tagNovels and NovellasSpreading Seeds Saga 01

Spreading Seeds Saga 01

byJackLuis©

Authors note:

I first published Spreading Seeds in 2008 and it was poorly self-edited. Since then I have edited it more rigorously and present this revised version in a more compact manner. I hope this new version will please my readers.

JackLuis

*

Spreading Seeds

Chapter 1

We rode into the Burney, New Mexico just before sundown on the 15th of March, 2367 AD, (253 AP).

It was 250 odd years after the "Fist of Allah had smitten the unbelievers". That plague had reduced mankind to one percent of it former billions. The resulting chaos cost the remaining population modern agriculture and as the refineries collapsed, the oil had no way to be converted into motor fuel or fertilizers, so the few stripper wells that still produced ceased to function. Global warming caused a lot of additional casualties but after the first hundred years the climate stabilized again and even thrown back to wood for fuel what little was left of humanity had very little impact on the environment.

The Plague had come out of the Middle-East and began to spread rapidly through the air travel network. So that was shut down, and still the Plague progressed and the highways were shut. Some cities and towns cut their ties with the outside to limit the plague's progress. Major cities had massive die offs and without food imports large cities soon became untenable. In a few places the unaffected populations were able to carry on, but they were raided by starving masses and in five years most of the world was clusters of isolated communities surrounded by farm land. For about the next ten years there was even more contraction of the population. One of the residual effects was a change in the ratio of male to female births. Only about ten percent of babies born were male.

As the normal world order was failing and the governments collapsing, the President had realized that mankind might loose all it's knowledge. He had transferred the reigns of power from the political to the Librarians of the Universities, with the charge to conserve the information in the libraries to serve the survivors, if any.

In Davis, California, home of a major Agricultural and Medical University and sufficiently isolated from the major population centers was able to survive the first few years of the plague; an organized population developed and was able to make it through the wild times that followed. Fortunate to be serviced by two hydroelectric plants, Davis was able to maintain a civilized society and became the capitol of the Northern California Republic.

After 253 years the survivors in Northern California were just reaching out to other parts of the world, Scout Traders had been used for over a hundred years and had reached the hills of northern New Mexico. Here they found a group that had survived by herding goats, growing hemp, corn, beans and squash.

Burney, as I understood it, had evolved from a Pueblo out on a reservation. Apparently little survived of Native culture due to the influx of refugees they had accepted. Their culture was submerged in the Federal administration of the refugee camp that was established, at least according to Chief Mercer who had been here before.

We rode into the village and were greeted with great hospitality. We were the first people from "Outside" that they had seen in 75 years, except for the original scouting party last year. The village supported about 250 people and as usual we found the male population less than ten percent of the female population.

We no doubt caused a sensation when the villagers saw that 60% of us were men. Young men, hard in body and unbathed, after three weeks from Topock Arizona on horse back. The team was made up of thirteen, Chief Scout Grace Mercer and two team leaders, Sue Games and Sarge Thompson, were the Headquarters and then the ten of us, Steve Coe, Raul Mathis, Bob Krenn, June Summers, Bill Roberts, Able Drake, Charlotte Dunbar, Genevieve Sweet, Roger Oster and me, Josh Perkins. I was low man on the totem pole in this crowd.

I had just graduated from Scout School when the opportunity to join the expedition presented itself. I volunteered to take care of the horses on the trip, and the mules, all 80 of them! The training at the Rancho paid off, and I had been nursing mules from Bakersfield to wherever we were now.

Chief Mercer had been here last year and had negotiated the Agreement for Trade. This expedition was to establish a trading post, the second step to normalization, according to the Scout Traders Manual. We would spend a year here then rotate home, or to a new assignment, that's that way it works in the Scout Trader trade.

My Dad had been a Scout Trader, and his father before him, and so on; I was 22 now and on my first assignment. I was tired, dirty, and hungry, but the mules had to be unloaded and cared for. So I was naturally the last to finish up and therefore first to draw overlook on the remuda while the rest of them joined the villagers in a party to celebrate our arrival.

I did my duty, watching the animals in the pasture and kept an eye on the building where we had stored the goods.

I was walking around trying to stay alert when a girl came out of the dark calling softly.

"Yes, Here I am," I answered.

