Dark Supergirl Part 05
Written by shadar :: [Monday, 28 January 2013 12:50] Last updated by :: [Monday, 28 January 2013 16:26]
A Dark SuperGirl Arises - Part Five
By Shadar and Tex Beethoven
(Originally drafted in 1995 for the Aurora Universe. Updated in 2012.)
The coastline of central California…
Mandi flew down the coastline at what had already become a leisurely pace for her -- Mach 2 -- heading for Vandenburg AFB. She'd been to the campground near there at Point Conception several times, albeit without her current physical talents, and it had always been her favorite place to beach camp. Located on a lonely cape that jutted out into the Pacific, it was a place of wild winds and huge waves. A refuge for migratory birds and mating seals. A place too wild for any but the hardiest of surfers and campers. It was a place that had allowed her to momentarily forget that she was alien to this wild and beautiful planet.
Soaring now above the wind-whipped waves at Mach 2, she put all that behind her. She thrilled to the crash of the waves as she surfed through them, amused by the wild, tingling sensations of supersonic compression waves as they angled off the curves of her body. Her violent shock waves kicked up a rooster tail that rose a hundred yards into the air, her deafening sonic boom startling beach-goers up and down the coastline.
The huge Pacific waves were only a few feet below her as she pushed herself to the edge of Mach 3. Her violent slipstream was now angled away from her by the cone of shockwaves that streamed back from her outstretched arms. Closing her eyes as she enjoyed the pleasure of the moment, she savored the way the shock waves shifted up and down her body, tickling her from head to toe as she sped up or slowed down.
She opened her eyes as she crashed through the wild spray, the waves dragging against her until she slammed into the tops of the largest waves, still moving supersonically, each impact between her invulnerable flesh and the angry water sending a shower of droplets and steam a thousand feet into the air.
She was bursting through her hundredth wave when she saw a dark shape on the distant horizon. Adjusting her course to move further offshore, she headed toward what turned out to be a huge container ship that was slowly working its way up the coast. Wondering what the people on the ship's Bridge must think of the weird trail of spray that was now heading toward them at supersonic speed, she held her arms tightly against her sides to fly face first with her eyes wide open, her head bent backwards as she stare ahead of her. Smiling with anticipation, she watched the ship grow from a tiny dot to a huge wall of steel in mere seconds.
Old reflexes forced her to close her eyes a millisecond before she collided face-first against the thick hull, her impact point directly beneath the bridge and right at the waterline. Accelerating as hard as she could to maintain her momentum, she blasted through a dozen compartments of the ship, each steel bulkhead and hundreds of shipping containers smashing against her face and chest for a millisecond before her kinetic energy and invulnerable body turned them into a cloud of molten steel.
She emerged milliseconds later from the other side of the ship, a shower of glowing, molten steel and bits and pieces of shattered cargo following her for a half mile. Looking back over her shoulder, she could momentarily see daylight all the way through the ship as water began rushing in. Smiling, she could already imagine the insurance claim at Lloyds of London.
"Catastrophic hull damage caused by an Unidentified Flying Object, not of Earthly origin. However, section 17.3.1 explicitly denies payment for losses caused by hostile alien interference and/or nuclear war."
Other than holing the ship and creating several man-years of legal work for the shipping company, Mandi's impact had done one more thing. It had slowed her to subsonic speed. She stayed low and slow while curving inward toward Cape Conception. Relaxing her body further, she allowed herself to come nearly to a stop just above the waves.
She paused there, luxuriating in the feel of the swirling winds and the primitive wildness of this lonely and familiar cape, the cold salty spray blowing through her hair as it had on her previous visits. She joined a group of wet-suited surfers as she body surfed down the face of the huge waves, finding her own perfect wave that carried her close to shore. As it finally crested and collapsed, she accelerated from the spray like flying mermaid to soar over the beach.
The astounded eyes of a dozen beach goers followed her passage as she flew low enough to make them dive for the sand. Approaching the high bluffs that backed the narrow beach, she tensed her backside and calves and made a hard pull-up, a turn that was five times sharper than anything a military jet fighter could perform. She soared straight up and then over the rocky point. From there she spread her arms and gently floating downward behind the bluffs and into the lee of the cape where Vandenburg AFB was located.
There was her rocket, sitting on its pad waiting for liftoff. It was a first-generation Space Shuttle, but its massive chemical engines were still useful for lifting loads that were heavier than the newer anti-grav launch units could get into orbit. Or in this case, payloads that were too sensitive for the commercial launch ports to handle.
Hovering in mid-air just beyond the fence line of the military base, she watched the clouds of vapor rising from the Shuttle's wrinkled sides, its tanks full of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. These were nasty liquids whose temperature was only a few degrees above absolute zero. In fact, LOX and LOH, when properly mixed, formed the most powerful chemical explosive on Earth.
