Hawtness – Volume 3 – Chapter 1

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The stars shone brightly across the sky. I laid down with my hands stretched across the silk-like grass. I dug my fingers into the fresh moss. The sound of a horse whinnied in the distance, causing me to glance over at the edges of the forest. He appeared in the distance, finally coming for me. I had been waiting forever. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him; the boy I loved.

The horse stepped tentatively out into the clearing. My lover rode it with skill and precision. His eyes darted across the clearing, searching for me. When he saw me, his eyes glittered with excitement. Those eyes shown with a deepness and beauty that caused my skin to tingle from top to bottom every time I saw it. I gave him a reassuring smile. My prince smiled back and began moving the white stallion towards me, dismounting before he approached me.

He moved up to me, falling to one knee, “I am so glad you called me, I have loved you since the day we first met. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Jane. I love you more than life itself. Let us merge our hearts under this beautiful moon.”

I giggle as he swooped down and picked me up, his muscular arms enveloping my gentle form. He turned, gliding me away from my resting spot. His eyes never left mine, concerned only with my wellbeing. His scent intoxicated me, his warmth permeated me, and his eyes opened me up and bared my soul to him.

He laid me down on a gentle bed of flowers and moss. A burst of butterflies shot out from the edges of the canvas, fluttering into the night sky. He smiled, steadily reaching down and pulling off his tight shirt. I blushed as I admired his strong, masculine form.

“Jane, may we?”

I giggled once again like a schoolgirl, “We may!”

“You are my first, and my only, Jane.”

I could not respond. Instead, I took deep stuttering breaths as his hand reached out and untied the front of my blouse. I raised my hands, and watched as he glided it up over my head, lying it down beside me as if it was a fragile part of myself. He reached down, cupping my cheek. His lips approached mine, and we kissed. I breathed in his scent, my body tingling from head to toe. His kiss was soft, peaceful, and complete. I moaned softly, the only other sound being the crickets and forest at night.

My prince began to kiss my check, each soft kiss caressing my skin and sucking lightly, causing goose bumps to form. I shivered as he pressed his deliciously warm body against me. The kisses lowered, each one causing a tingle of euphoria to shoot down to my toes. He continued to lower his kisses. He lightly kissed my chest followed by my stomach. His hands gently glided across my stomach as he proceeded to go even lower.

He stopped, causing me to glance down in confusion. His eyes watch me with a gentle twinkle, a beautiful smile caressing his face; his head resting against my stomach.

“Jane…”

“Hmmm?” I asked.

“Can you wake up?”

“What?”

“I need you for something, can you wake up?”

“No, no, keep going.”

“Jane, come on, wake up.” The prince reached up and started shaking me.

“Oh no you don’t! We are finishing this! You get your beautiful ass back down there and finish the job! I need five more minutes!”

My eyes snapped open, and above me was a half-naked man.

“Daniel? What the hell are you doing on top of me?”

“Shhh!!!” Daniel put a finger over my mouth, “Five more minutes for what? Never mind, I’m sorry for waking you like this. I know it’s really early in the morning, but I really need your help.”

I let out a groan and a whimper. I had a dream about a beautiful half naked man on top of me to awake to see a beautiful half naked man on top of me. The lines between reality and fiction were closing in on me. Although, at the moment, I felt very sensitive, and a bit aroused. Damn it, why did Daniel have to have his shirt missing and smell so much like the forest? If he made the right move right now, he would not be leaving this bed until the morning. I don’t suppose he would be interested in late night foreplay, would he?

“What are you looking for, Daniel?” I asked breathlessly.

“Jane, I want you to be my mate, tonight.”

My mouth worked noiselessly. I couldn’t resist anymore, so this was going to happen? It seemed so sudden. I closed my eyes, spreading my arms. I am ready, Daniel, please be gentle to me.

The door creaked open and one of my eyes opened. Daniel got off of me, moving over to the side of the room. Alex walked in, a mischievous grin on her face. Now, I didn’t agree to a threesome!

Alex’s appearance looked odd. She looked plainer; her skin no longer shone. Alex looked significantly more mundane and less attractive than her usual self. As she came into the light of my small desk lamp, the reality of it came crashing down on me. She looked more like me, my mouth twisted riley. Like looking in a mirror, indeed.

“What’s going on?” I asked, covering up my lower body with my blanket.

