Uninvited 3

Please note that this is an older story that has not yet been edited to bring it up to my current standards.

CHAPTER 1: FALSEHOODS


I had taken to calling her 'Vi', short for Viper of course, but if any coworkers asked me who I was dating, I could tell them it was short for Violet, or Victoria. She didn't seem to have a real name, or at least none that a human tongue could pronounce. Her visits had become routine since discovering that I lived in the same city she was posted in, and after finding out the address of my spartan apartment she had taken to dropping in almost nightly, whenever her patrols allowed it. My initially boring job had become a welcome reprieve from the nights of endless passion on my now demolished bed frame, and the dull grind of the bottling plant was now tolerable, knowing that my alien lover would no doubt climb through my window and flop heavily into my bedroom after the sun had gone down and the yellow glow of the street lamps was the only illumination. Since the day we had met she had been enamored with me, and to this day I could never guess why.

I no longer missed my family's farmhouse, or my old job, my daily routine was a haze of lovemaking and recovery, I barely noticed the passage of time any more. She was a ferocious lover, her appetite inhuman, and some days I could barely walk to the factory the morning after one of our violent romps. Today was one such day.

“You old dog!” My coworker on the line next to me slapped my back affectionately.

“That girlfriend of yours keeping you up again? Judging by the bags under your eyes you two were at it all night. I'm tellin' you buddy, she'll be the death of you.”

I waved him away, chuckling.

“She may very well be, and since when did you have such a keen interest in my sex life, Harry?”

He grinned, his hands moving with a learned agility as he worked the production line.

“Well we never see her is all, the boys think you're hiding her. Big girl is she?”

“You could say that, yeah.”

“Hey, to each his own, my wife was a real looker and now she doesn't give me the time of day.”

The end of shift bell rang, and we got up from our seats, I flung my coat over my shoulder and clocked out, swiping my ADVENT ID card through the scanner. My friend did the same, accompanying me to the factory gate.

“You'll have to introduce us some time, bring her to the bar, I want to see her for myself and judge if you deserve her.”

He took a long drag of a cigarette, then tossed the spent butt into the road.

“Maybe she can give my Irene some pointers on how to not be a frigid bitch.”

“I'm sure she'll come around Harry.” I replied. “Buy her something nice with this week's wage.”

“It would have to be this month's wage the way she throws my paycheck around.” He complained. “Besides, why spend money on a failing marriage when I can spend it on beer, and forget I'm married?”

We walked together for a while, chatting about nothing in particular, I didn't have much in common with Harry, but the social niceties must be observed, and he wasn't a bad guy, just a little burned out. Many people were these days, the war against the XCOM insurgency was going badly, sporadic terrorist attacks and even street battles had made news headlines in the last few months, despite ADVENT's technological edge, they were losing ground. The troops were becoming increasingly nervous and militarized, it wasn't uncommon to see towering robots and automated turrets on the city streets, their emotionless sensors scanning every human who walked by them. It made everyone nervous, at least a trooper waving a stun baton and barking incoherent orders had a mind of his own, who knew what parameters these great metal constructs used to determine friend from foe.

I raised my eyes to the clouds as a dropship flew overhead, skimming the tops of the tall buildings that lined the road, its engines flaring against the setting sun.

“Off to round up some protesters no doubt.” Harry quipped, shielding his eyes as he watched the craft diminish into the distance. The civil unrest was another problem, people were unhappy with ADVENT's inability to guarantee their safety, especially with the disruptions to the clinics and gene therapy treatments that XCOM seemed oddly fixated on. ADVENT's response to the rioting was oddly callous, they had been several deaths as Mutons and security robots were deployed against civilians, raising serious questions about the alien leadership and their management of the situation.

It was becoming clear that freedom of speech and assembly were not a priority for the occupying force, I remained ambivalent, people were stupid to expect restraint and tolerance from what until very recently was an invading army, and ADVENT had miscalculated the human response to the ever present plague of terrorism.

If anyone was truly at fault it was XCOM for their incessant harassment, but the clandestine organization was not in the public light, and so people lashed out against whoever they could easily reach.


***


I waved goodbye to Harry as he took a branching street to his favorite dive bar, and I continued along my usual route home past the ADVENT checkpoint, they were extra twitchy, and I made sure to approach slowly and keep my hands in view. I was waved through, and was soon entering the door to my apartment building. I climbed the stairs, fumbling for my keys in my trouser pocket, and unlocked the door, discarding my coat on my ruined bed. The mattress sagged and the springs were shot, it sent blood to my cheeks as I remembered the previous night, and anticipated the next.

I opened my fridge, leaning in for a soft drink, and heard a knock at my door. I hesitated, I didn't have any friends who visited me, who could it be? I put the drink back, and walked to the door.

The visitor knocked again, more urgently this time. I hurried, unlocking it and opening it a crack, peering out into the hallway.

“Yes? Who is it?”

There were three men standing there, two ADVENT troopers, their faces hidden by their signature red armor, and a short man wearing a long black duster and round eyeglasses with dark lenses that obscured his eyes. He fiddled absent-mindedly with his black leather gloves, and straightened his spectacles before addressing me. The two troopers held rifles, shifting their weight from foot to foot nervously.

“I'm sorry to bother you so late, sir. I'm with the ADVENT bureau of intelligence, I wondered if I might take up a few minutes of your time?”

He waited, clearly expecting to be invited in. The idea did not appeal to me, what would he say should Vi drop in through my window a little early tonight, her chest plate already half removed?

“Er...”

The short man waited, impatient.

“S-sure, please come in.”

I opened the door all the way and stood aside as the men walked into my tiny apartment, the two soldiers moved to either side of the room, one checked the en suite bathroom suspiciously. The short man with the spectacles looked around the messy living space with distaste, a sneer on his lips, then pulled up a chair at my kitchen table, gesturing that I should join him with a gloved hand.

I sat, a worried look on my face.

“Er...how can I help you inspector?”

He reached his hand into his duster, retrieving photographs printed on laminated paper, and tossed them unceremoniously onto the table. I picked them up, leafing through them, they were candid pictures of a man, he looked to be about middle age, maybe younger. They looked like screenshots from a security camera.

“Are you currently, or have you ever been in contact with one Tiberius Harris?”

I thought for a moment, examining the photographs.

“I had a cousin called Tiberius, I wouldn't forget a name like that. But I'm afraid I've not been in touch with him since before the invas...before the liberation.”

The little man eyed me through his dark glasses, he resumed fiddling with his gloves, tugging at the fingers one by one, it was distracting, I tried to keep my focus on his face.

“One Tiberius Harris was caught by our street cameras, planting an explosive device on a monument to the Elders, a heinous crime as you can surely appreciate.”

I nodded.

“We believe he is in league with XCOM, they probably recruited him immediately after the war and he has only just resurfaced. He must have had help getting in and out of the residential zone, we have records of all the soldiers who fought against ADVENT during the liberation and who did not surrender, and our automated security systems would have identified him were he to attempt to enter an ADVENT controlled zone.”

“So you think because he's my cousin, it was me?”

The inspector pushed his glasses up the bridge of his pointed nose.

“You can appreciate how we made that connection, I'm sure. This is not a personal attack against you, we're simply following up what few leads we have. It is my job to root out and expose support for this terrorist organization in all of its forms, from planting bombs in clinics to simply expressing anti-ADVENT leanings, we cannot be too careful in these...trying times.”

I nodded enthusiastically.

“Oh of course Inspector, I didn't mean to imply anything, I just wanted to clarify.”

“Indeed...you are of course innocent until proven guilty, the law is no less just and fair under ADVENT administration.”

I relaxed into my seat a little, relieved.

“Can I offer you a drink, perhaps?” I glanced to his security detail, only their mouths visible under their heavy helmets. “Or your men?”

He waved his leather clad hand dismissively.

“That won't be necessary, thank you. What I'm here to determine today is of course, your innocence in this affair, and in order to do that I would ask you to accompany me to the station, so that we can question you and ascertain whether you're being truthful with me.”

I shifted uncomfortably in the plastic chair.

“With all due respect Inspector, how long will that take? I'm supposed to be somewhere tonight, and tomorrow I have work.”

“We will of course inform your employer of your situation, assuming our questioning should drag on that long, which I seriously doubt, as for your social obligations I'm afraid you will have to make excuses next time you see your friends.”

“Oh...” He was being polite, but firm, I felt as if I didn't really have a choice. Now was not the time to try his patience, it looked like his soldiers could drag me away kicking if they needed to.

“Very well inspector, please give me a moment to gather my things.”

He nodded and rose to his feet, the soldiers returning to flank him.

“Please join me in the hall when you're ready.”


***


The ride to the station was less than pleasant, I was loaded into the back of a troop transport with the inspector and his two cronies, and nobody spoke during the short drive. I tried to keep my eyes on the floor of the vehicle, and not on the troopers who stared at me from behind their opaque visors.

When the truck came to a stop I was hurried inside, and walked past the front desk to a room in the back of the small building, past holding cells and weapon racks. One of the troopers took me roughly by the arm and seated me in a cold steel chair before a desk, the room was featureless besides the door, the sparse furnishings and a solitary security camera in the top right corner.

The two troopers stood guard on either side the door, and after a short delay the inspector entered, pulling up a chair in front of the desk to stare at me.

“As you are probably aware, we do not make these allegations lightly.”

I sat silent, worried that anything I said offhand might incriminate me.

“Perhaps the...previous administration might have afforded you Miranda rights, but under the declaration of a state of emergency those rights have been temporarily suspended, you will be required to waive them before we continue, and then tell us everything you know.”

“Hang on, you're going to 'make' me waive my Miranda rights? How is that legal?”

“Are you a lawyer, Sir?”

“No, but I know my-”

“Then kindly refrain from interpreting legal matters, this line of questioning concerns national security, and you will answer any questions that are put to you truthfully.”

“I never said I wouldn't...” I complained, leaning back in my chair. This inspector was rapidly draining my patience, ADVENT or not, everyone still had rights. I wasn't about to let myself be bullied by this glorified bailiff.

He seemed to sense my hostility, leaning on the metal table with his gloved hands arched.

“This can be easy, or it can be hard, answer truthfully and tell me what you know, and you'll be out of here and back home in time for bed. Resist me, or attempt to deceive me, and I will know.”

He removed his dark glasses, I recoiled in shock as he revealed slitted, reptilian pupils in oversized sockets, odd skin patterning extending across his face like a grotesque Venetian mask. His green eyes reflected the light from the naked bulb on the ceiling, he must be genetically enhanced in some way, perhaps so he could detect the minute tells of a liar or the subtle contractions of fear in a human retina. I was taken aback, rattled, and he no doubt knew.

“What...”

“What am I?” He chuckled, pulling his leather gloves taut. “I am an ADVENT inspector, enhanced in order to seek out and expose enemies of the Elders.”

He pushed a glass of water along the surface of the desk. I grasped it and took a draw, never taking my eyes off his bizarre face. His alien eyes peered at me, piercing in their intensity, I felt like he could see through my very soul.

“Shall we begin?” He asked.

I nodded.

“So, you admit that Harris is your cousin, and you deny any and all contact with him since the events of the war?”

I tensed, we were being recorded by the camera, and he was wording his questions in such a way as to incriminate me.

“I don't 'admit' to anything, Harris is my cousin, that's a fact.”

The inspector smiled wryly.

“Be that as it may, you are a blood relation of a known terrorist, who entered the city through unknown means, bypassing all of our security checkpoints. Tell me, do you know a secret way in and out of the residential area?” He scrutinized me, his reptilian pupils expanding as he stared. It was making me nervous, I worried he would mistake that for guilt.

“No.”

His eyes narrowed.

“Please maintain eye contact when you answer my questions.”

I looked him in the eyes and answered again.

“I do not.”

He watched me for a moment, then moved on to the next question.

“Can you tell me any details about the last time you saw Harris? Where you might have seen him? What might have been said?”

“It was twenty years ago!” I scoffed. “I would only have been...twelve or thirteen.”

“And how old was Harris?”

“He was nineteen, he'd be around thirty nine now, he was a soldier in the defense force.”

“He hasn't contacted you in any way in the last twenty years?”

“No, I was sure he had died in the war. Now I see he must have gone underground.”

The inspector scrutinized me.

