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Floating in the vastness of sidereal darkness, the battlecruiser Death of Hope overlooked its crash-landed prey like an ancient predator, looming over it with an aura of foreboding menace. If the Terrans thought that a stray hulk of accumulated space-trash could save them, then they had judged foolishly wrong. The Kthid could think of no better opportunity to breach and storm that freighter‘s vulnerable hull. It was merely a matter of time before its precious cargo would be theirs.
Through a front-window of palatial size, Sarcand observed that downed colony-ship with nearly trance-like stillness, the only sign of his consciousness the flitting of his slitted eyes as he looked between the viewport and a half-dozen screens flashing data across them. The alien captain sat seated upon a grand technogothic command-throne in the very center of the room. That nearby azure gas-giant loomed vast and kingly in the background of his immobilized quarry as he peered down, waiting, watching.
The door in the back of the room opened and the Terran woman who had been born with the name Miranda entered the spacious command-deck, the portal sliding open soundlessly so to permit her ghostly passage. Only a skeleton crew of dedicated technicians remained within to master the warship’s most essential consoles. This left the room mostly silent save for the occasional chirping of computing panels and the perpetual low hum of the ship’s mighty engines. With the subdued mannerism of a servant, Miranda headed towards the source of absolute authority in her life, her bare soles padding against the floor. Arriving at that lonesome and exalted chair, she went down on her knees and offered obsequence towards his alien greatness, lowering her head.
“I have returned, Master,” she said, voice sweet and honeyed.
Appearance-wise, the naked human more resembled the favorite concubine of some barbaric warlord than an ennobled woman born of the stellar-age. Her curvaceous figure was left starkly exposed except for piercings and jewelry meant to beautify its already resplendent charms. Akin to the Heitera of old, she wore only golden bracelets, anklets and a slim belly-chain which encircled her toned stomach, alongside a becoming circlet which crossed her forehead and was in-laced with numerous coin-like valuables. Gold shined against her dark skin and glistened off her crimson hair, and adorned in these decadent ornamentation, her bountiful breasts and shaved pubic-mound were left shamefully bare to be ogled. It was a collection of adornments that would have mortified any self-respecting woman on earth and yet… Miranda was still almost certainly the best dressed female on the entire ship.
More noteworthy than these sexualized trinkets though, was the sheer indisputable magnificence of Miranda’s body. In Sarcand’s life he had never once found a woman of any species he did not think attractive, but Miranda was something special. Just from the breathtaking details of her sculptured physique, the smoothness of her dark skin, one could tell that she was a remarkable person, born to do remarkable things. Standing at a queenly height, she possessed the idealized proportions of a world-class athlete, yet effortlessly retained an abundance of voluptuous sex-appeal and curvature as well. Her cowed lineaments were still discernibly bold and dignified, as if once having been the very embodiment of freedom.
All-in-all, Miranda appeared to possess the uncurbed, unconquerable personality of some ancient heroine out of Terran myth… and yet dressed like a sordid pleasure-slave on her knees, her cadence was that of the broken. This disparity in her identity was the consequence of a long and mettlesome feud between herself and the man whose feet she currently groveled before. Remaining with her head down, Miranda struggled not to tremble before Huntermaster Sarcand… her owner.
“The boarding ships have been fully manned, my Lord,” she dutifully relayed, “as you commanded. The human Colony Ship is ready to be assailed at your command. They will be able to make beachhead without losses.” She blushed in shame.
The behemoth seated upon that grandiose command-throne offered his property no reply. The computers embedded in his armrest signaled that the vessel’s mainframe had finally finished processing an input he had made during the astral skirmish. That Earth-vessel known as Midgar-6 had hailed them with radio-transmissions shortly after the attack had commenced, pleading for communication… for mercy. These had been recorded, even if they had not then been allowed to come through. No Kthid would sink to parlay with their prey. Now, his holograph-device was ready to illuminate a profile of the ship’s designated Captain, she who had made the calls.
A doll-sized figurine of Captain Amara Black shimmered into view before him, rotating slowly in mid-air so to highlight her entire body. Leaning forward within his chair, Sarcand’s eyes narrowed and his throat elicited a gruff grunt in interest. He studied her statuesque shape as if intending to assess its every curve and detail.
Seeing the hologram, Miranda felt a terrible tremble run through her body. The deep feeling of self loathing that had been building for days peaked as she saw the woman’s face, her throat feeling suddenly dry. She knew something. Her master would want her to say it… but if she said it, she was lost. It had been a long time since such a twang of doubt had entered her gut, what precious humanity she had possessed long since been whipped from her flesh.
“So this is their so-called Captain?” Sarcand spoke for the first time, voice deep and masculine. The translator built into one of the rings on his horns remained silent… Miranda had long since been forced to learn the Kthid tongue. “The Sachem in charge of the million prey-animals you promised?”
Miranda had to reply, but by speaking, there was no way that she would be able to hide the hint of disloyalty within her soul. Though it pained her, making such sacrifices had long since become part of her nature to survive. Crushing that faint remembrance of her former affections, she swallowed… and spoke. “Yes, Master. Almost a million, with most of these individuals suspended in cryosleep. Moreover, it appears this lowly Sachem is also your concubine’s biological birth-sister. Her Terran name is Amara.”
The alien on the throne erupted into demonic cachinnation, a hissing series of threatening growls that made Miranda’s skin crawl – millions of years of instinct warning her it was the sound of a predator preparing to attack, even if she consciously recognized the sound of his amusement. His fist smashed into the armrest as his ribcage bobbed in time to the sounds, armored plating bobbing with the motion. Finishing his eruptive mirth, the big creature’s wide lips tugged upwards into a lewdly intrigued grin, sickeningly close to the human equivalent and exposing a mouth full of fangs. The hot flame of imperial lusts was welling up inside Sarcand’s groin with a prodigious pulse that he hadn’t felt since enslaving Miranda in one-on-one combat.
The physical resemblance between them matched that of close kin. Amara’s hair was a trifle darker, Miranda’s facial features a tad sharper. But they possessed the same strong build and voluptuous appeal, both gifted with splendid genes who had honed their bodies to perfection.
“Is she?” he growled, a pleased note in his voice. “Well then… we shall see if this human known as Amara deserves a spot among my personal Heitaras too.” His voice filled with rapacious hunger, the predator continued. “…Or if she will get thrown down to the dogs and the casteless for my amusement.” Sarcand shook his head. “To sail a ship through the void without even a weapon… your species are truly destined to be meat to the Kthid.”
The kneebound slave stifled a gulp, killing her emotions. She made the decision, here and now, to render any fondness she had for her sister void. If things stood between herself and her sister… then Miranda would elect to survive. As she always had… to survive, no matter what.
Learning this news made Sarcand regret that he did not storm the Midgar himself. As the Kthid genome-sages had already confirmed that Miranda was a slave of virtually impeccable breeding-stock, the appearance of a biological relative was most auspicious news. The capture of another such high-ranked female would make his name far-famed and feared among all the Kthid warbands… Which would serve his ambitions under the unlight of the Dark Star well.
