In mid-'405, just before the Oriflamme games, since the Royal Egrets' new School of Dance in Gvagma Village was practically complete, we began to see a good deal of activity there. The facade of the school featured a colonnade of caryatides hewn in gray granite by Sinsella and her following of talented sculptresses. This was a shift from my original conception of a chryselephantine colonnade. Here I was following Sinsella's expert recommendations, but I was happy with the results. The numerous ballerinas, both students and established professionals, who would use the building, upwards of a thousand, were everywhere about, so as you looked you could see droves of beauteous ladies and girls in leotards and tights. Ordinarily, a miniskirt, wraparound skirt, a pair of culottes or a pair of shorts would be worn over the leotards and tights until a dancer was inside the building, at which time she would shed the outer garment.
They were all so shapely and fragrant! You could smell the cold cream, the perfume, the henna and the lipstick that they wore. They drugged you. They intoxicated you. They bore you off in raptures.
Our beautiful ruler, Ajinblambia, had decided to make the
Ajinblambia was considered the owner of the Nyatic planet. She enjoyed the right of eminent domain over all our continents and isles. She was in absolute authority over the lives and fortunes of all our eight billion souls.
I recall that, in year '400, a nine-year-old girl named Patsi, who had been loitering around Bo House, managed to knock me on the grass and paddle my derriere when I had told her to leave the premises. I compared this with Ajinblambia's governance of eight billion people, and I wondered wherein lay the chasmic difference between Ajinblambia and myself. Would a young girl be able to paddle Ajinblambia? If I couldn't get the best of a prepubescent girl, could I have ruled eight billion people?
Ajinblambia, now in her forties, was still a paragon of feminine beauty. As she strolled about in her gown, with a sheer flowing peplum hanging before her shapely abdomen in such a way as to silhouette rather than conceal the ravishing convexity that enclosed her womb, I was enamored all over again. How many times had I bathed her and dressed her, stroking her hips with gentle fingertips drenched in costly oils? How many times had I planted kisses on her body with lips dispensing lotion, liquid soap and perfume? How many times had I drawn her panties to her waist and circled her bosom in her elegant brassiere? How many times had I applied her lipstick and blushed her cheeks ever so slightly with expensive rouge and powder? How many times had I combed her radiant black hair? I was lady-in-waiting to a woman who ruled eight billion people! Might I not take a very small portion of the credit for her worldwide majesty?
Every time I saw her, I could feel a stream of estrogen coursing through my veins. I would become aroused and blush because of the desire that welled up inside of me. I would avert my gaze momentarily, but unable to resist the abiding attraction of her figure, I would steal another glance and another and another. Of course, Ajinblambia was quite aware of my devotion and felt it was her due, oh, but how I was torn in my passion!
I was so proud of the way she could dedicate a school with a flick of the wrist, and ordain the creation of a
I had written a detailed account of her life and times in my biographical trilogy, published a few years previously, with sales now numbering tens of millions. Perhaps I should have been thinking of a fourth volume, but as long as Ajinblambia said nothing, I kept my peace, recalling the tremendous labor and concentration that I had had to expend in composing the first three volumes.
As I mentioned, just before the launching of Photon XX, one day I found Nunu, my precious little five-year-old genius, sitting in my alcove at Bo House reading a book on geology. Several times thereafter, I had seen her there again, with the same book, and with a thick pad of white paper pages glued together on top with a band of red rubbery adhesive, and a black rollerball pen with its cap inserted on the end opposite the point, as if she had been taking notes. Sometimes I saw written words, or figures, or little sketches. I marveled at the ingenuity of this little amateur geologist.
"Why are you so interested in geology?" I asked nonchalantly."Oh, I've been reading about Vinja and her tremendous land reclamation project in western Ub. Not only is she desalinating seawater, but she is exploring groundwater resources--aquifers and subterranean reservoirs--in the region. It all seems so interesting."
