Little Krypton – Episode Five
Written by shadar :: [Saturday, 28 December 2019 09:14] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 04 January 2020 11:35]
Conference Room Five, in the Jor El tower.
The El family was on Red Alert, with everyone but the very youngest kids gathering in Control to put together plans to get Dar back. I heard talk of high-speed snatch and grab plans along with follow-up subdue and capture plans. For all the Family’s tremendous power, no one was confident that they could capture a teleport-capable Almeracian.
The deeper they got into discussion, the more the talk switched from English to Kryptonian. Eventually, I couldn’t follow them, so I rose to leave. To my surprise, Mia caught me on the way out the door to whisper that Lara needed to talk to me about something very important. In Conference Room 5. Right now.
That summons both concerned and excited me. I never feel truly in control around Lara, and Alura had warned me several times about spending time alone with her. She didn’t trust her sister.
That pissed me off since she clearly she didn’t trust me either. Alura wasn’t giving me enough credit.
I pushed my anger away, telling myself that Alura had seen a lot more of Lara’s behavior than I had. Alura claimed that whatever Lara had, it affected all men, regardless of sexual persuasion or age, whether straight or gay. Yet it had no effect at all on women. Alura claimed that alone proved that whatever her power was, it worked directly on the physical differences in brain structure associated with xy versus xx chromosomes.
In other words, it was aimed at what a computer engineer would call “metal” -- the level you couldn’t change with code.
Of course, my brain’s hardly a computer, but here I am, completely made of xy chromosomes. I told myself that I had to disbelieve everything I felt or saw around Lara, but I was afraid that might be impossible. To disbelieve, you have to think about disbelieving, but I don’t remember thinking about anything except how mind-bogglingly attractive Lara was whenever I got too close to her.
Sitting alone in the conference room, I remember when Alura had shown me an ordinary photographic image of Lara. I didn’t even recognize her at first. Alura insisted it really was Lara, so I looked again, seeing a girl with a cutely familiar face and a very nice body, but she wasn’t drop-dead gorgeous like she appeared in person. How the hell was I going to deal with someone who was directly fucking with my brain, changing what I see and feel? Did I have to put blinders over my eyes?
Such were my thoughts when the door opened and my confusion was instantly solved as a goddess floated in. I stared in awe at Lara, marveling at the perfection of her blonde hair, her marvelously blue eyes, her incredible beauty. She was slender and so very tall, every curve tight yet graceful and beyond perfect, sculpted by a master artist. Her gown looked as if it was made of linen and white gold. Her pale golden hair hung to her waist. Her perfect breasts sat very high on her chest, her waist slender and tight. Her lovely legs were long and bare beneath her very short hem, her skin a flawless shade of golden tan. I devoured her with my eyes, my hunger growing despite myself.
I boldly shifted my gaze to her eyes, and my ring started to grow warm and my heart pounded wildly as I felt my body drawing on her powers — and then responding as it always did around Alura, growing stronger, more vital, more alive. More aroused.
It was all I could do to resist, remembering the photo of what she really looked like.
She laughed as she saw the conflicted look on my face. “Ok… I don’t think slack-jawed, drooling along with a wrinkled brow is your best look, Alec. Relax. Alura has put you absolutely off-limits.” She tilted her head as her eyes sparkled, studying me from head to toe. “Although with that X-ring, I’m betting our sex would be legendary.”
Her flirtation struck like a blow, and my ring flared so hot it burned me.
“Wow! You can draw power even at this distance?” she gasped softly, her blue eyes piercing me to understand everything. “You are getting very good with that ring.”
I quickly forced my gaze away from her, both embarrassed and angry at myself. “Normally I can’t. It requires touching. But everything is different around you, Lara. It’s like you’re broadcasting a lot more wattage.”
She laughed. “I’ve heard it said many different ways, but that’s a good one. From my part, it feels like that ring opens a channel, one that we’d both like to fill with our flesh. I think I better stay on this side of the table.”
Talking about her power made it easier for me to keep the rational side of my mind working. She definitely looked like a goddess, and she certainly moved like one, but my thoughts became mostly my own as long whenever I wasn’t staring at her. Enough to find some humor in the situation. “You? Being conservative?!” I said in mock horror. “I thought you were the original provocateur.”
“Sometimes. Ok, usually,” she said. “But we have my brother to save right now. We’re not letting Dar go anywhere with that Almeracian bitch.”
“Who strangely seems to be your sister.”
“Half sister — who has been corrupted by her mother, a slave-owning tyrant. That makes her an enemy of this family, shared blood or not.”
“You really gave your dad some shit back there.”
“Well, he deserved it for not telling us. But I didn’t come down here to talk about that. I need your help to prepare a doomsday weapon.”
“Have you heard of someone we call Dumb Bunny?”
“Alura said something about her. That she was some kind of problem for your dad. Also that she’s Dar’s fuckbuddy now. She’s got powers and all. So who is she?”
Watching her from the corner of my eye, I saw her left eyebrow rise. “My, my, you are learning our deepest secrets, Alec. That thing with Dad is really sensitive.”
“I’m not trying to pry, Lara. But Alura and I don’t have secrets.”
“Obviously. Well, given you need to know, her name is Athena. She’s an ET who has some powers.”
“ET? Every ET I’ve heard about other than you guys has been dangerous beyond imagination. They cared nothing for humans.”
Lara shook her head, blonde hair flying. “Athena had been around a long time and she’s not normally dangerous to humans. Dad tried to get Athena to promise to never kill, way back in the day, and she mostly holds to that.“
“Mostly? And when was that?"
"1960's. People called her Dumb Bunny back then, before she dropped out of history. Her real name is Athena Tremor and her mother was a very powerful Amazon, but not from Themiscyra. Her father… well, there are rumors, but nobody really knows for sure who or what he was. Maybe just a test tube. Mom thinks Athena was an early attempt by Darkseid to create his Furies.”
“Jesus…!” I gasped. “Furies? They’re all homicidal maniacs. Literally, and I mean literally, all they do is kill. And they can hold their own even with you guys.”