Still, if she was worthy, she wouldn’t allow some mere unblooded casteless prawn to subdue her… and if she did, then likely she would be unworthy of his time anyway. He would wait and see.
Pressing a button on his armrest, the huntmaster gave clearance to begin the attack. Almost immediately, they could both see an armada of dropships be launched towards the prone and defenseless colony-ship through that palatial window.
“My genes have been given the blessing of the Dark Star,” he declared, shifting his chair so to face his kneebound slave. Seated naked, the enormous, scaled cock between his strong legs had grown rigid with aggressive excitement for the conquest to come. Its green flesh jutted towards Miranda’s deliciously soft mouth, the loveliness of which it was much familiar. “Soon your species will be wiped from the cosmos like so many others have to the glory of the Dark Star… and the taking of your… Midgar-6… will be the first battle,” he told her.
Miranda accepted the inevitable. She had learned and endured too much to disbelieve her master’s words. Fawning slovenly while leaning in towards his crotch, she parted her luscious lips and sucked.
Wailing sirens blared and red emergency lights flashed as Amara’s footfalls pounded heavy against the hallway. “Dammit, activate your Aegis!” she yelled at some ensigns sprinting in the opposite direction. “We don’t know how intact the hull is. Any second, we could be exposed to vacuum!”
They all tapped a button built into their skintight uniforms, making them shine for a second as a translucent field momentarily bent visible light around their form before it stabilized. After a second the shine faded to just a minor discoloration, 99% of visible light passing through. Amara didn’t stop to watch, however… she just kept running. The Aegis was the modern replacement of the astronaut’s suit, an electromagnetic field that surrounded the crewmember, and while the life-saving sheeting was as form-fitting as their regulation uniforms, it was more than close enough not to get in the way of most activities. Generally, the main problem with the Aegis was that it was so inconspicuous that many inexperienced servicemen forgot if they had it on or not.
Rounding a corner in full-sprint, the Captain bumped headlong into some incoming person. They collided hard, the impact of their collision sending Amara stumbling backwards and the smaller woman flying to the floor as if struck, tumbling and rolling in her fall as she tripped. To her great dismay, Amara found that it was Ri’she’a that she had so savagely tackled. Concern for the green-skinned Sethi’s condition instantly made her break rank and go down on her knees to help her up.
“I’m so sorry! Are you alright!?” the Captain said.
“Yeah,” Ri’she’a replied, not keeping to rank herself either, rubbing the back of her skull while rising.
That their clash would have gone so poorly for the Sethis was no surprise. The alien woman stood a head shorter than Amara – She was petite and svelte while the Captain possessed the statuesque built of an athlete. Still worried that she had injured the helmwoman somehow, Amara stroked her hand through the woman’s soft hair of flowers rising from her scalp. Those minute leaves were colored a myriad of bright colors and incredibly soft to the touch.
“Really, I’m fine,” she whispered a bit coyly, gently pushing away the human’s arm and re-straightening her petals, self consciously.
Amara felt her vocal-cords stiffen as she sought for some other words of comfort to say in a moment like this. Her concern for the helmswomen lay well beyond the usual sense of responsibility an active commander felt for her subordinates… and Ri’she’a was well aware. They were, after all, lovers.
Their nightly trysts had begun shortly after the helmswoman had been assigned to the ship, during the training sessions for this expedition… intimacy guarded by the unique degree of privacy that a Captain’s quarters offered. It would be nearly impossible to keep anything secret from the ship’s Exalted overseer otherwise, and they needed to – their amorous tryst was incredibly irresponsible. A sexual relationship between an a ranking officer and her crew was grounds for dishonorable dismissal. Those regulations were sometimes quietly ignored… but on a high-profile venture like this, discovery would undoubtedly lead to a media-frenzy that would sully their reputations down to the very pixels that made up the history lessons. Both of them were well aware they gambled everything by having their affair, and that it was stupid… but the heart wanted what it wanted. Hot emotions ruled their attraction, shoving them together like magnets.
Amara had always been a woman who relied more on her own intuition than logic, even in situations like these… she had went with what felt right. She always had.
Of course, neither of them had counted on a disaster like this striking to make things even more complicated.
The unusually empathetic Sethis read the worried consideration on Amara’s face and offered a tight-lipped smile in sympathy. It was the sort of smile that informed a person that no words needed to be spoken. After all, they had now found themselves in a much more dangerous situation than the mere reveal of some nighttime activities. Being outgoing as she was, the young pilot had proved no master at hiding her ardent affections during their voyage. There were no shortage of small loving gestures, glances, and affections, but thus far no one had noticed. The cynics of the crew merely thought Ri’she’a a sycophant while those more positive-minded just assumed the girl to be friendly by nature.
The smile relieved Amara enough to make her recall the desperate urgency of the moment. For just a second, she felt peace. Then she nodded. “We have to hurry,” she reminded her subordinate.
The Sethis nodded and the two were off — Ri’she’a struggling to keep pace with Amara’s lengthy strides as they pounded back down the hallway.
Returning to the command-bridge, Amara found it in great disarray. Lights flickered and partly-smashed consoles gave off fierce electric sparkles, every apparatus seemingly jumbled and tossed-around from the hurriedly-planned crash. It was a lot better than being blown out of space, though. The viewport showed a disjointed mess… not surprising, since it was really just a consolidated video feed from dozens of cameras that had no doubt been broken during their crash landing or buried in the heaps of sundered metal and rock which constituted the abnormally large construct they rested upon.
Inside, she found Ki’ani’i who supported a wounded-looking Leila Evangeline in a torn uniform, as well as other gathered staff-officers. Amara raised her eyebrow at the Leila’s state, and her security officer looked back at her and mouthed “later.” Amara nodded back. It would have to wait. According to her orders, all present had armed themselves. The Captain had made a frantic get-away to her personal quarters to safeguard certain documents crucial to HEF command and fetch her trusted lasgun… as well as grab a personal effect or two while she was there. Before that, she had ordered a general exodus of the Midgar-6. Everyone was to head out onto the fused and twisted hull of the enormous false asteroid. Atalanta was currently processing which of the numerous exit-ports were accessible for exit, since the front-parts of the spacecraft lay submerged into that debris. The injured and dead likewise needed to be accounted for… the last thing Captain Black wanted was to leave a soul behind. Any potential damage to the hibernation-pods also needed to be assessed, but those were most likely the least worrisome of their problems. Those cryoanimation tanks had been constructed out of the sturdiest materials and designs known to Earth scientists. If the crew was alive through the crash and the reactor hadn’t spiked and killed all of them, then most assuredly the colonists would be fine. It seemed strange to consider how none of those sleeping individuals had even an inkling of the extraordinary danger they were all in.
Adrenaline blasted through her bloodstream as a deafening boom rocked the megastructure. It was as if the Midgar-6 had been hit by one enormous hammer, a quake turning their footing precarious. The sound reverberated like the hollow blast of a bomb through the ship as a slightly-panting Ri’she’a reached the command-deck as well.
