Uninvited 4

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

Chapter 1: Avengers

She slithered down the ramp of the dropship, her long body winding and undulating as she carried a wounded soldier in her arms, dropping him at the feet of a team of medics who were standing by in the hangar. She rose up on her muscular tail, her almost imperceptibly smooth scales flashing yellow and brown in the artificial lighting as she scanned the room. Operation Broken Shadow had gone well, they had accomplished their objective of destroying an ADVENT gene therapy clinic and seriously undermined the plans of the alien occupation. Vi had become a real asset to XCOM, nineteen confirmed kills in just a few short months. Having a rebel Viper onboard XCOM’s mobile base had made many of the more seasoned soldiers nervous and suspicious at first, ADVENT spies were everywhere and took many forms, however after her combat prowess had been demonstrated they had soon warmed up to her. She was stronger, faster and more perceptive than any human could ever have hoped to be, and she was invaluable when it came to infiltrating enemy bases or getting through security checkpoints.

She picked me out in the crowd of personnel, her reptilian eyes fixing on me, and with a burst of speed she shot across the space. She was like a coiled spring, liquid muscle given form, and she collided with me as the throng of people parted to let her pass. I found myself wrapped by her massive tail, like some gigantic constricting snake that meant to crush my bones to dust and swallow me whole. Her flesh was chubby and springy, soft fat lining her sinuous body under her delicate scales, her powerful muscles lurking beneath it as they tightened around me and lifted me clear off the deck.

The great alien lowered her head towards my face, flaring her fleshy hood, reminiscent of a cobra. Her jaws opened, exposing two wicked fangs as long as a human finger that retracted into sheaths in the roof of her pink mouth, and made to strike me.

She pecked me on the forehead, pressing her cool lips against my skin and leaving a fond kiss, then placed me gently back on the ground as the people surrounding us laughed heartily. This was my Viper, my Vi. It seemed like an eternity ago when we had first met, with no barracks in range to house ADVENT troops after an attack on a local facility in a remote rural area, she had been stationed in my family’s old farmhouse where I had been living alone at the time. Something had just clicked between us, a mutual curiosity and attraction that had slowly grown until before we knew it, we were sleeping together.

After a frantic escape from an ADVENT-controlled city we had joined XCOM, a human resistance movement that sought to drive the occupational forces off Earth and restore control of the planet to its rightful inhabitants. Initially considering them to be a terrorist organization, my eyes had been opened after witnessing the brutality and oppression of the alien forces firsthand, jarring me out of the complacent life I had been living and spurring me into action. Now we were both rebels, resistance fighters, battling not just for freedom from ADVENT’s rule but for our right to love.

The soldiers, scientists and engineers who staffed the massive mobile base that was the Avenger, a huge alien supply craft captured and repurposed by the rebels to act as a headquarters, had reacted with varying degrees of curiosity and disgust to our relationship. The scientists had been fascinated, if she did not grow restless and leave of her own accord the eggheads would poke and prod her with all manner of instruments for hours at a time, subjecting her to innumerable scans and tests in an attempt to determine just what was going through her head. They had interviewed the both of us at length, both to screen us and make sure that we weren’t ADVENT spies, and to sate their own curiosity. Was independent thought the rule for Vipers, or the exception? Was the same true for the other alien and synthetic races that made up the occupying forces? Could more of the enemy be turned to the XCOM cause? It had opened up a whole new perspective for many of the personnel, that these aliens were not just mindless killing machines serving an absolute authority without question, but people in their own right who were capable of making their own decisions and even of rebelling themselves.

The soldiers had been harder to convince, the more grizzled veterans especially had often faced Vipers on the battlefield and just having her around made them twitchy and uneasy. They were slow to trust, but once that trust had been won they were staunch and loyal comrades. Some still disapproved of the relationship on simple moral grounds, but the disapproving sideways glances and the whispered comments had ceased, and the bulk of the people manning the base now saw it as harmless or even endearing.

I had become a soldier too, serving with an XCOM squad as promised and trying hard to make myself useful to the resistance, though we had been placed in separate teams so as to avoid any conflict of interest or the risk of one of us putting the mission in jeopardy in order to protect the other.

Vi was a machine, running operation after operation, tireless and unflinching. She was no stranger to the military life, having been completely immersed in it at least during her extended deployment on Earth, working in conditions that must have been far more stressful and taxing than anything a human could endure. She slew her former masters with a fervor that surprised even some of the most decorated alien-killers, ever silent as she lined up shot after shot, her vocal cords unable to accurately reproduce human speech. She used a tablet computer to communicate when she needed to, but even then the language barrier was a problem as direct translations from whatever alien language she spoke to English were often ambiguous or downright nonsensical. She understood, and could make herself understood well enough, though in private we barely spoke. We had been together long enough and knew eachother well enough that body language was enough to convey almost anything we needed to say, the peaceful quiet of our alone time was one of the few escapes from the noisy day to day bustle of the vessel.

The crew knew we shared a bunk in our quarters, though I suspected many of them assumed it was the relationship between a loyal pet and its owner, rather than a romantic one. Vi’s relative silence came across to some people as a lack of intelligence, though she was anything but stupid.

“You ok?” I asked her, looking up at her as she towered over me, her tail unwinding from around my body. She nodded, and I patted her smooth scales, then she turned to stow her weapon on a rack as a few other soldiers disembarked from the dropship. They were clad in their heavy armor and carrying the newly refined plasma weapons the techies had been so proud of. Looked like there was only one wounded, a good result. It was nerve wracking for me when Vi left on missions, she was far more frequently needed than I was due to her superior strength and speed, but if we didn’t drive the ADVENT off Earth the result would be as good as a bullet to the head anyway. There were risks, but we had to take them if we wanted a chance to live as free beings. I had done my share of sorties, but I was deployed infrequently and usually only on non-critical missions. Unlike many of the top brass I had not been a soldier during the initial war against the invading aliens, and I was a recent addition to the crew, my combat skills were still rather unpolished despite the time I had spent at the range trying to hone them. Sometimes I suspected they only kept me around because me and Vi came as an inseparable package, but that was fine too, as long as we were safe.

While XCOM’s Avenger was the brain of the resistance movement, the body of it was scattered around the world in camps and compounds that were far easier to detect and far more difficult to defend. I would do whatever it took to keep us here in relative safety after having witnessed an assault on one such compound with my own eyes, the attacking alien forces being driven off only through Vi’s valiant efforts.

The returning soldiers were met with praise and hearty pats to their armored backs as they removed their gear, stowing their rifles on weapon racks and disconnecting their heavy plating in sections with the help of engineers who hovered nearby. A lumbering SPARK trotted down the ramp, the massive robot jerking oddly as it walked, its weight making the deck vibrate as it shouldered its heavy cannon and made its way to engineering to seek out minor repairs.

Vi returned to me still wearing her armor, as she had no casual clothes and no uniform could be made that would fit her odd physiology. I had joked about having one of the engineers knit her a sweater, but she seemed perfectly happy to wear the black ADVENT armor on her torso, only removing it in private. Her lower body was that of a great winding snake, but her upper body was remarkably humanoid, at least until you got to the sinuous neck and the reptilian head that sat atop it.

“You hungry?”

Vi nodded, and so we started off towards the mess hall, the people in the rather cramped hallways of the Avenger stepping aside to let the massive Viper pass them. When we arrived I picked up a silver metal tray from a stack and piled it with whatever was available, creamed corn, processed meat, beans, one could not expect fine cuisine in wartime. Vi was able to eat meat, and preferred it rare. When she had stayed with me in my farmhouse she had eaten ADVENT rations exclusively, likely tailored to her biology and exact dietary requirements, but she had not become unhealthy on her current diet and seemed to have a fairly good idea of what she could and couldn’t digest.

She was too large to sit on any of the benches, and so she wound herself into a pile and I perched on one of her fat coils as we ate together. She consumed a considerable amount of calories considering her size and metabolism, but XCOM seemed to think it was worth the investment. I spooned some creamed corn into my mouth and chewed, it was passable enough, in this kind of environment hunger was the most effective seasoning available. Vi had been given a tray stacked with slabs of meat by the mess officer on duty, not quite raw but rare enough that some were red with bloody juices, their origin uncertain. It was common to hunt in the area directly surrounding the Avenger whenever it changed locations, as it must do frequently in order to avoid detection and deliver troops wherever they were most needed, so it had as much of a chance of being venison as antelope meat depending on where in the world they had most recently set down.

She took a slab of pink meat in her claws and raised it above her head, opening her jaws and dropping it into her mouth, swallowing it whole. Her muscles eased it down her long neck, and her tongue flicked the air contentedly. She didn’t have teeth besides the hypodermic fangs she used to inject her venom into her prey, and so she swallowed her food whole like a bird.

“Go steady, that’s probably all the rations you’re gonna get today,” I chided. She bounced me playfully on her tail, and huffed at me as I steadied my tray of food, her way of laughing. A soldier in his XCOM uniform carrying a tray slowed as he passed by us on his way to a bench, nodding to Vi in greeting.

“Nice job on the mission today, Snake Eyes.” She returned the nod, and the man continued on his way to set his tray down on a table a short distance across the room. These people were obsessed with nicknames and rarely referred to eachother by anything appropriate, the individual squads were somewhat cliquish. I had not earned a nickname yet, but the origin of Vi’s was obvious, and she stared down at me with her amber pupils. I spooned more creamed corn into my mouth, getting the impression she was smirking at me in her own alien way.

There was a sudden rumbling beneath my feet followed by a short sensation of motion before the ship’s inertial dampeners kicked in, the Avenger was lifting off, likely so that any ADVENT forces tracking the dropship on its way out of the combat zone would not be able to pinpoint our location. The ride was usually so smooth that even in flight it was sometimes easy to forget that you were tens of thousands of feet off the ground and traveling at hundreds of miles per hour.

We finished eating then made our way out of the mess hall and through the interior of the massive ship towards the barracks where most of the crew quarters were located. I still had not visited every room in the enormous vessel, many of which were full of debris and had not been cleared out in order to make use of them yet. The origin and nature of the ship was somewhat of a mystery to me, I had heard that it had been a cargo ship originally, that had been captured and refitted to serve as a mobile base, but everywhere you went there was strange alien technology jutting from the walls and ceiling. We arrived at the door to our designated quarters, lined up along the wall with dozens of others. Although conditions inside the ship were cramped, fortunately there was some measure of privacy to be had, as each room was a self-contained unit with a bed, a simple bathroom and a door. I stepped inside and Vi followed after me, piling her coils into the room and bringing to mind images of ice cream being forced from the nozzle of a soft-serve machine. She was almost too large, but we both found the proximity quite enjoyable, as it gave me no choice but to sleep nestled in her winding tail. It wasn’t especially late yet, but you learned to get all the sleep you could whenever you had the time, it was impossible to say when an emergency might occur or a mission would require you to be awake for forty eight hours without rest.

Vi undid the clasps that held her chest armor in place, shrugging off the black plates and letting them fall heavily to the floor. It was designed to fend off laser and plasma fire, and so I doubted a short fall would do any damage to it.

She had an oddly voluptuous figure despite her reptilian nature, wide hips that tapered into her long tail where the legs would be on a human, with a white underbelly of fine overlapping scales that was soft and spongy to the touch. Her breasts hung attractively now, free of their constraints, heavy and unsupported as they bounced gently with her movements. No matter how many times I saw them, they always captivated me. Something about their impressive size, larger than my own head, or maybe it was the way the soft fat seemed to melt beneath my fingers. Vi placed her hands on her wide hips, cocking her head at me and flicking her long tongue.

“I know, I know, it’s bed time.”

She huffed, and lowered her body to my height, gliding towards me on her powerful tail and winding around me as if I were some hapless prey animal. Her smooth coils enclosed me, compressing me in her equivalent of a hug and trapping my arms against my sides. She was willful, not that I complained, she liked to set the pace and I was ever happy to follow.

I blushed as she cradled my face in her hands, the heat from my cheeks warming her cool, scaly palms. Only the larger dorsal scales that ran down the back of her tail could really be described that way, as the fine scales on the rest of her body were so delicate and smooth as to be mistaken for skin. She leaned in and pressed her puffy, oversized lips against mine, and I melted into her embrace as I felt the familiar sensation of her oversized tongue pushing into my mouth. Her probing kiss seemed to sap my strength, and my muscles relaxed to rest against her soft, inviting body. She tasted of copper, her long organ exploring my head and wrestling with my comparatively tiny tongue. She teased my inner cheeks and the roof of my mouth, slipping down to glance my throat and tightening her coils as if to say ‘keep still’ as she roved.

When she finally broke away, a clear string of her saliva hung from my chin as her muscle retreated back into her mouth, Vi looking down at me with what I knew to be a covetous expression.

“Ok, maybe not bed time just yet,” I gasped, trying to catch my breath after the prolonged kiss. Satisfied that I was primed she used her long body to carry me over to the bed, dropping me unceremoniously on the mattress and looming over me with her fleshy hood flared, a sign of an imminent attack that I would never think of trying to avoid.

She struck with shocking speed, bringing her massive head down towards my vulnerable neck, the tips of her long fangs unsheathing. She pricked my neck with them, not enough to really hurt, but just enough to tell me who was running the show. My back arched off the bed as I felt her puffy lips mouthe and plant sucking kisses that left red marks, her sinuous tongue leaving her mouth to drag wetly across my skin. I raised my hands to her face, caressing her scaly cheeks and slipping my fingers under her fleshy hood. She writhed and crooned as I traced the lip of it with my digits, teasing her, then I slipped my hands inside and stroked the smooth, spongy surface. Her hood was her weak spot, incredibly sensitive, and whenever I played with it her long body undulated and writhed in response.

She pulled my hands away and pinned me to the bed playfully, her considerable weight pressing me down into the thin mattress, closing her clawed fingers around my wrists. She brought her head down on her long neck and kissed me again, this one more invasive and lascivious than the last, my toes curling as her tongue wormed its way into my mouth. Her long, slippery organ coiled inside my head, squirming and tasting me, filling my cheeks as my growing erection pressed against her belly as she rested on top of me.

Moving with more strength and speed than my eyes could even track, she broke away suddenly, my lips lingering on her smooth tongue as it left my mouth. In a flurry of motion, I found myself propped upright, perched on her ‘lap’ where her torso tapered into her thick tail. Her heavy, inviting breasts pressed against the back of my head, and she pulled me closer, wrapping her arms around my chest and nestling me in her ample cleavage. The doughy fat deformed to encompass my head, the delicate, skin-like material that made up her underbelly cushioning me. She pinned my arms behind my back with the tip of her dexterous tail wrapped around my wrists, and I felt her long, alien fingers fumbling with my clothes. She undid my belt buckle and pulled my pants down, discarding them and squeezing my aching member through my underwear. I felt her lips tug at my ear, gumming with her toothless maw, the soft and wet sensation making me wriggle in her lap. She squeezed me again, feeling my member throb beneath the thin fabric, and tightened her hold on my wrists. She hooked one of her claws beneath the waistband and pulled my briefs free, letting my erection jump free to bob gently in the air as it pulsed and twitched, a bead of precum already welling at the tip. She smeared it with her fingertip, making small circles on my exposed glans, huffing at my pained expression.

Sex with Vi was never straightforward, she always had some cruel game to play like a cat that had caught some hapless mouse and wanted to get the most out of it before she ate it up, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I gasped as she wrapped her cool fingers around my shaft, taking a moment to savor its warmth in her cold-blooded palm, then started to stroke up and down. Her pace was slow and cruel, her head level with mine, pivoting on her agile neck so that we were face to face as she drank in my flushed cheeks and my fluttering eyelids. She was so long and flexible, a contortionist would not have been capable of such feats, Vi’s serpentine body was almost entirely made from muscle.

I pushed my head back into her bust, trying to hide my face in her supple breasts, but her amber eyes stared at me, piercing and intense. Her second hand crept down between my thighs and cradled my balls, squeezing gently as the rhythm of her milking handjob increased in speed.

I bucked into her hand reflexively, my body seeking out more stimulation, but I felt another fat coil of her long tail wrap my waist to keep me still. She brought her puffy lips to my throat, kissing softly, tracing the line of my jugular with her tongue as I writhed in futility. She had me completely bound, and I flinched, my member throbbing in her hand and a pleasurable chill running down my spine as she bit my neck softly with the tips of her venomous fangs. I was at her mercy, and she wanted me to know as much, smirking in her alien way as I panted and strained against her.

To Vi life was a war, she treated every aspect of it like a military engagement, giving no quarter when she had a goal to accomplish. Maybe it was the way ADVENT had trained her, or maybe it was just how her people saw the world. Love especially was a battle in her eyes, a fight with a winner and a loser, the conquered party being subjected to the will of the victor.

She nuzzled and mouthed my neck, my breathing becoming more labored and ragged as her jerking continued, her agile fingers bringing me closer and closer to the edge. She seemed to notice that I was getting near, and pinched the base of my member between her thumb and forefinger.

My cry of frustration was silenced by her rubbery tongue as it filled my mouth, her oversized lips locking with my own and drowning me in another lurid embrace as she stroked my shaft apologetically. ‘Sorry, but I’m not done with you yet, ‘ her body language seemed to say, one of her hands rising to caress my red cheek. She let me calm down for a moment, pressing her heavy boobs around my head with her upper arms like fat pillows and slipping her claws under my shirt to tease my chest and belly, drawing red welts in my skin.

When she was satisfied that I wasn’t about to pop, she tightened up suddenly, her tapered tail squeezing my wrists more firmly and the chubby coil that crossed my torso hardening like steel. Her arms wrapped my upper body, one hand closing gently around my neck, I was trapped in a cage of smooth scales and yielding fat. I watched her long neck snake down over my shoulder slowly, crawling down my body like an animal in its own right, pausing with her head hovering an inch away from my groin. She breathed warm air on the sensitive tip of my cock, tormenting me as it jumped and throbbed, as if it had a mind of its own and was trying to reach her inviting lips.

She held me completely immobile, encased in a prison of her own tail and limbs as I watched her obscenely lengthy tongue emerge from her mouth to paint my glans with her viscous saliva. I shivered as her smooth organ grazed my tender flesh, slippery and dripping with strings of her drool. She coiled it around my shaft, the organ long enough to wrap my entire penis like a coiled spring, and she began to move it up and down. Bolts of harsh pleasure sparked, pleasant shivers running up my spine as she licked and stroked, glazing my member with her slaver. It was so hot and slippery, and I yelped as I felt her fat lips press down to suck the head of my cock into her mouth. She gnawed gently with her fleshy gums, pressing me deeper and making me writhe as the pleasure overcame me. She drew me in using her tongue as an appendage, like some kind of tentacle, kissing the base of my member and taking the length of it into her throat.

Her smooth muscles milked and rippled as she held my member in her warm gullet, swallowing as if she were trying to eat it, massaging its length as her tongue roiled around it. The stimulation was intense. I tried to thrust and squirm free, but she held me tightly, her hand closing around my throat and her tail tightening around me. Escape was the last thing on my mind of course, but she liked a fight, it aroused her to have me struggle like prey.

She drew back, the slimy walls of her throat dragging down the length of my shaft as she paused with her lips closed around the glans, her tongue sneaking beneath the foreskin to scour the sensitive flesh it protected. I yelped as she slammed her head back down, forcing me all the way inside again, and she choked out my exclamation with a squeeze of her hand. I could feel moisture beneath my buttocks, the scales that hid her genital slit from view were open due to her arousal, the delicate pink lips of her vulva exposed and inflamed, leaking her excited juices. I smirked and strained against my bonds, reaching my fingers down towards her loins, and chuckled as a shiver rolled through her long body.

She stopped sucking for a moment and shot me a suspicious sideways glance with her yellow eyes, then loosened her grip on my wrists a little, letting me delve deeper. I pushed my fingers past her labia and into her twitching opening, the walls of her vagina closing around my invading fingers and compressing them almost painfully in greeting. She was so wet, the heat of her sopping hole rising up from beneath me, and she grunted in appreciation as I stroked her textured insides.

She resumed her intense blowjob, bobbing her massive head in my lap, her saliva leaking free to dampen my pubic hair and trickle down my thighs. Her tongue tightened like a noose, scouring my member with its soft surface, and in revenge I drove my fingertips into the walls of her spasming tunnel. Again a shiver washed over her body, and she gripped my throat more earnestly, giving me a harsher squeeze with her long fingers this time that cut off my breath for a few lingering seconds.

It occurred to me what a bizarre position we were in, with me sitting in her lap cradled in her bosom, her head in my groin as her long neck wound over my shoulder, and my fingers probing her sex beneath me. My thoughts were shattered like glass as Vi twisted her head on my cock, the stimulation making stars dance before my eyes. I found her large clitoris with my fingers, coating its firm surface in her thick juices and beginning to rub it in slow, teasing circles. This odd position was starting to cramp my hands, it was hard to push my fingers into her tunnel and play with her protrusion at the same time, but she certainly appreciated it. The worm-like squirming of her tongue was becoming more erratic and her head movements were growing clumsier.

I felt my orgasm begin to rise again, my member throbbing and pulsing in her inviting mouth as she gnawed and sucked, as if trying to draw out my emission herself. I winced and rolled my hips as she took it to the base, her tongue sliding beneath it and passing her lips to taste my balls.

“Fuck, Vi,” I groaned, the thrusting of my hips restrained by the fat coil of her tail. She huffed, the vibrations tickling my member in her throat, and then she squeezed my neck again. She applied an incredible suction and pressure to my cock, her tongue a whirlwind of stimulation as it ran up and down my shaft, clearly I was allowed to finish now. With one hand closed firmly around my throat and the other pulling me against her torso, she eased out my orgasm.

I came into her eager throat, her muscles rippling around it and drinking down the thick spurts as they came, practically milking me dry as my brain fizzed and sparked from the unbearably powerful climax. She choked me, cutting off my air supply with her firm hand, only increasing my pleasure as I gasped breathlessly. Again and again my pelvic muscles cramped and spasmed, forcing out ropes of my emission to splatter the back of her gullet, Vi sucking eagerly and drawing more out. It felt like someone was pulling a damned rope out of me through my twitching member, it just kept coming, this was the first alone time we had gotten in a couple of days and I must have been backed up.

My body fought against Vi as she swallowed my load, lapping at the tip of my cock with her gentle tongue, watching my red face as I bucked and tried to suck air into my lungs. Just as the corners of my vision started to darken, she released me, leaning back so that I was prone against her soft body. I rested my head between her breasts, each the size of a damned basketball, and caught my breath as she crooned and ran her fingers through my messy hair.

She let me rest for a while, then coiled her powerful tail around me and lifted me, turning me over to face her and placing me with my face level to her genital slit. No communication was necessary, no seduction or bargaining, she simply put me where she wanted me to be. The spongy, horizontal bands of her white belly parted to reveal her pink labia, exposed and dripping due to her arousal. The heat from her loins radiated forth, I could feel it on my cheeks, and her familiar musky scent rose to my nose. I splayed her fleshy lips with my fingers, exposing the winking opening that they concealed, and she crooned expectantly as she looked down at me. I straddled her thick tail, my renewed erection pressing into her soft underbelly, and brought my mouth down to kiss her vulva. She shivered as our lips met, and I pushed my tongue past them to graze the slippery, rosy flesh beneath. She brought one of her hands down, sinking her fingers into my hair and tugging gently to encourage me. Vipers were hairless, and so mine seemed to be a source of perpetual curiosity and amusement to her, whether she liked the texture of it or just enjoyed my reaction to her petting I couldn’t say.

I mouthed and licked obediently, tasting the metallic tang of her flowing juices on my tongue as I teased her. I found her clitoris, hard and engorged, and sucked it from beneath its protective hood. I trapped the protrusion between my lips and sucked, drawing it in and painting it with the tip of my tongue. She wriggled and squirmed beneath me, her lids drooping as she drew her head closer to watch me work, peering at me with her amber eyes.

I slipped a finger into her twitching hole, her excitement lubricating my digit to the point that it was almost frictionless, and I felt her powerful pelvic floor muscles contract around it like a Chinese finger trap. Despite her size she was tighter than a human, seeming to have minute control over the muscles that lined her tunnel. Her vagina sucked at me, undulating in waves as if to draw my finger deeper, and I increased the pace of my licking. I drew shapes on the bud of firm flesh, circling it and dragging my warm tongue across its shiny surface. She huffed and grunted, the vocalizations of a contented Viper, and her grip on my hair grew tighter. She rolled her wide hips as I wrapped my arms around them for purchase, the bulge of her hourglass figure large enough that my fingers could not meet on the other side. I sunk my hands into the springy flesh of her ass, or at least where an ass would have been on a human woman. She seemed to have muscle analogous to a butt and even thighs, hidden beneath the surface of her smooth scales and supple fat layer, but I couldn’t be sure what structural purpose they served. I knew it felt good to squeeze them though. I kneaded her backside, feeling my fingers sink below her delicate fat to meet the steely muscle that flexed and bulged underneath it, gripping cruel handfuls as I pressed my face against her groin.

She was really wriggling now, I felt almost as if I were trying to hold on to a mechanical bull as her tail writhed between my legs. I pushed my finger deeper, curling it to stimulate the sensitive walls of her canal. She growled appreciatively, rubbing herself on my face with a firm hand on the back of my head, thrusting reflexively as her grool dripped down my chin.

She closed her long fingers around my wrist and pulled my hand away, bringing her large head down on its long, sinewy neck to hover with her lips an inch away from her own loins. I knew what she wanted, this was her favorite way to get off. I leaned aside to give her access, careful to keep her clitoris between my lips, and she rubbed her massive head against my cheek in a show of affection before plunging her long tongue into her own tunnel. The pink organ wormed its way inside like a snake in its own right, coiling and writhing, Vi shuddering under the combined stimulation. Her nectar and her thick saliva mixed into an obscene concoction that leaked down her body and around her mouth.

She fucked herself with her muscular tongue as I played my lips over her bud and pinched it between them, her involuntary humping increasing in pace as she neared the edge. She came suddenly and violently, her long body curling like a worm that had been stepped on, writhing and tensing as her tongue roiled inside her. I kept up my licking and mouthing, easing out every last pulse of orgasm that tore through her long body. Her abdominal muscles flexed and cramped above my head, and a torrent of her honey spilled down her ‘thighs’ as she withdrew her organ, linked to her splayed labia with a stringy mess of fluid. Without hesitating she took a fistful of my hair, pulling my head back sharply and slamming her tongue into my mouth. A heavy rope of her mess dripped from my chin as she forced her slimy embrace on me, her organ roving and winding, impossibly long and dripping with her warm fluids. She filled my head with it, the act was downright profane but I was too aroused to care. Her wet, messy kiss dragged on as a few stray aftershocks rippled through her muscles, her tail creeping up to wrap me in a stack of her fat coils as she shivered and her tongue wrestled with mine.

She drew away from me with a wet pop, watching me cough with a sly smirk on her face, scraping juice from my chin with a bony finger.

“You’re impossible,” I complained half-heartedly, but my burning cheeks gave me away. She angled her body so that I could lie down on it, propping up my head with one of her chubby rolls, the flesh soft like a pillow. She wrapped me like a blanket, and lay her torso next to my own with her bust beside my face, her heavy head resting atop the pile as she closed her eyes. Seemed we were going to sleep then, it was a good idea, you never knew when something might happen.

Chapter 2: Landfall

I dreamed I was falling, fluffy clouds whipping past me against an azure sky as my stomach turned. The ground below was a patchwork of forest and farmland, and in the center was a house. As I plummeted towards the ground it came into focus, it was a farmhouse, my farmhouse. I could see the main building, the barn, the long empty grain silo a short distance away. I realized I wasn’t slowing, and as the ground rushed up to meet me I saw a figure standing in the doorway, it was … me? The figure looked up at me, calm and expressionless as I slammed into the dirt.

I awoke with a start, opening my eyes to find myself in Vi’s arms. There was no gravity, I could feel myself floating in the air, the only thing keeping me anchored was Vi who had practically filled the small room with her coils and was bracing herself against the walls.

“What … what’s going on?”

Vi hissed unhappily, she didn’t know. Had we somehow gone into space? No, that couldn’t be it. I looked around the room and realized the lights were off, only red warning lighting illuminated the space now, casting everything in an eerie crimson glow. Oh God, had we lost power in mid-air? Were we falling? I tried to breathe and struggled to keep myself from panicking, what could we do about this? We couldn’t fight back against gravity, it wasn’t some invading enemy. This ship was huge and if the power didn’t come back online before we hit the ground, we’d slam into the Earth like a meteorite, nobody would survive.

Suddenly there was a jolt, and Vi tensed, clutching me to her and preventing me from slamming into the floor as the ship’s engines whirred audibly and I felt us level out. The lights did not come back on, the warning lights still painted the room in a sinister shade of red as we looked to eachother with alarmed expressions.

There was a rumble underfoot as the Avenger touched down, that had been a short descent, how close had we come to cratering? Almost as soon as Vi had placed me gingerly on the metal deck, the vessel began to shake again. Booming pulses rocked us, vibrating the hull of the ship and deafening us, I looked at my arm and saw my hair standing on end as if I were awash in static electricity. What on Earth was going on?

“All hands, all hands,” a voice echoed over the intercom, it was the Commander. Finally, maybe he’d be able to tell us what the hell was going on. “We were shot down by an ADVENT craft and have made an emergency landing. The alien weapon disabled our engines temporarily, and they have deployed some kind of electromagnetic pylon to keep us powered down and on the ground. We are dead in the water, we need every soldier on hand to defend the ship and destroy that ADVENT weapon. We’re picking up heavy comm traffic, dozens of ADVENT transports are inbound on our position, and they’ve got battleships in tow. We need to move fast, all hands report to battle stations.”

We scrambled to get our gear back on as the message repeated, Vi attaching her metal chest piece, and me trying to pull my uniform on as I stepped around her tail. There was no time for a shower, we had to get to the hangar bay fast and retrieve our weapons. Vi blew through the door ahead of me, winding down the corridor, and I followed behind her with my head still trapped in my sweater. Other soldiers who had been on leave and were trying to get some shut eye were crowding the narrow halls too, bustling and rubbing shoulders as they all rushed to their stations.

The crowd made its way to the hangar, which was also packed with soldiers and a handful of SPARKs, the hulking combat robots standing twice the height of the human personnel. There was sunlight in the hangar bay, and it took me a moment to realize that the massive cargo ramp at the back of the ship had been lowered, fresh air and the sounds of birds flooded the sterile interior. I had never seen that door open before, most of the time I forget it was even there. There was a flurry of activity around the weapons racks as people scrambled for guns and ammo, taking position around the door as a Colonel in combat armor was raised into the air by a SPARK to stand on its shoulder. The room went quiet as a few dozen heads turned in his direction.

“You all heard the announcement,” he bellowed, his voice taking on a synthetic timbre through his helmet speakers. “We’re grounded until we can destroy the weapon that is sending out these pulses and keeping the engines offline.” As if on cue another wave of static washed over me, followed by what sounded almost like a sonic boom. “I’m sending out a team to locate and disable it, as for the rest of you, not one alien sets foot on this ship. Is that understood?”

There was a chorus of affirmations as the soldiers shouted their agreement and thrust their fists into the air.

“Present company excluded,” the Colonel added, nodding towards Vi. There was an echo of laughter and she received a few affectionate pats on her scaly rump. “Tombstone, Spitfire, Twitch, Dozer, Bonzai and Snake Eyes, you’re up! The rest of you, hold this door, the future of the rebellion depends on it!”

I stood at the bottom of the massive ramp, the bulk of the Avenger blocking out the sun behind me and casting a dark shadow on the ground. Around me stood a dozen soldiers, some rookies like me, others higher ranked officers sporting all manner of exotic weaponry and equipment. I gripped my standard issue assault rifle in my hands, it only fired conventional ammunition but it was better than harsh words. The area we had touched down in was oddly serene, it was a sunny day with an almost cloudless sky, and a cool wind rustled the grass and trees as birds chirped overhead. It was nice to be out of the claustrophobic confines of the ship, at least for a while, even if an entire ADVENT fleet was bearing down upon us.

The illusion of serenity was broken as another pulse of electromagnetic energy blew through the branches of the trees, sending the birds scrambling, screeching their displeasure. Vi and her team had gone ahead, they were out there somewhere, hunting down the device that was sending out these waves. It pained me to be waiting back here with the rear guard, but defending the ship was just as important. If we were boarded then there wouldn’t be anything for the away team to come back to.

The waiting was starting to get to me, and the soldiers around me seemed to echo the sentiment, switching their weight from foot to foot nervously and examining their weapons as if something might have changed since the last time they checked. The sounds of gunfire echoed through the trees, the away team had encountered resistance, probably ADVENT troops guarding the objective. The soldiers at my sides bristled and took up defensive positions around a low wall that had been erected for cover at the base of the ramp.

As if on cue the screaming of troop transports drowned out the sound of plasma fire, and three dropships painted in the red and black colors of the aliens came into view. They swung low, trying to stay out of our line of fire behind the treeline and rocky terrain, they had finally zeroed in on our position.

“Incoming, hold your fire until I give the signal,” the Colonel barked over the radio with a hiss of static. The damned electromagnetic interference was messing with the headsets. I steadied my rifle, trying to take deep breaths and calm the shaking in my hands. Adrenaline coursed through my veins, it was that more than the fear that gave me the shakes, I had been on missions before. I strained my eyes, scanning the treeline, trying to stay in cover behind the wall as my finger hovered over the trigger. I could hear the servos of the SPARKs whir as they turned towards the sound of the troop carriers, shouldering their great cannons and preparing to unleash a storm of bullets and missiles over our heads.

The blowback from the dropship engines shook the branches of the trees, giving the false impression of movement and making it harder to focus on the dark spaces between the trunks, where the enemy would soon be emerging. More waiting, always waiting. Whether it was languishing in the iron belly of the Avenger between sorties or hiding behind the cover of a burned out car, awaiting fire from a shooter you knew was present but could not see, the military life was one percent brutal combat and ninety nine percent nerve-wracking waiting.

Between the gnarled trunks of the trees, yellow and green lights emerged, bobbing as if they were marching forward. Before the Colonel could give the order to fire on the lurking shapes, bright green bolts of searing plasma hurtled at us from the treeline, splashing against the low wall and the hull of the Avenger behind us. I lowered my head in panic, just in time to feel the intense heat of a stream of glowing plasma sear my hair, missing me by an inch. I could already hear the bark of the heavy cannons that the SPARKs wielded as they returned fire, hot brass raining on the ground beneath their feet with a metallic clink. The Colonel was shouting something into the radio, but I couldn’t focus on his voice, the air was aflame with plasma and the shouting of angry and alarmed men.

I braced myself, finding the courage to peek over the wall just high enough that I could return fire, bracing my rifle on it for support as I unloaded at the forest. I couldn’t really see what I firing at, I could barely make out the dark shapes as they tried to take cover behind the thick trunks, illuminated briefly by the green flare of their return fire. I recognized the breathing mask and the silhouette of the armor, Mutons!

The whole formation of soldiers was firing in unison now, suppressing them as the red lances of lasers and the emerald flare of our own homemade plasma weapons seared the trees, starting small fires as the wood ignited under the intense heat and splintering the bark. A dark shape emerged from cover, smashing the trees in its path as if they were toothpicks and barreling towards our line, weathering the shots that hit it as if its pink skin was made of steel. A Berserker, near twice the size of its Muton counterparts, covered in hardened skin that acted as ballistic armor and pumped full of steroids to enrage the already ferocious beast. It hurtled at us, powerful muscles rippling under its pale skin, several soldiers turned their weapons on it as it closed the distance across the grass but to no avail.

One of the SPARKs lurched forward, driven by some unheard command, and vaulted over the defensive wall to charge towards the creature. The Berserker altered its course to intersect with the SPARK, and the two slammed into eachother with a force like a speeding truck hitting a brick wall. The alien roared in rage, hammering the robot’s chassis with a flurry of vicious punches, I could hear the impact as they battered the SPARK’s chassis. It stumbled under the blows, but dug its mechanical feet into the soil and grappled with the Berserker, its pistons hissing as it tried to angle its cannon towards its opponent.

As they fought, the Mutons began to emerge from the treeline, laying covering fire as they sprinted out of the shadows. There were seven or eight of them, trying to close so that they could use the wicked chain bayonets on their plasma rifles, the tribal tattoos that decorated their hide visible where their skin showed through their armor.

Two were cut down by well placed shots, but their plasma fire forced us to take cover, and I sat with my back to the wall as I tried to slam another magazine into my rifle. We took a casualty, a soldier to the left of me was hit in the chest by a bolt of energy and thrown off his feet with a flash of green light and acrid smoke, his chest armor melting under the heat. A medic ducked and scrambled towards him, taking him by the collar and pulling his limb body back towards the ramp. Another SPARK stepped forward, drawing fire from the Mutons and responding with a chatter of heavy shells. The explosive ammo knocked one of the aliens of its feet, and half a dozen other soldiers peppered it with shots, its orange blood spilling from smoking holes and its armor smoldering as it absorbed energy rounds.

Another Muton was dropped by a precise shot from what sounded like a sniper rifle. I looked up, trying to figure out where the sound had come from, and noticed a figure perched high up on the hull of the Avenger. It was a sniper wearing a spider suit, armor that allowed him to grapple up to elevated positions. I turned around and raised my rifle over the wall again, bracing it against my shoulder and laying down suppressing fire. My weapon probably wouldn’t penetrate their armor unless I got lucky, but it was enough to piss them off. The aliens were disoriented now, their resolve broke, and they started to scatter. The SPARK won its bout with the Berserker, knocking the beast to the dirt and unloaded its cannon at point blank range, splattering itself with gore. The fleeing Mutons were dispatched easily with heavy weapons fire as they fled.

There was a cheer of victory from the men, but that couldn’t have been everything. The Elders weren’t stupid and this was a high stakes fight, they would have sent more than just a few Mutons. Another wave of energy washed over us, followed by a loud boom, the away team was still fighting? What if they needed help? Could they even communicate with the Commander through all of this interference?

