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Rated: 18+ · Novella · Sci-fi · #2081316
A woman named Raleigh shrinks the non-white portion of humanity
Chapter 7: Arrival of the Protesters

Hayley quickly dragged her tongue across her forearm, and lapped up the ten captives who had been entertaining her. In seconds, they were thrust to the back of her mouth, and down her esophagus to her stomach, where they were quickly forgotten. As Chip and the girls headed back to the parking structure on Marsh street, Hayley recognized one of the guys who was protesting. She waved to him as she left, and he saw her and waved back. He had gone to Matheson University with Hayley and her friends the year before, but he had moved away last semester. He was a very talented football player. It took about fifteen minutes to load up the captives, and when they returned, the protesters had come up with a mantra that they kept repeating: "People are not for sale! You should go to jail!"

Hayley walked up to the guy she knew, and gave him a hug. He stopped repeating the mantra the others were chanting, and returned Hayley's hug. He was one of the few protesters who wasn't carrying a sign.

"You were the best football player at our university!" said Hayley. "What's it like playing for Cal Poly?"

"Actually, I play for Cal State Northridge!" the boy said. "My dad got a job there, that's why I had to move!"

"Why are you protesting?" Hayley asked.

"You should be protesting, too!" the guy said.

Meanwhile, Pearl, Susan, and Crystal Mae were observing Hayley, although they couldn't hear the conversation. "He's a traitor to his race!" said Crystal Mae. With her white supremacist tattoos and her swastika necklace, it was clear where Crystal Mae stood on the issue. "The shrunken people are just micro-slaves now! They have fallen under our dominion, and it's our destiny to rule over them as a race of gods!"

"That protester she's talking to is hot!" Susan said to Crystal Mae. "I hope he doesn't turn Hayley into a bleeding heart!"

Hayley stepped closer to the guy she was talking to and asked, "Why are you all fired up about helping Raleigh's victims?"

"They should have the right to live just like everyone else!" the boy said. "Being black or Mexican shouldn't cancel out your right to be considered human! One day they were people, the next day they were toys! How do you feel about what's been happening, Hayley?"

"I never had a problem with people who weren't white, but now that Raleigh has jump-started a revolution, I say why not go with the flow?"

"But that's so wrong!" said the boy.

"Look, it really won't make any difference if you protest!" said Hayley. "The world has changed, and it'll never go back to the way it was before! I didn't ask for this to happen, but now we all have to deal with a world we didn't create!"

Hayley reluctantly waved at the boy, and turned around to walk back to Pearl and Hannah and the others, but before she left, the boy grabbed her shoulders gently, tilted her body back toward his, and kissed her on the cheek. As he did this, he stuck a business card in her right hand. As Hayley left him and returned to her friends, she saw that the business card had his cell phone number on the front.

"Call me!" he said as she turned away and stuck the card in her pocket. Crystal Mae was especially upset that Hayley had talked to the protester, and stood there with her arms crossed in front of her, as if she expected an explanation or an apology from Hayley.

"Did he convince you to turn away from the dark side?" Susan asked.

"He tried to," said Hayley, "but I think his perspective is weird. I mean, if I had a choice when Raleigh first showed up, I would've voted for her not to go through with any of this! But seeing as to how Raleigh didn't give anyone a choice, and this is the way the world is now, I just can't feel any sympathy for anyone who's against her!"

"Those guys are weirdos!" said Crystal Mae. "They're all traitors to their race! Raleigh should establish a new world order, and outlaw anyone who's against us, and shrink them, too!"

After a few minutes, as the clock in the square approached 9:00 a.m., Polly approached Chip with some news. "One of the fembots said we can only take as many captives as we can carry away in one load. I asked if we could use a hand cart, and she told me we could!"

"Are you serious?" said Chip. "I need to get to a hardware store!"

Chip ran back to the parking garage and got in his truck without saying goodbye to the others. By the time he got back from the hardware store and parked back in the parking structure, it was past 9:00, but only by about fifteen minutes. He pushed the hand cart through the crowd, and approached the tables where the fembots were handing out captives. Chip grabbed thirty boxes, and used bungee cords to strap the boxes to the hand cart. The girls already had their additional captives, and nobody was allowed to return for more. The fembots had a way of calculating who had been there already, and how many captives each person had acquired.

Chip, his sister Pearl, and her six friends marched back to the parking structure, where Chip abandoned the hand cart because there was no room for it in the bed of his truck. There were about a hundred and fifty cardboard boxes, with a thousand captives in each box, and the girls put most of the boxes in the back of Chip's truck, because there wasn't enough room in the other two cars. The rest of the boxes were in the backseat of G-girl's car, because nobody was sitting back there.

Everyone rode in the same car on the way back as they did on the way up. Susan Stabler was in the back seat of Hannah Holland's car, sitting next to Crystal Mae Miller. Susan still had ten captives astride each of her legs, for a total of twenty. They had done a pretty good job of holding onto the threads of Susan's fishnets while she had walked from the courthouse to the parking structure. They didn't understand English, but they had enough common sense to realize that they stood a better chance of survival as Susan's slave-toys than they had as ant-sized fugitives struggling to survive in a world of titans.

Once they were on the 101 freeway heading south, Susan had an idea. "Crystal Mae, let's play a game!"

"Does it involve swallowing captives?" Crystal Mae asked.

"Yeah!" said Susan. "Let's gamble!"

Crystal Mae reached her right hand under the collar of her tank top, into her bra, and pulled out a transparent titanium cartridge and set it on her right thigh, next to Susan. "I only have ten of them on me, so we're gonna have to bet one at a time!"

All of the captives on Susan's left leg were on her thigh and kneecap, while the captives on her right leg were on her calf. Susan lifted her left leg and rested it on her right leg, then plucked the captives from her right calf and dropped them on her left thigh, until all twenty of them were there.

"What did you have in mind?" Crystal Mae asked.

"Rock, paper, scissors!" said Susan. "We'll each bet one captive at a time! Okay, let's go!"

Both girls shook their fists in front of them and said, "One," then did it again, and said, "two," then on three, Crystal Mae had her hand miming a pair of scissors, while Susan was miming a piece of paper.

"Scissors beats paper!" said Crystal Mae, then she grabbed Susan's shrunken slave-toy and popped him into her mouth, and swallowed him. For the shrunken captive, there was never any hope; the thumb and index finger of Crystal Mae's right hand were so much more powerful than he was that it wouldn't have made any difference if he had been in the basement of a ten story building at the exact instant it was detonated by demolition experts. He was overwhelmed by the force of her tongue as he was plunged to the back of her mouth, and a massive volley of saliva dragged him down her esophagus into her stomach, where he spent the last several minutes of his life trying to determine by sense of smell what Crystal Mae had last eaten, never even knowing the name of his conqueror as the interior of her belly became his final resting place.

