The Gynocratic Age

by Vincent L. Scarsella

 Once upon a time,

the many cultures of the world

were all part of the gynocratic age.

Paternity had not yet been discovered.

- Gloria Steinam

 

God Bless the America

We are trying to create.

- Hillary Rodham Clinton


Captain-Sister StarHawk lingered in the doorway of the Mother Superior’s office as the old crone stood at the small window staring down at the quad two stories below where fifty-three man-brutes had just been marched in after a long train ride in hot, cramped box cars. A platoon of guard-sisters barked orders as they jostled the weary captives into rough formation.   

After a time, the Mother Superior seemed to sense StarHawk’s presence and turned. Despite her seventy-plus years, with her arms crossed in her black leather uniform, her long, silver hair framing sharp, wizened features, and a deep bronze tan, the Mother looked fit, sexy, and certainly in command.

“There’s a boy down there,”  she told StarHawk. “Disinfect him, then bring him up for interrogation.”

StarHawk nodded, trying not to show her disgust. Six months earlier, the Mother Superior had made a similar request of StarHawk’s predecessor. That boy had been a dark-haired ruffian, captured after a vicious skirmish with the nasty man-tribe, the Rock Warriors, in southern Utah. He had been undergoing the Mother Superior’s “interrogations” once a day ever since. 

What surprised StarHawk was that none of the guard-sisters seemed to care. Her criticism of this apparent indiscretion the first week of duty at the camp was met with a cold, silent stare from one of the elder guard-sisters. Mother Superiors were beyond reproach. And it was bad form for a Command Sister fresh out of the Academy to question a Mother’s intentions. Complete loyalty and obedience to authority was basic to the strength of the sister legions from the earliest days of the secret, silent Revolution known ever since as Hillary’s Run. In the end, such dedication to command had helped the Sisterhood win the Gender Wars.

After a moment, StarHawk joined the Mother Superior at the window overlooking the quad.

“Which one, Mother?” she asked. 

The tattered man-beasts standing on the hot asphalt in uneven rows were so limp and defeated that even StarHawk felt a pang of sympathy for them. One of guard-sisters was shouting that if anyone of them dared do anything stupid, all of them would be shot. The captives surely must know, thought StarHawk, that most of them were doomed anyway.  Only a lucky few would be transformed to Sisterhood. 

“That one.” 

The  Mother Superior was pointing out a lean boy maybe fifteen, about the same age as her current ruffian. He was a dark brown, handsome lad, with a long curly mane, tan and sinewy from a lifetime on the run. Last week, he had been captured by a sister-patrol weeding out the last of the few remaining man-tribes pushed after years of hunting to the western frontier of the Sisterhood. 

Upon StarHawk’s order, the boy was pulled out of the formation of the captive man-brutes on the hot quad and brought down to the basement of the admin building. There, he was stripped out of his grimy clothes and hosed clean. Then, shivering and whimpering for his Daddy, he was pushed into a cell. 

“Shut up, manshit!” the guard-sister snarled as the boy cried and moaned. StarHawk hushed the guard and told her to go easy on the lad. 

“The Mother wishes to interrogate the boy,” she said. 

“Yeah,” the guard-sister sniggered. “I bet she does.”

Then the guard-sister asked:  “What’s to be done with the other one?” She nodded to a corridor leading to another group of cells where the ruffian brat stewed. “Her present toy?”  She clucked to herself. “Woman-ized?”

StarHawk could not see that ruffian as a girl-teen, but that had been the Mother Superior’s order – transform him. Perhaps then, she would take “her” as an honest lover, but the thought so infuriated StarHawk that she quickly chased it from her mind.

The guard-sister laughed and commented to herself, “What a bitch that spoiled brat’ll make,” and even StarHawk had to smile at that.

Fifteen minutes later, StarHawk and two guard-sisters escorted the new boy up the narrow stairwell from the basement to the second floor, and then down the dark hallway to the Mother Superior’s office. He was shackled at the ankles with a loose chain and his wrists were handcuffed in front of him. Despite his slight appearance, there was no telling how strong he was after a lifetime in a man-tribe. Sinewy and mean, most of them were, like wasps.

The Mother Superior greeted StarHawk with a scowl at the open door. 

