The Farm

For Elle...

The Farm

The car was parked, my windows open, and I took a deep breath of sage and mesquite filled air. Looking over the high west Texas desert I could almost envision spacecraft coming down and landing. I’ve been fascinated with the concept of alien life for most of my life. Ever since I read the book, Chariots of the Gods, I was hooked. That was forty-nine years ago and I’ve travelled extensively trying to uncover the truth about skinny, green, big-eyed aliens. I’ve been all over the world and seen many strange sights, but I found nothing to indicate aliens were visiting us. Most of the strange sights were none other than people that were closer to alien life than human. With all the glorified Hollywood TV shows like X-Files and discussions of conspiracy theories, I’ve found myself disheartened in my quest. I’d expected to find something, anything.

So I was disheartened but not finished as my hobby career did provide significant entertainment without a cable subscription or with a boss I had to report to. After forty-five years of research and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent this quest has become a part of who I am. Even with the overwhelming evidence to suggest aliens and conspiracies didn’t exist, I still find myself compelled to keep looking. Maybe I’ve just not got anything better to do.

The sound of an R2D2 chirp came from my pants pocket and I pulled out my phone. The name on the screen was Frank Bezos, UFO hunter and conspiracist. He’s who I would go to for an end-of-the-world scenario. “Hey, Frank. What’s up?”

“Just thought I’d let you know that Friday night we’re having an U.B.O. meeting in San Antonio. We’d love to invite you as our guest speaker.”

“U.B.O?”

“Unidentified Beer Objects. Nothing like getting a group together to discuss UFOs over beer. Can you make it? We’ve got a few newbies that really want to meet the great alien hunter, Jeff Martin.”

“Yeah. I think I can make it.”

“Eight o’clock at Big Lou’s Pizza. We’re ordering a forty-two incher that we’re dubbing the UFO pizza platter. You’re signal seems weak, Jeff. Where are you?”

“Just outside of Marfa, Texas. I thought I’d stop overnight here on my way back from Roswell.”

“Wave to the aliens for me. See you Friday!”

Slipping my phone back into my pocket I glanced around. It was dusk at the Marfa Lights viewing center and on a Wednesday night I was the only person here. This location is well known by UFO enthusiasts claiming the lights that appear to hover in the distance are UFOs. The hot evening air would be perfect for creating air distortions making such lights possible. My theory was that the lights that appeared at night were caused by heat radiating upward from the old cracked asphalt of an airbase that used to be here, refracting lights of distant cars, and appearing as ghostly luminescence.

Carefully making my way over a low barbed wire fence I walked through the scrubby brush due south through the old remains of an airbase. Out here in west Texas there were so few lights that it was always an excellent opportunity to watch the night sky. Finding a nice chunk of warm asphalt about a mile from the viewing building I lay back looking up at the stars as they emerged through the twilight. My alien hunting days are no longer exciting but my hobby keeps me going to out of the way places. At the end of my life I could safely say that I contributed nothing from my foolish endeavors but I sure saw a lot of beautiful places.

The darkness had fully descended as I watched the Milky Way unfold before my eyes. The heat and movements of the air made the stars shimmer all the more. I’d been lying there for several hours and it was close to midnight when I decided I should head back to the car. There were no vehicles on the distant road and the area had gone completely silent when all around me lights began to appear. They floated upwards from the ground. Spinning around I witnessed lights from several directions. This was no refraction of distant light. Standing transfixed by the sight I didn’t realize people were there until they just appeared on either side of me.

“Come with us.” It wasn’t a question.

They must be military or border security. I’m trespassing on an old military base and I’m close to the Mexico border. Should I run? I’m seventy years old, how far will I get?

Hands roughly grabbed my arms and led me into one of the lights. We stepped into what almost looked like an elevator. A door closed and I felt a rapid decent.

“Where are you taking me?”

There was no answer and the glare of lights made it hard to see them clearly. Our descent slowed and a door opened into a sterile looking room of polished metal, glass, and light. The room smelled slightly antiseptic. There were a half a dozen people in the room and they were strangely dressed. An exotic looking woman looked me over. She had long auburn hair which almost had a golden and yet slightly luminescent look about it. Her eyes were an aquamarine color. She was unique and that made her exotic beauty even more alluring. She wore a shiny metallic dress with similar pant-like bottom that offered a nice view of her leg with the slit up the side.

“You may be wondering why we’ve taken you.” Her voice purred seductively and put me off guard.

“I was trespassing. Are you border security or military?”

“We’re what you would call aliens from outer space.”

“Forgive my disbelief, but you look remarkably like regular humans. Your eye color and hair are unique but that’s nothing that can’t be changed with dye and contacts. You speak English. Who are you really?”

“You mistakenly believe that all aliens are bald headed and bug-eyed creatures. We look like you because we made you. We know all about your rudimentary languages.”

“I’ll play along. If you’re aliens, then why are you here?”

“That’s a very good question.” She held out a shiny disc that reminded me of a highly polished skipping stone. “This contains the essence of one of our kind. We’re an ancient race that requires hosts to interact with the physical world.” Leading me over to a dark wall she waved her hand. The wall vanished and an enormous vault of billions of discs like the one in her hand rested in row upon row. “Earth is a farm planted by us. We have staged the evolution of humans to provide hosts for our people that have long been at rest.”

“You’re saying that each of those discs contains beings and that humans on Earth will be their new hosts?”

“Exactly. You’re pretty smart for a low-level humanoid.”

“Why do you call me low-level?”

“Humans are our natural hosts. We have humanoid farms all around the universe. As a leader, I have a host that is significantly higher on the evolutionary scale than humans here on Earth. Hold out your hand.”

I hesitated but found my hand extended on its own accord. She reached over and pricked my palm and handed a sharp little device to someone else in the room. She stood staring at me until one of the others spoke. “This host has marginal offerings.”

The woman frowned at me and spoke to the other people in the room. “A test is necessary. If the humans on Earth can be used, even if marginal, then we need to begin re-hosting our people.”

“Why show me and tell me all of this?”

“It is easier to gauge evolutionary maturity of a subject while they’re coherent. If you weren’t ready we’d simply erase your memory of this event and send you back. Then we’d adjust the protocols to adapt the future evolution of humans on Earth until harvesting is ready. But, since you’re marginal I’ll personally test the re-hosting process on you and since re-hosting destroys your soul you’ll be dead. In either situation you would have either not known we even existed or our secrets will remain safe because you’ll be utterly destroyed by the re-hosting process.”

I had thousands of questions but the one that came out of my mouth was odd. “What does marginal mean?”

“According to our test, you have twenty-three pairs of chromosomes. That’s the minimum our species need to take over a host. This host…” She pointed to herself. “… has eighty-nine. The others with me all have less than fifty but still far more than you.”

“You say Earth is a farm that you’ve been tending. How is it you didn’t know our level of evolution?”

“We haven’t been on Earth for millions of your years. We only just arrived. You’re our first test subject. It’s quite an honor. Lay down on this table.”

Once again I felt compelled to obey her. Did she have some kind of mind control she was using on me? I watched as she lay down on another table and a red colored disc was placed on her forehead. The disc began to glow and moments later it turned a dark glossy black like the first disc she showed me. I admit I was now very frightened and this was feeling like less and less like some elaborate hoax. The disc was moved from the woman’s body to be placed on my forehead. Instantly I felt like I was being torn from my body. There was a wrenching in my spirit, a ripping, and then I floated free to look down upon myself. The disc was now red as it rested on my forehead and I watched distantly as my eyes opened. This was such a surreal experience.

Watching my body as I floated there I was startled to see it begin screaming and the flesh begin to dissolve. Frantically the others in the room rushed to my old body with strange devices. My body continued to wither away and with a strange sense of disconnection I felt a pull on my spirit.

Is this death? Am I being pulled into oblivion?

The pulling became more insistent and yet I was morbidly fascinated by what I was seeing. I fought to stay where I was and resisted the pull as I glanced towards the woman lying on the other table and looked down on her beauty. She was truly remarkable.

The pulling on my spirit intensified, but somehow I stretched towards the woman. Perhaps it was my final act of self-preservation before being evaporated into nothingness, but I wanted to touch the woman. I fought the tether attached to my spirit like a fish swimming against a current. My spirit touched her and suddenly I was sucked inside. With a gasp, I opened my eyes.

I knew instantly that my life had just completely changed forever. The others in the room were focused on the dried husk of my old body. Quietly slipping off the table I stepped into the elevator, intrinsically knowing how to operate the thing and bring me back to the surface.

When the door opened I sprinted for the car and could this body run fast. I’d lost my wallet, keys, and phone but I knew I’d be fine without them. Lights appeared behind me just as I reached the car. The aliens would be after me. Placing my hands on the car door I willed it to unlock. With a click the door opened and I placed my hand on the ignition and the car roared to life. I skidded out of the parking lot leaving the Marfa Lights viewing center and the aliens behind.

I was almost to Marfa when I realized the lights of the car weren’t on and yet I could see just fine. I turned on the lights to make things appear more normal just as I entered the small town and stopped at a motel. Hurrying over to a room where there were no cars in front I used my magical hands to unlock the door and step inside. Luckily the room was quiet and my enhanced vision showed the bed made up and no one around. I breathed a sigh of relief, turned on the lights, and sat down on the bed.

Raising my hand before my eyes I looked at the slender feminine fingers.

I’m a woman.

Looking down at my breasts I was enthralled by the swell of them and how they blocked my sight of things below. My hands seemed to automatically reach for them.

They feel… They feel amazing.

Standing, I looked at my reflection in the mirror. I was gorgeous and looked so much younger than I had been. Perhaps mid-twenties? Catching a slight movement behind me I spun quickly around. My hand found its way to a man’s throat before I could even think about what was going on.

His voice was strained against my grip. “You can squeeze all you like, but you’ll be dead before me.” His eyes glanced downward and I followed them to a strange small device with glowing lights in his hand. “You know why I’m here.” He wasn’t speaking English yet I understood him perfectly well.

“No, I don’t.” I replied in English.

His eyes narrowed. “You’re not J’tamong. Why are you using an Earth language?”

Letting go of his throat I sat back down on the bed. “Who are you?”

“You’re in no position to ask the questions.” Glancing at the device in his hand, it looked alien and also a lot like a toy. “I’ll start by asking you the same question. Who are you and where is J’tamong?”

I had a strange sense of confidence and calm. “Put away your alien six-shooter and I’ll talk.”

He frowned. “You’re an Earthling. How is that possible?”

“I’m guessing that J’tamong was the essence that used this body as a host. I suspect its dead.” I watched the man sit in a chair opposite me. He was very handsome and his smell was intoxicating.

Did I just think he’s handsome?

He didn’t respond so I continued. “I was out stargazing when I was taken by people claiming to be aliens. The creature, essence, thing, that was using this body showed me a vast underground vault of shiny discs that supposedly contained alien life forms. It said humans on Earth were cultivated by them and they needed to test re-hosting. When J’tamong tried to take over my body I was somehow pushed out and went into this one. I then escaped while they tried to rescue J’tamong from my old body as it had begun to dissolve away. I hope that makes sense to you because it doesn’t to me.”

“What’s your name?”

“Jeff Martin.”

His head dropped and I grabbed for the device in his hands, stealing it from him before his fingers could even tighten. “Damn you’re fast. What are you? Fity? Sixty? Do you even know how to use that thing?”

“Fifty or sixty years?”

“Chromosomes.”

“Eighty-nine. What’s with all the hype about chromosomes tonight?”

“It tells us importance and capabilities. J’tamong must have been more important than I thought.”

“J’tamong wasn’t too smart if he opted for a lower model.”

“He would have never stayed in your old body. He’s ancient and therefore has the most experience in adapting to a new host body. He would have taken over your body and then formulated the correct procedures for others to adapt to Earth humans easier. He would have transferred back right away had it worked. Humans on Earth must have some kind of abnormality to make you incompatible.”

“So now what? How do I get my old body back?”

“I’m not exactly sure how you got into this one but if you said your old body started dissolving then J’tamong was using its cellular energy to try to survive. Your old body is gone forever but you have one heck of an upgrade. With Earth humans having only twenty-three chromosomes it’s rather amazing they can even communicate or make fire.”

“Are you going to just sit there and dis all human kind or are you going to tell me what’s going on?”

“You have no idea of the bigger picture do you?”

“Consider me a low-level, marginal humanoid and start from the beginning.”

“Billions of Earth years ago a human race cohabitated on the same planet with beings of pure energy. They worked together for the common good. The beings of energy however became frustrated that the rate of change in technology was too slow as they wanted to leave the planet and travel to all corners of the universe. At some point they discovered a way to take over the lives of the humans to speed up technology advancement. The humans saw what was happening and some managed to flee the planet to repopulate throughout the universe. The energy beings, called Tomosi, hunted the humans mercilessly as they needed their physical bodies to accomplish their goals. The humans struggled in their survival for many millennia until they found better ways of shielding themselves and managed to stay hidden. Deprived of a steady source of physical bodies, the Tomosi began cultivating humans but that process is incredibly slow. When a planet of cultivated humans reaches a point where they can become hosts, the Tomosi take over the bodies, milk the planet of all of its resources, and move on to the next. They’re like a virus.”

“Earth was terraformed by Tomosi to support human life so that they could kill us all and take over our bodies? This is like invasion of the body snatchers.”

“That was a great movie. Essentially yes. Terraformed isn’t the correct word as the Earth was already capable of sustaining life. They sent probes to habitable planets with the seeds of life. Their probes would then guide the evolution of life through a series of punctuated equilibrium events leading to evolved humans.”

“You’re telling me that Earth is a human farm so the Tomosi could have physical bodies and this J’tamong character that tried to kill me by taking over my body came here to test the fruit of their labors. What happened? Why was J’tamong not able to take control of my body?”

“There can be any number of reasons. Brain mapping differences, but I see this as unlikely since you somehow managed to take over J’tamong’s body. A chemical imbalance or energy phase difference would do it. Maybe your body contained too many impurities. Do you eat bacon?”

“You think because I eat bacon that stopped J’tamong?”

“No, I’m hungry and I like bacon. Maybe we can go get some breakfast together.”

I stared at the man. “You’re asking me on a breakfast date while the world is under siege by body snatching energy-based aliens?”

“Sure. Why not? You’re very beautiful and you have to eat sometime.”

“How do I even know if you’re telling the truth? You could just be anyone with a wild fantasy story and a glowing Star Trek phaser. Are you a rogue Tomosi?”

“Good point. I’m not really an alien. I am, but I’m not. I’m an alien in the sense I’m not from Earth, but I’m completely human so we’re sort of kindred species. The Tomosi are the real aliens and I doubt humans on Earth are in any imminent danger. A year from now, yes. I’m a member of the human Rebellion and am here to protect human life. I’m Travis Bowie.” He extended his hand.

I didn’t sense he was lying and this new body of mine seemed to pick up on subtle clues that he was confident and comfortable. I extended my hand. He grabbed my hand pulled me up, disarmed me, and spun me around so I was lying on the bed with him on top of me. He grinned. “This is much better.” I twisted and rolled, my hands moving faster than I could even dream possible, and I found myself straddling Travis with the device back in my possession. Travis’s grin was even larger. “I can see you’re a good match for me and I don’t mind our romps being a little aggressive.”

Pushing myself away from him I knew I was aroused. My mind rebelled at this but my body craved his as if some invisible force drew me to him. “An hour ago I was a man. Don’t think for a minute you’re going to get me in bed with you!”

He sat up and gave me a disarming smile. “I wouldn’t dream of it. That’s not entirely true. I could very easily dream of it. Are you blushing?”

Turning to look in the mirror I found I was indeed blushing. Sighing, I sat down in the chair. “So what happens now?”

“We go get some breakfast and then I rescue you.”

“Rescue me?”

“Of course. We need food. Then we’ll get in my ship and we’ll head to my home planet so you can avoid Earth’s destruction and your body being re-hosted by the Tomosi.”

“You’re being very cavalier about all of this. What do you mean Earth’s destruction?”

“I thought that was self-explanatory. J’tamong tested the re-hosting on this planet by trying to take over your old body. He likely died due to the fact humans on Earth are incompatible. This means they’ll send a signal for the planet to be wiped clean and they’ll re-seed it. They’ll be hunting you as that body you now have is too valuable to leave behind. I can rescue you from all of this as I have an extra seat in my ship.”

“This is my home. I can’t just let it get wiped clean. I thought you said you were part of the resistance to save humans.”

“It’s been my home for the past hundred and eighty-five years as well. I’ll miss bacon and apple pie, but it’s not like we can stop what’s going to happen anyways. The Tomosi have high-end technology. Technically, saving you is still saving humans.”

“When will all this take place?”

“If we leave now, we can be eating breakfast in a few minutes.”

“You’re so exasperating! I meant when will the Earth be wiped out?”

“I know you’re flustered. It’s my ruggedly handsome looks. I have that effect on Earth women. Roughly a year. It takes a while for signals and ships to come and go.”

“There must be a way we can fight them. How many of you are here to defend the Earth?”

“I’m here alone.”

“You were sent alone to defend all humans on Earth with a cheap plastic toy.” I held out the glowing object I still held in my hand.

