Point of No Return 9 – The Inferno

<- Back to Index
Hyperlinks in the text are intended as supplemental material, discussing elements of the science behind the science fiction. They are not intended as required reading for the story. Hyperlinks will be provided at the point in the story where it comes up, but all the links will also be collected at the bottom of the post for easy reading.

Thank you for reading! Me and my coauthor Darinost are gradually combining forces and blogs, so the joint comment section for our stories is currently located on discord! Come on in and let us know what you thought, we don’t bite.

Anna lay as unmoving as a corpse in a messy puddle of freshly-discharged alien cum, her whole body hurting like one gigantic bruise. In her ears rang the gruff laughter of derisive Kthid, those scaled giants towering above her like green monoliths as they mocked her. One of them put his foot atop her flat stomach and began planting his weight until her head and limbs jerked upwards, a miserable whine escaping her raw throat. As it was removed, she stuttered in near asphyxiation, feeling almost like her lungs had been crushed.

“She’s finished,” one of them sneered.

No one could mistake his words for false. The petite Terran girl was perpetually wide-eyed and afraid, and on top of it all she was an easy screamer. Big green dicks had been driven into her now gaping pussy and asshole, and right now those nether-holes resembled obscene chasms that leaked excess Kthid jizz like muddy rivers of gunky white filth. She didn’t know that her gangrape had been going on for a full Earth day and change now… that didn’t matter, really. She had looked ready to break five minutes in.

Charnametros squatted down in front of his slave, the space dragon distinctive among his fellows by his more slender, younger build, not fully grown in his youth. He clasped the Terran’s jet-black hair, now matted with sperm, and cranked her head upright to make the raped doctor look at him head-on. His eyes appeared like tiny shards of hatred, their inhuman furore directed solely towards her. “The codes,” he growled.

Her Kthid owner had arranged her inaugural gang-bang for her. After Ki’an’i had been broken and made to surrender her parts of the password, she was the last code the conquering aliens needed from their captives. Unwilling to be shamed, Charnametros had demoted the short-haired doctor from being his personal cocksleeve to being a pack-bitch. Her cunt was still for him alone but the others were free to put her to maximum use otherwise, and the young Kthid warrior was only too happy to fuck her tight pussy often enough that she couldn’t tell the slightest difference between the number of dicks she had taken in her holes from one other. This assault, all of it, was to speed up the process of her breaking. Constantos, if the overheard discussions were to be believed, was now the only one of the Midgar-6’s captured officers that wasn’t already giving the Kthid everything they wanted.

“The codes,” he growled again. “Relinquish them to me. Do so, and I’ll make you mine alone again. Otherwise, you’ll live through another session of being a common pack bitch. Maybe I’ll even throw you to the Hammerheads like the shroom and see how you like them.”

Anna panted, her eyes unmoving and unblinking, face frozen into a madcap rictus of pain. Her expression barely looked human anymore… like someone so traumatized that all life had already left her. Like something already mostly dead inside. Yet… she said nothing.

As the demand hung in the air, one of Constantos’s blue pupils rolled sideways, to the right. It wasn’t much… but it allowed her to look past the demonic star monster threatening her to the background of the chamber. She could see the row, after row, after row of hibernation pods mounted against the wall like the seating-tiles of some ancient amphitheater… and through their openings where the icy-blue sheen of cryosleep could be seen, its chilly aura contrasting with the silver metal of the tube. Every one of those containers harbored a sleeping life… a life that was in her hands. One that she was sworn to defend. She couldn’t even consider sacrificing them by handing over the codes to protect herself. She couldn’t place her own life ahead of theirs, subject them to such extreme pain and indignity. No matter the pain. It was impossible.

“First…” she whispered in response, voice both hoarse and weak. “…do no harm…”

Her master’s hostile eyes turned murderous. The reptilian creature closed his fist around her throat, growling furiously as he tightened the stranglehold. Anna’s terror spiked as her windpipe was crudely compressed. With her being the only officer onboard that was still resisting, her strength had been a testament to his pride… but as time wore on, her continued noncompliance had become a stain on Charnametros’s honor. She made him look bad in the eyes of his authoritarian master and his class. Every refusal so far had led to an uptick in wrath… and he was all too happy to take her refusal out on her as her air began running low.

“Say it!” he growled.

“I… can’t…” she feebly pleaded, eyelids fluttering as her lungs began to burn. “Please… you’re… killing… me.”

Once, early on in the massive gangrape, she had considered if death might be preferable. After all, while choking to death on an alien cock or drowning in their cum would be a humiliating way to die, if she was dead there was no way to get the codes. Charnametros had disabused her of that notion easily enough. He had warned her that if it became impossible to get the codes, they did have another recourse… they could always try to thaw them out manually. It would be messy… he estimated they might manage to successfully pull out only one in a thousand… but a thousand thawed colonists to gangrape was better than none. The other 999,000 though… they would be dead. Only the fact that it was still theoretically possible to get the code had stopped them from starting, or just tossing the frozen colonists out the airlock like so much trash. So death was no escape… and if he killed her accidentally, it might doom most of a million people.

No matter how the Medical Officer pleaded, no matter how she pried at his hand, she could not deter him from choking her. In fact, it only achieved the opposite. The young sadist squeezed even harder. Anna’s mouth was gaping, yet no oxygen could enter her lungs. Images began to flash before her retina like during a fever dream, depicting all the horrible events that would transpire if she were to betray a million souls into the space dragon’s wrath.

Eventually though… Charnametros let go.

Freed practically at death’s door, the doctor gasped to refill her lungs. Even with her asphyxiation, the intake came slowly and without much power. Her body was too abused and fatigued to remain conscious, the effects of continual abuse too much to overcome. Gasping, choking, darkness welled up to swallow her and she didn’t fight it, her blue pupils rolling into the back of her skull as consciousness fled. Before going out however, when her vision was at its darkest, she thought she spotted a human figure walking up to stand beside Charnametros. The figure made a subservient bow. In Anna’s exhausted state, she couldn’t imagine what human could possess such foolish bravery as to approach one of the monsters so. And maybe it was her imagination, but as the woman spoke unheard words, Anna would have sworn that she was smiling.

When the doctor woke, it was as a thoughtless, numb husk, her eyes staring up at the ceiling without registering any emotions or her brain seeming to function at all. Everything hurt and it was hard to remember who she even was and… and… and  someone was using their soft fingertips to rub a creamy liquid against her gums, plunging into the crevices of those lips until it was rubbed off and then re-dipping the digits so to stroke again. The touch seemed impossibly gentle, impossibly kind… a kind of kindness and gentleness that Anna had forgotten could exist in the same universe as her suffering did. Unsure of exactly why, Anna started crying, blurring her vision of the person above her as she existed in shadow, just out of her easy vision as she lazily blinked, staring at a ceiling half hidden by high-hanging shadows. For the life of her, Anna couldn’t even guess which part of the Midgar-6 she was in. 

“Nutrients, and pain-killers,” a woman’s voice said, sounding so hollow and distant that her speech could have been coming from the opposite end of a Lilis wormhole from the doctor. “You’ll be on your feet in no time.”

Anna didn’t want to be back on her feet. She didn’t want to move ever again… doing so would inevitably hurl her headlong back into Charnametros’s sadistic urges to see her crushed. Her whole being wished to remain dead to the world, unaware and unmoving, her mind and muscles left catatonic and numb. Through some child-like irrationality, she feared that merely by moving she could potentially hasten his return. Every passing second was a moment spent in terror at this possibility, a constant worry wherever she was safe or not.

A small analytic part of her brain turned on, almost like a light when the switch was flipped. So this was what trauma-induced psychosis truly felt like from the other side? The medical professional within her filed away the knowledge for a future use that Anna no longer had any confidence would ever come. The remedies and treatments for conditions like these had been a part of her profession for years… and now she knew what it felt like to be reduced to this state firsthand. The mere presence of something as insignificant as pain felt like it was being covered in a blanket of night-black oppression, stifling any other thoughts running through her mind. How could she ever get through this? Perhaps she would soon snap under torment and descend into lunacy. The only problem was… she feared insanity as much as she feared death. Two forms of destruction, just the same.

But nothing could make her surrender that password.

Its secrecy was like… a religious maxim, some ineffable truth to which she had to adhere. The secret would remain locked within her. There was no way she could put her own life in before so many other colonists. They were her responsibility. She couldn’t give that away… no matter how much she might want to to save herself.

While those salve-soaked digits kept stroking against her gums… Anna finally came back enough to herself to notice something bewildering.

Where the hell was she? These surroundings didn’t look like the interiors of the Midgar-6 at all! The roof was colored a dark brown and appeared scaly like the carapace of some insect. The Midgar-6 was a ship designed with utility in mind… almost all flat, gray and white surfaces. Was she hallucinating things in the shadows?

Like a person realizing that they were not dead after all, Anna slowly sat up, gazing around in dumbstruck astonishment. Miranda smirked at seeing her come to life. Their enclosure was so tight and snug that the two nude women were almost pressed together, as if crammed inside a tiny closet. It was only now that she noticed the sound of low-powered turbines humming in the background. They were space-bound on some ship! But it assuredly wasn’t the Midgar-6, or any of her landing craft. 

“Where are we?” she asked, already afraid of the answer.

“Look outside,” the dark-skinned woman responded, moving aside so to highlight a slit-shaped window. Through its viewport, the doctor could discern the crash-landed colony ship becoming ever-smaller in the distance, vanishing away from them. Soon the same was true for that strange space-hulk, the azure-hued gas-giant becoming visible beyond its discernible curvature. They were rising away from them, like a rocket entering orbit. This could only mean one thing.

“We’re on one of their boarding shuttles,” she surmised, her stomach twisting.

“Mmhmm,” Miranda cagily mumbled in affirmation.

Anna swallowed. They were on a Kthid ship. “That means that we’re heading towards the—”

“Kthid flagship, yes,” that red-haired Heitera confirmed. Amazed, Anna looked her straight in the eyes. “Do you know its name?” Miranda asked, a tiny smile appearing on her face. “They call it the Death of Hope.”

The shuttle had been docked for quite a while before the two of them were entitled to disembark. As always, Miranda knew the Kthid’s customs and rules without fault, making sure that they left the vessel only after even the most low-ranked of their conquerors had exited its hull. Striding towards that ramp which led out into the docking-bay, that ornamented slavegirl looked to her companion. “Put this in,” she said to Anna, handing her a tiny, silver nub that she recognized as some kind of inner-ear device. “And never remove it unless one of the Kthid orders you to.”

“What are we doing?” she asked hesitantly.

“Put. It. In,” Miranda commanded, and waited until Anna had begun to do so. “Master Sarcand had business aboard his ship that needed to be taken care of. Things that he could only do from this prodigious attack-vessel.”

“Then… why am I here?” Anna tepidly asked. Already she could barely feel the device in her ear, although she yet had only guesses as to what it did.

Miranda’s head shifted abruptly so to gaze at her head-on, her visage alight with a tiny smirk. “Why such low enthusiasm!?” she chirped. “I thought any scientist would jump at the opportunity to study the innards of an alien ship and habitat!? May I remind you that you represent the first people to make contact with an alien race that humanity didn’t create itself? My own misfortunes notwithstanding, of course.” The smirk began to disappear. “There’s something I want you to see. I tugged at a string that I didn’t even own so to get you on board. I hope that you’ll appreciate the privilege.”

The doctor’s fatigue was gone like the wind. It was stupid, and she knew it, but… her entire mind raced at the prospect of exploring these unknowns, making discoveries that no one had ever heard of before no matter how baleful her current situation. A thirst for seeing and cataloging new sights and information was why she had joined the HEF in the first place, and the current situation, dangerous and awful as it was, unquestionably was filled with the potential for untapped knowledge. It didn’t matter that she was in danger. It didn’t matter that Miranda only seemed to display a sense of humor when there was a malicious element to it, and that the woman had surely coaxed her here for a reason. It didn’t matter that she might never get to tell anyone what she learned. Exiting that ramp onto the solid deck below and beholding the unbelievable vistas of an alien warship made all of that recede into the back of her mind. Maybe she could learn something that would help them escape.

Therein lay the bedrock of Anna’s personality, the part that had taken her so far – the idea that it was always better to know than to be ignorant.

