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Silent Witness - The Arrival
by Leem

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Author’s Note:
Part IV of the Jaskri series was originally intended to be a single, longish story called Silent Witness. On that basis I posted a sneak preview on this page and added little bits to it as time went on. But then I began to realise the story was taking a lot longer than I’d originally planned. The sneak preview had been posted for the better part of a year, which even I could see was a ridiculous situation.

So I decided to split the story into two parts, with a mini-cliffhanger at the end of part one. That way at least the first half of the story would exist in something resembling its complete form.

So here it is: The Jaskri Series Part IVa: Silent Witness - the Arrival. If you think that’s an awkward compromise (and an even more awkward title) - well, so do I but it’s beter than nothing...

Author’s Note Update:
March 2005: I’ve now added a short ending (or “Afterthought”) to the story. It’s not the ending I originally planned: there was originally a whole lot of other stuff that was supposed to happen, but I spent ages trying to figure out how to make it happen in terms of the plot, and in the end I couldn’t. Maybe one day I’ll finally figure it out and the story will be seen in its true glory, but until then this is as near to it as you’re ever going to get so you may as well get used to it. At least the page is now in CSS!!!

The previous story, Vacation in the Park, sets the scene for this one. The focus has now shifted from Jaskri herself to Diann and the people she’s trying to recruit for statue duty. So please give a warm welcome to Yenisei...she’s going to need all the support she can get.

(Oh, and if you were wondering what this kind of frozen vacation would feel like for a man, well I’ll probably explore that in a later story.)

By the way...don’t you just hate stories that keep zigzagging backwards and forwards in time...?

Planet Sornel: The Present
(circa AD
3500 - relatively speaking...)


Nobody knew where the statue had come from. It had simply been found one double-day morning, having appeared the previous truenight (this being that season of Sornel’s year when both suns rose and set side by side, allowing the stars dominion over the night sky). It stood upon a broad flat pedestal at the north-eastern corner of Palace Square, the marble or alabaster image of a beautiful maiden of perhaps twenty years, wearing only a loosely-draped cloth that left one breast and the lower part of both buttocks - not to mention her arms and legs - shockingly bare.

The Imperium had of course immediately declared the statue an obscenity. Workmen attempted to remove it, but it refused to budge. It was almost as if it were attached to an iron rod sunk into the ground.

A reward had been offered for anyone who could identify those responsible for the “desecration” of the square. All licensed artists saw their premises searched for clay models, drawings or any other incriminating evidence. None was found, but a number of artists were arrested and forcefully questioned anyway, in order to demonstrate that the Imperium was not to be trifled with.

Meanwhile Imperial soldiers had cordoned off the statue from public view and attempted to destroy it. First of all one of them had attempted to knock its head off with a sledgehammer. His attack on the statue was surprisingly violent - in truth the statue reminded him of his own daughter and had stirred incestuous feelings of lust which his conscious mind angrily suppressed. But to his pained surprise the hammer had simply rebounded from the statue’s smooth surface. The statue’s face was not even scratched, but the unfortunate soldier’s wrist was broken.

“I don’t like this,” said another man as the injured soldier was led away to the infirmary. “I mean, what on Sornel could survive a blow like that? It ain’t natural, I tell you. It’s like, I dunno, some kind of sorcery or witchcraft or something. You can almost feel an aura or something coming off that statue.”

“That’ll be enough of that kind of talk, soldier,” barked his sergeant. “There’s no such thing as sorcery or witchery, and there ain’t no gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls neither. There’s only one power on Sornel a man has to fear and that’s the power that resides in that filthy great pile of bricks over there.”

By this, he of course meant the magnificent Imperial Palace. No civilian would have dared speak of the Palace in such disrespectful terms, but soldiers were permitted a slight degree of latitude in return for defending the Empire.

“The power to which I refer to, in case you somehow hadn’t guessed, is that of the greatest Empire that Sornel has ever known, in the service of which thereof we are privileged to have the privilege of serving. There will be no more talk of magic and monsters while I’m within earshot, and as far as you lot are concerned, I am never out of earshot. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, Sarge,” the men chorused.

“Right, then. If sledgehammers won’t put a dint in this stone whore, let’s see what a few barrels of black powder will accomplish!”

Planet Tavri, two Earth-months earlier
(relatively speaking)

“I don’t believe it,” said Yenisei, taking another sip of wine.

