“What do you mean they’re gone?!” The wide eyed young woman said to her partner as she stepped down from the orange colored rock she had been standing on. A dry wind was starting to develop from the west, tossing about her curly red hair with a chaotic frenzy.
“I mean, they are g. o. n. e! They left without us!” The second girl looked as though someone had hit her in the stomach. Her voice trembled with hysteria. The fabric of her Grade 2 uniform fluttered in the breeze. She had her backpack off her shoulders and was dragging it behind her like some impossible burden.
“This has to be a joke,” complained the first girl, shaking her head. “They wouldn’t just leave us out here!”
“All I know is that I saw the transport leaving the dock,” said the second young woman, pushing some stray dark strands of her own hair out of her face.
“This is stupid. Somebody has to be fucking with us… Some kind of joke. Well I for one won’t fall for it.” Kicking a small round rock, the first girl headed down the hill, her boots leaving dusty tracks in the spartan landscape.
“Susan, where are you going?”
“Back to the dock. I have some chewing-out to do.”
The second girl watched for a moment and then started down herself.
“I can’t believe this!! How could somebody design a docking facility without a Comm unit?!” Susan stomped back and forth across the large, flat platform, her agitation rising. “Bree, you’re sure it was our transport you saw? Not some other one, just picking up fuel or something?”
“I’m positive. VM-228, that’s ours. Face it, Susan. They ditched us.”
“The Academy wouldn’t do that. Sure, our unit hates the fact that they’re the only one with girls in it, but they wouldn’t outright kill us for it.”
“Then this is some kind of mistake? What about the computer? Surely Sergeant Milko would have checked with the computer before leaving. It would have told him if someone was missing.”
Susan crouched and placed her hands on her head in frustration. “Whatever the cause, either they are turning around and will be here any minute, or something happened and we’re on our own. If the later is true then we have about two hours of life left before this place drops to minus one-fifty degrees and turns us to popsicles.”
“Isn’t there an emergency kit someplace,” asked Bree, mentioning to the docking facility.
“Looks like there used to be. It must have been used and never replaced. We’re screwed, Brianna.”
“Sir…” said the nervous marine as he approached the command group and saluted.
“Yes, Ensign,” replied the larger man from behind a cup of steaming liquid.
“Uh, sir… Two of my men failed to report in after the day trip exercise. I checked with my C/O and he said that the computer reported all men aboard before we left, so I figure they must have gone AWOL sometime after we got back.”
“Deserters? In our unit? I don’t believe it! We haven’t had a desertion in over twenty five years, soldier.”
“I know sir. That’s what I told my C/O. But these two… well, they…”
“Out with it, son! Was something wrong with these men?”
“Well… that’s just it, sir. They weren’t men, sir.”
“They were females… sir.”
“I know it sounds crazy,” said Susan as they hiked out into the flat alien landscape. “But the article said that the boy was completely safe.”
Brianna was warily gazing around them at the only type of indigenous life that lived out passed the tall mountain ranges. The huge, flower-like life forms covered the desert floor like a sensor array, each measuring at least 6 feet in diameter. “Are you trying to tell me that we can survive by jumping inside one of these things when it closes up for the night?”
“That’s right. The article said that the boy fell asleep near one and was trapped when it closed. They found him in the morning, unharmed. We just have to find one big enough.”
Brianna had heard about the strange pods too. How during the day, the large leaves laid open to the sun, soaking up light and heat. As the night came, and the cold, the pods would close up, trapping an air layer inside to keep the central stalk of the organism warm and safe. It wasn’t decided as to whether the pods were plants or animals. They seemed to feed on minerals in the ground, but like all the life on Octned 3, they were linked together with the rest of their world via a sort of psionic web. However, the source of that web had never been found. The Federation believed that there must be some indigeonous higher life form that they just hadn’t discovered yet.
She groaned inwardly as she stared at the glistening stalks around her. Most of these were about four feet high and covered with what looked like thick spaghetti hair which hung down about a foot. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the hair wasn’t moving. Each snake-like tendril slithered around slowly, probably to keep itself covered with the honey-like gel that the pod excreted to keep itself moist in the heat of the day. Whatever the reason, she couldn’t see herself snuggling up to the thing.
As they moved deeper into the “forest”, the stalks got larger. By the time the temperature was starting to chill Brianna through her uniform, the stalks were nearly eight feet high. Susan stopped before what had to have been one of the oldest pods in the sector. It towered over them, its leaves extending nearly ten feet out from the central stalk.
“This one should be big enough,” Susan exclaimed as she caught her breath.
