Where Am I Now?

I’ve been taking it easy since I finished Arifureta… or so it would seem. I was out of town last week, but I’ll probably release this weekend as usual. Some of you are eagerly waiting for me to return to Requiem to the Stars, and I do plan on finishing it. HOWEVER, I’m actually working on another story right now that is rapidly approaching its end.

I’ve been working over at Machineslicedbread and releasing an original story under Whizzer. I was originally trying to keep the story on the down low, since it’s a very erotic novel and very much unlike most of the other stuff I have written. I didn’t feel like it had a place on my blog, however, for a couple of reasons I decided to out myself.

So, I’ve released 34 chapters now and I release daily, which is, you can imagine, much faster than most of my other releases. If you’re already reading it, thank you for all of your support. If you were eyeballing it and wanted a reason to try it, well… it’s humorous but also full of really dark themes. I hope you should enjoy. It is very much rated X, so adults only.

Tales of a Seductress

Author: Whizzer

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After an unfortunate mishap with some stairs, I found myself in a fantasy world filled with sex and violence. Stripped of everything and turned into breeding stock by the first band of goblins I encountered, I turned to the only weapon I had available to me, sex! Now, I’m a seductress, the first and only RPG class that weaponizes the art of XXX. I will survive this new and dangerous world the only way I know how: one guy at a time.

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Table of Contents

Tales of a Seductress – Prologue

 

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Time and Place – Chapter 3

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Warning: This chapter doesn’t match up perfectly with the prologue. I had rewritten the prologue to skip all this straight to chapter 4 based on some people’s complaints, but I decided to give you the whole shebang to push the other world aspect of this story, which is less apparant if you start from chapter 4… so let me know if you guys like these three chapters, or would prefer the time jump yourselves. 

Chapter 3

Darian woke up with the light beating down on his face from a nearby open window. Despite his midnight awakening, he felt more refreshed than he had been in a long time. Something big was coming. He could feel it. It was almost a premonition of sorts. His life was going to change forever, and that was going to start today.

The dream he had had the previous night was long gone. He never remembered the dreams. He knew they were always bad dreams, but the general feeling was all he could remember. At this point, he only had the vaguest memory he had gotten up in the middle of the night at all. It usually took him an hour or two before he was actually awake anyway.

Darian dived out of bed, jumping over the piles of laundry before leaving his room. He quickly ate a bowl of cereal and then threw on a pair of pants. He quickly tossed his shirt aside before donning a new one. He took one last glance over his apartment.

It wasn’t a particularly large apartment, being an affordable one bedroom. He kept it fairly clean. After knowing he would be gone for a week he had made sure every dish in the sink was clean the night before. He had taken out the trash, vacuumed parts of the floor free of laundry, and cleaned the toilet.

Despite this, the place always seemed to look cluttered. The table always contained more things than a table should necessarily have. The countertops were full of display after display of things that had seemed cool at the time. Most of the stuff had a use for one thing or another. None of it was what he would consider garbage. Simply put, he had more stuff than he had room for in his apartment. He had become used to having access to all of these things during the time he had lived with his girlfriend in a substantially bigger apartment. He had never gotten over the change.

Once he had a job, perhaps he would be able to afford a larger apartment. It was always possible. The lights were off, the water was off, and the toilet was not running. He ran through the mental list in his head, checking off each item as it came. After a quick nod to himself, Darian shut the door, locked it and turned away.

It was a good thing he never kept any animals; it would make things easier for him. He did not hate animals; he just never felt the desire to take care of them. Maybe he would get a cat when he got the money. He could use the companionship. He’d get one as long as it was declawed and neutered. And probably a short haired cat. Or hairless. Did cats come hairless? He remembered seeing hairless cats on TV but never in real life. The ones on the TV were pretty ugly, weren’t they?

He shook his head and continued to leave his apartment. He entered the car and turned the key. The car didn’t start. The engine clearly turned over, making a gasping revving sound. He could hear subtle clicks in the background as well. He rolled his eyes and sighed. He knew nothing about car mechanics. Well, that was where the first bit of his money would go.

Outside was sunny, and it seemed like a nice day for a walk. How far was it to the laboratory? He thought it was about two miles. That was no problem. Once his feet started moving down the nearby sidewalk he relished that it was actually a pretty nice day. The sun was out and shining. The weather wasn’t humid and the sun felt pretty good on his back and shoulders. He knew his way, as long as he kept near the streets, but he had never been out and about.

He lived in an area of town that was not dangerous. However, it was not too safe either. It never seemed worth the risk exposing himself to danger by walking. Ever since the accident, he typically avoided walking. Should he get struck by another car, he’d prefer the protection of 2 tons of vehicle designed to keep him safe.

He passed several intersections, walking across each one, looking both ways over and over again before continuing onward. He never ran across an intersection anymore. He noticed as he passed a couple more intersections that the quality of town was degrading. He knew the laboratory was in a worst area of town than he lived. He seemed to live right on the border between what was considered the good area of town and the bad area. It is what helped him afford his rent.

There were a few people out and about, although none of them seemed to be paying any attention to his passage. On his right he saw a beggar. The woman wore torn clothing that hanged so loosely that it resembled robes. She looked washed, although her clothing did not. Her hair had the greasy reminder of someone who had little to no access to shampoo. She wore sunglasses and held a cane, strongly suggesting to Darian that she was blind. He didn’t know for certain, of course, that could always just be a gimmick. Nevertheless, she held a cup in her hand, neither rattling it nor acknowledging his passage. She simply held it steady and stared ahead.

He dug out a handful of change from his pocket. His pockets always contained tons of change. He dropped it into her cup. Her expression didn’t alter a hair. Startled by the lack of a thank you or even a nod, Darian stopped cold.

“Ma’am?”

The beggar jumped as if she had been goosed.

“Could you please donate?” She asked starring off. She must have been blind.

“I already gave you some change ma’am…” Darian sighed, a little bewildered and quickly regretting having said anything.

Her head suddenly snapped, turning directly towards him. Although he couldn’t see her eyes behind the sunglasses, he knew they were directly focused on his. He attempted to back off a step.

Her hand leaped out and grabbed his arm. The grip was tight, and had he been a younger or smaller person it might have hurt him.

“Excuse me, let go please,” He said, trying to back up again.

Her step followed his, her eyes never moving and her hand tightening a little more on his arm.

“You…you I don’t see. You aren’t meant to be seen.”

He had decided to confront a crazy woman. This day did seem to be a miserable day after all.

“You are not supposed to be here… you are supposed to be there. Why aren’t you there?”

“Um… I am trying to get … there, let me go and I will go over there right now,” He was starting to become desperate, eager for her to let go. He had no fear of beggars, but he feared that trying to get her to leave him alone would look like he was badgering her. All he needed was to get handcuffed and thrown in the back of a police car for assaulting a poor blind woman.

“No… no… you lie. You aren’t trying to get there…. But I see… I see now. You don’t see but I see. You are heading there right now and you don’t even know. So go… go seal your fate. Go meet your destiny,” She let go of his arm and took a step back, suddenly looking placid again.

He turned and took several quick steps before moving down the street at a fast pace.

Leave this world, and meet your fate!” He could suddenly hear her screaming behind him.

A couple of people nearby glanced around, looking to see where the screaming was coming from. Darian did not look back as he continued to move as fast as he could, a blush on his cheeks from the embarrassment of it all.

Darian continued his fast paced walk until the building that contained the laboratory was in sight. Wanting to get out of the street as quickly as possible, he stormed through the front door and stopped just short of running over Pam. She tsk’d a sound of dissatisfaction after almost being knocked to the ground.

However, Darian immediately forgot about the beggar when he laid his eyes on Pam. Her hair was let down. It flowed down the back of her neck. It was wavy and sleek, easily transforming her face from the stretch out look she had before into downright beautiful. She wore a black shirt which he could only assume was from some heavy metal band complete with a pair of worn jeans complete with knee holes. They looked like designer jeans, the holes placed intentionally as opposed to through wear and tear. Instead of the thick glasses she wore contacts. He assumed they were contacts.  The odd half smile that was plastered falsely on her face was replaced with a genuine bored frown. The whole combination turned her from an assistant secretary into an attractive young woman of about his age.

“Wow, you look, different,” he said before he could stop himself.

She glanced up at him, before rolling her eyes.

“It’s Saturday. My temp job ended Friday. I wouldn’t even be here if Dr. Dhillon didn’t beg to have me here one more day.”

“Well, you look really beau… eehhh…um… good,” Darian quickly said, trying to prevent a blush from appearing on his cheeks.

“Heh, my mom would disagree,” She snorted, a small mischievous smile appearing on her face, “but thank you.”

Darian nodded, another blush starting to come.

“So, where to?” He asked, trying to sound casual.

“Well, Dr. Dhillon is late, so I suppose we will just have to wait until he sees fit to show up,” Pam shook her head in irritation.

“So have you been a temp long?” Darian inquired to fill the silence.

“Long enough… it would have been nice had someone told you that a college degree is useless without experience.”

Darian let out a chuckle, “I know exactly what you mean. I suppose secretary temp is a smarter move than laboratory rat.”

She joined him with a laugh, “Well in retrospect, I think you have me beat.”

She had a very beautiful smile. Now that he saw her in a less formal environment, he wondered how she had ever grated on his nerves before.

“So, what are you doing in a week?”

She snorted a laugh before glancing him over. Her hand touched her hip as she bent back, examining him in a seductive way. In a flash, he became incredibly aware of her body and form. He wasn’t exactly sure what she did to turn her body from a woman standing there to an attractive woman seductively appraising a man, but she was doing it.

A sly smile came onto her lips, but just as she opened them to speak the door opened and Dr. Dhillon walked in.

“Yes… good to see you both. Pam, have you done the paperwork?” Dr. Dhillon’s eyes were on his papers, having only briefly looked up upon entering.

The subtle changes to how Pam held herself had already changed back to normal from their previously more memorable arrangement. However, Darian had already noticed her body and was having a harder time not seeing what Pam’s jeans and shirt were hiding.

“No sir, we were waiting on you. I wasn’t sure if you had any more papers for me,” a blush settled on Pam’s cheeks as she looked awkward and little out of place, as if she had been caught with her hands in a cookie jar.

“No, I do not, please get them finished so we can begin,” Dr. Dhillon said as he walked out of the room.

“Come with me, I will have to…. process you,” She smiled sheepishly as she walked by him, her waist wiggling slightly more than was necessary as he followed her.

A giant smirk came on his face. She hadn’t said yes yet, but he wasn’t that stupid, nor was she that subtle. They entered the same office she had interviewed him in the day before.

“This won’t be as torturous as the day before,” she said, a genuine smile on her face, “but I need to put your information in, so I will need your driver’s license and crap like that and then you get the check.”

He handed over his driver’s license and she put in the information. While she typed in information, she occasionally gave him a glance, followed by a smirk and then a blush. Suddenly, she frowned.

“That’s odd…” She mumbled to herself.

“What?” Darian asked, wishing to see her smile again.

“The internet is out. It doesn’t really matter; I just can’t sync the information online.” Pam shook her head again.

Finally she printed something out. After a few quick stamps and a staple, she handed him the papers to sign.

While he was signing at each of the stamps she pulled out another piece of paper, printed on it, before she turned it over and wrote some things on the back. When he had finished signing the papers he handed them to her. She handed him the single paper. As he grabbed it she held on.

“This is your check. You will be able to cash it in one week, “She said, a smile returning on her face, “Since I know you’re rich, you’re paying. I like Italian.”

She let go of the paper. He looked at it. On the back of the paper was written “Pam 551-7573” He grinned.

