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Kiraling – Part 08 (Chapter 26-35)

Written by anonxyzus :: [Wednesday, 07 May 2014 03:34] Last updated by :: [Friday, 09 May 2014 08:19]

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Chapter 26

The weather was getting nicer and with just a few days left before I had to report to JBLM Dixon, Johnson and I decided that this would be a good time to go camping for a couple of days and try out my new knee. I was loading my camping gear into the car when Xara dropped out of the sky. “Whatcha doing Joe?”

“I thought I’d go camping and hiking for a few days.”

“Oh cool! Can I go with you?”

“Don’t you have to be in school Xara?”

“Umm, Memorial Day weekend Joe? I’m sure you’ve heard of it.”

“So it is.” I’d completely forgotten about it. That was one of the nice things about spending time at the cabin. I could forget about everything and just relax. “Is it okay with your mom?”

“I’ll ask her, can I use your phone?”

“Sure. You know where it is.” Hmm, no argument, no teenage rebellion. Things must be going pretty well between Xara and her mom. A couple of minutes later she came bounding out of the house, with a big smile on her face.

“Mom said yes. This is great Joe! I’ve never been camping before.”

“Really? Never?”

“Nope. Eric tried to get me to go with him a couple of times, but I was too busy being a bitch to him. I wish I had. But now I can go with you!”

“Okay. Let’s talk about this for a minute. My tent sleeps two, but I only have one pad and sleeping bag. And I don’t think you want to come across other campers and hikers wearing your flight suit.”

“Joe, just tell me what I need and where to meet you! Mom gave me a credit card!”

“Uh, you’ll run this by her, right?”

“Oh sure. What do I need?”

So I gave her a list. Sleeping bag. Hiking boots, socks, something to wear to keep her warm at night (she just rolled her eyes at that) and a few other odds and ends. I had an extra pack so she didn’t need that. I told her to meet me at the campground on Baker Lake.

It would take me about two hours to get there. I figured that would give me enough time to set up the tent and get lunch ready before Xara arrived. Wrong! I drove into the campground and she was there waiting for me.

“Did you have to wait very long for me?”

“No, only about 20 minutes.”

“What’s that?” I asked pointing to the cylindrical shaped thing she was sitting on. It looked a lot like a photon torpedo from one of the old Star Trek Movies, “Wrath of Kahn”.

“I don’t know what it’s called. I use it as a storage pod. It came from an Arion ship. When mom used to take them down she’d destroy them completely. Maybe toss them into Jupiter or the sun. After awhile she was talked into salvaging them, keeping the useful stuff. This pod is made of Vendorian steel, is stealthy enough to avoid radar detection, and can hold a lot of stuff. I put all my new camping gear in it. And the hatch requires hundreds of pounds of force to open, so we don’t have to worry about Terrans breaking into it and finding my flight suit.”

“Oh. Okay. That’s neat. Who talked her into it?”

“What?”

“You said your mom was talked into salvaging stuff from Arion ships. Who talked her into it?”

“Umm, I don’t think I should tell you Joe. Mom says you’ll be joining her organization. You’ll find out then.”

“You know Xara, telling me half the story and then telling me I’ll have to wait for the other half is not one of your more endearing characteristics.” She just smiled at me.

“You called it Vendorian steel. What’s that?”

“That’s steel made by a species that inhabited the planet Vendor. It’s much tougher than anything made on earth.”

“Inhabited? You said inhabited Vendor, past tense.”

“The Arions conquered their planet. The survivors are spread out all over the galaxy. They were a very technologically advanced race and the survivors took many of their secrets with them, including the process to make their steel. It’s highly sought after all over the galaxy.”

Christ Almighty, I learned something new about the universe every time I talk to one of these Velorians.

“Do you suppose we can put our food in the pod?”

“Sure. But why?”

“Bears. If they smell food they’ll tear apart anything to get to it, and they have very good noses. Usually I hang my food from a tree so I don’t have to worry about my car getting all scratched up.”

“Sure, we can do that. Speaking of food, are we going to eat soon?”

“Yep, as soon as I get camp set up.”

I started unloading the car and put down a tarp, then set the tent up on top of it. Xara was very interested and asked a lot of questions. When it came time to drive in the tent stakes I gave her a mallet. She looked at it for a few seconds and then put it down and proceeded to push the stakes into the ground, the hard ground, with her bare hands. It didn’t appear to take any more effort than it would me to push pins into a pin cushion.

After the tent was set up I set out a pair of lawn chairs and then my cooler and started to make sandwiches for lunch. I thought this would be a good time to talk about bathroom facilities, or the lack thereof. The campground had vaulted toilets but there’d just be trees to pee behind on the trail. I didn’t know how squeamish Xara would be about ‘roughing it’ and that is when I learned something new about Velorian biology. They are input only. Nothing comes out the other end. They don’t pee or poo. Everything they eat that isn’t used immediately for their metabolism is converted to ‘orgone energy’ (her term for it) and stored in their body. I didn’t think about it at the time, but later the implications occurred to me when I remembered Einstein’s equation, E=mc2. Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. That means that sandwich she ate was converted to a whole lot of energy.

I say the energy implications didn’t occur to me until later because other implications had occurred to Dixon and Johnson immediately, and they were discussing, between themselves, the best way to inquire of Xara as to whether she had an anus. I decided to leave that subject alone for awhile. Maybe a really long while.

After we ate I wanted to go for a hike. We put our food into her pod and she closed the hatch. I tried to open it. I mean really tried. I put my back and legs into it and couldn’t budge it. Xara, on the other hand, opened and closed it as easily as I opened and closed the lid of my cooler.

