Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Earth-349: The Return of Brainiac

Disclaimer #1: This story is inspired by a story in Superman #349, 
but is not limited by that story or any other.
Disclaimer #2: This story makes use of copyrighted characters 
owned by DC Comics, Inc., and other publishers.  It is written for 
amusement only and is not intended to infringe or disparage those 
Disclaimer #3: This story is not recommended for persons under 18 
or the easily offended, especially those who have difficulty with 
themes like involuntary pregnancy and lactation.
Acknowledgements:  Thanks to Femur of www.tgcomics.com for 
creating the modified cover to Reality Flux #15, which in part 
inspired this story.
Thanks to Boglin, who created “Spider-Goblin”, inspiration for the 
Black Widows.
And big thanks to Gangnet, creator of the monumental Bent
Silver, who explained why the number 38 is sacred to Supergirl.

Linda had fallen asleep at the breast, Karen's nipple slipping from 
her mouth with a stream of milky drool.  Karen was just laying her 
down when Clark began to wail.  Karen sighed and hurried over to 
his crib, wanting to silence him before he woke any of the others.
Too late.  In the gray metal bin beside Clark's, Edna was now 
wide-eyed with pursed lips.  Edna was new, only a few feedings 
old, but Karen already knew that when Edna's lips pursed like that, 
she was about to give forth with an explosive, owl-like scream.  
She snatched up Edna even before Clark, automatically pressing 
her to the breast Linda hadn't been using, as much to muffle her 
cry as to offer her a nipple.  Sure enough, Edna's scream vibrated 
joltingly into Karen's breast, but then she settled down and started 
to suck.  Unfortunately, that left her other breast for Clark.  The 
nipple was still wet and sore from Linda's nursing, and Clark was a 
real vacuum-pump sucker.
Wincing, Karen accepted the discomfort.  Just one more, among 
so many.  It had really been a bad year.
She lowered herself carefully onto the bench that projected from 
one wall of the nursery, wishing yet again that she had a rocking 
chair, and swayed slowly forward and back, murmuring softly and 
rhythmically to Clark and Edna, trying to let her mind wander.  
There were only so many things for her to think about.  Inevitably,
one of them was to relive her last day of freedom. 
It had been a Saturday morning, blessedly free of anything to do.  
Karen Zorelle had a busy life, but she had carefully kept Saturdays 
free of obligations.
Tuesday through Friday there were classes in the morning, waiting 
tables in the afternoon.  Monday, a full shift at the restaurant.  
Sunday there was church, and usually a full afternoon of parish 
work.  But on Saturday, she didn’t have to do a thing.  Not even 
get out of bed if she didn’t want to, she thought as she stretched
in bed.
But she did want to, of course.  Actually, she wanted to do a lot of 
things she wouldn’t have time for the rest of the week.  Climbing out 
of bed, still in an oversized blue T-shirt and red panties, she went 
into the kitchenette of her little apartment and checked on her 
The machine had been busy through the night (she kept it in the 
kitchenette so its clattering keys wouldn’t wake her up when a 
message came through at 3 AM), curls of yellow paper piled up on 
the floor.  Karen tore the end of the paper off the printer and 
carefully rolled it into a scroll, with the first message at the top.
She poured a cup of lukewarm tea from the pot on the stove and sat 
down to read.
The teletype had been a blessing to so many people: shut-ins, the 
socially awkward, people who worked in remote places.  Also to 
people with interests more specialized than network television and 
major-league sports.  A teletype message, once it was composed 
and recorded onto punched paper tape, could be sent to one 
person or dozens, just by feeding it the right address-tapes.
Karen communicated daily with all sorts of people over the teletype: 
her numerous and far-flung family, old classmates, and people who 
shared her interest in the vaguely defined phenomenon of the 
There’d been the occasional being with unusual abilities down 
through the centuries, people like Hercules and Makeda of Sheba, 
but in the eight years or so since Superwoman had first appeared, 
they’d seemed to be appearing out of nowhere.
Often, it was rumored, they’d been ordinary people until something 
extraordinary happened to them.  Karen collected fragmentary 
reports and rumors about the superhumans, the lawful and the 
ill-behaved, exchanging news and speculation about them.
