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Deep Down Inside - Part 43 - The Venus Plan

Written by circes_cup :: [Wednesday, 16 April 2014 02:42] Last updated by :: [Wednesday, 16 April 2014 03:06]

PART 43 - The Venus Plan
Warning: This is adult literature.  If you’re not of a legal age to read this stuff, don’t.
Disclaimer: This is a work of pure fiction.  No semblance between the characters described here and real individuals -- living or dead -- is implied or intended.
Plot Synopsis Up to This Point:
Four female postgraduate students in New Mexico (Vicky, Tammy, Louisa and Kim) are living depressing lives fraught with personal and professional failures. 
One day, driving through the lonely new Mexico desert, they are commandeered by aliens.  The aliens soup them up with some supernatural abilities and turn them loose.  These supernatural abilities include not only absurd strength, but also being absurdly attractive, with the sexual appetite to match.  The part of their body that packs the greatest punch are their breasts, which store enough power to level a city.
Vicky is the leader of the four.  She could have any man she wants, but she pines after the heart of the one man who knows her better than any other: Jared.  She wants his respect, and hopes that this will lead to a deeper companionship.  
Earning Jared's respect means doing superhero stuff, and to that end, Vicky has enlisted the services of her friend Ethan, who heads up the group's command center.
But everything comes for a price.  The aliens souped the girls up for a reason.  Every few weeks, an alien mining ship has arrived at the Earth and extracted massive amounts of the planet’s ore.  When they come, the aliens take control of the girls’ minds and use them as weapons to clear the planet’s surface of all who might interfere.  During the first such operation, the girls obliterated a warlord’s encampment on the Central Asian steppe.  On the second such visit, a navy was sent to the bottom of the ocean.
Now, the earth seems to be between visits, and the girls are desperate to formulate a plan that will stop the madness.
“OK, we’ve discussed a number of different ideas.  We have to make sure everyone is on the same page.  Let’s go over this one more time," Vicky insisted.
Outside, the song of desert towhees was beginning to greet the dawn.  It had been a long night.  The four girls were unfazed by the lack of sleep, but Ethan’s stamina was lagging.  Vicky secretly lamented that men had so little stamina: she needed him now.
Ethan rubbed his eyes.  “Taking it from the top, here’s the final version we produced.  For the time being, the aliens are sending only mining ships.  Those ships are undefended, and they are using you ladies for protection when they perform their extraction on the planet’s surface.  But if even one of those ships is harmed, the aliens will send their warships, against which we -- meaning you -- have no chance.”
“So instead, we are going to fake the Earth’s death,” Louisa offered.
“Right.  If you can convince the aliens that the planet was destroyed by natural means -- a gravity anomaly or whatever -- then they will never bother to send another mining ship.”
“The aliens are lazy,” Vicky elaborated.  “And they are bureaucratic.  In their mining administration, planets with with ‘apocalypse issues’ are referred the research department.  And there, the case can languish for a hundred thousand years.  And that’s no exaggeration.  It could literally take them a hundred thousand years to get through the red tape.  The aliens won’t bother to send another ship until the case is resolved.”
Tamara turned to the solar system charting on the table.  “And so we’re going to fake Earth’s death by destroying Venus." 
Ethan said, “Yes, and you’ve got a small army of astronomers working non-stop to figure out how you are going to do that.”
“And why are we picking Venus and not another planet?” Kim asked.
“Because Venus is almost Earth’s twin,” Ethan replied.  “It’s nearly the same size, and its orbit is, in astronomical terms, very close to Earth.  From many light years away, the planets are indistinguishable, no matter how good the aliens’ technology.  And there's a stroke of luck as well: from the perspective alien homeworld, both planets are passing behind the Sun at the same time.  Two planets will disappear behind the sun, but only one emerges.  From a great distance, the aliens will have no idea which is which.”
“Like a shell game at a carnival,” Kim concluded.