There was a deafening explosion, and I snapped my head around to see the SPARK that had killed the Berserker falling in a heap, one of its legs blown off as a cloud of soil rained around it. Two more shells hit nearby, kicking up dirt as they exploded and tore the robot apart, scattering its mechanical guts. Two ADVENT mechs were advancing on us, one of them stowing its smoking, shoulder-mounted mortar launcher. They were supported by a fireteam of deceptively humanoid ADVENT troopers scurrying behind them, an officer in red armor giving commands and gesturing as they advanced in our direction.

“Spread out, get out of range of that mortar!” The Colonel waved his hands at us, and I realized that we were all grouped around the cargo ramp. I ducked and ran, not waiting for further instructions, diving behind a boulder a short distance away and skidding on my ass as I came to a stop. I struggled to my feet and leaned around the rock, loosing a few imprecise shots at the alien squad, not hitting any of them but giving them something to worry about. I could see the mech readying its mortar and preparing to fire again, the XCOM soldiers fanning out and trying to get clear. The sniper who was perched on top of the Avenger fired again, downing a trooper, and the rest of them ducked behind their mechs for cover.

A cluster of shells landed where I had been stood a few moments ago, knocking stragglers off their feet and obscuring the ramp in a cloud of smoke and debris. I saw the flash of return fire, some of the more seasoned soldiers were flanking to the left, using the rocks as cover to put pressure on the ADVENT troopers. The two remaining SPARKs, one with its arm hanging limply as it dangled from pneumatic cables, vaulted over the wall and made a beeline for the enemy squad across the field that separated us. The firefight was really raging now, exchanges of laser and plasma fire flew in both directions, and my stomach turned as I saw more Mutons coming in from the treeline on the right. They were going to overwhelm us if the away team didn’t bring down the alien weapon soon, we couldn’t hold out forever. Worse, if those battleships arrived they would turn the entire area into a crater.

Another blast of static washed over me, making my hair stand on end and filling my headset with buzzing static. There had to be some kind of problem, the weapon should have been disabled by now. I looked around, trying to get my bearings and evaluate the situation, peering through the smoke that drifted across the grass. A few XCOM soldiers were advancing behind the two remaining SPARKs and using them as cover to lay down suppressing fire on the ADVENT troopers, who were hurriedly communicating, directing their mechs to shell the ramp and keep the defensive line from reforming. From the cover of the trees to the right of me, the reinforcing Muton squad began to fire, their plasma catching the advancing soldiers off guard. I couldn’t see the Colonel, and I couldn’t hear anything through the radio distortion.

If Vi was in trouble she wouldn’t be able to call for help, and we couldn’t hold out much longer, I could hear the scream of more ADVENT troop transports in the distance. I shouted to the three closest soldiers, taking cover behind some rocks a few meters away from me. They could barely hear me over the sound of the battle, but one turned his head, then patted his neighbor on the shoulder. I gestured for them to come to me, waving my hand. They had no reason to do as I said, they seemed to be rookies like me clad in what amounted to surplus armor and equipped with weapons that would barely scratch anything tougher than a Sectoid, but I seemed to be the only one taking initiative. They ducked and dashed towards me, heads low to avoid the bolts of green energy that glanced over them. They threw themselves behind my rock, hunkering down and catching their breath.

“We gotta push,” I shouted over the gunfire. “The static from the objective is scrambling the comms, the away team should have reported in by now!”

“What’s your plan,” the rookie beside me asked, straightening his helmet and looking up at me expectantly. The other two waited for my reply, and I realized that I had just been unofficially declared squad leader.

“We’re gonna go right, through the trees, flush those Mutons out and drive them into the open.”

“But what can we do against Mutons,” the soldier asked, squinting at me skeptically. “Our rifles won’t penetrate their armor!”

I patted my ballistic vest, feeling around for my ammo pouches. My fingers closed around a metal sphere, and I drew my grenade, brandishing it so that the rookies could see it.

“You still have your grenades? These will shred their armor, flush them out into the field where they’ll be sitting ducks, if we coordinate we can surprise them.”

“It’ll never work,” one of them declared, clutching his assault rifle to his chest as he sat with his back against the boulder. “If they see us first they’ll tear through us with those plasma rifles, in case you hadn’t noticed we aren’t wearing W.A.R suits!”

His friend gave him a shove, scowling at him as he reloaded his weapon.

“So what, you just gonna sit here and watch everyone die, Garcia? Get your ass up.” The man rose reluctantly and shouldered his rifle. I looked back to the left to see if I could get any more support, but another hail of mortars rained down and kicked up a fresh cloud of smoke. Nobody would be able to see or hear us through this, either we stopped those Mutons or they would flank and catch everyone else with their pants down. I breathed deeply, trying to calm myself, then waved my new squad forward. They followed behind me as circled to the right, using the rocks for cover and trying to avoid being seen by the pack of Mutons who lurked between the trees. They seemed more concerned with firing randomly into the smoke, keeping the XCOM soldiers who were still trying to guard the ramp pinned. We reached the edge of the forest unmolested, slipping between the trees with our weapons at the ready. The sounds of battle were muffled a little, and we could hear eachother a little easier now.

“Grenades at the ready,” I whispered, “throw them on my command, short fuse. Remember, we’re not trying to kill them, we just need to push them out of the treeline.”

We crept through the undergrowth, our boots crunching in piles of fallen leaves and snapping twigs. Every sound seemed to be amplified a hundred-fold, I was almost afraid to breathe lest I somehow give us away. My heart jumped as my headset hissed to life, a garbled transmission coming through in pieces.

“Squad … right of the … support from … into the open … clear … of sight.” I tapped my earpiece in frustration.

“What was that? Didn’t copy, repeat!”

“You … into the field, so I … up here.” Damn it, I could barely make out a word, but it seemed as if someone knew we were here, were they offering fire support? It was hard to tell, but it was the only assumption I could make.

“I think I copy,” I replied, “give us what support you can.”

As we made our way through the brush using the trees as cover, bursts of green light came into view, the muzzle flash from the plasma weapons the Mutons carried. I hoped to God I wasn’t making a mistake, their chainsaw bayonets would make mincemeat of us if we couldn’t drive them out of the woods. They had taken up position where the forest ended, hidden between the trees as they popped off shots, but from this angle the shadowy canopy did little to obscure their armored bulks. I gestured for the team to move forward, and we crept closer, readying grenades. We got behind them, placing them directly between us and the edge of the forest, if they were going to flee from us it would send them out into the open.

Someone stood on a fallen branch, the wood cracking audibly, and one of the aliens turned its masked face in our direction. Its yellow eyes widened and it swung its plasma rifle towards us. We primed our grenades and threw them without hesitation, darting behind trees for what little cover they might provide. There was a quartet of explosions that shook the trees, raining leaves and debris on us, kicking up a cloud of dirt and sending the Mutons reeling. I chanced a glance from behind my now shrapnel-scarred tree trunk, seeing one Muton lying limp on the ground, and the others scrambling for cover.

“Don’t let them entrench,” I shouted, “drive them out!”

I braced my assault rifle against my shoulder and walked towards the fleeing aliens, firing controlled bursts at anything I could see. The chatter of my weapon was joined by three more, and we advanced together, peppering the enemy with rounds. We felled another, a lucky shot must have gotten through a joint in its armor, and the others left the protection of the trees. One dropped immediately, falling to the floor like a sack of bricks, and after a short delay the thunder crack of a high powered rifle rang out. The sniper in the spider suit! He must has seen us trying to flank, and had tried to communicate his support over the radio. The last remaining alien swung his rifle around, unable to work out where the fire was coming from, then he crashed to the grass in kind with most of his head blow away in a mess of orange ichor and gore.

Garcia pumped his fist and cheered, apparently emboldened.

“Good job, but we’re not done, let’s keep moving and support the away team.” I waved them forward and started to move.

“What? But they’re an elite squad, we couldn’t possibly help them,” one of the soldiers standing behind me said. “If they can’t handle it, what can we do?”

“We just routed a squad of Mutons on our own, and we may be the only ones who can try. If that ADVENT weapon isn’t disabled before the battleships arrive, they’ll shell the Avenger with ship to ship ordnance and everyone will die.”

The soldiers looked to eachother for support, and Garcia drummed his gloved fingers on the butt of his rifle nervously.

“Fuck it,” he said, “I didn’t have any plans for tonight anyway.”

We moved between the trees, trying to stay hidden as the sounds of gunfire behind us faded. I knew the objective was somewhere in this direction, there was no way we could miss something that was giving off such loud pulses, and I expected to meet resistance before then.

Where was Vi, why had the weapon not been disabled yet? I couldn’t bring myself to imagine that she might have been injured or killed, and what if my judgment was impaired, was I leading these men to their deaths for my own selfish purposes? No, shutting down the electromagnetic weapon was paramount, saving Vi was a secondary concern. Still, I could not stave off the sinking feeling in my stomach as we marched under the cover of the forest canopy.

“Wait,” Garcia whispered, holding up a clenched fist and gesturing for us to stop as he scouted a short distance ahead. “Do you hear that?”

I strained my ears, listening intently. There was gunfire behind us, the battle to defend the Avenger’s ramp was still raging, and the sound of dropship engines as the aliens brought in reinforcements echoed overhead. Not much else besides the rustling of leaves and the chirping of the braver birds. Then I heard it, weapons fire distinct from the carnage behind us, directly ahead.

“That has to be the away team, move!” I shouted, and we started to jog towards the sounds. We neared a clearing in the trees and slowed, raising our weapons and advancing more cautiously. The clearing seemed unnatural, almost as if the trees had been blown apart by some kind of impact. I glimpsed flashes of light ahead, and the clear sound of a firefight reached my ears. As we approached, another sonic blast washed over us, shaking dead leaves from the branches above us and filling our headsets with hissing interference.

I crouched behind a splintered tree stump and rested my rifle on it, peering down the scope, the rookies taking up positions around me. There it was, like a giant spike that been shot down into the ground, leaving a huge crater. The impact must have flattened all the trees around it, it must have been fired like a missile by the interceptor that had brought down the Avenger. As I watched it loosed another glowing burst of energy, crackling with static electricity that arced towards the ground.

There were half a dozen dead Mutons littering the ground around the spire, and with a knot in my stomach I picked out three XCOM soldiers among them, lying face down in the dirt. A massive beast lumbered over the bodies, its heavy boots driving them into the mud. I had never seen anything like it before, it looked almost like an old nineteenth century diving suit, but with a glowing green visor behind which I could see the blurred figure of its alien occupant. It was covered in armor and exotic machinery, was it some kind of armored life support suit? It trudged forward as it fired a plasma cannon at what must have been the wreckage of a Sectopod. Unbelievable, the away team had managed to down the massive walking tank? Its chassis was the size of a damned truck, and the long, spindly legs upon which it perched in order to rain down shots at its targets were snapped and broken.

Return fire was emerging from behind the smoldering wreck, glancing off the armor of the advancing alien in splashes of glowing plasma. The away team, they were using the chassis as cover, Vi must still be a alive! I tried to contain my excitement and evaluate the situation, my eyes scanning the trees for more ADVENT. It seemed that this alien power suit was the only enemy standing between us and the away team, and it had them pinned.

If their advanced weapons could not bring it down, how could we help them, poorly armed as we were? The alien was focused on the trapped team, and it’s back was to our squad. I examined the suit, and found what I assumed to be a weak point. On its back was a cluster of machinery, almost like a backpack, with a pump that could only be some kind of breathing apparatus. It rose and fell like an artificial lung, expelling noxious looking green gas.

“There, on its back,” I whispered, “aim for the pump on my mark…” We readied our weapons, and the squad waited for my signal with bated breath. Our bullets had no hope of piercing its thick armor, but maybe if we could disable that machinery it would suffocate or power down, worst case scenario we would distract it and allow the away team to deal some more substantial damage.

“Fire!” I shouted, and we let loose, peppering the thing’s back with bullets. I could hear the ping of ricochets, the rounds glancing off its heavy suit like they were made of rubber, but one of them hit its mark. I couldn’t tell who had landed the shot, but the glass canister on its back that contained the pump cracked, and a stream of green gas shot out as if it had been under intense pressure. The alien reeled in surprise, then turned its attention to us, spotting our squad hiding in the treeline and beginning to lurch towards our position. It raised its heavy cannon and fired some kind of grenade, which exploded in our midst, splashing us with green gunk. One of the soldiers was coated with the stuff, dousing his torso and helmet in what almost looked like fluorescent vomit. It immediately began to give off acrid smoke, and I realized it was melting his ceramic plate armor like a plastic toy held under the flame of a lighter. He began to scream, falling to his knees and holding out his arms as if pleading for help, not knowing what to do. Garcia had been splashed too, though only with a few drops, but it began to eat through the plating on his arm and he scrambled to unfasten it. Some of the stuff had spattered my knee pad, and I crouched to untie it, discarding it on the grass as a chemical stink invaded my nostrils.

My heart pounded in my chest, I felt dizzy, light-headed. The burning soldier’s wail grated at my mind but I diverted my eyes, there was nothing I could do for him right now, and the alien was coming towards us. I didn’t know whether the tree stump would shield me from these acid bombs but it was my only option, and I hunkered down as I fumbled for another magazine, struggling with my ammo belt as my hands shook.

Garcia was a machine, he stood erect in a fighting stance, his rifle shouldered as he landed precise shots on the thing’s visor. They weren’t penetrating though, that face plate couldn’t be made of glass, must be some kind of transparent polymer. The beast crashed through the broken trees, coming directly for us as I watched Garcia’s resolve waver. He lowered his weapon and shot me a glance, we needed to retreat while we still had the chance. I nodded, bracing myself to run, but then the impact of an explosion rung our ears.

I peeked over the stump to see smoke billowing from the alien’s back. It turned away from us, looking back towards the wreck of the Sectopod. One of the surviving members of the away team was perched on top of it, holstering a grenade launcher, its barrel leaking a trail of smoke. The alien fired at him, the shot straying wide, and the soldier hopped back into cover. There was a flash of movement as something sped out from behind the burning chassis, flanking left, almost too fast to make out. I glimpsed a familiar yellow and brown pattern, scales flashing under the light as the winding figure raced across the ground. No doubt, it was Vi.

She circled around the bulky alien faster than it’s suit could track her and hooked one of its legs with her powerful tail, throwing all of her considerable weight into pulling it out from under the beast. It struggled for balance, then toppled onto its face. Vi hissed like an agry cobra, flaring her hood in rage and unloading her plasma rifle into its back at point blank range. The complex machinery smoldered and melted, sinking into the chassis, until finally the face plate burst in a flood of green liquid and the alien pilot flopped limply to the ground. It crawled for a moment, its small body thin and disheveled, then appeared to collapse and lie still.

We cheered and ran to meet Vi, lowering our weapons and waving in greeting.

“Vi, you’re ok!”

She snapped her head around to look at me, an unfamiliar ferocity in her reptilian eyes. I faltered for a moment, confused.

“Vi, what’s wron-” Before I could finish my sentence, her long tail whipped out to slam into my belly, lifting me off the ground and throwing me backwards. I landed hard, the wind knocked out of my lungs by the blow, and rolled over onto my side trying to catch my breath. The rest of the team aimed their weapons at her, backing up, unsure of how to proceed. I wanted to tell them to hold their fire, that something must be wrong, but all I could do was wheeze as my empty lungs sucked at the air.

Vi hopped backwards, her weapon still trained on the alien suit. It shuddered, jerking unnaturally, then pushed itself off the ground to rise to its feet. The pilot lay discarded on the ground, but somehow the half ruined suit was moving under its own power, acidic fluid leaking from its melted visor. It stumbled towards Vi, raising its fist to throw a punch at her, but she was too fast and dodged under the blow. She slithered out of range as my squad opened up, and I struggled to my feet, training my rifle on the suit and trying to steady myself. Another grenade hit it, showering us with dirt.

“Too damned close!” Someone shouted, but I couldn’t tell who. I saw flashes of green light penetrate the cloud of smoke, someone in the away team had a rapid fire plasma cannon. They belted it with fire, Vi and my squad joining in, the danger of friendly fire forgotten as we tried to bring the thing down.

Finally the smoke cleared, the suit was still standing but it was leaning forward, its arms hanging lifelessly as sparks shot from its joints. It seemed to be disabled, but Vi approached it cautiously, her tongue flicking the air. She slammed her tail into its back, whipping it with an audible crack, and the empty shell fell forward to lie immobile in the dirt. She spat what might have been a curse, then turned her attention back to me.

She covered the distance between us in a second, and brought her large head down level with mine, rubbing her cheek against my face affectionately. My squad seemed to have forgiven her for her alarming behavior, and lowered their rifles. Garcia jogged over to where the soldier who had been splashed with acid had fallen, stepping around the puddle of still smoking liquid cautiously. He tried to lean close enough to check his pulse, but couldn’t reach, so he crouched and took his rifle by the barrel to poke him.

“I think he’s dead,” he called back to us, standing and shaking his head. “We can’t move him like this regardless.”

“Stand back,” one of the away team soldiers shouted, raising his grenade launcher and aiming it at the alien spire. We moved away, taking cover behind some trees as he fired, the apparently fragile emitter exploding in a shower of electric blue sparks and buckling. It fell to the ground, and I felt the hairs on my arms settle as the electromagnetic field dissipated. “We have to get back to the Avenger,” he continued, “the longer they have to wait for us the more people will die, get moving!”

“What about the bodies,” Garcia started, “we can’t just-”

“No time, move, now!”

He hesitated, then turned to jog into the forest, the remaining soldiers following behind him. Vi called me, chirping her alien name for me and gesturing that I should follow.

We jogged through the trees, my heart pounding in my ears and my breath ragged, the away team seemed to be having even more trouble in their heavy armor. Vi could have covered the ground in two minutes, but paced herself in order to slither beside me, her long body undulating as she wound between the tree trunks. I heard another dropship roar over our heads, flying low, the engine exhausts shaking the branches above us. Would there even be anything left when we arrived at the ramp? What if they had been overrun during our absence?

As we emerged from the forest near where the Avenger had set down, we were met with a scene of carnage. ADVENT mechs and troopers were piled around the defensive wall at the end of the cargo ramp, Mutons and Sectoids littered the grassland. The defenders had been thinned, that much was obvious, but it seemed as if the dead and injured had been dragged back up the ramp. What defenders were left waved to us, turning to call up the ramp. Only one of our SPARKs was still standing, its chest piece was melted through but it was still able to heft its massive cannon, jerking its head around mechanically as it scanned for enemies. My earpiece hissed to life, the Commander’s voice coming through clear and steady, now that the alien weapon had been disable there was no interference.

“Glad to see you away team, get your asses to the ramp ASAP, the engines are idling and we can lift of as soon as you’re inside. The battleships will be in range within six minutes, and I’d rather not be here when they arrive.”

Our ragtag group jogged into the open, making our way towards safety, but the soldiers manning the walls pointed and shouted. They started to fire at something behind us, and I turned my head for a moment to see what it was. Adrenaline flooded my body and my eyes widened as they tracked a Berserker charging towards us.

“Berserker,” I shouted, out of breath as I started to sprint. “Fucking run!”

What should we do? We were so close to the ramp but it was coming at us impossibly fast, a freight train of fury and muscle, froth dripping from its jaws like some kind of rabid dog. If we turned to fire we might not be able to bring it down before it reached us, but could we get to the ramp in time? Our feet pounded the ground as we neared the wall, the soldiers defending the ramp urging us on and waving.

I felt a searing pain in my back, and my feet left the ground, my stomach turning as I tumbled head over heels and landed in a heap to roll a few feet before coming to a stop. God, I had definitely broken some ribs. I looked around, trying to get my bearings, the Berserker had barreled into us and scattered us like bowling pins, it had skidded to a halt and was now turning for a second pass. I tried to raise my rifle but the pain was too intense, I couldn’t move, when I tried the corners of my vision darkened and my consciousness threatened to slip away as the agony overwhelmed me.

One of the away team solders rose to his feet and aimed his cannon at the monster, but it tore it from his hands, hitting him across the chest with it like it was a baseball bat. It roared in anger, looming over him and silencing his scream with a swift punch to the face. Its fist sank deeper into the ground than a human skull should have permitted, and when it brought its hand back up it was dripping with gore. The soldiers defending the ramp peppered it with bullets but it shrugged them off like mosquito bites, turning its attention towards me. I was helpless, I couldn’t get clear as it strode over to me.

It raised its fist, but in an instant it was sent reeling. Vi launched herself at it like a furious Valkyrie, using a heavy coil of her tail to slam its face like a medieval flail, and it staggered backwards more from surprise than the force of the blow. It roared at her, its odd mandibles opening to spray foamy saliva, and it threw a punch at her. She dodged it, moving faster than it could track, and rushed to flank the creature. It tried to intercept her with a vicious elbow strike, but she ducked under it and wrapped her tail around its neck like a noose, climbing up onto its back and starting to choke it. She applied all of her strength, her liquid muscles tensing like steel cables beneath her patterned scales, using so much force that I could hear her tail creaking. The Berserker clawed at its neck, closing its fingers around her chubby body and trying to tear her free, but she tightened even further.

It bucked and struggled, but it couldn’t shake her loose. Both of the aliens were strong enough to pulp a human easily, and watching them battle eachother was like watching two titans throwing punches. Their combined weight alone would have crushed a car as if it were made of cardboard. Vi had an iron grip, but I could see that it wasn’t enough. I watched her fragile, hypodermic fangs unsheathe as she unhinged her jaws, their ivory surface flashing white in the sun as her hood flared wide. She plunged them into the Berserker’s shoulder, lingering with those long fangs embedded in its pink flesh. The beast roared and struggled, Vi latched onto it like a limpet as it thrashed and spun, trying to pull her loose. Vi held her ground, she must be emptying her venom sacks into the thing, flooding its body with toxic poison.

The Berserker seemed to slow, drooling more profusely, its violent struggling waning as it stumbled and fell to a knee. Vi uncoiled and leapt from its broad back to watch it cautiously as it heaved and twitched, finally falling to the ground to lie still.

“Vi,” I called, the effort of raising my voice sending a wave of stinging pain through my chest. “Help me, I can’t…”

She rushed to my side, hesitating, afraid to lift me as she looked me over.

“Three minutes soldiers, we can’t wait, get your asses onto that ramp,” the Commander blared through my headset. Vi hissed in frustration, and decided to pick me up regardless of my condition. I bellowed in pain as she cradled me in he arms, turning towards the cargo ramp as the engines of the Avenger flared with a blue glow, a hot wind blowing over us and rustling the grass. It looked like everyone else was able to walk, and they rushed towards the ramp as the great ship began to lift off. The remaining soldiers clambered up the ramp as it left the ground, Vi speeding towards it as she carried me. It passed head height relative to her, and she spat her fury, head waving back and forth like a cat trying to judge distance. We had seconds, once the Avenger was clear of the ground the landing gear would retract and it would speed off into the sky at a hundred miles per hour. Garcia leaned over the lip, calling down to us.

“Come on, jump! Jump for it!”

Vi snarled, lowering her body and coiling it like a spring. She released the energy contained within her sinewy muscles, propelling us into the air like a rocket. At the peak of her arc she threw me, and I was weightless for a moment before slamming down onto the ramp, Garcia gripping me by the shoulder strap as I wailed in pain. Had Vi made it? My heart skipped as I noticed she wasn’t on the ramp. No, I saw her claws digging into the metal, hanging on the lip of the door. Could her arms even lift the weight of her massive body? We were high off the ground now, the ship would be accelerating in moments, please God don’t let her fall now, not after all of this.

She heaved herself up onto the ramp, grunting with the strain of it, and once her tail found purchase she raced towards us. She took both me and Garcia in her coils, ramming us against one of the massive pistons that raised and lowered the cargo ramp. She crushed us against it, almost making me pass out from the pain, winding around us to secure us as the ship’s engines roared and the ground below us diminished. Wind battered us, blowing in my ears like a gale and tearing at my clothes. I could feel gravity clawing at me, threatening to throw me loose of the ship, but Vi’s tail kept us firmly secured.

The Avenger gained altitude, passing through a layer of clouds, and I started to feel the sweat on my cheeks beginning to freeze. Garcia had his eyes closed, muttering something under his breath, whether it was a prayer or a curse I couldn’t hear it over the rushing wind. Vi heaved, dragging herself further inside the ship with all of her strength. I noticed that the soldiers who had remained in the bay were braced against whatever was secured to the ground, unwilling to close the ramp as long as we remained. The nearest was leaning against the hull beside the door controls, and he reached out to take Vi’s hand, doing his best to help her as she dragged herself towards him. She found purchase, wrapping her fingers around a pipe that protruded from the wall, releasing her hold on the piston and catching us in her tail before we fell. Her grip was tight, and she used her steely muscles to pull us behind her, the soldier slamming the door control with his fist and the ramp behind us beginning to close with a pneumatic whir.

It sealed with a hiss, and we fell to the floor in a heap, this final burst of pain enough to make me lose consciousness.

Chapter 3: Line of Duty

I awoke in the sick bay, lying in a hospital bed with tubes coming out of my arms. I tried to move, but I was weighed down by something, and the needles were sore where they pierced my skin. I looked down at my body to see Vi’s huge head resting on my legs, her eyes closed as she slept. Her long body trailed off into the room, passing under the curtain that divided the beds. I was hooked up to monitoring equipment, and my muscles ached, as if I had been lying still for too long. My ribs hurt when I breathed, but it was a dull and distant pain. I moved my arm, wincing as the intravenous drip tugged at my skin, and prodded the sleeping Viper.

Her eyes slowly opened, and she peered at me with her yellow pupils, blinking sleepily. They widened, and she rose up to full height on her tail, her hood flaring wide with happiness and she hissed my name in her alien language. She made to pluck me from my bed and hold me in her arms, but hesitated, and settled for an affectionate nuzzle to the face instead. The nurse on duty pulled the curtain aside to enter, stepping gingerly over Vi’s tail and standing beside the bed with a tablet computer. She was a blonde woman, probably in her thirties, clad in a white uniform.

“Welcome back to the land of the living, Sir.”

“How long was I out,” I asked, my mouth dry and my throat sore.

“About three weeks, we had to put you into a medically induced coma, you were suffering from a cerebral edema and internal hemorrhaging due to trauma to your thoracic cage.” She rolled her eyes as I shot her a confused glance. “You hit your head and broke your ribs, which caused internal bleeding. Your shattered ribs damaged your soft tissue and pierced your lung, causing your chest cavity to fill with blood. It was touch and go for a while there, we almost lost you. I don’t know many people who have weathered a punch from a Berserker.”

“What’s my prognosis now?”

“You’ll be fine. Cutting up all those trooper corpses seems to have given Doctor Tygan a flair for surgery. Stay in bed for another week, then you should be able to leave the med bay. You won’t be returning to active duty any time soon though.” She checked the monitoring equipment, taking some notes on her tablet, watching curiously as Vi lowered her head so that I could scratch under her fleshy hood. “Your damned Viper wouldn’t leave your side, kept getting in the way of the doctors, is she like your pet or something?”

“Something like that,” I chuckled, then winced as it stung my bruised ribs. “We’ve been through a lot together.”

“Well she’s certainly loyal, she brought you to the sick bay directly from the hangar and she’s been here since. Hasn’t even eaten to my knowledge.”

Vi reached across to my bedside table, and I noticed she had brought the tablet computer she used to communicate, as her alien vocal cords couldn’t replicate human speech. She seemed to understand English well enough, but it was sometimes hard to tell what she was thinking. She tapped at its touch screen with her long finger, then her synthesized speech echoed from the device’s speaker.


“Yeah, I guess we’re even,” I replied. “You should go get some food though, I’m fine now, you can see that.” She huffed at me.


She set the tablet down and curled up beside the bed with her head resting beside me on the mattress.

“You may have just woken up from a coma, but try to sleep as much as you can,” the nurse said, then she turned to leave. She stopped as she pushed past the curtain, and called back over her shoulder. “Oh, and you’ve been promoted to Sergeant.”

The time passed quickly, Vi did eventually take a break from watching over me to go to the mess hall and gorge herself on her backed up supply of meat. Her metabolism must work like large reptiles on Earth, perhaps she could go for a long time between meals but simply chose not to when there was food readily available. News of our heroics had traveled quickly, and my hospital bed became a sort of shrine to passing soldiers who would drop in to express their gratitude to both me and Vi, our actions having apparently saved the Avenger and its crew. We had destroyed the alien electromagnetic pulse generator in the nick of time, and the fact that it had been a squad of rookies who had saved the most decorated XCOM team was not lost on them. I had apparently earned my own nickname, they had started to call me ‘Last Chance’.

Garcia stopped by to check on me, he was friendly towards Vi now and obviously enjoying his new status as savior of the ship.

Vi was ever present, she never seemed to get bored and simply wanted to be near me, resting her coils on me for warmth when I had healed enough to sit upright in my bed. Those who had been wary around her before the mission had warmed up to her now, after hearing about the part she had played in our daring escape, and the way she had taken down a Berserker in hand to hand combat.

We were gaining ground in the war against ADVENT, at least that’s what the reports I read told me as I lay in my bed. I felt a little guilty that I couldn’t participate, though being injured after saving the Avenger and her crew was about as good of an excuse as anyone had ever had for taking time off. Nobody seemed to bother Vi either, I had expected the Commander or one of the higher ups to come down to the med bay and chew her out for dereliction of duty, but they seemed to have a pretty clear understanding of where her allegiance lay. Not so much in XCOM, or even in ADVENT, but in me.

A couple of weeks passed, and I was able to get out of bed and roam the ship now, finally able to take my meals in the mess hall rather than eating the carefully regulated hospital food that the nurses brought me. I was a little unsteady on my feet, and Vi hovered around me like I was some kind of baby bird that could fall from the nest at any moment. My prolonged recovery seemed to have rattled her, and she was being hyper-protective whereas before she had been happy to depart on missions and leave me unattended. I wonder if she thought I was weak, she was so much larger and stronger than a human, but surely my heroics had dispelled any such impressions she might have of me.

It occurred to me that we had never really talked much, we had never had any significant length of free time in which we might have gotten to know more about eachother. When we had first met she had been redeployed in a matter of days, when I had been living in the city she had only been able to visit me occasionally, and our flight from ADVENT and subsequent enrollment in XCOM had left us scant few moments of privacy. The odd connection we shared would not be enough to sustain us, as passionate as our relationship was, we’d need to get to know eachother better when this was all over.

I chewed on a spoonful of unidentifiable minced meat as I sat at one of the tables, Vi coiled up behind me in a heap as she wolfed down her rations. I still had a wicked purple bruise that ran up one side of my body, the bandages had been removed but it was still very tender and I generally treated it as if it was made of glass. My brush with death really hadn’t effected me much, perhaps it was because I had been put under during my surgeries and the majority of my recovery, but I hadn’t developed any crippling fear of mortality and it hadn’t brought out any buried religious tendencies as I had seen it do to some of the other soldiers who had been gravely injured. Things just … were the way they were, thinking about it too hard was a waste of time.

I heard footsteps outside the mess hall, and the small handful of people eating around us turned their heads to the door to see a crowd of soldiers run past. One of them ducked into the room for a moment, his eyes wide and his expression wild.

“Something’s going down, there’s going to be a big announcement! We’re all going to the hangar!”

He left as abruptly as he had arrived, and the soldiers in the mess exchanged glances before rising to their feet and discarding their half eaten meals. I tried to follow, wincing as I stood up too fast and a bolt of pain shot through my side. I felt Vi’s hands steadying me, she helped me off the bench and slithered beside me as I hobbled along.

When we arrived in the hangar it was packed with personnel, there were engineers and scientists here too, everyone was standing around as if they were waiting for something to happen. There was a low murmur passing through the crowd as people chatted and speculated. There had been no announcement over the intercom so far, why were we all here?

As if to answer my question an automatic door slid open on the second level of the hangar, and the Commander stepped out to lean on the railing, surveying us from atop the walkway. I had rarely seen him in person, he was the leader of the resistance and all of its military assets, clad in his grey dress uniform emblazoned with the organization’s logo. The room went quiet as the military personnel stood to attention and the technical staff stopped to look up at him.

“At ease,” he said, waving his gloved hand. “As many of you know, we have made significant inroads recently in our resistance against ADVENT. The path each of you made the choice to take has been long and difficult, and I commend you all for your valiant efforts up to this point. We believe that we have discovered a way to strike back at ADVENT in a way that could potentially ruin them, hitting the Elders where they live and ending their occupation of Earth in the process.”

A chorus of cheers and gasps of disbelief rose from the crowd, and the Commander gestured for us to be silent.

“We’re only going to have one shot at this, and we need our most accomplished operatives to carry out a series of precision strikes on enemy infrastructure, notably their communications. We must seize control of their network tower and substitute their planned broadcasts with our own, sowing chaos in the ADVENT-controlled population centers and allowing our resistance contacts to fan the flames. This will serve as a distraction to tie up the majority of their forces. Once that is done, we must send a crack team of soldiers directly into the Elder’s fortress, the location of which we have recently discovered. We don’t know exactly what we will find there, but if we can destroy their physical bodies, we will disrupt their control over their troops and cripple the ADVENT war machine. I’m not going to lie to you, this mission will be dangerous, the risk of the team not returning is high. I won’t order any of you to do this, it has to be your own decision, and as such I will be accepting volunteers. Sleep on it, then make your decision known in the morning, we leave this time tomorrow. I understand that I’ve not given you much time to think about it, but we’re pressed for time as you well know, and this window will only be open for a short while.”

This was it then, the final push. If we succeeded then we would be free of ADVENT rule and things could go back to the way they used to be before the invasion. A chorus of mumbling and speculation filled the hangar as the Commander left the way he had come, the automatic door sliding closed behind him. I saw equal amounts of apprehension and excitement as I turned my head to look around me, watching the crowd of people as they started to file out. I turned to Vi, recognizing the look on her face.

Of course she would go, they needed her, and I wouldn’t be able to talk her out of it.

I sat on the edge of the bed, Vi coiled around me, her massive body practically filling our small quarters. We had never argued before, and this was a strange way to have an argument. Vi tapped furiously at her tablet computer in order to convey her feelings, the synthesized voice oddly robotic and emotionless as she flared her hood in frustration.


“I need you!” I snapped, “what am I going to do if you don’t come back? All of this will have been for nothing!”


I understood what she was trying to say, if XCOM failed to free Earth then we couldn’t be together regardless, and with Vi on the team the chances of them succeeding in their mission were increased. But I had heard what the Commander had said, this could very well be a one-way trip, maybe it was selfish but I didn’t want to live in a world without Vi.


I knew I couldn’t talk her out of it, and there was nothing I could do to protect her, my injuries would take months to heal. I was benched, and Vi would be going into battle without me to pull her out of the fire if things went south.


She leaned over me and pushed her large head against my chest, careful to avoid touching my bruised ribs, and waited for me to scratch her hood. After a moment of hesitation I caved, running my fingers under the spongy flesh and scratching the delicate scales on her neck, feeling the vibration of her purring vocalizations.

“I know how you feel about me, about us, I just don’t want that to end here.”


I didn’t really understand what she meant by that, but before I could ask her to elaborate she placed the tablet on the bedside table and rested a hand on my chest, pushing me down onto the bed. Oh, of course, this might be our last night together if the unthinkable happened. She wanted to make the most of the time we had left before she departed on the mission tomorrow.

“Is this a good idea? I’m not really … in the best shape right now.” I was a little scared, our sex was often rough and acrobatic, the difference in size and physiology between us meant that it couldn’t be any other way. Was she capable of being gentle enough to make this work? If she applied too much pressure or weight she could break my healing ribs again.

She nodded her head, crooning softly, as if to soothe me. I felt her tapered tail prop me up from behind, its chubby fat layer as soft as a pillow against my back.

“Guess we’re doing this,” I muttered under my breath. It was pointless to argue with her when she got in the mood. She gently unfastened my belt, pulling off my trousers and underwear, then I raised my arms and allowed her to peel off my shirt. Even the act of moving my left arm made my injury ache, and as she pulled the garment over my head she revealed a deep purple bruise dotted with patches of red and yellow, extending from my armpit to my hip and spreading across my chest. She examined it as I lowered my arm gingerly, cocking her head, perhaps trying to figure out how best to go about this.

She used the coils of her tail to lift me a little further, angling me so that I was almost sitting upright, bringing up another one of her rolls to support my head, as if I was lying in some kind of recliner. My stomach lurched as she raised me off the mattress entirely, suspending me in the air, perhaps so that she could better handle me? I felt even more vulnerable than I usually did when I went to bed with her, as large and as powerful as she was.

She brought her face down close to me, locking her oversized lips to mine and slipping her long, serpentine tongue into my mouth. I was prepared for one of her ravenous kisses, but this one was slower and more measured, almost calming. Her embrace was soft and mellow, and she cradled my warming face in her cool hands as her tongue wound around my own, slippery and hot. She lingered for a moment, her winding organ filling my cheeks, then pulled away and sucked her tongue back into her mouth like a fat strand of spaghetti.

She glanced down with a smirk, and I realized I was hard, my exposed erection bobbing in the air. She traced one of the pulsing veins with the clawed tip of her finger, making me jerk as it tickled my skin. She positioned herself over me, shifting her weight and keeping me aloft in the coils of her long tail, the care she was taking reminded me of two spaceships preparing to dock in zero gravity.

Her genital slit was open, her pink labia peeking between the scales, glistening in the fluorescent lighting of our quarters. She wrapped her fingers around my member and pulled back the foreskin, rubbing my tender glans against her warm vulva and glazing it in her leaking juices. I dug my fingers into the smooth scales on her pudgy tail as the stimulation arced through my body. I rolled my hips reflexively, and winced as pain shot through my side. She steadied me with her hand, her grip firm but gentle, adjusting me as she rubbed my member against her opening. She purred sympathetically, and I felt the tip of my penis pushing into her tunnel, her smooth, slippery walls enclosing it in a prison of hot silk. Her muscles rippled and undulated around me, as if trying to pull me deeper with their powerful contractions.

I felt her hand on the back of my head, her long fingers nestling in my hair as she pulled me closer, pressing my flushed face between her breasts. Her scales were imperceptibly small and soft, their surface like polished skin, and I breathed in her familiar scent as I relaxed into her bosom. The yielding globes enveloped my head, as large as basketballs due her exaggerated stature, and she used her upper arms to press them together as they molded around me.