Crystal Mae Miller was the last of Pearl Grinder's friends who would ever come close to showing anything resembling mercy toward shrunken captives. Susan Stabler was second in line as far as being merciless, and on the other end of the spectrum, a few of Pearl's friends were probably slightly more merciful, but even they thought it was amusing to swallow captives, and to watch them get swallowed. Pearl and her friends were like a pantheon of vengeful goddesses who were incapable of being appeased, and Crystal Mae Miller was the cruelest of them all. For Crystal Mae's captives, there was no hope of survival; it was just a matter of time until they passed through her inescapable digestive system.

For the record, during the "Rock, Paper, Scissors" games that were played in the backseat of Hannah's car on the ride back from San Luis Obispo to Arroyo Lucia that morning, Crystal Mae won thirteen times, and Susan won seventeen times. By the time they reached the street Pearl lived on, all thirty of the captives had been vanquished. When Hannah navigated through the maze of abandoned cars left by the Mexicans the night before, parked, and shut the engine off, Susan was licking her index finger dramatically, to illustrate that she had just swallowed the last captive. Everyone unloaded the truck, and carried the boxes of captives into Pearl's living room.

"Where are we going to keep all these captives?" Pearl asked Chip.

"Sparky gave me the plans for building a brick structure with the schematics for something similar to a bug zapper grid surrounding the perimeter to keep them from escaping. It'll be about three feet high, and I can make it as big as I need to."

"When can you get started on it?" said Pearl.

"I can call the construction supply yard Monday, to get the bricks and cement mix."

"Monday?" said Pearl. "Chip, you need to build it today! Look at all these shrunken captives we have!"

Chip pulled out his cell phone. "I know the nephew of the guy who owns the construction yard, and I think I can get him to open the yard for me if I pay him cash. I've got a lot of money stashed in the safe in my bedroom, so that's not a problem. By the way, while I'm gone, call a tow truck and have them haul away all those cars that belonged to the Mexicans who got shrunk at the party last night."

After Chip left to go to the construction yard to get supplies for his project, Pearl looked up the number of a towing service while the other girls divided up the captives. Chip had more than anyone, but the rest of the girls each had about the same amount. Taz was amazed that they had scored so many.

"I think we should all divide up part of our captives," said Hannah, "and give them to Taz. She couldn't go with us, so she shouldn't miss out."

All of the girls agreed, and soon they were divided out. Within minutes, Taz had the same amount of captives as everyone else. Chip's captives were put aside, awaiting his return.

"I think we should do something about those Mexicans from Ashwood City!" Taz informed the group. "They all hate Sparky, and we need to get rid of them, before they hurt him!"

G-girl stood up, and addressed Hannah. "Trade me all of your captives from Ashwood City for an equal number of my Chinese ones!"

Hearing this, Misty stood up within the transparent titanium cartridge she shared with Sparky, Zu-Zu, and Wam-Wam. She had a wide view of G-girl and the other girls, and she could also see most of the area within the clay walls of the miniature clay city that contained the cartridges that housed her homeboys.

"No problem!" said Hannah. "I only have three hundred. Crystal Mae has a hundred and eighty, and Taz has a hundred and twenty, if I remember right!"

"Listen up!" G-girl said to everyone. "Anyone who has Mexican captives from Ashwood City, trade them with me! I want all of them!"

For the next several minutes, the girls bartered with one another, until at last, G-girl had all of the transparent titanium cartridges containing the Mexicans from Ashwood City. G-girl ordered Taz and Polly to collect all of the cartridges containing the local Mexicans, and put them on a shelf where they would not be confused with the Ashwood City captives. Finally, G-girl opened all of the cartridges containing the Ashwood City Mexicans, and dumped them out within the clay walls of the miniature clay city on Pearl's dining room table. There were hundreds of them.

The first thing G-girl did was to address the tiny captives. "I will be your goddess today!" G-girl said, "And on the menu today, we have you!"

G-girl broke apart the two clay bricks directly in front of her, and ripped a section of the wall apart. Clenching her right hand into a fist, G-girl slammed it down on a group of captives, crushing them into a bloody pulp. G-girl lifted her fist, turned it over so she could see her handiwork, and smiled when she saw the crushed ant-sized corpses stuck to her hand. G-girl licked up the gore until her hand was clean, then slammed her fist down on more victims.

While G-girl did this, within the cartridge she was trapped in, Misty threw her arms around Sparky, and focused her eyes on the carnage. Without blinking, Misty witnessed the horror of it all as she dug her fingernails into Sparky's shoulders. There was nothing she could do as her family members and close friends were slaughtered like insects.

Instead of carefully licking up the corpses of her second group of victims, G-girl slammed her fist down again and again, and kept repeating the process until there wasn't a single survivor. A puddle of blood, flesh, and clothing littered the surface of Pearl's dining room table. G-girl was given a standing ovation by the other girls, but she wasn't done yet. G-girl dragged her palms across the table, licked her palms clean, then did it again. She kept trying to lap up the blood and flesh of the miniaturized victims, until Pearl came up behind her, and put her hand on G-girl's shoulder.

"I don't think you'll ever be able to lick up every milligram of flesh and blood, G-girl!"

"Well, I can sure as hell try!" said G-girl, as she dragged her right palm across the table and licked it again.

"I thought racial hatred was intense," Crystal Mae told G-girl, "but hatred between enemy gang members takes the cake!"

Inside Sparky's transparent cartridge, Misty had tears in her eyes, and she still had her head tilted away from Sparky's face, looking at the destruction. She held her fist in the air and said, "If only our positions could be reversed, I'd destroy that bitch!"

Soon after the captives from Ashwood City were vanquished by G-girl, Chip returned to build the brick structure where the captives would be contained. Chip had to rent a trailer that he hooked up to his truck to haul the bricks and concrete mix. Chip had contacted six of his construction worker buddies to help him, and they got to work in the backyard. Chip had rented a cement mixer, and he used it to mix the concrete mix and water to use as mortar. Chip's buddies knew what he was going to use the brick structure for, and agreed that it was a good idea to contain captives in such an efficient way.

When they had first started, the concrete foundation was poured within a wooden frame that Chip and the guys had hammered together, then they got to work doing the masonry. Five hours later, when it was completed, a three foot high brick structure dominated the center of the backyard. It was perfectly square, ten feet in diameter.

When the job was done, Chip went to the safe he kept in his bedroom, and pulled out a hundred dollar bill for each guy. After they left, Chip dropped down on one of the couches in the living room, his shirt almost completely covered with sweat and dry cement.