Growing up in the little town of Argo City, Missouri, she’d never 
seen a real superhero in action.  She’d seriously considered 
trying to get into Metropolis University, or Empire State, in the hope 
of seeing them more often, but had finally settled for Stanhope, near 
Gateway City.
She also nurtured fantasies of having an “origin incident” of her own, 
and becoming a heroine called “Supergirl”, or maybe “Power Girl”.  
She indulged herself to the extent of using the name Power Girl as 
her teletype handle.
Karen read through her messages, sorting out the ones from 
hero-fans so Power Girl could reply to their comments.  From 
London, Cricket Babylon had sent “Through the Red Lens” #43 
(she alternated titles, reporting well-documented incidents through
her “Green Lens” and freewheeling speculations through her “Red 
Lens”).  Hamlet, self-appointed curator of an imaginary Flash 
Museum, had sent “Flash-Gram” #105 from Hub City.  Mister Action, 
who apparently had a major crush on Superwoman and probably
lived in Metropolis, had sent “Pen Pal” #18.
Karen carefully cut the long scroll apart, setting aside messages 
from other people in a pile and dropping the inevitable, 
paper-wasting unsolicited advertisements in the kitchen wastebasket.  She took the small sheaf of fan newsletters back to her teletype 
and began composing “Power Girl Press Release” #12.
“The big news from New York, of course, is the capture of the 
Green Goblin.  Turns out Funky Flashman was right all along: he 
was Norman Osborn.  But what really interests me is the unmasking 
of the Goblin's Black Widows.  Now, I never heard of Mary Jane 
Watson, Gwen Stacy or Felicia Hardy before, but you'll kindly recall 
that back in '63 I suggested that April Parker was Spider-Woman, 
and when the wall-crawler disappeared and the Goblin turned up 
with a hench-harem with the same powers as Spidey, I thought it 
likely that one of them was the former Spider-Woman.  If Bellevue 
ever manages to get the girls coherent again, now that they're off 
whatever it was the Goblin was feeding them, it'll be interesting to 
hear Parker's own story.
“Last year, both Batgirl and Robin disappeared from Gotham.  
Batgirl later showed up in Washington, D.C., of all places, 
sometimes seen teamed with the male Captain America who 
appeared in the capital at the same time.  But Batwoman 
remained a solo act until just recently, when she showed up with a 
new protégée, the Huntress.  Apparently about ten years old, the girl 
in the tiger skin moves and fights as though she had about twenty 
years’ training.  Maybe Batwoman should give up the vigilante
business and open a school, if she’s that good a teacher.
“Cricket Babylon has some strong opinions about how people are 
depicted in comics.  [This was a powerful understatement: Babylon’s 
scorn for certain comics had been both pungent and obscene]  I 
can’t really comment on that, because I usually don’t read superhero 
comics.  I get impatient with the way the writers take liberties
with the facts; even the ones like Detective Comics, where the 
heroes act as consultants, tend to be ‘based on actual case files’ 
the way gingerbread is ‘based on’ stalks of wheat.  You learn about 
as much about Superwoman's actual life by reading an issue of 
Action Funnies as you learn about a wheat farmer by eating a
gingerbread man.
“When I read comics, it's for entertainment.  I'm fond of the science 
fiction anthology titles like Reality Flux and Altered Fates.”
She worked on her newsletter until 11:00, when the I Ching 
Boutique would be open.  She needed a new bra.  Even the one 
that had always fit best didn't fit very well anymore.
She tried on bras for half an hour before she finally accepted the 
owner's offer to measure her for a custom fitting.  Dianna White 
worked quickly and efficiently, and she'd made her own measuring 
tape out of soft flannel, which Karen especially appreciated.  The 
dark-haired woman took her measurements and gave Karen
the bad news.
"The reason none of the bras you tried on would fit is simple, Karen: 
you're no longer a 38D."
Karen sighed.
"Great, so now I'm a 40?"
"No.  Now you're a 38 double-D."
Her eyes widened.
"I'm only 19!  How big are they gonna get?  What'll happen when I 
have kids?"
Dianna chuckled, not unkindly.
"Don't worry; my rates for custom work are quite reasonable."
