Ordinary Velorians - Corrididor

Part Four

By Shadar

Graphics: Shadar

(Revision: 3) 


Chapter Nine

Apartment block next to the commercial sector

It was high noon when a man in his forties and a young woman in her early twenties sat down in a darkened room to watch a hologram. The images that surrounded them were all of Vera, recorded when she'd first stepped out of the spaceport and walked uncertainly into the living areas of the asteroid. Taken from a series of surveillance cameras, they showed her floating down a flight of stairs to stumble awkwardly at the bottom.

"The holo confirms it, Zarla. She's Velorian, but hardly a Protector. My guess would be B-class, and based on her lack of coordination, this is her first time off Velor."

Zarla sat motionless in front of the holo as it switched to a view of the maintenance shop at the reactor. She watched the blonde woman carrying two heavy sections of pipe, one over each shoulder, before turning to look up at the man who was her father, her crystalline eyes wide in wonder. "She's incredibly strong. Those pipes must each weigh a good part of a ton."

Her father nodded. "A B-class’s main weapons are ordinarily her power of levitation and heat vision. But this woman is unusually muscular, so I'm guessing she's significantly stronger than normal.  But hardly in your class.”

“I don’t want to fight her, father. Innocents could be killed.”

“Don't worry, I've got a battle plan that doesn't involve your dealing directly with her. Instead, we'll give that task to the local authorities. The Enforcers to be exact."

"Why should they take her on? She came to help. At their invitation."

"If she commits a capital crime, the Velorian will have to comply with local law enforcement or they'll send a Protector to compel her."

Zarla looked back at the holo and shuddered. "A capital crime? Why would she do that?"

"She won't. But everyone will think she has."

Zarla felt another chill trace up her back as she guessed where this discussion was heading.

"I'm in medical school now, father, almost a Healer. I don't know anything about battling the Pales."

Her father turned up the lights as the holo imaged evaporated. "We all have our obligations in this life, Zarla, and your donor’s legacy lives in you. Rumors are that the Velorian intends to stay on Corrididor. That would compromise our mission."

Zarla glared at her father. "Our mission? Legacies? I thought we came here to avoid all that."

"Life is never that simple, my dear," Daglon Sophrant sighed, “but it is true that I was looking for a different life after your mother died. This assignment as a merchant, living undercover along the fringes of the Enlightenment, was the best location I could wrangle out of Command. No Velorians present, at least until now, only humans, and the Virtual University here was first rate."

"Isn't that enough?"

"It was until today. But I have a responsibility to keep Corrididor from falling too far into the grasp of the Enlightenment. To keep the miners suspicious of authority and independent. If they became familiar with this Vel, even going so far as to get involved with her, she could tie them even more tightly to the Enlightenment."

Zarla said nothing. She couldn't tell her father how much she hated attending medical school with classmates who were merely holograms constructed from periodically transmitted data-traces of her classmates, the data from the Virtual University feeding into an artificial intelligence which gave their images life. She couldn’t tell him how much she missed Earth. Most importantly, she couldn’t tell him that she’d joined the underground. That her highest goal was to end the war that had become his life.

It could be worse, she told herself. The VU at least allowed students spread across the galaxy to interact and learn in an environment that was visually and audibly realistic, yet frustratingly, filled with images that dissolved when touched. Still, it was a huge step forward from the old-fashioned correspondence studies, and the VU could grant a medical degree before she traveled to an Empire world to begin her internship. There could be no substitute for real patients when her clinical studies began. Arion patients.

She was twenty-one years old, and remarkably, had just finished her second year of medical school, a full four years ahead of most other students. Her teachers and professors said she was gifted. In reality, she knew it was mostly hard work. After her six hours a day of classes, she studied for another fourteen, sleeping a bare four hours a night. That was enough sleep for someone with her genetic gifts, but it left no time for anything else in her life.

"I promise you, honey,” her father continued, “there will be no danger of your confronting the Vel. We’ll get at her through her associates."

