The Adventures of Vyr-Na

 

By Evelyn Rose

 

 

“Velorians: Homo Sapiens Supremis is an artificial race of humans who have vast physical powers. They were genetically engineered by a people who called themselves Galen – a widely-dispersed technologically-advanced alien race. Although the origin of the name Velor is unclear, some historians think it’s based on the Latin word "velare," which means "to watch over" or "stay awake". Another theory for the name is that it comes from the Galen word for 'golden child', Velorea.”

 

--Library of Scribes-

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Inside the Bellerophon the sound of her engines straining to maintain her great speed could be heard on every deck of the ship. The shudder in her deck plates could be felt through the boots of the entire compliment of twenty-eight officers and crew. Then gradually the sound faded as the ship slowed, then slipped into orbit around the third planet from its star.

 

Vyr-Na, paused outside the entrance to the Captain’s ready room, and took a quick assessment of her appearance. She was dressed in a full length body suit that covered her from her neck down to her boots. The red, yellow, and blue of Velorian Protectorate combat dress was vibrant even in the artificial lighting of the passageway. Smoothing the front of her uniform she cleared her throat and delivered three sharp knocks to the door.

 

“Enter,” a sharp female voice ordered.

 

“Protector Vyr-na, reporting as ordered Commander,” the tall blonde announced delivering a sharp crisp military salute.

 

“Stand at ease, Lieutenant.”

 

The commanding officer of the Bellerophon was a striking woman. By earth standards she appeared to be about fifty years of age. A VERY fit fifty. Her red and blue uniform fit her like a second skin, and it flattered the contour of the senior officer’s body showing it as the perfection it was. The only apparent concession to time was in the appearance of minute lines in her face, which if anything, enhanced her appearance. Her piercing blue eyes and bright blonde hair were captivating.

 

“Lieutenant. We’ve made orbit around Tenebrific. Have you completed your preparations?”

 

“Yes ma’am,” the younger woman replied. “Has there been further communication from the freighter?”

 

“Their last communiqué indicated that though they had managed to drive back the Le Vasseur Raiders, they sustained serious damage and were attempting to make it down to the planet’s surface. Our scans have detected the crash site and there are two life signs. Their communications array was likely damaged, and we have had no contact with them since they reported initiating emergency entry. Plus the frakked up atmospheric conditions don’t help.”

 

“They are unique, ”Vyr-Na acknowledged. The entire upper atmosphere is a super hurricane rotating in the same direction as the planet’s rotation. The lower atmosphere is stable, but it makes for one hell of a wind shear at the transition point between the two zones.”

 

“Which is why we cannot send down the Bellerophon’s shuttle. It’s not rated for those conditions. Those winds would rip the wings off of it. I’m afraid that you are going to have to do this the hard way.”

 

“Not that hard. I’ll just drop down there, put the two survivors into a life pod, and haul them up. Nothing I cannot handle Commander.”

 

“It is a pity those raiders are long gone though. I’d love for them to have to engage the Bellerophon. See how they like being outgunned in a fight for a change.

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

The three levels of genetic classes of Velor:

 

The first level, Prima, consists of two sub-levels called P1 and P2. P1 children generally become Protectors while P2's usually become Scribes of Messengers. A group called P3 informally exists, but is more properly part of the M-class.

 

The second major class is Matra, and it consists of those who will become the professionals of Velor. Engineers, artists, architects and others who have been selected for creativity and high intelligence.

 

The last level Brava is for ordinary workers, including most of the bureaucrats that make up the government.

 

--Library of Scribes-

 

“Bogey, contact bearing zero-one-five mark zero-three six. Target angle zero-eight-eight. Range one point six million kilometers and closing. Speed point five cee!”

 

“Why didn’t we detect them before now,” the Commander demanded!” They are right on top of us!”

 

“One point four million kilos and closing! Target was powered down and adrift Commander Le Vasseur, Raiders often use that tactic. Letting their prey come to them and then taking them by surprise,” the Tactical Officer reported.

 

“Well, we are about to ruin their day. X.O*. Set condition one!”

 

“Set condition one, aye ma’am,” the second in command acknowledged, removing a microphone from its cradle.“ General quarters, general quarters! All hands man your battle stations. Set material condition ZEBRA throughout the ship. Now set general quarters!”

 

“TAO.**Threat assessment?”

 

“It’s an old Corillian gunship. Class two lasers. Six short range comet missiles. Sensors do not detect any nuclear capability.”

 

“A gunship? They are making a run at the Bellerophon with a gunship?”

 

“Zebra time plus one,” a disembodied voice came from a speaker in the ceiling.

 

“Hull plates polarized.”

 

“Weapons systems active”

 

“Torpedoes ready”

 

“Two more bogey’s detected,” the TAO interrupted.

 

“Where,” the Commander demanded!

 

“Coming in from over the north magnetic pole. They were hidden there. Powered down letting the planet’s magnetic field shield their mass from our sensors.”

 

“Zebra, time plus two,” the voice from the speaker announced.

 

“Frack! Two more bogies. Coming in from the south magnetic pole. We are tracking five, I say five hostiles. Closing fast”, the Tactical officer reported.

 

“Recall Lieutenant Vyr-Na,” the Commander ordered. “Get our Protector back up here! Now! Break Orbit. Course zero-zero-six! Full impulse! We need some elbow room!”

 

“Setting course zero zero six,” the helmsman responded.

 

“They’re jamming us! They’re jamming. I can’t get a signal out. Short range and long range are both blocked,” the communications officer reported.

 

“Zebra time plus three---material condition zebra is set throughout the ship!”

 

“Hang on everyone,” Commander Qur-ik,” told her bridge crew. “It’s going to be a bumpy ride!”

 

 

 *executive officer

 

** tactical officer

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

“Protectors, more formally named Planetary Protectors, are the most physically adept of Velorians and they are always born of genetic class P1. They are invariably female as only the female gender is capable of the levels of strength and resistance to injury, not to mention energy storage. Protector genes are selected for quiet (but not necessary deep) intelligence, versatility and resourcefulness, strength, endurance and profound resistance to injury. Their superior genetics affords them nearly total invulnerability to all known physical hazards when off their home worlds. They are also chosen for bravery and a willingness to engage in lethal combat, the later trait having been largely bred out of anyone not possessing Prima-class genetics.”

