A pair of themed pairs

A pair of Themed Pairs
By Paul Calhoun

I felt like riffing on a couple of ideas without making a big series out of them. Two love doll stories and two prehensile limbed alien stories. Sweet doll, stuck doll, exploited alien, opportunistic alien.

Adult for when you work out what the words 'venerate' and 'gratify' mean. Oh, and sex dolls. But really those two words are a hell of a lot dirtier in context.

Love Doll 1 - Sweet
Ben and Horace looked at Kyrie, who lay on the bed in her pajamas, the covers drawn up to just above her perky breasts, appearing to be asleep. With her soft, smooth skin, wavy blonde hair, hourglass figure and the round face of a girl who would be more likely to be called cute or pretty than beautiful, Kyrie looked like a real catch. She’d been made that way, after all. Soon, Jeff would be home to spend another night with Kyrie, like he did almost every night. Having a sex doll with a full wardrobe — including a few very expensive gowns and costumes - and who slept in a bed while he was away seemed like really weird to his two best friends, but when they looked at its full lips open just a little in silent invitation, they could almost understand his fascination. Kyrie looked hot and though they would never take her for a test run, they’d heard enough from Jeff to know that she was a very satisfying partner. They’d seen her remote control and she did have quite a few features that made her a nice toy. They’d never be able to fathom why he was so emotionally invested, but they did admire his taste and when they were sleeping on the couch after saying something that sounded right at the time, they almost envied him.

They also really liked him and when Ben suggested a very special birthday present for him, Horace agreed to help. He personally wouldn’t have done what Ben was about to, but he thought it was a very thoughtful thing and if Ben didn’t mind, Horace wasn’t about to stop him. Between the two of them, they’d made the necessary arrangements and bought the items necessary to make this a birthday Jeff would never forget.

They started by rolling in a large suitcase which had been loaded with everything they’d need. The first thing out was a set of prosthetics which Horace helped to strap, slide and tighten onto Ben, nipping his waist, adding a pair of silicone breasts to his chest and surrounding his crotch area with silicone padding, tubes and openings that gave him wider hips, a softly rounded butt and a pouch that did a reasonably good job of simulating a female sex.

So far they’d made their preparations without much conversation, but as Horace laid out the next part of their present, he said, “Are you sure you want to do this?”

Ben picked up the empty copy of Kyrie they’d purchased from the person who’d made her. “I wouldn’t have gone this far if I wasn’t sure.” They’d made it clear that what they wanted was something that could be worn by a person and though the sex doll maker had not done very many of them, his results did not disappoint. From the pink painted nails to the soft blonde wig, it was not just a copy but one that had been made with a lot more flexibility than the original. Where Kyrie had open orifices that could be posed, the copy had the same but intended to cover similar movable parts underneath.

The opening was on the back and almost invisible, with a track that extended from the back of the head down to the base of the buttocks. At first it seemed like Ben wouldn’t need any help since he only had minimal difficulty working the legs up and wiggling into the crotch portion, which had a small lip on the inside which stuck into the artificial sex and made a seamless connection between the functional inside already being worn by Ben and the detailed outside meant to give the correct appearance. From then on, however, he needed Horace’s assistance in getting his arms and hands in without damaging the soft, delicate skin which had been made as thin as possible so as to be wearable for the time period they’d said they intended to go for. Ben made a burrowing movement as he stuck his face into the Kyrie copy’s head and filled the silicone molded outer face with the inside one that had been modeled to fit over his own. This had meant that the copy Kyrie had slightly broader features and a tiny bit longer nose than the original, but Ben hoped Jeff wouldn’t notice in his excitement.

He opened and closed his mouth to get his teeth into the copy’s and to align its lips with his while Horace stretched the eyelids over his and stuck them on with a light adhesive. Ben stood as still as he could for the final part when Horace — straining and yet afraid to use his full strength - closed the opening and with a very fine paintbrush sealed it with a quick drying mixture that would mimic the skinlike texture and appearance of the rest of the sex doll covering. When he could run a finger down the new Kyrie’s back and find no difference, he told Ben that it was done.

Ben decided to see how dexterous he could be with his hands covered in the sex doll by putting the blue tinted contacts in himself. He did it on the fifth try and Horace stripped the sex doll Kyrie so he could prop her up next to Ben Kyrie. Ben stood absolutely still, relaxing his features and barely breathing as he looked in the mirror and Horace examined them both from all angles. The naked sex doll was almost indistinguishable from Ben when he wasn’t fidgeting or moving the chest up and down with his breaths.

