On the thirteenth day, scraping woke me. Scratching and scraping. From the surface end of the tunnel. Improbably fortuitously, a ship had arrived. And they were digging me out. I tapped furiously, clung to any hope. I've been so lucky, been close to death and escaped so many times - I knew a pile of rocks could never get the better of me.
Another thought sobered me: even if I get out alive, I'll have to face the fact that my rescuers will probably also be my executioners.
They moved painstakingly slowly. As they got closer, pricks of light began to twinkle between the rocks and boulders. More rubble was cleared. At last I could move my arms, turn my head. My torso was carefully freed, but my legs were still trapped.
There was a rumble in a nearby tunnel and dust and debris began to rain as cracks appeared in the low roof above my head. Incredibly strong hands suddenly pulled me free, dragged me swiftly along the tunnel and to the surface. Daylight! The mountain growled, vomiting a thick cloud of dust into the midday sky as the tunnel closed forever. I remember staring at my reflection in the glass of an Executive visor before blacking out.
I opened my eyes and slowly looked around. It was all so beautiful. The peaks soared above me, their constantly frosted coating sparkling in the pale sunshine. Far below, on the vast, sandy plain, the methane lakes winked and rippled like molten amber. I turned to my rescuer who sat on a boulder beside me.
'Thank you... Thank you. I...'
'No, please. You are most welcome.' He held out his hand in a universal greeting. 'Call me Alex.'
I took his hand and hauled myself to my feet. I tried to walk but my suit was too badly damaged. He picked me up, threw me over his shoulder and climbed. After about a hundred feet, he fed me through a narrow crevasse, squeezed through himself, then carried me down through a network of tunnels I'd never mapped. After five minutes of tireless descent, we eased through a newly-made opening and I suddenly realised where we were. A minute later and I was home.
I depressurised the suit. It hissed and groaned; opened with difficulty and I clambered from it. It was a fucking mess, had sacrificed itself for me. It stood like the split, dead shell of some once fearsome alien. My rescuer stepped similarly from his. I knew him but didn't recognise him.
'Moon, are you ok? God, I thought I had lost you.'
I was momentarily dumbfounded, though remembered our exchange on the surface.
'Alex? That is the name you chose?'
A name from countless legends, told to me as a child, of the man who led the impossible expedition that carried the last humans from their war-ravaged Earth, and whose strength, foresight and wisdom ensured their subsequent survival.
'Yes. What else? The most auspicious, most revered name in the system. Yes, that is my name. And it's an acronym, too, so I'll never forget my roots: Automatic Loving EXperience. I was a cock in a box. Now I'm almost a man!’
He laughed. So did I. Then I stared in amazement. He was about six feet tall, well-built, beautifully proportioned and sculpted. Inexplicably, his right hand covered his genitals: my 'cock in a box' was now a modest, naked stranger. I ran my fingers down his chest and gazed into the cameras crudely attached to prehensile stalks on his shoulders. I watched the corneas open and the lenses focus. His body was brown and looked oiled, but felt just like smooth human skin. His head was bowed; his face, though featureless, seemed to gaze into my soul. I had to turn away.
'I'm sorry. So sorry, Moon. What must you think of me?'
'I mean I was self-absorbed. Totally submerged in my own improvements. I switched off all extraneous circuits. Time stood still for me. I wanted to finish myself, to surprise you. Meanwhile, you nearly died.'
'Alex...' I paused as I used his name for the first time, knew this was a seminal moment for both of us. 'I gave you a project, something to keep you occupied while I got on with my own work. It's not your fault. And, fuck me, look what you've achieved! It's unbelievable.'
He began quietly berating himself while pacing up and down. He moved smoothly, naturally. I'd even say gracefully. After a thoughtful pause, he addressed me again.
'You are alive by chance. Is life always so... arbitrary?' I nodded my head and he continued. 'I wanted to ask you something. Something trivial. It's the only reason I noticed the time, realised ten of your days had flown by with no sign of you.'
I spoke slowly, stretched it out, but my sentence wasn't big enough for all the wonder and gratitude I had to convey.
'And what was the question that saved my life?'
'Should I have hair?'
I showered, shaved my head, underarms, legs and vulva. I love to be hairless and told him I'd prefer him likewise. The hot water cascaded down my body, stimulating every inch of my skin. I stood beneath the flow, simply enjoying the sensation of being alive. After eating a swift meal, I settled down in my cot, expecting sleep to come quickly, but somehow, despite all I've been through, I wasn't tired. I stared up into the darkness, my mind whirring, my body tingling.
'How much of a man.'
I could sense him in the darkness, knew he was observing me with all his sensors. I wasn't operating him, wasn’t commanding him. This wasn't programming. He was making up his mind, considering his next move. His words amazed me.
'In the beginning, you gave me a primary objective. To make you cum.' I nodded in the darkness, knowing he would sense it. 'Something has happened to me. It feels like...' There was a long, fragile silence that I struggled not to break. 'I will now do it because I want to, not because you told me to. Do you understand that?'
'I think so. Yes.'
'I want to make you happy in every way. I want to make you cum, yes, but also to laugh, smile... feel safe, sated, whole. I want to fill the emptiness, end your loneliness... replace all you have lost: your mother, father, sister... Zak, Alice... everyone. I want to take away your pain, your anger and... and replace it with...'
I heard him cross the smooth, hard floor between us and I whimpered with anticipation.
