Kiraling – Part 20 (Chapter 124-133)
Written by anonxyzus :: [Thursday, 22 April 2021 06:16] Last updated by :: [Friday, 30 April 2021 11:16]
In the morning I checked the security cameras. No sign of my two visitors. I made a note to talk to Kara about installing cameras further out from the house. Now that she owned all the property between mine and the main road, I figured she should be able to get that done with minimal fuss.
I raised the shutters but left the doors bolted. Just as I sat down to breakfast, I got an alert that the lake doors were opening. I went downstairs in time to see Xara step out of the equalization room, that’s what I called the room with the lake doors, with Gloria, followed by Sharon, then Kara with a dark-haired woman. A beautiful dark-haired woman. With those beautiful blue eyes that only the Supremis possess.
Kara motioned for me to go upstairs; all the ladies followed. Upstairs, Kara made introductions.
“Mona, this is Joseph Ricci. This is his home. You’ll be living here with him until we determine what other arrangements we can make. Joseph, this is Mona.”
I held out my hand and said, “Welcome to my home, Mona. You can call me Joe.”
She took my hand and shook it but said nothing. But Xara had something to say.
“Joe is Kiraling to myself, Sharon and my mother. He is also my boyfriend. If you don’t treat him with the same respect you treat us, if you ever harm so much as a hair on his head, I will tear your limbs off. Do you understand?”
Mona just nodded.
For now, I ignored Xara’s declaration about my status and looked at Mona. Unlike all the other Supremis I had met, Mona wasn’t taller than me. She was almost exactly my height. She was wearing a nice sweater and jeans. Tight-fitting jeans. She had a perfect figure, and besides the Supremis blue eyes, she also had the female Supremis breasts. Meaning not huge, but not small, or medium either. And her hair was the same beautiful black as Gloria’s.
I’d almost forgotten about breakfast.
“Have you eaten yet?”
“Finish your breakfast, Joseph,” said Kara, “we’ll make our own.” And by ‘we’ she meant Gloria.
While Gloria was in the kitchen making breakfast, I told them about the previous day’s visitors.
“I don’t have anything to back this up, but I think they wanted to talk to you on Josh’s behalf,” I said to Xara.
“I wondered why my car was in the garage,” she said.
“Xara,” said Kara, “let’s go over the security system recordings before we leave.”
“That reminds me, Kara,” I said, “now that you own all the property around here, can we place some cameras to monitor the road?”
“We can,” she answered. “In the spring, I’m going to have crews here to demolish the homes I bought. We can set up something then.”
While Kara and Xara were downstairs looking through the last 24 hours of security recordings, I tried to get to know Mona.
“Where are you from, Mona?” I asked.
“Aria,” she replied.
“How long have you been on earth?” I asked.
“Five years,” she said.
This wasn’t going well. I decided to ask some open-ended questions.
“How did you find and then meet Major Aldrich?”
“I used to go to bars frequented by career officers. I saw him in a bar and got close enough to hear part of his conversation. I don’t remember what he said, but it made me think he may be an intelligence source.
“I returned to the same bar every day for several weeks until I determined the frequency of his visits. Then one day, when he was alone at the bar, I sat down beside him and smiled. He struck up a conversation with me.”
“How did things progress from there? How did you turn him into a source?”
“It was clear he found me attractive, and he started trying to pick me up. I told him I was a professional and asked him if he’d be interested in becoming a client. He said he would.”
“It was that simple?”
“With men like him, good looking, confident, narcissistic, it always is.”
“How old are you Mona?”
“By this planet’s calendar, I’m 28 years old.”
“How did you find yourself in this … job.”
“I signed up for the intelligence services. Because of the personnel demands of the war, more highly sought-after jobs have been available for Betas. When Near Earth Command came looking for women to recruit Terran sources I volunteered.”
Gloria announced that breakfast was ready. She looked at me and said, “You need to put on more weight. Eat with us.”
I sat down to eat with all the ladies. With my new house guest, I wondered how the sleeping arrangement would work. So I asked.
“Where will Mona be sleeping?”
Kara replied, “Up here. You decide which bedroom. Gloria will also be staying here, upstairs.”
I have three bedrooms upstairs.
“I’ll sleep downstairs tonight,” said Xara.
“I’m sleeping with you tonight,” said Sharon.
“I’ll stay downstairs,” said Kara.
While we were eating, I got a call from Captain Moore. She wanted to participate in the interrogation of Mona. Major Aldrich had approved it. I handed the phone to Kara.
“It’s for you,” I said.
Kara took the phone, said “uh huh” a couple of times, and then said, “Book a flight into Bellingham. Call Joseph when you know your arrival time.”
The rest of the day was uneventful. Kara and Xara went over the security system recordings and, I guess, got whatever information they wanted from those. My efforts to engage Mona in conversation were fruitless. She didn’t want to talk. She asked me to show her where her room was and I did, and she went inside and closed the door.
Xara went back to campus and Sharon and Kara put their heads together and decided Mona needed more than the clothes on her back, so Sharon borrowed my car to go shopping. She came back two hours later with bags of stuff, clothing, knocked on Mona’s bedroom door, then let herself in. I couldn’t hear the conversation they were having, but Kara could. She smiled and nodded and when I asked her what was going on, she said Sharon was making a little progress drawing Mona out.
“What are they talking about?”
“It started with the clothes Sharon bought and then turned to you.”
“She’s curious about you, and what you could have done to become Kiraling, and why Xara would be interested in ‘such an ugly Terran,’ her words, not mine Joseph.”
“How did Sharon answer?” I asked.
“Oh, something along the lines of, no accounting for taste.” Then she laughed at my expression and said, “She told Mona that you are exceptional, and Xara recognizes and admires that.”
“How did she answer the Kiraling question?”
“With an old movie cliché; If I told you I’d have to kill you.”
Xara came back for dinner, and while we were eating my phone rang, it was Captain Moore. She was able to get a ride on an Air Force flight into JBLM, and then another AF flight to Bellingham. She apparently had connections. I agreed to pick her up at 0830 the next morning.
After dinner Mona went to her room and stayed there the rest of the night. I checked my Army email and discovered that in a couple of weeks I was to report to JBLM for a fitness test, push-ups, sit-ups, running. I had no worries about passing the test. Having a hard ass like Gloria working me pretty much guaranteed I’d do fine.
In the morning we had breakfast and I drove out to the Bellingham Airport and picked up Captain Moore. We had a chance to talk on the drive back.
“How is Major Aldrich handling the capture of his mistress?”
“He seems to be keeping it together. He knows I’m here to interrogate her, and I don’t think he’s very happy about that, but he’s maintaining a professional attitude.
“Is Sharon here?” she asked me.
“Has she said anything about how things are going with Deb?”
“Not to me, Captain. And if she did, I don’t think I’d tell you. No offense, but dealing with Xara’s drama is more than enough for me and I really don’t want to get drawn into anymore if I can help it.”
“No offense taken, sergeant. Does that mean you wouldn’t be open to a three-way with me and Sharon?”
I nearly drove off the road. Captain Moore was laughing so hard at me she could barely breathe. I got a look at myself in the rear-view mirror, I’d never seen that color red on my face before.
When we got to the cabin, I took Captain Moore’s bag down to the room she would be in, I assumed she’d be sharing it with Sharon since this was her first time at the cabin, and I gave her a tour. She was quite impressed and asked me about the alien equipment. I could describe to her what it did, but not how it worked. Because I had no idea.
Just when we finished the tour Sharon, who had been grocery shopping, came downstairs and greeted the Captain. It was quite the greeting. I excused myself and went upstairs.
A few minutes later everyone was sitting around the dining room table. Kara introduced Mona to Captain Moore, and then the Velorians and Gloria began their interrogation. Kara was mostly interested in who Mona reported to, how she reported in, who else she knew to be working on earth, or Terra, and who her Terran sources were. Also whatever she could tell us about Near Earth Command (NEC). Then they turned the interrogation over to Captain Moore, and Oh. My. God.
