“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… 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.”
“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.”
“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!”