Commander Cherry Hawkins Remembers

It’s been 20 years since the first seeds of the disastrous incident known as the Matriarch Assassination were planted. Since I’m in counterintelligence, and the highest levels of it, I’m one of the few who can see the entire scope of this incident from it’s first causes until it’s ultimate and tragic effects. By chance, I personally was present at the beginning, and through all the permutations, so I got a first hand look at all the major players and am very sure of the actual motivations of most of the parties. This is the story from that very beginning.

There has been a great deal of talk about spys and double agents surrounding this, some of which has been directed at me. The same year as all this started, I developed a confidential source in GLICIS, the Great Lakes Consortium Intelligence Service, the spy agency of the Great Lakes Consortium, our neighbor over the Hudson River and west of the Matriarchal Zone.

For decades we have known of it’s extensive spy presence here and, in 2062, in the SEC/SPY–Henry Peterson scandal, we experienced our first known contact with GLICIS dirty workers, killers and thugs organized under the name of “Truth Teams”, the name is short for Moment Of Truth which is what they are supposed to be bringing to whomever they hunt. We are 90% sure that their killers were the rifle snipers who killed SEC/SPY’s Mossad liaison Micha Haaretz, and about 60% sure that they also killed the head of SEC/SPY, Helen Thoroughgood using a fake flower delivery and a silenced pistol. That last percentage would probably rise much higher if we found any indication that their Truth Teams use face to face killing.

From the very first, every member of the Counterintelligence Triumvirate and also the Chief of FEM/DOM Police have been aware of my Confidential Source, and approved of it’s use. So I am not and never have been a “GLICIS agent” in the Matriarchal Zone. We still have no spy agency and run no agents of our own in foreign countries, so indirect sources in the spying countries that do are a valuable part of our Counterintelligence activity.

Any single agent can be (can be, not will be) trapped with our AI analyst “Shirley” that correlates and coordinates the daily reports of FEM/DOM beat patrols and GPS trails looking for suspicious activity, and now that we have adapted Shirley to process those reports (which have been archived diligently) from as far back as 15 years ago, we have even more power to spot things out of place that we never could have without Shirley. In the future we plan to input CUS/PAS retina scans and checks of fully 20 years and more duration.

But interrogating any single captured agent (which I have personally done, and still do, if the matter is important enough) gives you very little insight of an agency’s overall plan of attack on your country. Captured GLCIS agents always answer quite readily anything we want to know about what they were doing and even what were the “worknames” of the agent runners in Chicago who participated with them. But they also tell us that GLICIS goes to extraordinary lengths to keep each of their agents “watertight” or completely separated from any other operation, and if one is captured, they will cut their losses at Headquarters, shutting down the operation completely, tracing who in their central organization worked with that agent and change their “worknames”, life stories, and GLC documentation totally.

In addition, every member of GLCIS has completely and permanently abandoned their original legal name and life story, and changes those same worknames yearly. This is not taking on simply another alias, it is turning yourself legally into a whole new person. I have distinct dislikes for GLCIS and it’s ways, but I can’t fault the dedication and motivation of it’s employees.

After 2070, when Shirley first started working at full capacity, we had about two banner years rolling up Light and Medium Cover agents of both GLCIS, “Poison Julep” (the completely unacknowledged agency of Dixieland), Pacifica, Mormonia, and one agency whose name I still can’t reveal. Then the well dried up.

We think the distant agencies have simply ceased to field spys here. We also think that both nearby agencies started rotating members of a team under light cover through CUS/PAS on its now 6 month cycle of visa renewal. A team member gets through with a visa, does his segment of the spying, and then leaves the country just before his visa starts to expire. He is replaced with a second team member with a different name and a new visa who picks up where the other one left off, and so on. Even the tightest AI surveilance system cannot yet correlate reliably the movements of people who stay only until their first visa expires.

And we have been trying at all costs to persuade CUS/PAS to NOT raise that visa renewal to 1 year. They say this is a cost cutting measure to recoup the revenue it lost that was reassigned to MAT/SERV the new agency of pediatric and maternity practices and hospitals.

As to their Medium Cover agents, we still capture a Dixielander every so often, but nary a whisper of one from GLCIS. We don’t think they stopped sending them, but we have not been able to capture any of them. Thejn there are the Deep Cover agents who are placed months or years ahead of time and stay quiescent until they have worked themselves completely into the fabric of our country and then start their spying career. The most famous of the known ones being Henry Peterson the GLCIS Perfume and Cosmetics Salesman.

Neither Shirley nor we have found any more since Peterson, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

In the summer of 2068 a juvenile offender named Bernadette Johnson was proved by video to have made a rude gesture toward the Chief Matriarch at a public function. This offense was so open and seen by so many people that it had become the gossip of the entire Matriarchal Zone with lots of laughter at the Chief Matriarch’s expense. She herself was not amused.

We at FEM/DOM, including myself apprehended the young lady at her school. I was a Captain, but since we were taking her to the Chief Matriarch herself, it was deemed advisable for a ranking officer to oversee the team. And the Matriarch had asked for a counterintelligence officer in the mix, so I was dutifully there with my Counterintelligence Garrison cap on to tell her and everybody else just what I was, if not why I was there. I didn’t even know that, myself. An officer was also sent to her home to inform her father a non-citizen zone resident here to chaperone his daughter though Matriarchal training for citizenship.

She was absolutely terrified. She kept saying, “I didn’t mean it. I really didn’t mean it.” Since she was crying profusely, I said something to distract her attention. It helps with those we seize for punishment. “It’s too late for that, young lady. The question is, do you regret it and can you bring yourself to still honestly regret it after your punishment?”

“How much will I be punished? Will I have my butt and thighs strapped like at school?”

“I can’t say for certain, but usually for something like this, we are asked to give someone a Level 1 strapping rather than a Level 2 strapping like your school. It’s much worse. We call Level 2 “A Mild Rebuke”, you just can’t sit or lie down for two weeks. Level 1 we call “A Sharp Dressing Down”. We start on your back side at your heels, strap all the way up to your neck and all the way back down again.