 

--Library of Scribes-

 

 

Protector Vyr-Na descended down through beyond hurricane force winds. The hundred year cycle storm seemed almost a living thing, determined to make the young blonde yield to its power. The superwoman however was on a mission and would not be deterred, and she made the necessary adjustments in her flight path to keep her heading toward the damaged space freighter.

 

Suddenly breaking through the upper cloud layer, the winds violently shifted to the opposite direction, catching Vyr-Na off guard. She tumbled ferociously out of control, rolling backwards head over heels for several seconds; the super-storm’s sudden reversal taking her dozens of miles off of her intended course.

 

“Now THAT was unpleasant,” she thought to herself, as she stabilized, then pushed forward and continued her descent.

 

Without warning she would hit wind shear, driving her downward at hundreds of miles per hour, only to then enter an updraft which would shove the Velorian upward again. Again and again she corrected for the unpredictable weather, doggedly continuing her journey. Visibility was poor, and she was almost on the crash site before seeing it. The entire forward section of the vessel’s hull was split, exposing its interior to the hostile surface conditions. The stern however, appeared intact, and it was there, if there were still survivors, she expected to find them.

 

Vyr-Na entered and closed the airlock door behind her, feeling a bit anxious as it cycled—equalizing the atmosphere to match the interior of the stricken vessel. It took nearly a minute, then the inner door opened and she stepped into engineering, where she discovered not the two crew members she expected, but four armored men pointing rather nasty looking high tech rifles at her.

 

“What the hell,” Vyr-Na said in disbelief? “Boys. Unless those guns are made of chocolate, I’d advise you to put them down, and then someone can tell me what the frack is going on here. Cause, if keep pointing them at me, I am going to make you eat them!”

 

* * *

In Orbit

 

“They have locked on to us. Incoming missiles, multiple vectors,” the Tactical Officer reported as calmly.

 

“Point defense systems—take them out,” the Commander ordered! Hellfire missiles tubes one and two. Target the closest of the hostiles and fire! What are we facing? Identify bogies!”

 

“One bulk cruiser and a frigate coming in from the northern pole. Two frigates approaching from the southern region. A short range gunship closing bearing zero-four-seven,” the Tactical Officer responded.

 

“Pulse cannon fire for effect. Set the close in weapon’s systems for auto fire,” the Commanding Officer ordered. “Raiders don’t have these kinds of resources,” she said, directing her comment to the executive officer. “I don’t know what is really going on here, but whatever it is, it isn’t good.

 

The Bellerophon shuddered as it began taking hits. Its Vendorian steel hull remained intact, resisting the impacts that were occurring with greater frequency and accuracy as the enemy vessels drew closer. The two ships coming in from above the planet’s equator and the two others from below, with the planet itself behind them, severely limited the options for the Bellerophon to maneuver.

 

“Vyr-Na is going to be on her own for a little while,” Commander Qur-ik said. “Which seems to be the plan. Helmsman, set a near miss course past the gunship. Flank speed! Tactical-use the long-range weapons to keep the ‘heavies’ off our ass, and direct the close in weapons systems against the gunship when they get in range.

 

“All ahead flank aye,” the helmsman acknowledged. “Adjusting heading to course two, six eight, mark four four two.”

 

“Whose ships are those? I need identification,” the Commander ordered.

 

“All four ships are Arion design,” the tactical officer reported. All are obsolete and no longer in service in the Arion fleet. These old ships were mostly decommissioned, but a number of them were sold to some of the non-aligned worlds. Governments who want or who need military capabilities beyond their own technology.

 

“Great. They could be from any one of a dozen worlds on the rim then,” the commanding officer lamented. “Well, let’s get out of here so we can get back. Something is going on down on the planet’s surface,” Qur-ik surmised, “and I want to know just what the hell that is!”

 

* * *

 

Planetside

 

 

Vyr-Na was taken off of her feet by the coordinated attack of the team of armored men. All four weapons struck her in the chest simultaneously, slamming her violently into the thick casing of the ships number one main engine..

 

“Nunnnng,” Vyr-Na grunted, as her invulnerable body struck unyielding metal. While she was uninjured, her landing was awkward, and she had no time to recover before the Assault Team opened fire again, highly accurate gun fire finding its mark. Round after round of spent uranium projectiles struck her, with a periodic armor piercing round in the mix..

 

Her four assailants professionally took position in the cramped engineering space, utilizing the equipment for cover, pressing their assault. The concentration of firepower directed at the blonde woman was terrifying, and the sounds deafening in the enclosed space of the engine room.

 

The Velorian Protector pressed her hand against a bulkhead, and rose to her full height of two meters. With their element of surprise spent, she now easily repelled the attack, rounds bouncing harmlessly off of her invulnerable skin –   some tearing through delicate instruments and some ricocheting wildly off of the engine room bulkheads and heavier equipment.

 

“I told you what was going to happen if you opened fire,” she said, as she almost casually moved in the direction of her nearest attacker. “The first one who tells me what this is all about gets to keep their spleen.”

 

Almost as if in reply, all four men discarded their weapons, each snatching up a bulky, almost primitive looking assault rifle. The weapon had a short flat rectangular barrel with a slit at the end in place of the traditional round pipe shaped configuration. It had a bulky magazine, and made a “chink-chink-chink-chink-chink” sound as it rapidly fired thin coin sized disks at the woman.

 

Dozens of the razor sharp projectiles found their mark by the second, shredding the Velorian’s uniform. Rounds that missed their mark sliced through pipes and equipment, or became embedded in the walls. Those that did strike, however, did not so much as scratch her skin.

 

From the waist up, the Velorian warrior was nearly naked. Remnants of her costume hung from her arms and shoulders, leaving most of her upper body exposed. Her breasts seemed to defy gravity, and her unblemished skin had a slightly golden tan to it. As a Velorian Protector, she was genetically engineered perfection, inside and out.

 

“My turn,” Lieutenant Vyr-Na announced.

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR

 

Only females can become Protectors because of their more efficient muscles and greater energy storage. Given the prodigious appetite that their super-human physiques have for energy to power their muscles, what was formally the female mammary gland has been modified to serve as an energy storage organ instead of a lactating organ. Other fatty tissues of their body also store orgone energy for later use, but unless a male is greatly overweight (essentially unheard of for a Velorian), a female will be able to carry far greater energy.