Vicky nodded.  “After we’re done destroying Venus, I am going to have my module send a signal back to the alien homeworld that the Earth has been obliterated.  When they receive that, they won’t launch any more ships.”
“But what if a ship has already been launched?”  Tamara asked.  “What if something is currently in transit?”
Ethan paused to consider this.  “As frightening as it is, if the aliens arrive before we implement our plan, then you have to act like everything is normal.  Don’t resist them.  Let yourself obey their every whim, just like you did the last time.  You can’t do anything to make them suspicious.”
“That means we could wind up wiping yet another set of zip codes off the map,” Kim considered.  “Vicky, how likely is it that another alien ship is approaching?”
Vicky closed her eyes for a moment, which she always did when she was trying to detect the faintest rumblings of their alien master.  Her eyes opened suddenly.  “Very likely.”
Something doesn’t feel right about this, Vicky mused to herself as she prepared to obliterate the army assembled in front of her.  But I can’t put my finger on it.
However, as she craned her neck skyward, all doubts evaporated.  She could almost sense the alien ship hovering above.  They were giving her an opportunity to please them.  Her insides went gooey with happiness at the thought.  
Somehow she knew the emotions were artificial, being injected by her alien controllers in orbit above.  But it didn’t matter.  The emotions felt incredibly good, and overwhelmingly so.  Whatever tiny voice objected inside her head, it was instantly quashed.  This was going to be so much fun!
“Start off slowly,” Vicky suggested to Tamara, as she allowed her enthusiastic servility to flow into Tamara as well.  “Let’s enjoy this.”
Tamara smiled with a sloppy, distant happiness.  She cupped her breasts, massaging them lightly, and lightning bolts, perhaps the thickness of a pencils, shot out.  Although they appeared ephemeral, the bolts had a real impact.  They tore into the column like a machine gun.  Soldiers fell, their bullet proof vests easily pierced.  Through the girls' superhuman telescopic vision, they could see that lightly-armored transports and jeeps were also shot through, turned to swiss cheese by the power of Tamara's onslaught.  But the tanks remained, unharmed.  
“You’re such a tease,” Vicky chided.  “Let’s show them something they’ll remember.”
"Your turn to have some fun,” Tamara beamed.
Vicky cupped her magnificent breasts, massaging them lightly, and was rewarded by lightning bolts as well.  But in this case, the bolts were blinding, at least an inch thick.  How many of Tamara's bolts would it take to equal the ones now emanating from Vicky?  Twenty?  Thirty? The lightning blasted through the column of tanks -- BLAM, BLAM, BLAM, BLAM, BLAM.  They tore the artillery in half, each gun expelling an enormous WHUMP as its stockpile of munitions exploded.  When the bolts, stopped, the girls again zoomed in using their flawless vision. Surveying the scene, they saw that everything not bolted down-- weapons, machines, aircraft-- was in shambles.  
"You defeated them, Vicky, in a single blast!" her blond friend exclaimed.
Smoke rose out of ruined tanks, their turrets had melted like butter in a hot oven, and their guns now pointed uselessly at the sky or the ground.  Columns of smoke rose out of disheveled metal heaps that were once artillery batteries.  
"That felt so fucking fantastic," Vicky smiled, suffused with the alien emotions. "No way am I going to stop!"   
Tamara, also overbrimming with the emotions, squealed her approval.  She gave Vicky a congratulatory peck on the cheek.  
Adjusting her super vocal cords to shout at a volume easily audible within twenty miles,  Vicky egged them on.  “Come on, give us your best shot!”
A handful of mortars and missiles fired at the girls.  They produced pathetic explosions-- enough to level buildings, maybe, or perhaps to incinerate a regiment.  But it was barely enough to tickle the supergirls, whose invulnerable skin laughed off the shrapnel and hot gasses that caressed it.