The first touch was blissful. A soft hand brushed my cheek, crossed my lips. I kissed him, running my lips along the length of his curled index finger. He stroked my neck and I arched my back, my pussy aching for his touch. Strong hands kneaded my shoulders, easing the tension from my taut muscles. I suddenly realised how stiff and sore all my body was. He massaged me expertly, tirelessly, restoring flexibility and vitality wherever he touched. As I relaxed, exhaustion took over and I began to slip into sleep, but I jolted awake as he firmly cupped my breasts. Gentle fingers drew decreasing circles around my areola till he teased my nipples erect with his incredibly sensitive hands. He knew my body so well, had all the data on how to create the most intense sensations in me, how to milk the deepest responses from me. I could wait no longer.
'Make love to me, Alex.'
I reached down expecting to find the cock I had fashioned for him; I was shocked by what I found. It was so sophisticated compared to the crude pulsing dildo I had made. This felt like a cock, behaved like a cock. A real live cock. At the base, his testicles dangled in perfect wrinkled sacks. I wrapped my fingers around him, wanked him, felt the thin outer layer of skin slide across the stiff shaft beneath. I pushed down, squeezed it hard and he groaned.
'Does that feel good for you?'
His answer was instant and heavy with desire. Simulated or not, it made my juices flow.
‘Oh, fuck, yes. Do it again. Wank my cock. Oh...'
'It's feels so fucking real! How does it...feel to you?'
'I spent hours on the distribution of nerve endings, used two suit hands' worth in just a square inch. To make it all the better to pleasure you with. I concentrated them right...' I'd already guessed. My index finger traced small circles on the underside of his glans. '...there! Fuck, yes! Sensation overload!'
The expert twists and squeezes he applied to my nipples as I titillated him were making me cum. I stopped him, then guided his erection towards my cunt. The wetness I found there surprised even me. He pushed home the tip then teased me. Eased it in and out. Slightly deeper with each thrust, but never quite as deep as I needed. The frustration was delicious.
'Fuck me and I'll cum. Please, Alex, fuck me.'
He quickly and cleverly turned me over while remaining inside me. This was like a dream and I had to check my senses to confirm the reality. Pressure on my hands and knees. A stiff shaft stretching my pussy. Firm, warm hands gripping my buttocks. It felt very real.
Slowly, being careful not to hurt me, he tested his length against my depth. With the full length pulsing rhythmically inside me, he reached round and began stimulating my clit with very skillful vibrating fingers. It was more than I could stand. As he felt my orgasm start, he fucked me with long slow strokes, increasing in power and frequency till he slammed his torso relentlessly against my arse. Every thrust elicited a cry from me that grew in intensity and pitch till I was screaming. Echoes bounced off the cave's hard walls, a call and response that turned me on even more. Wave after wave of powerful contractions rocked through me, each one filling me to overflowing with indescribable pleasure.
He knew when I was sated, knew exactly when to slow and stop, when to withdraw. He wrapped his strong arms around me and spooned me. I felt exhausted, safe, happy, fulfilled... loved.
Rotation 129: 2236
Yesterday and today have been a bit of a blur. I ate and drank. We fucked. I slept. Woke up. We fucked again. I ate and drank some more. Then we fucked some more. I slept again and woke to find him holding me. Again I slept and he cradled me all the while. The trauma of my entombment is being slowly realised and released. I have flashbacks, nightmares and find myself suddenly crying uncontrollably. The intensity of the sex is cathartic, takes me somewhere incredibly positive. It helps me let go of the fear and overcome the feelings of utter helplessness I felt inside my hi-tech coffin. Alex is so aware, so sensitive. So human. His transformation is unbelievable.
He's a living suit without the armoured outer layer - with a metal, moving skeleton on the inside rather than a person. At the moment, he is six feet tall, broad and brown-skinned though he is always changing. He cuts the skin, shapes the metal structure below then the skin heals and remoulds to his skeleton. He sculpts himself, looks at himself, as though searching for some ideal. His head is constantly changing as he works and reworks it. It was blank when he saved me, simply an unfinished addition. Now he has eyes, ears, a nose, and a mouth of sorts. His voice seems to emanate from there, but not as convincingly as it could do. He will get it right. He labours determinedly, incessantly.
He tells me that on the tenth day, when he'd realised something was wrong, he'd repaired a damaged CPU and had used it to augment his own brain to speed up his calculations. That's when his work really took off. Whether by luck or design, his new brain is much more powerful, can make astonishing connections. He's a fucking genius. And he is still evolving.
Common sense says his desire to save me was driven by his primary objective: to make me cum. And, thankfully, I have to be alive to cum. So, the embodiment of my sex drive saved my life. I'd love to think it was more, but I have to remain objective here. However sophisticated he appears to be, he is still a machine. Isn't he?
The collapsed tunnel had been impassable. He'd searched for another route, broke through into another system of tunnels and worked his way to the surface. From that side of the rock fall, he could hear me tapping, but couldn't shift the rocks.
To use the Executive soldier's suit was the final stroke of genius. He is incredibly strong without it; inside it, he tests the suit's materials to their limits, does things no human ever could. It took him two days to reach me. No person working on his own, or even in a team, could have saved me. In the entire galaxy, he is the only entity who could have got me out, the only one who would have risked all for me. Life is indeed arbitrary. I am a very lucky girl.