She looked about sixteen and was smiling carrying a bowl and cup. "I brought you something to eat and some water." She said, offering them to me in the Moonlight. I slung my rifle and accepted the cup, "I can't eat until relieved, but thanks anyway."

I drank the water, my first offence, "That was very good, what's your name?"

"Astral," she looked down and then up at me. "Did I hear right that... now that you are here and setting up the Trading Post, that you'll..." she hesitated searching for the right phrase.

"Bring the full vigor of the seed?" I asked, smiling at her.

She looked up and for the first time I saw her face in the moonlight, she smiled and might have blushed but the silvery moonlight didn't reveal it.

"Yes, oh we heard that, but didn't know if it was true."

"Yes ever since the Conditions were signed -over two hundred years ago. We made an agreement. We keep our agreements," I said, quoting the Kiva line.

"When?" she asked eagerly but then dipped her head and said, "I was just asking 'cause, well the girls will all ask me."

"You'll have to ask Chief Mercer that one. After the bath house is built anyway."

"We have the Bath House all built," she said brightly. "Oh, it's wonderful. I helped lay the tile and your Hefe said to have you come there." She pointed off to the left where I saw some dim lights in the windows. She looked down at the bowl. "I better take this back and keep it warm for you." She said with a serious look. She looked up smiled brightly and said "I'll go make sure the water is hot for you so you can bathe when you get relieved"

She was laughing softly as she skipped off in the moonlight.

I relaxed a little and hoped she hadn't poisoned me to raid the stores. The first rule in dealing with strangers is don't trust them too much. A lot of scouts had proven that a good rule over the years, yet I had drunk her water. I was sure to go to hell for that one, I figured.

After another moonlit hour Sue Games came out and relieved me. She was dressed in a clean uniform, always the Team Leader; she was about 35 and her body was hard as nails. We passed the post and I told her about my transgressing with Astral. She laughed, "Go get cleaned up and eat, these folks are OK. If Steve and Raule are still in the Bath house tell them that they have the mid watch will you? I didn't want to disturb them."

"Sure" I said and made my way out of the pasture to the light of the buildings.

Astral met me as I approached an open doorway, "I saved you some warm stew and heated the water. " She said laughing.

"Thank You Astral,"

We entered the Bathhouse, I found it had red tile floors, and two corners of the entry had fireplaces, each with a small but steady fire. A draped arch apparently led to the baths. A guitar was being played in the bath, and voices, some of whom I recognized, drifted through the drapes, oil lamps provided a thin light. After the high mountain air outside, it was hot in the entry way, Astral closed the door and said, "Do you want to eat now, or bathe?"

I looked around; At least five scouts had their clothes hanging on hooks that lined one wall. "I'll bathe first, I think," I hung my field coat on an empty hook.

Astral came over to help me, calling loudly, "Maria come help me."

A woman about twenty-eight years old or so came out wearing only a short robe. She saw that Astral was bent over my leg tugging on my boot, her rear end inches from my face.

"Astral! What are you doing?" Maria came over and slapped her playfully on the shoulder, "You go get him some stew and leave him to me."

Astral pouted a little but left the entry hall.

I finished taking off my boot before I got a good look at Maria. She was short and a little stout but had a nice face, lending to Hispanic, her skin was smooth and dark but paler on her legs which had little hair above the knee. She stood before me and asked, 'What's your name?"

"Josh, Josh Perkins. What's yours?"

"Maria Bitterwater, here let me help you," she threw her leg over mine and pulled off my other boot. Again her rear end was almost at my nose and I couldn't help but notice that her robe failed to cover her ass as she bent over. She had nothing under it and was neatly trimmed. She stood and turned, "There can I help you with those pants, or shirt first?"

She reached to unbutton my shirt but I drew back, thinking how dirty I was, "How did you get the name Bitterwater?" I unbuttoned my uniform, and her nose turned up a little as I took off the wool shirt that I had worn for the last two weeks.

"Sorry," I said. "We moved too quick trying to get here for the Ceremony to take time for a bath, and I wanted to save my last uniform for when we arrived."

"I understand." She said, as she kept the offensive garment at arms length. "My Nth-grandmother was Bitterwater Clan, so we kept the name," she took a pouch from the hook, emptied the shirt pockets into the pouch, and handed it to me. "Take out what you don't want washed, and put it in this. I'll go get you a robe." She turned and left me alone.