Kara had interrogated Mona for about 45 minutes. Captain Moore interrogated her for the rest of the day and into the evening, stopping only for bathroom breaks, lunch and dinner. It was clear after the first two hours that Kara had only managed to scratch the surface. Captain Moore drew much more detail out of Mona. More detail about everything. Her training, her field craft, who she met with, how much they told her, dates and times, as far as Mona could remember them. And how she picked her targets.
Everyone was impressed with Captain Moore’s skill as an interrogator. Even Mona!
Mona described the equipment she used, and the records she kept in detail. Captain Moore wanted to go after that material, but Kara said no, the Arions would send someone to look for Mona, and it was important that they find all of Mona’s equipment and records, so they would think she was captured and killed, rather than captured and turned.
This didn’t go down too well with Captain Moore, but she didn’t know where Mona had lived and there wasn’t much she could do about it, so she just accepted it.
Captain Moore and I went downstairs so I could show her more of my setup. While we were alone, she went from being Captain Moore to being Sarah and we compared notes on the Velorians. She had noticed that they drank coffee or tea without waiting for it to cool or sipping it until it did. I’d noticed that too, and how they never wore makeup, they didn’t need it, and when they woke in the morning their eyes were clear and they didn’t have morning breath. Sarah commented that she’d never seen Sharon run a brush or comb through her hair. I hadn’t either. Their hair never tangled, and if it were out of place, they’d just shake their heads a little and it would be perfect again.
“Have you ever watched them cook?” I asked.
“No,” she replied.
“They never use potholders. I’ve watched Gloria reach right into boiling water to retrieve eggs she was cooking.”
“Have they ever handed you a hot pan or cup?” She asked.
“Yes,” I said, “but they are always aware of what they are doing. If they pick up a skillet without a potholder, they get one before they hand the skillet to me.”
I’d left all the doors between the lair and the house open, so I should have known the Velorians could hear us. But it took both of us by surprise when Sarah said, “I wonder what it is like for them, living among us and having to keep track of all our frailties.” And Xara yelled “It’s exhausting!”
The next morning I drove Captain Moore to Fred Meyer so she could pick up a few things. Apparently, Sharon talked her into staying for a few days. When we returned home the blondes were gone and it was just me, Gloria, Captain Moore, who insisted I call her Sarah for the rest of her stay, and Mona. I’d wanted to ask Kara how long Mona would be staying with me. I asked Gloria and she just said I’d have to ask “the boss”, meaning Kara.
I spent the day in the lair working on Arion and Velorian language lessons and showing Sarah how it all worked, followed by some PT. Sarah worked out with me and said I’d have no trouble passing my upcoming test. We came upstairs for lunch, which was a quiet affair with Sarah, Gloria and Mona, then went back downstairs.
Xara arrived for dinner and spent a couple of hours with Mona, asking her what it was like growing up on Aria. Gloria and I turned on the TV and caught a football game. Gloria likes football. Some of the rules seem archaic and confusing to her, but she can really get into a game. We discovered, much to our mutual satisfaction, that our favorite team is whoever is playing Dallas. Well, that’s my second favorite team. The Seahawks are my favorite.
Xara went back to her dorm before the game was over so Mona sat down with us to watch it. Sharon arrived and she and Sarah disappeared downstairs. At the end of the game, as I was turning off the TV before going to bed, Mona asked me, “If she is your girlfriend, why do you sleep with Sharon and Kara, but not Xara?”
“She’s not my … oh crap. I’m going to bed. Ask Gloria, she’ll explain it to you.”
“Do you also sleep with Gloria?”
“No. Good night.”
Gloria just sat there grinning at me, obviously enjoying my discomfort.
The next morning at breakfast Mona told me she agrees with Gloria, Sharon, Kara and Xara, and lectured me on the superiority of Supremis sexual morality. I have to admit I was intrigued, as this was the first time I’d ever heard a Supremis link sex with morality. She must have interpreted my reaction to mean she won because the next thing I knew she was inviting me to spend the night in her bed.
I became very flustered, much to the amusement of all the ladies present, and tried to explain to her the Geneva Convention and the US Military Code of Conduct Rules for Prisoners of War. I appealed to Sarah for help. She wouldn’t, she was having too much fun at my expense. I got up from the table and went downstairs into the lair.
I spent the day working on language lessons and worrying about staying away from Mona. Holy Christ! She’s beautiful. Not as beautiful as the Velorians, but close. And based on the number of men she had successfully compromised, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be left alone with her. The Velorians have pheromones. That and their beauty are all they need to get a man into bed. Mona didn’t have pheromones, but she was beautiful, and she had also perfected the art of the seduction. Could I resist her? I didn’t want to find out.
Gloria brought me a sandwich for lunch and I continued to work until Xara came downstairs just before dinner.
She stood over me, hand on her hips, and asked, “What’s this I hear about you fucking Mona?”
“What!? No! I’m doing no such thing Xara!”
And then she broke up in laughter.
So she was just teasing me. Except at dinner, she sat next to me, putting her hand on my knee or on my arm, looking me in the eye whenever I spoke, and interjecting whenever Mona talked to me. If I didn’t know better, I would have said she was acting like she was jealous.
And then, after dinner, she cuddled up next to me on the couch while I watched TV. And she didn’t leave until her mother arrived.
Later that evening, Sarah and Sharon went to their room downstairs. Gloria went to her room, Mona to hers, and Kara went with me to my room.
I got into bed lying on my back and Kara crawled in next to me, laying on her side facing me, and began drawing circles on my chest with her finger. I knew what was coming, but before I got lost in Kara’s affections, I asked her if she noticed anything going on with Xara.
She smiled and said, “I think Xara is feeling a little threatened by Mona.”
That took me by surprise. “Why?”
“I think she’s threatened by the competition.”
That made me sit straight up in bed.
“Competition? Does Xara think Mona, or anybody, could compete with her?” This just didn’t make sense.
“Okay Joseph, I’ll try to explain it to you. Have you ever noticed that we Velorians are a little vain?”
“A little vain Kara? No. Very vain, yes.”
She laughed and said, “Alright, we’re very vain. Here, on Terra, we are the most attractive, desirable women a Terran man could ever meet. And the thought that a Terran woman could compete with us for the affections of a Terran man, well, with our vanity, that would be a quite a blow to the ego.”
“Okay. Mona isn’t a Terran woman.”
“The difference between a Velorian and an Arion Beta are so vast that, to us, they may as well be Terran. But they are exceptionally beautiful, compared to Terran women, and Mona is very skilled at getting her way with Terran men.”
“You and Sharon get your ‘way’ with me all the time. That doesn’t seem to bother Xara.”
“No, but Sharon and I are both on the same level as Xara, and we aren’t out to get you for ourselves. And besides, we have the Kiraling relationship.”
“Xara has nothing to worry about. I’m not about to succumb to Mona’s charms.”
“Joseph, don’t be so confident. What is it you soldiers say about battle plans? Ah, yes, ‘the enemy also gets a vote’, don’t be surprised if Mona tries to seduce you.”
“Well, why don’t you help me, by getting her out of here.”
“I’m working on it Joseph. Just give me a few more days.”
Well, it was longer than a “few more days.” And while I wasn’t certain at first that Mona was out to seduce me, I did notice that she was paying more attention to me. She liked to sit down with me and have long conversations, mostly about me. She questioned me about my background, how I grew up, where I grew up, my family, my education, that kind of thing. Including questions about my dating life (when I had one) and past girlfriends.
Once, when I was coming out of the shower wearing only my shorts, she stopped me, and looked me up and down, and all around, noting my scars.
“I have known many Terran men from your United States Military,” she said. “None of them had battle scars. Most of them told me they had gone to war, but you are the first one I’ve met who looks like he was in a war.”
“Well,” I said, “I was at the tip of the spear. They were probably at the other end.”
“These men,” she said, “All drove nice cars. They lived in nice houses or apartments. They had enough money to afford women like me. All of it paid for by your country. Joseph Ricci, your country has taken much from you. What has it given back?”
“Why Mona, are you trying to recruit me?”
She smiled at that and said, “No, though if I was, that would be a path I would explore.”
I excused myself to get dressed. What she asked me, that is something Johnson, Dixon and I used to talk about. Never anything serious, just part of our bitching about the officers who never went outside the wire.
