First came the spark of consciousness, a realization that, at least for the moment, she existed, that it hadn’t yet come to pass that they had remade her for their purposes.
Next came the sound …
Someone who didn’t know what it was would think that water dripping from above onto the floor made the sound. Perhaps rain had come to this place and washed it all away, leaving the last vestiges of the waters to clean up what was left.
But she knew she was not that lucky.
Around her, the sound of the dripping seemed to ebb and flow. Once, this sound would calm her and bring her to sleep. Now, it was the sound of horror that told of no escape for her now … or ever.
Then feeling returned to her body at last.
The straps around her wrists, tight around her ankles, held firm and unyielding in their grip. Out of reflex, her body pulled at them once, then twice, and then she stopped trying, the ache in her muscles reminding her that she had tried before and failed to free herself.
She remembered being told that, once they had hold of you, you would never be the same.
She didn’t open her eyes.
It wasn’t that she didn’t know what she would see. She knew well what nightmares awaited her. No, the best thing for the moment was to keep them closed and hope—or, more correctly, pray—that they hadn’t noticed she had awakened.
She prayed so very much for that mercy.
She didn’t get it.
The finger tracing a path between her breasts made it very clear that her captors had noticed she was awake, and the moan that escaped her lips put lie to her attempt to deceive them.
But she did not speak to them.
In her mind she tried to think of the times before this: the sun in the sky that warmed her once, not seen in so long; the moments that once were simple pleasures.
That was the problem. They used pleasure to change all they touched into their playthings.
She flinched for the first time because of the voice. Not for the coldness of it. Not for the demand within it. No, that wasn’t the reason.
Once it had been the voice of her lover, the one that she trusted beyond all others, held above all others, needed before all else. Now it was dull and lifeless, not fit for anything but the tripe of obedience that came with their arrival in her world.
The thinnest of smiles crossed her lips.
Her world: that was such a joke. It wasn’t her world anymore. No, that ended with the first person they took … and the second … and the ones after that … and, most of all, her.
“Give in. It is only a matter of time. You will.”
Idly, she wondered who’s thought that was. She wondered what was left of the one she had once loved. It wasn’t that she had forgotten her name. No, she remembered it clearly, wanted to speak it, but then …
… then the one she loved wasn’t there anymore, was she?
That finger’s touch left her, and then she was alone again with that endless dripping. She wasn’t sure if she was still being watched, if they had left her to stew in the curiosity that now gripped her or were waiting for her to open her eyes so they could then begin to do … whatever they did to change them all, one by one, into what she knew her lover now was.
There really was no choice …
… she opened her eyes.
For the moment, she was alone. Or at least as alone as she could be, save for the fleshy green-yellow pods that laid on the rough floor beneath her and dangled from the ceiling above her.
Why wasn’t she in one already?
She could see shapes in the pods; they were not so opaque that it wasn’t obvious that there were people in them, even if she couldn’t make out more details than that. Some of the pods were still; she wondered if they were dead. Others shifted as the people within them were changed … altered … transformed.
She shivered at that thought, the damp that began to seep into her skin causing goosebumps to wash over her body, her nipples now hardening in the cold.
It was the cold, wasn’t it?
A splash from the right made her turn to look that way, and she witnessed something she wished her eyes would never have to look upon: one of the pods had opened.
What had been once completely human … wasn’t any longer.
It still had a female form, but it was now changed to perform a task, like all those who were placed into a pod and then birthed … rebirthed … from them. Any tan on the podling’s skin was long bleached away by the transformation: chalk-white; no blemishes upon it; no colour, not a hint that this creature was originally from this planet instead of some other. No hair either: she was completely bald, not only on her head, but also over every inch of her body.
That wasn’t so bad. She could deal with that, it wasn’t the worst of it. No, the worst part was when its—it was most certainly an it now that the pod was done with it—eyes opened, revealing inky black eyes with no emotion, no will, nothing in them save the now endless devotion to its new role … whatever that might be.
“Beautiful is it not?”
The podling sat up upon hearing … Her voice. The look of devotion on its face was horrifying.
The captive closed her eyes again as she heard the dripping become louder, as her once-lover came close.
This time she couldn’t help herself: “Go to hell.”
She didn’t expect the hand that gripped her chin and drew her to look left, her eyes opening in reflex as she did …
… She wished that she could have gouged them out with her own hands so that she could have been spared seeing what Vanessa had become.
She wasn’t a podling: no, that would have been a mercy, for podlings didn’t keep their memories. No, Vanessa was a hostling, and, as such, in this new form, had all of the memories of her lover and, with them, the cold unfeeling intelligence of the aliens that had invaded their world.
The hostlings had shiny, ebony-like skin that reflected light as if they were dipped in liquid latex and then allowed to dry. There was no other colour on their form, just the black and nothing more. Their scientists had captured one … once. What the black coating them was, exactly, wasn’t clear to this day. It could be the creatures themselves, or an exoskeleton around the host to animate it, or something else.
The scientists couldn’t answer that question, as they had all fallen to the creature’s powers long before a single answer was discovered.
She remembered that those scientists had allowed the aliens a toehold and a means for expanding their ranks …
… curiosity killed the cat, after all, in the end.
“We were beginning to wonder if you were brain damaged from your capture.”
She could make out Vanessa’s body: the curve of her breasts, the nape of her neck … that little dimple on her inner thigh that …
She was thankful that the anger came back at that moment: “Like hell you were.”
The hostling still held her chin tightly. She was being examined by it; that was obvious. They always seemed to dissect the ones they transformed, to find out what they would be good for. She couldn’t look away, but instead tried her best to keep the anger in her and push back at the hostling however she could.
