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Dark Supergirl Part 01

Written by shadar :: [Monday, 21 January 2013 12:30] Last updated by :: [Thursday, 24 April 2014 10:48]

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This is the story of an epic battle between the forces of good and evil. Between the unrestrained superpowers of two extraterrestrial races: the Arions and the Velorians, both members of the genetically-engineered Homo Sapiens Supremis race. A race that once-upon-a-time was human.

Mandi Olsen is an Arion Betan living secretly on Earth as part of an Arion advance team. Her job, along with many others like her, is to infiltrate our political, governmental and media organizations so as to fan the flames of war and ethnic and religious strife in preparation for a "peaceful" conquest by the Empire. But unknown to her masters in the Arion’s Near Earth Command, she was born with a Diaboli's mental powers and not just the usual physical powers of her race. Her real agenda goes far beyond the conquest of Earth. 

Sharon Best is a Velorian Scribe who is also secretly living on Earth. She works for the Velorian Oversight Council, which is itself part of the Enlightenment, a movement determined to stop the evils of the Arion Empire. She has embedded herself into the ebb and flow of life on our planet so as to better understand the fragile humans of the planet the Velorians call Manhome — the fertile origin world of the far-flung human race. Unlike the designated Protector of Earth, Kara Zaver'el, who is known to the public as SuperFemme, Sharon’s job is not to fight the Arions but rather to record, to watch, and to report back to the Velorian Council. She is the Council's eyes and ears on this most critical of worlds. 

Sharon becomes the target for Mandi’s ambition to free herself of both Empire and Enlightenment, and a stepping stone toward her ambition of ruling an entire planet. 

 

 A Dark SuperGirl Arises - Part One

Chapter One 

"Day in the Life"

By Shadar and Tex Beethoven

(Revision: 21)

(Originally drafted in 1995 for the Aurora Universe. Updated in 2012.)

 

Monterey Bay, California

It had been a hell of a week. One long meeting had followed another as each crisis built on the wreckage of the previous one. We’d lost half our market share after our principal competitor had launched their new product, and the Board was threatening to can our CEO and my friend, Jeff Bezos. Finance didn’t think our cash was going to be enough to meet the payroll past the end of the quarter. As I said, a hell of a week.

Typical of the high-tech industry, we lived or died on every product. And we only had one product. I’d been the lone voice warning the staff about this possibility for the last four months, but Engineering never listens to Marketing until its too late. Even worse, Jeff had gotten overly involved with his obsession with building and racing Formula 1 cars. That and his sparkling, new trophy wife, who (as I had warned him) had proven to be very high maintenance. He had money and he wasn't hungry, and a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who isn't hungry is nothing more than dog chow with the wolves were circling.

Jeff would be singed if we failed, but I would be devastated, and I wasn't going down without a fight. I hadn't traveled thousands of light-years to fail at business, of all things. (Not that running a company had anything to do with why I’d come to this corner of the universe.) I’d been born a Prima-1 back on Velor, and we Primas don’t like to lose at anything. While I might not be a mighty Protector like Kara, I’d been born with the same DNA as hers, and we Primas are warriors born. Much of our competitiveness and personality is in our genes.  If not for Kara's enhancement by the Galen goddess named Aphrodite, we could have been sisters. 

Now she's a goddess by most people's definition and I'm just a lonely Scribe whose job is to watch and record events here on Earth so I could report them to the Velorian Council. It was as boring a job as there could be given that the struggle between our great civilizations is being fought underground here on Earth.  

My father was a scientist back on Velor, and from him I learned the value of scientific knowledge and how to use it to change my life. So once I figured out how things worked here on Earth, I got involved with launching this high tech company. It might have started as an amusement, something to keep me from going insane with boredom, but now its become an obsession. There was something intoxicating about plucking an idea out of mid-air and turning it into a living, breathing company full of dynamic people. People who depended upon us to make a go of it.

I'd started my quest two years ago when I came to the San Jose, California area. I started hanging out at the Odyssey, a bar where all the tech entrepreneurs drank while swapping lies with their buddies as they collectively tried to figure out what each other were doing. It was a strange mix of gathering industrial intelligence and sewing misinformation, coupled with a geek's love of technology and the inflated egos that came from success in the rich soil of Silicon Valley.  I loved the discussions, and given the way I look, I was able to talk to anyone. But I always made sure I bought my own drinks, and I turned the constant barrage of pickup lines into discussions about market share, profit, engineering capabilities and development cycles. 

The regulars figured out soon enough that I was serious about getting into a tech startup. That's where I heard about Jeff Bezos and Harry Stiltson. Jeff had several successful tech startups under his belt, and Harry is an absolute engineering genius. It didn't take me long to decide these two men were the ones I wanted to work with. From there it was a simple matter of encouraging some guys to hold a reunion of the former employees of the first company that Jeff had started, LogicCraft. When Jeff and Harry arrived at their party, I introduced myself.

I was deliberately over-dressed for the casually atmosphere of the Odyssey, what with my black Givenchy gown looking both both classy and sexy. It was the kind of dress most people wear to high-brow cocktail parties. I brushed my hair over one shoulder and when I met Jeff and Harry, I looked at them the way I would another Velorian. While I normally soften my gaze around humans to keep from overwhelming them with my directness, but not these men. I wanted to overwhelm them.

Jeff had a reputation as a player, and I could immediately tell that he knew his way around women.  He bounced back and forth between trying to charm me and trying to interrogate me about what I actually knew about the business. He was turned on and reacting strongly to me as a woman, but at the same time he was trying to be very professional. I like guys who can handle both the way I look and the way I think.

Most men can't, unfortunately. Harry for instance. He stared at me constantly when I was talking to Jeff, doing the whole undressing me with his eyes thing, but every time I turned to look at him, his eyes shifted away. He obviously had issues socializing with women. Some men, particularly those with weak social skills, have trouble believing that exceptional good looks and exceptional intelligence can co-exist in the same body. So I went out of my way to just act like one of the guys with him. I repeated a few of the raunchier techie jokes I'd overheard in the bar, and that seemed to break the ice. But instead of joking around and flirting with me, he challenged me to describe what I thought I was doing joining their little reunion. Given that nobody knew who I was. 

 

I skillfully moved the discussion from me to some ideas for some new high-tech products that I had. The three of wound up talking until the bar closed, and then we went back to Jeff's place where his way-too-young ex-model wife glared at me suspiciously as she kept a close eye on her husband. She realized that I could walk onto any catwalk and blow the supermodels away, so it was incomprehensible to her that her new husband was only interested in me as a potential partner in the male-dominated geekiness of the Valley. I enlisted her into keeping the cappuccinos flowing until dawn, but she was otherwise invisible as we talked. She finally grew angry at not being the focus of attention, but Jeff bluntly explained that this was the way things went in the Valley. Feast or famine. You were either all in or totally out. Time of day meant nothing to the true believers. Which we were. 

By nine in the morning  Jeff and Harry had completely gotten past my blonde hair, long legs and too-blue eyes. They were focused instead on the fact that I had ideas for products that nobody else was talking about. Products that had Harry buzzing with excitement. We continued to meet every other day for the next three weeks as we put together a prospectus and a business plan. Then we hit the streets looking for financing. 

Harry was well known among the movers and shakers of Silicon Valley, and Jeff had made a hundred million plus by spinning off several previous tech companies. I was the newcomer to the Valley (in ways beyond their wildest imagination). While my newness would normally mean I didn't have contacts and connections, I actually had a wealth of inside information about our potential competitors. I was feeding them good, useable intel that they couldn't get anywhere else. And thanks to my strong scientific education, unusual for a Velorian, I was able to keep up with Harry. Plus I never got tired. I worked around the clock. 