I sat down, took off my socks, and put them with the shirt; I emptied my trouser pockets into the pouch, and took my belt out of the belt loops.

Maria returned with a robe of dark red wool, and my saddle bags. "Your friends brought these for you," she handed me the bags. "You can bring them with you but leave the clothes you want washed on the bench. If it doesn't rain Astral will have them for you tomorrow night. Come in when you're ready and I'll dip for you." She turned and went through the drapes into the Baths.

I stripped the rest of the way and put on the robe. I put the pouch in my saddle bag, and got out the soap I had saved for this occasion. I went through the drapes and found Steve and Raule, surrounded by mostly robed women.

"Josh you're almost too late, only one left," Raule called out. Steve laughed and lay back on the cushions that covered the pedestal in the center of the room. A chandelier hung above it and but gave off little light, even though it had at least 20 candles on it, only a few were lit.

Astral came out of the back of the room carrying a steaming bowl, and looked at me hopefully. I waved to her, and put my bags along side Steve and Raule's, "Not yet," I said.

Maria got down off the pedestal, took me by the hand to the rear of the room, took my robe and hung it with hers on the wall. "Set on the stool and I'll dip." A low stool was on duck boards next to the wall. I took my soap and sat down.

Maria mixed hot and cold water into a bucket and brought it for me to test. I nodded and she raised it and poured warm water over my head and back. It felt wonderful. She mixed another bucket and poured it over my face and down my front, smiling and said, "I have soap for your hair."

While I soaped down my body she mixed more water and brought it and the shampoo. Her hands were firm as she washed the dirt, sweat and dust out of my hair, the first couple of rinses looking more like mud than water.

I soaped my face and she poured water over me to rinse my face and hair. It felt wonderful after all those weeks to finally get completely clean again.

While I washed and Maria poured, one of the women played guitar flamenco style and once in a while the women joined in singing. I noticed their language was oddly accented, and some words had no meaning for me.

Sarge Thompson came into the room from one of curtained alcoves that ringed the room. "Perkins! Just in time,"

Sarge, my team leader was about 45 and was a leader of our Kiva. "You had anything to eat son?"

I wiped water off my face, "Not yet Sarge, I wanted to get rid of the trail dust first. Oh! Games said to remind Steve and Raule that they were expected to relieve her for the mid watch."

Steve rolled over and groaned, he had obviously over extended, and I know he was as tired as I.

"Go on, get some sleep Steve. You've got two hours before you're on," Sarge said

Both he and Raule got off the pedestal, one of the women got up with them saying, "I'll just get some blankets." then hurried back through the rear of the room.

By now Maria had a good second lather worked up in my hair and the shampoo tingled my scalp a little. Her hands were firm, thorough, and felt very good. I held my nose as Maria poured water on my face and I put my head back to rinse my hair yet again. Dirt that had been in my hair since the dust storm in the Painted Desert sluiced over the duck boards, and out the drainage beneath.

Sarge settled down on the cushions and took a cup from one of the smiling women. "Thank you gentle lady," he said and watched as Maria finished rinsing me off. "Have Maria give you a shave Perkins, she's a deft hand with a razor."

So weeks of beard and trail grime were expunged, and I joined Sarge on the cushioned pedestal. It was warmer up there, the cushions were soft, and I almost fell asleep before Astral showed up with a large bowl of goat stew. Lots of vegetables, and some beans around the edges, but very nicely done and filling. Astral provided tortillas, brought a jug of water, and cup.

"So what's the Drill, Sarge?" I asked between spoonfuls of stew.

Sarge leaned back on a sturdy brown breast, and smiled, "Son we are finally here, Mercer is happy, so I'm happy. The girls are on duty, they went with Sue to keep watch on the stores till mid-watch, then me and the twins have to relieve them. Roy and Bob are asleep, and will help you relieve us in the morning. We'll start building corrals in the morning. You just have to make sure I'm awake in an hour, then you can get some sleep, or perhaps some recreation, Eh?" Maria had put her robe back on, and joined me on the pedestal.

I smiled at her and touched her cheek, "Thank you for the shave. I haven't been this smooth for weeks."

She smiled back and pressed my fingertips softly to her cheek, "Perhaps you can pay me back?"