“Yeah, but it took Darkseid a lot of tries to perfect them. Mom believes Darkseid had this frozen Kryptonian sperm line and his scientists experimented by artificially inseminating renegade Amazons with it to make his Furies. Athena was the first born of that line, but she didn’t work out the way Darkseid wanted. Mainly due to her lack of intelligence. She’s essentially a dim but overstuffed blonde centerfold-type with half Amazonian and half Kryptonian powers.”
“Sounds like a bombshell. And dangerous.”
“Back in the 1960’s, it was snarkily said that Athena was‘Strong as an ox and almost as smart’.Which is why they called her Dumb Bunny. Kind of cruel, but also kind of true.”
“People said all kinds of cruel, judgmental and racist things back then, Alura.”
“I suppose. But her real issue apart from that vacant look in her face came from naivety and ignorance. She’d never seen the inside of a school, or had any parenting at all. Darkseid grew her to adulthood in this tank before deciding she was a failure, so he didn’t bother training her to be a Fury. He probably thought it was funny, dumping her on Earth and aiming her at Dad, hoping she’d corrupt or at least embarrass him. She was supposed to become his super-girlfriend. Story is that she succeeded.”
“Wow. No one has ever written about this.”
“And they never will, Alec.”
“Understand. So what happened to the girlfriend thing?”
“Only Dad knows, and he won’t talk about it. You have to understand that Dad has never been a very sexual person. Growing up the way he did, hiding his powers while having to be so very careful around people, he viewed having sex with humans as dangerous and extremely risky and mostly unnecessary. But for all of that, he has always loved women, most of all Lois Lane. So he learned how to bring her pleasure, which given he’s the Man of Steel, wasn’t exactly a challenge.”
“Ah, OK…” I said slowly, “but this is a really strange discussion about your dad. Also a sad one. Always holding back. Pretending pleasure to please others. Never for himself.”
“It wasn’t so much pretend, but rather as Superman, he’d learned to see himself through the eyes of others. When he brings a woman great pleasure, he feels that pleasure. He’s very empathic. Mom tells me that he lived comfortably inside Lois’ passion without ever giving in to his own. And Lois was head-over-heels in love with him, not to mention very passionate and very physical.”
“So he never… you know, enjoyed sex like other men? Before hooking up with your mom, I mean.”
“Sure he did. Mom says he had a very passionate fling with Wonder Woman, several times, but we don’t talk about that. He had an even more serious affair with Maxima right after Lois died, which obviously is the source of all our problems now. Mom never worried about Diana, knowing that her fascination with Dad was purely physical. Diana was fascinated and obviously turned on by Dad’s power. But mom does worry about Maxima. She thinks Kal really fell for her back in the day.”
“So where does Athena fit into this? You think she and your Dad had a fling?”
She nodded. “More than think. Dar says he can prove it. You see, S.T.A.R researchers discovered long ago that Athena’s body incorporates any Kryptonian DNA that she … you know, captures. So to speak. It makes her stronger.”
“That’s… interesting. But what does that prove about your father?”
“I found the original testing records for her at S.T.A.R Labs, Alec. At the very beginning, Athena could barely bench 15 tons. Which is decent for your average Amazon, but hardly at Kryptonian levels. But a year after her first test, they invited her back, and this time she could easily bench 100 tons. Like it was no sweat. That got everyone excited, with the scientists asking her all kinds of questions. But Athena acted dumb, something she’s a natural at. She just claimed she’d been working out. But that couldn’t explain it. Other than Diana, who has a bunch of Zeus’ DNA, no Amazon could be that strong. So they tested her DNA again, which was a pretty crude process back in those days, and this time they found some Kryptonian genes.”
“So… you think your dad made a little contribution. DNA wise?”
“Well, some Kryptonian male did, and there weren’t any others around back then. Zod and his followers were all in the PZ. Mom doesn’t know of any other Kryptonian males walking around at that time, because if they had been, they’d have found her. But Athena and Dad must have had something pretty hot going on, because Dar says she gets only very slightly stronger each time she’s been with him. That initial 10x improvement in her strength back in the 60’s would not have come quickly. Dar and she have been together a lot during the last year, and she’s maybe increased her her strength 50% during that time. Not 1000% like back in Dad’s time.”
I shrugged. “Maybe it’s an age thing — she incorporated your dad’s power faster when she was younger. Or less powerful to begin with. Maybe that was what Darkseid designed her for? To draw power from your Dad. Once she was powerful enough, maybe he could trigger her to attack him. Maybe she was sent here as a weapon.” The thought of that sent chills down my spine.
Lara shook her head, long hair flowing silkily. “No. Mom feels certain that Darkseid tossed her away on a useless mission to confuse Dad before understanding what her true potential was. Darkseid hates stupidity even more than weakness. But he can make mistakes too.”
“So what’s the problem now, Lara?”
“The problem is that Dad’s not forthcoming. From everything he’s said, and from everything mom knows, a lot of it first hand, he was very happily married to Lois. But his relationship history before that isn’t something he talks about. And anything between Athena and him had to be before he married Lois. He wasn’t the type to stray outside the marriage, at least not without Lois’ permission, which Mom thinks Lois only gave him when it came to Diana.”
“That was pretty gutsy on Lois’ part. She’s only human and Diana is a goddess.”
“Not as much as you think. Lois knew that no Amazon would bind herself to a man, especially not the mighty Superman. They value their independence from men far too much. Mom thinks Lois loved him enough to encourage him to explore that aspect of his Kryptonian nature. Something they could never do together.”
“As I said, gutsy. Does your Dad know about Athena’s growing empowerment? Back then compared to now with Dar and all that?”
She shook her head again. “When I tried to explain what Dar thought was happening, he got really angry and stalked away, claiming he was not going to speculate on nonsense. He’s never shut me down like that before.”
“Yeah. Mom thinks that Dad’s frustration back when he was young, before Lois, combined with Athena’s ever eager and innocent opportunity and obvious charms got to him. But the only thing clear is that he won’t talk about it, and he doesn’t want Athena to ever enter Little Krypton. Given he’s always been an open book to all of us in every other way, and welcomes anyone else to Little Krypton, Mom says we need to respect his feelings. And we need to protect Dar’s privacy to do what he wishes with Athena now.“
“You’re mom’s always been very practical, so I understand that. But what does any of this have to do with stopping Alexana?”