Her host was a tall, graceful woman who called herself Diann. If half the things Yenisei had heard about Diann were true - and she had no doubt there was a great deal about Diann that certain people did not want to be heard - then she was one of the most remarkable people who ever lived.

“I mean, a girl in a tiny village becoming a living statue in order to save the universe? That has to be the most bizarre story I’ve ever heard. It’s almost as implausible as all these tales of ships disappearing in the Adumreb Tetrahedron. I’m surprised you don’t sell the story to a gossip site on the mindweb.”

“No chance of that,” Diann replied. “It’s been carefully hushed up. The official line is that a small vortex opened up in Quadrant Seven but was quickly contained, and the rumours of a complete collapse of the space-time continuum were nothing but scaremongering.” She took another sip of wine. “I suppose you can’t blame the authorities really. After all, if it hadn’t been for time travel the paradox wouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

“And the girl...Jaskri...was that really true about her being frozen into a statue?”

“Oh, yes. I felt bad about having to do it, but it was the only way to prevent the paradox from destroying the continuum. Of course, at the time I didn’t realise how much physical pleasure she’d experience from the ‘golden lightning’ - the kilo-electron-volt neutrino field that the stasis field generated.”

“But how do you know she’s experiencing pleasure? I thought you said your job was to make sure the time-loop was completed and then leave.”

“Well...strictly between you and me, I made some unofficial visits after I left. Or rather, before I left, chronologically speaking. I couldn’t just leave her like that without finding out if she was all right, but it turns out that she’s feeling wonderful. She not only gets everlasting orgasms from the neutrinos but she can feel them enriching her environment, making everyone and everything happier and healthier. I estimate that in a thousand years or so, the only place you’ll find wars on her planet are in history books. Never thought I’d see that happen! And then she managed to persuade me to use a sample of her DNA that I’d taken before she was frozen, in order to produce the child she never had when she was flesh and blood...so, all in all, you can hardly claim her life as a statue has been boring.”

“Everlasting orgasms, eh? I’d love to know what that feels like. Not so sure I’d want to become a statue in order to find out, though.”

A wry smile momentarily played across Diann’s lips.

“And this neutrino field...what sort of range did you say it has?”

“Practically infinite, if that isn’t a complete contradiction in terms,” said Diann. “The neutrinos propagate at a tiny fraction below the speed of light. Of course they thin out the farther they travel, but whenever they encounter a star the neutrinos interact with its fusion reaction to produce lots more of themselves. Kind of like a virus using a host cell to reproduce, except that in this case the host doesn’t become sick.”

“But...that means the neutrino field will just keep spreading out from star to star until it covers the entire galaxy.”

“Exactly. It’ll take about seventy thousand years before every star in the galaxy is producing KeV neutrinos, but that’s still just a minute fraction of the age of the universe. Of course, our own bit of space is only a tiny corner of the galaxy, however huge it might seem by human standards. The KeV-neutrinos will have it covered within a millennium.”

Yenisei looked sceptical. “So, once that happens the human race will have no choice but to be peaceful and happy forever?”

Diann shrugged. “What’s the alternative? Every century somebody invents bigger and better weapons, with which to fight bigger and better wars. Well, I’ve seen what wars do, and if there’s any kind of viable alternative I say don’t condemn it till you’ve tried it. Or, in the words of the twentieth century poet, ‘give peace a chance’.”

Diann put down her wine glass and walked to the window. One of Planet Tavri’s moons was setting as a narrow crescent, and within its horns gleamed the lights of thriving cities and factories. On its far side, permanently turned away from the planet and so shielded from most of of the planet’s electronic babble, was a huge array of antennas diligently listening for signals from alien intelligences.

“A few years ago,” said Diann, “before I’d ever heard of Jaskri, somebody claimed to have detected faint sources of KeV-neutrinos in distant galaxies. But their claims were dismissed as false readings, because the amount of neutrino energy was unbelievably high. Scientists estimated that in order to give off that much power, every single star in those galaxies would have to be emitting a thousand times more Kev-neutrinos than they could reasonably be expected to produce by natural processes.”

She turned back to face her guest. “Well, I’ve got news for those sceptics. In a few thousand years time, our galaxy will be joining those others. Maybe it’s a natural development in the evolution of life.”

For a moment she looked back at the window and sighed wistfully. “I wonder what it’s like for them out there?”

