Friday, October 18, 2019

Family Affair

Family Affair
Mark A Davis
308


"When I was a child," said Eve Jaskulski, new member of the Society of Intergalactic Space Babes, "I read comics and pulp fiction about Dr. Thomas Nova, his son Elias Nova, and the whole Nova family.  I dreamed about adventures in space.  I was going to travel the stars, and sleep with an alien space babe.  That's why I joined the space babes, you know."  She fidgeted in her ball gown -- a peach-colored dress of satin and chiffon with a full skirt to rival that of any Disney princess.  "I didn't expect my first assignment to transfer me back to earth."

"Oola, I comprehend," replied her companion Muriel, a green-skinned alien with blue hair.  She wore a ball gown of deep blue, with a laced bodice and laced sleeves.  "Earth never have I have been.  An exciting adventure, for me, it is."

Eve shook her green hair.  "I mean, if I knew I was just going to orbit earth, I wouldn't have agreed to become a girl!" Eve exclaimed.  The two were seated in the forward compartment of the ship, in fur-covered bucket seats, staring out a simulated view screen at starry space.

"Oola, to be female, a bad thing it is?" asked Muriel.  "Human you were to begin with, at least.  Human I was not."

Muriel was a Jangathau -- a race of amphibious aliens.  They were humanoid, but very tall and thin.  The space babes, however, had a body template and everyone who joined was transformed to match it.  Body shaping was much easier than providing uniforms in multiple sizes.

"Yes, but," Eve said, "they invited my family to meet us at the station!  You know, I wasn't going to tell them that I'd become a girl -- at lest, not right away.  Now I'm having dinner with them on my first assignment!  And in a princess dress, no less!  Talk about embarrassing!"

"For this meeting to wear our gowns, instructed we were," said Muriel.  "From a client very important they were.  Rewards they were.  Holovids of us he requests.  Oola, this you can recall?"

"I know our assignment..." Eve began, when an alarm began to sound.  A pleasant female voice spoke.

"Greetings, Eve the Explorer and Muriel the Jangathau.  I am Valerie 9000, in contact with you from S.I.S.B. Space Station Terra.  You are entering the Sol system.  I regret to inform you that, due to an unforseen gateway breach, the station has been overrun with hostile spider xenomorphs.  The station's S.I.S.B. crew are dead, and Miss Eve's family has been captured.  Please prepare to recapture the station -- full force is authorized."

Muriel frowned.  "Oola!  Spider?  Meaning of this word is?" she asked.


***


A klaxxon blared.  Red emergency lights flashed.  The lighting was dim, but everywhere you looked you saw sticky webbing -- clinging to the walls, hanging from the ceilings, strung between chairs and work surfaces and across vid screens.  As a small holovid drone hovered overhead, recording their every move, Eve and Muriel moved forward slowly, each cradling a laser carbine.  An acrid musk hung in the air -- the entire station reeked of it.

There came a scuttling ahead.  Hairy segmented legs moved quickly, black and covered with fine purple hairs.  Eve blasted the arachnid with laser fire.  It squealed like a chew toy.  Black ichor splattered over Eve and her peach gown, now ripped and torn and stained with blood and ash.  The same covered her arms and face, and webs wrapped about her tangled hair.

"I am not having a good time!" Eve screamed.  She charged into the room spraying laser fire.  Two more of the creatures -- each as large as a sheep -- splattered gore.  Webbing flared to life and burned quickly, like fireworks.

"Eve's family is in the next room," came the voice of Valerie 9000.  "Try not to set the webbing on fire.  It consumes oxygen."

"Decision have I come to," said Muriel.  "Things called spiders, I do not like!"

From the darkened doorway into the next room, a spider scuttled, larger than the others.  It knocked Muriel's rifle aside, snatched her up, and bit her in two.

"Muriel!" Eve cried out.  She blasted the creature, splattering its innards against the wall.  But it was too late -- her companion lay dead.

Eve did not have time to mourn.  Two more spider creatures appeared.  These she blasted as well, then moved into the next room.  Here she found three suspicious shapes -- large bundles wrapped in many layers of of silk, like three human-sized cocoons.  She could guess what lay within.

She locked the door to the room, drew a sonic knife and began to slash at the thread.  "Valerie," she said, "What's the rebirth status of Muriel and the station crew?"

"I apologize," Val 9000 replied, "but rebirths will not be available for approximately four days."

Eve frowned.  "What?  Why?" she asked.  "I thought they were virtually instant!"

"Agents Julia and Iqma have already received ten rebirths each," said the computer.  "In their fight against the xenomorphs, they sacrificed themselves over and over, until there were no more clone bodies available.  Four days is the minimum time required to force-grow a new clone."

Eve had noticed where they were -- the outer room of the rebirth center.  She saw through a doorway into an inner room, where glass and steel tubes filled with green water glowed faintly in the dim light.  This was the the part of the station that they most needed to protect -- otherwise, none of them would be coming back to life, at least not anywhere near earth.

"In anticipation of your next question," said the computer A.I., "yes, we did have clone bodies prepared for both you and Muriel.  However, given the emergency, Julia and Iqma used those bodies as well."

"Do you mean... there are multiple corpses of Muriel and myself on this station?" asked Eve.  The very idea made her pause.

"That is correct," the A.I. replied.

Again Eve sliced through web.  She could see cloth now -- army green.  "But I thought... I mean I don't really know, but..." said Eve, "doesn't rebirth take about half hour?  When they altered me...."

"Sculpting an existing body is much quicker than growing a clone body from scratch," the computer said.  "I am sorry, but for the moment you are the only operative on the station.  Reinforcements are on the way, but their arrival is estimated at twenty-one hours."

"We don't have time to wait," said Eve.  "What about heroes from earth?"

By now she'd revealed the person within the cocoon -- a woman dressed in strange military garb.  There was a green army jacket, paired with a brown leather skirt, woolen socks, army boots.  There were twin guns, holstered, and a strap across the chest carrying six grenades.  The outfit confused Eve, but when she uncovered the face, she saw it was her mother, Ula Jaskulski.

Her mother opened her eyes.  She stared into Eve's face for a moment, then comprehension dawned.  "Evander?" she asked.  "Is that you?"

"Yes, Mom.  It's me.  Only it's Eve now," Eve said.  "Let's get you out of this mess."

"Why is your hair green?" her mother asked.

"It's..." Eve said, "like Sally Stardust, you know.  In the comics...."

As she pulled her mother from the webbing, Valerie 9000 said, "I have been unable to contact any existing superhero organizations.  I have tried the Archons of Excellence, the New League of Two-Fisted Justice, the Black Moon Maidens, even the Daughters of Anarchy.  None are available to respond at present.  If the situation changes, I will alert you."

"My goodness," Eve's mother said.  "Look at you!  You're beautiful!"

Eve rolled her eyes.  "Mom, I'm covered in blood, webbing, and spider goo...."

"Eve is a perfect name for you," her mother said.  "I named you after your grandmother Evalynn.  But look at you!  You're wrong -- a mother can see through the dirt and grime to the beauty underneath.  You are my daughter, and you are beautiful!"

Eve's face flushed red.  She turned and began slashing at the second cocoon.  She wasn't sure what response she'd expected to her transformation, but this wasn't it.

The second cocoon revealed a young girl in her early teens, who looked remarkably like Eve.  She was dressed in one of the space babe silver bikinis, but she didn't have the curves to fill it out properly.

"Kasandra!" Eve exclaimed.

Again she got a blank stare, followed by recognition.  The girl took in the full picture -- despite the torn dress and blood and gore, Eve sported the curvaceous figure that was the space babe template.  Her sister's face filled with sudden fury.

"My brother is a green-haired space bimbo!" she exclaimed.

"It's space babe," Eve replied.  She hadn't expected this either.  In her mind she had expected support from her sister, but resistance from her mother.

"Where did you get that dress?" her sister demanded.  "The bimbo bikini isn't good enough for you?  What are you trying to prove?  Why is your hair green?"

Eve turned to slash open the third cocoon.  "It'd take too long to explain," she said.  "Right now we're trapped on a space station with alien spiders, and I'm the only one left to stop them.  And it's my first day on the job!"

Eve frowned as her grandfather Marian Jaskulski was revealed.

What was grandfather wearing?  As she pulled the threads away, a strange spandex outfit of orange and brown was revealed.  There was an oxen head on the chest, and a strange helmet with oxen horns.  Grandpa opened his eyes and grinned.

"Aniolek!" he exclaimed, hugging her with his one free hand.  "My little angel!  You make a beautiful girl!  Grandmother would be so proud!"

