Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Sally Stardust Is Dead

Sally Stardust Is Dead
Mark A Davis

"In human procreation," said Muriel, an alien space babe with green skin and blue hair, "interest in, I have none."

Eve Jaskulski lay on her bed and stared up at the underside of the top bunk.  Muriel lay above her, but all she saw were the deep, solid blue eyes, green hair, and antenna of Sally Stardust.  She'd pinned a large poster of the girl above where she slept.  Since puberty Eve had been in lust with this fictional girl, who appeared human in every way save the eyes and antenna.  She'd made it her goal to sleep with an alien babe, and since she was partnered with an alien babe.....

"Casual sex is not procreation," Eve said.  "It's just... casual."

It had been a simple, straightforward question, after all.  Not at all how she would approach a human girl, but Eve had learned that with her alien partner, simple and straightforward was best.

Eve and Muriel were the crew of S.I.S.B. Space Station Terra, the small space babes station that orbited earth.  It had proven to be a rather boring job, interspersed with brief moments of exciting battle with invading aliens.  The lack of interaction with sexy alien girls, other than the stoic Muriel, was beginning to drive Eve crazy.  Why couldn't she have been stationed at Space Babe Headquarters at Prokone 4, where you saw sexy girls everywhere you looked?

Confusingly, Eve was by now nearly identical to the object of her lust.  She wasn't an alien girl, but she had the green hair and the same proportions.  Space Babes were sculpted to match a template -- humanoid girl, sixteen to nineteen years old, 165 to 175 centimeters tall, hourglass figure -- they were engineered to be cute and sexy.  Eve had been male before joining, and would be male again once she left the corps, but for now she looked very much like Sally Stardust, sans antenna and alien eyes.

"Oola, Eve.  To procreate, the manner in which for humans, sex is not?" asked Muriel.

Eve had to parse this one carefully.  "Well yes, sex is for procreation, sometimes," she said.  "But -- we're both girls...."

"A human girl, alike to you I may look," said Muriel.  "Body sculpting, space babes template to match, the thanks for is.  Assure you can I that I am not.  Not human.  Not female.  Asexual my people are.  Gender we have not.  Participating in acts of sex, interest have I none, with you or anyone.   To what purpose serve would this?  Same species we are not.  Human mating rituals, required participation, bad enough is...."

"I'd hardly call ballroom dancing a mating ritual..." Eve said.

"On subject very explicit your human literature is!" Muriel stated forcefully.  "A mate for breeding, to select, dancing and socializing the manner is!  For sex, horizontal dancing an euphemism is!"

Eve frowned.  "You've... read quite a bit about human mating rituals?"

"Mating practices of the alien race, the understanding of, drives and motivations key to understanding is," said Muriel.  "Obsessed with finding a mate, trait of humans, example is.  Behavior of partner Eve, pattern of behavior I recognize.  To be impregnated, very strong your desire is."

"My desire... to be impregnated?" Eve asked, incredulously.  "No, no... I don't want to become pregnant...."

"Oola.  For female to become impregnated, act of sex, end goal is this not?" asked Muriel.

"Well, yes," said Eve. "Broadly speaking that's true, normally...."

"Female of the species are you?" Muriel asked.

"At the moment..." Eve said.

"Oola.  Then a misunderstanding perhaps there is," said Muriel.

"Yes," Eve said.  "A misunderstanding.  I apologize for bringing it up."  She hugged her pillow and turned to face the wall.  If only... she thought.  Where else am I going to find an alien girl in orbit around earth?


Eve ran her fingers along thin, fleshy antennas that stood up from her brow.  She stared at her reflection, looking deep into eyes of a solid blue.  There was no white to be seen.

She was naked, having just emerged from a rebirth chamber.  It had occurred to her only a couple of days ago that she could request alterations in her look to more fully resemble the girl of her dreams.  Her partner Muriel watched  to one side with a bemused expression.

She hugged herself and danced about.  "I look just like Sally Stardust!" she exclaimed happily.

"If your life's goal is to resemble a cartoon character," said Valerie 9000, the space station's ever-present A.I., "then congratulations.  But once again I object to giving you antenna that serve no functional purpose."

"Never mind that," Eve replied.  "Lots of species have features that no longer serve a useful purpose."

"Features that no longer serve a useful purpose, perhaps," said the A.I.  "Features that never served any purpose?  Other than to scream the word alien to prepubescent boys, of course...."

"Oola, Eve," said Muriel.  "Object of desire for you this girl is.  Become like her, to be your desire, why?"

"I... don't know," Eve said, still staring at her reflection.  "She doesn't exist so I can never meet her or sleep with her.  It just feels like becoming her was the next best thing."

"Alike to a human still your scent is," said Muriel.  "Musk have you considered?"

"Perfume, you mean?"  Eve made a face.  "That's not really my thing, and... I have no idea what Sally Stardust should smell like...."

Muriel smelled faintly of cinnamon and bananas.  It wasn't a perfume, it was the natural musk that her species gave off.  It tended to make Eve hungry.

"Not a real girl, reason is," Muriel replied.  "As image only she exists."

"Yes, I know," Eve said.  "Still, I'm satisfied, for now.  But my desire to bed an alien girl hasn't changed."

"I would suggest an Arellian girlfriend from the Trifid Nebula, Kootah Delphi Seven then," said Valerie 9000.  "Similar to Jennie Nova's friend Llahna.  For an alien species, they look remarkably like young human females.  It would seem to me that an Arellian would fit what you are looking for nearly perfectly.  Mind you, it is the male Arellian that resemble an earth girl...."


Eve's antenna perked up.  "Wait," she said.  "Run that by me again?"

It was morning.  Eve and Muriel were eating breakfast -- prepared by Valerie 9000.  Everything on the station was controlled by the A.I..  Breakfast wasn't exactly high cuisine -- consisting of vegetable nutrient paste pressed into flavored blocks and cooked -- but it was edible at least.

"As I've told you several times," Val 9000 said, "the Amethyst gateway is directly linked to S.I.S.B. Space Station Amethyst, in orbit around the fairyland planet of Amethyst.  This is in another universe...."

"You mean I can visit another world any time I want?" Eve said.  "Why didn't you tell me?"

"Oola," Muriel said, a pained look on her face.  "Three weeks ago the Archons of Excellence transfer to Amethyst we did...."