I asked her how she traveled with the pod. It looked pretty aerodynamic. She showed me where she sank her fingers into the steel to make handholds she could use when she flew with it. To me this kind of strength was mind boggling. But she talked about it like it was the most natural thing in the world. I suppose to her it is. She also said she had to play around with several pods, and destroyed a few, before she figured out how she could reenter the earth’s atmosphere without damaging them.

Chapter 27

There was nothing special about this hike. It was just a short walk in the woods, just a couple of hours. There wasn’t anything there I hadn’t seen before. But for Xara it was an entirely new experience. She told me she’d been all over the planet. She’d stood on the top of Mt. Everest and dived to the bottom of the Marianas Trench, “just to see what was there.” But she’d never gone for a long walk in the woods. She’d flown over plenty of forests. Or maybe all the forests. But she’d never really spent any real time in one at ground level, and she marveled at how beautiful it all was, how much wildlife there was to see and all the different scents. She could see and smell a lot more than I could. She pointed at a bird a good 400 yards away and asked me what species it was. I had no idea; all I could see were trees and branches.

Physically, my knee worked great. I had some work to do to get back into shape and was huffing and puffing a couple of times when the trail became steep. It didn’t bother Xara at all. I don’t think she broke a sweat all afternoon, and when we stopped for water breaks she would just take a few sips. I, on the other hand, worked up quite a sweat and drank a lot of water.

When we got back to our tent I suggested we go for a swim. I needed to cool down, and was getting pretty ripe from the exertion of the hike. I had put a swimming suit on her list, and while I changed in the tent she went to her pod to retrieve it. When I came out of the tent she went in to change.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “You’ve seen her naked. She’s seen you naked. Why all the modesty?” Well, I wasn’t on my meds. I didn’t want to embarrass myself or have her think I had any wrong ideas. Dixon and Johnson were making it clear to me that they had a lot of wrong ideas, which in and of itself struck me as a very good reason to go with modestly.

Xara came out of the tent wearing a beautiful one piece yellow bathing suit that she filled out so very, very well. After I managed to return my jaw to its upright and closed position we ran into the lake.

If you’ve ever gone swimming in late May in a mountain lake in the North Cascades you’ll know what I mean when I say my testicles tried to ascend back into my body. It was cold! Xara, on the other hand, wasn’t bothered by the cold water at all. She thought it was great. After about five minutes I decided that I’d had enough and came out of the water and went back to the tent to dry off and change. Xara said she’d stay in the water until she could have the tent.

I dried off and dressed quickly and came out. Xara called out to me from the lake and said, “Watch this!” As I watched, she dove under the water, and then came up slowly. First her head came out of the water, then her shoulders, and so on, until it looked like she was standing on the water. Then she walked across the water towards me. About half way to the shore she started doing the Electric Slide, the Moon Walk, and some other dance steps I don’t know the name of. She was having such a good time and had such a big smile on her face that I couldn’t help laughing. Then, before she got to the beach, she extended her arms out from her side and started to spin. At first she was spinning slowly, but then she started to speed up, until she was just a blur. Her spinning gradually slowed down, and she continued to walk towards me back onto land. She was completely dry. From the tips of her toes to the top of her head, including her hair, she was completely dry.

While she was changing in the tent I started a fire and got out my cooking gear for supper. After she changed she opened the pod for me and I pulled out a couple of cans of chili. She was very interested in the process of cooking over a campfire and watched everything I was doing very closely. While I cooked dinner I had her fill the five gallon water carrier at the faucet in the campground. When she got back dinner was ready and we sat down to eat.

You’d think canned chili would be no big deal, right? For Xara it was the best chili she’d ever eaten. It was the whole experience of camping out, eating on the lake, cooking over a campfire that was completely new to her and she loved it.

“If you think the chili is good, wait until after dark.”

“What happens after dark Joe?”

“It’s a surprise.”

While we were cleaning up after dinner the campground began to fill up with other campers and the quiet was interrupted by the sounds of moms and dads setting up tents and making dinner and kids running around to see who else was there. We had several young visitors drop by and ask us who we were, where we came from, and what happened to me. They weren’t obnoxious about it, just curious. I wasn’t about to tell eight-year olds about the horrors of war so I just said I’d had an accident.

When the sun went down it started getting cool, so I put on sweat pants and a sweater. Xara was happy and comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt. I built up the fire and walked over to the pod and announced it was time for the “surprise”. She opened the pod and I took the ingredients for the evening treat.

Xara’s eyes lit up and she asked, “What are we going to make with those?”

“Smores,” I said.

“Smores! Really! The kids at school have talked about them but I’ve never had one!”

She looks like a grown woman, but when presented with chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers she wasn’t too much different from the kids who had visited us earlier.

Speaking of kids, our campsite was near the toilets, so everyone heading that way could see what we were doing. Pretty soon a mom and dad came over with their kids and asked if they could join us. I said sure, and before long we were joined around the fire by three families who brought their smore makings with them. Xara introduced herself as my cousin, Danni.

We all roasted marshmallows around the fire and made and ate smores. As the evening wore on the adults started telling campfire stories for the kids. Xara was as into it as the kids were and by the time it was my turn she was snuggling a three year-old little girl in her lap. Late into the evening one of the kids alerted us to a shooting star, and then another one pointed to Jupiter and asked if it would fall too.

Xara said, “No, that’s a planet. It will stay up there.” And then went on to explain to the kids what shooting stars are. One of the little ones asked what a planet is and she told them, and then described Jupiter for them. It sounded to me like an eyewitness description.

At about 11:00 PM the other families left, some carrying sleeping children in their arms. Xara kissed the little girl she’d been holding on her forehead and gave her back to her father and then we were alone. We cleaned up the camp site, stored the left over food in Xara’s pod, and went into the tent to go to bed.