A little window shopping, lunch at a curry restaurant downtown (an 
indulgence on a student's budget, especially when she was going to 
have to pay for a custom-made bra, but she liked indulging herself), 
then back to her apartment.  She did some more teletyping, made 
herself some supper and teletyped some more.  She finally had the
tape punched and edited by nine that night, scotch-taped it to the 
end of the well-worn tape that held the addresses on her mailing list, 
and fed the whole spool into her teletype.  She watched it start 
feeding, imagining with satisfaction her words pouring out of several 
dozen teletypes all over the world.  Once she was confident that it 
would keep on feeding and not snarl, she turned from the teletype
and finally gave a thought to her homework.
Reluctantly, she picked up the stack of folders that held her various
assignments, opened the one on top (U.S. History 221: Civil War I to the Mexican
War), and tried to focus her eyes on the fuzzy purple print of a ditto-copied handout
It seemed fuzzier than usual.  And then fuzzier still.  And then the stack of folders
slid from her lap.  And then she was leaning over to pick them up, and somehow wound
up on the floor.
She never did see who or what it was picked her up.
Karen awoke to the sight of a dull gray wall that was neither metal nor
plastic.  She rolled over, noticing that she was naked and that her body ached in
several places, and saw more dull gray walls, and something that looked like a
dime-store counter made of the same stuff.  The ceiling above her was giving off a
pallid white light, apparently coming from the entire surface.
Karen rose shakily to her feet, feeling the most acute ache in her breasts,
which felt very heavy.  It occurred to her that she might have been raped, but there
was no special soreness between her legs.  At about the same time that she rose high
enough to see inside the long gray trough that stood nearest her, and could see that
it was divided into four trays, each with a small body in it, she also heard one of
them start to cry.
Instantly, the ache in her breasts became more acute, and Karen had a
nightmarish insight into where she was and why she had been brought there.
There were four babies in four little cribs in the nearest trough, and three
more gray troughs beyond that, taking up most of the gray chamber.  The first child
she saw was a boy, pale and totally hairless, with very large eyes.  The next was a
dusky girl, with a full head of black curls and oddly elongated ears.  The third was
a ruddy girl with long fingers.  The sixth baby had fine wispy maroon hair, and
seemed to have no visible sex at all.  The ninth was a boy covered from head to foot
in coarse black hair, like a baby gorilla, but with unmistakably human face, hands
and feet.  There were twelve in all.
And they were all green.
Pale translucent jade green, dark olive-green that was almost brown, dappled
aquamarine like a body seen underwater, but always distinctly green.  As though
they'd all come from different mothers, but had the same father.
It was the better part of a day before it occurred to her that she might
have gotten the correct answer on the first try.
There was no mistaking what she was there for, however: the aching in her
taut, heavy breasts made that obvious.  Almost before the reality of the situation
had sunk in, Karen was cradling the baby who was crying the loudest -- a grass-green
boy with thick blond hair -- and holding him to her breast.  She'd seen her mother
do it often enough, and had no trouble cradling him in her arm, supporting his head,
and pressing beside her nipple so the bulk of her breast didn't force him away.
She'd watched her mother nursing often enough over the years, so she knew
how it was done.  But somehow Mom had never mentioned that it could be painful.  It
hurt, more than she would have guessed, but the little guy was hungry, and her
breasts were aching with milk pressure, so she kept at it.
Mom had dropped hints over the years that nursing could feel very, very
good, and Karen had guessed that the feeling could be sexually charged (she
certainly enjoyed playing with her own nipples, and could only imagine what it
would feel like for a lover to kiss them).  She did feel some sexual arousal, and
also noticed that there was pleasure in the relief of pressure, like taking a leak
when you'd been denied for a long time.  The pain she figured would lessen, in time
While he nursed, she examined him more closely.  He was male, with a normal-looking
uncircumcised penis.  There was a tiny patch of white on the tip, under the foreskin.
Gently she pushed, to peel it back, and saw that there was a tiny round swatch of
something white and fluffy, like toilet paper or flannel, stuck over the urinary
meatus.  She was afraid to try to pick it off; she'd leave it be unless he showed
signs of distress.
Examining his penis reminded her that he had no diaper.  None of the babies
did.  That was going to be a problem, and sooner rather than later, especially
considering how much the little green sprout was drinking.
Cradling the boy, she walked around the room, looking over the children.
