Time and Place – Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Brushing my teeth, I suppose.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Good. Are you allergic to fish?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What, Cryogenic Freezing?”

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

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

“Of course,” Darian lied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Dreamless? Is it safe?” Darian asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“When do we start?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hawtness – Volume 2 – Chapter 3

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Space Babes

“Presenting Princess Nefriti of the furry planet Magratea!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Like what?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m not following.”

“Have you ever seen peach fuzz?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Imagine that, but an entire planet.”

“Now you’ve lost me.”

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

“A what?” I inquired.

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

“Oh my god, how can we stop that?”

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

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

“No, it won’t be necessary to-”

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

“Not exactly, the plan is to-”

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

“That seems incredibly unlikely to work.”

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

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

“Jane, listen carefully.”

“I’m listening…”

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

“You’ve lost me.”

“How? How have I lost you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m not following you,” I responded.

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

“You can tell that?”

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

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

“No, it doesn’t.”

“More like Star Wars desert space vagina.”

“Miss Jane?”

“Space… vagina…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ryan, do you think I’m pretty?”

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

“What did you tell her?”

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

“And what about me?”

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

“Did you bring the medicine?”

Nearby sounds caused my eyes to open.

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

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

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

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

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

“An alien had Sudafed sitting on his ship?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Um, what are you doing?”

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

“You really don’t.”

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

“That’s not happening.”

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

“You’re not seeing me naked.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Carry them with you, where?”

“I have internal compartments for this purpose.”

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

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

“What are you doing?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I suppose that depends on the rumors.”

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s exactly like they describe it.”

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

“May I have this dance?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s okay; you’re doing great.”

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

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

I let out a laugh, “No, I didn’t.”

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

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

“There’s a problem.”

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

“What’s going on?”

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

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

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

“No, wait,” Andrew put up his hand.

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

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

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

“Self-repair at 42% and rising.”

“You’re… going to be okay?”

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

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

“You… really care about me?”

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

“I… thank you so much.”

“What is this?” An incredulous voice snapped.

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

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

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Time and Place – Prologue

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I know, I know what you’re thinking. A Freaking ‘nother one? Actually, this is a novel I’m in the process of writing. It is NOT a light novel-like story like my other ones… this is just pure science fiction; however, now that I think about it… it actually is kind of “another world” novel. It’s about a guy who wakes up 100,000 years in the future.  I’ve already written 50-some chapters of this, so putting it up is no problem. I thought maybe getting a few supporters might motivate me to eventually finish it. I already have a book series worked out in my mind, but I haven’t produced a chapter in a year or so, so I’m willing to give anything a try.

___________________________________

The portal shimmered. The blue light from within grew and dimmed in a steady rhythm as if mimicking the old man’s heartbeat. He quickly wiped the sweat as it accumulated in droplets on his brow with a handkerchief. It was hot, much hotter than he had expected. The luminescent blues bouncing off the rocky white terrace gave the impression that it should have been a cool day.

As he pulled his handkerchief away, he noticed a smear of brown from the dirt on his face. He sighed. It was one of his favorites; it was all he had from his mother. Of course, that wasn’t entirely accurate. The original handkerchief had long been destroyed. This was only an approximation of what he remembered of his mother. Perhaps it was one of the only memories he had remaining of her.

As an infant, his mother had named him Nas’ Dera in the crib. He swore he could remember hearing her cry as he was taken away without a chance to glance upon his face. Of course, that was impossible. Even if Nas’ Dera could remember some repressed memory from infancy, it had long since between overwritten with the untold time that followed.

Nas’ Dera was a title more than a name, but it was the only name from which he had ever been known. The name had meant ‘last hope’ in the forgotten tongue of his people, but no one who lived remembered that name except for him. He looked up at the sky and grimaced. There was probably no one alive besides himself at this point.

His face was sunken and resigned, covered by the hood of his once clean robes. A red sash crossed over his chest but it had worn to a dull pinkish color, ripped and torn at various points, seeming to barely hang from his body. He pushed back his hood, taking a deep breath, his blue eyes seeming to absorb the light of the portal. He closed them, and in a flash, he felt a memory of green; of life. There was a time when he remembered life, when he remembered what it was like to be alive. So long, that seemed to be, since he had seen something so simple, so alive, as the color green.

He took another glance around. In front of him sat a small altar made from obsidian rock set within the white terrace. Small shapes and symbols seemed to be written all over the altar, seemingly random in placement.  Large spiral columns stood on each of the four corners of the terrace, each one cracked, blistered, and damaged from the ravages of time. On the top of each pillar, a stream of white light shot into the sky, creating a small dome that surrounded the terrace he stood in. The invisible walls shimmered and flexed, giving a strangely drunken appearance to the world outside.  The world beyond the dome was dark and indistinguishable. Shapes seemed to move and dance just out of sight within the shadows, but he ignored them.  He could not think of what was beyond in that darkness, not now.

A sudden burst of light came from the sky and he instinctively looked up.  He knew what he would see. The light was already gone by the time his eyes were able to focus. The dark sky above seemed strangely empty, devoid of the light one would expect during a clear night. Another star had vanished in the night sky. Some would call it the heat death of the universe. However, that wasn’t quite right. If the universe was truly dying from old age, then it would have gradually dimmed to nothingness once luminosity decreased to the point that it was no longer visible from Nas’ Dera’s point of view. This was more like the universe was being eaten.

“What star was that?” he wondered aloud.

It could have been any, really. It was a star that had been destroyed thousands of years ago, if not a million years gone. Why did it take them so long to realize they were disappearing, one at a time?  It was too late, now, to do anything about it. The sky did not contain enough stars, appearing empty and hollow. Regrettably, even the ones he could see were long gone.  He was happy that it was dark out, that he could not see the star that this planet orbited, the final death cries of a blackened universe.

A light tremor began to shake the ground around him. He braced himself against the shaking. It continued on for a minute or two before subsiding. He did not have very much time. The portal flickered uneasily, drawing his attention back. He was too old for this, too weak. He knew the task at hand would kill him, but there was no one else to do it.

He pressed one of the symbols on the altar, resembling a table with a cross sitting atop it.  It emanated a small blue shimmering light and images flickered across the portal. The images were of people’s faces, but no image remained for more than a blink as they jumped from one face to the next. He watched carefully as each face was shown, his eyes darting left to right, looking for the sign.

He began to feel a small ache in the back of his eyes.  He realized that he hadn’t blinked in some time, but he could not afford to miss the instance he sought. Sweat began streaming down his face, but he dared not wipe his forehead in the fear of missing that one image. He kept focus, for as long as he had to, he could not afford to miss the opportunity – it would only happen once.

Nas’ Dera had no clue how long he stood there, watching the streaming images of faces… so many faces. His legs ached, his back was sore, and he longed to sit down. He knew, however, that if he rested, that the job would never be finished. This was his last chance. The portal crackled, the steady pulsing fell off rhythm for a second. He grimaced at the momentary loss of concentration.  Then he saw it.

Did I?” he thought for a split second before pressing a second symbol, which caused the image to stop.

He wasn’t sure if it had been what he was looking for.  It was so quick and he was still a bit distracted. Once he moved the image backward, he wasn’t sure if he could get the device moving forward again. Was it what he sought? Or was it just a hopeful glimpse? The end of the world, the universe, and all of his plans could be wasted by a maybe.

Nas’ Dera sighed deeply. He was never a gambling man; he liked to have control of his own destiny and the likes of cards or dice seemed set to take destiny on by random. However, it seemed as if there was no choice. He gripped the outside of the symbol in his hand, turning. The lighted symbol seemed to rotate with his hand. He felt a kind of resistance, a weakness in the stability of the device. He held his breath, slowly and deliberately turning the symbol.  The symbol stopped with the cross pointing left and he let out a slow breath. Once again touching the symbol ever so slightly, the images began going back one at a time.

The images flicked back much slower. There was a woman with red hair, a man with a unibrow, a young boy with a dog. He could make out each of these people, people dead ages ago. People who lived short lives on a small planet a billion years ago. Who would have ever thought that the whole universe may depend on a man from that little planet?

Nas’ Dera did. He could feel the man’s potential across the ages. His fate on his small little planet would have been incredible. He would have been a man of great importance. He was a man who would have been known for thousands of years on his planet. A man whose potential would have been completely wasted making an imprint on a single planet, when he had the entire universe that needed him. It was a trade. The man could save the planet, or in the right time and right place; he could save the universe.