"She... would?"  Every reaction surprised Eve.

"Yes, yes, of course she would!" he said.  Then he added,  "But green hair?  Really?  Here, help me out, help me out, Aniolek."  As Eve freed him from the silk, he said, "Why, your grandmother almost joined the space babes herself!  Did I never tell you?"

Eve's eyes widened.  "She did?  I mean, she almost did?  Is that true?"

"Yes, yes!  When she was seventeen!"  He grinned like a happy dog.  "I was Orange Ox Boy back then, in 1969.  See my uniform?"  He stood and spread his hands.  "I was Grandpa Anarchy's sidekick, and your grandmother was his previous sidekick.  Shrapnel Girl!  A uniform just like Ula is wearing!  She was going to join the space babes -- but I proposed!  We both quit the hero business and got married!"

Eve was staring in wonder.  "Why are you all dressed like this?" she asked.

"We wanted to welcome home our little soldier!" Grandpa exclaimed.  "We're all very proud of you.  Joining the Space Babes -- it's quite a brave thing that you do!  We were heroes once, so we wanted to celebrate your heroism!"

"And no sooner do we arrive," said her mother, "then we're attacked by alien spiders!  Isn't this exciting?"

"Exciting?" Eve exclaimed.  "Mom, people are dying!"

"Death is  temporary in the space babes," she said.  "Surely they taught you that much, at least?"

"The good guys always win, in the end!" her grandfather asserted.

Eve just shook her head.  She hefted her laser carbine.  "Look," she said, "I'm going out.  Someone has to try and clear this station of xenomorphs.  Lock the door behind me.  If I die, I'll be reborn from a clone in four days, but help should arrive in twenty hours.  Don't do anything stupid."

"Aniolek," said her grandfather, "why don't you wait here with us?  If it's only twenty hours...."

"Because," Eve said, "I'm a member of the Space Babes.  This is what we do."

Tears welled up in her sister Kasandra's eyes.  "It's not fair," she cried.  "Why does my older sister get to be so cool?  I want to be a beautiful heroine.  Why couldn't I be a space babe?"

"You're too young," Eve said.  "And first, you'd have to be a sidekick to Grandpa Anarchy...."

She unlocked the doorway and stepped out into the hall, weapon at the ready.


***


Eve opened her eyes.  The light was bright.  She was floating in warm, green liquid.

She blinked.  Rebirth?  She must have died....

"Welcome back to the land of the living, Eve  Jaskulski," said Valerie 9000.  "Otherwise known as Eve the Explorer.  You have been dead for four days."

"The spiders?" Eve asked.

"All gone," said the A.I.

"My family?"

"Everyone is safe, 'Val 9000 said.  "They've been helping to clean the station...."

Eve found the locker containing dozens upon dozens of space babe uniforms -- silver bikinis, go-go boots, and belts with holsters.  She dressed quickly.

"Thank goodness for the reinforcements," Eve said.

There was a light laugh from the doorway.  A familiar girl strode in -- Muriel, Eve's partner.  "Oola, Eve!  Reinforcements, sent they were," she said.  "Jennie Nova, Llahna the Arellian, Quantum Uncertainty Girl, Vanellope -- best among the space babes they are.  Before their arrival, dead these spiders were."

"Really?" Eve said.  "I killed them all?"

Muriel laughed.  "Kill them you did not.  Dead you were.  Three others, It was...."

Another space babe strode into the room.  She had long auburn hair like Eve.  She placed a hand on her hip and winked.  It took a second for the face to register, and then Eve exclaimed, "Mom?"

"In the flesh!" the girl exclaimed.  "And very sexy flesh at that, if I do say so myself!  After all, if they can transform my son into a sexy young girl, then why not me?  I was Grandpa's sidekick one upon a time too.  Shrapnel Girl II, following in the steps of my mother!"

Eve's eyes bugged out.  She'd been worried about what her mother would think of her as a sexy girl, yet she was totally unprepared for her mother to become the same.

Another space babe entered, also with auburn hair.  She looked almost exactly like Eve.  "Hey Sis!" she said.  "How do I look?"

"Kasandra?" Eve said in a hoarse voice.  "You joined the space babes too?  But you were never a sidekick...."

"Technically I was," she said, "for about ten seconds.  Val 9000 arranged it -- signed me up with the Temporary Superfriends as Shrapnel Girl III, transferred me to Grandpa Anarchy's employ, then immediately made me a space babe.  Of course, the actual space babification took a bit longer... about thirty minutes...."

"See, we had to fight off them spider aliens," said a third newcomer.   Another girl strode into the room.  She looked familiar, similar to the others, yet Eve could swear they'd never met.  She also had pink hair.

"You were so brave, rushing out to face them critters alone," the newcomer said.  "We all decided that the least we could do was follow your lead.  And after all, I was Grandpa Anarchy's sidekick once, too!"  She stuck her chest out and added, "how do I look, Aniolek?  Like the hair?  What's good for the goose is good for the gander, eh?"  She laughed, as Eve's eyes continued to bug out.

"Grandfather?" Eve exclaimed.

"As Ula said, in the flesh," the pink-haired girl replied, grinning.  "Very sexy flesh as well, no?  I feel completely reborn!  But please, call me Mariana."

Eve remained open-mouthed.  "Of course," Marianna said, "it was only meant to be temporary -- just long enough to clear the station of spiders.  But Ula and I got to talking.  We all have dreams of adventure that were never fulfilled.  Evalynn is gone, your father is gone -- you kids are mostly grown.  What's to stop us from joining the Space Babes?  As for your sister, what better education can she get than out in space?  We all signed up for the initial three-year tour."

She laughed and added, "I think it's exactly what Evalynn would have wanted."


***


Eve watched the ship depart.  Her face was sullen, almost angry.

"So soon your family gone, you are sorry to see?" Muriel asked.

"It's not that," Eve said.  "Truth be told, it's easier to not have the three of them around.  I can't deal with a kid sister, my mother, and my grandfather of all people being sexy sixteen-year-olds.  I thought they would chastise me or berate me for being like this -- I never thought they'd join me!"

She sighed and added, "No, the problem is that I joined up to explore the galaxy, and what do I get?  One year stuck on a station orbiting earth, while my family gets to travel the galaxy.  It's really not fair!"


FINI

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Eve the Explorer

Eve the Explorer
Mark A Davis
297

A blue gorilla blew into a strange, twisting tuba, the sort that might have been imagined by Dr. Suess.  A tentacled elephant pressed buttons on some sort of accordion.  A strange, gelatinous creature tapped on a kind of xylophone, while a tall, thin being with lavender skin drew a bow across an instrument that resembled four violins and an oboe fused together.

Ethereal music played -- that of an alien orchestra with instruments that chimed and hummed and whistled and buzzed in a manner most unlike those of earth.  The resulting sound was quite pleasant, however, and clearly designed for a ballroom -- and indeed, humans and aliens alike were spinning and gliding across the dance floor.  At one end of the dance floor were the stairs from which they'd descended after being introduced, while at the other end was a raised dais upon which sat the king and queen and royal prince of this planet.  It was just like a scene from an animated Disney movie, save that some of the dancers had green skin, chitinous armor and/or tentacles.  In point of fact the queen, king, and prince resembled violet frogs.

Eve Jaskulski twirled about, green hair trailing.  She and Grandpa Anarchy danced.  Grandpa was dressed in a sharp black tux, while his dance partner wore a gown of silver and pale blue with a full gown, which billowed as she was spun and swept about.  Scenes of a countryside filled with blue grass and blue trees played across the voluminous skirt, as if it were a movie theater screen.

Until a recent encounter with a biblically-minded shaggy god, Eve had been a boy named Evander.

"You look different," Grandpa said.

"They... altered me," she replied.  "Made me shorter and curvier.  Gave me a cuter face, too, and fuller hair.  They call it babe-ification.  Of course, the green hair was my idea -- just like Sally Stardust, you know.  But the Space Babes have certain size and shape requirements.  All of their clothing -- even these gowns -- are the same size.  Our clothing is interchangeable."

She nodded to a girl with green skin and blue hair standing against a back wall.  "Muriel there, for example.  She was tall and thin as a rail before she joined -- most of her race are.  Now she and I have nearly identical measurements.  And Lucci, the one with red hair, dancing with the Thoranian Ambassador?  She was an overweight guy, and now she fits that gown like she was born to wear it.

"Speaking of which, can I just say that I hate wearing a gown?" she added as they drew close.  "Especially one that doubles as a docudrama."

"Yet for two days you've pranced about in a silver bikini," said Grandpa, "and you didn't complain about that."

