Power Play (chapter 1)

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    Here's something I've been working on a while.  It's a sequel to marknew742's older work, Transfer Student.  I trust that this one will stand alone on its own merits.  Enjoy! — JD

    Power Play
    Chapter 1: Whammy!

    "I'll have burnt toast and a rotten egg."

    The new guy in the pub stared at Archie. "Why do you want burnt toast and a rotten egg?"

    Archie glowered back icily. "Because the sheilas are gonna get all the nutrients tonight, and that's good enough for them," he grumbled as if to a child.

    Okay, Arch was rude, and probably got the science wrong too, but I knew how he felt. All I'd ordered was decaf coffee substitute myself. Rancid stuff, but I couldn't find the real thing anywhere. And as I sipped down to my cup's lower third, I tapped away at the touchscreen trivia game, one of my few sources of affordable entertainment. The barkeep walked up and looked at the screen. "Ain't five high scores enough, mate?" he asked.

    "Don't you want the pure profit, Chalky?" I retorted.

    He shrugged his bony shoulders with a grunt. "What profit? All ya ever get is one cup, and no booze. Every time you're here."

    His wife then came around, a tall, round, beefy woman. She peeked at my cup. "How 'bout we top that off, mate?" she offered with a smile.

    Chalky shot a look at her. "We got a no-free-refills rule, Karen!"

    "Besides," I added, "my last dollar's in this game, and my ration card's dry."

    "Bah. Gotta take care of my reg'lars." I said nothing. She leaned in. "Double D rule. The designated driver of the party gets free caffsub."

    I shook my head. "I'm by myself, and I walked in."

    She sighed. "Look, the stuff's about to go over. Better you get it than the sink."

    "Well, gee, thanks," I muttered with a smirk. And as Chalky hefted up the pot to give me a reload, I checked the last question:

    How long did the Wright brothers stay airborne in their first successful flight?
    A) 1 hour
    B) 12 minutes
    C) 1 minute
    D) 12 seconds

    Ha. My home state didn't get its shorts in a knot over its state quarter for me to miss this one. I tapped D. After a second, the game beeped cheerily, awarded my points, and the screen flashed "Congratulations! New High Score!" And I keyed in my name: Monty Bank.

    "Look," Chalky pried as he pushed me my cup, "if you're so flamin' smart, why don't you go down to Sydney and try out for a quiz show?"

    I sighed. "Need a way down there and time off to go. And with my job and boss, that ain't happening."

    "We could loan ya the money for the bus ticket and time off," Karen said. "And you could repay us if ya won anything."

    "And if I lost?"

    Chalky looked at my high scores, and snorted. "Like that'd happen."

    "What if it wasn't cash? What if I won a trip to Singapore or Bali?"

    "Take one of us along."

    "What if it was a car, or dinette furniture?"

    Karen dropped her forearm heavily on the counter, making the napkin holders and salt and pepper shakers bounce. "What if it rains in Marble Bar?!" she snapped. "We wanna help ya, ya dope!"

    I sighed. "Look, if I can't pay for it free and clear, cash on the barrelhead, I don't buy it. Plain and simple."

    "You'll never own much that way, mate," Chalky said.

    "I'll never get the collectors on my carcass, either."

    Karen peered at me hard for a few seconds. "It's your pride, ain't it?" she said simply. "Ya lost yer muscle, ya lost yer job in the States, and yer scared of losing yer self… self…"


    "Well, respect, but yeah, that too."

    I sighed again and sipped. The stuff was two notches above lukewarm. "Ma and Dad hammered a lot of things in my head. Do Not Be a Mooch was one of them. Where I came from, it was considered trashy to get welfare. We got too many refugees straining the system here anyway." I looked straight at Chalky. "I mean, come on, don't you have any pride?"

    Chalky wiped a glass. "Comes before a fall, mate."

    With a shrug, I downed the rest of my cup, pushed it back, and got up. "Thanks anyway. And thanks for the dregs," I said with a small smile and wink to Karen.

