Morkink revisited

Sent by DjM

Part 2

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

The Wizard O’Zeal caught wind of this plot, and quickly called the Chief Delegates to hold a secret meeting about the crisis. They traveled from all of the colonies to the Citadel and after listening to a fiery and emotionally stirring (and quite exaggerated) account of the situation, the Chiefs decided to summon the Emperor and make him account for his actions.
  Stewdbrain was aghast! Never before in the history of Morkink had a RoseyCrusher Emperor been told to justify his action! He was Wrolf’s anointed descendant, after all, who would dare question him?! He was beyond reproach and refused to listen to the heated debates about his impending uprooting of Morkink. He promptly informed the Chief Delegates that they were all dismissed, and that he would be replacing them with his own appointees. Then he left the assembly.
  That was the final straw for the Chief Delegates. Charged with the sacred duty of protecting the Empire of Morkink by Emperor Wrolf Truths in the tradition of Dr. H. Splendor Truths, they realized that it was their Imperial Duty to act against Stewdbrain and seize control of Morkink before any further damage was done.
  So, by vote, they impeached Stewdbrain, and in his place elected another young man, an honorable Chief Delegate from the colony of Gallia. This man, Bernhardt Chnssman, was the son of an original Chief Delegate, and had served the RoseyCrushers faithfully from an early age. His colony had been prosperous, and he was charming and quite popular with the Morkites.
  Stewdbrain was promptly summoned, and after hearing of his pending departure, he grabbed hold of his Emperor’s scepter and refused to leave. The Morkink Police were called, and citing his authority as newly-appointed Emperor, Bernhardt had Stewdbrain dragged kicking and screaming from the Chiefs assemblage and deposed from the Citadel and all of Morkink.
Things settled down for a while in Morkink. Emperor Bernhardt decided to retain his home in the colony of Gallia, rather than move to the Citadel of Morkink. He assured the Morkites that although the Citadel was still the true spiritual home of Morkink, he would be able to govern the Empire from whatever part of the Realm he happened to be. This suited O’Zeal just fine, as he was great friends with Bernhardt, and it didn’t take long, with his wife as the Grand Delegate, for him to secure his position in charge of the Grand Colony. So, with the Emperor living far away in Gallia, the O’Zeals were free to do as they please. And that they did.
  Traveling about the Grand Colony, Kunning O’Zeal imposed his will over his wife’s and left many subjects wondering exactly who was in charge. Back at the Citadel, Wizard O’Zeal feely enacted policies and instituted programs that he wanted (rather than his wife) which often caused confusion and resentment amongst the workers.
Soon, grumblings about the arrogant O’Zeals’ actions reached the various other Grand Delegates, and their superiors, the Chief Delegates. The O’Zeals soon became unpopular to the point that Emperor Bernhardt had to intervene.
  After a hasty meeting of the Chief Delegates, (many of whom disliked the devious Wizard) it was decided that Grand Delegate Madonna O’Zeal was to be replaced. A likely candidate for her successor was already waiting in the shadows. This would pave the way for the eventual tragedy that befalls Morkink to this day.
  Krusty K’nucklehead was the former Public Relations Director for Morkink under Emperor Wrolf Truths. She was attractive, energetic, and quite the glossy publicity hound. She enjoyed filming narratives for the Morkites, and when on-camera always was sure to display plenty of her long, lovely legs. Wrolf Truths was particularly fond of her interviews with him.
  Stewdbrain tried to conquest her, but discovered early-on that her feminity was as superficial as her personality. She soon found herself escorted out of the Citadel, and vowed one day to return. Her day had come.
  Emperor Chnssman was familiar with K’nucklehead from the Truths era, and was captivated by her worldly charms. So, when she was suggested as the new Grand Delegate to replace Madonna O’Zeal, he thought that she would be a perfect representative of the Empire to govern the Grand Colony. The Chief Delegates concurred with Bernhardt since they, too had seen the PR films with Krusty’s legs. So it was.
  Madonna O’Zeal was summoned to the Sacred Chamber of the Chiefs and the verdict was delivered. Madonna was silent, as she realized there was no choice in her fate. It was her husband, the Wizard O’Zeal that caused this action, and she had no control over him. So she left the Chamber, and that night she left her husband. Madonna eventually found a new life in a far-off land, and the Wily Wizard was last seen in exile, roaming the deserts.