"A bikini allows for freedom of movement," the young woman replied.  "In this outfit I feel like I'll trip and fall at any moment.  If there weren't a reason for us doing this...."

"Well you look lovely," said Grandpa Anarchy.  "Of course, you do realize that the Eieio (pronounced Ee-Yow) Empire's 5E division can change you back to your old male self at any time.  You can go back to being my sidekick Evander the Explorer -- for a fee."

"Not if I sign a three-year contract, I can't," said the girl.  "For now I'm a temporary member of the Society of Intergalactic Space Babes, and all of them are female -- or at least, appear to be female."

Grandpa nodded, well aware that one of the most famous members of the S.I.S.B. was Llahna, an alien girl who looked anatomically identical to a human female, but was technically a male of her species.  To everyone concerned, however, she was a she.

"I'm surprised they would let you join," said Grandpa, "seeing as how you're not really a girl."

"That's all you know," his dance partner replied.  "Right now I'm as female as any natural-born girl.  Furthermore, nearly one-third of S.I.S.B. members were male before joining, did you know that?  That's 31% of new S.I.S.B. recruits!  And why not, after all?  Throughout the Eieio (pronounced Ee-Yow) Empire, changing your gender is like flipping a switch!  All it takes is money -- but the government pays if you join the S.I.S.B."

Grandpa Anarchy spun her about to the music.  "Yes, well, that might make sense to native-born members of the empire, but as I recall, you were decidedly not interested in being female at first.  You freaked out."

"It was too sudden," she said.  "I was in shock -- and that shaggy god wanted to make me the mother of a new race of people.  With you.  I mean, most girls would balk at being forced into that, let alone boys.  But my dream as a child was always to explore the galaxy like a Buck Rogers or a Dr. Thomas Nova -- and now I get the chance to do it as a member of the Space Babes.  Why, I'm even working with the granddaughter of Dr. Nova herself!  If I have to wear a silver bikini then so be it!"

"So you're going to sign the contract?" asked Grandpa.

"Maybe."  She tripped on her gown and stumbled.  Grandpa grabbed her by the waist to steady her.  "Curse this gown!" she swore.  "After tonight, I never want to wear another ever again!"

"You know," said Grandpa, "I hear the Space Babes attend balls like this every month."

They settled back into the dance.  "I know," Eve said.  "Quite apart from being excellent bodyguards, we're considered among the most beautiful young women in known space -- and that's not just hype, every Space Babe is young and beautiful, because the government pays for whatever youth and beauty enhancements we require.  It's the goal of many a spaceman -- or spacewoman! -- to marry a Space Babe.  We often escort important political figures and even royalty.   Joining the Space Babes is a good way to marry into money and power, to climb socially."

"Even for boys?" asked Grandpa.

 "Even for boys, yes," she said. "Especially for boys, I think. Of course, men and women can do well in the space marines , and it's not unheard of for exceptional marines to marry into wealth and power -- but even in an empire of a thousand races, where everyone can be genetically engineered, it's amazing how many consider the space babes the pinnacle of beauty. There's a certain mystique with the organization. It's actually quite an honor that they've asked me to join."

"Become a sexy half-naked bimbo and marry into power, then?" Grandpa asked. "Somehow I expect more from an advanced alien civilization -- even if they are at least 30% human."

"We're not bimbos!" Eve retorted. "Some of the empire's best scientists are members of the space babes!"

"Somehow," said Grandpa Anarchy, "the idea that leading scientists are parading around in silver bikinis does not change my mind about the sexism inherent in this organization. I've always wondered where's the beefcake division?"

"The Interstellar Fraternity of Bunny Boys..." Eve began.

"I'm being rhetorical!" Grandpa Anarchy snapped. "I mean, I know Major Tom Nova personally. Great guy, but not exactly the person whose ideas I would use to model an entire military branch of an interstellar empire. When it was just his wife and daughter and her friend, it was cute maybe. But then they added more people, and it became an enforcement arm of the 5E, and...." Grandpa Anarchy shrugged. "Anyway, the Space Babes exist, I've known about them for years, it's not apparently going to change, so that's neither here nor there.

"What interests me is that you keep saying we," Grandpa noted.  "It seems you've already made up your mind."

"I..." Eve began, then stumbled again.  "Darn these stupid heels!" she swore.  "I think I would have signed already, if it weren't for...."  She indicated the ball gown.  "This!"

"Well," said Grandpa, "it's only three years, and you can switch back when you're done.  Unless you decide to marry a Prince or Princess or whatever....."

The music was of a sudden drowned out by laser fire.  Several large creatures with wide mouths and white, blubbery bodies, like walking beluga whales in fancy suits, stood at the top of the stairs.  There were four in all, and they carried laser carbine rifles.

People screamed and dove for cover.  An acrid burnt smell filled the room.  "Death to the crown prince!" one of the newcomers yelled.  Even as he said this, Grandpa Anarchy and Eve the Explorer were drawing, from beneath Eve's skirts, weapons of their own.  Two more girls nearby also drew weapons, while another girl leaped to stand in front of the prince.

A gunfight ensued, but it was short and one-sided.  The members of the Society of Intergalactic Space Babes were well-trained.  Their shots hit their mark, while those of the terrorist group were wide.  In seconds it was all over.  Grandpa Anarchy charged the last, mortally-wounded beluga-like creature and punched him in his blubbery jaw, just to make certain he went down quickly.



Later that evening, the king and queen thanked the members of the Space Babes for their service to the crown.  Four gowned girls and one Grandpa Anarchy stood before the throne as the king extolled the virtues of the S.I.S.B. and how grateful he and his entire kingdom were for having saved the life of the prince.  He offered each a reward.

"For the human known as Grandpa Anarchy," said the king, "we offer 10,000 credits, rendered in whatever form of currency or tradable goods you wish."

Grandpa Anarchy bowed.  "Your Highness is most kind," he said.  He wasn't exactly sure how much money this was, but it sounded like a reasonably good reward indeed.

"Also a passport is yours, with an invitation to visit our planet again at any time," the king added.  "This we give to all five of you.  As for the girls of the S.I.S.B. -- Eve, Muriel, Lucci and Sashi -- we are most grateful for the aid of your organization.  The gowns you wear tonight are yours to keep, and we are prepared to offer an even greater reward, suitable for such beautiful young ladies.  We have arranged with the finest dressmakers and clothiers of the city of Koreetla, on Prokone 4 in the Xiatopath Sector of the Empire -- where orbits the S.I.S.B. space station headquarters.  Each of you will receive three new outfits each month, including a new ball gown, for the duration of your service in the Society of Intergalactic Space Babes, fully paid for by the Throga crown."  The froglike king smiled and added, "of course, we do not expect the tailors of Koreetla to match those of Throga, but we're told they're still quite good.  Our only request is that you forward to the crown a holovid of you in each new outfit.  We look forward to seeing how lovely you four look!"

The girls gasped.  One said, "Oola!  New dresses, a fortune is!"

"Three years, then?" Grandpa asked Eve.  "That's... one hundred and eight outfits, a third of them fancy ball gowns.  More if you re-up...."

Eve sighed.  "Just... kill me now...."

FINI







Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Grandfather Clause

Grandfather Clause
Mark A Davis
307

Agents Prolka and Surrnian, please report to floor 32, section 7 for assignment.  Agents Prolk and Surrnian to floor 32, section 7.  Attention security:  we have a code eleven security breach on floor 65.  All unassigned security, please report to floor 65....

The voice was pleasant and feminine and echoed in the wide, clean hallways.  After a while you got to where you almost didn't hear it.  This place reminded her of an airport or hospital -- people rushing everywhere, security everywhere, with the only diffeerence being that they were all beautiful young women  between 165 and 175 centimeters, and dressed in silver bikinis and go-go boots.

S.I.B.S. Space Station Prokone 4 was the official name of the headquarters of the Society of Intergalactic Space Babes, in orbit above the planet Prokone 4 in the Eieio (prounounced EE-Yow) Interstellar Empire.  Here could be found thousands of similarly-clad young women, each with a belt and holster holding a laser pistol.  None looked more than maybe nineteen, although she knew many were far older.  There was a template for membership in the Space Babes, and you were engineered to meet those specifications for the length of your tour.

The girl had auburn hair, and was slightly too tall to be a space babe, with perhaps not quite enough curves, though she was remarkably beautiful.  She waited in line at the rebirth stations, where multiple doorways along a long corridor each lead to a small rebirth chamber.  Other girls talked and giggled as they waited, but she was quiet.  She seemed uncomfortable.