Zarla sighed resignedly, and asked, "What do I have to do?" She knew that once her father had made up his mind, there was no turning him aside, and she was already losing time on her day’s studies.

Her father was a decorated Intel officer who’d served in the Arion Near Earth Command, and Zarla grown up on that wondrous yet dangerous world before her mother was killed in battle there. And while they might be living a long ways from the front lines now, her father's commission -- like those of all Arion officers -- ended only with his death.

Still, she didn't regret the opportunities to travel that had come with his career. Those years of growing up on Earth had been her favorite time. On the surface, the family had lived an ordinary American life in the city of Atlanta. Her father had been a scouting coach for the local professional football team, and her mother had been a model, two jobs which made Zarla's unusual beauty and extreme fitness believable to the humans.

She'd started modeling herself for children's clothing catalogs at age 10, and her career had culminated with a spectacularly popular pictorial for Playboy that had been shot on her 18th birthday. Her father had been proud of both her accomplishments. A picture from her centerfold portfolio, one that he liked because it emphasized her Arion perfection, still hung on the wall of their home.

He’d once told her that he wondered what Playboy would think if they knew the centerfold of their annual NFL fall kickoff issue was blessed with the strength of the combined starting roster of the National Football League. And then ten times over. She thought that was a little weird herself.

Zarla had grown up the last few years without her mother's influence, for Earth was the place where the Empire's iron will had broken down. Instead of conquering that world as they'd done to so many others, the many fragmented voices inside the Imperial Senate had endlessly debated the risks of open conflict with the Enlightenment and fears of Galen intervention. That hesitancy, and the resulting subterfuge that characterized the Near Earth mission, had led to her mother's death only months after Zarla's 18th birthday. She hadn't celebrated a birthday since.

It wasn't long after her mother's death when her father learned that the Velorian shapechanger named Cat had been her assassin. It took him several long months after that to convince Command to send the first Destroyer to Earth. The Velorian doppelganger had died during the resulting fight, but unfortunately, so had the secrecy surrounding the Destroyer's abilities. Command began an investigation and the stink landed on her father for pursuing his personal agenda of revenge. He'd quickly been recalled to Aria, and from there, sent to this desolate asteroid colony, supposedly as punishment.

In reality, it was exactly the assignment he'd wanted. A safe place for Zarla to grow up, free of the fight between Velorian and Arion. He knew Zarla saw it otherwise… she talked about Corrididor as if it were a prison. The only consolation he could offer her were the dozens of Arion classmates at the VU, all virtual of course, and a couple of real human girlfriends, neither of whom had a hint that he was Arion military. Or that Zarla was what the Empire called a Kella'prime.

Zarla had grown up gentle and caring, traits that few humans would expect of an Arion. The Enlightenment propaganda had worked overtime to depict Arions as bloodthirsty brutes, intent on the death of anyone human or Velorian. That same propaganda worked to Zarla and her father's favor by allowing her to pass for human, despite her obvious genetic gifts. Women’s hearts went out to Daglon for raising his beautiful daughter alone, a top student no less. Young men connived ways to meet her, but Zarla was always too aloof to be caught.

 After her mother’s violent death, Zarla’s one goal in life had become that of caring for the sick and injured. To be a Healer. The very last thing she wanted was to become a Fal'Allure operative like her mother or a soldier like her father. She’d begun to trade secret messages with a group of fellow students on Aria who were part of Paix, an underground peace group that wanted to put an end to conquest and war.

Unfortunately, now that the Velorian had arrived on Corrididor, her father had slipped back into his old role as a soldier. He was pacing around the room, spouting plans and counterplans. "We simply cannot allow the Pale to stay here," was the gist of it.

Zarla shrugged. "Won't her own people come and retrieve her? I thought only Protectors were allowed to live off of Velor."

"She's worked some deal with Daniels, convincing him that she has to be here to continuously monitor and repair the damaged reactor for the next ten years. Apparently Velor has agreed."

"So, you’re saying we have to get rid of her ourselves, is that it?"

