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Deep Down Inside - Part 42 - The Darkest Hour

Written by circes_cup :: [Saturday, 22 March 2014 14:26] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 22 March 2014 16:23]

PART 42 - The Darkest Hour



Warning: This is adult literature. If you’re not of a legal age to read this stuff, don’t.

Disclaimer: This is a work of pure fiction. No semblance between the characters described here and real individuals – living or dead – is implied or intended.



"Arrrgh," Vicky groaned as she slowly rolled out of bed. Her head felt as though someone had beaten it with a cinderblock. College hangovers, as bad as some of them had been, could not even hold a candle to this.

She found Alec – Tamara's favorite man – outside on the patio.

"What happened last night?" Vicky asked. "Did I drink too much?"

"No," Alec replied regretfully. "You destroyed a navy."

"Oh, fuck. I was hoping that was a dream." Vicky applied more pressure to her temples, trying to make the hangover go away. That was when she realized that something else was wrong. "Wait a minute. It's too quiet here."

Alec cast her a knowing glance, and then motioned to the roof of the house. Tamara was standing up there. Vicky felt too crappy to use her flight powers, so she dug her fingernails into the gutter. Metal crunched as she climbed up.

Everything around the mansion was dead silent – no people in front of their homes, no cars on the streets. It was a ghost town.

The area had been evacuated, Vicky finally realized. In the distance, helicopters buzzed as they patrolled what must have been the evacuation perimeter. Further still, traffic jams made clear the number of people trying to leave the area.

"Let me guess. They evacuated the people to get them away from … .us."

"They're scared," Tamara replied.

"They should be," Vicky lamented. She looked at Alec standing listlessly at the patio below. "The aliens are using us to slowly tear human civilization apart. We'll survive, perhaps for thousands of years. But them …" she motioned at Alec.

"The men don't have much time, do they?" Tamara asked. "They're too fragile for what is coming."

Vicky nodded. "Go spend some time with him – now, before the aliens return again. Tell Louisa and Kim to spend time with their men too. When the aliens begin returning with more frequency, there's won't be any chance for sentiment."

Tamara nodded, tentatively at first, and then with more vigor. She began to step away.

"I'm a monster, aren't I?" Vicky asked.

Her friend paused. "Don't be so hard on yourself. The aliens are the monsters. We're just their weapons. You probably have no more choice in the matter than a gun has in deciding whether to fire." Tamara reached for her friend, but she recoiled.

"What are you going to do now?" Tamara asked.

The Phoenix morning sun stabbed insistently at Vicky's retinas, almost as if it were calling out to her.

"I don't know," she rasped. "It's too bright out here to think."



Vicky floated in through the window of his house. She was glad, at least, to be out of the sun's bright, insistent light.

As she gazed at Jared's sleeping form, her breath caught in her throat. Vicky felt badly about having to wake him.

How stupid, she thought. I just decimated half a navy, and I feel reluctant to wake somebody up. It was one of the downsides, she realized, of being super. Lesser genetics would not have allowed her to force his window open so easily, or to walk with such delicacy. The creaking floorboards alone would have raised him.

"Huh?" he groaned, stirring at her touch on his shoulder. "Vicky, how did you get in--"

Her finger silenced him.

"Don't speak," she pleaded. "Just listen."

His lips stopped moving.

She gathered her voice. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everything I've done. I'm sorry for everything I've become. I'm a monster, and you were the first person to see it."

"Vicky, what are you talking about?"

"You'll see it on the news when you wake up – an entire fleet of warships, gone. I destroyed them all, Jared. The global sea level is a meter lower today because of the huge fucking hole the aliens left in the ocean floor. And you thought global warming was a big problem. Try global disappearance!"

"Vic-" he began disapprovingly, but she kept her finger on his lips.

"Don't say anything. You'll just make me hate myself more than I already do."

She didn't remember saying goodbye. She could only remember the blissful relief of escaping his penetrating gaze, of darting skyward into the wisps of high, unseeing clouds.



