|Ordinary Velorians -
Calloway stood alone in front of the airlock twelve hours later. Traffic Control had given him a heads-up about an object heading their way without a transponder or flight plan. It didn't take a genius to know who was coming. Professional courtesy if nothing else demanded that he meet her. One cop to another.
The lock cycled and opened to reveal a tall, blonde woman dressed in a slightly torn black and red top and diamond studded bracelets.
Her blue eyes focused on his, glowing so clear and bright that he felt as if they were boring through him. “My name is Shak'la. I understand you have a rogue B-class causing trouble here.”
He stared at her, unable to speak for a moment. He'd thought Vera was impressive, but this woman was in another league entirely, every millimeter of her body seemingly optimized for beauty. Where Vera had hard muscles and tight curves, this woman's body flowed like a midnight fantasy, every curve smooth and rounded, yet with skin stretched over steel.
He remembered Cher'ee from his time on Riegel Five, and knew, of course, that she was one of the fabled Protectors of Velor, and that she was an order of magnitude more powerful than Vera in every way.
“The B-class?” she asked again.
“Not… not a problem,” he said on the second try. “Turns out we actually had an Arion problem.”
She shook her blonde tresses. “Corrididor is free of the dark-hairs. I read the briefing coming in.”
“Bad data,” Calloway said simply, realizing as he did that she was still standing in the airlock, cold vapor billowing up around her. "The Arion was a Kella’prime with a Tset’Lar bloodline.”
Shak'la’s eyes narrowed. “Tset? They're all dead. And what’s a Kella’prime supposed to be?”
He couldn’t help but smile. He wasn't the only one who couldn’t get information from Velor. “It’s a long story. But first, we have a funeral to attend. Follow me.”
Calen, Vera, Calloway and Daglon, Zarla’s father, watched as the same scow that Vera and Calen had been locked into was nudged out the docking bay. The small rocket at its rear fired brightly and it accelerated away from the asteroid. Daglon was repeating a poem under his breath, speaking in Arion. Despite the occasion, an Arion funeral, a tear formed in the corner of Vera's eye. If not for the girl's sacrifice, she knew she would have been killed trying to shut down the reactor.
Zarla’s body was forever entombed inside the reactor, her invulnerable flesh fused with the metal to seal the fissure for good. Vera had verified that her heart had stopped. She was as dead as an energy-infused Supremis could be. While she might be revivable, her father had agreed that removing her body would threaten the asteroid. There was no stronger way to reinforce the reactor’s weak spot than with her flesh.
Vera had collected some of the escaped plutonium from the reactor, three kilograms, and Shak'la had fashioned it into a crude nuclear device. Like the Nordics of long ago, she was the maiden who'd agreed to ride with the fallen warrior to Valhalla, immolated in the same flames. She stood inside the scow, holding a glowing chunk of plutonium in each hand.
The hastily arranged funeral was the closest thing to an Arion ceremony that they could arrange. Like the Nordics they'd descended from, they sent their warriors on to the next world in a blaze of fire. In this case, they were going to immolate the books and papers of her medical training instead of her body. The cherished possessions of her life.
Calen waited until the scow was five miles away, and then looked from face to face, seeing the quiet nods. He turned back to the screen and pushed a button, signaling Shak'la. She smashed her hands together with all the power of a Protector, and the blinding light of an artificial sun blazed forth, vaporized the scow and the last possessions of the heroine who’d been named, Zarla Sophrant.
The funeral had been simple and brief, for a warrior’s remembrance of fallen comrades wasn’t appropriate here, nor were the telling of tales for which Arion funerals were famous. Instead, the five of them turned and went their separate ways. Daglon to his quarters to write more on his memoirs. He owed at least that much to Calloway, who was still trying to learn more from him about the Kella'primes. Calloway headed back toward the airlock to welcome Shak'la back inside after she'd cooled down a bit. Vera and Calen walked off hand in hand.
“I guess everyone is capable of being a hero under the right circumstances,” Vera marveled. She was dressed in the same type of outfit she'd arrived wearing. “She could have killed me both times we met, but she didn’t. Instead, she saved my life.”