Swallowing, Anna took a deep breath and then looked around… with awe. The chamber was huge and cavernous. Terran ships, especially smaller interstellar ships, sometimes had a docking bay for small shuttles, the atmosphere and heat held in by magnetic fields, but Anna had never seen anything like this, anything this vast.. For one thing, the architecture was… well, alien. Pronounced, gigantic cornices of technological patterns lined the edges of every wall both by the roof and the floor, lending the otherwise vaguely rectangular hollow the feel of them being within a box whose sharp corners had been made round. Secondly, said walls, floor and roof seemed to be built after a vaguely hexagonal architecture, akin to the insides of a beehive or the segmented shell of a tortoise rather than being flat planes. The walls all curved, giving them the appearance of underground tunnels and making the doctor feel a little claustrophobic, even in the vast room… like the ceiling was in danger of caving in, or like it was unfinished or had been carved by flowing water. Lastly, while humans used white or blue or yellow light, the light here was reddish, and while it was plenty to see by, her brain kept telling her that it was dangerously dark, tinting her surroundings in an unnatural sheen.

She stared in awe before Miranda tugged at her arm to make the doctor urgently follow. “Kthid. Hurry,” the redhaired woman said by way of explanation, heading for the walls and then walking along it, so to avoid open spaces. It appeared that even on this vessel and with Miranda being Sarcand’s favorite, they needed to be ever-mindful of importuning those malefic behemoths. Even for Miranda, it seemed it was better to avoid them if possible.

Behind her, there was some chattering shriek. Constantos shifted her gaze in its direction, and then her eyes widened large as saucers as she looked upon something amazing and horrible… and all the worse for how casual it was.

Another alien species she had never seen before.

Engaged in a hopeless close-quarters struggle with a pair of Kthid warriors, two slender, multi-armed humanoid species fought. At first glance, they looked like nothing so much as paintings Anna had seen of certain Hindu deities, not only in their three-paired extremities but also in their slenderness of figure and svelteness of limbs, the narrow waist, and the the flowing mane. Their skin was dark grey, like something out of Earth’s oceans, but they had heads of hair in different shades just like humans did. One girl had scarlet hair, the other a chestnut color. Crimson spikes jutted out from their scalps like spikes, carapace jutting out through their manes. Even at this distance, Anna could almost notice two additional set of eyes located over the big main ones, all three of which were wide and horrified as they looked at their Kthid abusers. All in all, they looked surprisingly humanoid… at least as much as the Kthid did, and generally more.

Though fighting like spiders who employed all of their limbs to grapple with their opponents, the Kthid could easily wrestle these aliens onto the floor and so pin them. Anna had by now observed enough instances of how callously the dragonic aliens assaulted their thralls and couldn’t have been further from shocked when the warriors began to rape their slaves. Stiffened green dicks were slotted into what, from Anna’s perspective, looked distinctly like human quims, all those spindly arms flailing about madly as they were fucked. Thrusting, growling, and vicious humping proceeded like the Kthid were engines driving into the two alien women, defiling them savagely on the cargo-bay floor. A third Kthid stood lordly over the copulating pairs, his caiman face twisted in a wide smile as he watched.

Behind her, Miranda was watching silently. “Who are they?” Anna frantically whispered.

“Those? Just Arane,” Miranda responded. “Useless pieces of meat, really. They are the most numerous of the Kthid’s slaves… and they have been so for a few centuries now.” She hook her head. “Honestly, I don’t even notice them anymore.”

Anna turned back to Miranda, seeing that the woman had kept walking. She hurried after, keeping one eye on the rutting aliens. “You mean… the Kthid have conquered other races? Others like… us?”

“Obviously,” Miranda scoffed. “Didn’t I tell you that already?”

“I thought you might have meant on… on their world, or nearby…” she whispered, looking over at the rape in progress.

Miranda shrugged. “They might be from the Kthid world, I guess. I don’t know. Neither do they.” When Anna looked at her in confusion, she chuckled. “It’s been hundreds of years in slavery, generations and generations of them. You think it is a high priority of the Kthid to let them teach their offspring their culture, their history? They don’t even have a language anymore… they only speak the Kthid tongue.” She shrugged. “They probably were from another world, though, or even another interstellar civilization. The Kthid keep them around after all, rather than just exterminating them. It probably means they made an impression by resisting, by being a challenge… once upon a time.”

Watching that unequal struggle, a sense of horror grew within the doctor. The Kthid who was standing and watching held something small, white and oval in his hands. One of those downed Arane was futilely reaching towards him with all of her arms even while being ravaged, eyes crazed with desperation. The chittering cry that she made was long winded and seemingly pitched with despair.

“If they have been enslaved for so long then why is that one still struggling?” Anna questioned.

“What makes you think she’s been enslaved long?” Miranda replied by way of answer. “They mature quickly. Far as you know, this could be her very first time. Across the Kthid empire, probably a million Arane lose their virginity every day. For this one, though…” she snickered. “She’s fighting because the Arane lay eggs.”

The Kthid placed that white-shelled object in his mouth and chewed. The gray-hued Xeno girl reacted with a wail of horror… and chillingly derisive laughter resounded from those scaly titans. Anna’s mouth dropped open in shock, barely comprehending the unholiness she had just seen. “Their young are considered delicacies,” Black stated, continuing to walk until the two of them reached some sort of console stationed by a side-door where she punched in some commands. “The Kthid take over their reproductive systems… but the Arane are ‘fortunate’ enough to be prodigious. The Kthid mostly just make them form a single, larger egg… but usually at least a couple eggs in each hatching didn’t get tainted and consumed to make a new Kthid.” Miranda shrugged. “The Kthid don’t intentionally let their slaves breed more of their own… it’s just a waste of resources the way they look at it. Occasionally, though, they let the eggs live. That’s how their race has survived so long in captivity… they are the only ones still reproducing more of themselves.” She looked over with empty, flat eyes. “Until someday when their Masters grow hungry and eat too many of the eggs, of course.”

The side entrance slid open and quickly Anna was pulled inside. Promptly the door closed behind them, those extra-terrestrial lamentations vanishing from her ears. As quickly as she had seen another alien race for the first time, they were gone. Anna was stunned. She couldn’t believe what she had seen. Even the cruelty didn’t seem to fully register.

The Kthid had enslaved other populations besides the crew of the Midgar-6. Of course they had. Miranda had told her so and it seemed logical based on everything she had heard and seen. But up until now… the torment that her Human and Sethis cremates had endured somehow appeared unique to her senses, something extraordinarily singular. The doctor had just observed something even worse happen to creatures she did not even know existed, and the act performed offhandedly and out in the open… making it perfectly clear to her that it was just nothing special to them. Miranda had barely even noticed. The black-haired medic had no idea how to process that.

“Come on,” Miranda commanded, unaffected by the Arane’s tragedy. Anna obeyed like an automaton, trudging after her.

As her thoughts remained with those fantastic… and unfortunate… creatures, the doctor paid little attention to where Miranda was leading them. They appeared to be in some slim and unlit tunnels, like a servant’s passage in old mansions. To their right were narrowed embrasures through which she could see the main thoroughfares where the Kthid roamed.

“It’s much easier to take these pathways,” Miranda said, matter-of-factly. “than to have to bow before every Master that passes and worry that you may have irked them. Sometimes it could even save your life. If Charnametros keeps you, you’ll have at least some limited amount of freedom.”

“Miranda…” the medical officer suddenly thought to ask. “How many more species of alien lifeforms are there in slavery to the Kthid?”

A dark laugh shook the redhead’s shoulders. “I have no idea, doctor. After a while, I stopped caring about counting.” Anna felt fingers of dread awe clutch at her heart. “Most of them that I have encountered were in the Kthid home system though, when I was among the crews of other battleships,” Miranda added. “But don’t worry. I’m confident that we’ll run into a few more examples to gawk at. After all, we’re practically going to be traipsing through a menagerie. I’m sure that every one of them will give you a lot to think about.”

On the other end of that pathway tromped a pack of those saurian monsters. They appeared uncharacteristically boisterous and ebullient, like violent grunts returning from a successful campaign of conquest. Merely hearing their abhorrent voices made Anna quiver. The snarling group turned into an adjoining chamber, the doors made for Kthid being shaped like ovals turned on their side and sporting pronounced ridges protruding from its frame. She wondered what could inspire such raucous joy from an otherwise so warlike a race.

“Do you want to find out what they’re doing?” Miranda roguishly whispered as if reading her mind. “Let’s have a look.”

Before Anna could even begin to respond, that fallen heroine stopped by the nearest door and went to work opening it. The petite doctor began to panic, stuttering and mumbling indecisively, but Miranda was roundly dismissive of her concerns. They were in no hurry, she was quick to explain. The scientist’s heart thrummed with twinned curiosity and apprehension as that door opened and the pair of them stepped through.

Anna entered a grandiose hallway right on Miranda’s heels, overwhelmed by the size of the room. Their captors built at proportions that seemed spacious by human standards, making it seem to her like they were scurrying like tiny mice escaping from their holes while trying to avoid the detention of dangerous giants. Numerous wall-hangings emblazoned with what she recognized as Sarcand’s insignia hung from the cornices at both sides, with primitive weapons laying crisscrossed in-between them. There were hatchets and axes, cleavers and maces, all instruments designed for brutality in more primitive times, the pedigree of a militaristic species. Reaching that opposite end, Anna felt her adrenaline running hot… the scientist participating in riskiness that she’d never before encountered.

“Take a peek,” Miranda urged. Standing on that elevated platform which lined the walls, Constantos did so, trepidation boiling her soul… and as she looked into the room, the naked doctor saw sights that she could only compare to classical paintings depicting frenzied hallucinations of hell.

Inside that chamber lay a trio of water-filled aquariums the size of trucks, their tops sporting walkways that were connected to stairways so that the Kthid could ascend and tower above them. All of those malachite colossi marshaled up there were holding onto their cocks and cackling in reptilian delight as they urinated onto the aquariums’ caged roofs, swiftly spreading zones of yellow through the dirty water within. The horror came from the fact that the tanks weren’t empty. The humanoid denizens swimming inside those huge tanks were clearly horrified at having their homes overtaken with acidic Kthid piss, trying to swim away from it yet quickly finding that the invading fluids were forcing them into ever smaller space as the pools spread.

A few of their fellow slaves had been pulled out of their aquariums beforehand and were now in the process of being raped on the ground before the glass of their prisons, all while their homesteads were converted into makeshift urinals. Unlike the Arane, these women did not resist their Kthid masters… instead, they merely writhed and squirmed helplessly as those arm-thick rods drove into them. Strangely, a few of them seemed to be clasping their palms as if begging, mouths muttering repeated phrases in between the screaming from being fucked. The same appeared to be true for those stuck swimming in the bladder-fluids. As the blue-skinned girls spoke, Anna realized with a start what that strange ear device did… it was translating for her! She could understand what they were saying. The words still didn’t make a lot of sense, however. They sounded like… prayers.

“The Nys,” Miranda whispered. “Amphibious sluts. Insufferably religious.”

Even while confronted with such an outlandish aberration of horror, Anna couldn’t help but let her education take over and start to study those specimens’ physical characteristics. Fitting for their oceanic origins, the Nys sported a skin-color consisting primarily between different shades of blue and violet. They were even more humanoid than the Arane since they exhibited the orthodox amount of limbs, although their feet looked more like fins. Their figures appeared very lithe and supple, more graceful than Earthlings and possessing obviously soft skin, perfect for gliding through the waves yet offering puny protection against the Kthid’s harsh treatment.

Their humanoid features ended there, however. Cyan-colored antenna, glowing with bio-luminescent light, grew stiffly out of their shoulders and tailbone. These antennas were webbed together through a thin pink material, which conjoined them into something that appeared like fins, only much more diminutive in relation to their body size. The outermost antennas were especially thick and pronounced. The ones swimming used them to to adjust their position in the water. These fins — or antennas, or water wings, or whatever they should be called – were clearly very sensitive. The victims screamed especially loud whenever the Kthid pulled on them for leverage.