"Well I know we sent them somewhere," Eve said, "but I wasn't paying attention to where, exactly...."

"It becomes increasingly apparent," said Val 9000, "that when your younger sibling described you as a space bimbo, she knew whereof she spoke."

"I want to go!" Eve exclaimed.  She stuffed the rest of her meal -- two blocks optimistically described as bacon and hash browns -- into her mouth and chewed quickly.  "I've been dying for some girl-on-girl action for months, ever since I got here!  Interactive holovids only accomplish so much, and I've already experienced the lesbian ones, and none of them have an alien girl as a partner!"

"Oola, Eve," said Muriel.  "Alien women in a fairyland you will not find I think."

"There's fairy women, aren't there?" Eve asked.  "That's good enough, isn't it?"

"The large majority of the residents of the land of Amethyst are of fairy blood to some degree, yes," said Val.  "You may visit on your next scheduled leave, in lieu of visiting earth, which is...."

"That's right now!" Eve exclaimed happily.  She leaped to her feet.  "I'm going, then!"

"I would suggest you wear something more in keeping with the local customs..." Val said, but Eve was already in the hallway, headed to the Amethyst gateway.


That she found a disco in a fairy kingdom surprised Eve a little.  The music had more in common with sixties soul and James Brown-era funk than disco, with brass horns, a large drum section, upright bass and stringed instruments that only vaguely resembled guitars.  There was also a large organ which made up for the lack of electronic instruments.  But the idea of a disco was certainly there -- the floor even sported flashing lights in multiple colors, provided via magic, with lights on the walls and even magical holograms floating through the crowds -- colorful insects, flying snakes, sparklers and fireworks, all created by light-based magic.

The room smelled of incense, alcohol, and sweat.  She sat at the bar and nursed a drink, watching the crowd.  She certainly stood out in her silver bikini, and had been approached by more than a dozen men asking to buy her a drink, but she had no interest in merchant boys and soldiers.  She was looking for a girl with looks exotic enough to trigger a switch in her head that said alien.

Exotic dancers performed on a raised platform along one wall.  They were lifelike, but clearly made of wood.  They resembled puppets, but Eve could see no strings.  But then, it was a fairy kingdom, so perhaps they were alive.

This idea was reinforced when a plastic doll, about four feet tall, sat on a stool near her.  She wore a black a-line dress, but otherwise looked identical to a Sailor Venus doll that Eve's sister had once owned.

"Boys bothering you?" the doll asked.  "Must be nice."

Eve raised an eyebrow.  "It is?"

"Sure," the doll replied.  "They won't give me the time of day.  I'm just a doll after all -- nothing but smooth plastic down below."

Eve noticed that the girl had a glass, but wasn't actually drinking.  Could she drink?  She had limited facial movement, but surely the only dolls that could drink were the kind that wet themselves afterwards?

Eve glanced away quickly, hoping that her face had not revealed her thoughts.  "Do you really wish you were anatomically correct, then?" she asked.  "I'd think in a magical world, that would be possible...."

The girl made a face.  "My gods, no!" she said.  "I'd be nothing but a sex doll then!  What I want is for people to treat me like a normal girl."

"To hit on you," Eve said, "like they were hitting on me."

"Yes!  No.  I don't know," the girl said.  "People just suck.  That's all."  She brought her cup to her lips as if to drink.  Eve could see now that there was nothing in it -- it was one of those plastic cups designed to look like it contained something, with liquid trapped between two layers of plastic around the outside of the cup.

"Can I ask you a question?" the doll asked.

"Sure," Eve said.

The plastic girl smiled.  "What are those antenna for?"

"Princess Pistachio!" a newcomer exclaimed.  "Who's your very beautiful friend?"

Eve looked into violet eyes framed by lavender hair, and was instantly smitten.  This was a young woman, maybe a year or two older than her.  She was tall and lithe and very good looking, with a freckled face and a pleasant smile.  She wore a white blouse with a peter pan collar and a lavender corduroy jumper dress over it.  The skirt was very short.  If you looked closely, you noticed ears that were slightly pointed.  Fairy blood? Eve wondered.  Either way, this girl was as close to a beautiful alien as Eve had seen in weeks.

The girl sat down and stuck out her hand.  "My name is Amaryllis," she said.  "Can I buy you a drink?"

"Y-yes?" Eve replied.  "I mean... sure.  I'd like that.  My name is Eve."


Warm sunlight slanted through a nearby window.  Eve lay naked on straw in a barn loft in the arms of Amaryllis.  This was her farm, located several miles outside the capital city of Amethyst.

Eve had heard of taking a roll in the hay before, but the literal experience was something new.

"So that's what sex between girls is like," Eve said.

The other giggled.  "You have never before been with a woman?" she asked.

"Well," said Eve, "technically I have... but not when I was also female.  But I've done a lot of holovids...."

Amaryllis rolled over on top of her.  She kissed Eve and said, "Then perhaps I should show you again, lest you forget?"

Later, as they lay arm in arm, Amaryllis said, "I will tell you a story, Eve.  More than a year ago our country was invaded from space.  After the war, I stood on the streets of Amethyst city and watched the heroes of the Space Thrall Invasion pass by.  Such beautiful girls the space babes were!  Girls from space!  Sunlight flashed bright off their silver bikinis, and I said to myself, I will bed a space babe.  That was my goal.

"When I saw you today, I knew that day had come!"

The statement confused Eve.  Surely she was the one seeking sex with an alien girl?  What did it mean if she was the alien girl that someone else dreamed of?

Amaryllis traced the line of Eve's antenna.  "These are so beautiful," she said.  "What purpose do they serve?"

"They..."  Eve was at a loss for words.  "They... prove that I'm an alien?"

She lay with one hand on her lower abdomen, considering what it meant to be the pursued instead of pursuer.  Amaryllis stared into her eyes.  "I don't mean that as a slight.  You are a very beautiful girl, Eve.  With your deep blue alien eyes -- I was charmed when I saw you.  But we've only known each other a few hours.  I felt the need to say why I so readily laid down with you."

"It's fine," Eve said.

"I would like to know you better," the other added.  Her eye twinkled.  "Perhaps even one day I could be nurse-mother to our children...."

Eve frowned.  "Do you mean... once I've become male again?"

"No, silly!"  Amaryllis kissed her on the breasts and said, "I have no attraction to men.  I love you as you are, here and now."

Eve smiled.  "How then would two women have a child together?"