“DB, er, Athena has a lot of our physical strength, and essentially all of our invulnerability, but she’s not sickened by Green-K.”
“I thought Green-K was deadly to anyone with Kryptonian DNA?”
“Not the Furies. Somehow Darkseid exploited the power of our DNA without the limitations, probably by using some of his own genetics in the sauce. Because of that, with the right handling, Athena could be our secret weapon to get Dar back. But she intensely distrusts all of us, with Dar the obvious exception. She reserves her strongest dislike for Alura, who early on tried to protect Dar from her. There’s some really bad blood there. But Athena will be very motivated to keep Dar alive.”
“She won’t hold Alura against me, being her boyfriend and all?”
“To the contrary. She will do everything she can to seduce you just to thumb her nose at Alura.”
I just stared at Lara for a long moment. “I sure as hell don’t want to be in middle of that fight. But Athena’s charms won’t work on me. Hell, I’m even starting to get a handle on ignoring yours.”
Lara laughed. “By not looking at me, which makes it uncomfortable to talk to you. But you haven’t met her yet. Or, for that matter, touched me. But I hope you’re right for your sake. Athena usually wraps men around her little finger.”
“Spoken by one who also does that.”
“She’s different. More raw. More physical. You’ll see.”
I swallowed hard. Of all the things I’d worried about before coming to Little Krypton, this wasn’t one of them. But then Alice got into the middle of things, and now I’m struggling not to be seduced by Lara. It’s mostly my X-ring, but still. Now Athena, who if Lara is right, is going to seriously work on me. “So, what’s she like? Athena.”
Lara smiled. “I’m not going to spoil that except to say that unlike me, you get what you see with Athena. And you get a lot. I’ll drop you off where she’s waiting for Dar.”
That worried me. “She doesn’t know? About him? Anything?”
Lara shook her golden head. “Nope. She always meets Dar at this stone outbuilding at the edge of the property, up against Glacier Park. The place looks like the Great Wall of China. No Comms there, no anything but stone. It’s just a playhouse that Alura built when she was ten. Her little hideaway for playing games with her friends — Dungeons and Dragons and so forth. She dug tunnels in the hard rock underground and everything.”
I smiled. “Cool… just the kind of thing I’d imagined Alura would have done as a kid. But as far as stopping Alexana, what’s the thinking here?”
Lara hesitated, and then took a deep breath. “Ok, you know about HAIF, the Hostile Alien Interdiction Force. Right?”
I nodded. “Some…”
“Well, I’ve got a connection through a close friend on the force who told me they have a small device that fissions a chunk of artificial Green-K isotope. When that happens, it supposedly gives off a burst of Kryptonite radiation that they believe will instantly stop our hearts.”
I stared at her. “A Kryptonian killer?”
“Not necessarily. Resuscitation would be successful if done in the first few hours, but that takes special equipment. I gave this new info to S.T.A.R a few hours ago and they’re frantically working on a resuscitation protocol. But it’s all theoretical, on both sides. Nobody has detonated one of those things yet. Nobody has been resuscitated.“
“But if it’s a fission weapon, that means big badda boom.”
She shrugged. “Depends on your definition of big. S.T.A.R already had some intel on the device, and they think we’re talking very low yield, maybe just a few tons of TNT equivalent. No more than a very large conventional bomb.”
“That’s still enough to collapse a high-rise building. Erase a good part of a city block.”
“Yeah, and we Krypts get anywhere near the weapon given the stray radiation from the unstable isotope.”
Now it made sense. “But that radiation won’t hurt me… or Athena. So she gets it close to Alexana and detonates it. But won’t that take Dar out too?”
Lara looked worried. “Yeah, that’s the scary part. But S.T.A.R thinks should be able to resuscitate him, and later Alexana, once you have her locked in a Green-K prison cell.”
I whistled. “That’s pretty hard core.”
“Which is why this is our backup. Our last resort. But I need you and Athena to be ready to deploy. I’ll bring in the HAIF folks with their weapon if and when we need it.”
“And given we’re talking Athena, I suppose I’m going to be the one with the brains. Except I don’t know anything about stuff like this.”
Lara smiled as she slowly walked around the table toward me, moving so smoothly, so elegantly, every strand of golden hair radiating this perfect glow. My eyes found hers despite myself, finding that the glow around her got brighter as she approached. “You are resourceful and smart, Alec, and more physically-capable than I’d expected. Alura has been shaping you, bit by bit.”
I wasn’t sure I liked the sound of that, but I quickly forgot my worry as Lara slowly circled me, almost touching, and then stopped directly in front of me as her eyes looking deeply into mine. Like all Kryptonians, they were incredibly clear with wide pupils, which made her eyes look bottomless. I clenched my fists and concentrated on resisting her, but I could feel myself being drawn closer, invisibly but powerfully, like steel to a huge magnet. I flinched as her hand reached out to find mine, and a shocking explosion of light flared around my ring, nearly knocking me off my feet. I grabbed the edge of the conference table to steady myself, forcing myself to look away from her.
When I regained my balance, I saw Lara smiling my way. “That was amazing — that burst of power, from me to you. I can barely imagine how hot we would be together, sharing all that power between us? Pity we won’t discover that.”
I just stared at her, resisting every desire that urged me toward her. It took all my willpower to instead take a step backward.
“Very good. You pass the test, Alec. I suspect you will also endure Athena.”
My head was spinning and I was still off-balance when Lara slipped behind to hug me tightly to herself, the hard points of her nipples centered in the softly firm spread of her breasts against my back, her arms seemingly made of warm steel. Before I could react to her embrace, we were flying, across the room and up one of those lighted tunnels and out into the cool air. Lara flew very differently than Alura, staying very low, skimming the ground, climbing just enough to clear trees and out-buildings and rocks. Given the way she was carrying me, I was unable to bury my face beneath her hair like I do with Alura, so I had a hard time breathing in the powerful slipstream.
Fortunately, only minutes passed before I saw something I’d only seen in China — a great stone wall rising over the horizon, stretching off in both directions, miles long. In the middle was a castle that looked like it belonged in Europe, along the Rhine. It was huge, with towers rising hundreds of feet into the air.
