Kiraling – Part 15 (Chapter 82-93)
Written by anonxyzus :: [Wednesday, 26 February 2020 02:47] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 14 March 2020 19:18]
It turned out the blondes were not in agreement on how to proceed. Normally they would defer to Kara, as her status as a Protector puts her at the top of the hierarchy when it comes to determining how Terrans on Terra should be dealt with. But all three of them claim me as Kiraling, which apparently gives each of them an equal right to interfere with my life. The only one of the Supremis who doesn’t have a say in how I live my life is Gloria. But I don’t think she knows that. She certainly doesn’t act like she knows it.
Kara took my Costco list and gave it to Gloria, who took my Prius to go do my shopping for me. When Xara was finished cleaning up my cabin, now that the meds were kicking in, I could see that I wasn’t doing a good job of that, she sat down with Sharon and Kara and myself to have a discussion. Now, that last sentence implies that I was part of the discussion. To the extent that the discussion was about me, that is true. But my participation was strictly limited. By the blondes. Because even though I was right there, they talked about me like I wasn’t.
“Mom, we don’t have to wait to start our experiment. I can stay here with Joe and if he starts getting better, we can take him off his meds.”
Sharon agreed with her. “I think that’s a good idea. I don’t have any important business on my calendar. I can pop in and out and be with him too.”
“Wait,” I said. “If I’m on my meds, you can’t use your pheromones without freezing me. I don’t think I’d like that.”
They ignored me.
“I think,” said Kara, “that this experiment is best conducted when we can all be here, with Gloria. I have business commitments, and I need Gloria working on something else for the next few days. No, Joe will stay on his meds and we’ll conduct our experiment when we get closer to leaving for DC.”
“Umm…”, I said, “Pheromones. Freezing me. Does any of this ring a bell?”
“Mom,” said Xara, “There isn’t a need for Gloria to be here. We all saw how different he was in Chelan. It’ll be very easy to tell if exposure to us is helping him, and if having one or two of us here at a time isn’t enough, we’ll still have the time later for all of us to be here.”
“What about my freezing? Doesn’t that mean I have to be off my meds for the experiment?” I asked.
“I have to agree with Xara,” said Sharon. “It isn’t fair to make Joe wait. We should start working on him now.”
“It’s my decision to make,” said Kara, “And my decision is made.”
Then Sharon and Xara both pulled out the Kiraling card, and amazingly, Kara backed down.
“Ladies,” I said, “Can I have some input here? Kara, you told me I could have input, remember?”
They all turned to me.
“If Xara and Sharon are here, am I off my meds or not? They can’t use their pheromones if I’m on my meds, I’ll freeze up. I don’t like freezing up. It’s very uncomfortable.”
“Joseph,” said Kara, “We emit pheromones all the time. You’re sensitive to the action-oriented pheromones, the ones designed to get a reaction, but haven’t you noticed that we always smell like we are wearing a very subtle perfume?”
“I have,” I answered. “So, what are you saying?”
“She’s saying,” said Sharon, “That it isn’t necessarily the arousal related pheromones that affect your mental condition. It might not be pheromones at all. We’ll keep you on your meds and observe you to see if you are getting better, and then take you off them if you are.”
“Why keep me on my meds at all? Why don’t we just dive in and see what happens?”
All three of them sighed deeply. In unison. It was like they coordinated it. They looked at each other, then Sharon said, “I’ll tell him. I have to be back home this evening anyway.
“Joe,” said Sharon, “We all like you, and love you. You are very important to us and we want to support you and help you and just be with you. But when you are off your meds, you can be a real jerk.”
“Oh,” I said. “I think I had an idea but thank you for spelling it out for me.”
Xara put her hand on my knee and said, “You aren’t always a full time jerk when you go off the meds, but you are definitely easier to live with when you take them.”
“Yes,” said Kara. “And on our trip, you were a joy to be with. Sharon put it best when she said that you were a much better Joe to be around. The Joseph we saw on the camping trip is the Joseph we want you to be.”
Truth be told, that is the Joe I want to be too.
Gloria returned from Costco. She said she found my cart just where I described leaving it. I noticed she didn’t buy any beer.
“Gloria, I had beer in the cart,” I said.
“Talk to Kara,” she replied.
“You’ve a lifetime supply of wine in your garage Joseph. And in case you haven’t noticed, beer does nothing good for you.”
“And wine does?”
Gloria made dinner. And when I was finished eating all the ladies were looking at me.
“Is that all you’re going to eat?” asked Kara.
They did that coordinated sigh thing again.
“Did you gain any weight in Chelan?” asked Gloria.
“Three pounds,” I replied. “But I’ve lost it since I’ve been home.”
After dinner we all cleaned up. Gloria told me she didn’t have time to make desert. She made up for it by buying me three boxes of Costco Chocolate Chip cookies. She was holding a fourth box she was taking home with her.
Gloria got into the pod, Kara and Sharon left, and Xara told me she’d be back in a couple of hours and took off with the pod on her back. I watched them leave. Then got in the car and drove to the nearest store and bought a case of beer.
It took Xara about two hours to get back, just as she said. I can drink a lot of beer in two hours.
She came down in my backyard with a pod on her back, took it off and leaned it against a tree, then came up to me. She saw the case of beer, saw the one in my hand, saw the empties, harrumphed, and released her pheromones. I froze up. She took the beer can out of my hand and dumped it out in the yard. Then she took the rest of the case into the middle of the yard, opened up every can, stepped back and hit it with her heat vision. When she was finished all the beer had boiled off. Then she crushed the empty cans and put them in the recycle with the cans I’d emptied.
“No beer Joe. Not until I’ve seen you improve.”
Then she sat down next to me and waited for the pheromones to wear off. I was drunk, and I was mad. When the pheromones wore off enough that I could speak again, I started to light into her.
“Jesus Christ Xara! What the…” Before I could finish the sentence, she released her pheromones again and I froze up. After a few minutes they wore off again.
“Xara! Who the hell do you think …” And then she released the pheromones again. Then they wore off again.
“Fuck you Xara! Get the…” Pheromones.
She said, “I’m not going to argue with you Joe. When you decide to calm down and speak to me like a decent human being, we can have a discussion. Until then, we’ll just sit her quietly.”
At that’s the way it went. The pheromones would wear off, I’d start to yell at her, and boom, wildflowers and honey and I was frozen again. Meanwhile, my body was processing the beer and filling up my bladder, and it was getting uncomfortable. After about an hour of this, instead of yelling at her, I simply said, “I have to pee.” And then shut my mouth. I was still drunk, so she helped me to my feet and into the cabin. From there I was able to make my way to and from the bathroom.
When I came out she had a pot of coffee waiting for me at the dining room table. I sat down and started sipping it.
“You’re going to reimburse me for that case of beer, Xara.”
“No Joe. I’m not. I won’t tell mom about it. I hope you’re smart enough not to.”
“That was a really shitty thing to do to me.”
“I think it’s really shitty for you to yell at me when I’m trying to help you.”
She poured coffee into me for the rest of the evening, then put me to bed. I tossed and turned all night. Because I was full of caffeine. At one point I rolled over and bumped into her.
“Xara, how long have you been here?”
“Not long. I was going to wait until you fell asleep, but every time you doze off you wake up again. So I decided to just come in here and get into bed with you.”
“Well, yeah. I’m having trouble sleeping because of all the coffee I drank. Why are you in bed with me?”
“I’m increasing your Supremis exposure.”
“Oh. Well, I wish you’d leave, I’m still pretty pissed at you.”
“Joe, you must know drinking isn’t good for you. I’m trying to help you.”
“I didn’t ask for your help.”
“Sure you did. You agreed to let us ‘expose’ you to us to help you get better.”
“I didn’t ask you to take my beer away.”
“You didn’t have to.”
“Xara, would you just leave, please?”
“If I do, I’ll just come back when you’re asleep.”
I gave up and rolled over and tried to go to sleep. I must have succeeded because the next thing I knew the sun was up. I sat up in bed. Xara wasn’t there. I had a slight headache, otherwise no hangover.
I got up and put on some shorts, a t-shirt and my running shoes. I left the bedroom and found my pills laid out for me on the kitchen counter. I took them, then headed out the front door for a long run.
I hadn’t gone more than a hundred yards when I heard someone behind me. I glanced over my shoulder and saw Xara. She was catching up with me. I didn’t want to see her or talk to her, so I sped up. I glanced back, she was still gaining on me. I sped up some more. She came up beside me.
“You can’t outrun me Joe.”
No. But I could try. So I broke into a sprint. She easily kept up with me. It didn’t even look like she was trying. I ran as fast as I could for a long as I could, then slowed down to a jog, then stopped and turned back towards the cabin.
“How long are you going to stay mad at me Joe?’
I looked at my watch. “About eight more hours.”
“Because that’s how long it takes after I go back on my meds.”
“So in eight hours you aren’t going to be mad at me anymore?”
“Nope. I may not even remember why I was mad at you.”
“No Xara. Not really. I’ll remember why. And I’ll still feel a little bit angry with you. But it’ll just seem like too much work to stay mad.”
“Oh. Well, could you speed it up a little? I want you to tour the college campus with me after breakfast.”
I stopped and turned to face her. I was exasperated. She just smiled that beautiful smile at me.
“Let me finish my workout and shower before breakfast. Okay?”
I broke into a jog again, with Xara keeping up with me. Back at the cabin I went into the backyard and did my exercises, push-ups, sit-ups, etc., then went into the shower.
When I got out of the shower and dressed, Xara had breakfast waiting. Scrambled eggs, bacon and OJ. She frowned at how little I ate but didn’t say anything. She did, however, make sure no leftovers went to waste.
After loading the dishwasher, we jumped into the Prius and headed off to the WWU campus. Summer quarter was in session, but I had no trouble finding parking. She had a list of stops around campus she wanted to make. In her head. I mean the list was in her head. She had also memorized a map of the place. So we, well, she, started exploring, with me tagging along. She told me which buildings she wanted to see, which dorms she wanted to visit, all that stuff.
Only a couple of the dorms are open during summer session, so she just stood outside of them, looking them over, looking through the walls, walking around to get an idea of what they were like. She described to me what she was seeing. I wasn’t really interested, but I was polite.
I asked her what classes she was taking. She told me the list of the classes she wanted, apparently, she couldn’t register until August, and oh, by the way, she and her mom would be coming up for freshman orientation, could they stay at the cabin and borrow the Prius. I told her to ask me again in a day or two when I wouldn’t be angry with her anymore. She socked me in my arm and told me to get over myself.
We walked around campus for a couple of hours, then up onto Sehome hill where she looked for places where she could hide her stuff and change into her flight suit. She found four or five suitable locations where the foliage was thick enough. She said she’d come back later and plant some large rocks in those locations that would cover pits she’d dig for stashing stuff. Three of those locations were surrounded by deciduous trees. I suggested that after they lost their leaves in the Fall they might not be as hidden as they look now. She agreed and gave me a hug.