Almost immediately, a hologram-image of Atalanta materialized before them. Though her luminescent figure was distorted with brief malfunctions of static, the voice remained crystal-clear and authoritative. “The enemy has landed numerous shuttle-analogs all over the Midgar and are in the process of breaching its hull at multiple locations. Whatever equipment they’re using, the casing is no match for it,” the Exalted reported.
“Already!?” Amara exclaimed. “I thought we had an hour—”
“These are no terrestrial adversaries nor Void Tracers we’re facing,” Atalanta interrupted, casually interrupting the Captain. “I warned you the accuracy of the estimates was suspect. Normal calculations cannot be considered credible in a crisis like this, with so many unknowns.”
There was another baleful blast that resounded all around them. What power could be producing such a cacophony? Ri’she’a gazed at the high-roofed ceiling as if expecting some monster to break through right above them.
“Dammit!” Amara growled, fumbling for the right course of action. The ethereal calm of that archaic heroine stressed her out even more. She closed her eyes, trying to think.
“Their ground-forces will most likely prove as overwhelming as their Dreadnought,” Atalanta said. “I have come to the conclusion that Cargo Bay-B is the only natural exit-point in the ship’s current position. This opening leads directly into a cave-like aperture within this… Hulk. In fact, initial scans to the limit of our radar show that its entire structure seems mined-out, like the tunnels of an ant hive. Retreats and maneuvers seem possible within its safety.”
“So the plan remains the same, then,” Amara said, still thinking. “All non-essential crew to Cargo Bay B. We may also need to establish defensive-positioning if the need arises to stall their advance…” she looked at Ki’an’i, and the security officer nodded and began speaking into her communicator, relaying orders. “Atalanta, alert the rest of the crew concerning the escape route. We will hold the invaders off on the direct line between them and our objective.” She looked around. “Evy, are you finished?”
The officer held up her communicator by way of display. “She’s here,” Evy promised.
Amara swallowed unhappily. If the ship was to be abandoned, protocol was to make a backup of Atalanta to bring with them… but they couldn’t bring the Midgar-6’s copy with them. Without the resources for a true transfer, she would have to be left behind for the backed up, compressed copy. True, the Exalted had long ago come up with a solution for the Theseus Ship problem that satisfied them in that any copies made would eventually sync back into one being, but there was no guarantee of recovery for the digital heroine. They would be leaving her behind… and even though Amara was well on her way to loathing the hostile woman, it sat poorly with her to potential abandon one of her crew, but if they had to abandon ship there wasn’t much choice.
Her copy wasn’t even likely to be helpful anymore, either. While they were capable of carrying around enough data to carry a compressed set of the data that was Atalanta’s mind and memories, they didn’t have the computer power to simulate her in an equally mobile fashion. Without the resources of the ship at her disposal, the insufferable Exalted woman wouldn’t even be as smart as a smart human anymore, not until she was back in a suitable computer. She would continue syncing and sharing thoughts with the shipboard version, allowing her to act as normal, but only until they were out of wireless data exchange range with the Midgar-6. After that, the new copy would be on her own.
The Captain shook her head… Amara didn’t have time to worry about this now. She would find a way to get Atalanta out too. “Move!” she commanded. Turning, Amara spotted the brown-haired science officer Kelindra hastening towards the bridge, hefting a bundle of star-cannons within both her arms. These devices constituted the greatest firepower of the Midgar-6’s arsenal. Invented as mining equipment and designed to blast mini-asteroids into molecular dust, they had the appearance of large, shoulder mounted tubes, almost like an old rocket launcher. Amara had no idea what was going to come out of those ships, but she was confident that these would give them a chance to take them down. “Hand those out and get ready to run, Kelindra!” she ordered.
Ki’an’i, Ri’she’a, Eve and everyone else had already started following orders. Amara looked around and tried not to sweat as she checked the route again, and got ready to move out.
While double-pacing through the hallways, the Captain maintained communication with Atalanta while Ki’an’i took on the task of handing out star-cannons to guard-teams which they passed. Loud booms and blaring sirens were all around them. The grand vessel, one of the largest and grandest humanity had ever produced, was moribund and the thought filled the officers with a sense of loss as they ran.
During their high-speed retreat, they ran straight past the medical bays, where Anna and a pair of other doctors continued to work. In their present panic, no one even noticed that the raven-haired medical-officer and most of the rest of the medical team was still inside and manning her console… No one except Ri’she’a, who stopped in shock and alarm. “Anna! What are you doing!? The order is to abandon ship!” the green-skinned girl yelled.
Anna looked back at her, face distressed. “I can’t,” she yelled back over the sirens. “I have to see to the safety of the colonists!”
“But they’re locked in!” the Sethis woman countered, eye wide as she listened to the medical officer like she was howling at the moon. “They’re in way less danger than we are. Their pods can’t even be opened without approval from the ships officers, and all the tubes are reinforced wit—”
“I cannot take that chance!” Anna vehemently retorted, fingers still dancing over her keyboard.
“Anna… what if they mean to kill everyone on board?” Ri’she’a said, almost too quietly to hear over the sirens.
“What if they don’t?” Anna countered. “These unknown aliens may try to force the tubes open and in doing so kill the people in cryosleep! There are almost a million people here and they’re my responsibility. If there is anything I can do to save their lives, I’m not leaving them. Now go! Don’t bother with me, I’ll be fine… If they were going to kill us all, they would have just starting nuking the station instead of boarding us.”
Ri’she’a was stunned by the woman’s fidelity to duty. The medical-officer had barely even looked up from her console while exchanging their words. It seemed like nothing would be able to stray her from her task. She just hoped that she was right and these invaders didn’t kill her on sight. Heart conflicted, the Sethis continued running, leaving Dr Constantos to her fate.
“What!?” Amara gasped after hearing the AI’s report.
“The enemy’s attack teams are advancing too quickly through the ship,” the holographic figure of Atalanta repeated. “At this pace, merely a fifth of our crew will make it off-ship before they hunt you all down. We need some stalling action. Their vanguard is almost upon your position.”
“Oh god!” Ri’she’a exclaimed, betraying her atheist creed for the second time in one day.
“This is as defensible a position as we’re going to find, Captain,” Ki’an’i pointed out.
Amara looked around… the Sethis wasn’t wrong. They were in the cargo section of the ship, where it began to spread out more into multiple pathways towards the holds. The room they were in was shaped like a half-moon, with the hostiles set to emerge from the lone door set in its perpendicular direction. On the convex end, there were numerous doors and pathway from which to take cover behind. Those attackers could be funneled into overwhelming weapon fire. If they were going to fight, then this was the perfect position.
The Captain nodded and issued the order at once. Everyone scrambled to get behind corners and doorways. Readied crewmen checked their lasguns, those brandishing star-cannons hefting the mighty armaments upon their shoulders. There was another terrifying explosion in the distance. Ill-experienced in actual combat, many of the sailors felt goosebumps and cold sweat rupture their concentration. Hearts drumming heavy, they existed in the lull between anticipation and battle.
