My knees vanished into the mouth-like opening of the creature below me with a sickening wet sound, sucked like a lollipop into its ball-shaped body that lay buried and hidden beneath the floor of the cave. The ‘lips’ of the orifice conformed around my legs, and undulated slowly in an attempt to draw me in further.
“Shit!” I cursed, trying again in vain to free myself from the warm organism. A seemingly infinite number of smaller tendrils were wound around my ankles and calves, holding me quite firmly. I was tempted to reach in and try to free myself, but I seriously doubted I could do so without being even further trapped, and right then I needed both hands braced against the top of the creature to keep myself from being sucked in deeper.
Where the hell was Michael?
I glanced over to my left at a second pod-like creature, and the final member of our makeshift exploration party, Kendra. The golden-haired girl was in almost up to her shoulders. I could tell that her sinking had slowed a bit, but it hardly mattered. Once her arms had been trapped, she was helpless. The sounds of her screams and pleading for help had ceased quite a bit ago. Now, instead of panic and fear, she simply shivered and gasped as the alien plant slowly consumed her… and me as well.
About five minutes earlier, something about the girl’s cries had changed as she was slowly pulled downward, and for a short time her struggles increased dramatically. I had asked her what was going on, but she was in a panic. When her head went back and she cried out, I thought that perhaps the plant was finally digesting her and my heart skipped a beat. But something wasn’t right. Her face had looked pained, but her short gasps didn’t match her expression… And then I knew.
Once, I had come home early from an engineering class and found my roommate having a very intimate ‘study session’ with a boy from her astrophysics class. I checked myself at the bedroom door before they noticed me, and then stole a few envious looks just as the pair found themselves most distracted. She was astraddle her classmate, head back, eyes closed, her face looking very much as it did now, in the cave. The alien organism Kendra was up to her shoulders in wasn’t eating her, at least not yet… It was fucking her.
I’m pretty sure she had yet another orgasm just as the lips of the mouth-like opening started to close over her shoulders settling around her neck. Her whole body seemed to shake and jerk, her cries of ecstasy repeating back through the halls and open space of the cavern. I was stunned at the intensity of her moment, and swallowed hard, realizing that I was destined to the same experience if I couldn’t find a way to free myself. The wet coils of warm plant flesh wrapped around my legs pulled at me, as though in hungry anticipation.
Only a moment passed before Kendra launched into a repeated moment of bliss, and a few seconds or so after that, a third. She really never came down after that, as though the alien’s rape was unceasing, and utterly irresistible. I watched in horror as she continued to ease into the opening, and nearly started sobbing myself when a pair of clear tendrils slipped from of the pore opening and slithered up her neck and face. Kendra momentarily came out of her dizzy daze of pleasure when the tubes continued up into her nostrils, causing her to gag and toss her head back and forth. A third larger tendril sealed the deal and moved into her mouth, effectively blocking her ability to breathe. I saw her panic, and shake violently as she fought for air, her head finally starting to ease into the mouth of the creature. And then, somewhat abruptly, she seemed to relax, not choking into unconsciousness from lack of oxygen as I expected, but rather still breathing somehow, even as her face resumed its expression of pained pleasure. I frowned, understanding that the alien life form was feeding her need to breathe, keeping her alive as it brought her quivering body within itself, the implication clear. Kendra’s rape would go on and on for as long as the plant could keep her alive. Conscious and helpless, she would be stimulated into oblivion.
With a new sense of dread, I watched the girl’s eyes flutter, shuddering into what was obviously another long orgasm… and then she was gone. The lips closed together and sealed at the top of the creature, completely cutting her off from the world above, and almost certainly any chance of rescue.
And I knew that I was being drawn down into the same fate…
::12 hours earlier::
“Michael, where the hell are you taking us?” I asked, as I reached the top of another rise. The ‘path’ we were following through the jungle was more virtual than actual, my data pad indicating that we were somewhere about 15 kilometers beyond Avalon’s last defense boundary and ‘on track’.
“I told you, it’s a surprise. Don’t you trust me?” he replied, leaning on his walking stick.
“No,” I answered in perfect unison with Kendra, who was taking up the rear.
“Oh, that’s not fair… I go to all this trouble to arrange a wondrous journey for my good friends,” he exclaimed with mock exuberance, “and this is how you thank me?”
“So far, the only thing I’m ‘wondering’ about is how much longer we have to fight our way through this crap.” I sliced through a large flat leaf with my machete so that we could pass.
“It’s not much further, really.”
“You said that twenty minutes ago,” commented Kendra.
“Well, technically, it was true then too…” he replied, somewhat meekly.
“Come a little closer. I’m going to take that high-tech cane and beat you over the head with it.”
He looked down at the walking aid. “What? You don’t like my smart stick?”
“It’s overkill, bio-boy. Just another bit of tech you start relying on in place of good-ol’ muscles.” The girl lifted her bent arm to show her pumped bicep. Kendra was easily the most active of the three of us, and flaunted the fact regularly.
“Nah, I think you’re just jealous,” he retorted. “I mean, how can you not like a device that has automatic terrain adjustment and power assist, doubles as a flashlight, a hydraulic lift, and a reach extender? It even has built-in stabilization… Check it out.”
He let go of the smart stick, and it stood there, magically balancing all on its own.
“All that, and it only weighs two and a half ounces, and compresses down to a mere fifteen centimeters.”
“It’s a toy. Does it have a built in air conditioner? That I could use.” She wiped the perspiration from her forehead.
“Come on, it’s a great hike; wonderful views, the weather is fantastic…”
“So long as ‘hot and sweaty’ is your favorite type of weather.”
The man chuckled. “You don’t like it hot and sweaty, Kay?” He teased.
She picked it right up. “I like it just fine, preferably in a comfortable bed with a shower handy for after.”
He laughed, and so did I. My roommate was well known for her libido.
“So does this wondrous place have anything to do with your doctorate?” she asked.
“Perhaps…” he acknowledged, reservedly. “Let’s just say that if I’m correct, then quite a few accepted ideas about the plant life on this planet are going to have to be rethought.”
“Oh yeah? No hints for your good friends?”
“Forget it,” I shot back. “He wouldn’t even tell me what’s in the packs we’re carrying.”
Kendra wasn’t bothered. “Hey, I heard that there’s a flower that produces an aphrodisiac so powerful that no human can resist it… that the original team that found it just started fucking each other silly and couldn’t stop until they passed out from exhaustion.”
“Uh… Nymphlet Fern. It’s restricted to the southern continent, like the rest of the Class 4 exotics…” he answered.
“Oop. Sorry if that triggers bad memories,” she stated, regretfully.
“No problem. The nightmares stopped quite a while back. But that place is dangerous. It’s under full military quarantine. It would be very bad for the colony if those plant species were able to somehow hop the ocean and spread north. Even the er, ferns…”
She snorted. “Too bad. Could have been a lot of fun.”
Michael and I both turned and looked at her. My lover quickly grinned, thinking about it, but was silent.
“Then again,” she continued, “we need you as our guide. Wouldn’t want to have to carry you home.”
“You don’t think I can handle both of you at the same time?” he quipped, as we stopped for a moment and caught our breath.
She looked amused. “Hmm. Maybe we should find out…”
“Maybe we should stop giving my boyfriend fantasies that he’s never going to get the chance to fulfill,” I interrupted, eying them both. I checked my data pad. “Our ‘destination’ should be just at the bottom of this gully. Care to take the lead, lover?” I wasn’t completely insecure, but I wanted to put a buffer between the man and my catty roommate.
“As you wish,” he retorted dramatically, and started down the steep embankment. Kendra turned and grinned, wagging her eyebrows at me. I knew she would never intentionally try to steal Michael away from me, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t serious about us doubling up on the guy. She was a true nymphomaniac… clinical, and just the kind of girl that Marhead Corporate loved to send to outposts like ours. Oh, she’d be safe from pregnancy until she finished college, but after that, the company would fully expect her to add to the general population as many times as she could handle. She didn’t even have to raise the little buggers (the company also sent plenty of creche specialists). But fertile, eager young lasses were more valuable than a whole ship’s worth of supplies. Moving goods was easy. Convincing actual people to move to dangerous new worlds, not so much.