“What about you? Do you harbor any ill will towards ADVENT or any pro-rebel leanings? I noticed when I was reading your records that you were forcibly relocated from your family's residence in the country when a nearby clinic was destroyed. A strange coincidence that you are the cousin of a known terrorist who has been living under the radar for twenty years, that a clinic near your family's residence was destroyed, and that Harris happened to show up in the residential zone shortly after you were relocated here.”

My face reddened and I lost my cool for a moment.

“Hey, that's some pretty fucking speculative reasoning there!” The two soldiers bristled, their fingers hovering over the triggers on their energy rifles.

“Please try to maintain your composure, Sir.” The inspector grinned, this was what he wanted, for me to lose my cool and slip up, he had no intention of treating me fairly, he had contrived a conspiracy theory in his head, and wanted only enough circumstantial evidence to make it stick, regardless of my innocence. I was in real danger.

I tried to relax and control my breathing, thinking of ways I could turn this situation around.

“If you have records of me, you'll know that I've never attended a protest, and I've never been in trouble with ADVENT security.”

“Why would a terrorist make his allegiance known by attending a protest?” The Inspector smirked. I folded my arms defensively, leaning back into the chair. His emerald eyes tracked me intently.

“I'll ask the question a second time, try to answer it directly, do you harbor any ill will or resentment towards ADVENT for the loss of your family home?”

I considered for a moment, the cogs turning in my head. If I lied, he would probably know, and if I told the truth it might incriminate me further. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. I chose to tell the truth.

“A little, yes. But I'm past that now, I'm quite comfortable in my new apartment, I like my job.”

His brow furrowed, was he annoyed that I had responded truthfully? Unbelievable. If I didn't have any resentment towards ADVENT before, I certainly would now.

“Be that as it may, I would still call that probable cause.”

I shook my head in disbelief.

“Tell me, has anyone visited your apartment in the last few months?”

Shit, I couldn't tell them about Vi, who knew how they would react, but I couldn't lie either, I would have to choose my responses very carefully.

“Yes.”

“Can you tell me who?”

“A girlfriend.”

“And when does this girlfriend visit you? After curfew?”

“Yes.”

“That is a violation of the law in itself, and you admit to it freely?”

“I do.”

The inspector retrieved a tablet computer from inside his duster and tapped it, entering information.

“What is her name?”

I hesitated, trying to plan my answer, the inspector noticed and watched me silently. If I lied and gave a false name he would know, and they would certainly check for records of such a person, and find none.

“I can't tell you, I don't want to get her in any trouble.” I replied, it wasn't a lie.

“While I understand your desire to protect your friend, I must remind you that willfully withholding information from an inspector during an interrogation is a crime, and yours are starting to rack up.”

I took another swig of water from the glass, then set it back down on the table.

“Begging your pardon inspector, but I don't feel as if I'm being given a chance to defend myself, I would like a lawyer.”

He chuckled, putting a gloved fist to his mouth to suppress the sound.

“You don't get a lawyer, and you don't get a trial by jury either, we're at war and all of your rights have been suspended, I will give whatever information I can glean from you to an ADVENT appointed judge who will make the decision on whether to convict or acquit, and let me warn you in advance, they have very little patience for XCOM sympathizers.”

I opened my mouth to complain, but he cut me off.

“If you want to blame someone, blame XCOM, this is not how we wanted to handle things.”

“Let me guess.” I said sarcastically. “You're also going to detain me without charges and deny me my phone call?”

“That is about the state of things, yes. Perhaps you don't realize how much trouble you're in, but now is not the time to be making sarcastic remarks.”

I shrugged dismissively.

“I don't understand what you want from me, you're not allowing me to defend myself and it sounds like your mind is already made up. You can't charge me with a crime based solely on blood relation.”

He pounded his gloved fist on the table, the impact made me jump out of my seat in surprise.

“I want names, I want safe houses, tell me how Harris got in and out of the city without being detected, tell me how he contacts XCOM.”

“I don't know any of those things! I'm not a rebel! I can't tell you things I don't know!”

He settled back in his chair, lips curling as he frowned.

“It doesn't matter if I believe you or not, I'm here to get information, my opinion does not factor into the ruling. Tell me what you know now, and the judge may be lenient, keep this up and you'll be recycled into genetic soup and reconstituted into a viper's left tit.”

So they are genetically engineered, I mused.

The inspector clapped his hands.

“Hey! Pay attention, I'm going to give you one last chance to give me some information I can use, otherwise you're going into the holding cells until we can put you before a judge.”

“So much for having me home in time for bed...”

“You'll be lucky if you ever see the outside of a cell again, never mind a bed, guards! Take him away!”

The two troopers moved towards me and grabbed me under my arms, shuffling me towards the door.

“I'm not resisting, idiots!”


***


They dragged me anyway, taking me down the hall and throwing me unceremoniously into a cell, slamming the heavy door behind me. It was a tiny cube, smaller than my apartment, with a silver metal toilet, a sink and a concrete bed with a thin mattress built into the wall, no sheets. There was one small window, too thin for a human to pass through. I sat on the bed, it was hard and uncomfortable, and I crossed my arms, seething with anger at the injustice of the situation. I had always thought of ADVENT as harsh, but fair, this new side of them, the ugly underbelly, reminded me more of the Gestapo or the KGB. How would I get out of this situation? How long would they hold me here? Would they charge me with purgery and violating curfew, or would they try to make the absurd conspiracy theories of the inspector stick?

My mind wandered to Tiberius, where had he been all this time? Was he in hiding? Had he assumed a false identity and been living in the city? Why had he never contacted me? We had never been close, cousins rarely were, but he was some of the only family I had left.

Vi would be missing me, it was night now. My heart ached for her, and I fumed, doubly angry that I had been denied another night of bliss.

I lay down on the uncomfortable cot, maybe if I got some sleep, I would be able to come up with something in the morning.


***


I awoke to my cell door being opened, the grinding metal piercing through my sleep like nails on a chalk board. I rose to a sitting position, groggy, my eyes full of gunk.

“How are we keeping?” The inspector strode into the room, his hands tucked neatly behind his back. He was wearing his spectacles again, his odd genetic augmentation hidden behind their dark lenses.

I didn't reply, rubbing my eyes sleepily.

“I came to offer you one last chance to come clean, if you can provide me with any useful information, anything at all, a last known location, a phone number, another name, I'll appeal your sentencing.”

I shook my head.

“Can't give you information I don't have.”

“Very well.”

The inspector turned on his heel.

“I don't expect I'll see you again, good luck with your trial, it will be held tomorrow night.”

The proximity of the court date did not surprise me, this wasn't a justice system, it was a factory for disposing of undesirables and dissidents, they had probably done this to dozens of people who had said the wrong thing or ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time, maybe hundreds, thousands.

He closed the door, the heavy bolt clanking into place.

I didn't fancy my chances in front of the judge, I would have to think of a plan, and fast. I looked around the room, searching for anything that I could use, there was nothing, the room was barren, and why wouldn't it be? It was a holding cell, I couldn't MacGyver my way out. I walked over to the door and idly tugged at the bolt, shut tight of course. I was well and truly screwed this time.

I returned to the concrete cot, and sulked, thinking of Vi, she didn't even know where I was, if I were found guilty and shipped off to some prison or simply executed, which was far more likely, she would never find out where I had gone. Would she think I had fallen out of love with her and abandoned her without so much as a goodbye? I couldn't stand the thought of that.

I marched over to the door and pounded it with my fists.

“I'm innocent you fucking Nazis!”

My voice echoed down the hall, but nobody replied.

I sank back onto the bed, dejected.


***


There was nothing to do, so I tied to sleep as much as possible. I was right when I assumed they wouldn't give me a phone call, but even if they did, who would I call? The police? ADVENT were the police. Vi? I didn't have a number, she always came to me. As the sunlight began to dim through the frosted glass of the tiny window, I came to the realization that I could die soon, the thought shocked me to my core. I was relatively young, and my life was happy, I didn't want to die, I didn't deserve this treatment.

I cursed my estranged cousin for creating this situation, then again maybe he had seen this side of ADVENT during the war, a dirty secret hidden from the public behind glitzy propaganda and silver tongued lies. Was that why had continued to fight long after the war was over? Jesus, I was starting to sound like one of them...a terrorist.


***


The next morning I was awoken by a rifle butt to the ribs, a trooper prodded me, speaking their garbled, undecipherable language. The message was pretty clear.

I batted at the rifle.

“Yeah yeah I'm coming, hold your goddamn horses.”

They escorted me out of the cell at gunpoint, and marched me to a different room down the hall, this one was a small scale courtroom, there was a man in a suit seated at the bench, and the trooper forced me into a chair where the counsel should usually have sat. They weren't even attempting to follow protocol. The trooper stood behind me as the judge sifted through paperwork, not looking up to acknowledge my presence.

I waited in silence for what must have been several minutes before the judge finally looked up, and spoke to me.

“Ah yes, Mister...how do you pronounce that? Never mind.”

He interrupted me before I could respond.

“You are charged with purgery, violating curfew, sedition, harboring a known terrorist and conspiracy to commit terrorism, how do you plead?”

“Your honor, there's been a mistake, I was never-”

“How do you plead?” He repeated, staring at me over his thick glasses.

“If I could just explain, I-”

“If you continue to disrupt these proceedings, I will be forced to hold you in contempt, now I will ask you one last time, how do you plead to the charges?”

“What proceedings!? This isn't a court, this is a sham! Are you even a real judge or did they pull you in off the fucking street?”

The judge banged his gavel impatiently, and waved me away.

“I can see these court proceedings will not be necessary in this case, in light of the defendant's unwillingness to testify in his own defense, I am finding him guilty of all aforementioned charges. The penalty for sedition is punishable by death which will be carried out by firing squad tomorrow afternoon, your body will be sent to the nearest gene clinic for recycling, please take him away.”

The trooper jabbed the barrel of his gun into my back, and I stood, the judge didn't even glance up from his papers as I left the room, unwilling to even look me in the eye, a man he had just condemned to death. I was escorted back to my cell and the door was again closed behind me, sealing my fate. I collapsed onto the concrete bed.

That was it then, I was going to be killed tomorrow. I had a single night left to live, and I couldn't even spend it with Vi, I couldn't even contact her to tell her what was happening to me, no last goodbye. My guts tied in a knot, and I lay back, staring at the concrete ceiling. This was my second night missing, what might she be thinking? I dozed off, the fear and melancholy exhausting me.


CHAPTER 2: ELOPEMENT


A rasping on the window interrupted my troubled sleep, I opened my eyes, and saw what might be the the shadows of fingers raking the frosted glass behind the tiny window. It looked dark out, the yellow glow was coming from a streetlamp. Curious, I got up and walked over to the window, it was a small rectangular pane of glass towards the ceiling, and I reached up to open it the tiny crack it would allow. Cool night air flooded in, and I waited, wondering who it could be.

A slimy, winding appendage snaked in through the crack, its off-purple color barely visible in the low light, it searched, waving in the air, then finding me, touched against my cheek, tasting me.

“Vi!” I whispered.

The tongue shot back up through the crack, and I saw a reflective amber eye pressed against the window.

“How did you find me?” I asked, pushing my hand through the opening and stroking her rubbery hood. She purred contentedly, her low, rumbling vocalizations vibrating through my bones. Being a Viper, she couldn't speak any language a human would understand due to the differences in her vocal apparatus, but we understood each other well enough.

She lowered her head, trying to peer in through the window, then, frustrated, reached in with the tip of her powerful tail, snapping the window back on its metal hinges and pulling it away, leaving an open hole. It was too small for me to squeeze through, but she could see inside now. She examined the cell with her reflective eyes, trying to find a way to get inside, or get me out. After a moment she huffed her annoyance. She could find no solution it seemed. I reached my arms through the rectangular hole and did my best to hug her, but all I could manage was rubbing her head. She slipped her long, tapered tail through the hole until it became too fat to fit, and wrapped it around my chest, I pulled it close to me.

We embraced for a short moment, and it eased the pain, at least she knew where I was now, if I were to die tomorrow she would have closure. Would she spring me? She was ADVENT, how deep did the conditioning of an individual soldier run? Were they programmed to follow orders like robots, or were they just as much an independent creature as a human?

Her tail uncoiled, sliding back through the window and she slithered away, I watched her disappear into the gloom. Where was she going? Leaving me to my fate, or coming up with a plan to bust me out? My life was in her hands now.