Nas’ Dera released his finger and the image stopped on the man. He had brownish blonde hair and hazel brown eyes that seemed uneasy. They seemed to know what was happening to them, seemed to feel the old man watching him.  A smile caressed his face for the first time since he had entered the crumbling machine. He had finally found him, the man whose fate would change the universe. It was time to redirect him to the time and place where he could rise to his true potential.

The man in his image would never thank Nas’ Dera for what he was about to do to him. He hoped the man could find happiness in his new life, after a fashion, but this new life would be a much harder path for the man. The shaking began again, this time not seeming to end. His time was running out. The smile faded from Nas’ Dera. He had work to do.

Nas’ Dera paused the image. The tremor steadily grew in a long drawn out roar, making it harder and harder for Nas’ Dera to keep his balance. He flicked another symbol on the altar and the image seemed to solidify. It wasn’t as if the image was faded before, but now it somehow seemed more tangible. Nas’ Dera quickly stumbled up to the image. In a swift motion, his hand dived into it. Grabbing the back of Darian’s shirt, he pulled roughly. The image did not move, but then again, it did not have to for the effect to be apparent. Running back to the altar, he flicked the symbol again, and the image continued.

He scanned the man’s life. Using the machine’s unique functions, he scanned the 4th dimension, trailing along this man’s timeline. Just slight edits, Nas’ Dera would need to have a fine touch here. Slowly, and with a deftness that only a man as long lived as Nas’ Dera could possibly possess, he began to make alterations to the man’s life.

He moved objects, and he moved people. He manipulated the man’s timeline, trying to guide him in the direction he needed to go. Nas’ Dera hated doing this. It felt too much like he was pretending to be fate. Nas’ Dera didn’t believe in such a thing as fate. Ironic for a man who was fated to be the ‘last hope’. To be fair, the man resisted relentlessly. No matter how hard the man fell on bad luck, he always seemed to bounce right back.

It felt like a tug of war, a desperate struggle. The man wanted to stay where he was, on a little blue planet, where he would undoubtedly bring about a new age of prosperity. However, for this to work, that planet had to be abandoned. Everything that man ever knew needed to be abandoned as well.

Nas’ Dera winced as he paused the image again. No, this man would never thank him for changing the course of his life, not that the man would ever know it had been changed in this manner. Perhaps he would take comfort in knowing that his planet would survive without him. At least, a remnant of his planet would survive.

This old destiny would no longer be fulfilled. However, time had a funny way of forcing people such as him into greatness. He had a greater destiny awaiting him. Nas’ Dera fell to his knees, exhaustion finally stopping him from his work. He pressed a button and looked into the man’s future. He moved forward years after the man should have been there. There he was, still alive in the time capsule Nas’ Dera had prepared for him.

It would be time for him to wake soon. Nas’ Dera could do nothing else but watch. Meanwhile, another star disappeared from the night’s sky, but no one noticed its passing.

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Hawtness – Volume 2 – Chapter 2

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Panty Lift Off

“What did you do, Allan?” Andrew asked, rubbing his head as he took in a deep breath.

We were now standing in a white chamber. It was cylindrical in appearance with white walls on every side. The floor had six white spots with a smooth glass-like appearance. It basically looked like the inside of an alien spaceship. I wondered if Allan did that on purpose to mess with me.

“I teleported us onto my spacecraft positioned in a geosynchronous orbit traveling at seven thousand miles per hour.”

“Why?” Rune asked, breathing hard.

“Attempting to explain my actions to you was a waste of time. It was quicker to show you.”

“A little warning would be nice next time,” Rune snapped.

Allan straightened his glasses, “A little consideration on your side would be appreciated as well.”

I was crouched against a wall, my head resting in my hands. Why did these things keep happening to me? Was my destiny completely out of my control? Was I fated to be dragged from random place to random place in the name of what, the future? I took a deep breath, suppressing all of my anger and self-absorbed whining. Getting depressed wouldn’t get me out of this situation.

“What do you want, Allan?” I asked directly.

The three boys turned to me. Andrew and Rune seemed to have looks of surprise. What? Did they assume Allan had kidnapped us for the joy of it? Boys could be so stupid sometimes. Allan wanted something, I was certain of that.

Allan nodded, the hint of a smirk at the corner of his face, “I prefer directness too. That will make this considerably easier. Your planet is in grave danger. My race, the Prefects, don’t typically take positions when it comes to this kind of thing. We are silent observers fulfilling our missions for the good of the collective knowledge of our species. However, I’ve decided to at least inform relevant parties as to the threat.”

“Relevant parties?” Rune frowned, “What’s relevant about us?”

“An Archangel, an Archdemon, and Jane Averygail, a girl whom I’ve recently confirmed was involved in the incident sixty some years ago, involving a time-traveling alien. If you haven’t realized it, your unexpected participation in the great treaty that occurred on that date helped lead to the capture of that particular time traveling alien. A necromancer detected time particles on you and was able to track down the offender as a result. He was a notorious evil criminal who was brought to justice by your actions. Your name, and your actions are well known across the three known galaxies.”

“Fantastic,” I muttered, although Andrew and Rune seemed to be looking at me with impressed looks.

I had told them most of what had happened in the past. I didn’t really mention my near death, Daniel’s mom, Victor, or Mr. Xavier’s ghost. I imagined Andrew figured out some of the things, but Rune seemed to forget ever meeting me. Either way, I didn’t want to associate what happened in the past with what happened now. It hurt my head just thinking about it.

“So you know what we are?” Andrew asked, walking around the small chamber we were standing in.

“It is my job to observe, and I have analyzed your group activities for some time. Regrettably, my previous attempts to gain access to your confidence proved unsuccessful.”

Andrew went to ask another question, but I interrupted first, “What threat to Earth?”

“There is currently a full-scale invasion being planned. In the next forty-eight hours, your planet will be invaded, conquered, and enslaved.”

“What?” Rune shouted.

“I don’t believe it…” Andrew shook his head.

I just remained silent, watching Allan as he stared unemotionally at the three of us.

“Do you not care?” I asked.

Allan’s eyebrow raised, “I’ve only been stationed on this planet for the last year. I will simply be stationed somewhere else. You have my sympathies, but that is all I can offer. It is my species policy to not get involved. I probably should not have even informed you about it. Now that the relevant people know of this, I will send you back to your planet.”

“What?” Rune shouted even louder than the last time, he approached Allan as if he was about to punch him. Allan held a finger over his wristband threateningly. It kept Rune at bay.

“You can’t just tell us that and then leave. We need to do something to save Earth. Have some compassion,” Andrew urged Allan, “At least, take us there. Maybe we can talk them out of it.”

“I highly doubt that. These aliens, the Riptari, gain too much from this invasion. They hope to join the intergalactic alliance by conquering Earth.”

“Why Earth?” I asked before I could stop myself.

“It is a resource rich planet that is labeled as a fairly easy push over. They planned this for some time.”

“And you didn’t tell us sooner?”

“Because I didn’t know sooner. I would not wait this long to leave the planet myself had I known this would happen.”

“Please,” Andrew put his hand on Allan’s shoulder, “Please help us. Earth may not be my planet, but I care about the planet and care for some of the people on it.”

A blush flared on my cheeks, which I shoved down with a passion. He said people, not person, when did I get such a big head as to assume it was about me? For all I know, he’s in love with Samantha.

“I can’t.”

Rune growled, a purple flame forming in his hand, “Then I’ll have to make you.”

“No, I mean, I literally can’t. Their base of operations is on the dark side of the moon. This ship is stuck in orbit. I can’t get it to go anywhere.”

“This is your ship, isn’t it?”

“Of course, it is my ship. However, it is powered by complex, subroutine algorithms that protect the main controls of the ship from outside influence. In an unfortunate twist, those algorithms became corrupted.”

I thought about it for a second, “So what you’re saying is, you forgot the password?”

Allan grimaced, “After only three tries, it does a system-wide lock. I’d need to contact the dealer to get a master encryption to unlock it, but with the invasion, they are jamming my signal.”

Rune’s fire went out as he put his face in his palms. Andrew turned away, shaking his head. So that was it? At best, we could sit up here and wait for the planet to be destroyed? At worst, we could be down there as the planet is invaded and be part of the invasion? Were those the choices we had?