All twelve had little white patches, always in the analogous place.  The
seemingly-sexless child had a patch surprisingly far back, almost to the anus,
which she saw also had a little patch.  That was the clue, quickly confirmed on all
twelve: a little patch on the anus, that stayed in place unless she pulled at it
steadily for several seconds, and which smoothed down again when she placed it back
on the anus.
So, apparently she didn't have to worry about diaper changes; some
mysterious arrangement, using alien technology (a disintegrator?  a teleporter?),
had solved that problem very elegantly.
Walking around the space, she found her own sanitary arrangements, which
were just as elegant and outwardly simple: a shallow hole in the floor.  Wastes
which fell in it vanished without a fuss.  A small square of the same fluffy white
stuff wiped her clean, and stayed clean itself.
At the opposite side of the chamber was a small recess in the wall, holding
a bowl.  She pulled the bowl out, looked it over and set it back in, and it was
instantly filled with a mound of moist bluish stuff, somewhere between bread and
pudding in texture and not very flavorful.  She was a little hungry, and quite
thirsty, so she ate most of what was in the bowl and then set it aside.
She continued around the room, and almost missed the door.  Fine cracks
marked a section of the wall which, if it were removed, would make a standard-sized
doorway.  There was no sign of a handle or hinges, just the cracks.  And another set
of even finer cracks in the middle of the door, which she saw formed three circles
joined into a "V" by straight lines.
Now at least she knew whose slave she was.
Colu Dox had been born with powers and abilities far beyond those normal for
the inhabitants of the planet Yod: he was stronger, faster, vastly more intelligent,
nearly invulnerable.  On Earth, he might have become a superhero, or at worst a
supervillain, but Yod had a different culture, different rules, different
expectations.  Dox became a tyrant.
His reign had not been a popular one.  Coups and revolutions were more or
less constant, and each time his reprisals against the rebels were more terrible.
Finally, he responded to a worldwide revolt by releasing a deadly microbe to which
only Dox himself was immune.  Left alone, Dox used computer-controlled machinery to
keep Yod's industrial plant running and began preparations to resettle the planet.
He roamed the galaxy, abducting thousands of people from different worlds,
holding them in suspended animation until the day he would arrive home.
The people of Earth first became aware of Dox as a mysterious voice speaking
from Metropolis University's BRAINIAC computer.  At first, even some of the
engineers on the project believed that the machine's thousands of relays and vacuum
tubes had somehow produced a conscious mind.  By the time it was revealed that the
computer was being manipulated from afar by a flesh-and-blood alien, the public
couldn't stop calling him "Brainiac".
Superwoman had defeated Brainiac and returned him to Yod alone, leaving
Brainiac's spaceship in the hands of experienced space travellers among the
Dox had returned two years later, this time as the leader of a legion of
super-powered beings from many planets, including one who claimed to be Captain
Comet of Earth (an identification made problematic by the fact that "Captain Comet"
had been the fictitious hero of an early television serial).  Superwoman had
unmasked the group's leader as the infamous Brainiac, and his dupes turned against
So, now Dox apparently had a new scheme to provide himself with subjects:
abduction, but also mass breeding.  The babies were obviously half-Yodian,
presumably bred from Brainiac’s own sperm.  A sick assembly line, with captives
performing separate tasks, in some ham-fisted notion of efficiency.  Karen thought
the man really did act as though he had a computer for a brain.
She kept nursing the green boy until he fell asleep; by then, two more
babies were crying.  She'd seen Mom with an infant on one breast and a one-year-old
at the other, but didn't feel up to trying the trick just yet.  She nursed one while
holding the other on her lap, singing softly to it.
She found herself singing a lot, in her new life.
Boredom was her worst enemy.  There were no books, no newspapers, no TV, no
teletype, no adults or even children to talk with.  There was no cooking to do, not
even any mindless housekeeping to divert her.  There were just the babies, sleeping
waking and crying, and all she had to do with her day was rock them and nurse them.
Not that there were any days, or nights.  The lights were always on, and the
babies, of course, were always waking up hungry, so she could only sleep in
irregular snatches, between feedings.  None of them stayed satisfied for long, and
there were twelve of them.
She sang to the babies.  Soothing sounds, to keep them from fussing;
occasionally a bouncy tune to make a cranky baby giggle.  And it was one of the few
mental activities that satisfied her, dredging up songs from her memory.