Flattening herself against a wall, Amara peeked into the room and beheld those soon-to-be-breached double-doors. Ri’she’a stood right behind her. “You are the Navy of the Terran Federation,” the Captain said with as much false calm as she could put into her voice, readying her own weapon and hoping her words were inspiring. “And you will hold this corridor.”
Spotting something, the petite Sethis leaned forwards and looked at the pocket of her Captain’s uniform. From there protruded the top of a photograph. She didn’t need to see it all to identify whom it depicted. Always emphatic, she whispered so that no other could hear. “You took her picture with you?”
The red-haired woman felt felt momentarily chagrined at having this act of wartime sentimentality uncovered. Pressed by the situation, she refuted the embarrassment. A curt “yes!” was the reply… but just the reminder of her legendary sister forced Amara Black to think of her, as much as she tried not to.
She wished Miranda were here.
How could it have been Amara who became the first Starfleet officer in history to encounter the first intelligent aliens inimical to mankind? It should have been her older sister. Miranda would have been the one equipped to deal with a perilous and novel confrontation such as this. Back at the Academy, Amara had been the one who studied all night and was forced to memorize textbooks while Miranda possessed the sort of natural brilliance in martial affairs that made her above to such concerns. She had been named after the moon of Neptune, since their parents felt it inevitable that she would take to the stars. Already as a student, Miranda Black had achieved media-renown for winning debates and duels against seasoned professors in fields as diverse as navigation to small-unit tactics. The citizenry already pegged her as a future Exalted, one of those once-a-decade Heroines who achieved such excellence in the HEF that their consciousness would be uploaded into a digital afterlife upon death, just as Atalanta had years ago. Amara had lived most of her life in the shadow of a titan… and if she was being honest, she had liked it like that.
And then Miranda had disappeared.
Her sister’s disappearance within this scarcely-explored quadrant of the galaxy during an exploration-mission rendered it impossible to stay safely in the shadow of her greatness. That unrivaled heroine was now lost among the vastness of space, and while she was technically listed as missing, Amara was optimistic, not stupid… ‘Missing’ in the vastness of space meant ‘Dead.’ This should have been Miranda’s mission… she had discovered the world, had built and towed the Lilis wurmholes necessary to get here. It should have been her world to colonize. Compared to her sister, Amara was just the designated replacement from the rank-and-file of Federation Captains, a second-best choice to lead this expedition.
Distinct noises of battle were now audible. Steeling her nerves, the dark skinned woman banished her thoughts and married finger to trigger. She could even hear the thunderous approach of their footfalls. Knowing that the barrage would soon arrive, she gazed down the barrel of her gun, waiting. Everyone remained quiet…
The doors into the room exploded outward in a rush, rupturing from their hinges as if bulldozed by a train. A multi-directional barrage of laser-fire and plasma-blasts immediately hit that freshly-created aperture, firing from the crew under Amara’s command. Marching in single-file, hulking warriors totally encased in multi-layered metal armor marched through the fray like it was nothing. There were only three of them in total, yet none seemed disconcerted at being outnumbered or out-positioned. With the air already replete with super-heated missiles and the scent of ozone, the invaders lifted weapons calmly and returned fire.
Storming in like a herd of rampaging monsters, their ferocity and eagerness to fight took every one of the astronauts off-guard. Catching her first sight of these mysterious adversaries, Amara’s heart clutched in awe.
The aliens were tall and burly, appearing like devil-knights out of holy books underneath all that protective plating. A short, armored tail swung behind them, more like a clubbing weapon than something delicate like most Terran life. Their physique was decisively humanoid, only in greater proportions, like giants bred for brute strength and warfare. A full head taller than even the tall Amara, each of them donned some kind of space-aged bassinet helm with protruding snouts, the featureless armor revealing nothing of the identity or facial characteristics underneath.
The shimmer on impact betrayed that their suits were no mere collection of dead metal, but protected by a field much like the Aegis themselves as well. This wasn’t altogether surprising to Amara – the academy on Earth had taught that any alien species that had mastered spaceflight would almost per forma need to have learned to create something like the Aegis – but based on the amount of punishment it was capable of taking it was clearly far more powerful that the ones the humans had made. They wielded double-barreled guns which, for a human, would need to be mounted on a tripod or a vehicle to be wielded efficiently.
At the battle’s opening, Kelindra leaned out from her cover while shouldering a star-cannon, ready to take the shot. Before she could, however, one of those barrels pumped backwards while discharging its munition… some sort of pulse instead of a proper missile or laser blast, a blast of air which sent the science officer flying backwards for several meters and leaving her knocked out cold. Amara’s mind raced with the implications of this. Non-lethal weaponry. They were trying to take them alive!
Right afterward, however, a male ensign who stood on the opposite end of the doorway she was hiding behind stepped out to fire a volley from his lasgun. One brawny catapract promptly turned in his direction and let loose once again. But this time, it was the second barrel of the weapon which let fire. This time, some cast of monstrously powerful laser blast that burned her eyes flashed between them, cracking against the human’s Aegis field and shattering through. In a second, the ensign explode like a boiling water-balloon, blood and viscera showered in every direction, splashing the sides of Amara and Ri’she’a in pure liquefied gore that had once been a human. Seeing such abrupt butchery and kill-power, the Sethis woman froze, mouth gaping in a silent scream of shock.
The Captain wasn’t much less dumbstruck by the savagery that had just occurred. Such power! He had been obliterated in an instant, right beside them. For a human born in this century, such a sight was an incomprehensible barbarity. Nation-scale warfare was a thing of the past. The biggest conflict this generation had seen were against pirates and generals going rogue so as to make themselves the autocrats of barely civilized space stations and proto-colonies on moons. Such a blast of red death was beyond anything Amara had ever expected to see.
For an instant, the Captain vacillated between being frozen in horror like Ri’she’a and feeling an increased desperation to fight welling up inside her. The combination of the armor whatever electro-magnetic shields they were using was holding up far too well against their weapon fire. Beholding their skirmish going poorly, her instincts to lead and to safeguard her terrified lover took over. It was up to her to end this before their positions were completely overrun! Only drastic actions could turn a tide like this. The Captain had to do something.
She screamed, dashing out from behind cover and charging the hostiles. The ironclad beasts had broken off in three different directions so to assail their various groupings… if they had stayed together, charging them would have been suicidal… but they hadn’t. From up close, she could get inside their shields. The center-most alien had been the spearhead of their advance, and in doing so taken the blunt of the barrage. His grey covering was peppered with black scorch-marks, riles of smoke emanating from his bulk due to overheating of his internal systems. Cracks and painful-looking indentations showed where one of the star-cannons had hit home. Ambling as if about to tip over, wearing all this damage had slowed his reactions… just as Amara gambled.
With a gymnastic leap and a roll, the redhaired woman managed to dodge underneath his responding concussive blast. This athletic maneuver brought her within arms-length of him. Armor as heavy as this was unknown to modern earthlings, but their history provided examples… it had to obey the same rules of physics that governed their Terran counterparts. If something as thickly-plated as this wished to move, then it had to provide seams… and those cracks were weak-points.
