Zhat’noy, a moon circling the planet Aria
Fariba Math’as of Clan Aerie watched the Protector’s eyes narrow as the circle of Primes closed around her. She'd used the x-rays from her eyes to burn out her Volatai, the unique flight organ that all Velorians possessed, and then brought the flightless warrior here to the training moon of Zhat’noy.
That said, the Velorian was still incredibly dangerous, able to absorb the orgone energy from any Prime who came within her grasp. But that was also the point of bringing her here. This latest crop of Primes needed a lot of practice before they were allowed to graduate. Command had asked her to help.
This clearly wasn't a fitting assignment for a Tset'lar, but it was better than living inside the wearisome confines of the Aerie. The Empire was waiting for the right moment to deploy she and her sisters, and until then, Training Command was her only chance to pit her powers against a Protector. Albeit a flightless one.
She started by asking for a volunteer, and the class champion stepped forward to take up the challenge. He'd defeated every other Prime in his class during the exercises, and had also proved adept at seducing his female classmates. Arion sex play was very athletic, and it started as a contest of pheromic seduction. The sex that followed was incredibly violent, at least to Terran eyes, ultimately turning into a contest of multiple orgasms in which, inevitably, one partner was sexually dominated by the other. It sometimes took hours for a victor to emerge, and the odds were pretty much even between the sexes.
Fariba was pleased that the alpha male of the group had stepped forward. He was arrogant and too full of himself. His likely failure would be an object lesson to the weaker members of his class to work harder at perfecting their skill at Forn’la, the Supremis art of sexual contest. Given that a Protector’s pheromones were more powerful than any Primal femme’s, it would take incredible skill and concentration to best her in such a contest. Only a very experienced Prime had a chance. A man who looked outside of his own pleasures.
The Velorian quickly proved that this man didn’t have any of those traits. He fell under the spell of her pheromones after they'd sparred for a few minutes, and by the time she'd pinned him down during their wrestling and kissed him, he was lost. The older and more experienced instructors whispered crude jokes to each other as they watched the Velorian’s chemical seduction slowly turn into a physical one. The Velorian's tactile pheromones flooded his hormonal system with authentic sensations of intense sexual and emotional love. The pheromones even worked their way to his brain, shutting down his higher brain functions, even fooling him into thinking she loved him too. Even worse, he was arrogant enough to think he could be the master of their lovemaking, for he also possessed the ability to cast a spell with his pheromones. Having been born a superman, a virtual man of steel with all the attributes that came with that, he also believed he could please any woman.
And he did. At first.
Everyone knew that Velorians were the most accomplished lovers in the universe, and the inexperienced Prime had fallen hopelessly under her charms. If this wasn't such a deadly game, it would have been comical to watch the Prime transform from aggressor to lover.
The Velorian of course let him think he was conquering her, his eager hands peeling her uniform off as she yielded her body to him. That should have been a red flag, but the young Prime simply believed she could not resist him. That she wanted him. He took her eagerly, impaling her so violently that the wall behind her shattered from thrusts. He unleashed all the strength that a fully empowered Prime possessed, smashing her body through walls, cracking the pavement under her back when he was on top, plunging into her body as if determined to split her in half. It wasn't truly mortal combat, at least not by Arion standards, for this was the style of primitive lovemaking that excited Arion women.
When the wall was shattered and the chunks of rock and ferroconcrete were ground down behind her back, he lifted her body off the ground, her long legs wrapping obediently around his waist, and grabbed her shoulders to pull her downward as he thrust himself upward with all the strength of a man of steel. He quickly brought her to orgasm, thrilling her with both his strength and with his size, not to mention his beserker frenzy to penetrate deeper and deeper, entering that muscular inner vagina and its densely packed nerve endings. This was the source of ultimate pleasure for a Supremis femme, and she responded with frenzied enthusiasm.
In his delusion of love, he was convinced she was losing control of her energy flows as she climaxed in shotgun fashion, that she’d even entered Ples’tathy, a state of continuous orgasm. Ples'tathy was a complete submission to the power of orgasm. It could last for days.
But of course, it wasn't that at all, While her pleasures were real, her apparent loss of control was not. She contracted her inner self in ever tighter erotic waves, drawing him deeper, her hands encircling the root of his erection as he continued to take her so powerfully, her fingers working downward toward his anus, searching for and finding those magical spots that drove him wild with passion. He quickly lost control, and his ejaculation came with all the power of a bolt of lightning, releasing the first of a continuous fleet of orgasms, something both male and female Supremis are most capable of.
Foolishly, he still imagined he was in control of her pleasures, but he was not, for once his body ran out of ejaculatory fluids, it substituted orgone, and that precious and energetic hormone began flowing from his body to hers.
It took less than an hour for her to drain his body of energy, leaving him pale and hollow-looking. In contrast, her body was glowing with health and vigor now, her cheeks pink, her cries of pleasure a song of beauty and feminine power. Power that she now used to ever so slowly tighten the embrace of her arms and legs as his strength faded, constricting his body as if she was trying to squeeze the last of the orgone from him like a sponge. He used the last air in his lungs to cry out in mortal fear as the horrible sound of tortured steel and breaking glass filled the air. His pelvis shattered from the powerful scissor of her legs and then his back broke as she clasped her hands over just the right vertibra and used all of her upper body strength to twist him in at a funny angle. He died during the heat of her strongest climax yet, her body coaxing one final release from his body. Such was the magic of her seduction that his last act in this life was an orgasm.
The older Primes tore their eyes from the spectacle to look at their young warriors. They saw wide-eyed fascination reflected in their eyes. They didn’t see any horror in their champion’s death, but instead, they felt an overpowering desire to challenge the Velorian themselves. The old hands nodded, remembering how they'd felt the first time they’d witnessed such a kill. Still, they hoped that their young charges had just learned that there was no mercy for the truly stupid, or even the hopelessly arrogant. Not even here on this Arion moon.
Yet that lesson was lost nearly as fast it was gained. Given their Primal arrogance, wired as it was so deeply into their psyche and hormonal systems, each of them knew they would not make the same mistake of losing control. They would be able to handle this blonde temptress, they would conquer her, they would draw her power into themselves, and they would bring her death by orgasm. If only they had the chance. If only.
The Velorian knew their thoughts as well as they did. She fed them by standing tall and proud over the body of the young man she’d just killed, feeling strangely proud of the desire she saw in their eyes. She had only to exploit that further, to draw out this fatal flaw of all Primes, this overpowering pride they had in having been born supermen.