Alec marveled as the musculature of Tamara's back as she held the boulder in front of her. From the amount of strain that she showed, you would have thought she was holding a 20-once paperweight, not a 20-ton rock. It glowed red at the points where her hands supported it.

He circled around to her right side. The red glow of the rock carved in fine detail the remarkable lines of her body: biceps and forearms that were feminine and yet, as they supported the enormous boulder, chiseled with untold power; abdominal muscles that themselves resembled stones; buoyant tits that would tug at any man's attention. And most of all, that perfect, angelic face, with those endearing, baby blue eyes.

"Stop staring!" she giggled. "You're making me self conscious."


"I need to concentrate to get this temperature right for you," she admonished.

"I'm sure it will be perfect," he whispered, closing the gap with her. "Just like my favorite girl." He gently placed a kiss on her cheek and felt her body quiver. He ran a hand over her forearm and marveled again at its inhuman strength.

She gasped despite herself. "Stop messing with me, buster. Or I'm going to toss you next."

Tamara shoved the boulder away from her. Glowing red hot, it sailed away from them and landed in the middle of the lake. Steam hissed voluminously as the water temperature rose.

"Try it," she asked, nervously.

Her concern for him was touching. He stuck a toe in the water and nodded – just like a hot tub. He grabbed the champagne waded slowly in.

"You really did want this to be perfect for me, didn't you?" he asked, handing her the bottle.

"Mm-hmm," she affirmed. She pulled the cork out with her teeth, not bothering to remove the wire cage.

With her free arm, she swung him around. The view was fantastic: the lights of Phoenix twinkled in the distance, and turned the surface of the lake into a shifting, rippling blanket of bright color.

"We girls wanted to do something special for our favorite boys, while we still could. I believe Louisa took Chad to the mansion on the Black Sea."

"And Kim?"

"I don't know," Tamara replied, her eyes momentarily distant, "now that Roberto is gone."



Loneliness – Kim had never expected to feel the emotion again, after becoming so physically desirable. She could sleep with any man she wanted, that much was clear. But nobody was special to her any more. Roberto had played that role, but had succumbed to a drug overdose months back.

She rested her hands on the kitchen buffet. It happened to be the spot where she had first seduced Bob, who was now lying six feet under the earth. It was a fitting end for a crooked guy, no doubt. Her little seduction had left the girls fabulously wealthy, and had landed them with title to this awesome house. But it hadn't left her anyone to hold right now, in the girls' darkest hour.

On the buffet was a pile of mail for her. Mostly, it was offers for interviews, offers for modeling shoots, offers for movie roles. There was far less fan mail these days than there used to be.

But one envelope in particular stuck out to her. She bent it slightly in her hands and realized there must be a photograph inside. Opening it, there was a picture of the glass bauble she had traced on her stomach before the space tourism rescue, while she had been sitting on the patio with Vicky. A note was enclosed, too.

"I'm your biggest fan," it read. "when you rescued that space shuttle from orbit, I watched it over and over on TV. You had such poise, such confidence, to accompany that fantastic strength! I bought your glass sculpture on Ebay because it makes me think of you. Maybe someday you could visit? When I look at this, it gives me hope that maybe you will come before my time runs out. --Greg."

On the back of the note was the address of a hospital.



After all the negative media coverage, Kim had expected the hospital corridor to clear fearfully as she proceeded down it. Public opinion was turning against the girls, there was no question. But the hospital staff seemed to have been expecting her.

She found the door that Reception had indicated, and entered.

"Greg?" she asked. But she didn't have to. The glass bauble was dangling in the window.

He lit up with a smile. But the smile seemed only to emphasize the looseness of the skin on his face, as if someone had picked up a shroud in two places and allowed it to drape. Maybe he had been handsome once. He wasn't anymore.

"You came!" he exulted.

It was only then that she noticed news clippings tacked to a cork board near his hospital bed. The news clippings were all about her, she noted with embarrassment.

