The Planet Ericpotsdam: Tales of the Transfer
I write science-fiction stories with a bondage slant. If you want to read BDSM sex and torture scenes linked by a little bit of story line, then I am not the author for you. In particular, this story starts slowly, and it has sections which are more concerned with plot than with chained women. Be patient. By the end there will be thousands of women in the story securely in restraints.
You may wish to read Village Visit before you read this story, in order to better understand the culture and people of Potsdam Village. Several characters from that story will re-appear in this one.
Chapter 6: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Reactions to Tina Carlsen's Speech
The afternoon before Tina spoke, Edgar Royce sat on a park bench at the southern end of the active campus and watched the people go by. He was a sophomore physics student and a terminal geek, with no close friends. He had never had a girlfriend. Sitting by himself with a book in his hand, and watching people, was one of his favorite recreations.
The people-watching on this afternoon was especially good. A constant stream of villagers was flowing from the Potsdam Village encampment on the South Campus grounds to the Quonset huts by the Ecology Department building. The stream was so sustained that he finally gave up reading, closed his book, and concentrated on girl-watching. Most of the women in this stream wore restraints of various types. Edgar often daydreamed about women in chains, women who could not escape him, or ignore him, or say "no" when he asked them to do something. He wouldn't have to be embarrassed when dealing with these women. He would be able to talk easily with them and not freeze or stammer. He thought that the village women that he was watching would be fuel for at least a semester of daydreams.
Then he went back to his room and heard Tina's speech through the USM audiovisual system. Tina seemed to be offering him all of his daydreams, in real life. As soon as the speech ended, Edgar headed down to his dormitory's front desk and registered.
Neil Alt and Alanna Novarro, in the Ecology Department lecture hall
Neil and Alanna sat together near the back of the lecture hall and watched as Tina Carlsen delivered her speech. When Pedro carried Jennifer onto the stage on his shoulder in Irish-8 wrist and ankle cuffs, Alanna gave an audible gasp. She stared, and started squirming in her chair, and kept right on staring big-eyed at Pedro and Jennifer through most of the rest of the speech. She gave only short glances to Tina, and to Pierre and Jessica when they came out.
Neil noticed Alanna's reactions. They were everything that he had hoped for in a girl or in a woman. He put his arm around her shoulders. She leaned into him and tried hard to suppress her squirming. She wasn't completely successful.
When the speech was over, she looked up at him. He looked down at her. No words needed to be exchanged about deciding what to do. He ordered "Stand!" and took her hand, and guided her out of the building, back to their dormitories on North Campus, and up to the reception desk at her dormitory. There they registered together.
He ordered her to "Pack!" and kissed her. He turned to leave.
She asked "Neil?" in an anxious tone of voice.
He replied "I have to go and pack too."
Sharon Richards and Margaret Brown, in their dormitory room
Margaret turned the TV off and started a conversation by exclaiming "What a crock of shit!"
Sharon asked "What makes you say that?"
"Can you honestly believe anything that she said? She's been ordered by the bastard professor she calls her owner and master to try to seduce all of the girls on campus into sex slavery. If you register and go through to 4960, you'll get chained up, you'll get sold, you'll do whatever some other bastard tells you to do, or you'll get whipped and tortured. No, make that 'you'll do whatever some other bastard tells you to do, and you'll get whipped and tortured!' No way am I jumping into that trap! Women are the more submissive sex, men just want to be nice to us and guide us, yeah, sure! They want to guide their dicks into our bodies, is more like it."
"And you are more frightened of that than you are of the Tsalichi plague? We're not on the same page about that. Me, alive, even if I am in chains and having sex with some guy, would still be better than me, puking out blood with my skin all red until I don't have any more blood left to circulate anywhere in my body."
"Once those bastards start in on the whipping and torturing, you'll wish you had stayed on Earth and died of the plague. At least that is a relatively quick death. And did you hear about the latest news from the Centers for Disease Control? They have identified how the plague kills people. It prevents blood from clotting by interfering with vitamin K. They think that the countermeasure is taking lots of vitamin K as supplements. I'll take a few days or even a few weeks of illness if that is the price of not spending the rest of my life in slavery."
"Yeah, I saw that report. Now all we need is tons of vitamin K, enough to treat everybody. No drug companies are tooled up to make it in sufficient quantities. Maybe we'll have enough, someday. Maybe even someday soon. But not soon enough for us here in Minnesota. The plague has already reached Iowa. Besides all that, did you also hear that the CDC scientists are not certain that vitamin K supplements will work? The plague may have some other lethal effects as well. There is more than one type of virus involved. The high fever may be enough to kill victims."
"So you're going to give up, chicken out, and register." Margaret's tone of voice clearly accused Sharon of being a fool and a sucker. Then after only a moment of silence her face broke out in a sly smile and she said "I'll bet you are not thinking about having sex in chains with 'some guy'. You are thinking about one particular guy. Are you going to put Dave Antonion's name on your registration card as your prospective owner? He must be looking forward to imprisoning and torturing you after listening to that speech. He'll have lots of fun with you if you fall for the village crock of bullshit."
Sharon's face turned red with embarrassment. Then she got angry and replied "I'm not in love with him. I haven't spoken to him, or seen him outside of class, for several weeks now. Why are you accusing me of falling for him?"
"I'm listening to your tone of voice right now. You are suffering from love at first sight. I'd bet that you will fall out of love with him after the first few whippings on CBQ 4960, but it will be too late then."
"Yeah, you're probably right." The disappointment was easy to hear in Sharon's voice. She added "I don't know if I will register. I suppose I will. If I do, then maybe I'll put Dave's name on my card, and maybe I won't. And then if I register, I'm not sure that I will actually go. I guess that I have a lot of thinking to do, before I make any final-final decisions."