“Bring him in,” she said with a raspy voice that, in its day, had commanded part of the sister-army which had overrun the Dorian Pass and helped defeat the last great so-called superman-army led by that terrible and brutal general, the Black Lord, Angus IV.

StarHawk nodded for the guard-sisters to guide the boy into the dark office. A dim lamp on an old reading table at the far corner cast the room in a soft, yellow glow.

“Sit him on the couch,”  commanded the Mother.

The Mother leered at the shackled boy for a time as he shivered on the couch clothed only in a skimpy undergarment. 

Finally, the Mother turned to the escort team.

“Step outside,” she said. “My interrogation should not take long.”

StarHawk nodded to the guard-sisters and they left the Mother-Superior’s office.

“The Goddess be with her,” said one of the guard-sisters as they stood waiting in the hall outside the Mother’s office door.

“The Goddess be with him, you mean,” said the other.

Thirty minutes later, the Mother Superior opened the door and shoved the ravaged boy into the hallway. 

“Take him away,” she said. “He revealed nothing.”

For his part, the boy remained silent on the way back down to his cell. No doubt, he had been warned by the Mother Superior to keep his mouth shut as to what had really happened in her office or he’d be dead meat instead of suckled prey.

#

By the time StarHawk left the boy in the care of the guard sisters in the basement dungeon, it was already twenty-one hundred hours. She went across the quad to the mess and ordered a late tray of cold beef, taters and cornmeal, took it to one of the long wooden tables which filled the wide hall, and ate alone. 

Afterwards, she hunkered back to her quarters.  On the way, she passed the cell of the Cybelle, the old white-haired sister-witch. The High Wiccan Order of the Goddess Realm had assigned her to this post to administer holy rites and spells. 

StarHawk lingered at the witch’s cell door a moment and thought to leave when she heard the frail voice of the old crone.

“Sister – you are troubled.”

StarHawk sighed and took a small step into the witch’s cell. The Cybelle sat on a narrow bunk with her short, thin legs spread out before her. Grinning, she beckoned StarHawk forward with an old, crooked finger, but StarHawk stood her ground.

“Come in, Sister. Why do you linger?” The Cybelle resumed running a thick comb through her stringy, long, white hair for a time, then smiled. “I will not put a spell on you.”

“I –“

“Come in where I can look into your eyes.”

Finally, StarHawk obeyed and found herself standing directly before the old crone.

“I was about to cast a spell,” said the Cybelle, putting the comb onto the bed next to her, “for the healthy transformation of the new captives into the sisterhood.”

 StarHawk listened while the priestess droned the incantation:

Women of might

Women of right

Care for the man

To withstand

Woman-hood

This night!

            After repeating this three times, the witch made a sign, a kind of figure eight with the crooked tip of the index finger of her right hand, and blew into the air.

            The spell complete, she turned to StarHawk.

“What is the source of your troubled heart, sister, this cold night? The lack of a lover – for that I have a spell. Is it that tall, dark girly-girl who stands watch by day over the parapet? She is so lovely, I thought of making a spell for her myself.”

The old witch grinned.

“Can you cast a spell that can cure our Mother Superior of lechery?”

The Cybelle frowned.

“She has found a new boy to interrogate, I hear.”

“Interrogate?”  StarHawk smirked. “Yes, they have great intercourse.”

“You must not judge the old general too harshly,” said the witch. “She still remembers the olden days when men were plentiful, and desired.” She paused a moment seeming to long for such lost times herself.

There was an Age, only fifty years ago, when men were still a necessary cog of  procreation. But by the strange wonder of science, congress between men and women had ceased to be required for the propagation of the human race. 

Hence, the obsolescence of men.

“I scorn that age,” said StarHawk. “It was before the Goddess truly returned.”

The Goddess. The universal and all-powerful feminine Being. It was said that men were devils, created out of the evil darkness at the beginning of time to torment women, and ultimately, defeat the Goddess.

The old crone smiled. “You are young,” she said. “and truly of this age. The new age.  Soon all men will be gone and with them temptation; and, the lechery of old generals like the Mother Superior who crave them still will no longer concern you.”

“So until that time, it’s alright to look the other way?” StarHawk asked. “To condone such base violations of the Law.”

The witch shook her head. “Any report you make of it, I warn you sister-child, will fall on deaf ears,” she said. “And your career will be short-lived, no matter what spell you divine.”