Allan shook his head, “If I just had some advanced machinery, I could hard wire and bypass the routine and regain control of the ship. I’d need an extremely complex OS, an AI level adaptable sub-hardware routine.”

I tried to process the words he was saying once again, “What? You mean, like a robot?”

Allan pushed his glasses back up his nose, “Well, more like an android, but nothing like that exists on your planet.”

I pinched my nose. Why was my life just a series of unfortunate occurrences?

I turned to Allan, looking him directly in those big doe eyes of his behind spectacles. “If I can get you a robot, and we can get the ship back running, will you help me stop this alien invasion?”

Allan rose an eyebrow, “If you know of a robot, then we have an agreement.”

“What are you talking about, Jane?” Rune finally spoke up.

“Can we get out of this room first?” I asked, “We need to start making some plans.”

Allan touched a small button on his wrist control and a door seemed to appear out of nowhere. Our small group was led out of the small room into an even smaller corridor.

“I have to say, I expected everything to be a lot bigger,” Rune muttered as he crouched down a narrow pathway.

“Ships are not made for convenience. They are a utility. You don’t walk around comfortably in a minivan, do you?” Allan responded.

“That reminds me of something I wanted to ask,” Andrew said.

“Do you have to?” Allan responded.

Andrew ignored him, “You’re supposed to be some kind of alien, right? Well, you appear human.”

“That is a statement, not a question,” Alan said, moving into a room that looked a bit like a cockpit. It had five different seats but didn’t offer a terrible amount of space.

My breath caught at the glass windows in front. I could see Earth hovering under us, a sky absolutely bursting with stars. It was an absolutely beautiful sight. I couldn’t take my eyes away.

“Why do you look like a human?” Andrew finished.

“I don’t look human. I appear like my own species. You see, all sentient intelligent alien beings take on a form that roughly looks like you humans. Some have ridges here, or pointy ears, or green skin. However, every species more or less looks human.”

“Sounds ridiculously convenient.”

“It is.”

“Is this some kind of cosmic destiny thing?” Andrew asked, genuinely interested.

“It’s more an observation. The observation suggests that in order for a species to develop a culture in such a way as to become sentient and space faring, they must possess three attributes. They must have opposable thumbs, they must stand on their hind legs, and they must possess brains fed by a cardiovascular system that utilizes oxygen. It is not made clear why these things must exist, but it has become known as the Law of Star Transient Relocation Elementary Kinetics. Or the Law of Star Trek for short.”

“The Law of Star Trek?” I burst in. That law does seem convenient on more than one level.

“Yes.”

“What about you?” Rune broke into the conversation, “You don’t seem to have any strange features.”

“My species have large deep doe eyes. I wear these glasses to reduce their effect on native women.”

“What are you even talking about? Your eyes are normal.” Rune laughed.

Allan pulled off his glasses. Instantly, the space outside seemed a lot less interesting to me. His eyes were so deep and dark and cute. How did I never notice how attractive he was? I wanted to examine those eyes all day long. They were so thoughtful, so emotional, and so powerful. I giggled.

Allan put his glasses back on. I blinked, looking around. Andrew and Rune seemed to be holding me back from something. Both boys looked concerned as they pulled their hands away from me. I straightened myself out. What was I just doing now?

“You’ll probably want these back,” Allan said straightly, tossing a piece of clothing to me.

I snatched the clothing out of the air and looked it over, my mouth going slack and my face becoming mortified as I realized what it was.

“This is my underwear.”

“Yes.”

“Why were you holding my panties?”

“You tossed them at me,” Allan explained; Andrew and Rune gave slight nods to confirm it was the truth.

“My pants are on, how did I even get the underwear off?”

The boys all looked at each other, but it was Rune who spoke first, “We’re all kind of wondering the same thing. We saw it happen and don’t even understand it. You sort of just reached in there and… pulled them out.”

I was mortified, but I had to put on a stronger show, couldn’t let these boys seem me weak right now, “Never take your glasses off, Allan, ever again.”

Allan nodded, even he seemed a little startled at whatever I had missed a few moments past.

“So,” I decided it was time to change the subject, “You say all aliens are very similar to each other. Can we use this to infiltrate their base?”

“First, I would like to get my ship working. Where is this robot of yours?”

“Well, he’s not my robot, he just happens to be a robot. Do you know Ryan, he’s in the A/V club?”

“I have heard of him. Despite the fact you only gave me his first name, there is only one Ryan in the entire school.”

“How convenient.”

“It is. Fortunately, the transporting for this ship is not locked out, being part of a secondary routine. Another convenience.”

Allan typed a few buttons on his controller, “I have now teleported him to the ship. Can you return to the teleportation room and bring him here? I will begin overriding the system. I will need your help, Rune, and Andrew if you will?”

The two boys nodded, and I found myself crawling back down the tight spaced hallway to the back of the ship. Of course, it would have to be me who dealt with the robot. I felt a little guilty about it. I promised the guy that I’d leave him alone, and now I was dragging him into my crazy life. He was probably completely freaking out right now.

I entered the teleportation room. The door had been left open and for a second I feared Ryan might have wondered off into some random part of the ship. My fears were elated when I saw he was standing in the middle of the teleportation pad. It looked like he hadn’t moved an inch since he had been teleported. He still had those headphones sticking out of his ears and hanging loosely down his body as well.

“Ryan, I’m sorry, I know I promised that we’d pretend our meeting didn’t happen, but some things came up since then.”

Ryan turned his head to look at me, “It is alright. Humans often make promises with me they do not keep.”

I frowned at the way he said that, but when he turned back to looking straight ahead of himself, I shook myself out of it.

“This is a spaceship in orbit around space. Are you familiar with these at all?”

“No, mistress never showed me anything like a spacecraft before.”

“Mistress? So you have some kind of master?”

“Yes,” Ryan turned back to me and nodded enthusiastically, “Mistress is the one who created me.”

“I’m sorry; I didn’t take you away from your mistress, did I?”

Ryan shook his head, “No, mistress has not engaged with me in some time.”

“How long since you last engaged with your mistress?” I asked before I could stop myself.

“Two years, three months, twelve days, seven hours, forty-five minutes, twenty-three seconds since mistress has last given me an order.”

“Two years?” I asked in surprise, “What have you been doing for two years?”

“I have followed my base protocol. Stay low, and continue to execute routine maintenance for peak efficiency.”

“Where does school come in?”

“In this body, I would look stranger away from school. As a student, I can remain inconspicuous and volunteering for the A/V club lets me have access to leftover cables and broken devices I can scavenge for repairs. I will continue to follow my commands until mistress returns.”

“You seem shockingly open about this. Wouldn’t staying low mean you shouldn’t be telling me this?”

“I am programmed to follow any command my mistress gives until she countermands it. One of my last orders was to follow the instructions of any person who gave them to me.”

“That seems like an odd order to give…”

“Not at all. Mistress took great pleasure in giving me to others and allowing them to order me.”

“That sounds very ominous.”

“Ma’am, was there a question associated with that?”

I sighed, I really didn’t have time to get into android politics. The world was about to end.

“If I ordered you to repair this ship, would you help me do it?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

I went to make the order, but something about what he had said unnerved me. His mistress had ordered him to stay put and so he had for two years without question. She told him to do whatever anyone asked. Some of Ryan’s reputation at the school came back to me. He was considered a complete teacher’s pet. Also, a handful of girls frequently used him as the carrier boy. It was always assumed he had a crush on one of the girls, but I was beginning to think they were just using him. They were using him like everyone else was using him. He was a thing to them. Something about that didn’t sit well with me.

“I order you to do what you want to do.” The words came out of my mouth.

“Ma’am? I do not understand the order.”

The thought that this was the right thing to do grew firmer in my mind.

“Think about what you want to do. I want you to do that. I’d like you to help me repair the ship, but only if you want to help. I’m not going to order you.”

“No one has ever given me an order like that before.”

“Well, what do you want to do?”

Ryan cocked his head for a second, seeming in thought, and then gave a nod, “I’d like to go home, and wait for my mistress to return.”

I frowned; that wasn’t the answer I was hoping for.

“Can you please help me fix the ship?”

Ryan shook his head, “No, If my order is to do what I want, I would like to continue to wait for my mistress. Can you please return me?”

I grimaced. I had done this to myself.

Ryan frowned as he looked at the expressions on my face, “You are welcome to recall the order, and then order me to fix the ship.”

