Monday, December 31, 2012

September 7



Woohoo, I was finally allowed out of bed for a bit.  Nayun took me for a little walk this afternoon.  About fifty new Kalquorians showed up here at the Academy last night, and they started working today.  Nayun and others are finally able to work sane hours, and he had a little time to spend as I took my first post-sickness jaunt.

Dusa still hasn’t been back.  Maybe now that they have more help around here, he’ll visit soon.  Maybe not.  Fifty more men isn’t really that many for all the work the Kalquorians are trying to do in this area, but this isn’t one of the more heavily populated places.  Nayun says the biggest concentration of resources goes to the cities that were not blown up, places like Miami, Belfast, and Tokyo. 

I got to see the recreation room where people like my mom are kept for most of the day.  This ‘recreation room’ is actually a small banquet room off the Academy’s dining hall.  This is where the high muckety-mucks who ran the Academy would host government and Church officials who occasionally came to look over the operation. 

The Kalquorians have stocked it with readers, puzzles, games, and other things to keep everyone entertained.  They let invalids come in here in shifts; Nayun told me there are over 250 Earthers needing such supervised care right now.  That’s too many to put in the room at once, so people rotate spending time in this common room, outdoors, therapy (individual and group), and in their own quarters.  The people who make up this group -- the elderly, moderately traumatized, and special needs folks -- are being well tended by orderlies and psychiatric specialists. It's like daycare for invalids.

When I peeked in, Mom was sitting on a couch, happily knitting a scarf and chattering to herself.  I noted that the supervising Kalquorians were bringing around water and juice and snacks to everyone, as well as generally keeping an eye on their wards’ wellbeing.  I’ll be damned if I didn’t see one big, hulking alien braiding an elderly woman’s hair as she sat playing a card game with other patients.  This guy looked like he should be knocking down mountains with his bare fists, yet there he was, plaiting the woman's snow-white strands in the loveliest French braid you ever saw.  He finished it off with a blue bow, and the woman smiled up at him like he was her very best friend.  He patted her shoulder as gentle as you please and moved on to help a young man with Down’s Syndrome who was having trouble with his handheld.

Nayun pursed his lips as he looked at my mother.  “Have you thought about where you’ll go from here?”

I nibbled my lip, looking at Mom too.  I would have to make the decision for both her and myself, seeing as how she was so dependent.  “You said the dementia might be able to be cured on your planet?”

“Along with her bipolar disorder.”

“Really?”  Now there was a thought.  “You mean really cured?  For good?  Or maintained with medication, because she would never go for that.  She refuses to believe anything is wrong with her.”

“There is an implant that can regulate the chemicals in her brain so that she would not suffer those extreme shifts in mood.  It would go a long way towards giving her some peace.  Not so much anger or sadness.”

Until the dementia took such great hold, I’d never known my mother except angry or depressed.  Even pictures I’d seen of her as a toddler showed an enraged being, screaming her absolute fury at the world.  Why my grandparents hadn’t gotten her help back then is beyond me.  Sure, medical care was expensive, but didn’t being a parent mean doing everything to take the best possible care of your kids?  No matter Mom’s other shortcomings, she’d barely let me suffer a sniffle without trucking me straight to the doctor.  And when we got too far behind in what was owed for medical care for the doctor to see me anymore, she’d find another.  She was a lioness protecting her cub when it came to my physical wellbeing.  I give her all the credit in the world for that.

I couldn’t imagine the woman she might have been without the mental illness.  If she’d cared for herself half as well as she did me, our relationship wouldn’t have been so tumultuous.  Dad wouldn’t have walked out on us and tried to drink himself to death before his heart gave out.  Maybe.  Who knew?

“Can’t get that kind of treatment on one of the colonies,” I acknowledged.  “Our medicine isn’t that good.”

“Another consideration to help you make your decision.”

I took a deep breath.  Now that I had the opportunity to ask one of my most pressing questions, I was actually afraid to.  I wasn’t sure I’d like the answer.

“Doctor, if I decide I prefer to go to one of the colonies, would I really be allowed to?  I am of childbearing age, and it was my understanding your people would want to breed with women like me.”

Nayun looked down at me, his face infinitely patient as if he was used to hearing the same question over and over.  “Yes, Shalia.  The Imperial Clan, led by Empress Jessica, has guaranteed that Earther women will be given that choice for at least the next five years.  There was a huge battle with the Council over that very issue.”

“And after the five years?”  I was impressed that the Earther empress had that much clout on Nayun’s world.  I’d thought Jessica McInness had no function but to give birth to the heir to Kalquor’s throne.

“Then they’ll revisit the question.  What happens then will be determined by how well our respective populations are doing.”  He chuckled.  “I wouldn’t worry too much about it, little one.  Empress Jessica is most adamant that Earth women not be forced to join clans, and it is only the bravest of council members who dare to naysay her.”