  After her anointing, Grand Delegate K’nucklehead took on an assistant from the ranks of the surviving Citadel subjects. She was Jabba D. Huff’npuff, an over-sized, low-level worker who had spent more time spying on the former Grand Delegate and reporting to the outside insurgents than on doing her job. Her fundamental self-righteousness earned her the reputation as a RoseyCrusher Church Lady, while her bullying bossiness earned her the distain of her co-workers.
  So, together Krusty and Jabba set about to change the Grand Colony of Morkink to what they wanted it to be. Many subjects who were faithful to Morkink, but not liked by the Gruesome Twosome were banished from the Citadel. Others who spoke in flowery praises and offered cheery advice were promoted. Many family and friends, who were otherwise unqualified to do the various important tasks at Morkink, were taken on at generous salaries and given dominion over the others.
K’nucklehead thought that streamlining the image as “Morkink-The Corporation” would fit into modem times much better. Wanting to divest Morkink of its ancient heritage, K’nucklehead started removing the name “RoseyCrusher” from many of the public buildings such as the beloved and famous Museum of Antiques, and Palladium of Planets. This greatly irked many old, and respected Morkites, who were proud of the past history of the RoseyCrushers.
  Sadly, even though K’nucklehead was popular in the outer reaches of the Grand Colony, she was soon seen as superficial and pompous. Her PR talents could only carry her so far. Jabba D. Huff npuff’s heavy-handed ways were too much of a contradiction to the happy-sappy things Krusty spewed forth on her trips and in her edicts.
As talented as she was at PR, she was severely lacking in her skills as a business administrator. When problems arose, and situations got beyond their control, the Dismal Duo often would ignore them, or have extensive meetings to discuss solutions without ever acting upon any plans. Usually, they would give up and hire outside consultants at outrageous fees. These advisors, sensing Krusty and Jabba’s weaknesses, would instigate involved, expensive plans and programs supposedly as solutions to whatever the current crisis was.
  Several of these contractors infiltrated Morkink to the point that they gained much power and authority over the Morkites. They set up scenarios that required their services for perpetuity, and their extravagant fees and demands escalated with each new project that “needed” their expertise and attention. This led to a horrific drain on Morkink’s resources, and soon the basic ability to fund the Citadel’s operations was threatened.
  Sensing that Krusty’s administration and judgment skills were as superficial as her personality, several Regional Colonial Delegates appealed to the Emperor for an immediate halt to the irresponsibility that was occurring at Morkink. They needed an end to the hemorrhaging of money and resources, and it must be done quickly!
   Some of the pleas for intersession were intercepted on the way to Emperor Bernhardt in Gallia by agents for another rival. They were forwarded to the Mediterranean island of Lesbonia, wherein lived the ruthless power-hungry queen, Druida Wiccana. She was jealous of the Morkites, and the vast empire the RoseyCrushers had established around the world.
But most of all, she despised Emperor Chrissum because he was a man!
  Her realm was a place where men were reviled, scorned, persecuted and banished. Queen Druida and her subjects, the Lesboners, lived by the motto: “The Lesboners the Better!” They were bred from subject males who had their manliness removed at the dawning of their manhood. These parts were then put through a process which removed the seed, and it was implanted in certain Lesboners that were selected for reproduction. Then the male specimens, now rendered eunuchs, were turned over to the Lesboners as servants. Having all of their male powers taken from them, they were timid and obedient, easily controlled by the dominant Lesboner women.
  The devious queen now realized that her chance for dominion over Emperor Bernhardt’s most prized colony was here! Imagine, the Citadel of Morkink in Lesboners’ hands! After that, the rest of Morkink would surely be seduced into her control. Once Druida got a grasp around the mighty Citadel, then she would stroke it for all it’s worth, milking it of all its treasures. The Lesboners would finally be on top!
  This was a very important mission. She needed the best warrior in her army for this task. Amongst her loyal soldiers, one in particular stood high above the others. She was an Amazon princess, skilled in the most deadly fighting arts, as well as the most powerful ways of persuasion. She had spent her novice years training not only in Lesbonia with the best combat teachers, but also in the various countries where her worldly professional skills were honed. This soldier was not only cunningly linguistic, but dangerous, agile, and deft at convincing her victims to succumb to her knife before realizing that their end was at hand. And as a true Lesboner, she despised men.
