Not Safe for Work

 

A Continuation of The Mission

By Brantley, based in part on notes by Rob Nagle

 

[Chapter 8 – Old Count]

What has gone before: A hell of a lot. Binkley’s World has been liberated from the Aureans, but under the Theel’dara Initiative, Col. James Kim’Vallara has attempted to bring about reconciliation rather than retribution. One of the Auxiliary Protectors, Oon’ah B’Té, has fallen in love with Xanthra – supposedly just an Aurean comfort woman, but actually an experimental Prime. James has figured out the truth, but considers it too explosive to share – especially since his Velorian-Aurean partnership program has not set well with Binkleyan authorities or with the Protectors. The latter are also restive because they have been denied the services of a Messenger. When one named B’ruce finally arrives, he turns out to be a dud, severely traumatizing one Protector. Then James’ wife Bidu comes to visit – but with word that conservative forces back on Velor are setting him up for a fall. As if that weren’t bad enough, a second Messenger, Mar’ek, shows up with orders from Star Marshal Teri Raul’lan to end the program and liquidate the Aurean POWs,

 

"We can't let B'ruce get away with this," Shad'rah said. "Char could have died!"

"But what can we do," Bea'trice asked. Her voice was still shaking. She was their leader, and yet she seemed helpless.

"Throw dead fish at him?" Deb'ra ventured.

"He'd probably think that was a compliment," opined Mar'tha. “He’d eat them.”

“He wouldn’t eat Char,” Deb’ra sighed. “Or do anything else with her.”

Char’lene wasn’t among them. Bea’trice had given her compassionate leave.

"What I want to know is, whose idea was it to send him?" Car’ol wondered. "It had to be somebody at the Hall."

"Somebody who thinks auxiliaries are second-class Protectors," offered L'yn.

There was silence for a moment. They'd all been thinking that, but none had dared say it.

"We could send a formal protest," Bea'trice said. "But if what you say is true, we'd be wasting our time."

"We're as good as any Protectors," Shad'rah insisted. "We can't take this lying down."

"I'd like to take a real Messenger lying down," Tra'cy interjected.

That drew laughter, but only for a few moments.

"I think we can agree on one thing," said Bea'trice. "Nobody here has anything to do with B'ruce. We cut him off cold."

"Might as well cut off his dick, for all the good it's doing," muttered Fa'un.

"You'd probably be strong enough to do it," Mon'ique chimed in.

"Or Shaddie," remarked Tra'cy. "They've got Ed on life support."

Shad’rah, enhanced by an ancient process called Ascension, had defeated the Prime known as Ediphus Wrecks in single combat at an arena converted from an old space raid shelter. The local media had had a field day, even without any reliable account of the affair, which threatened to become a scandal.

"They're still wondering about that at Ground Command," said Bea'trice. "And at the Conciliate. But maybe it will convince the rest of the Aureans we mean business. Cooperation and reconciliation's not a just one-way street.  This whole project has been a real pain, if you ask me. And what do we get for it, I ask you? What do we get?"

"You get me," a new voice answered.

The Protectors had been so engrossed in their mutual commiserations that they hadn't even noticed the man at the door.

All heads turned. It was more than a man at the door. It was another Messenger. A real Messenger, by the looks of him.

* * *

Howard Jolie was pleased with himself.

A new day was dawning for Binkley’s World. Thanks to him. Thanks top his reports.

That Velorian colonel must have thought he had everything under control, that nobody here could challenge his mad policies. But there were channels of communication that Kim’Vallara could not control. Diplomatic channels. Even under martial law, this was once again an Enlightenment World, a world with a voice to be heard, a voice that would be heard.

Jolie had known a New Directive was in the works, even before the arrival of the latest Messenger. There were Binkleyan exiles yet on Velor – well, habitats orbiting Velor – who had served loyally as consuls to the Senate, who also had the ears of key officials in the Ministry of War. People who knew what had to be done and would do it, right under the noses of that fool of a prime minister.

Everything that had gone wrong here – and in his dispatches, everything had gone wrong was known on Velor. Everything that Kim’Vallara had tried to keep secret was an open scandal. That latest business at the space raid shelter would be just the icing on the cake: let the colonel explain that if he could.

Now it begins, he thought. The thought made him all warm inside.