She noticed she was singing "O Tannenbaum" a lot.  She sang the German
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum,
Dein Kleid will mich was lehren
she sang the English words
Each bough doth hold its tiny light
To make the gloomy winter bright
she sang the secessionist lyrics from Civil War II, which she'd learned in eighth
grade history class.
Avenge the patriotic gore that flecked the streets of Baltimore
And be the battle queen of yore, Maryland, my Maryland
she sang the lyrics she'd learned in the Girl Scouts, at Arctic Survival Camp in
O Lutefisk, O Lutefisk,
Vhy do I eat you, Lutefisk?
You smell like bleach, you look like glue
You taste yoost like an overshoe
she sang the words her grandfather had used one night, when very drunk
It waved above our infant might
When all about seemed dark as night
It witnessed many a deed and vow
We will not change its color now
The tune didn't really make her think of Christmas, which would only have
made her sad; instead, it gave her a feeling of quiet, calm endurance, the kind of
patience required of a prisoner waiting for parole, or a besieged city waiting for
Or, she supposed, a family gathered in the dead of winter to cheer themselves up with rich food
and bright lights.
She named the babies.  They didn’t answer to their names, and she had no-one else to talk with
about them, but it wouldn’t have been right not to.
She named them after her parents and grandparents: Fred, Edna, Jordan, Laura, Eben, Sara.
She named them after her brothers and sisters: Lena, Linda, Jerry, Helen, Joey, Margo.
It wouldn't have been so bad if they'd just let the babies grow up a little.  Seeing them learn to
crawl, to walk, watching their heads fill up with words, long before words began to spill out.  That
would have been more fun than these wordless, squirming babes-in-arms, even if they would have
been more work as they grew more mobile.
But when the babies got to be three or four months old, they would disappear while she was
sleeping, replaced by newborn infants, the stumps of their umbilical cords sealed with white
patches.  Clearly, Brainiac wanted her to nurse the newborns, not to rear the toddlers.
It hurt to wake up and find a baby gone, replaced by some newborn stranger.  But after the first
couple of times, Karen reconciled herself to it.  As time went by, her dreams were filled more often
with images of purple-skinned drudges carrying the babies away through a haze of sleepy-gas, or
of metal tentacles writhing from slots in the ceiling, but she never had a clue to how it was really
done, or what was done with the babies afterwards.
Although she had some dreams on that subject, too.
Having used up her immediate family, she named the next batch of babies after old boyfriends
and schoolmates: Irma, Tina, Lorna, Carlos, Lillian, Byron, Dick.  After that, she named them after
people she knew over the teletype: Kurt, Jim, Morty, Jules, even Cricket.
Sometimes she would test her memory by dredging up teletype letters, movies she had seen,
books she had read, summarizing them for the babies as they nursed.  She was surprised by how
much she could remember of the Cherry Ames books she’d read when she was ten: Cherry Ames,
War Nurse.  Cherry Ames, Ski Lodge Nurse.  Cherry Ames, Refugee Camp Nurse.
One day it occurred to Karen that they’d left one title out of the series: Cherry Ames, Wet Nurse.
She laughed hysterically over that, until it started to make the babies cry.
She remembered all of their names as they came and went: Jimmy, Clark, Lucy, Steve, Oscar.
Some she gave names based on their appearance, like a pet’s name: a girl with a white streak
through her orange hair became Streaky, a boy with milky-jade skin the color of cleansing powder
was called Comet.  A hairless monkey-faced boy was called Beppo, like an organ grinder’s
Karen ate and nursed and rocked and comforted, and slept when she got the chance.  She tested
her memory, singing and talking.  She tallied up the babies’ names, and when she got to 48,
realized that she had been through four complete cycles of approximately three months, and had
been a prisoner for about a year.  By coincidence, it was only a few hours later that her captivity
suddenly ended.
A draft of air woke her.  Air moving as it never had before, and sounds echoing from spaces that
had never been there.  Karen sat up and saw that the doorway in the wall was open, the door gone
without a trace.
Moving warily, acutely aware that she had no idea what was beyond her own little chamber, aware
that she had no weapons, no defenses (aware for the first time in months that she was naked),
Karen stepped through the doorway.
