It was around the time of the Oriflamme Games, at the end of spring in year '399, that I won Ajinblambia's approval to go ahead with the Gvagma Spiral that I was envisioning. The Gvagma Spiral would be a pair of monorails, one for ascending trains, one for descending trains, that would wind round and round helically from the ground level near 7 Ramdonia Circle to the level of the guideway, which formed a circle atop all eight 1000-story towers, at a height of 12,000 feet above the ground. The ladies who would design the spiral and the trains were Idificia, a structural engineer, and Rachetina, a mechanical engineer, both justly famed in engineering circles in Mecnita.
I would not participate overly energetically in the planning and design, as I was afraid that the stress would tell on my advancing pregnancy. I was expecting that Nunu would be born around the beginning of year '400, so according to the one-year pregnancy that is usual on Nya, our planet, I was halfway there. Naturally I had opted for a daughter, and Gina, my gynecologist, had made the necessary injections to assure that I would have my way. Incidentally, do not confuse the names Gina (with g as in go) and Jina. For the most part, I would relax in a maternity gown in the morning at Bo House, at the southern corner of Gvagma Village, where Zevanardia and I lived. In the afternoon, I'd make panties for Queen Udi, according to the latest terms of my warrant as Panty Maker to the Queen. It was a bit of a chore, but I dreaded the thought that, if I didn't satisfy the provisions of the warrant, the neurosensors implanted in my body would be activated again, and Stlembi and Pixidixia would show up ready to direct me with their ovals, those terrible remote-control devices of theirs.
I was still reveling in my success at bringing Cissi's Intimates and Gvagma Village back to life, and in getting them, along with the Girls' Volleyball Association of Greater Mecnita, listed on the Mecnita Stock Exchange. The initial public offerings had been spectacular, and the capital thus received was what would make the Gvagma Spiral possible. Even though the spiral would rise at a short distance outside the original limits of Gvagma Village, on a special grant of 40 acres made by Ajinblambia to reduce the distance between the spiral and the guideway, it would, of course, still be considered part of the village. This would be a real feather in my cap, and was called an outstanding cultural and architectural undertaking by Obscont, which published a detailed account along with an artist's conception of the massive spiral. The spiral was scheduled to be completed in year '401 or '402. We do get things done in Ung!
I had lessened the number of my three-hour morning sessions in Ajinblambia's chambers, with her kind indulgence. This relaxation of the regimen would last as long as my pregnancy. But I still visited her perhaps every third day, recording her remembrances of things past and her hopes for things future. I was still adding pages to the third volume of my autobiography of her, Whither Vrikshaya and Ung? But this writing was done late at night, in my alcove, with Zevanardia at my side, as always.
I had brought Suzi, my pet Fulumoan cockatoo, from Inni Villa to Bo House, and I could converse with her, since she spoke fluent Nuu, our language, and understood it well. Still one wonders how well a bird could empathize with a human being. Nonetheless, sometimes to dispel the loneliness on those long quiet mornings, I'd have her in my alcove for a chat. She was 12 years old, but our Nyatic cockatoos generally live 40 years or longer, so I would have my beauteous little winged friend a good number of years longer. Queen Udi had a long white parakeet named Toto, who also talked, and it was in imitation of Udi that I had obtained Suzi.
At about this time also, the first of Gvagma Village's cinemas was opened. The "pentesthetics" theater, with "cinema" in five senses, had been open some time, but since each individual experienced her own pentesthetic while wired electronically as she sat in an easy chair, it was hardly a social event, even when hundreds were present in the studio. So the traditional cinema filled a vacuum. This is where people could come in number, and have refreshments together. There were boxes and chambers available, so that separate groups could gather for mini-parties. The cinema, called Gvagma Cinema I in anticipation of the others being planned for the years to come, would feature as its premiere the film The Conquest of the Jvashnas.