I had to admit it was kind of a nice change of pace, our lovemaking was usually so aggressive. Not that I didn’t find our habitual activities intoxicating, but this new tenderness was pleasant, maybe I should smash my ribcage into splinters more often.

She eased me a little deeper, using the coil of her tail that supported my butt to push me closer, bringing me to her rather than risking putting too much weight on top of me. It was an odd sensation to be so completely under her control, even moreso than usual, but she seemed to be taking extreme care so I wasn’t too worried about her hurting me. I looked up at her face between her boobs, seeing her eyelids flutter and feeling the sensation of her walls sliding against my shaft as she urged me further inside her. I loosed a short, sharp gasp, followed by an amused huff from Vi as the wicked barbs that lined her depths gnawed at the tip of my member. Her vagina was smooth like that of a human for most of its length, lined with soft, delicate flesh akin to the lining of your cheeks that closed around any foreign visitor with a welcoming pressure. Beyond a few inches the smoothness gave way to innumerable papillae, barbs of flexible tissue like supple teeth that were just rigid enough to scour the surface of her lover’s cock and drive harsh bolts of pleasure through it, but would yield so as not to hurt if enough pressure was applied. Now I felt the bristles rake my exposed glans, scouring its sensitive surface raw, and I jerked as a wave of almost unbearably intense ecstasy washed over me, leaving me dazed and panting. She pushed me all the way inside her, watching my pained expression with her yellow eyes, my member pushing the barbs aside and nestling in the forest of fleshy thorns. She let me recover for a fleeting moment, but I knew what was coming next, and my racing heart pounded in my chest as I felt her shift her weight. She dragged me back out again, the inverted papillae grazing the head of my penis and teasing my shaft like cruel fingers.

As she pulled me back the smooth, muscular lining of her tunnel squeezed around me with a soothing strength, its satin-like texture contrasting with the harshness of her papillae. She was so hot, almost feverish as her rosy flesh encompassed my member, her copious excitement oozing from her twitching tunnel in heavy globs that matted my pubic hair. She was so wet that our coupling was almost frictionless, her viscous emission coating my shaft like a lubricant. She waited for me to catch my breath, almost driven to the brink of climax by that one thrust, but she was used to how her organ drove me crazy. She peered at me, wetting her puffy lips with her pink tongue, drunk on the excruciating pleasure she was forcing upon me.

She used her tail to push me back into her reaches, my moan muffled by the doughy fat of her cleavage, the forest of spines grating against me. She shivered happily, the tremor rippling down her long body and ending in her tail, then she began to thrust me in and out of her with a slow rhythm. I closed my eyes, trying to hang on, gritting my teeth against the raw sensation as her muscles gripped me and sent electricity coursing through my nerves.

She handled me delicately, a far cry from her usual ferocity, and she kept her eyes on me even as they lost focus as she began to succumb to the pleasure of our coupling. Her breathing grew heavier, her weighty breasts rubbing against my face as her chest rose and fell. I raised my good arm, tracing the curve of her wide hip with my hand, feeling the satin texture of her delicate scales under my fingers as they sunk into her soft fat. We groaned in unison as she took me all the way inside her, the slow, gentle pace of our lovemaking somehow just as maddening as our most violent romps.

I shivered as she pulled me back out, her spines raking the length of my cock, her thick fluids spilling around it as it popped out of her body. It pulsed in the air, linked to her swollen lips by a strand of her excitement which broke and fell onto my thigh. She held me, giving us both some time to recover, then lifted me in her tail and pushed me back inside her again. She increased her speed a little, and I got the impression that she wanted to finish quickly. It made sense, we didn’t have a lot of time, and she would need to be well rested tomorrow. Still, I wished it didn’t have to be over so soon.

I slid my hand up the curve of her narrow waist, pausing for a moment when I reached her chest to sink my fingers into the pliant surface of her breast, then slipped my hand under her hood. She shivered and sighed happily, leaning down so that I could scratch her more easily, teasing the sensitive flesh where her hood connected to her neck.

We stayed locked together for a few more minutes, then her muscles started to clench around my member, milking me in almost painful undulations. She was close, and I thrust into her, ignoring the bolt of pain that shot through my side. She hissed and flared her hood, her claws digging into me a little deeper than was comfortable, and I felt her elongated body tense up as her climax tore through her. She quivered, her muscles trembling around my member, her spiny depths chewing on the tender tip of my cock. The sensation was too much for me to bear, and I felt my own orgasm force a spurt of my warm emission from my body. My muscles spasmed, the pain of my busted ribs mingling with the sharp pleasure of my ejaculation to produce a confusing soup that drove an odd exclamation from my lips. I pushed my head deeper into her inviting cleavage as I emptied into her, hot ropes of my seed splashing her alien innards. She placed a gentle hand on the back of my head and held me to her as we came together, not as raw and powerful as some of our prior finishes, but somehow relaxed and pleasant. When the muscle contractions subsided we were overcome with a dull euphoria and an overpowering fatigue. She placed me delicately on the mattress and curled around me, careful to avoid compressing my chest in her tail, and we drifted off to sleep without so much as another word. Conversation was not our strong point, the way her body enclosed me and her fingers sought out my hair told me more than her synthesized words ever could.

Chapter 4: Cut the Head Off the Snake

She was gone when I awoke, cold in the absence of her coiled body that was usually wrapped around me like a heavy blanket. They had probably set out already, I had no duties while I was on sick leave, there was no reason for me to get up. I rolled over on the mattress and tried for a while to go back to sleep, but the knot in my stomach would not allow it. I decided to get up and make my way to the situation room, maybe I could watch the progress of the mission. I swung my legs out of bed and pulled on my clothes, careful to avoid hurting my side, then left the room and made my way sluggishly towards the front of the ship.

When I arrived at the situation room it was packed with people crowding around the many displays and monitors that lined the walls, showing all manner of information on mission status and progress. I found Garcia in the throng of people, and we chatted for a while as we sat on one side of the large room and tried to see the screens over the heads of the anxious and excited personnel. Apparently almost fifty people had volunteered, Garcia included, but in the end the Commander had only picked ten of them. Vi had gone, along with most of the higher ranked operatives, all kitted out with the most advanced equipment our engineers could produce. He told me that the science staff had unlocked some kind of Elder secret weapon, and the Commander himself was using it against them, some kind of remote control proxy. I didn’t really understand, but the concept was interesting.

Garcia got us coffee, and we sat in silence for a while as we sipped at our mugs, watching the readouts on the displays. We couldn’t see helmet cam footage, the team had gone through some kind of teleporter or portal that was interfering with the signal. We would only know the fate of the operatives and the status of the mission when they returned through it.

The mission to capture and subvert ADVENT transmissions had gone according to plan, and now scenes of carnage filtered in from news reports and our own surveillance systems, the monitors showing images of insurgency and battle all around the world. The cities were ablaze, civilians were taking up arms to fight against ADVENT and the resistance were launching guerrilla operations in every population center. Things had been quiet, and the population had been complacent for so long that ADVENT had been taken by surprise, completely unprepared for a mass revolt of this scale. They had thought that they were in the last stages of their occupation, that their war against humanity was over, but their broadcasts proclaiming breakthroughs in gene therapy that would have seen billions of humans flock to their clinics to be mulched and turned into genetic goop for use by the Elders had been replaced with our own recorded footage of their real plans. Partially disintegrated people floating in tanks as their bodies were broken down into raw materials, pools full of the dead and dying, alien machines performing grotesque surgeries and experiments on unwilling patients. Needless to say, the public had not taken kindly to these revelations, they were awake, their eyes had been opened just as mine had been when I had first witnessed the cruelty of the occupation, and they were out for blood.

As I watched one of the monitors, shaky footage probably from a livestream showed a dozen civilians assailing an ADVENT trooper who had been caught alone, beating him with whatever they could find. Rocks, sticks, pieces of broken paving stone, a traffic cone, a broken stop sign. I had to chuckle at the brutality of it all, righteous anger could motivate even the most peaceful and tolerant people into feats of extreme violence. I felt a little guilty, but this was the only way, and the aliens deserved it.

Did they really deserve it though? I felt a pang of doubt as I remembered what Vi had told me the night before, that her people had been enslaved by the Elders too. Were they all slaves, fighting wars for the Elders against their will? Perhaps that was true of the Vipers and Mutons, but what of the genetically engineered abominations like the Sectoids and the Troopers? Was the mental conditioning, and in some cases actual psychic mind control so powerful that they had no will of their own, or were they eager attack dogs raring for an opportunity to inflict suffering on what they saw as their subjects?

Didn’t matter now, the revolution had already begun and all ADVENT forces were targets, I had to keep in mind that it was they who had forced our hand and not the other way around. They had come to Earth seeking conflict, and they had found it.

There would be witch hunts too, collaborators would be strung up like in the final days of the Nazi regime or the terrors of the Russian and French revolutions. Historical images of Mussolini, the Italian dictator, flashed in my mind. He hung upside down alongside his fellows, beaten savagely and suspended in the air like a farm animal at a slaughterhouse, his clothing in tatters as the partisans put his corpse on display. It wasn’t up to me to decide what was right and wrong, what measures were necessary and which were gratuitous. My job was to set these events in motion, the people of the world would sort themselves out one way or another.

As I watched an alien mech strode through the crowd, firing its massive plasma cannon in short bursts, its purely logical AI subsystems cutting down the rioters without a hint of remorse. They scattered, and the cameraman fled, his phone pointed at the ground as he ran for his life.

On another screen the ADVENT News Network scrolled past, their propaganda channel that masqueraded as journalism. A well-coiffed and finely dressed woman was talking, footage of the civil war erupting on a green screen behind her, her expression calm as she read her prompter and promised leniency for those who turned themselves in. All lies of course, ADVENT had never had humanity’s salvation in mind, from the very start they had planned to recycle the population and turn every man, woman and child into Soylent Green.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Garcia muttered, taking another sip of his steaming coffee. “The whole planet is on fire. I know the alternative would be extinction, but it hardly makes this any easier to watch.”

As if to punctuate his point, more amateur footage came in of a team of Mutons pinned behind a wrecked dropship, the vessel having seemingly been shot down over a gas station. It had cratered and dug a trench in the street, hitting the pumps and erupting into what must have been an impressive ball of flame. All that was left now was the broken hull and the fires raging around it, the surviving payload of aliens hunkered down within the wreckage, trying to avoid incoming fire from a group of insurgents. I watched a grenade fired from a launcher off-camera bounce into the ship and detonate, throwing a Muton clear of the wreck to land limply on the ground. Its obviously lifeless body was peppered with small arms fire from overly eager rioters, the resistance must be giving out stockpiles of weapons to anyone who showed up to fight.

The room was full of murmured conversation along with cheers or gasps when a particularly exciting image was displayed on one of the screens. Some of the soldiers seemed downright bloodthirsty, reveling in the scenes of carnage, but I had to remember that many of them were veterans of the invasion war and that some had lost friends to the aliens. This must seem like deserved retribution to them, revenge for twenty years of oppression. As much as I lived and breathed XCOM’s cause, I just couldn’t see things in such simple terms, not after my time with Vi. The aliens weren’t mindless killing machines, at least not all of them, some had been in the position we were in right now and had lost the fight that we seemed to be winning. If we failed here, the next planet to be conquered by the Elders would surely see human troops fighting alongside their menagerie of alien soldiers, perhaps genetically modified or brainwashed to carry out their orders just as ADVENT did.

“Did they say how long the mission should take,” I asked Garcia, and he shook his head.

“No idea, they don’t know what they’ll find in the fortress.”

I sat back in my chair and tried to drink some more of my cooling coffee, my stomach churning. More waiting, always waiting, I couldn’t stand sitting here not knowing. The carnage on the monitors didn’t do much to improve my mood, but I had to keep telling myself that there was no humane solution to the problem ADVENT had created. I looked away as an ADVENT checkpoint exploded into an orange fireball, some kind of improvised explosive hidden in a car it looked like. Maybe I would go back to my quarters and try to sleep through this, but I wanted to be here when Vi returned, if she returned…

Suddenly one of the ADVENT mechs that was marching through a crowd of rioters on one of the larger monitors to my right stopped, freezing as if someone had pressed its ‘off’ button, then it seemed to collapse into standby mode. As I watched with wide eyes, the same happened to two others, then the Troopers who had been using them as fire support faltered. They hit their helmets with their hands as if their equipment was malfunctioning, losing all coordination and starting to fall back in a panic. I rose out of my seat, scrutinizing them as they turned and began to run. I had never seen anything like it before.

On another display a Muton was looking around, bewildered and lost as protesters pelted it with rocks and bottles. It lowered its weapon and bellowed, its rage and confusion obvious, but so abrupt. It was happening everywhere, ADVENT machinery was shutting down, their troops were losing coordination, their formations dissolving and their will to fight wavering. Something had just happened, something big.

“What the fuck is going on,” Garcia muttered, “it’s like they all went crazy at the same time.”

“The network … the ADVENT network that lets them communicate with eachother, it’s down! Their comms are down, the psychic link that lets the Elders give out orders, it’s been silenced!” I pointed to one of the monitors and gripped his arm. “Look! That Viper doesn’t know where she is, like she just woke up from a dream. See how the hood is flared? She’s scared, she doesn’t understand what’s happening.”

“You can tell that just from its body language?”

“Yeah, and I assume the rest of them are just as disoriented, you don’t have to be an empath to see how terrified those Troopers are. What the hell is going on? Did the mission succeed?”

“I think that’s a safe assumption,” Garcia replied. “Have … have we won?”

The sound of the intercom filled the room, it was the voice of Bradford, the second in command on the Avenger. The crowd went quiet, eager to hear the report.

“Now hear this, now hear this! The mission to assault the fortress was a success, the Elders are dead.”

A deafening cheer rang out in the room, the personnel pumping their fists and hugging eachother. A few dress berets were thrown into the air, and Garcia slammed his fist on our table in triumph, almost spilling our coffee.

“ADVENT forces are in disarray all over the world,” Bradford continued. “Reports are coming in from all major alien-controlled cities that their resistance is crumbling, they have lost command and control, they can no longer mount an effective defense now that their leaders are gone.”

The images on the monitors confirmed what he was saying, it was as if they couldn’t think for themselves, they had no initiative. Heavily armed Troopers were being brought down by rioters armed with rocks, all because they didn’t have the sense to provide covering fire. Was the ADVENT army really so reliant on a top-down command structure? They seemed to have no contingency plan for this scenario. Was their control over their soldiers being interrupted, even temporarily, so unthinkable to the Elders that they didn’t even have a backup plan?

The room was full of celebration, cheering, revelry. The troops were overjoyed, and as much as I felt pride and hope welling in my chest, I would not be able to relax until Vi was back. They must have taken some casualties, there’s no way they had walked into the heart of the ADVENT war machine and come out unscathed. Bradford had not announced any fatalities, likely so as not to dampen the spirit of the men, but I had no doubt that they wouldn’t all be returning. Vi was fast and she was strong, she had a better chance of surviving than most, but I couldn’t speculate as to what exotic aliens and robots they might have fought in there.

A crate of beer was being passed around, pre-war, kept cold in the morgue for just such an occasion. It was morbid, but there was something to be said for leaving our round of victory drinks in the custody of our dead comrades. A can of beer was cracked open and thrust into my hands, frothing its amber foam down my wrist and falling into my lap. Garcia caught one and took a hearty draw, climbing up onto the table and shaking the can, showing a crowd of chanting soldiers with the beverage as if it were champagne. Some sat apart from the rest, holding their heads in their hands or resting on a table and relaxing, sighs of relief inaudible over the noise. I downed my beer in one, the bitter liquid cooling my throat, more for something to occupy myself than for revelry.

I gave Garcia a pat on the back, and made my way to the exit, leaning against the wall in the narrow hallway as I closed the door behind me and shut out the cacophony. It was really over then, the Elders were dead and their troops were leaderless and cut off, no reinforcements or supplies would be coming in now. I should go back to my room, that’s where Vi would expect me to be when she came back.

I made my way down the corridor, my boots tapping on the metal deck, and after a while I arrived at my quarters. The automatic door slid open with a whir to allow me access, and I collapsed onto my bed, wincing as the impact jolted my healing ribs. If they made any more announcements I would hear them in here, I didn’t want to sour the mood in the situation room, there would be time to celebrate and reflect once Vi returned.

The digital clock on the wall advanced sluggishly, the red neon numbers ticking past as if in slow motion. Why were they not back yet? They hadn’t taken a dropship, they had gone through some kind of teleporter that had been constructed on the engineering deck, reverse engineered from technology recovered in the field. It was the only way to access the fortress, impenetrable with no conventional means of reaching it.

After a while I started to fall asleep, the stress and worry overcoming me. As my eyes began to close I heard something approaching in the hall outside the room, like a towel being dragged across metal. I rose to a sitting position, alert now as the door opened, and Vi stood before me in her metal chest plate. Without a word she lunged towards me, taking me in her long tail and wrapping it around me, pulling me against her chest plate. She remembered too late that my ribs were bruised, and huffed apologetically, but I didn’t care. She was back, she was alive.

She rubbed her large head against my face affectionately, running her long fingers through my hair, then lowered me back to the ground. She fumbled for the tablet on her belt, then tapped on its touch screen furiously.


“You did it,” I replied, unable to mask the admiration in my voice. “You really did it, you killed them. What was it like? What did you find in that fortress?” I waited eagerly for her to type a reply.


“You pushed through the defenders? What did the Elders look like?”


Puppets? What was she talking about? Some kind of proxy they used to fight perhaps? It sounded as if their bodies were frail but that they possessed enormous psychic powers. That must have been what had been disrupted, sending the troops into chaos, like unplugging a data cable the ADVENT forces had been disconnected from their masters in one fell swoop. It didn’t matter right now, all that mattered was that she was alive, and we were together. I would have ample time to pick her brain for details.

“I can’t believe we won. We beat them.”


She lowered her hand to ruffle my hair, smiling at me in her own way, then lifted me gingerly in her tail to position me on the bed. She curled around me, her chubby body enclosing me in a blanket of smooth scales.


I didn’t complain, it wasn’t every day we won a war, she deserved all the rest she wanted.

We stood in the hangar bay of the Avenger, I had a rucksack full of what belongings I had accrued during my stay with XCOM, along with my rifle and some ammunition that we had been permitted to keep. The war was over, the occupation had been broken and ADVENT had been routed. There were still pockets of resistance here and there, usually wherever the aliens had been the most entrenched, but they were disorganized and poorly supplied. The human rebels, or as we should now refer to them ‘the status quo’, were mopping up the remaining loyalists. Many had defected, mostly Vipers and Mutons it seemed, losing the will to fight now that their leaders were dead. They were likely thinking in individualistic terms for the first time in their lives. They were no more cooperative and wanted nothing to do with the human rebellion, but their only concern seemed to be to seek out like minded members of their own species and vanish into the wilderness, presumably to make their own way in the world. The Vipers behaved similarly, choosing to self-segregate and disappear, leaving the population centers in massive swarms. It was a matter of some contention as to whether they should be pursued and killed or not, but in the chaos it was very difficult to make any such declarations, much less see that they were enforced.

The Commander at least agreed that the organic aliens were not a threat, he had consulted both myself and Vi and had concluded that the aliens were as much victims of the Elders as we were, and that they would not seek conflict. The robotic and synthetic troops were a different story, most of the resistance was coming from the larger bases and depots that had been manned by creatures such as Troopers and Archons, aliens that had been genetically engineered and cybernetically modified to serve as soldiers, they knew no other life and had nothing to fall back on. They could not be integrated, they would fight to the death, and XCOM still had some work to do on that front.

The Commander had declared that whoever wanted to leave was free to go however, we had served and we had won, those who wished it would be honorably discharged and shuttled to wherever they wanted to go.

I knew of only one place that was away from the still tumultuous population centers, a place where me and Vi could live together without scrutiny while things died down, my family’s old farmhouse. I hadn’t been back there since ADVENT had evicted me and relocated me to an apartment in the city, and I hoped that it was still in a livable condition. The Commander was sorry to see Vi go, and thanked us profusely for our help, then instructed the shuttle pilot to take us wherever we asked.

“I don’t know what kind of future XCOM will have when this is all over,” he said, holding the dropship door open as he shouted over the engines. “But if you ever need anything, anything at all, we will be there for you. The organization, and the world, owes all of our personnel a great debt.”

We said our goodbyes, then he closed the door and the dropship rose off the deck, shooting out of the Avenger’s hangar and into the clear sky. I craned my neck to look back on the ship out of the window, watching the massive vessel diminish as it hung in the air like a floating skyscraper. This might be the last time I would ever see it, it had been my home for months, I had gotten to know its cramped interior as well as any place I had ever called home. What would become of it when the ADVENT resistance was all cleared up? Would it serve as a mobile headquarters for whatever new government arose from this mess? Would it become a museum piece like the USS Constitution? It had saved the human race after all, as had we. It was a strange sensation to have all that responsibility on your shoulders, it still seemed unreal to me. Sure I had not played too big of a role for the most part, besides in helping to destroy the electromagnetic weapon, but that was how we would all be remembered. The title of ‘Savior of Humanity’ hardly suited me.

“So where are you guys headed,” the pilot asked, turning her helmeted head over her shoulder to look at us. I flushed, realizing I hadn’t given her the coordinates yet.

“Oh, sorry, here.” I reached over and passed her a printout with the GPS coordinates of my farmhouse.

“Kansas, eh? Good idea avoiding the cities, things are gonna be rough for a while until things get sorted out. You own land out there?”

“Yeah, I have a farmhouse.”

“Is it in working order? You know, now that ADVENT have been driven off there are gonna be a lot of people out there without basic necessities, they took over and automated so much of the food production and shipping. We’re gonna be needing farmers more than soldiers in the coming years.”

“I hadn’t really thought that far ahead. Probably, yeah. All the old equipment is still lying around, we have a tractor in the barn, plows, all kinds of stuff. Though I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to run a farm.”

“Well you’ll have time to learn.”

I leaned over to give Vi a nudge, her long body was taking up almost the entire deck of the troop bay.

“How about it Vi, we could cut some overalls to fit you, you’d be the first Viper farm hand.”

She shrugged, not really understanding, and I laughed at her aloofness. I turned around to look out of the window, watching the patchwork of terrain that peeked from between the fluffy clouds below us as we sped along. There was a silver lining to the dark storm cloud of near total genocide at the hands of the Elders, at least they had left us their technology. Some of their advances in medicine and genetics had been genuine and not aimed at exploiting us, and the revolutions in transport and sustainable energy alone had set humanity forward hundreds of years. Whatever world we managed to forge in their wake would be better off than it had been before the war. Maybe the pilot was right, the supply system would have broken down, I could do a lot of good if I managed to get the farm operational again.

Hell I would have been bored anyway, might be nice to get some fresh air and do some honest labor, if I had to go back to working in a factory I’d go stir crazy.

The dropship swooped low over the flat Kansas terrain, fields of wheat and corn extending from horizon to horizon, the landscape was just as flat and featureless as I remembered it. The state gave you a kind of surreal feeling, as if you weren’t on Earth anymore, your brain sometimes rejected what it saw and insisted that there should at least be a mountain or a tree to break up the endless nothing. I had always liked that feeling, it made me feel lonely, but in a good way. My property came into view below us, the central house, the barn, and the unused silo casting a long shadow in the sunlight. The pilot brought us around, circling and decelerating as she shed altitude and brought the craft to a hover over the dirt road that linked the farm to the civilized world.

I felt the landing gear bounce as they hit the ground, and I slid the door open, hefting my bag over my shoulder.

“Take care,” the pilot called after us as I hopped out of the dropship, Vi slithering behind me to flop heavily to the dirt. “If you need anything, you know how to contact us. Vigilo Confido.”

I nodded, waving to her as the ship lifted off in a cloud of dust, then vanished over the horizon. We stood together in the middle of the road, Vi perched on her long tail and me holding my pack full of equipment as the dust cleared.

“Well, here we are,” I said, gesturing towards the house. “You remember this, right? This is where we met.”

She examined it, then nodded. We made our way up to the porch, and I realized I didn’t have a key. I stood on the threshold sheepishly, then set my bag down and started looking around for a sizable rock. Vi watched with interest as, red faced, I smashed one of the window panes in the front door, then reached inside to unlock it. It swung open with a creak, and I stepped inside. It wasn’t exactly in a state of disrepair, but it had clearly not been maintained in any way after I had been evicted, hell I would have to be insane to expect Troopers to apply a new coat of paint or check for water damage in my absence.

Some of the wallpaper was peeling, the roof had leaked in numerous places, and the whole place was covered in a layer of dust.

“Looks like the farming is going to have to wait,” I muttered, and Vi cocked her massive head at me. “How do you feel about becoming the first Viper to do home renovation?”

I stowed my gear in the master bedroom, and it looked as if this room was relatively unscathed beyond the dust. The king sized bed with its old wooden supports might even be sturdy enough for Vi to sleep with me, rather than having to pile mattresses and sheets in the living room as we had done when she had first visited me so long ago. The first order of business would be to get up into the attic and patch those leaks, I might even need to do some work on the tiles. Damn it, where was I going to get roofing supplies in this day and age? There was also the matter of checking that the electrics still worked, and the plumping. They had been idle for so long that I couldn’t estimate what kind of condition they might be in.

I walked around the house and took inventory of what supplies we still had, there was plenty of canned food and it was still good. There were cleaning supplies and a few tools in the garage, along with a truck that may or may not work. Home improvement I could do, but repairing an engine was another matter entirely. Remarkably nothing seemed to have been stolen, at least there was no sign of forced entry and nothing was conspicuously missing, rural Kansas must have been far too remote for even rebels to operate out here.

Fortunately the wood fire that warmed the house was perfectly intact, and the chimney wasn’t clogged, so I set to work cutting some wood from the stockpile in the barn as Vi watched curiously. Burning wood for fuel must have seemed incredibly quaint to her, she had likely lived her entire life aboard ADVENT vessels or in ADVENT-controlled territory, on Earth or otherwise. In fact I had no idea how old she was, or how her people measured time. If I were to ask, would their years even translate to ours? One orbit of her home planet could take days, or decades, we would have no common point of reference. When I was done chopping wood she helped me carry it back inside, and I struggled to light the fire with a box of matches I had found in one of the kitchen drawers. Finally the kindling ignited, and before long we had a roaring fire.

Vi curled up in front of it on the moth-eaten carpet, enjoying the heat as the dancing, orange flames drew patterns on her scales. I figured she couldn’t be of much help until I worked out an itinerary and decided what actually needed fixing and what we could reasonably do about it. She was cold blooded after all, she would be more active once I gave her a chance to warm herself. I left her to rest, and marched off to inspect the rest of the property.

Vi cocked her head as she watched me paint, I dipped the roller into a bucket of the green liquid, spreading it on the kitchen wall to cover up the mess the wallpaper had left when I had taken it down. It was far too damaged by the damp and mold to save, and so I had decided to just paint over the whole room. I had gone with a nice viridian, at least that’s what was written on the side of the can that I had found in the barn. Sure there were more pressing matters, repairing the roof was especially important, but there was just some amusingly mundane about painting a kitchen after everything we had been through. Vi was bemused, she had no idea what the point of this activity was, and so I gestured for her to approach and thrust a paintbrush into her scaly hand.

“Dip it in the paint, then spread it, like this.” I gripped her wrist and showed her how to spread the paint around. She looked confused, then gurgled in a way that I knew was a dismissive and sarcastic ‘why?’.

“Because we want the kitchen to look nice.” She stroked the dripping brush over the wall experimentally, then huffed, amused. “See, I knew you’d be a natural.”

We painted for a while, and her clumsy strokes became less so as we coated the walls in a green sheen. She didn’t seem to understand the point of it, but she did as instructed, as she must have been conditioned to do throughout her life. It bothered me a little that she would follow orders with no regard for their purpose, or even that she would consider my requests and suggestions as orders. She was ever the enigma, as much as I understood her body language and expressions, it was hard to tell exactly what she was thinking.

I watched her rise up on her long tail to reach the last empty patch of wall near the roof, then she scanned the kitchen to ensure that the task was done, and set the paintbrush down in the can. She learned quickly, and seemed to apply the same logic to chores as she did to combat, where ruthless efficiency was the name of the game. I recalled how the concept of ‘COMFORT’ had been such an alien notion to her, perhaps in time I could teach her to relax and take things easy too.

I stepped back to admire our handiwork, I had dusted earlier and now the kitchen was clean and fresh, we could prepare food here now.

“Soon you’re gonna understand the difference between a house where you happen to live, and a place you call home,” I chimed, and Vi cocked her head at me. “Come on, we have a lot to do.”

She trailed behind me obediently as I led her outside to the barn, and I located the large stack of roofing tiles I had found earlier. As it turned out, my grandfather who had originally owned the property was quite self-sufficient, I guess he would have had to be back in the day. He had a large stock of spares and replacements for all manner of household tasks. We carried out a few stacks of tiles and a ladder, and Vi watched as I climbed up onto the roof. I checked for broken tiles, or tiles that had been blown loose in the strong winds that often ravaged to the region, and replaced them where I could. Vi eventually grew curious and scaled the wall, perching on the roof beside me. I shooed her away, as her impressive weight was cracking the tiles under her belly. I instructed her to pass the replacement tiles up to me, and after a few hours I believed I had found every damaged tile and replaced it. That should take care of most of the leaks, the water damage was already done but I wasn’t too concerned about that. It wasn’t as if the house was going to fall down any time soon.

Next up was dusting, and Vi grasped the concept pretty quickly, between the two of us it only took a couple of hours to clean all of the floors and surfaces. There were some pretty impressive cobwebs in some places, but a duster took care of those, their tenants scurrying into the safety of the old walls.

The plumbing all seemed to work, which was a relief, the well the property used as a water source would not be running dry for decades. The electrics however were another matter. Fortunately some rooms still had power, including the bedroom and the bathroom, but rodents must have eaten through the insulation exposing the copper wires to damp in some places. I would have to hire an electrician as I didn’t have the skills to repair it myself, God knows how I would go about doing that.

For the moment at least, we had rudimentary heat, power, water and shelter. I had plenty of food for the time being, but I doubted Vi could subsist on spam and canned beef. There was ample wild game in the surrounding land, and I doubted hunting and fishing licenses would be a problem in the post-ADVENT chaos. Could she hunt? Soldiery might translate to being a good enough shot to bring down a buck, but it didn’t mean she could track worth a damn. Just look at her though, she must be able to track prey, she was built like some primordial dinosaur. I decided it would be better to just ask her.

“Do you know to hunt, Vi?”

She cocked her head at me like a gigantic dog, and I gestured for her to hand me her tablet computer. She watched over my shoulder as I accessed the database and tried to show her what I meant. I brought up images of deer and elk from the encyclopedia, and then tried to demonstrate what hunting entailed. As well as translating ADVENT text into an English synthesized voice, the tablet could also do the opposite, though I found that it rarely conveyed the meaning I wanted it to. Perhaps the alien language was a lot more complex, or structurally very different from human languages. I attempted to translate some simple words without attempting to form complex sentences, words like ‘hunt’ and ‘eat’, or ‘track’.

She seemed to get the gist of it, but I was no more a big game hunter than she was, I couldn’t even point her in the right direction. Perhaps a neighbor could help us? The term ‘neighbor’ could apply to anyone within a hundred miles of here, as distant as the farmhouses were from eachother, but that would have to wait until I verified the state of the truck in the garage. Having to call in a favor from XCOM to jump start a broken down pickup would be more embarrassing than I cared to admit.

Oh well, it was getting late, we could deal with all of that tomorrow.

I sat on the ratty couch by the roaring fireplace, I had cut enough wood for a few days and it was doing a good job of warming the living room. There was no electricity to this part of the house, and so as the sun dipped below the horizon, only the flickering flames from the hearth illuminated the room. The windows were beginning to frost up, it was winter and the temperature was getting pretty low at night. The cold seemed to bother Vi, perhaps because she was a reptile, and thus could not regulate her own body temperature through biological means. When she was cold she had to find a heat source, when she was hot she had to find shade, though she did sweat so her alien physiology probably wasn’t so clear cut. Doctor Tygan would probably know more, he had dissected enough of them, but he wasn’t around to ask.

It had been a long day and I was tired, it was so quiet out here, a far cry from the bustle and constant noise of the Avenger. Whether it was the sound of the engines, the personnel going about their duties or just the mechanical creaking and whirring of the ship’s machinery, it was very difficult to relax in such an environment. Now I felt like my body was making up for lost time, there would be no attacks here, no alarms waking me up in the middle of a sleep cycle. As my eyes began to close and I leaned my head back, I felt movement. I opened one eye lazily and spied Vi slithering across the carpet to join me on the couch, nudging me with her head like a dog starved of attention. Before I could protest she coiled around me, wrapping me in her long, muscular tail and replacing the cushions beneath me with soft fat.

She lifted me and placed me in her lap, crossing her arms over my chest and resting her heavy head on my shoulder, watching the flames lick at the grill as they cast their long, dancing shadows in the gloom. Maybe she could sweat, but she certainly seemed cold right now, this was an old, drafty house and it was poorly insulated. I could probably find her some blankets, but as I made to leave she increased her grip on me as if to say ‘no, stay’ and pressed her breasts against my back. Her chubby tail encircled me in a prison made of taut muscle that flowed like liquid, her scales creaking as she tightened her grip on me. I realized my arms were pinned against my body by her chubby coils, and I struggled playfully, knowing it excited her.

She pressed her lips against my exposed neck, mouthing softly, and I felt the pinch of her fangs on my skin. I sighed and leaned back into her, well, this way certainly one way to warm her up. She slid her long fingers under my shirt and dragged her claws across my chest, leaving red trails and making me squirm against her sinewy coils. She huffed her amusement, and crawled her hands slowly down towards my belt. She unhooked the catch with her now practiced hands, tugging down my fly and releasing my growing bulge, she wrapped her fingers around it through the fabric of my briefs and squeezed gently. I bucked into her hand and she smirked, her fleshy hood flaring outwards enthusiastically to frame her face, and she slipped her fingers beneath the waistband of my underwear. Her smooth, scaly skin was a little cool compared to the warmth of my burgeoning erection, and she seemed enticed by its heat. She stroked softly up and down the shaft, holding it in her palm and letting my coursing blood thaw her. She ran her other hand over my belly, teasing me as I jerked and bucked, her hard nails tickling me.

Her long, thick tongue parted her puffy lips to graze my throat, and I shivered. There was just something about having her nuzzle and bite my neck and shoulders that shut me down and made me embarrassingly compliant, ever since the first time we had made heated love and she had plunged her partially retracted fangs into my shoulder in order to assert herself over me. Never with the intention to injure, merely as a way to communicate that while she was capable of hurting me, she would not.

She caught the flesh of my neck between her lips and sucked, leaving red marks as she crawled down to my shoulder, tasting me as if she were deciding on whether to eat me or not. She liked to unsheathe her long, hypodermic fangs just enough that I could feel them, though I would never admit how much it excited me she seemed to know instinctively. She could probably see the heat in my loins with her snake-like senses, hear and smell the blood that coursed through my veins, feel the pumping of my heart and cock as she ran her delicate fingers over my spasming body as if I were some instrument she intended to play.

She seemed sluggish, her usual aggression was absent, yet it was replaced by a slow-burning passion that inflamed my senses. I got the impression she wanted to take her time with me, to drag out the teasing almost to the point that I couldn’t tolerate it. She squeezed me in her hand, and I felt my member twitch involuntarily, blood coursing to the rigid organ as I writhed in her lap. I realized how hard I was breathing, and that my face was feverishly hot, my cheeks shining red as she mouthed and tugged at my ear with her toothless jaws. She slipped her tongue inside, the tapered tip tickling my me and making me shudder.

I felt her powerful coils wrapping my body more tightly, her firm muscles protruding beneath the cushioning fat layer like steel cables, flowing like a liquid as they ensnared me. She pinned my arms to my body in a way that I was all too familiar with, a prelude to her preferred manner of erotic torment. Her tail kept climbing though, snaking up my body to coil around my neck, then rising to my face. She covered my eyes with the soft underbelly, the tip of her tail blindfolding me and wrapping around my head, my vision went dark as I felt her hot breath on my neck.

She closed her long fingers around my pulsing member again, but this time the sensation was amplified, as if my other senses were running on overdrive now that my vision was obscured. I squirmed as I sat in her soft lap, her breasts practically resting on my shoulders, and she started to stroke. She slid her gentle fingers up and down my shaft, squeezing near the tip in a milking motion that forced out a bead of precum, her free hand drawing welts on my belly with her pointed claws. I struggled, gasping as the unusually intense sensations coursed through my body, it was all that my beleaguered mind could focus on. I arched my spine, thrusting into her smooth palm, but she stopped her stroking motion, trapping me in her coils and huffing with amusement. I sank back into her lap, relaxing my muscles, and only then did she continue. She was toying with me, forcing me to follow her lead lest the unbearable pleasure end as punishment for my disobedience.

As her maddening handjob continued, she tugged my head back with her muscular tail, pressing her lips against my exposed neck and dragging the slippery surface of her hot tongue across my jugular. I let out a gasp, but she withdrew her hand from beneath my shirt and stifled it, gripping my cheeks and pushing a scaly finger into my mouth. I closed my lips around it obediently, playing my tongue over its smooth surface and biting softly as she purred in my ear. I winced as she pressed her fangs into my flesh, unsheathing them a few centimeters so that I could feel their sting. She bit a little harder, it hurt, but the pain mingled with the cloying pleasure that was sparking through my nerves. I was confused and excited, my senses heightened by the darkness that had supplanted my vision.

Her fangs retracted, and she lapped at the furrows she had left in my skin apologetically, pursing her lips into a sucking kiss and moving further up my neck. She planted another stinging bite just below my ear, chuckling in her own huffing way as I flinched, the fat coils of her steely body gripping me more firmly as if to say ‘don’t fight me’.

