Kiraling – Part 32 (Chapter 264-271)
Written by anonxyzus :: [Friday, 20 October 2023 21:02] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 21 October 2023 18:02]
Well, Deb did cause some friction. But it wasn’t between me and Xara. It was between Xara and her mother, and a little bit between Xara and Sharon.
I spend a lot of time with the blondes. Much of that with Xara, of course. Kara visits frequently as does Sharon. Usually, when the blondes are together, the atmosphere is very harmonious. But during the first week in December, I started noticing that there was tension between Xara and Kara, and between Xara and Sharon. And sometimes, when the three were together, you could cut the tension with a knife.
They didn’t argue or fight in front of me, but I was pretty sure that something was going on between them when I wasn’t around to witness it. Xara destroyed three iPhones in a week. I found their crushed remains in the trash.
I asked Xara what was going on, but she played dumb.
“Nothing is going on Joe. Everything is fine. Stop asking about it!”
Well, maybe not so dumb. And she snapped at me. Xara never snaps at me.
Gloria and Mona were still living with us, for no other reason than they both had boyfriends who lived in the area, so I asked Gloria.
“You should really ask your wife,” she said.
“I did. She told me to stop asking.”
Gloria sighed and said, “It’s Deb’s fault.”
“Okay. What did Deb do?”
“She got Xara thinking about enhancing you again and now she is fighting with Kara and Sharon over it.”
“I thought they all agreed I was unsuitable for enhancement.”
“Kara and Sharon always agreed on that more than Xara. She’s wanted to enhance you from the very beginning of your relationship with her, but accepted Kara and Sharon’s guidance on it.”
“Why is it important to her?”
“It’s important to her because she loves you. Because you saved her life, and because she wants to share with you a part of herself, a part of her power.
“And it’s important to her because you’ve had several close calls since she’s fallen in love with you and wants you to be stronger and less fragile.”
“Would it really make that much difference?”
“Joe, imagine never getting sick again. Imagine being able to deflect bullets. Imagine being able to lift a car. It makes a very big difference.”
“And that’s what would make me dangerous if I lost control of my PTSD. Or if I started drinking again.”
“I’m not sure how much alcohol would affect you. The results of enhancement are unpredictable.”
After talking to Gloria, I made reservations for dinner at a nice restaurant that was very conducive to private conversations.
We sat down for dinner and the waiter brought us our menus.
“So, what is the occasion for going out?” Xara asked me.
“You’ve been fighting with your mom and Sharon, and when I asked you about it you snapped at me and wouldn’t tell me why. So I asked Gloria.
“Xara, I want you to stop fighting with your mom over enhancing me. It isn’t worth the stress on your relationship.”
“You only say that because you don’t know what enhancement can do for you.”
“Gloria explained it to me, Xara, and it sounds great. But we both know that sometimes, mentally, I’m hanging on by a thread.” Dixon and Johnson, who were standing behind Xara, nodded their heads in agreement.
“Joe, think about being like Mona. You would never get sick. Bullets would bounce off you. You’d have the strength of many men.”
“It sounds tempting, Xara, but I think we need to trust your mom on this. And Gloria has said the results are unpredictable. You have too. I might get nothing from it. And Xara, don’t I get a say?”
“You do, Joe. If it is offered to you, you have the right to turn it down. But right now, I can’t give you that choice because mom doesn’t consent to me offering it to you.”
“Your mom gets to decide?”
“She’s the Protector in charge of this planet.”
“But you’re my wife.”
“Mom would never forgive me if I offered you enhancement behind her back.”
“What if you offered and I said no?”
“I won’t offer it if I think you’ll say no.”
“Then stop fighting with your mom and Sharon about it. Okay?”
She sighed and said, “Okay.”
“And Xara, don’t snap at me. Tell me when something is wrong. Don’t wait for me to find out when I take out the trash.”
“Take out the trash?”
“Your phones. They really should be recycled, Xara.”
She nodded and was quiet for a minute.
“You’re still thinking about it, thinking about enhancing me.”
“I am, Joe. It would make you so much more … less fragile.”
“Let it go. Trust your mother and let it go.”
“I keep thinking about it, Joe.”
“Xara, do you know how I avoid drinking?”
“You just …”
“I avoid drinking by avoiding drinking. It’s that simple.”
“Are there times when you want to drink?”
“When the dark times come, when I remember the war. The battles, the fear. The friends I lost. But those times come less often now, because of you.”
“Why are you telling me this?” she asked.
“Xara, don’t tempt me with enhancement. Don’t dwell on it, don’t think about it.”
“Ignore it and it will go away?”
“No, it never goes away. But it’s easier to deal with if you don’t feed it.”
Yeah, I know. We’re talking about two different things here. But it worked. It was a good conversation over a good dinner. Xara still wants to enhance me, but she isn’t fighting with her mom over it, which made me very happy. My mom didn’t get along with her parents and that made it more difficult for me to spend time with them, I don’t want daughter-mother animosity getting in the way of my relationship with my mother-in-law.
Did Xara, then and there, drop the idea of enhancing me? No, she didn’t. She stopped arguing with her mom and Sharon over it, but she didn’t drop it. She was only changing directions. She decided to convince me to ask for enhancement.
She tried to use my dreams to convince me. When I’d have nightmares, instead of redirecting my dreams, taking me somewhere else, she turned me into the hero instead. Bullets would be flying everywhere and instead of keeping my head down, I’d stand up and expose myself, and the enemy would fire at me and the bullets would bounce off, and I’d be unharmed.
At first, I didn’t understand that it was Xara who was turning my dreams in that direction. Because that’s not how she handled it before. Before, when the nightmare started, she’d come to me, take me by the hand, and we’d be walking through a meadow, or hiking in the woods, completely away from the war zone.
So this was different. But I figured it out one night. Because one night I was dreaming about that last firefight when Dixon and Johnson died, but in my dream, I ran to them, through the enemy fire, put my body between them and the enemy, and saved them.
I woke up from that one and sat straight up in bed. Xara was next to me, looking at me. I got up out of bed and put my shorts and shoes on and went out, into the night, into the rain and ran, and ran, and ran. Dixon and Johnson ran with me. I was angry. They were too.
At some point I became aware that Xara was running beside me.
“Stop Joe. Please, stop.”
“Leave me alone, Xara.”
“Joe, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Joe. Please, come back to the house, come back to bed. I won’t do it again, Joe. I promise, I’ll never do that again.”
I was huffing and puffing and out of breath. My words came out between breaths. Not Xara, though. You wouldn’t know she was running at all.
I slowed down to a jog, then to a walk. I looked at Dixon and Johnson and told them, for the ten thousandth time, that I was so, so sorry for not getting to them in time. I started crying and fell to my knees. And then I threw up.
At some point, I don’t know when, maybe it was right away, maybe it was twenty minutes later, Xara picked me up and flew us back to the house. She took me into the bathroom and undressed me, then got under a hot shower with me.
“My knees sting,” I said.
“You scraped them,” said Xara. “I’ll put Neosporin on them after we dry off.”
We got out of the shower and Xara used her heat vision trick with the mirrors to dry us, then she put the Neosporin on my knees.
“Please come back to bed Joe, I promise, I won’t ever do that again.”
“Have you been doing that in my other dreams?”
She looked down at the floor, her lower lip began to quiver, and she said, very quietly and softly, “yes.”
“Don’t do it in any of my dreams.”
“I won’t, darling. I am so sorry. Please, forgive me.”
“I will forgive you, Xara. Just don’t do it again.”
“I won’t. I promise.”
She didn’t do it again. And our relationship remained good. But my nightmares got worse. I was almost exclusively dreaming about the day I lost Dixon and Johnson. Xara said it was a combination of my PTSD and what she had done with my dreams. I don’t know if that was true, but I can tell you that Xara was truly remorseful. Every night when the nightmare would start, she’d be there to take me to herself. Sometimes we would be hiking in a forest. Sometimes she took me to Mars, or to the moon. She would show me the universe through her eyes, the way she saw it and experienced it.
When I woke up, she’d be there with her arms around me and would whisper her apologies into my ear. Sometimes she’d be crying. It went on for over a month before my dreams started getting back to normal. That is, a mix of unremarkable dreams and nightmares, with the nightmares slowly becoming less frequent.
This reinforced what Kara had said, that my mental state precluded me from being enhanced.
Janelle had killed a few union leaders just for fun, but she never imagined the aftereffects.
First, the police had opened an investigation. Janelle had been careful to cover her tracks, so she wasn’t worried about being found out, but that meant the other union leaders would be getting some protection, at least in the short term.
Janelle liked the police chief. He was a good and decent man, and she had a very good working relationship with him. She didn’t want to kill any of his police officers just because they were in the way of having a little fun with the union leaders.
Second, the union rank and file were stepping up. Normal workers who had never thought of running for anything were now running for the vacant leadership positions she had created, and even running against established incumbents. And they were all coming to her for endorsements.
The city council wasn’t thrilled about these developments. Maybe she should take a few of them to the playroom. She giggled when she thought about smearing the short, fat, stinky one against the playroom walls.
“We got a letter, Joe.”
Xara had just gone to the mailbox and come in with the day’s mail.
“Who’s it from?” I asked.
“She’s apologizing to us, Joe.”
“How do you know that? You haven’t opened the letter. Did Sharon tell you this was coming?”
She looked at me like I was an idiot.
“Oh. You don’t need to open the mail to read the mail.”
“Duh. Joe, you’ve lived with Velorians for a long time now. You should anticipate these things.”
She opened the letter and handed it to me to read. It was sincere and to the point.
“Xara and Joe, I am so very sorry and ashamed for my behavior at Thanksgiving. I was out of line and angry with Sharon and it was wrong of me to take it out on you. Please, please accept my apology. I promise, it won’t happen again.”
And she included two tickets to the opening of a Broadway play she was dancing in.
“Wow, Xara, I didn’t expect this. She sounds very sincere.”
“Yes, Joe, she does. Let me make a call.”
She took out her new phone and called Sharon. She didn’t put it on speaker. She told her we got the letter. Then she listened to Sharon for a minute, then said goodbye and hung up.
“Well?” I asked.
“Sharon told her if she didn’t apologize, she’d invite Sarah to spend Christmas with us.”
We were going to Kara’s house for Christmas.
“Will you be lending Sharon a pod in case Deb’s apology wasn’t so sincere?”
“Probably. Oh, Deb sent tickets to everyone who was at Thanksgiving. And she paid for them herself.”
“Are they expensive?” I asked.
Xara replied, “I don’t know, let’s see.”
So we got on the internet and looked. They were expensive. I mean Holy Shit! expensive.
Did I trust Deb? I wasn’t so sure. So I had a talk with Xara about it.
“Xara, if Deb starts to make trouble again, let Sharon handle it. Don’t let her get to you.”
