Offspring Ch. 005byTalemaster©
I arrived at Arden's office at the appointed time. There were two armed guards in his office who asked me to follow them. I asked if I was under arrest.
"No," said one of the guards, "but you will be if you don't come with us."
There was no point in arguing with them. They frisked me for weapons and when they decided I was clean took me to the basement in the elevator and to a vehicle. We drove a short way underground and emerged on the spaceport tarmac a short while later. There was a Federation cruiser parked about a mile away; our destination.
On arrival I was blindfolded and escorted into what turned out to be a lift, then there was a walk along a corridor by the sound of it and we went into some room. Once inside the room the blindfold was removed and I found myself in front of a Federation general, still flanked by the gorillas. By that time I was well and truly shitting myself.
The general dismissed the guards and addressed me.
"My apologies, Mr. Walters. We had to make it look right for the Oktonians. A bit hard on the nerves, I know, but from what I've heard about you, you're a tough candidate, you can handle it. Come with me please."
We went into an adjacent room. It was sparsely furnished. There was a table and a few chairs, not much else. I was asked to sit on one side, the general sat on the other and was joined by two women, one in the uniform of a colonel, the other one a captain. I was sure I recognised the colonel, she looked older since I had seen her last, but it had to be her. By now I was getting an idea what this was all about.
"Names do not matter here, Mr. Walters, you will address us by our rank," said the colonel.
"If that's the way you want it Colonel Saraswati, so be it. You are Lata Saraswati, the famous anthropologist, aren't you?"
"You know me?" She looked like a stunned mullet.
I couldn't help myself. I just had to get a dig in. "If you guys had done your homework properly you would have known that you were lecturing at my university when I was a student. I used to sit in on your lectures whenever I had a chance. I wasn't one of your students, so you wouldn't remember me, but I remember you for sure. I guess we are here because you want me to brief you on what I know about the Oktonians."
"You are correct," she said, "that's why we are here."
"Alright," I said, "this is how we are going to play it. If we need to keep up some scam to prevent the Oktonians from guessing what we are doing I am quite happy to go along. Just tell me what you want me to do. Apart from that, no more of that military bullshit. Let's discuss the matter like civilised academics. I am quite happy to tell you everything I know. I have some questions of my own you might be able to help me with Dr. Saraswati. But please, let us adjourn to some more civilised surroundings. I don't respond very well to this inquisitorial setup. Besides, my dear Doctor, you look much prettier in a dress."
"You are a man of many surprises Mr. Walters." For the first time she smiled when she said that.
"You ain't seen nothin' yet, Darlin'." I replied.
She laughed at the cliché. We went to what looked at a small club room adjacent to a bar. The ladies and the general excused themselves and left me with an orderly. He offered me some coffee, I asked for a beer. He served the beer without comment. I lit a cigarette and awaited proceedings.
Two beers later the ladies turned up without the general, both in dresses this time.
"Sorry it took so long. I needed to pull a few strings to get your conditions accepted. This is Dr. Bernice Schreiber, my offsider. She is also an anthropologist." Then she surprised me. "Perhaps it would be best to dispense with formalities altogether and call each other by our first names. Is that alright with you Frank?"
I grinned. "I've always thought you were the cleverest woman I've ever come across. You proved it again, Lata."
She actually blushed. She shook her head, as if to get rid of an unwanted thought and said: "Let's get to work then."
I poured myself another beer, lit a cigarette and began with my tale. I started with my arrival on Okton4 and my introduction to Oktonian sex. Bernice was making notes on a small computer. I was sure the interview was being recorded as well. I got as far as Miss Manning when I decided it was enough for the day.
"Look, ladies, " I said, "I need to break off here and make tracks back to the hotel. I don't want to interrupt the routine, I don't know what might happen if I miss my next lesson. Let's continue this tomorrow."
The ladies agreed. The guards went through the rigmarole of blindfolding me until we were in the car. On the way back they told me that, if I was asked, I had to tell the Oktonians I was giving evidence in a massive fraud case and that I wasn't permitted to talk about it. If the Oktonians were persistent I was to refer them to the Federation judge. This made sense, since everybody who mattered on Okton4 knew I was stranded here because the company I had worked for had gone belly up.
Sure enough, when I went for my session I was pulled up by the liaison officer. She wanted to know what the Feds wanted of me. I gave her the party line. When she asked if I had been involved in anything untoward I said that I had never been an employee of the company, but merely a contract engineer. The judge simply wanted to know what I had observed over the years. She was happy with that and cleared me for the next lesson.
That day I went back to Cleopatra for a bit of fun. She was always happy to see me.
Over the next few days I told Lata and Bernice everything that had happened and what I thought about it. They never interrupted me or asked questions. That, I knew, would come later.