***


I waited on the cot, wringing my hands nervously, what would we even do if she broke me out? Where would we go that ADVENT wouldn't find us? Maybe I could pose as her captive, that should convince the guards at the checkpoints, but what then? Try to find a homestead or a rebel camp? They'd never take a Viper in, and how would we travel so far beyond ADVENT control without a vehicle?

My train of thought was interrupted by a noise, it sounded like a tarp being dragged over the ground, and it was coming from the other side of the door. The food slat on the steel door opened with a grinding of metal on metal, and a large yellow eye peered through at me.

“Vi! How the hell did you get inside?”

She couldn't tell me of course, but she had. How did such a massive, heavy creature infiltrate the building so easily? There must be a way in a human wouldn't even have thought of, or couldn't possibly reach. Then again maybe she just had a damn key card, being unable to communicate anything besides our lust was sometimes frustrating. She fumbled with the bolt, but it was locked.

“There must be a key somewhere.” I whispered through the slat. I mimed turning a key in a lock, and she bobbed her head in agreement, turning away from me to look back and forth down the corridor. She moved away, her underbelly rustling on the floor, that such a massive animal could move so quietly shocked me, no wonder they inspired such fear among the insurgents. It was night, so the small station should not be heavily guarded, but I worried for Vi, would a trooper even look twice at a Viper going about its business? They seemed to have a lot of autonomy compared to the other races, perhaps she was higher ranked than the soldiers here and flashing whatever passed for an ID badge among the X-rays would suffice to see her on her way unmolested.

She was gone for a few minutes, and just as I began to worry I heard her telltale slithering as she crawled back down the hallway, her massive coils undulating as she moved. I waited for the mechanical click of the lock, but instead the bolt began to glow red, then orange, then melted through into a molten heap. Vi had not bothered to seek out the key, she had retrieved a laser pistol from one of the weapon racks and used it to melt the locking mechanism.

She pushed the door open on its hinges and it creaked loudly, she shuffled into the tiny cell, careful to avoid the pool of cooling metal, and her bulk pressed me up against the far wall. The cell was so damned tiny, she could barely fit inside, her rolling coils, great tires of muscle and fat, squeezed together awkwardly. She closed the door again with the tip of her long tail, filling the space with her great body.

She gripped me under my arms and hefted me up, placing me gently in a sitting position at eye level on a fat coil.

“My hero.” I laughed, and she held my face in her hands, my cheeks warmed and became red as she moved in close and pressed her oversized lips against mine, her slippery tongue pushing past them and into my mouth for one of her signature kisses. I melted into her embrace, my hands rising to find the sensitive interior of her fleshy hood, and she rewarded my stroking fingers with the agile, wanton probing that she knew would turn my legs to jelly.

She released me, gasping, and I leaned into her, resting my head in the nape of her long, sinewy neck.

“I thought I was going to die, let's get out of here.”

She cocked her head at me inquisitively, I moved to hop off her chubby tail and make for the door, but she placed a hand on my chest, keeping me still.

“What's wrong? We have to get out of here before the guards-”

She pressed her maw against my neck, mouthing with her spongy lips, her dexterous tongue flicked out to tease and drag across my skin.

“Vi, don't, we can't...”

My complaint trailed off into a low whimper as I felt her hollow fangs press into my skin, it was her way of asserting herself, not quite biting me, but unsheathing her deadly teeth from their fleshy pouches in the roof of her mouth just enough to show me who was boss. She pulled her mouth away from my neck, pursing her fat lips into a sucking kiss that left a red mark. My eyelids drooped and I breathed heavily, she knew how to push my buttons.

“Damn it Vi, here? Now? I know it's been a couple of days, but...”

I felt the tip of her winding tail press up against my groin, rubbing my growing erection gently, and I flinched under the sudden stimulation.

“It's too dangerous, what if someone catches us?”

She pushed her hand under my shirt, crawling her fingers up my belly to my chest, her dull claws tickling my skin. I writhed, and she huffed rhythmically, her way of laughing, usually at my expense. She was breaking down my resistance, she could play me like an instrument, if she wanted me she would have me, regardless of my protests, and that knowledge filled my body with a seething heat and arousal that weakened my resolve. A self-fulfilling prophecy of debilitating kisses and gentle petting.

She moved her hands down to my groin and deftly unzipped my pants, she had learned how to work the zipper with her oversized fingers.

“Come on Vi...no.”

She pulled down my underwear and my engorged member bounced free, jumping in time with my heartbeat as she gazed at it longingly. She cocked a scaly eyebrow at me knowingly, as if to say 'well your cock isn't saying no.' She craned her long neck, moving her face down to my pulsing erection.

“Damn it Vi, 'no' doesn't mean 'blow me', you know that! Although on second thought, I guess 'no' and 'blow' might sound similar to someone who didn't spea- ah!”

She pressed her smooth, puffy lips against the head of my member, sucking the tip into her warm mouth. I doubled over, holding on to the top of her massive head as she coiled her worm-like tongue around the shaft, tracing the veins with the tip. I shivered as she pressed me deeper inside her, the slick, smooth walls of her cheeks dragging over my member as she applied suction.

“D-don't...don't do the thing, you know...you'll make me alert the guards.”

She ignored me, slamming her head down and kissing the base of my penis, my glans struck the back of her throat, her muscles closing around it and swallowing rhythmically. I put a hand to my mouth, trying to stifle a cry, and let slip only a muffled moan of barely contained pleasure.

My back arched and my legs trembled as she sucked and swallowed, straining to draw my emission out from the source, the rippling muscles of her gulping throat tormenting my sensitive tip, I felt as if someone had poured seltzer on my brain. She locked me there, trapped in the hot, slippery depths of her throat as I squirmed and bucked, my hands gripping the edges of her soft hood. Every time I tried to open my eyes, a new wave of pleasure washed over me, forcing them closed again. Her tongue spiraled all the way down my shaft, slipping past her pursed lips and wrapping around my testicles, tugging them softly.

It drove me over the edge, the power of speech having long since left me, I let out a dull, animal grunt and released two days worth of frustration into her beckoning gullet, her powerful swallows syncing with my spasms to wring me dry. Again and again tremors wracked my body, every twitch and throb amplified a thousand times by the hot, slimy pressure as she nursed, drinking down mouthful after mouthful. I hugged her head, my lower body going numb and tingly as sweet afterglow permeated my muscles. When she was certain I was done, and her rubbery tongue had licked my oversensitive member clean, she slid me out of her mouth, and my still aching erection dripped with strings of her thick saliva. My body quivered and my heart fluttered as she pulled her head back to eye level, the corners of her mouth turned up in a satisfied, 'I told you so' smirk that made my cheeks burn hotter.

She moved in to kiss me, and I placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Slow down, we talked about this, not after...”

She grunted unhappily, indignant.

“Oh fine I guess you earned it.”

She fell into me, subjecting me to another invasive kiss that set my head spinning, she tasted vaguely of me, but I was too high on endorphins to really care. She had an oral fixation, there was never a free moment when she wasn't kissing, licking, sucking or biting something. I wondered idly if she had to suppress the urge to eat me. She finished her 'good girl' kiss, withdrawing her tongue, and I panted, trying to get my bearings again. An urgency rose in my belly as I remembered where we were.

“Vi, you've had your fun, now we really have to...what are you...oh no come on, we don't have time for this!”

She changed position, lying on her back on the cot, her huge upper body barely fitting, her tail dangled off the end and she used it to pick me up like a doll and place me where she wanted me, my face an inch from her steaming, leaking genital slit. She pulled the swollen lips apart with her fingers, revealing the moist, pink flesh inside. I was instantly hard again as I gazed at it, but we couldn't stay here all night, every second we spent fooling around increased our chances of getting caught by a guard.

“No, Vi, we need to- mmmmf!”

She grabbed a fistful of my hair and pushed my face into her opening, grinding into me and purring contentedly. She leaned her flexible body forward, bringing her face down to join me, her long, ropy tongue slipping past her lips and parting her labia, she dug deep into her own slippery tunnel, her eyes rolling up into her head as the intense sensation overcame her. Her heavy breasts hung, swaying gently as she licked. She had figured out there was room for both of us down here not long ago, and ever since she had stubbornly refused to leave my apartment until we had done this at least once per visit. Well, she had started, she wouldn't move an inch until I helped finish her off now.

Nothing for it.

I delved in, searching for her engorged protrusion with my tongue. I wriggled into her folds, salt and copper peppering my tongue, and found the hard nub, sucking it into my mouth. A tremor ran down her long body and she grunted, a coarse, primal noise coming from such a large creature.

I sucked obediently, applying pressure to the stiff flesh with my lips, she roved deep inside her own organ, her wriggling tongue reaching places so deep and at such unconventional angles that no penis could compare. Her body undulated, squirming in a slow rhythm, it was her version of the hopeless, mechanical bucking that she often provoked in me when her teasing became more than I could bear. Realizing that she was close, I redoubled my efforts, driving a finger deep inside her gooey, velvet walls and beckoning, searching for her g-spot as I mouthed and chewed.

Her eyes opened wide, glaring at me, almost menacing and I guessed that I had found it, I pressed up, digging my finger into her yielding flesh, and she withdrew her tongue, rocking her head back and digging her fingers into my hair as she came. Her tunnel spasmed, the contractions of her taut muscles almost crushing my finger, but I kept it there, applying pressure cruelly, and drawing her clitoris into my mouth, pinching it between my teeth and my tongue.

I was worried she might break the concrete cot and the tremendous noise would alert someone, I had trouble holding on to her, wrapping my free arm around her wide hips and digging my fingers into her chubby butt as she flexed and squirmed, the waves of pleasure crashing over her, relentless in their frequency.

After several minutes she calmed down, her contractions becoming fewer and farther between, she breathed heavily, her great breasts bouncing in rhythm. I wiped globs of her excitement from my face with my sleeve, and she maintained her grip on my hair, eventually raising her head and glaring at me.

“What? I got you back.”

I kissed her belly gently, her rows of hard abdominal muscles lustrous under a layer of glistening sweat, she wriggled happily as I traced their contours with my lips. Vi eyed me, a predatory glint her eye, and wrapped her tail around my waist, hoisting me up her body and placing my face between her soft breasts, she pressed them together with her upper arms, squashing the massive, malleable orbs around my head. She held me until I began to struggle, huffing at me, then released me. My erection rubbed against her tantalizing loins, their heat radiating into me.

“Ok I got you off, now can we leave?”

She delved into my hair with her fingers, running her dull claws across my scalp, it sent shivers down my spine and I crooned, relaxing into her inviting cleavage. She slipped her fingers under my shirt and ran them down my back, hard enough to make me gasp and writhe, but not enough to break the skin. She massaged me gently with her claws, teasing me. My breathing became heavy and regular, my burning cheeks pressed into her cushiony boobs, their silky skin, wet with sweat, cooling me. The agility of her long, snaking neck meant that she could maneuver her head into almost any position at any angle, so she could always deliver one of her salacious kisses no matter where I was in relation to her. I felt her warm lips meet mine, and I greeted her tongue with my own eager organ, and it roiled in my head obscenely, her impossibly deep embrace making stars dance before my eyes. My now throbbing member pushed against her oozing loins, their nectar coating it in a veneer of slippery excitement.

“Really? Again...?” I whispered, almost delirious from her tender massage and her carnal kissing, unable to assert myself over her. For good measure she brought her spongy lips to my vulnerable neck and mouthed, her fleshy, slippery maw pressing wetly against my skin. She unsheathed her fangs ever so slightly, and I felt their points prick my neck.

I let out a low, submissive groan, and she huffed again, the motion making me bounce on her chest. Even to save my own life I couldn't deny her, she could string me along like a puppet, tugging me every which way, making me dance for her own amusement, and despite myself, I loved it, I craved it.

“I guess we aren't leaving until you're satisfied, huh? You must have really missed me.”

Vi cocked her scaly eyebrows sarcastically, 'don't pretend you don't like it'.

I reached my fingers into her fleshy hood, running my fingertips over the sensitive interior lining, teasing her weak points. She might be able to string me around like a marionette, but I had my fair share of tricks to make her squirm, I knew her voluptuous body like the back of my hand, its curves and contours, the textures of its glass smooth skin, the taste of her fluids. She undulated as I caressed, gasping as I traced the lip of her hood with a feather light touch.