“Perfect,” Horace said.

“Pretty damned close,” Ben replied. “It’s a shame about the voice.”

“Kyrie never says anything anyway. Not that we can hear.” Horace said. He put the pajamas back on the Kyrie doll and posed it back on the bed.

“True. Why are you putting it back?”

“Do you want to explain to Jeff why we put his favorite girl in a closet? He can decide what to do with the extra later on.”

Ben nodded and for a split second Horace wished it was him getting the birthday surprise. The animated doll moved like Ben and talked like Ben, but she looked like a wet dream. “Let’s finish up then.”

Something Jeff’s friends could understand a little bit better — even though neither had any particular interest in it — was that Jeff had a thing for animal girls. Kyrie had fox and tiger costumes, but for this birthday, they wanted to give Jeff something new that he could take away with him when the rest of the present had to take off the doll skin and go back to his own life. For that reason, they’d bought a fluffy cat costume for the occasion. Modeled on a Persian, the costume’s downy layer of white fur was crowned between the dark ears with a wig of blonde hair that was the exact same type that Kyrie wore. Dark accents made it clear that the fur was layered on top of a skintight body suit. The person who made it had offered to give it high heels and a tail harness, but since it was destined for an inanimate object, they didn’t think it was worth it. The normally squashed Persian features had been arranged to look more like Kyrie’s and when Ben had it on, she looked less like a cat and more like Kyrie had grown soft fur a tail and pointy ears. After twisting, bouncing and getting a feel for the combined costumes, Ben lay down on the bed next to Kyrie and closed his eyes. “Wake me when Jeff gets in.”

It had been a long day for Jeff and he was looking forward to a quiet night with Kyrie, snuggled under a blanket while they watched their favorite shows. Since it was his birthday, he also figured he’d get a little extra from her before bed. It wasn’t often that he had her give him a blow job, but it was a special day. Of course he knew she didn’t really dislike doing it since she couldn’t have a mind to refuse, but he’d found that getting sucked off was something worth making a special occasion out of and besides it stressed the motors in her mouth and head sections. He didn’t want to break his little Kyrie.

He wasn’t too thrilled when Horace met him at the door. Jeff didn’t know what Horace wanted, but he wasn’t in the mood for a boy’s night out. “Can’t we celebrate my birthday on the weekend?”

Horace shook his head. “Ben’s here too and we want to give you your present today. I think you’ll enjoy it.”

“Can I at least put my work clothes away?” Jeff asked, trying to move past Horace.

“Just let us show you and then you can do whatever you want.”

Jeff sighed but he knew better than to argue. It’d be over more quickly if he let them do whatever they wanted and then leave. Horace went into Jeff’s room and a moment later emerged with a long-legged, curvy girl in a fluffy white cat costume. She was wearing a red rhinestone studded collar and a matching red leash was clipped to it, with the other end in Horace’s hand. Not sure what was going on, Jeff sat down on his sofa as the cat girl did the same and gestured for him to join her. She hugged him and nuzzled his face with hers. Horace put the leash in Jeff’s hand. “Have fun.” He left.

“Where’s Ben?” Jeff asked. “I’m not sure I understand —“

The cat girl put a furry finger to Jeff’s lips. She reached down and extracted a sheaf of flash cards from under the sofa. Apparently this had all been prepared ahead of time.

“I am your pet.” Jeff read out. “For the next twenty-four hours I will be your willing partner in whatever you might enjoy doing. Kinky.” He added. “But I’m not sure I feel comfortable-“

Again the cat girl gently silenced him and then motioned for him to go on to the next card.

“Remove my mask for a birthday surprise.” Apprehensively, Jeff reached under the mask and tugged, pulling the feline features up and away. The mask fell out of his nerveless fingers when he saw Kyrie’s face underneath. “What’s going on?”

Again, there came the motion towards the cards though this time Jeff could see the patient but amused expression on his sex doll’s face.

“We thought this would make a nice change from your usual date with an inanimate female. We realize it’s still not the real thing, but we hope it’s a closer simulation than you usually get.” At this point Kyrie leaned over and kissed Jeff. The effect was electric on Jeff and it took Kyrie a few minutes to calm him down and get him to read the rest of the cards. “Again, twenty-four hours of whatever you like as long as your partner is free and unharmed at the end of it. She may decide something’s too much for her and we hope you’ll respect that. Happy birthday, Ben and Horace.” Jeff looked up. “Ben?”