They decided I was some kind of prodigy. A product marketing genius. Despite arriving from the ends of the universe (which was more or less how they viewed Australia) I seemed to be the most connected woman in the Valley. Yet strangely, nobody they talked to had ever heard of me. 

I couldn't tell them that I wasn't simply networking with friends or using conventional intel gathering techniques. Instead, I was looking through walls of buildings and inside safes and reading computer screens and listening to conversations that were taking place inside a building, all without leaving the parking lot. 

Of course, using my Velorian powers this way was industrial espionage and not fair at all, let alone legal, but who would ever suspect. Besides, I told myself I'd play by the rules once I got established.  

Jeff delivered the magic by wrangling a meeting with Bainer Investments, one of the premier venture capital firms in the Valley. I made the marketing pitch first, but I was just the warmup act. Since I was a complete unknown, I was mostly eye candy. Harry was the one who put the meat on the grill by working through the engineering and cost opportunities of the products I'd defined. Jeff followed to describe our financial requirements. I closed the meeting with a summary of the competitive picture, claiming that we were about to create an entirely new and lucrative market. 

Our pitch was tight and solid, but as usual, the Bainer people were noncommittal. They sat through presentations like ours several times a week. Jeff said the rule of thumb was that we'd need to pitch this at least three times to strike gold. Word would get around that we'd been at Bainer first and other venture capital firms would invite us in. Nobody wanted to miss out on the next hot thing. 

We'd checked in our visitor badges and were on our way out of the Bainer building when the top guy, Miles Thomas, caught up to us in the elevator. He turned his back to Jeff and Harry as he boldly asked me to have a drink with him so we could talk further about the marketing opportunities. Given we were proposing an entirely new market segment. Hypothetically only, of course. 

I tasted opportunity. Given my 5'11" height and supermodel looks, I draw a lot of male attention my way. I'd also slowly run my fingers through my hair before shaking hands with Mr. Big at the end of our meeting, and that let me lay a few pheromones on him. Chemical warfare, I know, but I really want to scratch this toehold into Earth, and I wasn't too proud to use a man like Mr. Big to accomplish that.

Miles was reputedly a disciplined man and honest in his own way, but if there is one thing you can say about rich, powerful men, they all have a strong sense of self-entitlement and they believe they are irresistible to beautiful women. God knows how many trophy wives are unhappily stashed away here in Silicon Valley, flush with money and boring husbands who always talk about work. But even with all that, it was still very poor form for him to ask me, the junior member of the team, for a private after-hours meeting. It was equally poor form for me to accept, especially with the top guy of the firm we were pitching. But I'm a Velorian, so of course I jumped in with both feet and said I'd love to join him for a drink. Like all Velorians, my invulnerable body was made to be used hard and put away wet. So to speak. 

Jeff looked pissed at first, and then a little amused. He knew I had a girlfriend, so he couldn't understand why I was accepting such an inappropriate invitation. He had no idea what I'd done to Mr. Big with my pheromones or anything else about my true nature. As he told me later, he was just hoping I wouldn't screw things up. 

Harry was clueless as usual. He thought we really were going to talk about marketing. 

The men all shook hands and the guys left while I rode the elevator down to the basement to slip into a Mercedes limo with Mr. Big. 

The drinks were in a very expensive private club, and dinner was at the hottest new restaurant in the valley. Miles made a point of getting the most visible table in the restaurant so he could introduce me to all his friends. Friends who were there because Miles's Admin had called his friend's Admins and together they'd managed to get reservations on short-notice in a restaurant that was theoretically sold out for months. Miles had some serious pull in the valley, given that his picture had been on the cover of Fortune magazine a few times and he was frequently quoted by the Wall Street Journal and the San Jose Mercury News. 

 

That said, Mr. Big had no idea what he was in for as I amped up the seduction. I ran my fingers through my long hair to cast my pheromones onto the air as I began playing the entire room. Soon, every man in the restaurant wanted me more than he'd ever wanted anything before, so much so that they ignored their wives and girlfriends to stare at me. I heard them all whispering about me, wondering what I was doing with Miles. His new girlfriend? The last one had been a former model and television celebrity and I was way hotter and younger than her. 

The murmured speculation at the surrounding tables pushed Mr. Big's ego right through the roof.  He was so turned on that he was having trouble eating. It didn't help when I slipped off one shoe under the table and began began to trace my toes along his growing erection. He tried to keep eating, but he was losing it. I withdrew my toe, slowly slipped on my shoe and rose to walk around behind his chair to lean over him, my blonde hair cascading over him, flooding him with my scent. I whispered that I wanted him -- right now. That I couldn't wait any longer. I said it just loudly enough for the people at the next table to hear (and of course whisper to everyone else once we'd left). 

Miles dropped his fork in mid-bite and waved the waiter over to pay, leaving him a huge tip. He then rose to wrap his arm possessively around me as he stiffly walked me to the door. I heard a smattering of applause follow me down the hallway. I should have become an actress instead of a businesswoman.

I worried at first that my performance had been over the top. Being Velorian, I'm prone to going way too far around humans, of overwhelming them, but I quickly learned that men like Mr. Big have infinitely expandable egos. He truly thought I was the one who couldn't resist him. 

His driver nearly hit a couple of cars as he stared into the rearview mirror as I straddled him on the seat and let him have me. Apparently this had never happened before in Mr. Big's limo. I was even starting to enjoy myself when Miles surprised me by displaying the premature eagerness of a teenage boy. So much for the sophisticated mogul of venture capitalism and all the other jazz he claimed to be. But then, I'd robbed him of all his self-control back in the restaurant. My natural perfume has been designed to excite the gods, and he was just a man.

Fortunately my pheromones started to work their secondary magic by the time we got back to his luxury penthouse. Mr. Big quickly found to his delight that he was now as strong and indefatigable as a bull. He didn't question his unexplained surge in strength, nor his phenomenal sexual vitality and control, which included the best erection he'd ever had (which wasn't saying much), or the fact that he could go and go. I slipped into the continuous orgasm of a Velorian, coming a few dozen times in that first hour, and even more in the second hour, something he'd never experienced before. In his arrogant way, he concluded he had to be the best lover on the planet. He'd never heard of a man who could keep a woman going for hours like he was with me. He didn't even need any rest before he was ready to continue after his climaxes. He began to think he was a super man. 

I wasn't going going to pop his delusion, or tell him that he was going to pay a very heavy price for his enthusiasm tomorrow. Likely he was going to have trouble walking for a few days and it was going to be a lot longer than that before he got his mojo back. But he'd have the bright memory of an absolutely epic sexual encounter. That's what I wanted him to remember every time he thought of me. Pavlovian techniques are useful for training more than merely dogs.

He finally passed out from exhaustion at three in the morning. I took a very long shower at his place to wash his smell away before returning home to snuggle up with my girlfriend, Deb. She knows that I'm bisexual and she knows about the outrageous excesses of Velorian sexual behavior, but she doesn't like either. So I usually don't talk about guys. But tonight I leveled with her. I filled her in on the game plan, describing the way I'd driven Mr. Big and that entire restaurant of uber-rich geeks wild and the way he'd briefly become a super man. Given she hangs out with this group of anti-capitalist anarchists, she loves anything I do that exploits "capitalist pigs" like Mr. Big. Enough to forgive me for coloring outside the lines of our relationship. The way she described it, rich capitalists don't count, just as long as I'm totally fucking the system and not just the man. 

Sometimes she thinks more like a Velorian than I do.

