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.
This is one of the stories of the planet Ericpotsdam, of the fascinating cultures that developed there, and about some of the people who lived in those cultures. This story tells of the original colonizing of the planet.
How did a planet come to be named Ericpotsdam? What beliefs led the people who lived there to stay with a steam-powered technology and use no computers? Why were so many of the early colonists slave women before they left Earth? Why did most of them accept their servitude happily? How and why were many of the other women colonists enslaved during the transfer from Earth? Why didn't the women who preferred freedom return to Earth? Do the historical records of Ericpotsdam give the names and the stories of any of these women?
* * *
Lu Anne Simpson looked out the window of her fourth-floor dormitory room at the activity in the quadrangle below. Dozens of young men were moving in and out of the dormitories on both sides of the quadrangle. That was unusual in itself, since both of the dormitories around this quad were for girls only. And it was even more unusual that this activity was taking place just before dawn.
These young men were all wearing baseball caps of an unusual design; the side panels and the tops of the brims were white, while the front and back panels were darker. Although the young men were not dressed the same, the caps seemed to be a sort of uniform for a team working in a coordinated operation.
Some sort of tie-up party was in progress. Recorded music was playing. Student couples were coming out of the dormitories and being treated to beer and pretzels by the young men in the baseball caps. The guys were tying up or handcuffing their gals; that seemed to be the price for getting cups of beer. Some of the gals were giggling and playing along. Others were apparently objecting, but they were being tied up or handcuffed anyway. Luggage carts were being brought in to the quad and loaded with clothing and other stuff from the dormitories.
More girls were being brought out with their hands tied behind their backs and black bags on their heads, dressed mostly in nightclothes. Some of these girls had found the time to get dressed. Others were nude, presumably because they slept nude and were not given a chance to get clothes on.
Guys in baseball caps were putting more chains and straps on the beer-drinking gals and also on the gals in head bags, adding to the cuffs that confined their wrists behind their backs. Some of these gals were being linked neck-and-neck in chain coffles. Others were being fitted with harnesses which included broad belts around their waists and straps over their shoulders; those gals were being hitched to loaded luggage carts, four pairs of women to each cart. The coffles and the girls pulling the luggage carts were all being herded out of the quadrangle with much snapping of whips and prodding with electric zappers.
Several more young men in baseball caps were on the roof of the dormitory across the quad. Some of them were carrying submachine guns. The rest had assault rifles.
Lu Anne's roommate Stacey Gremminger joined her at the window. Lu Anne turned to Stacey and said "That party is turning into a mass kidnapping. But you and I can prevent any kidnaps from our corridor. There's too many of those guys with guns for us to stop it all without getting shot ourselves, but we've got enough to defend our own corridor. Let's fort up at the corner where we can cover both stairways. If we nail the first one to come through a stairway door, there probably won't be a second one."
The two girls pulled mattresses and hard-shell suitcases into place in the corridor to stop any bullets that might be fired at them. They jammed the elevators by blocking the open doors with furniture, so that any kidnappers would have to use the stairs. Then they opened their special cases and took their guns out. They knew that alarms would ring at Campus Security when those special cases were opened anywhere except on a shooting range, but they didn't care. The invasion of the dormitories already showed that Campus Security was not functioning.
Lu Anne and Stacey were both on scholarship as members of the women's marksmanship team. The emphasis in their contests was on accuracy, with no points for extra striking power, so they used guns which fired low-recoil, fast, straight-shooting rounds. In all the centuries since the invention of rimfire ammunition, nobody had been able to improve on the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire for this purpose.
The massed kidnapping had begun on the lower floors of the dormitory. While they waited, Lu Anne and Stacey used nail files to cut crosses into the noses of their spare ammunition, converting the bullets into much deadlier dumdum rounds. They glanced at each other but did not speak. Each thought and wondered to herself about how the world was changing, that things could come to this in their peaceful little college town.
So How Did It Happen?
Chapter One. Background, Planning and Preparation
Start of an Introductory Lecture by Dr. Charles Burlington to the students (mostly freshmen) taking "Introduction to Extraterrestrial Ecology" at the University of Southern Minnesota
Good Morning. I am the Chairman of the University Department of Ecology. The School of Ecology on this campus has been charged by the Federal Department of Xenoenvironmental Development with the responsibility for terraforming planets CBQ 4960 and CBQ 5632. I am hoping that many of you will wish to join us and work on these projects.
You need not be Ecology majors to do that. We need engineers of all types, especially civil engineers, mining engineers, and space warp engineers. We need biologists, of course, to help in monitoring our new ecologies and to study the native ecologies of planet 4960's oceans. We need veterinarians, and agriculture majors, and chemists, and geologists. I presume that you would all have some interest in this kind of work, since you are taking Ecology 101. I will look forward to working with many of you as we prepare these two planets for human colonization.
I will begin with a review of the basics, which most of you have probably studied in your high school classes.
It's been several centuries now since a way was finally found to evade the lightspeed limit in traveling between the stars. Nothing that moves through the intervening space can go any faster. However, warp tunneling gates can be established that allow someone to step instantly from one world to another.
These gates are practical only over interstellar distances. The first experimental gate, between Earth and Pluto, was found to be an unreliable energy hog that generated large amounts of heat. Nothing living was ever passed through that gate, and the heaviest objects weighed only about 500 grams. Scientists borrowed a word from the classic Harry Potter stories to describe some of the specimens which made the journey; they were badly splinched. But, paradoxically, energy demands are much less over interstellar distances. Interstellar gates have proved to be as safe as a 20th-century automobile journey. The gates to planet Roddenberry, which orbits Alpha Centauri, were the first great outstanding success.
To establish a safe gate, portals are needed at both ends. These portals must be solidly anchored to bedrock on something substantial, like a planet. So the detailed exploration of the galaxy has to be entrusted to robotic spacecraft, fitted with Bussard ramjet propulsion.
These spacecraft can travel between stars with a top speed almost as fast as light. They are programmed to locate the best available planet or moon in the system where they arrive, and then send down a probe that can anchor a small warp tunneling portal. A data capsule is sent back through the newly-established gate giving a preliminary briefing about the destination planet. If the place looks promising, more small robots and building supplies can be sent out to build a larger portal. Eventually, if conditions are favorable, a very large portal will transfer entire busloads of people and entire truckloads of supplies, and a new world will be opened for human settlement.
Of course nobody has ever realistically expected to find another Earth, with a compatible ecology, ready for people to move in. Even the better candidate planets typically require some terraforming first. The early settlers might need to stay in protective suits whenever they are outdoors. This is certainly true on CBQ 5632. And on many planets, native life forms need to be suppressed.
Planet CBQ 4960 is one of the better candidates. It is cooler than Earth, with large ice caps at both poles. It has less water, so the oceans and seas are smaller and shallower, and they are not interconnected into one large body of water comparable to the oceans of Earth. Vast stretches of the land are, and probably always will be, barren water-free desert. The axis of rotation is tilted about five degrees more than that of Earth, and this tilt causes intense seasonal weather patterns. CBQ 4960 is younger than Earth and has never been through a carboniferous era, so there is no coal or oil that could be used as starting points for making organic chemicals. Composition of the planetary crust is poorer in iron. There is no moon.
To set against these imperfections, the day and the year are quite familiar, both nearly the same length as those of Earth. The star has a red-dwarf companion, and the light from that red dwarf substitutes for moonlight, although it varies on about an annual not a monthly basis. CBQ 4960 is larger than Earth, but less dense, so surface gravity is about the same. There is more aluminum, copper, and tin in the rocks. Even more important, the atmosphere was breathable even before terraforming was started. This atmosphere is lower in surface pressure but higher in oxygen concentration than Earth. A rich native ecology fills the oceans and seas with plant life that has created the necessary free oxygen. This oxygen has been released quite recently, as geologists measure time. Before the oxygen was released, there could not be an ozone layer to shield the land areas from radiation and allow life to develop. Native land-based life forms did not have the opportunity to evolve.
About 200 years ago terraforming teams were sent to CBQ 4960 to establish an Earth-type ecology on the land. They started with mosses and lichens, which could survive without soil by clinging to rocks and mud. Grasses came next, with ants and earthworms and other small life forms. Legumes and special bacteria added nitrogen to help in converting sand and clay to fertile soil. Sheep, goats, and ponies were soon eating the grasses; wolves and pumas were released to control the grazing animals. Trees were added to the mixture, supplying nesting places for many species of birds, eventually creating forests. Beavers were brought in to build their dams and create freshwater lakes where Earth-type fishes and water birds could swim. Mudflats were converted to swamps by adding ferns. The over-all process went much, much faster than it had on Earth, because there were no delays for new species to evolve. As soon as an ecological niche opened up, an appropriate life form was imported to fill it. You will be studying this process in greater detail if you are an Ecology major. The Agriculture, Biology, and Chemistry departments have a joint course which goes into greater detail about soil chemistry; that course counts toward the requirements of all three of these majors and also toward a degree in Ecology.
Today the area around the primary gate is finally ready for colonists who can begin farming, with grasses and trees and birds and animals and the other ingredients of a terrestrial ecology all well established. The rest of the planet is coming along quite nicely. Are any of you interested in becoming pioneers? I expect that those who help with the terraforming will have an inside track on property ownership and full-time jobs on CBQ 4960.
We now have some very active Planetary Resources Development Teams at work on the planet. Geologists have located some good sites for future metals mining. Chemists have worked on the products which can be made from the abundant sea life. None of the sea life is edible for humans or for animals from Earth ancestry, but it should be a great source for fuels, and fibers, and plastics, and other products.
You don't have to have technical training to become a pioneer there. Are you an education major? The settlers will have children, so they will need teachers. They will also need accountants, and lawyers, and lots of other people who aren't technicians.
It should be an attractive planet to live on. The Department of Ecology has been working for years toward making the food supply of CBQ 4960 independent from Earth as quickly as possible after colonization begins. We have established valuable crops - wheat, beans, peas, corn, rice, bananas, apples, strawberries, wine grapes, cotton, bamboo, rubber, sugar as both cane and beets, chocolate, many others - some on a large scale already, others on test plots and greenhouses that will act as seed reservoirs when farmers became available to cultivate those crops in areas of the planet with appropriate weather conditions. The planet will be able to provide a flavorful and interesting diet from the very beginning of colonization. The test plots also include fuelberries and other valuable crops that are native to planets other than Earth.
