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Kiraling – Part 22 (Chapter 140-152)

Written by anonxyzus :: [Saturday, 10 July 2021 00:22] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 10 July 2021 09:51]

Kiraling - Part 22 (Chapter 140-152)

Chapter 140

For the next six weeks, I didn’t know where Xara was. All Kara would tell me was that she was “in training,” learning to control her expanded abilities. She told me not to worry, Xara would fill me in when she returned.

In the meantime, Gloria worked on my fitness and showed me how to use the lightsaber. Gloria said the name for it best translates to GAR blade. I prefer lightsaber. Anyway, you use it like you would a short knife, except you never, ever touch what, on an actual knife, would be the blade. If you do, you’ll lose fingers.

We got into a disagreement over what firearm I would carry with me. I wanted a small revolver. Well, what I really wanted was a GAR pistol, but that wasn’t going to happen. I preferred the revolver over a semi-automatic pistol because if you are carrying a concealed weapon, and you draw, things are serious. And when things are serious, you don’t need a jam. Very few things can go wrong with a revolver.

Gloria, on the other hand, wanted me to carry something that held more than five rounds, was easy to reload, and could get a lot of lead downrange very quickly.

“Gloria, if I’m going into a firefight in a combat zone, I’ll carry an M4 with a Glock or Sig Saur as a backup. But if this is everyday carry, and I’m not going anywhere more dangerous than the mall or the grocery store, a small revolver will do fine.”

She appealed to Kara; Kara sided with me. I went with a hammerless .357 that can also fire .38 Special.

For situations that I knew going in were dangerous, I agreed to carry a semi-auto. It was fun, going to the range to try out different revolvers and pistols. Mona came with us, she had fun too, but Gloria and I had to intervene when she put the barrel of a pistol to her breast to find out what it felt like to be shot.

Kara and Sharon had put their businesses into the hands of trusted subordinates while we were in Switzerland, but there was still a lot of work for them to do when they returned so I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with them. The result was that Gloria put me back on my meds halfway through the second week Xara was gone. And of course, when I’m on my meds, my appetite almost completely disappears, so she was all but force feeding me. And beyond that, when I was on my meds everything became just a little bit fuzzy for me. I had to concentrate harder on my language lessons. My reaction time increases. I’m impotent. One consolation, Dixon and Johnson were still with me.

Kara had told me the homes on my road, which she had purchased, would be torn down, and there were crews doing that. A lot of crews. Kara must have spent a lot of money because the result was that if you didn’t know homes had been there, you’d have no clue.

With all the workers around, Gloria thought this would be the ideal time to simulate an emergency where the cabin had to be sealed up. I’m not sure what having workers around had to do with it, but that’s what Gloria wanted, so we picked a day, and that morning we lowered all the shutters and switched the cabin off utility power and on to the energy cells. We identified a problem almost right away. My water and sewer were provided by the local water and sewer district. The cabin could be sealed up so no one could get in, but it wouldn’t take any work at all to turn off my water supply at the meter. Of course, I could still go into the basement and get lake water, but it wasn’t always necessarily potable. Gloria called Kara about it, and she said she’d arrange for the necessary modifications. Arrange with who? She didn’t tell me.

A few days later some men showed up who didn’t really look like they fit in with the workers demolishing the homes. For one, they arrived in black SUVs instead of pick-up trucks. They also had a cherry picker. It soon became obvious what they were doing. They were installing cameras in the taller trees, making sure they had an unobstructed view to the approaches to my cabin from the main road. They put up the cameras and dug trenches for conduit and cables, and when they were done you couldn’t see the cameras from the ground unless you knew right exactly where to look, and the trenches they dug for power were covered up so well, you wouldn’t have known they were there.

They did serious work. If you walked around the trees and looked closely you could find the wiring. But by the time you got that close alarms at the cabin would have notified me that you were there.

And then, after all the cameras were installed, all the homes demolished and grass and plants planted, so you couldn’t tell they had ever been there, and after all the workmen left, a large truck carrying a large tank and a smaller truck carrying a smaller tank came down the road and pulled up to my house. When they arrived, Gloria and Mona hustled me out of the house, into my car and told me to drive. Anywhere. I was to be out of the cabin, away from the property, for at least six hours.

I was halfway to the main road before Gloria would even talk to me about it.

“What are they doing Gloria?”

“They are solving your water and sewer problem. So, you can seal the cabin and be independent from external water sources.”

“Really? I want to see that!”

“No! The contract Kara agreed to specified that all Terrans had to be off the premises and could have no contact with the workers.”

“These guys aren’t Terrans? They certainly aren’t Velorians or Arions. Who are they?”

“Kelsorians. They are considered among the best engineers of all the Terran worlds in the galaxy, at least the Terran worlds that we know of.”

“Really? And I don’t get to meet them?”

“It isn’t a great loss,” said Mona, “Kelsorians, especially the men, are the most boring people I’ve ever met. All they want to talk about is technology and engineering.”

“You’ve met them?” I asked.

“When I was in training, learning seduction methods to use with Terran men, I was sent to a space station in neutral territory.”

“They’re hard to seduce?” I asked.

“No,” she replied, “just boring.”

We had been driving around for about half an hour when Gloria said, “Take me to a jewelry store.”

“Any particular one?” I asked.

“One that sells gold necklaces,” she replied.

I knew there was one on Bellis Fair Parkway, so I headed out that way. When we got there and parked, we all went into the jewelers. One of the saleswomen met us just inside the door and asked if she could help us. Gloria told her she wanted to look at gold necklaces and the saleswoman took her over to a display case and started describing the necklaces they had.

“That’s enough,” said Gloria. “I will buy these three.” And she pointed at the necklaces she wanted. I guess the people who work in these stores are paid on commission because the saleswomen’s eyes got big, and she began taking the necklaces out of the display case and putting them in boxes.

I pulled Gloria aside and asked, “Gloria, those are expensive necklaces. Are you sure you can afford them?”

“Yes,” she answered, “I can. Kara pays me well.”

While Gloria was paying for them, with a credit card, I asked Mona if she thought this meant Gloria would be dating.

“I think so,” she said, “but you probably shouldn’t ask her about it.”

I took her advice.

When we got home all the trucks and workmen were gone. There was a binder on my kitchen counter with two manuals in it. Each manual was in three languages. Arion, Velorian and what Gloria and Mona said was the primary language of Kelsor. The first manual was for a water purification system. We went down to the lair and found an addition to it; a large water tank that was below ground level, and mostly below ground water level, that was filled with water. It had apparatus that ran from it to a smaller tank mounted to the floor of the lair. According to the manual, it was a water purification system. Both tanks were full. The smaller tank hooked into a pump which hooked into the cabin water intake. There were valves that I could use to switch my water supply from the public system to the new purification system. The second manual was for the ‘digestor’ system. The digestor had its own tank used to hold and purify toilet water before pumping it into the big holding tank. Meaning that if I were on the new cabin water system for any length of time, I would be drinking water that was flushed from my toilets. There were valves to control that too.

Oh, and something else. My one car garage was now a three-car garage. No explanation why. At least now I would be able to fit both my car and Xara’s in it.

Gloria said I was to test everything by locking down the cabin for two days and switching everything to internal utilities: power, water, and septic. I was about to begin the process when she told me to wait a few minutes. She and Mona disappeared upstairs to their rooms. When they came out, they were dressed up and had overnight bags with them. Gloria asked for my car keys, I gave them to her, and she and Mona left, leaving me alone.

She took her new gold necklaces with her. Gloria and Mona were leaving me in the cabin, locked down, while they went out to get laid.

Chapter 141

I had a couple of days by myself. I wasn’t happy about it; they could have given me more warning that they were taking off. And I was tempted to unlock the cabin and go out looking for fun myself. But I didn’t. Because I couldn’t. Gloria had my car. So instead, I sat down with the manuals for my new systems, and using the translating equipment I had, started learning about them.

The big holding tank was pretty much just that, a big tank. According to the manual, it was filled from the lake. The purification system connected the larger tank to the smaller tank. It had filters that had to be cleaned occasionally, and a reservoir for “impurities” that had to be emptied when the filters were cleaned. The system would let me know when it required cleaning. It would also let me know if the “impurities” were chemically toxic, or radioactive or otherwise inimical to human life.

After convincing myself that I understood how the new system worked, I locked down the cabin and switched everything over to internal systems. It isn’t hard to do. It isn’t time consuming. It isn’t exciting. At all. I spent two days locked in the cabin. Reading, working on my Velorian and Arion language skills (I didn’t have a module for Kelsorian), going over reports from Major Moore and scanning data from Kara’s network, looking for something interesting.

About four hours in I was bored. Fortunately, locking down the cabin still allows me to get Sports Center, so there was that. I should have mentioned, I have satellite TV that continues to work after the cabin is locked down.

About noon on the second day of lockdown I started getting status reports from the cabin systems. One of them informed me that the CO2 scrubbers were working properly, and the air intake and filtration system had removed “impurities” from the outside air that was brought in. That started a new set of investigations, because I didn’t know I had CO2 scrubbers or air intake and filtration systems. I went down to the lair and started looking around and found a box I’d never noticed before with more manuals in it. Following the pictures in the manuals I was able to find these new (to me) systems.

About 45 seconds after the two days were up, I unlocked the cabin and switched back to all the external utilities. I heard some gurgling in one of the toilets when I did that, but everything seemed to be working fine, so I threw on some swim trunks and went out back to the lake for a swim. It was nice to be outside.

I had spent about ten minutes in the lake when I heard yelling and whooping behind me. I turned around and there were Gloria and Mona, stark naked, running through my yard and into the lake. Gloria made her way to me, picked me up and hugged me, then threw me into the air and I was caught by Mona, who planted a big kiss on my lips and set me down. Both women were laughing and smiling, which I could understand from Mona. But Gloria? Laughing and smiling?

Then the two of them started swimming in circles around me and started a splash fight. Two on one. The two of them against me. They won. And they had the giggles. And it was infectious, soon I was laughing with them as we splashed each other and played like three teenagers in the lake. After a while I started getting cold, so I came out of the lake and laid down in a sunny spot on my lawn to dry out. The ladies joined me. Neither one of them was cold, but they apparently decided they wanted to have some fun. With me.

They were both stark naked, they were both beautiful, and they walked up to me, stood over me with their hands on their hips and Gloria asked, “Tell us Joe, which one of us is prettier?”

I wasn’t born yesterday. I knew better than to answer that question.

“I wasn’t born yesterday, Gloria. I know better than to answer that question!”

And they both started laughing and laid down on the grass, one on each side of me.

“Gloria, what has you in such a good mood?” I asked.

“I had sex Joe. Lots of sex. With Terran men.” And then she giggled and said, “Little soft, squishy, weak, and fragile Terran men. I’m going to bake some brownies now.” And with that she got up and went back into the cabin.

“Mona, care to explain what that was all about?”

“It is about what she said. She had sex with Terran men. Several of them, in fact.”

“Did she hurt anyone?”

“No, I coached her, and she was very careful.”

“You coached her?”

“Yes, I demonstrated what to do and how to do it and she copied my actions. No Terran men were injured.”

“You had group sex? And the men agreed to it?”

“Yes. Group sex is not uncommon among Arions, and the Terran men were happy to accommodate us. I think we made several of their fantasies come true.”

“I bet you did.”

I got up and went into the cabin and showered and dressed. When I came out both women were working in the kitchen, neither had bothered to dress. Mona looked at me, and then whispered something in Gloria’s ear. Gloria looked at me and said, “He’s on his medications.” Then she paused for a moment and asked me, “Joe, would you be more comfortable if Mona and I dressed?”

Talk about a loaded question. They were beautiful women, a joy to look at, and they were totally unselfconscious of their nudity. And I still had feelings, but my medications wouldn’t let me do anything about those feelings. Though they didn’t stop Dixon and Johnson from showing up and carrying on like a couple of lecherous creeps.

I was standing there, thinking about how to answer her, when she said, “How rude of me! The blondes have been gone for days and your medications don’t even allow you the release of masturbation. Mona, we must get dressed. Joe, I am sorry.”

What the hell? Gloria is sorry? That’s twice she’s apologized to me, in the same year! As the days went on, I discovered that I was seeing a new side of Gloria. If she went out and got laid once or twice a week, she was all sunshine and rainbows. Well, not exactly, she was still Gloria, but a much more pleasant Gloria. A Gloria who was much easier to live with.

I still got to see naked Arions. Neither of them saw the point in wearing bikinis or bathing suits, so all water sports and sunning were done in the nude. But they would dress afterwards.

I also got one or two nights a week alone in the cabin. Mona and Gloria always went out together. And Gloria always came back happy. I didn’t ask her about her trysts, but sometimes she’d say something. I remember one comment, “Terran men are not very hard, and they have very little stamina. But there are a lot of them; sometimes quantity makes up for quality.”

In my mind’s eye I pictured orgies with men lining up to try to satisfy Gloria. Dixon and Johnson took it further than that. Out of respect for Gloria I’m not going to share their speculations.

And then, one night, when the two of them were getting ready to leave the cabin, Gloria came up to me and asked if I’d like to come with them.

“Joe, you spend too much time in this cabin with just the two of us. You need to get out and have some fun. Go dancing with us.”

I didn’t need to be asked twice.

“You don’t need to ask me twice. Where are we going?”

“Seattle,” she said.

Gloria drove. They made me ride in the backseat.

We went to a club in north Seattle. We got a table and then Gloria asked me to dance with her. About two seconds later a guy asked Mona to dance with him. Every guy in the place wanted to dance with Mona and Gloria, and they didn’t turn down a single one. They were indefatigable. Me, not so much. During one of my breaks, while I was nursing a diet coke at our table, a couple of guys came over and asked if they could sit down and talk to me. I said sure, why not.

“How do you know those women?” One of them asked.

“They’re my room mates,” I said.

“No shit?”

“No shit.”

“Are you involved with them?” Another asked.

“How do you mean?” I asked back.

“Are you in a relationship with either of them?”

“No.”

“Are they in relationships?”

“No.”

That news went around the room very quickly. The gorgeous women with the ugly guy were unattached. And then guys started trying to pick them up, and they turned them down because they were with the ugly guy and didn’t want to leave him high and dry. That news went around the room very quickly too, and yet, neither one of them had to pay for a drink all night.

I had planned to just dance with the Arions, because my experience has taught me that most women at a club aren’t interested in dancing with someone who looks like me. This time was different. The women there were just as curious about Gloria and Mona as the men were, though for different reasons, and so they’d come by to ask me about our status, and then ask me to dance.

I had a good time, but it wore me out. I slept most of the way back to Bellingham. Not all the way though. I’d occasionally wake up for a few minutes and hear Gloria and Mona talking to each other in their native language. I’d listen in, not to eavesdrop but to improve my language skills. Usually, the first thing I could make out was Gloria telling Mona that I was awake. She can hear the difference.

Chapter 142

One day in July, I got a call from Kara, or I should say we got a call from Kara telling us to stay at the cabin for a meeting. She didn’t give any details, like what day and time the meeting would be, but I knew we were getting close when Sharon arrived and stayed just long enough to grab one of the pods and leave.

The next morning Sharon came back, and Major Moore stepped out of the pod. She immediately came to me and asked me if I knew what was going on.

“No clue,” I said. “Did Sharon tell you?”

“No,” she answered. “She said she didn’t want to prejudice anyone’s thinking by giving away the purpose of the meeting.”

About two hours later, Sharon got a call, and when she hung up, she shepherded us all into the backyard. She was looking up at the sky, so the rest of us, me, the Arions and Major Moore, also looked up, and soon we saw Kara and Xara descending. They landed in the yard just a few feet from where we were standing. Xara had a pod with her, which she set down on the ground.

A couple of things. As soon as I saw her, my heart nearly leapt out of my chest, and I felt a rush of joy and happiness. And then, when she landed, I saw that there was something different about Xara, though I couldn’t tell you exactly what. She was still beautiful, if anything, more beautiful than she was before she left, if you can believe that. And she was the same height but seemed taller. And it looked like her major muscle groups had grown just the slightest bit larger and were just a little bit more defined.

And she looked at me and smiled, and I felt that rush of joy again, and she started walking towards me and I could feel raw sexuality radiating from her like she was some kind of sexual furnace. I think the others felt it too, I’m not sure. When she got to me, she put her arms around me and gave me the most wonderful kiss on the lips, and if she had asked, at that moment, I would have given myself over to her, heart, mind, body, and soul.

She broke the kiss and as she moved away said, “We have a lot to talk about.”

I could only nod. Johnson and Dixon were speechless too.

Xara asked me to bring out enough chairs for everyone to sit down under the shade of one of my trees. I had four lawn chairs, so I went into the cabin and brought out three folding chairs. Xara asked us all to sit down. She remained standing.

“Mom and Sharon know this, and Joe and Gloria too. My father was half Galen and half human, that means I’m a quarter Galen, a quarter human and half Velorian.

“Well, obviously, my Velorian and Galen genetics have always been dominant over my human side, so much so that I may as well not have any more human DNA than my mother or Sharon.

“For most of my life I have been like a P1+ Velorian. Stronger and faster than a Protector for sure, but still very much a Velorian. Before I left, my Galen side started to assert itself. If I was Velorian before, I am less so now, and more Galen. I’m stronger, faster, more intelligent and some mental abilities I had before are more pronounced and mature.

“Joe, I showed you some of that at the prom last year. At that time, I didn’t have much control over those abilities, I have much better control now.

“I’ve spent the last six weeks out in the solar system, learning my new abilities and learning how to control them. Joe, mom told you, right before I left, that you should be afraid of me because I could accidentally hurt you. You don’t need to worry about that, I have control now.”

And she opened her pod and took out a cylindrical piece of rock and said, “Total control. You can put this on your dresser next to ‘little Joe’.”

