped the clothes on one of the remaining beds and looked out the window at the activity that passed by.
"Colonel what are we going to do?" asked Wang.
"For the moment we'll go along with our new owners." replied McQueen.
"This is the life." sighed Vanessa as she leaned back in a tub full of hot water lightly scented with flowers.
"It is pleasurable." answered Vansen as she slowly stirred her finger in the water in front of her.
"What do you think will happen now?" asked Vanessa, her voice quaking slightly.
"You will get cleaned and dressed." commanded a masculine voice and both Vansen and Vanessa ducked down into the water. A wizened old man strode into their view with an amused look. "Oh it isn't like you have anything I haven't seen before." he cackled.
"Yea but you haven't seen mine before." complained Damphousse. He tossed two outfits onto the chairs in front of the tub.
"Then I'll leave you bathing beauties to your baths. Let me know when your finished and I'll see to your dinner." The old man chuckled as he exited the room.
"How are our guests doing?" asked Calisa, "The women are relaxing in their tubs. Apparently they never seen one before." cackled Edrel and Calisa giggled. "The men are settling in though that young one you were groping is very concerned about your reappearance." Calisa gave him her best who me? I'm totally innocent look before bursting into a giggling fit.
"One of these days mark my word young Calisa you'll bite off more then you can chew. That young one might just be it too but the one I concerned about is the oldest male. He looks like he'd definitely be one to rock the boat, yep a real trouble maker that one." said Edrel.
"You don't know how much trouble." answered Calisa, "I'm neither blind nor dumb child I saw how she looked at him." chided Edrel.
Damphousse headed down the stairs the next morning intent on investigating the lower floor of the house as Shane took the upper part. She checked out the majority of the house quickly as it wasn't very big compared to some she'd seen on the way here. The kitchen was warm and full of good smells and even though the old man Edrel settled her in with something to tide her over until breakfast he was very evasive about answering her questions. She came to a door in the hallway and opened it, as she entered the room she noticed bookcases full of books. It was some kind of library that she'd come into.
"Hello?" came a voice from behind her and she spun to face a woman. She found herself face to face with a auburn haired, blue eyed woman of about five foot nine and roughly a hundred and thirty pounds.
"I'm Illianna and you are?" she asked not getting up from her comfortable sprawl in an oversized chair.
"Umm....I'm Vanessa Damphousse." she answered in a slightly quaking voice. Illianna pulled her legs down off the chair arm and sat straighter before stretching her body like a cat. She placed her book onto a small table and then leveled her blue eyes on Damphousse.
"You must be one of the new waif's that Ariel's picked up." she smiled gently at Vanessa.
Damphousse relaxed, "Waif's?" she asked but before Illianna could answer Calisa entered the library.
"Oh that's what we call the men and women that our dear Ariel picks up off the streets. She's a really soft touch and anyone needing a hand...." A soft chuckle came from Illianna, "Or a handout comes to Ariel." finished Illianna.
"Move your big feet Stretch." said Calisa teasingly as she stepped over Illianna's legs to get to a book from a shelf.
"Isn't it time to change your diaper Calisa?" teased Illianna right back and she took great pleasure in watching Calisa blush furiously.
"You'd never be mistaken for a person with good manners." answered Calisa.
Illianna swatted Calisa's backside, "And you need to learn good manners you little brat." she answered mischievously.
"Weren't you supposed to be here to visit one of your relatives?" asked Calisa.
"Why you little...." sputtered Illianna, "Stardust would be much better company then a little brat with extremely bad manners." Illianna quipped.
"Stardust?" asked Vanessa in puzzlement and received a look from both women before they burst into laughter. "Stardust is one of Ariel's horses and she's been sick recently. I told Ariel I'd take a look at the beast but I swear if that animal tries to bite me again I will personally put her out of my misery."
Vanessa looked worried as Illianna left the room, "Don't worry she doesn't really mean it. She loves animals sometimes more then humans just like Ariel." said Calisa reassuredly. "Come over here and take your choice of book Nessa. I'm sure breakfast will be ready soon and it'll be as usual one of Edrel's masterpiece's. Until then we can pass the time enjoying a good book unless you'd prefer another pursuit?" asked Calisa.
