This section covers the inclusion of Mike and disturbing news.
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Someone In, Something Out
They all sensed Mike as he approached along the corridor. They felt his mixed feelings of trepidation and anticipation. He announced himself to the door twenty seconds before 14:29. He knew he was early and waited relatively patiently. As the door opened at 14:29, his eyes were greeted by Kerstin in all her loveliness.
The immediately following proceedings are not included in this transmission. A separate transmission is available that includes the scenes showing how Michael Smith joined the crew. It may be obtained by requesting Sharing with Friends from your video entertainment supplier. Viewers who wish this sequence to be included in chronological order in this program should say Friends and supply the appropriate identity code now.
Mike was happy to join the crew. He did not discover that the show had been organised just for his benefit until sometime later. As the resident surgeon at the Club he was able to avoid any references to the apparent age of the other residents in his reports. He arranged with processor simulations to show how each of the members of the crew should age on a monthly basis. The Commander's collection of holograms provided a rich source of ageing data. Each member of the crew received a set of processor generated holos to show how they should gradually change their appearances.
The members of the crew were aware that their postings could change after Undepoldus had left. They prepared for the day when they would split up. Rachel thought that she would stay because of her role as Annie MacDuff 2. Mike had spent eight years in space before arriving at the club just before George. He did not think that he would be posted for some while because every Club retained a resident surgeon. Gurprit expected to stay in charge of communications and security. He had several connections with non-Spacer security organisations that the Spacers League would like to retain for a while. Martha, Sil, Jane and Lan Fang had no special reasons to stay at the Club. They could be posted at any time. Leonov and Ivan could ask to keep one of them for some reason or another but that still left three who were vulnerable. George and Kerstin's roles were already decided and they knew that when Boku joined the crew they could form a small group of three at the College. If Gurprit and Mike became partners with two of the girls, Leonov and Ivan could not easily justify asking for one of the others to stay at the club. The Spacers League would only recognise sisters as co-partners. Gurprit and Mike could not think of any known Spacer protocol to keep the four girls at the Club together with them.
The following day everyone assembled in Kerstin's cabin. Gurprit provided everyone with a special communicator based on Anita Kohlvits' design. Gurprit arranged that each communicator would only respond to the voiceprint of the crew member who owned it. The communicators were disguised as holo frames that could be used to hold treasured images. If any communicator was called, it would record the voice message it received. The voice message could only be heard by the owner of the communicator by asking if any messages had arrived. On receiving this request the communicator would play a random selection of words that would have to be repeated by the owner. This was included to prevent the use of recordings of the owner's voice being used to activate the message replay system.
Gurprit also produced simple codes that were innocent phrases
that could be used to convey messages to other members of the
crew via vidcom. These were sentences like. "I haven't heard
from X lately," and "How is Y doing these days?"
If member of the crew was mentioned, it would indicate an urgent
communicator message had been sent. If the name was not a member
of the crew, it would indicate that a non-urgent communicator
message had been sent.
After a lot of experimentation the crew found that they could communicate basic ideas mentally over 100 metres and see what the other person could see at 150 metres. They could just detect each other if they were both consciously trying to make contact at 600 metres.
Undepoldus had continued with his concerts in the evenings while he checked and tested various parts of his launch vehicle during the day. On Saturday 17th April George and Kerstin arranged to meet Undepoldus after his concert. When Undepoldus arrived he knew that George and Kerstin had things on their minds. Marita was just as anxious to know what the problem was.
Undepoldus asked. "What is worrying you two? You seem
George said. "We now have a crew of thirteen bodies and fourteen personalities. Kerstin and I think that all of us are now semi-immortal. You gave us the power to make others live as long as we can. We can change our looks to match our apparent ages for a while. Then one day we will have to leave the Spacers League to prevent anyone from discovering that we are not ageing normally. Our other problem is that we will be split up after you leave. Kerstin and I will be going to the Spacers College. Ivan and Leonov can expect to stay at the Club with their wives for some time to come. Mike, Rachel and Gurprit expect to be able to stay at the Club for a while. That leaves Martha, Sil, Lan Fang and Jane who could be posted anywhere when you have gone. We would like Boku to join our crew. If she does, there will be three of us at the College, seven at the Club, and four anywhere. Now you know what we are thinking about Undepoldus."