Margaret had the last word in their conversation. "Just remember, everything in Tina Carlsen's speech, and everything else that somebody from Potsdam Village tells you, is all a crock of bullshit."
Dave Antonion and Moses Potsdam, in a tent in the village campgrounds on the south campus
This tent was occupied mainly by the young men who had returned to Earth through Gate Number Two when Professor Burlington announced that only people essential to animal care were allowed to stay on CBQ 4960. Dave Antonion was also there, renewing old friendships with other young men from Potsdam Village.
Moses entered the tent and said "Hi, everybody! Hi, Dave! How's it going? How has college been treating you?"
Everybody in the tent stood up to greet their village leader. Dave answered "OK, I guess. I'm surviving."
"Is everybody ready to help with the big move? Dave, based on that headgear it looks like you've been accepted as a campus security volunteer. Just as we hoped you'd be."
"Yessir. I'm not allowed to wear this police-style hat unless I'm on duty. I'm supposed to be patrolling this campground right now."
"But instead you are in this tent, shooting the breeze with old friends from the village." Moses Potsdam had a fake-angry look on his face.
"The tent and the people in it need to be checked out as part of my patrol responsibilities. Or at least that's what I'll stoutly maintain, if anybody asks." Dave stood up extra-straight.
"And that is the perfect truth, from the point of view of the campus administration. We could be plotting evil schemes here. If you are on our side, you can join in the plotting. Otherwise I'll have to toss you out. So who are you with, David Antonion, Potsdam Village or the administration of the University of Southern Minnesota?" Moses Potsdam's eyes seemed to bore into Dave's skull.
"I can't be with both?"
"Not when they come into conflict."
There was a long pause while Dave stared downward and thought about what he was being told, and about the young strong guys who had come back from CBQ 4960 to meet with Moses Potsdam in that tent, and about the weapons that he had noticed in the tent, and what the purpose of these guys and their weapons probably would be. These guys were clearly preparing for a conflict. Then he thought about the spreading plague, and about the goal of the villagers to escape that plague, and the chances that their dreamed-of new home would be occupied by government bureaucrats and financial fat-cats instead, leaving them behind. Finally he looked up, returned Moses Potsdam's steady gaze, and said "When they come into conflict, I will have to be with the village." Moses studied Dave's body language and concluded that he meant it.
So Moses said "OK, good. Gather 'round, all you guys. It's time you all learned what we are actually planning to do. Dave, you will be playing a key part, I hope. So here's the plan . . . ."
Bob Coates and Rita Johanson, in her dormitory room on the Satellite West Campus
Rita lifted a glass of beer and proposed a toast: "To dear dead friends back East."
Bob lifted his glass in reply and proposed "To a new life together on a new planet." After a short pause, he added "You do want to go there with me, don't you?"
"I think that you are supposed to deliver a line like that on one knee, with a ring in your hands." Rita smiled.
"I'll give you the down-on-one-knee bit, since you asked." Bob suited actions to words, and knelt down by the chair where Rita was sitting. "But our destination is a planet full of Potsdam Villagers. I don't think that a ring is quite appropriate. Give me your hands."
"Both hands?" Rita held them out.
Bob grabbed both of her wrists, brought them together, and secured them in his right hand. He fished a pair of handcuffs out of the tool pouch at his waist and clipped them onto her wrists in front. He said "That fits the Potsdam Village way of doing things better. Don't you agree?"
This was the first time that he had handcuffed her since the morning after the Engineering Department handcuff party. Rita held her wrists up near her face, took a good look at the cuffs, and asked "Isn't this the pair of cuffs we wore for that party?"
"The very same ones."
She shook her wrists and made the chain jangle. "This seems kind of unfair. You didn't wait for me to say yes before you put them on me. Now they are locked and I can't get them off. What if I wanted to say no?"
"I suppose you would have to use your safety phrase first."
"Okay. Rita Marie Johanson." Rita smiled.
"Do you mean that?" This really wasn't a reply that Bob had been expecting.
"Yes. Rita Marie Johanson." Rita kept smiling.
"OK, if you insist . . . " With a stunned expression on his face, Bob slowly stood up, fished a key ring out of his pocket, looked down at Rita, and undid the handcuffs.
Rita told Bob to "Step back", and stood up herself. Then she peeled off her gray sweat suit and her underwear, tossed the clothing into the corner of the room, said "Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!" She hugged and kissed Bob, then turned away and put her hands behind her back.
Bob stayed behind her as he snapped a cuff onto one of her wrists, pushed her gently to her loft bed, tumbled her onto the bed on her back, and handcuffed her arms around an upper-bunk support pole. Then he sat down beside her, hugged her, and began to caress her slim tummy, massage her breasts, and kiss her face. She said "Oh! Mmmmmm!" His hands worked their way toward her crotch.
After about ten minutes of this treatment, he said "Do you know [kiss on left cheek] what happens to a woman [kiss on right cheek] who uses her safety phrase [kiss on right side of neck] to tease a man [long, intense kiss on lips] who is learning to follow Potsdamer rules and customs?"
"I'll bet she gets [desperate gasp for air] horribly tortured . . . . . How are you going [deep sigh] to torture me?"
"Like this." Bob let go, walked across the room, opened Rita's closet door, pulled one of her wheeled storage trunks out, opened it, and began to put the clothing hanging in the closet into the chest. "We need to get you packed."
Rita lay where she was, naked, cuffed to a post, ready for passion, hung up, unable to do anything to push that passion further. Bob kept packing. She snarled "You are a sneaky, low-down, nasty, fiendish bastard! Besides that, you are mean! Let me go!"