Over the next few days, it became obvious that Mona was playing a game, with yours truly being the prize. Or playing piece. Mona would run into me when she was coming out of the shower, or her room, nude. When she knew I was watching she would put a little extra sway into her hips. In our conversations she would sit close and put a hand on my arm or thigh.
Under “normal” conditions she would have had me, easily. But my conditions were not “normal”. Gloria was always around, and Gloria was just as beautiful as Mona. And most nights I had a Velorian in my bed. Not only did I not give into temptation, I was hardly tempted at all.
Xara also picked up on the game, and she had her own way of playing. She asked me to go to dinner and a movie with her, and I did. We ate at a nice restaurant and then saw a romantic comedy. I was full from dinner, but Xara insisted we stop at the concession stand. We bought soft drinks and two large tubs of popcorn. I said we only needed one, but Xara said we should each have one. During the moving she ate all of hers and about three quarters of mine. The girl really likes popcorn.
She raised the armrest between us and leaned her head on my shoulder through most of the movie and held my hand when she wasn’t busy using hers to shovel popcorn into her mouth.
After the movie I drove her back to her dorm, and she asked me to come up to her room with her. I hesitated before answering her, and she saw that and said, “I’m not going to seduce you, Joe. I once promised you I’d never take you and I will keep that promise.”
So I went with her to her room and we stayed up most of the night talking, about anything and everything. As much as I know about the blondes, there is always something new to learn. I asked her about her ‘powers’.
“When you wear gold, how much of your strength do you lose?” I asked.
“Nearly all of it,” she replied. “Without gold, I’m barely aware of gravity. I mean, I know if I drop an object it will fall, but for the most part I don’t feel it. I see it’s affects, like when I’m flying and just let myself fall, but otherwise, on this planet, I’m not really aware of it the way you are.”
“How do you know how aware of it I am?” I asked.
“Because,” she said, “when I wear gold I can feel it, the same as you do.”
“I’ve been with both your mother and Sharon when they are wearing gold, and they’re still a lot stronger than me,” I said.
“That’s because our muscles are denser and more efficient than yours,” she answered.
“How much effort does it take to fly?” I asked.
She had been sitting on her bed, cross legged, and she floated up about a foot above it.
“In this gravity,” she said, “it’s barely any effort at all. If I’m close to the sun, I feel the effort. When I accelerate to relativistic speeds and approach the speed of light, I definitely feel it.”
“You’ve done that?!”
“A few times. Sharon has more experience doing that than either mom or I do. Earth isn’t her first assignment, and she’s made more trips through wormholes. Messengers do it a lot. You must have an extremely high velocity built up to escape the supermassive black holes that generate wormholes.
“What’s weird is time dilation. It messes with your head. When I was in seventh grade mom grounded me for two weeks for breaking curfew. I thought I’d only been gone for an hour. During that two weeks she made me learn relativistic mechanics. She drilled me until I could solve Einstein’s equations in my head and estimate my acceleration and velocity based on how much energy I was expending and the blue and red shift of the stars I could see.”
I left early the next morning thinking how easy it is to be with Xara. This, dinner and a movie with Xara, became a weekly event.
As the days went on Mona started to get a little stir crazy, so Gloria agreed to let her accompany me on my runs. And that meant Gloria running with us. So the three of us would go for long runs, with me huffing and puffing while Mona and Gloria kept up a steady conversation, not out of breath at all, not breaking a sweat, and then stuffing themselves with chocolate cake, chocolate brownies, chocolate candies, when we got home, and neither of them ever gaining so much as an ounce.
As the blondes and Gloria started trusting Mona more, she was allowed to accompany me on shopping trips, and running errands, with Gloria, of course, in tow. Whenever I was out with Gloria, she’d attract a lot of male attention, but she never paid any attention to it. Mona was different. Often, when she’d see the men turning to watch her, she’d saddle up to me and put her arm in mine, like boyfriend and girlfriend, and even lean into me. I asked her why she did that.
“Joe, don’t you enjoy having a beautiful young woman on your arm?”
“I do. Are you doing it for my benefit?”
She laughed and said, “No. I see how men look at me, and how they look at you. They look at me with lust and desire. They look at you with revulsion and it offends me. So, I make them jealous of you.”
Gloria chimed in, “You should see how they react when Sharon is on his arm.”
To: Arion High Command
From: Near Earth Command
Subject: Missing Agent Assumed KIA
Agent Mona ‘Sphore, previously reported as missing is now assumed to be KIA. She was reported missing after she missed three scheduled status updates. An operative was sent to Terra to investigate. He located and entered Agent ‘Sphore’s domicile and found everything in order. There were no signs of struggle. All her communication equipment and codebooks were found, with security seals intact, and retrieved.
It is NEC’s conclusion that Agent ‘Sphore was captured and killed by the Protector operating on Terra. As all her physical assets that would link her to NEC were found, intact and undisturbed, we can only conclude that she died honorably and did not betray NEC or The Empire.
We recommend Agent ‘Sphore be awarded the Medal of Service, posthumously, and will forward said recommendation and justification in near future.
Things were progressing nicely with Mona, and Kara was seriously considering recruiting her. To do what, I don’t know, Kara never shared that with me. But the day came when Mona was allowed to be out and about on her own, with instructions to run whatever errand she had, then immediately come back to the cabin. Of course, it wasn’t like she had a lot of freedom. She didn’t drive, so Gloria or I would take her to the mall, or store, or wherever she was going, and pick her up at a designated time. And these outings were all scheduled, so Mona never knew when or if when there was a Velorian high above her watching.
Gloria set up little tests for her. She’d have me take her shopping, leaving Mona alone in the cabin, with strict instructions to stay out of the basement. Then Gloria would monitor the cabin from a device she carried, Kelsorian technology she said, to make sure Mona behaved herself. And she did.
During all this, it came time for me to drive down to JBLM for my PT test. Which I passed, easily, thanks to Gloria’s fitness program. I was driving back to Bellingham, through Snohomish County, when I realized I was being followed. During my counterintelligence training it was stressed that we should always be practicing our surveillance detection skills. I had seen a car behind me while driving through Lakewood, and it stayed behind me all the way north. Well, lots of people drive from Tacoma and further south to Bellingham and beyond. In Marysville there was a little congestion, so I deliberately started to drive aggressively, changing lanes, speeding up, slowing down, to see if the car tried to keep up with me. It did. I was being followed.
Right then and there I should have called Kara or Gloria on the phone or used my watch to summon Kara. But I didn’t. I got off the freeway in Burlington and got onto Hwy 20 heading towards Sedro Woolley. The car got off with me, and as I drove out of Burlington, I saw there were two cars. Another opportunity to call for help, and I didn’t take it. On a quiet section of the highway the first car came up fast from behind, pulled in front and cut me off, and I went off onto the shoulder to avoid a collision. The driver of this car was good, he pulled in front of me so I couldn’t go forward, and then the second car pulled up behind me.
Should have called for help. Shoulda coulda woulda. Four guys got out of the two cars, all pointing guns at me, and yelled at me to keep my right hand on the wheel and unlock the door with my left hand. As soon as I did one of them opened the door and told me to get out with my hands above my head. I started to move my right hand towards my watch and got a gun in my face and told to put my hands above my head. Gun in my face. Three others pointed at me. I did as I was told.
One of the guys pulled my hands down behind my back and secured them there with zip ties. Then they opened the trunk of the first car, there was something in there wrapped up in a tarp, and they threw me in it and closed the lid. I heard car doors close, and we started moving.
My hands were secured very tightly behind my back. I kept working them to get to the buttons on my watch but all I succeeded in doing is rubbing my wrists raw.
It was a tight fit in the trunk. Whatever was wrapped in the tarp was bulky, but not too hard. We drove for about 45 minutes, I kept time by counting to myself, and I kept track of, to the best of my ability, the number of turns we made. Towards the end of the drive there were a lot of turns, and we drove over bumpy roads, unpaved, I think. There was quite a bit of jostling.
When the car stopped, they opened the trunk and pulled me out, and when I looked down back into the trunk, I saw a bare foot sticking out of the tarp. I’d been riding with a corpse.