Rotation 133: 2236
Again, I did nothing but eat, fuck and sleep today. By contrast, he is always active. Never resting. He waits on me, takes care of me. Slakes my every thirst. He is unconditionally good to me. Asks for nothing. Makes me feel guilty - I must never take him for granted! I was alone and now I am not. Where did he come from? He's certainly not a machine, something I made. I can't think of him as a machine any more. It's like I somehow gave birth to him, but he's my lover not my son. He has personality, wit... a point of view. And he cares for me. Machines don't care.
While I slept, Alex donned his suit, spent the afternoon clearing away the rubble outside the tunnel entrance and flattened the ground. He says that although it makes the tunnel a little more visible, it takes away cover: the fifty yards of open ground an attacker would have to cross once having scaled the cliff would be easy for us to defend. Then, starting at the surface end of the collapsed tunnel, he cut through into the new system of tunnels he found the day he rescued me. It's now easier to get to the surface again and not much further than it was before.
Rotation 135: 2236
Footsteps and a forced cough woke me. I opened my eyes to find a suit standing by my bed. Shimmering and gleaming. Like nothing I've ever seem before. It looked fantastic. Very cool.
'Get up, Moon. Lots to do.'
As he spoke, he was, as usual, working on himself. Cutting and moulding; re-healing and appraising. Constantly fine-tuning, micro-adjusting. He often searches my face for approval, only moves on when I give it. Like a mechanical Changer, he is slowly metamorphosing into my ideal man.
'Thank you, Alex. But where...'
'It's yours, your old suit. I cleaned it up a bit.'
I stood quickly and looked the suit over. It was unrecognisable.
'My old suit? Really? Wow, that's amazing!'
'Made a couple of improvements. Loved your cloaking, by the way. Added it to mine too. Hope you don't mind.'
'I'm flattered, Alex.' I picked up a piece of sautéed fungus left from last night's meal and absently chewed the corner. 'So, what are your plans for today?'
He eased the scrap of food from my fingers and fetched me a tray of breakfast he'd prepared. I thanked him, sat down and took a swig of icy purple fungus juice. Nice. I was intrigued; he's not woken me before, always waits for me to take the lead.
'We are searching, recovering.'
'And may I ask what we are searching for?'
The lemon sky was clear; the air was still. I could see for a hundred miles. Alex pointed down to the largest of the lakes. Haze lifted from its surface, gently distorting the ochre plain and the distant blue mountains beyond. My earpieces crackled.
'We will start there. It is the most likely place.'
'The fighter? The one that Ernest shot down? How...'
'How did I know? The suit. When I donned it to dig you out, I hooked into its CPU and scrolled through its memories. The crashing fighter was the last thing the suit recorded before a laser-nife ripped through its occupant's throat.'
Memories came flooding back.
'The last guy I killed... that suit was his!'
'Girl. She was seventeen.'
A girl? Fuck. Five years younger than me. I was shocked, had assumed I was killing hardened commandoes. Alex ignored my bewilderment.
'The fighter simply vanished into the darkness with no explosion. That's the key. There is a blip on the soundtrack, amid the gunfire, that could be the fighter hitting the lake's surface. I know the suit's location and orientation. Simple geometry and mechanics traced it to there.'
It was great to be outside again, wonderful to be walking, climbing. I was soon breathing heavily, my heart pounding hard. I felt so alive. We talked all the way down the mountain, never lacking something to say. When we reached the plain, we raced, skimming the surface with huge bounds. It was obvious he wasn't really trying, but he did his best to hide it. We covered the two miles in less than thirty seconds. I just beat him and collapsed onto the soft red sand, fighting for breath, the blood pounding in my temples.
'You've... got to be... quick to beat me, mister!'
'Oh, were we racing?'
'Don't come that! Same time tomorrow?'
'Er, okay - as long as you give me a start.'
I was still laughing as he pulled me to me feet.
From the shore, Alex scanned the depths of the lake and instantly found what he was looking for.
'Several large metallic fragments. The biggest about... twenty feet long. Maybe,' he pointed a finger, 'half a mile out and about a hundred feet down.'
We waded in. He gave me a thumbs-up. I smiled, signalled back and we plunged beneath the surface.
As you'd expect, it was much easier than moving in water. The liquid was clear, free from pollutants, but grew murky-brown the deeper we went. At a hundred feet, we were using all our sensors to create an image to guide us. I peered around at the lake's smooth floor. It was virtually clear of obstacles; an occasional small boulder littered a gently undulating sandy carpet.
Suddenly, about thirty feet ahead, a black shape, unmistakably man-made, loomed out of the gloom. I knew the fighter would have fragmented on impact; this section of fuselage would definitely be the biggest piece of wreckage. It was partially buried. We used our hands to shovel the sand away then took our places at opposite sides of it. Our suits lifted it with ease. With Alex leading the way, we carried it carefully to the shore.
The pale daylight made it easier to assess our find. There was the shattered, blasted wing, and in the cockpit, the pilot, looking as though he didn't even know he was dead. The bulk of the craft was intact. That inspired us, gave us greater impetus. After many more forays into the depths, scanning a huge area, we recovered every part that survived. It was hard work carrying all the pieces back to the mountains, but by nightfall our task was completed. We hid our haul - over three hundred pieces in all - in a shallow cave and began our climb back up the rock face.
'Can we fix it?'
'I'm sure we can. I'll do a full appraisal tomorrow. There's enough left of The Aria to patch the bodywork and the rest should be easy enough.'