Bob replied "I suppose I have to accept sneaky, low-down, nasty, and fiendish. Those are all matters of opinion. But I am not a bastard. My parents were quite legitimately married when I was conceived and when I was born. Those are facts. I can document them. And I am not mean, unless I need to punish a woman who misuses her safety phrase to tease her man." He picked her sweat suit and underwear up from the corner where she had tossed them, put them on the bed, released her from the handcuffs, and added "Get dressed. I need your help in packing."
An hour later they left her dormitory. He pulled four-wheeled storage trunks, one on each side behind him. A single mattress lay across both trunks, bridging the gap between them. Two drawers from the bureau in her room were piled onto the mattress, full of additional clothing. Rita followed along directly behind him, making certain that the mattress didn't fall off and that nothing blew out of the drawers. The couple hiked together down the two blocks of residential street between the Satellite West Campus and the USM Main Campus.
When they arrived at Bob's dormitory room, they unpacked enough of Rita's stuff to move her in. Bob said "You're still being punished. Got to sleep. No masturbating! We've had a long day, and we may have a longer one as soon as tomorrow." Eventually Rita did get some sleep.
Diane Fujioka, USM junior, and Tony Gilmore, recent graduate; TypeLink Conversation
10:10 PM Diane
Didja watch Tina?
10:11 PM Tony
10:11 PM Diane
I plan to register tomorrow. But I won't go w/out you. How soon can you get here?
The hoverways are closed.
R U going to let that stop you? Thought you liked bike riding.
Dun 50K often enuf. But the trip would be five 50K's one right after another.
So you can't do it? I should move outside the quarantine fences & stay on Earth? With U & plague? Take my chances? Hope for best?
Say something!!!! Go to Skype, even!
SATC. Milt Hanson dropped in. We're negotiating.
I'm crawling up the walls here. Negotiating about what?
Also getting advice. & making arrangements. Patience.
Lots of patience.
The silence is driving me crazy.
OK, deal done. I've traded my racer for Milt's mountain bike. I'll have my back pack and the bike's saddle bags to haul stuff. After the first 150K I'll be able to lay over at Nick Smith's house, you should remember Nick.
GREAT! GREAT! Only HURRY! HURRY! I don't want you outside the quarantine fence when the gates are closed!!
I'll have to pace myself. If I hurry too much on the opening legs of the trip, my legs will go to rubber and I will never be able to finish.
Start tonight and ride through the dark, then?
Look at the weather forecast. Clouds. Rain. It's supposed to blow over by tomorrow. I'll start then. A good night's sleep will be more useful tonight. I'll hurry as best I can, but there are limits. I'm as anxious to see you as you are to see me.
OK, pace yourself then. You know your own limits. Finish the trip, don't turn your legs to rubber & force yourself to quit short. I'll trust you not to dilly-dally. I'll let you get your sleep. 'Night XXXX.
University President Maxine Lee, on Sunday morning
" . . . The village will have a housing program waiting for you. As a matter of fact, that housing program will be receiving some of the carbon copies of your registration forms in order to help its staff organize things.
"I think that that covers everything that is really important. So register as soon as you can, at the desk of any dormitory or in the student center, and then pack and stand by. Be sure to label your suitcases, since they may get separated from you during the move. I will hope to see many of you and work with you on our new planet.
"Thank you for listening. Good-night."
Tina Carlsen's image faded from the screen of President Lee's personal-assistant computer. The computer told her in print that "This was recorded late yesterday evening. I thought that you would want to see it as soon as you logged on."
Maxine growled "Damn right! I can't even babysit and play with my three-year-old granddaughter for a night without things going to hell in my absence. Connect me with Professor Burlington, right now!"
Tina Carlsen replied a few moments later, voice-only. "Good morning, Dr. Lee. I hadn't expected a call from you this early in the morning. Is there some sort of emergency?"
"Apparently there is, an emergency deficiency in your common sense. Do you have any idea how much trouble the university will be in when Secretary Roe hears that speech you gave last night? Why are you hiding behind voice-only? Are you with your Professor Burlington right now, and he doesn't want to answer this call himself?"
"No ma'am. My Professor is on 4960 right now. I have been jogging, and I'll go to video as soon as I am done with my shower and I'm decently dressed."
"Oh. Did you write last night's speech, or did your professor?"
"I wrote it. I don't even know if he has heard it yet. I don't know if anybody was assigned to carry a recording across. I thought I said what he wanted me to say." Maxine Lee and Tina Carlsen both knew as a matter of course that radio signals and other electromagnetic waves get distorted when passing through a warp. Messages must be recorded on some sort of solid medium in order to be clearly understandable after a warp transit.
President Lee resumed "Then start writing another speech as soon as you are dressed. It should go out within the next hour. Apologize to everybody for announcing the start of a registration program that you should have known is clearly illegal. When Secretary Roe calls - and I'm sure she will - I want to be able to tell her that you have made another announcement, and that the registration program you talked about on your speech last night has been canceled. While you are at it, get those registration people out of the dormitories right now."
"Yes, Ma'am. I'll start drafting. I don't have any authority over the registration teams, however. They are mostly village people. You should talk to Moses Potsdam. He is probably with my Professor on 4960."
"Okay, then. This can't wait. I'll visit 4960 myself and personally keelhaul both of them. I'll record what I say for later playback to Secretary Roe. In the meantime, start writing."
Maxine left the apartment where her daughter and grandchildren were staying and walked back toward the campus. As she approached one of the gates in the new fencing, she noticed that a squad of young village men was keeping watch there and checking IDs of everybody who went through. They all wore baseball caps that were white on the sides and colored on the front and back. This seemed to be a sort of villager uniform. Maxine pulled out her University card and moved toward the line of people waiting to go in, but one of the young men recognized her and waved her through.