My surprise must have shown on my face. Kara giggled. Sharon and Gloria laughed so hard I thought they were going to fall out of their chairs. Major Moore and Mona looked at me and I said, “I’ll tell you later.”

“Major Moore,” she began. I caught that, Major Moore, not Sarah. “While I was away, I turned 18. By the laws of the United States, and the State of Washington, I’m now an adult. My living arrangements are now my business and my business only. There should be no legal reason I cannot move into this cabin with Joe. Does the Army have any objection to that? Are there any repercussions to Joe or his career if I do?”

“No,” said Major Moore, “the Army has no objection. Whatever you two were hiding before, you can do openly now.”

“Excuse me, Major,” I said, “what exactly do you think we were hiding?”

“Don’t bullshit me sergeant. I’ve seen how she looks at you. You were discreet before; you don’t have to pretend anymore that you kept your dick in your pants.”

“Major Moore,” I said, “I’ve been very clear about my relationship with Xara and the lines I’ve drawn. I resent you coming to my home and implying that I crossed any of those lines.”

“Why should I believe that?” She retorted. “You fuck Kara, you fuck Sharon. Why shouldn’t anyone assume you were fucking Xara too?”

This was starting to get out of hand.

Sharon looked at the Major and said, very coolly, “First Sarah, Terrans do not fuck Velorians. Velorians fuck Terrans. You should know that by now. And second, if Xara were having sex with Joe, Kara and I would know it. Xara would not keep that from us, and there is no way Joe could keep it from us. We’d know.

“The two of them have not had sex. She hasn’t even given Joe a hand job or let him dry hump her. Why is beyond me, but he has held to his principles. I doubt there is another Terran who could put off Xara the way he has, though she could have taken him anytime she wanted. But she didn’t. She respected his principles.”

“Sarah,” Kara said, “what’s really going on here?”

Everyone was silent for a moment. And then Major Moore said, “You two throw yourselves at him. He doesn’t even have to ask, if you’re there, one of you is going to be in his bed. Sharon, why can’t I get that kind of commitment? Why do I have to wait to hear from you? Why can’t I call you and ask you to come to me?”

“Sarah,” said Sharon, “We’ve been over that. Things with Deb are complicated.”

“But they aren’t complicated with him,” Major Moore said pointing at me.

Sharon sighed. “They are,” she said, “but Deb understands the Kiraling relationship. And when she is honest, she is grateful to Joe for saving my life.”

“So, Kiraling trumps Deb and me?” Major Moore asked.

“Kiraling,” said Kara, “trumps everything.”

I was getting uncomfortable. Xara noticed it.

“Sarah,” Xara said, “it’s clear you have some issues to work out with Sharon, so I won’t take offense at what you said, and I’m sure Joe won’t either.”

Major Moore took a deep breath and said, “You’re right. Sergeant, Xara, I apologize for my remarks, and I hope you won’t hold them against me.”

“We’re cool, Major,” I said. I’m not sure we were, but I said it anyway.

“Alright,” said Xara. “I’m going to pick up where I left off. Joe, I’d like to move into the cabin, and have one of the bedrooms upstairs and be your roommate. I won’t pressure you for anything more than your friendship. If being close to me puts too much sexual pressure on you, I’ll call mom or Sharon to come and take care of you. I want to take our relationship to the next level, but I won’t force it on you. When you’re ready, I’ll be here.

“Mom and Sharon, it is very important to me that my relationship with Joe matures at his pace. If I call you, I need to know that one of you will come.”

Both Kara and Sharon nodded their agreement.

Major Moore didn’t take that well. Surprisingly, she didn’t focus on the bizarreness of a girl expecting her mother to have sex with her boyfriend, and her mother agreeing to it.

“He gets to ask you two for a booty call, and you’ll come running?” Despite her earlier apology, this was something she just couldn’t let go of.

“No,” deadpanned Xara, “they’ll come flying. And they won’t be coming at his invitation, they will come when I ask them.”

See. Girlfriend asking her mother to fuck her boyfriend. Who does that?

“Mom, has Joe ever asked you for sex, or initiated sex with you?”

“No, Xara, he hasn’t,” she answered.

“How about you, Sharon?” Xara asked.

“He’s never asked me for sex, or initiated sex with me. Ever. And he knows he could. You do know all you have to do is ask, don’t you Joe?”

I nodded. I don’t know if she was clueless or trying to make a point to Major Moore when she asked me that. If she was trying to make a point, she hit the mark. Major Moore’s face turned red. She wasn’t happy at all.

Then they were all looking at me. I looked back, wondering what I was supposed to do, then it dawned on me.

“I’m getting a choice about this, Xara? You’re letting me decide to give, or withhold, permission to move in here?”

“Yes,” said Xara. “It’s your choice. I won’t force myself on you.”

Dixon and Johnson were jumping up and down yelling at me to say yes. I was starting to long for the days when my meds made them disappear. They caught that and settled down.

My meds. With Xara around I would be able to get off them. I’d be able to eat better and my cravings for alcohol would decrease. And I did have strong feelings for her. But I’d been putting her off for so long, it seemed safer, more comfortable to continue that. And then I looked at her, smiling at me, and my heart melted.

“Yes, Xara, you can move in with me.”

I barely had the last syllable out of my mouth when I found myself in Xara’s arms, thirty feet above the ground, being hugged so hard I could barely breathe listening to her tell me how happy I had made her and then getting kissed on the lips.

“You’re on your meds, aren’t you,” it was more of a statement than a question. I nodded.

“Well, give me some time to move in and we’ll have you off them.”

After about a minute she lowered us to the ground and gently set me down in my chair.

“I brought you some souvenirs,” Xara said to me.

She pulled a cell phone out of her cape and knelt next to me and showed me a selfie. It was her, next to some kind of machine with what looked like three solar panels extending from it.

“That’s the Mars Pathfinder lander,” she said.

Then she went to the pod and pulled out a cylindrical object with two lenses.

“This is the camera off of Pathfinder’s mast.” She handed it to me and went back to the pod and pulled out what looked like a small panel of solar cells on six wheels with an antenna sticking up.

“This is Sojourner,” she said, “the little rover from Pathfinder.”

“These are for me?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, “from Mars. I hope to take you there someday.”

“Those are United States Government property,” said Major Moore. “He can’t have them.”

“I salvaged them,” said Xara, “on an unclaimed planet in an unclaimed solar system. If you check with NASA, they will tell you they have no problem with it.”

Major Moore knew Xara had done work for NASA in the past. She let the subject drop. As for myself, I wondered who would be out there claiming planets and solar systems. I decided to let that question wait for another day.

“Xara,” I said, “thank you.”

“You like them, Joe?”

“Like them? I love them. Xara, these are pieces of history.”

She beamed at me, then said, “I have three more souvenirs; one for you and two for Sarah.”

She went back to her pod and pulled out two similar pieces of metal. They were about two feet by three feet and had lettering on them, Arion lettering. The edges were smooth, on examining the piece Xara gave to me I could see that she must have smoothed them down by hand.

“What are these?” Major Moore asked.

“They’re pieces of an Arion ship’s hull,” said Mona.

“I came across an Arion scout ship in the asteroid belt,” Xara said, “between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars. I couldn’t take the chance that they sighted me, so I destroyed it. Mona’s right, these are pieces of its hull.”

“Xara!” Exclaimed Kara, “They were in open space!”

“Mom, I extrapolated their course. They were heading for earth. Before I threw the debris of the ship into Jupiter, I found this.”

She reached back into the pod and pulled out a stack of paper wrapped in plastic. She tore the plastic off, they were Euros. €200 notes. She gave them to Major Moore.

“Pieces of an Arion hull and Terran money. Let your metallurgists analyze your hull piece. If you need to prove to someone that the Arions are supplying someone on earth, either Arion agents or Terran, there is your proof.”

Major Moore spoke up now, and she was excited. “Kara, could you set up surveillance where Xara found this ship, and track any others that come along?”

“That’s a good idea,” Kara said, “but not practical. The volume of space to surveil is just too large.”

Gloria chimed in, “And they will use a different course to get to Terra. They change them up on a regular basis. They will make a change as soon as this ship is reported missing.”

“Xara, were there any Primes on board?” Kara asked.

“No,” she replied, “they were all Betas.”

Mona was looking at her feet and biting her lower lip. She looked up and asked, “Xara, how did they die?”

“Quickly and painlessly. I vented their ship to space. They didn’t suffer.”

That seemed to relieve Mona’s anxiety, a little.

“Is there anything else in that box of yours?” asked Major Moore.

“No, that’s it. I salvaged a half dozen storage pods of various sizes and capacities that survived my attack. And several handheld GARs. I hid the pods and the GARs on an asteroid. I’ll retrieve them after I move into the cabin.”

“Major,” I said, “it might be a good idea to have those bills examined, to determine if they are real or counterfeit.”

“I hear you sergeant. If they’re real we might be able to trace them, they seem to be crisp and new. If they are fake, well, we’ll let the European Union know what to look for.”

Major Moore wanted to talk to the Velorians about Arion supply runs to Earth, and how they might be tracked or stopped.

“If I had more Protectors here, we could set up a screen,” said Kara. “Lacking that if we had the technology, we could track them as far out as the orbit of this planet’s moon. Now that I have been accepted by the Velorian Senate, I’ll ask them for more resources. The worst that can happen is they’ll say no.”

“Mom,” said Xara, “you have an immensely powerful resource right here. I’m confident I could find and destroy the Arion command base in this solar system.”

“I know Xara,” she answered, “but remember, we don’t want to attract negative attention from the Galens.”

“Mom, I’m Galen! And the Arions have certainly attracted my negative attention.”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself Xara,” said Sharon. “We don’t know if you are truly Galen, or just a super enhanced Velorian.”

Xara nodded. To this day I don’t know if she was agreeing or just acknowledging Sharon’s statement.

Chapter 143

After that, the meeting broke up. Gloria and Mona went into the cabin to prepare dinner. Sharon and Major Moore went for a walk along the lake. After the demolition and cleanup, it was like a large lakeside park. Kara and Xara stayed outside with me. They were watching Sharon and the Major, eavesdropping on their conversation. Occasionally Major Moore would raise her voice loud enough that I could hear her. She wasn’t happy.

“Kara,” I said, “If my relationship with Sharon is causing this much friction between them, maybe Sharon should stop seeing me.”

“She heard that,” said Xara. “Joe, let Sharon handle Sarah.”

“But I have to work with her, and she’s my superior officer!” I protested.

“Despite what it sounds like,” said Kara, “Sarah’s problems are with Sharon, not you.”

“I feel like I’m in the middle of it,” I said.

“Joseph,” she replied, “Sharon could stop seeing you altogether and Sarah would still be unhappy. It isn’t your relationship with Sharon that has her upset, it’s that she wants more from their relationship than Sharon is willing to give.”

That made me think for a second, and I looked at Xara.

“If you want me, Joe,” Xara said, “you’ll have me. All of me.”

I didn’t mention that she’d still be getting booty calls from Messengers.

At dinner everyone was civil to each other. After dinner Sharon and Major Moore went downstairs into one of the bedrooms. From the grins on the faces of Kara and Xara I figured Sharon must have found a way to … redirect … the conversation.

Kara and Xara toured the latest changes to my cabin, including looking over the garage. The Arions tagged along, and they discussed living arrangements once Xara moved in. They didn’t discuss them with me. Evidently, my input ended when I told Xara she could move in.

Kara decided Gloria and Mona would live at her home in California. God knows it has enough room. And given what Kara has in her cavern under the home, she apparently had decided Mona was trustworthy. Xara decided to take the bedroom next to mine. After the tour Xara looked around the cabin, deciding what she would bring with her when she moved in. Gloria sat down and began making notes for Xara about my workout schedule and my diet and included her favorite chocolate desserts. Not my favorite, hers.

Oh, Xara decided to make changes to my bedroom.

“Joe, I don’t want you to feel any pressure, but if things work out between us the way I hope they will, it would be a good idea to get you a reinforced bed.”

“A reinforced bed Xara? What does that mean.”

“Joseph,” said Kara, “it’s a wonder Sharon and I haven’t destroyed your bed already. I had a company design and build a sturdy bed for Eric and me. I’ll put in the order for you this week. Xara, will you send me the dimensions?”

“I will,” Xara answered.

Everyone seemed to be in a tizzy. Near Earth Command was reporting that a resupply ship, with Terran currency, communication equipment, and other items requested by Arion agents on Terra, had been lost without a trace. A Protector or Protectors were suspected. Fortunately, only a few Betas had been lost. But given how spread out the Empire was, even the loss of a few Betas was cause for concern. All agents on Terra were reminded, again, to maintain operational security and avoid any actions that may attract the attention of the Protector or Protectors operating on the planet.

In her area of operations, one of the gangs was very agitated over finding one of their cars and no sign of the men who had been driving it. As Miguel explained it to Janelle, it was like someone had kicked a hornet’s nest. Armed teams were in the neighborhood where the car had been found, questioning people about what they had seen. No one had seen anything.

One theory was that these missing gang members were behind the theft of funds that had occurred at one of the gang hideouts. But there wasn’t any proof.

All this talk about armed men roaming the streets gave Janelle an idea. Miguel had been very careful to make sure Janelle knew which areas were the most dangerous for a lady to be found late at night. Janelle decided to go for a walk in one of those areas.

But first, she had to prepare. She took a great deal of pride in her appearance, and this meant dressing in nice, expensive, clothing. So, she started at a local secondhand store, where she bought presentable, if not fashionable, clothing.

Then one night, after sundown, she put on the clothes she had purchased and took a bus from the street she lived on to one of the more dangerous sections of town. From the bus stop, she went to a local café where she had dinner and made sure she was seen. She left the café and started strolling, aimlessly, through the streets. After about fifteen minutes she heard footsteps behind her, about a block away. The footsteps were coming on faster, and she identified the sounds of three individuals. When they were about thirty feet away, she turned into an alley. The footsteps followed.

She slowed down so her pursuers could catch her in the alley, and she smiled when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned towards the hand’s owner.

He was a young man, probably in his early twenties. His two companions appeared to be the same age. He was holding a pistol, pointed at her chest.

“Senorita, what are you doing here alone? Don’t you know it’s dangerous for such a pretty young thing as yourself to be out after dark?”

“Dangerous?” Janelle replied. “To whom? Certainly not to me.”

This made the men laugh.

“Let me explain things to you, senorita,” the man with the gun said, “if you scream, no one will come to help you. If you don’t give us what we want, we will make you scream. And if we shoot you, no one will come to see what happened. You’re all alone, so if you want to get home tonight without getting hurt, too badly, you will do exactly as we say.”

“Alright,” said Janelle, “what do you want me to do?”

“Oh, senorita, you don’t have to do anything, we’ll do it all.” And with that he ripped off her top. She wasn’t wearing a bra. An Arion would never need one. The men gasped at how large, and firm, and beautiful her breasts were.”

The main with the gun held his pistol up to her right nipple. Janelle decided this was where she would draw the line. She put her left hand around his gun hand and put the tip of one of her fingers against the back of the trigger, so he couldn’t shoot. Then she slowly, but not too slowly, forced is hand and arm away from her, then forced the arm to bend at the elbow and positioned the barrel of the pistol under his chin. She held him in place with her right hand on his left shoulder while she put her finger over his trigger finger.

The man tried to fight back but wasn’t strong enough. “Help me!” He shouted to his two friends. They tried to pull her arm away but couldn’t budge it. They struck her, and only hurt themselves. One of them attempted to plunge a knife into her back, only to have it stop as if he’d tried to push it into granite.

“You’re right,” she said to the man she was holding, “it is dangerous out here, after dark. You can scream for help if you’d like, but I don’t think anyone is going to come. And after I pull this trigger, I doubt anyone will come to see what happened. Goodbye.”

Just as she was about to force the man’s finger to pull the trigger, he lost control of his bladder and bowels. That made Janelle giggle. And then the gun went off, and the bullet went through the man’s chin, into his brain and blew off the top of his skull.

The two remaining men started to run. Janelle grabbed one and held him against a wall with her left hand and raised the pistol in her right hand. “Watch this,” she said, “base of the spine.” And she took aim with the pistol and fired one shot, hitting the running thug in his lower back, severing his spine. He went down, screaming and crying and tried to crawl away using his arms, his legs dragging uselessly behind him.

“I really don’t want him to get away before you and I are finished,” she said, and took careful aim and shot the man twice more, once in each arm.

“There, that will do,” she said.

Then she turned to the man she had pinned against the wall. “What’s your name?” She asked.

“Pedro. What are you going to do to me?” He asked. He was trembling with fear. Janelle thought he might faint if she didn’t get her pheromones into him soon.

“Oh, probably the same thing you were going to do to me,” she replied.

She set the gun down, took off her skirt (she wasn’t wearing anything underneath it) and folded it up and put it on top of a nearby dumpster, then took off her shoes. Then she tore the pants off the man, released her pheromones and helped him maneuver his erection into her. She put her hands on his butt to hold him close and began fucking him.

She was very careful; she didn’t want to kill this one before she was finished. He ejaculated three times before she achieved orgasm, and through sheer force of will controlled herself well enough that she didn’t give him any injuries more severe than a couple of light bruises. When she took him out of her, she examined his penis. It was uninjured. Then she ripped off his shirt and used it to clean off the semen dripping out of her.

She picked up the pistol. The man said, “please, don’t.”

“Oh, I’m not going to shoot you. I want you to see something.”

She put the pistol in his hand, with her hand over his, and pointed the pistol at her stomach. She forced him to pull the trigger. The bullet came out the barrel, flattened itself against her stomach and bounced back, she caught it in her free hand before it could hit her prisoner. Janelle let go of the man and showed him the bullet.

“See, I’m not hurt. Now, come with me.”

She took the trembling man by the hand and walked him to where his crippled friend was flopping around on the ground.