I told Xara that I had a double-wide air mattress and she only needed to get a sleeping bag. She went a bit over board, buying a sleeping bag that would keep a person warm down to about 15°. I didn’t ask her how much she paid for it.

We got into our sleeping bags, I reached up and turned off the lantern, and laid back to get some sleep. I was very tired. Xara, on the other hand, wasn’t tired at all. She talked about how much fun the hike was, how much fun the lake was, how much fun making smores with the little kids was and how happy she was that I took her along.

Then she started talking about wanting to get a kitten, but her mother didn’t like cats because of something Xara called a “kintzi”, and then suddenly changed the subject to boys. Apparently there was a contest going on at school between the captain of the football team, the captain of the basketball team, and the captain of the swimming team to see which one of them could take her to the prom and then “fuck me afterwards.”

“How do you know that Xara? Did they tell you?”

“No. I have very good hearing and pay attention whenever I hear someone mention my name.”

“Are you going to go with one of them?”

“Ha! In their dreams! I was thinking …”

At this point I started smelling, very faintly, honey and wildflowers.

“… that you could take me.”

Up until now Dixon and Johnson had been acting like they were bored. Suddenly they perked up. Dixon said “Dude! You could take her to the prom and fuck her afterwards!” Johnson agreed. I suddenly developed a raging hard on and figured if her pheromones were affecting me, they probably were affecting Dixon and Johnson too.

“Xara, are you using your pheromones on me?”

She sat up and looked down towards my crotch and then back at me and said, “Oh Joe! I’m so sorry! I wasn’t doing that on purpose, I promise. I can open up the tent to let it air out or …”

And I could just barely make out her hand and finger, in silhouette, pointing at my crotch.

“… I can help you with that.”

Johnson shouted, “Score!”

Dixon said, “Go for it man!”

I was tempted. Oh Lordy was I tempted! But I remembered that she was just 16 and that her mother was a friend who trusted me, and so with Dixon and Johnson practically screaming that I should take her I unzipped my sleeping bag and crawled out of the tent and ran into the lake. Amazingly, I stayed hard and feeling incredibly aroused even as I was shivering and feeling really, really cold.

You have no idea how hard it was to get out of that tent. Once, in Ramadi, I sutured closed my own wound without the benefit of anesthetic. That was hard. That was very hard, but not as hard as walking away from Xara’s offer.

After about five minutes I was calmed down. By that I mean my erection was gone. I went back to the camp site and sat down in one of the chairs, still shivering. Xara came out of the tent and said “I’m sorry Joe. I shouldn’t have let that happen. I’ll be more careful. You won’t have to worry about that. If you want, I can go home.”

She sounded so contrite and sorry that whatever anger I had left evaporated. I looked at her and said, “Yes.”

“Yes, you want me to leave?”

“No, I don’t want you to leave. Yes, I’ll go to the prom with you.”

You’ve heard the term, “jump for joy?” Maybe you’ve done that, or seen someone do it. Xara went up at least eight feet. She came down and put her arms around me and said, “Thank you.” Several times.

“Let’s not get too carried away Xara. I’m due back at JBLM and they’ll have a say in it.”

“I’ll talk to mom about it Joe. I’m sure she can fix it for you!”

I wondered how Kara would do that, but didn’t ask.

I pointed at the tent and asked, “Is it safe to go back in there?”

“Yes. I’m so sorry. It won’t happen again.”

“The let’s get a good night’s sleep and not worry about it. Can you get me a towel so I can dry off? I’m freezing my ass off out here.”

She said, “I can do better than that. Stand up.”

I did and she walked around me, using her heat vision until I was dried off and warmed up. Then we went back into the tent.

Chapter 28

We are standing in front of the door of a large house in Ramadi. The squad leader has planted the explosives on the door. I’m third in line behind Royce and Green. Dixon is behind me, Johnson behind Dixon, and the rest of the squad is behind them.

We blow the door and Royce enters with Green right behind him and are both immediately cut down. I come in third and kill the guy with the AK-47. My heart is pounding so hard it feels like it is going to jump out of my chest. I catch movement out of the corner of my eye and turn to fire but it’s just a woman huddled with three children. I check them out while the rest of the squad clears the rest of the first floor. The woman and children are clean.

With Royce and Green gone it is my turn to lead us up the stairs. We clear the second floor and then go up to the roof. No one there, but it has a great view of the rest of the street, and I tell our squad leader this looks like a good place for snipers to set up. He agrees and is about to call it in when an RPG round blows him apart and covers me with blood and gore.

Chapter 29

“Joe! Joe! Wake up!”

I sat up with a start. My heart was pounding. I was covered with sweat. And I was crying. It was just getting light out and I turned to see Xara sitting up with a look of concern on her face.

“Joe, you were screaming! What were you dreaming about?”

“Xara? What are you doing here? Where’s the medic?”

“Joe, where do you think we are?”

I looked around. We weren’t in Ramadi. I lay back down and tried to slow my breathing.

“We’re at Baker Lake, right?”

“Yes. What happened?”

“I had a nightmare. That happens sometimes when I don’t take my meds.” I sat up again and looked around. Dixon and Johnson weren’t there.

“Are you okay Joe? Do you need me to get your meds?

“No, I’ll be fine Xara. What time is it?”

“About 5:00. Are you sure you’ll be alright?”

She was scared. Damn it, my problems aren’t her problems. “I’ll be okay. Let me just lie back and sleep a little longer.”

I lay back, she didn’t. She was watching me closely. “Xara, I’m not going to be able to sleep if I you keep staring at me.”

She giggled nervously and lay back down. I quickly fell asleep again. And was back in Ramadi.