Undepoldus said. "Don't worry George about keeping your secret from the League. They know all about you. You have had a spy in your crew but did not know it. My Marita is now continually in contact with her counterpart in Kerstin. I know how you wanted me to be able to see all my friends again when I came back. You were right in that I did not want you to grow old before we met again. You did not know that your plan to travel out further in space was a problem that the League has been trying to solve for years.
The fact that I had saved Marita's personality was not a very well kept secret. You did not mourn her as if she had died. Her voice was discovered in vidcom records through the random checks that are always done nowadays to detect snoopers. This aroused suspicions. One of her students was asked to call her and she answered, forgetting where she was. By then it was too late. She was seen apparently live and well after her body had been certified dead. The voiceprint matched. Then Admiral Chang started checking and soon discovered that there was also a Marita with you, Kerstin. He wondered what other secrets you had and discovered that Ivan and Leonov were suddenly younger. It was known that they had visited me. Then he asked me directly if I could prolong human lives. As you know, I cannot lie. He then asked me whose lives I had prolonged. He then asked me what other attributes I had been able to pass on. He asked me if the two Marita's could communicate with each other. That led him to ask Marita to tell him what was happening with your group. He stressed that long lived Spacers would be a great asset to the League. They would need to be protected so that their secret would never be discovered. He offered to come to see me personally so that I could verify that he was being truthful to me. I told him that I accepted his word. Then he asked me if I could persuade you to pass on longevity to Boku and Marita's ex-students. I knew that he also wanted it for himself and Annie McDuff but did not say so. He asked me how long you two could live. I said that I did not know. I said that your ageing processes were slowed to about one twentieth of normal judging from Marita's observations. I told him that you could be killed as easily as any other humans so your longevity depended on avoiding accidents. He asked how long I could live and I told him that I did not know directly. I said that there would be little point in my ability to save Marita's personality if I did not live for a long time. He thanked me for the information and promised that he would treat it as one of the most important secrets he knew. He suggested that if all the members of the council were treated, they would have a very good reason for keeping it secret too. I said that the gift was in the possession of you two. You could use it or withhold it as you saw fit. That is how the matter stands now. You will be consulted about those who already have longevity and your proposals for inter-stellar space travel. When the Council was informed about your skills, it decided to treat all your group as partners who should not be split up unless there is a pressing reason to do so. They know that Kerstin is doubly pregnant and that your children when they are born will also have longevity. They anticipate that Sarah and Eva will show signs of pregnancy soon. I sense that you are no longer worried about your situation now."
Marita said. "I am sorry that I betrayed your secrets without you knowing. My Kerstin half can tell me what is happening most of the time but I cannot tell her anything unless we are very close like this. My Kerstin half can tell white lies but I am like Undepoldus now. I cannot lie or withhold requested information unless divulging the information would contravene the Asimovian type programming that Undepoldus has. I suggest that Mike checks Eva and Sarah for pregnancy. If they are pregnant, he will have to check that Ivan and Leonov are the respective fathers. Otherwise you, George, will be the prime suspect. I would be pleased if you were a father four times over. There should be a lot more like you around."
Marita continued: "Kerstin, you were a really impressive devil. It was the sort of thing that I would have done if I had a body and your powers. Your performance with Mike was a masterpiece. It was a tour de force when you switched between being human and a she devil and back again while you were sharing with Mike. I could feel what you were doing but I could not see you except when you looked at yourself through George's eyes. Your control was fantastic. I admired the way you separated without changing the way Mike felt. You performed magnificently. You know what I am like. It was almost as if you had put on the show for me."
Kerstin said. "Thank you for your sweet compliments Marita. I was helped a lot by the rest of the crew. They looked after Mike while I changed and when we separated. It was very much a team effort. Sarah prompted me to use hellish instead of heavenly when I was talking to Mike. It was the ideal way of describing things. I am delighted that you saw most of the show. It was great fun to pretend to be so different while knowing that it was so easy to look the part. Everyone saw what happened. Even Leonov saw everything through Ivan's eyes from his office."