It didn't go nearly so well when I filled Jeff and Harry in on my date with Mr. Big. I tried to mention it only in passing, but Jeff's young admin, Amy, pumped me for details. I wound up over sharing a bit, which tickled Jeff but really pissed off Harry. He was convinced that my unprofessional behavior had just ruined our chances with Bainer. There was no way they'd fund a company whose marketing director was "willing to fuck her way to financing" as he gracelessly described it. 

I didn't take it personally, especially since he was technically correct. But Harry's got Aspergers Syndrome -- he's basically an extremely high-functioning autistic -- so he has no clue how to process this kind of situation. He has trouble with emotions in general. Like Hello. 

Harry stormed off, but Jeff couldn't wipe the grin off his face as he walked me back to my office where he privately congratulated me on my unconventional sales pitch. He'd been around enough to know how things worked in the Valley and he could certainly vouch for the way men behaved around me. He also knew that Miles had a reputation for playing the one-upmanship game, and since I was clearly the hottest-looking tech executive in town, it was his guess that Miles would continue to take a very personal interest in us. 

I took advantage of that moment to hit Jeff up on the idea of making me one of the founders. Jeff, Harry and Sharon. I said that while I might not have the chops for the job, this was my first go at a startup after all, I was the one with the product ideas. I came on strong. To hell with being demure. That wasn't going to fly in any case after last night.   

Jeff just laughed as he raised his hands in surrender. He said he'd always planned for the founder's stock to go three ways. I gave him a very unprofessional hug, the two of us clinging to each other for about a second too long. His face was flushed when we separated, his heart pounding, but he kept his head. He said he had only one condition -- that all my meetings with Mr. Big had to start with significant discussions about our company and our progress, and he would prepare the talking points.  

I laughingly accused him of being my pimp, but he reminded me that this company, if we got funded, was based on my ideas and my initiative. This was  my cherry. I could hardly be faulted for going all out, Mr. Big and all. 

From that day forward, we truly understood each other.

We'll never know if our pitch in the boardroom carried the day or whether it was my after-hours performance with Mr. Big that made us stand out from the pack, but it didn’t matter when a project manager from Bainer called with an offer to stake us to the tune of fifty million dollars, with another fifty million held in reserve based on our initial development cycle and prototype performance. He said he was sending over an agreement for us to sign. 

Amazingly, we'd hit a home-run during our first time at bat. Jeff broke out the really good Scotch and we began to celebrate.

To his credit, Jeff was concerned when the contract arrived with a stipulation that Mr. Big was to receive a personal report from me once a month, but only a quarterly review by the rest of the staff. Jeff knew what my report would entail, and despite our playful banter from yesterday, he was actually worried about me.   

I told him it was no big deal, but he wasn't convinced. He wanted to negotiate the terms to remove that clause, but I said no. Leave it as is. I could handle it. 

I couldn't just tell him that "whatever it takes" is every Velorian's motto. Or that being as invulnerable as I am, I'm unable to catch or pass on any disease or get pregnant from a human or get hurt in any way, so sex wasn't risky for me. He knew I had a girlfriend, so he was further surprised by my willingness and my skill in dealing with Mr. Big. He had no way of knowing that my power to seduce men had been deliberately engineered into my genes. He had no idea how hard I normally work to keep that power turned off.

To their credit, Bainer did exactly as they'd promised. They left us completely alone other than those pre-arranged meetings. We all went into full Silicon Valley startup mode as we began hiring a staff. Our personal lives went on hold as we all sweat blood and tears and lived on stale pizza and endured lack of sleep for over a year to plant our roots in the rich entrepreneurial soil of Silicon Valley. We knew we’d made it when Bainer released the second fifty million so we could ramp up production of our first product. 

It was a huge hit, and Bainer started talking IPO, which would make us all rich. That made everyone work all the harder. Unlike the others, however, I wasn't doing this for money. This was all about testing myself in ways other than the ones I'd been engineered for. Of doing things that people back on Velor would never understand, given they live in what we would consider an ultra-socialistic government here on Earth. Coming from that background, I'd found free enterprise and entrepreneurialism to be an intoxicating drug that I couldn't get enough of.

Our company did really well until our second product landed like a steaming turd. The concept was great, but Jeff had pushed Harry to get it out early and Harry had buckled by allowing Engineering to push it into production before they'd worked out the bugs. Happens every day in Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, I was caught flat-footed when a third of the units we sold failed after a couple of months in the field. Quality Control and Reliability were Harry's responsibilities, along with our new VP of Quality, and they blew it. 

Given it was my job to market the product (and I couldn't sell junk), I took a lot of heat that should have been focused on Engineering and Quality. For me, this fight was personal. We all had skin in the game, me more than anyone. Which was why I'd convinced Jeff to arrange for the senior staff — a dozen of us now -- to come here to this Monterey Bay hotel and closet ourselves until we found a fix.  Not for the quality issues -- those had proven intractable -- but by deciding on a new product. One that worked. One we could manufacture properly and one that would have a huge market.

What we couldn't do was ask Bainer for more money. I had been avoiding Mr. Big for the last couple of months and I definitely didn't want to restart things with him. He was starting to get addicted to my pheromones, and I'd already heard that things were not going well between him and his wife. I suspected that was at least partially my problem. The side-effect of too much pheromone exposure was that men became incapable of getting aroused around women who didn't emit them. As in, every normal woman on Earth. 

I planted myself in the front of the conference room and showed them several ways to save the company. I had a half-dozen proposals prepared for products that could put us back on top again. For once, the engineers quit staring at my legs and concentrated on what I was saying. I pulled out all the stops. I blew them all away by proposing products that they'd never dreamed about. Which got them asking a lot of questions I didn't want to answer. I could hardly tell them that each of my proposed devices was in common use on some planet other than Earth.  Especially given that everything I proposed was at or beyond the limits of our technical capabilities as a company. Maybe Intel could make them, but not us. 

After a lot of discussion, Engineering concluded they could probably build one of them -- a non-lethal weapon that sent out a piercing ultrasonic frequency that was modulated to interfere with a person’s sense of balance. I claimed that anyone struck by the narrow beam would collapse into such profound dizziness that they’d be unable to even sit up. They’d hug the ground as their world spun around like a top. Then they'd barf their guts for ten minutes, after which they'd recover completely.  I called it the Sonic Stunner -- the ultimate non-lethal weapon. It would save lives. It also opened the door for us to completely resell the market that was currently owned by Tasers and pepper spray weapons. That market was measured in the tens of millions of units worldwide. 

I viewed it as the door opener to creating a company that could design extremely high-tech weapons using alien technology. Likely there would come a time when that capability might save the Earth.

To say that Harry was skeptical of my first weapon proposal would be an understatement. He'd been acting weird around me ever since my initial encounter with Mr. Big, and he'd unfairly projected much of the failure for the second product on me.   Sometimes he looked at me like I was from Mars,  and I feared he might suspect that I truly was an extraterrestrial -- after all, he's brilliant beyond reckoning. And given he's unburdened by emotions, he sees things others don't. Unfortunately, that means he talks about me in very uncharitable ways when he thinks I can't hear him. The engineering nickname for me was SeeBIM, which didn't mean anything to me until I heard someone explain it to a new-hire: the Slutty Blonde In Marketing. To his credit, the engineer explaining it sounded embarrassed about it all. 

I was offended until Amy told me that's how many Aspergers men handle attractive women. They think we use our looks to gain special privilege. No wonder he hates me, given I've managed to validate his opinion of me. 

Of course, he'd feel different if he knew the whole story. About the Arion plans to enslave everyone on Earth, or the fact that I spend all of my time when I'm not working to stay on top of the Arions and Superfemme while reporting back to Velor in order to help stop the Arions from enslaving him. That my occasional unplanned absences are directly related to helping root out some Arion filth so Kara could clean it up. Thankfully, I rarely need sleep. 