Chapter 30

I woke up at about 7:00 and sat up. Xara sat up with me and I asked her if she was hungry. She said she was. We left the tent and went to the pod and got out the makings for pancakes. We ate breakfast and we were cleaning up when a ranger and deputy sheriff drove up to our camp site. They said there had been reports of a marijuana growing operation in the area and asked if we’d seen anything and where we had been outside the campground. The deputy didn’t seem too interested in anything but looking at Xara. Washington had recently decriminalized marijuana but this part of the Cascades is on federal land, and so the ranger had to take an interest in it.

I showed the ranger where we had been hiking on a map, and where we were going today. He said to be careful, that some people had reported being shot at, probably warning shots, but not in the area we were going. He asked that we contact the sheriff or the Forest Service if we saw anything suspicious.

The deputy and ranger walked back to their truck and said something, and then the deputy started walking back to us. Xara whispered, “The deputy thinks you are taking advantage of me. Remember, we’re cousins and my name is Danni.”

The deputy asked me to accompany him back to the truck. He asked for my id and what my relationship, “to the young lady is.”

I gave him my id and said, “She’s my cousin, visiting from California.”

“What’s her name and how old is she?”

“Her name is Danni Banks and she’s 16.”

“Have you been screwing her?”

“What? No! She’s my cousin asshole.”

He didn’t like being called an asshole and told me I could be in a lot of trouble. Then he walked back to Xara and started talking to her. At first I couldn’t hear what they were saying and then Xara raised her voice, “Are you some kind of pervert! Besides being my cousin Joe is a perfect gentleman. Leave us alone!”

He said something back to her. She said, “No, I won’t give you my mother’s phone number. You don’t need to talk to her and I don’t need your permission to go camping with my cousin.”

He said something to her and she shouted, “Fuck off asshole!”

He didn’t like that at all. He came back to the truck and said, “If I can’t confirm your story I’m bringing you both in. You can sit in a cell until the courts open on Tuesday.”

I said, “You just need to talk to her mom?”

“Yeah, that would satisfy me. But she refuses to give me her number.”

I said, “I have her number in my cell phone.” And I pulled out my phone, looked up the number and gave the phone to him. Of course there isn’t any cell reception where we were, so he got on the radio and asked his dispatcher to call the number and ask for Mrs. Banks, and ask her if she knew where her daughter was.

We waited a couple of minutes and the dispatcher came back and said, “She says her daughter is camping with her cousin, a Joe Ricci, at Baker Lake. And she wants to know if anything is wrong.”

The deputy responded saying nothing is wrong, he was just checking us out. And then he and the ranger left.

Chapter 31

We finished cleaning up, packed a lunch and water and headed off into the woods for what I hoped would be an all day hike. I told Xara that I had gone looking for the cave where I met her, but it was destroyed.

“Do you really want to go back there?”

“Yeah. Well, I did. But since then you and your mom have answered a lot of the questions I had. Did you destroy it?”

“Mom did. We buried the Arions at the bottom of that pit and mom wanted to make sure they were never discovered. Is there anyplace else we could go?”

“If we stick to the hike we planned we’ll come across some great views, let’s do that.”

We hiked for about four hours and stopped for lunch. We were sitting on the remains of a downed tree eating our sandwiches and candy bars and talking when Xara suddenly looked up and said, “We’re about to have company.”

“How do you know?”

“I can hear them. They are trying to be quiet but I can still hear them.”

I pulled my Ruger out of my pack and asked, “Do I need this?”

“No, put it away. One of them said something to the others, it sounded like that deputy.”

I had just finished putting my gun away when the deputy came into view. He was leading two others. Xara said, “This is going to be very interesting. I will keep you safe, don’t be afraid and just follow my lead.”

I said, “Wait! What?”

I was still trying to figure out what was going on when the deputy pulled his pistol and pointed it at me and said, “Don’t move!”

I was thinking I shouldn’t have put the Ruger away and starting to formulate a plan when the other two came into view. Arions! They were Arions! They weren’t wearing the uniform, but they were big with black hair and those blue eyes Velorians and Arions have. They were armed with shot guns. I didn’t see any Gars.

“What do you want deputy?”

“Nothing from you, but my friends and I are going to take turns with that pretty little cousin of yours.”

“She is pretty deputy, but little? She’s taller than you.”

“So she is. I bet she’s a lot of fun in the sack.”

Xara stood up and took a step towards them and nodded towards the Arions asking, “How did you get hooked up with those two?”

The deputy answered, “I don’t think you understand, Danni, is it? You don’t ask questions. You just undress and entertain us for awhile. If you do a good job we’ll make sure you don’t die until after your cousin here.”

This was too much. I hadn’t been on my meds for days, the deputy had pissed me off this morning. And now there were more Arions? I know I wasn’t thinking straight. I know this could have only ended one way for me, but, at the time, I wasn’t thinking that way. I stood up and charged them. Or I tried to charge them. I was on my feet and had taken one step when Danni stepped in front of me and put her hands on my shoulders.

“Trust me Joe. Trust me.”

You know, she could have used that trust pheromone on me, but she didn’t.

The deputy said, “Just let him go little lady. We’ll take care of him.”

Xara turned towards him and said, “You aren’t taking care of anyone deputy. Neither are your friends.”

The deputy said, “You really don’t understand, do you? No matter, you will.” And he started walking closer, holding his gun on me.

Xara said, “You’re the one who doesn’t understand deputy. We’re not going to die here, you are.”

The deputy laughed. He thought that was really funny. He pointed at me and turned to the Arions and said, “Get him.”

Xara said something to them, in a language that sounded like Velorian but was more guttural, and the Arions, I swear to God, turned white in the face, threw their weapons aside and dropped to their knees.