“What’s his name?” She asked.

“Francisco,” Pedro answered.

“One of us is going to kill Francisco,” she said. “If you kill him, I’ll reward you a very quick and painless death. But if I have to kill him, I’m going to burn you to death, slowly.”

She demonstrated by burning off one of Francisco’s hands.

“I love how you little frails scream,” she said. “What are you going to do, Pedro?”

Pedro still had the gun. Crying and sobbing, he pointed it at Francesco’s head and pulled the trigger. But his hand was shaking so much he missed, and the bullet ricocheted off the cobblestone pavement.

“Pedro,” she said, “you’ll have to do better than that if you don’t want to burn! Here, let me help you.”

She put her hand around Pedro’s to steady it for him and aimed the barrel at Francisco’s head. Pedro hesitated for a moment and Janelle said, “Shoot him or burn, Pedro, it’s all up to you.”

Pedro squeezed the trigger and put a bullet through Francisco’s skull.

“Very good!” Said Janelle. “Now, turn around and kneel down and I’ll give you your reward.”

Pedro did as he was told, still crying and sobbing. Janelle bent down and kissed him on the cheek, then, quickly, twisted his head and broke his neck.

Her top was ruined, so she burned it with her heat vision, then put on her skirt and shoes. She thought for a moment about vaporizing the three bodies but decided against it. Her OPSEC was good, and it would be fun to start building a little fear amongst the gangs. She melted the gun, to make sure her fingerprints wouldn’t be found, then walked through the neighborhood, staying in the shadows until she came across a small women’s clothing shop. She kicked open the door, went in and picked out a top she liked, put it on, left some local currency on the counter, enough to pay for the top and the door, and left the shop and the neighborhood and went home.

Chapter 144

Moving day was painless. Monica and Gloria didn’t have much to move out. Both of them had some clothing and Gloria had several cookbooks. And Xara, who had become accustomed to dorm living, didn’t have a lot to move in. It was all accomplished with flying blondes carrying Arion pods.

By agreement of everyone who had a vote, which included Gloria and the blondes and excluded me, I would wait two days and then go off my meds. Gloria explained to Xara exactly what to look for, but that wasn’t necessary. Xara could read me better than Gloria, Sharon or Kara and would put me back on my meds immediately if I started to backslide. That other people could see me going back into the dark place before I saw it was a little annoying. But I trusted Xara. I trusted all of them, so I resolved not to give her a hard time about it if it came to that. And of course, giving her a hard time about it would be a sign that I needed my meds.

That evening I grilled hamburgers for dinner. I ate one, Xara ate three. At least with $200k in duffle bags in my bedroom closet, I wouldn’t have to worry about her eating me out of house and home. For dessert we had a chocolate cake Gloria made for us before she left. It was a 10-inch layer cake. Three layers. With chocolate frosting. I had one small piece. Xara had three large pieces.

During dinner, and after, Xara told me about how she had spent her six weeks away.

“Most of it was off planet, off this planet. The first thing I concentrated on was my flight velocity. I discovered that I could accelerate much harder than I could before, and I can change direction quicker and more efficiently too. And I can perform flight calculations … it’s almost like I don’t have to. If I want to accelerate in a different direction towards an objective, like an asteroid or planet, I seem to know exactly how to direct the forces. I don’t have to think about it.”

I didn’t understand this at first. Xara opened one of her physics books and explained vectors and forces to me.

“I also experimented with my increased strength. I did a lot of that on Mars. I am much stronger than I was before. And my heat vision is much more powerful now, and easier to focus. We call it heat vision, but it is really energy vision. We can emit energy at different wavelengths and frequencies from our eyes, and now the range of wavelengths I can emit is much broader. I’ll show you.”

She took me by the hand and led me downstairs and turned out the lights. Then her eyes lit up, and it was like she had two flashlights mounted on her head. And she could focus from wide to narrow beams.

“I really don’t need this for myself,” she said, “I can see in what, to you, would be total darkness. But if we go cave exploring or something I’ll be able to light the way for you.

“I thought it would take me months to gain control over my strength, but it didn’t. That piece of rock I gave you, it’s a dildo. Joe! You’re blushing! Don’t be embarrassed! Anyway, that’s my third one. I crushed the first one almost right away. The second one lasted nearly an hour. That one, the third one, I used it over and over and didn’t damage it at all!”

I wondered if she thought I was as hard as that piece of rock. I didn’t have to wait long to get that question answered.

“I used much softer tools after that, my vaginal control is excellent. I’m sure I could have sex with you right now and wouldn’t even bruise you. Mom and Sharon think I should test that with another Terran before I have you, just to be certain. I’m going to do that, but I’m very sure I’m good to go now.”

Now I was wondering who the poor guy would be that she’d “test” with. I figured if her control were as good as she said it was, it would be some lucky guy. My face must have given away what I was thinking.

“Joe, remember our agreement, until we start our sexual relationship, we can both have Terrans. After that we’ll both have only each other and Supremis.”

Funny, I don’t ever remember agreeing to that.

“You’ve told me that several times, Xara, but I’ve never agreed to it.”

“No, you haven’t, but that’s the way it’s going to work out. You’ll see.

“Anyway, I didn’t start out with dildos. I started with the equivalent of bubbles and stones.”

When I looked at her, perplexed, she explained.

“When I was little, my mom would have me juggle stones and glass objects, to get control. I broke a lot of glass before I learned how to use a soft grip with one hand while using a harder grip with the other. And then she had me do it with soap bubbles, juggling the stone and moving the bubble from one hand to the other without bursting it.

“I didn’t have soap on Mars, but I was able to fashion my own delicate glass bubbles using my heat vision and Martian sand.

“There’s more Joe. I have new mental abilities. I want to show them to you, but I think we should wait until you have been off your meds, successfully, for a few days.”

“Okay,” I said, “What are these new abilities?”

“It will be easier to show you than explain to you. Be patient, you’ll see. I think you’ll like them.

“It’s getting late now. You should get to bed. We’ll start the morning with a run before breakfast.”

“Is this the way my life is going to be now Xara? You, your mom, Sharon and Gloria have been making a lot of my decisions for me. Is this the way it’s always going to be?”

She put her arms around me and kissed me, warmly.

“Joe Ricci,” she said, “everything we do with you, we do out of love.”

“Even Gloria?” I asked.

“Even Gloria,” she answered. “Now take your meds and go to bed.”

“Yes mother.”

The next morning, I discovered Xara could be just as focused a task master as Gloria, albeit with a much more pleasant attitude. We exited the front door of the cabin just as the sun was rising. I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and running shoes. Xara was dressed the same, except for the shoes. She ran barefoot.

“I’ll set the pace Joe, just keep up.”

She started out at a slow jog for about half a mile and then gradually increased the pace.

“We’re going for a target heart rate of 164 beats per minute.”

“Your heart rate or mine?” I asked.

“Don’t be silly Joe,” she answered, “there is no way mine would get that high just by running.”

I put a finger to my neck to check my pulse and looked at my watch.

“You don’t need to do that,” she said, “I can hear your heartbeat.”

We put in about four miles, and then she started gradually slowing down until by the time we were half a mile from the cabin, on the return leg, we were walking.

“Let’s walk by the lake,” I said.

We walked off the road and over to the lake. Xara took my hand in hers, and we walked in silence until we got back to the cabin.

“Take a shower,” she said, “and I’ll make breakfast.”

“Can I make a request?” I asked her.

“Sure.”

“No chocolate. Okay?”

She laughed and said, “Okay.”

After showering and dressing I went out to the kitchen. Xara had made scrambled eggs and hash browns. And she had laid out my morning pills next to a glass of orange juice.

I sat down and took the pills as she shoveled eggs and hash browns onto my plate. A lot of eggs and hash browns.

“Xara, I can’t eat this much food,” I said.

“Eat as much as you can,” she said. “Gloria thinks you’re too skinny. And I agree.”

I ate as much as I could and was feeling bad about the rest going to waste. Silly me. Xara ate her breakfast and my leftovers. Nothing went to waste.

“What are your plans for today Joe?” She asked.

“I’m going to spend a couple of hours on my language lessons. Then I’m going to go over the transmission intercept logs to look for patterns.”

“Let me know when you start that,” she said. “We can look for activity around the time I eliminated that Arion ship.”

She disappeared into her room as I went downstairs. I had been down there for about five minutes when she walked down wearing her flight suit. As she headed to the equalization room she said, “I’m going after those pods and GARs I hid. Please don’t start on the intercept logs until I get back.”

She said she hid the Gars and pods on an asteroid. I opened Google and did some research. The asteroid belt lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Depending on where in the asteroid belt she hid her loot, the distance could be anywhere from 1 AU to 4.2 AU, where AU is the average distance between the earth and the sun. 1 AU is about 8.3 light minutes. 4.2 AU is about 35 light minutes. So, if Xara could fly at the speed of light, it would take her anywhere from 17 minutes to an hour and ten minutes to make the round trip. She can’t fly the speed of light though. So how long would it take her? I’d know when she got back.

She was back in an hour and a half. She had one pod. She opened it and took out a smaller pod and opened that pod and took out four handheld GARS.

“It’s too awkward to bring all the pods down at once. I left the rest in orbit. I’ll be back shortly.”

She made several more trips into earth orbit to retrieve the rest of the pods. By the time she brought the last one down I was done with language lessons for the day. They were always harder to get through when I was on my meds.

We sat down to look at the Arion transmission intercept logs. Kara had hardware somewhere, I don’t know where, that intercepted Arion transmissions. They were always encrypted so we didn’t know what was in them, but by examining message traffic it was possible, in theory, to tease out patterns.

The Arions assigned various frequencies for communication. And sender and receiver never used the same frequencies. Kara had strongly suspected this for a long time, Mona had confirmed it. We went straight to the date Xara had attacked the Arion vessel. Then we backed up a month and started looking at traffic volume. We identified an upper and lower rate of traffic volume that was very consistent. Then, the day after Xara destroyed the ship, traffic volume spiked up and stayed up for several days.

“Look at this,” Xara said. In part of the traffic, there were a number of spikes four to five hours apart.

“I see that,” I said, “what does it mean.”

“I think it means that the senders and receivers of these messages are four to five light hours apart. Probably closer to four, that’s the minimum time we see between spikes.

“Near Earth Command is on Neptune, and Neptune is 4 light hours from Earth. We’re seeing traffic that went out after the Arions realized they lost contact with the ship.”

“Can we do anything with that information?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she answered, “tell mom, I guess. Let’s keep looking.”

The increased traffic lasted for three days and then tapered off to the base volume we’d seen before.

I wrote a report and sent a copy to Kara, I think it went to Kara, I didn’t know who was on the other end, and another copy to Major Moore. I got an acknowledgement back that included a query about what I’d had for breakfast, so that was Gloria. I got another one from Major Moore, and she was excited. She wanted to discuss how to find the location of Arion transmissions coming from earth. I passed that request on to Kara.

After that Xara wanted to work on my fighting skills, specifically with the light saber. We went out into my backyard for that.

“It’s a GAR blade Joe.”

“I like light saber better.”

To make it less unfair she put on gold. She was still faster and stronger than me, but that was okay. I scored several “touches” with the light saber, and she was impressed. Then it was on to hand-to-hand fighting. And then I realized why I had been able to best her with the light saber: she didn’t know anything about fighting without the aid of her super strength, speed, and reflexes. Not to mention not being able to fly.

We sat down on the grass to discuss it.

“I guess I just thought that I’d be better at that than any Terran.”

“Well, sure Xara, you would be if you weren’t wearing gold.”

“Will you teach me to fight, Joe?”

“Really Xara? When would you need it?”

“Primes are taught to fight. If I ever have to go one on one with one, I want to know what I’m doing.”

“Xara, with your Galen abilities, would it matter?”

“Probably not. But mom says the reason we’re alive, and all those Arions who were at the cave the day we met are dead, is because they didn’t take you seriously. They didn’t see you as a threat.”

“No,” I said, “I don’t suppose they did.”

“They were arrogant Joe. Mom says we can’t afford arrogance, or else we could end up like them.”

“You don’t think you’re arrogant?”

“We’re superior, Joe, and we know it. That isn’t arrogance.”

I looked up the definition of arrogant later, and I guess, by the dictionary definition, they aren’t.

“Okay, Xara, I’ll teach you how to fight.”

And I did. And OMG, is she ever a fast learner. I’m getting ahead of myself, suffice it to say that in less than a week she had surpassed me, and I told her she should work with Gloria to increase her skill.

I fixed lunch, tuna sandwiches and potato chips. She told me I should have had two sandwiches and eaten more chips, but she didn’t give me a hard time over it. She did finish off the bag of chips though.

After lunch I want back down to the lair and found a communication from Major Moore. She wanted more detail about the Arion transmissions we looked at earlier and I spent the rest of the afternoon getting the information for her and sending it off. Then I spend forty minutes on the Bowflex, with Xara watching me, then, at her suggestion, we went for a swim in the lake.

I put on swim trunks. Xara, as is the habit of all the Supremis women who have been at my cabin, went skinny dipping. Xara is breathtakingly beautiful in her nudity. So much so that it is almost intimidating. For Dixon and Johnson, it was definitely intimidating, they just stood there, looking at her, slack jawed.

“Will you just stand there for a minute Xara, so I can get a good look at you?”

She raised her eyebrows but didn’t say anything, she just stood on the grass, hand at her sides, while I walked around her.

“Xara, you aren’t any taller than you were before you left, but you seem taller. And your muscles are more defined than they were before, and a bit bigger too.”

“That’s due to my maturing as a Galen,” she said. “Do you like it?”

“I do.”

She walked up to me and put her arms over my shoulders and around my neck, and pressed her body against mine and asked, “Am I the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen, Joe?”

“You are,” I said.

“Do you think it’s arrogant that I agree with you?” She asked with a mischievous smile.

“No. Not at all.”

She took her arms off my shoulders and grasped my wrists and pulled them behind her and put them on her butt, then put her arms around me again. It was heaven.

“If you like, Joe, I can be naked whenever we’re alone. Would you like that?”

“I’d never get any work done. Let’s go swimming.”

With that I ran into the lake, closely followed by Xara.

When we came out of the lake, I laid down on a towel to dry out. Xara did her spin dry thing, she lifted up about two inches above the ground and started spinning very fast until she was dry, then laid down next to me, on her side facing me.

“Let’s go out for dinner tonight, Joe. My treat.”

“Okay. Where should we go?”

“Nothing fancy,” she said. “Fairhaven Pizza?”

“That works,” I said.

We ordered a 16” Peperoni Pizza. I ate two slices and was full. Xara ate the rest of it. After dinner we walked about half a mile to Marine Park, which is next to the Fairhaven Shipyard. It was low tide, so we walked along the beach, holding hands. It felt … right.

I picked up a flat stone and threw it out into the water; it skipped three or four times before sinking. Xara picked up a stone that wasn’t quite as flat, made it flat, then threw it out over the water. It was still skipping when it got too far away for me to see. Pretty impressive considering that it had to skip over the waves.

We strolled along for about half an hour then headed back to the pizza place, where Xara had parked her car. Instead of leaving right away, she went inside and ordered a “bedtime snack,” another large pizza, to go.

That night I took my pills and went to bed. Instead of going to sleep right away, I stayed awake for half an hour talking to Dixon and Johnson about the day, mostly about Xara. Okay, exclusively about Xara. I probably would have talked to them longer, but Xara knocked on my door and told me to stop talking and go to sleep.

To: Arion High Command

From: Near Earth Command

Subject: Request Capture Team

NEC believes the supply ship bound for Terra was lost between the orbits of the fourth and fifth planets of the Terran solar system. This indicates the Protector(s) assigned to Terra are patrolling off planet, a tactic we have not seen before in this solar system. NEC requests additional assets to detect, engage and either kill or capture/kill the Protector(s) operating in this solar system.

Chapter 145

The next morning was more of the same. I got up early for a run, and Xara came with me and set the pace. This time we ran a little farther than we had the day before and were a little closer to the cabin when we slowed to a walk.

Then a shower, for me, followed by breakfast and my meds. Pancakes and bacon for breakfast. I ate as much as I could. After breakfast, while I was cleaning up, I saw Xara writing in a journal.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Gloria told me to track your calorie intake and exercise. I’m keeping track of it here.”

After the dishwasher was loaded and started, I went down to the lair. I saw that Kara had a response to Major Moore’s request; I read it, then called Xara down.

“Look at this,” I said showing her Kara’s response to Major Moore.

Major Moore had asked about locating the source of Arion transmissions originating on Earth. Kara said she didn’t have the equipment necessary to do that but said the next time an Arion ship was intercepted she’d look for equipment that could help with that before destroying it.

“What do you think, Xara?” I asked. “Do you think the three of you could find and strip an Arion ship?”

“It wouldn’t be the three of us Joe. Mom really doesn’t want Sharon working outside her lane. Capturing and stripping a ship wouldn’t be that difficult, depending on the size of the ship and its armament, and how many Primes are on board. Finding a ship is the hard part. They work on making them hard to find. I found the ship I destroyed by accident.”

I forwarded Kara’s response to Major Moore, along with Xara’s remarks on the difficulty of finding a ship.

After that I worked on my language lessons for a couple of hours, then did 40 minutes on the Bowflex, without Xara there to supervise me. I went upstairs to look for her and found a note in her handwriting:

“Messenger. Take your meds at bedtime. Only take them in the morning if one of us isn’t here.”

As I was making lunch, I wondered how a Messenger would fare with a Galen Xara. Dixon and Johnson were just getting into the conversation when I saw Sharon land in the backyard and come to the door.

“You aren’t with the Messenger?” I asked.

“I had him all day yesterday and last night,” she said. “Kara and Xara get him today and he’ll be gone tomorrow.”