The old habits of a more ordinary woman returned as she stared at the massive rocket ship, and took a deep shuddering breath when she thought of what she was going to do. Having grown up as a Betan, her strength and resistance to injury had only been a few times greater than a Terran's until these last few days. Even then, she;d never been particularly physical, at least compared to her fellow Arions. It was her mental powers that had been her touchstone since she came of age.
Hovering in mid-air now while staring at that monster of a rocket, she felt a sense of physical fear and dread. The towering rocket looked so powerful and so dangerous. She quickly pushed away that instinctive feeling as she focused on her new abilities. Her body began to tingle pleasantly as she made a fist and felt the amazing muscles that formed across her upper arm. She was now nearly as strong as the Primes who had assaulted and intimidated her all those years. Even better, she could fly like a Velorian.
Looking down at the mound of Velorian perfection rising so impossibly large from her arm, that super-defined ball of steel stretching her soft skin impossibly thin, she found that she couldn't get her fingers all the way way around her biceps. The woman she had drawn these powers from had been created to be a goddess, yet she was instead more interested in telling the story of her people than in using her own powers. Sharon's muscles of invulnerable steel contained powers which awed and amazed her, filling Mandi with an omnipotent surge of confidence. The Velorian's borrowed power filled her chest as well to dispel the last vestige of her self-doubt. She was now a goddess of power. No Terran machine could resist her, no matter how big or noisy or heavy it might be.
Confident and assured now, she flew toward the launch pad, skimming only inches from the ground. She threaded her way through a maze of cables and support beams and gantries to land barefoot on the massive concrete pad directly beneath the three liquid-fueled engines of the Shuttle. Engines that were already emitting small white plumes of mist. The subzero hydrogen and oxygen vapor flooded over her body, turning the moisture of her skin to ice.
The numbing blast of a siren suddenly echoed through the launch pad, the noise so loud that Mandi fell to her knees to cover her sensitive ears. That siren was followed by a loud metallic CLANK and BANG, the noise coming from halfway up the rocket. The Shuttle's umbilical arms had separated from the ship. That was followed by a shower of sparks that sprayed upward and into the three cones of the main rocket engines. Amused that her timing had been so precise, she tensed her body as she rose to stand in the middle of the shower of sparks, the huge cone of one of the rocket engines directly over her.
Turbines began to whine as they spun up, the sounds coming from the massive fuel pumps that fed high pressure fuel and oxidizer to the engines. Their piercing whine became supersonic just as a loud BANG came from inside the Orbiter. She was suddenly deluged in a shower of liquid oxygen and hydrogen. The absolute zero cold made her shiver, only to be replaced by the unimaginable heat of an igniting hydrogen-oxygen engine. The violent shock diamonds of the exhaust flame formed around her, encasing her body in temperatures that would have vaporized a human or even a Betan like she had once been.
She opened her eyes wide and stared up into the heart of the rocket exhaust, luxuriating as the very fires of hell washed across her, reveling in her new and mighty powers. She was lost in the unimaginable roar of the engine when the massive solid fuel boosters fired, and millions of pounds of rocket began to rise upward. The solid rocket exhaust slammed into her from both sides like freight trains, sweeping her from her feet. She tumbled wildly across the launch pad to smack hard up against a concrete wall where the exhaust pressure flattened her against the wall with tons of force. Grinning fiercely, she slow rose to push herself back into that blazing hell, leaning forward like someone walking into the teeth of a hurricane.
Then, with a bend of her legs she leaped upward to fly between the three roaring Lox-Hydrogen engines, scrabbling with her fingers to get a purchase on the titanium frame that the engines were attached to. She sank her slender fingers into that hard metal near the center backbone of the Shuttle, and then bent her legs upward to place her feet beside her hands as she began to fly downward with all her power, struggling to hold the massive Shuttle on the pad.
The gorgeous legs that Mark had thought would set the modeling world on its rear were now put to a very different purpose -- pouring power into her Volatai until her flight power matched the power of the massive solid fuel rocket boosters that roared on either side of her. The huge Shuttle rose less than a hundred meters into the air before it came to a shuddering stop, the engines roaring loud enough to be heard for fifty miles.
Thrilled by the violent vibrations and immeasurably loud roar and the exhaust shockwaves that washed over her body, Mandi felt her body glowing from the inside as she channeled more and more of her energy into her Volatai. Thrilled by the sensation of power, of using her extreme physical strength, she felt herself rising, the passion that lived barely beneath the surface of her now Velorian body promising yet another wild orgasm. Eager for that, she gave herself up to the feeling, caring little what happened to the Shuttle. She longed to come while inside the explosion that was mere seconds away.