Kyrie looked at him with charming innocence. ‘Who, me?’ Her expression seemed to say. She picked up the cat head piece, flicked the hair out of the way and put it on again. Then she lay down with her head in his lap and waited for him to make a decision.

Jeff pet the cat girl for a long time, content to enjoy the feeling of a warm and living body as his Kyrie doll. Finally, he lifted her head up and stood, pulling Kyrie up and along with him to the bedroom. If Ben was willing to dress up as a sex doll for him, he was definitely going to be willing to do a few things sex dolls were supposed to. When he saw the inanimate Kyrie in the pose he’d left her in, he took her out and laid her on the couch, then returned. He took the collar off of the animate Kyrie so she wouldn’t get hurt if things got lively and had her lie down on top of him. As she wiggled around on top of him, giving him a fuzzy massage, Jeff knew that the admonition in the cards was unnecessary. He was going to be very gentle with his lady, brought to life by friendship for twenty-four hours.

Later on, he stripped her of the feline costume and marveled at how well they’d replicated Kyrie on Ben. She looked fabulous and was all the more stunning for being able to move on her own, to sometimes even take the initiative. He was looking forward to waking up next to this beauty who could kiss him, stroke him and love him back. It was almost enough to make him think he should start dating again.

Love Doll 2 — Trapped

Ken moved as quietly as he could through the empty house. He thought it was empty. According to the boss, the owner was always out at this time and he’d have at least an hour to work. That was plenty. When he was sure nobody was home, Ken started his search. He didn’t know the owner’s name, not that it mattered. All that was important was that he had to find a certain set of documents — he’d seen similar ones and knew what they looked like — take them and get going. He was to leave no clue that the home had been broken into other than the missing papers. Whatever the boss wanted with them, it had to be important; Ken was being paid really well for this and the boss didn’t do breaking and entering very often.

Ken had searched almost every room when he opened the bedroom door, froze and then ducked back, mouthing obscenities. There was a dame in there! As the image resolved in his memory, he changed that to, ‘really good looking dame.’ She had been looking straight at him and yet there was no outcry or movement. Millimeter by millimeter, Ken stuck his head back in. The broad was still in the bed. She acted like she was asleep, but her baby blue eyes were wide open, as were her legs, displaying her black edged red lingerie. If she hadn’t been such a babe, Ken might have run for it right then, but he had to look closer at the legs clothed only in red nylon stockings and the long, styled blonde hair. Of course, what really got his attention was her tight corset top straining to hold her already enormous boobs up so that Ken doubted that the woman could see her own high heel enclosed feet. That was when he realized that the skin was a little too soft looking and the face too symmetrical. The doll face was a doll!

Ken took a moment to admire the figure before going back to his work. If it hadn’t been for the boss’s very specific orders, he might have tried the doll out. Instead, he went on to open drawers, closets and look under the bed. He was actually halfway underneath the bed when he found a box. Shining a light from his phone on it, he saw that it was the documentation he needed. He was pulling it out when he heard the door slam. He’d taken too long after all!

The window was painted shut and if he ran out now, he’d be seen and possibly caught. Looking around, Ken’s eyes kept resting on the doll. What a looker! It was a shame she was a sham. The idea kept popping up and he kept forcing it back down. There had to be another way. With a growing feeling of fatalism, Ken propped the doll up and had a closer look. There was a zipper half hidden by some skin that flaked off — he’d seen a can of some gunk that was supposed to be used to hide it — and the corset was only lightly tied. The doll seemed to have been built to need it only as decoration. He untied the knot on the corset and pushed it down which also loosened or removed the panties and stockings which were all attached. He worked it open and took out the poseable featureless mannequin inside.

Left only with only an empty shell of some thick stuff that was like skin on the outside but rubber inside and a lot of squishy padding, Ken saw that his idea might work. Too bad. Somewhat disappointed that his rough treatment wasn’t damaging the doll in any way, Ken shoved his legs in and pulled it up over his clothes, shoving the documents into his pockets. He didn’t have time to strip and it would only leave incriminating evidence. Very uncomfortable, Ken hiked it up over his middle, feeling something slimy and wet start to seep through his pants. Yuck! It hadn’t been cleaned out since it was last used. Fighting down revulsion, Ken pulled it up over his arms and ducked into the head. His sight was reduced to almost nothing through the pinholes in the glassy eyes and he had to find a way to get rid of a few pouches that were meant to be the doll’s mouth and nostrils. He didn’t know how long he had, so he was liberal with the sealing goop.

