First Page: The High General Romance Science Fiction
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She spied on him through the trees. He was the most interesting man she had ever seen. Of course she was afraid of him; she was afraid of the whole group of giant men. But her curiosity overruled her fear to the point that she had followed him back to their camp. She should have fled in terror – her sisters would have fled, all 27 of them. Curiosity would only go so far. If spotted, she knew she would run faster than the time when her father had tried to punish her for leading her sisters out for a nude swim.
The strange man’s camp was large, with many men in various activities. Some exercising, some bathing or eating, and every now and then she heard masculine laughter. The men were dressed alike, as if they wore a standard uniform. They were all broader in shoulder and taller in height than any other men she had seen. Even more interesting was the fact that these strangers were all males. Not a female in sight. Seeing so many men all in one place was strange to her. Her immediate family had only two men.
With herself and her sisters, plus her mother and ta-mothers, there were 38 women in her home. This many men totaled more men than inhabited her whole village.
She especially worried about the sentries who seemed to be guarding the camp. Some stood next to entry points while others walked from entry point to entry point. She didn’t want to find out what they would do if they saw her.
At least thirty buildings had been erected – how could they do that so soon? She and her four closest sisters had gathered moonberries here just yesterday. Those buildings had not been here, but this camp was so completely built that it hardly seemed possible the camp was only a few hours old. The small buildings were made out of something she could not name, not wood or diamond bricks like the dwellings in her town. The walls seemed very smooth like when a diamond cutter cracked a diamond in the right place.
The golden knight who held her fascination had disappeared within one of the buildings. And if she wanted to continue her spying game, she thought, she would have to venture into the camp, past two other buildings. Oh, her father and brother would beat her good if they learned what her mischievous mind would lead her into today.
The pull of this man was strong for some reason. He looked like the others, but she was not at all interested in them. She knew she should just leave, but she was highly reluctant, feeling oddly drawn by the man’s presence. Talking herself into more exploration, she told herself it would be against her nature to back down in the face of all these curious things. She must be true to her nature, right? Plus, if she got home this late, she would still be in for a few strikes with the thigh paddle from her father or brother. If she was going to get punished anyway, she should see where this game took her.
No girl wanted the standard family discipline of their culture (or rather female discipline, no treasured male was ever disciplined); and getting out of punishment was why women played deceptive games to avoid it. Her father and brother punished her more than all her sisters combined; but they did not know even half of the naughty things she did. She was known as the first sister to do something forbidden when trouble was to be had.