She slowly pulled her personal variant of a Protector’s uniform back on, the blue top hugging her like a second skin, cleavage bared to her navel, the leotard bottom revealing all of her perfect legs. She slowly performed a strip tease in reverse, the very act of dressing in her colorful uniform encouraging the men to want to tear it off again. Her eyes were shining brightly from the energy she’d just absorbed, and her inner thighs glowed like steel fresh from the forge, as much from friction of their loving as the gift of orgone. Each young Prime wanted to be the next to explore the wonders between those gorgeous legs. For despite the danger, her blonde hair was the most exotic of sexual stimuli for a Prime.
She knew all these things as she met the men’s bold stares, crossing her arms under her breasts to emphasize the fact that they’d grown larger from the orgone she’d absorbed, then leaned her head back and smiled disarmingly at the young men, silently challenging them to try their luck against her. Despite the sexual power, despite the violence she’d just absorbed, she seemed eager to do it all again.
When no one responded to her feminine challenge, they had their orders not to, she turned to look toward the visiting Primal femme, struggling to hold her smile despite staring into eyes that looked more feral than human. She hoped the Primes couldn’t hear her racing heart, for like sharks, they went crazy when there was blood in the water, even if it was their own. There was no way she could drain a hundred Primes the way she'd just drained the one, and she was was trapped here, unable to leap high and fast enough to escape the heavy gravity of the large moon. It would take days for her Volatai to heal enough to return her gift of flight.
She continued to study the femme with the huge eyes. She’d heard the others refer to her as Fariba, and everyone seemed afraid of her, perhaps because of her powerful eyes. She’d seen Fariba stare at the human captives who served them, and their bodies would explode in a perfect simulation of a large firecracker, disappearing completely with a loud BANG, their unburned clothing filling the air with a storm of colorful confetti. She would rise to dance among the swirling confetti, celebrating her power.
Clearly, no Velorian had such fantastic power. No Arion should have had it either. This woman was something more than merely Prime.
Fariba watched the interplay between the Velorian and the Primal men. They were still too eager, too confident. They thought their champion had simple made a mistake. They didn't understand how dangerous the Velorian was. They had to learn.
She called out for trainees to engage the Protector - and she boldly announced that they were free to kill her if they could. That nearly caused a riot, what with their bloodlust, arrogance, pride and desire all combining to drive them. Everyone volunteered at once, but Fariba chose only the strongest.
The fights started off with the usual violence, trading blows that would have dented a battleship's armor, but the fight quickly dissolved into wrestling and then sexual combat as the Protector’s pheromones overloaded the men’s senses and their hormonal systems. She took each of the men down the same destructive path that she had the first man.
However, instead of throwing away more lives, the instructor’s intervened in the final moments of combat. Just before the recruit was completely drained and the Velorian went into her killing spasm, they would tear her arms and legs from her now helpless victim. Then they would send another man to her, continuing where the last one left off.
Frustratingly, the Protector out fought them all and then seduced them all, accepting each new combatant with an eagerness that confused the men. She acted for all the world as if she was the neediest woman in the universe. She behaved as if these men were gifts that she so urgently desired.
The day was growing long when Fariba finally declared an end to the sport. The trainees were clearly not going to kill this Protector, no matter how long they went at it. She was too experienced. Instead, Fariba walked out to face the Protector herself.
The Protector’s eyes were very pale now, as was her hair, almost silver colored, the two being side-effects from absorbing too much orgone. The Velorian looked arrogantly back at Fariba, crossing her arms as before under her engorged breasts, her uniform lost in the confusion of battle.
“It is true then,” Fariba challenged her. “Velorians have no sexual limits?”
“None that these pitiful excuses for men could ever find,” the Velorian said confidently.
Fariba just nodded, impressed despite herself. Primal lovemaking was violent beyond human imagination, the men’s strength a thousand times greater than human, their endowment legendary. Yet this Velorian had seemingly found great pleasure in it all. “You’d take on my entire army if I let you, now wouldn’t you?”
“If you’d give me the satisfaction of killing them, yes.”
“What about me?”
“What about you?” the Velorian asked flatly.
“Would you attempt to seduce me as well?”
“Who says I’m not doing that as we speak.”
Fariba sniffed the air, sensing the unique mixture of honey, wildflower and musk that denoted Velorian pheromones. She felt her body quicken, but struggled not to show it. “Except I’m not merely a Prime.”
“I had guessed as much,” the Velorian nodded, finding she was unable to tear her eyes from the woman’s huge orbs. “Geheimite?”
“We call ourselves Tset’lar,” Fariba said with pride.
“Which means exactly what?” the Velorian asked with a smirk. She’d never heard of that term, and she hated the insufferable arrogance of these self-proclaimed masters of the universe.
“It means that I am capable of killing you with even less effort than it took you to kill that boy.”
The Velorian’s eyes flashed angrily. “He wasn’t a boy. He was a murderous Prime. He’d have killed thousands of humans if I’d let him live.”
“So, what would you do with me? Kill me too?”
"Hardly," the Velorian smiled disarmingly. "Femmes are for loving. Even those of you from the dark side." She lifted her hands, her fingers gently combing through Fariba’s soft hair, her eyes flaring like twin stars as she traced her heat vision down Fariba’s body, vaporizing her clothing. She leaned forward against the glowing ashes, gently pressing her warm breasts against Fariba’s. “I would be willing to return the gift of power your men have given to me. If you so command me.”
Fariba tried not to smile. She wasn't going to fall for that. Clearly, the Velorian was intent on stealing her orgone as well. Still, she felt her head spinning pleasantly, her body tingling. The Velorian was indeed a master at casting her pheromones. Perhaps she could indulge herself just a little, she thought. She'd been gone from the Aerie for months.
The Velorian read her emotions, and Fariba didn't protest when the blonde tilted her head slightly and pressed her advantage, kissing Fariba passionately, her lips so soft and full. The tactile pheromones on her lips sent an electric shock through Fariba’s body, making her wet. She just smiled and leaned her head back, admiring the Velorian’s skill. She was very, very good.
“Let me warm you up a bit first.” Fariba said as she began to gently play her eyes over the Velorian’s breasts, projecting just enough photons to heat the woman's skin. In reality, she was projecting a massive burst of x-rays, tuned as they were to that very narrow band of frequencies that weakened a Supremis. Whether this weakness was a mistake in the creation of the Supremis, or a Galen back door, Fariba had no idea, but it did limit Supremis travel in areas of the galaxy where stars emitted this same spectrum. Which was how their scientists had discovered it.
The Velorian reached up to massage her own breasts as if they were itching, a clear sign that the x-rays were working.