We were in a wooded area and, as I looked around, I saw that we did come up an unpaved track. There was a trailer, like a worksite construction trailer, that they brought me into. They sat me down on a chair, and there, in front of me, was Josh Gilly.
“Hello Joe, nice to see you again,” he said.
“Can’t say the same,” I replied. “Why am I here?”
“Right to the point, I like that,” he said. “So here’s the deal Joe, I need to find Danni. We’ve been having a hell of a time finding her, or following her when we do find her, so I need you to tell me where she is.”
“I don’t know where she is,” I said.
“Well, that may be true Joe, or it may not. But I’m sure you can give us enough information to track her down. We know she spends time at your cabin, and in her dorm, and going to classes. But she seems to have quite the schedule. So tell us, Joe, how can we find her.”
“I don’t think I will,” I said.
He picked up a broom stick that had a sharp point whittled onto one end. And notches carved into it, at an angle. There were blood stains on it.
“I know you’re a tough guy Joe. Your military awards and decorations attest to that. But Joe, I don’t think you’re going to care too much for the sheik here.”
“The what?” I asked.
“I don’t know where the name came from, or if it means anything. But let me tell you, from what I’ve seen, from others who came before you, you really don’t want to have a date with the sheik.
“Now, where’s Danni? How do we find her?”
I didn’t say anything.
“Last chance, Joe, before things start getting ugly.”
Usually this is where I’d make a joke about it being impossible to make me any uglier than I already am. But looking around the trailer, seeing Josh and five other guys there, all of them armed, I thought discretion would be the better part of valor and kept my mouth shut.
“You’re going to tell us Joe. Either the easy way or the hard way.”
I didn’t have to think hard about this. I could tell them where to find Xara, and if they tried anything with her, they’d get a rude surprise. But I was also sure that if I did tell them I’d very quickly end up like the corpse in the trunk. So I kept my mouth shut and opted for the hard way.
“Alright,” said Josh. And he turned to one of his associates and said, “Get him ready.”
Two guys pulled out their handguns and pointed them at me. Two other guys, one on either side of me, pulled me to my feet. A third guy behind me cut the zip ties, and my hands were free. The two guys who were holding me, and the one behind me, pushed me towards a table. While they were doing this I managed to push the button combination on my watch to signal Kara that I needed her.
The bench had a U shaped bar bolted to the top of the table. They pulled my arms in front of me, bent me over the table and handcuffed me to the bar.
My hands were stretched out in front of me and cuffed. I was bent at the waste, stomach on the table. It was supporting most of my weight. One of the guys used a knife, I think, I couldn’t see him, to cut through my belt and slit my pants down the rear, then they pulled my pants and underwear down around my ankles.
Josh waved the sharp end of the broomstick in front of my face and said, “Last chance before we begin Joe, tell me how to find Danni.”
I didn’t say anything. He gave the stick to one of the guys and said, “Have it your way. You can stop this anytime you want by telling me how to find Danni.”
I didn’t say anything.
Josh handed the broomstick to one of his guys and said, “Have at it.”
Two guys pulled my pants and underwear off me, then tied ropes around my ankles. They tied the other ends of the ropes to the table legs, after putting enough tension on them to pull my legs apart.
I felt the sharp end of the broom against my asshole, and the guy was just starting to push it in when Josh said, “Wait!” He came around the end of the table, where my hands were cuffed, and took my watch off my wrist.
“Nice watch Joe. Did Danni give this to you?”
“No. Her mom gave it to me.”
“Does it keep good time?”
I just looked up and glared at him. He looked at his guy and said, “Go ahead.”
And then the sharp end of the stick was in my rectum, and going up my rectum, and I screamed, because it hurt like hell. And all of a sudden Johnson and Dixon were there, telling me to man up and encouraging me show no weakness to these bastards. That’s easy to say when you aren’t the one getting a stick shoved up your ass. But I tried, I really did, to keep it all in. But I couldn’t. I screamed. The thing was going in and out, and it was getting slick, I suppose with my blood. And every time it went in further. And then I knew what the notches were for. They were like the barbs on an arrowhead.
After what seemed like an hour, but was probably only two minutes, Josh put his hand up and the guy stopped the thrusting. “Have anything to say Joe?”
“Fuck you! Fuck you fuck you fuck you!” I yelled.
“Okay,” he said to me. And then to his guy, “Keep going.”
The pain was tremendous. And I screamed some more. And Johnson and Dixon were telling me to hang on, not to give up hope. And then, after about another minute of this, Josh said, “Hey, your watch is vibrating Joe. Does it have an alarm function?”
And then I started laughing. Oh, every thrust of that fucking stick still hurt like hell, but now I had hope.
“Hey Josh,” I said between thrusts, “You don’t have to find Danni. She’s coming to you.”
He signaled his guy to stop.
“What does that mean, Joe?”
“Just what I said asshole. You don’t have to find her; she’s going to find you. Very soon I think.”
“I’d like to believe that Joe, but I don’t think you’re being straight with me,” he said, and then to his guy, “Push it up higher.”
And the guy did. And it hurt more than anything else he’d done to that point, but I knew Kara was coming, all I had to do was hold on.
“They’re ramming a stick up my ass,” I shouted.
“We know that Joe,” said Josh. And then, “Hey, the watch is vibrating again. How do you make it stop?”
And then the guy pushed the stick in harder and faster, and I screamed as I felt something inside me tear, and he did it twice more, and then there was a bang and the door to the trailer exploded open, and there was Xara, and she was pissed.
From my position I couldn’t see everything that happened, but the pressure came off the stick and I heard a sound like someone being thrown against a wall behind me. And then there were gunshots and Xara was covering my body to protect me, and then there were screams and the gunshots stopped.
Xara got off me and I looked around, Sharon and Kara were there. They were picking up Josh and his guys and throwing them into a corner like they were ragdolls. Crushed pistols littered the floor.
All three of the blondes gathered around me. The looks on their faces … I could see concern for me, and something else, anger. I could almost feel the anger radiating from them. Xara broke the cuffs off my wrists while Kara and Sharon snapped the ropes that were tied to my legs. I started to slide off the table, but before I got too far one of them stopped the slide while the other two looked me over.
“Xara, you’re right, I do have a stick up my ass!” That had Dixon and Johnson rolling on the floor with laughter. Not so much with the Velorians.
One of them, Kara I think, took hold of the stick, and started to pull it out and I screamed. She stopped pulling and Xara said, “Mom, he’s got internal injuries. I think we should get Gloria and have her pull it out.”
“But he’s bleeding Xara, and he’s lost a lot of blood already. Sharon, get Gloria.”
Then I heard some movement, then a muffled grunt, and Xara said, “Try that again and I’ll tear the legs off this table and shove it so far up your ass that it’ll come out your mouth.”
Xara grabbed the U-shaped bar on the table and pulled it off, then she and Kara lifted me onto the table and laid me on my left side. They were trying to be careful, but it still hurt.
Kara came around to where I could see her and said, “Gloria is on her way Joseph, we’ll get you taken care of.”
I said, “Johnson and Dixon are here Kara.”
She replied, “Well, let’s solve one problem at a time Joseph. Are you in much pain?”
“It hurts,” I said, “But not as much as when they were shoving it into me.”
On the table, laying on my side, I could see Josh and his 5 thugs huddled in a corner, looking scared.
“Kara,” I said, “there’s a body in one of the cars.”
Xara left, then came in a minute later and walked up to Josh and lifted him up by his arms and slammed him against a wall. “What the fuck Josh! What did she ever do to you!”
Josh just sputtered and tried to free himself. “Fuck you Danni!” He yelled, then tried to hit her. Not much success with that, she was too close and hanging onto his arms, so he couldn’t get any room for a punch, so he head butted her. Right on the bridge of her nose, which only made him yelp with pain.
Xara said, “You’re lucky my mom is here. If it were just me, I’d pull your limbs off and burn this place down with you in it!”
“Xara, who is it in the car?” Kara asked.
“My neighbor, from the dorm,” Xara replied.
Xara stepped back a little, then slammed Josh into the wall three times, knocking the wind out of him with a grunt each time, then threw him back into the corner, on top of his friends.
