RICK JOHNSON

CRAP SHOOT


by: Rick Johnson
PO Box 40451
Tucson, Az.
85717
RikJohnson@juno.com

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“Flight 312 you are approaching bogie and should be within visual.”

“Confirmed! Bogie is a sphere surrounded by a disc, slivery-blue in color, about 120 feet diameter by 40 feet thick moving east at 500 knots. No visible means of propulsion or weapons. Approaching to intercept.”

The F-16s approached on afterburner, two dropping behind to attack position, two more flanking the UFO. “Attention Unidentified Aircraft, this is United States Air Force Flight 312. You are in American airspace and are ordered to change course and land immediately.”

The pilot gave them a minute to use whatever translation devices they possessed to process the message then repeated his demands.

Y: “Hey there Air Force guys,” the female voice came over their headphones. “We’re kind of lost so can you tell us the way to Arizona so we can pick up Arlin?”

“USAF Flight 312 to UFO, you are ordered to change course and land immediately.”

Y: “Kay, I don’t think they are friendly.”

K: “No shit, Yuri! Let me try. Hello Air Force guys, we’d really like to see Arizona, so if you could please tell us where to find it, we’ll be on our way. Oh, right… thank you... and over.” This female voice had what appeared to be a mild southern, perhaps Texan drawl.

“Negative UFO, change course 1 2 5 degrees north, drop speed to 200 knots and reduce altitude to…”

K: “I don’t think they are friendly. I can see they’ve armed their weapons. Not that they can hurt us or anything. Let me try again. Hey Air Force Guys, I can see a city up ahead, how about I just nuke the city out of existence then keep on nuking every city I see until you tell me how to get to Arizona? There, that should get us some directions.”

“Major,” another voice broke in. “They sound like a couple of bimbos who aren’t smart enough to pull into a gas station and ask directions. Maybe we should try another way…”

K: “Gas station? Yuri that just might work. Thanks guys!” The flying saucer suddenly dropped and reversed direction instantly accelerating to a speed faster than the jets could imagine and were off the radar screen within seconds.

“Control, this is flight 312, the bogie has changed direction and accelerated to a high speed. We are unable to pursue. Can you confirm?”

“Affirmative Flight 312, the bogie accelerated northwest to mach 10 and is off our screen. Come in boys and I hope your recorder and cameras are working. The Brass is going to shit kittens over this.”

***

The gas station attendant was sipping his coke as the flying saucer landed. It didn’t really land so much as it came down, hovered a few feet off the ground as a hatch opened on the lower bulge and two women exited to stride toward the station. The attendant couldn’t hear the slight humming but he did see the guy pumping gas into his Volvo stare until gas spurted from the tank. He had plenty of time to watch them approach. Both wore bluish coveralls, almost form-fitting to show that they were women and very well built women at that. The shorter had long black hair, the slightly taller had medium length blue hair. Both had monkey-like tails and carried handguns at their swaying hips. Ordinarily when approached by anyone with a weapon, he’d hit the panic button that summoned the sheriff and craw under the counter but this time he just stared, open-jawed.

The door beeped as they entered and the smaller asked, “Hey, can you tell us where to find Arizona?” She stared, waited then waved her hand before his face. He barely noticed that instead of a little finger, she had a second thumb. And antennae, and cat-eyes and green skin. “No one home Kay.”

K: “No matter, I found an Atlas.” She opened the book on the counter to a map of the US and said, “here’s Arizona, now where are we?”

Y: “Now I wish I had spent more time awake in geography class. Hey, Cletus, wake up!” she snapped her finger in front of his face a few times and he started.

K: “Good, welcome back to the land of the living. Look here, not at my tits, down here. Good. Now here is Arizona, where are we?”

“Missouri?”

K: “Good boy. Now, try to think. Where in Missouri? God Yuri, no wonder the US never made it to the Moon and had to fake the landing. They’re lucky they can reach orbit without blowing up. With guys like this it’ll take forever to find where we dumped Arlin.”

The attendant whose name was not Cletus touched the map and Kay drew a circle around where his finger had been then another at the Grand Canyon. “Good. Hey Yuri, grab a couple chocolate bars and I’ll get the Cokes.” She then folded the book and went to the rear as a child with his terrified mother asked, “My daddy said we were on the moon.”

His mother pulled him closer to her as Kay kneeled and said, “You daddy was wrong. NASA filmed the entire thing in a movie lot and pretended just to scare the Russians.” She smiled, patted the child and continued on, “Hey Yuri, they have something called Coke Classic and …”

“Whatever is diet, you think I want my hips back?”

As they were leaving, the attendant woke up and called, “Hey, you have to pay for those.” The two women stopped, turned and approached the counter, Kay resting her hands on a very wicked handgun at her shapely hip and commented, “We are intergalactic criminals being chased by the Interstellar Police, Star Fleet and three separate crime Syndicates for smuggling, bank robbery and assassination and you expect us to pay for a map, a couple of candy bars and some cokes?”

“It comes out of my paycheck if you don’t,” he managed to squeak, terrified that they’d suck his brains out or implant a monster in his chest or just ray-gun him. He wished he hadn’t had that third coffee that morning. He also wished he had called in sick like he had originally planned.

The two looked at each other, placed their booty on the counter and with one motion, unzipped and exposed their large and very firm breasts to the attendant who just stared. After a moment, Yuri asked, “Are we square?”

The man who was not called Cletus just drooled and nodded so the two zipped their coveralls, picked up their booty and left to enter their flying saucer and take off to the southwest.

The man who was not named Cletus stared as they left then yelled, “SHIT!” and ran for the back where he pulled the security tape, shoved it into the VCR and logged onto the internet where he sent copies of the security tape to everyone on his e-list with a hurried note, “Got robbed by aliens. Pass this around before the FBI shuts the incident down.” After a minute, he added, “They are looking for someone called Arlin in Arizona at the Grand Canyon, run a search and get back to me.” Then he relaxed. After that show, he’d never be satisfied with human porn again.

***

The Flying Saucer hovered inches over a Mercedes, its disc extending over the road on one side and the canyon on the other. It was humming to itself and a series of lines that seemed to radiate from the central sphere were moving, spinning around the disc though this was an optical illusion caused by the internal Spindizzy which warped space and time.

The crowd was pushing forward but careful to not approach to closely, not after seeing what Yuri had done to one very large man who had tossed a can over the fence into the Grand Canyon. He was still whimpering on the rocks at their feet, trying to breath, vomit and void all the same time but unable to do anything. The crown was watching and taking pictures and included four Park Rangers who, though armed, were too scared to enforce order and just watched, called for back-up and instructions and in one case, his mother.

The two were speaking in English, the taller alien having surprisingly European features and a Southern drawl, the smaller more Asian with a standard Mid-Western Twang despite their green skin, monkey’s tail, cat-eyes and other features. “It is beautiful.”

Y: “Very. Too bad people have to mess it up,” she looked at the man who was so large he could have lifted them both with one hand and kicked him again. He just curled up tighter and whimpered like a beaten puppy. “You know he’s going to kill us?”