Then, while Xara was at school, I called Sharon and talked to her.
“Sharon, if Deb goes anywhere near enhancement, I want you to get her out of there. I don’t need her agitating Xara again.”
We hadn’t told anyone about what Xara had done with my dreams. Even Gloria and Mona didn’t know, exactly, what happened, and they were there that night I ran out of the house.
“I know Xara was pushing me and Kara about it Joe, did she bring it up to you?”
“Yes, and we handled it.”
“Tell me about that.”
“No, Sharon, it was between me and Xara, and I want to keep it that way.”
“Joe, if Xara crossed a line Kara needs to know about it.”
“No lines were crossed and even if they were, Xara and I worked it out. There is no need for us to discuss it further or bring Kara in. Just make sure Deb behaves herself.”
End of story. Joe has spoken. Right? Wrong. Five minutes after I hung up with Sharon, Kara called me.
“Joseph, I just talked to Sharon. Is there anything I should know?”
“No, Kara, there is nothing you should know, or need to know.”
“Joseph, there are rules about enhancement, and proposing enhancement. As the Protector in Charge, I have a right to know if Xara was trying to skirt any of those rules.”
“Kara, I just want Sharon to make sure that Deb doesn’t bring the subject up again. I know it caused friction between you, Xara and Sharon, and I don’t want to see that again.”
“Joseph, if Xara …”
I hung up on her.
You don’t hang up on Kara Zor El. Twenty minutes later she landed on my back deck and came into the house.
“I want to talk to you and Xara right now!”
“Xara’s at school. You don’t need to talk to us about this, she and I are on the same page and as long as Deb keeps her fucking mouth shut about enhancement, everything will be fine.”
“Joseph, what does that mean, you are on the same page?”
“It means, Kara, that I figured out why you and Xara and Sharon were fighting, and I talked to Xara about it and she agreed we’d drop any discussion of enhancing me.”
“Then why do you feel the need to make sure Deb doesn’t bring it up?”
“Because I don’t want to see my wife fighting with her mother again and because enhancing me is an issue for her and it’s like a wound that isn’t completely healed yet and she doesn’t need anyone picking at the scab.”
Velorians don’t get scabs. But Kara had seen them, so she understood the metaphor.
“Joseph, I can’t help but think there is more to the story than you are telling me.”
“I’ve told you all you need to know.”
Holy Fucking Shit! Am I winning an argument with Kara? And when I heard the garage door open, I reached out to Xara and had her download (I have no idea what the right term for it is) the conversation so she could back me up.
“Xara, are you there?”
“Yes darling. Why is mom here?”
“Can you access the last fifteen minutes of my memory?”
“Certainly, that’s really easy for me to do … oh, my. What do you need me to do?”
“Just back me up.”
“Xara, we need to talk.”
“Hi mom! What do we need to talk about?”
“Joseph called Sharon and …”
“I know what he called her about, mom. I don’t have to be here to read his thoughts.”
She hadn’t been reading my thoughts in real time. She was staying at a high level, she’d hear me if I called for her, but otherwise she wasn’t listening in.
“Xara, what did you do?”
“I had a frank discussion with Joe about the argument you and I and Sharon had been having. Joe asked me to stop arguing and let it go. So I did.”
“Then why did he feel the need to ask Sharon to make sure Deb doesn’t bring enhancement up?”
“He’s standing right here mom, why don’t you ask him?”
“I did ask him, and I’m not satisfied with his answer.”
“Well, mom, I’m very satisfied with his answer. He knows Deb caused me to become agitated and fight with you and Sharon and he doesn’t want to see that happen again.”
“He doesn’t want us fighting again?”
“No, Kara, and I don’t want Deb upsetting my wife. Is that so hard to understand?”
“I don’t believe either of you. Joseph, Xara was pushing very hard for my permission to enhance you. The fact that you know about this makes me think there is more to it, that she may have crossed a line.”
“Crossed a line.” It was like they all use the same terminology. Wait, do they?
“Kara, it was obvious you three were fighting about something. I got to the bottom of it and had a discussion with my wife. You made the decision that I will not be enhanced, and Xara is going to honor that decision. End of story.”
Kara’s eyes flashed, just for a moment, and I felt heat against my face, just for a moment, and then she sighed and said, “I’ll leave now, I apologize for upsetting your evening.”
Xara waited until she saw Kara disappear into the clouds and then said, “Joe! You stood up to my mom!”
“I know! We should celebrate!”
“Strictly speaking, darling, you are her Kiraling. If she asks, you should tell her what I did in your dreams, and what that did to you.” She was referring to the frequency of my nightmares.
“Strictly speaking, Xara, you are my wife. You are my best friend, and you are the woman I am spending my life with. And I’m also your Kiraling. You come first. I love your mom and Sharon, but you come first. I’m not going to throw you under the bus.”
“Joe, that is so sweet!”
Yeah. The pheromones came out. We celebrated the way Velorians like to celebrate.
I had make-up sex. I had HOT make-up sex. With my mother-in-law. It isn’t as creepy as it sounds. Two days after I stood up to Kara she showed up at the house while Xara was at school.
“Joseph, I want to apologize to you. I shouldn’t have come on as strongly as I did and I’m sorry.”
Then there were pheromones and then I was naked in bed with a beautiful naked Velorian woman riding me. She worked me slowly, building me up, then pausing, then building me up again. I was about to burst when she clamped down, hard, inhibiting my ejaculation.
“Joseph, did Xara offer to enhance you?”
“Are you sure?”
“She didn’t! Kara, come on, I’m ready to explode here!”
Okay. It wasn’t hot make-up sex. It was hot interrogation sex. And maybe it was a little creepy.
She held me, tightly, and continued to massage me, it felt like her vagina was moving over my erection in all directions at once.
“She didn’t offer to enhance you? Why not?”
“She said you’d never forgive her if she went behind your back.”
“Xara, are you there?”
“Yes, darling, I’m … well, isn’t she playing dirty!”
“Joseph, all you have to do is tell me what happened, and then I’ll take you to Nirvana.”
“I saw there was tension between you, and Xara wouldn’t tell me why. Then I found three phones she crushed in the garbage. So I asked Gloria what was going on and she told me why you guys were arguing. I took her to dinner and asked her to drop it. There’s nothing more to tell, Kara.”
She somehow doubled the speed of whatever it was she was doing to my erection as she leaned down and kissed me, then blew in my ear and said, “Tell me what you’re leaving out, Joseph. Tell me and you’ll get the ending you so badly need.” Then she released more pheromones.
“Xara, I need help!”
And then I was in Xara’s loving place, and she was holding me and telling me to just look at her, just hold on to her. And I did. I had a civil war going on between my dick and my head, with my dick inside Kara and Xara inside my head. Xara won. Just barely, but she won.
“All right, Joseph. I believe you.”
She continued the motion but relaxed her grip and I climaxed, screaming. She was right, she took me to Nirvana. When I was finished, and she was finished, she laid out on me, still massaging me inside her and said, “I’m sorry I did that to you, Joseph, but I had to know.”
I didn’t say anything.
“She and I are going to have words. Fists and heat vision might be involved.”
“Don’t let her know you were here supporting me.”
“They teach us in counterintelligence training not to give away our advantages.”
“I get it. I’ll be home in an hour.”
“I’ll have dinner ready.”
“I suppose I’ll hear from my daughter about this.”
“It might go better if you tell her before I do, Kara.”
“I will. You should take a shower before she gets home, Joseph, I put you through the ringer.”
“No shit. Kara, why is this so important to you, and what were you expecting me to tell you?”
“It’s important because, in your case, enhancement could lead to undesirable results. We discussed this. It’s important because I know how badly Xara wants to enhance you and I need to know if she’s been pressuring you to ask her for it.”
“She did tell me that she wouldn’t offer it if she thought I would say no.”
“And what did you say?”
“I told her to stop fighting with you and Sharon over it.”
“And that’s it?”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.”
“You aren’t lying to me. I can tell.”
“You couldn’t tell before?”
“I had a feeling there was something else, something you weren’t telling me about. I still have that feeling.”
“Kara, I’m not going to tell you about our private conversations. Those are between us.”
“And you’re telling the truth about that. Again, Joseph, I apologize. I had to make sure.”
“Kara, don’t do that again.”
She looked at me, didn’t say a word, but nodded her head. Then she got out of bed, dressed and left.
“I think she’ll do it again.”
“If she does, I’ll call on you again. You saved the day Xara.”
“My phone’s ringing. It’s mom.”
Gloria and Mona were both out. Xara came home and undressed then sat down to dinner, nude, and emitted a low level of pheromones while we ate, then took me by the hand into the bedroom while Rosey cleaned up. Eating dinner naked isn’t unusual for her, but emitting pheromones while we are eating is.
There is only one kind of sex you can have with Velorians, and that is great sex. They don’t do so-so sex, or mediocre sex, or nothing-to-write-home-about sex. But Xara takes it a step further because she can see my fantasies and make them come true. I don’t mean in the ‘I’ll dress up like a schoolgirl’ kind of true. I mean she can build a world in my head where I actually experience fantasy. I guess she was feeling bad over what Kara did, so she started us out in one of my fantasies and went from there. Without going into detail … emitting pheromones during dinner was part of the fantasy. Don’t ask.
This happened on the last day of the Fall quarter. So the next day we went out and did our Christmas shopping.
“Do you think we should stiff mom?”
“No. We weren’t completely honest with her, and she knew it. Let’s not cause any more family drama than we already have. Um, how did your phone conversation with her go?”
“I told her not to do that again.”
“Can you do what she did? Can you hold me on the edge like that?”
“Yes. I’ve done it before; you know I have. I’ve just never predicated your orgasm on getting something from you. That is wrong, and mom should not have done it, and I told her.”
“That’s a pretty good interrogation technique. She would have broken me without your help.” Then I grinned and added, “Maybe we should tell Colonel Moore about it.”
“Has she ever interrogated someone that way?”
“Not that I know of. I know she held a guy over a ledge by an ankle, but that was because she thought he inflated his bill.”
“A pipe burst at her house. She thought the plumber was charging too much. Sucked for him, because he came out on a Sunday evening and if he’d charged her a fair price, she would have given him a very generous tip.”
“Wouldn’t that have blown her cover?”
“You’d think so, but you’d be amazed how easily the Terran mind can go into denial when faced with something that doesn’t make sense to it.”
“He had no clue that she’s an alien?”
“If he did, he never said anything to anyone about it, at least not that mom could find out.”
“Okay. Back to Christmas shopping, should we get anything for Deb?”
“I don’t know, Joe. I’m still cross with her.”
“But she’s going to be there, right? Wouldn’t it be rude to leave her out.”
Xara sighed and said, “Alright. We can get her something. What do you think we should get her?”
“I think we should call Sharon and ask. I have no idea what that woman likes. I know what she doesn’t like: men.”
