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!"