And that is the way the day went, or at least how I remember it. I’d say something she liked and get a hug. I’d say something she didn’t like and get socked. And this is the amazing thing. See, I remember clearly how angry I was when she took my beer away from me, and how I held that resentment for at least a day. And then, after just two days of having her around, everything changed.
I wasn’t angry with her anymore. I really didn’t want a beer. The sunshine was brighter. The lake was more beautiful. The grass was greener. I was in a good mood.
On the third morning, at breakfast, I had seconds and thirds. As I was about to take my meds, Xara reached over and took them away.
“Do you feel any different Joe?”
“What do you mean Xara?”
“You ate quite a bit for breakfast.
“I was hungry.
“Are you still mad at me for taking your beer away?”
“No. I understand why you did it. It was stupid of me to sit around getting drunk. Umm, can I have my meds please?”
“Not right now Joe.”
And she pulled out her phone and called her mother, and three hours later all four ladies were there, and Gloria was doing an exam, and all four of them were asking me questions.
“He isn’t on his meds?” asked Sharon.
“No,” said Xara. “He isn’t. He hasn’t taken them today.”
Sharon released her pheromones and suddenly I was hard.
“No, he isn’t on his meds,” she said.
“You couldn’t just take her word for it Sharon?” I asked.
“I just wanted to make sure,” she answered. “We’ll take care of that,” and she pointed at my crotch, “before I leave. I’m not going to leave you hanging.”
Kara had brought Gloria up in a pod. Gloria went back to the pod and brought back a funny looking helmet.
“Put this on Joe,” she said.
“Uh, what is it?”
“It’s a brain scanning device. Arion technology. For use on frai… humans.”
“Does it hurt?”
“I know how to use it so it doesn’t. Do not be afraid.”
I put it on. She pushed some buttons on it and then she started having me do simple exercises, like following her finger, focusing on objects near and far, answering a bunch of questions, reading a magazine. After about twenty minutes of this she took the scanner off my head and said it would take a couple of days to analyze the results.
Then the five of us talked about what was going on. And by the five of us, I mean the four of them, with me occasionally asking a question or making an observation.
The general gist of it was that it appeared that it took me less time to “improve” than it did during the camping trip. And that I didn’t have to be around all of them, just one of them, or maybe just Xara. There were all kinds of variables, according to Gloria, that could have been at work here. Was it Xara’s presence that made a difference, or all of them, or any of them? Was I improving faster because the ‘exposure’ has a cumulative effect, or did it just take them longer to notice it before? Gloria said she could design a series of experiments to find out.
“You mean, take me on and off my meds, vary which of you are around me, that kind of thing?”
“Yes, exactly,” said Gloria. “But controlling for more variables. It will take several months to complete the experiments.”
“You know, coming down from whatever it is you guys do to me, is hard. It isn’t a good feeling. I go to a very bad place. I don’t think I want to be the subject of experiments that run for months.”
“Joseph is right,” said Kara. “This is a lot to put him through. Gloria, I want you to come up with a protocol that he can live with. How long will that take?”
“Let me analyze the scans. I’ll know more then.”
“Okay,” said Kara. “Joseph, are you willing to have houseguests until Gloria has something?”
“Umm, sure. Will you pay for the groceries?”
They all laughed, and she said, “Yes. Until Gloria has something for us, at least one of us will be staying with you.”
Kara had business commitments and couldn’t stay. She needed Gloria to be working on something else but didn’t tell me what that was. Sharon had to get back to Deb. She didn’t say it in so many words, but her time with me was causing friction with Deb. That left Xara to spend the night with me.
Sharon had made a promise and wanted to keep it. So we went to my bedroom and had the Velorian version of a quickie. Even though she was wearing gold, I came out of it with a couple of minor bruises. Evidentially, for Velorians, or at least for Sharon, compromising on quantity never means compromising on quality. To get what she needed (wanted?) in the time she had, the intensity had to be ratcheted up. I had to put the bed back together after she was finished with me. That bed frame was built by my grandfather at a time when everything was built to last, with high quality materials. Good thing, otherwise, I would have been out shopping for another bed.
“I hate to fuck and fly Joe,” she said, “but I really need to get home.” And she kissed me and left.
Kara came into the room and helped me put the bed frame back in place. When we were done, she asked, “It’s a beautiful day Joe, would you like to go flying?”
I thought about it for about two seconds and realized that I did want to go flying with her. So I said yes, and after we had the bed together we walked out into the backyard.
“Aren’t you going to put on your flight suit Xara? Shouldn’t I put on the motorcycle suit?”
“No Joe, this will be very gentle.’” Then she took me in her arms and up we went, slowly.
I started looking around.
“You look nervous Joe. Do you need my trust pheromones?”
“No, I think I’m okay. The nerves are anticipation, not fear. Like I think I should be afraid, but I’m not.”
We were probably up about 1,000 feet or so when we stopped rising.
“Joe, I brought you up here because I want to have a conversation with you, and I don’t want you walking away from me if you don’t like it. Now please, just listen to me. Don’t interrupt, let me get through what I need to say. Can you do that?”
“Xara, how is it a ‘conversation’ if I’m not supposed to talk?”
“It will be a conversation, just let me get through what I have to say first.”
“Okay,” I said. “Shoot.”
“You enjoy sex with mom and Sharon, right?”
I just looked at her. I didn’t say anything.
“Okay smartass, when I ask you a question that has a short answer, you can speak. That isn’t interrupting.”
“Xara, do you know how wrong it feels to talk to a daughter about sex with her mother?”
“Okay. New rule. For the purposes of this conversation Terran hang-ups do not excuse participation.”
“Yes Xara. I enjoy sex with Sharon and…”
“Mom, Joe. You’re trying to say you enjoy sex with my mom.”
I just nodded. She sighed.
“Okay. Since I reached sexual maturity, I’ve been having sex with Messengers. They have been my teachers, and I’ve learned well. The sex has been nothing short of spectacular.
“Messengers only come around so often, and not on a regular schedule. But my school was full of boys who were ridiculously easy to seduce and always eager. So after a few meetings with the Messengers, I went behind mom’s back and took one of her gold chokers and seduced one of the boys at school.
“The sex with him was awful. I’d barely touch him and he’d ejaculate. I used my pheromones to keep him hard, but I couldn’t get him to move right, and when I tried to use my vaginal muscles I’d either squeeze too hard, which hurt him even though I was wearing the gold, or he’d ejaculate again. I finally just gave up on him and went off to finish myself. And I blamed him for my frustration.
“I tried a different boy with the same results. And this one had a reputation among the girls as someone who knew what he was doing. I decided the problem must be the gold, and I thought that since I’m stronger and faster than mom, I’d probably have more control than she does. So I picked another boy and tried having sex with him without the gold. We told you what happened. I might have killed him if mom hadn’t come home when she did.
“After that, I was confined to Messengers for a time. But mom and Sharon worked with me. They taught me that when having sex with a Terran, it is up to the Supremis, it is up to me, to be responsible for both his pleasure and mine, because you guys, Terrans, just don’t have what it takes. And with their guidance, and the help of a Messenger who agreed to wear gold with me, I got to where I can now have sex with a Terran, safe sex, with no one getting hurt and everyone satisfied. Or at least as satisfied as one can get with a Terran. Nothing beats sex with another Supremis, but you know about that.”
Well, I didn’t KNOW about it, but I’d been told, and I believe it. If you saw a Messenger, you’d believe it too. And I also knew that ‘safe sex’ meant wearing gold.
She went on.
“Now we know that your exposure to us helps you overcome your PTSD. Joe, you are such a completely different person when you aren’t suffering from it. And the way to keep you in that good place, without your meds, is to be around us.
“Mom and Sharon have businesses to run. And mom has to watch out for Arions. You’ve seen a lot of them the past couple of months, but that can’t keep going. There are going to be periods of time, weeks at least, maybe even months, when their schedules won’t permit them to spend a lot of time with you.
“But for the next three or four years, I’m going to be right here in Bellingham. We know I can get you into that good place and keep you there. It makes a lot of sense to have me move in with you. And it would be unfair, even cruel to let you live with a Supremis woman and not have sex with her.
“Joe, I think I should move in with you. And we should be lovers.”
She looked at me, trying to judge my reaction, trying to understand my silence, and then she said, “Okay. You can talk now.”
“Xara, the more I am with you, the more tempting that sounds. But you’re too young, you have too much to look forward to, and when you start school, you’re going to find that there are a lot of more interesting men out there. More interesting than me, without the baggage, and better for you. And if you were living with me when you made that discovery, it would break my heart.”
“Joe, you’re what, 26?”
“So you’re nine years older than me. I’m going to live for centuries. Nine years is nothing. As much as I love you, you won’t be my only love. You’ll grow old and die, and while I will never forget you, I will find someone else to love.”
“You may decide to settle down for life with a Supremis Xara.”
“We don’t really work that way Joe. We may have a special someone in our life, but not a one and only. Not like Terrans do. But for the number of years that you will live, I could be your one and only, and you could be my one and only Terran.”
She had obviously put a lot of thought into this. Her arguments were getting better. But still…
“Xara, you’re going to have a long life, and as far as Terrans go, you are only going to have one shot at having a special man in your life, who is your age. After that they will all be younger than you. Don’t throw that away on the first Terran you have a crush on. Find someone who will be as special to you as you are to him.”
“Joe, you’re better than you think. I’m not wasting time or throwing it away by spending it with you. Think about it. Please, just think about it.”
I promised her I would.
And then she took us back down to the cabin.
I needed to do something. Something physical. I thought about going for a run, but then I looked at the lake, it was so blue and beautiful. And I saw sailboats off in the distance. Leaning up next to the house was an old canoe. I brought it into the middle of the yard and then hosed it out. Xara was watching me, and when I put it in the water and grabbed a paddle and got into it, she grabbed the other paddle and got in behind me.
I turned to talk to her. “Have you ever paddled a canoe Xara?”
“No. It doesn’t look hard though.”
“Okay, let’s trade places. I’ll be in the back so I can steer, and you can hear me giving you direction.”
“I can hear you from either place.”
“Okay, then let’s trade and I’ll steer.”
She floated up and over me and waited for me to move into the back before lowering herself down.
“Okay. Here is how you grasp the paddle.” She copied me.
“Here is the paddling motion.” Again she copied me.
“Okay, you’re in front, you get to decide which side you are going to paddle on. I’ll paddle on the opposite side. You won’t get tired, but I will, so I’ll let you know when it is time to change sides.”
And off we went into the lake. Xara is strong, right? So when she finished her stroke and lifted the paddle out of the water, I was getting soaked. So I had to talk to her about that. But soon she got the hang of it and we paddled around the lake for a while before we came back to the cabin.
