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Terror on Arrival: An Apocalyptic Science Fiction Novel

By Kyle Robertson All Rights Reserved ©

Action / Scifi

You Are Deemed the Bannished!

The tales I will tell. The nightmares my tales will produce. The horror you 

Not a human alive knows their appointment with death. The second you were conceived, the countdown clock of your life expiring began. You know you're going to die, just not when.

There was a planet in the Qragnix system—a system too far away for our most modern equipment to discover. Well, not discover. It had been in existence far longer than the Milky Way. The Qragnix inhabitants race's teeth grew old in their skull before we even existed. They had established a society before our kind was hitting lizards with rocks. This story begins before we had the privilege to even have stories. And to think, cave paintings were masterpieces at that time.

I will have to augment my tale for your purpose. You wouldn't know what a Chaelux was—that's Chaesun for tribunal. The language of communication was a flowing ballet of sounds, gestures, and expressions; speech was just a minute element of communication. They never had, ands couldn't use, something as primitive as a telephone. That would give you just a sliver of a conversation. They used what we called holographic omnicommunicators. It was called a Hotakt. It wirelessly accessed your sensory node, and transported you to a neutral location with the environment of your choosing. You would have communications in electri-holo oblivion.

The reason we never had to invent anything of that sort is because we never needed to. For humans, it was a luxury they would get bored with. For the Cheasu, it was a necessity for communication.

The Cheasu were not super beings; they were just older than us. They advanced naturally, through time. It would be like you showing up in a car, with a cellphone, in ancient Egypt. To them, you'd be a god. To you, it would be Tuesday. Time is the regulator.

In our eyes, they would be considered advanced. In their eyes, they would be considered temporally evolved, nothing more.

That was my brief synopsis on the Cheasu from the Qragnix system. It was meant to give you a taste of their race and culture. This tale is not about them. It begins here. This allegory is older than our existence. It comes to a head—a heightened apex—when I tell it. I'll start at the beginning, because walking in at the middle of the tale would confuse you. Have you ever watched a complicated movie from the middle, until the credits rolled, without someone catching you up? You'd think that masterpiece would be stupid, because you didn't get the whole story. That is why the beginning is paramount. Let's begin.


My name is... a human doesn't have the oral capacity to pronounce it. You can call me Cheauflux in your language. I will be your chronicler, your storyteller. I have acquired every language from human history. Everything is singular in the concept of speech. That one integer made every language effortless.

My story uses feeling, as well as words. Think of me as a fly on the wall of an epic. I am about that significant in this scheme. Don't swat me. I'm a very powerful fly.

All you have to do is listen, and feel. This apologue is accurate. There is no stretching of the truth. It wouldn't be worthy to be called a story if you had to add deception. It truly happened that way. If there were villains, they were villainous. If there were heroes, they were heroic, hence the name villain and hero.

I know you're frothing to hear this story. I was preparing myself, as well as preparing you. Remember what I said about coming in at the middle of a complex movie, without a friend to fill you in. Consider me the friend filler. All right, Ravenous, I believe you're prepared.


“Have you captured all of them?” the Cheacorin (pronounced shey-KOO-rin) asked.

“They all have been apprehended, Your Eminence, all of them,” a member of the Terex Guard said.

“They would have reduced Valan-Cheanaus to a dead rock, not the flourishing planet we inhabit,” the leader said. “Recant me on your accomplishments.”

“The Chauzek are adaptable, abstract creatures. Their entire existence is designed to consume... everything. Their brains were designed for one thing, survival. They have no conscious or compassion. They were born to do one job. Until death, survive,” the guard began. “They were easy to capture, just impossible to kill.”

“Why would we kill a race bred to do what it does?” the leader asked. “We discovered how senseless murder was after the Chaeden Wars. The casualty count almost destroyed the entire planet. We learned that you never kill over opinions. It's too taxing. We don't kill. However, we do banish. Have you found an uninhabited planet for us to dump our deadly refuse?”

“We are calculating a location, as we speak,” the guard said. “This universe is vast, with one problem. There's nothing here that can sustain life far enough away from us.”

“You mean uninhabited,” the leader confirmed. “All those planets have residences.”

“I hate to say it, Your Eminence, but the benefactors have taken all the survivable seats,” the guard said.

“This is a paradox. We don't kill, but how do you manage mindless killers, in which killing is their nature?” the leader asked rhetorically. “They haven't escaped the containment area, have they?”