K: “I don’t think so.”

Y: Turning and leaning against the fence, then smiling at the tourists who continued to take pictures of the duo… from a safe distance, asked “How can you be certain. We drugged him, threw him overboard onto a barbaric planet and stole his ship. Hell! I’d kill us.”

K: “We buy his good graces.”

Y: “With what? Promises of good behavior and hot sex?”

K: “With them,” she pointed with her tail to a group of Catholic Schoolgirls in uniform who were resisting the attempts of their teachers and one elderly nun to pull them back. The entire group took a step back at those words then forward to hear more. Being potentially abducted by aliens was one thing, but missing an opportunity to observe them action was worth the risk.

Y: “Could work. All men have that schoolgirl fantasy. Even I do though mine are about Japanese schoolgirls. Think he’d mind if we joined in?”

Yuri approached the group then pointed to a Ranger who had started to reach for his handgun, “DON’T!” she snapped. He backed off. Then smiling, “Hey girls, anyone want to crew a spaceship and see the stars? How about an orgy in zero-gravity?”

This was totally different from what they had expected. You hear of stories about aliens abducting people for anal probes and medical experiments. You hear about aliens implanting eggs into unwilling victims and you watch bad movies about aliens that look like giant carrots kidnapping beautiful women to supposedly ravish (always rescued at the last moment by the handsome hero) but you do NOT hear about some intergalactic Employment Agency recruiting Catholic Schoolgirls on the Rim of the Grand Canyon to be hookers.

Y: “Here’s the deal. We’re what you would call… crooks. Smugglers, con-jobs, the occasional bank robbery or assassination and when desperate, honest work like exploring and bounty-hunting and shuttling people between planets. But we ran into a problem. We kinda tried to steal the wrong thing from the wrong people and they’re after us. So to stay alive, we need to retrieve Arlin who originally recruited us. But there’s a problem..”

K: “What she means is that we stole his starship and dumped him here in Earth and he’s probably really pissed off with us right now so if we toss him a fantasy, the Catholic Schoolgirl fantasy..”

Y: “Please, Mister Arlin, don’t call my parents! I’ll so anything to pass geometry,” Yuri mimicked a young girls voice as she played with the zipper of her jumpsuit.

The nun pulled her charge back but every time she got one back, the others would push forward and when she pulled another, the first would return. It was a useless attempt to restore order but she tried and snapped, “I’ll not have my innocent girls kidnapped by some moneys from another planet for God-knows what!”

“Innocent,” Kay laughed. “They’re as innocent as I was when Father Davis caught me at Band Camp in Waco when I was fifteen.” That confession stopped the old woman. Pedophile priests had always been a problem in the Church but to hear that they were also molesting alien girls was news.

Then Kay continued. “We need about two girls, preferably bi-sexual,” then to Yuri who stared back, “Hey, love, think of it as a gift to you!” Then continued to the group, louder, “and here are the requirements. Seventeen and older. Arlin’s people sees 15 as legal-age-of-consent but I’d rather you be older. Intelligent, you MUST be intelligent and open-minded. Willing to travel to the stars and NOT panic or shoot off your weapons when a giant spider approaches and says ‘hello, we come in peace’. Crew that ship over there,” she pointed and very few looked, “And most of all, sexual. As you can see, we’re not human and if we don’t get laid regularly, we die. So your duties will include learning to fly the starship and servicing Arlin.”

“And,” Yuri added, “Not be very honest or religious. We are criminals after all,’ she smiled.

“Not religious, Yuri? Look who we’re hiring?”

“Kay, these are CATHOLIC schoolgirls, between the Pope and that Nun and their priests, they are already borderline atheists. Yes,” to the group, “Christianity is illegal out there in space so you cannot be practicing. Atheist is ok, Agnostic is better, Pagan is ok too. Also be a good cook and half-way clean! So, whose interested?”

About half the school came forward along with a dozen women and even some male tourists. Yuri waved her hand and a ‘wall’ of something appeared to stop the rush. Then the alien duo walked along the edge pointing and calling, “You! And you! No, not you,” and those chosen were able to walk through the barrier with naught but a slight crackling.

Most they rejected because they smoked and you simply cannot have any addictions aboard a starship that would foul the filters or alter reality during travel or get the crew executed on an alien planet. Yuri and Kay may be smugglers but smuggling drugs was guaranteed execution while smuggling almost anything else was only a fine or prison sentence. The men they rejected simply because, “Sorry boys, Kay and I are gay and Arlin is very possessive. Even try to touch one of his women and he’d throw you out the airlock with the woman who let you touch them.” It wasn’t true but better than the truth for Kay did want to watch Arlin with another man, it just would be too much trouble to train one right now. In the end they chose two schoolgirls and four women, one willing to play the “evil-Nun-who-is-taken-against-her-will-but-joins-in” game. A couple Japanese tourists suggested “What’s wrong with the Japanese Schoolgirl fantasy?” And an older woman who they just liked for no reason at all. To Yuri, Kay commented, “We’ll thin them out later and return the rejects.”

Y: “Ok, ladies, what we will offer is a fair share of the loot (after discussing with Arlin what ‘fair’ would be), crowded sleeping quarters, long days of mind-numbing boredom followed by hours of terrifying excitement, aliens that range from the best and worst of the horror movies you have seen and probably a short life when the criminals we cheated catch us. THAT is why we need Arlin, he is the only one who can keep us alive and for that we need him happy. And although the best way to a man’s heart is through his sternum with a blaster, we find that about eighteen inches lower is more secure for us. So you make him happy, he keeps us all alive and financially secure.”

“Head ‘em up, move ‘em out” Yuri called and motioned to the ship which moved to over the canyon then lowered a ramp which they group climbed. The school-girls had to fight to free themselves from their babysitter and in the end she was pulled from the enlistees by her other charges who saw this as a grand adventure that they could only hope to join. “I’ll write as often as I can,” one plain schoolgirl called out to her fellows. It was clear that beauty and youth were not requirements of the crew.

Once aboard, Yuri called, “Now, anyone any good at Geography because we have an atlas and have to re-supply the ship, get money to pay for the supplies, find Arlin and stay alive long enough to convince him to help us out.”

“Can I stop and say good bye to my parents?” one of the girls asked.

Kay smiled, “Of course, and even pack your things. We may be crooks but we aren’t savages.”

***

Now in orbit, crowded onto the flight deck which was mainly filled with gear though the walls and ceiling were now transparent and showed a breathtaking view of the Earth from a thousand miles up, Yuri and Kay were talking. “This is the Myship technically owned by Arlin and carrying Draconan Registry. I’m sorry about the name but he doesn’t have a lot of imagination,” Yuri smiled at the older woman whose eyebrows raised at the name of the ship. “Arlin is a Weir, born on the Frontier of Drakonis and abducted by Demons when he was 15 and kept a slave for some ten years. He got returned to his home just before the Shitai invaded and had to be evacuated until they sterilized his home-planet. So he just built a junk-yard spaceship and left. Went Adventuring and somehow got this ship but don’t ask if he bought or stole it, he won’t answer.”