“Perhaps you are damaged. You repeat many words.”
“You don’t understand emotions, you bitch. Tell me, are you using her body to talk to me for a reason, or is this just to make me rip my heart out and save you some time in doing it yourself?”
Her chin was released and the hostling turned away to where the podling still awaited an order to obey. Black fingers touched white temples. For a moment, the captive wondered what was going to happen. But then, as the podling’s lips and tongue began to caress the sex of its owner, that became very clear.
The podling’s purpose was pleasure, and it was giving that.
She looked away as what had been her lover purred happily as her commands—and, with them, her needs—were attended to.
The memories of her own lips kissing Vanessa’s sex came unbidden and she felt a drip of wetness escaping her aroused sex, tracing a slow, wet, path against her right inner thigh on its way to the floor.
She wondered if it would make that dripping sound when it touched the floor or not …
Her shock came when she felt the touch of a tongue against her knee catching her honey in mid drool. She looked down to see the podling lapping and sucking against her skin, and she writhed against the straps holding her, trying to escape that touch.
But that was soon forgotten as there was suckling against her left teat and she found herself looking down onto the shiny black of Vanessa’s bald head as she licked with her tongue and pinched with one hand, the other touching the small of her back, making her hips thrust out, leaving her sex open to the podling as it moved further and further upwards …
“Accept it. Just give up and you will understand … everything.”
“nnnn … nnoooo …”
It was hard … so very hard to keep focused now. The anger that she had held in her mind to protect her was being chipped away, bit by bit, piece by piece. An image came to her: she was on her knees, looking up at Vanessa’s body, a little drip of honey dangling from the hostling’s shiny, black slit.
She managed to shake her head and push that from her mind, but was made suddenly aware of the podling’s tongue snaking against her folds before her clit was enveloped by its hot, smooth, wet lips. Then the podling bit and licked into the sexual heat that threatened to overwhelm her completely.
The thrusting of her thighs betrayed what her body wanted, even if her mind hadn’t accepted it as yet.
“You want this. We know that you do. Give in.”
The words just managed to sink in past the pleasure as she took one thought and clung to it like a life preserver: “I hate these things.”
She had some clarity of thought left, and she held onto that desperately as she hissed, “You ddddon’t …”
The podling … stopped.
The shock of the pleasure leaving her body, the loss of that tongue and what it was doing to her was enough for her to gain the upper hand.
Or so she thought.
Her eyes were blurred. She expected that was from her tears as they manipulated her. But they didn’t clear no matter how much she blinked them.
“Why do you struggle? Can you not see the waste?”
“Better to be free than to be a puppet like you.”
The smile was Vanessa’s. That smile she had when she knew a secret and was daring her to figure out what it was or make her tell it.
“Words. Nothing more.”
She drew a breath, a deep one: “Another thing that you don’t get.”
She watched Vanessa … it … consider her words. The reply was not a surprise: “Understanding is not needed, only obedience.”
Then she felt it. A wet slick tendril moving from underneath her, between her cheeks and then slowly up her spine.
Whatever they had decided on for her, they had begun.
The hostling remained there, the podling kneeling in front of her, its long slick tongue tasting the air. Neither of them moved or said anything to her, and that just brought the anger back to her once more.
She felt prickling against her back, her body tensed and then flexed. She tried to control it, but slowly, ever so slowly, the changes they wanted were taking over her body, leaving her mind, for the moment, alone.
“What are you d-d-d-d-oing?”
There was no reply.
But to her shock, she felt something rubbing over her nipples, looked down, and saw her chest covered in the same black shine that she knew well from the hostlings.
And she screamed.
Her cry of anger and fear echoed in the chamber, but to those within it … it was nothing. And no one came to her aid.
Then the coating moved up her neck, covering her lips, and there was silence again.
“A last show of defiance. How fitting for one like you. She also fought us to her end. But like all of your kind, you fall to us eventually, and you obey.”
She felt pride in those words: that Vanessa hadn’t just given in, that she had fought them, gave them nothing without them having to pull it from her, piece by piece.
She hoped she could be as strong.
“Had you been weak …” The sentence was unsaid, but she felt the podling’s touch and tongue once more making that fate very clear. She wondered if that would have been a better one than this.
The prickling now covered her body completely. An image of her coated the same way as Vanessa was appeared in her thoughts, and she found herself … calmed … knowing that she would be with her lover in body if not in mind.
She looked into Vanessa’s eyes as her own were covered and she was cut off from the world. The fear was gone now. The one thought that remained in her mind as they finally slipped fully into her and she felt herself erased from the universe was: “Free …”
Her eyes opened again … finally …
… She was free. Free in the sense that she could move. It was a relief to smell, see, feel once more. The eons being trapped between the stars were payment enough for the pleasures of the flesh, any flesh, she had now.
She would be, of course, forever grateful to her sister hostling for guiding this one towards her ultimate destiny. The host saw things differently now, understood how much better it was to be part of the whole and not as they were once before. The podling awaited her command, and—with one long, black, shiny finger—she directed it to service her needs.
As it crawled towards her, the delicious aroma of its obedience made her own sex drip with anticipation of the bliss to come. Lips touched, her hands took hold of the blank, mindless podling and engraved into its mind who it’s owner would be forevermore.
It would be the first of many, many more to come.
As the host’s blood pounded in her ears, her new body pressed against that which was pleasing her, and she heard a sound that she had not heard for ages uncounted …
She smiled cruelly and directed another pod to hatch another to serve.
After all …
… she was dripping wet, and there were so many more to be turned …