The Jvashnas were the former theocratic rulers of Qazudistan, 300 in number. When Ajinblambia had come from Mli to Qazudistan in the early '380's, she had taken charge of them single-handedly, without a faction backing her and without arms. She has done this all by herself, using all the multifarious powers that she possessed, with her amazing intelligence. She could lead, persuade, dominate, outsmart, psychologize, enamor, entrance and hypnotize, gaining control over the hierarchs one by one till all 300 were held in her grasp. It was when the Jvashnas devised sedition, aiming to infiltrate Ung, which at that time was a separate country, that they caused the revolution that would bring Qazudistan under the rule of Ung. Then Ajinblambia came to Mecnita and wooed Queen Udi. The rest you know, if you've read this chronicle of mine. The movie told the whole story. It was a fascinating epic that lasted about two hours and always drew a full house.
I had an upright piano in Bo House too, and sometimes, to amuse myself, I'd play a sonata or an etude, though I certainly made no pretense to virtuosity. I liked soft, light pieces that created a pleasant atmosphere around the house. When I played, Suzi would come and perch on a little upright log next to the piano, where I had some green house plants, listening intently. Birds do like music.
Birds do like music.
Naturally, during this period, performances of the ballet wherein I danced the part of Ajinblambia had been suspended. Perhaps in aftertime, when Nunu had been born, I could start dancing again.
As for the Gvagma Robot Theater, the robot volleyball games were still being produced and they were still drawing crowds. The robots were so beautifully manufactured that the games were very realistic, except for the gigantic sizes of the mechanical girls. Nonetheless, Ajinblambia was mulling the idea of having someone create other robot ballets. She asked me if perhaps I could write some tentative drafts and scenarios, now that I had a bit of leisure. She said that there was no rush. It was just something she'd like to think about in a year or two. So I started searching my mind for ideas for other entertaining robot shows.
I was wondering whether Rachetina could create a line of chorus girls, 25 feet tall, to dance follies in the robot theater. I decided to go out one morning to her office, adjacent to Impulse Robot Works, in Idparcaps, and talk to her informally there, just tossing up the idea of a robot chorus line, as if I could not make up my mind until I had gotten her opinion on feasibility. Rachetina liked the idea, because all the robots would be making the same motions as they danced identically on the line. Basically then she would have to create only a single design, and could lavish much more ingenuity and artistry on it than if she had been designing a whole suite of robots doing different things, as in the volleyball performance. She said she would have her draftswomen prepare some preliminary sketches and she would herself make an estimate of the cost. I told her I'd like to see about 20 robots in the chorus. The main problem, as Rachetina saw it, was producing a grade of plastic that resembled skin well enough to enable us to dance the robots with bare legs, rather than with stockings. We had used tights or stockings with the robot volleyball players, but bare legs seemed a "must" for the mechanical chorus girls.
The Gvagma Institute of Lacemaking, which had begun to enjoy a numerous enrollment, was now producing a goodly amount of bobbin lace. Queen Udi gave me a carte blanche to buy lace for her. As I mentioned, I had begun to add touches of lace to her panties. She loved this and wanted to see more of it. I kept at Bo House a motorized buggy of the kind that many visitors to Gvagma Village like to use. After all, it is a mile and a half across the village diagonally. Now I could visit the institute with relative ease, instead of walking the mile there and the mile back, as my pregnancy ripened. The lace I bought resembled Valenciennes or Mechlin lace, though of course we have our own nomenclature. Slo means lace. Slipo means bobbin lace. Our Valenciennes-like lace is called slipvo; our Mechlin-like lace is called slipmo. The -pv- and -pm- infixes signify that they are species of bobbin lace rather than needle lace or lace of some other kind. Slino means needle lace. Thus slingo and slinlo are our answers to Point de Gaze and Alencon lace. I had taken an interest in bobbin lace because I found the arrangement of pillow and bobbins so intriguing. Perhaps I should have been buying needle lace too, as lovely as it is. Queen Udi was happy, though, and her satisfaction was my main criterion as her warranted pantymaker.