Kay continued, “Later, he came to Earth and found us. We were both human than, like you. I’m from Waco Texas, DAR, DOT, DOC…. That means I am a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Daughters of Texas and the Daughters of the Confederacy. I’m descended from Richard Henry Lee of the Continental Congress and Robert E. Lee of the War Between the States.”

“Kay, they don’t care about your family history, get on with it.”

Shooting her companion a dirty look she continued, “Yuri and I were classmates at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona when we were kidnapped by a gang who took us into the forest for… well, what they planned wasn’t pleasant. Then before they could do more than rip our clothes, this alien walks into the group and saves us.”

“He killed them all within seconds,” Kay jumped in. We were terrified but he then looked at us, stripped the bodies and offered us a job aboard his starship. It seems that there is a Race of intelligent six-legged Dinosaurs out there that like to abduct people. Oh, it’s not the anal probe thing you hear about, more like they need people to repair their starships and prefer humans as technical-slaves and soldiers. So they occasionally abduct a bunch of people, change them into looking a lot like us, teach them to repair their ships, keep them for a few years of slavery then later, they dump them someplace.”

“Then one day, one of their former tech-slaves got it into his head to leave Earth and move out into some planet a dozen thousand light years away. He brought some friends and then hired the Demons to help him form a nation. The Demons changed everyone there so they’d have Weir grandchildren and then pretty much ignored Earth in favor of Drakonis for their Tech-slaves. Arlin was one of them.”

Kay continued, “Apparently, none of the Weir mind being abducted and enslaved. Kinda makes me wonder about that. But the Demons made the Weir race to be stronger and better and smarter than humans and that caused a big problem. Weir need sex or they die. It’s a mistake the Demons made that they never were able to fix. So Arlin needed women to screw regularly to stay alive or he’d die. And he offered us a job. We crew his ship, sleep with him and in return, we get to see the galaxy!”

Yuri smiled, “We took the offer and he flew us back to campus where we packed and never looked back.”

“It’s been a good five years with no regrets. But we…”

Yuri stared, “We didn’t tell Arlin that we were gay and preferred each other. I figure he noticed but didn’t care as all Weir as I understand are bi. But Kay and I are lovers and eventually, we just got tired of watching the woman I love screw some guy. Don’t get me wrong, I like Arlin, we really do, but…”

“So one day when we were in the vicinity of Earth, we asked to visit family and when we landed, we got him drunk, fed him a sleeping pill or ten and tossed him out the airlock and stole his ship.” Kay confessed.

“Now we need him back but if we show up, he’ll probably kill us for what we did so we figured that if we give him a fantasy, a sexual fantasy, you guys will relax him and calm him down enough for us to explain and ask for forgiveness and start over.”

The older woman asked, “You left out how you look this way and what happens if we refuse. By the way, my name is Gabriel Cardenas.”

Y: “It was an accident. You cannot have a steel hull or it magnetizes and attracts meteors and without iron, magnetic boots don’t stick to the hull. So these,” she raised her tail and pointed to her ape-like feet, “were designed to allow the Weir to work in space.” Yuri sighed, “We got zapped by some radiation-weapon while running from some crooks we robbed and were dying so Arlin fixed us and gave us a transfusion of his blood. A lot of blood. Ordinarily it would have just helped keep us alive until the regenerative tanks healed us but between the damage and Arlin being celibate too long which dumped all these hormones into his blood, the transfusion changed us.”

“It really isn’t bad,” Kay added. “There are lots of advantages like we are stronger, faster and smarter than before and once you get used to seeing and hearing things you never knew existed, the tail is a lot of fun. Though it took forever to remember to move it when I sat down and don’t ask how many times I dunked into the toilet and ….”

Y: “I suppose we could change back if we wanted. Or maybe we threw Arlin off before we realized what had happened and don’t know how to change back. We came out of the tank human but our insides were already changing and made us real bitchy. Like mega-PMS! That’s why we tossed him overboard, we just got pissed off being a sex-toy and overreacted. I’m sure you understand.”

Gabriela laughed, “I spent five years in jail for smashing my husband with a flat-iron. I was PMS-ing and he just slapped my ass and called me ‘fat-hips’ one time too many at the wrong time and I let him have it. Ok, we find this Arlin, screw the shit out of him until he can’t lift a finger or weapon, then you explain yourselves and take off for a life of interstellar crime. Sounds like fun. Where is he?”

“We don’t know.” They confessed. “We dropped him outside of Flagstaff and felt that if we made a big enough fuss by flying all over the place, he’d find a way to contact us! Here is the problem, this ship has about 3250 square feet of living space plus the airlock and flight-deck. That is about the size of a couple small three-bedroom houses on top of each other. And a lot of that space is storage for food and water.”

“And, the Galaxy isn’t like Star Trek where every week you find another Earth-like planet. Most are so totally alien you’d die in an instant. If you visit a Class-M planet, it was probably terra-formed by the Demons for future colonization and later someone moved in.”

Kay added, laughing, “And they’ll be upset when the Demons reclaim their planet and tell the people to get off in 24 hours or else. But until then, we travel and visit and do things only a Trekkie dreams of.”

“And you’re criminals?” one of the other women asked. “I mean I thought you were joking. I don’t think I can do that. I was raised to be honest.”

“No problem, where do you want us to drop you off?” Kay asked.

“On the ground?” she asked, radiating fear.

Yuri laughed at that, “Key, she thinks we’re going to toss her out the airlock. Look, honey, forget everything you’ve heard about space. It isn’t true. It’s different. Totally different. But Arlin says that anyone can learn to fly a starship. The hard part is finding people who can get along together in cramped quarters for months at a time without killing each other. So you find people who are easy-going and get along and teach them how to fly.”

“Assuming you don’t PMS again and kill each other,” one of the schoolgirls offered. “Oh, my name is Sarah Curtis.” She was the plain one, the one the guys would ask out when everyone else rejected them.

Kay smiled, “Since our Change, we haven’t had a period or PMS. Arlin says that no Weir woman has those. Although I do admit that we regrow our hymen if we avoid intercourse for a month. Arlin was born circumcised. So, since we have to live together, that means we need to like each other and trust each other. Killing or robbing any of the Crew breaks that trust so we have to deal fair with each other. You tell me where you want to go and we’ll land the ship and you can walk away.”

In the end, they cloaked the ship and landed invisible at the Grand Canyon not too far from where they were picked up. Kay called after them as they walked to the street, “Do NOT tell anyone where you were or the FBI will take you in for questioning and forget to let you go. Lie and tell them that you were in the back of the crowd and we must have taken someone that just looks like you.” Then the ship lifted again some women lighter for the ones who had chosen to stay were: Gabriela who had nothing to loose, Sarah who wanted adventure, and Barbara Arndt and Amber Driscoll who basically were curious.