The deputy looked at them and opened his mouth to say something, but didn’t get it out. As soon as he took his eyes off of us Xara moved, really fast, and grabbed his gun. She tore it out of his hand and threw it into the forest. The deputy yelled out in pain and grabbed his gun hand with his other one, he was bleeding. And then he reached for Xara with his good hand. She grabbed it, spun him and herself around and suddenly had his cuffs in her hands and put them on him, and then forced him down onto his knees. He was crying out in pain. I looked closely; in the process of controlling him she had dislocated his shoulder.

Xara looked at the three of them and said, “Any of you move and you’re dead.”

Xara walked back to me and said, “Give me your watch Joe.”

“My watch? What for Xara? We have to do something about these guys. Why are Arions taking orders from that deputy?”

“Give me your watch and we’ll find out.”

I took off my watch, it was the one Kara had given me, and gave it to Xara. She turned it over and took the back cover off it and did something to the insides. Then she replaced the cover and gave it back to me.

“Remember when I told you that mom started salvaging useful Arion technology? Besides keeping really good time, that watch is a tracker and a beacon. Mom should be here soon.”

“You put a tracking device on me?”

“All mom’s people wear them. It’s for your safety.”

“If I ask you what you mean by ‘mom’s people’, will you tell me?”

She smiled brightly at me and said, “Nope.”

About fifteen minutes later Kara arrived, in her flight suit. She came to me and Xara and asked if we were okay. We told her we were fine, and then she looked me over and asked, “Why are your shoulders bruised Joe?”

I didn’t know my shoulders were bruised. But now that she mentioned it, I noticed they hurt.

Before I could answer Xara said, “I did that. He was going after them and I had to stop him.”

Kara asked, “Joe, what were you thinking?”

“I wasn’t thinking. They said they were going to rape Xara and kill us both.”

“We’re going to have to work on that Joseph. It won’t do for you to be impulsive in a crisis. But thank you for trying to save my daughter. Again.”

Then she turned to Xara and said, “You might want to get Joe out of here. I don’t think he’ll want to see this.”

“I’m right here Kara, you can talk to me about what I want and don’t want to see. If I’m going to be part of your ‘organization’ I think I should see what I’m getting into.”

“Are you sure Joe? This is about to get very intense.”

“I am Kara. And from what Xara has told me this is a war to the death. I understand what that means.”

She nodded at me and then turned to the Arions. She grabbed them each by the arm and roughly dragged and turned them so that they were on their knees facing the deputy, about eight feet away from him. Then she said, “You are all going to die here. The question is how. Let me tell you about my husband.” And then she went on to describe, in horrific detail, what the Arions had done to Eric, and asked, “Now, how do you think I want to deal with you?”

The deputy looked up at her and said, “I didn’t have anything to do with that! Let me go, please! I won’t tell the Arions about you. I’ll work for you. Yes, I’ll be a double agent for you. Please, I have a wife and kids who depend on me.”

He was scared. Really scared. The Arions were holding it together better than he was, but just barely.

Kara said, “I’m not letting anyone go.” And she looked directly at the deputy and said, “You were going to kill my Kiraling and rape and kill my daughter. You don’t get to walk away from that.”

At that the Arions started to cry and started talking to her in what I assumed was the Arion language.

Xara said, “They’re begging her to kill them quickly and mercifully.”

Kara said, “If you answer my questions truthfully and completely I will kill you quickly and painlessly.” She looked at the deputy and said, “I’ll put your body in your vehicle and make it look like an accident. Your family will have a funeral for you and closure. But, if you either lie to me or fail to answer in any way I’ll do to you what the Arions did to my husband.”

The deputy said, “I’ll tell you! I’ll tell you anything. Please, don’t do that to me.” The Arions said pretty much the same thing, according to Xara. They understood English, but must have been too rattled to use it.

Kara said to the deputy, “Good. How do you know these Arions?”

The deputy and the Arions told her everything. He had been working with the Arions for years, and had helped them find the cave they were using when I first came across the Velorians. The two Arions that were with him were part of the team that had captured Kara, but were delivering a payment to the deputy for services rendered the day that I found the cave. With the cave destroyed and their ship missing they had no way of contacting their command to let them know what had happened, and so went to work for the deputy, who was growing marijuana up here, providing security and chasing away any hikers who got too close, while they waited for their command to make contact with the deputy. They expected that contact to occur sometime in the next six weeks, and the deputy explained where they would meet.

The deputy gave Kara the names and addresses of all the Arion’s Terran agents that he knew of. He told her no one else in his family knew what he was doing and begged her to spare his wife and children. She promised him that she would.

She interrogated the Arions in their language. Xara said they confirmed all the deputy told him and had the names and locations of other agents. They didn’t know the location of any other Arion bases.

“Do you believe them?”

“Yes. It’s impossible to lie to us Joe. We can detect the subtle physiological changes that occur when someone lies.”

At last Kara was satisfied that she had all the answers these three had to give her. She walked behind the Arions, put one hand on each of their necks, and squeezed suddenly, and they collapsed to the ground. Seeing this, the deputy totally lost it. He screamed and tried to get to his feet. Xara walked over to him and held him down. He started yelling, “Help! Somebody help me!” He began sobbing. “Don’t kill me, please don’t kill me. I have a wife. I have children. Please have mercy on me.” And then he tried to kiss Xara’s feet, telling her he was sorry and begging her to forgive him. I’d seen Iraqis kiss the feet of Americans when they surrendered to us. It was one of the ways they’d show submission. I’d never seen an American do it.

Kara knelt down in front of the deputy. He pleaded with her for mercy. She looked at him, very sadly, and said no. She stroked the side of his face with her hand, very tenderly, and then asked him where his car was parked.

“Why do you want to know?”

Kara said, “I already told you. So I can put your body in it and make your death look like an accident.”

“No, please. Please. I want to live; I want to live, please.”

Kara asked him, “How badly do you want to live? What are you willing to do to save your life?”