A thousand feet away, alarms were going off in the launch center. The external TV cameras revealed that the Shuttle had stalled in mid-flight just above the pad. The Engineers checked their gauges, convinced that the liquid-fueled engines must have shutdown. Yet the computer readouts said all engines were running at peak power. Yet the Shuttle was not rising.
A physical impossibility.
Yet if they'd known Mandi was the cause, they would realize that few things are impossible for a Supremis. But they had no idea of the young woman from the stars who was hiding among the violent flame and smoke of the rocket. All the men in Launch Control really knew was that they had a very serious malfunction on their hands. Uncovering the Abort switch, the Range Safety Officer waited nervously for the command she already knew was coming.
The launch officer delayed that command for a few more moments as he tried to understand how the Shuttle could hang for long seconds directly above the pad. All instrumentation said that normal thrust parameters were being met. Steering was nominal as the main engines swiveled to keep the Shuttle standing perfectly vertical. He knew that a Destruct order this close to the launch pad would severely damage or even destroy the facility, and this was the last operational Shuttle pad in the world. Praying that the rocket would gain some more altitude, that it would at least clear the gantries before he destroyed it, he was dismayed to see it instead settling lower. Knowing that he had no choice now, he lowered his arm to signal the Safety Officer, and she stabbed her finger on the red Abort button.
The encoded radio wave took only microseconds to reach the Shuttle. Then, starting at mid-point, a series of programmed explosions began to rip the rocket apart, rupturing the massive tanks of liquid oxygen and hydrogen to create a fireball nearly a mile across. The explosion knocked the men and women in the launch center from their feet, and they were a thousand feet away and fifty feet underground.
While the horrified people in the launch center were being thrown to the floor, Mandi was luxuriating in the wonderful conflagration. A million gallons of liquid oxygen and twice that amount of hydrogen had exploded like a small nuclear bomb, which her in the exact center. The explosion momentarily flattened her against the concrete pad as hundreds of tons of exploding rocket parts began raining down on top of her. A large piece of debris slammed between her legs, and she grabbed it and used it for her sexy purposes as she lost all control, her cries of ecstasy mingling with her insane laughter before being lost in the roar of the mighty explosion. A portion of the huge rocket motor assembly crashed down on her lower body, but that merely excited her further.
She kicked her bare legs upward to throw the remains of the massive triple engine assembly to the side. Flashing upward, blinded by the explosion, she tore through the disintegrating girders and fuel tanks, smashing through the heart of the exploding rocket to tear into the payload section up at the nose. There she grabbed the hated surveillance satellite inside, the one that could potentially detect the presence of Arion ships, and tore it from the exploding Orbiter to race high into the sky with the ten ton payload resting on her back.
She came to a halt a half minute later and nearly fifty thousand feet above the city of San Luis Obispo. She shifted the satellite around to rest it on her chest as her long fingernails tore through the thin walls to find its power source, a Russian-made plutonium reactor that had been purchased and adapted by the US military. It was the power supply for what only moments before had been a powerful military radar surveillance satellite. Ripping the Top Secret reactor from the satellite, she released the shattered remains of the spacecraft to fall toward the city far below.
The reactor compartment, full of Plutonium fuel, was now her bargaining chip, one that she intended to use to draw out the reclusive Velorian Protectors of this planet.
Turning to fly southward, she headed directly toward Los Angeles, toward the Channel 13 production studios, the very same studio where she'd unsuccessfully interviewed for a job only a week earlier as Mandi Olson. Back when she'd been masquerading as a professional dancer and actress.
She was looking forward to a second meeting with the station manager who'd said that she was too young and too inexperienced to work in his station. She decided to make him suffer by killing him last.
Big Sur, California
Kara got a cup of tea from the kitchen after hanging up her red and blue costume to dry. She'd modeled the outfit after the Terran comic book character who most closely resembled herself and her abilities. In theory, modeling her look after an already iconic figure was supposed make it easier for Terrans to accept and understand her. To reduce cognitive dissonance. It was an essential part of the training she'd received as a Protector -- leveraging off local myths and cultural icons on whatever world she was stationed on. She wasn't sure the technique was actually useful, but this outfit at least appealed to her vanity. The tiny skirt and boots made her legs look amazing and the skintight top with the big "S" over her breasts was flattering. And then there was that funky, playful cape which actually was useful at times.
Soon after arriving on Earth, and after she'd chosen the mythological character she would mimic, she'd invested in the stock of the company who owned the trademarks and copyrights on the character whose image she was borrowing. As expected, Warner Entertainment's stock had risen strongly after she was spotted flying around in this outfit. She'd made a similar outfit for her daughter Xara using the same Vitamax fabric that she'd brought from Velor. It was tougher than anything that could be made on Earth.