I yelped as I felt her hands squeeze my butt, grasping me and maneuvering my pulsing member into position, she pushed the tip up against her twitching entrance, my exposed glans pressing against the lubricated, pink flesh, almost hot enough to burn me.

She leered down at me, a malicious look in her eyes, probably intending to seek revenge after I had made her come so hard. She smirked, holding me against her opening, watching my expression change from anticipation to frustration as I throbbed against her inviting vulva.

“You're wasting time...” I complained, only half serious.

She huffed rhythmically, then slowly, gently lowered me, the entrance of her tunnel scraping against the head of my penis, the warm, slick walls closing around it.

I groaned, and she laughed, the vibrations translating into her loins, stimulating me. She lowered me deeper, her eyelids fluttering as my vascular member dragged against her textured insides, she spasmed and contracted, creating suction and pulling me further in. She was going slow, savoring our coupling, she knew from experience that I couldn't stand the fleshy papillae in the depths of her vagina, the forest of supple bristles designed to deliver a finishing blow to any male daring enough to push so deep, rings of pliable, spongy teeth that would rake across the head of your cock, driving unbearable sensations to the core of your being like a knife through the heart.

We moved together, gingerly, painfully slowly, the sluggish pace somehow making every wrinkle and crease all the more titillating, every small contraction and flexed muscle elicited a gasp or a sigh. We embraced, melting into one another.

My face buried in her soft cleavage, I breathed in her familiar musk, an earthy, sultry scent, her pheromones leaking from every pore on her imposing body. I mouthed a breast, the taste of the salty sweat coating her velvet skin emboldening me. I thrust a little deeper, and she quivered, watching me with her amber eyes as I sucked an engorged nipple between my lips.

Our slow dance dragged on, she brought her face down to my ear, sucking the lobe between her full lips, and chewing it gently in her toothless mouth, her agile tongue escaping occasionally to probe wetly. I squirmed under her tickling, circling my tongue around her nipple and biting the areola in the way I knew she liked. I kneaded the pliable meat of her heavy breasts, clawing handfuls of flesh and twisting the supple orbs in my grip, she responded by pricking my ear with her pointed fangs playfully.

Her loins were overflowing, leaking viscous juices, profane sounds emanating from our entwined organs as we moved together.

She coiled her powerful tail around me, wresting control of my movements away from me.

“Vi...you're so selfish...”

She smirked, her muscled tail curling around my torso, and she began to push me deeper. I felt the torturous papillae graze the tip of my penis, and flinched, but I couldn't pull back, she was leading now, moving at her own pace.

Her breathing grew heavier as she sped up, and I closed my eyes, trying to endure the sensations of her tight insides gliding up and down my shaft, nearly frictionless she was so wet. Her tail compressed me almost painfully as she lost some control over her muscles, spasming as my member dug into her tender walls, she let out a low, gratified rumble that reverberated in the tiny cell.

“Don't stop, keep going...” I gasped, she crooned, wrapping her arms around me and pulling me into her ample chest, a hand on the back of my head.

She pressed me deeper using her tail, and I slid all the way inside, she jerked, grunting appreciatively as my head slammed into her depths, pushing against her deepest spot, and I covered my mouth, trying to muffle a cry as the evil barbs that lined her most intimate place clawed my glans, hard enough to drive harsh bolts of pleasure into my brain like a nail gun, but supple enough that they didn't hurt me, not quite. She pulled me back out, those cruel papillae raking across my delicate head, curved inwards to trap me there until I came. She forced me back out, and I twisted, unable to express the intense, very nearly painful pleasure in any other way than to contort my beleaguered body and moan into her bust.

She hugged me close, as if she were trying to help me endure, her long tongue snaking down to lick my cheek as if to say 'sorry about this'.

My brain was foggy, lights danced before my retinas and electric fingers traced up and down my spine. She slammed me all the way inside again, the barbs scoured my cock, and her sweltering, slimy tunnel crushed it, pumping it like a machine, enclosing my shaft in her strong grip.

I wanted to come, but I didn't want the coupling to end, every night that our lovemaking was over and she had to leave me, I felt like I was losing a part of myself, as if some vital organ were tunneling its way out of my body and hopping through my apartment window, leaving an empty hole where it should have been that ached and itched until her return the following night.

She sensed that I was distracted, and lifted my chin with her finger, bringing her head into range on her serpentine neck and pressing her lips against mine. I readied myself for another one of her luscious kisses, but to my surprise this one was gentle and tender, her tongue weaving artfully in my mouth, placating me. I brought up a hand up to her cheek, her smooth, imperceptibly small scales cool under my palm, and savored the intimate embrace.

She pulled back, the taste of her copper saliva lingering on my tongue, then forced me down into her, and I climaxed, flooding the forest of papillae with my warm emission. I bucked and twisted my hips, animal instinct overcoming my conscious mind, grinding the barbs against the head of my cock in an unthinking lust for more sensation. My member bounced and pumped inside her, and she closed her tunnel around it as if trying to cage a wild animal. I flooded her womb, and I felt her come too, her great body rippling and convulsing as her loins contracted in intense waves, milking out what little I had left to give her. She tensed and froze up, her massive tail holding me in place as I struggled, her dull claws digging into the skin of my back, drawing red welts. She sluggishly wrapped around my body, encasing me in a wall of soft flesh as if trying encompass me, twitching and shuddering gently as the afterglow rolled over her.

I leaked inside her, pulling out slowly as the friction made us both shudder in unison, and her contracted muscles loosened, releasing me, along with a slow trickle of our combined fluids, they oozed down her joined thighs. I pushed my burning face into her coils, I wanted to stay like this, forever. Perhaps if I wanted it enough, if I pushed my head into her spongy coils, by sheer force of will it would happen, and we would be carried away together to some distant dimension all our own where wars and politics and prejudices could not come between us and pry us apart from this perfect embrace.

I felt her scaly arms wrapped around me, and her forehead pressed against mine, she breathed slow and deep, contentedly.

As much as I wanted this to last forever, I knew it had to end. We had already pushed our luck, if we were caught now it would all be over, and we would probably both be killed.

“Vi...we have to get out of here.” I whispered, she rumbled unhappily, hesitating, then broke free, dropped me to the cold concrete.

She retrieved her laser pistol, and gestured to the door, her long coils still trembling slightly with the afterglow.

I followed her, zipping up my pants, trying to stay behind her and to one side to avoid her huge tail, I still had trouble with adapting to the idea that her body did not end where the feet would be on a human when she was 'standing', but that her body trailed a great distance behind her.

She peeked her hooded head past the metal door and into the hall, looking back and forth, checking the coat was clear. She moved out slowly, her body winding back and forth, and I followed her cautiously. We moved down the hall past the cells, they were all vacant, and I stepped around the body of one dead ADVENT trooper, his body crushed and contorted oddly.

Clearly Vi had chosen a side in this matter, I hadn't even heard a peep, she must have smothered him as she crushed his bones and popped his organs with her steely muscles, he looked like a discarded rag doll. My head swam as I realized that this was what a Viper could do to a person, and yet she held me so gently, never applying more pressure than I could take, always mindful of my limitations. I had never thought about it before now, but our lovemaking was an act that required incredible restraint and discipline on her part, lest she crush a limb or damage an organ with a wayward contraction of her muscles or a hug that wound too tightly. The thought filled me with an odd appreciation, and my heart fluttered as I suddenly understood what a gentle and loving creature she really was, hiding under that brutish, dangerous exterior.

We moved further down the hall, where was she leading me? There must be some entrance reserved for personnel only, or a high opening only a viper standing on its long tail could access. We walked past the weapon racks and I considered picking up a gun, but I had never fired one before, and Vi would have thrust one into my hands had she thought it was important. I saw no other guards, but it did not surprise me, this was not a high security prison, it was a glorified drunk tank, it did not need lots of soldiers or automated defenses. The long hall ended in a door, and Vi opened it gingerly, poking her head through on her long neck. She pushed forward, it must be safe. There were steps on the other side, she flopped down them and I followed, entering a parking garage for ADVENT vehicles that was slightly underground, there were a few parked squad cars and one police transport, perhaps the one that had brought me here. At the far end was an exit ramp leading onto the street, and a booth, with a figure slumped against his console. Vi moved towards it, and I followed her, as we drew closer the figure came into view, another dead trooper, this one must have been in control of the metal gate that blocked the ramp.

Vi slithered through the window to the booth, squeezing her torso through and pushing the slumped trooper aside, his lifeless body fell to the floor, and she tapped at the monitor. It took her a moment, but the metal gate creaked and began to rise. If I had to guess how she had gotten in, I would say she must have broken the booth's glass window on the street side, and as I peered over, I saw that indeed fragments of glass could be seen on the booth floor. She had smashed the glass, entered through the window, killed the trooper then exited on the other side, after she had come into the building through the garage door, the only trooper on guard in that area was easily dispatched. He probably never knew what hit him.

She wasn't wearing her black armor and she hadn't used her plasma rifle to break the glass, she must be off duty.

She fumbled with the body of the trooper before exiting, she handed me his red helmet.

“Oh no...a disguise? I'm not Steve McQueen, Vi.”

She shoved it into my arms insistently, and I attempted to place it over my head. As it slipped past my eyes, two built-in monitors crackled to life, showing me an oddly panoramic view of the scene before me, almost as if it was designed for someone with eyes spaced further apart than a human, it was disorienting. I heard Vi chirp, recognizing it as the name she had given me in her own language, and I turned to see her gesturing to the door of the troop transport.

“I don't know if I can even drive that thing.” I complained, walking over to her, but she was adamant, and I climbed into the driver's seat, closing the door. The vehicle was taller than any car I had driven, and the odd helmet warped my field of view. I wondered if the disguise would work, and glanced at myself in the rear view mirror, angling it towards my face. I did indeed look like a trooper, with only my mouth visible and the helmet obscuring my eyes and head. As long as anyone looking in was angled below us, which they would be because the truck was so damned tall, they wouldn't be able to see my civilian clothes.

Nice thinking, Vi.

I heard noises behind me, and turned to see her climbing into the troop bay of the truck, she must be too long to fit in the passenger seat, shame, it might have increased our credibility. If anyone asked me a question in an ADVENT language I would be screwed.

There was no key in the ignition, just a button in its place, and I pressed it, the engine purred to life, and I gripped the wheel, it seemed to have an automatic transmission. I pressed my foot down on the gas pedal and we trundled forward. The vehicle was incredibly heavy, and even with the power steering it took some heft to turn it, the suspension rocked as we drove up the ramp and out onto the street.

Where the hell should we go now?

There was a grill between the troop bay and the driver's compartment, and I heard Vi pull it away with a grunt, dropping it to the floor with a metallic clang. She leaned over, reaching with her long fingers to activate a monitor on the passenger's dash. It seemed to be some kind of navigation system. She tapped deftly, and highlighted a route. The map was zoomed in for ease of use and I couldn't see where it would eventually lead us, but I trusted her, and turned to follow the marker she had set.


***


We drove for a while without incident, I had trouble seeing through the bizarre helmet, but I managed not to crash, and no other ADVENT vehicles stopped us or questioned our presence. Eventually we reached the city limits, nearing the barrier that ringed the residential zone, allowing vehicles to pass only after ID control and inspection. Here was where it might become complicated. Were ADVENT subject to the same rules as civilian cars? If they asked me for some kind of security badge or conformation of my orders, we'd be discovered.

We rolled to a stop, joining the queue of cars waiting to be processed, and my knuckles whitened as I gripped the black faux leather of the steering wheel. Vi sensed my fear, and her tongue wound forward to press against my cheek.

“I know, I know, it'll work, it has to work...”

Suddenly I noticed a trooper waving at me, he gestured to a secondary gate that was closed off by bollards that extended from the road. I began to sweat, did they know something was off about us? Did our vehicle not have clearance to be here? Had the staff at the station found out we had escaped and reported the transport as stolen?

Gritting my teeth, I drove over, leaving the queue, the bollards descended into recesses in the asphalt, allowing me to drive over them and up to the gate. I brought the truck to a stop before the barrier, they weren't raising it.

To my horror the trooper walked up to the driver's side window, and gestured for me to roll it down impatiently.

I did, and greeted him with a friendly wave. I heard Vi mutter under her breath in the back, and what sounded suspiciously like a hand being dragged down a scaly face in a gesture of exasperation.

He jabbered at me in their strange language. I had no idea what he had just said and Vi didn't speak a lick of English, she couldn't tell me either.

