All of the crew had been summonsed to the main deck. Inevitably rumours abounded as the Gnarriotts crowded into the hall. The officers had been under strict instructions to ensure that their "allocations" had been secured in their quarters. The only ones excused the briefing were the small group responsible for monitoring the Sol3a women, still deep in hibernation in the cabins of their transit tubes.
Speakers in either corner of the room crackled and gave out the piping whistle of the signal for a fleet admiral.
Farrin Gnarrff appeared in full dress uniform. Behind him, shuffling in their heavy leather costumes, came Kelli and Shana. He eased himself into the throne like chair that stood on a platform. With a peremptory clack of a claw he gestured for Kelli to stand at his left, Shana at his right.
Gnarff's adjutant called the crew to attention and a hush spread across the hall.
Gnarff scanned the room. He looked at each of the girls in turn. They stiffened to attention, trying to hold their heads erect in the heavy, leather, Gnarriot masks.
"Comrades," Gnarff began, "stand easy." There was an shuffling as the crew relaxed. "I wish to begin by thanking all of you for your contribution to this project. As you know this has been a noble enterprise for the Gnarriott. Rescuing what many consider to be the core of the human species has been a important mission. You will hear from their leader shortly but you should know that I and the entire Gnarriott peoples recognise the skill and efforts of you all."
Gnarff turned towards the Sol5 mercenaries that stood at the back of the room. "We must also acknowledge the assistance of our allies from Sol5 and of course the efforts of Dr Mead. Now I would ask you to greet Council Leader Mayern of the Sol3a peoples." He gestured to a door at the side of the platform.
It was not clear what had happened to Mayern since the rape of Shana and Kelli but few that had known Council Leader Mayern on Sol3a would have recognised her now. She had been freed from her paralysis but she was still evidently very much under the control of Gnarff.
There was a barely controlled, communal grunt of lust from the assembled crew as she walked onto the platform. Gnarff had insisted that she dress in her new role as the madam of the brothel planet. Her hair was bleached, back combed and teased, She wore a transparent black top over a boned and tightly laced basque. Her skirt was knee length and straight but with each step she revealed a flash of thigh through the slit that ran from hem to hip. Stilt heeled, platform sole, shoes made her stand almost six inches taller. A slim, gold chain glinted on her ankle.
She spoke, seemingly oblivious of her appearance. "I am here today," she began, "to thank you for your intervention and your rescue mission. The women of Sol3a owe a great debt to the Gnarriott people." She looked back over her shoulder towards Gnarff. He gestured with his claw, urging her on. "When we are settled in our new home, you can be sure that we will repay that debt. We understand the importance that the Gnarriot place upon the sensual pleasures and we intend to do all we can to cater for your needs and desires." Mayern looked coyly at the audience, giving a flirtatious smile and flashing her extended eye lashes.
A joint "Hurrh" emerged from the assembled crew. Gnarff was evidently amused by Mayern's performance. His feelers were reaching out to Kelli and Shana, exploring their torsos, left naked by their lobster costumes.
Gnarff held up a claw and the crew fell silent. Mayern turned towards him. Gnarff spoke. "You see, my friends. Your valour will be rewarded. Some of you already enjoy an allocation. Others will have the opportunity to sample Councillor Mayern's services soon. However, I have some further news. You will understand that we and the Federation have not always seen things in the same way. My last discussions with their ambassador were less than cordial. With the rescue mission complete we have the opportunity to discuss things again. I shall be meeting Ambassador Taylor shortly."
Shana's eyes lit up behind her mask. Being careful to keep her thoughts to herself she glanced across at Kelli. Kelli nodded back. It was clear that the two of them had the same idea. If Taylor was returning, perhaps there was some chance of escape.