Jana called the council to order and announced. “The last man died yesterday. His sperm hasn’t been viable for three Earth years. Doctor Preston has new information.”

Doctor Preston stood and straightened her hair. “I’ve isolated the radiation that kills the Y chromosome. That’s why we never have boy babies. The native animals reproduce by pathogenesis – no men required.”

Kathy yelled from the audience, “Hell of a way to live.”

Jana called for order. “We’ve been living like this for a long time. The last man’s dead and frozen sperm won’t make boys. Our colony is doomed unless we leave this planet.”

Kathy spoke up again. “Speaking for those of us who’ve never even kissed a man. It’s about time we get out of here.”

Jana and the senior staff contacted Colonization Control on Earth and after three months of red tape convinced the powers that be that the colony couldn’t survive without men and the women needed permission to relocate.

The head of Colonization, a retired judge said, “If that’s what you want, but not having a bunch of peckerheads telling you what to do seems like heaven to me.”

Jana replied, “It has its perks, but do the math. We need to relocate to another planet.”

A few days later, Judge No Peckerheads said, “Perfect planet. There’s a monastery with a military school for boys. There’s not a woman on the planet.”

“Sounds great, do they know we’re coming?”

“Not so much. They believe in strength through abstinence. They’ve sworn off women.”

“On purpose? Good God. Our girls don’t need a bunch of eunuchs.”

The Church of Women Are The Root Of Evil aren’t so much eunuchs as they are conscientious objectors. They object to any contact with women.”

Jana yelled, “How the hell am I supposed to work with that. I’ve got three hundred virgins ranging in age from eighteen to forty and all you’ve got for us is a planet of altar boys.”

“Let it be a challenge to you. They don’t know you’re coming, but I don’t think you’ll catch them with their pants down. It could be robes up, I’m not sure about their dress code.”

#

Father Shirley read the last transmission. Over his strident objections, Colonization Control authorized a colony of six hundred women to settle on Arwad, named after one of the last strongholds of the Knights Templar, the religious order upon which The Church of Women Are The Root Of Evil was based. This would be a challenge. It was easy for student warriors to resist temptations several light years away. It would be harder to maintain a vow of celibacy when confronted with the scent and touch of a real woman.

The lady with Colonization Control laughed at his objections. “A little slap and tickle will do your boys a world of good. Give them some idea what they’re fighting for. Not that they need to really fight anything. It’s a big universe, but it appears we’ve got it to ourselves. Put on your dancing shoes, it’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight.”

“What does that mean?”

“It’s a classic ragtime song.”

“What’s a ragtime?”

“Father Shirley, you don’t get out much do you? I pity your students. Play nice with the ladies.”

He pondered the situation. He had no choice but to let the rest of the faculty know an invasion of nubile women was imminent. He shook his head and told himself, don’t say nubile. Don’t even think nubile. He decided to present the situation as a test of faith and called his senior staff into his office.

Once they assembled he said, “Six hundred women, of which almost three hundred are young and no doubt sex crazed, will arrive on Arwad within six days. They will build their compound about a day’s march up river. Colonization Control insisted they locate close to us so we can assist each other in times of crisis. They dismissed my objections out of hand.”

Father Bartholomew spoke up. “This is a training opportunity. I will mobilize the senior cadets and we’ll help the women build their compound.”

“Are you insane? You’ll do no such thing. These women threaten the souls of our students. The last thing we want is to expose the boys to a bunch of randy young women.”

“Our boys are trained and devout. I don’t see a problem.”

“Temptations of the flesh are best resisted when the tempting flesh isn’t within reach. I forbid contact with the women. If the women don’t respect our wishes in this matter we’ll take things into our own hands.”

Father Bartholomew resisted commenting on this poor choice of words and responded, “Shirley, you aren’t suggesting violence. The women have a valid charter and the legal right to be here. If we do them harm, the civilized planets will punish us.”

“Call me Father. Better we face corporal punishment from mankind than eternal punishment from the Lord.”

“You mean the same Lord who said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply?'”

“Shame on you, Bartholomew. Go to your room and meditate. God sees your weakness and so do I.”

#

The flotilla of relocation ships orbited above Arwad. Jana researched the origin of the planet’s name. Arwad was a small obscure island in Earth’s Mediterranean Sea without any significance to mankind as far as she could tell. She put on a formal outfit and opened communications with the religious settlement on the planet.

“This is Father Shirley. You aren’t welcome here.”

“Nice to meet you too. I’m Jana Preston, the elected leader of this fully chartered colony. My communication screen is blank. I can hear you, but I don’t have visual. Is your transmitter malfunctioning?”

“It functions fine. The visual isn’t activated. I won’t risk my eternal soul by exposing myself to your image. The temptations offered by women are the devil’s work. You are here to test our resolve and piety. Evil woman, do not waste your fiendish wiles on me.”

“I guess meeting over drinks to plan our settlement is out of the question?”