Small cyan-colored glows of the same type as their ‘wings’ came out of their skin at numerous points across their blue figures as well, mimicking the way gemstones could bring shine to a feminine form… probably some kind of lure or light source adapted to the oceans on whatever world they had come from. Lastly, instead of hair, their heads sported longer, fin-like tendrils that jutted backward from their scalps in a way almost like a punk coiffure, each woman having a slightly different arrangement.

The Nys trapped inside those aquariums looked as if they were being poisoned. They screamed water-muffled noises as their habitats turned brackish and murky, a foamy layer of scum forming on the aquariums’ surface-levels. Anna couldn’t imagine what pain that invasion of piss brought them. No doubt the acidic content jarred immensely with the Nys’ likely-delicate gill respiratory systems, as it would with any seaborne life on Earth.

An errant observation suddenly struck Anna’s thoughts. “Are all of the Kthid’s slave-species so… humanoid? So feminine?”

“Most of them, yes,” Miranda bluntly confirmed. “There are exceptions, but… from what I’ve seen, it’s rare. There is something about the way life forms, some underlying order to it like the formation of a crystal… the dominant life forms tend towards humanoid forms in most ways. I’m no biologist, that’s your area, but it seems to be a rule among all the sentient races inhabiting the stars. There are always creatures in the right general shape for the Kthid to hunt, enslave and breed.”

“Were they advanced too?” Anna asked, almost afraid to hear the answer.

“No,” Miranda laughed. “Not in the slightest. They were primitives… never discovered fire as a tool, so no technology.” The red-haired woman suddenly pushed past her, assuming Anna’s position by that peeking-corner. The lithely-built doctor could see Miranda’s eyebrows knit in vexation. “She isn’t here,” the human muttered to herself, pursing her mouth. “I wonder…”

Anna thought it prudent not to ask whom it was that the fallen heroine was referring to. Bearing witness to such a woeful scene had put her in an even more horrid state, wanting to withdraw into herself and vanish. In under an hour, the number of intelligent lifeforms that she knew of that originated from among the sidereal stars had doubled… and it seemed that all of them were destined to become slaves. The Nys and the Arane… both of their fates had been the same. They had lost their homeworlds, their men, all of their culture and learning… their entire civilizations degraded to the ranks of chattel. Under Kthid rule, all that had once characterized their existence had been broken down and remodeled into objects of sadosexual entertainment for their conquerors… Not a single survivor among them spared from being reduced into cattle.

Miranda had needed to live with understanding this for years. The comprehension knotted the doctor’s stomach.

“It’s time to go,” Miranda said, watching the gangrape. The captive explorer grasped Anna’s arm and quickly pulled her back towards those service tunnels. She remained servile towards the Heitera’s directions, not resisting as the redhead took her wherever she wanted to go. Abandoning these wide empty spaces made her feel much safer, anyhow… and several seconds later, they disappeared through the portal and continued towards whatever goal that Miranda was intending for her.

Like rats moving through the walls, the two humans slipped deeper into the ship. Unlike human ships, where different levels were generally connected by Zero-G passages with elevators for moving freight, here there were sloped ramps moving up and down so to connect these tunnels on different levels of the ship. Anna felt like she was climbing up the mountain into a dragon’s den as she ascended. After she stepped out of the ramp, the noise of carnal depravity once again dominated her ears. This time it was a Kthid’s guttural outcries, the beast sounding as if it was in some unrivaled state of ecstasy. It originated from a chamber down the hallway, just off the main path.

To Anna’s surprise, Miranda stepped out into the open, heading in for another peek. It looked like the doctor was about to become privy to another spectacle of their conquerors’ perversions. She didn’t want to look… but… Morbidly curious, Anna followed after like an inquisitive girl spying on her parents. Miranda held onto the door frame while slowly glancing into that room. “Ah, the clones,” she whispered. “No Master Sarcand though,” she added before stepping aside so to let the younger Anna through, her grin taking on a crooked slant.

Filled with the spirit of inquiry, Anna assumed her place. Those few words did not suitably prepare her for what she saw inside.

The insides looked like the luxury suite of some upscale whorehouse. The paneling, carpet and cushions were of a sensuous and sumptuous design, clearly intended for relaxation. The walls, however, looked like they had been carved as heavily as any ancient temple on earth, presenting in relief violent depictions of Kthid sexual fantasies… or possibly historical remembrances of species breed into extinction, surrounding the room like a diorama of depravity. In the middle of this decadent chamber, Anna beheld a threesome between a single Kthid and two members on an alien species she had never imagined. Had Miranda said the word “snakes” instead of “clones” then she would have been less shocked at her appearance, for the pair immediately resembled the fabled lamias of Terran myths.

These creatures possessed humanoid torsos that straddled an otherwise fully serpentine body, the disparate anatomic parts existing in proportions to one another so that the snake-body extended far across the floor, some five or six times the length of her torso. The sides and back of their reptilian form was colored a grey-green and covered with uncountable, delicate scales, and where scales didn’t cover her, her skin hued closer to golden. Like the Nys, these aliens were perfectly hairless, instead sporting a scaled hood protruding from their scalp like long, wavy hair. That was as much as Constantos could discover regarding their anatomy before the utter vileness of what was going on inside overtook her attention.

The Kthid was an particularly bulky example of his kind, and he stood between the two females, knees bent in a half-squat and his tail pointed to the side. Both the snakewomen had their yellow faces buried against his middle, providing him with slovenly oral pleasure from both the front and the rear. One was evidently slurping on his ass exactly as Atalanta had been ordered to perform while the other fellated his jutting jade dick, that manhood ragingly erect from the pair’s sordid efforts.

A tiny bit of Anna’s wonder in the universe felt like it curled up and died as it dawned on her that she had just encountered members of another uncontacted species whose sole purpose was to serve as a cumdump for these demons.

“Reminds you of nagas, don’t they?” Miranda narrated. “They are called the Alicians. Though… I personally think that they should just be called the Nicians now since clones of that old bitch are all that is left of them. The Kthid is Makvar… one of the Kangansverii. I assume that he did something heroic during the storming of the Midgar-6 and is now being rewarded for his success in combat, for Sarcand doesn’t let just anyone get a chance to play with these two.” She glanced over at Anna. “There are only about three hundred of them left at last count among the living… very rare. Getting to violate them is quite an honor.”

Anna couldn’t see the girls well, not with how their faces were buried against their rapist, but the glimpses she got told the truth of what Miranda said… it was the shape of their noses and eyes that told the story. Not similar… identical. “Nicia — the original one — was a great champion of her people or so I’ve heard. She died before either of us were born, of course… but some of her clones have survived this long. They all have her memories and skills along with her cloned body’s fortitude and stamina, the bodies and souls of warriors all the way through. I assume that you have by now figured out that the Kthid know of no greater gratification than the breaking of a strong-willed concubine… so the remnants of their once-proud race are a special treat to be able to breed.” Miranda snickered. “Not to mention all those wondrous tricks they can do with their tongues.”

Only now did Anna become attentive to the fact that this duo’s slavish succor was… not performed in a normal manner. Their tongues were apparently just as meandering as their lower-bodies. Those slim green muscles were greatly elongated and able to bend without impediment. This allowed the frontal clone to wrap her slender tongue around Makvar’s humongous green prong three times, stroking up-and-down so to have that hard-on unorthodoxly jerked off even as she licked and sucked on it. Most of the time her lips were only partly connected to the bulbous cockhead while performing this oral feat of legerdemain, the emerald eyes gazing solely up at Makvar during the entire blowjob so that he could bask in their torrid feminine allure. Her face was wanton and salacious as if privileged at getting to attend to her master’s rod, even though the humiliating tongue action could have granted her no pleasure. It was like she was madly driven to earn his affection.

Meanwhile, the serpent-woman behind him had her visage imprinted snugly against his ass, face sunken in-between his cheeks, her lips fastened on him with seemingly desperate need. It took no imagination to figure out what she was doing there… the serpentine woman was sending her tongue trailing through the Kthid’s innards, stroking the very rectum and bowels itself with her feeler instead of merely the venerating sphincter. No doubt her tongue was forced to twist and bend as it navigated that fleshy grotto, venturing into parts of his digestive system that never should have been cleaned. Looking closer, Constantos could see how the snakewoman’s cheeks and throat would flex during the ass-digging, as if she was plunging that highly-agile tongue back-and-forth into his sensitive colon. This intimate analingus went on in tandem to the stroke-action happening to his cock. No wonder that the behemoth had been making such pleased outcries.

The human had no idea what these Alicians considered hygienic, yet she couldn’t imagine they would find the idea of this any less disgusting than she did. However, despite the uncleanness, the clone seemed as frantic as her partner in having the scaly monster slovenly serviced. They were worshiping him with an intransigent need to see Mavkar appeased, practically competing, as if trying to one-up the other. Anna could understand how these two were considered luxury playthings.

“As they are clones,” Miranda spoke, “they were almost always sent off in pairs or more. It is considered quite a sport among the Kthid to pit two of them against each other and see who manages to pleasure them the most. With such similar talents and wonderful genetics, it’s never a foregone conclusion whom of the two is going to come out on top. I guess such an answer varies from Kthid-to-Kthid and there is no way of knowing until those unique tongues of theirs are put to sexual service. Who has the advantage, the sword-pleaser or the the ass-eater? Anyhow, punishments and rewards are always instituted so to keep the Alicians extra motivated. These twins’ lives really just revolve around being the one who does not stoke his ire. The punishments are so great that I’ve yet to see one of these two give up so to spare her gene-sister. I wonder what calamity this Makvar has planned for them on this special occasion.”

Right as the ex-heroine ceased her whispering, Makvar gave off a beastly howl that sounded like it came straight from the darkest pit of his gut. Gelatinous white spunk flew out of his tongue-encircled penis and struck the phallus-worshiping Alien straight in the face with several chunky jets. She took the blast straight on without blinking and kept stroking her appendage until every morsel of his dangling sack was emptied… As did the other Alician continue with her undignified rimming as the same frantic pace.

Only after their master had finished his orgasm did the two women retracted their tongues, unfurling them from around his dick and the inside of his rear. Long inches of it vanished back into their mouths, stored therein within some unseen glottal pouch. Anna wondered if those dexterous muscles had begun to ache from all of their debauched venturings, or if the flavors now coating them would make the clones retch. If either was the case, they didn’t show it… their faces remained the perfect vision of eager subservience. Anna had to take Miranda’s words for it that the pair were once great warriors, because she couldn’t see it now.

As the two lamia finished disengaging themselves, the Kthid went straight-backed and scratched at his crotch, gasping so mightily that his bosom puffed. Next, he clasped their scalp-crests and jerked on their hoods, bringing the two enslaved duplicates heads together, no doubt ready to deliver his judgment. One of them had her yellow-skinned visage stained with unevenly dumped lumps of alabaster jizz, while the other looked sullen as if noxious from having attended so long to his ass. Both clearly had to fight to prevent their eyes from drooping with exhaustion, awaiting his declaration with a fearful disposition.

Only now did Constantos notice that the two Alicians appeared to be sporting red facial-tattoos of different designs. Intuitively, she understood… that was their distinguishing feature, the way the clones had once told themselves apart when there were more of them… the one bit of individual identity they had. It would have been useful in their society, Anna felt sure… but here? Such existential markings seemed to matter little now. What purpose did a persona serve when your sole purpose in existence entailed being abused by monsters? Miranda vouched that the original Nicia had been a valorous heroine. She doubted much of that strength and bravery remained now. 

Looming lordly above them, Makvar took his time picking the winner, watching the mounting trepidation on both faces with much glee.

“Getting to dominate a woman is the one act that all Kthid value,” Miranda voiced without a hint of weariness. “Well, that and reproduction of course, though I do not think that they acknowledge the difference. Truly, they are a conquering culture stripped to its essentials. Their one indulgence breeds only more of them.”

Makvar took a great breath before exclaiming. “Rith!”

At the announcement, the sperm-besmeared Alician gasped as if having taken her first breath after a minutes asphyxiation. The other, though, detonated into a countenance of singular horror, awestruck with horror at this inauspicious announcement.  Her serpentine body began shuffling as if trying to slither away, sudden tears flooding down her pretty alien face.