“Ever since you took that time traveling adventure, the guys have been helping me refine my shimmering abilities. I can replicate you a lot easier now.”

“Is there any reason you’re doing that right now?” I demanded.

Alex shrugged, “Daniel begged me to be you for a few days.”

The two of us turned to Daniel, who lowered his head, “I’m sorry for the suddenness of this, but I have to move quickly or I may be too late.”

“What’s going on Daniel?”

Daniel sighed, looking back into my eyes; the sight reminded me of the man from my dreams and I looked away, “Yesterday, my bother passed away.”

Alex put her hand over her mouth. I took a few steps towards Daniel, grabbing his hand and forcing myself to glance into those big brown eyes of his. I needed to get control of my hormones, for Daniel’s sake.

“I’m so sorry Daniel, is there anything I can do for you?”

Daniel shook his hands, “No, you misunderstand. He is not my biological brother, he is my wolf brother.”

I rose an eyebrow, now a bit confused. Daniel took a deep breath before grabbing me on each shoulder and gently sitting me back down on my bed. Then, he moved to one knee on the floor in front of me, looking up with pleading in his eyes.

“I am sorry to ask this of you so abruptly. You know how I feel about you, but I know you haven’t chosen me as a mate. I understand and I respect your need for time. However, my brother who passed acted as the Alpha of our pack. When an Alpha dies, everyone from the pack must return home and decide on a new Alpha. It’s like a family reunion meets the Olympics.”

“Alright…”

“I’m at an age where I must compete to become Alpha, or be publically shamed and exiled from my pack.”

“I’m with you so far.”

“To compete, however, I must have a mate. A wolf without a mate cannot be considered an Alpha. If I do not bring a mate of my own, they will provide one for me. I do not want to have a mate forced on me.”

“So you want me to… pretend to be your mate?”

“That is what I asked, yes.”

I glanced at Alex, who just gave me a shrug. Well, my sister wasn’t going to be a lot of help. I took a deep breath. The puppy dog look on Daniel made it hard to resist. Even if he wasn’t desperate, I considered him a friend. To me, that was enough.

“Alright, I’ll do it, what do I have to do?”

“We need to sleep together.”

“Never mind, you’re on your own.”

Daniel shook his head, “I don’t mean mating. You see, werewolves have very good noses. No offense, but there is a lot of different guys smells on you. I need you to take a thorough bath, and then we will sleep close so only my scent is on you.”

“So the other guys?”

“That’s why I’ve kept this secret, the other guys would be considered a threat. If any werewolf smells another man on you, I’d be expected to kill you. If another man shows any interest in you, I’d be expected to fight him for you.”

“That’s horrible.”

Daniel shrugged, “It is the way of the wolf.”

“Does that mean my sister will be in danger?” Alex demanded giving Daniel a flat stare.

Daniel shook his head, “As long as I’m the prominent male scent on her, we should be safe.”

“Where are we going to do this?” I asked.

“We need to get a move on. There are too many people in and out of your house to clean yourself here. There is a cabin. Werewolves use it from time to time, on the way up to my clan territory. We can spend the night there.”

“You want to take my sister out in the middle of the night to a cabin in the secluded woods? This is either the beginning of a horror story or an episode of Hustler,” Alex smirked.

“Alex, stop that,” I growled as Daniel blushed.

“I’m sorry, Jane, I’m worried about your safety. That’s what sisters are for.”

I smiled at Alex, moving forward and wrapping my arms around her. “You’ll keep my secret from the other guys, won’t you?”

Alex barked a nervous laugh, “Of course, I’ll think of something to tell them. You won’t miss a day of school either; I promise.”

“Thank you.”

Alex kissed me on the cheek, giving me a tight squeeze, “Just be safe, okay.”

I nodded, letting go of her.

“Daniel, what’s the plan?”

Daniel nodded to me, and like that, his body began to transform. His rippling chest grew a bit; his face warped into a snout and his eyes turned blacker. His legs bent awkwardly, his thighs increasing in size as small tears formed in his pants. Now, I knew what kept happening to those. His nails grew into long talons, but his chest was surprisingly hairless. The hair on his head grew; he had much longer hair now with long sideburns.

This was the first time I ever got to see Daniel in his werewolf form in the full light. I had always assumed it would be terrifying and monstrous, but he in the end he was just Daniel with a cute little dog snout and pointy wolf ears on his head. I wouldn’t even be against kissing him in this form, if the mood was right.