"As a matter of fact I liked to talk about your society." answered Vanessa.
"There's not much to tell." answered Calisa.
"Whatever you have that will help me understand your culture better so I don't end up accidentally challenging someone to a duel."
Calisa giggled, "I doubt you could do that if you tried. I'll tell you what I can and maybe it'll help you and your people realize that we're not ogres just women trying to make a better life."
Illianna headed for the stables with a smile on her face because Calisa was the one sister other then Ariel that could make her feel good. They were always teasing each other and goofing off together as if they were blood related. As Illianna entered the stables she noticed a young man who wore the outfit of a breeder standing by Stardusts paddock and he was gently stroking the mare as he talked quietly to her.
"Your very good at that." she said and the man jumped causing the horse to shy away. It intrigued Illianna that even though he didn't speak neither did he turn his eyes to the floor. He stared straight at her with the bluest eyes she'd ever seen.
"What's your name boy?" Illianna asked and had to hide a smile as she saw him stiffen at her use of the term boy.
"Lieutenant Cooper Hawkes of the 58th squadron off of the Saratoga ma'am."
"A warrior well now there's something we don't see here everyday." she quipped. Hawkes tensed even further at her teasing and she finally just crossed her eyes and stuck her tongue out at him playfully. He frowned unsure of how to react,
"Are all the men on your Saratoga such wet blankets Lieutenant?" Cooper relaxed at her use of his rank and the fact that he realized that she was like Ariel and Calisa.
"No ma'am." he answered,
"Will you please quit calling ma'am. It sounds like your talking to your grandmother." Illianna laughed at the look on his face.
"Ma'am what is a grandmother?" he asked and Illianna frowned in worry.
"Who doesn't know what a grandmother is? It's a woman who was the mother to your mother or father." she answered.
"I'm a tank and I have no mother or father." answered Cooper.
"Why don't you help me with Stardust and at the same time you can explain what a tank is?" said Illianna.
Ariel stood behind the house facing the woods and as McQueen come over to her he noticed that her eyes were closed. He cleared his throat unsure as to how to address her and he wanted to ask about when he and the 58th would be leaving. She took a deep breath and opened her eyes as she turned to face him.
"Hello McQueen." she smiled at him and McQueen was flustered. This girl was barely old enough to be his daughter and he had no doubts that Ross would kill him if he ever found out about the thoughts McQueen had entertained since he'd first met her.
"In all my thirty one years I've never failed to appreicate a beautiful morning." McQueen was rocked by her expression of how old she was because she barely looked sixteen let alone thirty one.
"Ariel I didn't mean to interrupt but...." he began.
"I understand that your anxious to get going and head back to your ship Colonel but something's can't be rushed." answered Ariel. She turned and started towards him but tripped and McQueen caught her smoothly in his arms. Their faces were mere inches from each others and Ariel felt a strange warmth settle in her stomach. McQueen bent and touched his lips softly to hers. When his eyes met hers once again the fire that smoldered there sent a vibration along his nerve endings. Ariel seized McQueen's hair and gently pulled his face down to hers. Her soft mouth left his and kissed along his jaw and then down his throat.
"Ariel...." he moaned as he fought to regain control of his senses because logically he knew this wasn't the time for this. Right at this moment though logical thought had nothing to do with what he was feeling. She rested her head against his chest and he knew she could hear his thundering heart because he could. Ariel reached out a trembling hand to caress his face.
"Let's go inside." she whispered, her breath warm against his ear.
Something cold and sharp pushed at his throat and McQueen still half asleep tried to push it away.
"Wake breeder your time has come." said a low voice. He opened his eyes and blinked to clear his vision. There with a sword held against his throat was a tall blonde with blue eyes.