"Now we just have to wait for the mortar to dry!" said Chip.

Chapter 8: A Gamble pays Off

Chip was crashed out on the couch until late in the afternoon. While he slept, Pearl, Hannah, Taz, and G-girl were playing poker at the dining room table, using transparent titanium cartridges of captives instead of money or chips. Hannah had won more captives than anyone, and while sitting there playing poker she had worked up a hearty appetite. Under normal circumstances, before the arrival of Raleigh, the hunger of a young woman in her mid-twenties would not have been cause for alarm. But in this world, where the majority of the human race had been reduced to the size of insects, Hannah's hunger spelled certain doom for the ant-sized captives trapped within the transparent cartridges stacked near her forearm.

"Let's take a break," said Hannah. Pearl, Taz, and G-girl agreed, and went to the fridge to get sodas. While everyone relaxed, Hannah opened three of her transparent cartridges, one at a time. When they were all open, she used her left hand to dump the captives onto her right forearm. Nobody had swallowed a captive in several hours, so when Hayley, Susan, Ashley, and Crystal Mae saw what Hannah was about to do, they left the living room and went over to the dining room table to watch the spectacle.

There had been ten captives in each cartridge, so there were now thirty captives astride Hannah's forearm. Pearl, Taz, Polly, and G-girl joined the group to watch Hannah conquer the captives. Hannah addressed them, but since they were all Asian, none of them spoke English.

"I'll give you two choices!" said Hannah. "You can either surrender to my belly, or journey down my gullet! Now, what's it going to be?"

Some of the other girls laughed at this no-win scenario. Another reason they laughed was because whenever Hannah addressed miniaturized captives, she used an authoritative tone of voice that she would never use when she spoke to someone who was normal size. Some of the other girls could relate to this, because they were all guilty of doing it to some degree. If you felt like a god, you had a tendency to try to act like one. Hannah spit on the captives, and they struggled to swim to the surface. Hannah dragged her tongue across a portion of her forearm, but only enough to lick up about a dozen captives.

Chip woke up when he heard the laughter of his sister Pearl and her friends. He got up and went upstairs. After showering, he came downstairs and fixed a sandwich. By that time, Hannah's captives were long since vanquished. Hannah, G-girl, Pearl, and Taz were once again playing poker.

"Are you guys just playing for fun?" said Chip.

"We're playing for captives!" said G-girl.

Chip sat down and decided to play. After winning a few hands, Chip decided to up the stakes. "How about we play for real money?"

They all agreed to play for five dollars a hand, with poker chips used to represent money. When it came time to collect after each hand, the chips would be exchanged for money. Chip did pretty good, winning most of the hands. Since he was feeling bold, he made a suggestion. "How about we up the ante? Let's play for a thousand dollars a hand!"

G-girl and Taz put their cards down. Hannah said, "You guys can play, too! I'll donate a thousand dollars to each of you if you lose!"

G-girl and Taz each took a chip and started to play. It seemed as though Chip's luck had ran out when he upped the ante; he lost to G-girl, then played another hand, and lost to Taz. Chip, Pearl, and Hannah were already wealthy, but G-girl and Taz were middle-class. Hand after hand was played, and everyone won at least three times except Chip, who threw his cards down after the twelfth hand.

"Damn it! That's three grand I've lost to each of you!"

"How about we play for double or nothing?" said G-girl. "It'll give you a chance to win some of your money back."

"You only have three thousand!" said Chip. "If I win, you won't be able to pay me six grand!"

"No," said G-girl, "let's play like this! If you win, you don't have to pay us! But if we win, you double our money!"

"You're on!" said Chip, and they resumed playing. Pearl lost on the first hand, but G-girl won the first and second hands. Taz doubled her money on the third hand. Pearl won the next game. During the next hand Hannah finally lost to Chip, his first victory since upping the ante. An hour later, three of the girls were at twelve thousand, while Hannah was at six thousand. Every time G-girl or Taz had lost, Pearl and Hannah had taken turns providing them with credit, and they both had won big.

Now was a crucial hand: If G-girl, Taz, or Pearl won, one of them would take twenty four thousand dollars from Chip. Looking at his cards, Chip saw that he had a straight. Knowing the odds, he figured that now was the time to make up for all of the money he had lost. He put double the amount of chips in front of him, and said, "Let's double the stakes!"

If Hannah or Pearl lost, he would get either twelve thousand from Hannah, or from Pearl. Chip still owed Pearl and Taz six thousand, but they folded. Now it was just Chip, G-girl, and Hannah in the game. If G-girl lost, she wouldn't have to pay Chip, that was the deal. If G-girl won, she would collect forty eight thousand dollars from Chip. Hannah and Chip put their cards down at the same time. Hannah held a straight, but Chip's straight beat hers. As Chip reached for Hannah's chips, G-girl put her cards down, revealing a royal flush. She quickly tried to collect Chip's chips, but he grabbed her hand, preventing her from grabbing them.

"Hold on!" said Chip. "You have a royal flush?"

"Yeah!" said G-girl, as she ripped her hand loose from Chip's grip and collected the chips. "You owe me forty eight thousand dollars!"

"I don't owe you shit!" said Chip. "We were just playing with chips, and this isn't Vegas!"

"That's bullshit, Chip!" said Pearl. "We were playing for real money, and you know it! If you'd won, I'm sure you wouldn't have had any problem collecting from G-girl!"

"G-girl didn't have any money to begin with!" said Chip. "You and Hannah gave her credit, and that's the only reason she was able to play!"

Taz stopped the argument. "You guys," she said, "I know how we can handle this! I saw that brick thing in the backyard, and it gave me an idea from an old Twilight Zone episode I saw once. Chip can buy some blocks of marble, and those of us he owes money to can have a statue built of them by the captives!"

"What do you think, Chip?" Pearl asked. "That might be cheaper! Do you agree with those terms?"

"Okay, I'll order blocks of marble for you, G-girl, and Taz, but only if it's cheaper!" Chip shook hands with Pearl, closing the deal.

When Chip went into the living room, Pearl told G-girl: "That was probably the only way to get him to pay! It's a good thing Taz thought of that!"

Chip grabbed a soda from the fridge and sat down reading a sports magazine on the couch. Ever since the arrival of Raleigh, her interviews had been playing non-stop on every channel, and normal television viewing ceased to exist. For that reason, if someone wanted to catch up on sports, they either listened to a radio, or read a magazine.

Pearl knew that she would have to take the initiative and find out who had the best deal on marble. She went to her computer, and after half an hour she had narrowed it down to three suppliers. There were two places in Italy, and one in the state of Georgia, in the United States. As far as time was concerned, the place in Georgia could deliver blocks of marble a little faster than the Italian companies, although the quality of the marble wasn't quite as good as the Italian variety.