A long corridor curved identically off in both directions.  Small sounds came form the left, so she
went that way.  She saw a blue person lying on the floor, draped with a red blanket.
No, it was a pink-skinned person in a Superwoman costume, she saw after a moment.  A glittering
gray tentacle, more lifelike than the machinery from her dreams, held a stubby green lamp above
the fallen body, even though the corridor was well-lit.
Finally Karen understood that the person really was Superwoman, overcome by Kryptonite.  Next,
she saw a pair of larger tentacles hanging down from the ceiling, reaching for the fallen heroine
and then jerking back, apparently suffering some kind of mechanical failure.
Not expecting to succeed, Karen stepped up to the small tendril that held the Kryptonite and
yanked at the luminous ingot.  It came away easily, Karen almost fell over, and then she ran back
into the nursery and dropped it into the potty hole.  She gave a cry of triumph as it vanished, and
she hurried back to the fallen Superwoman.
Pulling the crumpled cape away from her would-be rescuer’s face, Karen was stunned to find that
the person in the blue suit was actually a blonde boy of about thirteen.  He looked up, blinking
weakly, smiled nervously.
“Um, thanks,” he said in a soft, very pleasant alto voice.
Karen smiled.  “Thanks for getting my door open, if I’m not mistaken.”
He nodded, sitting up, then getting shakily to his feet.
“Yeah, I think I’ve shut down most of the main computer’s control systems, but some of the
independent defense systems are pretty clever.”
He looked up at the impotently-writhing tentacles.
“But fortunately, not perfect.”
He brushed himself off, seeming to grow larger as his power returned to him.  He bit his lip and
tried to look Karen confidently in the eye.
"I'm Superwoman’s Secret Emergency Weapon Number 38.  I was built in this form in order to
confuse and mislead criminals.  Um, my internal power source is based on her own powers, that’s
why it’s vulnerable to Kryptonite."
Karen waved her hand, silencing the boy’s clumsy explanations.
"Look, I don't care what you are, or where you came from: whether you're Superwoman's kid
brother, or an immigrant from Earth-252, or if you actually are Superwoman, transformed by Red
Kryptonite.  Whatever you are and whatever you're doing here, if you want me to keep quiet about
you, I will."
The boy bit his lip, nodded.
“Um, thank you.  You and the other, um, women will be all right now.  The ship is yours.  And yes,
my existence is supposed to be a secret, so . . . .”
Karen ended his discomfort by offering her his hand.
“So this never happened.  I never saw you.”
He shook her hand, nodded again and punched buttons that opened a door in the opposite side of
the corridor from the nursery.  The door closed, and a small window appeared in it.  Karen watched
through the window as an opposite door opened onto starry space.  It was an airlock.  The boy
faced outward while it cycled, and flew away without a backward glance as the outer door closed
and the little window discreetly vanished.  There were only faint cracks to show there had been a
door in that spot.
Karen looked left and right down the corridor, which seemed like a vista of infinite freedom after a
year in the little nursery chamber.  But Irene was crying, and she herself was hungry, so she nursed
the little beige girl and ate a bowl of blue pudding, and after that she badly needed a nap.
The small figure in red and blue flew down towards the ice-covered mountain too rapidly for
ordinary eyes to notice.  Once past the immense golden door, he went directly to his bedroom and
began to change.  He was in yellow shorts, pulling on a green tunic with horizontal shoulder-wings
when a platinum-haired girl of about nine entered without knocking.
"Somebody saw you this time, didn't they?"
He stared at her for a moment, then went on dressing, saying nothing.
"The Drygur Moliom is gonna have your hide if she finds out."
"She won't.  I wasn't on Earth."
"Du-uh!  Neither is she, half the time."
"Well, anyway, she won't find out, so don't worry about it."
"Who's worried?  Like I care if you get in trouble."
They went out into the common room that connected the three small bedrooms.  He picked up a
puzzle-sphere and poked at elements deep inside with tiny puffs of controlled breath.
"It's so dumb.  She's always on us about how the greatest thing anybody can do is to help people,
and then she won't let us do any helping."
"Not until the time is right, yeah, I know."
"I'm almost as old as she was when she started out, and she was self-taught."
"I know, I know.  Heck, I agree with you.  But you didn't hear that from me."
"Not a word," he sighed, nodding, "not a word."