"Exactly,” he said with a loud snap of his fingers, “and we have to do it in a way that will keep our secrets intact." He paused to stared into Zarla's eyes, a sudden look of wild genius in his face. "What's the one thing that everyone knows about Vels?"

Zarla shrugged again. "Their strength?"

"Of course. But think beyond that."

"Their oversized libidos?" she snickered.

"Yes!" he said loudly. "We've all seen those exploitive holo shows, the soap operas that make them look like oversexed Lolas. And then there are those jokes about what would happen if a man had sex with one of them. How they'd fuck a man to death."

Zarla's skin turned darker. She wasn’t used to hearing her father talk like this. But she knew what he was referring to. She and her friend Carla had watched some pornos that she’d sneaked from her father’s library, and one of them had been a reenactment of a fight between an Arion and a Velorian. She’d been excited and horrified at the same time as she watched the Velorian actress subdue her male opponent in the most sexual of ways.

That wasn’t the kind of sex she dreamed about. Her dreams were filled instead with fragrant flowers and soft lights and delicate touches. Murmured words of love, not grunts and screams.

"What I need you to do is to make one of those jokes come true, Zarla, and lay the blame on the Velorian."

Zarla gasped open-mouthed at her father, wondering for a moment if he could read her darkest thoughts. "What… what did you say?" she asked in a shocked voice.

Daglon Sophrant paused to stare at his daughter, his eyes turning a colder shade of blue. His heart felt frozen as his long-suppressed rage against anyone Velorian filled his veins again, his duty as an Arion officer overriding even the compassion he felt for his daughter. He listened to his own voice as if it were a stranger's. "Approach one of the men the Velorian is working with and seduce him, then kill him in a way that everyone will assume was due to the Velorian's sexual athletics."

"Father! I won't... I mean, I can't..."

"Of course you can, Zarla. Your genetic donor was from a warrior clan, and you are your mother’s daughter," Daglon said in the crisp, commanding tones of a soldier of Aria. "You are also my daughter. It is time to remember your heritage."

Zarla burst into tears and fled the room, running from the horror she’d worked so hard to forget.


Chapter Ten

Zarla lay in her bed late that night, staring at the ceiling, her body seething with anger. She'd returned to argue with her father for hours, but he'd talked to her like a stranger. She hated the changes that had come over him since the Velorian had arrived.

All their long talks about escaping the spiraling violence between Empire and Enlightenment seemed like a lie now. As soon as he was faced with one of the enemy, he’d fallen back into a blind rage, his thoughts only of attack.

She searched her own thoughts, trying to understand what drove this side of her father. Was he still driven out of a sense of love lost? Nothing else made any sense, for he'd wanted to escape the violence of the Empire as much as she had.

She tried to sleep, but her dreams became nightmares. In them, she felt her own heart growing as cold as her father’s, even as her eyes blazed forth with enough power to vaporize anything in her path. She raged in her dream, killing everyone, all the while blaming the coldness of her heart on the Velorian. If only she hadn’t come.

Her anger faded as she woke up. Rising, she was filled with doubt, and wondered if her lack of desire for revenge meant that her love for her mother had faded?  Was that a failing of hers, or just part of the process of moving on? Had her loyalty for her own people faded as well?

No, she thought determinedly as she remembered the way her father had talked about how the Empire was trying to save humanity. She couldn't accept that. She wouldn’t. The Empire might behave excessively at times, but a strong defense and law and order were the only ways to keep humanity united. Every Arion knew that. The Velorians were agents of chaos, spreading concepts of free will and self-determination that were no more than blonde excuses for anarchy.

Her doubts quickly crystallized into her usual determination to help fix whatever was wrong, and by the time the artificial sun came on, sending long, slanting shafts of reddish-blue light through her window, she knew she was going to fulfill her father's request. As much as she wished it otherwise, she knew she had to approach this terrible task as she'd approached everything else in her life. She would simply do it better than anyone else could.