I grimaced even more. This was wrong. Too much of this was wrong. A boy should not be that much of a complete walk-over. He should have spirit. He should have confidence. He should be as caring and as determined as Andrew, or as fiery and as spirited as Rune. He could be as loyal and steadfast as Daniel, and perhaps even a little sensuality from Alex wouldn’t go amiss. He should be fun and playful like Victor, smart and clever like Allan. He should be kind like… I stopped, realizing what I was doing. That wasn’t fair. Not to me, not to Ryan, and not to any of the other boys in my life.

I took a deep breath, and started again, “Ryan, in forty-eight hours, a race of aliens will attack Earth. Do you know what that means?”

Ryan cocked his head again before responding, “It means the Earth is in danger of destruction.”

“How do you think your mistress will feel if the Earth is destroyed?”

“Mistress’ plans would be foiled. She would be very upset.”

That wasn’t exactly what I was looking for as an answer, but at this point, I took it.

“If I can repair this ship, there is a chance we can stop this invasion from occurring. Will you help me?”

Ryan thought about it for a second, cocking his head in a strange manner once again.

“I will help you fix this ship,” Ryan finally answered, putting a smile on his face; it seemed almost genuine, “By choice.”

I smiled back at Ryan, offering him my hand. He grabbed it and I led him back up to the cockpit of the ship. As the pair of us walked into the room, I noticed the three boys were staring at something laid out on one of the consoles. I let go of Ryan’s hand as the three turned to us.

“Well, Jane,” Allan pushed his glasses back into place over his nose, “While you were gone, we worked out a plan to save your planet. It’s risky and a bit of a longshot, but I think it just might work.”

Rune gave me a grin, “Jane, how do you feel about wearing dresses?”

I looked back at the three boys, all of them watching me with curious looks.

“I’m fine in a dress,” I answered back, patting the pocket with my underwear in it, “As long as the underwear stays on.”

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Hawtness – Volume 2 – Chapter 1

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Idol Hearts

“IDOL HEARTS, AND IDOL DREAMS. THE DARKNESS OUTSIDE, AND LIGHT BETWEEN.” The words blasted as Demetrius began to next part of the song.

“Oh my God, Isn’t Demetrius the best!” Samantha shouted, jumping up and down and screaming.

Demetrius was dancing on stage. He wore black leather chaps and a black vest with nothing under it. This bared most of his chest and abs for his audience to see. His well-oiled body glimmered in the stage light and his ear piercing shined. Behind him a fire erupted as he jumped towards the crowd, gyrating his hips.

“AND IT’S ALL FOR YOU.”

The chorus of screaming teenage girls reached an all-time high. I covered my years, certain that the noise insured I’d need a hearing aid by the age of forty. Samantha noticed me covering my ears and jabbed me in the side.

“Lighten up!” She yelled, “You should be glad you’re out of the house.”

“I am, I don’t know how you talked my mom into ending my grounding day early!”

“Well, I’m special,” Samantha grinned at me, “Just stop playing naked twister with your brother. Or if you do, don’t get caught.”

“He’s my half-brother, and he’s adopted. Why am I even defending myself, it’s not what it looks like!”

Samantha shrugged, “I’m just saying, I knew you were kinky with some of the fan fiction you buy off me, but I didn’t think you were about family fun.”

“This coming from the girl whose first kiss came from her cousin.”

Samantha stuck her tongue out at me, “Well, my pet beagle wasn’t in the mood.”

The two of us giggled; that helped my mood a little bit. This last week had been a nightmare. The uncomfortable atmosphere that transpired after I had gotten some clothes on was unbearable. My mom had given me an uncomfortable talk about how when she was a girl, she had urges to experiment too. Alex got a little bit of the berating too, for failing to be the big sister and letting it happen. Between the three of us, we were able to explain an assortment of accidents that led to the event happening. I still ended up grounded for a week.

After mom grounded me, Tomodalton had moved into the last empty guest room in our oversized house. I had Alex to relay messages for me. One by one, all of the boys in my life went to check on me at the house. While my mom intercepted each of them, she had quite a bit of fun having long conversations with each and every one of them in excess. Alex wouldn’t tell me what was said while I was stuck up in my room, but the words “chastity of my daughter” were used a lot. Alex assured me she vouched for me in these circumstances, but I wondered how good her word was at this point.

“LET MY DARKNESS CONSUME YOU.”

“You know, Alex loves Demetrius. He’ll be so jealous we went without him.” I spoke before I was able to stop myself.

“Alex, the hawtness boy is in love with a boy popstar? He did always seem a little fruity. He being gay makes so much sense.”

I frowned, deciding not to correct her assumption. It was better this way.

“LET YOUR LIGHT CONSUME…. ME!”

The song ended to more shrill cries of adoring fans. Demetrians were what the fan-girls called themselves.

I leaned towards my friend. “Samantha, you’re drooling,”

She wiped her chin, giving me a ‘but out while I’m having my fun’ gaze, causing me to chuckle. The fan-girls were more entertaining than the concert. I heard one girl encapsulating a group of teens. She had a Kleenex that she swore Demetrius had wiped his sweat off on. I shivered at the idea. I wondered how much his used jockstrap would go for. On that note, Samantha had propositioned me to acquire certain personal items from my h club friends not too long ago. I refused her, of course, but the implications of her request were now starting to dawn on me.

“Hello my sweet little minions. It’s been great playing in my hometown.”

That was Demetrius talking up on the stage. He liked to call girls is little minions. His whole stick was a cross between an emo and a pop singer. He wore dark clothing, and slick black gelled hair, and had tan-less white skin. He even wore fangs some times. Most of his songs were about darkness and love. He had pulled off his vest now and was dangling it over stage. Several girls seemed prime to have him throw it out into the audience. I hoped he had the decency not to, it was likely to cause a riot.

Samantha slapped my chest several times with the back of her hand as she stared up at the stage with an appearance of awe on her face.

“What is it?” I hissed.

“It’s starting; he’s going to do it, he’s going to do it!” She was still hitting me with her hand, but I think she had forgotten it was even there.

“So what?” I snapped, grabbing her hand.

“He’ll pick a girl from the audience and she gets the royal treatment in his changing room.”

“That sounds a little pedo to me, everyone here’s a teenager.”

“He’s only seventeen himself, besides, Demetrius would never force himself on a girl!” Samantha seemed to have a little anger in her voice that I would even imply that.

“Tonight! One lucky girl will have the chance to go back stage with one of her friends and meet me personally!”

Another shrill cry of teenage girls. I’d need that hearing aid by the time I was thirty now.

“And the lucky winner by completely random drawing is…. Jane Averygail.”

There was a collective sigh as people cried out in sorrow at not having been selected. Samantha started screaming and bouncing, her hands on both of my shoulders.

“This is Jane, this is Jane. We’re coming, don’t forget us!”

This wasn’t fair. I tried to be a good daughter. I tried to treat people like they wanted to be treated. I always ate my vegetables. Why was it always me? Wait, was that why Samantha invited me to this in the first place? She realized that I always end up with the guy and so she brought me along? That evil woman. Still, I’d be late if I went backstage. Mom told me to head home as soon as the concert let out.

“Samantha, I don’t think this is a good idea.”

Samantha spun me around, pure malevolence in her eyes, “You don’t screw this up for me, Bitch, I will cut you.”

“Samantha? You’re hurting my shoulders a little, Samantha. Samantha?”

The look on Samantha’s face looked feverish. I did have some dangerous friends, and I wasn’t talking about the werewolf or the demons.

“Alright, we’ll go!” I threw up my hands.

Samantha laughed, turning me back and pushing me forward like a shield through the crowds of angry teenagers who wished they had been picked. At any moment, I was expecting to get shived. Relax, Jane, this is a pop concert, not a prison.

Samantha pulled me into a side hallway and led me down the path leading to the backstage and an intimidating security guard. As the two of us approached him, he looked me up and down.

“Are you the Jane girl?” he asked in a deep voice.

“Yes, she is,” Samantha answered, “and I’m her plus one!”

The guard sneered, “Yeah, he’s been waiting for you.”

There was something very ominous about the way he said those words, but with Samantha next to me bubbling with excitement, I decided to not say any more. The result might be her punishing me in ways I might regret. I didn’t know what kind of tortures my friend could devise, but based on some of the fan fictions she has written of late, I’m sure it’d be both painful and would prevent us from ever being able to look each other in the eyes again.