“I’ll carry you, like we’ve done before.” He eyed me as I opened up my arms for him to carry me. “Um… you might want to get dressed and pack something for the road.”

I looked down, realizing I wore my pink pajamas and nothing else. Daniel’s face twisted. It took me a second to realize it was supposed to be a smile. I’d have to get used to figuring out expressions on his wolf face. He turned around, covering his eyes, and I began undressing.

I disrobed down to my underwear when Alex made a noise and turned away in embarrassment. I glanced over at her back. It took me a second to realize the problem. She could be a boy sometimes, and here I was practically naked. She gave me privacy out of respect. It hadn’t even occurred to me that it’d be inappropriate to undress in front of my big sister.

Then again, she wasn’t really my big sister. It seemed strange, but even now I wasn’t embarrassed. I had just come to see her as my sister. A few nights prior, there had been a particularly stormy night. The pair of us had ended up cuddling under a set of sheets, watching a scary movie with Tomodalton. It had felt nice just being with my sister. I didn’t know how I felt about that, but I did care for her. She drove me crazy sometimes, and could be a little slutty and vane, but she was family.

I quickly put my clothing on, grabbing a backpack and shoving a few pants, shirts, and underwear in it. I debated grabbing a dress. If I pretended to be Daniel’s mate, and we maintained appearances, I should probably look nice too. Then again, did werewolf wives wear makeup and dress nice? I had the impression they liked an earthier appearance. I was about to ask when the sound of a toilet flushing broke each of our attentions.

“That’s Tom, if you guys want to get away unnoticed, you need to leave now. He’d break under the pressure of the other guys questioning in seconds.”

I nodded, she was right, Tomodoltan couldn’t take the pressure of a secret. He’d fold faster than Ryan, and that boy was programmed to do whatever you asked of him. I practically lept into Daniel’s arms, holding my backpack in my hands. Daniel gave me a nod before moving to the window. My eyes widened, he wasn’t going to do what I thought he was going to do, was he?

He put one foot up on my open window ledge, and pushed off into the night. Just like that, we dove into the darkness beyond my window. I fought the urge to scream as we plummeted two stories to the ground. Daniel’s feet hit the ground smoothly, only causing me a small jolt as he burst into a sprint. The wind whistled in my ears as Daniel bounded down the street far faster that a human could deep into the night.

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Time and Place – Chapter 4

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A wave of heat blasted Penelope Tanris in the face. It was a particularly hot and uncomfortable day. She quickly dabbed her forehead with a handkerchief to prevent any sweat from running into her eyes.  The scripts of fragile paper that were laid out over her table were starting to cause her vision to blur.

She had since come to the conclusion that the text was not Iridian language, but a more basic form of the common tongue. It had several roots that seemed to derive from her own language, and she found translating it was becoming easier and easier.

It was an odd finding, to see several documents written in an ancient form of the common tongue on a planet that was most likely one of the Iridian homeworlds, but perhaps this was the Iridian language, since no written form of Iridian had ever been discovered before.

This could lead to some very interesting inquiries. Why would Iridians speak ancient common tongue? Did Iridian derive from common tongue? Or Vice Versa? Were they perhaps connected to humanity in some way in our recent past? Or was all language somehow interconnected, and it only seemed to Penelope as if they had some of the same roots?

Either way, the document seemed to offer nothing of use. It told a story, of sorts, but it used many words Dr. Tanris could not translate.  It seemed to involve fanciful creatures that Tanris had never heard of engaging in some kind of competition. It was folklore, most likely. She sighed, putting the document aside. It might be interesting, but ultimately pointless for her right now. Parables served as an interesting delve into a society’s ideals, but was not the kind of discovery she was being paid to make.

She wiped her forehead once again as new beads of sweat started to roll down her face. It was the lights, really. She had several bright halogen lights pointed straight down at the table, and they were producing much more heat than she would have liked. The breezes through her open tent flap were unfortunately just as hot and as uncomfortable, although even a hot breeze felt nice against her skin at this point.

Dr. Tanris could not wait until it was fall again. She knew the region tended to have four seasons, and two of them were bearable. In the winter months, she knew she would be able to accomplish nothing and the research would practically stop. It was for that reason that she was so adamant to get as many of the documents as she could translated.

