When Planet Corabin was first discovered, there was a debate on whether to colonize it. The planet’s atmosphere is almost Ice-Age like and if not for the mining minerals on the planet, humans may never have set down on the ice planet.
The Outer Planets, the Lost Terran Empire
2nd Edition, Published in Year 8070
City of Beihong, Planet Corabin
On your knees, heads to the floor and hands beside your head. April wondered how long has she been in this position. Must have been hours already as the pins in her legs started long ago, still she ignored the discomfort as this would be what he would have wanted.
She met her husband Ho Ming on Planet Talon. She was a 20 year-old waitress while he was on vacation. A whirlwind romance later, she decided to return home with him. Protests from family and friends did not faze her at all, she was wildly in love. The Terran Empire and the Patriarch Alliance were not the best of friends but her mind was made up.
April smiled as she remembered the day she landed on Planet Corabin. Corabin is a poor mostly mountainous mining planet where the air is cold, the climate is bad and the people are poor. Even the spaceport she landed on was smaller than most spaceports in the Empire. As they walked into the arrival hall, Ho Ming was soon running up to a man and hugging him, leaving her behind carrying the bags. As April walked quietly up to the 2 men, she quickly saw the family resemblance. The older man looked crossly at her and April immediately remembered to look down at the floor. April had looked a man in the face, in his eyes even. April smiled at her stupid mistake now.
Ho Ming and his father walked off without a word. April followed. They reached the carpark of the spaceport where Ho Ming was soon hugging another man. Like Ho Ming and his father, his brother was wearing a comfortable cotton shirt with a pair of nylon jeans and boots that shone in the daylight. Behind Ho Ming’s brother was a group of women who were kneeling in a circle. Facing inwards, the women’s heads were bowed on the floor in the middle of the circle. Later, April would learn that this was the position women took to prevent themselves from having impure thoughts in public. Head on the floor and ass in the air; it was the proper position of a woman. April smiled at her initial ignorance.
The 5 women stood on the word of Ho Ming. They faced her lover and it was the first time she had a good look at the women. The women were wearing black shirts with a gray dress that reached down to their ankles. They had black gloves on their hands and were without shoes. Only a pair of black socks covered their feet. Their hair were tied in a bun and covered with a red lace hat with some flower patterns on it. The hat had a thin white veil that was pulled down in front of the face. The veil was held in place by a flowery scarf which also covered the neck area. Totally covered up with not an inch of flesh showing in public, April wasn’t totally ignorant, and knew this was how women dressed in public but it was one thing to know of something, and another to exactly see it. April smiled at the memory of her initial shock.
As one, the 5 women kneeled on the floor and bowed. Ho Ming made them hold the position for a while before giving them permission to stand. Then, he turned around and walked towards April. He opened his bag and found a black ball-gag. With word or ceremony, he put the gag on April. April was too shock to do anything but to open her mouth. Later, April would learn that this was the moment when Ho Ming announced to the family that she was his. April smiled at the memory of her initial anger.
Her smile grew bigger as she remembered her shock when the 3 men entered the hovercraft and flew off without her. The 5 women kneeled and bowed their head to the floor again as the hovercraft flew off. After it had left, the women stood up and one of them walked towards the bag Ho Ming had opened. She closed it and carried it towards the other women. Together, they walked off. April was wondering what to do when the woman who was carrying the bag looked back and saw her standing there like a statue. A wave to come on and April gladly ran towards the women. She didn’t know it then but it was another of her mistakes.
The women walked in two rows back to their house. It was a long trip but April was glad for it for she managed to see the city in full. The rectangle houses were built side by side with a pole in front of every door. Her unasked question of what the pole was for was soon answered when the women pass a house where a woman was tied to the pole. Her hands were tied high above her and a man was whipping her back with a laser whip. The woman’s screams were terrible. April was shaking in fear but she saw that people were just walking by the whipping with merely a look before moving past. April smiled at her foolishness now. Women who disobeyed their men deserved a public whipping, how else were they to learn their place in Corabin society.
The women reached the house and April saw that the hovercraft had arrived already. The women waited in front of the door in their two rows and one of them pressed the doorbell. Ho Ming came to the door and the women kneeled and bowed again. April quickly followed. A word from Ho Ming later and April followed the women onto their feet. Another word from Ho Ming and the women fell on their knees and bowed. Stand, kneeled and bowed; stand, kneeled and bowed, April remembered her shame that she was doing this in public and smiled.
As the women were on their knees, Ho Ming finally gave a different order. This time the women raise their heads but stayed on their knees. Another order later and the woman who pressed the doorbell crawled on her hands and knees to the door. She pressed her hand on the door scanner and a small opening opened beside the door. The women’s door was tiny. It was so small that the only way to enter it was to get down on your belly and crawled through it. This was what the women did and April followed suit, last in line.