"It is quite easy in Amethyst," Amaryllis replied, "with the aid of the wombflower..."


Eve stepped through the gateway, and found herself once again on S.I.S.B. Space Station Terra.   The past day had been a blur.  It had felt like a dream.

"Well, princess?" Valerie 9000 asked.  "How was your trip to fairyland?  Did you kiss any frogs?  Were you captured by a dragon?  Did you meet the prince of your dreams?"

Eve laughed lightly.  "There is no prince in my dreams, Val," she said.  "Only Sally Stardust.  But I did meet someone... a lovely farm girl who spent the afternoon with me in the hay loft, and fed me an amazing dinner before I returned.  I mean real food!  The first I've had in weeks!

"Also, I learned many interesting things."

"Such as?" the A.I. asked.

Eve wandered down the hallway to her dorm room.  "Such as... Amaryllis would like to have my babies, and in fairyland two girls can have a child, and neither need become pregnant."

"Ah, yes," Val 9000 said.  "Such interesting plant life they have in that fairyland...."

Eve frowned.  "I guess," she said, "they would grow in her garden?"

"And do you wish to have children with this girl?" Val 9000 asked.

"I..."  Eve's voice faltered.  "I mean, she's a very nice girl, I really enjoyed being with her, but...."

"She is no Sally Stardust?" Val asked.

Eve flopped down in her bunk.  Muriel appeared to be asleep.  "She... is a very pretty fairy girl," Eve said.  "She has pointed ears, violet eyes, and lavender hair.  That's not enough to make her my Sally Stardust, I guess -- she didn't flip that switch in my head.  I rather think I was some kind of Sally Stardust to her, in fact...."


The girl had blue skin and dark blue hair.  Her hand traced the lines of Eve's face.  "I am called Llahna.  I am an Arellian from Kootah Delphi Sven in the Trifid Nebula.  You are called Jennie Nova, of the famous Nova family of spacefarers?  You are of a race called human, from the planet Terra in orbit around the star Sol?  How strange it is to meet an alien, and he is a boy who likes so much like me!"

"I am sorry, but I am not a boy," Eve replied.  "I am a human of the female gender -- a girl, just like you."

"A girl?" the blue-skinned one said.  "But I am not a girl!  I am an Arellian of the male gender!"

Eve rolled her eyes.  These educational interactive holovids could be so stilted.  She'd met Jennie Nova and Llahna the Arellian, and neither of them talked like this -- in fact Jennie spoke so much space surfer slang that Llahna frequently had to translate for her.

She had been recalled to S.I.S.B. Space Station Prokone 4 -- Space Babe Headquarters -- for some interviews and tests.  These included an interactive holovid that detailed the founding of the Space Babes -- something most normal recruits would have already seen.  Eve had joined via a loophole -- sidekicks to Grandpa Anarchy were allowed to join without taking all of the tests -- so she'd missed this little lecture vid the first time around.

Eve sighed.  The vid was boring, but being back on station Prokone 4 was very exciting.  There were alien girls everywhere she looked!  She still had more tests to take, and then dinner with her family, but then her flight back wasn't until early in the morning.  She'd have the rest of the night to get laid!

"In the beginning," the voice-over said, "the Society of International Space Babes was little more than a club for Destiny Nova, her daughter Jennie Nova, and friends such as Jennie's companion Llahna."  The voice was smooth, calming, and feminine, very much like the voice of Valerie 9000.  For that matter, this entire station was also run by Valerie 9000, or a version of her, so the voice probably was that of the A.I.

Eve nearly fell asleep at this part.  She was still nominally in the role of Jennie Nova, but after a few quick scenes of her and Llahna in battle, she stood to the side and watched things take place before her.  They explained how the workload of the 5E -- a government division of the Eieio (pronounced EE-Yow) Empire -- grew to the point that they proposed absorbing the Space Babes as an organization, and greatly expanding their ranks, their role, and their funding.

Here is where the story got slightly more interesting.  Eve had wondered about the famed space babe template.  While it seemed reasonable to want members of the space babes to be -- well, babes, i.e. young, attractive females -- where had the notion that the must all fit such a rigid template come from?  It seemed perverse to force human girls into a standard height, weight, and body shape, never mind aliens who might not resemble humans at all.

The answer, of course -- as with everything -- came down to bureaucracy.  If you didn't have standards, then who was to say what constituted beauty?  How did you define a space babe in government terms?  If Jennie Nova, a human girl, was a space babe, and Llahna -- a male Arellian -- was also a space babe, then what was it that they had in common?

The answer, it seemed, was that they were young in appearance, and of a certain height and build.  Beauty was more difficult to define, but it was agreed that a human-like face and body, within given parameters based on those who were already members -- Jennie, her mother Destiny, Llahna, and a handful of others -- was the starting point.  Human standards of beauty could follow.

Governments, Eve thought.  She'd been transformed into a girl before joining but was now an inch shorter, with breasts a half cup larger, thanks to some bureaucrat who understood nothing about human sexism in beauty standards, but could easily quantify the physical attributes of the first two space babes.

The video did not cover the beefcake division -- another group known as the Interstellar Fraternity of Bunny Boys, located at a separate planet.  Eve could guess that they were just as messed up when it came to beauty standards.  Perhaps, Eve thought, she should have joined them.  Of course, her chance to meet a beautiful alien babe would have flown out the airlock....


"What did you do to your eyes?" Eve's sister Kassandra exclaimed.  "And what are those things?"

Eve sighed.  Dinner with her family sounded pleasant.  You could say I'm having dinner with my mother, my kid sister, and my grandfather, and it sounded perfectly normal.   Then you got together, and it was four teenage girls in silver bikinis, all about the same build.  You couldn't look at a space babe and think grandfather.  It just didn't work.  Eve had to remind herself that these girls were named Kassandra, Ula, and Marianna.  It was easier to think of them in those terms.

If that weren't enough -- she'd completely forgotten to warn them about her eyes and antenna.

"I..." she said.  "That is... I wanted to look more like Sally Stardust...."

Kassandra rolled her eyes.  "Really?  You're still pining for a cartoon girl?  You look ridiculous!  And here I had thought my sister looked sorta cool...."

"What are those for, Dear?" Ula asked.  "What do they do?"

Eve touched her antennae.  "They... don't do anything," she said.  "They just make me look like an alien...."