"Next," the attendant called out.  The girl followed her into a room.

"Hello," the girl said.  "My name is Evander.  I was told that...."

"No talking," the woman replied.  "Strip!  Laundry chute is to your left."

Evander frowned, but did as she was told.  The technician was dressed no different than other space babes, but had an air of authority like that of a doctor.  She studied a holo pad.

Evander shivered in the cool air.  At least, she told herself, this strange dream was almost over.

"Name?" the technician asked.

"Evander the Explorer," said Evander.  "That is, Evander Jaskulski."

The technician looked her up and down.  "Well," she said, "aren't you a beauty?  We certainly won't have to change your looks much!  You're new?"

"Yes," said Evander.  "I just need you to...."

"Just answer the question -- no chit chat!"  The woman barked.  "Get into the rebirth chamber.  Over here, up these steps..."

Again, Evander did as she was told.  The chamber was a tube of steel and glass with a door at the top that lifted up.  She sank into the warm, greenish liquid within.  "I just need..." she began.

"What did I say?" the woman replied.  "Don't waste time.  I process girls like you all day, and I have a hundred more to do before the day's done."  She frowned at her holo pad , then added, "According to the A.I., Evander is a masculine name on your homeworld.  It recommends a more feminine alternate.  Did you have one in mind?"  The lid began to slid shut.

"No," said Evander.  "You see, I...."

The lid closed, sealing Evander in, muffling her words.  Green liquid rose over her head, filling the chamber.  As consciousness dimmed, she heard the technician say, "We'll go with Evangeline, then.  Eve for short...."


***


The world slowly faded into view.  The rebirth chamber lid was open, the green liquid draining from it.

"Now, you may notice some changes," the technician said.  "Few were needed but you were a tad too tall, and your curves have been enhanced just a bit... larger breasts and hips, slightly narrower waist.  It may take some getting used to.  Your civilian I.D. is registered under your new name, but I ran into a problem when I tried to locate your S.I.S.B. registration."

A wave of nausea struck Evander.  "I'm... not a member of the S.I.S.B.," she managed.

"Not yet you aren't," the woman replied.  "You haven't signed your contract.  But there should have been an application on file, and I couldn't find one.  Luckily I figured it out.  You were registered as a sidekick to Grandpa Anarchy, and there's that grandfather clause that exempts you from the tests.  I've set you up with a temporary membership in the Space Babes, just until you sign your contract...."

Evander climbed from the rebirth chamber.  She stared down at herself.  "Why am I still a girl?" she growled.

The technician offered a patronizing smile.  "Dear, only girls can join the Space Babes.  You really ought to know that by now...."

Evander scowled.  "But I'm not joining the Space Babes!" she exclaimed.

The technician frowned.  "I'm sorry?  Then why are you here?"


***


Once again the world swam into focus.  Evander felt the wave of nausea as the green liquid drained and the chamber lid unsealed.  His hands explored his groin, finding something that hadn't been there for several days.  Yes, he thought, finally.  I'm a man again!

"Welcome back to the land of the living," said the technician.  "It's been two hours.  How are you feeling?"

"Sick.  But good," Evander replied.  He climbed out of the chamber and stood under a nearby shower.

"I apologize again," said the technician.  "I didn't realize you weren't a space babes recruit.  You might have said.  All I do all day every day is transform new recruits."  She sighed dramatically.  "Just my luck, too!" she said.  "You made such a cute, sexy girl!  I could have invited you back to my place, and who knows where that might have led?"

Evander was confused.  Suddenly this all-business woman was retroactively propositioning his female self?  Was he hearing this right?

"But  it's the same story every time," she added.  "I meet a sexy new girl, and she's either involved already, or she's straight, or she wants to become a boy...."  She smirked.

Evande frowned.  "I..." he began.  "That is...."

"I'm teasing you, of course!" the technician said with a laugh.

"Um..." said Evander, suddenly fascinated.  "Are there a lot of girls like you in the Space Babes?"

"Lesbians?  Oh, quite a few I think," said the technician.  "After all, nearly a third of our members were boys before joining, and a lot of them still like girls...."  She glanced over at the dressing station and pursed her lips.  "You didn't bring anything to wear, did you?  I'm afraid all I've got are silver bikinis... I'll have to have something brought down.  After all, we do transform space babes into boys again on occasion.  Not all remain girls when  their tour is up!"

"Actually," said Evander, "I always dreamed of dating a space babe... one with green hair...."

But now that Evander was himself again, certain things he'd heard were lining up in his head.

Only girls can join the Space Babes.

One third of our members were boys before joining.

Not all remain girls when their tour is up.

There's that grandfather clause that exempts you from the tests.

I've set you up with a temporary membership.

Just until you sign your contract....

The space babes were established by Major Tom Nova.  His wife Destiny was the founding member.  Evander had read comics and pulp stories about the Nova family, had dreamed of adventures in space, since he was a kid.  But his favorite was a fictional green-haired alien space babe named Sally Stardust....

My goal is to sleep with an alien space babe....

"When you sign a contract with the space babes," said Evander, "how long is is the tour?"

"Three years," said the technician.  "You agree to become a space babe, of course.  There's training and missions... and you get to be a sexy girl in a bikini the whole time!  Why do you ask?"

"And anyone can join?" he asked.  "That is, anyone can become a sexy girl?  For three years only?"

"Well, we don't discriminate by race or gender," she said, "but we do favor younger members.  A lot of people apply, so there are tests to weed out the less qualified...  of course, as I said, sidekicks to Grandpa Anarchy have a special grandfather clause that lets you skip that.  It's really a Grandfather Anarchy clause, I suppose!"

"And I could stay in space," said Evander, "and go on a lot of adventures...."  He paused, then added, "Could I request green hair?"

The technician blinked in suprise.

"Of course," she said.  "So, you... want to climb back into the rebirth chamber, Eve?"


***


The door irised open and Grandpa Anarchy entered their quarters.  A girl with green hair in a silver bikini and go-go boots lay on the couch.  Grandpa frowned.  "I thought you went to get changed into a guy," said Grandpa.

"I did," the girl replied, as she read an S.I.S.B. training manual.

Grandpa sighed.  "Figures.  I loose more sidekicks this way...."


FINI

Gadda Da Vida (repost)

(Note:  This story was originally posted on February 26, 2018, after which I spent March and April attempting to post 1 story a day on a theme of magical girls for Magical March 2018.  The last story I posted was #28 of that series, Dark Forces, which I posted on April 15, 2018.  Although I wrote three more stories to complete that arc, the big battle story Friendly Invasion was not as well-written as I would have liked, and I held off posting it until I could rewrite it.  Which... I still haven't done.  I wrote very little for the next year, and then when I began writing again this August I started with a new series of linked stories, which I shall probably publish soon.

In the meantime, I have a series of stories that I wrote centered around the sidekick in this story, and before I begin posting the rest of them I thought it would be a good idea to repost this one, so that anyone reading here can read them in order.)


Gadda Da Vida
Mark A Davis
286


"Sometimes I help out the S.I.S.B.," said Grandpa Anarchy, earth's oldest active hero.  "Especially Jennie Nova and her friend Llahna.  But this is the first time they've had me run a mission for them without an actual member coming along."  He gripped the steering wheel of the space ship, even though it flew itself, and stared out into the starry night.  "Of course, you and I aren't actual members of the S.I.S.B. -- you gotta be young and female for that."

As he always did, Grandpa Anarchy wore a rumpled gray suit with an anarchy symbol stitched in silver over the left breast.

The ship was sleek and smooth and silver, with comfortable bucket seats and digital readouts.  The computer ran the ship, but this was only a small scout ship, not the fancy war vessel that Grandpa's friends normally used, with it's sentient A.I. and teleporters and clone rebirth vats.  Their mission was a simple one -- to check out a planet that was thought to be uninhabited, and then return with a report.

His sidekick, a young boy named Evander the Explorer, called out, "There's a closet back here full of silver bikinis and go-go boots."

"Well, that's their uniform," Grandpa said.

"Oh, I know," said Evander.  "I was a huge fan of Major Tom and Destiny Nova.  They formed the Society for Intergalactic Space Babes!"

"Ideally," said Grandpa, I'd have brought a female sidekick along, and then you could have abandoned me and joined their group to explore space.  That's how it usually goes."

"Explore space in a silver bikini?  I don't think so."  Evander returned to the front seat.  The boy was six feet tall and well muscled, with closely-cropped brown hair and a square jaw.  He wore the kind of retro space suit that would have made Buck Rogers proud.  "Now if I could date an alien space babe -- one like Sally Stardust, with green hair -- that'd be awesome!"  He pulled a picture from his suit and placed it on the ship dash.  "Isn't she beautiful?  I'd bang her in a second!"