StarHawk knew this to be so. She thought of the young boy, the ravaged and frightened look on his face after he had emerged from the Mother’s dark office. He had been virgin, never with a woman before that night. In the man-tribe from which he had been taken, he most likely had been taught man-sex. But, so it was said, there was nothing sweeter than intercourse between a man and a woman. The sister guards could not keep from talking about it, whenever they thought that StarHawk was out of ear shot, about the size and look of man-dicks. She had heard more than once the sister guards promise that they would taste a new one that very night. 

All the more reason to hope that the First General Hera’s promise that all men would become extinct would soon come to pass.

In response to overhearing such talk among the guard-sisters in her first few weeks at the Camp, StarHawk had begged the Mother Superior to give a command sermon to reinforce the Rule that sexual contact with the captive man-brutes was an abomination against the Nation, tantamount to treason!  But the Mother had waved off the suggestion. “Let them have their lustful thoughts,”  she had said. “It is good for morale.” After a moment, she laughed. “And remember, those sisters who wrote such laws did not have to stand guard over the man-brutes you despise.”

But StarHawk knew that there was much more to it than “lustful thoughts.” Such thoughts usually turned to lustful action and sexual congress between guards and the man-brutes was a regular occurrence. And even when caught, the punishment doled out was light. Of course, the Mother Superior’s interest in disciplining such breaches of regulation had been wholly compromised by her own perfidy.

“Go to sleep, Sister StarHawk. Dream of the blonde Goddess for whom you have been aptly named.”

The old witch stroked StarHawk’s hair and for a moment, StarHawk thought a spell had been cast. But she was able to resist the charm.

“Goodnight, mother,” she said, and dismissed herself from the old witch’s cell.

#

It was near twenty-two hundred hours when StarHawk finally retired to her quarters, a cramped room with rough stone walls, furnished with a narrow bed, a small writing table, and a squat dresser. She stood in the darkness for a time, contemplating the day’s events. Only the promise of the old witch that men were doomed preserved some amount of her morale. But until that day she would have to live with the breach of law by so many of her sisters, and …. and the equal temptation which the existence of man-brutes held, she had to admit, even over her.

As she swayed in the darkness and almost fell asleep standing up, StarHawk became aware of the gentle rapping at her door.

It must be Sister SkyBlue. Though they had regularly bedded since her first week at the Camp, StarHawk had long grown tired of the liaison and had been thinking of trying to cast a spell to be rid of her.

She waited a moment, keeping silent, but SkyBlue rapped again.

“StarHawk,” she whispered.

Finally, StarHawk opened the door.  SkyBlue’s eyes widened at the sight of StarHawk and she stepped forward to embrace her. She was a slender girl, several inches shorter than the tall, lithe Captain-Sister. Her eyes were an intense, glimmering blue, like water under frozen clear ice. She was some kind of clerk, assigned to the admin office. But StarHawk had to admit that SkyBlue was good in bed, especially with her vigorous mouth and tongue.

“You didn’t answer?”

“I was meditating,” said StarHawk. “I’m tired.”

“We can go to sleep.”

“I was thinking of going for a run.”

“Now?” SkyBlue stood back with a severe look of concern. “At this hour?”

“I need one. It’s been a long day.”

There was no denying that. The entire morning had been spent in the company of man-brutes. The smell of their dung and piss and sweat hung in her nostrils even now hours after it had gagged her all that morning in the stifling August heat as she directed their processing upon arrival at the depot. Then, there had been the uneven, disorganized march to the trucks for transport to the Camp. Capped off, of course, by the Mother Superior’s lechery.

“I can make it better for you,” SkyBlue promised and licked her lips slowly with the pink end of her narrow, soft tongue. She stepped forward and went to pet StarHawk’s crotch.

“After I run and shower,” StarHawk promised. “Stay and warm my bed.”

StarHawk quickly changed into a dark running suit.

“Where are you going?” SkyBlue asked with her cutest pout as she had snuggled her way under the covers of StarHawk’s bunk. “Not your usual path at this hour?”

The “usual path” was a rough, tight dirt trail slopping down a steep hill directly behind the rear stone fortification of the Camp. It was a difficult run in the daytime, and could be deadly at night. But StarHawk had run before at night and felt competent to navigate its many holes and bumps and twists and turns even in the deep darkness after a long, tiring day.