“I’m good at what I do but I can’t fight Tomosi destroyers. Careful with that. You wouldn’t want it to blow a hole in the wall, or me. The Tomosi are still going to be looking for you and you need me to keep you safe.”

“How gallant of you. I’m not just going to abandon the people of Earth.”

“In case you haven’t noticed, you’re now a woman, a very beautiful woman by the way, and the old Jeff Martin is long gone. You have no identification or money. You’re likely to be deported easier than convincing someone what really happened to you.”

“Didn’t you see the movie, Independence Day?”

“It was pretty farfetched. There’s no way Will Smith could have flown into the mother ship like that.”

“The point is that when all of Earth is threatened, we can come together.”

“Look, I’ll stick around until the destroyers come if only to keep you company and protect you. I wouldn’t have a chance to sleep with an eighty-niner if the Tomosi controlled your body so I have some incentive to stick around. Don’t roll your eyes at me like that.”

“We can go to the government but it will be hard to make them believe.”

“They already know. Not the destruction of all life on Earth part, but about aliens.”

“I’ll be right back.”

“Where are you going?”

“To the bathroom.”

“Wow. I would have thought with eighty-nine chromosomes that humans wouldn’t need to go anymore. Leave me my weapon.”

“It’s not like this is real anyways. Who made it? Lego?” I handed him the gun thing and headed to the bathroom, closing and locking the door behind me.

I looked at myself in the mirror again. “What did you get yourself into?”

“You didn’t get yourself into any of this.”

“Are you standing at the door listening to me?”

“Of course not. Humans with more than forty chromosomes have exceptional hearing. Better than a dog’s. You don’t really want to be caught talking to yourself. It will make you sound even crazier.”

“Thanks for the advice.”

“Do I note a hint of sarcasm?”

I hadn’t had time to focus on what had really happened to me or what I was wearing, but it was sort of slinky and sexy. It was halfway between a dress and a pant suit, and not the Hillary Clinton kind of pant suit. This looked amazing. Fumbling with it a little I got the pants section down and glanced at my hairless womanhood. I sighed, and sat down on the toilet. After relieving myself I took my top off and stared at my naked body.

I’m flawless. There’s not a mark or blemish on my skin.

My breasts were possibly a C-cup and there wasn’t a hint of sag in them. My butt was shapely and my legs looked amazing. I had a lean body and I could see my muscle tone across my arms, legs, and abs. My hair fell to just below my shoulder blades and had a very gentle curl to it. I smiled and my teeth were perfect. “Wow!” I whispered to myself.

“Hey, if you’re peeking at yourself, let me have a look too.”

“Absolutely not!”

“Awe. Come on. It’s not like I haven’t seen a woman before. Just never an…”

“Eighty-niner. Give it a rest, Travis.”

“Did I mention that the higher the chromosome count, the more intense sexual contact is?”

“No, Travis. You failed to mention that.”

“Okay. Just wanted to make sure you knew you were driving a Bugatti rather than a Lada.”

“Are you sure you’re from a more advanced human colonization? You sound like an escapee from a penal colony. And I really mean it when I say penal.”

“You wound me, Jeff.”

“How did you find me? I’d just arrived at the motel and you were here.” I started putting my clothes back on and wondered why I wasn’t freaking out that my old body was a pile of desiccated skin and bones and I was now a woman.

“I was watching the facility when I saw you get in the car. I simply followed you.”

“In your spaceship?”

“Something even better. I have a Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird.”

“You have a spaceship and you prefer a motorcycle?”

“Motorcycles don’t exist on my home planet.”

“I would have heard you coming.”

“I coasted the last two miles.”

I stepped back into the room and looked at Travis. “Why do you smell funny?”

“Pheromones. I’ve got more than any other man on Earth. Most women can’t smell them but because you have…”

“I get it.”

“Women kind of go crazy for me, but Earth women simply can’t match my drive and stamina.”

“If you’re the future of the human race, we’re doomed.”

“It’s been over one hundred and eighty-five years since I had sex with a woman that’s remotely close to my level. I can’t help but be a little aroused at being in the same room with someone of your caliber.”

“I sure hope I wasn’t this bad when I was a man. Do you have any theories as to why I’m not freaking out about being a woman now?”

“It’s nice to know you’ve adapted so well as that gives me more chance.”

Crossing my arms I glared at him.

“I’ve witnessed Tomosi taking on new hosts before. They would go from male to female and back with little difficulty, but it was always easier for them when they went from a lower model to a higher model. I believe their essence, spirit, soul, or whatever you want to call it recognized the new features and it simply felt more freeing. You went from twenty-three to eighty-nine. I’m sure you sense that your new body is spectacular in more ways than one.”

“That makes some sense.”

“Great. So a quick romp before breakfast?”

I started heading for the door. “I’ll drive.”

“All due respect, but I’m a better driver than navigator and you don’t even have a driver’s license. I’ll drive.”

“How can you fly between planets and not be a good navigator?”

“Navigation systems and autopilot.”

“You mean you have a stellar GPS that tells you to turn left in three light years?”

“Yeah. Something like that.”

“Let’s go.”

We stepped out into the warm humid morning air. The sun was just rising in the east.

“Keys?”

“They’re back buried beneath the Marfa Viewing Center somewhere.”

“How did you drive it then?”

“The perks of being an eighty-niner I guess.” I put my hand on the vehicle unlocked the door and started the engine.

“That’s really cool and very sexy.” Travis was staring at me.

“Just drive.”

A three minute drive took us to a small truck-stop café. For the first time I felt my nerves rise as I walked into a place as a woman, wearing strange clothing, and having other people around. I never felt the awkwardness with Travis back in the motel room. Perhaps he was so annoying that I didn’t have time to think about my nerves.

We sat down in a booth and every male eye in the place followed my movements. Even the waitress gave me a once over in a slightly discomforting way. “You’re a bit overdressed for around here. You look like you should be at a club in Vegas.”

Being a little irritated by everything that had happened I ignored her comment and ordered. “I’ll have the Marfa omelet.”

“And I’ll have the farmer’s breakfast with extra side of bacon. Over easy on the eggs.”

“Sure thing, handsome.”

I glared at Travis. “I’m told I look like a stripper from Vegas and you get a ‘handsome’?”

“Happens all the time.”

“Don’t even think about taking that waitress around the back of the restaurant.”

“Jealous? So soon?” He was using that grin of his again.

“I’m not jealous. We need to focus on saving the world.”

“I could save her world.”

“Penal colony, Travis. You’re from a penal colony.” His eyes became distant for the briefest of moments. I felt pain there. For a second my heart went out to him. “I’m sorry. I’m imposing my own values on you. I don’t even know you.”

“It’s all right. I’ve been a bit of an ass. I can’t imagine what this is like for you.”

“Oh no! I just remembered I have no money. I’m going to be washing dishes.”

“That I’d like to see. I can picture you now in a little skimpy apron. Don’t worry about money. I’ve got millions and stashes of gold and homes in nearly every country. Besides, I’d guess you could go to any ATM and take money out with your magic fingers.”

“That would be stealing. I couldn’t do that and I can’t take handouts from you.”

“Let’s put things in perspective. You’re a new person with no money and no identification. You stand out because of your unique beauty and your clothes that look like they were fashioned after the lunar lander. You want to save the world but you’ll need to at the very least a change of clothes. At some point you’ll either have to break the law, let me help you with the funds you need, or both.”

“You’re right. I could go to my old place in San Antonio and sell a few things, but I can’t even get there right now as the car doesn’t have enough gas and I have no way of paying for more. I’ll find a way to pay you back.”

“Nonsense. The events that have been triggered are exactly what I have saved and planned for. In a year, money on Earth may mean absolutely nothing. You’re free to use anything I have. Besides, I rather like the idea of having you indebted to me.” Once again he offered his disarming grin.

“I really do need some new clothes. I know just the person that could help me get a new identity.”

“Have you thought about a new name?”

“Not really. Being a woman is rather new to me. I haven’t thought about it. Do you have any ideas?” Travis pulled out an iPhone and began tapping away on it. “You have an iPhone?”

“You don’t like Apple products?”

“It’s not that, I just didn’t think an alien with advanced technology would use something like an iPhone.”

“How else would I call people? Besides, I’m addicted to Bad Piggies. Here are some name ideas. Admina.”

“That sounds like a glorified administrative assistant. No offense as they usually work harder than most people.”

“Clarabelle.”

“That’s a cow standing in a field.”

“Guinevere.”

“Too much of a mouthful and it reminds me of King Arthur.”

“You’re picky, Jeff. How about Keira?”

“Not bad, but people will always spell it wrong.”

“It’s not like you need a new name to create a FaceBook account. All you need is a name to get you to the end of the world. How about River?”

“Too American. Do I look American to you?”

“You’re totally unique but having a name from another country might not be a bad idea. How about Alana, Nina, or Emma?”

“Alana. I like that. Alana Martin. That way I could be related to my old self and not rouse as much suspicion at my old house.”

“Or Alana Bowie and you could be my wife. Heiress to the Bowie’ family fortune and space craft.”

I was actually finding Travis rather charming and I had to continuously push those thoughts from my mind. I had images of him back on the bed with me straddling him. “Alana Martin. Because I refuse to be proposed to in a truck stop in Marfa.”

Oh my god. I’m flirting with him. What’s the matter with me?

“You’re right. I’m sure I can find a better place to propose like a rest stop or a wastewater treatment plant.”

Our food arrived in the nick of time. “Here you go, sugar. I even added a few extra strips of bacon.” The waitress ignored me altogether by plopping my plate down with a resounding clunk and staring at Travis.

I watched Travis smile at her. “Thank you. That was very kind of you.”

“Anytime. Let me know if I can be of further service.”

The waitress sauntered off. “That was shameless. She was practically throwing herself at you. That never happened to me.”

Travis was already eating. “I get a lot of extra bacon that way.”

Why is this comment making me angry? I was eating delicately and slowly and I noticed my posture was feminine. I was behaving like a real woman on a date. “What’s life like on your home planet?”

There was another glimmer of pain before it quickly vanished. “It’s a planet similar to Earth although we have two suns. That’s fairly common. Humans are humans, and politics are politics. We have better technology and better transportation. Earth has its charms.” He’d paused his eating and was staring directly at me.

I looked away and took several bites of my breakfast. “I just found out aliens exist and I’m thinking to myself how mundane you make it all sound.”

“That’s because it is mundane. Life is life. People live and people die. The scenery is always unique from place to place, but it still all boils down to survival and relationships.”

“What happened to you?”

“Nothing.” He was being defensive. “What about you? What were you doing before all of this?”

“You’ll laugh.”

“Probably.”

“I spent forty-five years of my life hunting for aliens. Fifteen years or so ago I realized aliens didn’t exist but I kept looking out of habit.”

“That’s rather ironic considering your current situation. What about family?”

“The kind of women that were interested in me usually had purple hair and believed they were sexually assaulted by aliens. I never married.”

“I swear it wasn’t me. I’d never sexually assault a woman.”

“They always say they were assaulted by green aliens with big eyes.”

“The Zylons. They’ve been buzzing around here for decades.”

“Really? They do exist?”

Travis laughed. “No. I’ve never encountered any intelligent race beyond humans and the Tomosi. In theory there should be more, but no one has ever run into anything else. It’s a big universe so maybe one day we’ll find something.”

“Were you at the Marfa Viewing Center when I arrived? You saw them take me?”

“I’ve been watching the site for a week, ever since they arrived. I saw you. You like looking at the stars.”

“It’s a great way to ponder one’s life and the insignificance of it.”

“I do the same thing.”

“Ponder life while looking up at the stars?”

“That and reliving past mistakes.”

“I made peace with my mistakes many years ago. I realized I couldn’t do anything about them. All I could do was to learn from them and make sure I didn’t repeat them.”

“Some mistakes you can’t make peace with. Are you ready?”

“Yes.”

“You know what your next steps are?”

“Get back to San Antonio, get into my place, meet with a friend that might be able to help with my identification, and try to save the world.”

“We can fill your car up with gas and then you can drop me off back at the motel.”

“You’re leaving me?”

“Attached already? I need to investigate the Tomosi base. I’m sure they’ll be out looking for you already, but you should be safe for a while. I need confirmation J’tamong is dead.”

“When will I see you again?” I sounded like I needed him in a way that went beyond just his help. This body was changing me. I glanced at the waitress. She was cute, but I had no attraction to her. What’s going on with me?

“Friday. I can’t get into the base until tonight. Here, take this.” He handed me a thousand dollars in cash and a credit card. “Get yourself settled.”

“How will you find me?”

“Take this and keep it with you at all times.” He handed me a small metallic cube. “It transmits your position to me.”

“Would the Tomosi be able to track me with it?”

“No.”

“Why are you helping me?”

“Maybe I’m trying to atone for something. We should get going.”

We headed to the car, filled it up, and then drove back to the motel in silence. He walked over to his motorcycle but I grabbed his arm. “Thank you. I’ll see you Friday?”

“I’ll find you.”

“Be careful. Please.”

The grin came back as he looked me in the eyes. “You can always change your mind, you know.”

“What do you mean?”

“Alana Bowie sounds better than Alana Martin.”

“If you get into a fight, shield yourself with your ego.” I said it playfully. Damn it, I’m flirting again.

He smiled and rode off leaving me feeling suddenly very vulnerable. I got into the car and headed for I-10.

The drive from Marfa to San Antonio takes just over five hours and I used that entire time to contemplate my situation. I glanced down at myself every few minutes, looking beyond my cleavage to my flat stomach and sexy legs. It was all I could do to not pull over and run my hands over my new body. I’ve never felt so invigorated and alive before. I’d never thought of what being a woman would be like, but the subtle bounce of my breasts and hair excited me. I wondered if Travis was just pulling my leg about how sexual intensity increased the more chromosomes you have.

I pulled into La Cantera Mall just as I entered into San Antonio city limits. I’d already planned out what I needed to get. I was careful, methodical, and practical until the moment I walked by one of the women’s clothing store windows. I had to have that dress and shoes. They were calling to me, but I didn’t even have a bra or panties so I reluctantly turned away to come face to face with Victoria’s Secret. This was not what I intended. I planned on plain cotton panties, a white bra, no frills, and a pair of jeans, sneakers, and a blouse. It was the waitress! This is all her fault. I was ashamed by how I was dressed and I wanted, no, needed to turn Travis’s head. I sat on a bench shaking my head.

What am I thinking? I’m a man.

Yet one look down to the top of my breasts and my legs, perfectly crossed like any woman would sit, and I was fast losing any excuses.

There’s no denying it. I’m a woman.

I looked up at the Victoria’s Secret store and made a new commitment to myself. Two pairs of panties and bras, the dress and shoes I saw, a pair of jeans and a blouse. That’s all!

Three hours later I stuffed my purchases into my car. Three dresses, six panties, two lacey bras, an exercise outfit, a swimsuit, one pair of jeans, two skirts, four blouses, two sets of heels, one pair of runners, a hair brush, and a new phone. Even with all of this, I kept thinking of more things I needed but I forced myself to drive away. My house was only a ten minute drive from here and I pulled into the garage hoping none of the neighbors saw me.

Tossing everything on the bed I stared at my old belongings like they were foreign radioactive objects. Had I changed so much in the past day that my old life held nothing on me anymore? I started the bath and grabbed my new phone. I texted Frank Bezos.

‘Frank, this is Jeff. We need to meet. This is urgent!’

‘This isn’t Jeff’s number. Who is this?’

‘Phone lost. This is a new one. Do you still maintain your lab?’

‘When did we plan to meet next?’

‘Frank, always the conspiracy guy. Tomorrow at 8pm, Big Lou’s for UBO.’

‘Got to be sure. Come to my place in two hours.’

‘Keep an open mind, Frank. This is beyond anything you will ever expect.’

‘Two hours.’

Dropping my clothes on the bathroom floor I stared at myself for a good fifteen minutes. I tore myself away when I realized the tub was full. Carefully stepping into the tub I moaned audibly at the new sensations of immersing this body in hot water. First I closed my eyes simply touching each part of my body with my mind. With a start I recalled watching my old body dissolve away. My eyes shot open and I began scrubbing my skin with soap as if I needed to cleanse myself of J’tamong’s presence.

Slowly I settled myself down and realized my fingers were gliding gently across my smooth skin. I’d never felt anything so erotic in my life. Warmth spread from between my legs up through my entire body. My nipples swelled and became erect and the slightest touch caused me to gasp for breath.

I was not innocent about the parts of a woman’s body but neither was I an expert, especially from this new vantage point. My finger slid easily between my new vaginal lips and touched the small swollen button that was my clitoris. The feeling was exquisite and electrifying. Slowly and ever so gently I moved my finger back and forth until my back arched and I screamed out in pleasure. This happened two more times until I could take no more and yet the moment I stopped my body seemed to crave another. It was with much regret that I left the warm water and showered myself off.

I contemplated what I should wear to see Frank. A casual dress might be the best if only for giving him the impression of vulnerability. I drove over to his place and knocked on the door.

“Who are you?” He glanced carefully at my hair and eyes.

“I’m Jeff Martin. Frank, something happened last night in Marfa. I have proof if you’ll indulge me.”

“Go away!” He slammed the door in my face and I heard the multiple locks click into place.