Kim’Vallara had informed him of the message from Star Command. He’d informed everyone, good little soldier that he was. And much good would it do him. He’d have to do Star Command’s work, see to the liquidation of the Aurean POWs – and end up being cashiered just the same for insubordination, dereliction of duty, whatever else they could throw at him.

Him and that cunt he called his wife. The New Order on Velor would make short work of the Legion, and the Legionnaires. There probably wouldn‘t be any more auxiliary Protectors, either. Or if there were, at least they’d be better trained than those fools who’d been sent here.

* * *

Mar’ek didn’t have to do anything but stand there. All eyes were glued to him. He was wearing only a pair of trunks, and as the Protectors gazed at him, the trunks stretched and stretched and finally tore. There were sighs in the barracks as his rampant manhood sprang forth.

Even Bea’trice was speechless, but Shad’rah broke the silence.

“He wants us, he really wants us!” she exclaimed.

“How could any man not want you?” Mar’ek said modestly. “How could any man not want to worship you?”

He made a point of ogling them, one by one, looking into their eyes, his own eyes confirming what his cock promised – that he knew each of them was beautiful beyond measure, that he longed to make love to each of them, to share every pleasure. He knew he’d have to make up for B’ruce.

 

It was all show. He ran his eyes back and forth across the assembled Protectors, ran his eyes up and down, taking in their firm breasts, their taut bellies, their tapering legs. Some of them were already dripping, their delicious juices oozing around their uniforms. With his tachyon vision, he could focus on their perfect pussies, all moist and slick for him.

“I can’t stand it!” he cried as let himself come, erupting like a volcano. That too was all show, but he knew it would be a morale booster for the Protectors. Some of them had been splattered with his cum, in which they eagerly dipped their fingers and just as eagerly tasted.

“There’s more where that came from,” he assured them with a smile. “And if I run short, I can always sun dive again.”

“Me first!” yelled Tra’cy, thrusting out her chest.

“No, me!” screamed Car’ol, doing a bump and grind.

Pandemonium reigned, until Bea’trice – with incredible self control and presence of mind – asserted her authority.

“We draw lots,” she said.

There were sighs, but they were sighs of acquiescence. The other Protectors knew it was the only fair thing to do.

“But Char’lene goes first,” Bea’trice stipulated. “She deserves it.”

It took a few moments, as the other Protectors looked back and forth at each other. But that too was fair, they agreed.

“We’ll have it all sorted out by the time you get back,” Bea assured Mar’ek.

“Get back?”

“Char’lene felt so bad after the way B‘ruce treated her that she flew off. She just wanted to be alone. We did what we could for her; we took care of her orgone blockage. But that isn’t the same as being loved the way a Protector should be loved.”

“Where can I find her?”

“Somewhere along Vector SSW-14. I’ll show you the reference point.”

* * *

The Black Fleet was making its final approach to the wormhole. Admiral Perm knew that it would be defended on the other side, but he was prepared for that.

The Empire had its own sources of Vendorian steel, and a good portion of them had been poured into this fleet. Not only the hulls but the communication and navigation gear were made from the most durable alloy known to mankind or any other kind. These ships could take a licking and keep on ticking.

Perm had taken a roundabout route to this wormhole, the second touching the Binkleyan system, and never before used by the Aureans. The approach on this side was through neutral space, and he had taken care to avoid being sighted in neutral space, although that meant taking the long way between wormholes. It was the same with the three wormholes the Black Fleet had previously traversed were also through neutral space. Nobody would be expecting an attack here, when previous action had all been in and around a wormhole that connected the Binkleyan system with dead one – dead meaning without habitable planets or resources worth exploiting – which in turn boasted two others leading towards the Empire and the Enlightenment.

Only a picket ship at most could be expected on the Binkleyan side of this transit, Easily dealt with,

* * *

"Cunt!"

The word was spoken with utter contempt, which was only to be expected in the Compound under the New Directive.

"Your fate depends on your cooperation."

Contempt, followed by a hint of mercy. That was the drill. Oon'ah knew the drill. Every Protector did. She had followed the drill because it was her only hope. Their only hope.