Vinja, one of Ajinblambia's cousins who formed the Royal Council of Ung, in which I also was an adventitious member, was now in her late thirties. I had known this lovely Vrikshaya since her teenage days, and now she was Ung's Ministress of Land, having risen from the ranks of village girl volleyballers in
As Ministress of Land, she oversaw land reclamation, construction of highways and railroads, and similar projects. At the time of this narrative, year '405, her main area of activity was the reclamation of over 3,000,000 square miles of land in the west of Ub. She was reclaiming land principally by supplying desalinated water, which she distilled in titanic water refineries, and distributed to the barren wastes via an awesome network of canals and pipes. She also conducted exploration of groundwater resources that would lessen the burden on her distilleries.
For this role, she was eminently qualified, holding degrees in engineering, agriculture and geology. She also spoke several of the nomadic languages that were the medium of discourse in the nine provinces involved. These provinces were Jongaria, Qidan, Tensan, Kazgar, Gergez, Turfant, Tuva, Oirad and Kokan. Earlier they had been independent countries, but they had agreed to accept the status of Ungian provinces in exchange for the reclamation originally offered by Queen Udi.
Actually, the construction of the projects in the west of Ub had been going on since year '390. At that time, as Prime Minister of Ung, I was in charge. But with Ajinblambia's arrival in Mecnita, Udi put her in charge instead. In the 390's, when the Oirad Project and the Turfant-Tuva Project, as they were called, were progressing satisfactorily, Ajinblambia delegated their supervision to Vinja, so that she, Ajinblambia, could take over the construction of Mezquaco, Ung's main aerospace facility. in Dorgdid.
Vinja was often referred to as "the gorgeous thunderbird of Ub."
I didn't hesitate to call Vinja to explain to her that Nunu simply idolized her. Vinja, who had attended a couple of Nunu's harpsichord recitals at Eldor Palace and who, like everyone, was open-mouthed in amazement at the young prodigy, was flattered by my daughter's idolatry of her. When I invited Vinja to come to Bo House as soon as she had time, she accepted immediately. So it came to pass that on the evening of day 255, Zevanardia, Ezmeraudia, Nunu and I were hostesses of the gorgeous thunderbird of Ub.
We served quail in a shell of puff pastry with goose liver and truffle sauce, and, for dessert, fresh profiterolles and chocolate fudge ice cream. Afterwards, we deank champagne and coffee. Vinja said that this kind of banquet was quite a departure from her usual fare when she was at the project, because she strove to content herself with the food produced on the farmlands she had brought into being. There the chief crops were wheat and corn, with potatoes and beans. There was little rice. Cattle were used for dairy products rather than for slaughter. Vinja was hoping that in the future, there would be a more various diet, but until then, she and her people were adhering to a more utilitarian regimen. Of course, Vinja, as a Vrikshaya, might have had any delicacies that she fancied delivered to her in her apartment in Qizilot, the city where the reclamation authority had its engineering offices. If she had wanted to sup on prime rib or king crab or lobster, she might have had it set before her at her table. But she felt that this would be bad for morale. If the people working on the project understood that Vinja was putting up with the same rigors she was imposing on them, they would feel greater loyalty and respect for her.
On planet Earth, it is often the case that an executive or superintendent allows herself or himself every comfort and luxury, while her or his underlings, who are dispensed only a much sparser diet, are acrimoniously blamed for everything that goes wrong on a project. Here on Nya, though, the lady in authority accepts any blame that the public levels, dealing with her underlings privately, so as not to embarrass them. She also makes a point of living in the same style in which they are living, as respects sumptuary matters.
One wonders how Vinja maintained her divine beauty amid the refineries and canals of Ub. But there's no question but that she did maintain it! She did spend quite a bit of time in the capital, and there she was able to restore herself a little.