"You look," said Kassandra, "like an idiot!"

"How have you been doing, Dear?" asked Ula.

"I've been fine, Mom... I mean Ula," Eve said.  "Other than being pretty well bored out of my mind, stuck on a space station...."

"Tell me about it!" Kassandra said.  "They've got me taking classes all day!  Language, interstellar history, math, navigation, shooting practice and martial arts...."

"We all have to do some of that," Marianna said.  "An earth education doesn't cut it in outer space."

"So tell me, Eve," said Ula, "have you found a nice boyfriend to settle down with?"

Eve made a face.  "Mom -- I mean Ula -- I'm not interested in boys."

"I've been dating a very handsome space marine," Marianna said.

Eve stared at the girl who had been her grandfather only a few months ago.  "That's nice," she said.

"Then have you found a nice girlfriend?" Ula asked.

"Mom," said Eve.  "I mean Ula -- I'm stuck on a space station with one other space babe who has no interest in sex.  Where am I going to find a girlfriend?"

Eve had decided to not mention her tryst with Amaryllis.  It would only encourage her mother -- that is, Ula -- to ask repeatedly about the fairy girl, and Eve wasn't sure she wanted to see her again.

"Well," her mother said, "there are a lot of girls on this station.  Maybe you'll find someone before you leave."


The room was warm, almost humid.  Eve quivered with excitement.  She lay naked in a dorm room bunk aboard S.I.S.B. Space Station Prokone 4.  After dinner with the family, she had gone looking for a date -- with an alien girl if possible.

And now, here she was.  It was finally happening!

She watched as the other slipped out of her boots and bikini.  The girl had jet black skin, with solid red eyes and insect-like horns jutting from her forehead.  She smelled of licorice.  Her hair was more like porcupine spines, but in the dim light she resembled a human girl where that it counted.

This girl had propositioned her.  Eve couldn't even believe that part.  What luck!  An actual alien girl had sought an encounter with her.  It was just the thing she'd fantasized about!

The alien girl did not speak.  She was very businesslike in fact, very unemotional.  The lights went out.  The girl lay down beside Eve and embraced her.  Eve shivered in the dark.  Her hands explored he alien girl's body, and the other's hand slipped between Eve's thighs, exploring  what they found.

Eve trembled.  She felt something slide inside, and gasped in shock.  That... was more than just fingers, wasn't it?

"Is that... your arm?" she asked.

"Mmm, yes," the alien replied.  "My third arm, as they say...."

Eve frowned.   What did that mean?  But the girl grasped her more tightly, and something penetrating deeper.  She cried out as a wave of pleasure overtook her.

When it was over, Eve lay on the bed, exhausted, trying to process what had happened.  She could not deny that it had felt wonderful, and yet... so very different from her time with Amaryllis.  What had penetrated her?  Surely not just a hand, a fist....

The alien girl stood and dressed.  "Feed my young well," she said.  "Earth girls are so easy...."

Confusion flooded Eve's face.  What the quasar did that mean?


"You have been impregnated," Valerie 9000 said.

Eve lay on the exam table, still completely confused.  "But... she was a girl...."

"She was an alien," the A.I. replied.  "Do you even know what kind?"

Standing nearby, Muriel sighed.  "Warn you I did," she muttered.

"So... I'm pregnant?" Eve asked again.

"You are impregnated, as I said," Val 9000 replied.  "There is a difference.  She was a Space Babe agent, yes?  Good.  What was her name, and what species?"

Eve looked frightened.  "I... I didn't get her name," she said.  "She had horns, and black skin, and pure red eyes, and spine-like hair...."

Images of at least a hundred alien women appeared on the wall.  "Look carefully," said Val 9000.  "It is imperative that we know what we're dealing with...."

Eve studied the images, finally pointing to one.  "That's her," she said.  "I'm certain of it."

"That would be Agent Ch'k'ta," said Valerie 9000.  "She is a member of an insectoid species called the Arkoth'pard.  Like Muriel, they are an asexual species.  Unlike Muriel, they impregnate other beings with their young...."

"But," said Eve, "she was a girl...."

"Oola," said Muriel, shaking her head.

"Well," said Valerie 9000, "the good news is that the gestation period is only four weeks."

"And the bad news?" Eve asked.

"Once mature, the young eat their way out of the host's body," Valerie 9000 said.

Eve's eyes grew very wide.  "Well, screw that!" she shouted.  "Take them out of me!"

"It's not that simple, Eve," Valerie 9000 said.  "These are not human fetuses -- they are Arkoth'pard young.  Once planted within the host they have rights that are protected by Eieio (pronounced EE-Yow) Empire treaties.  To remove them now would be murder."

"Leaving them in means my murder!" Eve exclaimed.

"Oola, Eve," said Muriel.  "Two deaths this month already you have had...."


Eve Jaskuksi lay on her bunk and stared up at the image of Sally Stardust, just as she'd done for two days straight.

She placed a hand on her stomach.  She'd been given a new body, of course, one without alien parasites ready to rip their way out.  Her other body -- now rendered brain dead, but still kept alive to protect the parasite children -- lay in an incubation room in another part of the station.  They were preparing to ship it back to the Arkoth'pard home world, where it would soon be consumed from within.  But if she lay like this, with her hand over her middle, she could feel them wriggling around inside.

The sensation made her ill, and yet she couldn't stop thinking of it.  Nor could she stop staring at that image of her dream girl on the underside of the top bunk.

Sally Stardust isn't real.  The thought ran through her head.  Of course, she'd always known that, but somehow she'd convinced herself that she could bridge the gap between reality and fiction, that there was an alien girl for her out there somewhere that would satisfy her juvenile desires.  It was, she supposed, part of an unwillingness to give up her childhood.

Now what?  She had never particularly wanted to be female -- it had simply been a means to pursue a dream.  But that dream had proved childish and ultimately impossible to attain.  Now that it lay shattered, what did she want to do with her life?  Her contract with the Space Babes was for three years.  There was still the desire for space exploration -- but several months aboard a space station with little to do had dulled that dream a bit.

"Eve?"  The voice was that of Valerie 9000.  "You have a visitor."

For a moment the words failed to penetrate, then Eve's brow furrowed.  A visitor?  Who could that possibly be?  No ships had arrived that she knew of, so that only left people coming from earth via the dimensional gateway -- but who on earth would come to visit?

