Written by Darala Starr :: [Wednesday, 12 June 2019 21:00] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 15 June 2019 22:59]
Darala Starr hardly felt the impact from the landing of her spaceship while secured in her restraints. The trip from Tau Ceti Alpha was long, or rather, it felt long. A hundred fifty Ceti hours were far more than those here on this planet, which as she recalled was referred to simply as Earth. The ship’s navigation system glowed on a screen nearby and confirmed her destination and safe arrival.
“I can’t believe I signed up for this,” Darala said. Carefully, she unfastened herself from her seat and stood, stretching. Her intergalactic mission bodysuit was still fitted perfectly on her. The material was snug, flexible and shiny and she loved the feel and the look of it. Especially since her training and the notable physical results that followed.
Her physique was not as muscular as those of Tau Ceti Athletes, but that was okay. She was still a work in progress since the accident. It was hard to even think about it—about how badly she’d been hurt. Some of the physicians on Tau Ceti even said she’d never walk again. But as she healed and rested, she also began training. It started with long walks and then turned to running along the banks of Tau Ceti’s scenic seashore. Once she was able to run and not get so tired, she began lifting at Tau Ceti training facilities, moving heavier and heavier weights over time. It became something of an obsession, especially as she felt strength return and saw new and fascinating results.
From then on, Darala made it a point to push her own physical limits as much as possible. Within reason, of course. After all, she was a scientist, not an athlete. There was only so much time in a day she could spend on physical training.
But with the time she had she worked hard to strengthen and tone herself. She looked amazing in her mission suit and enjoyed staring at herself in the ship’s digital mirror. In fact, it was during the trip here that Darala began to do what the athletes did back home. It was called flexing the muscles to see just how they’d grown.
And hers had grown well defined and very, very hard. She could feel the hardness of her biceps beneath the soft, shiny material as it stretched when she flexed them. The suit responded to the growth of her muscles and the tightness of it against her skin was intoxicating.
Maybe some flexing before I start my mission,she thought playfully. A moment later a disembodied voice filled the space around her. It was the ship’s computer. The voice was warm and inviting. Female.
“Hello, Darala. You’ve successfully landed on E3 dwarf planet commonly referred to as Earth.”
Darala began a series of leg stretches, noticing the bulge of her suit around her legs that had also shown growth, hardness and definition.
The ship’s computer said, “I hope you read the entire report of this planet I prepared before the mission.”
Darala glanced down at her calf muscle as she tightened it, the shape of it well defined through her suit.
“Amazing,” she whispered.
Nearby on a holographic screen, the report opened. The display was filled with text and charts.
“Um, sure…,” Darala said, continuing to stretch.
“You seem distracted,” the ship’s computer said. “Are you paying attention, Darala?”
“Uh-huh,” Darala said, not paying attention. Instead, her attention fell on the bulge of her bicep as she flexed it, enjoying the shiny material of her suit swelling with it. She could feel the sudden size and hardness of the muscle as she tightened her hand into a fist. The muscle had a defined peak that almost stunned her.
“Computer, have you seen my bicep?” Darala asked. “I mean, look at this! I’ve been working very hard on my body. You know, after the accident and everything—I had to make growing stronger a priority.”
“Darala, pay attention,” the ship’s computer said. “You must concentrate on the mission.”
Darala stopped flexing her bicep and sighed.
“Look, I don’t need to know all the specifics,” she said. “I’m a scientist, I can figure this world out as I go. Besides, this is a short mission. I’ll be away from the ship for maybe a couple of hours. Tops.”
There was a moment of silence on the ship.
“You shouldn’t make any assumptions, Darala,” the computer voice finally said. “It will get you into trouble.”
Darala cocked her hips to one side and folded her arms across her chest which had also seen benefits of her training regimen. Her chest muscles had hardened considerably, and the definition of them was obvious in the open v-neck lining of her shiny suit.
“I won’t get into any trouble,” she insisted. “I know the drill: use the tracking data to locate the missing high-gain transponder and bring it back to the ship. Then go back to Tau Ceti Alpha, mission accomplished.”
The ship’s computer said, “You pretend like it’s easy. But every planet has its challenges, Darala. You should proceed with caution.”