Planet Sornel

After the smoke had cleared, the men emerged from behind their sandbags and surveyed the extent of the damage.

The statue was festooned with splinters from the powder barrels and covered in a fine layer of soot, but the men were astonished to see that it was still perfectly intact.

This was unfortunately more than could be said for the windows of the Palace and surrounding government buildings. The Sergeant had somewhat overestimated the amount of powder that could safely be used within the square.

Presently a Palace yeoman emerged, casually brushed some plaster dust from his otherwise immaculate livery, strolled unhurriedly over to where the platoon stood, and beckoned to the Sergeant. Swallowing, the Sergeant saluted and aproached him. The rest of the men exchanged glances. Some shook their heads sadly as the two men walked slowly back to the Palace. If the Sergeant was lucky the Emperor might just decide to have him executed quickly. If not...it hardly bore thinking about.

And the statue continued to watch, impassive as ever...

Planet Tavri, earlier

“Yenisei,” said Diann. “I don’t think you ever told me the origin of your name.”

“Oh, my parents told me they took the name from an old map of Earth they found somewhere on the mindweb,” said Yenisei, “and they decided it had a nice exotic sound to it. It wasn’t until years later that I tried looking up the name myself. Turns out that the Yenisei is one of the longest rivers in Siberia, which as I’m sure you know is the coldest region on Earth. For most of its length the Yenisei River is so cold it freezes as hard as iron for ten months out of twelve. So much for exotic.”

“Frozen, hm?” muttered Diann, with a secretive smile.

“Anyway, I know you didn’t ask me here just to talk about my name,” Yenisei went on. “Come on, Di, what do you really want with me?”

Diann said, “Have you ever heard of a planet called Sornel?”

“I can’t say I have,” said Yenisei.

“No, I suppose you wouldn’t have. It is a long way from here - on the opposite side of Quadrant Seven, as it happens. It’s a bit unusual because it has two suns. The planet itself orbits a hot red dwarf which is in a much bigger orbit around a cool blue star. Between them the two suns provide the planet with all the heat and light that’s needed for life to thrive there. For part of its year the suns are on opposite sides of the planet, which means night never really falls. You just get ‘blue days’ which are bright but cold, followed by ‘red days’ which are dim and hot. And then of course, half a year later, both suns are on the same side of the sky which gives you sweltering, bright ‘double days’ and blessedly cool, dark nights.”

“Now that does sound exotic,” said Yenisei, “but you still haven’t explained where I come in. I mean, I assume you want me to help you with some ‘unofficial’ business there, so why not give me some clue as to what kind of business?”

“I’m coming to that,” said Diann. “The reason I’m so interested in Sornel is that it’s a dictatorship. The planet’s one inhabited continent is ruled by an oppressive Empire that brutally crushes any resistance to its rule. It goes without saying -” she sighed “- that they’re not very hot on women’s rights there. Not that the men exactly have a picnic either. If ever there was a planet that needed a good hefty dose of golden lightning right now, Sornel is it.”

“Well, you said yourself that the golden lightning will reach the entire galaxy eventually.”

“ ‘Eventually’ being the operative word,” said Diann. “It’s going to take about eighteen standard years for the neutrino field to reach Sornel. Just an eyeblink in cosmic time, but almost two decades of human suffering. If there was any way to shorten that time I’d jump at the chance, and I believe I’ve found the way.”

“Oh, I think I get it,” said Yenisei. “You’ve come up with a way of generating the golden lightning artificially. What is it, some kind of portable neutrino generating device that you want me to smuggle into the Sornel system?”

Diann smiled. “That’s a very good guess. As it happens, you’re absolutely right, except for one little detail. The neutrino generator you’ll be smuggling in won’t be a machine.”

Yenisei was puzzled. “I don’t understand, Diann. If it’s not a machine then...oh, wait a minute, you couldn’t mean...”

“Oh, but I could, Yenisei,” grinned Diann. “The neutrino generator will be your own body!”

Planet Sornel

Over the course of the next few tendays the troopers (under the command of a new sergeant, specially chosen by the Commander-in-Chief himself) made several attempts to conceal the statue from the public gaze.

First they erected a framework and hung it with banners extolling the might of the Imperium, but the framework and the banners myteriously vanished overnight, only to reappear days later in a field hundreds of stadia from the city.

Next they encased the statue in a rectangular wooden structure. One of the men was unwise enough to whisper in the sergeant’s hearing that it looked like a latrine.