For years, Vinja had flown back and forth between Mecnita and Qicilot all the time. In Mecnita, she had had to interface with the king and the other ministresses, as well as the directresses of companies supplying equipment and materials, most of them headquartered in the capital. On one of our maxi-jets, or flying cities, she was able to set up an office and a bedroom for herself, so it was not as if she had been strapped in a seat for 10 hours each way. She carried on her routine administrative correspondence just as if she had been at
Vinja's descriptions and explanations elicited a cornucopia of questions on the part of Nunu, and Vinja seemed happy to explain patiently. Eventually, Nunu found herself seated on Vinja's lap with her temple against Vinja's full, shapely bosom, drinking in every syllable from her lips. The other three of us merely formed an audience, as it were, while brilliant lady and brilliant girl shone like jewels enchased in gold.
Later in the evening, Vinja gave Nunu her electronic address and the uniform resource locator corresponding to her website, encouraging Nunu to contact her whenever she had a question.
I interceded here, saying, "You may be letting yourself in for a congeries of questions. If you only knew how inquisitive our little Nunu is!"
"Well, if I can't answer all her questions, I have a staff of knowledgeable ladies and girls who can. It's important, when we have someone of Nunu's intelligence in our midst, to cultivate it in any way we can, even if it costs us time and money. If I am not about when Nunu calls, she nay ask for Vasilissa, Malika or Koroleva. They will know who Nunu is." Then, affectionately pinching Nunu's left cheek between her thumb and forefinger, she added, "Now, Nunu, don't be shy. Call anytime of night or day, but it's best if you call in the evening, when it is morning in western Ub." A few minutes later, Vinja, having explained geodesic time differences to Nunu, got in a car driven by Fstambolc, whom we had just called, to return to
A few days after the supper for Vinja, ever-curious Nunu asked me, "Sissy dear, did you build
"I didn't personally build all the buildings and equipment. I merely oversaw the construction."
"How did you get to be directress of
"Well, I founded Gvagma Village on behalf of Gvagma, with money that I borrowed from the Bank of Ung using Gvagma's property as collateral."
"What is Gvagma exactly?"
"That's an acronym for the Girls' Volleyball Association of Greater Mecnita."
I expected words like collateral and acronym to puzzle Nunu, but, if they did, she didn't show it, and I did not want to put myself in the position of explaining patronizingly something she would dismiss with, "Oh, Sissy, I know that."
"So, why did Gvagma have you directing
"Oh, I was Commissioner or High Maid of Gvagma."
"You must be a championship volleyball player then."
"No, no, not at all. I'm very mediocre."
"So why were you the commissioner?"
"There was an election. And I won the election."
"Hmm, very interesting."
I didn't want Nunu to pursue this line of questioning, which could have led to the disclosure of some very embarrassing secrets about my past. Some of the secrets were steeped in absolute silence, with only Ajinblambia, Udi and the erstwhile Geese privy to them. Among these, were the details of my two life-changing surgical operations--reassignment and implantation of keratin glands. Other secrets were not absolutely confidential, but still very embarrassing. For example, I would have blushed deeply to have to explain why I had for months ridden in a drum fixed upon the back of a stallion with Ivandra mounted behind me, handling the reins. I would have felt quite inane explaining how it was that I competed in the Great-Great-Grandmothers' Games about 12 or 13 years earlier.
So rather than expose myself to further interrogation, I asked Nunu if she had seen everything in
"No, I haven't seen everything," Nunu answered perfunctorily, as she returned to the line of questioning I was trying to stop, "Also, I read in an article on my computer that you own a huge company that manufactures and sells bras and panties..."
"We just say intimate apparel or intimates."
"Your company is called Cissi's Intimates, but your name is Sissy not Cissi. What is that all about?" she asked, spelling the words out letter by letter.
"Oh, that's just an affectation. Ajinblambia and I felt it would be more stylish to call it Cissi's," I spelled, then continued, "It is a vast concern, however. We now have 2500 stores, and many factories, the biggest one being in New Ozgingd?"
"New Ozgingd? Where is that?"