“In the past all three of you would be with him the whole time he was here, or that’s what I thought went on. Is it different this time?”

“It is,” she said, “because we want to get you off your meds. I volunteered to take him first, and then come here.”

“I hope you didn’t wear him out too much for Xara and Kara,” I joked. She didn’t take it as a joke.

“Messengers don’t wear out,” she said.

“Are you hungry?” I asked. “I’ve got ham and cheese for sandwiches.”

“Oh Skietra yes, I am. I haven’t eaten since before the Messenger arrived.”

I made one sandwich for me and two for her.

As we sat down to eat, she asked me, “How is it going with your new roommate?”

“So far it’s fine. She has a little bit of Gloria in her when it comes to my diet and exercise, but otherwise she’s been a good roommate. For all of the day and a half since she moved in.

“Sharon, she’s more muscular now, and is more sculpted too. Not a lot, but enough to notice. But is it my imagination, or is she more beautiful now too?”

“I think she is,” said Sharon. “What else have you noticed about her?”

“If the three of you were the very definition of sexuality, she is more so now,” I said.

“Kara and I see that too. Has she shown you her mental abilities yet?”

“No, she said she wanted to wait until I was off my meds for a couple of days,” I answered.

“Makes sense,” she said, “it will probably be clearer if you don’t have medications altering your brain chemistry.”

“Exactly what,” I asked, “will be clearer?”

“It’s hard to explain,” she said. “Sort of like a Vulcan mind meld, but not really. You’ll see.”

I decided to change the subject.

“The last time you were here, you and Major Moore seemed to be having a disagreement,” I said.

“Ugh. You Terrans and your jealousy,” she answered. “You can’t just enjoy a good situation. You always have to ask for more.”

“You think she was being unreasonable?” I asked.

“Don’t you? She’s jealous of you Joe! And guess what? Since I’ve met her, I’ve spent more time in bed with her than I have with you!”

“Did you tell her that?” I asked.

“Of course, I did,” she said.

“Do you spend other time with her? Time not in bed?”

“I’ve tried to Joe, but the two of us don’t have very much in common, aside from our attraction to beautiful women. And if we were both Velorians, that would be enough.”

“Maybe she’s in love with you,” I said.

“She is Joe. Fortunately, it hasn’t gotten in the way of the sex. Yet. But love with Terrans always comes with a lot of strings attached.”

She spent the next twenty minutes expounding on the many virtues of Velorian relationships and their superiority over Terran relationships. I’d heard it all before. Many times. From her. But I paid attention because the blondes can sense immediately when you’ve zoned out on them. Then she said something that got my attention.

“I hope you and Xara can avoid the pitfalls,” she said, “but I’m not confident you can.”

See that? I had changed the subject from Xara to Major Moore, and she flipped it right back to Xara.

“Xara and I don’t have a romantic relationship. Or a sexual one. What pits do you think we’re going to fall into?” Okay, I was fudging on that. Since Switzerland, maybe even before, Xara and I had been moving towards a romantic relationship. At least I was.

“That agreement she’s promised you, I think that’s a very deep pit. Every man on this planet is at her disposal, and she’s promising to limit herself to you.”

“I haven’t agreed to anything. You don’t think she can keep that promise?” I asked.

“I don’t think she should. I’m afraid that if she does keep it, it will put a strain on your relationship that it won’t be able to survive,” she answered, “you shouldn’t agree to it and you shouldn’t try to hold her to that promise.”

“How did Kara and Eric handle it?” I asked.

“Poorly.” she said, “One time, when they were having a fight, she threw his sexual inadequacy in his face. She told him she preferred having sex with a ‘real man’, meaning a Supremis. He never recovered from that.”

“By sexual inadequacy you mean …?”

“I mean his inability as a Terran to satisfy her the way a Supremis can. By Terran standards, there wasn’t anything wrong with him. She hurt him very badly. He was a good man and a good husband and didn’t deserve being belittled. I don’t want to see you getting hurt like that.”

“Sharon, I see your point, but you’re conflating two situations here. Xara isn’t swearing off Supremis, just other Terran men.”

“No, Joe, I’m not. If Kara had bedded more Terran men, more often, she wouldn’t have let her frustrations get the best of her.”

“You’ve given me a lot to think about, Sharon.”

“Joe, I’m not against you and Xara having a close relationship. In fact, I encourage it. I just don’t think you should attempt it based on a promise she will have a very difficult time keeping.”

“What would you suggest?” I asked.

“Joe, the answer to that is right in front of you! Have the same relationship with her that you have with me and Kara.”

“We don’t have a ‘no strings attached’ relationship Sharon. From where I stand, it looks like the Kiraling relationships has plenty of strings attached, at least for you three.”

“Yes, Joe, there are strings attached. But sexual exclusivity isn’t one of them.”

We were both quiet for a bit, and then she asked me how my work was going. I told her about Kara’s offer to search the next Arion ship she captured for useful technology.

“That would be different,” she said, “from what she normally does.”

“What does she normally do?” I asked.

“Most of an Arion ship’s crew is made up of Betas. A few Betas isn’t a problem, but a few Betas with GARs can be. So, the first tactic when encountering a lone Arion ship is to ram through it, putting holes through all the airtight compartments and venting its atmosphere into space. That kills any Betas that aren’t in pressure suits. And if they don’t see the Protector coming, they aren’t.

“If Primes are on board, the ships engines have to be disabled. If the ship can’t be maneuvered its weapons can’t be brought to bear.

“If there are Primes and they try to come out and fight, well, they can’t fly. Primes, for the most part, aren’t stupid, but they can let their tempers get the best for them. Especially the males. They’ll try to push off from the hull of the ship towards a Protector, to try to fight her. Well, the Protector only need move out of the way and the Prime is stranded in the vacuum of space.

“After that it’s only a matter of disposing of the ship, with our without any Primes on board. All that involves is giving it a good shove towards a star, or a wormhole. If that’s not practical, the next option is a large, uninhabited planet. But if you do that, you have to make sure you kill the Primes less they get out a distress call and get rescued.”

“Couldn’t they make a distress call from within the ship if its heading towards a star or wormhole?”

“They could, but it wouldn’t do them any good. By the time help arrived they’d be dead, either burned up in a star or crushed in a blackhole.”

“So, what would Kara do differently if she was going to salvage equipment?” I asked.

“She’d have to verify there are no Primes on board, or board the ship and eliminate them. My guess is that if there are Primes on the ship, she’ll just chuck it into the sun. Or Jupiter. Even if the Primes could get a signal out, there is no way they’d get off Jupiter.

“If there aren’t any Primes, she can just board the ship and look for what she needs.”

We talked for a while longer, and then went out for a swim. Sharon appeared a little impatient or frustrated??? Because I was on my meds and impotent.

“Sharon, didn’t you just spend most of a day with a Messenger? After him, wouldn’t I be a disappointment?”

“I did Joe, but a Velorian can never have too much sex, and you never disappoint me. You can’t, I won’t let you. Except when you are on your meds, and the fact that I can’t have you makes me want you all the more!”

“You really know how to stroke a guy’s ego, Sharon. Has anyone ever told you that?”

“It’s an art form, Joe. Sometimes when I’m in a room full of people and releasing my pheromones would just cause chaos I revert to the old-fashioned methods of seduction.”

“You’re good at it.”

“I know.”

We went shopping for dinner and brought home three large T-bone steaks, one for me, two for her. She ate my leftovers. For dessert she found a half-gallon of chocolate ice-cream Gloria had left behind. She only ate about a third of that. She thought it would be rude not to leave some for Xara.

At bedtime I took my nighttime meds and went off to my bedroom. Sharon was already there, waiting for me.

“You know I can’t do anything, right?” I asked.

“I know Joe. But you are nice to sleep with.”

I got into bed. Dixon and Johnson wanted to talk, honestly, they’d been trying to get into our conversations all day, but I just ignored them and went to sleep.

To: Near Earth Command

From: Arion High Command

Subject: Capture Team

AHC concurs with NEC’s determination that the Protector or Protector(s) of Terra are no longer confining their activities to the planet Terra itself. We are dispatching a team to kill or capture/kill the Protector or Protector(s). The team has formulated a plan. If NEC concurs with this plan you are authorized to implement it immediately. If not, work with the team to develop and alternative plan and submit it for approval.

Chapter 146

When I opened my eyes in the morning, I saw Xara smiling at me. She was dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, bare feet, her running outfit.

“Are you ready to go for our run?” She asked?

“What happened to Sharon?”

“She had a meeting to prep for. She left an hour ago, at the same time I got back here. Now come on, get up and dress for our run.”

She left the room and I got up and dressed and met her in the driveway. As was becoming our habit, she set the pace, beginning with a slow jog to warm up.

“How was your Messenger?” I asked.

“Interesting,” she said.

“How so?”

“I’m much stronger than I used to be. I’ve always been stronger than Messengers, but now … Joe, when you’re with mom or Sharon, you often feel like you’re completely at their mercy, that they can do anything with you or to you they want, and you have no say in it, right?”

I stopped jogging and turned and looked at her.

“I ALWAYS feel like that, Xara. Or almost always. Sometimes, when she’s in the mood for it, your mom will let me have the illusion that I am in control, but I know I’m not. Don’t the Terrans you’ve been with feel that way?”

“You’re Kiraling, Joe, so we don’t withhold our true nature from you. With Terrans who don’t know what we are, we are more restrained, less dominant. At least mom and I are. If it’s just a one-night stand with someone she doesn’t think she’ll ever see again, Sharon is more herself.”

“Okay, what does this have to do with Messengers?”

“With other Supremis, it isn’t like it is with Terrans. We’re more equal. Even though we’re stronger than them, it isn’t enough of a difference to make them feel the way you feel with one of us.

“Joe, I felt like I could completely dominate the Messenger, and he felt it too, the way you do with Mom and Sharon.”

“Was that a problem?”

“At first, I think it scared him a little. But being a Messenger, he got over that very quickly and it seemed to turn him on more. Mom was watching and she said afterwards that he may have been trying a little harder with me. And for a Messenger, that’s saying a lot, because they always put everything they have into sex with a Protector or Scribe. That’s one of the reasons we look forward to seeing them. Oh, I’m getting turned on just talking about it!”

Okay. Thinking of Sharon and Kara getting it on in a threesome with a Messenger … is stimulating. But visualizing Xara and Kara, mother and daughter in the same situation … I turned and started jogging again. Dixon and Johnson, on the other hand, had no problem with it and wanted to talk about it. I did my best to shut them out.

“Joe, did I say something wrong?”

“No Xara, you didn’t.”

“Joe, what’s wrong?”

“Xara … you’d just think I was being a stupid, backwards, closed minded, puritanical Terran.”

She reached out and grabbed my arm and stopped me.

“What are you talking about?” She asked.

“Xara, mother-daughter-threesomes are … not something I’m into.”

Dixon and Johnson said they were.

“Really? The porn sites I’ve seen have a lot of that. Isn’t that a common Terran male fantasy?”

“Not all of us think porn sex is real sex,” I said.

“I do,” said Johnson.

“Me too,” said Dixon.

“Oh. Would you have a problem with Sharon and me, or Sharon and mom?”

“With a Messenger? No. That sounds hot.”

Dixon and Johnson agreed.

“How about with you?”

“I don’t think I could survive it.”

Johnson said, “Yeah, but what a way to go.”

She laughed, then said, “Well, it’s not like we’re both going at the Messenger at the same time. We take turns.”

“That’s not making it any better, Xara.”

“Tell us more,” said Dixon.

“Would you like me to arrange a threesome with you, Sharon and mom?”

Dixon and Johnson shouted, “Yes!” In unison.

“Xara … you arranging sex, with your mom …”

“You know I’ve watched you have sex with mom a lot of times, don’t you? When we went camping, Sharon and I were …”

I put my hands over my ears and started yelling, “La la la la la la la.”

She laughed, then said, “We’re going to have to have a talk about all your sexual hang-ups. If I’m going to be a good girlfriend, I have to know these things.”

I started running faster. Didn’t do any good, she easily kept up with me. And kept up a running conversation. More like a monologue. She did all the talking.

“I really should know all your sexual preferences, Joe. I’ll take whatever I want from you, but you’ll have to tell me what you want from me.

“What positions do you like? I know mom and Sharon are usually on top in cowgirl, and they’ve let you be on top in missionary, but I’m open to anything you want to do. Do you like blowjobs?”

Dixon said, “Take her up on the blowjobs bro!”

Johnson said, “Ask her about reverse cowgirl.”

“I’m afraid anal is out,” she went on. “We have excellent muscle control, but not so much that one. I’d crush you if I even twitched wrong. The Galen weren’t thinking about that when they designed us. Hey! I’m Galen! Maybe I do have control there. I’ll test it and let you know.”

Mercifully, when it came time to cool down, she stopped talking.

As before, we ran a little farther today than yesterday. She was working on my stamina. I was feeling rather good about it, I was getting back in shape.

Back at the cabin I took a shower and came out to breakfast, waffles today. My glass of orange juice was on the table, but no medications.

“Let me know how you are feeling today, Joe. I think it’s safe to take you off your meds, but Gloria says to watch for any back sliding.”

After breakfast I went downstairs to work on my language lessons, but I wasn’t really concentrating on that. Could Sharon be right, that if Xara ruled out sex with Terrans, she’d end up resenting me? And even if she didn’t, would that be fair to her?

And if we disposed of her “agreement” with me, would I be able to handle her having sex with other men? I honestly didn’t think I’d have a problem with her availing herself of Messengers when they came around, but other Terrans … I would have a problem with that, I’m sure.

Could I have the same kind of relationship with her that I have with Kara and Sharon? I think I want more, and Xara has made it clear to me that she wants more.

I wasn’t getting anywhere, with either my language lessons or trying to figure out what kind of relationship Xara and I could have if we let it sex become part of it. So, I gave up on the language lessons and spent some time on the Bowflex, then went to work on the job the army was paying me to do.

I was going through intercept log, again, when I stumbled upon something that I hadn’t seen before. In the last few weeks there was a strong signal, coming from I don’t know where, that didn’t correlate with any other signals. I plotted it out, nearly every 3 hours 22 minutes an extraordinarily strong signal would appear for just a few seconds, then disappear. There were periods when the signal would not repeat for 54 hours. Then it would show up again, for 54 hours, then disappear for another 54 hours. I tried, and failed, to correlate it with any other signals that might indicate a send/receive sequence. There weren’t any. The last signal came through an hour ago. I went back three days and found it, didn’t find it going four days back, or more. This was something new.

I documented my observation and sent a report off to Kara’s organization, copying Major Moore. Twenty minutes later Xara came flying, literally, downstairs with her phone to her ear.

“Mom’s on the phone. She wants me to double check your observation.”

She put the phone on speaker.

“Okay, mom, I’m looking at the same thing Joe saw, it’s real.”

“Joseph,” said Kara, I could hear other voices in the background, “are you certain this signal is new?”

“I’ve looked back four months,” I said, “this is new.”

“And you’re certain there hasn’t been a reply?” She asked.

“Not in real time, Kara,” I replied, “that doesn’t mean there isn’t any asynchronous communication going on.”

“My people here think it’s a beacon,” said Kara. “Pass that information to Major Moore.”

“If she asks who you mean by ‘my people’, and where ‘here’ is, what should I tell her?”

Kara laughed and said, “The same thing I’m telling you, Joseph, nothing.” And she hung up.

“What do you think this means, Xara?” I asked.

“I don’t know Joe, but I’m sure mom will want to investigate.”

Xara went back upstairs, and I sent an updated report to Major Moore. She didn’t even ask about Kara’s people, or where they were. She’d been down that rabbit hole before. But she did say she’d have some information for me in about four hours.

By this time, I was getting hungry. I looked at my watch, it was just a little after noon. I walked upstairs and told Xara I was going to make myself a tuna sandwich and asked her if she wanted anything. She yes and came into the kitchen to help me.

I made a sandwich for myself and two for her and we sat down to eat. While we ate, we talked about the signal and what it might mean. In truth, all we could do was speculate.

When I finished my sandwich, I was still hungry, so I went looking in the fridge and cupboards for something more to eat.

“What are you doing, Joe?”

“Looking for something to eat. I’m still hungry.”

Suddenly I was hit by a whirlwind of blonde hair, arms, and the nicest set of boobs on the planet, and found myself just an inch or two lower than the ceiling.

“You’re hungry Joe! You’re off your meds and you’re hungry!”

She kissed me full on the lips as she lowered us down to the floor.

“It’s working Joe! The STE is working!”

She was talking about what the blondes called the Supremis-Terran-Effect, changes some Terrans undergo from continuous exposure to Supremis. Or, in my case, to Velorians.

I thought about that. Yes, I was still hungry after eating a sandwich, and that was unusual. That did mean the STE was working on me and I was getting better!

“Here Joe,” she said, “have an apple.”

I did, and then I had another one, and that satisfied me. Xara was all smiles and grins. I was feeling pretty good about it too. And while we were celebrating, my phone rang, it was Major Moore.

“Sergeant, I’ve just sent you some information regarding that signal you found. Take a look at it and send it on to Kara.”

“Yes ma’am.” I said.

I went downstairs to look at the communication she had sent me. When I read it, I called upstairs to Xara, to come down. She came down and I showed it to her, and while I packaged it for Kara, she got her mother on the phone.

“Mom, Sarah passed the information about that new signal on to some scientists, and they made an interesting observation. The gap in the signal, where it goes from appearing every three hours, nothing for 54 hours, then back to three, corresponds to what they would expect to see if the source of the signal were orbiting Rhea, one of Saturn’s moons.”

She put the phone on speaker.

“Kara, this is Joe, I’m sending you a detailed report from Major Moore.”

“Thank you, Joseph,” Kara said, “I’ll have my people look it over. Please extend my thanks to Sarah.” Then she hung up.