Darala moved toward a console on the wall of the ship and touched a screen. A small compartment opened and inside were two silver bracelets. She grabbed them and slid them over her wrists. Against the shiny red lycra of her suit, the bracelets were stunning.
“Don’t forget your belt, Darala,” the computer said.
“I know, I know,” Darala answered. “For bio monitoring, life support aid and because it makes my hips in this suit look amazing!”
The computer voice chuckled. “Honestly, Darala, you should stop thinking about your body.”
Darala lifted both her arms and flexed, her biceps rising into hard, defined peaks. “That is going to be very difficult,” Darala said and smiled, admiring her assets.
Darala stood in the airlock of the ship and entered the code to open the outer door. She glanced down at the bracelet on her left wrist. There was a glowing display, shimmering above the surface. She lightly tapped it with her finger and a map with coordinates appeared.
“I can’t believe this transponder still works, the thing was a piece of junk. And it fell here ages ago. Maybe that’s why no one found it.”
The outer hatch opened with a quick release of air and pressure. Sunlight shone down from the little yellow star in the Earth sky. The light played marvelously off her shiny suit and Darala took notice. Once again, she decided to try a flex in the daylight, now seeing just how shiny her suit was and how amazing her bicep looked beneath the material.
“Darala, you look incredible,” she said to herself.
A moment later, the ship’s computer voice sounded from a communication app in her bracelet: “Focus, Darala, please! Just complete the mission.”
Resigned, Darala stopped flexing and began surveying the surroundings. There were trees in the not-too-far distance and some rolling hills around the ship. Since there was a fool-proof cloaking device installed, she didn’t worry about anyone seeing the Tau Ceti interstellar ship. Darala began walking and glanced down at her wrist display, following the map.
“Okay, this’ll be easier than I thought,” she said, but something caused her to stop. She was having a hard time catching her breath.
“That’s weird,” she said. “I’m having a hard time… breathing.”
The ship’s computer answered from her bracelet.
“That’s because the atmosphere on Earth is much thinner that what you’re used to, Darala. But if you’d read the report as I told you to, you would have known that.”
Darala shook her head, feeling a dizziness come over her. Then she felt her heart begin to race.
“I don’t feel so good. I… I need to come back to the ship. I can’t breath.”
The computer answered her. “Don’t panic, Darala. Your belt is equipped with environmental adjustments. It will begin to add Tau Ceti pressure back into your blood and lungs. Just relax.”
Darala dropped to one knee on the ground, wheezing. “I can’t relax… I can’t breath. How long is this going to take?”
The computer answered, “I’ve adjusted the levels properly. You should start feeling better now.”
Very slowly, Darala felt the pressure in her lungs begin to settle, her breath coming back to normal. Finally, she stood back up.
“That was scary,” Darala said.
“I’m glad I was able to help you,” the computer voice said.
“Thank you,” Darala said. “Sorry I didn’t read the report. Just try and guide me through the rest of this.”
The computer voice chuckled, “Of course, Darala. Just keep moving along the coordinates until you find the transponder. It’s a model F-2. Small enough to carry in your hands. It’s likely the housing has weakened over time in this atmosphere, although there’s little danger in you damaging it any further.”
Darala began walking, ducking to the cover of trees, following a rough-hewn foot trail through the woods. As she walked she also took in the sound of strange creatures that flew with wings above her.
“Wow,” she said. “There are strange, flying creatures.”
The ship’s computer spoke through her bracelet. “Those are called ‘birds.’ There are many species on this planet.”
“I wish I could do that,” Darala mused. Then she asked, “Computer, are there any signs of terrestrial human life in this area?”
A moment later she heard, “Negative. No terrestrial human life detected.”
“This will be even easier than I thought,” Darala said. “I wonder if I did meet a human, what would—”
There was a loud explosion over Darala’s head that violently tore apart the tree bark! Startled, Darala dropped low, ducking down as another explosive charge came lower, right above her head!
“Computer,” she said, panicked, “what’s happening?”
There was no response.
“Computer,” Darala shouted louder. No response. She checked her wrist display, which had gone dark.
“Oh, no,” she said.
Another loud crack sent debris pouring down on her and she screamed.
“Don’t move!” A loud voice said. A dark form appeared in Darala’s vision and carefully she looked up from her crouched, tense position.