Maxine had been angry about the speech. She was even more angry about young village men apparently taking it on themselves to inspect, and then approve or turn away, anybody who wished to enter the campus. This gave her another bone to pick with Moses Potsdam.
Then she became absolutely furious at what she found in progress at the Ecology Department building. A steady stream of Potsdam Villagers was going into one of the two Quonset huts which were used as airlocks during transfers to and from CBQ 4960. As she watched, the hut filled up; its large-garage-sized door closed; the door on the other hut opened; and the stream of villagers continued, now using the other hut. An all-out transfer from Earth to CBQ 4960 was clearly in progress.
She pulled out her Schaeffer Scriber and told it to "Connect. Central University Computer."
The central computer replied in a very dry tone "Connected." Like most computers, it had been programmed to use the completely unemotional tone of voice that might have been expected from a computer. Anybody who heard it would immediately realize that the intelligence on the other end of a conversation was not a human being.
"This is President Maxine Lee. Direct Order. Shut down operation of the Quonset hut airlocks to CBQ 4960." Nobody who heard her tone of voice could be in any doubt that she was a human being, and a coldly angry one at that.
But the computer answered "Cannot comply. Quonset hut doors are operating under full manual override. I have no control."
"We'll see about that." Maxine marched up to a guy wearing a green-and-white baseball cap who was standing in front of the two Quonset huts directing traffic. "This operation is to shut down right now. Direct this traffic back to the South Campus website. I'm going in and telling the door tenders to quit."
But the guy in the villager baseball cap refused very courteously to cooperate. He answered "I'm sorry, Ma'am. You may be the head of the university, but I am not a student, or a teacher, nor am I in one of your chains of command in any other way. My orders come down a village chain of command from Moses Potsdam, and I've been told to keep the traffic flowing. Somebody needs to talk to Mr. Potsdam in order to get that order changed. My boss will be yelling at me if I shut down without proper authorization. Mr. Potsdam is on CBQ 4960 now. If you wish, you can join the next group of people who will be warping over. Somebody on the other side of the warp gate should be able to direct you to wherever Mr. Potsdam is right now."
Maxine answered "Thank you", very coldly, and she went into the hut that was filling with villagers. She crowded past the columns of waiting horses and wagons to the head of the line.
The acting traffic cop watched her go. He looked around, spotted a former teacher of his driving the horses that were pulling one of the wagon strings, and he said "Hello, Mr. Jannsen. Could you do me a big favor?"
"Hello, Bryan, what's up?"
"I need help in carrying out Operation Cromwell. As soon as you go through, please telephone the warehouses using the phone in the warp building. Warn them that President Lee is coming, and she's on the warpath. They will need to know. Also, tell them Cromwell Two will be carried out at noon if I don't get orders to cancel it"
"I'll bet she doesn't realize what she is getting into. OK, I will do that. What's Cromwell Two?"
"Confidential. I'll tell you later when it won't be a secret any more."
"I gather you have to stay here."
"Yes, I'm directing traffic."
"Get back to work, then. I'll hope to see you soon."
"Thanks. Believe me, this is important. I'll see you."
- - - - -
Maxine Lee could not fault the courtesy which everybody on the far side of the warp gate showed to her. Within only a few minutes they found a University electric-powered vehicle and a driver to take her to the complex of buildings which had been nicknamed the University of Southern Minnesota CBQ 4960 Campus. Most of them were built as hotels, warehouses, and dormitories. They had been used for goods and people being transferred back and forth between Earth and CBQ 4960.
A young village woman was waiting for Maxine at the door of one of the warehouses. The greeting was "Good morning, Ma'am. My name is Jo. Please come right this way." Jo was wearing a T-shirt and Bermuda shorts. Red and white ribbons were tied neatly in bows around her steel collar and around a pin in her hair. The ribbons were apparently the female version of the colored-and-white baseball caps worn by young village men.
The interior of the warehouse was divided into a series of rooms and cages of various sizes. If Maxine Lee had stopped to consider the probable implications of this, she would probably have turned around and tried to flee back to Earth to raise an alarm. But she was still too angry to do any stopping and considering. Jo guided her down a corridor between some of these cages, and finally said "In here, Ma'am." And sure enough, Moses Potsdam and Professor Charles Burlington were waiting for her in a space about two and a half by three meters in size, surrounded by draperies, with a door made of chain-link fencing.
She stormed in and opened her mouth to unleash her anger. Before she could start, Professor Burlington said "Zip it, Maxine! Zip it or get tased!" She looked back and forth at the two men. They both had tasers aimed at her.
She closed her mouth in absolute shock at this style of greeting. Moses Potsdam turned to the guide and said "Stick around Jo. We'll need your help."
Jo answered "Yessir. What do you want me to do?"
"Search Maxine, and take away anything that might be electronic. We don't want her raising any alarms."
Burlington said "Maxine, I'm afraid I have to ask you to go over to that wall. Don't say anything. Anything that you do say will be presumed to be a trigger phrase for your electronics to send an alarm, and we will tase you before you can get more than half a syllable out. Reach up above your head and grab the wall. That's it, thank you. Jo, you're on."
Jo went over to Maxine and peeled off her belt, with her waist pouch/handbag that held her Schaeffer Scriber. Her watch, her earrings, and her necklace soon joined her Scriber in that handbag. Jo said "Kick off your shoes, Ma'am" and then "Hands behind your back, Ma'am," and when Maxine followed these orders, Jo picked the shoes up and stripped Maxine's vest off. The men aimed inquiring looks at Jo, who explained "I know this style of vest. It's lined with flex-fabric electronics."