When he hiked up the corset and attached bits, he realized that he was a lot pudgier than the doll was supposed to be. Time to suck it up — literally. He let out as much air as he could and got the laces as far as he could given the time allotted and the fact that he couldn’t feel more than a dull pressure on his fingers even as the laces dug hard into the doll’s skin. Tying it off, he found a mirror and did a quick check, arranging the clothes better and primping the doll’s hair before hastily leaping — more falling given how unsteady he was on the doll’s high heeled slingbacks - into the bed and lying prone, waiting for his chance. He didn’t have to wait long.

A short, balding man in a long coat entered the room. Putting the coat over a chair, he stripped and went into the bathroom to take a shower. Just as Ken was daring to make a move towards the door, the bathroom opened and he had to go limp again. The owner of the house didn’t put anything on before climbing into the bed. Ken couldn’t see him very well, but he could just about feel the man massaging the doll’s breasts. Ken tried to lay still and not breathe much, but as the owner climbed on top of him and began to rub and kiss the doll, Ken knew it was hopeless. He could have held still and let the owner exhaust himself but he couldn’t do it in that restrictive corset. He’d pass out! When the owner put his arms around the doll’s middle and pressed his lips against the doll’s Ken made his move. He wrapped his arms and legs around the man and kissed him back as hard as he could. Faced with a love doll in naughty bedroom attire suddenly coming to life and making a move on him, the owner understandably lost his cool. He screeched, wrenched out of Ken’s embrace and ran.

Ken had no idea how long he’d bought himself, so he wasn’t about to waste time. Scrabbling at the laces of the corset, he found that they’d gotten stuck in the goop and it had hardened around them. A try on the heels showed that they were impossible to remove as well. The whole outfit was stuck to him with whatever that gunk was. Tottering over to the chair, Ken grabbed the long trenchcoat style garment and wrapped it around himself. Knotting the belt around himself reminded Ken of how nipped his waist had become. He also didn’t need to look at himself in the mirror to know that the coat had been meant for a shorter person, so he was showing a lot of stocking clad leg, most of his cleavage and probably would be flashing a lot more if he took long steps. Mincing around on the heels, Ken was sure that the last part wouldn’t be a problem. He looked like a stripper at the beginning of her routine. Taking as deep a breath as he could — and inflating his bosom so that it showed even more clearly in the coat — Ken started out for the club where his boss operated from.

He didn’t dare drive back in the doll and the walk downtown was the most painful and frightening period in his life. Every few steps, he’d become aware of how much his feet hurt and he’d hear a whistle or a catcall from passersby. Some offered him money, some wanted the blonde bombshell for free and a few made admonitory comments about being a streetwalker. Ken ignored them all and tried to walk a little faster when he saw he was being followed — making his feet hurt even more and his back complain as the colossal boobs bounced and strained his upright posture.

He was relieved and amazed when he made it to the club. Normally the bouncer would let him through with no questions, but not looking like this! The bruiser put a hand on his shoulder, the only place he could put anything without a sexual harassment charge. “All right, what’s under the coat?”

“Nothing you need to see, Tony.” Ken said.

“Ken? Is that you?” Tony broke into a wide grin. “Is there something I need to know?”

“No! Just let me through.”

“Nothing doing. You’ll have to open the coat; boss’s rules.”

Ken sighed but undid the belt and shed the trench entirely, hanging it on the bouncer’s arm as he stood slack-jawed at the sight of Ken’s doll body fully revealed. “I’ll let you keep this.” Ken said, brushing past. He figured the boss would appreciate it if he used the predicament to the gain of the organization, so he went into what he hoped was an exaggerated catwalk strut as he crossed the main floor to the private offices. It also occurred to him that it would be helpful that no one outside his employer’s men would know he’d been in or out that night. He was glad to be out of sight and able to drop the act on entering the offices and went into the boss’s private suite after knocking in a predetermined pattern.

“I was expecting Ken. Not a messenger.” The boss said, looking sharply at Ken.

“Right here.” Ken replied. “It’s a long story but I got out with the documents.”

“Where could you possibly have hidden them?”

“Under the skin.” Ken said. “I had to get into it when the guy came home early. If you can find someone who is really careful with a knife, you can get me out and get the papers.”

The boss looked Ken up and down and then one of the barkeeps burst in. “Boss! There’s — oh, hello, darling. I was just coming in to tell the boss about you.” He gave Ken a broad wink. “I’m willing to pay whatever you want to go out there and mingle a little. A hot looker like you will really bring in the money.”