I placed my hand on the door and unlocked them all walking into Frank’s house a moment later.

“How?” Frank scrambled for a drawer and pulled a gun leveling it at me.

“Frank, you need to hear me out. That’s the gun I took you to buy at the gun show last May. It’s me, Frank. I’m Jeff and if you don’t give me a chance to share my story, I’ve got nowhere else to go. The world is at stake.” The gun wavered. “You noticed my eyes and hair. They’re not normal. I’ve got more chromosomes than a normal human. Take a sample of my blood.”

“How do you know these things? How do I know you’re not an alien that’s stolen my friend’s memories?”

“Take a sample of my blood. This will help you focus as I tell you what happened.”

***

It was pretty late in the evening when Frank calmed down and began believing what had taken place. “I’ve got millions of questions, Jeff, but the one I can’t dislodge from my brain is why are you wearing a dress? You’re a man.”

“It’s confusing for me as well. Travis explained that it might have something to do with the extra chromosomes making me feel more comfortable.”

“That doesn’t explain a dress, it only explains why you’re not struggling being a woman.”

“This is embarrassing for me, Frank. I’m feeling less and less like a man every minute I’m in this body. My brain functions differently and I care what other people think about me and how I look.”

“Let’s assume a combination of female hormones and brain structure is slowly affecting you, but it’s damn strange. What’s next for you? Why come to me?”

“I need people to believe they’re in danger. I need to convince the government. I need identification to move around. You can help with all of this.”

“I have connections for identification but as for the rest, I just don’t know. The government already thinks I’m a whack job.”

“You’ve got the UBO meeting tomorrow night. That’s a start.”

“What are you planning on doing, eating the entire pizza yourself to prove you’re alien? You’re intriguing, I’ll give you that, but you look human and not alien.”

“I am human, just more evolved. I do have other skills and Travis should be here as well.”

“The same Travis Bowie you told me about? He sounds like a cross between Brad Pitt and Howard Stern.”

“Maybe he could shoot his Lego gun? You’re right; this would be so much easier if I was a green troll-like creature.”

“Meet us at Big Lou’s tomorrow night. We’ll just have to see what happens. Let me take your picture. What name and address do you want to use?”

“Alana Martin. Use my regular address.”

“I’m assuming driver’s license and passport?”

“Yes.”

“Stand over here.”

Moving over to the spot he indicated I stood waiting for the inevitable flash. “Frank?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you.”

“You know Jeff, I mean Alana, you’re a lot more likeable as a woman.” Blinking as the flash burst around me I lost my train of thought and the quick retort I had for Frank. “What’s it like, Alana?”

“You know, I’m just grateful to be alive.”

“I mean, being a woman. What’s that like?”

“I’ll tell you in a week. I’m not sure I can safely give you an honest opinion yet, but it’s not unpleasant.”

“If nothing else you’re much younger.”

“Except that we all only have a year left to live.”

“Oh yeah, forgot about that.”

***

The next morning I woke in my old bed back at home. It was such a surreal feeling waking up in a place I’d woken up a thousand times before, but this time waking up as somebody else. I smelled bacon right away. Quickly changing I walked cautiously into the kitchen to see Travis standing there. A mixture of feelings washed over me; relief, annoyance, hunger, longing, and arousal. I stuffed the last two feelings into a bag, taped it into a box, and shipped it several continents away in my mind.

“I’m guessing since you’re here cooking me breakfast that things went well last night?”

“Am I cooking you breakfast, Mrs. Bowie?”

“Miss Martin will do fine and since you’ve broken into my home and are cooking breakfast, I have to assume that’s for me.”

“Your house is furnished slightly out of character for you. It’s a little masculine feeling. I like it though. Nice dress by the way.”

“So how did it go?”

“I was right. They’re no longer there. I suspect they’re looking for you. From what I saw I also believe J’tamong is still alive. I did get your keys and wallet though.”

“Did you destroy the aliens?”

“That would’ve been a good idea, but the vault they’re in could easily survive a nuclear bomb. Even my Lego space gun couldn’t harm the containment system. Bacon?”

“I love bacon like the next person, but I really shouldn’t have too much.”

“You’ve been a woman now all of thirty-six hours and you’re already a salad eater?”

“Bacon isn’t healthy for you.”

“With eighty-nine chromosomes, you can eat almost anything and you don’t have to worry about your waistline or if food is bad for you. Besides, even if it was bad for you, you’ve only got a year left on Earth. You should indulge in all kinds of pleasures.”

My eyes narrowed as I stared at him. “All right. I’ll have some bacon.”

“Would you like a side of Travis Bowie with that?”

Sitting down at the table I gathered my thoughts. The bathtub experience was totally amazing and I’m very much enjoying the attention as a woman, but could I really consider doing something with Travis? I need to change the subject. “How do we prove any of this?”

“You ignored my last question. I get it. You’re so enamored with me that you’re flustered. Just know that I’m always here when you’re ready to take that new model out for a test spin. I must say you look smoking hot in that new dress.”

Heat rose to my face as images of me with Travis in bed flickered through my mind. “Proof. How do we prove any of this? I’m meeting with a local UFO hunter group tonight. Perhaps they might be a good starting place to get my feet wet on letting the world know it’s about to come to an end.”

“You need to know what your body is capable of.”

I glared at him. “Travis, you need to focus. How do we prove anything?”

“I was talking about proof. What were you thinking about?” He offered a sly smile.

“Forget it. What do you mean by I need to learn about my body?”

“You can unlock things and start vehicles with those magic fingers of yours. We need to find out what else you can do because I bet we’ll find things that would sway anyone’s opinion of what you are. I have a good starting point since I’ve witnessed sixty-fivers do some pretty cool stuff.”

“What do you suggest?”

“That we go out to a relatively quiet location and test you out. I could bring a blanket, some cheese, crackers, and wine.”

“Are those items necessary for testing me?”

“Not so much, but I’m a hopeless romantic.”

“It seems to me you’ve got all kinds of hope when it comes to getting me to fall madly in love with you.”

“I was just talking about sex now you’re talking about love. We hardly know each other.”

“Should I be worried about J’tamong and the Tomosi looking for me? Do they have special technology for locating me?”

“Yes, you should be worried, but you have more going for you than just your looks. You should fairly easily be able to protect yourself. Your body does have a different signature than normal humans so they can use scanners to find you.”

“Why haven’t they found me yet?”

“I suspect they were trying to save J’tamong and they need to be actively using their spacecraft to hone in on your position. While they have stealth capabilities, it’s easier at night. I estimate a couple of days before you run into them.”

“Great. You don’t happen to have another Star Wars gun do you?”

“Real Earth guns work just as well. We’re all human after all. You might want to change out of your dress. Do you have jeans or, even better, yoga pants? I heard on the news the other day about some guy wanting to outlaw them. He’s nuts.”

“I bought a set of exercise clothes yesterday. What’s the matter with a dress?”

“You can wear it, but for the tests, you might wind up showing more than you want. I’m being considerate of your vanity.”

“Since when was my vanity important to you?”

“I’m not sure what to call this thing between us, but you never know who you might run into these days and I’d rather not have you exposed to other people.”

“We have a thing between us?”

“I’m sleeping at your house and we’ve had two breakfast dates. Isn’t that a thing?”

“Neither meal we shared together was a date and you didn’t sleep here. So there’s no thing.”

“You’re right. How could I sleep when you looked so pretty and innocent in your bed? I sat up and watched you all morning.”

“That’s just creepy.”

“You remind me of someone.”

“My glowing personality or my looks?”

“Both. She was an amazing woman, but stubborn and a little rebellious like you.”

“What happened to her?”

“I’m not going to talk any more about it right now. If you’re done, go change and meet me at my motorcycle.”

“I’ve got a car with air conditioning.”

“Motorcycles are more fun and haven’t you noticed you don’t need air conditioning now?”

“I haven’t noticed.”

“It’s ninety-five degrees outside and eighty-six in here. Normal people would be hot.”

Glancing at the thermometer I noticed he was right but I couldn’t give him the benefit of the doubt. “Are you calling me not normal?”

“I am. That’s the most alluring thing about you. Do you need help changing?”

“I’m sure I can handle it all by myself.”

“I’m just being gentlemanly; offering my services even if they might not be needed. Who knows, one day you might surprise me and ask for my help.”

Maybe it had been the pain in his eyes when he talked about his amazing woman or the nonchalant way he held himself, but I found myself really wanting to know him better. My body was moving of its own volition and my hand reached out to grasp the back of his hand as he dried some dishes. My mouth spoke all on its own. “Don’t ever think I’m not appreciative of your help or your presence.” He smiled in that smug knowing way of his that drove me crazy. “These damn female hormones and your pheromones. I’m going to change.”

It was disappointing when he didn’t smack my butt when I turned to go back to my bedroom. Quickly changing into my exercise clothes I figured I didn’t need anything else so I met Travis at his motorcycle.

“Take this helmet and hang on.”

“There’s not much of a seat back here.”

“That’s to make sure you snuggle up. Have you ridden as a passenger on a motorcycle before?”

“Not for ages.”

“Don’t lean, just look where I look.”

“It’s not too late to take the car.”

“Hop on.” When I hesitated he added, “Have I ever let you down before?”

Climbing on behind him I wrapped my arms around his chest. He’s really solidly built. I screamed when he took off at full speed. I’m such a girl.

***

The ride to Government Canyon State Park didn’t take long at the speed Travis was pushing his motorcycle. He paid the entrance fee and we parked in the parking lot near the visitor center. The thermometer read close to one hundred and while people were guzzling water and standing near the door to catch the breeze of the air conditioning, I was perfectly comfortable.

“Let’s go. We’ll start out at a leisurely jog until we get three or four miles into the trails. There won’t be many people around out there and we can test you out.”

“I’m not much of a runner.”

“You are now. Try to keep up.” Travis started off at a very quick pace.

I was comfortable keeping up with him which surprised me. We were well into the hill country scrub brush with no signs of anyone around when Travis stopped.

“That looked pretty easy for you.”

“I surprised myself but running isn’t going to help me win over a group of people.”

“You see that baseball-sized rock over there? Move it with your mind.”

“Can you do it?”

“Nothing that large, but I have seen sixty-fivers move bigger things. Think about how you started the car and will the rock to move.”

Focusing on the rock I pictured it rolling a few feet and it did. “That’s crazy!”

“Now lift it and throw it.”

I concentrated again and watched the rock lift into the air and then I flung it with my mind. The rock sailed out of sight. “How does this work?”

“You’re using your own energy field to manipulate gravity near the rock. It’s a great ability to have. Keep in mind you have to be close to the object. I wouldn’t attempt to try that on something more than a few feet away from you.”

“How come?”

“It’s an inversely proportional scale. The further away it is the more energy it takes to reach it. That same rock twenty feet from you might take three times the energy to do the same thing.”

“So I can throw rocks. It’s a cool parlor trick that might raise a few eyebrows. What have you used it for?”

“Zippers.”

“Zippers?”

“On the back of a woman’s dress. It’s infinitely better to not fumble with a zipper. I just undo it with my mind.”

“How many times…?”

“You’re jealous. You can’t stand to think I slept with other women.”

“I’m not jealous. I’d have to be a woman and interested in you to be jealous.”

“In case you haven’t checked yourself out yet, you are a woman and I know you’re interested in me. So, you’re jealous. I completely understand as I have that effect on women. You need to stop lying to yourself about your situation and your feelings.”

Putting up my hand I waved it at him dismissively. “It doesn’t matter. I don’t need to know.” My emotions were getting the best of me. This damn female body was betraying me at every step. I wanted to leap at him and kiss him. Sitting down on an old mesquite log I placed my head in my hands as tears began to flow. “You’re right. This body and this heart are ganging up against my brain. I’m lying to myself if I think I’m not attracted to you and yet I’m afraid that in yielding I’ll somehow lose myself. Deep down I don’t want to be another notch on your bedpost.”

Travis’s tone lost its normal humor. “All I can tell you is that yielding to your new situation is not going to cause you to lose yourself, rather you’ll be freer to be yourself. You’ll become something immeasurably more than you’ve ever been. I’ve watched Tomosi take over a body for the first time and saw them struggle. A low percentage of them couldn’t give themselves over to their new bodies and eventually they consumed themselves, similar to what happened when J’tamong tried re-hosting into your old body. If you fail to adapt, you’ll die and I’ll lose you.”

I’m on a precipice. I’m face-to-face with a new reality. A new world view. A new truth. If I deny the truth before me, I’ll lose something of who I am. But taking that step to follow the truth is like that first step in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I’ve no idea what my life will be like by taking that step. I can deny reality and lose myself, or risk losing myself and take a leap of faith. I need a push. “Are you afraid to lose me?”

The log moved slightly as Travis sat next to me. “Yes. Very much. I need to try to explain this to you. Humans aren’t much different from the Tomosi. Tomosi are born as pure energy and humans are born as physical beings. Yet, our spirit, essence, or soul, whatever you want to call it, is energy. It’s been theorized that humans might be further evolved or connected to the Tomosi more than anyone first believed or would care to admit. On Earth, there are many beliefs that when a body dies the soul lives on. You’ll either find life tortured for all eternity in Hell, enjoy basking in the sun in Heaven, or you’re reincarnated. In a similar way to how the Tomosi take over a host, is it possible our souls find physical hosts as well? Is this why the Tomosi can take over our bodies simply by pushing our souls out of the way?”

“Where is this conversation going?”

“Humans, not the ones on Earth, have long ago discovered that our psyche is determined by environmental influences. Our physical bodies and society dictate how we perceive ourselves. Are we a person, or are we a male person or a female person? The reality is that our souls are gender neutral. Much like the Tomosi, we can adapt to male bodies and female bodies and the overwhelming belief is that humans, when the body dies, find another willing host and start life afresh.”

“Let me get this straight. Humans souls are very much like Tomosi and we reincarnate at the time of our death.”

“When our physical body dies our soul leaves and automatically searches for a new unborn host. The death of our host body is the trigger. We’ve not figured out how to move our souls like the Tomosi.”

“So the Tomosi, they’re like human souls that never found a host and they kill the souls of those they take over?”

“Yes. The trigger for human souls is the death of the body. The Tomosi push the human soul out of a living body and it’s believed when that happens the human soul dies completely. I’ve seen and felt that occur.”

“How does this tie back to you being afraid to lose me?”

“Somewhere along the evolutionary path of humans, at around thirty-five chromosomes, a shift occurs. When humans begin their evolution the primary goal of human life is procreation, survival, and evolutionary growth. There is some innate natural desire to populate and control the environment. Up until thirty-five chromosomes, physical attraction and pheromones drive procreation. It’s one of the reasons people on Earth struggle with infidelity. Our souls, however, desire monogamy. When humans evolve to thirty-five chromosomes and beyond their physical bodies switch from procreation mode to relationship mode and our souls are in alignment with that.”

“I’m trying to keep up here. Humans with less than thirty-five chromosomes, meaning every human on Earth, are little more than rabbits to drive environmental control and evolution of the species?”

“Yes.”

“I think I understand all of this, but that still doesn’t explain you not wanting to lose me.”

“Before you can understand that you first you need to understand lifespans of human bodies. Humans with less than thirty-five chromosomes live shorter lives, much shorter. This allows the procreation and evolution opportunities a chance to push the species further in evolutionary growth at a faster rate. After thirty-five, lifespans grow exponentially. I’ve been me for approximately three hundred Earth years.”

“Why do I feel like a newborn babe all of a sudden?”

“When I met my mate, Syra, there was a tangible connection between us. It’s a combination of souls and body chemistry that entwine together to create an inseparable bond. One hundred and eighty-six years ago the Tomosi found our colony and raided us. Syra and I, along with thousands of others were caught and strapped to tables. One by one the Tomosi took over our bodies. I watched as they killed Syra. I felt her soul die. It was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced.”

“That sounds so horrible. I’m so sorry for your loss. How did you escape?”

“Rebellion humans were in the area and attacked the Tomosi right at the moment I was to be hosted. An explosion knocked over my table and tore my straps allowing me to escape. That same day I joined the Rebellion. My pain was so great I volunteered to come to Earth to get far away from everyone I knew and the memories of my mate.”

My breath was shaky. I couldn’t imagine the pain Travis had gone through. “I know this sounds callous, but the Earth women helped satiate your pain? I’m sorry, that’s a stupid question.”

“I deserve that question. I’ve been a real ass. I’m fighting something and my manly boasting has been a way of deflecting my thoughts. The truth is I’ve never slept with any woman on Earth. I couldn’t. Every time I got close I realized the connection wasn’t there and deep down I didn’t want to taint what I had with something baseless and cheap.”

“But you said the Earth women fall for you, you get extra bacon, which made me assume you got an extra side of something with that bacon. You also said that Earth women didn’t have the stamina.”

“Earth women do fall for me just as Earth men will fall for you. I do get extra bacon, but no extra sides. Earth women wouldn’t have the stamina. That’s the simple truth of it all.”

“What about the comment about zippers?”

“Syra loved wearing dresses and yes, we had something similar to zippers.”

“I’m such a fool. I’ve misjudged you.”

“You’re no fool. I misled you. You feel it don’t you?”