“Mom,” Xara said, “Betty’s parents are going to be devastated. They have to pay for this.”
“They will,” said Kara, and the anger in her voice was unmistakable.
A moment later Sharon walked into the trailer with Mona and Gloria. Gloria was naked. When she saw the look of surprise on my face Sharon explained, “Mona rode in a pod, Gloria rode on top of the pod. Her clothes wouldn’t have survived the trip, so she took them off first.”
Gloria said, “I’ll dress after you’re in stable condition.”
Dixon said, “Don’t dress on my account.”
Johnson added, “What a fine-looking woman!”
I told them to shut up.
Mona asked me who I was telling to shut up. I waved over towards Dixon and Johnson and said, “Them.”
While Gloria examined me, with Xara using her tachyon vision to see through my body to where the stick was, Sharon and Kara huddled together. Every now and then one would look over at the thugs, I was pretty sure they were discussing what to do with them. Then Sharon left.
“Sharon is going to bring the other pods,” Kara told Xara.
Gloria said, “The bleeding has stopped, but if I remove the stick it will start up again and he may bleed out. He needs surgery to safely remove the stick and control his blood loss.”
“Can he ride in a pod?” asked Kara.
“No,” Gloria replied. “He’d have to straighten out and that would risk more damage.”
“Okay,” said Kara. “We’ll use one of the cars to transport him. Xara, see what you can do to make one suitable.”
“I’ll help,” said Mona, and she followed Xara out the door.
While they talked, Gloria dressed and, looking over at the thugs, asked, “What happens to them?”
“I have a plan,” Kara said angrily, “and they won’t like it.”
Sharon came in the door and came up to Gloria and Kara. Kara told her to buy cold weather gear, jackets, boots, gloves, for the thugs. And some lanterns and fire starter kits, a compass and freeze dried food. Sharon looked them over, then left.
When all the blondes were finally back, Kara told them her plan. Xara said, “But mom, Betty’s parents will never have closure if they just disappear.”
Sharon said, “I think we can help with that.” She walked over to the thugs and kicked one of them. “Do you all have police records?” When they didn’t answer she pulled her foot back to kick again, and that was enough to convince them to answer. Yes, they all said, they all had police records.
“Are your fingerprints on record?” She asked.
They all said yes.
I’m leaving a bit out. They were all scared and asking what the blondes were going to do with them, asking who they were, and doing more than a little begging for mercy. For the most part, the blondes ignored them. Like I said, they were scared, and then it got worse, for them.
Sharon found the knife the guy who’d cut off my pants used. She asked the thugs if they were left or right-handed. They all said they were right-handed. Then she grabbed one and pulled him over to the table, forced his left hand onto it, separated his fingers, and cut off his pinky finger at the lowest knuckle. He screamed, then screamed some more when she used her heat vision to cauterize the wound.
When the other five saw this, they panicked. Two of them got up and tried to run, but Mona easily cut them off and threw one of them back in the corner and pushed the other one into Sharon’s waiting arms.
She pulled him over to the table, ignoring his pleas for mercy, and cut off his finger and cauterized it. She threw him back in the pile and grabbed another one. This one fought as hard as he could and pulled a knife. He slashed at Sharon with it, and it just slid off her skin. She grabbed his right hand, the one holding the knife, and used it to cut off the left pinky finger. Then she threw him, hard, back into the corner. He hit the wall above the others and slid down. I don’t think he was injured too badly, but the wind was definitely knocked out of him and it took him a minute to get his breathing under control.
During all this Josh had been trying to bargain, offering a large sum of money if the blondes would let them go. The offered sum kept getting larger and reached its peak when Sharon brought him to the table.
“In cash?” Sharon asked, “That you have quick and easy access to?”
“Yes!” Josh said, “It’s nearby. Let me go and it’s all yours.”
“Since you’re the leader,” Sharon said, “I’m taking two fingers, and then, if you don’t want me to take your cock and balls, you’ll tell me where your money is.”
Josh pleaded and cried, and then Kara said, “Sharon, stop!”
Sharon looked at Kara quizzically; Josh, relieved, said, “Thank you,” and broke down into tears of gratitude.
Kara pointed to Josh’s wrist and said, “That isn’t yours,” and took the wristwatch off him, then said to Sharon, “That’s all, I just wanted to make sure Joseph’s watch didn’t get broken.”
Sharon pressed his hand down and spread out his fingers. Josh screamed, “No!” And then screamed again when Sharon sliced off his fingers. Then Sharon asked him where his money was, holding the knife, low, pointed at his crotch, and Josh told her.
I asked Xara why Sharon cut off their fingers. She said they’d send the fingers to the police, with directions to find Betty’s body and assurances that the men responsible for her death had been punished.
“How are you going to punish them, Xara?”
“Are you familiar with stories from the bible, about people who fasted in the desert?” She asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“Something like that. They will have an opportunity to reflect on the choices they have made, on the people they have hurt, repent for what they have done, and do the ultimate penance.”
I found out later that this was some kind of religious thing for the blondes, and while the ultimate penance may or may not get them forgiveness from whatever deities there were, it would not save their lives.
While all this was going on Johnson and Dixon were carrying on a conversation about it, and I’d interject from time to time. Mona asked me who I was talking to and I pointed to Johnson and Dixon and apologized for being rude and introduced them. Mona started to say something, but Gloria interrupted her and said, “Just go with it.”
The last two thugs were sitting on the floor crying. Any fight they had in them was long gone. Sharon pointed to one and said, “Come here,” and he tried to get up, but his legs gave out and he crawled over to her on his hands and knees. She reached down and pulled him up and he started wailing. His screams went up in pitch when she cut his finger off and cauterized it. She threw him back into the pile and advanced on the last one and he fainted. It didn’t make any difference to her. She dragged him to the table and cut off his finger, which woke him up.
After she had finished her impromptu surgeries, Sharon threw the clothing she had bought down in front of the thugs and told them to put it on. One of them refused. He was trying to reclaim some dignity, I guess. Sharon just shrugged.
After they had put on the gear, the blondes each took one and brought them outside. This served to increase their panic, they were begging for their lives at this point. I asked Mona what was happening, and she said they were loading them into pods and leaving. For some reason, this convinced the thug who hadn’t put on the clothes Sharon brought to change his mind.
The blondes were gone for about half an hour. During this time, the remaining three tried to bargain with Gloria. She told them they disgusted her. When the blondes got back, they loaded the final three thugs into the pods and took off with them.
When the blondes returned it was my turn. Gloria and Xara carefully lifted me off the table and took me out to one of the cars. The front seats had been torn out, their backs removed, and the seats replaced, up against the backseat so it was like a bed. Lumpy in places, but there was enough room to set me down without forcing me to straighten my back and legs.
Gloria got in with me, then poked me with a syringe.
Kara, Sharon and Xara flew the pods, with the men in them, deep into the Canadian Rockies. They landed in a snow field, opened the pods, and pulled the men out. Xara told them to stay put until they returned, then the Velorians left with the pods, came back to the trailer, loaded the other three men into them and flew back to the same snowfield.
Once all the men and the equipment had been emptied out of the pods Kara used her heat vision to melt a compass rose into the ice and snow. She then used her heat vision to draw three arrows.
Pointing at each arrow in turn, she said, “This one points to Calgary, this one to Vancouver, and the last one to Bellingham.”
Josh asked Xara, “Where are we Danni? What are you going to do with us?”
Xara answered, “You’re on Mt. Vestal in the Canadian Rockies. We’re not going to do anything with you. You have lanterns, a compass, fire starter and enough food for three days.”
“Where are we going to find wood to burn?” Josh asked.
“These mountains are surrounded by forests,” Said Kara. “How you get to them is up to you. If I ever see you again, I’ll kill you.” She looked at the other men and said, “That goes for the rest of you.”
And with that the Velorians flew off with the pods, leaving the six men behind.
In late May 2173, Xara, and Kara were in Washington DC for their annual meeting with the U.S. Government and military. They always stayed for a couple of extra days so they could meet up with Sharon and Gloria on Memorial Day and make the trip to Arlington to visit Joe and Joe Junior’s graves.
