All Girl Worlds Tales with no males

January 13, 2010

The Fairy Gambit

Filed under: — Mlle l'Editrice @ 12:21 am

¡Las hadas!” cried Michener. “The fairies! I remember! I remember now!”

“It is all right, sir. Be calm.” The nurse spoke to him in Spanish. Michener was a clever man. A rich man. He had arrived in Bolivia from—where? He seemed to have no past. He had money, great energy, talent. He had bought the business and built it up from nothing. And yet—and yet he has these moments.

“Tell me about it,” said the nurse gently. She was paid a good deal to handle these occasional crises. She had the ‘touch’ with Michener at these times.

He showed her the newspaper.

“You saw this?” he asked.

“Yes. The American space mission is in trouble. They have bad luck, it seems, sir, these missions.”

“It isn’t luck,” said Michener. “They plan it that way.”

“The Americans?” asked the nurse, wondering if this was some conspiracy theory.

“No, not the Americans. The others.”

“Which others, sir?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know who they are. Off-worlders. They’d kill that crew, but the fairies won’t let them.”

“Fairies, sir? You mean little people?”

“No. They aren’t little. They’re taller than us. But you look in the old books. A lot of accounts say they were tall. But yes—fairies. Wings, magic wands with a glittering star on the end. Fairies. It sounds crazy; but that’s what they are. And they won’t let that crew die. I know they won’t.”

“A lot of the other crews died, sir?”

“No, they didn’t. Everyone thinks they died but they didn’t die. They are alive. Somewhere.”

“How do you know all this, sir?”

“I remember. I almost remember. If I think harder— ahh! Nurse! My head!”

“It is all right, sir. Stop trying to think. Drink this. All down, there’s a good boy. You’ll feel just fine when you wake up.”

She helped him over to the couch, and, mumbling a little about fairies, he went to sleep.

“Is he all right?” asked Don Pedro anxiously as she emerged from the room.

“He is fine, sir,” the nurse told the Company secretary. “Just another of his attacks. I gave him a sedative. He is — like the Anglos say — off with the fairies now.” She giggled a little to herself.

“They worry me, these attacks.”

“Nothing to worry about, sir. He has always had them. They don’t happen often. They don’t get worse. Once they pass he is fine. No cause for concern, sir.”

The cruiser Battle Maiden entered the Sol solar system.

“You have been fully briefed on this operation, I take it,” said Captain Elestril.

“Yes, ma’am,” replied Lieutenant Camar. She was a young officer who looked extremely dashing in the uniform of the Royal Space Command. The blondes no doubt noticed her wherever she went, and she no doubt knew it.

“Well, let’s just make sure we are all thinking along the same lines. Give me your briefing.”

“Aye aye, ma’am. This system has one inhabited planet, called Padrian III, but known by its own inhabitants as La Terre, Earth and a number of other names, depending on what part of it they come from. The inhabitants are schizomorphs and it seems that they— — ”

“Slow down, lieutenant. Let us make sure of each point. What do we understand by the term ‘schizomorph’?”

“Schizomorphs, ma’am, are humanoid creatures, not unlike ourselves in some respects. The main and crucial difference is that while we both have two sexes, their sexes are actually opposite. One being based on the Martial and the other on the Venusian principle, the principles of Discord and Concord respectively. They have two planets in their system that represent those principles. As does every inhabited system, of course.”

“Of course.”

“The two sexes are called femins and mascûls. The femins look rather like humans, but the mascûls. are—well, sort of angular and hairy and their voices sound like dogs barking. None of which really matters, of course, ma’am. Except that they are known for being troublesome. They kill their own kind. Often in thousands or even millions. Wherever mascûls. have got out into the aethyr before, they have been a danger to every form of life, trying to conquer planets, stripping them of their resources, killing other life-forms, killing each other with terrible weapons that destroy whole planets.”

“Exactly, lieutenant. But these ones have stayed safely on their own planet up till now, harming nobody but themselves.”

“Yes, ma’am, but for several decades now, they have been making attempts to get ships off their planet. And, according to my briefing, we have been carefully sabotaging a number of their attempts.”

“Quite so. Of course they are quite unaware that there has been any outside interference, but our work has set back their space program enormously. They would probably have been properly in space about thirty years ago if we hadn’t taken a hand in the matter.”

“But can we keep them confined to their planet forever in this way, ma’am?”

“Nobody knows. To be honest the policy has worked better than many of us expected. We have delayed them for decades already. Who knows what may happen? They may destroy themselves before they ever get off. If they do get off, we shall have to decide what to do next, but for the present our sabotage-and-delay policy seems to be working well.

“But, to practicalities, lieutenant.”

“Their latest ships have cameras and sensors on the exterior to monitor for debris and other problems— they attributed some of the past failures to these.”

“Good, and so— —”

“A low-intensity beam-weapon would do the trick, ma’am. Their cameras couldn’t see it; their sensors wouldn’t know what to make of it. Pouf! No ship.”

“Yes, lieutenant, but you forget there are living entities aboard.”