Jo carried Maxine's belongings out of the room. Eric Potsdam and Professor Burlington followed her out. Professor Burlington turned back to close and lock the cage door. He said "I know this stunt is coming as something of a shock, Maxine, but you know how much trust I have in the federal government. My bet is, if we announced that CBQ 4960 is available now as a shelter from the plague, the Potsdam Villagers would just be stuck on campus, watching a stream of bureaucrats warping through and stealing the planet that should be ours. We're going to confront Secretary Roe with a fait accompli. By the way, did you happen to overhear anybody saying anything about Operation Cromwell as you warped over?"
"No. What's Operation Cromwell?"
"We named it after Oliver Cromwell, who disrupted the government of England back in the 1600's by having King Charles I beheaded. I thought that you might figure that out during your stay here and start worrying about our plans for you. We aren't going to behead you, literally, but we are beheading the administration of the university, in part by holding you here. That ought to slow down the government response to our operations."
He continued "You do have something else to think about. Will you be staying on CBQ 4960, or going back to Earth and facing the plague? Unlike student-age women, you are too old to have any more children, so you can't help in creating the first generation of humans who will be born on the new planet. It would therefore be immoral for us to keep you if you don't want to stay. You have about one day to make up your mind. If you stay, you will need a man to be in charge of you. I'll volunteer, or you can pick somebody else. Whichever way you decide, the decision will be final in less than 24 hours.
"I'll see you around." Professor Burlington walked away.
Maxine Lee looked around her cage. It contained a single-bed mattress, a bottle of water, a covered pail with a toilet seat on top, and a roll of toilet paper. A quick inspection showed that the walls were made of chain-link fencing under the fabric draperies.
Maxine Lee stamped her bare foot on the concrete floor and delivered a blast of profanity that few people would expect a woman university president to know. She was still furious, but now she was furious at herself. How could she have allowed herself to walk so easily into a waiting trap?
Chapter 7: Further Developments on Sunday
Curt, Pauline, and Carianne Eisen, in the USM South Campus campground, Sunday morning
"Daa-dee! They're leaving without us!"
Curt Eisen had spent Saturday night with his wife Pauline in a double sleeping bag. The pain and anxiety in his daughter's voice quickly brought him out from behind the canvas drape that hung in the family's travel tent to give the adults a bit of privacy. He wore nothing but pajama bottoms. He peeked out from the tent alongside his daughter Carianne. A steady stream of horses and wagons were indeed leaving the campgrounds.
"I'll have to check this out, Carianne." Curt ducked back behind the privacy drape and dressed quickly. He made a short tour of the campgrounds to see what was happening. During this tour he spoke with Maria Ernsberger, the ponygirl coach who had taken care of Carianne during her hike to the campground (although Carianne was not yet old enough to be a regular Potsdam Village ponygirl). He also spoke with several of the young men in village baseball caps who were organizing the departure.
After about twenty minutes, he returned to the Eisen family tent. Carianne was standing out in front, starting to cook a pan of scrambled eggs on the charcoal grill. Lots of lighter fluid had been used to make a quick fire.
He told her "It's OK. We're going onward in a different order from the way we came here from Potsdam Village. The first group this time is carts and wagons pulled by horses. None of the marching ponygirls have left yet. Our family carts are pulled by a mechanical tractor, and none of the tractors have left yet either."
"Aw Rats! I thought that I was going to lead the parade all the way to our new home. This feels like somebody is cheating."
"They aren't exactly cheating, Carianne. They are just not playing the game you thought we all were playing. The rules aren't quite the same as the ones you would have written. Besides, this is fair, isn't it? The ponygirls were first before, and now they will probably be last."
"I still don't like it, but I guess it is fair."
"I also talked to Mrs. Ernsberger. You will still be the leader of the ponygirl group. That's something, anyway."
"I guess so."
"Has your Mommy eaten breakfast yet?"
"Daa-dee." Carianne's tone of voice added the words 'Don't be silly.' She continued "You have told me plenty of times that Mommy-and-Daddy tie-up games are for grown-ups, just like alcoholic drinks, and children like me aren't allowed to play. When you dashed out of here, you left Mommy all secured in your sleeping bag. She hasn't used her safeword, so I haven't even gone in to the adult end of the tent."
"Good girl. I was a bit worried for a moment when I saw you cooking breakfast. Did you do that on your own?"
"Yes. Mommy has been showing me how. I think that I did everything she told me to do so that I wouldn't burn myself, or the tent, or anything. Do you want some scrambled eggs and sausage?"
"Yes, thank you. I'll go in and check on Mommy. Make enough for her and for me."
Not too surprisingly, Pauline Eisen was still where Curt had left her. She was naked inside the double sleeping bag, lying on her back, with her arms at her sides in full-length sleeves that were part of the bottom of the bag. Four leather strap ends were anchored to the bottom of the sleeping bag and connected together at a special fancy buckle on her breastbone to hold her in place and keep her from pulling her arms out of the sleeves. Two of these strap ends came up through her armpits, and two were anchored on either side of her neck.
She smiled and said "Good morning."
"I heard what you just told Carianne, of course. I wonder why the march order is being changed."
Curt spoke quietly, so that Carianne could not overhear him. "I don't know for sure, but I think that I can make a good guess. I'm guessing that we are warping across to our new planet without getting legal permission first. Horse-drawn carts and wagons are going first, because the University Department of Ecology has a government contract which allows them to transfer animals and the staff to tend them with no higher approvals. That is a pretty thin excuse, since those horses are pulling cartloads of belongings, but it is better than nothing. Tractors will go next, with most of the camp tents still left up, making it look like our base is still on Earth. Ponygirls and their cartloads of camp tents will go last. I hope that no cops catch on until the last of the ponygirls are safely over."