“You get going; I will see you in a week. I am out of here!” She stood up and put out her hand.

Not knowing what to do, he shook it. She suddenly blushed, realizing the silliness of shaking his hand after agreeing to go on a date.

“Call me, one week,” She said, putting up a finger before backing up a step, a blush still on her face.

He nodded, giving her a grin, “I will.”

After Pam had left the office Darian reread what she wrote again before tucking it into his pocket. Knowing his luck, he would probably forget to write the number down somewhere before cashing it. However, that check in his pocket was probably one of the luckiest things he would ever experience. So far, it seemed like his predictions for a better future were coming true.

He left the office, traveling down the sickly yellow hall he had traveled down once before. When he approached the double doors he found them open and walked into the lab. Dr. Dhillon was there, typing in commands at a nearby terminal.  After a few more seconds of typing, Dr. Dhillon looked up.

“Ah, good. I suppose we are ready. You must take off all of your clothes to start. You may wear one of our gowns over there,” Dr. Dhillon nodded to a bench at the side of the room.

Darian took off his shirt as he walked over to the bench. He saw a blue disposable gown with one size fits all sitting on the bench. He put the gown on, tying it in the back, and then pulled off his pants and underwear, leaving them on the bench. He was a little relieved that Pam had left for this part. Being naked and unconscious does not make a great impression on a potentially new girlfriend. Darian also possessed the nagging suspicion that if she was still here, or worse, worked here over the course of the week, she would sneak a peek at some point and time. She seemed like the curious type.

Darian blushed as he thought of the implications of being naked and subsequently unconscious for the next week, before shaking his head from the odd thoughts.

“Please lie on the table, thank you,” Dr. Dhillon said as Darian performed the inquired task.

Dr. Dhillon seemed much quieter today than he had been the previous day. He had a kind of quiet intensity when he was working that Darian found a little unsettling.  He began applying a strange substance over Darian’s arms and legs before asking Darian to put it on every part of his body he can reach. Dhillon explained it was an antibacterial substance to help preserve the skin.

Once the substance was all over his skin, Dr. Dhillon pulled out a needle. After tapping it and measuring the amount, Dr. Dhillon glanced down at Darian.

“This is it. I will see you in a week,” Dr. Dhillon nodded, “Good luck.”

Darian barely noticed the needle prick as everything began to go dark. The last thought in his head were thoughts of a better tomorrow.

 

*****

 

Dr. Dhillon finished putting the young Darian to sleep before putting in the IV line. He felt it was always easier to have the subject unconscious when the work was conducted. It was more comfortable for both parties involved. He attached the IV bag and waited as the substance began to enter Darian’s system.

Dr. Dhillon waited for some time, making sure that the patient was asleep and the narcotic was effective. He was glad he had the dose right. What he had purchased here wasn’t technically through legal means and he feared the potency might be compromised. Dr. Dhillon sighed. The next time he will be relieved is when Darian awakes a week later.

It wasn’t easy finding a patient to use for this experiment. You would need someone both with a ridiculous amount of free time in order to be able to afford a week off of work, and be both drug-free and healthy with no ailments. Possessing both those features seemed to be harder than Dr. Dhillon had originally thought.

Thankfully, Darian had come along. Dr. Dhillon had had to slide the whole concussion thing under the rug for the continuity of the experiment, but it shouldn’t have any effect on the young man anyway. If this experiment worked, more grant money would become available. Dr. Dhillon had been shocked when all of his work and funding had been cut due to the lack of “viable product” from cryogenic stasis. Of course “cryogenic” was a completely false word, since temperature had no play on the stasis Dr. Dhillon created. However, people seemed to more easily understand what putting someone into stasis means if you simply add the false line cryogenic.

Dr. Dhillon had lied however. Proper stasis required a little bit more than external control. Darian still faced an internal stasis, his body wouldn’t last. He would continue to age, as if he was in a coma, until he inevitably died. He might age slower than a normal human being, but his body would face the wear and tear of daily abuses of the environment. In order to prevent that from happening, Darian had to be sealed.

Dr. Dhillon unlocked the wheels on the gurney, pushing his patient to the elevator. One of the reasons Dhillon had chosen this building was because of a bomb shelter that had been built underground. He had cleaned it up himself. He liked doing things himself. It actually made a splendid airtight clean room.

When the elevator hit the bottom floor, he cleaned himself up, scrubbing with antibacterial lotion. He pushed his patient up to the door and opened the bomb shelter door. The door was about 12 inches thick. The room wasn’t a clean room in the sense of being bacteria free, but it was cleaner than anything else he had to work with.

A coffin-like metal box sat in the middle of the room. This was the last step. With some difficulty, he managed to transfer Darian into the box, before closing it on him. Using a welder, he sealed the edges of the box.

He then attached tubing to a nearby pressure gauge. He turned the vacuum on and watched as a vacuum began to form in the box. Once the vacuum finished, he disconnected and closed the valve. He turned to a nearby computer, entering in the commands he had practiced hundreds of times in his head. A nearby generator kicked on and began humming loudly. The stasis field should be up and running now.

“Sleep tight, young Darian, sleep tight,” the doctor spoke to the silent box.

Sighing, he watched for a minute before nodding. In one week, his life would be different. He would have the grant money, and his research would revolutionize the world. On the way out he sealed the bomb shelter. There was no reason for it. No one even knew it was down here, but it seemed like the right thing to do.

******

Nas’Dera watched as Dr. Dhillon walked out of the laboratory. He had regained consciousness sometime before.  The shaking had seemed to settle out. For that he was thankful.  Several more of the stars above had disappeared, seeming to push the darkness heavier on his shoulders.

Dr. Dhillon wasn’t an evil man. Unethical perhaps, certainly a law breaker, but he wasn’t evil. The doctor was walking towards his car, his keys in his hand. Nas ‘Dera watched as a man came out from the dark, pulling a gun on Dr. Dhillon. His hands went straight up as he saw the man, his keys falling to the ground in the process. Nas ‘Dera couldn’t hear anything, but the man’s gestures strongly suggested he wanted money.

Nas ‘Dera paused the scene. He adjusted the angles so that he looked almost as if he was looking through the mugger’s eyes.  He could see into Dr. Dhillon’s terrified eyes. He had never killed a man before, never. He was old. So very old. He had lived an eternity. He had loved women, and men. He had had and lost children. He had hurt people, abused people, hated people. He had never killed anyone though. Never directly. He reached into the image, grabbing the gun and pulling the trigger. It had to be this way.

The terrified and confused mugger watched as Dr. Dhillon dropped to the ground in a pool of his own blood. The man ran before collecting the money he had intended to steal. It probably felt like something akin to a ghost passing through the body, what Nas ‘Dera had done.

He wept silently for several minutes. He did not relish what he had done. Even though it was a single life, amongst trillions, it still hurt him to be the cause of that death. He wiped the tears from his eyes, he was not done yet. He moved the fragile artifact cautiously, refocusing his view on Darian, asleep in a box. He began to carefully select several keys, constructing a field over the entire room.

The doctor’s research was an amateur. It would have worked, to an extent, and may very well have made the man rich, but its’ capacity to put someone into any real stasis was limited. Now, Darian was ready to wait. There was a future to look forward to now. The darkness came, and the champion needed to be there to meet it, whatever the cost.

Nas ‘Dera looked up, the darkness continuing to roil in the sky above as another star winked out.

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Time and Place – Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

Darian’s eyes snapped open. He felt numb all over, as if he had been recently struck by something large, yet hadn’t started to feel the pain from the blow yet. He attempted to move, first wiggling his toes, then bending his ankle back and forth.  He seemed to be lying face down on the ground. A quick exhale from his nose pushed away the few strands of grass that tickled it. After a few more seconds of moving his ankles, he started to gain feeling again. Slowly, he pushed himself off the ground to his knees, giving a start as to where he was.

He sat at the edge of a valley, or at least it resembled one. The place looked washed out, the greens not quite vibrant enough, a gray overcast over everything. He looked up, shivering at the sight of a gray sky. The sky wasn’t overcast, cloudy, or approaching darkness. The sky was simply the color of gray rather than blue. The sun was strangely larger than it should have been. It was tinted red, standing high at noon.

He glanced around, seeing a strange group of ruins scattered across the valley.  They seemed made from obsidian, a dark shiny black that stood out of the ground, resonating a sort of presence. As Darian rose to his feet, he uncomfortably scratched the back of his neck. The feeling of eyes watching him was making him a bit uncomfortable. He glanced across the ruins but could see no people, yet the feeling as if he was being watched would not subside.

Darian began to walk. Although the numbness did not fade, he still could feel the presence of his legs. He managed to find balance as he continued onward, unconsciously avoiding a stone notched out of the ground where a road might have once been. He seemed drawn, although he could not have said where. Some place within the ruins it seemed, which became more ominous and threatening as he continued to walk deeper within.

As the ruins began to surround him, Darian began to feel of sense of familiarity. He had been here before.

“In a dream, perhaps?” his mind wondered, “Is this a dream?”

He shook his head, as if to shake away the confusing thoughts. When he glanced back up, he stood in front of a large oak doorway. Was that doorway there before? He couldn’t remember. However, now there stood a small building in front of him, made of the same dark obsidian that carpeted the rest of this valley. Darian was surprised by how clean the obsidian looked, now that he was up close. By the way this area resembled a ruin he would have expected them to be covered in dust, dirt, and age. Despite this, the obsidian looked bright, smooth, and well polished.

Darian returned his attention to the door. The thick oak door contrasted strangely against the rest of the ruins. It looked heavy. Darian went to open it, bracing himself against the rust, weight, and time that almost assuredly kept the door sealed. To his surprise, it came open quickly and easily. Darian took a single step back, finding himself quickly balanced. The sudden jolt should have caused him to stumble back and fall. The fact that he had maintained his balance so fluidly was a bit unnerving.

He peered within the door. It was a stairway. The stairway itself was very dark, stretching up at least two stories. The building outside did not look to be that tall, but this was only a distant thought. At the top, a faint light rose, suggesting someone or something was up there. Darian only hesitated a second before taking a step. The darkness seemed to caress him like a coat, and the unseen eyes seemed to lesson a bit to his comfort. He continued up, growing more confident with each step.

The light grew brighter. A strange sort of numbness began to overtake him. It felt like his arms and legs were becoming jelly. Each step became harder and harder to take, as if he was being pushed backwards. Then the voice began to speak.

“The darkness. The darkness comes,” the deep voice resonated across the corridors.

The light grew brighter. He began to pant. His hands went down to support his body, but he continued to crawl up the stairway, the light seeming so distant.

“Only light keeps away the darkness,” The voice continued.

The voice did not seem to be talking directly to Darian, at least he felt like it was not. It was hard. Thinking was hard.

“The balance of the universe is broken. The light prevailed, so the darkness rises to compensate. Restore the balance.”

Exhaustion seemed to overtake him. This was the hardest thing he had ever done… but if he didn’t reach that light, he knew there would be nothing but darkness left in his wake. He had to… he had to what? Restore the balance? What balance? The thoughts fell out of his head like water through fingers.

“A champion is needed. Change is needed.”

The light grew brighter. His eyes burned with unshed tears but he could not look away. The light burned into his vision and he could not see anything around him. Even the stairway in front of him looked like a dark blur. His hands moved from step to step as he continued to crawl forward, feeling his way more than anything.

“A champion has been selected. A champion of light, a champion of darkness, a champion of balance.

The light grew brighter. He had to reach it, was he moving towards it? He didn’t know, but the world depended on that light being reached, if he could just touch it. He kept moving; it felt like an eternity. Ever second could have lasted days. Time was meaningless, only the light mattered. He reached out his hand, stretching towards the light, and then his finger brushed something.