She had been condemned to something terrible… Anna felt sure of that, and her horror abruptly became hard to watch. The doctor placed her back flat against the wall, struggling to keep her feet balanced on this cornice during her internal meltdown. Even though they were of such inhuman and even fantastic physiology, she couldn’t help but extend her sympathy for the Alicians as well.

“They were a magnificent species, once,” Miranda began. “Sophisticated and advanced. More so than we are, Anna… especially their medical science and genetics. As mentioned, they even managed to master the science of cloning during the later-stages of their civilization, something that the Kthid haven’t mastered… let alone us. When the Kthid invaded their system, the Alician champion Nicia was cloned millions and millions of times so to create an army of super-soldiers that hopefully could trump their approaching conquerors.” She pointedly met Anna’s eyes. “They didn’t. Now all that remains is a few hundred specimens, all woeful sex-slaves such as these two.” She looked over at Anna. “It all happened before even Master Sarcand was born, two centuries ago. I believe we won these in the challenge that secured him his rank and this ship.”

Hearing the tale, Anna dangled on the precipice of nihilism. Entering this ship she’d felt an awe for scientific exploration that had been repeatedly mutilated with scenes of dismay. It was like she had been toured through tableau after tableau of great cosmic evil, all the Luciferian handiwork of the Kthid. Humanity had long speculated about the grandness of the sidereal stars, the encountering of new civilizations, the elucidation of whom else shared our galaxy. But spaceflight had apparently only unveiled an ongoing extermination, a graveyard caused by the Kthid. There were no majestic wonders of sentience out there. There existed only victims for whom her tiny heart felt boundless woe.

There wasn’t enough sadness inside her to grieve for all this. Anna had been worried about the destiny of a million colonists. What were their fates in comparison to the untold worlds that the Kthid had already wiped out, their population reduced to sex slaves before being slowly bred to extinction? It was a thought too big for her conscience to fully grasp. Looking at her Tartarian guide, Constantos whispered like a broken soul. “C-Can we move on?”

“Take another look first,” the athletic redhead urged. “I want to see what becomes of them.”

The suggestion made it impossible for Anna not to look. She gazed back into that den of depravity. Miranda wore a carcadon grin, like she understood everything that the doctor felt. Was she was too callous to grieve? Did she enjoy watching them suffer? Or was she just glad that it wasn’t her?

Within that decadent chamber, the Kthid had issued his punishment and reward without preamble. The victorious Alician that the male had called Rith had been made to present her rear to him and was getting savagely ass-fucked, that serpent-body raised up high while her humanoid torso jutted downward slantwise towards the deck. Makvar was holding onto her hips right where they terminated into orphidian coils and slammed forward into her asshole, the tail splaying out behind him. Rith was still veiled in his gooey seed whose multiple strands trembled as if about to dislodge with every hammer blow of the cock inside her. The Nician’s bright eyes were soaked with tears while she gazed off towards her unfortunate clone.

This specimen was skewered like a kebab. Right between where the human-body and the serpent-body connected, there was a small gap where a human’s thighs would be, a hole that went straight through and was attached to the pussy on the front and the anus at the rear. Through this space, a serrated bar had been drawn and mounted on the wall, forcing her to hang above the ground so that it became difficult to balance with her serpentine body. This caused said bar to dig into her pussy with most of the Alician’s body weight, its ridges causing points of extreme pain on her sex.

However, this was only a set-up for her true torment. Behind the strung-up lamia was positioned an enormous klieg light, its rounded lens beaming directly onto her naked backside. Even from such great a distance, Anna could feel the tyrannical heat emanating onto her cheek. Makvar wasn’t doing this for any source of illumination. He wanted her hide to fry until it became as hard and cracked as her reptilian scales! The excruciation this placed on her was amply communicated through wild and ghastly expressions. She wiggled and squirmed yet was unable to move due to that wall-mounted bar protruding against her sex, apparently keeping her all but immobile.

Constantos stomach knotted at the realization that she was watching a fellow female, alien or human, being roasted alive. That hue on her backside must have started swelling and blistering, turning into a purple-colored mess from those grueling heat of the strong light. No wonder she exerted herself so zealously in having that Kthid’s asshole tongued. All that mortifying rimming… and it had won her not an iota of goodwill in the eyes of this sadist.

While Anna had been peering transfixed at that heatwave torture, Makvar had finished inside Rith’s ass, splurging her insides and abandoning her to set his attentions on the one who did not receive his clemency. “How do you feel, slave? Being underneath my sun?” the bulky alien asked.

“PLEASE MASTER! IT’S LIKE HAVING MAGMA POURED ON MY SHOULDERS, MASTER!” she bellowed, Anna’s translation earpiece feeding the words to her. “PLEASE! I BEG OF YOU—”

As she begged, that monster picked up a multi-corded whip which had been lying unattended on the ground. Rith looked like she wanted to scream a warning from where she lay on the ground… but the miserable-looking creature remained silent. 

Swinging his mighty arm, the Kthid thundered that whip directly into her heat-mutilated backside, hitting against its burned hue with all the power in his brawny limbs. The blow was completely unexpected, and the Alician screeched a wail so furious that it should have come from a being three times her size, sounding utterly insentient in her agony. Despite the enormity of this outcry, Makvar flailed his arm again so to buffet the woman with another unmitigated power-blow. It already sounded as if the extraterrestrial was dying or at least on the edge of experiencing a mental collapse.

Rith’s cheeks had turned into a rainfall of tears while silently watching that unforgivable barrage. It seemed to Anna like she was forcing herself to watch. The doctor couldn’t anymore. She jerked her head away, horrified upon realizing that the agony-shrieks kept sounding just as loud. Why wasn’t there any way for her to stop this? Weren’t they valuable, Miranda had said? What if he hurt them? What if he killed them? He didn’t seem to care! Why had the universe allowed an abomination like the Kthid to emerge?

Miranda took one quick glance at the spectacle, then turned away unfazed. “With sessions like that handed out as rewards for meritorious warriors, no wonder that the clones have gone from millions of captives to mere hundreds. Master Sarcand will be annoyed though if the session ends with one of their deaths. Their rarity has made the Nicians very expensive to be bartered among the Warlords.”

Expensive. He would need to trade something he wanted to get another one… and that, apparently, was as far as he could care.

Assaulted on all sides with woebegone scenes, Anna began to weep. Her iron-hearted guide did not comment on the outburst of emotion and merely headed back towards the tunnels. Anna stalked her steps, walking automatically, desperate to leave the screams behind.

The two explorers returned to trudging down the tight confines of those tunnels. Through the slitted embrasures, Anna beheld them moving through arsenal-like rooms fitted with weaponry that humanity had no way of matching, full-plated armor that could absorb any lasrifle, and row-upon-row of pens containing lethal Void Tracers in hibernation, wrapped in their own membranous wings. These caiman conquerors backed up their imperialism with truly awesome firepower. Through the centuries, mankind had become gradually less barbarous and more civilized, growing more peaceful and more cooperative as they aged. To Anna’s eyes, the Kthid had been the exact antithesis. Every ounce of their genius was spent on furthering their their ability to take, ruin, and destroy; to make the women of defeated peoples carry more of their species via unwilling breeding. The life-long pacifist began fantasizing about constructing biological weapons which could neuter the whole goddamn race… and all the time, a thought began to grow in the back of her head, screaming louder, and louder, and louder until she couldn’t ignore it any more.

If these things ever reached Earth, her species was doomed.

Unexpectedly, Miranda stopped in front of an embrasure where there was no doors nearby. Her delicately-sculptured face still carried not a hint of angst towards what they had witnessed, yet there was suddenly a strange inquisitiveness in her eyes, a wondering which she attempted to conceal. Right as Anna was about to ask why they had stopped, the woman exhorted her to look as well.

Flattening her naked torso against the wall, Anna gazed through the window neighboring Miranda’s. The tunnels and the rooms were no longer parallel with one another. They were now made to gaze down into a pit as if positioned in a ventilation shaft. The chamber down below looked like a battleground decorated after stringent spartan decor. All that existed was a floor coated with something black that looked like sand, with some lines that demarcated certain positions.

This pit was overcrowded with two scores of youthful adolescent Kthid — specimens that hadn’t grown taller than your average human male, younger even than Charnametros. They all looked to be engaged in some scant-rules variant of wrestling, attempting to pin one-another onto the sand. Teeth and claws were freely deployed, so many already sporting grisly scars. It was a monstrous battle down there. Anna saw Kthid whom had clearly bested their opponents sink their fangs in just so to amplify the agony of the moment.

“The Kthid have what you would call a meretricious caste system,” the statuesque Heitera explained. “After their first blooding, the striplings are placed into the segment of their society that they perform the best in. There are promotional-requirements that one must achieve to become a warrior, an engineer, a scientist, a scholar… and so on and so on. A fledgling who attains such a rank is instantly given full honors and considered a grown man.”

The Medical Officer kept her eyes on the sand. This training-regime was insane. It would have been considered extreme even by the most warlike societies of Terran history. “Most never make it through,” Miranda continued, an odd look on her face. “Their standards are high, and most fail. Those without the skills or temperament are the unclean, the casteless… they are the unarmored rabble who still fight with primitive weapons. They are treated as meat-bags and serviles. Technology and comfort is the privilege of those who are promoted to a caste… as is the privilege to be allowed to breed. Reproduction for a casteless is something only afforded during the grandest of triumphs, times of abundance. As such, only the strongest genes survive, and every member has everything to fight for. In this, there is no favoritism.”

Having observed the fallen heroine as she spoke, Anna noticed an almost imperceptible tightening of the woman’s throat, as if something nudged at her cadence. “Look towards the far rightmost corner,” Miranda instructed. “Do you see the one with a white armbar strapped around his wrist?” she asked. Anna did, spotting an especially lean and athletic-looking light-green youth who was proudly sizing up the other juveniles.

“That is my firstborn,” Miranda admitted.

Shock ruptured Anna’s line of thought.

“He’s the one conceived when I was still fighting against Sarcand with all the will of my heart. I freely admit that his conception killed a lot of what remained of my old, indomitable self. The name Sarcand gave him is Askvar, after the general who brought the Alicians to their knees… the one who raped Nicia herself. I’ve watched him grow before my very own eyes, waiting to see if he would grow into a warrior like his father.”

Anna was stunned, unable to even formulate a sentence in response. Somehow the implications of Miranda having already mothered three of these savage world-destroyers had not fully dawned on her understanding. She could not for a minute imagine that the Kthid possess the concept of loving their mothers, seeing them purely as wartime conquests and vessels to incubate their DNA. Yet… delivering three of them had imprinted something on Miranda’s rigid psyche. There was no modulation of the voice, no stir within the irises, nothing emotive which could indicate that she felt something, anything, for these inhuman beasts that were her sons. The cadence was wholly of a woman narrating facts… yet Anna knew it was there. “I’m… sure he will be,” she said, unsure of why she was reassuring the woman about such a topic but it was in her nature to try to comfort those in pain. “He is the blood of their leader, after all… is he not?”

Miranda chuckled darkly. “They all are,” she said. “This entire ship is his clan, his descendants. That is how they arrange these battleships, by the brood of their progenitor. Should Askvar fail, he will receive no more sympathy from the Huntmaster than any of the other hundred thousand of casteless on board.” She signed and started moving away from the slit-shaped embrasure. “He used to be Master’s favorite. A symbol of Kthid victory, and his discovery of me. But now he has already begun to favor my latest child. They grow fast… stunningly fast… but even so, for now he is still a toddler unaware of anything but his most basic urges. The one whom I was made to beg to bear after years of fierce resistance. I’ve never been fucked by Sarcand like the night when he was finally able to hear me beg. Goddess how I screamed when he inseminated me. He named that spawn after the Dark Star while it was still inside my womb. He certainly was a demon to birth.”

Without spilling any more information, Miranda turned and proceeded down the tunnels. Anna took one last look through that embrasure at the explorer’s firstborn, seeing Askvar violently toss another Kthid onto the sand. She began to scurry after her so to not get left behind.

Scouting through the massive battleship, Miranda at last tracked down her target – The Heitera had returned to her Master.

Approaching another one of those decadent pleasure rooms, they heard the noises of another slave being violated by Kthid cock. This one sounded different though. Instead of wailing mindlessly, it was more like she was trying to manage her outbursts and maintain a delicate tone.