The truly bizarre part was that her Velorian name was very similar to the comic book character, which made her wonder how much meddling the Galen had done here on Earth and on Velor. Kara Zaver'el versus Kara Zor El. But how could anyone have known she would wind up here? Had an earlier Protector pulled the strings to ultimately make this happen? Had she planted thoughts in the heads of the writers so they would create those Kryptonian characters in the first place? Perhaps even revealing herself to them to give them inspiration.
Whatever that reality truly was, when the costume came off, she became Lisa Banks, the CIO of one of the largest corporations in the world. She was married to Eric Banks, the conductor of the San Francisco Philharmonic Orchestra. Her daughter Xara (not Eric's daughter) was something beyond even Velorian, thanks to her father, a man known only as Lucas.
She thought of Lucas, a man who had amazed her with her part Galen heritage, as she sat down to sip her tea. Lost in thought, she looked out the window as the late afternoon light filtered through the blinds, creating pleasing lines of shadow and light.
While everyone at Tyrell Industries thought Lisa Banks was on a long overdue vacation in the South Pacific, she'd actually been visiting her sister Lillith who was a Protector on a distant planet named Tetra. She'd been ten thousand light years from Earth while her Vice Presidents and Directors handled the routine affairs of the company. Flying nude through the dense gravity wells of several wormholes, she'd used her remarkable energy and the space-bending character of those singularities to travel thousands of light years in less than a single Terran day.
It wasn't exactly the usual vacation itinerary for the CIO of a major corporation. But Lisa wasn't the usual CIO.
Turning to her red-headed assistant, Lisa found that Crystal was wearing the kind of sexy gown that would turn every man's head. She'd felt a very misplaced pique of jealousy as she remembered that Crystal had been keeping her husband busy while she was gone. Sometimes she worried that she was starting to think like a human.
"Crystal, get me the files on that labor dispute we had a while ago. I want to make sure our filing with the Labor Relations board was done correctly. The last thing we need is for a grievance to be filed this late in the game. It sounds like Legal is worried about that union steward who was injured in that disturbance in my office, the one you 'took care of' for me that day."
The beautiful redhead bounced across the room a few minutes later to hand Lisa the file.
Crystal was ninety years younger than her boss, although their physical ages appeared to be much closer than that, for Lisa had been aging at less than a tenth the rate of a human woman since her 16th birthday, courtesy of the remarkable stability of her Velorian genes. It would be many more decades before her apparent biological age reached that of a thirty year old Terran woman. Which limited her sojourn as Lisa Banks to the period of time when people would believe she was simply "well preserved." Ten years more, probably less.
Crystal had worked closely with Lisa for several years now. During that time, she'd become something more than merely human herself, a fact that those blackmailing union stewards had quickly come to understand that fateful day. A day that had ended with Crystal feeling proud of the way she'd defended her boss.
Lisa had communicated a very different message to her. She'd angrily told told Crystal how poorly she'd handled the situation. What had remained unsaid was that Lisa was equally disappointed in her own actions. Fortunately, her out-of-control behavior hadn't harmed any Terrans, with the only casualty being a masquerading Prime. They were fair for the killing, for that was her real job as a Protector.
Crystal was having a difficult time with gentleness. She hadn't been programmed from birth like a Protector, and she was far too human in her thoughts and actions. She'd once crippled a man for life by decking him with a punch that had broken his jaw and two vertebrae in his neck. Crystal's only consolation was that she'd pulled her punch. A full-power blow from her tiny fist would have taken his head off.
She set the folder from the union steward incident on Lisa's desk as she watched her boss staring out the window, deep in thought. She sometimes worried about the sixteen hour days Lisa put in, half spent on Tyrell, the other half dealing with Arion infiltrators. At least she was taking some time off from her jobs to spend with her family now. She just wished Lisa had more time for her.
Behind them, a large computer screen on the wall suddenly turned red to light the room with its soft glow, and a loud chime sounded. Both women turned just in time to see an image of a huge rocket exploding. The announcer’s voice grew audible as Lisa’s automatic content sensor brought the breaking story to the forefront of her screen.
"Holo on," Crystal spoke to command the system.
The screen expanded outward to form a three-dimensional hologram in the middle of the room as the announcer described a serious malfunction of a military launch at Vandenburg. The image of a huge fireball grew so brilliant that both women imagined they could feel the heat. Lisa was quickly relieved to hear that CNN didn't think anyone had been killed, although some campers on the nearby beaches had been slightly injured from falling debris. Which was amazing given the fireball had reportedly blossomed more than a mile wide.