Unfortunately, I couldn't tell Harry what was really going on, and he couldn't separate professional from personal behavior. His emotional maturity had stopped somewhere around thirteen years of age, and his ability to empathize and understand other people's emotions is pretty much zilch. But he was brilliant and perceptive beyond the usual human limits when it came to everything else. He was vital to my success even if he was my personal skeptic.  

He didn't waste time after my marketing pitch to call several scientists and medical researchers along with security consultants and even a weapons developer he knew. None of them believed that a collection of sounds could so throughly confuse the balance region of a person’s brain. Harry brought those opinions to the next meeting where he more or less called my proposal bullshit. He refused to let his guys work on it.

Jeff looked at me with raised eyebrow. He's an organization guy, not an engineer. He couldn't judge who was right, so he told Harry to have his guys work with me to set up a demo. The Sonic Stunner would either work as I claimed or it wouldn't. Simple solution. He volunteered to be the guinea pig.    

I pulled Harry's engineers and techs into a side conference room and told them what frequencies and modulations I needed and how they had to mix them. They went back to the company's development lab in Sunnyvale to gather up equipment. When they returned, they converted the conference room into an ad hoc electronics lab. It took them all night, munching on the late night pizza delivery and Mountain Dew that I supplied, but by the next morning they'd rigged up a dozen signal generators that fed into a mixer that would let me generate the exact frequencies and modulations. What I didn’t realize was that one of the techs had hooked the composite output of the mixer into an amplified speaker system. 

Harry gathered the senior staff into the lab, an arrogant smirk on his face as he waited for me to fail. I gave him a wink as I pushed the button to activate the system. The signal was supposed to go to the headphones to Jeff, our guinea pig. To my surprise, the mind-scrambling sound blasted instead from the large speakers on either side of the room. Harry promptly collapsed to the floor along with the rest of the senior staff along with all the engineers and techs. They struggled for all they were worth to cling to a world that was now spinning violently around them, seemingly trying to spit them off. When they began barfing, I used the confusion to dash out the conference room door before any of them noticed that the Stunner had barely made me dizzy.  

An hour later, we gathered back together, the air still thick with the stench of vomit despite the best efforts of  Housekeeping. I now had everyone's undivided attention. Harry's engineers fired all kinds of questions my way, but I put on my best blonde act (and further verified Harry's opinion of me) by claiming that I didn't know any more than what I'd told them. When they pressed me how I knew the exact frequencies and modulation techniques, I made up this story about meeting this Russian guy in a bar in Berlin who claimed he had led a Soviet research program into alternative weapons. 

I made it up as I went, embellishing it with sexy innuendo as was my style. As I told it, the Russian seemed very nervous and was desperate to tell someone about his life’s work. He claimed nobody else knew about his research. He further claimed that all his notes had burned in a fire back at his old research facility. Even worse, he claimed that a group of ex-KGB agents who now worked for a Russian arms company were after him. He didn't want his life's work to fall into their hands. He wanted to turn it over to the Swiss Embassy in Bonn, but there was no way he could travel from Berlin without the KGB guys finding him. 

Harry gave me his usual contemptuous look as I spun my tale, which angered me enough that I embellished the story further, explaining how the scientist and I had hit it off so well that he decided I was the only one he'd trust with his secret design. In for a dime, in for a dollar I always say. 

Strangely, that made my story all the more believable to Harry. I told them when that when I awoke in the morning, there was a note on my pillow with the frequencies and modulation techniques. But when I headed down to the lobby to go to work, everyone was talking about "the Russian scientist who'd jumped out a window." I ended my tale by speculating that the ex-KGB types had caught up to him on his way back from my room, and when he'd refused cooperate they tossed him out a window of the high-rise hotel.

I could tell by the eyes that stared unblinking at me that Engineering bought into the story, hook, line and sinker, their imaginations running away with them, especially given I'd let a few of my pheromones fill the room. Jeff rolled his eyes at me, but the tale had enough sexy James Bondish vibe to it to resonate with guys who had been raised on video games, SciFi novels, comic books and spy movies. I couldn't possibly have invented such a thing, so my story had an essential truthiness about it. As they heard it, I'd seduced a Russian scientist into giving me his grand design. They figured that's how I got all my other intel and product ideas as well. 

They had no idea that the morality of my world didn't include sexual fidelity. That I was an invulnerable superwoman who'd been designed to be available to any and all men. A Procreator and Concubine. A woman who could fuck for weeks at a time with any number of men and never get tired or soar. They'd never believe that despite their view of me, I was incredibly constrained and proper here on Earth. So much so that it sometimes drove me crazy.

But it all worked for me. The fact that I'd been able to sell them on this completely fictitious story was pleasing to the Scribe in me. The “forthrightness no matter what” thing is wired pretty deeply into Velorian culture, but I was trained to follow different rules. I would use misinformation to confuse the Arions even as I wrote in-depth, factual reports for the Council. I could hardly tell Harry that the SonicStunner had been routinely used by the police on Perthy, one of the places where I'd lived before coming to the Bay area.  Not the Perth on my fake Australian resume. Perthy isn't on Earth. Its a city on a giant planet with high gravity that circles a huge blue-white star that’s on the opposite side of the galaxy from Earth. A planet I’d left by hitching a ride on a Scalantran starship before diving naked out the airlock just outside the Sol system to make my way to Earth under my own power. 

I obviously wasn’t going to explain any of that either, especially not the naked part. Harry's engineers were always undressing me with their eyes as it was. 

Our emergency meeting at the hotel ended with Engineering heading off to build prototypes of my new product (using tiny directional sonic lasers called Sasers). My part was done, at least for today, so I went back to my room to change into some beachwear. From there I headed down to relax at the beach bar. It had been a hell of a week and I needed a drink and I needed my girl. 

Unfortunately, our HR director, Dan Robinson, took that opportunity to make another serious pass at me. I don't know where men get this, but he figured he could reclaim me from the all-girls team and convert me into a woman who loved men, or something bizarre like that. He seemed to think that I just needed a good fucking to remind me how things were supposed to work. He had no idea how much of an asshole that made him. Or how ignorant and clueless he was about sexual preferences. Things any HR guy should have imprinted in his forehead. 

The reality was that I didn’t need saving from anyone except him. Fortunately, Deb arrived at the hotel bar to stop me from punching Dan into next week. She was dressed in an eclectic outfit that belonged backstage at a rock concert. Tight brown leather pants and a black t-shirt from some underground rock group. Her tattered, bleached and burned denim jacket and long hair, a mixture of blonde and black strands, gave her a punkish look. 

Deb's what is called a Gold Star girl in lesbian slang -- a girl who has never slept with a man, and never will. I swept her into my arms, giving her a long, passionate kiss that told Dan what he could do with his visions of becoming a Golden Penis. Deb's in her mid-twenties and is a professional dancer, so she's incredibly fit. She's more of a Chapstick than a lipstick lesbian like me, but when she dresses up, men fall all over themselves. But if any man is foolish enough to ignore the looks she gives them and hits on her anyway, they are immediately blasted by Deb's aggressive, ultra-confident lesbian vibe. I've heard her tell guys that her bright vision of utopia is a place where the only men are a handful of prime specimens who feed the sperm banks. The rest are only good for fertilizer.

