Captain Jette Jones, Star Ranger
Issue #15 – Dark Wedding
By Callidus and connie k
All rights reserved. “Captain Jette Jones, Star Ranger” © 2023 All characters and stories are not to be reproduced in any form without the expressed written permission of the authors.
With cosmic wheels beginning to turn — bracing for a galactic battle between good and evil — Captain Jette Jones and the crew of the Artemis III are tasked with returning to besieged Te’ Sareez, while unbeknownst to them deposed queen Zeta lays in wait.
In the future …
She no longer noticed the mechanized hums and metallic clinks that followed her when she moved. Not after three months.
The eyes of the officers and cadets that were once filled with admiration and envy now turned away from her as she made the slow, robotlike trek through the walkways and corridors of Star Ranger Corps headquarters.
Captain Jette Jones entered Rear Admiral Hartley’s office, seeing her commander – as usual – peering over her spectacles before piles of tablets and file folders. The reflections from the vidscreens which surrounded her making her glasses glow blue.
“Captain! Jette. So good to see you. Please, sit.”
What should have been a simple task was still one Jette hadn’t quite gotten a handle on. She bent her motorized legs awkwardly and landed uncomfortably onto the chair with a clunk.
Hartley’s familiar smile was different these last months. Hopeful yet tentative. More like a mother watching her child take her first steps.
“How are you?”
Jette took in a deep breath, no longer feeling any nagging pain in her chest when she did. “The doctors say I’m doing well, Sir. Another week in this contraption.” She tried to smile. “Not a day too soon, Sir.”
Hartley toyed with the top button-hook on her uniform as she sat back. There was a long silence. Hartley was determined to wait Jette out. She knew why she was here. She also knew she needed to hear Jette say it.
“You may speak freely, Captain. You’re not here just so I can ask you questions.”
That coaxed a small smile from Jette. They were both aware that her meetings with the admiral usually turned into interviews.
“I was going to take a shuttle up to the space port. See how my ship is doing.”
“Certainly. She’s undergoing a complete refit. You may not even recognize her. The engineers have done amazing work. Updated tech. And a new name: Artemis IV.” Hartley knew Jette was hanging on what she said next. She spoke frankly. “She’ll also have a new crew. And captain. We’re hoping to expand the fleet over the next few years.”
Jette tried to keep the hurt out of her voice. “Admiral, if I may, I’d like to resume my commission. With the Artemis.”
That was that. Jette clenched her teeth. She needed to choose her next words very carefully. Hartley stood and crossed in front of her desk. Jette kept her eyes forward.
“You’ve known my feelings about this, Jette. My feelings toward you. This last … incident only reaffirmed my judgment. You are simply too valuable to the SRC. I … we … cannot risk having you on any more deep-space assignments.”
“But Admiral –”
“The matter is closed.”
“Yes, Sir. But I was hoping to return to Te’ Sareez. I was hoping the Star Ranger Corps would come to its aid.”
Hartley shook her head sternly. “The Galactic Systems League has made its decree. You know that as well as anyone. The Suzerain Council, such as it is, has cut off all outside communication. It has withdrawn from the GSL. It is a rogue system. We are not going to get involved in a civil war.”
Her face softened at Jette’s reaction. “It’s over, Captain.”
Jette forced her eyes upward, meeting Hartley’s.
“In that case, Admiral,” Jette said flatly, “I accept your promotion as vice commander.”
There were four space ports orbiting Moonbase One. Ports C and D were constantly filled by supply ships, Earth-to-base transports for staff, officials and anyone else needing to do in-person business with the solar system’s military and exploration forces. A was for tourists and random visitors – alien and otherwise — families and pretty much everyone else.
Port B was for the fleet.
Jette was at the end of the shuttle car, leaning back ever so slightly from its steep incline as it soared above the lunar atmosphere and into space. She preferred to stand, of course, although the shuttle was standing-room-only anyway.
It was nighttime on the moon from her vantage point as she peered down, small dots of light singling out the domed settlements of Lunar Paris, Lunar Madrid and Lunar Armstrong.
A young girl holding her mother’s hand turned around. They were forced to stand for the 20-minute flight, and the curious girl’s eyes found Jette – covered from neck to toe in her robotic cast. Most people found Jette’s appearance alarming, but the young girl’s face showed wonder.
Jette grinned and winked, creating a beaming smile.
The shuttle docked at Port A first. Almost everyone disembarking. Last to go, the young girl reached the open shuttle door and smiled devilishly at Jette.
“I am your past and future, Jette,” the girl said. “We shall meet again because I desire it.”
The shuttle door hissed closed just as Jette hobbled to it. She looked inside the terminal through the car window, but the mother and daughter … had simply vanished.
High above the space garage which housed her faithful, old ship, Captain Jette Jones stiffly walked along the concourse surrounding Moonbase One’s Space Port B. Hartley was right, the engineers appeared to have done a fantastic job restoring the luster and shine to the Artemis. The rocketship had been through a lot over the last four years.
She dared not think about someone else commanding from the CM. She had made a fateful decision. And she was bound to it.
Lt. Kanivia Riesga hurried up to her, her brown ponytail swinging. She clutched the outstretched metal fingers with both hands.
“It’s great to see you, Skip. I have a buddy at the SRC med center. Sounds like pretty soon you’ll be out of that tin can!”
“Better than a pine box. I have you to thank for that.”
Kanivia shrugged with a smile then pointed out the bay window. “I kinda figured you’d want to look her over. Won’t be the same though. I’ll miss the smell of leaking dyone oil in the mess room.”
“Her next captain will have to deal with that.”
Kanivia frowned. “Yeah. Scuttlebutt gets around fast up here. I’m sorry, Skip.”