I hesitated for a moment, the trooper waited.

I gestured toward the gate and nodded. He jabbered again, I waited with bated breath, then he turned and called to the booth operator, and the gate began to rise.

Relief washed over me, and I rolled the window back up, driving the troop transport through the checkpoint and out onto the open road. When the gate was only a diminishing speck in the rear view mirror, I pulled off the helmet, placing it on the passenger seat, and began to laugh. I laughed so hard that I cried, and then I really did cry, tears rolling down my face as I realized that I was alive, I was free, and we were together.

Mere hours ago, I was sure I was going to die, everything had seemed hopeless, but my beloved viper, who at times I had taken for a creature of somehow lesser will, lesser capacity for free thought and emotion, had betrayed her masters and risked her life to save mine.

Vi poked her head into the cab, a confused look on her face. I reached over and stroked her smooth head, wiping the tears from my eyes.

“It's ok, we made it Vi, we made it.”

She seemed to understand, she understood a lot more than I gave her credit for, and her sinewy tongue snaked out of her mouth to taste the wetness on my cheek.

Where would we go now? What would we do? Right now it didn't matter, I just wanted to appreciate the moment.


CHAPTER 3: REBELLION


We drove for hours, following the open road, almost devoid of traffic, passing through forest and field, not knowing what our destination might look like. Would we try to find a resistance homestead? How would be know where to look? They would be hidden from ADVENT, and they may just fire on us if they saw an ADVENT troop carrier approaching their gates. Contact XCOM? How? They would surely shoot Vi on sight even if I had a way to contact them, which I didn't, and I couldn't stand the thought of that. Where could a wanted human and a rogue viper seek refuge? Build a log cabin in the remote forest and live off the land? I was a goddamn factory worker, I couldn't even put up a tent, never mind build a cabin and hunt enough food to feed us both, I couldn't even guess at how many calories it took to sustain Vi, she was a monster.

Suddenly I noticed a glint in my rear view mirror, vehicles behind us. The road was empty besides us, and we hadn't passed any settlements or towns, where had they come from? Panic rose in my belly, and Vi, sensing my distress, uncoiled and slithered to the front, poking her head into the cab and out of the passenger window to look back, her flexible hood blowing with the wind.

“Are they ADVENT?”

She looked at me, her expression was neutral.

“You don't know?”

The vehicles were gaining, and we were already cruising at a respectable speed. Should I go faster? Try to outrun them? I didn't actually know that they were gunning for us yet, but what else could they be doing on this empty road?

I decided to maintain my speed, hoping they would pass us. Vi did not protest, and just watched cautiously from the troop bay, staying out of sight. She still had her laser pistol if things got ugly, it wasn't much but it was something. I considered putting the helmet back on, but these were not ADVENT vehicles, it might not have the desired effect. I kept my hands on the wheel as what was revealed to be a column of trucks drew closer. They were jeeps and SUVs, painted green and tan, their windshields and windows covered in mesh camouflage. One aging Toyota pickup had a god damned anti-aircraft gun bolted to the deck. They looked military, they must be rebels, it was the only explanation for their strange appearance and their distance from the city.

One truck matched speeds with us, a man wearing a scarf over his mouth pointed a rifle at us and gestured for me to pull over. I rolled down the window, showing him that I was human and waving, hoping to appear non-threatening. He seemed to speak to the driver, and they accelerated, pulling in front of us and braking so that we would slow. The rest of the column boxed us in, pushing us to the side of the road.

They wouldn't kill me, my story would certainly endear me to rebels, but if they saw Vi who knew what they might do to her? I turned my head back to the troop bay, Vi looked nervous, she was coiled in a heap in the middle of the floor.

“Vi, stay there, don't get out. Stay, Vi.” I gestured with my hand, trying to mime 'keep down'.

I had to assume she understood. The wheels of the troop transport hit gravel, the stones impacting the undercarriage, and we came to a halt. The rebel vehicles stopped around us, keeping their distance, and soldiers exited to take cover behind them and point weapons at us.

“Get out of the truck!” Someone shouted.

I took a deep breath and opened the driver's door, jumping to the ground with my hands raised.

“I'm not ADVENT!” I shouted back.

They talked amongst themselves for a few moments, noting my civilian attire and my lack of sidearms.

“Alright stranger, how did you come by that transport?” The man called from behind his jeep.

“We stole it!”

“We? You got someone else with you, boy?”

My stomach knotted with dread as I walked around to the back of the vehicle.

“Yeah, but don't freak out, ok? Will you let me explain myself? Preferably not through shouting?”

One of the men walked from behind cover lowering his weapon, the others kept them trained on me. He wore tan clothing and an unkempt beard, a checkered scarf was hung around his neck.

“So why don't you tell me how a civilian ended up all the way out here driving an ADVENT troop transport?”

I told our story to him, censored for brevity, and for decency. I explained to him how I had befriended this Viper, and how she had sprung me from jail, saving me from execution after my false imprisonment. He held his hand out, stopping me.

“Wait wait, you say you have a fucking Viper with you? In that transport?” He raised his weapon, alarmed.

“No, no, wait, listen to me, please, she's my friend, more than that, my best friend, she saved my life, and she killed ADVENT to do it. She's with me, if you kill her...” I trailed off, not wanting to exasperate the situation with threats that I probably couldn't follow through on.

He considered for a moment, lowering his weapon.

“You know this whole thing sounds like a fucking honey trap to me, boy. I open that back door expecting your fictional friendly viper, and out pops a fucking juiced up Berserker who tears through us before we can put him down.”

I crossed my arms, frustrated.

“If that's the way you feel then just let me keep driving, I don't know where we'll go, but I'm not risking her getting hurt for any reason. If there's even one gun pointed at that truck I'm not opening the door, and she won't come out unless I tell her to.”

“I could just shoot you, then she'd probably come out.” He replied, matter-of-factly.

I bristled, and he waved his hand dismissively.

“You said you were someone's cousin? What did you say his name was? If he operates round these parts there's a good chance I'd know him.”

“I didn't, but his name is Harris, Tiberius Harris.”

The man turned and called back to the rebel vehicles.

“Harris, get your ass out here, this guy says he knows you!”

“I didn't say that!” I protested, “I said he was my cousin.”

The man pointed his rifle at my chest.

“If you're lying and he doesn't recognize you, I'm putting a slug through your chest. Don't make that face, kid, things are rough all around these days.”

I swallowed hard as what was supposedly Harris walked up to me.

“Don't know him boss.”

“Wait!” I shouted. “Wait, wait, you 'do' know me! Before the war, twenty years ago, you were nineteen, I was about twelve, I was...I am your cousin.” I wracked my brain trying to dredge up some memory, something that he might remember that would confirm my story. I tried to keep my voice level so as not to alarm Vi, if she were to come to my defense thinking I was in distress she would be cut down before I could wave her back inside.

Harris looked at me, his eyes skeptical through his balaclava.

“Come on man, you're going to get me killed, think!”

“I do have cousins, I don't remember all their names though, and I wouldn't recognize one after twenty bloody years.” He replied.

“You may not remember me, but what about my sister? Tall, blonde, she would have been twenty when I last saw you. Her name was Cassie, huge rack, dressed like she wanted to give my dad a heart attack.”

Harris thought for a moment, then chuckled.

“Oh yeah, I remember that, what ever happened to her?”

“Dead, in the war.”

“That's a shame.” He turned to the man who seemed to be in charge. “Guess he's my cousin boss.”

I exhaled with a sigh of relief. Thank you Cassie, and by extension my father's overbearing parenting.

“Well your story seems to check out, now let's take a look at this Viper.”

We walked round to the back of the truck, and I put my hand on the door handle.

“Please, don't point any guns at her.”

I placed myself between the men and the door, intending to block a clean shot with my body. I called to Vi.

“It's ok Vi, you can come out, stay calm.”

I pulled the handle and opened the door slowly, it creaked on its hinges, and I beckoned to Vi, looking behind me to make sure nobody had their weapons raised.

I gestured for her to come to me, but slowly, she seemed to understand, and crawled over to me, poking her head out experimentally. The rebels recoiled, but did not fire their weapons, Vi looked nervous. I took her oversized, clawed hand in mine and led her out, being careful to stay between her and the guns.

“See? Harmless.”

The rebel leader appraised her, mild disgust in his eyes.

“I don't know about harmless, I've seen what these things can do in the field, but I've never seen one let you hold its fucking hand.”

“I promise as long as nobody hurts me, she won't harm anyone. She's defected, she killed two guards to free me.”

One of the men walked up to the leader, a radio in his hand. His speech was muffled through a bandanna that was wrapped over his face.

“ADVENT chatter boss, they're putting out an alert on someone driving a stolen troop transport, standard encoding.”

The leader eyed us skeptically, then thumbed the safety on his gun. Vi looked to me for support and I patted her arm, trying to reassure her.

“This is too fucking weird to be a set up, alright you weirdos, load up in the transport and follow us back to the homestead, we'll destroy it when we get back so it can't be traced, but that fucking thing,” he gestured to Vi, “won't fit in any of our vehicles.”

“Ok, ok cool.”

“Sorry for scarin' you, but we can't be too careful. Spies everywhere these days.”

The men walked back and mounted their truck, and I motioned for Vi to get back inside the transport, then climbed in and turned to follow the convoy.


***


The rebels led us off the road and down a dirt path into a forest, I was still apprehensive, I hoped that they wouldn't give Vi any trouble, but this was the best outcome we could hope for, a stroke of luck, really. Prejudice was easier dealt with than a firing squad.

Eventually, after following the rough dirt trail for several miles we came into a clearing, the trees had been cut away in a wide area, and a defensive fence had been erected around the perimeter. A guard tower at the gate was manned by a sniper, I could see the glint of his scope reflecting the sun as he tracked our transport. These guys meant business, as the gate opened and the vehicles drove inside, I saw the interior, there were a dozen buildings set up mostly around the edges, these weren't the makeshift tin shacks I had seen on television, these were real wooden buildings, built to last. They had a whole village going here, hidden away from prying eyes.

As we ground to a halt, soldiers from the rebel village approached the vehicle with their guns raised, and I hopped out of the driver's seat, gesturing for Vi to wait, and tried to find the boss. He was exiting one of the SUVs, and I got his attention.

“Can you tell your men to chill out? They're gonna scare my Viper.”

He called everyone together and relayed to them the situation, telling them to keep their weapons low. I'm sure he added a great big asterisk as soon as I was out of earshot, but it was to be expected.

Vi had never done anything like this before, and she didn't speak English, I would have to handle this situation very carefully or she might become alarmed. I opened the door, and ushered her out slowly. She emerged, hesitant, and gazed around the compound, swiveling her head on her flexible neck. She drew attention, both curious and negative. Despite most of these people being soldiers, there were families here too, and Vi looked to me for guidance. I quietly removed her laser pistol and dropped it quietly into the truck, I didn't need her walking around armed. I noticed the sniper in the guard tower was watching us like a hawk, his crosshair was probably trained on Vi's head.

I took her by the hand and guided her towards the leader and a large group of maybe fifty people, they eyed her warily, most were armed. They looked like veterans, they must hate ADVENT with a passion.

I coughed, trying to draw their attention from the increasingly nervous alien.

“Er...hi, this is my viper, you can call her Vi, she doesn't speak English, but she's friendly, she defected from ADVENT, she's killed at least two troopers that I know of.”

I paused, waiting for nods of approval, or maybe a few hellos, but none came, so I continued.

“She broke me out of jail, they were going to execute me, we commandeered that transport back there. I wore a helmet and impersonated a...trooper...” I trailed off. Tough crowd.

“Well I thought it was a cool story...” I muttered, deflated.

It occurred to me that Vi had probably fought as many humans as they had fought aliens, and their overt hostility would not make her integration any easier. I waved to the leader, and he walked over to me.

“So, what can I call you?”

“You can just call me boss.” He replied gruffly.

“Fair enough, boss. So...can we get some orientation? Is there anything you need us to do? Somewhere we can go?”

“First thing I'm gonna do is call this in over the wire and let XCOM know we got a rogue viper, if what you've told me is true the eggheads will want to have a good look at her.”

“They won't take her away?” I asked, a little too much worry creeping into my voice. Boss eyed me curiously.