Our other planet is designated CBQ 5632, and CBQ 5632 is quite different. It is almost waterless, and it has only a thin atmosphere of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon, so it is much less attractive to live on. But the crust contains high concentrations of all sorts of valuable minerals. We intend to process some of these minerals into pure ingots of things like platinum and iridium on-planet. That way the warp gates from 5632 will not be burdened by shipments of unprocessed ore, most of which would just become unwanted wastes here on Earth.
On 5632, ore processing facilities and steel mills can operate with no concern for ecological upsets. Besides, gravity is about the same as on Earth. Unlike steel from the asteroid belt, steel from 5632 can be landed on Earth through a warp gate. A normal-space shipment of steel from the asteroid belt would always pose the risk of accidentally creating a splashdown that would go off like a large nickel-iron meteor impact or a multimegaton bomb.
Planet CBQ 5632 offers many interesting challenges for our mining and mechanical engineers . . . . . .
Tina and Prof. Burlington: Carlsen Family Residence, Potsdam Village, Iowa
Tina Carlsen told Professor Charles Burlington "Don't bother knocking Sir. Go right in. You are bringing me home, remember." She couldn't open the door herself. Her hands were buried in the sleeves of her strait jacket.
So Professor Burlington walked right in with Tina, his former student, who was immediately engulfed in a hug from her mother Arlene. Tina was a rather small blonde, with a well-shaped slim figure, so she was easy to engulf. After the hug, mother looked at daughter and observed "Strait jacket, miniskirt, padded ankle cuffs with about a 40-centimeter linking chain. Hair in a ponytail down to your shoulder blades. Your collar, of course. I see your Professor isn't letting you forget your Potsdam Village background. Wait 'til you see your sister Sophie."
Eric Potsdam, who founded the village several decades earlier, had believed that the most beautiful thing a woman can give her man is her submission. The people who came to live there generally agreed. Many of them kept their women in restraints of various types. Tina's mother was wearing her own collar and cuffs, but without connecting chains. For her, wearing chains during the day was usually a form of punishment. She wasn't required to wear them as long as she followed her husband's orders, except on special occasions and in the bedroom at night. The sleeves of her blouse and the legs of her pants were just a bit short, so that her cuffs were always accessible and on display.
Tina replied "Actually he hasn't been keeping me in close restraints very often. Around the house I wear a bare-midriff blouse, short shorts, and my collar. On campus I dress like most of the students in this cool weather. There are several women's libbers in the college administration, including the president, who is a woman herself. They frown on professors keeping their former students in chains."
Her mother answered "But here it's different."
"But here it's different better. On Planet CBQ 4960 it's different worse. I needed this trip back home to re-set my mind properly. My Professor has promised that he won't let me out of restraints until we head back to campus."
"Do you visit CBQ 4960 often?"
"Yes. My Professor has been using me as Field Inspector. My gold-trimmed esdigie collar engraved with his name is a symbol of authority there. I wear no restraints, and I deliver urgent messages, and I look over the work that the terraforming teams are doing. A good or bad review from me can make or break an Ecology major who is working on the planet. Having that kind of authority makes me nervous."
"Why does he need you to deliver messages? Don't they have voice phones and email on CBQ 4960?"
"Of course. But voice messages can be overheard. Written messages, on paper or on screen, can be read by people who aren't the intended recipients. A message carried in my brain cannot be intercepted. I make sure that nobody can overhear when I deliver those messages."
"Secret messages, therefore."
"Secret messages." Tina smiled at her mother, and then at the professor whom she accepted as her owner. A moment of silence fell. Tina clearly was not about to disclose any secrets. Professor Burlington smiled back at her.
The moment was interrupted by the sound of the front door opening. Two men came in. Professor Burlington knew them both. He was engulfed in greetings in his turn, but with vigorous handshakes, not hugs. Sam Carlsen was Tina's father. Moses Potsdam was the son of Eric Potsdam, the village's founder. He had succeeded his father as the village's elected leader, and he looked the part. He was tall, with a full head of gray hair and a gray mustache.
When the greetings were all said and the handshakes were all exchanged, the men sat down in chairs around the room. Tina Carlsen knelt at her professor's feet. Arlene Carlsen returned to her kitchen to resume work on supper. A few moments later a cute teen-age blonde entered the room and asked "Beer, anyone?"
Tina looked up and replied "Wow, Sophie! Hello! How long have you been wearing that get-up, and where did you get it?" Sophie was wearing a black full-cut bikini, plus collars in both black leather and stainless steel chain, and a serving tray, which was held on by a strap around her chest below her breasts. The outer corners of the tray were supported by chains from the sides of her black leather collar. Another strap went around her chest above her breasts; short tight vertical straps connected it to the tray-support strap. The combination meant that she was offering her bikini-clad breasts on the serving tray behind a row of drinks. Still more straps crisscrossed through her underarms and over her shoulders, and from the way she was holding her arms, it was clear that these crisscross straps were holding a singleglove in place behind her back.
"Would you believe that this tray was from Mom's drawer of old restraint gear? She said that she wore it only once, at a party when she was still in school. The guys at that party pinched and squeezed so enthusiastically that her boobs didn't completely recover for a week. She said never again, but she never threw the tray out or sold it. Beer, anyone?"
"I gather that you trust Mr. Potsdam and my Professor, and of course Dad, not to play any nasty games with your body."
"I trust them enough that I wanted to do this without the bikini. If I had my way, I'd be wearing just the tray, and the singleglove, and the chastity belt. Mom wore it topless, but Dad won't let me. He's making me wear this stupid bikini."
"You're in a chastity belt?" Tina looked more closely, and added "Yeah, I guess you are. It hardly shows under the bikini bottom, but I can tell when I know that it is there. Doesn't Dad trust Jack?"
"He trusts Jack enough that he has approved our going steady. That's what my steel chain collar means. But he doesn't trust Jack's hormones, or mine for that matter. He says he remembers what it was like when he was eighteen. The singleglove is a going-steady present from Jack. I am not allowed to wear it unless I'm in my chastity belt."
"How close can you get your elbows?" Sophie turned around slowly. Her elbows, her wrists, and for that matter her entire forearms, were touching. Tina added "Wow! How long can you stay in that thing with your arms together?"
"Last week Jack took me out to a fast-food supper and a football game, and the singleglove stayed on for the entire time. I don't know how much longer I could wear it before it began to hurt."
"That's better than I could ever do in a singleglove. I always need a tapered glove, wider at the top so my elbows aren't snugged together. The only time I wore a forearms-together glove, it turned into a horrible instrument of torture in less than an hour. My arms hurt."
"Well, it's not really proper for a girl to make a judgment about something like this. Mr. Potsdam, Professor, Dad, how do you think I look?"
Prof. Burlington was becoming annoyed at all of this girl talk. His exasperation showed in his tone of voice as he said "Very good. Now, please come to each of us and let us have those beers. Then I'm afraid that we will have to ask you to leave the room. We have some serious business to discuss. Go play with Jack, or something."
"But you're letting Tina stay?"
Tina answered "I am My Professor's Esdigie. I stay with him. If there is something that he doesn't want me to hear, he can always put me in a blindfold hood with sound-cancelling earphones."
"Oh. OK." Somewhat reluctantly Sophie left the room. Tina stayed kneeling in her strait jacket at Prof. Burlington's feet. She wasn't hooded. Her Professor trusted her to memorize and deliver confidential messages on CBQ 4960, and to keep those messages secret from everybody except the intended recipients. He was perfectly willing to allow her to hear what would be said in this confidential discussion.
Interlude 1: A public email.
Hello everybody, and especially those to whom I am sending this email. I could put this message in a public blog, but it has to reach the people who can do something about it, and those people have to realize that my message is very important. Please, all recipients, forward this message to anybody you know among the leaders of government and the medical and scientific communities.
I am Dr. Robert Z. Jackson, M.D, Ph.D, citizen of the USA. Six months ago I was hired by the government of Tsalichistan to develop an immunizing serum for some extremely nasty viruses that they had developed for use in biological warfare. Yes, I know, biological warfare weapons are banned by treaty. But when you have neighbors like Tsalichistan's neighbors, you have more than treaty compliance to worry about.
I have been told that the objective of this project was deterrence. The Tsalichi government was planning to immunize all of their own people, and then threaten biological retaliation against anybody who attacked them. Nobody has ever invaded a nation that had nuclear bombs at the ready. The Tsalichi government figured that the threat of bioretaliation would be just as effective and would cost less.
Then Tsalichistan had a rebellion against the established government. About what happened next, words fail me. The most monumentally halfwitted, lamebrained, idiotic, supremely stupid thing for anybody to do - - - - I would be swearing here in print, but this message has to reach important people, and swear words might interfere. Anyway, somebody bombed the research facility where the viruses had been developed, and where we were working on an immunization. Some of the virus was aerosolized by the explosions. The immunization project was destroyed.
Those viruses were designed to be aerosolized with no harm, at least none to the viruses. One of the first symptoms of an infection is sneezing. Every sneeze then aerosolizes some of the viruses, so that they can be inhaled to infect more victims. Bombing that research facility very effectively put the viruses in the air and destroyed any hope of producing an immunization soon. And now those viruses have begun to spread.
I wish to re-emphasize that I had nothing to do with inventing this threat to every human being on the planet. I worked only on developing an immunization. I could have gone home and given a great deal of information about that immunization to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. Now my lab notes, both paper and computer memory, have been blown up and burned.
I can only wish you all the best of luck in dealing with these plagues. Whatever happens will be too late for me. I have already begun to sneeze.
Robert Z. Jackson
Tina and Prof. Burlington: Carlsen Family Residence, Potsdam Village, Iowa (again)
Prof. Burlington began the new topic. "Have you heard that the Tsalichi plague skipped to Moscow today?"
Sam Carlsen replied "Oh great! I hoped that they would be able to contain it in central Asia."