She swung her long legs over the side of the bed and reached for her PersComp. Her father had given her the names of two men, both engineers at the power station. She studied their bios and pictures, and finally decided that her target was going to be Alex Cordon. She'd had an unpleasant run in with him a year ago when she was trying to organize a field trip to the power station. She smiled ironically to herself, realizing that he was now going to pay for pissing off an Arion. That uncharacteristic thought scared her, sobering her as well.  She had always considered arrogance as one of the original sins.

Unfortunately, thinking too much made it all that much harder to get her head into the whole assassin thing. Her only consolation was that she could go back to her studies as soon as the Velorian was gone. Perhaps she could forget it had even happened. Put up a mental block or something. Her mother had always done that.

She began rummaging through her closet until she found a brown leather skirt that looked right for the situation, the waist low and hem teasingly short. She tried on a button-up white and red-striped top that left a touch of her midriff bare. The white fabric was translucent in Arion fashion. The outfit had belonged to her mother, and it was distinctly more provocative than her usual jeans and t-shirt attire. It would work.

She put on some music and danced barefoot across her bedroom as she brushed her hair out, the glowing highlights of red and brown the giveaways that marked her as being a Kella'Prime. Her family’s genetics were Betan, but both her parents had been enhanced by modified retrovirus from a donor Prime before she was conceived. Her conception had further been in-vitro, and it was said that there were some Galen genes in the mix, accounting for the lighter hair.

She brushed her hair over one eye and stared at herself in the mirror, deciding that she looked both sexy enough and dangerous enough in this outfit to do the job. Walking out of her bedroom, she flipped herself over the railing that circled the living area of their home and landed catlike on the marble floor three stories below.

Daglon looked up and smiled at his daughter as he poured a cup of Andros tea. He whistled appreciatively. "You look just like your mother did when she was your age, honey."

Despite the horrors that this day would most likely bring her, that thought made Zarla feel strangely proud. "I guess blood is thicker than politics after all, father."

Daglon grinned as he watched his daughter look up Alex's number in her PersComp. She punched him up on the holo-vid. He stepped out of the field of view as the speaker buzzed, and a life-sized image of Alex Cordon appeared in the corner of the kitchen. He looked as real as if he was truly standing there, as Zarla did in his home.

"Zarla Sophrant? I'm surprised you're calling." Alex wasn't one for pleasantries, although the way his eyes flicked up and down her body said he was appreciative of her outfit.

She forced herself to smile warmly. "I need your help, Alex. I've got a project at school dealing with the physiological affects of radioactive suppression of white blood cells, and I know you nuclear engineers have a lot of training in that area."

He didn't return her smile. "Not a good time, Zarla. We've had a major malfunction at the station."

"I gathered, what with the Vel here."

"She's an idiot," he frowned. "But Calen thinks she can keep control of the core. If not, we're all going to have to abandon this place in a few more days."

Zarla blinked. She hadn't heard anything that suggested the situation was that dire. "I only need a few minutes to interview you. Can you meet me near the ventilation portal over by Strangelove's. Number 93 I think it is."

Alex looked at her strangely. Everyone knew about Portal 93. It was the place kids went to make out. No surveillance cameras were focused in that area. "That's on my way to work. And yeah, 93 is closest to Strange's."

Zarla tossed her head, her hair flowing silkily as she smiled suggestively. "I'll make it worth your while, Alex. I have to get this done by tonight or I'm going to fail. You're my only hope. I'll do anything to get through this class."

His eyebrow raised for a brief second, but his expression otherwise remained unchanged as he glanced down at the clock. Then he consulted his PersComp. "O.K. I can give you a half hour. No more."

"Thanks, Alex," she said sweetly. "And hey, maybe if we have to evacuate, we could travel together in one of those two-person pods."

He looked blankly at her as he pushed the button to end his transmission.

"He's a bit stiff, isn't he," Daglon observed from his corner of the kitchen.

"He's an asshole," Zarla said sourly while spinning around on her heel. "Which is why I chose him. No loss if he exits the ranks of the living."