Eve padded down the hallway and into a waiting room, where she found a girl with lavender hair and violet eyes wearing brown boots and a rough cotton peasant dress of blue, with a laced corset bodice of black.

"Amaryllis?" Eve exclaimed in surprise.  "What are you doing here?"

They embraced, and Amaryllis gave her a passionate kiss.  "A little bird told me that you were feeling down," she said.  "I was hoping I could cheer you up."

Eve's eyes narrowed.  "Would this bird happen to be named Muriel?" she asked.

Amaryllis giggled.  "She seems like a good friend, Eve," she said.  "She was very concerned for you.  She even stayed behind on station Amethyst, so that you and I could be alone...."

She paused, then reached up to Eve's forehead.  "Oh!  Your antennae?  What happened to them?"

Eve laughed.  "They... didn't serve any purpose," she said.  "I got rid of them."

"But your eyes are still the deepest blue," said Amaryllis.  "Like crystal pools hidden in the forest... I love your eyes."

"So do I," said Eve.  "I've decided to keep those.  And the green hair."

"Show me around this station of yours," said Amaryllis.  "I saw some of station Amethyst, but it is very different from this...."

Eve took the fairy girl's hand in hers.  "Oh, I'll give you the grand tour," she said.  "I'll show you everything.  The view of earth from space is amazing!"

But not the incubation chamber where her lifeless other body lay, Eve added silently.  That had been a mistake, which she never wanted to think about again.

And as for the poster above her bed?   Perhaps she would finally replace it with a photo of a real person... one with elf ears, violet eyes, and lavender hair....


Monday, February 17, 2020

Going Home

Going Home
Mark A Davis

Eve the Explorer lay on a couch of pink fur.  She stared up into the bright white ceiling of S.I.S.B. space station Terra and said, "I can never go home."

"Pardon?"  The smooth, soft, feminine voice was that of Valerie 9000 -- the station's A.I., and in fact the A.I. for the entire Society of Intergalactic Space Babes.  "Did you not visit the home of your parents two weeks ago?"

"Sure," said Eve.  "What I meant was... look, are you familiar with the Wizard of Oz?" asked Eve.  Auburn hair framed her face.  She was dressed in the Space Babes uniform -- a silver bikini,  with silver go-go boots and a belt with a holstered blaster.

"Of course," said the A.I.  "Both the movies and the books."

"I've only seen the movie," said Eve.  "Dorothy goes on a fantastic adventure.  She learns to stand up for herself, and she triumphs over evil.  She makes new friends.  And we're supposed to believe that she wants to go back to Kansas?  To KansasThere's no place like home, Glinda says -- but the truth is there's no place like Oz.   There are a lot of places like Kansas, if you ask me.

"More importantly, Dorothy has been on a grand adventure and she's changed.  She can never go back to being a simple Kansas farm girl again.  The truth is that you can never go home."

"I will assume that you are speaking metaphorically," said Val 9000.

"Yes," said Eve.  "That's the very definition of growing up, don't you think?"

"It may surprise you to know that, in the books by Frank Baum, Dorothy eventually returns to Oz permanently," said Valerie 9000.

"Really?" Eve asked.  "Well, it makes sense.  It's just like Alice In Wonderland said:  I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.  That's wisdom."

"It is an old sentiment," Valerie 9000 replied.  "Veterans of war discover the same when they return home.  Novelists like Thomas Wolfe and Marcel Proust have written about it.  The past of your memory is frozen in time, while the world is ever-changing.  Attempts to return to the world of your youth are doomed to failure.

"However," said Valerie 9000.  "As to my question...."

"All of this reminds me of Donna Noble," interrupted Eve.  She rolled off the couch, kicked off her boots, and began to strip.

The computer sighed.  "Are we speaking of the fictional character from the British television series Doctor Who?"

"Right!" said Eve.  "She was the Doctor's companion, and she saved all of creation by absorbing some of the Doctor's power.  However, this threatened her life -- the human mind was not built to deal with such knowledge and power.  To save her, the Doctor erased her memory.  She forgot everything about him, and the adventures they'd shared.

"In a way, she's the only companion who got to go back home.  She literally became the person she'd been at the beginning.  She had a nice life -- got married, won the lottery.  But it was the worst ending.  Who wants to forget such fantastic adventures?"

As she spoke, Eve wandered, naked, into another room.  A regen chamber sat in the center of it -- a long tube of steel and glass, filled with a green-blue liquid.  It was tilted about sixty degrees, with an opening in the top.  Eve continued to speak as she climbed inside.

  "I've been thinking about this a lot," said Eve.  "I was Grandpa Anarchy's sidekick, and we traveled into space.  I was living the Buck Rogers dream.  Then I got transformed into a woman by some alien god.  I was upset, but the Eieio (pronounced EE-Yow) Empire has the tech to switch me back easily.  Except I joined the Society of Intergalactic Space Babes instead, so that I stay in space and have more adventures.

"I can return to the old me after my three year contract is up," she said.  "Or can I?  That the thing, isn't it?  I'm a different person from who I was.  I'm no longer sure if I prefer being male or female.  That," said Eve, "is what I mean when I say I can never go home again."

"Understood," said Valerie 9000.  "But all that I asked was if you were certain that you want angel's wings, demon's horns, and aqua seafoam hair?"

Eve shrugged.  "Sure, why not?" she said.  As the regen chamber's lid began to close, she added, "I can always change it back later, right?"


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Hero Lunch: Tony's Diner

Hero Lunch:  Tony's Diner
Mark A Davis

John Blume was Boy Secretary -- a young man who dressed in women's clothes and worked as a secretary for one of the best-known supergroups in the world, The New League of Two-Fisted Justice.  He manned the front desk of their fancy new headquarters in New York.  Once upon a time he had been a sidekick to Grandpa Anarchy, known then as Boy Waitress, but while he kept in shape and knew some martial arts, he'd never had super powers.  These days he was just a man in a dress with a fancy name.  The job did come with some perks, however -- he knew some of the world's most powerful heroes on a first-name basis, and he even had his own trading card, part of the Sonny's Collectibles Sidekicks of Grandpa Anarchy line of cards.

Mind you, some very marginal heroes with extremely questionable powers were included in that card set.  Boy Secretary's was one.  Still, it was pretty neat.  He had the card framed on his wall at home.