“Well, since you’re such an expert on latrines,” smirked the sergeant, “I’m sure you’ll be honoured to know that you’ve just volunteered to spend the next hundred days or so cleaning them out. Any more volunteers?”

There were no takers.

“All right then. Privates Zukil and Canvil, since your leisure activities include painting, you will now have the honour of painting this...structure with inspiring images of our glorious Emperor. I expect you to complete this task within two days. Is that clear?”

“Um...yes, Sarge,” Private Canvil piped up, “but...”

“You got a problem, soldier?” barked the sergeant.

“Um...no, sir, of course not,” said Canvil, doing his best not to cringe and failing. “It’s just that, ah...surely in order for us to properly portray our great leader’s radiant visage we should be given a little more time to refine our work. Say...ten days?”

“ ‘Radiant visage’, eh? Canvil, you are so full of vargashit that you’re bound to join the diplomatic service one day. All right, you and Zukil have five days to complete the paintings and that’s final. Starting now, soldiers, so you’d better hurry up and requisition some paint and brushes. Move it!”

The soldiers made hasty progress preparing the painting, and by that evening an outline drawing of the Emperor beamed forth from each of the case’s wooden sides, waiting to be limned in all of its glorious detail.

Numerous passers-by had stopped to admire the work, and even the sergeant was forced to admit - privately, of course - that it wasn’t at all bad. A Palace official also stopped by, walked around the structure and after a few moments nodded approvingly. The sergeant saluted him briskly and breathed a sigh of relief as he departed. Finally the statue problem had been solved, and things could get back to normal.

Planet Tavri, earlier

“Oh, wait a minute,” said Yenisei. “You’re asking me to become a statue like Jaskri, is that it? So that my body will start producing neutrinos for Sornel’s benefit?”

“Exactly,” said Diann. But the thing is -”

“Well, forget it!” snapped Yenisei, rising to her feet. “Helping you out is one thing, but there’s no way you’re going to make me spend eternity as a statue on some little dungball of a planet!”

“Now wait a minute,” said Diann. “Hear me out. I never said anything about it being for eternity. Will you please just let me explain?”

“I think you’d better,” Yenisei muttered.

“The reason Jaskri was frozen forever was because the time loop paradox put her out of phase with normal time, not that she’s complaining about that. But in your case you’d stay in phase, so the stasis would be reversible. After eighteen standard years, once Jaskri’s neutrino field had caught up with Sornel, I’d come back and unfreeze you and bring you back home.”

“But you’d still be asking me to give up eighteen years of my life. That’s a pretty big commitment.”

Diann said, “It’s true that eighteen years would pass for you, and for Planet Sornel - or at least, the equivalent in local years. But remember, you would be in stasis, which means you wouldn’t have aged a second by the end of that time. And you wouldn’t lose those eighteen years out of your domestic life either because I’d use time travel to return you home on the day you left. Nobody would be any the wiser, and there would be no paradox because the timeline wouldn’t have been changed.”

“But from my point of view I’d still have been away for eighteen years,” said Yenisei. “I couldn’t just pick up my life again as if nothing had happened.”

“Ah, but you could. All I’d have to do is take a recording of your memory on the day you left for Sornel and play it back to you on your return. As far as your friends were concerned there’d be no change in your behaviour - although you would also have all the memories of your eighteen years as a statue and would be able to recall all the pleasure you felt during that time.

“The pleasure,” muttered Yenisei. “Yes, you mentioned that. Jaskri and her everlasting orgasm...”

“Just imagine, Yenisei. The golden lightning coursing through your body day and night, or what passes for night on a world with two suns. I’ve experienced that pleasure myself, and you can take it from me it’s pretty incredible. But you don’t have to take my word for it. If you like, I can give you a short demonstration.”

Planet Sornel

“What do you mean, vanished?” the sergeant demanded.

“See for yourself, Sarge,” quavered Private Zukil. “Part of the panel just disappeared overnight.”

A section of the painted panel concealing the front of the statue had indeed gone missing, taking part of the Emperor’s arm with it. Before the soldiers had realised what had happened and blocked access to the area, a number of passers-by had been able to look through the hole at the statue’s bare breast.

“There’s no sign of it having been forced or cut,” said the terrified Zukil. “The edges of the hole are perfectly smooth, like they’ve been planed.”

“I thought a guard was placed over the statue last night?” growled the sergeant.