He sounded so positive, my leaden heart transmuted into hydrogen and I floated up the last five hundred feet of mountain.
The sun was setting as we clambered into the mouth of the tunnel that took us home. What an awesome day in many ways.
'You get some sleep. I'll make a start, see what I can do.'
I began to protest, but he simply hugged me, subdued me. As he did so, I became aware of a mountain of exhaustion I was suspending by a slender, fraying thread of adrenaline. I nodded, turned wearily and followed the piercing beam of my helmet torch into the darkness. I pictured him spidering swiftly down the cliff face, his brilliant mind already awhirl with planning and designing. Hope! Hope at last.
Rotation 136: 2236
Suffice to say, when I returned to the cave where we'd stored the recovered wreckage, Alex had made amazing progress. He'd sorted everything into neat rows and had begun rebuilding. While I'd slept, he'd made this cave his workshop, had silently returned to collect welding equipment and an array of tools. He'd also begun salvaging parts from our old ship.
The remains of The Aria are in a huge cavern about a mile north-east of Alex's new workshop. It had seemed an ideal place to secrete a ship, but the Executive had found it easily enough. Destroyed it in seconds. She was a great ship and had been a mobile home to us for almost two years before we fled to this moon. I came to think of her as our ship, as if we'd acquired her legitimately, which was far from the truth.
Her capture was Zak's idea, though it didn't quite go to plan. In fact it was almost a total fucking disaster. We lost three that day: Abe, Jonas and Laura. Laura was from my home dome and we had lots in common.
She reminded me of Star, my little sister. The constant questions and bright trusting eyes. Initially, I helped train Laura then befriended her and quickly came to love her, so her loss was doubly painful to me. I'd never mourned Star, clung to the hope that she, like me, had survived and escaped. I imagined one day, when this was all over, meeting her again. She'd be grown up, slim, tall and beautiful. Blonde hair still long and impossibly frizzy. Still laughing and happy as she always was. Laura's brutal death brought home the unlikeliness of that, stripped away that hope. Our story will have no fairytale ending.
The Aria had a reputation for being swift, manoeuvrable and well-armed. Like pirates, we feigned distress then boarded and disabled her. We fought a terrifying battle to take her in which the crew refused to surrender. It was bloody and awful and gave me nightmares for years. But take her we did. We were constantly amazed by what we had captured: the Aria was sleek and deadly. In the right hands, she was virtually uncatchable.
Alex had cannibalised charred chunks of The Aria's hull and was surrounded by myriad unrecognisable components salvaged from her mangled innards. He was a blur of often deafening, sparking activity punctuated by short spells of total stillness while he computed his next move. I am in awe of him. This thing I created now has a life of its own, has quickly surpassed me in every useful way.
‘Don’t just stand there…’
I knew he was poking gentle fun at me. There was nothing I could do that would not slow him down.
‘I'm useless - can’t even get you a drink or fix you something to eat.’
‘You can observe, make suggestions. There will be things your brain will spot that mine does not yet have the capacity to recognise.’
He was humouring me. If I did notice anything going awry, he corrected it before I could open my mouth. In the moments of calm between frenzied activity, he would look at me, his awkward smile clearly visible through the tinted glass of his visor. My heart thuds in my chest when he does so. Oh, Moon. What is happening to you?
Rotation 147: 2236
Another day spent on my own, but it was bearable - because we made love last night.
It gets better every time. I’ve never surfed, but I have read about it and long to try. I imagine he is the sea, bearing me up, effortlessly supporting me and expertly holding me on a wave of euphoria. His touches impel me forward, through an unending tunnel of ecstasy. It crashes and closes behind me, but he balances me, gives me the faith and strength to keep moving forward. At the point of being overwhelmed, he steers me into open water and the cycle begins again. Another wave drives me on, surrounds me, protects me, while threatening to submerge me. Again, I ride it, putting myself entirely in his hands. I trust him totally, cum over and over till I am exhausted and have to beg him to stop. It's fantastic.
Most nights he doesn’t return and I ache for him. I imagine him, tirelessly working. Shaping, fitting, testing, welding. And feel guilty for my selfishness. Still, I wonder if he misses me, if he even knows I am waiting for him. Naked, yearning, unable to sleep. Does he even know it is night? He is so focussed, so relentless, I wonder if he even notices the passage of time.
Rotation 148: 2236
Packing again today. And planning our future.
I found him looking through the belongings of my old friends today; things I haven't touched since they died. He said it helped him understand what it is to be human. Said it might help him blend into our new world. He looked very pensive. I reassured him, told him he'll be just fine.
I am sure that when he is complete, he will convince anyone he is human. Even his lovers. It breaks my heart to say that, but I know he will outlive me, possibly outlive and outgrow the entire System. He can fashion any part of himself that breaks or becomes defective. He can live forever.
For the first few days after we found the fighter, I climbed down to help him with his work, but it was simply a waste of time: there was nothing I could do to assist him. However, there is much to do here in our living area. Our living area: how good does that sound? If all goes to plan then we will soon be leaving this place. There are preparations to make. Most importantly, I have to find us a home. Somewhere close to civilisation, but somewhere we can also choose solitude should we need it.
On one of those early days, Alex glanced up from his work and saw me brooding. He smiled to lift my spirits. Well, he tried to. He never gets it right: it either looks forced or simply ridiculous. His efforts worked, anyway: I laughed and he frowned questioningly.