I sent Kara’s thanks to Major Moore and then sat back in my chair, turned towards Xara and said, “This has been on exciting day, and it isn’t even half over.”

“Yes,” said Xara. “I’m going to talk to mom later about making a trip to Saturn to do some recon.”

“You don’t think she has already thought of that?”

“Maybe,” she said, “but I think this might be something to let me do in case this is a trap.”

“A trap? Really?”

“I don’t know, Joe, but it’s Arion, so we have to consider it.”

She went back upstairs. All my anxiety about relationship drama was gone, so I took another shot at my language lessons. And it was easier than it had been the last two months. I had no trouble concentrating and holding my concentration. The STE really was working.

After that I went upstairs and told Xara I was going swimming. She said she would to. I went to my bedroom and changed into my swim trunks and went out to the lake. Xara was standing there in my yard, nude and beautiful, waiting for me. When I approached her, she put her arms around me and gave me a kiss, then looked down and said, “I guess we’ll have to wait a little longer for the meds to get out of your system.”

I looked down and said, “Yeah. It might take a little longer.”

“Just to be sure Joe,” and she leaned into me, and I smelled honey and wildflowers and suddenly was frozen. She sighed and put her arms around me and flew us up about twenty feet, where there was a breeze, and as her pheromones gradually cleared my system I “thawed.”

“Xara, next time give me some warning, okay?”

“Okay Joe.” Then she kissed me, grinned at me, flew us out over the lake and dropped me.

The time it takes to fall to the ground from a height of 20 feet is just over a second and when you hit you are going just under 25 mph. I know because I looked it up afterwards. The good news was that when Xara dropped me, I was in an upright position, I didn’t bellyflop. The bad news is it didn’t occur to me to hold my nose. So, when I hit the water, at 25 mph, a lot of water was forced up my nose. God that hurt!

The water was deep enough that my feet hit the bottom and I pushed up to the surface. Xara was there to greet me. I was coughing and choking and trying to get the water out of my nose, and that made her panic, unnecessarily, this wasn’t my first experience getting lake water up my nose, and she wrapped her arms around me and flew us up and out of the water and back to my lawn where she put me down and started pounding my back.

“Joe, I’m so sorry, are you okay?”

“Stop hitting me!”

She stopped, and then I saw the look in her eyes, and I started laughing.

“I’m okay Xara, you little brat.”

And then she started laughing, and then I got up and ran back into the lake. She followed and I turned around and splashed water in her face. She splashed back and soon we had a splash fight going, and, as you might have guessed, she won. But we had fun. After that we worked on her fighting technique. Not only did she remember everything I’d taught her from our last session, but she was much improved.

That evening I grilled steaks for dinner, big ones, and I ate my entire steak. Xara was so happy that she called Gloria to tell her about it. Gloria told her to make sure I ate dessert. Xara put a bowl of ice cream in front of me after she hung up. I ate all the ice cream. Xara called Gloria to tell her about it.

Then, apparently, Gloria handed the phone to Kara. I heard Xara’s side of the conversation.

“No mom.

“Yes, I tried pheromones. He froze.

“Yes, mom, I’ll let you know.”

“Yes, I’ll let Sharon know too.”

“I love you too mom. Bye.”

“Umm, Xara, what was that about, with your mom?”

“Oh, she and Sharon want me to let them know as soon as you can have sex again. Would you like some more ice cream?”

I turned down the ice cream and turned on Sports Center and watched that until bedtime.

Chapter 147

In the morning I woke to discover Sharon in bed with me. She had a hand over my genitals, and I was erect.

“Good morning Joe,” she said.

“Good morning, Sharon,” I said as she pulled the covers off us and mounted me. “How long have you been here?”

“Not long,” she said, “Xara called and said you had a morning erection, so I flew right out.”

“Is Xara watching us?” I asked.

“No, she and Kara are checking out the source of that signal you discovered,” she replied.

I didn’t say anything after that. Sharon was massaging me the way only a Supremis can and had released just a tiny bit of her pheromones. She let me orgasm quickly, then increased the pheromones and began riding me, while massaging me at the same time. We each orgasmed twice, then she slowed down and rolled off me and waited for her pheromones to clear out of my system.

“I’ve missed this, Joe,” she said. And I believed her.

“So have I,” I said. “Wait, did you say Xara and Kara are out checking that signal? I think I heard you say that.”

“Yes,” she said, “I did, and they are.”

“Xara said it might be a trap.”

“Kara agrees with her,” she said. “They will be very careful.”

“I’m going for a run, Sharon.”

“You don’t want to stay in bed with me?” She said that with a smile on her face.

I looked at her and sighed. “I’m just going to worry about them. Running will help with the anxiety.”

“Were you worried while we were making love?”

“No. But that’s because of your pheromones. I think I’d like to have a clear head until they get back.”

“Okay,” she said, “I’ll go running with you.”

She jumped out of bed and left the room and came back wearing a pair of Xara’s shorts and one of her T-shirts.

“I thought your running outfit would consist of designer shorts, a top from Paris and shoes from Christian Louboutin,” I said.

“Those are home in my closet,” she replied, with a smile on her face. “Xara said she’s got a target heart rate for you. What is it?”

“164.”

“That sounds about right.”

We went out and started the routine, except Sharon let me set the pace. After about 2 ½ miles I asked her, “How am I doing? Am I hitting that target heart rate?”

“I don’t know,” she said, “I haven’t been keeping track.” Then she paused for a moment, and said, “161. Pretty close.”

We finished the run and got back to the cabin. Xara and Kara weren’t there.

“I thought they’d be back by now, Sharon. Do you think they ran into trouble?”

“Joe, Saturn’s a long way from here. They probably aren’t there yet.”

“Oh.”

“Give me the keys to your car Joe,” she said. “You shower and I’ll get breakfast.”

I gave her the keys and headed to the shower. As I opened the shower door, a nude Sharon stepped into the bathroom and said, “On second thought, let’s shower together, then go out for breakfast.”

I could barely walk when she was finished with me. I was clean though. After we dried off and dressed, we went out for breakfast. When we returned, Kara and Xara still weren’t back.

They didn’t come back that day, or the next, and I started spending all my time in the lair, looking at that signal, breaking only for meals and to sleep. Sharon spent all her time with me and managed her business remotely. Major Moore was demanding hourly updates, until the signal disappeared for the regular 54-hour interval. Then it came back, and we were back to hourly updates.

After two weeks of this, halfway into one of the 54-hour intervals where we were seeing the signal every three hours, it disappeared. I was on the phone immediately with Major Moore. She wanted to know what that meant. I didn’t know. Then she had me put Sharon on the phone and she asked Sharon what it meant, and she said she didn’t know. After two days of this the logs showed an uptick in traffic, all one way, with no answers back. This looked like regular Arion message traffic, except that the messages were unusually short.

Four days later, Xara and Kara returned.

Chapter 148

They came from the lake through the equalization room. Sharon heard their approach and alerted me, and I was there when they came into the lair proper. Though she was still wet, I threw myself at Xara and hugged her as hard as I could.

“Xara! I was worried sick about you!”

“Oh Joe, I’m sorry I worried you, but I’m fine. We’re both fine.”

“Both …” Oh, right, Kara was there too.

“Kara, where have you two been? What did you find out?”

“We’ll tell you Joseph. Let’s get Sarah out here so we only have to tell it once. Sharon, will you take a pod and fetch her for us?”

“Sure,” said Sharon. “Joe, call her and let her know I’m on my way.”

Before Sharon turned to grab a pod and leave Xara asked her, “Did he eat and exercise?”

“He did. And he had plenty of sex too. All his parts are working.”

Kara took my hand and said, “I’m going to take a quick shower, Joseph. Please be waiting for me in your bed.”

“What!?” I shouted. “You’ve been gone for days, and you want to screw?”

“Of course I do, Joseph. It’s been too long.”

“Xara!”

“She knows what she’s doing Joe, and she knows what you both need.”

“Just do it,” said Sharon, “it’s going to take a few hours to get Sarah back here.”

“Since when? You can do the suborbital thing and have her back here in an hour!”

“Sharon,” said Kara, “please take the slow route.”

“I’ll call Sarah,” said Xara, “you go get ready for mom.”

I gave up.

“I give up,” I said, and went upstairs. I wanted to say that I’m too upset or wound up for sex, but I knew Kara could solve that problem in seconds.

As I was walking up the stairs, I heard Xara say, “Mom, there better not be a single mark on him when you’re finished.”

And Kara said back, “Alright Xara! You’ve beaten me up about that enough. I’ll be very gentle.”

Kara took a very quick shower, and when she walked into my room, nude, I nearly gasped. These women are so beautiful, and she was absolutely glowing. I was on my back, waiting for her to release her pheromones and mount me, when she said, “No Joseph, this is going to be different.”

She laid next to me on her side and reached out for me, and I rolled onto my side facing her. She put a leg over mine and pulled me into a kiss. A sweet, gentle kiss. And then she released just a trace of her pheromones, so I became hard but still had all my faculties. She kissed me again and reached out and held me by the hand, then moved that hand to her breast.

Foreplay. This was different. In my experience with Kara and Sharon, foreplay was kept to a minimum. They were always ready for penetration, I think that is their natural state, and all they needed to get me ready was their pheromones.

That’s not strictly true. The pheromones just made what was going to happen, happen a little faster, because when one of these beauties lay down next to you, or on top of you … you’ll be ready.

Anyway, she moved my head towards her breasts, and I happily grabbed onto a nipple. And then she took my hand and moved it between her legs. She’d never done this before. But I knew what to do, and it wasn’t long before she started trembling and had her first orgasm. And then she rolled over on her back and said, “Come on in.” And I knew what to do.

We must have been in bed together for an hour and a half, and I was on top the entire time, and she was completely gentle with me. She matched my rhythm perfectly and when I was about to orgasm, she let me do it, keeping me hard with her pheromones. I don’t know how many orgasms we each had, but when we were done, I was wasted. Kara sat up, smiled at me, kissed me, and said, “Thank you, Joseph, that was very refreshing.” And she bounded off the bed and headed downstairs.

I took a shower and joined her. By that time, she had found some clothes, both she and Xara were wearing shorts and t-shirts. When I came downstairs Xara said, “Sharon will be at least another hour. Can we have something to eat?”

I turned around and headed back upstairs to the kitchen. I had a Costco turkey breast, the kind that is already cooked, and several kinds of cheese and crackers. I put together a platter and brought it downstairs. It was gone in five minutes. I tried to get information out of them, but hey wouldn’t tell me anything; they just kept telling me to be patient.

When Sharon arrived with Major Moore we sat down around a table. I put a voice recorder on and started it.

Kara said, “Thanks to Major Moore, we had place to start looking for the Arion signal, Saturn’s moon, Rhea. So, we made a plan to investigate.”

Xara said, “We thought it might be a trap, so we decided against a direct approach. Since I can accelerate faster than mom, we decided I’d do a flyby.”

“But not a direct flyby,” Kara said.

Xara said, “I proceeded to a point above the plain of the solar system and positioned myself so I could come straight down through the orbit of Rhea and continue down.”

“I positioned myself below the plain of the solar system, so Xara would be accelerating towards me,” said Kara.

“Mom and I coordinated the timing, and at the predetermined time I accelerated as hard as I could towards mom. I timed it so I was passing by Rhea quite close, but too fast for the Arions to detect me, or to identify me if they did detect me.

“I observed a small structure on Rhea, which mom and I discovered later was the source of the signal. In orbit above Rhea were three heavy Arion fighters, each crewed by two Primes.”

Major Moore interrupted, “Heavy Arion fighters? Can you elaborate?”

Kara took this one. “The Arions have several classes of fighter ships. A heavy fighter is designed to carry weapons that can harass and damage a capital ship on the one hand but be maneuverable and quick enough to avoid counter fire. They work together in squadrons.”

“They must have been there for weeks,” said Major Moore, “how does that affect the crew?”

Kara answered her. “Heavy fighter squadrons are meant to operate for extended periods of time. They carry supplies and amenities to support a crew for an extended period.

“And they normally carry a crew of six, one Prime and five Betas. With only two Primes on board, they can stay out in space for an exceptionally long time.”

Xara said, “I told mom what I saw, and where they were with respect to Rhea …”

“Wait,” said Major Moore, “how did you tell her?”

Kara laughed and said, “We use sign language for communication in space. Show her Xara.”

Xara went through a series of very fast motions with her hands and fingers.

Then Kara said, “Show them at full speed.”

Xara’s hands were just a blur. Sharon laughed out loud. Major Moore and I looked at Sharon quizzically and she said, “Xara just told a rather ribald joke about a Kintzi and a Scalantran walking into a bar …”

“A what and a what?” Asked Major Moore.

“That isn’t important,” said Kara, “the point is, we can communicate, very quickly.”

Kara continued, “The Arions know Terra has a protector, but they don’t know about Xara.”

I interrupted her here, “Didn’t they see Xara when you got the medical equipment to fix me …”

Kara interrupted me. “Yes Joseph, they knew about her from that experience, which Major Moore doesn’t know about and won’t know about. Sorry Major. Security, you understand.

“They don’t know Xara is part Galen, or that she is much, much more than a Protector now. So, we set our own trap for them, using some misdirection.”

Xara picked it up here. “Mom and I flew to the side of Rhea opposite where their station and fighters were. Mom flew out from behind the moon and rammed one of the fighters, damaging an engine, then took off, so it looked to them like mom did a hit and run and was trying to flee.”

Kara said, “And it worked. All three fighters came after me, including the one I damaged.”

“Wait,” said Major Moore, “what worked? Why wouldn’t they have chased you?”

Sharon answered her. “The short answer is Protectors don’t run. The long answer is, Kara is a P1 Protector. She has been genetically programmed to fight. She doesn’t have a fight or flight response. The flight part of it has been genetically removed.”

“That’s right,” said Kara. “Protectors have to go through intensive training to know when it is time to retreat and come back to fight another day. It isn’t in our DNA to do so. The Arions know this, they should have suspected something was up when I fled.”

“Arion Primes are arrogant,” said Xara. “They think everyone is afraid of them. They didn’t stop to analyze the situation.”

Arions are arrogant?” Said Major Moore.

“I’ve been down that road with them Major,” I said, “it doesn’t get you anywhere.”

“The damaged fighter fell behind the other two,” said Xara, “making it easy for me to pick it off. I flew into one of the undamaged engines, destroying it, and then ripped apart the other engine. Then I disabled their outboard weapons so they couldn’t get into the fight if mom came back towards it.”

“In the meantime,” said Kara, “I was dodging heavy Gar fire.”

Sarah asked, “Could their GARs have killed you?”

“Yes,” said Kara, “but they’d have to hit me several times. I was accelerating away from them and changing course, trying to fly as erratically as I could to avoid getting hit. I did get hit, twice, but they were glancing blows that only irritated me.”

“The disabled fighter must have warned the other two,” said Xara, “because one of them broke off its pursuit of mom and came back.”

“And that,” said Kara, “sealed their fate. One heavy fighter wasn’t going to take down an experienced P1 Protector. As soon as I realized his wingman was gone, I turned on the fighter pursuing me, came up and over it, then accelerated into it, penetrating and passing through the command deck and coming out the bottom of the craft. I must have destroyed their controls, because the fighter made no attempt to change course to engage me.”

Xara said, “I accelerated head on into the last fighter. Heavy Gar fire reduced some of my velocity, and it stung like hell, but I’m a lot tougher now than I used to be. I went right through it and as I exited through an engine it exploded.”

“What, I asked, “happened to the crews? Did the Primes survive your attacks?”

“They did,” said Xara, but they can’t fly. I found them floating in the wreckage. I broke their necks then threw their bodies towards Saturn.”

“I threw the fighter I disabled into Saturn,” said Kara. “The Primes didn’t make any attempt to come out of their ship.”

“What happened to the third fighter, the one Kara attacked first?” I asked.

Kara said, “After Xara disposed of her Primes, and I sent the fighter I had engaged into Saturn, we rendezvoused near the last fighter and discussed what we should do with it. There was still the structure on the surface of Rhea, and we determined it wasn’t manned, so we brought the final fighter down to the surface of the moon. At that point the Primes came out to fight. Xara engaged one and killed him easily. Joseph, I understand you did some training with her. It was effective.”

Xara smiled at me and said, “Yes, thank you for teaching me Joe.”

“Okay,” I said, “there was still one Prime left.”

“Yes,” said Kara. “After seeing that he was alone, he seemed to have lost his fighting spirit. Primes, especially the males, talk big when they think they have the upper hand. Show them that they don’t, and they show their true, cowardly selves.”

“So, what did you do with him,” Major Moore asked.

“We killed him,” said Xara.

“Joseph,” said Kara, “please turn off the recorder.”

I did.

“Please make a copy of the recording for Major Moore.”

I said I would.

“Major Moore,” said Kara, “we salvaged some equipment from the last fighter and the transmitting station before we destroyed them. We haven’t examined all the equipment yet, but I think we’ll be able to track signals to their source now. I’ll let you know after I complete my analysis.”

Major Moore asked some more questions, but it was clear Xara and Kara weren’t going to add any more details. I made a copy of the recording and gave it to Major Moore, who then left with Sharon.

Do you think Xara and Kara would tell me more? Well, not right then. Instead, they grilled me on what I’d been eating, how much I had been exercising, and how often Sharon and I had sex. I hadn’t been journaling, why would I, so I logged into my bank and showed them how much money I’d spent at Fred Meyer and Costco. This didn’t satisfy them, they told me that from now on, if Xara isn’t there, I’m to journal my meals and exercise.

I told them I was running and working out on the Bowflex, and they both commented that they could see the results of my strength training.

As for the question about sex, I said Sharon and I had sex whenever Sharon wanted to, which satisfied them on that subject.