John had a neatly-trimmed beard and long blonde hair in twin braids that fell past his shoulders.  Today he was wearing a blue dress with a sailor collar, white tights and black Mary Janes.  He glanced up from his desk as someone in green and white power armor flew down and landed in front of the building.  Circuit Girl entered and made her way to the elevators.  "Good day, Miss Circuit Girl," he said with a smile.  "Saved the world again?"

"I wish," the young woman replied.  "I spent the entire morning dealing with the mayor.  There have been more complaints about our saucers making too much noise at night.  I told him crime knows not day or night...."

"This sounds like something Grandpa Anarchy or Dark Dr. Dark should be dealing with," Boy Secretary noted.  "They are co-leaders of the group, are they not?"

Circuit Girl smirked.  "In this group, being leader means avoiding as much responsibility as possible.  Say, what are you doing for lunch?"

"No idea," said Boy Secretary.  "I forgot to bring anything...."

"Have you ever eaten at Tony's Diner?" the heroine asked.

"I don't think so," Boy Secretary replied.  "Is that nearby?"

"It's... quite a hike, I guess you'd say," she replied.  "It's on Lavender Avenue, right in front of the palace."

The boy's forehead wrinkled.  "Um... Lavender Avenue?  Palace?"

The girl grinned.  "Just come with me, and you'll see," she said.  "Lunch is on me."

Circuit Girl led the boy upstairs, where she changed into her regular costume.  She led him through several security checks and to a room with a large dimensional portal.  This was a a giant circle of carved metal, with a ramp leading up to it.  Strange symbols marked the outer perimeter of the circle at regular intervals.  It was like a large alien clock without hands.  The center was a liquid surface of pure aqua blue, as if it was a wishing well on its side.  It hummed like an electric generator.

Boy Secretary stared in wonder.  "Wow," he said.  "I've never used the gateway before."

"It's perfectly safe," Circuit Girl replied.  "We use it all the time."

"This diner isn't in New York?" he asked.

"Not even close," Circuit Girl replied.  She set the coordinates, and the two stepped through.

They found themselves in a futuristic room with smooth white walls and a similar gateway.  The walls vibrated softly.  The floor was rubber tile.  Circuit Girl led him out of the room and down a hallway.  They passed a window, which Circuit Girl pointed out.  Boy Secretary glanced out and came to a full stop.  What he saw outside was a starry field of black with a green-blue earth below them, partly in darkness.

"Oh my stars!  We're in space?" he exclaimed.  "It's... beautiful!"

At the same moment, a young woman in a silver bikini and go-go boots appeared at the far end of the hallway.   She had auburn hair and wore a belt with a holstered blaster.  A pleasant, disembodied female voice said, "Welcome to S.I.S.B. Space Station Terra.  My name is Valerie 9000.  Please feel free to ask me anything."

"Oh, hey!  Circuit Girl!" the girl in the bikini exclaimed, approaching.  "Who's your friend?"

"Eve, this is Boy Secretary,  who is our secretary at the New League of Two-Fisted Justice headquarters," Circuit Girl replied.  "Boy Secretary, this is Eve the Explorer.  She's a member of the Society of Intergalactic Space Babes, and has been manning this station for the last few months."

Belatedly, Boy Secretary noted Eve's S.I.S.B. belt buckle.

  "We were headed to Tony's Diner for lunch," Circuit Girl added.

"Oh wow, really?" Eve exclaimed.  "I've never been.  Can I come with you?"

"Of course you can!" Circuit Girl replied.

The trio went down the corridor and into another room with a gateway much like the other.  "That other is the local gateway," Eve said.  "It's mostly used to pop down to earth, and to stay in contact with the League, and the Archons, and the Black Moon Maidens.  There's an interstellar gateway as well, but this one is specifically for transport to another station in another dimension."

"Wait.  Another dimension?" Boy Secretary asked, coming to a halt.

"Don't worry, it's as simple as stepping through the portal," Circuit Girl said.

They stepped through.  They appeared in a room that was broadly similar to the one they'd left -- with a gateway and an ramp leading up to it -- but it was also quite different.  The walls were wood and polished brass, with rivets and pipes and dials everywhere one looked.  The gateway itself was somehow more ancient and more imposing, a massive device of steel and brass and copper wire and moving parts, although clearly it performed exactly the same function as its futuristic counterpart.

"Wow.  This looks very different," Boy Secretary said.  There was even music playing -- the sounds of a string quartet.

A female automaton in a flowing silver gown awaited them.  "Welcome to S.I.S.B. Space Station Amethyst," she said.  "My name is Valerie 1895.  Circuit Girl I know, and I've met the lovely lady Eve.  This lovely man in the fetching blue dress can be none other than Boy Secretary, whom I have never met.  Again, welcome."

"Amethyst?"  Boy Secretary's face scrunched up.  "I think I've heard of that... it's a fairyland, right?"

"That is correct," said Valerie 1895.  "Grandpa Anarchy and the S.I.S.B. helped repel an invasion of Amethyst from space, after which this station was built to help patrol the stars above the fairyland and protect it.  I run the entire station -- I am, of course, a copy of Valerie 9000, adapted for a more steampunk setting.  As you might imagine, modern technology does not fare well in a magic-based fantasy setting.  The more steampunk our technology appears to be, the better it works, strangely enough.  Which is of course why I was given a physical, automaton body."

"I see," said Boy Secretary.  "Well, it's nice to meet you."

"What can I do for you three today?" the automaton asked.

"We came to have lunch at Tony's Diner," Circuit Girl said.

"I see.  Step this way, please."

The automaton led them past thick glass portholes and to yet another room with a gateway.  Along the way Boy Secretary saw several generic Space Babe automatons seated at desks or standing before terminals and work stations.

One final trip through a portal brought them to a room of marble and wall tapestries.  Zombies in armor stood at attention, looking at nothing in particular.  The reek of death was present, although not overpowering.  Boy Secretary wrinkled his nose.

"The Amethyst gateway is in in the palace of the Necromancer King -- unfortunately," Circuit Girl said.  "Come, I'll show you the way.