"What, uh, has brought you to the hospital, Greg?"

"AIDS," he said simply. "Or more specifically, an incredibly aggressive sarcoma. But AIDS caused the sarcoma so I guess it's the same thing."

"You look awfully young for AIDS." Kim regretted the comment as soon as it left her lips.

But he only smiled. "I'm eighteen now. But you're right. I didn't get it through sex. I got it through a hypodermic needle."

"Heroin?" Kim asked.

"It was a stupid teenage mistake," he said quietly. "As mistakes go, I should have just crashed the car into a mailbox like my brother. That, at least, wouldn't have killed me."

Speaking with a dying boy made her uncomfortable. But, she noticed, the glass bauble kept throwing scraps of light around the room. Part of her was in this room already, she admitted as the bauble tossed bright flashes of sun into her eyes. Part of her had been here for weeks. She was joined to him somehow, whether she liked it or not.

"I wish I could turn back the clock for you," she regretted, sitting on the side of his bed. "It's not one of my powers."

"I didn't expect you to," he smiled. "But you're even more beautiful than I imagined. Your sitting here with me brightens the whole place. And that IS one of your powers."

The effusive comments made her even more uncomfortable. She couldn't meet his eyes, and instead wound up casting her gaze downward. His hospital gown had swirls of magenta – more suited for a girl than a guy. It looked stupid on him, and made him appear even more feeble.

"I don't know what to say," Kim finally admitted.

The difficult pause that followed seemed to agree. But finally he spoke.

"There is something I wanted to ask you – something you could do for me."


"Make love to me."

Kim was offended.

"That's it?" she asked angrily as she rose from the bed. "That's the only reason you wanted me here? You send me a note about how much I inspire you. You clip little articles of me and tack them to a board in your hospital room, and give me the impression you admire me. But, no, you want me because of something else entirely – because of my immunity to your shit? I'm the only girl in the world that will let you dump your deadly virus into her bloodstream – the only girl in the world you can fuck with impunity, right?"

She stepped quickly toward the door.

"Besides," she continued icily, "you're not my type. Sex with me can leave even a Olympian on the brink of a heart attack. It would kill you."

"I know," he replied simply. "It would."

She stopped. It took her a moment to find her words. "You want to use me to commit suicide?"

"My life will soon end anyway. I wouldn’t call it suicide.”

She stood immobile.

"Let me ask you a question," he suggested.


"How much can you lift?"

"Uh, about a thousand tons pretty easily. More than two thousand if it's an emergency."

"That's … that's awesome," he whispered.

Awesome, she thought to herself? It scares the crap out of most guys.

"Look at me," he gestured at his own frail form. "My life is filled with weakness. I'm sick and tired of it. For months now, I've fantasized about, just once, touching a body that is immune to everything, indestructible – a body that packs ridiculous power, that can destroy whatever it wants, that fears nothing."

Kim felt her breath catch.

He continued, "When I'm carried from life to death, I would want nothing more than it to be carried across that threshold by superhuman arms, filled with unbelievably immense power."

"You prepared this speech for me didn't you?" Kim accused. But on the doorknob, her hand was starting to tremble.

"And look at this place." He waived a gaunt arm around. "It's ugly. And I've had enough ugly. You’ve sold more magazine covers than any other face in history. For months now, I've fantasized about, just once, seeing your extraordinary beauty in person. And now that I've see it, I realize that you are even more lovely than the photography could capture. When I expire, I don't want the last thing I see to be this ugly room. I want die staring into your perfect beauty."

She felt her hand hesitate longer on the doorknob. Kim tried to form words, but they didn't come.

"Only you can do this for me," he supplicated quietly. “No one else compares.”

She looked at the way the bedsheets draped over his frailty. It started to make sense to her now. Her voice was now soft. "This AIDS thing happened a number of years ago, didn't it?"

He nodded.

"And for years now, not a single girl has touched you, let alone made love to you."

He nodded, forcing a smile.

"I'd be your first, wouldn't I?"