“Cut it out, Ernie, it’s me.” Ken spat.

“Oh. In that case, as much as you want and keep your mouth shut.”

The boss smiled coldly. “I don’t need those documents until tomorrow, Ken. I’m willing to back Ernie on this. It will make a quite a large bonus.” He couldn’t see Ken’s expression behind the permanently flirtatious doll face, but he pressed on. “In fact, I might have lost the number for Nicky. I’m afraid he’s the only one I’d trust for a job like this.”

“Aww, boss…” Ken was beginning to realize that the doll skin retained sweat and it was getting wet inside.

“No excuses. This will be good for both of us. If the extra income doesn’t sway you, remember that with your current appearance, you can get as much free alcohol from the customers as you need. I encourage it as long as you don’t lose your head and start talking.”

“Yeah,” Ernie said, “We can tell them she’s a special guest. A mute supermodel. A really thirsty mute supermodel. As long as Ken dances with one or two guys every so often, we’ll be golden. Come on, hotcheeks, let’s go.”

Ken squared himself and followed Ernie. If nothing else, he was at least going to be able to get so drunk he might forget the things he’d have to do to get the drinks. He didn’t believe for one moment that Ernie would stop at having him dance with the men. On the other hand, there were a few people Ken didn’t like who frequented the club. Maybe he’d get some blackmail material.

Alien 1 - Exploited

The situation was tense. There were four hostages in the hotel room and the police knew that their captors were all armed. They’d called for room service and though under normal circumstances that would be the perfect time for an ambush, the men had proved already that they possessed the photographic records of every member of the force on planet as well as those of the hotel casino wait staff. A simple scanner would tell them if the person delivering their food was a hotel employee or an undercover cop. Several plans had been suggested, such and beaming in or trying to burst through the walls with a phase disruptor, but none of them had stood up to scrutiny. The only way in would be if they could get someone inside without the crooks knowing it and then grab them by surprise. Even hiding someone in the cart would be impossible since the crooks had stipulated that the carts come without their usual coverings.

“I have an idea,” Thirzik said at last. The Gyterion’s trunk tentacles — of which its body was mostly made of - waved slowly in pensive thought as its uppers vibrated to produce human speech. “Perhaps if one of us were to go in looking like an employee.”

“We don’t have time,” the captain said. “That kind of surgery takes far too long.”

“Not necessarily.” The Gyterion replied. “I’ve never tried this, but I have read of its effectiveness.” Thirzik stiffened and seemed to shrink. Its trunk tentacles compressed into its body, producing a recognizable shape. Its head tentacles also rearranged themselves until they were in place to create a replicated human face. All in all, it looked like a statue of one of the hotel maids done in gray rope. The effect was lost when Thirzik had to spread its tentacles slightly to speak. “Is this an acceptable facsimile?”

The captain and his lieutenants walked around the Gyterion. “It’s an admirable shape.” The captain said. “A faithful recreation of every detail except that it’s the wrong color.”

“And you can see the joins where the tentacles come together,” one lieutenant added.

“That gives me an idea.” The other said and he raced out, coming back with a large cosmetics box. “I used to do a little work in the entertainment industry as a makeup artist. Go get one of their uniforms.”

A private was sent and returned as the lieutenant was setting up. “Good.” He put the stylized old French maid’s uniform on Thirzik, glad that it had been intended for use and so had a longer skirt than the kind worn downstairs in the casino by the girls meant to attract customers. In fact it reached the ground so that Thirzik didn’t have to try to walk bipedally which would have been a disaster.

Slathering a thick foundation over all of Thirzik’s exposed parts, the lieutenant — Harry — started painting on features. Glue on fingernails, eyeliner, lipstick and more all contributed to turning the disturbingly feminine Gyterion into a reasonably attractive human. The final touch was putting a medium length brunette wig over the bald head. Of course it couldn’t alter its face in any way including blinking and it swept along by slithering its lower tentacles, but when it stood still and you ignored the frozen features, it passed reasonably well. In fact, in a photograph it wouldn’t have even been noticeable that it was a non-human. Harry stepped back. “Will that do?”

“It’s our best chance,” the captain said.

“I hope I do well,” Thirzik said.

“Now look at what you’ve done!” Harry cried. “Your face is covered in cracks! Here.” He took out a delicate paintbrush and repaired the damage. “Now don’t speak.” He pushed a comm into the painted simulated cleavage. “We’ll provide the voices. Just go up to the door, knock and go in. Can you handle all four of them?”