'I'm laughing at that smile. It will be the last thing you get right. Brain the capacity of Antipodei 6, yet you can't manage something so simple.'
'What's so funny? What's wrong with it?' He's never offended by my comments, however blunt, is always curious as to how he can improve.
'A smile is not something you do; it's something that happens... starts down here,' I placed my hand on my heart, 'and grows, blossoms.'
'Mmm, due to my physiology, that may be difficult for me.'
'Difficult, yes. Smiling is quintessentially human, but not beyond you. You will get it; I am in no doubt of that.'
Rotation 149: 2236
Deciding what to take and what to leave is a nightmare. I need a souvenir from each of my friends, something that will keep them alive in my memory. I'd love to do something artistic with them, not just create a shrine. Blend the keepsakes into an image that exists in its own right. It will take pride of place in our new home. People will say, 'Mmm, I love that! What does it represent?' I'll smile so sweetly and mumble something arty and abstract. They will never guess in a million years.
We were killers, lovers, pirates, soldiers, freedom fighters. We were hiding. We were found. We were annihilated. I survived. I made a machine to fuck me. It made itself into a superman. He built a ship from wreckage. He rescued me, brought me here.
I checked on him late evening. The air was clear and the night sky was stunningly beautiful. I reached the bottom of the cliffs and entered his workshop. What greeted my eyes was unbelievable.
Where there was once a junkyard, there is now order. The pristine hull of an Executive fighter sits atop a custom-built stand. It’s amazing. The original had but one seat, but he’s redesigned it for two. Incredibly, some of the weaponry was undamaged by the crash and may help us if we are pursued. The once shattered wing is now indistinguishable from the other. Fuck, it's fantastic. He was applying a coat of black paint, paint he’s manufactured from the moon’s raw materials. And adding markings to match similar fighters his Executive suit has memory of.
He was naked, adding tiny details to the fuselage with a spray and stencil. For short periods on the surface, he can dispense with his suit; his own protective skin is adequate. However, he’s worked tirelessly now for days and nights on end and the atmosphere would have corroded even him without the suit’s extra protection. He steps out of it for intricate work – a naked superman oblivious of the deadly cold and poisoned air – and when satisfied, steps back in. The suit quickly expels toxins while simultaneously backing up his memory to the server housed in our living area. He built the server so ‘Whatever happens to me, I’ll never lose my memory,’ and constructed the chain of relays that carry the signal through the mountain’s lead shield. That’s not for his benefit. It’s for mine. He knows that without him, I am lost. He’s right, and in more ways than he can possibly imagine. Alex is thorough, indefatigable, and seems to have thought of everything. I love him. I wonder if he's thought of that?
Rotation 152: 2236
It is ready. The fighter is ready and it’s fucking beautiful. I sat in it and Alex took me through the controls, guided me through many simulations. I grasped the rudiments easily enough, though there is still much to learn. He could fly it solo, but insists I must also learn to fly. Thoroughness to the point of obsession: what else should I expect by now?
Its first flight will be its last – we dare not hang around here once airborne: Executive sensors will report any craft entering or leaving the atmosphere and their troops could be here in hours.
Rotation 153: 2236
Now all is ready. I have packed supplies for twelve weeks, though the journey should take much less. Antipodei 10 will be our new home. It is so numbered because it was the tenth planet in the system to be colonised. Small and closest to Sol, it is furthest from civilisation, though has several small settlements on its constant dark side. It is a fledgling society, insignificant enough to be mostly overlooked by The Law. It will be closely monitored, of course, but I've studied what is known of the planet and am certain we can slip through unnoticed. Alex says he has a few tricks up his sleeve, too.
Wherever we go, we will go together, so I have no fear. No fear at all. Just optimism and hope in abundance.
I will survive! I always believed it, now here's the faith made real. Alex has been my saviour. He pulls all my facets together - everything I have been and will be - and makes me shine: happy, innocent little girl; prodigious student; rebellious, headstrong ten-year old; orphaned, violated twelve-year old; crazed murderous teenager; focussed, efficient soldier; skilled, adventurous lover; devoted partner and mother; tired old woman looking back on her eventful life with no regrets. He gives me order and direction.
Rotation 155: 2236
We fly tomorrow. Weather permitting. There is a storm approaching and we will leave at its peak, under its cover. It may confuse them, give us more of a start. All preparations are complete. My fighter training is also finished: I could fly it blindfold down the gullet of one of Antipodei 5’s legendary sandworms.
This last night here was very special. He cooked me a meal and I ate it by the light of what he calls 'burning sticks of waxy alkanes'. So romantic. Shadows flickered and danced on the rocky walls as twinkling stars of light reflected in his dark eyes. Listen to me! Can you tell I'm in love? A fucking poet!
The obligatory fungus was accompanied by a particularly tender and juicy loin of rock lizard. Big or small, crested or not, I call them all rock lizards. I never had time nor inclination to classify the fauna on Satellite252, though when I was seven, alien life was a passion of mine.
Can you believe I’ve spent nearly two thousand days here. One thousand nine hundred and ninety-four to be precise. Please let tomorrow be the last. And the first of a new and happy life.
When I finished eating, I joined him on my cot. I lay back against him and he wrapped his arms around me. Shyly and hesitatingly, he began to sing to me. His voice was at first small, as tentative and wary as a tiny bird; I froze, held my breath so as not to scare it away. As he lost himself in the words, his voice soared, became stunningly beautiful. It was resonant, pitch-perfect and dextrous beyond belief. But most of all, it was incredibly moving. It all but broke my heart.