We settled into a routine. I’d get up in the morning and go running with Xara, then come back and finish my workout while she made breakfast. Then we’d go explore the college campus, or toodle around Bellingham, or play in the lake. At night I’d go to bed by myself. She’d wait until I fell asleep and then get into bed with me, leaving before I woke up in the morning. If she didn’t tell me she was doing that, I wouldn’t know it.
When they could get away, Sharon or Kara would come and spell Xara. They were both amazed that I could spend that much time with Xara, without my meds, and remain celibate. Sharon thought I was stupid. Kara didn’t say it, but she thought I was stupid too. Neither allowed me to be celibate while they were there. Truth be told, there were a couple of times when Xara was there that I felt my resolve weakening, and I’d sneak my meds.
During this time, I did not see Dixon or Johnson once. I didn’t descend into a funk. I didn’t have nightmares. The only drinking I did was the occasional bottle of wine that I’d share with the ladies. I put on four pounds, not an ounce of it fat that I could see, and it was well enough distributed that it didn’t require alterations to my dress uniform. Though I could see the day coming when it would.
Oh, Gloria analyzed the results of my scans. And then, red faced, she informed us that the scans only tell her what the state of my brain was at that point in time. To have any useful information, she’d have to scan me again when I wasn’t under the influence of the Supremis-Terran Effect, or STE. So that second scan was put off into the future.
The day came when it was time to go back to the D.C. area for my medal ceremony and the meeting with the brass regarding my working arrangement with Kara. In the days prior to leaving, Kara drilled me on the use of the watch she gave me, Gloria had me practice monitoring the security system via my phone.
“Joe,” said Kara, “I’m going to be monitoring you when you are with your government and military people. I don’t fully trust them.”
I agreed to it. The watch gives off a distinctive vibration that only I can feel when it starts up for communication, and another vibration when it stops. And, importantly for me, I can turn the communication function on and off. I can still be tracked, but no one can listen in to my conversations if I turn the function off.
Kara stressed, several times, that the nature of my relationship with the blondes, that I was Kiraling and had saved them, was not to be discussed with anyone. She also briefed me (briefly) on some of the major characters.
Senator Jackson was her prime sponsor, she likes and trusts him.
General Morrison has responsibility for the Pentagon’s role in some kind of inter-agency group responsible for extra-terrestrial affairs. Meaning Kara and the Arions. Kara has worked with him, but does not completely trust him.
Colonel Baker, subordinate, on paper, to General Morrison but with a lot of autonomy. Kara didn’t trust him at all.
Major Aldrich. Subordinate to Colonel Baker. Has his position due to nepotism, he is Senator Jackson’s son-in-law. Kara doesn’t trust him. Neither does the Senator. She said I should be wary of him.
Captain Moore. She is subordinate to Major Aldrich. Kara picked her to be my single point of contact with the U.S. Government and military. Kara trusts her, but she is new.
The army sent a car for me, which took me to SeaTac. I had a ticket for a flight to Dulles, where someone, I didn’t know who, would meet me. Kara upgraded my ticket to first class.
I didn’t know how much time I’d be able to spend with the ladies, so I packed my meds. I felt like I was aware enough, now, to recognize when I was coming down from the STE. As soon as I had an inkling that was happening, I’d take my meds.
One of the effects of the STE was that I could fly without panicking. I was still afraid of flying, but nothing like before. I was able to nap on the flight.
When I deplaned at Dulles I was met at the top of the ramp by Captain Sarah Moore.
Captain Moore was a stunner. About 5’8” tall, blue eyes, blonde hair cut in a military style, not too short. Obviously fit, as you would expect, with a very feminine figure. She held out her hand to me, I took it, she had a firm handshake.
“Sergeant Ricci, I’m Captain Moore. I’ll take you to your hotel.”
“Yes ma’am, it’s good to meet you Captain.”
“And good to meet you Sergeant. Do you have checked bags?”
“Alright, let’s pick them up.”
A couple of things stuck out at me. First, she was meeting me inside the secured area. Since 9/11 only checked in passengers were allowed as far as the gates. Second, I would have expected an enlisted man or NCO to meet me, not an officer.
As we walked through the concourse towards baggage claim I felt my watch vibrate. Kara was listening.
“The Dixons and Johnsons arrived last night. They are staying in the same hotel as you. You have dinner reservations at a nearby restaurant. Transportation will be provided.”
That was the extent of our conversation until we picked up my bags and got into her car. As we left the airport, she started talking to me again.
“Sergeant, I assume you know that you and I will be working together.”
“Yes ma’am, I know that. I know that you will be my contact. I don’t know much more.”
“Neither do I. You have your medal ceremony tomorrow, congratulations on that, a free day, then a meeting the next day.”
“Yes ma’am, I know.”
“There is a great deal of curiosity about you Sergeant. I’ve been over every detail of your service record. I know that there are some questions I am not permitted to ask, and you are not permitted to answer, but I would like to ask you questions about your service.”
“Yes ma’am, ask away.”
“I was going over your citation for the Bronze medal. It is quite the read. I dug a little deeper into the after-action reports. Sergeant, is it true you beat an insurgent to death with your helmet?”
“If you don’t mind my asking, how did that come about?”
“Well ma’am, we were clearing a house. The enemy had prepared for us. They blocked off hallways, stairs, there wasn’t much room to maneuver. It’s in my report. I got around a corner into a small room, the rest of my squad was pinned down. On the other side of the room was another hallway, with an insurgent, who opened fire on me. It was dark, I didn’t have my NV. Neither of us had a good firing angle, if I was going to get him, I had to work my way closer. It was either that or break contact, which I wasn’t going to do.
“We were exchanging fire when he stopped. I charged him, he was standing up trying to change magazines. Before I could bring my weapon to bear, he charged back at me and my M4 went flying. So it was hand to hand. He didn’t have a weapon, neither did I. I’d lost my K-bar in a fight the previous day. The guy was wiry but strong. I couldn’t get to my M4. I didn’t have a knife.”
“So you used your helmet?”
“Captain, the Advanced Combat Helmet is a thing of beauty. You can cook in it, wash in it, wash your socks and underwear in it, eat out of it and shit in it. I’ve done all those things. That day, I discovered you can fight with it.
“I was on top of him, he was trying to gouge my eyes out. I took off my helmet and started beating him with it. I didn’t stop until my squad came in and pulled me off him. He was dead.”
“Infantry ma’am. It’s what we do.”
“If you don’t mind my asking ma’am, were you in the shit?”
“Not like you were sergeant. I did spend some time outside the wire, I was shot at and I shot back. My job was to interrogate prisoners. I went on a few capture missions with special forces. Those got hairy at times, but it wasn’t day in and day out.”
She’d seen combat. She was my sister.
“Sergeant, I need to warn you about my boss. Major Aldrich. He’s unhappy with the… arrangement with our new friends. He thinks he should have your job. And he can be difficult.”
“Yes ma’am. I’ve heard. Was he over there?” Officer or not, if he’d seen combat, he and I could find a common ground.
“He had two tours in Iraq. He ran several DCAFs in the Green Zone when he was a captain.”
DCAF, that’s a dining facility. Captain’s in the infantry are company commanders. They lead soldiers into battle. This guy led them to lunch.
“REMF,” I said, under my breath, I thought, but she heard.
“Rear Echelon Mother Fucker,” she said. “That’s a pretty good description. Be warned, sergeant. You aren’t in a combat zone now. You can’t get away with talking to a Major the way you could over there. Mind your Ps and Qs.”
We arrived at the hotel and Captain Moore popped the trunk. “Your car will be her to take you to dinner at 1800. You’ll be picked up here at 0800 tomorrow morning. I’ll see you there.”
“Yes ma’am. Thank you for the ride ma’am.”
“Not at all sergeant.”
I got out of the car, took my bags out of the trunk and went to the front desk to check in. While I was waiting in line I felt my watch vibrate, the signal Kara was no longer listening. I got my room key and headed up to the room, went in, and there was Sharon, lying on the bed waiting for me, wearing nothing but a gold choker.
She got off the bed, came to me, kissed me and took my bags and put them in the closet, then came back to me and started undressing me. Which I was more than happy to help her with. We laid down on the bed and she started stroking my scrotum and penis, which was hard, while I played with one of her nipples. She sighed, kissed me again, so far there were no pheromones, and she asked, “What did you think of Captain Moore?”
“I didn’t spend much time with her. She seemed pleasant enough. It was unusual, usually the army would have sent an enlisted man or NCO to pick me up, but she didn’t seem put off by it.”
“Did you find her attractive?”
“Oh. Sure. In a she’s-a-captain-I’m-a-sergeant-don’t-even-think-about-it kind of way.”
“But you noticed she’s cute, right?”
“Sure Sharon. Why are you asking about her?”
“Did you notice she wasn’t wearing a wedding ring?”
“No. It never occurred to me to look for one. Why are we talking about her?”
“A lot of people think most women in the military are lesbians. Any truth to that?”
“Umm, Sharon, I’ve known a lot of female soldiers with boyfriends and husbands. The ones who like girls keep that to themselves. Why are we talking about this?”
“I’m thinking I might like to get to know her. Will she be at your ceremony tomorrow? Will you introduce us?”
“Sharon, are you smitten?”
“No, not like you’re thinking. But she is attractive, for a Terran, and if she likes girls, I’m going to take a shot at her.”
“Do your pheromones work on women?”
“Not like they do on men. Oh, they’ll get a woman in the mood, but they aren’t panty droppers. Not like a male Supremis pheromones.”
“Well, okay, if the opportunity presents itself, I’ll introduce you.”
“Oh thank you Joe!” And then she kissed me while releasing her pheromones.
When we were finished, or rather, when I thought we were finished, Sharon pointed out the time. I’d need to take a shower before dinner. She got in the shower with me, and that’s when I found out we weren’t finished. When we were finished, Sharon dried me off with her heat vision. She dressed quickly and left. I dressed and went downstairs. The Johnson’s and the Dixon’s were there.
We shook hands, we hugged and embraced, and the concierge told us our transportation had arrived. A limo. We climbed in and drove about twenty minutes to the restaurant. We were seated and the Maître D’ told us the rest of our party should arrive in a few minutes, then walked away before we could ask who the ‘rest of our party’ was. And then in walked Kara, Sharon, Xara and Gloria.
I started to make introductions when Mrs. Johnson stopped me and told me they all knew the ladies. Turns out, Kara, or Lisa Banks to them, had paid for their travel to and from D.C., and their accommodations. I was so grateful for that, I just about started to cry.
Most people see a decorated soldier, and they think of bravado and glory, and John Wayne and throw around words like hero. Well, it isn’t that way. There is no glory in getting a medal. Because for most of us, probably for all of us, the day we earned that medal was probably the worst day of our lives. It was for me. Purple Hearts, Bronze Medal, Silver medal, those were pretty bad days. But as bad as they were for me, they were worse for Dixon, Johnson, the other men who died those days, and they were very bad days for the families of the fallen. Those families, and the soldiers they lost, they were the ones deserving of all the attention. Not me.