“Yes,” she said. “There.”

SkyBlue moaned, her protest. But before she could give voice to it, StarHawk was out of the room.

#

She made her way down the narrow, dark corridors of the citadel to a rear, stone  flight of steps which came, at bottom, to a thick wooden doorway. The sister sitting guard duty there was barely awake, and gave a start as the Captain-Sister approached. After a moment, the guard recognized her and quickly saluted. 

“At ease, sister,” said StarHawk. “Open the door.  I am going for a run.”

The guard-sister nodded, having obeyed this request previous nights, and the heavy door groaned open before her.

The night was cool and StarHawk shivered a moment as the door closed behind her with a hollow thud. Alone, in the darkness, she looked up into the sky above the treetops and admired the crisp blaze of stars. She enjoyed being out in the wilderness, away from the lights and noise of the city. For three long years before her present assignment, StarHawk had been stationed as an aide to a Sister-General at Personnel Command just outside Rodham, the capital city of the Sisterhood. She didn’t miss the tedious morning commute through the endless traffic jammed with official cars and buses followed by long hours of tiresome paper pushing.

With a gulp of cold air, she started the run. After only a few yards, she had to  negotiate a thick rock that had jutted ages ago above the hard path. Down and down she went, turning this way and that with the path, into the darkness of the silent, gully thick with trees providing, of course, an excellent defensible position for the Camp. Years ago, it had been a fort at the frontier of the Sisterhood, at a time when man-brutes were yet a formidable enemy and the gender wars were in doubt. But now, except for a few nomadic stragglers, human males were a declining breed.

This part of the run, going down, was relatively easy – going up was the ultimate challenge, made easier of course by the idea of returning to the warmth and comfort, as far as it went, of the Camp and her quarters.

But on this night, about halfway down the path, StarHawk was brought down to the ground with a thud, with the breath momentarily knocked out of her lungs. Her head hit a tree root or something, and after a flash of light, she blacked out for an instant. When she woke, her head ached and she felt a weight on top of her.  Breathing. From the oily, sweaty, stench, StarHawk realized she had been taken down by a man-brute.

“Keep quiet, bitch.” His whisper was harsh, determined. “Scream, and I slit your throat.” He poked the side of her neck with the sharp point of the small knife in his right hand. 

He spoke Old English. She had taken advanced man-brute language courses in the Academy, hoping at that time to become a special defense patrol officer for whom it was indispensable to be able to converse with man-brutes from the remaining frontier tribes.

“Slit it,” StarHawk gurgled, in perfect dialect. 

StarHawk’s heart and mind raced. She cursed herself for letting her guard down and becoming easy prey. Now, she thought fiercely how to untangle herself from the strong arms of this man-brute.

Suddenly, his grip lessened ever so slightly and he seemed ready to back off.

“My name is Hector,” he said, without menace. “And if you promise not to scream, I promise not to hurt you. I – I only wish to talk.”

To talk? What utter nonsense was this? StarHawk was contemplating an escape route, how best to roll and punch, to knock him silly or kill him with one swift kick to the throat. She tried to call up one of the many defense techniques she had learned at the Academy, but her mind was on overload and her head still ached. Plus, the brute had not really released his weight or grip. And the point of his knife was still at her throat.

“Talk?” she whispered. “Let me up.  Then we’ll talk.”

He laughed. “I may look stupid,” he said. “I may be stupid. But I know that you are a warrior sister – and, therefore desperate to kill me.”

She gasped. “So what do you want to talk about.”

“I’ve been watching you,” he said. “the last couple of weeks.” Now, he pressed harder down upon her. “And, I – I think I am in love with you.”

StarHawk frowned. This boy was a complete idiot.

“Where is you tribe?”

He nodded down, toward the bottom of the gorge. The Shiko River ran west, to the Planter Valley. In the former age, there had been a town down there. Now, it was deserted, overgrown, and the reports were that a fierce man-tribe still operated miles to the west of there, a stronghold that the special forces sister patrols had not yet breached. StarHawk now realized that those reports were true.

“What are you doing here?”

“I was sent up to scout,”  he said. “To observe the Camp’s fortifications.”