So this was Alura’s idea of a play house.
Lara slowed to drop me in front of a huge doorway, the forty-foot tall doors made of massive rough-hewn timbers. It was opened just enough to squeeze through.
“Say hi to Fyre for me. He’ll huff and puff but he rarely eats anyone these days.”
She leaped back into the air without answering me and was gone in a second, her departing sonic boom unfortunately announcing my arrival to whomever was inside the castle. Huffing and puffing and eating people didn’t sound good. What kind of animal did that?
My feet wisely wanted to go the other way, but I forced myself to walk toward the huge door, convinced that Lara wouldn’t send me here just to get killed. Still, my senses were very much on edge as I slipped through the open doors into a courtyard the size of a soccer field — which thankfully was empty. The castle towers rose all around, with balconies and narrow walkways clinging to the outside in medieval fashion as they wound their way to the tops. A half dozen curved entrances surrounded the large courtyard, which was crudely paved with hewn stone.
Despite its huge size, the castle was extremely rustic up close, even ragged, as if the stones had been chopped up and mortared in place in a big hurry — the work of a ten-year-old Kryptonian girl.
As comfortable as I am living with Alura, sometimes she blows me away. This was definitely one of those times.
Walking further into the courtyard, I found that all the doorways were dark except the one on the far end, which revealed the light of a fire deep inside. I headed that way, only to be shocked when a huge ball of orange flame billowed out that doorway and halfway across the courtyard. The blast of heat nearly singed me as I dove into the safety of the closest doorway. Looking back, I was astonished to see a huge scaly creature crawling out the far doorway to stand twenty feet tall. My hair was standing on end, my eyes wide as saucers as my heart tried to leap out of my chest.
“There’s… there’s a fucking dragon out there!” I shouted to no one.
I was completely blown away by the size and malevolent beauty of the creature. From head to tail, it was easily 20 yards long and covered in glistening scales of many colors with huge horns on its head. The creature bent slowly down to look into my doorway, its slitted, yellow eyeball as large as my head. It began sniffing loudly, its mouth opening to revealing multiple rows of sharp teeth that were each a foot long. Whenever it exhaled, I was surrounded by the hot stench of sulfur.
“You are not Dar,” it said in a rumbly voice.
It wasn’t just a dragon, but a dragon that spoke English? Impossible times impossible.
“I was just about to flame you, thinking you were him. Dar enjoys my stone-melting flame. I was not expecting humans today.”
I flashed back to an ancient movie about a dragon that could talk, along with some famous Scottish actor whose name I couldn’t recall.
“What… who are you?” I asked, my knees knocking together. The primal horror of being eaten alive filled me with terror. If not for Lara obliquely mentioning this creature, and my knowing how much she needed me alive, I would have run screaming down the tunnel to escape. Surely this had to be some kind of advanced hologram, with smelly capability.
That thought gave the courage to walk a couple of steps closer. “You’re… you’re supposed to be a dragon.”
“Yes and no,” it rumbled. “My people are indeed the origin of your myths about such creatures, but what I actually am is a Zentorph. You know, from planet Zenta?” Its voice was so low-pitched and powerful that it made the stone walls vibrate. Its hot breath enveloped me in the further stench of burnt meat.
My fears grew strong again as I quickly stepped backward. I’d seen a lot of very good hologram projectors, but the horrible realization sank in that this wasn’t one of them. “So… you’re… you’re real?” I asked in a voice that suddenly sounded weak and tinny. “A real, talking dragon?”
“No, I just said I’m a Zentorph. Kal El brought me to Earth as a pet. He thought I would grow up to be the size of my fellow Zentorphs, which are the size of big dogs. But there are many sheep in this valley, and I have a great fondness for sheep. We Zentorphs keep growing as long as we are eating well.”
I tried to imagine a dragon flying around snatching up sheep, probably many per day based on the size of this thing. Good thing Little Krypton was big enough to keep that story from the locals.
“Anyway, when I got too big for the zoo, Alura made this home for me, and all I had to do was play Dungeons and Dragons with her friends.”
“She and her friends played D&D here?” I gasped, trying to imagine it. “With a real dragon?!”
“Yes! I so miss those days. It was such great fun and I never flamed or ate a single one of them. Alura was most insistent about that. Thankfully, Freya and Kann still come by sometimes with their friends to play, but children are more fearful these days. Or maybe I’m just bigger.”
My head felt like it was going to explode. I was chatting with a Smaug-sized dragon named Fyre who played D&D with kids.
“So, you came for my friend?” Fyre asked in his rumbling voice.
“You know, I thought she was very dangerous when she first came, years ago. I felt the Darkseid in her. So I flamed her. Many times. And then I ate her. She was very chewy. Unfortunately, my reward for helping save Earth was her squirming around and tickling me from inside for a few days. She was not happy being shit out in a pile of dragon poop, which smells worse than anything on Earth.”
I just stared at Fyre, jaw dropping, trying to imagine spending days going through a dragon’s gut before being shit out. And then I caught myself — the dragon was just fucking with me. Trying to see how gullible I was. But how was I supposed to read a dragon’s expression? He always looked like he was preparing to chomp on me to find out how chewy I was.
The dragon finally gave off a resigned HHMMMFF as it waved a scaly arm toward the next doorway, each of its claws the length of my forearm. “The woman you seek is in there. She is more dangerous than you know.”
“And you’re not?” I asked in astonishment.
The beast shook its head. “I just take care of the castle. Chase off the local boys who try to sneak in here, stuff like that.”
So, some of the locals did know that we had a dragon, even if just kids. I felt my courage slowly returning. I used that to duck low under the dragon’s belly to scramble toward the tunnel exit, all the while hoping he wasn’t going to swat me with his tail. Or stomp on me with clawed feet the size of a Volkswagen. Once outside, I sprinted across to the entrance he’d pointed to. Behind me, I heard the dragon’s snuffling following behind, very aware of those massive fangs only feet from my back. No going back now.