“We keep doing this, making sure we cover the line between each two welts with a new welt directly above it. Ten times we strap up and down. It hurts too much for you to even walk. With good long term aftercare and 3 days icing down, which we do in Vauxhall Prison, after the two weeks you will walk with discomfort and think carefully before you sit down about whether you want to do it or not. We will hold you in Vauxhall for another two weeks and then discharge you. Your whole rear side will give you twinges for about 3 months after that. But there will be no permanent scarring or nerve damage.”

“Oh my god! I’ll DIE under that!!!

“No you won’t. You’ll survive it because you’re a women. I’ve given or watched this strapping many times. No woman and no man either has died from them. The men are more fragile psychologically. Some turn psychotic afterwards from the stress. No women ever has. But you are stronger than you think.

“In fact, the way you are responding tells me that you are very much stronger than you think. While you still can absorb it, let me give you my card. FEM/DOM always has a place for women who are tough enough, and in a few years, you’ll need a job. Places of employment do check your history with us, and many will not like it if they see you’ve been given a Level 1.

“See me when you do. At FEM/DOM we like women able to get through one and get on with their life.” I leaned over to her and whispered in her ear, “Don’t tell anyone, but I’m one of them.” She looked at the card and at me and said, “Thank you, Captain Hawkins. I’ll try to be tough.”

We arrived at the Matriarchal Residence on Weston Street. It’s no mansion, but it’s a very upscale Victorian home of pre-Zone Montpelier. The Matriarch’s Hostess greeted us at the door, startled as usual at how tall I was, especially with my Garrison cap which few people ever see, “She is waiting in the room you see at the far left.” Two Maleservants moved noiselessly through the central hall on unknown errands. Neither of them would meet our eyes. We walked there, and I’m sure that the walk was portentous for our young lady however routine it was for us. It was a library, mostly a growing and well-tended library from 40 years ago, abandoned by the owner of the house, but you could see a small corner of additions since, from GLC, from Pacifica, from Dixieland, and from New Canada.

All titles were contemporary, and freely available in the Zone, but there was nothing on the shelf by a writer from the Zone. It occurred to me that, even with so many years on the Force, I’d never encountered a citizen “writer”, neither in our case files nor in person. Somehow that was disturbing. It felt like those “free and equal” countries had digested the Diaspora, and the end of the USA, and gone on with their lives. We certainly haven’t, I thought, and not for the first time.

The Matriarch was on one side of the long room, behind an ornate antique table that served as her desk, with a Dictapad to one side, one of the larger and older ones. Eight antique, but well cushioned, armchairs with side tables were spread around the room’s edge near the bookshelves. All tidy little islands of comfort for an individual to sink into to sit and read a book not far from the impromptu socket where the book came from.

My cop’s eyes noted that there were no such sockets in the shelves today. The only touch of real luxury was the exceedingly expensive, nine anti-gravity Glowglobes from China, over each chair and the table, that had become fashionable with those who know, and are in the know, for about five years; fashionable not with me, not with the house’s Hostess, and not with you, but with the upper crust of the flat pancake of the Zone’s relatively equal incomes from Job Jar Economics in 2068.

Relatively equal incomes don’t disturb class relations in the least, and relatively small and infrequent luxuries like household servants and Glowglobes, in an otherwise a merely comfortable and large house, are the way that the upper crust here add the signature of their status to their lives. And the Chief Matriarch is about as upper as upper crust gets. She had a neat, short crop of pure white hair, the kind that only blondes have when they age, a slightly asymmetric face, and was in a colorful but unpretentious house dress about two steps down in formality from her Hostess.

You wouldn’t think to look at her that she ruled a country by decree a year at a time. But she was, after all, relaxed and in her own home. The one thing about her at the moment that matched her actual status and importance was the cold clarity of her grey-green eyes. A young just plain lady cop who met those eyes always felt, with no justification, like something was out of place on her uniform which the Chief Matriarch not only saw, but disapproved of markedly. Someone like myself, with years and rank, the slowly softening abs and pectorals that come with those things (working out or no) and a growing number of underwire bras in my closet, felt the need to be on the ready to jump when the Chief said “frog” and to hold the same degree of alertness needed to wrestle a crocodile.

Who knows what the young lady felt about all this? Except, of course, for abject terror. We live in literary archetypes in the Zone, and who could this be in young and wide eyes but the wicked witch or imperious queen of nursery story fame.

“Well Bernadette Johnson, what do you have to say for yourself.” the Chief said imperiously.

The child glanced over at me, straightened her back, met those cold, grey-green eyes unwaveringly, “I’m sorry Chief Matriarch for insulting you with my rude gesture. Sometimes my feelings get away from me and I do things I shouldn’t have. This was something that I really shouldn’t have done and I regret it deeply. I know I will be painfully punished for it and accept that fact. I will have that same regret on the other side of this punishment that I have now and will try to endure the pain of it without resentment and learn from it.”

“That’s a pretty speech, young lady, but it’s a shame you couldn’t exercise the same control then as you do now. In the real world the record of your punishment will follow you through your life. I will be adding a note to the FEM/DOM file on it tomorrow when it as ready. It will not be as pretty as your speech,” her eyes got much harder, “but it will be clear and to the point. That will be all for now.”

My heart froze. She could only mean that she was going to ask us to put Bernadette’s file in the Major Crime and Security Risk file separation. That’s why I’m here, a “counter” captain “counterintelligence”, among the beat cops. If counterintelligence is present only then could she be classified as a security risk. She asked for me or someone like me (she doesn’t know me from Eve except as all strangers know me, the really big and tall Amazon cop) in order to establish a flimsy basis for her decision about the file by my very presence, which will also be recorded in the file!

She’s going to try to ruin that girl’s life forever and force her out of the Zone as soon as she graduates. Even we wouldn’t be able to hire her if her case went in that file, and as for anyone else, she couldn’t get a job flipping burgers. As a newly made citizen, she couldn’t even go to Scarlet Fever Lane and be a Working Girl with the GLC run brothels. A brothel could lose it’s franchise if it was discovered using her. If Bernadette stays here, she’ll be reduced to a life of petty crime, begging, and homelessness.