It was common knowledge that orgone could only be contained by the invulnerable flesh of a Supremis. In theory, if that flesh were to weaken...
“They’re beautiful,” Fariba murmured, finding she was growing more aroused every second, as much from her impending kill as from the Velorian's pheromones. She cupped the Protector's heavy breasts as she leaned closer, concentrating her x-ray vision deeper inside them, watching as the Velorian’s normally opaque flesh gradually became transparent to her tachyon vision, a sign of its weakening. She could suddenly see the Velorian’s ribs and her rapidly beating heart. Yet it was that delicate yet invulnerable flesh around her orgone glands that she concentrated her vision on.
The Velorian’s body slowly turned as clear as glass from the waist upward. She was clearly weakening, the orgone only seconds away from escaping, and she had no idea what was happening.
Fariba gently turned the Velorian around, pressing her warm breasts against the Protector’s strong back, allowing the Primes to see with their own eyes that she'd become vulnerable. Fariba cupped her breasts, finding them very soft now. The Protector lifted her hands to cover Fariba's hands, clearly confused by the sensations she was feeling.
Fariba closed her eyes and waited, knowing the reaction she’d started would soon end dramatically.
In orbit above Zhat’noy.
Alarms began to blare on the command ship Admiral Zirov as a blinding burst of energy was released on the surface of the moon below. Their sensors tried to sort it out, looking for the telltale photonic spectrum of antimatter or the hard particles from a nuclear burst, but they found neither. Yet the burst had clearly been in that power range. Puzzled, they also found no ionizing radiation. A quick call to the surface to inquire as to the source of explosion was met by more confusion. All Ground Control could confirm was that there had been a large burst of unknown origin at the Primal exercise area. Five hundred Terrans had been there along with a hundred Primes. Also a strange visitor from Clan Aerie.
It was during the confusion that one of the many ships in orbit started to accelerate toward the nearest wormhole, its flight plan uncharted. Before any fighters could scramble to intercept, it was gone.
Fariba, along with the rest of the Primes, picked themselves up from where they'd been scattered over a radius of two miles. They walked toward ground zero, luxuriating in the orgone haze left by the Velorian's extermination, their bodies absorbing as much as they could find of it. Fariba's skin was still glowing and her body was visibly aroused when she walked back into the command center and heard about the ship. It had obviously been Velorian.
"Let the Velorians worry," she said
with a shrug. "I'm only the first of Clan Aerie. A half dozen of my sisters
are coming, only a few years
behind me. And a dozen more behind them."
City of Nova’ya, Plant Velor
Maya Zor’lan stood by the canal behind her house, watching the breeze ripple across the surface of the water, enjoying the interplay of light and shadow from the waves. Her thoughts were far away now, wondering about the enemy she would soon face. Wondering whether her opponents were feeling the same insecurities she did. Where they filled with the same reluctance to narrow confines of her family and venture into the coldness of space? Did they feel the same remorse that their long conflict - no one dared call it a war - had come down to this? To a battle of ever stronger opponents?
Maya sighed as she pushed those thoughts away. She’d lived and worked since she was five years old to prepare herself for this day, and she’d known from her earliest memories that she was different. Stronger, taller and faster than the other kids, impossible to injure, she had often become the object of ridicule during her elementary days. Her teenage years hadn’t been a lot better, for she carried more muscle on her body than any boy in her classes, and stood a head taller than any of them. Her strength was so great that she’d been forbidden to compete in the Scrumbles games.
Instead, her father had developed her strength further, growing her muscles larger every month, forcing her to lift impossibly heavy weights, her strength so great that she seemed to defy even the gold field of Velor. Yet in truth, gold affected her as much as any other Velorian. She was just so much stronger to begin with.
He'd tried to be both father and mother, given that he was raising her alone. He'd even performed the normally maternal role of finding her first lover. Her Rites were fast approaching and he knew they were sexual to the extreme, a pagan ritual of feminine empowerment involving many men, all of that loving merely a warm-up for her moment with Aphro’dite, supposedly a Galen who loved only women.
Embarrassingly, despite bringing the the strongest and most accomplished Messengers to her bed, they all failed in their mission: she was simply too strong for them to conquer. Frustrated, her father kept trying to find the right man, but she remained a virgin when she finally went to her Rites. It went the same way during that ritual. Never before had mankind failed so utterly. It wasn’t truly until her moment with Aphro’dite that she experienced her first orgasm that was stimulated by another person, and Maya promptly lost all control of her passion, something that Aphro’dite seemed amused by. She was used to more experienced girls.
Soon after her Rites, Maya journeyed out of the gold field of Velor for the first time and discovered the nearly immeasurable power which was her birthright. While new Protectors struggled mightily to bend a thick bar of Vendorian steel, she found it was pliable and soft enough that she could squeeze it in her grip, making it ooze from her hand like plastic. Everyone would stare at her when she did that, as much from the shock of her fantastic strength as from the dramatic way her muscles swelled and her tendons rose like steel cables as she exerted herself. Their stares made her feel all the more like a freak.
She knew by now that men truly feared her strength, and the Messengers who were assigned to train her in the art of loving only alienated her that much more by approaching their duties with grim determination, despite being supermen, living outside a gold field. Her inner strength had scaled with all her other muscles, and in her moment of passion, she would hold them so tightly that they suffered terribly, despite their brave attempts to hide their pain. That would always deflate her libido and leave her feeling restless and unfulfilled.
It was only after a very creative Messenger, the shortest and smallest of the group, his appearance almost effeminite, gave her a thin chain of gold to secretly wear under her clothing. She found wondrous pleasures in his arms. He was fully empowered, she was not, and for the first time, she almost felt like a woman.
Her instructors told her what the geneticists had told them: that her natural invulnerability had been greatly increased such that she could stand in the glare of a Tset’s deadly eyes and survive. That her strength was so great that she could crush the life from those otherwise unhurtable abominations of nature.
The last thought was horrifying to her, but she knew the story of her genetic class, how the Genetic Board had started work to create Saray’en, often called Prima-0, like herself long before the Arion’s deployed their first Tset’lar. There were spies in the Arion system, and they reported on the work going on there, and they watched the young girls of Clan Aerie growing up so strong and so proud.
Velor tried to catch up, yet Maya was still short of her sixteenth birthday when the Tset’s began to kill Protectors, the first one on a training moon named Zhat’noy. That attack had been recorded by a Velorian spy ship.
Maya knew that she had been created to kill the people who had been created to kill their people. But she despised all killing. Yet she knew that if she did not play her part, then many Protectors would die. Given time, all of them might die in a war she wasn’t sure made any sense. A war where she would kill or be killed.