“Now, Kay, we need food and supplies again. That means money. What do we do? Rob a bank or Fort Knox or what?”

Gabriela suggested. “With all that technology here, you can break the bank at Vegas. Give us communicators that cannot be detected, scan the casinos and tell us which slot machine will pay off big. A couple million dollar jackpots should buy anything we need even after they take the taxes out.”

“Taxes?” Kay asked, “Why pay taxes. What are they going to do, extradite us from a thousand light years away?”

“They take the taxes out before they pay you your winnings. You don’t have a choice unless you want to rob the casino.”

“It IS a thought… but we first need to find Arlin and second make money. Kay, let’s get that probe ready to dump.”

As they worked, they explained, “Weir bodies see and hear in expanded ranges. We can see in Ultra-violet and Infra-red. So this probe is invisible except in UV. We’ll let it hover over the Rim of the Canyon were we were and when Arlin sees the news-cast, he’ll go there, get the message that we are in Vegas and either call us from the probe or come to Vegas. Your job is to hang around the Canyon until he shows, then seduce him. Be the best you can be and more. Exhaust him. Then we’ll take over. Sarah and Amber, that’s your job. Barbara and Gabriela, you win the money and Barbara, take some of it to Sarah and Amber to pay the bills. I don’t know how long they will be waiting so we’ll need a cabin, isolated but close to the Rim and large enough for us all. Maybe a couple cabins. Then we wait.”

The plan worked well for awhile. Amber used her credit card and rented a bank of cabins near the Rim, a job that was made easy once Gabriela told them how the billing worked and they found the proper computers to hack. From then on they all had unlimited credit. Then as at least one remained near the rim wearing special sunglasses that were programmed to identify any alien in disguise, the rest went to Las Vegas where Gabriela and Barbara would walk into a casino, play a few slots until Kay had scanned and reprogrammed the big-winner slot and the two won, collected their winnings in a check which they deposited into their bank accounts and proceeded to buy everything that they would need on a long trip. Life was good for about a week.

Then, things went wrong.

First word got out and the Casinos banned Barbara and Gabriela. When they replaced them with Amber, Sarah being underage, she won a couple pots then was banned herself. “At least we have some money,” Yuri commented.

“Some! They shut us down and we can’t even get the taxes we paid back!” Barbara wasn’t taking it well.

“Barbara,” Kay spoke softly, “We won over twenty-five million dollars. Can you even spend that much? Even if you leave us now, your share will set you for life. Let it go and focus on the supplies we will need. Food mostly. Clothing to an extent and books and movies.”

“Books and movies?” Amber asked. “Why?”

“You’ve never tried to watch some foreign Art film in Hindustani without subtitles. Trying to watch the radio transmissions from other planets is like that, only worse. Since we spend a lot of time flying though space with nothing to do, you fuck, eat, or read and watch Earth TV and reception fades away long before you reach Jupiter. So let’s fill the library so we’ll have something to do.”

Then they visited the Malls and bought books and DVDs and even video-games then had Yuri and Kay make adaptors to allow the players to drain power from the ship. For the most part, Yuri and Kay suffered the most. They couldn’t do anything public and had to hide in the cabins until dark. Even then they couldn’t go near people. So they were moody, “We come all the way home and instead of being stuck in the ship, we are stuck in this cabin,” until Sarah came in wearing a Star Trek Fleet uniform, “Get dressed! We’re going out!”

“Where? And what are you doing in that?”

“Like it? I got it on e-bay. It’s not the one Nichelle Nichols wore but it was featured on the show. There is a SF-Con in LA and WE are going! With all the news, you just tell people you are wearing costumes and have fun.”

“Surrounded by geeks!” Yuri commented, “I went to one of those in Flagstaff. Talk about losers.”

Sarah laughed, “Then stay here in the cabin all day like you’ve been doing. They may be geeks but it’s a chance to get out.”

Yuri and Kay looked at each other then called, “Wait up!”

***

On the way over, Sarah mused, “I always wondered how many of the guests at the Cons were really aliens. Now I’ll wonder even more.” Barbara just shook her head at that thought.

“Yuri, Kay, I know that Arlin thinks 15 is the age of consent and I understand listening to your ‘incident’ at that age, why you insisted we be legal or close. Sarah is 17, Amber 18, Gabriela 44 and I am 33 but what about you?”

Yuri answered casually as she was flying slow to see the sights, their Cloak preventing detection, “I’m 22, Kay is 23, we think. Drakonan days and years are a bit longer than ours. We joined Arlin five years ago when we were Freshmen. I was seventeen then, Kay eighteen.”

“So you’ve spent five years in space and stealing, smuggling, whatever. That doesn’t seem like the kind of job I’d want for my daughters.”

“It’s not like we can go home,” she commented, waving her tail in Barbara’s face. “I’m an orphan so have no family to miss. Kay wrote her family a letter the first day back and called them a number of times since. I suppose finding an explanation for the absence wasn’t easy for her. Of course, they weren’t happy when she wrote them a letter and came out of the closet. That was a week before we met Arlin and she was fighting with her family about coming home and settling down with her cousin they wanted her to marry. They also yelled a lot about sin and counseling and Hell and I think they were going to lock her up in some institution for deviants. I think that is why we went. Escape. Arlin said he estanned, that means ESP, our desire to escape. Like the Demons abduct people who ‘hear the stars sing’ as he puts it. It’s some alien thing where people like Arlin stare at the stars a lot and want to visit them and the Demons pick up that desire. I don’t know where they stand now other than she cries a lot. I don’t know if she’s crying because they disowned her for being gay or if they finally accepted her and want her to visit which she can’t.”

“This is all really strange to me. I’ve watched _The X-Files_ and wondered, but you two are the first aliens I ever met,” she laughed, “And the first lesbians though you aren’t really aliens. It must be difficult for you two, being gay is hard enough then to be… so different.”

“I don’t mind. I’ve always known I was gay. Kay fought her feelings but met me, experimented at a frat party, and gave in. Her family has the problems. They had to accept their daughter being gay, then vanishing for five years, now back and no longer human. Having no family makes it easier on me. I’ve always been different and never had any family to embarrass so I could be myself. Just an endless series of Christian foster-families who didn’t understand that I was Japanese, not the middle-class white girl they wanted me to be. The ones that treated me like some heathen they were saving were better than the ones who pretended to love me to buy their way into Heaven or the Church’s good graces.

“Do you want to hear something really funny? The closest thing we have to family is Arlin’s. His people are really into Clan and Family so we go to Sothis every year when we can and Arlin hands over half his share of our earnings to his family and half whatever is left over to his Clan. They’re aliens but they accept me and Kay as their daughters. Once one of the boys in the street called us ‘lop-tails’ and Arlin’s brother beat the crap out of him for that. They are like an alien version of the Walton’s and that is the only place I have ever felt home and loved.”

***

The alarm went off at the Rim causing panic. “Shit!” Gabriela swore, “He’s here. Quick, get ready while I call for Sarah.”

