New Colony by josette grover
Summary:

The people who most want their own colony.  . .are the last ones who should be part of a colony.

And a secret is revealed


Categories: Non Buffy/Angel Crossovers > Other TV, Non Buffy/Angel Crossovers > Other Characters: None
Genres: AU
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: Live from Mutant High, It's Bookworm
Chapters: 4 Completed: Yes Word count: 104913 Read: 12118 Published: 2022.05.01 Updated: 2022.05.01

1. Chapter 1 by josette grover

2. Chapter 2 by josette grover

3. Chapter 3 by josette grover

4. Chapter 4 by josette grover

Chapter 1 by josette grover

David sits down in his seat at the government building for the next government meeting. "Okay, Josette's going to be a few minutes late, she's got a dozen other selves on the ships taking inventory of everything that was created by the machine. She's also heading off to Calvin's dimension after the meeting to drop of the socks and other stuff and pick up the order."

 

Doc and Principal Madison nod. A couple minutes later Josette and President Bartlett walk into the room. "Okay, I picked up the last pallets to go to the other dimension."

 

"Has the first boxes of stuff for Archimedes and the 9th planet been put aside?" Principal Madison asks Josette.

 

"Yep." Josette yawns as she looks outside. "Oh fucking rain already." She tells the dark sky. Doc chuckles, it had been threatening rain all morning. Even if it turns out to be freezing rain it will at least be over with.

 

Josette slides into a seat at the school when she sees Maria and Jane are on their phones and Calvin's door is shut. Getting on her PADD she sorts through her e-mail until one of them finishes their calls.

 

"Gods, save me from idiots who complain just to complain." Maria mutters. "Asshats learned about us owning the mall and are up in arms that there will be a mall on the school grounds. When they found out the mall is elsewhere in the city they sulk and pout and try to get it away from us because we will be tainting the children. The courts toss out their complaints and they sulk and try to get us to do what they want. Which is turn the mall over to them."

 

"How's the construction?"

 

"Good, the newspapers are full of stories about it and they're sulking because they could have brought the mall. Now we're showing profits on something they didn't think was viable."

 

"Because so many damn malls are sitting half-empty since the zero-population period ended."

 

"That and strip malls. And just plain streets in a lot of large cities." Jane drawls as she ends the call. "We weren't expecting you so early Josette."

 

"I had to spend the last couple days in court. Some asswipe was trying to get me declared incompetent so they could get the land. . .uhhh, no. Some moron trying to claim I'm stealing her books but since she doesn't have any proof she wrote them and Madison had the contracts and everything else. She's wailing in a jail cell that she could have wrote my books since she's tried taking credit for other people's work before."

 

"Oh hell, I know who you're talking about now." Jane moans. She says a name and Josette nods. "She's got a history of this shit."

 

"Yep, some asswipe is whining because the publishing house is making his darling friend look like a moron in the book, the moron's wailing because not only is he not getting oodles and gobs of money as payment for his friends hurt feewings he's not getting the business and we're both suing the bastard." Calvin moans from the door of his office. "When the hell will they stop claiming they're the damn victims. . .they're stupid fools who need a good swift kick."

 

"That's what one of the people in the courtroom said after the case was dismissed. His idiot friend is sulking because nobody's kissing his ass. He came off as a goddamn idiot on the video but rather than putting his damn balls back on he's whining because everybody's being mean to him. Hopefully the morons won't be breeding or the kids have some damn good influence in their lives."

 

"Hopefully the kids are taken away from them because any person they'd have kids with are just as stupid as them." Jane snorts.

 

"Are you going to be here a while?"

 

"Yeah, the house is talking one last tour before I 'retire' and I want to stay on the land for a while, I've heard rumors about that asshat who can't believe we won't build his damn masterpiece trying something. He had to go to the work dimension and then get a real job. . .the poor baby is heartbroken."

 

"But we didn't get the land away from her. . .so it's not fair you're trying to put us in prison."

 

"No gentlemen, and I use that term sarcastically. . ." the judge drawls. "what wasn't fair was your fantastic attempts to circumvent the law. That is her land, not yours."

 

"But they have so much. . .we'd have let her keep the house. . .we just put up malls and apartment buildings around her. As punishment for not kissing our asses. NO! No you can't send us to prison."

 

"Oh yes I can. . .gentlemen." He sneers. "You knew what you were doing was illegal. . .you just got your 'feewing's hurt when the young woman told you no. Enjoy your last years in prison. . .which is better than you would have done for Ms. Takahawa. Take them away."

 

"I see we're going to have to add a law saying that trying to get control of a person for illegal purposes is just as many years." He tells his bailiff as the court reporter covers her machine.

 

"Why do they continue to try to steal her land?"

 

"Because they dream of malls, apartment buildings. . .you name it. And they'd rather steal her land than pay what a comparable tract would be worth."

 

"And the fact there's tons of empty homes, apartments, and stores?"

 

"Ohhhh. .. .everybody will come flocking to it. . .because they built it. Just like that fool who's wailing because his magnificent plans for the realtor dimension fell through and nobody will let him build it here."

 

"Experts have looked at his magnificent plans. . .they didn't pass muster. If he tried building them here they'd be condemned. It was only the realtor dimension and the lack of pesky building codes that had a chance of building them." The court reporter snorts as she joins them at the door.

 

"Really?" The bailiff asks.

 

The court reporter brings up a site on her phone and shows it to the two men. "And I'm sure the fool would blubber about how they hadn't performed necessary upkeep on his masterpieces when they fell down around their ears."

 

"Or complained about changes they made to the buildings to keep from having them fall down around their ears." the judge snorts.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Josette snickers as she slides into her seat at dinner later that day Haven time. "You won't see it in this latest databurst since I was out there a few months but the government had enough of the whining of the fools who were on my planet and tossed their asses in another dimension the fifteenth time they tried to sue claiming people were making fun of them. Well, all but that dumb bitch who's in prison. They got the same damn supplies they got before and they're keeping an eye on them. . .nobody expects them to make it out of there alive."

 

"Nope, they'll do something stupid and kill themselves." Principal Madison sighs. "What brought this on?"

 

"Some asshat whining because the publishing house was making his good friend look like an idiot with the book."

 

"Real life already made his friend look like an idiot." Professor Parker snorts.

 

"Yes, the bastard was wailing because not only wasn't he getting oodles and gobs of money for his friend's hurt feelings, he wasn't getting the publishing house."

 

"Goddamn idiot," Dr. Hazlitt drawls. "I hope the fool was sent out to the colony,"

 

"Yep, moron was sulking he didn't get to come along on the first trip until he realized how badly everybody came off. Now he's part of the second colony and was setting up a fuss."

 

"How long were you out?"

 

"Just before we came out for the show. Dumbass is still trying to get Marcus to use the family's gallery, he's hoping a big show will get him back in control . ..his family is making him work a real job." she mock boohoohoos and everybody laughs.

 

"And the fool who caused all this by demanding our night?" Alexander drawls.

 

"Heartbroken. . .absolutely heartbroken. People are still talking bad about her and while people are looking over her table at the flea market. . .they're not buying. Not that they were buying before. . . she was sure a show would show up her 'loser' customers and make them start buying. Because she's special damn it. . .they're just too stupid to realize it. It can't possibly be because her stuff is absolute crap."

 

"Oh, of course not." Professor Druid drawls. "Anything else?"

 

"I damn near killed that stupid little shit from the realtor dimension. . .he's heartbroken at being made to work for a living. If he could get on my land and talk to me. . .weeeellllllll, the bastard won't be talking to anybody except the guards and other prisoners, he got six months in jail for trying to get on my land. And he was told if he bothered me again, I could shoot the bastard. . .by his own family. They've washed their hands of his stupid ass. They fucking told him to get the fuck over the idea of his grand masterpiece ever being built. . .people with some damn sense looked over the his plans and told him they would have been condemned there on Earth. There was no structural support for his grand halls in the McMansions and dear god people would never pay the money he wanted for his houses without some damn space. .. the only place he'd make the kind of money he was looking at was Manhattan where you spend a damn million for a parking space."

 

"Or someplace like Miami or other high end community. Even the damn regular houses would bring in millions." President Bartlett murmurs. Everybody nods. "His problem he thought he was all that and people would come flocking to his homes."

 

Josette snorts. "Just like the morons who wanted to own another planet so they could sell honorarium plots that nobody could even stand on but they could crow about how they owned land on another planet."

 

"Unlike you and the other farmers who actually own a lot of land but that's because you actually farm it, you don't own the land to make yourself look good."

 

"Anything else happen while you were out there?"

 

"Just a bunch of whiny fools. Some morons are wailing about the school having a mall. . .they pouted when they realized the mall wasn't on the school grounds. Idiots wanted the mall in the first place but didn't want to pay for it. . .now they see it's turning around. .."

 

"And want to take it from the people who brought it and who are making it profitable? Figures." Principal Madison snorts. "Anything else?"

 

"Oh gods yes, some moron trying to declare me incompetent and get control of my finances so they can have the land. . .after all it would be their land then, they wouldn't have stolen it. Ummmm no, enjoy prison asswipe. Some moron trying to claim I stole the books from her. . .enjoy prison bitch cause this isn't the first time you tried to take credit for somebody else's hard work. The thieving and just plain idiots are getting more notice now because they're not hiding in the maddening crowd." The others laugh but nod.

 

"Okay, do I need to move stuff to the ship?" She asks Alexander and Michael a few minutes later.

 

"Not yet, you just took some out a couple months ago." Alexander yawns, looking out the window. The rain had finally arrived and it had turned into freezing rain. They'll be using the tunnels until further notice.

 

Back at the dorm Josette passes along the information on the new 'colony' to the other planets and the other dimensions, the news is met with sighs and snickering. "Always got to be somebody making a fuss." Hank King says on the 9th planet. The others nod, some from the other dimension still getting used to the heroic son of their enemy. . .and Sylvester is getting used to the idea that he's his sister's son.

 

"Yes, and if they ever grow up they realize how damn stupid they were and become better human beings for it."

 

"That type of personality never does."

 

"Nope." Everybody thinks about people lost on their planet to the war thanks to one man's greed and stupidity.

 

"Are you fucking stupid? No, that girl only disappeared fifteen years ago, the location where the body is supposedly buried has had a house on it for over fifty years. You want to swoop in with ground penetrating radar and since the ground has to be absolutely bare that means taking out all the trees and tearing down the buildings. Correction, I know you're stupid and you must think everybody in the world is as stupid as you are. The answer Mr. Danton is NO."

 

"Especially since the young woman is not missing, she's been living in Miami for the last ten years after graduating from university." Another man says as he walks into the room with a file that he slaps in front of them.

 

"Damn it Jenkins, you were supposed to find us a missing person case they couldn't solve." the man who'd wanted the land leveled snaps and slaps another person. Who punches him right back. "You're the moron who chose the person asswipe, not me. You didn't want anybody with any family so the publicity would be all on you. . .not them."

 

"Oh yeah." They're soon pulled apart and housed in different cells.

 

"We just got a call. . .Danton's brother was arrested trying to move heavy equipment onto the land. operative word tried. .the shields turned it onto so much scrap metal. He was wailing about his machinery being destroyed when a woman damn near took his head off with the stock of a shotgun. He's wailing in a cell and threatening to sue for the cost of his machinery but since he was trying to trespass and destroy private property the guards are calling him a goddamn fool."

 

"But all those trees coming into my business would have made me millions." The man whines as he's arraigned in front of a judge. "I. . .I might have jumped the gun a little, but I'm sure the courts would have given me the trees. After all. . .that poor child. . ."

 

"Is alive and well and living in Miami after going to university." The judge drawls. "No court would have allowed your brother to tear down all those trees and their home in a vain attempt to find a body. . .that doesn't exist." He is dragged off screaming it wasn't fair. . .he deserved all those trees.

 

"Dear god, is it just me or are people absolutely stupid?" he asks after the room has emptied for the lunch break.

 

"No, it's not just you." His bailiff sighs. "They come up with these damn outlandish schemes to steal the land from the rightful owners and end up wailing it's not fair when they're sentenced to life in prison. I'm sure this group would have swooped in after they didn't locate the missing body and magnanimously taken the land off their hands."

 

"I'd have ordered they return the land to the way it was before they came on it. Which might have stopped them in the first place."

 

"They'd have declared bankruptcy and left the homeowner with nothing. Because the trees would magically have disappeared along with any money they made from them." A court employee snorts as she walks into the room. "Sorry to bother you Judge James, the police have a warrant that you need to sign."

 

He takes the paper, looks it over, and takes the pen, signing it at the defendants table. She takes it in thanks and hands it over to an officer.

 

Josette shakes her head as she reads the databurst on Haven from when this had happened on Earth. She's suing everybody involved and so is the young woman that had been used as a 'victim' to get the land. Her missing person's case had never been closed because one had never been opened. She didn't have any remaining family and that's one of the reasons dumbass had used her as a victim.

 

"But I was so sure that we would get the courts on our side. A poor child. . nobody was looking for her. . . the publicity would have been perfect for us. We could have tweaked the nose of the police department because they'd never bothered to look for her."

 

"Because anybody who would have bothered enough to report her missing would have fucking known she'd moved for school. Idiot." His lawyer snorts. "Enjoy prison asswipe. . .maybe enough of you greedy bastards spending life in prison will make others stop trying to steal land."

 

"But that takes sense." The jailer snorts. "Time's up."

 

"I was done anyway."

 

"But it's only been an hour. . .how is he going to get me out of here in that amount of time?"

 

"Moron, you aren't getting out of here. That small cell. . .get used to it. . .you're going to be in there for the rest of your life." His lawyer snorts as he gathers everything up. "And no, it's not no harm no foul. . .You didn't get to do what you wanted so you shouldn't be punished." He pushes away from the table as dumbass wails as he's dragged to his feet and taken back to the cell.

 

Josette snorts as she walks through the grandiose mansion that dumbass lives in. "Oh gods, this is fucking gaudy."

 

The court officer with her nods. He'd been invited into her home with Dr. Madison and while that home is bigger it's very obviously a home and not a showcase. . .like this place.

 

"Does he have any family?"

 

"None beyond his brother. . .they were 'advertising' for. . ."

 

"the right type of women to marry and have children. . .who would probably be sent off to a boarding school as soon as possible. Figures."

 

"You've had children."

 

"Yes, and all the kids were raised at home and are healthy, happy, and driving us around the bend."

 

He can't help it, he laughs. "My Momma said the same damn thing. And my father said. . ."

 

"That's the job of a kid. Oh yes. And let's not forget the old adage. . .may you have kids who act just like you. At least with the kids sent away to a boarding school they're not around the fools all the time and might actually turn out to be worthwhile human beings."

 

"Yep."

 

"Does the brother have his own home?"

 

"Yes. They're both heavily mortgaged to keep the businesses afloat."

 

"Would selling the houses pay the mortgage?" She asks a realtor who'd been brought in to look the properties over.

 

"No, there's not many people who would pay the kind of money they're looking for."

 

Josette looks at a wall. "Bed and breakfasts? They're too damn big to put up on one of the air b and b sites for just one family to rent."

 

"Perfect, there's a lot of attractions in the area." The realtor says. "Do you want me to call in somebody to look over the homes? The local school has a hospitality degree. . ."

 

"Perfect, they know what they're doing and as more students attend school they can work here." The realtor nods and she places a call.

 

"You don't seem too worried. . ."

 

"About making a go of this. Before the zero-population period I was awarded a house damn near as big as this for some absolute fool trying to get my quilting books away from me. . . how can the person who does all the work actually get all the profits?" The realtor is on hold and rolls her eyes. "I ended up turning the house into a retreat for crafters since there was a school nearby that specializes in it. The business is going well and I'm making money hand over fist from it. Granda and I both believe in letting people who actually know what they're doing being in charge of something."

 

Calvin nods. "I have a similar deal with a school that has a hospitality section for the hotel I built. When my school has more students, they can work at the hotel under a work-study position."

 

One of the teachers comes out and shakes her head. "We've been looking for a good sized building to use, but. . ."

 

"This is seriously ugly and needs painting at the least." The youngish looking woman says. "Josette Takahawa, the new owner."

 

"New owner?" She asks.

 

"The previous owner tried to get onto my land with heavy equipment to 'search' for a missing person with ground-penetrating radar. Unfortunately for him, the 'body' he was sure was located where my home was and had been for over fifty years was alive and well and living in Miami. They were planning on destroying everything then picking up the land for pennies because. . ."

 

"Everything was gone, figures."

 

"Yep, they'd get all the publicity of trying to find that poor young woman and bring her home. . .give her a proper burial since she didn't have any family. Who wouldn't be interfering with their publicity. And twit the police. . who hadn't even bothered looking for her. . .weeeeeellllll, no there hadn't been any missing persons reports filed. . ."

 

"Because anybody who would care to file the report would know where the girl was?" One of the realtors snorts. "Fanny, there's a second home."

 

"On the grounds?" She blinks.

 

"No, about three miles away. But both of them are mortgaged to the hilt to try to bolster their businesses."

 

"Which is why they tried this on my land. . .I have tons of trees that could 'disappear' and be quickly sold. . .because the ground has to be absolutely bare for it to work."

 

"No trees, no house. . ."

 

"Nope. Stupid fuckers are just that. . .stupid. No court would give them permission to come in and destroy everything, when they went whining to the police they found that girl in less than ten minutes. They started fighting and were arrested. . .the brother was arrested for trying to get onto the land with the heavy machinery but Ms. Takahawa's security system defeated him. He's whining that he might have jumped the gun a bit but she should have to pay for his destroyed machinery."

 

"Uhhhh, no. . .you were doing something illegal so no soup for you. They're whining cause they gotta pay off their bills. . .including the mortgages and other creditors. The businesses were barely hanging on and quickly closed when they were arrested. The judge ordered they give every employee a severance packet."

 

"Awwww, poo' baby. Did you get the businesses too?"

 

"Yes and some experts are already looking them over. Having somebody else turn them around after the useless pair nearly destroyed them will make them scream."

 

"Couldn't happen to a more useless pair. I know who these houses belong to now. This ain't the first time they tried pulling something illegal while trying to swing it so they're the damn heroes." Fanny snorts. "Their parents were just as greedy ass stupid."

 

"So that's it." Josette says a couple days after she came back to Haven. "Dumbasses are wailing that they could have found the body if they'd been allowed to destroy everything, there's not proof that the girl is alive and living in Miami. . .could somebody have aged a picture of her? Her social security number is in use, the damn post office had a change of address form for her. . .dumbass just pulled a name out of his ass of a young woman who'd 'vanished' into thin air. And nobody cared."

 

"Of course, the woman couldn't have moved!" President Bartlett drawls. "The buildings are going to have a little work done and there's already a sign-up list started for when they'll start operating."

 

"How big are we talking. . .about the size of your other home?"

 

"Yeah, each home has nine bedrooms. . .and a dozen bathrooms." The others shake their heads. "Not counting 'servant' rooms. With the students working shifts. . .they shouldn't be needed. TV room, minor library. . .the fools didn't read much unless it was business stuff. Cable and internet if they're needed." Nods from the others. "Like the retreat house, they're going to be handling everything, I'm just supplying the house and getting a portion of the money." The others nod. "Hopefully this is the goddamn end of the morons trying to steal our land."

 

"If the damn government has any sense. . .yes." President Bartlett says. "And with most governments, that's a damn big if. Okay, anything new."

 

"The printers will be closing up next year, I figure another three or four years and I'll reopen them again for three years. . .close them down for three or four years and then print the last of the books." Josette says, looking at the list of books being worked on. "Yeah, four down at the longest. And if I go four I'll only have two years off this next skip." The others nod, . .then chuckle. "Yes, I know this probably means I'll be getting hammered by the damn muses again."

 

"How is the mall coming?"

 

"Good, the roof is coming off in sections as they build onto it. . .people are coming out weekly to see the transformation on the inside. As the roof is removed, it's replaced with glass panels." Josette puts up the plans on the screen. "When I left a good half the original roof was gone. More stores are coming in everyday and there's a waiting list for the new floors. The movie theater will be opening when we're out for my show, I already got us tickets since they're selling out fast."

 

"Just like when the movie theater opened on Earth." Principal Madison says. The others nod.

 

"Is there any more interest in the school?"

 

"Yep, not just from the students at the school in town either."

 

"Another few years and. . ."

 

"We'll start seeing graduations again. yep."

 

Josette yawns as she walks through the front door of the dorm, taking off her boots and tossing her socks over the line. Wrinkling her nose she grabs the clips holding the line up and chucks everything in the basket, taking them downstairs to wash. Alan looks out the pocket doors a minute later and nods. "I was going to wash when you two got back."

 

"Is this it for the last of the rain and sleet?"

 

"According to the weather probes. . .yes."

 

"Not the first time we had one last winter storm."

 

"Nope. . .or the last."

 

A few days later it starts warming up again and the snow begins to melt. Doc comes out to ask Josette something and finds the boys washing windows while Abby takes down curtains on one side of the hall and Anna and Susan hang curtains up on the other side.

 

Josette flies in for a landing, taking the cart Abby shoves her direction and heading to the laundry. Yes, the buildings cleaning robots could handle all this but this is one of the signs winter is over, washing windows and curtains. Spring has truly arrived when she spreads manure on the fields and plants.

 

"These are the businesses you got?" He holds up the latest databurst when she comes back up with the clean curtains. The story of a businessman and his brother trying to destroy land is all over the databurst.

 

"Yeah, though I won't own them for another month our time." Josette says. "The homes were being painted and being got ready for a 'grand opening' as bed and breakfasts just as I was leaving. Since there's going to be a special. . .'something or other' in town. . ." Josette waves a hand. "They're looking at being fully booked."

 

"I'm sure dumbass will be wailing about that." David snorts.

 

"Oh yes, not only was I allowed to keep my land and everything on it, not only did I not have to pay for his shithead brother's machines. . .moron hadn't been paying the insurance premiums. . .not that it would have paid his claim since the damages occurred during a criminal incident, I got their homes and are not only turning them into a profitable business venture, I'm turning around the businesses too. Which they could have done if they'd actually worked at it instead of trying to cheat people."

 

"Please, that would mean being a damn grownup. . .not going to happen with some people." Abby snorts as the curtains are hung up and spritzed with spray starch.

 

In Calvin's dimension a judge snorts at a whining man in front of him. "No moron, you can't sue the woman who's home you tried to destroy because you're a miserable little fool. Grow up."

 

"But they're talking bad about me." he wails. "And don't she have to pay my brother's damages?"

 

"No, your brother tried driving his heavy machinery onto her land. He was trespassing and planning property damage. . .not only does she not have to pay for his machinery, he's going to be paying through the nose the judgment she's going to get against him."

 

"But I was sure that police would allow us to get on the land. . .she has so many trees. . .she doesn't deserve to own all that land. . .she's just lording it over people."

 

"No she's not, you're trying to lord it over people." He wails as his lawsuits are tossed out and he's returned to that miserable cell. . .it's not as big as his master bathroom.

 

Josette snorts as she reads the next databurst. "Of course the miserable fool thought I was lording it over everybody. . . he would."

 

"Just like that fool girl who sued to get Becka's job at Paddy's. . .but she comes in hours after everybody else." David mock-wails. "Fool was stunned to find out Becka had already put in a full day's work at her other job. But she gets paid a full forty hours here, doesn't she? Ummm no, only the hours she actually works, between ten and fifteen hours a week. Moron would not get it through her head that Becka makes and designs the jewelry, she doesn't buy it."

 

"Well of course. . .if she made it she couldn't slip in a few extra pieces for herself when she went to the high-end stores." Principal Madison snorts. "From what the others said her darling mother was just as stupid." Josette nods. "Okay, the supplies . . ." Josette disappears and reappears a few seconds later, looking up at the ceiling and sighing before grabbing her PADD.

 

"Another lost world?"

 

"Not quite, remember the movie Wall-E?"

 

"Humanity went to the stars and left Earth covered in trash?"

 

"Yep, and the other planets didn't want the fools settling on their planets, they're being sent back but Earth needs to be cleaned up first. They're going to be taking ten hours shifts sorting everything until they reach bare ground and when the Earth is clear they'll have to start replanting everything."

 

Josette splits off a duplicate and flies off with the ships and the others who'd arrived. The movie is played on the trip for those who haven't seen it and they shake their heads as they see the 'junk' covering earth. Men, women, and children are all working shifts to sort out the debris, it's trundled to the ships and disposed of.

 

"How long were we there? It didn't seem like any time, but. . . "

 

"Yeah, we were there about a thousand years under time dilation. It was longer because some of the whining fools whined like babies instead of working. And yes, they're the same people who left Earth in the first place. . .that's why they were made to clean up their shit." The others in the other ships nod in satisfaction. "I don't know how long they live here, it's been several centuries where they moved from one planet to another trying to find a place to settle and getting sent off because of their attitudes. Now they're being locked to their own planet with limited technology and will have to sink or swim on their own."

 

"As they should have." President Bartlett rumbles when they return to Haven. "Replicators?"

 

"Yes, but limited use because they don't have the power to make everything they want. . .the damn things are energy hogs."

 

"One of the reasons they were rationed in Voyager."

 

"That and they didn't have the resources to make stuff. Now. ..something like the seaweed I've got growing would be used in the replicator as raw materials. . .so was most of the shit that they were sorting. And how the hell humanity never got beyond the teen girl 'me, me, me, don't you know it's all about me' fits." Josette shrugs. "There's a difference beyond having a messy room, a messy house, and a damn messy planet."

 

"Voyager. . .you can harvest asteroids on your trips."

 

"Yes, the ship couldn't. They didn't have the technology to turn the raw ore into what they needed on a large scale. Either as machinery or in the case of biological specimens food."

 

"Where we can?"

 

"Yes, the ships all have manufacturing facilities and of course there's the sorting planet. That's one of the reasons GD is having me grow seaweed, they want to be able to take samples and put them in the replicators, either as food or as raw materials."

 

Sooner than any of them would have thought they're heading to Calvin's dimension for the show. The wailing of the fool who'd tried destroying the land is almost audible as all the publicity is good for her and bad for him. Wellllll. . .yessss, he had tried to destroy her land but they're all talking bad about him. He's not seeing a dime from turning his beautiful home into a bed and breakfast. . .being icily reminded that's not his home anymore. He lost everything trying to destroy her home. But he hadn't succeeded. . .he wailed and had been laughed at by everybody. . .including his own lawyer. And to add insult to injury the young woman he'd tried to use as a means to get onto the land was suing him for trying to claim she might not be the young woman in question, that she's using her identity to make him look bad.

 

"Oh dear god, how fucking stupid is he?" An officer of the court asks as he's drug off.

 

"He's used to getting his own way and now that he's being punished for his shit he's weeping and wailing." Another snorts. "His brother didn't get all the trees. . .he didn't get all the good publicity of trying to find that girl's body and give her a proper burial, he didn't get the money the realtors would have been lined up to pay for the land. He can't understand why he's in prison. . .he didn't get what he wanted. . .this time."

 

"No harm, no foul?"

 

"Yes, moron has been pulling this shit for years and is finally getting his ass handed to him for it. I don't see any reputable realtor . . .hell even the damn crooks in the news. . ."

 

"Lining up to buy the land. No, not after all the bad publicity. Fucking fools would have been working centuries in the medium security dimension to replace everything they destroyed. At least now people are fucking realizing that 'yes, you will be arrested, convicted, and be either in the medium security dimension or a prison cell for decades for trying to steal land that doesn't belong to you."

 

David looks around the mall and grins. "Oh, this is going to be gorgeous.

 

"Yep. the second floor is already full and the waiting list is on the third floor. The growing area on the second floor is already being talked about. . .people can come in and pick what they want." The others nod in satisfaction.

 

/Is it big enough for everybody?/ Anna asks.

 

/Yeah, it's being whomped up several dozen degrees. Restaurants are going to be able to buy here. . .they're going to be paying just a little bit more than a person off the street but the extra's going to go into a fund to create community gardens and subsidize low income people. They've already agreed./

 

Doc, Charles, and Dr. Cross are back from 'whatever' it was they'd been doing and everybody shakes their heads at the pictures of the other Earth, nodding in satisfaction at learning the people who'd left all that shit behind were the ones who were having to clean it up.

 

"We learned from our mistakes. . .they didn't." David sighs. "Speaking of mistakes. . .glass?"

 

"They're weeping and wailing about how rough it is but they're reusing the glass. At least the loudmouth schnooks." Calvin snickers at her phrase. "The damn grownups have been using recycled glass for years but. . ."

 

"The squeaky wheel gets the oil."

 

"Or a good swift kick if it's a shopping cart." Alan mumbles, looking at Josette. The others laugh but nod, they've all seen Josette kick a sticking cart wheel so it works.

 

They return to Haven a few weeks after the show.

 

"Is everything done?"

 

"Yes, dumbass was wailing in prison that he's not seeing a dime of the money from turning his house into a b and b, the guards reminded him it's not his home anymore." Principal Madison snorts. "He's also wailing that all the publicity is bad on him. ..why aren't they complaining about her not letting them on the land?" Professor Druid rolls her eyes. "Yeah, the woman who he claimed was murdered and buried on our land is suing the bastard because he tried claiming she's not really her. . .she's pretending to be her to make him look bad."

 

"His own stupidity is making him look bad." President Bartlett rumbles.

 

"Yep."

 

"The businesses?"

 

"Are slowly being turned around. Much to the weeping and wailing of the morons in prison. The employees weren't even off work that long. How. . .how. . .how can the businesses being doing well without them in charge?"

 

Professor Parker snorts. "The businesses are doing well because they're not in charge." The others snicker but nod.

 

Josette leans against the counter in the Albatross Nest, the others sighing or nodding at what's going on in Calvin's dimension. Everybody had just cackled when she got back from the other Earth with the others, saying it serves the fools right to have to clean up their mess.

 

"When do you see the first graduations?"

 

"About three more years. ..our time. The oldest kids at the school in town will be starting the seventh grade. They've been split up into three classrooms, by the time these graduated the room would be full." The others nod. "And they'll need to be able to spread out for more classes."

 

"No moving to different classrooms for a while. . .unless it's something that needs a special room." Suzie chuckles.

 

"Yep, and they're already used to everybody working on different stuff at the same time."

 

"Are more students taking elective classes at Calvin's?" One of the teachers from Edinborough asks.

 

"Yes, and not just the students from the local school either."

 

"Your grandfather's school has a nice reputation, I expect more students will be taking classes if they can."

 

"Yeah, Jane thinks they might be opening the school to limited boarders in another couple years. Parents with jobs where they have to travel. . .usually diplomats and other government employees."

 

"That's one reason reason for them to be boarding. We won't see the 'I'm too important to be bothered to deal with the children, that's why they're in boarding schools' nonsense for a while yet."

 

Josette nods. "Too early after they can have kids again. . .tongues would be wagging. And while they'd be talking about them . . .it wouldn't be the right kind of talking about them." The others snigger.

 

"Okay, am I nuts, or . . ."

 

"Have we been having a few miserable winters? Yes, it's not as bad as the years where our orbit was intersecting in the path of the second sun as it's orbit fluctuated but the other planets have mentioned similar years. . .it's our turn now. If it follows the pattern from the fourth and fifth planets we've got two more years before it goes back to normal. The experts are all looking over the pattern to give the other planets a heads up."

 

"Okay then, that makes it easier to bear. Nothing we can do about it."

 

"One of the reasons nobody said anything, it was over after a couple days and unlike Earth nobody was running to clear shelves of milk, bread, eggs, and toilet paper." The others snigger but nod. "The ice was soon cleared off the solar panels and the paths cleared." The others nod. "Not like any of us needed to get out."

 

"Nope, we have a little something something called common sense and if we're told the weather's going to be bad and to stay inside. . .we actually fucking stay inside." Marilyn drawls. "We don't need to get on the damn roads and make the authorities come rescue us because we're damn stupid to live."

 

"Oh. . .they're not stupid, they just don't think the rules need apply to them. That's so many whine like babies when they find themselves behind bars for trying some fantastic plot to steal my land."

 

"Some time behind bars . . .and not the damn fifteen minutes that celebrities got because of 'overcrowding' might make some of them grow the hell up."

 

Everybody looks at each other. "Nah."

 

"Books." Agatha points a finger at Josette.

 

"Next year will be the end of this batch, I figure three or four years off, three years of printing, if it's four years off the first time two years will finish up the books, then three years printing the last of them." Everybody nods. "Eight more books yet to debut over there. The printers are on schedule. . . the books will be finished in another week, another week to make sure everything's okay and the party can be anytime after that." everybody sniggers at Josette's hangdog face during the last sentence.

 

Agatha checks her calendar and puts up a date, sending out the message.

 

"Did you have the machines plant the cotton?"

 

"Yeah, between this year and next we'll have a good supply for dyeing yarn."

 

"Do we have a good selection of dyes?"

 

"Yes, both dried plant and single leaf."

 

The recycling bins are getting full at the school and Josette is busy moving everything to the ship a couple days later while David is shooting the garbage.

 

"How is the 9th planet Earth? It's been nearly a century their time. . ."

 

"Since the bombs went off, yes. They're working on another city-ship mission to investigate the planet. The radiation levels. . .at least in the air are falling rapidly but they don't know. . ."

 

"Water and soil are still probably affected. . .if Chernobyl and the Dai-ichi zones are anything to go by." Nods from the others. "They have been able to forecast an end to the nuclear winter though. Another ten years."

 

"Not bad."

 

"No, not considering how much shit was thrown into the air thanks to all the damn nukes. . .about as bad as our world and that shit in our atmosphere."

 

"How is that at clearing up?"

 

"Good, slowly but the patches of clear air are getting bigger. . .even to the naked eye." Josette puts pictures up and they nod as they can see the difference between two pictures. "The experts figure it will another couple hundred years before everything but the glaciers are melted. The lands that were blocked off are doing well. Africa is going back to nature, the way it was before industrialization and over planting." Pictures from after Josette had cleared the land and now were shown and they nod in satisfaction. "Hopefully the rest of the growing areas will be enough to renew Earth. They had to basically terraform that Earth since it had been covered in trash for decades."

 

"Seeing those pictures made us very damn glad we learned from our mistakes and everybody recycles." One of the soapmakers shudders as Suzie cuts fabric for her and they come up to the counter.

 

"Oh yes."

 

Josette returns from Calvin' dimension a few days later, having been called out for a whiny asshole who wanted to sue to force her to pay him damages because the people who'd tried stealing her land had promised him money. Unfortunately for him the courts weren't inclined to take his side and he'd walked off pouting.

 

"Granda's got his first boarding student." Josette says as she leans between her parents at dinner. They both look at her. "A fool woman was wailing about losing her home in a fire that killed her husband and left her a single parent to seven kids. . . with another one on the way. Her fourth husband by the way. The kids ranged in age from eleven to one."

 

"What, she was having them every year since the zero-population period ended?" Professor Fletcher blinks.

 

"Basically. . .yeah. So she could get money from the state. She was living with a relative while waiting for insurance money and . . .well, she started getting greedy and stealing from the relative. Some of the money she stole was for her eldest's schooling. . .she'd run through the money that was for her tuition. . .left her by her father. Her first husband. The relative was a designer and one of the rooms in her home was used for her loom, the bitch was trying to trash the loom. . .she shouldn't be having that, the room could be used for her music, she won't mind paying for a grand piano for her. . .will she?"

 

"Isn't her loom how she makes her money*?" Professor Parker drawls.

 

"Oh yes, the bitch was arrested and her kids sent off to foster care. They're all better off without the miserable bitch. . .who's now being investigated in her previous husband's deaths. Because the fire. . ."

 

"Wasn't an accident?" President Bartlett snorts.

 

"Looks that way and she's gonna be wailing in the work dimension to repay the money stolen from her eldest daughter's schooling fund. . .the bitch wasn't supposed to be able to touch it and she thought the money for her schooling was coming from that. . .not stolen from the relative. She immediately tried returning that money, Granda stepped in and offered her a scholarship loan, the money for her schooling was returned to the relative, she can take classes at the school in town and at his school, she'll have a part-time job at the businesses, and is living with Jane." Everybody nods in satisfaction.

 

"But you can't make me pay off all this." the moron woman whines as she looks at the growing list of judgments against her her lawyer shoves across the table in a prison meeting room.

 

"The hell they can't you damn fool. You've been found guilty."

 

"But the baby! All this work isn't good for the pregnancy. . .dear god I'm about ready to collapse just working in the recycling drop-off centers." The doctors wouldn't give her a medical excuse so she is actually working.

 

"Grow up you miserable bat. You aren't going to be pregnant when you go to the medium security dimension."

 

"But they're making me pay twice for Michelle."

 

"No, you're being forced to repay every cent you stole from your daughter's education fund and you're being forced to pay for her schooling. Two different things entirely."

 

"But I thought my cousin wouldn't mind me 'borrowing' her money. I needed it."

 

"Just like you needed a damn grand piano?"

 

"Yes, damn it. She had plenty of money. . .she hit me when I was trying to remove that damn loom."

 

"That's her home, that's her way of making money, and dear god you retarded asshole you deserved to be hit. If you'd pulled that crap on me I'd have shot you." Her own lawyer snorts as she continues to wail. "But you're going to make me repay the money I 'borrowed' for Michelle's schooling."

 

"Yes moron, if you 'borrow' something you have to return it." He sneers.

 

"But it's Michelle's fault, she didn't want to go to the local school that was free. She wanted a 'better' school."

 

"And wasn't that education fund her father left her supposed to pay for?"

 

"Weeeelllllll yeeeesssss." she whines. "But she didn't need to go to a better school, all she has to do is find a man to trap into marriage and start having babies. Her father wanted her to have an 'education'." she sneers.

 

"Yes moron, that's what a good parent wants. You're just a damn slut popping out babies for the state to pay for." The guard sneers. "Thankfully they'll all have 'real' parents to tell them they can be anything they want."

 

"So that's it." Josette says after the first crops are in and the databurst from Calvin's dimension is heard. "Dumbass bitch is going to be working her ass off in the medium security dimension after she delivers the baby. She's already lost custody of that one. . .the first person after the zero-population period for that to happen."

 

"D'awww. . .she's going to be famous. . .or is it infamous." David coos.

 

"Oh yes, the bitch is actually having to work while she's pregnant, the doctors wouldn't give her a medical excuse to sit on her ass in her prison cell. She's not working a full shift like the other prisoners. . .she's only working four hours a day three days a week at recycling drop-off centers. Even that is making the little bitch miserable. . .she's collapsing once she's in her cell. She's heartbroken the court isn't getting rid of the judgments against her. . .she's got to replace everything she stole from her oldest daughter's education fund and pay for her schooling? It's not fair. It's the girl's fault. . .she didn't want to go to the free school. . .noooo, she wanted to go to a good school. She doesn't need an education, all she needs to do is trap a boy and start having kids."

 

"Like her?" Dr. Hazlitt sneers. "Fool woman is the last person I'd want to be like."

 

"Oh yes, her father actually wanted her to have an education." Everybody hisses and boos. "Only the fact she's pregnant now is keeping the other prisoners from beating the stupidity out of her. Once she's delivered and paid off all her judgments she still have at least twenty-five years behind bars. Since she's already in her fifties. . .she won't get out of prison."

 

"Moron will learn what a real job feels like." The others nod.

 

"Josette, have you heard anything about the last crops?"

 

"Yes, they're going to be coming in the last week that we'd normally be off-world. We're harvesting here that week and then we'll have the last offworld harvests. Next year. . .we'll have to see again. This cycle is . . .strange, the harvests don't seem to be coming sooner. Even this early in the cycle we'd have one harvest before third semester midterms."

 

"Which is fine for us but not the other planets, some of the planets the food is being delivered as soon as it's canned." Professor Druid says. "I know the offworld harvests aren't meant to be our only food over the winter and with only one harvest they grow more than we do, but still . .."

 

The others nod.

 

 

Michelle smiles at her foster mother as she pulls up in front of the school. "Have a good day sweetie."

 

"Thanks Jane."

 

She walks into the portable building and settles in her seat.

 

"Good Morning Michelle."

 

"Good morning Ms. Masters." Plugging her thumb drive into her computer she sends her homework to the printer in the corner of the room. Double checking she has everything she drops it into the inbox on her teacher's desk. The woman chuckles and sends the next week's assignments to the school's server, Michelle downloading her list and starting to read as the others begin arriving. Nobody's surprised Michelle's the first one there, her foster mother drops her off on the way to work and she has to be at her job by now.

 

Jane slides into her seat in the front office and picks up the ringing phone.

 

"Lady, you must think the rest of the world is as stupid as you are." A jailhouse lawyer snorts in prison. "No, the woman who took in your oldest daughter doesn't have to stop giving her an education because you want her to just find a man and trap him into marriage. Get the fuck over it and yourself."

 

"But no girl needs an education. . .she just needs to find a man and open her legs." She sneers. The other woman backhands her and cusses her out for hours, leaving her wailing in her cell. A guard drags her off for her work that day, icily calling her an effing fool. "You have no damn control over any of your kids lives anymore moron, you don't have the right to try to demand anything."

 

"But no girl. . ."

 

"Shut the hell up you godddamn retarded bitch!" he cusses her out then slaps her when she tries grabbing his crotch.

 

The women dropping off recycling make her life a living hell the five hours she's there, not only does she have to work but now she's working extra hours she wails back at the prison. Too damn bad is the general consensus. Now she's being given extra duties at the prison, having to gather the recycling from the kitchen and other businesses, sort it out, and in the case of the kitchen clean it. And she'd wailed about the guard slapping her but when he told what she had done she had been the one to get into trouble. Her! They should all be kissing her feet, she's the most gorgeous woman. . .She's tossed back in her cell with another write-up added to her record.

 

"Goddamn idiot, how soon can the baby be born?"

 

"Not for another three weeks. Some babies are born at thirty-seven weeks but. . ."

 

"We'll put up with her stupidity for another three weeks to make sure the baby is born healthy."

 

"But I thought that money I was making from the recycling would pay my judgments." Dumbass wails in a courtroom a month later. She'd given birth two weeks ago to twin girls who were being loved on by their new parents.

 

"It wasn't even a damn drop in the bucket."

 

"But I only got five dollars out of all that work." She wails as she's sentenced to time in the medium security dimension in two weeks, giving her more time to recover. She'd still have to continue her recycling though and when she returned from the dimension she'd have to start her permanent jobs at the prison. That news leaves her wailing in her prison cell.

 

"Grow up you miserable bitch. . .did you really think the money you were making from the recycling was really enough to pay everything you owe? Moron."

 

Two short weeks . . .for her though everybody who had to listen to her damn wailing would say they lasted forever. . .later she's pushed into the work dimension, falling to her knees and blubbering until she's tossed into a room until she can be put to work. "Should put you in the job of 'relief' for the males but you'd probably like it." One of the guards mutters.

 

Several decades later for her she collapses wailing in the outside world. "they made me work. . .They wouldn't listen when I told them I was sure I had paid for everything. . .they kept showing me false statements showing I hadn't put anything towards my judgments. They. . .they wouldn't even let me near the male prisoners. .. I. . .I could have made enough money to be happy." She sobs brokenheartedly as she's tossed in the back of a van and transported back to the prison.

 

She wails louder as she's assigned her permanent jobs in prison. . .blubbering that weren't they going to let her go now? The warden had laughed at her and told her to pay attention to the lawyers and judges, no she now had to serve out her remaining sentence. And to get used to her cell, she'd be there for the rest of her miserable life.

 

Josette is putting up a hoe after working in the garden when she disappears. She reappears a few seconds later, shaking her head violently and swearing fluently.

 

"What's up?" Alan asks as he walks over.

 

"Ohhhh lord, what a dumbass dimension."

 

"Harry Potter?"

 

"Naruto."

 

Alan can't help it, he guffaws. "So were you Naruto?"

 

"Fuck no, I was the Kyuubi."

 

He falls on the floor, rolling and cackling. "I take it you didn't get stuck in his gut?"

 

"Nope, I was the village's protector and I had a lot of fun knocking some damn sense into dumbass ninjas. I swear. . . chakra must replace damn brains. No, I can't say that. . .even the damn civilians were fucking stupid. I knocked the shit out of Sakura with a tail. .. telling her a few facts of life. Her damn fangirl squee'ing was goddamn annoying and if she grew the fuck up she might be a decent ninja. The teachers told her the same thing. With no seal Naruto grew up a normal boy and was taught the Namikaze and Uzumaki jutsus by his parents. . .along with his siblings. Minato dealt with the Kumo idiots so Neji had to find something else to angst about other than his father being dead."

 

David's sliding down the wall cackling. "The Uchiha massacre didn't happen since Minato made everybody swear an oath of loyalty. Those who failed were in prison. The Hyuugas. . .and damn going 'aoooga' whenever their names were said was fun." Alan's running to the bathroom by now, David just a step behind him. "had to find another way to keep their oh so precious bloodline from being stolen than binding most of them. A lot of them were in prison too. . .not just the Uchiha. I was also an ANBU kunoichi and taught the girls the facts of life about being ninja. Not the damn glitz and glamour but real life. I also kicked old Kakashi's ass up around his ears and made him grow the fuck up. He had to actually teach. And arrive somewhere on time. It helped he wasn't kissing the ass of the last Uchiha. He wasn't the damn weapon of the village. . .his brother is in ANBU, he's got tons of cousins. .."

 

"He was a normal ninja and not brooding for vengeance."

 

"Yep." Josette drawls. "Sakura ended up a med-nin, she had perfect Chakra control but didn't have the mindset to be a ninja. Tenten became a major supplier of ninja weapons. Lee became a damn fine Ninja. . .I almost had him become the next Hokage after Minato. . ."

 

"Oh dear god. . .that would have been horrible for the other villages." Anna moans as she leans against the wall. "The hidden village of the leaf would have been the hidden village of YYYYYOOOOOUUUUUUTTTTTHHHHH!"

 

"Yup. Naruto became the next Hokage after his father retired, Lee became the head of ANBU, married, and started his own clan. The other clans inbred with his and they were the top village by the time Konohamaru became Hokage after Naruto retired."

 

Josette slides into her seat at the dining hall for dinner, the story being told to the others who hadn't heard. Professor Druid nods, she can see Josette stalking through town as a giant fox slapping the stupidity out of the more annoying people in the books. Principal Madison sighs as he sees Josette holding an annoying person by a tail up to her eyes, the moron pissing themselves when they realize how far up they are. She would have been giving everybody a few home truths and since she's a giant demonic fox nobody could do anything.

 

"What would you have done if Sasuke had been all vengeance?"

 

"Had him hump a cup daily for a few months or even years, freeze it, use it on various women so there's more Uchiha if the massacre had occurred then send the moron on a suicide mission. Maybe even see if the Hyuuga bloodline and the Uchiha bloodline could be combined." Josette says absently.

 

"And if the massacre hadn't happened?"

 

"Put the bastard in counseling and if his seed was needed have him hump a cup every day for a few months or even years. I have a feeling inbreeding was as bad in the clans as it was in the purebloods. If he turned rogue. . .take him down. I know in fanfics the eyes could be implanted in non-clan members, take Hyuuga eyes, add in Uchiha eyes. . .in a few generations you'd have a clan that couldn't be beaten. . ."

 

"In time you'd have enough people to do the eternal thing."

 

"Yep. if Ochi baby or Danzo had worked behind the scenes with the Uchiha they could have taken over the damn village from the inside. Who would have stopped them. . .the pervert or the lush?" They were both gone. The Hokage knew what his former student was up to, but he didn't have the time or energy to deal with him . . ."

 

"He couldn't protect Naruto." Professor Druid nods.

 

Josette nods. The next couple of days pass quickly, the tomatoes and other crops are needing more water and Josette has been turning the sprinklers on in the morning to soak everything. The boys show is soon and Josette drops into a seat in the rooms, telling the others what had happened. The others had learned of the manga and were snickering at Josette's antics.

 

"Eight more books." David chuckles the next morning as Josette stares blearily at the cup of coffee in front of her.

 

"Both to debut here and in Granda's dimension and to print on Haven." Josette says absently.

 

"How many books did you sign?"

 

"About the same as usual. . .nowhere near what I sell in Granda's dimension. . .especially last year."

 

"Yeah, here it's . . .yeah, you're older than you look. . .isn't everybody? Just like at home." The others snicker.

 

 

 

"Fuck you you moronic twat." Michelle's mother is told by a jailhouse lawyer. "No, there's no way in hell you're going to be 'compensated' for your trauma at having to pay your damn judgments. Grow the hell up."

 

"But I was there decades."

 

"And some have been there even longer. Grow up and take responsibility for your own actions. You stole your daughter's education fund."

 

"But she doesn't need school. . .all she has to do is find a man and spread her legs." She's backhanded by the other prisoner. "Do the world a favor and drop dead already. Nobody needs or wants your damn attitude. Thank god your oldest daughter doesn't want anything to do with you."

 

 

 

In a courtroom in Superhero dimension a man is wailing in front of a judge. "But your honor. . .that money. . ."

 

"Belongs to your oldest daughter, it was left to her by her grandfather for her education. Not for you to drain for your own interests. You claim the money is needed for your youngest daughter's surgery. . .the surgery is going to be paid for by insurance."

 

"But she'd have to wait for the insurance. . .if we use that money she can have the surgery. . ."

 

"Two days before the insurance would pay for it." His daughter's lawyer says, handing over the paperwork. "That money was left for your daughter's education you damn fool."

 

"But she doesn't need it right away, she's. . ." His face grows pale. "Oh god, she's in high school already."

 

"Yes Mr. Daniels, and putting in applications to university. She'll need her money. Your younger daughter can wait a whole two days for her surgery." He says mockingly. "Case dismissed and I'm ordering your name removed from her account. Your sister has volunteered to oversee her account."

 

He whines like a baby as his sister gives him a disgusted look. "Grow the fuck up you stupid goddamn little sack of shit."

 

"But I thought she'd have to wait longer than that for the surgery if insurance paid for it."

 

"Then you're as goddamn stupid as you look. Now get the hell out of my sight, apologize to your eldest daughter for being a goddamn fool, quit kissing the younger one's ass, and grow the fuck up."

 

"Did you get the money?" His daughter asks.

 

"No, your surgery will happen when insurance pays for it. Your sister is in high school and will be applying to university soon."

 

"But Daddy. . .I need the surgery. If I have to wait for insurance, I'll be. . ."

 

"Two days later."

 

"What?"

 

"Yes, your surgery would be two days after it would have been if you'd got my damn money." Her sister snarls. "Now shut the hell up before I kill your worthless ass, you won't have to worry about getting your fucking stomach stapled." Her sister sneers. "If you didn't eat like a damn pig. . ." the girl throws herself at her sister and is backhanded. She lays on the floor sniveling. "Grow the fuck up you goddamn stupid little brat. . .I hope the psychologists realize what a miserable little sack of shit you really are and deny you the damn surgery. That's right asshole, you've got to talk to the headshrinkers before the surgery. . ." She walks off to her sister wailing on the floor. She can't talk to psychologists. .. they're mean to her. . .telling her to quit eating like a damn pig and making her take responsibility for her own actions. They'd actually made her diet one time and she lost a hundred pounds at that horrible camp. She'd been miserable.

 

"Goddamn stupid cunt."

 

"You goddamn retarded whore." Her aunt bellows later that night as she throws the door open of the paddy wagon because the girl's too fat to sit in a regular police car. "How goddamn stupid are you that you try to kill your sister? And kill your parents?"

 

"But she said they'd make me talk to a psychologist, if she'd gave me that money they wouldn't have. . .would they?" She's holding her head where her sister took a baseball bat to her when she found her over her bed with a knife.

 

"Yes you goddamn whore, they don't want you to just keep eating the way you are after the surgery."

 

"But they're so damn mean, they made me diet." she wails.

 

"Yes, because that's what a goddamn human being does. Enjoy prison you goddamn little shit, you won't have to worry about your damn weight, working long hours and having to eat prison food will make it melt off." She's wailing as the door slams shut and Marilyn looks around for her other niece and goes running to her. The girl had been holding it together when she talked to the police but she breaks down bawling when her aunt wraps her arms around her. The officer talking with her nods in satisfaction, this is what the girl had needed.

 

It's a long couple of weeks while Marilyn deals with the life insurance and funerals. . .closed casket thanks to niece's attack on her parents and being there to sneer at her niece when the girl is charged with two counts of second degree murder and attempted murder for attacking her sister. The will is being probated, since a criminal can't profit from their crimes Natalie will be getting everything and Maddy left with nothing. . .something the dumb bitch had wailed about in court until the judge ordered her removed. The stupid bitch was whining that a court appointed attorney wouldn't get her off and Marilyn had about ripped her fool head off. "You're not getting off you retarded sack of shit, enjoy that cell. . you're going to be in that one or one just like it for the rest of your fucking life."

 

"But I can't live like this. . .I don't have a bed. . .I only eat three times a day. . ."

 

"Boo hoo hoo you goddamn miserable little bitch. Too damn bad. Prison's going to be a lot worse, you'll be working at least six hours a day. At just one job and you'll probably have two or three."

 

"But if my sister had just paid for the damn surgery. . ."

 

"Why the hell should your sister have to pay for surgery because you're a fat pig who can't stop eating?"

 

"But I would have had to talk to psychologists before they'd okay the surgery if the insurance paid for it."

 

"And they'd have to okay your damn surgery if your father took her money. And they wouldn't have okayed it because you haven't made any damn effort to lose weight." She leaves her wailing in her cell and then goes to the school to cuss out the fool principal who'd called demanding Natalie come back to school or be expelled.

 

"She's keeping up with her classes, don't you ever fucking threaten to expel her you goddamn whore or I'll go to every damn newspaper, tv station, and radio station and raise a damn fuss. The school board would fire you ass as soon as they heard the story."

 

"But I didn't know her parents had been killed."

 

"And why the hell did you think she was out of school you damn fool?" Marilyn snorts. "It's only been two weeks since her parents were murdered and she was attacked."

 

"But. . .but. . .but she's been out longer than that, hasn't she?" Rummaging through the files on her desk and actually having to read them now. "Ohhhh, you're right. . .it has been only two weeks. I thought the records said she'd been out two months."

 

"Yes moron, two weeks. Now ever bother my niece again and I'll destroy you to the molecular level." She slams the door behind her.

 

"Ignore her, she's a goddamn idiot." the secretary snorts. "Stupid bitch got the job because of her family, not because she actually cares about the kids. How's Natalie?"

 

"Good, she's not waking up multiple times a night screaming. Her idiot sister is whining about only getting three meals in jail, the guards are being mean to her. Her sister should be in there for protecting herself from her. . .so what if she had a knife and had just killed their parents, she hit her. How dare her sister not pay for her surgery. If she paid for the surgery she wouldn't have to talk to the psychologists. . .they're mean to her. They want her to lose weight."

 

"Isn't that what the damn surgery is for?" The secretary snorts. "Here's the assignments from all Natalie's teachers and I sent off what you dropped off a few minutes ago."

 

"Thank you dear. And my idiot niece seems to think the surgery will mean she can eat whatever she wants and still lose weight. Since the fool hasn't made an effort to lose any of the weight she wouldn't have been approved."

 

"No, no she wouldn't have." She agrees.

 

Marilyn drives past her brother's home on the way to her apartment, the house was being cleaned by a company that specializes in crime scenes and movers would be coming in and putting everything in storage. There's a letter from a lawyer's office and she cusses them out long and loud before making an appointment to talk to the fools.

 

"I don't fucking care if your fat falls over the edge of the concrete and pad, you're not getting a king-size bed installed in your cell. Sleep on the damn floor then." A judge snorts as he listens to the wailing of the girl. "You're in jail because you're being charged with murder little girl, not cheating at hopscotch."

 

"But it's not fair. . .if she'd just paid for my damn surgery."

 

The judge gives the little fool a few facts of life and she's sobbing brokenheartedly when she gets back to her cell. How could the psychologists have talked to her if her Daddy had paid for the surgery instead of insurance? They're mean, they want her to actually make an effort to lose the weight. What do they mean she wouldn't have been able to eat anything she wanted after the surgery? And her court-appointed lawyer is urging her to plead guilty and ask for a room in a prison hospital to lose weight. Don't they know her parents deserved to die for not getting the money for her surgery.

 

"Bitch is going to end up in prison for life isn't she?"

 

"Yes, not even the bleeding heart groups who hate kids being charged as adults will protest her case. Not after they heard why she attacked her family."

 

The house is quickly sold as Natalie returns to school, the other students either giving her space or ignoring her. Her friends had been in constant contact with her and the teachers are happy she's been keeping up with her studies. The principal dearly wants to say something about her getting special treatment but she can't, she's on thin ice with the school board and her family. . .after hearing of her stupidity. . .is refusing to push their weight around for her. Smirking nastily she starts composing a letter. A few days later her door is thrown open and the head of the school board gets in her damn face, waving a copy of the letter.

 

"How goddamn stupid are you? Trying to expel this young woman?"

 

"But she struck another student." She says smugly.

 

"Who was trying to kill her you goddamn whiny retarded fucking fool. Self-defense is still a goddamn right. Now get the hell out of this office and this school. . .you're fired."

 

"NO! You can't." She's stunned she's not getting her own way.

 

"Yes we can, the students come first. . .not your damn power trips." He drags her out of the school and tosses her off the school grounds, leaving her wailing the middle of the street. Why wouldn't they just do what she wanted?

 

"Good riddance to goddamn bad rubbish." The school secretary sneers. "Dumb bitch hated that girl because she was positive she was getting special treatment because her aunt told her off for threatening to expel her if she didn't return to school after the murders. It had barely been two weeks."

 

"That was way too soon." The head of the school board says. "Not after everything after that."

 

"Yes, all the psychologists agree that she needed the time off. Her parents were murdered, her sister had attacked her. .. she spent two days in the hospital."