 

--Library of Scribes-

 

 

Again the Bellerophon shuddered as another missile made it past the point defense systems and detonated against the hull.

 

“Bogies one and two are closing,” the Tactical Officer reported. “Target angle zero-five-five. Bogies three and have changed course, and are taking a flanking position.”

 

“Very well,” the Commanding Officer acknowledged.

 

“What the frack is this all about,” the Executive Officer asked?” While he knew there would be no definitive answer, he somehow felt the need to vocalize his confusion.

 

“They are pushing us away from the planet,” the senior officer replied. “Trying to isolate our Protector maybe?”

 

“Who ever they are. And what would they gain by isolating the Lieutenant?”

 

“Hell if I know. Who ever they are, their ships are too old and obsolete to be in service in the Arion fleet, and too advanced to be Raiders,” the Bellerophon’s C.O. noted. “And only an insane person would deliberately antagonize a Protector.”

 

Moving over to the tactical station, she scanned the displays with an experienced eye. “Has the gunship adjusted its course to get out of our way yet?”

 

“No Ma’am,” the TAO responded. “We are closing on Bogie five”

 

As if on cue the automated short range weapons began firing on the smaller vessel.

 

“Something’s not right. Whoever is on that boat has got to know we’re going to run over them. They should be pissing on themselves trying to get out of our way. Unless it’s…”

 

“A trap,” the Executive Officer finished the thought.

 

“Helm, hard starboard! Adjust course to put as much distance from Bogie Five as you can. Emergency flank speed..”

 

“Changing course to zero three zero relative,” the helmsman acknowledged.

 

“Very well. Let’s hope that it’s not too…”

 

The captain never finished her sentence. The ceiling above suddenly exploded downward and the Bellerophon’s bridge shattered. Then almost as violently, the atmosphere vented into open space, drawing most of the bridge crew into the hard vacuum of infinity. A heart beat later, if there had been any hearts still beating, everything went pure white as another; now silent explosion filled the airless command center of the Velorian Cruiser.

 

 

When the Bellerophon changed course, it cued the heavily modified gunship to open fire point blank with twelve short range missiles. The phalanx overwhelmed the warship’s defensive capabilities and warhead after warhead detonated against the hull, striking the same point again and again, until the hull plating was compromised. While the attack was devastating to the Bellerophon’s bridge, the remainder of the vessel to be relatively undamaged, though main power failed, leaving the vessel adrift and tumbling through the void.

 

 

CHAPTER FIVE

 

 

Velorian Protector Strength: The first insertion of genetic enhancement was intended to increase the Velorian’s strength. Then the tendons and ligaments were similarly strengthened, and the nature of their bones was changed by replacing the calcium matrix with an allotropic form of diamond.

 

Retinal projection: This trait, adapted into the invulnerable eyes of a Velorian, requires a great deal of energy to be channeled up the superconducting optic nerve to the eye, enabling the rods and cones to become emitters instead of receptors. Measuring in the megawatt range, it is capable of melting solid steel in seconds, and rock in tens of seconds. Energy depletion, however, is a serious problem if this ability is used too frequently

 

--Library of Scribes-

 

 

The fingers of Lieutenant Vyr-Na’s left hand were embedded in the chest plate of her assailant’s armor, holding the struggling figure immobile. Her hair flailed about wildly as her right fist hammered again and again against the alloyed shell, stress fractures growing to cracks, and cracks becoming splits.

The other three members of his team were frantically firing round after round into her. Energy bolts crackled uselessly across her perfectly formed back, while the projectiles ricocheted off of indestructible skin. When her opponent’s screams fell silent, and his struggles ceased; she released her grip letting his inert form drop to the deck with a metallic ‘clank’.

 

“I told you what I was going to do if you pulled the trigger,” she said to the remaining three. The Protector’s voice had an unidentifiable quality to it. Not anger. Not pleasure. But it was real and it was chilling.

 

“Fall back!” The closest of the remaining attackers gave a hand signal and all three ceased firing and began their retreat.

 

“You’ve got a chain of command. Good. Always nice to know who has the answers to my questions,” Vyr-Na said pointing to the man who gave the retreat command.

 

Lunging forward with inhuman speed, she struck him front dead center, just below the ribcage, with the palm of her hand. He was taken off of his feet, the blow sending him flying backwards. He struck a bulkhead violently, and dropped to the floor, where he lay unmoving.

 

“Who is next,” she asked? Tweedle Dumb? Or Tweedle Dumber?”

 

Seeing their leader go down so quickly seemed to break the discipline of the remaining pair, and they almost tripped over each other in their efforts to distance themselves from the half naked blonde. Despite their best efforts the Lieutenant grabbed the one closest to her by the back of his neck, casually flipping him backwards over her shoulder.

 

 Her enemy went tumbling head over heels through the air slamming violently into a cryo-fluid storage tank, rupturing its walls. Super cold liquids spewed onto Vyr-Na’s bare skin, quickly filling the room with a thick fog, and freezing the moisture in the air, making it snow inside the engine room. Within seconds the visibility in the forward half of the engine room went to zero.

 

The last of the assault team dropped to one knee, and brought his weapon up to his shoulder, tracking back and forth, occasionally firing blindly into the cloud of moisture. “She cannot have survived that,” he said to himself. “No one can survive something like that.”

 

Suddenly twin beams of energy lanced out of the artificial blizzard, striking the rifle, causing it to overheat and explode. The weapon’s proximity to the armored man’s head combined with the force of the explosion immediately rendered him unconscious. Had he remained functional, he may have appreciated the superior visual acuity of the Velorian as well as what the layman often refers to as, heat vision.

 

Stepping out of the mist, Lieutenant Vyr-Na was completely white. With each movement large flakes of ice cracked and fell from her body, shattering into smaller pieces as they struck the deck plates. A thin white vapor drifted off of her skin as the moisture in the air came into contact with her super cold flesh. Despite the horrific cold the blonde was not only uninjured, but seemed almost unaware of the severe environment from which she was emerging.