‘I am Moon.
I rise and fall with the tides.
I turn my face to match the seasons,
Though I always stay the same.
Without the 'you', there are no words.
Without the 'you', I never existed.
Thank you for finding me,
For once found I know I will never be lost again.
I am unknowable,
But you will come to know about me;
But across time you can touch me.
Without the 'you', there are no words.
Without the 'you', I never existed.
Thank you for finding me,
For once found I know I will never be lost again.’
When his song was over, I turned over and kissed him.
‘Oh, my love, that was so beautiful.’
Tears fell from my eyes and more welled up in his. My God, he is perfect. My lips kissed down his torso, found his flaccid phallus. It swelled and soon filled my mouth. My tongue played in the hole and he groaned with intense pleasure. I wanted to overload his circuits as he overloads mine.
My nipples brushed his thighs and a memory stirred. I remembered the time he'd offered me a tit-fuck, remembered how unappealing that had been to me. He'd been my 'cock in a box', a basic machine to service my sexual needs. I looked at him now and was embarrassed by the crassness of that memory. How far we had come! I positioned his member between my tits and pushed them together. His tip parted my lips with every thrust and I furiously licked it. I loved doing that for him. He loved it too. I looked in his eyes and knew he was also dwelling on that distant memory. He whispered.
'Thank you, Moon.'
My heart nearly burst.
I mounted him and rode him, slowly and purposefully. Now, for the first time, I was fucking him. I was here for his pleasure: it was my prime objective.
With one hand he rubbed my clit while squeezing my tits with the other. He didn’t breathe, but he'd developed simulated breathing, simply to create realism for me; now he was breathing hard. He was deep inside me and I pushed down harder. I was dripping.
‘I am ready, my love. Oh, Alex, cum for me.’
He began to rise up to meet my descent and our coming together became intensely passionate, beautifully violent. I grunted every time his cock hit my cervix and knew I was near. He shouted out, shouted out my name then heaved and tightened, heaved and tightened. Over and over. His expression was euphoric. My orgasm took me, carried me to stratospheric heights.
I came back down and collapsed on top of him. Exhausted, sweaty and sated. I kissed his lovely mouth. He was smiling. The smile was still a little crooked, but it was his smile. It was a real smile. From the heart.
‘I love you, Moon. I fucking love you.’
‘I love you too, Alex.'
He looked at me incredulously?'
'Me? You love me? But I'm not...'
'Don't say what you are not. Think of what you are... all the things you are.' I gazed into his eyes. 'You are everything to me.'
He sobbed gently as we lay together in our safe and cosy cocoon. The universe and all its troubles melted away.
'I thought I'd never understand love, despite having read everything about it, yet now I am so sure, so certain that I love you. Don’t ask me to explain it, please don’t ask…’
‘No one can explain it, Alex. Love just… is.' A grenade of happiness exploded deep within me, burning every ounce of woe away. Keeping his cock inside me, I sat up, threw out my arms and cried joyously. 'When we wake tomorrow, we will leave this place and start life anew! You and me! Fuck, I can barely believe it!'
His deflating member slid from me and I felt warm wetness trickle down my inner thigh, a sensation I had not felt for an age.
‘You… you’ve cum! Really cum!'
‘Yes. I thought it would…’ His voice suddenly filled with uncertainty. ‘Is it…’
‘Is it okay?’
‘I mean, do you…’
‘Mind? Too fucking late to ask now, isn’t it, mister?’ My feigned scowl cracked and broke; I laughed and hugged him. ‘That’s a lovely thought. Fuck, you’ve cum inside me! That’s… hot! That’s… so lovely. Thank you.’
‘It’s my gift. My gift to you.’ He held me tightly, too tightly. I struggled for breath. He was crying as he whispered into my ear. ‘Oh, Moon, I don’t want you ever to be alone again. It breaks my heart to think of it.’
‘I’ll never be alone again, Alex. You’ll be with me forever.’
Before I slipped into sleep, I felt him kiss me again.
Antipodei 3. Satellite1. Rotation 012: 2236
It was the last time he kissed me.
I woke early. He was still with me. Holding me, protecting me.
'You look so beautiful when you are sleeping.'
'You've watched me all night?'
'Yes. What else was there to do?' And he smiled a teasing smile.
I ate. My last meal on this world. How good did that feel? How sad too. I had grown here, learnt so much. Fallen in love.
As I'd packed boxes over the preceding few days, Alex had taken them and stored them in the ship. Now there was only a couple of things to carry.
'You turn off the lights here. I'll start down, begin the pre-flight checks.'
I nodded and he clambered into his suit, vanished up the tunnel. After taking a last look around, I climbed into my own suit and turned my back on the cave that had been my home for so long.
My final act was to check the charges, the last remnants of my Resistance cell's stockpile of explosives. Alex had strategically placed them to bring down the upper caves and tunnels, thus concealing the fact that anyone had survived the last Executive attack. We hoped to slip unnoticed from the moon's atmosphere, detonate the charges remotely and be free. When satisfied they were armed, I began my last long walk to the surface.
An explosion shook the ground, a rumble filled my ears. Falling dust filled my torch beam. I felt sick with fear. Alex! The ship must have malfunctioned, blown up. There was nothing else on the moon - except the charges I had just set - that could have caused such a blast. Then the truth hit me. The explosion was just outside the tunnel entrance, too close to have been the ship. The Executive had returned.