 

"Yes, that bitch just wants to run the school like her own fiefdom. She tried threatening one of the other students with being expelled, the poor girl is undergoing cancer treatments."

 

"Miserable bitch."

 

"She wants what she wants when she wants it, the school should do it's best to suit her. . .not the students."

 

"Oh god no." The head of the school board turns around and punches the stupid bitch in the face when she rushes in with a gun, the police drag her off when they find the school board head holding the gun on her and she's blubbering that they should have done what she wanted.

 

 

"Fuck you moron, no we're bailing your useless ass out of jail. Grow the fuck up you stupid bitch, you were told to leave her alone, that she wasn't getting special treatment because her aunt wouldn't kiss your useless ass. And you turn around and send out that damn letter to get what you wanted."

 

"But she was out of school for so long. . ." she wails.

 

"Because she was recovering from the loss of her parents you fucking fool." her lawyer snorts. "Dear god woman, what the hell is your problem? Trying to get students expelled? You've tried expelling more students this month than the last ten years combined."

 

"But they're getting special treatment." she howls. "I should have been able to expel anybody I wanted. They claim they had excuses. .. I don't care."

 

"Miserable bitch." The lawyer snorts as he's shown out of the jail.

 

"Yep, she's whining about having to work in the jail and the other inmates being 'mean' to her."

 

"Good. . .hopefully the whore will get the stupidity beaten out of here."

 

 

 

"I. . .I . . .I thought there was more money than this." The lawyer who'd demanded an accounting of what Natalie had 'stolen' from her sister whines when he gets the paperwork. "Your grandparents were worth billions."

 

"And my father didn't inherit anything from the will, only I did. My aunt got sixty percent of the estate, I got forty percent, and it is in trust for me until I turn twenty-five and my Aunt had the option of keeping it in trust longer, my grandfather figured I should have my degrees by then. And be out of my father's home." Natalie says in disgust.

 

"But why would he do that?" He whines, seeing his plans to be somebody by getting that money away from her and under his control held in trust for his client until he can get her out of prison vanishing.

 

"Because my damn father was a fucking fool and my grandparents knew he'd make me give everything to that miserable little brat Maddy."

 

"But your parents had good jobs, where are their savings?"

 

"What damn savings? They ran through all the money they made spending it all on her. Eight hundred of the fifteen hundred they made weekly was spent on groceries. That's why Dad wanted to drain my education fund, because they didn't have the money for her weight loss surgery. The only money I inherited was from their life insurance policies. . .double payout because they were murdered."

 

He whines again. "The vehicles?"

 

"Paid off, Dad's car had to be totaled, the frame was destroyed from Maddy's fat ass sitting back there all the time. I'm driving Mom's car."

 

"The house?"

 

"Sold quickly but I had to pay off the home equity loan they took out to add a roll-in shower to the house since Maddy can't fit in a normal shower stall. . .even those big ones anymore. There were other final bills to be paid. . .including their funerals."

 

"Ladies, I apologize for my employee's demands of an accounting of the estate's finances." The senior partner says as he ends the meeting. "He's trying to be somebody in the office and he thought this would be a stepping stone."

 

"But couldn't they have lied about the money?" Marilyn can hear him wailing as they're escorted out of the office. He's continues to apologize the whole walk and turns and sighs as the door closes behind them. "Baxter, shut the fuck up. They'd have no damn reason to lie about the finances, they had all the legal paperwork."

 

"What about hidden bank accounts?"

 

"You're a fucking fool. Quit looking for a dramatic payout and get to work on real client cases. Not your damn pipe dreams."

 

"But that girl will have nothing when she gets out of prison."

 

"Fool, that girl ain't getting out of prison. They already announced they're trying her as an adult and she's going to be going away for the rest of her miserable life." A law clerk snorts. "Boss, can you look this over? Something's not right here."

 

 

Maddy is found guilty of two counts of second degree murder and a third count of attempted murder for her sister, being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. She wails its all her sister's fault for not giving her her money as she's led out of the courtroom.

 

"Goddamn retarded whore." One of the courthouse employees say as she's put in a cell in the courthouse for the rest of the day. "Okay gentlemen, what's your pleasure? We're ordering from Mama Santini's for lunch and dinner tonight." He hands over the menus and the guards put in their orders.

 

"Yep, ruined her whole life because she wouldn't stop eating."

 

"She's got an addictive personality, if it wasn't food it would have been something else." One of the guards snorts. "Shut up Daniels, nobody needs to listen to your damn whining. If the psychologists wouldn't have okayed the surgery too damn bad. You should have made a damn effort to trim off half a ton of that fat."

 

Maddy wails at how miserable her life is over the next couple of weeks. The prison cell is no better than the jail cell and when she'd tried getting her lawyer to request a real bed for her he'd actually laughed at her. At her! Her Mommy and Daddy had brought her a king-sized bed, why wouldn't the prison? She has to sleep sitting upright. . .sleeping on the floor is for animals. She doesn't get an entire meal to herself like her Mommy made. ..who cares if she has to cook twice so the rest of them could eat. . .don't they know she's special? How can she live on only one plate of food and it's not even what she likes. . .the damn prison has her on a diet.

 

Josette sighs as she reads the latest databurst from superhero dimension, she has a feeling in a couple years the older girl will be attending Hamberg. David looks over her shoulder and nods. "Miserable bitch. . .that younger girl."

 

"Well we all know some people are just born miserable and some fight everyday to overcome it while others wallow in their miserableness. She's like Willow, an addictive personality and in her case it was food, not magic."

 

"A Wrinkle in Time? They made another movie?" Anna asks as she opens a box from Superhero's dimension.

 

"Yeah, starring Oprah, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon. .." Josette looks over at the Disney movie. "Hopefully this does better than the usual book movies." Nods from the others. "And yes, they're hoping to make movies from the books, I passed along copies to people in the know. They'll make sure the movie actually follows the book, unlike scripts from some people. . ."

 

"Who've never read the books but think they're all that." Alan snorts. "Oh good, I was hoping the new season was coming out soon." He picks up a box set, copies it, and settles down to watch an episode.

 

Josette yawns as she walks into the Albatross nest, it's been spitting rain for a couple days and while it will be the 'oomph' needed to start everything ripening it's making her sleepy. From the yawns on the others faces she's not the only one. Grabbing the store copy of a pattern she starts cutting fabric.

 

"Not one of yours?" Agatha chuckles.

 

"Not today, the damn quilt's been yowling in my ear all week." She yawns. "Damn it."

 

"Oh I know, everybody's been yawning and everybody's tired of drinking coffee or their caffeinated beverage of choice." Suzie sighs. She scans Josette's card and Josette puts the bag in subspace before heading back to the dorm. Anna is sitting outside on the deck under the awning.

 

"Can't stand to be inside anymore either?"

 

"Nope. What's the latest on the mall?" The databurst had arrived that morning but Anna had been busy.

 

"The food area is up and running, the third floor is half full, the fourth floor is completed and the fifth floor will be finished by the time we come out after Thanksgiving. People are coming out of the growing area with a bag of fresh fruits and veggies, putting it in their car, and going shopping in the mall. Or conversely, people who were shopping in the mall wander into the food area and come out with bags." Anna nods. "When are you going out?"

 

"Tomorrow, I'm taking in socks, picking up supplies, stopping to Ellis's, and dealing with the books."

 

"Oh hi, you must be Michelle." Josette grins as she walks into the school office and finds a girl working at a desk.

 

"Ummm, yes. . .who are you?"

 

"I'm Josette, I'm from the other school. The others busy?" She waves a hand at Calvin's door.

 

"Yes, they're on a conference call."

 

"Important or whining?"

 

"Whining." She snorts.

 

"Figures. At a place where you can help me count socks?" She knocks twice on the door.

 

"Yeah, I'm. . ."

 

"Ahead in my classes. The others will tell you I'm the same way. You're not the first one to be taken in by the family." Josette brings out the containers and they start counting. Maria looks out the door and grins. "Josette's here, she's counting stuff with Michelle and telling her how she came to be at James's school." Jane and Calvin smile. They unmute the call and Calvin blisters the ass of the fool who's whining they're not paying attention to him.

 

Several weeks later her time she returns to Haven, waving boxes of stuff into the living room. Sticking her head through the door of Headquarters she looks at Monk. "Tell Doc I've got containers of stuff on Hanover for him."

 

"Thank you Josette, we've been expecting stuff."

 

"Did you get more machines in this shipment?" Principal Madison asks at dinner.

 

"Yes, both as part of the supplies and what I ordered from Ellis's. The new positions are opening up after the first of the year, the other planets should be able to start getting the new stuff at the end of next year, I'm going to allow pre-orders after the Harvest Festival."

 

Everybody nods in satisfaction. Over the next couple of days Josette brings stuff in and out of storage, moving the containers to a room in Headquarters when Doc tells her where to put it. Doc comes into the second building a few days later and finds Josette setting up the last of the machines. She straightens up and looks over her shoulder.

 

"Is this all for the schools?"

 

"No, both Eurekas are in here too. Everything but the sock machines." Doc nods in satisfaction and looks in the third building.

 

"Yeah, I've been working on it here and there." She says at the loom with fabric being made. "These are all to experiment with."

 

"Is that a hand cranked knitting machine?" He looks at something that is not one of the knitting machines you might find in a craft store.

 

"Yeah, I passed along the schematics to Granda though it's easier to knit stuff by hand if you can. But like I said it's something to experiment with. You can either crank it to charge the battery or operate it by hand but that would be miserable." Josette says. "I have the wooden and plastic knitting looms and the larger one you find in a craft store but I had to bring this out when I saw it listed."

 

Doc just shakes his head. "I saw you were putting aside some containers."

 

"Yeah, Maxie wanted a workroom like on the 9th planet. She's saving money from the offworld harvests to buy the containers and supply it. Since I already did it once, I know what it needs."

 

"Doesn't the 9th planet one piggyback. . ."

 

"On the alternate power? Yes, she's debating between piggybacking off the movie theater's or adding solar panels. With putting up shelving we can add insulation and it will have a potbellied stove for heat." Doc nods. If Pat didn't have an excellent studio of her own. . .added onto over the years though nowhere near as large as Josette's. . .which he swears is still growing and Josette agrees with him, she might have done the same.

 

"Do you see more people adding their own workrooms."

 

"Nope," Josette says with a grin as she shuts the door. "This is a way to be around people who are doing the same thing you are. You can talk to the others, get out of the house. . ." Doc nods in satisfaction. "Even those of us with workrooms can be found at the stores. Or the buildings here at the school. It's not the lack of room. . .it's the camaraderie."

 

"The same reason why all of us have our own areas but will often get together to work at Headquarters or the compound."

 

Josette sends a file to Frances, Suzie, Agatha, and Pat a few days later. "Look that over, will you? A cabin that's a workroom. A second floor loft for bigger supplies."

 

They look everything over and grin, making suggestions. "If we didn't have our own workrooms."

 

"Yep."

 

The harvests start coming in and the others begin arriving for the Harvest Festival. Michelle is looking around with wide eyes. . .knowing there's other dimensions is one thing but actually traveling to another world is another. She wanders the streets, looking at every table and in every store.

 

Meanwhile Josette is talking to Dr. Cross and Dr. McNider from the 8th and 9th planets about their orders. She's got a full list of everything that's she's made already and will be offering to the other planets after the first of the year. They nod in satisfaction and Josette delivers their boxes to the other planets.

 

"Well, that gives us a little more room." Pat chuckles. Josette sniggers. They both know the buildings wouldn't be running out of room any time soon.

 

"It will disappear when we open the new stuff to the other planets."

 

"Did you put up a notice?"

 

"After the Harvest Festival, I'm expecting the pre-orders to be in by the lights festival. After that they'll put in a basic order. If they look like it's going to be a bad year they can call and we'll make more."

 

Josette walks into a room on Ulonda and blinks. "Okay. . .how? I didn't bring anything back with me."

 

"You you no, but another you was there too." Ulonda chuckles. "We've got main branch Hyuuga eyes, Uchiha eyes, genetic testing notes that indicate how to pass along clan traits, copies of their jutsus. . .anything that would have been needed to take over." Josette closes her eyes, sighs, then starts swearing. Much to Ulonda's amusement.

 

"Okay, let's go get the cotton. Do we need to harvest anything while we're gone."

 

"No, thanks to the junkyard planet, we're good on raw materials for decades. Even with passing along what they could use."

 

Josette yawns as she slides into her usual seat at the dining hall. "I picked up the cotton, this batch will be made into thread for fabric." The others nod. "Next year's batch will be yarn." The others nod. "Next summer a batch of us are going to be dyeing the thread before it goes on cones." Nods from Frances and Elaine. "Once they get closer to that happening, I'll put the announcement up."

 

"Are we dyeing it all?"

 

"No, about a third to half of it in various colors, including the overlay glitter of the dried and fresh leaf plant dye."

 

"How are we on wool?"

 

"Got tons of it yet in storage until we need to bring it out." Josette looks out the window across from her. "Damn it, if it's going to rain. . .rain already." The others snicker but nod. The clouds have been threatening rain all day.

 

"Have we heard what this winter is going to be?"

 

"Cold and snow, the commercial replicator is working and people are already stocking up on wood. Thankfully with that cold winter a few years ago everybody's stocked up on quilts." Nods from the others. "Food's the last thing to get in and then we can hibernate until spring. . .and I know a few people who have tried just that." Nods from the others.

 

Josette and Maxie look at the area where she wants to put her workroom, far enough away not to bother anybody but close enough she's not hiking back and forth to her house.

 

"Okay, if we do two containers it would look like this." Josette sends a file of the workroom on the 9th planet as it first looked before they started filling it to Maxie. "Now, I've been toying with this plan. . .it's four containers and room for a second floor for larger supplies. The roof is flat for solar panels or it can have a cap over it for snow to hopefully slide off."

 

"Could you tell where they connected?'

 

"Nope, it would be one solid surface on the interior and exterior, and it can be painted to look however you want. The 9th planet left the exteriors plain . . .at first."

 

"How much more would four containers be?"

 

"Mot that much more, more lights, a staircase in the corner of the room. Are you looking at adding machines?"

 

"If the floor will hold." Maxie looks at Josette.

 

"Oh yes, they're made to hold tons of material and are stacked ten or twenty high." Josette says. "I already went over the plans with the engineers. Oh, this is something I'd been toying with." She passes over the files with the original and updated plan for the cabin workroom and Maxie sighs. "If I didn't already have plans for this that I love."

 

"That was everybody else's reaction. I'm probably going to put one up anyway."

 

"Would a four container workroom be too big for the area."

 

"We can make it look much smaller. Only a little would show on the outside and you could make it look the way you wanted but the inside would be the full four containers. . .or even bigger."

 

"Four containers with a pitched roof then, I'll piggyback it to the movie theater. I already asked and they don't mind, there's enough power for everybody." Josette writes everything down and nods.

 

"I'll start working on the exterior next spring then."

 

"Thank you Josette."

 

The offworld harvests start coming in and Josette is busy with the harvests. The fund for offworld purchases are growing by leaps and bounds, as is the fund Maxie created for her workroom. Josette had sent off the updated price list and she had nodded. She can pay everything off over time, she doesn't need to have everything paid right up front but she wants to. Everybody chuckles, they're the same damn way.

 

"The outlying areas?"

 

"Getting in the major supplies now. Clark and Kara are delivering the wagons to the others. Ma and Pa are used to storms that could blanket you in all winter and the compound. ..well they could have survived the ice age in there." Pat chuckles but nods. "As could we at Headquarters but I'd rather be able to walk outside for fresh air."

 

"Same with the dorm. I see trips to the first planet in our future." Doc nods as he comes up behind them.

 

"How are we on socks?" David asks as she comes into the dorm.

 

"We got three boxes of socks in the front of the dorm, I've got five more in the front room." Josette points towards a room and David nods. "We've all got new or nearly new winter boots." Alan nods. "Hopefully we won't be having to wash socks daily, if the smell gets too bad we can open the front doors for a few minutes."

 

In superhero dimension Maddy Daniels wails as she finds another wailing letter trying to blame her sister for her being in prison marked return to sender. The prison is being mean to her, not only making her work and putting her on a diet, they're making her attend counseling and the psychologist is a monster, he won't agree her parents deserved to die for not getting her sister's money. . .money for her sister's education, away from her. He won't agree that if the doctors had been paid cash she wouldn't have had to talk to a psychologist. . .didn't paying cash amount to anything anymore? He cusses her out long and loud and the guard are making her actually sit there and listen to him.

 

"Fucking idiot." One guard says to another as he walks past the cell. "How much is she bellyaching about having to lose thanks to the 'horrible' conditions she's being forced to live under?"

 

"Twenty pounds. She's wailing she's wasting away but nobody believes her."

 

"Bullshit. It would take her a hundred years to lose half the fat the way she's going." In her cell Maddy wails. "Shut your damn bawling Daniels and get a fucking shower, you stink."

 

"Mommy always helped me bathe." she blubbers.

 

"Well your Mommy can't help you now because you murdered her." He snorts. "The shower is free now, you're going to need two or three to get all your blubber wet. Here's the damn bath brushes. .. use them in between the folds of your blubber. . the doctor is disgusted you can't be bothered to bathe, that's why you have sores and infections." He shoves the bath towels. . .the largest bath sheet would look like a washcloth on her body, a clean uniform and new underwear, shampoo, conditioner, and soap in her arms. She's escorted to the showers and shoved in. A female guard is there and tells her to scrub. . .refusing to let her out until she does. By this time the water has turned cold and she's bawling that everybody is being mean to her. The guard tells her to shut her damn mouth, everybody's tired of smelling her stench and she's going to have to do this every day.

 

"Gentlemen, is she mentally ill?" The warden asks as her wails about how everybody's being mean to her can be heard until the door is firmly shut.

 

"No, she's just a stupid selfish shit who doesn't want to take responsibility for her own actions. And yes, that's my official diagnosis. The moron attended a 'camp' to lose weight and lost a hundred pounds but wailed the entire time. She wants to eat all she wants and the surgery would magically keep the weight off."

 

"A hospital?"

 

"Wouldn't have the facilities. . .for all that you hear about the people who have to be moved out of their homes by machinery because they weigh so much. They're moved to other facilities as soon as possible to lose the weight. No facility would take her. . .they have to be making an effort on their own to lose the weight. . .she doesn't want to."

 

"Your official orders?"

 

"Keep doing what you're doing, she's not responding to counseling. Don't show her any kindness, she'll twist it into she deserves everything she wants. Keep making her work, keep her cell clean, keep herself clean, keep giving her normal meals. . .don't let her buy food from the commissary. If she tries to take food, ban her to her cell."

 

"She hated school because the other kids made fun of her. . .make her get her GED." One of the other men snorts.

 

"Oh yes, Mommy and Daddy wouldn't make her go to school. . .not that they could get her in a damn car. . .she couldn't walk to her school and both girls couldn't fit in the back seat. The older girl was basically left on her own because the parents kissed that useless brat's ass all day. That's how the father didn't realize the older girl was in high school already and would need her education fund. The grandfather refused to start one for the other girl, even back then he could see she'd never need it."

 

"Shut your whiny mouth Daniels and get to work, you're not sitting on your ass for the rest of your life in that prison cell without something to show for it. The counselors petitioned the court to make you get your GED and by damn, you're going to get your GED. You might have sat on your ass at home refusing to do the work the school sent home for you but be damned if you're going to do it here."

 

Maddy wails. . .how can everybody be so mean to her? She didn't get a king-sized bed, she's got to either sleep on the floor or sitting up against the wall. She has to take a bench with her everywhere to sit on because she can't fit in a normal prison chair.

 

Natalie snorts as she listens to the counselor talking to her aunt about her sister in prison. "Figures, Maddy always had to have everything the way she wanted. . .she had the couch to herself. . .I couldn't even sit on the floor by the couch without the bitch kicking me. Dad caught her one time and slapped her, she spent the next three months in her room without any privileges, Mom had a fit about it but I had a huge bruise on my back and she had to agree Maddy went too far. That was just before she was sent off to the fat camp."

 

That news quickly makes it way back to the prison and Maddy wails as she's kicked by various prisoners who hiss that it's all she deserves for what she did to her sister.

 

"Fuck no you can't fucking sue your sister because she got everything. . .you don't get to benefit from your crime." One of the jailhouse lawyers snorts.

 

"Huh?"

 

"You can't get the money from killing your parents asshole, it's a law."

 

"Then she can really get everything?"

 

"Yes, because she's the damn victim, not you."

 

"But they won't put any money on the commissary books for me." she wails.

 

"Good, you don't deserve a damn thing." She snorts. "You are a useless waste of oxygen who should have been beaten to death years ago."

 

"But that's not fay-yay-yay-yay-yurrr." she whines. "I can't buy everything I want in the commissary. I can't even buy a bottle of pop, I used to drink a twelve pack a day. . .and not that damn diet. . ." She's punched right in the face and cussed out, the other prisoner walking over the wailing brat as she walks off.

 

The stupid bitch tries to demand the addresses for the groups that help prisoners but the librarian throws her out when she starts complaining about having to read books to find the information she wants and the guards dare take her side.

 

"Stupid little brat." A guard snorts as she's tossed in her cell and the door slammed in her face.

 

 

The crops start coming in on Haven and everybody is busy getting them in and preserved for the winter. Josette sighs as she tills the plants under for the winter.

 

"How many offworld harvests do we have yet?" Professor Druid asks at dinner.

 

"Four, two for us, the 10th planet's and one for Archimedes. The rest of theirs and our one is on the ship waiting to be delivered when the other is done." Josette sighs. "I know we're not running behind on anything but it sure the hell feels like it. We should be done with the offworld harvests and have the gardens and fields yet to go but we've got the fields and gardens in and still have the offworld harvests."

 

"It seems like you're putting the cart before the horse. . .but you're not." Dr. Hazlitt drawls. "It's all coming at once the last couple years. It wouldn't be any different than if they were coming in the second harvest and offworld crops. . .would it?"

 

"No, it's just this harvest being the last one and in a couple weeks we'll be seeing snow." Frances says. Elaine nods. "Any other time it would be myeh, we got plenty of time."

 

Josette slides into her usual seat at the government building for their next meeting. "Are the offworld harvests in?"

 

"The last one is today, David and my other self is checking in the volunteers right now." Josette says. She looks at the three older men. "Okay, do we already have plans for growing indoor year-round if we need to?"

 

"Yes." Doc says quietly. "Both the ones we've created and Earth's. . .hopefully we'll never need them."

 

"Amen. Okay, turning to other concerns. Snowblowers? We've had to replace ours at the ranch and dorm over the years."

 

"We replaced some of ours at Headquarters." Doc sighs.

 

"Same at the school. I. . ." Principal Madison sees somebody coming up. "Ed?"

 

"Snowblowers and shovels. . .we've got to replace them."

 

"We were just talking about them." Josette sends a thought winging towards her other self, getting a nod. "Okay, we can replicate new shovels and I'll bring out snowblowers on the ship and switch them to battery packs while I'm offworld harvesting."

 

"Thank you Josette."

 

"How many do you need and I'll ask Albatross this afternoon. If I don't make enough on the trip I can work on another batch."

 

"Ladies, question for you. . .or rather the town." Josette says as she walks through the link to the Albatross Nest in Albatross. "Snowblowers? We need to replace some in Town."

 

The others start sending off messages. . .a representative from the town council hurrying in a few minutes later. Josette talks with her and nods. "I'm working on some while I'm off on the last offworld harvest, if I don't make enough I'll work on more."

 

"Thank you Josette, even with proper maintenance. .."

 

"They wear out. We're lucky that they have lasted this long." Josette sighs and makes a note.

 

"Checking the ships to see if the ships have snowblowers already meant to run on battery packs and not have to be retrofitted?" Agatha snickers. She sighs and nods. "Ohhh, you didn't see this yet." She passes along the schematics for the knitting machine. Agatha stares at it then her. "You're joking. . .right?"

 

"Nope, I have it in my 'experimenting' building at the studio." The others are looking at them. "A hand-cranked knitting machine, not the small ones you find at craft stores and we have on the shelves in the warehouse, a big one. Like at the schools." The others still stare. "Crank it up and it tells you how many hours of battery life you have if you don't want to spend hours operating it by hand. It will tell you that it's low on power and save the pattern if you're not finished, going into standby until you can recharge it again." Messages are being sent off and the next day Josette brings a group of people into the building.

 

"The smaller one can make socks and stuff but you could probably make them quicker yourself depending on how good you're a knitter." Josette cranks the handle, the others watching the screen come alive and the power bars growing. Putting yarn in the machine she selects a pattern and they see a notice about how many cycles it will take to make before it starts running.

 

"I've found information on a hand-cranked quilting machine but I haven't brought it out yet."

 

"When you do, we want video." One of the teachers from Edinborough says as she looks at the other machines and the loom where Josette has something started. Doc looks in the doorway. "Josette, did you have enough snowblowers?"

 

"And then some." she chuckles. "I figured out how many we'd need and doubled that number. And I didn't make a dent in any of the machines on the ship."

 

Doc nods.

 

Josette leans between Principal Madison and Professor Druid at dinner that night. "Don't be surprised to find Granda muttering rude words when he comes out. There's fool who want walls on all buildings replaced with a one way glass so that people can look out but you can't look in."

 

"Like one way mirrors?" Professor Parker sighs.

 

"Yep."

 

"Why?"

 

"Because somebody's come up with it and they're looking to make a quick buck." President Bartlett drawls.

 

Everybody nods. "Yep, but there's no way in Hell that the glass could replace walls. . .there's no way to tie the floors into the walls and there's too much of a possibility of them being damaged."

 

"Glass walls in a prison?" Professor Parker drawls. "Really?"

 

"Yeah, they have glass cells for special prisoners but they're bulletproof glass. The walls would come down by somebody throwing a rock and then where are you?"

 

"Shooting them as they try to escape." Professor Ziegler says. The others nod.

 

Alan looks over from filling seed trays when Browen pokes her head in the door.

 

"Where's Josette?"

 

"On the ships, looking at snowblowers and quilting machines. We had to replace some this year and Josette's looking if any were already set to run on battery packs or if they have to be worked on like Josette did during the last offworld harvest. And she's heard rumors about a quilting machine that's crank powered like the knitting machine.

 

Bronwen stares at him. "The third building in her studio, the one that's for experimenting. The crank winds the battery pack, when you select the pattern it will tell you how many cycles it will take to make it if you don't want to run it with the crank the whole time." Alan looks up. /Josette?/

 

/Yeah?/

 

/One of you here in the dorm? Brownwen looks about ready to have an orgasm since I told her about the crank knitting machine. She's heading that way now./

 

Josette laughs. /I'm on my way up./

 

Josette pokes her head around the door and finds Bronwen staring at the machine as she winds the crank, the power bars slowly going up.

 

"How long?"

 

"About two and a half hours, a sweater takes three cycles depending on how elaborate it is. I have the ones you find in the crafting stores as well as the hand looms. . ." she waves at them and Bronwen nods. "I was thinking the craft stores ones could be used in the colony, but depending on your knitting proficiency. . ."

 

"You could probably make everything by hand faster." Hannah says as she joins her daughter and granddaughter in the room. "At least the small stuff."

 

"Yep."

 

"Any word on the colony dimension?"

 

"The treadle powered machines are in use in the building to make clothes for the colonists. Quilting is getting big, the blankets they brought out are wearing out."

 

"Make do with what you have, you can't expect to live off Earth forever. You're going to have to start making what you need."

 

Nods from the other two women.

 

"Nobody's seeing the colony as a permanent settlement off Earth even though it's been in operation for years."

 

"Same thing here until things started getting so bad. A kid acted up, he wanted to go back to Earth because he missed the damn internet. . .specifically his damn online games." The other two women roll their eyes. "The second time he got in trouble he was sentenced to six months working on the sorting planet. . .the parents had thrown their hands up. . .if he wouldn't behave he could go back to Earth. . .but he wouldn't be allowed to be on a computer, he'd have to do his schoolwork with a paper and pencil in front of somebody." Calvin cackles from the doorway at her fake. ..oh god, the horror tone of voice. "Anyway, working 40 hours a day straightened his ass out. He finished his schooling, got a degree, and brought one of the ships. . .his and my ship were the only ones left to harvest asteroids and whatnot after the others retired. . .they'd been working for years." The three older people nod.

 

Josette settles in her usual seat at dinner and yawns. Frances is looking at her. "Yes on the snowblowers and quilting machine. I brought out three size snowblowers, they don't have battery packs. . .they're like Becka's engines and get their power directly from the source." Becka nods. She'd had to retrofit the snowblowers on Earth and Mars years ago. "I brought out the quilting machine too, give me time to set it up after the Lights Festival."

 

"We can handle that." Bronwen, Frances, and Elaine say firmly.

 

The next morning Josette chuckles when she finds them already at work. Going into Headquarters she starts bringing stuff out of containers, putting them on the ships once they're empty. Then she turns her attention to bringing out more containers from the ships to different areas in town, Headquarters, and the dorm.

 

Bronwen coos over the plans for the cabin workroom and Josette hands over the order for the plastic she just placed. She nods in satisfaction as Josette looks at the clock. /Lunch!/

 

"Josette, did you get everything moved?"

 

"No, I've got a few more containers to move. . .not counting the ones maintenance is busy emptying for me." Principal Madison nods in agreement.

 

"Have you put aside the containers for Maxie?"

 

"Yeah, and put in an order for the interior panels, foam rubber insulation, stairs, and roof. The outside's only going to be the size of a standard shed, the interior will be the full four containers. ..and I can enlarge it if needed." The others look at her and she puts the plans up in the front and back room. "Maxie wants some machines, she asked if the floor would handle them. I said they're meant to hold up to a lot of weight, they're stacked ten, twenty high in dockyards on Earth, higher on the big ships, and even higher on the ships when so much stuff came up before we lost Earth."

 

Nods from the others.

 

"Stoves?"

 

"One for each floor, each will have a cooking area on top if she wants to keep something warm like tea or coffee." Josette sniggers. "People would be horrified at grown ups drinking from sippy cups but it keeps things from spilling on our work."

 

Josette finishes delivering the rest of the containers and slumps onto a couch, getting a cat jumping in her lap. "How is that fool girl adjusting to prison?" She asks Superhero Alice, she knows she's acquainted with her aunt.

 

"Not at all well, she wails for hours that people are being mean to her. The psychologists are monsters, they didn't agree with her that her parents deserved to die for not getting Natalie's education money away from her. . .she needed that surgery and the monster psychologists would have talked to her before okaying the surgery if insurance had paid for it. . .if her Daddy had been able to pay for it she would have got the surgery. .. doesn't paying cash count for anything anymore? She's working and having to take classes to get her GED, the guards are making her shower and keep her cell clean." Boohoohooing from everybody listening. "The prison's only allowing her one tray of food, her Mommy made two meals. . .one just for her and the second so they could eat too."

 

"Bitch should have had the stupidity beat out of her years ago from the sound of her." Calvin rumbles. "I wouldn't have put up with her shit and neither would James. The parents were enablers I bet."

 

"Yes, though Dad was putting his foot down. The girl had to have the couch to herself, the other girl got kicked if she even sat in front of it. Dad caught her once, slapped her, and she lost her privileges for two months, her mother had a fit but Natalie had a great big bruise so her mother agreed the other girl was in the wrong. That was just before she was sent to a fat farm and lost a hundred pounds. . .she hated it. They made her diet and exercise and. . ."

 

"And the bitch couldn't have that." Josette drawls. "Enjoy prison, the other cons won't be putting up with your shit."

 

"Oh yes, she's miserable. . .last I heard she was wasting away in prison. ..she'd lost a whole twenty pounds. They won't let her buy food in the commissary. . .they want her to actually lose weight and she's miserable. She can't even buy a bottle of pop and she used to drink a 12 pack a day. . .and not that diet crap either."

 

"No wonder she's so fat. . .how much. . .?"

 

"Before she left for the fat farm she weighed over five hundred pounds, she couldn't walk more than twenty steps, she refused to go to school. . .not that she could have fit behind a desk anyway. She refused to work on her assignments the school sent home. . .one of the reasons the psychologists are forcing her to get a GED." Alice drawls. "The moron gained all that weight back and then some. . .she was sure the surgery was a miracle. . .she'd still be able to eat what she wanted and the weight would magically fly off."

 

"Bullshit, if she wasn't making any effort to lose the weight they wouldn't have okayed it, no matter who paid for the surgery." Richard snorts. The others nod. "Fool would have been in a facility before long."

 

"Yes, she's miserable. . .neither the jail or prison will put a king-sized bed in her cell, she either has to sleep sitting up on the thin pad in her cell or sleep on the floor if the fat hanging over the side of the cement bothers her. She has to take a bench with her everywhere since she can't sit in a normal prison chair. And the cafeteria is like most school cafeterias. . ."

 

"Those little round seats." Calvin shakes his head.

 

"Yes, she could never have sat on them, she'd break them off the second she tried sitting down. She has to eat at the end of the table and is limited to only one tray, if she tries to steal food from other inmates she'll be dragged away and left in her cell."

 

"Is she working? I know Michelle's mother is putting up a fuss about it."

 

"Oh yes, she's got one job now and will have a second when the prison gardens are in. Michelle?" The story is told of the woman in Calvin's dimension and they shake their heads. "She's well rid of her. . .her and the other children,"

 

"Yes, we set up play dates with the other parents so they see each other regularly beyond writing. It's not perfect. . .nobody likes the idea that they had to be separated but nobody could take in seven children and two more when she delivered again."

 

"They've all got loving parents though, and Michelle is flourishing."

 

"That she is, she is getting good grades and is looking at universities in a few years. The teachers are all talking to her about their area. . ." The others nod in satisfaction.

 

 

Josette sends the schematics for the handcranked quilting machine to the Albatross Nest's server when she arrives for the party, it immediately going up on the screen. "Did you set it up yet?"

 

"Bronwen, Frances, and Elaine did while I was busy delivering containers . . .they didn't want to wait." The others chuckle.

 

"Your cabin workroom?"

 

"I put in the order for the plastic for that and Maxie's workroom. Her building's going to be shed sized on the outside and the full four containers on the inside." Everybody nods, well used to buildings bigger on the inside.

 

Josette waves a hand and quilts appear on the tables. "Some from the books I'm still working on so you're getting a sneak preview of them." The others smile and start looking everything over.

 

"Books?"

 

"Eight more to debut in the other dimensions, four more years. Another year here, I've been working on the quilts and figure three years off, three printing, another three years off. . .and three on to finish them."

 

Josette puts everything away when she returns to the dorm, 'looking' around and finding everybody busy. Hopping in the shower she opens a bottle of new shampoo and starts washing her hair, wrapping it in a turban towel as she looks out the wall of windows.

 

"This is the effect dumbass was looking for when he wanted all the walls replaced with one way glass." David says as he comes into her room.

 

"Yeah but as usual he was going at it the wrong way. There's no fucking way a wall of glass would be load bearing and even if it was, the damn sun would wake you up every morning if your room faced that way."

 

"Add in homes in cities where you have lights on all the time. That's what they made blackout curtains for."

 

"The 9th and tenth planets."

 

"People who work nights."

 

"Josette, your metallurgy thesis?" Principal Madison asks at dinner.

 

"Turned it in the morning of our last offworld harvest. I have six more classes, I'm sure Dr. Stark will smirk and tell me I have it when I'm done. It's not like I haven't been doing this for years." Nods from the other.

 

The Lights Festival is festive even with the snow that's passed and the snow threatening to fall after the event is over. Snowballs are being packed everywhere and there's a couple of snow forts already prepared. The fight is on and the teams change all the time, people dropping out to get something to eat or drink. People change sides in grand dramas. . .either defecting and being pelted with snowballs by both sides or being labeled as spies. Everybody's laughing knowing soon they won't want to be outside.

 

Josette smirks and passes on the schematics for the hand-cranked knitting machine to Superhero Doc before he leaves. Everybody is sure that very soon Maddy will be bawling as she turns that crank for six hours. Being 'hand-made' by a prisoner means the sales should be through the roof. Calvin snickers, maybe he should drop a few hints about Michelle's mother getting a job running one.

 

 

 

Josette slides into her usual spot in the meeting room after the first of the year. Big fat flakes are falling outside and the window and people are busy clearing the paths. President Bartlett, Doc, and Principal Madison start coming in, finding the room toasty warm thanks to an application of heat vision. David comes in a few minutes later, he'd been talking to Dr. Stark about something or other happening at GD.

 

"Thank you Josette."

 

"I heard from Superhero, he passed along the information on the knitting machine, they made three and the sister is working on one. . .the orders are already coming in. They'll quickly make back the cost of it and then start showing a profit. Maddy's wailing about all the hard work she's doing but nobody's giving her any sympathy."

 

"Good, how much weight did she lose?"

 

"So far less than thirty pounds. The doctors want her to lose it slowly, unlike biggest loser where they're left with all that excess skin. The prison wouldn't pay for that unless it became a medical necessity." Nods from the others.

 

"The new jobs?"

 

"Started last week, if the orders start getting bigger we might make two shifts." Nods from the others.

 

"Book signing?"

 

"Next week."

 

"Plastic orders?"

 

"First batch for Maxie is on the ship, I picked it up when I was picking up the recycling. The second order and the first part of my order is due in a couple months, the last of Maxie's order and the second part of mine will be due after we've planted. I'll have the exterior finished by next fall and work on the interior over the winter. Putting up panels, installing the stairway going up to the second floor loft instead of just the ladder. . ." Nods from the others. "Insulation?"

 

"The walls should be thick enough but I want to add insulation anyway, and the roof will definitely need it unless I want to see icicles forming." The others snicker but nod, that's one thing they won't see on Haven. . .all the buildings are tightly insulated to keep it *inside*. No heat loss through the roofs for them.

 

"Anything else?"

 

"Maintenance asked if we needed to start cleaning buildings again this summer. It's been a few years but. . ."

 

"Except for the buildings we use frequently, not needed." Principal Madison says slowly. Josette rattles off the list and he nods. She sends off the note and turns her attention back to the list, idly reaching over and swatting Principal Madison upside the head. "From Lady Simone for being an annoying brat, she added it to my list." While she might not have given birth to him she's certainly becoming his mother. President Bartlett and Doc try not to laugh at his hangdog look, David slid off the chair and is howling on the floor.

 

"Is the mall finished?"

 

"Yes, and most of the stores are been filled." Josette says, looking over the latest information. "Ahh yes, here we are. The nightclub on the fifth floor is doing well, the mini-golf course is being looked at in 'what the hell are they doing here, shouldn't they be outside' looks but sales are good. . .especially with a portion of the monthly proceeds are being donated to charities. A lot of groups are holding fundraisers there. The growing area is selling well, the movie theater is sold out whenever the latest big name hit premieres. The whiners who wanted the mall after they'd put in all that work are wailing. . ."

 

"Because they're not getting the profits. Figures." President Bartlett snorts. Josette opens a bottle of Haven Dew then holds up a hand, covers her mouth, and lets out a rumbling belch.

 

"Will you live?" Principal Madison asks dryly. Josette's shaking her head. "That one made my ears pop." She covers her mouth again, but this time it's for a yawn. Since she's not the only one yawning and everybody has been thinking this is a good day to veg out nobody says anything.

 

Maddy wails as she's led into that horrible room again. "Quit your caterwauling Daniels, I don't give a crap that your Mommy wouldn't have let anybody be mean to you. You're a fat pig who murdered your parents. You don't have any rights anymore. Now get to goddamn work. The list of what to make is posted on the board."

 

"Get up Daniels. . .you didn't faint from exhaustion and hunger." A guard bellows. "You eat three balanced meals a day to meet all your nutritional needs, you're just whining you don't eat all the shit you used to eat." Wailing that everybody's being mean to her she gets up. She tries to head for the door and he glares at her. "Get back to work you useless little brat."

 

"But you can't mean to make me work, can you?"

 

"Damn right you're going to be working, you ain't sitting on your ass on the state's dime."

 

"But I don't wanna work."

 

"Too goddamn bad, I'm sure your parents didn't wanna be dead." He snaps. She gulps and goes back to work cranking the handle. She'd tried suing her sister again and had been removed from the courtroom when she started throwing things at the other table in another fit because she didn't get what she wanted. And she actually got punished for that. . .the bitch deserved to get hit for not giving her her money. . .she actually hit her back. And kicked her, asking her how she liked being on the other end of the abuse. She'd blubbered she'd never abused her and she'd told the judge everything her sister had done. . .how could she have done that. Welllllll yeeeeesssss, she had struck her sister once or twice when she got too close to her. . .but that wasn't her fault, was it? She deserved to have the entire couch to herself. . .including the floor. If she could kick or hit her without getting up, she was too close. That little proclamation got her a series of kicks from her sister. She'd tried saying she was hurt and needed to be in the prison's hospital but the guard had snorted and said how could she had been hurt through all that blubber. And she'd got in trouble again."

 

Josette comes back to the dorm, taking off her snow boots and taking off the socks, throwing them over the line. David does the same before they both walk through the pocket doors. Alan is laying on the couch with a PADD nearly falling out of his lax fingers. David snorts and picks the PADD up, putting it on the coffee table as he rubs the ears of the cat sleeping on Alan's chest.

 

The morning of the book signing Sue snickers as she walks into her store and finding tables filled with piles of fabric and the remnants bin stuffed with bolts of fabric. The door of the stock room opening tells her where Josette is and she takes the new bolts of fabric, shelving them as Josette starts filling the bags.

 

"How many more?"

 

"This is it, that's why there's so many bags."

 

"All the quilts you had in your books."

 

"Yep." They measure the remaining fabric and slap labels on them, putting the fabric in the bin and Josette moaning at the price of the twenty page receipt that prints out. Sue sniggers and Josette just gives her a long-suffering look. "The cabin workroom?"

 

"I should be getting the first batch of supplies for the exterior when I pick up the second batch of Maxie's stuff after planting. I'll have the exterior finished this fall and work on the interior this winter. Right now I just have a ladder going up to the second floor loft, I'll replace that with a circular staircase."

 

"Take up less room than a regular staircase but easier to get up than a ladder. . .not that you need it." Josette chuckles and nods. "Maxie will have a regular staircase but she's also got a lift that will allow her to put stuff on it and bring it up or down so she's not trying to take it down a flight of stairs."

 

Agatha nods in satisfaction as Josette comes in and makes a dozen energy duplicates, ten of them working on finishing getting in the supplies for the quilts while the other three bring out the boxes and set up the tables.

 

"Is that everything?" It's more bags than normal.

 

"Yeah, do it now so I have everything when I need it." Josette yawns. "Hopefully the damn muses will let me be for a while when the last of the books are printed." Agatha just snorts.

 

"Yeah, I know. . .not gonna happen."

 

"Hear you got some celebrations this year?"

 

"Thomas and his group are turning a hundred, we're going to be married a hundred and fifty years, I turned twenty a couple months after we married. Another three years and the quints will be turning a hundred. Our youngest are turning forty-five." Josette shakes her head. "Sometimes it feels like just yesterday I was walking into the school for the first time."

 

"Yep, know that feeling very well. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday that I opened the store." She looks around the store that's changed a lot over the last hundred some years and nods in satisfaction. A knock on the door has the food being delivered and at the stroke of eleven the doors open for the others to arrive.

 

"How many books?"

 

"About seven hundred of each, I took out a thousand each and signed the rest once the party was over." Josette yawns as she stretches backwards in her desk chair until it nearly falls over.

 

Josette waves the bags upstairs to the workroom and joins the others walking to the dining hall for dinner. She's waved to the front room and just gives her parents a 'yeah, and?' look that has the others snickering.

 

"Dad wants you at the school tomorrow morning after breakfast. . .our time, for a meeting."

 

"Why?"

 

"Some damn fool doesn't like how the school is running their libraries. It shouldn't be so large. . .they shouldn't be allowed to have so much fiction. . .it might 'warp' the children."

 

"And a regular library wouldn't?"

 

"He couldn't answer that." Principal Madison drawls. "He went whining to some fools who are trying to make a name for themselves in the government."

 

Josette sighs and looks up at the ceiling. "I might as well take out the socks while I'm there."

 

"No you listen to ME you little fool." Josette growls, twisting the hand she'd captured when he'd tried hitting her and making him cry out. "You are a fucking goddamn moron who needs to shut the hell up and go away before we kick your little ass up around your ears. You have no damn cause trying to tell us what we can or cannot have in our libraries. You don't have any children, you don't have any grandchildren, nieces, nephews etc. . . You're just a miserable fool who thinks he deserves to tell everybody else how to run their lives because you can't handle yours." He tries punching her with his other hand and she grabs that one, icily calling him on his stupidity until he curls on the floor bawling much to the disgust of the people he'd called in to 'inspect' the school that was failing their students. They drag him off and throw him in a room.

 

"Keep this goddamn fool on a leash before somebody really does kill him."

 

"What was his trouble at that school?"

 

"They had fiction in their library. . .it might 'warp' the students. He doesn't want students, he wants fucking little robots who don't think for themselves or enjoy anything."

 

"That's not what you told me you little bastard." The boss growls. "You told me the classes were substandard and the employees needed to be replaced. . .for the good of the children."

 

"They do, they wouldn't do what I wanted. . ." he wails. "They needed to be fired."

 

"Grow the hell up you miserable little sack. . ." he rips him to shreds for nearly an hour and he runs off wailing that a library shouldn't have fiction in it. . .it would warp the children.

 

"Moron probably only ready finance stuff." One of the others snorts as he runs off.

 

"Please, that's too hard for him. . He's one of those fools who doesn't read anything."

 

"Probably."

 

"God damn effing moron, tried hitting me and got his hands grabbed as I cussed him out. The people who he called in under false pretenses cussed him out, the judge cussed him out when he tried suing me for assault but I had the proof he started it. . ."

 

"Old fool." President Bartlett sighs. "Probably one of those fools who were born old."

 

"Yep, he figures he can shove around his nonexistent weight around and runs off wailing when people with some damn sense tell him to get the fuck over it. And himself."

 

"You took in the socks?"

 

"Yes, and we're expecting another batch of more machines in a couple years when the orders go up again. If it's as big as Granda thinks. . .definitely will have a second shift in both buildings, a new building, or both."

 

"Really?" President Bartlett says. Josette whispers something in his ear. He looks at her. "I'm not counting my chickens before they're hatched, I remember the damn nonsense with Earth and the sock machines." The teachers there nod and the teachers who weren't are told and sigh. "At least they were doing it to try to get in a supply before the ice age, not just because manufacturers complained they weren't seeing any of the profits."

 

Josette sighs as she settles in steaming hot water in her ranch bathroom with the girls. She's turned the fire up and settles against the cool of the tile.

 

"How long were you out?"

 

"Not quite six weeks, I had to deal with greedy idiots most of that time though."

 

//"Lady, I have no fucking clue who the hell you are but you certainly have no damn claim to my land. My partners have a little something something called class and would never had sex with you, no matter how damn drunk they are. Since you pointed out several men, none of which are my partners nobody's going to believe your crap."

 

"But they told me they were your husbands." she whines. "Damn it, how can I steal the land so my family can cut down all the trees if. . ." her voice trails off. "Oh shit, I said that out loud. . .didn't I?"

 

Josette just covers her eyes with a hand as the woman is dragged off. "I think this case can be dismissed?" She finally asks the judge.

 

"Oh yes, we were just giving her enough rope to hang herself and she did it very well." He sighs. The official paperwork is handed over a few minutes later and Josette sighs. "I'm about ready to shoot the next person who tries to get the land and trees away from me.//

 

"Goddamn idiot." Susan moans as she slides into the water. Professor Druid had come over to talk to Josette about something and was sitting on one of the padded benches along with Pat.

 

Josette cackles evilly and the others just know she somehow fixed their little red wagons.

 

"What did you do?" Pat asks with a grin.

 

"There is a dimension overrun by trees. . .think our scrub trees but they grow like weeds. As in, you can cut one down and by the next morning the stump has new growth, in a week it's over forty feet again. I dropped a few hints in various ears and they were sent off. . .being told they could take all the trees they wanted if they cleared it."

 

"And they couldn't?" Professor Druid sighs.

 

"Nope." Josette smirks. "After about six months they tapped out and the government allowed them to take the trees so they'd have something to show for all of their work as they promised they would never try to take any trees ever again. The next batch was sent off and they lasted six months too."

 

"And the reputable groups knew there was a catch and didn't want to be involved." Pat sighs.

 

"Yep. There will be reputable tree companies coming out when needed and the crooks looking to cause trouble will come running there for quick money. Once the crooks are finished the government is looking to take over the companies."

 

"Did you get any?"

 

"Oh yes, I took my own turn and I got tons on the ship. It's high-quality wood for all that it's 'scrub' trees. I got seeds for the trees in case we want to plant them ourselves."

 

"If it was more than trees I'd see them being able to replant blighted areas." Professor Druid says.

 

Josette just whistles innocently, everybody looking at her. "I asked because our planets were terraformed, Earth might need help after the snow melts. The 9th planet Earth might need help."

 

"Is there a way to stop the growing?"

 

"Dig up the roots completely. If you leave even a bit it will start growing again. But if you get all the root. . .you can put the plant up and replant it years in the future and it will grow again. Of course, if you do leave some of the root you have two plants now. And yes, you can split apart the roots for multiple plantings like you see on the garden shows."

 

"Doc is wanting information." Pat says with a smirk.

 

Rolling her eyes she grabs her PADD and sends off a file to him, Clark and Thomas, Thomas, 9th and 10 planet Docs, and finally both Dr. Starks. "I was going to send that in the morning."

 

"Oh like you expected them not to be demanding information after you 'innocently' told us." Susan splashes Josette with water once she's put the PADD up.

 

On Archimedes a botanist is whimpering as she sees the sped up footage of the tree growing out of the stump that had been left behind. Sheriff Carter is snickering about how tree companies had been hoist on their own petard and Drs. Cross and McNider were chuckling with him. Dr. Blake gives the three men behave looks but Dr. Stark had been smirking just as hard.

 

"Okay Josette, I know that look. ..what else did you do while you were on Calvin's Earth?" Pat drawls.

 

"Weeeeelllllll, a group of crooks are going to be very disappointed if they get out of prison to find the money they'd buried to keep safe was dug up in their absence." Josette drawls. "It's all old bills, none of it marked, and I already split off some to send to charity."

 

Pat sighs. Doc would have done the same thing in the old days so she can't complain. "Are you investing it?"

 

"Yes."

 

"Do I wanna know how much money?"

 

"Nope, let's just say spoils of war and leave it at that. Because they'd taken over other groups and when the government took them down it was a major bust."

 

The next morning Josette starts putting everything away in her workroom, Pat moaning. "Is this all the remaining quilts?"

 

"Yep, that's why I got so many the morning of the book signing." They look at the full to overflowing shelves and nods in satisfaction. Looking at a box of thread she brings out another case and Pat nods in satisfaction.

 

"Are we having another trip out to Ellis's?"

 

"In a couple years. The cruise is next year and I already paid for our tickets. Everybody's used to sharing cabins so it was a matter of 'okay, how many cabins do you need' and paying for them."

 

Agatha nods in satisfaction as she prints out the receipts for the tickets and the cabins booked, in the schools the others are doing the same. Now the money in the fund will be going for their purchases.

 

Josette lifts her face to the sky the day she'd went to the first planet, taking in deep breaths of warm fresh air before she starts moving the plants from the seed trays to the raised beds and waters them. She'd been asked to plant something for GD and she puts together another raised bed for them, taking pictures of everything as she plants. A couple months later for her she gets back on the ship and starts going to various planets. Poking her head in a lab in GD she waves her hand. The now dried plants, and bushels appear. Getting on her PADD she sends a file to the server as they fall on everything like starving wolves.

 

Dr. Stark is snickering as Josette turns around and she just rolls her eyes. "How much did you give us?

 

"Plants, all the info I took as I was growing, a quarter of what I picked green. . .both fresh and dried, and a quarter of what I picked ripe, again both fresh and dried." He nods in satisfaction. Selling to the Cafes she puts everything in stasis when she returns home, walking through the tunnel to the dining hall.

 

"Get a lot sold?"

 

"Yeah, the rest is in stasis or hanging on a wall dried." Josette sighs. "The first planet was nice and warm, I spent days out in the sun but. . ."

 

"You weren't goofing off which is what we'd be doing if we were on the first planet, you were planting crops to sell. You had to put together another raised bed for GD's pepper, didn't you?"

 

"Yes, and was looking over the rest of the crops while I was there. I got more cherry trees on the ship, I gotta plant in a couple years. This year I got to let some of my olives turn ripe."

 

"Oil?"

 

"We've got a good supply yet. I had a few bumper years where I turned them into oil and put them in barrels of brine." Josette looks at her PADD then catches the cheesemaker's eye in the front room. "We gotta stuff more olives." He nods. "I'll talk to the others this summer about setting some aside."

 

"Pimentos?"

 

"Yeah, I'll grow some more to stuff the peppers with." Josette yawns. "Oh shit." She says suddenly.

 

"Storm?" Principal Madison asks, grabbing his PADD.

 

"Yeah, coming in tomorrow night and it will dump on us. Dial everything up for six weeks, four weeks of wet heavy snow and two weeks to dig out. Nope, better make it three to dig out. . .give us a little padding."

 

"Fuck." The announcement quickly goes out and people snap into action. It's too late to put batteries in to charge but the large-scale replicator starts making wood for people to stock up on tomorrow. The head of the candle building and her workers head there after their dinners to both bring out their stock for tomorrow and to start making more. Josette splits off a duplicate to head that way. Meanwhile, the power production building is making plans to open up after dinner so people can run in and either charge batteries or have them charged. Everybody's brought at least one extra battery over the last few decades for occasions just like this.

 

The next morning Alan brings out two batteries to charge in the system, in town the candlemaking building opens and people come in to get extra candles. The large-scale replicator is busy with people who couldn't come in last night getting extra wood and the power production building is busy charging batteries.

 

This time the next night everybody is hunkering down in their homes, the animals all under cover and with food for seven weeks dialed up for them. The dining hall is quiet as they double check everything is in place and they just have to survive the next few weeks.

 

"Now this is a blizzard." President Bartlett says as he looks at the wind strength numbers. Everybody nods. "Printers?"

 

"If they have to go over a few weeks next year, they have to go over. No use trying to kill themselves catching up." Josette says, the others nod.

 

"Socks?"

 

"Actually we're a little ahead on the orders, if need be I can replicate." The others nod.

 

"How long will the turbine. . .?"

 

"We figure two weeks, give or take a day. One of us will have to go give it a spin again." Josette checks the data coming from the turbine.

 

The skies are absolutely black when Josette wakes up the next morning, only the time on the PADD telling Josette that she did wake up at her usual time. Listening, she hears Clark, Clark Kent, or Kara flying around to check on everybody. A couple hours later she walks into the dining hall with the others, finding Clark Kent talking with Principal Madison. And the astronomy teacher?

 

"Oh good Josette, can you have the ships look this over?" He sends her a file. "We want to put up a satellite that's going to be full of labs around the suns and. . ."

 

"You want to put it in a place where it won't block the sunlight reaching the planets and yet will get enough power?" Josette asks. Clark Kent nods. "Too close to the planets and we can block out a good chunk of the sunlight like an eclipse but more permanent, too close. . ."

 

"to the sun and you'd fry. Two suns wouldn't mean a total eclipse but you still don't want to look up and see a black . . .thing over one sun." Nods from everybody. Josette sends the file to the ships and by the time breakfast is over she has the information for him.

 

Clark nods in satisfaction when he gets the message. "Josette asked her ships and they had a suggestion on where to put the satellite." He puts it up on the screen in JSA Headquarters on the the ninth planet. There's people from all the other planets gathered to talk about the satellite lab and they look it over. "The ships would be the best. . .we've got the information from Becka's world right, where their ship was located when they made the trip to the sun."

 

"And Josette's ships and the city-ship would be much bigger than the satellite."

 

Nods from the others.

 

"How is Haven?"

 

"Everybody's hunkered down, the storm just blew in last night, we've got four weeks our time before it blows through. This is similar to the storm of the century that the school went through on Earth. Thankfully most people still have good supplies of food on hand. . .if they were running low on something they got it in before the storm blew in."

 

"I am sincerely glad that Josette has enough of a a weather gift to give them a heads-up to get in extra supplies." Charles McNider says as he looks over at the screen showing Haven. . .or rather the buildings that can be seen in the darkness and blowing snow.

 

Two weeks later Josette flies to the turbine and gives it another spin before heading back to the dorm. Brushing off the snow she walks into the dorm and frowns then smiles as she feels more heat coming up from the vents.

 

"The turbine okay?"

 

"Yeah, we should be over this crap when the turbine runs down again. If not one of us will give it a spin again. At least this time we knew the damn storm would be a bad one and stick around all this time."

 

"Instead of the forecasters swearing the damn thing would move out of the system in a couple days. . .in a couple days. . .In a couple days." Alan makes a and so on and so on and so on hand gesture. Ma had came in with Clark who was talking to Doc and she just stares at them. "This happened to you?"

 

"Oh yes, they called it the storm of the century on Earth. . .those of us who actually lived through it called it a something a helluva lot worse. Like now it just hovered over the area and dumped snow on us, by the time it finally blew through. . .over two weeks after the forecasters swore it would be leaving the area we had ten to twenty feet of snow in some areas. . . the school being one of them. From what you'd said this would probably be one of the storms that blows you in at the farm the entire winter?"

 

Ma nods.

 

Clark is listening to the story in Headquarters and he looks at Doc.

 

"Oh yes, we were keeping an eye on the school. The National Guard was bringing out supplies to the school and taking people to warming shelters but that would have been miserable to live through in a shelter." Pat says with a sigh. "Thank god the school had generators. And the dorm's furnace was working." The story of what happened then has him sighing.