"What is the meaning of this Ralyana?" demanded Ariel as she attempted to cover herself with a sheet. The brunette standing next to Ariel's side of the bed backhanded her and McQueen tried to come to her rescue only to be stopped by a sword pressing into his throat.
"You my sweet princess are under arrest for treason." answered the brunette that McQueen assumed was Ralyana.
"Take the breeder to the breeders quarters and I'll deal with him later. As for you my dear lady I suggest you get dressed." Ralyana threw Ariel's clothing at her as McQueen was dragged from the room.
Ariel sat in the cell, she slowed her breathing so that she would use less air and thus avoid the smell. The cells were rarely used so they had a odor of disuse which was rather unpleasant. She leaned back on the cot and listened to the guards as they moved in perfect rhythm never missing a step as they patrolled their section of the cells. The door creaked open and Ariel sat up because she was sure whoever the visitor was they were coming to see her.
"I trust your comfortable." Ariel didn't answer Ralyana, "You did well for an outsider." she taunted Ariel.
"You are evil Ralyana and I won't rest until you have faced justice. Where is McQueen?" she demanded.
"He is well and well thought of. Elowan and I both have a interest in your breeder." replied Ralyana. "If you believe McQueen will be a breeder for you your greatly mistaken." she laughed.
Ralyana's face contorted with rage as her eyes hardened with hatred. "Honor is your weakness and hope is your enemy. Do you truly believe these men could ever have the ability to be our equals." sneered Ralyana.
"Yes I do and McQueen is proof of that." answered Ariel confidently.
"McQueen will be like all men, once I let him know I'm interested he will fall to my feet in worship." answered Ralyana.
"I hope you allow me to be present so I can join McQueen in his laughter for it'll be the funniest thing I've seen all year." laughed Ariel. "
Oh you'll be there alright to see me take your prize possession and do as I wish with him. I may even slit his throat when I tire of him." Ariel clenched her hands but said nothing in response.
"Perhaps I'll break his spirit first for he is too proud for a man." Ralyana spun on her boot heel and walked away leaving Ariel in her despair.
Ralyana had McQueen brought in and then dismissed the guards before moving in closer to McQueen.
"Where is Mistress Ariel?" he asked quietly,
"Don't concern yourself with that nagetot." Her hand lingered on his thigh before touching his arm and McQueen could clearly see that she was attracted to him. "Perhaps we can find a way to distract you from the loss of your mistress?" cooed Ralyana.
McQueen hesitated for a moment, "My mistress was an excellent owner and quite good at educating one such as myself. I must admit though that you mistress look as if you have much more to teach me" his voice held a sultry tone almost as if it were caressing her.
"I'm pleased that you can consider the change in owners with little difficulty. This means that your being here will be much more rewarding for both of us." she answered.
Ralyana moved closer and placed a hand on his chest. "There are many delights I have to teach you McQueen." she said.
"I'll take great pleasure in learning each one slowly." he answered her in a sensual tone.
Ralyana moved closer to him as she allowed her breasts to brush his arm. McQueen placed a hand on the small of Ralyana's back and felt her quiver from his touch.
Her breath was warm against his shoulder, "This will be gratifying for both of us." replied Ralyana.
McQueen allowed a slow sensual smile to play across his face, "I'm sure your quite accomplished at a variety of pleasures. " she said quietly. "You are magnificent." she said and McQueen tensed, perhaps he'd gone too far. All he wanted was to find Ariel and get her and his people off the miserable forsaken rock. She pulled his shirt apart and played her hands across his chest.
Ralyana's gaze fixed on his full lips and then his broad chest before bending and placing a hot kiss on his throat. McQueen froze as his skin recoiled in distaste but she didn't notice his hesitation.
He cleared his throat, "Maybe we should have some wine to enhance this encounter Mistress?" Ralyana looked up at him with puzzlement, "Allow me to service you properly Mistress." McQueen replied in his best servant's voice.
McQueen tensed as he saw Illianna sneaking up behind Ralyana. Ralyana noticed him tense and something told her to beware she started to turn. McQueen grabbed her and placed a hand on either side of her face. He drew her face back to his and kissed her passionately, Ralyana pulled back from him and slapped him across the face staggering him.
