Ajinblambia reasoned that, as King of Ung and ruler of 8,000,000,000 people, she could allow herself a harem of 20,000 beautiful young ladies, without disturbing population trends. Her decision to enroll such a sizable harem did not stem from libido or licentiousness. Ajinblambia's purpose was not the gratification of erotic desires. Nor was this accounted impermissible by our canon. The selection of a girl to join the royal harem was considered an honor to the region from which she came, and thus tended to cement relations between Mecnita, the capital and see of the world, and the outlying provinces, states, republics, principalities and cantons of the realm.
Ajinblambia had accorded me the distinction of naming me an odalisque too, but this did not at all mean that I would be relegated to years of dalliance within the royal harem. This was strictly an honorary gesture. In fact, Ajinblambia had had to remind me to pay a token visit to the harem, which occupied floors 16 through 20 of the northern oval of
Have I given a brief description of
Following Ajinblambia's instruction, I reported to the harem one day towards the end of year '400. The bold and brazen girls of the harem made a plaything of me all day, with requests to be suckled, and with wrestling and spanking me, as I have recounted, not realizing that Ajinblambia had named me Queen Sissy, thus elevating me above the Mistress of the Harem, a beautiful lady named Vronecca. Ajinblambia had gotten angry about this wanton episode, but I was able to pacify her, and all went smoothly thereafter. After all, it had been only merry sport, hardly genuine effrontery.
With the beginning of year '401, a rumor was rampant in Mecnita. According to the rumor, a stellar invader named Clicco had appeared on planets among the local stars and was conquering them one by one, bending them to his will. He had his eyes on Dyo, which is our Sun, and Dyo's planets, especially Nya, with its magnificent
The stars within 5 tellurian light-years of Dyo include Alpha Zhrinx, Gamma Pojolfs, Epsilon Dwadf, Alpha Cnashca and Beta Tletman. Alpha Zhrinx, also called Orobux, is our north star. I was convinced that no invaders were patroling in this immense region, but, being more of an authority on lingerie than on astronomy, I decided to consult Ajinblambia, who was an authority on almost everything. Perhaps she could allay my alarm. I surely would have hated to see axe-bearing barbarians bursting into the 2200 stores that make up Cissi's Intimates, trying on gowns and panties amid uncouth guffaws and whoops, tearing delicate fabrics and ripping off pieces of hand-made lace. It has been several thousand years since Nya was the scene of such revolting spectacles.
Ajinblambia, who had built the aerospace facility in suburban Dorgdid and engineered Photon I, the first of Ung's spaceships, was probably our foremost authority on outer space, space travel and related subjects. She knew at once that the rumor about Clicco was a hoax, but, before she made any public statements, she discussed the matter thoroughly with all the leading astronomers and astrophysicists in the realm. They were unanimous in dismissing the Clicco reports as wild-eyed visionaries' fantasies or as out-and-out fraud. So Ajinblambia addressed the nation on television, contradicting the story, and she personally authored articles in Obscont in which she explained tbe virtual impossibility of such an invasion. But still the rumor persisted.
What was the source of this rumor? We searched and searched, and finally we found it. Someone had produced a very vivid pentesthetic--movie in five-senses--and had introduced many copies into Vividities and the Gvagmarium, our foremost pentesthetic theaters, so that a large number of impressionable ladies and girls 'relived' the invasion of Clicco's cosmic horde. Painstaking investigation turned up two women, named Jobdala and Ivoni, who had masterminded the production of the 'pentas' out of a mischievous sense of humor, trying to see if they could create a panic. Though they had broken no specific law then on the books, they were roundly reprimanded by Ajinblambia, who was utterly opposed to their idea that it was fun to mount a big scare. Jobdala and Ivoni were not imprisoned or fined, but immediately thererafter our legislature took up the problem and introduced a statute that would deal with such activities in the future.
