Written by Darala Starr :: [Monday, 08 July 2019 20:57] Last updated by :: [Thursday, 04 July 2019 09:52]
Darala found her time at the gym with Tina and Jason utterly frustrating. It was agreed between the three of them that the ‘Tau Ceti Superwoman’ would not use her prodigious strength to show off in the gym and draw attention to herself. This required her to apply all her might toward a new and very difficult feat—using self-control.
It was when they first arrived at the gym that many of the men took notice of Darala in her T-shirt and those small satin shorts. Her otherworldly lean and hard Tau Ceti musculature was not hard to miss. Darala was not a massive hulk or oversized for her height. But her lean, fitness sized muscles looked harder than steel and Tina thought it would have been better to have Darala wear sweatpants and a sweatshirt instead of those shorts.
Five minutes into their routine, Darala nearly made a scene when she grabbed a barbell from the squat rack that had three hundred fifteen pounds on it. She’d pulled it easily off the safety hooks and performed three arm curls before Jason rushed to her side, nervously urging her to lower the weight back onto the rack.
“Darala, please…” he said. “I know this is hard, but it’s important not to stick out.”
Darala held the barbell suspended another moment in front of her with what seemed like effortless ease; her biceps rock hard and swelling.
Then, with superhuman control of the big weight, she eased it back down into the cradle with hardly a sound.
“This is very frustrating,” she said. “But I’ll play along.”
She drifted over to a large mirror and the dumbbell racks. She assessed the weights, and reluctantly picked up a pair of 25-pound dumbells. Glancing at Jason she rolled her eyes and began doing bicep curls while making a face like it was hard.
Jason put his hands on his hips and shook his head.
“I know,” she said and continued pretending to curl the dumbells.
An hour later the three of them were in Tina’s car driving into town for lunch. Darala took in all the storefronts, traffic and people milling about.
“I think I should have given you an extra large pair of sweats instead of those shorts, Darala,” Tina said, making a left turn and heading down another street.
“What are sweats?” Darala asked.
“They’re…” Tina began. “They’re a bit more discreet.”
“I really like these shorts,” Darala said. “I don’t suppose I could keep them?” she asked.
Tina said, “Sure, Darala. They look amazing on you. Keep them. But just try and keep those extra strong muscles a little more relaxed maybe.”
Darala said, “Well, it was very frustrating in that gym. When I think of what I could have done in there….” Darala sighed and shook her head.
Jason said, “You did great, Darala. No one suspected.”
“I suppose,” Darala said.
Just then, up ahead Tina’s shop came into view and she said, “I need to make a stop and check in on things. I’ll just be a minute.”
Seeing an opportunity to perhaps discover what deputy Brown was doing in that shop in the middle of the night, Darala quickly said, “May I join you in the store? I didn’t really get a chance to look around yesterday.”
Tina said, “Sure, if you’d like.”
She slotted her car into a space near the front and they went inside. Tina glided behind the counter where a friendly looking young woman was reading a magazine. She put the magazine down in a hurry and said, “Oh, hi, Tina. I’m sorry, I was watching for customers. I promise.”
Tina smiled knowingly, “It’s okay. Slow today?”
“A little,” the woman replied, adjusting her big-rimmed glasses.
Jason gave Tina a warm smile and she smiled back. He eased his way toward her and the young woman with glasses said, “I’ll, um, go clean something.” She smiled and wandered off toward the front of the store to give them some privacy.
Jason lowered his voice and said, “Tina, I was thinking more about last night and you were right… I couldn’t possibly, physically handle a relationship with Darala.”
“I know,” she said. “But isn’t there a part of you that wishes you could?”
Jason hesitated and looked away nervously, then realized something. “Wait. Where is Darala?”
Below them in the basement, Darala made her way around the massive vault door she’d forced open, the deformed steel of the locking mechanism a testimony to her incredible strength. She stepped inside the vault room and saw a strange, soft bag. It wasn’t there yesterday when she rescued Kyle.
Darala crouched low to the ground and pulled it open. And there it was. The transponder!
“Darala?” Tina said from behind her. Darala stood, holding the device in her hands. It was just as she had described it. An almost featureless cylinder, save for a strange flashing light and inscriptions on one side.
“I can’t believe it,” Darala said with a broad smile. “This is it! I can go home,” she said.
A moment later she looked at her two new friends, Jason and Tina, and realizing that this was going to be ‘goodbye,’ she felt an ache in her heart. It was subtle, but growing slowly.
“I don’t know what to say,” Darala started. “You’ve both been such good friends to me, a total stranger on your planet.”
Jason looked away from her for a moment, a strong wave of emotion crashing over him. Tina also felt it.
“Well,” Tina said, “I’m glad you found it. I mean, it was right there the whole time. Right?”
Darala thought about it a moment longer, and then quickly activated her wrist device on her bracelet.
“Okay, I’m going to confirm the frequency of the high-gain antenna. It should take only a few moments.”
A fantastic holographic display hovered over her bracelet. Jason and Tina were stunned.
“That is incredible,” Jason said.
“I can’t believe it,” Tina added. “I want something like that!”
Darala kept her eyes on the display, but frowned suddenly.
Jason asked, “Is everything okay, Darala?”
Darala double-checked the data on her readout and shook her head. She tapped her bracelet and the marvelous display vanished.
“What’s wrong,” Tina asked.
With startling suddenness, Darala crushed the cylinder with her hands. The housing collapsed instantly in her grip, the metal uttering a faint cry for help. She squeezed it like a dishrag until the flashing light turned off and a wisp of smoke came from one end, its electronic innards pulverized.
Darala looked at them, her face grim.
“It’s a decoy. It’s not the real thing,” she said.