When I had the chance, I thanked Kara. She just smiled at me and gave my hand a little squeeze.
During dinner we told stories, Dixon’s and Johnson’s parents just couldn’t get enough of my stories about them. Lateica Johnson sat next to Xara, or Danni, and they talked about college, and college boys. Lateica, who is a very attractive young lady, especially wanted to speculate about college men.
Everyone wanted to hear about the Supremis. What businesses they were in, where Gloria (who was introduced as a physician) got her medical training. She had to dance a bit around that one. And how the ladies knew me. Kara pulled out the story about me being a second or third cousin of her deceased husband, and we met at their wedding.
After dinner I went back to my hotel and watched TV for a bit, then went to bed. I had a good night’s sleep and got up at 0530 and went downstairs for breakfast, then back to my room and took a shower. When I got out of the shower Sharon and Kara were there. They fussed over me while I got dressed, making sure all the creases were perfect, my medals and ribbons were properly in place, it was like they were my mother, only two of them who were a lot hotter than my mother and oh my god I can’t believe I thought that.
Kara and Sharon left and I went down to the lobby and met the Dixon’s and Johnson’s there. Mrs. Dixon and Mrs. Johnson fussed over me, the same as Kara and Sharon, and satisfied themselves that I was properly dressed for my big day. I nearly started crying again, they were treating me like I was their son. I felt so bad for them.
The limo arrived and we all got in for our ride to the Pentagon, where the ceremony was being held.
We went through security and were escorted to the room where the ceremony would be held. The ladies were already there, but, to my surprise, there were about forty-five service members who I had known in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a contingent from Walter Reed, the doctors and nurses who treated me when I was there. There was even a senator there, who I was introduced to after the ceremony. It was Senator Jackson.
Suddenly I was the center of attention, everyone wanted to shake my hand, and I was surrounded by people. And as I was shaking hands and smiling and laughing with folks, it occurred to me that I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t looking over my shoulder for a sniper or an IED.
I also saw Captain Moore, next to a major I assumed must be Aldrich, and a two-star general I didn’t know. Then someone called attention and three-star General Rosenthal came into the room.
General Rosenthal was the theater commander at the time of the action I was getting the medal for. He was very popular among the troops. He had been drafted into the army and fought in Vietnam, then got his college degree and enrolled in OCS. Most senior officers, generals, travel with a security detail, and carry a sidearm, and stay well back from the fighting. Not General Rosenthal. He carried an M-14, the rifle in use when he entered the army, and he came right up to where the action was.
Everyone sat down and the ceremony started. General Rosenthal acknowledged everyone present, soldiers I’d served with, the doctors and nurses who cared for me, and then he talked about the Gold Star families who were there, parents of my fellow warriors, and said this honor I was getting was as much for their sons as it was for me.
Then he called me up and read the citation, and put the medal, the Silver Star, on me.
After the ceremony, it was funny. Where a general goes, everyone, especially those closest to him in rank, some might say those who can get the most by sucking up, goes. General Rosenthal wanted to talk to me and the Dixons and Johnsons. Everyone else in the room, at least all the men, wanted to talk to the Supremis. It was fun to watch.
Damn though, the General was really good with the Dixon’s and Johnson’s. He had an aid get their contact information and promised to stay in touch. After talking to them he wanted to talk to me. He wanted to hear about my medical issues, my recovery, and what I thought about the military medical system. I wasn’t prepared for that, but I pointed out the Walter Reed people who were there and I told him I would always be grateful to them for the care they gave me.
He asked me what was up next, what I would be doing for the rest of the day. I told him I was going to Arlington with my ‘family’, the Dixon’s and Johnson’s to visit their son’s graves. He very politely turned to the two mothers and asked if he could join us. They were thrilled. God bless the man.
When the general moved on I caught Sharon’s eye. Or should I say she caught mine, and I remembered the promise I had made her. Since Captain Moore had been following the general, and was in the crowd I was in, I motioned for the ladies to come my way, which they did. Then I introduced the Dixon’s and Johnson’s to Captain Moore, and my ‘family and friends’, Sharon Best, Lisa and Danni Banks and Gloria Smith.
At the time I didn’t know what, if anything, Captain Moore knew about Sharon, Xara and Gloria. It turned out she had a pretty good idea.
All this time Major Aldrich, when he wasn’t trying to suck up to the general, was trying to get close to the ladies. And my God, if I didn’t know better, I would have said he was a Velorian. He was tall, blonde, very good looking with blue eyes and chiseled features. Even through his uniform you could tell this was a guy who worked out. He introduced himself to me, then asked me to introduce him to the ladies, which I did. Then he asked me to get him a cup of punch. He’s a major. I’m a sergeant. I did what I was told.
I kept an eye on him, he was obviously on the make, but the ladies wouldn’t give him the time of day, beyond what was required to be polite. Which confused me, because if there was a ‘type’ I thought the Velorians would go for, he was it.
I brought him his punch, he said ‘never mind’, so I drank it while he followed Kara across the floor, who was engaged in a conversation with Mrs. Johnson. When he couldn’t get her attention, he tried with Sharon.
Sharon was talking to Captain Moore. Aldrich tried the punch trick with her, she left to get it and before Aldrich could get a word out, Sharon turned and followed the Captain.
Next, he approached Gloria. I couldn’t hear what was being said, but I saw him turn red and walk away from her.
Xara was with Lateica. He looked their way but didn’t walk over. He obviously knew Xara was underage.
He started looking around and saw Kara and was about halfway across the room to her when the crowd parted a bit and he could see she was talking to General Rosenthal and Senator Jackson. That seemed to stop him in his tracks.
I was just watching all this, when a Colonel I knew from Walter Reed approached me and we started having a conversation, and he invited me to come over to the hospital if I had any free time. He said the docs and nurses loved to visit with former patients, to see how they were doing. The Johnson’s and Dixon’s were flying out in the evening, so I asked if me and my ‘family’, the ladies, could visit the hospital the next day. He readily agreed to it and he told me visitor’s passes would be available when I arrived.
People began to leave, and the general’s aid came to us and brought us to a room where we waited for just a few minutes, then were joined by the general who had arranged the transportation to Arlington.
It was a short drive, and we drove in and headed to the section where Dixon and Johnson, and several other soldiers I had known, were interred. We got out of the cars and followed the Dixon’s and Johnson’s to the gravesites. Their sons were buried next to each other.
As I looked out over the cemetery, a sense of peace settled over me. I saw apparitions rise from every grave. I couldn’t make out most of the faces. But Johnson and Dixon, I could, along with a couple of others I had served with. They stood over their graves looking down. As Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Dixon each put flowers on their son’s graves, I saw them smile, and then the apparitions descended back into the graves.
I didn’t know what was going on. This wasn’t like it was when I was suffering the effects of PTSD and I could see and talk to Dixon and Johnson. There was no conversation, and they never once looked at me. I don’t know what it was. Maybe my brain wasn’t as ‘fixed’ as I hoped it was with the STE, but I wasn’t agitated either. I truly felt at peace.
The families turned to me and asked me to say a few words. So I told them another couple of stories about their sons, how devoted they were to God, country and family, and how loyal they were to each other. There were tears, hugs, more tears and more hugs, and then we got in the cars and returned to our hotels.
Back at the hotel I said my good-byes to the Dixon’s and Johnson’s, they were going to checkout and head to the airport. At dinner the ladies met me in the hotel restaurant. We were seated and looking at the menus when something got Kara’s attention. She excused herself and got up and walked over to a nearby table where a couple of women had just been seated.
I asked the ladies, “Does Kara know them?”
“Just watch,” said Xara.
I saw Kara sit down. One of the women had put her phone down on the table. Kara, who was speaking to them in a low voice but smiling, reached for the phone, and crushed it. Just like that. Then she smiled at the women, got up and came back. The women got up from the table, picked up the broken phone and left the restaurant.
“What was that about Kara,” I asked her.
“They were attempting to surveil us. That phone was actually a listening device.”
“They seemed to know you.”
“Yes, we’ve met.”
And that was all she said about it. So I switched subjects.
“I saw that Major Aldrich gave you ladies a lot of attention. It looked to me like he was hitting on you.”
“He didn’t hit on me,” said Xara.
“Yes,” said Kara. “He did try to make an impression. Unfortunately for him, he’d already made a bad one.”
“Really?” I said. “I thought he was the kind of guy you’d go for. Tall, blonde, good looking, he looked more like a Velorian than any hum… Terran I’ve ever met.”
“And he’s hung pretty well, for a Terran,” said Xara.
“Looks aren’t everything Joe,” said Sharon.
“Seriously Sharon?” I asked.
“Well, let’s say his reputation proceeded him,” she said.
“Yes,” said Gloria. “I made it clear I was not interested in him.”
“Okay. So Sharon, did you have any luck with Captain Moore?”
“Sarah and I hit it off quite well. There is definitely potential there if I can get Kara to lighten up a little.”
“She’s too close to my operation now,” said Kara. “But if things work out well between her and Joseph, and we can keep Aldrich’s nose out of it, and if you can be discreet, Sharon, there may be a possibility for a booty call down the road. We’ll just have to see how things shake out. Mixing sex and business with Terrans always seems to get messy.”
“I know,” said Sharon. “It wasn’t on this planet, but the first time I ever closed a business deal with a Terran, I didn’t even get my clothes halfway off before his wife threw a hissy fit. That was certainly a learning experience.”
I must have looked stunned, because Kara laughed and said, “I don’t think Joseph is aware of that custom Sharon.”
“Oh, of course. Sorry Joe. Among Velorians, it is considered polite to celebrate the closing of a business deal with sex.”
“Velorians insert sex into everything they do Joe,” said Gloria.
“Arions don’t?” I asked.
“Not like the blondes. Nobody has as many reasons for having sex as the blondes.”
Sharon retorted with, “Who needs a reason?”
About halfway through dinner I remembered the invitation to visit the hospital. “If you guys are interested, I’m going over to Walter Reed tomorrow to catch up with some of the medical people who oversaw my recovery when I was there. You’re all invited.”
“I’d like to see a Terran medical facility,” said Gloria.
“I’m up for it,” said Xara.
Kara and Sharon said they were in too. So we agreed to meet for breakfast and go to the hospital after that.
I set my alarm for 0530 and got up the next morning to go for a run before breakfast. It was pretty quiet, the morning commute hadn’t started yet. That’s how I knew I was being followed. It was an SUV with tinted windows, I couldn’t see inside it. It stayed behind me about 50 feet or so. I would turn down a street and it would too.
It was freaking me out. I didn’t know what to do, it wasn’t like I was going to outrun an SUV, so I pushed the combination of buttons on my watch that sent an alert to Kara. In a minute or two, as I turned a corner, she came out of a doorway and started jogging next to me.
“The SUV, behind me Kara.”
“I know Joseph. I saw. Finish your run, I’ll take care of it.”