I felt bad that I’d produced a film on the treachery of Jessica McInness and how her joining the Imperial Clan had endangered Earth, sending us to war with Kalquor.  A lot of what I’d put into that vid had been pure fabrication, designed to make her seem the worst sort of person who’d ever drawn breath.  Now that I knew she’d gone to bat to protect the rest of us, it made me feel very small.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve ever done the universe any good at all with my presence.

“But if I go to Kalquor, I’ll be expected to join a clan, won’t I?” I pressed.

Dr. Nayun nodded after a moment’s hesitation.  “You will be part of our new lottery system.  Prospective clans who find your profile agreeable will meet with you in hopes of attracting you to join them as their Matara.  There are many clans and few Earther women going to Kalquor, so you would be inundated with offers.”

“And if I don’t like any of them?”

“After two years, if you have not selected a clan you will be asked to leave our planet.”

I was pretty done in after fifteen minutes on my feet, and Dr. Nayun sent me back to bed.  I had a nap, then dinner.  Now Mom is in here with me, getting ready to get some sleep while I struggle with what to do with our futures.

Option A:  Go to a colony.  Be among my own kind again.  And what would I find there?  More of the Church’s adherents, still holding to the ways that destroyed Earth?  A lawless, survival-of-the-fittest society in the wake of Earth’s destruction?  One thing I knew wouldn’t be on our colonies would be adequate care for Mom.  No cure.  She’d descend ever deeper into dementia, absolutely dependent on me for everything.

Option B:  Go to Kalquor.  Fix Mom’s bipolar disorder and potentially, her dementia.  But that means fielding offers from clans for two years.  And no way I would want to be the sex partner to three horny men.  I didn’t like it when I had to screw the one.  That made me feel dirty enough.  If I never have sex ever again, it will be too soon.  So I’d be exiled and forced to go to a colony in the end.  And how would I be received by my fellow refugees after living with the enemy for two years?  Not very well, I’m sure.  I keep thinking of those two women hanging from the tree with the word ‘Whore’ nailed into their chests.

Option C:  Go somewhere else.  Yeah right.  A Dantovonian brothel?  I think we’ve covered how I feel about intimate relations.  Bi’is?  Sure, they are always happy to have servants come to their space.  But they have a habit of killing those who don’t do every single thing according to strict ritual.  I know me.  I’ll fuck up sooner or later, and no more Shalia.  Joshada?  Sorry, but I’m not living like an ancient pioneer with manual hand tools and no technology.  Out of all the civilized planets of the Galactic Council, I can’t think of a single place out there that will suit me and Mom.

Damn it.  What am I going to do?

12 comments:

  1. Whoa there lady!! So this answered one of my questions and raised another. I hadn't even thought about what would happen to the women who didn't clan, even years later. I would have never ever thought they would be asked to leave the planet after two years! I just assumed they could find permanent refuge on Kalquor. Nice twist!! Now I'm wondering how these women will be received at the Earth colonies later on down the road. No motivation to get yourself clanned like getting sent to an Earth colony! Is it safe to assume this is going to be an issue raised in Alien Refuge?

    Shailia's story is getting so good!! The possible cure for her mom had me tearing up a little. Then there is the questions what happened to get those two women hung and was Shailia married? She is in for a big surprise (or two) when it comes to loving Kalquor style! I'm so glad you're posting twice a week now!

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  2. No, the issue of women being sent away from Kalquor after two years of not clanning won't be raised in Alien Refuge. The subject may very well come up in a future book, but not that one.

    Since those women were hung with the signs 'Whore' nailed to their chests, they were apparently thought to have engaged in carnal relations and someone (or a group of someones) passed sentence on them. No, Shalia was never married. If you go back in the story, you'll be reminded she was blackmailed into having sex with a man named Mike (the same one who told her about the bombs under the cities). Men like him are the reason Shalia has no interest in sex.

    I'm glad you're enjoying it! See you here again Thursday.

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  3. Ok, I'm going to have to go way back. I'm obviously missing a super huge chunk of the story. I came in late and I started reading these backwards. I thought I had read them all but obviously there are quite a few entries I missed.

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  4. I've never read a serial before and I'm not sure I like it. I like to sit down and devour a good book in one sitting and stringing it out is torture. I'm glad we're going to start getting posts twice a week.

    Sounds like poor Dusa is in for a hard time if he's going to be the Dramok for her. He seems to be a sweetheart and I bet she's going to make him work for it.

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    1. You don't like the eternal tease? Hee hee. Since it's a serial with no known end in sight, you wouldn't be able to devour it at once anyway. Deep breaths...calm thoughts...it will be okay. ;)

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  5. I'm all caught up now. I had some how missed the first four entries. I'm digging the serial, but I like continuation stories and space operas. Those drive some people nuts. Either way it keeps us all occupied/hooked between books. :)

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  6. This is certainly an interesting twist. Choose a clan in 2 years or get out. I would have thought it will make it more difficult to attract mataras for kalquor since women would be under threat of being kicked out and left in hostile colonies if they are unable to choose clans. Why would they take the risk of going to Kalqour in the first place. It does not somehow gel with extreme protectivness that is characteristic of Kalqour civilization.