She quickly made a note in her journal, labeled the document, and put it aside for some other person to make a more complete translation. She then set her pen down, leaning back into the cheap folding chair. It creaked and swayed slightly, but Penelope made no attempt to brace or adjust herself. The chair always swayed and always creaked. That chair had been to more excavation sites and archeological finds than most of the staff that worked under her, and she trusted it to carry her.

She pulled her arms out wide and then tossed them side to side, stretching them the best she could without knocking the table or anything that sat on it. The tent around her was of sufficient height for her to stand and move around. This was not because the tent was high, but because she was rather short. The tent was roughly ten feet by ten feet, providing sufficient space for the small desk, a mattress in the corner, and a dresser drawer that contained most of her stuff.

This had been her bedroom and home for about three years now, and she had only abandoned it once prior to restock supplies. Normally, she’d send others to perform the restocking, but in that particular case, there was no one that she felt she could trust to get the tools and supplies she had specifically needed. During the month trip, she had forced the excavation staff to stop working until her return. Fortunately, it was during a winter month, and little work could be performed anyway.

Dr. Tanris’s stomach grumbled and the noise reminded her that she had not eaten in some time. She glanced at the clock and clicked her tongue in annoyance. As a matter of fact, she had not eaten at all that day. She wasn’t hungry, of course. She never was. But she learned a long time ago to remember to eat at least once a day or she might just collapse without warning. It had only happened to her on rare occasions when a particularly astonishing find kept her busy for longer than she had planned. It was never something she wanted to happen though. There were a lot of lost opportunities to work during the two to three days it took for her to recover.

She stood up and walked out the tent. Once she ducked through the opening she realized that it was even hotter outside than she had originally thought. The sun blazed down from the sky above, and the heat didn’t provide as much comfort as one might have hoped.

The disarrayed camp around her encompassed various vehicles, tents, and equipment in no particular order. It wasn’t well maintained, but she didn’t really care enough to force her workers into a more organized system. She walked over to the canteen area, or at least the area the food was stored and often prepared.

She noticed the stock master sitting down, whittling away at a piece of wood. He was a broad-shouldered hulk of a man. His waist actually looked too small and petite to hold the body above it. He wore an apron, as always, and a white shirt, making him look more like a cafeteria cook than anything else.

It was his responsibility to make sure that there was a ready supply of everything the camp of roughly fifty people needed to survive. Sometime over the last three years that role grew into him becoming the camp cook. Every mealtime, he distributed the food to anyone who came by the canteen. He had started this habit ever since a few years ago when he had discovered one of the workers hoarding food.

When he saw her coming, he stood up. His knife slipped into his apron and the chunk of wood dropped to the floor.  He gave her a respectful bow before looking up inquisitively at her.

“I will be needing something to eat,” Penelope told him curtly.

He nodded and opened the crate he had been sitting on. There might have been a time where he would have asked her what she wanted, but after the hundredth time of her telling him she didn’t care, he had finally stopped asking and simply gave her whatever was available.

He pulled out a bag and handed it to her. She took it from him while he turned around to shut the chest closed. She went to another chest that sat across from him and sat down. When he turned back he gave a start, noticing that she was still there. Most of the time, she would immediately head back to the tent to have her meal in solitude. Penelope felt like she could use a little sun today, and besides, she had no room in the tent right now. The last thing she wanted was some food staining one of her documents.

The bag consisted of a beef stew, a canteen of water, and a spoon. She ripped it open, pulling out the bowl and removing the lid. She poured water in the bowl from the canteen and stirred it to suspend the dried kernels. The meal included a heating element, but she decided to simply eat it cold.  It was too hot to eat something equally hot. She ate her meal in silence, enjoying the periodic gusts of wind that seemed to carry the scent of summer. She had stopped sweating now, and the hot breeze seemed to be relaxing in a way. She realized her bowl of stew was almost empty, although she wasn’t aware that she had eaten that fast.

“Pardon me, ma’am,” A voice spoke from behind her.

Penelope cocked her head to the side, observing an unfamiliar man who now stood uncomfortably beside her. He was a short for a man, although still significantly taller than her. She never really trusted short men.  He had an oily mustache and with a devil’s peak beard. He had high cheek bones that made his face look both chubby and gaunt at the same time, although the contradiction was a bit unsettling. His hair was black, stringy, and as oily as his mustache. She cringed at the thought of anyone who would have to touch that hair.