Burlington said "The entire nation of Tsalichistan has been quarantined. If you want my best guess, somebody from the Red Cross or somebody's government, somebody who had official permission to bypass the quarantine, made a round trip from Moscow and brought the plague back with them. That virus is persistent and resistant. Perhaps they completely disinfected the inside of the plane or helicopter that made the journey, but forgot to scrub the outside handle of the cargo door. Anyway, how it happened isn't that important. It has happened. And now the plague is spreading from Moscow. The airport there was closed earlier today. Several flights to various places were ordered to turn back and land in Moscow again."
Moses Potsdam saw the implications right away. "So it's coming here, eventually. Too many frightened people will be fleeing the infected zone without realizing that they are already carriers. Travel restrictions can slow the spread, but will never stop it."
Burlington said "The only possible completely effective travel restrictions will be total travel restrictions. One of those is already in force. The planet Komarov has its only warp gates in the Moscow area. They have already been closed. The only things that are allowed to travel back and forth between Komarov and Earth now are sterilized data disks and data chips. I expect this to continue until somebody comes up with a cure for the plague."
Moses Potsdam realized why that piece of news was important for Potsdam Village. He asked "Will you be able to close the gates to CBQ 4960 when the time comes? Should we move there now? To tell you the truth, I was hoping to wait until the New Caspian Sea area is ready for us." The New Caspian Sea was thousands of kilometers away from the warp gates on CBQ 4960. The Potsdam Villagers had hoped to preserve their unusual way of life there with minimal outside interference.
Burlington heaved a deep sigh and stared at Moses Potsdam for a moment. Then he said "Yes, I'm afraid so. It's time right now for the people of Potsdam Village to get ready to relocate. Spend your planet-Earth bank accounts on carts and wagons. Buy broad rubber wheels and make your own carts, if you have to. Make more harness, so that you can use your tractors and your animals to pull the carts. Buy more horses, if you can. Suspend the rules about internal combustion engines and ultra-capacity batteries, and buy tractors. Close down your textile mill, and your sawmill, and your metalworking shops, and your chinaware kiln, and your other industries with heavier equipment, and ship that equipment beginning right now into warehouse space on 4960; we've got the space. Buy tents and other camping equipment; I expect that most Potsdamers will be living under canvas for a while until we can get more housing built. Buy or build lightweight folding furniture that will be easy to pack along. Buy medicines that we may not be able to make in adequate amounts on CBQ 4960 at first. Buy food that lasts without refrigeration, and process your farm-grown fruits and vegetables by canning them. If there is any money left over, convert it to gold or silver."
Moses asked, "What will you and your people on the planet be doing?"
"I will have Tina, here, pass the word to some of our survey and construction teams." He reached down and ruffled Tina's hair affectionately as she knelt at his feet. "We will lay out a new Potsdam Village by the warehouses and transient dormitories, arranged just like the old one, with streets and farms and fences and utilities and so forth all in the same relative places. The streets will be gravel, at first. Then when your people arrive on-planet, they will all know just where to go."
Sam Carlsen acted as the lawyer for the Potsdam Village City Council. He observed "So you're planning to start colonizing without waiting for the government to approve our application. That would be rather illegal."
The professor replied "Right now I'm afraid that our pending application will be rushed through the bureaucracy and approved tomorrow. And then half the senators, representatives, and bureaucrats in Washington DC would insist on being in the first group of settlers before the plague hits here. At least one of those people would wait too long before transferring, and then the plague would be brought to CBQ 4960. And the Potsdam Villagers might not be allowed to go. I want the villagers to be in New Potsdam Village before the bureaucrats wake up to what is going on. And I want the gates to be closed - or better yet, destroyed - before the plague can reach the planet that I have spent my professional life terraforming."
Sam Carlsen realized "That would cut us off from Earth permanently."
"Yes. So? Potsdam Village has an unusual way of life. You know that as well as I do. How long do you think that way of life would survive if waves of new colonists keep swarming onto this very attractive planet? How long could you continue banning computers, and nuclear power, and anything else that would tie everybody into one glob of a planet-wide network and destroy the need for everyone to take care of themselves? You know that according to Moses's dad Eric, human society was at its closest to an ideal in about 1900, before technology completely overwhelmed craftsmanship. He looked with suspicion on anything invented after that. Potsdam Villagers have fudged that deadline a bit, introducing some inventions from the early twentieth century. The deadline would be completely ignored by a constant stream of newcomers. And Potsdamer women are kept in submission, which most of them enjoy. How long before newcomers launch a women's-rights movement and insist that all women shall be free to do what they please, as long as they please to do things the way the libbers want them done?"
Sam commented, "The people won't all be Potsdam Villagers. How about the terraforming teams and the other students and faculty from the University of Southern Minnesota?" For that matter, won't you and Tina be there too? Isn't Tina in submission to you?"
"Tina and I and the terraforming teams will be there. The ones that I send to 4960 have been chosen for compatibility with the Potsdamer way of life. Many if not most of the other campus residents will go along, or be brought along, as well. We'll stuff the Potsdamer way of life down their throats if we have to."
At that moment Arlene Carlsen called "Supper!" from the kitchen.
Prof. Burlington concluded "Fortunately we don't have to solve all of the problems that that will entail tonight. This won't be our last planning meeting." Then he looked down and asked "Hungry, Tina?"
Tina answered "Heck, yes. I haven't eaten a real Village-style meal, hand fed while chained kneeling by my Master, in months."
Moses Potsdam said "Good-by"; he had to leave and tend to his own wife and his esdigie at his own home. Sophie's boyfriend Jack was visiting and got invited to supper. Soon the supper table was surrounded by a husband, and a boyfriend, and an owner, and three kneeling gals, each being fed by the guy in her life.
Three Student Couples, and a Handcuff Party
Sharon Richards and Dave Antonion, with Margaret Brown: Park Bench on the USM Campus, the day before the party
Sharon walked slowly out of Weldin Hall, crossed the paved pathway, and flopped down alongside her roommate Margaret. She said "Whew! That was one wicked math exam!"
Margaret replied "I think that there is an integral in the class notes that would have made question eight real easy to solve. But I couldn't remember it. I hate taking real live non-virtual tests when we're not allowed to use any computers." She pulled her handheld out of her backpack and began a search. The two coeds were soon deep in a discussion about the test that they had just taken.
Abruptly they felt a new presence joining them. Dave Antonion had walked up unnoticed from behind. He leaned over the back of their park bench at one end and demanded "I need to know why!"
Margaret gave him a sour look, then turned away from him, toward Sharon, and asked "Are you hungry? The cafeteria has ham-and-pineapple pizza on the lunch menu today."
Dave looked past Margaret at Sharon and said "Oh, no, you don't! There is a park bench between you and me right now. I'll leave things that way as long as you stay sitting and give me an explanation. But if you stand up and try to walk off, I'll stay with you and there won't be anything between us to protect you. I need an explanation." He continued "We were getting rather friendly in our Wednesday evening study group. I bought you a dish of ice cream after the group meeting Wednesday before last, and we had a very pleasant time at the campus snack bar. I enjoyed our date last weekend, and I thought that you did too. I invited you to a student-engineer's party this coming Friday, and you accepted. Then all of a sudden I get an email telling me you're not going to that party with me and inviting me to buzz off. No girl ever treated me like that before. I don't want anything like that to happen to me again. What went wrong?!"
Sharon turned sideways on the park bench and looked up to face him. She answered "Margaret warned me about people like you, and about your home town, Potsdam Village, the city of the bondage freaks. I confirmed it online and by direct observation. Girls get collars padlocked around their necks when they date football players from your village. And then I found out that the Society of Student Engineers party this week is a handcuff party. The girls will all be chained to the boys until they have finished an entire bottle of booze per couple. I really don't want to get totally bashed on Friday night while I am shackled to a bondage freak. Anything bad could happen."
Dave promised "Nothing bad will happen. I won't let anything bad happen. The student engineers hold parties every Friday, and to tell you the truth, I had forgotten that this week it would be a handcuff party."
Sharon replied "Yeah, sure, I always believe everything that a bondage freak tells me." She continued to glare at him.
He responded "I suppose that it is too late to invite you out somewhere else on Friday evening." After a short pause, he added "Never mind. Stupid question." He walked off slowly with a discouraged expression on his face.
Sharon turned to Margaret and said "It's really too bad. He's kinda cute, and he has a great personality."
Margaret answered "This is the real world, Sharon. The real-world bad guys don't all look ugly and wear black hats."
Neil Alt and Alanna Novarro: Assembly room at the student center, as the handcuff party ended
The last song had been played, and the lights had been turned up from the dim romantic party level to normal brightness. There was nothing left to do except cleaning up and rearranging the furniture back to normal.
Neil Alt did not have a steady girlfriend, so he had volunteered to be on the organizing committee for the event. He looked over the room. Most of the couples who had come to the party had already left. Many of them were no doubt going to their own personal parties in dormitory and fraternity-house rooms. But several of the couches were still occupied. When two people split an entire bottle of booze, there is a good chance that one or both of them will pass out.
Neil saw one such couch and one couple in particular. He had noticed the gal as this couple arrived. He thought she was the prettiest woman at the party. He had always been a sucker for slim redheaded girls with freckles. He always wondered how many more freckles were hidden under those girls' clothing, and exactly where those freckles were.
He was a bit shy about trying to meet really pretty girls, but circumstances seemed to be giving him an opportunity to meet this one. Her date was no taller than she was, and he was more than a bit overweight. He was out cold. She seemed to be awake and functioning. She sat next to him, in the center seat of a couch, with her right wrist still securely handcuffed to his left wrist. She wouldn't be able to get away from anybody who sat down in the left seat of that couch.
So that is where Neil sat down. He turned to her, and smiled, and said "Hi! My name is Neil. How's it going?"
She turned to face him with a wry expression on her face, lifted her right hand to display the handcuff, and answered "This is the most fun that I have ever had while being shackled to a hundred-and-twenty-kilogram dead weight."
"That's a hell of a way to describe your boyfriend. What would he say, if he knew?"