Jeweled Scrotia was so named because of her ornate collection of mounted body parts cut from her male rivals defeated in combat. Tall and lean, she had the ability to hide her tough exterior behind a veritable dike-wall of faux compassion and concern. She could project her femininity at will to disarm her subject, then unleash her fury at the appropriate moment and swoop in for the kill.
  So Jeweled Scrotia was appointed for the very important and secret mission of infiltrating Morkink, taking command, destroying the infrastructure, and then turning the remnants over to Queen Druida Wiccana. To assist her in this formidable task, Jeweled enlisted her ever-loving companion, Caring Quirk.
  Caring was Jeweled’s long-time co-worker and lover. They lived together and had many adventures while sharing their passion, travels, and friends. Caring had been in her youth, a very lovely woman. To see her, one would never guess her Lesboner heritage. She found her appearance was a great asset, as it fooled unsuspecting males. To further this, she had certain parts of her body surgically augmented to enhance the curvature of her figure. She also projected a very caring and vulnerable persona, which helped her snare the trust, love and confidence of her prey. Like Delilah to Samson, when her quarry was vulnerable, she summoned the ever-present Amazon commando, Jeweled Scrotia, to come in for the kill. Together, they made a formidable and heretofore unstoppable duo.
  Caring spent many years training for her position. She ventured out into the world from Lesbonia as a young woman eager to learn how to ply her good looks and coyness to her own advantage. She sfudied the art of massage, and learned quickly how to stroke and rub someone, until she had manipulated them into a blissful state, when taking advantage of them would be the easiest. She soon learned to use all of her body, not just her hands, as a valuable tool in giving pleasure and thus gaining control.
After she finished her studies in “Massage Therapy”, Caring went to work in the “entertainment” business. Not your standard song-and-dance performance, but as an “Entertainment Coordinator”. She was the Madame to many other lovelies in a successful service that sent escorts on outcalls to anonymous clients. However, constant friction with an ever-jealous Jeweled Scrotia took its toll on her workers, so she retired from the profession and returned to Lesbonia to assist in the Lesboner cause.
In order to not raise suspicions about her Warrior status, Scrotia changed her name to “Jewel Schnott”. Her and Caring also went to great lengths to protect their secret-lover status, being careful not to show affection or closeness when in public.
  Since they needed to have some ranking in Morkink to be successful, Jewel and Caring got themselves anointed as members, and easily moved amongst the Morkites. Using their charm and female ways, they quickly gained stature and prominence as a couple of devoted RoseyCrushers who would volunteer and sacrifice for the good of Morkink.
  As word spread of the problems that Grand Delegate Krusty K’nucklehead was having in the Citadel, Jewel introduced herself to the high circle of Chief Delegates. Using her wily ways, she eventually gained an audience with none other than Emperor Bernhardt Chrissum himself.
 Since she learned to speak Gallanese as part of her assignment, Schnott turned her superbly cunning linguistic abilities on the unsuspecting Bernhardt, who was blown away with her talents.
  The call for the Emperor to fix the mess at the Citadel presented itself at a coincidental time when he was holding court with Jewel and her obsequious companion, Caring Quirk. They had just finished a private demonstration of their tag-team massage talents on Bernhardt when he was roused by the messenger from the Chief Delegates.
After listening to an impassioned description of the critical situation at the Citadel, Bernhardt realized that the solution was right before his very eyes! Fortunate timing had placed before him a very devoted and seemingly capable Morkite, Jewel Schnott. What an incredible coincidence! He promptly decided to appoint Schnott as new Grand Delegate. By placing the Citadel in her strong hands, he could control (he thought) this malleable female, plus access her “special” talents (as well as her friend, Caring Quirk) whenever he wished.
  So, it was. Krusty K’nucklead was summoned to appear before the Chief Delegates, where Emperor Bernhardt informed her of her dismissal, and banished her and her cohort, Jabba D Huff’npuff from Morkink.
  They were no sooner sent into exile, when Jewel Schnott came riding into the Citadel on her white horse. She had made sure that secret agents posing as Morkites preceded her, spreading tales of her popularity and devotion to the RoseyCrushers amongst the Citadel workers.