I hadn't paid much mind to the Gvagma Institute of Haute Couture, which stood across Institute Way from the Gvagma Institute of Lacemaking. The reason was that I was already considered one of Mecnita's finest makers of intimate apparel. Of course, the Institute of Haute Couture concerned itself not only with intimate apparel, but also with dresses, slacks, blouses, evening gowns and other kinds of outer wear. So far, I was not involved in any of those things. Rather I was promoting the idea of according acceptance to peignoirs and chemises as clothing to be worn stylishly on the boulevards and avenues of our great city. The elegant, feminine lines of these silky gowns seemed so much more appropriate to the figures of our beautiful ladies than all those heavy pleated skirts of tweed, blazers of gabardine and galloon, and dolman-sleeved sweaters of woolen jersey with their armscyes to the waist. Was I just rationalizing to make my own wares seem superior to me?
Right around day 300 of year '399, I received a call from Queen Udi on my cell phone, as I was relaxing in Bo House over apple cobbler and cafe cappuccino. It was indeed a rarity when Udi called. "Please come see me in my office in Eldor Palace. I'll send Glafcroc. He should be there in 20 minutes." said Udi. Glafcroc was one of the chauffeurs who worked in Eldor Palace. He arrived at Bo House punctually in 20 minutes in a comfortable sports car rather than a limousine. In another 20 minutes, I was strolling down the regal corridor, as the main corridor of the palace was called, towards Udi's office.
"Good morning, Sissy. I see that you are making progress with your maternity. The reason I called is that I wanted to bring to your attention the fact that you haven't made any brassieres for me."
"Was I supposed to be making bras? You already have me quite busy with panties."
"I hadn't assigned them, but I am assigning them now. I'd like you to start making two-piece sets--bras and panties--and not just panties, as you have been doing. I'll reduce your quota of panties so that you won't have to work significantly longer than you do now. Will you kindly design and make a few sample bras. Once I see how they look, we can devise a schedule."
"I will need to measure you."
Queen Udi called Stlembi on her ring-finger phone, instructing her to come to her office immediately. When Stlembi arrived, Udi told her to bind my wrists together behind my back. Reflexively, I resisted when Stlembi began to take my wrists in her hands, but in two or three seconds, she was holding both of my wrists behind my back in her amazingly powerful left hand. With her free right hand, she took a ribbon out of her hair, looped it about my wrists and tied them firmly together. Queen Udi then went into her dressing room and came back wearing only a petticoat. She told Stlembi to take her measurements and she told me to give instructions to Stlembi orally. I was bound merely as a precaution. Just below the breasts Queen Udi measured 36". Her waist was 24". Her hips measured 40". Stlembi photographed her bosom and shoulders. I could see at once that she wore what we call a size D cup, being full-busted and shapely. When Udi had gotten dressed again and Stlembi had untied me, I took the pictures and the notes in hand, asking the queen, "Will you please call Ajinblambia and ask her to receive me for a few minutes right now?"
"I hope you're not planning to petition King Ajinblambia to overrule this latest instruction of mine to you."
"No, no, of course not. There's something she can do, though, that will help me with this assignment." Udi looked puzzled but called Ajinblambia on her ring-finger phone. This phone was a tiny unit concealed in the ring under a large blue sapphire.
"She'll see you now, Sissy. Just walk over. She's waiting for you."
I went into Ajinblambia's office when she motioned to me at her door. "Your Majesty," I said, "Queen Udi wants me to start making bras for her."
"So start making bras. When the queen instructs, you obey, you know that. So what's the problem?"
"There is no problem. I was just hoping I could persuade you to activate the neurosensors again, and send Stlembi and Pixidixia to Bo House for 3 or 4 hours every day for about 10 days, starting tomorrow. I want them to monitor, record and program my bra-making procedures. It helps me improve my speed and accuracy when they direct me with their remote-control devices, editing and refining." I thought that I could put up with 10 days of activated neurosensors, to achieve a definite purpose. What I feared was a long-term subjection to remote control, like the one I experienced in year '398.
When Ajinblambia had assented to my request, Glafcroc drove me back to Bo House.