“You can’t do that,” Amber insisted. “Yuri and Kay need this vacation. You’ll have to take over for her.”

“Take over! What the hell are you talking about. That’s why they hired you and Sarah. Even when I was your age, I was never as hot as you are. I’m older than your mother and had three kids, I’m fat and saggy and ….”

“No you are not! You’re still attractive. Decent shape, nice smile. You CAN do this. Maybe I can do it alone but the plan was for two of us to exhaust him. So get that push-up bra and think dirty thoughts and let’s fuck that alien into unconsciousness!” Amber pushed the older woman into the bathroom and ran for her own outfit. God this wasn’t going to be easy. She was no dewy-eyed virgin but this was her first time as a whore. At least she was willing to admit that truth and not pretend. But she’d need the strength of the older woman to do it. With Sarah, with whom she’d rehearsed, it was a game. Now, with Gabriela, it was suddenly real. So many things could go wrong. She looked into the mirror, adjusted her make-up, fluffed her breasts and chanted, “You are hot! No man can turn you down! Men of all ages follow you into stores to date you! Arlin wants you too, he just doesn’t know it!” Fuck, what was this going to be like? Both Kay and Yuri had told her what the sex would be like but then, her mother told her what loosing her virginity would be like and it wasn’t anything like what she had been told. Then Gabriela entered, looking good, “Show time! How do I look?”

“I’d do you myself if I liked girls. Gabe, I’m scared.”

“Me too. So let’s do it!”

***

”You Fucking bitches!” Amber swore as the group returned. “I am so sore it hurts to pee! If it wasn’t for Gabe..”

Gabriela just sat there, smiling and sipping a glass of wine. “I still got it. Damn good for an old broad!”

“Your insides must be made of leather!” Amber snapped.

“I love you too dear.”

The rest ran for the bedroom to find Arlin tied, naked and spread-eagled to the bed. “I lost count of how many sleeping pills we pumped into him over the last couple days. Every time he starts to wake up, one of us climbs on and the other feeds him wine and pills until he cums and falls asleep. By the way, we had to get more rope, he broke free three times and ruined a set of expensive police handcuffs.”

“So that’s what a man looks like,” Sarah was staring at something not his face. “Damn! I missed my chance.”

Understanding dawned, “You’re a virgin?” Barbara asked. “And you were willing….”

“I wanted it to be special. I figured that, … well I’m nothing like Amber. She’s beautiful and built and all the boys want her and she never went to any dance alone. I was always the girl they settled for when they couldn’t get her to look at them. I just wanted to be.. wanted.”

“Oh sweetie,” Gabriela held her. “He would have killed you. But cheer up. Once in space, we’ll make it special. Candles, music, romance. It’ll be wonderful.”

“It won’t be the same. Doing this would have been important.”

Amber went to her, “Sarah, it wouldn’t have been special. It would have hurt like hell, you would have bled like a pig and you wouldn’t have had any time to recover and heal before you had to do the whole painful act again. Trust me on this. I know. It was a year before I stopped swearing at my boyfriend for what he did to me and a year after than before I tried again. Arlin is only my second man and my third time. And I’d have died if Gabe hadn’t jumped in and saved me.”

‘You? But you’re beautiful! All the boys want you.”

“So that makes me a slut? No Sarah, they don’t know I exist. They wanted bragging rights about bagging the head cheerleader and most popular rich girl. None of them wanted me.”

“But you had everything.”

“What I had was brains, and beauty and money and anything I ever wanted. I had a horse on my fourteenth birthday and a corvette for aceing my driving test. When I turned sixteen, I toured Europe. I had everything but one thing, love. No one really loved me. That’s why I’m here. When Kay and Yuri chose you and Gabe I knew that here was someplace where beauty and money didn’t count, where I would have to work for what I got and not have some horny boy or teacher hand it to me because I filled out a sweater. I know to you it sounds like bitter apples, the poor beautiful rich girl crying because she has everything but Sarah, when you can have anything you want, nothing is important. Here, these last couple days, I actually had to work for something. Arlin didn’t care that I was beautiful and young and rich. I had to work and I hurt so bad down there! Damn I feel good about that. So, Kay, what’s next?”

“I think we can load him aboard the Myship and leave and be a hundred light years away before he wakes up. Then he will probably allow us to stay. Or he will throw us out the airlock and if so, I’d rather he did it where there is air to breathe.”

Yuri suggested that, “If we let him wake up here, maybe the thought of being marooned forever will make him listen to reason.”

From then on they played cards, video games and talked, no one wanting to leave in case he woke up. Barbara glanced in, “Doesn’t he ever go soft? That’s the fourth hard-on today. I wish my ex was like that.” She commented wistfully.

“You are more than welcome to jump on and have fun.” Kay commented, “raise you.. five. Arlin loves waking up that way. Well, call or raise!”

Barbara thought that was disgusting. Not that she hadn’t done that when she was married, it as just unladylike to do so while your friends were in the next room and watching you act like a whore. She as beginning to have second thoughts about this job.

“It does look attractive though,” Gabriela glanced in. “Somehow I thought alien men would be… more?”

“All Weir are like that.” Yuri commented, “See and raise three. They are all shorter than Earthmen and built the same or smaller than humans. I don’t know. I heard someplace that six inches is average but don’t have any experience other than the Baths on Sothis. Everyone bathes together and the sauna’s are co-ed so I saw a lot of naked Weir men but few were hard and none giants like in the movies.” Then seeing the looks, “Hey, the girls dorm would rent porn flicks and make jokes about them. I saw Ron Jeremy on TV.”

Gabriela laughed. “If six inches is average, I met damn few who were. I think the stats lie. You know like if you ask a hundred women how much they weigh, we all will take twenty pounds off our true weight and that’ll screw up the averages to make even an normal weight woman seem fat. I never met a man who didn’t lie about his size. My husband was like Arlin and insisted he was eight inches. Hardly! Call.”

“Well he hurt so much if he’s average, I’m glad I’m not a size-queen. Fold.” Amber tossed her cards down.

“So no ‘tall, dark and handsome’ on alien planets?” Sarah asked.

“Short, dark and handsome is more like it. You’re as tall as most of them. Arlin says that Demons like smaller tech-slaves because they get into the tight places easier. The women though… all built with huge breasts.” Kay added. “I was a small C and Yuri a B when we were human. Now I’m probably a D with Yuri close. And they never grow old, ever. They call us ‘dayflies’ because humans die in sixty to eighty years. Arlin will look young when he is four hundred. A Weir woman who is four-hundred fifty years old and has had a couple dozen children still looks like Amber. No wrinkles, no stretch-marks, no sagging. Young and perfect for centuries. Made me feel totally inadequate. Nothing!” Kay tossed her cards too.

“Now THAT is depressing,” Barbara commented and poured herself another glass of wine.