"Oooo. So do I. An awful lot of families will leave daughters behind if the transfer is interrupted too soon. Including us, of course. What about the University people, the students and professors and so on who were invited to register last night? Will they be going too, at the same time? Wouldn't that slow our transfer?"
"Moses Potsdam and Professor Burlington might have an argument about that. I don't know who would win."
Cariannne interrupted this tense conversation by standing at the other side of the canvas-drape tent divider and announcing "Knock knock! Breakfast is ready!" She passed one plate with one fork, one very large serving of scrambled eggs, and five sausages in to her father. She stayed outside the adult area. Curt hadn't made up his mind about whether to turn his wife loose or feed her, but feeding her was what their daughter clearly expected. So he took the hint, rolled up a blanket to serve as a wedge pillow, helped Pauline sit up, and gave her breakfast one forkful at a time before he released the fancy buckle on her breastbone.
Undercooked scrambled eggs are thin and runny. Overcooked scrambled eggs have the consistency of foamed plastic. Carianne's scrambled eggs were just right. Both of her parents made a point of telling her "Great breakfast! Thanks!" .
Lou Sullivan and Chi Rivera,
In the University Campus 911 Dispatch Center, Sunday noon
The shifts in the dispatch center lasted for six hours. Louis Sullivan and Carlotta Helena Imelda Rivera - "Chi", from her initials - became the team on duty at 12 noon.
Lou scanned all of the center's displays and video images, finding nothing that he didn't expect to see. The steady stream of Potsdam Villagers still flowed across several of the video screens, heading into the Quonset huts on their way to CBQ 4960, but that was nothing new. Weeks had passed since the village had begun sending supplies, equipment, and tools across to the planet they hoped to move to. People and animal herds had started across on the previous day.
After the scan, Lou let his eyes rest on his partner. Her Spanish heritage showed in her olive skin, black hair, and dark eyes. She noticed the way Lou was staring at her, and she smiled back. Her smile exposed her gleaming-white teeth, a perfect contrast to her dark complexion and her navy-blue police uniform. He was convinced that she was the most beautiful woman on the face of the planet Earth. She thought he was a handsome dude too.
After only a few moments, however, she turned away and said "Study your screens. I do enjoy working with you, but we'll have to break up our working partnership if we pay more attention to each other than to the work we are supposed to be doing." Lou did turn away, but he was also smiling. He had been trying to work up his courage to ask his beautiful dispatch-center partner for a date. Her comment about enjoying her work with him implied that she might be willing to say yes, if he asked.
Somebody knocked on the door. Chi looked up through the window in that door and saw Dave Antonion wearing his police-volunteer hat, carrying a box from a local doughnut shop. She said "Oh good! I woke up late and didn't have time to eat lunch before our shift started."
She let Dave in. She asked "What to you have for us?"
Dave answered "Taser darts." Zap zap! Lou and Chi both went down before either one could react.
Dave said "Sorry about this, but you are in the way of Plan Cromwell Two." He used small alcohol swabs to scrub spots on the biceps muscles revealed by the police-uniform short-sleeve shirts that Lou and Chi were both wearing. Then he injected them with ampoules of knock-out drugs. Lou and Chi were unconscious before they could recover from the tasing.
A few minutes later two more villagers arrived separately at the dispatch center. They were both volunteers from the Potsdam Village 911 program, so they knew the procedures. Dave knew the local details, so between them they could operate the university center. All emergency messages to and from the University of Southern Minnesota were from then on under the control of Potsdam Villagers. The video images from security cameras could be used to help in controlling the campus.
Dave Antonion pulled the inert bodies of Lou Sullivan and Chi Rivera over to one side of the center. They were packaged into large cardboard boxes and transferred to CBQ 4960 soon afterward when opportunity offered.
Several hours later, in a warehouse cage on CBQ 4960
Lou Rivera recovered from his knock-out drugging sufficiently to look around and take in his new surroundings. He and Chi had about a three-by-four-meter space, enclosed by hanging draperies. The space had a door made of chain-link fencing at one corner. The items supplied included a covered bucket with a toilet seat, a roll of toilet paper, and two single-bed mattresses placed end-to-end along the wall opposite the door. Chi was lying feet-to-feet with him on the other mattress.
He was too dizzy at first to stand up, so he shook his head and said "Hoo boy!" Then he thought about the other changes in his and Chi's situation and added "Goddammitall to hell!"
Somebody from the other side of one of the walls answered "Hello. Who is it? You can pull the draperies aside, if you wish, and tuck them out of the way so you can see me."
Lou followed this suggestion. Under the draperies was more chain-link fencing. University President Maxine Lee was in the next cage. He said "Hello, Ms. President. Did they tase you too?"
"No, they conned me into a trap. I gather that they did tase both you and Chi."
"Yeah. We got double-crossed by Dave Antonion. He is a security volunteer. I'd forgotten that he was born and brought up in Potsdam Village."
Behind him Chi said "Hello, President Lee." Then she turned her attention to Lou and added "Oh good, you're awake now too, this time. Is there any food or water in those boxes by the door?"
Lou said "I dunno. Have you been awake already, before now? "
"Yes, for a little while about an hour ago. I couldn't do anything about feeling hungry and thirsty, so I rolled over and went back to sleep again."
"Are you sick? Do you still feel too dizzy to move off of the mattress? Is something else wrong? Why didn't you check the boxes yourself?"