"Chip, come here!" said Pearl. "I need you to use your credit card."

Chip came over and asked, "How much is it?"

"Well," said Pearl, "to have the blocks of marble cut into a rough female shape, it'll cost ten thousand for each statue."

"How much is it if they're not cut into shape?" said Chip. "If they're just rectangular?"

"It's cheaper," said Pearl, "but it would take the captives too long to make statues of us! This way, they have a head start."

"Ten thousand for each one?" said Chip. "Three statues, huh?"

"Look at it this way," said Pearl, "if you paid cash, you would owe G-girl forty eight thousand, and you'd owe me and Taz six thousand each. That's twice as much as you'd be paying for the marble!"

"Okay, you've convinced me!" said Chip, and Pearl got up from the chair as Chip got out his credit card and took her place. "How long do they take to ship?"

"It depends on how much you pay them." said Pearl.

"I'll get two-day service if you go halves with me!" said Chip. Paying for half of two-day delivery would be slightly cheaper than paying for the full amount of regular delivery.

"Okay," said Pearl, "you've got a deal!"

It was just before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time in Georgia when Chip placed his order, and the business was open until 7:00. The workers got to work cutting the marble, to get it ready for shipping. Chip called them by telephone to confirm the order, and he was told the statues would be ready for delivery Monday morning, and that the blocks of marble should arrive at Chip's home around 2:00 p.m. Wednesday.

It was still Sunday afternoon, three days before the statues were delivered, when Pearl asked Chip a question. "When can we put the captives in the brick chamber?"

"First I have to build the zapper grid that will keep them trapped inside the chamber. I have enough electrical knowledge to do it." Chip pulled out his cell phone and called an electrical supply warehouse. "I'd like to pick up some supplies today, and money is no option!"

Pearl looked at Susan and said, "My brother likes to throw money at a problem. Things get done quicker that way!"

Chip looked over the schematics Sparky had given to him. After looking it over, he went to the electrical supply store and bought what he needed to build the zapper grid. Chip got to work, and finished around 9:00 that night. The zapper grid was designed so that metal plating was connected vertically around the interior of the perimeter of the brick structure. Metal plating was installed horizontally around the bricks. Insulating caulk separated the metal from the bricks, so that captives inside the brick chamber wouldn't be able to escape without getting electrocuted.

When it was done, Pearl and all of her friends were extremely impressed, and it was Pearl who attributed the structure to Sparky's genius. "Without Sparky, we never would've had this! He's brilliant!"

"Just for that, I'll never swallow Sparky," said Crystal Mae.

"That's saying a lot!" said Susan. "Crystal Mae, you're the last person I would've ever thought to say you wouldn't swallow a shrunken captive!"

"He's earned the right to live as our slave-toy for serving us!" said Crystal Mae. "He should consider that an honor!"

"Speaking of Sparky," said Susan, "he told me earlier this afternoon that Misty is in bad shape, after watching G-girl kill all of her homeboys! He says we should move his cartridge and the voice amplifier to one of the coffee tables in the living room, so she won't be reminded of what happened."

"I don't have a problem with that," said Pearl.

G-girl heard this, and approached Susan. "You mean there's an Ashwood City bitch in that cartridge with Sparky?"

Susan looked at Pearl, then back at G-girl. "Yeah," said Susan, "but me and Pearl haven't told you about her because we didn't want you to kill her. It's not that I care about Mexicans, but Misty's a girl, and I thought us girls should stick together!"

"I'm going in there to slaughter that bitch right now!" said G-girl, as she spun around on her left heel to walk back toward the house. Pearl grabbed her shoulder before she got one step farther.

Chapter 9: gambling with G-Girl

"Me and Susan want Misty to live!" said Pearl. "I think you should respect that!"

"Respect a bitch from Ashwood City?" said G-girl. "I used to fight those bitches in Y.A., and I'll be damned if I'm gonna start treating them as anything more than garbage!"

"Look, G-girl," said Pearl, "this is my house, and I want you to let that Misty chick live!"

"She belongs to me!" said G-girl. "All those Ashwood City captives were traded to me, fair and square! What do you have to say about that?"

"Well, let me buy her off you!" said Pearl.

"Buy her?" said G-girl. "Forget it!"

"I have an idea!" said Susan. "Why don't you two gamble for her?"

G-girl appeared to be thinking about this, then a smile came to her face, and she said, "Okay! How about a game of dice?"

Susan looked at Pearl, then back at G-girl. "You don't know us very well! Nobody can beat Pearl at dice!"

"You guys don't know me!" said G-girl. "I'm pretty good at dice, too!"

Although it was just after 9:00 p.m., there was adequate lighting in the backyard that Chip had installed when he was building the zapper grid. Hayley, Hannah, Susan, Ashley, Crystal Mae, Taz, and Polly watched as G-girl pulled out five dice, and asked who wanted to go first. Pearl went, and got a thousand points. G-girl picked up the dice, and while she was shaking them up in her cupped hands, she did a switch that Pearl and the others didn't see. The original five dice were replaced with a set of dice that were fixed. When G-girl let go of the trick dice, she got five ones, which was the highest score you can get in dice in one toss. G-girl quickly grabbed the dice and fumbled for a piece of scratch paper and a pen that she always carried with her. During that time, she switched the dice a second time, and gave Pearl the normal dice.

Pearl rolled the dice a second time, and got nothing. She handed the dice back to G-girl, who rolled with them in order to not arouse suspicion. She got a hundred and fifty, and gave the dice back to Pearl as she wrote her score down. Pearl rolled and scored, but when she gave the dice back, G-girl tried to switch the dice again, but Susan caught her in the act.

"She's cheating!" said Susan, who grabbed G-girl by the arms and physically shook her down until she pulled out both sets of dice. Susan threw all ten dice on the ground, and saw that five of them landed on ones. She grabbed the five dice that had landed on one and threw them again; all five again landed on one again.

"Do you see this?" Susan asked Pearl. "Five of them are a normal set of dice, but the other set is rigged to always land on one! She was probably cheating when she beat Chip with that royal flush earlier!"

Susan picked up the five dice in question and threw them again, and sure enough, they all landed on one.

"You forfeit!" said Pearl. "Now you have to relinquish Misty to me! As long as she's in my charge, I'll allow her to live!"

"Okay, okay," said G-girl, "I'll agree to that, under one condition!"

"What condition?" said Pearl.

"That you give me my dice back!" said G-girl.

"Okay!" said Pearl, and the two girls shook on it. Susan handed the trick dice back to G-girl.