“Be ready…”

The world fell away and he began to tumble. He couldn’t tell where up and down was, his body flaying in every direction as he tried to gain a grasp on the situation.  The tumbling didn’t stop, his head hurt, and he could see nothing but the darkness. He had touched the light, hadn’t he?

He hit the bottom. There was no concrete feeling of hitting anything. He simply was spinning uncontrollably one minute, and now he was not. There was no pain, but the suddenness caused his mind to lurch, the world seeming to continue to spin for several moments afterward. He tried moving again, and found that the earlier weakness was gone. What weakness? He shook his head; it was so hard to think.

He looked around to find himself in the same ruins once again, but everything was different. The grass was gone and the barren ground was dry and cracked. The sky above overcast an eerie red color, the sun seeming bigger than before. The ruins looked very decayed and crumbled. What once were grand monuments of obsidian appeared as broken gray rocks, falling over from an unknown constant pressure.

The eyes were gone. There was nothing living left. He had failed them all. Failed who? He shook his head once again.

“It’s not too late,” a voice whispered from behind him.

Darian spun around, but saw nothing. It was a different voice than the one before. What voice before? He could still hear something though. It sounded like whispering, just at the edge of his hearing. He began to walk towards the voices. The whispering sounded louder, but still unintelligible. His pace continued to increase until he was jogging. Where were they? He could almost understand them.

“Hello?” He shouted.

The voices stopped. He looked around. He was in front of some kind of doorway. It looked to be completely unattached to anything else. Through the doorway, Darian only saw blackness. He walked around it twice and on the other side was a stone wall blocking entrance to the door. The door wasn’t large, just big enough for Darian to walk through.

He took a big breath before continuing forward. He had to keep moving forward. As his body touched the darkened doorway a bright light seemed to flash in his eyes. He blinked several times as purple blotches clouded his vision. As his sight returned, he realized he was standing amongst darkness. Nothing around him was visible past his own arms and legs. He wasn’t even sure what he was standing on.

Darian turned two complete circles in complete darkness before he saw another person standing nearby. Had the person suddenly appeared, or had he always been there? The person seemed to emit a glow of their own, allowing them to be seen, yet their face and features seemed indistinct surrounded by the darkness. Darian tentatively began to take steps towards the other person.

As the figure got closer, Darian gasped. He recognized the other man’s face. It was his own face. The man had a dark cast to his eyes. Darian didn’t think that his own eyes held such a malevolent cast; it was gleeful yet sadistic. The man had a calm, confident, reassuring smile. It didn’t match the darkness in those eyes.

“Darkness becomes you,” The other Darian said, his dark eyes never seeming to blink.

“Who…who are you?” Darian asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” the man laughed as he lounged forward.

Darian screamed as the dagger he never saw coming plunged towards his heart.

Darian woke with a gasp. His heart seemed to hurt. He was pretty sure he woke before the dagger struck home, but it was so close. What was so close? The dream was already fading from his mind. He tried to think about it, to drag the memories into conscious thought, but they were already slipping away. All he could remember now was that it was an uncomfortable dream.

He rubbed his chest; it felt tight. Glancing over at the alarm clock he saw that it was 3:00 in the morning. He groaned. This was going to be a rough night. He had started having nightmares ever since his accident. Many of his nights ended up being quite restless. He was never entirely sure why he had them, but he never could remember what they were. Evil eyes? He shook his head, the thought was fleeting.

The room was dark and cluttered. He feared stumbling on something before making it to the light, but he decided he had no choice. Fortunately, after stepping over two piles of clothes he managed to reach the light switch without stepping on anything particularly hard or uncomfortable. He had three or four blankets of various colors thrown on the bed, but only one pillow. He always felt he only needed one pillow.

He realized he would need to the laundry again upon kicking a third pile of laundry out of his way to open the door to his bathroom. The bathroom itself was meticulously clean. No piles of anything in here. The bathroom was a place to get clean. It would certainly be counterproductive to dirty up a room that is designed to get clean in.

Darian splashed some water on his face, took a deep sigh, and examined himself in the mirror. He had seen better days, although fortunately, he hadn’t been as reckless as many of his peers had been. He never drank to excess, always wore sunscreen, and had been pretty careful crossing the street ever since his mishap. If he managed to get better sleep in the upcoming future, the dark spots under his eyes might go away and he might look halfway presentable.

He glanced back up at the mirror and started. For a second, it looked as if his eyes looked darker than they should be. He shuddered at the thought. He had to get some more sleep. He must have been more tired than he had thought.

He jumped back into his bed. Just as his head hit the pillow he realized he had left the light on again. Grumbling he shoved his head in the pillow, willing the light to be off so that he wouldn’t need to go turn it out. Releasing a quick grunt, he stood and put the light out before jumping back into bed a second time.

A week of dreamless sleep? He could definitely use it. These dreams were always a part of him, unsettling as they were. He went back to sleep. The only thing he dreamed about for the rest of the night was how his life would start changing for the better.

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Hawtness – Volume 2 – Chapter 5

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Beam Me Up

I watched the giant screen in front of us as Earth continued to grow in size. It took me longer before I saw a little speck that started to grow into a ship. It seemed to be trailing smoke, but was heading a fairly steady pace towards a small satellite.

“Fire at their bow!”

Rune looked at the control and then touched a button. A giant beam shot out from their ship on screen, striking the little ship. A large explosion rocked it and its engines shut off.

“I said fire at the bow, not up its nose.” Allan looked back angrily.

Rune shrugged, “You say that like I know how to aim. Or what a bow is for that matter.”

Allan readjusted his glasses, “Ridiculous. Fine, it did the job. It looks like their life support hasn’t been breached. Everyone, grab a gun. We’ll teleport over there and politely ask them for the coordinates.”

He reached over to tap a few keys on his wristpad. Then he stopped, reaching down and pulling up a strange looking sensor module from under one of the consoles. He nodded to himself before proceeding to type the code.

A strange pulling feeling came from my gut. Suddenly, a bright light shone in my vision and I felt like I was being stretched once again. I hit the ground moving, pulling up the small ray gun Allan had given me, looking for any threats from the cult. The ship was heavily damaged. Wires, sparks, and alarms shot off from every direction.

The others twisted their guns around, doing the same thing. There didn’t appear to be anyone standing. Allan relaxed, moving throughout the much smaller ships small single room. There were two bodies of clocked men lying on the ground. Allan checked them before moving to the only computer console that wasn’t destroyed.

“Andrew…” a voice came from a third cloaked man lying under a collapsed beam.

Andrew froze in place, turning towards the man.

“I… must tell you something.” The injured man said.

“What is it?”

“Andrew… I am your uncle.”

Andrew’s eyes widened, “No… that’s not true, that’s impossible.”

“Take off my hood, you know it be true.”

Andrew hesitantly approached the cultist, kneeling next to him and lifting the hood. Andrew’s facial expression confirmed what I had feared. The man had several distinct features that resembled Andrew.”

“Why? You’re an Angel? Why would you be in a Star Wars Cult?”

“Star Wars is for all people and ages, but that is not what is important. Your father has been lying to you. He’s been lying to all of us.”

“What are you talking about, old man?”

“The Archangels aren’t what they appear. The cult… is trying to… is trying….” Andrew’s uncle grimaced in pain, a dribble of blood coming from his mouth.

“Don’t die on me!” Andrew yelled, “What are you talking about? The cult is the bad guy.”

Andrew’s uncle shook his head, coughing up more blood in the process. Before his uncle could say more, the screen in the front of the ship lit up. On the screen was Prince Skyp.

“I have to thank the group of you. You brought me to my bridge. Flew it to where I wanted to go. Then peacefully left me there to retake command.”

Allan glanced over at me, “You were supposed to tie him up.”

“How was I supposed to know that? He was unconscious! Besides, you’re the one who decided to beam us all over here.”

Rune nodded, “Yeah, that wasn’t very bright for a hyperintelligent alien.”

Allan adjusted his glasses, “Ridiculous.”

Chuckling came from the screen, “I pretended to be sicker than I was as a clever ruse to convince you to let your guard down. Now, if you’d all like to do me one more favor. Kindly, die!”

The screen went out. Allan began typing on the computer monitor frantically.

“This sensor module I grabbed can relay the command codes remotely, we are now close enough to do so. I am sending them now. I’ll need a minute to get the satellite’s running, stall him!” Allan barked out.

“Stall him how?” Rune demanded.

“Just go over to that terminal over there. There should be a large green button. It activates the defense parameters on the ship. Ryan, get to the pilot’s seat. The main thrusters are down but you should be able to use the auxiliary thrusters.”

The two of them snapped into motion. Rune slammed his hand down on the big green button while Ryan tried to steer the ship.

“Um… there are a bunch of red dots traveling towards our central green dot.” Rune pointed to the screen.

Allan busily typed at the computer.

“Allan, the dots are getting closer to the big dot!”

“Rune, did you press the green button?”

“Dammnit, I’m pressing the green button, I’m pressing the green button as fast as I can. The green button does nothing. The green button is bullshit.”

Allan’s eyes widened, “Brace for impact!”

The ship suddenly exploded in sparks and lens flare all around me. I collapsed to the ground as the ship shook like an earthquake.

“I got it!” Allan shouted over the sound of thundering explosions.

The explosions slowed and then stopped, the ship still shuddering, but in a controlled manner that allowed me to stand. I glanced out of the window. It looked like the Prince’s ship was being fired upon by numerous smaller ships.

Allan slapped his hands, “The defense grid is up! Earth is safe!”

“Earth might be safe,” Ryan interrupted, “but this ship is falling apart. All engines are down. We are collapsing into earth’s orbit. I expect we will strike the earth’s atmosphere in two minutes and explode.”

“The good news is that it looks like the little Prince is retreating.” Rune said, pointing at the screen.

“Can we land this thing?” Allan asked, looking at Ryan.

“We are not positioned for proper atmosphere reentry.” Ryan answered.

“Can you teleport us to Earth?” I offered.

Allan lowered his head, a depressed look on his face, “Yes, but my ship was destroyed on the moon. If we lose this ship, I will be stranded on your planet.”

“Allan…”

“Ridiculous…” Allan reached down, typing some keys into his pad.

“Andrew, we need to go.” I turned to him and then stopped.

He was covering the eyes of his uncle, who laid motionless now.

“I’m so sorry,” I moved over, wrapping my arms around his back.

Andrew raised his hand up to mine, grabbing it and giving a squeeze. “He wasn’t able to tell me why he betrayed my father. All he said was ‘follow the dead’, whatever that means.”

“We need to get going Andrew, we can probably take his body with us.”

Andrew shook his head. “It’s considered a great honor for Angels to be cremated in the clouds. This might not be very orthodox, but burning in the atmosphere, higher than any other angel has ever reached, is the least I could allow him. Let’s go.”

I led Andrew away from the body of his uncle. The group of us gathered around Allan. He nodded to each of us in turn, a depressed look on his face. He pressed a button, and the world erupted in a flash.

*****

“You can’t stay here, Allan. I’m already stuck with a gender confused love demon and a time traveling cowardly lion. I really don’t need a silver wearing super-intelligent alien living with me as well.” I stated.

“Ridiculous. It’s grey, not silver, and this color just happens to look good on me. Besides, I am not interested in living with you. I have found an adequate place to stay for the meantime.”

“That’s good, I guess.” I sighed. “Do you want to come in? Mom’s out right now. We can chat in my living room.”