The large cave opening had a small stream of water flowing from its wide entrance, and was partially hidden by the lush jungle vegetation. Maybe it was the cool, damp environment, but the number of flowers that seemed to congregate around the mouth of the cave made the whole thing look like a literal Garden of Eden.
“So, did I deliver or what?” said the man setting down his pack, smiling.
“I have to admit, Michael, it’s absolutely beautiful.” My own pack leaning against the opening, I was staring wide-eyed at the paradise before us. Kendra already had her shoes off and was playing in the stream.
“This feels SO good. It’s cold!” she commented, as she waded up to her knees. “Is it drinkable?”
“Should be about the cleanest water for fifty kilometers. It comes right from the aquifer,” he replied, dipping a cup into the stream for a sip. My roommate just scooped her hands down and lifted the coolness up to her face like a plate, repeating the process several times until her thirst was slaked. About half of the water dripped down her body and onto the front of her shirt. I realized too late that this must have been intentional, as the light cotton tank-top soaked up the liquid and became instantly semi-transparent. Kendra had never liked bras, and her breasts were firm enough that she didn’t need them most of the time. Her shirt was now plastered to her torso, leaving very little to the imagination.
“Uh…” stuttered Michael, noticing her.
I just rolled my eyes as she nonchalantly glanced down at herself and exclaimed in mock surprise.
“Oopsie!” she giggled and then pushed out her chest. “Sure you don’t want to reconsider that threesome?” she asked the man in a half-kidding way.
“Kendra…” I sighed.
“Okay, okay. You can’t blame a horny girl for trying, can you? So, what’s the plan, anyway?”
Michael held up a finger and then went to his pack. “As lovely as this little oasis is, the real beauty is still to come.”
“Oh? How’s that?” I asked.
He turned his finger sideways and pointed into the cave.
“What? In there?”
“Indeed. Check your packs, girls, because we’re going…”
“Spelunking!” cheered my blonde roommate, clapping.
I was a little concerned, being so far from civilization and help if something went wrong, but if Michael had done this before…
A half hour later we had left our larger packs for smaller ones and some more specific gear. Aside from general hiking and emergency kits, we had lights, ropes, and climbing gear. There was even a set of rebreathers, though I seriously hoped we didn’t need to do any diving. Going underground was making me nervous enough.
Michael had us leave most of the gear in the packs until we needed it, but we put on boots and headlamps for the initial trek in.
“How big is this cave, anyway?” asked Kendra once we had left the light of day behind. Michael was leading, with my roommate taking up her normal position at the end.
“Well, I’ve only mapped a few kilometers, but I think it’s quite a bit larger.”
“Kilometers!?” I repeated, stunned. “Michael, that’s enormous!”
“Actually, the planet is riddled with caves, many over a hundred kilometers total. The bedrock is solid on this continent, and there are large amounts of underground water that changes levels with the season. We’re in a declining ‘tide’ right now, so we should be safe, but this whole collection of tunnels could very well be completely underwater during the winter months.”
Once we started into the deeper passages, most of our conversation diminished into general instructions such as, ‘watch your head through here,’ or ‘bend down and twist your hips sideways to squeeze through.” It wasn’t for lack of things to talk about. Everywhere you looked was some amazing rock formation or crystalline structure. And the further in we traveled, the more incredible things got. Finally, Michael stopped and turned around to face us.
“Okay. Through this opening is a larger room. Inside is the discovery that led to my thesis. We need to be careful to disturb as little as possible, and… we also need to turn off our lights.”
“What?” asked Kendra, looking a little frightened. I couldn’t blame her. I was suddenly nervous as well. “What for?”
He shook his head. “I need you to trust me. I promise, it’ll be worth it. Don’t worry, we’ll wait here for a few minutes to let our eyes adjust, and then I’ll guide you in. Okay?”
My roommate took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Alright. I guess I’m game if you are, Dee.”
Dee was short for Dierdre, and I nodded. Then each of us reached up and switched off our headlamps.
The sudden darkness was more than just a lack of light. It was oppressive, almost physical, as though we had just jumped into a vat of thick black ink. It was also quite frightening.
“Michael?” I said tentatively, and then felt his touch on my arm.
“Where are you guys?” asked Kendra. “Give me your hands.”
There was a soft grunt. “Uh… Kay, that’s not my hand…” answered the disembodied voice of my lover.
There was a giggle. “Oop! Sorry.”
For the next five minutes or so, we just stood there in the darkness, the sounds of our own breathing becoming quite loud. I actually jumped when Michael spoke again and indicated that we could proceed.
“How? Have our eyes really adjusted? I can’t see the slightest thing,” I replied.
“Deirdre, hold onto my hips and let me guide you. Kendra, you hold onto Dee. Just take small steps as the floor isn’t entirely flat. You’ll be able to see again in a moment.”
And so he led us.
We moved slowly and awkwardly, bumping into each other with mumbled apologies until finally my eyes started to sense the presence of light again. We rounded a last corner and I gasped.
Surrounding us completely was an entire forest of luminous plants. They were completely unlike the leafy variety found on the surface above, and looked more like something you might find on the floor of an ocean – but they were everywhere. The whole room was lit in a soft blue light, with small pools of color in certain areas. Our skin looked harsh, even surreal, and I suspected that much of the spectrum we were seeing was close to the ultraviolet. Regardless of the science, it was stunning.
“Oh my god…” commented Kendra. “This… this is incredible!”
“Told you it was worth the wait,” said Michael, smiling.
I was still trying to get a grip on how large the space we were now in actually was.
“Michael, how far does it go?” I asked, trying to get my eyes to focus on the details further away.
“I don’t know. I’ve only scouted about a hundred meters in, but my laser topographer fell ‘out of bounds’, so it has to be at least half a kilometer. What do you think?”
“What do I…? It’s gorgeous! But how can it be? Don’t these plants need sunlight?”
We moved further into the space, Michael showing us where to step. Everything glowed, even the ground.
“That’s the amazing thing… No, they don’t, er, at least not directly. They get their energy from the sun, but not from direct exposure. The energy is being fed down to them from the jungle above.”
“How?” Asked Kendra, bending down to examine a short, bulbous plant nearby.
The man grinned. “They’re connected to the net.”
He moved over to a section of cave wall where there was a long, round structure running off into the distance. “This,” he explained, “is a root of sorts. It’s part of a large network of roots that run along the aquifers of this planet and connect with the plants on the surface. But it’s not just to transfer water and minerals, but raw chemical energy as well. I’ve even seen evidence that it can move material building blocks and even metals, but I’m still gathering data.”
“Michael, that’s amazing,” I said, coming over to feel the surface of the pipe root. It was enormous, almost a full meter in diameter. It felt hard and solid, like any root would, but where a normal plant would be cold to the touch, this was warm.
“Holy crap,” I gasped, pulling my fingers back. “Is it heated somehow?”
Kendra came over and joined us, touching the root herself.
“I believe the heat is generated mostly by pure friction. There’s a huge amount of material moving through the network, and there are no ‘pumping stations’ that I can find.”
“I don’t understand,” said my roommate, as she stroked the surface of the root, transfixed.
“Well, I could be wrong, but I believe that it’s the root itself that is doing the pumping. It’s an incredibly efficient system actually. Energy and needed materials are moved from one place where there’s an abundance, to another place where there’s a need, with the root conduits using a little of that energy to make it all happen. All the plants down here get their energy from somewhere else, and in return, they supply specialized minerals and other resources that can’t be found up on the surface.”
“Like some kind of giant symbiotic system…” I said to myself as I pulled my pack off. I found my data pad and extracted the probe attachment. My own area of study was electrical engineering, but the pads all had some of the same sensor systems.
“Do you think I could drop in a spike?” I asked.
Michael thought about it for a moment. “It didn’t seem to bother the root when I did it, so, sure. In fact, the hole I made demonstrated another aspect of these roots that you might find interesting. I’m guessing it’s because they carry so much energy, but they are incredibly quick to repair. You could literally hack away at this thing with an ax, and ten minutes later you would have trouble finding the damage you caused.”
“Whoa…” commented our blonde friend. “You are SO getting your doctorate.”
He smiled. “I know, huh. It’s a really amazing find. But then, that’s why brave, up-and-coming scientists choose these crazy colony assignments. The chance to find something new is actually pretty high.”
I held the tip of my probe against the root and pressed the little red button on the end. There was a high-pitched squeal as a brief charged plasma field was created around the needle, and with a thunk, the probe dropped in through the surface right up to the handle.
