Queen Udi had told Ajinblambia that she expected to be so busy in the months and years to come that, although she would have liked to supervise me intensively and punctiliously, there simply would not be enough time. So she wanted to commit me to the oversight of her two personal maids-in-waiting, whose names were Stlembi and Pixidixia, but she was afraid that I did not have the requisite docility to tender unquestioning obedience to these two young girls and that I lacked sufficient timidity to be frightened by them into submission when the occasion called for it.
Ajinblambia told Udi that that was no problem and arranged for me to have hundreds of tiny metallic neurosensors, each the size of a grain of rice or a BB, implanted in my body by the Department of Neurosciences of the University of Mecnita. These neurosensors would respond to any of a few specially-manufactured slightly-elliptical cookie-sized remote-control devices that someone could hold in the palm of her right hand, where it would be secured by small elasticized cords looped around her wrist, her index finger and her little finger, so that she would not drop it accidentally. Learning to command, record and program with such a remote-control device, Stlembi and Pixidixia would be able to exercise perfect control of all my movements and actions.
For example, the very first day that Stlembi was given her remote-control device, she created a program that I would automatically follow when she came to my office each afternoon to pick up the panties I was making for Queen Udi. When she knocked on my door and pressed the device in the right place with her ring finger, I would open the door, let her in, close the door and stand perfectly still in a prescribed place till she was standing opposite me. Then I would be made to curtsy deeply, till I was sitting on my heels, where I would remain for two whole minutes. Thereafter, I would bow three times with my arms stretched forward, almost as if I had been ready to prostrate myself at her feet, and then I would raise the panties in my cupped hands as if I had been making an offering to a goddess. Next I would sit on my heels again, as she took the panties nonchalantly and departed. Once she had closed the door of my office, I would be released from the spell of the remote-control device, but I would not be able to open the door for 10 minutes, so that there would be no chance that I would follow Stlembi in hopes of creating a scene.
All of the movements that I executed in performing this ritual were controlled by a program that Stlembi had composed and saved in her remote-control device. There was no way that I could do anything but adhere to the program. The program was called Curtsification. Curtsification was a new word in Nuu, the language of Ung. If I curtsied voluntarily, I was said just to curtsy. If I curtsied because I was compelled by Stlembi with her remote-control device to do so, I was said to be curtsified or just to curtsify, as in, "Sissy curtsifies so beautifully when I use my oval!" Curtsifies, used in this way, is said to be in the causative passive absolute voice. We say absolute because our passive voice may take as a "direct object" the noun denoting the person or thing by which the action was undertaken. If this "direct object" is suppressed, the verb is absolute. The girls called their remote-control devices ovals because of their shape. They sometimes even used oval as a verb, as in, "If you want Sissy to produce more, just oval her." By this, they meant I should be manipulated with one of the remote-control devices.
Within a few days, Stlembi and Pixidixia, like children with a new toy, had created a number of programs for me to enact. I would be made to do alternating high kicks, like a chorus girl, or raise my hands above my head as if surrendering, or whirl in a long series of fouettes or pirouettes. They thought this was great fun. This was embarrassing to me, but I managed to accept it with apparent equanimity, without blushing overly much. Did I have a choice?
But after a couple of weeks, Stlembi and Pixidixia began to take their ovals more seriously, and found ways to keep me busy all day with genuine projects. I had always maintained that the cardinal virtues are timidity, chastity, modesty and docility, but now that the time had come for me to practice absolute docility, I was a little taken aback. This was novel. This was unexpected. This turned our relations topsy-turvy. Stlembi and Pixidixia became ever more peremptory and authoritarian. I was shocked. I was stunned. I was scandalized. But I slowly realized that all I could do in response to the inflexibility of their new attitude was resign myself to uncompromising obedience. There was no other course. Little by little, I got used to the new scheme of things, saying to myself, "I have to obey. So I'll just obey. So what? What's the difference? Someone has to obey. It may as well be I. I would feel guilty making somebody else obey me, so it's better for me to obey somebody else anyway." I had become a philosopher.