Jette half-shook her head. “No need. Maybe your next captain will let you keep a glushang.”
They both needed to laugh.
“So, what about you? Not putting in for first officer on the Artemis IV?”
“No, Sir.” Kanivia scrunched her face. “Wouldn’t feel right. Besides, being first officer for Captain Jette Jones pretty much gives me my pick of assignments. I’ve had offers.”
The ponytail tilted. “I’m gonna take my time. I’m usually in a rush to get back into space, but right now …” Her eyes dropped. “I still miss them.”
Jette nodded sadly. She missed them too.
Epsilon, K’wari and Flock were gone.
In the past …
The large crane had already detached the command module from the top of the Artemis III for maintenance in the space port behind them as Jette and K’wari walked toward the shuttle station.
The next shuttle left in five minutes, but K’wari’s pace had slowed, forcing Jette to stop and turn toward her.
“I have a ship ready to go, Jette. Odell is waiting for me.”
Jette tried to be upbeat. “Perhaps this is something that will just blow over and you’ll make it back in time before we head out again.”
“Few things ‘just blow over’ where vicars are involved. But I have faith. You taught me that.”
“At least you got something out of it,” Jette replied with a smile. “I couldn’t have asked for a better advisor, K’wari.”
“I also have faith that you will find the answers you seek all on your own, my dear friend.”
They had been together long enough to know that nothing more needed to be said. The Vicar of Yasu bowed, her crimson robe fanning out behind her, before turning abruptly and walking away.
First Epsilon, now K’wari. The crew complement of a Star Ranger Patrol vessel was five, sometimes six, or four without a medical officer. K’wari handled those duties, among her others. But four could do the job if it was the right four.
The captain of the Artemis III knew who she wanted.
Jette watched as K’wari approached the far end of the port’s hangar bay. As she reached the doors, she stopped. She looked up.
On the second level of the station, Johansen “Flock” Powers pressed her hands to the window as she looked down. The two women held a long, distant stare. K’wari was the first to break it, entering through the doors.
Johansen still hadn’t moved when Jette boarded the shuttle.
Meanwhile, in the bowels of a once-uninhabited planetoid on the outskirts of a lifeless solar system, an army is being assembled – their collective minds knowing only vengeance and obedience …
The hulking Diamond Warrior cracked his laserwhip, keeping the line in order. Aliens of all kinds shuffled slowly along – Kaudans, Xenfills, Earthlings and even some Dal’ Rogoceans not up to the standards of becoming Diamond Warriors themselves. Soon, they would be as devoted and controlled as their muscular, weak-minded brethren.
One by one, the aliens were stripped and entered the hundreds of brainwashing tubes that filled the slate and steel of the subterranean stronghold. In an hour’s time each would emerge, sweat-soaked and sexually overloaded. Their minds erased then refilled with the insidious programming – selfless soldiers under the command of the woman watching the hellish procession with unbridled glee.
Her eyes fixed upon one hapless male inside a tube – his eyes wide as if entranced by some faraway specter, his nipples fiery red, his jaw so slack it would not be a surprise to see it drop to the floor. He squirted himself onto the wall of the glass tube, his heavy breathing unable to contain a pitiful wail.
The sounds of pain and ecstasy filled the bathing chamber. Unlike the dark, spare environment of the underground encampment, this room was bright and excessive in its luxury. An alabaster toe gently turned the knob on the vidscreen, muting the cries of the brainwashed throng.
Her other foot dangled over the edge of the marble tub as it was kissed and licked and sucked by a naked woman so enthralled with her undertaking that she teetered on the brink of orgasm.
“Very good, slave,” said the bathing woman. “You may cum for me.”
The older, dark-haired woman wrapped her lips around the big toe and suckled as she climaxed. Her moans sending tickling pleasure up the redheaded woman’s leg.
“Dear Glamora. You may dry me now.”
Zeta, the erstwhile queen of Serpentarius, slowly stood in the tub, the horrors of what she had been watching already out of her memory. The sopping hairs of her pussy and her perfumed skin made Glamora’s mouth water again. Dutifully, she grabbed the towel from a pedestal and worshipfully caressed the body that dominated her.
Glamora was not subjected to the various methods of mind control the Goddess of Darkness had bestowed upon Zeta any longer. She was naturally submissive. She scarcely ever thought back to her days as a queen herself, ruling Serpens Kauda with a light hand. She was where she belonged.
Slave Glamora dried and dressed her queen, then waited patiently for the expected click as Zeta attached the leash to her collar. She nearly came again but had not been instructed. She knelt, then crawled as Zeta returned to her bedchamber.
A familiar face was waiting.
“Ahh, sweet Ryaki! I do hope you suffered no ill-effects from your imprisonment.”
Ryaki fell to her knees. “No, my queen, thank you. And thank you for having me rescued.”
“It was nothing.” Ryaki rose with a tap on her shoulder. “I have minions everywhere. And prisons are very fertile ground for adding new recruits to the cause.” Adding, under her breath, “Whether they want to be or not.”
“I am your servant.”
“Yes. I’m sure Queen Kalokairi will be thrilled to see you again.” Zeta’s laugh sent a chill down Ryaki’s back. Zeta reclined on a long divan, beckoning Ryaki to join her. “We have much to discuss. I’m sure Glamora will enjoy licking your ass while we make our plans.”
Ryaki saw the former queen shudder with delight as she unclasped her belt.
Orbiting high above the planet Serpens Caput, the majestic Te’ Sareez Space Station shines brightly from the gleaming light of Te’ Sareez’s twin suns. Inside, however, as the Suzerain Council meets for the first time since the failed coup by fugitive, deposed queen Zeta, the mood is anything but bright …
The three queens who made up the Suzerain Council ringed the large, circular table in their thronelike chairs. Each was surrounded by aides and officials, both seated and standing.