"My first and my only."

The directness of his gentle gaze left her paralyzed.

"Kim, I don't want to leave the world in a cold room, making feeble little rasping sounds into this ugly mess of tubes. I want to leave the world boldly, in your overwhelming embrace – wrapped up in your incredible power, your sexiness, and the ecstatic warmth I feel when I look into your eyes. It's been a dream of mine for a long time now – the one hope that's kept me going."

Kim felt her fingers closing on the doorknob. She heard the CRUNCH of stainless steel as it crumpled under her enhanced muscles. She absently dug her hand further into the lock core and fused the door to its frame.

If anyone wanted to disturb them, Kim thought, they had better bring a battering ram.



Kim was wearing a simple dress of ribbed cotton – elastic material that clung to her full curves like a racecar to its track. She slipped her hands through the armholes, and pulled the dress over her enormous bust, the dress crackling with snapped elastic. Once clear, it fell of its own accord down to her waist, where two thumbs were needed to coax it over the swell of her hips. The swooshing sound when it hit the floor was partially masked by the audible gasp that escaped Greg's lips.

"Wow," he said reverently.

Kim appraised her body through the mirror of his involuntary reaction. She watched his eyes wander over the flowing lines of her legs – long, athletic, entirely without blemish. She saw him take in the unreal fitness of her abdomen, a six pack of genetically enhanced muscles without even a scrap of fat on it. And of course, he stared nearly breathless at her exuberant tits – two bowling-ball-sized orbs of flesh, soft and yet firm at the same time.

She stood at the foot of his bed in her naked glory. He was speechless.

Seeing his shocked reaction made her a tingle inside. She detected a wetness begin between her legs.

The hospital room would have been uncomfortably chilly to an unenhanced woman. But to her, the feel of coolness on her skin was enticing. Even the slightest movement of air over her nipples was painfully sensual. They hardened delightfully into rocks.

Fixing her gaze on Greg's eyes, she slowly climbed onto the foot of the bed, like a tigress stalking her prey.

Before she had even touched him, he tented the sheet with his erection. The sight of it was electrifying – a shameless salute to the magnitude of her erotic power. His arousal tugged at her mind like a magnet. She forced herself to crawl forward only slowly.

Once her knees were straddling his hips, his body sprang upward with surprising energy. She soon felt his lips over one of her nipples. Her chest exploded with erotic happiness.

"You can bite them," Kim invited. "You don't have to be gentle with me."

She felt his teeth sink into her with enough force to tear the flesh of a mortal human. It was more than any man had ever done to her nipples. An orgasm wracked her body – enough sensation to leave a mortal girl in a fit of grateful whimpers. But for Kim's advanced nervous system, as great as it felt, it was just the opening grace note of a symphony.

But she could tell that his heart was already strained: thump-thump-thump it pounded in her advanced hearing. "That felt awesome," she purred. "But let's slow it down a bit, for your sake." She lowered his head away from her.

Taking his hands in her own, she brought them to her thighs. She delighted in the feel of his fingernails as they raked slowly across her flesh.

"How strong are they?" he asked, feeling her thighs.

"You really want to know?" she replied. "Most guys don't want to talk about that stuff."

"I do."

"They have the strength of 10,000 men."

She heard him gasp involuntarily.

"And they're faster too."

"How fast?" he asked, as she drew his hands over her rounded ass cheeks.

"A casual jog for me is 200 miles per hour. But that's a pretty lame pace. Those legs can take me over the sound barrier if I feel like it, without ever using my flight skills. Do you like how they feel in your hands?"

"They're like marble, but warm. They're incredible."

"My body is yours to explore."

And he did. She felt his hands smooth themselves affectionately over her midriff, her lower back, and then finally back to her chest. As his hands grasped at her exuberant breasts, more delightful gusts of pleasure blew through her.

"I hear they store your power," he said as his fingers became lost in the fullness of her tits.

She nodded, a bashful look on her face. "Yes, but most guys don't want to talk about that, either. It really seems to freak them out."