The containment field is contrived from Cheanerex. An impenetrable material,” the guard said. “It takes several generations to forge, and the most advanced Cheasu couldn't escape before expiration through tele-migration. Or any other forms of movement.”

“It is secure, good,” the leader said. “I've only heard of their legend. I know they are insatiable, past dialectics. That they would rather consume each other, than extinguish. Although, I have never seen them.”

“They are evolutionarily simplistic, and perfect, Your Excellency. They have no weaknesses, physically or environmentally,” the guard reported.

“Your description is an admirable delineation, except viewing them would quash all my speculations,” the leader said.

“Your Excellency, although they have been captured, they are still dangerous,” the guard informed.

“They are more dangerous to themselves than to me. We must sustain life, until natural expiration of our physical bodies. We shall see them,” the leader declared.

“Allow me to set safety protocols, Your Excellence. When they are in place, I will escort you to peruse the butchers,” the guard said.

The Terex Warrior exited the chamber to place safety protocols, commandeer a platoon of guardians, and to escort the Excellent One to holding.

Oyryanek, the leader, was requited with its soldier's efficiency. The word ‘soldier’ was an oxymoron in a society of serenity. ‘Tending conservators’ were more accurate. They didn't have to protect their royalty or country anymore. The name ‘Warrior’ was just that, a name. There hasn't been a war since the Chaeden War. Most Cheasu only knew of that war from history implants. They only witnessed it in their minds. Granted, it was like being there without being hurt, but it was just a mental, historical document that passed through implanting. The Cheasu never personally recorded carnage.

Since everyone witnessed the carnage of war, every Cheasu committed themselves to peace. They had the technology for the obliteration to always be fresh. The devastation would never wane.

They vowed never to kill, not even to eat. There was abundant manna everywhere to consume. It kept you sustained for quite some time. Consumption was never a problem, until the Chauzek appeared.

Their devastation began subtly. It started in an unexplored forest. Certain plants began to disappear. Then, the insects. All were insignificant, until a tree fell.

Environmental engineers scheduled a maintenance cleaning for the tree, however, upon arrival, the tree wasn't there! The engineers thought it was a computer glitch. They never maintained surveillance equipment in an uninhabited forest.

Shockingly, it wasn't a glitch. One engineer oversaw every uncharted forest. It was meticulous. All of its equipment was pristine. The riddle posed upon the engineers was where did the tree go? It was obvious it wasn't there. It was confirmed it fell. Where was it?

Their mysticism was answered when a Megacosm team began to explore the forest.

They found foreign plants, and insects. They also found never before seen deciduous trees. These trees were named after the scientists that found them. There was another entity the team found. One they wished they wouldn't have.

It was a creature that ate voraciously. It had an endless appetite, and what seemed like a bottomless pit for a stomach. It possessed no fear of flight. It was relentless in its goal.

It was studied, and it was found out to be a primitive cleaning system for the forest. When the Cheasu became evolved and began to manicure their own forestry needs, these creatures weren't needed anymore.

They began to starve. They only had one purpose in life. They were bred to clean up. When the Cheasu decided their job in life wasn't necessary, they didn't even know they were starving off a race.

The Chauzek, named after the Megacosm team, didn't die off. They became more ravenous. They didn't die, they multiplied.

They were still a scientific enigma. No one knew who, or what they were. They knew not of their purpose, or their goal. They only knew the voracious creatures were knocking on civilization's door.

The creatures were speculated to have been there since the ebb of existence, yet they had no carcass of a deceased creature. It was inherent that they devoured their dead. They were cleaners.

Then, the science team found a fatally injured cadaver lying on the floor of the forest. Either they didn't see the demise, or they were too busy cleaning to notice. The team gathered it, and whisked it away to a biological autopsy facility. What they found was genetic perfection.

The creature was amphibian based. The bone structure consisted of silicone threaded with titanium. The skeleton could resist heat and cold, to extreme temperatures. The digestive system baffled many biologists. The stomach area wasn't encased. It wasn't even surrounded. Although, the creature was dead, the digestion was still active. The stomach area was not only a housing for nutrients, it was a matter deleter! The digestive system was the reason it was voracious. It had the hole that couldn't be filled.

Death of the creature was inconclusive. No one knew their sustenance system, so they never knew what it needed to survive. The creature was known with deeper acumen, yet, it still was ambiguous.