And she stopped and stepped out into the street right in front of the SUV. I stopped to watch. The SUV stopped about ten feet from her, and she wagged her finger at it. That’s all, just wagged her finger, and the SUV made a U-turn in the street and drove off.
Then she jogged back to me and said, “Finish your run Joseph. They won’t bother you again. I’ll see you at breakfast.” And she jogged off in a different direction.
At breakfast I asked Kara who was following me.
“They report to Colonel Baker,” she said. “They were the same two women I talked to at dinner last night.”
“They tried to follow us Prom night,” said Xara. “Mom intercepted them and kept them away from us.”
“Do you think they were the ones trying to bug my cabin?”
“No,” said Kara. “I interrogated them about that at the time. They knew nothing about it.”
“Am I going to constantly be looking for them?”
“No Joseph. I’ve taken steps to make sure you’ll be left alone. As will the rest of us at this table. You’ll hear more about that tomorrow.”
Kara and Sharon had each rented a car. The five of us got into the two cars and we headed out. It was rush hour, and that slowed us down a bit. It took 40 minutes to get to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda. As promised, visitors passes were waiting for us. We put them around our necks, and I led the ladies towards the burn unit. And right away started running into nurses and doctors who remembered me.
I introduced the ladies to them as my extended family. I did a that a lot that day. Every single male doctor, nurse, orderly… well, all the guys, wanted to meet them. So did a fair number of the female staff, and I could see Sharon appraising them.
The doctor who was in charge of the burn unit suggested I go visit the soldiers in there. She said it would do them good to meet someone who came out of there and got back into active duty. Well, I couldn’t really say that, what with all the mental issues, but I knew what she was getting at. I asked if the ladies could come along, and she smiled and said she thought that would be a great idea.
The blondes were scoping out the unit before we got there, looking through the walls. I could tell because the closer we got, the more concerned they looked. And when we got to the entry, Xara gasped. I turned to her and got in her face.
“No Xara! Uh uh. All of you, listen to me. These men don’t want or need your sympathy. They know what happened to them. They don’t need you to remind them. They don’t want you to feel sorry for them, they want…”
“They want to feel like they are men,” said Gloria.
I looked at Gloria and said, “That’s right. Gloria gets it. If you can go in there and talk to them and cheer them up without making them feel like objects of your pity, or breaking down in tears, then follow me. If you can’t, stay here.”
Xara got ahold of herself and stood up tall and said, “I can do that Joe.”
“Okay. Gloria, you’re good. Sharon, Kara, can you do that?”
They both nodded.
Sharon said, “Let’s pop some catheters.”
And in we went. And by God, they did it. They introduced themselves to the men, they talked to them, Xara helped a couple of them write letters. And Sharon, she actually got in bed with a few of them. I could faintly detect wildflowers and honey. I don’t know if any catheters actually popped out, but if they did, no one was complaining.
It wasn’t long before phones were coming out and the guys were getting selfies with one or more of the ladies. Kara started organizing it, to make sure everyone who wanted their picture taken with a beautiful woman, or two, or three or four had their chance. She even started doing cheesecake poses for the men, and Sharon turned it into a competition. And then the staff was lining up to get their pictures taken with the ladies.
At one point Gloria was off at the other end of the room surrounded by soldiers and a couple of nurses. I heard laughter and walked over to find out what was going on. She was telling them ribald jokes. I mean, the kind of jokes we’d make when we were up to our asses in an Iraqi sewer. I made a mental note to myself to ask her about this. She obviously had some military experience.
There was a wife, her name was Mary, with two small children visiting one of the soldiers, her husband, the kid’s dad. They were staying at Fischer House. We overheard her telling her husband she was going to try to get a ride to the nearest grocery store. Kara inserted herself right away and offered, no, told her that we’d take her to the store, and get her back to Fischer House. I thought her husband was going to cry, he was so grateful to her. She told him not to worry, his family would be looked after.
Kara, Gloria and I left to take Mary and her kids shopping while Sharon stayed to visit the women’s section of the burn unit and Xara stayed with the men. We took Mary and her kids to a Grocery store (where Kara paid for the groceries), then got them back to Fischer House and helped Mary put her groceries away. Then Kara excused herself for a couple of minutes, and when she came back she wrote a phone number down on a sheet of paper and gave it to Mary. She told her to call that number when she needed a ride somewhere and a car would come get her. If she needed something, the driver would either take her to the store and wait for her or take her list and do the shopping for her. Either way, the driver would pay the bill.
“That’s really nice of you,” I said to Kara. “You know, there are a lot of young families here in the same circumstances as Mary.”
“I know Joseph. I’m going to try to do something about that.” And that was the last she said of it. I found out later, from Xara, that she called her company later that day and directed her CFO to make a large donation to Fischer House.
We got back to Walter Reed and started looking for Xara and Sharon. It wasn’t hard to find them. It seemed everyone in the place knew where they were. When we caught up to them, they were both slightly flushed in the face. Sharon said, “I’ve never been around this many soldiers all in one place, already in bed, lined up and ready for me!”
Kara laughed and said, “Down girl. Let’s get you out of here.” And that ended our day at Walter Reed. A lot of guys had new fantasies after that day.
As we were leaving, one of the doctors took me aside and told me this was pretty much the best day those guys had had in a long time, and by the way Sergeant Ricci, how is it your relatives got all the good looks and you didn’t? I explained that we were related by marriage.
After we left Walter Reed, we had lunch at a local burger joint, and then Sharon drove me back to her hotel. We went up to her room and she worked off all the, um, energy(?) she built up visiting the soldiers.
“Was it just being around that many men in one place that got you worked up?”
“No Joe. It was being around that many soldiers, warriors really. I listened to their stories, I heard their courage and bravery and pride. Those of us with P1 genetics find that very attractive.”
I’d heard the ladies talk about that before, in reference to me. I guess I didn’t really believe it until now.
“You made a lot of guys happy today Sharon. I’m wondering what their girlfriends and wives will think if they ever see the pictures.”
“I hope they’ll think their men are every bit as attractive as I do,” she said.
We stayed in her room, in her bed, all afternoon. Sharon had a lot of energy to work off. Then we had dinner and she drove me back to my hotel. When I got to my room the message light was blinking. I checked the message, it was from Capt. Moore telling me a car would pick me up at 0800 in the morning.
In the morning I got up early and went for my run. No one was following me today. I got back to my room, showered, went downstairs for breakfast, and at 0800 a car pulled up in front of the hotel. This one driven by a corporal, who drove me to the Pentagon.
Capt. Moore was waiting for me on the other side of security. As we were walking to the meeting room, it was a long walk, the Pentagon is huge, she asked me if I knew what to expect.
“No ma’am, I don’t. I’m afraid I’m in the dark. Do you?”
“No sergeant. I’m afraid I’m in the dark too.”
We came to a secured area of the Pentagon and gave up our cell phones. They were put into lockers and we were given keys to them and told that we would get them back when we left the area. I didn’t mention the watch.
We arrived at the room and walked in. There were several junior officers in the room and several civilians. There was a large rectangular table in the center of the room with seats around it. There was a name placard at each place on the table. There was a placard with the name K. Zor-el near the head of the table. Neither my name nor Capt. Moore’s name was on a placard, so we took seats against the wall.
A few minutes before the meeting was scheduled to start a group of officers and civilians entered the room and started taking their places around the table. General Morrison, Col. Baker, Major Aldrich were all there. Senator Jackson was not.
Major Aldrich, Colonel Baker and General Morrison were huddling together, turning to look at me and Capt. Moore from time to time. Finally, General Morrison addressed us.
“Captain Moore, Sergeant Baker, you are excused.”
“Excuse me sir,” I said, “I have specific orders, issued by you, to be here.”
“I’m aware Sergeant. Those orders are revoked.”
Well, okay. So the Captain and I got up and left the room.
“Captain, do you know what that was all about?”
“I don’t sarge. I’m at as much of a loss as you are.”
We were almost around the corner of the hallway when I heard, “Captain Moore, where are you and Sergeant Ricci going?”
We turned to see who it was. It was General Rosenthal, accompanied by Kara, Senator Jackson and the Secretary of Defense.
“General,” Capt. Moore replied, “Sergeant Ricci and I were informed by General Morrison that we were excused from the meeting.”
Kara’s eyes flashed, and I felt the heat. She was pissed. Captain Moore must have felt it too, but she kept her composure and didn’t react.
“Sergeant,” General Rosenthal asked, “Don’t you have orders to be in that meeting?”
“Yes sir. General Morrison informed me that those orders are revoked.”
Another flash of heat from Kara.
“I see,” said the General. “I’m reinstating those orders. Both of you, please follow us.”
General Rosenthal has three stars. Morrison has two. Three trumps two so the Captain and I turned around and headed back towards the room, behind the others.
Kara stayed just outside the door while the rest of us walked in. Every eye turned, Morrison was obviously surprised, and looked angry, to see me and the Captain back in the room. But he looked even more surprised to see a senator, the SECDEF, and Rosenthal.
The SECDEF walked right up to the head of the table and stood there, waiting for the hubbub in the room to die down. When it did, and it did very quickly, he cleared his throat and announced that, by order of the President, the interagency taskforce, that’s all he said, just interagency taskforce, he didn’t say exactly which task force it was, was under the purview of General Rosenthal. And then he left the room.
General Rosenthal turned to General Morrison and asked why Moore and I had been dismissed. Morrison explained that the task force had met, and decided the liaison agreement needed reworking, and Major Aldrich would be the liaison. He handed General Rosenthal two binders. He explained the red binder contained the agreement worked out before, and the blue binder was the new agreement. Everyone at the table had a red binder and a blue binder in front of them.
“I see,” said General Rosenthal. “When were you planning to reopen negotiations with Ms. Zor-el?”
“No more negotiations General. This is the new agreement. She can take it or leave it.”
“We’ll have to see about that. Ms. Zor-el, would you please come in.”
Every eye turned to the door as Kara floated in, her feet never touching the floor, and several people gasped. She was dressed in a blouse and a jacket, that looked very businesslike, and had a brief case. Again, very businesslike. But she was wearing a very, very short skirt that showed off her perfect legs. Definitely not businesslike. And certainly not Pentagon businesslike.
She floated up to the head of the table, next to General Rosenthal. She was only a couple of inches off the floor, but that made her look like the tallest person in the room.
“Ms. Zor-el,” he said, “There seems to be some confusion here, or at least I’m confused. I see two agreements here, one I understand was negotiated with you, and I see a second one, which I’m led to believe is to be imposed upon you.”
He handed her his blue binder. She took it from him, paged through it very quickly, then tore it in half. Then in half again. She made it look as easy as tearing a single sheet of paper. I saw jaws drop. And then I noted just a hint of honey and wildflowers, and I looked around the room and saw several men attempting to adjust themselves in their seats.
“General Rosenthal,” she said, “I’m here to discuss the implementation of this agreement.” She pointed to the red binder. “If that is no longer the agreement between myself and your government, I’ll leave now so as not to waste anymore of your time or mine.”