Arlin started to wake up again and finally as it turned dark, was awake enough to look around. “Where am I? Oh, you two.” He had an accent but spoke English well. “I don’t really play these games so if you’ll untie me please we can ….” He stopped as Amber and Gabriela snapped a number of handcuffs on his limbs, his tail so tied that it couldn’t move either as Gabe whispered, “relax sweetie. You were great but we need to talk and think that this will keep your attention. Ready!”

Arlin saw the two enter, then struggled and gave up, “What the damn happened to you? And where is my ship?”

“Arlin, please relax and listen to what we have to say, then we’ll release you and if you want to leave, you can.”

Arlin relaxed. It was that Weir acceptance that made them such excellent slaves to the Demons at work. He’d relax, accept the inevitable, listen and then act later. He wasn’t capable of deceit which made him a terrible criminal.

“Arlin,” Kay started. “After we were hurt and you gave us that transfusion and put us in that tank, your blood changed us. Maybe it reacted with the regeneratives and overrode our DNA but when we came out, we were already changing inside. You know how crazy you go when you don’t get sex for a month and are about to die? We were like that. So when you made that crack, we overreacted because of the change and … you know.”

“But we want to make amends, make things right. So we came back and arraigned to let you find us. Can we put the past behind and start over? Please?”

“And them?” He motioned with his head when he realized that he couldn’t with hand or tail.

Yuri explained to him, “We figured that if we approached you, you’d just kill us and leave our bodies to science. So we thought up this plan to relax you until you were willing to listen. These are Sarah Curtis, Barbara Arndt and you know Amber Driscoll and Gabriela Cardenas. We hired them to help crew the Myship with shares and all. Plus, you know Kay and I are in love, they will take over that job too.”

“Until your Need arises too,” he murmured. “What about the skin?” Arlin had a light brown skin and black hair. It hadn’t occurred to the women to ask why Arlin was normal colored but the former Earth-women had green skin.

“We had an accident with some paint on Glamdering. The stupid paint stained our skin and ruined our clothes. We’re hoping that it’ll come off eventually.”

“And the hair?”

“Dye job. I thought blue went with the green better than my natural blonde. I can change it back.”

“No need, I’m still not certain what I will do yet. Can I get up, I need to use the toilet.”

“Are we safe?” Yuri asked.

“For now. I’ll let you know what I decide.” Kay nodded and as Gabe and Amber unlocked the handcuffs, the others began to untie his limbs. Then stretching, the women backing away even though at five-ten Sarah matched him in height and Barbara was an inch taller, still…. “Where?”

Amber pointed and as he left and closed the door behind, Yuri and Kay gathered the women together and whispered, “This is good! We are still alive and together. I think it’s working.”

“Dye job? It doesn’t match.” Barbara commented. “It looks like a tan on a natural redhead.”

“I know but blonde looked worse. I couldn’t get the dye off my skin so did the best I could.”

“We’ll work on it. Now, we are alive, together and what’s next?”

“He’s a guy, we let him think it over until he can convince himself that it was his idea.” Amber offered, then seeing their looks, “What? I was Valedictorian in my school when I graduated and was offered full scholarships to a dozen schools. Did you think that I‘m stupid because I’m rich and beautiful? _Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus_ It’s a good book.”

Kay suggested, “Keep a few things in mind. First he is easily twice as strong as any Earthly man and three times as strong as any of you. He’s faster, stronger and potentially more violent than anyone you will ever meet on Earth. Second, he’s a criminal. We two turned him into one so murder is an option to him. Third, he had access to technology that can turn a city into slag and kill an army and leave not a single trace of their existence. If he decides to kill us, no one will ever know nor will there be the slightest trace of our bodies.

“Now for the good news, He’s a decent guy who doesn’t like violence. I think the Demons chose peaceful people for their slaves. I suppose it isn’t productive to have the slaves always revolting so they are really easy to get along with. And he will let things go. He’s very forgiving. And his people are so damn polite that that they’ll apologize before killing you. That’s why we had you seduce him. He would be too polite to proposition a stranger on another planet.

“I think we won already, we just have to be polite and relax and let him come to us.”

Soon they heard the shower running and Yuri returned to the bedroom to collect and fold his clothes. Knocking on the door, she called in, “Would you like your clothes?”

“Yes, thank you” was the reply so she entered, lay then on the toilet and left, closing the door. She gave the group the ‘ok’ sign which was strange as she had a thumb where normal people had a small finger. Then both she and Kay relaxed.

Barbara whispered, “how can you be so calm right now. A moment ago you were terrified that he would kill us all. Now we’re best friends?”

Yuri smiled at the naivety and explained, “When you deal with aliens, you have to accept that their ways and motives ARE alien. Just because he looks superficially human doesn’t mean that he thinks like a human. Arlin understand people after a fashion because his ancestors were human, but he isn’t. So we accept him as he is and not as we think he should be. We are alive because Weir don’t do cold-blooded murder. They may challenge you to a duel or kill you on the spot. But they don’t plan to murder someone later on like on TV. That’s a human trait. Also they are very forgiving. Given a choice between running away or standing and fighting, they’d rather run away. So to live with each other, they forgive and forget. They rarely hold a grudge, especially when they are in constant contact. They are telepathic. So if we had a grudge against him, he’d estann it and insist we work it out because not solving the problem would be like being locked in a cage with someone you hate and who is always fighting with you, always picking a fight no matter what. Arlin cannot help it, he’s made that way so he’s already forgiven us. All we need to do is to convince him to take you on too. Or not maroon us unless he can change us back.”

Gabe asked “you learned this all in the last five years?”

“I learned it over my entire life. We all have issues or we’d not be here. Kay was terrified to tell her parents she was gay and face their wrath. Amber faced an endless stream of people who looked at her face and body and couldn’t see the person within. Sarah had the same problem from the opposite side. Me? I was born in Osaka. My parents died when I was five and I was ‘saved’ by some missionaries who brought me to America. Then I was tossed from foster home to foster home. I was beaten if I spoke Japanese or even used a Japanese accent. Oh god, how many beatings I suffered until I learned to pronounce the letter ‘L’! I spent every night on my knees being forced to thank god for killing my parents so I could be saved and go to Heaven.

“When Arlin took us in, he asked to learn Japanese and encouraged me to speak it. He asked about my parents and insisted that they were worthy of respect. Drakonans are Ancestor Worshippers. Clan and Family are important to them and he helped me learn to respect my parents and heritage. For an Empire that forces immigrants to dump their birth culture and religion like a rock, they do enforce respect for family and ancestors.

“So going into space was simply like coming to America, only the people out there were just as strange but a lot more polite and respectful. Yes, Arlin expected sex from us but he gave us self respect. He allowed us to be lovers and to hold hands in public. He never forced us to be anything we couldn’t be. I guess because of that we’ll always respect him and maybe even love him a little.”

Arlin came out then, dressed, pulling a chair to him with his tail and reached for a glass which was quickly filled with wine by Kay. He stared at it, “It’s ok Arlin,” Kay offered so he drank it and asked, “Another please. Thank you.” Then settling back, asked, “Now the story again please.”