“All our lives. She must have had her donor’s great-grandmother’s heart,” Calen added. “But who’d have expected that from an Arion? The donor’s grandmother a Tset no less.”
"Had to be the Galen part."
"Whatever," Vera shrugged. "Lets go welcome our hot chick back."
“Not much of a funeral, was it?" Shak'la offered as she stepped out of the decontamination chamber a half hour later. "From everything you told me, she deserved better.”
“Except for the nuke. We don’t do that every day.” He looked up at Shak'la as she got dressed. She was completely unconscious of her nudity. “So how do you guys say goodbye to fallen friends on Velor? Another Protector.”
“A series of toasts, with everyone telling their favorite story about the fallen one.”
“That’s it? No blaze of glory?”
Shak'la smiled. “A different kind of glory. We celebrate the loss of a loved one by making more love. The joining of hearts and bodies of the funeral party for two days, all of us celebrating the joy of life in the face of death.”
Vera smiled as she hugged Calen's arm. "Sounds like fun. You got anything more important to do the next couple of days, my friend?"
"You're kidding? Me? You guys?"
"Calloway too. Daniels," Vera laughed as she hooked her arm through Shak'la's. "And a few of the supervisors we met in that bar. We're pretty hot chicks."
Calen just stared at the two of them. "But what about that girl of steel thing?'
Vera laughed as she pulled some long gold chains from her bag. "Seems as if Daglon was traveling well equipped. These were restraints, I presume, weapons even, although I think we'll find a less hostile use."
"I've asked Calloway to prepare a special dinner for us first," Shak'la smiled. "You're going to need your strength."
"But first, you have to teach me the trick," Vera said to Shak'la as she dragged her down a side hallway. "That self-hypnosis super-duper control thing."
Shak'la smirked. "Teaching a B-class one of a Protector's arts? If they ever found out back on Velor, I'd be busted for sure."
Calloway sat in his office later that afternoon, finishing filing his reports. There'd be hell to pay if his old boss read them, but he'd decided to bury the case against Daglon. The only good news was that nobody gave a damn what happened on Corrididor.
He locked his desk and turned around, only to see Shak'la standing behind him, her eyes bright and blue, blonde hair everywhere. She was dressed in a black bustier that was unbuttoned across her abs, and was wearing a gold chain with a cross, and a gold ring. The gold chain sparkled as she moved, evidence of the incredible energies that were being channeled inside her body.
"Closing the case that easily, huh?" she said, her eyes still bright enough to look through the top of his desk to study the documents he'd just completed. "Are you going to let the Arion stay on Corrididor?"
"He wants to," Calloway said cautiously, not sure of Shak'la's reaction. She was a Velorian official. She could over-rule him. "He wants to stay close to his daughter, convinced she's still alive."
"Inside the hell of that trashed out reactor? I don't think even I could survive in there for long?"
"Spoken like a true goddess," he winked at her, hoping to lighten the mood.
She brushed the hair from her face and slid into the chair next to him, her body moving so slinkily. "So, what's on your mind, Detective?"
"Nothing really." He paused. "Well, maybe this whole goddess thing. The way people talk about you Protectors."
"We aren't that different."
Calloway laughed. "And some stars are cool, right?"
That drew a smile from Shak'la. "O.K, I'll grant you that we've been kind of rescaled."
"That's one way to put it. I'm just interested in talking to you, no bullshit, no secrets. There was a visiting Protector when I lived on Riegel Five, Cher'ee, but I never got to know her."
"I know her," Shak'la nodded. "She's been working with this rogue P1 who surfaced on Kelsor after we normalized relations. Some kind of deep wormhole research. Very hush-hush."
"With Alisa? Shit, I haven't thought of her in years. She's the daughter of the Velorian ambassador who was stationed on Riegel Five during most of my assignment. Her mother was devastated when she didn't show up for her Rites."
"Small universe, isn't it?"
"Well, at least we have one thing in common," Calloway hazarded. "We're both in the same business. You know, keeping the peace, standing between the bad guys and the citizens, keeping them safe."