Brianna looked up at the giant pod, her body starting to shiver in the cold. “And if it isn’t?”
“Then it won’t make any difference. Look, either we go for it and maybe survive, or we stay out here and freeze for sure. Even if the transport turned around the moment they got back to base, they wouldn’t arrive here in time to make a difference. Whatever we decide to do, it has to be soon. Some of the smaller pods are already closing.”
Brianna looked back where her classmate was pointing and could see what she meant. It was eerie to see the huge leaves rising up around the stalks. It was hard to imagine the strength needed to lift the thick sections that would become the outer walls of the pods. An icy wind brought her attention back.
“Alright, let’s get this over with,” she said, resolved. “What do we do?”
Susan turned back to their pod and stepped cautiously onto one of the leaves, the thick, hard surface easily supporting her weight.
“We should stand on either side of the stalk, facing out. That will give us the most room.”
Brianna stepped up to the other side, watching her classmate. Susan turned outward and slowly stepped back until her shoulders bumped into the stalk.
“Shit, that’s freaky feeling,” she exclaimed, crinkling her face. “But don’t worry… It seems safe enough.”
Brianna turned her back to the pod and made the final step back, putting her in contact with the slithering tendrils. She jumped as she felt them moving behind her, but swallowed her fear and tried to get used to it. “Yuck. Now what?”
No sooner had she spoken, then the pod vibrated slightly and the giant leaves started to rise up in front of her.
“I’m here, Bree… Steady…”
“I’m scared. What if there’s not enough room?”
Susan was wondering the same thing as the living wall slowly closed off her escape.
“Don’t worry, everything will be fine.”
And then they were in darkness.
“Bree, you still there?”
“Y-Yes… I’m okay. You?”
“Fine. Can you see anything?”
Brianna was about to say no, but in fact, she could just make out the wall in front of her.
“I see the inside of the pod. That’s weird…”
“I know. I think the leaves are glowing,” came Susan’s voice from all around her.
“They must be. I smell cherries.”
Susan laughed softly. It did smell like cherries. It was also instantly warmer.
“I think we’re going to be alright, Bree. Did you notice the temperature?”
“Yes. I think I can feel the warmth from the walls. Do you think there’s enough air?”
The other thought about it for a moment. “That kid didn’t have any trouble. I think that the pod may recycle it somehow. It has plant characteristics after all.”
As Brianna’s eyes adjusted, she could clearly make out the walls of the pod around her. She found that she had about six inches of free space in which to move, maybe even enough to rotate.
“I’m going to try and turn around,” she announced.
“You sure? You might not be able to reverse the process. Go slow…”
It was close, but with a minimum of grunting, she was able to turn around and lean against the wall of the pod, but she nearly slipped when her gel coated back made contact.
“No kidding… Watch yourself. That stuff on the stalk is slippery as hell.”
Facing the stalk was a bit unnerving. It’s one thing to have something slimy moving at your back, it’s quite another to have it wiggling six inches in front of your face.
“The shell is hard,” she complained, trying to wedge her buttocks comfortably.
“I think I’ll stay put for now,” came Susan’s voice from the other side of the stalk. She could just barely see one hand of her classmate around the thick trunk. “I can see though, that it’s going to get tiring standing here like this…”
“I’m not sure this way is any better,” replied Brianna shifting slightly to her left to get away from a bump.
They talked for about two hours, chatting about the Academy, their careers, philosophy, and the various males that they found attractive. Both tried to avoid conversation about the pod. Susan woke with a start, her mind pulled sharply from a rather erotic dream.
“Bree?…” She called out softly.
“Hmmm… uh.. Susan? Sorry, I was asleep.”
“Me too. Are you… okay?”
Brianna caught the edge in Susan’s voice. “Sure, I guess so. A bit warm actually. And you?”
“Well, standing isn’t a problem now…”
She stiffened. “What’s happened?”
“Um… It’s hard to describe. I think the stalk is holding me up.”
“I know it sounds weird, but some of the tendrils are looped around my arms and chest. I’m supported now. I can’t move around, but I couldn’t do that anyway.”
“Shit!” Exclaimed Brianna. “Are you okay? Do you want me to try and reach you?”
Susan thought about it for a moment. “No. Stay where you are. You might fall down and get stuck. I’m okay. It actually feels kinda nice.” It was like being in a crash cocoon exercise. The thin filaments didn’t seem to be bothering her, just holding her. She could still feel the tendrils moving around behind. One obnoxious strand had gotten in underneath her hair and was rubbing against the back of her neck. It was warm and slippery, but otherwise not uncomfortable. She could easily see how her current position would stir up her dreams they way they had been. The tendrils looped across her breasts felt a lot like a lover’s fingers, and the slow motion of the tendril at the base of her neck was nothing less than sexual.