“Yes, Sarge, but he says he didn’t see or hear anyone. He didn’t even notice the hole was there, not until well after both suns was up and he noticed some people staring at the panel. He thought they were admiring the drawings, but then he realised they were only looking at one side and that’s when he saw the hole for the first time and realised they were looking at the statue’s...the statue’s b...b...bosom.”

Merely having to mention the word caused the soldier to redden like an embarrassed schoolboy.

The sergeant snorted. “If I didn’t know better I might accuse you and Canvil of vandalising the panel yourselves.”

“That’s not fair, Sarge. We were proud of them drawings. We wouldn’t want to see ’em damaged like this.”

The sergeant considered this. “Well, you have a point there, I suppose.”

“Yes, Sarge. Canvil and me spent ages getting them pictures just right. Wanted to do His Highness proud, we did.”

“All right, I believe you. Oh, and it’s ‘Canvil and I,’ private.”

Zukil looked puzzled. “No, Sarge, it was definitely Canvil and me.”

“Oh, shut up. Look, since nobody else seems competent to guard these panels I’m just going to have to do it myself. Tonight I’m taking watch.”

“Yes, sarge,” said Zukil, relieved that the burden of responsibility had been lifted from his shoulders.

Best of luck, sarge, he thought. Let’s see if you do any better than me at guarding against something invisible!

Planet Tavri, earlier

“Is that it?” said Yenisei, looking sceptically at the object Diann described as a stasis generator.

“That’s it,” agreed Diann. “Impressive, isn’t it?”

“That’s not exactly the word I’d have used. It looks like...a paving slab, that’s all. A big marble paving slab.”

“Ah, but once you’ve stepped on most paving slabs, you can step off them again. Not this one, at least not when it’s active. All you have to do is step onto it and I guarantee you won’t move a muscle for one hour.”

“And at the end of that hour...you guarantee to release me, right?” said Yenisei. “Only, it did occur to me that if you want me as a statue for this planet Sornel, you could have already programmed this thing to freeze me for eighteen years. Or maybe forever. As you said, when I step onto that pedestal I won’t be able to move a muscle. I’ll be totally helpless and at your mercy.”

“Oh, come on,” said Diann indignantly. “What do you think I am? Do you really believe I’d try to trick you like that?”

“Well, you tricked Jaskri, didn’t you?”

“That was different. The time paradox had already happened. Jaskri had to become the statue because she had already been the statue for twenty years. If she hadn’t, the paradox would have destroyed the space-time continuum. All I did was make sure the time loop was closed. Anyway, that’s all in the past now...relatively speaking. All I’m asking you to do is give up one hour of your time. One hour, that’s all. You have my word.”

Yenisei looked at Diann for a moment. Then she looked at the pedestal. After a moment she chuckled quietly.

“What’s so funny??” said Diann.

“Oh...I was just imagining a whole street paved with these things. One minute everyone’s going about their daily business as usual, and the next they’re all statues. Maybe you should try it some time. It could give a whole new meaning to ‘performance art’.”

Diann chuckled as well. “Don’t think even I could get away with a stunt like that, but it’s fun to imagine it.”

Yenisei nodded. Then after a moment she took a step toward the pedestal.

“You’re sure it’s safe?” she said.

“It’s perfectly safe,” Diann assured her. “I’ve done this myself and there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.”

“All right,” said Yenisei, “but no feeling me up while I’m frozen. I’m strictly het, remember.”

“Pity,” muttered Diann. “All right, I promise won’t touch,” she said. But she was thinking: you can’t prevent me from looking.

Yenisei stepped onto the pedestal and adopted a statue-like pose. Then her body shimmered faintly, froze solid and took on a pale, marble-like appearance.

If any strangers had entered the room and seen her in that state, they would automatically have assumed that she was a real statue.

And she could have done nothing to prove them wrong. She was completely rigid and inanimate. She could never have imagined that she was capable of feeling so powerless.

But then, just as her sense of helplessness threatened to overwhelm her, she became aware of the first slow ripples of pleasure that were washing over and through her body as a prelude to the greater pleasure to come, and she also became acutely aware of Diann’s eyes slowly scanning her all over. Although Diann was keeping her promise not to touch Yenisei, she was taking pleasure from her body nonetheless....

And then for what seemed like days rather than a mere hour, the golden lightning filled her with ecstasy and washed away all thoughts of helplessness.