A fine citizen she will be, a credit to the Matriarchal Ideal. When you rank as high as I do in any of the police forces you can’t hide from the fact that the Matriarchal Ideal is propped up by official terror and constant beatings. I’m still with FEM/DOM because, even though we hand out more beatings to female citizens than any other service, it is mostly to the already incarcerated to maintain prison discipline, so I get to chase the real bad guys like that smooth GLICIS perfume salesman, Henry Peterson, who was hidden so much in plain sight, that we overlooked him for five solid years!

Luckily, it wasn’t my unit that didn’t catch him. We didn’t even exist until Peterson was killed and the SEC/SPY scandal where that agency blew itself into oblivion by making the Zone violate the Six Genders Compact. We got the job they were supposed to be doing and, once we separated the wheat from the chaff, we absorbed the few there that actually knew how to do it. They are the backbone of we counters. I’m one of the few in the high ranks that started as a lowly beat cop.

Bernadette had nothing to say about it and didn’t know that it would drive her out of the Zone for good, probably destroying her dream. She’s from GLC, but the note I could write to my major counterintelligence source over there would probably either get her an offer to join GLCSIS or perhaps one of the subsidiary activities that are run by one of the lower level bureaucrats. She might even be picked up by GLCCA, though working under that dunce who runs it would be trying. They are supposed to be counterintelligence police but they are sloppy police, and the only counterintelligence they do is when GLCIS finds them some spys!

I don’t know how high my source is in the hierarchy over there, and she still won’t respond to any name but the one I gave her years ago, Julie. They might give Bernadette a new name and legend that would separate her from this punishment forever, whatever it might be. I had a feeling in my gut that there would be something even more devastating than the stroke of the pen of the Chief Matriarch. I was right. I was about to take Bernadette to Vauxhall Prison to receive her corporal punishment. I spoke for the first time, “Chief Matriarch, what are your orders for her corporal punishment, would you require the warrant that we have drafted for your signature, or would you prefer to assign a deputy to do it?”

“Give me the warrant, Captain, I intend to keep this matter completely “in house”. She said with a slight, cold smile. “The warrant will be returned to you with my note for her file. It will be signed but will not specify the actual punishment. I won’t say more. Since your position in counterintelligence is a delicate one, I order you to leave before this can go further. You brought two officers. I’ll need two more. Please call this request in outside and show them to my Hostess. Then you no longer will be required.”

“Yes, Chief Matriarch, as you wish,” and I was about to turn and leave, but she spoke again. “One final thing Captain, I know your superiors will need to know of this and be given a true explanation of my request and what you saw here, but make clear to them that I want your conversation with them to be given the highest possible security rating available. When I debrief your four officers, I will direct them to report immediately to your counterintelligence office to be advised of the level of secrecy this matter requires. Expect them sometime later in the day. You may go now.”

“Thank you, Chief Matriarch.” Then I turned, left, and, once outside, called for two more officers from the Perpetrator Security Department. These are the ones we use when we expect a physical struggle to occur in the regular run of police business. Whatever was going to go down in the Chief Matriarch’s house, it was clearly ugly enough, given her dispensing with me and using lower ranked officers, that I suspected some physical restraint of one or more of the players might be required.

All our officers carry tazers and nightsticks, but we try to keep the usage of them as limited as possible. Both can lead to serious injury and the tazer can actually cause death. And use of our concealed police firearms is even more limited. Since, from it’s inception, the Zone has prohibited all private firearms, we have seldom faced armed opponents, and our beat patrols of two officers each for every neighborhood have been so fine grained that, with our confreres in CUS/PAS giving the Zone such extremely tight borders, little to no weapons smuggling has even been attempted.

It makes policing in the Zone much safer than elsewhere.

Our average for our cadets is about the same height as the general run of Zone women, 5′ 5″. We set a lower height limit of 5′ 0″, but the shorter cadets have a more difficult time with the physical fitness requirement. About 1/3 of our officers fall below the average height, and the other two thirds above it to a practical height limit of my 5′ 11″. I’m taller than all but 1% of the force. It’s that 1% who are assigned to the Perpetrator Security Department. It was my second assignment after beat patrol. We met more stringent physical fitness requirements which were tested quarterly.

There were ten extremely tall women, all of them 6’+, in SEC/SPY Security that were hired and given strength training as part of their job duty. When that agency was dissolved, we took a very close look at them, but were unimpressed by their general level of intelligence and trainability. We demand more than mere “muscle” of ALL our officers, whatever their rank and duties. We winnowed out most of them, but found two that met both our physical fitness requirement, which focused on cardio and physical agility rather than strength moving resistance, and our intelligence requirement, although, just between us, they didn’t meet our intelligence requirement by all that much, and are still a little bit literal minded, but they are great gals, and we three, myself and Lieutenants Harper and Watson, were tight as a drum together, on duty and off.

When I was made Captain in Counterintelligence and second in command to Commander Norris, I was told privately that Harper and Watson probably wouldn’t make Captain in their careers. On some level, I think they already know that and are content to wait for age to lessen their physical capacity and to move on to desk work when that happens. I was, too. I thought that despite my intelligence and trainability, I simply was too physically outsize for the powers that be to see anything about me but my size. It is my great gratitude to them that I was wrong.

What I later said about Bernadette Johnson and the trouble she was in to my superior, Commander Norris, was essentially what I just said to you. She agreed that superficially, the Matriarch had made it impossible for Bernadette to live in the Zone after her citizenship is granted. And her directive will keep anyone from telling Bernadette or her father about that fact, so she will be driven out rather than just leave.

Then she said, “However, we must have extensive debriefing of the officers present, to confirm that the Matriarch said “the highest level of security”, because we will add these debriefing notes to Bernadette’s file, and follow this directive to the letter. The highest level of our security is something you may have heard of, but certainly never have never seen. It is called “Eyes Only/Code Red.”