Vicky smiled back, and without taking her eyes off Tamara,  put her hands back on her breasts.  Then, with her super-loud voice, Vicky imitated the sound a shotgun being cocked , "cha-chick", while sliding her hands up and down her shotgun barrels.  
Tamara glanced at the army and saw men desperately running for cover, calling for air support, diving to the ground with their hands over their helmets.  Tamara turned back to her friend and held her breath in anticipation, her attention absorbed by the only woman on earth more beautiful than her.  Vicky looked fabulous, even here, on a battlefield, covered in dirt.  The afternoon sun caught her tremendous curves in profile, the way her rock hard abdomen tapered sharply inward below her ribs, the way her ribs gave way to the fullest, roundest, most perfect set of breasts imaginable, and the way these in turn gave way to the granite-like sharpness of her collarbone, neck muscles, and finally the flawless features of her face.  Vicky smiled back at Tamara, a smile that sent Tamara's heart racing with desire and left perspiration on her skin.  
Somewhere in the dark recesses of Vicky’s brain, a voice screamed at her to stop.  But the sound was so faint, so distant.  And the feelings the aliens sent Vicky were so overwhelmingly wonderful.
Vicky puckered her lips, and again at twenty-mile volume, whispered “bang.”  
Twin lightning bolts again shot out, this time as thick as baseball bats-- and growing every moment.  Tamara watched in rapt admiration as the bolts blasted through the hardened fortresses, their walls six feet thick with hardened concrete. Supply trucks exploded, towers toppled, large cargo planes-- even some heading in the other direction-- simply evaporated from view.  
A bolt rifle or two fired from the foxholes.  Vicky squinted in fake concentration, puckered her lips and redirected her beams to the ground, where they became the world's most powerful excavators-- BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM the beams went as the tore up the ground, blasting away earth and rock, leaving fifty-foot craters where each of the hundred foxholes once existed.  
The scene now was utter devastation-- smoke rose and drifted silently in the breeze-- a silence interrupted only by the occasional explosion of overheated munitions.  Vicky massaged her breasts as static electricity continued to cackle around them.
Vicky paused, thinking.  "You know, I'm not sure I like that mountain being so tall, do you, Tamara?"
"I dunno," Tamara said, confused.  
"C'mon, play along with me.  That mountain is about 2,000 feet too tall, isn't it"  
"Uh, sure." 
"So maybe I'll just clean it up a bit, just for fun."  
And with that, the twin beams emerged again, thicker than telephone poles now.  And before the world’s terrified eyes, Tamara giggled as Vicky blew to top 2,000 feet of the mountain clear off.  
Just for fun.
“They’d still be alive if they had listened to your warning,” Ethan said as he threw open the bedroom blinds.  “You yourself said that there’s no way to resist the aliens when they are here.  You did what you had to do.”
The bright Phoenix sun charged into the room and assaulted Vicky’s eyes.  She groaned in misery and jammed the pillow over her head. 
“That’s easy for you to say.  You didn’t see the carnage.  I’m a monster, Ethan.  A genetically engineered, perfected monster.”  Her brain felt like it had a cinder block resting on top of it.  Even under the pillow, she could feel the Sun pounding away at her.  What did it want with her?
“Maybe you are a monster,” he observed factually.  “But you’re not one today.  The aliens are gone for the time being.  Now is our chance.”
She felt herself nodding reluctantly beneath the pillow.
“How long until the next alien ship arrives?” he asked.
“Maybe a week,” Vicky rasped.  “I don’t feel anything coming yet.”  
She felt his hands on her forearm and then felt herself being awkwardly hauled upward.  He was lifting her with all the strength his librarian’s arms could muster.
“Venus is waiting,” he said.  “Good luck out there today.  You might just save us all.”
Leaving earth's orbit was frightening for Vicky at first, and she was sure the other girls shared her fear.  They had never been in deep space before.
But the trip to the Inner Solar System was easier-- and faster-- than they had expected.  Without the detriment of friction, they could accelerate to speeds that had more zeroes than Vicky cared to count.