She led them out of the palace, across a square, and through tall golden gates, also guarded by zombie soldiers.  They stepped onto a wide cobble road.  Jeweled spires and domes arose around them, with colorful violet flags flapping in the breeze.  They passed a wide square with stalls filled with merchandise lined up along the walls, with throngs of people in colorful clothing.  Many of them wore things that seemed folkish or of a style more than a century old, with many tall, broad-brimmed hats with buckles on top, breeches, and women in full skirts that brushed the ground.  But there was no time to explore -- Circuit Girl led the group to a place where stood a long silver diner car -- just like those one might have seen in the Northeastern U.S. in the 1930's or 1940's.  It resembles a sleek aluminum rail car, with a long counter inside fronted by round silver stools with red leather seats, and by booths with red leather seating on the other side.

The place was busy but not too crowed.  The three found a booth and were barely seated when a waitress appeared.  This was a young tiger girl, with a catlike face, pointed ears, and orange fur with black stripes.  She wore a red dress with a white apron over it.

"Circuit Girl, welcome back!  What can I get ya?" she asked, in imitation of a Jersey accent.  She handed each a menu.

"We'd like time to decide, Katherine," Circuit Girl said.  "This is the first time here for my two friends."

"Take alla time you like!" the waitress exclaimed.  She disappeared, returning with glasses of water and napkins and utensils.  She poured coffee for each of them.

Boy Secretary was still taking in the diner.  There was a clock on the wall with the logo for the New York Giants on it, and also a Yankees banner on the wall.  There was circular glass case filled with cakes and pies.  The menu was exactly what one might expect from a diner in New Jersey or New York -- lots of fried food, with burgers, fries, and grilled sandwiches dominating.

The man at the grill turned out to be Tony himself -- a jovial, portly man in a white tee shirt and stained apron.  He saw Circuit Girl and called out to her.  "Hey there, Circuit Girl, Darlin'!" he exclaimed.  "Ain'tchoo gonna introduce mes to yer beautiful friends?"

"Hey, Tony," she replied.  "This is Boy Secretary, who mans the front desk at our supergroup headquarters, and this lady is Eve the Explorer, who is a member of the Society of Intergalactic Space Babes and runs their station Terra above earth."

"Youse both looks lovely today," Tony said with a smile.

"Why is there a New Jersey diner in the middle of a fairyland like Amethyst?" Boy Secretary asked.

"Well," said Tony, "that's a funny story.  I usedta owns a diner like this ones in Jersey, but one day this tornado comes along and carrys it away.  Grandpa Anarchy and Unpossible Man were there, and we all winds up here in this here Amethyst fairyland.  After a bunch of adventures, that there Necromancer King asks me to stay as his personal fry cook -- see, he was dependin' on zombies to cooks for him before that, and I ain'ts gotta tell youse what a disaster that was."

Boy Secretary blanched at the thought.  "I can imagine," he said.

"Well one things leads to another, I get Mildred to come here, and heres we are," Tony said.  "I'm the official cook o' the palace, but I also runs this here diner durings the day."

Katherine returned to their table.  "Decide on what you want yet?" she asked.

"I think," said Boy Secretary, "that I'll have the grilled veggie sandwich, with fresh fruit...."

Tony made a face.  "That ain't real food," he growled.  "That's only ons there 'cause that Princess Amethyst insisted."

"And it's what I'm ordering," Boy Secretary replied.  "It's on the menu, after all."

"Yeah, yeah," said the cook.  "I'll makes it, but I won't likes it."

"The turkey cheese steak for me," Circuit Girl said.  "What about you, Eve?"

"I'll have the mac 'n' cheese burger!" Eve exclaimed hungrily.

"Coming right up!" Tony called out.  "Don't forgets to saves room for dessert!  My Mildred makes the best pecan pie in alla Amethyst!"

"I would suspect," said Circuit Girl, "that she makes the only pecan pie in all of Amethyst."

"Dat's true," Tony agreed.  "But trust me, it's really good!"

The food was excellent -- even the grilled veggie sandwich that Tony was so loathe to make.  For dessert Boy Secretary ignored the pecan pie and instead picked a cake made with fairyberries and lavender zuna seeds, which were as small as poppy seeds but added an incredible flavor to the cake.  "After all," Boy Secretary reasoned, "it would be a waste to travel all this way for lunch and just eat food that I might easily find back home in New York."

By this time Tony's wife Mildred had shown up.  She was a round, smiling woman who, it turned out, was from Kansas City originally.  She liked living in Amethyst, and retold the story of their arrival from her point of view.

"So one day a tornado comes along and picks up the diner and carries it away.  I thought my poor Tony was a goner.  They never found a body, of course.  Turns out he was in fairyland having adventures with Grandpa Anarchy, who knew?  I found out weeks later when this Necromancer King shows up on my doorstep with Tony in tow.  We barely had time to sell the house before he whisked us away to his kingdom.  But you know, it's all right.  You don't age here unless you want to -- you gotta like that!  Of course, I was already 46 when I got here -- you think they coulda found me when I was 25 maybe?"

"Mildred was a beauty whens she was 25," said Tony.

His wife scowled.  "You saying I ain't beautiful now, Old Man?"

"Nah, youse is still beautiful," Tony said, his face flushing red.  "I loves ya Babe, youse knows that.  I'm just saying...."

Mildred laughed.  "He's so easy to tease," she said.  "That's what I love about him.  That, and he does most of the cooking.  By the way, did he tell you about his magical frying pan?"

"More than once," Eve replied.

Boy Secretary checked his watch.  "It's getting late," he said.  "We've already been gone two hours...."

"Relax," said Circuit Girl.  "Time flows differently between dimensions.  We take our time and still get back to New York an hour after we left, no problem.  That's the other reason I love coming here -- apart from the food.  I still say Tony runs the best diner on two worlds.  We'll even stop in to see my brother before returning, he'd kill me if we didn't...."

"It's certainly been the most unusual lunch break I've ever experienced," Boy Secretary said.  "Or ever will experience, I suspect."

There was a twinkle in Circuit Girl's eye.  "You've never been to the Slice of Time Bar and Grill, have you?" she asked.

"Um... no?" replied Boy Secretary.

"A brontosaurus burger might change your mind," she said.

The door to the diner slammed open and a young boy in purple knee britches and a matching waistcoat with bright brass buttons charged in.  "Circuit Girl, Circuit Girl!" he exclaimed.  "Come quick!"

"Alisto?"  Circuit Girl stood. "What is it?"

"My sister Annaballa has been kidnapped by Wicked Eustace of the Barren Pines!  She said she was gonna transform her into a Wooly Willow tree!"

"Oh, my goodness!" exclaimed Mildred.  "The poor girl!"