I relaxed and let her do as she pleased, feeling the point of her fang prick my earlobe as she ran her fingers over my glans, wetting them with my leaking juices. She gripped me more firmly now, starting to pump faster as I strained against my bonds of muscle, Vi nuzzling the nape of my neck with her puffy lips as she watched me struggle. I couldn’t see anything with her tail over my eyes, but I could feel her sultry gaze, the way her amber eyes played over my body as I gasped and writhed against the pleasure that she inflicted upon me.

Again she increased the pace of her stroking, squeezing my body in her coils so that I couldn’t thrust against her silky palm, then she withdrew her finger from my mouth and turned my head to one side. She pressed her thick lips against mine, muffling my gasp as her mouth opened and her long, sinuous tongue invaded my head in an obscene kiss. Her embrace too was gentle and slow, her greasy organ sliding around inside me, tasting the back of my throat and tickling the roof of my mouth with a sluggish, almost drunken tenderness. I wanted to reach up and tease under her hood, caress the smooth skin of her cheeks, but she held me close against her body with my arms immobilized. I lay back a little, relaxing against her cushy body and seeing colorful stars dance in my dark vision as she wormed her tongue deeper inside me. God, the depth and length of her embrace still surprised me, even after having been subjected to hundreds of her greedy kisses, her tongue was like a limb in its own right with all the dexterity of a tentacle as it choked my throat. I couldn’t fight her. Hell she could probably have lifted me with the damned thing, and so I let her do as she pleased with me, my eyes watering as her viscous saliva dripped from my chin in globs. My throat muscles closed around her organ, fighting against the slippery invader, and she drew back a little so as not to make me gag. She tasted of metal, so warm and wet, her prolonged kiss clouding my mind as her tongue dragged across my inner cheeks and bulged them outward. I could hardly take the length of it, even when it coiled like a snake, her tongue filled my mouth to capacity.

Finally she relented, releasing me and withdrawing her tongue, the thick length of pink muscle slipping out of my mouth like a rope made of wet flesh. I gasped and panted, catching my breath as she ran her fingers through my hair, tickling my scalp with her claws as a strand of her saliva broke and fell to my cheek.

I felt a climax rising as her infernal rubbing reached its peak, and started to arch my back again despite Vi’s attempts to restrain me, but she cut me off with a harsh squeeze to the base of my cock. She huffed at me as I yelped, my orgasm receding as I lay against her body and panted, trying to quell the shivering in my muscles. She didn’t want me finishing yet, clearly.

She started to coil around me more closely, looping more of her heavy rolls on top of eachother, stacking them almost up to my neck. She leaned closer, and I jumped as I felt her rub her face against my burning cheek. I realized then how hot I was, aroused and frustrated, my body feverish and dripping with sweat. She was farming me for heat like some kind of human battery! I was mummified in her winding tail, her flesh soft and pliable as it closed around me, and her delicate underbelly rubbed against my exposed skin like satin. We were both warming up quickly, I was practically sweltering now that she was trapping my body heat, concentrating it and resting her head on my shoulder happily. She stroked my hair with her clawed fingers, the tip of her tail still wrapped over my eyes, and my breathing started to slow as I came down.

“Damn it Vi, you’d better not leave me like this…”

She huffed, drumming her claws on my head as if to say ‘what if I do?’ She wrapped her arms around my face, leaning with her chin resting on my scalp, and I was now completely encompassed by her save for my lower body. My still aching erection throbbed against the pudgy roll of her tail, pressing into her glass-smooth scales, yielding and soft.

We rested for a while, Vi apparently basking in the warmth I was giving off. As frustrated as I was, it was undeniably comfortable, and I felt my strength waning as we sat together by the fire. Finally she uncoiled her tail from my eyes, and I blinked to clear them as she gazed down at me, her head pivoting on her sinuous neck … She glanced down at my erection for a second then smirked, rolling her eyes in a distinctly human expression that she had picked up from me, as if to say ‘oh fine’.

I wriggled as I felt the tip of her tail sneak down my body to coil around my member, wrapping the shaft in pliant flesh and compressing it gently. Arousal surged as she started to stroke, her yellow eyes locked to mine to gauge my reaction as I reddened, my breath starting to come in ragged bursts. She wasn’t screwing around this time, apparently all she wanted was my heat.

The fat of her tail was so supple and doughy, it almost felt like breast tissue, with an underlying firmness that pressed from beneath. She dragged it up and down the length of my member, pausing to roll across the tip as she pulled back my foreskin to expose my sensitive glans. Her pace was fast and cruel, obviously eager to bring me to orgasm so that I would collapse into her bed of coils and fall asleep, providing her with the warmth she sought without complaint. She struck like a rattlesnake, delivering another disabling kiss with her prehensile tongue, the wriggling organ invading my mouth and roiling, drawing out a stifled moan as I leaned against her. Sparks flared in my brain, as if electricity was arcing between my neurons, and I felt the familiar pang of a climax welling in my loins.

The contractions of her tail around my member were becoming unbearable, she was squeezing and rolling as if she could force out my emission with strength alone, and my eyes began to lose focus as she cupped my face in her palm. She prolonged the rapacious kiss, her saliva spilling from between our lips as her greedy tongue roved inside my mouth. I tried to fight against it with my own inadequate organ, minute in comparison to her foot long muscle, her copper taste overwhelming my senses.

One last cruel wringing motion of her tapered tail pushed me over the edge, and my muscles tensed, my body thrusting reflexively as she twisted her tail into a cocoon of flesh to enclose my throbbing erection. She caught the thick ropes as I spasmed, splashing against her off-yellow scales and coating her white belly, continuing the maddening milking motions. Wave after wave of raw pleasure washed over me, harsh and unrelenting, pleasant shivers running up and down my spine like cold fingers as her tongue slid out of my mouth and she withdrew with a wet pop. Afterglow flooded my mind as she smirked, scraping away my residue with her tail and wiping it carelessly on the arm of the couch.

“Damn it Vi, that won’t wash out,” I complained through a haze of lingering radiance. She ignored me, turning me so that I was lying prone and closing her body around me like a giant slinky. I relented, closing my eyes and enjoying the warmth of her cushioned body around me, letting the afterglow carry me off to sleep.

Chapter 5: Neighbors

“Try it now!” I called over the hood of the truck, and Vi turned the key in the ignition as I had shown her, the engine sputtered unhappily before fading out. I wiped engine oil on my cheek, setting down the spanner I was holding and cursing under my breath in frustration. “Piece of shit truck, how the hell did it break down, I put a goddamn tarp over it before I left.”

Admittedly I didn’t know much about vehicles, I could tell you how an ADVENT turret was assembled, but something as quaint and simple in comparison as a car was beyond my understanding. It was like asking a computer technician to repair a gramophone. I scoured the shelves of the garage for a guide or a manual, anything that might give me a starting point so that I could diagnose the problem. Finally I came across an owner’s manual, and began to run through a checklist of engine problems that might prevent it from starting. Eventually I narrowed it down to an electrical problem, most likely a dead battery. It made sense, who knew how long the tuck had been languishing here. It was easy enough to remove and replace, but where the hell was I going to get a fresh battery all the way out here? Again I turned my attention to the dusty shelves and boxes in the garage, my grandfather had been a practical man, self-reliant, surely he would have a replacement battery around here somewhere. If his one truck were to break down, he might be stranded until he could phone for help, that’s an idea that I knew would have grated at him.

Success, hidden away in a plastic bin behind a pile of tool boxes were two car batteries, fresh I assumed. I followed the instructions in the manual in order to replace the spent battery, then stood and wiped my brow as I appraised my handiwork.

I shouted for Vi to rev the engine again, and this time it sputtered to life, disgorging a cloud of black smoke from its exhaust. I pumped my fist in triumph as the truck idled, then gestured for Vi to step away. She slithered away from the driver’s door and waited on the other side of the garage.

“Stay here Vi, I shouldn’t be gone for long. Don’t open the door for anyone besides me, understand?”

She nodded, and so I hopped up into the driver’s seat and rested my hands on the steering wheel. It had been such a long time since I had driven a vehicle, public transport in the city where ADVENT had relocated me had been excellent, and I certainly hadn’t been flying any dropships during my time with XCOM. Oh well, it was just like riding a bicycle, right? I eased the flatbed truck out of the open garage door and onto a dirt track, Vi turning her head to watch me as I started off down the road, the treaded tires kicking up dust.

I drove past the unkempt fields that marked the boundaries of the land my family owned, well, that I owned now. There wasn’t anyone else left, besides my cousin who was still working with XCOM to my knowledge, the family had thought he had been killed in action during the invasion war and had signed all of the property over to me. I knew the area fairly well, and I knew that my nearest neighbor had been an acquaintance of my parents and might be able to help me with the ongoing repairs. I needed a damned electrician, even when society had been functioning properly it would have been a pain in the ass to get one all the way out here, if they didn’t know someone who lived locally we might just have to go without power to most of the farmhouse.

It was still pretty cold, not enough to be uncomfortable, but enough that I kept the windows closed. I had driven these dirt tracks in warmer times, back when the fields had been full of golden wheat and my job at the factory had seemed like my biggest concern. Despite all the time that had passed and the world-changing events that had transpired since then, Kansas had changed remarkably little, everything was just the way I remembered it.

After a half hour I came to a crossroads and turned off in the direction of the closest farm, belonging to a Mr and Mrs Kadavy. They had been in their forties the last time I had seen them, which was a good few years ago, they would probably be in their mid fifties by now. I hoped they still remembered me, these were not peaceful times, and having strangers pay you unannounced visits might be taken the wrong way these days. I spied their grain silo in the distance, and their fields were full of partially harvested corn, it looked as if their farm was still in operation. Excellent, perhaps they could give me some pointers when the time came for me and Vi to get our own farming operation in gear.

I steered the truck up the narrow dirt road that led to their farmhouse, bringing it to a stop a fair distance away from their property, I didn’t want to alarm them. I hopped out, pushing the door shut behind me and began to walk the remaining distance up the hill upon which the farmhouse was perched. As I rounded a corner and neared the building, the front door flew open and an older, slightly overweight man with a salt and pepper beard stepped out onto the porch. He was wearing a checkered shirt and faded jeans, and my heart skipped a little as my eyes focused on the shotgun he was pointing in my direction, screwing up his leathery face as he squinted at me from beneath the wide brim of his hat.

“What’s yer business here,” he called to me, and I raised my hands above my head to show that I was unarmed, slowing my pace a little as I approached.

“Mister Kadavy? Do you remember me? I live at the farmhouse down the way,” I gestured back in the direction I had come. “You knew my parents before the war.”

He blinked at me, lowering the gun and straightening his hat.

“Oh, you’re the neighbor’s boy, that’s right. Not seen you round these parts for an age, what brings you up here?” He was no longer pointing the weapon at me, but he still kept it ready, I’d have to move slowly and make sure I didn’t startle him. To live through an interstellar war only to be shot by a twitchy farmer would be the biggest joke of my short life.

“Well Sir, I’ve been fighting a war,” I said, approaching cautiously, careful to keep my hands in view. “I just got back a couple of days ago, and the farm isn’t in the best of shape. I wondered if I might ask some neighborly advice?”

Kadavy seemed to relax, letting the shotgun fall by his side, and he gestured for me to take a seat on a chair under the porch. He leaned his gun against the wall of the house and lowered himself into a wooden rocking chair, drawing a packet of smokes from his pocket and offering me one. I shook my head, and he slipped one into his mouth, striking a match and shielding it from the wind behind his cupped hand. I waited patiently as he took a long draw, then he exhaled a cloud of smoke and turned to me.

“So, what’s been going on in the world? You been fightin’ a war you said?”

“Yes Sir, against the ADVENT occupation.”

“Heard about that on the radio, those resistance fellas were broadcasting that you’d fought ‘em off. You see combat?”

“I did, yes.”

He leaned across and took my hand, his fingers strong and calloused by decades of farm work, shaking it vigorously.

“That’s a fine job you’ve done, boy. I fought in the first war myself, infantry regiment. We didn’t stand a chance against them twenty years ago, I don’t know how you guys did it but if you sent those alien bastards packing, then I owe you whatever help you need.”

“I can tell you all about it on the drive back, that is if you know how to repair electrical systems?” The old man scratched his scruffy beard, taking another draw from his cigarette, the tip glowing orange as he inhaled.

“Can’t say that I do. I know a guy who might, though, I can give you his number if yer phone line is still workin’.”

“That would be great, thank you.”

“You said you needed help with yer farm? What kind of problems are you havin’?” I loosened my collar, a little embarrassed of my ignorance before this obviously seasoned farmer.

“Well … I worked in a factory all my life, then I joined the resistance, I inherited the property from my family and I can’t say that I know the first thing about tilling fields or planting crops. Now more than ever we need farmers, the supply system ADVENT set up has been dismantled and the food is going to have to come from somewhere unless we want to see a modern famine. I thought I should do my part.”

“So yer askin’ me to teach you how to run a damned farm?” Kadavy blew a cloud of grey smoke into the air, the wind carrying it away as it left the shelter of the porch. “Yeah, I guess I can set you straight, least I can do for a fellow serviceman. First though, there may be something you can help ‘me’ with.”

He rose to his feet, retrieving his gun, and I followed behind him as he led me around the property to the back of the building. His farm was laid out much the same as mine was, he had a large barn near the farmhouse where he probably stored tools and machinery, and a grain silo for storing his harvest that would presumably be emptied into a hauler and carted off for processing at the end of the season. At least if those haulers were even running now that the aliens had been ousted. As we neared the red barn painted in the traditional Midwestern style, I noticed that there was a hole in one of the walls, splintered wood scattered about the ground. It looked as if a damned rhino had barreled straight through the side of the structure. Kadavy gestured to it, his shotgun resting across his arm.

“Any idea what did this? Something big came through in the night, broke into the barn and stole damn near all of my tools, whatever it was took a fair share of my dried food stock too. Set the dogs barking somethin’ crazy, I let ‘em loose and went to fetch my shotgun, but by the time I got out to the barn the thief was gone and the dogs … my dogs were dead. I’m too old to be fightin’ another war, but you’re fresh off the battlefield. Tell me, you ever see one of those aliens do anything like this? Has to be an alien, ain’t no coyote big enough to smash through the wall like that.”

I crouched to examine the splinters of painted wood, looking for tracks in the dirt maybe, but I was no detective. It was obvious that something big had done this, that was about all I could tell without more information.

“I’m … not sure,” I said, straightening up and walking through the jagged hole. It was tall and wide enough that I didn’t need to duck. “I’ve seen a few different species that could do this, as to which one it might be, and why they would be all the way out here I can’t say.”

My blood ran cold as I thought of Vi. We had arrived a couple of days ago, she was the only alien in the area that I knew of, surely she wouldn’t have left the house at night to do this? She had still been wrapped around me when I had woken up that morning, as if she hadn’t moved at all. No, she wouldn’t do that, but letting Kadavy know about her right now might be a bad idea. It would probably be wise to keep her under wraps for the time being.

“You said that whatever did this took food?”

“Yeah,” Kadavy said, walking through the hole to join me in the barn. “I had a stock of dried food for emergencies, fortunately your war never reached us here, at least until now…”

“Maybe that was what attracted it?”

“Likely, whatever it was took my tools too, what would they want with those?”

I shook my head, unsure. A lot of aliens had left the cities when the ADVENT network went down, some in significant numbers. Nobody in XCOM had really known how that would play out, where would they go, what would they do? We had no idea how Mutons or Vipers, or even Chryssalids behaved when the Elder’s control over them was lost and they reverted to their natural state. I walked out of the barn, shielding my eyes against the sun with my hand and looking out over the surrounding landscape. It was mostly fields, but off in the distance were pockets of dense forest, the area was so sparsely populated that a goddamned dinosaur could hide out here and go unnoticed. Suddenly the picturesque, peaceful countryside of my childhood seemed oppressive and hostile. Imaginary eyes watched me from the trees, whose eyes were they, Muton? Viper? Suddenly I missed the comforting weight of my rifle on my shoulder.

“Are you alone here, Mister Kadavy?” I asked, turning to him.

“No, my wife lives with me, and until recently two dogs.”

“Do you have transport? Can you get to me in an emergency? If whatever made this hole comes back tonight to steal the rest of the food, don’t try to fight it. Conventional ammunition won’t scratch a lot of these creatures, have a vehicle ready to go on short notice. I kept my service rifle and I have a … friend who may be able to help.”

“I appreciate the offer, my wife will certainly sleep easier. I can fuel up the old Ford and park it out front.” He straightened his wide brimmed hat and started to walk towards the house, I trailed a short distance behind him as he made his way up the grassy incline. “Let me get ye the number of my handyman, I’m sure he’s not too busy these days, I think me and Matilda were the only ones who didn’t get relocated to the city after the incident at the ADVENT facility down the way.”

“Oh? They practically forced me out at gunpoint, you’re saying they didn’t try to relocate you at all?”

“Nope, they never came to see us. Maybe we were far enough away from the facility that they didn’t think we were a risk.”

Maybe, I thought, or perhaps they just didn’t have a use for the elderly or the infirm in their gene clinics. The idea made me shudder, all those people floating in tanks, their bodies being broken down into genetic soup for use in the Elder’s sick experiments. We arrived at the door of the farmhouse, and I waited outside while Kadavy entered and picked up what must be a phone book from a desk in the hall, wetting his thumb with his tongue and leafing through the pages.

“Ah, here we are, let me write this down for you.” He scrawled the number on a stray scrap of paper and handed it to me, patting my shoulder. “I’m sure I’ll be seein’ you again soon, I put my number down too, give me a call if you need any farming advice.”

I nodded and thanked him, shaking his leathery hand again before leaving, descending the verdant hill the house was built upon and returning to my truck. I hopped in and slammed the door, revving the engine and starting off down the dirt track towards home. I would give this handyman a call later, if he was a jack of all trades maybe he could help with other things too. Did I have anything to pay him with? Food? Ammunition? Perhaps favors were the only legal tender these days, I doubted that any ADVENT currency I had stashed in the house would be worth anything now that the regime had fallen. Damn, when you were fighting on the front lines of a revolution, things like currency inflation and food shortages were the last things on your mind. I looked out of the window again at the passing wheat fields, the forest in the distance taking on a foreboding quality. Vi would need to hunt soon to acquire a source of fresh meat, was it safe to let her go out alone with an unknown alien rampaging through the neighborhood? Hell, she would stand a better chance than me or Kadavy if she met it, but I didn’t like the idea all the same.

I pulled into the garage, and Vi was waiting for me eagerly, her hood extended happily. She must have heard the truck’s engine. I hopped out of the vehicle and gave her an affectionate scratch under the chin as she leaned down into range of my arm. I brandished the piece of paper Kadavy had given me.

“Looks like we have someone who might be able to help with repairs, I’ll give them a call tomorrow, it’s a little late in the afternoon now. You hungry?”

She nodded, probably not understanding everything I had said, but enough to know that it was time to eat. She followed me into the pantry where my stash of canned food was located, enough to last me a good while, however insufficient to feed a giant Viper for very long. We would really have to get off our asses, smooth or scaly, and figure out how we were going to hunt. I could probably buy meat from a neighboring farm if we were unsuccessful, but if we could get something for free we should, I wasn’t sure what the economic situation was going to be like going forward. In a few months these cans of spam might be worth their weight in gold.

I filled a cooking pot with a few cans of meat and stirred the mixture as it heated up, Vi hovering nearby, watching the wooden spoon turn hungrily. When it was ready I poured the processed meat into two bowls, her portion consisted of several servings, and I doubted even that was really enough to sate her hunger. She had been accustomed to guzzling down slabs of fresh antelope or elk meat during our time on the Avenger, whatever local fauna happened to be unlucky enough to be standing near the ship when it set down. She ate without complaint though, wolfing down the nondescript meat in great mouthfuls. I preferred to take my time, being a puny human who actually needed to chew his food before digestion, and when I had finished the sun was beginning to dip below the horizon. I remembered the damage to Kadavy’s barn, perhaps I should ask Vi about it, but that could wait until morning.

The old man would have to find out about Vi eventually if he was going to visit the farm at any point in order to help me with getting everything up and running, I couldn’t very well ask her to stay hidden forever. Would he let his experiences in the war color his opinion of her? The best I could hope for was probably mistrust and suspicion, if not outright hostility. The aliens were stuck here now, nobody was coming to take them home and we couldn’t genocide them, that would make us no better than the Elders. People would have to learn to tolerate their presence, perhaps when the initial anger and xenophobic fervor died down they might even be integrated into human society, it had more or less worked out under ADVENT rule. At least that was my hope.

“You ready for bed?”

Vi nodded her large head, and left the table, winding her way up the stairs to our bedroom.

Something woke me, a noise, like wood breaking. I snapped my eyes open and sat up, listening intently in the darkness. Vi was roused on the bed beside me, her long coils shifting as they rested on top of me, she raised her head on her flexible neck as her tongue flicked the air.

“Shush, what is that,” I whispered. There was another splintering sound, this time loud and clear. It was coming from the direction of the barn, the damned alien must be hitting our farm tonight. We were miles away from Kadavy’s property, why had it come so far? I crept out of bed and inched over to the bedroom window, easing it open and hanging my head out into the cool night air. This wall faced the barn, I should be able to see the thing. It was as black as ink outside, the moon hidden behind dark clouds, I could barely see three feet in front of me. I could hear it though, something large moving near the property.

“Vi, get your gun.”

She slithered out of bed to drop silently to the wood floor, slipping out of the door and down the stairs in search of the service weapon XCOM had allowed her to keep when she had been discharged. Her plasma rifle was in the cupboard in the hall, along with my conventional assault rifle. I followed after her, wincing as the old steps creaked under my weight. Whatever it was probably couldn’t hear it, but you never knew with aliens.

I fumbled for my rifle, Vi was already armed and waiting by the back door, her night vision apparently better than mine. I joined her, stacking at the door like we were about to breach an enemy stronghold. This wasn’t an XCOM raid damn it, but it was hard to shake such ingrained instincts. I counted to three in a hushed whisper, then I hit the light switch for the external lamps and we pushed through the door and into the courtyard. The barn was lit in a dull yellow glow now, not ideal but better than pitch darkness, at least some of the electrical systems still worked. We marched forward slowly, rifles at the ready, and I spied the hole that had been smashed in the wall of the barn. What the hell was it after? We didn’t have any food stored in the barn like Kadavy did, just the tractor and some building supplies. Was that what it wanted?

I could hear shuffling, as if something massive was walking around, inspecting the property maybe. If it was an alien it might be totally lost, cut off from the ADVENT network and scrounging to survive, did that give us the right to shoot the thing?

“Don’t shoot unless it moves to attack us,” I whispered, and Vi hissed her understanding. I waved her forward, and we blocked the wide hole, aiming our weapons inside the barn. There was a shape in the darkness, a massive silhouette that I could barely make out. It was huffing and sniffing like some kind of bear, metal clashing as it rummaged through one of my toolboxes, discarding unwanted screwdrivers and hammers on the ground. It paused, seeming to notice that it was being observed, and turned very slowly to face us. It was taller than a human, and bulky, built like a gorilla. As it watched us I recognized the beady, yellow eyes as they reflected what little light penetrated the slats of the old barn.


It bellowed angrily, and began to lumber towards me, but seemed to hesitate when it saw Vi. It peered at her with its emotionless eyes, deeply set beneath its heavy brow, perhaps confused as to why we were together. It advanced cautiously and we kept our weapons trained on it. As it stepped into the light I noticed that it wasn’t wearing armor, just the dark green undersuit that their combat armor would usually be affixed to. It wasn’t armed either, though by no means did that make the creature less of a threat, I had seen them tear soldiers limb from limb when cornered like some enraged primate.

It seemed to be growing more agitated now, and staggered a little closer to us. Suddenly it lunged, leaping forward with a surprising burst of wild speed and barreling past us as we scrambled out of the way. I turned and aimed my weapon at it, expecting it to spin around and come at us a second time, but it was charging away from us and into the corn field. It disappeared between the unkempt shoots, the sound of its huffing breath fading as it vanished into the distance.

Vi lowered her rifle and cocked her head at me, as if to say ‘what was that all about?’

“I don’t know, I don’t know…”

It had not attacked us, it had just wanted to get away. Mutons were a tribal race, where there was one there were certainly others, this could be a serious problem. Could a squad of Mutons who had been confused and lost after being disconnected from the ADVENT network have formed a tribe and wandered out of the city? Could they have gotten this far outside of the population centers? Where were they living? What were they eating?

“Looks like we’ve got a problem on our hands, Vi.”

She hissed angrily in the direction the alien had fled, turning back to wind her way towards the farmhouse. I knew a lot about Vipers, but not much about Mutons, besides how much lead it took to bring one down. I would have to give Kadavy a call the next morning, perhaps he knew other people in the area and could alert them too. The Mutons might not necessarily have hostile intentions, but if someone pointed a gun at one, they would defend themselves with likely deadly results. I doubted the aliens were up to date on Earth’s property and trespassing laws. I followed Vi back into the house, but I left the outside lamps on just in case the intruder came back and brought his friends. We had better keep the guns in the bedroom for the rest of the night.

“Mutons,” Kadavy muttered, walking around the hole that the alien had punched in the side of my barn. “I remember them from the first war, brutal creatures, strong as an ox and nigh impossible to bring down. What are they doin’ out here?”

“I don’t know,” I replied, standing beside Vi as he eyed her warily. Now that the culprit had been identified I felt more comfortable revealing Vi’s presence, though Kadavy hadn’t really warmed up to her yet. “I had heard reports that the aliens were leaving the cities to escape the fighting, they must have somehow wandered out this far.”

“And your … Viper, it’s a defector? Is it safe to have that thing around people?”

“Yes, we’ve known eachother for a long time, she fought for XCOM during the revolution.”

“Well,” he grumbled, pulling his hat a little lower over his eyes, “if you say so. I’d rather not see it on my property if it’s all the same to you.”

“That’s fine, I can keep her here. She’s really harmless, understands English too.”

“So what are we gonna do about this? These Mutons?”

“I don’t really know. The one I encountered last night wasn’t hostile, at least as far as Mutons go. It seemed to be scavenging for supplies, maybe food, I caught it rummaging through my tools. Thing about Mutons is they live in tribes, I think there’s a fairly good chance that there are more than just one living out in the forests. I don’t see where else they could be, unless there’s some vacant farmhouse near here that you know of?” Kadavy scratched his greying beard as he thought on it for a moment.

“Well, only other farm around here is the Daugherty farm a ways East of you, and they got evicted by ADVENT, haven’t seen head nor tail of ‘em since.”

“That’s a possibility, it would make sense based on where they’ve been sighted up to now. Maybe we should get a few more people together and go check it out.”

“You think that’s wise?” Kadavy asked as he withdrew a packet of cigarettes from his pocket. He pinched one between his lips, then rummaged for a matchbox and struck one. He shielded the dancing flame behind his leathery hand, puffing until the cigarette was lit, then discarded the spent match on the ground. “We’ve got guns but we ain’t no army, we’re gonna need more than a handful of shotguns if we mean to drive them off. Back in the day a whole fireteam of professional soldiers fully armed with automatic rifles would have trouble with a Muton, never mind a few farmers with buckshot.”

“I may be able to call in some favors with XCOM, but I’d rather avoid that unless it’s absolutely necessary. Me and Vi will go scope out the old Daugherty farm, see what’s what, if it’s overrun by a whole tribe of the damned things then I’m calling in backup.”

“Should call in a goddamned airstrike on the place, I don’t need Mutons running around my property killing my livestock and trashing my machinery.” He took a long draw of his cigarette, eyeing Vi up and down as she waited at my side. “You got that one trained like a damned dog, never seen anything of the like.”

I restrained myself, resisting the urge to correct the old man. Vi was as intelligent as he or I, but this kind of prejudice was to be expected, it would take a lot of time for the general perception of the aliens to change. Besides, I wasn’t sure Vi could even be offended, she seemed completely indifferent to his comments.

“Well, I’d better get goin’,” Kadavy muttered, dropping his cigarette but and turning to walk back towards his truck. “Keep me in the know, if there are Mutons on that farm you’re gonna need all the help you can get.”

I waved him off as his old Ford pickup trundled down the dirt road, then I led Vi back inside the house. Twice now the Mutons had visited at night, perhaps they were inactive during the day. If we were going to scope out the Daugherty property it might be best to catch the aliens in what to them could qualify as the early morning, dusk for us. I’d make sure Vi understood what was going on, then we would drive over there tonight and check the place out.

Chapter 6: Peace Offering

I drove the pickup down the dirt track as the sun began to dip below the horizon, Vi was coiled in the flatbed with her plasma rifle resting on the roof, her weight making the rear suspension dip as we bounced over the uneven road. I saw the Daugherty’s silo poking up above the wild fields in the distance, this should be close enough. I slowed the vehicle to a stop and hopped out, retrieving my rifle from the passenger seat and slinging it over my shoulder as Vi dropped down heavily behind me.

“Remember, this is just a recon mission,” I whispered, and Vi nodded, turning over her weapon in her hands to check its charge level. “We need to find some high ground, if we can get a look at the farmhouse and the barn from a good distance, that would be preferable to kicking down doors. Think you can get up on that silo without being seen?” She nodded her head, and started to slink off, her long body undulating as she crouched low to the ground. She vanished into the field like some kind of monstrous grass snake, and I set off in the opposite direction to circle around to where I assumed the house would be. All of these farms seemed to have a similar layout, though unlike Kadavy’s this one was not built on elevated ground, meaning many of the structures were hidden behind the tall foliage from a distance. I was a little worried as I crept forward, if I surprised a Muton who happened to be lurking in the field, it would probably punch my head clean off before I even had time to shout for help. Maybe this wasn’t the best idea, but it was the only option available to us right now.

I came to the edge of the field, parting the long shoots with my hands and peeking through at the house, like my own it was built in a sort of courtyard with a barn towards the back of the plot. I didn’t see any lights on inside, no movement, no signs of activity. I shouldered my weapon and looked through the magnified scope, trying to see into the dark windows, but there was nothing.

I glanced to my left and, with some difficulty, spotted Vi lying prone on top of the silo with her weapon angled towards the house. The sun had set now, and darkness covered the landscape in an inky blackness. If they weren’t in the house, might they be in the barn? The idea had not occurred to me until just now, but a human-sized dwelling might be too small to be comfortable for the bulky creatures.

Confident that Vi had me in her sights and could provide covering fire if I got into trouble, I crept out of the field and over to the wall of the farmhouse. I looked through a window, not seeing any movement inside, and proceeded around the side of the building. The barn was painted red in the traditional style, and this one had no Muton-sized holes in the walls. I felt exposed as I crossed the open courtyard, but I arrived at the barn without incident. There were slats in the ancient planks that made up the walls of the barn, and I pushed my face up against the wood to see inside. Damn it, too dark.

I continued along the wall, trying to stay flat against it in case anyone inside the house might be looking out, and came to the large barn doors on the front face. I leaned on one of them, pushing it with my shoulder, keeping my weapon at the ready. When a human-sized crack opened, I slipped inside, careful to stay low and avoid making too much noise. I had a torch, but if there were a dozen sleeping Mutons in here, using it would be suicidal. I squinted as my eyes adjusted to the gloom inside the barn.

It seemed empty, just a few broken down farming machines that I couldn’t identify, and…

Kadavy’s stolen food, piled against one wall, along with what looked like weeks worth of collected tools and scrap. What on Earth were they doing with it? I looked up to the hayloft, a platform raised off the ground and built into the wall of the barn. My heart quickened as I made out half a dozen bulky shapes, shifting softly as if they were asleep. One of them stirred, and I watched a long, muscular arm emerge from the pile to scratch itself. I backed up slowly, slipping back out of the door, then turned and started to jog away towards the house. The soldier in me demanded that I get to the nearest cover, and I tried to make as little noise as possible while also obeying the adrenaline that was now coursing through my veins.

I crouched behind a corner of the house, keeping the barn in view, then I waved to Vi and gestured in the direction of the truck. She seemed to understand, as her dark silhouette dropped off the silo and out of view. I kept my weapon trained on the doors of the barn for a few more moments, ensuring that I hadn’t roused any of them, then turned and ran back into the field.

I arrived at the truck panting, and doubled over as Vi eyed me curiously from her seat in the flatbed.

“Half a dozen of them, at least, Mutons.”

She flared her hood and narrowed her eyes, hissing menacingly.

“Yeah, I know you don’t like them. What the hell do we about this? Can we take on a squad of Mutons without XCOM support? I don’t think they’re armed.”

She seemed unsure, her pink tongue flicking the air like a lizard. Finally she shook her heavy head, her hood flapping with the motion. I leaned on the truck, catching my breath, and tried to clear my head.

“Maybe there’s another way. The one we encountered in our barn wasn’t violent, it never tried to attack us, we have to remember that they’re not under Elder control anymore. They’re lost and directionless, stranded on an alien planet that they don’t understand.” Vi cocked her head at me as my face lit up. “They need food and shelter, and what do we need? A farm.”

It took Vi a moment to put two and two together, then her yellow eyes widened and she shook her head vigorously.

“Why not? We could employ them, they’re as strong as horses, they could help us get the farm up and running. Do we have any right to just kill them? They didn’t choose to be here any more than you did.”

Vi hissed dismissively, and mimed using her tablet.

“Ok, we can talk about it when we get back home. Just have a think about it, ok?”

She tapped the roof of the truck with her hand impatiently, and I obliged, climbing into the driver’s seat and turning the ignition key. The engine revved to life, and I turned us back in the direction of our farmhouse, the truck bouncing on the uneven dirt track as we drove away.

I knew that Vi disliked Mutons, though I had never really pressed her to explain exactly why. During our time on the Avenger with XCOM we had been at war, hatred of a commonly encountered enemy was a natural response, but now I felt as if it ran deeper than that. Rivalry perhaps? Did Mutons treat Vipers poorly, or vice versa? I had no idea about how the various ADVENT species interacted outside of the battlefield. All I knew for sure is that much like the Vipers, the Mutons wanted nothing to do with ADVENT once they had been freed, they had chosen to leave rather than stay and fight with the Troopers and Archons in the cities. That suggested that they had their own culture and their own will, and that they intended to make a new life for themselves here. Who were we to deny them that based on what was, for all intents and purposes, a prejudice? How would Vi respond if I were to stand my ground on the issue?

We arrived back at the farm, the yellow glow of the truck’s dirty headlights illuminating the dusty courtyard. I felt the suspension rock as Vi dropped heavily out of the back, and I turned off the engine, getting out and closing the door behind me. She headed straight for the front door, obviously intent on retrieving her tablet computer in order to chew me out for suggesting hiring Mutons as farmhands. We had never really had a reason to argue before, either so much was happening around us that we barely had time to speak to one another, or we were engaged in a lengthy session of violent lovemaking. I didn’t really know what to expect as I trailed behind her and entered the house, turning on what light switches still worked as I went. The Mutons knew we lived here now, perhaps they had assumed that all of the farmhouses in the region would be vacant like the one they had found, somehow I didn’t expect them to return to my farm, nor Kadavy’s for that matter.

They would need to get their food from somewhere though, and anyone who became hungry enough would also become desperate. If I had my way, it would never have to come to that. I heard Vi’s fat coils descending the staircase to the second floor, and she appeared in the hall, the glow of her tablet’s touch screen illuminating her face in a blue light.


“I know that,” I said, crossing my arms and leaning against the wall. “I’ve killed my fair share of Mutons you know, but those were under the control of the Elders, just like your people were. I’m sure if you asked anyone in XCOM what they thought about Vipers, they would say that ‘you’ were dangerous.” She shook her head, frustrated. I doubted the tablet could translate what she wanted to convey very accurately, and this was one situation where the language barrier was a problem.


“Bad think? You’re saying they’re stupid? Unintelligent?” She nodded. “They were bred for war? ADVENT made a lot of changes to the genetics of their soldiers to make them more suitable fighters, Vipers included I’m sure.”

She seemed to grow angry now, her hood flaring a little as she typed furiously.


“Why not? From the perspective of humans there’s little difference between a Viper and Muton, they’re both alien monsters ADVENT use as weapons.” She recoiled a little, seeming hurt, but I interrupted her as she began to type a retort. “I learned that Vipers aren’t monster, that they’re no different from humans. The Elders made them do the things they did, me and you got over our differences, didn’t we? Why can’t you apply that same logic to these freed Mutons? Why not give them a chance to change the way you did?”


Her synthetic speech was becoming garbled and nonsensical as she began to ask too much of the software, feeding it more information than it could handle as she tapped frantically at the screen.

“Slow down, slow down. Whatever you think of Mutons, that’s based on how they behaved under Elder control. The psionic network is down now, we killed the Elders, every alien species has reverted back to its natural state. Can you say that you know how wild Mutons behave, or just ADVENT Mutons? Remember, when we met that Muton in the barn last night it didn’t try to attack us, a Muton under Elder control would have tried to take us apart, armed or otherwise.”

She hissed dismissively, not the reaction I wanted from her.


“Yeah, well I’m saying that what you think you know doesn’t apply anymore. The situation has changed. What, should we just kill them, even though they’ve done nothing to harm us so far? That would make us no better than the Elders, looking at entire species and just saying ‘oh yeah these ones look menacing, so we’ll make them soldiers and that’s all they will ever be’. You became more than a soldier, didn’t you? Why shouldn’t they?”

I couldn’t believe I was arguing so passionately for the rights of Mutons of all things, but when I thought about just razing the barn with the sleeping aliens inside it, I got a knot in my stomach. It was wrong, I felt it in my bones. Vi seemed angry, she was glaring at me with her reptilian pupils, if she had a rattle on her tail I’m sure she would have been shaking it.

“Hey, maybe you’re completely right and they’ll attack us on sight when we try to make contact with them, but we have to try Vi. We can’t go around killing sentient creatures for no reason.”


“Yeah maybe, but if I don’t try, I won’t be able to live with myself.” Vi shook her head, and lowered the tablet, turning towards the guest bedroom. “What, no goodnight kiss?”