 

In the dorm Josette is snickering. "Principal Madison told the students to put their garbage out in front of the dorms. . .it had been piling up and nobody could make it out to the garbage bins. . .even if they weren't buried. It was before we had the replicator, he told the dorms that had the front of the dorm buried to put it outside the tunnel door. After we got the replicators, during a bad storm like that we went around to the dorms and shot the garbage."

 

"What did you do with your garbage?"

 

"Put it in the front room so it was out of sight but not out of mind." David sighs. "Once we got the replicator it was just drop it in the replicator when you get a full bag."

 

Ma nods. Clark hasn't put a replicator up at the farm. . .yet but that would be very convenient. Right now taking in the recycling and garbage gives them an excuse to get away from the farm for a few hours.

 

Everybody heads to the dining hall for lunch and Doc walks up to the front table.

 

"Josette was talking about the storm of the century and having to put the garbage outside the front door or in the tunnels, what was your reaction to finding out about the replicator?"

 

Principal Madison leans back in his chair and chuckles the scene as fresh in his mind as when it had first happened.

 

"I

Chapter 2 by josette grover

“I was working on paperwork when Joyce tapped on the door. . ."

 

//"The kids are up to something." Joyce says, walking into her boss's office. He looks up at her. "David and Josette had been standing at the dumpster between this building and their dorm for at least ten minutes. Or I should say. . .he's standing by the dumpster, she's standing on his shoulders and I can swear I see something in her hand."

 

James sighs. "I'll go see what they're plotting to give me gray hair." He walks out to the dumpster, finding Josette leaning against the edge of the dumpster and whatever is in her hand making a whining sound.

 

"Okay, bring me down." Josette says a few minutes later. "I'm only half through but the gun's reading full." Principal Madison places a hand on her back to hold her in place. Neither of them look upset at being caught at doing something they shouldn't be.

 

"Do I want to know?" Principal Madison asks dryly.

 

"Portable recycling unit, we've been disintegrating garbage for energy to fuel our replicator."

 

"Uh-huh." Principal Madison says slowly. Even for Josette that's out there.

 

"Here Josette, hand it down. I've got an extra crystal in my pocket. We can finish disintegrating the garbage. Save the school the money of taking it to the landfill." Josette hands Principal Madison what was in her hand, he looks at it and then hands it to David.

 

David takes the gun, pulling out the full crystal and sliding it in his other pocket before putting the new one in and handing it up. Josette takes it and 'shoots' the remaining garbage, Jolt stares as the last bag disappears, leaving an empty garbage bin.

 

"Can you do that again?" He asks. If they can empty even just one more dumpster it would be more money for the school.

 

"As soon as we empty the crystals into the replicator." David says as Josette jumps to the ground. Joyce had been watching them and when she saw the now empty bin she calls maintenance to clean it.

 

"That would save the school quite a bit of money." Principal Madison says as he follows them into the dorm. They enter a room and David slides first one crystal, then another in a slot. A humming sound starts and a dial starts moving up slowly. The crystals are spit out and David replaces one in the gun, the second going back in his pocket then grabbing a third.

 

"Anything else you want us to take care of?"

 

"Yes." he says. Motioning for them to follow they walk to the dumpster by the classrooms, Josette again accepts a hand up from David, settling on his shoulders to take care of the garbage. It takes three crystals to empty the dumpster and she sees maintenance coming in to scrub out the garbage bin with disinfectant. Joyce had watched where they were going and sent them when James had given her a high sign.

 

"Can you get the others tomorrow?" Principal Madison asks.

 

"Easily, the replicator takes a hellish amount of energy. . .that's why it was rationed on Star Trek Voyager." David says.//

 

"Even back then it was a couple thousand dollars to have the dumpsters emptied. . .when the school started getting more and more students it would have been triple that." James says, shaking his head as he remembers that day so long ago. Doc should be upset that he'd have thought Josette was up to something. . .if he didn't know his granddaughter. In the back room Josette is snickering herself.

 

A couple weeks later the sky is light when Josette and the others go to breakfast.

 

"Another day?"

 

"Yeah."

 

The next day Josette flies out of a window on the second floor with a shovel to start clearing around the doors after she splits off a dozen duplicates to start clearing off the solar panels at the school and the major buildings in town. This is wet heavy shit, blowing it away won't work. She digs trenches on the roofs until she hits the solar panels and then uses her heat vision.

 

"Josette's up." David says as he comes up from the basement. "The solar panels are charging the batteries and the area around the doors are cleared.

 

"So does the new colony have a winter?" Alan asks the original Josette who had joined them in the dining hall. Her other selves were now clearing the doors and solar panels for the others.

 

"Yep, and the poor babies were wailing about having to warm their homes with dried shit they brought from the other colony dimension. I don't expect many of them to have survived their first winter."

 

"More like any of them to have survived their first winter." Principal Madison drawls in the front room. Josette nods. "Now the trees dimension is somewhat like that, they have limited power in their main building and a 'wash building' like you'd have seen in the old west. The bunkroom didn't have power. . .they had to go to bed by candlelight."

 

"Awwwww." Susan cooes. "Poo' babies."

 

"Yep, they whined about that. But they supposed they'd have to rough it for the oodles and gobs of money they'd be getting from the trees." Josette drawls. "They lowered themselves to accept the electric chainsaws. . .even though they complained they wouldn't cut as much or as fast as theirs."

 

"Morons."

 

"Yep, they were stunned that there were no gas stations." Josette snorts. "They had to cut the trees then drag them to a second clearing to be worked on."

 

"I want to look at the trees later this year."

 

"You and Hank as soon as everybody's dug out." Josette says. Everybody nods. "Thank god for the new snowblowers."

 

"Yep, I'm sure there's more than one house totally blocked in."

 

"Yep." One of Josette's other selves says as she comes into the front room. "Just a heads up, We've got all the homes unburied enough they can open their doors and get out. They'll have to slide over the snowbanks until they meet up with crews." Nods from the others. "At least being able to open doors and see sunlight is making everybody feel a thousand times better. I checked on all the animals, they looked out the cracked open doors and almost seemed to moan." Everybody sniggers. "Everybody's okay in the other continent, it's going to be days to get paths blown out but Clark and Kara can bring them out if they need something. Yes, I know Ma and Pa are old farmers and used to storms that could leave the farm blown in all winter but you still gotta get out sometimes." Nods from the others. "Get out and remind yourself other people actually exist." President Bartlett rumbles, the others nod again.

 

"Is this going to affect the crops this year?"

 

"No, it's still time for even all this . . .stuff to melt before we plant." Josette says in unison in the front and back room. "Any later and it would have been a different story though, either planting a week or two late and having to harvest the last gardens late or even not planting a third time again."

 

"At least everybody would have learned from their lesson and planted full gardens." Professor Druid sighs. Everybody nods.

 

"How's Haven?" Maria asks when Josette slumps into a seat. She hands over her PADD already drawn up to the pictures and Maria moans as she looks at everything.

 

"Yeah, it stopped blowing a couple days ago. . .this would have been a blizzard. The storm of the century."

 

"Yeah, we had one that just dumped. . .Oh hell, your school would have been right in the path of it." Jane sighs. They'd been to Boston on some trip and Josette had driven them out in the middle of nowhere one day, looking at empty land. Calvin had been the first to realize why she looked so quiet for a moment, patting her on the shoulder. "This is where your school was on Earth?"

 

"Yeah, the education center/daycare center, bank, mailbox store, megastore, and dollar store would have been out here." She points at five different spots. "Across the road would have been the college, mall, warehouse store, and multiplex. About where that tree is would have been the main driveway for the school."

 

"Yep, we had one that just dumped on us for a month, the forecasters all kept saying it'd be moving out of the area. . .it'd be moving out of the area. . ."

 

"four or five times before finally saying we have no idea when it's going to leave?" Calvin sighs.

 

"Oh yes, we've been comparing the storms. This time we knew the damn thing would be lingering for a month. . .back then. Wellll, we didn't have replicators to throw garbage in, we just tossed it in a front room until the storm ended and either put it out by the front door or in the tunnel for maintenance to deal with if the front of your building was snowcovered because there was no damn way we'd be getting out. . .even if the dumpsters weren't buried. Unlike this one it wasn't a blizzard but the National Guard was busy delivering supplies to the school and taking people to warming shelters."

 

"That would be a miserable place to wait out a storm."

 

"Yep, we were stuck inside but we were in our rooms, we had heat and food, we could. . .weeelllllll.. .we could get away from each other when we got on each other's last nerve."

 

"Was that the year the flea market. . . ?"

 

"Building in town collapsed. No years before. . .that was a 'normal' winter for after the shit went up in the air, just a lot of snow that lasted forever. It was a few years before we moved to Haven and a few years after that there was snow on the ground year-round in some areas. Professor Eppes had made a joke that it wouldn't melt by July, it was May when the building collapsed and Killingmesoftly was moving snow trying to clear parking spaces for the flea market to open." Josette takes her PADD and finds a picture showing it to the others. Jane moans as she sees the huge snowdrift outside the sliding glass door.

 

"That was our dorm about a week before that happened? Yeah, somewhere around there. It's the picture I sent Doc when I made a comment about being glad to have been on the island for a week between semesters. He asked if it was too cold to do anything. . .I took my computer out since we were on Skype and showed him and Bethany. . ." she waves a hand at the picture.

 

"Are you going to be here for a while?"

 

"Yeah, at least a week. I gotta talk to Marcus about the show, delivering books to Ellis and the retreat house, get information for Maxie on what machines she wants for her new workroom, look and see what I want to have in my new work room. . .do I need to talk to anybody about orders?"

 

"Yes, I know you won't be anywhere ready to start making socks again."

 

"We're a little ahead and I told Dad I'd replicate it if we had to." Calvin nods. "Now. . .our socks?"

 

Josette snorts and waves a hand, bringing out containers. "Being stuck inside for four weeks meant I had a lot of time to make socks and other stuff. Not even going to the ranch was an option since it was socked in there too. I was on the first planet at the time. ..growing food and another pepper for GD."

 

"Anywhere else would have been only a few hours away. . .even the ships."

 

"Yeah. Ohhhh, the dumbasses in the new colony."

 

"Actually managed to survive the winter, they wailed the entire time about the smell of shit or having to wind the generator for the heater but they lived through the winter. They're being made to plant their gardens and learn how to can food for the winter. They'll be planting crops for sale to the other dimension for their supplies."

 

Josette walks into a room in the mansion, looking at the garbage bags full of money and brings out a double handful she puts in her purse. Getting in her vehicle her first stop is to the warehouse store and she fills the back with stuff, then going to the mall. A couple bags of fresh fruit and vegetables is added to the stuff and she puts some money in the container by the register.

 

Six weeks later her time she settles in her usual seat in the dining hall for dinner.

 

"Get everything done you wanted?"

 

"Yeah, I dropped off all the information on machines for Maxie at the Albatross nest, took in the socks and stuff for the school and Eureka, took in my books. .." Josette yawns. "Talked to Marcus. Since that little punk isn't involved in running the gallery anymore we're having my show there. Dumbass is wailing that he's got to work a real job now, his family told him it's his own damn fault. He's done his duty to have a kid, they're raising the girl to make sure she doesn't turn out as stupid as he is, he moved across the country for work and is living in a studio apartment. He tried suing the stupid woman who took the boys night, she tried suing him for not advertising her oh so special show. She's heartbroken. . .absolutely prostrate with grief that nobody is kissing her ass anymore, she lost her spot at the flea market and can't find a 'better' venue to sell her shit." Ooooh la la sounds.

 

"Yeah, she's working too. Ohhh, Granda says everybody survived their first winter in the new colony."

 

"Really?" Professor Druid purrs. "Yeah, though they whined about the smell of shit they were using for heat and to cook over. And having to wind the generator for extra heat. They're planting their gardens, learning how to can, and having to plant commercial crops to sell to the other dimension for their supplies."

 

"Awwwww. . ., poo' babies. They'll have to learn how to cook as well as can." Professor Fletcher laughs at a table. Everybody nods and laughs.

 

Hank arrives at the dorm a couple weeks later and David opens the tesseract to the ship and they walk into the building that is full of trees. "Oh god. . ." Hank moans as he looks at all the trees. "Can we get more?"

 

"Oh yeah," Josette drawls. "Like I told the others, the trees grow like weeds. Legitimate lumber companies give the owners of the dimension a percentage of the money from the trees." Josette says. "I'm going to be getting another load of trees and letting the Amish woodworkers make what they want with them. . .either to sell to the other dimensions or for their homes."

 

Hank nods, he's worked with the Amish woodworkers many times over the years.

 

"This room . . .

 

"Hank, it's the entire building, . .and three more just like it."

 

"Oh dear god."

 

"Yeah, the sawmill will be working for years on all these trees."

 

"Have you worked on any yet?"

 

Josette leads the way to another building, full of wood in various thicknesses and lengths. "The trees are from two different trips. . .so this batch is dry and cut to various lengths while the second batch is still drying."

 

Hank immediately starts looking at the lumber and smiles. "Yes, I remember everything you and the others told me when I cut everything."

 

"Quality over quantity." Alexander says as he starts looking over the lumber.

 

"Exactly. Though I say I have both here." They look around and nod in agreement.

 

Josette yawns as she straightens up from assembling the larger loom she'd brought off the ship, waving a hand as she brings out boxes of thread. Looking at everything she yawns again and decides she'll set it up tomorrow. Shutting off the lights she walks out of the textiles building.

 

She's waved to the front room at dinner by Elaine.

 

"Yes, I put up the loom but I haven't got it set up yet."

 

"We can do that tomorrow." Elaine says. "It's for us anyway. And we still want the other machines." Frances nods firmly. Josette chuckles and looks out the window at the darkening sky.

 

"Is this the last storm for the winter?"

 

"Gods I hope so." Josette had told everybody the day before another bad storm would be coming through and everybody who doesn't live and work at the school was battened down until it blew through. Unlike the earlier one though it would only be two weeks of snow and a week to dig out.

 

"It keeps the water table high anyway." Josette sighs as she walks into the back room. "Anybody read the latest databurst from superhero dimension?"

 

"That fool girl wailing in jail about how she didn't know putting all that shit up bullying a classmate would get her in trouble? Stupid bitch is getting what she deserved." David snorts. "The cons in prison won't put up with her special girl shit and knock the stupidity out of her. She might bleat mental illness but the psychiatrists just said she's a whiny fool trying to get out of being punished for her shit."

 

"About time some of the brats started getting their asses beaten for being stupid." Alexander snorts. "What's the latest on that other girl?"

 

"Bawling her eyes out that her darling Mommy wouldn't have let them be so mean to her but since the little shit murdered her Mommy and Daddy nobody's listening to her shit. The older sister is starting Hamberg in their fall under a full scholarship." Everybody in both rooms clap.

 

"Get up you miserable little brat, I don't care how damn tired you are. . .you're not sitting on your ass all day." The guard snaps. "Get out of your cell and get to work or be dragged out of the cell and get another write-up." Bawling the entire time she shuffles out of her cell and heads to her first job at the prison laundry.

 

"Stupid shit."

 

"Yep, every day she's convinced this will be the day she doesn't have to work, she can sit on her ass doing nothing."

 

"Oh, she'll get that." the warden says firmly as he walks over. "The next write-up she'll be locked in her room twenty-three hours a day for three weeks, her meals coming to her cell. The only time she'll be out is to shower. See how long she'll be happy getting what she wants. Sitting on her ass doing nothing."

 

A week later the dumbass is howling as she realized that getting what she wanted isn't exactly what she wanted. The meals shoved through the door are even smaller than what she'd be getting if she was working and staring at the same four walls is boring. Gods. . .even sitting in a room doing schoolwork would have to be better than this.

 

"Fucking idiot."

 

"Yep."

 

"Think this will be a wake up call for her?"

 

"Nope, she's never going to get it through her damn skull that she's not the goddamn victim. Sounds like her damn Mommy needed a good swift kick. Enabling bitch."

 

"Yep, may she rot in hell. The father too. . .for all that he stopped her misbehaving every once in a while. He could have put his foot down a hell of a lot more often."

 

"Yep. Daniels, quit your damn screeching. I don't care if you don't like being in your room all the time. . .it's called punishment for a reason."

 

"But you're starving me to death." she wails.

 

"We are not, you could live off that blubber for a hundred years without starving, you're eating smaller meals because you're not working. If you work you get more food, you don't work you get less. It's that simple. We want you to lose weight, not gain it."

 

She wails again. How can everybody be so mean to her to make her work and lose weight?

 

"Damn fool. What's the other girl like?"

 

"Got a good head on her shoulders, poor girl basically had to raise herself because the parents kept giving this bitch all her attention. Case in point. . .the girl never went on vacations with the rest of the family, there was no room in the car for her. Fatass there took up the whole back seat."

 

"I'm surprised the back end of the car wasn't dragging on the ground with all that weight back there."

 

On Haven Josette sighs as she shoves the door open after the storm to slide out with the boys who all have shovels to start cleaning the area around the doors and front of the dorm. . .at least enough to bring out the snow blower to clean the path from the front of the dorm to the sidewalk.

 

Pat looks out the front door of the dorm and grins as she sees Josette, tapping on the door and getting her to look up. She walks back inside.

 

"How soon are you going to be done?"

 

"A few more minutes, we're just clearing enough room. . ." David comes out with the snowblower and pushes it out the door, turning it on once he's handed Josette the shovels and shut the door. "for the boys to come out with the snowblower." Pat chuckles. "I need you to move some containers for me."

 

Josette follows Pat into Headquarters and moves five empty containers. Moving them to the ship she looks around. "Nope, I already put together stuff. But I want one of the handcranked knitting machines."

 

Josette chuckles and heads to her studio and brings one out, putting it where Pat shows her and leaves Pat charging the battery pack. Putting more in subspace she walks to the textiles building, Frances and Elaine showing her where to put them.

 

The weather starts getting warmer and soon the piles of snow begin melting. Josette heads off to the ship and starts working on connecting the four containers together into one building, Maxie grinning when she gets the call to come outside and sees the containers have been delivered.

 

"Ohhhh. . ." she heads for the door.

 

"Just the exterior, I haven't worked on the inside yet. The buildings are connected and there's a rough opening for the stairs but that's it so far. I'll put the roof up over the next couple days and make it smaller. I'll paint it then too." Maxie nods. "The first batch of supplies?"

 

"Going to be picking it up in a couple days. That will be the roof, the insulation, flooring, wall panels, windows, and the lights. Talked to Hank and Alexander about your tables?"

 

"Just heading that way when I got the call. This. . ."

 

"Makes it real? Oh yes."

 

Josette returns from the other planets a couple days later, Maxie squealing again as she sees the roof trusses going up over the much smaller building. Grabbing her PADD she sends off her first payment. Josette's not surprised to find a group of the others in the building when she works on the roof, lights going up inside so the insulation panels marked for each wall and precut for the windows go up. A Josette goes in and cuts out the windows with a fingernail, tossing the metal in the recycling bins across town as the wall panels start going up and the windows being put in by some of the men in town. A ladder is put up so they can go up on the second floor once everything is finished on the first floor. Josette comes up and cuts the openings for the windows on the second floor and they get everything set up there. Lights are being installed and the link to the alternate power.

 

"That was quick." Agatha says as she walks through the first floor.

 

"Ohhhh, there's a few things yet to go. . .more lights, the stairs and lift for the second floor. Railings to go around the opening so nobody falls down the stairs. The tables and the shelves and hooks for the walls." Maxie says. "And the stoves of course."

 

"Of course. You'll have to order more wood."

 

"Yep."

 

Josette is busy out at the ranch, setting up the floor and walls for her workroom, putting up the walls up to the second floor then pulling a tarp over it until the rest of the logs for the walls and roof arrives.

 

"Josette, what is going up at . . ." Ma asks a couple days later. Josette grins and pulls up the plans for the cabin workroom.

 

"Oohhhhhhh," she moans.

 

"Let me know if you want one too. The others demanded I put this one up when they saw the plans." Josette sighs. Ma chuckles at the put upon look on Josette's face, she knows she's enjoying every second of it.

 

Marilyn hugs her niece one last time as she looks around her dorm room a few months later. "I wish your parents were here to see you going to university."

 

Natalie snorts. "Please, they wouldn't have wanted to leave Maddy." The last word is sneered. Marilyn hugs her niece again. "Now, I know it's cliche but you're only a phone call away. You'll be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas."

 

"Fuck no we don't owe that little brat a damn cent. She murdered her parents and tried to murder her sister because the goddamn brat doesn't want to fucking stop stuffing her damn face and the psychiatrists are being mean to the stupid bitch because they wanted her to make an effort in losing weight before she could have her stomach stapled. The little brat does not want to lose weight, she wailed the entire time she went to a 'fat farm' that was her first step in the surgery. Moron thinks that she can eat anything she wants after the surgery and it would just melt off." Marilyn scowls as she throttles her phone and wishes it was the neck of the whiny fool bothering her. "The stupid brat tried having her sister's education fund taken away from her because if she pays cash for the surgery, she won't have to talk to the psychologists. . . .they're mean. My idiot brother tried saying if they had to wait for insurance to pay for it. . . it would have been two days later."

 

"But the prison is starving her." He bleats.

 

"They are not starving her, they're not letting her stuff her face all damn day like she wants."

 

"But she can't even buy pop at the commissary."

 

"No, because the doctors are wanting her to lose weight, not drink a damn twelve pack of pop every day. . .and none of that diet crap either. And yes, that's a direct quote from the idiot."

 

"Oh god, she didn't say anything like that. Her schooling?"

 

"The bitch didn't want to go to school. . .or do the work the school sent home with her sister. Now the prison is making her get a GED and she's miserable. She's working three jobs and will be working those jobs the rest of her damn life." She listens some more. "GOOD! The stupid little brat deserves what she's getting. No I'm not going to give you Natalie's number so you can try to bully her into sending that bitch money, leave us alone before I report you to your superiors." She slams the phone down and then sighs.

 

"You okay?" One of her coworkers asks.

 

"Stupid moron who works as an 'advocate' for prisoners is wanting me to send money to Maddy because everybody's being mean to the useless bitch in prison. . .they're starving her because they won't let her eat ten meals a day. They're making her work. . .she can't even buy a pop at the commissary. . .because the doctors want her to lose weight, not because she doesn't have the money. She's being made to work on classes for a GED, the prison punished her by leaving her in her cell for twenty three hours a day for three weeks. . .she found out being in her cell wasn't what she wanted after all. He wanted me to give him Natalie's number so he can 'talk' to her about her sister, more like bully her into sending the brat money. I told him to leave us alone before I reported him to his superiors."

 

"Stupid bastard." Her coworker snorts. "Is she losing weight?"

 

"Yes, but slowly. . .the doctors don't want her to lose it as fast as you'd see on biggest loser and be left with all the stretched skin they'd have to remove. She's lost over forty pounds so far but since the brat weighed nearly seven hundred pounds when she went to prison it will be a while."

 

"Is there anything wrong medically to cause the weight gain?"

 

"Nope, my idiot brother took her to multiple doctors. . .she just ate too much. She's miserable because she's got to sit up or sleep on the floor because the prison won't put a king-sized bed in her cell. Her fat falls on the floor otherwise. The prison is making her take daily showers. . .not only does she stink she's got infections and sores because she couldn't wash. Mommy always helped her wash . . .they had to build a handicapped roll in shower because even with a big shower like you'd see on tv she couldn't get in it. She's got the whole prison shower to wash herself in now."

 

"How's Natalie doing?"

 

"Good, she's settling in well at her school. She's got a full scholarship. . .the woman I talked to said that the publicity was a factor but her grades are excellent. I put money in her account for her monthly for expenses."

 

Josette walks outside the dorm and takes a deep breath of the fresh air, the others joining her a few minutes later.

 

"Well, we know we'll be harvesting offplanet before we harvest here this year." Susan can be heard saying as the group walks into the dining hall.

 

"Yep." Josette says with a sigh. "Are we growing other items in pots again this year?"

 

"Might as well, if this winter is anything like last winter we'll need the green to deal with all the white outside."

 

"Yes, but on the good news side, this should be the last of the bad winters." Josette sighs. "Both weather sections at GD and anybody else who's got the degrees all agree."

 

"Have they started on the satellite?"

 

"Yeah, they're building it in orbit around the ninth planet and should have it done in three years. There's a waiting list of people who want to go up. Dr. Stark is already veto'ing some of them." Almost as if her words has summoned him a glaring Stark and a sighing Fargo walk into the back room.

 

"You knew. . .about Fargo's parentage."

 

"Duh, I've been at how many boring ass meetings with him?" She snorts. "Yo guys, Fargo is Lord Strife's youngest kid, at GD to make sure the explosion of the day aren't worse than they are."

 

"Yes, I was stopping one of those worse explosions when Dr. Stark finally realized what I was doing." Fargo snorts. Josette grins and summons one of her TARDISES.

 

A few minutes later in another dimension Jonathon looks up at the sound from the corner. Henry and Jo are worried but Jonathon recognizes the sound.

 

"Josette." He smiles. Then frowns as the other figure. "Fargo?" Then he blinks and stares at him. "Really?"

 

"Yeah, he's Lord Strife's youngest in our dimension, at GD to keep the explosions of the day from being worse than they are."

 

"Dr. Stark found out and. . ."

 

"He's venting?" He snickers.

 

"Yes, and it didn't help that everybody at the school just went 'yeah, so what' when I announced his parentage and job." Jo can't help it, she's laughing along with Henry. Because they both know the look that must be on Stark's face.

 

"Are you a student at Tesla?"

 

"No, I didn't meet any of you until I was already in my first semester of college. No, my school is a former boarding school. . .it's shut down right now because of a lack of students but most of the school employees still live on the grounds."

 

"Josette lives in the dimension where Eureka colonized their own planet." Henry nods, he's seen the information Jonathon brought back.

 

"Yes, we came up to the sixth planet in the system a year after Eureka settled on the eighth, it made taking classes on the school system easier when we didn't have to worry overly about the time difference."

 

"How is Calvin's dimension doing?"

 

"Good, they just split up classes into separate classrooms in town, the new high school students will start getting more classes so they'll need the room. The classroom would be full by the time they graduated as more students are being born everyday but it will be years before Granda opens his school to boarding students beyond Michelle. . .let alone ours again. Everybody on Haven has other jobs and interests so nobody's too bothered about the school being shut down. Not like Calvin's dimension where people who don't have a damn clue expected students to come flocking to the reopened schools the damn second they started having kids again. Who cares if the schools won't be needed for years, we want them open now. Where's the teachers, don't they need to work on their lesson plans?"

 

"What, they expected women to give birth to five year olds?" Jonathon drawls. Jo winces, that would mean no children at all. . .ever.

 

"Probably. I had to deal with a damn fool who didn't like the school library offering fiction, it would 'warp' the children. . .of course the moron couldn't explain how the public library wouldn't be doing the same thing." She snorts. "Fucking fool didn't want children, he wants robots who don't think for themselves, just do what you tell them."

 

"Started having kids again?" Henry asks.

 

"For some reason their Earth has periods of no children being born. . .they can last twenty, twenty-five, or at the latest twenty-nine years. This last zero-population period was twenty-nine years. Both our schools closed when there were no younger children."

 

"Just so you know, the last year of Josette's school being opened they graduated six thousand students."

 

"Six thousand and two, the year before that we graduated over thirty-five thousand."

 

"Oh dear god. . ."'

 

"Oh yes, I remember when I saw a story about a university graduating on the mall in DC, it was a sea of cap and gowns."

 

"Josette's school offers dual enrollment, by the time the students graduated high school they also had a bachelors degree."

 

"Yeah, a lot of the fools on Calvin's world were crowing that their kids graduated from Oxford in the same time the other one's kids graduated high school."

 

Jonathon rolls his eyes as Jo snorts. "Figures. So you went through GD's continuing education program?"

 

"Yeah, one of my husbands is Dr. Blake's godson and he got us in touch with his godmother when the school we'd been attending went to hell in a handbasket." Jo looks at her and she quietly tells the story, the others shaking their heads or rolling their eyes. "So anyway we started taking classes on the system and never looked back."

 

A couple hours later Haven time Josette arrives back at the dorm, finding Dr. Stark patiently waiting for them. Fargo just gives him a look as they walk to the switching station and finds pure bedlam at GD when they return.

 

"Still don't think I need to be here at GD?" He smirks. "Know what, Dad's been after me to take a vacation. Later!" He grins. . .proving that he is Strife's youngest and leaves.

 

"So where were you?" David asks.

 

"Visited Jonathon for a few days."

 

A few days later the crops start coming in and everybody is busy canning, drying, or otherwise storing everything. Fargo had returned to GD and the lab incidents had dropped dramatically. Fargo sighs at his father's cackling as Larry takes to following him around with what in a cartoon would be stars in his eyes.

 

Stark is still muttering rude words but Fargo's channeling his father and patted him on his head, nearly being deafened by the cackling of his father.

 

"Josette, did you look through the information Jonathon and the others passed along to us?"

 

"Yep, most of it is similar to what you've been working on but some things are different." She sends him the list. "Talked to the Stark there during the lull between explosions and they're working on plans to move dimensions, making the town a link."

 

"Like the other dimensions."

 

"Exactly, Jessy's just got the one growing dimension but Becka and Calvin's got the other dimensions and it's not that hard to adapt plans. Since Calvin's got that scientific dimension and I passed along plans for the alternate power sources. . ."

 

"It will give them a fallback."

 

"Especially if their governments have the same problems as ours and the others."

 

Josette nods. "They moaned at the first batch of supplies that you guys brought up with you but nodded that it would be needed. I know Eureka had truckloads of supplies coming in nearly weekly but you need to learn to make do with what you have if things go to Hell."

 

"Or if they do find a way to way to colonize their own planet."

 

"Yep."

 

"Josette, Calvin's order?" David asks when she comes back from the other dimension.

 

"I replicated about half of what we had made up and took it in. While we could have kept operating business as usual if we lived in a building like on the first planet. . ." The others nod. "We wouldn't want to."

 

"Exactly, while the others keep as much green space as they can in Mom's dimension, there's probably one where it's all those buildings and the train is enclosed in a covered tunnel because of weather, either massive storms or flooding."

 

"Not domes?"

 

"Probably easier that way, you can't dome it if it's all spread out." The others sigh but nod. "No windows, the pressure of the water would blow them in or they'd be covered with insulation to try to keep everything warm."

 

"Pictures everywhere to remind them of what they lost and praying that one day they'll be able to restore their world?"

 

"Or be like that one movie and everybody lives on that damn train that circles around the world since everything's frozen and where you live on the train is your caste?" The others shudder. "Yeah."

 

"Would have been bad enough living under a dome and seeing nothing but snow if you were close enough to the dome to see out."

 

"There'd have been nothing to see, the snow would most likely have covered the dome." Doc's voice says from the doorway of Headquarters. Unbidden is the thought. . .even worse. "Josette, any news on the orders?"

 

"Expected to be increasing this time next year." Josette says. "We'll have the official paperwork by the Lights Festival as well as the first shipment of new machines." Josette sends off a copy of the estimated machines and Alexander winces. "I've already made one table and I can replicate it since I know you two are busy with the show and Maxie's tables."

 

"Thank you Josette."

 

"Once I get the official papers I'll put the second shift jobs up." She stretches and yawns. "The large-scale replicator will be opening after the Harvest Festival and I expect it will stay open through Thanksgiving at the earliest. So people can get double what they normally get in wood so they shouldn't have to get any in before storms.

 

"Yes, everybody knows we'll be having a bad winter again and are making plans. Did you get the second batch of supplies for your cabin workroom?"

 

"Yes, and I'm finishing putting up the walls and roof over the next couple of days." Josette yawns again. "Damn it, rain already." she scowls at the dark sky outside the window. "I'm tired of yawning every damn five minutes." The others but Doc chuckle.

 

Josette waves a hand and the rest of the supplies for Maxie's building appear, the men in town grabbing the parts for the stairs and starting to work. Meanwhile Josette waves the stove up to the second floor and she can hear it being muscled into position. The remaining lights for the first floor are brought out and start to be assembled. Josette grins as she leaves everybody to work.

 

"Get your cabin finished?" Principal Madison asks a few days later.

 

"Just now, including the solar panels and hooking it up to the alternate power at the ranch. I'll turn them on when I get the panels installed."

 

"The cruise?"

 

"Next second month, we'll be glad to get away from the weather." The others nod.

 

Maxie looks around her workroom in satisfaction, it's bare for now. . .the tables will be arriving after the Harvest Festival. Once she's got the tables she'll be filling the workroom with the other supplies when she goes to Ellis's. . .either here on Haven or their next trip to Calvin's dimension. The building isn't empty, she's been moving her books from the house into the shelves here and a rap on the door heralds the arrival of Josette.

 

"Got the hand machines here, where do you want them?"

 

"Knitting machine here, I'll have my yarn on this wall." Maxie says, walking over to an area. Josette grins and waves a hand, bringing out the machine. Frances and Agatha fall upon it. "Quilting machine?"

 

"Upstairs." Josette follows her up and the second machine is brought out, Suzie and Marilyn falling to work on it as Maxie sends a second payment to Josette. Josette grins at her before she flies off and brings out identical machines to her new building, leaving the cardboard on them for now until she can get the wire panels up and connected. Shutting the thick door behind her. . .best to keep the warmth in come winter, she flies back to the school. Checking on the crops she walks into the dorm.

 

"Get everything delivered?"

 

"Yep."

 

"Okay, I know Alex and the others have a quilting machine, but. . ." Susan says.

 

"They brought a knitting machine and loom with them in their supplies when they came up from their Earth." Josette says absently. "Then there's what we picked up when we were harvesting the lost areas."

 

"How is their Earth coming?"

 

"Good, except for the heroes who got hit by something during an adventure there's nobody left on Earth from before the incident. Growth is slow, they don't need to repeat Earth's mistake of getting too big too soon. It's not the 'town' that they'd been talking about before the orphans but it's not major sprawling cities either. Most every building that can have it's own septic unit does, a lot of the plants have to be replaced." Nods from the others. The largest unit would only be handle something as big as the Empire State Building.

 

"Are they still on Mars and the moon?"

 

"Yes, Clark and Kara were out a couple weeks ago to check on everybody."

 

"How is their original world?"

 

"Slowly recovering everything they lost when they sent the orphans away. The old fools who tried to look down their noses on people were given the dirtiest jobs. Which they have to do by hand now since they lost a lot of technology."

 

"I'd say they learned from what happened but that type never do." Pat snorts. The others nod.

 

"Have you been working on the thread?"

 

"Yeah, we have the large spools in various colors. . .including ones we used both plant dyes on."

 

Clark Kent walks through the cabin workroom with the two Ma's and Josette. Even just seeing the bare bones allows them a glimpse of what it will be like when finished.

 

"Are those the hand-cranked machines?"

 

"Yes, cranking them for about ninety minutes on and off will give you two and a half hours on the battery packs. I passed along the schematics to the other dimensions, Superhero Doc replicated three. .. one of which is in use at a prison." The whole story is told and Ma moans. "Little fool, she deserves what she gets then. Not everything she wants. . .but everything she gets. I'm not a doctor and even I know they wouldn't have okayed the surgery without a serious effort at losing weight. And she doesn't want to make an effort."

 

"Yep." Josette sighs. "Her parents basically ignored the older girl as they kissed her ass and they paid the ultimate price for it."

 

"She's an addict."

 

"Yep, food, drugs, alcohol. .. or magic, it doesn't matter if you have that kind of personality and don't watch yourself. Some might say all the land I own on Calvin's Earth, the books, DVDS, or fabric I buy. . ."

 

"People are stupid. You're no more an addict than any other person. Everybody buys or does things because they like it. . .some people take it to extremes. . .they're the people with problems."

 

Josette and the two Ma's look over her plans and Josette grins as she sends a set of plans to Clark. He mouths thank you to her.

 

"You've got solar panels and it's linked to the alternate power?"

 

"Yeah, the next shipment will include the battery packs. I'd add a power box but if the weather's bad. . ."

 

"You won't be out here."

 

"Exactly."

 

"Insulation?"

 

"Yep, I'll caulk the cracks and then put up insulation panels and then the wired panels."

 

"Much easier than having to run wire afterwards."

 

"I understand you're not the only one building a workroom this year?" Ma looks at her.

 

"Nope, Maxie in Albatross is doing the same thing. She's having one like the 9th planet though, shipping containers put together." She sends pictures of the nearly finished project. "She's waiting on the tables and then will start getting in supplies.'

 

"Now, I understand the knitting buildings are going to be offering more jobs?"

 

"Yeah, the orders for Calvin's dimension are going to basically double over the next couple years. We're going to be offering a second shift. We're looking at least at five years of jobs, most likely permanent."

 

"We're in." Both Ma's say in unison. Then look at their son. .. and yes, he's both their son. "It will give us an excuse to get out of the house during the winter."

 

"I'll set up links so you can either come out right at the building or at the dorm. When you want to go home you can just trigger the link, it was how we got around on Earth. Mom's already told us she'd be part of the second shift too. She's saving for something or other, I don't know what but her and Mom, Mom, and Mom have all been in talks." Sniggering at the hangdog look on Josette's face.

 

"Josette, do you have a home theater in your dorm?"

 

"Three, a copy of one I had in my home in another dimension the others didn't come too where I was Hollyweird's darling. A regular movie theater, and a dive-in theater. . .it's a screen by the pool." She says at their looks. "I buy DVDS for all three of them whenever I get in massive batches of DVDS. During the storms last winter they were in use a lot." The others nod.

 

"How's the satellite construction going?"

 

"Good, we're working on sections and putting them in orbit."

 

"Each independent life support systems?"

 

"Yep, and a small growing area beyond the big one. And speaking of growing areas Kara and I will have it finished in a couple months."

 

"We don't need a growing area." Both Ma's say firmly.

 

"Tough." Clark says, Josette turning her head to hide her twitching lips. Once she has her face under control. . .and both Ma's are giving her looks she looks at Clark. "Give me the coordinates when you're done and I'll input them into the units I'm giving Ma, this way they can arrive right in the building and don't have to take a flyer.

 

"Thank you. Make it three though. . ."

 

"The Drake farm? I didn't think he lived out there over the winter."

 

"They don't but this will give Alfred another growing area." Josette nods and sends a note off to David, getting a 'yeah, we'll do that' response. "Okay, once you have it set up, we'll come out and set up the links."

 

"How many links. . .?"

 

"Each unit can hold up to fifty links, we started out with eight links and added more over the years."

 

"Why did you start having the links?"

 

"It was a way to get to Eureka for my tests summers when the others weren't taking classes. This way David didn't have to stop what he was doing and open a tesseract for me. Because the boys were busy working on the construction at the school." The other three nod.

 

"And the girls?"

 

"Back then we were making up packages of sheets and towels for the new dorms. That usually took about six weeks and then we switched to making up supplies for the incoming students for another six weeks." They look at her and she rattles off what they'd be doing, either making everything up or getting books for the students. They shake their heads. "It was good money for the others, I had a check coming in weekly, they didn't while they were going for their degrees. The school checked my hours and cut checks for the others for the same amount. A couple years later Principal Madison gave the jobs over to temp workers, the twins were working at the school as student teachers and Susan had a job at the law office. By then we were getting thousands of new students every year and the job was just too big for us."

 

"Clark." Ma says firmly after Josette has locked up the cabin and flew off.

 

"I already planned on the eight of then coming and getting fresh fruits and veggies, so will the Covingtons." They nod in satisfaction. The flyer lifts off and Clark settles into position next to it. He detours them to an area and they can see the building going up. "The others are helping with the interior parts. I have the feeling it will be a good seven or eight times bigger than it should be when they're done."

 

"Did you enjoy yourself looking over Josette's new building?"

 

"Yes, and I have the feeling Clark will be building two over the next couple of years." Jonathan sighs. He knows they don't need them but he's glad Clark and Kara are taking care of the others. And the others took the pair into their home and hearts just like they did.

 

"I wasn't sure about coming here with the others but. . ."

 

"It's becoming home. And nobody cares that we're not aging, the others are all 'so? Isn't everybody older than they look here?'."

 

"And thank god Josette was there to stop the tractor from falling." Unbidden Jonathan's thoughts fly back to that fateful day.

 

"Noooo." he yells as the tractor tips. Oh god, he didn't want Clark and . . .the tractor stops falling, held in place by a small hand. "Thank you Ka. . ." His voice trails off when he sees it's not his beloved daughter holding the tractor up but Josette.

 

"What happened Pa?" she asks.

 

"The front tire. . ."

 

"Blew. . .yep." She puts the tractor up on solid ground, the mud from recent rain had made the tractor tip when otherwise a blown tire wouldn't have sent the tractor sliding. Taking off the lug nuts once Pa is off the tractor she removes the tire, finding the blown area and fusing the rubber back together with her heat vision. Looking over the tire she shakes her head. "You should replace this."

 

"I'd planned on doing that this winter but. . ."

 

"The best laid plans of mice and men. . .Oh yes, I'm very familiar with old man Murphy and his 'gotcha' moments." Pa nods as Josette blows the tire back up and places it back on. "Okay, can I ask. . .?"

 

"Momma Clarinda was born on a planet called Krypton in her dimension. The kids don't automatically inherit the Kryptonian gifts but there's a serum that will give them to them if at least one parent is Kryptonian."

 

"And you took the serum?"

 

"It was me or my next oldest brother, the others had been captured. He was only in his teens. . .I was already in my thirties."

 

"Best you took it then." He nods. "Wait, at least one parent is Kryptonian? Does this mean. . .?"

 

"Krypton wasn't lost in their dimension. Yup. We were going to tell you sooner or later since Lord Jor-El has learned about Clark and Kara and plans on adopting them into the family just like Momma and I were. As was CJ." Clark and Kara had arrived by then and were staring at her. She rolls her eyes. "Clark, you'll probably be getting teaching disks. CJ and I did, so we can learn everything we'd have learned if we'd either been born on Krypton or like the two of you not been sent off as babies. Kara will be able to brush up on her schooling. . .having your planet be knocked out of orbit and slowly freezing kinda put a damper on your education." Kara giggles despite herself. "You'll probably both get the crystals that do everything so you can either build your own fortresses or make them bigger. CJ had his own and while the crystals can do everything it takes time if you don't have enough of them." Both of them nod. "I've got my own fortress on the first planet, CJ's is in the arctic here because it was in the arctic on his earth."

 

"The first planet is your planet and his is in the arctic because that's what he's used to." Clark says as he lifts Pa into his arms and Josette and Kara fly the tractor to the farm. Martha comes out when she sees the others, staring at a flying Josette. Then slapping herself as she remembers all the times she and Pa thanked Josette for clearing the solar panels.

 

"Yeah, you just 'passed over' the flying and other stuff even though you knew I was doing it." Josette says. "It's not deliberate, it's. . ."

 

"It happens but you can't explain it. When somebody sits down and actually thinks about it it's 'oh yeah'."

 

"Exactly."

 

"Just like when Ma cuts herself and the injury heals within seconds?" Kara says absently then quickly shakes her head. "Damn."

 

"Same thing. Though I don't think there can be only one?"

 

"No, that . . .abomination was got rid of years ago when the people behind it was dealt with. And there's no Highlanders either." Ma had found the tv show and movies and alternately laughed and cussed. "Yes, we can die. . .we just come back except for a few events."

 

"Nobody comes back from having their head cut off. . .or being atomized in a nuclear blast or a planet exploding?" Josette smirks.

 

"Exactly."

 

"There can be only one?"

 

"In our dimension and most of the others there's a series of movies and a spinoff tv show about a group of people who if they have a traumatic death come back to life. They don't age after that, the main character in the movies is a man named Connor MacLeod. The Highlander. The first movie was about a 'prize' the immortals get if they kill each other, being the last one standing. There can be only one is kinda a catchphrase for the battles, when you cut off their heads there's an energy called a quickening that the winner absorbs. There was three more movies and a tv show starring a Duncan MacLeod, a distant kinsman to the first one. . .they call each other cousin and that's that. The fourth movie happened after the end of the tv show and the second and fourth movies should never have been made. The third movie really shouldn't have been made either but it ignores the second movie completely."

 

"The fourth movie because damn near everybody dies?" Ma snorts.

 

"Exactly."

 

Pa shakes his head as his thoughts come back to the present. Ma gives him a smile, she'd been thinking the same thing.

 

The second batch of crops start coming in, they'd managed to make up the time they'd missed being unable to plant the first crops so everything's back on track.

 

"Any word on the colony?" Principal Madison asks in the dining hall one day.

 

"Wailing like hyenas about having to grow and cook their own food. They're too fucking stupid to raise their own animals so they have to buy everything. A dairy is going to be going out in a couple years in both areas." The others nod. "There's a second dimension that's really scrub trees, they're trying to cut them for wood but they don't burn long enough so they still gotta keep warm with crap. But they can cook over it and it is good wood for toilet paper, paper towels. . ." Calvin had come out early to talk with Kara and Clark about the growing building and nods in agreement. "And like the other trees they're renewable."

 

"Do we have any?"

 

"Yep, I took them out to the paper factory and they're falling over themselves. We don't need it right away but this way we'll have it on hand." Josette looks at her PADD. "We don't need to grow cotton for the charmin-style toilet paper for a few years." Principal Madison says calmly.

 

"Nope, we've got a good supply left."

 

"Don't burn long enough compared to our wood or. . ." Doc asks.

 

"Don't burn long enough period. A log the size of one of ours would last. . .two hours?" She looks at Calvin.

 

"If that, it makes it ideal for cooking but impractical for heating. While your wood is denser than normal, that wood is lighter, which makes it easier to make into paper."

 

Josette and the others head out for her show, spending a few weeks in Calvin's dimension. The third city-ship trip had finally been decided on. . .not a trip out to find new planets to colonize like some morons had wanted but a fifteen year trip to investigate Jupiter.

 

"Are they working on ftl?" Doc asks when she comes back.

 

"The scientists and engineers are working on it, but it will be years before they have the capacity in ships. It's not needed right now, they're working on colonizing dimensions when they are working on colonies." The others nod.

 

"Sooooo, somebody's turning the big 170 this year." David purrs.

 

"I wouldn't crow too loudly Methuselah, you're older than I am." Josette snorts. The others chuckle.

 

"Definitely not having as many kids as how old you are anymore." President Bartlett chuckles. She gives him an 'et tu' look.

 

"150 years married."

 

"Yes, and there are still days I wake up and wonder if it was worth it." That makes everybody laugh.

 

Josette comes out after the Harvest Festival with the last of the supplies for the cabin, spraying the caulk on the inside of the logs to seal the cracks before starting to put up the insulation panels. The windows are put in and framed out and Josette nods in satisfaction at her work.

 

Meanwhile another Josette is bringing out the tables for Maxie's workroom, Maxie looking around and nodding in satisfaction when she comes back from the large-scale replicator with the first of three loads of wood for her house and the building. She sends off the last payment and nods in satisfaction. "Now I just need to see how much wood will be needed to keep the building warm and then start getting in supplies."

 

"Oh. . .that reminds me. Send a note to the Albatross Nest, tell everybody to be at either store in a couple days, morning here in Albatross, the afternoon in Town."

 

"Why?" Agatha says giving her a look as she walks into the building and nods in satisfaction. She looks at her heartdaughter and moans when she hears about the fool woman who'd wanted to take over her planet because the government treated everybody the same and she was 'spe-shul'. She moans louder when she sees all the *]shit Josette had picked up.

 

"It would otherwise have been recycled and we can use it." Josette says. Agatha nods vigorously. "Not clothes, it's too light a color but in quilts definitely.

 

"Ohhh, but she was a girly girl and had to wear light pastels and swish her skirt with every step. Who cares if it would show dirt too quickly. . .she wouldn't have to worry about washing it." Josette drawls. Maxie and Agatha snort but nod.

 

By the time she arrives with samples of the fabric everybody knows what's going on and they fall on the fabric. "Definitely too light for everyday use but we can use it in quilts and other stuff." One of the women from Edinborough says.

 

"I'd suggest good outfits if we had a need of them." Josette says. The others nod. "How much do you have?"

 

"Tons. And I mean that literally. Thousands of rolls of fabric. . .each. And each fabric had different weights. Because the whole damn planet would be draped in her colors. That doesn't include the thread, ribbon, lace. . .and other stuff in her colors."

 

"We'll use it. It will be a while, but we'll use it. Oh, we need more fat quarters of the other fabrics."

 

"We can make them on the offworld harvests. And make bolts out of this . . .stuff." Josette nods. The others nod.

 

One of the women slaps her forehead. "Contact the 4th planet, see if any of the communities allow their women to wear these colors."

 

Agatha nods and sends off a message. A representative of the Amish arriving a few minutes later and running into the store. "Oh yes, we'll wear it." She says when she looks at the colors.

 

"Is the second cotton crop ready to pick up?"

 

"I'll pick it up a couple days before the offworld harvests start."

 

They head to Mom's dimension a couple days later for the boys show, returning six weeks later their time.

 

Josette looks at the lean-to attached to the building filled with wood. If she needs to she can just throw a fireball in the stove so she isn't too worried about it lasting the winter. The homes and other buildings that need a steady supply of heat over the winter is first in line for the wood as it comes out of the replicator. Almost as if that had summoned them, Josette hears Clark and Kara flying overhead with wagons full of wood for the Kent farms.

 

Josette grins as she sees Maxie in the group of people waiting for the first offworld harvest. "I got that big building just sitting there, I gotta make money for everything I want to do in it. Not to mention the other stuff. My refrigerator, stove, and hot water heater are all old and on their last legs. I did have to replace the furnace and I'm tapped into the alternate power for the house now too."

 

"Yep, I know when everything goes up at once. We have crews from GD and Sanders come out to look at everything every few years."

 

"Oh yes. . ." David rattles off Josette's lament of everything that could happen, leaving everybody in earshot giggling. The last call goes out, a couple people yelling to hold up and David opens the tesseract, everybody tapping their PADDS to Josette's as they walk through. Josette gives David a hug and kiss before she walks through and he closes the tesseract for an hour, walking to the library to sit until he gets the call to open it again.

 

Josette whistles in his mind an hour later and he opens the tesseract, everybody walking through and heading various directions. Josette starts delivering the food and everybody that had been gathering starts grabbing the containers and head various directions.

 

David and Josette walk to the school, enjoying the fresh air that's going to be turning cold much too soon but this promises to be the last really bad winter for a while. The large-scale replicator has been going every day since the Harvest Festival, wagons being filled with wood for the winter since the probes had already forecast multiple storms. Clark and Kara had been flying off with second loads of wood for the farms. If the weather is as bad a they've forecast one of them will be going out every other week to spin the turbine for unlimited power during the winter.

 

"Ma?" Josette asks at the comm unit a couple hours after they got back to the dorm.

 

"Yes Josette?"

 

"Tell Clark and Kara to expect to go out to Krypton this winter, I just got a message from Momma." She gives her the date and she marks it on her PADD.

 

"Thank you dear, I'll let them know."

 

"Clark?"

 

"Yes Josette?"

 

"Tell CJ we're going to Krypton, Momma just passed along the message." She gives him the date and he marks it on their calendar.

 

"Thank you Josette, if the winter is as bad as they're forecasting I'm sure all of you will enjoy the chance to get away for a while."

 

"Yep."

 

"How are they coming in the growing building?"

 

"The outside is done, the others were. . ." David's lips twitch.

 

"Whomping it up a few degrees?"

 

"Yep. They're getting the mechanicals in over the winter and hope to start growing by the time we're planting next year. When they're closer to being operating, I'll add the links to the tesseract controls. I already told Ma and Ma I'd give them a couple so they can come either to the dorm or right at the building here on the school grounds when the second shift starts." Josette disappears.

 

"Are you goddamn stupid, I don't care if you don't like me being able to protect my land. . .there's no way in hell I'm paying the damages to your vehicle since you were stupid and tried driving on our road. The whole damn area is posted private property, no trespassing."

 

"But I didn't think you'd destroy my car." she wails from the other side of the room.

 

"You had no damn business being on my property in the first place."

 

"But I wanted to talk to you about getting rid of some of your trees. . .they block my view."

 

"You don't live anywhere near us."

 

"Weeeelllllll, no. . .but isn't having so many trees the sign of mental illness?"

 

"No, being a stupid bitch like you and trying to drive on posted private property because you think you're all that is signs of mental illness." her own lawyer snorts. "Now shut the fuck up and grow up, I don't care if you don't like her having so many trees, it's none of your damn business."

 

Dumbass wails as she's tossed in a cell for her 90 days sentence for filing a frivolous lawsuit. After she'd been in the medium security dimension to pay off the fines she'd gotten.

 

"Maybe this will finally convince people that they can't just try to use the court to steal property from the rightful owners." Josette's lawyer says to the other one later that night over drinks.

 

"Is she connected with a tree company?" A court employee who'd been at the bar asks.

 

"Distantly, I'm sure they would have come running to her in thanks for getting all those trees . . .at least she thinks they'd come running to her. They have some damn sense and want nothing to do with the fool. They're on the list of 'good' companies and have a contract to come in and take trees from the other dimension for big lumber companies." Her lawyer says, the other two men nodding in satisfaction.

 

"Get the fuck away from me you miserable old bat." A man yells. "No, you weren't doing it for me, I have a good business and don't need your help* in getting trees. You did it to lord it over me and it blew up in your face. Now get the fuck out of here and don't ever bother my employees again." The dumbass woman runs off wailing and he sighs. "My in-laws second or third cousin. She tried suing a woman for damages when her car was destroyed when she tried driving on a private road. . .all the land was marked private. She wanted her to cut down some of her trees. . .they blocked her view but since she didn't live anywhere near them. . ." Snorts from the employees in earshot. "Yeah, she tried blubbering that isn't having so many trees the sign of mental illness."

 

"No, it means you take care of your land." His second in command snorts. "I know the land you're talking about, the trees are beautiful. . .and crooks like that have been trying to get it for years."

 

"What's the status of the order from the lumber company?"

 

"The government okayed it yesterday, we head off next week. I got the list of who's going out here. I know you don't want Jenkins going because his mother's sick, but he's saving money for a house and he'll only be gone a few hours real time." His second in command says as he hands over a folder. His boss . . .and college roommate nods. "Are you sure about Sampson?"

 

"No, but he's got the skills we'll need."

 

"Do we have all the supplies we'll need?"

 

"He's going with Jenkins to various stores to get in all the supplies the government isn't delivering."

 

"Are we going to have somebody who can cook?"

 

"Yes, that's one of the government employees. He's used to cooking for a large number of people and this is his 'second' job, his first job is a prison cook. We'll meet him and his assistants a couple days before we go."

 

"So he's used to making large amounts of food?"

 

"Yep. The only difference is it's going to be all you can eat and he doesn't have to worry about a fight breaking out in the kitchen."

 

Josette ducks into the dining hall, sliding out of her slicker and hanging it up to drip in containers.

 

"Are the offworld harvests in now?" Principal Madison asks from the front room.

 

"Yes, this was the last one."

 

"Are we going to be able to harvest our crops?" one of the teachers asks.

 

"Yes, this should be the last 'oomph' needed. The rain will end by tomorrow morning and we can start harvesting the day after that. The rain is late. . .hopefully the extra moisture won't cause the tomatoes to crack."

 

"If they did we'll eat them anyway."

 

"Josette, are you making a trip out to Ellis's?" Elaine asks.

 

"Here or there? Yes for here, after Thanksgiving for Maxie and I because we both got new workrooms to kit out. There, probably not for a couple years. The cruise is in a few months. . ." Frances and Elaine nod. "And we'll see how the fund is after that. I'll be going out anyway. . ."

 

"We want a ride to both stores."

 

"I'll let you know when we plan on going."

 

"Thank you."

 

Principal Madison moans at the hit to his wallet, everybody else sniggering.

 

Josette looks over her shoulder at the opening door a couple days after Thanksgiving. The crops had been brought in and the offworld harvests handed out.

 

"Oh dear lord." Pat moans.

 

"This is a copy of the growing building on Mars, not the one Becka's family copied from Warrick and updated, but the larger one they put up on Mars when they went up for all the families." Josette looks over her shoulder. "I didn't add it, they did last time they came up. They're also adding one to the administration building."

 

"Well, it won't go to waste." Doc sighs.

 

"Yep, not this winter." Josette sighs. "They've got experience from bad winters on their earth.

 

"Mars?"

 

"Maybe one bad year every few years, nothing like they saw we were going to be hit with the last couple years." Josette sighs. "Being in contact with Earth all the time they can move to the other planet if things get too. . ."

 

"'Get me the hell out of here' moments?" Susan snorts as she comes into the building. She's not too surprised at finding everything, she'd thought Becka and her grandparents were up to something.

 

"Yup. It's not very often when it's storming on both planets and all you can do is wait it out."

 

"Josette. One, here's the seeds." She waves at the cart beside her. "And two, got a call from Jonathon. He wants a ride so he can bring out his Stark and Blake, Jo Lupo, Fargo, and Henry. . .basically everybody who knows about Eureka being on the 8th planet and that he's a god. . ."

 

"Can come see Eureka for themselves?" Josette grins and splits off a duplicate. "Are they staying here or there?"

 

"Here, I've already put up a new hallway."

 

Jonathon grins as he sees a familiar ship shimmer into view over Eureka. Motioning everybody to stand around him in the middle of the deserted street they're lifted up into the ship and it vanishes as it flies up.

 

"Good day Lady Hanover." Jonathon says, greeting the holographic image waiting on them.

 

"Good day Jonathon, you charmer you." she giggles. Stark rolls his eyes as Dr. Blake giggles. "Josette thought you'd probably want to show off. . .prove we're actually moving offplanet."

 

Jonathon chuckles and they walk to the control room, Josette sitting up and switching the shields so the others can look outside.

 

"You should try it in a bus where you can look out the windows the entire trip." Jonathon chuckles. The others look at her. "Our friend Josette Grover travels by bus, either through dimensions or through space."