“Go back where you came from. God doesn’t want you on Arwad.”

“Yes, she does and so does Colonization Control. I have a valid charter.”

“I don’t recognize any authority except the word of the Lord.”

“I have a sign for you. If you activate your visual, I’ll show it to you. Maybe, you’ll recognize it.”

She extended her middle finger and Father Shirley ended communications.

#

The first shuttle landed three days later. The women cleared several acres near the river and assembled prefabricated structures, including dormitories, office buildings, storage facilities, a lumber mill, and an ironworks. Crops were planted and fertilized cattle and horse ova were thawed and began to gestate. This was the women’s second attempt at colonization and they knew what they were doing.

They also knew they were being watched by a handpicked squad of acolytes in the woods. The women wore little clothing because of the heat, and, well, because men watched from the woods.

“They don’t look right,” said Private Mills. “They’re shaped wrong. Their hips are wider than their waists and they’ve got bumpy chests.”

Sergeant Sims slapped the private. “Quiet. They’re different. They’re women. Women are the root of evil. They are the spawn of the devil. We’re not here to admire their bodies. We’re here to evaluate their military preparedness. God wants us to drive them from this planet.”

Mills whispered to another private, “The devil does nice work. I find women strangely attractive.”

#

Jana asked her council for a progress report. The chief engineer said, “We’ve assembled the buildings we need at this time. I won’t put up our flour mill until we have a crop and we don’t need a cotton gin before the cotton comes in. The stables can wait until the horses are born. I’m going to assemble the gymnasium tomorrow. We need a place for indoor recreation. Winter will be here in a few months. We’ll use it just like before. Everyone can fit inside. It’ll make a great assembly hall.”

Jana asked, “Has there been contact with the men?”

“No, the spies in the woods left last night. We did everything to attract them except bathe naked in the river. We can try that next if you want.”

“Shouldn’t be necessary. The young people will find each other soon enough no matter what we or the old men do. When I was a child on Earth, long before we emigrated, my parents sent us to what is called summer camp. The camps were frequently sponsored by religious organizations who went to great lengths to keep the boys and girls apart. They were never successful. The ingenuity of young lust shouldn’t be underestimated. Trust me. The kids will find each other and there is nothing Father Shirley and his God can do about it.”

“Sounds like you’re speaking from experience.”

“I suppose I am. I hope there’s nothing like poison ivy on this world. My parents never believed my story about how I got the rash on my butt.”

#

First contact took place in the jungle. A scouting party of young men encountered a hunting party of young women. The men were forbidden to make contact, but the women had no such instructions. They surrounded the five men and Kathy said, “We’re hunting for food animals. We don’t want to fight. Can we talk?”

“We have orders not to talk to you. You’re evil spawns of the devil.”

“I’m not sure what a spawn is, but I’m pretty sure I’m not one. We’re going to take a food break. You can join us.”

The women sat in a clearing and ate their rations. At first, the men stood and watched. Kathy offered a chocolate cherry energy bar to one of the men. “Try it. You’ll like it. It’s not spawn, either.”

The man shook his head, but his compatriots urged him forward. His eyes went wide when his fingers touched Kathy’s. He grabbed the bar and jumped away. The men shared the bar.

Kathy said, “We don’t have any boys in our colony. You’re the first ones we’ve ever met. Are all boys going to be afraid of us?”

“We’re not afraid. My name’s Edward. I’m not afraid.”

“Then sit down and talk to me.”

Little by little the young men and women shared food and visited. After a bit, Edward said, “We have to leave. Our job is to take pictures of your compound and report back tomorrow.”

Kathy put her hand on Edward’s arm and his face went white. “We know. Travel safely. We’re going to camp here tonight. Perhaps, we could share the campsite. It would be safer if we’re together. Wouldn’t it?”

“That would be wrong.”

“Nevertheless, we’ll be here. What’s the matter with your trousers?”

Edward dropped his hands in front of his pants, turned bright red, and ran into the woods.

One of the girls asked Kathy, “What was wrong with his pants?”

“Nothing. He likes girls, he just doesn’t know it yet.”

About an hour after sunset, Edward and his squad stopped near the edge of the firelight. “We decided we should stay and keep you safe. May we come into camp?”

#

It was four weeks before Father Shirley learned that senior cadets had been in contact with the women. He immediately halted all excursions into the forest. He posted guards to ensure his students didn’t sneak out. Unfortunately, the guards were other students.

He called a leadership meeting. “The women are defiling our students. This has to stop. We must drive the harlots from our planet. We have a sacred duty. We’ll march on their compound. If they won’t leave, we’ll destroy them.”

Bartholomew shook his head. “I agree that abstinence is a holy calling, but we can’t kill a bunch of young women because our young men can’t keep their trousers buttoned. We train our celibate young men to be soldiers and protectors of women. Perhaps, the women will agree to stay away from our young men. You could call their leader.”