Staring at the flaming destruction, Lisa thought back to the naïve proposal that her daughter, Xara, had made to NASA in Washington, DC only a few weeks ago. It seemed like it had only been yesterday.
Xara had entered the Executive Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue before brusquely pushing her way past the normally protective NASA receptionist. She strolled down the long hallway to walk boldly into the weekly NASA Directors Meeting. Every head turned to focus on her as she boldly walked up to the front of the large conference room, and then floated weightlessly off the floor to settle cross-legged on the end of the long conference table. Turning, she tilted her head while studying each man, her direct stare making them uncomfortable. It felt as if she was looking right through them.
At Lisa's insistence, her daughter had dispensed with her more familiar Protector's uniform to dress in a pair of slacks, a tight pink top and a short jacket that she wore unzipped and loose. The goal was to make Xara look more mature than her sixteen years, but the way she'd settled down to sit cross-legged on the end of the table had undone all of that. That and the way she'd hijacked their meeting without a word of explanation or introduction.
Despite her seeming calm, Xara's five-chambered heart was beating fast as she reached in her jacket pocket to retrieve the memory cube containing her holo-presentation. She slipped the cube into the projector and took a deep breath as she prepared to launch into her prepared speech.
A brilliant ten-foot tall hologram formed just above the conference table to show a Shuttle on the verge of launch. The sound of clinking metal and spinning servos combined with the vapor that was coming off its LOX tanks to make it seem real enough to send a chill through the room. For all the world, it appeared as if the conference table was five feet away from a miniature but fully functional version of the Shuttle.
The rocket engines ignited and the image of the miniature Shuttle roared upward, flames spreading across the conference table as it rose up through the ceiling and disappeared. When the deafening roar faded away, the room was left filled with holographic smoke that looked so real that everyone instinctively held their breath, not daring to inhale the dangerous powdered metal exhaust fumes.
This was exactly the effect Xara had hoped for as she began talking about environmental damage caused by powdered-metal solid rockets and ozone depletion from high altitude rocket burns. As she talked, she focused her gaze on the older scientist who was seated at far end of the table. She was going to make them an offer they could hardly refuse.
Everyone turned to follow her gaze toward the shabbily dressed older man. He was a legend inside NASA, but he wasn't someone anyone of them liked to talk to. He always asked questions they couldn't answer.
"In return for using the strength of my body to replace your chemical rockets and the low-powered anti-grav launch systems, I will enable you to reach further into space than ever before. I will free your budget for deep-space exploration and not merely to waste it lifting payloads into Earth orbit. Dr. Ricktofen has read my proposal."
The good doctor, NASA'a chief rocket designer, stood up to wave away the virtual holographic smoke cloud to get a better view of Xara. "I did indeed read it, young lady," he said in heavily accented German. "But there are many unanswered questions. Specifically, I need to understand your true lift capability. You merely said, and I quote, that I have strength adequate for all tasks. But that doesn't tell me how much tonnage you really insert into low Earth orbit."
"Six million pounds on a vertical launch to any orbit, give or take a half million," Xara said proudly. She'd done her homework by carrying a house-sized boulder of that weight into orbit just last week, and then riding it down like a flaming meteor to crash into the middle of the Pacific.
The doctor shook his head. "Vertical lift isn't enough. This old Space Shuttle you are showing us alone weights four times that at launch."
"But most of that weight is fuel that you no longer need," Xara argued. "Your net payload is less than fifty-thousand pounds and the entire orbiter is only one-hundred thousand. I certainly would not find that heavy." She sat up straight while tossing her long, blonde hair over her shoulders to look proudly at them. "I am far stronger than you can possibly imagine."
The men stared at the slender teenage girl as if she was daft. She looked like she would have trouble lifting forty pounds over her head. But then, like everyone else, they knew of her mother, the fabulous Superfemme. Rumor had it she was thousands of times stronger than any human who had ever lived.
"You are the one they are now calling the Supergirl, are you not?" Dr. Ricktofen asked.
"Yeah. The name is all over Twitter," Xara said impatiently. "So is Superfemme, my mother. What of it?"
"Yours is a name from those old comic books. Both you and your mother wear a costume based on that character. The result is that many people don't think you're real. That you are some kind of mass delusion. How can we possibly take you seriously?"
"Do I look like either a delusion or an allusion, gentlemen? I'm sitting right here. You can touch me to prove that I'm not some hologram or whatever."
Ricktofen started to reply, but was interrupted when the committee chairman spoke up. Jim Anderson was angry that his important meeting schedule had been disrupted. "Young lady, you are out of line here. I don't care if you've leaped from the pages of the comic books or from Heaven or Hell itself, you will not interrupt our meeting. Please leave before I have you thrown out."