Peeking in, Anna saw Sarcand lying prone upon a luxurious pile of comforters, fingers interlaced behind his skull as an alien woman bounced upon his rigid meat-pole. It was one of those blue-skinned Nys, the aquatic race that she had spotted earlier. Weirdly, there was no visible means on coercion with which the Huntmaster made the woman straddle his enormity. The supple-bodied fishwoman managed quite a rigorous tempo on his hard-on, rebounding up until only the tip of his dick remained lodged inside her cunt before she slammed down again. She was even keeping her hands upon her pussy-mound and physically holding those vaginal-folds apart so to that his dick would easier slide in. Likewise, her face was a tortured mask yet the Nys girl tried desperately to turn it into something that looked like a beloved smile. With how brutally big the space dragons’ cocks were, it was the sort of thing that the doctor would only imagine seeing from someone who was clinically mad. This was beyond even Miranda’s level of subservience. She wondered how any life-form could possess the fortitude to willingly desecrate herself in such a zestful and resolute manner.

“Lylyssa,” the heroine muttered, her eyes peering — just as Anna’s were — on someone whom she considered to have dove deep into a pool of insanity.

“Does my fish-pussy please you, Star-God?” the finned alien questioned with shaking lips and rebounding hips, her crude words been whispered into Anna’s ear by the nearly-forgotten device. “My whole race exists to serve you… Please, be mollified by our worship!”

Sarcand didn’t answer, merely grinned wickedly. He was as languid as an athlete vacationing on the beach. The behemoth seemed to want to indolently wait and see when she eventually capsized, observe for how long she could continue her exertions. The alien girl that Miranda had named Lylyssa seemed to already be on the edge of her capability. Though she didn’t sweat or fluster her skin, her posture was markedly rigid and her face-splitting smile trembled on both ends.

“Please Star-God. Accept my pussy as worthy your seed. Its the only reason why I was made. Ohh… Guhh… I c-can’t,” she stuttered, being under such unnatural strain that it looked like her azure-blue figure was going to rip in twine, despite its superhuman nimbleness.

“G… God?” Anna wondered. “Why does she keep using such a word?”

Miranda almost tittered, shaking her head while smirking thinly. “I told you. The Nys were plenty intelligent, but had no technology, so their culture never progressed much further than Earth’s early kingdoms before the Kthid arrived on their homeworld and took every one of them from it. For such an underdeveloped people, divinity is the only way in which they can comprehend a creature like the Kthid. In their woe they’ve turned to venerating them like idols, thinking that it can bring deliverance. Most of the ones I have met are a race of true believers, even though some of them can be weak on grit. Lylyssa here is their high-priestess… Sarcand’s personal pet from among them.”

That dick-straddling fey humanoid bucked and bent as if suppressing internal spasms, yet still put her entire backbone into slamming herself onto the dragon’s dick. She was going above and beyond in her devotion to having her Star-God milked. Lylyssa clearly wanted to shriek from the black horror agonizing her womanhood yet just couldn’t. Sarcand remained as smug and motionless as the doctor had ever seen him, clearly waiting for the abused woman to fail.

“I guess their primitive civilization never developed the concept of demons,” Miranda jocularly mused, showing her cold-bloodedness. “Though I suppose the difference between thinking them Gods or Demons are moot with the Kthid.”

To Anna, this seemed uniquely lamentable. To think of the Kthid as supreme beings because you have no other cultural frame of reference. It was almost… infantile in its exploitation of their underdeveloped culture. Not only were they enslaved as a people, they were enslaved by religion to imagine their situation unavoidable and decreed by a callous pantheon. No doubt the High-Priestess Lylyssa hoped that through some tenet of faith or superstitious ritual she could get mercy… by zealously riding Sarcand’s cock she could leverage herself some preferable outcome. Only through such primitive fatalism could such strenuous obedience have emerged.

Perhaps a successfully induced orgasm would mean a reprieve for her people? Anna still vividly remembered the sight of those terrified Nys attempting to swim away from the golden pools of piss spreading through their tanks. But knowing everything she did about the Hunt-Master’s tyranny, such a boon would never be granted. He just did this to delight in watching the slave reach her limit and then break. Their simple-mindedness was just another factor that he could exploit and abuse.

Wiping a tear away from her eye, the doctor asked “Hasn’t anyone tried to explain to them that the Kthid aren’t Gods?”

Miranda chuckled with iron-hearted dismissal. “Why bother? What difference would it make, even if they believed you? Their fate is the same. Save your pity for yourself, Anna.”

Within that chamber, there began resounding the cataclysmic noises of a sexual apex. However, Lylyssa’s voice greatly outsounded Sarcand’s, the seaborne lifeform shouting “Thank You!” and “Praise the Star-Gods!” as her torso flopped around like a fish out of water, desperate to return to the sea. Anna could see a splurge of whitish semen ejected from the area of their conjoined hips, splattering in all directions. An immense amount of relief glowed on the Nys’s hairless expression, which was quickly broken down by her sheer exhaustion. The sylphlike Alien practically slumped off Sarcand’s groin, her tiny rib cage visibly bobbing.

Sarcand rose. “Pathetic!” he spat. “I don’t know why we let you miserable sea urchins worship our cocks in the first place!”

At once, Lylyssa went prostrate before him, forehead against his toes. “I’m sorry that my fish-pussy did n—Giiaaahh!” she began to say before Sarcand grasped her by the shoulder-fin and then dragged the blue creature screaming across the room.

At the other end of the room was a circular manhole, its top covered by a grating. He opened up this cover and threw the Nys priestess inside. Evidently, its confinements were of diminutive proportions, as the Priestess’ head could still be seen jutting from its top even though she had fallen inside. He slammed that grating shut, forcing her head down and then swiftly locking it. In such a tight space it must be like sitting inside a torture box. “Here is all your species is good for!” he bellowed, grasping his now flaccid cock and pointing it towards the manhole. “We should just have you installed as the ship’s toilets!”

Aiming that green serpent, Sarcand unleashed a prodigious beam of piss straight into the circular hatch. The yellow jet hit with a splash and began filling up the tiny space. Anna could hear Lylyssa yelp and splutter as the gush hit her, no doubt striking the woman right in the face from the manner in which he aimed. The doctor remembered her previous observations, that the acidic contents of Kthid urine had to be very damaging to lifeforms who evolved within the water, perhaps even feeling like it was slowly burning her. That would no doubt explain the fanatic outcries coming from that sealed hatch.

Sarcand’s countenance gleamed with immense joy at turning another living being into his personal urinal. That monster possessed a very prodigious bladder… he kept pissing for solid minutes. Eventually, Lylyssa’s yells were converted into a gargling noise and then Anna heard nothing at all, the piss-level apparently having reached about her mouth. There must have been some water in there, at least… or, it occurred to her with horror, more urine. Gold-colored fluid started oozing from the bars of that grating right at the moment where his stream turned into a trickle.

Lylyssa was buried alive in her own personal sea of piss!

Cackling to himself, the enormous reptilian turned his back on the Nys and headed for one of the many exit-doors that lined this room. Miranda’s emerald eyes trailed him like a cat tracking her target. As soon as she saw him move through one of those doors, the fallen heroine was on the move. She seemed more… expectant that normal.

Anna followed. On her journey across the room, she couldn’t help but stray from the direct path so to walk over to that manhole, so to behold the fate of Lylyssa. Approaching, she beheld that blue creature — her hue looking blackish due to the distortion from the piss — huddled together inside, arms around her knees and keeping close to herself, tucked in in absolute misery. She could breathe within the urine apparently, yet her eyelids were continuously twitched, as if pained by some great disturbance. That was pure Kthid piss that she was drawing her oxygen from, so the poor thing was probably choking as well. Anna’s heart overflowed with sympathy.

Lylyssa noticed her towering yet unsettled presence. For the briefest second, scientist and High-Priestess crossed eyes, staring directly at one-another through that distorting layer of urine. Abashed, Anna turned around and quickly scurried away after Miranda.

“The Faliran,” Miranda said with a contemptuous sneer. “Of course… he would want to visit Thia.”

Standing by the doorway, Anna had happened upon another preternatural scene of galactic horror. This time, the room contained a trio of an alien species… although one definitively stood out. Two of them were on the deck, all but buried beneath the mass of a Kthid tormentor, but the third alien was restrained against those hexagonal segmented walls, her four limbs splayed out and manacled in place.

Her morphology seemed like a strange amalgamation of humanoid and insect. Parts of her body were plated with an olive-colored carapace, while other parts of her like the bosom and the pubic-mound were fleshy like a human, sporting a pussy and bountiful breasts. All three of the creatures looked taller than Anna, taller than the average Terran, but it seemed mostly due to the length of their longer limbs. The aliens were slim, making them look quite spindly, especially since their hands and head were still proportioned on the scale of humans, and the one standing showed that the race utterly lacked an instep, making them appear at a glance like they were walking on stilts.  

Even with this uncanny physiology, it was their heads that stood out to Anna the most. The carapace surrounded their mammalian faces so to look almost like a helmet without a visor, encircling it in a protective shell. The two on the floor formed almost a smooth dome, but from the standing one there rose a trio of ridges, their length far surpassing the dimensions of her skull. Anna wondered if it wasn’t some sort of crown-like garb instead of a natural phenomenon, but it appeared to be made from the same carapace that protected parts of her body. Their ear-lobes likewise jutted lengthily upwards and away from them, and slackened antennae rose from their temples, going up a distance before turning soft and hanging down like filaments. Those of the two on the floor were small, but the antennae of the standing woman were extremely impressive.

That wasn’t even the largest difference between the chained Faliran and those on the deck, however. From her shoulders jutted a double-pair of diaphanous wings! The translucent outgrowths were of a light-blue sheen and replete with perceptible veins. Their composition reminded Anna very much of a grasshopper… or, with a sudden surge of realization, those exhibited by ant queens. As a whole, she was ethereally beautiful, slim and pale and almost ghostly.

At present, no one was touching the chained woman. The other two Faliran were not as fortunate as her. They were both assailed by one Kthid each. One was being ravaged in something very much like a missionary position. The other was encircled with chains so that she was as immobile as a larva, squirming and wiggling about as a standing Kthid equipped with a corded flail whipped her floor-bound body over-and-over. She screamed horrible, wailing screams from the pain of the buffeting instrument, the litheness of her figure not conducive for absorbing pain. Even her carapace didn’t long stand up to the abuse, cracking and breaking beneath the blows.

It was horrible to watch… and strange. Every time that corded whip made impact, the brutalized woman reacted with shrieks and thrashing… but the chained-up Faliran reacted as well, her face twitching. At first, Constantos assumed that it was merely the empathic reaction of a woman grieved at the torture of a friend, but as much as that made sense… the twitches were too regular, far too in-sync with the pain. She was also reacting to the suffering of the one being raped as well, her body flinching away from him in time with his punishing thrusts. It was as if… as if she could feel them. As if the bound one could feel the suffering of her fellow slaves.

“These aliens…” Anna whispered. “Do they… they can’t…”

“A true Hive Mind, yes.” Miranda nodded. “How attentive of you to notice.”

Sarcand had been leisurely striding towards the entrapped Faliran, as if engaged in some sort of game, threatening her with his nearness.

“Does that mean that…?” Anna began.

“That the manacled one is their Queen?” the red-haired woman glared over with hatred. “Yeah. That bitch is Thia. The central-nervous-system of the entire species… according to Master Sarcand, she’s the last one left. All her sistren were killed in the conquest of their race or bred to death in the last two decades since their empire fell.” She looked over at Anna. “Thirteen worlds. Something like 4 trillion women cast into collars. None can stand before the Kthid.” She sneered. “Now his precious Princess Thia is the last remaining of their leaders.” 

Sarcand arrived within punching-range, drawing back a fist to hit her… and then the specimen that Miranda called Thia did something that Anna never expected to see. She grimaced… but she also glared at him, her face filled with venomous loathing as she glowering up at her captor with the sort of spite that Anna herself felt she couldn’t have managed anymore after being a slave for just a few days. Sarcand bellowed laughter.

“How — is she a fresh captive?” Constantos asked. “Captured recently?”