The girl pictured had green hair, solid blue eyes, pale skin, and antenna -- but was otherwise a sexy space babe in a silver bikini.

"Yeah, sure," Grandpa muttered.

"I'm really excited to be exploring out in space!" said Evander.  "My goal is to sleep with an alien babe, and since we're working for the space babes, that's bound to happen!  I mean, I was hoping we'd get have missions halfway across the galaxy, but I didn't really think it'd happen so quickly.  So what are we looking for anyway?"

"The 5E has received reports of ships going missing near planet Dilmun," said Grandpa.  "We're here to check it out."

Even as he said this, the planet in question appeared in the view port -- a blue-green planet very similar to earth, but with unfamiliar land masses.  Grandpa gripped the steering wheel tighter.  The ship entered orbit, then began to descend.

"5E?" asked Evander.

"A division of the Eieio (pronounced Ee-Yow) Empire government," Grandpa said.  "The Space Babes work for them, so that's who we're really working for.  It stands for Eieio Empire Endowment and Encouragement Enforcement...."

He paused.  An alarm was sounding.  Red lights lit the cockpit.  "What is it?" asked Evander.

"WARNING!" a computer voice boomed out.  "ENGINES ARE WITHOUT POWER.  WARNING!"

"We've lost all engine power!" Grandpa exclaimed.  "I don't know what to do -- I'm not actually a pilot!  The computer's supposed to take care of everything!"

The computer repeated, "WARNING!  ENGINES ARE WITHOUT POWER!  WARNING!"

The two watched, helpless, as their ship plummeted to the planet surface.


***


Grandpa awoke in a field of grass and flowers.  He was not surprised to awake from a hard ship crash -- he was used to surviving impossible situations, or at least being revived after death.  But he expected to be in great pain, and he was not.  He felt -- normal.

He sat up.  In fact, he felt better than normal -- younger, stronger, in better health.  He blinked.  There was ship debris all around him.  He was also stark naked.

There was no sign of his clothing anywhere.  The ship was utterly destroyed, reduces to chunks of smoldering metal.  But around him birds sang and chirped in the trees.  It was a warm, sunny day.  He flexed his arms, then glanced down at his crotch.  That part of him felt revitalized, too.

There was a moan nearby.  He approached a pile of debris to find his sidekick buried beneath it.  He knelt down, then paused.  The person looked like his sidekick, to a degree -- that is, the face was similar to Evander's, but with more delicate features, and framed by long, auburn hair.  This was clearly a young woman, there was no mistaking it.  For one thing, she was also naked, and her breasts were fully exposed.  Grandpa glanced away, feeling something stir within him that he hadn't felt in years.  He felt ashamed.  She looked to be all of sixteen or seventeen, and he was over a century old.  Also he assumed she was really Evander -- quite apart from the facial similarities, there should be no other human on the planet.

The girl opened her eyes.  "Grandpa?" she asked.  "What happened?  Did we crash?"

Grandpa Anarchy frowned.  How did one explain this?

A large metal beam lay across the girl's neck and shoulders.  Her legs and arms were also pinned.  "Yes.  We crashed," Grandpa replied.  "Your body... um... I don't know how to put this...."

The girl's eyes went wide.  "I'm injured, aren't I?" she asked.  "Is it bad?  Tell me, Grandpa; give it to me straight -- I can take it."

"No, you seem... perfectly healthy, It's just...."  Grandpa's voice faltered.  "That is... um... I mean you're not...."

"Am I going to die?" the girl asked.

"No," Grandpa said firmly.  "Look, let's get you free from there.  That's the first thing."

Soon the girl was free.  She stared down at her body in horror.  "Grandpa, what's happened to me?" she cried out, her voice going higher.  "Why am I a girl?"

"That's... one question which I am rarely asked," said Grandpa.  "Although on reflection, it's not as rare as you'd think.  I don't know the answer.  What I do know is that we crashed, but we're somehow just fine... except that you're a girl."

"Crashing spaceships don't cause people to change genders!" the girl said, beginning to panic.

"Not normally, in my experience," Grandpa replied.  "Although I can't say I've been in a lot of spaceship crashes, so perhaps the sample size is too small...."

"This doesn't make any sense!"

"Now, calm down, girl," Grandpa said.  He thought of her as the girl because trying to reconcile the image of this naked girl with that of his former sidekick Evander the Explorer hurt his brain.  "Panicking won't solve anything.  The good news is that we registered your physical and genetic profile with 5E before we left, so assuming we get off this planet they can always transform you back.  Let's explore this place and see what we can find.  We really don't got much choice in the matter anyway, and we probably want to find shelter before nightfall.  There aren't any pieces of the ship large enough to suffice...."

The grass was soft beneath their bare feet.  Insects buzzed, but no mosquitoes or wasps bothered them.  Butterflies drifted on sunlight.  The whole planet seemed to be more curated park than actual wilderness.

"There's something weird about this place," Grandpa said.  "It's too perfect.  It reminds me of something, but I'm not sure exactly what..."

"You know, Grandpa," girl Evander said.  "It's not just me that's changed.  You look a lot younger and more muscular, too.  More... viral."

"Viral!" exclaimed Grandpa.  "Why, I ain't been viral in a whale's age!"

They wandered through meadows filled with clover and bright flowers.  They crested a hill.  Below them was a valley with a lake.  The smooth surface of the water was like crystal.  There were snow-capped mountains in the distance.  Grandpa knew that nature could be picturesque, but this scene reminded him of a Bob Ross painting, full of happy rocks and happy trees.  It was a little too perfect to be real.

He glanced up.  "Now that's a strange-looking fruit," he said.  Branches of the tree hung low with very large, white fruit  that was almost box-shaped.

Grandpa picked one.  "Careful," said the girl.  "We don't know what's safe to eat."

"I have a feeling that everything is safe on this planet," Grandpa replied.  He pried down the sides of the boxy fruit, which peeled back like a banana.  Inside was revealed a more obviously box-like interior.  It looked like a large, square nut, but this also opened, like a box from Chinese take-out.

"Why, it's a fried chicken lunch!" Grandpa exclaimed.  He pulled a chicken breast from the box and bit into it.  "Tastes just like chicken!" he exclaimed.  "More than that -- it tastes like the best fried chicken I've ever had!"

"Are you sure this is safe to eat?" asked the girl.  "If it turns you into a woman too, don't come crying to me."

"I think I'm safe," Grandpa replied.  "I don't know what it is about this planet, but everything seems designed to make us as comfortable as possible.  I don't think we'll starve, at any rate."

They sat in the grass and ate lunch, then continued to explore.  They followed a stream and soon came upon a small pool.  Steam arose from the water, which bubbled up from underground.  With moss-covered rocks that encircled the pool, it seemed like a natural hot tub.

"A natural hot springs!" Grandpa exclaimed.  "Hotcha!  I don't know about you, but I'm getting in!"

Grandpa tested the water, then stepped in.  "What if it's a trap?" asked the girl.

"This whole planet is a trap," Grandpa replied.  "But a very comfortable one."  He sunk to his neck in the steaming water.  "Oh, that feels amazing!  Why, there's sand at the bottom of the pool, and rocks that form a ledge to sit on...."

The girl folded her arms beneath her breasts.  "Grandpa," she said, "we're stranded on a very weird alien world, and however pleasant and accommodating it might be, we've been trapped here against our will and I've been transformed into a freakin' girl!  I can't help but feel that you're not taking this seriously enough!"

Grandpa Anarchy stared up at the girl.  "Oh, I know all that," he said.  "This planet is a cage -- a very pretty cage created to keep us comfortable, but a cage nonetheless.  But that don't mean I can't enjoy a relaxing soak in a natural hot springs.  You should join me -- I mean, we're already naked, so why not?"

The girl sighed, but eventually she did slip into the pool and sank up to her neck.  Water soaked her hair.

After a relaxing bath, the two climbed from the pool.  There were no towels, but they dried quickly in the warm air.  They continued their search, but very quickly came across something new.

It was a bed.  It sat in a beautiful clearing beneath the cover of a large tree.  It wasn't just any bed, either --  larger than a king-sized mattress, in the shape of a valentine, with red and pink and white satin sheets and pillows and comforters.

Grandpa frowned.  "Now that," he said, "is taken straight out of a love hotel, I'd swear."

"What, are we supposed to sleep together on it?" the girl asked.

"Do you want to?" Grandpa asked.

"No!" the girl exclaimed.  "Not a chance!"