StarHawk knew that the brute must be demented. He risked a charge of treason, and certain death, by revealing this. What interested her more than his lack of patriotism, however, was that his man-tribe had a purpose other than simply escaping from the special forces sister patrols. StarHawk surmised that the scout may have been sent because they intended to raid the Camp. An audacious mission to free captured men.

There had been such exploits in other regions across the world since the end of the Gender Wars, but not many lately. Man-brutes had become content to spend their days avoiding capture and staying alive, as men, at least a little while longer.

Men possess more physical strength than we, yes, and they always shall, the famous elder mother, Sparrow, had written ages ago, but they also will forever possess the mind of boys. Lovesick boys  – and that will be there undoing. They cannot resist the scent of a woman.

That was what drove this brute, StarHawk decided, he was lovesick. Lovesick for her. And she also knew that she could use his “sickness” to her advantage.

“So – so you love me?” StarHawk said. 

The scout reddened, smiled. “Y-yes,”  he said. “I – I love you.”

StarHawk knew that because of that affection, she was safe. A soundless, secret spell could now be cast to make the scout do whatever she wanted; to help her find his tribe so that it could be destroyed.

But the problem was, StarHawk had no idea how to respond to the prospect of a man’s love. She had never been with a man, had never even cared to read about how women and men had interacted, romantically or otherwise, in the olden, dark days when  men ruled the lives of women. She knew what sex was, of course, in a clinical, textbook sense. Women had vaginas, men penises, which when erect, penetrate the former and, upon orgasm of the latter, squirt out the fluid – semen, containing sperm – which, when coupled with the female egg, caused babies to be conceived and, after nine months of shackled misery on the part of the woman, a child is born. But all that was unnecessary now, and under the Law, illegal. Babies could be made, synthetically, without the need for men. Two women – she-mates – could petition for a child and, if approved, they would become the parents of a little girl. Thus, men had become obsolete and, as First General Hera had promised, would soon become extinct.

“Then,” StarHawk said to the scout. “Kiss me.”

She had heard sometime ago that the most powerful spells could be worked upon a man through the agency of a kiss.

The scout’s eyes widened and, after a moment, his mouth opened and came toward her. His breath stank of a masculine musk, wet soil. She had kissed women, and knew how to do it, but kissing a man was akin to kissing an animal, a dog, a beast. But she let it happen, let him roll his thick, clumsy tongue around her mouth, licking even her teeth. And, all too quickly she felt his penis stiffen under his deer skin leggings.

After a minute or so, the scout seemed out of breath and rolled off to the side of her in a state of some kind of delirium.

“My God!” she heard him whisper. “My God!”

“Are you alright?”

He laughed, breathless. After a time, he asked:  “Can I have another?”

StarHawk shrugged, feigning indifference, though after the first terrible moments of his mouth on her mouth, the sensation hadn’t been so bad. Her initial gagging had subsided as the man-brute continued to thrust his tongue deep into her mouth, and his dog breath ceased to offend her.  

He rolled to her and they kissed again. His arms wrapped around her shoulders and she found herself pressing her hips into his crotch. He was a handsome man-brute with long, dark hair and sharp, high cheekbones. Though she was his height, his thick, powerful shoulders and arms engulfed her frame within his own.

The kiss persisted until she felt herself panting. It was the same feeling she sometimes experienced when kissing a women, only now she was thrilled by the touch of his erect penis rubbing through the crotch of her running suit.

“Have you ever been with a man?” she heard him ask.

“Have you, with a woman?” she panted.

“Only in my wildest dreams,” he said.

“Well,” she gasped. “Pretend you are dreaming.”

It was over too fast. Her first time; and his.  Once, StarHawk been penetrated by a plastic rod plunged inside her by a she-lover. But even that simulation of man-sex had been declared unseemly, an affront to the Sisterhood. And that experience, StarHawk now decided, had not come close to duplicating the secret, sacred abandon she had felt when the scout’s stiff, fleshy member had entered and thrust over and over into her.

It was only later when StarHawk realized that he had ejaculated inside her.

She quickly left him after that, promising to return the following night.

He reached for her as she got to her feet.

“I love you,” he whispered. “What–what is your name?”

She had started to walk up the path when she turned to him and smiled.

“StarHawk,” she told him.

“Sunshine is what you are to me,” he said.

And then she was off, like a jack rabbit out of a trap.