“Very good Protector,” a very masculine voice boomed in the enclosed space of the engine room. “Most impressive. I cannot tell you how pleased I am at how quickly you dispatched my men. I so often find myself disappointed when a person falls short of their reputation. It is most gratifying when I see someone live up to my expectations.”

 

“I am so glad that I have been able to please you today,” Vyr-Na replied sarcastically to the figure looking down on her from the upper level catwalk.

 

“I doubt that is true Velorian. Interesting though how prophetic your words are. I will have to remind you of them later.”

 

“Setting aside your delusions of grandeur for a moment,” the blonde replied, “just who the frack are you, and why this elaborate ploy?”

 

“Oh please forgive me my manners,” he answered. “Introductions are in order. I am Imperator Ursik. Though you shall be calling me by an entirely different title soon enough. And as for my motivations? They will be made known in their own time, I assure you.”

 

 

CHAPTER SIX

 

Velorians are universally blonde (although the exact shade can vary day to day depending on energy absorption levels), phenomenally fit, and their skin appears to have a permanent golden tan. Their eyes are usually a brilliant shade of blue, sometimes with an aquamarine or violet accent, their eyes seemingly glowing with their own light. Green eyes are a genetic defect that have been observed a handful of times over the last thousand years, but such Velorian’s generally do not survive the birthing process as they are considered flawed

 

--Library of Scribes-

 

Lieutenant Vyr-Na took a moment to assess the man looking down on her from the catwalk. Imperator Ursik stood at least two meters in height with a broad chest, and shoulders. The corded muscles in his forearms were pronounced, easily visible to even to someone without the Velorian’s enhanced vision. He wore a dull metal breastplate over his upper torso, and metallic half gloves that covered his hands just past his knuckles, leaving his fingers exposed.

 

Ursik’s long black hair was tied into a ponytail, and his perfectly white teeth formed a smile that projected no warmth. He wore a full goatee with moustache. His skin was deeply tanned, and he projected the appearance of a physically powerful man who spent a great deal of time outdoors.

 

Ursik’s eyes however, were his most striking, and his most unnerving, feature. Black on black. From the whites of his eyes which were actually inky black, to the only slightly less black eyeballs locked onto the Protectors vibrant green ones.

 

“I cannot express how much I have looked forward to this moment Velorian,” his voice boomed. “Your life as you have known it before now is dead. I am your Master. You will soon refer to me as such. You will kneel at my feet and will obey me without question.

 

“You can’t be serious? Who really talks like that,” Vyr-Na replied sarcastically. I mean. You are WAY over the top. Have you been reading, ‘How to be a Super Villain’ or something? You set all this up to capture me, and then speak like a character from some B holo-vid?”

 

“You flatter yourself.” Ursik’s voice expressed no more emotion than if he were ordering dinner. “My interest in you is no more than recreational. Some powerful men relieve their stress by hunting. Others relax by keeping a harem, or concubine. I prefer to combine the two concepts. And I assure you. I do not practice catch and release.”

 

Taking a few steps down the walkway to gain a better view of the blonde woman below, he continued. “You are merely a distraction. An indulgence I am allowing myself while the true genius of my plan is executed. The capture of a Velorian ship of the line.”

 

“The Bellerophon,” Vyr-Na asked, suddenly serious?“ What do you mean? What are you planning?”

 

“I have done more than merely planned Protector. Events are in motion. By now my elite troops have taken the, Bellerophon. They have boarded and secured what is left of it as well as any surviving crew. It is mine. They are mine. You are mine.”

 

Vyr-Na felt a sudden panic sink to the bottom of her stomach like a chunk of lead. The man was obviously deranged. This type of insanity, along with the resources he had demonstrated so far, was extremely dangerous. She was reasonably certain that the Bellerophon had not actually been captured, and this was an idle boast on his part. But it was possible that Bellerophon had sustained damage if he had made such an attempt. There may even have been casualties.

 

“I don’t have time to play games with you,” Vyr-Na said. All levity was gone from her voice now. “This is over. You hear me? Over!”

 

Flexing her legs she launched into flight, rocketing toward Ursik like a guided missile. About a quarter of the way across the expanse however she felt herself slam into an invisible wall. Her first thought was that she had impacted a force field. That impression was immediately replaced by confusion as she felt herself being dragged downward, impacting the deck with a hard metallic BANG.

 

“Gravity,” Ursik said. “You have entered an intense artificially generated gravity field. What you are experiencing is a direct result of my intellect. The genius of Imperator Ursik.”

 

The half naked woman remained motionless on the floor for several moments, then, with a grunt, rolled over face down. Placing both of her palms on the warped deck plates, her biceps swelled slightly as she pressed off of the deck and slowly she came to her feet. Standing fully erect her blonde hair was pulled downward, all of its body and bounce negated by the effect of the gravity field.

 

“An interesting trick, but I’m still standing,” Vyr-Na replied, as she slowly backed up toward the entry point.

 

“It is far more than that”, Ursik answered. Stepping casually off of the upper catwalk’s grating, he slowly drifted down to the lower level, and effortlessly walked toward the Velorian.

 

“There is no point in trying to retreat back to what you erroneously believe to be a boundary to normal gravity. The field is centered on you now. It is going to stay with you like your own shadow,” he informed her.

 

“A field we both occupy,” she pointed out, swinging a roundhouse toward Ursik’s head.

 

“But not one we share equally,” he replied as her fist struck an invisible barrier between them, leaving him untouched.

 

 

CHAPTER SEVEN

 

Invulnerability:  The result of this enhancement is that Velorians have skin that feels even softer than human, but its unique cellular matrix stiffens in direct proportion to the force being applied against it. The upper limit of that cellular strength is nearly unlimited as it uses nonlinear atomic binding forces, making a Velorian’s body nearly indestructible when under stress.

 

--Library of Scribes-

 

The Velorian Protector’s fist delivered enough power to shatter granite as it impacted against the protective barrier between her and Ursik. Vyr-Na was of course capable of delivering a massively more powerful blow, but she did not want her opponent’s blood spewing on her by having her hand smash through his skull; so she used what she estimated to be just enough power to crack it open without exiting the back of his head.

 

To her surprise however her punch impacted short of its target by mere millimeters. There was a subtle ‘shimmering’ effect where her fist struck, leaving her arrogant opponent untouched.