Allan nodded and joined me. We stood awkwardly for a few minutes in the living room, avoiding looking at each other. It had been almost a week since we had returned from the ship. Andrew had pushed himself off into seclusion, looking into what his uncle had told him. The rest of the boys were the same as always.

Stephan was still looking into the disappearances. Daniel was very concerned at our forty-eight hour disappearance, and checked up on me constantly. Victor was still away on a tour. Alex covered my butt again with my mom, just a little jealous that she didn’t get to come along on this trip.

Just two days prior, Mr. Xavier had propositioned to recover the zero I got from a missed quiz to a 100%. How desperate did the creep think I was? I politely explained to him that school policy excused absences, and that I had been called in on both days thanks to Alex. He couldn’t give me a zero even if he wanted to do so. He was not happy about it, but he did quiet down when I mentioned telling the counselors I was being sexually harassed.

“So…” I began, “What have you been doing these days?”

“I’ve decided since I am stranded on Earth, I might as well complete my mission of data gathering. It is a lot of the reason I came here.”

“That was something I forgot to ask; what kind of information are you gathering on Earth?”

“My current mission,” Allan readjusted his glasses, “is to acquire a complete knowledge base on the mating habits of intelligent life forms on Earth.”

“Excuse me?”

“Of course, even monkeys and dolphins have some intelligence, so I have been collecting research already performed on this planet on a very large array of animals. Humans, on the other hand, have been tricky. Gaining consent, for example, would almost certainly require me to reveal that I’m an alien. It is so much easier with someone who already knows.”

“I really don’t like where this is going.”

“You see, you seem to be a perfect research specimen to gain a better understanding of human breeding practices. You are at the prime viral ages of female adolescence, and are currently being courted by a large array of Alpha type males.”

“I am not,” I sputtered, “What are you even talking about?”

“I believe that if I keep observing you, I will be able to collect a fairly comprehensive assortment of data on male and female interactions.”

“Allan, it’s not… I don’t…. you…” I couldn’t come up with anything to say.

“Now, I am working on understanding certain research material I recently acquired; I was hoping for your help in explaining it.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Well, for example, I’ve recently found this piece.” Allan pulled out what looked like a DVD case and handed to me.

As soon as my brain registered what I was looking at, I dropped it like a snake. “Wha… what are you doing with that?”

Allan calmly bent over and picked it up. “I told you, performing research. This DVD ‘Naughty Vixens 3’ seems to engage in women spending a great deal of time spanking each other. This seems to arouse the man, who then in turn spanks both women. Would you describe this as a typical mating ritual for humans?”

“I…” I shrugged, at a loss for words.

“And can you please explain to me the idea of ‘BDSM’? I’ve seen the term before, but it always seems to lead to this book ’50 shades of grey’. The book seems to possess more of this spanking, as well as a certain degree of chains and straps. I am also curious about this concept, dirty talk. It seems to suggest that calling women derogatory terms will prepare them for sexual intercourse.”

“Allan.” I cringed. “Can’t you ask the health teacher about this?”

“I already did, he shook his head and walked away. Maybe I should ask Alex…”

“No! No, don’t ask her,” I didn’t even want to think about what she would tell him.

Allan stopped talking and watched me, waiting for an answer. I pinched my nose, squeezing my eyes shut. I was entirely too young to give this talk.

“Allan, you’re going to freaking owe me after this one.” I demanded. “I only know these things because Samantha has wasted entirely too much time corrupting my mind.”

Allan nodded calmly.

“Here, let me introduce you to the internet.”

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Hawtness – Volume 2 – Chapter 4

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Tied Up

“So we’re in space jail now.”

“That would appear to be the case,” Ryan responded.

“Soon, the entire planet will be invaded, and the entire human race enslaved.”

“While we do not know the true purposes of the cult, it would seem that the imminent destruction of Earth would be a logical conclusion.”

“Well,” Andrew interjected, “It seems to be the cults desire to acquire new weaponry. I imagine they might use those satellites to initiate a war between my people and Rune’s.”

“Well, there is a bright side. Our planet might not be invaded, instead, it will be thrown into the middle of a magical world war.” I added sarcastically, “Can’t you guys cut through the walls or shoot a fireball or something?”

“No,” Rune’s mouth twisted, “My power comes from the demon realm. It’s located parallel to earth. When I’m not on Earth, I don’t have any powers. When I’m in orbit, I can barely cast a little fire. On the moon? Forget it.”

I glanced over at Andrew and he shrugged and nodded.

“Just great, you guys could have told me you were shooting blanks before we got to this point. What about you Ryan?”

“My systems have returned to a fully operational condition. However, this cell has no access ports for me to hack. I can punch the wall, but I calculate it would take three months and two weeks of continuous punching to break through this door. Should I begin?”

“A guard will come within a minute. Don’t worry about it.” Andrew stated.

I sighed, leaning back. At least my sickness was starting to go away, but, that wasn’t going to make me feel any better. We had failed, and there was nothing we could do except wait until the very end. The door slid open and Prince Skyp, complete with two armed guards, stepped into the cell.

“Well, well, the Princess of Niptari, a traitor to the galactic council. Who would have thought?” The Prince’s voice sounded throaty and raw.

I stayed silent for the moment. He apparently still thought I was the Princess. That might give me some advantage in this conversation.

“So, Princess, you are part of the Cult of Star Worlds and Respective Suns? I knew they sought any military technology at any cost, but I am shocked they are out here on this little third world planet.”

“I’m not part of the cult; I’m trying to stop them.”

The Prince frowned a bit as he considered my words, “Nice excuse, I suppose, but I am not so dumb as to believe-”

The Prince sneezed, and then sneezed again. He reached his hand out to his side, and one of the guards put a handkerchief in it. The alien wiped his nose, and tossed the cloth back at the guard.

“I apologize, there seems to be a bit of a bug going around. As I was saying, you cannot trick me. You are a member of the Star Wars Cult and a traitor. Soon, we will track down your rebel friends. We already managed to damage their engines before they managed to slip away. It will take them a day to reach the satellite grid. By then, we will have found and executed them.”

“You can’t possibly hope to defeat the Star Cult, they are simply too powerful,” Andrew responded.

“It’s the Star Wars Cult, actually.”

“Yeah, I’m not calling it that.”

The Prince let out another sneeze, “Either way, I will wipe them out no matter what it takes. However, Princess Nefriti, you do not need to follow the same fate as them. If you marry me, and make sure my race’s entry into the galactic council, I can sweep this whole thing under the rug.”

“No!” I snapped, “I will never join you and this fleet on the dark side of the moon!”

“Would you prefer we did this on the light side? I’m honestly pretty flexible. You, servant, convince your mistress this is the best course of action, it will spare your life as well.”

“I regret to inform you that the woman before you is not a Princess. She is a human from Earth seeking to stop the invasion.”

I turned towards Ryan, “Why, Ryan? Why would you tell him?”

The General’s smug appearance was quickly overshadowed by a look of abject horror.

“I apologize Jane; I am programmed to be incapable of lying unless ordered to do otherwise.”

“Then lie!”

“Very well, Prince Skyp, I was initially in error. She is in fact a Princess.”

“A human?” Prince Skyp’s lips twisted, “I marked and began a mating ceremony with a human?”

“You did what to my what now?” I asked.

“The information downloaded by Allan suggests the Riptari shoot pheromones at a mating companion to mark her as their territory,” Ryan explained, “I suspect this Riptari marked you. It’s akin to a dog urinating on a-”

“That’ll be enough, Ryan, thank you.” I snapped; that was information I did not need to know.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to share in the thought. The Prince also had a disgusted expression on his face, but not exactly for the same reason.

“You… filthy animals!” Skyp snapped, “You will not survive my humiliation. I will kill you, and your Star Wars Cult, and your little droid too!”

“Wait, I forgot, is he Darth Vader or the Wicked Witch of the West?” Andrew interjected.

“I don’t really care which, he spread his funk all over Jane without asking and that’s enough reason to kick his ass!” Rune growled.

Skyp backed up warily from Rune as his guards waved their guns menacingly.

He covered his mouth as he coughed some more. “Close the door, we’ll take care of these damn dirty apes later.”

The door slammed shut, leaving the four of them in the relative seclusion within their cell. After a moment, I let out a prolonged sigh, leaning back.

“Well that went well,” I muttered.

“I apologize, but I think you interpreted the results incorrectly. I think we are in more trouble than previously established.” Ryan explained.

“I was being sarcastic!” I snapped.

Ryan’s eyes went big for a second, but he nodded in acknowledgement and lowered his head. Well now I felt bad. Why did he have to seem so sad all the time?

After that, the four of us waited in silence. Andrew and Rune certainly weren’t going to strike up a conversation with each other. Ryan seemed just as content to stay in his own self prescribed solitude. For me, I was worried about Earth.

How would my friends back on Earth handle the coming alien invasion? Samantha would undoubtedly write three fan fictions before they fired the first shot. Daniel might end up fighting them to the death. Stephan would probably try to negotiate with them and end up in a lab being probed. Alex would… oh what was the point of going on with this?

They were taking quite a long time to get back to us. It had been half a day; were they going to starve us? Perhaps the Prince was a lot crueler than I had given him credit.

The door clicked, and swung open. I took a deep breath, ready to face my maker. Perhaps the aliens finally came back to finish the job. My life was far too short. I hadn’t done enough, hadn’t seen enough; I wanted to live.

It took me a few seconds to realize who was standing in the doorway, Allan. He was carrying a massive gun that looked ridiculously oversized in his thin hands. On the other side, it looked incredibly sexy. Except for the glasses, he almost looked like an action hero busting into the prison to free his comrades. He had smears of dirt on his face and one gash above his eye. He wore what looked like a slim line spacesuit, although there was no helmet in sight. It looked heavily beaten and damaged. Did he fight his way in here?

“Allan! I can’t believe how glad I am to see you,” Rune cried out.

Allan nodded, “I am relieved to see you four are alright. I have not seen any resistance thus far, but it would be best if we moved at once.”

The four of us didn’t need any motivation, we moved out into the hallway, following behind Allan.

“I am glad you came for us, but how did you manage to get in here. Don’t tell me you fought your way in.”

“Ridiculous,” Allan shook his head, “They increased their patrol parties. One of them found my ship and shot me down. I ended up crash landing on the moon. I got into a spacesuit and walked here. I had barely managed to land my ship a few miles from here.”

“Wait,” Andrew stopped, “If your ship crash landed, then-”

“Then we have no escape now. I am working on that part as we go. We are heading to the hanger right now. Perhaps we can steal one of the dignitary’s ships.”

“You didn’t see any resistance?” Rune asked.

“Perhaps they are too busy looking for the cult, or perhaps preparing for the invasion. Between the airlock and your prison cell I have yet to see a single soul.”

The idea of that seemed incredibly suspicious, but my desire to be off this moon base propelled me forward nonetheless. I suspected the others were just as eager, as they didn’t ask any more questions. A few more turns and we were in the hanger. Allan was right, there was absolutely no one in sight.

“The Prince says that the cult ship was damaged, if we can catch up to them, we could still stop the invasion,” I suggested.

“I was planning on taking something a little inconspicuous, but if we need speed, it would be that ship.” Allan pointed to the largest ship in the bay.

My eyes bulked, it was easily three times the size of Allan’s ship. It had several guns and canon’s mounted all across it.

“What is this ship?” I asked incredulously.

“It would be the Prince’s personal flagship. I imagine he plans to lead the invasion with it. It will draw the attention of every ship in his fleet, but they would be unlikely to fire on it right away. It may give us the time we need.”

“It’s so big!” I exclaimed, looking it up and down.