She was dangling hope in front of him, and he lunged for it, “Anything! I’ll do anything! Tell me what to do and I’ll do it!”

Kara walked behind him. He started to scream. She grabbed the back of his left arm and quickly squeezed it, causing him to scream again, and then let it go. She came back around in front of him and squatted down so that her eyes were level with his. She said, “I just put a very small tracking chip in your arm. As long as you live I will always know where you are. Do you understand that?”

“Yes! Yes! I understand! I understand!”

“You are going to resign your job and move your family away from this area. I strongly suggest that you move to one of the South Eastern states. You have four weeks. If you are still living here after that I will come for you, and do much worse to you than what I did to them,” she said this as she pointed to the bodies of the Arions. “If you have any contact with the Arions, ever again, I will burn you alive slowly. Do you understand?”

“Yes! I understand! I’ll move right away. The Arions will never see me again!”

Xara said, “I don’t know mom. I’m the one he was going to rape. Don’t I get some say in this?”

Hearing that, the deputy, who had just been so full of hope, suddenly slumped to the ground and began to cry.

Kara said to him, “If you want to live, I suggest you apologize to my daughter.”

He sobbed, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! I’ll never do anything like that again! Please, I’ll never do it again.”

Xara said, “I accept your apology. If you ever rape, or threaten to rape a girl again, you will wish my mother had killed you here and now. Do you understand?”

“Yes! Yes yes yes! Please, let me go!”

Xara lifted him up to his feet and removed his handcuffs. She didn’t use the key. She pulled them apart, carefully, she didn’t hurt the deputy at all, and then handed him his mangled cuffs. Then she said, “This is going to hurt,” and she popped his shoulder back into place. From the sound he made I’m pretty sure it did hurt.

Kara said to the deputy, “Get out of here, now, before I change my mind.” At that he took off running down the trail as fast as he could. And then Kara did something that, at the time, I thought was strange. She looked at the ground where the deputy had been and used her heat vision to heat up and burn it.

I pointed to the Arions and asked, “What about them?”

Kara said, “Just wait a couple of minutes and you’ll see. And Xara, that was a bit cruel, scaring the deputy like that after I’d offered him clemency.”

“I know mom, but I think he deserved it.”

I sat down and waited. For what, I didn’t know. After about five minutes and much to my surprise the Arions began to stir! Xara had been watching me and I must have looked pretty surprised because she laughed out loud.

“How did you do that?” I asked Kara.

“Oh Joe, haven’t you ever seen Star Trek?”

“What? Really, that Vulcan nerve pinch is real?”

“It is for them,” Kara answered, “but it won’t work on Terrans. You’re neck would break first.”

The Arions sat up and looked at each other. They were as surprised that they were still alive as I was. They looked around and one of them asked, in heavily accented English, “Where is the Terran?”

Kara pointed to the burned spot on the ground and said, “He became belligerent, so I vaporized him.” And then she asked them, “What am I to do with you? If I arrange transport back to Aria will you promise never to come back here again?”

The Arions looked at each other again, and one answered her in heavily accented English. “No. Cannot go back. We will be interrogated and when Command finds out what we told you we will be executed.

Hearing this, Kara’s face fell. She looked at me and Xara and said, in a very serious yet sad tone of voice, “You two need to leave. Now. I need you to leave.”

Xara took my arm and said, “It really is time for us to leave Joe.” I didn’t argue with her, and we started the hike back to our campsite.

“That was pretty intense Xara, what is your mom going to do with the Arions?”

“She’ll deal with them Joe, that’s all either of us needs to know. That’s all either of us wants to know.”

We walked in silence for awhile. Something was nagging at me and then Johnson said, “The tracking chip! Ask her about the tracking chip!”

“Xara,” I said, “Why didn’t your mother put a chip in me like she did with the deputy? I think that would be easier and more reliable than the watch. What if I didn’t have the watch with me?”

She smiled at me and said, “Mom didn’t put a chip in you because we don’t have anything like that. She didn’t put a chip in the deputy either. She just pinched him a little and made up that story to put the fear of Skietra into him.”

“The fear of who?”

“Whom,” she said.

Chapter 32

And for the rest of the hike Xara gave me an introduction to Supremis theology. I didn’t really grasp it, and I still don’t, but I’ll try to explain it.

The first thing to understand is that the Velorians and Arions are known collectively as the Supremis, and they had a common beginning.

The Supremis started out as humans who lived in Sweden. Or Norway. Or Finland. Let’s just say Scandinavia. They were abducted by a team of Galen geneticists headed by a Galen female named Skietra, and were “seeded” throughout the galaxy. And it was Skietra who futzed with human DNA and developed the Supremis. Later on the Supremis somehow split into the Velorians and the Arions. I don’t really understand it, but apparently if you are smart enough to find Sharon’s web site you can read all about it.

Anyway, the Supremis at one time worshipped Skietra as a Goddess. Or they worshipped all the Galen as Gods and Goddesses. According to Xara there is some disagreement as to whether Skietra is a single Galen or a word that represents all of them. Though it seems to me that Galen is a collective noun. See what I mean about not grasping it?

These days some Supremis believe in Skietra, most don’t, they think she (or they) is just a myth. Or if they believe they think the Galen chose to disappear. But before disappearing the Galen left some edict about leaving Earth, or Terra, and the humans on Terra alone. Something about maintaining a pure breeding stock. (Not particularly flattering to us.)

Now, while most Supremis don’t believe in Skietra or the Galen anymore, they are either superstitious or cautious enough that they don’t want to do anything to get her/their attention in a negative way. So the fight for Terra is kept low key, so as not to attract too much attention. Xara says that is why city busting bombs have not been dropped on us.