General Rosenthal looked around the room and said, “The agreement we negotiated with Ms. Zor-el is the agreement that will be in place. If anyone has any objections now is the time to raise them.”
Major Aldrich immediately spoke up. “Sir, we’re being asked to funnel all contact with the aliens through a Captain and a non-commissioned officer, personnel who we did not pick, and we have no idea why they were. Ms. Zor-el has refused to explain. Sergeant Ricci has no training for this and is being put into a highly sensitive position which should be held by a senior officer of our choosing. Many of us in this room have seen Sgt. Ricci’s service and medical records. He suffers from PTSD and is on some very strong medications to control it. He is not fit for this position, if anything, he should be in Iraq or Afghanistan where his combat experience can be put to good use.”
I tried to keep my composure, but the idea of being sent back into the shit made my heart start racing, and not in a good way. I’m not fit for a liaison position, but I am fit to go back into combat? How the hell does that work? I’m a professional soldier. I have done and will continue to do my duty, and if the Army decides I’m needed over there, I’ll go and without complaint. Still, it isn’t something I look forward to.
I think Kara saw my discomfort, her eyes flashed again. She wasn’t looking at me when it happened though, she was looking at the Major. She was just starting to open her mouth to speak when General Rosenthal started to speak.
“I put the Silver Star on Sergeant Ricci the day before yesterday. I’ve gone over his record in detail. Major, you could panel one wall of your office with his purple hearts.”
Then he looked my way as he continued.
“Sergeant Ricci has shed enough of his own blood in service to his country. If Ms. Zor-el wants him, she is going to get him.”
While Aldrich and Rosenthal were talking, Kara reached into her brief case and pulled out a shiny metal ball, about four inches in diameter. She started working it in her hands, like it was putty.
“General Rosenthal,” she said, “There are many more people in this meeting than I expected, more than I agreed to. I would like to go around the room and have each person introduce him or herself and explain why they are here. We’ll start with the people along the wall.”
“Very well,” said the general. “Let’s start over here,” he pointed at me, “and work our way around.”
I was about to stand up and introduce myself when Kara stopped me.
“I know Sgt. Ricci and Capt. Moore. Let’s start with the woman to the left of the captain.”
She introduced herself. She was a civilian member of an agency, I don’t know which one, she used the acronym that seemed to use most of the alphabet, and explained that she was there at the direction of one of the men at the table.
Kara said, “Thank you. I do not require your presence here. You are excused. Please leave.”
The guy at the table she works for objected, said he had the right to bring personnel to meetings that he deemed appropriate and a bunch of other stuff I don’t remember. Because what happened next shocked everyone in the room.
While the guy was blustering on, Kara tore a small piece of metal from the ball she was working, rolled it into a BB sized ball between her thumb and forefinger and flicked it straight up. It must have broken the sound barrier, because there were two pops. One from the small sonic boom and one from the ball hitting and embedding itself in the ceiling.
The room fell into a shocked silence. Kara was glaring at the guy. He tried to meet her stare, but she had obviously shaken him. He looked down and away from her and directed his subordinate to leave the room.
“Please leave your red binder here,” said Kara.
She did so and left.
And then it continued, one by one, and soon the only people left against the wall were me and Capt. Moore. There were a lot of red faces, but no one objected, they were too intimidated by Kara.
Then she started on the people at the table. She found all but four of them acceptable and then asked me and Captain Moore to move to the table.
“I believe,” said Kara, “that there is a slide presentation to accompany the information in the red binders you have in front of you.”
General Rosenthal looked to General Morrison. General Morrison was red in the face and appeared to be perspiring. Pointing to his red binder, he said, “We didn’t bring the presentation for this document. We produced a new presentation for this,” and he pointed to his blue binder.
Kara smiled at him and said, “No problem General. I brought my own.” And she pulled out a USB drive from her brief case and handed it to General Rosenthal.
General Rosenthal gave the USB drive to General Morison, who gave it to Major Aldrich, who plugged it into a port in the table. There was a mouse and keyboard there, and he pushed some buttons and the lights in the room dimmed and a screen came down. He opened the presentation and then started going through it.
It was a PowerPoint presentation, and each slide referenced and ‘summarized’ a section of the document in the red binder. I put summarized in scare quotes because it was the most detailed summary I have ever seen. It covered protocols, agreements between agencies and the agreement with the ‘aliens’, which meant Kara.
The presentation began with a description of the Arion threat. Jesus Christ, if PTSD wasn’t already giving me nightmares, this presentation would. Kara described Arion conquests that varied from disruption and takeover of planetary governments, to enslavement and deportation of populations to complete planetary genocide. In a few cases planets and their populations were made subjects of the Arion Empire, with the population having the status of serfs. In other cases, some planets openly allied themselves with the Arions, which gave them a minimum amount of autonomy. Other planets were neutral and had Arion missions and embassies. When asked if it was possible for Earth to have that status, Kara just said no, those planets had advanced technology and space forces that could hold off a moderately sized Arion invasion fleet.
Kara described what the Arions call the Near Earth Command (NEC). She pointed out where it was and how it was defended. Which didn’t really make much difference, NEC was physically located on Neptune. No way for Terrans to get to it, let alone threaten it.
To summarize a summary, the U.S. government would share intelligence information gathered from within and without the United States with Kara, and she would share information back with them. The information to be shared was fairly broad. Kara was interested in any sudden and unexplained changes in crime rates around the world. Changes in the board of directors and management of large companies, especially tech companies and companies with large government contracts. She wanted information on insurgencies happening anywhere on the planet, and sudden changes in government policies. She wanted information on unexplained phenomena, such as UFO reports. She wanted information on any new technologies being introduced that appeared to be revolutionary, rather than evolutionary. That explained why a representative from the patent office was at the meeting.
In return Kara would provide the U.S. Government with information on Arion intelligence and counterintelligence practices. Basically, the Arion playbook. She would provide information on how to detect Arion cloaked vessels and communications and suggest locations where they may have established operations. The government would discreetly investigate those locations and if there was any evidence that an Arion operation may be taking place, notify Kara.
Over time, the U.S. intelligence agencies would subtly and carefully reach out to their foreign counterparts and read them in on the threat and obtain their help. As a concession, Kara agreed not to approach other governments herself for an unspecified period of time. This seemed to me to be some kind of political concession. It didn’t make sense to me, but a lot of heads were nodding in agreement.
The agreement made it clear, and Kara emphasized, that it was much too dangerous for Terrans to confront suspected Arions. She was to be notified and she would handle it.
All communications between aliens, that is, Kara, and the government would run through me and Captain Moore. We would both be supplied with a secure means of communications technology, alien hardware and software, with which to conduct the communication. Kara cautioned the government against trying to hack into the equipment. The equipment supplied to the government would be keyed to Capt. Moore’s ‘biomarkers’, the equipment I used would be keyed to mine. Any attempt to break into the equipment or hack it would result in a violent self-destruct. She didn’t elaborate.
At the end of the presentation there was a short imbedded video. Major Aldrich hit the play button. It showed Kara standing in front of a large sand berm. The scene zoomed out to show various military personnel and weapons.
First up was a machine gun. It opened fire on Kara and shot through an entire belt. The camera zoomed in to show Kara completely unhurt, with spent ammunition littered around her.
Next, she was attacked with a flame thrower. Kara never moved, though the force of the jet of flames did blow her hair around. Didn’t even singe it though.
Next she was attacked by field artillery and a couple of tanks. She smiled all the way through the attack. Then a Daisy Cutter was dropped on her. No effect.
Two Abrams tanks were driven up to her. One attempted to run her over. It couldn’t budge her. Then the two tank crews dismounted and left the area. Kara looked hard at one tank and focused a red beam of light, lasers, I don’t know, heat vision. The tank became red hot, then white hot, then burst into flame as it sagged and melted.
She walked up to the second tank, then crawled under it and disappeared. Then the tank rose up and you could see Kara standing under it, holding it above her head. Her arms flexed slightly, then in a blur the tank shot straight up. The camera operator lost sight of the tank for a moment, then found it, on its way down from I don’t know how high up. Then Kara came into view, under the tank, matching speed with it as it came down, then she shot straight up and through it, the tank exploding into pieces. As the pieces fell the video zoomed out so you could see the pieces of the tank hitting the ground.
The video ended and the lights came up. You could see the look of stunned disbelief on every face in the room. Hell, I was stunned. The blondes had told me they were invulnerable, but that’s not the same as seeing it demonstrated. I mean, yeah, I saw Xara take a burst from a BAR, but that’s not the same as shrugging off a 150mm howitzer shell.
Kara said, “Just as I survived these attacks, so would an Arion Prime. The Arion Betas are not quite as tough but would only succumb to overwhelming force. You do not want to approach an Arion. Leave them to me.
An officer in the room raised his hand, Kara nodded in his direction.
“Ms. Zor-el, have you ever faced an Arion Prime in combat? And if so, what was the outcome?”
“I have, on more than one occasion. A battle between an Arion and a Velorian is always a fight to the death. And a word of caution, Arions aren’t bothered by collateral damage.” She didn’t need to say any more about that.
Kara sat down, the first time she had sat down since she entered the room, and General Rosenthal stood up. “Are there any other questions? No. Very well.
“Sgt. Ricci, stay seated son, when you return home, you’ll find orders to report to Fort Huachuca, Arizona for eighteen weeks of counterintelligence training. As of right now, you report directly to Ms. Zor-el. You will receive written orders to that effect that spell out the reporting relationship and other, tangential matters.
“Ms. Zor-el, have I forgotten anything?”
“Surveillance,” said Kara.
“Ah, thank you. I have been made aware that various organizations have been surveilling, or have attempted to surveil, Ms. Zor-el, her organization and her family. As of today, Ms. Zor-el is our trusted partner. All surveillance is to cease immediately, including surveillance of Sgt. Ricci.
“This meeting is adjourned.”
Kara and General Rosenthal left the room, followed by General Morrison. Everyone else milled around for a few minutes, discussing what they had just seen in the video. I heard someone say, “Christ almighty, look at that!”
Everyone turned to look. Kara had left the metal ball she had been playing with on the table. Only it wasn’t a metal ball anymore. It was deformed. Like it was a piece of soft clay that she had squeezed in her hand. Someone picked it up and commented on how heavy it was and warm to the touch. Then he said he was keeping it as a souvenir. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t the highest-ranking person in the room. I’m not sure who it was who eventually ended up with it.
Major Aldrich told me and Capt. Moore to follow him back to his office. We all left together, retrieved our phones and walked, in silence, quite a distance to his office. We walked in and he shut the door. He sat down. He didn’t offer the me or the captain a seat, so we stood. I felt my watch vibrate. Kara was listening.
“Sergeant, Captain, do either you know how General Rosenthal became involved in this project?”
Neither of us knew.
“Do either of you know where Zor-el got a copy of that presentation?”
Neither of us knew.