“It is not the size that matters; it is the power of the engine, Jane.”

“The little Prince is probably just compensating for something,” Rune laughed.

I chuckled, “Let’s take it then, that’ll teach that nasty alien for what he did to me! Nobody sprays their junk all over me and gets away with it!”

“I am glad you are a lady of principle,” Allan responded, “Let’s hurry.”

Allan accessed a console, causing a door to open on the side of the ship. The group rushed in, following behind Allan. He worked his way through the hallways. Unlike his ship, the halls were a lot larger and infinitely more comfortable. Now this was a spaceship! I rammed into Allan as he suddenly stopped in midstride.

“What? Why did you stop?”

Allan pointed down at the ground in front of him. I looked around his shoulder and gasped. Lying on the floor in hallway, his head up against a side wall, was Prince Styf. He seemed to be breathing shallowly, the sound of phlegm and congestion with each gasp. His eyes snapped open as we approached, turning towards me.

“What have you… done… to us. You’ve poisoned… my army. Already, half my fleet have collapsed from exhaustion. What is this?”

Allan kneeled down, putting his hand over the Prince’s forehead before looking back at us, “It would appear he has a cold.”

“What… in the universe… is a cold?” The Prince gasped.

“And thus the aliens were defeated.” Rune lowered his head. “Not by some weapon or ingenuity of man, but by Jane, whose poor hygiene and bad handwashing techniques led them all to become infected with bacteria their immune systems weren’t use to fighting.”

“My hygiene is fine! And I always wash my hands!”

“For one minute, with soap, making sure to clean under the nails thirty seconds each hand per recommended FDA regulations?” Allan asked.

“Of course!” the group all looked at me, “Basically… For the most part… Come on, whose going to sit there for a whole minute? Plus, sometimes the soaps out. It isn’t important. At least they are being wiped out by a bug and not something stupid like an allergy to water.”

“Yeah, that would be pretty stupid,” Andrew nodded in my defense.

“Exactly, like if we just poured water on him he’d start-”

“I’m so hot right now; I’m melting,” Prince Styf moaned.

I sighed. “Alright, Darth Elphaba, let’s take him with us. At worst, we could use him as collateral if we need it.”

Ryan nodded, bending over and picking up the pitiful creature. The group continued forward, making it to the bridge in relative short order. Allan moved up to a head console and began typing in random keys. Once Ryan put the ailing Prince up against a wall, Allan sent him to a control panel, whispering in his ear for a bit. Ryan nodded as he acknowledged whatever Allan was saying. Allan grabbed Rune and dragged him over to another console to the do the same thing. Finally, he grabbed Andrew and repeated the process.

“This is a far larger ship than mine. I’ll need all of you to pilot this thing. Jane, since you were already sick, would you mind caretaking the ailing Prince?”

I shivered, but nodded. Someone had to keep him alive I supposed. I went over to the sick alien and began wetting a rag to put on his forehead. The alien protested at first, but he seemed pretty delirious and out of it, so after a short amount of bullying he went where I wanted him to go.

The ship began vibrating and churning. There was a loud pop and then the ship started to gain momentum. The ship began moving forward down a really long corridor leading out of the hanger. As we approached the end, a giant blast door opened, revealing the open space beyond. We blasted out, leaving the moon and the base behind us. I let out a sigh of relief at that. At least it was one thing we didn’t need to worry about now.

“I’m getting some communication from the other ships. They’re asking for orders. I guess the sickness has spread to most of the ships now and they are functioning on a skeleton crew. They have located the cult ship on route towards the satellite control station, but none of the ships are able to head there.” Andrew spoke up.

Allan nodded, “Get the coordinates. Tell them to stand by, we will be setting out to intercept the ship. Navigator Ryan, as soon as we have those coordinates, lay in a course.”

I smirked up at Allan, “You really do seem like a ship captain.”

Allan’s expression didn’t change, but the hint of a blush appeared on his cheeks, “I… used to be a first mate. My captain kept breaking the rules and sleeping with space aliens. Eventually, he was dishonorably discharged, and I was sent to Earth on a data gathering mission. In reflection, he was really an awful captain. However, I did learn a few things about running a larger ship.”

I gave him an encouraging smile, “You’ll do great. We can still stop the cult.”

Allan pushed his glasses back up on his nose, “Of course, I’d accept nothing less. Ensign Ryan. Engage!”

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Time and Place – Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

The clock ticked and time passed by. Time always passes, moving forward or backward, depending on your perspective. Time is perceived differently by different people. Some people count time in days. Others count it in years. Some count them in the cycles it takes their planet to revolve around their sun. Others measure it by the time it takes the planet to rotate in a complete circle. They count it based on random divisions created by people who were in power at just the right time. They calculate it by scientists, by astronomers, by astrologists, and by farmers. Everyone wastes so much time being concerned about time. However time is perceived, it continues on and the clock keeps ticking.

Darian’s hand impulsively tapped his fingers on his thigh to the beat of time, if time were said to have a beat. His day had been particularly unpleasant, starting with the obnoxious commute to this unfortunate location.  A woman sat across from him on the other side of an old wooden desk. It looked heavy and beat up. The kind of desk that is nice and sturdy to own, but impossible to get rid of when you’re done with it. It was too heavy to move reliably and too inconvenient for anyone to actually want to own.

The woman was not unattractive, but the never-ceasing half-smile plastered to her face began to grate on his nerves. He couldn’t understand how she could keep such an obnoxiously chipper voice as she asked irrelevant question after irrelevant question. Her long red hair might have framed a potentially pretty face, had it not been tied up into an uncomfortably tight bun that almost seemed to pull at the features of her face in an unpleasant way.

She pulled her thick-framed glasses off of her small nose to wipe them on her blouse, which had an assortment of purple and blue flowers against an oddly pale green background. Darian briefly wondered how she was able to find frames that thick; he was pretty sure the style went out in the 70s. Had she never heard of metal frames?

“Good Mr. Standen, what is the first thing you think about when you wake up?” Darian’s attention went back to the woman asking the question before letting out a drawn sigh.

It seemed an adequate answer as any for the constant barrage of questions she delivered.  She raised her eyebrow another centimeter, that small half smile seemingly glued to her face. It never seemed to change and was somehow reminiscent of clowns. He didn’t particularly hate clowns, but it was a little unnerving nonetheless. He quickly shifted his position in his seat. His interviewer continued to look at him. She began tapping her fingers on the table unconsciously, but her facial expressions never changed.  Watching her hands tap, he became conscious of his own and quickly dropped them to his side.

“Brushing my teeth, I suppose.”

“Good. Now, what is the last thing you think about before you sleep?”

Good. That is how she has responded to every answer, followed immediately by another question. Her eyes never spent more than a second glancing over the paper before her eyes snapped right back to his face, that half smile never wavering.  It didn’t bother him at first. She was quick, to the point. Darian hoped that it would be quick. Desperately, he needed the money, and it seemed like this study would be a sure way to get some fast. However, the questions kept coming, never seeming to come to an end. He was starting to get anxious and began wondering about how long he had been there.

“Well,” He stretched out his ‘L’s, hoping to buy himself a little time before the next “good”, followed by yet another question.

Darian’s eyes performed a quick search of his surroundings, averting away from her tight face and giant framed glasses for a few seconds. It was a small room, not much bigger than a little overpriced studio apartment. The most noticeable thing the room possessed was boxes, stacks, and stacks of boxes. The boxes were neatly closed and taped shut; there was labeling carefully printed on each box, but Darian was unable to decipher what any of it meant.  Each box was stacked neatly on large self-assembled metal storage shelves. They seemed more suited for a garage, but their presence still seemed to fit in this tiny room.

The interviewer’s name was Pam, at least that was what the nametag said. However, she had made no attempt to introduce herself to him when he showed up. She continued to tap her fingers at the steady pace as she patiently waited. With her rosy cheeks and light brown hair, Darian might have found himself liking her. However, her methodical questioning and frozen smile steadily tore at his nerves, and while hate might have been a strong word, he at least had a dislike of her by this point.

“Sheep,” He answered, a smile breaking onto his face.

It seemed like an acceptable answer, hoping it might help break the growing tension. Her smile didn’t change. Her eyes quickly darted to the paper, and back to his face. She was not even writing anything down.

“Good. Are you allergic to fish?”

Mr. Standen’s mind began to wonder as he started to answer her allergy question.  He didn’t have any allergies that he knew of.  However, rather than asking what he was allergic to, Pam began to read down a list of every known allergen he could think of. This allowed his mind to wander off, to contemplate the choices he made that lead him to this point.

There wasn’t always a need for money. At one point, when the student loans were growing and he was learning, there was nothing that could stop him. An unfortunate car accident, however, put him in the hospital for close to a year. His newly earned job “dismissed” him and found a new employee, and his fiancée, unable to deal with the stress of his “disability” decided to leave him. It had been two years since that accident, but it had ruined his life.

The man responsible wasn’t to blame. His insurance had covered some of the hospital bills, but the hospital bills grew faster than the insurance would cover, and Darian never had the heart to sue the man. He had a family and two kids. Although, Darian regretted his decision not to press charges sometimes. The lawyers certainly felt he had a case. He might still have his fiancée had the financial situation been covered better.  More importantly, we would never have answered a flier to become a lab rat in an experiment.

He caught himself before he let out another sigh. It was no use antagonizing the only person that might bring him the first paycheck he has had since college. He hoped that this was fruitful. The last time he attempted to sign up for one of these experiments, he was ineligible because of his past injuries; past injuries being the concussion he earned. It was some kind of blood study, and apparently, concussions immediately disqualified him. He wished he had lied when they had asked that question; he might have eaten something other than ramen noodles in the last few months.

“Mr. Standen, how very good it is to see you,” Darian jumped a little. The voice came from behind him. Pam had risen from her desk; she was certainly looking behind him. He quietly cursed himself for letting his mind wander. It was never good to let your mind wander too long. Bad things happen when you do. Her eyes were slightly bigger, and she had a slight look of awe on her face. This was the first change of expression he had seen from her.

A quick look behind him revealed a rather tall Indian man. He had a thick black mustache and short greasy hair. At first glance, he looked to be in his late 40s, early 50s. Darian always tried to measure people’s age with their accomplishments. He liked to see how much could be accomplished in how short a time. He was already 24, and by his reasoning, he should have written one book, won three trophies in various sports, and be on his way towards an excelling career. Of course, his plans had been set off track years ago, but it didn’t mean the ambition to excel didn’t creep into the back of his brain whenever he let it slide.

“Uh, call me Darian,” The Indian man nodded, slightly flourishing his open lab coat.

“I am Dr. Dhillon. Come with me, we have much to discuss.”

The doctor immediately turned and began walking out of the room.  His accent was deep, and it took Darian a few seconds to grasp what was said.

Before moving, he took a quick look back at Pam. She was already sitting at her desk, her eyes intent on a piece of paper, erasing something energetically with the end of her pencil.  Turning back, Darian left the room at a quick pace. Dr. Dhillon was already far ahead of him, and he had to perform a brisk half jog to catch up before the doctor turned the corner. It seemed that the man had not realized he had left earshot, and was continuing to speak as he walked.

“-was the most difficult part of the entire process. However, what we hope to accomplish is far grander than any simple experiment from any mediocre doctor. We hope to alter the very fabric of the world we know. We hope to change everything. Not an easy thing, you agree?” Darian nodded from habit, not quite caught up.

“Oh, of course, it was not easy,” Dr. Dhillon continued, “Many animals were lost in the attempt to isolate just the right conditions required to bring upon them stasis. However, I am confident that this is the right time to trial, and once you see my findings, I am sure you will agree with me!” His voice began to grow excited as he spoke.