#

She returned the next night, and the night after that, and the days became a week, then a month. She told no one, of course, of her secret, shameful trysts with the man-brute. At times, StarHawk tried to convince herself that she was meeting him only to fulfill her patriotic duty to learn more about his tribe’s intentions. 

“When is your tribe going to move against the Camp?” she asked him toward the end of their second week. “How much time do we have left?”

“The tribe elders are in endless debate,”   he said. “I think they are afraid to do anything. We have all the food we need, and our various pleasures. And though they dream of the return of men into the world of women, deep down they know that we men are defeated. All is lost.”

Hector hung his head and pouted for a time.  StarHawk frowned. The thought of males becoming extinct had come to sadden her. She stroked his head, trying to ease his melancholy.

“So,” she finally asked, “you don’t expect there will ever be a raid?”

Hector shook his head. “No,”  he said. “I don’t.”

He sighed and squinted at StarHawk.

“How many men have been put to death,” he asked her, “or been transformed into women, in our time together?”  .

“Many,”  she said, and thought: both gassed and transformed. Even today, another fifty captured in the hills to the West had been marched in like cattle for slaughter.

Because gassing was quick and cheap, the more expensive and lengthy transformation procedure was less preferred. It started with the injection of hormones so that the man-brute would be made to feel, and appear, sister-like. Weeks later, when the man-brute had grown breasts and lost his sharp, muscular edge, when his facial features had softened, and his body hair had disappeared, so that he no longer had the appearance of a man, his genitals would be surgically repaired removing him from the list of men.

But transformations were rare not only because of the cost and time in performing them. Not just any man–brute would do. A man had to have an innate sense of femininity in the bottom of his soul to be considered a genuine candidate for the procedure.

For her part, StarHawk had never made love to a “she-boy”, the derogatory name some of the sisters had for such changeling creatures.

Hector sighed, again depressed by the thought of the certain demise of his sex. 

#

Three days later, after they had made torrid love again on the soft underbrush in the darkness under the canopy of the stand of tall pines, Hector broke the news that, tomorrow, his tribe was breaking camp and clearing out, heading west somewhere into the mountains. The attack against the Camp had been deemed to be reckless, suicidal.

Completely dismayed by this sudden news, StarHawk clutched at Hector’s arm.

“You can’t leave me,” she pleaded, close to tears.

Hector said nothing, equally distraught by the prospect of losing her, and of losing the experience of sister-sex. His man-lover, a bald, beefy elder by the name of  Dane, had noticed something distant about Hector the last month and had been nagging him about his apparent loss of affection. When he had complained to StarHawk about how his lovemaking sessions with the old brute now served only to sicken him, she told him she felt the same way about SkyBlue, her sometimes she-lover. 

“There must be something we can do,” StarHawk said, “to stay together.”

They thought for a time in the silence of the deep, dark night.

“Listen!”  Hector whispered sharply. “Something is out there – in the brush around us.”

StarHawk frowned. She heard nothing.  Silence, and the wind.

“It’s nothing,” she whispered.

In the next instant, Hector attacked her, rolling over on top of her and pulling at her hair, slapping her face.

“What are you doing?” she screamed.

But another moment later, she heard war-screams of sister-guards coming out of the deep brush. That, she realized, was what Hector had heard. A sister-patrol had found them.

As one of the sisters in the patrol knocked Hector off top of her, and she moved away cowering in the darkness, StarHawk realized that Hector had attacked her in an attempt to save her, to make it look as if she had been jumped by him and was about to be taken captive.

#

BlackCrow, a gruff Sergeant-Sister, an old veteran of the gender wars, debriefed StarHawk in an interrogation cell of the admin building.

“What were you doing out there?” she asked.

“Running,”  she said. “The man-brute jumped me.”

“The patrol sisters said they saw you laying with him,” said the sergeant-sister doubtfully. “Before he attacked.”

“He was trying to have man-sex,” said StarHawk. “I was letting him have his way until I could gain the advantage.”

The sergeant-sister looked unconvinced.

“May I go now?” said StarHawk. “I am exhausted.”

The sergeant-sister pursed her lips in doubt. She had to be careful about making an unjustified accusation. The Captain-Sister was still her superior officer.

“Certainly, M’am,” the sergeant said, after a quick decision. “I have enough for my report.”