Soon after that, Stlembi came and sat at my sewing machine with me as I made a pair of panties for Queen Udi. She recorded the whole procedure on her oval. Of course, if she had played it back immediately, I would have made another pair in exactly the same way, but without personal volition or effort. I would have merely watched myself make the pair of panties, as it were. But what Stembi did was edit the program. Any space of time when I had manifested inattention or absent-mindedness was deleted. Any erroneous action was deleted. Any inefficiency or superfluity was deleted. Then the program was played back, and I found myself making the panties much faster and more accurately than before. Stlembi could also increase the speed of the playback. She kept perfecting the program until I had cut my time to one-fifth of what it had been. I could now make 10 pairs of panties in 1.5 Ungi hours (3 hours, 45 minutes in earth time). I could now make 20 pairs in 3 Ungi hours (seven and a half earth hours).
When Queen Udi heard about this, she changed the provisions of my warrant as Panty Maker to the Queen, requiring that I make 20 pairs of panties a day unless given specific permission to make fewer. This had all begun a year earlier when I sought to be excused from the chore of making one pair of panties a day. Now I'd have to make 20 pairs a day! The irony was like a horseshoe in my mouth.
As I mentioned, I was the commissioner of the Girls' Volleyball Association of Greater Mecnita, the owner of Cissi's Intimates and the directress of
In the article, I first learned that fully 1000 neurosensors had been implanted in my body by the Department of Neurosciences of the
On returning to
Queen Udi did not relax the requirement that I make 20 pairs of panties a day. In year '398, I made 6000 pairs. But for three years after that I would be required to make 8000 pairs each year, she said. These were fancy, sumptuous, stylish, expensive panties that cost three-quarters of a florin apiece to make but sold for 2 florins apiece ($200). So Udi would realize a profit of one talent ($1,000,000) a year from this business, and that probably explains her adamancy in imposing the tremendous quota. I was a glorified silkworm, selflessly producing intimate apparel.
Later in year '398, a sudden reversal was made in all these arrangements. It was decided to consolidate the Girls' Volleyball Association of Greater Mecnita,
Year '398 was also signalized by the multiplication of Gvagma's intimate apparel stores to over 2000. My Rulers were really showing that they deserved their new station. The numbers of people who came to the Gvagma Wheel, the Gvagma Robot Theater, the Art Colony and the Institutes of Lacemaking and Haute Couture soared under the rule of Stlembi and Pixidixia. Obviously they were making it all work better.
As I mentioned, gynecological intervention had enabled many women of Mecnita to bear children parthenogenetically. This explains Mecnita's waning male population. The male sex had outlived its usefulness. Sure, there were a few chauffeurs, porters and landscapers around town. Now and then, a man even rose to distinction, as in the case of Dzemlavang, the former director of the Bank of Ung, and Yarlomenx, the former Minister of Finance. True, Usha had replaced them, and was performing all by herself the duties both had performed together before, but this was no detraction of the fact that they were arguably very capable persons. Usha was just more capable.
During the operation that had been performed on me at
Human gestation lasts a year on Nya, our planet here in the galaxy called Ti. This is related to the fact that our average life-expectancy is 150 earth-years. I wondered whether it would be advisable for me to be subject to being manipulated robotically during my pregnancy. I felt that Stlembi and Pixidixia's unrelenting governance might be detrimental to a wholesome pregnancy. So I took it up with Ajinblambia. She found it very amusing that I was pregnant, recalling her own role in making me liable to this condition. But she agreed that, perhaps for that year of mine, I should be relieved of the burden that my Rulers had been imposing upon me. This could be accomplished in any of three ways: Ajinblambia could merely instruct my Rulers not to use their ovals during that time. Or she could recall the ovals, keeping them in her own possession. Or she could deactivate the neurosensors. I learned that they could be "shut off" temporarily, or even permanently for that matter. But at least she could and would liberate me for a year. Well, that was a blessing!
I continued with my sewing. Stlembi said that she would let me make the Queen's panties at my ease, but that if I failed to turn over the full 20 pairs daily, she'd see to renewing my subjection to the oval. Under the circumstances, I did keep up, producing all that I was required to do. There was also a slight reduction in the amount of pressure the two beautiful girls exerted on me as regards the administration of Gvagma. They took more in hand themselves, dealing directly with some of the ladies who had been answering to me.
I had the liberty of spending some mornings at home in Bo House. I would relax on my sofa, or perhaps write some letters, or have a plate of Potatoes Mecnita, my favorite breakfast. These were idyllic times, halcyon days. By around the end of the year, Nunu would be born, and then my days would be more hectic.