My legs were shaking again by the time the blue sky was blotted out and I entered the darkness of the second tunnel. I walked rapidly down it, seeing a faintly-lit blue door at the end of the tunnel, half opened as it let a warm light out. I had no choice but walk that way given the dragon had stuffed its horned and scaly head into the tunnel entrance, effectively plugging it. I’d almost reached that door when something ran out to knock me to the side. I saw a flash of blonde hair trailing behind a blurred body before whomever it was squeezed past the dragon’s head.
Turning back, I peeked around the door to find an empty apartment. I was trying to decide what to do next when a horrible roar rumbled down the tunnel from the courtyard. It was so loud that it made the stone walls tremble. Then a blinding flash of orange flame lit the tunnel entrance, followed by the beating of massive wings that became a deafening roar, each stroke a hurricane. I ducked low as I worked my way along the walls to struggle back toward the entrance, and then peeked out. My eyes nearly fell out of my head as I saw a nearly naked blonde swinging the dragon around by its tail like it was merely a stuffed animal. The dragon was twisting itself around as it tried to bite her, its massive jaws snapping viciously, blasting flame at the same time. The woman finally tossed the dragon high into the sky to tumble end over end before it was able to flap its wings enough to fly off.
Given its size, the beast had to weigh several times that of an elephant. Which said everything I needed to know about the woman who I now saw was dressed in a tiny black G-string with a wide leather belt buckled around her chest. That and lacy gloves that rose to her upper arms. She wore a gold choker and her hair was a sexy mess, her exotic come-hither look and outfit was the kind you see on a high-end Vegas stripper.
But a stripper who could beat up dragons with her bare hands?
Obviously, I’d just found Athena.
My first thought was that she was a hell of a lot of woman for a kid like Dar to be messing around with. Way too hot, way too experienced. Way too much of everything. She looked mid-twenties, but if this was Athena, then she was actually a century and a half old. She lacked the El family’s tight muscularity, looking softer and rounder instead, but with a chest even larger than Alura’s. Her face was attractive, but also a bit vacant looking, as advertised. Lara’s words ran through my head as I saw the way she was staring at me, mouth open:almost as smart as an ox?
She casually bent down to pick up a chunk of broken stone that had to weigh at least 300 pounds. It looked weightless as she flipped it in her hand. “Who in the hell are you? And where is Dar?”
I nodded toward the stone. “Are you going to hit me with that?”
“Maybe. Depends on why you’re here.”
“I’m Alec. Alura’s fiancé. Lara thinks she might need us to save Dar. You are Athena, right?”
She looked puzzled as she tried to parse and process all that, and then she extended her arm straight out before dropping her huge stone. The ground shook when it hit. “So what’s wrong with Dar?
“He was taken by an Almeracian princess named Alexana, and judging by the seismic reports, they’re getting it on famously in some Utah canyon.”
“Shit!” she exclaimed, her eyes flashing.
“Yeah. That was my first thought too. The Family is trying to extract him, but Alexana has this teleport ability. She’s gone in a blink, taking Dar with her. They need a backup if they can’t get him back with brute force.”
She just stared at me for a long moment. “Not much for smalltalk, are you? But at least you didn’t call me DB like the rest of the family.”
She didn’t sound slow or dumb to me. “I gather there is some unpleasant history with you and Kal El. And with your current friendship with Dar.“
“Friendship?” she laughed. “No way they used that word. More like fuckbuddy. The Family hates me. Why do you think I hide out here with a stinky dragon.”
“Well, I’m not Family. I’m just an ordinary guy who’s in way over his head.”
“And that’s supposed to make me want to work with you? Confidence is sexy, being scared shitless and intimidated isn’t.”
“Well, Lara trusts me to figure a way to get some kind of Green-K fission device close to Alexana. She says Kryptonite doesn’t hurt you, and it won’t hurt me. The rest of them can’t even get near the device.”
“Fission device? As in a nuke?”
I shrugged. “I’m told the yield is just a few tons of TNT.”
“Oh, gee, a tiny firecracker?” she laughed. “So tiny it would like, you know, flatten this entire castle.”
I didn’t laugh. Green-K might not hurt me, but an explosion surely would. Especially a nuke-grade one. “Our job is to get it as close as possible to the Almeracian girl,” I repeated.
“Alexana is no girl. She’s nearly as old as I am.”
“You know her?”
“I’ve run into her. Several times when she came to spy on the El’s. Given how the Family feels about me, she sees me as an ally. But all I see is bad news — she’s got way too much of her father in her.”
“Kal El? I thought you liked him?”
“I don’t know who told you Kal was her father. Zod is.”
I swallowed hard. “You mean… as in, General Zod?”
“Yeah. He and Maxima rule the worlds of Almerac now. It’s not a happy place. Don’t you know anything?”
For someone supposedly with a low intellect, Athena wasn’t living down to her reputation. But then, 150 years of hard living had to be worth something.
“Well, Kal thinks she’s his daughter. That’s what he told everyone.”
“No surprise,” she said with a sad shake. “That’s undoubtably what Maxima wants him to think. She still wants a child by him and the way I see it, she figures she can get Kal to rationalize it all, saying that if one child, then why not two. Kal is big into rationalizing.”
“That’s a relief. Not the last, but the Zod thing. We all thought Dar and Alexana being together was icky.”
“It will be when she squishes him to jelly. And she will.”
“She can hurt Dar? The next Superman?”
“She’s stronger than she looks. Almeracian and Kryptonian power combined.”
“Well, she’s not squishing anyone if we can prevent it.”
“With your Kryptonite nuke?”
“It’s not mine. I’m just supposed to work with you to figure out how to deliver it to Alexana.”
“What’s your job? I mean, given I’m the fucking invulnerable one who can fly.”
“Lara said I was supposed to be the brains.”
She laughed. “And I’m just the Dumb Bunny. Yet you know nothing of combat. Or Almeracians. Or seemingly anything else. And they say I’m stupid.”
“I’ve been around a bit,” I said defensively.
“Yeah, Ok. So, what’s your great plan here?”
“At the moment, talking you into helping save Dar.”
“Well, then you’re done. You had me at Dar. So when do we see this nuke thing? How big is it?”
“Lara’s working on that.”