OK… she's a little crazy. But I still love her. She's so fiercely loyal in keeping my secrets and helping me do my job as a Scribe, and in her eyes, I'm a goddess. She's completely, totally in love with me. Too much so. Once when this guy stuck a gun in my face in a dark parking lot, and while I was trying to find a nonlethal way to deal with him without giving myself away, she punched him so hard that he was dead before his remains left a red smear across the fourth story of a building -- a hundred yards away. As is the case with most women and a handful of men, my genetics rubs off on people I'm close to. Actually I infect them with a retrovirus that edits their DNA to make it a little bit like mine. In Deb's case, she didn't look much different than before, other than her black hair gradually turning blonde, that is, but now she could bench press five tons. For reps. 

She's a tigress when it comes to her friends and lovers. All trace of civility vanishes when they're threatened. When a friend of hers was raped by a man, she hunted the perpetrator down and traumatically castrated him with her bare hands and fingernails before feeding his balls to him. If not for her 911 call when she was done with him, he would have bled to death. She wanted him to live so he could suffer the rest of his life. 

Humans and Arions are too much alike in this way. Both are far too willing to kill when threatened. The long history of war on Earth is profoundly disturbing -- I can barely stand to read about it in the history books -- but the Arions seem determined to surpass even those limits of human depravity. They feel its their mission to bind the human-populated worlds into the darkness of their Empire. Forever. If not for the Galen's prohibition regarding open actions on Earth, Earth would already be another smoking battlefield. 

Of course, talking about prohibition, Kara has broken all kinds of rules by making herself visible as SuperFemme, but she decided a few years ago that Earth needed a wake-up call. The Arions have been way too successful in getting humans to destroy themselves by agitating behind the scenes, working to foster revolution and war and global warming and terrorism and all kinds of other nasty things. Few people realize that all the wars since the 1870's have been the result of Arion manipulation. Their agents are deeply embedded, powerfully connected and wealthy beyond measure. They call themselves the Illuminati and many of them sit at the pinnacle of Earthly power. If not for Kara's continued hunt for them, and her killing them whenever she finds them, Earth would already be a member of their evil Empire. 

Instead, we suffer wars and economic collapses as the Arion agents try to soften us up for voluntary membership -- something that doesn't violate the Prime Directive. The Illuminati have been driven underground by SuperFemme and her predecessors, and they now act through their unwitting human agents, which include many captains of industry and politicians. Most of the world's media is also under their control.

In contrast to all this, I grew up in a culture that despised killing of any kind, including animals. We were all vegetarians. To my knowledge, no Velorian has ever killed another Velorian. That doesn't make us non-violent, however. We're at war with Aria, and we have our highly-trained and immensely powerful Protectors, all of them female. They alone are authorized to use lethal force against outsiders and aliens, but they are not allowed to return to Velor after receiving their extensive training in the various ways to kill. Despite the fact that they fight everyday to maintain the safety of the Velorian Enlightenment, made up as it is of hundreds of human worlds, they are considered too violent to live among ordinary Velorians.

Back when I was a girl, I wanted more than anything to become a Protector. It was the only thing I wanted to be. I was tested and my genetics were deemed perfect for the job. Even among my fellow Primas, the highest genetic caste on Velor, I was considered exceptional. I was destined to become a Virago, the strongest of the Protectors. Yet even as I trained for my future role as a warrior, my father kept reminded me that we are the Planet of Peace. A peace that would evaporate overnight without the mighty Protectors. I was so proud that I was destined to become one of them. 

And then disaster. I had an affair with a female teacher just before my official Coming of Age -- the day our lifelong occupation is determined. Such affairs are not illicit or illegal on Velor, rather it was what I said to my teacher that damned me forever. I'd had some bad experiences with guys, including one who was way too old for me, and I told my teacher that I hated them all men and that I wanted only to be with women. That concerned her enough that she wrote a letter to the Council to say I wasn't qualified to be a Protector. 

I wasn't yet sixteen years old at the time. I had no idea what I wanted, other than to become a Protector. And she took that from me.

One of the hold-overs from our initial roles as Procreators and later Companions is that Protectors must be sexually uncompromised. Given that men continue to dominate the positions of leadership on every human world (although that is noticeably changing in Earth), Protectors must use more than their muscles. When faced with an inhumanly beautiful and sexually available woman, men have always proven to be infinitely corruptible. So it is written that every Protector must be heterosexual. 

(Which of course they aren't, as Jaime taught me.)  

My father was devastated when my application to the Hall of Protectors was denied. Like most Velorian men, he only knew what he could see on the ground on Velor. He had no idea that once we are off-planet, its impossible to hold to all of one's ideals. That the universe is an ugly, violent place, thanks to the Arion Empire. Humans can't escape their origin as great apes -- they love war too much -- and we Supremis are descended from humans and we still think like humans and experience the same emotions. Its hard work for our Protectors to stand above all that; to perpetuate the myth that Velorians are angels, that our Enlightenment shines brightly in the middle of a violent universe. 

Back in the earliest days of the Hall of Protectors, many Protectors set themselves up as a goddess and ruled entire planets by decree. They traded on the desire in all men's hearts to worship a superhuman being. They would bestow their divine graces on men who helped keep their planet free of the Arions. 

Invariably, those efforts failed miserably. Humans who put their trust in gods and goddess do little to help themselves. They allow their gods to solve all their problems. 

So it was decided after those early disastrous attempts at planetary protection to create a Prime Directive. Now Protectors are supposed to operate undercover without unduly influencing a planet's social and culture development. To not interfere in its local wars or fight crime or anything else that didn't involve the Arions, but to kill Arions and their human agents wherever she found them.   

Which is where we Scribes come in. We're the gentler and wiser side of the equation. We watch over the Protectors, ensuring they remain true to the Prime Directive, as well as keep Velor informed about the progress on each world. We actively involve ourselves in human politics and endeavors as we try to counter the Arions on a non-violent level. 

But even that's not the full story. We Velorians were originally genetically-engineered from humans for the sole purpose of creating divine life for the Galen, which explains our hyper-sexual natures. At our core, we are all Procreators for the gods. If we meet a Galen man, we have but one thought and one role. One that we will fulfill to the end of our days, forsaking all others. Fortunately, I've never met a Galen and hope I never do. I like having free will, and I like being more than some mindless harlot to the gods, created merely for their pleasure and for the bearing of their children. 

When Deb and I first met, I had no intention of telling her any of this. But the events on our first date quickly ended those plans. 

Of course, she claims she knew I was some kind of goddess right from the start. That no one born merely human could be as beautiful and fit and flawless as me. But she was thinking more of an Earth goddess, some New Age wet dream, not some alien from a distant star. She was even more amazed when I revealed that my actual birthday was during the period of time when Abraham Lincoln was still the American president. But since my birthplace was thousands of light years from Earth, and we Velorians are essentially immortal, time doesn't really mean the same thing to us. 

 

Chapter Two 

"Light my Fire"

It was a warm and pleasant Sunday in May when Deb and I met the first time. I'd been wandering through the Brightwell Museum, lost and confused as I tried to understand the strange collections, when Deb came up and offered to show me around. I'd never really understood impressionist art, but I was soon laughing at Deb's irreverent approach to appreciating art. She was very knowledgable, and she knew the secret stories behind most of the artists, most of whom were very odd people. She correctly deduced my sexual nature from the start, and was soon explaining why most of the artists of this exhibit had been gay. Or queer as she liked to call them. She was trying to rehabilitate that former slur into a proud label for LBGT self-identity. 

Deb and I really hit it off, despite looking so different, not to mention our incomprehensible age difference. I was wearing a blue Givenchy outfit that was insanely expensive and completely exclusive. I'd always thrilled to the luxurious feel of the ultra soft fabric against my skin, and I'd found that many of the most expensive fashions were cut exotically enough to appeal to my Velorian sensibilities, especially the short hemline, bare shoulders and the deeply cut front of my gown. Less is more is what Velorian fashion is all about. Given our perfect bodies, we don't wear clothing to hide anything, but rather to emphasize what we have. Which is a lot.