“I believe I can wrap them simultaneously in my tentacles — oh, I apologize.”

“I’m sorry, that one was my fault.” Harry repaired the cracks again. “All right, now go.”

The operation was a great success. The crooks took Thirzik to be a real hotel maid and were captured swiftly when they allowed ‘her’ in. Later, Harry invited Thirzik to his room for a celebratory drink. Of course, the Gyterion had something of its own since alcohol would have been dangerous for its metabolism. Curiously, the room appeared to have photography equipment set up in it.

“Here, come and sit down.” Harry said.

Thirzik settled its lower tentacles into the seat. “Thank you, lieutenant.”

“We’re off duty. It’s Harry. Now, I’m curious about one thing. Can you arrange yourself to look like anything?”

“No, Harry. I can do most humans of my approximate volume, however. I have found that it is not a difficult thing.”

“That’s neat. Can you do this one?” He showed Thirzik a picture in a magazine.

“I believe so.”

“And these?” He paged through it. It was helpful to Thirzik that few of them were clothed in more than the barest human undergarments and many in nothing at all. It assented for the most likely ones.

“Great. Why don’t we try her first?” Harry turned to a page

“You wish me to mimic her form?”

“If you don’t mind.”

“No, Harry. If it gratifies you, I will attempt it.”

Thirzik did not understand Harry’s interest, but he was proud to show off his abilities to the lieutenant. Maybe this would lead to a promotion. Harry covered Thirzik’s entire body in thick makeup and painstakingly drew on features until it looked just like the human female in the magazine. Thirzik was unsure why Harry was taking pictures since he already had the ones Thirzik had used or why he had Thirzik alter his arrangement and force Harry to redraw sections each time —sometimes asking him to change its apparent figure and sometimes just its pose - but it assented each time because its superior officer appeared to be becoming more gratified each time. When they reached the final form and posture — a female Harry apparently had some interest in posed with her arms behind her head and her legs open — Harry climbed onto the bed he’d put Thirzik on so that its appendages would not be stressed. Harry had been very considerate in that way; Thirzik doubted it could have held the postures while upright.

“What are you doing, Harry?”

Harry looked up from where he was examining the opening Thirzik had placed between its legs. “Is this anatomically correct?”

“I believe so. I have studied your species’ medical literature.”

Harry removed his outer layer and Thirzik saw that his sexual organ was active. “Do you mind if I test that?”

“Of course not. I would be gratified if you could tell me any mistakes I have made.”

Harry carefully repaired the makeup and cautioned Thirzik to be still during this section of testing. Harry placed his sexual organ inside of the opening Thirzik had produced and pumped it up and down. He seemed to be exerting himself and Thirzik tried to help by stimulating him through moving his tentacles internally.

“Oh dear god!” Harry shouted. Thirzik was worried that he’d done something wrong. Harry deposited some biomatter inside of it and withdrew. “That was … most satisfactory.”

“I am gratified, Harry.” Thirzik decided to keep the biomatter in case it was important.

“One thing before I get you cleaned up and you go.”

“Yes, Harry.”

“Don’t tell the captain.”

“I won’t Harry.” Thirzik didn’t know what was happening, but it liked Harry. Harry took an interest.

Alien 2 — Opportunistic

“And so the humans have reprogrammed our defense screen to keep us out,” G’snik said to H’merk.
“How, your Excellency? It was made to accept commands only from one of us.”
“They put one of their own in some sort of disguise which fooled the sensors into believing that they were one of us.” The colonel rustled his vines in annoyance. “Our electronics are very stupid to mistake a human behind a plant for one of us. They’ve set it to only accept commands from humans now.”
“So what are we to do?”
“Our ship is en route for the planet and will make fall in four days. We have been studying their technology and cannot risk landing our ship near their base or the screens. We can, however, send a one-being pod down through the screens to the control center. It is fully automated and should have no humans nearby.”

“What then, your Excellency?”

Colonel G’snik turned on a monitor. “We’ve also studied their culture. Apparently some members are more venerated than others based on their sounds, mannerisms and appearance. It is believed that we can replicate these as a camouflage similar to the one used by the humans. Should our operative be caught, they will be mistaken for such a venerated person and given due respect and deference until they can be picked up by one of our own.”

“Am I to be this operative?” H’merk asked.

“You are. Report to Medic F’leri for the necessary equipment and training materials.”