Xara laughed, then pulled out her phone and called Sharon.
My first Christmas with the blondes, I didn’t really know what to get them. By now I had enough experience to know that they liked jewelry. All of them. But not gold jewelry. The Supremis women I know only use gold to dampen their strength when they want to make sure they won’t hurt a Terran during sex. Mona doesn’t need it for that. Gloria does. She is something called a Kella-Prime, which means she isn’t usually a full on Prime, but when she wants to be, she can. I don’t know how that works, but I do know sex can bring it out. And now that she is dating Harvey, the county guy who conducted our safe boating class, she wears gold to protect him. She hasn’t been trained in how to have sex with a Terran and not kill him, and she isn’t interested in learning how. Xara said that’s a difference between Arions and Velorians. So Gloria wears gold when she’s having sex with a Terran. Otherwise, the ladies avoid gold. It weakens them and unless they are doing it for a purpose, and sex is always the purpose, they don’t like to be weakened.
For what they refer to as safe sex with Terrans, they like gold chokers. So we got Gloria a nice gold choker. The other ladies got diamonds.
The Velorians only put on the choker when they want to let it all hang out without crushing the unsuspecting guy they are with. Or me.
Oh, there were other options for Gloria, cooking options. But since anything we gave her would likely end up in our kitchen, we decided against getting her an air fryer and went with the choker instead.
Mona likes clothes too, but she likes to buy her own. So we got her a pendant.
By the time we were done I had the feeling the saleswoman who helped us at the jewelry store was going to name her firstborn after one of us. Maybe her second born too if it was the right gender.
I mean, it was a lot of jewelry. Sharon, Kara, Juliet, Bri-an, Gloria and Mona. And Deb too. But we could afford it, so that’s what we got them.
Gloria and Mona would be going to Kara’s for Christmas, and only those in the know about the Supremis were invited, which meant Harvey and Harold, Gloria and Mona’s boyfriends, would not be invited. So they, the Arions, decided they wanted an early Christmas celebration with their boyfriends at our house, and they wanted me and Xara out of the house. Gloria was very blunt about it.
“Harvey and Harold are coming here for dinner Tuesday night. We will be exchanging gifts, and they are going to stay over. You two must leave before they arrive and not return until Wednesday evening.”
And then she turned and walked away.
I told Xara, “I think we should be charging them rent.”
“Holiday rates,” she replied.
Xara suggested that we get a hotel room in Seattle for a few days, see a show, and enjoy room service. That sounded like a great idea to me. I had plenty of leave to use and getting away from the phone, and Colonel Moore’s not so subtle attempts to get details about Sharon’s Christmas plans, would be an added bonus.
“Xara, why can’t she just pick one or the other?”
“Sometimes we can be just as clueless as you Terrans, Joe. In the Velorian culture, having multiple regular sex partners doesn’t come with strings and complications. Sharon wants to have her cake and eat it too.”
Anyway, we got lucky, the Fairmount in Seattle had a room available, and Xara found tickets online for a show at the Fifth Avenue Theater.
In Bellingham I get stares, because of my appearance. But the businesses I patronize have gotten to know me, and the employees, and the customers in some cases, are used to seeing me and, from my perspective, see past my wounds and scars and see me.
Seattle is completely different. Well, it’s different. When we checked into the Fairmount the staff looked at me a little sideways. Just a little. I wouldn’t have even been aware if Xara hadn’t said something.
“I want to see your manager, now,” she said to the woman checking us in.
“Is there something I can help you with, Ms. Ricci?” she asked.
“I see the way your people are looking at my husband, the sniggers, the one over there who pretended to stick his finger down his throat and vomit.”
She tried to argue with Xara. Xara released a little bit of fear pheromone. It sent a cold chill down my spine. The front desk lady called the manager. The manager came out and listened to Xara’s description of what she observed. She added a little trust pheromone to the fear. We got a free room. I didn’t say anything about it until we were in the elevator.
“Don’t you think you came on a little strong, Xara?”
“I did Joe. It’s just …”
“It’s just what?”
“That’s how I would have treated you before that day in the cave and I’m ashamed that I was that shallow.”
“Well … I think you should let those things go. On the other hand, it’s awesome to have an angry half Galen half Velorian on my side.”
That made her laugh. Then she said, “I think I’m a little more than half Galen.”
“How’s that?” I asked.
“I’ve started feeling … stronger again. During Christmas break I’m going to test myself.”
“I don’t know yet. Maybe I’ll rearrange a mountain or two on Mars or throw an asteroid into Jupiter.”
We had dinner reservations for 8pm. When we got into our room we unpacked, made love, made love again, then showered and dressed for dinner.
I don’t know if it is this way for all married men, but I’m not allowed to dress myself. If I’m on duty, I dress the way the army wants me to dress, though I have some leeway in that I’m a work from home soldier. Otherwise, Xara dresses me. Not literally, but she makes all the decisions. I can’t count the number of times I’d dress to go out with her, and she’d look at me and ask, “Is that what you’re wearing?”
So for this trip, for all trips, but we’re talking about this one, she picked out the suits I would wear to the show and to dinner. She brought a couple of gowns that showed off her legs, her cleavage and left no mistake that she has the body of a super model. A super model with a full figure. Not one of those skinny ones that would blow away in a stiff breeze.
We took a cab to El Gaucho and arrived right in time for our reservation and were promptly seated. We had a Caesar Salad to begin and then had steaks for dinner. I had an 8 ounce filet mignon with lobster medallions and asparagus and bearnaise sauce. Xara ordered a 14 ounce New York steak. We each ordered a baked potato. She also ordered sautéed mushrooms.
I ate my steak and lobster, a bit of my potato and about half of the asparagus. Xara ate her steak, her potato and the rest of mine, the mushrooms and the rest of my asparagus. And all the bread.
I was full and didn’t want dessert. So Xara ordered the Bananas Foster for two, and the Cherries Jubilee for two, and ate them all herself. Our waiter made extra trips to check on us. Partly I think because Xara was just stunningly beautiful, and partly because he and the rest of the staff were amazed at how much food she could put away.
It was December in Seattle. It was one of those rare nights without a cloud in the sky and it was cold. I had an overcoat, gloves and hat. Xara would have been comfortable naked, but she had a wrap just for show. Since it wasn’t raining, she asked if we could walk back to the hotel.
The walk back was not uneventful. After dark, the streets change.
“Joe, darling, I’m so sorry. Walking back to the hotel was not a good idea.”
“What is it, Xara, what do you see?”
“Across the street, in that doorway, there’s a drug deal going down. Up ahead of us on the right, another one. People are armed with knives and guns. And they’re looking at us.”
“Should we cross the street, take another route?”
“She looked around and said, “No, there aren’t any good alternatives. It’s just a few blocks. There’s no wind here …”
She pulled me close and, in the connection, said, “Joe, I’m taking you to our safe place. Just hang on to me, okay? You’re going to be safe.”
Suddenly, I was in Xara’s loving place. The sun was out and it was warm, and we were walking through a meadow of beautiful flowers, which struck me as strange, because I could see the sidewalk and the street and the traffic going by. And then I began to feel afraid.
“It’s okay, darling. Just hang on to me, you aren’t in any danger.”
I held on to her for dear life. I looked around and saw other people in the meadow that had sidewalks and streets and buildings, and they were walking, or running, away from us. After about three blocks I started to feel better, and the meadow and the flowers went away, and it was just a sidewalk next to a street.
“Are you okay my love?” she asked.
“I am now. That was … strange.”
“I wasn’t completely sure I could pull that off. I know I can calm you when I get inside your head, but I didn’t know if I could keep you calm when I was releasing my fear pheromones.”
“Well, I wanted to get away, but I wanted to hang on to you even more. I felt like whatever it was I wanted to get away from would get me if I ran away from you.”
“I’ll remember that. Are you cross with me?”
“No. No, I’m not.”
“I’m glad. I’ll give you a special treat when we get back to our room.”
She gave me the treat in the bathtub. It was one of those big tubs with jets. I slept very well that night. The next morning, we ordered room service for breakfast, then spent some time at the Seattle Center, had lunch, saw a show at the 5th Avenue Theater then had room service deliver a late dinner to our room. In the morning we drove back to Bellingham.
When we got home that afternoon Gloria and Mona were all smiles. Their little celebration had gone very well and the two were getting dressed up to go out dancing with Harold and Harvey. They left, Xara and I sat down to dinner then put a movie on. About 9pm we got a call from Gloria. Someone had picked a fight with Harold and the four of them were at the police station and needed someone to pick them up.
Xara and I drove to the police station and asked for Gloria. We were led into a room where the four of them were being held, though held isn’t the right word. Harold had quite a shiner and had taken off his shirt. Mona and Gloria were fussing over him while Harvey looked on.
To make a long story short, a drunk bumped into Harold, took offence and sucker punched him in the solar plexus. Hard. Harold dropped to the floor and then the guy kicked him while he was down. Mona immediately jumped in and, as Gloria explained afterwards, would have killed the guy if she, Gloria, hadn’t intervened.
The police were called, took witness statements and, thankfully, decided Mona was only trying to protect her date. The other guy was in the hospital with a broken nose and broken ribs. The police said given the witness statements, they didn’t think he’d press charges. If anything, Harold could press charges. But Harold wasn’t in the mood for it. He was embarrassed that he had been beaten up and was in awe of Mona. Of course, he had no idea that Mona was many times stronger, faster, and tougher than him.
“You have bruised ribs,” said Gloria, “and you need to rest for a couple of days. Avoid physical activity and put ice on your ribs to keep the swelling down.”
Mona said, “I’ll come and stay with you while you heal.” She was very upset that he had been injured.
Xara took Gloria aside and said, “If there aren’t going to be any charges, mom doesn’t need to know about this right away. We can tell her at Christmas.”
Gloria nodded and then went back to Harold.
“Why shouldn’t Kara know about this right now, Xara?”
“Mona’s an Arion. An Arion who put a Terran in the hospital. Prejudices run deep.”
“You think Kara would hold this against her?”
“I don’t think so, but I don’t want to take the chance. If we are all together and tell mom in person, we can control the narrative much better than if we told her over the phone.”
Xara joined Mona and Gloria with Harold. Harvey came to me and said, “I’ve never seen anything like it. Mona moved so fast, and she only hit that guy twice before Gloria got her arms around her and pulled her away. That guy was in bad shape, they hauled him away in an ambulance.”
I went over to Harold and said, “Harold, I’ll drive you and Mona to your apartment. Xara, Gloria and Harvey will go back and get your cars.”
“Thanks, Joe,” he replied. And then, “I don’t know how to fight. I didn’t know what to do.”
Mona put an arm around him and pulled him into herself, which made him wince because she was on the side with bruised ribs, and told him not to worry about it.