"I don't know, and at this point I don't much care. First off, he's not my boyfriend, he's just a date. I think that his goal at this party was to get wasted as quickly as he could. He probably asked me just so he could get into a party with lots of booze. He had at least 90% of our bottle, tossing straight shots down. I had my whiskey mixed with soda, just three glasses spread over several hours. Right now I'm wondering how I could get to a bathroom. I need to go."
"One of the goals of a handcuff party is to see how embarrassed you are when you have to go with somebody of the opposite sex right next to you. Especially if you have never met before."
"Could you help me move the dead weight to the bathroom?"
"I could give you an even better deal, but it will cost you. I'm on the organizing committee for this party, so I do have a handcuff key. I'll use it for you, when you pay the price. First part of the price is: what is your name?"
"Alanna. Alanna Novarro."
"That is a very pretty name. Final part of the price is, you have to promise to have breakfast with me at Cuppa Joe's, just across the street from Fraternity Row."
"This morning. They open early, and they are open now."
"I've never eaten there. Do they serve good coffee?"
"Thirty-one flavors. They grind the beans themselves. You will have to like at least one of them."
"I could use a waker-upper. Okay, you've got a deal."
Neil pulled his key out, released Alanna, and asked "What should we do with these cuffs? Handcuff this guy to the furniture?"
"Uhmn, no. Could I have them? I would like to have them as a reminder of what kind of parties I don't want to go to again."
Neil said nothing, and stared at her for a moment. She smiled, and looked down, and her ears turned red. Hoo boy, he thought. Red hair, freckles, nice body, and she is interested in handcuffs. I'll bet that is why she accepted an invitation to a handcuff party in the first place. I'll let her have a handcuff key, so that she can try the cuffs on in the privacy of her dormitory room. I'll bet that she is going to play with them. I sure hope that the breakfast at Cuppa Joe's goes well.
It did. Neil Alt and Alanna Novarro began to date regularly. Neil bought himself another pair of handcuffs. He began to wait for just the right moment to invite Alanna to wear them.
Bob Coates and Rita Johanson: Basement of Upsilon Beta Gamma Sorority, after the handcuff party
Rita began to arouse slowly from a deep sleep when something pulled her arms gently up to the headboard of the bed. She heard a clicking ratcheting noise, tried to pull her arms back, and found that she couldn't. Her wrists had been handcuffed in place. She was suddenly fully awake, and her eyes popped wide open. There was a big menacing man leaning over her.
She tried to scream. It came out "EEmmmmmp!" as the menacing man's hand covered her mouth. When her lungs were emptied from the attempted scream, his thumb and forefinger closed on her nostrils and blocked her breathing for about three seconds, . When she was allowed to breathe again, she was too busy refilling her lungs and meeting her body's demand for oxygen to try to keep fighting.
The big menacing man said "Promise not to scream? Do you promise not to scream?" She realized that he was Bob Coates, her date from the Engineering Department handcuff party on the previous night. She nodded her head. He pulled his hand back from her face.
She looked around and found that bedsheets hanging from rods surrounded the space which held the bed that she was lying in. The ceiling was plain white. She asked "Where are we?"
"In the basement of Upsilon Beta Gamma. I gather that this is not the first time that a sorority sister has had too much to drink. This place has been set up to give sisters like you, who live way over in the west-satellite-campus dorms, somewhere semi-private to sleep it off and recover from the resulting hangovers. You shouldn't try to go drink for drink with a date who is almost twice your weight."
"How come they let you stay? "
"They didn't have much choice. We each had almost half a bottle of vodka before you threw up. We couldn't finish the bottle, so under the rules of the handcuff party we were still chained together. I couldn't find anybody with a key who was willing to take the cuffs off. I took you out and brought you here."
He continued "The girl at the desk here had a handcuff key. She separated us, I carried you down, and I must have collapsed in that chair. I would be kind of heavy for one small girl to move. I woke up this morning with my left wrist handcuffed to the chair arm. I suppose she thought that I couldn't do much harm that way."
Rita squirmed a bit and rattled the handcuff chain against the headboard bar that her hands were wrapped around. She realized that she was covered only by a sheet and a thin blanket. She said "Hey! Where are my clothes!? Who undressed me? And how did the handcuffs migrate from your wrists to mine?"
"The girl from the desk must have undressed you, and probably cleaned you up a bit. I didn't. You got vomit all down the front of your dress. More vomit dribbled down from your chin, and I suppose that some of it got on your bra. Your clothes are probably all in the sorority laundry room. And as for the handcuffs, remember that I am an engineer. We have our ways."
The engineers had provided one pair of handcuffs for each couple at their party. Those cuffs had been manufactured as toys, but the engineering students had cut off the release levers that allowed the cuffs to be unlocked without using a key. However, an engineer with a Swiss Army knife in his pocket could still get them open if he was sober enough to figure out how to do it.
Bob continued to stand by her bed, looming over her, during these explanations. He looked down with a wicked gleam in his eyes at his date who was lying chained with no clothes on and her long black hair spilling across the pillow. He leaned over and kissed her gently. Then his right hand began to massage her left breast through the sheet and blanket which covered her. In a worried tone of voice, she asked "Are you going to rape me now?"
The massage continued. He kissed her again, just a bit harder. He replied "Rita girl, I think that the most wonderful, the most glorious, the nicest gift you could ever give me is your body just like it is, covered only by a blanket that I could easily remove, helpless with your hands chained out of my way. You would have to have complete trust in me to give me that." His tone of voice changed as he added "But that means that the most horrible, the most vicious, the worst crime that I could commit against you would be to steal that gift. That would be rape. I will never be a rapist. I will try never to hurt you in any way."
Rita replied "What are you doing to my chest may not count as rape, but you are taking unfair advantage."
"I figure you gave consent to this much when you accepted my invitation to a handcuff party where the rules would require you to get drunk while chained to your date. I'm not even peeling your blanket off. Am I hurting you?" The massage shifted to her right breast. Rita smiled and shook her head. Bob added "Of course, if you want to give consent to a lot more . . . . " He left the sentence unfinished.
Rita kept smiling and said "Not this morning, dear. I have a headache." Bob laughed at the cliche'.
Then he pulled the sheet and blanket toward the head of the bed, covering more of her body, and said "Squirm up." Within a few moments, her head was tipped up by the headboard, leaning against a rolled-up pillow.
He admitted "I've got a headache too. This isn't really the time, or the place, for us to remember forever as our first time of passion together."
He pulled a small package of aspirin tablets from his jacket pocket and poured a cup of water from the carafe on a bedside table. He raised the cup and said "To us." Then he sat down on the head of the bed and told Rita to "Stick your tongue out." He helped her wash down two of the aspirin tablets with some of the water in the cup. Then he drank the rest of that water himself, with two more of the tablets.
Rita said "Thank you. You are taking good care of me." Then she asked "Am I going to need a safeword the next time we're together?"
That question stopped Bob dead in his tracks. He stared at her for a moment thinking, She knows what a safeword is. She wants to get back together with me again. This relationship could be for real, and maybe even forever. Then he asked "What is your middle name?"
"Your safety phrase is your full name then. Rita Marie Johanson."
She repeated "Rita Marie Johanson."
"OK, you've used it." He pulled out his Swiss Army knife. Within a few seconds he had released her from the cuffs and from the bed. He put the cuffs into one of his own pockets.
He said "I'll see if I can find out what happened to your clothes." He pushed one of the hanging bed sheets aside to leave their semi-private cubicle.
The sorority house mother was sitting just outside, with Rita's freshly-cleaned clothing in her lap. She said "OK, that's enough, no men are supposed to be allowed down here now. Out, out!" Bob blew Rita a kiss, and went up the basement stairs with a lighthearted bounce in his stride.
A few minutes later the house mother followed him up those steps. She said "Rita is going to stay in that bed for a while and finish sleeping off her hangover. She must have really tied one on with you last night. She'll call you. Don't worry, I have seen lots of college men and women together before, and I'm sure of it. She will definitely call you."
Professor Burlington's home office, just after a meet-and-greet party for terraforming-team recruits
The professor spoke to Robert Reitsess, saying "Well, Robert, this was your first meet-and-greet since you were elected the president of the USM Society of Student Ecologists chapter. You have been briefed on how we assign students to 4960 or to 5632. Tina and I think that a meet and greet is a good way to identify natural dominants and submissives so that we can send them to work on 4960. Do you agree?"
Robert answered "Heck yes, especially when Tina is around. You can learn a lot about people's innermost thoughts and attitudes from their reactions to her when she is serving drinks. That dress that she is wearing makes her look good, and everybody watches her, and people don't realize that they are being observed or what their expressions are giving away."
Tina was in a little black dress with a see-through fabric midriff, plus of course her stainless-and-gold esdigie collar. It was the sexiest outfit that she could wear without drawing official censure from university President Lee.
Burlington said "I'm not sure exactly what Tina and I see when we are observing people, but they do give themselves away. Tina is really good at it. Did you notice any hot candidates in this evening's crowd?"
"Two guys, I think. And two total rejects. While we are on the topic, I took Barb to last week's handcuff party sponsored by the Student Engineers, in large part to spot any engineering students who might be good candidates for 4960. I can give you some names based on what I saw there : Bob Coates and the girl he brought, Rita Johanson. There is also Dave Antonion, who stayed at the door to sell tickets and connect couples together with handcuffs. None of these three students was here today."
"Does Dave Antonion have a girl?"
"He has picked one that he wants, but she turned him down cold when she learned he is from Potsdam Village, which she called the town of the bondage freaks. I think that he would happily kidnap her to the new Potsdamer settlement on 4960 if he ever got the chance."
"OK, good. Can you name names from this evening's meet-and-greet? Are there any hot candidates whom I should talk to individually to confirm that first impressions were correct? "
"Let's see. Dale Caruso gave Tina an especially possessive look-over. And Norm Richardson was here with his girl, sitting under the tree by the pool, when Tina gave them a full slave service: down on one knee, head tilted downward, tray of drinks held up and offered. Norm gave Tina a special smile, then looked over at his girl. It was easy to see him imagining her in the same position as Tina. His girl saw it too. I watched her ears turn red with embarrassment. But she didn't get angry. He could probably persuade her to join him on 4960."