Oh, and there is one Galen, Aphrodite, who lives in some kind of temple on Velor and enhances Velorian women to make them protectors. And yet many Supremis think the Galen are a myth.

I listened to Xara explain this to me and decided not to ask too many questions. I’m not sure if this is her religion, and I didn’t want to be disrespectful.

Chapter 33

We returned to our campsite and fixed dinner and made small talk. Neither one of us wanted to talk about what had happened on the trail, or the fate of the Arions.

I’d taken prisoners before, in both Iraq and Afghanistan. While I never felt particularly sympathetic towards enemy combatants who, prior to surrendering, were trying as hard as they could to kill me, I wasn’t inclined to put a bullet through their heads. There were rules to follow regarding prisoners and it was my job to follow them.

After dinner we went for a swim. Me to wash away the dirt and grime of the day, and Xara for something to do. When we came out of the water we dried off and dressed and then I built a fire. Before long we were joined by some of the same families who had made smores with us the night before, and by one or two others. We made smores and told stories and Xara cuddled a couple of little kids, which seemed to lift her spirits. I got up after awhile to head for the bathroom and a couple of the dads in our group walked with me, asking me what was going on between me and the deputy that morning. I told them that he was suspicious of me but was satisfied after he talked to Danni’s mom. I didn’t get into the rest of the day.

Late in the evening, about 10 PM or so, our party broke up. The moms and dads helped clean up while Danni and the other teenagers walked the little kids to the bathroom and back. I put out the fire and Xara and I crawled into our tent.

I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to put my dead down and go to sleep. Xara, on the other hand, doesn’t get exhausted, and wanted to talk.

“Joe, I didn’t mean to ambush you last night. If you’d rather not take me to the prom I’ll understand.”

“No Xara, I meant it. I’m looking forward to taking you.”

“Really? She asked.

“Really.” I replied.

Then she snuggled up to me, which I wasn’t expecting, and put her head on my shoulder. I adjusted myself and put my arm around her. It was getting cold, and she was warm, and it felt good.

“Mom and I picked out a blue dress for the prom. What are you going to wear? One of the suits mom gave you?”

I thought about that for a second or two and said, “I’m going to wear my Army dress blues.”

She thought about that for awhile and said, “That will probably be okay, but I’ll want to see it first to make sure we won’t clash.”

I laughed at that and said, “Google ‘Army Service Uniform’ and you’ll see lots of color pictures.”

She said, “Okay. You’ll need to get a wrist corsage. I’ll send you an email with some suggestions.”

“You have my email address?”

“Mom has it.”

Of course she does.

Chapter 34

Dixon and Johnson were uncharacteristically quiet that night and left us alone. I fell asleep and had nightmares about fighting deputies and Arions in Afghanistan. Xara must have woken me up at least three times telling me that I was tossing and turning and yelling in my sleep. She asked me to tell her about the nightmares. But I wouldn’t. How do you tell a 16 year old that you watch your buddies get blown up over and over in your dreams?

We were up with the sun in the morning. Xara didn’t ask me about my dreams anymore, which was good, because I didn’t want to talk about them. I just wanted to get home. I must have come across to her a little irritable because after trying to make small talk over breakfast she finally stopped talking to me and we finished our meal in silence.

We cleaned the dishes and packed up our camping gear. My stuff went into my car and her stuff went into her pod. My mood kept deteriorating and she could feel it. Dixon and Johnson were no where to be seen. Finally everything was packed up. I said goodbye to Xara and got into my car. I was about to start it when I noticed her looking at her pod, and looking around the camp ground. I just wanted to get the hell out of there and get home, but I got out of the car and asked her if something was wrong.

“I don’t know how to get the pod out of here,” she said. She had flown the pod into an empty camp ground. But now it was full and there were people everywhere. No way could she just pick it up and fly away with it without a lot of witnesses seeing it.

She looked so perplexed and confused that I couldn’t help myself, I started to laugh. She looked at me incredulously, which made me laugh harder. And then she started laughing, and suddenly all the tension I was feeling just drained away.

After we calmed down I got an idea. “Why don’t we tie it to the roof of my car and I’ll drive up a Forest Service road until we’re out of sight?”

“That’ll work”, she said, “Do you have any rope?”

“Ha! I’m more prepared than the boy scouts.”

So we put the pod on the roof of the car and I tied it down. We drove a little ways out of the camp ground and on to a Forest Service road and as soon as we were out of sight of curious eyes I stopped the car, Xara took the pod off the roof, changed into her flight suit and flew off.

It didn’t take long at all for the gloom to return. I drove off back towards home thinking about my old squad, about Dixon and Johnson’s squads, and all the good men I knew and fought with who never made it home. And I started to wonder, for about the millionth time, why I survived and they didn’t.

I stopped at a store and bought a case of beer. I drove back to the cabin and unloaded the car, then took the case of beer and my revolver into the back yard and sat down on the grass and opened the first beer.

I had to figure this out. Why was I alive when all those good men, some of them better than me, weren’t? I kept looking around for Dixon and Johnson, hoping they could help me answer that question. But they weren’t there.

It wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. I had no business walking around on God’s green earth while they were all buried beneath it. It should have been me. All those men had wives and girlfriends and brothers and sisters who dearly missed them. I was alone. No family, no one to miss me, no one to mourn me, no one to walk around day after day with that empty feeling in their gut. It should have been me. It should be me. I was on my fifth beer, tears flowing freely, and trying to work up the courage to pick up the Ruger and do something about it. Make it right in the only way it could be made right, when I heard a voice above me say, “Hi Joe!”

I looked up. It was Sharon. She was in her flight suit descending towards me. She landed and looked at me, seeing the tears for the first time I think, then looked at the empty beer bottles and the Ruger and asked, “Joe, what are you doing?”

