In a world where the sexes are at war, Yani
Kanedies is a secret agent struggling to
complete her mission by stealing the seed.
First published on Eidolon.
Stealing the Seed
by Jane Routley & Rebecca Locksley
Stealing the Seed
By Jane Routley and Rebecca Locksley
Dr Phillippus Alexander prowled around his office, touching the spines of
the books, picking up papers and putting them down. "I thought you dealt
with the theories very well, Yani. Of course the question of why people
have this symbiotic relationship with them is quite insoluble. Its
unlikely that any new evidence will be recovered given that the home-ships
were both destroyed in the struggle between Diomedies and Petra. Most of
my students would have opted for one theory or the other the horrible joke
by evil holes on the home world or the cruel mistake of nature. You are
the only one who was brave enough to be inconclusive. I liked that. You've
obviously done a lot of research." "It interested me," I said, figuring it
was a neutral enough admission. Why had he called me here to discuss my
essay if he liked it so much?
"Yes, it interests me too, because on the whole nature doesn't make
mistakes, and to assume it was purposefully done would be to credit the
holes with an intelligence that they patently do not have." What was on
the man's mind? His body language was all anxiety.
Surely... Surely he didn't know?
"Its a fascinating sidelight of history, although of course completely
unimportant now that people have regained control of their reproduction.
There's not much scope for future study in this field." "Well, I'm an
engineering student, Dr Alexander. I'm only taking History of Society for
interests sake," I said. Had that been a mistake after all? Had I
betrayed myself in my choice of subject. "Yes, yes. A great loss to the
history department it is too, Yani," he said, squirming in his chair.
"Well I've no qualms about giving you a high distinction, but I thought
you might be interested in seeing this, before you completely forgot about
the subject." He handed me a photocopied article in a celluloid folder.
"'Archimedes Xanthus. Symbiosis as an indicator of species.'" I read.
"Yes. The article is not very well known among historians, but its very
relevant to our subject. Xanthus argues that men and holes may not be
separate species at all, but two members of the same species." "Good
Grief. But they're so different!"
"Yes." He smiled, obviously pleased at my amazement. "Its a preposterous
idea, but he makes an interesting discussion of it. If you have time
maybe you'd like to read it and then... well perhaps you'd like to come to
dinner and discuss it with me? Say, Sunday night? Six o'clock?"
I looked into his eyes and the whole thing suddenly became clear. Poor old
Alexander! He was keen on me and trying to make a subtle advance.
I was so relieved, I had to purse my lips so as not to smile.
"If it doesn't suit we could make it another time." "No. No. That would be
fine." I got up to go before things could become even more complicated.
"Six o'clock on Sunday then, Dr Alexander."
"Call me Philip. There's no need to be so formal this late in the year."
I couldn't help grinning as I closed the door behind me. Good Grace! It
was so ironic. What was the attraction for these guys? He was the sixth
this year. If I'd really been what I was masquerading as, I would have
thought myself one hell of a fellow. Instead it was just annoying. In
fact on my last mission in Athens, when I had had to kill someone to keep
my cover, it had wound up being damned dangerous.
I'd talked to my contact about it after Athens and she suggested that maybe
I was giving out some kind of chemical message attractive to men. She
suggested I cut down on the hormones I was taking. The thing was I was
one of the few agents who didn't need to take any. My body had always
been boyish, my voice had always been contralto. I'd only needed a small
amount of surgery to change my always disappointing bosom into a man's
I was glad not to have had to take any hormones. They messed up your
system and the Mothers had promised me that if this next mission was
successful, I could have a baby.
And the mission would be successful. It had to be if the Republic of
Sappho was going to grow.
I pressed the button for the lift, then, too impatient to wait, ran down
the four floors of stairs and out into the Quad. New Sparta Academy had a
beautiful Quad especially in the spring. It was one of the oldest and
handsomest Academy on Arcadia, built 300 years ago as a religious seminary
soon after the final civil war and planted with the soft green trees of
Old Earth. It was good to walk here among the safe ordered paths of male
academia. We had nothing like this in the Republic. There we lived and
worked in bunkers and when we went out into the jungle we had to be
constantly vigilant to avoid any one of a number of vicious native plants
or their spore.
I waved at some fellow engineering students as I went past. "Hey cute
buns!" yelled out Xeno Emedies. I gave him the finger. I was looking
forward to the last prac. of term. When he grabbed my arse, I was going
to smack him down so hard... And then I'd be off before the Board of
Corrections could have me up for hitting a tutor in class and there'd be
no risk to my cover.
I was keen to get on with the mission. It was the last term, I had
completed my copying and transmission of most of the important engineering
texts in the library and I had almost completed the course of study. Soon
it would be home to the Republic and with any luck, Motherhood.
The first and most dangerous part of the mission was to contact the New
Sparta Shanty Town. To my mind it was the most unnecessary too, but the
Mothers have their reasons which they don't always explain to us front
The Republic had agents in most of the Shanty Towns, helping make life a
bit easier for those who stayed there and ferrying the more adventurous
women back to the Republic. It was surprising how few wanted to go. Lucky
too. A mass exodus would have made the authorities smell a rat.
Nobody had ever come to the Republic from New Sparta. The last two agents
in the Shanty Town had disappeared and the Mothers had decided not to risk
"Its their leader," my contact had said. "That Mumma Dee is a queen bitch.