Col. Kim'Vallara could have changed her assignment, but he had not. Was that an act of cruelty or kindness? There was no way to tell. Since the New Directive, it had been strictly business with him, from the interrogation protocols to the null-field suits like the one she was wearing now.

The suits had arrived on the same Courier ship as the gold bars and chains. Somebody back on Velor must have really meant business. Binkleyan workers had hastily seen to putting the cells together and chaining the prisoners, all under the watchful eyes of Velorian ground troops armed with energy pistols and backed by a miltary truck mounting a heavy GAR. The GAR would be used on all prisoners, when the time came. The New Directive left no room for exceptions. Only the hope of valuable intelligence postponed the inevitable.

None of that was forthcoming from Xanthra, although she could have shared secrets that would have curled the hair of the Ministry back on Velor. She and Oon'ah had traded insults and pleas as the Protector assailed the Aurean prisoner with demands for answers. To a casual observer, it would have seemed they barely knew each other.

Playing the greatest role of her life, Oon'ah grilled her lover about former commanders, about ships and stations in which she had served, about gossip and rumors that might reveal Aurean strategy and intentions.

"Cipangu," she'd led off today. "You will inform me about all ships stationed there. Troop deployments. The kintzi breeding labs - have they been relocated there? Who commands the base? Does he also command the labs? Does he also fuck the kintzi?"

That last was a bit of levity, but recognized as such only by Xanthra. That was the point: to be recognized by others only in her assigned role. The routine at the fate this morning had been the same as always: I.D. check, including retinal scan. The new guard at the front gate - no dodderer he - had asked her business.

"Final interrogations," Oon'ah had said curtly. "Prisoner X-32."

She was passed, as usual, and donned her hood - a matter of protection and anonymity; prisoners weren't supposed to know for certain who their interrogators were, or even whether they were the same from day to day. The suit with its portable null field - one of those Kelsorian innovations - shielded her from the gold of the cage that held Xanthra.

What it also shielded from Binkleyan eyes was the portable laser cutter Oon'ah had managed to steal from a warehouse in town.

She was about to commit high treason.

* * *

 

Mar’ek found Char’lene on a dry lake bed, a hundred miles from the capital. It took time and it took luck: all the other Protectors knew was that she had flown south-southwest, and they had pointed to a tall tree that indicated her vector.

Char'lene looked sadder than any other Protector he had ever seen, even among those who had borne the emotional scars of battle or the loss of innocents whom they had somehow failed to protect. Mar'ek longed to spend more time with her, to comfort and console her. But there enough time for that. Grief counseling wasn't what she wanted, in any case. She sought validation.

"He acted as if he didn't even want her," Bea'trice had whispered to him. "She was nothing to him."

Nothing could be more humiliating for a Velorian than to be treated as sexless, as being of no sexual value. It was bad for self-confidence, bad for morale, bad all around. The rest of the Protectors had been disparaged by proxy, but Char’lene had been disparaged face to face – as if she were ugly, as if B’ruce’s failure was hers.

She had been vulnerable, of course, as one of the auxiliary Protectors. Some of them, he knew, had been treated as second-class acolytes at the Academy – even sexually exploited and abused, their natural Velorian sexuality turned against them. No wonder they had fallen for the concealment craze, which had only made things worse.

Mar’ek had to make her whole again, make her feel like the Velorian goddess she was. If she had been rejected by a Messenger, one of her own kind, she might yet believe she could be attractive to a Terran, to a frail. He was bringing along a few props for a fantasy he hoped would snap her out of her depression.

Char'lene said nothing at first when he approached her. She simply squatted there, legs drawn together, hands touching her feet. She looked at Mar'ek indifferently. Finally she spoke.

"I suppose I'm not good enough for you, either."

"You're a Protector."

She looked blankly at him.

"Auxiliary Protector. Nobody gives a shit about us,”

“I do. I came all the way out here to find you.”

“She would.”

“She?”

“Bea’trice. Always so fair, always so solicitous.”

“Everyone agreed.”

“Playing games. Just trying to make me feel good. Because I couldn’t even turn on a Messenger.”

“I’m a Messenger. You turn me on.”

“Yeah, you must be fantasizing about one of the real Protectors. Or even Aphro’dite. Just games again.”

“Is there a game you’d like to play? Maybe Vel and Terran?”

“What’s that?”