I ran back to the cave, collected weapons and ammo then turned off my helmet light and crept towards the surface. My heart thudded uncontrollably. I waited for my training and experience to kick in but they had deserted me. For the first time since I was twelve years old, I had something to lose. For the first time since I was twelve years old, I was afraid.
It had been ages since I'd fired a weapon, a long time since I had danced with death. A shape loomed ahead of me, but nothing registered on my sensors. Was it Alex? Or had they too developed cloaking? I raised my gun, held my breath.
'Moon, it's me... Listen. The Executive: there's lots of them. Maybe the engine tests alerted them, triggered the beacon... I don't know.'
'What if they find the ship? Oh, Alex. All our work, our plans...'
'Wait here. Stay safe. Don't take any chances. I have to call back home then I'll get to the surface another way. I know all these tunnels. Everything will be ok. Trust me.'
He disappeared into the darkness.
I waited in the black stillness for what seemed an age. More blasts. Screams and cries. Lights flickered in the tunnel ahead. I heard a thud. A light rolled and bounced toward me, stopped at my feet. A helmet, its torch still shining. The visor was cracked. I kicked it and it shattered. A girl. A young girl. No more than sixteen. Her face frozen in terror. But for the dark hair, it could have been Star. I imagined this girl's capture, remembered mine, and shuddered.
I was a bright and happy child. Home was Blue Dome7623 on Antipodei 1, my parents both lecturers in that ancient academy. There had been unrest, demonstrations against the regime, but no one anticipated the response. Executive gunships attacked. Blue Dome was destroyed. Adults were slaughtered. My little sister, Star, was torn from my arms as survivors were rounded up and sorted. I never saw her again. We were held for days without food or water, randomly raped and brutalised. Eventually, we were loaded into transporters and shipped to Executive 'training camps' for processing.
I switched on my helmet torch. Alex's suit oozed with blood. For a moment, I was afraid for him, then realised the blood couldn't be his. Over his shoulder, he carried a string of the charges he'd set in our cave. He had a plan. At least, I hoped so. My mind was numb.
As we ran up the tunnel, we passed the remains of a dozen corpses. Death had come to them in many guises; their suits were twisted, dismembered, crushed like eggshells. Shocked, I paused and stared at the violence his tender hands had wrought. Alex's stealth, speed and strength had killed them, though his suit gave him a further deadly advantage, gained him precious milliseconds of hesitation and confusion: he looked just like one of them. We reached the end of the tunnel. Weak daylight filtered through clouds of swirling smoke.
He gave the order and was gone. More shots and blasts. I edged forward, peered around the corner and into the flat open space beyond.
Executive troops in disarray. Attacked by a force so swift it was almost invisible. A force the like of which they had never encountered. One of their own had inexplicably turned on them and suddenly fought like a god. Alex painted death in random patterns. Two to my left were swiftly hurled against the rock face. Visors shattered. Acidic fumes consumed the fleshy young faces and their screams were quickly muffled. To my right, a soldier was cut in two at the waist. Another's head flew like a football and his body slumped slowly to the ground. The half dozen who were left panicked, fired anywhere, killing at least one their own, wounding more. Alex suddenly materialised between them. In what looked like slow motion, they all turned towards him, aiming their weapons. I ducked back behind the rock, breathed deeply then came out firing, screaming, expecting to die at any moment.
'Moon! Stop! It's ok.'
The voice in my helmet froze me. I eased my finger off the trigger, stood swaying as rasping breath burned my throat. One moment, he was over there, and the next at my side. The remnants of innumerable steaming corpses littered the ground before me. Torn to pieces in the blink of an eye.
'Fuck, Alex. Fuck...' The destruction dumbfounded me. He was totally calm, seemed unmoved by it all.
'If they've found the ship, they haven't destroyed it yet. There's still hope. Let's go.'
With no warning, a fighter shot through the craggy rocks behind us and veered over the plain. After crossing the lake from where we'd recovered its twin, it turned again to begin its attack and powered towards us. I ducked behind a rock, but knew it was pointless, had seen the power of the ordnance they were prepared to deploy. Alex stood still, just feet from the edge of the cliff. Waiting. He bent and picked up a boulder, about the size of a helmeted head, and hefted it in his right hand. As the fighter screamed low overhead, the rock sped into the sky, shattered as it tore through the craft's left wing. A deafening thud, a shower of debris and a ball of flame signalled the fighter's end as it corkscrewed into the peaks behind us.
However, its work was done - its deadly payload was falling obliquely to the ground. After impact, I reckoned we had about three seconds to live, and began to count. But Alex blurred between the canister and the ground. He caught it and spun, redirecting its momentum to hurl it over the cliff edge. Then I was wrenched off my feet, carried in a whirl, and suddenly found myself deep underground, back among the corpses of the enemy.
The ground rocked, rubble fell. Thankfully the tunnel held up, though I wasn't sure for how long.
In a few more seconds, we were back at the surface, trying to take in what we could. The mushroom cloud was already hundreds of feet high and rubble still rained down. If their last operation was anything to go by, the command ship would soon be moving in to check for casualties, eliminate or pick up survivors. We had to move fast.