Such were Maya’s thoughts as her sixteenth birthday month wound to a close. She lifted her arms and ran her fingers through her hair, massaging the backside of her head, glad that there was no one around to stare or snicker at the sharp curves that formed across her arms and shoulders. Muscles seemed to sprout from everywhere when she moved, transforming her otherwise svelte body into a myriad of steel curves.
She massaged the tightness from her neck, only to startle as she felt another pair of warm hands on her shoulders.
“A penny for your thoughts, my dearest Maya?”
Instead of lowering her hands to hide her muscles, Maya smiled at the sound of her father’s voice. His pride for her had grown as her body became stronger and harder.
“Just thinking of the future, father.”
“A future that belongs to you and your fellow Saray’en, my dear.”
“A future full of death,” she replied sourly.
“Killing our enemies is never wrong. It allows the rest of us to live our lives in peace.”
She felt his fingers gripping the straps of her dress, then tearing them. She dutifully kept her arms raised as her dress slipped down her body to pool at her feet. This was a father's prerogative, showing off a newly graduated Protector to his friends and neighbors, although her Rites had been weeks before. She saw faces looking out windows as her father’s hands rose to cup the underside of her heavy breasts, his thumbs tracing across her nipples to make them harder. His soft lips traced along her arm at the same time to find hard muscles, kissing those steely mounds even as her breasts swelled under his hands. She made her muscles bigger and harder yet for him.
Instead of being embarrassed by her sudden nudity or his intimate touch, even his kisses, she sighed in pleasure, a warm smile tilting her lips. No Velorian wore clothing when they worked out, and arousal, sex and exercise were inter-related activities. Every good workout ended with an even better orgasm, or so her mother had once told her a long time ago. While most people chose a partner and retired to the baths for their pleasure, Maya's came as she kneeled over the public vibrator in the gym, setting it for its largest size and most powerful stimulation. Her trainer would work his oiled hands over her hard-flexed muscles, making her body shine. Everyone in the gym would stop to watch, as much to see if the vibrator would survive as anything else. Until they replaced it with Vendorian steel, it usually didn't.
“You certainly don’t want to be melancholy during your birthday month, Maya. Be proud of who you are. You are the hope of Velor.”
Her smile faded as she thought of the war again. She wished she felt the same simple pride that he did. The same single-minded devotion to duty. Velor, right or wrong.
“You are my pride too, Maya.” His hands rose from her now engorged nipples to caress the infinitely hard curves of her arms, and she unconsciously tensed herself that much harder, feeding his pride. He was ever so proud of the body he’d helped her build.
She'd learned years ago that her father had campaigned tirelessly for the privilege of raising the first of the Saray’en. He’d personally worked with Aphro’dite to select some of her genetic traits, mixing them with those of his wife, a Virago, an experiment never before conducted. Aphro’dite used her secret code to prevent the Maternity Engine from aborting the aberrant fetus, and her mother had then carried her to term.
Maya was not the only child of a Virago and Aphro’dite, but she was the first and oldest. Yet dozens more children were growing up to be like her.
It quickly became her father’s job to help raise her as Maya’s mother went back to the conflict. She was posted somewhere on the far side of the Milky Way. Rumor had it she was dead, but the Council would not confirm it. All the more reason for Maya to hate the war. All the more reason, her father said, for her to fight.
“This is not a good place to workout, father. The neighbors can...”
“See you? See the pride of all Velor? The young woman who is going to save us all from the scourge of the Tset’Lar.”
She smiled, and began her exercise routine anyway, reaching down to lift weights that no Protector could as much as budge in the gold-field of Velor. They felt light in her hands now.
She was ready. But not for war.
Planet Ghan, on the far side of the Scantallian wormhole
Fariba floated just outside the atmosphere of Ghan, scanning the planet below with her enlarged eyes. Most of the humans were still huddling in their shelters while a portion of the capital city burned out of control, smoke rising to cover much of the rest of the city. The battle had started there but it had ended in the desert. The Protector had fought well - it had taken Fariba an entire day to kill her.
The Velorian had proved to be quick and experienced and she’d fought bravely for her protectorate. Velorian tactics had evolved in these last months in response to the Tset’lar, but eventually Fariba succeeded in weakening the solitary Protector to the point where she could no longer fight. Her blonde hair had been plastered to her sweaty face as she kneeled before Fariba in the desert, as far away from the people she had tried to protect as possible. There she begged to trade her life for her protectorate.
Had the Protector known how exhausted Fariba was, she might have fought a little longer, for Fariba barely had the energy left to destroy her. It required many long minutes of her x-ray-enhanced vision to weaken the Velorian’s flesh until her orgone reserves were finally released. Yet Fariba managed to do it, and the twin explosions left a mile wide crater in the desert, the force of it blowing Fariba far up into space. Which was just as well. The Betans could mop up the resistance now.
Fariba made a low pass through the chromosphere of the local sun to recover energies, and then returned to watch over the world until the military arrived to claim it. She tried not to kill any of the humans herself, not unless they got in the way of the Protector’s she hunted, that is.
She was still savoring her victory, especially enjoying the Velorian’s final pleading, when she caught movement near the corner of her vision. Turning her head, she saw a brightly colored figure entering the atmosphere, coming in fast, her body a blazing corona of superheated air.
She smiled, and realized that she’d be the first in her Aerie to reach twenty-one kills. There would be many celebrations when she returned to her Aerie.
Maya slowed to land in a deserted field on the planet the locals had named Ghan, avoiding the dry plants and grasses that threatened to ignite from the heat of her skin. She concentrated on converting that heat to orgone, her skin cooling in seconds. She then stripped off her flight uniform and put on an a simple black dress, the fabric nearly sheer. It felt uncomfortable, and her exaggerated figure and muscles were on display, but she was hunting the Tset’lar, and dressing like a Velorian on this conservative Arab world would guarantee she’d be seen. Still, she hoped none of the locals would see her, for her appearance would shock them. At seven feet tall and carrying this much muscle, they’d consider a freak, even after they recognized her as Velorian.
Those worries aside, Maya hoped the Tset’lar was still here, gloating over her victory over Sara’lyn.
Yet, another part of her was afraid. She knew full well that no Protector had ever survived an encounter with a Tset’lar. Here she was, preparing to be the first Saray’en to engage one, and without backup.
She took a deep breath to steel herself, and then leaped high into the air, flying slowly toward the nearest settlement. She knew the Tset could easily detect her in flight.
Maya landed minutes later on a newly hardened concrete pad, finding that it was the first of what would likely become a hundred shrines celebrating Sara’lyn’s accomplishments. If the Tset was going to find her, this would be the place she wanted it to happen. Right here, on top of this memorial to the woman she’d killed.