Xara showed no visible reaction as she slowly looked up to glance at the door. Two brilliant beams of pure energy flashed from her eyes to weld the hinges shut. Her eyes turned cool blue again as she turned back to stare at the men. Several of them cringed as they imagined her sending that kind of destruction their way.
"No one is leaving this room until you understand the danger that your rockets pose to Earth's atmosphere and to the people near your launch sites. Especially your solid fuel boosters. They fill the air with poisonous particles for days after a launch."
"I beg your pardon, but the EPA has never objected to..."
"Let her finish," Dr. Ricktofen interrupted. "I'm sure she has thought this out. She was born on another star, after all."
"Ah, sorry guys. But I was born in LA. You have me confused with my mom."
"But of course," the doctor replied, his voice as smooth as honey. "Now, go on and explain to us again what you wish to do to help us."
"Right. As I was saying, your rockets contaminate the air. You also use tremendous amounts of energy to just get out of the gravity well of Earth and an accident would be disastrous to those on the ground. You remember the Challenger explosion and the Columbia crash."
"Of course," the Chairman interrupted again. "But we fixed the O-rings and we solved the issues with the heat tiles after Columbia."
Xara continued down her talking points as if he'd never spoken. Her eyes were focused on the doctor's alone now. "You will have more failures. You know this. The astronauts know this. The system is not robust. Yet I could safely stage your spacecraft in orbit and you could assemble your ships there. I can lift fifty times the weight your anti-gravs can lift. You could then spend all your shrinking budget on exploring Mars and beyond."
"Hmmm... with no gravity well to escape..." the Doctor said as his words trailed off. He began to do some mental arithmetic.
Xara got there first. "It means that you could colonize the Moon with your existing equipment, Doctor. And send a crew of men to Mars as early as next year. You could have a significant colony on Mars in five years. You could have a ship outfitted to journey toward a distant star in twenty years. With my help you could even learn how to make wormhole ships. You would become citizens of the universe and not trapped on this little planet."
The German scientist paused in mid-thought as he shook his head. "No, it is not possible. Not in that time. We would have to totally redesign our craft to assemble them in orbit. Besides, I cannot believe you can lift such weights whenever we need you to. We launch payloads every week."
"I can and I will. Watch this." Xara pushed the button to start the embedded film clip that her friend Jason had embedded in her presentation. It showed a Russian submarine surging out of the water to slowly climb upward on makeshift wings until it disappeared far overhead. The wings were a hundred feet in width and appeared to have been hammered out of solid steel.
"That submarine weighed five thousand tons. But by having it fly with those wings that I welded on, I was able to provide enough thrust to accelerate it to escape velocity. That old submarine, along with a dozen others just like it are now safely located on the far side of the Moon."
The men stared down at her slender body, jaws falling as they tired to comprehend how she could have such power. She appeared to be a junior in high school. A girl too young to even have a driver's license.
"Video like that is easily faked, young lady," the Chief of Propulsion said as he joined the discussion. "Launching that submarine would have taken several million pounds of thrust."
"I think she's telling the truth," said a man in uniform who was the committee's liaison to the military. "Our intel says that the Russians have lost a number of submarines that had been laid up for leaking reactors. Those old subs were environmental disasters waiting to happen. I’m happy to hear they are safely located on the far side of the Moon now." He paused as he looked uncomfortably around the room. "This is classified, but we were all worried about their disappearance since some of those subs still had nuclear weapons on board when they vanished."
"They don't anymore," Xara said proudly. "I removed them and detonated those nukes with my bare hands. If I can survive that, I can certainly carry your spacecraft into orbit."
"You detonated them?" Ricktofen gasped. "With your bare hands?"
"The Russian safeguards were easy to defeat," Xara shrugged as if it was no big deal. "And the fusion fireballs were good for cleaning my uniform." She grabbed a handful of her blonde hair to hold it up. "Got a few split ends out the last one, though. It was nearly twenty megatons. See?"
"Then that explains the strange observations we have of the Moon recently," the military liaison said. "Y0u were obviously detonating them on the far side, but the explosions kicked up dust all across the visible surface."
Several of the committee members were shaking their heads now. The very idea of a teenage girl in possession of nuclear weapons was preposterous. Even worse that she'd claimed to have defeated the security systems and detonate them? That was downright terrifying.
The Chairman pushed a button on his desk to connect him to his secretary. "This is ridiculous. Alice, call Security and get this girl removed." He turned back to address the committee members. "We only have until Friday to get this budget reviewed, people, and we don't have time for this kind of foolishness."
"Foolishness?" Xara said angrily as she floated off the table. She performed a slow somersault over their heads, momentarily interrupting the hologram by flying through it. She landed on the table directly in front of the Chairman to tower over him, legs slightly spread, her small fists clenched so tightly that a small curl of smoke rose from each hand.