“It’s mentioned in our Security and Standards handbook, but no details are given.”

She continued, “That’s because only the people cleared in house to even know about such documents know exactly what those details are. These documents cannot be accessed in any way through the regular electronic file system, even the separate Security Risk files. They are completely separated and held in hard copy form only by myself, by the Chief of Department, and by the second Commander Bryson. No one below our rank or not a member of Counterintelligence Department can have access to them. And only the Chief Matriarch and the Matriarchal Cabinet on the civilian side can request access to these documents.

“Now, Hawkins, pay attention to this because it’s part of the bureaucratic skills you will need to cultivate. Only we three FEM/DOM counterintelligence officers, and now you, even know that the highly cleared paper archive we hold exists. Certainly none of our political masters know of it, since we have never mentioned even its name anywhere but a brief note in our handbook. Now if somehow, the Chief Matriarch wishes to see that file, we will certainly show it to her, but that having been done, there will undoubtedly be no reason to mention how it is classified and to whom it’s restricted.

“No future employer of Bernadette will be allowed to even know about it. Indeed, the Chief Matriarch is so focused on covering the tracks of her highly irregular approach to this case that, except for the beating, there will be no revenge taken on Bernadette’s future. Since the Matriarch is not likely to keep a record of it, because of the political danger it represents, and your warrant will be deposited only in Bernadette’s file, no official record of her punishment will ever exist.

“You are a very lucky gal, Hawkins. By chance, the Chief Matriarch asked for someone from counterintelligence with the rank of Captain or higher, and you were available. That chance will make it far more necessary for us to work closely with you, rather than the other two Captains, and, in consequence share secrets with you that will be told to no one else. When the time comes around for you to apply for promotion, that will be of great importance. Your first task in this close relationship will be to debrief the other four officers.”

I said, “Commander, did you learn to do this sort of stuff in SEC/SPY?” She replied, “Yes, but more particularly, I worked under Micha Harretz. She HAD to be bureaucratically sharp. She was working in a “low carving on the totem pole” department with not much money more than paid the salaries for she and the four of us, and we had the hardest job in the building, catching the top level spies of our neighboring agencies, who were intelligent, careful, and well hidden. Since she was not in counterintelligence before she came to us, but on the other side of the hide-and-seek, she called it “tradecraft”. Micha really liked the four of us because we still retained our brains, despite it all. She also had her eye on one of the interrogators who still had half a brain, for a fifth subordinate, but something happened, I don’t know what.

“As you already know, in counterintelligence here we think that all that jargon impedes the mind. It must be useful in the “hide”, or they wouldn’t love it so much, but over here in the “seek” what we need is clarity and straight talk. The only thing that needs to be secret is our information. One of the things that brought SEC/SPY down was the obsessive need to keep everything about themselves secret. Mostly to protect the Black Widow driven interrogation, which they knew damn well violated the Six Genders Compact.

“Even on the hide side, GLCIS is a far better agency with far smarter spies than Dixieland’s Poison Julep, which is not even supposed to exist. The GLICIS Headquarters is openly in the middle of Downtown Chicago, just like ours in Montpelier. How they handle their personnel secrets, particularly their killers, is something I’d love to know. But we’d have to run agents to find out. To start all they would have to do is wander around the building and look for another entrance that has people regularly coming in and out. They don’t have indefinite detention over there so as long as you don’t break the law ANY light cover agent with that instruction would be perfectly safe. But the Matriarchal Cabinet still won’t hear of it.

“Anyway, we at Counterintelligence In The Streets were really good, far better than anybody but the interrogators, and a little better even than they were. We had neither their money nor the Black Widow to help. We were regularly taking long term spy scalps, and not just Henry Peterson’s, which made ALL of the supervisors at Haaretz’ bureaucratic level into enemies. And for no good reason. We weren’t asking for a bigger budget, making them lose money, nor for more people on staff. Micha herself said that too much money let people get lazy, and too many people meant more dunderheaded staff. Four or five truly sharp people were enough.

“The only reason they hated her (and it was hate) and tried to undermine her at every turn was that we were good. So she showed us how to fight in that environment and, more importantly, why you need to know this stuff even in a shop like FEM/DOM with genuinely high morale and willing cooperation. The beat patrols are happy as clams about our new AI analysis of their street reports. But things like this situation with Bernadette Johnson crop up all the time: the Chief Matriarch gets pissy and you have to finesse that fact. So we will do just that. And if anyone else reveals that we did, we merely followed her directive to jgive this matter the highest security possible.”

They sent Lieutenants Harper and Watson to me first. They were all of a flutter about something and asked for it. For some strange reason, the patrolies hadn’t returned. When they walked into my office, I said, “Hi girls. How’s trade?”

“Cherry, we have something horrible and dangerous to report,” said Harper. I overlooked the breach of discipline of using my first name, the two were obviously very upset and we had to get that out of the way first. “Go ahead,” I replied.

After we were let in the Matriarch’s house, we were shown into its Punishment Room at the rear of the first floor. When we walked in we saw something amazing! The door opened and the first thing there was the young woman we were told that the Matriarch wanted to see punished.

She was strapped to a punishment block longways from the door, naked, and her backside was totally covered in cane welts. It was swollen to what must have been about 1/3 larger than it’s normal size. The welts were very fresh and the last of them must have been laid on just before we entered the house. It was still swelling.

The girl was bawling her head off and trying to talk about it burning, but wasn’t making sense through her cry. Standing next to the block was our old executionress, Angie, dressed in all black as she used to be when giving those shriek filled canings on the Black Widow. She was flexing a heavy cane first in front and then behind her butt, smiling a little.

“Officers, we expect better manners than you’re showing. Introduce yourselves!” It was the Chief Matriarch, seated at the back wall, on an antique wooden throne with steps at the bottom. Her eyes were level with our eyes. When I looked at them I gave a shiver. “We’re sorry, Chief Matriarch, we didn’t see you when we entered. Please forgive us. I’m Lieutenant Harper and this is Lieutenant Watson. We’re from the Perpetrator Security department of FEM/DOM. We were sent here by Captain Hawkins of counterintelligence to help with an official punishment. How may we help you?”