“Yes?” She asked, turning her body towards him but remaining seated.

“You are Dr. Tanris, is this correct?” The man asked, his voice displaying a hint of a Sudmarin accent.

“That would be correct,” Penelope responded, attempting to hide her annoyance.

She didn’t fault his accent. She knew that she herself spoke with the chipped off Hucton accent, sometimes making it difficult to understand her. Instead, she was annoyed because of the type of man she suspected he was. This wasn’t the first visit Penelope Tanris had received. The stock master moved off, finding busy work a good distance away from the pair of them. He was a smart man.

“I am here on behalf of Anderus Satre,” the man said, a small smile on his face that he most likely intended to be disarming, “I am here to-”

“I know who you are,” Penelope interrupted,” I know why you’re here. I won’t hear of it. You aren’t the first of your kind to come crawling into my camp. And I will tell you what I told the rest of your bureaucratic hypocrisy. My funding is my own, and backed by the Lord Regent, so do not think you can brow-beat me into cutting my resources.”

She stood up, and with an abrupt turn, began walking to her tent.  The man took a few quick steps to get behind her. Despite her short legs, she was a fast walker, and the man had to step quickly to keep up. She was impressed he had reacted so quickly. She had left many a skip sitting slack-jawed in her wake.

“It’s simply that you haven’t found anything in the three years you have dug here. You have not shown any real proof that this was an Iridian homeworld. The amount of money that you have dumped into this archeological wasteland is not inductive of the results,” the man responded, jumping awkwardly over a cord strewn across the camp in a way that could have tripped him otherwise.

“And what research do you offer Skip?” Penelope answered, “I have had dozens of people come landing in my site, interrupting my work, to try to score some money for their own work. Charities, researchers, and Skips like yourself. The last one wanted the money to build an orphanage. At least, I think it was an orphanage; she used the words ‘homeless starving children’ a lot. But I refused her. You know why? Because the work I do here is important, so very important. So what makes you think your cause is so much greater?”

“I will have you know I am not a Sk- I mean doctor. I mean I am a doctor, but I am a doctor of law…” his voice started to sound exasperated.

“A lawyer? Really?” Penelope quirked her eyebrow, “So you only work for a Skip. Anderes Satre was it?”

“Anderus. Actually, I work for several professors at the United University, where there has been a discovery. It is a discovery of incredible proportions. All of the Universities are scrambling to find researchers, time, and money to-”

“And you thought you could just stop here and cut a large piece of my cake?” Penelope growled, stopping short in front of the entrance to her tent, “I apologize, Anderes, but you will need to go home without cake.”

As Penelope turned to enter her tent, Anderus opened his mouth to say something else before suddenly being interrupted by a shout. Penelope turned around to see a man running towards her. He was a grizzled man with thick arms and even thicker legs, but he maneuvered across the camp and its many crates, boxes, cords, and other tripping hazards with the comfort and ease of an experienced man.

“Ma’am,” Distro stated with a nod as he stopped in front of her.

He wasn’t out of breath. Penelope wasn’t sure the man could ever be out of breath. He was possibly one of the most resilient men she had ever known, and for that, she had kept him as part of her team for many years. More than once she had survived digs far more inhospitable than this one only because he held her up when she felt like falling. Despite that, he caught her at a particularly bad time.

“Well, get it out!” Penelope growled, unable to control her voice from the mood the leaching lawyer had put her in.

“There’s been a discovery. You need to come quickly and see for yourself,” Distro bowed, turning as he did.

Distro wasn’t one to call her unless it was needed. And he knew better than to waste her time explaining things. Penelope began following at his pace, which was brisk even by her standards. She was vaguely aware that the lawyer was following behind her, tripping and stumbling on his way to keep up.

Within a minute they had walked to the edge of camp, where Distro’s jeep was sitting. He leapt into the driver’s side and she followed into the passenger side. As the car started, a hand grabbed her arm. She looked at her right to see the lawyer looking at her with pleading eyes.

“I…” She began.

“We don’t want your money, we want you!” He said clearly louder and quicker than he had intended.

Penelope stared at him for a second before nodding. He jumped into the back seat as smoothly as a lawyer could before the car started forward. He wasn’t quite seated yet and stumbled a bit, falling back into the seat with a loud thump. This gave Penelope a bit more pleasure than she might have thought, and she ideally wondered if Distro had intentionally accelerated this hard for her benefit.