“I feel like I’m on a cliff and the only way forward, to life, is to step off the cliff into the unknown.”

“I’ve misled you enough already but what I’m going to tell you is the truth. My soul and body are calling out to yours the very same way it did with Syra.”

“But I’m not gay!”

“A soul is a soul and a body is a body. You must separate the concept that your soul is male or female from what your body is. If you can’t do that, you’ll die. Plain and simple. Your soul is in the body of a female. You must, absolutely must, yield to your body. Deny that you don’t feel something pulling you towards me.”

“It’s just your pheromones. I get flustered every time I’m around you.”

“It’s not just pheromones and you know it. You have to take a step off the cliff. You have to yield to become whole.”

Staring at my feet I could see them at the edge of an imaginary cliff, my toes dangling off the edge. There was nothing but swirling clouds below me. Behind me, ravenous dogs waiting to tear me apart. Turning to Travis, he looked different this time. His eyes were softer. There was vulnerability there I’d never noticed. My lips quivered as I felt my foot rise. Leaning forward there was a point of no return. Closing my eyes, my lips found Travis’s and I fell hopelessly and deliriously into the abyss.

When I opened my eyes, my maleness had left me but the newness of this body remained. Looking back at Travis I could feel the connection now so strongly. I was tethered to him, heart, mind, and soul by a substance stronger than the strongest materials on Earth. He was my mate. “I stepped off the cliff.”

“I noticed.”

“I’ve never felt this way before. What happens now?”

“You need to be able to defend yourself. I’ll not let the Tomosi take you like they took Syra. They want your body back. J’tamong will not be satisfied until he has it.”

“I meant what happens now between you and me?”

“I’ve waited one hundred and eighty-six years to recover and find someone. I’d like to woo you properly.”

“How do you woo someone that’s already yours? I can’t believe I just said I was yours.”

Travis flashed his disarming smile again and stood. “You’ll find out. Come on. Let’s test out more of your abilities.”

Reaching down he pulled me up and I stood there with his hands on my arms. Staring into his eyes I felt such an urgency; I could feel moistness creep to the corners of my eyes. He took a step back and the void between us caused a shiver to go down my spine. “No. One kiss, one hug, it’s all I need right now.”

“When you take a step off a cliff, you really take a step off the cliff.”

“I yielded, and now I want what I want.”

His strong hands went to my face as his lips pressed against mine. I closed my eyes and the pure emotion and sensation of that kiss overflowed me with wanton desire. When he pulled away I nearly screamed but he kept holding me and used his thumbs to wipe away my tears. “You’re beautiful but you’re also ruined for life.”

“If that’s what a kiss is like as an eighty-niner, I’d tend to agree with you.”

“That had nothing to do with chromosome count and everything to do with kissing your mate. Now when you combine having your mate and being an eighty-niner, there’s not a person on Earth that would remotely be interesting to you.”

My body was a fire that couldn’t be put out. With my male ego gone there was nothing blocking the signals I was receiving from my new body. I had gone from reluctant female to full on in love female and the emotions were so powerful they were frightening. “Don’t woo me too long.”

“I intend on wooing you the rest of my days. That doesn’t mean we can’t imbibe in some fun.”

“Good to hear, because I’m not waiting over a hundred years for more than a kiss.”

“I’ve unleashed a beast. I know it’s overwhelming at first, but I need to make sure we take time to explore your abilities. When J’tamong finds you, you’re going to fight. We can still go to my spaceship and leave now if you want.”

Pulling out my phone I sent Frank a text.

“You went from kissing me to texting someone? That’s so like an Earth woman.”

I smiled. “I just needed to let Frank know something. If we’re going to do testing, let’s get started. Remember we need to be at Big Lou’s tonight at eight and I’m thinking I might need another dress.”

“You only need enough dresses for a year.”

“You’re right, I’ll need more.”

“Can I get the old Alana back?”

“Do you want the old me back?”

“Never.”

“Then I hope your credit card has a high limit.”

“It’s the end of the world as we know it and suddenly you’re concerned about how you look?”

“There are three reasons I need more clothes. First, if the world is going to end, I want to at least look good when that happens. Second, I have a desire to keep you interested in me and wearing nice clothes will help with that. Third, a well-dressed woman can go anywhere and be listened to more. It’s a fact of life.”

“You only get one of those three. You’d look good wearing anything. You don’t need to look good for me as I’m not going to stray. But your last point is valid and makes the other two happen at the same time. So I guess we’ll do more shopping after we test you more.”

“Throwing rocks at J’tamong won’t help. What about your Star Trek phaser?”

“You have other abilities.”

“Like what?”

“If you can make things unlock and start, you should be able to do the opposite. You should be able to shut things down.”

“That might help if they’re driving a car, but you said they have a stealth spaceship.”

“It’s highly probable if you touched the spaceship you could shut it down.”

“All right. They capture me, drag me into their spaceship, we’re flying a thousand miles per hour when I shut it down. I’ll be a heap of alien crash material and the next Area 51.”

“True, but you also should be able to create a shield around you using the same principals as throwing a rock. Energy from your body is directed outward. Try imagining a protective bubble around you.”

Closing my eyes I thought about forming a shield around me. When I opened them I saw nothing. I shrugged. “Didn’t work.”

Travis stepped closer and reached his hand towards me. Light shimmered at the edge of the shield. “I’d say it’s working fine.”

“What can it stop?”

“Just about anything.”

“Throw that stick at me.”

Travis grabbed a stick and threw it. I ducked but the stick bounced harmlessly off my shield leaving a little flickering light where it hit.

“You better drop the shield now.”

“You mention these things I’m doing are energy my mind is controlling?”

“Yes, but it’s your energy. By doing these things a lot, you’ll deplete your own energy reserves and you could collapse if you use too much.”

“How will I know if I use too much?”

“You have to keep practicing. You’ll start by feeling fatigued and hungry. You might also start getting a headache. If that happens, stop right away.”

“You think the shield could protect me from a fall, or stop a bullet?”

“Definitely.”

“We already know your fast you are and your reflexes are amazing. Show me how high you can jump.”

Squatting down a little first I then jumped straight up with everything I had. I must have jumped a good ten feet. “Wow. I like this body. No more scrambling over barb wire fences.”

“In theory, you should be able to jump higher if you think about how you moved the rock. You can jump and throw yourself at the same time. There are two other things I think you can possibly do. Mind control and chameleon shifting.”

“When I first met J’tamong she told me to do things and I just did them.”

“This should work on any Earth human but you need to focus your will to do it. As you say something, you can also push a little energy to suggest it into their minds.”

“It won’t work with you or the Tomosi?”

“No. Minds evolved to have protective mechanisms around them after about twenty-eight chromosomes. But it’s great for getting extra bacon and convincing a police officer you weren’t speeding.”

“Like using the force.”

“Exactly. Now, change your hair for me. Make it short and brunette. I’ve seen a sixty-fiver do it. It takes energy to maintain so as soon as you stop putting energy into it, it reverts to your natural state.”

“Short and brunette…” Pulling out my phone I brought up pictures on Google and scrolled through them.

“What are you doing?”

“Helping my mind picture what I want to try out. Here’s one.” Concentrating I imagined my hair to look like the one in the picture. I felt my long hair come up and away from my back. “It’s not just an illusion?”

“Real thing. That’s pretty cute. You might even be able to change eye color and your entire body with enough energy and practice.”

“I kind of like my normal hair. The more I do these things the easier it gets. I’ve got an idea. Turn around.” Travis turned around and I walked over to some trees. “Now turn back.”

“You’re invisible?”

“No, I blended everything to match the trees.”

“I’ve not seen anyone do that before. Impressive.”

“Still, these are mere tricks. What do I need to do to protect myself from the Tomosi?”

“Not getting caught is your first defense. I can teach you some moves. Unless they happen to have another eighty-niner, you’ll be faster and stronger than them but you’re still susceptible to normal human functions. For example, they could put you to sleep with gas. I’m going to suggest you try to maintain a small shield around you as often as you can. This will help teach you your limits, but also protect you from simple things that might otherwise harm you, including gas.”

“I’ll try. Maybe it’s best if you just stay with me all the time.”

“I plan on keeping you safe. Don’t hesitate to fight and defend yourself with everything you’ve got. That’s probably enough for today. Let’s head back and take you shopping.”

“In just a minute.” I wrapped my arms around him and snuggled close. My lips found his. His strong arms wrapped around me and held me tight against him. “I could stay like this forever.”

“Let’s hope we get the chance.”

“We should head home so we can get the car before shopping. Plus, I’m a little hungry.”

“You may be taxing your energy reserves more than you think.”

“Either that or I’m just hungry.”

***

We arrived at Big Lou’s at just a few minutes past eight. We’d shopped so I could get more clothes and some things I’d forgot to get before. I wore a tight fitting black dress with the hem that came to my mid-thigh.

Ever since my step off the cliff, I’d continued to fall further and further into my new found female life. I’d been swallowed whole and my growing connection between Travis and I was all encompassing. I doubt there was one iota of my maleness left and the idea of being with Travis around the clock titillating. Ever since the shopping in the mall I’ve not let go of his hand. That’s how we entered Big Lou’s, hand in hand.

Frank’s eyes caught mine and he looked me over carefully with a slight frown. I introduced Travis and Frank pulled me to the side.

“Jeff, I mean, Alana, what’s happened to you?”

“It’s a very long story. Needless to say, if you ever get stuck in a female body with eighty-nine chromosomes, say goodbye to your masculinity.”

“You’re being very friendly with Travis. Did I miss something?”

“Again, more story and background than we have time. We’re a couple.”

“You went from being a seventy year old man to a young, beautiful woman and to now being hooked up with a man in a couple of days?”

“It sounds so callous from that perspective. Whatever happened to me, Frank, changed me completely.”

“All right. You’ve never lied to me yet so I doubt you’d start now. Your identification will be ready tomorrow. Come by in the morning.”

“Thanks, Frank.”

“Let me introduce you to the group. This is Harold, Brian, Sean, and our token female UFO hunter, Cheryl.”

“Team, this is Alana. She’s been working very closely with Jeff Martin. This is Travis Bowie, her…”

Travis finished his sentence. “Soul mate and partner. So don’t get any ideas or I’ll have to zap you with my phaser.”

We sat in a private booth that made it easier to speak. Pitchers of beer arrived before everyone began asking questions.

“So you work with Jeff Martin?”

The men were drooling over me. This was slightly disconcerting. “Very closely. As a matter of fact, I was with him Wednesday night in Marfa when we discovered something.”

“What did you discover?”

“Let’s take a step back for a second and consider the possibility aliens do exist.”

“That’s why we’re here. We know they exist.”

“Do you now? What do they look like?”

“There are four varieties. Arcturian, Reptilian, Greys, and Pleiadians. Everyone knows this.”

“If I were to be an alien, which would I be?”

“You’re not an alien.”

“Are you sure about that?” Carefully I manipulated a parmesan cheese shaker into the air. Everyone except Travis jumped back like it was on fire.

“Stop with the fake tricks. That’s good, but it’s fake.”

“You don’t think my hair and eye color are unique?”

“Yes, but…” I changed my hair to a short bright pink and my eye color to yellow.

“How about now?”

“What the hell!”

Travis chimed in while I changed my hair and eye color back to normal. “Alana and I are both aliens. She’s just more advanced than I am.”

“What planet are you from?”

“Are you here to suck out our brains?”

“Will you perform sexual experiments on us? Please, Alana?”

“Why contact us now?”

“Now that’s a question we can answer. There are two varieties of aliens. Humans, like Travis, me, and all of you, and Tomosi, beings of energy. The Tomosi started humanity on Earth as a farm to eventually take over the human bodies for their energy-based souls. Travis and I are part of a resistance against the Tomosi. We’re here to try to save the Earth.”

“You’re not human.”

“You can check with Frank. He ran bloodwork on me. I’m human but with a lot more chromosomes than what humans on Earth have.” Frank nodded.

“Save the Earth from what exactly?”

“I was with Jeff Martin Wednesday night when the Tomosi captured him. One of them tried to take over Jeff’s body and something went wrong. Apparently Earth humans have a defect that won’t allow the Tomosi to take your bodies over. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Jeff is dead and in approximately one year’s time, the Tomosi will come in force to wipe human life off the planet so they can start fresh again.”

There was a pause in the conversation when the UFO pizza platter came and filled up the entire table top. No one spoke until the waiter had left.

“So your people are going to save the world?”

I glanced at Travis. “We’re it and we don’t have the technology to defeat the Tomosi.”

The conversation paused again as everyone contemplated the situation. “Are you the future of women on Earth? If so, I’m planning on sticking around. Death to the Tomosi!”

“Death to the Tomosi!” Everyone raised a glass of beer.

The conversation deteriorated from there. They all left telling Frank this was the best UBO meeting ever but it was clear they didn’t accept any of it. “It sounds really crazy, Alana. Even if it is true, what hope do we have? Come by tomorrow. I’ll have your stuff ready.”

“Thanks, Frank.”

We drove home in silence. When we got home I unloaded my frustrations on Travis. “They thought it was all a joke.”

“They're redneck alien hunters from Texas. Their combined IQ is probably less than fifty. Maybe we need to make a bigger impact with the right people.”

“What are you thinking?

“That we fly my spaceship to Washington DC and land on the Whitehouse’s front lawn.”

“We’d be thrust into the media. It would be a circus. We’d be shot.”

“All highly probable, but assuming we’re not killed we’d be surrounded by people that will protect you and offer the best chance to get to the scientists and military.”

“They’ll poke and prod us like lab animals.”

“A little. We can leave at any time.”

“How can we leave if we’re locked up?”

“They can’t do anything to my ship. I can control it with my mind and have it transport us onboard from wherever we are. You can make yourself practically invisible, control people’s minds, and unlock any door.”

“But what if they just shoot us?”

“If they’re aggressive in any way you can use your shield and I have my Lego gun. We’ll be safe enough until transportation to my ship.”

“I’d have to change out of my dress and wear the lunar lander outfit.”

“For a short while and it does look great on you. Besides, if you keep wearing this dress I’ll have to rip it off of you anyways.”

“Why rip when you can you use your magic fingers on my zipper?”

“Is that a solicitation? As a gentleman I wouldn’t dare take advantage of you.”

For an answer I led him into the bedroom.

Moments later we were both naked and I was swept into Travis’s arms. Over the next four hours I became a woman nearly a dozen times. Nothing in my life compared to the incredible experience of being filled by Travis. This was heaven on Earth.

***

“Could we just make love for a solid week before we go to DC?”

Travis held me tightly against him. “I don’t think I’ve got that much stamina. You’re incredible and insatiable.”

“Had I known all these years what I’ve been missing by not being a woman I would have killed myself out of sheer depression. Nothing can compare to the feeling of orgasming as a woman.”

“I’m sure it would be quite as spectacular as a twenty-three chromosome woman.”

“Sorry, J’tamong, but after last night, I’m not giving this body back. Ever!”

Travis chuckled. “That’s the spirit. Why don’t you shower up and get dressed. You still need to get the identification from Frank?”

“I might not need it now, but just in case we should get it.”

“Okay, I’ll go cook breakfast.”

“I could get used to this.”

“I’m hoping you will.”

Standing under the hot spray of the shower I recalled the events of last night. It was all I could do to clean up and not walk naked into the kitchen and take Travis for another drive. He was amazing. I formed a shield around me and watched the water cascade to the shower floor like I was under a transparent umbrella. My life had been so pathetic before Marfa. I was really happy.

After breakfast I insisted that we take the motorcycle, even with my dress. I wanted the chance to get Travis in my arms and this was a good way of doing that. Arriving at Frank’s house I knew something was wrong right away. His front door was ajar.

“Frank?” The air smelled horrible. “Frank, are you here?”

We stepped into the house. Travis had his phaser out and suddenly I felt like I needed something myself. I reached into the drawer where Frank kept his revolver. I checked the magazine to make sure it was loaded.

“Frank? It’s Alana and Travis.”

We stepped through the living room and into the kitchen. That’s where we found Frank, or what was left of him. He was barely recognizable. I stifled my nausea.

“Who would have done this?”

“You can’t smell it?”

“It smells like nothing I’ve ever smelled before.”

“These burns were caused by a phase disruption beam. It works like a microwave but alters the cells of a human body causing instant energy release and heat. This was J’tamong’s doing.”

“Oh, Frank! I’m so sorry! They must have found him because of me.”

“Possibly. They knew who you were before and knew you’d likely connect with people you associated with. Your phone use, text messages, everything. “

“What are we going to do?”

“We’ll call it in so he can be taken care of properly.”

“This is entirely my fault.”

Travis held me close. “Who killed Frank?”

“The Tomosi.”

“And who kidnapped you.”

“The Tomosi. Look, I know what you’re trying to do, but I led them to Frank.”

“This isn’t over, Alana. It’s just beginning. You’re the most valuable thing on this planet.”

“No, Travis. I’m just one person. All of human life will be wiped out. They’re the valuable ones.”

“To the Tomosi, they’re worthless. There are possibly only a handful of eighty-niners in the universe.”

“Why don’t they just make clones and leave humans alone?”

“Clones don’t have souls to push out. They’re unusable.”

Spinning around as I couldn’t bear to look at Frank’s body any more I spotted an envelope on the floor. Picking it up I opened it and found my identification.