“I don't know why you two are so joined at the hip. If something is going on, I'll get to the bottom of it, don't assume you can abuse my hospitality. For the moment, you're in luck, we have a free cabin, lost a guy at a roadblock the other night, nobody has claimed it yet, it's yours for as long as you're here.”

He tossed me a key, and pointed me to a small cabin at the far end of the compound, it looked like it had been built by hand.

He motioned to Vi, gesturing to his eyes, then to her, 'I'm watching you'. Vi eyed him warily as he strode away to attend to his business. She glanced at me and rumbled unhappily.

“I know you don't like this, but we don't have a choice.”

I led her over to the cabin, the rebels watched her warily, families closed their doors as we passed, as if this were some medieval village and we had the black plague. I wanted to get Vi inside the cabin as quickly as possible and away from prying stares, I turned the key in the lock and it clunked heavily, the wooden door opening at an odd angle. It looked empty save for some basic furnishings, those of course were not hand crafted, they looked as if they had been recovered from various sources, I saw a school desk serving as a table in one corner, and a book shelf in a classical style with carved feet that looked out of place. The floorboards creaked under Vi's weight, and they were uneven, apparently hand carved. Had the previous owner, or perhaps the community built this shack? It was such a jarring transition, coming from the pristine city of glass and plastic, to this quaint, rustic cabin.

It smelled good though, I appreciated that.

Vi's head scraped the ceiling and she had to duck to avoid awkward, protruding rafters. She shot me a questioning glance.

“You'll have to get used to it.”

It had two inward facing windows, who knew where the glass might have come from, I closed the ragged, moth-eaten curtains on the compound and sat on the bed, the mattress was beat, but it was better than the concrete cot in my cell. There was only one bed, did they expect Vi to sleep on the floor like some kind of pet? She whined unhappily, she was insecure, it made sense, but I wanted to reassure her, we were in no immediate danger. I shifted my weight to one end of the bed and patted the space next to me. Vi slithered over and perched on her 'butt', her long tail winding away into the cabin, taking up most of the floor. I noticed there was no kitchen or bathroom, those must be communal.

Her hood drooped, she reminded me of an Orca at Seaworld, I reached up and massaged her hood, running my fingers over its fleshy surface. She leaned into my shoulder, expelling air discontentedly.

“We did it Vi, we got out. Against all odds we're alive.”

She didn't understand me, no matter, I could show her my gratitude in other ways.

I ran my fingertips under her hood, seeking out the sensitive zone where it joined her neck, and traced my fingers along the contour. She sighed again, less miserably this time.

I grasped her hands, and held them in mine, she looked at me curiously.

“We have each other, that's the most important thing, I'd rather be on the run with you, than safe and comfortable, but alone.” She had no clue what I was saying, but she understood inflections, tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures. I tried to think of some way to express myself, to help her see the brighter side of our situation, but eventually I just settled on a hug, wrapping my arms around her and pulling her smooth body towards me, my face pressing into her chest, unavoidable due to our height difference.

After a moment I felt her reciprocate, and I knew that on some level she understood what her help had meant to me, and how much I valued her companionship. I felt her dull claws find my head, and stroke my hair slowly, the comforting scent of her bust filled my nose and I felt myself relaxing.

We may not able to communicate verbally, but we made up for it with an encyclopedic knowledge of each other's bodies and mannerisms, honed through months of late night encounters.

I knew how to relieve her stress and make her relax.


***


I ran my finger along her 'thigh', pressing into its fatty surface and finding the taut muscle underneath, I made my way up to her genital slit and teased its tightly closed lips, almost invisible to the untrained eye. The tip of her tail flicked expectantly, and I traced my finger up the center, eliciting a shiver. Sensing that she wanted me to continue, I pushed my finger deeper, it passed through into her rapidly moistening folds of silky flesh. I could feel the tension in her muscles, she needed this, and so did I. I used my forefingers to split the puffy lips open, her white underbelly giving way to rosy, pink flesh, then pushed my finger gently into her vagina. She was getting wetter, I teased the opening a little more, trying to get her juices flowing, bringing my mouth down to meet her hardening clitoris.

She grunted as I played my wet tongue over its surface, sucking it between my lips and pressing it gently, and her tunnel accepted my finger, her now slippery hole contracting around it, trying to pull it deeper.

“I owe you, let me take care of it.” I said, pushing her gently down onto the bed so that she lay on her back, I sank to the floor on my knees, resting on her squashy lap, and continued my invasive probing. I went slowly, building her arousal over time, like blowing up a balloon she would eventually pop, and hopefully release all of her tension along with it. She lay back, compliant, breathing heavily as I mouthed and licked, pulling apart her layered folds with my fingers in order to expose as much of her engorged protrusion as possible.

She began to squirm under me, her long, chubby tail moving rhythmically and pressing against my erection. She lay with her arms stretched above her head, the weight of her heavy breasts deforming them as they hung to her sides, the firm tissue underneath just enough to retain their shape. She rolled her wide hips gently, the protruding pelvic bone casting a shadow in the low light from a solitary, naked bulb hanging from a rafter. My eyes lingered on her abs as she flexed them, firm bundles of muscle protruding from under her silky belly, glistening with beads of sweat.

I gazed at them longingly, almost forgetting what I was supposed to be doing, mesmerized by their hypnotic motions. I dove back in, the metallic, slightly salty taste of her fluids tickling my taste buds. I felt her agile tail creeping back in my direction, twirling around my leg and reaching for my groin, its tapered tip massaging my growing bulge gently through my pants. Her hands reached down and nestled in my hair, the heat of them permeating my scalp and making my heart flutter. She kneaded like a cat, the stimulation forcing my eyes closed as I continued to service her, reaching my finger deeper into her hot, textured insides, beckoning in an attempt to find her sweet spot. I was getting pretty good at it now, usually able to locate it. She jumped, yep, there it was. I teased it, applying a slow, light pressure, and she moved to grind against my hand, her wide hips reaching up to press me deeper.

I drew out her swollen protuberance, enclosing it in my lips and applying suction to it, while pushing my finger into her weak point, she came hard, her writhing tail knocking over a plastic lawn chair, she gripped fistfuls of my hair painfully, pressing my face into her hot groin. The tip of her tail clenched around my leg a little harder than was comfortable, and she let out a long hiss, like steam escaping from a broken pipe as her toned body roiled. After a minute she cooled down, her violent movements slowing and becoming a peaceful wriggle, I rubbed her mound gently, keeping her afterglow going as the placating waves washed over her.

She lay back, panting, and I slid up her body to lie down next to her, my arms draped around her waist.

“Feel better?”

She was still off color, but my plan to calm her down had partially succeeded, and she planted a kiss on my cheek, purring gratefully.

We fell asleep together.


***


I awoke to a knock at the door, I rolled out of bed, trying to escape Vi's coils without rousing her. She opened one amber eye, then rumbled her displeasure, rolling over to face the wall sleepily. I walked towards the door, rubbing my eyes groggily, and unlocked it, opening it a crack and sticing my head through.

“Yes? Who is it?”

A rebel soldier I had never seen before was standing outide.

“You the viper guy?

“I guess so.” I replied.

“The boss wants to see you in the large building, over to the East side.”

“Ok, tell him I'm on my way.”

I took a minute to pull on some pants and freshen up, then made my way to what I had to assume was the HQ, it was a large, long building, it reminded me of a Viking longhouse from a history book, it made sense to use old construction techniques when the building materials were limited to wood. All it was missing was the carved figurehead, I amused myself by imagining the bust of a viper perched above the entrance.

There was a long wooden table in the middle of the hall, papers, tablet computers and laptops were scattered across its surface, and a dozen men leaned in, having a heated discussion.

I knocked on a wooden beam, the sound echoing in the space, the men turned to look at me.

I cleared my throat.

“You wanted to see me, Boss?”

“Yes, viper guy, give me a minute.”

It sounded like that nickname was going to stick, it was appropriate, but it irked me that nobody had taken the time to ask my name.

I waited patiently, leaning on the beam as Boss wrapped up his meeting, whatever it was about. Although I had seen the darker, oppressive side of ADVENT, I had no love for terrorists, regardless of who they claimed to oppose, their bombs and attacks resulted in the deaths of innocent bystanders. I could appreciate their point of view a little better after recent events, but not their methods.

I idly wondered if turning them in would see me and Vi pardoned, and might allow us to resume our normal routine, but it wasn't worth the risk.

The men seemed to conclude their business, and filed out of the building, leaving me alone with Boss.

He wandered over to me, his hands in his pockets.

“So, viper guy, I've been in contact with XCOM, they're very interested in meeting your viper friend.”

“They're not going to dissect her?” I asked warily.

“I doubt it, they probably just want to see what she knows, nothing like this has ever happened before that we know of. No ADVENT has ever gone rogue, I've seen a Berserker barrel through a trooper that got in his way once or twice, but that was never an intentional act of defiance. My guess is your viper is some kind of mutant, something went wrong when they were growing her in a vat, whatever mind control signal or conditioning that keeps the other critters in line doesn't work on your friend.”

I nodded, it made sense. We knew that the Elders, the shadowy ruling class of ADVENT society controlled their forces from the top down, commanding absolute loyalty. It was entirely possible that the X-rays were not fighting of their own volition, but that there was some kind of control signal or psychic hive mind compelling them to carry out their orders. Would they not have guessed that Vi was a reject by her behavior? Maybe if she just did what she was told anyway, because what else could she do, they would never suspect her.

I pondered this as Boss continued talking.

“They're going to send a Skyranger to pick her up in a few days, and probably you along with her so they can question you about how the hell this happened.”

“Not probably, wherever Vi goes, I go too.”

Boss shrugged.

“Looks like separating you two would be more trouble than its worth, but take my advice, XCOM are not a rag tag rebel group as ADVENT propaganda would have you believe. They're a professional fighting force developing technology and tactics that rival those of the X-rays, think twice before you mouth off to them.”

“So, what shall we do while we wait?”

Boss brought a cigarette from his picket, and lit it with a match, shielding it with his hands. He took a drag then exhaled a cloud of smoke.

“Honestly, don't care, if you can find a way to help out around the homestead, I'll make sure nobody stops you, but the men don't like X-rays, you might want to keep your viper girlfriend away from prying eyes.”

My heart stopped, did he know about our relationship? No, he was being facetious.

An explosion rolled in from the forest, the boom shaking my bones and chattering my teeth, making me jump out of my skin.

“Slow down kid, that's just your truck, can't have the X-rays tracking it here.”

My heart beat like a drum, and I held my chest.

“Is...is there anything else you need to tell me?”

Boss considered, then replied no.

I left the HQ building and made my way back to the cabin, observing the work that was going on around me. There were one or two new buildings being erected, their wooden foundations and log walls well underway, the Toyota with the mounted gun was in the middle of the clearing in the center of the compound, and seemed to be manned at all times, I assumed in case an ADVENT dropship should fly over the treeline. There was a well, several electric generators that poured dark smoke angrily as they hummed, and a large communications tower that protruded above the trees, it looked like it had been made from scrap metal and salvaged satellite dishes. Most residents seemed to be preparing food or cleaning weapons. A couple of people worked on the vehicles, black oil staining their clothing.

Boss had described XCOM as being a separate entity from the rebels, an organization in its own right. That confused me, ADVENT propaganda had told me that XCOM were the rebels, they were one and the same, poorly equipped preppers and insurgents who matched the description of these homesteaders pretty accurately. It sounded like Boss answered to XCOM, they must be leading the rebellion and organizing things from afar. The way he talked about them, it made it sound as though they had actual resources, maybe that really was the best way to keep Vi safe.

As I approached out cabin I saw Vi outside, she was perched on her tail, resting her arms on the roof as she surveyed the compound, her large head swiveling on her flexible neck. She noticed me, and her hood flared happily, she slithered over to meet me.

The world exploded.


***


I was lying on my back, staring at the sky. I tasted dirt in my mouth and my ears rang as if someone had hit a church bell with a sledgehammer. My head ached. I was being lifted, moving fast, faster than should be possible. I saw a hooded head peering down at me, Vi must be carrying me. She set me down gently, I tried to sit up but she placed a clawed hand on my chest, 'stay down'.

She turned to the sky and hissed, fangs the length of my finger unsheathing from her fleshy maw. She dashed off, moving almost faster than my eyes could track.

I heard shouting, I turned my head and saw the Toyota rocking back on its suspension, the AA cannon expelling heavy brass shells, smoking as they bounced on the ground. Red light blinded me, an ADVENT dropship, passing low over the compound, it fired mortars at the soldiers below, great eruptions of soil being thrown into the air where the energy blasts landed.

