tagSci-Fi & FantasyCommunity Service

Community Service


In my story, "Midsummer Fest, Ch.2" there are several references to a 'failed colony' on the planet Sylvan. It was called a debacle and almost killed Project Lifeboat, the interstellar colonization program. This was written to explain just what really happened out there.

"The defendant will rise and face the bench!"

Ariel stood, her eyes still red from crying but her mouth set in a resentful scowl. From the day of her arrest there really had been no question of what would happen. Now it was only a question of how bad it would be.

"You have been found guilty of excessive attempts at privacy and of avoiding surveillance. These are crimes against the general well being and against planetary security. As such they carry a penalty of not less than eighteen months community service. Therefore, I sentence you to a period not less than eighteen months and not to exceed five years. You will be remanded to the custody of the Xenophilian Institute for the duration. Bailiff, remove the prisoner." The gavel banged.

Five years? She could spend as long as five years essentially enslaved to some place just for not wanting the International Security Agency listening on her thoughts? Worse, the stalwart woman next to her snapped a leashed metal collar round Ariel's neck and led her away like—like a farm animal! The humiliation was crushing.


The Xenophilian Institute was not far by flyer from the courthouse but escaping on foot would be impossible. It grew out of the living granite of an island in a mountain lake. Near freezing water surrounded the place and the nearest shore was but a faint line on the horizon. No, when Her Honor had said one-and-a-half to five years she meant it. There was no getting away from this place.

Still tugged along like an unwilling filly, Ariel left the flyer and was handed over to a disdainful-looking young man. He was obviously some underling but he had her by the neck.

"I will take you to the baron, now. Once he has briefed you, I will take you to your quarters. They aren't too bad and so long as you obey and cooperate they'll stay that way. Try and get funny with him and you'll find yourself sleeping on straw in a stall. Got it?"

Ariel nodded mutely, sighed and tried to keep up as she was led across a central courtyard and through doors under a sign reading, "Xenophilian Institute: Intimate Knowledge of the Unfamiliar."

Several hundred meters of corridors and two elevators later, Ariel was tugged into an elegant office, dark with wood paneling and velvet drapery, and released. The walls were covered with large, artistic images of strange-looking creatures. Or were they beings? Looking at them one couldn't tell. At least one or two were decked in jewelry so it seemed likely they were intelligent but the girl had no way to know. She swallowed hard and stood up straight. She might be a slave but she'd see her new taskmaster in Hell before she groveled.

"Herr Baron, your new subject. According to the invoice her name is Ariel Brooke."

"Thank-you, Hallowell. You may go. Sit down Ms. Brooke. As Hallowell said, I am a baron but that is Herr Doktor Professor Baron von Kreusnach. You will address me simply as Doktor. Understood?"

"Yes, sir."

The man in the elegant suit took a pair of old-fashioned reading glasses from his pocket, opened, of all things, a paper file Hallowell had handed him and began to read silently. That suited Ariel. The less he said to her the better, she thought. Through the window it was obvious the office was on the top floor of the institute. From here, four or five floors above the landing pad, the distant shore was clearer but even less inviting. Dark pine forest seemed to march clear down to the water's edge with no sign of human habitation. Where the heck was this place? The flyer had had no windows and was obviously very fast. Add to that the fact that the courtroom had been in a small town, quite remote from her home city and it was obvious that whatever the Institute did, it did it in private.

Von Kreusnach put the folder down, repocketed the glasses, leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers beneath his chin. "Ariel, have you any idea what you are here for?"

"No, sir. I've never heard of the Xenophilian Institute."

The older man smiled, somewhat in the manner of an old snapping turtle. "I should hope not. This is a scientific institution but one that, shall we say, does not seek out notoriety. We are engaged in research that is very important to the planet and its place among the planets. We humans were fortunate to be the first to harness the tachyon drive and the jump gates but it turned out that there are some few other species out there that while planet bound are just as civilized or technological as we are. It is the job of the Institute to learn to get along harmoniously with them."

"Yes, sir?"