Darian had never been to any real labs. He was an engineer, but fresh out of college. The job he almost had landed would have had him working with transmitters and wavelength frequencies and the like. He had been in a couple of labs in college and high school, but he never felt that they would resemble anything like a real lab. The long hallway they walked down was tiled with green and brown mosaic tiles. The ceiling and walls were a sickly yellow color. The entire building looked old and unclean. Darian was afraid to touch anything; he felt that if he did, he would probably pick up a thick layer of grease.  He was pretty sure the walls and floor were clean, but they just looked dirty in a way that no amount of cleaning would ever repair.

They reached some large double doors and Dr. Dhillon quickly slid the card through an adjacent card reader. The doors opened automatically after a brief click. He immediately went back to walking at full speed.

“Funding has always been a difficult part of our research, but after the success of this test, they will have no choice but to accept my research. We will have enough money to complete a final product, and bring the world into a new generation; this is instrumental in the buildup of-”

The new area looked slightly cleaner than the last. They walked through another smaller door, into what Darian imagined a real lab looked like. The walls were finally white, although the floor retained the ugly green brown.  In the middle of the room was a medium-sized man length metal table with what appeared to be leather straps on it. A small table full of medical supplies sat at the side of the larger table. This resembled what he imagined a surgery table would look like perhaps 80 years ago. It made him a little nervous. Suddenly a word caught in his ear from what Dr. Dhillon was saying. He froze in his tracks.

“What, Cryogenic Freezing?”

Dr. Dhillion blinked, almost startled to find someone present and listening to what he had been saying.

“Yes, you read the paper? While you were waiting they gave you papers to read?”

“Of course,” Darian lied.

He hadn’t bothered to read it. The only paper he had read was the flier stuck up to a bulletin board of one of the many offices he had attempted to apply to.  It read…

Medical Study on temperature and sleep, participants welcome to apply, BIG MONEY!!!!

Up until this point, Darian still was not sure what exactly a participant’s job was. Whatever it was, he hoped the big money was not an exaggeration.  The doctor directed him to sit down on the dull silver metal table. He complied.

“Of course, most fiction will tell you that anything can be frozen and then thawed out good as new. Even other learned men will try to believe that the key to freezing a person in stasis is preventing cell death, forcing a long-lived hibernation, like a common Tardigrade…” Dr. Dhillion began to perform an examination.

“But that is stupid. The human body and mind are too complex for anything as primitive as a cell suspension. The true answer lies in the realm of physics. Good, good…” He tapped each of Darian’s knees with the tip of his stethoscope, causing them to kick forward. With a swift gesture, he placed the hearing pieces into his ears and walked around the metal bench. He placed the metal piece of the stethoscope against Darian’s back, listening to a bit, before moving to a new area.

“Breathe in deeply…good… You see, it is theorized that time and space are one and the same. Interconnected. Space is a manipulation of time, no more or less that time manipulates space. To lock a man in time, to freeze his very being, you must also freeze the space to which he takes up.  And one last breath… good…” The doctor placed his stethoscope around his neck, then walked over to the small table and began rummaging through it. He finally found a small tongue depressor.

“There we are… say ah… Although that task is easier said than done. I am not simply talking about turning down the thermostat. I mean, placing a man in a state where neither space nor time can affect him. It is not a simple science. But it is time for my years of research to come to being. You, my friend, will be known as the first man to ever be suspended in time,”  With that, he threw the tongue depressor into a nearby trashcan.

Darian looked up at the doctor. Dr. Dhillion’s lips broke into a large grin, his thick dark eyelashes twitching excitedly as he eagerly awaited the excited reaction from his patient. Darian managed a weak smile and a nod of reassurance; he was not quite sure what else to say,” What do you intend on doing doctor?”

The doctor blinked, his grin dropping slightly with obvious disappointment, “In essence, to you, it will feel like a shot. After that, you will simply fall to a dreamless sleep, and your body will suspend itself, ceasing to age or grow. A week later, you will be awakened by myself, and after a brief exam, you are free to go.”

“Dreamless? Is it safe?” Darian asked.

The idea of a dreamless sleep certainly appealed to him. He had been suffering from bad dreams lately. If the pay was good, this would be an excellent endeavor… He had so much bad luck in his life, Karma dictated that maybe he needed some good luck as well. Still, he didn’t like the idea of having some concoction placed inside of him. Against his inhibitions, he told the doctor his concern.

“No, no,” Dr. Dhillon quickly reassured him, “The shot doesn’t put you into stasis. It’s just a harmless narcotic to keep you asleep. As I mentioned, the experiment is a matter of physics. I will attempt to place a stasis field over you. Of course, we have all of the items we need here to watch and make sure you remain healthy throughout the week. You will not even realize it and the week will be over, very painless.”

“I don’t know… wouldn’t it be safer in a hospital?”

Dr. Dhillion’s eyes shifted back and forth quickly, peering behind Darian for a brief second before answering, “Yes well, the facility here is well equipped. Hospitals have a great deal of rules and restrictions that simply don’t fit a laboratory protocol. This is really the best place to perform the test.”

Sleep. Getting paid for sleep isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But he could die, couldn’t he? The doctor seemed confident this would not happen. Did he ever trust doctors? He remembered once being sent to the ER for appendicitis, even though he didn’t have it. Though he was not in pain, the surgeon offered to cut out his appendix, simply to justify the stay. No, doctors are not necessarily trustworthy. Darian’s eyes dropped down, staring at his cheap white sneakers. They were falling apart. He supposed that’s what happened when you bought sneakers for $10 at a ValueMart.

Dr. Dhillion began to grow a bit uneasy at his subject’s reluctance. A sigh of relief almost passed his lips as the door opened behind him, allowing a third person to enter the room.

Darian looked up in time to see the door close as a well-dressed man approached the table he now sat on. The man had a deep complexion with dark spots under his eyes. He was much older… in his 60s, maybe. His suit was finely made, although any suit purchased outside of a department store was fine in Darian’s eyes. The man’s dark eyes were almost black and seemed to instantly sum up the subject in one look. Darian was used to that look; he had gotten it many times from his father. He would bet what little money he had in his bank account that this man was a businessman.

“Darian, this is my friend, Mr. Arlington, he is my, well, my investor, of sorts.”

“Good afternoon, Darian,” The suited man stated in a deep polite voice.

Funny, it had been morning when Darian had gotten there. It felt like weeks since he had entered that building. He wouldn’t have been surprised if it was the next morning after. Perhaps he was almost done.

“I am here with paperwork for you,” the man continued.

As Mr. Arlington began to rummage through his briefcase, Darian took another chance to sigh. Then again, this day does seem to keep going on.

“In ordinance with project 5236-B, we will provide full payment upon completion of one week under stasis at Dr. Jagan Dhillion’s discretion. This form is a form of nondisclosure of information…” He began handing Darian one form after another. Each form he signed made him a little more uneasy. He had to sign a form that shed them of responsibility if he died, a form that kept him from talking about what was going on in the lab, and even a next of kin form.

Suddenly, he stopped as he reached the last page, a large number glaring at his face, “What is this, then?”

A large smile broke across the businessman’s face as he recognized what Darian was pointing at, “For one week of stasis experimentation, the total sum to be paid is $10,624.00. This fund is to be paid in full regardless of the success or failure of the experiment.”

Darian nodded numbly. This was big money indeed.  Although he briefly wondered who’d exactly be getting the money if “failure” resulted in death. He has so few friends in his life. He supposed that would be his next of kin: his father. Darian quickly shoved all of his doubts into a small box at the corner of his brain; then, for good measure, jumped on the box repeatedly, before throwing it in a trash compactor. This was the break he had been waiting for, he needed this.

“When do we start?”

Relief poured out of Dr. Dhillion in one long breath, “We will give you one day, to put your affairs in order to be away for a week. No one must be aware of where you are for this week. It is imperative that this be kept secret for patents and financial reasoning, which my friend here is better at explaining.  You must not eat eight hours before coming in and…”

Darian’s mind started wandering again. Ten thousand dollars. This would wipe out a good portion of his debt. It would give him a fresh start. In one week, the world would be a very different place.  He’d have food, and time to find a better job. He could buy a nice suit, put together a better resume. Maybe he could actually get a girlfriend and afford to take her out once or twice. Finally, things would start going his way.

When his fiancée had left him, he had really lost all hope of succeeding in life. His parents had told him there was always more to life, and his father almost seemed glad that his son might start “trying other flavors”, as he put it, before finally settling down, an act that seemed close to death by his father’s opinion. His father had always had the opinion that he settled down a bit too quickly when he proposed. However, Darian never really could reenter the dating scene after.

It seemed more difficult to him. Talking to women was easy, but they always seemed interested in others, and never displayed more interest in him than he was willing to show back, which was never much to begin with.

Some of it might have been related to the financial problems he suffered, and his unwillingness to drag someone else down with him. Today was a day that he wished he had more friends, so he actually would have someone to celebrate with. Nevertheless, his mind worked as he began to make plans again. His withered ambition returned in full force as he imagined all of the potentials that this money would bring.

The light of sunset was dwindling by the time Darian had left the lab. He had a file full of papers in his left hand and the keys to his car on the right. The car was old, but unfortunately not old enough to be a classic. It was just old. Rust scarred the sides of his vehicle, made more drastic by the hues of orange and red reflected by the descending sun. He examined the vehicle up and down before getting in. This vehicle was a testament to his old life, rusted and broken as it was. In one short week, everything would change.

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Hawtness – Volume 2 – Chapter 3

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Space Babes

“Presenting Princess Nefriti of the furry planet Magratea!”

A loud voice echoed across the rather large hallways. I readjusted the flowing light green gown. The shawl slipped to the side, and I readjusted it. When I had told them I was willing to wear a dress, this was not what I had in mind. It was hot in here, and I felt like I would sweat out of the outfit.

I took a step forward, and with each step, a pair of alien guards on either side of me bowed. Hundreds of eyes watched me as moved across the massive antechamber. I settled for readjusting my veil before putting my hands down to my sides. I fidgeted; I knew it would appear suspicious, but I couldn’t help myself. I fought every urge I had to reach back and grab Ryan’s hand.

He walked behind me, straight-backed and formal, garbed in a frilly suit that resembled something like a butler’s garb. It looked surprisingly good on him, complementing his youthful appearance in ways I would not have expected. I wanted to look back at him for reassurance, but Allan had lectured that that would be un-ladylike.

I finally reached the front of the room. A rather large man sat on a chair that almost resembled a throne in its flamboyance. He rose gracefully, offering a surprisingly respectful bow to me. He gave a grin that almost seemed polite, extending his hand. I almost forgot this part. I pulled out my hand and held it palm down in his.

The host Prince Skyf lifted it, kissing the back of my hand. His lips were a little greasy, and it caused chills to run up my spine. The fact that he had green skin and two antennae pointing out of his head didn’t do much to ease my discomfort. He glanced back at my face, and when I gave no further sign, his antennae twitched.

“It is kind of the Magratea to send their princess to the viewing. In lieu of this invasion, I could use as many galactic witnesses as possible.”

Ryan moved up next to me, “The princess is satisfied with your welcome. It has been a long journey for her, though. She would like to know if she might be quartered so that she can refresh herself.”

Why did Ryan have to sound so calm and cool when he said everything? He really did seem like the perfect servant. I couldn’t imagine how things would have gone if Andrew or Rune had been the one to accompany me. Ryan seemed like a natural. To hear him tell it, he was built for this, so I supposed it shouldn’t be that surprising.