He smiled. "Thinking like an Arion warrior already, aren't you?"

Zarla gave her father a withering glance as she grabbed her bag and walked toward out the door.


Chapter Eleven

The moving walkway from the commercial section to the portals carried Zarla at breakneck speed.

"Thinking like an Arion warrior," she said under her breath, her father's words almost causing her to lose her will. She was determined that she would become a Healer, not a killer. Or would she? A worrisome thought nagged at her. Wasn't there supposed to be some kind of Rites when a warrior completed their first kill? A new middle name added. Zarla fal Sophrant. The middle name being the Arion word for mortality. She cursed under her breath. Whatever happened this day, she was determined that she’d never carry that name.

She arrived at Portal 93 well ahead of Alex. Taking out a small vial of Primal pheromones that she'd found in her mother's things years ago, she held her breath as she undid half the buttons of her top and dabbed some of the flowery, honey-scented oil between her breasts. When she took her next breath, the warmth of her bosom seemed to fill the air around her with an invisible cloud of pure desire, the honey and wildflower scent sending a wild flurry of tingles through her body like an electric shock. She desperately hoped they would work well enough on Alex to simplify her Fal'Allure -- the so-called Death during Seduction. Fal'Allure had been her mother’s stock in trade, as it was for most female Arion warriors.

She felt warm and tingly and more than a bit turned on as she stood with her back against the rock wall, watching Alex step off the tube to walk her way. Her nipples started to burn as she inhaled more of the pheromone, tenting the translucent fabric of her top. She desperately hoped that her look, not to mention her scent, would have the right effect on the young engineer. She had a few sentences of sweet talk prepared, but after that, she couldn’t think of anything she wanted to say to him.

"So, what is it you needed again?" Alex asked arrogantly as he walked over to face her, his disdain for those less academically accomplished, let alone female, clear in his words.

Zarla ignored his attitude as she watched his eyes flitting up and down her body, pausing to stare at breasts and nipples that were too firm for someone merely human. But he was arrogant and he was a human male, and that made him weak and susceptible to her borrowed pheromones. He would think her excitement was his doing.

She stepped closer, reaching her hand out to rest her fingers gently on his arm, hoping he’d catch a whiff of the scent. "Just what I've wanted every day since we met last year, Alex. You impressed me, especially the way you didn't need anyone to help you, no matter how difficult the challenge. The way you were so strong, so independent, so smart."'

"I don't understa..."

"Sure you do," she purred. "It's so sexy when a man is strong that way. Other men become shy, daunted by my beauty, desiring my body, but too intimidated to even talk to me. But you act as if you don’t care. That makes you a challenge. More than any man on Corrididor, I want you." She cringed as the lies flowed so easily from her lips.

"But we didn't get along at all," Alex said, a funny smile twisting his face. "I treated you like shit. And that turns you on?"

"More than you can imagine," she breathed.

Alex smiled broadly now, sensing that his very private dream of finding a woman who truly appreciated his brilliance had finally come true. A woman who knew that intelligence and confidence were the sexiest traits any man could possess. The softness of silly emotions was a crutch that lesser men used to prop up their fragile intellects. He had no use for them. "You are very beautiful, Zarla. I've long thought that you were the one woman here who was worthy of me."

"Then we have both suppressed our feelings too long," she said sexily, moving closer, the warmth of her body radiating her borrowed scent. "I’ve saved myself all this time for you. So we can finally say and do what we've always wanted to."

"Right here? Now?" His arrogant smile faded slightly as a part of his mind reminded him of his inexperience. Women had always pushed him away. He ignored that misplaced doubt as yet another thought crossed his mind: would he be as naturally brilliant in sex as he was in engineering?

Zarla licked her lips and leaned close, brushing her hair softly across his cheek, long hair falling over his shoulder, her warm, fragrant breath teasing his lips.