Once the girls had covered perhaps 90 percent of the distance to the sun, they slowed.  The vast ball of fire loomed frighteningly large in front of them.  They felt their breasts tingle with pleasure as they drank in the power of several nuclear weapons from the immense fireball below them.
Her body soon satiated and filled, Vicky turned away from the brightness and gazed outward at the planets.  Earth was there, its flecks of green and blue were easily visible to her.  And between her and earth stood the purpose of their trip: Venus.
Comparing Earth and Venus now, she had to agree.  And if the two planets looked similar from this distance, the astronomers argued, then from many billions of miles away they would appear identical.
Once the other girls were fully charged, the next stop was the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.  "Think of the asteroids like they are bullets," one of the scientists suggested.  "Their combined mass is only six percent of Venus's, but if you get them going fast enough, they become the weapon you need to tear Venus apart."
For tireless days, that was exactly what the girls would do.  Their flight powers, more precisely put, were not about flight at all.  They were really “pushing powers”, which created flight only by pushing against the mass of the Earth, or against any other object.  With the outer planets at her back and the asteroids in front of her, Vicky began “pushing” the rocks into a new flight path.  
The rocks were monstrously large-- several miles across each.  But moving them was no problem for the supercharged girls, Vicky noted, as she felt immense power flowing through her.  
The girls corralled the first hundred of these rocks like sheep dogs would corral sheep: lining them into a group, catching the stragglers, driving them forward.  Under the girls' exertions and the frictionless environment, the rocks adopted blistering speed, soon moving at a million miles per hour.
Flying at the head of the column, Vicky was shocked to see how quickly the target planet grew from a pin prick to a looming ball in front of them.   Arriving ahead of the rocks, she and Tamara fired a hail of superheated lightning bolts into Venus's atmosphere -- several megatons worth of energy -- thinning the air at the point the rocks would enter.
A hypothetical inhabitant of Venus would have looked up that day to see all hell raining down.  Rocks twenty miles across hit the planet's surface at a million miles per hour, shattering the outer crust like a bullet would a windshield.  Volcanoes a hundred miles across appeared out of nowhere, as the planet began to bleed its life out.  The ground opened up like the petals of a flower, as chasms the size of a hundred Grand Canyons began to form.  For a hypothetical observer, the dyne of the falling rocks would have been enough to shatter his eardrums.  The shock waves from the impacts would have turned his bones to dust.
The assault continued mercilessly as the girls worked their way through the asteroid belt, herding the rocks into groups of a hundred and accelerating them to unfathomable speeds.
Hours came and went as the girls worked relentlessly.  In an environment without sunrise or sunset, the hours became days and the days became lost in time.  
As the labors continued, Vicky experienced a sensation that she had not felt for years -- exhaustion.  She knew she should head to the sun for replenishment.  The other girls did, and came back rejuvenated and effective.  But she couldn’t bring herself to leave the task at hand.  Just a little bit more, she thought, and then I will go to the sun to rejuvenate.
But even as she was thinking this, a vibration on her wrist interrupted her labors.  It was a communicator Ethan had outfitted for her.  Reaching to illuminate the backlight, its message was simple: “Get back here.  We have a situation.”
Vicky stared at the telescope image on the screen, squinting her eyes to understand it better.  Her enhanced vision was useless here, given the poor resolution of the image: a blur on the screen was still a blur, no matter how good your eyes.
"It doesn't look like much, but it's probably ten football fields long," Ethan explained.  "It's a stroke of luck we even saw it.  The telescope that picked it up was designed to look for comets, not alien mining ships."
Vicky cursed to herself.  They were here already.
“Do you think the aliens suspect something?” Ethan asked.
"Not yet," Vicky replied.  "That ship must have been dispatched a long time ago, before we began destroying Venus.  Its mission will be the same as the earlier ones-- mining.  When this picture was taken, the ship was probably still in interstellar hibernation mode -- automated systems only.”