A man stood over her with something in his hand. It looked like… like a weapon. More exactly, a compact rifle.
“Who are you,” the man asked. He was short and not in the best of physical shape. But his eyes seemed to glow a strange green-bluish color. His stare was intense. “Where did you come from?”
Darala stuck her hands in the air and very slowly, carefully stood up.
“I, uh… I’m lost. I was looking for something and I think I have the wrong coordinates,” she said.
“Coordinates?” the man asked, leveling the barrel of the gun at her chest. “What kind of talk is that?”
Darala stammered, “Oh, I meant geo-coordinates.”
The man looked her over, sweeping her body in that suit.
“And what kind of getup is this?”
Darala took offense. “Excuse me, but this is my uniform. It’s not a ‘getup.’”
The man scowled and said, “Well, it doesn’t matter anyhow. You’re trespassing. No one’s allowed to be here. Now let’s go.”
He pointed off in a direction with the gun.
“Go where?” Darala asked.
Darala shook her head, keeping wary eyes on the gun. “Oh, no, I can’t, I have to… I mean I need to find…”
“Start walking,” the man said. “Or I’ll put a hole through your pretty little head.”
Darala straightened herself up and, for a moment, thought about flexing her biceps in order to, perhaps, try and intimidate this human creature. But when he clicked something on the weapon and grabbed the trigger, she decided not to push her luck.
The building was a grim, squatting concrete structure with a sealed metal door. Outside was a vehicle of some kind, with wheels. It seemed archaic but she assumed this earth creature probably used it to get around.
The man used a key to unlock the door, keeping Darala in his sights with the weapon the whole time. Once he got the door open, he motioned her to go inside.
“Get inside,” he said. “Now.”
Keeping her hands up, Darala slowly stepped into the building. The inside, she found was just as miserable. Even moreso when she noticed a small confined space bulwarked by a tightly formed array of metal bars. There was an open door in the structure of the bars, and the man motioned Darala should step inside.
“I don’t want to be here,” she said. “This is all just a mistake. I’ll leave quietly and won’t be any trouble.”
“Get. Inside,” he yelled. With the gun pointed at her chest, Darala reluctantly stepped into the holding cell. Behind her she heard the door clang shut loudly. She spun around and found herself staring hopelessly through the bars.
“What do you want from me,” she asked.
The man lowered his weapon and again examined her from head to toe.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone quite like you before,” he began. “Your suit, your bracelets and belt. What kind of uniform is that?”
Darala planted her fists on her hips. Irritation was growing.
“I’m a scientist. But you wouldn’t understand if I tried to explain it to you.”
The man stepped closer to the bars, his leering face framed between them.
“Oh, I think perhaps I do understand. More than you realize. I don’t know where you’re from exactly, but I saw your ship arrive and land. From that I deduced that you were here forit.”
Darala frowned and decided to play ignorant. “It? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“The transponder,” he said.
Darala was astonished. “How did you know…how could you possibly know? Where is it?”
“It’s in a safe place, not too far from here.”
“Okay, now it’s my turn to ask the questions,” Darala demanded. “Who are you?”
“Well,” the man began, “I’ve been here a long time… but I’m not from here.”
Darala stared into his strange glowing eyes and came to a sudden realization.
“You're Torellian, aren’t you? A Torellian scavenger!”
“Not a scavenger,” he protested. “I’m here on assignment, much as I suspect you are. Now… what planet are you from… miss scientist? Because I could never tell from where the device originally came.”
Darala cocked her hips to one side and folded her arms across her chest, making a point to flex her chest muscles.
“I don’t have to tell you anything,” she said in an iron cold tone.
The man grinned and then laughed, his eyes shining brightly. “Okay,” he said. “I get it. You’re trying to play tough. Well let me educate you, miss scientist… if you don’t tell me who you are and where you’re from, I will blow holes in you so big there won’t be anything left to send home.”
Darala tried to remain calm, but felt nervous tension.
“I’ll give you five earth minutes to decide how you want to handle this,” he said, and then slowly backed away, turned and walked outside, slamming the door shut behind him. It thundered like a gong.
Darala lost her breath for a moment and then recovered.Oh, Darala, what have you gotten yourself into? she thought.