“Violence in the pursuit of God’s will is a virtue, not a vice.”

“I missed that scripture.”

“I’ll contact the woman again, but I want plans for a full scale invasion ready by sunrise.”

Father Shirley activated the communicator and entered the code for the women’s compound. Jana answered, “Nice to hear from you. Turn on visual or this conversation’s over.”

Shirley grumbled, but complied. He stared at the fit fiftyish female in a tight Lycra outfit and said, “Your women are meeting with my men. You must make them stop.”

“Father, my eyes are up here. Last time I checked it takes two people to meet. It’s not my fault that some of your students have backslid a bit. I don’t see any harm in conversation.”

“Madame, I believe things have progressed past conversation. Fornication may have occurred.”

“Last time I checked, that takes two people. I’ve always believed that fornication is the highest form of worship. It’s good for the soul.”

“You truly are the devil’s emissary. Have you no shame? Control your women or we’ll control them for you.”

“Not sure that’s going to work out for you. You guys make any wine or whiskey over there. It’ll be a few years before our vineyard and distillery are ready. Let me get a good look at you. You aren’t that old. Don’t look half bad. I hate your hairdo, but we can work on that. Chill a couple bottles of wine and we can work this out like adults.”

Father Shirley ended the communication without answering. He returned to the meeting room and said, “Assemble the men. We attack at sunrise two days from now. No prisoners.”

#

Kathy and Edward met at their spot. They tossed their clothes aside without preliminaries or conversation. It was good the woods were free of poison ivy. Kathy said, “You still think I’m the devil’s spawn? How’s that temptation thing working for you?”

“Father Bartholomew told me about love. I love you. Love is a sacred…”

“I get it. Love you, too. We’ve got to get you past this theology crap. I don’t want to keep meeting in the woods. I want to go to sleep with you and wake up with you. We should live together.”

“There’s a problem. Father Shirley has ordered us to destroy your encampment. You must leave or be destroyed.”

“When?”

“Sunrise, day after tomorrow. We’ll encircle your compound tomorrow night and attack at dawn. None of us want to attack, but our hearts tell us to follow the Father’s holy orders.”

Kathy kissed him and said, “What does this tell you to do?”

An hour later, Edward returned to the school and Kathy hurried to tell Jana about the planned assault.

Jana woke up her council and told them about the threatened attack. “Some of the boys have been sneaking out and meeting with our girls. You know I’ve encouraged our women to meet with them. The young men have been somewhat receptive.”

Kathy snickered, “The young men have been somewhat enthusiastic.”

The colony engineer said, “They plan to hide in the forest and attack at dawn. Our wooden stockade fences won’t slow them down. The men will be armed. They’re a military school. We don’t have the weapons or training to defend ourselves against a military force.”

Jana agreed. “I don’t want to start over again. I’ll be damned if I’ll let a religious zealot who’s afraid of his tallywacker’s shadow run us off-planet. I have a plan. We’re going to use the oldest weapon in the book, sex.”

“I don’t understand?”

“Put all the young women in the gymnasium. Just before sunrise, we’ll send them into the forest. Naked. The men who haven’t been in contact with our girls have certainly talked to the ones who have. It’s hard for a man to make war with his pants down. No young man wants to shoot a naked woman.”

“Sounds desperate, but it might work,” said the engineer. “I might just take a stroll in the woods myself. I could use a tumble in the jungle.”

Jana assembled everyone in the gymnasium and explained the plan. With Kathy’s support she convinced the three hundred young woman. Jana was surprised at how easily they agreed.

Kathy said, “It’s for the good of the colony. Of course, they agreed.”

That evening, Kathy returned to the gymnasium and joined the rest of the young women for the night. About midnight, they gathered in the stadium seats and Kathy said, “Jana’s plan is a good one, but I have better idea.”

The girls talked for an hour. One of the asked, “This is like a slumber party.”

#

An hour before sunrise, Father Shirley called. “This is your last chance. Agree to leave or be destroyed.”

Jana laughed at him. “Withdraw or I’ll endanger the immortal soul of every acolyte you have. Leave us in peace or face the consequences.”

“Never, devil woman. Prepare to die.”

“Father Shirley, this is on you.” She flipped the switch on the loudspeaker and shouted. “Open the gates. Send out the girls.”

Father Shirley screamed into his microphone. “Attack. Don’t wait for dawn. Attack now.”

At Jana’s command, two women opened the stockade gates and two other women opened the gymnasium doors. No young women, naked or otherwise, ran from the gymnasium. It was completely empty.

The jungle was quiet. No gunfire frightened the insects into silence. The chirps and birdcalls of the dark forest were unchanged. No soldiers stormed the gates.

When the sun rose, Kathy and Edward walked hand in hand to the stockade gate. Three hundred naked couples followed them. Jana waited in the opening.

Kathy winked at Jana and said, “Good morning, Jana. I think I’m pregnant. Do you have time to perform a few wedding ceremonies.”