Pearl and Susan headed back into the house, to see about relocating Sparky's cartridge for Misty's sake. Ashley and Crystal Mae followed Pearl and Susan; Taz and Polly followed Ashley and Crystal Mae. Inside the house, Pearl moved the voice amplifier to one of the coffee tables. The transparent cartridge containing Sparky, Zu-Zu, Wam-Wam, and Misty was perched under the microphone of the voice amplifier. The device was battery powered, a fact Sparky knew would be important when he had constructed it. If it had been A.C. powered, captives might have been able to escape down the electrical cord, and it was for the convenience of the normal-sized Aryans that he had constructed the ingenious device, not for the benefit of the captives under their dominion.

Pearl set the voice amplifier down near the corner of one of the coffee tables, not far from the edge. Within the transparent titanium cartridge, Sparky looked up to see Pearl standing on the left side of the point where the corner of the coffee table formed a ninety degree angle; G-girl approached, but Pearl blocked her by placing her right leg in G-girl's path. G-girl was now standing to the right of the corner of the table, facing Pearl, who stood on the left.

"I said don't hurt her!" Pearl's voice thundered over Sparky's head.

"I wasn't going to hurt her!" boomed the voice of G-girl.

To Sparky, Zu-Zu, Wam-Wam, and Misty, Pearl and G-girl seemed like the spawn of titans, the daughters of some giant, mythical race. To Sparky and his two friends, the argument between the two girls was academic; they had nothing at stake. Zu-Zu and Wam-Wam had known G-girl since grade school, and knew she would never allow harm to come to them. Sparky knew he could trust Pearl, up to a certain point. There was probably over a ninety percent chance that he would live a long life while under her command. To Misty, however, the argument had more concrete consequences for her. If Pearl failed to convince G-girl not to slaughter her, Misty knew that Pearl couldn't watch over her one hundred percent of the time, and it would be just a matter of time before G-girl did away with her.

"Why don't you get a belly full of those Chinese captives if you want to hurt someone?" said Pearl. "Me and Susan decided to let Misty live, because she's a girl!"

"All I want to do is look at her!" said G-girl. "I promise I won't hurt her!"

"You promise?" said Pearl.

Inside the transparent cartridge, Misty shuddered at the thought of G-girl getting close to her. Sparky noticed her reaction, and felt pity for her. He knew G-girl pretty well, but couldn't predict her behavior with any kind of accuracy. She could be very cruel, or very compassionate, depending on her mood and the situation. Sparky knew for a fact that G-girl carried a handgun in her purse, but didn't know if she had ever used it. Sparky had never joined a gang, but G-girl was a gangster. This made her an enigma to him, because he only had a few friends who were gang members, and didn't understand their way of thinking.

When G-girl responded with a yes, Pearl reached down and picked up the transparent cartridge, without making any kind of effort to be gentle. Sparky felt himself knocked back and forth, and he narrowly avoided bumping into Zu-Zu, Wam-Wam, and Misty. Before they could get their bearings, the cartridge came to rest on the left palm of G-girl's hand. Misty looked out at G-girl, while G-girl gazed in at her.

"I think I'm gonna piss my pants!" said Misty.

"I don't think she's going to hurt you!" said Sparky. "I can't guarantee it, but I'm pretty sure she'll keep her word to Pearl!"

G-girl didn't say anything to Misty, but looked at Pearl and said, "She's pretty!"

G-girl put the cartridge back down on the voice amplifier, and had a conversation with Pearl and the others. "Now that the non-whites have been reduced to ant-size," said G-girl, "what does that make us?"

"It makes us the gods of this world," said Susan.

Nobody said anything in response to what Susan had said; it seemed like a wise thing to say, and it went unsaid that all the girls in the room agreed with that assessment. As far as the miniaturized non-white members of the human race were concerned, Aryans such as Pearl and half-white people such as G-girl were regarded as gods. Pearl and her friends were of the opinion that this issue was closed, and wasn't open for debate. Each of the girls felt that Aryans had been elevated to god-like status by Raleigh Doran, and non-whites had been reduced to something less than human. If one of them had said anything to the contrary, she would've been regarded as insane by the others.

"If we're gods," said Susan, "then what are the shrunken people?"

"They're the food of the gods!" said Crystal Mae.

"I've heard you use that term," said Susan, "and that's a good label! But what can we call them when we're speaking in casual conversation? We can't call them 'Food Of The Gods' every time we refer to them!"

"That's true!" said Pearl. "I think slave-toys is a good word to describe them! I heard Crystal Mae use that term."

"I see what you're saying!" said Crystal Mae. "How about calling them belly-slaves? They always manage to end up in our bellies somehow!"

"How about gullet bullets?" said Hayley.

"That's a good one," said Susan.

"How about pawns?" said Polly. "They're like pawns, the most powerless piece on a chessboard!"

"They're a race of pawns!" said Susan. "I like that!"

"Technically," said Ashleigh, "there's more than one race that's been shrunk, so 'Race Of Pawns' is grammatically incorrect!"

"Ashleigh, if you're that smart, I'd like you to tutor me!" said Susan.

"How about gut-sluts?" said Taz.

"That's stupid!" said Crystal Mae.

And so the discussion went on well into the night, until they debated from their sleeping bags. Taz and Polly were spending the night again, and were the first to fall asleep. Eventually, everyone fell asleep, except for Misty, inside the transparent titanium cartridge on the voice amplifier that was on top of one of the coffee tables. Misty couldn't take her eyes off G-girl, who was asleep in her sleeping bag on the living room carpet. Sparky woke up to use the bathroom, and after he was done, he noticed Misty. He walked over to her, and sat down next to her.

"She's not going to hurt you," said Sparky. "If she was going to do something to you, she would've done it already."

"I know that," said Misty. "I just feel like a goldfish in a fish-tank that's next to a bigger tank with a shark in it!"

"If you were a codfish next to a shark tank," said Sparky, "you'd have the fear of cod!"

This made Misty smile, the first time she had done so since she had found herself in the cartridge housing Sparky, Zu-Zu, and Wam-Wam. Misty put her arm around Sparky, and kissed him on the lips. The two of them stayed awake for several hours talking and getting to know each other. They fell asleep in each other's arms. Sparky, Zu-Zu, and Wam-Wam all had white blankets that they had woven from a chunk of cotton ball that Pearl had given them the night before, when she had given out cotton balls to all the Mexicans from Ashwood City. Misty didn't have a blanket of her own, so she curled up and slept with Sparky in his.

When Wednesday rolled around, Sparky woke up in the afternoon. The normal-sized people were in a commotion, and that's what had awakened him. It was around 2:00 p.m., and the statues were being delivered. Few people knew the ungodly price Chip and Pearl had paid for two-day delivery service for such heavy items, but nobody really cared; all that mattered was that the statues had arrived. The marble blocks were life-size, so they weren't incredibly huge. Still, Chip was worried that the mortar wasn't dry enough yet when the workers built a ramp to lift the marble blocks into the brick chamber that he had constructed to contain the captives.

