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Chapter 32 Women of the staff

“I have a gift for you Shella,” said Celeste pointing to a small box on the table. “These are seeds. The difference is these seeds will produce about 15 percent more oil than your current seed crop and the oil quality will be better. I'm sure your Crop Master will like them.” “Thank you so much, Celeste,” said Shella wiping away a small tear from her cheek. “We have no way to repay you, and you have done so much to help us.” “You can repay me Shella. Take the lessons that have been learned and don't forget them. Help others to understand. Start with forgiving Lycia. Resentments only fester and become worse. Both of you have a safe trip back, and we will meet again.” “I'll walk you both out,” said Ben

“Quite the adventure yesterday Celeste.” “Yes, it was. It worked out well, and it gives the Gaian's a push in the right direction, and they will need every bit of it. I have some Cathedral video from late yesterday you need to see.” 

“It's a gift from the Captain,” said Ungar setting the pendant on the table and slumping down into a chair. “It also comes with a warning.” “What warning?” Ungar sat straight up in his chair and peered at Davin. “One more provocation and she will move the ship into Gaia and trade exclusively with them. This won't be good for us. She also wants you to understand that she knows when people are around the ship and says they can be eliminated at will. So keep the watchers away.” Davin picking up the pendant and looking closely at it said “What will this do that makes it worth something? It looks like a cheap bauble.” “She said it should be worn outside of your clothes. If you're near someone, it vibrates if they are lying to you.” Davin putting the pendant on looked at Ungar. “Is your name Marshal Banner?” “Yes Senior Elder,” and the pendant vibrated. “I might suggest Senior Elder, that if people know what it does, no one will dare lie to you if you're wearing it.” Davin studied the pendant for a moment. “Are you loyal to me Ungar?” “I have always been loyal to you Senior Elder, and I work very hard every day on your behalf.” The pendant stayed still. “Go back to the ship in the morning and see what else they will trade.” “As you wish Senior Elder.” 

“Ungar will make an appearance here shortly. His coin tells me he is now moving in this direction. I sent the women a small package via drone last night and left it on the roof of the warehouse. We will know when they receive it. I sent a note about it to Lora's tablet.” “What did you send them?” A little bot rolled into the salon. On its tray was what looked like a small dirty ball of wax. “I thought it was a clever idea. It's a communicator. It uses the big drone on the roof of the Cathedral as a relay, so they don't need much power. Stick it in your ear, and they can talk to me, and each other. When it's in their pocket, it just looks like a piece of trash.”

Ungar's tractor slowly made its way into the meadow and lurched to a stop. “Welcome Ungar,” said Ben greeting him at the hatch. “Please come in and have a seat. I have an eye-opener for you waiting.” “Davin seemed to like the pendant,” said Ungar as he eased into the chair. “It appears to be choosy about who lies or not,” he said grinning, “I think Davin understood your message.” “How are the tractor repairs coming along?” asked Ben. “They're about half completed. They started with the Elder's tractors, and then the ones used by the Security Forces. There are a lot of grumpy people getting up too early walking to where they have to be every day.”

“Are the troopers using the stun guns Ungar?” asked Celeste. “Yes, I only see a few that are still carry the slug throwers. They are heavy and cumbersome weapons.” “How about you get us ten more bars of gold, and I'll give you 100 more stunners. That should get the last of the slug throwers off the streets.” “I can do that late tomorrow morning.” “Thank you, Ungar. Did you put together a travel bag for yourself and Casi?” “Yes honored Captain, it's under the seat of my carriage.” “Excellent we will see you in the morning, Ungar.”

Lora saw the four loaders finally sit down for lunch. Holding her hand close to her chest she pointed her cut finger upwards. Several others saw and did the same until the other nine had seen. One by one bucket's and brooms were gathered, and the ten women gradually moved upstairs. Dona stopped at the top of the stairs, got down on her knees and slowly started to scrub the floor acting as the lookout. The others clustered around Lora. 

“I got a message from Celeste. She is calling us the Women of the Staff, a thousand of them are being delivered here soon, and a package is on the roof for us. What's everyone's status?” “All most all of my coins have been given out. Only of few of the pleasure girls don't have them yet because they work so late into the night, and their schedules are so erratic,” said Lim. Dona turned towards the group and gave a thumbs up. “All of mine have been passed out,” said Yana. “I'll be finished tomorrow,” said Mori. The others all gave a thumbs up. “Celeste wants to warn all of us again about not having our tablets discovered and to make sure everyone carries their coin with them at all times. Are we good Dona?”

Dona nodded her head as she continues to diligently scrub the floor. Lora quickly walked over to the ladder, climbed up, and silently opened the roof hatch. Hunching down low she scouted the area. Spotting a small cloth bag, she stuffed it in her pocket and scuttled back down. Lora opened the bag and peered in. A note was on top, she pulled it out and quietly read, “Keep these with you. When you place them in your ear, you can talk to each other, and me. Keep them safe when you're not using them,” and the ink faded away.

Lora passed them out, and Lim took Dona's place. All of them put them in their ears. “Hello,” Lora whispered, and ten pairs of eyes widened. “Good afternoon Women of the Staff, this is Celeste. Please tell me your names.” Whispered voices sound off, “Lora, Dona, Lim, Yana, Mori, Holi, Jans, Elena, Colini, Tami.”

“I'm going to send you some materials to your tablets for you to study. From now on if you find your tablet's blinking, use your earplug to talk to me at any time, and or the others. Time is getting near to overthrow the Elders and make your lives better. I will talk to you again very soon.”

“What are you sending to the women?” asked Ben. “Lots of things but mostly maps and pictograph instructions. Remember that most of these women can't read. It includes how to use the staffs, and what anatomy to target.” Ben winced and clamped his knees together, “You don't mean...” “That's exactly right Ben, and knees, the head and other vulnerable parts. I think the women will find this to be quite cathartic. Each team of ten women will break into groups of three that will work together. The team leader will stay with one of the groups, or move to help any of the other two groups. I think three angry and highly motivated women with staffs will be able to subdue a trooper with a no longer working stun gun.”

A tractor with a trailer pulled up to the warehouse dock. The driver stepped out and found the loaders. Looking at the paper in his hand he said, “They are supposed to be neatly stacked into ten piles of one hundred.” The loaders start to move the enormous stack of wood into the building.