#

StarHawk did not sleep that night. She worried over Hector’s treatment, first of all, and whether the attack story would be questioned by the Mother-Superior. Immediately at dawn, she rose, put on her black leather uniform, and went down to the man-brute cells.

“Where is the brute they brought in last night?” she asked. “The one that attacked me.”

With a dubious frown, the guard-sister led StarHawk into the bowels of the damp wing where hundreds of man-brutes, while they were alive, were kept in narrow, stone cells. The cells were mostly empty now. Yesterday, there had been a mass extermination. The remaining men, no more than a dozen, had been deemed suitable for transformation.

As she followed the guard-sister, StarHawk asked:  “Any idea what they intend to do to him?”

“I heard the Mother wants to interrogate him personally,” said the guard-sister with a snicker.”

StarHawk glared at the guard-sister, and continued following her into the damp, musty empty cellblock. Finally, she stopped at Hector’s cell, and left StarHawk alone with him.

StarHawk peered through the small barred window of the cell. Hector was sitting on a narrow, stone bunk with a hopeless look on his face.

“Don’t worry, love,” she whispered. “I’ll protect you.”

He nodded, but remained uncertain, dazed.  Finally, he looked up.

“I attacked you -,”

“I know,” she said, and blew him a kiss. “And I will always love you for it.”

#

First thing after reveille, StarHawk went up to see the Mother-Superior. She narrated the false details of her assault by the man-brute and spoke proudly of the sister-patrol’s rescue.

The Mother-Superior nodded. 

“The doc-sister tells me that he’s a tip-top specimen. Very handsome.”

“I found him disgusting, Mother,” said StarHawk. “Like all men.”

“Let’s cut the crap, Sister-Captain.” The Mother-Superior’s look was hard, mean. “I know what happened. You weren’t attacked by a man-brute. You fell in love with one.”

The interrogation ended swiftly as StarHawk tearfully broke down and admitted everything to the Mother-Superior, relieved to finally unburden herself of the shame of having fallen in love with a man-brute.

Her head stayed down after she had confessed.

“Now, perhaps you will not judge me so harshly,”  said the Mother-Superior, “for my attraction to man-flesh.”

StarHawk nodded glumly.

“What are you going to do to me?” she asked, looking up. “What is to be my punishment? Court-martial, certainly.  Dishonorable discharge. It’s what I deserve.”

The Mother-Superior shrugged.

 "Due to your – ah, liaison with the man-brute,” she said, “we were able to follow him and locate his tribe.” She smiled brightly. “A sister patrol took it out last night just before your, ah, rescue. Fifty man-brutes killed.”

“How did you learn of my indiscretion?” StarHawk asked.

“From your current she-lover,” said the Mother-Superior. “What is her name?”

“SkyBlue,” droned StarHawk.

“She suspected you were having an affair with another sister,” continued the Mother-Superior, “so she followed you one night about a week ago when you went on one of your runs down Kairn Hill. She was shocked when she saw you meet the man-brute and fall into his arms.” The Mother-Superior’s eyes brightened as she smiled. “The poor sister threw up after what she saw: you and the man-brute doing something she had only heard whispered about by old veterans.”  The Mother-Superior paused a moment and sniggered. “Having intercourse.” 

 “After the young sister composed herself,” the Mother-Superior continued, “she returned to the Camp and reported her observations to me.”

“I am so ashamed, Mother,” said StarHawk. 

Mother-Superior squinted at her.

“Don’t be,” she said harshly. “The old laws against fornication with the man-brutes were written when men still dominated women. Now, they are mere playthings.”

There was a long pause between them before StarHawk realized that the Mother-Superior intended to impose no disciplinary sanction upon her. She also saw that the Mother-Superior’s indiscretions had been, ultimately, meaningless.

“You are dismissed, Captain-Sister,” said the Mother-Superior. “Go and get some sleep. When you wake up, you must supervise another shipment of man-brutes coming in.” She sighed. “Will it never end?”

StarHawk’s eyes narrowed. She tried not to look directly at the Mother-Superior but could not help herself.

“And, Hector,” she asked sheepishly. “Is he to be gassed?”

The Mother-Superior smiled. “No,” she said. “He is too handsome for that.”

That is when StarHawk realized how she was to be punished.

“I am saving him for interrogation,” the Mother-Superior added with a smile.

# # #