It was good that H’merk’s race did not sleep because it took him five hours to be able to produce the necessary shoots and growths to fill the empty shell that was given to him. At the end, he compared himself to the holo provided. He appeared to be the individual in question, a female human who had appeared in several long broadcasts and who seemed to be an object of great veneration to the race. The shell had been made very thick so that the shifting of his vines and branches underneath the skin were not noticeable to human sight. At first he worried that it might be possible to feel the writhing limbs if a human squeezed him, but his mission would be short and it was unlikely.
H’merk had no way of knowing anything more than what was shown in the videos and holograms, but as he studied her movement and voice pattern, it seemed that every human she interacted with gave her great respect. Little was known of the humans, but they seemed to show the most deference by wishing to view another human without their protective clothing. It appeared to be an issue of trust and the venerated one very rarely allowed the supplicant human this boon.

Another fourteen hours was spent learning to walk and move correctly using only two compact limbs for locomotion and two limbs with smaller buds for manipulation. H’merk was a diligent study, but it was very hard to see through the holes provided. Humans had very limited vision indeed. They also had a lot of odd lumps and curves in their frames. Very strange creatures.

The outer covering given to H’merk was based on that which was worn by the venerated one when she had the greatest respect given. It was tight in some places and billowed out in others. H’merk noted that it covered very little of the human female’s skin and was almost transparently diaphanous in many places. Perhaps the showing of this much was considered a boon which was rewarded with greater respect and loyalty. Or maybe it was to demonstrate what the supplicants would get when the entire covering was removed. Whatever the reason for it, it wasn’t much harder to move about in and even the foot coverings which added height and changed the wearer’s posture slightly was not a major difficulty compared to the human disguise itself.

All this seemed unnecessary when H’merk was crammed into a capsule and dropped onto the control center. Movement was painfully slow in the constricting disguise and garments, but H’merk was a loyal crew member and minced his way as quickly as he could to the controls. He’d just lowered the defense screens when he heard another human’s voice. “What’s going on here?”

Remembering that the venerated ones had higher voices that wasted a lot of breath in unnecessary exhalations, H’merk said, “Lil’ ol’ me?” In the way that the vids had taught.

“Yes, you. What-“ The human male who had come to investigate stood transfixed. H’merk took that as a sign that his disguise had worked. He was gaining veneration.

“I seem to have gotten lost.” H’merk made the tittering noise that he thought was correct. “Ain’t I silly? Maybe a big, strong, handsome man could show me the way back?” He’d lowered the screens at least, so now all he had to do was get to the human’s base and signal. His ship would destroy the control center and pick him up.

“I’ll have to take you back to headquarters.”

“Lovely.” As trained, H’merk put some of the manipulation shoots on the human male’s stumpy arm appendage.

The human male appeared to venerate H’merk since he helped the disguised plant creature into a conveyance and did not restrain him at all. H’merk continued to act as instructed, resting manipulation shoots on the human’s locomotion appendage and looking at him occasionally with widened eyes. When they entered the HQ building, several other human males were at various stations and a couple made noises by pursing their lips that H’merk associated with veneration. “Look at that!” One said.
“Where’d you find her?”
“She was in the alien defense center.”
“How did she get there?”
“Who cares? It’s Marilyn Monroe!”
“Don’t be a burk, she’s been dead for centuries.”
“She’s a really good impersonator, though,” the original male said.
“Hi, boys!” H’merk said, thinking this a good time to attract veneration.
“You can say that again.”
“Hi, boys!”
“Do you think she’s been brain damaged?”
“I don’t know. Upstairs promised they’d send someone to do a show for the troops. Maybe she landed in the wrong place. We don’t know what effects that the alien hardware might have on human brains. Their screens could have pushed her transport off course and landed it in the middle of the control center.”
“Is that likely?”
“About as likely as them sending someone like her to entertain us.”
At that point there was a commotion and a furry creature who resembled a human female in its general shape strode in. “What the hell were you guys playing at?” She asked one group of humans.
They made an odd snorting noise. “Trouble?”
The furry thing reached behind its neck. It removed a head covering that had made it appear to be a different species. It seemed to be a human male face, though H’merk wasn’t sure. “You told me that the cats don’t wear clothes!”

“They don’t.” One human, a female, said.

“Only when they want to advertise for a mate!” The human male in the guise of one of the natives said. “This is highly unprofessional.” He continued when the others seemed to be making some sort of noise that signified amusement and several uttered the odd words ‘April Fools.’ “We’re here to study the local culture, not mess around. Next time, someone else can go out and mingle with them.” He pushed the head back on and stalked out.