Prof. Burlington nodded. "I agree with you on both of those two. Who were your rejects?"
"Mike Phipps; I'm not sure exactly how he gave himself away. And Conrad Zagerewski; he looked at Tina, and his expression showed 'wow what a pretty girl' at first, and then 'oh yuck look at how she is behaving'."
Tina had slipped into the office behind Robert Reitsess and caught the tail end of this conversation. She said "I agree with Robert about everybody he mentioned. Mike and Conrad should definitely be sent to CBQ 5632; they would never fit into the Potsdam Village lifestyle on 4960. I wasn't sure about Norm Richardson, so I gave him and his girl that special slave-girl service. My head was down at first, so I may have missed some useful clues. Thanks, Robert, for watching while I did it."
Tina resumed "Now we have another problem to deal with. President Lee showed up near the end of the meet-and-greet and asked me about the Sabine Team. I don't know how she learned about Sabine. Somebody must have been careless about what they said in public."
Prof. Burlington replied "Oh-oh. If she makes the connection between the Sabine Team and the ancient Roman Rape of the Sabine Women, that part of the project could be in trouble. What did you tell her?"
"I reminded her that her university now has two Professor Smiths and two TA's named Smith in the Ecology Department, plus another Professor Smith in Engineering. To avoid confusion about who should be doing what under whose supervision, you have just decided to divide your department into teams using names that cannot be confused with any other designations now on campus. You are naming them after midwestern rivers: Sabine Team, Chippewa Team, Tennessee Team, and Wabash Team. Please, Sir, back me up on this."
"Tina, that is brilliant! I'm glad that somebody smart has fallen for me. I'll sit down right now and write a memo to everybody in the department. I don't want President Lee asking anybody about these teams and getting a blank stare in reply. I'll have to shoo you out of here while I work. Good-night, you two."
"Good-night for now, Sir." Tina knew perfectly well that she would see her owner again later, in bed.
Professor Burlington, speaking at a regular faculty meeting
"We expect governmental approval to start colonizing CBQ 4960 very soon. My good friend Moses Potsdam wants his people to be among the first colonists, and he is very anxious to get his people there before any of them are infected by the Tsalichi plague. He and his people are preparing to come here and would like permission to camp on the South Campus grounds, ready to transit as soon as the government says they can. Those grounds have been used for Boy Scout encampments and rock festivals, so we know that the space is sufficient for the purpose. I move that the faculty approve this action. I believe that President Lee and the Board of Trustees will follow our lead."
"I second the motion." That was Professor Junius Brown, of the Department of Theater Arts.
"Do you really think that allowing them to come will make this campus any safer from plague infection? I would think that letting them wander around campus will increase the risk, if anything." Professor Charlotte Brown, of the Foreign Languages Department, could generally be counted on to disagree with her husband Junius. Professor Burlington hoped that she would end up in the new Potsdam Village, so that she could be taught not to henpeck her husband. But at this moment he was happy to hear her comment. It prepared the way for his next suggestion:
"Security fences were set up for the encampments and the festivals, and they can be set up again. As a matter of fact, I think that a security fence around the entire campus would be a good idea. We may be able to protect the entire University population from the plague if we quarantine the campus."
"Quarantining Tsalichistan didn't work." Prof. Burlington did not notice who made that comment.
He replied "Tsalichistan is too big. There were too many chances for a quarantine to leak. I understand that the Prime Minister of Ukraine and his staff have avoided the plague by taking shelter in a quarantined prison and letting nobody - I repeat, nobody - come in." That had required shooting a few people who tried to enter the prison. Prof. Burlington carefully left that detail out of his presentation. Some of the other professors would be more disturbed by the possibility of shooting people than they were by the possibility of the plague.
"Do you think you can persuade Maxine and the campus administration go along with this?" That question came from a professor who was a close friend of Dr. Maxine Lee, the President of the University.
"I hope so. I think so, if the faculty can agree to it."
"Where are you going to get the fencing? How quickly could it be set up? And would you need the help of my department to do it?" You could count on Professor Carl Rerger, the Chairman of the Engineering Department, to ask a question about practical details.
"I have the resources available, on CBQ 4960. We have installed kilometers of fencing there, to separate various groups and herds of animals and to keep animals out of our crop fields. We have an entire warehouse full of the stuff available. We would use a design that we have already installed for hundreds of kilometers on CBQ 4960, so there wouldn't be much design engineering to do. If you could persuade your students to help with the grunt work, that would be appreciated. Many of them have experience with the fencing already, having been on 4960 helping us."
Professor Rerger's question shifted the topic of discussion from "whether or not?" to "how?". Professor Burlington managed to keep the rest of the discussion on that topic. Half an hour later, when everybody in the faculty meeting was bored with listening to their own voices, the motion carried on a voice vote with no objections.
Diane Fujioka, USM junior, and Tony Gilmore, recent graduate; TypeLink Conversation
12:02 pm Diane
Tony RU There? Plz Plz Be There. I need you to be there.
12:03 pm Tony
I'm here, Diane love. Wassamatta? RU crying?
12:03 pm Diane
Yes since you asked. The world is going to hell.
12:04 pm Tony
Prof. Nagels didn't like that essay you worked so hard on?
12:06 pm Diane
I got an A-minus on that essay. I was doing great myself. I really enjoyed this morning's seminar on twentieth century novels. I knew all of the answers for the trivia quiz on Thomas Wolfe. I was in classes and seminars all morning. Good time. And then I got out & wanted to go to lunch at Red's Restaurant & hope to meet some friends there. Fence in the way.
12:08 pm Tony
Fence in the way?
12:09 pm Diane
Quarantine fence. Double fence. Three meters between layers. Each layer four meters high. Razor wire on top. Big strong posts, I think they were planted in QuikSet. None of it was there when I went to class at 8:00 this a.m. It sure went up fast.
So you are already quarantined?
Not quite. The gates are still open. No guards yet. I made it to Red's by walking 100 meters along the fence & going through a gate. I'm there now. It's depressing, looking back @ campus and seeing those two layers of fence.
Yup. None of the friends I hoped to see bothered to go around through the gate. Worse depressing.
Thanx for sympathy. See you anytime soon?
Tell you what. I'll be down to have supper with you tonight. I just spoke with the boss, & he will let me pass on any overtime this evening. If I'm up to date by regular quitting time.
Great!!! 3 Cheers for modern hiways! You are 250 km away, & you can still be here in less than an hour.
Gotta get working, now. Can't keep chatting. Can't leave any salesmen's reports unreviewed when I quit for today.
OK. I'm happier already. See you right here, at Red's, 6:15 this p.m.? I want to have one more meal with you here before they close the gates. At least one more meal.
And many more after that, someplace. Bye for now. XXXXX
Kristine Smith and Lucy Jacobs; Potsdam Village, Lucy Jacobs's Home
Lucy said "I don't like this situation. It makes me feel naked."
Kristine Smith chuckled. Her neighbor Lucy Jacobs was naked, and was kept naked by her husband almost all of the time. Kristine replied "I can solve that problem easily enough. I have some clothes for you to put on."
"You know what I mean. I feel exposed. I don't want clothes. I want my cage walls back around me again." Up to that morning Lucy had been kept in a large cage in the basement of her home. Now the cage was gone, and Lucy was confined instead by a long chain connecting a set of leg irons to a floor bracket.
Kristine said "For the time being, you are stuck with clothes. I have orders, from your husband and from mine, to take you out and see that you get plenty of exercise. You know that you would have a spectacular all-over nasty sunburn if you went out naked and unprotected. So get dressed, now!"
"Tom and Mick really put you in authority over me?"
"Yes, they did. I have been your safety person for several years. Being a safety person for someone does not normally involve seeing that they get exercise, but these are strange times. Right now that's what it means."
"So what happens if I go on strike and won't exercise?"
Kristine took a cattle prod from a loop on her belt and triggered it. A nasty spark crackled between the two electrodes at the tip. She said "I was told that I should be very insistent. So get dressed, already!"
Lucy had never seen this side of her neighbor's personality before. Just how nasty would Kristine be? Reluctantly, Lucy put on the sports bra and lightweight pale green sweat shirt that Kristine handed her. Kristine must have bought them especially for Lucy, who was too tall, too flat-chested, and too red-haired to wear most of Kristine's clothing.
Kristine triggered the cattle prod again, and another nasty spark crackled between its electrodes. She ordered "Arms hand to elbow, across your back." Lucy looked nervously at that cattle prod. She tugged at the chain that attached the center of her leg irons to the floor, but it was securely anchored. So she followed Kristine's order, and Kristine locked two pairs of Irish-8 cuffs side-by-side onto Lucy's arms.
Lucy was therefore still confined when Kristine unlocked her leg irons and helped her into panties, sweat pants, and the sandals that she normally wore only for the annual Foundation Day celebration. Kristine ordered "Up and out." Lucy hesitated, but one poke with the cattle prod was enough to make her start up the basement stairs and out the front door even though Kristine did not pull the trigger.
They found a row of carts parked in front of the house. One of them was loaded with many of Lucy's tools and supplies: sizing tanks, yarn winders, spinning wheels, and the other equipment that she used to make strong linen thread. Another cart had most of the portable items from the household: plates, forks, knives, pots and pans, books, towels, sheets, clothing, and even such details as photo albums, soap, and toothbrushes. A third wagon carried mattresses and lightweight porch furniture made from aluminum frames and fabric webbing. To save weight, no overstuffed couches or chairs would be transferred to CBQ 4960. Each load was strapped securely in place and covered with a waterproof tarpaulin.
Lucy was amazed. "The Village Transfer Volunteers were only in the house for less than an hour. They certainly made a fast clean sweep." She took a closer look and realized that the carts must have been delivered to the house as nothing but wheelsets and pulling harness. The wheelsets had been attached to the welded-together bars that made up the sides of her old cage, which became the floors of each of the carts.