“Okay, let’s just let this run a general scan…” I mumbled to myself while I waited. A few seconds later the first readings started showing up on my display. “Good grief! These energy readings are astounding for a plant.”
“How do you mean? The chemical energy stored in most trees is pretty high compared to…” Michael began.
“No, not chemical… Electrical energy.” I interrupted. “At the level of the probe, I’m seeing almost a kilowatt at over two thousand volts. I take it the probe on your own pad is one of the Kiblet bio-sensors?”
“Yeah… Does that make a difference?”
“You could say that. The needle is much shorter, and lucky for you that it is. Because of my field of study, my pad has some extra protections against electrical energy. If you had pierced in as far as I did, it’s highly likely you would have electrocuted yourself.”
“Damn…” whispered Kendra.
“This is high power direct current… Wait, a Meissner effect? Anderson-Bowen fluctuations?… What the hell?”
“What is it?” asked Michael, peering over my shoulder.
I adjusted the scan and re-checked what I was seeing. “Is this even possible? This plant has an Andy-B field!”
“I’m sure you’re going to tell us what that is, right?” asked my roommate. “Because as far as I know, Andy B is a cute guy from Geophysics…”
“Uh, Andy-B or Anderson-Bowen Field. It’s a condition created by a specialized variation in a looped energy field that causes zero electrical resistance in a conductive medium, usually a metal or ceramic, such that…”
“YO! Dee!” interrupted Kendra. “In standard Terran please!”
“Oh, sorry,” I apologized. “In, er, layman’s terms, Michael’s roots here are basically giant superconductive power transmission lines.”
“No shit?” Michael was stunned. Frankly, we all were.
I extracted the probe. “No doubt about it. And you say that these roots run through the aquifers across the whole planet?”
“As far as I can tell.”
I smiled. “Then your thesis just turned into a major scientific discovery, lover. I know of no other case of naturally occurring high-temperature superconductivity, let alone seeing it in a plant. And that’s not all. There were traces of myelin in there…”
“Oh! Oh! I know that one!” chimed Kendra. “That’s the stuff that insulates nerve fibers, right?”
“Give the lady a cigar. Yup. That means it’s very likely that aside from moving around chemical and electrical energy, water, minerals, and god knows what else, these roots may also form a literal neural network.”
“Maybe to communicate the needs of an area to be supplied by another!” said Kendra, enthusiastically. “Man, if the whole planet was contributing, you could build things really fast.”
“Indeed,” I agreed. I’m sure the prospect of a near-infinite supply of easily accessible building materials would be very appealing to an engineering major like Kendra.
I noticed that Michael seemed a bit distracted, as though something had just occurred to him.
“What is it?” I asked, touching him on the shoulder. He brightened at once.
“Nothing. Come on, I want to show you the pool.” He was grinning as he led us away from the massive roots and more toward the center of the long cave space.
What Michael called a ‘pool’ was actually a whole series of shallow depressions in the floor of the space that collected water that came in one side and traveled gently from depression to depression, right out of sight. Each bowl-like pool was anywhere from a half meter, up to a few that would probably qualify as a small pond. Each was completely different from the next, and to our great surprise, were warm. I shot Michael a surprised look.
“Care for a bath? The water coming in must originate from a natural geothermal spring. You need to be a little careful up higher as it’s nearly scalding there. But by the time it gets to where we are now, it’s cooled to a lovely temperature.”
“Are you serious?” I asked, nearly salivating. Getting there was sweaty, dirty business, and a warm bath sounded heavenly. “I thought you needed to keep things pristine.”
He nodded. “That’s true, but these plants are tough, and as long as we’re careful, we shouldn’t do too much harm. It takes a little getting used to… the fauna I mean.”
I looked into the pool closest to me. All along the bottom was a stubby grass-like plant interspersed with more bulbous versions that rose perhaps five or six inches. I saw Kendra staring into the pool closest to her with her mouth open.
“Oh ho ho!” she laughed. “Fuck yeah!” Setting down her pack, she plopped down and started unlacing her boots. Michael touched my elbow.
“Come on. Let’s move over here.” He was directing me a bit further into the cave to a slightly larger pool, and I instantly realized what he had in mind. I set my pad down where it would be safe, and then crouched to unlace my own boots. Two minutes later, I was sighing into relaxed bliss as I leaned back against Michael behind me in the water. Our pool wasn’t very deep, but it didn’t need to be, sort of like a shallow bath. The temperature of the water was perfect, and only slightly mineral, which left it feeling soft on my bare skin. Michael was a little shy because of Kendra, but relaxed when he saw the girl sinking into her own pool with a heavy sigh. She was facing away from us, and so missed the man as he slipped off his clothes and dropped into the water with me. The light was a little dimmer in our direction anyway, so she might not have even been able to see us. I think Michael picked up on that idea, because the next thing I knew, I felt his hand slipping between my thighs.
“Michael… wait.” I stopped him. “As much as that sounds fantastic, I don’t think it would be fair to Kendra. The sound carries, and she’s having a hard enough time resisting you as it is. We don’t need to rub it in.”
He groaned. “Tis a hard thing you ask of me, lassie,” he whispered in my ear. “Very hard…”
“Oh… OH! I’ll make it up to you later, I promise.”
“Very well. But at least come over here and let me hold you while we soak.”
I came closer. “You’ll be good?”
“Yes,” he relented.
So we sat, mostly submerged in the water, letting it work its magic on our tired muscles. Several minutes later I sighed and looked over to see how Kendra was doing, and blinked. Michael must have noticed her as well.
“Um, Dee,” he said softly in my ear, not quite knowing how to respond. “Is she doing what I think she’s doing?”
My brows went up. The girl was still facing away from us, but now she was sitting up with her hands at the sides of the pool. Her body was slowly moving up and down, as though she were lifting herself a few inches repeatedly. I glanced over and took a good look at one of the larger plant forms around us. Aside from the fact that they were glowing, the smooth stalks were remarkably phallic looking. Still not completely convinced, I reached out and ran my fingers along its surface. It felt a little like a slightly silky carrot, and my eyes widened. Pushing against the mock-tuber, I could tell that it must be connected to a larger root just out of view beneath the bottom of the pool. In short, it would be the perfect dildo for an over-stimulated nymphomaniac.
“Oh my…” I commented, as Kendra deepened her rhythm slightly while we stared on, brazenly.
“I hadn’t noticed it before, but those root bulbs do look at bit like…” he started.
“Apparently, Kendra saw the resemblance as well,” I replied, grinning. I disentangled myself from him and rolled over onto my belly with my arms folded over the edge of our pool to watch the erotic display. I’m sure that between Kendra’s slowly rising moans of pleasure, and my naked body floating in front of him, Michael was no doubt a very frustrated man and I giggled, promising myself to give him some extra special attention when we got back home.
For her own part, my roommate was oblivious to our voyeurism, being completely caught up in her own actions. She pulsed up and down on the plant for another four or five minutes, before finally reaching what was an obviously stunning orgasm. Gasping loudly, she collapsed forward and panted for another half minute before she remember where she was and looked around. Her mouth dropped open when she saw us watching her.
Michael clapped. I just smiled.
“Oh my god…” she stated, her hands moving to cover her face in embarrassment. “I can’t believe I just did that.”
“Hey, weren’t you the one who was trying to get me into a threesome just a few hours ago?” he kidded.
“Yeah, but… I guess it was all just too much for me, I mean the warm water, those penis plant thingies… my naturally over-active libido,” she tried to explain. “I was sitting in the water with one of those things sticking up between my legs, and when I slipped down a little… Well, it pressed up against me and felt just like…” She caught herself, gasping.
“Hey, no explanations needed,” I replied. “This is an amazingly erotic place. It would be hard not to think about sex in here. Besides, it looked like you needed it.”
“You have no idea…”
We stayed in the pools for another half hour or so, then decided that we would spend the rest of the afternoon exploring a bit deeper into the large open space. I was keen to do more testing on the big root, but figured it could wait, not so Michael’s thesis. We were all curious what mysteries might be found further in, but he needed us to help him catalog as many of the plant species as possible. So, clean and refreshed, we dressed in shorts and tees, grabbed our data pads, then slowly made our way into Michael’s glowing world.