“They’re going to pay!”

“Alana, I’d love to make them pay as much as you. Maybe even more, but we have to face reality. We’re outnumbered and outgunned.”

I spun angrily towards Travis. I wasn’t angry with him, but with the situation. “Three miles from this house a hundred men fought off fifteen hundred Mexican army soldiers. They survived two direct assaults but lost the fight on the third wave. Their bravery won the hearts of the Texans and the Mexicans were ultimately routed. We’re not a bunch of pushovers. We’ll fight to our last breaths.”

“I know. I was there. It’s why I named myself Travis Bowie after William Travis and James Bowie.”

“You were there?”

“I fought alongside them. I’ve never witnessed such courage and self-sacrifice. It affected me deeply. At the last moment I had my ship teleport me away. I felt guilty for many years for not dying with them all, but I couldn’t watch over the Earth if I was dead.”

“I’m not giving up, Travis. This is my home. Our home.” I handed him my identification. His eyes widened. “Our home.” I repeated gently as my eyes filling with tears.

“You had Frank change your name yesterday when you texted him. Alana Bowie. I like the sound of that. All right then. It’s time humans take the fight to the Tomosi. It’s time to protect our home.”

***

Back at home I began packing my new clothes into suitcases. I’m an alien human woman that looks to be in her mid-twenties, packing for a trip in a space craft to land at the Whitehouse to persuade the President and his staff that all human life on Earth is about to be wiped out, and I’m worried about what I should wear.

“You should wear the Apollo dress thing. It makes you look more alien and you’re very sexy in it.”

“I think the space craft will be more telltale than our looks. What are you going to wear?”

“What I’m wearing now.”

“You’re going to step off a spaceship for the entire world to see aliens for the first time and you’re going to wear jeans and a t-shirt?”

“It shows American pride.”

“I’ll wear the silver Mylar dress thing, but I think you should consider wearing something a little more alien.”

“How about I wear a red jumpsuit with a big silver triangle on the front? I could come out saying Na-nu, na-nu. You’re giving me the eyebrow waggle thing. I think I can find something more appropriate.”

“Good, because my name is Alana Bowie, not Mindy McConnell.”

“I always thought Mindy was cute.”

“I obviously never thought this through. I should have tested out my powers on some sexy woman before getting ruined by making love to you first.”

“If wishes were horses…”

“Maybe one day if you’re really good, I’ll change my looks to look like Mindy.”

“I said she was cute but she’s not even in your league.”

“I have a very strange question.”

“Yes, we can make love again before we leave. That’s not your question; I can sense it from your crossed arms.”

“What happens if I shoot a gun while the gun is inside my shield? Does the bullet ricochet around hitting me a dozen times?”

“Nope. The bullet passes through the shield easily. Think of it like a computer firewall. It blocks everything but that which you allow inbound and allows anything from you out. If it was sealed, eventually you’d run out of oxygen. Naturally when you create the shield your body knows to project it to cause no harm to you. Have you been practicing?”

“Pretty much all the time.”

“Are you ready?”

“Yes. Do we have to carry these to the space ship?”

“I’m not even going to ask how you filled three large suitcases. I’ll beam aboard and make sure it allows you and your luggage. There’s a safety mechanism to destroy anything that enters it that I don’t allow. I need a DNA sample from you first.”

“How do you get that?”

“I thought you’d never ask.” Travis placed his hands on my face and kissed me passionately. His touch sets me on fire every time. “I didn’t really need your DNA, but you taste so good. I’ll send for you in a minute.” With that he vanished before my eyes.

Thirty seconds later I was standing next to Travis. I grabbed for him and screamed. Beneath my feet was my house several hundred feet below. “We’re in stealth mode so everything is transparent. I can shift it so we can see the inside and still be in stealth mode. I prefer to see everything all around me.”

“Please. I think I’m going to throw up.”

With a wave of his hand the floor materialized beneath my feet and objects inside came into view. The space was larger than I thought it would be with several seats and all kinds of strange materials, screens, lights, and gadgets. My luggage and… “You beamed up your motorcycle?”

“I’m not leaving it out there unprotected.”

“The spaceship is different than I would have expected.”

“I didn’t personalize it much.”

“I would have taken you for a wood paneling kind of guy. It’s a bit sterile looking.”

“Take a look around.”

“I’m on an alien spaceship. How cool is this?”

“You’re talking to yourself again.”

I ran my fingertips over the smooth surfaces and walked behind several paneled walls. There was a bedroom and what I thought could be a kitchen and a bathroom. “There’s no toilet.”

“Top secret technology. I’ll have to show you how it works.”

My hand started to shake as it reached towards a very lifelike three-dimensional image of a woman’s face. “This is Syra?”

“I’m sorry; I should have put that away.”

“No, leave it. She’s so beautiful. Seeing her face brings home the reality of the situation. I’m sorry, Travis. I know I can never replace her.”

“There is no replacing Syra, but there’s also no replacing you. I’ll not let you be taken by the Tomosi. I won’t go through that pain again. Come on. Let me show you how to drive this thing.”

***

It took almost no time to travel from San Antonio to Washington, DC. Travis had changed into an outfit made of similar material to mine and standing side by side I thought we made a good looking couple. We hovered a mile overhead of the Whitehouse.

“We’ll remove our stealth and drop down through the clouds so we’re completely visible. I’ll create a shield that’s slightly visible. As long as we stay within the shield we’ll be completely protected. If we step outside the shield that’s when you’ll need to bring your shield up. I’ll be wearing a personal shield generator.”

“Can we make a bunch of flashing lights too?”

“I’ll throw in a couple of lights. Anything else?”

“All my life I hoped to find aliens, and now I’m stepping out of a spaceship as the alien. Somehow, in my craziest dreams, I never thought I’d see first contact from this perspective.”

“You’re a natural.”

“Let’s do this. Drop her down slow so people have time to get their phones going.”

“I’ll make it so we can look outside. Grab my arm if you think you might lose your balance.”

The floor vanished as we descended through the clouds. I had a little vertigo but I was witnessing history in the making. I watched people scramble, cars stop; some people ran away, but others clustered closer. By the time we landed on the front lawn of the Whitehouse helicopters were already circling us. Wide-eyed armed guards circled the ship but kept a healthy distance away.

“Would you like to give the announcement? A female voice is more soothing.”

“All right.”

“Everyone outside will clearly hear you speak in three, two, one…”

“Greetings people of Earth. We come to you in peace and with urgent news. The ship is protected as are we. Do not attempt to shoot as your bullets will only reflect off our shields and potentially hurt innocent people. We are requesting an audience with the President and his senior advisors.”

I looked over at Travis and nodded. “We can speak freely now.”

“Should we give them a few minutes to digest that before opening the door and stepping outside?”

“That’s a good idea. I’ll even exhaust a little water vapor to give it some effect.” Travis guided me to a spot. It appeared a little like an airlock. A door sealed behind us then the door to the ship opened upward and downward at the same time. A little ramp sloped slightly downward onto the Whitehouse grass. “Ready?”

“As I’ll ever be.”

We walked side-by-side down the ramp and onto the grass. The doors of the ship quietly closed behind us. We could hear the commotion around us now. The sirens, people screaming, helicopters, and guns raised and bolted.

A shaking General stepped forward but stopped short of the ships shield. “I assume you understand English?”

“It’s what I spoke to you all with from inside the ship.”

“You’re not what I expected.”

“Sorry to disappoint you but is it really that far-fetched to believe aliens might look like the people of Earth?”

“How can you prove you mean no harm?”

“Trust is a tenuous thing to create. We were over the Whitehouse for some time and our technology hid us completely from you.”

Travis stepped up. “What my partner is trying to say is that if we had intent to harm, we’d already have done so. We’re here to save the planet from mass extinction. Is the President coming?”

“He’s waiting inside until we assess the threat.”

Looking over at Travis, he nodded to me. I stepped through the shield and extended my hand towards the General. “My name’s Alana.”

“How do I know you’re truly aliens?”

Sending out a wave of energy I stated loudly for all to hear. “Lower your weapons.” I amazed myself as they all lowered. “Would you rather I have blue skin, general?” Shifting the color of my skin to a pale blue I watched as he took a shaky breath. Returning my skin to normal I spoke again. “We’re not here to hurt anyone, General.”

I felt his large hand enfold mine. “General Mark Simpson. Welcome to Earth.”

Leaning in I whispered to the General. “It would be good to see the President meet us on the grass. It would show the people great courage and confidence.”

The General turned and waved towards the Whitehouse. A dozen Secret Service agents poured out of the doors followed by President Trump and another dozen agents. The agents both surrounded the President and spread out forming a ring. I never thought I’d ever meet the President.

Travis stepped up next to me as the General stepped aside. The agents looked anxious. I was tall for an Earth woman, around five foot ten, but I still had to look up to meet the President’s eyes. “You’re a lot less green than I thought you would be. Welcome to the United States. I presume you’re here because you’re not looking for hair styling advice.”

I smiled. Donald Trump’s hair was always in the media making headlines somewhere. “I’ll get to the point. All human life on Earth is about to be wiped out by another alien race. We’d like your assistance in stopping this from happening.”

“The news media will have a feeding frenzy over this calling me xenophobic for stopping another alien race from coming to Earth. You have evidence this will occur?”

Travis extended his hand. “We do, Mr. President. I’m willing to share technology and solicit support but we won’t survive this unless we work together. The world needs to put aside their bickering and unite if human life even stands a chance.”

The President turned to an aid that was standing nearby. Assemble the Joint Chiefs and include our science advisors. Turning back to us he looked at the spaceship. “I could sell those. Bigly. I assume it will be all right sitting here for a while?”

“It will be fine. However, we must warn you, the other race is actively looking for Alana and by now know where she is. We must stress that there is some risk to anyone that is close to her if the other aliens attack, which they will.”

“Can they find her underground?”

“What are you thinking?”

***

Watching the news I had a hard time believing I was such a big part of it. “Everyone was stunned this morning when a spacecraft landed on the Whitehouse front lawn. The aliens look remarkably like us. Here you can see two aliens exiting the ship and meeting with General Mark Simpson. If we zoom in a little you can see the woman’s skin change color briefly. We’re joined now by our chief science officer, Martha Wrigley. Martha, has there been any announcements from the Whitehouse?”

“None so far but we do know that the President was immediately evacuated from the Whitehouse following his meeting with the people from the craft.”

“You said people and not aliens. Can you explain that?”

“It’s my belief that these two beings that came from the spaceship are not aliens at all, rather they are humans from our future. The chances that human-like life evolved exactly the same somewhere else in the universe are non-existent.”

Turning off the television I sat back in the comfortable couch and looked around. Forty-five years of research and I’d never come close to this facility. I’d seen it from a distance, but I had no idea the deep underground city that existed here. Area 51 is what the President recommended and Travis and I left the Whitehouse in our spaceship and travelled here. The base was prepared for our arrival and Air Force One was scheduled to land soon.

“You think we’ll be safe here?”

“We’ll be fine. I know this place well. I spent time working here in the sixties. You’re two hundred feet below the surface and the Tomosi won’t be able to track your signature here.”

“Why am I not surprised you worked here? Did you invent the Big Mac as well?”

“No, but I did tweak Apple Computer’s chip design a little while they were still in their garage. It’s how I got most of my operating money. Apple stocks have been an excellent investment.”

“What happens next?”

“I’ve been listening in on the radio conversations. The President and Joint Chiefs as well as a scientific panel are being brought here as we speak. They are actively planning tests for us to determine the legitimacy of our claims. I have data and footage to demonstrate the Tomosi seeding process, technology, wiping life from a planet, and recordings from when the Rebellion saved me. It shows humans being taken over.”

Suddenly the overwhelming understanding of the perils we were now in shook me. I created this situation. I insisted we needed to save the world and my actions will put Travis’ life at risk. “I’m sorry, Travis. If my foolish actions put you in danger I’m not sure I would forgive myself. I don’t want to be separated from you.”

“We’ll stay together.”

A knock sounded at the door and several armed guards stepped in. “We’re to escort you to the conference room.”

Glancing at Travis I was amazed at how poised and confident he looked. We stepped into a hallway that was buzzing with people. They all paused to stare momentarily at us and then quickly went about their work. By the time we entered the conference room the President and close to two dozen other people were gathered.

An elderly gentleman stood and walked around us both. “I’m Malcom Young. Chief Science Officer and consultant to the last three Presidents. I’m here to testify to all of you that we’ve known about the existence of humanoid alien life for decades. We’ve never seen living samples and have only found fragments of their technology.”

His sneering disdain set my inner alarms off and instantly made me irritated. “Excuse me, but we’re not living samples. We’re people just like all of you only we’re further evolved.”

“That will be confirmed, young lady.”

“I understand how impactful this all is to all of you and that you’ll want proof. We’ll cooperate to some degree with you, but we’ll not be lab rats. We’re here willingly to assist in the protection of all human life on Earth.”

“You’re in our custody and you’ll do as we say.”

“We can leave any time.”

The conversation was rapidly deteriorating until the President stepped in. “Malcom, sit down. For now these people are our guests as long as they are friendly towards us. Tell us why you believe Earth is under threat.”

Over the next hour we shared what we knew. This was supported by short snippets of media that Travis was able to display for the group.

Malcom was not to be swayed however. “This has been a tremendous waste of time. These people are hoaxes.”

The President looked us over. “Malcom might have a point. We’ve seen your spaceship and you’ve consented to some testing. You’ve shown us evidence that could have been manufactured, but nevertheless, it’s very compelling. How can we be sure you’re telling us the truth that there is a threat out there?”

“You want to see malicious intent then get the autopsy from Frank Bezos’ corpse in San Antonio or you can scrape the remains of Jeff Martin’s body off a table in the Tomosi facility in Marfa, Texas. You want to see how dangerous they are? Put me out in the middle of the desert and watch them come for me.”

That seemed to be the final straw for Travis. “No! We’re not using you as bait. If these people want to ignore our warnings then we’ll leave now but I’m not risking your life.”

“You’re asking me to put the full efforts of the United States towards fighting off an alien race and work to solicit support from around the world to unite in that cause. I can’t do that without facing my enemy first.”

“Mr. President? We have word from San Antonio. Frank Bezos body was found badly burned. The coroner believes he was consumed from the inside out.”

Malcom stood up and grabbed a pistol from a guard and leveled it at Travis. “They killed Frank themselves! That’s how they know about it. They’re the enemy!”

“Put the gun down.” I shouted and pushed my will against him. He merely smiled as I watched his muscles in his finger twitch. I dove in front of Travis as the roar of the gun sounded. The bullet ricocheted off my shield and into a wall before Malcom was tackled.

I carefully looked over Travis and he was fine. Pointing to Malcom Travis got up off the floor. “He’s Tomosi. Get a sample of his blood. You’ll find he has more than twenty-eight chromosomes.”

The guards struggled with Malcom but soon he was bound and dragged from the room.

“Mr. President? We just found Malcom Young’s body behind a hanger topside. Like Frank Bezos, he appears to have been burned from the inside.”

“What does this mean?”

“It means that the Tomosi and just infiltrated your base. It also means they have someone with them that is close to, if not equally as evolved, as Alana. Those guards won’t stand a chance.”

“Why infiltrate as Malcom? Is it even possible for a Tomosi to make their entire body look like someone else?” I was confused.

“Because they knew you were here inside and perhaps they wanted to find out what’s happening. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was J’tamong. I’ve heard of Tomosi leaders having highly evolved spare humans in stasis for events where their primary hosts are injured. I’m getting you out of here.”

“Wait!” We turned to see the President standing there. “I need to know what we’re up against. Can you protect Alana if we use her to lure the Tomosi?”

“That’s not going to happen. I can’t put her life at risk.”

“But you’ll risk the lives of everyone on the Earth?”

“I care about the people of Earth, but you can’t expect me to put Alana in harm’s way.”

Red lights flashed and alarms flooded the room. Several huge explosions shook the room so badly I almost lost my balance.

The guards moved quickly. “We’re under attack! Someone get the President to the lower bunkers!”

The guards that had taken Malcom burst into the room. “Malcom’s gone. He vanished!”

The room was chaos as the President was escorted quickly from the room. Travis and I were all but forgotten.

“I’m taking you back to the ship.”

Before I could say anything six Tomosi were standing around us and we vanished from the room only to reappear in a Tomosi spaceship. The ship was much larger than Travis’ and the front was clear giving an unimpeded view of the destruction they were raining down upon the base. We seemed to be a good thousand feet above the base. I watched in horror as a fighter jet fired a missile at us and the explosion didn’t even shake the ship. A ray emanating from the spaceship dissolved the jet in mid-flight.

“Thanks for returning my body, Jeff Martin. We also grabbed a Rebellion sympathizer. How convenient.”

Glancing over at Travis I felt a sudden heart wrenching loss. We were about to die.

“It’s a shame Alana that you left your car running.”

What’s Travis talking about?

Then it dawned on me. “I love you, Travis.” I touched the wall of the ship and concentrated. I felt an enormous draw on my energy level as my mind latched onto key systems in the ship. The spaceship lurched violently. I dove on Travis and wrapped us in a shield with all the available energy I had left.