They were hungry but decided to wait until Sharon returned. I didn’t know she was coming back. When she arrived, we fixed dinner, and they all commented favorably on what I ate and how much, and Xara journaled it. But that wasn’t the main topic of conversation.

When we sat down to eat, Sharon said, “Ladies, please tell me the rest of the story. I’m dying to hear about it.”

“There’s more?” I asked.

“Yes Joseph,” said Kara. “Xara, tell them.”

Xara said, “The last Prime didn’t die the way we said he did.”

I pointed out that they didn’t say how he died.

“You didn’t say how he died.”

“After seeing his crewmate die, he didn’t give up,” said Kara. “Xara was about to dispatch him when I stopped her.”

“Wait,” said Sharon, “Xara, is it really that easy for you to kill them?”

“It surprised me too, Sharon. It’s not as easy as killing a Beta, but I never felt threatened in the least.”

“Why did you stop her?” I asked Kara.

“I wanted her to experience sexually draining a Prime of his Orgone energy.” She replied.

“Oh, this I’ve got to hear!” Said Sharon.

“Well, it wasn’t too much different from having sex with a Messenger,” Xara said, “except for the violence.

“I knocked him down, ripped off his clothing and straddled him. Rhea has an atmosphere, but it’s very thin, so I put my head down to his face and released my pheromones, and they did the trick. I inserted him and we started fucking. It took about half an hour, but I drained him, then shoved my hand through his ribcage and pulled out his heart.”

“Half an hour? That’s remarkable!” Said Sharon.

“Umm, why?” I asked.

“They usually last longer than that,” said Kara. And she continued. “Xara isn’t telling you the entire story. He was like a rag doll under her, a rag doll with an erection. I examined his body afterwards. She’d broken his pelvis and several ribs.”

“It was easy,” said Xara.

“Nothing like angry sex,” quipped Sharon. And Xara and Kara laughed.

“It’s got me thinking,” said Xara. “If I can do that to a Prime, if I can take direct hits from a heavy ship mounted Gar, maybe I can rid this solar system of Arions forever.”

“It’s something to take up with the Senate,” said Kara.

“The Senate, really?” I asked.

“The Velorian Senate, Joseph.”

If she can do that to a Prime, what can she do to me? Johnson and Dixon heard that and pointed out that it has always been that easy for the blondes to kill me. Still, it’s intimidating.

I had one question though, that had been bothering me.

“I don’t understand why you two were gone for so long.”

“Joseph,” Kara said, “space is vast. The distances we were dealing with are more than you can imagine.”

“Joe,” said Xara, “you have to think in terms of acceleration, velocity and distance. On Terra, when you want to change directions in your car, you have the tires friction on the road to assist you. Aside from planetary gravity wells, there are no assists in space. If you want to change direction you have to accelerate in that direction.

“For me to accelerate to a velocity that would be too fast for the Arions to detect me on my flyby, and then meet mom, I had to accelerate as hard as I could, then accelerate in the opposite direction to come to a full stop relative to mom. All that takes a great deal of time and a great deal of distance to accomplish.”

“And then,” said Kara, “there was the task of hiding the equipment we salvaged so the Arions wouldn’t find it before we were finished with it.

“That last fighter, the one we landed on the surface of Rhea, was nearly intact. We needed to find a place to hide it, and then we’ll need to bring it to this planet and conceal it somewhere the Terran authorities won’t find it.”

“Why not turn the fighter over to the Pentagon?” I asked.

“It’s sort of like the Star Trek prime directive,” said Xara.

“And if the Arions found out, and they would, it could lead to an attack to get it back,” added Sharon.

From: Arion High Command

To: Near Earth Command

Subject: Change of Command

Effective immediately Admiral ‘Kurth is removed from NEC Command and is recalled to Aria. A new commander will be appointed in the coming days.

 

Janelle could hardly believe it. She was sure every Arion in the Terran solar system shared her reaction. Six Primes and three Doma class fighters had been lost in a single engagement to one or possibly two Protectors! What was just as shocking was Near Earth Command’s willingness to share the details with agents on Terra. This could only mean that they considered the Velorian threat extremely dangerous.

According to NEC, six Primes in three fighters had set up an ambush to capture and kill the Protector or Protector’s operating on Terra. Instead, the Velorians ambushed them! NEC received messages that the three fighters were engaging a single Protector. Then there was a message that a second Protector had joined the fight. Then there was a distress call from one of the fighters, then silence. There were indications that two fighters crashed on to one of the gas giants in this solar system. There was no sign of the third fighter.

To Janelle, it appeared there was panic in the upper echelons of the Arion High Command and NEC. The commander of NEC had been recalled. She was sure that heads were going to roll, and not just at NEC. Whatever ambush plan had been put in place had to have been approved at the highest levels.

All agents on Terra were ordered to cease operations and go to ground until further notice. The only outgoing communication allowed would be short Proof of Life transmissions, once every Terran week.

Janelle pondered what that meant for her. Since her assignment was to win hearts and minds, she decided to keep her veterinary, no, medical, she had to call it a medical practice. She decided to keep her medical practice active and refrain from terrorizing the gangs until NEC issued an all-clear signal. That, she thought, was unfortunate, because the locals were all abuzz with news that the gangs were panicking over the grisly murder of three more of their members. She was looking forward to having more fun playing with them, but she’d have to wait on that.

Chapter 149

For the next several days all three blondes were busy finding a hiding place for the captured fighter and moving it there. Kara decided to reach into her bag of chips and cash one in.

There is a tribe in the Andes that Kara visited over seventy years ago. How much over seventy years, she wouldn’t tell me. Nor could I get her to tell me her age.

The story, as she told it, was that she happened upon this tribe when it was conducting a ceremony near the vertical entrance to a large cave complex, called Cueva de los Tayos (the Spanish name) or Cave of the Oilbirds. The native name for the cave complex is unpronounceable, at least for me. Kara has no trouble with it.

Anyway, they were doing some kind of initiation ceremony when a ledge that some young men were standing on collapsed. Kara was able to affect a rescue of the survivors and retrieve the bodies of the dead. The tribe was grateful, and every year holds a banquet in Kara’s honor, which she attends.

The Shuar, the indigenous people of the area, guard the cave and control access to it. While modern day explorers have been allowed to enter the cave, they have been kept away from the deepest areas. Kara visited the Shuar and asked permission to temporarily hide a large object there. They agreed. So Sharon, Kara and Xara moved the Arion fighter into the cave. The Shuar were astounded to learn that there are more beings like Kara, and the blondes put on a little show for them. Heat vision, strength, flying stunts, that kind of thing. And then Kara asked permission for their ‘special friend’, i.e., yours truly, to visit the cave. They agreed, which is how I found myself in Xara’s arms descending over two hundred feet to the floor of one of the caves vertical entrances.

We flew through several different chambers with multiple entrances and exits. I’m sure, without Xara, that I would have become hopelessly lost. After half an hour we arrived at the chamber that held the Arion fighter. I could see why Kara called it a ‘heavy fighter’. The sucker was big. Its power cells hadn’t been destroyed, so the interior was lit. Otherwise, without Xara’s new flashlight vision (she punched me in the shoulder every time I called it that, I have the bruise to prove it) I wouldn’t have been able to see a thing.

We entered the ship. Kara and Sharon were already there, and then I found out why she asked the tribe if she could bring me there. Despite all her strength and power, Kara does not do manual labor. Or more specifically, she does not do skilled manual labor. None of the blondes do. When the tribe told her she could only bring one ‘special friend’ here, she realized she and Xara and Sharon would have to take apart the Arion ships themselves, and rather than bring one of the engineers from her team, a team I hadn’t met, she decided to bring me, because she didn’t want to be embarrassed by her lack of technical (really, mechanical) skills in front of her team. But I was Kiraling, so it was okay to be embarrassed in front of me. Okay, I made that up. I have no idea why she chose me instead of someone with more suitable experience. Maybe she didn’t have anyone experienced in taking apart alien spaceships.

Oh, the blondes could tear the ship apart without my help. But they couldn’t tear it apart with any confidence the equipment would be in working order. So they brought me along to help them. Apparently, since I knew how to do basic maintenance of my cabin, I was also qualified to disassemble a freaking spaceship.

This class of fighter, Doma, Kara called it, is expected to be self-sufficient over long periods of time. And that meant it had the tools necessary to do minor repairs and routine maintenance tasks on board, and technical manuals that explain all the systems and how to maintain them. Kara had all the manuals laid out for me.

“I’ll show you the equipment we want to remove, and then you can help us remove it,” Kara said.

“Okay,” I replied. “By help do you mean we’ll all pick up tools and get to work, or do you mean you’ll watch me do it?”

“We’ll help you when you ask us to, if you’ll tell us what to do.”

“Alright. Let’s get started.”

Kara took me around the ship and showed me the equipment she wanted to salvage. Some of it would be hard to get to, the stuff embedded into panels and consoles and such. And there would be some heavy lifting involved too.

Xara had the first manual open for the first piece of equipment I was going to remove. Turns out, learning conversational Arion is not sufficient for reading technical manuals, so the blondes had to translate for me. One good thing, a screwdriver is a screwdriver is a screwdriver, whether on earth or on Aria. Theirs are heavier. Their power tools are really neat though. They have drivers that are like our power nut driver sets, but instead of having to change the tool to match the nut or screw or hex fastener, the business end of the driver changes shape to match the job. Really cool! I asked Kara if I could keep it and she said yes. I actually brought home a number of cool tools.

Over the course of several days, I took apart a lot of thingies and doohickeys and whatchamacallits. Where it made sense, one or more of the blondes would be under a console with me unscrewing or unfastening things. And when heavy lifting was required one of them would do it. I call it heavy lifting. To them, not so much. And occasionally, the only way to get to a piece of equipment was to tear out a deck plate or a bulkhead. The blondes excelled at that.

The Shuar prepared meals for us, which Kara would fetch and bring back to the ship. The food was good, but Kara wouldn’t tell me what it was. She said I would be happier not knowing. I took her word for it.

While I was working, I was thinking, a lot, about how many things Kara wouldn’t tell me about. Like her ‘team’ or ‘teams’. And the locations where her teams worked from. I knew Kara trusted me, so it just didn’t make sense that she kept some things secret. At first, I thought that it was compartmentalization, but over the course of time I’d discovered, from talking to Kara, that her other operatives knew about me. Knew a lot about me. And I wondered, what is the difference between them and me? And then, one afternoon when I was looking at the command deck of the fighter, it occurred to me that Major Moore would give her eye teeth to get her hands on this ship. And then I remembered that Kara had not told Major Moore where she was taking me, and hadn’t even told me until after we left, and she insisted I leave my phone at the cabin. And then things started to make sense, but I still wanted to confirm it with Kara.

At night I shared my bed with Kara. That night, of the day I had what I thought was my epiphany, I asked her about it.

“Kara, do you trust me?”

“Of course I do, Joseph. Why would you ask such a question?”

“There are a lot of things you won’t tell me.”

“Is this about my age? You shouldn’t be asking a lady about that!”

“No Kara, it isn’t. It’s about you not telling me about who else works for you, or where they work for you, or what they do for you.”

“There is a very good reason for that Joseph.”

“I think I know the reason, Kara, but I’d like to hear it from you.”

She sat up in bed and was quiet for a moment, then said, “You have conflicting loyalties Joseph. I don’t want to put you in a situation where you have to choose between them.”

“You’re talking about the Army, aren’t you,” I said.

“Yes, Joseph, I am.”

“You don’t want me to have any information you don’t want the Army to have. Because if I was ordered to give it up, I’d have to choose between being loyal to you and going to Leavenworth, or betraying your trust and telling the Army what they want to know.”

“Yes, Joseph, that is it exactly. And Joseph, I’d never let the Army or anyone else send you to prison for being loyal to me.”

“That’s why you didn’t tell me we were coming here until after it was too late to inform Major Moore, and why you didn’t want me to bring anything that could be tracked.”

“Yes, Joseph. Are you disturbed by this?”

“I’m a little disturbed that you didn’t tell me your reasons until now. Otherwise, no, I’m not. I completely understand now why you keep me in the dark about some things and I’m okay with it. Except for your age. I’d really like to know how old you are.”

She laughed at that, then let out enough pheromones to fill the room we were in, rolled me on to my back and mounted me.

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about the amazing creature next to me. She sensed that I was awake, I don’t know how they do that, and reached out and held my hand.

“Having trouble sleeping, Joseph?”

“Not really. But I started thinking about something when I woke up and now, I don’t think I’ll be able to get back to sleep until I figure it out.”

“Anything I can help with?”

“Kara, when we make love, or you just hug me, you feel as soft and warm as any woman I’ve ever touched. But I watched bullets bounce off Xara, and she’s shown me what her vaginal muscles can do to a piece of stone. How can you be that soft, and that hard at the same time?”

“Let me show you, Joseph,” she said.

And she took my hand and pressed it into her breast. It must have sunk in an inch. Maybe more.

“That’s the softest part of my body, Joseph. Hold your hand there.”

She removed her hand from mine, and I continued to press in to her soft, warm, breast. And then, suddenly, it popped back! It went from soft and warm to, well, it still felt smooth and warm, but it wasn’t soft anymore and try as I might, I couldn’t indent her flesh.

“We can soften our bodies. If you shot me, the way I am right now, the bullet might compress my breast an eighth of an inch, but no more. If you shot me while I was soft, it wouldn’t compress any more than it did when you had your hand pressed against it before.

“Now, keep your hand there.”

I did, and she put her index finger next to my hand and pressed on her breast and indented it at least three inches. But when I pressed, I couldn’t budge it.

“What is your natural state. When you’re relaxed and not softening or hardening?” I asked.

“What you feel right now is my natural, relaxed state.”

“Does it take any effort to soften yourself?”

“Not really. Any Vel or Arion who spends any time at all around Terrans or other weak species finds they can do it quite easily, eventually subconsciously.”

“And that happens everywhere? I mean, in your vagina too?”

“Yes, Joseph, inside my vagina too. I’ll show you.”

She released her pheromones again and pulled me on top of her and guided me into her, and she was soft and wet and warm, and it felt wonderful.

While we were making love, she said, “There once was a very evil man, a person who did despicable things to women, and even children. I let him think he was raping me. And then, when I had him where you are now, I simply relaxed back into my natural state. He never molested anyone, ever again.”

And then she gripped me, hard enough that I couldn’t move, but not hard enough to hurt me.

My shock must have shown in my face, because she laughed and said, “Oh Joseph! If you could see the look on your face now!”

And then I heard Sharon and Xara laughing too.

“I’m sorry, Joseph,” she said, “that wasn’t very nice of me. Please continue, it feels very good, and I promise you’ll enjoy the ending.”

I did.

Chapter 150

After a couple of days of hard work, we had everything the blondes deemed worth saving. During my time on the ship, I discovered those storage pods Xara likes so much are ubiquitous. Everything we were taking fit in the pods. Besides various pieces of electronic equipment, which Kara said could be used to locate the source of Arion transmissions, they also took a bunch of these little crystal things, which Kara said were the Arion equivalent of USB thumb drives, only more sophisticated. And in the documentation she looked through she found the codes that, she hoped, could be used to decrypt them.

There were six handheld GARs which we took, and I took several tools. And power cells. Arion power cells have a very long life, a very large capacity, and once you take their shells apart, it isn’t that hard to figure out how to adapt them to whatever you want to power. Kara said Gloria could show me how to calibrate them, to provide just as much power as needed for a task without risking electrocution. I took ten of them. And then there were the tools Kara said I could have.

We loaded everything we were going to take into pods, and then discovered there was enough room for the technical manuals, so we took those too. I wondered why, with all this technology, the Arions bothered with printed manuals. Couldn’t they store and access the information electronically? She said they could, and did, the manuals were a backup, in case the electronic systems were not available. I couldn’t imagine what would cause that. She said extreme battle damage might do it. In any case, the Arions believed in redundancy, and on these ships, they had room for it.

We moved all the pods outside the ship, then the blondes spent the better part of a day moving them to either my cabin or, in the case of most of them, to either Kara’s home or one of her team locations. They rotated so only two of them were gone at a time because they didn’t want to leave me alone in the cave. At the time, I didn’t wonder why. Later, I wondered what could be in the caves that merited having a superwoman there to watch over me.

After all the pods were delivered to whatever location they were going to, Sharon took me back to the cabin, then returned to the cave to help Kara and Xara move the ship. Kara said they were going to throw it into the sun. I suggested that they should screw with the Arions by sending it back towards where it came from. Kara said she thought about that, but then realized that my DNA was all over the inside of the ship and she didn’t want the Arions getting it. Not that they could use it to find me, but it would be proof that Velorians were giving Terrans access to Arion technology, and she didn’t want them to have that.

Chapter 151

My cabin now has the legal status of a Velorian consulate, without being a Velorian consulate.

When I arrived home from my time in the huge cave helping the blondes salvage certain Arion equipment from the captured fighter, I wrote a report for Major Moore. I waited for Kara to approve the report before I sent it off. You can imagine how impatient Major Moore was to get the information, she kept bugging me about it for two days. Finally, I sent it off, and in a few minutes got an acknowledgement back that it had been garbled in transmission. I was puzzling over that when the phone, the one Major Moore and I use for off the book communication, rang.

“Sergeant Ricci, I’m in a secure location for this call. Are you secure enough for a private communication?”

“I am Major, what’s up?”

“The report you submitted has some problems,” she said.

“What would those problems be?” I asked.

“You are in possession of Arion equipment. Tools, GARs, pods and power cells, and you documented that in your report. As your report moves up the chain of command it’s likely going to be read by someone, or maybe several people, who are going to want you to hand that equipment over.”

“Who are we talking about, Major?”

“No one in particular. And maybe no one at all, but I don’t think it’s a chance you want to take.”

“But the Army already knows I have alien equipment here.”