“Can you destroy it with your energy beams?” Ethan asked.
“Not without waking it up first.  And that, of course, would cause it to signal the home world.”
The two of them paused for a moment, deep in thought.
“I wonder if we can turn a bad thing into a good thing.” Ethan suggested.
“Do tell.”
“You were going to feed the alien homeworld some rubbish about how the Earth was destroyed, and you’re going to blame it on a gravity anomaly, right?  What if we could trick this mining ship into thinking that it’s being destroyed by the same thing-- a gravity anomaly?  Its distress call to the homeworld would just corroborate our lie.”
“So we have to destroy this ship in such a way that it feels like it's suffering from unusual gravitational forces,” Vicky  mused.  “We have to push it into the Earth.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem for you, right?” Ethan said.  “Given your typical speeds, you can get the other girls, replenish in a solar flare and be on the case in less than an hour.”
Vicky closed her eyes and shook her head.  “No, it’s too close now.  It will be coming out of interstellar hibernation any minute now.  I don’t have time to get the girls.  I need to do this myself.”
“But you said you were feeling depleted.”
“I am.”
“And what if it wakes up before you’re can kill it?”
“Then it's game over.  I become its weapon.”
The alien mining ship was dark-- gunmetal grey without a single running light illuminated.  And it was ponderously large -- indeed the length of ten football fields.  
Vicky rocketed a circuitous route to the ship, approaching it within the shadow of its rear thruster plumes to avoid detection.  Soon, she had her hands on the dark grey hull.  
It was her first direct contact with an alien craft since sitting in one during her original abduction.  The cold metal sent a chill down her spine.
Vicky closed her eyes and realized that she was hyperventilating.  What if, in her dilapidated state, she was too weak?  What if the ship figured out it was being attacked, and got off a signal?  It had been so long since she had felt feeble.  But with her hands on an object ten football fields long, ‘feeble’ was an understatement.  She felt miniscule.
But even as she harbored these doubts, the ship began to wake as it approached Earth.  There was no time for self pity.  Vicky felt her body electrifying with superhuman power and her breasts poured their energy into forward flight.  
The ship jolted forward under her assault.  If she had been on earth, the energy she was applying would have been enough to lift three or four aircraft carriers clear out of the water.  
Vicky felt the ship's stabilizing thrusters begin to fire.  She redoubled her exertion and saw her chest heave from panting.  She had sometimes wondered whether her body would ever sweat again, but now she felt perspiration forming and instantly evaporating on her brow.
The ship's stabilizing thrusters went to full.  Her arms began to quiver.  She screamed in agony at the exertion.  But in the vacuum of space, no sound was formed, and her cries seemed to disappear into the indifferent blackness.
The ship was getting the better of her.  Each of its stabilizing thrusters was the size of a school bus, designed to haul heavy loads of ore, and they were all firing at full.  She didn’t have the strength, she lamented.
Her vision began to blur. Her father’s face, always supportive, long dead, appeared in front of her.  And then she saw other faces, too -- the people she was trying to save.  There was Lawrence, who had consoled her at the Tempe stadium; and Allie, the girl from the falling train; and then Ethan, always selfless, always wise in his counsel.  
Their visages somehow watched over her and emboldened her.  Within moments, she felt her strength returning.   “UUURRRGH” she silently screamed, putting one last desperate shove into the groaning hull, even as her arms quivered like aspen leaves.
The craft shot forward in an enormous lurch.  You’re doing it, Vicky exclaimed to herself!  Soon, she felt the first wisps of air as the ship entered the earth’s atmosphere.  She heard the monstrous howl of the ship’s engines as the thin air began to carry the sound.  Vicky redoubled her efforts yet again, and felt the ship lurch further forward.  
The Earth’s gravity was on her side now, increasing the strain on the ship's stabilizing thrusters.  For a moment, she imagined the Earth was a woman like herself, drawing the ship ever closer to its bosom.  We girls can do this together, Vicky suggested, as the emptied her flight powers into the groaning metal of the hull.