If there was a “head” to the table, it was occupied by Queen Diamanti of Serpens Caput, splendiferously attired in a white robe (which nearly glowed around her dark skin), gold bracelets and necklaces and topped with a magnificent eight-pointed crown. To her left, Queen Kalokairi of Serpens Soma, ever understated in a two-toned blue dress and a simple gold band upon her head. Lastly, across from her, was the new queen of Serpentarius, Ana, who had replaced Zeta, her younger sister, as the ruler of the beleaguered planet. She was dressed in gold and green, her sequined dress giving off the illusion of scales.
A fourth chair, of course, was missing. As was the Queen of Serpens Kauda, Glamora. She had not formally abdicated, yet her people knew who now was in charge. Sitting across from Queen Diamanti was General Marwan Geng, the commander of Kauda’s military. He wore a permanent scowl, accentuated by a long nose almost as sharp as the look in his eye.
“I don’t see how we have much choice,” the general said grimly. “Since we were forced to enact military law, there has been massive rioting and unrest. I’ve lost nearly half of my army to … whatever it was we lost them to. We barely have an operating government. Our need is dire, your Majesties.”
“Our situation is no less dire, General,” replied Kalokairi. “All of us are having to deal with the mayhem Zeta unleashed. The Sitren Valley, once the most peaceful place in all our world, has become a wasteland. Destroyed by the radicals who still believe Zeta should be Suzerain Supreme! The indignity!”
“At least you have a functioning society!” Geng caught himself and bowed his head. “Forgive me, Queen Kalokairi. I appreciate that this is a crisis for all of Te’ Sareez. Which makes it even more imperative that we show the people a united Council. You and Queen Ana have worked together. We know that Serpentarius too is on the brink of civil war. Despite her treachery, Queen … pardon me, Zeta held sway over many on Serpentarius.”
“Even to this day,” Queen Ana said quietly.
Queen Diamanti slowly raised her hand.
“As you all are aware, my people have known great hardship before. Now they face it again. As do your peoples.” She took a slow, calming breath. “If Soma and Serpentarius can continue to solve their problems together, there is hope. However, there will be no unity for any of us unless Kauda and Caput are joined under one rule. We can stop two civil wars, and hopefully prevent a third on Serpentarius. If all of us are of one mind.”
Diamanti’s eyes searched the table. All was silent. Kalokairi looked at Ana — nervously scratching at the sleeve of her dress — then to Diamanti, before nodding and lowering her eyes solemnly. General Geng nodded as well.
Diamanti stood, her back straight and strong.
“General, I accept your proposal. For the good of my people, and for all of yours, I accept the arrangement of marriage to Colonel Ander Til of the Kaudan Elite Army. May our union and the union of our two planets bring a new and lasting peace to Te’ Sareez.”
Ana winced. She looked down at her arm and saw red bleeding through her sleeve. As the dot of blood slowly grew, she began to moisten between her legs.
“Don’t make this more difficult than it needs to be.” The young blonde sighed in playful frustration. “It may not seem like fun now, but just wait until you are in there a while.”
The naked man could barely keep his eyes open. “Wha-what did you give me?”
“Oh, just something to soften you up. Don’t worry, you’ll be wiiiiiide awake soon.” She leveled the power pistol at him. He was slumped on the bed, his body shaking involuntarily. “You know, I had a girlfriend who really got into it. That was months ago. And you know what? Every night she still cums thinking about it.”
She bent over, touching noses, and put the pistol to his wheat-blond head. “Now … get inside.”
She pulled him up by the arm, and his cock sprang out like a jack-in-the-box.
“Ohhhh! Very nice, baby. We’ll take care of that! In you go.”
The young man staggered forward. He weakly tried to turn away, to escape, but the woman jabbed the power pistol into his back. “Easy does it.”
He stepped into the chassis and turned. His blue eyes squinted. The panels began to close.
The last thing he saw before the darkness was the girl’s wide smile.
The last thing he heard – before the Guardian Robot enveloped him — “You just relax. Hunni is gonna take gooooood care of you.”
Jette stood watching in the doorway to the gymnasium. The room was filled with cadets and new officers paired off for their judo exercises. The chiseled Ranger Marine sergeant blared out instructions, making his thick, silver moustache dance.
After a few minutes, Jette moved next to him and he nodded obediently, while keeping his eyes fixed on his charges.
Jette’s eyes were on one of the students. She posted her leg, rapidly rotating her hips and pulling hard. The young cadet flew past her and landed with a thud.
“Well done!” said the sergeant, stepping toward her. “Midshipman! There is someone here to see you.”
Midshipman Sewena Carpenter grinned. Her trim body, glistening with sweat, was toned and firm. She reached down and pulled the cadet to her feet. Grabbing a towel from the mat, she walked gracefully toward Jette.
“Captain Jones! I’m so happy to see you again.”
“I earned enough space hours serving on the Ceres, plus your recommendation, that I qualified as a post-cadet Space Ranger. I still have a lot to learn about the military, but it seems to come very naturally to me.”
Jette looked at her approvingly. “That’s good to hear. I’d like to take you away from all of this.”
“I have a commission open … on the Artemis. If you’re interested.”
Carpenter straightened. Her exquisitely round breasts and nipples pressed tightly in the spandex top did not avoid Jette’s eye. “You mean it? Yes, Sir. I am.”
“I’ve already started the paperwork. There’s an officers’ briefing with Commodore Veitch at HQ tomorrow. I expect you there.”
“Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir.” Then, as an afterthought, “I won’t let you down.”
Jette gave her a firm nod but could not hold back a smile.