"It's a northwestern suburb of Mecnita. We can go there by metro, if you like." I knew that Nunu loved the metro--don't we all?--so I was sure she would seize the opportunity, and she did. I told her, "First thing in the morning, oh, threeish, we'll board the metro at
In the days when I was an active member of the Eldor Geese, I wore the Eldor Geese uniform practically daily. This consisted of a bright red scoop-neck leotard with elbow length sleeves, and a red felt cheerleader's skirt, snug about the waist, with a pair of stretchy red panties like a control brief with its waistband sewn to the waistband of the skirt. With these, I wore white kneesocks and white gym shoes.
Since retiring from the Eldor Geese, I had worn a greater variety of dresses and gowns, slacks and shorts, blouses and bra tops.
But the day that we went to Cissi's in New Ozgingd, I put on my Eldor Geese uniform once again, because the girls at the massive new factory were accustomed to me in this garb, and I did not want to do a lot of explaining. When I had finished dressing, Nunu said, "Sissy, you look so cute in your little red volleyball outfit!"
I thanked her with a hug and a kiss, and asked, "Would you like to have a uniform just like mine?"
"Oh, yes. Where can I get one?"
"When we get out to the factory, I'll ask some of the girls to measure you and make an outfit for you. They are very, very fast. In a few minutes you will have your very own outfit."
There was no harpsichord at Cissi's in New Ozgingd. Who has a harpsichord in a lingerie factory? There was a grand piano in one of the buildings in Cissi's City, but Nunu had stated repeatedly that she did not like to play the piano. So talking to Grishcanca and Isfaranza, I managed to get a copy of the film they had made at one of Nunu's performances in Ajinblambia's private recital hall. I took this with me in a second purse that I slung over my shoulder, anticipating that the girls in New Ozgingd would want to know all about Nunu. Then I would have projectionists show the film.
All the girls knew about Nunu, of course. Articles about her had appeared several times in Cissi's Newsletter and in some of the local gazettes published in various districts of the great city, gazettes like The Tumppula Trumpet and The Egshirvazi Surveyor. I did have her wear her concert gown--the gown of white silk satin edged in purple velvet fretwork. This was the gown she was wearing in the movie and would make the identification more vivid. I did not wear my concert gown, though. I was expecting Nunu, rather than me, to get all the attention when we arrived, and so it was.
As soon as Nunu and I entered the building and reached the general area of the offices, a whole sorority of seamstresses converged on us. They hadn't seen me in a few days, but that was only a small part of their excitement. They all simply loved Nunu and could not resist the temptation to pick her up, hug her and fondle her. There were a thousand questions, which Nunu and I answered as if talking from fifteen mouths at once.
I told them I'd like to have them make half a dozen Eldor Geese uniforms for Nunu, and before I could say, "Ajinblambia," they had Nunu down to her little white panties and socks, and were measuring her with a linen canvas tape measure coated with yellow starch or acrylic, and marked with little lines at intervals of one millimeter apiece. Nunu was definitely still completely flat-chested, but there was a suggestion of an hourglass in her figure, and her little bouncy, globular buttocks simply begged to be patted, tickled, spanked gently, and pinched.
The seamstresses went right to work. I told them that Nunu's outfit should include white tights rather than kneesocks. Younger girls always have a hard time keeping socks up. They run about with such vitality and show little interest in their appearance sometimes. One hour later, we were given six little red and white volleyball uniforms. Nunu put one on right away, as I folded her concert gown neatly and put it in one of my bags. Then Nunu starred in her own little fashion show, parading back and forth so all the girls could see her. On her face, she had a charming, self-satisfied little smile.
At this point I had the ladies show the film I had brought along. Thirty or forty girls went with Nunu and me to a conference room in the office area where I knew there was a roll-down projector screen. We all watched the movie raptly, and when Nunu finished each movement of a suite of three movements, there was a round of enthusiastic applause and a roomful of incredulous faces, mouths open with gasping and sighing.