Xara was absent mindedly looking through the news vids in the hotel room she was sharing with Kara when something caught her attention. Part way through a story, she paused it and called her mother over, so she could see it too.
According to the news story, about sixty years prior a set human remains had been found in the Canadian Rockies by a group of climbers. This set off something of a controversy, as under current treaties with the indigenous people of Canada, any remains thought to be indigenous belonged to the First People and were to be treated as sacred. However, Canadian authorities didn’t think these were indigenous remains, or at least there was no proof that they were, and so the remains were tied up in court for years until finally, in a concession over other matters, the tribes gave permission for the remains to be studied by scientists.
After several years of study and developing new techniques to tease DNA out of bone and tooth fragments, the remains were identified as belonging to a criminal, wanted for murder, by the name of Josh Gilly, who had disappeared over 150 years ago, and one of his known associates.
Shitting into a bag. There is no way to do that in a dignified manner.
I remember drifting in and out of consciousness, opening my eyes and seeing blurry shapes, except for Dixon and Johnson; I saw them very clearly. I remember trying to talk, but then falling back to sleep.
Finally, I opened my eyes, and my vision cleared, and I was looking into the smiling faces of three Velorians and two Arions looking down at me. Johnson and Dixon were standing in a corner, not doing much of anything.
Xara picked up my hand and held it, and it was then that I noticed all kinds of tubes coming into my body. I tried to sit up, but Gloria put a hand on my chest and told me to stay down.
“Where am I?” I asked.
“You’re in a hospital, Joseph,” answered Kara.
“St. Joseph’s?” I asked.
“No, Joseph. You’re at a special medical facility, one that I own. Look out the window.”
The blondes stepped aside so I could see out the window. Wherever I was, was on a lake, surrounded by snow, though the lake didn’t appear to be frozen. It was very beautiful.
“So, where am I?” I asked.
“In Switzerland, Joseph,” said Kara, “that’s Lake Lucerne.”
“Why am I here?”
“Because I didn’t want police or government officials getting involved and asking questions. The staff here is loyal to me and very discreet.”
I felt something under the covers, reached for it, and Gloria grabbed my wrist and said, “Be careful Joe.”
“What am I being careful of?” I asked.
“Your rectum and colon sustained a great deal of damage,” she said. “You’ve had a colostomy, your colon above the damaged area has been diverted to empty into a colostomy bag.”
I must have looked shocked because Gloria quickly added, “It’s not permanent. Your surgeon says it will take at least four weeks for you to heal, then your lower and upper colon will be reattached. But until then you need to take it easy and rest.”
I’m not going to go into all the details. Suffice it to say that since the colon was separated well above my sphincter muscles, the bag filled … whenever. I had no control over that. And even though the nurses assigned to me taught me how to change the bag, Xara insisted on doing it herself whenever she was there, which was a lot. She basically left me to attend classes, then returned with her books and what not and studied in my room. It was a large room, as far as hospital rooms go, and she had a bed.
Kara decided for the time being to have Gloria and Mona stay at the hospital with me, so between them and Xara, I always had the company of a beautiful Supremis. Not that it made for anything interesting. Xara was still too young, Gloria had no sexual interest in me, at all, and Mona, though she occasionally dropped hints, was, technically, a prisoner, and being a member of the U.S. Army, I was obligated to observe the formalities of the Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Convention. And, of course, that damn bag.
And there was one other thing. I was back on my meds, which meant that I was, again, impotent, which I was thankful for whenever Xara insisted on changing my catheter. Which was every time it was changed.
I was on my meds. And I was seeing and hearing Dixon and Johnson. And Xara was around enough that my exposure to her should have been working on me. But the meds weren’t working. And truth be told, I was starting to have feelings like I had before I met the blondes. Those feelings that dragged me down to that very dark place.
The ladies recognized the signs, and Kara brought in a psychiatrist from Walter Reed to talk to me. Someone who saw me when I was first sent there, at the end of my last deployment.
This time there was no evasion, no beating around the bush. I told her straight up what I was feeling, who I was seeing and talking to, and what we were talking about. She asked me what had happened to me since she had last seen me. I was hesitant at first, but Kara assured me I was free to talk to her about anything and everything, except that first meeting in the cave. And my Velorian abduction. I thought those were particularly important details and shouldn’t be left out, but Kara insisted. No one on earth (or Terra as she called it) was to learn about my confrontations with the Arions.
I started out talking to her by myself for several sessions. In between, she had sessions with the blondes and Gloria, and finally we had two sessions with all of us. Xara sat beside me, holding my hand, during those sessions. And Sharon kept making googly eyes at the psychiatrist, who was, much to Sharon’s disappointment, in a committed relationship.
I had scans of my body and brain done. In the end, she attributed my condition to be the result of the physical trauma I’d suffered and predicted, correctly as it turned out, that my medication would eventually start working again, and so would whatever it was my exposure to the blondes was doing.
She also said that as soon as I was able to get into a wheelchair I should be taken outside for fresh air and to enjoy the view of the lake.
I started out on an intravenous diet with small amounts of liquid, ice chips actually, by mouth until the doctors were satisfied that my digestive system was working again. Then they switched me to a liquid diet for a few days, until my colostomy bag began filling, then I started getting solid foods.
About ten days into my hospital stay Gloria and Xara helped me into a wheelchair and wrapped me up in warm blankets to take me outside to get some fresh air. It was cold, but the blankets kept me warm, and it was nice to get out of my hospital room. We’d been outside for about ten minutes when Kara floated down out of the sky and asked Xara and Gloria if she could have some alone time with me. So Xara and Gloria left and it was just me, Kara, Johnson and Dixon.
“How are you feeling Joseph?”
“My ass has stopped hurting, so pretty good, all things considered.” Dixon and Johnson thought that was funny. So did I. Kara, maybe not so much.
“Joseph,” she said, “let’s talk about how this situation with Josh and his friends could have been handled better.”
“Look Kara, I know I could have signaled you as soon as I realized I was being followed. And I really wish I had. But I had no idea who was following me, or why, and I wanted to get some more information before I called in the calvary.”
“Calvary Joseph? That’s an interesting metaphor. I think, going forward, calling ‘the calvary’ should be your first action, not your last. Despite the pain you suffered, and I know it was a lot of pain Joseph, Josh and his fellows presented no challenge to us. If you had been taken by Arions, it would have been quite different.”
“Kara, when am I likely to run into Arions?”
“Joseph, did you expect to run into drug dealers?”
“Touché. All right, in the future I’ll call you, first sign of trouble.”
“Very good Joseph. That’s all I ask. Well, not all.”
She reached into her cape and pulled out a card for me. It was a Washington State concealed carry permit.
“This will be waiting for you when you return home, along with one from every jurisdiction in the U.S. that issues them. From now on, unless you are with one of us, I want you to carry a weapon with you whenever you leave the cabin. Gloria will help you pick appropriate firearms and holsters for various occasions.”
She reached into her cape and pulled out a pen.
“You’ll also carry this on your person,” she said.
“Kara, I have plenty of pens. Why do I need that one?”
Kara clicked the button. It wasn’t a pen.
“Holy crap, Kara! A miniature lightsaber!”
She laughed and said, “Not exactly. This uses GAR technology.”
When she clicked the button, a three-inch beam shot out of the end, and stayed there. Like a miniature lightsaber. She picked up the corner of one of my blankets and brought the end of the beam down to just above it. Then she lowered it a little bit and it cut right through the blanket, and she moved it sideways and cut the corner off.
“This will do a great deal of damage to a Beta, it is useless against a Prime.” And she demonstrated by wrapping her hand around the beam. It didn’t even tickle her.
“Against a Terran, this will be a formidable weapon. Gloria will train you in its use.”
Bed rest is very boring. Xara brought in some puzzles that we worked on together, and Kara kept me supplied with reading material. There are a lot of American TV shows on Swiss TV, mostly dubbed, so that wasn’t too interesting. Sharon brought in a DVD player and hooked it up to the TV, then we watched some of her personal favorites, which were all hardcore porn. I laid there red faced in my hospital bed while the ladies critiqued the techniques of the various actors and actresses.