"Yes, foolishness," he said swallowed hard while trying to avoid staring up between her very long legs. He rose to his feet to face her, only to find that his eyes didn't even reach her waist. "Even if you can do as you say, Earth is for Terrans. We don't need the help of your kind. Even more, we can't afford to become dependent on some race of superwomen to get our ships up into space, for Christ's sake! You could change your mind or fly away any day, and then where would we be?"
A murmur of assent from the other men floated across the room. The Chairman was well known as a member of the anti-alien EarthFirst movement. They had been lobbying the government for some time to deport the aliens on Earth. To cut the government's ties to this girl's mother and the other Velorians.
Xara turned to see that Dr. Ricktofen alone remained silent and thoughtful. He slowly took a card from his shirt pocket and walked over to offer it to her. She jumped lightly down from the table to land in front of him. Standing nearly six feet tall in her low heels, she was half a head taller than the aging scientist.
"Your ideas have much merit, Xara. If you are serious about pursuing them, then you should call me and make an appointment. Until then, this committee has other matters to attend to. As you know, Congress wants to cut our budget for next year."
"All the more reason to take me up on my offer. You can do far more with far less money. All I ask is an opportunity to prove myself."
Ricktofen looked at her apologetically as he lowered his voice so that only she could hear it. "This is Washington, Xara, and money is the fuel that enables everything. Leave those of us who believe in your cause to the task of preparing this unwilling country to fight the battle against the Arions with you. I will return later to work with you on this other dream."
Xara just stared at him. "How did you… you do you know about them?"
"She didn't take his advice, did she?" Crystal asked. "And how did Ricktofen know about the Arions?"
"The good doctor has connections in Black Ops," Lisa said. "They know more about us and the Arions than I'm comfortable with. Unfortunately, Xara has rarely taken anyone's advice and she didn't take the doctor's that day. Instead of leaving, she returned to the podium and told the Board that her only payment would be that the chemical rockets on Earth would be destroyed in an environmentally friendly way. Something she volunteered to personally arrange by dumping them onto the Moon as well."
"And they turned her down," Crystal said simply.
"Without a second thought. They kept repeating that they didn't want to be dependent on an alien race. But I think they were just as determined not to let a pretty teenage girl run roughshod over them. Xara hasn't learned the benefits of tact and diplomacy yet."
"They were all assholes. Typical Terran behavior," Crystal said disgustedly.
Lisa looked at her sharply. Crystal was a Terran. She worried that her assistant was starting to think of herself otherwise.
"Anyway," Lisa continued, "Xara doesn't handle rejection well and she threatened to destroy all their rockets anyway. To force them to work with her. That's when the good doctor explained our own Prime Directive to her. Xara broke into tears and flew from the room."
Crystal nodded. "Despite all her power, she's young and her emotions are fragile. Even among the rarified company of you Velorians, she's more goddess than Protector."
"That article in the Times sure didn't help," Lisa shrugged. "The photos showed a huge hole in the wall and a room covered plaster and broken wood paneling. Several of the Board members were slightly injured by flying debris. Even worse, the committee responded after she left by voting to begin development of an even larger solid-fuel booster rocket. The doctor was the only dissenter and he got out-voted."
Lisa paused. "You know, Crystal," she said as she recalled Xara's angry recounting of the meeting -- it had been a bit more complex than what she was hearing from Crystal. "I wonder if I should let Xara go through with her threat to destroy their rockets. That would solve some problems, not the least would be this kind of mess." She pointed at the fading hologram of the exploding Shuttle in the middle of her office. "At least this launch wasn't manned, thank goodness."
"Don’t you remember why you told her not to do it, love?" Crystal answered softly, her hands resting on her boss' strong shoulders as she began to massage them. "The same Prime Directive they quoted to her. You are violating it by simply being visible. Sharon tolerates that, leaving it out of her reports back to Velor, but she's made it clear that changing the development of technology on Earth would be inexcusable. She could never look past that in her reports."
"Screw that damned Scribe," Lisa said angrily. "She's been a thorn in my side from day one. If not for her, we'd…"
"We'd be in severe violation of the PD and you would likely be replaced here on Earth," Crystal finished. "You think another Protector could do this job better than you can?"
Lisa sighed. "No. But I don't need Sharon to tell me that."
Crystal said nothing. There was a limit to how far she could push her boss. She needed Sharon more than she was willing to admit.
Lisa waved her arms. "And hell, NASA seems rather attached to their old rockets. Or maybe just to their independence from us. Remember how the Press had a field day at Xara's expense."
Crystal smiled. "You mean the headline that was on every front page and News show: Aliens threaten to destroy Shuttle program."