“Something a lot of Protectors have played for real. Usually on undisclosed worlds where people don’t know who they are.  But we can play it just for fun.”

“Does it have any rules?”

“Just that you get to play the Velorian seducing the frail. The Velorian who’s beautiful beyond anything he’s ever imagined. Who’s powerful beyond anything he’s ever imagined. Who can fly like the most graceful bird he can imagine. Who can walk through fire and even fly through the sun. Who’s completely invulnerable to the puny weapons of his world. Who loves to fuck and its utterly shameless about it.”

He outlined a scenario for her, one he had prepared for. Just in case. Just on a hunch – the kind of hunch a Messenger was supposed to have. The dry lake bed would become a vast desert and he a poor lost frail Char’lene had just found, a frail she would soon carry back to civilization – only he had to swear to secrecy, swear never to reveal what had happened…

“But who are you? What are you?” the frail asked.

“A Velorian. A woman from a distant star, here to protect your world against an ancient enemy. An Empire that seeks to conquer all human worlds.”

Human worlds?”

“You have distant cousins you know not, on hundreds of planets. Taken by the Seeders, acting for the Galen, the ancient gods who created us. We who defend those planets.”

“You don’t look like a soldier. You carry no weapons.”

“We are our own weapons. No other weapons are of any avail against us.”

“That’s impossible, You’re just a… well, a very beautiful girl, but still…”

“Do you need a demonstration.”

Char’lene, who had kept her name for the fantasy, began peeling off her uniform – well, the concealments she had picked up at the market – until she stood proudly naked before Mark, who promptly forgot all about his ordeal in the desert as his cock began to twitch.

“I see you like my breasts,” Char cooed. “So round, so firm, so fully packed. They look so soft, and yet they stand straight out. They look so fragile, but they’re invulnerable, like the rest of me… I see you have a knife in your backpack – did I tell you about my x-ray vision? Actually, we call it tachyon vision. Never mind that, just give me the knife.”

Mark began to tremble. Was she crazy? Was she out to kill him for finding out about her, for seeing her fly?

“Terrans!” she muttered, brushing by him to grab his pack and remove the knife.

She stood before him, knife in hand, and drew it against her – first against her abs. They were perfect abs, Mark had already noticed; this girl must really work out. But they must be more than steel hard; he could see the razor-sharp blade indent her golden skin – just enough to know she must be pressing hard. Yet it didn’t leave a mark, not a scratch, not a drop of blood.

Then she stabbed herself in the left breast. The golden globe dimpled a bit, but when she withdrew the knife, he could see that her magnificent flesh was totally unharmed.

“Invulnerable,” she said as she placed her hands on her hips and thrust her chest out at him. “Would you like to feel them, learn what invulnerable breasts feel like?”

Mark played the shy Terran like a trouper, his hands shaking, until she took them gently and pressed them against her, using them to cup her magnificent breasts, letting them feel their silky smoothness and springy resilience, interrupted only by steel-hard nipples.

“Nothing can hurt them,” she cooed as the let Mark go.

He staggered back, his whole being overwhelmed by the sensation of her breasts – so incredibly beautiful, so incredibly firm, so….

“Nothing can hurt any of me,” Char continued, running her hands up and down her body, casually brushing her hairless pussy, where Mark could now see her clit – erect like her nipples.

“You still don’t believe me?” she asked. “You can prove it yourself, with that gun in your pack.”

“But this is crazy!”

“This is just foreplay. We Vels are exhibitionists, you see. We love to show off, And we love to get off. Come on, it’ll make me hot to trot, and you too.”

“It’s like a dream,” Mark said as he picked up the gun. “Some incredible dream.”

“Stop daydreaming and start shooting,” she urged.

He had trouble holding his hand steady, let alone aiming, His first shot went wild. But his second hit her stomach. He had thought she might be knocked back, but she remained rock steady, hands on hips again, smiling at him. There was a grey smudge just above her navel.

“Mmm, that felt good,” she said.

His third shot went wild, but the fourth hit Char square on the right breast, and she screamed with pleasure. A thought occurred to him, and he aimed lower…

In real life, Mar’ek was a crack shot, but in the game scenario, it was only a lucky shot that hit her in the pussy, Char screamed even louder, “Oh Skietra! Oh Skietra.”