She thought about the man she was currently seeing. She hadn’t made love with Trevor for nearly two weeks. Their schedules just hadn’t come together often enough. It couldn’t be helped, but it left both of them seriously hungry, sexually.
In her dream, she pictured herself in her room back at the Academy. Trevor entered and quietly moved to stand behind her. She loved the way he was so patient with her, allowing her desire to grow slowly, fully. He stroked her hair, her neck and arms. His hands moved softly down the sides of her thighs and then back up again, coming around her belly and up her torso until they rested on her breasts. His fingers gently caressed her full mounds until her nipples were hard points under her uniform. Then, with infinite care, he started unsnapping the hooks of her tunic. When he reached the bottom, he let his fingers slowly slide back up her chest, this time inside her clothing. Susan gasped as his warm fingers reached over her breasts again, cupping her, and gently messaging her skin until her nipples were pulsing with arousal.
One hand moved down her body, sliding over her taut belly to the belt of her pants. With great skill, his fingers popped the buckle and loosened the garment enough to allow his hand to slip down inside and cover her Mons, gently playing in the soft, tight curls above her flower. Susan felt the growing tension in her belly of sexual excitement. She smiled and moaned softly when Trevor’s hand moved a little lower and started to drift over the moist flesh of her gates. She gasped at the sudden rush of pleasure that was building in her loins. His fingers felt so smooth against her. They glided over her apex as if they were coated in thick oil. It felt wonderful.
She heard her name on the loudspeaker and cursed inwardly. How could they disturb her now.
She ignored the call. She was getting close now, Trevor’s fingers were becoming more and more bold, sliding along the slit of her lips… drawing out her passion as they slowly worked deeper and deeper…
Brianna’s voice woke her from the dream, pulling her from a fog of eroticism. She could hear the panic in her friend’s voice and adrenalin surged through her body. Then she had the startling realization that the wonderful pleasure she was experiencing in her dream hadn’t stopped. Looking down, she nearly screamed.
“Oh my god!” She gasped. The tendrils of the stalk were looped all around her body. Just as in her dream, her tunic was open and her pants loosed around her hips. But instead of Trevor’s hands, were dozens of thick filaments. She stared in awe as the thin tentacles slipped over her nipples, covering her with a glistening layer of the honey-like gel and causing a wave of sexual pleasure to ripple down her body.
More tendrils moved over her hips and down into her pants, where they were joined by more that had reached in from behind. They came up under her and just like in her dream, were slowly easing into the now slick folds of her womanhood.
Susan barely had time to take it all in before she felt an orgasm wash up and grip her mind in ecstasy.
Meanwhile, Brianna had her own troubles.
She too had awoken with a start. As her mind cleared of sleep, she found herself being pulled face-first toward the stalk. Tendrils were looped around her wrists, ankles and waist. She struggled for a moment, but soon had to reach out and turn her head in order to keep from falling into the wriggling mass of tentacles before her. She squished against the stalk and was quickly wrapped in hundreds of slippery filaments.
“No….” she moaned, knowing it was useless to fight. She was hopelessly bound. Her body was pulled up tight against the stalk, and she could feel the active tendrils all around her. She expected death, possibly by strangulation, but instead, the slippery fingers started to unbutton her tunic. In total disbelief, she struggled in vain to free herself as the clasps were undone one by one. She could also feel her belt buckle pop.
How could this creature know how to do these things, and what was it going to do to her once it had her clothes off!?
Her arms were pulled up above her head, stretching her out so that her chest was taut when the first tendrils of the stalk slipped in and reached hungrily for her breasts.
“OH! Ughnnnn… NO!…” she pleaded as they curled around her now hard nipples, causing wonderful fire to radiate outward. Her boots were pulled away, and her pants were sliding down her bare thighs. Everything happened so quickly, that Brianna was hardly able to make any sense out of her demise. In the background, she heard her classmate’s sharp cries and knew she was on her own. Something about Susan’s voice added to her own fears though. Her rapid gasps were not of pain, but something she recognized as pleasure.
When her lower garment was gone, her legs were pulled forward, her thighs spread to either side of the stalk.
“Ahhhh! Oh god, no!… UGHMMMM!” She moaned as the naked flesh of her smooth thighs came in contact with the pillar of slippery tendrils. Quickly, they wrapped around her bare body, pulling her deeper into the mass of writhing appendages, caressing every inch of her creamy skin and coating her with the thick honey. They reached around her back and buttocks, drawing her hips tight against the searching mass. She gasped in the sudden shock of arousal, her body twisting and straining to escape the slippery rape.
