Mark A Davis
"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.
"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!"