When tranquility returned to Mecnita, the Geese began to tease me, saying that Clicco had been planning a mass panty raid on Cissi's Intimates, intending to take tons of intimates back to the stars. They kept up their teasing so long that I got angry and burst into tears, saying, "Clicco was not going to raid Cissi's, and if he had been going to raid, it would only have shown that, underneath it all, he had good taste." The ladies howled with merriment to hear this kind of defense. They were in ecstasies over my childish retort. A couple of weeks later, I introduced a new line of panties called Cliccos, just to show that I was not amused by their jokes. Cliccos became a household word for bold, vivid, swashbuckling panties, with embroidered scimitars and maces. For years, Cliccos were available at Cissi's Intimates, popular especially with late teen-age girls, who tend to be ostentatious. Queen Udi never showed any interest in them, and I didn't try to attract her attention to them, as conservative and elegant as she was. If Mecnita had a carriage trade in lingerie, its leading representative was Queen Udi herself, of course.
Somewhat after the Clicco scare, Ajinblambia notified me that the two most-recently adopted Vrikshayas--Stlembi and Pixidixia--had completed their choreography and scenario for their ballet, The High Maid of Gvagma. In this, I would dance the title role, that is, I would dance myself, the High Maid of Gvagma. This of course was a great honor, but one fraught with irony, for the thousands of tiny neurosensors that had been implanted in my body would be activated for the performance, and Stlembi and Pixidixia would manipulate me with remote-control devices. I would be 100% automatized for the ballet. I had only to present my body, and the rest would be done for me. This went on for several nights in a row. Then I revolted. I told Ajinblambia that I wouldn't dance again, except without remote control. Ajinblambia was shocked at this indubitable and unprecedented defiance from the personification of docility and timidity that everyone knew me to be, but she finally yielded, and I danced subsequent performances without the good offices of those two charming young ladies, Stlembi and Pixidixia. They had merely to sit and watch, like any other members of the audience. I did get raves in Obscont. Critics agreed that though perhaps my rendition was trivially less precise technically than the automatized rendition, I lent human warmth and feeling that more than compensated. But you know critics.They always say what's expected of them.
Now I had a repertory of two ballets, The Siege of Candle Tower and The High Maid of Gvagma. I will have to say that these were in the highest strata of Mecnita's artistic atmosphere. I'm not boasting about my own dancing, of course. I'm speaking of the grand conception and design of the two magnificent pieces. Even a mediocre ballerina could look good in such a setting. They were performed in Rosebush Stadium, which had a ballet theater, as well as an ice-skating rink and a girls' volleyball court.
By spring of '401, Nunu was speaking Ungi fluently. She was being monitored closely by the Department of Child Development at the
Now the House of Vrikshaya numbered 14. In addition to Ajinblambia, Shandra and Oa, there were the five elder Geese, namely, Barti, Vinja, Usha, Dhabbi and Mlechi. These were the eight natural-born Vrikshayas. The six adoptive Vrikshayas were Udi, Oji, myself Sissy, Stlembi, Pixidixia and Ezmeraudia. I was the only Vrikshaya with horns. Eventually, of course, Nunu would be number 15.
Early in '401, Impulse Robot Works announced that they had finished the assembly of four of the twenty robot chorus girls they had been commissioned to manufacture for the Gvagma Robot Theater. Matricia and Vextoria wanted to move the four robot girls to Gvagma Robot Theater's garage so they could make test runs in the theater during the day, fine-tuning the programs that controlled their dancing. The entrance of the theater was left open, and passers-by were allowed to enter and watch while Matricia, Vextoria and the other lady roboticals worked on the robots. I too sometimes appeared and sat on the upper tier of the open-air theater, which was built like a soccer stadium. The robots were so beautiful that I could feel a tingling within me, as if sexually aroused. They danced with perfect grace to lovely strains of music produced electronically within their bodies. The music all came from the same source however, so there were no contradictions in tempo or pitch. Meanwhile, more robots were being built back at Impulse Robot Works in Idparcaps. In due time, we would be scheduling regular shows. Oh,
But this season of joy and delight came to an end when I heard that the former Frifna Pantheresses had completed their 10 years of probation and would now be granted exit visas to leave Disparhav, the capital of Ilocanga, their native country, in central Ub, where they had spent the decade, and could come once again to Mecnita. The six women were named Vlijanna, Ordzhozi, Mstivi, Chlapa, Endorfu and Conavash. The Pantheresses, of course, had had their clubhouse at Shayvurddhi back in '391, and Vlijanna and Ordzhozi had held me captive in Shayvurddhi for four days, apparently just out of malice and spite. During this detention, I discovered that they had an arms cache in a secret tunnel beneath the house. Reporting this to Ajinblambia, I was instrumental in derailing the insurrection planned by Aulf, the Anti-Ungian Liberation Front, to which the Pantheresses belonged. They were arrested, deported and put on ten years' probation. Shayvurddhi was seized and given to me as a reward for my role in stopping Aulf. Mortgaging Shayvurddhi, I had received enough money to open Cissi's Intimates' first store, located right in Shayvurddhi, in the Frifna District of Mecnita. Now Cissi's had grown to 2200 stores.