His mouth was foul with morning breath, the smell making her want to throw up. She prayed that her borrowed pheromones would start working on him -- and soon. She wasn’t sure she’d have the will power to actually kiss him. "Yes, Alex. Right here. I want to share something with you that I have given to no other man. "

His confidence rushed back to pump up his usual arrogance. Convinced by her admission of virginity, he knew now that she would not judge him wanting. It was only this location that bothered him. Sex belonged in a bed. "I'm not so sure... someone could come and..."

“And nothing,” Zarla purred as she ran her fingers through his hair, trying to emulate the loving touches she'd seen on the holos. For she truly was the virgin she admitted to being.

He inhaled deeply, and his eyes opened wide as the alien chemistry finally found its way to his center. He seemingly came unglued, wrapping his arms around and kissing her fiercely, holding her tightly enough to have bruised an ordinary woman. His heart was pounding so loudly that she could hear the surge of blood in his veins. He reached down and crudely tore her top the rest of the way open. She gasped, turned on despite herself by his aggressiveness, and by the way his eyes opened wide in wonder as he stared down at her.

Finally, the damned pheromones were working!

She began to draw upon the exercises she'd worked so hard at years before. When she was 16, her mother had started her on a training program that had, at first, seemed impossibly embarrassing... the art of loving. More specifically, the art of loving a fragile human male. It was something any Supremis could learn, her mother had said, but not without practice. The training involved self-hypnosis and a number of fruits and vegetables. More than a few tubers had subsequently been sacrificed to Zarla's training, but her mother had insisted she get it right. She said that living on Earth, with her only friends humans, would someday require such a skill.

Zarla was grateful now for her mother's foresight, for even if this wasn't Earth, Alex was human enough. She deepened her own kisses, her tongue finding the warmth of his, sending a riot of tingles through both their bodies. His lack of hygiene no longer seemed important as she intensified her own excitement by reaching down to undo his belt, then quickly unzipped his pants in one smooth movement. She'd never undressed a man before, but it felt strangely natural. She found his growing erection, and her fingers closing tightly around him to elicit a strangled groan of pleasure from deep in his throat.

Her first thought was that he was terribly small. It took her a moment to realize that the porn she and her girlfriends had giggled over had featured exceptional men. Enhanced ones probably, given that genetic manipulation had first been employed to fulfill the expansive dreams of men back in the second decade of 21st century Earth. All that spam email and those late-night infomercials had finally lived up to their promise. Unfortunately, Alex hadn't been a buyer. Still, his pulse throbbed intriguingly in her hand, hot and demanding, and his passionate kisses sent a strange thrill coursing through her body.

She tightened her grip further, moving past human strength, and Alex's gasping moans took on a sharper edge of pain. She quickly realized her mistake, and relaxed her hand, moving it gently along his length. She hiked her already short skirt up with her other hand before leaping upward to wrap her legs around his hips, letting him support her weight. She pushed his head down into her dramatic cleavage and encouraged him to breathe deeply of her borrowed scent.

Alex staggered under her unexpected weight and nearly lost his balance. She leaned back to encourage him to slam her back up against the jagged rock wall. Growling feral-like as her Arion desires grew, her body tingling wildly in response to his passion, an irresistible need began to grow inside her, making her very wet, creating an aching desire to feel him inside her. Remembering her training, she reaching out to dig her fingers into cracks in the rock wall, supporting her own weight as she carefully directed her strength away from him. Imagining that she was as soft and delicate as a human girl, she tried to lower herself over him. Frustratingly, he bent and couldn't enter her tightness. She reached down with one hand to hold his erection, larger now, and guided him more accurately as she closed her eyes and imagined him inside her. Hoisting herself higher with her other hand, she traced her kisses wildly across his face, finding his lips yet again, hoping to lose herself in passion.

It still wasn't good enough.

Desperate now, she imagined that Alex was one of her classmates, particularly that cute guy with the curly hair on Aria who shared her class. That worked, sending a further gush of wetness and a riot of indescribable tingling desire through her body. She opened her thighs wide, so wet and slippery now, and finally felt him slipping past the guardians of her virginity.