I held my breath as the Prince eyed Ryan up and down before the smile returned to his face. We had all decided that I would remain silent for the most part. There wasn’t enough time to teach me how to act like a princess. However, Ryan downloaded the majority of the information. He’d do all the talking; I’d do all the smiling and looking pretty. Allan seemed almost relieved that it wasn’t him who joined me. Relieved! I don’t know why that bothered me so much. I became too complacent with guys doing stuff for me.

“Of course, my lady,” The host nodded, gesturing for one of his servants to attend me.

The small girl who ran up had bluish pink skin. She appeared small, like a child, but had a face with more wrinkles than her size suggested. She made a gesture for me to follow.

“Thank you!” Ryan gave an elaborately perfect bow, the cape at his back giving a slight flourish.

I bent my knee slightly and nodded. Allan explained that a princess I should never give a full curtsy. Which worked because I had no clue how to do that. In these frills, I’d be likely to fall flat on my face if I even tried. Fortunately, this seemed like enough to satiate the host.

We walked out of the antechamber into a hallway and as the metal doors closed behind me I took a deep breath, almost hyperventilating. The small girl led us up to a large double set of doors, she opened the doors and gestured for us to enter. We did and my eyes almost burst out of my skull. It was a room ornate and beautiful. A full set of living room furniture, a massive bed that dwarfed a king size, and windows that gave a breathtaking view of the vast space. The temperature was unfortunately as hot and uncomfortable as the antechamber.

Ryan approached the servant, whispering a few things into her ear. She nodded excitedly, a deep blush on her cheeks. It looks like aliens had the same responses that humans did. Ryan lightly touched her hand, and she practically melted. He didn’t seem to notice, but as he turned away, the girl bowed to the pair of us like a schoolgirl in love and then closed the doors behind us.

“What did you say to her?” I asked incredulously.

Ryan glanced at me, “I provided Magratea etiquette. My downloaded files suggest that servants tend to mingle when they are not bogged by noble duties. She may be able to offer key tactical information to help us complete our mission. I asked to meet her privately, tonight, before the celebration.”

“Ryan? I think you may be leading her on.”

Ryan cocked his head to his side; the absence of his speakers appearing almost odd.

“I do not understand, leading her to what?”

I sighed, “Well when you ask a girl to meet you late at night, she might be thinking of things a little more than… mingling.”

“Like what?”

“Like… well…” I sighed; I wasn’t ready to have this conversation with him, “Never mind, you’ll be fine.”

Ryan shrugged, moving on, “We must take every precaution we can. Remember, this mission is crucial. We have less than thirty hours to break into the host’s quarters and steal the codes. If we don’t succeed, the Earth is doomed.”

I nodded, moving to the window overlooking the dark side of the moon. The sight of the darkened gray surface was so cold and distant. I wasn’t home in Kansas anymore that was for certain. Would that make Ryan my toto? That wasn’t fair, I already disliked him pretending to be my servant. Something about his eagerness and willingness to do whatever anyone said just irked me. It didn’t seem like the real Ryan. It was a mask he wore. I looked down at my flowing gown. I was one to talk about pretending to be something I’m not. Just how did we get ourselves into this situation? Oh yes…

“Prince Skyf is hosting a banquet the night before they launch the attack. He’s invited all the royalty from the members of the intergalactic alliance to showcase the Riptari gain in power.”

At this point, Ryan was plugged into the front of Allan’s ship through a console port. He made a buzzing sound, so I could only presume that something was being done to unlock the ship and allow us to move.

“So what does that have to do with me?” I asked.

“Princess Nefriti of the furry planet Magratea will not be able to attend this banquet. She has never been seen outside her own courts. It would not be difficult to pass you off in her likeness.”

“Wait?” Rune interrupted, “There is a planet of furries?”

“Furry refers to the state of the planet, not the people.” Allan glanced over at Rune.

“I’m not following.”

“Have you ever seen peach fuzz?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Imagine that, but an entire planet.”

“Now you’ve lost me.”

Allan readjusted his glasses, “This isn’t relevant to the conversation. What is relevant is a planetary attack grid of satellites stationed around Earth.”

“A what?” I inquired.

“A large cluster of unmanned attack satellites spread across Earth’s orbit are in hiding. When the Prince gives the word, they will disintegrate all satellites around Earth, destroying your communication. Then, the satellites will bombard large population centers to destroy moral and remove resistance.”

“Oh my god, how can we stop that?”

Allan glanced over at Ryan before continuing, “It is possible we can acquire the Prince’s attack codes. With Ryan and those codes, we can reprogram the satellites for another purpose. For example, reallocate them as an orbital defense grid. With that much firepower protecting the Earth, the cost of an attack would be too costly. They would have no choice but to give up the invasion.”

“And I suppose you want me to seduce him with my womanly wilds and get him to invite me to his rooms?”

“No, it won’t be necessary to-”

“Then, as he ravishes my body, grab a nearby statue and knock him over the head with it.”

“Not exactly, the plan is to-”

“Although I suppose I’ll have to seduce the body guards too. It shouldn’t be difficult. Plus, if they ever catch me I’ll just hide in a box until they forget about me.”

“That seems incredibly unlikely to work.”

“Why don’t I just knock each guard out, one at a time, working my way through the facility until I reach the Prince’s quarters, then my body won’t need to be ravished?”

Allan glanced at Andrew and Rune in exasperation. The pair had their mouths opened, but didn’t seem to have an answer for him. I don’t know what he wanted their opinion on, I’m the one he’s sending in there to be violated by alien tentacle monsters.

“Jane, listen carefully.”

“I’m listening…”

“No one is going to try to have sex with you…”

“You’ve lost me.”

“How? How have I lost you?”

“You’re sending me into the facility as a slutty, scantily clad princess to entertain the Prince.”

“I never said the princess appeared slutty or scantily clad.”

“She comes from peach fuzz planet, do the math.”

“That’s… disturbing that you would draw a conclusion from that.”

“So if the plan isn’t for me to manipulate my way in there, then what are we doing?”

“Ridiculous,” Allan pushed his glasses back up on his nose, “You merely need to get on the station. Ryan will do the rest. I can download the appropriate schematics. He will break into the Prince’s quarters while you keep the Prince at the banquet. You will not be required to seduce, harass, or detain anyone, just distract them.”

I twisted my mouth, so I didn’t get to do anything? For a second, I thought I was a spy. I infiltrated the base and was in the process of stealing the secret launch codes. I come out all the way into space and I get no steamy alien romances and no solid snake break in. It seemed like a rip-off. I mean, I didn’t want to lose my chastity to a space alien, but if it had to happen, space nobility that thought I was a princess wouldn’t be the worst way to go.

“Their male phallus are typically barbed,” Ryan spoke up.

I glanced away from the view of the dark side of the moon, my mind snapping back to the present. We were in the station now, in the middle of jeopardy. It was just my job to hide in my room and wait for Ryan to fix everything. After all that I’ve been through, that seemed wrong somehow. I needed to do more, but anything I said or did could get both of us killed, and the planet destroyed at that.

“I’m not following you,” I responded.

“I scanned your body, the areas your blood is flowing suggests you may be thinking about sexual relations with an alien.”

“You can tell that?”

Ryan ignored the question, “I merely am pointing out that the information Allan downloaded into my brain includes extensive mating knowledge on a large variety of species. The Riptari are known for having barbed genitalia which catches the inside the females to ensure fertilization.”

“That doesn’t sound hot and James T. Kirky at all.”

“No, it doesn’t.”

“More like Star Wars desert space vagina.”

“Miss Jane?”

“Space… vagina…”

“Mistress, you do not seem yourself as of late. I noticed it on the ship but didn’t think I had sufficient reference to make that call. At first, I believed my measurements were faulty, but your temperature on my sensors reads abnormally high. Excuse me.”

Ryan pressed his cool forehead against mine, it was kind of nice. My skin was kind of hot, now that he mentioned it. He had a pleasant new car smell that emanated from his body. It was sexy.

“You currently have a fever of a hundred and two degrees. I am ashamed for not realizing it sooner. You need to be in bed, immediately.”

“Bed, huh? Why don’t you join me, you big sexy robot man?”

“You appear to be delirious Jane, you seem to have been for quite some time. I’m surprised you made it this far.”

Ryan kneeled down and then lifted, pulling me up into his arms with relative ease. I giggled, he was holding me like a knight in shining armor. I was a princess after all. Then the thought occurred to me. If we were going to be together in bed, he’d need the right equipment.

“I meant to ask one of these days. Do you have ‘male genitalia’, Ryan?”

Ryan put me into the bed, placing the cover over me. “My mistress designed me to serve her in all respects. I have adequate equipment for any situation. Now please, Miss Jane, rest.”

Ryan sat at the edge of the bed, then stared off into the distance for several moments. There were a buzzing and crackling sound.

“Yes, Ryan? This is Allan. Are the plans moving forward accordingly?” The sound emitted coming from Ryan’s gut as if he had swallowed some speakers.

“Unfortunately, there are some issues here. It would appear the Jane has contracted an illness.” Ryan spoke up, seemingly to thin air.

“Stop!” there was the sound of wrestling for a second and then a new voice came on the line.

“Jane is sick?” the voice sounded like Rune’s, “How is she doing right now?”

“If I had to describe her,” Ryan looked over at me, “Her condition would be described as promiscuous.”

“Is it contagious? Ow, stop…” there were more wrestling noises over the microphone.

“Be advised that I will work on sending you some medicine.” Allan’s voice came up. “It’s a risk, but we may have to send Andrew and Rune in disguise as ambassadors from another planet. Perhaps the Dredraty. They keep their faces covered 24/7 and always speak gibberish. I… I will contact you soon.”

“I sense hesitation in your voice, there is something you are not telling me.”

A muffled voice sounded over the noise, “Ridiculous.”

The sound fizzled for a second and then Andrew’s voice spoke up, “There is some kind of cult. One that seeks to put Angels and Demons at war with each other. Jane has dealt with them before. We have some reason to believe they may be trying to get a hold of the satellite grid for their own purposes.”

“Understood, I will keep a wary eye and stand by until further notice.” a click of the phone hanging up, and Ryan stood up, moving over to the room’s entrance.

He opened the door a crack and then whispered some things to someone who appeared to be waiting out in the hall. When he came back, he had a cloth and a pitcher of water. He wetted the towel and placed it over my forehead. The cool towel felt good against my skin.

“I’m sorry…” I said, “I’m messing up, aren’t I?”

“It is okay, Jane, we still have time to resolve this. They do not plan the banquet until tonight. That gives us about twelve hours. At the banquet, I’ll make my move. With Andrew and Rune here, it should be easier for you to keep their attention at the banquet.”

“Is… all of this okay with you? I don’t want to make you do anything you don’t want to do. You don’t have to help if you… don’t want to.”

Ryan gave me a tight smile, “Earth’s survival is dependent on my assistance. I am highly motivated to assist you in this matter.”

“Ryan, do you think I’m pretty?”

Ryan glanced down at me with a smile. “My mistress used to ask that question a lot herself.”

“What did you tell her?”

“I told her she was the most beautiful woman I ever saw.”

“And what about me?”

Ryan smiled again, turning to peer out the windows while his hand pressed the cold towel on my head. I kept seeing that look on his face. On the surface, it appeared emotionless and cold, a robot’s face. I could swear, though, the edges of the mouth and the eyes were just a little too downturned, sadness, a great deal of sadness. The thoughts were lost as my eyes closed and I fell asleep.

“Did you bring the medicine?”

Nearby sounds caused my eyes to open.

“Yeah, but it took a while to get into the station,” Andrew’s voice answered.

