Friday, October 18, 2019

Family Affair

Family Affair
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.

"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!"


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Eve the Explorer

Eve the Explorer
Mark A Davis

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...."