“Sergeant Ricci, I’m getting very tired of asking questions and not getting answers. That stops now. How do you know the aliens?”
“Sir, I have specific orders that I am not to discuss any aspect of my relationship with the… aliens.”
“I don’t give a fuck about your orders. Answer the fucking question.”
“Sir, I am unable to do so.”
“Sergeant, you should carefully reconsider. I’m prepared to take action against you if you don’t.”
“Sir, may I ask what action you plan to take?”
He was getting angry. He was raising his voice. “I’ve been watching you sergeant. I know about your prom date with that little super twat. I know about your camping trip with those flying cunts and that dark-haired bitch. I know they’ve been spending time at your cabin. It would be very easy to bring charges against you.”
“Charges for what, sir?”
He yelled at me, “Sex with a minor. Admit it Sergeant, you’ve been fucking little miss Danni Banks, haven’t you?” He was red in the face, spittle was flying out of his mouth.
“Sir,” said Captain Moore, “If you have charges to bring against the sergeant, then bring them. Otherwise this line of questioning is inappropriate.”
He shouted at her. “No one asked your opinion captain. Keep it to yourself.”
“Sir, I have not done anything to justify charges,” I said. I was getting pissed off now. First, because I was being accused of something I hadn’t done. Second, because it was exactly what I had tried to tell the Supremis would happen. But I was maintaining my composure. Even when Dixon and Johnson starting popping in and out of the room, telling me I should kick this guy’s ass, I stayed calm.
“So you say sergeant. If you were just a little slower getting home, I’d have proof by now. But I’ll be watching you sergeant. And when you slip up, I’ll have you, and you’ll be on your way to a long stay at Leavenworth.”
“Sir, ‘slower getting home?’ Did you try to bug my cabin Major?”
He was red in the face and getting redder. He was glowering at me. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Get out of here!”
Captain Moore and I both left.
“Sergeant, was your cabin bugged?”
“Someone tried ma’am. I walked in on it and was hit from behind. My friends found bugs and removed them.”
“You think the Major did it?”
“If he didn’t, I think he knows who did.”
“I can look into it for you sarge.”
“Ma’am, I don’t think that would be productive. And you have to work with the man. There are others looking into it, I think it best for both of us if you don’t involve yourself.”
“Okay sarge, I’ll leave it alone. Is there any truth at all to the Major’s accusation that you have had sex with a minor?”
“No ma’am. Absolutely not. I would never do that.” I didn’t tell her how Xara was tempting me. It wouldn’t matter anyway. She’s a child, I’m an adult. It is up to me to do the right thing. I wish I could convince Xara of that.
“Very well Sergeant. I believe you. Since we’ll be working together, may I buy you dinner tonight?”
“Do you like lobster sarge?”
“Alright. I’ll get a car to take you back to your hotel. I’ll pick you up there at 1830. Dress casual, shorts and a shirt, we’ll have a table outside.”
I left the captain, and my watch vibrated again. Kara had turned monitoring off. Shorts and a shirt at dinner. Thank God. This area is very hot and humid during the summer.
High above the Pentagon, Kara, Xara and Sharon were listening to the conversation in Major Aldrich’s office.
“I think we know who is responsible for the attack on Joe,” said Sharon.
“I know what I’m going to do,” said Xara.
“Xara, wait,” said Kara.
“Mom, I promised Joe. Our Kiraling could have died. We can’t let this go.”
“You’re right Xara, we can’t. But Major Aldrich is married to Senator Jackson’s daughter. I’ve become very fond of the Senator, and he’s become important to my work here. Avenge Joseph, but don’t make the Senator’s daughter a widow, or take his grandchildren’s father away from them.”
Major Aldrich was pissed off at Ricci. He was pissed off at Rosenthal. He was pissed off at Kara. He was pissed off at Moore for interrupting him, and he was pissed off at himself. He’d nearly given away that he was behind the failed attempt to bug Ricci’s cabin, and therefore responsible for the attack on him. Fucking contractor.
His plan was to get rid of Ricci and take over the liaison position himself. Then he could get rid of that fucking dyke, Moore, and start working on Kara. It had taken him weeks to convince that moron, Morrison, to agree to changing the agreement. But then Rosenthal got in the way. Where did that come from? Well, he knew the answer to that. Somehow his father-in-law had gotten wind of what was in the works and went to the SECDEF. Fucking civilians.
He was stressed. And there was no better relief for stress than an hour with Mona. He picked up his cell phone and called her, to make sure she was available. She was. His next call was to his wife, Arlene, to let her know that he’d be working late. She promised to keep dinner warm for him.
He busied himself with trivial office work until 1700, then left in his BMW. Oh, how he loved that car. His wife had given it to him for a birthday present. His wife’s money was locked up pretty tight, due to the pre-nup her father had insisted on, but she was generous with it. The car, his watch, his specially tailored uniforms, she paid for it all. She even paid for his mistresses, though she didn’t know that. He knew some tricks her daddy didn’t know. Or at least he thought he did.
He always took a long route to Mona’s place that involved driving out into the country for a while before coming back into the city. There were plenty of open stretches with little or no traffic, which made it much easier to see if he was being followed. He had the good life. He didn’t want it ruined if Arlene or her father became suspicious and started having him followed.
The road he was on passed by several abandoned farms on the left, with a river on the right, partially screened by large, old oak trees. He was looking at the scenery and almost saw Xara descend from the sky and land in front of his car too late. Almost, but not quite. He slammed on the brakes and the car came to a stop just inches from her thighs.
She was wearing her flight suit, which left little to the imagination, and was barefoot. He just sat in his car, gawking at her. She had her arms folded across her chest and was tapping her toe. Evidentially he wasn’t going to get out of the car on his own.
She came around the front of the car, towards the driver’s side door. That snapped Aldrich out of his stupor. He leaned over and opened the glove box and took out his Glock. He had it in his hands just as Xara shoved her hand through the door panel, just below the handle, and pulled it open. She reached in and unbuckled Aldrich, then grabbed him by the front of his uniform jacket and pulled him out of the car, while releasing her fear pheromones. He raised the Glock to fire at her and in the blink of an eye she took it out of his hand and threw him across the road, into the field. He rolled and landed on his back, a little bruised, but otherwise unhurt.
She walked towards him, looking at him.
“Super twat!? Flying cunts!?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Whatever Ricci told you, it’s a lie! He’s a liar!”
“Joe didn’t tell me anything. We were listening. Didn’t mom tell you we can see and hear through walls?”
She was standing over him now. He tried to get up. She pushed him down with her foot before he could.
“I didn’t tell you to get up. Stay there.”
“You fucking aliens! You think you can come to this planet and push us around, threaten us!? This is our planet! This is our country! You have no rights here!”
Xara replied, “I was born in California, asshole. I’m an American citizen.” And then she tossed the Glock down on the ground beside him and took a couple of steps back.
Aldrich looked at the Glock, then at her. He wasn’t sure if he was fast enough to get to it before she could get to him. But then she turned away from him.
“Stay there, I’ll be right back.”
She saw a couple of broken tree branches lying on the ground. They weren’t too big, she picked one up in each hand and turned back towards Aldrich.
While she had her back turned, he sat up, grabbed the Glock, pulled the slide back and pointed the gun at her. “Don’t come any closer or I’ll shoot.”
Xara smiled at him, it was a beautiful smile and it almost unnerved him. But she was coming closer, so he pulled the trigger. He aimed for center of mass and he hit her, but it didn’t leave any marks on her. The bullet just collapsed against her and fell to the ground.
He fired again, and again. She kept smiling at him and walking towards him. When she was just a few feet away she crouched down, so her face was level with his. He finished the magazine firing directly into her face and head. He saw sparks fly where the bullets grazed her and ricocheted. When the magazine was empty, she put the branches down, then reached out and took the gun from his trembling hands and tossed it over her shoulder. It flew across the road, over the trees and landed in the middle of the river.
Aldrich didn’t know what to do. He pulled his cell phone out and was fumbling with it when Xara took it away from him, very gently, so as not to hurt either him or the phone.
“You don’t need that right now. What you need to do is answer my questions.”
“I’m not telling you anything!”
“We’ll see.” And she leaned into him and gave him another small dose of fear pheromone.
“First question, did you bug Joe’s cabin and attack him?”
“No! No! I didn’t!”
“She smiled at him again and said, “Very good Major, you’re telling the truth. We can tell, you know. Now, I’m going to ask some more questions. It will go very badly for you if you lie to me. Less badly if you tell the truth and I don’t like it.
“Do you know who bugged Joe’s cabin and attacked him?”
“Yes.” It came out almost as a whimper.
“Good. How do you know?”
“Because I hired the man who did it.”
“I was investigating Ricci. Trying to find out what was going on between you and him.”
“Well, really Major, that is none of your business. Now, I see you have a pen and a notebook in your pockets. Take them out.”
“Write down the name of the person who bugged the cabin and attacked Joe.”
He did. She took the notebook from him and put it in her cape.
“Did you order him to attack Joe?”
“No! No, I didn’t! He was surprised when Ricci came home early. I didn’t tell him to do anything like that. He was supposed to bug the cabin and get out. The attack wasn’t my fault.”
“Oh Major, I’m afraid you’re wrong there. You hired the man, that makes you responsible for the attack.”
“No! No I’m not!”
Xara released a little more of her fear pheromones, then said, gently, “I’m afraid you are. And you have to pay for it.
“The relationship we have with Joe is… special. You wouldn’t understand it, so I won’t try to explain. Let’s just say an attack like that, against someone who is that special to us, requires the most extreme response.”
“No! You can’t! Ricci is fine now! Whatever happened, he’s fine now! I have a wife and children! Please, I have a wife and children.”
Xara sighed and said, “Yes. You do. And because your father-in-law has become very good friends with my mother, and because she believes that he is important to her mission here, she has asked that I spare your life, and I have promised her I would.”
Aldrich was visibly relieved. “Thank you! Thank you. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I’ll leave Ricci alone.”
“Oh,” said Xara, “I didn’t mean to give you the wrong impression. I agreed not to kill you. There is a lot I can do that comes up short of killing you. See those branches? Look at the one on the left.”
He looked, she blasted it with her heat vision, and it burned to ashes in a matter of seconds, and the ashes blew away.
“That’s what I had planned for you,” she said. “Only not that quickly. I was going to let you scream for a few hours first. Watch the other branch.”
She turned her heat vision on the other branch, and this one started to burn, but slowly. “See, I was going to burn you slowly, then do this.” And she ramped up the power and the branch disintegrated, like the first one.
“I could burn you like that and stop just short of killing you. Or I could crush a vertebra and leave you a paraplegic, or a quadriplegic. Or I could do something else.” She released a large dose of fear pheromones and asked, sweetly, “Would you like to help me decide what to do to you?”
His bladder and bowels emptied themselves and he started to cry.
“Well, that’s quite a mess. Get up, get back in your car.”