“No,” Miranda answered, pursing lips. “She may not call herself the Queen, but as the last one remaining, this bitch is the Hive Mind now. She can sense everything which happens to her works, soldiers, and servants. Every rape. Every death. Every unwanted touch, and every birth. She registers it all.” She looked pointedly at the two Kthid still torturing the other two. “Master only rarely lets anyone else touch his prize, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have them hurt her anyway. She feels it all, but the way I understand it the intensity-level is dependent on distance… so these two before her? She feels almost as if it was occurring to her own body. However…” Miranda shrugged. “From what I’ve heard their scientists tell Master, with this ability also comes a very peculiar way of processing emotions and memories. Within their Hive Mind is embedded a sort of shared memory-bank, a genetic storage room for all of their history and experiences. Within this database she can pull up certain memories and emotions and seep-off past ones. This allows her to suppress the psychological impacts of traumatic events, by storing them away deep within her, and lucidly remembering bygone ones that keep her sane. Being raped? Just entomb that experience and remember the times that you were free. That way, the Queen’s mind can remain intact and undamaged, even while psychically suffering her drones pain. She can experience endless agony without being marred.”

“You mean…” Anna began, “That Thia can resist the Kthid’s torture. She’s indomitable? The Kthid cannot break her?”

A sour look overcame Miranda’s visage. “For now… perhaps,” she bitingly responded, real hatred in her voice. “But remember how invincible us Earthlings thought our Exalted to be, like that crone Atalanta. The Kthid have run into unique and peculiar lifeforms before. They always find a way to break them. Every. Single. Time. Just wait and see.”

Across the room, it looked like Sarcand had been trading words with his captive alien Queen while the fallen heroine had been busy explaining their miraculous mentality. Her crimson eyes shot him daggers, trying to maintain an air of defiance even while being wrecked by the pain radiating off from her two drones. Sarcand seemed more amused by the novelty of her psychology than irked… the Warlord beamed with absolute confidence.

For the first time in her journey through this metal-fused hell… Anna felt some sort of glimmer of hope. The Kthid were not indomitable, not complete. This a species that they could not tyrannize.

Wordlessly, Miranda stalked off into the chamber, leaving the doctor behind. Anna nearly yelped, not having imagined that she would bring attention to their presence in front of the Huntmaster. Walking speedily, she walked past the scene where the prone Faliran was being raped. The Kthid present had just finished firing his load, clambering off her and leaving that cunt a sperm-soaked chasm. The catatonic drone rolled onto her side, traumatized eyes having turned glassy as her bulging breasts were placed against the metal deck.

Miranda strolled right up to her, seemingly focused on Sarcand and the princess. Then, without any forewarning, in mid-step she did a little hop, jumping right onto the Faliran’s tit-mound with all of her body-weight placed on one sole. That globe-shaped udder became compressed in the middle as if about to burst, the vulnerable flesh swelling outward on the front and the base. Both drone and princess exploded with a bellowing pain-scream, detonating like a klaxon at Miranda’s unwelcome surprise. The Heitera kept walking as if nothing had happened, having made Sarcand look over his shoulder. “Oops! I think I crushed a bug, Master!” Miranda chirped innocently.

Upon reaching her Master, the redhead prostrated herself at his feet, ritualistically kissing the black, wicked toes. Thia gritted her teeth so to fight through the lingering pain, though that visage soon returned to its previously defiant mien. The drone, however, wasn’t so fortunate… her miserable wailing continued.

Heart beating frantically, Anna hugged the door frame closer. The three of them exchanged words that she could not overhear. Miranda appeared to be reporting on something from the way that Sarcand was listening, yet she could not imagine what it was. Thia, meanwhile, was vehemently snarling something leonine. The malachite colossus of Sarcand nodded towards his kowtowed Heitera. Shifting, he turned back towards Thia, observing the insectoid woman with the some of humor that could only be garnered by a soulless sadist. Without provocation, he slammed his closed fist into her unarmored gut, making the princess violently retch with agony.

He cackled aloud. Perhaps the prospect of a seemingly unassailable foe only served to motivate the Warlord? Whatever the vagaries of that monster’s mind, he appeared to hold Princess Thia in some special consideration, just like he did Miranda, and apparently that High-Priestess Lylyssa. Anna supposed that any male who had owned a Harem had his favorites.

Bending at the knees, Sarcand lowered himself until his now engorged cock was level with Thia’s splayed-open thighs. Her pussy defenseless against his might, he lurched upwards, fearsomely piercing that royal quim in a single thrust. The Faliran royalty screamed a warbling cry, shaking so hard that her twig-like limbs started to flutter. The narrowness of her torso was even less fitted for containing such a massive member than a Terran woman’s was, and Anna could see an obscene bulge where it simply made room inside her, pushing presumably important bits of her anatomy out of the way to fit. With well-practiced thrusts, he began slamming into her, fucking the Faliran against the wall so hard that the double-winged woman looked like a reed that was about to snap.

Anna felt a certain kind of darkness clump-up her stomach as she watched the agony play over the alien queen’s face and realized she had miscalculated entirely. Upon first learning about this exceptional species, she had seen a people who could possibly resist the Kthid. Now, watching the horror, she saw things with more lucid eyes. That genetic memory was no protection for her people… it only provided any solace for one, the princess herself. Instead of resistance, Thia’s indomitability would only bring her a flood of endless suffering where she could sense the violation of every Faliran from across the void.

It was as Miranda said. The Kthid would always find a way to break their adversaries. Even if it entailed raping these Falirans until that was the only kind of memory that their genetic-bank had room to store any longer… they would do it. And they would enjoy every single second of the process.

As Sarcand was busy skewering the princess right between the legs, Miranda rose. The great beauty cast her feline gaze towards a petrified Anna, then used those crystal-clear orbs to indicate a side-entrance within this room. The dark-skinned woman then turned and strode towards it.

Anna’s legs dared not move. They did not wish to scurry across that room inhabited by Sarcand and two Kthid. But the broken heroine would not wait for her. She did not want to see more… but the alternative would entail being left alone, lost and abandoned within the Death of Hope. The only thing that seemed worst than being guided through Hell was to need to wander without her Virgil.

Anna ran after Miranda as soundlessly as her naked soles would allow.

They emerged into some gloomy and seemingly empty chamber. On the other side of the room, the Scientist could discern some precipice. There was a reddish-orange glow emanating from those mysterious depths, making it look like a firehole, an opened pit to hell. The only sound audible was that of the battlecruiser’s low-humming engines.

Miranda paced towards it, which meant that Anna did so as well. Reaching that featureless, perfectly smooth edge, the redhead gazed down and then returned her sight towards the doctor. “This is what I wanted to show you,” she said. “Come. Have a look.”

Filled with trepidation, the Science Officer tip-toed over. Whence she finally got in range, she leaned forward, gazing down into that foreboding hollow… and she beheld such carnage that her vision grew unbalanced, almost swooning. “Oh God!” she exclaimed.

That deepness was a pit of mangled humanity. Bodies laid strewed on-top of one-another, virtually none of them whole. Gore and viscera lay behind recognizable Terran body-parts, the flesh mingling into one gigantic clump of dead biological matter. It was worse than the most uncivilized slaughter-house. With the lambent tinting casting crimsons hues across all of that severed butchery, it looked like a scene from biblical hell transported into reality.

“Those… Those are humans!” she bellowed.

“Yes,” Miranda placidly confirmed.

“But — who? They-must be—” she stuttered, the realization burying itself inside Anna’s heart with a million horrible thoughts. “They are the male crewmembers of the Midgar-6! The Kthid just dumped them all here. Every one of them. That is why there are no males among the captives. They’ve butchered them like animals!”

“Mmhmm,” the heroine affirmed with an unfazed mumble. “This is what they do with everything non-female that the conquer. They hurl them into these processing pits. To be converted into food. The lucky ones, anyway.” She kept looking, eyes emotionless. “Sometimes I’ve even seen them throw in ones that are still living,” she added.

Constantos nearly retched.

There was a long pause. The two women stood still as statues. Anna felt paralyzed being in the nearness of such slaughter, struggling not to be sick. “You know…” Miranda began contemplatively. “The first time I was shown this pit, some profound thoughts came over me. I thought about our species’ history. The entire lineage of mankind. The very stuff that makes us. Our DNA. The pit of course wasn’t filled with humans back then… it was filled with Nys. But the corpses stacked so high that it almost reached the precipice.”

The experience of journeying through this hell had made Anna emotionally exhausted. Tear-eyed, she gazed over at Miranda. She spoke with a tone that seemed to belong to something alien.

“When I was a young girl,” the redhead resumed. “I read a book about archaic humans. Neanderthals. Homo Erectus. Denisovans. The other early forms of sentient life on earth. They all went extinct before civilization had even planted its first seed, out-competed by our own ancestors and wiped out, vanished from history. However, the book stated that the pedigree of these archaic humans lives on within us. We interbred with them. Produced offspring. As such, our genome consists of about 4% of Neanderthal DNA, leftovers from those times, small as they may be.” She shook her head. “I thought that was beautiful. In a way, they weren’t truly extinct. They lived on inside us. It was a form of immortality.”

Anna listened as if from spellbound. She wondered if this was the first time that the far-famed heroine had opened her heart to anyone… but there was something dark in the posture, in her expression. Something dangerous. Something… malignant. 

“However, when I grew to become a woman, I realized my girlish notion of how that went was foolish. That our ancestors interbred with the Neanderthals through rape. Two opposing tribes, and the women of the defeated one being taken as bounty and handed over to the victors. So now the only thing about the Neanderthals that remains in existence is the garbage DNA from Neanderthal women who were raped and bred by Homo Sapient men. That is the legacy of their species.”

Miranda turned so to face the petite doctor. Anna retreated one step as if confronted with something inimical to her soul. Up until now, that long-lost heroine had treated her with a solitary amicability, something she had shown no-one else onboard the Midgar-6. Now, her eyes were hard as that friendliness fell away. The most minute of flexes in Miranda’s muscles signaled the change… that to Miranda, Anna was now someone to crush, not to shield.

“…and now the Kthid are doing the same to us,” the stunning redhead concluded.

“No,” Constantos protested without any conviction to her words.

“We will encounter the same destiny that we gave to the Neanderthals, subjected to genocide by a superior species. Out-competed. Outmatched. Earth will be conquered and its defenses will fall. You know this as well as I do, Anna. We will be bred out of existence. But our Kthid sons will possess a few strands of conquered DNA inside them. That is all of humanity that will live on. What will happen on board the Midgar-6 to those colonists is merely a preview to the fate of our entire species.”

Anna said nothing. How could she?

“And now,” Miranda said, staring into her eyes. “You are going to give me those codes.”

The scientist’s flesh froze. In this moment. She feared Miranda much more than she feared Charnametros, or Sarcand, or any Kthid. Anna wanted to drop to the floor, her knees were trembling so much. “No,” she thoughtlessly whimpered. “Kill me. I can’t do it. No matter how you torture me.”

“I reached out to you because I recognized that you were different, doctor,” Miranda stated, her every sentence feeling now like a goblet filled with poison. “You are… unlike other people. You think, feel and work in your own way. I can respect that. That’s why I have given you so much singular attention, Anna.”

The scientist heard a group of heavy-bodied individuals approaching in the distance. Their loud footfalls grew ever-closer. Out of the shadows stepped Sarcand, Charnametros and a whole slew of other Kthid. Their diminutive reptilian eyes gazed at her in silent menace.

“You aren’t like other people. Torturing you directly would be as effective as torturing the Faliran princess,” Miranda continued. “You simply will not break when pressured in that direction. But after all our little interactions together, I think I know you, Anna. You are an oath-bound healer. Your devotion to your patients is a maxim. And you can’t stand by and allow someone to be hurt.”

Low-ranked Kthid, the casteless, came carrying something heavy into the chamber. To Anna’s surprise and horror, she found that they were hibernation pods! Some of those egg-shaped devices had been removed from their station on the Midgar-6 and transported here. Anna grew even more alarmed when she noticed that their locks had been broken open!

“NO! Don’t do that! Any disturbance to the cryo-ice enveloping those colonists could kill them!” she blurted in instinctual concern.

“I know,” Miranda said. “Master Sarcand had a few of them ferried over onto this battleship so to see if the Engineering-class could break them open. Naturally, they could, but that is not the problem. The problem is the removal of the cryo-ice. Without the right procedures, the inhabitant will almost certainly die upon defrosting.”