It was an indestructible waste destroyer. It was excellent, until there was no waste to destroy.

Their minds were rudimentary. They were never equipped with the gift of separation. When the creatures fell, and consumed their first building, the Terex guard sprang to action.

They were easy to capture. They were communal, not individualistic. They could be categorized as Hunter Sycophants, followers, not leaders. If you captured one, the rest would follow. They walked right into a detainment area.

The main problem was not containment, it was maintenance. Even if they accumulated all the waste on Valan-Cheanaus, it would never be enough. Their forced famine augmented their ecosystem. Once there wasn't enough waste, they automatically compensated in numbers, to maintain their existence in the ecosystem. They became the push-broom, with a wider sweeping surface.

Since the Cheasu didn't kill, they had to transport. It couldn't be an inhabited planet. That would be blatantly dumping their problems on an unsuspecting, possibly hostile being. That was out of the question. They couldn't transport them to a caustic planet. That would be a cumbersome, cruel killing. Oyryanek had to find a solution.

The guard entered, bowed, and gestured out the door. “Your accompaniment awaits you, Your Excellency.”

Oyryanek raised, and began to walk out the chamber. “Are the protocols in place?”

“Everything is secure, Your Excellency. There were no discrepancies,” the guard reported.

Oyryanek joined the platoon of the Terex guard. They all fell into step, immediately, and escorted Its Excellence to the holding facility.

“You've seen these things, Ehyrnok. What do they look like?” Oyryanek asked.

“All I can say, Your Excellency, is their legend pales in the midst of their actuality. I hope your decision has been finalized, because their appearance can augment that,” Ehyrnok said.

“I am secure, Ehyrnok. They won't change my mind,” Oyryanek said.

They walked towards the holding area. It was embedded in the onyx of the mountain. It had a shiny shale look to it; roughly polished, over a crude, jagged, surface. Black was the shine, and nature was the polisher.

They walked into the room where the ravagers were kept. Oyryanek finally saw them.

They looked like spiked Gila monsters, with overexposed, razor sharp teeth. They were chameleon-like. Their color changed with the atmospheric color pallet. They were aggressive, charging the invisible, atmospheric barrier holding them back. They were getting electrocuted, but they could absorb the shock. They were built to live on the sun, so electricity didn't even tickle them.

“We must transport these demons away from us,” Oyryanek said.

“I am happy you didn't augment your decision to kill, your Excellency,” Ehyrnok said. “Most leaders would do it out of fear.”

“I wasn't bequeathed my title through royalty. The patrons chose me in my first physical existences. I hope I can see them through this crisis,” Oyryanek said.

Just then, an apprehensive, sweaty scientist started a commotion with one of the guards.

“I have Its Excellency's answer! Let me through!” the scientist yelled.

“We are under a strict protocol,” the guard said.

“I'm not a criminal!” the scientist yelled. “Its Excellency needs this information!”

“Let him through,” Oyryanek said.

The guard stepped aside and let the frantic scientist access Its Excellency.

The scientist ran to Oyryanek, and immediately bowed. “Your Excellency!”

“Get up. We can do formalities later. You have something for me,” Oyryanek said.

“I have an organic, life sustaining, uninhabited planet, Your Excellency!” the scientist said, with glee.

“How far away?” Oyryanek asked.

“It's so far away, the Chauzek can never find their way back!” the scientist said.

“They are rudimentary beings, but they do adapt,” Oyryanek said.

“Physically, not mentally, Your Excellence. They have reached their peak intelligence,” the scientist confirmed.

“This planet will be a haven for their appetite?” Oyryanek asked.

“The planet consists of primordial matter, at this point. It can be aggressive in construction, like us, or benign, like the Arclunds,” the scientist explained.

Oyryanek pondered. “Silicone, or organic based. Whatever it is, they will survive?”

“They are masters at adaptation, Your Excellency. They can become comfortable with any environment that is life sustainable ever imagined,” the scientist said.

Oyryanek weighed the pros and cons. It was an uninhabited planet. It was existence sustainable. It was very far away. Those were the pros. It was an existence sustaining new planet. That meant there would be future life forms. The Chauzek were always going to be a threat to whatever they encountered. They could render the planet barren, before it grew to fruition, and there weren't many inhabited planets in this universe.

“Can you put the Chauzek in suspended animation?” Oyryanek asked the scientist.