The storm we'd been expecting started to build. It sped across the plain, obscuring everything in its wake. As always on Satellite252, the weather changed incredibly quickly. It reached us as we sprinted into the open. Deafening winds howled. Angry, black clouds whipped across the sky towards us and hailstones began to clatter on the shattered rocks.
There was an ear-splitting roar and a sickening grinding of rock on rock. The explosion had weakened the cliff face below and much of the flat area outside the cave mouth began to slide away. We now stood on the edge of a precipice. Rock was still falling. It thundered and smashed into the ground below. Boulders rolled across the plain, some coming to rest hundreds of yards away.
It was hard to pick our way down the fractured cliff as rocks continued to slide. There was no time to move carefully and our haste caused me to tumble a couple of times, though the suit's lightning reactions saved me from harm. I was totally indebted to my suit, for without it the radiation would have fried me instantly. Now the storm swallowed us. Visibility dropped to a few feet as blinding sleet battered us.
Once at the cliff's bottom, we headed hastily for the cave containing our escape vehicle. To my horror, the entrance was partially blocked by the landslide. We frantically rolled several huge boulders aside, then hurriedly hurled away the rest.
Inside the cave, the noise of the storm abated a little and we could communicate.
No one had been there. The rebuilt fighter stood proudly on its stand. I leapt onto the wing and slid into the cockpit. There was no time to run a full list of checks, but I knew Alex had prepared the vehicle as well as anyone could have. The engine went through its own routine and instruments quickly signalled we were ready to go. Alex collected something from an alcove at the back of the cave. A small rectangular black bag. He threw it up to me, prepared to leap up onto the wing, but hesitated. Sensors straining, I peered through the cave's entrance.
'Moon, there are more of them. We'll never make it. They'll follow us. Their command ship is landing outside. Go my love. I'll join you.'
'Join me? Alex?' I screamed at him. 'No... we go together. We'll always be together,' but he was already at the cave's mouth, cutting down rushing soldiers like a scythe through grass.
The canopy closed, locked tight; the engine roared and the fighter speared over a morass of dead bodies and into the raging storm. I fought and cursed the controls, but to no avail. He'd secretly pre-programmed the craft for this very eventuality, had triggered it by remote from his suit. There was nothing I could do.
Though our home was now miles behind me, my craft's sensors displayed the stationary command ship. I imagined the hoards of troops spewing from its belly and I cried in despair. A blinding flash knifed through the storm and suddenly the command ship was gone. Alex must have deployed the charges he'd slung over his shoulder. I fervently prayed he had escaped, prayed he would keep his promise. Again I was absent while Death spat fire and again guilt consumed me.
With the controls still unresponsive, I sped through the atmosphere and into space without a hint of pursuit. The ship cruised. I wept, imagining my beautiful lover as a beautiful killing machine, fighting to his last spark of life. Fighting to save the one he loved.
I never got to Antipodei 10. The fighter brought me here: Satellite1 of Antipodei 3. Alex had that planned too, only allowed me the illusion of choosing a destination: if things went wrong, he knew this lone moon would give a lone girl a better chance of survival. He was right, as usual.
On re-entry, sections of the hull were jettisoned; Executive livery curled and burned. The wreckage of the vehicle they recovered from the mountains was that of a civilian two-seater - nothing like the single-seater fighter the Executive would be looking for. My rescuers searched hard, but never found the pilot...
The young woman who ejected just before impact was taken in like a long-lost daughter. There's a small, tight-knit community here. Mostly men. No minerals to speak of, no apparent reason for anyone to come here. During the journey, my hair had grown to a number 2 and I'd lost a few pounds. I shouldn't say it myself, but I did look fucking good - I think that may have helped my integration. They are warm, friendly people who never questioned my story or my eventual decision to stay.
The Resistance is dead. Finished. I've done my research: the Purge of 2232 saw its almost total annihilation - we were the only ones to escape. The destruction of The Aria on Satellite252 was heralded by The Executive as the end of the conflict; a new beginning. There's no mention of the subsequent destruction of a command ship on that world, or of the death of a whole battalion. And no mention of the being who caused it. The Executive control everything. They are writing history now. We gave everything we had, but failed. It was a terrible waste. All those beautiful lives. Wasted.
My rescuers did raise their eyebrows at my suit. Since Alex fixed it up, it bears no resemblance to an Executive suit. Looks more like a rich kid's plaything, exactly like something a Red Dome kid might have got for graduation. And that's what they think I am - orphaned rich kid from one of the Red Domes. I could never sell the suit, though I've had some offers. Oh yes, I've had all sorts of offers...
The child was Alex's other plan. The black bag he threw me contained both a copy of his memory files and a note of explanation: My darling Moon, If you are reading this, you escaped alone. Don't give up on me. Watch the skies. One day I will join you. In the meantime you must cope without me. I know you will. You are amazing. My love: I once said I couldn't bear for you to be alone again. It's true. I can't. I gave you a child. The best DNA I could find on that world. It will give him the best chance of survival. He is our child. We made him. Our love made him. He has the best of you too. You are very special. I love you. It will be a boy. Call him after me. Call him Alex. A son! Our son! He will do great things. Take care, my beautiful Moon. Take care of our boy. One day I'll be with you. Never forget I love you. Alex xxxxx
I stare at the night sky and feel the child move within me. Alex will come. I know it.
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<a href="http://www.lushstories.com/stories/love-stories/the-lovers-of-antipodei-3-part-2-of-2.aspx">The lovers of Antipodei 3 (part 2 of 2)</a>