Several tendrils found her apex and slowly eased into her.
“UGH! UGH! Oh g-gods! UGHN! UMMMMMM!” She gasped as they worked inside her, deeper and deeper. Almost at once, her hips started to move against the stalk in a slow humping rhythm. Her nipples pulsed with arousal as dozens of fingers played with her chest and torso. In moments, her whole body was being caressed to the point of near insanity.
The pumping of her hips increased in tempo, and the rest of her torso began to undulate against the stalk as well. It was a totally unconscious and unstoppable action. It was a purely sexual response to being fucked, deeply, erotically, and in a way that was so complete that it left no room for any thought save total ecstasy. Her pelvis gyrated against the alien lover even as her head went back in orgasm. When she would have pulled back a bit with any other lover, the stalk merely continued steadily on, plunging in and out of her body unceasingly. Shocked, and utterly helpless to resist, she burst into another timeless moment of bliss, and then another, and another and another…
Susan was being driven wild in a different way. Her first orgasm had nearly pushed her into unconsciousness, but now the alien life form that held her was being far more seductive.
Holding her thighs wide, the tentacles at her flower had pulled out and were now playing havoc with her clitoris. Teasingly, they would slide along her folds and touch her in just the right way as to cause a deep, almost painful sensation of pleasure to wash up her body. They were doing this over and over, never quite letting her have the release that her body desired. Her torturous seduction went on and on until she was nearly sobbing with need.
Then, all at once, the tendrils slipped deep into her, wriggling and twisting. Shock and instant orgasm hit Susan like a hot wind and she cried out in wonderful ecstasy. Her hips rocked violently and her back arched as she drowned in terrible pleasure for what seemed an eternity.
Finally, as her mind came back to the present, she felt the familiar touch of the tentacles as they slipped gently and lightly up her folds, starting the whole pattern over again.
“Nooooo…. Mmmmmm… Ughhmmmmm….” She moaned, knowing what was coming, and that she was powerless to resist or stop it. On and on she was slowly tortured this way, each time finding it more and more arousing than before. She would resist, but no matter how she tried, the slow seduction always got the best of her. Her body trembling, she whimpered and gasped at the gradually building passion. She struggled in vain to break free but was completely at the mercy of the alien creature that teased her. She twisted and rocked her body, begging for release, but the stalk was nothing but consistent.
“Major! Over here!”
The group of men rushed over to where the nude bodies of the two girls were laid out on the surface of the massive pod leaves. The dark-haired one was on her back, her eyes open but unfocused. The other, the red-haired girl, was face down.
“Ryther,” said the man in charge as he followed the others calmly. “Call HQ and tell them we found the missing cadets and will have them sent to medical for autopsies as soon as possible… what the hell? Sergeant! Why are they out of uniform?”
“That’s unknown, Sir. If I had to field a guess, I’d have to say they were engaged in some kind of sexual activity.”
The older man, sighed and groaned. “Great… the first desertion we have in a quarter century and it’s by a couple of lesbian lovers. Command is going to chew me into…”
“SIR! They’re alive!”
Confused, the man moved over to where the group of cadets was circled around the females. “Make a hole! What did you say, Private?”
“Sir, the girls, sir. They’re not dead, just unconscious.”
“That’s impossible! It was minus a hundred and fifty-five last night! No one could have survived that.”
“If you say so, sir, but both females have a pulse and are breathing on their own… Their vitals seem a little erratic, but otherwise strong. There’s not even any sign of frostbite.” The Private was carefully checking the dark-haired girl.
There was a snicker from the gathered men. “Yeah, maybe they kept warm by rubbing together vigorously…”
“Stow that, Cadet!” said the one named Ryther.
“Sergeant, what in Sam Hill’s going on here?!”
The other scratched his chin for a moment before answering. “Well sir, if I had to make a guess, and I’m certainly no tech…”
“Well, I’d say that they spent the night inside that there pod plant.”
“Inside?” Asked the Major, incredulous.
“Yes, sir. The plants close up at night when it starts to get cold, and with one this big I’d venture to bet there’d be just enough room inside for two cadets. It’d be a tight fit, but they’re pretty small. The plants close to escape the cold, so it’s likely they would have been quite warm.”
“Can you think of any reason they would take their clothes off?”