"Oh, yeah, baby..." Alex gasped as he thrust himself upward, impaling her against the rock wall with all his strength, burying himself in her slippery warmth. Her pheromones had energized his body, invoking an adrenal response that made him pant and groan like a mating gorilla as he began thrusting into her hard enough to have injured an ordinary girl. His desire was primal, so raw and so hot that what was left of his hostility toward her turned into a desire to subdue her passion with the power of his own. To lord his male power over her.

Zarla cried out in genuine passion as she discovered for the first time the indescribable pleasures of a man's loving. Of feeling his passion inside herself.

Between her rush of unexpected desire and her very physical seduction, not to mention her pheromones, Alex lost it in seconds. He cried out hoarsely and threw himself against her a last time, his body seemingly exploding from inside out.

His hoarse shout of release was clamped off in mid-stream as Zarla seized that moment to tighten her legs around him with incredible strength, her heels digging into his backside as she instinctively wanted more from him than he could give.

Shocked by her incredible strength, Alex cried out as a wave of pain radiated upward from where her protruding pubic bone ground into the sensitive flesh just above his erection, her labia closing tightly around his base to keep him rock hard. The unexpected pressure sent his blood pressure soaring, threatening to blow the top of his head off, and a wave of panic suddenly filled him as he instinctually realized that something was horribly wrong.

No girl could be this strong!

He screamed and tore at Zarla’s hair and flesh as her body tightened even more painfully around his, making him feel as if it was caught in one of the rock crushers down on level 12.  He smashed his forehead against hers and began to punch at her, part of his brain instinctively realizing, impossibly, that he was engaged in a fight for his life.He cursed as he saw it all too clearly now.

Her crystalline eyes should have been a giveaway. If not that, then the dangerous beauty that came from her perfect fitness and flawless skin.

He'd let himself get drawn into a fight with a Supremis!

Gasping in pain, he felt her arms and legs constricting around him like steel bands, and in that horrible moment of perfect awareness, he knew he was going to die.

Zarla pushed her own passion forward even as Alex's passion turned to terror, but frustratingly, she felt her desires retreating as she tasted the sourness of his fear, a stench of panic rising from his sweaty skin. She was suddenly filled with anger, not at Alex, but at the Velorian. She was the one who was making her feel this way, making her betray a Healer's vow to do no harm. Her anger sent the warrior impulses encoded in her genes racing, filling her with hateful desire, her thoughts and emotions swirling from one extreme to another. Most of all, she was disgusted to feel his erection softening inside her, and something clicked in her head, an impulse as cruel as that of a cat playing with a doomed mouse. She suddenly wanted to savor the sensation of killing this man, of pouring all her anger into his death.

Slowly and deliberately, she began to steadily and inexorably tighten her arms and legs. The soft, delicate curves of her girlish body turned to striated muscles, even the microscopic muscles in her skin contracting to make her breasts as hard as steel, and her nipples into diamond spears. She stared into his terrified eyes as she sensed the mortal fear that filled his soul as he struggled futilely against her fantastic strength. She hugged him ever tighter, the curve of her protruding breasts bending his ribs apart as his lungs emptied in a final gasping scream of futility.

She screamed for both of them now as she tightened her most powerful muscles, her long legs wrapped around him python-like, and the satisfying wet, crunching sound of his shattering pelvis made her smile wickedly. She proudly thrust her chest forward, and was rewarded with the brittle snap of his ribs reverberating through the drum tightness of her chest.  She held him to her until she felt his shoulder blades pulverizing, trapped between her breasts and her firm grip on his shoulder blades. Caught in her embrace of steel, his remaining ribs collapsed like a baby bird in a child's cruel grip. His heart fluttered for a few long seconds, and then fell terrifyingly still.