“I know you won’t. Zero-seven hundred.”
Jette had just left the gym when a young, male officer chased her down.
“Excuse me, Captain Jones. Admiral Hartley wishes to see you at your earliest convenience.”
“Which means immediately.” The officer looked at her sheepishly. “Lead the way. There’s no time like the present.”
He was not restrained.
The drug Hunni had given him was beginning to wear off but he was so weak. He tried to lift his arms, trapped inside the Guardian Robot chassis, but even that effort was too much. He floated lifelessly in the dark.
He felt a jolt. Streams of energy began coursing through his body, like electric charges. He slammed his chin to his chest expecting to see sparks.
“You will obey,” came a woman’s voice. Was it inside the box or in his head?
“Let me … out,” he whispered hoarsely.
The surge of energy increased, making him suck in air. It wasn’t quite pain. The numbing sensation almost felt cold – very cold – as if his arms and legs were so frostbitten they could easily be broken off and he would scarcely notice.
“It is dark,” the voice said.
There were tones and hums in his brain. He couldn’t move his heavy head again to even try to shake them free.
“It is dark,” she said again.
He wasn’t sure … it grew even darker inside his metal prison. The tones and hums and shocking currents of energy bombarded his senses. He couldn’t think. There was only the darkness.
“It is dark,” he croaked out.
The sounds dissipated. The numbness left his body. The sudden change made him believe he was a bubble in a glass of water.
“You are weak.”
He wanted to scream, to say no! But he was so tired. Too tired to fight.
“I am weak.”
He gasped as a wave of pleasure flowed into him, from his toes to his ears. It grew in intensity.
“Yes. You are weak. You will obey.”
He felt his body stiffen, hanging in the air. The blissful feeling increased. He felt himself becoming engorged, ready to explode. His ears begged to hear the forceful woman’s voice refilling his mind. He begged to be told. Anything … to send him over the edge.
The vibrating tones thumped in his brain again. His body shuddered from the sudden freezing cold as the numbness returned. Even more powerfully than before. No …
“It is dark.”
“It is dark.”
“You are weak.”
“I am weak.”
“You will obey.”
He began crying.
He felt pain and tasted a trickle of blood on his lips. He had bitten into his tongue. More pain, as the surge of energy filled his veins and shot outward to his fingers. The numbing cold now unbearable heat. His helpless wails died inside his black tomb.
“You will obey.”
Unbearable! The head of his rigid cock was on fire. He felt flames from his fingers, the very hairs on his head smoldering. Bits and pieces of his brain melted and dropped away. A thousand burning fragments falling into a cavernous blackness.
“I will obey!” he screamed.
His body slowly cooled. There was silence. His thoughts now in scattered charred pieces around him. He was controlled. And mindless.
One by one, the woman’s voice placed new thoughts – of pleasure and obedience – into his empty head. Instructions, commands, orders.
She was strong. She was light.
“I will obey … I will obey … I will obey …”
The chassis opened and the young man stumbled forward. A woman was reclined on the bed. Hunni was gone. The dark-haired woman, much older than he, reached out with her hand, beckoning him onto the sheets. She was familiar and unfamiliar to him.
“Oh my!” Her voice oozed sex. It was not the same voice in the darkness that had strummed his mind. The sounds playing over and over, wearing a groove into the pink flesh of his brain, until he was no longer himself. He was weak. But he still knew to obey.
“You look positively … broken.”
His eyes were dull and glassy as they saw the woman spread her legs. The young man whimpered, his cock leaking copiously. She smiled and let him look, knowing it would only reinforce his programming. “Are you looking forward to being married?”
He stammered, starting and stopping several times, but no words came out.
“Oh, it’s quite alright, dear. The women of Ta’ Sareez fully expect their husbands to have some experience before entering into marital congress.” Her laugh was carefree. “Your bride-to-be won’t mind at all if you’ve been passed around a bit before you become hers forever. In fact, she might enjoy having a slutty little cock boy of her own. Arranged marriages don’t have to be all politics and no play.”
The young man tried desperately to conjure up the mental image of his bride-to-be. But his mind was pink mush, as soft and weak as his cock was hard and stiff. It was the only part of him that really mattered anyway. He knew that. He didn’t used to think that, but someone else was thinking for him now.
“On your knees.”
He obeyed instantly. The carpet felt wet on his legs from the droplets his leaking cock had made. The humiliation was exquisite foreplay.
“Crawl to me.”
He moved on hands and knees, his eager cock wagging back and forth. She laughed again and he felt the glorious shame in his balls. They pulsed and ached as he knelt before her.
“Your bride is going to expect a lot from her consort.” She reached into a pile of black straps lying on the bed beside her and drew out a long, supple piece of leather. “Any fool can use his prick or his hands to pleasure a woman. A man of Ta’ Sareez must be more than that. Your bride will expect your lips and tongue to serve her as well.”
She rose from the bed and stepped behind him. She drew his hands behind his back and fixed them together with one end of the lash. She then pulled his raging hard-on down and held it against his inner thigh. She leered lustfully as she wrapped the leather strap around his leg until his throbbing member was trapped.
“There now. We’ll see what sort of talent you have.” She sat back on the bed, parting her creamy thighs. This time his sharp inhale drew in a lungful of her scent and his glassy eyes nearly crossed from the heady aroma.
She hooked one ankle behind his neck and drew him forward. He moaned as she pulled him closer and closer. He could almost taste her already. He was hers. She wrapped the crook of her knee around his head and slammed his face into the slick folds of her sex. She felt his warm tongue part her lips and began to grind against it, forcing him into a powerful, savage rhythm.
He moaned but her swelling pussy muffled the sound, driving her to greater heights of friction and pleasure.