The guard moved aside, and once again Samantha was dragging me into the next room. It was a large area with a table full of a broad assortment of untouched food and several couches as well as a big screen TV. The room seemed to be decorated with Demetrius in mind. Dark swaths of fabric and several antique candles on stands were laid out across the room. I figured it was supposed to be gothic and edgy.

The door opened from the other end, and Demetrius walked in from the stage. He didn’t have his vest with him. I suppose some lucky girl was walking home with it. He had a towel on and was wiping the sweat from his face. As he walked closer to me, Samantha grabbed my shoulder as if she was having a heart attack. That wasn’t the part that worried me. What did worry me was the growing sense of similarity emanating from this man. I had met him before, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

“Well hello, Jane, its great having a chance to meet you like this. I’m glad you chose to come to the concert. Did you enjoy it?”

Before I responded, Samantha pushed in front of me, moving up to the familiar pop star, “Mr. Demetrius, I have to say I am like your biggest fan. The biggest fan ever. I love you. I’m in love with you. Are you single? Do you have any naughty piercings? Can you read my fan fiction about you? No, of course you don’t want to read that. Can you sign my breasts? I suppose that’s inappropriate. How about my butt? I’m not asking that because I want to show you anything inapprop-”

Demetrius smiled throughout her entire barrage before lifting one finger and putting it over her lips. Samantha stopped, letting out a small whimper. Demetrius leaned forward, placing a gentle kiss on her forehead. Samantha’s jaw went slack and she started letting out an elongated moan. He backed away, eyeballing her for a second before turning to look at me.

The familiarity got to me, “I recognize you from somewhere, don’t I?”

“Yes, but your friend appears to be foaming at the mouth.”

“Forget her, she’ll get over it. Who are you?”

Samantha’s eyes rolled back into her head and she fell back, collapsing onto the ground with a solid thud.

“Oh my god! Your friend just passed out unconscious.”

“She does that, ignore her. Why are you so familiar to me?”

The unintended scrutiny from me seemed to unnerve the pop star a bit, he gave a nervous smile and put a hand up to his hair, slicking it back. The way he looked when he did it, doubtful and unsure of himself, stirred my memory even more. I recognized that face. It was the face of a man far less muscular and well-oiled who lived in a dark room and wanted to die.

“Victor!”

The boy broke out into a giant smile, “I knew I couldn’t pull one on you!”

“Oh my God, Victor, you’re a teen popstar?”

Victor laughed, twirling around in front of me, “It looks good on me, doesn’t it? I know, a little too bright and upbeat, but I try to keep it dark and vampire-like. Can’t forget my roots now, can I?”

“Oh wow! I never realized you’d accomplish so much!”

“Oh, well, with 50 years of prep time, I started going to the gym. A night gym of course. Gained some muscle mass, started doing the beauty treatment. Wandered around for a while as a vagrant. Learned to use a variety of instruments, after that I joined KISS for a while.

“KISS?”

“Yeah, the heavy metal band that wears all the makeup. Did that for a while, but they got a little too extreme. Scared me away from them.”

“KISS was too extreme for an immortal vampire?”

“Well, they wanted me to bite the head off a chicken.” Victor shook his head in disgust. “Now, I may be an immortal blood sucking monster, but murdering a defenseless chicken for entertainment is too far.”

“Sounds like you have a good sense of morality.”

“Exactly. I was like, now I’ll eat a rat or a small puppy just like the next guy. A vampire needs to eat after all…”

“Okay, now you’re oversharing.”

“But I’m not going to suck a used tampon on stage.”

“Yeah, definitely oversharing.”

“Well, anyway, I went low for a while after I ditched them. Eventually, the boy bands started to hit the scene. I popped out a few hit singles and here I am!”

I was in the middle of a nod when an idea occurred to me, “Your first hit single was ‘Jane’s Dilemma’?”

That stopped Demetrius’ barrage of words in its tracks. He gave me a slow nod.

“And that song is based on everything I told you?”

Demetrius hesitated a second before nodding once again.

“And in the end of that song, Jane gets with you…”

Demetrius did not respond this time, giving me a blank look.

“Why?”

Demetrius let out a long, drawn breath before answering, “Jane, in the last fifty years, I’ve done a lot of things. I’ve been with a lot of women. However, always in the back of my heart, I felt unsatisfied. I felt incomplete. I felt like half of a vampire. Do you want to know why that is, Jane?”

“Not really.”

“It’s you, Jane.”

“You did drugs in the 70s, didn’t you?”

“I’m serious, Jane. No matter who I was with, no matter what I tried, I always missed you. You filled a hole in my heart when you visited me those fifty years ago. When that time traveler of yours took you away, I was lost. However, I waited. I waited years to be with you. I’ve waited all the way up to now.”

“Why don’t I like the way this is sounding?”

“Jane, in my current identity, I am only a seventeen year old boy. I’ve talked with my manager and I will be transferring to your school effective immediately. I’ve even talked your club advisor into letting me join the H club of yours.”

“Mr. Xavier let you join the H club?” I grimaced.

“Let me? Not a bit. He even tried to do a partial possession of me to force me to leave. Ghosts.” Victor chuckled. “They act like they can walk over anyone, but you’d have to be an idiot, practically braindead for a ghost to take you over.”

“Suddenly, why he possessed Alex makes so much sense.”

“What was that?”

“Oh, nothing,” I redirected before sighing, “Victor, we barely know each other.”

“That’s the thing, Jane, I know everything about you. I’ve checked up on you your entire life. I even met your mom for a brief period.”

“Victor,” I pinched my nose, fearing the next question, “Please, tell me you didn’t sleep with my mother.”

The vampire froze for a second before speaking, “Yeah, I can say I didn’t sleep with your mom.”

“Victor, why did you emphasize it when you said ‘sleep’?”

“No reason.”

“Victor!”

“Okay, we were drunk!”

“No, Victor!”

“I assure you, we didn’t get past second base. Besides, that was like six years before you were even conceived. It isn’t cheating if you don’t exist yet. I haven’t slept with anyone, your mother included, since you have been born. I swear it.”

“You promise?”

“I promise, Jane.”

Why did I even care if he promised? I wasn’t going to go out with him. This was just all kinds of messed up. It was the final straw. I was done. No more boys would enter my life, supernatural or otherwise. I would take the eight I had already acquired and cut my losses. This was it; I was done.

“Is… you’re friend going to be okay?”

I looked down at Samantha. She was still unconscious, although her eyelids were still open. Her eyes were rolled so far up that all I could see were the whites.

“She’ll be fine; it looks like she is still breathing.

“This kind of thing happen often?”

“A few years back I took her to a Bieber concert. She tried to force herself past a security guard twice her size to get to him. Ended up being beaten down by a three hundred pound former wrestler until I convinced him that she was a thirteen year old girl and it wouldn’t look good on the news.”

“Wow.” Victor shook his head in amazement. “Hey, do you want to draw stuff all over her body with a magic marker?”

I smirked, “I would love to.”

****

“I want in.” Samantha demanded as she stormed into the art room like a whirlwind.

“You want in what?” I asked, deciding it was my duty amongst the group of boys to answer my friend.

“I want into the Helping Club.”

“The… helping club?” I asked in confusion.

Mr. Xavier coughed, “I thought it was a more appropriate name for the H club than the one you had previously chosen.”

Most of the other boys looked confused, but Rune snickered to himself.

“Either way,” the teacher continued, “The H club is at full capacity. I’ll tell you what I told another boy, Allan, this morning… you cannot join this club right now. Maybe next year.”

“But you let Demetrius join!” Samantha pouted.

“Demetrius,” Mr. Xavier grimaced, “Was an extenuating circumstance. But given all his other pop star duties he hasn’t even had time to come to a single meeting, so it is like he isn’t even in the club to begin with.”

Samantha turned to me, offering a puppy-dog eyes that rivaled Daniels, “Jane, talk some sense into them. You owe me after you ran off with Demetrius and let those random strangers write all of that stuff all over me.”

I nodded with a straight face, “Yup, I did that, I apologize for letting those random strangers mark you up. I came back in time and was able to chase them away and protect my friend.”

“You did, and that’s why you’re such a great friend, but come on. Throw me a bone here. I mean, what does this club even do? Have you even helped anyone yet? I swear all you do is wander off into the forest at night and… and…” Samantha’s eyes lit up, “Are you guys some crazy sex cult? Do you guys have sex orgies in the woods?