Mark was only peripherally aware of the slug popping out and landing at her feet.

“Good shooting,” Char told him, after she came down, “Of course, a mere bullet can’t get far into my cunt. The only thing that can really penetrate it is a loving cock – and I see that yours really wants to.”

Mark’s cock was aching with lust for this goddess, leaking cum…

“But how can I…

“You’ve never heard about the effect of gold?”

Mar’ek as Mark pretended he hadn’t. Char pretended she had some, and explained its effects on her body and libido. She also explained what Mar’ek already knew about her inny, but Mark didn’t.

“You’re going to love my cunt,” she bragged, “It’s just lined with pleasure spots. All the better to feel your cock with. It just loves to feel a hard, thick cock pounding, thrusting, coming. Just the thought of it makes me so wet.”

Mark could see that she was dripping, and his nostrils were assailed by the heady scent of honey and wildflowers. He knelt before her and buried his face in her pussy, licked and bit her clit, drank her fragrant juices. Her whole body shook with her first orgasm; it was all Mark could do to hold on as she bucked and moaned and screamed.

“I want you inside me now,” she pleaded afterwards

With that, she lay back on the dry lake bed… er, desert… and opened her legs. Mark was thrilled to see that her breasts lost nothing of their roundness and firmness, pointing proudly north. He aimed his cock southwards, and plunged into her hot, tight, cunt. He teased her with slow, gentle thrusts.

“Fuck me hard!” she pleaded, “Fucking can’t hurt my body,”

Reality took over from fantasy at that moment, as Mar’ek the Messenger let loose with Char’lene the Protector, pounding her into the ground with thunderclaps of passion. Nor did she just lie there and take it, but returned thrust for thrust, arching her pelvis to draw him in even deeper, teasing his cock with her inner muscles, squeezing with all her might, knowing she couldn’t hurt him any more than he could hurt her.

By the time they got through, they had created another smoking crater. Fortunately, they were far enough out not to have created an earthquake severe enough to have been felt back at base and the Binkleyan capital.

By the time Mar’ek got back to Ground Command, everything had changed.

* * *

"James, dear, is this wise?"

"I don't know whether it's wise or not, but we don't have any other choices. Things are coming apart here, and they don't have any idea back home what it's all about. They'll listen to you, at least. Sigurd and Naomi."

"The new Messenger--"

"He's going to be busy for days yet, I expect, maybe longer. That’s how bad it’s been for the Protectors. And I'm not sure I can trust him. He may have been turned by the other side. Even if he hasn't, there's a good chance that any message I sent with him would fall into the wrong hands. You've got to be on the Courier ship. It won’t wait much longer, and-"

An alarm sounded on the office com.

"She's flying," an excited voice came over the com when he answered it. "They're both flying."

It was the Warden at the Compound.

James didn't have to ask who he was talking about, or what it meant. Oon'ah had broken Xanthra out of jail. Not only that, but Xanthra had revealed her most shocking secret in plain sight of hundreds if not thousands of witnesses. There was no way to put a lid on this. Oon'ah had turned traitor, and there was a Prime on the loose - a new kind of Prime with full flight capability.

The warden was babbling almost incoherently. James put himself on automatic pilot, responding almost by rote. Yes, secure the other Aurean prisoners. Recall all the auxiliary Protectors, put all ground troops on high alert. Yes, he'd advise Fleet Command immediately. Likewise the Conciliate. They would not be pleased.

Bidu listened silently, trying to comprehend what was happening.

"I can't leave you now," she finally said.

"It's more important than ever," James said. "This could mean my head. I don't want it to mean yours."

"Why are they doing this?" she asked. "Don't they understand that you've been protecting them?"

"They don't. I never told them, never even hinted. That was the whole point. As long as they didn't know I knew, they felt safe. And I felt safe as well, I thought I could deal with this situation, that I'd have time to..."

There was a look of despair on his face.

"But this order from the Teri... It doesn't matter any more; they know there's nothing I can do for them - for any of them. I've stalled long enough already, a week, with the interrogations; I can always plead that the message left me that option even before it cut off..."

"All deliberate speed."

"Was she leaving me an out? What was the rest of the message?"

"You could have said it was all garbled."