As April crawled through the opening, she saw the other women were already kneeling side-by-side inside the house. Ho Ming signaled April to fall in line. The men then lifted the women’s veil and April saw that all of them had ball-gags in their mouth. The men released the ball-gags and April was glad to finally have it gone. Ho Ming’s father gave an order and the women fell onto their bellies again. April followed the women as they crawled on their bellies to the side of the room. She saw that there was a ramp down to the cellar. April crawled down the ramp and was shocked at the condition of the room. The cellar was small; small as in very short. There was no way for the women to stand upright without hitting the ceiling. Even a tall woman could hit the ceiling if she was on her knees.
As April left the ramp, the ramp slowly lifted up and the opening to the living room was shut tight. It was this moment when April discovered why women were called moles on Corabin. One of the women then approached April and hand her a set of clothes. The woman introduced herself as Gulan of Ho and she was Ho Ming’s first wife.
April smiled at the memory. She had no idea how to react to this. She knew Ho Ming had a wife but no one had told her what to do when they met. She asked Gulan if she should bow or something. The question must have been unexpected because all the women laughed. Gulan informed her that they were all females of the Ho household and that ceremony was for men only. Gulan’s smile made the transition to the Ho household much easier than it could be and April smiled as she remember the way her elder sister helped her in those early days.
Gulan offered to help April in changing. The clothes April was handed was exactly like what the other women wore but from the look of them, these looks like second-hand hand-me-downs. Months later, April would discover that they were indeed hand-me-downs. Upon marriage, the man was to hand over 4 sets of women clothing to his wife. These are hers to keep and there will be no replacements. If and when the man decided to take a second wife, the man will hand 4 new sets of clothing to the first wife. The new clothing is to replace the original 4 sets of clothing which the first wife will hand over to the second wife. If the man decides to have a third, fourth and fifth wife, the clothing will continue to be handed down the line. April smiled at the thought of this brilliant plan where the first wife had to encourage her husband to take new wives if she wanted new clothes.
April was glad for Gulan’s help. Have any of you tried wearing clothes without standing up? It’s not easy. Not only that, April had never worn a lace hat before or even a dress that reached her ankles. The Equality & Female Justice Laws were taken very seriously by women in the Terran Empire, and they took it to mean that women are actually like men with no differences whatsoever. Some women in the Empire have never even worn a dress in their life. Rebellious young women like April had other ideas of course.
April also learned that there were certain rules involved in the outfit. For one, she was not allowed underwear. No bra or panties. April smiled at her initial discomfort at stripping in front of the other women. It’s almost second-nature to her now.
April also learned that women don’t run on Corabin, in fact they were not even allowed a full stride when walking. April had briefly wondered why the women were taking small steps during the walk from the spaceport, but she had chalked it up to the fact they were shorter than she was. The answer was shown to her. The knee-lock was a pair of simple kneepads with a rope between them. When April put it on, it protected her knees from all the kneeling but April discovered that she could take less than half a stride when wearing it.
Once she changed, April took a good look around. The women slept in one corner where there were 3 mattresses. April knew that co-wives were expected to sleep together when ‘not in use’ by their husbands. There was also a series of low cupboards nearby where they could keep their clothes. An open bathroom and toilet where the women can wash and relieve themselves. All in plain view of the other women but it was there. There’s even a satellite TV where they could pick up any women’s channel in the Alliance. Compare to the horror stories April had heard in the Empire, this was much better than what she had expected.
There was then a siren. All the women went to the back of the cellar. April followed and soon she saw that the back of the cellar led to a kitchen. One where you can stand straight up without hitting your head! Gulan signal April to the back of the kitchen. Looking back to the front of the kitchen, April saw an opening where she could see into the living room. The opening wasn’t very big however and the top of the kitchen was only about 20cm above the floor of the living room.
The men had finished their dinner and the leftover food was placed before the opening. The women reached up and took the plates off the floor into the kitchen. The plan of the house was that the women could cook the food and placed it on the floor of the living room. Once the men were done, the leftovers would be taken by the women. That was what happened. The leftovers were thrown into a pot and the women sat around it. The stew wasn’t great, but it was still better than the stories of starving women April had heard of in the Empire. April smiled at the memory of the women’s laughter when she told them her fears of going hungry.
Once dinner was done, the women went to watch the satellite TV. It was then April discovered what counts as women television in the Alliance. There were no news or current affairs programs. Instead, the channels were filled with movies, soap operas and talk shows. The movies and soap operas were full of stories where the women were the damsels in distress, protected and rescued by their men. Other movies had stories where successful, powerful (unhappy) women discovered their happiness at the foot of a man and the lives they led happily as servants and slaves. April smiled at those, outside the fact she wasn’t that successful or powerful, it was practically her story with Ho Ming.