Then Nunu and I toured the plant, accompanied by a dozen merry young seamstresses that worked there. The extensive sewing rooms, housing hundreds and hundreds of sewing machines, along with cutting tables and ironing and pressing machines, spread over acres.
The outer clothes worn by Mecnita's millions were manufactured principally by Ulmactab Mills, a few miles downstream from Cissi's. At Ulmactab Mills, automation had been carried to the limit, and giant robot machines dispensed ready-made clothes by the ton. These were boxed and distributed on conveyors in tunnels that formed an underground labyrinth. But for intimate apparel, we preferred to use the more traditional methods, including opeator-controlled sewing machines. This enabled us to use lace, embroidery, applique, handmade buttons, linings, rickrack, galloon and other delicate trim more effectively than if we had merely stamped them out.
Around mid-day, Nunu and I stopped at one of the in-plant cafeterias for lunch. Basically, the cafeterias serve one standard lunch, different each day. If you want something that's not on the menu for the day, you have to wait, wasting your valuable break time. Almost all the girls eat the standard lunch, and then go out to walk or lie on the grass outside till the whistle blows.
The day we were there, spaghetti, with ground meat and tomato paste, was served. There were pieces of garlic bread, toasted light brown, with warm, sweet butter on the table. It was scrumptious. We had tall glasses of raspberry soda afterwards.
I took Nunu outside so she could see Jenni dancing in her pink romper in the air above the factory, but it was a brilliant sunny day, and the image was faint. We would not remain there till nightfall, so I explained to Nunu that at night the image is far vivider, but she said only that she had supposed it was so. I promised some day we would come in the evening so she could get a better look. At the same time, we would be able to drive over to Transumzidia and eat at Cormozhna's Cabin, the terrific hamburger restaurant in the
Nunu and I visited Cissi's City. I explained that I had planned and directed the construction of the apartment buildings so that our employees would have to spend less time commuting. I told her we had mortgaged the factory and some other properties to raise the money for the project, and at this time, she asked me to explain the mortgage, which I did. Our mortgage was not terribly demanding, because Ajunblambia had guaranteed it, seeing in Cissi's City a real addition to the resources and facilities of the metropolitan district, rather than just an instrument for my personal enrichment. After all, I had everything I'd ever need to live a happy life.
Around 7 Ungi (4:48 PM), my favorite little prodigy and I boarded another metro bullet train bound for Eldor Palace, which was about 85 miles southeast of the factory. For most of that distance, the trains rolled at surface level, but the last few miles were underground, with the stops at
During the first part of our trip, we could see towers, arches, domes, spires and bridges galore, streamlined and sophisticated. There were parks and gardens blooming with a million flowers. We saw universities, libraries, malls, embassies, government buildings, theaters, stadiums and expressway entrances by the dozens. It was dazzling. It was stupendous. It was awesome. Nunu was not so young that the power and majesty of Ung were lost on her. She understood quite well that this vast infrastructure was the handiwork of our people. When the train we were aboard descended, entering the subway, Nunu, who had been craning her neck to look out the window, turned and sat back in her seat, with an audible, "Whew!"
Minutes later, we were deboarding at
By this time, the monorail for the Beauty Train had been installed on the medians of the Avenue of Ung. A depot had been built, just northeast of
During these days, Nunu stayed in touch with Vinja and her staff, who were also sending her electronic correspondence, some related to geology and desalination in general, and some related to specifics of the project in western Ub. I heard Nunu talking about such things at multistage flash evaporation, filtration and vacuum distillation. She seemed to know about levels of salinity, seawater, brine, brackish water, vadose water, phreatic water and so forth. To me, these topics, though I knew of their importance to Ung, were confusing and dull, but Nunu seemed to enjoy talking about them and inquiring about them in e-mail on her little computer.