As the Australian Outback loomed large in front of them, Vicky felt the ship emit a signal back to the home world.  She didn’t speak alien.  But her device did, and it translated the message for her: “Unexplained gravity anomaly proximate to Earth planet.  Navigational efforts failing.”
Perfect, Vicky exulted to herself!  The ship had sent exactly the message she was hoping it would! It was all going according to her plan!
But then, the moment of celebration was over.  She felt a stirring inside.  The ship was fully awake now.  It was calling out to her, asking her to help save it.  She felt the inexorable siren call of alien servitude.  She imagined the alien creatures in her mind, and suddenly found them not disgusting, but beautiful.  Serving them would make her so happy, would fulfill every deepest hidden desire.  Her heart, her brain, even her sex all knew that pleasing them would bring ultimate pleasure.
Vicky felt her hands leave the hull.  She stared at them in disbelief.  Had she really been trying to destroy this wonderful alien vessel?  Wouldn’t it feel so much better to use these hands to tear helpless humans apart?
Humans... she thought.  Their faces raced before her, and she fantasized about all the ways she slaughter them-- incinerating, crushing, the list went on.  Humans, humans humans.
But then an unexpected face appeared in her mind’s eye: Jared.   How would she slaughter him?  And for a very brief moment, her mind cleared.
“NOOOO!” she screamed with finality, ramming her fists into the dark metal hull, throwing the entirety of her energy, the entirety of her being, into thrusting the ship forward.  She didn’t trust herself to be able to resist again.  This was it.  Do or die.  Do, or Jared dies.
With tears streaming out of the corners of her eyes, she screamed with effort.  Pushing with all her might, she felt the ship jolt forward, hard.  The yellow earth of the Outback now loomed greatly before her.  She screamed a deafening wail as pain and exertion consumed her.  
And then, happened.  Vicky heard the satisfying BOOM as ten-football-fields-worth of space ship went barreling into the Earth.  The rumbling shook Vicky's insides as the enormity of the ship collapsed the ground beneath it, and then collapsed upon itself.
The shock wave obliterated wildlife for ten miles around.  The earth quaked at the impact -- an event that would register a record 10.5 on the Richter scale.  
As far away as Sydney, plaster dust rained down from ceilings and file cabinets toppled.  Residents were oblivious to the magnitude of what had happened only two hundred miles away.  They swore to themselves as they watched wine glasses shatter and groaned in regret as pictures fell off the walls.  A man at a computer typed furiously through it all: “She flicked on the light,” he wrote.  “The feeling of deja-vu that came over her was frightening.  Something happened...she was sure something was wrong.”  Wrong indeed, he cursed to himself.  Who knew that finishing a story could be so hard.
Meanwhile, two hundred miles away, Vicky lay exhausted in the wreckage of the ship, panting, too tired even to stand up.  
Dawn was coming to Australia now.  Looking, looking to the east, she found the Morning Star, Venus.
Or more properly put, she found the Morning Star, altered.  With the last ounce of her energy, Vicky had her module send the signal back to the alien homeworld.  "Planet Earth destroyed," she signaled.  "All four modules failing."
She then heard herself laughing hysterically-- with relief.  Gazing to the east, she saw Venus’s new form: what had once been a neat ball of light was now a chain of bright pinpricks.  Venus was in fragments.
They had done it.
“Aren’t you supposed to be at the White House right now?” Jared asked, glancing at the TV in the deli cafe.  “CNN says that you are having a joint press conference in less than thirty minutes.”
“The White House is only 2,500 miles away,” Vicky dismissed.  “I’ve got plenty of time.  I need to talk to you.”
Jared’s pastrami sandwich arrived, as they spoke.  He gently shoved it aside.
“Ethan explained to me what you did -- the whole Venus thing.  That’s incredible.  I guess you saved us all.”