"What in Zandrau's hell's do you think your doing male?!"
Illianna struck Ralyana from behind and she slumped into McQueen's arms who placed her none too gently on a settee. "Let's get you out of here." said Illianna as Calisa entered the room.
"It's clear all the way to the shuttlebay." said Calisa, "I'm not leaving without Ariel and my people." replied McQueen.
"Your people are waiting for you right now at the shuttlebay." answered Calisa. "What about Ariel?" he asked.
"She's going to be tried for treason. They're holding her at the presido and it's the most secure place on the planet so don't think what your thinking male!" warned Calisa.
"I go nowhere without Ariel!" McQueen answered in a menacing tone.
"You're the back end of a horse! No! You're what comes out of the aforementioned back end!" chided Calisa.
"We'll take you somewhere safe until we can get Ariel released. Then you can leave with a clear conscience." scolded Illianna. She grabbed McQueen's arm and dragged him behind her as Calisa lead the way to the shuttlebay.
"Colonel!" called Hawkes as McQueen entered the shuttlebay with Illianna and Calisa. McQueen checked to make sure all of his `kids' were there.
"Colonel are you alright?" asked West.
"I'm fine West. I want you to take one of these shuttles back to the `Toga." replied McQueen.
"What about you sir?" asked Vansen,
"I'll follow later." he answered and held up his hand to keep Shane from arguing with him. "Ariel tried to help us and it's only right for me to help her." he answered.
"Sir we...." began Wang, "No you will return to the `Toga and that's an order." Illianna motioned McQueen to another shuttle. "
Your Colonel is right. It's best you return home and give him one less thing to be worried about." replied Calisa.
"Now take your ship and head home and don't worry we'll try our best to return your Colonel to you in the condition we found him." replied Calisa.
"I never thought I'd say this McQueen but your a good man." said Illianna.
"Ariel, Calisa and you have put yourselves in a great deal of danger to help us so it's only right that I repay the debt." McQueen responded.
Illianna looked down for a moment, "McQueen are you in love with Ariel?" she asked. McQueen looked over at her and noticed she was blushing from embarrassment.
"I'm not the type that follows in love." was the only answer McQueen gave. Illianna found it interesting though that he voice had held a wistful sadness to it.
"I have the perfect place to hold you until we can get Ariel out. It's a small hidden room in my home so I hope you like enclosed places." quipped Illianna.
"I'll deal with it." McQueen said tensely.
"Okay whatever." answered Illianna absentmindedly and the rest of the trip continued in silence.
Ariel sat in a chair at the back of the council chamber. She wondered if every sister in the Confederacy had arrived to crowd into the chamber. She sat in silence, staring forward at nothing. Ariel hadn't said a word since the guard's had taken her from her cell to bring her to the council chamber. Her face was blank and her eyes were flat and cold. There was a steady hum of talk amongst the women present in the chamber. The guard nudged Ariel to stand. She held her head defiantly high and her expression was one of disdain. Her proud carriage and steady gait only faltered once when the guard gave her a shove to hurry her along. At the shove something flashed in Ariel's eyes but was gone a second later. They stopped at the front of the chamber just as a door off to the side opened and the council filed in.
When the council had settled in their seats and the crowd had hushed Ariel looked towards the door as the queen entered. The queen was a delicate ethereal looking woman with long blonde hair that was almost silver and pale blue eyes that were almost colorless. She settled onto her throne and waved a hand at Melder, Ariel could see nothing in the queen's features that gave Ariel hope. The council session was called to order and Melder stepped forward to address the transgressions of law on the part of the Confederacy.
"Are you Ariel of the family Bennu?" she asked.
"I am." answered Ariel in a voice that was as lifeless as her eyes.
"It is the council's understanding that you have waived the right of a representative. Is this true?" Melder asked.
"It is." answered Ariel, "Do you wish to defend yourself." she asked.