“Yessssssss!” she hissed as his tongue found the tempo her hard nub demanded. She began thrusting harder into the captive man’s face using all of him to ascend the mount of her glorious pleasure. She pushed his nose into the depths of her pink glory and held him there, forcing him to breathe in her deepest self, only releasing him when his body convulsed from lack of oxygen.
She used both hands to force him back to work between her thighs. His blond hair was matted with sweat and cum. “Oh, I didn’t realize how eager you’d be for some queenly treatment.” She was grinding into him, leaving shiny dew over his slack face.
She pushed him away, stood and stalked around him. His cock had left a stream of clear issue down his leg adding to the growing puddle in the carpet. “Yes, very eager indeed.”
She hooked her hands under his shoulders and pulled him up, walking him forward and tossing him onto the bed. He groaned as he fell into the soft fabric. She crawled above him like a stalking beast.
The raven-haired woman rolled him onto his back, pinning his bound wrists. In her hand was an ornate glass bottle. The liquid inside sloshed gently. She reached behind her and pulled away the tassels holding her top. It spilled open, her voluptuous breasts springing free.
She tossed the garment aside. “Care for some barozhia?”
His eyes were huge as he nodded.
She carefully poured the clear oil onto her breasts. Then she straddled him again, letting her anointed breasts dangle over his face. He was pulled into her cleavage as she wrapped her breasts around his face, working the perfumed oil deeply into his skin, his lips, his nose. The young man’s pitiful wail swallowed by her ample flesh. He reflexively drew a breath and the drugging substance flooded his nostrils and mouth. It leeched through his skin and numbed his brain.
She released him and looked into his eyes as the barozhia set off a thunderstorm of sexual desire in his crotch. “More!” she commanded and pulled his face into her slick breasts again. He moaned in despair and felt his limited thoughts liquify and leak out his trapped cock. Her knee found his inner thigh and began to rub circles on the head of his prick, driving him mad as she forced him to breathe in more and more of the oil.
The liquid on her cleavage had dried. She pulled back just long enough for him to take a panicked breath before poking her nipple into his mouth. His eyes rolled up into his head as he drank the remaining oil from her throbbing nub, suckling with abandon before she guided his hungry mouth to her other breast.
When he’d licked every bit of the barozhia from her skin, the woman placed her knees on either side of his head. “And now, little slut, you will show me how you serve a queen of Te’ Sareez.”
“Y-yesssss! Godssss yesssss,” he pleaded. “I serve and obey!”
Glamora, the wayward queen of Serpens Kauda, slammed down onto his face and silenced him. She thrust herself forward and back, yelping and barking at the divine friction. Training an obedient cock boy was a slow process and she was determined to make him a most adept pupil.
Glamora queened the young man until the last vestiges of his spirit were shattered.
Only then did she allow him to enter her.
Meanwhile, on the courier ship to Indora, K’wari’s situation gets even more complicated …
K’wari was already dressing when Odell awoke.
The younger vicar slowly got out of the bed and moved in front of her. She reached out with her hands.
“I know what you’re going to say. We shouldn’t have done it. And now you’re feeling guilty about it.”
K’wari smoothed out her robe before looking at her.
Odell stepped closer. “And I will say … it’s done. It happened. We made love for two days, K’wari.”
The guilt showed on K’wari’s face. “I have made an error of omission, Odell.”
“You mean about the woman you are in love with?” K’wari couldn’t fight the blush. “Don’t look so surprised, K’wari. I may be a vicar but I am also a woman. I can read you.”
“Then you know about Flock?”
Odell’s smile was resigned. She turned and reached for her garments.
“You underestimate your own powers, K’wari. You’ve spent so much time with Earthlings, teaching them what they don’t know about themselves. But you’ve never learned to do that for yourself. You allow yourself the pleasures then cheat yourself of them.”
“Being a vicar isn’t about personal reward, Odell.”
“Your accounts from your mission say otherwise.”
Odell straightened her robe casually and stood before K’wari again as if presenting herself.
“I’m not that same little girl you left behind, sister. I am a member of the Tribunal. I have harnessed the power bestowed upon me by the White Mother as her nemate. As you should have. You left her when she needed you most.”
“I’m here for her now.”
“Because you were told. By the Superior Mother.” She clutched K’wari’s hand. “You are in grave danger, K’wari. At least, now, allow yourself the frailties of intimacy. Without the guilt.
“I wanted this with you. I’ve wanted it ever since I was able. It was everything … almost everything, I had hoped for. I wanted to share all with you. But you couldn’t share your heart. I knew that the moment I set foot on the Artemis.”
“We’ll soon reach Indora,” K’wari said, stepping toward the door. Odell’s hand halted her.
“K’wari? Now is the time for you to find yourself, sister.”
K’wari sat quietly in the cockpit behind Odell as she piloted the courier ship into Indoran space. Looking out among the stars, she let her mind wander. Her thoughts no longer of Sha-shara … but of Flock.
“I’m pissed off at Epsilon.”
K’wari smiled, sadly and nodded. “It wasn’t how any of us wanted to see her leave.” [See Issue #14 – C&C]
Flock finished stepping into K’wari’s cabin on board the Artemis. Her eyes cast downward seeing K’wari folding clothes for her voyage. She was more subdued than K’wari was used to seeing. “But sometimes you just don’t know about people.” She sighed. “Enough about her. How are you doing? Good being back in your own body, I bet?”
“Yes, it is.” K’wari smiled she rolled up her undergarments and packed them into her travel case. “Although there were some perks to the other one.” She set her luggage aside and sat on the bed. “Would you like to talk about Epsilon?”
“No.” Flock shook her head as she stepped in front of K’wari.