It took only minutes before she sensed the Tset’lar’s approach. It started with a soft swish of air far overhead - the Tset was re-entering the atmosphere without breaking the sonic barrier, a huge waste of energy. But then, she’d have energy to spare.
She’d also be overconfident, or so Maya hoped. The Tsets had never met a Saray’en, and while they exploited their stolen Galen genetics, Maya truly was Aphro’dite’s daughter. A daughter born to match the ill-begotten power the Arions had unleashed on the universe.
She knew it wasn’t going to be easy to defeat the Tset. Velorian Intel had reported that the Tsets could fly as fast as she could, with both Volatai enabled as opposed to keeping one in reserve as was the case with Velorians. She could also project an usually powerful and deadly mix of x-rays and photons from her eyes. Maya’s sole advantages were her greater strength and her reduced vulnerability to those x-rays.
Still, she was terribly nervous. She knew that someone was going to die badly today. She prayed to Skietra it would not be her.
Her heart was pounding as she waited until she heard the sound of bare feet landing on the slab behind her. She took a deep breath, and slowly turned to face her nemesis, forcing herself to smile confidently as she did, hoping to disarm her.
Fariba landed on her knee, crouching, ready for battle, only to find herself staring up at the tallest and most muscular Protector she’d every seen. Her shoulders were unusually broad and strong, but she didn’t seem to be carrying very much energy. Her legs were wrapped in tight muscles, giving the impression of vast strength. Everything about her was bigger than life.
While she’d never felt intimidated by anyone’s height -- she stood 6’2” herself -- Fariba didn’t like the feeling of looking up at the far taller Velorian.
Still, she was intrigued by this woman, and she held back the deadly x-rays that she usually weakened her enemies with. She suspected this woman was stronger than any Protector, and for once, it might be fun to defeat someone in hand-to-hand battle. Primitive, but possibly satisfying.
Maybe she’d even let this huge Velorian pleasure her, perhaps seducing her with her pheromones and then letting her beg for release from her deadly embrace. Yes, that was how she’d do it this time. Strength against strength. She was the strongest being in the universe. She'd proven that over and over.
Fariba rose confidently to her feet to walk closer to the blonde, the two of them not saying a word as their hands met, fingers interlacing. There was a ritual to everything, including death. Fariba started quickly, throwing her immense strength against the Velorian, only to be shocked when the woman’s wrists didn’t bend and break as she’d expected. She tried harder, using all of her strength now, and still the Velorian didn’t yield, her muscles flexing hugely as she pushed back with equal strength. Fariba had never encountered any person or any substance that could resist her Galen strength. Vendorian steel was like putty to her, even diamonds crushed to powder, and Primal bones broke in her grip. But not this woman. Instead, strong muscles exploded across the blonde’s body as she slowly bent Fariba’s hands back against the wall behind her.
The Velorian was stronger? Impossible!
Fariba hastily responded with a burst of heat vision that should have blinded the Velorian, but it merely succeeded in vaporizing the upper half of her clothing. The blonde responded by jerking Fariba off her feet, lifting her to the height of her eyes as she unleashed a shocking burst of heat vision as well.
Momentarily blinded, Fariba fought back as best she could, lashing out with energy of every spectrum, especially x-rays. She also pushed back with every ounce of her Galen strength, but was pushed back further, the tile and concrete wall behind her shattering.
She fell backward to tumble down the hill behind the shrine, the Velorian on top of her. Fariba finally managed to jerk one hand free to deliver blows so powerful that the shock waves flattened the large pine trees on either side of them, her long legs crushing inward with power that should have broken the Velorian’s back and shattered her pelvis, but in fact merely locked them together in mortal combat. Their bodies were thousands of degrees hot from their combined heat vision attacks when they plunged into the icy Bay of Bagans, a steam tornado rising to boil the surface of the water.
The two combatants were standing dripping wet on some rocks a half hour later, both of them tired but respectful of the other’s strength. Maya had proven slightly stronger, but Fariba had been quicker, twisting herself cat-like in Maya’s grip.
The Tset lashed out with her eyes now, and Maya just smiled as she felt the beams focus on her breasts. Maya put her hands on her hips and let the Tset stare at her, seemingly unaffected.
“Surprised?” Maya finally asked when the Tset blinked her eyes closed, looking puzzled and off-balance. She leaped forward to grab the Tset’s shoulders, pushing her downward to shatter the boulder beneath them, squeezing her hands tightly enough at the same time to have shattered bones if she’d merely been a Prime.
The Tset fought back by wrapping her legs around Maya to squeeze her with incredible force.
The fight was on again.
Maya was shocked by the Tset’s strength. She’d never found anything that could resist the strength of her muscles, yet she could barely hang onto this Arion as she twisted in her grip, slashing with her nails like a wildcat, her eyes blazing with anger. Maya had been trained to envelope her enemy with her arms and legs and then use her superior strength to crush them, but that didn’t work on someone she couldn't keep hold of. Minutes of desperate grappling ended when the Arion stuck her fingers into Maya’s eyes just as she tried to blast her with heat vision. The flaring heat reflected inward to send a surge of pain down her optic nerves, and in that moment, the Arion broke free.
Shaking away the dazzle, Maya blinked just in time to see a shape hurtling toward her at fantastic speed. The Tset collided with her at Mach 10 and twenty feet above the surface of the water, the impact driving Maya down into the rocky bottom, the shock wave of her impact spreading outward in an oval-shaped wave that washed twenty feet high over the shore, nearly emptying the bay as it crushed buildings and washed away vehicles and anyone foolish enough to be above ground.
Fariba poured every ounce of her power into her Volatai, driving the Velorian deeper and deeper into the planet, penetrating miles of bedrock, then tens of miles, finally crashing into a caldron of molten rock beneath a slumbering volcano. The fantastic release of pressure, thousand of tons per square inch, blew the two superwomen back up the shaft they’d created like bullets out of a gun barrel, a million tons of molten rock rising with them as the lava exploded upward through the weakened crust. The eruption vaporized the water of the Bay of Bagan, turning the three villages that ringed it to ash as the lava exploded miles into the air.
Fariba and Maya barely noticed any of that as they continued their personal fight, tumbling out of the sky to land in one of the military reservations fifty miles from the bay. Soldiers began to die as the fighting women shattered armor and fortifications with their bodies, punching and tearing at each other as they blasting each other with their eyes, each pointed stare exploding like a bomb to melt the armored vehicles around them.
