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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. "Biology?"

"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 flat chest.

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 line girls.

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 any more.

"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 too."

"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 just work.


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 Sparta.

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 the open?

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 myself.

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 things.

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 read.

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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