"That's true. Except I pretty much only deal with Primes."
"Which is amazing enough. I've seen what those bastards can do. Slag out a battle cruiser with their fists."
She leaned her head back and brushed her hands through her long hair, her arms displaying more than a hint of hard muscle. "That's why I've got the genes I've got. I'm a chick who's kind of hard to slag."
"Yup, one of Velor's heavy hitters, especially now that the Saray'en went the way of the Tsets. We're back to where we were a couple of decades ago."
"Except for your girl down in the reactor. Seems as if the Arion gene pool is still surfacing some special talents now and again. That scares the hell out of me."
"Never thought I'd hear that. A Protector scared?"
"Inside, I'm as human as you are. The Arions are pretty good at killing people like me."
"Yeah, I guess. Pretty good at killing everyone. Hard to see that in your case, though. Especially after reading all that folklore and outrageous fantasy about you guys."
"Outrageous is in the genes, I guess. That's why I'm wearing this necklace. To tone things down a bit."
Calloway didn't want to go there. Not just yet. "She was going to be a Healer. The Arion girl. Did you know that?"
Shak'la shook her head. "Just as well I didn't meet her. One of us would have died, and she sounded like a decent type. For an Arion."
"That's the same thing she said to Vera. Something about some peace movement she's part of. It seems the war has been going on for so long that its in the genes. When you guys meet a Prime, everything goes into maximum overdrive."
"Genetics again. But only in combat. Otherwise, we can mellow out." She smiled, fingering her gold necklace.
His eyes followed her fingers as they brushed across her perfectly tanned, flawless skin. He struggled not to stare, his thoughts still unbalanced by just having her sitting next to him. She was so beautiful and so strong. A killing machine, an assassin, but also a loving woman, passionate and warm, sharing her sexuality freely. The ultimate warrior for sure, but also a kind of cop, fighting for freedom of self-determination, the mantra of all Protectors.
The ridiculous concept of one person being all those things at the same time was mind-boggling. Even stranger was a Protector's skill at combining sex with lethal combat, certainly not loving, but fucking and fighting, a contest that would end with the death of the weaker combatant. Shak'la looked far too pretty to have ever been part of any of that.
"But you've taken out your share of Arions?"
"How, if you don't mind my asking?"
"Three men with what the Arions call Fal'Allure," she replied flatly. "Two others in hand-to-hand combat. Females."
"No shit! Fal'Allure. That seems to be the source of so much of the fantasy that surrounds you guys."
"Who says it's fantasy?"
"Fucking someone to death?" Calloway laughed. "I'm supposed to believe that?"
Her eyes narrowed. "I could show you," she said darkly.
Calloway swallowed hard, realizing he'd pissed her off. "I'm sorry, it sounded too much like the exploitive porn that floats around the Net."
"Do you want to know the truth?"
Calloway nodded and leaned closer to her.
"I'll show you. After dinner."
Dinner was an elegant affair, with Vera and Shak'la dressed in long gowns that made them look even more like goddesses. Calloway and Shak'la sat together, chatting like best friends. Vera and Calen couldn't keep their hands off each other. Even Daglon showed up, which strangely didn't ruin the mood. The air was charged with the invigorating scent that seems to surround Velorians when they're having a good time.
Dessert ended when a dozen restaurant goers joined them at a replica of an old-fashioned piano which one of the waiters could play. Singing the vaporous love songs of Velor, and some old Terran favorites which gradually turned bawdy, they even indulged Daglon with an Arion song that no one else appreciated.
Calloway looked around at the revelers and smiled, amazed that this eclectic mix of humans, Arions and Velorians could enjoy themselves this way. Beneath all the grittiness and hard living of Corrididor, there truly was magic here. A lonely rock hurtling through space, bent on its own destruction, but also a place where cultures could come together. He laughed, knowing what Daniels would think of that thought. Their tough GM had only one interest. Digging ore. All the rest was fluff.