"Those tits that you're holding – they store enough power to make any army regiment beg for mercy. I could blast your hands clear off your wrists right now. I could vaporize you head to toe – incinerate the whole hospital, in fact. The whole neighborhood. And I could unleash all manner of hell with only a simple thought. When guys hear that, it intimidates the crap out of them."

"It doesn't intimidate me," he replied.


"I'm dying, Kim. Everyone in the world is stronger than me. Other guys may cling to their strength, but I accepted my weakness long ago."

Ironically, even as he described his weakness, Kim heard a strange self-confidence in his words.

"You exceed me in every way Kim – stronger, faster, healthier, richer, sexier and the list goes on. You are, in every way, a superior being."

Bullshit, Kim thought to herself. But with her legs still straddling his ribcage, she looked into his eyes. They were dead serious.

"Kim, with your wealth and sheer strength you could be anywhere – do anything – in the world right now. You could have spent today dining on gourmet food in Paris, sunning yourself in the South of France and then dancing away the evening in Barcelona. But instead of doing all those things, you came to my hospital bed to be with me. I believe that makes me the luckiest guy in the world."

"I might be physically superior to you," she admitted. "But that mouth of yours can seduce a girl in thirty seconds flat. You ought to need a permit for that thing."

"This mouth of mine isn't done with you yet."

With her still straddling him, he began planting kisses down the length of her midriff. It tickled, and her taut abdomen bucked slightly at his touch. Lower and lower his kisses went.

She could hear his heartbeat thumping harder and faster with every passing moment. He was getting closer to the sweet musk that now dripped liberally between her legs. For a man's mind, she knew, the smell of this was like throwing gasoline on a fire. He would want her more than ever.

And indeed, she saw that his eyes had fixed hungrily on her sex. She felt a tremor of anticipation as slid down the bed slightly and ducked his head between her expectant thighs. She began to spread her knees wide, lowering herself down to his waiting mouth. Her knees stopped sliding momentarily when they encountered the aluminum rails on the side of the hospital bed. But with a twitch of Kim's thigh muscles, the rails collapsed with a SNAP.

"Promise you'll be rough with me?" she begged.

"I thought I already WAS rough with you," he responded wide-eyed.

"Be rougher. You can't hurt me."

She felt his tongue dance over her sex, and she shivered in delight. Then, without warning his teeth clamped down on her with vicious force. She squealed in delight. Below, she could feel her clit engorging slightly, forcing his jaw back open by a few millimeters. His jaw muscles were no match for the most vulnerable part of her, but nonetheless his earnest exertions felt heavenly. His tongue then danced in and out of her, sending reverberations through her.

He returned to her clit once more, and it was then that her mind simply exploded.

"OOOOAAAA!!!!!!!!!!" she exclaimed, as a titanic orgasm rocketed through her. All of her muscles involuntarily tensed, and she had to concentrate to avoid crushing him.

The afterglow of her erotic explosion burned brightly within her, and several moments passed before she could think again.

But with time, she recovered. It was his turn, she decided. Gently shifting her knees down his body. She raked her pussy along the length of his chest, leaving a trail of happy juices wherever she went. She brought her torso back in line with his still eager mouth.

"You, know," she purred as she raked her jaw-dropping curves over him. "There one special ability of mine you forgot to mention."

"Whaaa … what is that?"

She positioned her nether lips over the head of his cock and began to tease it. The look on his face was one of shock, unrestrained happiness.

"The muscles inside my pussy can do stuff to your cock – stuff they don't even have vocabulary words for."

He stared at her wide-eyed. "Like what?"

"Well," her syrupy voice replied. "You'll have to find out." Now sopping with need, slid blissfully down his shaft.

He was as hard as any man could be, she discovered – and there could be no truer testament to what his body thought of her. She gasped with grateful satisfaction as she felt his harness fill her.