Her assessment had been 100% correct. Anna felt a black nightmarish horror hollow out her soul.

“This is my plan, Anna,” she confessed. “I came up with it. I proposed it all myself to Master Sarcand and Charnametros.” The betrayal dug deep into the doctor’s soul. “I deserve to have to be the one to do this myself. You care about these colonists to an… irrational extent. That zealousness means that you would rather surrender your life than see any of them hurt. That is foolish, girl… you can’t afford that sentimentality.”

Miranda strode over to the nearest hibernation-pod. She swung open its broken-through door, the egg splitting in twine. Within was a solid block of ice with the vague beige outline of a person inside it. Cool vapors emitted as that mini-glacier encountered normal air. Miranda then walked over to a casteless Kthid who handed her a huge, heavy battle-mace whose knob was the size of her head.

Sarcand commenced a light chuckle, as if knowing that the plan was going to work.

The statuesque heroine lifted the mace in both hands, meeting Anna’s gaze. “I’ll stop when you give me the codes.” She paused. “For what it’s worth… I’m sorry.” The famed explorer raised her weapon to strike. The mace began to descend.

Anna shouted. “STOP!”

Miranda halted. She stared at her erstwhile companion with a derisive smirk.

“You’re trying to trick me. The Kthid would never sacrifice a human female like this. They are too valuable to them!” she argued.

She shrugged. “I’ve discussed this with my Master,” the threatening woman responded. “He agrees that it’s an acceptable gamble. Sacrifice the life of one or two fertile humans for the reward of gaining one million. It’s a worthwhile trade.”

“Please, Miranda!” Anna shouted. “You’re a hero! It’s not too late… you can help save them!”

Miranda’s eyes flashed. “Like the Federation helped me?” the redhead spat. “These people don’t matter, you child. They will just be the first to be bred… the first of billions and billions of your brothers and sisters.”

Tears flooded down Anna’s cheeks. “I’m sorry!” she cried. “I’m sorry we didn’t come for you! I’m sorry for everything! We didn’t know, Miranda! We didn’t know!” She roughly wiped her forearm over her leaking eyes. “You’re not just our hero, Miranda… you’re mine! You can’t do this! Please… help me!”

Something in Miranda’s gaze softened for a second… a small tremble in her arm. She slowly closed her eyes and took a breath. Then, when she opened them again, her eyes looked like steel. “I am helping you.” Hefting the huge hammer again, Miranda swung.

This time, when Anna screamed, she didn’t stop. The sound of impact rang through the room like a funeral bell. That bulging knob connected with the ice-cube, eliciting a clamorous bang. The powerful punt rocked the frozen water and chipped away small pieces. Instinctively, she rushed forward to stop Miranda… never pausing to consider what she would do to the athletic heroine even if she reached her. She never found out… two Kthid grabbed her effortlessly, holding her in place like a tiny, leashed animal. Never before had Anna felt so small, so outnumbered, so spiritually lonesome and overmastered by the woe that surrounded her. The long journey through the Death of Hope had given her plenty of trauma-induced insights. Learning that the cosmos was wholly ruled by evil had softened her mettle. The idealistic galaxy that the Federation dreamed off didn’t exist. Had she not seen the fate of the Arane, of the Nys, the Alicians, or the Falians… then she might have been able to resist longer. But as it stood, the doctor’s heart was exposed… and it was bleeding away her very soul. 

Miranda struck again. This time, a ravine-like rupture emerged on its face. Anna felt like she was going to die! “STOP! STOP! PLEASE GOD STOP!!!” she shouted while still on her knees.

“The code!” Miranda snapped. A third blow fell. This one disconnected an entire block of ice. Rationally speaking, the very first blow was probably enough to kill the sleeper therein… but it was only now that the death of the sleeping colonist was truly understood by Anna’s soul. She swung again. The hollow pang of the impact rang like the trumpets of apocalypse. Swing. Shatter. Swing. Shatter. Swing.

Anna screamed, and it wasn’t until she was finished that she realized she had screamed out the whole code, over and over and over again as she fell to the floor sobbing.

Miranda let the maul slip from her fingers, hitting the ground with a heavy clang. The doctor’s brain blanked out at the moment of surrender, not even registering what she had said. Anna collapsed into the fetal position. She cried and she cried and she cried, utterly beside herself, existing in a paroxysm of misery. She told herself that it was inevitable. She would inevitably break anyway. Better to end now before another dies. This was the only way. Who was she to resist the great Miranda Black anyway? She couldn’t see another one of those helpless souls die before her. She couldn’t.

She wasn’t sure how long she lay there before it really settled in on her. She had failed. She had sold them out. Because of her… the Kthid now had the third password. They were now one step closer to deactivating the cryosleep tubes of one million colonists. Those colonists were her responsibility. Now in a fit of insanity-inducing emotions… she had failed them.

Miranda padded over. She squatted down over Anna as she remained in her shell shocked condition. The beautiful woman used one finger to wipe away the tears trailing down Constantos’s cheeks. She could not judge if the act of sympathy was genuine or hollow. For once, her empathy failed her completely. She just didn’t know. She didn’t know anything.

She didn’t know anything… and she didn’t want to. For the first time in her life, Anna realized that she had been horribly wrong, that she had been a fool… that ignorance was bliss.

“Amara is still out there…” Anna wept. “She is still free. As long as Sarcand doesn’t possess her, the colonists are safe.” In this moment of nigh-invincible dismay, the doctor focused on the one ray of hope that she could cling to.

“I know,” Miranda said. Her voice seemed… exhausted.

“You won’t break her,” Anna stated.

Miranda did not repeat her previous phrase.

“She… she is your sister,” Anna added.

Miranda voiced not a single sound.

Laying by the precipice of that hellish pit of gore, Anna gazed up at the fallen heroine’s face. The mention of her sister’s name had caused the woman’s eyes to drift pensively as if lost among sidereal stars.

Charnametros grabbed onto her arms and began dragging her off. It hurt… but Anna didn’t struggle. She had abandoned hope completely.

Next Chapter ->

Supplemental Material

Galactic Encyclopedia of Races – The Arane
Galactic Encyclopedia of Races – The Nys
Galactic Encyclopedia of Races – The Alicians
Galactic Encyclopedia of Races – The Faliran

6 thoughts on “Point of No Return 9 – The Inferno

  1. I know it’s a plot point for Anna to fail;
    But did she seriously just see how the Kthid cruelly torture other life forms;
    And then just sign away a solid million of her own kind, to save the lives of three people?
    When those three people are just going to join the carnage if they live?

    Kthid: Nyeh heh heh, see! We’ll rape your very souls!

    Anna: I’ll never give in, these people need me!

    Kthid: What if we waste three popsicles, then will you give us the codes to violate one million?

    Anna: You son of a bitch, I’m in!

    I know it’s supposed to go this way;
    But Anna seemed so stupid in that last part, I’m having trouble figuring out how she passed medical school.
    It definitely wasn’t her ability to think clearly under stress.
    Or crunch numbers.
    Or use basic reasoning skills.
    Seriously, how is she a doctor at all?

    Atalanta got screwed over when she gave in, the other girl did too;
    And Anna saw both events, right?
    She knows nobody’s getting out of this without getting royally screwed, and that goes for everyone in those pods, unless they die.

    Very interesting chapter, lore-wise;
    Not sure why the Snake girls have elf ears, but I’m sure there’s a good reason.

    You covered the basic races, like snakes, bugs, mermaids, etc.
    One part mentioned that only humanoid races rise to the top, so I’m curious:
    What’s the cutoff?
    Centaurs, harpies, more bestial ones like Minoraurs?

    And can anything in this universe shapeshift, like humanoid vampires into bigger monsters in the Witcher series?
    Or like stereotypical werewolves, I guess.

    The Kthid really are just overgrown bullies though.

    Kthid: Captain! We found mermaids! SEXY MERMAIDS! They even think we’re gods!

    Kthid Captain: Did you say toilets? ‘Cause I heard toilets.

    Is there a reason in-universe for them being needlessly cruel, or are they basically just meatheads with a piss fetish?
    I know sadists get pleasure from being cruel, but these guys use cruelty to pass time like we use magazines in dentist offices.
    There’s gotta be something wrong/altered with them, right?

    And lore-wise;
    Is there an opposite to the Exalts?
    Exalts are basically humans who are revered enough to be worshipped for all time;
    Is there any group of humans that are hated enough to be despised for all time?

    Because if word gets out;
    Anna’s probably going to be high on that list.
    At least the others had some reason to break;
    Atalanta being violated for a million years straight, the other one being bred by an eldrich horror.

    Anna basically just said “I know you’re going to absolutely ruin everyone in those pods, but here’s the code. Please don’t put these three out of their misery and spare them a horrible fate.”

    The entire time I was reading the chapter, I was thinking of all the ways that I could just kill myself before I gave up that code.

    (Speaking of which; how’s the Kthid’s emergency medical tech?
    Equal to ours, or good enough to basically resurrect someone?)

    You wrote her scenes well, and it’s a great story, but I’m definitely not rooting for her anymore.

    Whatever happens to her;
    She’s got it coming.


    1. I know it’s a plot point for Anna to fail;
      But did she seriously just see how the Kthid cruelly torture other life forms;
      And then just sign away a solid million of her own kind, to save the lives of three people?
      When those three people are just going to join the carnage if they live?

      It’s intended to be more like that she has lost all hope that she will manage to hold out, now or in the future. No one does, so her choices, as she sees it, is give in now, while people are alive, or give in later, after they’re dead… but either way, she fails to protect them or anyone else.

      The logic isn’t especially sound, but she isn’t in a great situation for logic at all, either.

      Very interesting chapter, lore-wise;
      Not sure why the Snake girls have elf ears, but I’m sure there’s a good reason.

      Not especially, just because I liked the look and had the excuse to make multi-pierced ears.

      You covered the basic races, like snakes, bugs, mermaids, etc.
      One part mentioned that only humanoid races rise to the top, so I’m curious:
      What’s the cutoff?
      Centaurs, harpies, more bestial ones like Minoraurs?
      And can anything in this universe shapeshift, like humanoid vampires into bigger monsters in the Witcher series?
      Or like stereotypical werewolves, I guess.

      The only limits are the things I could think of and draw a picture of, because I didn’t want to have a bunch of hard-to-visualize aliens running around, I knew I wanted to draw pictures of everything to go with them. Miranda and Anna talk about how almost every sentient race seems to be humanoid, although they don’t know why, but thats only ALMOST every so there aren’t a ton of limits here. Could be centaurs or harpies or whatever. Likewise, I don’t have any shapeshifters yet (unless you count the Sethis Mimic Fungus, which kinda sorta counts).

      The Alicians (the snake girls) are named the Alicians because the idea for them came from NoLongerInnocentAlicja, whom I told that if she designed a race I would draw it and put it in the story. If anyone else wants to submit one for a future part, if I like an idea and can draw it, I’ll name it in tribute of yall, too 🙂

      The Kthid really are just overgrown bullies though.
      Is there a reason in-universe for them being needlessly cruel, or are they basically just meatheads with a piss fetish?
      I know sadists get pleasure from being cruel, but these guys use cruelty to pass time like we use magazines in dentist offices.
      There’s gotta be something wrong/altered with them, right?

      Yes, there is something deeply wrong with them. There has been a lot of discussion over the nature of the Dark Star and how it seems to affect things, and how their society formed, but suffice it to say that their society is growing crueler over time, not less, and it would already be at parody levels if they weren’t so damn thorough at it.

      And lore-wise;
      Is there an opposite to the Exalts?
      Exalts are basically humans who are revered enough to be worshipped for all time;
      Is there any group of humans that are hated enough to be despised for all time?
      Because if word gets out;
      Anna’s probably going to be high on that list.
      At least the others had some reason to break;
      Atalanta being violated for a million years straight, the other one being bred by an eldrich horror.
      Anna basically just said “I know you’re going to absolutely ruin everyone in those pods, but here’s the code. Please don’t put these three out of their misery and spare them a horrible fate.”