“But schizomorphs, ma’am— — ”

“If, in the future, we need to kill them, we shall do so. But while there is any alternative; do you want to take sentient life, lieutenant?”

“Well, not really, ma’am. If you put it like that— — ”

“It is sentient life, lieutenant, however strange and repugnant it may seem to us.”

“So what do we do, captain?”

“A beam-weapon, on this occasion, as you suggest. One that will not destroy the ship, but will shut down all its systems.”

“Then they would suffocate and freeze.”

“Very quickly, yes. But not immediately. Once the systems are down, including all cameras, we breach the ship with a wasp-fighter and take the crew off. Then we let it drift into space. Total, inexplicable systems failure.”

“What do we do with the crew?”

“What we’ve always done. Put them back on Padrian III.”

“But doesn’t that defeat the object? I mean won’t they tell the other Padrians? And then they will know they are being sabotaged.”

“Well, of course, one has to be a little subtle about it. We have to make a few adjustments. But what else can one do with them? I mean, where else could one put masculs? On a human planet they would be completely out of place, and on a schizomorph planet they would probably be killed.”

“What do you mean by ‘subtle’, ma’am?”

“Most of this isn’t your department, lieutenant, but you must understand what we are doing. Once we have them aboard we shall sedate them and then our medics will make a few changes. Nothing drastic, you understand. The most serious is wiping their memory, of course. A bit unpleasant, but it can’t be helped. Then we need to change their biometrics. The Padrians use biometrics for all their documentation, so they could discover one of their missing space-schizzies. Bad show, you see? However their biometrics are pretty crude and we can alter the individual quite easily. No surgery, just a bit of beam-work.

“Then a little more beam-work on the face. Slight muscular re-alignment. Nothing drastic. But they no longer resemble any photographs and would not be recognizable to acquaintances.

“They shouldn’t meet any acquaintances though, as we drop them in a different part of PIII. We set them up with bank accounts containing a reasonable amount of money— easily arranged by manipulating the PIII data-systems. Useful to keep our hand in at those tricks anyway. We may need them if the present policy fails. Financial crises are a bit more humane than bombs, don’t you know?”

“So all we have to do, ma’am, is go in with the wasp, breach the ship and take the crew off. The beam-gunners here will knock out the systems and the medics take over when we get them back.”

“Yes, that is mostly it, lieutenant. There is one point, however, that I suspect was not included in your briefing.”

“Yes, ma’am?”

“You will have to wear these.” The captain opened one of a number of flat cardboard boxes and took out a short frock of powder blue, covered with sequins. It had a pair of matching wings and a wand with a star made of dazzle-plasma. The stuff they float about at children’s parties.

The lieutenant reddened. She stood up in her red tunic and blue skirt, and her high patent leather military dress-boots, and handled the extraordinary accessories.

“A bit — blonde, aren’t they, ma’am?”

“I fear so, lieutenant. However, the Padrians will not notice. To them you will look rather like their femins — only taller.”

“But — if I may ask, ma’am — why?”

“To them you will look like fairies.”

“Nature spirits you mean, ma’am?”

“Yes, that sort of thing.”

“But ma’am, I still don’t understand.”

“Well, they can’t see them. Nature spirits, I mean. Since the mascûls took over their planet, they have become progressively more gross—I mean in the technical rather than the figurative sense. Increasingly they have been unable to perceive anything above the level of physical materiality. So to them, fairies have become a kind of fable, and are now the subject of rather foolish stories for children. You see, because they cannot see them they believe them not to exist, even though their foremothers saw them.”

“But many things exist that we cannot see with eyes, surely they know that?”

“Theirs is the philosophy of the ostrich. If they cannot see a thing or prove its existence in the grossest physical terms they deem it not to exist. Amusingly enough they are wont to call this prejudice by the word ‘science’ — a term which means, in their languages, ‘vision’.”

“But if their honored foremothers saw them — — ”

That is another part of their philosophy. They believe themselves to be superior to all past generations of their own kind because of their material achievements.”

“But materiality is the lowest form of — –”

“My dear lieutenant, I am merely recounting to you the beliefs of barbarians. How they even manage to approach space travel in the midst of such ignorance, I cannot imagine. But clearly their folly is also their weakness. Hence these rather fetching costumes.”

“You mean that they not only believe nature spirits not to exist, but believe that if they did they would look like — that? ” the lieutenant gestured toward the costume on the desk.

“Precisely. Now you see the point? If any of the schizzies we replace on PIII should have a trace memory of what happened on the ship, it will seem so preposterous, both to itself and to anyone else, that it will never be taken seriously.”

“Control to Dionysus XIII, is everything all right up there?”

“Everything in order, Control.”

“All right. Commence —— ”

The voice stopped. The hum of the ship’s systems stopped with it. For the first time since they left earth, there was silence. Complete, deathly silence.

“The power’s down, skip. Everything’s down. We’re going to die!”

There was a hiss. The bulkhead dissolved, but they were still sealed by a sort of bubble, in which, with increasing clarity, they saw——

“It can’t be! We’re hallucinating!”

“Come with me,” said the tallest of the fairies. “Everything will be all right.”

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