"Before you were born, Earth planted its first colony on the planet Sylvan. A situation arose there that, it was thought at the time, required that all connections between the two planets be severed. Now that we have established other colonies, some of which are thriving, the government has decided to reopen communication. But because of the previous—difficulty—we are doing so very circumspectly. The most important issue is a need to understand what happened there in the first place. To that end we are conducting a little experiment."

"And I'm going to spend my community service helping? I don't have any scientific training. I'm a sculptor. What am I supposed to do, wash test tubes?"

The baron chuckled in, Ariel decided, a most sinister manner. "Oh, no, my dear. Your role in the experiment is far more important than that. But before we get involved in it you need a hot meal, a hot bath and a good night's sleep. Hallowell!"

The minion appeared at the door. "Yes, Herr baron?"

"Take Ariel to the cafeteria. See that she gets dinner and then show her to her rooms. We will have a busy day tomorrow."


In the morning Ariel awoke in quarters that were like the better sort of motel. They had a king-sized bed, some comfortable chairs, and a desk. In the bathroom was a well-equipped make-up kit. At least while she was here they were going to let her stay presentable—so long, she grumbled, as she obeyed and cooperated. The only real oddity of the place she found was in the wardrobe. Her prison coveralls were nowhere to be seen. The only underwear was a selection of thongs and the only clothing a half-dozen caftans. Well, that was peculiar. No lab coats or anything practical that an assistant could work in. She made up her face and dressed. Looking in the mirror brought a little chill to her stomach. The caftan clung to her curves and was thin and stretchy enough that her nipples were obvious through it. She looked bedroom ready! But the baron had said she was helping in an experiment—just what kind of experiment . . .?

The door opened revealing a small drone hovering over the threshold. "Ms. Brooke," it buzzed flatly, "you will follow me. In a day or two you will learn your way around the Institute, at least as far as you need, but for now this unit will guide you."

Ten minutes following the little flyer brought Ariel to what looked like a well-equipped doctor's office where Herr Baron was waiting. He motioned her onto the examining table.

"Ariel, one of the things that got you into trouble with the authorities was your refusal to join the World-Wide Mind. Personally, I think that was a silly thing to do but if it were up to me, you'd still be out there sculpting away. Unfortunately, the ISA considers such behavior antisocial and sent you to me. And now that you're here you can no longer have that choice because you will need to be able to hear radio waves." And with that he clapped an anesthetic mask over her face. Before she could struggle out of his grasp, everything went black.

She woke up in Recovery with a headache and nausea. A tall nurse helped her to her feet and to the toilet and then seated her in a wheelchair and told it to return the girl to her quarters. Still groggy, Ariel fell asleep on the way back.

That afternoon, Hallowell knocked on her door. "I've brought you some pain killers. You'll probably need them for a day or so while your connection heals."

"My connection? Dammit, I don't want a connection! I . . ."

Hallowell sneered. "We know. But you don't have any choices any more, remember? You're on community service and since the community, or at least the baron thinks you should have one, you do. Get used to it, Sweetie. It's just the first of the things you'll get whether you like it or not."


A few days passed and the surgery quickly healed. But as yet no one told her why she needed to be connected or what they wanted her to do. Nor, for that matter, did anyone attempt to contact her through her new neuro-wiring. Finally, the drone brought her back to the baron's office. He checked the incision on her scalp and the other on the inside of her thigh and nodded to himself in satisfaction.

Very good. Ariel heard the words inside her head. And now that you're connected the experiment can commence. Follow me.

Another walk down a series of unfamiliar corridors brought the pair through a door and into a gigantic greenhouse. Luxuriant foliage arched over paths that wound between tree trunks of enormous circumference. Looking up she could see that they were actually pillars that ended at the ceiling twenty meters above them. But the impression was one of warm, humid primeval forest. There was even a trickling stream running through it that ended in a pond with strange, alien flowers floating on its surface.

This, Ariel, is a reproduction of the surface of Sylvan, the colony we don't talk about. It is here so that Coral Gold-Stripes and his sister will feel at home.

Ariel may have been forced into connection but no one was going to force her to use it. "And who or what is Coral Gold-Stripes?"