Chapter 35

I woke up the next afternoon in my bed. Every muscle in my body was sore, like I’d just spent all day in the gym working out. I’ll do my best to describe what happened between the time Sharon landed on my back lawn to when I woke up but I don’t think I can do it justice. Sex with a Velorian is like combat: if you haven’t been there, you just don’t know.

“They’re all gone Sharon. They’re all dead. Except me.”

“Who’s dead?” she asked.

“All of them.” I answered. “Dixon and his squad. Johnson and his squad. My squad. My lieutenant. All of them.”

I picked up the Ruger. My hands were trembling and tears were rolling down my cheek. Sharon knelt down next to me and gently took the Ruger out of my hands and set it down. She took my face in her hands and looked at me with those lovely, beautiful blue eyes. I started to smell wild flowers and honey and all my concerns, all my anxiety, all my guilt melted away. It was as if they had never been there, and all that mattered to me, right at that time all that had ever mattered to me was the beautiful woman in front of me. I was hard. My cock I mean. It was hard, as hard as it has ever been, maybe harder. I threw my arms around Sharon and she threw her arms around me and we kissed, passionately. I started trying to rip her flight suit off her. I mean I really tried, hard, but it wouldn’t budge. Sharon laughed softly and said, “Let me do that,” and she stood up and took it off.

My God the beauty. I don’t have the words to describe it. Sure, I’d seen her naked before, and Kara, and Xara. They are the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. But now, under the influence of her pheromones, and without the dirt and the dust caked on her, it was almost overwhelming. Almost.

I was sitting on the ground, she was standing before me. I rose up on my knees in front of her and kissed her naked mons. I heard her gasp, and then she pushed me away and said, “Let’s go inside.”

I didn’t give a fuck about going inside. I wanted her right there, I needed her right there, and I was going to get her right there and nothing was going to stop me.

She stopped me.

She picked me up and carried me inside. She cradled me in her arms like I was a baby and try as hard as I could, I couldn’t get out of her grasp. Once we were inside my front door she turned around and fell straight back onto the floor with me on top of her. I started to remove my clothes, as fast as I could. Apparently not fast enough because she reached up and ripped off my shirt, then my pants and boxers. She grabbed me, gently, by my erection and Holy Mother of God I’d never felt skin so soft and smooth and cool, and I came right there, in her hand. My ejaculation seemed to go on forever and my whole body was spasming and I think I yelled or screamed. I’d never felt such pleasure in my life.

Now the last time I had sex with a woman I still had what everyone would recognize as a face, so it had been awhile. So it didn’t surprise me that I was ready to go again, almost immediately. Sharon was still on the floor beneath me and she stroked my erection just a couple of times and then guided me inside her. At that point two things got my attention. I felt the softest, slickest, and at the same time tightest vagina I had ever felt in my life, and I saw that Sharon was wearing a gold chain. Actually the gold chain didn’t get my immediate attention, like I thought, “Oh, Sharon has a gold chain.” It was more like I saw it and ignored it, but the next day I remembered that she didn’t have it when she carried me into the cabin. I have no idea where it came from.

I started to stroke in and out of her as fast as I could. And as hard as I could. Harder than I ever had before. Sharon was encouraging me with her feet on my ass and making little pleasurable cooing sounds. I was close to coming, really close, when she suddenly clamped down on my erection with her vaginal muscles. I had no idea women had muscles like that. I soon learned that Sharon could do a lot of things with those muscles.

As tight as she was holding me I could still slide in and out. If anything she was slicker than she had been before. I kept going in and out, back and forth, trying to find release for I don’t know how long when Sharon screamed, nearly crushed the air out of my lungs with her arms and started bucking really hard. Her orgasm seemed to go on and on, and I was getting more and more desperate, when she loosened her internal grip on me and I came harder than I had the first time.

I collapsed on top of her, totally spent, gasping for breath and starting to soften when she said, “Oh no Joe, we aren’t finished yet.” With me still inside of her, she wrapped her arms and legs around me and rolled us both over and then sat up. And then I got another dose of those pheromones, which made me hard again almost immediately, and she started to massage my erection, inside of her, with those internal muscles.

I reached up and started fondling her breasts and rolling her nipples between my thumbs and index fingers and she said, “Yes, do it harder. You can’t hurt me.”

So I squeezed her breasts and nipples harder and she closed her eyes and sighed. In the meantime she kept massaging me and every time I tried to thrust she moved with me so I pretty much stayed in the same place. She said, “Let me do the work Joe.”

So I did. And in no time I was close to coming again, and she clamped down on me again and kept the massage going. It was amazing. Better than a blow job amazing. And in a couple of minutes she came again, just from manipulating me with her internal muscles, and then she let me come again.

She used her pheromones and that amazing vagina to keep me hard and we just kept going. Her on top, me on top, me behind her, both of us sitting up with her on my lap. I lot track of how many times I came. I lost track of how many times she came. Her orgasms just seemed to keep and coming. It was like being in the ocean surf during the aftermath of a storm when the waves just kept coming and coming. Just when I thought her orgasm had peaked and she was coming down, another one would hit like a wave and off she’d go again, bucking and shouting out her pleasure.

And me! My endurance never flagged. I was able to keep on going again and again and again. I felt strong. I felt powerful. I felt like a god!

At some point I must have just given up or passed out because I woke up in my bed the next afternoon, sore all over, and Johnson and Dixon were high fiving and looking at me with big shit eating grins.

I sat up and smelled food. Coffee, bacon and eggs, and pancakes. I thought Sharon must be making us breakfast. And then I heard Xara call out, “He’s awake!” And she walked into my bedroom and said, “We’re making brunch Joe. Take a shower and come out and join us.”

Before I could ask her who “us” were she walked out of the bedroom and closed the door.

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