That night, at my drafting table, I designed a five-piece brassiere. Each cup would consist of two pieces. The rest of the bra would be a single piece, including the circles in which the cups would be sewn, the inter-cup portion of the bandeau, the wings and the shoulder straps. I would sew the wings together in back, and the straps, originating over the holes for the cups, would be sewn to the wings in back. There would be no brassiere-strap adjusters, stays, underwires, or hook-and-eye fasteners. There was just enough elasticity to enable Queen Udi to get the bra over her hips. Udi would merely step in, stick her arms through the looped straps and pull the straps over her shoulders. I was contemplating a push-up bra, with very thin pads underneath for support rather than apparent enlargement. Knowing Udi, I assumed that she would consider a balconette bra just a little immodest, though revealing cleavage would be acceptable. I made the pattern of heavy oilcloth and set it by the sewing machine I had in Bo House.
The next day Stlembi and Pixidixia came and recorded my procedure as I cut out the fabric for a bra, using my pattern in oilcloth, sewed all the edge-seams, sewed the cups in, and sewed the wings and straps together. It took 4 hours to make a bra that was acceptable if not perfect. Then Stlembi and Pixidixia came every day, monitoring, recording, programming and editing. They kept increasing the playback speed too. After 10 days I could make a beautiful bra in 45 minutes. Panties took 22.5 minutes to make. A two-piece set would take 67.5 minutes. So I could make 7 sets in a little less than 8 hours, whereas 20 pairs of panties took 7 hours and 30 minutes.
At this juncture, I requested that Ajinblambia deactivate the neurosensors again, and she did so. I reported to Udi with samples and findings. Udi agreed to let me make 7 sets a day.
I persuaded Udi to let me make bras...
I persuaded Udi to let me make bras of satin, batiste, georgette, taffeta, tricot, poplin and organza. My recommended colors were mint, peach, canary, beige, pink, white, rose, ivory, celeste, lavender and saffron, mostly plain, that is, without floral or other designs. I did add touches of lace though, as Udi had requested. When she had seen a number of my productions, Queen Udi was immensely pleased and gave me a warrant as Brassiere-Maker to the Queen. The coat of arms that accompanied my warrant as Panty-Maker to the Queen depicted me blindfolded and wearing a peignoir as I placed an offering at the feet of Queen Udi seated in the throne of Ung. It was in shades of yellow, lavender and pink. Udi was on the left and I was on the right. This new warrant was essentially of the same design, but reflected about its vertical centerline, heterochirally, with me on the left and Udi on the right, in the same colors. In the impalement of the two coats of arms, the blazon for brassieres was on the left and the blazon for panties was on the right, so that the images of Udi were medial and back to back, while the images of me were lateral, if I may mix heraldic and anatomical nomenclature. The individual coats of arms and the impalement were all beautiful. Notices with pictures appeared in Obscont.
When I got used to the new regimen, I just loved it. I loved all the beautiful fabrics and colors. I felt as if I were an artist creating things of grace and elegance. This was akin to being in paradise, I thought.
Incidentally, as regards our chronometry, as I mentioned, the first day of the year is called day 0, so that noon on the second day of the year is known as 1.5, which tells us that 1.5 days have passed since the beginning of the year. Six PM on the 100th day of the year is called 99.75. For telling the time of day, we don't say .5 or .75, however. We say 5 or 7.5, multiplying by 10. In Mecnita, 0 is midnight, 2.5 is 6 AM, 5 is noon, and 7.5 is 6 PM. But in another part of the world, these are different. Diametrically opposite Mecnita, in Ub, 5 is midnight, 7.5 is 6 AM, 0 is noon and 2.5 is 6 PM. So when we say, for example, "Call me at 4," it will be 4 all over the planet. What we don't know is whether at 4 it will be morning, noon or night at our callee's location, unless we look it up or the callee tells us. If people in Mecnita work from 4 till 8 (9:36 AM till 7:12 PM), in another part of the world they may work 5 till 9, 1 till 5, or 9 till 3. But the workday will always begin at about the same interval after daybreak. So no one works nights merely to maintain the time. The only change is the numeration used in each location, which, of course, the locals are used to. There is no daylight time. There are no time zones. It is so very easy. Our day comes to about 25 earth hours. Mecnita, being equatorial, has perpetual equinox, but Nya is inclined on its axis which respect to the plane of the ecliptic, so there are seasons in off-equatorial regions.