She grumbled and closed the door behind her after piling her long body inside the room, and I sighed, making my way up the stairs to my bedroom. Let her sulk, she hadn’t put her foot (tail?) down on the matter, so it looked like we were doing this. Now I had to figure out how to make contact with the aliens. They seemed to be on the hunt for resources, food and metal by the look of what I had found in the barn, perhaps I could leave them a gift of some kind? Could I bait them out like wild animals, eventually having them eat from my hand, so to speak? It was worth a shot.

I fluffed my pillow and shrugged off my jacket, leaning my rifle against a chair by the window. Vi would come around eventually, if my plan worked she would have no choice.

“You sure this is a good idea?” Kadavy asked, sitting next to me in the truck as we wound our way along the dirt track towards the Daugherty farm. His shotgun was sat across his lap, one of his grizzled hands gripping the barrel nervously. Vi was in the flatbed, wearing her armor today with her plasma rifle attached to the back of her metal chest piece through some magnetic system. She didn’t like the plan, but she hadn’t refused when I had asked her to back me up, after all she seemed to expect this whole venture to go south very quickly. I was optimistic though, and I had gathered a potato sack full of scrap metal from around the farm, along with the few cans of food I could spare from the pantry. It was the best I could do for a good faith gift.

“So far they’ve only come out at night, I don’t expect to meet any of them today, I just want to leave the scrap and then go home. We’ll come back tomorrow and see if they took it. If they did, then I’ll come back again with another gift, and see if they’ll take it in person.”

“You didn’t see what these things did to my dogs,” Kadavy snarled, his free hand moving to his gun. “My vote is dropping a God damned Scud on that barn.”

“Despite the way it seems, they’ve not been hostile towards us so far. I’m sorry about your dogs, but if two alien animals came running at you, barking and snarling, what would you have done?”

Kadavy shook his head, scratching his beard pensively.

“I hope you’re right, boy. So far your Viper hasn’t eaten anyone,” he said, glancing through the back window at Vi’s armored midriff. “Maybe you’re an alien whisperer or something.”

“Well, we gotta give them a chance. Vi was like them once, either brainwashed or under psychic control, I don’t really understand how it works. But she was a soldier for ADVENT, and it was only through interacting with humans that she broke the conditioning. She’s been socialized, I guess you could say. Whatever control ADVENT exerted over them is gone now, they’re wild, essentially. We can’t know how they’ll react to us, but we can’t just kill them either. At least I won’t.”

“Well at least you’ve got a conscience, can’t say as much for myself.”

We stopped the truck a distance from the Daugherty property and dismounted, Vi passing the heavy burlap sack to me effortlessly with her tail, my knees almost buckling under the weight of it. I struggled upright and hefted it, starting off towards the house, Kadavy and Vi flanking me with their weapons ready. The courtyard came into view as we rounded the field of tall, wild plants, no aliens in sight so far. I told my companions to stay by the house as I inched towards the barn with the bag, they stayed behind cover, Vi’s eyes darting around suspiciously as she shouldered her plasma rifle.

I heard her hiss angrily, alarmed. I turned back to the barn to see a gigantic Muton standing by the door. He stared at me with his beady yellow eyes, sunken beneath his heavy brow. His pink hide was covered in tribal tattoos of unknown meaning, the exposed skin on his face and arms was covered in black ink. He wore an undersuit like the Muton we had encountered at our farm had been wearing, the heavy armor plating that would usually be hanging from the attachment points was absent. Even without the armor the alien was imposing, heavily muscled with wide shoulders and oddly disproportionate arms like a primate. He stared me down, unmoving, and I slowly lowered the burlap sack to the dusty ground. I heard Vi spit furiously, and I spun around, raising my hand to her.

“Vi, no! Wait!”

Unused to me using such a commanding tone, she lowered her weapon, her eyes still fixed on the Muton. If he made a wrong move she would drop him regardless of what I told her, and then we would have a full scale turf war on our hands, that wasn’t the plan. The Muton hesitated, as if he wanted to turn back into the barn, likely to rouse his pack and send them after us.

I gestured to the sack, and took a few steps backwards. He stared at me with his emotionless, dead eyes, almost like those of a shark. Was he as stupid as Vi had claimed? Was all of the tactical knowledge these Mutons had displayed in combat entirely pre-programmed, or were commands foisted upon them via the psionic network? He took a tentative step towards me, not afraid of us, but cautious. His eyes fixed on the bag, and I took another few steps backwards towards the house. As confident I was that these aliens were not overtly hostile, I was still more than ready to bolt.

Every time he lumbered towards the bag, I skipped back a little further, until eventually I made it to the cover of the farmhouse. Vi spat her disapproval as she pulled me out of view, keeping her eyes on the Muton as he pawed at the burlap sack with his massive hand, his fingers like thick sausages. I peeked my head around her yellow coils, watching the alien as he pulled at the drawstring, tugging the sack open and plunging his hand inside. The Muton stopped, visibly taken aback, and cocked his head to one side like a dog. He withdrew a can of beans, examining the object, comically small in his massive hand. Damn, could they even open such cans? It hadn’t even occurred to me, perhaps I should have included a can opener.

He brought the can to his nose and sniffed it, and I noticed that the rebreathers I had always seen them wear was absent on this Muton. I could see his flat nose and his thick lips as he opened his mouth to reveal large, tombstone teeth, biting down on the can and crushing the metal. The can split, bean juice leaking free, and the alien let the liquid run over his tongue. He seemed pleased, and pursed his fat lips against the break in the can, sucking ardently. He made short work of the meal, discarding the container, then rummaged in the sack. He picked out a hubcap, holding it up and examining the metal disk, seeming pleased. He replaced the scrap, then drew the string and lifted the sack, draping it over his shoulder with shocking ease and heading back towards the barn. He paused at the door to look back at us, it was hard to read his expression, but I didn’t get the impression he was about to sound the alarm.

The Muton vanished into the gloom of the barn, and I patted Vi’s scaly rump.

“Come on, let’s go now. We’ll come back tomorrow.”

“I’ve never seen anyone get that close to a Muton without being ripped apart like a doll,” Kadavy muttered. “Maybe you’re right and there’s somethin’ to this.” Vi rolled her eyes and huffed in response, still dismissive and stubborn. I shot her an angry glance, and gestured for them to return to the truck with me. I felt elated, vindicated, and relieved that no blood had been shed. These were not wild monsters, and I was sure that the Muton had appreciated the gift. I would bring more tomorrow, perhaps the alien would even allow me to get closer. I didn’t know how I was going to communicate my offer of employment yet, perhaps Vi’s tablet might be of use if she would let me use it for that purpose, either way my plan had been set in motion.

The truck stopped short of Kadavy’s property and he swung the door open, dropping to the ground. He gestured for me to follow, slinging his shotgun over his shoulder on its strap, and I hopped out of the driver’s seat.

“Stay here Vi, I won’t be long,” I called to her. I wanted to respect Kadavy’s wishes to keep her off his land, though he did seem to be warming up to her. That was the key to human-alien relationships, I was sure of it now, exposure. She sagged her hood and leaned her head on the roof of the vehicle, exhaling dispassionately. Her mood had really been sour since our argument the previous night, I had never seen her so … I guess the only way to describe it would be sardonic.

I followed Kadavy up to his house and he led me inside, offering me a seat at his kitchen table. I sat, and he passed me a beer from his fridge. I cracked it open and took a draw of the cold, bitter liquid, examining the room around me. It was rustic, overloaded with a lifetime of collected decorations and ornaments, from landscape oil paintings of farmland to a shelf full of porcelain chickens. He pulled up a chair opposite me, and drank from his own can, then placed it on the table and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

“So, looks like your plan might work. You absolutely sure this is what you want? Can’t say I’m too happy about having a pack of Mutons roamin’ around the countryside, but you’ve been right so far, don’t see any reason to start doubtin’ you now.”

“Yeah, I’m sure. It might sound like a crazy idea, and I guess it would seem that way if you haven’t seen the things I’ve seen. These aliens can be socialized, they can be assimilated into human society, I’ve done it with Vi and I can do it with these Mutons too.”

“Vi … that Viper of yours doesn’t seem too happy about it.”

I took another drink from the can, scowling.

“I don’t know what’s gotten into her, she hates the Mutons, like ‘really’ hates them. I don’t know if she’s had bad experiences with them in the past or something, we sometimes have trouble communicating, but she seems convinced that they’re going to kill us in our sleep.”

“Well, wouldn’t she know? She is an alien after all.”

“A few years ago I would have said the same of a Viper, that they were alien monsters out for blood and that they were beyond reason, but Vi proved me wrong. I don’t understand why she can’t see the parallels between her own experiences and that of the Mutons.”

“May I remind you that you don’t know the first thing about running a farm yet,” Kadavy chuckled. “What are you going to do with them if you manage to convince them to work for you? How will you pay them?”

“I’ll pay them in food, they can live in the barn. If you can teach me how to run a farm, I can teach them.”

“Damn it kid, can’t you let me enjoy my old age? A couple of days ago my biggest concern was a break in my chicken fence, and now you’re gonna have me training giant aliens to operate plows.”

I joined him in chuckling, it was an absurd situation, but this was the world we lived in now.

“Hey if you come around to the idea of working with aliens, you can borrow them. Oh by the way, I wanted to ask, what’s the situation right now? Are you harvesting? Is someone buying your produce?”

“Used to be ADVENT would send haulers to cart off the crop for processing, they’d show up in huge floating trucks and load it all up, then they’d pay me in ADVENT scrit. You know, those weird I.O.U type documents they’d give out instead of pay. You had to go to the city to get them exchanged for currency. Since you guys killed the Elders I haven’t seen them. I assume they’re not operating now that there’s nobody left to run them. This year’s harvest is sitting in the silo right now, it’ll go to waste if I don’t find a buyer soon.”

I finished off my beer, thinking about the situation. We had taken the supply system for granted for so long, it had operated continuously without interruption for all of our lives. ADVENT had run it, and before them the local governments. Harvesting food, processing it, getting it onto store shelves, it wasn’t something any of us had ever needed to think about before now. The people in the population centers were going to run out of food quickly, what was that old saying? Any civilized country is only three missed meals away from anarchy? Something along those lines.

“We’re gonna need to run this operation from the ground up, ‘we’ need to find the buyers, ‘we’ need to ship the produce for processing. Maybe I can arrange it through XCOM, they have to be in contact with whatever local governments have emerged since ADVENT fell.”

“Things are really that bad in the city, then?” Kadavy asked, nursing his beer.

“Oh yeah, last I saw it was complete chaos. Massive riots, street to street battles, things looked bad. I’m sure it’s all cleared up by now, but I don’t know what kind of state the economy is in. I know there are factories near the cities, they put me to work in a bottling plant when I was relocated. There must be flour mills, there must be idle workers, we just have to get the harvested crop to them.”

“Easier said that done,” Kadavy chimed, gesturing at me with the beer in his hand, the froth dripping onto the varnished wooden table. “We’d need enough trucks to cart off the produce, and we’d need them to give us a fair pay for it if they want us to be able to keep operating. That kind of deal doesn’t happen overnight.”

“It might if they’re starving,” I laughed, I had meant it as a joke but it was sobering. I quickly changed the subject. “So you keep chickens? Do you have any other livestock?”

“Some pigs, why?”

“Can I buy some for slaughter?”

“How many?”

“As many as you can spare and I can afford, I need to feed Vi and she can’t subsist on spam, those Mutons are probably gonna need fresh meat too by the looks of them. Could be a good incentive, a way to convince them to work for me.” Kadavy thought about it for a few moments. I knew it was a tall order, but I wasn’t convinced we could hunt enough wild game to feed Vi, never mind a whole pack of Mutons.

“Depends what you have to trade, really. ADVENT currency doesn’t hold value anymore. I can probably part with a couple of pigs a month if you can give me a fair price for ‘em.”

“The Mutons stole your tools, right? Come over to my place and take whatever you need, farm equipment too if they took anything important. I’ll make do.” Kadavy took my hand across the table and shook it.

“Deal, I won’t leave you without the essentials, and I’ll give you a couple of pigs for it.”

“Can you bring them around tomorrow, before we go back to the Daugherty farm? Some pork chops might sweeten the deal.”

He nodded, and saw me off as I left the house, making my way back to the truck. It was getting late, and I wanted to be up early the next day. Vi yawned conspicuously as I approached, making a show of being bored, and I climbed into the driver’s seat.

“Yeah yeah, we’re going home now. Don’t be moody, I made a deal with Kadavy, you’ll have some fresh meat tomorrow.”

She perked up at that, her hood flaring, and she gurgled appreciatively. I started the truck and turned us in the direction of our farmhouse.

The next day Kadavy arrived with two slaughtered pigs in the back of his Ford pickup, he had done the job himself, assuming that I wouldn’t have known how to. He was correct of course, I had never killed livestock myself, nor did I know how to prepare it. I greeted him and showed him to the barn as Vi heaped the animals off the back of the truck, and he took his pick of the tools. If he took anything I sorely needed in the future, I could always ask to borrow it back, and I might still recover the stolen goods from the Mutons. I instructed Vi to take one of the carcasses to our own truck, I would be presenting it to the Mutons as another gift. She rolled her eyes at that, a human gesture I was starting to regret teaching her, but did as she was asked. She still seemed to be sulking, and I wondered how long it might go on for. She was a rapacious lover, that alone would weaken her resolve eventually. She didn’t seem to want to talk it out, she expected me to fail and be proven wrong, and that attitude irritated me.

When Kadavy had loaded the tools into his Ford we piled into my truck, Vi coiled in the back clutching the pig in her tail, and we set off towards the Daugherty farm. I wanted to arrive at roughly the same time of day, I wanted to be predictable so as not to surprise them.

I drove a little closer this time, less afraid of alerting the aliens, and we dismounted. Vi lifted the pig carcass off the back of the truck, it was too heavy for me to carry and so I dragged it by the rear legs. As I struggled towards the center of the courtyard where I had placed the first gift, I noticed there was something already there. I dropped the pig when I drew near, wiping my brow with my sleeve, and examined the pile. It was a tub of Kadavy’s dried food and a few assorted pieces of scrap metal of indeterminable origin, arranged in a kind of pattern. The Mutons had left me a gift in return, it actually seemed to be of greater value than what I had originally given them upon closer inspection. What did that mean? Was it a reciprocation?

In any case I was now sure that they weren’t going to hurt me.

“Hey, Mutons!” I shouted. I heard Vi hiss a warning from her position near the house, but I repeated the call. “Hey Mutons! Come out here!” My companions probably thought I had lost my mind, but hostile aliens would not reciprocate my gifts, they wouldn’t barter, if indeed that was what they were doing. I shouted again at the top of my lungs, and waited. After a few moments the doors of the barn creaked open, and two Mutons peered out at me suspiciously. I waved to them and shouted again.

They withdrew, and I waited patiently, after a couple of minutes three Mutons left the barn in a group. Their size always surprised me, no matter how many times I had seen the aliens, or how close I had gotten to them. They were built like giant gorillas, their massive, disproportionate arms covered in interlocking tattoos swinging as they lumbered towards me. They were all dressed similarly, those same green underclothes, but each had subtly different patterns on their pink skin. Did the tattoos have some cultural significance or were they merely decorative?

I trusted that Vi would not shoot, if she did I would surely be torn apart before she could come to my aid. The larger of the three Mutons was in the center of the formation, with the two somewhat smaller examples of his race flanking him. They came to a halt a short distance away from me, examining me with their beady eyes, their faces contorted into a perpetual scowl by their heavy brows.

I crouched and lifted the pig, flinging it towards them as far as my strength would allow, which wasn’t very. I made it clear that the carcass was intended for them, however. The larger of the three cocked his head, walking forward cautiously and prodding the belly of the dead animal with his thick finger. He was only a couple of meters away from me now, his sheer scale was imposing.

The giant Muton gripped the pig by its rear legs and lifted it off the ground, its enormous, tattooed bicep bulging through its suit. It brought to carcass near to its flat face and sniffed, then lowered it. It slammed its fist to its chest, grunting loudly, and I hopped backwards in alarm. Its companions repeated the gesture, slamming their massive fists against their broad chests. Was it some kind of thanks? I didn’t know if I should try to imitate them, and so I did nothing. Their leader pointed to the pile of scrap and food they had left out for me, and grunted. I gathered the scrap, trying to balance it on top of the food bucket, and decided to copy their chest-pound gesture before lifting it. They seemed satisfied by this, and turned to leave, carrying the pig with them. I retreated in kind, making my way back to the house as the aliens disappeared into the privacy of their barn.

“You’re fucking crazy,” Kadavy chuckled as I rounded the corner of the house and dropped the tub of dried food to the floor. “I thought that big one was gonna pound you into the ground like a tent peg!”

“Well, I got some of your food back at least,” I grumbled, stretching my arms into the air. Why was everything so damned heavy? Were there no aliens of human size or less that wouldn’t eat me out of house and home?

“That you did, if you can get the rest of it back off them I’ll give you a couple more pigs next month. I think your plan might just be crazy enough to work.”

I turned my attention to Vi who was still eyeing the barn with her weapon readied.

“Hey Vi, can I bring your tablet computer tomorrow? Can it translate all ADVENT languages or just your own? I’d like to try communicating with them.”

She sighed, then nodded reluctantly.

“Hey, you have to admit I’m making progress. This time next week we might have Mutons plowing the fields.”

“What now?” Kadavy asked. “We still need a way to get the crops to the processing plants, regardless of how many farmhands we have.”

“Let me take care of that,” I replied, lifting the tub of food and starting back towards the truck. “I’m gonna call in some favors with XCOM and see what they can come up with.”

Chapter 7: Under the Skin

I walked around the courtyard holding the cellphone over my head, searching for a signal. God damn it, how many satellites had the ADVENT fleet plowed through during their time blockading the planet? I couldn’t get any damned bars. Vi watched with amusement from her perch on the roof of the barn, idly guzzling barbecued pork as I wandered around the property cursing. I hadn’t had any idea how to prepare the pig carcass Kadavy had given us, but Vi apparently did. I had given her a knife and left her to it, and after an hour she had brought me some cuts of meat to cook. I didn’t care to ask where she had learned the skill, on her home planet before ADVENT had conquered it maybe? Was it some cultural thing passed down from snake to snake? It didn’t matter.

I kicked the dusty ground, frustrated, then turned to look at Vi. She had no problem scaling structures, what if she lifted me up onto the grain silo? Might I get a signal up there?

“Hey Vi, Vi!” She rolled onto her back, pretending not to hear me, swallowing a cut of pork as she basked in the midday sun. “Come on Vi, this is important!” She peeked her head over the side of the roof as I approached, looking down at me with a disinterested expression, and huffed. ‘Go on.’

“Can you lift me up onto the silo? I need to get a signal on my phone.”

She smirked and crossed her arms, lounging lazily.

“Come on!”

She slithered down off the roof, her body long enough that the lower fifth of her tail could be on the roof while her torso flopped to the floor. I yelped in surprise as she plucked me off the ground and slung me under her arm, winding her way across the courtyard with alarming speed. My stomach turned as she climbed the tower, curling around it and placing me gently on the top. She steadied me with her hand as I got my bearings, huffing with amusement at my dizziness, then returned to the ground.

“T-Thanks,” I muttered, watching her scale the barn and return to her stash of pork, letting the sun beat down on her white belly as she spread out across the tiles. I raised my phone, waving it over my head, and saw one bar light up. Yes! My idea had worked. Maybe I could put a satellite dish up here or something to make it easier to get reception, the house had a landline but the service was extremely spotty lately.

I fumbled in my pocket for the number I had been given when I was discharged, along with the promise of help, should I ever need it. I was a little embarrassed to call in the favor so early, but it was the ideal way to get in touch with the local government, if anyone knew what the situation was it would be XCOM. I dialed the number, and put the phone to my ear tentatively, listening to it ring. After a moment there was a click as someone at the other end picked up, a woman’s voice coming through a little distorted due to the inconsistent signal.

“Avenger here, report.” Report? Whose number had they given me? Logistics? The control room?

“Er … hey. I was given this number when I was discharged, they told me to call if I needed anything.”

“Oh, ok, hold please.” I waited, and after a moment I was transferred to some other department, a male voice greeted me this time.

“Hello, how can I help you?”

“Hello, I was er … given this number when they discharged me from XCOM, the Commander told me that I should call it if I ever needed help with anything.”

“Oh, I see. Can you give me your service number, Sir?” I relayed the six digits of my service number and waited for him to check it against their database. “Ah yes, I have your service record here Sergeant, what is it that you need?”

“Ok, bear with me because it’s going to take me a minute to explain my situation. So when I was discharged I returned to my family’s farmhouse, we own property in Kansas. When I got here, I figured I would start up production again and start harvesting crops, because without ADVENT operating the supply system there are likely to be food shortages in the cities. My neighbors are doing the same. Problem is the haulers that ADVENT used to send to collect the grain aren’t running anymore, we have whole silos of food going to waste because we don’t have a way to get it to the processing plants, and no way to get in touch with any local governments who might be able to help us. I wanted to know if you guys were in contact with any authorities, and if they might be able to arrange transport?”

“Give me a moment Sergeant, and I’ll get back to you about that.” He left whatever console he was operating, and I heard muffled speech in the background. After a few minutes he returned, and there was interference as he put his headset back on.

“Hello, Sergeant? Are you still on the line?”

“Yes I’m here.”

“The United States government is operating in Kansas, but their control is tenuous at the moment. We do however have both resistance and local government contacts in Wichita, Kansas City and Topeka. If you can hold for a little longer I will contact them and see what their situation is.”

“Thanks, that would be great, I’ll hold.”

I watched Vi sunbathing on the roof as I waited for the operator to return, her belly slightly distended from all the pork she had eaten. I felt like telling her to pace herself, but she knew her metabolism better than I did, she might not need to eat for a week after such a large meal. She seemed to be sleeping now, her ample chest rising and falling softly.

I realized suddenly that I was frustrated, going two nights without sleeping with her felt like two years, this little spat we were having was starting to drag on longer than I would have liked. We were both stubborn, each biding our time in the expectation that the other would soon be proven wrong, that couldn’t be a healthy way to resolve the conflict. Maybe I’d try talking with her again, try to get her to see my side of things.

“Sergeant, are you still on the line?” I returned the phone hastily to my ear.

“Yes I’m still here.”

“Good news, our resistance contact in Topeka confirms that the city has a supply issue, they have processing plants standing idle. If you can give me the coordinates of your farm, they can get trucks out to you. I’ll give you the number of their office so you can talk to them yourself.”

“Brilliant, that’s exactly what I had hoped, thank you.”

I took down the number, then thanked the operator again and hung up. I would give the guys in Topeka a call later in the afternoon, right now I had a prior appointment with some Mutons. I stood up and called to Vi, waving my arms.

“Hey Vi! I need to get down!” Either she was asleep, or pretending to be. I called her again, and this time she stirred, flexing her winding body and looking up at me drowsily. “Come get me!” She slid lazily off the roof and made her way over to the silo, crawling up the cylinder and lifting me below my arms, she deposited me on the ground then returned to her perch again. “Where are you going? We need to visit the Mutons again.”

She grumbled unhappily, waving her hand at me dismissively as she lay on the roof.

“Oh fine, later then, but it’s important. I’ll give you two hours, ok?” She chirped her understanding, then rolled out of view.

I sat alone in the living room, lounging on the couch as the embers of the previous night’s fire glowed in the hearth, tapping at Vi’s tablet and trying to figure out how it could be used to communicate with our alien neighbors. The text menus were all in ADVENT script, impossible for me to read, I would probably have to employ Vi to guide me through the user interface.

I heard the front door open, and turned to look over the headrest of the couch to see Vi slinking into the farmhouse.

“Hey Vi, you ready to go?”

She didn’t reply, and slid her way around the side of the couch, planting her heavy head on my lap. I set the tablet aside, surprised.

“What’s with the sudden change of attitude?”

She rolled her eyes, huffing dispassionately, and raised her long fingers to scratch at her head.

“You got an itch?”

I rubbed the top of her head, her scales shiny and smooth under my fingers, and she wriggled her long body. Her hood was drooping and she was avoiding eye contact, as if she were embarrassed by something.

“What is it? Your tablet is here you know.”

She shook her head softly, and clawed at her snout, scratching her nose. Her long body was twisting slowly, writhing as if in slow motion as she rubbed her cheek on my chest. Was something wrong with her? Should I take her to a … vet? She nudged me more ardently, pushing her forehead against my jacket as if trying to scratch herself on the zipper. Concerned, I ran my fingers over her cool skin, tracing the contours of her fleshy hood. My eyes widened in surprise as one of my fingers caught on something, it was her skin, she was shedding her outer layer. I peeled away a section, as if she was coated in clear, dry saran wrap. It came off easily in a sheet, not quite transparent upon closer inspection, it was patterned with the indents of her fine scales. She grumbled and crooned as I ripped more of it free, seeming to alternate between discomfort and gratitude as she scratched at her neck with her claws. She was a reptile after all, it made sense, but I had never seen her do this before. What had brought it on so suddenly? The cold weather maybe?

“Ok ok, stop wriggling, lie down on the couch and I’ll help you.”

She huffed, nudging me aside to lie with her belly on the cushions, she perched her head on the armrest and watched me with her yellow eyes, waiting. If she could blush, I got the feeling she would have, she was attempting to sulk yet here she was forced to come to me for the most intimate kind of help.

I patted her head, and she huffed again, ‘don’t get fresh’.

“Oh, keep still, you grumpy creature,” I chided. I tried to hook my fingers beneath the sheath of skin on her nose, peeling it away in a clean section. She rubbed her face on the arm rest, trying to help me along. It was oddly satisfying, the fresh scales beneath had a clean luster to them, like a newly waxed car. I ran my fingers under her chin, pulling the skin away up to her jawline where the sensitive flesh of her hood began. I tugged it over her forehead and rolled it down her neck, pushing my fingers between the soft bands that lined her cobra-like hood, and she shivered. I smirked, the interior of her hood was extremely sensitive, she liked me to trace the outer rim and the space where it joined her neck with my fingers when we fooled around. I knew how to push her buttons and she was especially vulnerable right now.

I caressed the spongy flesh under her hood, the same soft, white material that made up her underbelly. She grumbled and shuddered, a muscle spasm rolling down the length of her body to the tip of her tail. I ran the tip of my finger along the skin where her hood met the delicate scales of her neck, and she purred, her eyelids drooping as she ground her wide hips against the couch beneath her. She seemed to come to her senses after a moment of being lost in the sensation, and glared at me with her amber pupils.

“Hey, I can let you do it yourself if you’re gonna be like that.”

She exhaled a sigh, and flared her hood to allow me easier access. I pretended to be feeling around for shedding skin, but I was merely teasing her, tickling her erogenous zones. Her juices must be flowing by now, it wouldn’t surprise me if her genital slit was open beneath her scaly rump, soaking the cushions underneath her as she tried to hide her arousal. I pinched the rim of the hood, eliciting a gasp and a shiver from her, and she reached up to bat my hand away. I stifled a laugh, and returned to the task at hand, rolling the growing ring of dry skin down her neck. She wriggled and squirmed as I reached the base, pausing above her shoulders. She was lying on her belly, her ample breasts squashed beneath her considerable weight, but we were going to have to pass by those too. I would have to trace every contour of her body with my hands, and she noticed me smirking at the prospect.

I stroked the line of her spine with my hand, again making a show of feeling around for peeling skin as I took every opportunity to tease her and indulge my own desires, as much as my frustration had grown over the last couple of days. I rubbed her shoulders and she sighed again, enjoying the massage despite herself. I wouldn’t be able to peel away the arms in a complete section, I realized, and so I tore a section away at the shoulder, like a sleeve. She extended her left arm for me so that I could tug the skin down, turning it inside out and rolling it down to her fingers. It stuck to her claws before breaking away, and I held the ghostly sleeve in my hand, examining it. It was so light and transparent, the elegant patterns that her scales created were printed on it like stamped leather. I did the same with the right arm, though she refused to lie on her back to give me easier access. When it was done she scratched the few spots where a few flakes had remained, visibly relieved.

I realized that it was going to take a while, we had been here for a good ten minutes already and we were only at the shoulders. I continued where I had left off, pulling the skin down her slender back, tracing the dimple of her spine with my fingers as I went. She was so strong, her back and shoulders were detailed with taut muscle that protruded beneath her doughy fat layer to give her the definition of an athlete. I could feel muscle running all the way down her back to her rump. The skin snagged about half down her back, and she shifted unhappily.

“I have to get at your front too, or it won’t come off, roll over for me.”

She hissed her displeasure, and I gave her springy ass a light slap, my hand clapping on her round rump as she grumbled and began to shift. She turned on her side then collapsed onto her back, her heavy breasts doing an admirable job of retaining their firmness, even as gravity fought for possession of them. They were larger than my head due to her exaggerated size, and to this day I was unsure of the purpose they served. I knew that some reptiles on Earth birthed live young rather than laying eggs, but I had never heard of boobs on a reptile. Regardless of her strange alien biology, her pink nipples were engorged and erect, protruding through the protective scales that usually shielded them. I noticed that she had twisted her lower body away from me in a futile effort to conceal her inflamed loins. She wasn’t fooling anyone.

I stroked the base of her neck and shoulders, miming trying to find the break in her shedding hide, but taking the opportunity to caress the glass-smooth skin above her breasts. The scales on her pale underside were so imperceptibly small that without closer scrutiny they felt like human skin. I resisted the growing urge to place a sucking kiss at the nape of her slender neck and initiate a fight that would surely end in rough sex, instead biding my time. She had been in a sour mood since we had argued over the Mutons, and I knew she was just as frustrated as I was. If I played my cards right I could break her resolve and have her initiate the frantic make-up sex that I could feel brewing, and absolve myself of any blame after the fact.

She wasn’t stupid, she knew exactly what I was doing, but that was the beauty of the unspoken language we shared. I could always tell what was going through her head, and she could read every blush and lingering glance as if they were lines of text on her tablet screen. We were both excited and wanting, playing a game of chicken to see whose resolve would crack first.

I slid my hands down to her ample chest, dragging the skin behind them almost as an afterthought as her wide hips rolled in response. I passed over her mounds, almost as large as basketballs, their pliant surface yielding beneath my fingers. Like kneading dough I sunk my fingertips into the cushiony fat, inviting and velvety, the firm breast tissue beneath rising up to meet them as she pushed her chest out and her back arched off the couch. Her eyelids fluttered and she loosed a low sigh, if she had thighs she would have been rubbing them together. I slid my hands down her chest, curving them to cup her boobs and test their weight in my palms, ensuring that my fingers glanced her tender nipples. She glared down at me, her eyelids drooping, as much barely contained lust as anger now.

I tugged the layer of shedding skin lower, arriving at her taut belly, her bulging abdominal muscles protruding from beneath her chubby fat as she twisted and flexed them in response to my questing touch. She had an hourglass figure, with a pinched waistline that flared into wide, child-bearing hips, or perhaps egg-bearing? I wasn’t sure yet. I followed the defined abs on her belly with my digits, saliva pooling in my mouth as I resisted the urge to press my face against them, feeling their firmness as she wriggled in response. Her muscle flowed like a liquid, coursing through her powerful body, at once hard and acquiescent.

My erection strained against my clothing now, sore and aching, but I doubted she could see it below the bulk of her body. I roamed down to her hips, sliding my palms over her voluptuous curves, digging my fingers into her rump and trying to turn her over. Realizing that she couldn’t hide her arousal any long, she huffed with insincere displeasure and gave in, shifting her weight as the couch springs creaked beneath her. She turned her groin to face me, the scales that concealed her genital slit were splayed open, exposing her glistening pink flesh. Strands of her thick juices leaked free, her familiar musky scent rising to my nose. She turned her snout up at me, trying to maintain an air of aloofness, but trembling with arousal beneath my hands.

If she thought I was going to make the first move, she was wrong.

I dragged the growing roll of patterned skin down to her pubic mound, glancing the erogenous zone with my fingertips as I gently peeled the smooth bulge, her abdominal muscles clenching attractively a short distance above it. A few beads of sweat decorated her waxy skin now, catching the light that seeped in through the still grimy windows, and I could feel the heat that radiated from her. She was feverish, her breasts bouncing softly as her breath came in labored gasps, her excitement dripping from her twitching hole. She propped herself further up on the armrest to allow me access to more of her body, resting her elbows on it and letting her ample chest hang heavily, nipples hard and swollen. She watched me with a lurid expression, chewing softly on her puffy lower lip with her toothless jaws.

I skirted around her genital slit, feeling the warmth coming off it, almost enough to burn my fingers. I glanced her splayed labia, swollen and ready, and a shudder flowed down her body like a ripple on the surface of a calm lake. Her loins were quivering, moving with a life of their own as I slid my finger around her entrance, ensuring that I applied enough pressure for her to really feel it but never getting close enough to sate her mounting need. I could see her restraint cracking, it was apparent in her body language, it was all she could to prevent herself from plunging one of her fingers into her moistening tunnel as she strained against the impulse.

She was rolling her hips against my hand reflexively as I peeled the skin past her vulva, unconsciously seeking out more stimulation, apparently the surrounding scales were very sensitive and she bucked when I pulled the shed skin away. Her emission had dampened the skin around her groin, and it clung to the fresh scales beneath with heavy strands of clear liquid that broke away when I tugged. Her vagina itself had no skin to shed of course, and as I passed it and moved down to her thighs, it left a lemon-shaped window in the almost transparent sheet. I stroked her ‘thighs’ as I moved down, the muscles analogous to those of human legs shifting under her hide as I reached the base of her long tail. She lifted her body to help me as I traveled down the length of her coils, trailing off the couch and almost out of the room. She pulled her dexterous, almost limb-like tail in the opposite direction to ease the shedding, she did most of the work as I held it still and she sloughed out of it. After a few minutes I was left standing with a Viper-sized pile of shed skin heaped on the carpeted floor.

Vi stretched, undulating her long body and raising her arms above her head. She scratched off a few remaining flakes of skin from her belly and rump, then stood on her tail and turned to admire her fresh skin. She was radiant, each individual scale reflecting light like a cut jewel, she preened and crooned happily. I caught her glance as her yellow eyes met mine, a familiar sultry expression on her face. I felt the tip of her long tail coiling around my ankle, and before I could react, she pulled my foot out from under me and dragged me across the ground towards the couch. I was hefted off the floor, and she caught me in her fat coils like someone snatching a baseball from the air, crushing the breath out of my lungs as she wrapped me like a hotdog in a bun. A shiver ran down my spine as I felt her pointed claws massage my scalp, my arms were trapped by sides and she was too strong for escape to be an option. I looked up at her, swallowing hard as she fixed her predatory gaze on me, a smirk spreading across her thick lips.

“Hey … no hard feelings right?”

She tightened her body around me, the firm muscle within squeezing me almost painfully beneath the layer of cushioned fat, and she huffed with amusement as I winced. Yeah yeah, she could constrict me until my head popped like a grape if she wanted to, but that wasn’t her M.O. She enjoyed the chase, perhaps a throwback to her carnivorous ancestry, and a pulse of mild fear stalled my heart as I considered that she could get pretty rough when she wanted to. She had never hurt me, well, not seriously. But I had teased her, she had a devious glint in her eye now, and my breathing began to quicken as I realized it was going to be one of ‘those’ encounters. It excited me more than I cared to admit, and my erection betrayed me, pressing against her newly burnished scales.

She hooked one of her claws into my collar and tugged it slack, exposing my shoulder as my face reddened and I started to squirm in her grasp. I wasn’t seriously attempting to get away, but like a cat with a mouse she enjoyed it, and it only fed into her voracious sexual appetite.

She struck suddenly, and I felt a flare of burning pain in my shoulder as she plunged a far more significant length of her hypodermic fangs into my flesh than I was used to. I yelped, my writhing now genuine, and she lingered there as a drop of blood rolled down my chest to stain the shirt beneath. It stung, and just as it started to become unbearable she withdrew, retracting her fangs and gazing down at me. I twisted my head to see the wound, two punctures, deeper than was reasonable for a playful love bite.

“What the hell Vi…”

My head swam suddenly, the room spinning, and with a start I noticed a droplet of green venom leak from one of the bite marks. What the fuck, had she poisoned me? Why would … she…

She huffed from above, laughing at me as my face began to burn and a strange heat coursed through my veins. I would be dead right now if she had delivered a fatal dose, so what was this? Why did I feel like my fingertips were tingling? Why was I so fucking hard? My throbbing erection pressed almost painfully against her coils, and she held me steady as my legs started to weaken.

“Vi … what did…” I was having trouble formulating sentences, the words muddling on my tongue. She reached across and lifted her tablet from the coffee table beside the couch where I had put it down, tapping at the screen with a smug expression.


“Punish? What … are you…” She had administered a microdosage of her venom then? An aphrodisiac? No that was ridiculous, but a hallucinogen? That was a very real possibility, I knew of frogs whose poison could produce a kind of ‘high’ when ingested, and cobra venom was reportedly used as a hallucinogen in India. How did she know how much to administer? Was this something her people did recreationally?

I shuddered as a wave of pleasure rolled through my body, buzzing like electricity, and my eyes blurred as Vi’s silhouette loomed over me. I felt slow, lethargic, yet more aroused than I could stand. What was this venom doing to my system? Every beat of my heart felt like it was pushing magma through my veins, yet my senses were heightened, I felt as if her warm breath in my hair might be enough to bring me to orgasm.

I felt ill, but also amazing, phenomenal. Damn it, my brain was boiling in my skull, I couldn’t make sense of the stimuli. The room shifted back and forth like everything was off-kilter, the colors bleeding into eachother like a watercolor painting subjected to rain. I felt Vi’s claw draw a circle on my cheek, and suddenly it was all there was, as if the world had dropped away from us. The sensation was so amplified and so ‘loud’ in my brain, like my nerve endings had been boosted, and I felt an electric shiver roll down my spine.

Vi’s fangs pinched my ear as she leaned down to chew, piercing through my haze of confusion and arousal like a bolt of lightning. I heard myself gasp, but I felt as if my body was acting of its own accord, my conscious mind merely a spectator in the scene that was playing out despite me. The heat was becoming unbearable, my nerves were on fire, my fingers and toes tingling uncomfortably as the venom did its work. What exactly was it doing? Hallucination, partial paralysis, what were the effects?