I was very happy when the day came that the doctors said it was time for me to get up and start walking around. That meant I could lose the catheter, though I still had my shit bag. Oh, and I had to pee into a bottle. The doctors and the nurses wanted to measure everything going into and coming out of me. This made sense when I was attached to IV bags and a catheter. I even suggested that it would be more efficient to take out the middleman and just drain the IV bags into a bottle. The doctors and nurses had all heard that one before and didn’t think I was funny. Dixon and Johnson did, but not the medical staff.
Gloria and Mona would let me walk around on my own, but not Xara. If she were there, she’d walk with me. I tried to tell her she didn’t have to, but she wanted to, or at least she said she did. It was on one of those walks that I ran into Sharon and Sarah.
“Captain Moore, it’s great to see you!”
“Not Captain anymore sergeant. It’s Major Moore now. Major Aldrich has moved on and I’ve been promoted into his position.”
“Did he get a promotion?”
“No,” she said, “he made a lateral move.”
“Will I be dealing with someone else now?”
“No sergeant, you’re still stuck with me. Now tell me, how is it you came to be here. Kara wouldn’t give me details and Sharon said I’d have to hear it from you.”
So I told her what happened. She was very sympathetic, but also critical of me for not calling for help immediately on recognizing that I was being followed. I told her I’d already gone over that with Kara, and it won’t happen again.
And then she wanted me to tell her about Dixon and Johnson. And they were standing right there. Johnson even saluted her. I told her I didn’t want to talk about them. Sharon tried to talk me into it, but Xara, God (or whoever the Velorians pray to) bless her, stepped right up and told Sharon and Major Moore that my friends were a very sensitive topic for me, and if I didn’t want to talk about them, I shouldn’t be pressured to. And when I say, ‘stepped up’, I mean that literally. She physically interposed herself between me and Sharon and Major Moore and delivered her message in a tone that communicated that she would brook no argument.
To their credit, Sharon and Sarah dropped the subject immediately and continued the walk with me, talking about the area, the Swiss, mostly small stuff. They couldn’t keep their hands off each other, and I was about to jokingly tell them to get a room when the idea to do so apparently occurred to them. After they left, I thanked Xara for helping me out with the Dixon and Johnson thing.
“You’re welcome Joe. I try to have your back.” She said this while holding my hand.
“I see that Xara, and I’m very grateful.”
Then she turned into me and kissed me, on the lips. It was a nice kiss, a very nice kiss. But it wasn’t long, and when we broke it, I could see her face was flushed.
I think I’m falling in love.
You have a colostomy. And after weeks going from no diet to a liquid diet to solid foods and going from total bedrest to sitting in a wheelchair to walking, all with a shit bag attached to your side, the day finally arrives when they reverse the procedure, remove the shit bag, and reattach your colon. And what comes next? No diet, followed by a liquid diet, with lots of bedrest before going on a solid diet and being able to get out of bed. And then the embarrassment when everything in your digestive tract is working properly and you’re sitting on a toilet while three beautiful women are standing outside the closed door, looking through it, watching you take a shit.
The days just seemed to meld together and one day I was surprised to notice that Xara wasn’t leaving to attend her classes.
“It’s winter break, silly,” she said when I asked her about it.
“Wait! What? Did I miss Thanksgiving?”
“I guess you did,” she answered.
Sometime between the Thanksgiving I missed and the start of winter break there were three days when I didn’t see any of the blondes, even Xara. I asked Gloria about this and she said, “There’s a Messenger in town.”
At the end of the three days the blondes were back, and they brought the Messenger with them, it was Skar-El, whom I hadn’t seen in quite a while. He seemed happy to see me and, since he spoke no English, it was an opportunity to practice my Velorian with someone who didn’t have an English frame of reference. He laughed a couple of times (the blondes all managed to keep a straight face) and when I asked him what was funny, he said I was mixing tenses and cases and word order. Xara said she’d help me with that.
Anyway, this was more than a social visit. He had news for me, and the blondes were almost bursting, waiting for him to get it out, which was going slowly because of the Velorian/English thing. Finally, Xara couldn’t stand it and told me.
“The Senate wants to give you an Award Joe!”
“Really? What for?” Kara was translating for Skar-El and he nearly busted a gut laughing.
He said something to me, and I made out the word, “modesty”, but couldn’t catch the rest.
Kara said, “He said your modesty does you credit.”
She said something back to him, and I picked more of it up. Something about me being unfamiliar with Supremis politics.
At this point Sharon stepped in. “Joe, when you broke up that ...” Kara shouted, “Sharon! Stop!” and Sharon shut her mouth.
“Mona,” Kara said, “Please go down to the cafeteria and have your lunch.”
Mona said, “I’m not hungry. I want to hear this.”
Gloria said, “You can’t. Go. Now.”
Johnson and Dixon were carrying on, but the rest of us waited in silence until Kara was certain Mona was far enough away that she wouldn’t be able to hear.
“Okay, Sharon,” she said.
Sharon said, “When you broke up that Arion capture attempt, the Arions made a complaint through back channels claiming that I was responsible. That kicked off an investigation by Alla’na, who kidnapped you. Well, she was investigated, and the investigation revealed a cabal of highly placed Velorians who believe Terran worlds are not worth fighting for and should be left to the Arions.”
“They want to surrender to the Arions?” I asked.
“No,” Kara said. “They want us to fight the Arions, directly, and not spend resources or lives defending Terrans.”
“And the Senate is just bowled over by the idea that the discovery of this conspiracy resulted from the actions of a Terran, and they want to give you an award for it,” said Xara.
“And there’s more,” said Sharon. “Kara is too modest to blow her own horn, but she has now been recognized by the Senate as the legitimate Protector of Terra, original home of all human species. This is a very prestigious position for her.”
I turned to Kara and asked, “What does this mean for you, Kara?”
“It means I’ll get some help from Velor, Joseph. Maybe even another Protector to help me,” she said.
“And I’m being recognized too,” said Xara.
“What does that mean?” I asked her.
“That I’m not considered a bastard and abomination anymore,” she said, with emotion in her voice.
Skar-El was listening to all this, Gloria was interpreting for him, and he started talking, and pointing to me. He was talking so fast I could barely follow him.
“Right!” said Xara. “The Senate wants to send an envoy to present you with your award, Joe.”
“A Velorian Senator is coming here to see me?” I asked.
“Not exactly,” said Kara. “You’re being asked to travel to another Terran world, a world aligned with Velor, to get the award. A Velorian Senator traveling here would attract a lot of attention. The Senate still wants to keep our activities here under the radar, so to speak.”
“I’m going to another planet?” I couldn’t believe this.
“You are Joe!” Exclaimed Xara. And then she kissed me. Then Skar-El held out his hand and I shook it, and suddenly Kara and Sharon were crying.
“Why the tears?” I asked.
Sharon answered me. “Kara has been working here in obscurity for so long, with very little support from Velor. She deserves this recognition and I thought she’d never get it.”
Janelle was losing patience with the gangs. She had killed two more who were extorting businesses in her neighborhood and they just weren’t getting the hint. And to make matters worse, they were threatening people that she was coming to think of as friends. Or if not friends, beloved pets.
As what she thought of as her veterinary practice, what the locals called her medical practice, grew, she was getting to know the people of this neighborhood better, and she liked them. She could only vaguely remember the last time she had to prepare a meal for herself. The locals of this neighborhood, many of whom could not afford to pay her, were constantly bringing her prepared dishes, or inviting her to dinner or family parties and sending her home with leftovers. And while she had always told the frails … people, she needed to think of them as people … to be discrete about what she did for them, word was getting around that she could provide protection from the gangs.
The woman sitting before her now, in tears, was telling her about a gang problem. They had come to see her oldest son, a boy of 16, and told him it was time to become a man and join the gang. He didn’t want to, but they were threatening his family. His mother was afraid for him and was asking for help.
“Siniora,” Janelle said, “is that your son in the waiting room?”
“Yes senorita,” she replied.
Janelle went to the door of the waiting room and called the young man in.
“What is your name?” she asked him.
“Juan,” he answered.