"It's a matter of record. They must have the original at Velor, and if it comes to that they're bound the play the copy here if I'm investigated."

James paused for a moment, collecting his thoughts.

"Gold bars today, GARs tomorrow. That's how they must have figured it. I should have seen it coming, told Oon'ah, at least."

"Where can they go?"

"Through one of the wormholes. Fleet Command will be trying to track them even as we speak. And assuming they'll head for the nearest Aurean base.”

He paused for a moment/

“The Courier ship – it’s your only hope. Our only hope. They’ll be leaving for sure, now. Get out of here, and get aboard!”

Bidu understood, began running off on the double.

“I love you,” James called after her.

* * *

Oon’ah and Xanthra hadn’t headed straight for a wormhole; that would have been too obvious – and not necessarily safe.

There had been cases of unenhanced P1’s making it through, going back to Vespyr, the very first Protector, before she was a Protector. But Oon’ah was only a P-2, even though had gone through the process with Aphro’dite. Xanthra was a Prime, but unenhanced, obviously.

They’d talked about this, about maximizing their chances of escape. They knew that meant maximizing their orgone. So here they were, bathing in the nuclear fires of the very sun – and making frantic love. Love so frantic that they didn’t realize how close they were to overload, even as their breasts swelled to monstrous proportions.

It hit them only when they began to fly away from the sun – and Oon’ah discovered that she couldn’t, her metabolism having shut down from the energy overdose. The off-switch had been built into Supremis genetics as a safeguard against just that sort of eventuality, but the lovers had failed to monitor their intake. Xanthra’s capacity was greater, but she realized that she too might suffer the same fate. And yet she couldn’t abandon her lover. Couldn’t.

The intense pressure of the solar radiation was pushing them away, but only gradually. Without flight power, Oon’ah would be helpless against pursuit and capture should they be spotted. At the very best, they’d never make it to a wormhole this way. Xanthra began to drag the dazed Oon’ah behind her, hoping against hope that that she’d have a solid idea.

Solid, that was it. Binkley’s sun was known for its outbursts of heavier elements that would condense when they reached the cooler regions above the photosphere –- carbon was the most common, and it went straight from gas to solid. Xanthra cast about, looking for signs of a coming burst. The search was futile for what seemed like hours, and she was getting weaker. But, there it was – a dark spot against the incandescent gases, still distant but moving fast – too fast, it looked like, for it wasn’t headed straight at them.

I love you, Xanthra silently addressed the Velorian, as she took hold of her and made the supreme effort to intercept the carbon burst in time.

* * *

When Mar'ek returned to the barracks, he found that the entire Command had been put on red alert – something about an Aurean prisoner escaping, with the aid of one of their own. It was impossible, it was unbelievable, but there it was.

“Half our contingent has been sent to chase after them,” Bea’trice informed him. “The rest of us are on high alert. We’re only going to have time for quickies, so I hope you can make them good. And still have enough orgone left for the rest when they get back – hopefully with the fugitives.

It would never have worked if the Protectors hadn’t been so long deprived, so incredibly horny. Like Made’lyn, who’d drawn the first lot. She was already naked, and ready -- and no sooner had Bea left the room than she threw him to the floor and impaled herself on his cock. No preliminaries, just hot, rough sex.

“Fuck meI” he yelled, knowing that was what she’d want to hear. “Oh fuck me!”

Even if she’d been wearing gold, he reckoned, it would have been quick death for a Terran, or even a Beta. But she wasn’t wearing gold. Anyway, his cock could take it, and the scent of her pheromones, the sight of her juices fairly pouring out of her cunt and bathing his crotch were driving him wild.

“Harder, faster!” he shouted, as he reached upwards to ravish her breasts, squeezing and mauling them without mercy, pinching and tweaking her nipples with all his might. She cried out with delight, and ground and pounded him with all her might.

“I can’t stand it,” Mar’ek screamed as he came. Made’lyn screamed incoherently a second later as she came, as her cunt tightened on him like never before – a cunt engineered to feel his own every spasm, to feel his cum as it shot into her.

She collapsed on him then, her hair brushing his face, luxuriating as he luxuriated in the afterglow, and the sensation of his still erect cock filling her. She raised herself then, letting him pop out and letting him see the look on her face as she could see the look on his – the look of utter bliss, the ultimate reward of their lovemaking.