Men and vehicles were thrown like toys, the ship rocked under the impact of the AA shells but stayed its course, ablative armor deflecting most of the damage. I saw a mortar land dead center on the Toyota, throwing it into the air, it fell heavily a short distance away, crumpling as if were a discarded soda can. A rocket was fired from out of view, the smoke trail missing the dropship by an inch, curving as it fell away into the distance over the forest.

The ship closed in, hovering low over the compound, side doors opening to disgorge troops. They leapt heavily to the ground, Mutons, clad in green armor and rebreathers, their tribal tattoos swirling across their exposed skin. They hefted wicked plasma rifles with serrated bayonets. There were seven of them, and they immediately dashed for cover, laying down suppressing fire as they crouched behind buildings and ruined vehicles. One tossed a plasma grenade, the glowing green objected bouncing off the hood of one of the camouflaged pickups, it exploded in a ball of emerald energy, melting the metal as if it were paper held over a flame.

The rebels returned fire, the sniper dropped one Muton with a headshot and its limp body fell heavily to the floor, but on its way out the dropship launched a mortar at the guard tower, which exploded in a cloud of splintered wood. It accelerated, disappearing into the distance, and the rebels fired wildly at the aliens.

Their armor seemed to shrug off small arms fire, they loosed green bolts of energy with impressive accuracy, knocking rebels off their feet, their cries of pain as the super heated plasma burned through their flesh suddenly silenced as the projectiles reached their organs.

Boss emerged from cover, firing at the aliens with his automatic rifle and rallying his men around him, they moved forward, taking cover opposite the brutish X-rays.

The clamor of battle overwhelmed my senses, I sat up gingerly, checking that all my limbs were still there. I looked fine, no damage, my clothes were torn and dirt stung where it had been forced into small cuts and abrasions, but I wasn't injured, just shaken. I stood, my legs wobbling, where was Vi?

Suddenly some kind of smoke bomb hit the Mutons, they scattered, leaping from their cover. A mist of green tinted vapor was dissipating on the wind where they had been only a moment ago. Two of the Mutons were cut down by concentrated fire, the other four scrambled for cover. A red laser beam hit one in the back, it stumbled, roaring angrily, it turned about to aim its large rifle but a second laser beam hit it between the eyes, leaving a smoking, cauterized hole. It fell, and I noticed lightning fast movement on a rooftop, the large figure ducked out of sight.

The rebels gained ground, keeping the Mutons suppressed as the figure darted to an adjacent roof. Another green puff of vapor, the brawny aliens scattered, was it acid? Poison?

It had to be Vi, she was supporting the rebels against the ADVENT troops, spitting clouds of venom to drive them from cover, she must have somehow retrieved and concealed the laser pistol I had put back in the truck. Clever girl, not wanting to be unarmed amongst the rebels. Lord knew how she had concealed it.

She fired from above the scurrying X-rays, they span around, unloading flaring energy bolts at the roof, but she dodged, her long, sinewy body making an impossible target as she writhed and sped out of sight. Her agility was a sight to behold, powerful muscles driving her like a brown missile.

I wanted to help her, but I didn't have a weapon, and even if I did I had no idea how to shoot a gun, I was a fucking factory worker. A stray grenade tore through one Muton, vicious shrapnel eviscerating it, it dropped like a sack of bricks. A second, the arm it had used to shield its face peppered with shrapnel wounds that oozed yellow goop, fired back one-handed, killing a rebel who fell to the floor in a screaming heap.

Vi's laser hit it in the back of the neck while he was distracted, the energy pistol driving a beam of photons through its vertebrae, the smoldering exit wound appearing below his throat.

There was still one left, it charged, loosing an intimidating battle cry, thundering forward with its bayonet up. It went straight for a rebel who fired fruitlessly, emptying a magazine into the great creature at point blank range, but it didn't even slow it down. It barreled into him with the force of a freight train, driving the gruesome bayonet through the man's chest, his rib cage splintering like so many toothpicks, gore and viscera exploding as the blade exited his back.

The Muton dropped the man to the floor like a doll and turned to Boss, who unsheathed a sidearm, some kind of revolver, and fired into the creature's face, fanning the hammer like an Old West duelist. The Muton roared in pain and fury, but advanced, raising the bayonet above its head.

The Muton fell on its face, looking back, confused, as Vi's sinuous tail coiled around its legs, dragging it backwards across the dirt. It dug its fingers into the soil, panic in its eyes, slowing itself slightly. Vi heaved, her powerful muscles tearing the massive alien from its hold, when it came into range she wrapped it, like she might a lover, but this was no gentle embrace. Her taut muscles, flowing under her smooth skin like a roiling river, closed around the powerful creature, straining and shuddering. The Muton began to scream through its mask, a horrifying, piercing sound, I heard bones snap and pop, its limbs contorting at unnatural angles. It tuned my stomach, but I couldn't look away, Vi squashed it as if it were a mouse, a torrent of blood erupting from the grill that covered its mouth and nose silencing its pained screams, its eyeballs protruding.

Vi spat and hissed, her massive fangs bared like twin swords of hollow bone. Her hood flared in triumph and anger. My heart dropped, would they shoot her too? But Boss called for them to stand down, and Vi dropped the limp, ruined body of the Muton heavily to the ground, uncoiling, her laser pistol still smoking.

I jogged over to her, still shaky, she spun her head at the sound of my approaching footsteps, then her expression softened, her long fangs drawing back up into her mouth. She craned her neck, seeming to examine me for injuries, checking I was intact.

Boss holstered his revolver, walking over to us. People scurried around us, putting out fires, dragging the dead and wounded away, shouting instructions.

“Well now I'm starting to think it was 'our' luck that made us run into you on that road, not yours.”

“What the hell was that?” I panted. “They just landed and attacked with no warning, didn't even give you a chance to surrender.”

Boss shook his head in disbelief, then chuckled quietly, lighting up another one of his cigarettes.

“Just what the hell do you think ADVENT is, kid? They're not cops, they don't read us our rights and ask us to lay down our arms and come peacefully, they're an occupying army, they kill dissidents on sight when nobody is there to film it. The second you mindless drones in the cities stopped towing the party line, they'd round you up like cattle and exterminate you.”

I thought about the people who had been killed in the protests, maybe he was right, I had suspected that the ADVENT leadership might be inept, but not evil, genocidal. I looked around me at the chaos, smoke billowed from destroyed vehicles and the roof of a building that had caught fire, the cries of the injured floated over the compound, which had now become a battlefield.

I looked to Vi, towering over us, extended on her tail, her amber eyes reflecting the orange glow of the fires as she surveyed, alert for more danger.

Boss took a drag, the tip of his cigarette flaring. He gestured to her.

“This thing is a fucking godsend, nice to have one of these on our side for a change. I'll let her keep that laser pistol for now. Hard to question her allegiance when she pops a Muton like a grape ten feet from me.”

“You seem pretty aloof, has this kind of thing happened before?”

“Not to us personally, no, but it's a common occurrence for homesteads and bases like this. I expected it to happen eventually. Surprised it took 'em this long really.”

I was really starting to see ADVENT in a new light, in just a few short days, twenty years of propaganda and lies was being unraveled like a ball of yarn, how could I have been so blind? How could I have swallowed down the shit ADVENT fed me, how could I have made excuses for their mistreatments and their abuses?

Because it was easy, I realized. It was 'what you did', you didn't make waves, you kept your head down, ignore the things happening around you, because it's easy, because it's painless. Numb yourself to the world and the people that surround you, keep your eyes low, because looking up and seeing their faces, seeing the injustices might spur you into action against your own best interests. It might make you a dissident, an objector, a rebel despite yourself.

I remembered the quote, all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, and these rebels, these 'terrorists', they were the good men, doing something.

They risked their lives, the lives of their families, friends, acquaintances, all in an attempt to save people like me, like I had been, an enabler. Well no more.

“What's up viper guy? One battle shouldn't be enough to give you a thousand yard stare.”

I had been zoning out, I recovered, glancing at Vi, then back to Boss.

“Teach me to shoot, when XCOM comes for Vi, I'm joining them.”


CHAPTER 4: AWAKENING


I opened the door of the cabin, placing my rifle on a table. It was a pre-war model, antiquated, but even a musket would kill a man, it might do so less efficiently, at a lesser range, but it was no less deadly. Boss had been teaching me how to fire it, how to maintain the weapon. I could strip it and clean it now, the parts and inner workings as familiar to me as the turrets I used to manufacture in the factory back home. I had been getting better over the days since the battle, I could hit my targets now. Squeeze the trigger, don't pull it. Breathe out when you fire. Short bursts, helps with the muzzle climb.

I didn't yet know if the secretive XCOM organization would take me in, but I had to make it known that me and Vi were a package deal. If they wanted her, they had to take me too, and I would make myself useful to them. My training was motivated by a new emotion that had germinated within me, a righteous anger, vengeful and cold, like an icy wind blowing through crags on a mountain peak. Not a hatred, not exactly, just an acknowledgment that ADVENT must be removed, and it would take violence to do that.

Vi was curled up, her long body half on the bed, half on the floor. She was asleep after a long day of work, the rebels had her using her immense strength to lift logs, repairing some of the damaged buildings and constructing new ones. She was a biological crane, her height and brawn accelerating construction enormously. Everyone had warmed up to her after the battle, eventually wariness had become curiosity, and curiosity had led to interaction. Boss had even found her a translation tablet, the same kind she had use when we had first met. It was in a shed they had set up that contained booty stolen during raids that they had deemed useless, but too interesting to throw out. It allowed her some rudimentary communication, but it was enough that people stopped seeing her as an animal, and started to view her as an intelligent person.

Ever alert, she heard me enter the cabin, and rolled over to face me, amber eyes peering out at me.

“Hello Vi.”

She reached for the bedside table to pick up her tablet, and tapped with her long fingers.

[HELLO] The synthesized voice fizzed from the built-in speaker.

“Work hard today?” I asked, hanging up my jacket and stepping gingerly over her coils to sit on the bed beside her.

[WE CONSTRUCT FINAL]

“Oh, so you've finished? You really helped them out, I think that one architect has a crush on you.”

She huffed, and sat up, stretching her arms above her head.

[TIRED BODY, COMFORT]

“Oh, fine, I guess you've been working a lot harder than I have.”

She purred, lying down on her belly across the bed, her fat breasts pressed beneath her.

I leaned over her, running my hands down her smooth back, her fine scales somewhat more prominent here than on her soft underbelly. Her brown and yellow patterning criss-crossed down the length of her back and tail. She rumbled softly at my touch, I could feel her taut muscles moving under her fat layer. I pressed my fingers deeper, seeking out tight muscles and tendons, relieving her stress with my firm kneading. She rolled her wide shoulders, bunches of firm tissue creating depressions in her hide. It was mesmerizing. I put my hands on her shoulders, rubbing the base of her long neck and the bulging trapezius muscles with my thumbs, the pressure making her croon happily.

I moved my hands down, palms gliding over her glossy skin, she shivered as my fingertips grazed the dimple that ran down her spine, moving towards her haunches and past her dorsal muscles. I massaged her lower back, her tail curled and uncurled as I rubbed, I snuck a few squeezes of her firm butt. If I had a coin on me, I might have tried to see if it would bounce. She grumbled knowingly, and I moved back up, pushing through her fat to reach her steely tendons. I continued my massage, admiring her patterning and impeccable musculature. She was probably bred to be this way, or fed a diet that would encourage muscle growth. She didn't look like a body builder, it wasn't grotesque or overstated, but the subtle brawn hid under a layer of yielding fat that insulated her cold blooded body, only rising to the surface to accentuate her female form when prompted. The only ones that protruded consistently were her abs and butt. Like a human her fat deposits clustered in the places that complimented her figure, giving her wide hips, exaggerated breasts and thick thighs, although hers were joined together and tapered into her winding tail.

I massaged her until my arms began to ache, and she lay with her eyes closed, half awake, enjoying the attention of my comparatively delicate hands. I patted her butt, the soft meat rippling under my hand, indicating I was done.

She brought her head back around to me on her serpentine neck, and delivered an upside down kiss. Her spongy lips pushed against me, and I opened my mouth a little, accepting her sinewy tongue. It explored, the sensation of the wet, slimy organ moving and tickling the roof of my mouth made me dizzy. My erection grew rapidly, pressing into her thigh.