Now that our eyes had fully adjusted to the strange bio-light, the headlamps were completely redundant. Michael had his with him, but Kendra and I just decided to use the illumination from our pads if needed. In this manner, would could help Michael document a much greater area in the time we had before we needed to be heading back to the surface.
“So, why are we linking with your pad again?” asked Kendra, making the adjustments he asked for.
“Basically, you two will go around scanning the different plants,” answered Michael. “That will be compared to to my existing database to see if a match exists, which will then be noted and counted. I’m pretty confident that we’ll find a few new ones, so if the computer flags it, call me over and I’ll verify. Ready?”
“You got it, boss!” saluted, the girl.
Ten minutes later we were all happily letting the pads scan anything that looked interesting as we slowly made our way up the gentle slope of the cave. It was tedious but interesting work. Kendra found two new species, and I found one as well, and we hadn’t even been at it long enough to be bored yet. It became a bit of a game, to see who would come up with the next “hit”, and before I realized it, nearly an hour had passed and we had traveled over a kilometer from our base camp.
I straightened up after scanning a known small shrub, stretching my back until it popped, when I heard Kendra’s voice not far away.
“Uh, Michael… I think you should come take a look at this,” she said, sounding a little concerned.
“What have you got, Kay?” he said, working to reach her.
“Not sure. What does ‘correlation alert # 7’ mean? It’s flashing red on my screen.”
Michael froze in his tracks.
“Are you sure that’s what it says, Kendra? Alert 7?”
“Michael?” I called out. “What is it?”
“Uh… A mistake, I hope. Dee, stay right where you are, you too Kendra. I’m coming to you, okay? Nobody else move or touch anything, got it?”
“Got it,” I replied.
“Okay…” said the blonde, quietly. “Should I be worried?”
“No,” he answered with a tone that I recognized he used when he was lying. “It’s probably just a glitch with the scanner. I’m almost there.”
I could see both of them now, only a dozen paces up slope from me. Michael took the girl’s pad and reset the scan, which he performed again himself. There was a warning tone and I saw his face grow serious and confused.
“But this can’t be right,” he exclaimed. “These are all over the place.”
“Michael, what’s going on?” I asked more forcibly.
He looked up at me, then at the dense glowing foliage all around us. “Well Kay,” he answered, “remember when you said it was too bad when I explained there were no Nymphlet Ferns here on the southern continent. It appears that I may have been a little hasty.”
“Holy shit…” I exclaimed, my heart rate climbing. “Michael, are you sure?”
“No, not at all. In fact, the plant that Kendra found looks nothing like Nymphlet. I don’t know why it says differently now.”
“Could it be her pad?” I suggested. “It’s an engineering model.”
“Maybe… but I’m not using any of her custom sensors, just the built-in ones. Unless…” He handed Kendra back her pad and did something with his own. I saw his shoulders slump.
“Oh my god… We need to get out of here.”
“The original exploratory team that landed on the southern continent was using full military grade scanning equipment. It’s a full spectrum setup. These data pads are for general field use, so they don’t use all the sensors all the time. For example, they shut off the ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths in normal sunlight because we would be unable to see them and they would just distort the images. But down here, where everything emits UV, or near UV, the pad selects a nighttime mode and records the full spectrum. My pad, and likely everyone else’s, never even recognized this Nymphlet Fern variation in full sun. Down here, it’s a match.”
“Does this mean we’re all about to get really really horny?” asked Kendra.
Michael looked around. “I think that if the ferns were germinating we would already feel the effects of the spores. But we shouldn’t take any chances. We need to make our way out without disturbing anything, which, now that I look at it, isn’t going to be easy. These things are everywhere! Look for a short, four stemmed fern with brighter dots running down each of the stems. Dee, are there any near you?”
“Oh fuck…” I exclaimed, realizing that I was standing in a veritable field of the dangerous organisms. “They’re all around me. Michael, what should I do?!”
“Uh, I think it’s a little clearer in our direction. You should try to very very carefully make your way over here.”
“Right,” I mumbled, and started what was to be the most nerve-wracking five minutes of my life. When I finally hopped one last plant to stand next to them, we all breathed a large sigh of relief.
“All right, now what?” asked Kendra.
Michael stared back down the incline. “Somehow we need to get back to camp, without running into any of those ferns. Maybe we could go toward the left side of the cave and find a way back around.”
I was noticing a familiar patterning on a larger, broad-leaf plant. Something about it bothered me.
“You two stay here. I’m going to scout a bit and see if there’s a way,” continued my lover. “Don’t worry, we’ll be okay, now that we know what to avoid.”
“Michael, I think the plants in this section are different than further up.” I said, frowning. “Is it possible that all of these could be variations on the southern variety?”
The man was about ten meters away when he stopped and looked around him. Then, with an exaggerated slowness, he withdrew his pad and scanned a tree. There was a tone, and I saw red light flash across his face. He looked over at me, terrified.
“Check around you,” he called out. “Scan everything, and tell the scanner to compare to full spectrum images.”
It didn’t take but a minute to figure out that we were nearly surrounded by ‘Class 4 Exotics’, any of which could end our lives most easily, or so it had been explained to us upon arrival at our new colony home. The initial science teams that arrived on Dorretta IV, found the southern continent to be slightly more favorable for a human habitation, so they picked a site, cleared it, and dropped in a pre-fabricated military station as the beginnings of a settlement. Things seemed fine for about a month, with new colonists arriving almost daily, then people started to disappear.
Initially, they would vanish a few at a time, and central command suspected that the planet had an unknown indigenous sentient animal species, but none was ever found. Then they lost an entire science party… and the fully armed military team sent to look for them. By the time they figured out it was the plant life itself, the base was fighting for its very survival. An extraction was called in, but it was three long days before the massive drop ship could reach them. From before the first disappearance, to the moment the last colonist was removed from Dorretta IV, the population went from over three thousand, to a mere 286.
Michael was among the survivors, and just a teenager at the time.
It was two more years before he returned to the new colony on the northern continent, and then only because corporate wouldn’t pay for his ticket out of the system. The dangers of a new planet were part of the risk you took as a colonist. Entire established colonies had vanished before, and without a single trace. Marhead figured it understood the situation on Dorretta, assuring the new colonists that the Exotics were geographically restricted to the southern continent; that they were safe… until now.
“Michael, what do we do? How do we get out of here!?” I asked the man as my fear started to get the better of me.
“Stay calm. We need to think this through,” he admonished. “Something isn’t right. If these really are the same species as we had on the southern continent, why are we still alive?”
“Maybe they don’t know we’re here yet,” suggested Kendra. “We’ve been careful not to disturb them.”
“Maybe,” he conceded. “But I remember the attacks. We were actively hunted. They even laid traps for us, luring us out of a safe zone. They were preparing some kind of coordinated attack when we were finally extracted. The drop ship bombed the site when the survivors were aboard the transport and we were in the air. It made quite a crater. In the ground all around the colony were massive bulbs of some kind, each over two meters across. The MilOps team said they could open at the top and pull you inside, kind of like living mines. They had completely surrounded us, as if to prevent our escape. I never asked them what happened to someone trapped inside, but it couldn’t be good. No, they know we’re here. Something is different.”
“They lured you? How?” I asked.
He nodded. “We didn’t understand it at first, why someone would just get up and walk out into the jungle. That’s when we first discovered the Nymphlet Ferns. The plants were using pheromones, olfactory aphrodisiacs, even some kind of visual hypnosis. We never did figure that last out.”
“Michael, if this conversation is… too hard for you…”
“No,” he sighed. “It’s actually good to talk about it. It’s one of the reasons I went into botany. I wanted to understand, especially the Exotics…”
I nodded. “And the initial survey teams didn’t encounter any of that?” I asked, incredulous, as we moved laterally across the cave, looking for a way to get back to camp.
“That’s the odd thing. There’s no record of any Exotics when they first classified the planet for colonization. It’s as if they appeared just for us.”
We were nearing the far side of the space, and the massive root running along the wall. I was staring at the long structure when something occurred to me.
“Michael, how did they know?”
“Huh? Know what?” he asked as we stopped for a breather.
“How did they know what would affect us? I mean, even we haven’t completely figured out how to make pheromones like that. How could they do it?”
“Well, plants have been using bright colors and scents for millions of years back on Earth…”
“But that’s just it. It’s taken eons of evolution to establish the relationships between plants and animals on Earth. But there’s no known animal life on Corretta IV, let alone indigenous humans. So how?”