Kristine answered "Yeah, it was fascinating to watch them work. They have been getting a lot of practice. About twenty of them swarmed into your house and did the job with perfect coordination. They hardly ever got in each other's way. If speed house stripping were an Olympic event, they would be champions. They left just enough stuff for a few weeks of survival. That's what you will be using until we all leave."
Then the two women reached the fourth cart. It was much smaller, suitable for one or two women to pull. The only cargo in this wagon was a set of harness straps that were ready to be applied to a woman. Two drawbars were connected to the ends of the front axle.
Kristine said "We're going to be walking to the USM campus for the transfer to 4960. This little cart will hold all of the stuff that we will survive on for the rest of our time here, plus our suitcases and the camping supplies that we will use while in transit to our new home. When the big day comes, we will be pulling this thing for about 70 kilometers. Today we are going to start practicing. Stand here in front."
Kristine buckled Lucy into a broad waist belt and a head harness. She attached the drawbars to the sides of the waist belt, and a set of reins to the head harness. The head harness included a bit with a gag pin; Kristine showed this to Lucy, but then left it dangling loose below her neck. Kristine climbed into the wagon, adjusted the reins, and said "Giddyap. Start walking."
Farming roads radiated in all directions from the village of Potsdam Village. Kristine picked one and guided Lucy onto it. Kristine held the reins, but most of the guidance was simple voice commands such as "Turn left here."
Lucy had obviously spent too much time in her cage and not enough time exercising. Within two kilometers her legs were going to rubber. Kristine let her kneel down in harness alongside the road and rest for about ten minutes. Then Kristine put the tip of the cattle prod about one centimeter from Lucy's ear and triggered another crackling spark. Lucy struggled back to her feet and managed to pull the cart for another two kilometers before Kristine signaled the next halt. She guided Lucy and the cart to a handy stopping place just off the road.
While Lucy stood and panted and recovered her breath, their cart was passed by about half a dozen others that were being pulled by other women getting into better shape. A few women were singles, but most pulled larger carts in two-woman teams. Some of the women pulling these carts wore harnesses just like the one on Lucy. Others wore pony-ear headbands, and pony-tail butt plugs, and heelless horseshoe boots. One even wore a blindfold and was completely dependent for guidance on cues from her driver, cues delivered through the reins attached to the bit in her mouth. Some of the other villagers were obviously much more deeply into pony play than either Lucy or Kristine.
Lucy said "The scary part is, we've been going away from the town the whole time. I don't know how I will survive pulling this thing all the way back."
Kristine replied "There are two things I want you to remember. First off, how many times did I actually zap you with this cattle prod?"
"Uh - none, come to think of it. You buzzed it at me, and prodded me with it, but you never zapped me. Will you be zapping me all the way back to make me keep going?"
"No, I won't. Now how tight did I adjust the bit and gag strap?"
"They are dangling loose below my chin. You know that as well as I do."
"Yeah, but I don't want you forgetting either of those items. Because I told you the truth just before I strapped you in. We are going to be walking about 70 kilometers to the USM campus. We, meaning both of us, and many of the other women in Potsdam Village too. So I've also got to get into shape." She began to unbuckle the harness from Kristine. A few minutes later she offered her arms, held hand-to-elbow behind her back, and Lucy locked the Irish-8 cuffs onto her. Soon afterward it was Lucy's turn to say "Giddyap", and Kristine's turn to lean into the harness and start pulling.
Kristine was in slightly better shape and made the entire return trip to Potsdam Village without a rest.
Both husbands were waiting for the women when they arrived back at Lucy's house. Just before Tom took Lucy back down to their basement, Kristine said "Tomorrow we're going to go six kilometers. By this weekend, we'll be over ten. We'll both be ready when it is time to go."
Jane and Robert Morrison, at their home in Omaha, Nebraska
Robert walked in the door late in the afternoon, still wearing the denim work coverall that he used while crawling around warp generating equipment. He announced "Honey, I'm home." Jane met him and gave him a welcoming kiss, but it was obvious that her heart wasn't really into it. So Robert asked "What's bugging you?"
"I had a long talk with my old college roommate Kristine Smith today. Potsdam Village is really going. Her husband Mick isn't forging anything else on planet Earth. All of his equipment, his forges and ovens and hammers and all, is now in transit to CBQ 4960."
"So the village already got government approval to transfer. I expected that process to take longer."
"Either that, or they are starting the transfer without official approval. Kristine didn't say. I don't think she knows."
"That could be risky just now. Bureaucrats could get so annoyed by villagers starting without approval that the application to go is turned down. Or perhaps bureaucrats will get so distracted by the spreading Tsalichi plague, trying to keep it out of the USA, that nobody decides to say no or tries to stop the villagers from leaving. In any case . . . " Robert left the sentence unfinished.
He walked over to the couch in the living room, pulled a key ring out of his pocket, and said "Jane, come here. Sit." Then his tone of voice changed from commanding to imploring. "Uh, perhaps I should say, please, come over here and sit down. I need your left hand, please."
With a puzzled expression on her face, Jane sat down on the couch beside her husband and held out her hand. Robert picked out a key on his ring and used it to unlock her stainless steel bangle bracelet. He set it on the coffee table in front of them.
Jane stared at the bracelet, all by itself on the coffee table, with an expression akin to horror, before looking up at her husband again. That bracelet had been locked on her wrist continuously for over two years, ever since she and Robert had visited Kristine and Mick in Potsdam Village for the first time. It was highly polished, engraved with her name in flowing script, engraved also with a pretty floral pattern. It looked elegant enough on her wrist to be an appropriate accessory for an impress-the-clients business suit like the one she was wearing. The lock made it erotic enough to be appropriate for wearing in bed with nothing else at all. It had become the symbol of her deepening love and submission to her husband. Why had he taken it off her? Was something going wrong in their relationship?
Robert began "I can make some decisions about us by myself, and then order you to comply. But we are facing a very big decision that I can't make alone. I think that we have to make it more-or-less right now."
He continued "You know that I have been studying civil engineering in my spare time for the last two years. I try to solve the problems Potsdam-Village-style, with no computers allowed, using nothing but a slide rule, a Curta calculator, and printed tables. I think that I understand the answers to these problems better than I have ever understood warp physics problems, where the equations are theoretically insoluble and the only way to get answers is to let a computer do recursive estimates. It's more fun do problems about things I fully understand, and not depend on the computers.
"Potsdam Village won't need warp system engineers like I have been once they have reached their planet. But the villagers are going to need to build roads and bridges and stuff. They will need people who know the civil engineering that I have been studying. I think that they will need ergonomics experts like you, too. Even without the spreading plague, I would have wanted to emigrate to planet CBQ 4960 with Potsdam Village. I would have wanted to take you along. Now we do have the plague to worry about, and the best way to avoid it is probably to move to another world and close the gates behind us until there is a cure.
"If we go, then of course we will have to live by Potsdam Village rules. If I decide I want you naked and in chains, you won't be allowed to say 'no'.
"Still, I can't just grab you and strip you and chain you helpless and haul you along. This is too big of a decision for me to make alone for both of us. Do you want to emigrate? Are you willing to emigrate with me?"
Jane stood up and answered "I have an early Christmas present for you. Wait here." She left the room. It was Robert's turn to wonder and worry about what his spouse was thinking.
Ten minutes later, Jane returned wearing nothing except a bath towel wrapped around her body, held in place with one hand. In her other hand, she carried a length of chain, two padlocks, some keys, and a pair of engraved steel cuffs.
The cuffs were about four centimeters wide, made of highly-polished stainless steel, with a single-link connection. They were custom made to fit her wrists exactly. Robert thought that he recognized Kristine Smith's artistic style in the floral engraving that covered these cuffs.
Jane knelt in front of the couch and tossed the bath towel aside. Robert smiled. He had always appreciated the body of the black-haired, blue-eyed beauty who had agreed to marry him.
Jane reached down and back, wrapping one end of her length of chain around her ankles and the other end around her waist. When the padlocks clicked closed, she was confined kneeling.
Jane put her keys on the coffee table, reached behind her back, and put the cuffs onto her wrists. She looked up at Robert and said "OK, we're partners. We can each do half of the job. I just handled the stripping and the chaining helpless parts. That leaves you to do the grabbing and the hauling along."
She smiled, and continued "I love you, Robert. I have been worrying about the plague and imagining possible outcomes for a while now. The nastiest one that I can think of is: we stay on Earth, I survive the plague, and you don't. I could never forgive myself for keeping you on Earth if that happened. I can also imagine we go to 4960, they pass some new laws, and all the women have to stay chained all of the time. I wouldn't mind that, as long as you hold my keys. So let's go."
So they went, on a first lap as far as their bedroom. Robert grabbed her, and tossed her over his shoulder, and hauled her along. He lay on his back in bed and arranged her on top of him. He did nothing with the keys. Half an hour later, when they both reached the peak of their mutual passion, she was still securely cuffed and chained helpless.
* * *
The very next afternoon, Robert arrived from work with a bounce in his stride saying "Honey, I'm home. And I've got two pieces of great news. And, I suppose, one piece of not-so-great news."
Jane kissed him hello and asked "Oh?" Her stainless steel bangle bracelet was locked back in its accustomed spot on her left wrist.
"First off: our company just got a new contract to do some warp systems maintenance. On the warp gate to CBQ 5632, at the University of Southern Minnesota. I volunteered for that job, and I got it.
"And second: Hank Schulz is retiring, and he will be selling the mobile home that he and his wife have used for the last fifteen years as his office and their home away from home. They have been planning to retire to a place they own in Hawaii. Hawaii will probably be the last US state to get the plague, and therefore the most likely US state to have a cure available before the plague arrives. I told him I wanted the mobile home, and he agreed to sell it to me dirt cheap if I bought and paid for it right now. So we will have a temporary home right on campus. The gate to CBQ 4960 is right alongside. When Potsdam Village moves, we'll be in a position to join them immediately."
"Does the mobile home have enough room for my drafting table?" Jane was an interior designer and ergonomics expert. She did much of her work at home on a 90 x 150 cm electronic drafting table / computer display.
"Sure, no problem. Hank used the same model table when he was working from home. You may have to leave it behind and use an old-fashioned table with pen on paper, though. We will after all be in Potsdam Village. They don't allow computers."