“It can be accomplished, however, not indefinitely,” the scientist said.

“All I want to know is, can the planet grow?” Oyryanek asked.

“They can be suspended until the planet and any inhabitants are evolved enough for them to be able to deal with the Chauzek,” the scientist concluded.

Oyryanek had to make the decision. “Put them in a suspended gravitas. I don't want them to revive until whatever inhabitants discover space travel. I want them to be able to leave, or evict. Whoever they are going to be, they at least deserve a chance. Once they are deeply elsewhere, send them to their new home.”

“It will be written as history, Your Excellency,” the scientist said, and quickly left for the laboratory and transportation.

Oyryanek looked at the platoon of Terex guards. Most were stoic. The newer guards were smiling. They were in awe at their leader. They didn't have enough discipline to remain emotionless. That would come in time. Oyryanek knew one thing. If the Guard was satisfied, the people would be satisfied.

Oyryanek turned to look at one of the twelve moons floating around Valan-Cheanaus. “I hope my decision was an admirable one. Please save the lives of whatever exists.”

Chapter Two. The Origin of Misfortune

His muscles were tense. A sinew of anticipating tendons. His veins pumped dangerous adrenaline. The sweat cambered down his temple. He was primed to execute. His breathing was steady, not sporadic. He had been in the same situation before, so it wasn't new. It was routine.

Alexi Doshmononov was a seasoned Spetsnaz commando. He lived for traumatic situations. He ate them for nourishment. If he didn't dance with the Devil on a daily basis, he would die as a wallflower.

He was a master at assassinations. He was the trainer of tracking and demolitions. He held the highest status in Sambo and Pancreas fighting. He was decorated countless times for retrieval and rescue, including the Premier. He was the complete package.

He had wanted to join the military when the Cold War raged. He had trained himself to be The Commando. Those Yankee idiots would be crushed under the iron boot of Communism. They would give in to Stalin and Marxist philosophy. He wanted them to bring everything they had.

They were the majestic United Soviet Socialist Republic, until 1991. That was when their power broke. They forfeited the status of Superpower. They just became the world's largest state. Those damned Americans must have gloated at our dilapidation. They sat back on their high horses, and quietly laughed at Russia. Everything Alexi had striven for poofed like smoke.

He was still The Commando. All of those governmental antics never hindered his goal. If there was anyone with the arrogance to even think of opposing Mother Russia, they would be subjected to relentless brimstone. Enemies of the nation were not safe on this planet.

Alexi was at a uranium facility in Omsk, a town in the southwest of Russia. There was intelligence that stated terrorists would attempt to infiltrate the facility for its uranium deposits. Intelligence only pinpointed a window in which they would strike. They didn't know who or why; just where, and a window of when.

Alexi was diligent with ambiguous attacks and infiltrations. Many of his diffusional tactics were reflex, not defense.

Alexi believed you had to be ready at all times. If you weren't prepared to defend, you couldn't claim the title of Commando. The definition of commando is a member, specially trained for defensive, hit-and-run, and surprise activities for the military. The phrase ‘during business hours’ doesn't apply.

Alexi was monitoring by himself. Back-up wasn't necessary. If he had a team, they would turn into liabilities, not assets. He had remembered that from his last team. They were excellent soldiers. They are feeding their mother now, with their blood and bones in commitment. The only thing positive about their fruitless deaths was they fed the Mother.

He decided, after that tragedy, he would never endanger a fellow soldier on one of his missions, ever again.

He worked better alone anyway. He didn't have to worry about harming a comrade when he went berserk. He couldn't control berserk. A controlled berserk was an oxymoron. He was good, but when he lost it, everyone died, and God was the sorter.

His first killing was devastating to him. He stayed awake for weeks after the operation. Now, termination was mandatory clockwork for him. He stopped carving notches on his belt whenever he killed an enemy. He stopped when the many notches on his belt weakened the belt to snap, therefore alleviating the purpose for a belt. It couldn't even hold itself, let alone pants. He realized no one cared how many enemies he killed but him. As long as the job was complete, was all anyone ever cared about.

The notches on his belt were counterproductive, so he stopped carving. If he would've continued his diatribe of counting, he would've run through eight belts by now.