Kay began, “Well, remember how we were zapped and were dieing? You gave us a transfusion of your blood and bone morrow and put us in the Tank for repairs. Something happened. I think, we think that since the Tank was programmed for Weir bodies, it scanned us, detected your DNA and altered ours to match because it saw our being human as another injury to fix. We came out bitchy, cranky, aching all the time and with a migraine that wouldn’t quit.”

Yuri continued, “We thought we were dieing and asked to die on Earth, well, when we arrived, our bodies and mind and emotions were going so crazy that when you insisted on sex with me, Kay got so jealous that she drugged your tea and we tossed you out the airlock. Then we panicked and left. That night when we calmed down and were planning to return to get you, the tails popped out and the changes accelerated and we got worse and worse and basically stopped feeling guilty.

“We tried to live normally but Arlin, you kept us honest. I know that sounds strange but you grounded us and so we tried to rob Marduk.”

Arlin almost dropped his glass, “Marduk?” They nodded.

K: “We got in and almost got the Crystal then something happened, we got sprayed and the alarms went off and we were blind and had to get out using these new senses we don’t know how to use and I still don’t know how we managed to get out and away. It was a day before we could see and we were green!”

Y: “Arlin, I know this sounds like we are trying to… but the truth is we feel sorry about dumping you on Earth. And we need you to return us to human or teach us how to be Weir. You were born like this. I have to force myself to move my tail before I sit and the first week I was sticking it in the toilet and fouling it every time.”

K: “And get Marduk off our ass.”

Arlin took another drink, his hand shaking a bit, “I can see Kay doing this but why you, Yuri?”

Y: “I was terrified!”

“Of me?”

Y: “No, of course not. Of loosing myself. Arlin, I’m Japanese, not American. When I was brought to America as a child I was forced to throw away my family, my language, my culture, everything that made me what I was. I had to pretend to be something else. Then when this happened,” She raised her hands and tail, “I was afraid that I’d have to stop being human like I had to stop being Japanese. That’s why I went along with it.”

Kay saw Arlin Looking at her, “I know you people don’t care because you sleep with anything but I love Yuri. She loves me. At first it was hard knowing she was with you. When we three were together it was bearable but every time you chose her, it got harder and harder. Every time she came back to me smelling of you, I just wanted to hit the bulkhead so hard… It was killing me Arlin. I had to take it but I didn’t have to like it and when the Change came, all my anger and frustrations broke free. That’s why I drugged you and dropped you on Earth. That’s why we brought these women in. A variety so you won’t mind loosing me and Yuri. They take over the sex-duty and also we did need help running the ship.”

Arlin leaned back, thought and said, “I can accept that. I don’t know if we can change you back to human, I’m not even certain I can get rid of the green skin dye, but I’ll try. But for now, the big problem is avoiding Marduk. If he tracks you here, he can devastate Earth before Star Fleet arrives. He’s a pirate and has no respect for the Non-Interference policy.”

“You guys really do have a Non-Interference Policy?” Sarah asked.

“Yes, but Star Trek got it backwards. The policy isn’t to let you grow without hindrance, it’s to let them avoid contamination.” Yuri explained. “America has this idea of Manifest Destiny where they want to rule the world. They don’t say ‘rule’ but that is your goal and you even think you are doing the right thing. You refuse to learn other languages and expect us to learn English. You want the Dollar to be accepted everywhere but you won’t accept the Yen or Lira or Mark. You want your clothing to be the world-norm and want us to toss our national dress away. You want us all to be Americans. You even call your President the ‘Leader of the Free World’ but forget that no one elected him to that post. He just walked in, took it and demanded that everyone call him that. And if anyone argues, you invade them, kill their leader and put a puppet on the throne. You see it as ‘ensuring American Interests’, the rest of the world sees it as ‘American Imperialism’.” Yuri explained with some distaste. “What those missionaries and my foster parents did to me, your country is trying to do to the rest of the world. And you ALL think you are doing it out of love!” She yelled that last sentence.

Kay continued, “We think we are doing the world a favor but they see it differently. So if we move out into space and try to do that to another planet, they’ll simply destroy Earth to save themselves. Star Trek, Babylon 5, all the space shows show America meeting aliens and within a few years our technology is equal or better than theirs and we save the universe from the evil Shadows or Klingons or whomever who have had space travel for a thousand years. But the truth is that if we reach space and advance, they will be advancing too. By the time we catch up with them as they are now, they will have advanced a million years beyond us. We’ll never catch up. Arlin’s people will never catch up with the Demons even though the Demons take people like Arlin and teach then everything they know. By the time Arlin gets back and teaches his people everything he learned, it’s already obsolete and by the time they get it into production, it’s like an Indian being shanghaied onto a Galleon then by the time he teaches the other Indians how to make Galleons and they can do so, England has steam-powered steel ships. By the time the Indians can make an 18th century iron-clad, England has nuclear subs. They’ll never catch up and neither will we.”

Arlin added, “So the solution is to seal Earth off until you are civilized enough to be peaceful. The galaxy can handle a few people like Kay and Yuri and even you all but not entire nations. And the best way is to keep our identities a secret. If Earth thinks you are alone in the universe, you won’t try to reach out before you are civilized.”

Gabriela asked then, “Isn’t your flying around and letting the world photograph you revealing you to us?”

Y: “Normally yes, but what proof is there? A few photos? Anyone can do that. Lucas and Spielberg make a fortune doing that. All Starfleet has to do is to is fake a movie or such, let people think it is a conspiracy or a practical joke and… That’s why we played the bimbos, to confuse matters even more.”

K: “like fur shure,” Kay mimicking a valley-girl. “Like space travel is so totally cool, like you get to see really gross aliens but can’t get a cappuccino anywhere. Who would believe that could fly a starship?”

Gabriela came over and asked, “Arlin, I know we had a strange beginning, but my name is Gabriela Cardenas. I’m forty-four, middle-aged for human which makes me about four-hundred seventy by your standards. I’m divorced with three grown kids and I can get really mean when I PMS. I spent five years in jail for beating my husband when I was in that mood but I can usually control it. I don’t have much of a life here other than occasionally visit my grown kids who are too busy to call or write and even less occasionally play with my grandkids. And this seems like a second chance to me. Especially with all these kids here, I think a mature woman will be a good influence. So, I’d like to come along with you.” Arlin took her hand, kissed the palm and folded it to give a gentle squeeze. Gabe knew that she had been hired.

Amber was next, “Arlin, you know me. I think you.. well, god I feel like some stupid bitch trying to impress a jock. Arlin, I had everything growing up and never had to work for anything. I think you won’t care and will see me for what I really am. I’m smart, willing to work hard and want to try. Just be gentle with me next time until I get used to sex.” She laughed. He kissed her hand too.