      There isn’t a named group but… yeah, there are definitely going to be… reputational… problems for these people in the future. However…

      The entire time I was reading the chapter, I was thinking of all the ways that I could just kill myself before I gave up that code.

      It is covered early in the chapter why that doesn’t work. Anna is tempted to kill herself, but she knows that that will just lead to guaranteed death for most of them.

      “He had warned her that if it became impossible to get the codes, they did have another recourse… they could always try to thaw them out manually. It would be messy… he estimated they might manage to successfully pull out only one in a thousand… but a thousand thawed colonists to gangrape was better than none. The other 999,000 though… they would be dead.”

      So that isn’t an acceptable outcome for her either.

      (Speaking of which; how’s the Kthid’s emergency medical tech?
      Equal to ours, or good enough to basically resurrect someone?)

      As long as the body is more or less intact, and the brain isn’t damaged… yes, some level of resurrection is possible. By most definitions, merely thawing someone out of cryosleep is in fact bringing them back to life. However, with sufficient damage to a cold body or any brain damage to a warm one you hit a point of no return pretty fast… the medical technology is advanced, but it mostly relies on using the body’s inherent biological mechanics to fix itself and just aiding them.


      1. Speaking of interesting species;
        Does Grey Goo exist in this universe?

        It’s basically a concept of self replicating nanobots that consume everything on a planet, and convert each molocule/atom into another nanobot.

        In the game Trials in Tainted space, they take it a step further:
        If they encounter a living being, they convert it into a swarm of nanobots, but keep it as a perfect replica of the original animal.
        Kind of creating a robotic mimicry of a biological ecosystem.
        Fully sapient and self-aware of the fact that they’re a horde of nanobots, too.

        They might be capable of a hive mind as well, but I haven’t played in almost a year.

        Considering how many planets last chapter were completely devoid of life, even microbial life, it got me thinking a bit about scifi apocalypses.
        Plus, the Kthid have encountered AI before…

        Still looking forward to seeing the Weeping Mermaid and Blackfur Fox.
        Lore chapters in this story are always welcome too.

        I keep forgetting the schedule and end up constantly returning to the site;
        Is there an official schedule for new chapters, and upcoming stories?


        1. Speaking of interesting species;
          Does Grey Goo exist in this universe?

          Humans aren’t capable of creating self-replicating nanomachines on that scale, no. Other races might be but there are lots of scientists that don’t think it’s possible to create a grey-goo style swarm exactly because they would be too prone to rapid mutation through copy errors and evolving their own ecosystem that stopped, so I don’t think that exact threat is likely to come up. However…

          In the game Trials in Tainted space, they take it a step further:
          If they encounter a living being, they convert it into a swarm of nanobots, but keep it as a perfect replica of the original animal.
          Kind of creating a robotic mimicry of a biological ecosystem.
          Fully sapient and self-aware of the fact that they’re a horde of nanobots, too.

          That kinda IS the Sethis, they just aren’t artificial – they are mushroom spores doing basically that same function though of encountering something and cloning it.

          Considering how many planets last chapter were completely devoid of life, even microbial life, it got me thinking a bit about scifi apocalypses.
          Plus, the Kthid have encountered AI before…

          There has almost certainly been plenty of different scifi apocalypse level events on many planets. That one in particular hasn’t, but there have been a lot of things on the list you have in your head that have.

          I keep forgetting the schedule and end up constantly returning to the site;
          Is there an official schedule for new chapters, and upcoming stories?

          PonR publishes at 8 PM Eastern every Tuesday. Starting this Friday, Black Fur Black Heart should go up at 9 PM Eastern every Friday. I don’t have a schedule for upcoming stories at the moment I’m afraid, but commission chapters and one shot stuff just goes up whenever it’s finished.


  2. Well, this chapter is both informative and really upsetting, leaning more toward the upsetting.

    Anna’s early scene (“first do no harm”) is definitely an attagirl moment, though Ki’an’i had one too, so generally in this story those tend to end up hurting in hindsight (or by the end of the chapter, in this case).

    So…was the entire reason for the ship being named the Death of Hope just to have an Inferno reference? The Hell allegory would also explain the red lighting inside the ship.

    Maybe the most upsetting thing in this chapter is that we are introduced to four alien species, and are immediately informed that three of them are, in one way or another, extinct. The Nys and Alicians are alive at the moment, but their males are all dead, so when their lifespan runs out, both species will be rendered extinct. The Arane aren’t like that, since they’re evidently parthenogenetic when there are no males present, but their language, culture, and identity as a species has been erased.

    For the record, probably the most upsetting part with the aliens was early on: the Kthid eating the Arane’s egg, basically eating a baby while its mother screamed and cried. I…don’t think I need to explain that.

    We also get confirmation via the pit that my hypothesis that the Kthid eat the men was correct.

    I do like what you did with the Nys, in terms of their world and tech level. It’s not impossible to have a technologically advanced underwater species, but it is difficult, as while it’s easy enough to be tool users underwater, manipulating any kind of metal tends to require having utilized fire first.

    The Alicians are kind of similar to the Exalted in a way, albeit using cloned bodies to house the copies. Needless to say, given the length of time the clones have existed, they’re likely all pretty different people at this point.

    Well, I think that’s all the other stuff out of the way at this point. Let’s talk about Miranda.

    A lot of what happens with Miranda in this chapter is the same as what we’ve seen before: general sadism, and the explanation I gave in the previous reviews still holds for that (misery loves company). The really different things here are the scene showing her hatred of Thia and the one at the end, where it’s revealed this is all her plan. Thia first.

    You stated something last night about competition, about how Sarcand likes strong women and how Miranda would thus view Thia as a sort of rival, and resent her for that, but I think there’s another reason, one which may play into a lot of what happens here.

    You may recall my theory that Miranda might want someone to convince her that her situation wasn’t hopeless; to prove her wrong. There was a corollary to that that I didn’t mention last time, but I feel like I should have, because this chapter it seems like it might have come true. The corollary is that being proved wrong has to happen in the right way, or it might actually hurt her instead of helping her.

    One of the things we hear, constantly, about Miranda is how famous she was, how she was lauded at home, how she was presumed to be a future Exalted, how everyone looked up to her, how everyone expected great things from her.

    That could cause someone to be massively arrogant, but I think it might have gone a different way with Miranda. Instead of her assuming she could do everything easily, I think it put a massive, unbelievable weight on her shoulders. I think she may have felt the responsibility of all this very, very acutely, and her situation now weighs on her even more. I think the only way she’s been able to cope, to survive, is to assume that what happened to her is inevitable.

    So what does the existence of Thia say?

    Hey, look at her. She’s not broken, and the Kthid don’t seem to be making any progress. Thia isn’t just Sarcand’s favorite slave, but actively glares at him.

    Thia’s been on the ship for decades, and she’s still defiant, so it’s possible to resist the Kthid. failure is not inevitable.

    It can’t be that hard. Look at Thia, Miranda. She can do it.

    So Why. Can’t. You?

    The real reason, of course, is the Faliran hive mind, which Miranda consciously knows, but I think on some level her mind is supplying another answer, one that Sarcand has been reinforcing this whole time.

    Thia can do it, and you can’t, because you’re a failure. The Federation sent you out here because you were supposed to be able to handle anything. You were supposed to be good enough. They were depending on you. And the one time you were supposed to rise to the challenge, the one time everyone was counting on you, the ONE TIME you were meant to reward all of their trust in you, to live up to the responsibility you carry…and you failed. Utterly and completely.

    To me, Miranda hates Thia because Thia’s defiance is a constant reminder of the crushing weight of her own failure, and the weight gets heavier every day the Faliran queen remains unbroken.

    Those emotions build in Miranda, and they have to go somewhere. In or out. And here, they come out.

    The failure thing, like I said, is reinforced by Sarcand, whether he means to or not. Sometimes I think he does (ordering Miranda to recount the details of her enslavement and breaking to the Midgar-6 crew), and sometimes I think he does it unintentionally (pointing out that Amara’s doing better than Miranda did).

    Now don’t get me wrong, Misery Loves Company is still in there, and to some extent this is about survival (note that Miranda only seems to have come up with this plan after she failed to capture Amara and Sarcand implied he might need to replace her with a superior sister; she needed to prove that she was still a valuable slave), but I really do think the Weight of Failure idea that I just mentioned is a big part of this, and I think it comes up near the end.

    “This is my plan, Anna,” she confessed. “I came up with it. I proposed it all myself to Master Sarcand and Charnametros.” The betrayal dug deep into the doctor’s soul. “I deserve to have to be the one to do this myself.

    Assuming that’s not a typo, then those words mean a lot. She didn’t say “I am Master Sarcand’s Heitera, and I have the right to do this,” nor did he say “I deserve to be the one to do this.”

    No, she said “I deserve to have to be the one to do this.” Someone motivated purely by schadenfreude doesn’t say that. Someone who feels like this is her penance for something says that.


    1. So…was the entire reason for the ship being named the Death of Hope just to have an Inferno reference? The Hell allegory would also explain the red lighting inside the ship.

      No, that was a happy accident. Darinost and I were sitting in his living room and brainstorming how the Kthid would name their flagships, and he had the idea that they would name them conceptually, sort of like reverse-virtue names. The Death of Hope became the leading candidate early on. Then, when I realized that I wanted Miranda to be our POV for exploring the alien cultures, I immediately settled on a Dante/Virgil thought in my head… and the more I thought about it the more I was like “wait, that works.”

      After that, going back and adding more stuff like the red light and the hellish pit at the end and setting up the “abandon hope all ye who enter here” reference sorta just worked out.

      For the record, probably the most upsetting part with the aliens was early on: the Kthid eating the Arane’s egg, basically eating a baby while its mother screamed and cried. I…don’t think I need to explain that.

      You definitely do not.

      The Alicians are kind of similar to the Exalted in a way, albeit using cloned bodies to house the copies. Needless to say, given the length of time the clones have existed, they’re likely all pretty different people at this point.

      We don’t get to get into Rith’s head yet her, but definitely – they all started from a similar point of strength and purpose but even before they were captured, during the events of the war, they all had plenty of time to diverge into their own unique people just with a shared background. There was no attempt to keep themselves the same, either – that was why they tattooed their own faces, to give them some individuality immediately.

      Thia first.

      Thia can do it, and you can’t, because you’re a failure. The Federation sent you out here because you were supposed to be able to handle anything. You were supposed to be good enough. They were depending on you. And the one time you were supposed to rise to the challenge, the one time everyone was counting on you, the ONE TIME you were meant to reward all of their trust in you, to live up to the responsibility you carry…and you failed. Utterly and completely.

      To me, Miranda hates Thia because Thia’s defiance is a constant reminder of the crushing weight of her own failure, and the weight gets heavier every day the Faliran queen remains unbroken.

      I hadn’t phrased it that well in my own head but yes, that’s the idea. She’s resentful because Thia is a reminder of her own “failure,” her own “weakness,” so there is a part of her that wants to see her crushed… not because it would benefit her in anyway or because of any dark sadism but just so the reminder of her how “insufficient” she is would GO AWAY.

      The failure thing, like I said, is reinforced by Sarcand, whether he means to or not. Sometimes I think he does (ordering Miranda to recount the details of her enslavement and breaking to the Midgar-6 crew), and sometimes I think he does it unintentionally (pointing out that Amara’s doing better than Miranda did).

      No, that’s intentional. He likes pitting people against one another… drawing comparisons between them to make them feel worse is both fun for him, and strategic. He is a living incarnation of Sun Tsu’s ‘if they are united, divide them.’ We will get more into detail on how he treats his own slaves later, but we’ll see more on that soon.

      “This is my plan, Anna,” she confessed. “I came up with it. I proposed it all myself to Master Sarcand and Charnametros.” The betrayal dug deep into the doctor’s soul. “I deserve to have to be the one to do this myself.

      Assuming that’s not a typo, then those words mean a lot. She didn’t say “I am Master Sarcand’s Heitera, and I have the right to do this,” nor did he say “I deserve to be the one to do this.”

      No, she said “I deserve to have to be the one to do this.” Someone motivated purely by schadenfreude doesn’t say that. Someone who feels like this is her penance for something says that.

      This is correct. This is guilt/responsibility, a Ned Stark-ian “if you sentence someone to death hold the sword yourself.” She is saying that this is her fault.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s