I heard that the Pantheresses were indeed planning to return to Mecnita. I feared that they might be nursing a desire for vengeance because of their deportation and the loss of their house. With their background of trafficking in arms and promoting terrorism, I was not being unrealistic in being alarmed, although Ajinblambia, the Mecnita Police Department and all relevant agencies would be watching very closely lest I be threatened or reviled in any way. On the other hand, I was certainly willing to forgive and forget if I saw genuine contrition in their attitude. I am certainly not one to bear a grudge. I seek only the happiness and friendship of everyone, even if it means swallowing my pride or overoming my suspicions.
I was on high alert in those days, wary and chary of anything out of the ordinary that I saw. I was scared, I was anxious, I was tense. Then late one afternoon as I came to Bo House, I saw Vlijanna and Ordzhozi sitting on a bench out in front, apparently waiting for me. "Can this spell danger?" I asked myself. They hadn't seen me, so I slipped away and spoke to some lady guards who worked for
"Vlijanna! Ordzhozi! How may I help you?"
"We owe you an apology. We deeply regret that we treated you in such an unwarranted, high-handed way ten years ago, when we detained you in Shayvurddhi for four days. This was atrocious and inexcusable." Vlijanna was speaking.
"You didn't cause me so much grief that you should should still feel that you wronged me terribly. My concern was for the
"We regret that even more. This was heinous of us. And now we want to make amends."
I would certainly be glad if they did make amends, but I was aware of the possibility of trickery on their part. "What can I do to help you make amends?"
"We'd like to return to Mecnita."
"Are you seeking to recover Shayvurddhi? You know that I received it as a reward for bringing about your arrest."
"No, we have resigned ourselves to the loss. After all, we brought it on ourselves."
"What is it then that you want from me?"
"In addition to your forgiveness, we'd like to be reinstated in Gvagma, and we understand that you are now the High Maid of Gvagma, making all the decisions about enrollment."
"You have my forgiveness. As for Gvagma, we now have space for 2000 teams, but currently we have all 2000 teams active. It's very possible that, in the near future, some openings will come up, and I'll be glad to accept you once again. Just remember that you will be watched very closely, so please be on your best behavior. Do you have jobs?"
"Not yet, but we'll be looking right away."
"I have an apparel factory on
"Sissy, you're an angel!"
"I beg of you not to disappoint me though."
So Vlijanna, Ordzhozi, Mstivi, Chlapa, Endorfu and Conavash became employees of Cissi's Intimates.
During the decade from '391 to '401, the Kingdom of Ung had built a dam near Tmuto, a city on the Apgarsh River in Ilocanga, as well as a railroad branch from Mointna, a city along the Bihaka, Qiziliot amd Central Railroad, to Disparhav. Ilocangans no longer felt neglected and aggrieved, and Aulf had been dissolved. So the general picture was good. The only thing to be mindful of was the conduct of the Pantheresses.
I put the six Pantheresses to work at Cissi's Intimates' factory on
The whole story of the intrigue at Shayvurddhi and the deportation to Ilocanga was carried in Obscont, but the article recommended that anyone who had to deal with any of the Pantheresses refrain from upbraiding, reproaching or snubbing them, extending them every courtesy and offering them every opportunity to reform, even while exercising discreet caution and vigilance in their presence.