***

“She’s waking.”

My mind tried to grasp what I was feeling but the pain was incredible. My head hurt so badly and every cell of my body felt like it was on fire. Even the pain of opening my eyes made me scream. Trying to get my bearings was difficult as the room spun wildly. I had no idea where I was. My stomach churned and I heaved but nothing came out. I’m dying.

Then I heard his voice. Travis’ voice. His hands were on my face. “Alana, you’re safe but you used far too much energy. The doctors are trying everything they can to get energy into you but you’re consuming it too quickly. I’m going to get everyone out of the area and you need to try and pull energy to yourself. To pull energy is like making a shield, but the opposite. If you don’t, you’re going to die. I can’t bear to lose you like I lost Syra. I love you.” His lips grazed my forehead.

I couldn’t nod or speak. I watched his tired, soot stained face retreat from me. I’m going to die and I’m all alone. My breathing was ragged. What did Travis say? My heart was slowing. I could feel it dying in my chest. My fingers came into focus. There’s no ring. I’ve never been married. My life has accounted for nothing. I’m cold. I don’t want to die this way. I watched in a disconnected way as my fingers tried to grip the sheet and pull it closer to me. Pull. Travis said to pull. He said he loved me. Closing my eyes I tried to feel energy around me. I can see the room. How can I see the room? I can see the IV drip and the edges of the bed but I wasn’t seeing it with my eyes, I was seeing the energy of the atoms.

Energy. Pull. I need to pull the energy. I watched through this strange vision how the light of the IV stand faded and went dark. I feel better. My mind is clearer. Pull. I need to pull more. Opening my eyes I watched the room disintegrate around me into fine black dust. My pain was gone. My heart steady. I was lying naked at the bottom of a small crater.

“Travis! Travis!” I screamed over and over again until I felt his arms lift me up and carry me from the crater. My eyes could no longer stay open.

***

“Alana. Wake up.” My lips tingled as Travis’ lips touched mine.

“Mmmm. There you are.” Opening my eyes I stared into Travis’ face. It was clean this time but his eye was black as if he’d been hit by something. “You’re hurt!” With the startling revelation I bolted upright, my hands moving quickly over Travis’ face and body.

“I’m fine. I’m all right. Just a bruise from the crash. You almost left me.”

“Where are we?”

“We’re still at Area 51 but in another section. These are executive quarters. We had to move you after you disintegrated several hospital rooms. How are you feeling?”

“I feel fine. I disintegrated several rooms?” Taking a moment to look around the comfortably appointed room I focused back on Travis. “What happened? We were on the Tomosi ship then I don’t remember any more.”

“You shut down their ship and wrapped us both in a shield as we crashed into the ground. It took several hours before the military dug us from the debris. You were barely alive. Somehow you managed to shield us both all that time. We took you to the hospital room and I watched the doctor’s do everything they could to try to save you.”

“You were there. That wasn’t a dream?”

“I thought I’d lost you. I watched as the room around you disappeared. You pulled the energy from everything around you leaving you at the bottom of a twenty foot deep hole.”

“You saved me.”

“No. You saved the base, the President, and me. The Tomosi were all killed in the crash.”

“You saved me by your words. Things are so fuzzy, but I swear you said you loved me. I held onto those words. It’s all that kept me alive.”

He grinned. “I might have said something like that.”

“So now what?” I glanced under the sheet. “It appears that I’m naked.”

“You burned up your clothes but you still have what you brought in my spaceship. I can go there and bring something back for you to wear.”

“I’m not letting you out of my sight. We go together.”

***

By the time we returned to the base the place was in a state of organized chaos. I felt completely normal. We were asked to meet once again with the Joint Chiefs and the President.

Walking into the room I felt all eyes on me. The stares were penetrating, questioning, perhaps a little in awe. Glancing at Travis for reassurance, he nodded and put his hand on the small of my back to push me forward. The room was deathly silent. “I’m sorry. This was my fault. The Tomosi were after me and people died.” Silence remained. In my heart I was still and American and I felt like I betrayed them. I extended both of my hands and stepped towards a guard. “I’ll cooperate fully.”

The President stood and guided me to a seat at the table. “We appreciate your concern but don’t think, even for a moment, that we blame you. The silence in the room and the solemn faces are our response at coming face to face with a power so strong that we were like mere motes of dust. According to Travis, it was you that shut down the Tomosi spaceship and brought it down at significant risk to your own life. We’re in your debt.”

“Before the attack you felt you needed more proof.”

“I’m not sure you’re aware, but that attack was a week ago. You’ve been unconscious all that time. We have our best minds disassembling what’s left of the Tomosi ship. Travis wouldn’t leave your side but managed to be a significant help in uncovering media logs from the Tomosi. It’s clear they sent the signal to wipe the planet and we now have access to their plans for humanity. More importantly, we have access to their technology. A joint global taskforce has been convened to prepare for the attack and disseminate the information gathered. We know what’s coming and the world is bracing. Your efforts to reach out to us have given us the only chance we have at surviving.”

“I feel I need to be honest with you all. While this body is not from Earth, I’m from Earth. My real name is Jeff Martin and Travis is the only real alien here.”

The President smiled. “We know who you are, Alana. The media we recovered from the Tomosi showed Jeff’s capture and J’tamong’s attempt at taking over your body. Travis was helpful in our understanding of your transition and who you are now. We didn’t feel it was our place to bring it up. What took place, took place and you are who you are. However, your admission helps us to understand your motives and builds trust. I’ve witnessed more wonders in the past week than I have my entire life. There are so many things I can’t comprehend but I simply have to accept them.”

“How can we help?”

“I came and visited you several times while you were unconscious. Travis and I had lengthy conversations. It was inspiring to hear him recount his experience at the Alamo. Like the people of the Alamo, Earth is surrounded by an unyielding expanse of space. It’s as much of a barrier to us right now as the Mexican army was for them. We have no option for retreat and no option for evacuation. We have to fight. Travis has mentioned that there is a slim chance the Rebellion could be convinced to fight against the Tomosi destroyers. The problem is that we need him here to direct the creation of the Earth’s defense.”

I looked over at Travis as a hole inside of me grew. My heart began pumping faster. “What are you saying?”

Travis took my hand in his. “He’s saying that to do everything we need to do you and I need to separate. You would go to the Rebellion and convince them to come to Earth’s rescue while I would stay to offer assistance with the technology they need to defend themselves.”

I’m going to throw up. “You can’t be serious. I can’t fly a spaceship to a place I’ve never been to, speak to human aliens I’ve never met and don’t know their language, and convince them somehow to rescue Earth.”

Travis looked sadly towards me. “It’s the best chance. You’re the only person on Earth that can gather the necessary information to learn everything you need to in order to accomplish this. Your chromosome count allows you to absorb information and knowledge like a sponge. You can speak any language, even though you might not know it now. I have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the technologies we’re up against and an ability to help Earth manufacture weapons based on the Tomosi weapons.”

“How long? How long would it take?”

“It would take a year to get to the closest Rebellion base and back.”

“And when do you expect the Tomosi destroyers to arrive?”

Travis’ eyes fell and his voice softened. “Eleven months.”

“Assuming I convinced the Rebellion to come, Earth would have to survive a month.” Standing up I angrily pushed myself away from the table. “Damn it! I need to speak with Travis alone.”

“Take your time.”

Grabbing Travis’ arm I led him from the room as I burst into tears. My breathing burned my lungs and my heart felt like it was being squeezed in a vice. His lips found mine. They were full of passion and loss. My heart broke; shattering into a million pieces as I collapsed onto the floor. Travis wrapped his arms around me and held me tightly.

“I’m weighing my own desires against all humanity on Earth and my heart chooses you Travis.”

“You know it’s the right thing to do.”

“Tell me you’re not making up for teleporting away at the last minute from the Alamo. Tell me why you’re so suddenly concerned about humans on Earth.” My voice faltered. “Tell me you love me.”

“I love you, Alana. It’s your love that’s making me see this is the right thing to do. I’d lost my passion for everything until you came along and I’ve watched you sacrifice yourself over and over again. That’s why I need to stay and why I know, without a doubt, that your voice will unshackle the Rebellion that’s been stagnating and unmoved by the plight of humanity.”

“You have a lot of faith in me. More than I do myself.”

“I don’t fall in love with just anyone. They either need to make good bacon or have something intrinsically more valuable.”

“You have to hold out an entire month and the longer we sit here the more time you have to survive. I’m not leaving until we have at least one real date.”

“That’s a deal.” Travis stood and lifted me up and into his strong arms. “You ready to save the world?”

“How did I get myself involved in all of this?”

“It was fate.”

“When I find Fate, I’m going to kick her ass.”

We entered the conference room again and as before all eyes were on me. “I’ll do it.”

The President stood and took my hand in his. “We won’t keep you. You need to know the world is clamoring for another glimpse of you and we’ll gather the media for your departure.”

“Just make sure they keep me off Saturday Night Live while I’m gone.”

The President laughed. “I know the feeling well. Godspeed, Alana. We’ll hold them off.”

***

It had been only a day since we last met with the President. In that time Travis showed me the basics of flying the spaceship. He had preprogrammed the navigation and given me the instructions for initiating that. Travis had been correct in that I could rapidly absorb technical information and he had me fly the ship to a location in the Maldives as a test but more as a chance to get away alone together. We hovered over the ocean as the sun set, the ship was in full stealth mode, and the walls and floors transparent. It was a very romantic location.

“You have everything you need, Alana. I’ve shown you the basics and how you can gain access to the knowledge banks. There’s a system to put you in suspended animation for longer durations if you feel you need it. You know how to get food, water, and how the top secret bathroom works. You can learn how to establish training programs to maintain your fitness.”

“I’ll figure it out. I’ll have lots of time on my hands. Why is it we can’t do a radio conference call and get them here in six months?”

“There must be relays between the portals. When a signal reaches a relay, the relay goes through the portal and retransmits the signal on the other side. The Tomosi sent their signal and it is still on its way. For us to communicate properly with the Rebellion, we need two-way conversation. That’s not going to happen with such long gaps in time. We can send a distress signal, but the Rebellion hasn’t responded to one of those in a million years. There are four portals you need to fly through. The distance from portal to portal is what takes the longest time to travel. When you exit the fourth, you’ll have to begin sending signals of your approach to the Rebellion base.”

“I’ve got it.”

“You’re not talking much.”

“I’m just trying to keep myself together and not fall apart in a pool of tears.”

“I have something for you. It’s a bit of Earth tradition, but I like the concept.” Travis took my hand in his and got down on one knee. “You already have my last name, but will you, Alana Bowie, do me the honor of being my wife?”

For the briefest of moments I forgot about everything going on and pulled Travis up into my arms. My lips met his and my voice squeaked out a gentle, “Yes.” A cold metal band slipped onto my ring finger and I vaguely recalled the moment I looked at my finger when I was dying.

Travis grinned and led me to the bed where we spent the next few hours consummating our commitment to each other. As I lay there in his arms the tears came in full force. “I’ll not see you for a year and when I return I don’t know what I’ll find.”

“I’ll make it. I know this is hard, harder than anything I’ve ever had to do. I didn’t expect things to happen this way. The President is waiting for us and it’s important for the news media and the world sees you off. The world needs hope and you’re more than the hope of the world. You’re my hope and my future. I have one more thing for you.”

Watching Travis get up from the bed I had to quiet my heart. I’d already determined I’d do everything possible to be ready for my return but as he stepped away my resolve faltered. He returned with a wooden box about a foot long by eight inches wide. Upon opening the box I looked upon an old, crudely fashioned knife.

“This was James Bowie’s knife. He gave it to me on the final day of the battle at the Alamo. I want you to have it.”

A new wave of feeling overwhelmed washed over me. “This isn’t the Alamo, Travis! You’re not going to die on me! You hear me! You’re not going to die!”

“Shhhh. It’s going to be all right. I promise you. We’ll be married just over one year from today. One year will go by fast. You and I can easily have five hundred years together.”

“This is so hard. I’ve got something for you too. Hold out your hand.” Dropping the little metal cube into his hand I watched him wrap his fingers around it like it was the most precious thing in the world.

“The tracking device I gave you.”

“I don’t care what’s going on here when I get back, but I’m coming straight for you.”

***

The spaceship stood on the tarmac with Air Force One behind it. Hundreds of cameras and news media outlets all awaited my departure. Travis stood by my side and I refused to accept protocol by standing a foot or so apart. I held his hand and stayed close to him much to the dismay of the senior officials that felt I should show no affection towards Travis.

The President walked to the podium. “The world as we know it is forever changed. I’ve often pondered my life especially at times when things were going badly and wondered what impact I made in the world. If I knew I was to die in a year, how would I live my life? We all have those thoughts right now. Eleven months from now Tomosi destroyers will come to wipe humanity from the face of the Earth. It’s funny that now I have a deadline, a known date when I’m expected to die, and I’m not thinking about my legacy. I’m thinking how I’ll sacrifice everything to show those Tomosi that Earth isn’t going to take this lying down! Humanity will rise up and we will fight side by side! Alana, please come to the podium.”

I’d thought I’d just bow and get on the ship. This wasn’t part of the ceremony I was expecting. I walked to the stage and the podium. The crowd cheered.

“You know Alana as the alien human that brought the news of our common enemy to us that day she and Travis landed on the Whitehouse lawn. She nearly died bringing down the Tomosi spaceship, saving countless lives at Area 51. Today, we’re sending her on a mission that will likely be our only hope. She’s leaving everything, sacrificing all for the people of Earth. I present Alana the highest honor any President can bestow, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

He placed the medal around my neck and it weighed heavily between my breasts. He indicated I should take the podium. “This next year will be the longest year of my life. I’ll travel thousands of light years to try to persuade a beaten and defeated humanity to rise up against the deadliest enemy known in the universe; to try and convince them to come to Earth’s aid. I have no idea how I’ll accomplish that, but know, even if I fail, I’ll return and I’ll fight alongside every one of you. Now, I must go, for every second I stay is another second the people of Earth must fight for their survival without support. The odds are bleak, but you can do it.”

I couldn’t bear to hear anything more. Turning from the podium I walked up to Travis and fell into his arms, kissing him over and over. “I love you, Travis.”

“I love you, Alana.”

I was barely able to see the walkway through the tears. At the top of the ramp I sighed, closed the door to the ship, and initiated the navigation system. I screamed in agony as the Earth fell away behind me.

***

For the longest time I sat and watched the blue dot of the Earth rapidly retreating from me. I was the first human from Earth to go beyond the borders of its orbit and yet felt nothing of the historical nature of that moment. When Earth vanished from my sight I climbed into bed and just lay there hugging my knees to my chest. The vast emptiness of space left me feeling completely isolated and bereft.

It was approximately two days later that I got myself up. Travis was back on Earth doing everything he could to help Earth be ready. The least I could do is prepare as well. I began by reading everything I could about the ship and its technology. When I say reading, my new body absorbed any information it saw instantly. By the end of the first week I’d absorbed the entire set of information on spaceflight and how the ship functioned. I grew frustrated as I could envision enhancements to the drive system but I had no way of making those modifications without access to tools and materials.

I found training files for fighting techniques and how to fly ships in atmosphere. The ship had programs to fight hand to hand against virtual foes and I spent hours everyday training and honing my body and skills. I researched humanoid history and how the Rebellion began. I poured myself into training and study.

As I approached the first portal I reviewed information on what the experience was like, but nothing could have truly prepared me. The stars vanished and stretched and the universe went cold and silent. I was suspended with nothing around me. There was no feeling, no sense of time, nothing but a frozen moment; then came a churning and twisting and squeezing feeling. Light flooded the ship, and suddenly the universe returned to normal. The stars were all in different places now.

By the time the fourth portal came and went I was far more prepared, but not for the message that came on the far side. I was about to initiate contact with the Rebellion when an image of Travis stood beside me. He looked so real. I reached for him and fell through his image.

“Hello, Alana. By now nearly five months have passed and you’re close to your destination. Although this is just a mere recording from five months ago, I know every minute of every day I’ve been thinking about you. It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you the reality of the situation here on Earth. I’ve lived here over one hundred and eighty-five years. I know the technology and capabilities of humans intimately. The fact is the Earth has no chance of defending themselves against the Tomosi. The technology is too limited and the materials on Earth too rare to build weapons and defenses that could withstand an assault. We’ll make a good show for ourselves, but there will be no surviving the Tomosi attack.”

I hadn’t cried in months and now my tears were once again flowing. I knew what he was going to say next.

“The day the Tomosi attacked Area 51 you sacrificed yourself for me. I knew at that moment you had to live. I made the decision to stay knowing that survival here is non-existent. I knew you wouldn’t leave Earth without some good reason so this plan to save Earth was formed not so much to save Earth, but to save you.”

“Nooo!” I screamed.

“I urge you to find a new life at the Rebellion base. Don’t come back.” He wiped back his own tears. “I love you, Alana.”

The image vanished as I fell to my knees. “Damn you, Travis! I’m not giving up! I’ll never give up!”

I began sending messages to the Rebellion base. I gave them a list of everything I needed. I provided them my arrival time and urgent need to meet with the commanders of the Rebellion immediately upon my arrival. I sent them media from the Tomosi and the plans they had to wipe out Earth.