By the time the workers left, there were three marble blocks situated within the brick chamber, each marble block approximately the shape of the girl the statue would be carved into the image of. The brick chamber was ten feet in diameter, and each marble block was two and a half feet in diameter. They were placed in a triangle pattern, with each statue facing outward from each point of the triangle. The girls stood around trying to guess which statue would be carved into Pearl's image, which one would be G-girl, and which one would be Taz.

"It's gonna take a million years for the captives to build those statues!" said Susan.

"You're right," said Chip, "but this was their idea," Chip pointed at Pearl and the others. "Do you have any suggestions?"

"Only one," said Susan, "remember that alloy Raleigh Doran described to Ivan Quaid?"

"Yeah," said Chip, "it's seventy times stronger than titanium!"

"Actually, it's over seventy times stronger than titanium!" said Ashleigh.

"Ashleigh, don't be a nerd!" said Susan. "Chip, what if we could get Ivan Quaid to have Raleigh provide us with little tools made of that alloy that are the right size for the captives to use?"

"That's a great idea!" said Chip, and he whipped out his cell phone.

"But what if they use the tools to cut their way out of the brick chamber?" Pearl asked.

"We could count out each tool," said Susan, "and make sure they turn them back in when they're done."

After having a conversation for several minutes, Chip put his phone away. "Pearl! I got a hold of Professor Quaid! I don't know how I did it, but I got a hold of him! He wants me to meet him at his house tonight! Does anyone want to go to Pasadena with me? I'm leaving right away!"

"I do!" said G-girl.

"You're meeting Professor Quaid?" said Ashleigh. "I've got to meet him! Can I go?"

"Yeah!" said Chip.

"I have school tomorrow, Chip!" said Ashleigh. "I can't miss cheer practice. Can you have me back by early tomorrow morning?"

"I don't see why not," said Chip "I'll go gas up the truck, then we can go when I get back!"

"Why don't we take my car? There's more room," said G-girl, and she threw her keys to Chip. "Besides, you can drive us, and I get a free fill-up out of the deal!"

"Sure!" said Chip, and took off with the keys he'd caught and walked toward the front of the house, in search of G-girl's car.

After Chip left to gas up G-girl's car, G-girl's cell phone rang. "Hello?" she said. "Jasmine! How's it hangin'? Hey, do you want to go to L.A. with me and a couple of friends of mine?"

Jasmine accepted the invitation, and arrived before Chip got back from the gas station. When Chip returned, Pearl and all of her friends except Taz and Polly went through the house to the front yard to say goodbye to Chip, Ashleigh, G-girl, and Jasmine. Taz and Polly stayed in the backyard, looking at the statues. One of the statues was going to be of Taz.

"How does it feel to know ant-sized captives are going to be slaving away to build a statue in your honor?" Polly asked.

"It's exciting!" said Taz, as a sinister smile spread across her face. "It makes me feel like a mighty goddess! Powerless little pawns striving to appease me! It's intoxicating!"

Meanwhile, in G-girl's car, Chip sat in the driver's seat, G-girl sat in the passenger's seat, and Jasmine and Ashleigh sat in the back. As they got on their way, Jasmine introduced herself to Ashleigh.

"Hi, I'm Jasmine Jenson!"

Ashleigh shook her hand, and said, "I'm Ashleigh Ashbury. It's nice to meet you!"

"Y'all ain't a bunch of Nazis, are you?" said Jasmine.

Ashleigh got a look on her face like Jasmine had lost her mind. "No!" said Ashleigh. "I'm only interested in Raleigh's technology for scientific reasons. I don't completely agree with her politics."

"What do you mean you don't 'completely' agree with her politics?" said Jasmine. "Does that mean you agree with her a little bit?"

Chip hadn't known G-girl for more than a few days, and didn't know her friend Jasmine at all; but Chip reasoned to himself that having a half-black woman in the car could cause some friction, if he and Ashleigh failed to answer any questions she had in a way that showed they were one hundred percent against Raleigh Doran and her mission of Aryan supremacy. Chip felt that it was going to be a long drive to Pasadena.

Chapter 10: Rendezvous with Raleigh

Chip drove G-girl's hot-rod Chevy Impala down the 101 freeway, which was surprisingly uncrowded.

"Now that Raleigh shrunk ninety percent of the human race," said Chip, "there's less traffic on the freeways. I guess some good came out of it."

"Oh, how convenient for you!" said Jasmine, from the backseat.

"I didn't mean that the way it sounded!" said Chip. "I just mean there's some good to go with the bad."

"We just passed Ventura," said Ashleigh, "we're almost there. Do you have the directions to the professor's house?"

"Yeah," Chip replied, "G-girl is holding onto it. We should be in Pasadena within an hour."

Meanwhile, back at Pearl's house, Susan, Crystal Mae, Hayley, Hannah, Taz, Polly, and Pearl were sitting in the living room.

"I miss TV!" said Polly. "I wish Raleigh would give it back to us!"

Pearl whipped out her cell phone. "I'll call my brother and make sure he tells Ivan Quaid to ask Raleigh to give us television back!"

While Pearl was on the phone, Crystal Mae came up with an idea. "I know a game we can play!"

"What?" Susan asked.

Crystal Mae turned her head toward Pearl, who was on the phone. "Pearl, do you have any string?"

"Hold on," said Pearl, who resumed her conversation over the phone with Chip. When she hung up, she said, "My brother is going to ask Ivan Quaid about giving us television back. Crystal Mae, what did you want?"

"Some string!"

Pearl went to a drawer in the kitchen and got out a spindle of string, and handed it to Crystal Mae, who tied one end of the string around a vase on the top of a shelf. She uncoiled the string, and pulled the string around another vase on a shelf on the other side of the living room. She used a pocket knife to cut the string, then tightened up the slack until the string was taut, and tied the end. When that was done, she began cutting off pieces of string about a foot long with her pocket knife, then tied the pieces of string about a foot apart from each other on the string that was stretched between the two shelves.

"We can play a game!" said Crystal Mae, as she opened several cartridges and dumped out Chinese captives into her palm. She began positioning the captives on the pieces of string, and they held on for dear life, although they were glad to be out of their cartridges. Crystal Mae emptied ten cartridges, until there were ten pieces of string with ten captives holding onto each strand.

"Pearl," said Crystal Mae, "do you have a stopwatch?"

"Yeah," Pearl replied, and went into the kitchen. She came back a moment later with a digital stopwatch. "I think I know what you're gonna do."