“Juan, your mother has told me the gangs are trying to recruit you. Do you want to join the gangs?”
Juan looked down at the floor and said, “No senorita, I do not. But I am afraid, they said they would hurt my family.”
“When will you see the gang members again?”
“They are coming to our home tomorrow night, to take me to a meeting.”
“I see,” said Janelle.
Janelle turned to the boy’s mother and said, “Get your family and bring them all here. Do not be afraid, I will take care of the gangs.”
Turning to Juan, she said, “Stay here with me until your family returns.”
While the boy’s mother returned home to get her family Janelle called Miguel.
When Miguel arrived, Janelle explained the situation to him and asked if Juan’s family could stay with his family. Miguel agreed. Then Janelle had Miguel drop the family off at his home, then take Janelle out of town, into the forest.
Janelle had spent some weekends exploring the forest and marking the locations of abandoned mining and timber camps. She knew the perfect location for what she had in mind.
It was an old, abandoned repair facility in the middle of an area that had once been logged. The building had three repair pits. One of them was directly under and parallel to a support beam that ran the length of the building. There were plenty of sturdy benches she could use, several long 2x6s that would suit her needs, and plenty of flammables she could throw into the pit. She had Miguel drive her back into town, to a rental business where she rented a van. Then she and Miguel went shopping for ropes.
The next evening Janelle sat in the van, just down the street from the apartment building Juan’s family lived in. Just after dusk, three men appeared and entered the building. When they left the building fifteen minutes later Janelle heard one of them talking on his cell phone, telling the person he’d called that the family wasn’t home. She stepped out of the van and approached the men, asking if they were looking for Juan. They said they were. She told them he was in the back of the van and asked them to follow her. She was wearing a nice, low cut dress, with heels, and the men readily came with her, no questions asked. She nearly laughed aloud, thinking how easy it was.
She opened the rear doors of the van, and as the men peered into it, she simply tapped each of them on the back of the head, hard enough to disorient them, but not so hard to cause permanent damage. Then it was a simple matter of throwing them into the van and tying them up and gagging them.
She took their phones and checked the phone of the man who had made the call she overheard. The phone was still unlocked. She quickly entered the security settings and turned locking off. She then crushed the other two phones, tossed the remains on the street, and incinerated them with her heat vision.
She drove the van into the forest, to the repair facility. She undressed, leaving her clothing in the van, then took the men out, one at a time, and brought them into the facility.
She had prepared the facility by tying several ropes into nooses. She put a noose around the neck of each man, threw the ends of the ropes over the beam above the pit, then placed the 2x6 over the middle of the pit, running lengthwise. The 2x6 was long enough so that about four feet of each end rested on the concrete floor that surrounded the pit.
She stripped the men of their clothing, then positioned them on the 2x6, with their hands tied behind their backs and their feet tied at their ankles. Then she pulled on the ends of each rope, so the man at the other end of it would have to stand up, on the balls of his feet, to keep the noose from tightening around his neck. She tied her ends of the ropes to one of the heavy benches.
She had taken the gags off the men so they could talk to her, plead with her, threaten her, try to bargain with her, all for her entertainment. She left them like that and went back to the van, dressed, and drove back to Miguel’s home and picked up Juan.
“Where are we going senorita?” he asked.
“Out into the forest, Juan, so I can show you how I deal with the gangs. I’m going to teach you a very important lesson: fear me more than you fear the gangs. If you do, I will protect you, and your family.”
Juan didn’t know how to respond, so he just nodded and kept quiet for the rest of the drive.
When they reached their destination, Janelle undressed and then laughed at the shocked look on Juan’s face. “Don’t be embarrassed,” she said. “These clothes are too expensive to ruin while I play.”
Juan didn’t understand that at all; she was going to play?
They walked into the facility, and when the men saw them, they started cursing her, and ordering Juan to release them, or they’d kill him and his family. Janelle just laughed.
The yelling and cursing and threatening continued while Janelle pointed out the men’s restraints and showed him that the pit was full of flammable debris.
“Now,” she said, “I’m going to untie their legs. It’s much more entertaining to watch them dance.”
She put down another 2x6, perpendicular to and laying on the one the men were standing on. She walked over; Juan was surprised at how easily she kept her balance, and untied the legs of the men. One tried to kick her and nearly came off the 2x6, but Janelle steadied him and said, “Not yet little plaything. Be patient.”
She pulled the board she used to cross over the pit out of the way. Then, using her heat vision, she lit the debris in the pit. The fire started slowly, but there was enough smoke to get into the eyes of the men and make them uncomfortable. As the flames built up, it dawned on the men what was happening, and they began pleading with Janelle, and with Juan. To have mercy on them, to free them. To let them go home to their families.
Juan was mortified, Janelle was giggling. The boy started retching and it wasn’t long before his dinner came up. Janelle saw this coming and got out of the way, else her feet would have been covered in vomit.
“I know this is hard for you to watch, Juan. But it is important that you learn that I am more powerful than the gangs, that when they come for those who are under my protection, I will show no mercy.”
The fire grew, and soon the flames were licking at the legs of the men. They cried and screamed as they tried to move their legs away from the flames, while still standing on the 2x6. One of the men inadvertently kicked the 2x6 askew, and suddenly all three of them were hanging by their necks.
“I made sure there wasn’t enough slack in the ropes to break their necks,” said Janelle, “so they could choke and strangle while they burned.”
The men became very agitated and kicked their legs helplessly as they tried to get away from the flames and relieve the pressure on their necks.
“Look!” Janelle exclaimed. “I told you they’d dance for us!” She was having so much fun, she was almost giddy. Juan, on the other hand, had started crying and was close to fainting. Janelle saw this and put an arm around him to steady him.
The men didn’t die quickly, but Janelle was disappointed they didn’t last longer. One the other hand, if it lasted any longer, she was pretty sure Juan would soil himself. When finally, the last of the three men stopped dancing, Janelle lowered Juan down to the floor and leaned him against a wall.
“I just have a few more things to do,” she said.
She picked up a large tank, filled with water, brought it to the edge of the pit and punched her fist through the end of the tank. The water drained into the pit and put out the fire. Then she put down another 2x6 across the pit, walked to the center corpse, and hung a piece of cardboard around his neck. Taped to the cardboard was a map of the city, with a portion circled in red and the legend, “Keep Out” written inside the circle. Next, she took a picture of the men with the phone she’d kept and sent it to the number of the last call he’d made.
She took Juan back to the van, dressed, and drove back to the city, to return him to his family. When they got close enough to have a cell phone signal, she verified that the photo she took had been sent, and then destroyed the phone.
She told Juan not to tell anyone outside his family what happened, and to come tell her if the gangs made another attempt to recruit him.
In Shadar’s Aurora Universe Velorians are able to fly at speeds approaching the speed of light. I wanted to explore the practical aspects of this, just a little bit.
In relativistic mechanics, the relative mass of an object, mrel, varies with velocity. In the following equation, m is the rest mass of the object (e.g., Your mass sitting at your device reading this), v is velocity and c is the speed of light:
mrel = m/√((1-(v2/c2))
Xara is about six feet tall, and because Velorian muscle and skeletal tissue is denser than humans, she weighs about 160 lbs, or 73 kg. Plugging those numbers into the equation, at .9c her mass, relative to a stationary observer, would increase to 167 kq.
At .95c her relative mass would increase to 234 kg.
At .99c her relative mass would increase to 517 kg.
At .999c her relative mass would increase to 1,632 kg.
As she accelerated closer and closer to the speed of light her mass would increase infinitely, requiring her to produce infinitely more force to continue accelerating.
The equation for time dilation is the same as above, just substitute time for mass. If Xara was traveling at .95c for one hour (her time), Kara, on earth, would experience just over three hours. If 12-year-old Xara had an 8pm curfew, and she left earth at 7pm, thinking she could be back before curfew, she would arrive back on earth at 10pm, two hours late. (We’re neglecting the time it takes her to accelerate and decelerate. That’s too much work ?)
Assuming Kara uses proportionality and logic in child discipline, we can calculate that the penalty for breaking curfew in the Banks household is one week of grounding for every hour Xara is out past curfew ?