It was several weeks later I received a reply. “This is Rebellion Base #34 responding to Alana aboard Earth Reconnaissance One. We have received your communications and await your arrival.”

Two weeks later my ship landed on a very Earth-like planet. I was struck by the people and the technology, the purple hue to the sky, but I took it all in as secondary to my mission. I was immediately ushered into a very large glass-like structure with several hundred officers of the Rebellion. I knew many of them by name from the history logs aboard the ship. I even knew the very strict protocols I was supposed to follow.

I recognized General Yazwy. “We understand you’re requesting an immediate departure back to Earth with a full squadron of our battle cruisers. I’m afraid we’ve already discussed this at length and are denying your request.”

I looked down at the table. It appeared to be of wood. Pulling out James Bowie’s knife I slammed it point first into the table causing a large chunk of the table to fly away. “That’s the wrong answer!”

“You’re out of protocol!”

“To Hell with the protocol!” Of course, Hell was a translation into something similar their language used. “I didn’t come all this way to be told by a bunch of whipped pansies their not willing to help.”

“If you don’t follow protocol, you’ll be forcefully removed!”

I had a lot of time to practice my unique eighty-niner skills on the ship. Grabbing the knife I lifted myself off the ground and floated over landing a few feet away from the General of the Rebellion. That rose a few eyebrows. Sitting down cross-legged in front of the General I laid the knife in front of him. “I’ll tell you a story. Over one hundred and eighty Earth years ago, there was a battle. One hundred men fought against fifteen hundred. It’s likely they could have all left and escaped letting the enemy take over their land, but they decided to make a stand. They fought bravely knowing that they would die. This knife belonged to one of the leaders of that battle. The humans on Earth are poised to be wiped out by Tomosi destroyers. They’re going to fight with every breath in their bodies just like the men that fought in that battle.”

“We’ve already decided…”

“I’m not finished yet.” I continued talking over the General. “I’ve analyzed the Tomosi destroyers. They have several weaknesses. Their rear shielding is weak as they’re designed for aggressive forward attacks. You see, humanity has been running from the Tomosi for millions of years. The Tomosi built their destroyers knowing we would retreat. According to Tomosi patterns, they’ll send a dozen destroyers to wipe out humanity on Earth. We know where and when these destroyers will be. We can come upon them suddenly from behind and take them out. We can harvest their technology. The Tomosi won’t be expecting an attack.”

“We have little too gain and much to lose even if what you say can be corroborated.”

I noticed some dissention in the room. “You say there’s little to gain. Did you review the footage of J’tamong trying to take over an Earth human’s body?”

“We did.”

“And yet you still felt there was little to gain in rescuing the humans on Earth?”

“What do we gain by risking our lives for low-level humans seeded by the Tomosi?” He spat it out as if seeded humans were filth.

“Even a low-level Earth human can find fault in your logic, General. Why do you suspect the Tomosi wish to wipe humanity away on Earth?”

“It’s clear that Earth humans are incompatible with Tomosi.”

“Very nicely stated, General. Earth humans are incompatible with Tomosi re-hosting and yet you feel there is little to gain. What if Earth human genetics can be shared with all humanity? The Tomosi would no longer be able to re-host anyone. If you ask me, Earth humans are the future of humanity.” Standing to my feet I walked to the center of the table leaving the knife in front of the General. Every eye followed me. “You say you’ve made your decision, but I’ll ask you again. We have an opportunity to strike offensively at the Tomosi, steal their technology, and save billions of human’s lives; humans that quite possibly hold the key to protecting all of humanity. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d like to make a few adjustments to my ship and head back to Earth. I’m not sure I’ll get there in time, but…” I held out my hand and Bowie’s knife flew into it. “… I’m going to do everything I possibly can to save them.”

Stepping down from the table I walked away. My eyes were closed as I prayed silently that they heard my message. “Wait!” I paused but didn’t turn around. “We need to discuss this further. However, you’re free to leave. We have a new prototype ship we’re willing to let you use. We’ll transfer your personal belongings over to it and you can be away within the hour. It should be able to get you back to Earth in five months and it has some new weapons. If nothing else, we applaud your bravery. Be well, Alana.”

Turning, I wiped a tear from my eye. “Thank you!”

I was escorted to a different landing bay. The ship waiting there was magnificent. This was a ship designed for all-out assault and speed. Larger than Travis’ by at least double. A tablet-like device was handed to me. “These are the operating instructions for the ship.”

I looked through the thousands of pages of documentation in a few seconds and handed the device back to the man. “Very nice. How long for my things to be moved over?”

“Shouldn’t be long now. I must say, I’ve never seen anyone talk so passionately before. I was in the room with the officers. Your words stirred them like no other before you.”

“Passion comes from what you love and what you risk. It’s time humanity takes a stand.”

“I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving side of this ship.”

“Tell me, to build a ship like this; someone must be tired of hiding?”

He smiled. “There are many of us tired of hiding. The Tomosi pick us off little by little. Too many have lost their loved ones.”

“Maybe there’s hope for humanity after all.”

“I’ve just got word your things are now aboard. The ship has been keyed to your presence. Good luck, Alana.”

“To you as well.”

Stepping onto the main control area of the ship it was easy to be impressed. “Earth Salvation One, you are cleared for departure.” I smiled at the name and rocketed into the sky.

***

Two weeks out from the Rebellion base I received a message. “Rebellion Base #34 to Earth Salvation One. Thirty Rebellion battleships and two hundred transports are departing for Earth. We’ve updated our engines based upon some design changes you sent us. We should arrive at Earth only a day behind you.”

“Earth Salvation One to Rebellion Base #34. Glad to hear. I’ll try to leave a few Tomosi for you.”

***

I was a day out from Earth and in full stealth mode for the past few months. My scanners showed that the Tomosi had staged their destroyers and were preparing for the first sweep of the planet. I couldn’t communicate with Earth as that would expose Rebellion plans. I pushed my ship as fast as it could go.

Still too far away to pick up Travis’ signal, but I felt him and I hope he felt me. Earth Salvation One was equipped with four heavy phase guns, eight full-spectrum ray guns, and an experimental shield disruption gun. The ship had excessive amounts of shields, but I suspect that I would need them. In atmosphere speeds should exceed five times the speed of the Tomosi destroyers. The Tomosi destroyers however, were absolutely massive, capable of continuous air to ground attacks spreading across fifty miles.

Trying to sleep was fruitless. Instead I worked on a lighting scheme for the exterior of the ship. I needed something to keep my mind busy and this could be used to get a message to Earth troops. I couldn’t radio communications for fear the Tomosi would intercept it but I could get a visual message out and I didn’t want to be targeted by friendly forces.

I’d been watching television from Earth for the past week. It was strange as a week ago I watched the broadcasts of my departure from Earth and every day I got closer was like seeing a month of news transpire. Such was the effect at travelling over the speed of light.

I saw glimpses of Travis in the news. He was wearing a necklace with the tracking cube. I caught a glimpse of it once. He looked good, purposeful in his actions. He didn’t know I was coming and the Earth was preparing for a long siege. I caught no news of new weapons and wondered if Travis had schooled them not to broadcast anything to give the Tomosi an edge.

I also saw Harold, Brian, Sean, Cheryl, the four Travis and I met with Frank at the UBO meeting in San Antonio. They now had a television show called UBO and spoke about beer and the sexual nature of highly evolved humans. They apparently became rather famous almost overnight since my departure.

***

Four hours from Earth entry I watched in horror the news of a few days ago. A single Tomosi scout ship had descended through the clouds and began scanning the Earth’s surface. People ran screaming and missiles shot at the scout did no damage whatsoever.

“According to experts, this is a Tomosi scout ship. It scans the Earth’s surface looking for any significant threats and concentrations of human life. The Tomosi destroyers are coming. God help us all!”

Earth was now very visible and I could see huge swaths of light in a handful of locations on Earth. The destroyers were already attacking.

A ping sounded and I glanced at a screen. Travis’ signal just appeared. At this distance, it’s about twelve hours old but the signal was strong. Bringing maps of Earth up I targeted the destroyers. Two hours ago a destroyer entered Earth’s atmosphere near Travis’ signal. But there was something else. A Tomosi transport ship landed behind the destroyer. Zooming in I could make out robots. They had phase guns. People that survived the first pass of the destroyer were being taken out by the robots. From my perspective it reminded me of the Terminator movies.

Moving throughout the ship I found additional special tactical gear that I put on. While I had my own energy I could rely on, there was no need taxing myself if I didn’t have to. The gear actually looked a little sexy on me and after eleven months of missing Travis, I wanted to make an impression. Convenient and practical gear but also sexy. I liked that.

An hour before entry Travis’ signal began to stabilize and it was now near Area 51. I saw no commercial air traffic but military planes were now visible on my screens. They were attacking one of the destroyers with some variant of a phase gun. Small amounts of damage were seen on the destroyer, but planes were dropping like flies.

Ten minutes to Earth’s atmosphere I spotted a destroyer had altered course and was approaching Area 51. My sensors were picking up large magnetic fluctuations from the ground there. The Tomosi must see that as well. I plotted an intercept course. Eleven minutes. The destroyer would be in range of Area 51 in ten.

***

Travis watched the sky as the destroyer descended through the clouds. The smoke and mist rolled around the giant ship like it was on fire. “We’ve got one chance at this sucker. Hold until its phase beams hit the end of the tarmac!” Reports from all over the Earth were coming in. The new weapons were having little effect. He watched the ship turn directly towards him. “I love you, Alana. Glad you’re not here.”

“Ready the weapon!” The ground shook as the destroyer laid waste to a fifty mile wide swatch of Earth. “Fire!”

A massive phase gun tipped missile hurled itself from the ground. “Hit the shield disruptor!”

A ray of light angled up from the ground hitting the destroyer’s shields opening a small hole just as the missile passed through smashing and exploding into the hull of the great ship. There was a cheer that could be heard above the explosion, and the destroyer stalled as if it contemplated what had just happened. Slowly, the ship turned again towards Travis.

Travis watched in horror as the destroyer charged its phase gun array with a low hum and sizzle in the air. He stood proud and stared at the orchestrator of his imminent death when suddenly the clouds behind the destroyer swirled and the great destroyer shattered into the smallest of fragments. Travis watched the air shimmer and a ship like he’d never seen before materialized before him. Red, white, and blue lights flickered over the sides and then the voice came. “I come in peace.”

***

A quick scan of the area let me know everything that was going on. Robots were coming but were a good ten minutes away. Landing the ship on the tarmac in front of Travis and the forces there I opened the door and stepped slowly towards the line of soldiers that had raised their weapons towards me.

I hadn’t taken more than a few steps when Travis ran forward and swept me into his arms. His arm waved behind him to lower their weapons and my lips eagerly sought his. “I’ve dreamed of this moment every time I slept, hoping against hope that somehow, by some miracle, you’d still be alive when I returned.”

“I never thought I’d see you again. I’ve missed you terribly, Alana. I love you.”

“I love you, Travis. Unfortunately we’re not out of this yet. Tomosi robot ground forces are coming in.” As if in confirmation of my statement a Humvee exploded not too far from us. Diving to the side, I rolled, pulled my phase gun from my thigh holster, and fired damaging the leading robot but not taking it out. “Send these people to cover. I could use a copilot!”

“I know just the person.” Travis turned and yelled commands sending the soldiers scattering in all directions. “Let’s go!”

Scrambling back aboard the ship I watched Travis pause and whisper a “wow”. I smiled.

“Full stealth mode. Target all Tomosi systems in the area.”

A voice sounded within the ship. “Full stealth mode enabled. Fifty-three targets acquired.”

Guiding the ship off the ground we could see the entire base was now fully engaged. “Engage full-spectrum ray guns. Fire!” We both watched in amazement at the efficiency of the ray guns against the Tomosi robots. Eight steady streams of purplish white light moved seemingly randomly from robot to robot leaving them burning on the ground with foot wide holes in them.

I made several sweeps making sure the area was secure before hovering over the base once again. “Stealth mode off. Broadcast on. This is the Rebellion spaceship, Earth Salvation One. The area is secure.” Turning the ship around I flew up into the clouds. “Broadcast off. Full stealth mode. Plot intercept course for closest Tomosi destroyer.”

“Full stealth mode engaged. Intercept in five minutes, twenty three seconds.”

Grabbing Travis by his collar I pushed him up against a wall and kissed him passionately. “God, I missed you!”

I felt his hands roaming my body. “I never thought I’d touch you again.”

“We need to have a little talk about your message I received after the fourth portal but that will have to wait. Engage full ship permissions for Travis Bowie.”

“Engaged.”

“I take it that you were successful? How did you get here so fast?”

“The Rebellion council denied my request at first but I persuaded them it was in their best interest to come. This ship was a prototype they were working on. It’s like a Bugatti to your old Lada.”

“I would have loved to see you meet with the General.”

“I decided following protocol wasn’t in anyone’s best interest. Rebellion forces are twenty-four hours behind me. You up to a little fighting yet?”

“You know I am. You’ve changed. You’re more confident.”

“Eleven months on a ship by yourself with nothing better to do than study, learn, train, and prepare will do that to a person.”

“I take it you didn’t use the stasis?”

“Never crossed my mind. Four minutes to intercept. This ship doesn’t have the power to take out a destroyer as easily as the last one. I suspect that your shield disruption technology combined with the missile weakened it significantly for my four large phase guns. Did you by chance put the shield disruption technology on any planes?”

“We did. I knew the scout ship would map the Earth looking for the highest concentration of people and technology. We evacuated the people from the largest cities and have hidden them underground. We then placed millions of humanoid signature devices into the cities and staged our ground troops, jets, and weapons in those locations.”

Kissing Travis again I smiled. “You’re brilliant. You lured the destroyers away from the people and into traps.”

“I had a lot of help but as you saw the traps aren’t very successful.”

“The Tomosi have been fighting humans for millions of years and humans have always retreated. They made some fatal mistakes in designing their destroyers. They were designed to protect against frontal assault. The rear of their ships is weak, particularly around their exhaust systems. From what I’ve seen, your weapons are still too rudimentary to take them out, but if your planes could open gaps in their shields and fire phase missiles, enough damage might be done to give you and I a chance at taking them out. The problem is that we need to keep this ship quiet. We can’t have radio communications telling the Tomosi we’re here or that we know about their weaknesses. Can you somehow reach the people of Earth?”

Travis’ grin was impressive. “Open broadcast channel 115.7821, encryption Rebellion A43.”

“Broadcast channel open.”

“This is Travis and Alana Bowie aboard Rebellion spaceship Earth Salvation One. Rebellion support is on its way but they won’t be here for twenty-four hours. We must hold our ground. Relay the following information…”

“This is Earth base thirteen to Earth Salvation One. Message received loud and clear. Welcome back to Earth Alana. It will be nice to speak with someone infinitely more beautiful than Travis.”

“Earth Salvation One to Earth base thirteen. Target New York City destroyer, we intercept in one minute and twenty-seven seconds. Make a way for us and get out as quick as you can.”

“Roger Earth Salvation One.”

Turning off our broadcast we watched our monitors and listened to the broadcasts. “You managed to create encrypted radio channels that the Tomosi can’t listen to?”

“Not really. We didn’t have the technology to make it widespread so we installed in only a couple of bases. What we did was to create five radio streams on different frequencies. Voice is encrypted and broken up over those five frequencies and rebuilt at the receiving end. The Tomosi will eventually figure it out, but not for a month or more. That’s all we could hope for.”

“Visuals up. We’re coming in hot. Your planes did some damage. Target the right exhaust port with the shield disruptor gun and I’ll fire the phase guns.”

Our ship passed the airplanes like they were standing still and banked right just behind the destroyer. “Now!”

“Fire disruptor gun.”

“Firing shield disruptor gun.”

“Fire all phase guns.”

“Firing all phase guns.”

Banking the ship hard right we barely missed crashing into the destroyer’s remaining shields. Fully a third of the destroyer sheered away and fell towards the Earth. Somehow the rest of it managed to turn towards us. It opened fire in all directions.

“We’re taking fire!”

“I’ve got this. Hang on! Target the exposed side of the destroyer.”

“But that’s on the far side of it.”

“It is now. Entering new navigational coordinates. Jump to light speed in three… two… one…” The ship lurched and a blinding flash lit up the sky. The destroyer pinpointed the source of the flash and opened fire but we were no longer there. With another lurch and flash we were now on the far side of the destroyer. “Fire!”

The destroyer was pummeled by my ship’s weapons and slowly piece by piece it fell from the sky.

“You jumped to light speed while in atmosphere?”

“I’ve read everything and in theory this ship could handle it.”

“I have to admit, you’re very sexy with all this new confidence and knowledge.”

“Earth base thirteen to Earth Salvation One, we have a confirmed kill on the New York destroyer. Good job.”

“Earth Salvation One to Earth base thirteen. It was close. By now the Tomosi know something is going on. Alert your pilots that the destroyers will start changing tactics. We’re heading towards London next.”

“Roger.”

“Screens up. Display locations of all Tomosi destroyers.”

“Alana, this doesn’t look good. They’re teaming up. Destroyers are moving back to back. They’ve figured out we found a weakness.”

“Set intercept course for Tomosi destroyers over London.”