"No." answered Ariel, "Ariel these are some serious charges but yet you don't intend on defending yourself?" asked Melder in a shocked tone.
At Ariel's head shake Melder continued, "The charges are treason, conspiring with males to subvert the natural order of our society. How do you plead?" Ariel could barely breathe from the painful tightness in her chest. She closed her eyes and then took a deep breath to steady herself.
"Guilty." she answered. There were murmurs of shock that rippled through the crowd.
Melder turned to the queen, "Your majesty do you wish to invoke the authority for execution?" The queen's gaze flickered to Ariel and she shook her head.
"It shall be banishment then as demanded by the laws of the Confederacy."
McQueen entered the room and came to a stop as almost every guard in the room surrounded him. He glanced at Ariel and took heart from the fact that she stood unaided. The noise that circled the room was instantaneous and Melder had to shout for order.
McQueen knew he had to make them understand, "I'm an off worlder and whatever else you may of heard of me is probably true but I need to speak to the council." he pleaded.
Ralyana struck him, "You have nothing we want to hear male!" she replied sarcastically.
"Let him speak." commanded the queen,
"If you have to punish someone then punish me. I'm your idea of the enemy. I'm the one you hate not her." The gasps and murmurs that circled the room didn't distract McQueen from seeing the look that crossed Ariel's face.
"The fates decree...." began Ralyana,
"The fates!" hissed Ariel. "I'm sick of hearing about your precious fates! That what you are and whatever happens is meant to be! It's just an excuse, an easy rationalization to hide the truth! There is nothing that decides how and ..."
"It's a lie you've used to convince yourselves that your miserable lives have purpose. Deep down you know that you've lost the ability to use your own free will. You've lost your right to exist as individuals. For all it's problems for better or worse we determine our own future. We decide what we want out of life and go get it, we make our own fate. We can't have someone upsetting the Confederacy's status quo with old fashioned beliefs about freedom and individual choice. Some of the sisters might begin to get ideas. They might show a little incentive and tell you to go to Zandrau's nine hells. That's the real truth and the real reason for all this isn't it Ralyana?" accused Ariel.
"How dare you?!" sputtered Ralyana.
"I dare a great deal when my world dies a little each day!" snarled Ariel.
"This male has infected you with these ridiculous ideas!" sneered Ralyana.
"No I had these ridiculous ideas before this male ever entered the picture!" Ariel answered sarcastically. Ralyana drew her knife and Ariel stepped between Ralyana and McQueen.
Illianna moved forward and Ariel noticed Calisa slowly moving in from the opposite direction. She felt McQueen try to move her but she refused to be budged.
"Get out of my way!" yelled Ralyana.
"He's done nothing to you. My eyes were opened long before McQueen ever arrived. If we don't change our ways we'll die." Ariel pleaded. She felt strangely stronger and more secure of herself with McQueen's hands resting on her shoulders.
"I'll go through you if I have to." said Ralyana coldly.
"You would harm a sister?" asked Calisa in shocked voice. Ralyana turned and looked at her in shock before looking back to Ariel as the knife started to fall from her nerveless fingers.
A guard grabbed Ralyana's knife as she closed in on her. "Enough!" snapped the queen, "You Ariel have been convicted of your crimes. The sentence is banishment and from the looks of it it also applies to Illianna and Calisa." Ariel started to protest but the queen held up a hand silencing her. "I desire to speak to the male." McQueen stepped forward. "I understand that your people are at war?" she asked.
"Yes we're involved in a war with an alien race that we've named the Chigs." answered McQueen.
"Yes you men are always at war and it seems you've infected my daughters with your blood lust." McQueen started to object, "Perhaps if they aid you in this war they will lose this blood lust that has taken possession of them." The queen assessed McQueen but it was strangely with a look of respect.
"My children's lives are my concern and if they are not happy here then they must go where they will be happy." said the queen.
"So your going to send away everybody who doesn't want to follow your way of life? It won't change a thing because there will always be those who feel a little respect will go a long way." replied Ariel. "Those who wish to leave will be allowed. As for the subject of men's equality it shall be discussed by the council."