Schnott was greeted with cheers and adulation the beleaguered workers and subjects of Morkink looked with hope for change from the new GD. As a precaution, Jewel had Caring wait for several days to arrive at the Citadel, so as not to arouse questions about her intimate position with Grand Delegate Schnott. At the appropriate moment, Jewel introduced Caring Quirk as her ‘friend” and an invaluable assistant in the task of rebuilding the shattered state that Morkink had fallen into.
At first, Schnott started her work within Morkink in an orderly manner, so as to not arouse any undue suspicions. Being a shrewd businesswoman, Schnott knew that she must gain the trust and acceptance of the fatigued Citadel Morkites before she would be able to enact her real plan. She started by cutting some of the external, non-essential expenses that former GD K’nucklehead had incurred. Things such as individual Alhambra bottled water for each employee, free personalized Daytimer organizers, lavishly catered feasts and banquets for frivolous business meetings, and others. She also fired all of the high-priced consultants and contractors that had been hanging onto Morkink like so many leeches. Those, along with normal fiscally responsible measures soon had the red ink flow reduced to a trickle.
When she saw some light in the budget, Jewel Schnott started giving pay raises to the starving staff. This caused her popularity to soar immensely. She then reversed most of the unpopular programs that K’nucklehead and Huff’npuff initiated. She replaced the name “RoseyCrusher” to places where it had been removed or obscured by K’nucklehead, and seemingly wanted to re-instill pride in the past heritage of Morkink.
This was strange, because being a minor-level Morkite herself, Schnott (and Quirk) really had no clue as to who the Truths’ were and how deeply ingrained their influence on the RoseyCrushers truly was. Schnott just figured if it made the gullible, sentimental Morkites sympathetic with her, then the sooner she would root herself into their hearts.
It must be said that while Schnott and Quirk had roots in the Lesboner traditions, they also appreciated the advantages of unbridled jurisdiction of the Grand Colony. Part of her “streamlining” and re-organization efforts to outwardly return Morkink from the edge of financial ruin was to constantly re-shuffle and move the workers about different jobs at the Citadel.
Veteran servants from one group were suddenly transferred to another in which they had little or no experience. Having to survive with little or no training, these workers scrambled to perform m an atmosphere not unlike a child’s game of musical chairs. With just so many jobs to fill when the Grand Delegate stopped humming her tune, the one who wasn’t able to fit into a chair was tossed out.
Soon, open positions caused by either emotionally terrified workers deserting their posts, or those being eliminated due to “poor performance” were filled by friends and cohorts of the Gruesome Twosome. One of the strategies that Schnott used was slowly infiltrating the ranks of the Citadel with “Morkites” who were actually operatives brought in to fill key positions. Often these imports were bought in at superior level jobs and were less qualified to supervise their charges than those newly installed under Schnott’s attempts at “reorganization”. If the situation was too untangeable, Schnott would send the recruit packing back to Lesbonia, and leave the work for the others left behind to fill in.
This caused general chaos in most of the departments at the Citadel, with over-worked, untrained servants barely keeping up with their tasks. Many errors and sloppy results were being seen by the Morkites in the Colony who were used to prompt, courteous service from the Citadel.
However, one such “Morkite” that Schnott touted greatly as a computer and networking expert was kept in spite of her inability to gain popularity or acceptance. Schnott’s fellow Amazon Warrior, Lotsa Rebar had many unique talents. Having been GD Jewel Schnott’s former Lesboner Commando Training Officer, she was named for the purported knack of bending 3/4 inch steel rebar with her bare hands. This would gain the immediate attention and respect of her recruits. Rumor has it that once she tried that rebar trick between her knees, and it slipped, leaving her with a permanently dour disposition.
Such a devoted soldier was not to be wasted, so Queen Druida Wiccana had Rebar sent out to the best Information Technology Centers where she learned computer sciences and technological espionage. Her presence at the Citadel was justified by Schnott’s need to have an expert fix and maintain Morkink’s sick computer system. She quickly set up a system to access each of the servants’ computers and spy on their e-mails and other cyber-activities.
Being a true Lesboner, Schnott naturally hated men. She expressed this with a vengeance at the Citadel. She began pressuring the male staffers with undue demands and extreme job performance quotas. The strong, competent males she harassed without mercy. No mistakes were tolerated, and errors were met with a wrath that made Attila the Hun look like Mahatma Gandhi by comparison.