The talk shows were even more interesting. April learned of the ‘Alliance Veil Laws’ which state that any female out in public must have her face veiled. Even she knew the reason this was due to the rapid expansion of the Patriarch Alliance. The original 3-planet economic alliance rapidly became a 12 planets alliance when the Terran Empire invaded the planet of Wastien. The last leaders of Wastien even joined the Alliance in its’ dying days before its conquest by the Empire in 8057. So technically the Alliance has 13 members; or 12 if you speak to the Empire. With the great differences between each others’ culture, the planets could agree only on one thing. Men should rule! The leaders quickly thrashed out plans for better integration with each others. The veiling law was the best cultural agreement they could come up with. After 15 years, everyone agreed it was also one of their most successful, popular laws.
Females throughout the Alliance now openly, proudly wore veils. If veiling yourself is what it takes to make the Alliance stronger, females were more than happy to do their part in protecting their planets from the Empire. Of course, planets like Kadir, Madhi, Whiteside and some others all had no history of female veiling whatsoever, so they had to start from scratch. People had to come up with ways to veil in a hurry. The talk shows showed all the outfits the different planets came up with; the ‘Nighteyes’ of Wastien, the double-veil of Madhi called ‘The Blind’ (April found that to be a stupid name), and of course the classic ‘Toh-gan’ of Thordaw. April found out her outfit was called a ‘Po-gan’ as it is similar to the ‘Toh-gan’. April smiled at the memory of those talk shows. Even now, she found them to be a great source of information.
The TV watching was stopped when the siren went off again. This time the ramp came down. The women went to the ramp and crawled up the ramp on their bellies. Before they went up, Gulan told April to just stay at the entrance of the ramp. She also warned her to stay on her belly and not looked at the men. Not knowing what to expect, April quickly agreed.
The women were let out of the cellar for housework. April saw that the women were cleaning and sweeping the house, however they were only allowed to do housework on their bellies. The only time there was an exception was when a woman went on her knees. April saw that the men just ignored the women as if they were animals below notice. April would later learn that this was the only time the women were allowed out of the cellar. The only time the women were allowed to be above the feet of the men. Even then, the women were only allowed to be at the feet of the men on their belly. Later, April would also learn that the trip to the spaceport was a very rare occasion when the women were all allowed out of the house. It was to honor the arrival of a new family member. April smiled as she remembered the rare, unexpected honor.
Ho Ming’s father then gave an order and the women crawled back to the ramp. April crawled down the ramp with some difficulties. The knee-lock made crawling difficult and slow. Only when the ramp was back up did April discovered that Gulan was missing. The other women told her that Gulan would sleep with Ho Ming today and she will have her turn tomorrow. April had expected something like this but she had expected to be warned about it first. Her simmering anger soon turned to pity when the women told her any woman who slept with her husband must be beaten the following day. To prevent a woman from having thoughts that she was special, any woman who slept with her husband must be beaten with the laser cane the following morning. She was also not allowed breakfast, going hungry till dinnertime. April smiled. Guess there was some truth to the rumors of women going hungry in the Alliance.
April slept well that night even though she slept in the same clothes she was given earlier. In the morning, the siren woke her up. The women went to the kitchen and started cooking. April smiled as she remembered the laughter that greeted her pathetic attempts at helping. What can she says? Women were just not expected to do housework in the Empire, that’s a job for house-bots and cleaning droids. To people in the Empire, a robot that do household duties is not a luxury but a necessity.
The food was placed on the floor at the opening once it was ready. The women then went and washed up. Halfway through her wash, April saw the ramp coming down. Gulan and the other two women who stayed with the men crawled down into the cellar. The grimaces on their faces told of the pain they were in. April changed into new clothes and left the dirty one in the bathroom as told by the other women. She went into the kitchen again and saw that the men had started their breakfast already.
She also saw Gulan and the women who stayed overnight going to the bathroom and starting to wash all the clothes she had left behind. As the men finished and food was left for the women, Gulan was still washing. April felt guilty as her elder sister was working when she was having breakfast. Even when she was reminded that the roles will be reversed tomorrow, the guilty feeling did not changed.
Once breakfast was done, it was more talking and television for all the women. April discovered that all the children in the house were at a boarding school. From the age of 5 to 12, all the children were sent to boys and girls boarding schools as the people of Corabin believed that young children must be taught with a hand heavier than what most parents are comfortable with. April discovered that all the children of the Ho household are between those ages and that the children returned home for a month twice a year. April smiled. There was just so much to learn in those early days.
After a while, the siren went on again. However, there was also a spotlight that shone in the middle of the cellar. The women quickly placed themselves in a circle under the spotlight, facing inwards. Much like what happened at the spaceport; they kneeled and bowed their heads to the middle of the circle. The only difference was that April was now part of the circle. Gulan quietly told her that the men are now leaving for work. While they are out, the women are expected to be in this circle in this position until they have return. Gulan told her that no one was to leave their position in the circle, and there were 4 cameras in the cellar where the men could view them at any time. April smiled at her shock then. The men in the household had probably seem her naked already, and she never knew it!
So her first day on Corabin went past. April smiled at the memory 7 years ago. She is now here under the spotlight, on her knees waiting for the men to return after a new day. The only difference now was that the circle is bigger as the men had married more women. April smiled as she waited.