Marita said. "George, what can I say? I thought that your presentation with Mike was brilliant. If such a creature as the devil existed, he would have been delighted by the way you represented him. If I had not known what you and Kerstin can do, I would have believed that the devil was real. I know that all the crew used their power to assist you. Even so, the way you made Mike into an underworld creature was better than the best trick effects in a vidcom play. It was real magic. It is a memory that I will replay over and over again. Mike was so impressed that he accepted that he had to share with you all at least once and with a lot of you twice. You certainly gave him an initiation ceremony that he will never forget, even if he lives for a thousand years. My sweet George, I was proud of you. I felt like a mother watching her child perform brilliantly in a school play. It was altogether the best show I have ever seen, and you, my sweetheart, were the star performer. Some day I will show it to Mike. He was such a good sport that he deserves to see something of what happened to him."
George said. "Now I know that our secret is no longer hidden from the Council, all of us will have to rethink our plans. I am sure that Kerstin and I will have great fun imparting longevity as we share with all those Undepoldus has mentioned. I am glad that you liked the way Kerstin and I had fun with Mike. As Kerstin said, it was very much a team effort. When you see the rest of the crew, you must congratulate them for the show."
Marita said. "I have just suggested to Undepoldus a way that you, Kerstin and the crew could have a lot more fun. The four of us could work out ways of making the inside of this place look like hell. Then you and Kerstin could play your parts again with everyone who comes here. There will be a lot of sharing going on and you know how much Undepoldus and I would love that. Undepoldus is sure that Boku could be helped to grow new hands. She would not need them if she had powers like you. I am sure that she would love the chance to be able to disguise herself by changing her body as well as changing her clothes.
I can just imagine the fun we could have with Tun Wong and Annie. I know that she is a Spacer first and queen second. She would welcome the chance to disguise herself when she was meeting Tun Wong. If you and Kerstin agree, Undepoldus and I will call Tun Wong. We will tell him that he, Annie, Anne-Marie and Boku will be first on our list. My ex-students should be next and then the rest of the Council. When all have been treated we can discuss what should be done next. What do you two think?
Kerstin said. "That sounds great to me Marita. We have had a sort of rehearsal with Mike. Now we know how to organise a better initiation ceremony. I think that it would be better if my version of you made the call. Tun Wong would not know the difference. If my Marita is asked questions, she does not have to tell all that she knows. In that way we could organise a much bigger and better surprise for all those who come to be initiated."
Marita said. "Undepoldus can patch a vidcom link to you as me if there is a return call. Whoever calls will not know the difference. He has just called Leonov to ask all members of the crew who are not busy to come here as soon as possible. He said that it was not an emergency. Undepoldus will act like a vidcom to call Tun Wong for you. Be me when he answers."
Kerstin said. "OK Marita."
Kerstin's Marita said. "Processor, link to Admiral Chang Tun Wong. Big-Mar 207"
The Admiral's face appeared as it would on a vidcom screen. He said. "Marita, it is good to see you. Have you got any more news for me?"
Marita answered. "George and Kerstin have been told that you know about their parties. They invite you, Annie, Boku and Anne-Marie to come to their next party when you can arrange a suitable date. It will be a costume party and costumes will be provided. Please do not ask me any more Tun Wong because they want to give you all a surprise."
Tun Wong said. "I must ask you one question that will not make you spoil the surprise. Annie and I had planned to meet tomorrow night. If we brought Boku and Anne-Marie with us to London tomorrow night, would that be too early?"
Kerstin's Marita said. "That would be excellent Tun Wong. I will tell them to expect the four of you at Undepoldus House at 20:00 local."
Tun Wong said. "Thank you Marita, I look forward to the party. I like surprises. Clearing."
Undepoldus Marita asked. "How do you plan to deal with the four of them Kerstin?"
