Spreading Seeds Ch. 01byJackLuis©
We rode into the Barney, New Mexico just after noon on the 15th of March, 2357.
It was 250 odd years after the "Fist of Allah had Smote the Heathen". That plague had reduced mankind to 1 percent of it former Billions. The resulting chaos cost the remaining population modern agriculture and just as well 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 was left of humanity had very little impact on the environment.
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.
They had evolved from a Pueblo out on the 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. The village supported about 250 people and as usual we found the male population 10% of the female population.
In Nor Cal the sperm banks had lasted out the effects of the end of civilization through the efforts of UC Davis. Although the second generation had been effected by the plague's gender bias, the mutation of gender bias was absent from the 12th generation.
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 13, Chief Scout Grace Mercer and two team leaders, Sue Games and Sarge Thompson, were Head Quarters and then the ten of us, Steve Coe, Raul Mathis, Bob Krenn, June Summers, Bill Roberts, Roy Bean, 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 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 before 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 16 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 revel 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 is wonderful I helped lay the tile and ..." she trailed off and 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 Pueblo.
Astral met me as I approached the open doorway, "I saved you some warm stew and heated the water. " She said laughing.
"Thank You Astral,"
We entered the Bathhouse and 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 played in the bath and voices, some of whom I recognized drifted thru 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 said hanging my Field Coat on an empty hook.
Astral came over to help me, calling loudly, "Maria come help me."
A woman about 28 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?" she asked. 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 said and 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 saying, "There can I help you with those pants or shirt first?"
She reached to unbutton my shirt but I drew back and asked her, "How did you get the name Bitterwater?" as I unbuttoned my uniform. 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-mother was Bitterwater Clan, so we kept the name," She said as she took a pouch from the hook and 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 and took off my socks and put them with the shirt, 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 said handing 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 your 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. Ready now, I went thru 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 and 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 and she washed the dirt, sweat and dust out of my hair.
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 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?" he asked from across the room.
I wiped water off my face and said, "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 and said, "I'll just get some blankets." and 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 and 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. Dirt that had been in my hair since the dust storm a week ago 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 and 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 and 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 and 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 saying, "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?" she said.
"Not for an hour, or so I'm afraid."
"Well eat hearty and rest you've come a long way." She said.
Sarge got up and said," 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 and found an empty alcove and went to bed, most of the women faded thru the front door then and the girl playing the guitar stopped and joined us on the pedestal.
""You play very well," I said as 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 it with my mouth then licked her fingers then 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. One of the trades offered was fine hemp fiber spun into smooth cloth. I felt the smooth texture on my lips and figured it was a good trade.
Maria took my bowl and spoon, 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 and kissed me full on the lips 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 lie back on the cushions and almost fell asleep when I felt a hand on my thigh. I looked up and saw it was Maria who was massaging my leg and 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 said taking their hands in mine and bringing 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 appreciated your estimate of my stamina, but there are the Rules of my Kiva to be observed."
Maria stroked my cheek and said, "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 sat beside me.
"The stew and water?" she asked hopefully.
"No," I said. "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 the moon rise tomorrow." Maria said as she 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 took both of them by a nipple and said. "Ladies, Ladies." The strength of my hands and the tender flesh I pinched calmed them down as they both looked down as released my first pressure.
"We need to be civilized, 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."
"And 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 the 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. Then the union of can be consummated, 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.
As for Astral's age it appeared that she was not "Bahia" until after the ceremony and the moonrise tomorrow so I only had Maria to face tonight.
I stepped outside to check the Moon time and take a leak. The air was crisp but chilling due to the short robe. I went back in and called for Sarge. I heard his voice but the candles had waned and it was pretty dark. Maria was fluffing up the cushions in one of the alcoves and Astral was tending the fire in one of the corners. I knew if I laid down I'd never get up so I went up behind Maria grasped her firm buttocks as she was bent over adjusting the sheets and pressed myself against her. She started and stood up, turned and kissed me reaching up to grab my hair. I'd gone too far too soon, I pressed her breasts and slowly got her off me. "Now we can Worship the Goddess," I said as she settled down.
Sarge came out dressed and put his saddle bags near the door then searched through the alcoves to find Steve and Raule. They got up and dressed in the dim light packed their bags and put them with Sarge's. In five minutes they were ready to go. They drank some water then left to relieve the girls.
I took Maria by the hand to the duck boards and moved the stool out of the way; I took her robe and hung it up with mine. I got the water mixed so it was very warm and took the dipper with me to where Maria stood naked. In truth the light was very dim and that actually helps, sometimes you have to imagine she is everywoman you've ever touched. Maria was only plain, a little fat but her skin was smooth and not too hairy.
I began by pouring water from the dipper on the back of her neck while she held her hair out of the way. I soaped her shoulders and upper back massaging the tension out of her. Then down to her firm butt which I washed thoroughly, sliding my hand between her cheeks. She shivered when I goosed her lightly with my fingertips. When I reached for the dipper to rinse her back Astral came up with a candle and put it in a sconce on the wall then she stepped back and watched.