 

“Again,” he boasted, “witnesses the genius of Ursik!” With surprising speed and dexterity for a man of his considerable mass, Ursik delivered a powerful one-two combination; catching Vyr-Na in the chin sending her stumbling back two steps. With her enhanced eyesight and reflexes, she had seen the punch coming, but had been slowed by the gravity field just enough that she failed to evade the blows. When his fist struck her face, she felt a ‘kinetic kick’ of sorts—an effect she attributed to the unusual gloves the man wore. It was also apparent that the gravity field which pulled against the statuesque blonde, was having no effect whatever on her opponent.

 

“Witness this,” the Protector replied as she leapt forward delivering a much more powerful blow to his chest. There was a loud ‘KRAK’ sound as her fist struck center mass, and his protective shield glowed brightly with deep ripples passing over his torso. The powerful man was taken off of his feet and was thrown violently back four meters, his flight abruptly terminated when he impacted the bulkhead. His personal shield remained intact however, and it took him but moments to regain his footing and composure.

 

Imperator Ursik was actually smiling as a very determined Vyr-Na purposefully strode toward him, now ignoring the gravitational forces pulling against her. She had adjusted to the change in her environment and other than its effect on her appearance, pulling at her hair and tattered clothing, she showed no sign that the increased gravity was an issue for her any longer.

 

 “Finally,” he bellowed. His rich voice filling the room. “Finally a challenge has been presented by someone worthy of me!” Taking a defensive stance, he turned slightly to the side, minimizing the amount of his body exposed to the approaching blonde. His black inky eyes were locked on hers as she closed the distance, as he continued to smile. His left hand came down to his belt, and he pressed one of four studs on the buckle, his unblinking eyes never breaking contact with hers.

 

Immediately Vyr-na felt the already massive gravity pulling against her increase dramatically. Her body began a subtle transformation as she drew upon her energy reserves. Muscle tone became more pronounced. Her biceps more defined. Her calf muscles more cut, as still she doggedly continued her march on Ursik.

 

 “Do you know what the problem with force fields are,” she asked? “They require massive amounts of energy in order to maintain their integrity. Sooner or later, and I am betting sooner, your battery is going to run down. When that happens there is going to be nothing to stop me from expediting an introduction to your chosen deity!”

 

Clenching both hands together into a single fist, Vyr-Na swung an incredibly powerful blow from left to right across her enemy’s face. Again his shield flared brightly, waves rippling through the energy field as Ursik staggered back. Pressing forward, she struck again bringing her clenched fists back from right to left, and rapidly back again, driving her opponent backwards. “It’s just a matter of time and it’s over for you!”

 

 

CHAPTER EIGHT

 

Vyr-Na violently hammered at Ursik’s personal force shield subjecting it to almost immeasurable forces. Each of her blows caused the field to flare brightly, with ripples spreading out from each point of impact. So rapid and intense was the assault, that the previous distortion did not have time to disperse before another, and yet another would form.

 

Inside the protective barrier the heads-up-display (HUD), which was projected against, and was only visible within the field, was unreadable due to these distortions. Even without access to the data, Ursik knew the assault against his force shield would soon take it to its limits. It was critical to get his opponent to break off her offensive to give it time to cycle. To allow these forces to be equally distributed across its entire surface where they would bleed off harmlessly.

 

Pressing the control on his belt again, time itself seemed to slow as the gravitational forces increased exponentially. Each succeeding punch the Velorian delivered took a fraction of a second longer than the one before it. The denser air visibly pulsed as Vyr-Na’s fist plowed through making it undulate in sync with her now slowing attack.

 

“You…cant…<gasp> last much longer…now,” she wheezed; her voice distorted and deeper in the pressurized air.

 

“In this, as in most things the Protectorate interlopes in,” Ursik answered, “you are most wrong.” In a move that defied a man of his immense size, Ursik moved out of the way of the blonde’s next swing with the grace of a dancer—obviously still unaffected by the forces at work against his opponent.

 

“Can you feel it yet? It’s not just your arms and legs you know. Not just the skin and hair and clothing that the gravity is pulling against. It is your internal organs as well. You can feel it squeezing your heart can you not? Crushing your lungs? One cannot help but wonder what effect it is having on your kidneys.

 

The young Velorian, now drawing fully on her energy reserves, was physically transformed by the process. Orgone fueled muscles became fully defined. Muscle on top of muscle became visible, and her skin almost seemed to glow as she bulked up under the demand for more strength.

 

“Instead of wondering about the inner me,” Vyr-na replied, determined not to confirm the accuracy of his assessment of her situation, “let me give you something more important to occupy your small mind.”

 

Twin beams of her heat vision lashed out from her eyes, striking the massive man at chest level. The dense air rapidly expanded, and then collapsed in on itself, creating a deafening thunderclap as the air was split by tremendous heat, followed by the vacuum filling itself violently.

 

Energy rolled angrily off of the protective barrier with tendrils erupting and twisting, resembling miniature solar flares rising from its surface. His force field flared brighter than ever, and it seemed for a moment that its failure would take only a few seconds.

 

The sounds of the downed starship’s fusion reactors could be heard screaming in the distance through thick bulkheads. Then, just when it seemed that it could withstand no more, and the woman’s strategy was going to bear fruit, Ursik’s force field stabilized leaving him safe inside it.

 

In her minds eye she had seen a gaping hole in his chest where his heart used to be. She had imagined his blood boiling away, with smoke and steam drifting out from the wound. The reality of her opponent weathering the attack gave her pause, and she suddenly felt her confidence wavering. Still, Vyr-Na pressed the attack, reaching deep within and redoubling her efforts to overwhelm his defenses with her retinal projection abilities.

 

Ursik showed no outward sign of alarm or concern as the assault on his defenses continued, despite the data on his heads up display informing him of just how serious his situation was. And it was getting more so with every passing second. Not only was his force field, or as he referred to it his electromagnetic armor, being strained to its limits; so were the three dedicated ship’s fusion generators being clandestinely used to supplement his force field’s power supply.

 

“Time to end this,” he announced in a confident voice, increasing the gravity field to its full density, subjecting the Velorian Protector to it’s maximum and horrible potential. The remaining five of the vessels generators joined the first three in a harmonious shriek of protest as they delivered more power than their designers had ever intended them to provide. It was everything or nothing for Ursik. Total victory or utter defeat. It was his most thrilling hunt to date.

