FREEWORLD

Chapter 11


Janica groaned, opened her eyes tentatively, and squeezed them shut again. Too bright.

The ground underneath her made her skin itch. She was naked, still. That part wasn't surprising. With effort, she pushed herself into a sitting position.

She was in an open field, a meadow, covered in some sort of vegetation like lettuce.

Suddenly she remembered where she had been before, where she would have assumed she would still be. "Mig!" Janica spun around in her seated position, and saw her sister lying behind her, apparently unconscious. And as naked as Janica was. Janica shook her. "Mig! Wake..."

Her hand flew to her mouth. The wonder of being able to speak hit her.

Megan stirred groggily, and rose up on one elbow, squinting at Janica. "Janny? Where are..." She gasped, her eyes wide, her hand flying to her mouth in a gesture identical to Janica's. "We can talk!!"

Janica nodded. "It seems so. Mig... Here, let me help." She took Megan's elbow as Megan tried to sit up further.

Megan looked around herself, mystified. "We're outside! Janny, how did we get out?"

"You don't know either? I didn't do anything. I just woke up here."

Megan's face went suddenly bright red, and she spun her head away from her sister's nudity. "Janny, I am so sorry. I can't believe..."

Janica waved off the apology. "No, I know it wasn't you. I felt the same thing. Somebody messed with us. I would never... you know." She looked away as well, feeling her own face flush.

She looked immediately back at Megan again, all of the questions she had wanted to ask for so long rushing back to her mind. "Mig, what are you doing here? I was on Aurora. We'd just landed, and then the alarms went off, some kind of gas. I felt groggy..." She looked wide eyed at Megan. "Am I back on Earth? Did they bring me back? How did I not wake up for the return trip? And... how did you get grown up?" She glanced at Megan's breasts. "I mean really grown up." She looked away quickly once more, embarrassed again. She had spent so much time recently tasting those breasts. Looking at the ground, she said, "You're fifteen. No, sixteen, sorry. Or you were when I left. How old are you now?" There was never a way to tell with any adult.

Megan looked stunned. "You don't remember anything??"

Janica shrugged helplessly. "Not between being gassed on Aurora and then waking up in that room, when you came in. You didn't say where we are. Earth?"

Megan shook her head, wide-eyed. "Look, this will be a lot to take in." She looked off into the distance. "We're on Freeworld, not Earth..."

"Freeworld?"

"That's what they call it here. The world you landed on with the Hercules cult. They got out. They rigged it so that gas went off, the sleeping pods deactivated, all that. They took over, and settled here." Janica felt Megan's eyes boring into hers. "Janny, that was thirty years ago!"

Janica felt lightheaded. "And h-how..." She breathed slowly, trying not to faint. "And you? How did you get here?"

Megan sighed, looking bitter. "Space Force wouldn't go rescue you. They put the wormhole off limits, because they assumed it was unstable. I went to the Academy, got my commission, my grades got me into the Research branch. I studied particle physics, and found a new particle associated with wormholes that made it possible to track you." Megan smiled. "That's where a lot of those years went. I'm sorry I didn't work faster. Anyway, they still wouldn't let me come find you. So I stole a ship."

Janica gawked at her. "You what??"

Megan looked exasperated. "Janny, that was the only way I could get here!"

"Oh, no, Mig, I didn't mean... I am so, SO grateful you came for me. But I'm so worried for you! Your career is over!" She leaned towards Megan and hugged her, thinking how odd it was to talk about her little sister having a "career."

Suddenly, that feeling, that tingling between her legs, was back. It had been gone, and she realized now she hadn't been conscious of it being gone until it returned, though it was in much weaker form than it had been all during... that time. Holding Megan, it was hard, very hard, to stop herself from going farther. She let go of Megan quickly and scrambled away backwards on her hands. "I'm sorry."

Megan smiled suddenly and made a thumbs up sign. Janica grinned back and returned it.

Megan's smile grew in warmth. "That's how I knew you were you, when I got into that room. You did the thumb."

Janica, puzzled, asked, "Who else would I be?"

Megan shook her head. "I'll get to that. Anyway, don't worry about what just happened. I know what you felt. I felt it too." Her flushed face was back. Janica noticed Megan's nipples were suddenly very erect. She looked away again, quickly.

Megan sighed. "Janny, they did something to us. They messed with our heads, like you said, and they probably took your memories away of what's happened since you landed, too. I didn't know they could do that, but it wouldn't surprise me. So that explains the big... blank spot. Thirty years of it."

"The Hercules cult? They did this to me? To us? And that's who those men were that kept coming in?" She shook her head. "It's so weird, I can't remember any of their faces."

"I know. Neither can I. And yeah, it's the Hercules, but now they call themselves gods. Olympian gods."