Once again the man considered his words. “Well, if one of them was suffering from exposure, the other may have been trying to warm them up by transferring body heat… standard survival training.” He knew the explanation was pushing it. Body-heat transfer didn’t usually require the removal of undergarments, but he was hesitant to suggest that the girls might have been more intimate. Things were tense enough.
The older man sighed, resigned to an awkward explanation with Command.
“Major! Cadet Millson is regaining consciousness!” said the one attending Susan.
“Finally! Maybe now we can find out what the hell is going on.” Crouching down next to the female, the Major tried to look concerned.
“S-s-sir…” said Susan, weakly.
“Relax, Cadet. The med-team is on the way. Are you strong enough to report?”
“I… I’ll try, sir.”
“Good girl. Take your time, but try to be thorough.”
“Y-yes, sir. Bree… Cadet Stiles and I… were a little late reporting back from our survey when Stiles saw the transport leaving.”
“Leaving? Without you?”
“Sergeant! Didn’t you do a roll call?”
“Of, course, sir,” answered the man in question next to him. “I had the computer verify that all men were aboard.”
“All m-men?” Susan stared up at her commanding officer.
“That’s right, all… oh… holy shit, you don’t think the computer took me literally do you?”
Susan just groaned.
“Ryther, I suggest that you have tactical take a good look at those interface protocols. Seems we found a ‘glitch’.”
“Go on, Cadet.”
“Sir. Once we realized we were on our own, we checked the emergency kit, but it was missing. Our only other option was to try and survive by standing inside a pod. It worked, but not quite like we planned.”
“Why did you remove your uniforms,” asked the Major, trying not to stare at the girl’s bare shoulders. A blanket covered the rest of her.
“We didn’t, sir. That was the pod.”
“The pod? How…?”
“Well, I think I should tell you, sir, that I believe Cadet Stiles and I have found the source of your psi emissions.”
“I don’t follow you, Private,” said Sergeant Ryther.
“It’s the pods, sir. They’re the missing higher life form. I’m sure of it.”
The major frowned. “But they’re plants…”
“Perhaps,” continued Susan. “but I can tell you with complete certainty that they are empathic, at least at short range. We fell asleep inside the pod when it closed. My dreams were, well… a bit sexual in nature… sir. And when I awoke, I found the plant matching my dream precisely.”
“Are you sure it wasn’t the other way around, Cadet?”
She shrugged. “Maybe, but either way, it was smart enough to work the clasps and seams on my uniform while it restrained me and stripped me bare.”
“It… are you serious?”
“Yes, sir. It then proceeded to, er… stimulate me… intimately… Just like in my dream,” she said, blushing.
“Good lord,” exclaimed the Major. “Er, for how long?”
“Well,” continued Susan, a bit flustered. “I couldn’t have been in the pod more than a couple of hours before I fell asleep, and I wasn’t out long, so it started maybe three hours after sunset. And it stopped when the pod opened in the morning sun.”
“Shit, that’s almost fifteen hours!” The Sergeant was stunned.
“Yes, sir,” she replied turning bright red.
“Well, that’s quite an ordeal, Cadet. You can consider that time as double hazard pay, with special compensation to be determined at a later date.”
“Uh, thank you sir, but I’m pretty happy just to be alive. Besides, as terrified as I was, I can’t say I wasn’t enjoying it. That’s one of the reasons I’m convinced of the pod’s intelligence. It knew just how to, er… I mean, it was really good at… uh… aw, shit, sir. That thing knew what it was doing. It was just too damn creative, even with my dream to guide it.”
“Well, I’ll pass on your information to bio-research and let them figure it out, in the mean time, you let medical take care of you.”
“Brianna… I mean Cadet Stiles. Is she okay?”
The other man smiled. “She was in shock when we got here, but I think she’s coming out of it. Don’t worry, she’ll be fine.”
Susan looked relieved.
The Major frowned as he watched the pair being carried on stretchers to the waiting transport.
“You think she’s right,” he asked Sergeant Ryther. “About the pods being higher life forms.”
The man sighed. “Who knows. Research will sort it out. But I’ll tell you one thing… I feel real sorry for those two.”
“Sorry? Because of what happened in the pod?”
“Well, sort of. Think about it, sir. What guy could match an experience like that? They’re in for a disappointing love life I think. I mean, fifteen hours! Do you think YOU could go fifteen hours straight?”
“I think I see your point.”
“I know I couldn’t, Major, and I’m pretty sure there isn’t a man in the unit that could.”
“Hmm. Well, to be safe, we better have MilComOps reclassify Octned 3 as a Class N hazard before the media gets hold of this. The last thing we need is three dozen transports filled with rich, undersexed females looking for a good time with the new aliens.”