    Anu

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    1. I disagree. Kalquor is providing room and board free of charge in hopes these women will join clans. The women have thousands of clans to choose from. If they cannot choose within two years, then the Empire assumes they have no real intention of clanning and are simply living on Kalquor's dime. The threat of having to leave and live on a potentially hostile colony is seen as an impetus for the women to select a clan, at least at this stage.

      Note that I wrote above 'at this stage'. Keep in mind that Armageddon occurred just over two months ago when this story starts. Earth is in a state of emergency, in which temporary fixes are the rule, not the exception. Everyone, Kalquor included, is still scrambling to figure out what to do with all these survivors. Kalquor is especially trying to figure out how to attract the women they need to the Empire. You can just imagine the arguments on the Council floor at this time. Measures are constantly evolving right now. There was no contingency plan for Armageddon since no one ever expected such a thing to happen. Obviously, the situation is still in flux and will take a long time to be finally settled.

      In the future, Kalquor will be involved with the Galactic Council in helping finance and police some newly established colonies Earthers can live on when they don't elect to go to Kalquor or already established Earther colonies. You'll see one of these colonies in Alien Refuge. The Empire still accepts much of the responsibility for Armageddon. They are not leaving their former enemies, especially the women, out to dry simply because they won't come get frisky with the clans.

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  7. Plus the Council will re-bring up the issue of clanning unwilling Earth women in five years. They are getting a choice card now because of Jessica, but they might not later. It would make sense that the Kalquor men would play any hands they can at this point to get fertile women clanned. By Alien Redemption how many years have past since Armageddon?

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    1. By Redemption, we're at about the 2-year mark after Armageddon.

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  8. True, but it does make me wonder how does forced clanning make for a happy clan in longer term. I would think it would fester residual resentment among women who were clanned forcibly. I mean there may very well be an argument that what is difference between earther men and Kalquor men if they think forcibly clanning women is an acceptable solution. After all in essence it is about forcing life changing decision on woman without giving them a freedom of choice (Armageddon is already a hugely traumatic life changing event). Admittedly, Kalquor is a lot more civilized about it but I would think resolution of this issue will really make this series even better, but then that is me personally. I have loved all the books thus far, however this conflict in the first few books did make me a little uncomfortable and I have read some hardcore BDSM. I have high hopes from Alien Refuge though. I am currently enjoying Alien Redemption and I must have read it a dozen times. As a huge fan of this series I thought I will share my two cents.

    Anu

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    1. Good arguments. However, you're thinking about an alien society in human terms, which does not work, sociologically speaking. You especially can't expect the best from aliens who are: A. on the brink of extinction, and B. have become almost ridiculously paternalistic when it comes to women.

      If you remember the earliest books, Alien Embrace particularly, the clans are almost clueless about how to deal with Earther women, especially by our real-life current standards. Remember how Rajhir's clan was completely mystified that Amelia should ask them to pleasure her rather than them just jumping in and giving it to her? That they thought to wait for her go-ahead would be an insult to her?

      Not only that, but a lot of the Earther women of that time are used to being used and abused because of their government. Their mindset is not what we in 2013 have. I studied the psychology carefully when I wrote these books. Women who had never known anything but being second-class citizens in their home life and society, like Amelia and Cassidy, would have a totally different take on the situation than you and I.

      As the series goes on, you are noticing Kalquor's attitude slowly changing. The clans are still paternalistic to a great degree, but they are also learning that there are stronger-willed women like Empress Jessica that can't be ordered what to do ... and they like these strong women. Earther females are also figuring out they have a little more power and starting to welcome and use it. But in Shalia's case, we are still in the earlier days of Kalquor-Earther interaction, around the Cassidy Hamilton/Alien Conquest period. The evolution of thinking is still taking its baby steps now, and coerced clanning is a sign of that.

      You do make good points; I am not quibbling on that. In fact, I thank you for sharing; it helps me be a better writer. But remember to not look at Kalquor through the lens of who we are as women right now. See it from the perspective of women used to being repressed in a dystopian Earth society. Also see it from the eyes of a race of alien beings who, as they are just now getting to know those women, cannot possibly share all our ways of thinking nor understand they aren't supposed to take care of a woman whether she wants them to or not.

      Is it sometimes ugly? Of course. It's supposed to be. I don't write pretty or comfortable books. It's erotica, but that doesn't mean it's fluff. The Clans of Kalquor is ultimately a look at what happens when two races from markedly different backgrounds come together...and how they make it work out despite all the misunderstandings in order to survive.

      Thanks!

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