“No!” Andrew shouted at the same time Alex said, “If only.”

“Although,” Samantha seemed to speak aloud to herself, “That does give me an idea.”

Samantha typed something into her phone before turning back to us. My phone buzzed and I pulled it out. There was a new tweet. ‘New fanfic will be released tonight. Stay tuned. It’s a hot one!’ I rolled my eyes, putting the phone away and becoming a little more wary of the eager look in Samantha’s eyes.

“I’m sorry, Samantha,” I spoke up before anyone else thought to. “I’d help you if I could, it’s just the rules are the rules.”

Samantha sighed, turning her head down in a look of defeat, “It’s a shame too. Your group has such a massive guy to girl ratio. I figured this would help even them out.”

“Wait,” Mr. Xavier stopped her as she moved out the door, “What was that about?”

A little smirk appeared at the corner of Samantha’s mouth, “Oh, it’s just that right now, you have what, eight guys and one girl? I assume Tomodalton’s in the club even though he’s too shy to show up at a group meeting. With another girl here, the boy’s attentions might not be so focused on one girl. Do the math.”

That little snake! I fought the urge to growl at her. So this was how she was going to play the game? Well, Mr. Xavier wouldn’t fall for such a silly little trick!

“Deal!” Mr. Xavier nodded, “You’re in!”

“What?” I spoke up at the same time as seven other voices.

“I am the club advisor; I make the decisions, and I say she’s in!”

“I don’t think it’s really a big deal if another girl joins,” Daniel spoke up.

“Yeah, I bet it’ll be fun to have another girl here,” Alex winked at Samantha.

Samantha brightened up, “Yeah, I’d love to go shopping with someone gay! I’ve never had a homosexual friend before.”

“I… what?” Alex’s eyes widened, a confused expression on his face. Rune ended up spitting up his drink, laughing.

Samantha put on a worried look, “Oh, you’re not gay?”

Alex pouted, “I’m bisexual.”

Samantha froze muttering something under her breath I could barely make out, “God that is so hot.”

“Samantha, you’re drooling,” I told her.

“Huh? What? Yeah…” Samantha wiped her mouth.

“Okay!” Mr. Xavier intervened, “I believe this has been a productive meeting. Let’s adjourn for the day. I’m chocked full of so many papers to correct. Who knew being a teacher involved this much work?”

The group got up and started filing out. I picked up my fur purse and books and headed out with everyone else.

“You heading home?” Alex asked me.

“No, I think I’m going to stay here a bit. Mom’s going to take Samantha and I to the mall once she lets out of ballet practice.”

“Yeah, I have to stay later too. Andrew asked me for some help moving some stuff. I guess he was suckered into volunteering to help with some class rep stuff.”

I looked back at Andrew, who seemed to be chatting with Stephan and Rune. Stephan seemed normal enough, anyone would get along with him. However, Rune sticking around to chat, even if he looked angry about it, was surprising to me. Maybe the two didn’t hate each other as much as they pretended to.

“Andrew asked a demon for help?”

Alex gave his atypical throaty laugh, “He said he trusted me, after everything we’ve been through. I can’t let him down now, can I?”

“No, definitely not.” I smiled back, giving Alex a tight hug before we parted.

Of course, I wasn’t planning on just wondering around the school until Samantha let out per say. I was there on a mission. In the past, I would head down to the park in order to find some space and seclusion. However, that hadn’t been working for me. It seemed like every time I went to the park, I ended up with another boy in my life. If I could find a safe, secluded space in school, on the other hand, I wouldn’t have to suffer any more strange encounters.

I was halfway down the hall when a pair of hands reached out and grabbed, yanking me into a classroom. The door shut behind me and I turned to find myself facing the boy called Allan. He had very pale brown hair, a set of glasses over a petite nose and big doe eyes. The girls always talked about him as an intellectual. Unlike Andrew though, few worked up the nerve to talk to him. He could often be found reading in the school library. He had tried to ask me out once, and now I knew he had asked to join the H club too.

“Hello, Jane, I am sorry to pull you in here so rudely, I decided it was pertinent that I spoke to you immediately.”

“Um… hello, Allan, I’m kind of busy right now.”

“I suppose there is no use in trying to sugar coat this. I have a secret that I must inform you of.”

“Please don’t.”

“You see, I do not come from this world.”

“Lalalalala, I can’t hear you.” I stuck my fingers in my ears for good measure, “Share your secrets with some other girl.”

“I assure you, I have analyzed every being within this school, and I am 99.72% sure that you are the appropriate person to hear-”

“That you’re gay? That’s fine! Samantha’s always wanted a gay friend.”

“I assure you, I am not of a homosexual persuasion, as a matter of fact, people from my planet reproduce-”

Did he say people from his planet? No! Don’t listen. It’s a trap. It’s a god-damn General Ackbar trap! Run Jane! Run before it’s too late.

“You see? I am what you would call an alien.”

I backed away, opening the door behind me, “An illegal immigrant? Well I’m okay with the Mexicans, got to go, bye!”

Allan pushed back his glasses on his nose, “Absolutely ridiculous.”

I turned and ran. No, no more guys. No more secrets. I’m not going to let this happen. Not now, not ever.

“Jane, stop!” The voice came from behind me.

“No, stop sharing your secrets with me!” I snapped and ran.

Who the hell did they think I was? Supernatural Oprah? Stop confessing to me! I glanced back to see if he was chasing me. As I turned back, I rammed full force into someone and found myself rolling down a stairway. Bodies and limbs wrapped around me as the pair of us rolled down a flight of stairs.

“Jane, are you okay?” Stephan spoke from under me.

“Yeah, I’m actually fine, not a bruise on me. Sorry, can’t talk, I’m in a hurry.”

I reached down, feeling for my purse. My fingers wrapped around a furry strap so grabbed it and yanked. It seemed to be under Stephan, so I gave it an extra yank to free it from under him.

“Sorry,” I shouted back as I ran, “I’m in a hurry to get somewhere.”

I turned a corner and continued running. I planned to be hiding in a locked room and out of Allan’s sight for the rest of the day. If I avoided him until mom came, maybe there was some kind of cooling off period and he’d decide not to tell me anything.

“Jane, you seem distressed.” Stephan’s voice came from beside me.

“I’m fine, Stephan, stop following me.” I turned to my side and realized he wasn’t there.

Checking my other side, I still didn’t see him. Stephan had been right next to me, hadn’t he?

“Well, you see, I don’t really have a choice in the matter.” He explained, sounding a little shaken.

The voice was coming lower down my side. I looked down to see my hand gripping a large chunk of hair. At the base was Stephan’s severed head, bouncing back and forth with each step.

“Oh my god!” I shouted, bringing his head up into both of my hands, “Why do I have your head?”

“It would appear,” Stephan suggested, “that the fall loosened my head up a bit and you yanked it off thinking you had your purse. If you would be so kind, would you return my head to my body?”

I considered heading back to the bottom of the stairs, but that was too close to where Allan was. If I headed there, he would be there. I would end up finding out his secret. I couldn’t let that happen to me. A plan worked itself out in front of me as I turned another corner. A glimpse out a nearby window revealed Andrew, Rune, and Alex all walking through the courtyard. Rune appeared to be the only one not carrying a box.

I ran up to an open window. “Hey, Rune, think fast!”

I chucked Stephan’s head down from the window. Rune did not think as fast as I had hoped. For a supernatural Demon, he did not have good reflexes. He lifted his arms a second too late, and Stephan’s severed head ended up smashing head first into Runes. Both boy’s collapsed to the ground.

“You guys got this!” I shouted to Andrew and Alex, who had dumbfounded looks on their faces.

I turned and ran. They’d be fine. Now it was just a matter of locking myself into a room and hiding until mom came to pick me up. Good plan, Jane, good plan. I ran up to the Janitor’s closet and swung open the door, shutting it closed behind me. I leaned back on it, taking deep breaths. It was over. I was safe. No attractive supernatural boys in-

I opened up my eyes. A boy was sitting in the middle of the janitor’s closet staring at me. His shirt was pulled up to his neck, and he had a series of cables and cords running out of his chest. Circuits flashed and blinked across the board that connected his chest. He was a very attractive boy. I recognized him; he was a freshman named Ryan, one of Samantha’s hawtness.