Gloria said, “He took you by surprise. There is no shame in that for you, only for him. If you wish to learn how to fight, I will teach you.”
“Thank you,” Harold replied, “but I’m a man of peace.”
Gloria nodded and said, “That is honorable.” She was letting him save face. Gloria believes that violence should be met with greater violence. She’d do well in the army.
A policewoman came into the room and saw three beautiful women fussing over Harold and chuckled, then cleared her throat and said, “You are all free to go.” She gave Harold a card and told her to call the number on it if he decided he wanted to press charges.
I asked Gloria, “Why didn’t you guys take Harold to the emergency room?”
“The police asked if he wanted to go, but I told them I am a physician and had already assessed his injuries.”
“You don’t think he should have x-rays?”
“No, I can feel the difference between broken and bruised ribs. And I saw no other sign of internal injuries. Harold will be fine in a few days if he follows my advice.”
Mona heard that and said, “I’ll make sure he does.”
Christmas parties. Everyone was throwing Christmas parties and the people she represented, and some she didn’t, all wanted Janelle to come to their parties.
The previous year she had been honored to spend Christmas with Miguel and his family, and she had found the experience … fulfilling. But other than that, she had not celebrated the holiday season. Now … the elites of the city were throwing parties and they all invited her. And through some magic of unseen coordination none of the parties conflicted with each other. Miguel explained to her that they took turns each year throwing parties and made sure well in advance that there would be no conflicts.
More surprisingly, the people of her district were inviting her into their homes for small celebrations. Janelle had to decide whose invitations to accept when there were conflicts. And here again, Miguel was able to offer advice.
“It is not uncommon for guests to arrive at a party, stay for a while and talk to everyone, and then leave for another party. You can make an appearance, for example, at the mayor’s party, then leave and spend time at the home of one of your constituents.”
And that’s what she did, going to the parties of the rich and powerful, then excusing herself to visit the home of one of her constituents. And how different the experiences were.
The elites were pretentious. They wanted to be seen with each other and to brag and show off their riches. They all wanted to know what she thought of this, that or the other thing, and all wanted to influence her to their side. And of course, it wasn’t just she who got this attention. They did it with each other too. It reminded her of a phrase Miguel had used once: a circle jerk.
And then she’d go to the home of a constituent, and she would be met by the husband and wife who were throwing the party, who would introduce their children to her and introduce their friends. And if any of them wanted anything from her there was no way for her to tell, because all they wanted to do was tell her how grateful they were for having her represent them to the city council. And they wanted to introduce their children to her and tell them about the piano lessons they were taking, or the football they played, or what they were learning in school.
Christmas morning, she attended church with Miguel and Juanita and the girls, then spent the day at their home, opening presents, eating good food (Juanita was an excellent cook) and enjoying each other’s company. Yes, Janelle thought, when Aria takes over, this family is going to be amply rewarded for the kindness and loyalty they have shown her. And she will make sure they are protected. No drunken Beta or arrogant Prime is going to have their way with this family.
As a gift, Miguel presented Janelle with a Bible. She had often questioned him about his Terran religion and was happy to receive the Bible, which she assumed was a handbook. She would read it and study it over the next few months and become more confused than ever about this Terran religion.
And … Near Earth Command (NEC) was communicating with her about the possibility of her taking another Prime under her wing and training him or her in techniques for gaining the trust of Terrans and eliminating resistance. She wasn’t sure how she felt about that, so she drafted a reply to NEC agreeing to their proposal but stressing that whoever they send should understand that they were subordinate to her and could only harm or kill Terrans with her express permission.
NEC responded that her terms were acceptable and would be dispatching a ship soon. She would be contacted when the ship entered orbit around Terra’s moon.
Xara, Juliet and Bri-an volunteered to provide transportation for Christmas. We packed our bags and put them into pods that the blondes ferried to Kara’s home, then we, meaning me, Mona and Gloria packed ourselves into pods that Xara, and then Xara and Bri-an flew to California.
Xara and I went down a week before Christmas. Gloria and Mona came down two days later, because Mona wanted to take care of Harold. And Gloria … the two are inseparable. Where you find one Arion you find them both.
Deb and Sharon were going to arrive on the 23rd. Those of us who were there went out to dinner the night Xara and I arrived. That would me, Xara, Kara, Juliet, Bri-an and Crystal, Kara’s personal assistant, who, like Deb, was enhanced.
We had a nice table for six, and between the main course and desert Xara told Kara what had happened to Harold, and how Mona reacted. To listen to Xara tell it, the guy who went after Harold was a huge monster and Mona jumped in to save the day. She didn’t include the part where Gloria had to intervene to keep Mona from killing the guy.
“And the police came?” asked Kara.
“Yes, they did,” replied Xara.
“What injuries did the Terran, the one who attacked Harold, sustain?”
“A broken nose and two broken ribs,” said Xara.
“Is he filing charges against Mona?” asked Kara.
“No,” replied Xara. “The police asked Harold if he wanted to press charges, but he declined.”
“Harold was embarrassed about being beaten up,” I added, “and maybe a little embarrassed that his girlfriend had to rescue him.”
“Hmm, Terran male egos. So that’s why Gloria and Mona aren’t here,” said Kara.
“Yes,” I replied. “Mona is taking care of Harold …”
“And Gloria and Mona stick together,” said Kara. “I get it.”
“Mom,” Xara said, “Mona was protecting her boyfriend, and the damage she did was roughly proportional to the damage the drunk did to Harold. I don’t see any reason to discipline or chastise her.”
“I agree,” said Kara, “though it would have been nice to hear about this when it happened.”
“When it happened,” I said, “emotions were running high. It wasn’t the best time to call you in.”
“I see,” said Kara. And then we ate our dessert and made small talk.
“That went easier than I expected,” said Xara to me in the connection.
“Let’s withhold judgement on that until Gloria and Mona get here,” I replied. “There may be another shoe to drop.”
No other shoes dropped. When Mona and Gloria arrived, Kara asked them about it and they both said what Xara had said, and they also left out the part that Gloria pulled Mona off the guy.
“Well,” said Kara, “it sounds like you reacted appropriately and with the proper amount of force. In the future, however, I would prefer that you pull the combatants apart and not join the fight.”
“Kara,” said Mona, “Harold was not a combatant. He was a victim.”
“I understand,” said Kara, “but I don’t want you to bring undue attention to yourself.”
“You mean the wrong kind of attention,” I said. “Heads swivel wherever Mona goes.”
Kara laughed and said, “Yes, Joseph, the wrong kind of attention.”
And that was that. At least as far as Kara was concerned.
“Xara, are you there?” I asked in the connection.
“Suppose it had been Harvey who was attacked. No way Mona could have pulled Gloria away.”
“Oh dear, yes, that’s a conversation we should have with Gloria, when mom isn’t around.”
Sharon arrived with Deb on the 23rd. We were all there, having lunch, when who should appear but Skar-El. Now, Messengers don’t show up to celebrate Christmas or New Years. When they arrive, it is to either deliver a communication, pick up one, or both. In this case, it was both. He had a message to deliver to Kara and wanted to pick up any dispatches Sharon had for Velor.
But I wasn’t thinking about any of that. I was thinking that he had arrived just in time to ruin my Christmas. And looking at the expression on Deb’s face, it was obvious she was thinking the same thing.
My emotions must have been showing too, because in my head, in the connection, I heard Xara say, “Not on Christmas, Joe. I’m not going off with a Messenger and leaving you alone on Christmas.”
“Are you sure Xara? I signed up for that.”
“I know you did, darling, and I love you for it. But I also know how important the Christmas season is to you. And Joe, darling, these days are important to me too. We’re staying together.”
Kara, ever the gracious hostess, asked Skar-El if he could stay for Christmas and New Years. He said he could only stay for three days, then he had to be off.
Sharon said, “I have dispatches for Velor. If you will all excuse me, I’m going home to get them. I should be back in an hour. Or,” and then she switched to Velorian, “Skar-El, why don’t you come with me?”
Skar-El agreed. He and Sharon left, and Sharon didn’t even look back. She didn’t see the look of hurt and disappointment on Deb’s face. But I did. I got up from the table and ran after them, which was harder than you might think, given that their feet weren’t touching the floor. But Sharon had to go to her room to change into her flight suit, so I was able to catch up with them there.
“May I listen in?”
“Yes. Please rescue me if Sharon decides to burn the rest of my face off.”
I heard her giggle. In the connection. It’s a unique experience.
“Joe, what is it?”
“You shouldn’t leave with Skar-El.”
“Not that it is any of your business, Joe, but why not?”
“Because you’re hurting Deb. You didn’t see the look on her face when you left the table, but I did. Sharon, for the sake of your relationship with Deb, you should have Skar-El stay here while you fetch your dispatches.”
Sharon thought for a moment, then nodded. Then switched to Velorian and said, “Skar-El, it would be better if you stayed here. Please go back to the table with Joe. Have something to eat.”
Skar-El looked confused, but he agreed without further comment. There is a pecking order among the Velorians, and Messengers are below both Protectors and Scribes.
We started back down. I was heading for the elevator when Skar-El grabbed me around the waist and flew us down one of the tubes.
I don’t know if the Supremis ladies heard the conversation, or if Xara told them, but when we got back to the table there was a setting for Skar-El and a plate of food for him, which he dove into. Messengers don’t carry food with them on their rounds, so wherever they go they always arrive hungry.
Skar-El gave Kara a set of messages which she set aside to look at later. Sharon, true to her word, was back within an hour with her dispatches.
Gloria had put more food on my plate while I was gone and gave me that look that meant I had better eat it. At some point I made eye contact with Deb, and she mouthed, “thank you,” to me.
“You are such a wonderful, caring man.”
So here we were, the 23rd of December with a Messenger and five Velorian women. Xara went to bed with me, so that left four. Sharon came upstairs with Deb and shut the door. Xara saw her getting in bed with Deb, so that left three.
“Mom is staying at the house. Skar-El just left with Bri-an and Juliet.”
“Why did they leave? Aren’t the Velorian bedrooms here built for Velorian sex?”
“Mom has had to replace furniture more than once after a Messenger visit. They go at it pretty hard.”
“Will your mom get any time with him? Will Sharon?”
“I don’t know about mom. Sharon seems to be taking what you told her to heart.”
Xara sat up and looked towards Sharon’s room.
“I’d say Deb is getting the ‘full Sharon experience’ right now.”
“What does that mean?”
“Sharon is trying to make up for Skar-El by giving Deb her best. And getting Deb’s best.”
“I still don’t know what that means.”
“It means Deb will be smiling in the morning. And maybe limping a bit too.”
Well, Deb was smiling in the morning. At me! I thought: Great! She likes me now!
Juliet and Bri-an were also smiling. Skar-El was hungry. Gloria was shoveling pancakes onto his plate as fast as they came off the gridle.