Alexi was pensive. Anytime a mission became active, being absorbed was his nature. Nothing was as important as the mission. Once it was complete, that was when his attention became inert. It was still a memory. Everything that transpired in his life introduced experience. He knew what to do in order to have a favorable result. The ‘just getting by’ scenario wasn't what a veteran commando did. Success or death was the only option.

That status ran through every operation for Alexi. His commanders believed he had a death wish. Alexi was the strangest commando. He sunk himself into everything without self-preservation. He felt his life was secondary; that his mission, whatever it happened to be, was paramount.

Alexi's commanders were happy they had a psychotic ace in the hole. If he didn't care about his own life, how would he care about yours? It was like keeping dynamite in a briefcase, with a short fuse. As long as you had the match—find cover and look out.

Alexi saw the silhouette of an arm motioning someone to advance in the warehouse of the facility. It was time.

Alexi grabbed his AK-12 assault rifle. He began to flank the silhouette, and came from the side. The squad leader was oblivious to Alexi's defense. He never knew he was being intercepted, until Alexi tackled him to the ground.

With his arms pinned to the ground by Alexi's knees, he got a ringside seat to the damage an AK-12 assault rifle could do to a human body.

The other eight terrorists in the squad were riddled with white-hot rounds. They bucked and jerked with immediate lead poisoning. Their triggers weren't even pulled, until the aimless jerking of their dead man's reflex response pulled them after the fact.

Alexi pointed his rifle at the squad leader. “Kto ty!?”

The squad leader was confused, and terrified. “I-I do not speak Russian!”

Alexi punched him in the jaw. “You are trying to steal Russian uranium from a Russian facility, and you do not speak Russian!?”

The punch was Alexi's disrespectful slap in the face. It was just done with knuckles. The flowing blood accented that point.

“I only speak English and Croatian!” the squad leader said.

“Judging from your accent, you are not a native bloke, or Yank! Who is Croatia affiliated with, Russia does not know of!?” Alexi aggressively questioned.

“We have no affiliation! We thought you would be happy in assisting us in constructing a dirty bomb to be received by America!” the squad leader yelled.

“Even friends do not take the cookies from our cookie jar without permission! You should have asked first!” Alexi yelled back.

“We didn't want an international incident. Those Al-Qadea bastards would claim it anyway!” the squad leader retorted.

“You do not conduct missions against our enemies without permission!” Alexi yelled at the squad leader.

Alexi rose cautiously from the squad leader, cuffed the disheveled man, and walked him out of the facility to an A4 AVL transport vehicle. They traveled to Kiev, and Alexi presented the Croatian squad leader to his superiors.

His superiors looked at the man, and they were in a quandary.

“This man is Croatian! He can't be a terrorist!” one superior expressed.

“Even the security guard can shoplift, Commandant,” Alexi said.

The commandant kept looking at the man. As impossible as it seemed, it must have been correct. Alexi was loyal enough in the commandant's eyes to babysit his infants.

“You are our best commando, Doshmononov. You complete impossible jobs,” the commandant said.

“There are only two outcomes in my missions, Commandant, completion or death,” Alexi said.

“I hope death won't punch your ticket for some time, Doshmononov. Your value is of a singular importance,” the commandant said.

“Send me your impossible missions, Commandant. I take what others run from,” Alexi said.

“All the threats have been completed with your terrorist capture. There are no more dangerous missions,” the commandant said.

“I am hungry, Commandant,” Alexi said. “I will take anything, even tasks that are below my level. I would consider a mission like that a vacation.” Alexi wanted more.

“This mission is beneath your expertise, Doshmononov. I was going to kick it back, away from Spetsnaz even breathing near it.”

“If it is military, Commandant, I will execute,” Alexi said.

“This will be a lowly escort mission, Doshmononov. You will be an incredibly, overqualified baby sitter,” the commandant said.

“Any mission would be my pleasure to accomplish, Commandant,” Alexi said.

The commandant reached into a drawer from his large oak desk, picked out a file folder that had TRANSFER in red stamped on it, and explained the particulars to Alexi.

“This woman is an aqua-horticulturist. She studied marine plant life in remote areas of the world. There has been a disturbance near the Light House Reef in Belize, Central America. This scientist is worried about pirates. They've been hijacking cruise ships all over South America, and she wants to know what is disrupting the Honduran ecosystem,” the commandant explained.

“If you do not mind me asking, how does this affect Mother Russia, Commandant?” Alexi asked.