Ryan had brown hair that he always wore over his eyes. He wore sweatshirts and always had an mp3 player plugged in his ears when a teacher wasn’t yelling at him to take it out. The boy was supposed to be smart, although not as much of a bookworm as Allan. He also was cold as ice, turning down every girl who tried to ask him out. They said he never got scared or angry either. I was now suspecting I knew why.

My hopes, my dreams, and my life came crashing down around me. I slumped down to my knees. I tried… I tried so hard.

Ryan spoke up, “I suppose it would be appropriate if I gave you an explanation.”

“You really don’t have to.”

“You see, I am a ro-”

“Um… roleplaying. Your roleplaying and this is all some top notch costume design.”

“I apologize, is this an attempt at what you human’s call humor?”

“No, not really. Just the dying hope of a girl who gave it her all.”

“You are Jane Averygail, are you not?”

“Yeah,” I whimpered, “I’m Jane ‘freaking luck sucks’ Averygail.”

“May I shorten Jane ‘freaking luck sucks’ Averygail to Jane?”

“Be my freaking guest.”

“It appears you caught me performing my routine repairs. I had picked this spot because I had assumed it would be secluded and that no one would find me.”

“That’s why I picked this spot too.”

“So I am hearing that you want anonymity, is this correct?”

“You could say that.”

“Very well, I recommend that we part ways and feign that our meeting proved innocuous.”

“What?”

“Let’s pretend this never happened.”

“Really?” I began to perk up.

“I think it wise if we do not speak to each other anymore, either. If we can part ways now, it will make the situation more acceptable.”

“Yeah, that sound great.”

“Then it is agreed,” Ryan nodded, “You may leave when you are comfortable.”

I nodded with a dumfounded expression on my face, leaving the room as soon as I recovered and turning down the hall. I was halfway back to the art room before I remembered why I had run away in the first place. Rune and Andrew were walking towards me with concerned looks on their faces.

“What is going on?” Rune asked, he seemed to have a bruise on his forehead now.

“Alex is reattaching Stephan’s head right now, but what the heck is going on with you? Stephan said you were panicked?” Andrew added.

“It’s just… Allan, and then…”

Both faces went dark at the same time, “What did this Allan person try to do?”

“I tried to show her something,” an arrogant voice came from around the corner.

Allan took a step out, and all of my hopes went with him. Andrew and Rune took a look at each other, then as a single unit advanced on Allan. I ran forward, trying to block them from attacking him. Allan didn’t do anything wrong. Why did these guys have to take it the wrong way?

Rune reached over and grabbed Allan’s shirt, but I wouldn’t let him get any closer. With some difficulty, I managed to keep Andrew at bay as well.

“What did you try to show her, your penis?” Rune demanded.

Allan scuffed, pushing his glasses back into place, “Ridiculous. I don’t have time for this. It’s better if I showed you.”

Allan pulled out a small device, tapping a few keys. I turned my head. No, this wasn’t happening. Today I was just going to go home, hang out with Samantha a little bit, no adventures of any kind. A white light appeared in a circle at our feet. The hallway around the four of us darkened to an impenetrable black.

“What in the world?” Andrew asked.

Andrew’s features started stretching up towards the sky. Runes did the same. Then my body started to stretch as I let out a scream. Oh great, here we go again. God damn it.

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My Review of Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou

So, a few people asked me what my opinion on Arifureta actually was after finishing the main story, especially considering I do so many pseudo-reviews in my list of another world novels. I wanted to give Arifureta a little more justice than the other web novels I’ve talked about, so I guess you can call this my official review on Arifureta. Although to be honest, with the LN being taken over by J Novel, technically Arifureta no longer meets my criteria as a “free to read” another world novels. Although people used to the nefarious copy/paste sites are probably aware they can still read the whole thing even though Japtem has dragged it down by all those horrible people that previously lifted it from their site.

Anyway, I tend to get pretty critical when I’m critiquing something critically, so before anyone jumps in outrage at my OPINION on Arifureta, let’s keep my ->Opinion<- in the appropriate context that I enjoyed this novel enough that when I reached a point that I couldn’t finish it, I spend the last year translating the damn thing. You have to assume, at some point, I probably genuinely like this web novel, so I just wanted to stress that first.

So, here we go. When I started reading Arifureta, I was actually fairly new to the whole web novel circuit. I had only been doing it for a few months before I picked up and eventually started translating Arifureta. Since then, it’s been a year, and a couple dozen some web novels later you could argue that my tastes have refined a bit from then.

Now, when it comes to Arifureta, there are many camps of people. You have the Revenge Lovers, people who love seeing assholes get their comeuppance. Every bad guy is an insufferable arseshat, and the sooner the MC brutalizes them, the better. You have the Skill Enthusiasts, those that like seeing a steady stream of skills being steadily accumulated on an increasingly OP’d protagonist. And then you have the Harem Kings, always wanting girl after girl after girl falling all over the protagonist.

This hits a lot of readers hard, because the story seems built with two phases. The beginning starts with a clear skill building and revenge phase, but that only lasts about 2 volumes… then what you’re left with is a considerably longer less revenge based harem fantasy played out in the remaining volumes. That said, I went into Arifureta looking for an experience similar to Rise of the Shield Hero. That is to say that I wanted harem. I wanted an OP protagonist. And I wanted skill building. And I think both stories have a similar thing… in that the revenge element seems to dissipate fairly early on to give way to an ever growing harem. So, simply put, Arifureta met my needs.

Although, I understand the frustration a lot of people have reading it. There seems to be this group of ultra-pessimists that want some super depressing everyone is scum world… and then there is the ultra-optimistic everyone is inherently good group… and this novel bounces back and force between the two (as opposed to the morally ambiguous Game of Thrones style guys popular in modern Fantasy) . With it’s dynamic between the Forever hero Kouki and the protagonist Hajime, it certainly pushes the argument that self-serving selfishness is good, setting Kouki as the ultimate fall boy (more on that in a sec), but it also fills itself up with moments of Harem and humor that completely obliterate the dark tones. Like, for example, Emperor Gahard… who is kind of treated like a fun punchline character near the end, with even heroic like qualities… completely ignoring the whole he oppressed an entire culture of people into slavery and his son tried to RAPE someone… Yeah… we forgot that only a few weeks/months prior he was running an oppressive regime… ah… look at that guy whose was basically a Fantasy version of Stalin squirm. Slavery is funny.

Here’s the thing… as a story… I’m actually more in line with Kouki’s beliefs. To me, Hajime is a bit of a douche. Kouki was flawed… but that was what made his character interesting. He wanted to do the right thing, he just didn’t know how. Of course, the story trashes “doing the right thing” by deliberately creating a world manipulated in just the right way that Hajime’s approach would be the right approach, while Kouki’s would fail… But, rather than writing it believably, the entire story feels like one giant strawman set up to just force this viewpoint on the audience.

I end up reading all these comments with people saying “screw KOUKI” or “I wish KOUKI would die!” and I’m just like, what? Kouki is the only interesting thing this novel has going for it at this point. But of course, everything was stacked against Kouki in a word literally designed to make Kouki wrong, so of course his end would only be disastrous… but to me, most of the time he was RIGHT. Hajime IS unreasonable. Hajime isn’t a good person. But a hero being heroic is “expected”… and that… to some people… makes it boring. Oh, it’s great to see a nontypical Japanese MC… they say… which is you know, fine… as long as you also accept that regardless of how the novel desperately portrays Hajime as great, his methods only work because this world is specifically designed for them to work. Hajime’s inability to trust is a weakness, and let’s face it… there is not a single reason for any of the girls like Hajime except maybe Kaori… I mean let us look at it.

Yue – Like, he rescues her and is the only human contact she experiences in 300 years. Total Knight In Shining Armor Effect.

Shia –There was never actually a reason other than “cuz”, but he emotionally abused her aggressively until she loved him, my thoughts is the author originally planned her to be the S&M character, I mean, she was originally introduced as a physical tough person who could bounce back from any blow while coming to love Hajime who continually abused her both physically and emotionally. Then, suddenly she stops being abused and a few chapters later they introduce Tio.

Tio – He was stronger than her and stuck his big, long, hard thing in her Hershey highway.

Shizuku – Knight In Shining Armor Effect like X3

Liliana – There is literally no reason.

Aiko – He’s… dependable… I guess? Also Knight in Shining Armor Effect.