The Chief Matriarch continued, “That’s better. You were obviously startled by the fact that this tramp of a young woman had been caned repeatedly. No doubt you are used to seeing strappings. This is as I ordered, and this is Ms. Angie Albertson, formerly of SEC/SPY, whose great expertise with a cane I have commanded.” The Matriarch paused as we both nodded in Angie’s direction. “We are familiar with one another, Matriarch,” Angie replied, “These officers were with SEC/SPY security. Nice to see you ladies, and nice to see that FEM/DOM has steadily promoted you.”

“We can exchange courtesies later. Officers, in the normal process of punishment. This Johnson woman stepped out of her place far further than the bare facts of her case would indicate. I ordered her caned until her bottom was completely covered in welts and that she have the pleasure of experiencing each welt swell to full size before another stroke was laid

“Angie is the best and most accurate caner in The Zone so I chose her to execute this punishment, and I’ve not been disappointed with her. As you can see, the 24 strokes have been so well laid on that none of them broke the surface of another and no blood has been drawn. Magnificent job Angie.”

“Thank you Matriarch, caning is my pleasure and that is only increased by your flattering summons.” Angie replied

“Can you hear me Bernadette Johnson? Can you speak to me?” the Matriarch asked imperiously. The young woman on the block managed a strangled, “Yes, Matriarch,” through the tousled golden hair scattered across her face.

“Angie has demonstrated excellent courtesy of address toward me. That fact is probably wasted on you, but I will mention it in passing. I spoke with your school, and I’m not going to interfere with your formal citizenship ceremony for reasons that will be clear in a moment. But I’ve been quite explicit about why you must be absent for two weeks, and I specifically told the principal not to conceal the reason from your teachers or your fellow students in hopes that you receive a very warm welcome by Zone women who know their place and take it.”

“Be warned, however, the place you so gracelessly stepped out of is no longer there for you. You will find no gainful employment in the Zone anywhere. I will see to that, and if you continue to stay here after your graduation, you will starve. Unless, of course, you join the whores on Massey Street. And even there, it is a criminal offense for a Zone Citizen to do that, or for a brothel to hire you, as is street begging.

“If you ever read the Bible, you know about the permanent mark God placed on Cain for killing his brother. I chose to have you caned and caned so expertly to experience the most possible pain I could arrange for you. But I also asked Angie to cane you hard enough that YOU will be marked permanently with scars from it for the rest of your life. You deserve no less.

“So the only way you will ever stay here is in a prison cell. These officers were surprised you were not being strapped, but in any of our prisons, I’m sure the guards will give you more than enough strapping for your hide to carry. And if I ever hear you are in prison here, I will make sure you are more than well strapped.

“Officers, we don’t have any way to move this piece of refuse from here, will one of you please step outside the room and arrange that.” I gestured to Watson and she left the room to call an EMT. The Matriarch rang a little handbell. Things were quiet for the moment, then the Hostess stepped in. “Brandy, please have the Maleservants clean up the urine from this little doxy.” “Right away, Matriarch!” she disappeared.

The Matriarch resumed.”We have more work to do, officers. Her non-citizen father barged in here and had the effrontery to question my judgment on his daughter. He is now in handcuffs with the first two FEM/DOM officers here.” At this point the Maleservants appeared with a bucket and mop, “Please swab up the urine around the punishment block, then bring in enough towels to thoroughly dry the floor. We will need the block again shortly.”

At this point Bernadette moaned, “Noooo!” The Matriarch continued, “Yes, young woman, your father is going to feel the bite of Angie’s cane, too. Feel it even more than you have. I’ve had to exercise restraint…” At this point I thought, if THIS is restraint, I’d hate to see her unrestrain herself, “…since you are a female citizen in training, your caning bears some reasonable resemblance to the normal penalty of a Level 1 strapping. But your father is merely a male non-citizen from GLC so I’ll be considerably less restrained, and so will Angie,” Angie’s smile had never left her and now was a big, wide grin.

We all knew she was personally sadistic at SEC/SPY, remember? At this point the Maleservants entered with a heap of towels, not looking anyone in the eye and in total silence. The Matriarch resumed, “Angie will give him at least 60 cane welts covering him completely from the top of his butt crack to the top of his knees. She will not need to be as fussy about it as she was for you. I want him scarred repeatedly and permanently as a lesson to the people who know him in GLC: Don’t come over here unless you behave with ABSOLUTE courtesy and respect toward your betters.”

Bernadette started to cry profusely again and was softly moaning “No, no, no, not my father, no.” “Not only won’t he sit down for weeks and walk crooked for longer, Angie knows from her years at the Black Widow how to drop cane welts exactly over the major lower dorsal nerve junctions. I have no problem with her doing that. So he may just lose the painless use of his butt and legs for a long, long time.”

Bernadette started shaking as well as crying and her moans louder. I heard the clatter of the EMT’s bringing the gurney up the front steps.

The Matriarch continued, “Then I’m going to have the officers take him immediately to the Kingston Bridge and throw him across the borderline in the middle of it. He can look for his own treatment. His place is in the dirt on the other side of the Hudson. Let him keep to it. Angie, have the officers bring him in.”

At this point we had a traffic jam caused by the EMT’s and the gurney. As soon as the door was cleared, Angie departed. The EMTs were undoing Bernadette’s bindings. I went outside for a moment with Watson and whispered, “Tell them to get her to both aftercare and treatment ASAP and not nerm around on the sidewalk with topicals. She needs aftercare immediately before they ice her down or she’ll scar horribly.”

Angie, the low rank beat cops and the father reached the door and entered, I followed closely, trying to look as if I went out to make sure the Matriarch’s wishes were being served. The father was gagged. He must have been making a nuisance of himself wherever they were holding him. Good thing. If he hadn’t been, as he saw his naked daughter’s lacerated bottom, he would have screamed at the top of his lungs. He tried anyway. And as he saw his daughter taken away to who knows where he struggled against the officers for one last time. Then he went limp, defeated.