Guessing on its most vulnerable points, Amara shoved her rifle-tip up against his armpit as if wielding a puncturing dagger and held down the trigger from inside his shields, discharging almost her entire battery pack in one hot burst of rapidfire shots. Her instincts proved correct. As that barrel discharged red-hot energy at point-blank range, the massive Alien jerked violently and unleashed a shrill howl. Blood spurted profusely from the opened wound, colored dark crimson just like with terrestrial mammals.
In his blinding agony, the creature’s fingers clenched and began firing both barrels on automatic. Seeing her opportunity, the Captain dropped her rifle and grabbed that injured limb with both of hers. Though said arm was almost the size of her torso, she managed to wrestle it in the direction of his leftward ally, bringing his bulk in-line of fire. Having heard his anguished comrades outcry, that fearsome behemoth turned in their direction. The ill-advised maneuver resulted in him receiving a face-full of the scarlet detonations. That protruding helmet imploded inward as if smashed by a hammer. He tumbled over backwards with extremities splayed wide, smote dead within an instant. Judging by the way blood squirted frenziedly through the seams, parts of his skull must have been crushed by that severely dented helmet.
Exhilarated with triumph, Amara sensed blood flooding over her from the wounded xeno’s armpit, sheeting her figure in its hot embrace. Enraged by what had just occurred, he spent the waning seconds of his life attempting to grapple and strangle the human leader. Though he was greatly sapped of energy, the Alien’s strength was still so tremendous that Amara couldn’t dislodge herself from his person with any commanding speed. This provided time for that last remaining invader to take aim of Amara with his twin-barreled cannon. The cold dread of mortality overtook her… She did not expect him to employ the stun-blast after what she had done to his friends!
Then Ki’an’i sprang to her rescue.
The Sethis security officer had grabbed the downed Kelindra’s star-cannon and leapt into the fray. Emerging by his side as he turned and exposed his blind spot, she rose up and fired that tube-shaped weapon directly at his head at nearly point-blank range, snapping the skull backward as if punted with by a titan. A small crater appeared on the side of his armored head… and yet this injury did not prove fatal. Spinning with the tremendous recoil of the weapon, the Sethis Templar spun with inhuman grace and smashed its other end down onto that exact same position as if wielding a quarterstaff. There was a solid crashing noise, and the creature underneath looked stunned… yet he did not drop.
Their duel descended into a close-quarters boxing-match. Ki’an’i dodged and weaved with expert agility, even pivoting out of his way when the behemoth attempted a bull-rushing takedown. She had a cool-headed poise which lent her the style of an analytical combatant. Her eyes were only half open, her limbs seemingly lax and relaxed until they snapped into motion… deep in a battle-trance.
It would have been hypnotic to watch if Amara wasn’t so busy fighting for her life. Ki’an’i was no mere warrior, no normal security officer. She was a member of the monastic fellowship known as the Templars, and it showed with every movement of her body. Formed in the wake of the first human contact with the Void Tracers, the order of warriors was made of men and women who had given themselves to higher ideals, seeing themselves less as people and more as facilitators towards achieving the goals of the Federation. Essentially, they were stellar-aged stoics, people who possessed a complete dedication to fulfilling their designated tasks. Such rigorous philosophical discipline was built and maintained through calisthenics and meditation. Sociologists had often remarked that even though few Sethis chose paths of warfare or conflict, the Templar’s popularity among the Sethis was most likely due to their mitigated emotional stimuli compared to humans, which caused them to see the world through more detached eyes and have minds which gravitated towards abstraction. For Ki’an’i, this manifested itself as a computer-like scanning of her opponent, those amber eyes observing his swings and hooks without erupting with a single hint of alarm.
Amara shook it off. The green-skinned Sethis couldn’t emerge victorious merely by dodging his blows. Amara had to intervene!
Still engaged in her grapple, the Captain reached down to retrieve her lasgun and then aimed its snout towards the back of the cataract’s knee. A blast of super-heated plasma assailed the vulnerable joint. The damage forced him to stagger and bow, rendering the beast momentarily immobilized by the loss of one limb. Now Ki’an’i could align her second shoot with the star-cannon straight towards his armored visage. This time, the helmet didn’t hold. A potent blast detonated his cephalic top into nothing but bloody pulp. Just like the other invaders who had attempted to seize the Midgar-6, he fell over dead.
Amara paid for it, however. The alien, bleeding out as he was, still managed one last retaliation before expiring like his friends. His huge fist came down in a club-like chop on top of her head… and the Captain couldn’t get out of the way quickly enough. Amara’s thoughts went blank and her body collapsed forward.
“Don’t move, you might have a concussion!” Ri’she’a said with great concern, one hand placed on her shoulder while the other wiped off the masses of blood which had come to coat much of Amara’s person.
Amara doubted that. Though her thoughts had wandered pretty thoroughly in her daze, the Captain had never gone out fully, thank the stars… she couldn’t afford a concussion right now. She had been badly knocked senseless, however… her thoughts scrambled and instantly turned intensely groggy as her chaotic mind galloped with frantic nonsense. The instinct of fighting for survival was still dominating her faculties, making her try to rise and strike at everyone around her. Ri’she’a eased her through the recovery, gentle as a saint. When the captain had fully regained her senses, the helmswoman smiled and whispered to her lover. “Are you alright?”
“Yes…” Amara wheezed.
“You and Ki’an’i took out those beasts practically all by yourselves. You saved all of us. You are amazing.” She chucked, laughing nervously. “I would kiss you if you weren’t so covered in blood,” she lauded, flattering the Captain like a wreath-wearing heroine.
None around them could hear the exchange — but the forbidden intimacy on the Sethis’ face read loud and clear. Ri’she’a was very emotional for one of the Sethis, or at least more openly so – existing on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the ice-veined Ki’an’i, – and she really, really was not adept at hiding her feelings. The Captain hoped that no one would guess at their amorous relationship. It seemed a strange thing to worry about right now. Though longing for the embrace of those lips, it really was good that the pilot couldn’t kiss her after all.
Rising, Amara rubbed at the aching parts of her skull, Ri’she’a peeling back locks of hair to check and make sure there was no laceration. During her brief bout of senselessness, their unit worked to rouse those female Astronauts who had been stunned and then congregated in the crescent-shaped room. There hadn’t been many men among them – the crew was practically all female, after all – but due to the Alien’s use of lethal force solely towards males, only female servicemen now remained among their rank at all. Having recovered her bearings fully, the Captain peered down towards those fallen and helmeted invaders with a gaze of grave curiosity.
“It’s time to see what we’re dealing with,” she spoke. “Take off that helm.”
Ki’an’i nodded in reply, the green-hued woman walking over to the best-preserved specimen, the one whom had bled-out. Employing her lasgun, the Sethi placed its slim muzzle underneath the visor of his casque for leverage. In one swift motion, she yanked that protection open, unveiling his inhuman visage to the onlooking crew whom stood scared and pensive.