In my lessons I had done nothing new, mainly visiting places where I had been already. When I had brought my tale up to date Lata asked me a question that floored me.
"Why do you think you are still receiving lessons? They don't seem to be teaching you any more. From what you are telling me you have been freewheeling for a while now. None of the others have lasted longer than a month before they were whisked off to the mainland. Why not you?"
"That is an interesting question Lata. I've never asked myself that because I didn't know what happened to the others." Then I had an idea. "Lata," I asked, "can you get me the bank balance of everyone on the day they went to the mainland?"
"I'm sure I can. Why do you want that?"
"Just a hunch at this time, please humour me for now, I might well be wrong."
It was time to get back to the hotel. Nothing special happened. Again I didn't try anything exotic. Afterwards I sat in the bar and over a few beers I had an outrageous idea. I wondered if Lata would play ball if I asked her.
Lata had the figures I had asked for when I turned up in the morning.
The figures showed what I had suspected.
"Look," I said, "They had spent all their money. At the time they left all were broke."
"I see that. So what?"
"The Oktonians charge quite heavily for their services. With the hotel, the food, the sex and a few beers, it's costing me over a thousand credits a day. I can afford it, the others couldn't. That's why they took them to the mainland."
"But why? If they can't pay, what do the Oktonians get out of it?"
"As far as I can tell they are harvesting human sperm. It's the only thing that makes sense. I am different to the others, with me they get their sperm and get paid on top of it. As long as I have money they won't invite me to the mainland. Why should they?"
"What do they want human sperm for?"
"Rumour has it they can breed with us. Maybe they fertilise their eggs with our sperm. What kind of hybrid that would produce I can only guess at. Whatever the purpose, it must be valuable to them or they wouldn't go so far out of their way to collect sperm. Tell me, how do Oktonians pay for their imports?"
"There is only one Oktonian export commodity, lithium. It is exported as what we call on Earth Zabuyelite, a natural mineral form of lithium carbonate. It is very rare. There are only five small deposits of it known on Earth. They seem to have lots of it."
"They sell the mineral form and not the pure metal? That must be prohibitively expensive as far as freight is concerned."
"It is. It's still worth it though. Federation traders have been trying to get the Oktonians to supply them with the metal instead, so far without success."
"I wonder why that is. You'd think with their technology it would be a pushover."
"Someone needs to go there. We would love to know what goes on in this place."
"It doesn't seem to be difficult to go there, many have done that. For some reason they can't communicate with us once they are there. Therein lies the problem. There is perhaps a way to do this. Are you game to try something really wild? If you are, I want to discuss that with you on your own, without witnesses." I turned to Bernice. "No disrespect Bernice."
Lata stared at me. She seemed unsure whether she wanted to hear more. In the end she took courage, dismissed Bernice and said: "What do you have in mind?"
"Please don't be offended, but I need to ask you something first. If, as part of an adventurous scientific experiment, it became necessary for you to screw me, would you do it?"
Lata stared at me in total disbelief. Eventually she said: "What did you just say?"
I repeated the question.
"This is the worst sexual come-on I have ever heard. Are you nuts?"
"No, oddly enough I'm not."
"You better have a good explanation for asking me that or there will be real trouble."
"Tell me Lata, you've heard of all my adventures with the Oktonians, can you tell me where or when I've been? Was I time travelling? Was I teleporting through universes? Or, was I simply hallucinating?"
"I have no idea."
"Wouldn't you like to find out?"
"I'd give my right arm if I knew the answer to that."
"That won't be necessary. The possible use of your cooch will be quite sufficient."
"Before I report you for sexual harassment you better explain yourself right now."
"What I have in mind is simple enough. When I go later for my lesson I'll focus on you in your bedroom, say at ten o'clock tonight. If it's a hallucination, nothing will happen. If it's not, you'll get laid. You need to go through with it though. I want it to be straight, with as few variables as possible."
"You are crazy."
"Perhaps. It's worth a try though."
"Because you are the only one I would trust with this. One thing is crucial though. If the experiment works, the military must never find out about it. They would try to use me for clandestine shit. They would also need to kill you and Bernice to keep the whole thing secret."
"Assuming it works, what would you do then?"
"Going to the mainland and visiting you every time I have some information might be one way to use this."
"What do you want to do now?"
"I take it you are game to try?"
"A look at your bedroom would be really helpful."
"Come on then."
It wasn't very far away. It was a simple, though comparatively spacious cabin. I pulled her inside and kissed her. Much to my surprise Lata responded. When I released her she said: "What was that for?"
"Consider it a down payment for tonight."
"You are crazy!"
A short time later the guards escorted me back to the hotel.