    Karen winked back and took the cup. "No prob, Mont." Then she got very serious. "You be extra careful goin' home, right? I don't want you to end up like Alfie."

    "I'm always careful, Karen."

    "So was Alfie," Chalky murmured.

    After I paid the bill, I exited the pub into Brisbane's streets with my hands in my pockets. Right beside a wall with graffiti reading "BIG SISTER IS WATCHING YOU", I spotted two low-brow blokes smoking cigarettes on the corner to my right.

    Turning left, I pulled my thin, baggy windbreaker's collar up, pushed my Carolina Panthers ball cap's brim down, trudged down the street, and tried to look as unnoteworthy as I could.

    "Oi, septic tank!" one bloke snarled behind me.

    I kept moving. Maybe he didn't mean me. "Oi, Monty!" And a glass bottle hit me in the back of the head. It didn't hurt that much… nothing threw by a guy nowadays did. Hitting the sidewalk face first after getting my feet kicked out from under did, though. A foot shot under my stomach and flipped me over so I faced up. A greasy haired, greasier skinned, sleazy-thin-mustached thug in a studded denim jacket and his two dirty shirted toadies stood over me.

    "Antonio," I muttered. "Long time no see."

    "Look, mate," the punk snarled, "when we call ya, ya don't keep on walkin', see?"

    "Hey, ease up, man! You've already jacked me twice this month!"

    "So ya know the drill, then. Wallet. Now."

    "It's empty, bud. You're just practicing."

    One lackey slammed a bike chain into my knee. "I said, ease up!" I protested, and barely dodged Antonio's kick as I fished up and threw down the wallet. And it had my ration card, too. Antonio's other weasely punk picked it up and rifled through it. "He wasn't playin', Tone," he said. "Nuthin'."

    "Not even a bus pass?" Antonio glowered at me. "Boy, mate, are you inconsiderate!" He grabbed the bottle, and swung it against a lamp post. It broke into a crude knife on the fourth try. "Guess we're gonna have to take it outta ya hide."

    I hobbled up, but Weasel and Chain Boy kicked me back down to the ground. My knee ached too much for a decent sprint anyway.

    Then off in the distance, I heard engines rev up. Loud, powerful ones. Motorcycles.

    From a block away, wearing dark leather vests and chaps over their strained denim jeans and halter tops, 24 female bikers sped right at us. And flailing logging chains, clubs, and other weapons, their bare arms showed muscles big as 2-liter Pepsi bottles. Their long, dirty hair waved through the air like superheroes' capes.

    "Harpies!" shrieked Antonio.

    Weasel broke for it and dove into some garbage cans. Antonio tried to flee, but one bike babe bore down right on him, screamed like a banshee, shot out a powerful leg, and sent him crashing to the street. Another rider right behind her ran over his left arm, which crunched sickeningly. Before I could feel sorry for him, though, she pulled a J-turn, slid to a stop, and spotted me. I mistakenly looked her in the eye, and she flashed a very menacing rotten-tooth grin.

    Scrambling up, I didn't stick around to learn what she wanted. Scooping up my wallet, I dashed down the nearest alley, despite my knee's screams of pain. But who was I kidding? I couldn't have outrun a 500cc engine even before the Big Zap.

    I tried zigzagging, but I felt those fingers claw into my jacket's back and hoist me up off the pavement. "You better hold on tight, dearie!" she cackled. And she began to pull me to herself as she turned her bike around. But I figured Brisbane was too warm for a jacket anyway. I slipped out of the sleeves, tucked and rolled on the pavement, and slipped under a hole in a cyclone fence sealing off the alley.

    Thankfully I didn't keep her interest. The Harpy turned around and joined her horde as they zipped down the street, shattered store windows, and smashed and grabbed whatever… or whoever… they wanted. I watched the mayhem helplessly as I gathered up my cap.

    Yes, there were worse things than gangboys.