"The EarthFirst people were definitely pulling the strings on that one, Crystal. Don't confuse the News with reality."
"Well, it didn't help that Xara acted childish after they turned her down," Crystal continued. "The Washington Monument really does belong in Washington, not in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Oh, by the way. They've got a call out for you to put it back. I've got you scheduled to do that on Saturday morning. The White House has set up a global telecast to record the return of their precious monument."
Lisa leaned her head back, cradling her neck between Crystals firm breasts, her blonde hair covering the front of Crystal's body. She was already imagining what it would look like as she descended from the sky with that tall monument suspended over her head. It was going to take both her and Xara's strength to wrestle that thing back into its hole in the ground. Assuming Xara would even help her. If not, there was always Cat. She wasn't as strong as Xara -- no one was -- but together they could manage it.
Lisa stiffened slightly as she felt Crystal's lips tracing suggestively across her sensitive ear, and she sighed contentedly as her strong hands continued massaging her shoulders. "They're right in a way, Crystal. We can't make it too easy for the people of Earth. To make them so dependent on our special abilities that their scientific and engineering expertise atrophies and they lose the ability to take care of themselves." Lisa paused before closing her eyes to sigh wearily. "We’ve seen enough of that already as corporations and governments use computers to make most of the day-to-day decisions. The machines are taking over."
"Now that's a weird remark coming from the CIO of Tyrell," Crystal giggled in Lisa's ear. "I thought your job was to computerize everything?"
"Not to the point where people lose the ability to think and control them," Lisa replied quickly. She opened her eyes to stare back into the hologram, watching the reports on the extent of the damage from the Shuttle explosion. "Xara is going to be really pissed when she sees this. It looks like the debris is spread all across the beaches for miles in both directions."
Crystal stood up with a shrug. "That area is, or rather it was a wildlife refuge. At least no one died."
Lisa sighed. "But probably a lot of birds did. There will be hell to pay for that, starting with Xara. She's aligned herself so closely with the Audubon Society, and he loves flying with the larger birds. I'd better get ready for a very unpleasant conversation at dinner tonight. There will be hell to pay given she was denied her chance to avoid all this. She always takes it out on me."
"Well, Lisa, who else can she vent on but SuperMom herself," Crystal said with a smile. "She blows Eric and Jason away, for a couple of reasons, both of which you know. She can be quite indiscreet with her pheromones. I feel so sorry for Eric sometimes. "
Lisa swiveled her chair around to look at her friend, a concerned look in her eyes. "I didn't realize that it was that obvious, Crystal. But yes, she seems intent on torturing him. She knows that he's hyper-sensitive to pheromones after our years together."
Crystal smiled down at her boss. "Like mother like daughter. I thought Velorians didn't have any rules about stuff like that. Its not like he's her biological father or anything."
"Not back on Velor," Lisa said with a shake of her head, "but Xara has grown up on Earth. She is emotionally tied to Terran culture. Besides, what you are suggesting would be devastating to Eric. He loves her as if she was his own daughter."
"Of course. I wasn't trying to suggest…"
"Speaking of Eric," Lisa interrupted, her blue eyes sparkling mischievously. "How did it go with you and Eric while I was gone?"
Crystal laughed, the sound like the tinkling of crystal chimes. "Surely you don't really want to hear about it. I mean, God, you are such a voyeur sometimes. He is your husband after all!"
"And I'm a Velorian," Lisa said as she floated up from her chair. She hovered in mid-air as she hugged Crystal close, her bare legs wrapping around her friend's waist as she sat in her lap in a most unprofessional way. "We don't have the usual rules, as you well know. I was more worried about his dependency on my pheromones."
"I fucked his brains out, of course," Crystal laughed. "Its your fault. You're the one who made him insatiable."
"No one who knows every aspect of my body as intimately as you do, Crystal dear. Not even Eric. You are, in fact, a product of my body as much as any child could be. I'm happy you took care of him when I was gone. It's the only way to keep him sane and walking straight and out of trouble around Xara and Cat. Did he live up to your expectations?"
Crystal licked Lisa’s nose, then laughed. "No way. I am not going to give you a blow by blow about fucking your husband. But I will say you have done wonders with him, Lisa. While he may not be able to bend steel with those wimpy muscles of his, at least one important part of him is now completely and totally super-duper." She winked at her boss and lover. "Besides, I think he prefers younger redheads. Maybe you should travel to visit your sister Lillith more often."
Both of them laughed as Lisa leaned forward, her soft lips meeting those of her young friend. Like all Velorians, Lisa had no concept of sexual jealousy. She was just glad that the ice had been broken and Crystal could openly share Eric's company. It was a most Velorian type of arrangement, and one that would help Eric manage if something ever happened to her. He was more man than any human woman could handle now.