“Why isn’t he taking it off to give to another researcher?” H’merk asked, curious.

“He’s … going to go and enjoy the aesthetic.” A human male said.

“Oh.” H’merk wondered if this had anything to do with the female furry form being naked. Perhaps he’d gone to venerate himself.

“So, what are we going to do with you?” He asked.

H’merk widened his eye holes as trained and pressed up against him. “I don’t know! Please don’t hurt me. I don’t remember anything.”

“Calm down, sweetie.” The male said and several of his comrades made soothing sounds. “Let’s get you a place to rest and then I’ll go find someone who might know where you’re supposed to go.”

“I guess she must have gotten amnesia,” someone said as the male took H’merk away.

“Yeah. Damned alien junk.”

“Did you see her butt?”

“Yeah, it looked like it was moving all on its own. She’s one hot piece.”

H’merk had been doing well with the humans’ odd form of locomotion. He noticed that his lower portions moved side to side more than the males’, but he’d seen in training that this was normal. He was not ready for the small hole in one tile, which the spiked foot covering stuck in. The human male caught him and he was completely off guard when he looked up at the male. The male seemed to be staring at the exposed skin H’merk was showing, a sign that H’merk would be able to take the male to a higher plateau of veneration. He pressed his lips to the males in the way he’d seen in the vids and after a moment the male did the same. H’merk knew he was supposed to open the mouth part of his female disguise, but he was afraid that though it looked correct, it had not been flavored right. Humans supposedly had very sensitive taste organs and might detect the plant taste to the soft tissue he’d grown to mimic a human tongue.

“I’m sorry…” H’merk said in that breathy way he’d been shown. “I don’t know what came over me.”

H’merk was afraid that the male might realize his status as a non-human when he had to shift his internal foliage under the human’s hand to rebalance himself as the male put him back on his covered feet. The human didn’t seem to notice and as anticipated, the lip pressing and ritual words made human male seem to respect and venerate him even more. The human took him to an unoccupied room with a bed, telling him he had been through a lot and needed to rest. H’merk lay down and the human male momentarily stared between his locomotion stumps. That was when H’merk realized he’d forgotten the odd covering that went there. Apparently this led to more veneration because the human was breathing harder when he left.

H’merk swiftly extracted a communications device from one of the handy sacs humans had and called his commander. “Reporting in. The screens are down but I was unable to reprogram it to accept only our signatures. You must be fast or the humans will notice and repair.”

“We hear you. Unfortunately, the planet you are on is of no value to us and we’ve been ordered elsewhere. We’ll be back to pick you up in a solar month. Yikraker Follies!”

So he’d been bamboozled just like that poor human in the guise of the furred natives. Made to look like an object of veneration and left to fend for himself. At least the humans had let their comrade return to base soon after learning of the trick! H’merk scrambled out of the bed — he’d never learned how to go from prone to locomotive in the human skin — and forced some of the water in his capillaries to the holes he saw out of. When the human male who had captured — now he realized, rescued — him from the control center, H’merk pressed himself against the male as he’d seen in the vids and looked up with the water filled vision appendages. “I remember something! Horrible plant monsters torturing me and dumping me in that place.”

“That sounds like the aliens who built it. Do you know anything else?”

“They said they’d be back for me. In a solar month they said.”

“Good. We’ll have time to get ready.” The male grasped H’merk’s manipulation shoots and pulled. H’merk saw they were going to another set of quarters. Maybe he’d get venerated some more.

On the way, they passed one of the researchers who’d played the trick on his fellow. Now he was in the cat guise, though covered in a colorful garment that covered very little. “But you were clothed.” The original male who had been tricked said.

“In the ritual garb of a streetwalker!”

“Hey, turnabout’s fair play.”

“All right. We’re all going to sit down and read up on what we know so there’s no more shenanigans.” The female said. “Then you two are both going to get into that guard coyote suit we made and go with the next person who does a scouting run. If anyone gets fresh, bite them.”

“What if someone’s pet gets fresh with us?”

“I guess you’ll just have to share the risk by trading who takes the rear end.”

H’merk wondered how that female got so much respect when she didn’t look like the sort who the humans chose for that position. He saw the way the males averted being around her and decided he preferred the veneration he was getting. As the door closed and the male wrapped his appendages around H’merk, the plant creature wondered if this was how humans venerated each other in private. None of the vids he’d seen had showed that.

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