Gradually, she managed to chase off the male Morkite upper-level workers. Quitting in disgust, they couldn’t tolerate her abusive ways any longer. The hold-outs were often imprisoned on trumped-up charges, and then sent into exile. Eventually, only a few survived, they being either too weak to pose a threat, or intimidated into full compliance with Schnott’s commands.
Not wanting to appear totally ruthless, Jewel Schnott decided that a male presence on her senior staff was necessary: at least a token male presence. She had allowed a couple editorial Morkites to continue working at the RoseyCrusher Times after she had beaten and cajoled them into submission.
They would be useful to serve the purpose of reporting to the Colony about the lofty accomplishments and altruistic deeds that Schnott’s administration was achieving. Their credibility with the RoseyCrushers was established, and her firm grip on them was guaranteed to result in their blind compliance with her wishes. And such as they did.
However, Schnott and Quirk wanted another man, unsuspected by the co-workers, yet totally loyal to them. She summoned Stuftman Nonstrong from Lesbonia. He was one of the legions of eunuchs that served the Lesboners. He was a senior valet to Queen Druida Wiccana and because of his learning capacity was granted exceptional duties in her Court.

After his Eunuchflcation, he was allowed to attend classes with the young Lesboner women. Then, having demonstrated his ability to read and retain Lesbonian philosophy and culture, he was blessed with the elevation to High Priest by the Queen herself. As High Priest of Druida Wiccana, he performed all rituals, and oversaw the adherence to Lesboner traditions.
Thus, Nonstrong was anointed by Schnott into the RoseyCrushers, and brought up to speed on Morkite philosophy. She then installed him into a position at the Citadel as ritual and colonial liaison. His duties were overseeing all the rituals and gatherings in the Sacred Hall, and directing the ceremonial activities of the Morkink Grand Colony. Citing his superior knowledge of philosophy and Morkink matters, Schnott announced that he would also be reviewing and revising some of the earlier Morkite teachings as presented by the Truths, so as to bring them up to contemporary standards.
Under the guise of this lofty post, Nonstrong was actually secretly rewriting the thoughts and ideals of the Truths’ to gradually convert them to that of the Lesbonians. Nonstrong’s other real mission was to gain the confidence of co-workers, so as to observe and report the activities and goings-on of the Citadel’s servants. This he did particularly well, because his position offered him unquestioned access to all levels of the Citadel, and his seemingly foppish demeanor posed no threat. So he circulated quietly amongst the Morkite workers, listening, observing and reporting.
He also served other purposes as well. Being a Druida Wiccana High Priest he was often tapped by Schnott to conduct ceremonies in the Tradition, as well as officiating at weddings and other Lesboner activities! These were often secretly held in special chambers in the RoseyCrusher Sacred Hall at the Citadel. A fact which undoubtedly defiled the Truths’ blessing of the Hall for all Morkites, and would cause great anger and outcry from the general RoseyCrusher population had any of these clandestine activities became known.
Undaunted, GD Schott and Caring Quirk continued on their mission to erase Morkink of the Truths. Declaring several buildings at the Citadel from the Era of Truths to be “unusable” and “a waste of Citadel resources”, Schnott and Quirk proceeded with plans to raze them and erect gardens in their places containing subtle Lesboner themes.
Two of these structures, the RoseyCrusher Universal Institute (RCUI) and the Palladium of Planets were amongst the most identifiable assets from the Time of Truths.
Word of their demise quickly spread and such concern was raised, that Schnott was forced to reconsider her decision. In a gesture of magnificent generosity, Schott announced that through her “tireless efforts”, a way was discovered to save the cherished structures, and they would be incorporated into then New Citadel Plan.
However, in the same stroke, she signed off on a work order to destroy an edifice that contained a fresco, hand designed and dedicated to all RoseyCrushers by Wroif Truths. This magnificent scene stood high over the Citadel, looking down not only on the Castle and other buildings, but upon all visitors who ventured onto the grounds. Depicting the first Morkite warrior to bring the illumination of RoseyCrusher knowledge to the rest of Morkink, this work was the symbolic guardian of the sanctity of the Citadel and all of the RoseyCrushers
  Destroying this would give the Lesboners great satisfaction as it removed an element of Truths from the Citadel, and showed that even the sacred Era of Truths was not immortal. Along with the crumbling of this special wall, the demolition of the Morkink Sanctuary of Knowledge, where the Great Books were kept, was also quietly planned. Another bastion of the Truths’, the removal of this structure would, in her mind, justify Schnotts’ reversal of the other buildings’ destruction, and give her some sense of satisfaction for enacting her revenge on those faithful to the Truths.