“On Earth,” added Kendra, “we can vaguely mimic natural pheromones, but it takes our best scientists using whole factories to generate the chemicals. If these things appeared in only a month, how did the plants figure us out so quickly when they didn’t even have anything to go on?”
“Exactly!” I chimed. “And these are plants, not intelligent scientists.”
My lover looked up at the root and frowned.
“Dierdre, how far could the power in these roots travel? You said they were like transmission lines.”
I thought about it for a moment. “Well, theoretically, as superconductors the effective transmission distance is infinite, but it’s unlikely that there would be zero loss. There are fine anomalies, bends in the field…”
“How far? Best guess.”
I shrugged. “Hundreds, maybe even thousands of kilometers, why?”
“Could they reach under an ocean?” He asked, holding my eyes.
Now it was my turn to frown. “I… Yes, I suppose they could.” My eyes went wide. “A neural net!”
“Connected with the southern continent…” he finished.
Kendra was staring back and forth between us as Michael hastily gathered his pad to leave. “I’m not sure I understand. Why is that a big deal?”
I turned to her. “Our brains are basically complex networks of electro-chemical connections. A neural net.”
“So… the roots form connections in some kind of really big brain?”
A light went on in her head.
“Oh shit. That means there is a higher intelligence at work after all.”
“One smart enough to recognize us as dangerous enemies and develop active defenses to counter us, yup.” We were moving now, still trying to work our way downhill. Kendra and I were hopping over ferns through an open area. Michael stayed more to the edge of the cave near the root. For some reason, being close to the structure frightened me now.
“Dee,” asked my roommate, as we made our way as slowly and carefully as we could. “I get that the big roots are a brain of sorts, but it still doesn’t explain how it could figure out human anatomy so quickly. The production of complex chemicals is something the plants could maybe do, but first they would need information to go on, research, a laboratory, test subjects…”
I stopped walking. “The bulbs…” I said to myself. “Michael, is it possible that the large bulbs you remember seeing around the southern colony could have been there longer? You said they were to contain you. What if they had another purpose?”
“Like what?” He asked. “Hey, you two should come back over here. I avoided that area before due to some geological instability I found on the way down.”
We took his advice and changed course.
“Well, what if they’re laboratories?”
He was quiet for a minute. “To… figure us out?” he considered.
“Yes. You mentioned that MillOps told you that they opened up and… pulled people in. What if those people weren’t killed, but rather… experimented on.”
He groaned. “I’m not sure I want to go there,” he exclaimed. “But if you’re right, then the first colonists to disappear might not have been killed outright, but rather used as… guinea pigs, to figure out how to control us. How to make other plants that could eradicate us.”
“Man, that’s wicked,” said Kendra behind me.
“Maybe… but why didn’t the boys at corporate figure that out?” he responded. “I know that they don’t always have our best interests in mind, especially out on the colonies, but even they’re not so cold as to purposely try to force colonize a world with hostile intelligent life. And prefab colony units are insanely expensive.”
“They didn’t know about your roots. The intelligent life isn’t on this planet, it is the planet,” I answered, feeling more uneasiness in my belly.
“Okay, but that doesn’t explain why we’re still alive, or why there haven’t been any attacks at the new colony.”
“Avalon was started on higher ground, with no jungle to clear,” added Kendra. “Maybe that intelligence hasn’t decided we’re a threat yet.”
“Yeah,” I mentioned, a little sarcastically. “And how do you think the governing body of our burgeoning city is going to react when they find out that your cave, and countless others just like it, are filled with dormant variants of the same plants that tried to kill us last time.”
“This is not good…” mumbled the blonde.
“We’ll just have to convince them not to panic. At least there haven’t been any more disappearances yet.”
“Actually…” said Kendra. “There was one announced just two days ago.”
Both Michael and I turned to look at her.
She shrugged. “I only remember because I knew her. She was my first semester Urban Design instructor. She was doing an expansion assessment project for the colony and was out in the field. She’s been missing for over a week now.”
“Urban expansion?” I muttered. “That wouldn’t involve jungle clearing by any chance, would it?”
“Probably. Why? Oh… Fuck. Can we leave now?!”
“We’re almost out of the Exotics,” answered Michael. “Then we can…”
“Did you hear that?” I interrupted.
We were all silent and still for a moment. Below us, there was a deep snapping sound, as though something big had just broken in half. I turned my gaze toward my feet and saw that the ground I was standing on seemed strange. When I looked up, Kendra was wide eyed. A moment later she dropped straight down out of sight. I barely had time to yell her name before I felt the cave floor beneath me give way and was falling.
With a thud, I landed feet first on something soft. My legs crumpled and my own knees knocked the wind out of me. I fell back on my rear and stayed there, just trying to draw a breath.
“Dee?” said Kendra coming into view. It was a little darker where we were now, and the air was thick with dust. She moved over next to me, her hand on my shoulder.
“I’m okay,” I coughed. “Just… lost… my breath.”
“Dierde! Kendra! Can you hear me!?” Michael’s frantic voice came from above us. Looking up, I could see his face staring down through a large hole. I could also see that a good section of the roof of our current cave was made up of something glowing.
“We’re okay,” said Kendra loud enough for him to hear. “Some moss or something broke our fall.”
We were about six meters down from the ceiling. “Michael,” I added, “stay back from the hole. It looks like your ‘geologic instability’ is actually one giant lichen growth. We fell right through.”
“Crap! Can you climb back up?” he asked, still sounding panicked, but moving back from the weak edge.
I glanced around. “No. And it looks like the plant life down here is… different. I’m scared, Michael…”
“I know. Look, I need to go get the climbing gear,” he called down from above. “I should be back in no more than ten minutes, tops. Can you guys sit tight until then?”
“I think so,” I replied and looked at Kendra. She nodded. “Please hurry…”
“You know it,” he answered. “Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be right back.”
Alone, we took a better look around the new level we had fallen into. It was smaller than the one above, but it also had a large root running along its length. It made me wonder if these sloping caves were somehow special, or perhaps created purposely in some way. The stock of plant life was certainly unlike what we had been cataloging previously. Instead of short ferns, most of the glowing foliage around us was tall and tree-like. Though the moss we were seated on had a faint cast of amber light to it, most of the ground did not glow like above, and created the illusion of floating in space on a small fluffy island surrounded by detached trees. The only way you could tell there was a surface to walk on at all were the star-like tiny dots of glowing dust that must have settled everywhere from the lichen when we broke through.
“It might be pretty if I didn’t know there were a million tons of rock above us,” commented Kendra behind me a few minutes later. We were seated facing different directions, but with our backs just touching.
“We’ll be okay. Michael will get the gear and have us out of here in no time,” I said with more confidence than I really felt.
“What do you think will happen to Avalon?” she asked, a little sadness in her voice.
I sighed. “Honestly, I don’t know. We were booted pretty hard out of the southern continent. I’m not sure Marhead wants to repeat that fiasco. On the other hand, Avalon is bigger and has been there a lot longer. The loss if we have to evacuate permanently would be staggering.”
“Crap. And I was really starting to like this place, too. My schooling is going well, the weather is great… Hell, I even had a job waiting for me. Now everything is falling to hell, all because… because…” Her voice faded off, and I frowned.
“Because of the plants?” She didn’t answer. “I know it’s scary, but don’t lose hope. Maybe we’ll be able to find a way to communicate or something. Kendra?” I noticed I didn’t feel her contact on my back anymore, and turned my head. She wasn’t seated behind me, and my stomach turned momentarily. Then I saw her standing just a few feet from the edge of the moss.
“Hey, I wouldn’t go too far. We don’t know what’s out there, and Michael should be back any minute… Kay? Hey, girl, are you listening to me?”
She still didn’t respond and I started to get a knot in my stomach that something wasn’t right. Squinting into the dim glow, she seemed to be swaying slightly as she took another small sliding step farther away. Scooting around, I was just standing when I noticed a brighter light nearby. I hadn’t seen it before because my roommate had been blocking it from view. It was pulsing in a veritable rainbow of color and patterns as it bobbed and hovered in front of her, held aloft on the end of a long, thin branch or tendril. Without any indication of why, I immediately knew that it was evil, and looked away. Even the brief exposure, which was focused on Kendra, had left me feeling fuzzy and disoriented. My face was flushed, and my nipples buzzed and tingled as though hyper-stimulated. There was an equally disturbing sensation down in my lap, and I realized that I had been violently aroused in the span of only a second or two.