"Me neither," Grandpa said.  "But this confirms what I've been suspecting all along."  He stepped into the clearing and called out, "Okay Yahweh or Elohim or whatever you're calling yourself!  The jig is up!  Come out where we can see you!"

In a blinding flash of light, god appeared.

He shined so brightly that it hurt to look at him.  It was like staring into the sun.  He cast shadows on the ground in all directions.  But what you could see, in quick glances and sidelong views, was not exactly what you might expect.  The man was tall enough, and balding, with a white beard -- but that beard was scraggly and unkempt, and his robes were tattered and torn.  If the gods dwell on Mount Olympus, then this was the god who slept in the gutter and begged for change during the day so that he could afford a bottle of nectar.

"I AM YAHWEH!" the god boomed.  "WHO DARES SUMMON ME?"

"Hah!" Grandpa barked.  He danced a little jig around the clearing.  "One of the Shaggy Gods!  I knew it!  These jokers all think they're the one true god of Israel -- call themselves Yahweh or Elohim or Jehovah.   They all model themselves after the god of the Bible."

"I DO NOT!" the god exclaimed.  "I AM THE ONE TRUE YAHWEH, YOUR LORD AND GOD!"

"Let's get one thing straight:  you ain't no god of mine," Grandpa snarled.  He glanced at his sidekick.  "They set up a garden of Eden on some paradise world somewhere, then try to trap an Adam an an Eve so that they can play out the whole creation myth all over again."

The girl's eyes grew wide with horror.  "Wait a minute.  Doesn't that make me...."

"Yes.  You're Eve," Grandpa said.  "Mother to an entire race of humans -- at least, if this joker gets his way."  He paused, then added, "This planet, Dilmun -- that's probably some ancient word for Eden, isn't it?"

"WHAT IF IT IS?" the god replied.  "BY THE WAY, THIS IS NOT THE PLANET YOU WERE ORBITING.  WE ARE SIXTY MILLION LIGHT YEARS DISTANCE FROM DILMUN.  I HAVE SEEDED MANY PLANETS IN THIS MANNER, EACH WITH ITS OWN ADAM AND EVE, PROGENITORS OF A NEW RACE OF PEOPLE, FAR FROM THE PRYING EYES OF ANY WHO MIGHT SEEK TO INTERFERE."

"We're not going to participate, you know," Grandpa said.  "We refuse to take part in your little Bible fantasies."

"OH," said the god, "I DO NOT NEED WILLING PARTICIPANTS.  I AM GOD; I CAN MAKE YOU DO AS I WISH."

Grandpa Anarchy charged the god suddenly.  He flew at him, swinging.  His fist collided with the god's chin, driving him back.  The god stumbled, more from shock than from any actual injury.  He rubbed his chin.

"HOW DARE YOU?" he bellowed.  "I AM YOUR GOD!"

"I told you, Moron -- you ain't no god of mine!" Grandpa snarled.  "I'll strike you as often and as hard as it pleases me to do so!  I'm a hero -- I punch people more powerful than me for a living, and I've been doing it for over a hundred years, and no tin pot, delusional, faux-divine Yahweh wannabe is gonna stop me!"

"Yeah!" Evander replied, raising her fists.  "Same here!"

Yahweh glared at Grandpa Anarchy and Evander the Explorer, fury in his eyes.  "YOU TWO ARE NOT WORTHY TO BE THE ADAM AND EVE OF THIS NEW WORLD!"

"Well, good," said Grandpa, "because I...."

There was a flash.  Grandpa found himself gripping the steering wheel of their spaceship, and staring through thick glass at a sea of stars.  He blinked.

"Well!" he said.  "That worked out better than we probably could have hoped."  He grinned.  "Now that's how you deal with a god!  Stupid Shaggy Gods, always trying to recreate the garden of Eden!  I ain't having it!  Now we just need to get back to S.I.B.S. headquarters and file our report explaining why people near Dilmun are disappearing, and to warn everyone to steer clear of that stupid planet -- unless, you know, some young couple wants to be trapped in a garden of Eden...."

"Um," a feminine voice said.  Grandpa frowned.  A familiar naked girl sat in the passenger seat.  Belatedly, Grandpa realized he was also naked.

"Well, crap," Grandpa said after a few moments.  "Mind you, the S.I.S.B. can change you back... but I'm gonna look like a danged fool in a silver bikini and go-go boots...."

FINI

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Magical March 28: Dark Forces

Magical March 28
Dark Forces
Mark A Davis
339


Parasol held aloft, Gothic Angel Galinda floated down from the sky and landed on cobblestone streets slick with rain.  It was near midnight in London, and a waxing moon was partially obscured by clouds.  Up ahead shadows moved and flowed across an alley, independent of any moving lights.  Galinda wore an elaborate Gothic Lolita dress with tiered ruffles, long sleeves, lacing up the front that ended in a bow, and black tights decorated with tiny skull and crossbone designs and black leather platform boots, also decorated with silver skulls.  Her hair was straight and brown, with straight bangs across the forehead.  Her face was pale, her lipstick and nail polish black.

"So tell me something," Galinda said as she closed her parasol carefully.  "These enemies are not created by you?"

"Oh my goodness, no," Sita said.  The magical girl adviser was once again in her animal form -- which was not an animal, but a floating ball of white fur with large brown eyes and  rabbit ears.  "We never provide enemies for our agents.  Our goal is to create more good in the world, not to simply look good."

"Which is why I am not really a Dark Magical Girl, but a magical girl who looks dark?" Galinda asked.  She watched the shadows carefully.  They rippled and bubbled.  This disturbance grew closer.

"What we were provided with as a template are really prompts for internet artists," Sita said.  "I have no idea how the corporate bigwigs back in Nibiru expected us to interpret Dark Magical Girl, but obviously we are not about to set up a girl who uses negativity to sow chaos and sorrow and mistrust... watch that wall to the right," she added.

"Which is what an actual Dark Magical Girl, sponsored by the Dark Magical Girl Division of Hell, would do?" asked Galinda.

"Right," said Sita.  "If we did that, it would be a failure of Nibiru’s goals.  So I chose to interpret this as a Gothic magical girl…."

"Basically," said Galinda, "a magical girl with black lipstick and a bad attitude?"

Three shadows detached from the wall and charged forward.  Gothic Angel Galinda twirled her folded parasol and then aimed it like a gun.  "Bang," she said.  "Bang!  Bang!  Bang!"

The shadows were ripped to shreds, as if they'd been pierced by invisible bullets.  They splashed onto the sidewalk like spilled ink and then drained away to nothing.

More shadows were moving from across the street to Galinda's left.  She turned to face them.

"You can think of yourself in that manner if you wish," said Sita.  "So long as you're battling the dark forces with your magic, you are doing good."

"That's another thing that confuses me," Galinda said.  "You're from a place called Nibiru, which is not heaven, I take it?"

"No, it most certainly is not," Sita replied.  "Heaven has their own magical girl program — the Angelic Council.  Until recently I worked for them, but they can be very rule bound and hidebound to the point of impracticality.  At some point you must stop worrying about the rules and ask:  how can I help this magical girl In what way can I do the most good?  Obviously that should be the goal of a heavenly entity, but far too often they can’t see forest for the trees.  When I had enough, I left for Nibiru."

Galinda aimed her gun again.  "Bang!" she exclaimed.  "Bang!  Bang!  Bang!"

"There are a lot of them," said Sita.  "Might I suggest the Gatling gun?"

"Right," said Galinda.  "Ratta tatta tatta tatta tat!"

Shadow creatures burst apart in a wide swath before them.

"But not all of your enemies are sent from Hell, either?" asked Galinda.  "You mentioned dark forces...."

"The truth," said Sita, "is that Hell's Dark Magical Girl Division is even smaller than the Angelic Council's magical girl operations.  Both are dwarfed by the number of magical girls that Nibiru sponsors.  That's really our entire focus, after all.  So while our magical girls sometimes face agents from Hell, most of what they face are what you might call independent actors — evil spirits, vengeful ghosts, humans who desire mischief, monsters and the like…

"And dark forces?" Galinda asked again.

The Gothic magical girl imagined Sita biting her lip -- although of course in this form she had no mouth.  After several moments she said, "We do not speak of this often, but... just as Nibiru is a collective of former angels and others who wish to support magical girls and promote good, there are collectives with their own largely nefarious goals.  Some claim to aid magical girls, but do not have the best interests of you girls in mind.  Others are purely malevolent.  These are often staffed by demons exiled from hell, or by vile spirits such as evil gods and fairies.  Some of the larger ones are known as Arcticus Nox, the Samharrow Collective, and Shadowloche, but there are many of them, all much smaller than Nibiru itself.  As a rule, such dark forces have problems working together and getting along.  Despite this they cause a lot of mischief, taken as a whole.  Hell does not collaborate with them directly, just as we do not collaborate with the Angelic Council -- but Hell and these other dark forces often have the same goals in mind."