I turned towards the voices and could see Andrew and Rune. Ryan was still there, fully dressed in his butler attire. I looked down and noticed I was no longer wearing the green dress I had been in before. Ryan must have undressed me while I was asleep. He and I would need to have a conversation about that sometime soon.

The last day or so was kind of blurry. I knew I felt hot, but I didn’t know I had a fever. I was always like that, getting sick without even being aware of it until I passed out unconscious. I had the vaguest memory of hitting on Ryan or possibly hitting on the Prince? I don’t know, it was hard to remember. Regrettably, it was my little dirty secret that I got a little loopy when I had fevers. Samantha told me the one time I had a fever while I stayed at her house and ended up spending three hours making out with one of her stuffed animals. She said, after that, the two of them just couldn’t look each other in the eyes anymore and she had to sell it at a garage sale.

I wiped my forehead, slick with sweat, at least the fever broke. With a little struggle, I pushed myself up, trying to get a better sight of the boys. Here I found myself on a crazy space adventure, and I spent most of it in a fever coma. Life just wasn’t fair.

“You’re awake?” Andrew noticed, breaking away from Ryan and moving over to me. “Here, take this medicine. It’s Sudafed and aspirin.”

“An alien had Sudafed sitting on his ship?”

“He said it was part of a side gig and I should mind my own business.” Andrew frowned.

“We’re glad you’re safe,” Rune moved up next to him, “These aliens give me the creeps, and I hate these stupid robes we have to wear.”

Now that they mentioned it, I noticed the pair of them wore oversized red robes. They looked almost like mages or something, but the hoods were pulled back right now to reveal their faces.

“You almost blew our cover on the way in,” Andrew frowned at Rune.

“Well who said I had to be the servant. There’s no way in hell I’m going to serve you!”

“This is counterproductive to succeeding in our mission. Do I need to remind the pair of you we are only one hour away from the banquet and eleven hours before they start the attack?”

The two boys turned their angry glares away from each other.

“So what is the plan now?” Andrew asked.

“It hasn’t changed much. Rune and I will attempt to sneak the codes while you and Jane keep the Prince distracted at the banquet. Presuming that Jane is fit for the task that is.”

I hastily swallowed the medicine in my hand. “I’m better now, I can handle this.”

Ryan turned back to the two boys, “I suggest you return to your rooms immediately. I will prepare the princess and meet you down in the banquet hall.”

Ryan ushered the two boys out, barely giving them time to wish me luck before shutting the door in their faces. He turned away, moving towards my green dress, now hanging up on the door of a closet.

“Um, what are you doing?”

Ryan looked back. “I must dress and prepare you for the banquet.”

“You really don’t.”

“It is currently my duty to act as a servant to the princess. In that capacity, it is my responsibility to dress and prepare you properly.”

“That’s not happening.”

“It is not the first time I have seen a woman naked. My mistress frequently tasked me with changing her each morning and hand washing her clothing. My memory has a fairly complete list of hairdressing techniques and makeup application protocols. I can more than adequately dress you.”

“You’re not seeing me naked.”

Ryan sighed. “The success of this mission is dependent on your capacity to hold the Prince’s attention. Allowing me to prepare you will increase the chances of our success. You’ve ordered me to do what I want to do. I want to fulfill my job as a servant admirably.”

“That’s not the same thing.” I ground my teeth at Ryan’s blank stare, “Alright, how about we make a deal. You do up my makeup and hair, and then I put on my dress alone. Without you.”

Ryan cocked his head to the side, “That isn’t necessary, but I will oblige. Now please come, there is little time.”

I moved off of the bed, sitting in the seat he gestured to. Ryan placed a towel around my neck, and within a minute was clipping away and spraying my hair. His hands moved fast. I didn’t know where he found the tools, but he worked efficiently. Within a few minutes, he was wrapping my hair up in long dowels.

He moved to my front, and pulled out a cylinder of nail polish, wiped my hands, dried them, and began applying the polish.

“Don’t tell me aliens just happen to have nail polish and hair cutting tools lying around?”

Ryan moved from finger to finger, painting with a precision and speed that I never thought possible. “I carry these tools on me at all times. I want to be prepared for any request my mistress might give me at a moment’s notice.”

“Carry them with you, where?”

“I have internal compartments for this purpose.”

I considered asking him where those internal compartments were, but then I realized I would probably be happier not knowing. The medicine seemed to be working, my energy returned. Ryan shifted to applying face makeup, his hands moving across my skin gently and cleanly. With the speed he moved, I admitted that I was a little concerned. It took me almost four hours to prepare for a homecoming or prom. Ryan was trying to do the same amount of effort in less than an hour.

Ryan finished my face, removing the curls and cleaning my hair. Not a single drop of water fell on my face as he worked. When he finished patting it dry, he turned away, moving to the corner of the room. I looked back at him in confusion.

“What are you doing?”

“I have finished my task, you wish to change without being seen.”

I rose an eyebrow. “You don’t have to stand in the corner. I can change in the bathroom.”

I stood up, moving to my dress and bringing it into the bathroom with me. Ryan watched me as I walked into the other room and shut the door. I shook my head once the door closed. It was hard not to like Ryan. He was so kind, considerate, and skilled. However, how much did he do simply because he was programmed? It made me a little sad to think about it.

I turned to the mirror and my mouth went slack. The person who was looking back at me was absolutely stunning. It’s wasn’t being conceded, it was just that the work Ryan had done was absolutely incredible. My hair was done up high, elaborate curls and waves woven into intricate patterns. My normally dull brown hair had a sheen. I would need to ask Ryan where he bought is salon supplies when we were done with this.

I pulled off the pajamas I had been dressed in and hastily put the green dress back on. It seemed almost a shame to put the green veil over my face. The makeup was applied perfectly. They made my cheeks look higher, my face look slimmer, and my eyes look bigger; and I honestly couldn’t even say what he did to elicit the changes, but they all counted.

I opened the door and stepped out, for the first time since I started this little endeavor feeling like a princess. Ryan held a hand out to me, and I fought the urge to blush. I reached out and took his hand. He was wearing a pair of white gloves and was completely decked out in a full tuxedo. I supposed it was formal butler-ware, but to me, it could have done well on any prom date.

He opened the door out of our room. I took a deep breath; it was time to go do this. It was now or never. The pair of us left the room and moved down a long hallway. The base was garnered up more formally than I had expected from an invasion force. I supposed that was to get the Galactic Alliance, or whatever they were calling it, on the Riptari’s side.

We ended up moving to the front doors of a large, luxurious looking entrance. Ryan let go of my hand, and I bottled up the swelling of regret forming within me. I didn’t know why my heart was being so fast. I was probably just nervous about this espionage. I was about to face a room full of aliens after all.

“I will part with you here,” Ryan nodded, “Go inside and mingle. I will see what I can do.”

Ryan gave my name to a door greeter before turning and walking away. I watched him go with regret. Now I was on my own. At least Andrew would be around somewhere. The greeter announced my presence, and I walked into the room. It was a massively decorated hall complete with chandeliers, an orchestra playing strange ethereal music, and large groups of colorful guests.

Colorful was exactly the word to describe them. No two aliens had the same skin color. Although some of them looked a lot like the host Prince, their species seemed to have different skin color like humans had a different eye or hair color.

Prince Styf was surrounded by a group of people. He had a platter of some kind of food. I decided I’d stay away from the alien foods. Some of the food on the plates looked like they were still moving. The Prince looked over and noticed me entering the room. He excused himself from his companions, making his way in my direction.

“Hello,” he offered a hand, “Princess Nefriti, I see the rumors are true, you are as beautiful as the rumors suggest.”

“Is that what they say?” I offered flippantly, trying not to blush.

The Prince leaned closer to me, speaking in an almost whisper, “Are the other rumors true as well?”

I frowned behind the veil. Something about the Prince’s leering eye and tone of voice made me uneasy with what he was asking.

“I suppose that depends on the rumors.”

Prince Styf laughed as if I had made some kind of joke, “They say that the people of Magratea… are very progressive.”

“I’m not sure I follow what you mean.”

“I’ve heard rumors of this thing you do called the Pon farr.”

“I’ve… yes, of course.” I had no clue what he was talking about.

“And is it really like how they describe it?”

“It’s exactly like they describe it.”

Prince Styf’s eyes brightened, “You’ve given me something to think out. Say, would you be interested in…”

“May I have this dance?”

The voice broke in, causing Prince Styf to turn an annoyed gaze on the interrupting party. A man dressed in elaborate red robes extended his hand towards me. His face was completely obscured by a mask. My first instinct was to tell him, no, but the familiarity of the voice slammed home. That was right, Andrew was in disguise too. I took his offered hand, and he led me away.

A song began. It wasn’t something I recognized, but it sounded orchestral and quite pretty. I took Andrew’s other hand, and suddenly I found us moving out onto the dance floor. His feet were quick and sure, I didn’t realize Andrew could dance like this. He spun me in a quick arc, then pulled me close to him.

“I’m sorry, but he was all over you and I thought you could use the bailing out,” Andrew whispered.

I smiled, “Thanks, he was giving me kind of a creepy vibe, but we’re supposed to be keeping his attention.”

“Oh, you have his attention, he hasn’t stopped looking at us.” Andrew chuckled.

I glanced back to see Prince Skyf watching us move with a distinct frown on his face. He seemed very unhappy for some reason. I accidently slipped, stepping on Andrew’s toe. A blush formed on my lips, but he cupped my cheek and gave a smile that I could see through the mask.

“It’s okay; you’re doing great.”

“Where did you learn to dance like that?” I asked as he pulled me into a dip.

“You didn’t know, Angels are incredible dancers?”

I let out a laugh, “No, I didn’t.”

Another robed person suddenly approached us and tapped on Andrew’s shoulder. He looked to his side at the newcomer.

“Rune? Why aren’t you helping Ryan?” Andrew asked.

“There’s a problem.”

The two of us dropped our hands and parted, turning to Rune.

“What’s going on?”

“We made it into the Prince’s room, but we were jumped. Ryan said he would hold them off and that I should get you guys. Things are about to hit the fan.”

I looked over at the Prince. He had previously been giving Andrew and me dirty looks from across the room. Now he was talking to one of his soldiers, his face steadily growing angrier.

“We need to go now,” I told the boys, picking up my dress and racing out of the room.

“No, wait,” Andrew put up his hand.

I was already out the door and heading down the hallway. We needed to get to Ryan as quickly as possible. I raced towards the Prince’s room. At the back of my head, I realized it was probably stupid. There was almost certainly nothing I could do.

I burst into the room, the furniture was destroyed. Various trash was scattered across the room like it had been ransacked. Ryan lied in the middle of the floor, his eyes closed. I knelt down and touched his skin. It was cold and hard. Oh no, he had no heartbeat. Ryan was dead! Tears began to fall down my face as I let out a sob.

Ryan’s eyes snapped open, and I jumped. The boys seriously needed to stop doing that to me. That was right, he’s a robot, no heartbeat. I blushed in embarrassment.

“Self-repair at 42% and rising.”

“You’re… going to be okay?”

“I apologize, the ambushers managed to acquire the codes and incapacitate me. I have failed you.” Ryan answered.

“It’s alright, I was worried you might be hurt. I’m just so happy you’re okay.”

“You… really care about me?”

“Of course, I do, you’re a friend.” I gave him a smile.

“I… thank you so much.”

“What is this?” An incredulous voice snapped.

I glanced up to see the Prince standing at the entrance to the room with a large group of guards.

“You!” he shouted with an angry voice looking down at the pair of us, “Guards, arrest these traitors!”

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