Confused and frightened, I kept my eyes on the ground while I considered what to do. I could hear my roommate’s scuffling footsteps, so I knew she was still moving away.
“Kendra! Stop!” I called out. “Don’t look at the light!” There was no answer. “Shit…” I cursed, while I frantically tried to think of a way to break her out of the apparent spell she was under. I had only a vague idea what was producing the intoxicating beacon, but I seriously doubted it was friendly. If I didn’t do something soon, she would be too far from our glowing oasis to see anymore.
“KENDRA!!” I screamed, hoping the sheer volume of my voice might snap her out of it. Still, there was no response. “Michael, HELP!!” I called out, willing my voice to reach him on his way back with the gear. I risked a quick glance toward Kendra, keeping my eyes pointed down as much as possible. I saw her feet, now about ten meters away, which was bad enough, but what really caused my gut to roil in fear was the brightly glowing seams forming on the ground in front of her. Even as I watched, an X-shaped mouth opened outward like a flower, revealing a squirming pit of semi-clear tentacles. The innards of the plant-creature she was walking directly towards, were luminous in the dark, as though they were covered in liquid light.
“Kendra! Please, snap out of it, girl!” I pleaded loudly, but it was as though she couldn’t hear me. “Stop!” I entreated one last time before her right foot stepped directly into the opening.
There was a wet slurp as her boot disappeared halfway to her knee. A second later, her left foot stepped in as well. I noticed a change in the light and quite suddenly Kendra was screaming.
“AHHHH!! Dierdre, help! NOO!!” I risked looking up a bit more and saw that the sparkling light was gone. Apparently, once it had lured its victim into the trap, it wasn’t needed. From the way that Kendra was thrashing and pulling at her legs, I could understand why. The girl was completely unable to escape. She was also sinking.
The ‘lips’ of the mouth opening contracted around her legs, holding her, but also undulating in a way that caused me to feel queasy. It was sucking her in. Moving quickly, I dared not trust that the intoxicating light had forgotten about me, but I scrambled on my hands and knees toward the girl, keeping my eyes mostly on the ground.
I chanced a glance at my friend and saw that she was in up to her lower thighs, and sinking fast. She was frantically pulling at her legs in an attempt to free them, but it was useless. I was perhaps three meters away when she yelped.
“AH! No… nonono… Dee, do something!”
When I looked up this time, her legs, right up to the bottoms of her shorts, had disappeared. I was starting to wonder how in the world I was going to extract her when I also saw that a number of semi-clear tentacles had reached up out of the mouth and wrapped around her left hand, holding it down. She was desperately trying to fend off several more tentacles with her right hand, that were doing something to her shorts. When I saw what it was, my mouth dropped open.
One slick tendril had already popped the button at the top and loosened the zipper, another was tugging at the bottom of the garment, drawing it down over her hips. I could see others reaching up to help.
“What the hell?” I said to myself, hardly believing what I was seeing. I was nearly to the panicked girl, still not sure what I was going to do to help, when something touched my shoulder. Instinctively, I jumped and looked over to see what it was, and found myself staring right into one of the iridescent ‘eyes’ that had beguiled Kendra.
It was only inches from my face, and I didn’t even have time to complete a single deep breath of panic before falling into the seductive mental trap. Unable to look away, my face flushed with the heat of arousal, even as my will was pushed into a dizzy, vibrating haze of pleasure and euphoria. I felt myself grow wet, and my nipples began to beat with the pulse of my heart as they swelled into excited hardness.
“Ughnnn…” I exhaled, the last of my conscious resistance sucked away into the whirlpool of erotism. The light moved, swaying back and forth, and I followed it like a puppet. It moved slightly away, and then up, always turning to maintain perfect contact with my eyes, keeping me locked into its hypnotic trance. I sat upright, and then rose to my feet, my breathing a little faster as the sexual stimulation coursed up and down my body in waves, causing me to shiver softly.
Once I was standing, the light moved back, just past Kendra and slightly to her right, and like a zombie, I tracked it, my feet shuffling forward just as Kendra’s had. At the lower edge of my vision I could sense another brightness. I couldn’t pull my eyes away from the one in front of me, but I didn’t have to. I knew without a doubt what was on the ground in front of me… What lay open and waiting for me to step inside.
I wanted to fight. Mentally, I was screaming to turn away and run. But my pleasure-soaked body wouldn’t listen. I took a step, and then another. I knew that at any moment I would put my foot down into the waiting mouth and it would mark the beginning of the end for me. Another step. Another… At last, my boot failed to step forward onto something hard, and I made a single quiet gasp as I gently lost balance and dropped up to my ankle in slippery glowing flesh.
Part of me realized that it was still a plant, no matter how much it felt like I was being eaten by some vile animal. It was also quite warm, which further enhanced the feeling of dropping down some creature’s throat. Immediately, I felt the slippery tentacles swirl around my calf, locking their hold on me. They weren’t particularly fast, but they had numbers on their side, and were gripping me firmly. A moment later, my other foot dropped into the open mouth below me and was attacked in the same way. I was sinking, certainly to my doom, and I just stood there and let it happen, happily drooling in numb euphoria while the myriad fingers sucked and welcomed me into their depths. Finally, just before my knees disappeared, the dazzling light faded abruptly and vanished.
I blinked several times and then looked down.
“Shit!” I exclaimed, fully realizing the seriousness of my situation. I looked over to Kendra, just as her belly was taken in. The many slippery tendrils of clear muscle were pushing her tank-top up her body as she sank deeper and deeper, exposing her bare flesh to the waiting depths. She was trying to call for help as the oily fingers reached up over her breasts, but her words came out as little more than short gasps and grunts. The way that her nipples were attacked told me that it was sexual pleasure that was distracting her, and from the look on her face, that pleasure was immense.
Knowing what was coming, I was a little less panicked than my roommate, and didn’t try to reach in and free my legs no matter how much I wanted to. Instead, as soon as my hands were low enough, I braced them against the ground outside of the mouth sucking at me. My sinking slowed and stopped just past my knees, but not the constant pull to draw me down.
“Kendra! No…” I whimpered, as I watched my friend, powerless to help her. Both of her arms had been captured and pulled into the bulb below her so that there was nothing at all she could do anymore to resist being drawn further inside. From the look on her face, I could tell that the girl was having a seriously difficult time just staying focused, and was caught between abject terror, and her own sexual stimulation. Whatever was being done to her just out of view within the glowing plant, it must have been incredibly overpowering. Kendra’s voice kept getting clipped by sharp gasps of obvious pleasure, her body twitching and straining. I noticed that her torso seemed to be bobbing slightly, as though she were riding a lover, and in addition to the nearly frantic spasms, she started to take on a rhythmic undulation that was obviously out of her ability to control. Against her will, the girl was quickly being seduced.
“Kendra! You have to fight it! Don’t give up!”
For a moment, focus came back to her, and she turned her head to face me. Her eyes were half-lidded with drunken euphoria. She was drooling slightly from the corner of her mouth, which hung open as she continued to make breathy gasps between her words.
“D-Dee… Ughn… Help m-me… ahhh… please!”
“I’m stuck too… You have to hold on, Michael will be here soon, but you’ve got to resist it!”
“Ughmm… I… I can’t… UGHN! Oh god… oh god… Ahhh!”
My own bulb hadn’t given up on me, and continued to suck and pull at my legs in an attempt to draw my hips within the mouth-like opening. It didn’t seem to be strong enough to do so while I had my arms braced to the sides, so it changed tactics.