 

To an observer though, he watched with a detached and almost clinical demeanor as her heat vision suddenly stopped, and the blonde staggered under the horrific gravity field. The heavy metal casings of the ships engines began to twist and distort. Loose items were drawn to her. Debris, equipment, and even the unmoving armored form of one of her earlier opponents were drawn toward her, all crushed or compressed as they approached.

 

Vyr-na, a Velorian Protector, and one of the strongest sentient beings to ever live, stood frozen for a moment, then was pulled to the warped deck despite her determination to remain standing. She caught herself on her hands and knees, her powerful biceps straining and quivering in defiance of what she refused to accept as a greater force. Steam rose from her skin, only to be drawn down by the abominable gravity. The veins in her arms, legs and neck were distended, and every muscle in her body was cut and defined. She was physical, visual perfection. And she was on her knees before Ursik.

 

The situation was as unbelievable as it was humiliating to her.

 

Gravity at levels that nothing living had ever survived pulled downward upon her, and what was left of her uniform was ripped from her body, revealing all of her to her enemy. Her efforts to raise her head to ascertain his position only brought excruciating pain to the back of her neck. Her view was limited to the remnants of her costume on the floor and her hands, which she could see cracking the metal deck plates beneath her. Somewhere in the back of her mind she wondered about the paradox of how much force it took to put her in this position, yet she was not pulled through the floor. How was it that the deck did not collapse under this much gravity?

 

Her hair felt like it was being pulled out by the roots and her arms began trembling uncontrollably as she struggled bring herself erect. The toes of a pair of black boots came into her limited field of vision, placing Ursik only inches from her now. But given her situation it may have well as been a kilometer, with her inability to move her arms without being dragged face down into the diamond-patterned deck below her.

 

“You are in the unique situation to appreciate this,” he told her as he removed a collar crafted from the purest gold from a pouch strapped to his leg. “My metallurgists have created this for you .It is impossible to remove any further impurities from the metal. Your collar has been made from the purest virgin gold that can be produced, and it was created specifically for you.

 

As Ursik placed the collar around her neck Vyr-Na felt her strength fail with alarming speed. It took just seconds to fade completely and she was brutally driven downward. For a moment she was award of every square inch of her body being crushed within an unyielding fist---then nothing as the world went black.

 

 

CHAPTER NINE

 

Soldier had had no sense of movement as the breaching pod he rode fell through space, guided by the most basic of navigation systems. With no window to look out from, he lacked the means to sense its movement until the final moments when the braking engine would fire.

 

Neither he, nor the thirty-nine other men in the pod showed any sign of apprehension for what was about to happen. No one fidgeted. None of the men seated in the small uncomfortable chairs that ran along the walls of the conveyance displayed a nervous habit. No one made eye contact. Nobody’s heart raced in anticipation. The only sound that broke the eerie silence was an occasional maneuvering thruster firing with a hard “THUMPH.”

 

 No one spoke.

 

Soldier was not always known simply as ‘soldier’. Just five days earlier he had gone by the name Desco and he had worked the family farm. Just as his father and his grandfather before him. Desco had a girl he intended to marry as soon as they both came of age. He had been concerned that it was going to rain before they could harvest the crop, but even more so that his beloved’s father would somehow find out just how much ‘interest’ he had actually shown in his daughter.

 

But that was before he had been conscripted into the Myrmidons where he immediately began the standard three days of recruit training. Desco received his surgical implant, was fitted for the standardized auto-injectors. After a solar day to heal, basic training was uploaded into the chip now embedded into his brain .Day three was spent with the quartermaster where he was equipped and the reservoirs for his injectors were filled. By day three Desco was gone, replaced by Soldier.

 

The pod, designated two of three performed its programmed roll over maneuver to achieve proper orientation, which was immediately followed by its braking engine ‘lighting off’.

 

Soldier felt his body weight triple, and seconds later the heavy impact of the barely space worthy craft slamming into the hull of the Velorian warship. Explosive charges fired anchoring pitons into the skin of the targeted ship where upon a system of winches, cables, and hydraulics pulled it tightly against the outside of the vessel. Once anchored and in position shaped charges detonated; breaching the hull of the Bellerophon.

 

The inside of the space-borne personnel carrier filled with acidic smelling smoke, as Soldier and the rest of the boarding party poured through the opening just created. He heard the sounds of two more distant THUMPHS, which his implant identified as the audio signature indicating the arrival of the two other breaching pods. He quickly mustered with three other men, each of which he simply identified also as Soldier.

 

Soldier knew they needed to be away from the entry point and spread out before ship’s force could organize a response. From his basic training he knew this would give them a tactical advantage. The enemy would have to divide itself into smaller units, or perhaps even individuals to deal with a disbursed invading force inside their vessel. It was important that they as invaders did not engage at a chokepoint where their enemy could concentrate on a counter offensive.

 

Ten teams, consisting of four men each, quickly spread out. With three pods, this allocated one hundred twenty “soldiers” to hunt down the surviving nineteen Bellerophon crewmembers. Soldier carried his weapon exactly as he had been trained. He was an expert marksman, and was totally familiar with every aspect of every piece of the small arsenal he carried. Possessing the battle experience of the past Myrmidonswhom his implant had been placed into before him, Soldier was already a hardened combat veteran.

 

 He heard the struggle before he saw her. A blonde female was engaged in combat with another of the ‘Quads’. He immediately ascertained that she was not a Protector, but still classified her threat assessment as high. He was no longer capable of appreciating the oxymoronic nature of referring to any Velorian as ordinary, so Soldier instead made a very precise assessment of her abilities and her limitations. Even the most ordinary of Velorians, are stronger, faster, and more resilient than most any other species in the galaxy—including his own.

 

The Velorian was putting up a fierce fight even when the odds suddenly shifted to eight to one against her. Soldier was just bringing his weapon to bear, when the woman hurled an oblong piece of machinery approximately a meter and a half in length at him, which despite his now enhanced reflexes and speed caught him in the left shoulder, shattering bone.