She reached into her bag and pulled out her MacHolo, and then walked closer to me as she balanced it on her hand while firing up the world grid. She smelled like burnt sulfur. “Show me where Dar is now. And you said we’re the backup. I assume those idiots are going to piss Alexana off first by trying to grab Dar.”
“I presume,” I said. Standing next to Athena was intimidating. Not only was she was taller than me, but she had exaggerated curves and too much of everything, giving off this overpowering sexy vibe. I felt drawn toward her as my ring began to burn again.
She quickly looked away from her Mac to reach down and grab my ring hand, quickly lifting it. Her arm feeling incredibly strong.
“What the fuck is this?” she asked, staring at my glowing ring. Before I could answer, she clasped my hand to her breast.
I gasped and nearly passed out as a wild rush of power raced up my arm like high voltage. Breathing hard, her chest rising and falling dramatically, Athena dropped her computer while slumping to her knees. Before I realized what was happening, she torn my belt open and pulled my pants down to wrap her mouth around me, deep-throat style.
I freaked out as a massive surge of power flowed into my center, grabbing her hair as I tried to push her away. She might as well have been made of solid stone. Well, except for proving to my astonishment that for all her immovability, she very, very good at fellatio, which ensured that my body was suddenly going all in. It took her but seconds to get me to the edge, leaving me a stroke or two away from losing it, at which point she leaned back to release me. Rising smoothing to her feet, I saw anger in her eyes a half second before her open palm impacted my chest. Her blow threw me all the way across the courtyard to crash into the far stone wall. I should have been instantly killed, by the punch if not from the impact, but I barely felt it. Leaping back to my feet, adrenaline surging. I staggered back toward her, very much at attention.
Athena just laughed at me. “So that’s what that ring does! Makes you briefly into a man-of-steel. I see Alura is still into tweaking people to serve her own fucking needs.”
“It’s… it’s not like that,” I tried to say as the intensity of the adrenaline rush started to fade. My thoughts gradually widened. “It’s a… you know, a compatibility thing.”
“Like I said.”
I glared at her while struggling to pull my pants back up. “You know, when I agreed to do this, I was expecting you to be this sweet, innocent but very strong Dumb Bunny that I heard about.”
“Call me that again,” she growled, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, “and I will break you into little pieces. Super ring or not.”
“Look, we obviously got off on the wrong foot, Athena. Can we take a step back and start ove…”
I was cut-off in mid word when the firedrake returned in a hurricane of flapping wings, hitting the ground between myself and Athena, where it began blasting her with full-throat of flame. I dove to the side while rolling to extinguish the flames, and then leap to my feet to sprint toward the closest doorway. Turning back once inside, I watched the dragon burn Athena’s clothing away — what there was of it anyway. The belt buckle over her chest melted as I watched, the leather turning to ash, her gold choker running molten down her chest. She stood naked with her hands on her hips as the dragon huffed and blew again, this time an even bigger blast of blue-hot flame that heated her skin to incandescence. The melting gold of her necklace became a vapor as the stones beneath her toes softened like candle wax. Despite my not being anywhere near the flames, my clothing started smoking and I smelled singed hair. I ducked further into the shadow of the tunnel.
It was a good thing I did, because the dragon kept blasting her again and again, filling most of the courtyard with blue-white flame. The stones at the entrance of the tunnel were soon glowing red. And then everything went quiet.
I waited for a while, watching as the stones at the entrance lost their glow, and then crawled back it. Looking out, I was astounded to see Athena and the dragon dancing, hand in hand, spinning around with a sense of grace that made no sense for an animal that dwarfed an elephant. I think the dragon was trying to smile as it leaned low over her, but all that ensured was that I could see all of its horrible teeth. Athena’s skin was glowing brightly, yet she looked completely natural and comfortable in her skin.
The two of them were clearly playing. They danced for many minutes before she leaped up to hug the dragon’s head and kiss it on an eyeball. The dragon began to flap its mighty wings again, the blasts of air so strong they shoved me backward down the tunnel. The slow beat of its wings became a deafening roar, each stroke a hurricane, and then it was gone, leaving the air filled with dust.
I couldn’t help but remember what Alura had said back at that burger joint in that little town, about how the local people didn’t think Little Krypton was even part of Earth anymore.
They absolutely had that right!
Athena eventually appeared naked in the entrance of the tunnel, her skin faded to a dull red. She was carrying the smashed remains of her MacHolo, which was further melting in her hands. I retreated ahead of her into the small apartment, only to find that it had a huge bed made of massive stone along with some comfortable furniture in the middle of the room and a small kitchen at the opposite end.
This was obviously where Dar and Athena had their little get-togethers.
Athena reeked of sulfur and burnt meat as she entered, but her skin was no longer glowing. “So now that we’ve been properly introduced, let’s figure out what we’ve gotta do,” she said, not even breathing hard despite her exertions.
“That was what you call proper? A blow job?”
“I stopped before it became that.”
“Somehow I don’t think Alura would agree. You know, about my dick down your throat not being sex.”
“No, she wouldn’t, and she’d blame me completely, as she should.” She tilted her head. “But I sure wish I could have seen the look on your face.”
“Here’s a clue: it was shock and then anger.”
“Whatever. Alura fucking hates me. Everyone in the Family but Dar does. But I honestly don’t give a shit what they think. I want to save Dar. Nothing else matters.”
She stepped into an open shower stall that was cut into the stone wall, and turned on the water. She turned back to face me while soaping herself up, clearly enjoying being on display. “Tell me about this place where Alexana and Dar are hanging out,” she said as she scrubbed.
“A canyon in the red rock area of southern Utah. At least that’s where they were at when I left Control. I presume the rest of the Family has tried to retrieve Dar by now, so no telling where they are now.”
“Those canyons are good. No collateral damage beyond the canyon itself. Supersex will bring down canyon walls. Plow up the Earth. Create Earth tremors. Dig craters. At least when it’s done right.”
I swallowed hard, my fear of inadequacy raising its ugly head again — that wasn’t how Alura and I were together. We might break a conventional bed, but that’s about it.