She broke away with a sultry smooch, and flipped her head the right way up. She raised her scaly eyebrows and pushed her hip against my stiffening shaft. I grunted.

“Ok you caught me, my hand is in the proverbial cookie jar.”

She wrapped an arm around me, pulling me down into the bed, the sheets a mess due to her tossing and coiling. She pressed me into the mattress, crawling on top of me, and pressed her face into the nape of my neck. Her fleshy, wet lips kissed my neck gently, the sensation sending a shiver down my spine. This wasn't something we needed a translator for, when we moved together it was like our minds became one, anticipating the wants and needs of our one another, our bodies merging and twisting into a tangled mess.

I felt her warm, slippery tongue leave her mouth, worming its way around my neck. She applied a gentle pressure, not seeking to strangle, merely to tease, but my body responded anyway. I reached up a hand reflexively, trying to hold the slippery surface, but to no avail. She tightened a little, then released me, huffing at my red face. She ran her soft lips over my skin, sucking gently and leaving red marks, then moved up to my ear, chewing it wetly. I cringed, the feeling of her fleshy maw and her agile tongue tugging and licking overwhelming me.

I felt her sharp, hollow fangs unsheathe slightly, and push against my jugular, pricking my skin. I relaxed, my body going limp, and a tingling sensation washing over me.

“Oh, Vi...”

I closed my lips, embarrassed by my outburst, and she purred, winding her tail around my legs and using the tip to pull down my pants. My exposed erection bounced free, jumping with my heartbeat.

She continued her mouthing and gentle biting, it sent a flush to my cheeks and set my head spinning, and I jumped as I felt her soft palm enclose my member. Her long fingers wrapped it like a cage, and she began to pump slowly, torturously, moving the skin up and down. I bucked at the sensation, trying to push into her hand, but she held it in a firm grip, dictating the pace. She bit me again, a little harder, for my attempt to circumvent her control, and I felt my muscles weaken as I fell back into the bed.

Darn it, when she pricked me with her teeth it was like scruffing a cat, I didn't know what it was about her assertive biting but it just shut me down, and made my belly roil with guilty excitement. I probably shouldn't love it, but I did. I associated it with impending pleasure now, like Pavliovian conditioning she bit, and I yielded. It was her way of saying “this is my show, human.”

I'd get her back later, but for now...

My head swam, and my hips writhed as her methodical stroking went on, never changing speed, never giving me enough stimulation to satisfy me fully. Lubricated by my own leaking excitement she ran her fingers over the sensitive head, eliciting gasps and squirming which she rewarded with more nipping and mouthing. I put my hands over my eyes, trying to endure.

“Damn it Vi...you'll drive me crazy.”

Sensing that it was becoming unbearable, she slipped me another sensuous kiss, bringing up her free hand to hold my face in place. As her tongue probed my mouth obscenely, subjecting me to an invasive, hot kiss, she began to pump faster, her grip hardening around my throbbing shaft.

I tried to pull away from her, to let out a moan, but she held me in her cruel embrace, my exclamations coming out in strained bursts that were muffled by her thick tongue.

It was maddening, her forceful tongue teased my esophagus as I came over her fist, every motion of her hand driving another torrent from my aching member. I arched my back, a cascade of pleasure washing over my body, then, after what felt like an eternity, I collapsed back down into the sheets. Tingling aftershocks ran through my muscles, augmented by her slow, conciliatory kissing. Vi released me from her embrace, our shared saliva leaking down my chin, and huffed at me, chuckling in her alien way, 'look at the mess you made'.

I panted, reaching for her face and running my hand under her hood, she squirmed happily.

We lay together for a while as I recovered, her long tail coiled around me. I ran my hands over her skin, smooth like glass, and played with her weighty breasts, kneading the fatty globes and teasing her protruding nipples. Her eyelids drooped, and she squirmed, her powerful tail squeezing me. Despite how easily she had killed the Muton, her immense tail held me in a gentle hug, never applying more pressure than was comfortable for me.

Even in her most intense fugue of pleasure she had never hurt me, she must be constantly aware of me, and the strength she was applying. I couldn't lie, it was kind of exciting, the idea that she could crush me like that Muton, but that she simply wouldn't.

I pressed my flushed face into her neck, nuzzling, and she held the back of my head, fingers running through my hair. She purred contentedly and I felt the vibrations as they ran through her throat.

After a few minutes her enticing cleavage got the better of me, and as her scent and taste filled my head, my erection began to grow again, pressing against the firmness of her abdominal muscles. I began to move down, but she put a hand on my shoulder, stopping me.

She gazed down at me, a sly smirk on her face. She reached down, placing her open palm on the top side of my member, pressing the bottom into her abs. I squirmed as she compressed my organ, the abdominal muscles underneath still slick with a layer of her sweat. She watched my face intently, gauging my reaction, and huffed pointedly, seeing my eyelashes flutter and my face flood with blood. She had noticed that I liked them then, I was embarrassed and somewhat ashamed of my transparency, but equally excited.

I moved my hips a little, and my shaft slid upwards, grinding against the taut bumps of muscle, my knees went weak as I lay on my side. The glistening sudor on her lustrous, soft skin lubricated my shaft, and my pace increased. I must look ridiculous to her, humping against her belly, but she peered at me with a lurid grin, she put her other hand on my butt, pulling me towards her, increasing the pace.

Her firm, rubbery abs rolled across the underside of my shaft, tickling the sweet spot just below my glans, it wasn't bad, in fact it was pretty great. She applied more pressure with her hand, pressing me down harder, the contours of the muscles stimulating me.

I shivered, feeling an orgasm rising, but Vi's tail snaked up, wrapping around the base and cutting it off.

I winced.

“Ouch, damn it, Vi...”

She petted my head sarcastically, 'poor baby'.

She rolled me onto my back, and perched on top of me, her massive weight pressing me down into the bed. Her puffy lips met mine, and she teased me for a moment, playing with my tongue. She broke away, her hand moved down to her groin, splitting open her labia, a string of thick juice falling down onto my belly. My cock bobbed in anticipation, its sensitive head a mere inch away from her heavenly folds. She waited, leaking droplets of her viscous excitement onto my groin, and I became impatient.

“Come on Vi...I want it...”

She huffed, her hanging breasts swaying, and drove me inside her, dropping her full weight down on me. I gasped as I was pushed into her waiting hole, its tight walls compressing me almost painfully, folds and wrinkles dragging past my skin as her sex lubricated me. My cock reached the end of her vagina, and yet again my glans was greeted by the fleshy papillae, digging into my fragile head like dull teeth. I writhed under her, but her weight held me in place, jammed deep inside her warm, slippery loins.

“Argh! Fuck, Vi, too fast!”

Keeping me buried deep inside her, she rolled her hips, undulating and shifting my member around inside her. The barbs stabbed and dragged over me, their angle and pressure changing as she stirred. Her walls contracted, tough muscle sucking and pulling, keeping me trapped as far down as she could manage. It was like having a shark with teeth made of soft rubber gnawing at the tip of my cock. The stimulation was intense, it hurt a little, but it drove harsh pleasure deep into my body, scratching my carnal itch like sandpaper.

I grunted like a senseless animal, my eyes rolling up into my head, Vi watched me, amused, her agile head hovered inches above my face and her breasts skirted my nose. In revenge I leaned my head up, catching a nipple in my teeth and pulling it into my mouth. She gasped, her eyes widening, and her insides closed hard on me, I felt a shudder flow through her long body.

I crawled my hand down her belly, over her firm abs, and slipped two fingers between her slimy lips, digging for her clitoris. When I found the engorged nub of flesh, I pinched it, hard, and she froze up, a low hiss of air escaping her pursed lips.

“I'm taking you with me...” I chided, and she grumbled, squirming on top of me.

I rubbed her hard little protrusion as she ground her hips against me, the papillae clawing pitilessly at my most sensitive anatomy. It was a competition, a battle to see who would succumb first. Her hot breath washed over my face as her ragged breathing became faster, and I gritted my teeth, trying to contain the unbecoming gasps and yelps that threatened to escape my mouth.

Vi's tail slithered up my thigh, the thin tip wrapping around the base of my testicles and squeezing.

“Y-you cheat...” I moaned, rocking my head back, and seeing the opening she brought her maw down to my neck and bit, her sharp fangs raking my vulnerable skin.

She delivered one final thrust and squeezed, closing her muscles around me like a fist, those tormenting barbs digging into me, and I released inside her. My sensitivity heightened by my first orgasm, my brain flashed with bursts of white noise, tiny points of light burning into my retinas. I tried to curl into a ball but she held me flat, her gaze salacious as she watched me come, a string of saliva hanging unapologetically from the corner of her mouth. Her discolored eyelids closed as she felt globs of my hot emission flood her depths, and she came too, I pinched her clitoris and she bucked, her contractions coming in great, shuddering surges. I gripped handfuls of her soft flesh, hanging on as she climaxed, and her spasming muscles drew out what remained of my orgasm.

I lay back, utterly spent, a satisfied ache in my loins, and she fell down beside me, her scaly arm draped over my torso.

She reached for her tablet, tapping it with some difficulty, her hands shaky.

[GOOD, MINE HUMAN]

“Yeah, I like you too.”

She rested her head on my chest, like a giant dog, I stroked her hood and we fell asleep together.


***


The Skyranger's engines flared, kicking up dust and leaves as it landed in the middle of the compound. Boss, along with a few other higher ranked rebels, watched from a distance as a ramp at the back of the craft lowered, and a team of soldiers clad in shiny armor, wielding what looked like heavily modified laser weapons filed out. They set up a perimeter as an older man, bald with dark skin, descended the ramp to greet the group. After a brief introduction to Boss, he turned in our direction, his eyes lit up behind his glasses as he examined Vi.

“Interesting, fascinating...”

He walked up to her, his fingers tapping his chin pensively.

“I've never seen a Viper so close, at least, not one that was still alive...”

He trailed off as he met her gaze.

“Can you understand me?”

She raised her tablet, and after a brief delay, tapped a response.

[SMALL AMOUNT DEVICE]

“Incredible, and you.”

The man turned to me, and I stiffened, was he some general of the resistance?

“You must recount the story of how you two came to be here, I will record your testimony and study the details at length. Nothing like this has ever happened before, this suggests many, if not all of the ADVENT species are capable of independent thought and action when separated from the psionic network.”

I had no idea what he was talking about, but I nodded.

“So, you'll take me along? Vi needs me, she can't go alone.”

“Vi, she has a name!” He clapped his hands together enthusiastically. “Of course, of course, besides, Boss over there, as he likes to call himself, tells me you've become quite proficient with a firearm, I'm sure we can find a use for you on the Avenger.”

I opened my mouth to ask a question, but he took my arm, ushering me towards the Skyranger. Vi followed, winding along the ground behind us.

“All in good time my boy, all in good time, for now let's get you and your friend to safety! It would be a tragedy to lose such a fascinating specimen now.”

The XCOM soldiers, I could tell from the badges they wore as I drew closer, eyed Vi suspiciously, but they did not raise their weapons.

“Into the back you go.” He hesitated as Vi approached the ramp, then gestured. “After you ma'am.”

I waved goodbye to boss, and the soldiers walked up the ramp, taking seats inside the craft. I joined them, and Vi coiled up between the rows. The Skyranger rumbled under our feet, lifting off the ground and flying us low over the treetops, off to the XCOM base, I assumed.

The bald man spoke to me again.

“My name is Doctor Tygan, I'm the chief scientist on the Avenger, our mobile base as you will soon discover. I assure you, your friend here will be granted the utmost respect as we interview her and perform some non-invasive tests. She is, after all, a free creature now, sentient, emotional.”

“I would still like to be with her when that happens.”

“Of course, that can be arranged.”

Tygan seemed gleeful, almost childlike. I looked over to Vi, she was following some of the conversation on her device.

[NEW START, FUTURE SAFE]

Tygan clapped again, thrilled by her use of the voice modulator.

I wasn't sure what she meant, that we would be safe for the foreseeable future, or that we could work towards making the future safe along with XCOM, but at least for now we were out of reach of ADVENT, and we were together. Our fate was tied to XCOM now, and perhaps with their help we might be able to create a world where me and Vi could live together without fear, and enjoy eachother's company to the end of our days.


THE END