 

In contrast, Deb wore what appeared to be bits and pieces of things she'd picked up at Goodwill. From the Free bin at that. Yet strangely, her eclectic style of dress was far more creative than mine. We couldn't have looked any more different. I stood well over six feet tall in my heels while Deb stood barely 5'5" in her worn-out sneakers. I looked sophisticated and chic and expensive and over-the-top sexy while Deb radiated this dark, brooding punk rocker anarchist vibe. What is it about bad girls that turns me on?   

Yet despite our differences, we found we both greatly enjoyed museums and galleries as well as having similar musical tastes. Deb was smart and incredibly well-educated in the nuances of fine art. Unlike my superficial knowledge of Earth art, most of which comes courtesy of Google. But I know what I like and she mostly liked the same things, which pleased us both. I laughed at her wild stories of artistic excess while we found every excuse to touch each other as we toured the galleries. 

We would up kissing for the first time in a fairly out-of-the-way corner. My pheromones don't work on women, but Deb was so bold that I swore they were affecting her. She slipped her warm hand though the deeply-cut front of my dress to hold me, thrilling to the fact that I was too firm to need a bra. She thought I'd had some kind of plastic surgery that used ultra-firm silicone. She disapproved, at least until she discovered that I don't wear panties any more than I do bras. She couldn't take her hands off me as we headed toward a bar where she planned to introduce me to some of her friends. 

I used to being shown off. Its a human thing. And, hell, I'm not beyond feeling proud of how I look. But its usually men who react this way to me.

I stopped on the way to the bar to deposit this week's pay check. Our payroll system had just changed at work and we were all on paper checks for a few weeks while they got the bugs sorted out. Deb waited across the bank lobby where I heard her telling a very perplexed bank manager that the entire capitalist system was corrupt and had to be overthrown -- starting with the banks. He was not amused, and was leading her firmly toward the front door when four gunmen burst through it, waving shotguns. One of them jammed the barrel of his 12 gauge against the manager's head. Two others disarmed the guards and the fourth man waved his Mossberg over the rest of our heads. 

If I hadn't been wearing gold, I could have killed all four of them before they could draw another breath. Something I very much wanted to do after one of them pointed his shotgun at Deb. But as a Scribe, I'm forbidden to reveal my true identity when on Earth.  So I had to just stand there and pretend to look scared like the rest of the customers. 

I worried most for Deb given she was trying to bond with the bad guys, telling them that ripping off the man was the way to go. She was being gutsy in all the wrong ways. Fortunately for her, the crooks were too busy convincing the manager to open the vault to deal with her, and once he did, they quickly cleaned it out before marching us all into it.  

I felt a sense of relief as the plug-like door swung closed. Deb would be safe for a while in the vault. Vaults are designed to have proper air vents and so forth.  Even if not, I could get us out if I had to.                                                                          

The massive door was almost closed when I heard the distinctive, high-pitched "TING" of Vendorian steel a something bounced through the gap in the doorway. That alien super-steel is a hundred times stronger than anything made on Earth, which meant that whatever they'd tossed through the door had to be of Arion manufacture. And most everything the Arions made was some kind of weapon.

The door clanged shut and the locking dogs spun as I went into overdrive, looking for whatever they'd tossed in here, my thoughts and reflexes speeding up so much that everyone seemed to be moving in slow motion. Horrified, I saw an Arion Mk74 AMAT resting in one corner of the vault, the tiny ultraviolet laser on the end of it blinking the way they do about ten seconds before detonation.  Now that they'd robbed the vault, they were going to destroy it along with all the witnesses. More than that, they were going to bring down the building.

This was no ordinary explosive. AMATs fire a tiny pellet of ordinary lead into a tiny chunk of magnetically-shielded anti-matter the size of the period at the end of this sentence, resulting in the total annihilation of both forms of matter. They produce a low-grade blast but with absolutely zero radiation, contamination or residue. 

Low-grade, that is, if you're used to working on the nuclear scale. A Mark74 is powerful enough to turn this twenty-story bank building into a crater and level everything for several blocks in every direction. Its explosive power is roughly equivalent to ten tons of high explosive.

The Prime Directive that I'm responsible to enforce on Earth is very clear in such situations. As long as I was expected to survive (which I obviously was), then I was to do exactly nothing. Intervention wasn't an option for a Scribe. 

Looking around the bank vault at the people who were about to be blasted to atoms and then buried under a collapsing building, I found scant comfort in the knowledge that they would not know fear or pain. It would be a good death. Then my eyes returned to Deb's. She was staring back at me, a look of horror on her face. Somehow, she knew, probably from reading my expression. She would suffer, if only during the few seconds until the blast.

I'd been in this kind of situation before, and I'd done nothing. I'd endured the fire and blast of a nuclear weapon while everyone else within half a mile of me died. I'd rationalized their deaths as the cost of war on that planet, given that the war was being fought human to human. No Arions were involved, so I'd done my duty to remain invisible.

But not this time. I wasn't doing this to Deb. Besides, the weapon was Arion in manufacture even if it was being wielded by humans. I grasped at that straw, using that as my excuse, and before my rational self could talk me out of my emotional decision, I ripped off my gold choker. Wild energies coursed through me as my eyes immediately blazed with an unholy blue light as a surge of Earth-shaking power exploded inside me, rushing like a wave of pure fire from my center and out to my fingertips and toes, even to every strand of hair on my head. I didn't care that I was betraying everything I'd been trained to do. None of that mattered. I simply wasn't going to let them die. Not when I had the power to prevent it.

Moving as fast as thought, I dove across the room to scoop the Arion grenade up in my hands, and then ran through the open doorway of an armored room within the vault -- the safe deposit room. Deb saw me go and dashed after me, moving with all the grace and speed of a professional dancer. She arrived just in time to see the over surge of Orgone that always follows gold removal. I cried out in painful ecstasy as the orgasmic pleasure of immeasurable strength filled me. My muscles began to shake wildly as my hair stood on end, and two thin red beams blasted from my eyes to ignite the paint on the wall. My body, which had already been on the far edge of human in terms of muscle tone, turned into living steel. 

As always happens at this point, a powerful orgasm tried to take me to heaven, but I managed to barely hold it off with clenched teeth as I gripped the Arion grenade in my shaking hands.  I didn't have time for that indulgence. My confidence and determination continued to grow as my body switched fully from glucose metabolism to Orgone metabolism, and my thoughts accelerated until time seemed to stand still.  I scanned through the walls of the vault, dissecting the structure of the building, only to find that the vault was enormously strong. I would easily take me thirty seconds to rip my way out of here.  Yet the flashing laser light on the Mk74 in my hand said I had less than five.

There was only one way to protect them. I had to smother the grenade, something no ordinary Velorian was trained to do. But I wasn't ordinary. I'd been born to the same genetic class as a Protector, even though I'd never been enhanced by Aphrodite like those warriors. While Aphrodite gave my former classmates their immense strength, I was sent off to Daxxam to study languages and to learn about the cultures of a hundred alien worlds. But I remembered one thing from my upbringing, and that was that a Velorian's ultimate invulnerability is in her birth genes.  I might not have a Protector's strength, but I had all of their toughness. Turning my back to Deb, I concentrated on relaxing myself,  which is far from easy when you are holding a ticking mini-nuke in your hand. I felt Deb's eyes on my back as I tried to ease the cold steel cylinder inside myself.  A cold shiver ran down my back as I tried to imagine this nuclear-grade abomination blowing me to smithereens. 