Shak'la saw the softness in his eyes, and reached out to take his hand, excusing herself to lead him toward the door. More than one pair of eyes followed them, achingly envious of his bedmate for the night.
Vera had to show off a bit, being that she wasn't wearing gold like Shak'la was. She tossed Calen over her shoulder and flew from the room, leaving behind a small tornado of napkins and flower petals.
Daglon smiled at the lovely raven-haired lady standing on the other side of the piano. The women with the beautiful voice and green eyes. She returned his smile.
Behind the locked door of his apartment, Calen smiled and kneeled on the floor between Vera's legs, gently resting his hands on the silken steel of her thighs. She’d worn a long skirt to dinner, the sides slit up to her waist in Velorian fashion, and the brief glimpses of her long legs had tantalized him all evening with their beauty and power. Power that was now his to enjoy.
He kissed her knees, tracing his lips ever so slowly upward between her thighs, his hands tracing the tight contours of her fabulous muscles, following those curves beneath her skirt, his kisses following to elicit a gasp of pleasure from her. Her skin felt so soft, yet stretched so tightly over Velorian steel.
“Don't you… need that gold,” he asked as he lifted his eyes from beneath her skirt.
She smiled as she slipped down to sit at the foot of the bed with him, kissing him so gently. “No. Not the first time. I want you to feel me the way I am. Empowered.” What she didn't say was that Shak'la's crash course in self-hypnosis had taught her the basics of how Protectors could enjoy relations with ordinary humans... without gold if necessary.
They kissed for a long time at the foot of the bed, her lips so soft, her body so warm and fragrant, her soft, blonde hair falling over him, encouraging him to explore the uniqueness that made her Velorian. She might be a woman of steel in most ways, impossible and inviolate in other men’s eyes, but she'd made it clear that she was his lover tonight. More than a lover, she was a goddess of passion, the superhuman steel that defined her power momentarily gentled beneath silky skin.
He slowly undressed her, worshipping every revealed curve of her body with his kisses, savoring her strength, her perfection, tracing his kisses down the wonder of her tattoos, ever lower, following the erotic pathways which inevitably ended at her womanhood. She spread her legs wide as he gently parted her with his tongue, thrilling to her compliance as he discovered that hooded button of pleasure, larger than human, yet with its tingling hardness undisguised.
Her breathing grew fast now, her moans soft and long, punctuated by tiny squeaks, her body stiffening until she reached down to lift his head. “No, not me… not yet,” she gasped. “I want to love you, too.”
He followed her cue, and lifted her in his arms to lay her on his bed, amazed that she felt so light. Despite her immense strength, she felt as soft and willing as any woman he’d known. And so many times more beautiful, every inch of her body perfection itself. He gently straddled her, interlacing his fingers with hers as she opened her legs and welcomed him inward. He glanced at the gold chain on the bed stand, but she shook her head again, her smiling eyes telling him that she wanted him just the way she was.
As a goddess, not merely as a woman.
He felt a brief twinge of anxiety as she wrapped her arms and legs gently around him, her heels pressing against his ass, gently urging him onward, but her kisses told him not be afraid. Thrilled beyond description to find himself enveloped in the fantastic strength of this golden woman of Velor, her every movement paradoxically supple and delicate, he guided himself to her with the enthusiasm of a young man.
She was so wet, so willing, yet so firm, her heat enveloping him as he felt waves of rippling muscle moving smoothly along his shaft, drawing him ever inward, the sensation so different than a human woman. Different, but somehow inestimably more thrilling. His thoughts soared, his dreams of making love to this superwoman finally realized, loving his new friend, her sexual powers the pinnacle of her genetic legacy.
He gasped in indescribable pleasure as he buried himself deeply inside her, her soft cries urging him on as she enveloped him with her terrible yet wonderful strength, her arms and legs wrapped so sensually around him… it was so dangerous but so enticing, so much better than any dream, and so incredibly sexy that he cried out in pleasure in seconds, releasing the passions of the last days, thrilling as he cried out hoarsely at the impossibly of making love this way to a fully empowered Velorian.