The Matriarch spoke, “Lieutenant, I think we now have matters well in hand. Thank Captain Hawkins for me. She must have read my mind sending you two outsized officers. But the smaller ladies don’t seem to have had any trouble with him, and the bruises I already see on him are a tribute to their skill. You may go.” That was it, Watson and I have returned. The other officers will probably be ordered to take Daddy away as soon as he’s been caned to pork sausage, so they may not be here until tomorrow. I’ve not seen anything this rough since the old crippling canings on the Black Widow. I must be getting old, it’s starting to make me sick.

I remarked to Harper, “We’re all getting old, and if not wiser then probably at least more humane. You took a very serious risk with directing the EMT’s, officially I don’t like that you did it, but unofficially I’m proud of you. At least the Matriarch thanked me.” I said, “after that little tale I’m sure it would be a very bad thing to ever get on her bad side. By the way, in this building and on duty I’m Captain Hawkins, not “Cherry”. Don’t use my first name on duty again.” “Yes, m’am, Captain.”

In case you’re wondering what Lieutenant Watson had to say about this, rest assured I wasn’t. She’s the strong, silent type.

The next day the two lower ranking officers were brought in when they arrived in the late afternoon. At the start of the interview they essentially confirmed my version of events, including the passage about “the highest level of security”, then they spoke of Bernadette’s caning and confirmed what the Matriarch had already said, each welt was allowed to fully swell until the next one was laid down. This took about 20 seconds apiece. In those intervals, the Matriarch constantly taunted her about her new zone citizenship-to-be, her personal erotic life, and the hell on earth that this caning was going to create for her. Since the direct quotation of these is sickening, I omit it.

In the middle of this Bernadette’s father barged in and started a tirade. The Matriarch interrupted him as he paused for breath and ordered them to cuff him, gag him, and see the Housekeeper about a place to put him where he could wait until called for. He wasn’t by any means a small man and he was enraged, so the ladies had to get very rough in subduing him, not just pinning one or both arms, but actually having to use the punches we are taught to disable someone’s wind and nerves briefly while we get him pinned. They got him cuffed and had to drag him out of the punishment room because he went limp. As they dragged him away they glanced back and saw both Angie and the Chief Matriarch smiling.

In case your wondering what my good Lieutenant buddies would have done, one would stand in front of the perp and quickly grab his wrists, twist them and lift him off the floor. The pain of the twist would distract the perp enough for him to be lifted in the air, and his arms forced back to the second Lieutenant behind him would do the cuffing, then each would take one armpit and walk him, still in the air, over to the waiting electrocar. Before putting the perp in, they would each grab his cuffed wrist again with one hand, and if he tried any shenanigans as they put him in, they would twist each wrist in the opposite direction. I was part of this maneuver many times, and it works. Reliably. No matter how large or feisty the perp, he will have nothing more than sprained wrists if he fought too hard. We once timed this maneuver in sparring, and it took all of 3 1/2 seconds to get the volunteer cuffed. That’s why they keep we big gals around.

The smaller officers then proceeded to describe the caning of Bernadette’s father. This time Angie laid down her first hard cane welts about 2 inches apart all the way down to the knees at a 35 degree angle to the body, then she came back up perpendicular to the body so that the welt of each of the tilted strokes was broken in two places by another stroke laid over top of it. The man on the the bench began to wince and make hard grunts at each stroke. It took a couple of strokes for Angie to get the right handle on this, but about 1/3 up the thighs the crossing points started to bleed. The face of the Chief Matriarch was set in stone.

Then Angie came down again in the perpendicular placing each new cane welt exactly between each of the last perpendicular cane welts, thus breaking new places in the diagonal welts which immediately started bleeding. The man started to yell uncontrollably with each stroke. Angie would stop every so often to savor the yells as they pushed higher in pitch to screams. Finally she repeated the diagonal set of welts but this time slanted in the opposite direction. The man’s butt and thighs were now covered with dozens of lacerations each very slowly oozing blood and pus.

Now Angie, at the top of the butt crack started down perpendicular, but this time placed the strokes “well laid on” evenly side by side with no gap between them. As this started, the man’s screams picked up in volume and turned into shrieks. About 1/3 down the legs, the man blacked out and his noise stopped. The Chief Matriarch now had a small satisfied grin on her face and Angie was higher than a kite with the flow of her endorphins and, even with the black clothing, you could see clearly that her crotch was very, very wet.

Now that every square inch of the man’s butt and thighs had been covered by at least one stroke and welt and the bleeding cross points were innumerable, Angie started to strike over and over again at the fold separating buttock and thigh, first from one side of the quiescent body and then from the other. A stripe of pure bleeding red purple began to seep out. When that was stable, Angie went and caned, with greater force, the side of the thigh at each end of the long, bleeding red line. With every step of this process the new wounds became deeper and the blood from them was more than just a slow trickle. In fact, for a few minutes the bleed was profuse then it slowed.

Angie, went down to just above the knees and set a similar ring of oozing blood around each knee. Finally she looked up with a post orgasmic face, shook blood off her cane and stood facing the Enthroned older woman, “Is this satisfactory, Chief Matriarch?” “Is every inch of him covered?” “Yes, every inch.” “Will he bleed out and die?” “No, Matriarch, the bleeding is nowhere profuse enough to bleed out. In fact, the first cane crossing points are already starting to scab.” “And the nerve crossings?” “That was the last set of strokes around his butt and knees. It would take much much longer to cause more damage.” “Satisfactory Angie,” said the Matriarch, “We both must wait six months for the changes in the Matriarchal Cabinet. When that happens, I won’t forget you. I’ll call the Housekeeper.”