Later in the year, I decided to order the impalements, so I had to find a herald who could make more than 2000 copies. There was a Cissi's Intimates outlet attached to each Gvagma clubhouse, but there were many other outlets too. I wanted to place the impalement at each Cissi's entrance. This would all cost a good deal of money, but I had it, and was eager to get started. It seemed such a fine distinction to have the exclusive right to make the Queen's bras and panties, and I wanted everyone to know that it was I who was thus honored.
Queen Udi said that on King Ajinblambia Day, which was day 400, I could start my maternity leave. Until that time she'd like to see me producing the quota regularly, but if I felt that it was becoming too great a burden, we could get together and talk about gradual reductions even before day 400. This was certainly understanding of her.
The next time I saw Stlembi, I blushed scarlet. We both understood that, even though I was twice her size, she had held my wrists behind my back as if I had been a six-year-old girl. I didn't at all mind being so weak, since I have never attached any importance to muscularity or prowess, but I didn't know if I liked the idea of Stlembi's understanding how weak I was. It made me vulnerable, as if, at any minute, she could seize and conquer me. She merely smiled triumphantly when she saw me blush.
Of course, I knew my name was Sissy, and I knew why it was Sissy. Even before my operation at Shrongmoil Medical Center, everyone said I was a sissy. No one used the word sissy as if it had been my name, however. That was Queen Udi's invention on the day I was divested of my rank as prime minister and assigned to play volleyball for the Eldor Geese instead. People did exclaim now and then, even before Udi gave me my new name, "Oh! What a sissy!" or, "Vocno, you're such a sissy!" I didn't really mind. I couldn't run. I couldn't jump. I couldn't climb. I couldn't swim. I couldn't ski. I couldn't ride. I couldn't catch. I couldn't throw. I couldn't lift. I couldn't fight. They said I didn't have a muscle in my body. I said I didn't need a muscle in my body. I was interested in bras and panties, art needlework, dolls, and writing sissy poetry. Muscles would just have been in the way. There was nothing that I did that an 80-year-old woman couldn't do, so why should I maintain muscles like a boxer or a weightlifter? Also, though my upper torso, arms and legs are slender, I have always had very broad hips, a protrusive, pregnant-looking lower abdomen, an especially round, shapely derriere, and a full bosom. By the time I was 13, people were saying to me, "Nice breasts, Vocno." One man said that, with my butt and my bust, I should have been a model. I guess I would have posed in panties and brassieres. I was not cut out to be a soldier, that is certain. I'd never been able to defeat even a 13-year-old girl in a fight. What would I do against an armed combatant 78 inches tall? Oh, well, I had finally found my place in the world, and I was happy as a bee in clover .
In those pre-operation days also, I had liked to sing, but I merely sang along with songs I chanced to hear, learning the melodies by ear, without taking an interest in the printed music. Later though, I studied music a little, and found my range. I was amazed to learn that I was able to sing soprano and even more amazed to learn that I wasn't able to sing anything but soprano. My range was from middle C to high A or high C, which is precisely coincident with the soprano range. But I don't like to sing even as low as middle C, as it sounds dull and leaden. Instead I like to sing from G above middle C to high A, though I can reach high C. So I had to limit my songs to those sung by women, for the most part. I certainly didn't want to sing a stalwart battle hymn in a lispy, sissified soprano. This high-pitched voice of mine probably had to do with my pathetic and abortive puberty, which left me a perpetual girl, so to speak. Of course, now too, I sing soprano, but it is expected of me. In those earlier days, I supposed I was expected to grunt and bellow. One has merely to ignore conventional notions about how one should behave in those matters akin to sexuality. One must turn a deaf ear to the voices that utter unfounded taboos. If you're a sissy, and sing like a sissy, you should do it with conviction, confidence and pride, without trying to disguise it or put on a reverse falsetto.