The last of the shadows rushed forward.  Gothic Angel Galinda swung her parasol like a sword, slicing through the creatures.  Some slipped past her guard and attached themselves to her.  They were sticky as if made of tar.  Realizing she could not shoot or slice all of them, Galinda raised her parasol overhead and called out, "Gothic Angel Galinda, Final Attack:  Purifying Gloom!"

A mist rolled in, like fog from the Thames.  The shadow creatures writhed as if bathed in holy water.  Within moments, the last of them had faded away.

"That really shouldn't work," said Sita.  If she had a mouth she would be frowning.  "Gloom is not a thing which purifies...."

Galinda said, "You've been creating magical girls all month, haven't you?   From what you've told me, sinister forces are acting against them -- sending shadow creatures against me, giant stuffed animals against the girl in Brazil, dark fairy creatures against your fairy team in Oregon, a dark galactic queen and her minions against the sailor team in Denver, and even an evil dwarf against that fairy tale duo.

"What you need to do," Galinda said, "is figure out which of these dark force collectives is behind all of this, and invade them with an army of magical girls.  If they're all as small as you say, you can win with overwhelming odds...."

"That," said Sita, "would be quite imprac...."

A bell chimed.  A holographic screen appeared before Sita.  Appearing on the screen was a robed woman with white wings and long, lavender hair.

"Ysolde?" asked Sita.

"Sita," said Ysolde.  "I just wanted to let you know directly from me that Nephele looked into those dark force rumors that Icarus brought forth, and nothing came of it.  They were completely unfounded -- which, given that the information came from a demon, is perfectly understandable.  In any case, there is no need to pursue that lead any further."

Sita raised an eyebrow.  "I see," she said.  "And is there a reason why Nephele is not reporting this information herself?"

"She is unable to," said Ysolde.  "She has been reassigned."

"Understood," said Sita.  The holo screen winked out.

"What's that about?" asked Galinda.

"I'm not sure," Sita said, looking thoughtful.  "Icarus had a very good lead on our mysterious dark forces, but he was working directly with Nephele of Nibiru's Counterintelligence Agency.  They would never share information with Ysolde, and Icarus had told no one who his source of information was....

"I think," said Sita, "that you and I will take a trip to see Icarus and the others...."

FINI

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Magical March 26: Steel Drivin' Boy

Magical March 26
Steel Drivin' Boy
Mark A Davis
338


"Nephele won't have an answer for a few days," said Icarus.  "In the meantime Anath is working with Magical Cadet Kelly, so that's school uniform taken care of, and I  guess you've already set up a dark magical girl...."

"Dark in appearance only," said Sita.   "I'm still working with her."

"Then next is male."  Icarus frowned.  "Really?  Some of these themes...."

"I'll remind you again," said Sita, "this was an internet art challenge.  We just have to do the best we can with whatever topic we're handed, and it's not like creating a magical boy is hard."

Icarus, Lakshmi and Sita were once again gathered in a Denny's, this time in Atlanta, GA.  Icarus wore a System of a Down tee with jeans and his usual leather jacket and dark glasses.  Sita had for once been convinced to wear something other than the toga-like dress, but she instead wore white jeans and a white silk blouse with a ruffled front.  Lakshmi -- the one with pink hair -- wore jeans and a Disney Princess tee.

"Haven’t we already produced several magical boys?" asked Icarus, as he splattered Tabasco all over his southwestern skillet.

Sita frowned.  "Technically we’ve done four," she said.  "But by my count, we’ve only done one properly, and that’s my Unicorn Knight Sterling."

"What does that mean?" asked Icarus.  "I supposed Fairy Knight Hollyhock doesn't count?"

"His costume is too girly," said Sita.  "You took a dress meant for a flower-themed fairy girl and slightly altered it."

"Which does not disqualify him as a magical boy," Icarus pointed out.

"No, it doesn't," said Sita, "which is why I said that technically we've had four -- but only one that's properly male...."

"Now, wait a second," said Icarus, gesturing with the Tabasco bottle.  "Where does it say that magical boys have to dress a certain way?  Lots of magical boys have feminine outfits; it comes with the territory!"

"Yes, and I’m not arguing against that," said Sita, "I’m just saying that a proper magical male ought to be a little more manly…."

"So you are arguing that they don’t count," said Icarus, "just because of the outfit.  That's dumb.  That is not a valid argument.  Hollyhock should count, and so should  Magical Bunny Boy Austin and Circus Princess Alex."

Sita rolled her eyes.  "A boy in a playboy bunny suit, and a boy with princess in his name?  Really, Icarus?"

"Yes, really!" Icarus exclaimed, slamming the Tabasco bottle onto the table.  "They’re still boys.  That’s the point.  They're not magical girls, are they?"

"Of course they're not girls," said Sita.  "What they are is very girlish magical boys.  My point is that I want to create a magical boy who looks like a boy.  Is that too much to ask?"

"Austin looks..." Icarus began.

"Like a boy in drag," Sita said.  "Hollyhock might as well be wearing a dress, and Circus Princess Alex does wear a dress.  One designed to expose his panties, I might add."

"Yes, well, it was a magical girl design..." said Icarus.  "One designed by you.  But if you remove those panties, you'll see...."

"Let's not talk about stripping magical boys or girls, shall we?" Lakshmi interrupted.  "You two are overboard here.  Sita, Icarus has a point — technically we’ve produced four magical boys out of twenty-seven magical young people total.  We also have one transgender magical girl, two boys who turn into magical girls, and one non-gender specific magical boi who accepts female pronouns...."

Icarus stuck his tongue out at Sita.  She pretended to ignore him.

"But Icarus," Lakshmi continued," Sita also has a point — only one of our magical boys actually dresses like a guy.   That seems a bit disparate, don't you think?"

"Like I said, a lot of magical boys..." Icarus began.

"Dress like girls?  Perhaps, but surely not seventy-five percent of them," said Lakshmi.  "Now, here's my proposal:  we let Sita design the look and name of our magical boy, while Icarus and I will locate a suitable candidate."

"That... sounds reasonable," said Sita.

"Yeah, I’m good with that," said Icarus.


***


Muscles gleamed on the bare-chested Magical Drille Terrier Sam as he swung his steel-driving hammer.  It crashed into what was ostensibly the face of a twenty-foot iron monster.  The creature belched steam and oil.  It was part steam locomotive and part transformer robot, and had been tearing up the streets of Atlanta before the magical boy's arrival.

As the three guides watched -- now in their animal forms -- Lakshmi, in her white cat form, said, "Still with the appropriately-themed enemies popping up.  It's worrying."

Icarus the winged tabby said,"I'll just bet you think you're being really clever with that name, Sita."

The floating ball of white fur with eyes and rabbit ears which was Sita said, "Maybe I do, maybe I don't."

"Well, someone's been listening to too much old Irish folk music," said Icarus.  "Was it the Weavers, perhaps?  They did this song, and I think Makem and Clancey covered it as well."

"You are quite well informed on folk music for someone who dresses like a has-been rock star," Sita said.  "It was the Walkabouts, actually -- a folk-rock group from Seattle."

"Ah," said Icarus.  "Drill is not spelled with an E, you know."

"It is in the Walkabouts song," Sita replied.

"Also tarrier is spelled with an A," Icarus added.

"Not in the Walkabouts song..." Sita said.

"Also, a Drill Tarrier is not, as you seem to think, a job description," said Icarus.  "The actual song is Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill.  A tarrier is someone who is a lazy roustabout -- someone who tarrys.  See, that's what the foreman is calling them.  You seem to think they're small dogs, or something,"

In this form Sita had no mouth, but you sensed she was frowning.  "You probably should have gone with a name like Magical Steel Driver Sam," Icarus said.

Lakshmi sighed.  "If," said Sita, "you are trying to ruin this moment for me, then you have failed."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Icarus replied.

"With your petty little criticisms," said Sita, "and with the candidate that you chose.  The only thing that matters is the results. I still like the name, and Magical Drille Terrier Sam is a fine magical boy.  He's very manly."

At that moment came a loud crack, as Sam finally split open the head of the steam-powered transformer robot.  The creature stumbled and fell sideways.

"Only," said Icarus, "when he’s not transformed into a boy named Sam, she’s a girl named Samantha…."