A hundred miles away, General Abu-Adam made a fateful decision, and punched in his private code to the weapons release console. Their Protector was dead, and this new one was clearly going to die as well, but maybe they had a chance to take her attacker with her. Three sleek nuclear missiles rose into the air and sped toward the fight scene, their warheads homing in on the heat source below.
Adamson said a little prayer for the soldiers in the camp, praying that their lives would not be lost in vain. But he had a planet to protect.
The megaton-grade nukes were less than a hundred feet from the Supremis women when they detonated, their fireballs combining to create a million degree region of total annihilation stretching out for five miles around the combatants. Buildings, tanks, people and even a portion of the planet itself was vaporized as the fireball dug a crater deep enough to hide a city in. A fused glass crater that was as hot as the core of the sun.
Maya awoke a hundred thousand smiles from the planet, her body tumbling in the vacuum. She stabilized herself and looked around, but saw no evidence of the Tset. Then she looked toward the planet, and was horrified to see dozens of volcanoes belching molten rock and ash into the atmosphere, lava spreading over hundreds of square miles of surface. Even as she watched, another one erupted, this time directly beneath a small city.
The Tset’lar was using her superior flight ability to kill the planet, shattering the crust by diving through its molten core. Maya tried to scream in horror, but no sound came from her throat in the hard vacuum. The Tset was taking her anger out on the planet because she’d been unable to destroy her!
She launched herself at the erupting planet, more determined that ever to kill that murderer before she killed any more planets.
Maya sat in a quiet street side cafe on the planet Kunika three weeks later, still angry about losing Ghan. She’d flown back to that ill-fated planet to look for the Tset, but she’d instead been greeted with horrific scenes of death and destruction. She’d saved what people she could, mostly by getting them to high ground so the lava and heavy vapors wouldn’t kill them, but the planet was dying. The atmosphere couldn’t handle the ash and all of their agriculture was doomed. The long winter to come would last for years before the ash fell, assuming the eruptions ended soon. Unfortunately, they didn’t show any sign of doing that.
There had been no further sign of the Tset, but she’d sent her message clear enough: attack me and I will kill a world. Disturbingly, it was a tactic the Arions themselves despised. Planets were valuable, as were the people who lived on them. They'd lost many ships and thousands of soldiers conquering Ghan, and the Tset gave it all away in a pique of anger? Her masters, whoever they might be, were going to be doing a lot of explaining to the Emperor.
Maya was comforted by that last thought, but she was still angry with herself for pausing to help the victims instead of pursuing the Tset - in the end, there wasn't a lot she could do to help the victims. Even her mighty powers were useless when facing a lava flow and saving people from breathing poison gasses.
She took a sip of her excellent coffee, one of her few concessions to comfort, and waited impatiently for the Protector of this world to show up. Her name was Anja, and she’d been here for only a couple of years, this being her first assignment after her Rites. In that brief time, she’d become the greatest celebrity on the planet.
Kunika had been named after the leader of a group of abductees from mid-20th century Japan, and it was still culturally homogenous as far as she could see. Sitting in her chair, a cloak covering her from head to toe, hiding both her figure and her hair, Maya drew startled looks from the passerby's. No matter how much she slumped, a seven foot tall woman on a world where the average female height was 5’2” was going to stand out.
She glanced at her watch to see that it was noon, and right on schedule, Anja floated down from the sky. Strictly against instruction, she was wearing a black outfit with the Supremis symbol over one breast. Her skirt was tiny, showing off her long legs, and her sculpted abs were displayed by her bared midriff. A red cape hung down to end just below her waist. It was a look that the former Japanese residents clearly enjoyed, for a crowd immediately gathered around her, with everyone holding out cards for her autograph and snapping pictures. She signed a few cards as she strolled Maya’s way, her blonde hair and six foot height making her look like a goddess among the short, ordinary people of Kunika.
Maya gave up all pretense of hiding and threw her hood back, shaking out her own blonde hair. The crowd gasped, but kept their distance as Anja sat down at the table across from Maya. Her eyes caught the sun and glowed so blue. Anja was very pretty, but also looked very young compared to Maya.
Maya felt a pang of envy as she was reminded that her rapid aging was not going to slow down like that of other Velorians. She'd only learned of her curse after her Rites when she began to age nearly a year every couple of months. Surely Aphro'dite would fix this aging problem when she got back to Velor. She was a true goddess - she could fix anything.
“Didn’t you get the message to keep your head down?” Maya greeted Anja, her voice a harsh whisper. “That directive was meant to be taken literally.”
Anja shook her blonde head. “Nice to meet you too," she said, eyes narrowing. She held out her hand, and Maya took it, squeezing it hard enough to draw a gasp of pain from the Protector. Anja had to learn who was in charge here.
Maya looked around at the people on the street. "Your humans are profoundly ugly, Anja. Some of them are fat, others skinny, still others with scarred or pocked faces. Not one of them has decent muscle tone." They were no worse perhaps than the frightened humans on Ghan, Maya realized, but she really hadn’t had time to ponder how disgusting humans looked when she was there.
"They aren't 'my humans'," Anja said, bristling at the racism she heard in Maya's voice. "And you have to look for beauty inside humans, not outside. They have great souls."
Maya shrugged, not convinced. She had always been embarrassed by the way Velorians had prostituted themselves to humans and then became their protectors. "We're supposed to be the superior race, Anja. Not handmaidens to the grotesque. At least your humans treat you like the goddess you are. I can't imagine hiding on a non-disclosed world, pretending to be..." She paused to wave her hand at the gathering crowd of onlookers. "One of those uglies."
"Why are you here, Maya?" Anja asked angrily. "Surely not just to insult these fine people. Or me."
"I'm going to kill the Tset'lar."
"You think she's here?" Anja laughed. "If she was, I'd have killed her myself by now."
"You wouldn't stand a chance."
"I graduated at the top of my class. Strongest." Maya sat up straighter in her chair.
"Keep flaunting that uniform and all that hair and you'll draw her to you."
Anja shook her head. "What would my protectorate think if I started to hide among them? Using them for protection? This is a disclosed world. I’m their Protector, not someone who runs away when some Prime threatens us.”
“This Tset isn’t just some Prime," Maya laughed disparagingly. "And she doesn't give a damn for your people. If she comes, she'll be hunting only you.”
Anja smiled brighter. “You see this uniform? It says I can handle anything."
"She'd melt it off you just before she turned you body into a bomb that would destroy this entire city."