A number of thin luminous fingers were slowly winding their way around and up my thighs, and having seen the same action with Kendra, I had a pretty good idea what they were up to. Not that I had any way to stop them from reaching my shorts. I knew that the second I moved my hands away from the sides of the opening, the random slimy ropes that were already looped around my wrists would draw my arms down into the other waiting tendrils where they would be fully secured. They didn’t seem to be able to pull my grip from the edge, But if I gave away that advantage to hold up my clothing…
The snap at the front popped open and my heart sank. Even as the garment was slowly loosened around my hips, I knew I was running out of time. The tendrils reached in and started to draw down the shorts and my panties with them, leaving me bare and frightfully exposed. The few slick tentacles that brushed my sex caused me to twitch with sexual arousal, and left an almost tingly erotism coursing through my womanhood. The touch should have repulsed me, but instead my body was already squirming with stimulation. It didn’t feel right. The heady scent that filled my nostrils gave me the clue I needed, and it became apparent that the thick liquid that coated the tendrils and filled the bulb was some sort of chemical intoxicant. If just a light brush against my sex was enough to get me breathing hard, it was no wonder Kendra was being driven nearly insane with lust. I looked over at my friend and watched, powerless to help her as she finally gave in to the pleasure and her head snapped back. Her orgasm was obvious and intense. So intense, that I wondered if perhaps she had just stopped breathing altogether. She trembled and twitched for nearly thirty long seconds before finally gasping and crying out.
“Kay, no…” I groaned, seeing how much the bulb had drained her physically. By the time her eyes refocused, she was so exhausted that she couldn’t have pulled herself out of the living trap even if it had simply let her go. And she was also no longer able to mentally resist in the slightest what was being done to her.
With my lower garments gone, the organism below renewed its attention to my limbs. The thin tendrils of the plant weren’t very strong, but there were a lot of them, and they were very persistent. Working patiently, they started to draw my thighs apart. I resisted, of course, but it was a hopeless battle. In tiny increments, my legs were gradually pulled out until I was spread open above the bulb. My apex was only inches from the surface, and the glowing tendrils wasted little time climbing up around my hips. Other tendrils reached right up and started caressing my flower directly.
The wash of pleasure that boiled up from my pelvis was so acute, that I could hardly breathe. It was only for the fact that I was stunned speechless that I managed kept my hands where they were. Had the effect been any less, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to resist the instinct to try and stop the sexual attack. As it was, I pretty much just gasped and trembled in near-orgasm, my whole body locked and stiff against what I was feeling in my lap.
“UGHN!! Oh g-god… no… ummm…”
I knew I wouldn’t last long against such pleasure, and I seriously doubted that I would be able to keep my grip while coming.
“M-michael!!” I screamed, even as the tendrils at my hips were drifting along my petals, slowly opening me up. “N-no! Ughmmm!”
Next to me, I watched, terrified, as Kendra shivered into another long orgasm, her shoulders now enclosed by the fleshy mouth of the plant-creature. And before her eyes even refocussed, a pair of smaller, clear tendrils slithered up her neck and face, and slipped right into her nostrils. The girl’s eyes flew open for a moment as she realized something was wrong, but they quickly glazed over again, the pleasure reaffirming its control. She gasped as something unseen brought her to the edge of bliss, and to her surprise, a larger tube reached up and pushed into her open mouth. She gagged for a moment or two, but there was nothing she could do to remove the intruder, which continued to force its way down her throat.
“K-Kendra!… Ughnnn! Noo!”
Her body resumed its slide down into the ground, twitching and shaking in bliss, until the tendrils reached over her face in mass and dragged her under. The lips quietly closed over her head and came back together. There was hardly even a seam on the ground to show where she had just been.
Torn between sobs of grief and terror, and a quickly increasing arousal, I knew that unless Michael returned soon, I too, would be dragged down under into a kind of sexual hell from which there would be no return. These must be the same pod-like bulbs that my lover had mentioned, spaced around the installation on the southern continent in order to trap humans and experiment on them… learning new ways to control and eradicate us. Unless I could escape, I would soon become a part of that experimentation as well.
The slippery fingers swirling over my hips and into my lap, held me open, even
as others reached up and gradually slipped inside my sex. At first, it was just
a single, finger-like penetration, but a moment later another joined in, and
then a third. After that I lost track, as I was far too distracted to do more
than gasp and clutch desperately at the sides of the mouth opening, praying
that I could hold off my moment. But I already knew I wouldn’t be able to…
Every second was pure building fire, a sexual heat that was well beyond anything that I had ever experienced before. Already I could feel a queasy tension building in my middle, and I was involuntarily twisting and undulating to get away from the constant stimulation as the tendrils individually eased in and out of my sex.
“UGHNN! Oh! G-god!! AHH!” I cried out in disbelief. It was arousing me too fast. At this rate, I would never hold off long enough to be rescued. Worse, I could also feel still more tendrils slowly creeping up my torso, quietly extending themselves under my shirt as they climbed my flesh and spread the slippery intoxicants over more and more of my skin. I recognized where they were headed, and I also knew that I wouldn’t last ten seconds once they got there.
I moaned in pleasurable agony as they slipped along the undersides of my breasts.
“M-M-Michael… ughnn… w-where are you, dammit! AHH! Nooo… AHHH!”
The slippery fingers had found my nipples, curling around the very present peaks, tweaking and squeezing them over and over. Their warm teasing, coupled with the constant penetration at my flower, was finally more than I could stand. A liquid heat flashed up over my belly, shooting like a rocket into my brain. My head snapped back, even as my whole body convulsed and trembled in pure ecstasy. I had never come so hard in my life, nor as long, and a lot of it had to do with the fact that I couldn’t pull away. The sentient plant continued to work me even as I was locked in timeless euphoria, pushing me to greater and greater heights of arousal until I was seeing stars flash across my field of vision. I faded back into reality, just trying to get air into my lungs to breathe. My vision cleared enough for me to assess my situation, and I started weeping.
My arms had collapsed, as I was now resting on my elbows. Somehow I had managed to keep them from falling over the edge into the mouth of the bulb, but unfortunately, that meant that I had been pulled in right up to my belly button, and the evil plant was wasting no time in exploiting that fact. The warm slithering mass that now swarmed around my lower half, never gave me a moment’s rest sexually. There wasn’t a single second that every inch of my submerged flesh wasn’t teased and licked and caressed. I could now feel a number of tendrils sliding up into my anus, and my clitoris was being attacked by a tendril with smooth ridges that would run over the sensitive jewel in rapid succession. Up higher, the glowing fingers had managed to push up my shirt for better access to my nipples, and I could even feel slick tentacles inching up my bare back. I couldn’t believe how much more intense the pleasure was, and just hung there with my mouth open for half a minute or more, completely dazed. Then it started trusting.
Up until that moment, the half dozen or so tendrils within my tunnel were each driving in and out of me at their own pace and rhythm. Quite suddenly, that changed so that they all pulled nearly out and then rushed back in together as a single unit. The effect was surprisingly human-like, and strangely, much harder to resist.
“Ahh! Uughnn! Oh g-god… no… Ahh! AHH!”
As the bulb continued to fuck me, I understood why Kendra had appeared to bounce up and down. I also now understood why she said she simply couldn’t resist the creature’s seduction. It was like having sex with all your best lovers, all at once… only they never tired, and you couldn’t pull away when things got too intense. I could feel my innards coiling up for another orgasm after only a dozen strokes.
“Diedre!” I heard Michael’s voice from somewhere behind me and for a few moments, I gained a small amount of clarity.
“M-Michael! H-help me… Ahh!… p-please! UGHN!”
“Hold on! I’m almost there, I just have to rappel down…”
The tension in my middle was growing fast, and my breathing was broken and punctuated by the upward thrusts of the bulb.
“Hu… H-hurry!! AHH! AHH!!”
Something new was happening behind me, and when I understood what it was, I cried aloud. More tendrils had reached out and wrapped around me from behind, some coming up under my arms and even wrapping around my neck. These new filaments had one task in common, and that was pulling me away from the edge that I was holding onto. Just like they had done with my thighs, they were slowly drawing me backwards in an attempt to break me away. I was holding my own, but only barely. However, the new angle of my body, which was drawn up straight, forcing my pelvis forward, was causing the plant’s rhythmic pistoning to hit me in a way that was just too much.
“Nooo! AHHH!… ughnn… AHH!! AHH!! AHHHH!!”
My whole world was washed away under a blanket of shaking pleasure as I finally came again, and it was as though my body violently released every bit of pent up sexual energy that I had been holding back, all at once. I thrashed and screamed against the impossible ecstasy, unable to pull away or even get a moment’s rest as it just went on and on and on for what felt like hours.
Dizzy and still unable to focus my eyes, I noticed a bright flash of light coming from somewhere behind me, as well as a soft concussion. The noise was enough to pull me somewhat back from the well of drowning pleasure I was in, but what I saw when my vision cleared was enough to bring me to despair again.