I angrily forced that thought away, trying to think like a historian and journalist. Her story hadn’t been told and it would make for very interesting reading. “You know, Athena, I’m a historian by trade, also a bit of a journalist, and I strongly believe that the best way to improve your stature with the Els is to get your own story out there. Given your 150 years, it must be quite a story.”
She said nothing as she rinsed off and stepped out of the shower. Opening her eyes wide, she began to play pinkish warm beams down her long legs, across her breasts. Turning and twisting very flexibly, she dried everything she could reach with her eyes in seconds. I was used to this drying routine with Alura — although it shocked me to see Athena doing it. I walked over to hand her a large towel, assuming she’d wrap it around herself, but instead she used it to dry her hair, lifting her arms over her head, her boobs rising high enough to nearly poke me in the eye. Her chest jiggled more than Alura’s, but she was otherwise very much a Kryptonian.
I lifted my head to see her looking down at me, her eyes a cool blue again. “You’ve got heat vision? I thought only pure-born Krypts had that.”
“Never used to have anything special that way, but Dar has been very good for me. Youth is its own strength. He’s making me younger and stronger and yes, my eyes can now heat just a little.” She tilted her head to consider me closely. “You know, I’ve been thinking about how much more intense the power transfer from Dar to me would be if I was wearing that ring of yours. I might become as strong as him.”
“Alura said to never take it off,” I said lamely. Clearly, there was nothing I could do to stop her if she wanted to take it.
“Of course she said not to. You’re her boy toy.”
“It’s not like that with us. We’ve been living together for the last year. We’re getting married.”
“And you two have been having sex on every opportunity since she gave you that X-ring. Right?”
“That’s not really any of your…”
She laughed. “That’s a yes. Yet there isn’t a man on this planet, family excluded, who could truly put stars in Alura eyes. Except, of course, for an extreme athlete wearing an X-ring.”
“There’s a lot more to us than that,” I objected, starting to get angry.
“Ok, I’ll drop it. Why don’t we…”
She was interrupted by a deafening bellow from the dragon as it shouted down the tunnel. “Three soldiers in a combat vehicle approaching. They’re wearing personal armor.”
“They’re from HAIF,” I shouted back. “Bring them here.”
“Be nice,” Athena added loudly. Turning to me, she asked, “Does HAIF know about dragons?”
I shrugged, only to have Fyre answer with a roar and a flash of flame. “They do now.”
Athena was out the doorway in half a second, still nude. I couldn’t help but chuckle — a dragon and Athena in the buff — this I had to see. I sprinted down the tunnel to emerge into the courtyard just in time to see Fyre rising in a storm of dust kicked up by its huge wings. Athena was sitting on its head in the nude, holding onto its horns. He rose up and over the west wall of the castle as I raced through the blowing dust to find the door I’d first entered through.
I found it and made it outside just in time to see Fyre lay down a hundred yard long path of flame in front of an approaching military vehicle. It skidded to a stop as three men in personal armor jumped out to crouch beside it, weapons aimed. Fyre made a low pass over the soldiers as Athena jumped off to float down and hover in front of the men’s rifles.
I couldn’t hear what she was saying , but the men lowered their rifles as one and stood up. They kept one eye on Athena and one on Fyre as the dragon flew back to land inside the castle. The men slowly walked forward to circle around Athena, weapons at the ready. Despite landing barefoot in the dirt, she stood taller than any of the combat-booted men. She slowly shifted her weight from foot to foot as she moved very flexibly, almost sensuously, almost like she was slow dancing. Needless to say, between the dragon she’d arrived on, her nudity and her incredible figure, not to mention her own flight ability, she now had their full attention.
Chuckling, I retreated back into the compound. “So, I gather you’re not going to flame them when they come in,” I said to Fyre.
“If they behave, then no,” he said in his rumbling voice.
“We’re on a mission to save Alura’s brother. The soldiers are part of that.”
“A worthy goal. But who I really miss is Alura. I gather you and she have a thing.”
I looked at the huge dragon, mystified by its speech. “You talk like a human. Right down to common expressions. How can that be?”
“I’ve been living here for a hundred years or so, removed from all contact with my own. Human rubs off.”
“I bet you’d be a lot of fun to take to a bar for drinks.”
Fyre rumbled as he laughed. “I’d never get through the door. And even if I did, who would drink with me?”
“Only until you realized that alcohol ignites before I can swallow it. And a decent shot for me is a couple of gallons. Flame breath is considered very rude on Earth.”
Turning, I headed back down the tunnel. Given I was supposed to be the brains, I figured I’d try and act like it. I didn’t hear any more roars from Frye, and minutes later Athena floated through the door with the HAIF soldiers in tow. The three men looked really shook up, eyes wide as they tried not to stare at her ass, which admittedly was pretty spectacular. She lowered the temperature in the room — slightly — by walking over to the bed to pull on a white robe. Not surprising, it was both too short and too small to close completely over her chest. But she wasn’t technically nude any longer.
I decided this was my cue. “I’m Alec Johanson and this is Ath…”
“Bunny. Bunny Play,” Athena quickly interrupted.
I tried not to laugh. Obviously Athena Tremor wasn’t her public name, but Bunny Play? I wondered — not for the first time — what she did for a living.
The soldier standing in the middle said: “Well, I’m Lieutenant Jones, that’s Sergeant Smith and this is Sergeant Brown.”
Obviously not their real names either. “Welcome to our humble abode, Jones, Smith and Brown. What’s the plan here?”
“Was that really a… dragon?” Brown asked, wide-eyed.
“Don’t call him that or you’ll really piss him off,” Athena said with a straight face. “He’s usually gentle, but when he’s pissed, he either flames or eats people. Sometimes both. He’s a Zentorph. Brought here from far across the galaxy by Superman to be his pet. His name is Fyre.”
The HAIF men struggled to process all that. They weren’t qualified to fight dragons, or Zentorphs for that matter, which they’d never heard off. But Superman’s pet?!
“I saw Dragon Quest,” Smith blurted out. “To kill ‘em, you gotta get under the scales, which are less dense at the back. I’ll give him a stab of HAIFish power right up his jackson if he tries to eat me.”
I just stared at Smith, slowly shaking my head. Dragon Quest was a Holo serial that was was told from the perspective of the dragon. “Not sure that actually qualifies as training, Sergeant.”
