â€œIâ€™m sorry, but the answer is no,â€ Captain Diana Cai watched Ambassador Karr on her viewscreen as his face darkened. The Ambassador bit his tongue inside his mouth until he tasted blood. Captain Cai allowed him his moment. It was harsh news she had to deliver. â€œOur team has found traces of the Contagion in your soil.â€
Ambassador Karr regarded the Captains teardrop stomach, covered only by a sheer cloth that allowed him to see the erotic and powerful exposure of her fertility. â€œCaptain Cai, our cleaning efforts have been intense. Our scientists have found no active traces of the Contagion, and those minor elements still left are broken down. We are assured that, with proper precautions, the children would have a very low risk of infection.â€
Captain Cai put her hand on her pregnant stomach, indicating she wished him to be silent. The Ambassador held his breath.
â€œAmbassador, our highest priority is the welfare of the children. We cannot deliver life to a world where there is any possibility of contamination. I have no doubt that your people deserve the children. I was guided on a virtual tour of the school that you built for the twelve we hoped to give you and I was very impressed by the design, all that light. . .â€
Captain Cai looked around her command center, where sixteen women were operating the ship at various stations, all of them at different stages of their pregnancy. Seven years ago, the Barâ€™ak had spread the Contagion to every human world, rendering nearly everyone sterile. The only fertile humans were those members of the Fleet on space missions. After the infection the Fleet was split, the men sent to retaliate against the Barâ€™ak aggression, and the women charged with the task of repopulation. The situation was worse than the government let on. â€œOur children can only be released to colonies with enough security to keep them safe. Contamination levels are part of that security.â€
The Ambassador ran a hand through his silver hair. â€œCaptain, my people will double their efforts to clean our soil. We will have the remnants of the contagion removed in a matter of months.â€
â€œAmbassador, I regret to inform you that we will not be returning for thirty seven years.â€
â€œThirty seven years?â€ The Ambassadors calm face had broken, and angry wrinkles, like a thousand scars, descended on his face. â€œCaptain, that is outrageous, most of us are already aged past our prime. A delay of that long could kill our colony!â€
The Captain put a hand on her stomach and the Ambassador gulped.
â€œAmbassador, I remind you that it is treason to raise your voice to a woman with child.â€
The Ambassador knelt, the screen following him as he crossed his hands over his chest and closed his eyes. â€œCaptain, Mother, forgive me, Life Giver, I pray to you. Please, spare us, give us one child, just one, to teach and love and hold. Please mother, mercy on us. The child you give us will be our most beloved creature, its feet will never touch soil. Please mother, I beg you.â€
â€œIâ€™ll do it.â€ Said a young Ensign, newly pregnant with her third child. â€œIâ€™ll go.â€
Captain Cai switched off the screen. â€œAdia, you are out of line.â€ The Ensign put a hand on her stomach.
â€œIt is treason to raise your voice to a woman with child.â€
Captain Cai put her forehead in her hands. â€œYou read the reports, the soil is dangerous.â€
â€œYes. I read that in some parts of the planet, the soil has minor contamination. Captain, you saw the Ambassador. We cannot leave this colony to die.â€
â€œAre you ready to be a symbol for the rest of your life? An object?â€
â€œNo, Iâ€™m not.â€ Adia walked out from behind her console. â€œMother, I canâ€™t do this any longer. I cannot continue to give birth and give my children away. Iâ€™ll go mad. I have the right to leave the program.â€
â€œActually, Ensign, you do not have that right. Humanity is in a dire situation right now. There are planets of worlds that cannot reproduce on their own. Even if you, and your children manage to avoid infection, even if you do that, the Barâ€™ak may find out you are there and return to this moon and spread the contagion again. Then we will have lost yet another fertile woman.â€
â€œIf you donâ€™t leave me there, you may lose an entire colony! Mother, please. I want to go. Please, give me to them. Give them hope.â€
â€œI canâ€™t. I cannot let you go for anything less than an act of treason.â€
â€œThen let me be a traitor.â€ Adia, cradled her mothers face in her hands. â€œI love you mother.â€ She lightly slapped the Captains cheek.
Captain Cai swallowed. â€œTo strike a fertile woman is an act of treason, the punishment for which is death. Ensign Cai, because you are fertile, you will be spared capital punishment and will serve your lifelong sentence in the care of this colony planet.â€ Captain Cai nodded to two female guards. â€œTake her to transport.â€
â€œCaptain, mother, I promise you, I will give them hope.â€
â€œNo Adia, you will give them everything.â€