She laughed and smiled and kissed him playfully, telling him that she’d fully expected that his first coming would be that fast. She teased him with it, telling him she was a goddess of love, so how could it be any other way? She held him inside her as she waited for him to recover, her kisses growing deeper, a hint of honey and wildflower on her tongue now.
His excitement returned faster than should have been humanly possible, and he marveled at his own steel as he begin taking her harder and faster this time. Her cries of pleasure matched his own as his excitement soon knew no bounds as he used all his weight and strength to love her, knowing that he could never hurt her. He poured all the brutal emotions of the last days into her body, athletically burning the horrors from his memories as he lost himself in his hard, sweaty and very masculine loving, finding only gentleness and love on the far side of his passions.
They were cuddling in each other’s arms an hour later. Calen was exhausted, yet Vera was beaming, full of energy.
“That was really, really nice,” she murmured in his ear. “I loved having you so deeply inside me, your heart beating so close to mine. To share your pleasures. To be your super-girl.”
“I didn’t… I didn’t realize that was even possible,” he gasped for air, “to you know, to have sex like that without gold. So intense.”
“Shak'la's advice helped, but mostly I guess it’s all a matter of wanting someone enough. Of us both being comfortable enough with my strength. Of wanting to thank you first for everything you’ve done for me.”
She laughed sexily. “You don’t think we’re done, do you, cowboy? I told you, Velorian funerals last for two days.”
“So you were holding back more than your strength. Your pheromones too, right?”
She nodded. “Mostly. I wanted to just share my body with you, my friend, without drugs or gold or anything unnatural.”
He reached over to lift the gold chain from the bed table. “But now, it’s time to subdue those mighty super powers, my dear. Time to level the playing field.”
“Level it?” she laughed as she arched her back so he could wrap the gold chain around her waist. “I’m Velorian. I could fuck you to death. Gold or no gold.”
“A challenge I accept,” he grinned as he snapped the ends closed over her bellybutton. She gasped and arched her back, lifting her body from the bed, his with hers, and then her eyes fluttered and she collapsed limply back to it. He ran his fingers through her silky hair, and his fingers returned fragrant with the scent of honey and wildflower. He placed his finger in her mouth and she drew it in deeply, his other hand circling her breast, his fingers tracing around her nipple as it rose with unnaturally firmness. Two hearts began to beat as one.
She lithely rolled him over on his back, reminding him that she still had several times his strength, her scented hair covering his face as she lowered herself over him and began to make love like a Velorian girl. With enthusiasm unbounded, and endless energy.
Her pheromones, combining with the invigorating natural drugs of Velorian sex, invigorated him far beyond human limits. A day passed in loving, two beings linked as one, sharing endless pleasures, their bodies attuned to each sensation they shared. The night period came and passed, and still they made love, each orgasm more enjoyable than the last, a chain of pleasures that marched into the past beyond counting, into the future without knowing.
It was late in the sleep period on the second day when Vera felt his body fading, and knew that no amount of pheromone could keep him going longer. He was young and he was strong, but he was still just human.
She rose and got dressed to quietly slip into the darkened corridors and lanes that led to the power station. There she undressed as she cycled through the airlock, her gold chain falling to the floor once she was safely in the airlock, releasing the wild energies which she'd contained for the last two days. Her body flared brightly, bringing with it a final, unrestrained blaze of private pleasure, a final orgasm, almost brutal, but undiluted and so unmistakably Velorian.
When she stepped out into the inner dome, the hard rads and hundreds of degrees of heat washed over her invulnerable body, comforting her with their warmth. Smiling, she sat down at her bench and began to work on rebuilding a sticky sodium valve.
Corrididor might be a microcosm, she realized, a tiny world racing toward its own destruction around its star, but it was her world for now. She had her man, she had her machines, and most importantly of all, she had meaning in her life. She had two thousand souls who depended on her.
Souls who had helped her to find that one place in all the universe where she truly belonged.
(Look for Vera, Calen, Calloway, Daglon and Shak'la in future Ordinary Velorian stories. Even, perhaps, Zarla?)