A certain girl remarked in those days that I was a cow. She meant to offend me, thinking that I fancied myself more like a brave bull, and perhaps I did. Today, however, the idea of being compared with a cow doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I consider that a fit comparison. I don't want to be a brave bull, locking horns in mortal combat. I'd rather stay in pasture, in peace and contentment.
Well, whatever the etiology of my condition, it was certain that I had gotten myself inextricably attached to Queen Udi's wardrobe of bras and panties. Like it or not, I would have to make her bras and panties for months or years to come, while Ajinblambia would be her king. Oh, the irony of it all!
Towards the end of year '399, all the soil bores, calculations and drawings pertinent to the Gvagma Spiral had been completed. The Royal Building Commission of the Ministry of Trade, under the direction of Dhabbi, had examined and approved the engineering documents, and they bore the seal of the ministry, one of whose functions is to oversee construction of buildings and other structures that are outside the purview of other ministries. The excavations preparatory for the foundation had been dug by massive earthmoving equipment of the kind commonplace in Ung but perhaps larger and heavier than the equipment used on most planets in Ti and other galaxies. The piers and footings would be cast of polymer-impregnated concrete with a compressive strength of around 30,000 pounds per square inch, that is, 10 times that of ordinary concrete. The column core would be a circular colonnade of steel columns with a 500-foot diameter. The columns would be spaced at 12-degrees intervals, for a total of 30 columns with slightly more than 50 feet between successive columns. Though the superimposed load was slight, the height of the spiral necessitated massive columns of high-strength steel from Boncfilj Steel Works in north suburban Boncfilj. The cars that would ascend and descend the monorails carrying passengers would be built by Joprinx Car-Building Works, in northwest suburban Joprinx. A number of other contractors were involved in providing electrical power and lighting.
At about the same time, Rachetina, Matricia and Vextoria came to me at Bo House with their portfolio of drawings and estimates for the robot chorus line I was considering. Though the sums were well within the amounts I had personal authority to dispose of, and so I might have proceeded on my own initiative, I decided to consult Ajinblambia first anyway. She loved to be have her approval sought even when technically, as with the chorus line robots, it wasn't absolutely necessary. Sometimes she would make remarks like, "Nya is my planet," or, "I am Ung," or, "I run the Dyotic solar system." I loved to hear her talk with such authority and possessiveness, so I humored her in every way I could. Anyway, the drawings and the videos of the gigantic girl robots doing synchronized high kicks, just as in a real chorus line, were so captivating that I wondered why anyone would look at girls 6 or 7 feet tall, like those of Ung, when they had 25-foot robots, just as lovely, that they could watch instead. However that may be, I told Rachetina, Matricia and Vextoria I wanted to examine the proposals with more care and I would reply to their query in few days. This was merely a roundabout way of saying, "I want to get Ajinblambia's permission."
Finally, on day 417 of year '399, the last day of the year and the last day of the 1034th century, my wee daughter Nunu was born with a weight of 9 pounds. Never would I have believed that such a thing could come to pass, but this is Ung, where technology, including medical science, is eons ahead of technology in other parts of the universe. I suppose I should have been embarrassed and diffident, coy and shy, but, quite the contrary, I was blithe and merry about it all. Ajinblambia and Udi came to me at my bedside in the maternity ward of Comargash Hospital in the Comargash District of Mecnita. Shrongmoil Medical Center is in Cnaizdadf, of course, and Cnaizdadf is 6000 miles west of Ung, near Fwascren, so availing myself ot the facilities of that most prestigious of all medical centers would have been counterproductive, requiring me to travel 12,000 miles in all. Certainly Comargash Hospital was a fine institution too.
By day 5 of year 400, I was up and about, minding Nunu, who was a perfectly adorable little girl, healthy and happy. Zevanardia was much pleased too. After all, she had made her contribution to the child's chromosomes. Now she wanted to have a baby too, so envious she was.
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