Thanks to my highly sexualized Velorian genetics I'm  always a little wet, but the problem now was that I'm incredibly tight when I'm burning Orgone. Closing my eyes, I concentrated on pushing it past the muscular guardian of my virtue to bury it as deeply as my long fingers could reach. Turning around to look at Deb, I found her staring at me, eyes wide. She'd seen what I'd just done, and was horrified, but I didn't have time to explain. I just grabbed an arm and a leg and skidded her through the open doorway. She crashed into a cabinet outside the safe deposit room, her eyes filled with hurt and questioning as I clanged the door closed behind her and engaged the locking dogs. 

That door was made of two-inch thick steel, but it could hardly withstand the heat and overpressure of an AMAT. But if I could channel the blast, to direct it like a shaped explosive, then it might be strong enough to protect the others.  Gritting my teeth, I clamped down on the offending weapon with my inner muscles as I struggled with all my might to crush the damn thing before it went off. That would have perhaps been possible with ordinary steel -- every muscle in my body is a thousand times stronger than humanly possible -- but Vendorian super-steel is made from xitinic ore. While my body is normally shaped by smooth, tight curves that make me look like a very fit swimsuit model, I can also look ridiculously cut when I'm using my full strength. My muscles expand more than a human's when I flex, and they turn far harder than steel. Yet that wasn't nearly enough. The power of any explosive is a function of its containment and the internal pressure from an AMAT detonation would spike to near infinity if it was contained. I had to direct the blast through the floor, using my body to shape the explosion.

Standing with my legs slightly open as I pressed myself into the far corner of the room, still gripping the AMAT with my inner strength, I lowered my arms to my side and turned my wrists outward to dig my fingers in to their roots in the steel wall, then crunching them even further into the super-hard concrete that backed both walls.  

When they say one's life flashes before one's eyes at the moment of death, they weren't thinking of trying to buzz through 250 years of living in a few seconds. My speeded-up thoughts moved a hundred times faster than normal. Strangely, after racing around in wild circles, my thoughts settled on my fading memories of Jamie, my first femme lover, the first true love of my life. She was a newly graduated Protector when I met her and I was so envious of her power. When I found her glowing one day, literally glowing from the inside out, she described the test she'd just endured with a similar type of AMAT. I found her intimate power to be ridiculously sexy at the time, but I had no idea I'd someday try the same thing.

My thoughts were flipping between erotic memories of that night with Jaime and hopes for my new and growing feelings for Deb when a sharp pain and horrible heat lanced through my body from my very center, my body expanding slightly despite my steeled muscles. I can't describe the feeling other than to say that my entire body seemed to ring as if the loudest church bell ever made had just clanged inside me. My legs were blown apart as the shockwave raced to my extremities, my hair sticking out from my scalp like stiff wire as the air around me filled with blue confetti (my Givenchy outfit!). The shock wave flattened hundreds of safe deposit boxes against the walls of the vault. Wills and marriage certificates and uncounted contracts and bits of gold and jewelry exploded as sun-core temperatures blasted between my legs to blast a hole through the marble floor and into the concrete beneath. My fingers were torn from the concrete and steel as I was blasted upward into the ceiling with such force that my head and part of one shoulders were buried into the concrete. 

After a moment of shock, I wrenched myself free of the vault ceiling and looked down, the glare between my legs blinding. Squinting through the brightness, I saw the steel tables and chairs melting like ice cream under a blow torch. The blood began boiling in my veins to send my heart into palpitations as it tried to pump red steam, and suddenly a wave of awful blackness fell over me like a curtain from heaven above.

I awoke seconds later to find myself lying in a shallow, melted depression in the marble floor as a layer of liquid steel from the lock boxes flowed down the walls. I realized I had passed out when the steam in my arteries stopped carrying Orgone through my body. A white-hot glow reflected from walls that looked as if they were made of mercury -- the glow coming from my inner thighs. At the far end of the room, the two-inch thick door was bulged outward, but amazingly, it had held. Most of the heat and blast had gone straight into the floor as I'd hope. I exhaled a blast of pure plasma from my lungs, only to thrill as the tingling inside me grew into a tsunami of immeasurable power and vitality. My boobs began to swell as they always do when I'm absorbing large amounts of Orgone.

I was alive! My center had held. I'd something only a Protector should have been able to do! 

Amazed and proud of myself, I rose to shake at hypersonic speed, sending all traces of molten steel flying from my skin. Cupping my aching, overfilled boobs, I found that my nipples were burning in a delightfully  agonizing way. I felt incredibly turned on, and began to fear I was falling into Ples'tathy, that state of uncontrolled and insatiable arousal that we Supremis feel when we are near a Galen man. Absorbing massive amounts of energy can cause the same. If I let unleashed my desire, my pheromones would fill the air around me, irresistibly drawing every man to me. But if they tried to please me, as they would be compelled to do, I'd blow their eardrums out with my cries of pleasure from the continuous orgasm, and then crush their pelvis between my legs as I clawed the flesh from their shoulder blades.  There is nothing gentle about the fever of Ples'tathy. 

I scanned the ceiling and walls again, confirming that the ten feet thick nuclear-facility-grade ferroconcrete was largely intact. I could throw myself at it hard enough to shatter it and eventually tear my way out of here with my hands, but that would generate shockwaves and overpressure that would further endanger Deb and the others, not to mention shaking the entire building. No, the backdoor wasn't going to work. I was going to have to go out the front -- the main vault door. 

I tried to walk toward the bulged-out door of the safe deposit room, only to discover that my legs were too numb to stand, my toes pointing inward as I instinctively tried to contain my inner heat. I rose to fly awkwardly over to grab the door, only to find that I used far too much strength. The steel yielded like wet clay beneath my strong fingers, tearing and twisting. I concentrated on slowing bending and folding the door like an accordion, and I thrilled to the way it yielded so easily in my grip. I was clearly as strong as a Protector now. 

But only until the heat of the AMAT faded. I was overcharged with Orgone. 

With the door crumpled to the side, I walked out to find Deb lying on the floor, unconscious. She was breathing, and a quick scan showed no broken bones or fluid build-up on the brain. Likely she'd wake up soon, as would the others. I had to be gone by then. 

Turning, I scanned the massive vault door. It was made of solid steel and was easily a meter thick. Fifty locking rods were located around its periphery, each of them buried six inches deep into the type of super-strength concrete that had been invented to protect launch silos and underground bunkers from nuclear detonations. Those rods were in turn secured by a massive locking system on the inside of the door. It would take me time to tear all that complicated linkage apart and release and withdraw the rods one at a time. Too long. Scanning through the thick door, I realized the bad guys had done me a huge favor -- they'd shot out all the surveillance cameras on their way in. Even better, the bank lobby was still empty -- the crooks were long gone and they'd jammed everyone else in here.

I had a very brief window of opportunity to get out away without exposing myself. The cops and fire department and God knows who else would already be on their way here, which didn't leave me time to finesse the door. Seconds only. I clenched my fists, the hard cut muscles of my forearms reshaping my body as I threw myself at the edge of the plug-type door. I scrabbled with my harder-than-steel fingernails to get a grip on the polished stainless, pushing myself against it with all my flight power as I forced my fingers in to their roots in the armor-grade steel. I then put one foot in the middle of the door and gripped the steel with both hands as I put my back into it. 

The door gave off a horrible, tortured scream like a thing alive as the steel was stressed beyond its limits. Bits of shattered concrete exploded from the edges of the frame as I slowly pulled one side of the door away from the the frame, my fingers digging long grooves in the steel. I dug my fingers in again and pulled a second time. This time larger bits of concrete began ripping loose as all of the locking dogs along one side suddenly exploded from the concrete frame as that side of the door bent inward. Tearing my fingers from the steel, I quickly jammed my back against the outer rim of the concrete frame as I wedged one bare foot against the inwardly-bent edge of the meter-thick door. I pushed hard, putting my quads to work to straighten my leg, trying to fold the door up further. The steel gave off an even louder and more horrible groaning scream as it yielded easily to my strong leg. I truly felt like a Protector.