 

There was a blinding pain and his vision went to red, as auto-injectors mixed then administered a potent combination of drugs from his armor’s reservoirs. The pain, numbness and shock had not yet taken hold when it was interrupted, and the wounded Myrmidon  regained the use of his arm despite compound fractures and milk white bone sticking out of a gash in his composite armor.

 

With no discernable delay, Soldier again brought his modified assault rifle to bear, placing the battling blonde in his sights. Without conscious thought he paused his breathing and gently squeezed the trigger, the report of the weapon deafening in the enclosed space. Gold filaments with minute particles of cutting diamonds embedded in them struck the woman, entangling her.

 

The effect, while not immediate, was rapid. As the shocked woman struggled against her assailants, more and more of her clothing shredded. Unlike a Velorian Protector’s uniform, hers was not designed for combat and it was sliced to ribbons by the tiny diamond particles. Contributing to her rapidly deteriorating situation, the more of her skin that became exposed to the gold filaments the weaker she became.

 

The woman was hit by a second weapon, and then a third. Soldier knew that they were going to be victorious in this skirmish. Still the enemy remained verbally defiant and continued her vigorous resistance, despite the now irrevocable shift in the balance of power. Both quads descended upon her like a pack of lupus forcing the woman to the deck.

 

Soldier unclipped the orgone generator from his belt, and thumbed the device on at its maximum intensity It was an older design. A remnant from an earlier age. Rod shaped and six inches in length--three inches in diameter it was designed for function, not esthetics.

 

Desco would have been mortified by the mere thought of, other than his betrothed, viewing a woman’s private parts, much less performing the act of forcing the orgone generator inside her. Without emotion, Soldier did just that.

 

The woman screamed as her senses and nervous system were overwhelmed by the massive amounts of orgone energy flooding her body. Far more than was necessary to incapacitate her. She was suddenly and uncontrollably sexually aroused, her own ultra-feminine physiology over stimulated. In mere seconds she had been transformed from a woman fighting for her life, to one whose need for sexual satisfaction was literally so great, all she could do was writhe and moan with desire. Her screams and pleas for relief were echoed throughout the Bellerophon as different versions of this scenario played out again and again.

 

 

CHAPTER TEN

 

It had been three days since Vyr-Na had been placed in the wooden crate, with its hinged lid secured with a shackle lock. Three days of pure hell.

 

Having succumbed to an obscenely intense gravity field, her body hurt everywhere. For the entire first day her fingers and toes ached like they had been crushed in a hydraulic vice, and she felt like every bone in her body had been individually twisted back and forth in opposite directions repeatedly. Even her eardrums had been pushed to the breaking point introducing her to a totally new form of agony.

 

To further add to her miseries she was now totally immobilized, and unable to find the slightest relief by repositioning herself more than inches. Her wrists were manacled tightly together behind her back, separated by a thick rigid rod only two inches in length. A set of wide metal cuffs had been placed around her upper arms just above her elbows connected together by an only slightly longer rod, forcing her shoulders back and her chest forward. A dull metal band was locked around her waist with a rigid metal bar running up the center of her back, connecting the three components together as a single unit.

 

When she had been forced into the crate she had been barely able to stand, but two burly men whose sweat smelled of spoiled meat, had supported her as a short chain was fastened connecting the back of her collar to an eyebolt sunk into the rear of the shipping container. Upon its closure, the crate was then reoriented from standing on end to lengthwise on the deck. What had been the back wall of the wooden box was now its floor, and the floor became the vertical wall at her feet. Her bound and already strained arms and shoulders suddenly bore her full body weight as she lay face up, the eye bolt pressing into the back of the collar, and her neck.

 

Three times a day the crate would be opened for just a few minutes. Two of the most unprofessional appearing soldiers she had ever laid eyes upon kept unfamiliar weapons trained on her as her gag was removed and she was given one ladle of water to drink. It had a salty taste to it, and the guards would make a show of spitting into the bucket before her ration was dipped out. She tried not to think of what else they may have done to the water.

 

The girl holding the bucket looked to be no more than sixteen years of age. She wore a torn and dirty dress that like its wearer obviously had seen better days. The young girl seemed frightened and was apologetic, as Vyr-na would eagerly drink the water, which was never enough to fully satisfy her thirst. The prisoner’s pleas for more were always denied, the girl stating in a timid voice that she was only allowed to give each of them a single serving, and she had to attend to the others quickly. Before the guards grew impatient, which would result in one of more of the others not receiving their scheduled ration.

 

The gag would then be put back in place and the crate closed, Vyr-na looking into the very young woman’s eyes, which seemed to beg for forgiveness as everything would plunge back into the hot, muggy, darkness.

 

By the end of what Vyr-na had no way of knowing was only the second day; she was desperate to be free. Every minute in the crate seemed endless, and it was followed by another, and yet another such minute. She silently prayed to the Galen for deliverance, promising to live a better life if rescue would just come quickly. Then she swore vengeance against those who had done this to her. Finally she had a renewal of defiance where she told herself she would not let this break her, only to have it falter and compromise into where she would just pretend to be broken. The cycle would then come full circle, with her again praying for rescue whereupon she would deliver a renewed dedication to her duties and good works.

 

On the third day following her defeat she heard the now familiar sound of a metal door being opened and footsteps approach. This time however instead of the lid to the crate opening, she felt it being lifted and heard grunting and cursing as an undetermined number of people hoisted it up. Whoever was carrying the container was careless in their task. Numerous times the wooden box was jarred violently sending shockwaves into the cruelly bound Protector inside. Vyr-na’s mind was drifting in and out of consciousness preventing her from determining how long, or how far she had been carried. The sudden sensation of falling refocused her thoughts just moments before her enclosure was roughly dropped the final few inches to a metallic deck.

 

There were scratching sounds as ropes or straps were dragged over the lid, and she could hear a “vwhiipppping”sound as they slid over the lid and were tied off securing the crate. The fallen Protector heard a door or hatch shut, then felt a change of air pressure as it sealed, followed minutes later by the rumble of reaction engines starting. The sound of the engines increased to over two hundred decibels and she was just beginning to fully comprehend that she was inside a shuttle of some sort, when launch occurred.

 

Vyr-Na immediately felt her body weight triple as the forces involved in the sudden acceleration crushed her. Immediately her memory flashed back to her battle with Ursik, and a feeling of panic replaced the emotional numbness she had been experiencing the last twenty-four hours. Fully energized she would scarcely notice three gees of gravity, but collared and exhausted as she was, three gravities were enough to squeeze her into unconsciousness again.