I winced as Vi’s teeth pricked my skin and her long, sinuous tongue wound its way into my ear, slippery and warm. My erection was raging, my hips thrusting against the soft meat of her coiled body that still bound me as some primal reflex took the reigns, she blew warm breath in my ear and chuckled at my struggling.

She crawled her fat lips down to my neck, pressing her fangs against my jugular, not deep enough to break the skin but with enough force that it made me squirm in her grip. I felt her tongue sneak out of her mouth to taste the sweat that was starting to coat my body, dragging the smooth, hot organ across my skin. She pursed her lips and left wet, sucking kisses as she proceeded lower, nibbling at my shoulder, her scaly hand sneaking around my neck to compress my throat gently. I felt oddly vulnerable, and on some level that excited me. My eyes closed and my head lolled backwards to rest on one of her waxy coils as her grip tightened and she choked off my sigh, her other hand slipping under my shirt, her claws scraping down my chest.

I wouldn’t have been able to resist her if I had wanted to, I was aware of some mild paralytic effects through the fog that clouded my mind, I could feel my limbs but they were weak and unresponsive as if I had been sleeping on them. I was shivering, but I was unsure if it was excitement, or some other effect of the toxins that she had pumped into my body. I tried to speak but I couldn’t formulate the words, and her grip on my throat was tight enough to stifle me.

She dragged her claws down my belly, sliding her fingers under my waistband and gripping my pulsing member in her cool hand. It was beating like a second heart, as stiff and sore as I had ever felt it, and her touch sent a jolt of electrical pleasure coursing up through my beleaguered body to flare in my head like a blinding light. The intensity of it was almost intolerable, and I sucked in a gasp of air despite the fingers that closed around my neck. Blurred colors began to dance before my eyes as she started to stroke up and down, pulling back my foreskin so that my tender glans rubbed against the cotton fabric of my underwear. My hips thrust into her hand, but her grip was loose, and she denied me the relief that I sought.

My body was coated in a veneer of sweat, it was soaking my shirt and my underwear, I was burning up. I could hear my blood pumping in my ears and my heart pounding in my chest, as if her venomous kiss had sent my entire vascular system into overdrive.

“Vi … I can’t…” I managed to whisper, and her hand left my neck to cradle my red cheek in her palm. She leaned her head down and pushed her oversized lips against mine, her tongue worming its way into my mouth. Multicolored stars drifted across my vision as the organ roved and twisted, filling my head and bulging my cheeks, the tang of her metallic saliva tickling my taste buds. Every glance of her tongue set my mind fizzing, I felt as if someone had replaced my brain fluid with cola, and I leaned into her in a vain attempt to meet her kiss with my own woefully inadequate example. Lubricated by her copious drool, the long, thick organ pushed deeper into my gullet, my throat muscles fighting the intruder as she gripped my face in her hand to keep me steady as the sordid embrace dragged on. The impossibly deep and violating kiss made my eyes water, and she withdrew a little as I began to choke, returning the tapered tip of her winding tongue to my mouth where she painted it across my palate and tasted the lining of my cheeks. God this wasn’t a kiss, it was a sex act, wanton and base. A string of her thick saliva escaped our locked lips as she ravaged me, dripping to my chest, and her sinewy tongue curled around mine to wrestle with it. The two slick muscles battled, Vi’s breath hot on my face, the sound of her wet smacking filling my ears from the inside.

She didn’t stop her stroking, running her fingers up and down the shaft of my cock, tracing the bulging veins as my now tainted blood coursed through them. It felt so good, my fear and uncertainty mingling with the crippling, overriding pleasure that wracked my body. She pushed into my throat again, her tongue curling and teasing, it was like trying to swallow a live snake. I arched my back, and she squeezed my erection, my groan muffled by her puffy lips. My vision was blurry and out of focus, my surroundings still swaying and shifting drunkenly, all I could really see were her amber eyes peering at me intently as she subjected me to her invasive kiss.

Finally she withdrew her tongue, rolling it back into her mouth, breaking away with a wet pop to look down at me with a satisfied expression on her face as I squirmed beneath her heavy coils. Punishment my ass, she was loving every second of this, I twitched as she caressed my burning face with her pointed claws. She started to jerk me more rapidly, her pace hastening and her grip tightening as I began to buck and writhe in response. Damn it, why did this feel so good? The venom was fucking with my brain, I couldn’t think, the sensation was drowning out my consciousness like the cacophony of a crowd at a concert. All I could do was react to her cruel touch, what little resolve I had left melting away as I began to pant like a beast, much to her amusement. Her eyelids drooped as she watched me, seething with barely contained arousal, but unwilling to take full advantage of me until I had been taught a lesson for teasing her.

My lip began to tremble as I felt an orgasm welling, her relentless stroking reaching a fever pitch and driving me towards sweet release. I could taste it on my tongue, see the colors of it as some kind of synesthesia set in, the damned venom scrambling my senses and crossing wires in my brain. She watched me with her yellow eyes, bold and clear in the blurred soup of colors and shapes, at once loving and merciless.

I loosed a sharp cry, feeling the spasms of my climax begin to tear through my lower body, but she closed her fist painfully around the base of my cock and cut me off. She stemmed the rising emission, driving a fresh wail from my lips, and I hung my head as she huffed at me and my orgasm receded.

Beads of sweat dripped from my face, falling to her shining scales, and I felt her fingers delve into my damp hair to stroke me apologetically. Her hard claws tickled my scalp, sending pleasant shivers down my spine, and I pushed against her despite myself. Did she want me to ask for it? To beg? Probably, but my body was under tenuous control at best.

“Please … more…” I heard myself whine, “I love it…”

I hadn’t intended to say that, who was … what…

She kissed me again, deep and greedy, and my questions fizzled out as fresh sensations flooded my mind. I felt her coils shifting around me, moving me downward, she was manipulating me in her tail with a dexterity and care that even now surprised me. I soon found myself completely cocooned, the chubby rolls of her scaly body encompassing me and blotting out the light. I saw colorful stars pepper my vision despite the darkness, almost like static on an old television screen.

Something wet and hot impacted my face, and I felt her steely abdominal muscles flex as my red cheek rubbed against her belly, the hard tissue protruding from beneath her smooth skin. I mouthed in my daze, running my tongue along their chiseled contours and biting her wide hip softly, tasting the salt of her sweat.

She rubbed her genital slit against my cheek, her puffy labia glancing my lips and her juices sticking to my face. I felt her hard clitoris press into my skin as she angled me towards her dripping loins. Still overcome with maddening desire, I plunged into her slick flesh, lapping at her vulva as I felt her body constrict around me in response. She shuddered and crooned, goading me on with a nudge of her powerful tail. I spread her thick lips with a trembling finger, barely maintaining control over my extremities as the venom addled my brain, and sucked her inflamed clitoris into my mouth. I teased it, holding it between my lips and running my tongue over its swollen surface, enjoying the twisting of her massive hips as she ground her sex into my face. I moved down towards her twitching opening, forcing my tongue between her undulating muscles, strong and tighter than her immense size would suggest. Her familiar copper taste flooded my mouth as her excitement leaked from her spasming entrance, and I felt my stiff, almost painful erection pressing into the soft fat of her tail that still imprisoned me.

There was something more though, she tasted … too good. The smell, the flavor, it was all twisting into a haze of colors and sounds, my brain short-circuiting under the influence of her hallucinogenic venom. She huffed with amusement, rubbing her thick coil softly against the bulge in my pants as I traced her folds with my tongue, her rhythmic thrusting and muscular contractions threatening to pluck it from my head as her walls undulated around it. I teased her for a while, sliding my tongue across her slimy walls, roaming deeper and driving soft vocalizations from her lips. She pressed one of her coils hard into my pulsing erection, and I groaned into her tunnel, which made her shiver and croon as the vibrations tickled her. I roamed back up to her clitoris and sucked it into my mouth, flicking my tongue over the hard flesh.

She grunted, and I felt the tip of her long tail sneak up my back to curl around my neck, forcing my face into her warm crotch. I worried she might strangle me in her fugue, but she didn’t grip me so tightly that I choked, keeping my head where she wanted it. The tapered end of it slid past my burning cheek and pushed its way into her tunnel below my mouth, penetrating deep inside her, and then began to thrust rhythmically. I understood what she was doing, and started to suck harder, playing my tongue over her engorged protrusion. She fucked herself with her own tail, hard and deep, her squirming and bucking reaching a crescendo as her viscous emission escaped to drip down my chin in hanging strands. Her hold around my neck was becoming tighter, and through the confusing haze of my arousal and the effects of the poison I felt a pang of panic, she wasn’t letting me breathe. The edges of my already bleary vision started to darken, then just as I felt as if I might be strangled, she came hard. Every muscle in her body tensed, her coiled tail crushing me in an iron maiden made of taut flesh, and I gasped as I felt her supple body jam against my erection.

She coated my face in a flood of sour fluid as she withdrew her tail, a rope of juice linking it to her quivering loins, convulsing as she rode out the waves of her powerful orgasm. She uncoiled from me, dropping me to the carpeted floor where I sat, dazed and unsteady as she convulsed. Muscles rippled up and down her long body as the climax tore through her, a strand of saliva escaping her lips as she wriggled, her loins leaking thick juices.

Finally she seemed to recover, looking almost as disoriented as I was, and her eyes fixed on me with a renewed intensity. Before I could muster a protest she swept me off the ground, placing me firmly on the couch and looming over me as she drooled. She was greedy, rapacious, she wouldn’t be satisfied with just that one orgasm. Sweat dripped from her skin, falling to my clothing as she lowered her hands and tugged them loose. I still had tentative control over my extremities, my limbs hanging almost limp as she disrobed me, rough and eager. She left me lying naked on the cushions, my skin tingling from the effects of her insidious venom, as if static electricity was collecting around my body. My erection was tall and proud, jumping gently in the air as my heart pushed poisoned blood through it, even the air felt like it was teasing my sensitive glans.

She placed her fingertip on the head of my member, making slow circles as my leaking precum lubricated her finger, a smirk crossing her lips as she watched me twitch. My breath grew ragged, coming in sharp spurts as she ran her fingers up and down my shaft, huffing softly at my reaction. I was in for it now, I thought, through my drunken haze. What did she have planned for me next?

She leaned closer, her snout blowing warm air into my hair as she hovered over me, her ample cleavage pressing into my face. The soft globes enveloped my head, the smooth, delicate skin wet with her sweat as it slid across my cheeks. Her scent filled my nose, sweet and musky, alien yet distinctly feminine. She cupped the back of my head with her hand, delving her fingers into my hair, and pulled my face into her breasts. They shifted and yielded, the doughy flesh molding around me as I sank into them.

I jerked as I felt something press against my erection, hard and slick, and I looked down between her heavy boobs to see her chiseled abdominal muscles rubbing against my throbbing cock. The bulging abs glistened, catching the light as her sweat glazed them in a reflective veneer, like wood polished to a shine. I could see beads of it dripping downwards, following the channels that her abs carved in her taut belly and wetting my member. She slid her hand up her tight body, moistening her smooth palm, then gripped my member and stroked it slowly. I pulsed between her fingers as her sudor made me slippery, then she placed her hand on top of my erection and pushed it against her stomach.

I bucked as her glass-smooth skin teased the sensitive underside of my glans, and she allowed it, letting me grind against her abs as her sweat lubricated us. I buried my face between her breasts and moaned into them, muffled by them as they rested heavily on my shoulders, Vi lowering her head on her sinuous neck to slip her tongue into my ear.

I arched my spine and thrust against her belly, her hand applying just enough pressure that my member could slide between her palm and her protruding abs, their defined bumps stimulating me. I felt her flex and shift them, the firm muscles seething beneath her burnished skin and her pliant fat, crooning in my ear as she sucked it into her warm maw. Her fangs unsheathed from the roof of her mouth just enough to nip at me, and I squirmed under her, her grip pulling back my foreskin and letting her slick scales rub against the tender tip.

She squeezed my member in her hand, painting my leaking precum on her abs, her slippery skin scouring my glans. I grated my teeth and closed my eyes against the searing pleasure, smelling the scent of her musk and tasting the salty sting of her sudor on my tongue. Her steely tissue massaged me as she rolled her hips and flexed, her cut abs playing up and down my shaft. She was so lean and muscular, like liquid metal as she tormented me, goading me into fucking her belly as my hips bucked reflexively.

She applied more pressure with her palm, grating those maddening abs against me and sending shocks of electrical pleasure up through my body, mouthing my ear as her tongue coated it in her saliva. I was overwhelmed, my body completely outside of my control as it twisted and thrust, desperate for more pleasure as my conscious mind watched as if from a distance. The fading heat of the venom still burned inside me, muddling my mind and amplifying every pinch and stroke.

She pulled me away from her chest suddenly, and I gazed up at her with my red face, no doubt with an expression more reverent than I would ever have allowed her to see under normal circumstances. Fuck … I was completely smitten, it was hopeless. She was beside herself with arousal, hardly maintaining any more control over herself than I was, then I saw her bare her long fangs again. They were like ivory needles, droplets of green venom pooling at their tips. I braced myself for another bite, my hear skipping like a record as I anticipated the pain, and the wave of crippling pleasure that would follow. God, I hoped you couldn’t get addicted to this stuff, whatever it was.

She plunged them into my shoulder, opposite to the first bite which was swollen and rapidly bruising now, and my spine curled as I loosed a wail of mixed pleasure and pain that what sense remained in my addled brain was ashamed to hear. She held my head in her hand, supporting me as I leaned back, shivering as I felt a fresh wave of heat spread from the bite to course through my body. She withdrew, lapping at the fresh wounds with her tongue, and a new flood of dizziness made my vision swim. My heart was pounding like a drum, my chest heaving as I panted, harsh pleasure creeping up my spine like molten fingers as Vi watched me and wet her lips with her pink tongue.

I tried to dig my fingers into the couch, but my hands were trembling too much, my muscles practically vibrating as she started to stroke me again.

How much more of this could I survive? Would I just pass out? I realized that I didn’t care, an odd, self-destructive desire to see how far she could push me tickled the back of my foggy mind and urged me to see it through.

The venom seemed to dull the ache in my shoulder as it spread through me, warming me like a shot of vodka warms the stomach, and I felt my renewed erection drive against her taut abs. Vi squashed my member against her belly again with her hand, leering down at me as I ground against her, the sensation now screaming through my nerves and making white spots drift across my vision. I was losing my mind, her smell, her taste, the sensation of her damp skin on my cock, my senses were all muddled and confused. I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t reason, all I could focus on war her.

She pressed me against the springy bumps of her abdominal muscles, crooning at me as I thrusted into her hand, feeling my orgasm begin to swell inside me and threatened to overflow. Her flat belly was coated in a mixture of her damp sweat, catching the sunlight and accentuating the contours of her six pack, and the emission that leaked from the tip of my cock as my excitement mounted.

She leaned into me, pressing me deeper, the ache in my engorged member worsening in response. A strand of her saliva fell into my hair as she loomed over me, watching me with an odd mixture of almost maternal care, and predatory cruelty. She wanted to do terrible things to me, but she expected me to enjoy every second of it, and I did. I felt her long, sinuous tongue slip out from between her smirking lips and worm its way into my ear, the wet sound sending a pleasant shiver down my spine. She seemed to want me to finish, and I complied as she crushed my cock against her rock hard muscles with her hand.

A crippling climax pulsed through me, like a seizure as my muscles cramped and drove my emission from my body in a spray of thick, ropy fluid. It splattered her abs, coating them in heavy strands of my cloudy fluid, clinging to her smooth skin. She watched it come with a sultry gaze, her eyes low and lascivious as she held me steady, enjoying the sight of me arching my spine and groaning as the venom added a kick to the raw pleasure that I had never experienced before. It came in great, wracking waves, my pelvic muscles clenching painfully and forcing out everything I could give her. My mind went completely blank, erased, my body thrusting and quivering like a directionless animal.

Tingling pleasure spread through my nervous system, joining the burning of Vi’s insidious poison as I came all over her toned belly.

My mind steadily returned to me, like climbing out of quicksand as I came to, watching my emission drip down her abs and follow the channels they cut in her skin as it seeped sluggishly towards her navel. She huffed at me, releasing my still twitching cock from he hand, globs of my fluid hanging from her long fingers.

It wasn’t enough…

The heat still coursed through me, interfering with my senses, spinning the room around me as Vi stood in place like some kind of monolith in the chaos of shapes and colors. I was still hard, I needed more. She placed her hand on my shoulder, her fingers pressing into the bruised puncture marks, sending an ache through my torso. She pushed me down into the couch, taking position on top of me, letting more of her weight lie on me than was necessarily comfortable. She released me and rested her hands on the headrest, her massive breasts hanging an inch from my face, and she maneuvered her hips so that her leaking loins were hovering over my erection. Was she going to start again already? I was still recovering from the last orgasm, the afterglow mixing with the high from the venom. I was still erect though, my cock aching and burning, begging for relief.

She rubbed her vulva up and down my shaft, my come still coating her belly. An obscene mixture of bodily fluids, sweat and juices, come and saliva lubricated my pulsing member. I was on fire, my blood boiling as she gripped my cock between her fingers and angled it towards her opening. Without a moment of hesitation she dropped the weight of her bulky body down on me, driving my member deep inside her, the forest of spongy papillae that lined her depths raking across my still sensitive glans. I bucked and yelped at the sudden stimulation, grunting like an animal as she slowly dragged me back out of her, the fleshy barbs clawing at my tender flesh like soft teeth. It was unbearable, the intensity of it darkening my peripheral vision as I gritted my teeth against it.

I glanced up at Vi, and she was leering at me from above, enjoying her power over me as a lascivious smile spread across her fat lips. She rumbled, the purring coming from deep in her throat, a sign of contentment. If she could speak I was sure she would be mocking me, taunting me and whispering obscenities into my ear that would send shivers of guilty arousal down my spine. For now her sultry stare was enough to convey how she felt about the small human that was bucking and writhing beneath her.

She lowered herself again, more slowly this time, the pleasure excruciating as the slippery walls of her tunnel gripped me. Even her fleshy walls were strong, her pelvic floor muscles undulated and massaged me, drawing me deeper as they strived to force another load from my aching loins. She was so wet and gooey, there was so little resistance that it would have been almost frictionless, were it not for the strength of her powerful grasp. She squeezed and milked, sending sparks through my brain and tremors through my beleaguered body as she wrung me like a dishcloth, watching my anguished expressions with her amber eyes from her perch atop me.

The venom still smoldered in my body, sweat pouring from me to coat my skin in a reflective sheen, my hair bedraggled and damp. My face was beet red and I couldn’t focus my eyes, my senses failing me as I squirmed and gasped under her weight.

She huffed, cocking her head at me with a pitying expression, and forced me deeper. Again the dripping head of my cock was drawn into the forest of unbearable barbs, scouring my sensitive skin like cruel fingers, and I let out a wail that she quickly silenced with her encompassing cleavage. The spines were soft enough that it didn’t quite hurt, yet hard enough to resist, driving pangs of pleasure that bordered on pain up through my body to muddle my mind.

“S-Slow down … I can’t…” I was surprised that I as able to articulate such a plea as her creeping poison turned me into a drooling toy, and she replied with a slow shake of her head. ‘No, I won’t.’

Again she rose on my member, lifting her wide hips off me, her chiseled abs flexing as the emission of my prior climax still clung to them. The suction of her oozing loins was powerful, seeking to trap me inside her, the muscular walls of her vagina gripping me like a fist. She raised herself above me on her powerful tail until only the twitching head of my cock was still lodged inside her, then paused for a few tormenting seconds as she enjoyed the sensation of it beating and pulsing. With a satisfied purr she slammed down again, taking me all the way inside her and crushing me into the couch.

The wooden frame creaked its protests, and the springs beneath the cushions made some worrying sounds as Vi’s immense weight forced the air out of my lungs. She held me there, lodged deep inside her, and rolled her hips as she ground against my member. It was maddening, the bristles of her depths chewing me like soft teeth and her massive breasts smothering me, sweat dripping from her burnished skin. Her smooth walls encased me in delicate, pink flesh, her viscous juices forced from her hole in thick strands by our coupling.

She rose again, and before I could catch my breath she once again let her weight fall on me, impaling herself on my aching member. I was so hard, so engorged that I felt the damned organ might split like a cooked hotdog, the venom she had injected me with driving me to new heights of arousal and sensation.

She was so tight, fucking me so slowly, yet with such strength. I started to feel what was left of my mind slipping away into a haze of intoxicating pleasure.

“I can’t t-take it,” I whined, through trembling lips. “Oh fuck Vi … you’ll break me.”

She hooked a hand behind my head, cradling it in her palm, then leaned down to press her fat lips against mine. Her thick tongue wormed its way into my mouth, slippery with her copper saliva, and it roiled in my head as her penetrating kiss sapped my strength.

She slid back up my shaft again, those maddening, flexible barbs gnawing at me. She broke away from her embrace with a pop, smirking down at me as the strand of drool that linked us broke to fall to my cheek. I heard the wood in the headrest of the couch crack as she gripped it, bracing herself, then hammered down on me again. She started to fuck me ardently, pounding me into the cushions as she rose and fell, the power and pace of her thrusts dizzying me. My legs were splayed to either side of her hourglass hips, my toes curling as I sank into the couch, her heavy breasts bouncing in front of my burning face as she rode me.

I gave in, letting the wracking pulses of raw pleasure wash over me, I felt as if what was left of my brain was steaming out though my ears. I could feel every minute quiver of her muscles as they clenched around me, slick and wet, and every time her torturous barbs scoured me they sent a fresh flare of harsh sensation coursing up my spine. She was relentless, fucking me like she wanted me to feel it the next day, rough and uncompromising. I found myself bucking to meet her downward thrusts, pushing myself harder and deeper, the ache in my twitching cock turning into a familiar urgency.

Her weight was immense, it was like having a small car bouncing up and down on top of me, she would surely have crushed me if she wasn’t being so careful. In fact, everything we did together required a great deal of care and attention on her part, even when she was fucking me into a quivering mess her apparent callousness was just for show. In reality she was measuring every thrust, restraining every bite so as never to actually injure me.

Making what use I could of my tingling hands, I reached up and wrapped them around her waist as far as they would go, clinging to her as my mind turned to soup. She forced a low cry from my throat on every slam, searing me with burning pleasure, her hips hitting mine hard enough to bruise. I was sore and exhausted, our combined sweat and juices making us both slippery and sticky. Her thrusting reached a new intensity, she rolled her hips, kneading me inside her with her powerful contractions and driving me against her slick walls. She seemed to be trying to scratch an itch deep within the reaches of her shivering body, gyrating her plump rear and grating against my throbbing shaft.

Shuddering contractions fluttered down her walls, and she clenched around me tightly, doubling over and burying my face in her bust as she started to come. Her orgasm pushed me over the edge too, her muscles struggling around me and flexing as if trying to drag me deeper. Her long body spasmed and twisted, her sticky abdominal muscles bulging as her loins cramped and the sharp pleasure spread through her. I sucked one of her hard nipples into my mouth, teasing the pink protrusion with my tongue as she climaxed, and she hissed in surprise. I joined her, my member flooding her guts with a torrent of my ropy emission, the hot load splashing against her quivering tunnel and seeping into her alien womb. She arched her long spine, her claws digging into the fabric of the headrest and shredding it like paper as a rumbling growl vibrated in her throat.

She kept moving, impacting my pelvis so hard that I thought it might break under the assault, milking my twitching cock as her iron muscles wrung more fluid from my body. Every throb of my erection was more overpowering than the last as I gave her everything I had, a profane concoction of her viscous juices and my thick seed sliding down my shaft as our violent union pushed it out of her.

We stayed locked together, a monstrous amalgamation of human and Viper, pink skin and yellow, patterned scales melding into a sweaty heap on the buckled couch. Again and again white hot pleasure overloaded my brain as another crippling aftershock rocked me, Vi’s massive body twisting and writhing as her own orgasm tore through her, a string of saliva hanging from her jaw as her eyelids fluttered and she gripped my hair in her fist.

Finally she sunk down into me, her taut muscles going limp, and her bestial growling tapering into a ragged panting as she recovered. We kissed again, deep and passionate, my afterglow causing every flick of her skillful tongue to send another euphoric shiver through my ruined body. I was tired and sore, muscles I didn’t even know I had hurt and the sweat stung my eyes, but I had never felt more satisfied.

As Vi coiled her long body around me, wrapping us in an obscene cocoon of our spilled fluids and nestling my head between her doughy breasts, the venom and exhaustion overcame me.

Chapter 8: Now Hiring

I swilled my third cup of coffee, cradling my head in my hands and groaning as Vi sat nearby with a smirk. My head was pounding, I felt like there was a chisel lodged in my brain, and my usual hangover remedies weren’t scratching it.

“We’re never doing that again,” I complained, and Vi huffed at me with amusement. I had slept for hours, the venom was not without its side effects apparently. The bite wounds had closed quickly and were now merely small, red punctures, but the bruises were sore. As much as I complained, the barely-remembered haze of mind-blowing pleasure had been the best I had felt in weeks, maybe ever. Shame the recovery wasn’t exactly a picnic.

I downed the gritty, bitter liquid and lay back in the kitchen chair, shielding my eyes against the sunlight that spilled between the curtains. It was morning already, Kadavy would surely be wondering where I was, and when we would be going to see the Mutons again. I still had to call the resistance contact in Topeka and the handyman too, damn it Vi, spoiling all my plans.

I waved in the direction of the landline phone, and she seemed to understand what I wanted, reaching over and passing it to me. I fumbled in my jacket pocket for the number I had taken down, and punched it in. It rang for a while, and I was a little worried that the line would be down and I would have to climb the grain silo again. After a couple of minutes a young man answered, and before long we had arranged transport and payment for all of the grain we could farm, and any other produce we could provide. It sounded like they were increasingly desperate. They had wanted to pay us in dollars, as the country was trying to return to the old currency, but I negotiated payment in useful supplies first. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust them, but in the chaos following ADVENT’s retreat it was a safer bet to trade for goods, at least for the time being. Perhaps in time we could transition back to the old paper bills, but right now I couldn’t guarantee that I could spend them anywhere.

I would have to drive out to pick up Kadavy on the way to see the Mutons, I could tell him the good news on the ride over. I finished off the coffee and stood, trying to compose myself.

“Come on Vi, we have work to do.”

“So they’ll send their own haulers?” Kadavy asked, bouncing in the passenger seat of the truck as we made our way down the dirt road towards the Daugherty farm. Thankfully he did not inquire as to my absence the previous day, nor why I was now sporting a scarf that was hardly suitable for this kind of weather. “The aliens used to send huge flying transport ships to cart the grain away, they could barely fit under the chutes.”

“I assume they’ll bring trailers,” I replied, “they didn’t really say.”

“Well, you did a good job kid, I figure I owe you another pig or two. If they hold their end of the bargain I don’t think food is gonna be a problem for a good while.”

“Well, now the real work begins, I have to learn how to operate a farm or I won’t have anything to sell. I’ll also have to convince these Mutons to come work for me, assuming they can even be taught and they aren’t mindless beasts as Vi claims so vehemently.” I hefted Vi’s unwieldy tablet in my hand, keeping my eyes on the dusty road. “Hopefully using this, we can communicate with them.”

“What is it?”

“A translator, Vi can’t speak English, she understands it well enough but her vocal cords just can’t reproduce the sounds. She uses this to speak when she has something she needs to say. I’m hoping I can also convert English to Muton.”

We arrived at the Daugherty property and pulled up beside the house, I turned off the engine and the three of us dismounted. This time only Vi was armed, she insisted on it. I instructed my companions to stay near the house as I walked out into the courtyard. The large Muton and two of his companions were already leaving the barn, walking over to meet me. They must have learned to recognize the sound of the engine. This time my hands were empty besides for the tablet computer, and the aliens came to a stop a few feet away from me, watching me with their beady eyes. The big one definitely seemed to be the leader of their small band, he watched me with his heavy brow, his beady yellow eyes peering out from beneath. He seemed to have the most elaborate tattoos as well, that must have some cultural significance. Were they medals perhaps? A status symbol?

I raised the tablet, and started to navigate the menus as Vi had demonstrated to me, hoping to high heaven that I didn’t accidentally insult their mothers by pressing the wrong symbol. I managed to get into the English to ‘whatever language these aliens spoke’ user interface, and was relieved to see an English keyboard pop up to await my entry.

“Here goes nothing,” I muttered, and began to enter a line of text. I knew from experience that the device worked best when it was fed simple words and phrases, and so I typed out ‘Hello’, and the device emitted an odd grunting bark. The aliens seemed taken aback for a moment, then the largest alien pounded his chest and returned a comparable burst of harsh, guttural speech. The translator also had a microphone and could interpret sound, though Vi had no use for the function as her English was very good. I waited for a moment as the computer did its work.


Excellent, it was working! I typed in another sentence, and the stilted exchange began to turn into a slow conversation.

‘We are friends.’


‘We offer help.’


‘Food, shelter, work.’

[MORE OF CARCASS?] By that I assumed he meant the pig I had presented to them.

‘More, and others like it.’

The aliens seemed to talk among themselves for a moment, and the translator had trouble picking out individual words. They appeared to come to a decision and the larger of the three began to speak again.

[WHAT WORK? NEGOTIATE] I wasn’t sure that they would know what farming was, or what it entailed, and so I tried to explain it as simply as I could manage. These were soldiers after all, they might have been enslaved by the Elders for their entire lives and never been exposed to whatever culture they originally belonged to.

‘Make food, sell food, share profit.’ I suspected that the reason they had raided our barns was because they were running out of food, and they had no knowledge of this planet or its people, they couldn’t grow crops or raise animals that they couldn’t even identify. Hell, most humans would have trouble homesteading even if you gave them a coop full of chickens and a bag of seeds then told them where to start. I couldn’t imagine how confused and hopeless these Mutons might be feeling, stranded on an alien world and cut off from their support network. They couldn’t go to anyone for help either, I had seen the violence and the reprisals in the population centers. Most people wouldn’t be aware that many of the aliens species of ADVENT had been enslaved or coerced, much as the Elders had tried to do to us, and would potentially attack aliens on sight.


Sounded like they wanted to see the farm, was that wise? I looked back towards the house where my companions were watching from cover, they probably couldn’t hear the conversation from all the way over there. Oh well, they already knew where our farms were and they hadn’t been back to raid them since, it should be ok.

‘Good. We return with vehicles.’

The largest Muton thumped his chest, and the ones flanking him followed suit. I mimicked the gesture and they seemed satisfied, turning back towards the barn. I backed off, and returned to the house, where Kadavy waited with baited breath.

“Well? What did they say? Did it work?”

“Yeah, I think they understood. I told them we’ll take them to see the farm.”

“How are we going to transport them?”

“Well I’ve got my truck, you’ve got your old Ford pickup, let’s go back to your place and fetch it. They can sit in the flatbeds and we can drive them up to my farm.”

“Will they fit?” Kadavy asked, peeking around the wall of the farmhouse trying to get a look at the aliens as they entered the door of their barn. “They look pretty darned big.”

“There can’t be more than six of them, three per vehicle, it’ll work. I’ll drop Vi off at the house before we come back.”

Kadavy scratched his bearded chin, looking conflicted.

“I dunno, I feel like you’re being awful trustin’ of those things, are you absolutely sure about this?”

Yes, I’m sure,” I replied, nodding vehemently. “They don’t have any other options, they’re trusting us as much as we’re trusting them. This is how it has to start, a leap of faith.”

“If you say so,” Kadavy grumbled, “you’ve been right so far, I don’t see any reason to start doubting you now.”

We returned with the trucks, and the Mutons walked out to meet us. There were five of them in all, one less than I had estimated. I used the translator to encourage them to mount the flatbeds, the rear suspension on Kadavy’s old Ford sinking under the weight of three of the aliens. I took the apparent leader, the largest of the group, and one of the smaller ones. I felt a little vulnerable without Vi, but she hadn’t protested when I had asked her to wait at home, apparently I had made enough progress to convince her that the aliens weren’t an immediate danger.

We set off back towards my farm, the Mutons gripping the sides of the flatbeds with their massive hands for stability, bouncing as we drove along the uneven dirt tracks. Damn the things were heavy, I had to be careful turning, they were decreasing the traction on the front wheels. The ride seemed longer with nobody to talk to, and eventually we passed the unkempt cornfields and turned onto my property. I expected Vi to be waiting for us, but she was nowhere to be seen as we pulled up to the house, and the Mutons dismounted. Kadavy hopped out of his truck and made his way over to me, his three Muton passengers in tow.

Vi’s absence was starting to grate at me, they were going to be living on the farm with us, she would have to deal with them eventually. She couldn’t just avoid them for the rest of their stay here. Regardless, I turned on her tablet and took the Mutons on a crude tour of the property, showing them to the barn where they would be living. I wasn’t sure that living in a barn was ideal for them, or that they particularly enjoyed it, but they seemed satisfied enough and did not voice any complaints.

“I might as well skip a step and just teach the lot of you at the same time,” Kadavy mused, scratching his salt and pepper beard, watching the Mutons examine their new abode. “They look strong, they’ll make good farmhands if we can keep them under control and they can take instruction. Most farm work these days is done with machines, they aren’t exactly going to be pulling plows or tilling fields. The timing is right, as the winter growing season is starting soon, they can learn as they work. Show me what you have in your barn,” he added. We joined the Mutons and Kadavy explored the expansive structure, finding a tractor and various other machines that I didn’t recognize hiding under tarps.

He tugged one down with some difficulty, exposing a massive yellow vehicle with four wheels and a blocky chassis, on the front was a wide cab and a huge arrangement of cutting blades like some kind of deadly paint roller.

“Combine harvester,” he announced, slapping one of the massive treaded tires with his leathery hand. “Looks to be in good condition, probably not fueled, but you can borrow some and pay me back later.”

The Mutons seemed interested too, crowding around the machine, examining it. Did they perhaps have an affinity for heavy machinery? They seemed to like the harvesting blades on the front, which I had to admit was a little more alarming than encouraging. Kadavy revealed more machinery, plows that would be dragged behind the tractor, pesticide sprayers, even a trailer that would make bales of hay. He seemed to think that it was all in working order, apparently my family had stored everything I would need in the barn when they had abandoned the property after the war. I didn’t have the knowledge to make any inquiries as to their operation just yet, but seeing all of the farming equipment lined up and most of it ready to use filled me with a fresh determination. We could really do this, we had everything we needed, the only complication would be imparting the knowledge to operate the vehicles and to run the farm as a whole.

“I’m not gonna lie,” Kadavy grunted, leaning on the wheel well of the tractor as he examined the engine. “It’s been hard running the farm without workers, it’s doable, but far from ideal. If we can teach these aliens I could really use the manpower. We can plant wheat in this season, all of your equipment is in working order besides a few things like fuel and a couple of flats, I can take care of that. Spare no rod kid, let’s get these Mutons orientated and the crops sown. We can start at first light tomorrow.”

“Can you bring them some pigs when you come back?”

“Aye, I can do that. I have a feeling they’re gonna be worth the investment.”

We said our goodbyes and he returned to his truck, turning off down the dusty road and heading home. He would bring anything we needed when he returned the next day. The Mutons seemed happy for the time being, at least as happy as a Muton could look, their expressions twisted into a perpetual scowl by their low brows. The largest Muton stopped me as I left the barn, towering over me and blocking the door, his size and weight all the more apparent in his new proximity. I had never been so close to a Muton before without it trying to pull my limbs off.

“RUM-BA,” he declared, slamming a fist the size of my head into his broad chest with an audible slap. I lifted the tablet computer, but it provided no translation. He repeated the vocalization and gesture, cocking his heavy head at me. “RUM-BA!”

Oh! Was that his name? Roomba? Well, that certainly lessened his intimidating aura, being named after a novelty vacuum cleaner. I pointed to him, and repeated the name. “Roomba.”

I wasn’t sure that my pronunciation was accurate, but he seemed pleased, and moved aside to allow me to pass him. He closed the door behind me as I left and made my way over to the farmhouse, eager to see Vi again. She was waiting for me in the hall, leaning against a wall with her arms crossed over her chest.

“His name is Roomba,” I said, and she cocked her head, not getting the joke. “Oh, come to bed, I’ll explain it later.” She didn’t protest, and followed me up the steps to our bedroom. We seemed to have gotten over our spat, I could tell that she wasn’t happy about the presence of the Mutons, but she was no longer angry with me at least. In time I would show her, she would see for herself that I had been right when my reformed Mutons were driving tractors and combine harvesters through the fields. Until then, it was easier to just let the subject lie.

“They aren’t going to fit in the damned cab,” I said, watching with exasperation as Kadavy tried to push one of the smaller Mutons into a tractor. The cab was wide and tall enough, but the steering wheel came so far forward that a Muton just couldn’t fit behind it. We had cranked the chair back as far as it would go, but it still wasn’t enough. The other Mutons stood around looking confused, their arms crossed as the sun beat down on them.

We were out in one of my fields, the earth was unsuitable for planting and full of wild growth, and so the first task Kadavy had set for us was pulling up the weeds and tilling. The tractor would drag a plow behind it that would tear up and loosen the soil with its set of trailing claws, like the talons of some giant, metal bird. It would kill most of the invasive plants, too, it was a fairly simple job and the Mutons should be able to handle it. That is if we could actually get them into a tractor. I was sure that the aliens could pull the plow behind them, they seemed strong enough, but we weren’t operating a slave plantation here. We had all of the modern amenities and we were going to use them.

“You know what, fuck it! Tell him to pull it out,” Kadavy called to me. I raised the tablet, typing in the phrase, and the device blared a series of guttural calls. The alien scratched his bald head, and Kadavy mimed tearing the seat from the cab. The Muton looked to Roomba for confirmation, and the great alien nodded to him. He grasped the chair in his hands and braced one foot against the chassis of the vehicle, loosing a great grunt and ripping the seat out with a wrenching of metal. Bolts flew through the air, and Kadavy ducked under them, laughing as the Muton hurled the seat into the field.