"I couldn't. This chain on my neck is too short." She sat up, and the links of that chain jangled together. The chain connected her neck to a corner post of the cage, and that post was diagonally opposite the cell door. The boxes that she had noticed were indeed beyond her reach.
President Lee said "Oh-mmm". She had apparently started to say 'oh-oh' and thought better of it, but not quite in time to keep her mouth entirely shut.
Chi realized what President Lee had almost said. In an alarmed tone of voice, she asked "Do you think I'm in some sort of trouble?"
President Lee replied "I suppose you are. I suppose we all are, one way or another. In your case, I think that it means you won't be allowed to go back to Earth. They are keeping you. The good news is, you probably won't be risking exposure to the Tsalichi plague. The bad news is, you will never see any of the friends and family that you left behind on Earth again, and you will be placed under the authority of some man. You won't be your own person any more."
"Oh, great. How about you? I don't see a chain on you. Does that mean you will be going back?"
"I think so. I have been told that I have a choice, either going back and facing the plague or staying here and having a man in charge of me. My daughter, and my son-in-law, and my little grandson and granddaughter, are all still on Earth. I have to go back and see if I can help them get enough vitamin K to survive the plague."
"Lou isn't chained either. Will he be sent back with you?" Her tone of voice showed that Chi was worried. Would Lou be able to stay and become her man-in-charge?
Lou answered "I think I'm being tested." While the women were talking, he had crawled over to the boxes by the door and checked their contents.
He continued "One of these boxes contains bottled water, and sandwiches, and bananas, enough food for both of us. I'm being given control your food supply. The other box contains bondage supplies: short lengths of chain, and some padlocks, and a pair of size-small Irish-8 handcuffs that won't fit my wrists, but I'll bet they fit yours, and a coiled-up whip, and a ring of keys. I'm being given control of you.
"I could unchain you from the wall, and try to insist that the Potsdamers respect you as another human being, and demand equal treatment for you and for me. That would probably get me sent back to Earth because I would be too wimpy for Potsdam Village.
"Or I could blame you for our current situation - after all, you did let Dave Antonion into the 911 center - and chain your arms to the wall, and rip your clothes off, and whip your back until it is bloody, and then rape you. That would probably get me sent back to Earth because I would be too sadistic for Potsdam Village.
"So if I want to stay, I have to follow a middle course." He smiled at Chi and added "I hope I get this right." He picked up the Irish-8 cuffs, a bottle of water, and a banana. He stood up and walked over to Chi, who was still sitting on her mattress. He loomed over her, looked down, and ordered "Put your hands behind your back." She looked up at him, shifted to a kneeling position, and followed his order.
A few minutes later Chi was kneeling next to Lou on one of the mattresses with her hands cuffed wrists-to-elbows across the small of her back and her neck still shackled to the corner post of the cell. Lou fed her the banana and a sandwich, one bite at a time. Between bites, Chi said "you won't have to whip me to keep me in line. I'll tell you a secret. I am very ticklish. I don't like to be tickled for more than a few seconds. If you tie me down tight, and you tickle away for several minutes while I can't get away, you will be able to make me agree to do anything you want."
Lou asked "Did you ever tell any of your boy friends about that?"
"No. But now I am telling you."
Lou smiled at her very possessively and said "Thank you very much, Chi. That is the nicest thing any girl ever said to me."
Several hours later Sam Carlsen came through the warehouse on an inspection tour. He was Tina Carlsen's father, he had been the lawyer for the Potsdam Village City Council on Earth, and he had become one of the leaders of the transfer operation. He found that Lou and Chi had rearranged their mattresses side by side instead of end to end. They were lying face-down on these mattresses. Lou had one arm across Chi's shoulders. Chi still had her arms handcuffed across her back.
A clipboard was hanging on the chain-link fencing alongside the door of their cell. Several guards had looked in on them and made notations on the paper clipped to that board. Sam Carlsen read the notations, and then added one more: "Chi Rivera is to be granted white collar status."
Deputy John Rheinbauer and his wife Amanda
Saturday evening Amanda Rheinbauer sat in her small apartment, not far from campus, and listened to Tina Carlsen's speech on the campus radio station. Early Sunday morning she visited the University of Southern Minnesota student center and registered for transfer to CBQ 4960. She was about three months pregnant, and she did not want her unborn child to die of the plague before that child had lived. Her husband John had gone on duty as a deputy, working a 7-to-3 shift.
Amanda spent the rest of the morning packing the big old ground-effect station wagon that they had inherited from her husband's great-uncle, putting in everything she could think of that might be desirable in a new home on a new planet: bedspreads, towels, tablecloths, all used to wrap dishes, framed pictures, bookreaders, and other small appliances; several genuine old paper books; silverware; kitchen and garden tools; and John's toolkits from his work bench. Amanda had no trouble in filling the back of the station wagon with small items that could make a place on a new planet into her home, not an anonymous barracks room. She didn't like leaving her furniture behind, but she could fit only a couple of folding chairs in the wagon by the time that all of the small stuff was packed.
At about 2:00 PM she was resting in bed when her cell phone rang. It was one of the most unusual phone conversations that Amanda had ever participated in.
Her husband began "Amanda darling, I love you. I had to say that first. I'm being kidnapped. This isn't a joke. I know that it is supposed to be the gal who gets kidnapped, and the guy who acts as a knight on a white charger. Things are kind of upside-down. If you ever want to see me again, follow the orders of the guy who will be on this phone next. I am really being kidnapped." His tone of voice did not sound as if he was kidding. The phone was in video mode, and the anxious look on his face appeared to be genuine.
"Uh, John, what the hell do you mean you're being kidnapped? Aren't you on duty?"