Everyone’s face twisted in shock and startled disbelief at what absolute monsters they had been battling. They looked like nothing so much as vaguely human-sized dragons. A fang-filled, lizard-like snout peered back at them, resolutely dead. They had needed those bascinets to cover the parts of their faces which protruded so. The skin-tone alternated in various nuances of woodland-green, uniformly much darker than the Sethis in pigmentation. The crocodilian scales of their hide appeared to be iron-hard, having crackled little despite absorbing such a barrage of superheated las-fire. Their eyes were proportionately small — sunken underneath harsh bony ridges of their large sockets. In short, they were monstrous to behold. Even in death they appeared fearsome and beast-like. A warrior-race if Amara ever had seen one.
“Why did they try to capture us alive but not the men?” Ri’she’a asked aloud.
“I don’t know,” the dark-skinned Captain replied. “But whatever the reason… I’m glad. More of us would be dead otherwise.”
As they remained spellbound by the savage visage of that uncanny foe, Atalanta’s hologram materialized before the group. “You need to move… quickly!” the ancient champion commanded.
“What!?” Amara said, narrowing her eyes. “But what about the other defensive perimeters? The others we’re holding this position for?”
“They aren’t coming,” Atalanta said, icy calm voice maddening. “You are the only ones who made it.”
Shellshocked, Amara’s vitals went cold. “Y-you mean…?” she stuttered in wide-eyed reply.
“All the defensive points were overrun. Barely any group managed to wound an invader let alone kill them. But it was not all for nothing, though. Almost half of the Midgar’s crew has managed to escape in the interim.” She paused, eyes distant for a split second as she calculated something. “However, it appears now that the hostiles have unleashed a more fleet-footed foe in response to your triumph… something is coming, and quickly. No one who didn’t make to the bay ahead of you is getting out, Captain. They are coming this way… You need to hurry or they’ll be upon you. Go! That’s an order!” she called.
Amara didn’t protest that the Exalted woman had no authority to give her a command. She simply echoed it and set her group to running.
At Atalanta’s behest, their ordered retreat malformed into a mad dash for the cargo dock. The elation of their victory was as if blown away with the wind. They could almost not believe that no other group of defenders had made it. Desperation flooded their veins, and panic lingered in the backs of their minds, waiting for an excuse to take over.
A shrill, warlike scream resounded behind them. Like a prey animal in mid-hunt, the red-haired woman tossed her gaze around so to catch what was pursuing them… and she gaped in astonishment, witnessing why these new adversities were so much quicker than those lumbering behemoths. A whole horde of unarmored xenos were on their tail, appearing at the corridors end like a green mass of ravenous insanity.
Without their steel carapace, those extraterrestrials looked like a great pack of saurian monsters, almost like rabid dinosaurs. Unlike their ultra-technological predecessors, these pursuers were of a decidedly bestial armament, relying solely on melee-weapons with many brandishing nothing but sable claws and fangs. Their sole article of clothing any of them wore seemed to be snug-hugging loincloths and a wide brown belt from where they activated an Aegis field which coated their crocodilian bodies. It appeared that this technology really was much like the Aegis that humans themselves wore to offer protection from the vacuum of space.
“They’re unarmored! Fire back at them!” Amara yelled, peppering her weapon blindly as she ran. Even with a few hits, she noticed that these shields were noticeably less powerful than the ones the three cataphracts had been protected by… perhaps even weaker than the ones build into her own uniform. Even with the weaker shields though, with all the rearguard following her example and firing, the barrage wilted their savage charge not one bit. Laser-blasts left behind blackened scorches upon their bodies which caused them to trumpet pain-screams like rapid beasts and tumble down… yet none of the primitive invaders truly ceased their madcap pursuit. With the aliens possessing such undemonstrative ferocity, the crew of the Midgar-6 would undoubtedly be overtaken and overwhelmed before reaching even reaching the airlock.
The sprinting group finally arrived at the designated cargo bay. The opened entrance was not large, merely wide enough to drive two rovers through at the same time. Out in the grotto-like tunnels of that space-hulk, they could even spot some of the groups which had escaped before them.
“Atalanta! Seal the gate!” the Captain shouted.
The AI obeyed the command without appearing in hologram. Doors started rising and descending from both the top and the bottom of that entrance, like the closing of a whale’s maws. It was a slow process though. The aliens were unlikely to be contained in time.
Breathless from the chase and her mind frantically pulsing, Amara didn’t know what to do. Then she heard an intensifying of the laser fusillade. Looking, she saw that Ki’an’i had stopped behind them and was directing her aim strictly towards that extraterrestrial horde, picking them off by the kneecap to make individuals stumble and hold up the others.
Promptly, the Commander halted as well, standing meters behind that suicidally brave Templar. To her great relief, no one else did. That woman was going to sacrifice herself so that the reptilians couldn’t reach the cargo-gates. Overwhelmed with guilt at witnessing such a heroic decision, Amara took aim and added her own fire into the barrage.
“Go!” the Sethis yelled over the cracking and hissing of her weapon, those quick-popping red laserblasts making her visage glow a stark crimson.
“I’m not leaving without you!” Amara vehemently retorted.
Behind them, the rest of the crew hopped and skipped over those partly closed doors. They were alone against the horde. Ki’an’i’s gamble had worked!
“You’re the Captain of this ship!” the green-skinned woman shouted back. “That means you are responsible for its people as well! Go! You have to guide them to safety! That’s your duty. This is mine.”
The ferocious aliens were almost upon them. Amara’s heart pounded with the terrible indecision of conflicting morals. Either avenue seemed unacceptable. Ki’an’i would be torn apart! But, still twitching that trigger-finger, hating herself, Amara made the snap decision to obey her friend’s final wishes.
Pumping legs with sweat streaking down her forehead, Amara sprinted towards that opening which was now a chest-high barrier. Jumping like a dog going through a hoop, she dove right through that enclosing aperture. When she got back to her feet, it was merely a thin slit. For the brief second she was able to gaze through that peephole, she saw the Templar engaged in savage hand-to-hand combat against the raptorial monsters.
Then the doors collided with a mighty boom. Enfeebling shock went through the young Captain. She had left that courageous woman behind.
Ri’she’a and Leila were forced to run back and practically drag their superior officer away from those enclosed gates. Atalanta had locked them shut, preventing the aliens from going further, but they had somehow broken through the ship’s armor easily enough. These pursuers hadn’t had any technological weaponry capable of blasting it open, but it was only a matter of time before some arrived that could drill or melt through it. They needed to escape.
Allowing herself to be muscled away, Amara felt like a total failure. Now all of the colonists and half of her crew were in alien hands… and she hadn’t even been able to rescue the other half without a chivalrous self-sacrifice from Ki’an’i. The bitterness of her failure self her feeling hollow inside.
Both of those junior officers hefted her through that descending grotto. The environment of this unnatural space-hulk was like nothing ever seen or even dreamed off on earth.