“The Belize Barrier Reef contains some of the most exotic plants, which feed the most exotic fish. It has abundant marine life. We consume that marine life, as well as the deadliest sharks. Sharks that don't like to eat people, but they will if they have to, because all their food has become extinct,” the commandant explained.

“So, our ecosystem is a house of cards, and this scientist wants to make sure the cornerstone is solid,” Alexi clarified.

“You don't want your grandchildren to be eaten by sharks, because Belize had a hiccup, do you?” the commandant asked.

“If it affects Mother Russia, I will fix it!” Alexi expressed. “Where, may I ask, is the scientist, Commandant?”

“She is coming over on a transport from New York. We have about four hours before she arrives,” the commandant said.

New York!? This woman was a Yankee Dog! The same people he vowed to obliterate from this world! Now Alexi is going to be Yankee Chick's bodyguard!? When life hands you lemons...

Alexi remained at attention; however, his left eye began to involuntarily twitch.

“For Mother Russia, Commandant!” Alexi yelled.

The commandant saw the twitch of his left eye. “Are there any problems, Doshmononov?”

“I do all I can for the Mother, Commandant. This operation, however, will be slightly... difficult,” Alexi admitted.

“You have quashed a legion of men trying to perform a coup by yourself!” the commandant claimed.

“True, Commandant,, that is what I train for!” Alexi said. “Those men were dangerous, but none were American.”

That was when the commandant had the reason for Alexi's disdain revealed. It wasn't difficulty, it was disliking.

“Your views are not individual, Doshmononov. American's are considered friends at this point.” The commandant showed his understanding of the situation.

“I would modify that statement to estranged bedfellows, Commandant. I would not invite them to dinner,” Alexi said with angst.

“You must do as I have, Doshmononov, stifle your hatred for them. I haven't stepped on American soil, and I'm speculating you haven't either. Our Soviet propaganda works very well,” the commandant said.

“They are masters at misdirection themselves, Commandant. Once a radical terrorist cell destroyed their iconic World Trade, they made every American hate the entire Middle East. We are not the only propagandist,” Alexi said.

“You, being intelligent enough to point that out should find it helpful in alleviating your anger,” the commandant said.

“I have studied their culture, Commandant. They do not care about their people. They think Socialism is oppression. The entire nation is the largest group of people that are only striving to benefit themselves,” Alexi said. “Our propagandist just put the icing on the cake.”

The commandant pondered what Alexi said. He had no recourse. He couldn't rebut Alexi's statement with any force. If he spoke of all the charity America's millionaires gave, Alexi would counter with the amount of millionaires, and compare it to the economy. There was no winning this argument.

“You are a Spetsnaz operative, Doshmononov. Politics shouldn't affect your performance. You should be proud to perform your job for Russia. That is what you will do. My order to you is to perform your job.” The commandant did the only thing he could do to complete his goal; pull rank.

Alexi snapped back into a sharper form of attention, and yelled vociferously. “DA SER!”

As opinionated as Alexi was, being a faithful soldier to Russia destroyed his manufactured ill will.

The commandant saw how quickly Alexi snapped back into place. He was a good soldier. The commandant had no worries about his demeanor. Doshmononov would treat the woman cordially. At least he would hold his uneasiness until they arrived in Belize. At least it wouldn't be on his soil.

“You are dismissed, Doshmononov. You have four hours to argue with yourself. Just remember; you are a soldier, and this is for Mother Russia,” the commandant said.

“Commandant!” Alexi yelled, did an about-face, and exited the commandant's office.

The commandant thought, Doshmononov will portray Russia with pride, and poured a snifter of vodka.

Chapter Three. The Disquiet Before The Storm

Jayde hated flying. All the air pockets and turbulence didn't ease her nervousness. At least the ear popping thing was over for around twelve hours. Then the most dangerous part of flying—landing.

This wasn't a commercial flight. If the military had resources, they would use them. She remembered the flight she had to take to Okinawa. She was on Air Japan. She was treated like they understood the flight was a long one. They made her comfortable. When she landed to report to the Okinawan Marina, she was well rested.

This wasn't Air Japan. They wouldn't even spring for a Luftansa flight. Their excuse was, they had no allied stations near Kiev, Ukraine, and so commercial transport wasn't feasible. Instead of trying out that new 787 jet, she was sitting in a C-5 Galaxy. She had already seen this movie.