“Do you want to talk about … us?”
“No.” Flock looked into K’wari’s dark eyes.
“Are you angry with me for leaving?”
Flock hesitated. “I’m angry. But not at you. You joined the Vicars, I joined the Star Rangers. Taking orders is part of the gig.”
“I don’t want this, Flock.” K’wari took a deep breath. “The Superior Mother of our Order has been scheming for a long time. She’s trying to use me to hurt my mentor. I have to deal with that instead of …” Flock sat down beside her. “Instead of being where I want to be.” She reached out and took Flock’s hand in hers. “Why did we just start to figure us out now?”
“Because fate’s a micro-dicked asshole,” Flock said grimly. “And he’s not done with us yet.”
“Are you going to be okay?”
Flock’s shoulders trembled. “No. I’m not. Actually, I think I’m pretty fucked up.”
K’wari studied her but remained silent.
“What happened with us … with Zeta. I’m not over it.” She scratched unconsciously at her ear. “I just can’t shake it. I don’t know why.” Flock thought of her recurring dream — serpent eyes in the dark of her cabin. “The only time it didn’t bother me was when I was down in that tunnel.” She interlocked her fingers with K’wari’s and gave them a squeeze. “With you.”
K’wari squeezed back. “What Zeta did to us was very traumatizing. Healing from it will take as long as it needs to and work however it needs to.” She rested her head on Flock’s shoulder. “You helped me too. What you said when Lindyr took control of me. What she did to me is nothing next to what you do to me.”
Flock shifted, forcing K’wari’s face to turn. “I don’t know if you know this, but I’m pretty much the best there is.” K’wari didn’t need to nod in reply. “So, where are you at with the Zeta stuff? Because I’m a mess.”
K’wari could feel Flock’s warmth, so close. “I’ve been using a number of meditation techniques to aid my healing. Maybe I could teach you before I leave?”
Flock leaned in and kissed K’wari’s neck. “Maybe we should do other stuff before you leave.”
The Vicar hummed, pleasure singing through the nerve endings under Flock’s lips. “I could teach you … in the morning.”
Flock kissed her deeply and gently steered her onto her back.
Jette could not believe what she’d just heard.
“Yes.” Admiral Hartley stood in front of Jette, her hands behind her back. “Evidently, the Suzerain Council feels the only way to prevent any more instability within the queendoms is to have Queen Diamanti marry a member of the Kaudan military. He’s of royal blood, I understand.”
Hartley gauged Jette’s reaction. She tried not to show any more emotion than she already had.
“Diamanti would rule both planets, but the males on both planets should be placated with a military man by her side. Apparently, Queen Kalokairi and Queen Ana have become quite close. I wouldn’t be surprised if Soma and Serpentarius came to a similar arrangement. From what I understand, Kalokairi is already the de facto ruler of Serpentarius anyway. It should unify the queendoms. There has been bloodshed and rebellion. On all four planets. And it’s escalating.”
Jette nodded absently. Hartley added, “The GSL endorses the move.”
Diamanti getting married? How was it possible? As Diamanti’s Vipera Berus, Jette had expected that when the day came, she would be her Chosen One. That decision, it seemed, had been taken out of her hands.
“I hadn’t heard that things had deteriorated so quickly, Admiral.”
Hartley retreated behind her desk.
“There’s more. Queen Diamanti has personally requested that you, Captain Jones, attend the ceremony. As a representative of the Star Ranger Corps. The GSL will also have representatives there. What do you say?”
Jette could feel her heart pounding in her chest.
“I … don’t think I have any choice but to accept, Sir.”
“The wedding is in nine days. You’ll blast off day after tomorrow. Any questions?”
“No, Sir. But I do have a crew change. The Vicar of Yasu has been recalled by the Order. You’ve read my report about Epsilon. I’ll need someone to co-pilot the Artemis with Lt. Riesga.”
“I’ll check the duty roster.”
“If you don’t mind, Admiral, I’ve taken the liberty …”
Hartley’s sigh was long. She had allowed Jette to pick her own crewmembers before. There was no reason to change now.
“Very well. Good luck, Captain.”
Indora’s moon was peeking over the Thurk Mountains and cast its light across the city of Yasukota. The pale-blue glow fell upon the window of an ancient stone spire whose blocks and seams had been worn smooth by time. The woman kneeling before the window was just the opposite — time had made the lines of her face deep and jagged.
Sha-shara was deep in meditation. Her thoughts wandering through themselves. Through her memories. They sailed upward and toward an opening in the tunnel of her mind. The White Mother’s soul slipped through and out of herself.
Sha-shara’s mind soared, leaving her body behind. She climbed through the clouds and watched the stars roll past overhead. She plunged into the earth and checked on the roots of the sprouts she’d been nurturing. And then she left all that behind. There was work to do.
She focused on a single point. For herself and for K’wari and for the Order. Sha-shara cast her mind into the vast openness and let her aim pull it along to what she needed to see.
Show me what Korella is plotting.
Images began to form in the mind’s eye of the White Mother.
“I am a member of the Tribunal, release me!”
Baras was being forcibly pulled down a stone passageway. He felt the air change and sensed they’d entered a larger space. “W-where are we?” The hood over his head was removed and Baras squinted as his eyes adjusted to the firelights.
The chamber was vast and had been carved out of a natural cavern. Baras could tell it was Thurk stone, but they could be deep underground or high in the mountains. There was no way to tell.
Strange sights and sounds assaulted his senses. Torches placed throughout the chamber revealed an assembly at the far end. A dozen or so Vicars sat on a large woven rug that covered the stone floor. There were other figures in the shadows on the periphery, watching the seated ones carefully. Several played instruments, drums and a Neth flute, and the figures on the carpet swayed gently to the rhythm.