"I’ve heard this kind of threat before," Anja said as she masaged her hand. "What with those so-called Destroyers. Primal males as big as gorillas and hung like horses. Drainers. But I’ve taken one of them out, played his sexy game and I was the who drained him, returning what was left of his body to his mothership at a good fraction of light speed. Who knows how many Betans were on that doomed ship.”
“That’s interesting, but this is dif...”
Anja shook her head vigorously to interrupt her. “Maya, I’m sorry, but no matter what you say, I’m not going to run and hide. Not from a Prime who might be a little stronger than the rest. If I can take out a Destroyer, I mean, Skietra, I can handle anything.”
Maya sighed. Obviously the Messenger they’d sent hadn’t gotten his message across to Anja at all. Most likely Anja had been too busy fucking him. The deadly combination of loneliness and arrogance was a problem for Protectors on disclosed worlds, given that they were often worshipped by the residents. Despite a Protector's training, focused as it was on humility and service, it was hard for any Supremis to avoid acting like the goddesses they were. Goddesses who deserved men who were worthy of them, not these ugly frails who surrounded them now.
“Well, you should be terrified, Anja,” Maya added, emphasizing her words by tapping on the table. “She eats little girls like you for breakfast.”
“Little? Girl?” Anja sputtered as she glared at Maya. Nobody had talked to her like this since she’d been back in school. She rose to her feet, floated up into the air actually, her blonde hair flowing freely in the afternoon breeze. “If your super-Arion comes here, she’s dead. So don’t worry about it.” With a flash and a sharp clap of thunder from her sonic boom, she was gone.
Maya smiled as she flicked her hood back up and rose to walk down a dark alley, moving faster than the Terrans with their cameras and autograph cards could follow. She’d intended to Anja to become bait for the Tset, but the Protector had basically volunteer out of pride. Arrogance wasn’t just a Primal flaw.
Anja stood inside a small building two days later, staring through the brick wall in front of her, watching as an Arion ship touched down in the trees beyond. Three Betans and a female Prime got out, the Betans armed with the lastest GAR technology. She winced, knowing that if they triangulated her with those weapons, they could pin her down long enough for the Prime to apply gold. The last thing she wanted was to become a crash dummy for new Arion recruits.
She scanned the sky overhead... no sign of any of those weird super-Arions that freaky Protector had talked about. Anja had made some inquiries and found that Maya was from a new class of Protectors called Saray’en. Heavy hitters of some kind, given how she looked underneath her cloak. Not only super tall, but freakishly muscled, even when she was relaxed.
Still, it would have been nice to have her around if things went to shit. She felt badly that she’d been so rude to her.
No time to worry about that now. She had some Arions to deal with. She watched as the Prime stayed under cover as usual while the Betans spread out. The trick was going to be to take out the Betans and isolate the Prime. One on one, Anja had the odds on her side, although Primal femmes were a lot harder to take down than males. Which is obviously why the Arions were deploying them more often these days, instead of just using them for support. Recharging and so forth. This Prime in particular looked like she’d been around a bit.
Anja reached up and wrapped a single strand of hair around her finger and pulled hard. The follicle gave up the ghost at slightly over twenty tons and the meter long hair came free. She wrapped the ends around her index fingers and stretched it tightly, thinning it out. That took a lot more strength than merely plucking it, but it held. She was ready. Now all she needed was to get the drop on one of the Betans. The Prime would likely see it all, being able to see through things, but hopefully not in time to warn the Betans.
She waited until one of the Betans was working around the building she was hiding in, and when he approached the back door and melted the lock with a short burst from his GAR, she waited in the shadows for him to enter. As soon as he stepped across the threshold, she floated silently up behind him and looped the hair around his neck and pulled hard.
Betans are tough, pretty much bulletproof, but fifty tons of force pulling on a garrote the size of a single hair was more than his tough flesh could handle. The loop of hair closed and then disappeared completely. She tapped his head and it fell free. She caught it and set it down, avoiding the gushing blood from his severed neck.
One down and not a sound.
She stepped out the door and flashed across the clearing, moving fast enough to be nearly invisible, her powerful shockwave reaching the second Betan just as her garrote closed around his neck. The blast of thunder sent his head and torso tumbling in opposite directions.
That’s when the first GAR burst sizzled past her shoulder, shearing a hundred foot tall fir tree off at the trunk. She saw the Prime moving out of the corner of her eye, trying to protect the last Betan. Anja grabbed a hand-sized stone and threw it as hard as she could, the Mach 5 projectile catching the Prime between the breasts to knock her off her feet in a blaze of sparks and bits of molten rock. Anja threw her body behind her projectile, closing the distance to the Prime fast, only to have the Prime look up and release a blinding flash of heat vision. A GAR burst caught Anja in the back at the same time. Dazzled and overheated as she was assaulted by energy from two directions, her skin tingling painfully, Anja lost her bearings and went crashing through the trees at greater than the Mach, her hard body severing several of the trunks before she regained her balance. She grabbed one of the hundred ton trees as it fell and swung it down on the Betan, squashing him like a bug beneath it. The ground was soft enough that he’d probably survive, but he’d be out of it for a moment.
She turned to look for the Prime, only to feel a steel-hard arm encircling her neck, then jerking her back with incredible force. The Prime was good. Very good.
Anja smashed her elbow back into her stomach and broke the hold before the Prime could lock it in, and the raven-haired woman went flying, another huge tree trunk shattering as her invulnerable body crashed through it. The Prime leaped back to her feet to stand against the weathered paint of the building, her Terran disguise gone noe to reveal a simple torn leather top and tiny skirt, her midriff free. She was clenching her fists, ready for battle, a tiny smile tilting her lips.
Anja launched herself at the Prime, only to have her attack blunted when the Prime connected with a powerful kick to the head, her foot moving nearly at the Mach. Anja tumbled over the building as the Betan targeted her again with his advanced GAR. The laser-enhanced particle beam tore at her skin with ferocious power, a thousand pinpricks vaporizing what was left of her clothing. Anja's skin was glowing as bright as the sun when she leaped back to her feet and faced the beam long enough to send a burst of her own heat vision that way. The beam cut off as the tree trunks on either side of the Betan burst into flames. She hardly had time to celebrate that when a powerful blow knocked her forward. The Prime was on her again, struggling to wrap her legs around her, grabbing her wrists to lock them behind her.
Anja jerked her arms free only to have the GAR beam strike her face on this time - clearly her earlier burst of heat vision hadn’t disabled the Betan. The horrific glare of the laser blinded her as the charged particles tore at her eyes. At the same time, the Prime’s fingers probed for the pressure points on Anja’s neck. She responded by leaping straight up into the air, the actinic beam of the GAR following her to cut the tops off a dozen trees as the Betan tried to target her. She pirouetted in mid-air and flew directly back toward the Prime, her fist flying as the Prime brace herself against the wall and did the same.