 

"Switching dimensions now." Josette says. Everybody who hasn't seen Earth in the middle of an ice age hiss. They lift into space and after seeing space though the window as it were she switches the shields back, leaving the screens showing the view of space around them as she tells them what had happened to Earth. That story takes them up until they land on Haven, David opening the tesseract for them to the school grounds.

 

"Are those. . .dorms?" Dr. Blake asks, looking at the buildings in the distance.

 

"Yes, and yes, each is 75 floors tall. We put together the buildings after the school shut down since we have 54 of them, either 40 or 60 rooms per floor. Six of them are eight dorms put together, the last one is six dorms. It's similar to how we put together the temporary housing."

 

"Think regular college dorms with the toilets and showers at the end of the hall." Jonathon says. Everybody shudders. "Half of the buildings have solar panels, the others just had batteries that everybody took turns taking in to be charged. The batteries handle everything but lights after dark, most of Haven is used to lighting candles after sundown. If it's a tossup between lights and heat. . .they'll take heat."

 

"Can solar panels. . ."

 

"be added to the buildings that don't have them? Oh yes, but people are used to what they have and during winter storms the solar panels wouldn't be charging batteries anyway. Since we usually have a day's warning thanks to Josette's weather magic people take in extra batteries to charge." David says as he walks past.

 

"How do you heat?"

 

"Buildings that came up from Earth have furnaces. . .you still got to be careful not to drain the batteries though. The other buildings have ceramic heaters like you'd find in stores. Run it a couple hours and it would make a room warm enough for sleep. In the houses mothers would bake bread at night and leave the oven and kitchen doors open to let the heat circulate. Now we use the fake wood GD created."

 

"Of course." Dr. Stark sighs. Jonathon looks at him. "It's a fake wood, heavier than real wood and burns a week straight. It can be doused with water and an hour later it is ready to burn again."

 

Josette nods. "A single stick in a chimney pot like you'd find on a patio can keep a four or five room house in the sixties for a week if you leave doors open if you don't have vents. During bad storms they'll add a smaller log to the fire to give off more heat or pedal the exercise bike every building has to charge the batteries once the solar panels stop charging the batteries to run the heater for a couple hours for extra heat, or both. Usually it's keep everything warm for a few hours and try to get some sleep."

 

"And the other buildings?"

 

"Tap into alternate power sources that kick on after the solar panels stop charging batteries and they fall below a certain level or you're going to be doing something that would drain them below that same certain level. GD runs strictly on alternate power, most of the homes run on solar panels then kick over to the alternate power. . .you can't even tell you've switched most of the time."

 

They're in Town and Josette smiles as she sees wagons of recycling being emptied and wood filling them.

 

"You don't have cars?"

 

"No, not unless they were in garages when we came up and even then they were switched to alternate energy years ago. Flyers and wagons are used for large loads, you can go anywhere on the planet in an hour with a flyer and a fully loaded wagon." The cover is tied down over the wagon as the last items are put in the flyer and they both lift off, Fargo whimpering as they quickly move out of sight.

 

"Josette, metallurgy masters?" A man Dr. Stark is stunned to see walks up to them.

 

"Finished the last class this fall and and our Dr. Stark said I got it. It's just a formality since the school didn't come up and I've been doing the work for years." He hugs her and walks off.

 

"You know Doc Savage?" Dr. Stark asks.

 

"Yeah, he's my grandfather." Josette says, looking over her shoulder. "That was Clark, he's one of the four Docs who live on Haven and the other planets permanently or semi-permanently. Clark and the one from this dimension live here on Haven, one from another dimension lives on the 9th planet, and the last lives on the tenth planet. In addition we have five more who come out yearly or nearly every year. Momma's Doc. . .their Sheriff Carter is his son and is a genius too." Jonathon grins. "Doc who's a time lord, Doc from Calvin's dimension, him and my parents are doing. . something or other and don't know if they'll be out for the Lights Festival or not. Superhero Doc, and Headmaster Doc."

 

"Superhero?"

 

"Superheroes exist in their dimension, he leads a group. And headmaster is the principal of a school for mutants and magic users along with his professor Xavier."

 

"This is our power production building, the exercise machines are charging batteries. Most people either work out here a few hours to charge their batteries or pay to have it charged."

 

"Josette, can you bring out stuff from the warehouse?" A woman calls from a store.

 

"Yeah, give me the list and I'll do it before the Lights Festival."

 

"Warehouse?"

 

"You are in for a treat, don't forget to show them the other warehouse." Jonathon chuckles.

 

"I was afraid I wouldn't be able to live like this but you can see the difference in technology between the school and town. And those factories and warehouses. . ." Stark shakes his head.

 

"Haven was meant to be agricultural. As Josette said once, they could bring out a power building and everybody could have unlimited power but they prefer to live life this way."

 

"I can see how the town has grown over the last hundred years." Dr. Blake says as she looks through the book for the first hundred years since Haven's founding.

 

"Yes, not as much as it might have anywhere else but all the construction here has been needed."

 

"Just like Eureka."

 

"Do you always eat meals here in the dining hall?"

 

"Yes, it gives everybody a chance to catch up on what they've been doing or what they plan on doing. Case in point Josette," David points to the screen that shows the front room. "plans on going to one of the outlying businesses with Elaine, Frances, and one of the women from Albatross, the other main settlement on Haven. It's a textiles supplier, one that came up decades years ago from Calvin's dimension when a local government tried taking their land. . .they wanted it for a air force base. . .even though they weren't even in the running. But if they got the air force base it would bring so much business to the area everybody would be happy. Look, you can move into this empty store in . . .ooohh yeah, your business was over a hundred acres."

 

Everybody in the back room snorts. "In the same area we have a 'thread complex', they make thread for us. We also have a rug yarn manufacturer, Josette took a large batch of cotton she grew offplanet and they'll be spinning it into yarn. The threads complex took the batch of cotton she grew last year and turned it into thread for the weavers."

 

"Are they the only suppliers?" Henry asks.

 

"No, we have another supplier complex on Haven and a couple on Archimedes and the fourth planet. Those three came up from our Earth before we lost it and have grown over the years."

 

"Archimedes?"

 

"Yeah, Josette was teasing our Stark their first testing week after they moved to the eighth planet that they still hadn't came up with a name for the planet. when they came up a month later they'd named the planet Archimedes." He looks at the other Eureka natives and snickers. "It fits."

 

"Does the fourth planet have a 'real' name?"

 

"No, neither does the fifth or seventh, ninth, or tenth planets." David says. "None of the others have been interested in officially naming them, it took us decades to come up for a name for Town."

 

"Your town is really named Town?"

 

"Officially it's First Town but we figured we wouldn't need the official name for decades, of course that was around the time Albatross moved up to Haven. And Haven is named Haven because after all the shit that had been happening on Earth. . ."

 

"It was a safe Haven."

 

Jonathon takes them to Archimedes via the switching station and they look around the building. It looks the same but they can see it's bigger. Getting in a couple flyers they fly over the town, Archimedes Stark pointing out new buildings they've put up since they moved.

 

Josette shakes her head when she comes back from Ellis's with a full wagon for Maxie and everything else in subspace. "It's going to snow by nightfall, and it will stick."

 

"We had to expect it."

 

Henry is looking over the adaptions to the farm machines and other equipment, shaking his head. "People on Earth would bitch that 'electric' isn't . . ."

 

"the same quality as gas-driven? Oh yes, they were bellyaching about that in another dimension on Calvin's Earth. Ask him about the tree dimension." Josette snorts. "Meanwhile we've proven that electric works just fine."

 

"Now Jonathon was saying something about a power building. . .and from the way he was talking. . ."

 

"He wasn't talking about the building in town? No, he was talking about this." Josette shows him an edited file and he whistles.

 

"Does it work?"

 

"Yes, Becka's world uses it for their primary source of power thanks to that damn machine. . ." Henry moans at the story and Stark swears. "Jessy. . .about thirty percent of her US uses the boxes thanks to massive failures of the power grid. They're building new sections but it will be decades before they're all linked up."

 

Josette shakes her head as she reads the latest databurst from superhero dimension at dinner.

 

"That stupid woman?"

 

"No, some con artist 'offering' discounted trips to Hawaii. They got to the airport or hotel and found out they didn't have reservations despite all the paperwork or having the actual physical tickets in their hands. They found the people at the hotels and airlines who worked with him but they were . . ."

 

"just middle-men and left holding the bag?" Henry drawls. The others sigh but nod. "For the most part, a woman has been arrested, but because she deliberately brought the tickets so she could 'claim' she won them in a contest and 'give' them to two of her coworkers, because she didn't like the girl. . .tried claiming she didn't respect her mother but since the girl doesn't have a mother and she knows it nobody's buying her story. The rest of the people they worked with claim they had no idea the trips weren't real but since they 'only' managed to get them to the airport less than an hour before the flight, the bag she'd packed had been replaced by one of those 'going to grandma's' bags you see in catalogs for little kids, and her purse with her id and money was 'mysteriously' left in the truck and they drove off waving? Yeah, nobody believes their stories and they've been 'regretfully' let go by management despite all their blubbering that it was just a joke, the purse and real bag would have been rushed in before the flight."

 

"Some damn joke." Fargo says sourly. "That's something the mean girls in school would have pulled. . .except they wouldn't have brought back the purse or real bag."

 

"Yep, everybody in town is talking bad about them now and they're having to do the same jobs they foisted on the other two in other locations. The hotels and airlines are getting bad publicity at not having honored their reservations, their employees did create the paperwork. . .even if they didn't put it in the system. In most cases it was . . .okay, you can stay. . .if you grease my palm."

 

"Figures."

 

"Yep, the people who were saying that are now fired along with the others. The hotels were trying to claim the people who brought the packages could have been in on it and got their asses sued by the victims, one of whom was a young woman who wanted to go to Hawaii before she died of cancer. They quickly tried backpedaling but by then the damage from all the bad publicity was too great.

 

"Way to be assholes people, just admit you had a crook in your system and offer them real discounted hotel packages. . .you'd have come up as the big hero and got a lot of reservations from people who might have gone elsewhere." Jo snorts. The others nod. "Yeah, the poor girl died never having got to Hawaii and the hotel saw a massive drop in reservations, the only people who did come were because they would have lost money if they canceled their reservations. Corporate removed the management and put people with some damn brains in their place, they didn't get moved to other properties. . .they're doing scut work at the hotel and blubbering about how they never should have lost their cushy positions."

 

Laughter and nods of satisfaction.

 

"How much snow do you get?"

 

"Usually a hundred inches during a good winter, it really helps the water table. Because all of us still remember the years of droughts and the damn wildfires in California." Nods from the others. "Now some years we get pretty bad storms coming in from the other direction and those will dump a good ten feet of snow on the area by the time they go through. Thankfully we can get the animals inside and dial up enough food for however long the storm will last and then time to dig out on the automatic feeders in the barns. Now years ago we had a couple bad years where the orbit of the second sun was settling and like wakes from motorboats we got jostled around as we hit that area. That year we had numerous bad storms and we had. . ."

 

"Not quite three hundred inches of snow. And that's not the year we had one last storm come in when we would have been planting." David says. "It wasn't a bad storm but it delayed our planting and while we can harvest a week or so late depending on if we get an early storm, we'd have been harvesting in real winter, that year we only planted twice. Everybody was told to plant full gardens. . ."

 

"But they didn't?" Jo snorts.

 

"Welllll, not everybody. Everybody in the outlying farms, on our continent, and in Albatross planted full gardens. The restaurants planted full gardens, those in towns who came up first and were able to plant their own gardens instead of having a communal garden planted full gardens, but shelves were a little bare come winter and people had to wait on the growing buildings for ripe fruit and veggies when the canned ran out."

 

"Growing buildings?" Dr. Blake asks. Josette passes along the information and she nods. "GD has something similar."

 

"Yeah, both GDs grow year-round, for the most part ours only start planting before Thanksgiving, we try to plant at different times so something is coming up ripe. It helps now that the other planets have commercial gardens and somebody is picking ripe daily."

 

"Much better than the stuff picked green and shipped across the country."

 

"Yep. Our dorm, Headquarters, and any other people who can afford it will have their own growing areas for the winter. Goes back to the bad shit in Earth's atmosphere meaning everybody who could grow something did. . .even if it was just a couple pots because the growing seasons were shorter and the tropical areas couldn't feed everybody."

 

"These last few years have been somewhat bad winters, the first one, last year, and looking at this year will be wet, heavy snow. Last year we got nearly four hundred inches of snow but we had a blizzard come in and just dump on the area for four weeks, and our weeks are nine days long. It took another three weeks to dig out because this is wet heavy shit, shovels won't touch it. Even the snowblowers had to take it a few inches at a time."

 

"Thank god you'd brought out so many new snowblowers last year." Principal Madison says from the front room. The visitors blink. Alan chuckles. "This is common, having somebody in either room interject into a conversation. Usually it's Josette and Principal Madison. . .because there is nothing more powerful than parent hearing." Jonathon and Dr. Blake chuckle but nod. Jonathon already knew that Principal Madison and Professor Druid were Josette's all but official adopted parents, the others had seen the loving interaction between the three over the last couple days.

 

"Are you going out to ninth planet Eureka tomorrow?"

 

"We'd planned on it."

 

"A word of warning then. . . Jo?" Jo looks at Susan. "You're married to Fargo, Zane, and Taggart out there." She just blinks then moans. "Yeah, and you have at last count. .. eight?"

 

"Eleven kids, the oldest a set of triplets born before you came up to the 9th planet. And Jo wasn't looking too happy with her husbands again when I picked up the recycling." The others look at Josette and then lay their heads on the tables and cackle. "Oh, like we're ones to talk. ..we've got 140 kids."

 

Fargo is staring at them this time. "140." Dr. Blake moans.

 

"Eleven sets of twins, fourteen sets of triplets, ten sets of quadruplets, one set of quintuplets, and the rest single births. The Covingtons have a 'thing' in their family, the experts think it's a family mutation but anyway it means multiples pop up more often in the family. And there's the 'new planet gotcha'."

 

"New planet gotcha?"

 

"It's a new planet, in the beginning of a colony there's more births than normal. . .twins being commmon." Jonathon says. "Josette and the others get a double dose some years."

 

"Yes, our births have settled into two cycles, one baby per momma and 'oh shit, we're having how many children'?" Abby snorts. "You met Sarah, Jasmine, and Sebastian Covington-Sanders in Eureka, didn't you?" They nod then blink, looking at first the twins and Alan then David. "Yes, they're our oldest three, we have more there but those three are the ones you'd have been most likely to meet in GD. Once the kids finish their first degree. . ." Abby looks pointedly at Josette who just looks innocent, don't you see the halo over her head? "they generally head to GD on the 8th or 9th planets for internships or Wayne or Stark on the fourth planet for internships. Our youngest batch of kids broke with tradition and stayed here on Haven to work with the Wayne, Dayton, Dayton, or Drake when they came out from Thomas's world. The older kids have 'retired' and moved planets and companies when they got bored."

 

"Yep, everybody goes in a bidding frenzy when our kids are looking for new jobs."

 

"Covington-Sanders?" Dr. Blake looks at them.

 

"We gave all the kids the combined last names because those were the real last names. Josette's mother changed her name when she found out she was pregnant, Susan changed her name when she ran away from home when her father killed her mother and tried to kill her. . ."

 

"And Matthew and Amber are much better parents than my original ones." Susan snorts.

 

"Alexander and Michael are foundlings, the orphanage where they were raised named them."

 

"Yes, they had a set of last names they'd use per year. . .that's why I'm an Addison and Alexander's a Jackson though we were found only a couple weeks apart."

 

"Josette, speaking of jobs?" Professor Druid says from the front room.

 

"Yes, I put the jobs up last night and we're already getting in workers. Ma and Ma, Mom, and Maxie already got positions. Maxie because she's got all that stuff we brought yesterday to pay for and her home's appliances need replacing, Ma, Ma, and Mom want an excuse to be out of the house this winter. I have the controls linked to the dorm and passed them out last night."

 

"First degree?" Stark asks.

 

"Stark, even the most rabid person in Eureka about getting degrees is a piker compared to Josette. Have her show you her diploma and book buildings when we get back to the dorm." Jonathon smirks. Stark glares at him. He hates that look, just like he hates the 'Ohhhh, they're not fucking like bunnies. . .yet' looks from their other selves.

 

Stark blinks and Dr. Blake moans as they see the walls of diplomas. "Each floor is a different dimension. . .this floor is this dimension, the second floor is Clark's. The next floor is Calvin's, then the last floor is Superhero's. That's just one room so far because Josette's only taken classes from one school there."

 

"Then each hallway is a different school?" Fargo asks, looking around.

 

"Yes, each room is a general area. Yes, there's diplomas that seem to be duplicates, they're either from multiple degree sets or they come at the same area from different directions and usually different schools. And yes, Josette graduated with honors from each school." David says with a grin. Josette just snorts. "My gifts make it easy for me, you guys work hard for your grades."

 

"How do you handle diplomas. . .?" Fargo asks.

 

"Every several years GD prints diplomas for employees who finished degrees since the last ceremony. Those schools that came up will have somebody hand out the diplomas, otherwise our Stark makes a huge presentation of it." The others snigger as Josette pulls up the one ceremony and puts it on a wall screen when they're out of the building. Dr. Blake gives her ex a 'yes, that's exactly what you'd do' look as he smirks.

 

"Gift?"

 

"If Josette was in my dimension, I'd have her as my High Priestess in a second." Jonathon smirks.

 

"I absorb knowledge, usually from books. I can download the contents of any book and. . .wellll. . ." Josette puts up images from the server. "I thought I was just a fluke, but in superhero dimension my great-grandma can do the same thing, she says it's a family gift only the girls inherit and even then not everybody inherits it." She waves a hand at her loving mates. "Yeah I know, I'm still a freak of nature." Dr. Blake looks at her but soon sees it's a long-standing joke in the group. "And I am your High Priestess Jonathon, the others made me yours during the first road trip when they realized our areas coincided." Jonathon blinks, looks for the connection, then moans as another necklace becomes visible around Josette's neck before fading away.

 

Jonathon looks up at the ceiling and swears.

 

"Oh please, like King Ares and Lady Aphrodite wouldn't once they decided you were theirs." Josette snorts. The others snigger.

 

"Schools that came up?"

 

"Cambridge and Oxford are on the fourth planet. We've got four universities here on Haven. . .Assyrian is a textiles school, they and Montague both came up with us when we came up to Haven. Montague is a pretty much everything school even before they brought in so many schools that had closed on Earth. We'd been friends with both schools for years, they're in the GD continuing education system and Montague was one of the schools Dr. Blake first brought out to the school to talk to us about our degrees. Balaclava is an agricultural school and came up before we did."

 

"An ag school would be needed on Haven. As would a textiles university. And the fourth?"

 

"Edinborough from Scotland, again a textiles school. They came out a year after we did, along with Hank and his co-workers and Sherlock and his friends."

 

"Sherlock. . .as in Holmes?" Dr. Blake splutters.

 

"Yes. . .think the BBC show Sherlock. That's their current lives. Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade and his group of bunglers as Sherlock refers to them, and Mycroft and his assistant at the time all came up. John works shifts at the medical center and the store, Mrs. Hudson works at the fabric stores. . .They've all got jobs here in town and work on their land."

 

The next morning the group goes to the 9th planet.

 

They walk the streets of the Lights Festival, Josette had gone off to the warehouses to bring out supplies for the stores. The snow had stopped for a couple days for the Lights Festival but there's already piles everywhere. The snow forts are already in use and a dramatic monologue is met by a barrage of snowballs from both sides and a dramatic death scene. Fargo snickers despite himself.

 

"Yeah, the Lights Festival is like that." Susan snickers.

 

"Lights Festival? Grew out of Christmas?"

 

"Yes, because we could have two in a year thanks to the difference in calendars. When the school was open they would go home for both Christmases. They'd also go home after a semester was over so they could see their families and stock up on snack foods and other stuff. They'd go to the auditorium and have their bags examined so they couldn't bring in anything they shouldn't have. Even if they did manage to get stuff through, the other students would tattle on them if they had something they didn't have because they're teenagers. Something that a good bunch of GD employees haven't grown out of." Jonathon and the others laugh and nod. "The Lights Festival is the last day of one year and the first day of the next."

 

"Do you have a planetary government?"

 

"Yes, we hammered out details for that and the planetary laws before we came up. And settlers knew what the laws were before they came up. We only had to deal with one fool kid who hated the fact there was no internet here. . .he couldn't play his damn online games." Fargo snorts as the others roll their eyes. "He kept acting up and got in trouble, the second time he broke a law he was sentenced to six months working forty hours a day on the sorting planet. He thought if he acted up enough his family would go back to Earth. His parents told him if he didn't straighten up he'd be going back to Earth but this was their home. And if he did go back to Earth the vampire council would make him finish getting an education. . .but he'd have to do it with a paper and pencil in front of somebody. . .and have to work to pay back the cost of getting him to Haven and back. He soon straightened up having to work so long and realizing people wouldn't kiss his ass. He apologized to his parents, finished his education, and ended up buying one of the ships that we'd had harvesting the asteroids when the previous owners retired after a few decades of work and the two of us handle any asteroid harvesting the planets need. We might go out once every few years now, unlike back in the beginning when the ships harvested the asteroids and sold the ore to Earth." Jonathon's lips are twitching to beat the band so Stark and Dr. Blake know there's a story there. They give her 'spill' looks and she tells the entire story, everybody nodding and snickering. . .especially at the 'mine it and refine it, can't we just pick it up off the ground' lament.

 

"Planetary government?"

 

"Me, David, my Doc, Principal Madison, and President Bartlett. We meet once a month, next week will be our first meeting of the new year. Most meetings last less than an hour, it's only longer if we're bringing out something. Now next week we'll be talking about the new larger orders for the knitting buildings and how many people are signed up for the second shift. We see each other daily since Doc's Headquarters is linked to the dorm. . ." Dr. Stark nods. He's already looking at linking labs in town that way. "And the rest of us live on the school grounds if it's bad weather we won't even have a meeting that month. Any other time it's like when Sue asked me to pick up stuff for the stores from the warehouse."

 

"Most of the time it's just an excuse to get out of the house." David snorts. Josette sniggers but nods.

 

"Can anybody get on the government?"

 

"Yeah, anybody can join the board if they want to. . .they just don't want to because they don't want the damn headache. The morons in the other dimensions who wail about how we're 'dictators' usually walk off pouting when they realize anybody can get on the board if they want, we're not keeping them under our thumbs." Dr. Blake rolls her eyes. "Because they want to be the ones in charge." Stark snorts. "That's why so many fools try to take over GD and Eureka by telling us what to do."

 

"Yep, Granda and Dad dealt with the morons trying to tell them how to run the school, I deal with the buttholes who want to take over my land. . .it's human nature to see somebody successful and try to tear them down to make them feel better."

 

"Just like it's human nature greedy bastards and crooks join the government to try to lord it over others."

 

"Exactly. Or in the mall's case greedy assholes who could have brought it whine because they see it turning around and making profits and they want to cause trouble for the owners so they can get the mall for themselves. . .now that all the work has been done and all they have to do is rake in the profits."

 

Jonathon snickers but nods.

 

"Hank!" Josette calls.

 

"Yeah?"

 

"In a couple weeks I'm going to be cutting the second trees. Want me to bring them out here for the sawmill or do them on the ship?"

 

"Sawmill, you can bring the trees out so they don't get wet waiting to be cut." He calls. Josette nods. "Are you going out for another batch?"

 

"Yeah."

 

"Last books?"

 

"Will be by the time the snow starts melting next year."

 

"Books?"

 

"I'm an artist as well as writing fiction, the books are quilts. . .I sell them at my shows. The printers are going to be finishing up a batch of twenty-four books next year, it would have been done this year but we had a couple bad storms that had the printing shop closed for nearly two months. I have six books from my old ones yet to debut in Mom and Calvin's dimension. Mom's dimension is. . .'yeah, you're older than you look. . .isn't everybody?'." Fargo sniggers despite himself. "But it's going to be nearly eighty years I've been showing in Calvin's dimension, I had to 'retire' though my fiction is going to be published under a 'house name' with just the head of the publishing house knowing that 'Josette Takahawa is Josette Takahawa, she just lives in another dimension'." Jonathon snickers. "Yes, you know what a bitch it is having to come up with a new identity, in a few decades I'll pull a Highlander and be my own grandkid."

 

"That's why I usually have five or six 'main' identities and several more lesser ones I can decide to become. Because Eureka would probably be the only place somebody not aging normally wouldn't be talked about." Jacar, who'd been coming up behind them, sniggers and nods.

 

They return to Eureka an hour later for the rest of the town but several weeks later for them and they shake their heads. "There's a difference between reading about it. . ."

 

"And actually seeing it. Yes." Jonathon says. He'd talked with James Carstairs Savage when the man had came out with the others, talking over what they'd worked on. . .their personal interests, and dealing with the explosions at GD. Stark and his other selves had been talking about how people had started aging slower as their bodies adjusted to the longer years and how it probably wouldn't happen in another dimension if Calvin and Becka's work dimensions were anything to go by.

 

Calvin and Silas had nodded as they'd joined the conversations, passing along the information on their dimensions.

 

"Get everything delivered?" Principal Madison asks as she slides into her her usual seat at the dining hall.

 

"Yes, one good thing about picking them up in the middle of the night, even in Eureka nobody's going to be wondering where they were for an hour. And they didn't see the ship either. Yes, I know. Nobody would blink in Eureka, they'd figure it was video footage from a lab." David laughs.

 

"Anybody heard about that stupid girl who killed her parents?"

 

"Oh yes, she's still blubbering about having to work. She's too young to get her GED but the local school is allowing her to take her classes at the school, she's wailing about that but the prison is firm. She's. . .I want to say starting the eighth grade in a few months their time. She should be at least a sophomore. Natalie's going to be a sophomore at Hamberg. She's got good grades and has plans for the future. Unlike her sister."

 

"How much weight has she lost?"

 

"Last update was over fifty pounds? Of course she's wailing she's 'wasting' away, the advocates call the prison and when they find out how much the fool girl weighs they ignore her whining letters. She's being starved because they have her on a 1500 calorie when she's working, 1000 when she's not diet. She's been locked in her cell twice more for her attitude problems. The courts are making her work yet another job, this one will be used to put money aside for her funeral. . .the morticians are already saying at her weight she'd need a custom-made casket. . ." Josette's voice trails off and she grabs her PADD, sending off a message to two dimensions. Principal Madison looks at her. "Seeing if there is a way that they could ship the girl and a couple guards to the medium security dimension in Calvin's dimension, making her work for years to pay off her judgments and pay for her funeral. Working that length of time and living on the food pills should make the weight fly off. If she loses it so fast she has the stretched skin left, she can make enough money for the surgery before she goes back to prison."

 

Everybody in earshot grin evilly.

 

A couple days later Josette slides into her usual seat in the meeting room for the first meeting of the year. She's drinking a mug of coffee when the others arrive.

 

"Jobs?"

 

"Everybody started yesterday, we've got ten people working the second shift and can easily hire twenty-five more. I expect more people to take up jobs once the printers are done."

 

"And this winter is over."

 

"True, I expect more jobs to be picked up then."

 

"Are we going to be able to handle the orders . . ."

 

"If we don't get more employees? Easily. I figure on keeping the jobs open ended on both shifts, you just decide what shift you want and come to work." The others nod in satisfaction. "And if the other factories open they can work there then come back if they don't do shifts at both."

 

"Because they would." Principal Madison sighs. "Our 'part-time' jobs pay more than a full-time job on Earth would. And they keep their entire pay. But the payoff for that means no social security, 401ks, pensions, or stock options."

 

The next week Josette heads off to the cabin workroom, lighting a piece of wood in the stove and warming the building with heat vision as she starts working on the interior of the cabin, putting up the last of panels and connecting them before bringing out the towers of batteries and connecting the solar panels, watching them beginning to charge as she looks around the building and then the time.

 

"How are you coming at the cabin?" Principal Madison asks at dinner.

 

"Got the last of the wall panels up and the towers of batteries installed and charging." Josette says with a grin. She shows the picture of before and after and everybody nods. "Putting up the railing for the second floor and the staircase is next, then putting up shelving and hooks."

 

"Tables?" Michael and Alexander ask.

 

"Made them when I finally decided to put this up, they're in the studio for now."

 

"I notice you have a bathroom in there." Frances sniggers.

 

"Yes, I could add them to Maxie's building and the building on the 9th planet but they chose not to have them. I also plan on putting a replicator in and a bedroom." The others snigger. "Frances, Elaine, when do you want to go to Ellis's? I'm going out before the cruise to pick up the order."

 

"No fabric?"

 

"No, the next hot mess seems to have not materialized yet. Or else designers are learning what they think is gods gift to humanity nobody else wants." Josette snorts. "Which probably means there will be two to pick up next time." The others snicker but nod.

 

"Krypton?"

 

"Next week." Josette yawns.

 

"What's the supply of wood?"

 

"Good, the building is full of wood and so's the container I brought out to fill with the wood when we found out how bad the winter would be. This way we shouldn't have to restart it again. I know more than one person is still buying wood, Maxie brought a couple more wagons of wood for her workroom." The others nod.

 

"You?"

 

"My lean-to is full. . .and yes it's expanded." Josette yawns.

 

Several days later Josette and the others fly to Ulonda, settling on the ship as she puts her shields up and lifts off. Several months of intensive training for all of them later they arrive back on Haven, Josette moving containers of stuff from Krypton to various buildings before they all fly off.

 

"CJ?" Clark asks as his son comes in yawning.

 

"All of us sat on the piers on the first planet and soaked up solar energy before we came back to Haven. We were cramming for months on Krypton. There's a difference between cramming on Haven or even Earth and Krypton."

 

"Our bodies are used to the solar radiation from Earth's yellow sun and Haven's white suns. . .living under Krypton's red sun would be like trapped in darkness."

 

"And coming back to Haven is like being pulled from the rubble."

 

Clark and Clark find Josette in her cabin workroom putting the last step of the circular staircase in place.

 

"Are you done now?"

 

"Except for the last few things, putting the hooks where I want them and putting everything up. Need anything?"

 

"To install some of the things we brought back from Krypton. All our hands are too big to hook stuff up."

 

"Okay." She spends the next few days installing everything. Ma and Ma go out to the completed cabin and nod in satisfaction as they go up the stairs and look around.

 

"Now she just needs to bring out the tables and her supplies."

 

"Yes."

 

The second month David opens the tesseract and everybody walks into the ship for the cruise. The Josette who'd been at Ellis's with Frances and Elaine arrives before they take off. Moving everything various places she starts bringing out the rest of the stuff for her workroom and starts putting everything away.

 

Video of Maxie's completed and filled workroom and Josette's cabin workroom are put up on the servers and sent off to Bronwen in Calvin's dimension. She nods in satisfaction at both of them.

 

A couple weeks later Josette adds a link to the growing building Clark and Kara had put up for Ma, Ma, and another device that is handed to Alfred. "I know you probably are already growing all this." Clark says as he walks him through the building. Josette is here since she'll probably be doing most of the picking for the others and can share what she sees.

 

Josette snorts, holds up a hand, and puts a video on the screen. "From Becka's grandparents. This is a copy of the one they put up on Mars when they moved." Alfred sighs and Josette nods. "Yup, and they added one to the administration building for the school. Between these three we'll be able to grow pretty much everything we'll need."

 

"What are you growing right now?"

 

Another list comes up on the screen. The screen splits. "And this is what the school is growing."

 

"Between the three buildings and our own growing areas. . ."

 

"Yeah. Unless it's something basic, I say we tell the others what we're growing so we don't duplicate." Alfred nods. Looking at the darkening sky Clark shakes his head, flying Alfred back to Wayne Manor as Josette flies to the dorm. They'd been expecting a storm and everybody was battened down. David nods as Josette flies in through the door and they walk to the dining hall for dinner.

 

"I told Clark and Alfred about the growing buildings here. we're going to be putting up a list of what we're growing so we don't duplicate unless it's something basic." She tells Professor Druid. The other woman nods. "Are they growing yet?"

 

"Just planted. Since all of us are at different growing stages. . ."

 

"Something should be ripening most all the time."

 

"Yep."

 

Josette pushes the doors open again the snow piling up over the next couple of days, digging out the doors when the sky finally starts clearing out so the boys can come out with the snowblowers. Flying up she clears off the roofs at the school, the solar panels starting to charge the batteries again. Looking towards the other continent she finds Clark and Kara taking care of everything on the farms.

 

Flying out to the ranch she cleans off the solar panels on the buildings, the boys coming out after breakfast to clear paths to the barn and her cabin. Checking on the wood she settles in an easy chair she brought out and looks around, waiting for the muse to jump her.

 

A few days later the knitting buildings are open again and Ma, Ma, and Mom talk as they walk in and sign in. Maxie comes in a few minutes later.

 

"Did you find the refrigerator you wanted?"

 

"Yes, but the kitchen needs work before it can be installed."

 

"Yup, know that feeling all too well." Ma, Ma, and Mom say nearly in unison. "Too big?"

 

"Yes but Hank is building me new cabinets since the ones I have are old and while I can't say they were cheap. . ."

 

"They weren't the quality Hank's work is?"

 

"Exactly, I'll need a water line added for the refrigerator's water in the door feature. While he's working I'm expanding my pantry and having a chest freezer put in so I can make meals up ahead of time and freeze them until needed."

 

Ma, Ma, and Mom nod. Maxie starts putting together boxes as Josette comes in with pallets of yarn, moving pallets of finished products to the ship.

 

"Get everything moved to the ship?" David asks as Josette slides into her seat for the meeting the next day.

 

"Yeah, and brought out more yarn. Okay, I got something to bring up." The others look at her. "Do we see the need for more community gardens or adding more individual garden plots? It's been a few decades since the garden plots were created."

 

"It has. Have we seen the need for more garden space?"

 

"No, but I thought. . ." Josette puts a plan she'd been working on on the screen. "It's about three times the size of a communal garden. We can open it up to a different garden every planting season."

 

"Not right now. . ."

 

"No, but it would be a good step in growing more food."

 

"Canning Jars?"

 

"We've still got a good supply of them and the wine bottles. . even before bringing out any from the ships." Josette says. "The whiners in Granda's world are still bellyaching about having to break up and melt recycled glass. A business popped up that's breaking the glass. . .all they have to do is shovel it out of the containers and put in the melting pot."

 

"Probably still be too much work for the whiners." David snorts.

 

"Yep." Josette drawls. "They're doing good business though."

 

"Yes, because big business is lazy. . .and stupid." President Bartlett drawls. "Are the students in high school yet?"

 

"Started just now, we should be seeing the first graduations end of next year. Michelle already has a short list of schools she's looking at. Calvin introduced the crank knitting machine to the prison where Michelle's mother is being held, she's working another six hours a day to make money."

 

"Did she have to pay for the other kids education?"

 

"Yep, no use favoring one and the others feeling left out just because it was her money the bitch was running through. Her cousin walked into the school one day, hugged the hell out of Michelle, told her it wasn't her fault her mother was a lying, useless bitch and tried paying off her schooling. Michelle refused to take her money, saying she could handle it herself. . .Calvin ended up having her teach classes."

 

Principal Madison snickers despite himself. "She just looked at Michelle and said that if she's anything like her and her father's family. . ."

 

"She's working not because she needs the money, she'd be bored to tears." President Bartlett rumbles. Josette nods.

 

"Orders?"

 

"Due to be increased when the boys go out in a couple months for their show."

 

"Two more years after this one."

 

"Yep, I can't believe it's been nearly eighty years some days."

 

"And other days it feels like nearly eight hundred?" President Bartlett snorts.

 

"Yep."

 

"Books?"

 

"Due to be finished week after next. I can't believe it's nearly spring already. Winter flew by for all that it was miserable for all the damn storms."

 

Josette walks into the Albatross Nest. "Books are due to be finished week after next. Give them an extra week to be checked over."

 

"So three more weeks and I can schedule the last party." Agatha chuckles and checks the calendar, settling on a date and sending out the notice. "Can you come out tomorrow, it's an Amish day."

 

"I'll be here. Do we have enough of the fabric?"

 

"We've got ten bolts in every weight of both colors plus the thread, lace, and ribbons. They'll be at Sue's in the morning and here in the afternoon."

 

"And the yarn store in between."

 

"Yep."

 

Josette is at all three stores the next day, helping cut fabric, bring out bolts and other supplies from the back, measure the remnants, and whatever else needs to be done. The Amish women all smile at them and head off back to the fourth planet and their homes and families.

 

"How was it?"

 

"Good, it's probably the same as when we descend on Ellis's en masse." The others snicker but nod.

 

"Was any of that fabric from the fool woman sold?"

 

"Yes, they have four full bolts and a remnant in the bin." Josette says. "Everybody who had the room took at least one bolt. . .that reminds me." Walking into the front room she talks to Frances and Elaine. Who both nod.

 

"Making bolts of the fabric in the building."

 

"Yeah, I probably have blossoms to pick."

 

"Yarn?"

 

"Should be done in a couple months, we'll dye it in the building this summer." The others nod.

 

Josette shakes her head the next day when she sees all the fabric that needs to be picked. Sending out the call she soon has a half-dozen people coming in the door. "Oh dear lord." Agatha sighs.

 

"Yep. I'll pick and rack, you start bringing out the bolts and start cutting."

 

"Sounds good to me, bring down. . ." Agatha points to three rolls and Josette brings them down. "We'll see about others after we cut these."

 

"Ha. . ." Josette picks the rolls and sees they're ones they're getting low on. Agatha nods in satisfaction as Josette puts them in the openings, there's room for the partial rolls in front and when they're gone the new ones can be pulled into their places.

 

Josette shuts the door behind everybody, flying back to the school.

 

"Get everything done?" Principal Madison asks at dinner.

 

"Yes, we've got a few hundred bolts of fabric put up and I picked more rolls of fabric and yarn." Josette yawns. eeps, then disappears. "God damn retarded whore." She mutters when she returns. Principal Madison looks at her. "Some fool woman trying to get me investigated because I have to be hiding something illegal at the manor by not throwing massive parties to be seen. . .like she would have done." Snorts of disgust from everybody in both rooms. "Yeah, the old fool is wailing because now everybody's talking bad about her, because her Daddy didn't make his money legally back in the day. She's wailing everybody should be talking bad about me. . .not her."

 

"Serves the stupid woman right then." Professor Druid snorts.

 

Josette slides into her seat in the back room and points a fork at David. "I got some stuff from Eureka to look at after dinner." She disappears again and goes off on the stupid woman who comes after her with her nails and getting dragged off by the bailiff.

 

"Stupid bitch! If you don't like people talking bad about you maybe you shouldn't look your damn nose at others because they don't have to be the goddamn center of attention all the time like you do. Some people actually have lives of their own." The man at her own table snickers as Josette goes off on the stupid bitch.

 

"And leave her alone you miserable fool." The judge says icily. "Just because you want to be the center of attention doesn't mean the rest of the world does. Grow up. If people are talking bad about you it's because you're a damn fool."

 

Josette checks on the b and b houses and watches in satisfaction as the stupid woman's family puts her in a home. . .they've had enough of her stupidity.

 

"That stupid bitch." Josette says when she returns back to Haven. "She tried suing me because it's my fault people were talking bad about her." Professor Druid says something scathing that would have had her mother cackling like a hyena while her father sighs. "Oh yes, the judge told the bitch off after she tried coming after me with her nails. . .after I got done telling the stupid bitch if she didn't like people talking bad about her. . .quit looking down her damn nose at everybody."

 

"That's never going to happen." President Bartlett snorts. His wife is frantically nodding because she's laughing too hard to speak. "Yes dear, I know DC was full of them."

 

"So was Hollyweird." Josette snorts. "Her family had enough and put her in a home. I checked on the b and b houses and came home."

 

"How are they doing?"

 

"Very well, most rooms are in use every night except during storms. Dumbass and his brother are wailing because they're not seeing any of the profits from the houses and the renewed businesses. They're huffing they could have done the same thing."

 

"Then why didn't they instead of trying to destroy the land?"

 

"Because they were looking for quick money, not honest money. Their names are mud in the business community and they're wailing. The damn realtors are wailing their lives are over because the government is making them stay with the papers they signed so they can't go after areas of land on Earth. People with brains are snorting and telling them serves them right."

 

"Did dumbass try getting back on the land after being in jail?"

 

"No, he just spent hours wailing by the security barrier that his life was over because all the experts agreed that his plans were pure shit and would never have passed code. And if people were paying the money he wanted for his masterpieces they wanted land to go with it."

 

"But if the houses come with land, we can't sell more houses." Alan mock-bleats. "I know that Calvin would have passed along the plans for a power facility if they had real plans."

 

"Hell, I'd have sold them a building if they had a real plan. Or leased them the building and boxes so I had money coming in monthly. But fucking morons plans are crap. . .they expected people to flock to them but there's no damn way to make money in the dimension. The other dimensions they sell what they grow or whatnot."

 

"Here every planet has a way to make money if they need to."

 

Josette uploads everything to the dorm's server after dinner and walks up to her quilting room where she grabs a quilt and lays the copied notes out, turning them into a real pattern as she works. Pat looks in the room and nods in satisfaction. "Got any more books done?"

 

"No, but I got about eight at the 'one quilt left, then I gotta finish them' stage. By the end of year after next I'll have eighteen ready to start printing."

 

"Then three more years shut and you'll be ready to print the rest."

 

"Yeah. It's going to seem weird not to have a backlog of books to debut in the other dimensions." Josette sighs. "But it's been eighty years."

 

"How are you going to handle books already out?"

 

"Ellis can contact me if they're running low. . .the retreat house can contact Calvin and I'll bring out books. Once we're not doing shows, the demand will drop dramatically." Pat nods.

 

"Show in Superhero dimension?"

 

"In a couple years, probably the year after we stop doing shows in Granda's dimension. Pat's looking at a place that can sell my books there." Pat nods.

 

Josette disappears and reappears a few seconds later. Sighing she looks at Pat and waves her to come along. "David, I need a tesseract to Jamestown." Once on the ship Josette splits off duplicates that fly to Quetzatlan and Vallejo.

 

"Oh dear lord." Pat moans as they land on a planet. Jamestown sends off a signal and container after container after container are loaded into buildings and onto the piers.

 

"What is all this?"

 

"Fabric, lace, ribbon, thread. . .stuff that would otherwise have been destroyed." Josette sighs. "And this isn't our only stop."

 

"Dear god. . .how much?" Pat asks when she sees there's no end to the containers in sight.

 

"Tons, literally. Think that one world where dumbass had all the factories making stuff but planets."

 

"Why?"

 

"People are fucking stupid?"

 

"I'd say so."

 

"This isn't our only stop."

 

A couple hundred years later Josette taps on the door of the Kent farm, Pa opening the door and Josette bringing bags out on the table and counters. Ma blinks and moans as she takes a bite of a ripe fresh peach.

 

"I was called offworld to a number of places . . .one of which was the planet that grows extra food to donate."

 

"Grow an extra row. . .we always did it on Earth." Pa says. Josette nods. "I picked up tons, I already delivered containers of food to the other planets, this is your share. I know Clark added a stasis room to the house for you." Pa nods and opens a door, Josette waving the bags into the room. "Tell me if you want any of this . . .stuff." Josette sends Ma a file and she moans. "Yeah, that was my first stop. I've got buildings full of little boxes that are in turn full of shipping containers. The recyclers couldn't touch this. . .planets that were nothing but recyclers couldn't make a dent in this. Not when they were dealing with other recycling." Nods from both Kents. "I'm seeing if Bronwen wants some of this shit. . .it's all stuff that can be made on Earth so. . ." Ma nods.

 

Alfred is moaning over the bags as they're split between the manor and the compound. This late in the winter the food is either already picked or not yet ripe. Josette passes along the file and Alfred sighs, Thomas and Bruce moan, and the boys just shake their heads as they empty bags.

 

Agatha, Sue, and the others shake their heads and cuss at the pictures of everything. "Yeah, I know." Josette snorts. "Earth wasn't the only planet to make stuff just to make stuff."

 

Josette slides into her usual seat at the government building. "Okay, got a question for you."

 

The others look at Josette. "Is there any interest in expanding the offworld coffee plantations?"

 

Principal Madison makes a 'hmmm' sound and brings up the files. "It's been a few years. Are the tea plantations growing?"

 

"Yes, they usually add a new row or two of plants every few years. Both to replace bushes that have died off and to expand it."

 

"Are you going off?"

 

"Yeah, I'm going to be attending a few expos in Calvin's dimension and bringing out another load of trees. Or two. . ."

 

"Or three?" Doc asks dryly.

 

"Granda's been in talks with the Amish woodworkers to buy furniture and sell it at the school along with quilts and stuff." The others nod in satisfaction, it's good money for the Amish.

 

Bronwen moans as she sees the file of everything Josette sends her. "Ohhh yes, a planet full of recyclers couldn't handle all that. I have the feeling every damn factory on multiple planets was working decades for all this crap."

 

"Probably. . .though I'd say more like centuries." Bronwen sighs. "I don't need any right now but I will later this year." She nods and heads off.

 

Josette returns to Haven several weeks later her time. "Okay, went to the expos, did a little shopping. . .people with some damn sense are working on malls and other properties to bring in businesses."

 

"About damn time." President Bartlett rumbles. "That's why Calvin's mall took off, he did a lot of work. . .had a lot of events. . ."

 

"Actually did something to bring in customers and stores." Josette snorts. "Cynic in me says the zero-population period was just an excuse for them not to work to bring in businesses."

 

"Yes, because we've been doing it for years." Principal Madison snorts. "Are people still whining about you being able to keep your land?"

 

"Of fucking course." Josette snorts. "Some stupid bitch with a car full of stuff she 'claimed' wasn't what it was tried getting on the land to talk to me. . .she's in prison for the rest of her life because she's got a history of 'talking' to people who ended up dead after she left." President Bartlett snorts. "She in turn turned on the people who hired her. . .surprise surprise it was the damn realtors and that fool asshole with the house designs. If I left them my land they weren't stealing it, were they? Of course they're trying to claim they have no idea what she's talking about but nobody believes them. She's got too much proof. They're going to be going away for years. . .and not to club fed."

 

"Need to weed a few dozen idiots out." Principal Madison says sourly.

 

"More like a few million idiots." Josette says before opening a bottle of Haven Dew, drinking some and covering her mouth as a rumbling belch comes out. "Ohhhh, I talked to Granda who heard from Superhero Doc. . .The girl is being sent to the medium security dimension out there to pay off her funeral bill and whatnot. As big as she is the morticians told the prison she'll probably need two burial plots. Once she's out of the medium security dimension they'll know for sure. The prison also wants her to put money away in a fund. . ."

 

"She gets a certain amount of money for the commissary every week or every other week?" Josette nods. "Because no matter what how much the bleeding heart advocates blubber, neither her sister or her aunt are going to send her money. Even then. . .she still will be kept on a strict diet and won't be able to buy all the shit she wants at the commissary."

 

"No use losing all that weight just to let the fool girl put it back on again. Because she's the type of user who would go right back to her bad behavior."

 

"Yep. . .the fool doesn't want to admit she's the problem."

 

Josette chuckles nastily. "Hell would be surrounded by all the food she wants but being unable to eat."

 

Nods from the others.

 

Maddy wails as she is shoved into a room barely big enough to turn around in. . .even here she has to sleep on the floor. She thought this would be better than the prison, yes she's got to work but she's out of that cell. A large collar is around her neck and if she steps out of line she'll be getting a massive electrical jolt.

 

Seven centuries later for her she's led out of the work dimension, blubbering as she's led back into the prison and to her cell where new prison uniforms are waiting for her. "Get dressed and get to work Daniels."

 

A large file is sent to her Aunt's e-mail and after making sure it's nothing bad she opens the file and laughs. "Natalie, your sister was sent off to the medium security dimension, she spent centuries there to pay for her funeral. She's actually thin now. . ."

 

"And absolutely miserable?" Natalie snorts. She looks at the pictures. "Oh dear god, I don't think I've ever seen Maddy weigh less than four hundred pounds."

 

"Neither have I. . .she won't need a special-made casket and be buried in two graves now." Marilyn snorts. "I'm sure the doctors are happy with her weight loss."

 

"And she's miserable about it. Serves the little shit right." Natalie snorts. She walks back to the table set up in her aunt's office and settles back to work on the 'stuff' she'd been working on to earn the paycheck she's getting from her grandparents company.

 

Josette laughs and shows off the before and after pictures of the fool girl to the others who shake their heads. "That fool girl would have died in her twenties of a heart attack or stroke." Dr. Hazlitt sighs. Doc nods.

 

"Yep, the doctors gave her a clean bill of health and she's miserable because now she realizes she's got sixty to seventy years of working two or three jobs behind bars and still having to finish school. No early retirement for her, the only way the prison would make her stop working was if she was really badly hurt, had a major medical event, or death."

 

"Serves the little brat right."

 

"Oh yes, and she can't use her weight against the other prisoners now. . .she could have suffocated people in her fat folds. . .now she's getting her ass beaten by the others and wailing about how can people be so mean to her. . .not realizing . . .or caring this is what she put the older girl through."

 

"Of course not, thinking about other people would make her a grown-up, she's a stupid selfish brat."

 

Professor Druid is looking off into space. "Katrina?"

 

"I'm wondering if she wasn't like the Blob."

 

"What. . .a mutant? Possible, because she was getting around pretty well even with all that weight." Principal Madison actually thinks a moment. "I don't know what health problems she had aside from sores and infections. . .but actually bathing took care of that."

 

"And anybody else weighing that much would be bedridden." Dr. Hazlitt says. "Once the prison made her be active instead of letting her sit on her ass all day she was walking around without getting out of breath. . unlike when her parents let her sit on her ass all day."

 

"Which is another tick in the 'she might be a mutant' slot. But losing all that weight is a tick in the 'she's not a mutant' slot."

 

"Yes, I remember Josette telling us about a comic where most mutants lost their powers and he was one of them, having to have surgery to remove all the stretched skin left over from his weight loss."

 

Josette walks onto Quetzatlan with Agatha, Sue, Frances, Elaine, and Pat, bringing out a box and then three containers, sorting out stuff with them and moving stuff into subspace. Josette delivers everything and takes her own batches to both her workrooms.

 

"How was it?" Principal Madison asks at he finds them opening containers in the textiles room.

 

"If all the boxes in the buildings are as full as the one Josette opened for us and if each container is as full . . .they must have been making stuff for centuries." Frances says. Elaine nods. "I don't know what Josette plans on doing with all the containers. She's got hundreds of thousands of boxes and each box holds. . ."

 

"a shitload of containers?"

 

"Exactly."

 

"Josette, the containers?"

 

"I could drop them back off to be recycled on the planets or do it myself. Probably the second because it will take us just as long to empty them as it probably took them to fill them in the first place."

 

"Have you thought that . . ."

 

"Humanity is fucking stupid everywhere and I'm nothing more than the cosmic garbage man? Oh yes. But even garbage has it's uses." Josette sighs. "We should be able to plant in a couple weeks."

 

Everybody nods.

 

A couple weeks later true to her words Josette tills the manure under and a couple days later plants the fields and garden. Alfred looks at the list of materials he needs and sends it off, Josette grinning and taking him off to the ship. He looks over all the fabrics and other materials, filling the wagon. He looks at some more almost longingly. Josette chuckles. "I can put anything else you want in subspace. And we got room in the wagon yet."

 

Alfred gets several more items and she takes the wagon and flyer back to Wayne Manor, the boys unloading everything under Alfred's calm gaze as Josette flies off. Over the next couple of days others contact Josette about picking some stuff up, Ma and the others on the 9th planet smiling at the new workrooms. Pat shakes her head at Doc's assertion that they could put one up for her on the 10th planet, telling him she didn't need one. . .yet.

 

"Neither did I but now look at me." Josette snorts as she flies back to the dorm and moving everything to the 10th planet for Pat.

 

"Is the new growing building. . ."

 

"Things are ripening everyday." Josette says. "which is nice considering everybody's running low on the canned food from this winter." Josette leans against the open window and takes a deep lungful of fresh air.

 

"Josette, Doc wants you in Superhero dimension." David yells.

 

"Huh, wonder what's up?"

 

"Anything important?" They ask when she comes back.

 

"Special fundraiser for alumna from Hamberg. I spent a few days in Vegas after the party." The others snigger at the smirk on her face. "I showed off the stuff I picked up from the other planets, they agree that humanity is stupid no matter what and that I won't go through all that for centuries. They really didn't want to agree that I'm a cosmic garbageman but. . ." Josette shrugs. "It has to be done. Ohhhh, Mara's a Kryptonian god."

 

The others blink and laugh. "Well, now you know why you inheriting the family gifts was more important than it seemed."

 

"Yeah, my family. . ." She shakes her head.

 

Josette leans back in her chair, Abby snorting as she keeps the chair from falling over backwards until she straightens up. "What plans do we have for this summer? Besides the boys show in a couple months."

 

"Nothing much, how are you on degrees?"

 

"Finished the Metallurgy masters last year along with a degree on plane wrecks from the Naval Academy. This year I should be finishing the degree on subs in war. . .one of them anyway. Starting the last degree on the Titanic. I'm going to be three out of twelve degrees on the comic code hoopla, right now . . ." Josette 'looks' to the course catalog in her mind. "I should have one or two more degrees about companies that went out before we get to the actual nitty gritty about the code."

 

Josette guffaws a few days later, looking at the front room from where she'd been eating and looking over the latest databursts.

 

"The morons who were trying to tell us how to run Haven are coming out of hiding on Granda's world. . .trying to tell the colony dimension they need cars, cell phones, all the buildings need to be torn down. . .some fool doesn't like how they farm. . ."

 

"Oh dear lord."

 

"Yeah. . .the colonists are telling them to shove it up their ass, their colony has been going *how* long without all that shit? Morons are trying to get them declared incompetent so *they* can take over the colony and run it the way they want. They ran off wailing when their case was thrown out of court and they were told to grow up."

 

"And the other area?"

 

"Wailing about how hard life is on a colony. . .they don't wike having to cook and heat their homes with shit." The others lips twitch. "It's a long hike from the outhouse to the house. . .why do they have to cook their own food, where's the little people who will cook and clean for them? The first winter was a fluke, I expect to see some deaths this year. . .they told people to get in extra supplies because this was going to be a bad winter. . ."

 

"And they didn't."

 

"No, no doubt last year they spent the whole winter wailing about how hard life was and only got up when they had to add another shit brick to the fire or get something to eat."

 

"Wailing about having to grow their own food?"

 

"Oh dear god yes, nobody grows their own food anymore."

 

"Bullcrap, even on Calvin's Earth there were many families with gardens."

 

"Yep, they wailed that weren't community gardens just for show? People actually ate food grown in the ground?"

 

Moans from the others.

 

"Well we all know there's morons who can't believe food doesn't magically appear at the factory." Professor Parker snorts. The others nod.

 

The next couple databursts find the morons wailing to anybody they can that they need all those things in the colony dimension and getting ignored like the morons they are. They finally walk off pouting after proclaiming they're going to build their own colony. . .a better colony.

 

"Don't those morons ever learn?" David sighs.

 

"Nope. So many fools think they need all this crap."

 

Ma shakes her head as she finds Clark and Kara installing something in a room. A room that hadn't been part of the farm. Josette is outside bringing stuff out of a container.

 

"Whoa. . ." she says when the replicator immediately starts humming at full power.

 

"Yours weren't full power immediately?" Kara asks.

 

"No, even with the solar panels and shooting garbage it took a few months before it reached the replicate anything level. you could tell the difference when the alternate power was installed and it had a steady source of power."

 

Kara grins at a small box.

 

"Hhhhhoooooo-kay, maybe I'll get around to bringing one of mine out then." Josette sighs. "I'd been planning on adding a bedroom and replicator to the cabin workroom."

 

"I'm still taking in the recycling, it's another excuse to get out of the house."

 

"And if you're like us, you can fill a bag every other week? Just as easy to toss it in the replicator here as it is in town."

 

"About three weeks for all that there's two of us."

 

Both Ma's are flew out to the ships, going through the containers. They shake their heads when they realize just how much stuff Josette must have brought back. They fill the wagons and Clark and Kara fly them back to their homes.

 

"Okay, we've tabled this before. . ." Josette says at the next government meeting. "Factory for animal food."

 

"We don't need one. . ." President Bartlett says slowly, the others nodding. "We can replicate bags at the large-scale replicator just as easily."

 

Josette nods. "Or bring it in among the other supplies." The others nod. "Okay, we'll table it again. Okay, the growing area in the administration building?"

 

"Going well. . ." Principal Madison's voice trails off as Josette disappears.

 

"God damn retarded sacks of shit." Josette is swearing when she returns. "Some asswipes who didn't get arrested in the attempt to steal my land decided to get drunk and stupider and swore that since they couldn't have my land I shouldn't be able to either."

 

"Oh dear lord." President Bartlett sighs. "Yep, drunk and stupider decided to start a fire. . .all my trees and whatnot would be burned up since fire trucks couldn't get on the land to put out the fire. That would show me. Unfortunately for dumbassholes, the shields stopped the fire and they couldn't get it put out when it turned around. They're wailing in the medium security dimension to pay for all the damages for the fire stations and everybody whose land or buildings were damaged or destroyed. Then they're going to be going to prison for the rest of their lives. Because their little fit destroyed over one hundred fifty thousand acres, eight thousand homes because entire towns were wiped out, and killed a hundred twenty-five people when busses that were full of evacuees was overrun by the fire. And they've still got a list of missing people that they don't expect to find alive." Josette shakes her head. "A bunch of them had just voted to dissolve their fire stations they shared with others because they didn't think they needed them, this proves they made a mistake in that. . .if they'd had the fire stations, they might have been able to save some of the homes."