"What??"

"That's what they call their big headquarters, Olympus. And they've taken names of gods. They've got descendants now, farmers, shopkeepers, and so on, but the original men are the ones in charge."

"Men run everything? What about the women?"

A whizzing, buzzing sound seemed to fly past. A moment later came a loud, echoing crack.

The combination struck a memory in Janica. She spun in place and gasped. A man was standing, a hundred yards away, holding something that looked, at this distance, like a piece of thin tubing.

Janica whirled around to shout at Megan, "Projectile weapon! That guy is shooting at us!"

Megan was already nodding and scrambling to her feet. She looked around desperately, saw a thick, extensive stand of trees a few hundred yards in the opposite direction, and pointed to them. "That way! Run!" She took hold of Janica's hand to pull her along for a few steps, then let go.

Janica, running, shouted out, "Mig! Zig-zag! Keep changing direction!" Battlefield wisdom from old Academy classes came back to her.

Megan was already doing that, and shouted back, "I know!"

There was a second gunshot, from farther away. Janica didn't hear the bullet this time, but tried to run still faster, not wanting to give the shooter too many more chances.

Janica dearly wished for a bra. The bouncing of her breasts wasn't an aid to running. And she couldn't possibly have felt more vulnerable, running from deadly danger naked.

She entered the woods, and heard Megan coming in behind her. She turned in the direction in which the trees seemed thickest, still hearing Megan trail her. She dove to the ground behind a small bluff, and seconds later Megan hit the ground a few feet away.

Janica spun towards her. "Mig! You okay? You hit?"

Megan shook her head emphatically, and put her fingers across her lips. "Shhh." She whispered, still trying to catch her breath. "No, missed."

They waited several minutes, breathing hard, listening for sounds of pursuit.

Megan looked around, and whispered, "I think he lost track of us, and this is a big enough wood that he's probably not sure where to start looking."

Janica nodded, then raised her hands quizzically and whispered in return, "What the hell, Mig? Why is somebody shooting at us? I wouldn't be surprised if they want to recapture us, except I don't know how we could have got out to begin with without their help. And why with a bullet-thrower? Is that all the farther their technology is?"

Megan smiled ruefully. "Oh, no. I know they've got better. And you'd better know they've got sleeping darts, if they wanted us alive. They don't. Those shots were to kill."

"But why? And why with something so ancient?"

Megan lay down flat and buried her face against her hands. "Sport. This is for fun. They're hunting us." She looked up. "And that's why they let us go from that room. They got tired of that game, and started a new one."

Janica felt very puzzled. "How is it you know so much about them? They can't know all that on Earth."

Megan sighed heavily. "I got caught, Janny. They had me in custody for a couple of days -- well, really longer, I think, I was unconscious for part of it -- before you and I met in that room. And they told me stuff. Dion. Dionysus. He told me. He's the 'god of fun.' He told me what happened to Aurora, among other things." Megan looked at Janica and hesitated. "It's really all blank? Everything after Aurora landed?"

"Mig, I'm telling you, to me it's like I just woke up in that room, and then you came in." She tried to read Megan's expression. "Why?"

Megan looked down. "I... I'm glad you don't remember... I mean, I know it's hard for you, and really confusing. But Dion told me... things they made you do. After they took over. You and the others." Megan closed her eyes tightly, and shivered. Then she shot a look back at Janica. "Don't ask, okay? I shouldn't have even mentioned it. Don't ever ask, please?"

"Mig, I need to know about the others."

Megan shook her head quickly. "I'm sorry. Really. I shouldn't have said anything. And I don't know anything about where the others are now, or what happened to them. I swear." She reached out and took Janica's hand. "I'm glad you're here with me now. And that you don't remember." Looking back in the direction from which they'd come, with an air of wanting desperately to change the subject, she said, "Anyway, Dion is in charge of... entertainment. I'm sure this is his latest idea. Hunting us."

"To kill us? To kill me, finally, after thirty years? Why now?"

Megan shook her head. "Janny, Dion did tell me things, but I still don't get how these men think. I don't think we can figure out an answer to that."

"You came here in a ship. Can we get to it?"

Megan bit her lip. "It's damaged. I think it could still get us home, but they'd be watching it. That's how I got caught to begin with. If they're not actively watching it now, with us on the loose -- which seems pretty unlikely -- they'd probably still have an alarm system. They'd get there before we could lift off. And by now they must have stripped it of everything useful, especially the computers, to see what information we had about them."

"So you've been thinking about it."

"Uh-huh."

"If they've left the ship intact, can we get a distress signal home?"

Megan shook her head. "The radio is one of the things damaged."

"Well, we still need to get to the ship. But if they're watching it..." Janica looked at the ground for a time. "What do you think of this? We go to the ship, go up to it and touch it, then get away from it and watch to see if someone comes?"