As the organization of Gvagdo proceeded smoothly, several teams from among the 2000 teams that Gvagma had in Mecnita expressed a desire to be transferred to Dorgdid. I don't know exactly why they wanted to move. Perhaps some of the teammates had friends or relatives in Dorgdid. Perhaps it was just a desire to go places and see things. The first team whose application for transfer was approved was the Pertenasi Peonies, of the Pertenasi District, about 50 miles north-northeast of Ramdonia. I proposed to the Panthersses that they locate in Pertenasi, taking over the clubhouse of the Peonies. Vlijanna, Ordzhozi, Mstivi, Chlapa, Endorfu and Conavash were unanimously in favor of the move. So it was done. Within 50 days of their return to Mecnita, they were playing volleyball as the Pertenasi Pantheresses, and had been enrolled in one of the 25-team mini-associations that I mentioned. By this time too, they were beginning to be accepted with more cordiality about town. I was hopeful that I would be an instrument in their rehabilitation.
Incidentally, before Ung had annexed the whole continent of Eb, the continent where Mecnita is, there was a small country named Ruvinia. This has been completely absorbed by Ung, and no longer exists as a political entity of any kind. The name Ruvinia is still sometimes used as the informal name of that geographical region. The Ruvinians were a brusque, harsh people, callous and disdainful. But there was an incident in which a Ruvinian woman took the cape from her own shoulders to give to someone she saw sleeping outdoors under the stars without a cover. She has been known traditionally as the good Ruvinian. So whenever someone does a good deed for someone else, someone is likely to say, "She's a good Ruvinian." I heard someone say, "Sissy is a good Ruvinian," and I was pleased.
The volleyball uniforms that the Pantheresses wore were a little unusual among the teams in Gvagma. Each girl wore a long-sleeved, turtleneck black leotard, black tights instead of white knee socks, black form-fitting spandex shorts instead of a cheerleader's skirt with self-panties, and sneakers with black suede leather uppers to the ankles. About her waist each wore a black stretch satin sash with ends hanging down about two feet in back to symbolize a pantheress's tail. They were all tall and athletic, imposing and magnificent. They wore chignons when they played, with their hair pulled back severely from their temples to their napes. When they clustered on the court, the sight of them was so awesome that the game was half-won already.
They did in fact win most of their games. When I attended one of their games, and saw them win handily. I went out to congratulate Vlijanna after the game. She picked me up by the waist, tossed me into the air and set me back down on the floor, leaning over to kiss me. Though I would have loved to melt into her beautiful bosom, I felt it was premature to be overly affectionate, but I did return her kiss in a polite, reserved way.
The Pantheresses, whose win-loss ratio was the highest among the 25 teams of their mini-association, would not be eligible to compete in the playoffs, as they had not played a full season. They were in the Old Chiliad, so they would not have a chance until the Pennant Games in late '402. Zevanardia and I invited them for dinner at Bo House one evening soon after their enrollment in Gvagma, and Ezmeraudia was present too of course. We had Rose Verandah I bring us roast pork tenderloin, with browned potatoes, asparagus with hollandaise sauce, and poppy seed twist. We drank red burgundy. Later we had ice cream and cake.
I asked them if they'd like to tell their story in Cissi's Newsletter, my own magazine, which, though devoted primarily to fashion, featured a variety of articles on other subjects too. Vlijanna said she'd love to do that and agreed to write an article in the next few days. I did run it too, exactly as she wrote it. Generally speaking, I do not like to interpose myself as a censor, provided that contributors avoid profanity, obscenity and slang. In Mecnita, these caveats are rarely necessary. If anything, we err on the side of being too fastidious and ladylike, and would recoil with something akin to horror to be published making off-color remarks. Now and then, if sorely vexed, we may utter a 'Drat' or a 'Zounds' under our breath, but that is the limit. We don't let these things get into print.
One thing I asked them to expatiate on was their reason for wanting to return to Mecnita instead of remaining in Ilocanga, where there was no stigma whatsoever attached to their names. This they explained by referring to life in Mecnita as the answer to their dreams. The beauty, the glory and the opulence of the city was the magnet that drew them. I could certainly understand those reasons. I too had come from afar originally, from Motinia, a former kingdom on the east coast of Eb. I had no desire to return. Even my relatives could do without me, as far as I was concerned.