Jane answered "I mentioned that the last time I talked to Kristine. They are bending that rule because of the plague emergency. They have bought some up-to-date computerized farm tractors to help in hauling carts from the village to the warp gate. Other computers will also be allowed, at least for a while. Now, what's the not-so-great news?"
"We've got a lot of packing to do. Anything we want to have with us on CBQ 4960 has to be stuffed into that mobile home. And we had better start stuffing damn quickly. The village may move with little warning, and we don't want to be left behind."
Interlude 2: A Brief Presidential Address to the Nation
My fellow Americans,
You have probably heard already that the Tsalichi plague has reached the United States. It is believed that somebody sailed to Florida quite illegally from the Bahamas and brought it in. It seems to have arrived less than 48 hours ago, and cases have already been reported all the way from Key West to Daytona Beach. More cases are reported from the Boston area, presumably because somebody who was infected flew north from Florida.
We know that the plague cannot be stopped by large-scale quarantine. That has been tried, repeatedly, and the quarantines have always leaked. The best that we can manage is to slow down the spread of the plague.
Slowing it down is a worthwhile idea. The resources for treating plague patients can be concentrated in areas which are newly infected. I have been receiving reports from the Centers for Disease Control, in Atlanta, telling of progress in understanding how the plague functions. There is hope that with time we will know how to ameliorate the symptoms of plague infection. There is even hope that an immunizing vaccine can soon be developed. But the research takes time. We can win that time if we do not allow our entire great nation to be instantly and entirely infected.
I am therefore announcing the following decisions:
-- All air travel within the United States of America, and also to and from foreign countries, is hereby suspended.
-- Outward-bound hovermobile and wheeled-vehicle travel from Florida to its neighboring states is hereby banned.
-- Outward-bound hovermobile and wheeled-vehicle travel from Massachusetts east of Worcester to its neighboring areas is hereby banned.
-- Long-distance travel over the entire United States is restricted effective tomorrow at 6:00 pm. The vehicle-power induction coils and guidance systems along our entire automated interstate hoverway network will be shut down at that time. If you are away from home now, you have until then to return. Afterwards travel beyond the limits of your on-vehicle battery packs will not be possible.
My fellow Americans, we are living in trying times. But the people of the United States have won through before, in our initial revolution for freedom, and in civil war, in the great conflicts of the twentieth century, and in the turbulent years since then. I am confident that our great nation can win through once again.
Keep the faith, and may God be with you all.
Tina Carlsen and Moses Potsdam: Phone Conversation, immediately after the Presidential Address
"USM Department of Ecology, Tina Carlsen speaking."
"Hi, Tina. This is Moses Potsdam. Is your owner the Big Boss in?"
"No Sir. He's on 4960, nominally checking out the Jim Hill Hydro plant with Professor Rerger."
"Nominally, checking out the new hydro plant. That implies he is actually doing something else."
"I think so. They are both checking out New Potsdam Village."
"Is it ready?"
"Ready enough, I think. Every available construction team now working on the planet has been brought in. I've inspected the work in progress myself, under orders from My Professor, of course. Naturally it will be a huge campsite at first. Everybody living under canvas, communal showers, portable toilets, battery lanterns, charcoal grills. The engineers are frantically planting telephone poles and digging utility trenches for water, and sewer, and gas. The place will be a lot more ready for permanent occupation by about a year from now. But I don't think we can wait that long before the Potsdam Villagers have to leave Earth, along with everybody else who will be going also."
"Neither do I. I visited the south campus campgrounds just yesterday. Everything there looks to be ready for our brief stopover. Do you see any problems with that? Has your boss discussed any problems with you?"
"Our University President Lee might kick up a fuss if she realizes what is coming off before it comes off. We might even have to hold her prisoner for awhile on 4960 to keep her from calling the feds and the cops."
"We might. Is there any chance that she will be warned by somebody who has been tapping this phone call?"
"Nope. That's why I'm glad we are using My Professor's office phone system. Heads of departments often need to discuss the prices of things they are ordering, and the candidates for scholarship support, and other matters that shouldn't leak. We use phones that can't be tapped without disturbing the signals badly enough to trigger warnings. We'd know if this line was tapped, anywhere, including on your end."
"OK, then. With the highway induction coils shut down, there won't be any air-cushion vehicles on the hoverway between here and there. Tell your boss we will be launching Abilene Two Thursday morning."
"Right. I'll see you on the day after, if not tomorrow. Good-night, sir."
Prof. Burlington and Prof. Rerger, strolling down one of the gravel streets of the new village being built on Planet CBQ 4960
The two professors paced side-by-side. The new village site was still mainly a field of grass, punctuated by gravel roads and shallow trenches and earthmoving machinery hard at work. The professors were both wearing visitor-green hard hats, button-front white shirts, and dark gray razor-crease pants with black seam stripes that had been very much in style twenty years earlier.
Their status was easy to identify. They both had deluxe model Schaeffer Scribers in their shirt pockets. That tool had become the badge of a senior college professor. It was a combination microcomputer, camera, black-ink pen, red-ink pen, pen for writing on computer touch screens, pencil, laser pointer, wireless microphone, and cell phone. In a classroom it could be used to write on any surface, for example a desk top, and the writing would appear on the display screen at the front of the room. The professors' deluxe models were gold plated both on the top and on the shirt-pocket clip. Only a teacher or a college professor could use a gadget with all of those functions, and only an older college professor would decorate a shirt pocket with a gold-plated version.
Burlington observed "This place is really humming. It looks like the sewers, water mains, and gas lines will be buried in the trenches along all the major north-south streets within a day or two."
Rerger answered "Yes. No lines down the side streets yet, and no hookups for the houses, and hardly any houses. But what we've got will be enough to run the place as a large campground until we can catch up with the demand for permanent housing."
Burlington asked "What will you do if something breaks, in the trenching machines or for that matter at the new hydroelectric plant? Do you have a generous bin of spare parts?"
Rerger paused, then smiled and answered "That's confirmation. You are really planning to transfer Potsdam Village to CBQ 4960 without waiting for government approval, and then close the gates until the plague is controlled. Aren't you?"
Burlington did a double-take. With his surprise clear in his voice, he asked "How did you come to that conclusion? We've been telling everybody that it's just emergency housing for people who are trying to escape from the plague."
Rerger kept smiling. He said "Double confirmation. If it weren't true, you would have answered 'Hell no' instead of trying to dodge the issue by asking me a question."
He continued his explanation. "The first confirmation was, you have chosen to ask me about spare parts for the power machinery and the power plant. It would be easy enough to get spares from the manufacturers, as long as there is a functioning warp link between Earth and 4960. Your question told me that if your plans are carried out, then that warp link might soon be broken. It's surprising sometimes how many answers you can get just from listening to somebody's questions.
"I've been suspicious about your plans for a while now. My first hint was several weeks ago during a visit to one of the upstream flood-control dams we are building. I noticed that Janine Wong was wearing a metal collar, which could be a symbol of submission. Nothing wrong with that, of course. She's a good young hard-working engineer, and so is her boyfriend. They both got picked to work on CBQ 4960. I have several other good young hard-working engineers who either didn't get picked, or who got assigned to CBQ 5632. I began to ask myself if you were picking the students for 4960 based on compatibility with the Potsdam Village lifestyle.
"Then I thought about the reasons why we are building this new village just outside the warp gates. New planet, lots of room, no point in building skyscrapers like in cities back on Earth. A sprawling layout with lots of small one-story and two-story buildings is a logical design for a new city here. But the new one exactly matches the street grid of the old Potsdam Village back on Earth. If the residents of the old one were suddenly and quickly evacuated to here, they would all know where to go to set up their tents immediately after they arrived. They will building their new homes in the same relative places too, except with more room because the lots are fifteen per cent longer and wider.
"So I'm betting that you are planning a sudden quick transfer of all of the residents from Old Potsdam Village to New Potsdam Village. You should have realized that I would be able to figure things out for myself. Why didn't you tell me about it?"
Professor Burlington realized that he had made a mistake. With a rueful expression on his face, he said "Sorry. I was nervous about Gail. Your wife, not Gail Hitchens whose work on the water and sewer lines we just inspected. Your Gail teaches law. I thought that she might want to stay legal, even if that would mean we couldn't avoid catching the Tsalichi plague. And I was afraid that you would follow her lead."
Prof. Rerger stopped walking. He turned away from Burlington and stared at nothing for a moment. There was pain in his voice when he said "We have only one surviving child, now. Our son was killed in an accident during a stupid teen-age stunt. Our daughter, and her husband, and their baby, are our only hope if we want to have descendants. And I find that my wife and I have a very deep instinctive need about that. We want and need to have descendants if we are ever to be happy."
He resumed walking and continued "My daughter's family is visiting us right now. They are hoping that they can avoid the plague either by sheltering within the quarantine fences around the USM campus, or else moving to CBQ 4960 at least for a while."
In a very resolute tone of voice, he added "Gail and I are both absolutely determined that none of them will get the plague if it is within our power to prevent that from happening."
Burlington gave Rerger a moment of sympathetic silence out of respect for Rerger's dead son. Then he asked "How does Gail feel about all this? For herself, that is?"
"We had a session several nights ago, in the bedroom." Rerger paused and smiled at the memory. "After that session, she told me that she was willing to go to CBQ 4960 and be under the control of a man, as long as I will be the man."
Burlington answered "As far as I am concerned, that's great news. I can stop worrying about her tipping off the feds and making our departure much more difficult if not impossible."
Professor Rerger smiled. He said "Interestingly enough, tipping off the feds has been my job for the last few weeks. I was approached by one of Secretary Roe's flunkies at the beginning of the school year. He asked me to spy on you, although he didn't use that word. If I let him know that you are planning something in time for the feds to stop it, Judy and I will be granted special consideration and permission to emigrate to 4960 just as soon as the planet is opened to settlement."
"What have you told him?"