Jayde Farrow was a svelte, taut, female African-American, first lieutenant officer in the United States Air Force. Her choice didn't seem harmonious, initially. Why would a woman who found flying uncomfortable enlist in the Air Force? That was like being a person who couldn't walk, in a broken wheelchair, who just slapped a polar bear. The outcome, in either scenario would not be a favorable one.

Jayde's primary vocation was the Air Force, however, she was never near a plane. The profession she refined was marine biology. That was her passion. She was an aqua-horticulturalist, to put a finer point on how far away from jets she was.

She wanted to study undiscovered plants and aquatic animals. Some rainforests were still categorizing newly discovered fauna biota. She deduced that the Earth is seven-tenths water, thus undiscovered fauna biota would be way more abundant in a scarcely discovered area, covering seven-tenths the area you live in. Jayde was analytical that way.

Jayde wasn't a jet-setter. There weren't any trust funds set up for her. She couldn't travel, at whim, to remote locations. All her extra money was set to pay off student loans for specialty courses, outside of the military. She didn't have an extra quarter million lying around to pursue her passion of studying exotic reefs. The Air Force backed her in her endeavors. The only trade-off was a little military protocol, and going where they told her to go. In return, she got to go to Belize for free. It was a fair deal in her mind. That was, as long as she didn't have to fly. The military always modified deals. When she signed up, they owned her. Her personal signature told the Air Force she volunteered, and to do with her what they would. Jayde never read the fine print.

They're transporting me to Kiev, in a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy. A super-fortress, large enough to accommodate a slew of M-1 Abrams tanks, and they wasted all the money they saved on my commercial flight, just to blow it on this sortie (the flying of an aircraft on a mission) Jayde thought, as the powerful turbines howled in the emptiness of the cavernous fuselage.

She was over the Atlantic, flying away from the Belize Barrier Reef, the origin of the disturbance. All to get her a bodyguard. The Air Force higher-ups knew she taught a rape prevention and self-defense class for the female soldiers. They knew she could take care of herself.

Since all other Rangers, SEALs, Paratroopers, or Green Berets were already tasked for missions, Jayde got a Spetsnaz soldier. Add the sarcastic elation here.

The sun was breaking the horizon once more. That was a short night, she thought—they’d left New York at dusk. It felt like the sun had beat them to tomorrow. Jet lag was the other reason Jayde hated flying. She couldn't perform with sharpness when jet lag dulled her senses. Without delicate accuracy, mistakes take acuity's place. She prided herself on her reputation. She thought they chose her for this mission because of her expertise. She was the lynch-pin to this important mission... in her mind.

The real reason for her acquiring this mission was that they considered this mission to be a frivolous one, and no officer would waste his time dealing with a Ruskie. Because of her expertise, she received the short straw.

“Fasten your seat belt, we are landing at Kyiv International Airport,” the pilot announced over the intercom. Jayde was feeling the ear popping already, as they began their descent. Flying wasn't one of Jayde's friends.

She felt her stomach drop. The pilot was annoying her, on purpose. She was the only Air Force officer on the flight that had never withstood a negative 3G drop in descent before. Granted, it wasn't as severe, however, those pilots could take the descent. She almost saw what she had for dinner that evening. She wanted to kick the captain for making that subtle fly boy joke. They would've written that one up as unprovoked malice and put her in the brig for fun. She just took the joshing. She had done it all her life. What was another kid?

She finally felt the impact of the rear landing gear, and heard the squeal of the rear tires. A few seconds later, the front tire contacted. The pilot threw the engines in reverse, and the turbines stoically protested their forward motion.

Jayde felt as if the momentum of her body wanted to oppose the turbines, like a bratty child, and kept its relentless push forward. Her seat belt became the regulator. It told her momentum to sit down and shut up! Momentum became obedient, immediately.

They taxied near a terminal. It took several minutes to prepare to depart the C-5. With the size of the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, arriving at a civilian terminal was like putting a basketball player’s foot into an infant's shoe. It would fit accordingly. The pilots had to park outside the terminal.

The powerful engines finally relented. They were at their destination. Jayde unhooked her regulator, and grabbed her suitcases and briefcase. The rest of her supplies were in the cargo hold of the plane. Hopefully, the crew chiefs of the airport would get those.

When she walked off the transport, she realized she wasn't in Kansas anymore. There were no crew chiefs. This wasn't a military air strip. It was a civilian airport. The C-5 stuck out like a sore thumb. All the commercial aircraft looked nervous, with the football captain arriving. The 787s looked as if they were saying That C-5 ain’t so big! They still had respect for its power, though.