Planet Sornel

“What do you mean, vanished?” bellowed the colonel - ironically enough, the very words with which the sergeant had intimidated Private Zukil exactly one day earlier. That irony was not lost on the sergeant, who now knew exactly how the harassed private must have felt.

“Sir, I know how fantastic it sounds,” said the sergeant, “but it’s true. One minute the hoarding was there, and then - I only looked away for a moment, I swear, but when I turned back it had gone. Completely disappeared, as if it had never existed, and the statue was exposed to plain sight once more.”

“So you admit that you did look away,” said the colonel.

“Only for an instant, sir, I swear it. That’s all it took.” In order to deflect criticism from himself the sergeant tried changing the subject. “Sir, if I were a superstitious man I might start believing the men’s whisperings -’

“- About supernatural forces, you mean?” snorted the colonel. “Absolute drivel, sergeant. No such thing.”

“Sir, I’m not suggesting that magic powers exist...necessarily...but it seems to me that there are forces hostile to the empire at work, striving to undermine the proper moral order and stir up feelings of lust among the populace with this...this blatant piece of pornography.”

“Well, then, sergeant, if that is the case...” the colonel leaned toward the sergeant until their noses were almost touching.

The sergeant swallowed. This was not a good sign.

“What,” whispered the colonel, as his eyes bored into the sergeant’s, “do you plan to do about it, sergeant? Hmm?”

Planet Tavri, earlier

Exactly three thousand, six hundred standard seconds (correct to five decimal places) after she had stepped onto the pedestal, Yenisei found herself unfrozen once more. There was no residual stifness. Her body had simply returned to the exact state it had been in when she had stepped onto the pedestal.

“Oohh,” she said. “Oohh, my, that was...that was...something else. If I couldn’t see the clock with my own eyes I would have sworn that was a lot longer than an hour.”

“I know,” said Diann wryly, helping her guest to a chair. “At first it can be a bit overwhelming, and once you’re unfrozen it can be a bit of a jolt coming down again. Don’t worry, it’s not physically addictive, although you can draw upon the experience whenever you want to enhance your sex life.”

“If that was only an hour, what would eighteen years be like?” Yenisei muttered.

Diann smiled wryly. “There’s only one way to find out,” she said.

Planet Sornel

I t was early in the morning, but already a crowd had gathered in the square to see if the rumours were true.

They were not disappointed. The boards had been removed from the statue, leaving her semi-nudity exposed. About the statue signs had been erected.

See how she attempts to lead men astray with her lascivious NAKEDNESS!
Recall that Bodily Temptation is a Sin against the Holy Emperor and a Crime against the State incurring the Severest Penalties!
Recall that Physical Relations are sanctioned solely within the Institution of State-registered Marriage!


The crowd was certainly beholding the statue, but It was not entirely clear whether it was taking the sign’s other admonitions to heart.

“Are you quite sure about this, sergeant?” said the colonel.

“Well, sir,” said the sergeant, “every time we’ve tried to cover up the statue, someone or something has uncovered it again. It seemed to me that no matter what we tried the statue was going to end up naked again one way or another, so then I thought, why not try to use the statue’s nudity to our advantage?”

“But suppose the statue does inflame men’s lusts, sergeant?” said the colonel. “What then?”

“Well, sir,” muttered the sergeant, “maybe that’s what it was put there for,and if that’s the case I don’t rightly know what else we can do about it, except maybe punishing anyone who gets too inflamed.”

None of the onlookers seemed inflamed, as such, but the colonel could not help noticing the thoughtful glances most of them were exchanging with each other. It seemed as if it might soon be necessary to teach some of them the folly of Unauthorised Thought.

Planets Tavri and Sornel, earlier

Yenisei watched as a doorway appeared in mid-air in response to Diann’s small control unit.

“Ready?” said Diann.

“Ready as I’ll ever be, I guess,” muttered Yenisei.

They were both carrying small lamps so they would be able to see in Sornel’s moonless truenight.

“Relax,” said Diann. “Remember, you’ll be helping millions of oppressed Sornelese throw off the yoke of their dictatorship.” Then she grinned and whispered in Yenisei’s ear: “And don’t forget...every moment of those eighteen years will be better than chocolate!”

Yenisei couldn’t help grinning back at Diann. “Well, all right then, let’s go,” she said, and stepped through holding her lamp aloft, exchanging one night for another.