Kerstin said. "I'm not sure yet. I have some ideas for a sequence of events. These can be modified or embellished as the crew and I think necessary. Most of the crew will hide in the kitchen. George and I will welcome the four of them looking normal. Then we will tell them that they should go into the lounge one by one to receive their costumes blindfolded so that they will not know what they look like. I think that we can made them feel as if they have not been changed. They should stay in the lounge blindfolded behind a screen when they have been changed so that the next one in will not know what to expect. When all four have been changed in appearance one of the crew will appear as a guide. They will be told that they can only receive their gifts in their present form. Anything that can be thought of should be used to keep them in the lounge while this room is decorated to look as much like hell as possible. Then they will be told that they must come into the room one at a time to receive a gift. A settee can be improvised as a sort of altar. When the candidate is lying on the altar, the crew will supply phantom comfort until he or she faints. The blindfold is removed and the candidate is made to dream that he or she is in hell and has been changed. The candidate will dream that he or she is sharing with the devil. George can deal with the girls and I will deal with Tun Wong. When the candidate wakes up he or she will discover that the dream is real. I think that each of them will accept his or her new form when told of the conditions. The new form must be retained to share comfort with unprecedented pleasure for the next 500 years. If the candidate accepts the shape with the pleasure, he or she will be given the gift immediately. Then whichever of us has not shared with the candidate will change gender in order to share again. The candidate will then be given the maximum pleasure possible while staying conscious for a few minutes. Then the candidate will be made to go to sleep. The candidates will stay asleep until all have been given the gift. The four will be told that they are on trial. To keep the gift they must share with all of us. When they have shared enough, they will be made to sleep again. They will wake up with their normal bodies and find themselves surrounded by the crew. As an embellishment we can make Tun Wong link with Annie while he is sitting beside her as I did with Leonov and Sarah. Boku and Anne-Marie could be given giant lollipops for a while."
Marita said. "I like your ideas Kerstin but I would like to be a bit naughty with them too. You remember when the girls played like little boys? I would like to see what happened if they were made to grow like Pinochio's nose unless they played with themselves to stop growing. We all know how it felt to be so big when Lan Fang showed the way."
George said. "Why not make them all both at the same time? Boku would have problems if she had to use her hands."
Kerstin said. "I have been wondering about Boku's hands. She must be persuaded to remove them before the fun begins. We must think of a way to make her think that it could be dangerous if she used them in an uncontrolled way."
Marita said. "Arrange that she is the last to be changed. Her stumps could be converted for a more pleasurable purpose. That way she could keep the three others happy for a while."
Kerstin said. "We could tell them to prove their powers by using phantom comfort on each other in pairs. The two that succumb drop out and the two left fight it out with each other."
George said. "I like the idea that they should compete in some way to prove themselves. They could all be tested at once against existing crew members."
Marita said. "I like that George. They could try twice. The first crew members should be prepared to give way after a while to give the candidates confidence."
Kerstin said. "We could also run a competition for the best and most artistic use of their tails."
Jane, Sil, Gurprit and Lan Fang arrived. They had sensed the topic of discussion as they approached Undepoldus House.
Sil said. "We could test them for longest range or accuracy
in direction. I wouldn't mind having a go at that myself."
Jane said. "Whatever we do, it has got to be silly and fun. We want them to be as mad and addicted as we are. In a few hours we want them to feel that our way is as near perfect as it can be. Now I think of the possibilities I feel desperate for a share right now. Are there any volunteers?"
Kerstin said. "Jane, behave yourself. We can't have sharing while we are in the middle of a serious discussion. If you are that desperate, grow yourself something to suck on."
Gurprit said. "Jane, it is no good while you are wearing a formfit. Please be patient. Most of the others will be here soon. Then we will all know why we have been called here. I can guess but I sense that Undepoldus wants us all to be together to hear the news."
Lan Fang said. "I have the feeling that everyone will be here soon. I sense that several things are best not mentioned for the moment."
Undepoldus said. "Those you want to see will be here soon."
Gurprit said unnecessarily. "Here they come now."
The rest of the crew arrived, knowing that they would not have been called together unless something very important had happened.
Undepoldus said. "I am pleased to see you all here. I
have some very important news for you all. Firstly, the Spacers
League Council is aware of your new abilities. The Council welcomes
the changes that have occurred in you. Secondly, all of you are
now regarded as partners who should not be separated for trivial
reasons. Thirdly, the Council would like more Spacers to have
the same attributes as you. Fourthly, four Spacers will join your
company tomorrow night in an event that will be something between
an initiation ceremony and a party of the sort that you prefer.