Kara asked me and Xara to come to her study. We went in and sat down, and Kara said, “You have another order for cats.”
“Again?” I asked.
“Yes,” replied Kara. “The Fesussians are contracting with the Scalantrans for fifteen breeding pairs of cats. The Scalantrans have raised their price to the Fesussians, which means a bigger commission for you two.”
“Haven’t they figured out that they can keep some cats and breed them? They don’t need us,” I said.
“Evidently not,” said Kara.
“I know what I want to buy with the proceeds,” said Xara.
Kara and I both turned to her.
“I want a self-contained pressurized unit that I can use to take Joe to the moon and Mars!”
“Will fifteen cats pay for that?” I asked.
“Thirty cats, Joe. Fifteen breeding pairs. And I don’t see why not. Cats paid for our house and it’s a lot bigger than what I have in mind.”
“Can something like that be bought?” I asked.
“I don’t know. If not, the Kelsorians can certainly design and build one. It wouldn’t need engines; I’d provide the propulsion. We’d want an artificial gravity system, but if that’s too expensive we can have it made in the form of a cylinder that I could spin to provide gravity for you,” she replied.
“What about power, food, water and air?” I asked.
“We could use the same kind of power cells we have in our house. Or put solar panels on it. I could pre-position food, water and air along the route.”
“It sounds like you’ve given this some thought,” said Kara.
“I have mom. I want Joe to have these experiences. It’s one thing for me to share them with him in the connection, it’s another for him to actually travel through space and set foot on the moon or Mars.”
“Wouldn’t a trip to Mars take a long time?” I asked.
“Seven months,” said Xara, “maybe faster, I haven’t worked that out yet. It depends on where Mars is in its orbit with respect to Terra and how much acceleration you can handle.”
“Seven months. One way or round trip?”
“One way,” she answered.
“Do you really think that’s practical?” I asked.
“Maybe not,” she said, “but we can have a lot of fun planning and practicing.”
“What would I be doing for seven months?”
“We’d have an airlock, so I could go in and out. And we could have conjugal visits from Sharon and mom. And maybe Juliet and Bri-an. We’d keep you too busy and worn out to get bored!”
She was teasing me now. I think. I changed the subject.
“Well, let’s skip the homemade cages this time and buy cat carriers,” I suggested.
“Yes, that might be easier,” she said.
“Mom, when is the order due?”
“It doesn’t say,” replied Kara, “they want to know if you will accept the job.” She handed Xara the crystal, these messages come on crystals, and Xara looked at it and said, “Wow. We could probably get two modules for what they are offering. Tell them we accept.”
I asked for the crystal, and Xara handed it to me. I couldn’t see anything. Then she took it back from me, looked at it, and showed me what she was seeing in the connection. There were etchings of some kind on the crystal that I could just barely see. Then she zoomed in, and if Kara hadn’t been fast, I would have fallen over because it was very disorienting, and I could see Velorian text in the etching.
“I have a holographic reader around here somewhere, Joseph.”
She didn’t rummage through any drawers. Velorians never have to rummage through anything. They just look through walls and desktops and whatever. She opened a drawer and pulled out a small flat disk, not a lot bigger than the crystal. She laid the crystal onto an indentation on the disk and a hologram popped up. A hologram of the message.
“That’s really cool!”
Xara smiled and kissed me. “You’re so easily impressed,” she said.
So, this was Christmas Eve. Supremis, at least the ones I know, always, always make sure they have plenty of food on hand for celebrations, special occasions, and just for the hell of it. But no one had planned for Skar-El, and man, that dude can really put it away. So Gloria gave me a grocery list, Kara gave Xara the keys to one of her cars, and we went shopping.
All the last minute shoppers were out. The grocery stores were packed. We found parking and got a cart and went into the store and found all the items on Gloria’s list. We were about to get into one of the checkout lines when I remembered Thanksgiving.
“Xara, let’s Facetime Gloria and show her what’s in the cart, to make sure she doesn’t send us back to this madhouse.”
We did that, and lo and behold, Gloria added items to the list. We picked up those items, made another call just to be sure, and got in line to check out.
On the drive back to Kara’s, Xara wanted to talk about her ‘feeling’ that she had increased her strength again.
“Joe, school doesn’t start until the 9th. When we get home, I’m going to head out to the asteroid belt and test myself. I shouldn’t be gone more than a few days.”
“What kind of tests?” I asked.
“Well, some of those asteroids are very heavy. I’m going to see how much effort it takes to modify the orbit of a big one. I’m going to smash a couple, and I’m going to see if I can boil one with my heat vision.”
“Boil an asteroid?”
“If there is a lot of iron in it. It boils at about 5,100° Fahrenheit. That’s easily within my range, but getting a large mass to that temperature, quickly, will be a measure of my ability to emit radiation from my eyes.”
“Can you show me this, in the connection?”
“Of course, darling. I want you to experience as much of me as possible!”
We got back to Kara’s and unloaded the groceries, and then Gloria said we had to go back to the store … just kidding.
We had a very good dinner … who am I kidding, by this time Gloria could compete with any chef in California, maybe the country. We had a great dinner. I made eye contact a couple of times with Deb and smiled at her. We hadn’t talked all day and I wanted to see if we could continue being friendly. She returned my smiles with scowls.
“Darling, I don’t think you have become the man she likes the most, I think you are the man she despises the least.” And then she giggled. In the connection. It’s a unique experience.
After dinner we gathered around the tree to exchange gifts. Skar-El watched with apparent interest. The ladies all liked the jewelry we bought them, including Deb.
I gave Xara a diamond pendant, which she apparently liked. She threw her arms around me and kissed me and asked how I managed to keep it from her. I had no idea. I still have no idea. Somehow, sometimes I can keep things from Xara. Not big things, but she seldom figures out gifts. I think it’s because she makes an effort not to. But if that’s what she’s doing, she won’t admit to it.
The ladies, the Supremis ladies, all got together for my gift. They gave me an M1 Garand Battle rifle. A real one, made during WWII and restored by a gunsmith. They also gave me 3,000 rounds of 30-06 ammunition, fifteen en bloc clips, all loaded, and a clip loader. I didn’t even know there was such a thing, but there is. It makes loading the clips a snap.
After we had all opened our presents the ladies wanted to go down to Kara’s firing range and try out the M1. Hell yes! So we did. I wore hearing and eye protection; the ladies didn’t bother. Xara set up targets and I went through a couple of clips.
Then the ladies all wanted to try it out, so I handed the rifle off to Kara while I reloaded the empty clips with the clip loader. The Velorians didn’t bother with targets. They stripped down and used each other as targets. All of them, including Deb, tried out the rifle. All of the ladies except Deb, Crystal and Mona took turns being targets. Because as tough as Betas and enhanced humans are, 30-06 bullets fired from an M1 can still hurt even if they can’t penetrate the skin.
I was still wearing the hearing protection, so I didn’t always know what was going on behind my back. The firing stopped so I took off the head gear and heard the ladies giggling. I turned around to look and Xara opened her hand and showed me three spent bullets. They had bounced off Bri-an, who was being a moving target, and came towards me, so Xara caught them. They thought this was funny. Me, not so much.
“Usually, you guys are very concerned about letting harm come to a Terran, and other times, like right now, you think it’s a joke,” I said.
Juliet replied, “It is no joke. It’s only funny because it is you.”
“Huh?” That’s all I could say.
“You are so very trusting of us, Joe. Would you turn your back on Terrans playing with these noise makers?” asked Bri-an.
“You think my trust in you is funny?” I asked.
“No, Joseph. We think it’s adorable,” replied Kara.
“And we think your trust in us is a complement,” said Sharon.
Xara kissed me and said, “Don’t worry about it, darling. I’ll make you feel better tonight.”
Xara is very talented at redirecting the conversation.
The Supremis ladies all wanted to try out the loader. Then they had a contest to see if they could load the clips by hand faster than I could with the loader. They won. They all won. Then they had a contest to see if they could load the clips with the loader faster than I could by hand. They won. They all won. And they were even being careful not to damage the loader and the clips.
During all this, Skar-El was happy to watch. He didn’t take a turn being a target or shooting the M1.
After a couple of hours, it was late, and we went back to the main part of the house and headed to our respective bedrooms. Except for Kara. She went off with Skar-El. Sharon stayed with Deb. Xara made good on her promise to make me feel better. Like there is anyway spending a night with her wouldn’t make me feel better.
In the morning Kara was back and told us Skar-El had left. Deb was … well, she looked happy when she heard it, and she even smiled at me. And she thanked me and Xara for her gift, and she made eye contact with me when she did. I considered that a win.
Gloria and Mona made breakfast and after that we spent the rest of the day talking, relaxing, and visiting the sea lions. They still remembered Xara. They still didn’t like her. The young ones who had never met her picked up on the signals from the adults.
Bri-an noticed the reaction the sea lions had to her and asked about it.
“I used to try to tickle and hug them,” she said, “and they never liked that. And they hold a grudge.”
It was a nice few days. Deb was cordial, Sharon didn’t cause any Sharon-Sarah-Deb-Messenger drama. Xara wasn’t at all upset or unhappy about missing time with Skar-El, though I suspected the next Messenger to visit would get the fucking of his life. (That turned out to be true. Xara and Sharon really worked him over. Nuff said.) Nobody said anything about the way Kara interrogated me, which also meant we didn’t worry about telling her about what Xara did with my dreams.
And I got an M1!
We returned home the day after Christmas. We unpacked and put everything away. Gloria and Mona went to visit Harold and Harvey. Xara went to campus to buy her books for the Winter quarter but discovered the store had abbreviated days and hours during the break. So she gave me her list of books so I could buy them while she was out exploring the new limits of her power.
She changed into her flight suit, kissed me goodbye and promised that she’d show me anything she saw that would be of interest to a Terran. We went out on the back deck, and I watched as she slowly rose into the air, then suddenly rocketed out of sight.
Showing something interesting started right away.
“Joe, sit down and close your eyes.”
I went inside and sat down and closed my eyes. And suddenly I was seeing the earth fall away, as if I was ascending into the sky. And I saw it the way Xara did. Not only could I see lights (it was after sunset) but I could also see what those lights were illuminating.
This went on until she was out of the atmosphere and began accelerating towards Mars. Then she put the connection into standby mode. In standby mode, my term, not hers, she can hear me if I call her, but otherwise is not listening in on my thoughts.
I had a couple of days before I had to go back to work. I went down to the lair and made sure everything was neat and tidy. Don’t know why I did that; Rosey had been programmed with the layout and kept everything clean and in its place. I picked out the room we would use this time for the cats, and I went online looking for cat carriers. 15 breeding pairs, that meant 30 cat carriers. They’d have to be arranged so the cats wouldn’t look at each other all the time, that would be stressful for them, and me and Xara too, probably Mona and Gloria. Cat’s constantly hissing and howling all day and night. Ugh.