The air in the Palace Square was cool but not cold. Unfamiliar constellations filled the sky and the air was laced with a thousand unfamiliar but not unpleasant scents. The palace itself was a dark, brooding shape at the far side of the huge square. At this hour only a few dim lamps shone from some of its myriad windows.Yenisei felt a little light-headed. It might have been nerves, or maybe the planet just had lower gravity.

Something big slowly glided overhead, blotting out the stars. Was it a bird or a bat? she wondered. Maybe even the local equivalent of a pterosaur. Well, there’d be plenty of time to find out.

A moment later Diann stepped through, carrying the stasis pedestal and the sheet that was to be Yenisei’s only garment as a statue.

“All right,” said Diann, placing the pedestal on the ground. “Time to take your position.”

Yenisei looked at the pedestal for a long moment, then began undressing. She had come too far to back out now. There was nobody about. Diann had somehow arranged for the Palace’s night guards to be elsewhere all night, and of course the general public was under curfew, so no one would see Yenisei until morning.

“Look, there’s one thing I should tell you,’ said Diann. “I know you’re not for women, but the fact is that when they feel the golden lightning...ah...coming from you, people are going to touch you, caress you, make love to you, men and women alike. It happens to Jaskri, it happened to me. And I know from experience, being touched will make your orgasmic sensations even more pleasurable, especially knowing that people are taking pleasure from you as well.”

Yenisei posing for her role as a statue“You picked a fine time to tell me that, didn’t you?” said Yenisei. Then she put down her lamp, reached for the sheet Diann was holding and draped it over herself, leaving one breast, the lower part of both buttocks and her arms and legs bare.

“I guess I’ll just have to make the sacrifice for the sake of democracy on Sornel, won’t I?” she said, stepping onto the pedestal. [right]

Diann grinned and pointed the remote control unit at the pedestal.

“You’re making the right decision, Yenisei,” she told her. “You won’t regret this.”

Yenisei could not reply. She was already frozen solid, incapable of the slightest movement, and her flesh and drapery had taken on the appearance and texture of marble.

Diann picked up Yenisei’s discarded clothing and lamp, smiled and waved farewell, and stepped through the doorway between worlds, which closed behind her.

And while Diann was doing those things, Yenisei was beginning to feel the first blissful rush of ecstasy as the golden lightning filled her body and soul.

Eighteen years, she was thinking. Eighteen years....

Planet Sornel

Nobody knew where the statue had come from. It had simply been found one double-day morning, having appeared the previous truenight (this being that season of Sornel’s year when both suns rose and set side by side, allowing the stars dominion over the night sky). It stood upon a broad flat pedestal at the north-eastern corner of Palace Square, the marble or alabaster image of a beautiful maiden of perhaps twenty years, wearing only a loosely-draped cloth that left one breast and the lower part of both buttocks - not to mention her arms and legs - shockingly bare.

And no one on Sornel could have guessed that their future prosperity rested on the shoulders of that statue, still less that the statue was really a young woman from a distant planet who had chosen to stand paralysed for eighteen years in an endless, incandescent orgasm.


And so the years passed, seasons of red and blue days giving way to seasons of true nights and double days, while Yenisei stood inanimate in a state of bliss. As Diann had predicted, that bliss was compounded by the attentions of the townsfolk, who took every opportunity to fondle and caress her statue-body when the authorities were looking the other way.

Inevitably, there came a day when the people began caressing her while the authorities were not looking the other way. And from these small acts of rebellion, and the heavy-handed attempts by the Imperial Guards to crush them, grew greater acts of defiance that inevitably led in time to the overthrow of the Imperium and the establishment of Sornel’s first true democracy.

With impeccable timing, Diann arrived to release Yenisei from her stone bondage on the truenight before Sornel’s first Presidential election. But the people would not be deprived of their statue - once Yenisei was able to step off the pedestal Diann replaced her with a synthetic replica made from a hologram of her body. Once it was placed in stasis the replica was indistinguishable from Yenisei’s own statued body.

“Welcome back to mobility,” said Diann.

“Thanks,” said Yenisei. “It’ll be so nice to be able to do things again.”

But as the doorway back to Tavri opened, Yenisei could not help looking back at the square that had been her home for the past eighteen years.

“I’m going to miss it,” she said.

And then she turned back to Diann and spoke the words she had never thought she would say:

“I’d really like to do this again some day.”

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