Anja’s fist was the one that connected this time, and her momentum carried the Prime through the concrete wall. Anja tried to sit up and straddle the Prime, preparing to use her strongest muscles to subdue her, when that accursed GAR beam blasted her again, painting a million painful pinpricks across her nude back. Diving to the side, Anja picked the Prime up and threw her bodily at the Betan, the woman's leather clothing vaporizing as she fell through the beam and barely missed crushing the Betan, her steel body cutting through yet another tree behind him.
Anja started to leap after her, only to feel something hit her so hard in the back that she went flying over the Prime and through a dozen tree trunks. Dazed, her eyes filled with spots, she saw an impossible sight: an Arion floating toward her in mid-air..
A flying Arion?
Shockingly, the Arion’s eyes were as large as a cat’s.
Those eyes flared, and a weird tingling sensation made her breasts feel all itchy inside.
This was the moment that Maya had been waiting for. The Tset’lar was focused on her next victim, burning Anja with her eyes, and she wouldn’t see her coming. She dove from behind the summit of the nearby mountain, pushing herself fast, Mach 5, 10, 12, the world around her narrowing to a tunnel as she raced forward at nearly escape velocity, a brilliant trail of ionized air behind her. Outracing her sound by a factor of twelve, she extended her arms and clenched her fists as the Tset went from a distant dot to filling her vision in fractions of a second.
Anja was still blinking the dazzle from her eyes, her body feeling hot and itchy inside now, when what looked like a lightning bolt flashed down from the sky to strike her new attacker. The Arion with the big eyes disappeared in the blink of an eye, a hole magically appearing in the ground where she’d been standing. A second later the shockwave caught up, and the sharp crack of thunder sent leaves flying along the forest floor. It didn’t take a genius to realize that the big Protector, Maya, had been that ‘lightning bolt’. Or that the woman with the huge eyes had been the Tset’lar she’d talked about!
Whatever those two were up to, Anja still had that dangerous Prime to deal with. She leaped back to her feet and scanned the forest, looking through trees and rocks to find the Betan hiding behind a boulder. But no Prime. She glanced up just in time to see the Prime falling from a tree, her long legs wrapping around Anja’s neck as she landed on her shoulders.
Maya desperately tried to slow the Tset’s descent into the earth, even though it was her own impact that had started it. The Tset was burrowing now, looking for lava. Maya grabbed her ankle and tried to slow her down, then clawed her way up her leg, grabbing her hair and then her shoulders, finally wrapping her legs around her enemy as the rock walls of the tunnel flashed by at hundreds of miles per hour. She’d been told that no Prime could resist her strength, likely not the Tset either, and this time she had a chance to prove it. Maya griped the Tset as hard as she could, only to feel her body spin around in her grasp and release a searing blast of heat vision, the thermals so powerful that the hard rock walls of the tunnel exploded around them, turning instantly molten as they came to a stop miles below the surface. Maya ignored the dangerous glare of the Tset's eyes as she concentrated on increasing the pressure of her legs, her huge muscles finally having something solid enough to work on. She built her strength slowly, tons by tens by hundreds, passing a thousand, working her muscles harder than she ever had before. They began to burn from the strain, but she kept increasing the pressure.
Encouraging, the Tset’s eyes flickered and went out as she grimaced in pain, leaving only the glowing lava pool for illumination now. Maya worked harder still, finding new reserves of strength, yet astoundingly, the Tset’s body didn’t yield. Instead, she struggled to fight back, nearly escaping, her strength incredible given her lighter build.
Suddenly everything Velor had feared was revealed as true - the Tset’s DNA was almost pure Galen!
Maya was about to despair when she suddenly sensed another presence in the glowing capsule of lava, all of that rock melted from a single flare of the Tset’s eyes. She saw Anja’s face in the glowing lava as she wrapped her arms around the Tset from the other side and put her Protector’s strength to work.
The Tset’s eyes opened wider than ever as she suddenly realized that she was going to die.
Anja stood over the lifeless body of the Tset’lar a few minutes later. Maya was wiping the last of the molten rock from her skin. “You’re going to take her body back to Velor?”
Maya nodded. “I could not have defeated her alone, despite my strength. That’s not something the scientists back there expected.”
“What the fuck is she, anyway? Geheimite?”
“Something more than that. I’m stronger than a Geheimite, and she was easily as strong as I am.”
“There is only one being more powerful...” Anja’s words drifted away. “I mean, I’m not religious or anything, but is she... Galen?”
Maya shrugged. “Genetically, probably very close. But everything else is the worst kind of Arion. A killing machine, designed exclusively to take out Protectors.”
Anja shuddered. “I’m sorry I didn’t listen earlier.”
“Just as well. I was going to ask you to be bait for the Tset. Better that you decided to do that on your own.”
“I’m just glad you were here.”
“In the future, you need to listen when people tell you that you’re in danger. We Protectors aren’t the most powerful beings in the universe any more.”
“Right...” Anja breathed, her heart racing as she finally realized how close she’d come to dying.
“So where’s the Prime?”
Anja jerked her head upward. “Left her in low orbit. We’ve got a couple of days before she comes down.”
"I’m surprised you didn’t kill her.”
“You obviously needed help,” Anja shrugged.
“Thank you,” Maya smiled, suddenly feeling generous. The Tset's death had vindicated her. “Killing isn’t the only answer.”
Anja blinked. “I didn’t say I wasn’t going to finish her off. Just that I have some time to do it.”
“Let me take her back to Velor with me. Perhaps she can be of use in our training programs.”
“Damn. I was going to carry out sentence in the city square.”
“And further impress your people with your god-like abilities? Killing a Prime with your bare hands?”
“No. I just want to reassure them that any Arion who comes to Canuck will die. They need to believe they’re safe.”
“Find the Betan and make him the example,” Maya shrugged. "Peel him like a grape and then burn him."
"That's disgus..." Anja started to say, and then caught herself. She owed this muscular woman her life, despite her rude manners. “Do you have to leave so fast? I never get to talk with anyone from Velor.”
“A Messenger was just here.”
Anja smiled. “We didn’t have time to talk.”
“I owe you, Maya. You know, Kiraling and all. You can't leave me with my obligation unpaid.”
Maya looked at the beautiful Protector, and saw the warm invitation in her eyes. Despite herself, she felt a flush of warmth. She’d never had a friend back on Velor. Not a real one anyway, and had never shared her bed with another woman. But perhaps here, a million light years away... well, just maybe.