 

"Serves them right then." Principal Madison snorts. "Yes, the morons are still wailing that only that evil person who wouldn't kiss their asses land should have been destroyed. They didn't mean to hurt anybody else." Josette rubs her eyes, mock boohoohooing. "Oh David, there's a massive update coming for the computers from Granda's dimension, he's going to have it ready for us when we go out in a couple days for the boys show."

 

"Anything interesting?"

 

"A lot of books about the goddamn whining nonsense of fools like these. I expect more books after this nonsense. Sosh and other degrees. A shitload of new degrees from the comic book school. . .sosh degrees. One of 'actual things that happened in the comics'. They're talking about stuff like concentration camps, HIV, AIDS, child abuse, spouse abuse, alcoholism, mental illness. . ."

 

"What were you mumbling about the other night?"

 

"I found out the degrees I was taking are just the tip of the damn iceberg. Case in point. . .plane crashes. . .it's not four or five degrees. . .it's fifteen. The more. . .intensive ones were hidden on the servers until I got to a certain spot." Sniggering from everybody but Doc, his lips are twitching. "The degree on concentration camps is 21 degrees, there's about five degrees talking about each kind then individual degrees on more famous camps. And yes, that includes prisoner of war camps but no, I don't think it includes Hogan's Heroes." David is snickering.

 

They head out for the show. Josette settles in to sign the books and the talk between the art is aaaalllllll about the asshats whining in jail that they shouldn't be punished for being drunk and stupid and trying to destroy property because people would kiss their asses.

 

"But everybody's talking bad about me." One of them blubbers in a 'court' hearing in the medium security dimension.

 

"And you deserve it you little shit."

 

"But why aren't you punishing her? It was her shields that sent the fire off in other directions."

 

"And it was you setting the fire in the first place that caused the shield to send it off in other directions."

 

Chapter 3 by josette grover

 

"Well, when you put it that way." he huffs, crossing his arms over his chest and scowling.

 

"When it's put any way you're the damn cause of the fire you little fucking fool." His own advocate snorts. "Grow the hell up you stupid little sack of shit. . .you started the damn fire because you couldn't get what you wanted . . .her land."

 

"But the guards and other prisoners are yelling at me."

 

"Good, you deserve to be yelled at you stupid little moron. Your little temper tantrum murdered over a hundred people that we know of. . .if their families got hold of you they'd tear you limb from limb."

 

"But she should. . ." His head rocks from the punch from his own advocate.

 

"GROW THE HELL UP YOU STUPID LITTLE SACK OF SHIT! SHE DOESN'T OWE ANYBODY A GODDAMN THING. YOU'RE THE GODDAMN ASSHOLE WHO STARTED THE FUCKING FIRE. . .NOT HER!" The prisoner judge yells as he's dragged off by the guards.

 

Josette returns to Haven, alerting Joyce and the others to turn on computers and replicators so the update can start downloading. "How long?"

 

"At least three days. It's a massive update, including a lot of books that aren't part of degrees. . .yet."

 

"How are dumbasses settling in the medium security dimension?" Amanda asks in the front room later that night.

 

"They're not. . .the guards and other prisoners are yelling at them. They shouldn't have to work to pay for all the damages. . .it was my shields that caused the fire to spread out."

 

"Morons." Principal Madison snorts.

 

"Oh yes, morons can't get over the fact they're actually going to be punished for their shit. Dumbfucks don't realize they're safe in the medium security dimension. . .if the families of the people killed or the people that lost their homes got hold of them. . ."

 

"Yeah but thinking of that would make them grownups." David snorts. "And with some people that will never happen." The others nod in both rooms.

 

After the update Josette and David finish the classes they'd planned on taking that semester before the crops start coming in. Everybody's busy canning, drying, or otherwise storing the food for later and they nod in satisfaction when everything's in and the new crops planted.

 

Josette slides into her seat at the meeting room. "I gotta go to Granda's after the meeting, dumbfucks are trying to sue me for damages from the fire they started. . .because they're miserable bastards. I have to be punished for not kissing their asses. . .who cares if they started the fire to try to burn me out. . .it was my shields that caused the fire to spread. . .ignoring the fact there'd be no fire to spread if they hadn't set it."

 

"Of course they won't think about that." President Bartlett snorts.

 

The man who'd tried rushing Josette screams when she puts a leg between his and hits him hard in a tender area. She knocks the stupidity out of the others rushing at her until the guards take them out with tasers.

 

"God damn retarded sacks of shit. . .what the hell did you think you were doing?" They're asked the following day as they're facing more charges.

 

"But it was her fault the fire spread. . .why won't anybody listen to us?" they wail.

 

"Because it's NOT her fault you retarded sacks of shit, YOU started the damn fire because you couldn't steal the land away from her."

 

"But it's not fair!" They wail as they're quickly found guilty and sentenced to more time in the medium security dimension. "Why won't anybody listen to us?"

 

"Because you're stupid little shits who should have been drowned at birth. Useless wretches. You didn't get what you wanted and you don't think you should be punished for what you did."

 

Josette returns to Haven a few days later Earth time.

 

"The dumbasses tried attacking me when the courts found in my favor, the morons are facing more time in the medium security dimension and have another judgment to pay off. Dumb fuckers are wailing why are they being punished, it was my shields that made the fire spread out."

 

"Of course if the asshats hadn't tried to burn your land because if they couldn't have it nobody should the fucking fire would never have happened?" President Bartlett drawls.

 

"Oh that's beside the point, my shield spread the fire so it was my fault. Morons are the useless sort that if they drove drunk and . . .oohhh, hit a building they'd sue the damn building for daring to be there."

 

"People like that should be beaten to death so their stupidity doesn't breed." Professor Eppes snorts. The others nod.

 

"The other prisoners are certainly trying their hardest. . .and once they're in prison I expect the others to kick their asses ten times a day for the rest of their miserable lives."

 

"How's Dad's school?"

 

"Ohhhh, idiots are trying to take over . . .again. How can Granda take something so inconsequential as grades into consideration for attending school there?" Everybody snorts. "Colleges are gearing back up as students graduate high school." The others nod.

 

"Idiots who think they're all that are trying to shove their opinions down everybody else's throats and pout when they don't get what they want."

 

"Yes, how can we lord it over everybody that our son got into this top-notch school when they won't accept him because he's a useless oik who can't be bothered to try to get good grades. Meanwhile a good student whose parents are poor might be accepted. It's not fair." Josette puts her hands on her head and mock wails. Everybody in both rooms snort. "So much for humanity learning from the zero-population periods."

 

"Never going to happen, humanity is still a beast." Dr. Hazlitt drawls. Everybody nods.

 

In Superhero Doc's dimension Maddy wails as she looks at herself in a mirror. How can she live being so thin? It's. . .it's just not right.

 

"Shut up Daniels and get to work, I don't care how damn miserable you are. . .you're not sitting on your ass feeding your face so you're as fat as you were before."

 

"But I can't live like this."

 

"Oh bullcrap, plenty of people live like this for decades. You're just a lazy cow who's whining because you had to lose weight and you're a miserable excuse for a human being."

 

"But I'm thin. . .and you still won't let me eat everything I want."

 

"No moron, because you're being punished."

 

At Hamberg Natalie snorts as she reads the letter from the prison. One of the pursers is looking at her. "My idiot sister is wailing that she was sent to the medium security dimension to make enough money to pay for her custom-made casket and two plots since the moron weighed over six hundred pounds. She's miserable because she was made to lose over five hundred pounds. . .Maddy is now a normal weight for the first time in her life and she's pouting. . .they're making her work three jobs at the prison, work on finishing school. . she should be a sophomore in high school and she's in the eighth grade because. . ."

 

"she don't wanna take classes?" Her suite mate snorts, checking her own mail.

 

"Yep, she's lost all that weight and the prison still won't let her eat all she wants. Because they want the weight to stay off and she wants to be as fat as a tick and sit on her ass having everybody wait on her hand and foot for the rest of her life. The prison told Aunt Marilyn she just wailed at having to get a damn shower daily because the doctors were disgusted at her sores and infections. . .and her stench. Mommy always helped her to bathe. She doesn't have a king-size bed in her cell. . .she had to either sleep sitting up or lay on the floor because her fat fell over the side of the concrete and pad."

 

"Stupid little brat."

 

"Yep. She's blubbering the other prisoners are being mean to her now. . .she can't use her weight against them. . .she could have suffocated somebody in her fat."

 

"Oh dear god, no I'm not going to be on Dr. Phil because that little shit doesn't want to take responsibility for her own damn actions." Natalie snorts on a phone call later that night. "That stupid brat is in prison because she killed our parents and tried to kill me. I don't fucking care if it's Dr. Phil. . .I'm not goddamn interested. No, he can't fucking turn her life around. . .dumbass doesn't want to turn her life around. She wants to sit on her ass all day and have everybody wait on her hand and foot. You think I'm bitter? Well screw you, you fucking whore. Since you're too goddamn stupid to believe me, talk to the prison and my aunt. Or do you think they're biased too? Fucking idiot."

 

"But I was sure they'd want to come. . .who doesn't want to be on Dr. Phil? So what if she's in the middle of her university classes. . .her sister is the only person that. . ." A woman blubbers as she's told off by her boss.

 

"Her sister is not the only person that matters." Somebody says icily.

 

"But they made her lose weight and pay for her own casket and burial plot." she wails.

 

"The stupid brat weighed over six hundred pounds, she would have needed a special casket and two graves."

 

"Ohhhhh, I didn't know that." she mumbles. "Then keeping her from buying pop at the commissary. . .?"

 

"is because the doctors wanted her to lose weight, not sit on her ass all day having everybody wait on her."

 

"But they stared at her while she showered."

 

"Because the stupid brat smelled and had infections and sores because she didn't want to bathe. They made sure she actually showered. . .the little brat just stood there blubbering about how Mommy always helped her bathe."

 

"Ohhhh, I didn't know that. And having to sleep on the floor?"

 

"Do you really think at six hundred pounds she could sleep on a cement block and pad in the cell? Moron was wailing because her fat fell over the side when she laid down, it was either sleep on the floor or sitting up. Now that she's lost all that weight she can sleep on the pad."

 

"But not allowing her to buy pop at the commissary?"

 

"Because first they wanted her to take the weight off and now they want her to keep the weight off. The fool girl drank a damn 12 pack of pop a day, and not that diet crap to quote her. she lost over a hundred pounds at a fat camp in preparation for the weight loss surgery but she gained it all back and more besides. She didn't want to make an effort to lose the weight. . .because it would have meant she couldn't eat all she wanted whenever she wanted."

 

"Oooohhhhhh. . ."

 

"Yeah. . .ooooohhhhhhh. Now leave them alone. The little brat has been using advocates to try to get what she wants ever since she went to prison, when they learn the truth they drop her case. She's miserable because she's thin and still can't everything she wants, she's working three jobs, and she's being forced to work on her education."

 

Josette slides into her usual seat at the dining hall. The others look at her, she hadn't been at the dorm when they got up that morning.

 

"Got a call from the 9th planet, they're wanting to enlarge the work building now that they've seen Maxie's." She says at their looks. Nods from everybody and they settle back to their meals.

 

"Can you add to it?" President Bartlett asks.

 

"Easily, it all depends on how many floors they want. Heaters and stoves do a good job of keeping the buildings warm." Nods from the others. "In the worse weather they wouldn't be out there anyway."

 

Nods from the others.

 

After the next few days Josette works on three different plans. . .including everything they'd need for the addition and if they wanted to add a bathroom and mini-kitchen to the workroom. Sending the file off at the end of the week she leans back in her desk chair with her hands behind her head and her feet up on the desk.

 

"Are you taking a break from the stuff for the show?"

 

"Yeah and cussing idiots out in the media and court. The whiners who tried to burn down the land are wailing to anybody who will listen. . .and it's not many that they shouldn't have to pay to off all these judgments. Why won't anybody listen that I'm the damn cause of the fire. . .if I hadn't had the shield over the land the fire wouldn't have spread."

 

"Bullshit." David snorts.

 

"Oh yes, they're trying to say I'm a crook but since a google search will see I'm a successful author and artist. . . they're absolutely sick over the bad publicity they're getting."

 

"Are they in prison?"

 

"They will be by the Harvest Festival. And absolutely miserable because the cons will either be beating them for causing the fire or beating them for getting arrested and not being out so they can try to take the land away from me again." Josette snorts. "Because I'm coming across as the innocent victim and they're coming off as greedy bastards who if they can't have my land I shouldn't have it either. My name and face are on all the charities helping the victims and they're pouting."

 

"Assholes." David says. Josette nods. "To add insult to injury the money they 'hid' to keep the courts from taking everything and giving it to me. . .magically disappeared."

 

"D'awwww." David coos. "So they're broke?"

 

"Yep, they were whining about having public defenders, 'real' attorneys would have got them off but since I had video proof of them setting the fire. . .and the one asswipe who was pissing on the shield is wailing because he got burned there and they cut it off."

 

"D'awwwww." Anna cooes from the doorway as David winces. "couldn't have happened to a nicer asshole."

 

"Yeah, and since it's not a medically necessary surgery, no reconstruction surgery at the taxpayer's expense."

 

"He'll know why the toilet seat stays down." Abby chuckles. "Is it just their money . ."

 

"It's aaaaalllllll their money, what they didn't throw away on the realtor dimension. Which I got as damages too."

 

"Why?"

 

"Because the court didn't wike the idea of them trying to kill me for my land? Richard and the others are turning it into a number of plantations, coffee, cacao, bananas, plantains. . . making it a profitable venture."

 

"Something the asswipes will be wailing about since there's not a casino, mall, or hotel in sight." Pat snorts behind them. "Josette, did you send off the plans?"

 

"Yep." She sends a copy of it to Pat's PADD and she nods in thanks as she starts looking. "Could you add a furnace to the buildings?"

 

"I've been thinking about it, a thermostat would keep the furnace from running all the time, but there's the problem of having to run vents."

 

"Unless you put them in the floor first. . ."

 

"Yeah but then you have the step up unless you had a basement under the building." Josette grabs her PADD again and starts drawing again. Pat chuckles and heads off along with the others.

 

The next day Josette puts the new plans on the server before she rolls up her sleeves and starts opening containers of yarn for the others dyeing in the building.

 

"Okay, you said you and Pat went three places, the first was all that. . .stuff." Agatha says, looking at her.

 

"Yep." Josette looks to her since Pat is busy measuring dye.

 

"And the food was the second. . .the fleeces?"

 

"Yep, they're on the ships since we don't need them yet. We've got plenty of yarn and thread. The only thing that we'd need them for is somebody wanted to spin their own yarn."

 

"Yes."

 

"Okay, start a list of who wants them and I'll bring them out after the Harvest Festival." Josette looks at the yarn. "How many more containers of yarn?"

 

Agatha looks at the numbers. "Five more containers should do for today. If we need more we'll do another batch."

 

The second crops are coming in as the last of the yarn is either put up for sale or put away in various rooms as payment for their work. Josette drops into her seat at dinner one night and closes her eyes, Abby chuckling and feeding her until she's forced to open her eyes and feed herself to stop her making airplane noises.

 

"Are all the crops in?" President Bartlett asks Professor Druid.

 

"Yes, the yearly crops are next. Josette's just tired because she was in the 'realtor' dimension overseeing the planting of the plantations." Professor Druid puts up the plans on the screen and everybody nods in satisfaction. "Dumbasses are no doubt wailing about the dimension being used for something beyond malls, hotels, casinos, and grandiose homes."

 

"Yep." Josette sighs in the back room. "I have everything planted and should be seeing a profit in a couple years." Josette yawns.

 

"Are dumbasses in the prison system now?" David asks a couple weeks later when the others start coming out for the Harvest Festival."

 

"Yes," Calvin sighs. "They don't know whether to be glad about getting out of the medium security dimension or be upset because they're going to prison . . .where the others are waiting to hurt them." The others snicker at the look Calvin is giving Josette. Michelle and an older woman is with them and they're looking around. . .stunned.

 

"Josette, is Jonathon coming back out with the others?"

 

"Yeah, Josette Grover was picking them up so they could see what the difference was traveling to Haven by my ship and her bus."

 

Jonathon and his 'posse' arrive a couple hours later. Jonathon is chuckling at the look on Fargo's face, he'd told them there was a shield around the bus but it still had been a hairy trip for the young man. Jo had sat in a seat and firmly refused to look out the window while Henry, Stark, and Allison has been busy asking questions.

 

They look at the tables during the Harvest Festival and see people from every planet there.

 

"Carnival?"

 

"We bring it out during the Harvest Festival, the fourth planet uses it for their celebration. Otherwise we make trips out to the third planet and the parks there. When the school was open we had yearly visits out for the students."

 

"Think Disney Parks. And no long lines. Robotic characters and food replicators in restaurants.

 

"Does everybody show up?"

 

"Pretty much, the temporary housing dorms will be used. . .people from the other planets will stay there instead of going home so they don't miss something. Each table will have new stuff brought out each day."

 

"These remind me of the old state fairs."

 

"Yes, but without the deep fried crap you see there."

 

"And people blubber they have good diets and shouldn't have to take insulin, statins, or other drugs." Josette snorts. "Or like that stupid girl in superhero's dimension who didn't want to lose all that weight."

 

"Ohhh, she lost it then?" Jonathon asks.

 

"Yes, she went to the medium security dimension and is miserable because she's thin. The prison is mean. . .they won't let her eat everything she she wants now. . .because they want her to keep the weight off. The other prisoners are being mean to her. . .she can't use her weight against them because she could have suffocated somebody in her fat folds." Dr. Blake looks at her but moans when she sees a picture of the girl in question. "Didn't her family do anything to stop her?"

 

"Her parents were enablers, she killed them for her father daring to allow his older daughter to keep the education fund her grandfather had created for her. She wanted it for stomach stapling. . .because if she had the surgery she could eat anything she wanted and the fat would magically melt off."

 

"Bullshit." Stark snorts. "Yeah, she'd already been to a fat farm for the first part of losing the weight and she hated it. . .they made her diet and exercise. The psychologists were mean, they wanted her to make an effort to lose the weight, she lost a hundred pounds at the farm and had already gained all of it back. The judge called him a damn fool because he bleated she needed the surgery. . .if she waited until insurance would pay for it it, it would have been two days later. He realized he had an older daughter in high school who would need the money for her education. Her aunt. . .his sister, was put on the money so he couldn't steal it anyway and he went home. She had a fit. ..if she had to wait for insurance to pay for it she'd have to talk to psychologists for their okay for the surgery. If she paid cash she wouldn't have to talk to those monsters, would she? Didn't paying cash count for anything anymore?"

 

Behind Josette various versions of Professor Xavier, Peter Venkman, and Dr. Samson snort. "She wouldn't have been allowed to have the surgery if she wasn't making an effort to lose weight."

 

"Exactly, and I've heard stories about people who kept eating the way they were before and the stomach pouch expanded so the surgery was pretty much useless."

 

"Biggest Loser." Jonathon snorts.

 

"That show is a damn menace." Calvin snorts. "If you don't exercise multiple hours a day to keep the weight off. . ."

 

"Yes, there was a contestant who gained the weight right back in my first dimension." I snort as I walk over. "The other show was a lot better, it took place over a whole year and after the first ninety days they were back home and had to make conscious choices and changes to their lifestyles." Nods of agreement from the others. "Is she still blubbering about having to shower every day?"

 

"Yes, because she smells and doesn't care. The weight loss got rid of the fat folds where she had infections and sores. Some fool from Dr. Phil's office wailed about the guards watching her shower but when they learned she wouldn't otherwise they were 'ooohh'." Superhero Alice snorts as she walks over. "she's blubbering because the prison won't let her buy pop at the commissary, when the advocates learned she drank a 12-pack a day. . .and not that diet crap either. . .and yes, that's a direct quote they realized she didn't need it."

 

"No wonder she was so heavy."

 

"That and her mommy had to make two meals every night so they could have something to eat, she ate it all. The prison is limiting her to one tray of food at a meal. . .fifteen hundred calories a day if she's working and a thousand if she's sitting on her ass in her cell as punishment. And yes it is punishment, she wanted to sit on her ass all day instead of work but being in that cell 23 hours a day. . ."

 

"It's not what she wanted." Jessy snorts. "Is her prison like the one my Mom was in and the commissary was full of bath salts, nail products. . .? Or like that one fool girl who's wailing she can't afford a tv, blu-ray DVD player, or even DVDS. . . Why won't Daddy put money on the books for her. He still can't be mad at her, can he?"

 

"I wouldn't be the least bit surprised." Superhero Alice snorts. "Because there's fools out there who don't think that women in prison should be made to feel like they. . ."

 

"they're being punished? Yep, that was why the commissary at my mom's prison had all that bath shit even though they didn't have tubs, only showers. Because we don't want them to feel like they're being punished. . .we want them to think of it as a vacation." Jessy drawls. Everybody in earshot snorts. "They did have to draw the line at taking down the walls outside the prison, the women might walk away otherwise."

 

Rolling eyes. "Yeah, that's why I had containers of stuff we brought back from my Mom's cell after her death. . .and that was with the other prisoners taking some of that crap when they apologized to me for what my mother had done. After the others at the house took what they wanted I donated the rest to homeless shelters in Miami. . .I still had three containers of bath stuff that they couldn't use."

 

"Oh Jessy, look this over and see if you want any?" Josette sends her the file of stuff she'd picked up.

 

"Oh dear god . . .where the hell?" They walk off talking. Stark looks at Jonathon. "Her mother? Since you seem to know her story?"

 

"Murdered her father when she was not quite sixteen. . .trying to put the blame on her since she'd only get a few years in a juvenile facility. He was killed in California at seven and she didn't arrive in Chicago until ten."

 

"Isn't that. . ."

 

"the same time? Yes." Jonathon snorts. "When the police in Chicago told her what had happened, she told them about the house's security system that caught her mother and her lover in the act of murdering Jessy's father. She tried to say Jessy had done it for the money. . .she inherited a hundred million when her father died. . .she had inherited fifty billion only a few days before that when her grandparents died. Her father might have been disowned, but she inherited the whole kit and kaboodle. Her godfather ended up taking her in, she'd have aged out of the foster care system in a few months and she had RA, a double blow against finding a good home. Jessy owns and operates a seamstress building."

 

Calvin nods in satisfaction. "So she can use some of that stuff Josette picked up. Her mother?"

 

"Died in an accident when Jessy was several weeks from turning 23, she spent all those years in prison wailing that Jessy would only have got a few years in a juvenile facility and would already be out, she got life. . .her manicure is ruined. And yes, that was a direct quote."

 

"Ohhh lord, one of those fool women. And like Hell she'd have only got juvenile for a few years." Alice snorts. "That's why that fool girl got life."

 

"Exactly. Jessy says she wailed forever about being put on a budget by the prison, like that girl she had money but the prison would only give her forty dollars every other week." Alice nods. "She was forever trying to get Jessy to send her money. . .she escaped once and Jessy drove up to the gate surrounding their land and immediately backed up when she recognized her wailing. She tried suing her daughter repeatedly to come visit her weekly and put money on the books for her. So what if Mom's in prison in California and she lives in Florida. . .she's her Mommy."

 

"Worthless fool." Superhero Pat snorts behind Alice.

 

"Yes, Jessy has brains and has doubled both inheritances and. . ."

 

"Is well on the way to doubling them again?" Pat smirks.

 

"Yep, her seamstress shop gets a lot of business from prom and graduation outfits in the area and she has multiple orders with Hollywood designers, she routinely makes over a million dollars in profits for their group every year." Pat and Paddy grin and walk off to talk to her.

 

"Their group?"

 

"Like the schools, they have a few businesses under one umbrella."

 

"Okay, you are being very quiet about what they do do."

 

Jonathon's lips twitch. "They run a sex club. You gotta be a member or the guest of a member to get in. They're all vetted, Jessy said some fools in Congress were wailing that they wouldn't put up a club in DC. Not like the fools could have passed the tests to be members. There's a monthly membership fee to get into the public areas, if you want a fantasy session it's extra. Everybody has an account that they put money in for their membership, many of the members also have jobs at the club with that money going into the account."

 

"Or for other uses." Jessy says as she walks back over. "One of our members was using the money he got from his second job to pay for his new car, he had to buy a new one because the dealership's service department kept swearing up, down, and sideways his car could be fixed. . .then kept putting off the date it would be fixed. About the third time they were supposed to have fixed it they finally admitted it couldn't be fixed, he had to buy a new one with the remainder of his loan for the other car tacked onto that one. It was a big mess on the news, the head of the service department and an insurance adjuster were in on it together."

 

"And since the insurance had been paid to fix the car, there was nothing for him." a voice sighs.

 

"Yep, the people were arrested and he can sue to get back the insurance payout but. . ."

 

"He's not the only one who had this happen to him?"

 

"Exactly. Rupert paid off the car for him so he wasn't paying interest for years and he's paying him back out of the check. . .and paying it off if the government ever pulls their thumb out and pays the lab damages for trying to shut it down."

 

"Figures."

 

"Oh that was nothing compared. . ." the story about the nonsense at the other labs is told and people sigh or swear. "Petty politicking at it's best." Superhero Alice snorts. Everybody nods.

 

"Is. . .does. . ."

 

"No, Jessy is one of the nearly half the employees that don't actually see members for fantasies."

 

"You don't seem too upset."

 

"I take it your Eureka doesn't have a huge honking sex shop under the town?" Josette asks. "Ours does on the 8th planet. . .but the 9th planet doesn't."

 

"We don't, but I know Sheriff Carter has one." Jonathon says.

 

"Yep," I say as I come through. "I visited with Greta. Jo, can I borrow you for a bit? Sorry if I seem a little too familiar, you're mine and Greta's older sister in our dimension."

 

"Really?" Jonathon purrs.

 

"Yeah, you moved to Eureka to get the hell away from the family." Jonathon cackles. "I see that didn't go over too well?"

 

"Nope, when one of our brothers found her we descended on the town, brought the old McGuire farm out town and arrived just in time for a group of employees with paint ball guns to descend on the house. they were a little upset when Buck and I started shooting back at them. With live ammo." Greta smirks. Jo can't help it, she laughs at the smirk on her face. "That was my introduction to the insanity that's Eureka. . .of course our Stark was sulking because I work for Dayton, their 'biggest competition'."

 

I snort. "You're the boss's oldest daughter and is going to end up running the business some day along with Gar." Thomas stares at them, his Dayton had Garfield Logan. . .he didn't have a daughter. . .and from what they just said more than one.

 

"Not if I can run fast enough." Greta snorts. Jo's chuckling despite herself.

 

"Stark was sulking?" Jonathon asks, laughing at the look that must have been on his face when the pod arrived. The flying motorcycles has him moaning, the snowing outside town and three suns has him sighing but nodding. And the assertion from Jo. . .as passed along by Greta that Eureka and GD has nothing on her family making him laugh and nod. Jo looks at him, then the teen girls, and back again. . .the penny dropping. "Yeah, Jonathon would be one of our older brothers. Our oldest brother is actually Steven Dayton, Greta's adoptive father." I smirk. "So anyway, we're sorting through some of the guns and ammo that Josette picked up from various lost worlds."

 

"Please." Josette waves a hand. "We don't need it and I didn't do more than sort out the stuff that was really bad." The three head off to Greta's comment that Steve is just as much Josette's father as he is hers and Jo's loud yelp of Jocasta?

 

"Oh dear god." Jo moans at the box I open, the containers of ammo shooting out of it.

 

"Lady Hanover, is there a way to tell if any of this is expired on their worlds?"

 

"Unfortunately not," a female voice sighs.

 

"Okay then we'll start sorting by the dates on the boxes, shooting the oldest if the date is already passed on our worlds?"

 

"Shooting?"

 

"Replicator, it will separate everything into crystals so they can be remade as needed." Lady Hanover says. "I have a shooting range in another building if you want to see if the ammunition is still good."

 

"Yeah, we can do that." Jo looks at Greta. "I'm fully qualified to shoot, the family made damn sure of that." Jo looks at me. "Nope, I can't hit the broad side of a barn. . .much to the dismay of the family. I'd be better off throwing the damn gun at them as I run like Hell. Not that I can run that damn fast."

 

"But she swings a damn mean bat when she has to." Greta sniggers.

 

"And I aim low." I smirk. Jo grins.

 

Josette slides into her usual seat at the government building. "Okay, I passed some of that stuff along to Jessy for her shop, I talked to Richard and the others about the plantations in the realtor dimension, they're drop hints in a few ears when stuff is ready to harvest. They're already talking about the dimension on Calvin's world . .expect the next databurst to be talking about it. Because I'm promising to donate a portion of the profits to charities that are helping people rebuild and burn units. Dumbasses are wailing they should be getting the profits, the fire was my fault for protecting my own land. . .the assholes don't realize they're just digging themselves deeper and making me look good." The others snort but nod. "Oh yeah, and they're trying to get the dimension back from me. . .if anybody should be making a profit it should be them. And the judgments got to be thrown out. . .right? It's not fair they're being punished for what they did. The morons are going to be paying off another judgment and the other prisoners are kicking their asses up around their ears."

 

"They deserve to die in prison but it would be over too quickly."

 

Josette nods. "The cons want the fools to suffer for a long, long time. Just like why the dumbass who ran into the mall twice in Jessy's dimension isn't getting half the beatings he could from the other prisoners, they're waiting until the fool manages to pay back everything that was taken from his sisters before they show him just how 'mean' they can really be."

 

"Serves the little fool right." President Bartlett rumbles.

 

"Did the others on the 9th planet decide on a plan?"

 

"Yes, three more floors up and two more containers out to one side. I've got the order sent to Eureka. . .it will be at least a couple years, Clark and Kara put in orders for two cabin workrooms." The others chuckle. They laugh harder at Josette's hangdog assertion that Pat wants one of the uper duper schmuper workrooms she'd been working on. Josette disappears and reappears a few seconds later, sighing. "Dumbasses again. One of them was wailing he was going to kill himself if I didn't beg his forgiveness, give him everything I got from them, my land. . . the warden called him a damn fool and told him to go ahead and kill himself. He was expecting. . ."

 

"People to come rushing to his side? Figures." Principal Madison snorts. Josette starts snickering. "Do I want to know?"

 

"The courts finally started looking into reports that the morons were taking their money and hiding it to keep from having to give it to me. . .seems large withdrawals in cash and not bank checks got some attention. They're wailing that the money they hid to keep it safe was stolen. . .court's not believing them."

 

"D'awww." David snorts. "What do you expect from crooks."

 

"Yep. Ohh, we've officially got a death on the second colony. Whiner took a look at the door of her cabin and howled loud enough to give herself a stroke. Because oh my god, it had snowed. . .again. She'd thought they were kidding her about winter happening every year."

 

"Oh dear god, the stupid woman is better off dead then. Did she think that winter only would happen once and then it would be summer all year long?" President Bartlett snorts.

 

"Or didn't remember that winter happens every year on Earth too?" Principal Madison drawls. "Speaking of winter?"

 

"The replicator is in operation again and people are going in to buy wood for the winter. The container was empty this spring when I removed it. I expect people are going to stock up on wood again even if they won't need it, after getting in two or three batches last winter they know where they can store it."

 

The others nod. Then look at Josette. "Yes, I'm getting in supplies for the cabin.

 

"Are we going to be harvesting here before the last offworld harvests?"

 

"Afterwards. Next year we should start seeing them start moving earlier." The others nod. "Okay, are we running low on any supplies that I need to bring from the ships?"

 

"No, we're good."

 

Maintenance comes in with a ladder and starts working on the lights after flipping the switch, replacing the bulbs and putting the burned out bulb in a container to recycle.

 

"Did Hank get the cabinets finished?" Josette calls through the door.

 

"Yes, we replaced everything before the festival." One of them calls back. Josette nods in satisfaction.

 

"Josette?"

 

"Maxie needed a new refrigerator, hot water heater, and oven this year. she had to replace the furnace last year but now both her home and workbuilding are hooked up to the alternate power. The new refrigerator was just too big for the old spot." All four of the men sigh but nod. "But this way Maxie was able to replace her cabinets. They weren't 'cheap' cheap but. . ."

 

"they weren't custom-made quality." David nods.

 

Josette walks into the dorm and takes off her shoes and socks, putting on clean socks and tossing the old ones over the line. Looking at the line she sighs and bundles it up in a basket.

 

"Gimme a sec to get these off." David pulls off his shoes and socks and Josette snatches the ball of socks out of midair, going down the basement stairs to the laundry and starting the load running. The line arrives out of subspace on David's head and Alan snickers as he sighs and puts it back up.

 

"Anything new in the meeting?"

 

"Dumbasses whining the money they'd hidden to keep safe when the authorities came after them was stolen from them. . .I have a good idea by who." He looks down at the floor. Alan snickers and nods. "Dumbass was wailing he was going to kill himself if he didn't get the money back from Josette, the dimension, her land. . .moron was stunned when the warden told him to go ahead and kill himself." Alexander snickers as Michael rolls his eyes behind them.

 

Josette guffaws a few days later when she reads the databurst. "Guys, somebody's trying to raise money for that stupid shit who was pissing on my shield and burned his dick off. He'll show the courts that won't pay for the 'necessary' surgery for that pooooooooorrrrrr man."

 

Pat snorts. "Sounds like those fool advocates trying to go to bat for that fool girl from Superhero's dimension until they realized the prison had a reason for doing what they were doing."

 

"Yep." Josette drawls. "Ahhh, here we go. The crowdfunding page was took down when they realized who he was, what he'd done, and just why he lost his dick."

 

"Anything else?"

 

"Interest in how the realtor dimension was turned into growing areas. They're sulking because food doesn't need electricity. Unlike their magnificent plans for malls, casinos. . ." Josette waves a hand in an 'and so on' gesture. "That would have everybody in the world come running to them."

 

A few days later they head off to Mom's dimension, Josette dropping face first on the couch with a theatric moan, making the man with Black Jack blink but Clarinda snicker. "Made you go clothes shopping?"

 

"Yyyyeeeesssss. It wouldn't be seemly to go to the show in an outfit I already owned. Moron wailed because we got everything but that." she moans, waving a hand and the bags appearing next to her. Clarinda chuckles as it becomes evident that she's fallen asleep.

 

"Out?" Black Jack asks.

 

"Like a light. She's got a show tomorrow night and hates going clothes shopping." she tells their visitor, pulling a blanket off the back of the couch and pulling it over Josette.

 

Several weeks later Earth time they arrive back to Haven, detouring to the fourth planet so the trees can be taken off the ship and delivered to the sawmills for the Amish men to work on. Payment is sent off and the ship lands back on Haven.

 

"Are you picking up orders for Ma's cabin workrooms?"

 

"Yeah, but I'll keep everything on the ships until next year when they can build them. Along with the supplies for the 9th planet enlarged building and Pat's new building."

 

Josette disappears a few seconds later. "Expect a lot of howling in the next databurst from Calvin's dimension. A lot of big gangs and other crooks are wailing in the media that their ill-gotten gains magically got stolen from them. The survivors anyway, the drugs they were selling got destroyed and there were a few shootouts."

 

"Awwwww, the addicts will be miserable without their damn drugs. Just like that fool in Superhero dimension. Except her drug of choice was food."

 

Everybody nods.

 

Josette disappears again. "Oh dear fucking god, people are damn stupid. Some asswipe 'girl'. . .who's in her damn sixties wailing because I order so much fabric and stuff. I have to have a mental disorder. . .when the courts found out I'm a textiles artist they gave her a disgusted look and told her to grow the hell up. 'But what does text. . . oohhh, she's buying all this for her art? I didn't know that. But what about the ya. . .she makes socks and stuff with that that the government buys? But that's not fay-yay-yay-yay-yar-yay-yurrrrr'. complete with stomping feet and trembling lips."

 

"Goddamn miserable old fool. What the hell concern of it is hers if you buy fabric?"

 

"Oh. . .she was going to find out I was either doing something illegal or needed to be put in a padded room and be the big hero of the day. She deserved our land so she could lord it over people. . .right now she's living in a studio apartment and can't lord it over anybody there."

 

"Oh dear god, one of those miserable old fools." Principal Madison says from the doorway. He and Doc had come to investigate why Josette went off twice.

 

"Oh yes, she's got to work to pay her bills." Josette's lips mock-tremble. "When the judge told her the rest of humanity does unless they're in a prison where they're either working to pay off judgments or their money is going to help defray the cost of keeping them there she ran off wailing. I expect some damn big dramatic death proclamation, none of those fools go away quietly." Doc and Principal Madison snort and head back into Headquarters. . .pausing when Josette disappears yet again.

 

"Okay, this time it was Granda." She says when she returns. "He wanted my input on his plans to buy a large barge and use it as a floating farm. They're close enough to DC that they can sell to the upscale areas as well as to low income communities. . . There's no room for more community farms and with more kids being born."

 

"The need for fruits and veggies is increasing. Commercial farms?"

 

"Ramping production back up again but. . ."

 

"the need still exists."

 

"Yeah." Josette snickers. "Do we wanna?" Principal Madison asks dryly.

 

"Ohhh, I told Granda and the others this was the third time I'd been called off today, I refused to tell anybody what happened the first time but everybody laughed at the old fool. As I was leaving I heard Maria saying she'd keep an eye on the news and see if she could figure out what I'd been up to, whatever it was would have to be big. Ohhh, the jobs are now permanent and expect to see another increase in the orders in the next couple years." Doc and Principal Madison nod as David sends off a message to President Bartlett.

 

"Are we going to need to put up a new building?"

 

"Not unless Albatross wants one in a few years. Right now they're not having any problems commuting here to work. The buildings are more than big enough, I've got room for four more rows of machines. . .on either side before need to expand again. Which will be needed, I'm going to be picking up more machines after Thanksgiving." Josette holds up a hand. "The governments are now having them constructed, it's good money for their own people." Doc and Principal Madison nod in satisfaction.

 

"Are we going to hit the thirty thousand sock machines after all?" Susan smirks.

 

"God I hope not but probably the way things are looking. If we do have that many machines. . .definitely putting up at least one more building." Doc and Principal Madison nod.

 

David looks over at Josette, then Doc. "Do we need to have the mechanicals looked at?"

 

"The others did it during the Harvest Festival." Susan says absently.

 

"Okay then, with Maxie having to replace most of her appliances."

 

"I've been looking and seeing if we need to bring out some of the appliances from the other dimensions I have stored away. Though the hand-cranked washer got a few hits on the replicator. I expect to see a few on back porches in Albatross." The others nod.

 

Josette chuckles evilly as she reads the howls of morons who actually went to police stations to report their illegal profits stolen and are promptly arrested.

 

"Josette." Jane says absently in the school's office.

 

"Yep." Maria snickers. "Ooohhhh, Josette." She grins. Josette walks in.

 

"Socks and other stuff. . ." they sit down to count everything. Josette hands Maria a bag. "New socks."

 

"Oooohhhhh." they look them over. "We weren't expecting you so early."

 

"Stupid bitch who tried getting me committed because I buy so much yarn and fabric is trying to sue me for emotional distress because people are talking bad about her."

 

"Awwwww, pooo' baby." Jane drawls.

 

"Yep, I destroyed the bitch in the courtroom, she's wailing about how everybody is being so mean to her. She was gonna kill herself. . ."

 

Sounds of disgust from both women.

 

"Yeah, the judge told her to make sure all her bills were paid up . . .including her burial costs and to alert somebody to come look for her if she does so she doesn't lay in her apartment rotting. Her own lawyer asked her how she'd do it, to make sure it was a clean death so she's not laying in a bed somewhere on life support either brain dead. . ."

 

"too late in her case." Maria snorts.

 

"Or disabled and the state has to take care of her. Moron ran off wailing. . .again. I expect to hear the woman's in a home somewhere drugged out of her damn head. Before somebody shoots her."

 

"That would be the only way to stop her." Maria agrees. Then moans as she turns up the local news on the tv and hears about a standoff with an older woman and the police.

 

"Dollars to doughnuts."

 

"Yep."

 

True to their thoughts it turns out to be the fool who'd tried suing committing suicide by cop. She's dragged off in the back of a patrol car and nobody's surprised to find out she's now in an institution drugged out of what passes for her mind.

 

Some fool tries suing Josette, trying to say her actions caused her 'breakdown' but the bitch has a list of people a mile long that she's tried running their lives. His boss quickly calls and apologizes for the fucking stupidity of his employee. Who can be heard wailing that he didn't know she was a miserable excuse for a human being in the background. Somebody else yells that a damn simple background check would have seen her repeated attempts to sue others because she didn't like how they were running their lives.

 

The offworld crops start coming in and everybody is busy. Josette slides into her seat at the testing center on Archimedes.

 

"Congratulations on finishing another degree." Dr. Stark smirks around a mug of coffee. "Here at least since I know you've finished at least three this year on Calvin's system. Now, metallurgy doctorate?"

 

"Give me a couple years, here's a breakdown of the dissertation. All about the harvesting I've been doing." She sends him a file and he nods in satisfaction. "Not what you'd normally get in a doctorate dissertation but it's similar to the masters and doctorate I did in electrical engineering here." Nods from the others.

 

"Degrees have changed over the years. The old boring theses and dissertations have vanished for the most part."

 

"And the stupid miserable fools have got the wind yanked from their sails so they can't cause problems for others. For the most part. . .there's still fools who want everybody to be as miserable as they are and will do anything to cause problems for everybody. But they don't succeed and it makes them even more bitter."

 

"Are all the offworld harvests in?"

 

"Yes, yours was the last one and I'm delivering it when I'm picking up the recycling and the first shipments for the buildings." Josette checks her PADD and says a day and time, the three doctors nodding as they send out reminders.

 

At home Josette finds Alan in the growing building, pulling plants to dry for seeds.

 

"Others?"

 

"Planting in the other area. Or putting up the stuff we canned today." Alan looks over his shoulder. "Did you enlarge Jonathon's hallway?"

 

"Yeah, he's talking about bringing out some more people to talk to Stark about setting up shop in another dimension. . .his Tony Stark, Reed Richards, his Bruce Wayne and Steve Dayton, people both in the know and with the means to pack up and move if they have to." Alan nods. "They might not have a nice handy other solar system to move to but they can hightail it to another dimension if the shit hits the fan."

 

"It's always nice to have a fallback, that's why Jonathon has so many identities."

 

"Yeah. . ." Josette's eyes grow dark for a second, "Two more years of books and shows in Granda's dimension."

 

"Yes, you'll only have Mom's dimension for yearly shows. Until you get so well-known in Superhero's or new dimension's."

 

"God I hope not, the damn fools are crawling out of the woodwork in Granda's dimension, I'd hate to see what it would be like in the others. Some of the damn fool morons had to have died during the zero-population period." Josette snorts. Alexander cackles and nods from the doorway.

 

The last of the crops come in and the plants tilled under for the winter. The offworld harvests are handed out and Josette delivers the recycling from the other planets. Josette yawns as she walks into the dining hall.

 

"Get everything taken care of?" Professor Druid asks.

 

"Yes, the harvests dropped off, the recycling picked up, and. . ." Josette disappears then reappears a few seconds later. "Goddamn asswipe, trying to take my land, books, and everything else. Because he's a man and I'm just an uppity woman."

 

"Oh dear god."

 

"I about beat the bastard to death when he tried grabbing me to put me in my place." Josette sneers. "Fucker tried grabbing the bailiff's gun and was shot. Hope the asshole enjoys hell."

 

"Sounds like he deserves it. Fucking asshole."

 

"Oh yes, he was blubbering about how he couldn't firebomb my home because of the shields. He might be hurt."

 

"Fucking stupid asshole."

 

"Yeah, I'm going to start shooting some of the assholes, Congress said I could." Principal Madison looks at her and she rolls her eyes. "Trank darts Dad, I don't mean literally, Unless they're trying to kill me. In that case. . .all bets are off." He nods in satisfaction. "More rules are being enacted and maybe some morons will realize they're not all that. They bleated that didn't they need the housing that could go up on my land and walked off pouting when they realized so much housing was just sitting there empty."

 

"What's the latest on the second dimension?"

 

"Three more deaths, the others . . .well the overseers don't expect them to survive another year."

 

"No, they're not the type of people who could live that type of life." Dr. Hazlitt rumbles.

 

"How's Michelle settling into her high school classes?"

 

"Good, she's got a short list of schools she wants to apply to next summer."

 

"Superhero dimension? You were mumbling earlier today."

 

"Ooohhhh, dumbfuck advocates trying to claim Natalie and her aunt are railroading that stupid girl, they put an innocent girl in prison. . ." Josette mock-sobs. "They're destroying the stupid assholes in the media, the morons in turn are blubbering they were given bad intelligence. . .surprise, surprise it was all lies from the brat in prison. Who's now wailing because the prison is slapping the stupidity out of her again, she's now locked in her cell for twenty-three hours a day for the foreseeable future."

 

"God damn stupid little shit."

 

"Oh yes, they're being mean to her in prison, making her work and making her lose all that weight. She still can't eat all she wants. . .she still has to sleep on a pad on a cement block." Josette mock-sobs. "She doesn't wanna do her schoolwork, she misses being able to watch tv, the other cons get to decide what's on the tv in the tv room, they hurt her if she tries to change the channel. . .why won't her family send her money for a tv of her own? Mommy and Daddy wouldn't have let them be so mean to her."

 

"Well if she hadn't killed her Mommy and Daddy, she wouldn't be in that horrible place. Stupid brat." President Bartlett rumbles. "But then it's always somebody else's fault with those type of people." Nods of agreement from everybody in both rooms.

 

"Fuck you you stupid little sack of shit, your family doesn't owe you a damn thing. If you can't afford a tv too damn bad. You're a convicted murderer. . .you don't have any damn rights anymore." A judge snorts.

 

"But my sister didn't need to keep her education money. . ." she wails as she's tossed back in her cell, the door slamming seems to echo throughout the room. "But Mommy and Daddy wouldn't have let them be so mean to me."

 

"Mommy and Daddy should have beat the stupid bitch to death years ago." One guard says. The other nods. "Shut up Daniels, nobody's interested in your damn wailing."

 

"But I need everything I want." She continues to wail over the next few days, sobbing brokenheartedly as she's led to the showers and forced to bathe. How can everybody be so mean to her?

 

"Retarded brat." her fellow prisoners snort, as well as yelling at her to shut her damn wailing up. . .her damn whining was keeping them up.

 

"Are you sure she's not mentally ill?" the head of the advocate group that had been trying to say her sister and aunt had railroaded the girl whimpers in front of a panel of judges and psychiatrists as he finally has to look through her records.

 

"Yes, we're sure she's not mentally ill. She's just a stupid spoiled little brat who hates having to take responsibility for her own actions, hated having to lose all that weight, hates working three jobs when the prison garden is in use, hates having to take classes to try to get her damn high school diploma. . .she's still trying to finish the eighth grade and it's been a few years. She *hates that she can't sit on her ass and eat everything she wants so she can put the weight right back on. . .because the other prisoners won't put up with her shit and she can't land on them anymore and nearly suffocate them." One of the psychiatrists says in disgust. "Dear gods man, if you'd done a damn bit of looking into the case instead of immediately jumping to conclusions you'd have known all this."

 

"But she keeps wailing everybody's being so mean to her."

 

"She's in prison moron, not the damn Hilton."

 

"But does she have to be in prison?" he whines.

 

"She was found guilty of two counts of second degree murder and a count of attempted second degree murder. Yes, she deserves to be in prison."

 

"But what about putting her in a facility?"

 

"Why? She's not mentally ill, she's a stupid spoiled little brat who needs a good swift kick."

 

"But she's just a baby. . .I'm sure she didn't mean to . . ."

 

"butcher her parents in their bed so the funeral had to be closed casket? Or try to kill her sister except she woke up and beat the bitch upside the head with a baseball bat when she found her over her bed with a bloody knife?"

 

"But couldn't the sister have done it and blamed it on the younger girl?"

 

"No, and I hope the hell she destroys you in court for trying to claim she and her aunt railroaded her into prison." One of the judges says in disgust. "Stupid fool." He snorts as the man runs off wailing.

 

"Moron's as stupid as she is and looking for a quick way to make a name for himself. . .he was expecting to waltz in and rescue a young woman from durance vile by starting a smear campaign against the remaining family members."

 

"ROT IN HELL YOU STUPID SON OF A BITCH!" Natalie yells as she stands over the man. "How DARE you fucking accuse me of trying to frame my idiot sister?"

 

"But you could have. . ." he screams as she kicks him in the ribs again, kicking him over and over and over until security pulls her away sobbing. She gets one last kick in to his balls before they take her off.

 

"But couldn't she have done it?" He whines from the jail cell he'd been tossed into by security.

 

"No moron, her sister spent the whole damn trial saying her parents had to die for not getting that money away from her." His now former boss bellows.

 

"ohhhh."

 

"Yeah. . .ohhhh. Dear god idiot, if you'd read.the.damn.casefile you'd have seen it was nothing more than lies."

 

"But why would she lie?"

 

"Because she's a miserable excuse for a human being who hates it that she's being punished for her actions."

 

"But don't they have to let me out of here?" He whines when his former boss walks away.

 

"Hell no, you were told the sister was the innocent victim yet you continued to harass her. I'd have let her beat your stupid ass to death but the poor girl doesn't need that on her conscience. You got what the hell you deserved."

 

"So that was a horrible mess." Alice says as the kids arrive in Superhero's dimension. "The moron finally realized that the fantastic case of a girl imprisoned wrongly is nothing more than a sack of lies and she's sulking because she's still locked in that damn cell for another six weeks. She's wailing she can't afford a tv of her own and the other convicts hurt her if she tries to turn the channel of what they're watching."

 

"Poor baby, she's going to realize eventually prison isn't all fun and games. How's the older girl?"

 

"Going to be starting her Junior year in a couple weeks. Thankfully all this drama happened while she was off during the summer so her grades didn't suffer."

 

"I hope they're destroying him civilly?"

 

"Oh yes, all the ambulance chasers are rubbing their hands together in glee. The real lawyers are telling him he's getting what he deserved. Not only did he try to claim the remaining family railroaded her into prison, he tried claiming they stole her inheritance."

 

"A prisoner can't profit from their crime."

 

"Yes, and the grandparents knew what kind of miserable person she was, that's why she wasn't left anything in the will when they died. Or her father because he'd turn it over to the brat. which his mother flatly said in the video will they left. The sister got controlling interest in the family business, the other girl got forty percent held in trust until she was twenty-five because the grandmother knew the father would try pressuring her into giving it to her sister."

 

"Damn fool."

 

"Oh yes, but that's a good chunk of humanity." Andrew snorts. Doc sighs but nods.

 

Back home Josette thinks a minute about moving stuff from the ship but decides it can wait for another day, it's drizzling rain and everybody just wants to nap.

 

"Better rain than snow." Josette says as they walk to the dining hall.

 

"It will start snowing soon enough." David snorts. Everybody in earshot nods.

 

A couple days later is Thanksgiving and everybody relaxes after they eat their fill. Josette looks at the window. "Snow by dinner and it will stick." The others nod.

 

"Knitting buildings?"

 

"I took stuff out when we went out and picked up more stuff, the employees will set everything up after the first of the year. Okay, since everybody but Doc is here and I talked to him about this last night. ..do we see the need for a DVD store?"

 

"Not when we can replicate anything we want." Principal Madison says absently. "The others have been adding their stuff to the servers, right?"

 

"Yes."

 

"Do we have the crystals installed?"

 

"Yeah, they put them in last summer. Our three server rooms are now on one crystal and it's not even a thousandth of one percent full." Josette says absently.

 

"Yes, we have one in the administration building now."

 

"And for the large-scale replicator."

 

"Yeah, we got another one that's for our replicators. Doc's got one for his replicators and we can access the other crystal if what we're looking for isn't on ours."

 

"Crystals?" Professor Eppes asks.

 

"Large egg-shaped crystals as big as my head." Josette says absently. "They're used for storage in Granda's dimension, one crystal can hold more than a server farm's worth of information. No, I don't know how they do it. It's a specialty degree and I'm not interested in it. . yet."

 

The others snort at the blatant lie. . .tempered by the yet. "Dad knows, you can ask him when he comes out how they do it."

 

Josette looks at him. "Dad's holding a 'briefing' about the crystals since GD is getting them now. You can tag along. I'll let them know."

 

"Thank you Josette. Are they created?"

 

"Grown, we had some growing in our dorm for a while. They take years. . .even ours." Josette disappears and reappears a few seconds later. "Awww, the people who were in prison got out and found their money missing. Now they're trying to take over other gangs in the area to try to recoup their losses."

 

"And the other gangs aren't cooperating?" President Bartlett snorts.

 

"Nope, they took over their land and whatnot when they went to prison and don't want to give it back. They're all fighting for survival with the problems that's been happening. The courts are beginning to crack down on criminal activity and they're not able to get cops to turn the other way with a little extra money now. The cops . . .weeeeeelllll if they go to prison they don't last very long."

 

"They wouldn't, I know Jessy said her mother's lover was a cop and is wailing about being in protective custody. . . even then the other cons yell at him."'

 

"Pooo' baby." the others drawl.

 

"Oh yes, Jessy told me the little fucker actually tried suing Jessy for the money her mother promised him for murdering her husband, Jessy's father. He keeps trying to claim Jessy had her mother murdered because she was ssssooooo close to finding the proof that would get them out of prison. Not that it fucking existed. . .they were shown on the security system murdering him. Not just the footage on the house's server the cameras taped to, a server in.another.location that the video footage also went to."

 

"Fool, he reminds me too much of that younger girl."

 

"Yes, neither of them feel they should be punished for their own actions." Josette drawls. "The girl keeps blubbering Mommy and Daddy wouldn't let everybody be so mean to her, he's 'it's her fault, not mine or her mother's'. Neither of them are going to see the light of day unless it's in a prison yard for the rest of their lives."

 

"The older girl?"

 

"Her junior year at Hamberg, the university I attended in Superhero's dimension."

 

"Though she's not going for as many degrees as you are." David snorts. "Are you going for more degrees again?"

 

"Yeah, they're introducing more areas."

 

Snickering from the others.

 

Josette is busy cleaning off the shelves over her desk when the others arrive. By now they're all used to her habit of cleaning off the desk for the Lights Festival even if she'll be putting the books back up the night before classes start again.

 

"Josette, your metallurgy doctorate?"

 

"Starting it year after next. I've already passed over the outline of the dissertation, basically what I've been doing for so long since doctorates are changing" They nod in satisfaction. The old boy network is slowly being weeded out of schools and actual experience is being rewarded. Especially after some very public lawsuits against schools by people who should have got degrees except for a fool deciding they're not our type and causing problems.

 

The first meeting of the new year has David holding up a hand. "Josette and Doc aren't going to be here, they're on the ships looking through. . ." A minute later Josette grins as the tesseract opens behind her and the other three walk through. President Bartlett looks up and down the hall, moaning as David opens a door and he can't see the top of the boxes or the wall. While Josette and the others wouldn't actually lie about the rooms being so large they might have been exaggerating. . .but they weren't.

 

"What are we looking for?"

 

"I was looking through something and I found information on solar panels that deliver half as much power again as ours. Even in winter."

 

"Really?"

 

"Yes, I looked through the information Josette had when she asked if she was reading that right and we decided to come looking."

 

"Batteries?"

 

"Yes, that's something else we'll have to , . ." Josette disappears and then reappears. "God damn stupid woman who tried getting me committed because I have to be mentally ill by buying fabric and whatnot for my art. She's trying to get out of the damn institution she's in but since she tried attacking a guard because he's related to one of the people who she'd tried to run their lives before. . ."'

 

"Oh dear fucking god." President Bartlett moans.

 

"Yep, she ain't getting out and is wailing in misery since the institution won't drug her into drooling stupidity anymore, so she's aware of everything going on."

 

"D'awww." David coos. "couldn't happen to a more miserable bitch."

 

Principal Madison really wants to say something, Doc and President Bartlett can see it but since the fool deserves what she's getting he won't.

 

They arrive back at the school by lunch, Professor Druid and Mrs. Bartlett looking at their husbands when they walk in with Josette, David, and Doc.

 

"Josette found information on solar panels that deliver half again as much power and she and Doc went looking."

 

"That would be good during winter." Mrs. Bartlett says. "Batteries?"

 

"We got samples as well and will put some and our solar panels up on a building, put up two different towers, and see what the difference is." President Bartlett rumbles as he sits down with a tray. “Ohhhh, Josette disappeared while we were there, said the stupid woman who tried having her declared incompetent for buying fabric and yarn so she can lord it over the little people had a hearing and tried attacking a guard who's related to some of the people she tried. . ."

 

"Running their lives before? Figures." Professor Druid snorts. "Is she back to being drugged out of her mind in the institution?"

 

"Nope, they're not drugging her now so she's aware of everything going on around her while she's stuck in there." Josette smirks from the back room.

 

"Couldn't happen to a nicer asshole then." is the general consensus of everybody in earshot.

 

"Really?" Josette drawls as she reads the databurst. "You must think I'm as stupid as you are and don't recognize the name of people who tried to steal my land before." She sends off a scathing 'helllll, no' response that has them wailing. How could she have realized they intended to use this as a way to steal her land away from her? It's not fair. They go to the courts to try to make her let them use her land and are stunned when they're laughed at and told to go away. They try getting on the land anyway and are arrested in the hospital.

 

"But they shouldn't have realized we'd use it as a way to take the land." They wail in jail cells.

 

"Morons."

 

"Yep."

 

"Ha, serves you right you little brat." Josette snorts as she's reading the databurst from superhero dimension one day at lunch. "Dumbass brat tried something and got her ass handed to her by the other prisoners. She's wailing that she's hurt and still has to do her jobs. Idiot will not get it through her thick skull that she doesn't have any damn rights anymore. She *lowered herself to make a knife to protect herself. . .one of the other convicts broke it and then slapped the hell out of her."

 

"Stupid bitch is going to end up getting killed in prison."