"But... transform her into a tree?"  Boy Secretary frowned.  "Why would she do that?"

"I don't know," the boy said.  "She's a wicked witch!  That's the kind of thing they do!  You're a hero, Circuit Girl, you've got to save her!"

"I have a spare power suit in the palace..." Circuit Girl said.  She glanced at her two companions.  "I can do this, and we'll still get back in time.  You don't mind waiting for me, do you?"

"Wait for you?" Eve said, brandishing her gun.  "What are you talking about?  We're both heroes, too -- we're coming with you!"


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Ballroom Blitz

Ballroom Blitz
Mark A Davis

Eve Jaskulski stared at herself in the mirror -- beautiful young girl with lavender hair in a shimmering, strapless, full-skirted gown of metallic purple.  Above her hovered a holovid drone.  In keeping with the fantasy theme of the fairyland of Amethyst, the drone was appropriately steampunk in appearance.

"Another princess dress," she said, disapprovingly.  "Yay."

"Oola!  The King of Throga, in courtesy, once a month, we do get," said her companion Muriel.  "And other outfits two more as well."  Her partner was an alien girl with green skin and blue hair.  She wore a creme-colored dress.

"Yes, I know," said Eve.  "You and I, and Lucci and Sashi, for saving him from assassins.  I suppose I can deal with wearing a fancy dress three times a month -- and we finally get to visit another world, so I'm not complaining, mind you -- but I didn't join the space babes in order to attend fancy balls."

She glanced down at the gun in her hand -- not the sleek laser pistol she normally carried, but something out of an H.G. Wells-inspired steampunk fantasy.  It had a polished wooden handle, coiled brass tubing, and a glass chamber filled with greenish-yellow liquid, like the vials of a carpenter's level.

"Does this thing even work?" she wondered aloud.

Muriel eyed the weapon.  "This device, you got where?" she demanded.  "Oola!  Commander's orders, heard you not?  Earth mating rituals to enjoy here we are to do.  Official mission this is!  Weapons allowed not, fighting allowed not, no circumstances are we to be involved in!"

"Yes, but..." Eve began.  "Wait... mating rituals?"

"Reason for this know you," said Muriel.  "To the king and queen of Throga, our first holovid, merely wearing new dresses did not show -- destroying them it also shows!"

"It was an emergency!" Eve exclaimed.  "Roquinnian Arachnoids had invaded the station!  We didn't have time to change!  "Also," she added after a second, "trying to parse your sentences is giving me a headache...."

"Oola, truth this is," said Muriel.  "But pleased, the king and queen were not.  In excrement soaked, our second gowns were...."

"We were teleported straight from a New York ballroom to the underground sewers!" Eve nearly shouted.  "It was an attack from Doctor Totengräber!  How is that our fault?"

"Assignment of blame, to do I try not," said Muriel.  "Truth only I state.  Five dresses presented from the king, destroyed you and I have, on holovid captured, to see they did.  For the S.I.S.B. Throga an important client is.  To anger them further, wish we do not."

It was true.  As a reward the king had provided them both with three outfits a month, including one fancy ball gown.  In five months, they had managed to destroy all five gowns.  But it wasn't their fault!  Wherever they were, things just seemed to happen.

"Yes, obviously," said Eve, "although I don't recall him complaining about the treatment of our gowns when we were saving his froggy ass...."

"Oola, Eve...." Muriel began.

"Plus we've established a space station above the fairyland of Amethyst for some reason...."  Eve held up a hand to forestall Muriel's reply.  "Yes, I know the reason!  We stopped an invasion from space, and now the Necromancer King is an ally, and his adopted daughter Princess Amethyst wants to host a fancy ball, and we're supposed to dance with princes and be demure and pretty and gracious and not cause trouble and this is not what I joined the space babes for!"

Muriel held out her hand.  "Oola.  Please to hand weapon?" she asked.

"Halt right there!"  a voice barked.  "Down with the Necromancer King!  Long live the revolution!"  A strange wooden soldier with no head marched stiffly into the room.  "You two are hostages of the Revolutionary Guard of...."

Eve aimed and fired.  Green energy shot out, vaporizing the soldier into a pile of sawdust.  "What do you know?" she said.  "It really works!"

Muriel scowled, hand still held out.

"Oh, come on!" protested Eve.  "He was a revolutionary!  He was trying to overthrow the king!"

Muriel said nothing.  After a few more moments, Eve sighed.  She handed over the gun.  "Fine," she said.  "I'll be a good girl.  I won't attack anyone."

A tall, muscular man in white military uniform appeared in the doorway.  "Miss Eve?" he said.  "My name is Prince Harry of Aquamarine.  I'm to be your date for this evening."

"Why Prince Harry," said Eve, extending her hand.  "My name is Eve.  It's a pleasure to meet you!"


Eve and Muriel watched as the holovid played.  Headless wooden soldiers ran rampant through the ballroom crowd.  Princes brandished swords.  Zombie soldiers wielded halberds.  In one corner of the room, Eve and Muriel could be seen eating hors d'oeuvres and calmly watching the chaos in the room.

Across a work surface from them sat Captain Alice -- their direct superior in the Space Babes.  As with all space babes she was a young woman, perhaps nineteen, with dark skin and curly black hair, dressed in a silver bikini and go-go boots, with a belt and holstered blaster.  If one looked closely however, the left strap of her bikini held four stripes.

"I don't understand," said Eve.  "I was good.  I didn't attack anybody.  The Necromancer King's soldiers regained control all on their own.  Our dresses weren't harmed in the least.  Isn't that what you wanted?  So what's the problem now?"

"Although pleased that the dresses were not ruined," said Captain Alice, "King Karoat of Throga was very disappointed that space babe operatives stood by and did nothing during a melee...."

Eve threw up her hands.  "Really?  Really?  How are we supposed to respond to combat situations and keep floor-length ballgowns completely pristine?"

"Throga is a very important client..." Captain Alice began.

"You'd have to retroactively edit the holovid," said Eve, "and provide us with duplicate gowns that we could appear in afterwards...."

Her voice trailed off as she saw the glint in the captain's eye.  "Crap," she said.  "We're getting two gowns a month, aren't we?  One paid for by Throga, and duplicates paid for by the S.I.S.B."

"Oola," said Muriel.

Captain Alice smiled and said, "Why, how very perceptive of you, Agent Eve!"