The queen turned and strode back to the council, "Discussed?" said Ariel in an unbelieving voice.
Illianna placed a restraining hand on Ariel's shoulder, "It's better then nothing." Illianna whispered to her.
"Your welcome on board the Saratoga." offered McQueen in a gentle tone. "Since we're so unwelcome among our own people Colonel I accept." Ariel looked at Illianna and Calisa who both nodded their agreement.
"I'm up for adventure." quipped Calisa, "And I've been packed for years." responded Illianna mischievously. Just then the queen returned,
"We'll implement some changes for introducing freedom to the males but I must caution you that'll probably take years since we can't rush a change from centuries of tradition. Have you decided if you'll leave us or stay to bring a new era of life to our world?" asked the queen.
Ariel was confused, "I'd like to...." she began. Ariel had started this and it was only right that she stay and deal with it. At the same time going amongst the stars for adventure with McQueen held a certain temptation. "I started this and it's only right that I see it through to the end my liege." answered Ariel.
"Then I shall give you your first assignment. You'll act as a goodwill ambassador to Colonel McQueen's people." the queen smiled at Ariel's shocked expression.
"They need help and our warriors are the finest. Besides maybe the Colonel's people can act as role models for us." replied the queen. "Mayhaps it is time to return the Colonel to his people since I'm sure they're concerned about him and his warriors disappearance. Especially when it comes to such a fine caliber of warrior as McQueen."
McQueen was about to respond but stopped as he was unsure whether he should say anything let alone what to say.
"Oh and by the way an Ambassador needs a staff so don't forget to take Illianna and Calisa with you." Ariel grinned at the amusement in the queen's eyes. "You already meant to...." the queen held a finger to her lips as her eyes twinkled with amusement.
"I hadn't intended on going so fast but....the world will go as it will and not as we would have it. Do our people proud sisters."
Ariel, Calisa and Illianna bowed in respect to the queen. The queen headed back to the council table. "I declare this tribunal over and judgment has been passed. We are sadly in need of new blood and why shouldn't it be male blood? They can fight and die as well as any of us. I send our sisters Ariel, Calisa and Illianna with Colonel McQueen to forge new friendships that will hopefully improve our lot." The noise level rose as the women discussed what their queen was saying.
"So what do we do now?" asked Calisa, "We pack you up for a great adventure little sister. Besides that Lieutenant Hawkes is kinda of cute." replied Illianna. "I saw him first so he's mine." challenged Calisa.
"Ladies a little bit of dignity please? In their world the men make the choice about the women they want."
Calisa and Illianna gasped, "Your not serious?!" they replied together.
"Sisters you have alot to learn but I'm sure with McQueen's help and time we'll all learn alot."
Ariel buckled into her seat with help from McQueen before he headed over to his seat and buckled himself in.
"McQueen what will it be like for us in your world?" asked Ariel. McQueen smiled at the small undercurrent of fear in her question.
"You'll probably be better accepted then I am." he answered.
"Why?" she asked in a puzzled tone as she turned to look at him.
"I'm an In Vitro." he replied as if that answered everything. McQueen shook his head as he chided himself for forgetting that she had no idea what that was. "An In Vitro is when a scientist takes from a man and woman and uses it to create life but not in the natural way of things. In Vitros are gestated in a tank until the age of eighteen and then are born to be workers and soliders. It was a cheap labor force for the planet."
"That's terrible, on our world all life is sacred. You can never take a life but you can accept one that is given. To bring into the world a child who is not loved is the worse kind of insult one can give life. Does everyone on your world treat life so cheaply?" asked Ariel.
"No not everyone but there are people who care only about one life....their own." replied McQueen and Ariel could hear the pain in his voice.
"In our world one only takes a life if it's offered as in self defense or if it were an accident. We don't actively seek out others to kill but we can be deadly when we must kill. I don't know if I'll like your world McQueen."
He smiled a little bitterly, "I'm not so sure I like it myself my love."
Ariel tingled at the endearment he had unconsciously used.