All six of them seemed to like Nunu, and were amazed when I told then of Nunu's linguistic precocity. This seemed to make them feel even more guilty than they had, as if their malice towards me, if carried to its logical conclusion, with terroristic acts in the capital, would have made impossible the birth of this gorgeous little genius. They all cast their gaze downward as I told them the tale, and I felt as if I had needlessly poured salt in their wounds, so to speak. So diplomatically and sensitively, I returned the conversation to their team and Gvagma's imperialism in the realm of girls' volleyball. Despite a couple of uncomfortable moments, the evening went well, and at 8.5 Ungi (8:24 PM), I drove them to the metro station at 7 Ramdonia Circle, giving them instructions on how to go to Pertenasi. Incidentally, this is the best spelling of Pertenasi I can come up with in English. The Per- is as in perish, and the -asi rhymes with glassy. Per- is stressed and in the fifth tone, i.e., the rising-falling tone, and the other three syllables are toneless. This is the pattern of all our proper nouns: stressed first syllable in the rising-falling tone with subsequent syllables toneless. However, English-speakers may modify the pronunciations to make them more conformable to the rules of their own tongue. For example, they may move the accent of Ramdonia from the first to the second syllable and suppress the tone.
The tragedy of the Pantheresses disturbed me profoundly. Why did things have to come to such a head? Vlijanna, Ordzhozi, Mstivi, Chlapa, Endorfu and Conavash were beautiful, intelligent young ladies who had committed crimes believing that they were acting in the best interests of their own people. Were it not for the good graces of Ajinblambia and Udi, I too might have fallen afoul of the law at some juncture in my haphazard career, bringing upon myself the same sort of troubles that were now weighing upon the six young ladies in black. So who was I to point an accusing finger? Was there no one or nothing in the heavens above who oversaw the welfare of the realm, deflecting all evil? Were we to accept sedition and sabotage as just another unfortunate fact of life, like cold, hunger, infirmity and death? Why did I have to be so helpless and inane before the altar of the goddesses? I guessed that all I could do was try to deal with the six in the fairest, most upright and benevolent way, and hope for a favorable outcome. Perhaps in aftertime, the wounds would heal.
Zevanardia shared my sentiments towards the Pantheresses, although, since she had not been their victim, hers were not so deep as mine. She was very supportive when my distress came to the surface, and many a time I leaned my head on her beautiful bosom, while she stroked my hair with her long, graceful fingers, soothing me with gentle words almost as if she had been lullabying a baby. Ezmeraudia was understanding too, but being young and ingenuous, she could not understand that the sociopolitical factors that underlay the insurrectionist plans of Aulf constituted extenuating circumstances, as I have implied above. She had enough confidence in Zevanardia and me that she knew our concern was genuine and not just a bit of play-acting. Nunu asked us to explain all this, but she was far too young even vaguely to comprehend, so I told her I would explain it to her in a few years. Fortunately for me, she had forgotten all about it in a few days, so I was spared that chore.
Lying in bed one night with Zevanardia sound asleep at my side, I began thinking about Ilocanga, and asking myself whether things would have been different if Gvagma or a similar institution had existed there ten years earlier. Would this have sufficed to bind the young ladies to others in their age-group in a spirit of congenial camaraderie, or would they have continued on their collision course of terrorism and sedition anyway? Of course, there was no way to answer this question, but it served to remind me that my general announcement of Gvagma's wish to expand had brought no response from Ub. Let me repeat that Nya has two continents, Eb and Ub. Eb, the smaller continent, is the one that has Mecnita as its hub, and is modern, beautiful and urbane. Ub, the larger continent, is backward and underdeveloped, with rustic, superstitious people. There had been a team in Kshaddi, in Gangawar, in Qazudistan, the major country of Ub, and that is where I had met the Geese. But what was the overall girls' volleyball picture on the dark continent?
I conceived the idea of having some of Gvagma's fittest, most beautiful teams play exhibition games in larger cities in Ub. I would select 20 teams from among the 2000 and reschedule them so that each of the 20 played another of the 20 every 5 days for 91 days, so as not to upset the general schedule of the association. The only difference was that instead of playing the games on their own courts, they would play them in Ub. The games would still figure in the tallies and the standings back in Mecnita. In this way, I was hoping to fan the flames of enthusiasm for girls' volleyball in Ub, making Gvagma the paramount athletic and entertainment organization on the planet. I decided then and there, with the back of my head on my satin pillow, to start the wheels turning for the round of games we'd play beyond the sea. The very next day, I'd get Zevanardia and other important young ladies in my office in