“I’m Sarah Curtis, Professional Catholic Schoolgirl.” She laughed, “Every ship needs a sense of humor. Honestly, I was supposed to be with Amber but Gabe jumped in because I was out of state. I am smart or I wouldn’t be here, I read volumes of Science Fiction and am a Trekker, not a Trekkie so have wanted this all my life.” Then as an afterthought, quickly, “Oh yes, I’m a virgin so be gentle with me because I am really anxious to learn and am sorry I wasn’t here earlier.”

“I’m Barbara Arndt, the other old broad at thirty-three. I’m not certain I want to be here but maybe I need to be here. All this crime stuff and sleeping with young girls bothers me but Yuri and Kay say that your race has different standards so maybe I need to learn that. You see, I’ve never been more than a few dozen miles from the town I was born and raised in. I never even saw a black person until I was an adult and Yuri and Kay are the first lesbians I met. So I’ve lived a very sheltered life with very strict and now I see, narrow values. I was married at sixteen and divorced last year when my husband dumped me for some young bimbo at the truck-stop. It won’t be easy for either if us and I’ll be judgmental and opinionated but.. well, I figure that if I do this, maybe when I get back to Earth, I can help us grow up a little.”

“So, Arlin,” Kay asked, “We chose the best we could find under difficult circumstances and I think we did a damn good job. The ship is stocked with food and books and even a bunch of sex-toys so if you want to throw anyone off, do it now because we need to get away and draw Marduk away from Earth real fast.”

“Yuri, Kay, I know how much the sex part of your duties bothered you. I know up here,” he touched his head and heart, “but don’t understand it here,” he touched his stomach. “I tried to hold off as long as I could and sought others as often as was possible. I’m glad you took the effort to find replacements. The rest of you ladies, I like to think I am accommodating. But remember that I am not human and don’t think like a human so please do not expect me to act rationally by your standards.”

“Sounds like a typical man to me,” Gabe laughed. “Arlin, Barbara and I are used to men, believe me we don’t expect you to make any sense.”

Arlin stared with total incomprehension then continued, “The biggest problem is that we need to get along well and that means accept each other’s differences and quirks. If someone offends you, it is probably not deliberate but an accident so talk to the person, explain the problem and they will try to change and you will try to accept. Like some people see eating everything on your plate as polite, others see the same act as an insult. So if anyone offends, be polite and ask and explain and we will try to accommodate each other. If not, we will be happy to leave you on whatever planet you wish even if we have to return here for you.”

Arlin stood and said, “Grab what you need, let’s load up and Kay, don’t do that to me again.”

She kissed him and said, her arms still around his neck, “I won’t. Ok guys, let’s move it out.” Then to Barbara, “I told you he was forgiving. You don’t have to worry about us now.”

Barbara called out, “Hey Arlin, if you knew that sleeping with Yuri was bothering Kay, why the hell didn’t you just hire a straight women for the crew years ago and prevent all this trouble?”

Arlin looked at her then said, “Because they never told me that it bothered them that much and they never asked me to find another woman.”

Barbara froze and Amber whispered as she passed, “He’s a man! Unless you hit him with a 2 x 4, he thinks everything is fine. How long were you married and never learned that?” then she walked on laughing, “This is going to be a hoot!”

***

Earth turned slowly below, a blue-green jewel that took the breath of the crew away. Even Arlin who had seen thousands of worlds, paused to admire the beauty. Then Yuri announced, “Orbit established. Scanning… no other activity. What now?”

“Kay, Find the Security Satellite His Grace put in orbit and make a report. Tell them what happened, what to expect and request a warship to keep an eye open for Marduk. If he follows your trail here, he’ll decimate the planet before the Fleet arrives. I’d like them to be waiting.” Then turning to Yuri, “Plot a course back the way you came. If we run now, Marduk will follow here, mark Terra for future raiding and continue after us. If he meets us going back, he may not check where we were and not discover Terra. But also plot a running course to the Commonwealth and maybe we can lead them into out territory to meet a real military force. Also keep watch for any Demon Ship. If we are chased, we can run for cover and let the Demons deal with Marduk.”

“The same Demons who enslaved you? You expect them to help?” Barbara asked first but all were thinking the same thing.

“Of course. Drakonis may be independent but the Demons still see us as their … I don’t know the English word. Not property but like property. Kay? Yuri?”

“Earth is a protectorate of Drakonis and Arlin’s people protect Earth from people like Marduk. Drakonis is a protectorate of the Demons who protect all Weir, fight for the empire and in turn, take whomever they wish for their tech-slaves. Sort of like paying taxes only the Demons want their taxes paid in people.”

“Thank you. If we are being chased, the Demons will protect us, IF we can find them.”

Gabe laughed, “Will wonders ever cease, a man who isn’t afraid to ask for help. I suppose he also asks for directions?”

K: “Sometimes. Message ready. Do you want to review it, Arlin?”

“Is there a reason to question?”

Shrugging, Kay continued, “Message transmitted and received. Now I guess we can leave.”

Looking around, Arlin asked, “Does anyone have any unfinished business on Terra? Anything else to load?” All had done that while waiting and how many times can you tell your family goodbye, especially to people to whom you could give no details and who felt that they were better able to run your life than you were.

Just before they broke orbit, Sarah thought of something, “Arlin, if this communications satellite has been up here all that time, and if you are some kind of technical genius, why didn’t you just build a radio and call for help?”

He looked back, “And embarrass my family by admitting that I couldn’t rescue myself?”

“But you didn’t. We rescued you.” She said with a certain amount of smugness. “Is it so embarrassing to admit that you were hoodwinked by a couple women?”

“I don’t understand the word, ‘hoodwinked’ but I gather it means conned?”

“Something like that.”

“No, why would I be embarrassed by that?”

Kay laughed and broke in, “Sarah, Drakonis is an empire that covers more than fifty star-systems stretched over almost 10,000 cubic light years. It is so large that if your parents announced your birth on one end by radio, you would be long dead of old age before the signal reached the other end. It’s big! Bigger than I can imagine and I deal with stellar distances. And do you know who the Emperor of this place is? An immigrant! Kimama, the Dictator of the entire Drakonis Empire is a Comanche Indian Squaw from the 19th century Texas. She’s ruled Drakonis for almost seventy years. Drakonans aren’t embarrassed by women who are as good or better than they are. Not even if the woman is a lop-tail dayfly human.”

“Besides, I wasn’t rescued, YOU all came to retrieve me because you needed me. Whenever you are ready Kay.”

The dome overhead shimmered and the stars turned slightly blue as the ship accelerated out at sublight then as the Earth faded beneath, the Myship went Hyper and the stars ahead went violet. “Course laid in and we are on course. I don’t like this Arlin but I guess that we have to do it to protect Earth. Have you any plans?”

“Not much, return to Glamdering, steal Marduk’s Crystal, sell it to someone very rich, use some of the money to hire an assassin to kill Marduk and go home for a vacation.”

“You make it sound so easy. I hope we live long enough to spend some of that money.” Yuri laughed.

“If you wanted to live forever, you wouldn’t be here.”

END



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by: Rick Johnson
PO Box 40451
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