Megan nodded slowly. "But we'd better wait a few days, at least. Maybe a week. They might think we've given up on it by that time." She looked around. "They want us dead. But we don't have to die. This is a pretty lush planet, if you don't mind being vegetarian. We can live off the land. If we can get away, if we can keep them from finding us indefinitely."

Janica nodded. "Let's wait couple of weeks, then, not just one, before we try for the ship. How long are the days here?"

"Almost Earth normal. Okay, we wait. Count fourteen days."

Janica nodded. "The first thing we need..." She suddenly looked to her left, where the sky was getting darker. On the other side, she saw that the sun was setting. Well, the star. "It's dusk, Mig. We'd better settle in. I think the hunt is probably over for the day. Unless they've got night-vision. Do they?"

"I'm sure they do, but I have a feeling they won't use it. I'm sure there are very strict rules for this. If the sun's going down, I think we're okay through the night."

Janica looked around. "Do you hear any running water? We could use some."

Megan sat silently, listening, then shook her head. "Can you make it to morning?"

Janica nodded. "I think I'm okay, as far as that goes. A little hungry and thirsty, but nothing major." She lay back along the ground. "I think the night will be warm enough, even without clothes. It's hot now, and kind of humid."

"Okay. And like I said, I think we're safe from hunters, for now." Megan stretched out a few feet from Janica. The light was nearly gone now. "Night, hon."

Janica, as she lay still, felt she was missing something. As soon as the stirring in her crotch began again, she knew what it was. Oh, shit, she thought. Shit, shit...

"Janny?" Megan's voice was uncertain, nervous.

Janica hesitated, then said, "I know."

"Why... why is it still happening? I mean, it's not like before, but you feel it, don't you?"

Janica was silent as she thought. "We... how long were we in that place? About a month?"

After a few seconds, Megan said, "I think so. It seems like a lot more, and it seems like a lot less. I mean, it went fast, but seemed to be forever too. You know? But I guess a month, that sounds about right."

"So..." Janica paused again, deciding how to say it. "We probably... did that with each other... two hundred times. Maybe three hundred. That many orgasms. Really mind-whacking ones. I never had anything like that before. You know what they felt like. Now they've taken whatever was making us do that out of us, but..."

"We've kind of internalized it?"

"Well, it was internal the whole time -- I mean, they did it to us, but they made it so it was inside us. But it's... like a drug. We're kind of..."

"Habituated?"

Another long pause. "Yeah."

"But we can fight it, right? We can want to do something, but we don't have to."

Janica felt relieved. "Exactly. We're adults." She laughed. "You weren't when I left, but you are now."

Megan laughed with her. "Night, Janny."

After about ten minutes, Janica heard Megan clear her throat, then say softly, "Can you sleep?"

Janica realized how very far from any possible sleep she was. A very, very familiar feeling was growing stronger. Her crotch was tingling, her labia swollen, cool from wetness. Her nipples were hard. Her face felt flushed. Her breathing felt tight. "No."

The silence stretched, not suggesting the end of conversation now, but an increasing tension.

I'll say it, thought Janica. I know Mig is about to. "We need to sleep. We have to be as alert as we can be tomorrow. So we need to... make it so we can sleep."

In the darkness, Janica heard Megan roll towards her. "This is just for that, right? So we can sleep after?"

"Yeah." Janica reached to where she thought Megan was, and stroked her hip. The tingling, the wanting, increased.

She felt Megan's fingers stroking her face. "It's not our fault."

"I know," Janica said quickly.

She moved her head forward, and her lips brushed Megan's as they came towards her. She opened her mouth, and let her tongue lick against Megan's. I can't see her, Janica pointed out to herself. I could pretend it's any one of my friends I've been to bed with, or a girl I met in a bar.

Immediately she realized there was no hope of that. Megan smelled a certain way, breathed a certain way, made certain little sounds, did certain things with that tongue. For a month Janica had thought only of Megan, her physical presence, how it felt to touch her body. Except for when the men came, every part of Janica's mind had been absorbed with Megan. She couldn't just turn off that way of thinking and switch it down a different track. Not this soon.

Just this one time, she told herself. We both know why we need to do it right now.

Both of them whimpered with growing arousal, and moved closer together, putting their arms around each other. Janica reached down and softly stroked Megan's vaginal lips. They were almost frictionless.

Janica stopped thinking about the men, the Olympians, the liberties they'd taken with her mind, the thirty years they'd taken away from her, the things they might have done to the crew that Megan wouldn't tell her, the things they'd made her do with her own sister, the fact they were now trying to kill her for sport. She held Megan more tightly, wrapped her legs around her, kissed her harder, and didn't think of anything at all.



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