"Well as long as you are with me I will fear nothing Gaia." answered Ariel. Gaia meant life in her people's language and as surely as she sat there McQueen had become her life.
As they docked at the Saratoga McQueen smiled to himself as he imagined the look on Glen Ross face when he saw Ariel and her two companions. He stepped out from the shuttle to see Ross, the 58th and a small security detail.
Ross had gotten ready for anything after he had recieved McQueen's message about the shuttle's passengers. He could see the gleam that appeared in the men's eyes as the three Amazon warriors stepped off the shuttle. He had to admit that all three women were beauties but he pitied the poor Marine who tried to make time with them if they didn't want to be bothered. Ariel smiled serenely at Ross thankful that McQueen had shown her a picture of them on board the shuttle.
She purposefully ignored the security detail, "Commodore I bring you greetings from the world of F'Lar and our Queen Aiyanna." said Ariel.
"And I welcome you on behalf of Earth...." he stopped unsure which one she was.
"I am Ariel the queen's advisor and these are Illianna and Calisa my straba or shield mates." Ross nodded to the two young women unsure how he would go about handling this.
Illianna and Calisa whispered and giggled to each other behind her. She threw them a rude glance to quiet them but it only help further their giggle attack. Illianna said something in F'Larian and Ross looked at Ariel puzzled as Illianna pointed at the security detail.
Ariel rolled her eyes and sighed. "Illianna says you honor us with such a detail but that if you'd only asked we would of allowed a search of our persons if that would make you comfortable." Ariel couldn't tell but she was sure that Ross was blushing as he cleared his throat.
"It's only a precaution we have for meetings involving the unknown." he answered quietly.
"We will submit to a search as it is only right." said Ariel. Ross waved a man over and he started towards her with a scanner.
"No!" objected Calisa, "It is only proper that it be a....`hand's on'....search to catch what a scanner might miss." Ariel caught the devilish gleam in Calisa eyes despite the fact that Calisa tried to hide it.
"It is only proper." replied McQueen. The young Marine set down the scanner and dutifully he patted her down. He started to shake his head to assure the Commodore that Ariel carried no weapon when his hand bumped something large and metallic beneath Ariel's heavy cloak. He fumbled beneath her cloak and withdrew a full size rifle. McQueen met Ariel's eyes and her small chin lifted defiantly. The Marine ran his hand along Ariel's body until another lump met his touch.
He sighed quietly as he drew out a curved sword. McQueen retrieved the sword's companion dagger from Ariel's bodice. McQueen laughed when the Marine found the knife in her leggings. The young Marine handed it back to a companion as he had done the other weapons. The Marine ran his hands over her again to see if he missed anything, then stood back blushing furiously.
The grin that stood out on McQueen's face was infectious and Ross felt a smile crossing his face. "
It is only light armament since this is a diplomatic mission." said Ariel. McQueen nearly fell over laughing at the seriousness in her tone.
"May I have a Lieutenant escort you ladies to your quarters so you may freshen up?" offered Ross.
"That would be most pleasing Commodore." answered Ariel, both Illianna and Calisa headed over to Hawkes and each took possession of an arm.
"They have chosen their escort Commodore. I apologize for their behavior but there seems to be a little disagreement between them." sighed Ariel.
"As to what?" asked Ross,
"As to who gets Hawkes as a breeder." she answered matter of factly. Ross coughed as he started to choke.
"Breeder?!" he squeaked,
"Oh didn't I tell you Glen? These women are from a female ruled society where men only hold three positions. One field hand, two a house servant and three a breeder to be bought and sold as befits the mistress of the house's pleasure." Ross cleared his throat,
"No you didn't tell me that part Ty." asnwered Ross as he threw McQueen a look that said I get you for this later.
"Is there a problem?" asked Ariel.
"Oh no there isn't any problem." Ross answered quickly. "Why don't I show you to your quarters?" asked Ross and Ariel accepted his arm leaving McQueen to trail behind them.
Karen Kaiser August/September 1998