Saturday, 12 February 2011


This is the third of the pieces I wrote for Quercus regarding 'The Demi-Monde: Winter' and it's a description of the Coven, which is, perhaps, my favourite of all the DM's five Sectors. It is also the main location for the action taking place in the thrid book of the series 'The Demi-Monde: SUMMER'.

US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)

Fort Jackson, neoFight Briefing Area, 8th June, 2018

‘Now those more astute members of Platoon Charlie have probably spotted that you all have one thing in common, you’re all women...’

‘Not according to their urine tests,’ came a voice from the back of the room.

It was a sentiment Badowski had some sympathy with: Sergeant Stella Fitzroy, the girl in charge of Platoon Charlie, was a big, big woman who looked as though she was built to kick-start jumbo jets.

‘Yeah, we’re deploying an all-girl Platoon in the Coven and the reason for this is simple: the Coven is the Sino-Japanese Sector of the Demi-Monde where the gender mix is skewed 2:1 in favour of females – or Femmes as they are called in the Coven - Femmes led by a wacked-out ultra-feminist Singularity called Empress Wu. Wu is the lunatic Dupe who has developed a screwball religion called HerEticalism, the creed that promotes female supremacy and the subjugation of men.’

Cheers from Platoon Charlie. Stella Fitzroy blew Badowski a kiss. ‘You wish,’ he yelled back.

Captain Simmons waited until his audience had settled down. ‘The belief of HerEticals is that Demi-Mondian-wide peace and prosperity – an idyllic outcome they tag “MostBien” – will only be realised when men accept a subordinate position within society. Of course to the rest of the Demi-Monde the sexual proclivities of the Femmes in the Coven are seen as unnatural and obscene and, as such, Covenite Femmes are lampooned as “LessBiens”.’

‘Gonna be a home-from-home for the girls from Platoon Charlie,’ came a shout from across the room but the Captain ignored it.

‘But don’t think that just because this is a feminist Sector that it’s a soft touch.’

Ironic laughter.

‘No, there are some tough cookies in the Coven. HerEticalism has a more aggressive sister-religion known as Suffer-O-Gettism – itself a contraction of Make-Men-Suffer-O-Gettism - which espouses violence as the only means of bringing change in the Demi-Monde and removing men from positions of power. Suffer-O-Gettes are anarcha-feminists who preach that the elimination of the male of the species from the breeding cycle is a vital concomitant to the securing of MostBien.’

More cheers from Platoon Charlie.

‘The Suffer-O-Gettes are led by a dame called Jean Dark; though those of you who can read might know her better as Joan of Arc, the girl who fought against the Brits in the fifteenth century. Stay out of this dame’s way: she’s a real mean mother who believes that the only good man is a castrated man.’

Now that shut the men in the audience up. Even Badowski.

But what in his opinion was even more unnerving was the way the Captain kept talking about these PreLived Singularities as though they were real people. If a guy like Simmons – who had the intellectual grunt of a salad - had started thinking of them as real then things were really screwed up. Maybe – just maybe – the Demi-Monde might be even more freaky than the Captain said it was.

And then it got worse.

‘Yeah, you won’t be seeing that many men – nonFemmes - in the Coven. The HerEtical belief is that men are beset by an instinctive inclination towards violence and mayhem – this is termed MALEvolence in the Coven – so after coming to power Jean Dark decreed that any nonFemme working in the Covenite Civil Service, serving in the Covenite Army or having duties and responsibilities within the walls of the Forbidding City – the Coven’s capital city - had to be a NoN, a fully castrated eunuch. NoN is a contraction of the phrase of “he ain’t got none” which, I think you’ll agree, is pretty self-explanatory.’

Badowski felt his scrotum contract; the thought of all these crazed feminists making with the slice and dice action on his tackle did not appeal.

‘And as for how you ladies will be dressed...and yeah, you are all going to have your heads shaved.’


‘I know it’s a sacrifice but it’s necessary if you’re gonna fit into life in the Coven. HerEticalism abhors the sexual objectifying of Femmes and demands that all Femmes respect themselves and refrain from dressing and acting in an immodest or provocative manner which may be construed as having the intent to inflame the heterosexual libido.’

‘Fitzroy’s way ahead of you,’ came another anonymous observation. ‘She couldn’t inflame a can of gasoline.’

The Captain turned a diplomatic deaf ear. ‘So, ladies, your mission is to keep the portal in Beijing open.’ The Captain flagged up the next 3D image. ‘But it ain’t all bad news. The one advantage you’ll have when you’re operating in the Demi-Monde is superior firepower. The US Military insisted that the simulation displayed a fairly primitive technological modality - the same type of f*****-up technology available to belligerents in real Asymmetric Wars. So the Dupes’ technology is held at a Victorian-era level of competence and that’s why they’re still using gas lights, why they haven’t figured out how to harness electricity and why the most heavyweight piece of ordinance you’ll be coming up against is an armoured steamer like the one in this picture.’

Badowski eyed the steamer suspiciously. Sure it might be a mucho de weird and wonderful piece of kit but it still looked like it could ruin somebody’s Sunday. Maybe these Dupes weren’t the pushovers Simmons was suggesting they would be.

The Captain pressed the remote. ‘Okay, moving on,’ and here he smiled an evil smile. ‘Platoon Delta – and Badowski – get the shitty end of the lollipop...NoirVille.’

Check out the Demi-Monde of

All images © Rod Rees/Nigel Robinson

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