He thrust his hips slowly at first, and then with increasing urgency. So turned-on was she that every thrust was its own orgasm, a mind-blowing wave of pleasure flowing across her body. She relished the pressure on her clit, the play of his hands on her skin, his hot and desperate breath on her neck. She matched the movement of his pelvis perfectly, and soon he was pounding her with athletic vigor.

It was long not before he came, too. She felt his body quiver with happiness under him.

"Happy first time, baby," she purred.

He stared back at her with wide eyes.

Kim could have taken hours more of this sex, but she knew he needed a break. Her vaginal muscles clenched slightly, a warm embrace that prevented his further movement. "take a breather, baby. For your sake."

In the stillness of their bodies, a moment of almost serene silence came over them. Kim's mind, however, was not entirely serene. Her superhuman hearing detected the out-of-control beating of his heart – too hard, too fast. The exertion had exceeded his whatever his body could take.

"Let's do it again," he said as panted, short of breath.

"I'm not sure you can handle …" her voice trailed off.

"I'm sure I can't." He planted a grateful kiss on her lips. "Everyone has to die. It's only the lucky ones that get to choose how."

"Are you sure?" she asked.

He nodded. "More than I've ever been."

With those words, Kim felt her misgivings slowly move aside. She lowered her lips to his ears. "My body, with its strength of armies, belongs to you."

Her whispered message instantly hardened his manhood enthusiastically, and he was once again thrusting back into her with new vigor. Boom-boom-boom-boom went his overtaxed heart, Kim heard.

Although her mind had been uncertain, her body was certainly not asking any questions. It eagerly receiving him, loving every inch of his cock, every thrust he made.

His eyes were wide with thrill and pleasure. She planted a kiss on his lips – deep and needful, it seemed to last forever. Then the thrusting resumed.

Then, he came again – and this time, hard.

Hearing his passionate scream made her explode in ecstasy with him. She felt him jettison everything into her – all his seed …

… and all the life that remained in his body. She heard his aorta rupture.

"Oh WOW," he remarked reverently, his eyes unfocused and distant. "So … .. beautiful."

In only moments, he fell still.

With gentle fingers, Kim lowered his eyelids. With the pleasant afterglow of their lovemaking still coursing through her, she gratefully kissed the creases of the smile that remained on his face.

"Thank you baby," she whispered. "You thought you were weak, but you had a strength that couldn't be measured in pounds. And now you've inspired me, too, you stud."



"Again?!" Louisa cried in frustration as the little white ball sank into her end zone of the foosball table. "How the hell are you beating me?"

Chad laughed as he gave his strikers a victorious spin. "Maybe you just suck," he offered.

"Grrrr!" She tried to look angry but the silly smile blew the effect.

"I like that," Chad taunted. "I think you're sexy when your angry."

"You think I'm sexy all the time." She let her smile broaden. It was true. "Vicky perfected us in a hundred different ways. But she forgot the foosball!"

"You'd be beating me hands down if you hadn't ripped your defensemen out."

That, too, was true. She had been careless at the outset and had ripped one of the bars out. It wouldn't go back in, leaving many of her "players" to dangle uselessly above the playing surface. Another of the bars had crumpled in her grip, rendering those players useless too. "I guess that's the problem with us girls. We end up destroying everything, even the stuff that's on our team."

Chad looked up from the little white ball, unsure of what to say.

"Come here," she suggested, taking his hand. "I want to show you something."

She led him down the stairs of the Black Sea mansion, past windows displaying the landscape of the area. Louisa and Tamara had fought a decisive two-girl battle on that land, bringing a foreign army to swift defeat. The charred and disrupted earth was a potent reminder of the immense power that now lightly held his hand.

She lead him past the dessert that Dimitri had thrown together for them, to the chairs in front of the crackling fire. She pushed him playfully down into the plush leather armchair, and then sat crossways on his lap – feet over one armrest, back against the other.

"Do you remember the last time we sat in front of a fire?" she asked.