A strange male face filled the screen, and a strange voice responded "Not any more he isn't. He got suspicious about what we are doing on campus, but he wasn't suspicious enough to call in a bunch of back-up. He came to the security center alone to check us out. Five of us surrounded him in close quarters. He was too smart to try to fight us at those odds. We grabbed him, and disarmed him, and took all of his police gear away before he could call in an alarm, and tied him up, and we are about to transfer him to CBQ 4960. If you ever want to see him again, you have to follow orders right now. Do you have any more packing to do?"
Amanda answered "Uh, I think so, I'll have to look around. I haven't put anything in the front seat yet."
The unknown voice replied "Do it quickly. Then drive to campus and come through any gate, as soon as you can. We aren't the ones setting the tight deadline. The cops are bound to catch on to what is happening soon. Then the alarm will be given. When that happens, the campus will be surrounded by deputies and 'police line do not cross' yellow tape. We will be closing and locking all of the gates in self-defense. If that happens while you are still outside, you will never see John again." The unknown person turned away from the cell phone for a moment and added "And of course he will never see you. If you call the cops right now, the yellow tape will go up before you could reach the campus. John doesn't think you should do that, do you, John?"
John's voice came back, shouting, some distance away from his cell phone: "Don't do it, please, Amanda, I want to see you again. Pack instead, and come to campus now. I love you."
The strange voice concluded "Those may be the last words you ever hear your husband say. Get cracking. Now!" The connection was broken.
Amanda looked around her bedroom. Should anything else be taken? She exclaimed "I'm an idiot! Clothes!!" She grabbed dresser drawers, carried them one by one out to the station wagon, and piled them in the right front seatwell and on the right front seat. She took armfuls of hanging clothing out of the closet and piled them on top of the dresser drawers. At the last minute, she pulled a pocket knife/multi-tool from the pocket of her blue jeans and unscrewed the 'Rheinbauer' name plate from its place alongside their front door. And then she headed for campus.
Police Dispatcher Sandra Williams, and Sheriff Theodore Wilkerson
"Sheriff, I think we have some big trouble brewing."
Sheriff Wilkerson turned from the routine red tape that he had been doing in his home office and faced the camera on his phone. Several centuries of computer technology had not managed to eliminate all red tape. He asked "What's the problem?"
"Deputy Rheinbauer and his wife are missing."
"He doesn't answer his personal police radio, or his cell phone. His cruiser just says that he has left it and is investigating something. His wife and his personal car aren't answering anything either. His apartment just says 'not available right now. Leave a message.'"
"When did this happen?"
"Just now. We've got a domestic dispute in progress over on South Street, and I wanted to have him handle it. I've been calling every phone he's supposed to be on for the last five minutes. He hasn't answered."
"Is somebody else handling the domestic dispute?"
"I sent Sam Brown."
"OK. No response from Rheinbauer implies that he has warped over to 4960. He wasn't supposed to do that. I'll probably have to warp over there myself and see if he answers messages broadcast on the other side of the warp link. Is there anybody available to join me? Getting answers on that planet may take more than one officer."
"Monroe and Schmidt were about to go off-duty. I assume that you will be willing to spend some money for overtime, under the circumstances. And I could join you if you are willing to trust Trainee Neidermann with running the dispatch center."
"He seems to be pretty good at it. OK, contact Monroe and Schmidt. Tell them to meet us by the east gate of the campus, the one nearest to the Ecology Department building. I'll pick you up in a few minutes."
In the Sheriff's cruiser
While they drove toward the campus, Sandra Williams gave Sheriff Wilkerson an update. "While I was waiting for you, I called the Department of Xenoenvironmental Development in Washington. It seems that the Potsdam Villagers do not have government approval to re-locate. We've seen that that's what they are doing. The computer that answered my call seemed to be surprised to learn this. It thought that the transfers were all still just animals and supplies. It's going to pass the word up the chain of command. It thinks that Secretary Roe is going to say 'Hell no' and insist that all of the villagers come back."
The sheriff replied "That makes the entire transfer operation a criminal conspiracy. We have a duty to stop it, but somehow I doubt that we are going to be allowed through to where we could interfere. Four cops against an entire village. We will probably need reinforcements."
The sheriff was right. When he arrived at the east gate, it remained firmly shut and locked. The leader of the gate guard detachment told him "I'm sorry, sir. It has been decided that we cannot allow any outside authorities to interfere with our quarantine operations. That kind of mistake has been made several times before by people trying to deal with the plagues. Outside authorities have always insisted that a quarantined area be kept open for just a few more outside people to be allowed in. Those last few people usually included the local authorities and their families. One of those last few people always was infected, so the quarantine always failed. So this time no outside authorities are being allowed in."
The guard leader continued "Nothing personal, sir. I expect that if you, personally, are willing to leave your badge and your weapons and your communications gear outside, then we would probably be willing to accept you and send you across to planet CBQ 4960. But that's you as you, not you as the sheriff. And you have to move fast. A total quarantine will be in force very soon."
Sheriff Wilkerson replied "You realize that this is totally illegal. I'll be coming back soon, with a court order and plenty of back-up."
"Yes, sir. We are hoping to avoid violence. But we figure that fewer lives will be at risk when we defend our quarantine than would be risked by allowing that quarantine to fail. We hope that you wish to avoid violence also."
"I am never in favor of violence. But I have a duty to enforce the law. Tell your people that I expect they will cooperate when I return."
"I'll do that, sir. But I am afraid that they will be as determined as you are. Good luck."
"Same to you." As he traveled back to the Municipal Public Safety Building, Sheriff Wilkerson began to make the phone calls that would bring the entire Regional SWAT Team to the University of Southern Minnesota campus.
End of part 4
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