He's above you. Up in that tree.

Ariel raised her eyes and dropped her jaw. Sliding down the great bole next to her was a thing of strange and brilliant beauty. If someone took a nudibranch, a sea slug, and enlarged it to the size of a human, it would be the being approaching her. In general it was pinkish red and the array of tentacles on its back did have gold stripes. But saying that would be describing St. Peter's basilica as 'a big church'. Waves of iridescence rippled across the body, never staying the same color from one moment to the next. Arriving at her feet it rose up as a cobra might, twin eyestalks regarding her.

Hello, Ariel heard, you smell good. Are you the other part of the experiment?

She is, indeed, the baron responded, and I'm glad she pleases you.

There was a ripple of amusement in Ariel's head. Oh, all the females of your species please me, just as all the males please our females. It really is the most amazing thing that two such different life forms could find each other attractive.

Ariel whirled to the baron. "What does that mean, 'find each other attractive'? Just what kind of an experiment do you think you're going to do on me? What kind of pervert are you?"

You'd be amazed. The baron chuckled. When colonists landed on Sylvan everyone thought it was uninhabited. It was not. Fortunately, the Xenobranchs were perfectly happy for a colony to be established. In fact, they were delighted. Against all probability, human pheromones are very arousing to them and they, in turn, give off chemicals that have an aphrodisiac effect on us. This would have been only a source of either titillation or amusement to the government but for one amazing thing.

Yes, the alien cut in,it turns out that our DNA is compatible. Within a year of your people landing on Sylvan, offspring of both our species began to show characteristics of the other species.

Ariel's eyes grew huge. "No! NO! It can't—you wouldn't—I won't . . ."

Now the baron was laughing out loud. Well, now, that's what we want to establish. We know that genetic material was passed from our species to theirs and vice versa but what we don't know for sure is how. You see, Ariel, on Sylvan the humans and the Xenobranchs got so entwined that no one could be sure whether it was done in interspecies orgies or whether it can happen between one member of each. So yes, I intend to, and yes, you will. As far as the law is concerned for the next eighteen to sixty months you, Ariel Brooke, are breeding stock. You are my little brood mare and Coral here will be a very willing stud.

At the monstrousness of the idea, Arial fainted.


Moments later Ariel regained consciousness. She was a little embarrassed but strangely secure and warm. Looking around she saw that the baron was nowhere in sight and that she was sitting on what, for lack of a better description, was the alien's lap. A tentacle gently stroked her face. It was python strong but baby soft. Surprised to find herself so comfortable, Ariel wondered why she wasn't screaming in terror but the thing that called itself Coral was gorgeously pretty, warm and, it seemed, just a little humorous.

"What . . .?"

Don't try to talk to me, Ariel. My species is as hearing impaired as yours is scent-deficient. Fortunately, we are natural radio transceivers amongst ourselves. That made it very easy to open communications with your people. The switch is behind your ear so if you pull back on those muscles like you were trying to wiggle your ears we can talk.

Ariel concentrated and tentatively tightened the vestigial muscles that perk a dog's ears. Like this?

Exactly! Coral squeezed her tightly. Now you not only smell good but we can talk.

You—you smell kind of good, too. Kind of—cozy. Ariel found herself unconsciously snuggling deeper into the alien's hold. As she did so the stroking moved from her face down her arms and onto her legs. Then one naughty arm slipped up under her caftan.

Coral Stop that!

Don't be silly. You like it. I know because I can smell it on you. My scent excites and arouses you. In turn, your pheromones arouse me. We become a closed loop, each making the other hornier. It's great fun.

Now a tentacle wrapped around each ankle and spread them apart. Two more imprisoned her wrists and lifted them over her head.

Coral, what—what are you doing?

I'm going to have you, Ariel, just as I've happily had so many human women back on Sylvan. And, I might add, just as so many human men have had our ladies.

Ariel felt her caftan slither up her legs exposing her thong. This was snapped off and tossed aside as the knit material continued its climb up her body. And as the cloth receded, the stroking and fondling began. She knew she should have been outraged but it was, she later decided, like being made love to by a dozen men at once. Tentacles stroked the inside of her thighs, encircled her breasts and squeezed. Her bottom was kneaded and all the while heat spread from the union of her thighs outward. Her face flushed.