'

"Yep, they're sending her back to the medium security dimension to pay off her judgments." Josette drawls. "Moron will no doubt still wail she can't get all the money from her jobs. The older girl and her aunt got a damn good sized judgment against dumbfuck who tried claiming 'well, they could have framed her' and wailed like a siren it wasn't fair he lost his cushy job being an advocate and was sent off to work in the medium security dimension to pay it off. Because the dumb fucker wouldn't have otherwise."

 

"Josette, books?"

 

"I'm working on the new ones, year after next I should have the printers going again."

 

"Other books?"

 

"Two more years, Me Granda's dimension this year."

 

"Superhero?"

 

"We have another dual show year after next, we're both putting away. . ." Alexander moans and starts drawing something on his PADD. He sends the drawing to Josette and Michael who both smirk. Principal Madison knows those looks and takes the PADD, moaning.

 

"Run like hell."

 

"Oh, like we'd put it up when he was there." Josette snorts.

 

"He'll still know it was you three. A statue for Dad's school." He says at the others looks.

 

"One of the grand statues Calvin calls a monument to stupidity?" His wife asks when he sits back down.

 

"Yep."

 

"Run fast." She tells the threesome. Who just laugh at her.

 

Josette disappears and reappears a few seconds later. "Expect to hear some arrests the next databurst from Granda's dimension, the fucking asswipe city council member who was elected on a campaign of being tough against crime? Tried framing me for a few deaths in the area. . .moronic mother fucker bleated he didn't know I was a few billion times richer than he was . . .he'd have been sucking up to me instead of his butt-buddies in organized crime. He thought I was just some kid who was land rich and money poor. And too stupid to realize his friends are doing me a favor taking it off my hands for the few dollars they'd lowered themselves to offer me."

 

"He's obviously new to the area." David snorts.

 

"Yes, everybody in the area *knows I'm a successful author and artist." Josette rolls her eyes. "He's rolling over on organized crime to hopefully get the chance to see sunlight outside a prison somebody in the rest of his life. Moron doesn't realize that organized crime will take him out no matter where he is."

 

The others nod. "Fucking a-hole trying to make himself better than he's not."

 

"Yep,"

 

The weather starts getting warmer and Josette is busy spreading manure on the garden and fields, looking over and finding manure going on the garden plots at the school, in town, Albatross, and the other continent. The 'what we're growing in the extra garden' lists had gone out and they're trying not to duplicate items too much. Not that they won't be eaten. . .

 

Josette picks up the next batch of supplies for all the buildings when she picks up the recycling from the other planets and delivers stuff for Ma's cabins to the spots Clark and Kara told her, sending off a message as she starts delivering the containers for Pat and the newly enlarged building on the 9th planet. Ma Hunkel looks around the new areas in satisfaction, making mental notes of what they need to bring out when everything's completed.

 

“The stuff for the interiors should be ready by the end of Haven's year. Even if it's just the insulation and some of the wall panels."

 

"That's okay Josette, we knew it would be a while before we could get the new area finished, not with as much work needs to be done. Just the staircase and stoves. . ."

 

"Yep." Josette sighs. "I'll cut the opening for the stairs when I bring out the second batch of supplies. That will include the stoves."

 

"Thank you Josette, we're already figuring out how much wood we'll need. Between that and the heaters."

 

"You should be warm here even in the coldest weather." Josette nods. "Let me know when you need my help bringing out the bigger stuff."

 

"Thank you."

 

Looking at the other continent Josette snickers as she sees the cabins already being put up.

 

Josette slides into her usual seat at the dining hall.

 

"Get everything delivered?"

 

"Yes, the containers are up on the other continent and on the 9th planet, Clark and Kara already got the cabins up."

 

Alexander nods. "Ma's already contacted us about tables."

 

"They should be able to insulate, put the wire panels, lights, windows, box to piggyback off the alternate power and stove and solar panels in by winter. The little stuff they can work on over the winter." The others nod.

 

"Pat's?"

 

"Right now it's just the containers linked together, which includes the vents. I'll have most of the mechanicals in the basement." The others nod. "How are the b & b houses doing?"

 

"Good, most rooms are full every night. Dumbfucks behind bars are wailing because they're not getting a dime of the money coming in and I managed to get the businesses turned around. . .they'd rather they have gone into bankruptcy then I make money off them."

 

"Of course they would." Principal Madison snorts. "Because they're the ultimate authority, don't you know? With you making money, they were made to look like fools. . .which they are."

 

"Oh dear god." Josette moans as she looks at the next databurst. "Screw you moron, hopefully somebody will shoot you. Right up the ass."

 

Doc looks over at her since they're in the dorm.

 

"Some moron proclaiming he's going to run for president, when he's elected he's going to overturn all these pesky little laws keeping people from taking whatever they want. . .because he's got his eyes on this sweet little stretch of land for his latest monument to his magnificence and the owners won't sell it. Two fucking guesses what land he's talking about."

 

"But I thought all the bad publicity would force them to sell to me." Dumbass wails in the news over the next few days as people call him a stupid sack of shit who should have been drowned at birth. "The bad press should be on her, not me."

 

"Fucking a-hole." Maria mutters as she drives to work. Parking her car she looks at the new addition in front of the school and cackles. Calvin is standing in front of it. . .complaining, and it just makes her laugh harder. Especially when he gives her an 'et tu' look.

 

"Josette?"

 

"And the boys. They all know how I feel about these damn things." Calvin mutters.

 

"They do good work though."

 

"Not.Helping." Maria smirks and looks over at the yell. . .then laughter from Jane.

 

"Michelle got accepted into the school she wanted."

 

"Awww, we'll have to throw a party."

 

Josette looks over the lists of what is needed for all the buildings and makes marks for what she thinks will be ready in this next batch from the factories, whether she's right or not will be seen when she picks up the second shipment from the factories after the Harvest Festival.

 

"Is this it for the empty containers?" Pat asks at dinner a couple nights later.

 

"Getting there."

 

Josette talks with her money manager a few days later on Calvin's dimension, walking through a complex that's for sale for taxes and puts in an offer. The offer is quickly accepted and Josette has a notice sent out to the renters, asking them to make appointments with the new management company to inspect the apartments and see if there's any repairs or necessary maintenance needed.

 

The owners of other apartment complexes whine they're taking renters from them, they were told to grow the fuck up and if they want to bring in renters they needed to do some work on the complexes.

 

"Dumbass morons." Maria snorts as Josette comes in from dropping off the first order of the year off in the warehouse, passing the numbers off to Calvin who's giving her a look. She smirks and kisses his cheek, calling him an old grump. His loving employees run outside so he doesn't see them cackling. He gives them looks when they walk in and they wave 'talk to the hands' at him.

 

"Any idea on how many more tables I'll need to put up? Or how soon we need to look into a third building?"

 

"Not right now but I expect you'll hit the thirty thousand machine mark by the time they're done."

 

Josette returns to Haven and leans between Principal Madison and Professor Druid. "Brought out more yarn and machines from Granda's dimension. I'll put them in the closets and bring them out in a bit." They nod. "Are we still on track for the orders?"

 

"Yes."

 

Josette sends the others a file when she walks into the back room. "I did some land buying while I was out there."

 

"Hmmmm, not bad." David says as he looks everything over.

 

"No, I basically got it all for taxes, there's so many empty apartments yet." The others nod. "Though as people start finishing school and getting out on their own they'll start to be rented."

 

"We don't have any problems seeing the long version, so many people are just looking for the quick profits."

 

"Exactly. . .if the buildings sit empty after they're built it's not their problem." Josette snorts, waving a hand. "That's why so many management companies go out of business."

 

"That's big business. . .too big too soon and they can't get the profits they were looking for. . .they won't for another couple decades."

 

Josette returns from Calvin's world a few days later swearing. "Stupid bitch brought me on a tv show. . .she didn't wike how I was protecting my own land from people trying to steal it. Bitch tried throwing a bottle of water in my face then hitting me. She bleated she was the victim but her own people called her a damn liar and she's been very quickly fired. when her now former boss asked if this meant anybody could walk into her house and do whatever she wanted she huffed 'no' then was alllllll 'ooohhhhhh'."

 

"Figures." David snorts.

 

"Yeah, She's claiming she's an impartial authority but I know she's friends with a lot of the so-called moral people who have tried stealing the land. Now the dumbass is wailing that everybody's being mean to her. Going to be wailing louder when I destroy her in court. And she's a damn judge, she should have known better than to attack somebody in front of cameras."

 

"Stupid fools like that think they're better than the rest of humanity and what happens in those damn 'reality' shows can happen in real life without any consequences." Susan rolls her eyes. "What else were you out about?"

 

"Ohhhhhh, the dumbasses wailing about having to grow their own food again." Josette rolls her eyes. "They're still expecting to wake up and magically everything will be the way they want it. I looked at the plantations while I was out there and planted oranges, apples, grapes, hops, palm kernels, and olives."

 

"Palm kernels?"

 

"Something Becka was talking about growing in tropics. It takes a few years before it can be harvested but it can be harvested all the time and palm oil is used in nearly everything." Dr. Stark says from the doorway. "GD was looking into growing it at one time."

 

"It will be a steady source of income."

 

Josette disappears again and sighs as she reappears. "The second colony is growing. . .the idiots who are stunned I can keep my own land, the moron who wailed about his magnificent plan. . .they're all being sent out with supplies and told if they can come up with the money for everything they want, they can have another shot at a dimension."

 

"They won't make it." Doc sighs from the doorway to Headquarters.

 

"Nope, but their own greed is taking them out of the equation. I'm sure they'll start wailing soon about having to take classes to cook and grow their own food, grow commercial crops to sell for their supplies. . .there's no heat at the turn of a dial, the little people won't be begging for a spot serving them. . ."

 

"They'll wail like sirens when somebody hands them a shovel and tells them to start digging when they ask where the bathroom is."

 

"But I thought the colonies were for show. . ." Anna mock-wails behind them. "I didn't know they were for realsies."

 

"Exactly." Doc sighs, Pat's leaning on the doorway cackling. Josette disappears and reappears again.

 

"Fuck no, I'm not bringing this stupid cunt back to our planet, we want people who actually work and aren't looking their noses down on everybody else." She runs at her with her nails out and gets backhanded across the room. "Grow the hell up you retarded sack of shit, ain't nobody going to kiss your useless ass."

 

"But I'm a reality show star, you gotta do what I want."

 

"The Hell I do." Josette turns and walks away, the stupid bitch screaming as she runs at her with a knife. She ends up on the floor, Josette sitting on her chest with the knife in her hand and telling the now blubbering bitch how her purdy little face would be with an Edinborough grin.

 

"In case you don't know what that is little girl. . .remember the Joker's scars?" She pretends to start cutting, the woman faints and she throws the knife away from her in disgust. "Either put this bitch in an institution or shoot the fool." She tells the authorities.

 

"Gladly, the stupid woman needs to be drugged out of her damn mind hugging herself in a cell." the man who'd been overseeing the arbitration snorts. "I apologize for bothering you Ms. Takahawa."

 

Doc gives her a chiding look when he finds out what she'd threatened to do but Pat is cackling and nodding vigorously. "Tough love doesn't work on that mindset, beating the everloving hell out of them and proving they're fools in front of others does."

 

"That stupid bitch who wanted my land for her damn reality show is very quiet in prison, the other cons won't put up with her spoiled Momma attitude and she tried getting back the money she had to earn for her grandchildren's education. That was leaked by a prisoner with a cameraphone and blew up the internet.

 

"Wellll yeah, we already knew the bitch had no intention of actually paying for their education, it was a bid to make her look better in the media." David snorts.

 

"Yeah, that was part of the absolute fit she had that was captured by the phone. She's now sulking because the last die-hard defenders she had dropped her like the flaming sack of shit she is."

 

The first crops are beginning to come in and bags of tomatoes, peppers, and herbs are being passed out around the area. Josette puts the last of the bags in the stasis unit and looks around in satisfaction. David nods behind her and swats at the light curtain whipping towards his face from the breeze. "We'll have a storm coming in tonight."

 

"Yep, I'll shut the windows if it starts blowing rain in. Otherwise I'm enjoying the fresh air."

 

"Oh yeah, that's really going to work." Josette snorts as she reads the databurst at dinner. The others look at her. "Some damn dumb assholes in Calvin's dimension want their own dimension. They're all women haters, they think all of mankind's troubles can be laid at the door of women. They want their own colony dimension so they can prove they're better off without women."

 

"Won't last. . ." Alan snorts.

 

"Nope, there's no way for the colony to grow without children and unless you have hermaphrodite men. . ." Susan looks at Josette.

 

"they don't want a damn thing to do with the morons even if hermaphroditic men being born means women are an abomination." Josette snorts. "the world is better off without the idiots. They're sulking because if they get caught trying to attack a woman it's prison, if they sexually assault somebody it's castration. . ." The women all snicker as their menfolk cross their legs. "They want to turn women into objects of hatred and make it legal to kill any woman they see."

 

"Goddamn morons should be killed themselves." Principal Madison says in disgust.

 

Josette disappears and reappears a few seconds later. "Well, they won't have to worry about their precious colony dimension. . .assholes tried firebombing the land because a woman. . ." she sneers. "dared to say no to a man when he demanded her land. The whole group is dead or wishing they were dead because they came after me with guns and knives and I took them out with extreme prejudice. They're looking at life in a prison hospital if they survive."

 

"Fools like that are better off in Hell getting the stupidity beaten out of them."

 

"Amen."

 

"Yeah." Josette sighs, then swats David. He yelps and rubs his arm where she'd lightly slapped him. "What was that about?"

 

"I took a nap earlier and dreamed about everybody in the school dancing like the rockettes."

 

"Yeah, that's a 'damn it David, quit eating that shit before bed' dream." Alan snorts. The others snigger.

 

"Ohhhh."

 

"Don't even think it, I love everybody out there but President Bartlett does not have the legs for that short skirt."

 

"Amen." He rumbles. His wife laughs.

 

"But I didn't know they'd go after her. I was just venting." Dumbass who'd sent the judge and the men after Josette wails in a courtroom where he's been convicted of conspiring to commit murder.

 

"Really, you were just venting with the group that wants to kill any women they see. Moron, do you think the rest of humanity is as stupid as you are?" he's tossed into a jail cell to wait until he can be moved to prison to serve out his five to fifteen year sentence. The fucker wails that it's a death sentence and a guard snorts 'we wish'.

 

In superhero dimension Natalie snorts as she listens to the wailing of her idiot sister on a recording. "And why the hell do you think I would be the least bit interested in my idiot sister's whining about how hard life is because she can't sit on her ass all day watching tv?"

 

"You. . you won't buy her a tv?" The woman whimpers.

 

"Fuck NO I'm not buying the stupid bitch a tv. Because if she got a tv she'd wail about only getting over the air channels. If the bitch wants a tv and whatnot, get off her ass and buy it herself. Along with a laptop, dvd player, and everything else she wants. I'm not paying for it."

 

"But you and your aunt are her sole remaining family members."

 

"Yes, because the bitch murdered our parents."

 

"Weeeellllll. . .yes. But she can't take part in the program that will let prisoners shop in stores and not pay for anything."

 

"Why the hell should she? Gods, she's a fucking murderer. I can't fucking do that and I'm not a damn convict. Why the hell should she get whatever she wants when I can't?" The blubbering woman can't answer that. "Get the hell out. Don't come back, don't ever bother us again."

 

The others give the woman a disgusted look when she returns to their office, calling her a goddamn fool. "Of course the sister doesn't have to pay for whatever that little bitch wants. And like she said, why should her sister get whatever she wants in a shopping spree and she can't. She's the damn victim."

 

"But I thought the woman would have forgiven her by now."

 

"Why the hell should she? The stupid bitch killed her parents and nearly killed her for the crime of keeping her own education fund since she was in high school. The bitch should be in eleventh grade, she's still trying to finish eighth grade and it has been a few years. Did you see the goddamn list of what she wanted if she was allowed to go shopping for an entire day at the government's expense. . .the tab would be nearly three million dollars."

 

"No, she can't want that much . ..can she?" The list is passed over and she wails as she reads everything. "A king-size bed?"

 

"Yeah, because she didn't wike having to sleep sitting up or on the floor of the cell because all her fat fell over the side of the pad and cement block." her boss snorts.

 

"There's events where convicts can get anything they want in a store without paying?" Susan snorts.

 

"Yes, the government or special interest groups pay for it with the convicts taking extra shifts to pay back the money. It was meant for women behind bars to be able to take their kids shopping for school clothes and supplies or for Christmas."

 

"And of course convicts deserve it more than people who work, pay their taxes, keep their noses clean. . ."

 

"Oh yes, the government is wailing about how they didn't mean for law-abiding citizens to feel like they were second-class citizens. It's just that. . ."

 

"Convicts shouldn't be made to feel like they're being punished by being in prison?" David drawls.

 

"Exactly. Dumbass is looking at yet another visit to the medium security dimension to pay for everything she wants . . if she gets selected. And that's a mighty big if, they have to have clean records in the prison . . . the stupid bitch is still trying to finish eighth grade and whining all the time about that and having to work."

 

"Excuse me . . .she's what, twenty?"

 

"Turning nineteen, she was nearly thirteen when she was convicted of two counts second degree murder. She should be a junior, her sister just finished her junior year of university."

 

"I'm surprised the prison is still trying to get her to finish her education."

 

"The bleeding heart liberal groups is using it as 'see how she's turning her life around in prison, you were wrong in putting her behind bars' moment. Or they tried to but she's a stupid oik so they can't. The government is making the school keep her on, because it won't seem right to deprive her of her education. I suspect she'll never finish her damn education. Instead of a fifty some year old woman going back to school to get her education, she'll be the fifty year old woman who's been trying to get her damn diploma all that time."

 

"Oh dear god," Josette moans. "I just saw the bitch working enough to be a damn millionaire and lording it over her sister. ssssseeeee, I've got more money than you. But I won't give you any money because you put me in this miserable place."

 

"The prison would take that money from her for her upkeep." Susan snorts. The others nod. "If the medium security dimension even let her stay long enough to make that kind of money."

 

"Yep, and the prisoners hate her, they won't ever let her get involved in the illegal stuff they do at the prison. . .not to protect her but because they don't want the bitch making money at their expense." The others nod.

 

In the prison dumbass girl is dragged wailing away from the van another prisoner is getting in for her shopping trip, getting backhanded by the other prisoner and being tossed back in her cell.

 

"But the shopping spree should have gone to me, not her." she whines in front of a group of prison employees as yet another reprimand is added to her file.

 

"Why the hell would the spree go to you you fucking bitch? She's a model prisoner and you're not. She's earned that privilege. . .you're a stupid little brat who won't get it through your head that you're not the damn victim here."

 

"Bu. . .buh. . .but the shopping spree should have gone to me." she wails in her jail cell again. "I. ..I'm stuck in this horrible place and my family won't buy me a tv and other stuff. I deserved that shopping spree. . .not her."

 

"Effing asshole." More than one prisoner snorts. "The only thing she deserves is a good swift kick."

 

"Amen." and more than one prisoner gives it to her as she wails around them the next few weeks. She soon shuts up and realizes she won't get any sympathy from the other prisoners. She'll have to make other plans. . .she'll have to get out of this awful place and her family will have to pay for what they did to her.

 

"Goddamn retarded bitch." More than one prisoner says as they beat the everliving hell out of the stupid brat for trying to escape. "I don't care how damn miserable you are here, we're not going on lockdown for weeks on end because you're a goddamn stupid spoiled brat who can't admit she's the fucking cause of everything that went wrong in her life."

 

"So the other prisoners are making your sister miserable." Marilyn tells her niece.

 

"Little bitch is getting what she deserves then. Fucking moron always had to have everything she wanted no matter what." Natalie snorts. "Hopefully they beat her ass half to death ten times a day for the rest of her life then."

 

"Oh yes, the prisoners do not want to be locked in their cells for weeks at a time for her little shit fits about not being able to get everything she wants. The guards pulled her away before they could really hurt her, she's in solitary now for at least six weeks, not even getting out an hour a day to shower and the lights are off in her cell."

 

"Serves the little bitch right. If she ever gets tired of her own stink she can do a cold wash up in the sink over the toilet."

 

"Yep."

 

"Well Mommy and Daddy, was kissing that little bitch's ass all the time worth it?" Natalie asks a couple weeks before going back to Hamberg for her senior year of university. She almost swears she can her a long drawn out wailed 'nnnnnnoooooo' but shakes her head at her foolishness before getting back in her mother's car and driving away from the cemetery. Stopping to get gas she shakes her head at the amount of the multi-state lotteries but buys a ticket, putting down her and her aunt's birthdays.

 

"Ohhhhh, butter beans and turnip greens." she moans a couple days later when the drawing is held and one ticket won the largest jackpot in the history of the game. It had been sold at the gas station where she brought her gas.

 

"Ohhhhh really?" Her aunt drawls.

 

"Your birthday and mine, I brought a ticket when I got gas a couple days ago after going to the cemetery." She shakes her head. "Damn it, now I heard it again."

 

"Heard what?"

 

"I asked at the cemetery if kissing her useless ass all the time worth it. I thought I was hearing things when I heard a wailing 'nnnnnnoooooooo' a few seconds later."

 

"And you just thought you heard it again? I wouldn't be surprised if your father is wailing in the afterlife about how his baby girl is being mistreated. Even after the stupid bitch murdered him. Or that the daughter he ignored most of her life won the lottery and not his baby." Her aunt snorts. She checks the ticket and makes a call. A number of people arrive and Natalie gets her first check just before going to Hamberg. Her advisors and aunt come out a couple times during the semester and she nods at the investment plans.

 

Josette splutters with laughter when she reads the databurst, the others grinning evilly. "Is the bitch out of solitary yet?"

 

"Yes, and wailing like a siren at the loss of all her privileges. She has to eat her meals in her cell now, she can't go to the library, she can't watch tv in the tv room, she has to do all her schoolwork in her cell. . .her family still won't buy her a tv and she lost her commissary privileges for a year. She tried watching tv quietly in the tv room and the other prisoners kicked her. . .they left big bruises. . .but since this is what she did to her sister nobody's doing anything to help her."

 

"Miserable brat."

 

Josette settles in the chair with the books after her show as people start lining up to get their books signed. A few people come in to try to cause trouble and they're summarily removed from the gallery. "Effing fools. . .wailing about how we won't sell our land to them because they need to build monuments to their egos. We shouldn't be able to keep our land. . .they want it." Josette drawls at the looks.

 

"Idiots." More than one person says. The people who wanted to talk to them wail that everybody's being mean to them over the next couple of days. How. . .how. . .how can they be allowed to keep their own land? They want it. They run off wailing because people are talking bad about them.

 

Josette slumps back into one of the couches back on Haven. "One more year." Alan says behind her, bringing up a mug of hot chocolate from the replicator and handing it over.

 

"Yes, and the morons are wailing that everybody's talking bad about them because they won't take hell no for an answer when they try getting the land."

 

"How's the work coming on the apartments?"

 

"Good, there's a lot of interest in the apartments. The owners of other complexes are sulking because they can't compete without actually having to spend money to make improvements to their holdings."

 

"Of course not." Mrs. Bartlett snorts. "Did I have something from Anthony?"

 

"Yeah. . ." Josette 'looks' in subspace and brings out a large package. "He said he's got about three more shipments for you."

 

"Thank you dear." Alan and David move the box to the cart she has outside and walk with her to the Bartlett home to carry it inside for her. Her husband shakes his head at their antics and she sends them off with a light swat to the bottom. They both kiss her on the cheek and laugh.

 

"Boys." she shakes her head as they head off.

 

Josette snickers as she reads the latest databurst from Granda's dimension. "Dumbasses are sulking because nobody's taking their side and gonna force us to sell the land at the few cents they want to offer. They were gonna sue but people with some damn brains refused to take their cases. They're making plans for their magnificent manors on their great spreads of land."

 

"In the second colony dimension? Where the hell are they going to make the money for all that?" Amanda snorts.

 

"Who knows." Josette keeps reading. Then moans and puts a picture up on the screen.

 

"Oh dear god, take that down before our eyes start bleeding." Frances complains. "There's gaudy and there's ugly, but that's a damn category of fugly all of its own."

 

"Amen." Josette sighs. She sends the picture off to the others, getting various comments along the lines of Frances's complaint.

 

"How's Michelle?"

 

"Going to be heading off to university after the first of the year. Schools are accepting students early. Earlier than they normally would but . . ."

 

"There's students old enough to attend school." Principal Madison says. "I don't expect there's more than a half-dozen students in a program."

 

Nods from the others. "No such thing as waiting lists."

 

"No having to share dorm rooms."

 

"I doubt many schools would have dorms open this early, they'd help the students to find off-campus housing." Nods from the others.

 

The second crops are starting to come in when the others start coming out, Josette looks over her shoulder as she is picking tomatoes, Hannah taking the full bushel basket and handing over an empty one. It's put on the cart with the others as she grabs a basket and starts clearing a plant of beans.

 

"You're early."

 

"We wanted to talk about your land and the plantation dimension."

 

"Problems or requests?"

 

"Requests."

 

"We can talk after the Harvest Festival."

 

"Ohhhh, dear god. You fucking idiots." Josette drawls a few days later. The others look at her. "The morons whining about having to learn how to cook, grow their own food. . ."

 

"Oh, those fucking idiots." Calvin sighs. "Oh yes, they're wailing that how can people live like this? Morons are trying frantically find a way to make money in the other dimension and coming up short."

 

"Of course. . .nobody realizes that life on a colony isn't just like life on Earth. . .just you know, another planet." More reading in the databurst. "Oh jeez dumbass, you won't have to worry about living in the other dimension, the others there would shoot you the second you arrived. Now he's trying to steal the land of the others, they have to have found the real money in the other dimension, he wants it. He doesn't want to have to work for his money. . .he's stunned the courts are telling him no, don't they know who he is?"

 

"Goddamn idiot is who he is." Calvin snorts.

 

True to his words the moron wails as he's shown to an area in the other dimension where his supplies are laid out and told to get to work. He can see the houses are just as small as his own will be and everybody has gardens out. He recognizes some of them after a while. . .how did they get so old and so thin? Aren't their people looking out for them for their own money? Where are his people . . .He looks around and slowly realizes he might have made a mistake. The people delivering his supplies point to where the house can go so it's protected from most of the wind, tell him how deep a pit he should dig for the outhouse and how soon he can expect to have to dig a new one, point towards the river for his water supply unless he digs a well and installs a hand pump that he insulates for the winter, and leave. He drops to his knees, covers his face with his hands, and sobs.

 

"Fucking idiot." One of the people watching the VR session says. "What the hell did he think was going to happen?"

 

"Ohhhhh, we have to be funning him about the others not living in McMansions, with armies of little people waiting on them hand and foot. Because he would."

 

He's released from the VR session and lays shuddering on the floor. When he's given the paperwork to join the colony to make the money for what he wants he tears the papers up. The man across from him grins and shakes his hand.

 

"Congratulations on being a damn grown up."

 

"Thank you for knocking the last of the damn greed out of me." he goes back to his three bedroom, two and a half bath home and looks around it in satisfaction. This is what he needs, not to rattle around in some damn mansion. He's got a damn good job and makes enough money to live on well.

 

"I think we found the way to get rid of some of the damn egos."

 

"If more than just him comes out right, we'll keep an eye on him and see if he backslides.

 

Josette returns to Calvin's dimension after the Harvest Festival with another batch of socks for the school and spa, finding Michelle's cousin teaching a class. She agrees the fabric is fugly and laughs at the take the picture down before our eyes start bleeding comment. She'd fallen in love with Town and Albatross, surrounded by people who know fabric like she does and are crafters. She's having work done on her house to bring it up to Albatross and will be splitting her time between the two dimensions.

 

"It's the people with the big names and bigger egos that come up with those damn designs." Jane snorts from the door of the classroom. The other two women nod vigorously. "Then wail like sirens that it has to be somebody else's fault that their precious messter. ..ohhh sorry, masterpiece." Josette says dryly, both women knowing she said what she meant the first time. "don't sell out immediately. . .like the damn sales when a big-name designer I've never heard of before has a line at Target."

 

The other two women nod. "Josette, socks?"

 

"Yes, I've already stopped off at the spa and. . . I have yours in subspace. I also made samples of more socks." She nods in satisfaction as the two women finish putting together a bag for Josette. She walks in the door a couple minutes later and tosses a bag to Calvin. "New socks."

 

He and Maria look them over while Josette and Jane count the socks she's bringing out. Calvin nods in satisfaction. "How are those fool kids in Doc's dimension?"

 

"Wailing in prison they shouldn't have been punished. . .it was just a joke. God forbid the little bastards have to take responsibility for their own actions. Everybody's talking bad about them, the girl and her friends graduated summa cum laude from their school and are making money hand over fist being hired on by top companies. They're making five dollars a week from the one job they constantly wail about having to have. The poor darlings nearly had breakdowns when the warden told them they were going to have to have a second job again if they wanted to pay off all the judgments before they get out. They're up for parole but I don't expect them to get it."

 

"Natalie?"

 

"It's. . .nearly Christmas break her senior year in Hamberg." Josette looks up at the ceiling a minute. "Yeah, she should be taking her finals next week." The others nod.

 

"Granda took all the socks, I brought five new drives because they came out with a shitload of new patterns. Including some that are fancy patterns. I also brought several 'new improved' machines that had the patterns in them."

 

"Can the other machines use the new drives?"

 

"Yes. . .even the ones from Grandpa Charles dimension. I made sure before I brought them. If I had to I could transfer the patterns to different drives for them." They nod in satisfaction. "Oh, the dumbasses are up in arms on Calvin's dimension. . .people shouldn't buy used clothes. . .even for babies. They gotta buy new. . . we gotta shut these evil resale shops down. People with brains told them to shut the fuck up and grow up, babies don't care what they wear. And babies grow so fast. . ."

 

"Most stuff in the used stores are nearly new anyway."

 

"Oh yes, they ran off wailing when their betters proclaimed it's cool to shop at used places."

 

"Oh dear god, I don't miss that nonsense from Earth."

 

"Nope here if somebody wants new it's make it yourself." The others nod. The new patterns are looked over the next few day and while some get 'so damn ugly' moans some are worth making. Agatha looks and moans. "They're 'high art' she says mockingly. "The damn things will fly off the shelves because people with more money than brains will want them."

 

"Exactly, just like the damn thousand dollar socks and two thousand dollar shoes."

 

Josette snorts. "I could put those up at the last show in Granda's dimension and the damn things would fly off the shelves." Josette smirks and makes plans to do just that.

 

"Rein the evil in girl, even if the morons deserve it." Agatha chuckles. "Is Marcus already advertising the last show?"

 

"Oh god yes." Josette moans. "I expect everybody will flock there to make sure they can be seen as being there. I'm bringing out all the books that I haven't already sold here. Including the old ones."

 

"Did you get the next shipment for the buildings from the factories?"

 

"Yes, Clark and Kara finished the interiors of Ma's cabin workrooms. Pat's got about half of her interior finished, including the mechanicals. I put up the staircase. Ninth planet has about the same amount of their interior done. . .including the insulation and wired panels around the window molding. The staircases are in and so are the stoves for the new areas, everybody's getting in wood for the winter so they can finish putting everything together." Nods from the others. "This last shipment should have all the interiors finished, then it will be hooks and shelves and cubbyholes." Nods from the others.

 

"Tables?"

 

"Hank started making them as soon as he heard about the new buildings. If they don't buy them for their buildings I'll buy them for the knitting machines." Nods from the others.

 

Josette disappears and reappears a few seconds later. "Goddamn asshole who owns another apartment complex. I've got to give him my buildings as compensation for him not getting any new renters. He looks bad because he won't get off his ass and do needed work on any of his complexes. Because he owns them in multiple cities."

 

"Slum lord?"

 

"Not that bad but he's one of the fools who just wants the money coming in, not going out." Josette snorts. "The renters do their own repairs and short their rent that amount, he tried suing but since they had records of the work they had done he's sulking. He won't pay anybody to do the work, he'd be out all that money having him on the payroll." Rolled eyes and snorts of disgust. "Yeah, the judge heard his whining and told him to grow the fuck up, I don't owe him a damn thing. He ran off wailing and I fully expect to pick the damn buildings up because the judge totally destroyed him by not giving him my rental property."

 

"People like that need a good swift kick." More than one person in the Albatross Nest snorts. Nods from the others. "They're looking for quick money, not honest money."

 

"Michelle?"

 

"Going to be living in on-campus housing and working part-time. Most campuses aren't opening dorms until they have a need for them."

 

Nods from the others. Josette sends off a message to her business manager and puts it up as they go back to making fat quarters. The shelf is full of them a few days later and they nod in satisfaction. Josette cackles suddenly.

 

"Dumbass wailing about how his life is over?" Agatha smirks.

 

"Yes, the courts are making him hire maintenance men and actually do the necessary work on his units."

 

"Awwwww. . .poo' baby." the others snort.

 

"Yep. I expect the bastard will wail it's too much money and try to declare bankruptcy. Even if he just hires some of the renters . . ."

 

"It would be toooooooo much money." Marilyn drawls. "Because he'd have to buy the materials."

 

"Yep."

 

Josette is busy over the next couple of days bringing out the new machines she brought for herself and installing them. Once they're in they head off to Mom's dimension for the boys show.

 

"Are you still on track to have the printers start the next books year after next?" Alan asks the morning after the show.

 

"Yeah, everybody says they'll do a shift at the printers and a shift at the machines. It might be a few more years to get all the books printed but there's no hurry. For once I'm not looking at a huge backlog of books. Ohhh, I got a backlog but. . ."

 

"Yeah."

 

The offworld harvests come in impossibly early everybody agrees. Maxie looks out the screen as they lift off. She's wanting to go to Ellis's on Earth this winter and wants extra money. The others nod, nobody's running low low on anything but they'll need to make a trip in a few years. She also wants some more of the fabric Josette had brought back from the other planets.

 

Ma and Ma make their own trips out to harvest and nod in satisfaction as their bank accounts grow proportionately. Like Maxie they want to make a trip out with Josette to all the complexes and like Maxie they don't feel comfortable owing a large amount of money.

 

The last of the offworld harvests are in and Josette goes offworld to take care of the recycling and dropping off the last of the orders for the year to the workrooms. She disappears and holds a gun on the stupid fool who'd tried getting her rental properties when he tries hacking her servers to take down her shields. His car is full of 'stuff' that gets him quickly convicted of attempted first degree murder and thrown in the maximum security dimension for the rest of his damn life. Josette's lawyers take everything from him and get a large judgment he still has to pay off. . .he wails that if he could have just talked to Josette as he's tossed through into the maximum security dimension. Where the other cons soon beat the stupidity out of him.

 

In the superhero dimension dumbass is wailing in prison about how mean everybody is to her, the other prisoners won't put up with her shit, the advocates are ignoring her letters, her sister and aunt refuse to do a damn thing for her, and she can't get on the list for the shopping sprees since she won't stop being a spoiled little shit. Not that the shopping sprees are going to be lasting much longer, the government is getting a lot of bad press about prisoners being able to buy everything they want if law-abiding citizens can't. The excuses of 'but the prisoners work extra shifts to pay for everything' isn't making it any better. The government is whining about having to make that available to everybody or get rid of it entirely. When some fool had blubbered that did they want the prisoners to feel like they were being punished they'd run off wailing at the 'yeah, isn't that why they're in there' comment. How can they be so mean to the prisoners?

 

She'd tried suing to make the prison give her as much food as she wanted, trying to claim she was being starved to death. The warden had called her a damn liar and so had the doctors who'd examined her at the court's instructions. How could they not understand that she can't live like this, dear god she weighed only a hundred forty-five pounds when she got out of the medium security dimension. And they'd tried telling her she was still too fat.

 

Natalie looks around Hamberg one last time after putting the last of her belongings in the u-haul trailer attached to the back of her car and drives off. A day later. . .she'd stopped at a couple places to eat or stretch her legs and had slept for a few hours in a rest area until some moron had started pounding on her window and been sent off with a bug up his ass at bothering her for actually resting at a rest area. Pulling into the second parking spot in her Aunt's apartment building and grins at some of the others.

 

"Welcome back Ms. Natalie," One of the maintenance workers says, helping unfold the cart she pulls out of the trailer.

 

"Hello Hans, how are the kids." His wife had twin girls while she'd been home for Christmas.

 

"Getting so big." He sighs. "Is this everything?"

 

"Yes, I can get everything inside in a couple hours and have the trailer gone by tonight before anybody complains about it making the complex look tacky." A woman had sneered at her earlier about driving an old car, very visibly turning white when she realized Natalie and her aunt owned the complex.

 

"You don't have that much." Another complex employee says, looking in the trailer. "I'll grab the other cart and we can take it up in one trip."

 

"Bless you James. I wouldn't have needed to rent a trailer but everybody was giving stuff to the students."

 

"Did you get any sleep on the trip back?" He asks at her yawn.

 

"Yes, I slept a few hours in a rest stop. . .until some little fool came pounding on my window complaining I was resting at a rest stop. The authorities gave him a disgusted look and told him to shove off when he tried getting me arrested for it."

 

"Some people are fools." James snorts. They get the trailer empty and Marilyn smiles as she comes home from work a few hours later to find her niece's car in the other parking spot. Opening the door of their apartment she finds dinner in the oven and Natalie dozing on the couch. She hugs her like she hadn't seen her just a couple days ago at her graduation ceremony. She wishes her brother had lived to be there but like her niece had snorted, it would have taken time from their precious Maddy.

 

"Are you fucking stupid?" A jailhouse lawyer sneers. "No, you can't sue your sister for theft. . .you're a convicted criminal and can't profit from your crimes. Since you murdered your parents you can't get anything from their wills. So yes, your sister got it all."

 

"But she didn't need her education fund. She got a damn full scholarship." she wails as she's tossed in a room and told to get to work.

 

"Moron, your sister got the full scholarship because you killed your parents in a shit fit." The guard snorts. "Besides, that was her money, not yours."

 

"But Daddy said that he'd get her money for my surgery. It's not fair she was able to keep it. She shouldn't have been able to go to university if I couldn't." She whines.

 

"If you got off you ass and finished your damn high school education you might be able to take college classes."

 

"But I don't wanna get an education." she wails.

 

"And your sister does. Because she's not a useless little oik like you." She's blubbering the whole time she cranks the knitting machine.

 

Josette walks into a back as she comes out of her second floor bedroom, blinking as she looks at Godly Clark and Superhero Clark. "You're early, it's not even Thanksgiving yet."

 

"Yes we are, can you get around us? We're going to be working here for a couple days." Godly Doc looks at her.

 

"I'll use the stairs then." Josette says as she opens the door back up again and goes downstairs. A few minutes later she appears coming up the stairs and walks into her studio. She leans back in the door a few seconds later. "Did that fool girl get her damn shopping spree like she wanted?"

 

"No, the courts refused to hear her plea. There's a whole list of rules that the prisoners have to have abided by to get a chance at it. .. none of which she obeyed."

 

"Shopping spree? Prisoners?"

 

"The government and special interest groups in our dimension don't want prisoners to feel like they're being punished so they arrange for days where a prisoner can go out and shop all they want. They meant it for mothers behind bars so they could go shopping for their kids school supplies. It . . .grew. Now the prisoners have to have clean records behind bars, work extra shifts to pay for all that. . ." the list of requirements is rattled off. "This is the fool girl who didn't want to lose all that weight. . .she felt she deserved a shopping trip where she'd get everything she wanted. . .including a king-size bed for her cell."

 

"Oh dear lord." Godly Doc sighs. "Yes, an advocate came to her sister and tried to get her to buy her sister a tv since she. . .and her aunt. . .are the girl's only remaining family members. Her sister refused to buy her a tv and said she was her only remaining family members because she murdered their parents."

 

Godly Doc sighs. Back in the day she would have been a candidate for his college. "After the advocate got back to the office she got a glimpse of the girls list. . .it came to millions of dollars." Godly Doc sighs again. "The fool girl got in trouble at the prison, a woman at the prison was going on a trip and she tried to get in the van with her, she deserved to go shopping. . .not the other woman. Josette?"

 

"Yeah?"

 

"The government is tearing itself apart about how only prisoners get a trip like that, would you be interested in one if they were available to everybody?"

 

Josette snorts and waves a hand. "My shopping trip would make hers look like a piker cause I'd be buying for the planets. And there's nothing there I couldn't either pay for myself or I don't already have on the ships or the replicator." Superhero Doc nods in satisfaction. "They should offer the shopping trips to kids in the system. . .not prison or juvie but foster care, in hospitals, and whatnot. Especially when a kid is adopted." Both men nod.

 

Thanksgiving the back room is full and Pat and Paddy had insisted Jessy bring out copies of her drawings. The wedding dresses are cooed over. "These are classics, not the damn bikini top and long skirt some stores say are wedding dresses." Paddy had snorted. Pat rolls her eyes and waves a hand. "It takes all kinds of fools for the world to go around. I'm sure if they ever grow up they'll be embarrassed as Hell at being married in something like that and they'll have a real ceremony."

 

"No keeping her wedding dress to pass down to her daughters or granddaughters in a getup like that."

 

"No hopefully the girls have some damn sense and realize it's tacky as hell."

 

"Do you girls still have your wedding dresses?"

 

"Yes, they're saved and put up. We'd briefly thought about renewing our vows for our hundred fiftieth anniversary but Susan flatly refused to get pregnant again." The family laughs. "Susan was pregnant with their eldest at their wedding." Principal Madison says in the front room for those who didn't know that little tidbit of history.

 

"We married in May, I turned twenty in August, and Susan delivered in October." Josette says laughing. She disappears and reappears a few seconds later. "Final decision about dumbass's holdings. His buildings were looked over and need a good bit of work, he's being sent to the work dimension to pay for that because all the work needed to be done when he owned the properties."

 

"As they should." President Bartlett murmurs. "So the buildings are being worked on?"

 

"Yep, they hired crews to work on them, the common areas and empty apartments first, then the apartments people are living in, if it needs that much work they can move to the empty apartments while the work is done." Nods from the others. "This little brouhaha is making other rental property owners look closely at their properties and do necessary maintenance to keep from being painted with the same brush as that moron."

 

"About damn time." Calvin rumbles. "But of course only the threat of people talking bad about them will make some people work on their properties."

 

"Amen."

 

In superhero dimension the dumbass girl is sobbing as she looks at the printout in front of her. All that work and she has nothing on the books. How can they only give her five dollars a week from each of her jobs and forty a month from the money she has saved from working in that horrible place where she was starved nearly to death.

 

"Daniels, get your ass out of the cell, you're going to be late for your job. And quitcher whining about not having any money in your account, by the time you can actually get back to the commissary you'll have plenty."

 

"But why can't I have a shopping trip?" she wails to one of the prison's jailhouse lawyers.

 

"Because you're a miserable brat who won't abide by the rules. The government won't buy what you want, no special interest group is going to pony up the money, and there's no way in hell you'd work extra shifts to put the money away for it. You could go to the medium security dimension again . . ."

 

"I. . .I'll do that. I have to have everything I want."

 

"Keep your nose clean for six months after this punishment is over, make a real effort on your schoolwork. . .which includes finishing the damn eighth grade and starting high school, and ask the warden if you can go over there then." She snorts as the stupid brat runs off.

 

"She ain't gonna do it." A guard rolls her eyes.

 

"Nope, she's just trying to show up her sister. See all I got in my cell. . .ohhhh, that's right. . .I'm in here and you're out there."

 

"And there's no way in hell she's going to be able to get everything on the list she wants."

 

"No, there's no way she can get a damn king-sized bed for her cell." The guard snorts. "Now that she's lost all that fat and can sleep on the pad she can buy a couple blankets if she gets cold this winter."

 

"Yeah, before that all her damn whale blubber kept her warm."

 

"But I don't wanna have to work on my schoolwork." She blubbers that night after her tiny dinner. If she wasn't a miserable human being she'd realize her meals keep her full and she's not 'starving' all the time, her stomach had been shrinking over the years she's not been allowed to eat all she wants so a normal meal fills her now.

 

"Too bad." A guard laughs as he walks past. "If you want a chance at getting to go shopping, you gotta do your part. And that includes making a real effort to finish your education." He grins at the wail of pure anguish and keeps patrolling.

 

Natalie gets a letter from the prison, opening it up and doubling over. Her Aunt rushes over then relaxes when she realizes Natalie's laughing so hard she can't make a sound. Looking at the envelope she can't understand for a second why Natalie is silently cackling until she reads the letter and snorts.

 

"There's no way in Hell your sister will do all this."

 

"Nope." Natalie finally gasps. "And it will be her own damn fault." She starts laughing again. "How damn long has she been in the eighth grade? She'll be in her thirties when she finishes high school at this rate."

 

"If she finishes high school you mean. The guard who wrote you says she's whining one minute about you being able to go to university when she can't, when she was told she could take college classes once she finishes high school she says she don't wanna."

 

"Of course she didn't wanna. . .she screwed around for years in school, not going for weeks at a time until the courts got after Mom and Dad. Useless bitch wanted to live off somebody else all her life. Mom and Dad tried getting her on SSI but being fat as a tick and dumb as a rock isn't a disability."

 

"No, no it's not."

 

The lights go up on the buildings on Haven after Thanksgiving for the Lights Festival. Josette had brought out the last of the interior panels for both of the cabin workrooms. Ma and Ma look around in satisfaction as five Josette's bring out the tables from Hank and the boys.

 

"Thank you girls." Both Ma's say as the tables are moved into position.

 

"I'm going out to Ellis's after we plant, you should have the hooks, cubbies, and shelves up by then." Both women nod. "Pat and the 9th planet?"

 

"Most of the interiors done, the lights and whatnot will go in after we plant, by the Harvest festival they'll be finished." Josette shakes her head. Ma pats one on the shoulder. "You okay dear?"

 

"Yeah, just feeling my age for a moment. The quintuplets are going to be turning 100 next year, the babies will be turning 48."

 

"Ohhhhhh yeah, that's a big old reminder of how old you really are. Nobody really recognizes birthdays anymore."

 

"No, it's just the big dates. A hundred. . .the babies turning fifty, us having our hundred fiftieth anniversary." Nods from the two older women. They shut the buildings up and fly off after Ma is inside the house.

 

Josette slides into her seat the first meeting of the government in the new year with a mug of coffee. It's spitting snow outside and Josette looks over as the others start coming in. She nudges David with a foot. "The quints are turning a hundred and the babies will be 48." David winces.

 

"Yeah, that brings it all home just how damn long it's been." Josette sighs. "Okay, anything beyond my kvetching about being old?"

 

"Show?"

 

"Me Mom's dimension last, the boys and me the last show in Granda's dimension, it's a dual show and I'm bringing out all the books that haven't already been sold here as well as socks and other. . .stuff. I don't doubt it will be flying off the tables." The others sigh but nod.

 

"Is Pat's building finished?"

 

"No, she's still got a few panels and lights yet to install, the last of the shelves, cubbies, and hooks will be ready after the Harvest Festival. Same for the 9th planet." Josette yawns around her coffee mug.

 

"Don't start." David mumbles. "I've been yawning all damn morning, not even walking from the school here woke me up."

 

"Today's a good day to nap." Principal Madison says. The door opens and Jasmine sticks her head into the room. "I'm jumping on the 'I ain't having no more stinking birthdays, they make you old' bandwagon." She shuts the door behind her, counting off the seconds until she hears her parents and the others cackling. She opens the door again. "Oh, and Mom, you got a message from the 9th planet as I was coming out. Ma wants you to come out and help her bring stuff off the ships for the new areas."

 

Josette splits off a duplicate and uses the switching station after Jasmine heads back to Archimedes.

 

"I wasn't expecting you this early Josette." Ma says as she walks into the meeting room at JSA Headquarters.

 

"Ahhh, we weren't doing anything but yawning during the meeting and laughing because Jasmine had opened the door and said she was jumping on the 'I ain't having no more stinking birthdays, they make you old' bandwagon her sister created." The others snigger. "Oh I know, I was complaining last year that the quintuplets are turning a hundred and the babies are turning 48 in a few months."

 

"That brings it home. . ." Alan says.

 

"Just how long it's really been. Oh yeah." Josette yawns again and gives her head a shake. "Okay. . ." They head off and Alan, Josette, and Jennie-Lynn are busy bringing boxes out of various rooms after the flyer and wagon are full. Everything is delivered various places and Josette heads back to Haven, sliding into her usual seat at the dining hall for dinner.

 

"A lot of stuff?"

 

"Yeah, Alan, Jennie-Lynn, and I brought out stuff when the flyer and wagon were full. I'm going out again tomorrow to move the machines where they want them and put together the looms. Everybody was tired when we landed." The others nod. The next morning Josette's at the building on the 9th planet after breakfast, though it's the middle of their night and starts opening boxes. Ma Hunkel walks in several hours later and nods in satisfaction, moving a few items or rather Josette moving them for her as she turns to the next boxes. Everything that can be put away is put away and the machines set in place even though they won't be plugged in until the last panels are connected and put in place.

 

"Get everything done?" Principal Madison asks at dinner.

 

"Yeah, Ma was cranking the knitting machine when she shooed me off. I got the fabric out, the yarn out, the machines set up where they want them. When the panels and other stuff is up they'll work on the rest of it." The others nod.

 

In the superhero dimension Natalie holds up a baseball bat as she stands over her blubbering sister in her apartment. "I don't know how the hell you got out of prison but I'll be damned if you're going after me again you stupid little shit." Quickly breaking her arms and legs like the 'security' experts showed her she calls the authorities.

 

"911, what is your emergency?"

 

"Yeah, I got an intruder in my apartment, come get her before I beat the stupid bitch to death." A woman's voice says. "My name is Natalie Daniels, I live at. . . the intruder is my sister Maddy. Who should be in prison for the rest of her damn life for murdering our parents and trying to murder me seven years ago." At another station their boss starts doing a search in the system and finding the information on the women. "I don't know how the bitch got out but I'm going to be finding out." She huffs a second. "Can somebody please call my aunt Marilyn at. . ." she rattles off her aunt's phone "And make sure she's fine? I don't trust my sister not to have to tried to go after her." Another operator makes the call. "Shut up bitch!" she yells away from the phone and the operator can make out another person whining. "You went after me with a butcher knife not once but twice, you're damn lucky I only broke your arms and legs to keep you away from me."

 

"But you got all the money from our parents." can be faintly heard over the phone.

 

"Yeah asshole, you butchered our parents and was standing over my bed with the fucking knife when I woke up. Of course the courts wouldn't give you any money from the estate. Okay, I can hear the police sirens now, I'm going to open the door. And then collapse."

 

"Ma'am, please take a couple deep breaths." the sound of breathing. "Is the door open?"

 

"Yes and. . ." the phone falls to the floor it sounds like. She keeps talking and a few seconds later it's picked up again and the officer identifies himself. She ends the call and shakes in her chair. A coworker pats her on the shoulder and hands her a mug of hot coffee. "I called the number she gave us for her aunt, a male coworker answered the phone since she's in a meeting. He was going to go check on her."

 

"Marilyn, oh thank god." A man sighs as he slams open the door of the meeting room. Marilyn looks at him. "Maddy somehow broke out of prison and went after Natalie." She shoots to her feet, the chair flying backwards. "She's okay, just shook up and the adrenaline crash. She's okay." Her grabs her shoulders.

 

"Are you sure?"

 

"Yeah, she asked the 911 dispatcher to have somebody call your phone to make sure she didn't come after you. I picked it up since you'd left it in your office."

 

"How the hell did she get out?"

 

"Overwhelmed a guard when she went out of the prison for a doctor's appointment, the dumb bitch was still whining the prison was starving her to death. She's been gone for nearly two weeks. At least that's what a government official said when they finally tried contacting you. They were stunned the stupid bitch would try to kill her sister."

 

"Hospital?"

 

"St. Matthews. Aaron's waiting to take you there." He waves at another man. He hurries off after her.

 

"Maddy, Natalie?" One of the men asks.

 

"Marilyn's nieces, her brother's girls. Maddy was thirteen when she went to prison for two counts of second degree murder and a count of attempted second degree murder. She killed their parents and went after her sister, her sister woke up to her standing over her bed with a bloody knife and hit her with a baseball bat. Maddy's supposed to be in prison for the rest of her life without the possibility of parole."

 

"I think we can reschedule this meeting." A man says. The others nod.

 

"Thank you."

 

"Natalie Daniels?" Marilyn asks an officer in the waiting room. Aaron had dropped her off at the doors then went to find a parking spot.

 

"Aunt Marilyn?"

 

"Yes."

 

"Your niece is in here. . ." He shows her into the room. She can hear her niece's voice behind a curtain and rushes in, Natalie crying as she sees her and holds out her arms.

 

"Are you okay honey?"

 

"Yes, I broke her arms and legs just like the security experts at school showed me as a quick way to disable a person. My phone?" She looks around. "I wanna contact Hamberg and have them thank them for showing me how to protect myself. I wasn't one of the rich or important kids that needed the protection, but when they found out what had happened they added me to the sessions free of charge."

 

Marilyn kisses her niece on the forehead. "I'll have the school thank them for you sweetheart. Aaron should be back from parking the car."

 

"How is she?" He asks when she comes out.

 

"Good, she broke Maddy's arms and legs like the security experts at Hamberg showed her."

 

"Good for her."

 

The school president walks into a special building and clears her throat. "Ladies, can I please talk to your instructors for a few minutes? Gentlemen?" They look at each other then at the school's president. She normally doesn't try to interfere with their lessons.

 

"Okay, who worked with Natalie Daniels? she would have graduated last year."

 

"I did." One of them holds up a hand. The others look at him. "She's the student we added to the group without charge, she wanted to learn to protect herself since her sister murdered their parents because her father didn't get the older girl's education fund away from her. They deserved to die for that. Oh no. . ." he looks at the school's President. "Yes, the younger girl who should have been behind bars for the rest of her life without the possibility of parole somehow got free and went after her sister. She broke her arms and legs, called 911, opened the door for the police, then collapsed as the adrenaline wore off. Her aunt just called to thank you. She was able to beat off her sister once because the fool girl weighed over six hundred pounds and while she had weight and momentum on her side. . .she didn't have speed. The prison sent her to the medium security dimension and made her lose all that weight."

 

"So she would have been more dangerous." One of the others nods in satisfaction. "Ladies, please gather round. We have a real life example of why you need to pay attention to our teaching. Madison. . .you should remember her. ..Natalie?" the head of the group remembers them sparring together if she's the student he's thinking about.

 

"Yeah, we trained together a lot. She told me why. . .her sister?"

 

"Somehow broke out of prison and went after her, she remembered her training on how to disable an opponent, called 911, then collapsed when help was there."

 

Madison quickly grabs her phone and dials the number she had for her. . .her family's business did a lot of work with hers.

 

"Hello?" A male voice answers the phone.

 

"Is Natalie okay, I'm a friend of hers from the training group, Madison Dupree?" He repeats the name and a few seconds later Madison has a familiar voice on the line.

 

"Madison, then my aunt got hold of the school?"

 

"Yes, the trainers are telling us about what happened." She puts her phone on speaker and the whole story is told. The trainers nod in satisfaction as they hear what she did to protect herself and congratulate her on remembering her training before she's released from the hospital.

 

"Why the hell were we not told about the escape?" Marilyn asks icily as she holds Natalie in her arms. The hospital had said she was just shaken up and had released her to her Aunt, saying that would be the best medicine for her. The apartment is a crime scene, it will need a good cleaning before they can return so they're staying at a hotel. . .one they own.

 

"You should have been the first people contacted." The family lawyer says icily. "As I reminded the fool sniveling on the phone when he complained that Natalie had hurt her sister. He whined he didn't know Maddy had tried to kill Natalie and murdered their parents, he thought she was in prison for non-violent offenses. He just saw her age and not her record when he okayed her release to go to the doctor. He's a stupid flunky that the state appointed to 'see that prisoners rights weren't violated."

 

"I didn't realize prisoners had rights." Marilyn snorts. "I thought they lost their rights when they went to prison. And Maddy wouldn't be in prison if it was non-violent offenses."

 

Natalie laughs rustily against her aunt's side. "Well, this is definitely going to keep Maddy from the damn shopping spree." Marilyn laughs despite herself as she rubs a hand over her niece's hair.

 

"You're not the only ones complaining about prisoners rights. The government has two and a half dozen eggs on its face. The little bastard overruled the warden who didn't want her to see an outside doctor because. . ."

 

"She's a stupid little shit who thinks anything under seven hundred pounds is being starved."

 

"Yes, the warden cussed the little bastard out when the guard called the prison and told them she'd escaped. He's blubbering that it had to be a mistake. . .she just was confused. I'm already suing him for emotional distress."

 

 

 

 

"Fuck you, you stupid little sack of shit. There's no damn reason to throw out their lawsuit, you're the little goddamn fool who insisted she see a doctor when the fool has seen multiple doctors. . .who have all told her she's not starving to death."

 

"But I didn't know she'd try to attack her sister." He wails. "I thought she'd show up. . eventually. She complained she was losing weight and the prison wouldn't do anything . .." He huffs. Then moans at the picture of the girl as she'd looked when she entered the prison. "Yes moron, we wanted her to lose weight. The stupid girl eats a balanced 1500 calorie diet when she's working. . .she's just sulking because she can't eat several thousand calories a day."

 

"But you won't let her have pop." He pounds his fists on the table.

 

"Because the damn girl would sit on her ass and drink a 12-pack of pop a day. . .and not that diet crap either. And yes, that was a direct quote. So no, the fool isn't being starved." they'd found the car she'd . . .'borrowed' and had found the back of it filled with fast food wrappers and empty pop cans. Now they were backtracking shoplifting and armed robbery cases the route she should have taken from the doctor's office to her aunt's apartment to see if they can finger her for any of them."