I didn't have time to indulge myself in that fantasy as I squirmed deeper into the growing crack around the door. This time I was able to wedge both feet against the door, my back molded against the concrete frame. I pushed for all I was worth now, and the meter-thick steel screamed and vibrated as I bent it inward far enough to be able to squeeze all the way through into the lobby. My oversized chest got stuck when I was halfway through, but I forced myself forward anyway, my nipples leaving two shallow grooves in the steel. 

Once outside, I spun around and threw myself back at the door, jamming my shoulder into the gap as I thrust upward and inward to wrench the mighty door completely out of its frame, the locking dogs pinging as they shattered, concrete bits and pieces flying. This type of tapered plug door could only open inward, but I pulled hard enough on the deformed door to her it through the smaller part of the opening, the edges of the door exploding in sparks as steel scraped along steel with incredible force. I twisted it to rip it free of its hinges and then tossed the ten ton door across the lobby floor. It landed with a horrific ground-shaking clang to take out the front wall of the bank. 

With any luck, it would look as if Superfemme had burst in here and rescued everyone by tearing the door open from the outside. 

Dashing back inside the now wide-open vault door, I found people moaning as they blinked their eyes and tried to see. I kneeled down to scoop Deb into my arms and then spun around to fly back through the vault doorway just as the first police car screeched to a stop in front of the building.  Instead of going out the front as I'd planned, I wrapped myself tightly around Deb to protect her and launched myself upward, crashing through the marble ceiling of the lobby. Then through the floors and ceilings of a half dozen stories until I finally exploded through the roof, carrying a gale of sparks and torn concrete rebar swirling in my wake.  I held Deb by one hand, letting her trail behind me to protect her from my body heat as I climbing straight upward, trying to get away before anyone could snap a picture. Those damned cellphone cameras were everywhere.

I came back to Earth along the old waterfront, landing on the rooftop of a long-deserted warehouse. Deb was still out of it, so I gently propped her against an air handler.

My immediate problem was to burn my newly acquired Orgone off before my growing Ples'tathy overwhelmed me. Turning, I looked out toward an empty spot of San Francisco Bay, and opened my eyes wide to release the full force of my heat vision. The two miles of empty air between my rooftop and the water sizzled with lightning-bolt brightness, and seconds later a gigantic cloud of steam began to rise from the surface of the water. I'd never before used my heat vision for more than a few seconds at a time, and never with this much power, but I kept blasting the water for several minutes. Soon a hundred meter wide circle of water was boiling vigorously, the tunnel of superheated water extending all the way down to the sea bed. 

I was trading off a lot of dead fish to save some human lives, but tradeoffs are what Protector's deal with every day. Take a life and save thousands, or save a life and inspire thousands more. I cupped my aching breasts as I felt them shrinking as my heat vision drained the Orgone from me. Once my boobs felt normal sized again, I blinked my eyes back to normal. My eye sockets were glowing red hot and my vision was watery from the heat, but the worst was over.  

I knew I should just leave now. No complications that way. No awkward questions. Deb would assume the explosion had caused some amnesia, although that wouldn't explain why she was on this rooftop. If I could get SuperFemme to play ball, she'd take responsibility. In the end, Deb would chalk any memories of our bizarre date up to post-traumatic stress. 

As for myself, I would have to take on a new identity in another country. Wear a wig and contacts or whatever. Deb would forget all about me and...

NO! 

Damn it, no. I was tired of playing this ghost who fades away whenever people start seeing the real me. I love my job and the life I've made for myself here. I began to rationalize. The bank obviously had us on surveillance cams going in the front door, but the robbers had destroyed them all soon after. If Kara took credit for the save, she could always claim she'd carried Deb away. I'd have to invent a reason for that, I'd have to explain how I got out before the police and fire department came, but that was all doable. We'd have our story ready by then. I could make this work. The only complication was Deb. I would have to tell her everything. 

I made my decision. Like a Prima, I pushed my doubts away and acted. To hell with the protocol. I just stood there, listening to the sirens converging in the far distance, waiting for Deb to awake. 

A long half hour passed before I heard Deb gasp from behind me. I turned to see her eyes staring back at me, wide open and shocked as I stood there in the nude, the inside of my thighs still glowing. My feet were floating inches off the tarry roof.  

 

"Who…what are you… are you like her?" Deb gasped. 

"Like who?" I asked, trying to act normal.

"SuperFemme!" Deb fairly shouted. 

I started to nod and then shook my head. "Kind of, but not exactly. I'm a Velorian like her, yes." I wasn't sure how much information she could handle right now. "But not a Protector."

"What's a Protector?"

I didn't feel like trying to explain, so I just shrugged and said: "A bit like the comic-book Supergirl except she was sent here to protect all humanity." 

She froze, and then slowly smiled, her eyes sparkling.  Then laughed. "You are shitting me? A queer Supergirl?"

"No, no," I laughed as I let the tension drain from my body. "Not Kara. Supergirl maybe, but she's not queer." I tried to say something light and witty, but what came out was just stupid. "As for me, you wouldn't believe how blonde I can be sometimes."

Deb rose on unsteady feet to walk toward me, stopping at arms length when the heat from my lower body became too much. She reached out to poke at my shoulder. People always poke at me when I'm super, given that while my skin is baby soft, everything beneath the skin was rock hard.

She gripped my shoulder as tightly as she could. "Its like you're carved out of warm steel," she marveled. Before I could stop her, she cupped both my aching boobs, ignoring my hot   skin as she squeezed me as hard as she could. They're firm but not hard and she found plenty of give there. I stiffened as she ran her fingers over my nipples, which quickly turned into warm steel as her touch sent a pleasant thrill racing through me. "OK, not all of you is hard, but you've got Supergirl nipples. You weren't anything like this earlier."

"I was wearing gold then. Different metabolic process."

"Whatever that means." She ran her fingers through my long, blonde hair. "Your hair is still softer than any human's. And so amazingly fragrant. I've never smelled a shampoo or perfume so wonderful."

I wasn't ready to explain that my scalp gives of pheromones which my hair transfers to the air around me.  

Looking down the glow from my pelvis, her eyes suddenly opened even wider. "But that grenade thingy… did you really… you know, smother it down there?"

I nodded. "It was the only way I could think of to keep you alive. That AMAT was as powerful as a very small nuke."

Her jaw dropped for a moment, and then she smiled. "Not even the comic-book Supergirl could do that! Trust me, I've read all her comics. I grew up a fan of hers. The ultimate girl." 

I knew very little about comic book characters, but I'd studied up on Supergirl, mostly because Kara often dressed like her. She claimed it was a way to create cognitive dissonance in the eyes of the public while presenting a familiar, non-threatening face. "We were designed to be strong and beautiful. All Velorians are," I shrugged. "For reasons that you will not like at all."

"Oh… now you've got to tell me everything!"

I did. Starting with my ancestor's abduction from the land that would someday become Sweden, then the way the Galen had re-engineered us for a single purpose, to bear and raise their young, then the abandonment by the Galen and finally the whole Protector thing. I skipped the Companion phase of our development. Humans don't handle that well. It sounds way worse than it really was. 

For I'd known from the moment I met Deb that she was going to become my friend. My lover too, but lovers are so easy for me to find. I was looking for a true friend, someone I had no secrets from, someone who cares for me. Deb has proven to be all those things.

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