When Karen woke, the door was still open, and the corridor outside was full of women.  Blue
women, red women, impossibly tall and slender green women, immense hulking women with rough
orange skin and breasts like warheads.  Hairless grey-skinned women who looked like they spent
a lot of time in the water.  Black-furred women with eight breasts.  A woman with three breasts in a
row, in flagrant violation of bilateral symmetry (Karen wondered if it were a cosmetic addition).
Some of them carried babies or toddlers.  About half of them were visibly pregnant.  All of them
were visibly relieved.  Most of them were milling about with nothing to do, but from time to time
individuals and small groups bustled past, intent on some task.
Karen wandered the corridors like the others for awhile, feeling something build up inside her.
Suddenly she felt a sigh escaping from her as though it had gathered from all corners of her body,
and a huge weight was lifted from her shoulders.
She was free.  Whatever happened next, whether she saw Earth again one day or not, she was no
longer a prisoner of that diabolical nursery.  She felt the way she had when the disarmament treaty
had gone into effect, and the world had been freed from the threat of nuclear war.  There might be
all sorts of bad things in the offing, but the worst was over, and she had survived.
Shaking herself, Karen found the strength to go back to the nursery again.  Peri and Morgan were
both red-faced from crying, so she cradled both of them, giving them each a breast.  When they fell
asleep, she fed Freddie, who was not in so much distress, then took advantage of the lull to go out
again and find one of those purposeful types.
She found an orange-skinned woman with what looked like purple tentacles growing from her
head, passing out green shifts to nude women.  Karen accepted one, relishing the sensation of
fabric against her skin for the first time in over a year.  She made a note that she'd have to cut the
front more deeply, to allow her to nurse with it on.  She also considered, for the first time in a long
time, how much bigger her breasts were after a year of very intensive nursing.  She could only
guess what her bra size would be by now.
Tugging the shift into place, she hurried after the woman.
"You're one of the ones in charge here, aren't you?"
"Well, I'm working, anyway."
Karen took an armload of shifts and helped distribute them to those who desired clothing.
“There’s somebody aboard here who knows how to pilot this thing, right?”
“Sure.  Many of us were taken off ships in transit, and some were pilots.  We’re in control of the
ship now, but since we’re only a couple of months out of Yod, we’re going to make the landing.
Once we’re settled there, anybody who wants can make arrangements for flights back to their
home planets.  Wherever you’re from, someone’s bound to be heading in its general direction.
“As for me, though, I’m planning to stay on Yod and help raise the kids.  I don’t think I could stand
to be separated from the bunch of little crawlers in my compartment.”
Karen thought it over.  Staying on Yod would mean giving up on Earth, probably for good.  Never
seeing her family again, never continuing her education.  Yod had advanced technology, much of
it still in working order, but it was still a mostly-vacant world, with dangers she could only guess at,
not the least of them being the threat of Brainiac's coming back.
It might also mean living on a planet of women and children, seeing men rarely, if ever.
But going back to Earth meant never seeing any of the babies again, and she was so sick of
having her babies taken away.
“So will it just be the three hundred of us, and the babies, when we get there?”
“No.  There are nine other ships, all under the control of their former captives, converging on Yod
right now.
"There's also a prison asteroid in Yod’s solar system, where Dox confined various enemies of his
regime in the early days.  Supposedly it had been destroyed, but apparently Dox was actually
keeping them incommunicado in case he needed healthy Yodian males after all.  Recently, they
managed to get a ship to Yod, and now they're ferrying prisoners home.  There are ten thousand in
all, and between them and us we seem to have all the necessary skills to keep a civilization
Karen was a little dubious.
"Enemies of the regime?  What kind of enemies?  Gangsters, disaffected youth?"
"Some of them were from a rather disorderly subculture made up of the attendants to herds of
meat animals on the plains of the Eastern Continent, but most were members of an emergency-
services guild which conspired to overthrow Dox soon after he took power."
Karen began to smile.
"So, let me see if I've got this straight.  We've got three thousand women on their way to meet ten
thousand firemen and cowboys. . . ?"

Note:  Please send all comments to dr_psycho1960@hotmail.com

1 comment:

Dr. Psycho said...


See, what did I tell you? Cowboys and firemen.