 

Vyr-Na awoke to a cool breeze and the smell of living air. While the recycled atmosphere on a spacecraft is carefully filtered, or “scrubbed” as it is called; there are always remnants of machine oils, sweat, and the hundreds of other smells that are dumped into the air. Most are removed, but a minute amount is unavoidably recycled through the system repeatedly. For anyone who has spent any serious time on a star vessel, the living air of a planet with its organic ecosystem at work is as unmistakable as it is welcome.

 

The sun was bright on her face and the Protector was squinting as she struggled to cope with the disorientation of her new surroundings. She was no longer in the transport crate and her bondage with its many associated discomforts had been greatly reduced. Her wrists were now manacled closely together in front of her, with a heavy chain running from the middle three links connecting the wrist cuffs together to an even thicker and heavier chain locked tightly around her waist. All were cast in gold, and they, as did her collar, shined brilliantly in the morning sunlight.

 

Blinking to adjust her eyes, she watched with some alarm as at least half a dozen crates identical to the empty one near her were loaded into the cargo area a ground transport.

 

“Good you are awake,” came a gruff voice, disrupting her thoughts. “Drink all of this,” Ursik ordered dropping a liter-john of water to the ground next to her. “Be sure to empty the canteen. You are dangerously dehydrated, and I would prefer you not collapse during my walk of glory.”

 

Vyr-Na wanted to tell him to have intercourse with himself. She wanted to kick him between his legs and watch him writhe in agony in the dirt. She wanted to know what the hell he meant by his walk of glory. But more than these things, she wanted the water.

 

Her fingers trembled as she uncapped the container; it’s outside slippery with condensation. The untainted liquid cooled her parched throat as she greedily gulped it down, pausing only when she felt a trickle on the side of her chin. She felt as if she was dying of thirst and she did not want to let a single drop go to waste. Ursik actually laughed with amusement when after the bottle was empty, she licked the plastic exterior for those droplets of water that had formed on its surface.

“Bring her to a standing position”, the Imperator ordered! “I want to make sure she can still walk.”

 

Two of the guards grabbed her by her upper arms and roughly dragged her unsteadily to her feet. It was then that she got the first realization of just how heavy the gold chains binding her actually were. It took her a few seconds to steady herself, but she was determined not to fall to the ground at the feet of men whom had used the crate she was in as a card table, and verbally taunted her while they pounded on it’s sides and lid for their amusement.

 

“Again, it is good to see something live up to its reputation,” Ursik commented as he walked up to her. Despite her above average height and muscularity, the man clearly was the more physically imposing of the two of them. She found herself looking up to meet his eye, and she suddenly came to the realization that she had forgotten, or perhaps failed to notice in the heat of battle just how big he actually was. He wore a black skintight tunic that was accented in white in the chest and lower arms. It fit like a second skin contouring and highlighting his muscular arms and chest. His black pants were equally form fitting, displaying perfectly formed calves and thighs. “A lesser specimen may have perished on the journey. Or been unable to recover from being bound for so long,” he continued. “You were the luck of the draw so to speak and it was entirely possible that you may have been the weakest link in the chain of Protectors patrolling the galaxy.”

 

“I am going to…” Vyr-Na started to threaten angrily.

 

“You are going to play your part in my plans,” he interrupted, squeezing her face in his powerful hand, middle finger and thumb pressed painfully into opposite cheeks. You will do nothing more. You will definitely do nothing less, I assure you!”

 

Nodding to the guards on either side of the captive, Ursik gave the order, “Gag her! It is time to proceed.”

 

The blonde struggled ineffectively, her superhuman abilities held in check by her restraints as a pungent black gag was forced into her mouth, pressing down on her tongue, flooding it with a pungent raw rubber taste. It was fastened in place with a brown leather cleave with straps that ran under her chin, around her cheeks, which was buckled out of reach behind her head.

 

Vyr-Na shook her head about, like a dog trying to dislodge a muzzle, her tangled shoulder length blonde hair, whipping about wildly. Her angry protests were distorted by the gag and became nothing more than a series of totally undecipherable grunts. Finally, exhausted by her tirade, she was forced to stop and she fell silent, breathing hard through her nose glaring at Ursik.

 

“You will follow me as I lead you through the streets of the city to the Public Gardens in the center of town. You will do this for two reasons. Not because I have ordered it. At this point you feel it your duty and responsibility to resist me and ultimately thwart me. It is what you have been trained to do. It is in your conditioning. This is literally what you were bred to do, though I suppose you prefer the more romantic term, ‘engineered’. I doubt you self image allows for the realization that in the most important ways, your creation is nothing more than the technique used for the breeding of a show animal.”

 

None the less, you shall do as I instruct,” Ursik continued as he placed a loop of hemp rope around the blonde’s neck, and drew the noose snug. “You will do it, because your conditioning as a Protector dictates it. This very moment I know how you are watching me. Observing your surroundings. You are assessing your situation,” he continued as he let out the almost two meters of rope, and tightened his grip on the line’s bitter end, ‘and weighing your options.’ Waiting for that opportunity. The longer you are my prisoner you presume the more likely it will be that that I, or one of those who serve me, will become complacent. Careless. Someone will make a mistake, and you will be ready to exploit that opportunity. Fortunes do not favor you at the moment, but you know that these things change. You know it is just a matter of time, whether it is within the hour, or perhaps weeks; and you will be in control. And perhaps you are correct.”

 

Vyr-Na felt herself being pulled forward, the noose tightening on her neck, as her captor began walking. She squelched a defiant thought where she contemplated just sitting down and refusing to move. But the contracting rope around her throat alone was reason enough to reconsider this as an effective form of resistance. He would probably just drag her through the streets to their destination, and unconscious she would be unable to observe her surroundings .As much as she hated to admit it, he was right. She did need to find the opening this madman was ranting about. She critically needed more information than she had right now. Not the least important being, where is the rest of the crew of the Bellerophon? If the packing crates she saw earlier did indeed contain her shipmates, she could at best only account for six of them. Her first priority was to locate and free her friends.

Ursik was right. Her time would come.