My goodness, Coral chuckled, your respond well, don't you? Were you quite the sexual enthusiast back home, Ariel? I like that in a partner. Let's see how you like this.

The tip of a tentacle began to wiggle up her labia from back to clit followed by another and another. Her labia swelled and moistened.

Oh! Oh my gawd! Yes, you monster, I was an enthusiast at home. Oh Coral, don't stop.

A tentacle slipped inside her stroking her G-spot. Then it slipped out and pressed against her anus. Before she could protest it was inside, probing around until it hit a spot she didn't know she had.


Oh, this is new to you? Well surprise, Ariel, I can reach the base of your clitoris from inside your ass. No one's ever done that, have they? Well, get ready, dear, for the orgasm of your life.

As the tentacle pressed and vibrated inside her another took its original place in front. Now assaulted from both ends Ariel's clitoris sent shockwaves through her body. First she whimpered and trembled, then cried out and started to jerk until waves of uncontrollable contractions wracked her again and again. Held tight against the Xenobranch she bucked and thrashed until finally it came to an end leaving her gasping for air.

Coral pulled the girl's ankles up next to her butt. Now, he announced, I'm going to take you. This is just the first time, Ariel. Believe me it won't be the last. We're going to have lots of fun together.

Something big and stiff pressed against her sex. She gasped as it penetrated her. She'd never had anything that large since a fisting experiment back in art school. Unable to move she felt the Sylvan's organ start to thrust and withdraw. Relentlessly it pounded her, in and out sending her back into first the trembling and then the spasms from before until finally Coral, too, stiffened and convulsed repeatedly and at last relaxed and released her.

A long while later she awoke, curled again in the multiple arms. She looked up to see the stalked eyes gazing down fondly at her.

That—that was amazing. Coral, is it just as good for the men? If it is I can see how humans might stop having sex with each other and take to your people.

There was a wry note in the alien's reply. That's why the Earth government closed off contact years ago. They were appalled that our two species found each other so erotic. They considered it perversion or, at worst, some sort of bestiality. What rot! We might have gotten away with it but then the DNA started to leak from one species to another. Now, of course, most of the Sylvan humans are part 'branch and vice versa.

But—but how is that possible?

Well, there are two theories. The human theory is that because humans didn't stop having sex with each other we left residual DNA in the women and it then slipped into fertilized ova kind of like viruses do. Or possibly since there's really a lot of interspecies group sex the DNA gets blended during intercourse. It may even be true to an extent. However, we think differently. Our deepest thinkers suspect that when a member of one species has sex with a member of the other somehow the act causes the female of either species to conceive through parthenogenesis.

Ariel sat up is shock. You mean I could have a—a clone of myself?

Not quite a clone, Ariel. Your daughter will have rather a bit of my genetic material, too. Back home that results in human children being born with hair, eyes and even skin in very uncommon colors. Some of the third generation 'hybrids' grow chromatophores which I'm sure came a great shock the first time a baby went invisible on the changing table. Fortunately it thought the idea was hysterical and the mother was able to hear the giggles. It made for an interesting upbringing, I suspect.

What happens to your species?

Fur, mostly. And a more numerical/analytical way of thinking. There's even a report of one multi-cross female lactating when her first child was born.

So my community service is to act as a test of the theories? What does the baron believe?

So far he's sticking with the human version but he's wrong. My sister hasn't told him, yet, but she's pregnant and hasn't been touched by any male but him since we got here.

Ariel's eyes grew wide. You mean you could really get me pregnant?

Could? Will. It isn't like normal mating, this parthenogenesis. We haven't figured out how it happens, mostly because we're still trying to convince the humans that it does. You'll do that over the next nine to twelve months.

And then afterwards? There was a bitter note in Ariel's thoughts. The baron publishes a scientific paper in The Library and I get tossed out as a single mother with a Technicolor kid to raise? That's one Hell of a sentence to community service!

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