"Not for an hour, or so I'm afraid."

"Well eat hearty and rest, you've come a long way.".

Sarge got up," If they offer you a smoke don't accept Perkins. The stuff they have here will ruin you for corral building." Sarge took his bags, found an empty alcove, and went to bed. Most of the women faded through the front door then, the girl playing the guitar stopped, and joined us on the pedestal.

""You play very well," I tried to get a look at her in the dim light.

Astral joined us bringing a plate with fried bread and honey, "That's Reba, my younger sister." Reba snuck a glance up at me, and giggled into her hand. She was perhaps 15, just filling out as a woman. I smiled at her.

"Here try my poyos," Astral interjected handing me a slice of poyo dripping with honey. She held her hand under the dripping poyo catching the honey in her palm. I took the poyo with my mouth then licked her fingers, I took the other hand and licked up the honey she had caught, all the time looking into her eyes. I could see my tongue had touched off a little flame as she kept her hand out long after I had stopped licking.

I took the last spoonful of stew and finished up the last tortilla, Maria offered me a napkin of fine cloth to wipe my hands and mouth. One of the trades offered was fine hemp fiber spun into smooth cloth, I felt the smooth texture of the cloth on my lips and figured it was a good trade.

Maria took my bowl, and spoon, and handed it to Reba, "Reba put this in the kitchen on your way to bed dear, we have to cut poles tomorrow and you'll need your rest."

Reba's face fell, but she took the bowl and kissed Astral goodnight. I reached out and took her hand thinking I would kiss it and thank her for the music, but when I took her hand she lunged, kissed me full on the lips, and then fled.

Maria shook her head, she said something I didn't hear but Astral responded sharply, and left the pedestal, Maria just laughed.

I lay back on the cushions and was almost asleep when I felt a hand on my thigh. I looked up and saw it was Maria who was massaging my leg, smiling. After a short while Astral had changed into a robe, and was now tentatively massaging my other leg.

I sat up not sure how long my Kiva training could last. "Ladies, Ladies," I took their hands in mine and brought them to my lips, "We must remember that worshiping the Goddess takes a lot out of a man, and I have ridden over a 100 'clicks since before sunup. I appreciate your estimate of my stamina, but there are the Rules of my Kiva to be observed."

Maria stroked my cheek, "I'll trade you the shave?" She smiled; it was a good smile, honest and hopeful.

"Done,' I took her hand and kissed it, "many thanks for the bath as well."

She reached across and kissed me, both hands in my damp hair. She was a strong woman but, she made no resistance when I broke the kiss by nipping her lips with my teeth, just lightly as was recommended in the Kiva Manual.

"Now Astral," I said, after Maria had finally seated herself beside me.

"The stew and water?" she asked hopefully.

I shook my head, "No, how old are you? You must be 18 to consent to the ceremony, and..."

"I am, I am in the old ways. I'm 18 last January," She interjected.

I smiled at her and thought to myself, "An eager virgin, shit we'll never get any sleep tonight old son."

"Well in the new ways, you're not Bahia until after moonrise tomorrow." As Maria started to lift Astral off the cushions.

Then an explosion of Spanglish and shoving occurred. I made out a Vamoose, and something about an Old Cow, but honestly I didn't really pay attention. I just reached over and pinched both of them by a nipple, "Ladies! Ladies!" The strength of my grip on the tender flesh I pinched calmed them down, they both looked down as I released my first pressure.

"We need to be civilized ladies, I have to decide, and apply the rules of my Kiva. Do you know what that means?" I waited.

Maria spoke first, "The woman told us of your Kiva, how you always do it the same way."

"Do you know why? We took an oath to Worship the Goddess in all women. Each of you is unique. Each has to be addressed with the respect due a Goddess, and her individual needs. My Kiva taught me that it is a great privilege to rebuild our species, and that can only be honored by respecting the Goddess in each of you."

Neither had been proclaimed Goddesses before so they both were smiling. I pressed on, "Come, sit, and we can discuss it. I need some rest until the midwatch."

We sat and talked of the Kiva rules; first a trade must occur between the parties, then the man washes the woman with soap, the union can then be consummated, and, hopefully, a new life will be generated to continue the species a little longer. It had been the policy in all but the Kiva House of Giving in Davis, where the rules were different, but I didn't mention that.

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