Gloria and Mona didn’t come home, so I made dinner, took a shower and went to bed.
“I just wanted to say goodnight.”
“Goodnight … where are you?”
“Nowhere in particular. I decided to test my acceleration.”
“It’s improved. Way improved. I’ve just about halved the time it used to take me to reach relativistic speeds.”
“How do you know if you’re accelerating faster?”
“Blue shift and red shift. The stars ahead of me are blue shifted and the ones behind me are red shifted. I remember how far they were shifted before, and how long it took me to get there.”
“Yes. Wow. Now I’m going to spend two hours decelerating. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every upside there is a downside. Decelerating for the sake of decelerating is boring.”
“Well, sorry. I checked with the bookstore, and I can get your stuff tomorrow. And I have cat carriers on order. I picked out a room for them and figured out how to arrange them.”
“Sounds like you’ve been busy. It looks like you’re comfortable in bed. May I help you get to sleep?”
“Alright. Get comfortable and close your eyes.”
I did, and in a matter of seconds I was in Xara’s loving place. We were holding hands and flying through the universe. I could see stars everywhere I looked.
The next thing I knew, it was morning. I opened my eyes and heard Xara in my head.
“Good morning, darling. Did you sleep well?”
“You know I did.”
She giggled. In the connection. It’s a unique experience.
“How about you? Did you get any rest?”
“No, after I slowed down, I spent the night setting a course for the asteroid belt and accelerated towards it.”
“Are you still accelerating?”
“No, I have the right velocity to get there in two days, then I’ll have to decelerate again and start looking for an asteroid to play with. I’m going to get some sleep now, but I’ll hear you if you call me.”
“Okay. Have a good rest.”
“I will, talk to you later. Xara out.”
Xara out. That was new.
I got up and went for a run. When I got back, Gloria and Mona were home and were fixing breakfast.
“Shower then sit down and eat,” Gloria said. “Pancakes with chocolate chips. And bacon.”
Gloria loves bacon. But then again, doesn’t everyone?
Gloria and Mona sat down at the table across from me. They didn’t have any food in front of them. I was the only one eating. As I finished my pancakes and bacon Gloria got up and went to the stove and brought back four more strips of bacon that she put on my plate. Then she sat down again and joined Mona watching me eat.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
Gloria and Mona glanced at each other, and OMG, Gloria looked like she was nervous. Gloria never gets nervous. About anything. Gloria makes other people nervous. She doesn’t get stressed out. She stresses other people out. So I knew something was up. What could be making Gloria nervous?
“We need guidance,” she said.
“About?” I asked.
“Kara was married to a Terran. You are married to a Supremis. Sharon has two Terran girlfriends who know she is a Supremis.”
“Yes?” I prompted.
“Mona and I want more permanent arrangements with Harold and Harvey. We want to live with them.”
“The four of you together?”
“No. I want to live with Harvey. Mona wants to live with Harold.”
“How do Harvey and Harold feel about it?”
Mona giggled. Gloria said, “They are Terran men with Supremis girlfriends. Of course they want us to live with them. They would be deficient if they didn’t.”
“Do they know they have Supremis girlfriends?”
“No,” said Mona, “they don’t.”
Two thoughts entered my mind at about the same time. First, Xara and I could have the house to ourselves. No downside to that.
Second, what would Kara say about it? They both work for her. They both owe their lives to her. They would need her approval and wouldn’t dare cross her if she said no.
“You’re asking for my guidance because you don’t know how to approach Kara about this.”
Gloria let out a long breath. I didn’t realize she had been holding it.
“Yes,” Gloria said, “we want you to tell us how we should tell her.”
On the one hand, I really should let this be between the two Arions and Kara. On the other hand, Xara and I could have the house to ourselves. It was a conundrum.
“Your statement positions the question very clearly.”
“What do you mean?” asked Gloria.
“You want to know how to tell Kara, not how to ask her.”
They looked at each other. Then Gloria said, “Perhaps telling her isn’t the correct approach. Do you think we should ask her permission?”
“No, I think you should approach her as if the questioned is already settled.”
“So we should tell her.”
“Not quite ...
“Kara, we are moving in with our boyfriends. How should we arrange communication with you and how do you suggest we should approach our duties in light of our new living arrangements?”
“Very good, Joe. That’s what we will say to her.”
Mona nodded her agreement.
“Uh, no, Gloria. Use your own words. And be subtle.”
“I’m always subtle.”
I wasn’t going to argue that with her. With Gloria, it’s always best to avoid an argument with her, especially when it comes to her self-assessment of her personality.
“Why don’t we wait for Xara to get back and the four of us can discuss it. I’m sure she’ll have some insights for you on how to deal with Kara.”
“Yes,” said Gloria, “that would be best. You and Xara together know how to get Kara to agree to what you want.”
“She let Xara marry you.”
“Gloria, have you met Xara? Do you think Kara would have any say in that?”
“She thought she did.”
“That, I think, would be a surprise to Xara. Best we don’t bring it up.”
While Gloria and Mona pondered that I put my dishes in the sink for Rosey and then went to the Western bookstore to buy Xara’s books. I’d never paid for her books before. The amount they cost was startling. With Xara’s reading speed and memory, I wondered why she didn’t just read them in the bookstore, or the library, memorize them and save the money. But she asked me to buy them, so I bought them.
There were several students and staff in the bookstore. I don’t spend a lot of time on campus, so I’m not really known there, and I got a lot of looks, due to my looks. I’m used to it, and wouldn’t be bringing it up, except the young lady at the cash register asked, “Were you a soldier or a Marine?”
“Soldier,” I said, “I still am.”
“My brother was in the Marines. He died in Afghanistan.”
“I am so sorry,” I said.
“Where were you hurt?”
“Thank you for your service, and I’m sorry you were hurt.”
“I’m very sorry you lost your brother. What was his name?”
She told me.
“Where is he interred?”
“He’s at Tahoma National Cemetery. We were offered Arlington, but my parents wanted him to be close to us. What’s your name?”
“Joe Ricci. Staff Sgt. Joseph Ricci.”
“I’ll tell my parents I met you, Staff Sgt. We’ll pray for you.”
“Thank you,” I said. And I left as a tear rolled down her cheek.
“Damn, Ricci,” said Johnson, “it’s so sad that she lost her brother.”
“Yeah,” said Dixon, “she’s too young to be carrying that pain with her.”
I didn’t disagree.
I got home and put Xara’s books away. Gloria and Mona were gone. Rosey had done the dishes and was vacuuming in one of the guest bedrooms. I didn’t have to be back at work yet. I knew Colonel Moore was working, but I didn’t want to call her; I didn’t want to answer awkward questions about Sharon and Deb.
That’s something I didn’t know what to do about. She’s my commanding officer, and Sharon is a Velorian I work with. The drama … I just didn’t want to be involved.
About 4pm I got a call from Xara.
“Hi yourself, did you have a good rest?”
“I did, how was your day?”
“I bought your books and Mona and Gloria want to move in with their boyfriends.”
“All four of them live together?”
“That’s what I asked. No. Gloria wants to move in with Harvey and Mona wants to move in with Harold.”
“What do Harvey and Harold think about that?”
“They are enthusiastic, apparently. Gloria said they would be ‘deficient’ if they didn’t want them to move in. But they don’t know how to approach your mother with it. They wanted me to advise them.”
“What did you say?”
“I told them to talk to Kara like it was a done deal and they wanted her input on how to manage their working relationship with her with regard to their new living arrangements.”
“That sounds like a good idea.”
“Yeah, but they need to be subtle about it. Gloria needs to be subtle about it. And she thinks you had permission from your mom to marry me.”
“Mom does too.”
“Really? You asked Kara for permission to marry me?”
“No, but she thinks I did.”
“That’s what Gloria said. Anyway, I told them they should wait until you get home and the four of us could talk about it together.”
“Okay. We can do that. I guess we could have given Gloria that air fryer.
“What’s bothering you?”
“What do you mean?”
“I sense a sadness in you. Tell me.”
“The girl who checked me out at the bookstore asked if I was a soldier. Her brother was killed in Afghanistan. She asked for my name and told me she would tell her parents about me, and they’d pray for me.”
I wanted to change the subject.
“Have you found any interesting asteroids yet?”
“Not really. I’ve seen a few, but they’re hundreds of thousands of miles apart, so finding one to suit my purposes might take a while.”
“They’re that far apart? Why don’t you go to the main part of the asteroid belt?”
“I’m in the main part, Joe. There are millions of asteroids, but space is huge. It’s a long way from one to the other.”
“I had no idea. Will you be home before school starts?”
She laughed. In the connection. It’s a unique experience.
“Of course, silly.”
Xara went back to searching for asteroids and I went on with my day, had dinner, and went to bed early.
“Joe! Wake up! Wake up!”
I sat straight up in bed and looked around. I was alone. What the hell was going on?
“It’s me Joe.”
“Yes. Get up and walk around, I need you awake and alert.”
I got up and walked around, turned on the lights. I could feel Xara’s impatience, in my head.
“Okay, I’m awake now. What’s the emergency?”
“Arions! Joe, get mom on the phone with you now!”
I pressed the emergency call button on my watch. I felt it vibrate, indicating that Kara was listening.
“Kara, call me. Xara’s … something about Arions and it is urgent.”
My phone rang seconds later.
“Yes Joseph. What is so urgent at 3am in the morning?”
“Tell her I’ve spotted a small Arion ship on a course that will bring it to Terra.”
I told her.
“Ask Xara how close it is to Terra.”
Xara, of course, heard the question and immediately answered, “It’s passing through the asteroid belt.”
I relayed that to Kara.
“Joseph, I’m on my way to you. Juliet and Bri-an will join us. Is Gloria at your house?”
“No, she’s with Harvey.”
“Tell her to come to your house.”
“Should I contact Colonel Moore?”
“Not yet.” And then she hung up on me.
I called Gloria and told her she needed to get to my house ASAP per Kara. I didn’t say why over the phone.
Gloria arrived ten minutes later with Mona. Twenty minutes after that Kara, Juliet and Bri-an arrived, followed closely by Sharon.
“Okay, Xara, everyone is here.”
“Okay. I’m tracking a small Arion ship, uncloaked, through the asteroid belt on an intercept course with Terra.”
She paused. I waited for her to continue.
“Tell them, Joe.”
I told them.
“Mona,” said Gloria, “make coffee for Joe.”
“Thank you,” I said.
“There are two Arions aboard, a male Beta and a female Prime.”
I repeated that for the ladies.
Gloria asked, “How does she know they are a Prime and a Beta?”
“Because they are having sex, and the Prime is riding the Beta and she’s in complete control.”
I repeated what she had said.