The orange light danced delightfully across her flawless complexion, her high cheekbones, those full lips shimmering with heat. The look in her eyes suggested she was waiting for something. Did she ask him a question?

"You're so male!" she laughed. "Your brain froze again. I'll answer it myself. The last time we sat by a fire was when you stabbed yourself."

"OK," Chad acknowledged, trying to muster his faculties.

A glint of steel flashed as she extracted the dagger from the bun in her hair. The light of the fire swam among her thick ebony curls as her hair tumbled out.

The dagger was extremely sharp, and using it for a hair pin would have shredded any other woman's hair. But as usual, Louisa was another matter, and even that part of her body was stronger than a dagger's steel.

"I came here to make a promise," she said, turning the dagger over in her hand.

The blade of the dagger glinted menacingly at him. He touched it briefly, and winced. A thin line of blood emerged on the tip of the finger that had felt it.

"You stabbed yourself for me. You endured torture for me." The deep brown of her eyes delved into him. "And I brought you here today to promise that never, never again would you suffer harm on my account."

"But Louisa, the aliens, when they come, you can't control …"

"I know," she replied. "But I'll have to find a way. There is no other choice. Harming you, baby, is not an option."

Louisa took the dagger to her mouth and ran its razor edge across the tip of her tongue. Chad heard a slight squeal. The knife edge that had just sliced him to bleeding was smashed under the force of her superhuman tongue. She smiled a bragging smile as the tip of her tongue ran the length of the blade, making a mockery of its sharpness.

She placed the dagger back in his hand, and he tentatively touched the blade again. It had been dulled, and now felt no more harmful than the side of a spoon.

"I want you to keep that as a symbol of my solemn vow to you." Her voice was low an sonorous. "The knife will no longer cut you. And I will no longer bring harm to you. I will find a way to protect you this time."

Chad took the dagger gently from her. "Whatever happens to me, I can die happy knowing that I had the most awesome girl in the world. With the most indestructible tongue."

He felt her fingers reaching for the buttons of his shirt. "If you thought the knife trick was impressive," she purred. "You ought to see what else my tongue can do."



Vicky craned her neck skyward, the evening's starry show on full display above her. The aliens are up there somewhere, she said to herself.

"Sleepless night?" asked a voice behind her.

Vicky jumped at the sound. She hadn't heard the footsteps approaching. Or, rather, she had, but had been preoccupied. She turned to find Ethan.

"Just trying to think of an alternative to the apocalypse. No big deal." She laughed at her own sarcasm, but it rang flat. "How about you?"

"Thinking about the same thing," Ethan replied, craning his neck to view the firmament above. "The stars – I wonder what the one above the horizon is called. It's really bright."

Vicky shifted her gaze toward the oranges and reds of the coming day, and the bright pinprick there. "They call it the Morning Star. But it's really just a planet: Venus. It's nearly as big as Earth, although its composition is very different."

"How do you know that?"

"I read every geology book in the library. The aliens …"

"… compelled you to," he finished. "Of course. You're more than just your protector. You're their eyes and ears. You gathered information on the earth's composition and sent it off to them."

Vicky dropped her head into her palms and nodded slowly. She grabbed handfuls of hair as she did so.

Ethan continued. "You're in communication with them, aren't you?"

More nodding.

"You know how they think."

"In a way," she groaned into her hands. "I keep wracking my brain for a way to beat them, but nothing is coming to me. These devices in our guts, the things that make us girls so powerful – to the aliens these are just trinkets that they had lying around the ship. The last two times they came back, it was with unarmed mining ships. They used us – the girls – for muscle. But if they came back with their real guns … well, I don't want to think about that."

Ethan thought for a moment. "If you can't beat them with force, maybe you can use deception – find a way to trick them into leaving us alone."

"They won't leave us alone until the Earth is completely destroyed."

He paused. "Maybe you can convince them that the Earth is already destroyed."

Vicky's brows furrowed uncertainly. "Like, fake the Earth's death? With what?"

But Ethan wasn't looking at her. He was looking at the Morning Star.

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