The Lieutenant shook his head. “Save it Sergeant. Our orders are to deliver a package to this location and to provide the current coordinates of the target. Nothing more.”
“Then let’s get it done,” I said.
The Lieutenant motioned to Smith who turned around to reveal he was wearing a metal backpack. Brown opened the pack and removed a narrow box about eight inches long that was obviously heavy, especially given its size. The burly-looking sergeant shuffled over to hand it to me, but Athena was there to intercept it. She tossed it in her hand as if it weighed but ounces.
“Normally, you must have advanced training before handling that weapon, but here’s the gist of it. The device inside the lead case is a highly radioactive form of syn-Kryptonite. It fissions easily at low critical masses so we can build very low yield devices. The primary effect is an intense burst of Kryptonite radiation that incapacitates Kryptonians.”
“You can say “kill” Lieutenant. We are not Kryptonians.”
The men watched Athena closely as she held the case, but was obviously unaffected by it. They’d assumed she was another Kryptonian, especially here on the edge of Little Krypton.
“Krypts who get within a hundred feet can feel its effects,” the Lieutenant continued, “and that’s when its inside the lead case. When outside the case, they can’t stay conscious long enough to hold it.”
Athena grabbed the two sides of the case and tore the lock open. Inside was what looked like a metal cigar tube with a small display screen. Athena held it as she dropped the case. “Doesn’t look like a Kryptonian-killing bomb.”
“Ma’am would you hold that close to your chest for a moment as you turn around,” Smith said. “I need to check your body for attenuation.”
“Attenuation? People have checked my body for many things, but I’ve never heard of attenuation.”
“We want to determine how much of the radiation your flesh absorbs,” the Lieutenant added.
“So how about I bury it?” She slipped it into her cleavage and mounded herself over it.
To their credit, the soldiers looked down at their meters. Standing directly behind her, the rapid ticking of Brown’s meter slowed to nearly nothing.
“Good,” the Lieutenant said. “You will need to innocuously shield it with your body as you approach the target, and then detonate it as close as possible. Lethal range is unknown, but probably not very far. Contact with the target is recommended.”
Athena laughed. “I can think of three ways to conceal your little nuke, but I’m not swallowing the damn thing.”
Brown’s face flushed red. “We are not prescribing any particular option, other than to ensure that the target will not see it or feel the approach of the syn-K rads until you are in lethal range.”
“So let me get this straight,” Athena said, “I’m supposed to wrap myself around Alexana while detonating this micro-nuke thingy inside me. Somewhere.”
The Lieutenant looked shocked. “No, we assume you’ll remove it. Get it in contact with the target.” He pulled a small vial from a zipped pocket. “There are several q-wave detonators here. Slip one or more over your teeth, where they will be nearly invisible. When you want to detonate, just bite down on one of them. Very hard. The device is already armed and ready.”
“Armed…?” I said, suddenly worried about the casual way Athena was holding it.
“It’s perfectly safe until you crush one of these.” He handed me the vial with the detonators.
I quickly slipped it into my Jeans pocket for safe keeping. Last thing I wanted to do was drop or step on it.
“So that’s it?” Athena asked. “How are we supposed to get close to her?”
“We’re from the Armory, Ma’am.” He turned to look worriedly at me. “I was told by Miss Lara that you would be handling the planning and execution, Sir.”
“That’s correct,” I said, knowing there was no value in keeping the soldiers here any longer. “Please say goodbye to Fyre on the way out — you don’t want to insult him — and make sure you don’t call him a dragon. In fact, don’t even think it. Fyre is a bit psychic and he may hear your thoughts.”
I struggled not to smile as the men looked wide-eyed at me for a long moment, then at each other before reluctantly turning to filter back down the tunnel. They looked like men going to their doom, what with having to face an honest to god fire-breathing dragon for a second time, all the while struggling mightily not to even think of it as a dragon. I felt a wave of simple glee wash over me, the kind I used to feel as a kid. I’m betting the ranch kids feel the same way when they first bring a friend to meet Fyre. The overactive imagination of D&D zealot meets real flame-breathing, talking dragon. It would have blown my mind when I was ten.
But then, these kids go to school with Kryptonians every day.
“Well, I think I’m ready,” Athena said from behind, interrupting my train of thought. I turned to smile at her. She was wearing a red leotard with a golden belt and some red dance slippers. And she was no longer holding the Kryptonite nuke.
“So, you are a superheroine after all. And where, might I ask, delicately, is the nuke now?”
“In a safe and secure spot.” She reached out with her hand. “May I have the detonators?”
I handed her the vial, my hand shaking. “My advice is to withdraw the weapon when you are close and then toss it at Alexana’s feet as you bite down on the detonator. It’ll have to be done too quickly for her to react, and you won’t be able to get away.”
She shrugged. “So what. I’m invulnerable. Duh.”
“After the detonation, you’ll need to get them both a few miles away from ground zero, and fast. That area will be too radioactive with Kryptonite for any of the Els to approach. Once you are out of the canyon, the rest of the Family will meet you to take Dar for resuscitation and Alexana to some special jail, where I presume she’ll be bound in Kryptonite.”
“Are they going to revive her too?”
“I assume, once she’s secure.”
“Big assumption, Alec. These are the Els you’re talking about. She’s a threat. If they do nothing, her death won’t technically be on their hands.”
“I only know what Lara told me.”
“Well, if I pull this off, they’re all going to owe me big-time.”
“All the more reason for me to write your story. The beginning of a new relationship between you and the Els.”
She walked up and hugged me. “You’re the first person who ever cared about that.” Without thinking, I kissed her. “For luck.”
She laughed while floating toward the doorway. “Don’t you know… we make our own luck. But the kiss was nice.”
And with that she was gone.
Looking around, it suddenly hit me. I was alone, ten miles from anywhere and I didn’t have a Holonet or Comm of any kind or any type of vehicle. A life and death struggle was happening out there, and I had only a talking dragon for company.
That last thought brought a grin. I’ve got a talking dragon and a superheroine the world has mostly forgotten about.
There’s one hell of a story in that.