Everyone Else – The Me too Effect…

I could also add that in the case of Shizuku and Kaori (and especially Shizuku)… that she’s only 16… and maybe the first guy she has any feelings for who already has monopolized 4 women and has no interest in her is probably not the guy she should pursue. Of course, Kouki mentions this, and is treated like an annoying child for stating what should be obvious. Heck Ryuutaro gets it, he was into Yue but at least he has the decency to back off… and the only guy with any brains is called the stupid “musclebrain” by the author… sigh…

All I’m saying is the story glorifies Hajime in strange ways. You might as well form the “Hajime is always right” club with how much everything always goes his way. He may be “different” than a typical Japanese MC… but that doesn’t make him any less a Mary Sue. He is the perfect never wrong protagonist. Seriously, does he make a single mistake after leaving Orcus? Heck even before? And I’m not talking about things going belly up or something unexpected happening… I’m talking about him showing a single damn flaw. Oh, when Yue was lost… he showed an “uncool” side… an “uncool” side that was apparently so “uncool” that they showed it to the Dragonkin to convince them of how cool he was. Within the world he is placed in, he is the perfect protagonist.

As far as the other characters… they weren’t terribly interesting. Each harem member kind of had that one trait… and that was it. They were memorable enough you could differentiate them… at least I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re interchangeable… but each one was a cliché in and of themselves… always repeating the same words/actions over and over again without depth or development.

Yue wasn’t an interesting and dynamic Vampire princess with a tortured past… she was the Loli seductress who licks her lips and says Nn. Shia wasn’t a troubled bunny burdened with the guilt of how her gifts hurt her family, she was a walking punchline, and later on she was even less than that… she was the Ryuutaro of her group… the one who hits things with a hammer and says things when the plot needs it.

These characters were flat… and their relationship with Hajime is flat… and Hajime is flat. That one chapter where Shizuku beat that crap out of Kouki showed more emotion and care than ANY interaction between Hajime and anyone else. I mean, Kouki mattered so much to Shizuku and Ryuutaro that they fought him, risking their life, even as he screamed abusive things at them, until they beat some sense into him. Not only did they show more care for him than anyone between Hajime and company, but that was actually freaking character development… you know, the thing your MC is supposed to do… yet all  Hajime’s character seems to develop is in the first three volumes. He mellows out a bit later on, but I think that has less to do with character development and more to do with the author altering his character to fit with the plot. When you have to alter the main character half way through the novel so that it fits your plot… well… Yeah…

However… from a purely “Harem” aspect… you get plenty of moments of Harem goodness. It’s full of tsukkumi’s and humor and I’m not saying I didn’t have a lot of fun. The first volume or two make you think it is a skill building web novel and a darkly themed novel, but the continuous humor and ridiculousness overshadow the later parts of the novel. Even when dark parts show themselves, they are quickly overridden with the humor of the moment, demolishing any tension that could possibly build.

The enemies were ridiculously weak and underdeveloped. The story didn’t have enough foreshadowing to tie itself together, making it feel a bit like the ending was kind of cobbled together. Freed was such a flat and disinteresting antagonist that it was a wonder he existed at all. Freed was literally an annoyance. You might want to shout that this means the author succeeded, because the reader feels the same way about Freed as the protagonist… as an annoyance that keeps popping up for no reason… but I have to think when I get to a chapter that the author is somehow failing if I’m annoyed and just want to see it over with.

While I think Ehito was built up enough… I think his subordinate was severely underutilized. The god is bad theme permeated the story… but Ehito was never really “down to earth” enough in the story that by the time he pops up I actually, felt… like… anything. I felt nothing for the antagonist… and if it wasn’t for the forced NTR I might not have cared about the final confrontation at all. That final labyrinth and then the battle just had too many characters fighting too many battles I didn’t care about. At that point in the story… I didn’t need to see everyone fight one more time. I think those last 15 chapters could have easily been turned into 4 and been better for it.

Although I know a lot of you love the action… I have to say that by chapter 160 I was pretty actioned out. Unless they were doing something new… I didn’t need to hear about the 10th time Tio uses dragon breath, Shia bangs her hammer, or Suzu pops up a barrier. By the end, I felt like this could double as a how-to guide on how many ways you can kill an apostle. You can slice them, dice them, fry them with a laser, beat them, decapitate them, burn them, explode their heads, shoot them, freeze them, hug them to death… Since the MC have been Op’d as fruck and we knew it… there is 0 tension in the final battle… and the manufactured tension felt manufactured. “Oh, you thought I was using my whole ability? Well NOW after you kicked the crap out of me for two chapters I’m going to use my whole ability!” *Sigh* There is no question they were going to win… so why story… why did you drag it out so long…

If they were fighting anyone we cared about… anyone who had previously oppressed them or had any discernible personality beyond “a monster” or “a lookalike angel… but like the general I guess this time? Well, we’ll give her name…” But alas… Don’t get me wrong, some of the action can be fun… but damn does the action drag, especially in the last two labyrinths and the finale when they start dragging Kouki and company everywhere and everyone keeps getting split up to fight separately.

I’ll give this story an 8/10. It’s a little generous, but it’s a solid web novel with a lot of good moments. If you want Op Protagonist and Harem girls, it does its job good enough. It’s bloated near the end, and the story never became compelling enough by the halfway point to justify the lengthy second half, but from a purely harem perspective it’s a good read. If you want to see a bullied protagonist become strong, get the women, and continually amaze everyone else, without getting too wrapped up on revenge, then this is for you. He gets the girls, he gets the power, he saves the day. It’s wish-fulfillment at its finest… just don’t expect complex and interesting characters or a rich engaging story.

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So… what did you think of my review? I was thinking of doing more of these for other web novels… just as, I don’t know, a thing I can post when I feel like it? Are you guys who are still around this site interested? Or am I better off just keeping my criticisms to myself (lol)?  Agree? Disagree? Let me know below.

 

 

Goodbye Cruel World

I actually was going to hide the link to the last two chapters behind a post to force you guys to read and thus stop sending me stupid as ballz questions… I was going to put a bunch of fake links sending you to gay porn sites… it was this whole thing… it would have been hilarious, but alas, I chickened out, and as a result, a few of you guys didn’t disappoint… baka questions galore.

First things first. Bakapervert has said he will continue on with the translations of the afterstory. His wordpress is in a link on the side, located over here!

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He hasn’t translated any yet, but given his age of god’s level magic, [Translation], you probably won’t need to wait long.

As far as me… I posted the last pdf. I will not post a pdf of any chapters not put on my site. I will not post the missing chapters from Japtem. I will not contact Chuuni and ask him personally if I can translate his book, you know, the one that’s already translated without his permission? Yeah… not going to do that. I’m not going to start a holy war with J Novel so you can get the first two volumes of Arifureta for free. I understand that “the web novel” is not “the light novel” and I don’t believe you give a hoot which is which, so don’t act like by not having the web novel translation for free you have faced some injustice. Want Arifureta Volume 1+2? Sign up to J novel or find someone to ask for them.

If you think something else should be done, do it yourself. Fill free to host the chapters or pdfs illegally, that is your prerogative. You can if you want. I’m just some dude who read Arifureta, came to the end, and decided to take matters in my own hand. I don’t own a business, I don’t make money, and I have no desire to start legal issues for myself over nothing. So… you know… stop bitching.

It’s been one year since I started Arifureta, found out I couldn’t continue it, and then started translating it. I’ve completed my goal. It’s been a lot of fun. I’d like to thank everyone who helped achieve this goal, Bakapervert, obviously, as well as Southbound and Tingle. I can’t say I would have finished without them, certainly not this year. You guys are awesome!

Now for me from now on? I’ll go back to releasing Requiem of the Stars, as well as continue to put out volumes of Hawtness for the non-wattpad readers. I still have the list of other world novels that I’m always updating. I’ll try to put something out at least once a week, but it won’t be Arifureta related.

Will I start any other translations? I don’t have any in mind. If you have any suggestions, my three requirements are.

  1. Already has at least 20 chapters out translated.
  2. Japanese Web novel main story is completed and online.
  3. Chapters are less than 3000 words. No 7000-9000 word behemeths like Arifureta, I can’t take that again.

If you think of any, feel free to suggest. Other than that, Thank you, the readers, for the incredible experience and continued support. I appreciate you guys the most! Thanks a bunch!

P.S. I know not all of you see my menu on the left side of the screen, you damn tablet people. Click menu and find it. It’s called Bakapervert’s WordPress… I’ve only mentioned it a dozen times.