“Intercept in seven minutes, fifteen seconds.”

“We have seven minutes to figure out what we’re going to do. I could really use another kiss.”

Travis wrapped me in his arms and kissed me. “You’re shaking.”

“Maybe I’m not as confident as I sound. You’re the first person I’ve touched since I left Earth. Deep down, I know you were faithful, but every day I feared the worst. Either you were killed or you found someone else.”

“There’s no one else in this entire universe for me. I’m glad you’re here and yet I’m afraid for you. You could be safe right now.”

“You think I’d let you have all the fun? I saw the pain in your eyes. One hundred and eighty-six years of mourning Syra. How you survived that at all is a mystery to me. I wasn’t about to put myself through that and let you die while I lived.”

“You’re still wearing your ring.”

“It’s never coming off. You’re stuck with me for at least six more minutes.”

“What’s your plan?”

“The destroyers are like giant apartment buildings. They’re large and rectangular. In Earth’s atmosphere, they’re also ponderously slow and their heavy guns are angled downward towards the surface. Two destroyers back to back still can’t get very close together. There’s a gap. If we can get between them and open fire we might be able to do some damage.”

“What if they squeeze us in between?”

“We’ll have to fly very fast.”

“All right, but we won’t fly straight down, we’ll attack them from the side. If we make it through one run, then we turn off stealth to let them track us. They’ll be forced to coordinate turning ninety degrees to get their main guns on us.”

“We can then initiate stealth again and attempt another run. Sounds like a plan. We need the airspace cleared. Earth Salvation One to Earth base thirteen. We need airspace over London cleared. ETA to targets is four minutes.”

“Earth base thirteen to Earth Salvation One. Roger that. Clearing airspace. We’re seeing activity of another ship in the area. Is that Rebellion?”

“No such luck Earth base thirteen. It appears to be the Tomosi scout ship.”

“That’s a lot of firepower you’re heading into Earth Salvation One.”

“Let’s hope it works to our advantage. Tell the people on the ground in London to put their helmets on. At least one ship is going to fall from the sky.”

“Godspeed Earth Salvation One. Earth base thirteen out.”

“What are you thinking, Alana?”

“Ever see Indiana Jones and the last Crusade?”

“Yes, but I’m not sure how this situation relates.”

“Remember the boat chase where Indiana went between the two large boats with another boat pursuing them?”

“So you want to attack the scout ship and draw them in between the destroyers?”

“Same plan as before but we get the scout to follow us in.”

“Intercept in one minute.”

“Travis…”

“We’ll make it out of this.”

“I sure hope so.”

The ship stopped and hovered over the two destroyers. The scout ship was above the destroyers and to the south.

“Do you think they anticipated we’d come here next, Travis?”

“It’s possible. We’ve made a line from Area 51 to New York. It would make some sense.”

“From what I’ve discovered, their scout ship is pretty heavily gunned and shielded. Once we open fire, they’ll be able to pinpoint where we are and fire back. Are you ready?”

“Ready. Targeting scout ship with full-spectrum ray guns. That won’t do much damage but it will get their attention. Targeting exhaust ports on both destroyers for shield disruptor shots. Targeting same spots for heavy phase guns.”

“I guess I’ll just fly then.”

“…and look beautiful while you do that.”

The corner up my mouth twitched upward. “Beginning run in three, two, one.”

The ship jumped forward swooping down towards the scout ship and angling for a run between the destroyers. “Fire ray guns.” Rays of light burst forth and the scout shields lit up like a Christmas tree. “Their following!”

“Aft shields at full strength.”

We felt the impact of the scout’s phase guns almost immediately. “They’ve locked onto us.”

“Beginning run between the destroyers.”

“Fire shield disruptors.”

“This is tight! The destroyers are shifting.”

“Fire phase guns!”

“Aft shields twenty percent.”

“Our side shields are hitting the destroyer’s shields. Banking sideways.”

More impacts from the scout’s phase guns hit us hard.

“Stealth mode failed. Aft shields five percent. Side shields forty percent.”

“The destroyers are moving towards each other. They’re trying to crush us!”

“We’ve done some significant damage to the destroyers. The scout’s shields are ten percent. Get us out of here!”

“Direct all shield energy to aft shields!”

“Phase gun failure.”

The ship burst out of the sliver of space that remained between the two destroyers. A massive explosion erupted directly behind us, the shock wave threatening to throw our ship into the ground.

“Scout ship is destroyed and the two destroyers are colliding! Their shields can’t stop them.”

“Hang on! Front shields to maximum!”

“Front shields five percent.”

“Is that…”

“…Big Ben. I never liked that clock anyways.”

The ship sheared through Big Ben and leveled out.

“Ship status.”

“Shield energy one percent. Phase guns offline. Stealth mode failure. Enhanced light speed failure.”

I hovered the ship and turned to watch the destruction of the two destroyers as they imploded into each other and fell from the sky.

“You don’t see that every day.”

“Earth base thirteen to Earth Salvation One. We see you on our radar.”

“Earth Salvation One to Earth base thirteen. We survived but not without damage. Our stealth is gone, so are our shields and primary guns.”

“Roger, that was one Hell of a show you put on up there. We’re receiving reports that the destroyers have stopped firing on Earth.”

Looking over at Travis he was reviewing the monitors. “That’s because they can now see us. They’re all converging on our position.”

“Earth Salvation One here. They’re coming after us. I’m running the ship straight towards the inbound Rebellion fleet.”

“Earth base thirteen. That’s a roger. We’ll regroup and get ready for another wave. Earth base thirteen out.”

“Set intercept for Rebellion fleet.”

“Intercept in seven hours and twelve minutes. Tomosi destroyers will be in firing range in five hours thirty-seven minutes.”

I sighed and sat down. Travis came and sat next to me. “You did everything humanly possible. There’s an excellent chance the Tomosi destroyers will be eliminated by the Rebellion fleet. Earth will be saved.”

“Can I afford to be a little selfish in saying the only person I wanted to save was you?”

“I know you don’t mean that. You would have never gone after the other destroyers if that was the case. You have more passion and heart than anyone I know.”

Smiling weakly I grabbed Travis’ hand and pulled it up to my cheek. “I told someone five months ago that passion comes out of love. I love Earth. I love the people of Earth. I love you. Before all of this happened, before I became Alana, and before the Tomosi kidnapped me, I could safely say I loved nothing and my life had accounted for nothing. Sometimes it takes a threat to our very existence to make us realize what’s really important.”

Travis pulled me to my feet and led me to the bedroom. Lying down I pulled his arms around me.

“When’s the last time you slept, Alana?”

“Days? A week maybe?”

“I want you to know that you saved me from the moment you tackled me in the motel bedroom and wanted to make love to me.”

“That is not what happened!”

“I was about to leave when you rolled me over onto my back and straddled me.”

“Why you bacon-loving, lying…”

“Earth Salvation One, this is General Yazwy of the Rebellion fleet.”

I sighed. “Nice to hear from you, General.”

“You do realize that prototype ship was never designed to take on a Tomosi destroyer, let alone four of them and a Tomosi scout ship?”

“I swear, General, that humans have some kind of genetic defect to make them think that they can save an entire world with a spoon.”

“We’re very impressed by you, Alana. You’ve no idea what your short visit to our council has done, or should I say undone.”

“Sorry to have caused you any trouble, General. In about five hours, you won’t have me to worry about any more.”

“On the contrary. We need you to reroute to the coordinates we’re sending you.”

Getting up I looked at the maps. “There is nothing there, General.”

“That’s exactly what the Tomosi think too.”

***

“Three minutes to Tomosi destroyers in firing range.”

“Direct all remaining shield energy to front shields. Ready all full spectrum ray guns and the shield disruptor gun.”

There was no sign of the Rebellion fleet and the Tomosi destroyers were closing fast. I stood with my head buried in Travis’ shoulder, my fingers entwined with his.

“Once the Tomosi destroyers are in range, open fire with everything we have and keep firing.”

The eight destroyers were now directly in front of us and very visible. Lights flickered across their gun banks. They were putting every ounce of energy into them. Our ship began firing automatically.

“I love you, Travis. I wish we had more time together. I wanted to get married. I wanted children.”

Travis tipped his head and kissed me. “You’re a very special woman, Alana. I think we might just get the chance. Look.”

A massive Rebellion ship materialized right next to us just as the destroyers fired. Its shield flickered with the energy it was absorbing from the phase guns. The destroyers stopped firing and slowly began turning around as the Rebellion fleet emerged and opened fire on their exposed weak rear shields. One by one the Tomosi destroyers were obliterated.

Tears fell from my eyes as I hugged Travis. “We can go home.”

“Earth Salvation One, this is General Yazwy of the Rebellion fleet.”

“You like to cut things close, General.”

“I suspect I breached protocol a little, but you don’t seem particular fond of protocol anyways.”

“I guess I deserved that.”

“How would you like to lead the fleet to Earth?”

“It would be an honor, General. I hope you don’t mind if Earth Salvation One goes silent for a few hours?”

“Not at all, Alana.”

“See you on the ground, General.”

Travis turned to me. “You planning on getting some sleep?”

“Not a chance.” Grabbing his hand I led him to the bed.

***

“Thirty minutes to Earth entry.”

“God, we need to shut that thing off.”

“I waited one hundred and eighty-six years to have sex and then I met you and you rocked my world. Then you up and left for a year. You can’t imagine how much I needed that.”

“Oh, I can certainly imagine. Try being stuck on a ship alone for eleven months.”

“We should radio ahead.”

“Go ahead, Travis. I need to find something to wear. You do realize that now the Earth is sticking around I’m going to need a lot more clothes?”

“I’m going to have to go to work to earn some money.”

“I really miss bacon. I’ve been eating these protein cubes for so long I don’t even know what real food tastes like any more.”

Travis smiled. “Earth base thirteen, this is Earth Salvation One.”

“Earth base thirteen here. Really glad to hear from you. We thought we lost you both.”

“The Tomosi are destroyed. We had some help from our Rebellion friends.”

“Woohoo! I’ll pass the word.”

“Any suggestions for landing?”

“The President just landed in Area 51. DC buildings were wiped out. He’s setting up shop there for a bit. What’s your ETA?”

“Twenty-seven minutes. Any chance someone could scrounge up some bacon and eggs? I’ve got a very hungry fiancé here.”

“For Alana? I’ll cook it myself. See you all soon. Earth base thirteen out.”

I hadn’t worn any Earth clothing for eleven months even though my clothes were packed on the ship. I sidled up to Travis wearing a revealing black dress and heels. “You’re wearing that?”

“I figure the Rebellion needs to make a good first impression. Besides, I saw you on television. You’re a celebrity and I have to make you look good.”

“You won’t believe this, but there was more television about you than anyone else. Do you remember those four people from the UBO meeting?”

“Yes. It seems so long ago now.”

“They became famous as the four that met Alana Bowie before the President did. They have their own television show called UBO where they discuss the sexual traits of eighty-niners while sampling craft beer.”

“I saw a few of their episodes. I found it interesting that they theorized I could have a sustained orgasm for days.”

“When the dust settles, I’d be happy to test out that theory.”

***

“Activate patriotic lighting.”

“Patriot lighting activated.”

“Really?”

“How often do I get a chance to be on television after the Earth is saved?”

Travis smiled and kissed me as the ship landed on the Area 51 tarmac. The Rebellion fleet landed behind us across spreading across the desert like a sea of black metal. The doors opened and I paused. “I’ll be right back.”

“Everyone’s waiting.”

“Let them wait.”

A minute later I took Travis’ arm and stepped off the ship. The cheers were deafening. The President stepped forward to greet us. “I love the little red, white, and blue light show. Welcome back to Earth, Alana and Travis. The Earth owes everything to you both.”

I stared at the soldiers standing behind the President who had risked their lives against such impossible odds. Wiping the tears from my eyes I pulled a knife from a box I was carrying. “All due respect, Mr. President, but you’re all the real heroes. The people of Earth fought valiantly. This knife belonged to James Bowie, given to Travis on the day of the final battle of the Alamo. It travelled twenty thousand light years as a symbol of the courage of Earth’s humanity. This belongs to the people of Earth.” Hearing footsteps behind me I turned to see General Yazwy. “Mr. President, I’d like you to meet General Yazwy of the Human Rebellion. His bold actions and his team eliminated eight Tomosi destroyers, saving Travis and me at the same time.” I watched them shake hands.

“General, I wasn’t the most pleasant the last time we met face to face.”

He turned to me and smiled. “We decided to leave the conference table damaged by that knife of yours as a symbol of our own fear and humiliation. I can’t believe we never considered the value of humans that proved unsuitable to be host by the Tomosi. Earth Salvation One is now yours Alana providing you and Travis support our efforts in the future. I’ll have our engineers fix it up and apply the engine changes you’ve designed.”

“I have something for you, General.” Pulling my Presidential Medal of Freedom from a box I placed it around his neck. “This medal is a symbol of freedom and courage. I think you deserve it far more than I do.”

The President stepped forward. “I hate to interrupt you both, but there is a lot happening right now. We need to begin the rebuilding process. I’d appreciate it if we could all meet in a few hours to look towards the future.”

We watched him turn and leave. “Alana?” Looking over I saw a man in uniform holding a plate of food.

“You’re the voice on the other end of Earth base thirteen?”

“The one and only.”

Looking at Travis I smiled and grabbed the plate, taking a bite. “Oh my God! This is heaven! Thank you!”

***

A few hours later I found myself in a large conference room. The Rebellion leaders were there as well as some of the Earth’s top leaders. The President began the meeting.

“Earth dodged a bullet and we must assume that the Tomosi will be returning. The question is how do we prepare? What do we do with the Tomosi vault containing billions of Tomosi souls? How are we going to continue to protect humanity on Earth?”

General Yazwy spoke up. “We brought two hundred transports, each capable of holding twenty-five thousand people. We’d be happy to take Earth humans to any number of our bases and planets. It is in all of humankind’s best interest to determine if Earth humans hold the key to protecting us from being hosted by the Tomosi. They would be integrated into our societies and provided everything they need to live comfortably. The Rebellion would also like to build a base here on Earth to help protect humans that wish to remain here. We’d like to oversee the destruction of the Tomosi vault.”

“All due respect, General, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the billions of Tomosi in their vault. Humanity used to live in harmony with them. I think, perhaps, it would be in our best interest to hang onto them. We can use their lives as negotiating leverage if we were ever to get to that point with the Tomosi. The Tomosi view us as little more than livestock. We’re better than this. We don’t have to stoop to the same level that they have.”

“I fail to understand the congruency of your beliefs. You came here to destroy the Tomosi and now you want to save them?”

“There is a difference between protecting that which we love and annihilating another species. Our own theories suggest the Tomosi may not be that much different than us. Perhaps our compassion on these billions of souls will kindle a new era of peace.”

***

A month later Travis and I found ourselves outside of a studio. “You sure you want to do this?”

“Not really, but these four people are my last link to Frank and in some ways to my old life. Besides, I’m anxious to try some of these beers.”

We were ushered into the studio and Harold, Brian, Sean, and Cheryl greeted us. “Thanks for coming on the show. It is an honor to have the heroes of Earth with us today. We have many questions for you and some live ones from the people of Earth. It was almost a year ago that we met you both down at Big Lou’s in San Antonio. This was before you even landed on the Whitehouse lawn. Why choose to meet us? Why choose us as the first contact?”

I smiled. “We heard the pizza was great.”

“You came thousands of light years for pizza?”

“Pizza and beer. Yes.”

Cheryl leaned towards Travis. “Did you come for sex with Earth humans?”

I placed a phase gun on the table. “Not to be rude, but Travis is mine. We’re getting married next week.”

“So does that mean you’re not having sex with Earth humans?”

Travis smiled and chimed in. “Of course we will be. Alana and I have decided to both live on Earth. That means we’re both Earth humans. I would like to note that you’re publicized theories are all true. Alana is absolutely fantastic in bed. There’s nothing like making love to an eighty-niner.”

I turned beet red and the four hosts sat with their mouths open. “Just to be clear… We’re exclusive. So when Travis says we’ll have sex with Earth humans, it’s only with each other. Did you want to try some beer now or do you have any other questions?”

***

“I can’t believe you took me here for breakfast after our wedding night.”

“You enjoyed the Marfa omelet the last time you were here.”

A male waiter came to our table. “You’re Alana Bowie. It’s such an honor to meet you.” He was ignoring Travis completely. “You’re far more beautiful in person. Television does nothing to show the color of your eyes or the highlights in your hair.”

“Why thank you. I’ll have the farmer’s breakfast with bacon. Could I get some extra bacon with that?”

“For you, sweetheart, I’ll bring an entire plate of bacon.”

Travis frowned and ordered and watched the waiter leave. “Service was much better last time.”

“At least he didn’t say I looked like a Las Vegas stripper.”

“Where would you like to honeymoon?”

“I hear Alpha Centauri is beautiful this time of year.”

“That’s a one month round trip.”

“Perfect. I don’t plan on sleeping much.”

Travis gave me his devastating grin. “I’m not eating protein cubes the entire trip. We need to stock up first.”

“You’ll need the extra energy.”

“You’re insatiable. I love it and I love you, Mrs. Bowie.”

***

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