Ancient ship-hulls had been fused into meteoric rock, the two blended so seamlessly that they could be mistaken for natural geological occurrences… and their origins didn’t seem to be either Terran or the alien attackers. With a start, Amara realized she might have just discovered evidence of dozens or hundreds of other intelligent alien species. Machine-bounded running walls would end in craggy stone, and enormous boulders would have cockpits jutting out of them. Huge crystal stalagmites of pure-white were also discernible throughout the ultraterrene landscape, some of them as big as elephants. These pierced through the material, seeming to provide some sort of luminescence to the otherwise dark tunnels.
Despite her senses being shocked by what had just transpired, Amara couldn’t help but marvel at the sheer strangeness of these mysterious surroundings. To find such an otherworldly planetoid here out among the infinite was like stumbling on one of the cosmos’ unforeseeable secrets. It was a never-visited landscape of amalgamated desolation, unthinkable in its sheer strangeness.
Rounding a corner, they happened upon what might have been something like a mess hall in some long-lost alien derelict. One of its walls had been torn away so to expose the belly within. It was here that the escapees of the Midgar rested and made their basecamp, resting their legs after all the running.
Amara made a quick survey of heads. There were even fewer than she had hoped… 92 of them had made it out. The lamentable sight amplified the Captain’s feelings of woe. She wanted to vent her anger, punch and shout at something with all her might – but she knew these impulses to be the unproductive outbursts of a fatalistic greenhorn. She had to keep it together, not just for herself but for the crew at large. In this crisis, she had to be cool and level-headed.
Like Miranda would have been.
Kelindra hurried to greet the arriving trio, the brown-haired scientist gaping in astonishment at the unearthliness of this extraordinary space-hulk. “Amazing. What could have caused a phenomenon as strange as this?” she awed.
“Some unknown gravitational anomaly?” Evy replied, equally stupefied. “The various asteroids and ships seem blended together.”
“And the ships clearly appear alien, yet… like designs of different alien species. We’ve only known of the Sethis before encountering these dragon-monsters… yet here are seemingly evidence of many other space-faring lifeforms within the galaxy. But they’re all… dead. This is a graveyard. A megalithic monument to the many species who have been rendered casualties of space,” the brunette continued to theorize.
“Can we talk about this later!?” Ri’she’a peeped, not showing off the Sethis’ usual trait for fondness of abstract considerations. “Captain! What do we do!?”
The pressure was now upon Amara. Her gut tightened from the stress of having to reach some reasonable decision when there didn’t seem to be any at all. “I had us docked the Midgar-6 here so that we wouldn’t be blown up by that alien warship,” she said, voicing her thoughts so to buy herself some thinking-time. “I was attempting to deal with an immediate problem. I didn’t plan too far ahead of our immediate survival.”
“But given that the Aliens we fought sought to capture us alive with those air-blasters…” Evy said, “it seems they wouldn’t have been aiming to totally destroy the Midgar-6 anyway.”
Amara’s lips pursed at hearing the natural conclusion. She agreed. “I fear that we would have been eventually boarded anyhow. If that was their aim,” she replied, feeling stupid anyway. It probably didn’t matter, but she might have played right into their hands.
“They only sought to capture us women,” her Sethis lover injected. “They killed all the men without even a second’s hesitation. Why would they do such a thing? Why make the distinction when they don’t even know our… your… species?”
“I don’t know…” Amara admitted, finding such a mystery worrying.
She hadn’t come up with any winning strategies. Try to regroup and storm the Midgar-6? No, that would never work. Sneak aboard and try to capture the Alien’s commander to broach some favorable parlay? No, that plan was also futile since she had no idea who their highest leader was, and she undoubtedly remained on the mother ship. Besides, who knew how these savage xenos would react when subjected to attacks or attempts at coercion? Giving their barbaric cadence, they could be drones or some sort of slave-race devoid of intelligence for all she knew.
“Oh my god!” Kelindra suddenly erupted. “What if they decide to leave with the ship now that they have it? We’ll be stranded here and left to die from exposure to space!”
A quick panic grasped Amara’s chest at that horrible prospect. “No!” she quickly exclaimed to calm the alarmed crew. “If they went to such trouble to capture us alive, then they wouldn’t just leave us here. For whatever reason, we’re valuable to them. One way or another, they’ll be coming for us.”
“Captain…” Ri’she’a began, her voice low and grave as if reaching some sudden epiphany. “There were 800,000 women on that ship in cryosleep. An extreme disparity in males and females. Do you think that could be the reason why they attac—”
The pale-green officer was interrupted by a beeping-sound emitting from Amara’s wrist… the communication-bracelet that she wore as part of her office, capable of interfacing directly with the full communication array of her ship. Raising her forearm, the Captain could tell that it was a hailing transmission… but the call wasn’t coming from the Midgar-6. These devices were constructed to accept free-roaming transmissions from any space-borne vessels. Stunned at seeing it happen, she pressed the acceptance-button without even thinking.
The beeping stopped. A hologram appeared… But it didn’t just cover Amara’s wrist. Instead, the image was directed outward onto a nearby wall, projected against its flat and featureless surface like it were a display screen. Shocked, the escaped crewmembers of the Midgar-6 were allowed to come face-to-face with their vanquisher and foe.
“So! A good deal of you escaped,” Sarcand said, stately seated upon his grand techno-throne. “Good. I would not wish the hunt to end so soon.”
Crewmembers ran over so as to gather-around, their mouths unanimously gaping at spotting the devil of the play. She – or he, Amara though, correcting her assumed bias… just because human women were more suited to spaceflight didn’t mean that the aliens fared the same – looked exactly like one would expect the War-leader of such a savage race to look. It was bigger than even the armored ones which had fought them, vascular muscles bulging from all four limbs beneath scales, and its torso looked absolutely chiseled. Criss-crossing cauterizations could be seen on its biceps and pectorals, telltale signs of experience in war and past injuries. The alien was not wearing armor, yet the camera-angle was presented slanted in a slightly upward direction so that they could not discern any gender-discerning traits as they stared into the creature’s loathsome face, great reptilian fangs showing as it grinned… the expression just similar enough to a human smile to be disconcerting and disorienting to see.
Most of the onlooking crew was dazed purely from his overwhelming physique, yet Amara felt the flames of hatred burn within her. Here was the being who was responsible for the fate of her crewmembers… revealed to them, possibly only to gloat. Defiantly, Amara twisted her mouth into a wolfish snarl. “Who are you!?” she demanded to know.
“Your Conquerer,” the alien said simply. “In the brief time before you become mine, you may know me as Huntmaster Sarcand — and we, the Kthid. Soon, you will know me only as ‘Master.’ Your ship and the lives of your captive crew are now my property… as you too will be, soon enough. Your fates mark the beginning of our war against your species. It will not end until your homeworld of Earth is set aflame and its populace freighted away in chains.”
Amara girthed her teeth. A more hostile introduction could hardly be imagined. She needed to gather intelligence. “Why have yo—” she began.
“Silence!” the alien Huntmaster roared. “I did not make this call to parlay or talk. Kthid do not negotiate with cattle.” As the alien spoke, Amara finally noticed a quiet echo in the transmission, a tiny desync between the movements of his mouth and the audio. It was being translated by something… the Kthid warlord wasn’t actually speaking their tongue. “Nor do we need to justify our actions to you — for justification we’ve already received from the light of the Dark Star! I merely made this call to show you the face of your vanquisher… and for one other reason,” Sarcand admitted, lips parting wider in glee.