Oji, who was Udi's and my daughter, was now 8 years old, and she lived in
Zevanardia's working day was more trying than ever, because she was performing some of the duties that I had been performing. So ordinarily she was not at Bo House on my free mornings, which was regrettable, but the peace and quiet were welcome.
I would also be excused from the Epgarcs during year '399. These of course were the girls' sumo wrestling contests, which were held every year. It was supposed that being thrown down on a mat could bring about a miscarriage. Being excused was indeed welcome, since I always made such a poor showing, as I vied with girls 7 to 10 years old, usually unsuccessfully.
Ajinblambia suspended my permission to ride a horse without Ivandra as my equestrian babysitter, and this meant being lifted into the drum-like device that served as a security saddle for myself. My permission to ride in the drum-saddle was also suspended eventually, as my pregnancy ripened.
As I thought about the recent course of events, I was a little saddened by the disappearance of Cissi's Intimates and
What had Stlembi and Pixidixia done to deserve to take charge of me and bend me to their will? Did the fact that Ajinblambia had given them those ineluctable remote-control devices constitute a morally defensible entitlement? I wondered about these things quite a lot on the mornings that I had in Bo House during my pregnancy. For the time being, of course, I had been delivered from the power of the beautiful young despots. Nor would I have been able to continue the full schedule of duties during this time anyway. The question was what would happen after Nunu was born. Would I go back to the same inexorable governance? Could I ever revert to the status quo ante, to things as they had been before the implantation of the neurosensors? Was some sort of compromise possible? These were things I should take up, first, with Zevanardia, to get her thinking, and then with Ajinblambia.
Ajinblambia had ordered two implantations of neurosensors in my body. These had been deliberate steps that she must have pondered judiciously. I couldn't suppose she'd taken them inadvertently or frivolously. So it might seem insubordinate or disrespectful of me to ask her to countermand her own orders merely because they didn't suit my fancy. I would have to get around her in a subtle way somehow.
At that time I was still working on the third and final volume of Ajinblambia's biography, Whither Vrikshaya and Ung? This meant that my frequent, if no longer daily, visits to her chambers had not ceased. I could hardly accomplish anything by going on "strike" and refusing, unless she humored me in my demands, to write any more. Striking would get me nowhere. It might even bring punishment. So what leverage did I have over our lady king? I might as well forget the idea that I could make her do my bidding against her own will. My only tack would be to elicit her sympathy. Of course, she had made the implantations to enable Queen Udi to govern me through her two proxies. I'd have to win Queen Udi's sympathy first, and then Ajinblambia's. At least this was the drift of my thinking at that time.
The months whiled slowly away. I kept thinking about how things had changed with Gvagma,
I paid a visit to Usha, the directress of the Bank of Ung and chairlady of the Mecnita Stock Exchange. The Bank of Ung has an investment banking department. The department head was named Ogoldia. I showed Usha the documents that I had gathered, inquiring whether she could tell me if I could get my three entities listed on the Mecnita Stock Exchange and make an initial public offering of shares of stock. She read the papers and assured me that I was entitled to proceed at my own liberty. I needed no one's authorization. I told her I wanted to do this very quickly and without any advance notices being noised about in Obscont, or elsewhere. She said she would delegate the matter to Ogoldia, who could float the new issues within 5 or 6 days, with all preparations being kept confidential.
When the offerings were finally announced, shares of stock sold like hotcakes. We raised several hundred talents in two or three days. Obscont's financial pages were full of news on the latest developments. We were listed on the Mecnita Stock Exhange, and opening and closing stock prices were published in Obscont's financial section, in the tables on the stock market pages. Our ticker symbols were GV for Gvagma, GVV for
However, a few days after the initial public offerings, Stlembi and Pixidixia showed up at Bo House when I was there alone. I could see at once that they had their ovals in their hands. But I merely smiled indifferently, as I knew that Ajimblambia had deactivated the neurosensors inside my body. So you can imagine my chagrin when they commanded me to come with them and I felt myself being drawn irresistibly along behind them. What had happened? How was this possible? Had Ajinblambia reactivated the neurosensors? Stlembi and Pixidixia led me the mile and a half from Bo House to the metro station in
"What are these offerings all about? I thought it was agreed that Cissi's Intimates and
"I thought that the time was ripe for an offering. The documents relating to the three concerns had not been changed. I still enjoyed the controlling interest in all three. The neurosensors were off. I was acting strictly in accordance with what was legally permissible at that time. Anyway, the offerings were a smashing success. That in itself should justify them."