But Sita wasn't listening.  Her eyes were closed, and she was singing La la la at the top of her voice.

FINI

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Magical March 27: Spy Games

Magical March 27
(which comes before 26 for reasons)
Spy Games
Mark A Davis
337

The robotic magical girl known as Parodi Platinum spun through the air, almost too fast to see.  She was a blur of white plastic and silver chrome.  Her pigtails -- two long fins that hung from her head, which seemed more decorative than functional -- whipped about as she turned her head, massive glowing green eyes tracking her enemy.  Heat-seeking missiles shot across the warehouse, exploding harmlessly in confetti firework bursts.

Her counterpart was Ultima Platinum, a nearly identical robot in black and red.  The two bounced back and forth, launching rubber bullets and more confetti firework bombs, then attacking each other with light saber swords.  Neither appeared to have an advantage.

"Are they fighting for real," asked Grandpa Anarchy, "or only sparring?"

"Mostly sparring," said Icarus, "I think."

The two and a host of others were gathered in the Anarchy Cave -- the large underground warehouse located beneath the Anarchy Mansion in Frosthaven NJ.  Most were seated while the two robots fought in an open area.  Grandpa was an old man in a rumpled gray suit with a silver anarchy symbol stitched over the chest.  Icarus appeared as a boy of maybe 18, wearing a tee shirt, jeans, dark glasses, leather boots and a leather jacket.  Here also was Lakshmi, with long pink hair, wearing a jeans skirt, knee-high leather boots and a Ramones tee shirt.  There were three other magical girl guides present -- Octava and Daesdamona, and  Xena who was a dark magical girl guide from Hell.  Grandpa's sidekick Ex Habitu was here, and a former sidekick, F8Wasp, and a former companion, Amelia Anne Bloodraven.  Of course, Annie Two was also present, depicted on a large video screen -- she was the computer that ran the place, after all.

"I can see that they're using non-lethal attacks," said Grandpa.  "But they move so fast!"

"All of their attacks are non-lethal," said Icarus.  "I specified that -- they're magical girls, after all.  As for combat, they most likely derive no benefit from practice, and are nearly identical in ability.  The good one -- that's Parodi, in white -- has a few advantages, and should always win, in theory.  I think direct combat between the two is a highly ritualized affair, with the outcome predetermined."

"Huh," said Grandpa.  "Coulda fooled me.  They're really going at it."

"So," said Octava, "that's sci fi covered, and Ex Habitu has agreed to work with one of our guides.  That'll be Tanit, I think.  So that's casual outfit covered...."

"Next is male, and then school uniform," said Icarus.  "Well, those are easy!  We've already done several magical boys, and several girls in uniforms, haven't we?"

"Don't do another girl in a sailor uniform," said Lakshmi.  "In fact, why not do a boy's uniform?"

"Another magical boy?" said Octava.  "Okay then.  Maybe we could kill two birds with one stone."

"No," said Lakshmi.  "Do a magical boy, and do a girl in a boy's uniform.  We've done several boys dressed as girls, why not the opposite?"

Icarus shrugged.  "We can do that," he said.  "Who doesn't love Ouran Host Club, after all?"

A holographic screen appeared before Icarus, depicting a floating ball of fur with large brown eyes and rabbit ears.  "Icarus," said Sita.  "I'm in London, working with Gothic Angel Galinda...."

Icarus frowned.  "Which one is she, again?"

"That is not important," Sita said.  "We are under attack.  Tell me what you make of this."

The screen was filled with video of a goth magical girl with a parasol fighting creatures of living shadow.  They flowed through the air like oil, and when they died they pooled on the ground before soaking into it and disappearing.  Grandpa Anarchy watched over Icarus's shoulder.

"They appeared as soon as I'd set her up with powers," said Sita.  "They seem tailor-made to the skills I assigned for her...."

"Again, huh?" Icarus said.  "Someone on the dark side seems to know everything we do...."

"Evil shadow creatures in London?" he asked.  "Now that one sounds like a demon I once fought.  What was her name?  Ilhaa Blindstone, that's it."

"Mr. Anarchy," said Icarus dismissively, "we've been under attack from dark forces for a while now.  We have our best Nibiru agents looking into this -- angels who once worked with Heaven's Office of Counterintelligence.  I hardly think that some random human hero is going to solve a problem that our best spies haven't been able to crack...."

Grandpa Anarchy shrugged.  "Suit yourself," he said.  "Only I ain't just any random hero, I'm  the oldest active hero on earth, with more experience than any other hero you could name.  I remember Ilhaa very well -- she's big on shadow creature minions, had the same sort of inky, greasy feel to them."

Icarus looked a Grandpa dubiously, then pulled up another video.  This one depicted girls in sailor uniforms fighting shadowy insects, directed by a handsome boy with shadowy armor.  Grandpa listened as the two groups exchanged threats.  His sidekick leaned over to also watch.

"Prince Ebony of Enceladus, eh?  Minion of a Queen Sable of Titan?" he asked.

"And Sailor Scouts of the major moons of Jupiter," Ex Habitu added.  "That's basically a Sailor Moon riff."

"Yep," said Grandpa.  "That's got Eternia the Watcher's fingerprints all over it."

Octava blinked in surprise.  "You've heard of her?" he asked.

"Heard of her?" Grandpa said.  "Of course I've heard of her!  She doesn't crop up as often as that other idiot the Reality Bender, but I've tangled with her at least a half dozen times.  She's got a thing for magical girls.  I'd know her work anywhere."

Icarus raised an eyebrow.  He played another video.

"Dark Adversary from a fairy realm?" said Grandpa.  "Sounds like her work there, too."

Icarus played another video.  "Hmm," said Grandpa.  "Evil fairy tale dwarf?  That's a tough one to place.  Lemme think about it."

Icarus played another.  "Okay," said Grandpa, "I heard about this one.  Giant stuffed animals terrorizing Rio de Janiero.  Well, terrorizing in a manner of speaking, since they hardly do any damage.  But they're possessed by evil spirits, are they?  Hmmm...."  He rubbed his chin.

"Okay I'm going to go out on a limb here," he said, "but this reminds me of a demon known as Xiglem -- aka the Shining One.  He's big on evil stuffed animals; it's kind of his thing.  But to be honest I haven't run across him in about fifty years.  No idea what he's been up to."

Icarus jotted down some notes.  "Thanks," he said.  "I'll just feed this to our spy network and see if they can come up with anything...."

"Don't bother," said Grandpa.  "I got better sources than your failed angelic secret agents...."  He turned to the woman depicted on the giant computer screen -- that of a nineteenth-century librarian with wire rim glasses and her hair in a bun.  "Annie, get me Hell Wasp on the phone...."

Moments later a female demon appeared on the screen.  She had red skin and horns and cartoonish proportions, and wore a leather bodysuit that laced up the front and sides in such a manner as to expose more skin than it covered.  She was chewing bubblegum.  "Hey Grandpa, what's up?" she asked.  "Oh hey, Xena!  And is that Daesdamona with you?  Man it's been centuries...."

"Oh hey, Deva," Xena called out.

"This," said Grandpa Anarchy, "is the latest member of the Dark Moon Maidens.  Her name is Devastation Brimstone, but you can call her Miss Deva.  She happens to be the niece of my demonic lawyer Malevolent P. Brimstone, but she's also a registered hero, and I don't mind owing her a favor."  Grandpa  turned back to the young demoness and said, "Miss Deva, you know just about everyone in Hell, yes?"

Miss Deva blew a large bubble, then sucked it back into her mouth and snapped the gum loudly.  She said, "Well, a lot of people anyways."

"Specifically, you'd know anyone who's been involved with mortal heroes as either an ally or an enemy, yes?" asked Grandpa.

"Oh yeah, totally," she said.  "You know heroes are my favorite subject!  Ask me anything!"


***


Nibiru Counterintelligence Agent Nephele stared through the screen at Icarus.

"Xiglem the Shining One, and Ilhaa Blindstone?" she asked, skepticism dripping from every word.  "Members of a new dark forces conglomerate known as IMI -- Industrial Monophobia Inc?  Run by an ancient demon named Hamorai?  Are you sure about this?"

"As sure as I can be," Icarus said.  "That's why I'm bringing it to you, so you can confirm it."

"As it happens," said the agent, "I can confirm that Xigem and Ilhaa were cast out of hell some time ago for repeatedly not following rules... and I'm familiar with Hamorai, but no one's heard from him in nearly a hundred years... where did this information come from?"

Icarus shrugged.  "Would you believe a friendly wasp told me?"

FINI