The jeep began to bounce and jeer as they quickly made their way to the dig site. Penelope could tell by the direction they were heading that it was Dig Site C.

“This discovery, it’s classified, but whatever it is they want you there. Every archeologist, scientist, and experienced individual is being called who has any loyalty to the Taerren Alliance. With commitment, you will be offered funding for ten years and tenor at the University.”

“Is that so, Anderes?” Penelope asked nonchalantly, trying to sound disinterested.

“That’s not my name, that’s who I work for, I mean Anderus-” the lawyer looked irritated.

In truth, she had been starting to worry whether this planet has been a waste of her time. But the energy signals? They had to be Iridian. Her financing did not end for another 3 years, and when she had come here, this was the big deal, the place where they wanted her to go. One by one, other archeologists gave up on the findings, until it was only her left. But if she abandoned the place, they would begin settling it with people, and any unfound ruins would be violated and destroyed.  This was the one shot they had to find any information about what happened to the Iridians.

Still, a fresh start would be nice. This new world, it has to have an Iridian signal to generate this kind of excitement. Maybe there was something there that wasn’t here. Maybe this was just starting all over again, and she’d be starting the goose chase again. She is so close this time.

She remained in silence, thinking about what the lawyer had said as he impatiently tried to keep his suit from falling apart in the wind. Dig Site C was not particularly far from camp, and before long they pulled into the unloading area.

“Will you do it?” the lawyer asked, still tidying his outfit.

Penelope glanced back at him before jumping out of the jeep, following Distro. She could hear the lawyer tumbling after her. They walked down a fairly steep crevice that went into the dig site. The lawyer struggled behind her as he attempted to make his way down the hill in shoes that were never fit for walking in anything unpaved.

At the bottom of the crevice was a partially dug up building. A few hints of rusted foundation still sat around it as several diggers attempted to uncover more of the building, but at the base of the dig was something that could only be described as a door. It was a closed door leading into a fully completed and undamaged room. The sides were concrete, and it looked like a solid concrete cube with 6 sides around that closed door.

“A time capsule?” Penelope breathed out.

“Possibly,” Distro answered, “The cube seems to be in some kind of time bubble. It’s emitting some kind of temporal energy similar to what the Iridians used.

“Temporal energy? This looks nothing like anything Iridian we have ever seen,” Penelope frowned as she stared at the odd building up and down.

“It is difficult to say. The bubble seems to have protected this building, and slowed down the effects of time. It is actually the source of the Iridian signals we have been tracing for years. Even now, most of our equipment is going haywire around it. But I would say whatever it is, it predates the Iridians.”

Penelope’s eyebrows rose as she looked around. Many of the workers had stopped working and were now all anxiously watching her.  The lawyer had stopped dead in his tracks, staring at the half buried room as if he had never seen one before.

“I want that door open!” She shouted.

The lawyer jumped, but everyone else sprang into action, just waiting for the order. Within a few seconds several people had forced crowbars into the edges and were forcing the door open. It cranked open with an incredibly loud whine. Air rushed in as the pressure rapidly altered between the two environments.

Perhaps she should have been more patient. Analyzed, checked, and ran results before opening the door, but she had already been patient for years. Now she had to know why that signal was here.

The door was finally wedged open enough for a person to fit through. Penelope pulled a protective breathing device over her face, grabbed a flashlight, and plunged into the darkness. Distro cursed before following while quickly covering his own face. The inside of the room was unremarkable. Her flashlight showed concrete walls and crates after crates of unidentified stuff. At a first glance, there was certainly no power source that could be creating the temporal energy.  Then, her flashlight beamed across the table in the center of the room.

On the table sat what could only be identified as a coffin made entirely of metal. She walked up to the table. Distro cautiously followed behind her. The metallic coffin possessed a glass window that allowed her to shine her light into the box. What she saw shocked her.

It was a person. He looked Taerren, with dirty blond hair, a moderately strong chin, and full cheeks. His skin looked clean and washed. He looked to be asleep, and he was in perfect physical condition. How is that possible? She glanced over to Distro, who glanced back at her and gave a shrug.  When she turned around to the entrance, the lawyer had his head peaked through the crack and was staring in shock and wonderment at the place her light had touched.

“The answer is no, Anderes. I think I have work to do here.”

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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

 

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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