“I mean, he’s gonna have to pick that up or it will trash the plow, but fuck me if these guys aren’t strong!” He urged the Muton up into the cab, and this time it squeezed inside, sitting on the rails where the chair used to be. It was in! Kadavy wiped his brown with his sleeve and climbed up beside the creature, beginning to demonstrate how the wheel and the pedals worked. There was a whole dashboard full of functions that would attach and detach trailers, raise and lower plows, all manner of things. For now we just needed to teach them was acceleration, braking and steering.

After a few halting starts, the Muton seemed to get the idea, and I used the computer to explain to him that he needed to drive up and down the rows. Off he went, the plow tilling the soil behind the tractor and tearing furrows as it turned over the dry dirt on the surface to reveal the damp, fertile soil beneath. Kadavy knelt to pick up a handful of it, sifting it through his fingers and revealing a couple of twisting, pink worms.

“This’ll do, the soil is healthy. When he comes back around, tell him to explain it to the rest of them, and make sure they know what they’re actually tryin’ to achieve. When they’ve done your fields they can do mine too.”

“Got it, so what happens next?”

“Well we need to till all the fields first, we’re turning over the soil to bring up the nutrients, that’s what the crops are gonna need to grow when we plant them. Once that’s done we have to water them and spray pesticides, maintain them, make sure they grow healthy and nothing damages them. Last phase of the operation is using the combine to harvest the grain and prep it for transport, at least those are the simplest terms. I got a silo full already from last season, but you’re starting from scratch. Grain seeds will last three or four years at a stretch and still be viable, but I have plenty in storage if the first crop fails.”

“Hey, I appreciate what you’re doing for me Kadavy, I won’t forget this.”

“Don’t mention it kid, to be honest you’ve been kind of a godsend. I’m an old man now, I’m not sure how long me and my wife could have kept operating the farm on our own without any outside help. We used to get seasonal workers but that all dried up when ADVENT was brought down. Your Mutons are gonna add ten years to my lifespan.” He straightened up and shielded his eyes against the sun, watching the tractor reach the end of the field and turn around, heading back the way it had come to till the next row along. “Well he hasn’t crashed it yet, so there’s that.”

I was suddenly aware that the other Mutons were standing idle, waiting for instructions, and so I called Roomba over and began trying to explain tilling in greater detail. Kadavy fed me the information and I did my best to relay it with the tablet, well aware of the limitations of the translation software. I was learning too, this was all new to me, and so I felt a certain camaraderie developing with the aliens as I tried to interpret Kadavy’s rambling.

As I had suspected these Mutons had no idea of what farming was, even the most basic concepts were a mystery to them. That suggested to me that they had been born and raised in a sterile environment, perhaps as disposable shock troops, and that they may never have set foot on a planet that they weren’t intending to conquer. Plants were a mystery to them, they had no frame of reference for fertilizer or growing seasons, no idea how grain was harvested and processed into something edible. It would all have to be taught, but they seemed eager to learn, this was the first purpose they had been given since the psionic network was silenced.

Vi seemed to have more common sense than these aliens, a knowledge base that fell more in line with what I would expect from a human, did that suggest that maybe her people were more recently inducted into the Elder’s army? Did she have memories of her homeworld, or like these aliens was she grown in a tank and bred only for war? Maybe Vipers were afforded higher status within the ranks of aliens, and thus were provided with a more comprehensive education? They certainly seemed to be rarer than Mutons on the battlefield.

I watched the tractor pass me and continue down the field, the driver was taking to the job well, they were going to do just fine.

By the time the sun had begun to set, both mine and Kadavy’s fields had been tilled, and we had scattered seeds using one of Kadavy’s machines called a Seed Drill. It attached to the front of a tractor, was loaded up with seeds, and then planted them at an even depth and spacing as it drove across the newly upturned soil. The Mutons had done a good job, each had been given a turn driving the tractor and they seemed to have gotten the hang of it. Only Roomba was too large to fit, but he seemed content to take on a supervisory role. It might simplify things to just go through him, rather than trying to teach them all at the same time, they seemed unwilling to take initiative without his approval. Had he been their squad leader, or was he some kind of tribal chieftain? I couldn’t communicate well enough to ask such specific questions, nor necessarily understand the answers.

Kadavy had rewarded them with two pigs, and they seemed satisfied with the transaction. He gave one to me for Vi as well, and I waved him off as he drove his Ford pickup along the road home, the Mutons returning to their barn with the pigs draped over their shoulders.

Vi chanced a glance outside today as she leaned out of the front door, staring down the Mutons as they lumbered across the dusty courtyard, her expression more suspicious than hostile. I was sure she would warm up to them in time, at least enough tolerate their presence. She greeted me and took the pig that I was dragging, taking it into the garage where she liked to prepare the meat for cooking.

I wondered if the Mutons cooked their food or not, did they even know how to cook, or was their food provided to them in some processed form by their captors? Might they become ill, thinking that they could eat raw meat? I should probably ask, in fact I had a better idea.

I flipped the pork on the grill as the Mutons sat around me beside the barn, resting on the ground, hunched over like shaved gorillas as they eyed the browning meat. Vi hovered a short distance away, coiled up in a fat pile as she sat atop the roof like a watchful housecat, drawn by the smell of the food but unwilling to take part in our multi-species barbecue. The Mutons seemed mostly indifferent to her, the smaller ones shot her a somewhat worried glance every so often, but Roomba sat confidently with his massive hands resting on his knees. I could almost imagine him smoking a peace pipe, I felt like I was catering some kind of Native American treaty ceremony.

I wasn’t sure if I should feed Vi or Roomba first, there definitely seemed to be a pecking order in the Muton tribe, but I somehow doubted that Vi would care what order she was fed in as long as she got her fair share. She seemed content to stay on the roof for now at least, and so I tossed a cut of pork to Roomba after letting it cool for a moment. He sniffed it curiously, then took a small bite, rolling it around in his mouth and tasting it thoroughly. I waited with bated breath, hoping that it was to his tastes and I hadn’t just ruined their hard-earned wage.

To my relief he swallowed the morsel, then surprised me by passing the rest of the meat around the circle to one of the smaller aliens, who began to eat ravenously. My assumption had been wrong then, Roomba was not an overlord, but a caretaker of his rag-tag band of exiles.

I handed him more pork with my tongs as it became available, and soon each of the Mutons had a share of the meat. I was sure the size of the portions I could grill wouldn’t be enough to satisfy them, it would take a while to cook all of the meat Kadavy had given us, but we had the time and I was enjoying the communal vibe of our little sit-in.

I beckoned to Vi, requesting that she come down for her share of the pork, and she gave the Mutons a wide berth as she slithered off the roof and circled around them. Like some kind of feral beast she snatched the hunk of meat from my hands and hurried back to her hiding spot, keeping an eye on the other aliens as she wolfed down her meal.

I didn’t partake, not that I had anything against a good rind of pork, but I preferred to stick to the canned food from the pantry and leave the more substantial meat to the aliens. I wondered if the Mutons were omnivores like humans, perhaps I should present them with a choice of vegetables or fruits when the money starting coming in, find out what their nutritional requirements were. They had not made any requests so far though. It occurred to me that humans seemed to be the odd one out, all of the ADVENT species that I had come across had been predatory carnivores, besides the ones genetically engineered or cybernetically enhanced, which didn’t really qualify as animals at all. Perhaps it made more sense to recruit (or enslave) only the most dangerous species, but it was none the less noteworthy. The idea of living in a galaxy full of predators was not an attractive one, could we claim the highest spot on the food chain when creatures like Vipers and Berserkers now roamed the planet?

The stars were coming out now, twinkling in the cloudless sky above us as the sun dipped below the horizon. I wondered what the ships in orbit would do now, what of the battleships that had threatened the Avenger so long ago? Were they up there drifting somewhere, their crews unable to pilot the massive vessels without the psionic network to provide them with instructions? Had they taken the opportunity to turn the great ships homeward?

For twenty years the aliens had occupied the planet, their presence had become a simple fact of everyday life, it was amazing what people could grow accustomed to. Now in an instant they were gone, and like ripping off a bandaid it was going to be painful in the short term. I knew that we would adjust, in time the world would recover and all of this would just be a chapter in a history book, another historical event for teenagers to pore over in some future classroom. In my mind that classroom was populated not just by human students, but Mutons and Vipers too, but perhaps that was overly optimistic. Only time would tell, and that was a resource we now had in abundance.

I decided to join the Mutons on the ground, and try to engage them in conversation, lifting the tablet computer and beginning to type as I sat cross-legged.

‘How did you come to be here?’

Roomba considered for a moment before replying, gnawing on a piece of meat with his wide, tombstone teeth.


Mind come? Voices silent? He must be talking about the psionic network, had he and his people been under constant psychic control then? Did they ‘awake’ one day, like emerging from a coma, into the chaos of ADVENT’s downfall? That must have been shocking, confusing, frightening. I typed another question into the touch screen.

‘Do you remember life before ADVENT?’


They were grown in tanks then, as I had suspected they had no experience of a terrestrial life. This species must have been conquered long ago, molded and changed to suit the sinister purposes of the Elders. They had obviously kept some aspects of their native culture, the tattoos did not seem like something ADVENT would have indulged, they were clearly decorative and probably had no practical purpose besides being cultural relics. Would this have been the fate of humanity too had we not succeeded? Would we have been molded and changed to fill a niche in ADVENT’s growing collection of unwilling soldiers?

A sudden guilt flooded me, dizzying me with its intensity. Every Muton I had killed had been an unwilling combatant, perhaps many of the other aliens too. We had been fighting a slave army. I tried to banish the intrusive thoughts, tried to rationalize that every alien we had killed had been in self-defense, and that when the opportunity had presented itself we had struck at their leadership with the precision of a scalpel. We could not have hoped for fewer casualties, and yet the idea was eating at me. The xenophobic fervor of my fellow XCOM soldiers now seemed in poor taste.

‘Are you happy here?’


A poor translation, but it sounded hopeful.

Chapter 9: Infestation

When the aliens were done eating and the pork was all but gone, the Mutons retreated into the shelter of the barn, and once they were out of view Vi slinked down from her perch and accompanied me back to the house. I didn’t press her on the issue of the Mutons, she would have to get over her prejudices on her own, it didn’t seem that she could be convinced of their benign intentions.

We got into bed, Vi throwing the sheets over us and trying to coil as much of her body beneath them as she could manage, huddling up to me for warmth. It would be spring in a few weeks, it still surprised me that wheat was planted in the winter. In a few months time the fields would no longer be barren plots of land, instead full of golden corn. I hadn’t seen them that way since my childhood, and I had to admit that seeing it again would fill me with nostalgia.

As I began to close my eyes, Vi’s breathing becoming deep and regular as she lay beside me, a sound started me awake. Vi heard it too, flaring her hood, her eyes glinting in the darkness. She shot out of bed, shouldering the plasma rifle she now kept beside the window, and flung the shutters open. I rose groggily, it sounded like something was happening in the barn. It had to be the Mutons, but what were they doing?

Vi was spitting fury, hissing and waving her long body back and forth like a cobra preparing to strike as she aimed her weapon.

“Hang on, don’t shoot the bloody Mutons, what the hell is going on out there?”

I knew what she was thinking, her fears had been confirmed and the Mutons were attacking us, but I had more faith in them than that. They had no reason to attack us, so what were they doing?

“I’m going down, cover me.”

She turned and glared at me, her eyes fierce, and hissed her disapproval.

“If you like it or not I’m going down to the barn to see what’s happening, you can come with me or you can stay here.”

I headed downstairs to retrieve my assault rifle from the cupboard, and Vi followed after me, knowing that her complaints would fall on deaf ears and that we were better off together. She flopped down the stairs behind me, her fat tail making the old wooden steps creak, and she readied herself at the back door as she looked tentatively through the window. I stacked up behind her, checking the magazine in my rifle and chambering the first round. I flicked the outdoor lights on then tapped her on the back, and we burst through into the courtyard, weapons shouldered as we scanned the gloom for movement.

The noise was coming from the barn all right, it sounded like a goddamned war was going on. Mutons were grunting and calling to eachother, there was the sound of splintering wood and an odd screeching cry that made my blood run cold for some reason. Where had I heard that sound before?

We moved forward, quick but cautious, until we reached the closed doors of the barn and prepared to breach them. I kicked one of the doors ajar and we stormed inside, our weapons raised as we scanned the interior. I had to hop backwards to avoid a rolling Muton, grappling with something on the ground, roaring in anger and pain. I couldn’t see properly, the only light was spilling through the door, inside the barn was gloomy and full of deep shadows.

“Roomba! What’s going on?”

I heard Vi hiss, and there was a flare of green from her plasma rifle that lit up the space like the flash of a camera, the scene illuminated for a fleeting moment like some nightmare polaroid. I remembered where I had heard that screeching sound, and why it made the hairs on my arms stand on end.


One had fallen where Vi had gunned it down, its insectoid carapace melting inward like slagged metal where the bolt of super-heated gas had hit it, its body covered in wicked spines and sharp blades, its limbs like serrated knives. One of the Mutons was wrestling another on the floor of the barn, pitting his monstrous strength against the writhing insect, its six limbs a flurry of stabbing daggers. He was covered in orange blood from abrasions, but he wasn’t down, and as I watched he tore one of the long legs from the alien with a guttural grunt. The flailing alien screeched as its syrupy ichor leaked from the stump, and it scrabbled with its forelimbs, trying to get at the Muton’s eyes.

The rest of the pack were scattered about the barn, battling with the creatures in the darkness, unarmed and fighting only with their fists. There was a hole in the middle of the floor, the damned things had burrowed up from under the ground, it was a goddamned infestation.

I aimed my weapon and began to fire, Vi following suit as the Mutons realized that the cavalry had arrived, trying to get some distance from the monsters that were attacking them to clear our line of sight. The Chryssalids had been difficult to control at the best of times, mostly deployed as indiscriminate killing machines when ADVENT sought to take out a particularly well entrenched resistance settlement, but now they were completely feral and running on animal instinct.

The chatter of gunfire was deafening in the enclosed space, the green and yellow light from our respective muzzle flashes painting dark shadows that concealed as much as their light revealed. One of the aliens charged at me, screeching and shaking its sharp spines like the rattle of a copperhead. Vi reacted faster than I could turn my weapon on it, whipping her powerful tail like a flail and throwing the creature away from me to slam against the far wall of the barn, the wooden slats cracking under the impact. We had to take this fight outside, they would overwhelm us in such close quarters.

“Pull back! Vi, tell them to fall back!”

She barked an order at them, would they understand her, were there some common commands their languages shared? Whatever she had said, they seemed to understand our intent, and Roomba rallied them as they scurried towards the exit.

We pushed our way back out into the courtyard, trying to get some distance from the barn as the Mutons ran for cover. They seemed ok, they were all here, though one of them was limping and seemed to be nursing a deeper wound on his arm. Roomba stopped at the exit, pounding his chest and roaring, then threw his considerable weight against the doors to slam them shut. Insectoid limbs pushed through the opening, slicing at him like chitinous swords, but he weathered the blows as he struggled to keep the two wooden doors closed. He glanced back at us, and loosed a rumbling call, I didn’t understand what he had said but his intent was clear.

“Firing line!”

I knelt and aimed my weapon at the door, Vi steadying herself, perched on her tail as she shouldered her smoking plasma rifle. Roomba held on for a few more second, his sausage-like fingers digging into the soft wood, splintering it as he struggled to keep the aliens contained. Their claws and sharp legs pierced the doors, stabbing at him and narrowly missing his head, and he finally threw himself aside. The doors were flung open and the Chryssalids inside spilled forth like a tide, their limbs flailing as they powered towards us, a dozen of them now illuminated by the lights from the farmhouse. We opened up, loosing a hail of glowing plasma and hot lead, cutting down those at the head of the pack. They lay limp where they fell, but those behind scrambled over the bodies of their comrades, red eyes glowing and sharp mandibles snapping in anticipation of sinking them into our flesh.

We loosed another volley, more of them falling to our gunfire, yet still they came. More were emerging from the barn behind them, were they coming from the hole? We couldn’t weather this kind of assault, there could be a whole hive of the damned things.

“Back to the house! Fall back!”

I started to walk backwards as I lay down suppressing fire, but these were not sentient creatures with a sense of self-preservation, they were driven by raw instinct and could not be so easily discouraged. Vi did not seem to be able to slither backwards, and so she paused every so often to fire her weapon as she pulled back. The Mutons realized where we were going and made their way to the back door of the property, Roomba helping the injured member of his pack along.

They reached the door before we did and struggled through the human-sized opening one by one, causing a holdup as me and Vi tried to cover them. The Chryssalids were closing in, a dozen bodies now lay between the barn and the house, but they flowed over them like water as they came at us. They were relentless, savage, but they were predictable as they made a beeline for us.

Vi ducked under the doorframe, then I felt her long tail wrap around my waist and pluck me off the ground, snapping me inside the house as Roomba slammed the door behind me. He heaved a nearby cupboard in front of it, scraping it across the hardwood floor and leaning it against the door. Not a moment later a forest of knife-like legs broke through the wood, scrabbling furiously as the aliens tried to gain entry. They threw themselves against the door but it wouldn’t budge, and Roomba began to stack more pieces of furniture to reinforce the makeshift barricade. Damn it, the other doors, the windows, we had to block all of them or we would be overrun in the cramped interior of the house.

“Vi! The other doors, the windows!”

She spun around, her eyes wide and her hood flared, and nodded. She called to the Mutons, pointing and gesturing, commanding them as I had seen ADVENT Vipers do on the battlefield. They obeyed, lumbering off into the house to complete their tasks. Could she speak their language after all? No, these must be common ADVENT commands, had to be. In a moment we had all regressed, the combat situation forcing us into our old roles.

I returned to the cupboard, rummaging through my old XCOM rucksack for more magazines and reloaded my rifle, stuffing spares into my pockets. If only the Mutons were armed, these Chryssalids would have a much harder time. Wait, there was at least one other gun, did the old shotgun my father used to keep over the mantle still work? Did we have shells for it?

I rushed into the living room, darting past one of the Mutons who was upending our couch and leaning it against a window. I pulled the shotgun down from where it was hooked above the fireplace, and checked that the barrels were clear. Good, it looked like it would probably fire if I could find some damned shells for it. I heard a smashing of glass and turned around to see the Muton struggling against the window, sharp claws piercing the couch an inch from his face. I slung the shotgun over my back and ran to his side, pushing the barrel of my rifle between the couch and the window, firing on full auto into the aliens who were trying to force their way in through the opening. There was a blood-chilling screech, then the claws that were embedded in the fabric of the couch withdrew, the Chryssalids outside scurrying around the side of the house to find another entry point.

I left the Muton to his task and ran deeper into the house, wracking my brain, trying to think of where my grandfather might have kept shotgun shells during his time here. The kitchen drawers? No. The pantry? Maybe. I was startled by the sound of gunfire coming from the other side of the house, Vi must have caught them trying to breach, she could handle it.

I burst into the pantry, knocking over cans of food as I searched for a box of shells. I cleaned the shelves, there was nothing but tins of beans and spam, fuck. Where else might they be? The attic? The garage? Double fuck, was the garage door closed? Probably not. Adrenaline coursing through my veins as I made my way to the garage at a sprint, accessible via a door to the farmhouse, or from outside. I flung the door open, seeing the truck parked inside, and the garage door raised. As if on cue two Chryssalids rounded the corner of the house and saw the opening, chirping and beginning to scurry towards me. I steeled myself and banished the urge to retreat back into the house, charging forward and slamming my fist down on the door control. There was a mechanical creaking as the automatic door began to lower, but the aliens were too close, they would enter before it closed. Cursing, I kneeled and fired off a burst, cutting the legs out from under one of the aliens. It fell on its face and lay motionless, but the second continued forward.

Too late I realized I had emptied my mag, and as I fumbled in the pocket of my jacket for a fresh one, the second Chryssalid slid under the garage door as it sealed behind the alien. It barreled across the room and slammed into the back of the truck, setting off the theft alarm, the truck’s lights flashing and the siren filling my ears as the alien rose and steadied itself.

My hands were shaking, I released the catch on the empty magazine and it clattered to the floor, but I couldn’t get the fresh one into the receiver. The Chryssalid flared its orange spines and came for me, my blood freezing as it extended its arms, reaching for me with its razor-sharp claws.

It was knocked clear off its feet, thrown against the far wall by a fist the size of my head. Roomba lumbered forward to stand between me and the alien as it struggled to its feet, his bleeding knuckles white. He raised his fists, taking a defensive stance as the Chryssalid spat and chirped at him, beginning to circle on its pointed legs. I jammed the magazine into my gun and chambered a round, raising it, but Roomba was in my line of fire. Before I could shout for him to move out of the way, the Chryssalid lunged at him with its talons, cutting a deep welt into his tattooed forearm. He weathered the blow, responding with a crippling punch to the creature’s head that sent it crumpling to the floor. He waved his hand, trying to dispel the pain as orange blood dripped from the abrasions in his skin, the alien’s chitinous armor having cut his fingers.

I stepped around him and put a couple of shots into its brain to be sure, and turned to give him a thumbs up. He didn’t understand the gesture, but he thumped his chest with his good hand, grunting his triumph.

I checked that the door was sealed, it looked solid, they wouldn’t be able to get through here. I remembered why I had come, and ran over to the shelves at the back of the garage, trying to ignore the irritating noise of the truck’s alarm. I scoured the shelves, tool boxes, motor oil, rags, miscellaneous car parts, come on it had to be here. Yes! There, three boxes of shotgun shells. I snatched them up in my hands, pulling the shotgun from my back loading both barrels.

I called Roomba over and thrust the weapon into his massive hands, showing him where the triggers were. He nodded his understanding, and I handed a box of shells to him, shoving the rest into my pockets. He would figure it out, he was a soldier after all.

We returned to the house and Roomba left my side to help his Mutons secure the windows, judging by the rooms that I could see into it looked as they had blocked off all of the windows on the ground floor with furniture.

“Vi, second floor, let’s go!”

She slithered into view, darting past me and up the stairs, rallying the aliens behind her. I feared the old staircase would break, but it held as they piled up onto the second level, fanning out to find more windows to block. I had seen Chryssalids scale buildings, when they figured out that they couldn’t gain entry to the lower floor they would climb the walls. My fears were confirmed as the small window at the end of the hall was smashed, insect limbs poking through as broken glass showered the old carpet. I opened up with my rifle, sending the creature crashing to the ground below. A Muton tore the iron bathtub from the plumbing and smashed it through a dividing wall to block the opening, my heart sinking as I realized how long it would take me to fix all of this damage.

I heard Vi firing her weapon, it sounded like it was coming from our bedroom window. There was a distinctive crack from a shotgun too, deafening in the tight space, sounded like Roomba had figured out how to use the weapon. There were fewer entry points on the second floor, and it didn’t take long to secure them. The house was mostly made from stone, thus there was no way the Chryssalids might break through the sheer walls. Could they burrow under the foundation and come up from underneath the ground floor? Unlikely, the foundation was probably poured concrete.

I entered the bedroom, seeing Vi thrusting a dresser against the solitary window.

“We good, Vi?”

She nodded, the barrel of her plasma rifle glowing orange from the heat of the discharge. Well the immediate problem was solved, but we had created a new one, what were going to do now as the Chyrssalids surrounded us? Roomba lumbered into the bedroom, his shotgun smoking as he slotted a fresh shell into the barrel, his pack hovering behind him as they waited for instructions. I realized that they were all looking to me, Vi as well, did they expect me to take the initiative?

Maybe none of them were used to acting on their own, the Mutons had received psychic instructions every step of the way under ADVENT rule, even Vi had only been freed fairly recently and was accustomed to receiving orders from Central. It didn’t look like I had a choice in the matter.

“Ok, here’s what we’re gonna do,” I started, assuming that Vi would be able to convey what I was saying to the Mutons. “They’ve surrounded the house, and we can’t hold out forever, eventually they’re going to find a way past the barricades. We have three guns, so we’re going to each pick a side of the house. One of the Mutons will pull aside the barricade for a moment so that me, Vi or Roomba can loose a few shots and kill one of them. We rotate around the house, changing windows each time so that they don’t know where we’re going to hit them from. There’s no way they have more Chryssalids than we have bullets.”

Vi seemed to approve, and she relayed the information to the Mutons as best she could, Roomba barking orders to his pack as he checked his weapon. While they were organizing I made my way over to the Muton who had been injured by the Chryssalid in the barn, sitting alone on the carpeted floor. He was cradling his arm, orange fluid leaking between his fingers. I gestured for him to remove his hand and he did so, looking miserable as he showed me a deep cut, fat and muscle parted down to white bone by one of the Chryssalid’s many bladed limbs. I wasn’t sure what kind of blood loss qualified as dangerous for Mutons, but it didn’t look good. I headed off to the bathroom, ducking under the demolished wall that one of the other aliens had smashed my bathtub through. I rummaged in the medicine cabinet for bandages and whatever else might prove useful, then returned to where my alien patient was waiting.

I took his arm gently and stretched it out, the Muton offering no resistance, and sprayed the wound with an antiseptic. It must have stung, but he didn’t flinch. I began to unroll the bandages around his muscular forearm, trying to seal up as much of the cut as I could. Immediately his blood began to soak them, I needed some way to stem the flow. I thought for a moment, then hurried to the bedroom, retrieving one of my belts from the dresser. I knelt and wrapped it above the wound, tightening it notch by notch until it felt like it might snap, it was the best I could do for now. I would have liked to give him some painkillers, but that might be dangerous, I had no way to know how his alien physiology might have reacted to them. Oh well, it was all I could do for him for the moment, he was out of immediate danger.

“Ok, let’s do this.”

Me, Roomba and Vi took a remaining Muton each and headed off into the house, sticking to the second floor and picking a face. Vi slithered into the bedroom and took position beside the window that faced the barn to the South, I took the North face, where the bathtub blocked the window at the end of the hall. Roomba went to the East face of the house and vanished into the guest bedroom. I wasn’t sure if I should give the order to have everyone fire at the same time, or if it would be less predictable to have everyone take shots at random. Vi made the decision for me, the sound of plasma fire coming from the bedroom.

I gestured for the Muton to move the tub, and he gripped it in his large hands, tattooed biceps bulging through his green suit as he heaved it away from the window. I darted forward, scanning for movement in the darkness below, and spied a Chryssalid wandering along the bottom of the wall. I angled my weapon down and loosed a burst, catching it in the abdomen, it screeched in pain and surprise as it tried to flee. I hit it again, and it dropped, its legs twitching like a dying spider. Half a dozen of its fellows swarmed out of the darkness towards me and began to scramble up the wall, and I jumped backwards to avoid the bladed limbs as my Muton slammed the bathtub back into place.

“Good job,” I panted, “on to the next one.”

I heard two shotgun blasts from the guest bedroom, sounded like Roomba had bagged one too. There were only a handful of windows on the second floor, we would have to go downstairs before long, which would open us up to more retaliatory attacks by the Chryssalids. Nothing for it though, and I waved for the Muton to follow me as I made my way down the staircase to the ground floor.

More gunfire from above, more screeching from dying insects, the plan was working. Just how smart were Chryssalids when not under the heel of ADVENT? Would they wise up and start predicting where we would attack them from, or were they simply mindless animals now, capable only of reacting? I chose a window on the East face, a book shelf crudely leaned against it, and I pushed my rifle barrel into the gap as the Muton pulled it away from the wall.

The light from the house was cast on a Chryssalid, illuminating it as it charged at the opening from the gloom, claws outstretched and hissing like a demon. I emptied my mag into it and it faltered, slamming into the wall below the window and lying still. I pulled back as more of them swarmed, the Muton returned the book shelf to its place, pointed legs splintering the thin wood as they tried to get past the obstacle. I dropped the empty magazine and checked my pockets for a fresh one, three left now, I hoped it would be enough.

There was almost continuous plasma fire from the second floor, and I heard Roomba thunder down the stairs, heading off to another corner of the house as he reloaded his shotgun. We had to be thinning their numbers now, there couldn’t be too many of them left after the number we had killed, at least two dozen at this point.

We moved around the house, taking pot shots through the windows and mowing down the attacking aliens as they circled the building, trying to find their way in. They were definitely dumb animals, they had no response to our tactic other than to mindlessly swarm the windows whenever we appeared, never fast enough to catch us before the barricades were put back up. Roomba came to me for more shells, and I was down to my last mag when my Muton removed a barricade, and nothing lunged out of the darkness to attack me. I waved my weapon back and forth, assuming perhaps a surprise attack was coming, but none came. Similarly fire from other areas of the farmhouse had ceased, had we beaten them back? Had we killed them to a man, or had they retreated back into their hole beneath the barn?

I called for Vi and Roomba, and asked them if they had seen any more of the aliens, Vi shaking her head and Roomba responding with a negative grunt when she relayed the question to him. I was hopeful, but we needed to be sure.

“We have to check, form up, we’re going outside.”

We made our way to the front door and lined up, readying our guns as a couple of Mutons heaved away the debris that we had used to bar the entrance. Roomba went first, his shotgun raised, comically small in his giant hands. Vi followed after him, then me, spreading out to cover all directions with our backs to the house. There were piles of dead Chryssalids, some slagged by plasma, others peppered with puncture wounds from conventional ammunition. There were no screeches as more charged towards us, I couldn’t hear the telltale clicking of their chitinous legs on the walls or roof of the house.

“Move towards the barn, keep an eye out.”

We started to advanced, covering every angle as we made our way towards the structure. We made it to the large wooden doors without meeting any resistance, and Roomba shouldered one of them aside, stepping into the gloomy interior of the barn. It was empty besides for one or two bodies, killed by the Mutons before we had arrived. The hole was in the center of the dirt floor, barely wide enough for one Chryssalid to squeeze through. I leaned over the edge hesitantly, weapon ready should anything leap out at me.

There was nothing, they were all dead.

“We’re clear,” I announced, turning to face my comrades. “Hell of a job, guys.”

Roomba pounded his chest like a silverback gorilla and loosed a throaty bellow of triumph, Vi rolled her eyes at his display, trying to play aloof but obviously pleased with herself to my trained eyes.

“You know what, these things look a hell of a lot like crustaceans, think we can cook ‘em?”

As it turns out, Chryssalid legs taste a lot like lobster if you boil them in salt water for a couple of hours. I spent the next morning cooking a hearty breakfast of ‘Chryssalid à la Rochelle’. When I was sure they were well cooked, I wrapped them in a towel and smashed the tough exoskeleton with a hammer, revealing the succulent white meat within. Vi especially seemed to enjoy their soft texture, easy to swallow for her toothless jaws. There had been about thirty of the aliens in all, at least that was how many bodies we had recovered, I had enough Chryssalid legs in the freezer to last us weeks. It would be prudent to search the nearby forests and fields for stragglers, but that could wait for now. I had called Kadavy as soon as morning had come, worried that if he had encountered any of the aliens he might not have fared as well as we had. Fortunately he had nothing to report, and I arranged to share some of the take with him and his wife. He showed up in his Ford pickup, his wife riding shotgun, and joined us around the table we had dragged into the courtyard.

Five Mutons, three humans and a Viper, breaking the proverbial bread. In this case the role of the bread was played by giant alien insect limbs, but nobody seemed to mind. Vi appeared to have warmed up to the Mutons considerably, sharing food with them and sitting amongst them on the coils of her long tail with no qualms.

I had expected Kadavy’s wife to be afraid of the monstrous aliens, but she seemed perfectly at home as she sat beside her husband on a lawn chair, sharing stories of my grandparents as she took dainty bites of a gigantic Chryssalid leg. She was a demure woman, wearing a floral shirt dress, her hair the same color as her husband’s greying beard and a perpetual smile etched on her portly face.

The weather was turning warmer now, spring creeping up on us, and soon the crops we had sown would be sprouting. The origin of our communal meal was a topic of conversation, where had they come from, and would there be more of them? Kadavy suggested building a fence around our properties, but I explained that the aliens had come up through the ground, and could burrow under any defenses we erected. Somehow I doubted we would see more of them any time soon, they must have escaped the cities as a group, maybe driven away by the fires and fighting. Alternatively, perhaps a small number of them had left the nearest population center, preying on local fauna in order to incubate more Chryssalids and reach the numbers that we had seen the night before.

The injured Muton was still unsteady, but I had replaced his sodden bandages with fresh ones and had found that his wound was healing rapidly, perhaps some miracle of ADVENT gene modification. It looked as if he would make a full recovery with no stitches or hospital visits necessary, still I would insist that he took it easy for a while and ensure that he ate well while he healed up.

We spent a good few hours eating and chatting, Vi’s tablet computer sat in the center of the table, struggling to translate what was being said. It did a poor job, it’s software overwhelmed by the multiple conversations going on at once, but it at least gave everyone some idea of what the other species were saying.

I couldn’t help but feel elated, this was exactly what I had envisioned, the freed races of ADVENT living and working alongside humans. Sure this was a microcosm, but I was certain that if we could achieve this on a small scale, then the same principles could be applied to society at large. Convincing people who were so fundamentally different and who had such an adversarial history to take the first step was the hardest part, but while we weren’t holding hands and singing songs, we were able to live and work together for the benefit of everyone. Vi caught me beaming, and shot me a sarcastic look, but the neutral position of her hood betrayed how relaxed she was. She was enjoying this too, our disagreement over the Mutons apparently forgotten, her respect and acceptance likely earned through their trial by fire.

Chapter 10: Coming Together

The summer sun beat down on the golden fields of wheat, wafting gently in the cool breeze, like an ocean extending as far as the eye could see. The crops had come in nicely, and now the Mutons were hard at work harvesting them, a tractor pulling a trailer beside a giant combine harvester as it disgorged the grain through a pipe that extended from the side of the machine. As I watched the tractor broke off, its trailer full to the brim with produce, turning away to take its load to the grain silo back at the farmhouse. Two of the Mutons were performing the same tasks at Kadavy’s farm as per our agreement, the old man was happy to be able to put his feet up for once, the aliens had really taken to the work and were doing an excellent job.

Renovations to the farmhouse were ongoing, I was doing most of the work myself, though the handyman Kadavy had recommended had visited to repair the plumping and electrics. The face he had made when he had seen three of the Mutons along with Vi sitting around the table in the courtyard as they ate the remainder of the Chryssalid legs still made me chuckle.

Living with aliens was kind of like owning a big dog. People were initially afraid, but once you assured them of the animal’s good nature, their fear turned to curiosity and before long they found themselves playing fetch with him.

The harvester reached the end of the field and turned, the giant blades spinning in the air as it came back around to carve another furrow through the sea of wheat. I couldn’t help but smile at the absurdity of it all, my life had come full circle, in spite of an alien invasion I had somehow ended up back at the farm where I had been raised. It must be my destiny.

As the combine harvester drove away from me, I straightened the wide brimmed hat I was wearing, Kadavy’s style rubbing off on me. It was a nice day, the midday sun was scorching and there was little shade in the fields, but there was a cool wind that soothed the skin. Maybe I would leave the pickup here and walk back home, it was nice to take a few moments every now and then to appreciate nature. This was part of what we had fought to save after all, not only the human population of the planet but the very ground we trod on.

I set off down the dirt path, my boots kicking up dust as I made my way in the direction of the farmhouse. I knew the area fairly well by now, there was a small patch of woodland on the way with a pond. Perhaps I would stop there for a while to enjoy the shade that the trees provided, perhaps dip my feet into the water. Vi wouldn’t miss me, she had been pretty bored since we had settled at the farm, she was suited to combat and her alien physiology prohibited her from joining in on most of the farm work. Giant snakes just weren’t suited to driving tractors. Recently however she had taken an interest in decorating the house and converting certain rooms to better suit her, she was going to live there for the foreseeable future and so I didn’t complain when she made modifications.

I chuckled as a memory of her wearing an apron and reaching up on her tail to paint the ceiling of our bedroom flashed through my mind, she was becoming quite adept with a paint roller.

I walked for a while, enjoying the peace and tranquility, I felt like I retiree at times like this though I was far too young to qualify. As I rounded a corner I spied the trees surrounding the pond in the distance, casting an inviting shadow beneath their verdant branches.

I arrived beneath them, placing a hand on one of the rough trunks, the bark covered in green moss. The branches waved over my head, the leaves rustling as the wind blew them, and I made my way deeper until I reached the small clearing. The pond was clear and pristine, reflecting the azure sky and the clouds that hung above it, giving it a mirror-like quality. There were almost always ducks in this pond, though I couldn’t see any today, no birds in the trees either. Maybe it was just too hot for them. I approached the edge of the pond and slipped off my boots and socks, danging my feet into the cool water. It was soothing after walking so far, and I watched the dragonflies skirt across the surface of the pond, landing on the water weeds to mate and feed. The pond was fairly deep, probably enough that I could stand waist, or maybe chest deep in it. I would have to bring a packed lunch next time I came this way, perhaps I could bring Vi for a picnic, would she appreciate walking getting in the way of her dinner?

I sat for a while, the grass soft beneath me and the water cool on my toes, the sound of the rustling trees serving as relaxing background noise. I might fall asleep if I wasn’t careful, better head off home soon. As I began to get up I heard a sound in the trees, not the wind or a bird, but something larger and heavier. Suddenly I missed the comforting weight of my rifle over my shoulder. It couldn’t be a Chryssalid, we hadn’t seen any for months now, and they weren’t ambush predators who stalked their prey. I waited with bated breath, straining to pick out the sounds amongst the rustling of the branches. I was encircled by trees, the sun casting dark shadows that would conceal anything that lurked within their boundaries, open to attack from any direction.

Quick as a flash something immensely heavy dropped from one of the trees, springing towards me faster than I could react and knocking me to the ground as it slammed into me. Something thick and muscular enclosed me like a fist, coiling around my body with its yellow scales.

“For God’s sake Vi,” I complained, her tail compressing my chest as she wound around me. “You nearly gave me a heart attack! What are you doing all the way out here?”

She didn’t have her tablet, but I knew her well enough to guess that she had been bored on her own at the house, and had decided to head me off and play a prank. She bit my neck softly, pricking my skin with her partially sheathed fangs, ‘I got you’.