An unusual scent drew Baras’ attention to a large, bubbling cauldron. A shirtless man wearing a filter mask stirred it with a wooden staff, while a masked woman waited nearby holding a stack of stone bowls.
“At last, our new adept has arrived.” Baras was led to the rug as the speaker stepped out of the shadows.
“Ranna?” Baras shook his head. “What are you doing? What is this place?”
The Superior Mother’s nemate drew back her cloak and let her blonde hair spill free. “A retreat. A sacred cavern where the faithful may find focus and where the confused find the respite they need to rediscover their faith. Join us.”
Baras was pushed down beside a young woman with a shaved head. He realized all the ‘adepts’ had been groomed in the same fashion. “I don’t know what you think you’re doing but …” He trailed off at the sound of grinding stone.
The entrance he’d been led through was being sealed up with a great wheel of stone rolled into place by four people. It crunched into an indentation in the stone floor with an echoing thud.
Baras’ eyes went wide. “This is madness, Ranna! You cannot hold me here against my will!”
She smiled and cocked her head. “But your will is the problem, Baras. Like many within the Order you have strayed from the Codex. You have come to hold yourself above the teachings of Yasu. We’re going to help you find the path again, brother.”
“This is outrageous! I am a Vicar of Yasu, a member of the Tribunal, same as you! We do not abduct people!”
He moved to stand but felt a blunt object pressing at his back. He yelped as a rayff staff discharged a stun shock into his body and sent him toppling forward.
“I know it seems that way now, brother, many of the pupils here said the same when they arrived. But they have all come to gladly accept the invitation of the Crimson Circle.”
Baras regained his senses and lifted his head. “The Crimson Circle? It was outlawed and disbanded hundreds of years ago.”
“Yes.” Ranna nodded solemnly. “Just one of the many mistakes our great Order has made in its past. But the Circle was not broken. It endured in secret. Keeping the sacred truths and watching the watchers.”
Baras shook his head in disbelief. “The Circle tried to overthrow the Order and seize power for themselves! They were fundamentalist zealots who wanted to rule the galaxy! They HAD to be defeated.”
“And tell me,” Ranna tutted, “is the galaxy better off for it? Did defeating the Crimson Circle feed the hungry or depose the corrupt or bring justice to the deprived? Yasu’s first maxim was ‘let me help’.”
Baras straightened but did not try to stand again. “That’s one translation. ‘Let me help’ is a command. Yasu’s first maxim is ‘may I help?’ No one is aided by denying them consent.”
Ranna smiled. “I look forward to proving you wrong in the coming weeks.”
“The ritual of initiation takes time and requires much effort. But, if you still feel the same once you have completed the trials, you will be free to go and honor Yasu however you like. But, we can discuss this later. Now you must eat.” She clapped her hands and the figures in masks moved among the seated pupils distributing stone bowls full of broth from the cauldron.
As Ranna turned away, Baras tested it with a small sip. It was sickly sweet but with a strong spice that left a strange aftertaste. He spat it back into the bowl.
“You must eat,” the woman beside him whispered urgently. She kept her head down, her eyes fixed on her own bowl.
“It’s been drugged,” Baras whispered back.
“The work is hard and they will not feed us again for a day or more. You will need your strength if you’re going to resist.”
Baras reluctantly took another sip. “Resist what?”
“Quiet. You will find out soon.”
Baras sipped in silence, not letting himself drain more than half the bowl. He played at eating while the others finished. Then the bowls were collected. The droning music echoed off the stone walls.
Baras found himself rocking gently in the melodic breeze, trying to make sense of his thoughts and this bizarre circumstance. “What is your name? Where did you … oooooohhhh.” He turned toward the woman a bit too quickly, and felt a wave of sensation flow through him. His vision blurred. The torchlight of the cave flickered in streaks.
He waited for the nausea that followed vertigo but, instead, felt the most pleasant tingling. It started at the base of his neck and flowed down. Warm, sweet honey flowed through his body and then he felt the tingling, much stronger, in his loins.
“Resist … thisssss,” the woman slurred, “if you can.” Her head rocked on her shoulders. “If you can focus. You can.”
“Can … what?”
“Let us begin.” Ranna moved to the center of the room, her feet staying along the edge of the rug. She held a thick piece of fabric covering something behind her. She pulled it free, revealing a large bronze plate etched with symbols. She took up a wooden stick fitted with a soft bulb on one side. “What purpose does ego serve?”
She struck the bronze plate and it gonged deeply. The sound reverberated through the chamber, the inside of Baras’ head and his cock surged suddenly to life. The woman beside him gasped and planted her hands flat on the floor beside her. The struggle not to let them wander inside her garments was obvious.
Most of the group chanted as one: “Ego serves no purpose. I must serve a higher purpose than myself.”
The woman mouthed the words, then said, “Focusssss,” under her breath.
“What must become of ego?” Ranna asked the group. She struck the gong a second time and Baras’ prick quivered in his pants, straining against the fabric. He moaned as quietly as he could. The woman’s hands clenched into fists.
“Ego must be replaced with service.” The group intoned. Many were beginning to shed their garments and there were wet sounds of skin on skin joining the rhythm of the constant music. Baras fought with all his discipline not to release his aching member and stroke.
“There are many things you will come to serve.” Ranna raised the hammer and prepared to strike the bronze plate a third time. “What is the first thing you must serve?”
“Pleasure!” The group cried as one.
“Pleasure …” Baras’ neighbor mewled. He realized only one of her hands was pressed to the floor.
Ranna struck the gong a third time.
Baras’ prick throbbed, then blasted warm semen into his pants.