Kara said, “We aren’t letting a Prime get to Terra.”
Xara said, “I understand that. I just wanted her to know the situation before I attacked.”
I repeated that then asked her, “How do you plan to attack?”
“Joe, I believe I’m powerful enough to melt a piece of Vendorian steel the size of this craft in seconds.”
I passed that on and then Kara said, “Do it.”
“Wait!” I shouted.
The ladies all looked at me. I felt Xara looking at me, if that’s possible, through the connection.
“We don’t know what their mission is. We don’t know if they are linking up with someone on earth or setting up a new cell or whatever else they might be doing. We should capture and interrogate them,” I said.
“Who is this ‘we’ you speak of Joe?” asked Xara in the connection.
I told them what she said, which had all the ladies nodding.
“Joseph,” said Kara, “a Prime isn’t going to give up her secrets and she’ll fight to the death.”
“Well, what about capturing the Beta?”
Xara reacted in the connection. She didn’t say anything, she just reacted, and the reaction felt like, “don’t be an idiot, idiot.”
Bri-an said, “That’s right, the Prime will fight to the death and before the Prime realizes she is in a fight, the Beta will be dead.”
“That’s right, Joe. If I breach the hull of that ship the Beta is going to suffocate. Even if I wanted to capture him, there is no way I could do that while the Prime is alive. And if the Prime is dead, the Beta would surely dead already.”
I said, “Okay, Xara. You’re right.”
“What is she right about?” asked Sharon.
“She explained to me that there is no way for the Beta to survive if she engages the Prime.
“Okay,” I said. “Is it possible to take out the Prime without destroying the ship? There may be valuable intelligence Xara can collect.”
“Xara’s the one who has to do this. It’s up to her,” said Kara.
“I’m going to melt an entryway into the ship. Once in the ship I can take on the Prime and if there is anything left after I’ve killed her, I can go through it and bring it home.”
I repeated this to the group. Kara said, “Make your plan, then execute it Xara. May victory be yours.”
“May victory be yours,” repeated the other Velorians in the room.
“They’ve stopped having sex. The Beta looks like he’s worn out. He’s completely lost his erection … nope, the Prime just released pheromones. They’re going at it again. I’m going in. Joe, I’ll show you what I’m seeing, but if I break the connection, it’s because I have to concentrate on the fight.”
“Understood. Go get her Xara.”
And my wife launched herself at the Arion ship. And suddenly I was seeing the ship through her eyes. And I started telling the group what was happening. But what was happening was … Xara was accelerating towards the ship. And I didn’t realize how far away the ship was from her. It took her an hour to close the distance and then she had to decelerate again so she didn’t just blast right through it and destroy everything.
When she was several hundred meters from the ship the visual signal from her started getting screwy, there were ‘colors’ I didn’t recognize, and I started feeling anxious.
“Oh, sorry darling. That’s my heat vision. I’ll clean up the view for you.”
And then the view was cleaned up and I saw a hole forming in the ship.
“I’m melting through the external hatch of an airlock.”
I tried to keep the others up to speed, but it was getting difficult now, because my heart was racing, and it was hard to concentrate on what I was seeing while telling the others what was going on.
Xara entered the airlock through the hole she made. Then she sank her fingers into the steel of the inner hatch and tore her way through it. It was really fast and suddenly ‘stuff’, whatever wasn’t fastened down, started flying into her and past her as the ship’s atmosphere was vented into space. That part happened very quickly.
Then Xara was inside the ship. She took a few steps around a corner and there was the Prime, holding the Beta in one arm, bracing herself against a bulkhead with a leg, and trying to get a mask over the head of the Beta with her other arm. She must have been too stunned to realize she was under attack because she never turned around to see Xara coming at her.
And in seconds it was over. Xara quite literally turned the head of the Prime all the way around, 360°, and though I couldn’t hear anything, I could feel, through Xara’s hands, the bones in the Prime’s neck break. I told the ladies in the room with me, and they were incredulous.
“Joseph,” said Kara, “a one on one fight with a Prime is not over that quickly. The amount of force it would take to break the neck of a living Prime …”
“Tell her that might not be possible for a Velorian, but for a Galen, it is.”
“She says a Galen can kill a Prime that quickly.”
Everyone in the room was silent.
Then Xara was outside the ship heading towards an expanding cloud of debris.
“I’m going to collect everything I can, starting with the stuff that flew out the hole I made. Then I’ll start going through the ship. I could use some help.”
I passed it on. Kara said, “Have her give us the coordinates of where to meet her and the course.”
Xara heard that and began rattling off a series of numbers, in Velorian. I repeated it, but made a mistake, so Xara gave it to me slower. Then asked that the ladies repeat it back to her.
Kara pointed to Juliet and Bri-an, and they repeated the coordinates back. Xara confirmed that they were correct. Kara said, “I’m sending Bri-an and Juliet to you.”
“Have them each bring one of my pods.”
I repeated that and Bri-an and Juliet disappeared downstairs into the lair, then out the pressure door into the lake.
“The coordinates and course I gave them will let them intercept me and the ship closer to the orbit of Mars. I’m going to gather as much of this debris up as I can and put it in the ship, then start pushing the ship to our meet up point.”
I repeated that to Kara, but she waved me off. “I know what she’s doing, Joseph.”
“Okay. Should I be doing anything?”
“Yes. Wake up Colonel Moore. Tell her we’ve intercepted an Arion vessel with two crew members, now deceased, and that we will be bringing in whatever we can recover that may have intelligence value.
“And Joseph, I want you connected to Xara while she searches the ship. You may recognize something that would be of value that she wouldn’t.”
“I heard that darling. Get some rest, I’m going to be gathering up debris for a while.”
I told Kara what she said.
“Kara,” said Sharon, “I think we should help Joe relax, so he’ll get some sleep.”
Xara heard that in the connection and laughed. It is a unique experience.
“Um, ladies, …”
“Just let them do it, Joe. You’ll sleep much better. I can tell you are too excited now to get any sleep. And Gloria made that coffee much too strong!”
“Xara told me resistance is futile,” I said to Sharon and Kara. “But if I’m calling Colonel Moore …”
“You can do that later,” Joseph.
And that’s how it came to pass that I was double teamed by one Velorian who is my wife’s mother and another who my wife thinks of as an aunt. And much to my surprise, they didn’t insist on going at it until they each had multiple orgasms. One each and they made sure I was relaxed enough to go to sleep.
At 7am Kara woke me up and told me to get dressed, eat and then call Colonel Moore. I did as I was told and called the Colonel from the lair. It was 10:30am in her time zone when I called. Kara directed Sharon to be on the line with me to handle any questions Kara didn’t want the Colonel to have a direct answer to.
Why Sharon? Kara thought Sharon would be able to leverage their personal connection if the Colonel became, in Kara’s words, ‘difficult.’
So I got her on the line. The direct line between the two of us.
“Yes, Staff Sgt.”
“Colonel, is your location secure?”
“Just a moment, Staff Sgt.”
“We are now secure.”
“Colonel, I have Sharon with me. Kara has directed me to tell you that an Arion ship has been intercepted in our solar system. There were two Arion crew members on board, they are both KIA.”
“Beta’s or Primes?”
“One of each,” I replied.
“I assume this was a Velorian interception?”
“Please request that the ship be delivered to Earth, at a location you will be given.”
Sharon shook her head.
“That is a negative, Colonel. The Velorians will not be bringing the ship to Earth.”
“Damnit! What will they give us?”
“They will search the ship for intelligence and determine if any should be turned over to us.”
“That’s vague, Staff Sgt.”
“Yes mam, it is.”
“How long will their intelligence gathering take?”
“Sarah, this is Sharon. I wouldn’t expect anything to be brought back to Terra in less than three days, maybe longer.”
“Why that long?”
“The ship is a long way off.”
“Where, exactly, is it?”
Sharon looked at me and nodded.
“It was intercepted in the asteroid belt, Colonel,” I replied.
“And if there is anything recovered that can’t handle extreme acceleration, we’ll have to take our time getting it here,” said Sharon.
“Are you going to participate in the recovery?” Colonel Moore asked Sharon.
“No,” said Sharon. “In my role as a Scribe, that isn’t allowed. Kara is directing Xara, Juliette and Bri-an to recover what they can.”
“How was the ship intercepted?” asked the Colonel.
Sharon shrugged her shoulders.
“Xara was out testing herself,” I replied, “and she saw the ship. It was not cloaked.”
“Testing herself? What does that mean?”
Sharon took this one.
“Xara doesn’t know the extent of her strength and abilities, so she tests herself from time to time. The asteroid belt is a safe place for her to do that.”
“Staff Sgt., I assume Xara is able to communicate with you over this distance. Is that correct?”
“Yes, Colonel, it is.”
“What else can you tell me, Staff Sgt.?”
Sharon shook her head.
“At this time, that is all the information I am authorized to give you, Colonel.”
“Very well, Staff Sgt. Call me if you develop any more information that you can give me. Goodbye.”
“That last sounded a bit icy,” said Sharon. “I’m going to visit her to see if I can smooth over any ruffled feathers.”
Like hell. Sharon wanted to get between the sheets with Colonel Moore. But I was good, I didn’t point that out.
“Probably for the best.”
“Oh! You were listening?”
“Yes, sorry I didn’t tell you.”
“Joe, I need to talk to Gloria and Mona.”
They were upstairs. We have an intercom. I pressed the button and asked them to come down. Sharon left. I assume to see Colonel Moore.
“Xara wants to talk to you guys,” I said to Mona and Gloria when they came down.
“It’s about this ship; I’ve never seen one like it.”
She says it’s about the ship.
Xara described it to me as she showed it to me. I had to remain sitting and hold on to the arms of my chair. Seeing things float around … it was disorienting, but I was able to pass on her remarks to Mona and Gloria.
After describing everything she saw, she asked Gloria what kind of ship it was.
“From your description it sounds like a small shuttle. You said it wasn’t cloaked. I’m drawing a symbol; I want you to look for it on the instrument panels.”
Gloria showed me the symbol.
“I don’t see it.”
“She doesn’t see it.”
“Then this ship isn’t equipped with a cloaking device. Is there a galley? Are there bunks?”
“There is a mattress stored in a locker and what I’d call a refrigerator stocked with food. Ooh, it has Arion bushnick. This stuff is good!”
“It sounds like they hot bunk. And Xara found a refrigerator and is pigging out on Arion bushnick. What’s bushnick?”
“It’s an Arion confection and I am not pigging out!”
“It’s an Arion desert. It is delicious. Tell her to save some for me and Mona.”
“Tell her I will.”
“Don’t let the other blondes see it. There will be none left for me and Mona.”
“Agreed! But they have to share it with me.”
“She says she’ll hide it if you guys share it with her.”
“We’ll do that!” said Mona.
Gloria drew a set of symbols for me to look at.