Amara scowled in reciprocal hatred. She was dealing with an absolute fanatic. Scum like this one could scarcely be found on Earth… not any longer anyway.
“I saw your skirmish with my three warriors,” the alien admitted. “Their helmets were carrying recording devices. It is most unusual for a lesser being to be able to defeat a trio in such a manner, even with that help you had from your alien friend. I see that she is not among you. Was she captured later, perchance?” the big lizard-creature asked.
Amara clutched her fist into a ball of anger. This reprobate would be offered no mercy for what he had done.
“It is a notable feat, for sure,” it continued, allowing a silence to reign for a second before continuing. “But your sister actually managed to kill the first three to approach her single-handedly… and she didn’t suffer a wound in the process.”
Amara’s blood froze, her thoughts derailing completely. “What!?” she erupted.
“Slave, up!” it sternly ordered.
In a daze precluding any analytical thought at all, Amara and her comrades watched as that nude heroine of the Federation, long thought dead, rose into the frame. To them, this was an equal or perhaps even greater source of astonishment than being attacked by undiscovered aliens. Not only had that venerated woman reappeared alive, but had manifested herself before them stark naked, not doing anything to hide her shame and instead accentuating it with tawdry adornments like a pleasure-slave.
Looking into the camera, Miranda kept her chin high and her green eyes – mirrors to Amara’s own – unblinking, gazing at them with the contempt one would hold for insects. Amara’s eyes were fully open wide, her jaw hanging limp. The two long-lost sisters exchanged stares, yet not for a second did Miranda falter in her steel-like glare of unmitigated antipathy.
For the crew, this was unbelievable. Miranda was someone they had all seen on video-screens and billboards and whose heroics they admired with some ardency. For Amara, the unbelievability of what she was seeing went much deeper. It was like she existed in the unreality of a nightmare. This person could not be her sister!
“Tell them, slave!” Sarcand curtly ordered, that naked woman positioned next to his throne.
“Earth will burn — and its populace will be exterminated as stock for their masters,” she spoke on command, her stringent tone never breaking.
“Mi-Miranda…” Amara said, stunned out of her mind.
“Good, slave,” the warlord responded. “You may now resume your previous task.”
Dutifully and without hesitation, Miranda stopped back down, falling onto her knees. The Kthid spun the chair he sat upon so to face her. Before anyone had time to react, her slim hand reached out towards his crotch and grasped something. When it retracted, she held a humongous green serpent. Between the new angle and her motion, she had abruptly ended all question as to the Huntmaster’s gender in the most horrible fashion. Many women yelped and shrieked upon realizing that she had seized a handhold of alien cock!
“Ah yes…” that loathsome monster moaned as the beloved hero of the Terran Federation, the strongest woman Amara had ever known, parted her lips wide and engulfed the head of his dick into her mouth. The redhead instantly began sucking. Many women started panting with fright and taking steps backwards at witnessing the zeal and skill with which she did so. Her lips and cheeks were visibly massaging that buried glans within their embrace, moving around intrepidly so to pleasure that thick knob. All the while, her hand still worked to stroke the prodigious shaft of that monstrous weapon.
Seeing their presumed-dead heroine fellate the shaft of their conqueror was made doubly horrific by the sheer bestial size of that rod. That massive prong was covered with bony ridges of scales, and at a glance its circumference seemed thicker than that of their arms, so wide that Miranda was unable to get her fingers clasped fully around its girth. Yet even though she had to extend her jaws as far as possible to swallow that bell-shaped dick-end, the decorated Captain still gave an an impressive, and focused, performance. She moved with skill and enthusiasm that most that could barely believe… and whenever the crew of the Midgar-6 started recovering from witnessing this shocking material, she would shift her approach and worship the alien prong in some other manner, changing her technique every few seconds to give Sarcand a different experience. Miranda sucked as if having handled his cock a thousand times before, putting all of her renowned brilliance into providing Sarcand with the most pleasurable blowjob in human history. Her breasts would dangle, and beautiful hair shimmy as she started thrusting with her neck so to oscillate her lips against the tip of his dick. She even provided a wet, sordid noise to go alongside that disreputable act, moaning and groaning as she provided pleasure unto his monstrous manhood.
“Mi-Miranda! What are you doing!?” the Captain stammered, horrified.
That statuesque heroine… her sister… refused to respond and instead kept tossing her head. With her mouth utterly stuffed by merely that cockhead alone, she apparently sought to ingest even more by deepthroating the knob. To their utter amazement, they witnessed as her throat started bulging outward from housing the prodigious cock, something that should have been nearly impossible to manage accomplished easily with the burden of long practice. Strands of ejected spit drooled off from her lips to drip from her chin as she forced herself forward. Just from the disparity in size between his organ and her orifice, any normal person would have thought such an insertion possible… yet Miranda gagged her way through swallowing that alien sword. Displaying impressive lung-strength, she appeared not to grow agitated despite her air being blocked… she couldn’t possibly be breathing any longer.
“Phha!” she erupted upon suddenly dislodging herself from that hard-on, not gasping more than a single, tiny breath of oxygen before going back to slobber all over its vastness. There was no denying the fact of what they were seeing. Miranda was alive… And she was now a brainwashed, cock-sucking pleasure-slave of the Kthid.
In a moment of lucidity, Amara brought her free hand to her raised forearm, ready to end the transmission. Before she could, the alien Warlord managed to speak again. “Look at your sister while you’re sucking my cock, slave.”
His words somehow, horrifyingly, stayed Amara’s hand. While busy tongue-wrestling with that immense erection, Miranda cast her piercing-green gaze sideward, locking eyes with her younger sister. Even now, that once so ferocious woman unveiled not a hint of discomfiture while lapping and stroking Sarcand’s rigid dick. She stared down Amara boldly, as if daring her sibling to end it, all while employing her tongue like a brush onto the alien’s cock.
A chill ran down the Captain’s spine. Even while enslaved and made to suck her captor’s tool, Miranda still possessed that almost superhuman glare of intensity in her eyes. The others might think her brainwashed… but she wasn’t. It was worse than that. She was merely… broken. Demolished and rebuilt again, her will and strength and skill turned by a superior foe who’d trained her after his own wishes.
If the Sarcand and the Kthid had managed to break a woman as unconquerable as Miranda Black… then what manners of creatures were they?
“This will be your fate as well,” he promised while having his dick sucked. Amara’s finger dove towards the deactivation button.
“We will have you hunted, defeated and then raped into oblivion by the cocks of your betters, just like Miran—” he managed to say before the projection abruptly ended, that vision of sordid debauchery concluded and swiftly replaced by a blank, featureless wall.
No one said anything.
The crew of the Midgar-6 were so stunned beyond belief that they universally felt their knees go weak. Amara turned away and stared at the empty wall, and hoped that no one saw as she started to silently cry.