"Now we need a bandanna!" said Crystal Mae. "Whoever can swallow the most captives blindfolded in thirty seconds wins! Do you have a straw broom? We need to draw straws to see who goes first!"

"Yeah," said Pearl, "in the kitchen."

Crystal Mae went into the kitchen, and came back with seven pieces of straw in her fist. "Okay, everybody draw a straw! Whatever straw is left is the one I'm left with, I don't get to choose mine."

Six hands reached out simultaneously, and in moments, the girls had their straws. Pearl's was shortest, followed by Polly, Hannah, and Crystal Mae. Taz had the longest straw, and Susan and Hayley had the second and third longest straws.

"Taz, you go first," said Crystal Mae, "then it's Susan, followed by Hayley!"

Pearl got a bandanna from the living room closet, and gave it to Crystal Mae, who folded it and wrapped it around Taz's eyes and tied it behind her head. Crystal Mae spun her around three times, and said, "Okay, go! Pearl, click the stopwatch and stop it at thirty seconds!"

Taz wandered around the room, trying to make her way toward the dangling string. She wandered toward the kitchen, realized she was going in the wrong direction, and corrected herself, only to wander between two strings to the opposite side of the living room.

Susan looked at the captives dangling from the string, and turned to Hayley. "I wonder what's going through their minds right now?" Hayley laughed at this comment.

"Times up!" said Pearl, as she clicked the stop button on the stopwatch.

"Oh, man!" said Taz as she pulled off the bandanna. "I didn't even get one!"

"It's Susan's turn!" said Crystal Mae. "Then it's Hayley's turn." She wrapped the bandanna around Susan's head, and spun her around three times. Susan walked between two of the strings, but was able to correct herself and managed to steer herself right into the midst of one of the strings. She could feel the string on her cheek as she opened her mouth, seeking the end of the string. She forced the end of the string under her tongue, and sucked on the string like a piece of spaghetti, her lips slightly parted. One by one, the captives tumbled into her open mouth. Once they were all contained within Susan's mouth, she worked them toward the back of her mouth, and swallowed them all in one gulp as easily as if they had been insects.

"Time's up!" said Pearl, and Susan threw her arms up in victory while she was still blindfolded.

"You conquered ten of them!" said Crystal Mae. "Now let's see what Hayley can do!"

Crystal Mae dumped another cartridge of captives into her palm and positioned them on the strands of string while Susan tied the bandanna around Hayley's eyes.

Crystal Mae spun Hayley around three times, then clicked the stopwatch and said "Go!"

Hayley reached out with her hands until she found the main line of string, then worked her mouth around the strand hanging closest to her end. She quickly dispatched all ten captives, sending them crashing to the depths of her belly, then she worked her way to the next strand of string. She quickly pulled the entire strand into her mouth with her tongue, and those ten captives were efficiently dispatched down her gullet, like the others.

Hayley made her way to the next strand and did the same. She had swallowed thirty captives by the time Crystal Mae clicked the thirty second mark on the stopwatch.

"Time!" said Crystal Mae. "You got thirty, Hayley, it looks like you're the winner!"

Meanwhile, about two-hundred miles south of Pearl's house, Chip turned onto the street the professor lived on.

"This is it! The professor lives on this street! He said there are some scoutships parked around his house!"

"There's a few scoutships!" said Ashleigh.

"That's his house!" said Chip, and he pulled into the driveway of Professor Quaid's house. Chip, G-Girl, Jasmine, and Ashleigh piled out of the car and went to the front door.

After knocking, the door was opened by a fembot that looked like an exact replica of Raleigh, but dressed in a red and black uniform that was different from Raleigh's black SS uniform. She let them in, and led them to the dining room. Professor Ivan Quaid was seated there looking at a set of schematics. He shook hands with Chip, and Chip introduced himself.

"So you're the one who wants the miniature tools made out of that gold alloy, eh?"

"Yes, professor," Chip answered. "We have some blocks of marble in my backyard, and I want our captives to construct statues. One of my sister, and two of her friends. Is that possible?"

"I've already taken the liberty of having the tools replicated for you. Fembots, can one of you retrieve the tools for me?"

One of the identically dressed fembots left and came back with a tool pouch and set it in front of Chip. He opened it and took a look inside. There were dozens of transparent titanium cartridges filled with the gold-alloy tools the captives would need to build the statues, and an electronic device. Chip took out the electronic device.

"Profesor, what's this?"

"It's a device that will allow you to know if all of the tools have been returned. Each tool is fitted with a transponder, and that device keeps track of each individual signal transmitted by each tool."

"Cool!" said Chip.

"Professor," said Ashleigh, "is there any way you could hook us up so we could meet Raleigh?"

"I could take you up to her star-cruiser right now!" said the professor.

"Are you serious?" Chip asked. "We can actually go on board?"

"Yes, I'll have a fembot pilot a scoutship and take you up there. Raleigh will know I sent you up there, so it will be okay. In fact, I'll use my communication console to inform her of your arrival right now."

Professor Quaid got up and went to the living room, where a sophisticated apparatus dominated one corner of the room. It had a main view-screen, and several smaller screens on either side. When the professor keyed in a sequence of numbers, Raleigh's face appeared on the screen. She could be identified because her black SS uniform was of a different design than the identical red and black uniforms worn by the fembots.

"Greetings, professor. How are you doing?"

"Fine, Raleigh, fine. I have some visitors who are interested in visiting you on the mother ship. I was about to send them up there!"

"How many of them?" Raleigh asked.

"A young man, and two teenage girls."

"Send them up in a scoutship with one of my fembots."

"Over and out," said the professor, and the transmission was cut off from Raleigh's end. The professor returned to the table, where Chip and the girls were seated.

"Raleigh is willing to have you as her guests, but Jasmine, I think it would be best if you stayed behind. Raleigh is from a world of neo-Nazis, and I don't know how she would react to someone who's half-black."

"That's all right, professor, I'm not interested in visiting that bitch anyway. If I ever did see her in person, I'd probably try to strangle her."

"A fembot will escort the three of you to a scoutship," said the professor, and one of the numerous fembots showed up at Chip's side to guide them out.

Chip, G-Girl, and Ashleigh boarded the scoutship nearest the house, and buckled themselves into their seats. A fembot piloted the ship upwards into the sky, and Chip was amazed at how fast the blue sky gave way to the blackness of space. He knew it took several minutes for a space shuttle to escape Earth's atmosphere, but these scoutships possessed an alien technology that allowed them to pierce the upper stratosphere in a mater of moments without any sense of inertia.