Gouges her women like she was a man. She was running drugs before we ever
did and she was selling to her own people as well as the men. Reckon she
didn't want anyone interfering with her little empire so she disappeared
our girls. Still takes our porno though and our snow. At the very least
try and find out her porno contact. At best try and recruit the Shanty
Town. Offer them total cut of the Snow trade. Even babies if you have
"Why bother?" I asked. "We don't need Mumma Dee. I'm sure I can find out
her contacts without her help and we can bring in the hardware." "Its
safer if we have them as a cover."
"Sounds like it'd be best of all if we could disappear Mumma Dee." My
contact grinned ruefully. "You know the Mothers don't go for that. We're
not in the business of forcing political change on these women. Play it
their way, Yani. There's a reward in it for you." That was when she
passed on the promise about the baby. Babies had been a real worry for
the Republic. Unlike the men, we didn't need arti-wombs to actually bear
them, but getting the seed to conceive them had proved difficult. The
early Mothers had sent out agents to break into government sperm banks.
This had clued the men to the fact that there were "feral holes" out there
in the jungle and a holocaust had come down on the Republic. Only a few
lucky women had survived the seven days of fire bombing to rebuild. Since
then we'd learned to be discreet. The only seed we got was from male
captives before we killed them. As a way of getting babies it had its
limitations. Too many castrated bodies in burning farm houses ( fires
aren't actually all that efficient for getting rid of evidence) - and the
men would start to get suspicious again.
That was why this weird new plan of the Mothers was such a beauty and might
To reach the New Sparta Shanty Town you had to go through a big area of
playing fields and a large area of forest that was once the town dump,
till you reached the current town dump. It was so far that I rode my
bicycle out there. I hid it in a patch of underbrush and walked carefully
through the forest. Carefully because the dump forest is quite a popular
trysting place. Its one of the few large stands of Old Earth trees in New
It was a good thing I was careful. I ran slap bang into Professor
Andropolis, the Academy's Vice-Chancellor, and had to turn round and
follow him till I saw him get into his car and drive off and could be sure
he'd gone. Its not illegal to speak to women, but its best not to let
anyone catch you doing it.
The Shanty Town abuts onto the dump. I suppose you've got to give
Arcadia's rulers some credit. Even after the creation of the artificial
womb, when men had regained control of their own reproduction as Dr
Alexander had put it, they blanched at the prospect of just putting down
all their useless women. I'm not sure why. They seem quite happy to let
disease and malnutrition do the job for them. So the "holes" were shunted
into the Shanty Towns, "where they could live out the final days of their
species harmlessly and separately" They weren't going to give the women a
free ride, however. Oh no, no! Let them be the garbage collectors and
the dump workers, fulfilling a useful function. Every night garbage
trucks with male drivers, (who lock themselves in the cabin away from the
pernicious influence of the women) and five or six women collectors each,
go into town and pick up the trash. This fact was going to be very useful
in the Mother's plan. Throughout the day teams of women comb the garbage
dump for recyclables like bottles and tins and for any other useful bits
and pieces which they are allowed to keep. It was one of these teams, I
was hoping to contact.
When I got to the edge of the dump, I saw I was in luck. There was a team
of three women close by. They wore their usual costumes, dirty black
purdahgarb which covered their whole bodies, so that they looked more like
animated piles of rags than women. The place where they were working was
excellent for making contact, secluded with trees growing right down to
the edge. I worked my way round through the underbrush until I was just
level with them. There was even a convenient break in the fence.
"Women!" I called out to them.
All three of them crouched down and froze.
"One of you. Come here. I want to talk with you!" Still they crouched
there, clearly terrified. Ah shit! Was I going to have to go out there in
Then one of the women got up and with eyes averted, picked up another one
by the scruff of the neck and shoved her towards me with a kick. I hate
the way shanty town women treat each other. At these moments I can't
blame the men for despising them. I find it hard not to despise them
I grabbed the woman's arm as she scrambled up the embankment and pulled her
up the last bit. I could feel her trembling and when I let her go, she
collapsed sobbing at my feet.
"Have mercy on me, Angel of Death!" she cried. Strange reaction. They've
had no education these shanty town women and they do believe some weird
I picked her up and offered her a handkerchief. "I'm not the Angel of
Death." I said speaking in the patois of the shanty towns so that she
could understand me better. "I'm someone who wants to help you. I'm one
of the Feral Women. One of you." The handkerchief lay unregarded in her
shivering black gloved hand. Her dark eyes, the only part of her visible
under her purdahgarb, were dazed and terrified. It took me at least ten
minutes to sooth her enough for her to stop looking dazed and start taking
in some of what I was saying. What really quieted her down was when I
dropped my pants and showed her that I too was a woman. After that... "I
want to speak with Mumma Dee," I said. "Can you arrange that for me?
Tomorrow? I want to come into the Shanty town and speak with her. She
will make a lot of money from this. Do you understand?" Finally after
five or six tries, I felt that she was telling the truth when she nodded.
If she wasn't, I would just have to try again tomorrow. In a pinch I
could send a note. There was an unlikely rumour that Mumma Dee could
I helped the woman scramble down the bank. Even though her purdahgarb rode
up, her legs were modestly covered with black trousers. It never ceased
to amaze me the enormous amounts of clothing these women had to wear even
in the hottest of weathers.
The woman stumbled out across the rubbish. Her two companions were already
scurrying back towards the shanty town. They stopped when she called.
She spoke a few words to them and one of them hit her so hard across the
face that she fell down. She got up again. I turned and went. There was
no need for me to witness whatever depressing bit of business was now
going to take place. Tomorrow would tell.
Copyright © by Jane Routley & Rebecca Locksley
All rights reserved unless specified otherwise above.
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