She rang the small handbell. “Give this lady the opportunity for a hot shower, followed by a hot tub bath.” “Thank you, Matriarch. That will considerably lessen my muscle stiffness tomorrow.” Angie withdrew. “Officers, I believe you heard my informal description of what I want done. Drive this man to Rhinebeck, take him on the Rhinebeck/Kingston bridge up to the boundary line, then drop him on the GLC side. Return home, and have Captain Hawkins brief you in detail, but for now suffice it to say that everything you have seen and heard must not be told to anyone but Captain Hawkins and the Counterintelligence Triumvirate. Nothing. You may go and take this scabrous leper with you.”

“It was luck that we took one of the electrovans, principally because you were going to accompany us, sir.” I smiled, and said, “I know very well I’m a handful, ladies and it was more comfortable for me, so thank you.”

They stated that Bernadette’s father didn’t come to until they were well out of Montpellier. They had taken him out with the portable stretcher that’s in all our electrovans, and tied it down to the metal u-bolts on the floor available when the rear seat is folded down, leaving him on the stretcher face down. Most of his wounds had stopped oozing and scabbed over.

When he awoke, groaning, the passenger cop asked, can you hear and understand us. He croaked yes. They then told him that, for his comfort and, eventually, his healing he needed to move as little as possible. They described the scores of scabs across his butt and thighs and told him that breaking any one of them would just make that scar deeper. They gave him a brief description of what happened to his body after he blacked out, but nothing more.

All our cars are allowed to carry 6 sealed strong opioid tablets for cases of unendurable pain. They stopped, gave two to him and he slowly fell asleep. They reached the town an hour and a half before dusk by exercising our prerogative to travel above the posted speed limit when we can do so safely, and there was almost no traffic on the roads.

They reported to the Rhinecliff FEM/DOM station and bunkhouse, advising the local Commander of their situation and requesting two back up sets of eyes to testify about what happened should that ever become necessary. After a phone call to Montpellier that was transferred to me, I advised the Commander that no matter how loony and cruel this sounded, it was necessary for purposes of the highest secrecy in counterintelligence. I reiterated their request for a 2 pair of eyes as witnesses. Those officers and Commander should not tell anyone else anything, period. If asked the querant should be referred to me by name and Dictapad extension at Montpellier counterintelligence.

The four officers rode in the electrovan to the bridge. Before they left, they gave Bernadette’s father the second dose of opioid when they found him moaning in the van’s rear. The bridge wasn’t far away and he had absorbed just the right amount of the drug that he might have a fighting chance of walking the rest of the bridge on his own.

Our Rhinecliff comrades explained the situation to a very puzzled CUS/PAS and then came back. The sun was still in the sky over Kingston but was orange and headed low. They brought the stretcher to the border, and, before they could even get it unloaded, wonder of wonders, an EMT squad appeared, lights flashing but no siren on the Kingston side. Two EMT’s emerged with a far better stretcher and started at a double time march with it towards them on the bridge. The GLC squad members were there in a reasonable amount of time and we transferred the poor man to the other stretcher, informing the EMT’s that it was a nasty one with perhaps as many as 75 untreated cane wounds that were deliberately placed to draw blood, that this was a GLC citizen who had been separated from his papers at the caning and he had been dosed twice with opioids by us. “We know about him, we know about how nasty his condition might be, but we thank you for filling us in about how he got to this state.” One of them said.

Then we each went our separate ways. We scratched our heads over the arrival of this squad, wondering if the Rhinebeck Commander had called across the border or maybe you had from Montpellier. The Commander denied it and we’re still in the dark about why it happened. The two officers that had come with us said that, on the Kingston side, the guys were from the local Volunteer Fire Department and that they had to be laying in wait to get there that quickly. We bunked down in Rhinecliff, used their shower in the morning and now we’re here.

You don’t need to hear the usual song and dance about how secret it had to be, but they did, so I played it for them. And the next day came the explosion, which I should have seen coming, but was juggling too many balls to think of it. Of course, my boss, Commander Norris, had seen it, and had put in the call for the EMT for both humanitarian reasons and to get the explosion to happen as fast as possible.

With all this running around trying to hush things up, there were two people who’s mouths couldn’t be shut: Bernadette and her father. After the fact, when I had a breathing space, I looked up the story on Daddy. He just happened to be the brother of the Homeland Secretary of GLC! And Bernadette was the Secretary’s niece. After the fact, I heard the substance of part of the call the Matriarch received from the GLC President at 9:00 the next morning.

The then current GLC President had a reputation of being able to say the most explosive things in the voice that you and I would use to discuss the weather. He is said to have opened the conversation with, “Amy, this is Gerald, my Homeland Secretary has just told me that you had both his brother and his niece caned to hamburger yesterday, with the intention of leaving them scarred for life. Why did you do that?”

No one would tell me how the Chief Matriarch responded. But at the end of the conversation, the President said to her, “Amy, the Diaspora has made us all too poor to field and supply armies, but if we weren’t, this incident would be treated as an act of war, and given how open and unprotected your Matriarch Residence is, instead of a polite phone call you would already be in custody as a war criminal.

“I will be recalling our Ambassador, informing yours she is no longer welcome, and informing the Head of World Negotiations that we have broken off diplomatic relations and why. I’m sure he will have something to tell the world about what you have done. Fully 3/4 of the Zone’s consumer goods are funneled through Kingston or Albany. As of this morning that will cease. So If I were you I’d get to work on upgrading your Montpellier Airport cargo capacity and your Manchester Open Seaport.

“I will make no effort to stop private cross border travel and emergency communications, but be warned that unless they travel incognito, your citizens, female and male, will be at high personal risk. I already had enough of a headache keeping anti-Matriarchal sentiment under control here and now this will make me lose it. Power corrupts, which is a very good reason for my term limits. Privately, Gerald to Amy, I have no hesitation in saying that power has totally corrupted YOU. Good day.”

The news outlets in GLC had the story by 11 am, by noon questions were being asked about it in the Bicameral Legislature. The upper house of that legislature is actually a Parliament, from which the President is given his cabinet of Parilmentary members, and their questions that afternoon to the Prime Minister about the whole affair had to go unanswered until “more investigation occurred”. The news outlets had interviews with the Kingston EMT’s in place by the 7pm Nightly News.