 

"You don't think she would have, do you?" he wails. If they can prove other crimes, his job is history. Not that the girl trying to kill her sister isn't bad enough. He can still spin it around so she gets all the bad press for hurting her sister. If they just ignore the fact she tried to kill her again and he can tell everybody she's just a confused young girl who was looking for her sister because she didn't know where she was. . .

 

"Yes, we have a number of shoplifting cases, interestingly enough . ..it was pop, chips, and snack food being stolen. There's been a story on the news about a fast food place being held up and tons of food being made up and stolen. Interestingly enough it was all the same fast food restaurant that had the wrappers in the back of the car. We're waiting to see if any of the employees. . ." A man comes in, waving a fax. "Yes, the employees recognized her as the person who held them up. They're letting us handle the lawsuit since we've got a better case against her for fleeing, eluding, and crossing state lines in commission of a felony. A gun shop was held up by a young woman who'd 'inherited' a gun and needed to know what kind of bullets it took. She attacked the owner and stole guns and ammo. We're waiting on confirmation for that case too."

 

"Oh . . .god." he moans. How could everything have gone so wrong. It should have been just a nice simple visit to a doctor's office, why had she tried to get away? There's no way the other girl will get in trouble for hurting her sister with the sister being charged with that.

 

"Hello dear. . ." One of the other cons smirks as Maddy is wheeled back into the prison once she's been released from the hospital. "Awwww, too bad your sister didn't break your damn neck instead of just your damn arms and legs." She purrs. Maddy whimpers as she realizes she's going to be the 'toy' of the other prisoners until her arms and legs heal. She's not safe in the prison hospital, the other prisoners work shifts there cleaning the building. The courts had decided it was easier for her to be in the prison hospital as they make their cases against her for everything she did while she was out. It's not fair. . .she's already in this horrible place for the rest of her life and they're punishing her for getting what she deserved while she was out?

 

"No, a hundred thousand dollars is a damn insult." Natalie's lawyer snorts at the attempt to settle the case. "If your idiot boy had done more than look at her age and get a hardon about her being punished, he'd have seen that the sister had no damn business being allowed out of the prison."

 

"Weelllll yes." the lawyer whines. "But he thought she was sick and the prison wasn't doing anything."

 

"And again, if he'd read her damn file he'd have seen it was all bullshit. Let alone the fact that her sister and aunt should have been alerted to her escape that night, not two weeks later after she had tried killing her sister again."

 

"Yeeeesssssss." Oh god, what had the fool done? He'd actually read the damn file and there's no way in hell that fool woman should have been allowed to leave the prison. The fool had just seen her age and the complaints about the prison 'starving' her and thought this would make him a big, fat hero. It had made him a big, fat zero instead.

 

"But you can't make me finish school." Maddy wails.

 

"Yes we can you little fool. You're only twenty years old and have your entire life ahead of you. You won't ever get out of prison but you're not going to get away with not finishing high school at the very least."

 

"But I don't wanna get an education." she wails from her bed in the prison hospital where the judges are deciding her punishment beyond the extra years in prison.

 

"Too damn bad. You're getting a goddamn education. I think a masters in education since you don't want to complete your education is a fitting punishment."

 

"And psychology so she learns what a stupid little shit she is." A voice says off the camera screen.

 

A list of degrees that Maddy will have to take once she gets finished with her high school diploma is soon outlined.

 

"Who's going to be paying for all this?" a voice blusters and Maddy sighs. There! The state won't pay for her to get all those horrible degrees.

 

"She will, just like any other prisoner." the first person says and Maddy whines. "She'll be going to the medium security dimension again to make enough money for all the new judgments against her and to pay for all the degrees once she's out of that hospital bed. Ohhh, and needless to say your commissary privileges are revoked for another year. A hand reaches into view and hands her a paper. She reads it and grins. "And the shopping spree you wanted. . .consider it gone." She laughs as Maddy wails about that on the screen.

 

"But why can't I sue Natalie for breaking my arms and legs?" Maddy wails to a jailhouse lawyer.

 

"Because you attacked her asswipe, she just finished the fight."

 

"But it's not fair. . .I'm stuck in this horrible bed. She didn't have to hurt me."

 

"What? She was supposed to let you try to kill her?"

 

"Yeeesssss." she wails. "It's all her fault. If she'd just give me her damn education money. . .she got a full scholarship." Her head rocks at the slap and the jailhouse lawyer cusses the fool girl out for well over an hour.

 

Chapter 4 by josette grover

 

"What now?" a nurse asks as she comes in with the meal replacement shake that will be Maddy's dinner.

 

"Stupid bitch is wailing her sister shouldn't have been allowed to hurt her, she should have let her try to kill her. It's all her fault for actually keeping her education fund."

 

"Dumb bitch, too bad her sister didn't kill her. But I wouldn't want that on her conscience."

 

"Yes. The sister sounds like a decent human being, this little bitch is just a waste of her mother's time."

 

"Her mother was just as stupid. so was the father from how often the fool has wailed 'Mommy and Daddy wouldn't let them be so mean to me'." A guard snorts. "She's miserable because she can't get everything she wants."

 

"Mommy and Daddy were enablers."

 

"Exactly."

 

Natalie walks into the apartment after work and sighs as she hears her aunt humming as she works in the kitchen. She'd been off at that meeting that had been postponed by the attack while Natalie had been at work.

 

"Natalie?"

 

"Yeah Aunt Marilyn?" She asks absently as she picks up her mail.

 

"Did you get a call from the court?"

 

"Maddy was convicted on all charges, she's looking at another two hundred years in prison beyond her original sentence. . .to be served consecutively. . .the court wasn't the least bit happy with her whining that she deserved everything she stole, let alone trying to kill me. And the defense whined but he took her record in prison in consideration when he sentenced her. As soon as her casts are off she's got to go back to the medium security dimension and will be paying off all the judgments. And lose all that weight she put on from stealing all that junk food."

 

"Ha, that will be the hardest part of the punishment for your sister."

 

"Yep." Natalie drawls. "The court ordered her to finish her high school education and get a number of degrees. She's got to pay for that too."

 

Marilyn leans against the doorway cackling.

 

"Yep, she's going to be miserable for the rest of her very stupid life." Natalie drawls. "She's looking at centuries doing grunt work in the medium security dimension because she doesn't have any training in anything. She can blubber about work being hard in prison but it won't be anything compared to the security dimension."

 

"Maybe this will be the kick in the ass she needs to grow up." Marilyn says. She and her niece look at each for for a long minute.

 

"Naaaahhhh."

 

"Letter from school?"

 

"I'm still on the waiting list, they're sorry as hell but there was a problem and not as many students graduated this school year as should have, a teacher couldn't teach a class and they couldn't get somebody in to cover the class soon enough."

 

"This is why the school should have enough teachers to cover classes in case of an emergency." Marilyn sighs. "If this wasn't one of the best schools in the country I'd have told you to stay at Hamberg to attend grad school there. You'd have been safer there."

 

"The letter from the state?"

 

"Dumbass is still trying to lowball me in the case against the state for not doing his damn job in contacting us when Maddy escaped. He's still blubbering he didn't think Maddy would come after me, that she'd show up. . .eventually. His bosses are not happy about him getting them bad publicity. They want the case closed quickly but he's screwing them over by trying to lowball us."

 

"Figures."

 

"Twenty-five million dollars?" he wails in a state courtroom.

 

"Yes, twenty-five million. If you'd done your damn job and actually read the damn file you'd have seen she should never have been allowed to leave the prison. When she didn't return you should have alerted her family immediately. . . not just shrug and say she'll show up. . .eventually." The judge says mockingly. He ducks his head. "Two weeks. . .you waited two weeks to alert her family. . .and were stunned to find out that she'd tried murdering her sister. And then you complained that her sister had hurt her trying to keep her from murdering her."

 

He ducks his head. Yeah, that hadn't been his shining moment.

 

The family lawyer shakes his head as he delivers the copy of the settlement paperwork to Marilyn. "The tax money has already been taken out of it."

 

"Thank you Sebastian." Marilyn will look into annuities to replace that money lost to taxes. Grinning he hands over brochures, he's known her for years.

 

"Oh destroying that little fool was my pleasure. Thank God Natalie had asked the security people to show her how to protect herself and they agreed after they heard what had happened."

 

Natalie settles in her seat at work, then gets up and throws her arms around her old sparring buddy from Hamberg. "Madison."

 

"How you doing?"

 

"Good, my idiot sister is back in prison, the courts were not happy and sentenced her to another two hundred years after her original sentence of life in prison for killing our parents and trying to kill me. She's got to go to the medium security dimension after her casts are off and she's got millions of dollars in judgments to pay off. She's also got to make enough money for degrees. . . the whiny brat doesn't wanna finish high school. The only damn reason she finished the eighth grade . . .after four years was because she wanted to get one of those stupid shopping sprees. The prison told her she'd have to make an effort, keep her nose clean and make an effort at her education before she could ask to go to the medium security dimension to make money for the trip. Needless to say, the possibility of that is long gone."

 

Madison rolls her eyes. The woman with her. . .obviously a relative snorts. "Aunt Marilyn's at a meeting right now, she's due back in a few minutes."

 

"She's meeting with my husband, Madison's father. I'm Alexis Dupree, Madison's mother." The settle on the couch in their office and Natalie offers cookies and pours coffee, handing her friend a bottled water and getting a thank you for remembering.

 

"Are you in grad school yet?"

 

"No, I'm on a waiting list for another year, not as many students as expected graduated this last year. . .there was an emergency and a teacher couldn't teach a class second semester. They couldn't get somebody in soon enough to cover it so they had to cancel it." Madison snorts. "That happened at Hamberg but there was enough teachers to cover the class when she broke her leg getting tangled up in her dog's leash." She tells her mother.

 

"Yes, and if this wasn't one of the best schools in the country and it was family tradition one child in each generation went there, I'd have had you rent an apartment and attend school at Hamberg's you'd be halfway towards your masters by now." Marilyn says from the doorway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Gyah." Natalie sits bolt upright in bed. She looks at the clock and walks out into the kitchen, her aunt coming out of her study when she sees feet walking past.

 

"Natalie?" She asks when she finds her warming milk for a mug of hot chocolate.

 

"Bad dream. I know Mom and Dad had to have medical help to have us girls. . ."

 

"Yes, your mother had to use donated eggs and IVF to have you and Maddy." She looks at her niece. "And?"

 

"I dreamed that somebody told me that your egg was used for me. They were stunned I wasn't some inbred idiot."

 

"No, that would have been your sister." She snorts. "You would have been one of those geniuses you see in the comic books." She chivies her niece back to bed after she drinks the hot chocolate and cleans up the slight mess. While she does think of Natalie as her own. . .the thought that it was her egg and her brother's sperm. . .she's going to have her own bad dreams about that.

 

 

 

 

Josette walks into the dining hall and gives her mates a disgusted look. "I don't know who the hell was watching the cooking shows, but I don't appreciate the damn night of being on Martha Stewart, being on a Gordon Ramsey show, or being on a team on Iron Chef. If I'm going to be on a cooking show I'd much rather prefer it to be Cook's country, America's test kitchen, or the British baking show." David cackles on the table.

 

"Which Gordon Ramsey show?" Principal Madison asks from the front room. "I know it wouldn't be Hell's Kitchen."

 

"Fuck no, the first damn time he threw something around me, I'd throw it right back at him. And I can outcuss him any day of the week." The others snigger but nod. "That new one. . .the one where he comes in and redoes a restaurant in 24 hours, I was one of his crew members that travel the country with him." The others nod again. "Which Iron Chef? The American version . . ."

 

"No the original but all the teams were American. I was the only one who spoke Japanese so I knew what he was really saying. One of the judges gave me a 'I'm ssssssooooo better than you' look until I cussed them out in Japanese." The others snigger, knowing the look that must have been on Josette's face. "They were stunned a horrible 'mercan would know their language. And know it well enough to use some very nasty slang insults."

 

The others snigger again.

 

"Oh dear god, that stupid girl." Principal Madison sighs as he reads the databurst Josette had passed along from Superhero's dimension.

 

"Oh yes, the stupid bitch is never going to get over her me me me, don't you know it's all about me attitude." Josette snorts. "Her sister is better off without her. . .and her enabling parents." The others nod. "Mom says her aunt is more her mother than her mother ever was."

 

The next couple months fly by and it soon starts getting warmer. Windows in the dorm and other buildings are opened for a few minutes at a time to get air in the room. While it really doesn't help with the lived in pong of the dorm it makes them feel a little better. A couple weeks later Josette is at the ranch, spreading manure on the ground once the snow's melted and the ground has dried out a little.

 

Ma and Ma look at the message Josette sent them and head off to their cabin workrooms, opening the containers and untying the shelves. They start laying things out, Clark and Kara find them putting everything up.

 

"You could have called us Ma."

 

"This is just fiddling work, putting it where I think I want it then moving it." They tell them. "You've got better things to do than no, that isn't quite what I want. . .let me put it over *here*."

 

Ma smiles as she gets the message, gathering a bunch of the others to finish putting up the last of the panels and connecting them together.

 

"Now we just need to put up the shelves, hooks, cubbies, and unload the rest of the boxes." Ma says, looking around the room.

 

Pat gets the message and walks out to the building, finding a half-dozen Josettes working on the building, installing the last of the panels. Pat looks around in satisfaction. One comes up from the basement. "Solar panels are charging the batteries, the alternate power is set to take over when the batteries fall below a certain level or there's a large drain on them. You can switch it manually or just let it happen on its own." Pat and Doc nod in satisfaction. "Now we just need to make a trip to the ship."

 

Josette waves a hand. "I knew what you'd want and went out. The machines were from the boxes in the studio. . .there's still plenty more in there." Doc nods as the Josettes start moving the machines under Pat's directions and putting the boxes aside until the. . .a knock on the door is another half-dozen Josettes who start bringing out the tables. Pat starts sorting out the fabric, the yarn will have to stay in the boxes until she has the cubbies set up.

 

On the 9th planet Alan comes out to the workroom, nodding in satisfaction at the tables stacked in the rooms.

 

"Ma, Josette brought out the tables last night, they're stacked in the rooms for now." He says when he sees her at 'breakfast' the next day. She swallows a spoonful of porridge.

 

"We'll go out later and move everything where you want it." Jennie-Lynn says. "This is another step in completing the new areas, the shelves, cubbies, and hooks going up and the rest of the stuff being put away will mean it's finished." Ma nods.

 

A couple weeks later David opens the tesseract to the ship and they fly to Granda's dimension, Josette dropping off the socks while she's shopping with the others. Pat gives her a look when she merges with her other selves, that smirk does not bode good for somebody. Josette gives her an innocent look that nobody. . .not even Maxie and Ma Hunkel. . .believe. "I'll keep an eye on the news." Maria says and Josette just gives her a look.

 

"Are the orders increasing?"

 

"End of the year, I picked up more machines, yarn, and other supplies." Josette yawns. Back on Haven she puts everything in the supply areas of the buildings.

 

"Orders are going to be increasing the end of the year." Josette tells Principal Madison and President Bartlett at lunch. Doc had been waiting for them when they arrived back on Haven so she'd told him and David had been there after all.

 

"Got more machines?"

 

"Yep, I figure I'll have machines on both sides of the ones already set up in both buildings by the time they're settled on the orders. Oh well, that gives us plenty of machines for the planets." The others nod.

 

"Did you take socks and whatnot off to Archimedes?"

 

"Yes, they're already predicting a bad winter. So's the 9th planet, that's why Ma wanted to update the building. And . . ."

 

"What you thought was plenty of room in the beginning isn't now?" Frances chuckles. "We forget how long it's been."

 

 

 

 

In superhero Doc's dimension Maddy wails as she's dragged out of her cell and tossed into a van for the trip to the medium security dimension, trying to hit, kick, and bite the guards until they taze her. She hadn't thought they'd really send her back to that horrible place she wails. . .ignoring the fact that she wanted to go there when she thought it meant money for her shopping. The guards just laugh at her and toss her through the dimensional barrier.

 

Several long millennia later for Maddy she emerges back through the barrier and is led to the waiting room. She's very quiet and her hands and arms red from years of hard work cleaning. She hands over a thumb drive and one of the guards nods as he puts it in a computer and starts to read. "Awwwwww. . . you finally grow the fuck up?"

 

"Yes sir, working for sixteen hours a day for thousands of years made me realize how fucking stupid I was. I. . .I have letters for my aunt and sister apologizing for my stupidity, they're on the drive too." He reads them and nods in satisfaction. "I'll send them out to your sister in a letter of my own, if she chooses to read them it's her decision."

 

"Yes sir, that's more than I deserve." She gets in the back of the van and is handcuffed to a seat. She looks out the window the trip back to the prison, quietly going back into her cell and sighing. Her first step is the desk in the corner of the cell where she picks up a pencil and opens one of the envelopes that is her assignments, pulling down a book and beginning to work.

 

The next morning she walks into the laundry, looking at the pile of clothes that need to be pre-treated before they go in the machines and starting to work. One of the other prisoners looks over at her. "This was one of my jobs in the medium security dimension, after a few thousand years I learned various tricks at getting stains out of clothes." The pile of treated clothes starts growing and the head of the laundry nods in satisfaction as he sees the stains come out in the wash.

 

"Ohhhh, this is so much easier than having to wash everything three times to get the stains out." One of the other prisoners says. She looks at the quiet young woman with her long hair streaked with white in a tight braid down her back. "Thank you." Damn, what a difference a day makes in Daniels appearance. . .and attitude. But it hadn't been a day for her she reminds herself as they fill the carts and start delivering everything.

 

A week later the principal of the school in town looks at the full envelopes of work from Daniels in prison and hands over more envelopes to the guard who'd dropped everything off after looking through the envelopes.

 

"Sir, I need supplies for my lessons but I don't have commissary privileges." she says when she's handed the new envelopes.

 

"Write it down and I'll pick it up for you." She nods and writes everything down she needs, he nods and brings a bag back to her cell twenty minutes later.

 

"Thank you sir." Looking at the clock she heads off to her job, cranking the knitting machine for five hours.

 

A week later the warden brings in the prison's psychologist to talk. "Daniels?"

 

"A very good turnaround, I saw her records from the other dimension, she acted out for centuries before finally realizing that her attitude wasn't getting her anywhere. The longer she acted up, the more fines she was slapped with, and the longer she had to stay there."

 

"Is this change. . .permanent? She's going to work without a fuss, the head of the laundry says her pre-treating the stains means they come out in the first wash now instead of being washed three times. She's working at the knitting machine without a fuss, she's done more work on her schooling in the last week than she did in a year. She's looking at picking up more classes. . .going from the bare minimum needed to graduate to taking extra."

 

"I'd say the change is permanent, she's seen what happens when you don't have the education necessary for the 'skilled' trades in the other dimension. people were coming and going and she was still there. Her parents coddled her her entire life, now she's seeing what real life is like where nobody's kissing her ass and if she wants something she has to work for it. She was given the option of going to the work dimension . . .not to pay off her judgments but to make extra money for her future and she has a nice little nestegg now. I saw a copy of the letters she wrote to her sister and aunt, she apologizes for being a stupid little shit and says she doesn't expect their forgiveness. . . or deserves it."

 

Natalie looks at the letter from the prison. "Hon?" Her aunt asks.

 

"From the prison, Maddy went to the medium security dimension, kicking and screaming, she came back very quiet and immediately started working on her lessons. According to this she went from the bare minimum classes needed to graduate to picking up more classes. She doesn't have commissary privileges yet but if she needs something she just has to ask a guard and he'll get it for her, the money coming off the books. So far the only thing she's asked for is more supplies for her classes, soap, and shampoo. Ohhhh my." there's a picture of her after coming back from the security dimension and Natalie sighs. "she looks old. . .old and tired." her aunt says.

 

"The letter says she was working sixteen hours a day doing manual labor since she didn't have any training for any of the 'skilled' work. I looked into what kind of work they do in the security dimension, Maddy was probably scrubbing floors, doing laundry. . .washing it by hand. . ."

 

"Yeah, there's a note here saying her taking over pre-treating the laundry means it comes clean in one wash, not several."

 

"Making soap. . ."

 

"Yep, the dimension tries to be as self-sufficient as possible." Like her niece Marilyn had seen the article saying the soap they make in the other dimension would soon be available for sale. Idly she wonders if some of the soap for sale was made by Maddy.

 

 

 

 

 

"Gentlemen, this is our smallest incoming year, care to tell me why?" the president of the school says as he looks at his board.

 

"Isabel Windmere's daughter was diagnosed with cancer the night before the spring semester was due to start and we had to cancel her class because nobody could cover it. Only the students who were able to take it the first semester were able to finish their coursework. That was. . ." He looks at his notes, he'd been expecting this talk. "Forty-five of the hundred twenty-nine students in their second year of the program. They have talked to their advisors and should be on track to present their theses in the next year. Unfortunately, it will be another year for the rest of the students to be able to finish their course loads. Next fall everything should be back to normal."

 

"If the remaining second year students and the new second year students can get that class in, there's only so many spots in the classroom." Another man interjects.

 

"True."

 

"Gentlemen, why wasn't there somebody who could take over the class?"

 

"Megan Simpson was on sabbatical, she's returning . . .in two months. I can't say this was a bad time for her to get sick, there's never a good time to either be diagnosed with cancer or have a loved one diagnosed with cancer."

 

"How many students have gotten their thesis accepted?"

 

"That's the other sticking point, they haven't been able to present them in a timely manner since somebody. . ." one of the men looks at another man. "Insisted that his students get priority appointments."

 

"Samuelson, we went over this before. Everybody will get to see the board, your people don't have to be shoved to the head of the line." He opens his mouth and closes it, any excuse he makes about how his students should get treated better than the others will have him lynched.

 

"How many students are waiting to see the board?"

 

"Two hundred and eight."

 

"How many?" the man calling the meeting splutters, choking on his coffee.

 

"You heard me. Fifty were SUPPOSED to get the first spots to see the board this summer because they were left over from the last year but somebody. . ." he scowls at Samuelson. "demanded the spots instead."

 

"Why the fuck didn't they get seen over this year?"

 

"The board couldn't convene, Michaels had emergency gallbladder surgery and had to recover, Jefferson was off teaching. The board could convene with one person missing, but not two."

 

"Are we back on track?"

 

"No, we're still behind. A good half of Samuelson's people were denied. After arguing with the board they went whining to him. . .who went whining to the board. And still didn't get his people their degrees." He ducks his head.

 

"Samuelson, you're banned from dealing with the board and getting your students appointments. You were warned time and again not to do it. Can somebody handle it for his department?"

 

"Stacey, he told most of them they were nowhere near ready to present them but they went whining to Samuelson. Samuelson overruled him and got them appointments, the board told them the exact damn thing he did. The people he did say were ready flew through their presentation." He looks at the other man in disgust. "Your damn blubbering and carrying on kept fifteen people from their appointments, they had to be rescheduled. You might not give a damn about anybody else but ALL our students deserve the opportunity to go before the board and obtain their masters."

 

"Yes, the boards time is precious. . .contact them when they're not seeing students if you have a problem with their decisions." The head of the board says firmly. "I mean it Samuelson, you're not to have any contact with the board or scheduling appointments, if I hear you're bothering them. . .you're fired." Samuelson gulps. . .he hadn't thought his little 'interventions' would actually get him in trouble.

 

 

 

Maddy looks over at the knock on her door. "It's turning colder, time for the blankets to start coming out." a guard says as he hands over blankets from the stack in a cart. Thanking him she puts them on the pad and sheet. It is getting cooler at night and the prison wouldn't be turning on the heat until it was absolutely needed. Even then all the concrete in the cells doesn't mean anybody's warm by any means. This is one of the oldest prisons and not equipped with the fancy frills the 'concerned citizens' who didn't want prisoners to feel like they're punished got in the newer prisons. Of course, they also don't have the massive overcrowding of the new prisons. No dorm style housing here, three cement walls and a thick door with a flap for mail, meals, or to put your hands through to be handcuffed if they're moving you somewhere. Though the last usually happens in the male prisons.

 

Another knock is another guard. "Winter-weight uniforms." She takes the bundles and puts them on the shelf across the room. Her winter weight jacket is there and she checks her boots to make sure they're good for another winter before the timer alerts her it's time to head off for work. A guard is coming her way and he nods in satisfaction as she falls into step with him.

 

 

 

 

Natalie settles in her desk and start sorting through the mail on her aunt's desk in early December, putting it into separate piles.

 

"Thank you dear, anything I need to handle first?" She asks as she walks in.

 

"No, it's all routine. Inspections on the apartment complexes we own. . .all passed with flying colors unlike a lot you heard about on the news." Marilyn nods. "Copies of possible acquisitions from real estate, personally I think the work needed wouldn't make buying them cost-effective." Marilyn looks at the papers Natalie is pointing at, "Requests from local people to support their activities, I put the ones I know we usually do on top. The last two are political fundraisers for candidates we wouldn't support. . .I put them on the bottom if you wanted to send them a piss off note." Marilyn looks at the two bottom sheets of paper and snorts in disgust as she drops them in the recycling bin next to their desks. "the next pile is political candidates who want endorsements from you, their stances are nowhere near any we'd support." She looks at them and they join the other paper in the recycling bin. "This last asshole. . . I sicced legal on him. He's trying to get Maddy out of prison by trying to claim she killed our parents because of abuse. If he'd have actually listened to anybody who lived in the neighborhood, he'd have realized she was the abusive one. He's another one of those idiots blubbering that we stole her inheritance. . .then went wailing when he realized the only person who got anything from our grandparents will was me."

 

"As Maddy would have been the only one who got anything from your parents wills. And she couldn't inherit because she killed your parents."

 

"Yes. . .he magnanimously agreed with me about that. I'm surprised the damn bleeding hearts who don't want prisoners to feel they're being punished haven't tried overruling that."

 

"They'd be lynched by the families of the victims because the idiots are writing tell-all books about how they didn't murder the people they're in prison for killing. . .but if I did, here's how I'd do it." Marilyn snorts. "It came from the son of Sam killings and the books that were written about him." She picks up the pile from real estate and starts reading. Fifteen minutes later she snorts and puts the last piece down. "You're right, while the prices are good. ..unless we can spread the work out over time."

 

Natalie holds up a hand. "I remember reading. . .here it is." she waves her aunt around to read the web page. "What do you think?" The story is about a vocational school looking for buildings to work on for their students. Marilyn writes down the number to contact and places the call. They talk about the possibility of the work being down by their students and soon strike up a bargain. Natalie makes the call to real estate to start the proceedings to buy everything, one of the businesses lawyers rushing in until he sees Marilyn is nodding at her niece and they have plans for the buildings.

 

"How long do you think it will take them to realize I do know what I'm doing?" she asks when he skulks off.

 

"A few more decades." Her aunt snorts. "The old fools did the same thing to me when I was on that side of the desk."

 

"Idiots." Natalie snorts a couple days later. Her aunt looks over at her. "One of the good schools just tossed a student to the curb. She was promised a scholarship. . .was taking her finals for her first semester when the school said. . . .'ohhh, we don't have a scholarship for you for this spring, we're working on one for next fall'."

 

"Ohhhh bullcrap, they're just playing games." One of the businesses lawyers snorts. Marilyn is busy rolling her eyes.

 

"Yep, the scholarship was an academic scholarship. . .the school's sulking because one of their damn precious coaches is mad because he can't force her to take part in one of his damn precious sports teams, she has plans for her future that doesn't involve destroying her life with sports. He saw her playing tennis one day with some friends and immediately tried getting his damn claws in her, she refused and he tried playing hardball. Now the school is whining because they're getting bad publicity. The students who were looking at attending there are looking elsewhere, even the students who were pre-approved. And if students can transfer they are."

 

"I hope the damn publicity makes the board fire everybody involved." Marilyn snorts. "But that's some schools. . .if you can't do anything for us, screw you."

 

"But she would have been perfect for our track team." a fool man whines in front of a board. "But nooooooo, she was more concerned about her precious grades." he sneers. He looks at the board expecting them to agree with him and is stunned to find them giving him disgusted looks. They call him seventeen kinds of fool before they fire his ass and appoint his assistant temporary head of the sports programs.

 

"But I wanted her on the track team." he whines as he takes the boxes of stuff that had been in his office.

 

"And she wanted to concentrate on her schooling. Now you destroyed her damn future."

 

"But the school can reinstate her scholarship next fall. . .the bursar said he would if I got her to join the team."

 

"Why the hell would she come back to the school after what you did moron?" He goes home and puts his applications in to better schools he sneers and is stunned when his phone doesn't immediately start ringing off the hook. Don't they know who he is and that students are only there to bow to his will?

 

"And the girl?" Marilyn asks a couple days into the new year.

 

"Putting the screws to the school for emotional distress. Hamberg looked at her grades and was immediately able to get her into their program. She didn't miss a day of schooling."

 

"Good for her, I hope the other school has learned their lesson?" one of the business's lawyers sneers.

 

"Oh yes, the coach that played hardball was fired by the board, along with the people who interfered with her scholarship. Any of their 'buddies' are being looked at firmly so it doesn't happen again. Old boys are wailing since they couldn't get jobs at other. . .better schools." Natalie snorts.

 

"I wouldn't trust them either." Marilyn says sourly. "They're looking at an incoming class this year that is half of the size of a normal one. And students already there who can are transferring in droves. . .either over Christmas break or when this semester ends. They're also looking at sanctions from the. . .whoever the hell deals with the sports at schools in their league. . ." Natalie waves a hand. "Because if the asshole did that to try to get a student, who knows what else he did?" The others nod. "Okay, is the land ours now?"

 

"Yes, and local vo-tech schools are being contacted to look over everything and make up plans for what needs to be done. They can do it as part of their training, the same thing they'd do if they owned construction businesses and were making up bids." Nods from the others.

 

"Inspections?"

 

"Done before we purchased everything."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Josette is busy on Haven adding chicken manure to the plants that need the extra fertilizer as the blossoms start turning into little tomatoes, peppers, and whatnot. The root crops had already been harvested and were in bins. The potatoes were doing good, Josette is busy sweeping out the large potato cellar for the first of the new potatoes. The seed potato cellar is half-full and Josette lifts her head at a yell.

 

"Yeah?"

 

"Calvin wants you at the school." David calls. Josette flips the broom to where it belongs via subspace and flies off.

 

"Okay, that settles the hash of anybody trying to take the land from us anymore." she says when she returns. "The government did what they did in Becka's dimension, since I have the former realtor dimension, everything I own in Calvin's dimension is now considered the property of a sovereign nation." President Bartlett nods in satisfaction.

 

"Did that fabric bomb?" Mrs. Bartlett asks.

 

"Yes, I told Ellis I'd take it off their hands, if it's anything like last time they'll be paying me to get rid of it." The others nod. "I figure I'll get the call from Ellis end of this year or early next year to come get it. Most of it's going right in the replicators." Frances, Elaine, Suzie, Agatha, Sandra, and Sue, the last four had come to the school to talk over plans for a new class with Frances and Elaine, nod vigorously.

 

Josette cuts the potato tops the next days, the tops going in the compost pile, in a couple days she'll pull the potatoes and put them in the cellar, leaving some to go to seed to replenish the supply in the second cellar. She's not the only one digging up potatoes over the next couple of days, looking at the other continent she finds the cellars there being filled.

 

"Show?"

 

"We're going out next week. I just put the last of the stuff on the ship. We've got the entire gallery for the show. . .we'll need the space."

 

"Is Marcus retiring?"

 

"Yeah, he'll take it easy for a couple decades then when we pop back up again he'll take us on again as his first clients. . .'family tradition'." Josette makes airquotes around the last two words and everybody laughs.

 

Josette slumps onto the couch at the mansion and closes her eyes. "Thank you god that is over."

 

"How many books do you think you sold?" Dr. Cross asks.

 

"Thousands since I had aaaallllll the books out there and they were being sold." Josette moans as she covers her eyes with an arm. "Alan was moving the empty boxes and filling the tables along with the girls."

 

"Yep. . .I moved the empty boxes three times."

 

"Did you sell everything?"

 

"Oh yes, including those ugly ass socks." The others snigger.

 

"Are we picking up the fabric while we're here?"

 

"No, Ellis just put out the notice, I'll come pick it up after Thanksgiving when I drop off the orders."

 

"Twenty-five thousand books. . each. Of the last two books?" Josette splutters as she looks over the total a couple days later.

 

"Yes, I knew you'd sell a lot of them but not that many. You sold just as many of the older books, I saw more than one person coming through the tables picking all of them up."

 

"Are we going to have to start new printings when we get home?"

 

"Probably not, I'll look through the numbers of what I have left, the old ones only sold the way the did because of the hoopla about this being our last show and the so-called special people had to be here to show they're ssssssooooo much better than everybody else." Marcus snickers but nods.

 

Josette yawns as she walks into the dorm, in the hour they'd been gone it had started raining.

 

"Sales brisk?" Doc asks from the doorway.

 

"Yes, we sold out of everything but the books and those took a major hit. We spent the trip back doing inventory, the first list is what I took out, the second is what's still on the ship. I'll bring them back over the next few days, this will give us a chance to clean the rooms." Pat nods as she comes out beside Doc. "Oh dear lord."

 

"Oh yes, we sold nearly a hundred fifty thousand books, a third of that was just the last two. Those are staying on the ship for my show in Mom's dimension later this year. Pat wants to talk to me at the Harvest Festival about what books I'm bringing out for the dual show out there next year."

 

"Four you haven't debuted out there yet plus a selection of the other books."

 

"Yes, if she finds a place for them to be sold I'll definitely have to start new printing runs."

 

"There must have been. . ." Pat begins to say.

 

"People filling bags with all the books? Oh yes. Marcus thought of that possibility and had cloth totes bags for sale in the book room with a note saying five would hold all the books. The books there were already signed and a good chunk of the new ones I'd already signed to cut down on the line. As it was I was still signing for hours after the show."

 

"Did you sell the ugly ass socks?" Bethany's lips twitch.

 

"Oh yes. . .they flew off the tables as high-end art." Josette rolls her eyes. "Pure crap but you know people with more money than brains. I dropped off boxes of books at Ellis's and at the retreat building."

 

"Did you save anything for your other shows?"

 

"Oh yes, I've been working on stuff a lot since I'd have three shows. I'll have plenty for the others." Josette yawns.

 

"Did you pick up the fabric yet?"

 

"No, Ellis had just sent out the announcement before we went out so it's still being sent to him.

 

 

 

Josette sticks her head around the door of the meeting room of JSA Headquarters, somebody is always there. Rick looks over at her. "I dropped off the last of the stuff at the building."

 

"Thank you Josette, Ma was saying it should be arriving soon. The others are working in the growing buildings, everything's coming ripe at once. Thankfully it held off for a few days."

 

Josette leans in Headquarters, one of her aunts at the front desk. "Josette?"

 

"Tell Pat I put the last of the stuff for the building in the building."

 

"Ahhh, Mom was just complaining she needed a project, she couldn't get settled on anything today." Josette is shutting the door when she hears the intercom click on. "Mom, Josette was just here. She says she dropped the rest of the stuff off for the building in the building."

 

"Yes! If I have to move something a thousand times there it won't matter." Pat mutters, heading for the outside door nearest the building. Clark is going to add a tesseract link to it for the winter, for now she'll walk.

 

"Awww son of a buttered biscuit." Josette moans.

 

"Got bit by a project?"

 

"Yes, I'll be out at the cabin." She heads through the ranch and opens the door of the cabin workroom, bringing stuff out and starting to sketch stuff out. A few hours later she puts everything up and heads to the ranch house and joins the others walking to dinner.

 

"How's it coming along?"

 

"I got it all planned out." Josette yawns. She disappears. "Goddamn idiot." Josette sighs as she reappears. "The asshole got back from the work dimension and 'lowered' himself to hire people to bust up the work done on his former properties. . .the renters don't deserve that work done."

 

"Asshole." Principal Madison snorts.

 

"Yeah, one of them was caught when the glass shattered and cut his arm when they were smashing windows. He tried suing me and I kicked his ass, he turned around and sued the bastard who hired him."

 

"Gods, the level of stupidity in prison never fails to surprise me." President Bartlett sighs.

 

"Oh yes, dumbass is wailing again because he's now got to go back to the medium security dimension and pay for all the damages the others did for him. He's going to be there for the rest of his damn life since he won't ever grow the fuck up."

 

"Fools like that never do. They grew up seeing their families do whatever they want and were told they were better than everybody else. The little people should be glad with what they got. They saw Josette being successful, tried stealing her hard work, and are sulking because the 'little' people are calling them damn fools instead of kissing their asses."

 

"Figures. Did that girl ever straighten up in Superhero's dimension?" Mrs. Bartlett asks.

 

"Surprisingly enough she did. I guess thousands of years of working manual labor sixteen hours a day finally got it through her head that she's not all that. She had letters for her aunt and sister when she came out apologizing for her behavior saying she didn't expect their forgiveness or deserve it, she immediately went right to work on her schoolwork when they got back to the prison and not only is working hard on her schoolwork, she's adding more classes beyond the bare minimum needed to graduate." The others nod in satisfaction. "She is working on her jobs without any trouble. . .seems she was doing laundry by hand in the medium dimension and started pre-treating stains at the prison's laundry. The stains started coming out the first time around instead of having to be washed multiple times." everybody in both rooms nod. They've all learned a number of tricks in cleaning laundry over the years. "She's still working at the knitting machine but cranking it to make garments without a fuss. She's still on punishment detail so she needs to be escorted by a guard but they say she's waiting for them at her cell instead of having to yell at her to come out to go to work. She acted out for centuries but I guess finally realizing you're only hurting yourself made her grow up. They actually let her to go to the work dimension, not to pay off her judgments but to make money for herself. She's got a nice little nest egg for the future." Josette looks through her PADD and puts up three pictures on the screen. "Her before she lost all that weight." Dr. Hazlitt moans. "Her when she went to the medium security dimension again. And when she came out."

 

"Damn, how old is she?"

 

"Not yet twenty-one, . .which is why some damn bleeding heart groups jump on the bandwagon of trying to get her out before they see why she was in prison and what her attitude was like in there before now."

 

"Her sister?"

 

"Supposed to be starting grad school in a few months their time. She was on a waiting list after she finished Hamberg and was delayed another year because a class had to be canceled spring semester. . .the teacher's daughter was diagnosed with cancer and they didn't have anybody to cover it. Unless the second year students took it fall semester they had to wait. Add it problems with the board overseeing theses and dissertations, one of them was off teaching for a year while another member had to have emergency gallbladder surgery."

 

"You can have one person off the board but not two." President Bartlett rumbles. He'd been getting his own degrees over the years and knows how the boards operate.

 

"Exactly, so at least fifty students were in limbo until the board could convene again. And then there an old fool at the school who wanted his students to get special treatment. . .the board didn't grant them their degrees and he harangued them. . . He was told to leave the board alone and not be involved in scheduling appointments or he'd be fired. Because a good portion of the people he'd gone after the board about. . .had been told they weren't ready to present their theses by somebody else in his department."

 

Everybody snorts and rolls their eyes. "And while he was bothering them. . .students who really deserved their degrees had to have their appointments rescheduled?" Professor Parker snorts.

 

"Yep."

 

"What were you complaining about stupid schools and asshole coaches?" Susan asks. Josette had been muttering rude comments. That story is told and everybody makes sounds of disgust. "Fucking asshole, thank god Hamberg was able to take her in so quickly mid-year."

 

"They were very glad to thumb their noses at the 'better' school. That school is looking at an incoming class half the usual size and losing students in every year. The asshole is wailing because he thought 'better' schools would come rushing to hire him and nobody wants the fucker. They're also facing investigations from whatever body is over that league of schools when it comes to sports, if the asswipe figured he'd get away from it now. . ."

 

"He probably did it before." Principal Madison sighs.

 

"Yes, because dear god getting an education shouldn't be more important than the damn sports. . .it's the asshole principal from town all over again."

 

"Yup." the teachers who hadn't been there are told about him and they sigh. "Idiots."

 

"Well look at what happens to people when they can't play sports anymore. . .if they didn't get a degree in school or invested their money . .."

 

"They have nothing. While the students who actually cared about their educations are doing wonders."

 

"Your show?"

 

"In a couple weeks, I just took the last of my stuff to the ship."

 

A couple weeks later Josette and the others walk into the empty rooms, waving at the camera that turns to look at them.

 

"Josette's in with the others." James says as he gets the video feed.

 

"I doubt we'll get as many sales for her books this show as she did the last one." Professor Xavier snickers.

 

"No, the sales were like that because 'omg, it's their last show' mentality." Mary imitates Josette who'd been imitating the morons at the shows. Clarinda snickers.

 

Josette yawns around a mug of coffee as Dexter settles down across the table from her.

 

"Are you awake?"

 

"Unfortunately. I had bad dreams I was drowning in that ugly ass fabric from Calvin's dimension."

 

The others snigger. Dexter and the others look at her so she finds the picture and puts it on the screen. "The others told her to take that picture down before their eyes started bleeding." David snorts.

 

"I can see why."

 

 

 

 

Natalie drives to the school and signs up for classes, paying for her tuition and books. It's been a long two years wait but she's on her way to her masters. At home she sits her books and supplies away and starts leafing through the mail.

 

"Congratulations on signing up for your classes." Marilyn hugs her when she returns home. "One of the old fools in legal tried getting your inheritance kept in trust instead of being turned over to you when you turn twenty-five because you don't have a masters yet, since that was never a qualification he's sulking."

 

"That old fool with the bad combover, the one with the big bald spot that has three or four single hairs over it?"

 

"Yes, him."

 

"Old fool hated me anyway, he tried blocking everything I did."

 

"Yes, and his boss gave him hell every time he did. Old fool is one of those who was born miserable and hates young people having a damn thought of their own. He's miserable because he never became somebody in the office. He's stuck at his current position and hates it and everybody. He's got so many complaints about his attitude it's surprising he still has a job. . .we're just keeping him on. . ."

 

"Out of a sense of duty?"

 

"The same reason he keeps coming to work probably. He doesn't have a family, never married. . .no kids. Not even a pet." Marilyn pets a long-haired cat flicking its tail on the bookcase. "I expect him not to come in one day and nobody bothers to have somebody go looking for him for at least a week until they realize he didn't retire, quit, or was fired."

 

"Vacation?"

 

"Old fool never goes on vacations." Marilyn snorts. "He's at work every morning at seven and clocks out at four. His tiny cubicle has nothing personal in it. If it wasn't for the drawer of files and every item neatly stored in it's place you'd think nobody worked in it. There's not even a damn coffee mug."

 

Natalie shudders. "There's neatniks and then there's control freaks."

 

"Classes?"

 

"Two afternoons, four nights since we both wanted me to take a full semester." Marilyn nods in satisfaction. "Since you're going for your masters nobody can complain about you not being at work those two afternoons."

 

"Ohhhhhh, they'll complain but nobody will listen to them." Natalie snorts.

 

Marilyn sighs but nods.

 

Natalie walks into her first class, settling in a seat and bringing out her books for the class.

 

"And shouldn't your niece be here?" A man sneers as he walks into their office.

 

"She's taking her first class for her masters." Marilyn says calmly. "What the fuck do you want Stevenson?"

 

"Oh." he slumps in the chair. "I was hoping to talk to you about your plans for the buildings she brought. You'll never get anybody to work on them. They're just a waste of corporate resources, you never should have let the little fool purchase them." He sneers again.

 

"Local vo-tech schools are already working there, we're just supplying the materials. They'll be doing their best work since this is their grades and should see them hired by companies when they graduate. The communities are giving us tax breaks for redeveloping the properties." Marilyn looks at him. He slumps further into himself as he walks away.

 

"Damn fool." One of the other lawyers snorts. "If it wasn't his idea it shouldn't have been allowed."

 

"Of course, and when the upstart 'youngsters' who do what they want anyway despite his objections and it becomes profitable he sulks. Just like he'd smirk nastily if it had flopped and say this is why you shouldn't allow them to do anything important."

 

Marilyn makes a call. "Smith, I'm sure you know why you're here." She asks when the man comes into the office.

 

"That fucking fool Stevenson. I know he headed off all cocksure of himself and came back with his tail between his legs. Who'd he go after?"

 

"Natalie, sneering that shouldn't she be here then went off about how the land and buildings we purchased were a waste of corporate resources because nobody would work on them and I quote 'you never should have let that little fool purchase them.' He sulked off when I told him that local vo-tech schools were working on them, they'd do their best work because this is for their grades and possible jobs after school and that the local communities were giving us tax breaks because they wanted the areas redeveloped."

 

"Oh dear fucking god, I know he was an idiot but to refer to the second in command at the business as a little fool?" He moans.

 

"Oh please, the fool hates young people. . .it doesn't matter what job they have." One of the others snorts. Smith's phone buzzes.

 

"Boss, Stevenson just started screaming and collapsed." His second in command says. "Medical is here."

 

"Oh dear god." He heads off. "Probably had a damn aneurysm because nobody's kissing his ass." He can be heard saying as he walks to the elevator. He returns to his office. "I think he had a massive heart attack." One of the doctors the business has hired says. "He was gone by the time he hit the floor."

 

"Well, I can't say good because we've got all the damn paperwork to deal with now but it saves me having to fire the little bastard."

 

"Do we wanna know who he went after this time boss?"

 

"Natalie.. . .referred to her as a little fool because he didn't agree with a purchase she made. Called it a waste of corporate funds until he found out that it's being worked on by outside resources. Then he left sulking."

 

"Figures. . .he hates anything that's not his idea." A coworker snorts as an ambulance crew comes up with a gurney and takes the body off. "Do you know his next of kin?" The officer who'd accompanied them to get a statement asks.

 

"Doesn't have one, never married, no kids. No other family as far as we know. His cubicle won't be any clue. . .he has nothing personal there, not even a damn coffee cup."

 

"Oh gods, one of those people." He sighs. "Do you know where he lives?"

 

"Yeah, he rents an apartment in. . ." A coworker calls out an address. "I lived there a couple years when I was first starting out. . .it's a dreary little place and it fits his personality completely. The building manager should still live in apartment 1a."

 

"Does he have an assigned parking spot?"

 

"He takes the bus, it stops at the end of the block." Another coworker says.

 

The man's keys are found and they drive to the apartment building, finding a man yawning as he opens the door when they find the manager's apartment. "Who? Oh him. Sorry I take classes nights, trying to work my way through school." He yawns again. "Let me get the manager's copy of the keys." He ducks into the room and emerges a few minutes later dressed and with the keys.

 

"Is he a good tenant?"

 

"Yeah, for all that he's a damn ghost. Never see anything of him, no complaints about noise, never late with his rent. . ." I don't remember needing to do any repairs to his place and the building's owners inspect the apartments every three months." He unlocks the door and lets them in. "What are you looking for?"

 

"Any relatives. His coworkers said there was no next of kin to notify."

 

"Nope, if he's the guy I'm thinking of he grew up in an orphanage. I got copies of all the paperwork filled out by renters when they take these places. He's one of the longest renters we've had, most people don't stay here any longer than they need to. . .this place is kinda dreary."

 

"Is the apartment furnished?" One of the detectives asks. He looks around and sighs. Dreary is right.

 

"Yep. The renters have to bring in their own bedding, towels, and dishes. There's coin operated machines for laundry in the basement." He says. "Let me go down and see if I can bring up his file on the computer. His is probably the only one that's actual paperwork scanned into the computer." A police officer comes with him, going to the manager's office and not his apartment where he finds his file on the computer and prints it out.

 

"Dear god, if it wasn't for the dirty clothes in a hamper I'd think I walked into a hotel room." One of the detectives sighs.

 

"Yes, the man's coworkers says he was absolutely colorless. I'd say they were right. The dirty clothes are the only thing out of place, everything else is neatly organized. There's no books, no magazines, only the towels and washcloths hanging up or in the hamper shows they're used."

 

"Got his file detectives, he listed his prior residence as a state orphanage when he first rented the apartment. . .nearly fifty years ago. I called the orphanage and any records that old would be in the state archives on microfilm. I put in a request for them." The officer says as he comes into the room.

 

"Any personal letters?" Their boss asks once they're back in the bullpen.

 

"Nope, it's all bills or financial paperwork."

 

"Did he at least have a will?" The captain sighs.

 

"Yes, the folder was marked will and requests his personal items be donated to charity and his money go to his university for a scholarship." the detective answers his phone. "That was the morgue, the autopsy agrees with what the doctor said. .. he had a massive heart attack and was dead before he hit the floor. Not his first one according to the Doc."

 

"The boss say anything?"

 

"His boss says his dying saved him from having to fire him. For all that he was colorless he hated anybody younger having their own ideas. . .sneered at all of them and sulked if their ideas worked or smirked if they didn't. He'd just gone after the second in command of the business because she purchased some properties in various places . . .called them a drain on corporate funds because nobody would want to work on them and said the little fool should never have been allowed to purchase them. He was told that vo-tech schools in the areas are doing the work, they're doing their best work because not only is this for their grades, this is showing what they can do so they might get jobs when they graduate. The communities are glad to have the areas redeveloped, and the communities are giving the company tax breaks. He walked off sulking and the girl's aunt had called his boss. She wasn't there. . .probably the only reason he went up to spew his hatred. Rumor is he tried to keep the girl from getting her inheritance, saying that she didn't have a masters when that wasn't part of the requirements for the trust. ..her father being an absolute fool was and her grandfather didn't want her father trying to get it away from her was the reason it was in trust."

 

The captain shakes his head.

 

One of the detectives gets a call and listens for a few minutes, saying thank you and hanging up. "And that's that. That was the state's records office. There's no records for that orphanage from that time period. . .there was a fire in the eighties and a lot of stuff was burned before it could be scanned into microfiche. The state was not happy that all that information hadn't been scanned yet."

 

"Close the case boys, it was a natural death and if there is relatives there's no way to find them short of one of those unsolved mystery shows." They nod and contact the Daniels group and the apartment manager.

 

That weekend a group of employees comes in with boxes and pack up his personal belongings under the apartment manager's eyes, getting the apartment cleaned up in one morning.

 

"What are we doing with this stuff?" An employee points at the boxes.

 

"I'll close out his accounts, contact social security. . .if the old fool died at least it was after the first of the month, and cut his school a check for a scholarship." Marilyn says. "James, can you handle donating his stuff?"

 

"Yeah, there's a nice second hand store a couple blocks away, I'll drop it off there once. . ." an employee comes back with the few items that had needed to be laundered. "And I'll take care of calling social security, getting his bank account closed, and taking the check to them Marilyn. You've got better things to do and he was my employee."

 

"Hold up, I'll cut you a check for his security deposit plus fifty years interest." The manager says. James takes the check when it's printed and drops off the boxes of clothes, towels, and dishes at the second hand store.

 

"Oh thank you sir." A volunteer says as she takes the boxes.

 

The next day he's in the bank branch mentioned in Stevenson's paperwork, The bank president is off looking up files and calling social security. His last paycheck had been cut and that and the security deposit was deposited into his account.

 

"Sorry for taking so long Mr. Smith, I frankly had no idea who this customer was until I saw the amount in his account and then recognized him. For all that he's a steady customer. . ."

 

"He's absolutely colorless. Oh yes, I know that feeling. He worked at the business for decades yet he never had any friends, he didn't have any life outside of his work."

 

"Oh yes, he would come in twice a month to make sure his check had been deposited and take out some in cash. . .including four dollars in quarters. He had a nice balance."

 

"I'm not surprised. .. he made good money at Daniels and never seemed to buy anything. Unless they were groceries. He didn't have a car. . .he took public transportation to and from work. I called human resources to see if he'd signed up for a life insurance policy through the company and he hadn't."

 

"Okay. . .now this balance doesn't include the last social security check. . .according to them he didn't apply for social security until he could do so and still continue working without losing money."

 

James snorts but nods. Then blinks as he sees the amount. "Oh god, I'm sure his school will be glad to get the money." The bank manager is called away again. "Okay, the last social security check has arrived. Do you need any money for the funeral service?"

 

"No, he prepaid that. And had a suit selected for it."

 

"Then the check will be ready in a few days once these last two deposits have cleared."

 

"Thank you Mr. Barnard."

 

A week later he walks into the administration building of Stevenson's school, talking with the school's president.

 

"Mr. Smith, please accept my apologies. . .when you first called I thought this was. . ."

 

"a practical joke. Yes, I got that feeling." He chuckles.

 

"We went through decades of records until we could find your employee's school records. . ." He hands over printouts. . . including a scanned copy of an old picture. "Oh dear God, Stevenson looked like an old man even back then." He looks at his application to enter school. .. finding the name of the orphanage listed as former place of residence. "Do you know this address?" He points at the current address on record.

 

"Yes, it's a block that was formerly boarding houses back then. It's student housing apartments now." He takes the envelope and opens it. . .blinking at the check once, then twice. "Is this for real?"

 

"Yes, Stevenson had no family. . .or even friends. He didn't buy anything unless it was absolutely needed and lived in a drab little apartment he'd moved into decades ago. Not many people stayed there. . .it wasn't a home it was just a place to hang his coat and hat."

 

"Thank you Mr. Smith and we'll be thanking Mr. Stevenson when this money is invested so we have years of students attending school thanks to him."

 

 

 

 

 

Natalie sighs as she slumps onto the couch in the apartment after her last finals in November. Marilyn's door opens and a man walks out. she chuckles, she'd thought that he and her aunt were sweet on each other. He gives her a look and chuckles.

 

"Do I need to start looking for my own place?"

 

"Only if you want one sweetie, this is as much your home as it is mine." Marilyn kisses her forehead. "Lord knows there's no chance of children at our ages."

 

Natalie snorts. "Aunt Marilyn, you're only twelve years older than I am, you're still well in your childbearing years. And you might want to look in the mirror, your pants are getting a little tight. When was your last period?"

 

Marilyn stops, thinks, looks at her calendar, and moans.

 

"If you are pregnant, I'm demanding visitation."

 

"You'll be just as much part of the baby's life as I am. If I am pregnant."

 

Natalie waves a hand at the bag from the pharmacy. "Brought a pregnancy test at the pharmacy on my way home for you. Piss on the stick in the morning before your shower."

 

"Was this your last final sweetie?"

 

"Yes, I'm done until the first of the year when I start again. I gotta go in in a couple weeks to sign up for the next semester's classes and get my books and supplies. Can I get you two to look over prelim copies of my thesis? God knows with being on a waiting list two years I was able to work on it a lot."

 

They chuckle and accept the thumb drives she hands over. "I'm expecting a lot of students to be gone next semester, the class that a good chunk of the second year students needed to finish their bookwork was full. All the students who just needed that and there was a waiting list of the new second year students if there was room. There were three classes offered and I expect there will be three offered next semester too."

 

"Not all the students are taking full semesters."

 

"No, but they're getting that class in first if they can." Nods from both of them.

 

"Awwww beep beep beep." Natalie hears the next morning. She chuckles in her pillow as she gets up.

 

"Yes, the stick said pregnant, I've got an appointment at a walk-in clinic for the bloodwork and I have a regular appointment with by ob-gyn after the first of the year." Marilyn says when she walks in.

 

"Well, you have that room off yours that was meant as a nursery."

 

Marilyn sighs.

 

Natalie looks up from sorting through the mail and inter-office paperwork at a tap on the door. She looks over at her aunt's sweetie and grins. "The stick said pregnant, Aunt Marilyn is at the walk-in clinic at her doctor's office getting the bloodwork drawn for final confirmation."

 

"Yes, and they said the lab would be calling in an hour." Marilyn says when she walks in. "Since I just needed the bloodwork I was able to go right to the lab instead of waiting to see the doctor." She tells them. "Now, anything important in that stuff?"

 

"Nope. Updates on stuff. . .ohhh, preliminary report on the work being done by the vo-tech schools. Something that old fool Stevenson would be horrified at because they're working on time, under budget, and there's already people looking at moving into the buildings."

 

"YYYYeeeesssss, he hated anybody younger than himself having ideas that actually worked." Landon McCaffrey snorts. "His will was all cut and dried, his only belongings. . .mostly clothes were donated, his money went to his school for a scholarship. You can't say he lived, he just existed. The only time he showed any signs of life was when he was sneering at somebody."

 

"He reminded me of those quiet little people who suddenly snap one day and start shooting." Natalie shudders.

 

"Yes." Landon sighs. He settles on the couch to wait for the call as Marilyn starts going through the paperwork and Natalie looks on the school's servers to check her grades. "Well?" Marilyn asks.

 

"A's across the board. I might not have made the president's list but I would have the dean's." She's congratulated by both of them and the phone rings. "Marilyn Daniels." she says answering the call. "Yes, yes this is her. Thank you." She puts the phone down.

 

"Confirmed, I'm pregnant."

 

"About durn time you announced it." Mona says from the doorway. She's been guarding the inner office for decades. She's also the mother of five, grandmother of eight, and great-grandmother of two. . . so far. "I was beginning to think you didn't kn. . .Oh really," she says when Natalie makes a sound between a snigger and a cackle. Marilyn just gives them both looks. "Yes, I didn't realize until last night when Natalie told me my pants were getting a little tight and asked me when* my last period was? I'll talk to my ob in January but according to my schedule I should be delivering in early may."

 

"Nope, early to mid April." Natalie says absently. Mona nods. "You're beginning to show, that puts you around four and a half months pregnant already."

 

"Yep, the doctors count you as three weeks pregnant the second the egg attaches." Marilyn looks at them. "Health classes at Hamberg." Natalie says.

 

"Having had five of my own." Mona says. "Now, maternity leave."

 

"It's going to be a little hectic here for a couple weeks after you deliver since I'll be busy studying for my finals but after that I'll have the whole summer to handle stuff here until you come back in the fall. By then the baby will either be big enough to be in daycare here in the building or here in the office." Marilyn sighs but nods, she'll want the baby close. "The playpen or bassinet and a changing table can go over there, it's out of the way and nobody should bother the baby. We can add another batch of cloth diapers to the daycare's order." Mona and Marilyn start talking as Natalie gets a call. She heads off and nods at Ellen, Mona's assistant who has taken over the desk.