She held out her hand to him. He looked at it, then reached out for it, and she gently helped him back to his feet and walked him back to his car. His entire body was trembling, his legs were weak, and she had to put an arm around him and let him lean on her else he would have collapsed.
“Get in,” she said.
He got in, then asked, “May I have my phone back please?”
“No,” she said. “I’m going to need it. Now, put your seat belt on.” He did.
“Start your car.”
“Put your foot on the brake and hold it there and put the car in drive.”
“Now, sit on your hands.”
“You’ll see. Just do it.”
He did it. He was looking up at her, tears running down his cheeks. She almost felt sorry for him.
“I’m afraid this door is going to have to be replaced, but I think I can make it close.”
She forced the door closed, then bent the frame so it would stay in place. Then she walked around to the passenger side and bent the frame, and tested it, the door wouldn’t open. At least not for a Terran.
She looked in the window, “Remember, keep your foot on the brake and sit on your hands. Got it?”
Then Xara went around to the back of the car. “Skietra,” she thought. “This is one of the models I tried to talk mom into buying for me. What a waste.”
She reached down under the bumper and lifted and turned the car so it was pointing at one of the oak trees, then she accelerated it, hard, into the tree. The car hit the tree and the front-end caved in. The airbags deployed, and one hit Aldrich hard, in the face, as his face was moving towards it. Between the seat belt, and having his hands under his butt, nothing was broken except Aldrich’s nose.
Xara walked around the car and surveyed the damage. The car was totaled. He’d kept his foot on the brake so there were skid marks to make it look like an accident. Aldrich had a broken nose, and a cut on his face from the air bag, and was in a daze, but wasn’t hurt too much. She thought about leaving it at that, but decided, no, that wasn’t enough.
She found another branch on the ground and used that to puncture the BMW's gas tank. She let the gas flow out of the tank, down towards the front of the car, then ignited it with her heat vision. Xara carefully watched the progress of the flames. Aldrich, inside the car, came to his senses and saw what was happening. The interior of the car was getting hot, and starting to fill with smoke, but the flames hadn’t reached him. He tried to open, first his door, then the passenger side door, but couldn’t budge them. The windows wouldn’t open either. He panicked and started screaming for help.
His screams went up in pitch when the flames entered the passenger compartment. When they started to lick at his uniform jacket and pants, Xara stepped forward, pulled open the door and pulled Aldrich out of the car and a safe distance away from it. Moments later the car was fully involved in flame.
Xara examined the major very carefully. His injuries would heal, his burns were painful but not deep, mostly first degree, a little bit of second degree. He’d live. He wasn’t as hurt as she wanted him to be, but her conscience was starting to bother her, and she decided he’d had enough. Or had as much as she could bring herself to inflict on him.
She still had his cell phone. She dialed 911 and reported a car fire and gave the location. Once she was sure the emergency dispatcher understood where the “accident” was, she broke open the phone, pulled out the sim card and vaporized it with her heat vision, then threw the remains of the phone into the river.
Aldrich, emotionally, was in a very bad state. Through his tears, he asked, “What are you going to do to me?”
Xara answered, “Nothing more. You deserve more, but I’m not an Arion.”
He tried to thank her for sparing his life, but she told him, “Shut up. I don’t want to hear anything from you.”
She waited with him, listening to him sob, while she listened to approaching sirens. When she judged they were close enough, going in the right direction, she turned to the major and said, “You lost control of your car and hit a tree. That’s it. You will tell no-one what really happened here. Not your wife, not your father-in-law, not Captain Moore, and certainly not Joe. If you do tell anyone, I will come for you, and I will not be as gentle with you as I have been today. Do you understand?”
“I have to hear it.”
“What do you understand?”
“That I hit a tree. Nothing more.”
“I’ll never tell anyone what really happened here.”
“If I do, you’ll kill me.”
“Good. You understand. There are just a couple of more things to cover. Joe and I have not had sex. He has been nothing but a gentleman with me.
“Captain Moore may work for you, but mom chose her because she likes her. Be careful how you treat the captain. We’ll be watching.”
Then she remembered a trick her mother once used. She went behind Aldrich and placed her hands on his shoulders. He started whimpering.
“Hush now, this will only hurt a little bit.”
She used a fingernail to slightly open the skin on his neck, then pinched it. Aldrich jumped, but she held him down, leaned forward and said, “Just to make sure you behave, I implanted a tracking device. Alien technology, undetectable. From now until the day you die, I’ll be able to find your location anywhere on the planet.”
And with that Xara leapt up into the air and out of sight, joining Kara and Sharon who were far overhead watching.
Sharon said, “Do you think he’d shit himself again if I dropped down there and said: my turn now?”
All three of them laughed. Kara said, “I think he’s had enough. Xara, are you satisfied that Joseph has been avenged?”
“I am mom. He deserved more, but I just couldn’t. Skietra, he was so fucking helpless. I thought I’d feel good about doing this. But I don’t.”
Kara hugged her daughter and said, “I know. You stopped because you’re a good person honey. Even in anger, you know when it is time for punishment to end and mercy to begin.”
Captain Moore arrived promptly at 1830. In a Porsche. Wow! Nice car! We were going out of town, to a restaurant on the water. We made small talk for a while, then she was quiet for a minute, and asked, in a tentative voice, “How well do you know Sharon Best?”
Now, this was an uncomfortable question, for several reasons. First, I was still under orders from Kara not to discuss my relationship with the ladies. And, second, if Sharon was right about the captain’s sexual orientation, I was being asked to be in the middle of a romantic situation. Do I dare kiss and tell?
“Umm, captain, can you be more specific?”
“I’d much rather beat around the bush sarge.”
“So would I ma’am. But given the restrictions on what I can discuss, I think directness is the best approach.”
She sighed. “After you received your medal, and introduced us, she seemed very… interested… in me. Do you know what I mean sergeant?”
“Yes ma’am. Unfortunately, I do. And I really wish I didn’t.”
“Then we must be thinking the same thing sergeant.”
“Yes ma’am. I believe you are correct.”
“So… her interest in me?”
“Ma’am, the day before you met her, Ms. Best asked me, in no uncertain terms, to introduce you to her. And I did, hoping that would be the end of my involvement.”
“Ah. I see sergeant. I’ll try to keep your involvement to a minimum.”
“Captain, can you try to keep my involvement at zero?”
She laughed. Then asked, “So, do you know her well enough to know if she is the shy one who waits for… someone else to take the… initiative? Or is she… bolder?”
“Ma’am, bolder doesn’t come anywhere near describing her. Think of a hungry lion and a helpless lamb. Ms. Best is always the lion. Her target is always the lamb. And Ms. Best is always hungry.”
“I see sergeant. Well, I didn’t get to the rank of captain in the army by being a helpless lamb.”
“No ma’am. But you really don’t know Ms. Best.”
“So… do you think… I’ll have the opportunity… to get to know her?”
“Ma’am, if it wasn’t for the complications, I’m certain you’d be getting to know her better right now.”
“Complications?” she asked.
“Ms. Zor-el has security concerns, captain.”
We drove the rest of the way in uncomfortable silence. Which was fine with me, it was much less uncomfortable than the conversation we’d been having.
We arrived at the restaurant and were told our table for three would be ready in just a couple of minutes.
“I only made a reservation for two,” said Captain Moore.
“Reservation for Sarah Moore?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“We have it down as a table for three.”
We were seated in a couple of minutes, and just as we were opening our menus…
It was Sharon. She sat down, opened her menu, and said, “I’m starving! Have you two ordered yet?”
“Ms. Best,” said Captain Moore, “How did you know…?”
“Call me Sharon,” said Sharon. “Joe can tell you that we have ways of… knowing.”
“It’s best not to ask ma’am. Trust me, you’ll be happier if you don’t.” So much for complications.
I was kind of a third wheel, but I wasn’t too bothered by it. Watching Sharon work a ‘target’ was like getting a masters class in seduction. She knew exactly when to smile, when to laugh, when to ask just the right question, when to reach out and touch an arm or hand, in no time at all she had Captain Moore eating out of her hand. Without using pheromones. Or at least not using pheromones that I could detect.
And she picked up the check too. Which was a good thing, because she ordered a large dinner, had a large dessert, and finished off my dessert when I was full.
When the meal was over and it was time to leave, Sharon gave me her car keys and whispered in my ear, “Leave your sliding door unlocked tonight.”
I found Sharon’s rental in the parking lot, set the GPS for my hotel, and left.
I got back to my hotel, showered, and hit the sack. It had been a long day, and I was tired.
It must have been about 3 am when I rolled over in bed and bumped into Sharon.
“Good morning sleepy head.”
All three blondes were on my bed. Sharon was in it.
Kara said, “Joseph, we won’t keep you long. We have confirmed that Major Aldrich was behind the attack on you in your cabin. He paid someone to plant surveillance devices, and we have that person’s name.”
Xara said, “He admitted to it. He won’t be bothering you anymore.”
“Kill him? No,” said Xara
“You probably don’t want to know anymore,” said Sharon.
I didn’t say anything.
“As far as the agent who attacked you is concerned, we will deal with him,” said Kara. “You can consider the matter closed.”
And then Kara and Xara both kissed me and left through the sliding glass door. Sharon stayed.
“You were a really good sport about me crashing your dinner Joe. That deserves a special reward.”
She spent the next three hours rewarding me.
Before she left, I asked her how it went with Captain Moore.
“She’s definitely going into my little black book Joe. I wasn’t disappointed. Never a word about Sarah to Deb.”
“My lips are sealed.”
I dressed and packed, went downstairs for breakfast, then checked out of my hotel and caught a shuttle to the airport. First class back to SeaTac, and the army sent a car to take me home.
Major Aldrich spent the night in the emergency room. In the morning he was released, and as he was getting dressed Kara walked into his room with a box in her hands.
When Aldrich saw her, he just about shit himself again. He started trembling and backing up, until he backed up against the bed, then sat down on it.
“Peace,” said Kara. “My people believe in forgiveness and redemption, and the payment of debt. You have paid yours; we can start over with a clean slate if you are willing.”
Aldrich opened his mouth to speak, but he couldn’t get any words out.
“I don’t want you to be my enemy Major, and I can assure you that you don’t want me to be yours.”
“Would you like to start over with me Major, with a clean slate?”
He tried, again to speak, and again, he couldn’t get any words out, so he just nodded.
“Good,” said Kara. “This is for you.”
And she set the box down on a chair, turned and left the room.
After he was sure she was gone, Aldrich got up, walked over to the chair, and picked up the box. It was a new cell phone, the latest model, much better than the one Xara destroyed. There was a note attached that said it had the same phone number as his old phone.
What he didn’t know was that the phone had been modified with alien technology, built into the circuitry to be undetectable, with a separate power supply and transmitter. Kara would be able to listen in to any conversation over the phone, see every text message it sent or received, access all the phones apps, and listen to any sound that made it to the phone’s mic, whether it was turned on or not.