“Yes, but that is covered by the agreement the government made with Kara. This new equipment, salvaged from an Arion vessel, may not be covered by the agreement, depending on who is interpreting it.”

“What should I do, Major?”

“Discuss it with Kara and follow her lead. If she tells you to remove certain parts of your report, I won’t say anything. But if she doesn’t ask you to redact it, and the Army asks for that equipment, understand that my hands are tied. I can’t do anything to help you.”

So I did just that. I asked Kara what she thought I should do. That set off a flurry of activity that ended with an amendment to the agreement that stated that certain designated locations would have all the legal protections of a foreign consulate. My cabin was so designated. I saw the amendment, my cabin and Kara’s home were the only locations specifically mentioned, but others could be added. Kara told me she only wanted to explicitly add locations the government already knew about.

After that amendment was officially agreed to by all parties, a process that took about two weeks, I resent my report to Major Moore.

While all this was going on, life at the cabin returned to normal. Xara would wake me every morning to go for a run, gradually increasing the distance and pace as my fitness improved. I’d spend time studying the Arion and Velorian languages, working on the Bowflex for strength training, and going over logs and passing information back and forth between Kara and Major Moore. There wasn’t a lot of the latter.

My relationship with Xara was … how do I say this … we were getting closer. I really was thinking of us as boyfriend and girlfriend. Over the course of the summer the blondes were visited twice by a Messenger, and I found that I wasn’t jealous at all. Maybe a little envious, that the Messenger could give the blondes something I’d never be able to give them, but not jealous.

Then, one evening, Xara told me she was flying down to California for a night of clubbing with Gloria and Mona. I smiled and said, “Have fun.”, but I felt like I’d just taken a punch to the gut. I knew that meant she’d be having sex, with Terran men. Men who didn’t have any hang-ups about it. I was jealous.

She came in during the night, I knew because I was lying awake in bed thinking about her. In the morning she got me up for my run and didn’t say anything about how her night went. If she noticed that I was bothered by it, she didn’t let on.

That evening, she came out of her room in her flight suit and told me she was going out with Gloria and Mona again. I just nodded. I probably would have had another sleepless night, but I was so tired from being awake the night before that I got a decent night’s sleep.

In the morning, Xara woke me up for our run, and she was bouncing with excitement. She could barely contain herself.

“Xara, what’s got you so excited this morning?” I asked.

She literally floated over to me, wrapped her arms around me and pushed me back down onto the bed, with her on top of me.

“I was going to wait until later to tell you, Joe, but I can’t wait!”

“Okay,” I said, “tell me what?”

“I can safely have sex with you, Joe, without gold.”

“Umm, I’ve heard that before Xara.”

“No, Joe, you don’t understand. I hadn’t had sex with a Terran since my Galen transformation because I wasn’t sure I could do so, safely. But now I know I can!

“The last two nights I’ve been experimenting. The first night I had sex with a Terran wearing gold, and that went well. So last night I tried sex without gold, and Joe, I didn’t hurt him!”

“Umm, okay, I guess.”

“Oh, I tried anal sex, with a crowbar. I’m afraid that’s out Joe.”

“Xara, you do talk to Sharon and Kara about sex with me, don’t you?”

“Of course, I do Joe. We talk about it a lot.”

“Okay, that’s a little too much information. But, umm, have either one of them told you I’ve ever wanted to have anal sex?”

“Well, no, they haven’t. But sex with them isn’t like sex will be with me.”

“What do you mean, Xara?”

“Joe, you don’t have any choices with mom and Sharon. They decide who is going to be on top, or in front or behind. They decide how much foreplay there will be. They decide when and how many times you’re going to have sex with them. If you’re the least bit uncooperative they hit you with their pheromones.

“I’m not going to dominate you, Joe. I mean, I am, but it won’t be like they do. You’ll get to tell me what you like, and I’ll do my best to make you happy.”

“Okay, Xara. Umm, I have absolutely no interest in anal sex.”

“Then we’ll never have anal sex!” She replied. “See, you get to tell me what you like and don’t like, and I’ll listen.”

“I’m wondering about that crowbar now.”

“Stay here,” she said.

She left and quickly returned with a mangled crowbar. The business end was all smushed up, and it was deformed where she’d gripped it with her hand.

“Talk about a being a tight ass,” said Dixon.

Johnson nearly fell down laughing at that.

“Are they here Joe?” Xara asked.

“What?”

“Dixon and Johnson. Are they here? You’ve got that look on your face you get when you aren’t happy with them.”

Johnson stopped laughing and all three of us just looked at her.

“It’s okay, Joe,” she said. “I don’t mind.”

I didn’t know what to say to her.

“I don’t know what to say to you Xara.”

“Are they here?”

“Yes, they are.”

“You can talk to me about them, or not. It’s up to you Joe. I won’t pressure you or use my trust pheromones to make you talk about them.”

“Right now, Xara, I don’t want to talk about them.”

“Then we won’t,” she said. “Let’s go for our run.”

During the run she talked about going back to school and her Fall class schedule. She was debating driving to school and paying for a parking permit or flying back and forth. She’d found a place on Sehome Hill where she could take off and land without being observed, and she’d found a boulder she could hide her flight suit under. In the end she decided to buy the parking permit and drive.

As was our usual routine, she made breakfast for us while I showered and shaved. During our run, I was listening to her, but I was also thinking about this business of dominating me. So I decided to ask her about it.

“Xara, this morning, you said that you were going to dominate me. What does that mean?”

“Joe, don’t you think mom and Sharon dominate you in bed?”

“I’ve never thought about it that way. But I suppose you’re right. But why put it that way? They never have.”

“They would if you asked them about it.”

I was quiet for a while. She must have taken that to mean I needed further explanation, which was true.

“Joe, even the lowest class Velorian is smarter, stronger, and faster than a Terran. Protector Class Velorians are much more powerful than ordinary Velorians.

“The Galen are more powerful still. So much so that the Velorians and Arions regard the Galen as deities. And Joe, despite mom and Sharon’s hesitance to admit it, I’m more Galen now than I am Velorian.

“Do you remember that I told you the first Messenger I was with after my transformation was afraid of me?”

I nodded.

“He could tell I was stronger than him. Much stronger. And you remember how we’ve described sexual combat with an Arion Prime, we use sex to drain their Orgone?”

“Yes, I remember that.”

“Well, with mom, when she does that, it is a fight to the death, to see who can use the sexual frenzy to gain the upper hand and drain the other’s Orgone. For her, it’s a life-or-death struggle.

“For me, it wasn’t a struggle at all. Mom said the Arion looked like a rag doll with an erection. That’s a pretty good description of my experience. Joe, there was no doubt in my mind that he was helpless under me, and that was a real turn on. And as I drained him, the thought crossed my mind that he should feel honored to die for the pleasure of his Goddess.”

I was shocked. I just stared at her. Finally, she broke the silence.

“I know how that comes across to you Joe. It makes me sound like a megalomaniac. I don’t feel that way now, but that’s how I felt while I was fucking him to death.

“My point, Joe, is that the differences between us are so vast, that I may as well be a Goddess compared to you. So yes, I am going to be the dominant one in our relationship. I already am, you just don’t fully realize it yet. But I also respect you, and I will treat you with all the respect you deserve, and you deserve a lot.”

“We’re talking about more than sex now, aren’t we Xara.”

“Yes Joe, we are. Don’t let it concern you. I’ll never give you a reason to regret being with me. I’ll never give you a reason to resent the power imbalance in our relationship.”

After breakfast I went down to the lair. I was about an hour into my language study when the alarms started going off. I checked the cameras and saw two trucks coming down the road. One of them backed into my driveway and the other pulled in behind it. I heard Xara yell down, “I’ll get it,” and then the doorbell rang. I went upstairs to see what was going on. It was the bed. The guys, there were four of them, arrived to put together the bed Kara had ordered for me.

I went up to the guy who seemed to be in charge and said, “It would have been nice to get a call letting me know you were coming today.”

Xara said, “It’s okay, Joe, mom had them call me.”

“Xara,” I said, “you’re going to have to work a little harder on those regret and resentment things.”

She just laughed and showed the guys to my bedroom. I followed them in to see that Xara had already stripped the bed. They took the old bed, mattresses, box spring, headboard, all of it out front. Then they brought in the new bed frame.

When Kara said I was getting a heavy-duty bed, I envisioned an oak frame with industrial strength fasteners. What I got was a titanium frame. The headboard was maple, it looked nice, it went well with the walls and ceiling. It had little cubbies in it and reading lights.

My bedroom is large, which is a good thing, because the new bed was a California King. It came with a mattress, box springs, mattress pads, sheets, pillows and pillowcases, and a nice comforter. The crew even made the bed up for us. They gave Xara some paperwork to sign, then they loaded the old bed into one of their trucks and left.

“Xara, why did your mom order such a huge bed?” My old bed was a double bed.

She smiled mischievously and said, “Because you have three Kiraling mates.”

“Actually, Xara, I have four.”

“Yes. Well, we don’t expect Skar-El to be sharing a bed with you.”

She giggled, then picked me up and floated us both onto the bed.

“Comfortable?” She asked.

“Yes,” I said, “it’s pretty nice.”

As she floated off the bed and out of the room, she looked over her shoulder and said, “Anytime you want to try it out, Joe, just let me know.”

Johnson said, “Dude! You’ve got to try it out with her now!”

I ignored him and went back to the lair.

Chapter 152

At dinner, Xara said, “Joe, I want to show you my new mental abilities. Are you up for it?”

“Xara, I have no idea what that means, so, yeah, I guess I’m up for it.”

We finished dinner and did the dishes, then sat down on the couch. She turned towards me, put her arms around me and said, “Close your eyes. This is how I feel about you.”

I closed my eyes, and then I found myself in a large, dark space. While I looked around, a light appeared, like the sun, but it didn’t hurt my eyes. I began to feel warm and safe and surrounded by love. It was like at her prom, but more intense. As I looked around, and things came into better focus, I saw that she was the source of the light and the warmth that surrounded me. She was smiling at me, and her arms were open and inviting and I ran to her and put my arms around her, and I felt the intensity of her love. At first it was almost too intense for me. And then it became more intense, and then it was too intense for me, and I heard Xara say, softly and lovingly, “We’re coming down now Joe, you’ll be alright.”

And then all I felt was Xara’s arms around me and I opened my eyes to see her smiling at me. We were back in the cabin, though I guess we never left.

“I could have shown you more, Joe, and I wanted to, but I would have overwhelmed you, and we don’t want that.”

“Okay.” It was all I could get out.

She pulled my head down to her breast and said, “Rest here for a while, there is something more I’d like to do.”

After about five minutes she put her finger under my chin and lifted my head up. “Are you okay, Joe?”

“Yes, I am. Xara, that was, … wow. That’s how you feel about me?”

“Yes, it.”

“Xara, I’m not worthy of that.”

“Oh, but you are Joe, you are worthy of my love and so much more.

“Now, Joe, I would like to get to know you a little better, is that okay?”

“I guess, Xara, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”

“I want to connect with you in a very intimate way, to learn more about you. Will you let me?”

The way I was feeling right then, I would have let her slice me open with a scalpel if that is what she wanted. If only I’d known.

“Yes, Xara, I’ll let you.”

She put her arms around me again and said, “Okay, close your eyes.”

I did. And then, it was like I was reliving my life. I saw myself in school, and family vacations, all this was like seeing it in the first person, not watching myself, but experiencing it again.

I lived through high school and my prom, and then joining the army, and then, my first deployment. I and relived the pain of the wounds I suffered. And the news of my parents’ deaths and the pain that caused me, and then my second and third deployments and all the missions and fire fights and losing Dixon and Johnson. And it was horrible. I became aware of a sound. Someone somewhere was wailing and crying. It became louder, and then I was back in the cabin, on the couch, and the wailing and crying was coming from me, and from Xara.

I was trembling and crying, and I wanted a drink so bad. And Xara was trembling and crying too and hanging on to me so tightly I almost couldn’t breathe.

“Xara, let go of me! Xara!”

She became aware of where she was and let go. And I jumped up and away from her and I shouted at her, “Why did you do that to me? Why would you want me to feel all that again?”

And it wasn’t just me yelling at her. Dixon and Johnson were yelling at her too.

I turned away from her and ran out the door and started running down the road as fast as I could, trying to get away from the pain, trying to get away from the memories, trying to get away from Xara. Dixon and Johnson were with me every step of the way.

And then, I felt arms around me, and Xara scooped me up and flew us back to the cabin. I was trying to fight her the entire time, pounding at her with my fists, trying to push away, yelling at her to let me go and get away from me. She wouldn’t let me go. All I accomplished was bruised hands.

She got us back into the cabin, and then I was in that place of light and warmth and love again, and I was able to get control of myself. I was still crying, and Xara was standing before me, all light and warmth and love, and she was crying too and telling me how sorry she was and that she didn’t know how bad it was going to be.

And then we were back in the cabin, and we were in each other’s arms, still crying, and I asked her, “Xara, as screwed up as I am, why didn’t you think that would be a very bad experience for me?”

“I’m so sorry, Joe. I, I, I haven’t tried this before with a Terran. With mom and Sharon, I didn’t go deep at all, I stayed on the surface. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please forgive me.”

“Xara, please, promise me you’ll never do this to me again.”

“I won’t Joe, I promise, never again. I’m so sorry. Can you forgive me Joe?”

“I need some space.”

Could I forgive her for this? I didn’t know.

She sniffled and said, in a very meek voice, “Okay.”

I got up and went to my car and started driving. Nowhere in particular. I just had to get away. Unfortunately, what I was trying to get away from was in me. After a few hours of driving around, well after sunset, I got back to the cabin.

When I walked in the door I was suddenly surrounded by blondes and brunettes, being lifted off my feet and hugged and being carried to the couch. Kara and Sharon were there, with Gloria and Mona. Xara was standing in the kitchen, looking very chastised.

“Joseph,” said Kara, “we’re all here for you. Xara told us what she did. We’re going to take care of you and stay with you as long as you need us.”

I didn’t know what to say to her. One of them had just made me relive the worst years of my life.

“Joe,” said Gloria, “I would like to examine you. Do you give me permission to do so?”

Gloria, asking permission? That was new. I nodded.

She had me take off my shirt and she gave me a physical examination. I don’t know what she expected to find. Reliving getting shot at and wounded in my head didn’t actually result in any bullet holes in me. Then she had me put on her helmet brain scanner thingy and attached some leads and looked at a monitor for a few minutes then compare it to an earlier recording.

“He hasn’t suffered any new brain trauma,” she said. “The emotional toll may be very bad, but it isn’t physical.”

“Joe,” she said to me, “I know you have been through a very painful experience. I think it will be less painful over time. I am not recommending you go back on your meds at this time, but I would like to move back into the cabin for a while to observe you. Will you let me do that Joe?”

“Shit, Gloria,” I said, “You’re scaring me. This is the second time in less than an hour you’ve asked my permission for something. Am I dying?”

That got everyone laughing, including Xara. Even Dixon and Johnson, who had been shooting daggers out of their eyes at Xara.

That night I went to bed with Kara. There was no sex, I wasn’t in the mood for it, and Kara, thankfully, sensed that and didn’t try to force it with her pheromones.

In the morning, when I woke up, Sharon was in bed with me.

“What happened to Kara?”

“She had a meeting she couldn’t get out of. How are you feeling?”

“Tired. And angry.”

“If it’s any consolation to you, Joe, Xara experienced the same thing you did, and it was very painful for her too.”

“Painful isn’t a strong enough word to describe it, Sharon.”

“I suppose not,” she said. “But she did experience it with you, and she understands what it did to you.”

“She understands. Is that supposed to make it better?”

“No,” she answered, “it just means that you don’t have to recover from this alone, she can help you through it.”

“She caused it.”

“I know.

“Would you like to try a little sexual healing?”

“That seems to be your answer for just about everything, Sharon.”

“That’s because it’s a very good answer Joe.”

“Well, thank you for the offer Sharon. I think I’ll pass.”

“I don’t hear that very often, Joe. Okay.”

“I’m going for a run.”

“Would you like some company?”

“No.”

I left the cabin and started running. After about two minutes I heard footsteps behind me. I didn’t look back; I didn’t want to know who it was. Specifically, I didn’t want to know if it was Xara. Shortly after first hearing them, Gloria came up on my right side and Mona on my left.

“Is it okay if we run with you Joe?” asked Gloria.

“Why, do you need the exercise?” I asked.

“No,” she said, “but it is a nice day to go for a run.”

“Yeah,” I said, “it is nice. You can run with me.”

Gloria and Mona have one positive characteristic that the blondes don’t: If they don’t have anything to say, they don’t say anything. So we ran in silence. For a long time. Finally, Gloria broke the silence.

“Joe, you should turn back now. As it is you are going to be exhausted.”

“That’s the point,” I said, and turned back.

When we got back to my road, I began slowing down, eventually to a walk, then a hundred feet or so from my property I walked into the grass and laid down on my back. Gloria and Mona followed suit, one on each side of me.

“Thank you, ladies,” I said.

“You’re welcome,” said Gloria.

“Anytime,” said Mona.

After a while I said, “Xara thinks she’s a goddess.”

Mona said, “Don’t they all?”

Gloria said, “I think you may have convinced her otherwise.”

Mona said, “If not, Kara and Sharon are working on teaching her some humility.”

“Yes,” said Gloria. “As we were leaving, she was talking to Sharon. I distinctly heard her refer to herself as an idiot.”

“Good,” I said.

For the rest of the day the blondes kept their distance. I think Kara and Sharon felt partially responsible for what Xara did to me. But the Arions, they stayed with me all day. They didn’t try to engage me in conversation, or try to help me with any tasks, they were just there. There for me, and I appreciated it. They were a calming influence. At least that day.