The mother-ship was just ahead of them. Swastikas were emblazoned at every conceivable location. A hangar bay door opened up, and the scoutship Chip and the girls were riding in cruised in and landed with mechanical precision. The bay door slid closed, and the bay became pressurized in a matter of seconds. The ramp slid down as Chip, G-Girl, and Ashleigh unbuckled their seatbelts and disembarked.

"I will show you to Raleigh," said a fembot. "Follow me."

The group was led to a chamber where there were multiple seats. G-Girl and Ashleigh sat down. There was only one fembot in the room, and she asked if any of them wanted a drink.

"I'll take a beer," said G-Girl. The fembot walked to a console and spoke into it. A moment later, a door hatch slid open, revealing a Stein of beer. The fembot retrieved it and brought it over to G-Girl.

"Wow, what do you call that nifty little device?" G-Girl asked.

"That is a replicator. It can replicate any compound, and responds to voice command. It is one of the many devices Raleigh plans on introducing to your world. She will be with you shortly. If you need anything, just ask the replicator. Bathrooms are located through that door." The fembot pointed at a door, then exited through a different door, leaving G-Girl, Ashleigh, and Chip alone in the chamber.

Ashleigh approached the replicator. "I'll have a Dr. Pepper, please." The door hatch slid open again, revealing another Stein. Ashleigh picked it up and took a sip. "It's Dr. Pepper!"

Chip approached the replicator. "Dr. Pepper has been around since the 1880's. It shouldn't be surprising that they still have it on Raleigh's world. When the Nazis came into existence in the 1920s, that soft drink already existed." Chip looked at the monitor. "I'm interested in some of this technology! Computer, show me the schematics for the propulsion system of this vessel!"

The computer replied in German.

"I took a year of German last year," said Ashleigh. "Let me try!" Ashleigh spoke in German and asked the computer to speak English. "It should work now. Try it again!"

Chip asked the same question again. The computer monitor was filled with schematics and text. Chip looked it over. "This is amazing! Computer, can you use the replicator to print this out?"

The computer complied, and the door hatch slid open, revealing dozens of sheets of paper, bound like a notebook.

"Chip, are you sure this is a good idea?" Ashleigh asked.

Just then, Raleigh entered through a sliding door that opened automatically. She was dressed in her black SS uniform, complete with Swastika armband, officer's cap, black leather miniskirt, and black leather jackboots. Raleigh held up a device she was wearing on her left wrist and said, "My on-board computer informs me you tried to access privileged information. Would you mind giving me an explanation?"

CHAPTER 11: Chip's Opportunity

Ashleigh looked at Chip, then at G-Girl. Chip appeared to be speechless. He had just been accused of treachery by the most powerful human being who ever lived; Raleigh could destroy the Earth if she wished and journey to another reality if it pleased her to do so. G-Girl tried to think of an excuse for Chip, but failed.

"I just wanted to learn about some of your tech!" said Chip. "I didn't mean any harm!"

"What would you do if you had a working knowledge of my propulsion systems, and I just let you walk out of here with it?" Raleigh asked.

Chip tossed the schematics down onto a chair near Raleigh. Raleigh picked them up, and handed them back to Chip.

"I don't know," said Chip. "I guess I would file for a patent..."

"Take these schematics back," said Raleigh. "I'm not upset with you; I just feigned anger to play with your mind. On the contrary, I'm impressed that you took enough of an interest in my technology to try to steal it from me!"

Ashleigh let out an audible sigh of relief.

"What is your engineering background?" Raleigh asked.

"I took electronics in high school, and I made a VHF radio from a kit from Radio Shack when I was fourteen. Ever since I was a kid I looked up to people like Thomas Edison!"

"Would you like to pursue an engineering degree?" Raleigh asked.

"That's been my dream," said Chip, "but I dropped out of college to join the electrician's union. I don't have time for school."

"I can offer you an opportunity beyond your wildest dreams! How would you like to come back to Dimension Zero and study at one of our polytechnic universities? You can spend a year there, and when you return, you will be free to patent all of the technology you learned about while you were there."

"I don't know," said Chip, "it sounds good. Is there anything I should know before I agree?"

"Actually, there is. There is a chance that we might lose the quantum signature of your home reality, and when you return, you will find yourself in a reality that is virtually identical to your home reality in almost every way, except for minor differences only you will notice."

"Can't you pick me up in the same time-machine you dropped me off in, like a minute after you drop me off? You shouldn't lose the quantum signature in that time frame."

"Yes, that's the way it's usually done. I'm impressed that you were able to figure that out so quickly. You've definitely got the mind of a scientist! I'll give you a few minutes to decide. While we wait, why don't the three of you help yourselves to some shrunken captives?"

Raleigh pointed her wristband at the floor in the center of the area where the chairs were encircled, and an oval rose from the floor, pushed up by hydraulic lifters. A seam in the center of the oval separated once the top of the oval stopped at an elevation of three feet. Inside, there was a model town with dwellings that didn't have roofs. Hundreds of ant-sized people scurried about within the compound.

"You can eat your fill," said Raleigh. "I've got plenty of captives!"

Ashleigh spoke to Chip as she hunted for captives. "You should do it, Chip! You'll be a hero when you come back!"

G-Girl reached in and grabbed a captive, and brought him to her lips. Once he was deposited on her tongue, she said, "You'll have more money than your parents once you sell those patents!"

"Okay," said Chip. "I'll do it! Can I say goodbye to my sister first?"

"Yes, I have a communication console in this room," said Raleigh.

"No, I want to see her in person!" said Chip. "I want to give her a goodbye hug."

"Chip and his sister are very close," said Ashleigh.

"I can give you 24 hours," said Raleigh. "That should give you time to pack. If you'd like, I can allow you to take a passenger with you. Do you have a girlfriend?"

"Not at the moment," said Chip. "But if I think of someone, I'll let you know."

"I'll send you down in one of my scout-ships. It will remain in your front yard until it's time for you to embark on your journey. Allow me to give you a communication device so you can speak directly to me if need be." Raleigh walked over to the synthicator and asked it to create the device she spoke of, then she grabbed it after the door slid open, and handed it to Chip.

Ashleigh had several dozen captives in the palm of her hand. "Raleigh, can you give me a few of those transparent titanium cartridges?"

Raleigh used the synthicator to duplicate five of the cartridges, and handed them to Ashleigh.

"Where did these captives come from?" Ashleigh asked.

"Mexico," Raleigh replied.

"Cool!" said Ashleigh, licking her lips. "I love Mexican food!"

"Raleigh," said G-Girl, "My car is parked at Professor Quaid's house in Pasadena. Is there any way the scout-ship can drop me off there first, so I can drive back to the central coast?"

"Yes," Raleigh replied. "Just tell the fembot who pilots the scoutship when she takes you to the hangar. I'll summon one right now!"

To Be Continued!
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