The tendrils behind me had done their work, and I had been pulled free at my moment. With nothing to protect them anymore, both my arms were even now being pulled down into the glowing depths of the plant. I could feel them being secured by a thousand slick ropes. I no longer had the strength to even try and pull them free. Helpless, my fate sealed, the rest of my body was now sliding down into the bulb as well, and I jumped as my breasts were hungrily engulfed. Around me, I could feel the whole pod rumble, as if in happy anticipation of a delicious meal, and it shifted me, undulating my body within its mass like a sexual puppet, lewdly rolling my hips as though I were taking a lover, mocking my resistance. At the same time, it continued its thrusting, driving deep into my sex.
It was pulling me in. Right on cue, I felt something wriggling up over my chin and into my nostrils. The living tubes brought on a momentary feeling of drowning as they slipped into my sinus passages, and for a few seconds my head cleared a little as I struggled against the invasion. But my body finally gave in to the inevitable, and with the first involuntary breath, I knew that something else was coming up out of those glowing conduits. Not just life-giving oxygen, but something sinister – something designed to intoxicate my mind and steal away any last chance I had at coherent though. I fought it, refusing to breathe through my nose. But in opening my mouth for air, I gave the bulb the opening it had been waiting for. Just like Kendra, a thicker tube reached forward and pushed between my lips. This one was stiff and multilayered, and seemed to extend itself down my throat. I couldn’t bite down, and I couldn’t stop the vile protrusion as it settled itself deeper within my esophagus. With my mouth blocked, I was forced to take in the warm intoxicants through my nose, and could feel their euphoric effects almost at once. My vision began to swim even as the bulb continued its deep erotic dance. My body helplessly locked into the undulations of intercourse, the slippery thrusts of its phallic tendrils took on a new and almost frantic pace, driving me crazy with lust and pleasure. Dizzy, I saw the opening of the bulb sack folding closed, and knew this was the end. But there was one last trick the plant had for me.
It started with a quivering down at my toes, and quickly pulsed up through the whole mass of tendrils around me, squeezing and clutching my body repeatedly. There was a wave of pressure at my sex, and suddenly a very warm rush of liquid erupted from the ends of the tendrils buried most deeply within my flower. Pleasure hit me so hard that my whole field of view went white for a period, and I had no recollection of time.
When I finally did come down from the massive orgasm, the first thing I saw was the face of Michael staring down at me. He was patting my cheek, trying to rouse me, and his features looked panicked.
“Come on, Dee… Fight! You have to help me here!”
My body was slowly finding itself, but I blinked away the worst of the fog and then took a huge breath of air… or tried to. At first I thought the tubes were still stuck in my nostrils, but it was just a clog of mucus. With a violent heave, I coughed and sat up at the same time, the sticky plug ejecting from my nose. My lover’s arms were around me at once.
I wasn’t in the bulb anymore, which was a miracle enough. I looked over to my left and saw the glowing maw. I would have tried to crawl away in terror, but something about the opening didn’t look right. I blinked again to gain focus, and saw his smart stick wedged into the opening, forcing it wider than it was obviously intended. The bulb looked ripped and broken, which was just fine with me.
“That’s my girl… yes. Come on back to me…”
“Michael…” I managed, my body convulsing into a fit of coughing.
He grasped me under the arms and started to lift me.
“I don’t mean to push, but we need to get out of here, like right now.”
I was so weak, but the thought of being seduced by another plant was just enough motivation to help me find the strength to come to my knees, and then shakily to my feet.
“Kendra…” I said, resisting.
His tormented face said it all, but he answered anyway.
“She’s gone, Dee. Even if I could find her, I completely discharged my smart stick getting you free. There’s nothing we can do, and if we stay here any longer, we’re sure to attract more of the exotics. Come on.”
He was right of course, but it didn’t help to know that even now, she was just out of view somewhere nearby being tormented into sexual oblivion. With his arm around me, he walked us toward the area where the tunnel above had collapsed, and clipped himself into a rope hanging there.
“You need to wrap your legs around my waist and hold on as tight as you can, okay?” I nodded, and he lifted me up into what would have been a very intimate position at any other time. With a final nod, he pressed the ascension pad on his harness three times. Somewhere above, a small, but powerful winch started drawing in the climbing line… rapidly.
We were jerked upwards, and Michael only had time to mouth a single, “hold on” before we somewhat literally crashed through the lichen roof and were pulled several meters along the floor of the cave space above. He was unhooking us even as we untangled our limbs.
“Do you think you can walk?” he asked, trying to help me up. I was still foggy, a dizzy wash of sexual euphoria made my skin seem to vibrate.
“I… I don’t know,” I replied as I feebly managed to get to my knees. Standing was more difficult, and I needed Michael to help me. My legs felt as though they would give out under me at any moment, but together, we slowly started making our way back toward the cave entrance, careful to avoid anything that looked even slightly suspicious. Neither of us said much of anything until we were back at the gear packs.
“Go ahead and change into something quickly, then we’ll get the hell out of here. Just put on your headlamp. Leave the rest. We won’t be coming back.”
I nodded and managed to find a dry pair of panties and my other shorts. I then pulled the slime-soaked shirt over my head and tossed it aside. My skin was too sensitive to try and clean off the slippery gel, so I simply pulled a new shirt on over my head. It stuck to my chest provocatively, but at least it was opaque and mostly dry. The only shoes I had were an extra pair of sneakers, which Michael indicated would be fine, and we headed out the way we had come in.
It was almost all downhill, which was a blessing since I was still too weak to have made the trek in the opposite direction. I was also pushed on by the very strong need to get as far away from that underground hell as possible. I had no idea how I was going to make it back to Avalon, but I need not have worried. As soon as we were clear of the entrance, I saw Michael tap his pad. A few seconds later I heard the sound of a flitter.
“How did you…” I started to ask, incredulous.
He had to raise his voice above the sound of the incoming craft. “I couldn’t establish a full communications link with emergency services from within the cave, but I was able to send a distress beacon to hail an autonomous emergency drone.”
I could have cried for joy. We pulled ourselves into the small craft, and I saw my lover tap the “return” command on the pilot panel, indicating “emergency speed and clearance” as well. The screen changed, and listed an ETA of eleven minutes.
“Diedre,” he said over the increasing engine whine as the craft took to the air, “I’m so sorry about Kendra.”
I pushed back the emotions that welled up from my belly and started to draw tears. “It’s not your fault. There was nothing you could have done to save her.”
“I shouldn’t have brought you to that cave in the first place…”
I interrupted him. “Don’t go there. You didn’t know. And now you can warn the colony of the danger.”
He was quiet for a moment. “If they’ll listen.”
“They didn’t the last time. Why would they now?”
I reached over and took his hand. “We’ll make them listen.”
A few minutes later something occurred to me. “Michael, will the flitter take us directly to the hospital?”
“The quarantine facility most likely, but yes. That’s actually a good thing. Back on the southern continent, it was the only place that the plants couldn’t ever breach.”
I saw the slightly panicked look in his eyes. He shook it off and continued. “Did the bulb hurt you?…I mean, I don’t know exactly what it was doing to you, but I just assumed that…”
“Yes, it was raping me. It was driving me pretty damn well insane, actually.”
“Dee, I’m so sorry.”
“You came back, that’s all that matters. I asked about the hospital because… Well, right as it was taking me inside, it…” My hands started shaking.
“You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”
I rubbed my palms on my thighs to still the trembling. “No, I do… The bulb… It… It did something to me, just as it was closing up. I thought I was dead. I had given up all hope. I couldn’t fight it anymore, and the very last thing I remember was… Oh god…”
“It c-came, Michael.”
My face contorted. “It came… inside me.”
He just stared at me for many long seconds.
“There’s no reason to believe you could get pregnant. It’s a plant, and you’re not even currently fertile…”
I shook my head. “But there’s no reason to believe that I need to be. I’m scared, Michael. What if that thing put some kind of… seeds in me? What if I’m being used as a guinea-pig… to create something even more deadly?”
He didn’t have an answer, but by the look on his face, I could see that the possibility scared him as well. The landing alert caused us both to jump. I looked out the window and saw the roof of the medical facility as the drone zeroed-in on the beacon, and sighed. Regardless of what might or might not be growing in my womb, this horror was by no means over.