 

"Madison." she grins, hugging her and nodding at her parents.

 

"How's school?"

 

"Finished my finals yesterday and checked my grades unofficially on the teacher's area on the server." Madison nods, Hamberg had done the same thing before they 'officially' come out. "Straight A's, I might not have made the presidents list if the school has one, but I would the dean's list. Oh, word of warning. . .if this is something that will take months. . . Aunt Marilyn's pregnant. I'll be running the business while she's on maternity leave. Probably from the end of March through next fall. And I'll be studying for my finals two of those weeks."

 

"Oh lord." Madison moans, looking at her parents.

 

"Oh. . .really." Natalie purrs.

 

"Yes." Madison's father wraps his arms proudly around his wife.

 

"So I hear you got into real estate on your own?"

 

"Well the business actually owns the properties but. . ." The story is told as they go up to their office. "So the vo-tech kids are getting actual experience and this should lead to being hired on by companies when they graduate, the communities are getting much needed stores and whatnot coming in, and the buildings aren't sitting there empty for years and slowly falling apart." Madison and her parents nod vigorously. "Real Estate had sent up the paperwork for them but I didn't think they'd be worth it at first until I remembered reading on the internet about vo-tech schools needing places to work on."

 

"Everybody gets something out of the bargain." Marilyn hears as the door opens and her niece, her niece's friend, and her parents walk in. She looks over and smiles.

 

"Yes, I was going to say this venture needed to be wrapped up in a couple months, I hear there's a dual reason for it now." Madison's father chuckles.

 

Marilyn sighs. "Yes, I'm going to have to set up a nursery. I didn't even know I was pregnant until Natalie told me my pants were getting a little tight and asked me when my last period was. I thought I was too old to get pregnant."

 

Natalie snorts. "You're only twelve years older than me, you're still well within childbearing years." Pouring Madison's father a cup of coffee she gets hot water for a cup of tea for her mother and tosses a bottle of water to her underhand.

 

"I never figured I'd be a mother."

 

"Why not, you're more my mother than my mother was. . .she and Dad only wanted to be Maddy's parents."

 

"How is your sister? Can I ask?" Madison's father asks.

 

"Actually doing well in prison, I guess working thousands of years doing manual labor made her realize she's not all that. She wrote Aunt Marilyn and me letters a guard passed along, she went right to work on her schoolwork. . .and it took her over four years to pass the eighth grade before she went to the medium security dimension. She's now partway through the tenth grade and picked up more classes than she needed to graduate. She's working without a fuss. . .in fact her first day back she started pre-treating stains at the laundry and everything's coming clean in one wash thanks to her work. She's still on punishment for another year and some but the prison is impressed with her turnaround. She's not wailing about a tv and whatnot or not being able to drink a twelve pack of pop a day anymore. The prison might allow her to buy food if she keeps her weight under control." She shows them pictures of her when she went to prison, when she got back from the medium security dimension for the first time, and when she got back from the medium security dimension this time."

 

"Oh god, she looks old. . .can I ask?"

 

"She's not yet 21. She was eleven when she murdered our parents and not quite thirteen when she went to prison."

 

"How did she get out, do you know?"

 

"Ohhhh, she wailed the prison was starving her. . .she was losing sssssooo much weight. A special interest group got her out of prison to see a different doctor because of course the doctors in prison was telling her she wasn't starving. She attacked the guard when he removed the cuffs, grabbed his gun and car and drove off. How the fuck she wasn't stopped immediately for traffic violations I don't know. . .she never learned how to drive. . .she was too damn fat to get behind the wheel." Natalie waves a hand. "Aunt Marilyn and I destroyed the moron who got her out. . .he kept bleating that she'd show up. . .eventually. He didn't know she'd come and try to attack me. . .moron was out for two weeks before somebody called and was stunned to find out she'd just been arrested for trying to kill me again. If the fucker had just let us know. . ."

 

"she escaped when it happened you wouldn't have sued?"

 

"Yeah. When he was repeatedly asked why he hadn't told us. . .he kept blubbering he thought she'd show up. . .eventually. He thought she was just confused."

 

"You don't steal a car and a gun if you're confused." Madison's mother snorts.

 

"Or go to a gun shop, say you inherited a gun, ask them what size bullets it takes, then attack the owner and take weapons and bullets. You don't hold up a fast food restaurant and have them make up tons of food for you. . .because she was starving. . .the prison would only give her one tray of food at a meal. How could she live like that?"

 

"Fool."

 

"She was an addict and our idiot parents were enablers. Like our psychology teacher said. . .'you can never force an addict to get clean, it's only when they hit rock-bottom that they will get clean. And stay clean'. And Maddy finally did."

 

Maddy looks up at the knock on her cell door.

 

"Daniels, finals for your classes. Classroom to take them." She follows him off and an hour later is back in her cell. Packing up her schoolbooks in the tote she looks at the time and follows a second guard to her shift at the knitting machine.

 

A week later she gets a letter from the school and opens it, sighing as she sees her grades and a list of classes she can sign up for. . .she signs up for eight classes and hands it to the guard when he taps at her door. He looks at the list and nods in satisfaction, he'll send it to the school. The school has been passing along old books that would otherwise be recycled to save Maddy money in her studies but she'll have to have some new stuff too.

 

Another week later there's a tap on her door.

 

"Daniels, your new school supplies and books. Plus your first assignments." The container is pushed into the room and Maddy starts putting everything away at her desk before going to work.

 

 

 

 

Josette lifts off for the first offworld harvest, Agatha coming up to stand beside her chair as it morphs back into the chair.

 

"Are we going to have a major shopping trip to Ellis's next year?"

 

"No, we're good on supplies yet. The year after that though. . .yeah."

 

"Okay." Josette updates her personal schedule and stands up to stretch. "Is anybody else besides the soapmakers making soap from the books?"

 

"No, we don't have the room to make it. . .and no, we don't need another building for soapmaking." Agatha says firmly. Josette smirks. "The 9th planet people are making their own soap, reason I asked. They're talking about their own building in a couple years."

 

A couple months later she slumps into her seat. "Is everything done now?"

 

"Yes, the last offworld harvest was yesterday. The last crops here are in and the plants being tilled under for the winter. The harvests will be passed out after Thanksgiving, I'll be going out to Ellis's then and picking up all that crap the other suppliers are sending to Ellis.

 

After Thanksgiving Josette arrives at Ellis's, being pointed to the rows of shipping containers stacked five high and seventeen long in groups of seven rows. And there's twenty groups.

 

"How much of that fucking fabric did they make?" Josette moans as she splits off a dozen duplicates who start moving everything.

 

"Tons. . .literally. The manufacturer were sure designers would fall all over themselves to be the first to get their lines with that fabric out."

 

"And they didn't want that crap."

 

"Exactly. They kept putting out press announcements that it was available. . .like the designers and suppliers had missed the 'debut' of it."

 

"They figured everybody thought they'd be too late to get it?" Josette drawls.

 

"Yes, finally they realized they had warehouses of it that nobody wanted. At least with you you can recycle it into plain fabric. Can you handle it? I know it's a lot of containers."

 

Josette snorts and holds up a finger as she brings up two files on her PADD. "This is nothing compared to two other batches of fabric and stuff I picked up." Ellis looks over the pictures and moans. "A quick count says that's 11,000+ containers, I picked up millions of containers on that trip. And. . ." Josette brings up a picture. "Yes, that's Europe. Becka's dimension, when they were bringing out supplies to build a power building and a city-ship, I took millions of containers back to various places in America as they emptied, they needed everything on hand when they were going to start the construction. . .that's why I told Calvin to find a place to build it where they could bring everything in as needed instead of having to hunt through containers for what was needed next. Or having the last items they needed for the ship delivered first." Ellis nods vigorously. "If there was a way for everything they needed for everything to be delivered in reverse order. . ."

 

"So as you needed it it was there as the containers were emptied and moved? Yep. But that would make sense." Josette says sourly. Ellis cackles and nods. "Okay, your other order is there took, that's the batch of containers apart from the others. Josette passes that along to the others moving containers and those are moved to another building on the ships.

 

Josette sighs as she slumps into her usual seat at the dining hall. "I brought back over eleven thousand containers of that shit." In the front room Frances moans. "Ellis says the manufacturers made grand announcements that the fabric was available. . .hoping that the designers were moaning they hadn't been in time to get their order in. . .it had sold out quickly like you see when designers sell at Target. . ."

 

"Not that it was absolute crap and nobody wanted it?" Elaine snorts. "Did you get the rest of our stuff?"

 

"Yeah, that was in another area. It's all on the ship and I'll bring it out in a few days. Yes, that includes the yarn and machines for the buildings.

 

"Did the orders increase?" President Bartlett asks.

 

"Yes, I . . ." Josette looks at her PADD and sends a file to the others. "just sent you the information. The increase will be delivered year after next so we'll have plenty of time to have a little surplus even with making stuff for the other planets."

 

"How are they?"

 

"Ninth planet is settling in for a cold, wet winter. Archimedes is just coming out of theirs and 10th planet is midway through their second planting cycle."

 

"And we're going to be starting our winter in a couple weeks."

 

"Yep."

 

"Building's looking mighty empty with everything delivered."

 

"Are you going to still be on track to have the printers open again next year?" President Bartlett asks.

 

"Yeah, I've got nineteen books finished right now, I've got a dozen more at the 'one last quilt and then finish the book and edit it stage. That only leaves five books in the 'I need to finish these stage. I'll have those done in plenty of time for the next printing run." The others nod. Josette looks at her PADD when it beeps. "And Pat just told me that she found a place for my books."

 

"So you'll be looking at new printing runs after these are done?"

 

"Probably, I have a dozen books at the 'gonna need another batch of these' stage if I had another place to sell them. I'm down to about seventeen thousand each of the last two books thanks to all the 'omg, I gotta have these to show I was here' mentality." The others snigger but nod.

 

Josette yawns as she looks around her workroom the next morning, it's pouring rain outside and it's making her sleepy. She's also at the knitting buildings bringing out the yarn and machines in the buildings for the others to install when the tables are in place. Going eeny meeny she selects one of the quilts to finish a book and settles down to turn her notes into a proper pattern.

 

Ma shakes her head when they bring out a table and see it's still there.

 

"Josette." she sighs.

 

"Not her, the others. They did the same thing at the dorm and Headquarters, didn't want them running out. . .especially this . . .stuff." Mom waves a hand. She starts bringing out the pallet of machines and more yarn.

 

"The orders increased then?"

 

"Yes, we've got a year before the new totals need to be delivered, that will give us time to get in a sockpile as Josette's said more than once." Ma sniggers. The tables are set up and the boxes start to be unpacked, Josette had already registered all of them before she came home they know. The machines are soon up and start running when the yarn is inserted.

 

"Do we have more packing supplies too?"

 

Maxie looks in the large closet that's easily as large as three rooms and nods. "Yep, do we need some?"

 

Ma looks up at the ceiling and the containers filling with socks. "Yeah, better have it on hand than run out while we're packing. If we don't use it the first shift will. The pallets are brought out and emptied, the boxes going against a wall.

 

The 'head' of the first shift nods in satisfaction as he sees everything that has been brought out and set up, Josette had told him how many new machines each building was getting. Checking in with the other building he nods in satisfaction as he sees they're set up too.

 

"How are we handling the printers and the knitting machines both being open?" David asks at dinner.

 

"One shift there, one here. Lord knows we can always pick up more workers." Nods of satisfaction from everybody in earshot.

 

 

 

"Fuck you asshole." The owner of a baseball team in Superhero's dimension yells at a blustering manager. "What did you think would happen when you sent one of our best players down to the minors because that damn fool Masters didn't wike him showing him up? Of course he don't want to come back up here to save your goddamn ass now that Masters in in jail for 180 days for drinking, driving, and causing a massive accident."

 

"But I thought he understood it wasn't for realsies. It was just until I could placate Masters." He whines.

 

"Realsies? Dear god fool, how old are you. . two?"

 

"But I didn't think he'd be mad." He whines.

 

"You didn't think he'd be mad?" The owner says scathingly. "He's gone from a fifteen million dollar contract to making less than fifteen thousand in the minors? Moron, he's suing us to still get his money. . .and I don't fucking blame him. You don't make the money in the minors. . .you don't get big trades in the minors. You're number 28 in the trades and go to another minors, uprooting your life and family if you have one." He continues to harangue the manager until he rushes out of the room. "Goddamn asshole, was kissing Masters ass worth it?"

 

Idiot is the nicest thing he's called over the next few days, the man he sent down refuses to accept his calls and is in talks with the commission to get the manager sanctioned for his actions, be awarded free agent status so he can accept any of the half-dozen offers he's getting, and get the money he was promised in his contract. Which was broken when he was sent down to the minors everybody says when the manager tries to force him to come back.

 

"But I didn't think he'd be mad." The manager whines as he's called before the commissioners and raked over the coals.

 

"Really? You didn't think the best player on the team would be mad about being sent down to the minors because that washed-up old lush Masters is sulking because he's being shown up. Fucker should have been cut loose years ago."

 

"But the fans love him." he yelps.

 

"The fans hate him. . . they're tired of his damn stupid stunts. Or don't you hear the boos every time he comes up to bat?"

 

"I. . .I . .I. . .I thought the boos were because he struck out?"

 

"No moron, the boos start when he's announced. . . they fucking cheer when he's struck out."

 

"That can't be the truth." He yelps. Video is shown of the boos as soon as he's announced and starts playing games instead of getting ready to bat.

 

"In case you don't remember that game, he struck out. . .leaving three runners on base. Thank god the man you tossed away hit a grand slam to bring them all in to win the game. This is the last game he played before he was sent down to the minors, the only person that made an idiot out of Masters was Masters himself."

 

 

 

 

 

Josette settles into a seat at the Tower, Doc looks at her since the others had arrived an hour ago. "Got a request to harvest asteroids for the others." She says at his look. "They weren't low low but this saves them the money of a ship and crew in a couple years since we were on the way anyway. It took an hour for them to go over everything, send payment, and accept delivery." He nods in satisfaction. Pat hands Josette a full pot of coffee in a travel mug and drags her off, she soaks up additional energy outside on the way to where her vehicle has been pulled out by the others.

 

"Did Haven's weather settle down to normal?" He asks David after they've pulled off.

 

"Yes, just like the experts said they would. This is going to be our second year of mild winters, we might get one good storm coming from the other direction every couple years but not the wet, heavy snow or the damn bad storms we have been getting. The experts are saying that the sorting planet is up next, they'll be able to just hunker down and not have to deal with livestock or keep paths cleared all the time. Unless they have a permanent job on another planet."

 

Doc nods. Josette looks over at Pat as they stop at a light and Josette takes a sip of her coffee. "Did that player get free-agent status?"

 

"Yes and that fool Masters is whining because he finally got fired. He blustered that everybody loved him. . .how dare they fire him? Blah, blah, blah. . .the other players are out to get him because they're just jealous. His own agent slapped the stupidity out of him by showing his batting average over the last few years, how they've steadily fallen. Since he couldn't say the other players were blocking him like in another game. . .wellllll, he's whining about how his life is over because everybody's talking bad about him. He thought the fans liked his little stunts. The same thing the idiot manager was blubbering in front of the commission. . .that and he didn't think the other man would be mad. He thought he understood that this was just temporary. Needless to say, they went from leading the league in their division and shoo-in for the playoffs to the absolute bottom thanks to their best player being kicked off the team."

 

"He didn't think period." Josette snorts as she checks the computer's map unit to see how long they have on the trip before she digs out her PADD and shows Pat the picture of all the containers of that fabric she'd picked up at Ellis's. Pat moans and shakes her head but snickers at the 'we've still got the fabric available' messages from the manufacturer, hoping the designers thought it had already sold out.

 

"Was any of it taken?"

 

"Only what that fool would have. . . "

 

"Taken as her cut." Pat nods. "She's probably saying the plebes don't understand her vision or some other rot. Did Michelle's cousin come up?"

 

"Her house is due to come up to Albatross in early spring, the work is done but early winter is not a time to be moving. This gives her time to get in more supplies and see how much room she wants to add to the house. Now if she did a run of fabric it would sell."

 

"Because she's got talent unlike the wannabes who use influence to get what they want then pout when nobody else is interested."

 

They arrive at the place and walk in. Josette looks around and nods in satisfaction.

 

"Ms. Savage, Ms. . ." her voice trails off.

 

"This is Charles and Clarinda's daughter from another dimension Josette Takahawa." Pat chuckles. "Lauren is expecting us.

 

"Yes, she's on the phone right now with a manufacturer. She'll be out in a few minutes. Do you have samples of your books?"

 

Josette hand over the bag she'd brought out of subspace. "Copies of my first eight books. I have a hundred that have debuted in other dimensions, those are the ones that have debuted here. I have another couple dozen that haven't debuted anywhere but my planet yet. I self-publish, usually it's a fifty thousand book run. I thought the friend who told me I'd need that many was cracked but I'm on my fourth print of the first book."

 

"And that's not counting your last big sales." Pat chuckles.

 

Josette snorts. "Those were the idiots buying the books so they could say they were there for the last show in Granda's dimension, that was nowhere near normal sales."

 

The woman standing in the doorway nods in satisfaction. Too many self-published authors think they're so special and expect instant success.

 

"How were your sales? Can I ask?"

 

"Nearly a hundred fifty thousand books, a third of that was the last two books that hadn't debuted over there yet. My agent had boxes of cloth tote bags for sale, a note saying it would take five of them to hold all the books. They were flying off the tables."

 

"So they could say they were there. Yes."

 

"My last show here. . .I think I sold two hundred between all eight books."

 

"Yes, those are more normal sales. You won't live off the sales of your books."

 

Josette chuckles. "I also write fiction under the same name."

 

"Yes, I was trying to figure out where the hell I knew your name from." One of the women crows. "I just brought your latest book."

 

"Like the quilting books I have a lot of books in backlog that haven't debuted here yet, though not for lack of nagging on my agent's part." Pat sniggers.

 

"Problem with something?" One of the workers asks her boss.

 

"A delay on something, more important customers took priority. . .or at least that's what one fool said when our order went to the bottom of the list. I called to find out when the shipment would be delivered and it hadn't even been started yet."

 

"Fucking a-hole." A worker mutters.

 

"Oh yes, his boss was not happy and showed him aaaalllllll our orders, asking him if his 'one-shot' starlet's tiny order was worth pissing off a major customer. He bleated that he didn't know we were a major customer, he. . ."

 

"Never heard of us so we can't possibly be anybody important." another woman drawls. "Idiot was removed from his position and somebody with some damn brains got the job instead." Lauren finishes the story.

 

"Which they should have got in the first place but he knows somebody?" Josette snorts. "Because connections should always trump actual fucking ability."

 

The others snigger but nod. Ms. Savage's granddaughter is going to fit right in here. They split up to start looking over what they have in the warehouses.

 

Marilyn moans at her pre-natal checkup and calls Landon when she returns home.

 

"It's twins." she says bluntly.

 

"Awwww." Natalie grins. "Look in your nursery, then down the hall."

 

"What the hell?"

 

"Your friend Alice, there's five more bedrooms, three more baths. . ." she rattles off all the information. "This way you shouldn't have to move out no matter how many kids you have. I have my own wing now."

 

"Oh dear lord child." Landon splutters.

 

"Not my idea, she insisted. Said I'd need my own study. . ." Landon and Marilyn nod. "My own library so I'm not hogging the living room while I'm taking classes. The babies are going to be loud, I need a place quiet to do classwork and work on my thesis." The two older people nod again.

 

"Macey, you okay?" Natalie asks another woman as they wait for the elevator. She's from the travel section of the company.

 

"Sorry Natalie, I'm just tired. My mother's been wailing at me the last few nights. She can't make up her mind to try to blame me for my sister's sluttiness or say I was right all along." Natalie looks at her as they get in the elevator and push the buttons for their floors.

 

"When I was about your age I had a fiancee, a couple weeks before the wedding I found him and my sister together. . .in my bed."

 

"Oh dear god." Natalie moans.

 

"Yep. I immediately broke off the engagement, returned the wedding gifts, canceled everything we have reserved already, and left home. . .spending a couple weeks with my aunt and uncle and then moving for work. My parents always kept trying to get me to forgive my sister, it was complicated. . .the stupid brat always got everything in life. I worked my ass off for my good grades, she blew through everything. She hated we both got full scholarships, even though we didn't go to the same school. she had a string of boyfriends. . .she finally ended up marrying and had a little girl. Her husband walked in on her and another man. . .now my mother can't make up her mind blubbering that I was right all along about her . . .she's got the damn morals of an alley cat or if I hadn't kept blaming her for everything. . ."

 

"She wouldn't have been cheating because you drove her to it. Figures." Natalie snorts. "Your mother don't want to admit her darling daughter's the damn bad guy here. My mother was the same way, she never wanted to admit Maddy was the cause of all the problems. Dad tried to take my side once in a while, the last time the. . .they were murdered."

 

"Yep, and her daughter has had her life turned upside down. Her mother's been kicked out of their house and her aunt's helping take care of her until they decide what they're going to do. My idiot sister is blubbering and carrying on just like she did back then." The door to her floor opens and she gets off. Natalie heads up to the top floor and grabs the mail and inter-office paperwork from the front desk.

 

"Aunt Marilyn's having twins, she just found out yesterday." she calls over her shoulder as she walks into the office.

 

"You little shit." Mona splutters as Ellen laughs. "You've been hanging around me too long. Boys or girls or didn't she want to find out?"

 

"Didn't want to find out." Natalie says. "Not that Aunt Marilyn is one for those icky squicky pastel nurseries." Mona shudders. "Landon's painting the nursery this weekend and they're going to be furnishing it over the next couple weekends. She's taking the day off with Landon to look over baby stuff."

 

Josette brings Pat to the ship and she moans at the fabric. "What a waste of good quality fabric."

 

"Oh yes." She dials up the replicator's controls and starts shooting the fabric, a twinkling light revealing plain fabric across the room that Pat examines in interest.

 

"Can you add designs?"

 

"Yeah," Josette brings up the screen and Pat starts working. "Now this could be used in dresses."

 

"Yep." Josette makes a couple rolls in different colors for Pat and brings them back to the Tower.

 

"Is that from Ellis's?" Susan asks.

 

"Yeah, we worked on some of it for a few hours. Pat asked if patterns could be added to it after I changed some of it to just plain colors."

 

"Yes, that. ..monstrosity was a waste of good fabric." Pat says. Doc looks at his wife and granddaughter then moans at the picture of the original fabric and what they're remade it into. "Oh yes, that looks much better."

 

Josette disappears and reappears a few seconds later. "Some stupid 'psychic' trying to convince the government to take down the shields on my land, she 'swears' the minds of missing women are screaming at her to save them. The government authorities walked through every building and found absolutely nothing. . .her face got longer and longer, she was expecting . . .ohhhh piles of gold, jewels, something we had to be hiding to keep people from wandering the land."

 

"Flowing rivers of gold and jewels?" Abby asks, rolling her eyes.

 

"Yeah, she run off blubbering that her 'inner eye' might be clouded." Josette drawls. "I told her I knew real psychics and she was nothing but a damn hack."

 

"You can't have the grounds shielded because you want your privacy, oh no." Alice drawls. "You've got to have something they think they deserve to have."

 

"Exactly." Josette snorts.

 

A few months later for them they return to Haven and slide into seats in the dining hall.

 

"How was Superhero's dimension?"

 

"Good, Pat and I worked a lot on the fabric." Frances's head lifts up and Josette holds up a finger and sends off a file.

 

"Ohhh, that's much better."

 

"Pat called the original a monstrosity and a waste of good fabric. Even Doc moaned at the before picture and said the after was much better."

 

"She's right." Elaine drawls.

 

"Oh, it will be on the databurst in maybe a couple weeks, probably after the Lights Festival. . .while I was out in Superhero's dimension I got called to the manor. . . some fool psycho. . ..errr psychic." Josette says firmly, letting all know the first word hadn't been misspoken. "Claimed the minds of missing women were screaming at her to save them. The government police walked through all the buildings and found absofuckinglutely nothing. . .no piles of gemstones and gold. . .there had to be a reason that we didn't want people wandering all over our land. Her face kept getting longer and longer and ran off saying her inner eye might be clouded, I told her I knew real psychics. . .she was just a hack. Because of course we don't want people wandering all over our land because we value our privacy. . ."

 

"Oh of course not." President Bartlett drawls. "You have to be hiding something. Just like the fools who wanted the Mars Colony."

 

"Yep."

 

Over the next couple of days the dorm is decorated for the Lights Festival.

 

"Josette, did you replace the tires on your farm equipment?" Richard asks when everybody starts coming out.

 

"Yeah, the wheel were getting bad too so I just put new ones on and shot the old ones." Richard nods in satisfaction. "We don't have to replace the machines themselves yet for all that all the so-called experts say they shouldn't be working as old as they are."

 

"They're meant to last, it's not something like a car that you'll trade in in a few years." He says. Josette nods. "And we all do routine maintenance to keep it running. Because most farmers. . .even commercial farms can't afford that kind of output." Nods from the others.

 

"Hell, I'm sure Pa would tell you that some years he wouldn't have been able to afford the tires, let alone a wheel and tire."

 

Richard nods. "That's why you were able to pick up farms so cheaply, they had a couple bad years and needed the money." Bronwen and one of the people from the sheep farm nod in satisfaction. "Pa, come in here a second?" Josette calls when she sees him walking past the dorm. Clark must have brought him and Ma in.

 

"Yes Josette, you needed something?"

 

"We're talking about farm equipment and how with proper maintenance it lasts years longer than the so-called experts say. Because not many farms. . .even the big commercial farm. . ."

 

"Can afford to replace them, Oh yes." Pa sighs, taking a seat and Clark stands behind him. "What brought this on?"

 

"I had to replace the tires on our equipment this year and since the wheels were beginning to get bad I just replicated new ones instead of muscling the old tires off and the new ones on. I don't doubt there were some years where just buying the tires. . ."

 

"Was an expense? Oh yes, the farm center in Smallville had a lot of accounts where people were paying something monthly for their equipment because it was the only way we could afford it. And a few years I had to leave Martha on the farm and go take a temporary job for a couple months to get extra money."

 

"Ohhhhh, is that where you went for a couple winters?"

 

"Yes, I didn't do it often as you were growing up but that's what that old camper we had in the barn was for. The extra money went to supplies for the next year, to put money aside to pay off the mortgage, and to pay off what we owed the farm center. A lot of farmers did it. Especially if it was a bad year and we lost money on the crops."

 

I snort as I walk from the powder room. "Yeah, that fool Trump in my original dimension is playing mas machos with Tariffs, a lot of farmers were going to take a hit on the crops they export until he promised them taxpayer money."

 

"Instead of just not having imposed the Tariffs so the other countries wouldn't slap theirs on? Figures." Clark rolls his eyes.

 

"Oh please, this is the same moron who kept blubbering for two years that the Russians didn't meddle in the election, the news corporations are all fake news because they won't kiss his damn ass like his so-called 'real' outlets, keeps trying to get the special counsel looking into Russia fired because he's not kissing Trump's ass, and now is trying to say the Russians are meddling. . .but they're meddling for the Democrats."

 

"Oh dear god." more than one person moans. "Yes, the asshole hasn't figured out yet that the damn presidency isn't a popularity contest like his fucking tv show. Sick thing is I think the bastard's going to win the damn election again because people are fucking stupid and will vote for him again. The bastard is getting rid of everything the former president did. . .because he did it."

 

"Bastard."

 

"Oh yes, and the damn stupid ass Republicans are all kissing his ass. He doesn't want a two-party democracy, he wants a one party government with him in the throne."

 

Jessy shudders. "This is what that asswipe Bush would have wanted in our dimension. Thank you for copying the books on 9/11 for me, it thankfully didn't happen in our world. . .if it did old baby Bush never would have been elected. Your dimension. . ."

 

"Is what might have been?" I say. She nods. "I would like to say that fool would never have been elected but people are just as fucking stupid in my dimension as they are in yours."

 

"That's the human condition unfortunately girls." Pa says as he gets up and walks out of the dorm with Clark. "Their poor dimensions."

 

"Josette has moved to a better one with her new family and Jessy's family has plans to move to a side dimension if things get too bad there." Clark says. "Morons are always going to go into politics, this way everybody can kiss their asses for existing."

 

Ma looks at her husband and son when they join her. "What did Josette need?"

 

"We were talking about how properly maintained farm equipment will last much longer than the so-called experts say and that even the big commercial farms. . ."

 

"Can't afford to replace it? Oh yes. What brought this on?"

 

"Josette had to replace the tires on her farm equipment and since the wheels were beginning to go she just replicated new ones instead of muscling the old ones off and new ones on. And how some years just buying the new tires was an expense. I told Clark about those winters I had to leave to work a temporary job to make money for everything."

 

"I've talked to others like me, I know you wanted me to grow up normally but if I'd had a handle on my powers I might have been able to help out."

 

Ma pats her son on the cheek. "We wouldn't have been able to explain how we came into the extra money Clark. It would have brought too many questions. I don't understand how they were able to explain some things in the comics."

 

"It wasn't meant to be explained." Greta snorts as she comes up to them. "Ask my Josette to talk about Argo City in the comics some day. . .or how Ma and Pa became younger. though they did try to explain that one."

 

I snort as I come over to them. "Depends on the comic, some of the comics Ma and Pa were old when they found the ship, some they were middle aged when he was a baby. A lot of stuff they just comic handwaved."

 

"Argo? Not the planet?"

 

"No, in the pre-crisis comics Argo was a city on Krypton and when the planet blew up a whole city was sent off on one big chunk." Clark rolls his eyes. "Oh yes, in the original comics it was just a street and some houses. . .later comics made it an entire city. Of course we don't know how big the city was. The first stories didn't explain how an atmosphere was brought out with it, it was just handwaved that there was enough gravity that people could walk around and the air stayed in place."

 

"Is that all?"

 

"Oh hell no. At least with the dome they had the machines to clean the air and water and food machines but unless they created oxygen too."

 

"It would have run out eventually. Just like you have to change the water in the fishtanks and keep the bubbler going."

 

"Yeah. The ground turned into anti-kryptonite and had to be covered with lead. . . they couldn't grow food that way so unless they had hydroponics there was no way to make more oxygen. Yeah, I know our bodies only use a portion of the oxygen we take in and most of it comes back out when we exhale but still that air would have turned stale. The air cleaners took care of it but. . ."

 

"That's why space stations had hydroponics, a second source of oxygen. And to clean the air by taking in the carbon dioxide we all breath."

 

"Anti-Kryptonite?"

 

"It's a form of Kryptonite that only affects non-superpowered Kryptonians."

 

Clark rolls his eyes. "Oh yes, people started getting sick within a day and they covered the ground with lead to protect them.. . .now that's something else that bothered me. In one fic a girl died almost instantly from anti-kryptonite. . .or at least before people could rescue her after she fell in an unprotected ditch. . ."

 

"It doesn't kill that soon. Unless the radiation was so great. And a child's smaller body mass."

 

"Exactly. In the comics Zor-El had saved Argo by sending it to orbit around a yellow sun after he sent Kara off, people had superpowers and everybody was saved when passing meteorites blew holes into the lead shielding the ground. Why they didn't put more lead on the ground. . .? They had to be running out of basic supplies, because even replicators need raw materials. In one of the comics Zor-El was scooping the solar system for meteorites and what not for raw material and scooped up Superboy who'd been hit a glancing blow by a chunk of Kryptonite and had amnesia."

 

"They didn't have the lead to shield it again. But if they were in orbit around a yellow sun?"

 

"Some fool mystic sent the city back to Krypton's sun because he wanted everybody to die. It took a month for everybody to die. But Zor-El and his wife were saved by an experiment. He'd tried to send everybody to a dimension called the survival zone to save them in hopes their daughter could release them but it was delayed and while it saved them it was too late to save the others."

 

"Any other complaints?"

 

"Oh yes, the damn planet tearing itself apart but a big ass chunk containing an entire city came apart in one piece? Without killing anybody or damaging buildings? Of course in the comics big chunks of buildings and what not also came up relatively intact. It might have been the relatively heavier gravity. . . because in one of the comic revamps when Clark went back to Krypton after waves of Kryptonite fell on Earth he found a lot of debris hadn't made it past the gravity field and had fallen back in to become a gas giant. . .in time the planet might collapse further to create a solid planet again." The others around them nod. "Now superpowered people weren't supposed to be bothered by anti-K, but a certain imp from the fifth dimension brought Argo City to Earth and dumped all the dead bodies and the city on Superman. . .even that amount of Kryptonite would bother him. Of course this was all pre-crisis and he was nuttier than a dozen fruitcakes thanks to merging with that mystic that killed Argo city and a 'being' that was the Phantom Zone."

 

"Yes, I can see the whole 'comic hand wave'." Clark says, rolling his eyes.

 

"Oh please. . ." Greta snorts. "How many comics had people shooting tons of ammo but the guns didn't seem to run out?"

 

"Not just comics. . .movies."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Josette snorts as she listens to the whining of the fools who'd shut down her security system and got shot at when she's called back to Calvin's dimension. "Asswipe, if you'd never shut down the security system protecting land that belongs to a sovereign nation you wouldn't have been shot at and now being getting in twouble with your bosses." she says scathingly to the asshole whining before she turns around to walk away. He tries grabbing her to whine again and she puts him on the floor. She cusses his fool ass out and walks away. He threatens to have her arrested and she snorts, he looks at the other members of his office and they're all giving him disgusted looks.

 

"Well, if you hadn't listened to the stupid fucker who was stoned out of her damn mind to 'let the voices flow'. . ." the head of his agency drawls. "You wouldn't be whining about being in trouble. Fucking idiot. . .be only glad you've got a mark in your record. I'd have fucking shot you and that stupid ass fool. Gods, what the fuck were you thinking?"

 

"Oh my god, we're gonna be rich and famous, we're talking international sex trafficking." another man drawls sarcastically. "Moron, demanding the woman whose land you were arrested for trespassing on come to the office so you can prance around like a goddamn peacock? If you'd stopped to think you'd have realized this was pure drug-induced stupidity."

 

"But she told us if we stopped to do it legally they'd be moved." he whines.

 

"That alone should have told you it was pure grade a crap." He snorts. "Now we're damn lucky we're not looking at an international incident."

 

"Would she have done that? Could she have done that?"

 

"Yes to both you fucking fool. So quit your damn bellyaching about being arrested for illegally taking down her protections and being on her land."

 

"But she told me we'd be rich and famous." he wails.

 

"And you're supposed to be above that as an officer of the law." The head of the bureau says scathingly.

 

Josette slumps in a chair in Calvin's office. "Oh the fucker who took down my protections and nearly got his ass blew off for it is whining because he got arrested for taking them down illegally and trespassing on my land. He tried being all macho over me because the fucker's sulking about getting a mark on his record. I called him a little fool and put him on the floor when he tried grabbing me for walking away. I scrambled the shields so no commercial unit can open them." The others nod in satisfaction. "Somebody complains we have proof of how our protections were illegally taken down by government agents in an attempt to become rich and famous."

 

"What happened to that fool woman and her 'inner eye'?" Maria asks.

 

"Ohhhh, the media is calling her a damn fool and she's pouting. She's got a damn history of fantastic claims leading her to trespass and destroy property and of psychic visions that was 'warning' her of wrongdoing fizzling out and nobody believes her now. This was supposed to put her out on top, she's so far down the bottom. . ."

 

"She won't ever see the light of day unless she dug down further and came out in China?" Jane snickers.

 

"Basically. Now, how is the charities coming to help everybody rebuild?"

 

"Good, and we're already talking about paying for the children's education. Something dumbasses in prison are wailing about we're still making them look bad."

 

Josette rolls her eyes. "Their own stupidity is making them look bad. I'd have thought the cons would have beaten the stupidity out of them by now."

 

"It's a deep well." Calvin says dryly.

 

"Now, changing the conversation. Michelle's grades?"

 

"Good, she's made the dean's list every semester. She'll be finishing her sophomore year in six weeks. She's got a summer job out there and it's looking to become a permanent position."

 

"Good for her, the other kids?"

 

"Getting good grades at their schools. The next oldest is starting university this fall. Gods, the babies are in first grade already." Calvin shakes his head.

 

"Has the school in town needed to move into the main building beyond specialty classes yet?"

 

"Not yet but they will in about five years. We're already been getting requests to have regular classes here by then."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Josette returns to Haven. "Stupid fucker who thought he's so goddamn special was arrested for trespassing and taking down my shields illegally. Now he's whining and trying to mas machos me. He's a fucking government agent. . ."

 

"Ooo la la." Susan drawls.

 

"Yes, he's pouting because he got a mark on his record for shutting down the shields and trespassing on land belonging to a sovereign nation. . .he was sure this was a reputable bust. .. though there wasn't any damn proof to the dumbass broad's bullshit story. His bosses aren't impressed. . .he should have known this wasn't a good bust. He blubbered that the woman had told him that if he waited, they'd be moved."

 

"That should have told him that it wasn't a reputable bust." Principal Madison snorts. "Yeah, I called him a damn fool and walked away, stupid fucker tried grabbing me and I put him on the floor."

 

"Asshole shouldn't be a officer then. He was just looking for fame and fortune. Your shields?"

 

"Scrambled them so nobody can shut them down. If they complain I got the proof somebody illegally took them down to trespass on my land on a frivolous excuse."

 

"Talked to Dad?"

 

"Yes, he figures the school in town will be moving into the main building in five years for more than just specialty classes. And he figures to have regular classes at his school around then too."

 

"We'd been expecting it." Professor Druid says. "Calvin's school is already getting more students interested in the elective classes he offers, it's just the next step to have more classes. That includes opening the dorms up again."

 

"And students having to take tests if they want to transfer schools." Professor Eppes says. The others nod. "Did he say anything about Michelle?"

 

"She's finishing her sophomore year in six weeks, their time. She's got a summer job lined up that looks to be turning permanent when she graduates. The next oldest is starting university their fall and the babies are already in the first grade."

 

"God, it doesn't seem possible. But it's been four years since she became a boarding student."

 

"But even at six years on Earth. . . She was only eleven?"

 

"With the schools staying open year round and revamped classes students are graduating sooner than they did before the zero-population period and working on blocks of classes instead of actual years. . .Michelle finished all her classes early, she didn't officially skip a year but working on blocks of classes at her own pace. . .it was basically the same effect."

 

"Just like how we taught the kids."

 

"Yep."

 

Josette disappears and reappears a few seconds later. "Oh that stupid bitch 'psychic' wannabe, she was arrested for her bullshit after she was found on their land by another homeowner. She's collapsed wailing in a jail cell that her life is over."

 

"Because they're finally holding her responsible for her own actions?" President Bartlett drawls.

 

"Yep. But there could be bodies buried in their basement. . .I had to smash windows to get inside then kick in doors once I was inside, why else would they be hiding the basement door from me? Ohhhh, you don't have a basement? My bad."

 

"Oh dear god." Professor Druid sighs.

 

"Oh yes, she's stunned a police officer dragged her off and a judge actually read all the complaints about her. She always got off with a slap on the wrist before, but not now."

 

Josette disappears again. "Oh dear god, it's going to be one of those days." Principal Madison sighs.

 

"That stupid fucker who shut down the shields. . .he was stunned he couldn't shut them down again. . . he was dragged off by the police screaming that I destroyed his life. His former bosses had enough of his complaining about that little mark in his file and fired his ass. Fucker's going to be seeing a psychiatrist but I can already tell you he didn't 'snap', he's just trying to get a plea deal instead of facing years in prison for attempted premeditated first degree murder for all the 'shit' he had in his car. Because nobody believes you that you have guns, knifes, saws, acid, a shovel . . .all innocently in your car. Not when you're trying to take the shields down on land belonging to a sovereign nation, one you have a history with already."

 

"Nope." President Bartlett sighs. "Michelle's cousin?"

 

"Going to be bringing up her house in three months, she's going to be splitting the time up with a year or two here, a year or two there. Agatha's talking to her about books."

 

After breakfast Josette heads to the fabric building, picking blossoms and putting the rolls of fabric up. One she strokes like she would one of the cats and puts in subspace. The yarn is next and some is popped in subspace as well. They'd come out before Lights Festival and filled bolts of fabric, finally using up one of the rolls of fabric.

 

Josette returns to the dorm and puts everything away before settling on a couch with one of the cats and turning on the radio for some music. She disappears and reappears a few seconds later, smirking nastily.

 

"Do I want to know?" David asks as he comes into the room.

 

"No, not really." Josette says with a smirk. "Just a bunch of crooks getting the worse end of the bargain."

 

"Serves them right then." David smirks. "Do I wanna know anyway?"

 

"Oh mobsters muscling in the rebuilding efforts of all those people who lost everything in the fire. They wanted to come in and build towns, getting a cut of the building costs, the people living in the houses would be paying through the nose to rent them. . .they wanted to be the only stores in town. . . I took all their money, sent all their records to the police, and watched in glee as they were very publicly arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to the rest of their lives in federal prisons. The government's crowing very loudly about bringing down organized crime while secretly wondering what the hell is going on. Because while they might be taking credit for the arrests, they're not seeing a dime of the money they know is out there."

 

Josette disappears again. Her face when she reappears is a mixture of amusement and annoyance. "Some fool in Granda's dimension wailing because the mall is doing well, the school's businesses are prospering, hell even the damn credit union in town has more accounts than just the kids attending school. How. . .how. . .how. . .HOW can she look her nose down on everybody when they're succeeding at everything they do?" Josette holds the back of her hand to her forehead in a fainting damsel in distress move.

 

David snickers. "And she's miserable about it? Or just miserable in general?"

 

"Yep. I left Granda muttering if they had put stupid pills in the water. Of course he'd been stuck dealing with idiots who wanted him to change everything at the school to suit them."

 

"Of course they do." Principal Madison sighs from the doorway, like Doc he'd come running when he found out Josette had gone off twice. . .again. "There wasn't a week on Earth that I wasn't getting complaints about how the school was being run. Well, you know how many times we were sued by some high and mighty who wanted our rules changed for their precious offspring."

 

"Yep." Josette yawns. "They don't wike that the school in town is controlled by Granda's school. . .there had to be some bribery in the decision to give it to them. Wasn't there anybody else willing to take it over?"

 

"Why the hell would Dad want the fucking headaches?"

 

"Oh yes, when they saw the test results between now and before the zero-population period they supposed that taking over the school was good for the students. But can't you offer the same classes in town so they don't have to switch schools? "

 

"Ummm no, that's why Dad's school is one of the best in the country." Josette disappears again.

 

"Catch you at a bad time?" The Josette from Superhero's dimension asks the shield around the other Josette.

 

"Sorry about that, this is the fifth time I've been called away today. . .and it's not even lunch yet." Josette says sourly as she drops her shield.

 

"Do I want to know?" Pat asks from the doorway.

 

"No, not really. First time was that stupid ass psycho. . .err psychic." Josette says firmly. the sniggering she hears lets her know the intercom's on. "She was arrested after breaking windows to get into a home then started kicking in doors because bodies are buried in the basement, why else would they be hiding the door from her? Ohhhh, you don't have a basement. . . my bad." Pat and Josette sigh while a electronic moan tells her the other Josette is listening in too. "Ohhh yes, she's miserable because she's being punished for her shit now instead of just getting a slap on the wrist, the judge is taking all her other stunts into consideration. The second time was that fool government officer, he can't live with a mark in his record. . .he stole a control to take the shields down again when he was fired because his bosses were tired of his nonsense, he was found screaming at the shields frantically trying to take them down. His car was full of knives, guns, rope, acid. . . he was convicted of attempted first degree murder."

 

"There's no way all that would innocently be in a vehicle." Kent sighs. Richard and Doc nod.

 

"The other times?" Josette Savage the second asks as the walk down the hallway in the Tower.

 

"Organized crime was trying to muscle in on the rebuilding from the fire, they built a town but they wanted to charge exorbitant rent to live there and wanted everything to be supplied by them. I took all their money and whatnot, sent all their records to the authorities, and they're facing years in a federal prison. The government is crowing about taking a tough stance on organized crime but they're secretly upset, they get the big busts but they don't get the profits they know the gangs have and they want them so badly their teeth itch."

 

"And the fourth time?"

 

Josette rolls her eyes. "Some fool woman was complaining about how everything is running well at the school and the mall. How can they do that to her? How can she sneer and look down her nose at them if everything's going well? She's just miserable about it, or maybe just miserable period."

 

Pat says something rude.

 

"Yeah, Granda was asking if they put stupid pills in the water because some fools are whining about his classes, can't he just offer them at the school in town since he runs it too instead of students switching? And why was he given control of the school? Wasn't there anybody else who could take it over? Was there a reason he got the school?"

 

"Yes, and the reason was nobody else wanted it." Richard snorts as they walk into the briefing room. "Sorry to call you back Josette, but we have a problem."

 

"First, drink this." Mara says, bringing a bottle over. Shrugging Josette drinks it. "Okay, for some weeks we've heard rumors in the underworld about a new gang muscling in and trying to take over. Now they supposedly call themselves the squadron of awesome. . ." Josette lays her head on the table and cackles. "Oh dear god. . .the squadroM of awesome evildoers, bad to the bone for sixteen generations?" She emphasizes the M at the end of the first word.

 

"Yes? Josette?"

 

"I did that for a creative writing class at Hamberg." She takes the folders and looks through them. Then sighs and motions for the phone. Looking through her personal numbers she dials one.

 

"Well, that explains how only the 'evil eye of the supreme Librarian, our beloved founder Josette Takahawa' can stop their plans." Clarinda snorts. Pat has her eyes covered and is laughing despite herself.

 

"Janice Kilgallen's office, can I take a message?"

 

"This is Josette Takahawa, we had classes together at Hamberg and my family's high in the government too, can You please get her on the phone if at all possible. . . tell her that somebody is hearing rumors about the Squadrom of awesome evildoers is trying to take over the criminal underworld?" Josette hits the button to put the phone on speaker.

 

The sound of spluttering. . ."Josette? Say what?" a different voice comes over the line.

 

"Yes, I'm seeing paperwork from at least thirty-three local and state police departments and . . ." Pat holds up a hand, palm out three different times. "fifteen federal agencies." She covers her face and sighs before looking up at the ceiling in a 'why me lord' look that everybody recognizes.

 

"Excuse me. . .Mom, Dad, Jackson. . .if one of you are near Baxter, smack him. . .hard." Janice yells away from the phone.

 

"Why did your idiot brother just take off running?" A female voice asks.

 

"Somehow a creative writing exercise I wrote at Hamberg with another student is now trying to take over the criminal underworld."

 

"Yes, that sounds like one of your idiot brother's stunts."

 

"Yes, but now we have to explain everything to state, local, and federal agencies." The sound of muffled guffaws.

 

"Josette?"

 

"My family is reading the personnel files now that they know they're not real and getting to the jokes we put in there." Josette looks at the others. "The visiting teacher really didn't like we made a complete farce of her oh so precious exercise but the president of the school laughed her ass off."

 

"Yes, I recognize Rebecca now." Mara says. Josette looks over. "No, that's her secretary Macallen, President Baxter is. . .Richard's got her file. Third one down." He holds one up and she nods. Mara takes it and begins to read, snickering. "Kent, step away from the coffee for the next one, your lungs will thank you. Amilie's." She tells Janice. Who starts guffawing herself.

 

"Freezes time in a localized area because her face can stop any clock?" He asks dryly. On the other end of the phone Janice's parents look at her daughter.

 

"Amilie was a floormate of ours and had terrible bedhead." Janice chuckles.

 

"Oh yes, we all pretended to be scared of her when we had pajama parties at the dorm. She hammed it up and pretended to be a monster out to get us. She'd lured us in with her sweet innocent act and cooking skills and was going to eat our souls. Or at least catch us and blow raspberries on our necks." Josette puts her head back down on the table again. "Damn it."

 

"Bunnies jump you?" Janice asks.

 

"A whole fucking squadron. . .errr, SquadroM of them." she says firmly. Janice snickers. "Hand me over to your grandfather, my family's nearly as high up in the government as yours, between the two of us we can start sorting this out."

 

"I'm here, Josette had you on speaker."

 

"And you're on speaker here too."

 

"Josette, don't leave the Tower, the agencies are allowing you to stay here while they investigate rather than put you in jail."

 

Josette wanders off to start writing the scenarios running through her head down before she loses them.

 

Janice gives her blubbering idiot brother a disgusted look. "Moron, you could have had her arrested." His father snorts.

 

"But it was supposed to be a joke! I didn't think anybody would believe that story. I wanted Janice to look stupid. . ." His mother slaps the hell out of him and cusses him out. His father drags him off and proves he's not too big to get a licking.

 

"I apologize for my stupid ass son Dr. Savage, he swears he didn't think anybody would take it seriously but wanted his sister to look stupid when they finally broke in and drug her off. He meant for it to be another stupid ass stunt of his. . .nobody would be hurt. Janice would be dragged away and tossed in jail or even prison, then when they finally started looking for the crimes they would find they never happened and even though Janice was innocent. . .the publicity against her would be horrible. It would serve her right for not thinking he's . . ."

 

"All that and a bag of chips?" Pat snorts.

 

"Oh yes, the little brat wants to be known as the best prankster in the world. . .moron doesn't realize people got better things to do in their lives than pay homage to the little fool. I've had enough of his shit and I'm about ready to beat him to death. Before he pulls a damn stunt on the wrong person and they either destroy him in court or just beat his stupid ass."

 

"Can she do that?" Janice's brother wails as he's slapped with a lawsuit for theft of intellectual property and emotional distress.

 

"Yes shithead, if her family wasn't as big in the government as yours and she could be under 'house arrest' she'd be sitting in a jail cell wondering what the hell was going on until they investigated and found the rumors were just that. . .stories. Or isn't this what you wanted for your sister?"

 

"But I didn't mean for anybody to be hurt." he bleats.

 

"Bullshit, you figured you'd make your sister look like an idiot because you don't like how she won't kiss your ass because of your damn pranks. Grow up you stupid little sack of shit."

 

A couple weeks later the agencies wander off both thankful that this wasn't real and moaning about how easily they'd been taken in. Baxter had gotten a number of severe lectures from the agencies and his family before Josette heads back to the dorm.

 

 

 

She looks at David in disgust as he guffaws at her sour look about being bunnied and splits off a duplicate to bring out that file and start working on the outlines. Josette returns from lunch fervently praying she won't be dragged off again and walks into her workroom, finally grabbing a bag and laying everything out so she can turn her notes and drawings into a proper pattern. Pat walks into the room. "Will you have enough books for the third year?"

 

"Yeah, I've got two completed and in the finishing stages, this will finish a third book. . ." Josette moans and creates several hundred notebooks and several dozen energy duplicates.

 

"Josette will be a while, she got hit with more quilts." She says as she comes down the stairs.

 

"It's been a few years." David says. A few minutes before dinner he goes up to her workroom, finding her laying out pieces for a block and boxes of sketchpads against the wall.

 

"Yeah, I was coming down as soon as I get this marked." Josette finishes the last line and comes downstairs with him.

 

"How many sketchpads did you fill?"

 

"Hundreds, I can quadruple all the books I have. . .including the ones I don't have finished yet. And still have more to work on."

 

Josette sends out the files to Pat for the books in the databurst that would be just after she left and settles back down to relax, she'd already sent the outlines and original files to Madison. It's beginning to warm up on Haven and she'll be spreading manure in a couple weeks.

 

Madison moans as she looks at the outlines and the reason why Josette dusted it off, then sets down to read the original exercise and files, laughing her ass off.

 

Josette comes back from picking up the recycling on the other planets, picking up the last pallet that the others had been working on and heads off to Calvin's dimension.

 

Josette nods to Jane who's busy talking to somebody and makes a motion of turning pages in a book. She nods and Josette heads off. The woman who'd been talking to Jane looks that direction.

 

"Josette, the librarian at the other school. She just let me know she'd be in the library. She's probably bringing in socks and other stuff for the office."

 

"Do you need to talk to her?"

 

"She'll be here for a while." Jane chuckles.

 

Pat walks into Hamberg's president's office and hands her a thumb drive. "Several weeks ago, a number of various local, state, and federal agencies contacted us about a group called the Squadrom of awesome evildoers. . ."

 

"Oh god, I remember your granddaughter creating that." President Baxter covers her eyes.

 

"Yes, she says the teacher was not happy but you laughed your ass off."

 

"I did. But local, state, and federal agencies?"

 

"Janice Kilgallen's brother got into the file and started sending it off as a prank. Josette recognized it immediately and contacted Janice. . .who knew who the perpetrator was. Unfortunately Josette was nearly arrested as the 'ringleader' until calmer heads prevailed and allowed her to stay under 'house arrest' at the Tower until this matter was settled."

 

"Yes, he has a history of this type of behavior. I take it your granddaughter got bunnied and that's the result?"

 

"Yes, she'd like a portion of the sales to go to the school if you agree to allow it to be released. She did create it at the school. Anybody familiar with the school will recognize the grounds and various employees."

 

"I'll read it and pass it along, I doubt anybody will complain. Josette doesn't really destroy characters in her books. Even the 'villains' have good excuses for doing what they do."

 

Josette dances away from Madison's grab, hearing the laughter of Joanne and Jessica in the house.

 

"Get in here, you little brat. I can't believe that the law agencies out there didn't do a lick of investigation but I know there's idiots out there who try to make the facts fit their ideas and not the other way around."

 

"One good thing, the little shit is being very quiet since he knows his family won't put up with any more of his fabulous pranks. Neither will the authorities. . .not with the egg they have on their faces for not looking into it. He goes to prison and pulls those stupid 'pranks', they'll kill him."

 

"Only what the little brat deserves." Joanne says firmly. "I'd have killed any of the kids who acted like that." The other two women nod.

 

Josette comes back to Haven and pulls on a t-shirt before walking into Headquarters. "Pat, I got three containers for you. . .where do you want them?"

 

Pat looks over at the snickering, reads Josette's t-shirt 'Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, Grandma ain't happy. . . RUN' and nods once. . .smiling evilly. "Oh yes. But containers?"

 

"A manufacturer had a 'get this shit out of here' sale because the company that ordered it went out of business. I sorted out what I figured you'd be running low on." Josette sends Pat a file and she nods. She shows Josette a room and the containers are moved. "Did you talk to Madison?"

 

"Yes, she was sad that the agencies didn't do any investigating but she knows there's idiots out there who will try to change the facts to fit their theories, not the other way around." Doc sighs but nods.

 

"How is the rebuilding after the fire?"

 

"Well, the communities that got rid of their fire service in a bid to save money are realizing why it was a bad idea." Josette drawls. "The citizens are demanding 24/7 fire service. . .feeling that if the departments hadn't been dissolved some homes might have been saved. Yeah, hindsight's always 20/20. Of course there's a lot of bitter feelings that the boards that dissolved the fire departments. . ."

 

"Had their homes saved?"

 

"Yep. I've been distributing a lot of the crap the crooks wanted to sell in their stores. . .and real stores are coming into areas. Schools are open and I split twenty million dollars into a interest bearing account that will be used for full scholarships when they graduate. With so much happening they're going to be a couple years behind others but. . ."

 

"They survived."

 

"Yeah."

 

"Are the kids whose. . ."

 

"If they moved away or stayed. . .just have to show proof their families lived in the area. I've got lists from everywhere, insurance, phone books, red cross. . ." Doc nods in satisfaction.

 

"You're a good girl." Pat kisses her granddaughter on the forehead.

 

"They didn't deserve to lose their homes to those morons greed and stupidity. So many people didn't just lose their homes, they lost their jobs. Many lost their health when they were burned. . . Morons were just sulking about not getting my land and went on the attack."

 

"Josette, do you have a show?"

 

"In about six weeks in Doc's dimension, the boys have their show in Mom's dimension a week later. Yeah, they're close together but we'll have a couple weeks between the shows in the dimensions to recover, it's only going to be every couple years or so we'll have two shows and we'll spread them out more the other years, this year they had a problem with the location. . .everybody's shows were delayed by storm damage."

 

 

A mumbling beep every five minutes Marilyn is walked out to the car by Ellen as Natalie heads for a conference room. "Landon, Aunt Marilyn's water broke."

 

"Shit."

 

"Go, I have it." his associate says with a grin, waving a hand. "The babies are more important than this boring meeting."

 

"Aunt Marilyn?" The man who'd called the meeting says when the pair had left.

 

"The head of Daniels? That was her niece Natalie who's second in command, Marilyn's pregnant with twins."

 

Natalie heads to the hospital after her class and the next morning she walks into the building. Waving to everybody she grins. "It's boys. Marcus and Jacob Allen Daniels. They weigh just over seven pounds and will be coming home with Momma tomorrow." She yawns. "No, I haven't slept yet, I'm going to see if there's anything important in this morning's mail then nap on the couch for a few hours."

 

The elevator opens and Mona comes sailing out. "There's not a damn thing in the mail that can't wait until Monday. Jasper," he accepts the keys tossed his direction. "You're driving my car to the apartment complex, I'll drive Natalie's."

 

"Did you call the diaper service?"

 

"Yes, I picked up three batches." She points to the back seat and Mona nods in satisfaction at the packages of diapers, diaper covers, and diaper pails covering the back seat. "We're going to be on the regular delivery schedule Fridays. We've got formula and other supplies just waiting for them." Mona helps her bring in everything and she nods in satisfaction at the nursery before locking the apartment up and heading down to where Jasper's waiting in her car.

 

 

Maddy looks at the envelope that's been pushed through the slot of her door and she takes a deep breath as she opens the flap. She smiles. . .it had been sooo long but she finally got her high school diploma. Putting it in the container of stuff she's saving she turns her attention to the school catalogs that had been delivered.

 

 

 

 

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