“Yeah yeah, somehow I don’t see this as a huge achievement for you.”

She compressed me playfully in reply, tightening her chubby coils around me and forcing a gasp from my mouth.

“Fine, you want to go back home?”

She shook her hooded head, her smile turning distinctly sly.

“What do you want then?”

She smirked as she looked down at me from above, extending her index finger and pressing it against my chest. ‘I want you.’ I felt my cheeks begin to redden as she leaned down and pressed her oversized lips against mine, her slippery tongue pushing past them and into my mouth for one of her draining kisses. I melted into her embrace, my arms trapped at my sides as she squeezed me, teasing me with the agile, wanton probing that she knew would turn my legs to jelly. She kissed me greedily, cradling my red face in her hands and slipping her roving organ deeper into my throat, made slick with her saliva. I gave in to her, relaxing and leaning against the fat rolls of her body that wound around me, her foot long tongue worming its way deep into my head.

I swooned, my head spinning as her warm, slippery tongue entangled my own and subjected me to a deep, powerful kiss. She leaned me back, shifting her long body to let me lie almost prone on her chubby tail, cushioning me as she leaned over to follow me down. Her lips stayed locked to mine as we switched position, the sultry roiling of her organ making my heart skip as she lowered me down.

She opened her fat lips with an exaggerated smack and made a show of withdrawing her tongue, making sure that I could see the obscene length of it as it curled back into her mouth, wet with thick strands of our saliva. She licked her lips, and gazed down at me, her shadow casting me into gloom as the sun beat down upon her back. She liked the warm weather, she spent a lot of time sunbathing on the roof of the barn, and it seemed to energize her as if she were solar powered. She felt warmer than usual, probably a combination of her sunbathing, and her burgeoning arousal.

She began to pop the buttons of my shirt, moving down slowly until the garment was splayed open and my chest was exposed. She dragged her claws gently from my collar to my waistline, gentle, but with enough pressure to make me me flinch as her claws drew red welts in my skin.

“W-What if someone sees us,” I gasped, my head still spinning from her invasive kiss. She cocked her head at me and chuckled, ‘who will find us here?’ She was probably right, the only other farm for miles was Kadavy’s and he had no reason to come out to the pond, and the trees concealed us from view of the road should the Mutons pass us on their way home.

Vi went back to work, lowering her head to press her spongy lips against my neck, planting a sucking kiss and pinching me with her fangs. I was a little worried that she might inject me with her maddening venom again, I’d never make it back home under my own power if she did, and a part of my brain that sought only thrills and lust almost wished she would. That didn’t seem to be on the table today though, she contented herself with delivering non-venomous bites that electrified my body, pleasant shivers rolling down my spine as she mouthed and sucked. Her warm tongue escaped her mouth to wrap my throat as she nibbled my shoulder, crawling up my neck like a giant worm to slip into my ear and tease me. There was just something about having her play with my neck, those inch long fangs pressing against my jugular as her powerful tail immobilized me, the excitement and danger ever present as the killing blow was threatened yet never delivered. Maybe it made me insane, but I found her aggression irresistible.

She uncoiled her chubby tail from my torso to allow herself access to me, pressing her heavy breasts against my chest and sliding them down my body, her hard nipples pressing between their protective scales. Her soft, pale underbelly rubbed against my erection, as smooth as velvet as her boobs enveloped it. They were like fleshy bowling balls, large enough to completely encompass my member and bury it in her warm cleavage, she squeezed her breasts tighter and huffed with amusement as I bucked into them reflexively.

She began to move, slowly at first, keeping her ample bust squashed together so that her silky skin slid up the shaft. She lifted the massive orbs from below with her hands, fighting gravity for possession of them as their delicate fat spilled through her fingers, then let them fall heavily to impact my hips. She watched me with her yellow eyes, gauging my reaction as she twisted them, rubbing them against my shaft and teasing the head. She paused for a moment, opening her mouth and letting a thick glob of her saliva fall from her lips to roll between her boobs, wetting my cock in warm drool and making her breasts slippery. I wanted to reach down and play with them, sink my fingers into the yielding flesh, but she still had my arms pinned against my sides with her tail as she supported me from below.

She increased the pace of her movements, my throbbing erection encased in her inviting meat and lubricated by her spit, the almost imperceptibly small scales of her soft belly like satin on my skin. I bucked and writhed, trying to fuck her breasts, the weight of them almost too much for me to lift with my thrusts. She crossed her arms over them, their supple surfaces deforming around my member, and huffed her amusement at my struggling.

She went faster, her fat breasts falling with enough force to bruise, her grip on me growing ever tighter as she kneaded and squeezed them. She curled her sinuous neck so that she was peering down her cleavage, and shot me a lascivious glance before parting her lips and revealing her long tongue, winding out of her mouth like a snake in its own right and crawling down between her boobs. It sank into her flesh, and after a moment I felt its slippery, hot surface find the glans of my member and wind around it. I flinched, the powerful muscle sneaking beneath my foreskin to paint the tender head with her viscous saliva. I couldn’t see what she was doing with it, both of our organs buried out of view in her ample chest, and so every stroke and lick was a surprise that sent stars dancing across my vision. She moved more slowly now, teasing me with the doughy flesh of her warm breasts, her worm-like tongue grazing my sensitive tip and creeping down my shaft. It was like an appendage in its own right, near a foot of pink, flexible muscle that she could use to manipulate objects as well as drive me to distraction with her probing kisses.

She circled the head of my cock and tightened her tongue like a noose, her saliva dripping from her parted lips onto her chest, rolling her boobs up and down my length. She leaned down, her neck as agile as her long tongue, and pushed her snout into the depth of her cleavage. She tugged my member towards her mouth with her tongue, and I groaned as she pulled it between her lips, wrapping them around the head. She sucked my member into her mouth, the tip of my cock hitting the back of her throat, the warm, slippery muscles struggling around me as she fought her gag reflex. She swallowed, saliva pooling around my twitching erection, her tight gullet rippling and milking me in waves. Her tongue teased the underside of my shaft, shifting and wriggling as she tried to accommodate me, and she somehow forced me even deeper down her throat. It was like being squeezed by a fist clad in damp silk, snug and firm, my back arching as she slid her tongue downwards to graze my balls.

She raised her head on her flexible neck, drawing back and letting my member rest between her breasts again, a copious mess of stringy saliva falling into her cleavage as her lips left my tip. She kneaded her breasts, squashing them together and spreading the mess, starting to slide them up and down my shaft again as the drool made everything slippery. Her skin was as smooth as glass, the scales even softer and more delicate than usual after she had shed, as if she had turned back time to a period of her life when she had been even more radiant and sensuous than when I had met her.

She subjected me to another few thrusts with her weighty boobs, then pressed her head down again, finding the tip of my member between her pillows and crawling her lips over it. Again she drew my cock into her mouth, wrapping the smooth muscles of her throat around it and teasing its length with her agile tongue. She smacked and sucked, the obscene sounds somewhat muffled by her breasts, her drool matting my pubic hair as it escaped down her toned belly.

She had me trapped in a heaven of her own making, and she wasn’t letting up, waves of wracking pleasure crashing over my body as she subjected me to her relentless teasing. I began to feel a pressure in my loins, a welling orgasm that threatened to erupt as she drove me towards the edge. I tried to conceal my mounting excitement, knowing that she would cut me off before I spoiled her fun, likely doing a terrible job of it as my beet red face contorted and my hips pushed inexorably deeper into her welcoming throat.

She shot me a knowing glance, the corners of her mouth coiling into a smirk, and started to slowly decrease the stimulation as she backed off. She let my sore, rigid member drop out of her mouth, linked to her lips by a thick strand of fluid that quickly broke to fall to her breasts. She pulled away, switching positions and letting me fall to the grass, aroused and frustrated as my cock jumped in the air in time with my beating heart. She slithered back towards the trees that ringed the clearing, looking over her shoulder at me with a sultry smile, the springy muscles were her ass would be were she a human rolling attractively as she weaved from side to side.

She sat and leaned against the trunk of one of the trees, presenting herself to me and beckoning with a long, clawed finger. I rose to my feet unsteadily, my legs like jelly due to her draining kisses, and began to shuffle towards her. She laughed at me, and I realized that my pants were around my ankles, and so I stepped out of them. Somewhat more red-faced than earlier, I arrived before her, her head level with mine despite her sitting position due to the difference in our height. Her long tail snuck up on me, sliding up my back and sending a surprised shiver down my spine, then it curled around my head and urged me down towards her belly. I fell to my knees, Vi gazing down at me with an air of superiority, arrogant and expectant as she guided me down past her hanging breasts. She released me from the grasp of her powerful tail when she was sure I knew what she wanted, splaying her swollen labia and exposing her pink, glistening flesh to me as her juices leaked down her ‘thighs’.

I rested my hands on her wide hips and she shifted her weight, her sculpted abdominal muscles rippling, taut and hard beneath her smooth skin. I bit her hip softly, pressing my lips against her scales and tasting the sweat on her skin, crawling towards her belly as she sighed appreciatively. I felt her fingers delve into my hair, taking a handful of it and giving it a firm tug that stung my scalp and sent a pleasant shudder rolling down my spine. My lips touched the chiseled lines of her abs, and I ran my tongue over the channels they cut in her soft flesh, beads of her sudor reflecting the light that pierced the green canopy above us.

I moved down towards her loins, tracing the contours of her muscles until the heat rising from her rosy lips met my cheeks. She pulled my hair again, my heart fluttering and my erection surging as I hovered over her leaking opening. I leaned in and dragged my tongue from bottom to top, the metallic taste of her vulva prickling my tastebuds as I circled the engorged nub of her clitoris. She wet her fat lips with her tongue as she watched me, eyelids drooping as she tugged at my hair and urged me onward. I slipped a finger into her twitching hole, the walls of her tunnel closing around me in a silken embrace, undulating and contracting as they sought to drag me deeper inside her. She was hot and ready, her emission oozing from her in thick strands, her ample chest rising and falling heavily as she peered over the mound to watch me.

I sucked her clitoris between my lips and trapped it there, running my tongue over its hard, smooth surface and driving my fingers deeper into her dripping tunnel. She pushed against me, her long spine arching and her wide hips bumping my face, her grip on my hair keeping me in place as she thrusted. Never mind bored, she must have been downright steaming, she was practically fucking my face.

Her juices dripped from my chin as I mouthed and kissed, tracing the folds of her lips with my tongue, her vagina crushing my fingers with a strength that still surprised me. She pulled my hair again when my licking slackened, aggressive and wanting, a rumbling purr rising her her throat. She sunk her other hand into my hair, stroking as if she enjoyed the texture of it, the pleasant sensation of her claws on my scalp making me shiver. I worked ardently, my face coated in her slick fluids, my fingers inserted up to the knuckle as her muscles enclosed them. She tightened and relaxed in a rhythm, my erection aching and throbbing as I imagined sliding it inside her, the sensation of those fleshy walls wringing my climax from my body.

She grew more and more agitated, rolling her great hips against my face and tugging at my hair, her eyelids drooping as she enjoyed the sensation of my tongue roaming around her sex. Droplets of sweat trickled down her toned belly, following the channels the muscles created as they bulged from her skin, and I dug my fingers into the meat of her hips. She pulled my face against her loins, pressing me into her, feverishly hot and slippery with her juices as her excitement mounted. She gyrated and ground her loins into my face, practically suffocating me as I tried to keep up with her greedy demands.

“Damn it Vi, slow down,” I complained, my voice muffled by her groin, she merely huffed her amusement and gave my hair a sharp tug. I gasped, feeling the tapered end of her long tail curl around my aching member, wrapping the shaft much as her tongue had and beginning to stroke softly, her pale underbelly smooth and spongy on my skin. Her tail was dexterous, her steely muscle firm against my cock beneath the soft fat layer, the thin tip circling my glans and using my leaking precum as lubricant. She crooned happily as my licking and kissing became more fervent, and her long body shuddered, an appreciative tremor flowing down it as I moaned into her. My cheeks were burning, red and dripping with strands of her emission, her musky taste on my tongue as I probed and mouthed.

I realized I was leaning on her, my legs giving out as her gentle stroking became harsher. Her tail constricted my member like some hapless deer caught by a python, the fat coils rolling up and down the shaft to squeeze the base and the head, driving bolts of draining pleasure through my body like electric shocks. I collapsed into her, my head resting on her muscled abdomen and my arms draped over her hourglass hips, shivering as the sensation overcame me. I rubbed my cheek against her abs, nuzzling the firm muscles, made slick by her sweat and now her juices.

She didn’t let up, her tail pumping and teasing, my member aching as she massaged it with her smooth scales. She tugged my hair sharply, raising my head so that she could see my face over the bulge of her massive breasts, and leaned down on her long neck until her lips were an inch from my face. I felt her warm breath on my skin, my heart pounding, unsure of whether I should anticipate a lewd kiss or a punitive bite, equally excited for both possibilities.

I watched her pearly fangs unsheath from the roof of her mouth, following with my eyes as she slowly brought them down over my neck, my breath bated and my heart quickening. She gave me ample time to pull away, watching me with her amber pupils, her lips curling into a smirk when my motionlessness betrayed my guilty compliance. She pressed them gently into my skin, kissing me with her puffy lips, the strength of her bite increasing as she ran her tail up and down my cock. I moaned into her taut abdominal muscles as her teeth broke the skin, her warm tongue lapping at the small trickle of blood that escaped. She ran her claws down my spine, making me flinch into her, then crossed her arms around me and pulled me against her belly.

She held me for a while as I gasped and writhed in her arms, her tail milking a stream of precum from my sore erection as she kept me on edge, never providing enough stimulation to give me the release I longed for. She stared over my shoulder, her expression turning sly, then before I had time to protest she gathered me up in her tail and carted me across the clearing. After a blur of motion I found myself soaked in cool water, a lily pad sat atop my head like a hat as Vi laughed at me from the bank of the pond.

I sputtered, spitting out water and glared at her.

“What the hell Vi?”

She tested the water with the tip of her tail, finding the temperature to her liking, then slid in waist deep. She lay back, resting her elbows on the grass and lounging. She curled her tail around my waist and pulled me closer to her as I brushed my sodden hair from my eyes.

“We could have had a bath at home,” I complained as she drew me towards her, a mischievous glint in her eye. She gripped my hair again, the sting giving me an almost Pavlovian erection, I really had to get a handle on that…

She slammed her lips against mine, pushing the length of her tongue into my mouth and almost choking me with a ravenous kiss, her organ worming its way into my throat as she mouthed and cradled my burning cheek in her hand. She dragged its slimy surface across the roof of my mouth and my inner cheeks, bulging them outward as she filled my head, her saliva dripping from between our locked lips when they parted to allow me a scant breath of air.

She pulled away from the rough kiss, her hand resting on the top of my head, and watched me pant. She made a gesture as if advising me to take a breath, then as my eyes widened she pushed my head beneath the surface of the water.

The pond was clear, I could see the mud that we had disturbed beneath us, along with an alarmed frog that was swimming away from us. Vi’s hand was still in my hair, holding me underwater, and she pushed me towards her submerged loins. Strings of her juices floated from her labia, more buoyant than the water, and she pressed my face against her crotch. It was obvious what she wanted, and I resumed my work, licking and sucking as I played my tongue over the folds and creases of her organ. I slipped my fingers inside her, her passage alarmingly warm compared to the cool water that surrounded us. After a few moments I started to run out of air, and moved to rise to the surface, but she held me down. Alarmed, I patted her scaly rump, and this time she let me back up to breathe, gasping for air as she kept her grip on my hair.

I opened my mouth to complain, but she filled it with her sinuous tongue, muffling me and draining the anger from my body. I felt my muscles relax despite me, and I found myself leaning into her invasive kiss, the complex taste of saliva, pond water and her emission confusing my senses. She roiled her thick tongue in my throat, my eyes tearing up as she pushed deeper, strong and invasive. Finally she withdrew, leaving me gasping and wanting, my erection pulsing as the tip left the surface of the water. She glanced down at it and smirked, pushing me back into the pond.

I wrapped my arms around her waist, sinking my fingers into the meat of her springy ass for purchase as I returned my tongue to her vulva, invigorated by her salacious kiss. I closed my lips around her clitoris and sucked, pulling the hard protrusion into my mouth and teasing it. I pushed my digits into the yielding flesh of her butt, the smooth fat giving way to the firm muscle that lay beneath, and I kneaded the doughy meat. She writhed and squirmed as I took handfuls of her chubby body, her grip in my hair tightening as I ran my hands over the perfect globes of her rump.

The contractions in her hot tunnel were growing stronger and more frequent, the smooth flesh of her walls clamping down on my fingers, her leaking juices floating up past my face in clumps and strands. I needed air though, and tried to break away, but she wouldn’t let me up. I tapped her hip, but nothing, and I felt the vibration of her huffing to herself. I struggled more ardently, starting to suffocate and panic a little as the corners of my vision began to darken, finally she let me up. I broke the surface with a splash, ready to lay into her when I was done gasping and chocking, but again she swept me off my feet and delivered a kiss so deep and sexual that I could hardly remember my own name when she was done with me. Damned alien, she could play me like a violin, and she knew how much I loved what she did to me.

She shot me another Viper grin, and dunked me beneath the surface of the pond for a third time. I couldn’t take much more, I felt like my stiff member might swell so much that it would split like a hotdog if she kept up the teasing for much longer.

I circled her winking opening with the tip of my tongue before plunging my fingers back inside, her muscles undulating around them as they pulled my digits deeper. I could feel the hellish barbed papillae scrape my fingertips in the depths of her loins, parting like a forest of soft bristles as I probed and grazed her sensitive walls. God, I needed to feel those wrapped around my cock, and soon, or I felt I might explode. The harsh, cruel pleasure they inflicted was intoxicating, downright addictive.

She wrapped her fat tail around my erection again, making me yelp, bubbles leaving my mouth and rising to the surface where they popped to her apparent amusement. She began to stroke, jerking up and down as I desperately serviced her, my oxygen supply starting to run out. It would be hard enough to hold my breath for this long if I were lying still at the muddy bottom of the pond, never mind having Vi jack me off with her tail.

She wrapped it around the base of my cock like a noose and pulled tightly, causing me to yelp and exhale the lungful of air I had been storing. More bubbles, and more rumbling laughter from Vi as I struggled towards the surface. She let me up without a fight this time, watching me sputter as I caught my breath, a sadistic smile on her lips. I wasn’t angry though, I was needy, my erection throbbing so hard it was almost painful.

“V-Vi, come on … I want you bad.”

Her hood flared outwards at that, a sign of surprise, and her features quickly changed to an expression of seething arousal as she lifted me in her powerful tail. She positioned me so that I was above her, then lowered me gently towards her splayed loins.

She rubbed the moist head of my cock up and down her lips, coating me with her stringy juices, the warmth of her pink flesh almost hot enough to scald me. She pressed my sensitive glans into her opening, just the tip slipping inside her slippery tunnel, gripping me like an eager mouth as her muscles pressed down on me. She pushed me deeper, tight enough that it was a struggle, her fleshy walls parting to accommodate me as her thick emission eased my passage. Finally I broke through, and she slammed me up to the hilt, forcing a groan from us in unison as my member pushed into her most intimate reaches. Her muscles gripped me like a fist, the torturous papillae I had longed for now searing my glans like a forest of flexible bristles, her fever-hot tunnel undulating and quivering around my member as if trying to fight me. She closed her powerful tail around me, constricting me like some kind of giant, waterborne anaconda and handling me like a doll. She dragged me out, her satin flesh scraping up the length of my shaft, pulses of tingling pleasure rolling up my spine with blinding intensity.

She seemed to notice how eager I was, and uncoiled her tail from around my body, leaning back against the bank and letting me set the pace. I sunk my hands into the paunch of her hips for leverage, thrusting as deep as I could go beneath the water, her eyelids fluttering as my member scraped past her smooth passage. Her loins clung to me with such intensity that I could barely move, despite the copious lubricant that leaked around me, her powerful pelvic floor muscles squeezing and kneading as I pushed in and out of her. She lay back on the grass, her heavy breasts attempting to escape down her sides as she relaxed, enjoying what must seem to her like a less forceful but no less pleasant session. The water was cool on my skin, and I felt the wet mud between my toes as I rolled my hips against her, like a wall of soft flesh that pushed back gently to ease me deeper.

At the end of her tight, smooth vagina were those maddening barbs, grazing the tender tip of my erection like spongy teeth. I clawed at her wide hips, feeling the taut muscle beneath my fingertips, hiding under the doughy fat layer and smooth scales as we moved together. She started to meet my thrusts more ardently, pushing her pelvis up with enough force to raise my feet off the bottom of the pond, arching her long spine to lift her plump rear from the ground.

Her tail began to creep around me again, Vi apparently not satisfied with the slower pace of our lovemaking, the tip of her tail worming its way up my spine and tickling me. She curled the powerful appendage around my waist, placing a heavy coil on my butt for leverage, pushing me into her with more force and depth. My eyes glazed over, unfocused as she slammed me hard into her tight tunnel, our hips impacting with an audible slap and displacing the water. She took up a brutal pace, leering down at me between the parting of her fat boobs, their copious bulk shaking and wobbling as she pulled me back only to crush me against her again. She found a rhythm, pounding relentlessly, my body going limp as the pleasure began to sap my strength. She supported me with her tail, the steely power of the taut muscles that enclosed my member drawing gasps from my lips that she seemed to find amusing, smirking at me and wetting her puffy lips with her tongue. She leaned in closer on her long, flexible neck, her nose a few inches from where our loins joined as she watched the action beneath the clear water. She glanced up at me, smiling at my red face, sweat coating my brow as she worked me over. Her tongue left her mouth to taste my belly, sliding up over my chest to wrap my neck, guiding her lips towards it. She tugged me a little closer, sucking my skin and leaving a red mark, licking as if she enjoyed the taste of my sudor.

Suddenly she flipped me over, pulling me in her tail and pushing me beneath the surface of the water, liquid rushing past my ears loudly as I took a hasty gasp of air. I felt wet mud on my back, the weight of Vi hardly diminished by her buoyancy as she lay atop me, my member still lodged inside her twitching sex. I saw her through the transparent water, looming over me, her head angled down to watch me as I lay at the bottom of the pond. What kind of game did she have planned now?

She thrust, pushing me down into the yielding mud, the weight of her body pressing my member deep inside her. I struggled not to exhale my precious oxygen in a moan, her cruel papillae massaging my cock as it throbbed and jumped inside her. She started a slow rhythm, fucking me as she held me pinned, the lungful of air I had been afforded starting to run out. I began to struggle, in the process only increasing the stimulation from her soft barbs. She plunged her head under the water and locked lips with me, not a kiss this time, instead breathing air into my mouth. I filled my lungs with her breath, her capacity far greater than mine due to her larger size, and she was careful to maintain the seal between our lips until she broke away. She watched me, her yellow, reptilian pupils examining me as I realized what she intended to do. She seemed at home and confident in the water, like some boa constrictor lurking beneath a river.

I could not protest, did I want to? She must have seen the flush in my cheeks, felt the throbbing of my erection inside her and taken it for consent. As she began to move again, grinding into me with renewed fervor, I realized that I was even more excited than I had been before. I played my fingers over her abdominal muscles, shifting and flexing as she twisted her heavy hips, the water making them slick and cool to the touch. She took my wrists in her hands and pinned them against the ground, holding me in place as she dropped her weight on me, her soft underbelly slamming down on me with nearly enough force to drive the breath from my chest.

As my peripheral vision began to darken, a strange sense of giddiness came over me, colors and shapes beginning to meld and dance like some kind of hallucination. I was out of breath, apparently starting to drown, but just as the dizziness threatened to overcome me she locked lips with me again. This time the fresh air that she pushed into my mouth was followed by the probing of her long tongue, subjecting me to a passionate embrace, delicate and tender in contrast to her sadistic game. When she pulled away I was lucid again, the damned lack of oxygen messed with my brain, but it felt oddly good…

She was fucking me into the mud now, crushing me beneath her weight, her toned muscles milking my member in rolling contractions that slid up and down my shaft in waves. I felt as if she was getting close, her pumping becoming less rhythmic and more jerky as her own pleasure started to mount. God, it was like being wrung by a machine, she was relentless. I sensed her wracking spasms starting to come faster, on the cusp of her climax as the ceaseless movement in her loins threatened to drag me with her.

Once again I started to feel dazed, the lack of oxygen doing strange things to my brain, somehow enhancing the tingling and pulsing of my burgeoning orgasm. I almost wished that she wouldn’t resupply me with air, not yet, let me choke a little longer so that I could enjoy this new sensation for just a few more precious seconds. I started to become delirious, the pleasure welling up from my loins in crippling waves, almost enough to make me forget where I was and take in a breath of water. I felt her lips lock with mine again, forcing another lungful of oxygen into my body, my awareness returning with it as if carried on her tongue. She lingered, sliding her wet organ around in my head, her grip on my wrists tightening as she bucked and ground against my shaft, her tongue filling my cheeks to capacity. I had to make a conscious effort not to breathe through my nose, resisting the powerful urge as her engrossing kiss dragged on, my eyes rolling back into my head as she bounced on top of me and drove sharp bolts of harsh pleasure into my groin.

She seized, rocking her hips into me and pulling away from her kiss sharply, overcome by a lightning strike of a climax that ripped through her body like she was a live wire. She clenched, the walls of her vagina rippling and squirming as the sensation made her muscles spasm. It was too much for me to take, and I felt my member throb and pulse, shooting a thick wad of my emission deep into her waiting passage. I arched my back, struggling against my bonds, unsure if I was coming, drowning or losing my mind. Whatever was happening it felt amazing, I was awash in a sea of roiling sensation, every inch of my skin alive with tingling ecstasy. Again and again I emptied into Vi, filling my lover with warm come, feeling it mingle with her viscous juices as we shook the calm surface of the pond with our quaking.

Vi lifted me under the arms and pulled me out of the water, I took a gasping breath as she dropped me onto the bank, the grass pricking the bare skin of my back as she thrusted on top of me. We were still locked together, still suffering the effects of our shared climax. Still she did not let up, her muscles milking every drop from my aching member, drawing out her pleasure for as long as it would last.

Finally spent, she collapsed beside me on the ground, shivering softly as a few stray pangs of sensation sparked through her. Her large breasts were squashed beneath her, her weight spreading them like deflated basketballs, breathing heavily as she enjoyed her euphoric afterglow. I was still inside her, my still rigid member marinating in the obscene mixture of our fluids that dripped slowly from her loins in thick globs. I slipped out of her gingerly, trying to get my bearings as I recovered, afterglow and lingering dizziness muddling my mind.

“Well that was … different,” I croaked. Vi laughed, turning over to expose her pale underbelly to the sun, her breasts swaying as they settled. We basked for a time, recovering as our glow ebbed and eventually diminished. We returned to the pond and bathed for a while longer, washing off the mud and the sticky residue of our coupling, drying off the in the sun as we lay on the grass. When evening came we set off home, a pleasant walk as the sun dipped beneath the horizon, sparing us its glare as the warm summer air lingered.

The trucks rumbled down the dirt path towards the farm, kicking up a cloud of dust as they made their way around the bend and into the courtyard. The noise was impressive, it had been so long since I had seen a transport vehicle of human design. They came to a stop, and a man opened the door to the cab of the lead semi, dropping to the ground and walking out to meet me near the house. He was a portly man, clad in a denim jacket and wearing a baseball cap, I extended my hand in greeting and he took it.

“Your farm took some finding, you’re way out in the boonies.”

“Yeah we’re pretty far off the grid,” I glanced over his shoulder to appraise the row of three trucks parked beside the barn, their engines idling. Each cab was pulling an open-topped trailer, they must be able to cart several tons of grain away at once. Judging by what I had been told over the phone, it was badly needed in the cities. “The silo is just up there,” I said, pointing beyond the barn. “You need any help? I can have my people give you a hand.”

“If you can have someone operate the grain chute, that’ll speed things along.”

I called for Roomba, and the alien lumbered out of the barn to make his way over to us, his long arms swinging at his sides as he walked like a gorilla walking upright. The truck driver bristled at the sight of him, bracing himself as if he were about to bolt.

“Don’t worry,” I said, trying to sound reassuring. “He’s quite tame, he’s one of my employees.”

“You employ aliens?” The trucker sounded both surprised and afraid, unwilling to take his eyes off the Muton as he came to stand beside us, lest he suddenly turn feral. The man inched away imperceptibly, obviously eager to return to the safety of his truck as soon as possible.

“Sure, I can’t be the only one by now, surely?”

“This is the first one I’ve seen since we drove them out of the city,” he replied, “never … been so close to one before. I knew they were big, but they look even bigger than I imagined close up.”

I turned my attention to Roomba as he waited patiently for me to give him instructions.

“Roomba, go use the chute to load the grain into the trailers, you know how it works?”

He nodded, and sauntered off towards the silo, the trucker removing his baseball cap and wiping nervous sweat from his brow.

“I’m just gonna … I’ll bring the trucks around.”

I watched him hurry back to his vehicle, slamming the door and revving the powerful engine, the vibrations of the small convoy shaking the panes of glass in my windows. The trucks trundled up to the silo, the first of them positioning itself under the grain chute as Roomba manned the controls. One by one it filled the trailers, the harvest flowing like a liquid as it disgorged from the chute in a waterfall of golden grain and piled into the containers. There was enough to fill all three trucks, and I shielded my eyes against the sun to watch them struggle to turn back around, clearly weighed down by several tons of produce.

I noticed another vehicle driving towards us as the trucks filed onto the road, a smaller pickup, its flatbed covered with a lumpy tarp. It came to a stop a short distance from the house, and a man approached me carrying a clipboard in his hands. He kept his eyes on the documents, not raising his gaze to look at me as he came to a halt and held out a pen for me. I took it, and he turned the clipboard around to face me, pointing to the bottom of a printed document as if he expected a signature.

“What is it?”

“Sign here please, you requested to be paid in useful resources, and until we see a widespread adoption of the old currency we will continue to compensate you in this manner.”

I signed my name on the document, not really knowing what he meant by ‘useful resources’. I had requested to be paid in food and supplies, and they had not asked any further questions of me. Times were hard, perhaps they would simply be giving me whatever they could spare in the moment.

The man led me back over to his truck, he was dressed more like a clerk than a trucker or a farmer, he was wearing a white shirt with a tie, and a pair of brown khakis, some kind of official perhaps. He circled around to the back of the truck and began to untie the bungee cords that were holding the fabric down, eventually pulling the tarp free to reveal several drums of dried food and other assorted supplies. There were jerry cans full of what looked like fuel, bottled water, ration packs that they must have recovered from abandoned ADVENT stockpiles, and even some field medic kits.

“I trust this is sufficient?”

“Yes,” I replied, somewhat taken aback by the variety of the assorted resources, “this will do just fine.”

“In that case, if you’ll unload the truck I’ll be on my way.”

I instructed him to back the flatbed up into the barn, and had the Mutons unload the cargo for storage, the clerk somewhat less visibly shaken than the truck driver had been at the sight of the aliens. Still he kept his distance, and seemed relieved to be on his way when the task was complete.

I joined the Mutons inside the barn and inspected the goods more closely, this was indeed more than I had hoped for, if we could get even half a dozen shipments like this before the city authority transitioned back to paper currency we would be all set for a good while.

The Mutons seemed pleased with the dried food, it was similar to what they had originally stolen from Kadavy’s barn the first time we had encountered them. Unlike Vi they seemed perfectly happy to eat human food after some coaxing, though they had a strong preference for meat. Why wouldn’t they, just looking at their bulging, tattooed muscles gave you a good impression of their protein and calorie requirements. We would harvest more of the crops tomorrow, the aliens had become quite efficient at operating the farming machinery, and Kadavy would surely have more work for them when we were done with that.

I walked back over to the farmhouse, leaving the Mutons to sort through the goods, and pushed open the door into the hall. Vi had really come into her own lately, in the absence of enemy combatants to melt into piles of fluorescent goo she had taken up decorating to pass the time, converting many areas of the house to better suit her unconventional physiology and repairing much of the damage that the house had incurred during my long absence. There was fresh wallpaper on the walls, paint in some rooms that clashed to my eyes, but I suspected she saw the world differently through alien hues and wavelengths. As long as she was happy, I was happy, I wasn’t about to start criticizing the tastes of a Viper.

I searched around for her, and found her in her perch, reading something on her tablet. It appeared that she liked to be off the ground when she was relaxing, and so she had erected a sort of bunk bed in the living room, raised off the carpet and lined with a low rim so that she could fill it with straw. It was long enough that she could stretch out, and she popped her head over the edge of the box-like bed to greet me with an affectionate purr. She had painted the living room in shades of deep blue and green, some sections wallpapered with daffodil designs and some left bare, it was an eyesore but she seemed to like it so I hadn’t complained. I took a seat on the couch and kicked my boots off, we had to replace this damned thing soon. It was scarred and beaten, stained with the residue of our numerous impromptu encounters, the wooden frame buckling in places.

“What are you up, Vi?”

She tapped on her tablet, then hung her long neck over the rim of her perch, looking at me with her head upside down.


“What are you reading?”


“Oh, you’re going to make a bath that you can fit in?”


“Well I look forward to that. We got paid today, in food and medicine, fuel and other supplies too. I don’t think you’re going to have to subsist on pork for much longer.”


“You know what would go well with those Chryssalid legs? Some chive, ever had chive?” She shook her head, her hood flapping. “I wonder if I can trade for some, that would be great, we could have the Kadavys over again.” I was still surprised how well Kadavy’s wife had gotten along with Vi, the two had chatted at length, as much as the tablet would allow for long conversations. I felt a swelling in my chest, proud of Vi for actually starting to build a social life out of this mess we had been handed. The house was coming together, we had been fixing up as much of the damage from the fight against the Chryssalids and the disrepair due to the lengthy vacancy as best we could, there wasn’t one room in the property that hadn’t felt Vi’s often odd and jarring brush strokes. Now that they had access to more materials the Mutons were doing much the same in the barn, converting it from a storage area into a home that they could live in comfortably, building around the vehicles that still needed to be kept there.

Perhaps we could even have more structures erected for them on the property once society started to get rolling again, I doubted planning permission or zoning laws were going to be a problem in the foreseeable future. As much as ADVENT’s invasion and subsequent defeat had perturbed the day to day lives of humans, there were certainly some aspects of life before the invasion that I didn’t miss, paperwork and bureaucracy being one of them.

The farming was going well too, according to Kadavy the yields were excellent and the Mutons were working diligently. They fully understood the operation of the farm now, along with the machinery required to perform their tasks, and required little instruction as Roomba directed his pack. Topeka would keep us supplied with fuel and fertilizer, seeds when we needed them, spare parts on occasion. They had contacted other farms in the area, some still inhabited, others not, but it sounded as if we could produce enough food to keep at least the people in that city fed. As communications were restored and more people came out of the woodwork, I was sure that the supply problems and food shortages would dry up.

The world was healing, slowly but surely, the scars ADVENT had left were stitching as people returned to their old ways. I didn’t doubt that soon cargo ships would sail the seas and planes would draw lines across the sky, cars would once again clog the highways and the planet’s economy would kick into gear.

What remained to be seen was how all of the technology that the armies of the Elders had left when they had withdrawn would be put to use. We had medical technology hundreds of years more advanced than anything seen on Earth prior to their invasion, along with advanced propulsion technology and even captured spaceships. Perhaps it was time for humanity to have its own defensive fleet, to ward off any attacks from hostile denizens of the Milky Way galaxy that might threaten us in the future. Who would emerge on top? Every nation on the planet had been dissolved and reduced to a vassal of the ADVENT authority, their armies and economies shuffled and repurposed. Would a new global government arise, or would each regional power that emerged use the captured technology for their own benefit?

Even though the aliens had been ousted, the world would never be as it was before, things were going to change in new and exciting ways.

Vi flopped down from her perch and fell heavily to the floor, winding her way over to where I was sat and coiling beside me, piling as much of her long body onto the couch as it would allow. She leaned down and nuzzled, rubbing her large head on my cheek, and I raised my hands to scratch the soft inner lining of her fleshy hood.

“What’s up, you hungry?”

She nodded, the battered couch creaking under her weight. We should get one with a steel frame next time, human furniture just wasn’t cut out for this. Vi surprised me by leaning down and pressing her oversized lips against mine, cradling my cheek in her hand and slipping her warm tongue into my mouth. I braced for one of her obscene kisses, but this one was gentle, comely. My brain fizzed as she held me for a moment, locked in her placid embrace, until finally she pulled back with a smirk on her face. She seemed pleased, contented, her mood was infectious and I couldn’t help but succumb to it.

“Let’s go find the Mutons in the barn and see what Topeka sent us,” I suggested, and she nodded as I hopped off the couch.

She followed me outside and we crossed the courtyard to the barn, entering through the open doors. The Mutons had improved the hayloft to make it a more comfortable sleeping area, the floor now conspicuously lined with planks after the incursion by the Chryssalids. They had piled the buckets of dried food against one wall, Roomba supervising his pack as they examined them. He waved in greeting when he saw us enter, a human mannerism he had picked up from me, and I walked over to where the buckets were piled and crouched to get a closer look at them.

They were mostly unmarked, that must mean that whatever they had sent us was not pre-packaged and must have been assembled from whatever they had on hand. I stood up and cracked one of the lids open with some difficulty, leaning over to see inside the large drum. My eyes lit up, as well as the canned food and dried goods I had expected, there were condiments and seasonings, canned drinks, fruits a nd vegetables in sealed packages, one of the drums was entirely full of rice and beans. It looked as if someone had walked along the length of a supermarket shelf and just pushed armfuls of random food into their cart. I picked out a box of cereal, laughing as the aliens watched with confused expressions.

I opened the box, breaking the seal and gesturing for Roomba to approach, then poured the colorful breakfast cereal into his massive palm. He brought it to his lips and chewed thoughtfully for a moment, before nodding his approval. I turned to Vi with a grin on my face, and she cocked her head at me.

“I think it’s time for a feast, I’m going to call Kadavy over, you guys pull out the tables and chairs from the garage. I’m going to show you how we do a three course meal here on Earth.”