That night, the nightmares returned. I had elected to sleep alone, which seemed to worry Kara and Sharon a little. I don’t think either of them had ever experienced a man turning down their offer to share his bed with them.

That night my dreams were a jumbled confusion of the action I’d seen over three deployments. Unlike the real thing though, I couldn’t make my weapon work. It was like the trigger was jammed; I couldn’t budge it. And at the end, I was trying to save Johnson and Dixon and they were screaming for my help, and I couldn’t fire my weapon or make my legs work to run to them.

I woke up screaming and crying in Gloria’s arms. There was a foul odor, and I realized I had shit and pissed myself. All the ladies were there, all of them naked, because that’s how they sleep. Gloria picked me up and carried me to the shower and cleaned me off. When I got back to my bedroom, I saw that the bed had been stripped and remade. I hesitated, and Sharon said the mattress pad had kept anything from leaking through to the mattress.

I didn’t want to get back into bed. I didn’t want to go back to the nightmares.

“Joe,” said Gloria, “you need your rest. I’m going to give you something to help you sleep.” And she went to her bag and got out a vial and syringe.

“This is a mild sedative, Joe.” And she gave me a shot.

I got back into bed and was still trembling and shaking from the dream. Gloria saw that and got into bed with me and put her arm around me and said, “If the dreams come back, I’ll wake you.”

They did come back, and she did wake me. And then the sedative really kicked in, I think she gave me another shot, I’m not sure, and I slept a dreamless sleep for the rest of the night and late into the next morning.

Gloria was still with me when I woke up.

“What time is it?” I asked.

“10,” she answered. “How was your sleep?”

“Pretty good. If I had any dreams, I don’t remember them.”

“After you woke from the second nightmare, I gave you another shot of the sedative. You slept peacefully after that.

“Get dressed, you have a visitor.”

She left the room without telling me who my visitor was.

I dressed and came out of my room and found that Army psychologist in my living room, a Colonel, the same one I saw at Walter Reed and in Switzerland, talking to all the ladies.

“Come in Sergeant Ricci,” she said. “Your friends have been bringing me up to speed.”

I started to walk into the room, then saw Xara looking at me, and I hesitated. She stood up and said, “I’ll leave.” The psychologist said, “No, I need you here. Please sit down.” She did.

“Please Sergeant Ricci, come in.” I came in and sat down across from her.

“Your friends have explained to me what happened. I had Xara take me through the same experience you went through ...”

She saw my alarm and quickly added, “… she said she kept it at a very shallow level, she didn’t, as she termed it, go deep, like she did with you. I assure you that I am fine. I needed her to do this so I could understand what you have been through.”

I sat down. Before she could continue, I looked at Xara and asked, “Is it affecting you the same way it’s affecting me?”

“No,” she answered, “our genetics protects us.”

The psychologist looked puzzled, so Kara jumped in.

“Velorian Protectors are genetically bred with built in mental safeguards. We can experience events just as painfully as Terrans, but we get over any trauma very quickly. PTSD is not an issue for us.”

“And regret and remorse?” The psychologist asked.

“We do feel those,” answered Kara.

“Sergeant Ricci,” the psychologist asked me, “can you see that Xara is feeling guilt, regret and remorse?”

I looked at Xara. She looked back at me like a beat puppy.

“I can see she feels bad,” I said. “How bad, I don’t know.”

“Very bad,” said Xara. It was almost a whisper.

“What are your feelings, about what she did?”

“Colonel,” I said, “she found every bad day I ever had in Iraq and Afghanistan and made me live it over again. Why would a friend do that? It’s taken me years to get to a point where I can function almost like a normal human being.”

“Xara, would you care to answer Sergeant Ricci?”

“Joe, I didn’t understand how doing that would affect you, would affect us. I didn’t know it would be so, so real, so visceral. Joe, I’m so sorry.”

“Xara, didn’t you know how horrible those experiences were for me? Haven’t you seen how they affected me?”

“I didn’t understand Joe, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know they would be, … traumatic again, like that. When I was in there with you, seeing and feeling everything you saw and felt, I didn’t know it would stay with you, stay with us, afterward.”

“It’s staying with you?” I asked.

“Not like it is for you, Joe. Mom’s right about that.”

The colonel said, “Xara, please describe what it was like, what it is like for you.”

She took a deep breath, and said, “I felt everything Joe felt, as he felt it. I felt the burns, I felt the explosions. I felt the bullet strikes. I’d never felt pain like that, ever. I felt the fear he was feeling, and I’d never felt fear like that before.

“Joe, I felt your shame in losing your comrades. I felt the emotional pain of losing your parents. I felt the loneliness and isolation you felt while trying to recover, and I now know that you still feel those things. I felt your hopelessness, and I felt the draw of suicide, to end the pain. I felt all that Joe, and I’m so deeply sorry I made you feel it again.

“But Joe, I also felt the hope you gained from knowing us, and the realization that you are worth a lot to us.”

“Sergeant Ricci, do you believe Xara when she says she felt your pain and all your emotions?”

“I do,” I answered, “I know she felt them, we were feeling them together and I could feel her reactions as well as my own.”

“Sergeant,” said the Colonel, “I think if you let yourself get there, you’ll find that Xara is the one person, who isn’t a veteran, who can understand and appreciate what you’ve gone through. I think you should give her the opportunity to be that person for you. But that’s up to you.

“What I am most concerned about now is getting you through this trauma and back to something more normal. Kara has put restrictions on who I can share this information with, but I think I can put together a report that will meet her approval, that I can send to a psychiatrist who can prescribe some medications for you.”

“What’s wrong with the medications I have,” I asked.

“They are too strong and have too many side effects. You need a medical intervention, but something more appropriate.”

Gloria spoke up. “I am a licensed MD in this state. I can prescribe medications for him.”

“Alright,” said the Colonel, “I believe he just needs something to help him sleep, to stave off the nightmares and let him sleep.”

Then Gloria told her what she had given me the night before, and they talked medical mumbo jumbo for a while, and then the Colonel said I was in good hands.

Kara said, “Thank you Colonel Babbitt. Sharon will take you home now.”

“I wish,” said the Colonel, “I could talk about this to my friends. Those ‘pod’ rides you guys give are amazing.”

Sharon left with the Colonel. Everyone else in the room was looking at me, except for Dixon and Johnson. They were glaring at Xara.

“Xara, I don’t remember reliving being kidnapped and tortured by Josh.”

“I stopped before we got there,” she said, “losing Dixon and Johnson was too overwhelming. It was too painful for me to continue. We didn’t experience the IED explosion, or the RPG attack on the helicopter you were in because I stopped before we got there.”

“So you didn’t experience my time in the hospital, at Walter Reed, or the surgeries after that.”

“No,” she said, “I had to stop. I wasn’t strong enough to continue.”

“Well,” I said, “so much for being a goddess.”

At that, she broke into tears and rushed across the room and threw her arms around me and held on tight, almost too tight, for a good five minutes. Part of me wanted to push her away. The other part of me wanted to console her. The others in the room looked on, I could see the sympathy on their faces. Hell, even Dixon and Johnson felt bad for her.

After about a minute, I put my arms around her and hugged her tightly. After five minutes, Kara spoke up.

“Xara, what have you learned?”

“I’ve learned,” she said, “that Terrans are stronger than I thought, that I had no idea how much physical and emotional pain they can endure, and that doing so carries a terrible price for them.”

“Anything else?” Kara asked.

Xara answered, “I’ve learned that I have to respect the Terran condition, the human condition, that using my new powers on them has consequences. And those consequences can be awful.

“And though I have the strength and powers of a goddess, I don’t have the wisdom.

“Joe, will you help me become wise?”

“Xara, I don’t know if I can teach you something I don’t have.”

“You have wisdom, Joe. I saw it.”

She said she has the strength and powers of a goddess but lacks wisdom. Does that mean she still thinks she’s a goddess?

“Do you still think you’re a goddess, Xara?”

“I think I could be, if you and mom and Sharon help me.”

I’ll take it.

I decided to go for a run and Xara asked if she could come with me. I said she could and off we went. We’d only gone a quarter of a mile when we were joined by Gloria and Mona.

“What are you guys doing here?” Asked Xara.

“Kara sent us,” replied Gloria.

“You’re spying on me!” Accused Xara.

“We’re spying on both of you,” said Mona.

While I was huffing and puffing along the ladies carried on a conversation. About me. Xara asked Gloria about the medication she was going to give me, what its side effects were, that kind of thing.

Then she said, “I think I can do better than that.”

“How?” Asked Gloria.

“I can make a connection with him and when the bad dreams start, I can intervene.”

“Interesting,” said Gloria. “How would this work?”

“Well, after he fall asleep, I’ll get into bed with him and connect and monitor his dreams. If one starts turning into a nightmare, I can try to redirect the dream, and if that doesn’t work, I can wake him up before it gets too bad.”

I stopped running.

“Xara! Didn’t you just learn that making connections like that can go very wrong?!!”

“Oh, Joe, I’m talking about a different kind of connection, where I just monitor what is going on. It’s a surface kind of thing, like I did with that psychologist.”

“Gloria, help me out, please!”

“I think it is worth a try. I will have Xara try it on me and if it works the way she says, then we can try it on you. With your permission.”

“Joe, this would be less like the deep dive and more like the love connection we made,” said Xara.

“Love connection?” Asked Mona. “Isn’t that a TV show?”

Xara started to explain it to Gloria and Mona. I started running again. In seconds they caught up to me and carried on the conversation for the rest of the run. By the time we got back to the cabin Mona and Gloria both wanted to experience what Xara called the ‘surface connection’.

As I was heading to the shower Gloria punctuated their conversation by telling Xara, “If it does not work, I am not cleaning the piss and shit off him again. You are.”

I was in the shower for about two minutes when I was joined by Sharon and Kara, and I was immediately inundated with the beautiful odor of honey and wildflowers. And then Johnson and Dixon were there. How they made it work is a mystery. There is no way five people can fit in that shower. I think at least one of the ladies must have been floating above the floor, because I distinctly remember reaching up above my head to massage a pair of breasts.

I don’t know if they had any orgasms. I do know that I had a lot, more than I’d ever had before in a single session with one of them. We were in there a long time, long enough to drain all the hot water. When the temperature of the water started going down the ladies stopped to rinse me off, then turned off the water. One of them stepped out of the shower and turned on the exhaust fan. I always turn it on before I step into the shower, they must have turned it off to keep their pheromones concentrated.

They dried each other off with their heat vision, then they dried me off. Then one of them, Sharon, I think, picked me up and carried me into my bedroom, where Xara was waiting for me in my bed. I was exhausted, and I think I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow.

I was in a fire fight. In an urban area, I’m not sure which one, but it was a house-to-house thing. I could hear someone yelling for a medic, and I was bleeding from a wound to my right leg. Not much blood, it must have been a minor wound, though it did hurt. I was against the outer wall of a building, next to a garden. I crawled forward to see what was around the corner and there, standing in front of me, was Xara.

“Joe, this isn’t real, it’s a dream,” she said.

There were bullets flying everywhere. But Xara didn’t get hit.

“Xara! Get down!” I yelled at her.

She knelt in front of me, reached out and held my face in her hands, and suddenly I was in that beautiful place lit by the sun that was her love for me. I wasn’t hurt, or bleeding. And I wasn’t afraid. She pulled me into her warm embrace and said, “It’s alright Joe, you can go to sleep now.” And I did.

When I woke up, I was alone in bed. I could smell food cooking. I checked my clock, it was 6 pm. I got up and dressed and went into the kitchen where Gloria was making spaghetti. Mona was preparing a salad.

“Did you sleep well?” Gloria asked.

“Yes, I did,” I answered. I looked around. “Where’s Xara? I thought she was in bed with me, but she wasn’t there when I woke up.”

“She went to the store. You are out of chocolate chips. I’m going to bake cookies tonight.”

I walked into the living room where Sharon and Kara were having a discussion, I don’t know about what.

“You guys ambushed me,” I said.

“Are you complaining?” Asked Sharon.

“You seemed to enjoy it,” said Kara.

“You wouldn’t have let Xara try making a connection to calm you dreams if we didn’t,” said Sharon.

“A natural intervention can often be preferable to using drugs,” said Kara.

“What in the world is natural about one person literally getting inside the head of another person?” I asked.

“Joseph,” asked Kara, “did it work?”

“Yes,” I admitted, “it did.”

“How do you feel?” Asked Kara.

“I feel very good,” I replied.

“I’m glad you feel better, Joseph,” said Kara. “Gloria and Mona will stay with you until she can confirm you are out of the woods.”

“Who’s going to work on Xara?” I asked.

Sharon and Kara looked at each other, then Kara said, “You are Joseph. I know this experience was very hard on you, but it was hard on Xara too, once she understood how much she hurt you.”

“I think you overestimate how much influence I have on her,” I said.

“No, Joseph,” said Kara. “You underestimate your influence on her.”

“Kara’s right,” said Sharon. “She values your opinion very highly.”

“She just told me, the other day, that she’s going to be the dominate one in our relationship, because, in her opinion, she’s a goddess, or nearly so.”

“Well of course she’s going to dominate, Joseph, she’s a Velorian, maybe even a Galen.”

“Joe,” Sharon said, “that’s only a problem if she makes you feel like you are beneath her. I don’t think she will ever do that.”

“No,” said Kara, “I don’t think she will either. If she learned anything from watching me and Eric, it’s what can go wrong if you make the man you love feel belittled and, and less than a man.”

And then Kara was quiet for a while. Sharon motioned for me to stop talking, so I went back into the kitchen to see how dinner was progressing. Gloria had found my mother’s recipe for spaghetti sauce, so I knew it would be a good dinner.

When Xara returned, we sat down to dinner. Xara sat next to me and put her hand on my knee. And in that moment my body almost went limp. It was the same thing that happened to me in high school, when my first girl friend sat down next to me in the cafeteria and put her hand on my knee.

Xara pulled her hand back and said, “I’m sorry Joe …”

I cut her off and said, “It’s okay Xara, you didn’t do anything wrong,” and put her hand back on my knee. It felt so good to have it there.

Dixon and Johnson both rolled their eyes at me at the same time. Johnson said, “Ricci, make up your fucking mind! Are you mad at her or not? Do you lover her or hate her?”

I tried to ignore them, but the questions nagged at me. Xara was sincerely contrite about what she had done, and I knew she had no ill intent.

I looked up and saw that all the other ladies were looking at us and smiling.

“Sharon,” said Kara, “I think it’s safe to leave them under Gloria’s watchful eye. We can leave after supper.”

To which Gloria replied, “No! I’m baking cookies after supper. You can leave after you have your dessert!”

Sharon said, “I guess we’re staying for dessert, Kara.”

Gloria made five dozen chocolate chip cookies. I ate four of them. That left 56. I didn’t count who ate how many, but the ladies finished them off. That’s like, 11 cookies each. On top of a big spaghetti dinner. Dixon and Johnson started calculating how long that money in the duffel bags would last if I had to buy the groceries for all of them, all the time.

After finishing off the cookies, Sharon and Kara left. Gloria said, “Mona and I are going out to get laid. Would you two like to come?”

Xara’s eyes got huge.

“It’s a new thing with them,” I said. “Gloria, not tonight.”

“You’ve been going out with them to have sex?” Xara asked. Loudly.

“No,” said Mona, “Joe doesn’t have sex when we go out.”

“I’ve only been out with them once, and no one had any sex that night,” I said.

“That is correct,” said Gloria. “He has yet to prove himself as a wingman.”

Gloria said that with all sincerity. It was everything I could do to keep a straight face.

After the Arions left, Xara turned to me and asked me if I was tired. Remember, I had slept until 6 that evening, so I said no, I wasn’t tired.

“Would you like to go flying Joe?”

“Sure!”

I put on my motorcycle suit with the helmet, she changed into her flight suit and off we went. We flew north, very high, I would have been freezing without the suit, and over the city of Vancouver. The lights were beautiful.

“Joe, have you ever been to the zoo up here?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Wanna go?”

“Will it still be open, Xara?”

“No, we’ll have the place to ourselves.”

Well, almost to ourselves. We landed in a part of the zoo where their tiger lives. Xara assured me that she could keep me safe, and I believed her. She located the tiger and we were walking towards it when we were lit from behind by a flashlight.

“Hey, what are you doing here!”

In a flash Xara picked me up and we zoomed straight up, really fast, if she hadn’t been bracing my neck, I think I would have been hurt. And then she started laughing, and I started laughing, and we flew back to Bellingham, with a stop on the summit of Mt. Baker on the way. Couldn’t stay too long though, it was cold.

“Next time we go to the zoo, bring your camera, Joe.”

Juanita had been assaulted. In her own neighborhood, in broad daylight. Two thugs, gang members, had jumped out of a car and attempted to kidnap her. She fought as hard as she could and managed to get away. She called Miguel, who took her to Janelle, who treated her injuries.

Janelle was very gentle with Juanita, speaking to her in soothing tones as she treated her for a split lip, a black eye that was badly swollen and several scrapes. Neither Juanita nor Miguel could tell that she was seething inside.

She asked Juanita to tell her exactly what happened and used her interrogation techniques to elicit more information. By the time she was finished, she knew which gang was responsible for this attack.

Orders be damned, Juanita was under Janelle’s protection, which meant that she was under the protection of the Empire, and she was not going to allow an attack against a subject of the Empire to go unpunished. And for Janelle, it was more than political. It was personal. Juanita had been very kind to her. Miguel and Juanita’s children called her Aunt Janelle and she loved them as much as any Arion could love a Terran child.

She’d warned the gangs to stay away from that neighborhood. She’d drawn a circle around it on a map for them. If she were just making a political statement, she’d kill a few gang members and warn them, again, to stay away. But the personal aspect demanded much more. She was going to kill many gang members, and she wasn’t going to be subtle about it. If Near Earth Command had a problem with that they could come here and tell her to her face.

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