“Mmmm,” she teased. “I think that’ll hold me for a while. But meanwhile, Britt’a awaits...”

“It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it,” he kidded her.

It got tougher as the day wore on. He’d definitely have to sun-dive again to handle the next shift. But he’d managed to last through a dozen of them; the expressions of happiness on their faces after he’d fucked them or they’d fucked him into oblivion or both gave him a sense of profound contentment, of a job well done.

No time to rest on my laurels, he reflected. Up, up and away.

• • •

From the frying pan and into the freezer. And still they were in hiding.

Only no longer from patrolling Protectors: here, at the edge of the planetary system, emerging from the wormhole as if it had been deliberately timed for them, was an Aurean battle fleet: huge back ships, unadorned but for the Imperial crest, their energy weapons and missile launchers alike concealed by shields of Vendorian steel.

Carried by the carbon burst, Oon’ah and Xanthra had reached the halo undetected, and begun flying under their own power for the wormhole. Her lover had awakened from her swoon during the journey out: let the Gods be praised for small blessings.

With any luck, the Protectors would have already checked that out and returned home – convinced that the fugitives were gone by this time. But, having seen the fleet, they doubled back to the nearest debris field. 

The field was the usual sort of thing for a planetary halo - chunks of ice and frozen gases, dust and rock - mostly pebble sized. But there were a few larger objects, the kind that would become comets if they fell out of orbit, and that was where Xanthra headed after signaling Oon’ah:  Air, talk.

When they reached the proto-comet, Xanthra immediately began burrowing into it – the work went quickly, for comets are made of fragile stuff. She created a chamber few meters in, invited Oon’ah to follow her, and sealed it up. Then she used her heat vision to create an atmosphere – nothing breathable, but that didn’t matter so such as they. All that mattered was that air carries sound.

“Their scanner outlets are marked in blue, com outlets in red,” Xanthra said. “We have to take them out.”

“We don’t owe Velor anything,” Oon’ah complained. “Not any more. Why can’t we try for some neutral world? We talked about that before, at the Compound.”

“Velor will owe us, if we do the right thing here. Neutral worlds won’t be safe, if the Empire regains the initiative. There will be more Black Ships where those came from, and more flying Primes where I came from. I was a secret weapon, too. A very secret weapon, hiding in plain sight, playing a common comfort woman, unknown even to the rest of the Aureans on planet – known only to those on Aurea who sent me to Binkley’s World. A ticking time bomb, waiting to go off. Only you set me off in a different way.”

She drew Oon’ah into a kiss.

It was all they could do to restrain themselves from doing 69 then and there, to lick and suck and bite each other's tits and clits, to ravish each other's invulnerable bodies, to come and come and come.

But for now, they had to save their strength, for the battle to come. Xanthra had talked Oon’ah around to that, but they had to go over every detail, with Xanthra drawing diagrams on the walls of their hidey-house as she laid out the strategy. Even Vendorian steel wasn’t as strong as Supremis flesh, but neither was it like eggshell to their kind. They’d have to make every blow count, disabling the ships they could not destroy.

“We’ll leave them deaf, dumb and blind,” she vowed.

And after that?

“I know where the breeding labs are – others like me. Others who will want to join us, if we can free them. And if I can make it through a wormhole, I’ll know that I can. Their minders don’t have any idea how much we hate the Empire.”

* * *

The Courier ship soared into the sky. James watched it leave with a sense of relief.

He didn’t notice the Binkleyan militia until their group captain announced himself.

“Colonel James Kim’Vallara?”

Surely they knew who he was. But he confirmed his identity, just to see what this was all about.

“You are no longer in charge of Ground Command. You are to consider yourself under house arrest.”

What? By whose authority?”

“Fleet Command, in consultation and concert with the Conciliate, which has now assumed authority over all military forces on the planet – Binkleyan or Velorian.”

“The Protectors?”

“They are included in the order, naturally. You will receive a copy at your quarters.”

“That’s illegal!”

“It’s an emergency measure, in light of the invasion.”

“Invasion?”

“We are to escort you to your quarters, Please cooperate, or it will go harder for you.

 

Concluded in ‘Judgment Day”