Unfortunately, the rush of passion that had blinded Zarla to the consequences of her mayhem began to fade with his heartbeat. She blinked her eyes wide-open, surfacing from the depths of her misplaced desires, only to be horrified as she felt Alex's shattered bones grinding inside his body. Suddenly nauseous, she pushed his body away so hard that it splattered bloodily against the inner wall of the portal. The sight of his crushed and torn flesh became too much for her, and she held her hand over her mouth as she turned to run through a line of boulders along the wall of the cavern.

She paused after a few steps to vomit, her stomach turning itself inside out as she fell to her knees. When the gagging subsided, she struggled back to her feet, blinded by her tears, running away to escape the horrible shame of having killed such a helpless creature.


Chapter Twelve

Daglon watched his daughter run away, his heart in his throat, a part of him so proud that she’d risen to the necessary demand of killing the human, even as another part of him was sad that he'd forced her to betray her ideals.

Unlike the sexy kinkiness of watching his wife's slow, erotic destruction of the men that Command had sanctioned, a kinkiness that turned into athletic passion as he later proved to her that he could not be injured the same way, he took no pleasure in Zarla's distress. He knew what she needed to dampen the fires of passion and find her center again, but as he was the only man with the power to do so, and he was her father, she would have to find her peace another way.

It had been so much simpler on Earth. There they had been fighting a war, the boundaries clearly established. He'd worked as a drug dealer in addition to his scouting job, encouraging his wife, Arla, and her friends to slip deeply into the spiral of sex and drugs that followed many models around on Earth. Knowing that no drug could truly addict a Kella'prime or harm her physically, even though Arla became intoxicated like the other women, he helped his wife draw in the older men, men with more money and power than good sense, as they pursued the beautiful, young women who were hungry for their slice of the good life.

He lubricated Arla's debauchery with his illegal drugs, and in so doing, his wife gained useful contacts in the entertainment industry and in Washington itself. Nearly everyone who was anyone had exploited his wife’s body between the white sheets of five-star hotels. That part of her life had quickly become a swirl of seduction and assassination, both of them conducted in the same beds. A model, a whore, sometimes his wife, but always, an agent of the Empire.

Yet for all of that, Arla had always been able to separate herself from that world. Coming home, sometimes only minutes after a lethal seduction, she'd been a caring mother to Zarla. In their friends; eyes, Arla and Daglon were a caring couple raising their beautiful daughter in the upper middle class suburbs of Atlanta.

It was so different now, living on this asteroid and trying to raise Zarla alone. His daughter was inexperienced and naive, a compassionate girl, yet she'd done her job competently enough today. Daglon’s only regret was that she'd briefly let the young engineer take the initiative. He'd found that very uncomfortable to watch as a father. Fortunately, Zarla had quickly regained control to dispatch him with Arion efficiency.

For not the first time, Daglon regretted ever agreeing to undergo the enhancement program with Arla. The two of them had been so naive when they were approached by the scientists from GenTech Command. But at first, the StarChild program had sounded like a dream come true.

He and Arla would be enhanced by a female Prime, giving them ten times their current physical abilities. Their children would subsequently be born to even greater power, their strength intermediate between a lowly Betan and a mighty Prime. Even more remarkably, assuming Kella'prime offspring from the same generation married each other, the third generation of such racial purity would become the physical equals of the original Primes.

If that same selective breeding were to be carried out on a global scale, then the distinction between Prime and Betan would evaporate and all Arions would be united as equals. Betans had long embraced that dream, going back over two hundred years to the origin of the Kella’prime program. Yet strictly controlled under penalty of death, it was only in the last twenty years that such enhancement had become a reality for thousands of families.

But now he wasn't so sure it wasn't a nightmare is disguise. He had just used his daughter to start the process of ridding Corrididor of the Velorian, an admirable enough task, but where would it end? Clearly if he was willing to use his own daughter this way, the Empire would have even more terrible tasks for her. The Empire would someday have a vast army of such warriors who would conquer and kill anyone who did not submit to the Emperor's rule.

Daglon felt the seeds of self-doubt growing in his heart, twisting the long-held dream of Betan destiny into another horror, once again orchestrated by the evil Primes.