  So plans for the new gardens were approved, and construction commenced. With great regret, the veteran Morkites helplessly watched as one-by-one, their sacred Citadel buildings were reduced to so much rubble. Without fanfare, Schnott successfully eliminated many of the places that held so many loving memories of Dr. H. Splendor Truths and his son Wrolf. No relics were saved, nor commemorations held as the Truths’ legacy was crushed under the weight the wrecking ball.
As the new gardens and structures were being built, the lush, beautifully manicured landscaping surrounding the perimeter of the Citadel was also subtly changed. Where once stood even rows of border hedges, shrubs of poisonous flowers were planted and allowed to overgrow unchecked, forming a veritable ring of thorns around the Citadel reminiscent of the Evil Queen’s Castle in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. By each entrance to the Castle building, special plants of herbs and flowers used by disciples of Druida Wiccana to ward off adversaries were planted. These silent guardians cast an unspoken spell on all those that entered, symbolically protecting the followers of the DW traditions.
When it came time for the unveiling of the new Citadel Gardens, great fanfare was hosted by Schnott. With Quirk at her side, the Destructive Duo basked in their temporary victory, as the feeling of accomplishment pervaded their beings. Not only had they been able to redo the Citadel in Lesboner fashion, but they had the added satisfaction of further ridding Morkink of the Truths, thus symbolically triumphing over all men.
  Men were not the only targets of Schnott’s purge. Not being a long-time Morkite always caused some consternation for Schnott, and by extension, Caring Quirk. After all, they were relatively new RoseyCrushers, and yet were attempting to administer and mentor other Morkites, most of whom had many years senior ranking than they.
  This was made embarrassingly obvious whenever Schnott, Quirk and other Morkites from the Citadel went out for RoseyCrusher gatherings and events. The RoseyCrusher members would often flock around these veteran luminaries, (most of whom had descended from the Time of Truths’) overshadowing the Dreadful Duo and their sense of self-importance. Quirk, in particular was perturbed by these occurrences, feeling that she and her lover, Grand Delegate Schnott should be centermost, and that their integrity suffered because of the decreased adulation paid to them.
They did not understand the devotion to the ideals of the Truths that the colonists had. The long-time Morkites that had served in the Citadel for the Truths had these honored values instilled in them, and their work carried a legitimacy that was a constant painful reminder of what Schnott and Quirk were not. Although they mouthed the words and supposedly espoused the values of Morkink, the true Morkites could sense that these cunning connivers were so much window dressing.
  GD Jewel Schnott could not control her warrior rage when the staff of senior Morkites was requested by the colonies for functions at which she should be officiating. She kept tabs on all of their failings and shortcomings, and compiled secret files on each of them for use at the opportune moments. When one of these hapless workers made an error she felt too grievous, or crossed an imaginary line of behavioral indiscretion, then she seized the opportunity to open fire and let them have a taste of her big guns.
The offending staffer was summoned to her office. And usually in the presence of Caring Quirk, the victim was verbally stretched out on the rack, shredded with fiery diatribe, humiliated to tears, stripped of position and stature, and summarily given the verdict of either banishment to a gulag in a remote corner of the colony, or exile. If banished, the worker was reassigned to a lowly position with great loss of authority, dignity, and contact with other Morkites.
Those sentenced to exile were dragged from Schnott’s office after the beating, and escorted out of Morkink, often never to be heard from again. Considering Schnott’s love of vengeance and her troop of commando operatives, her “enemy’s” chances for long-term survival was extremely doubtful.
Gradually, Schnott and Quirk were able to eliminate most of the Truths’ people from the Citadel. Besides her personal vendettas, Schnott was determined to remove any remnants of the Truths from Morkink so that her plan for total control and eventual dominion by Queen  Wiccana would be successful. One by one, those connected with the Truths fell. If they didn't flee for survival, they were dealt with swiftly and silently at Schnott’s hand. Workers disappeared without word, and those remaining were too fearful for their own safety to question these strange occurrences.