    There were gangGIRLS.


    Bruised, sweaty, gasping for breath, and bleeding out my mouth, I limped into the squalid rat hole called Charlton Rooms and staggered into my own one-room roach trap. I washed myself at the sink inside; I didn't trust the communal shower down the hall since Bob's feet had contracted jungle rot. Mosquitoes with dengue fever were a problem, too. As I treated my cuts and injuries as best I could, I listened to the news on my sleep-timed clock radio.

    "In local news, demonstrators still block land developers in Brisbane's Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. In a very narrow vote last week, the City Council had given contractors authorisation to clear the lands for more farmland. But environmentalists made camp directly in the bulldozers' path. Charlene Lorax of the Forest Defence Fund said this:

    "'Yes, I know it's a hungry world out there. I am, too. But even before the Big Zap, we were losing rainforest land at the rate of a football pitch per second. We've already had to move the sanctuary once before thanks to private homes popping up. We're not moving again… and we're not becoming extinct!'

    "While the developers and policewomen have ejected 14 men from the lands, the few men left are still chained to the trees. And between them and the bulldozers, their heftier sisters, wives and girlfriends aren't budging. Apparently any break in this stalemate in the forest can't be seen for the trees. Paul Reichert, Queensland News Radio, Brisbane."

    "On the international forefront, wildfires still rage out of control across the Midwestern United States. Blazes are scorching what once was prime farmland from as far north to the North Dakota/Canadian border down to the Oklahoma/Kansas line. Due to the population implosion from post-transfer emigration, America's firefighting efforts are highly shorthanded. In fact, the few military forces bordering the Rockies' eastern foothills stationed to keep out occupying Mexican servicewomen due west refuse to leave their posts or let anyone in to help, leaving their land to burn. Even offers of help from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have been rejected. Brenda Cox, AP Network News, Omaha, Nebraska."

    "In the meantime, La Guarda Mexicana presses her troops further southeast into Central America. The BBC has details:"

    "Honduras' capital Tegucigalpa fell to the First and Second Amazon Mechanised Infantry Divisions, which conquered Guatemala and El Salvador and looted food stockpiles in Guatemala City last month. Less than 30% of Honduras' military remain alive, victims of starvation as much as gunfire. Refugees fleeing to Nicaragua are being turned back at the border. Belize is being bypassed by Mexican forces, for reasons unknown. Patricia Mendez, BBC Americas, Juticalpa, Honduras."

    As I listened to the news, I grimaced, and not because of the iodine on my lip. How did La Guarda Mexicana bowl over the American forces like that in the first place? Our greatest generals were General Motors and General Electric. We had the mech-tech advantage. It wouldn't matter whether the guy driving an M2 Bradley was 95 pounds or 95 tons. Either trigger finger could fire the machine guns just as well. And a bigger Amazon was a bigger target, too.

    Then they broke for a public service announcement.

    Young teen guy: "I don't know about this…"

    Older teen guy: "Look, she'll be right, bro. You finish running the cable, I'll hook up the dish, and poof. Easy money."

    YTG: "Right, then."

    OTG: "There ya are, miss. Free satellite TV."

    Miss: "And you've got a free ride downtown. You're under arrest."

    YTG: "What?!"

    OTG: "Run!"

    I heard someone getting tackled.

    Miss: "Not so fast, mate. You have the right to remain silent–"

    YTG: "Look, I'm just 15! My brother told me you can't nick me for this!"

    Miss: "And you believed him?"

    Announcer: "Supplying or purchasing pirate satellite television equipment or services carries up to a $25,000 fine, three years in prison, and 20% strength reduction. No matter your age. Don't cheat yourself, your future, or your TV providers. Turn illegal TV off. A message from the Bureau of Global Safety, Surveillance, Transfer and Redistribution."

    Hmph. With my wages, that law was going to be easy to obey.