Around day 300, Vinja was back in Mecnita. Naturally she came to Bo House as soon as she arrived, without there having been even enough time for us to invite her. Of course, all the Vrikshayas had our standing invitation. Bo House was their house, day and night, all year long. As luck would have it, Nunu was present when Vinja appeared, and the two geniuses hugged each other with deep love and affection. I sent Ezmeraudia to Rose Verandah I to get us an impromptu supper of potatoes Mecnita and shashlik with onions and lepyoshka.
Vinja kept exclaiming her delight and amazement at Nunu's ability to learn the difficult subjects that she said had caused herself so much agonizing during her college days in Qazudistan.
This was all prefatory to her real intent in dropping by to see us. What she had in mind was to invite Nunu to visit her in Qizilot for 10 days. She would herself take Nunu back on a direct flight from Mecnita to Qizilot.
I decided just to let them go as planned, without insisting or even recommending that I accompany them. With all our finger-ring and ear-ring phones, wrist computers and other communications devices, Nunu could probably have gone all by herself, without Vinja, so there was absolutely no cause for any apprehension on my part. Still I felt a liltle nervous. Fortunately, Ajinblambia said she'd have someone monitor the passage, checking periodically by phone with the flight attendants and airport personnel.
By this time, it was clear that RUS Gvagma III, the intimates yacht skippered by Militani of Vavamoa, a city on the
Zevanardia sought permission to buy two more yachts, which she'd called RUS Gvagma IV and V, remodeling their superstructures as lingerie boutiques. She and Kolomena, scrutinizing a map of the million-island archipelago, selected locations where they felt they would find a market for haute couture. So it was decided that the activity of RUS Gvagma I, which had been entrusted to Queen Kolomena, would now be delegated to Panakana, another lady of Kralatimu for whom Kolomena had vouched.
The five yachts would be made the property of a new company, Cissi's in Ungonesia, and Kolomena, instead of being captainess of s single yacht, would be directress of the whole company, with her headquarters in Monopeo, Kralatimu's capital. She and Zevanardia would be in constant contact. At this time, of course, Zevanardia was functioning also as editress-in-chief of Cissi's Newsletter, and her involvement in the daily affairs of Cissi's in Ungonesia would be reduced in the framework of the reorganization. Zevanardia was always lending a hand with the direction of Gvagma Village too, so she was a busy lady. This beauteous life-companion of mine was now in her late thirties, but hardly looked more than a bare thirty.
It was envisioned that in years to come, Cissi's in Ungonesia would grow by leaps and bounds. Warehouses were being put up in various locations, and in a couple of them, retail sales were conducted too, but they could hardly be called full-scale stores at this time.
As I mentioned, among the apparel we sold in the islands, we included water volleyball outfits, each of which which consisted of a two-piece bathing suit, with a sarong and a bolero. We were also promoting our pelagica, a special Ungonesia peignoir. Zevanardia invited Kolomena to visit Cissi's in New Ozgingd, where, with all our facilities and conveniences, she might create some new lines of intimates to be sold in the archipelago. We had electronic devices with apparel-design software that would allow her to draw on a computer screen, erase, start again, modify, change colors and do a hundred other things that would have been very time-consuming if done by hand.
So around day 350 Kolomena sailed to Badako, and from there flew to Mecnita. She stayed with us, as our guest in Bo House, for 6 days, visiting New Ozgingd daily, and doing some sightseeing in the afternoons. She was simply thrilled.
As for our mission to Ub, our representatives had visited the countries in the south and west of Ub. These included Truk, Shansa, Poinavoinen, Ilocanga and Gurgen. We were received warmly in Ilocanga, but the other countries were lukewarm. We would have to send a larger delegation and make a bigger splash, but that could wait till '406 or later.
As for the lunar leagues, they were doing splendidly. Queen Shandra was the godmother to the four-kingdom association, and her presence was as comforting to me as if I had been there myself. Shandra, like me, always tried to live according to the wishes of Ajinblambia, and this naturally endued us in an imperishable harmony.