Kerstin, Marita and George have been planning what will happen.
Now I must elaborate on the first point.
It was noticed that Marita's death was not mourned significantly by any of you. Then my Marita was called by vidcom and she answered. From then it was discovered that I could provide longevity and that I had passed this power on to George and Kerstin. This power was corrupted by my addiction to the pleasure that humans have when sharing comfort. My addiction has been passed on to all of you and will be passed on by George and Kerstin to all others who will benefit from the gift. The power includes the ability to heal all human ailments and to modify non-skeletal parts of human bodies. These modifications can be temporary or permanent as the individual desires. I was not originally aware that you have been given a version of my sensitivity to human thoughts and emotions. This was discovered when my Marita could share thoughts and experiences with her copy in Kerstin. This does not work at the same range in reverse. Kerstin's Marita did not know that my Marita knew everything that she knew. My Marita has to tell the whole truth about what she knows when asked, as I have to. The secret of your abilities could be passed on to trusted individuals without contravening my programming. Unknown to herself or Kerstin, Kerstin's Marita was a spy. All activities that you shared with her or Kerstin are now recorded in the memory of my Marita. Like me she has a perfect memory so she can replay anything she has ever seen or experienced."
Undepoldus continued: "Michael, you went through was seemed like a traumatic experience Thursday night. It was staged in a way that appealed to your friends' sense of humour. I can tell you now that your friends staged an unrehearsed performance that was the equal of any vidcom plays I have encountered. Only George used any props. The rest just used their bodies. I know from Marita that you felt an indescribable mixture of pleasure and horror during the proceedings. I know that it was all meant to be fun and I sense that you see it that way now. I also sense that you enjoy your new powers very much. Tomorrow night you will have the chance to participate in a similar event. Four Spacers will undergo an experience comparable to yours. For the benefit of all of you I can say that they will be Chang Tun Wong, Annie MacDuff, Anne-Marie van Wijk and Boku Adedeyo. Chang Tun Wong expects that he may be given longevity with the others. He does not know what other powers he may receive nor how he will receive them. Michael, I welcome you as a now long lived friend to the company. When Kerstin, George and my Marita have summarised the provisional plans for tomorrow night's event, I think that your suggestions should be taken note of. You can tell the others what you thought was effective and what you think can be improved. I will be performing a concert tonight but my Marita will see everything that happens through Kerstin. She will also feel everything that Kerstin feels. I will be able to share the pleasure too and I look forward to tomorrow night with eager anticipation."
Mike said. "Although I was the focus of Thursday afternoon's frolics, I think that it was done well. It was the most delightful nightmare I have ever had. If I mentally block out the images, it was the perfect dream for an active Spacer. At one point I almost believed in religion because the vision of hell that I saw was a close match to the most horrible illustrations I had seen. I felt as if I were in what the religions call heaven because I was experiencing perfect pleasure. Then I thought that the old religions had got their ideas mixed up. Hell was the best place to be if one had the choice. Then I was told I would have to endure 500 years of it. My purgatory was to experience the same pleasure time after time, day after day. Who could resist such purgatory? I could not. Then I found that those who were persecuting me with pleasure were mostly Spacers I could recognise. I will treasure the memory of that delightful nightmare for the rest of my days. From what I have been told since then, I will remember it for a very long time. If I had not been nearly frightened to death by what I saw, it would not have been so effective. I congratulate all who took part."
Mike's speech was greeted by conventional applause and a lot of mental good wishes because he had been such a good sport.
Undepoldus Marita summarised the provisional plan for Sunday evening for everyone. A few more suggestions were made to add to the horror and the fun. Mike's suggestions were among some of the most outrageous. He said the George should be better endowed and have a smaller version of the devil's face on the end. He also suggested that the girls should be so well endowed that they would have to use their hands to stop their acquisitions dragging on the ground. He said he was thinking of the way non-Spacer brides carried their dresses to stop them dragging on the ground.
Marita showed him scenes from earlier frolics he had missed as well as excerpts from his own event. He was enchanted with the way that the group enjoyed playing childish games with their adult abilities.
The next section covers the addition of many more members to the crew.
Viewers familiar with this subject may pass on to the following section.
Please select PASS or CONTINUE.