Bernadette herself gave a Dictapad interview from her residence in the Zone where she was recuperating, at 11 pm, which was broadcast directly to the GLC viewers with their breakfast news at 7:30 am. This interview was devastating. It contained many direct quotations of the Matriarch herself matching substantially what I and my fellow officers had heard as it happened, the Mark of Cain quotation, particularly, made quite a hit with the GLC media. The nightly editorial readers of several networks had the fun of reading the story of Cain to their viewers to get them up to speed.

Daddy was still in the ICU of Peter Vanderwagon Regional Hospital in Upstate New York. By the time the dust had settled, the entire story (except, of course, for the counterintelligence bureaucratic component) was out in the open from Bernadette’s rude gesture to Daddy’s transferral across the Zone/GLC line as the sun set in the West.

The President used his executive authority to close all commercial traffic through the Albany and Kingston bridges and it stayed closed 5 full years of the next Presidential term due to the pressure of steadily growing anti-matriarchal feeling among the public and the lawmakers of GLC.

The story also contained an interesting side light on how and why Bernadette was expected to recover with minimal scarring. A Zone Amateur Botanist was traveling in Singapore five years before when she somehow got an invitation to attend a juvenile Judicial Caning. The canes are 3/4 to 1in thick and 4 feet long, they are swung two handed like baseball bats and they gain so much velocity from the leverage that it takes only 6 cane welts to entirely cover the perpetrator’s butt!

Such canes are incredibly dangerous. They can slip from your hands and go flying anywhere. So there is a tightly stretched heavy canvas wall with a hole just large enough for the perp’s bare butt to stick through. The pain is so great shrieks from everyone start from the first blow and the worst offenders or repeat offenders can be caned as much as 21 times!

But the aftercare was the most intriguing thing. The twelve people who had been caned that morning were lying, moaning, bottom up, on separate stretchers, and one of the guards was rubbing a green herbal compound into the 12 lacerated buttocks. He would go from one to one to the other, and when he finished with the 12th one, he went back to the first. When she asked, he said it was a mixture of herb leaves in animal fat that had strong astringent properties and kept the caned to acquiring, at the most, only one or two scars, and, for many, no scars at all.

A little investigation found the compound for sale in a local open market, and also some seeds of the plant, which she brought back to the Zone and started. Bernadette happened to arrive at Montpellier General Hospital just as they were starting to test the compound on cane welts. Bernadette’s bottom was the perfect trial, so, before the icing, she lay face down for two hours with a pair of incontinence panties stuffed liberally with the new poultice. She was then iced down to reduce the welt swelling.

For the next several weeks, most of Bernadette’s new skin grew back clean and clear. The sole scar left was at the base of her butt where it meets the right thigh, as was the nerve damage. She never sat down again without a mild twinge of the scar pressing on the damaged nerve. The Chief Matriarch got her wish and Bernadette’s bottom carried the mark of Cain. With the constant daily reminder of that beating, as well as the contact with her father’s abject misery, she made, we now know, a private vow to kill both Angie and the Chief Matriarch, if that could be, and calculated (correctly in the end) that if killed together there would be even more worthwhile collateral damage.

She also told herself that such an act would probably require her own death as well. Once again she was right. Though it may have seemed anti-climatic after the major explosion, there was one other important result of the Matriarch’s malice. By spreading Bernadette’s shame to her school, she clearly hoped that Bernadette would be bullied or shunned for the last weeks of her citizenship training. Precisely the opposite happened.

Since the entire story was soon known, Bernadette was perfectly willing to show off her scarred bottom in the woman’s restroom to any of her female peers, a photo of her father’s scarred butt and legs anywhere else, as well as the original gesture she had made at the matriarch. And she informally told her story from what was an exceptional memory for the actual words in any ad hoc or informal gathering of teens.

The power of this story set a lot of students to questioning what their own “place” in the Matriarchal Zone’s standing really was and whether that place was really worth it. Questions which, once asked, never let you rest from your dissonance with them. The truth was on Bernadette’s side, and that is all that is needed to begin to foment sedition, particularly among the young.

And it was all the worse as there was nary a peep of reproach for the Chief Matriarch by members of the House of Matriarchs. They apparently didn’t think it was “their place” to do so.

A very strange thing started to happen. Any store with cheap jewelry carrying the initial “B” could just never seem to keep that letter in stock. It suddenly was a teen fashion first in Montpellier, then in the rest of the Zone as the outrage of World opinion grew. More and more of Bernadette’s classmates showed up with the letter B on their person and it became a sign of solidarity, a secret code that bypassed almost all of their teachers and made the ones that felt only the emotional sedition behind it uneasy.

By the time of graduation, just about every teen in school had obtained one of the lockets or the pendants or the rings and wore them to the ceremony. It was the usual synthetic occasion of pomp and circumstance. The ceremony droned on and on but at the handing out of the little tokens on paper, a Citizenship Certificate and a Dominant Woman’s License, Bernadette’s name was called somewhere near the end, and as she claimed her certificates she received a spontaneous standing ovation. She waved to the crowd, stepped off the platform, walked out of the ceremony and was never seen in the Zone again for many years.

The Chief Matriarch heard the story 3 days later and, when no trace of Bernadette could be found, bedeviled FEM/DOM counterintelligence for almost a year insisting that they find the girl and spy on her, but to no avail. In the coming years, a surprising number of Montpellier teens kept the little B token. Most didn’t wear it too much or too openly, but they always kept it on their person and would occasionally show it briefly, without comment, before putting it away. And some of the other people they were with might respond by briefly showing a B themselves.

Thus the sedition was kept alive as the people whose hearts it had riven grew older and accomplished more in their lives. After 10 years, it became not uncommon to see it worn again on the neck of women of importance and it was an almost perfect sign of freemasonry among those whose lives were sewn with doubt by the story of Bernadette and her sadistic beating. The story stayed among them, too, as stories do despite every attempt of the powers that be to stamp them out.

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