Sha-shara eyes shot open, her mind back within her body once more. She moved to stand. It was increasingly difficult to unfold her legs beneath her. She leaned on her rayff to pull herself up. She moved to her worktable and opened a box on her memory shelf. She took out a small, round device.
She pressed the button on it. “Baras. Respond.”
Immediately, the White Mother knew what she had seen was not the future, as she’d hoped, but the present.
“Baras. Respond please.”
She didn’t wait for an answer before she strode as quickly as her body would allow out the door of her living space.
“Colonel Ander Til, your Majesties.”
A young man entered the Suzerain Council chambers dressed smartly in the powder-blue uniform of a Kaudan officer. A Guardian Robot followed him inside but halted by the door. The three queens were seated in a row, elevated and away from the circular table which was now filled with those tasked with carrying out the dictates of the queens of Te’ Sareez.
The officer’s face was pale, almost pasty, and his blue eyes appeared glassy and distant. However, when he snapped to attention before the three queens, the color returned to his face, his eyes cleared, his shoulders squared.
“At your service, Majesties.”
His blond head turned toward Diamanti and smiled a handsome smile.
“It has been a long time, Queen Diamanti. I trust you are well?”
Diamanti nodded formally.
Kalokairi looked at her. “Have you met before?”
“Yes,” Diamanti said softly. “As children. My family used to take their holidays on Kauda. Colonel Til’s family was part of the entourage that accompanied us. His father was a member of the royal family.”
She looked at the young officer with sadness. “I am grieved to hear of his passing, Ander.”
“Thank you, Sovereign.”
“So Glamora is …”
Til bowed his head slightly toward Kalokairi. “My aunt, your Majesty.”
Kalokairi nodded with surprise. She rose. “I believe it is time for you both to get reacquainted. Queen Ana?”
As the two queens left the chambers, Kalokairi waved off her aides, then steered Ana toward an empty alcove along the corridor of the space station’s concourse.
Her lips were on Ana’s immediately.
“I could barely contain myself, my love,” she said in a breathy whisper. “Come to my bedchamber this evening. My guards will be discreet.”
Ana kissed her back, a tongue snaking into her mouth. “Yes, Kalokairi. I hope to have a pleasant surprise for you.”
“A surprise? I love surprises.”
Ana hurried to her own lavish queenly quarters. There were no guards.
She unzipped her dress as she walked into the bedroom, pulling down her sleeves. She ran her hand along the open wound on her arm. She looked at it hungrily.
She opened a drawer and placed a small video unit beside the bed and climbed onto it. As she lay back, she pulled at the hem of her dress and let it slip to the floor. She opened her legs, her hands spreading the supple, pink cheeks of her ass.
She held her breath, waiting.
A tongue, then eyes, then a head emerged from the opening. The serpent slithered out, coiling its gold-and-green body around her leg. It licked at the flesh with its forked tongue before burying its fangs deeply into her thigh.
Ana gasped in lustful surrender, rubbing herself furiously until a venom-soaked climax came.
“You have done well, sister.”
The voice coated her senses. Her head turned toward the small table as the vidscreen winked on. Zeta’s face was animated with delicious wickedness.
“I knew you wouldn’t be able to fend off your addictions so easily. Your weakness has always been my strength. You will rule Serpentarius as I rule you.
“The queendoms shall be unified — unified under Zeta. The Suzerain Supreme!”
Ana climaxed again as the venom surged through her body and clouded her mind.
She was ready for new instructions.
Elexa Dyne rolled out of bed. She snatched her glass of sparkling wine off the nightstand and crossed the room. She looked out, through the 15-foot-high and 30-foot-wide window, upon serene, dark-green hills. Far enough away from the city to forget, just for now.
She turned away as she sipped. A bright, orange flash caught her eye. Her shoulders slumped. She picked up the blinking lipstick case, almost wishing it wasn’t there. She spun on her bare feet and pinched the exposed toes at the foot of the bed.
“Time to go, Princess. Duty calls.”
The two bodies tossed for a minute before getting up. Elexa waited patiently, sipping and leaning against the arm of her sofa. The voluptuous, short-haired bluehead was the first to dress. Adding a thick belt with two formidable sidearms last. She stood by the door.
The brunette, smaller and younger, tip-toed to Elexa and kissed her cheek sweetly.
“Thank you, Elexa. Maybe we can do this again. Soon.”
“Maybe. Right now, you need to get back. And I have business.”
The young woman smiled and frowned, then headed toward the door. The bluehead opened and closed it without once looking at Elexa.
Elexa tapped a button on the case.
“Where are you?” A man’s voice boomed over the tiny speaker.
“A party. Your timing is lousy.”
“Why aren’t you tracking the subject?”
Elexa sipped casually again. “She’s off collecting rocks or something. It’s fine.”
“It’s more than that,” responded the voice. “Anyway, now she’s on her way to Te’ Sareez. We want you to go there.”
Elexa put down her glass, brushing away stray yellow locks from her face. “To Te’ Sareez? Kauda, I hope. At least they know how to have a good time.”
“Kauda is in the middle of a revolution,” the man said. “All four planets are unstable. We need you to keep tabs on the subject.”
“Can’t you boys do anything for yourselves?” Elexa smiled as she said it, imagining her contact’s face turning red. “Besides, she can handle herself.”
“We can’t be involved. Not yet, anyway. Leave immediately.”
Elexa glared at the case. “I don’t take orders from you. Remember that.” She exhaled hard. “But I don’t have anything to do this weekend. I’ll look her up.”
“Do it quickly.” The paused response over the comm made Elexa flush. “There may not be anything left when you get there. Out.”
Elexa Dyne lifted her glass again, but it was suddenly unappealing. She shook her head.
“Jette Fucking Jones.”
To be continued …