"As little as I could. Just a few minutes ago I commented that it's surprising sometimes how many answers you can get just from listening to somebody's questions. This flunky asked about how much food is stored on 4960, and about the capacity of available housing, and about other stored and ready-to-use expendables like hovercraft fuel. From his questions, I learned that Secretary Roe and a gang of her bureaucrats are planning to shelter from the plague on our planet. Starting a new society with a population that is about 50% bureaucrats is a sure recipe for failure. So I agreed to be the Secretary's spy mainly because I want to keep her from recruiting somebody else."
Professor Burlington stared at Professor Rerger for a moment, then said "Thank you. Thank you very very much."
A warbling sound came from Burlington's shirt pocket. He took out his Schaeffer Scriber, said "Accept", and held it to his ear. The message was quite brief. He stopped walking, sighed deeply, and turned to face Professor Rerger.
He gestured at his Scriber and said "That was from Tina. Her message is 'In case you didn't know it, the Tsalichi plague has reached Florida and Boston. President Martin has ordered the guidance and induction coils of the hoverway system to be switched off. As soon as the president ended his speech, Moses Potsdam phoned and told me Abilene Two, Thursday morning.'
"It's started, Carl. Abilene Two is the code phrase for village transfer using the hoverway between Potsdam Village and the USM campus. Thursday morning, October 5, the Earthside village will begin to be evacuated."
The Mackenzie Family - an Introduction
A quarter of a century before Potsdam Village moved, Cyrus Mackenzie had set himself a life's goal of becoming the largest beef cattle farmer in the Village. Over that quarter-century, he reached his goal.
His wife Janet wanted to give birth to and bring up a second generation of cattle farmers who would be the leaders on a new planet after the move. Her plan called for many children, including big strong intelligent sons. Her first two children grew up to meet that qualification. They were twins, but not identical twins. After that she had three daughters.
Cyrus had planned to name his oldest son after his father Peter, but he felt that he couldn't give that name to one of the twins. The other twin might always feel that his parents loved him just a little bit less. So he took the twin's names from his wife's Franco-Spanish heritage, and they became Pedro and Pierre. Collectively they were always 'Pete and Pete'. They were 22 years old when the Tsalichi plague began to spread.
Jillian was fifteen months younger. Except for complexion and hair, she was a very different physical type as compared with her younger sisters. At 1.75 meters tall, she was tallest of the Mackenzie women, and she had a strong athletic build.
Joanne was probably the smartest. She was 19 at the time of the plague.
And obviously enough, Julia was the youngest. She was 17. The move interrupted her high-school education.
Most of the sons and daughters had goals in life. Pedro and Pierre expected to be the next generation of cattle ranchers. Jillian wanted to be a cowgirl, helping her older brothers to handle the hundreds of cattle in her family's herd. Joanne was the exception, still not thinking about her future beyond the next event in the activities of the village's ponygirl club. Julia loved animals; her goal was to become a veterinarian.
Pete, Pete, and the Gustavson Girls, several years before the plague hit
One Friday night during the spring semester of her sophomore college year at the University of Southern Minnesota, Jennifer Gustavson rode her bicycle to a bar just off the campus to relax, enjoy some live music, and see and be seen by the opposite sex. She preferred to wear a little maroon dress instead of a little black dress for this type of excursion, since maroon went with her hair. The little dress served as an excellent ornament for her petite and well-shaped body.
Two strawberry daiquiris later, only one guy had hit on her, and she had no interest in him at all. He had obviously started drinking hours earlier. His breath stank of alcohol, and she estimated his IQ at about 90. Jennifer decided to write off the evening as a dud and return to the campus.
The drunk wasn't going to give up that easily. He followed her out of the bar with several of his friends, all about equally drunk. They surrounded her as she got onto her bicycle. He grabbed Jennifer's wrist, saying "Th'night is shtill young. What say we go to my plaish an' get much better ack - ackwain - acquainted."
Before Jennifer could scream, a new voice entered the conversation. "The young lady is not interested in you. Why don't you let go of her wrist and leave her alone."
Everybody turned and looked up at the newcomer. They all had to look up, because he stood about 1.95 meters tall. He wasn't wearing a white hat, but the rest of his color scheme made up for it: very blond hair, pale skin, white shirt, cream-colored slacks, light brown cowboy boots. Jennifer estimated his weight at about 110 kilos, and none of it was flab.
The drunk asked "Who the fuck are you?"
"I'm Pedro Mackenzie. The other members of the football team call me Little Pete. I'm expecting my brother Big Pete to meet me here at this bar along about now. You should think about the implications of that before you start something. Please, be polite to the young lady and let her go."
"Fuck you too." The drunk pulled out a knife.
"Oh, I am so frightened, a knife." His tone of voice changed when he added "Just what I wanted to see." Thunk thwack Ughhh crunch, thud tinkle. "Next?"
Jennifer played that scene back through her mind. Let's see: side kick to the drunk's crotch, knuckles hard against the back of the drunk's knife hand, fist to the drunk's stomach, fist to the drunk's chin, drunk and knife fell to the pavement. That was quick.
One of the drunk's friends reached down for the knife. Pedro took half a step forward and said "Uh uh uh, don't touch. That is evidence." The friend backed away.
Another new voice said "I'll watch them while you pick up that evidence." Big Pete had arrived. He was about 5 centimeters taller than Little Pete, and just as solidly built. His hair and skin color were a bit darker than Little Pete's. He was actually wearing a white hat. It was a baseball cap, which didn't exactly match the cowboy-movie tradition, but it was white.
Little Pete kept his head up, maintaining eye contact with the drunk's friends, while he pulled out a handkerchief, wrapped it around the knife handle, and picked up the knife. He stood up and said "Mr. Watchamajigger on the pavement here might decide to press charges of assault on me. If he does, I will claim self-defense and give the cops this knife. It has Mr. Watchamajigger's fingerprints all over it. How did I happen to get a knife like that, if I didn't take it away from him when he pulled it on me? That's enough right there to get a prosecution of me thrown out of court."
Jennifer turned to her big strong rescuers and said "Thank you!"
Big Pete answered "You're welcome. Tell you what. My brother and I would like to get to know you better. We will be at the McDonald's in the student center in about an hour. Come on down, if you want to get to know us better. For right now though, clear out of here before these fellows can annoy you any more."
An hour later Jennifer entered the campus McDonald's. The two Petes were there already. Jennifer sensed a bit of tension between them; they were both apparently interested in her, but they didn't want to wreck their own relationship out of rivalry while trying to win her. She sat down next to Pedro and said "You are the one who rescued me, so I will join you for the evening. Your brother will have to bear with the consolation prize." She looked back toward the door of the restaurant. Her identical twin sister Jessica was following her in.
And that is how the relationship between Pete, Pete, and the Gustavson girls started.
How the Relationship Began to Develop
Pedro was an accounting major. Pierre was an agriculture major. They both worked on the Mackenzie farm during the summer. Jennifer and Jessica visited them there and began to learn about and accept the Potsdam Village way of life. Other small cute girls had broken up with Pete and Pete more than once in high school when the twins began competing for the same girl. Those girls hadn't wanted to be caught in the middle. The entire family realized that Pete and Pete had finally found a pair of perfect girlfriends.
Pedro and Pierre (Little Pete and Big Pete) in the football-team dining hall, University of Southern Minnesota
Pedro spotted Pierre in the serving line, joined him, and said "Let's eat lunch together. We need to talk." They carried their trays over to one of the smaller tables where they could have a semi-private conversation.
Pierre spoke first. "My guess is you want to discuss the switcherooney that the girls pulled on us last weekend."
"Yup. I'm glad you noticed too. Did you let Jennifer know that you were on to her?"
"The girls might figure it out when they compare notes. I called her Sweetums. I've been calling Jessica Honeychile. That's a pretty strong hint that I used a different nickname because I realized that she was a different girl."
"I pretended not to notice. Do you think that we should let them get away with this ? I don't. I want one girl to call my own. I want Jennifer just for me. Nobody - not even her identical twin - can be an acceptable substitute."
"I'd be perfectly willing to spend nights with both of them, alternately. But - and it's a big and important but - not by sneaking. Not by having either of the girls pretend to be the other one. If they want to swap boyfriends for a night, they have to ask me and get my OK. If you want an exclusive on Jennifer, then Jessica will never have my OK."
"With both of them, alternately. How about other girls? Are your serious enough about Jessica to rule out anybody else? How do you feel about Jessica dating other guys?"
"No! She can't. I'd be very unhappy."
"I feel the same way about Jennifer. Having Jessica just for you means you can't date anybody but Jessica. Are you willing to pay that price?"
Pierre sat and thought for a moment, and realized how he was coming to feel about Jessica. Finally he said just "Yes."
Pedro replied "I think that we should follow Potsdam Village custom and put going-steady collars on them. Let's invite them and do it over Christmas when they visit us at home." He picked up another forkful of spaghetti and meatballs.
Pierre smiled and took another bite of his submarine sandwich. After a few moments, he replied "Christmas. Red and green are the colors of Christmas. Will you buy a red collar while I buy green, or do you want to do it the other way around?"
The Gustavson Girls and Moses Potsdam
Several days after Christmas, Moses Potsdam noticed Jennifer and Jessica Gustavson in one of the Potsdam Village supermarkets. He was a friend of Cyril Mackenzie, and he had known Pete and Pete since they were born. He said "Hi girls! I haven't learned to tell you two apart yet. Did you have a good Christmas?"
Jennifer answered "Yes, we did, and you can tell us apart easily now. I'm Jennifer, and I'm wearing a wire rope collar with a red plastic coating and a gold-colored lock. Jessica's collar has a green plastic coating and a silver lock."
"So, the Mackenzie twins have landed you?"
"Yeah, but of course these collars bite both ways. They also mean that we have landed two great guys."
"Congratulations all around, then. Will you be at the New Years party in the tent on the fairgrounds?"
This time Jessica answered "Yes we will, with our guys. I think that they plan to bring us on leashes. The one who will hold my leash handle is Pierre. Pedro will hold Jennifer's."
"Great! I'll look forward to seeing you all there."
As he walked off, Moses Potsdam said "Hmmmm" to himself and appeared lost in thought. Several weeks later some coils of coated wire rope were delivered to a village warehouse. The coatings were red, and white, and blue.
End of part 1
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