    "In sports, the International Sumo Federation had its championship bout in Manila today. Former yokozuna Yumiko Motomaji from Sapporo, Japan reclaimed the crown from Vladivostok, Russia's Illanya Kemelor in less than 90 seconds. This was done despite many protests against the Federation for not admitting wrestlers from Great Britain, France, or Switzerland into the tournament. An angry Motomaji had this comment:

    "'It's their own fault. It was this energy transfer in the first place that rendered men's sumo wrestling extinct. My brother Ryuji and his whole dojo died from heart attack from it! And they have an unfair advantage by stealing the American male populace's strength for their own use, while rejecting any American's application for citizenship, AND arrogantly pressuring other nations to deny naturalization themselves. Stop draining the Yanks, keep the borders open, bring my Ryuji back from the dead, and THEN we'll talk!'

    "When asked about her own nation's strict immigration policies, and traditional sumo's exclusion of females before the Transfer, Motomaji declined comment. Rachael Wang, Queensland News Radio Sports."

    "And weather in Brisbane will be fine tomorrow, with a high temperature of 29. Pat Nantuckett, Queensland News Radio. The time is 10 P.M."

    Finally, I settled down on the mahogany-hard mattress, drew the dingy sheet over my puny 99 pound body, and reclined.

    Then I felt it. That invisible fork that stuck in my spirit and soul and twirled them around itself like spaghetti. Big Sister was helping herself to my bodily strength via satellite right on time. Just like clockwork at every week, right before my bedtime so not to disrupt my daily routine. Heck, it would even help coax me off to sleep. Gee. How big of them.

    To be continued in Chapter 2:  Name That Tune.


    Excellent work!!! It’s great to see a follow-up on that story. Mark always leaves us wanting more, because all his stories end up right after the tranformation happens. It’s his style. But I loved reading about the global effects of such a transformation and the chaos it would entail. Please continue.


    Johnny Dimples,

    Great stuff!

    I love the eriee Mad Max feeling of a powered up Austrailia. The atmosphere is great and a real nice grounding set up for what might happen next.

    You’ve really kept the detail oriented science fiction feel of Marknew’s original work. You don’t over look the uncomfortable consequences of such a transfer but instead make that the conflict that drives the story.

    Women fighting for territory and expanding their borders affirms that HUMANS despite their gender will fight when resources get strained.

    Coolness. Waiting eagerly for the next instalment.

    Mark Newman

    It’s a very enjoyable continuation of the story. Not the way I would have done it, but different minds definitely make the world go.

    Can’t wait to see where this one ends up.



    Thanks for your praise. I was a little worried how well it would have been received, seeing that the world’s women by and large (pun!) are already hulking muscular Amazons, and don’t have much more room to grow. Except for the Yanks.

    That’s not to say it won’t happen later. It may be a while in showing up though. I’ll crank it out as soon as I can.

    Oh, and Mark, how would you have handled it? Or is that for another story another day?


    Well, the first chapter is already promising for more (i hope so^^) good work anyway

    Mark Newman

    I have to think a bit about it, because I didn’t write a sequel and you are doing it. So, none of this should be taken as criticism or as implying that I’m not fully enjoying your version.

    I probably would have more scenes showing the women outmuscling the guys, flaunting their strength and taunting the men for their loss of muscle.

    Probably at least one scene taking place at the time of the beam up/beam down, so the transfer would be evident, and the mocking "ha-ha!" from the ladies.

    There would have to be a conspiracy (doomed to fail of course and probably with unanticipated consequences that make it even worse for the guys) to try to kill the strength transfer machine.

    I’d probably zoom in on some ongoing m/f relationships that pre-date the strength transfer, so one could see how the changes affected some people, destroying some, pleasing others and frightening a few more.

    I really like your location of the story in Oz, so you can bring in the Euro uberbabes as well as the Ozzie Amazons. I’d probably include a few scenes in the depopulated and weakened America.

    But those are just some random thoughts. Keep up with your version. I can’t wait to see where it goes. And feel free to use any or none of the above ideas.

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