Hearing praise from Jared made her heart take a tiny, involuntary leap.  The aliens are not the only ones that control my emotions, she admitted to herself.  
“I have to admit I’m really glad.”  Vicky hesitated her breath pregnant with a question.
“What is it?”  Jared asked.
“Does this, you know, in your mind... does this even it out?” she asked expectantly.
“What do you mean, ‘even it out’?”
“Even out all the shit I’ve done in the past.  The fact that I obliterated an encampment, and then a navy, and then an army.”
“But the aliens made you do that.”
“OK, so, take the stuff before the mining.  The fact that we girls killed eleven people in a basketball gym down the street.  Just for revenge.  Just because we were mad.  That’s bad, right?”
“Those murders were yours?” Jared asked.
Vicky nodded.
“Then they’re still murders, Vicky.  They don’t disappear just because you did something else.”
Vicky felt tears of frustration welling up in her eyes.  “I saved the fucking world here, Jared.  Do you think that maybe cuts me a little slack?”
“Vicky, it’s not like that.  I’m not saying that you’re...”
“You hate me, don’t you?”  She accused.  “You think I’m like an old apple-- pretty on the outside but brown and mealy and disgusting on the inside.  And the deeper you go, the more disgusting I get!”
“Vicky, on the contrary, I think--”
“The only reason you put up with me is because you’re scared of me right?”  She put her hand over the top of the stainless steel napkin holder .
Jared was speechless.
“And you should be scared.”  She closed her fingers, and the steel collapsed like crumpling paper.  “I could destroy you so easily, it’s laughable.”
“You already have,” he replied.  “I--”
But she didn’t let him finish.  Instead, she reminded him that she had a press conference to attend.  She quipped that while he was applying for jobs sixteen levels below the Oval Office, she was on a first name basis with the President.  As she took to the sky, she tried to ignore the awful pain inside that erupted every time she saw the sadness and disappointment on his face.  
It was not until she was over the Appalachians that she retraced the conversation in her head, and realized that she had no idea the meaning of his last, enigmatic words.  
"I must say, it's the most impressive piece of research I've seen from any of my graduate students," Professor Tomkins gushed, closing his laptop and turning to Tamara.  "And you got it done in record time.  Most of my students need three years to complete their dissertation; you did it in six months."
Tamara, on the other hand, felt badly that it had taken as long as it had.  Thanks to the aliens, her mental faculties in geology were just as super as her muscles.  Should could have completed the project not just in six months, but in six hours, if she had only focused on it.  The whole lifestyle of super-ness had gotten in the way.   It wasn't until she blew up a planet that she remembered the fact that she was still a geology grad student.
"That was easy," Vicky said, as they left the grad student center.
"No kidding," Tamara replied.  "It's almost eerie how well everything has gone since we faked the Earth's death with the Venus stunt.  We've gone from worrying about the fate of humankind to worrying about the little stuff, like a graduate thesis.  Are you sure the aliens haven't figured out the trick?"  
"They haven't tried to contact me."
As the girls walked down the hallway, they passed a window into one of the computer labs.  A complex array of screens had been set up, with a graphical display, similar to a heart monitor, on one of them.
"What do you think that is?" Vicky asked.
"It's a live feed from NASA on one of our planetary exploration probes."
"Why does it show a blip every few seconds?"
Tamara replied, "It's a self-reporting beacon.  The device sends out a periodic signal indicating to its controllers that the device is still functional.  Most sophisticated equipment has some type of self-report signal, especially when it’s remotely deployed.  Think about that MH 370 flight; even after somebody disabled the transponder, an automatic beacon periodically sent a simple signal back to its manufacturers in the UK, which eventually allowed them to hunt the plane down.”
Tamara turned to continue walking, but Vicky remained frozen in place.  Her breath came in short wheezes.  She clutched her belly.  And her knuckles were white.
"Tamara, I just realized something -- something very bad."

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