"A smashing success? How much money did you raise?"
"About 1000 talents."
"That is a good deal of money, no doubt. But you have to be punished for contumacy in reviving entities that I had ordered closed. I am the King of Ung, after all." I smiled in spite of myself when Ajinblambia said this, seeing what a gorgeous lady she was. My smile seemed to annoy her just a little.
She approached me with a very stern expression on her face. Extending her arms towards me, she picked me up like a feather, with her hands about my waist. She twirled me 180 degrees, so that I had my back towards her, and then she sat down, laying me across her thighs. Raising my skirt, she spanked me in front of Stlembi and Pixidixia. It was extremely embarrassing to have these young girls tittering and simpering as I was paddled. But I could tell at once that this was a game, for Ajinblambia spanked very, very gently, and finally took to patting me posteriorly, with a playful pinch or two on my buttocks. She had Stlembi and Pixidixia spank me too, but their blows were like the flapping of doves' wings they were so light. They giggled merrily as their palms slapped my derriere.
"You have been very naughty, Sissy. But now that you have paid the penalty, I forgive you. And congratulations on your initial public offerings. That was genius."
And so it was that
Thanks to the initial public offering, Gvagma Village now enjoyed a market capitalization of over 500 talents (about $500 million), and with such sums available, I wanted to erect a new structure. I talked to Idificia, one of Mecnita's most prestigious structural engineers, and Rachetina, the same lady who had designed the robots for the Gvagma Robot Theater. They would advise me in the matter, and if it were deemed feasible, they would create the design and supervise the erection.
As I mentioned, atop the eight 1000-story towers of
What I wanted to do was build on the western corner of Gvagma Village a huge helix or spiral, like the spiral of a spiral notebook, which would consist of a pair of monorails for suspended trains of cars that would circle round and round as they ascended and descended the 12,000 feet to the level of the guideway.
Rachetina suggested that, if we used a slope of around 10.5 degrees from the horizontal, which has a a cosecant of around 6.1 and a cotangent of around 6, the developed length of our paired monorails would be about 73,000 feet or 13.8 miles while the projected horizontal length would be about 72,000 feet, so that a train moving at 27.6 miles per hour would require half an hour to rise to the top or return to the bottom. This seemed like a perfect length of time for a sight-seeing excursion and pleasure ride. The whole tour, up the spiral, around the guideway, and back down the spiral, would take two hours. If we opted for 24 loops in the spiral, the spiral would have a circumference of 3,000 feet, which corresponded to a diameter of 955 feet.
The major difficulty lay in the fact that the distance from the northwestern edge of
As for the spiral itself, Idificia said that a central core 500 feet in diameter would provide adequate stability, given a sufficient number of high-strength columns making up the core. Another possibility was to guy the spiral with large cables from
If twelve-car trains, each carrying 480 passengers, ascended the spiral at 30-minute intervals for 12 hours a day, and we allocated to the spiral 15 or 16 dirhams out of the fare of 25 dirhams ($25) for the whole tour, thus grossing about 180 florins a day, or about 75 talents a year in our 418-day year, it would take ten years, plus or minus a couple of years, to recover the cost of construction, if my guess of 500 to 1000 talents was correct. But didn't we allow similar periods for the amortization of the Gvagma Wheel and the Gvagma Robot Theater?
I didn't dare undertake such a project on my own initiative. It was too vast, too expensive, too fraught with difficulties that might prove insurmountable. I would absolutely seek Ajinblambia's prior approval for something like this. Moreover, I wanted her to let me build the spiral closer to the guideway than would have been possible if it were to rise inside
Happily, Ajinblambia absolutely loved the idea of the Gvagma Spiral, especially after she heard the exposition made by the two lady engineers. She enthusiastically instructed me to go ahead, assuring me that the project would be failsafe. She would insure the completion of the spiral herself. I squealed with delight, and I could tell that Idificia and Rachetina were also overjoyed. Wait until the Geese heard about this! That would give them something to honk about! The next time I saw Stlembi and Pixidixia, I smiled triumphantly, but the two young darlings were not of a disposition to entertain grudges, rivalries and jealousies, and didn't even understand that I was gloating. So I felt a little guilty, and hugged them both affectionately.