“I don’t see any of those symbols anywhere.”
“Those symbols represent weapons systems. The ship is unarmed.”
“I did find small arms. Two GAR pistols and two extra power cells. Nothing more.”
“Gloria,” I asked, “if the ship isn’t armed, and there is no cloaking system, how would they avoid detection if it was headed for here, and how would it defend itself if it was found?”
“Ask Xara to exit the ship and emit microwaves onto the hull. When she does, does it get hot?”
“No, it doesn’t. It appears to be absorbing the radiation. If I increase the intensity way up, it starts to get hot.”
I passed that on.
“Then,” said Gloria, “it has a radiation absorbing hull. Are there any angles? Or is everything rounded?”
“Rounded,” she replied.
“Rounded,” I repeated.
Gloria said, “It is configured to absorb radiation. The radiation used by Terran RADAR, for certain, maybe other kinds.”
“So,” I said, “they expected to avoid RADAR, but could be seen in visible light. It sounds like our own Air Forces stealth technology.”
“Yes,” said Gloria, “cheap but effective enough to avoid detection by low technology civilizations. It probably is built to mask infrared radiation also. As for defending itself, even small shuttle craft are nimble enough and fast enough to avoid anything Terra has.”
“So, no heat seeking detectors would see it,” I said. “And if it was sighted, it could run.”
“That is correct,” said Gloria.
“I was able to gather the debris that blew out of the ship when I vented it. There isn’t anything of interest, but I put it back in the ship. It will be there when we dispose of it.”
“How are you going to dispose of it?”
“I’m going to send it on a path to Jupiter.”
Well, Xara did miss the first two days of classes. She had me call the biology department and give them an excuse about being in Mexico and missing her flight. They bought it. They didn’t even ask why I wasn’t with her.
They didn’t get a lot from the ship. Everything they brought back fit easily into the two pods. Kara directed them to bring them to the lair. I was waiting for them when they came out of the pressure room, the one that lets them enter and exit via the lake.
They opened the pods up and we began going through the contents. They recovered the two GAR pistols and their power cells. There were several electronic devices that Gloria would look at and identify. While they were unpacking, Xara excused herself and went upstairs. I didn’t find out until later that she had hidden the bushnick in her cape and was depositing it into our boat. Interestingly, neither Bri-an nor Juliet thought there was anything unusual going on and didn’t bother to look to see where she was going. When Xara returned, she was wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
There were several crystals that contained encrypted data, and Gloria was not at all optimistic that we would be able to break the encryption. There were also two portable communication devices, but without having their activation codes we couldn’t use them to detect anything but random static. There were also small explosive devices. Gloria said they were probably meant to be used as self-destruct devices, to destroy the communications equipment if necessary. She pointed out the fuses that would be used to detonate them and said as long as the fuses were not inserted into the explosives, and they weren’t, they were harmless.
We did, however, recover some surprising documents:
- A U.S. Passport
- A Tennessee Driver’s License
- Handwritten pages from a personal journal or diary
We all huddled around the diary pages while Gloria and Mona translated them. Actually, any of the blondes could have translated them, and I can read Arion, a bit. But it just seemed right to let the Arions do the translation.
The Prime, a female with code name, ’The Assistant,’ was to meet with another Arion female Prime code named, ‘The Doctor.’ Her cover was that she was ‘The Doctor’s’ cousin and was going to visit her and help her in her medical practice.
Her mission was to study the techniques and methods ‘The Doctor’ was using to:
- Establish herself as a community member
- Build her medical practice
- Gain the confidence of the people
- Gain the confidence of the local church
- Infiltrate the government and secure an elected position
- Degrade the influence of organized crime for the benefit of the citizenry
- Fight union corruption for the benefit of the union members
Gloria said it was surprising that she would have written this down on paper. It was a major breach of protocol.
There were also some more personal passages. ‘The Assistant’ had orders not to kill or harm any Terrans unless directed to do so by ‘The Doctor.’
There was one passage that was … explicit …?
“I am not allowed to harm any Terrans without orders. Since ‘The Doctor’ is also female, and I don’t know her sexual preferences, it will likely be necessary to gain sexual release by masturbating with Terrans. But I must do so without harming them.
“Since the government has declared that Betas are not to be killed or harmed without cause for the duration of the war, I have decided to teach myself to masturbate with my Betan pilot, without harming him.
“It is my hope that if I can learn to do this with a Beta, I may also be able to masturbate with a Terran without killing or harming it. I am happy to say that so far, on this trip to Terra, I have used the Beta several times and have not harmed him in any way.
“At first, he was reluctant to cooperate. But I easily broke down his resistance in the usual way and not only did I not harm him, he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.”
There wasn’t any more. Xara called her mother, her mother called Sharon, we all, Arions, Velorians and myself discussed the material and agreed that I would fill in Colonel Moore on the details of the Prime’s mission. So I took Gloria’s translation of the Prime’s mission objectives, typed them up and sent them to Colonel Moore via a secure channel.
She was ecstatic. And alarmed. Here was proof that an Arion had established herself as a doctor on American soil and had gotten herself elected to some government position.
I flew back to D.C. to meet with Colonel Moore and brief the FBI on what we had found. The FBI had a lot of questions, we, Colonel Moore and I, didn’t have a lot of answers. But we hoped, and the FBI was certain, that it would be relatively straight forward to identify female physicians who also held elective office.
They also checked out the address from the passport and license. The address was a vacant lot in Nashville. The passport and license were fakes, but they were exceptionally high quality fakes.
I reported back to Kara, and she became concerned about the FBI’s exuberance, so she had Colonel Moore arrange a meeting at the Pentagon to go over the agreement she had with the government and to impress upon the FBI how dangerous it would be to attempt to apprehend an Arion Prime. She got them to agree, reluctantly, to inform her if they located the Prime and not to attempt to apprehend her. I was there, in the room. Everyone from the government had been briefed on Supremis abilities, but Kara wasn’t convinced they all understood. So, she asked to be taken to a secure firing range for a demonstration. The FBI took her to theirs and kicked out everyone not read in on the Supremis. She took her clothes off, she wasn’t wearing her flight suit underneath, so she was naked. She stood at the end of the firing range and invited the agents to shoot her.
They didn’t want to. I understood. So I asked one of them to give me his service weapon. I didn’t like doing this either, but I took aim at Kara and fired three rounds at her mid-section. They all bounced off. She picked up the bullets and floated to the FBI agents and showed them to them.
They were incredulous. I think part of the problem was a lack of blood flow to their brains. Kara was there, she was beautiful, and she was naked. The men in the room were at a huge disadvantage. The women, not so much, but they still didn’t fully understand. So I asked for an automatic weapon. They brought me an M-16. I wondered, for a second, why they still were using those instead of M-4’s, but just shrugged my shoulders and loaded a 20 round magazine.
Kara smiled and floated to the end of the range, and I took aim and emptied a full magazine into her. Then I handed the M-16 to an agent and asked for a sniper rifle.
They brought me a high powered rifle I wasn’t familiar with. But it had a barrel and a trigger and a nice optical sight and was chambered for a .308 Winchester round.
I fired once, and the bullet bounced off Kara. I fired a second time, and she caught the bullet in mid-air and tossed it back to me.
One of the FBI agents said he wanted me to try out one more weapon on her. He disappeared for about five minutes and came back with a Barrett 82A1 that fires a .50 caliber BMG round. He handed me a magazine with ten rounds in it. I looked at the rifle and wondered what the hell the FBI was doing with it. I’d never fired one and I wondered if the recoil would dislocate my shoulder.
“Will the recoil dislocate my shoulder?”
The FBI agents all laughed and told me the recoil is much milder than one would think just looking at it.
So, I loaded a round and shot Kara. I aimed for her belly button. The bullet crushed itself against her abdomen and bounced onto the floor in front of her. I fired a second round and this time she twisted her hips just a little bit and the round ricocheted off her and into a wall. I fired a third round and Kara squatted down, really fast, too fast to see, then slowly stood up and spit the spent bullet out of her mouth.
Then she floated back up to me and took the rifle from me. She asked one of the FBI agents how much it cost. She said it cost about $9,000. Kara went to her purse and pulled out a business card, handed it to the agent and said, “Bill me for it.”
Then she removed the bolt and crushed it in her hand, then rolled it into a sphere. Then took off the barrel and folded it over and over and when it was small enough to fit in her hand, she squeezed it so hard that molten steel dripped out of her hand and onto the ground.
Then she laid the rest of the rifle onto the ground and destroyed it with her heat vision.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” she said, “what you just saw me do was trivially easy for me. The bullets Staff Sgt. Ricci shot at me did not hurt a bit. They didn’t even tickle me.
“A Prime would shrug off your best weapons as easily as I did. What I did to the rifle she would do to your bodies without a second thought.”
One of the FBI agents said, “We get it. When we find her, we’ll keep our distance and contact you.”
Kara joined me in my rented car and directed me back to her hotel where she retrieved her flight suit. Then she canceled my flight reservation and booked two seats on another flight in first class and flew back to SeaTac with me.
On the way to the airport, she said, “Joseph I could hear your heart racing when you shot me. You were distressed.”
“Yes, Kara, I was.”
“Then why did you do it?”
“I knew what you were trying to impress upon them. Reading about the power of a Supremis is not the same as seeing it, and you and I both know what a Prime would do to any FBI agents that got in her way. They weren’t willing to shoot you, and the lesson had to be learned, so I did it.”
“Thank you, Jospeh.”
“You’re welcome,” I said.
“Joseph, your instincts were correct. Conducting her attack in a way that would allow Xara to search for intelligence paid off handsomely. I’m going to have to rethink my strategy and tactics going forward. I’ll include you in the process.”
“Thank you, Kara.”
“You’re welcome, Joseph.”
We made small talk after that. She told me the FBI had sized the problem, the problem of finding the Prime. There are about half a million politicians in elected office in the United States. There are between 1 million and 1.1 million active physicians in the country. So the intersection of those two groups would yield the number of people who had to be looked at. And a large portion of them, the males, could be ruled out. Throw in a few thousand more for recently retired physicians who sought office and the FBI thought they had a reasonable chance of finding ‘The Doctor’ soon.
Janelle was starting to wonder if she and NEC shared the same definition of the word, “soon.” Then, after waiting ten weeks, NEC asked her if she’d heard from the ship they had sent. She replied that she had not and asked when the ship had been dispatched. The answer was eight weeks prior. Janelle asked when the last contact had been made with the ship. NEC replied that the last contact was made six days after the ship left the region of Neptune’s orbit.
Janelle asked if NEC dispatched ships to search for it. The answer was yes, they had, and no sign of the ship had been found. Not even a debris field.
Neither NEC nor Janelle speculated, during their communications, that the Velorians were responsible, but Janelle thought it likely, and she knew NEC thought so too.