She felt oddly at home when she saw a company of Russian military poised at attention, waiting to greet her.

All right girl, you showed up at the party. Might as well hit the dance floor, she thought, as she walked down the mobile stairs to meet the colonel.

The colonel stood at attention, and saluted Jayde. “Zdravstvuite Lieutenant Farrow.”

Jayde returned the salute. “Good morning Colonel Vakrushev.”

Vakrushev dropped his hand, and began to inform her about her bodyguard retrieval. “We are... cordial to produce a worthy commando for your mission, Lieutenant Farrow.”

Jayde realized, Vakrushev chose his words carefully. He wouldn't use a cavalier word, like ‘happy’ when dealing with an American. At least he was honest.

“I understand this is a Spetsnaz soldier.” Jayde tried to display her military knowledge.

As they walked towards the terminal, Vakrushev confirmed. “Sergeant Doshmononov is a Special Forces operative. You should have no problems with the pirate element.”

Great. A mindless rent-a-bouncer, Jayde thought, as they opened the terminal doors.

“If you do not mind me asking, Lieutenant Farrow,” Vakrushev began, “what type of disturbance are you investigating in Belize?”

“There has been an ecological anomaly in Central America. We police that part of the continent, so we're obligated to check it out,” Jayde explained.

“You understand, if the current didn't run in Russia's direction, your concern would have been strictly American.” Vakrushev pulled no punches. He made sure Jayde knew the mission Russia was undertaking was a favor to America. She felt right at home with her feet on Russian soil.

They walked into the airport. Vakrushev saw Jayde had a garment bag, an overnight bag, a dry erase board, and a silver briefcase.

“Your items will be transported to our Kiev base. Do you need anything initially, Lieutenant Farrow?” he asked.

“As long as I have my antiperspirant, make-up, and hairspray, I think I can manage, Colonel Vakrushev,” she lightly said.

Her candor was not acknowledged. It turned out the weather wasn't the only cold thing in Russia.

They began walking through a private tunnel—an area where civilians weren't allowed. It was a silent shell. All the bustle of the airport was happening upstairs. It sounded like the morning commute at the subway station in New York. Kiev was busy in the morning.

They walked to a private exit. Some of the soldiers grabbed her bags and put them in a military limousine. It was black, with no markings. It had the flags of Russia on the right front fender and of Kiev on the left. Her bags were placed in the trunk.

Jayde got into the back of the limousine. She felt important, like a diplomat. At that point, she didn't, or couldn't comprehend the gravitas of her importance. Not just to Belize, but the entire planet.

Colonel Vakrushev leaned by the window, after Jayde closed the door. Jayde lowered the window.

Vakrushev bent down with a salute. “Do svidaniya Lieutenant Farrow. May all your endeavors be victorious.”

Jayde returned a casual salute. “Thank you for all your hospitality, Colonel Vakrushev, and farewell. With the addition of your Spetsnaz soldier, accomplishing my endeavors should be automatic.”

The detail began to drive from the private tunnel. It took a few minutes. They emerged from the tunnel four kilometers away. That was when the sunlight gleamed off of landing aircraft, brightly welcoming Jayde to the fresh Kiev morning.

She looked at her watch, and realized she hadn't adjusted it for the time zone. She took out her smart-phone. The time had auto-corrected on it.

Six in the morning, Friday!? I left New York at eight in the evening, Wednesday! Where did Thursday go!? she thought, as the jet lag phenomenon was becoming prevalent. She experienced this same anomaly when she traveled to Okinawa, but she was too nervous to notice.

The base was on the opposite outskirts of the city. The right side of BFE. It had its own airstrip. Hind-Cs, and Es littered the air field.

If we're so friendly, why couldn't we just land here? Jayde thought, as they went through the check point entrance of the base.

They traveled to Abramovich Airfield. This would be where her military comrade would be stationed. This was when her curiosity began to hound her.

So, his name is Doshmononov. That's definitely Slavic. He's probably a Neanderthal brute. He could throw me ten feet, but a calculus problem stumps him. I probably have the Incredible Hulk for a pet, ran through her mind as they arrived at the receiving center.

She grabbed her bags out of the trunk. As she walked to the entrance, a few soldiers took her other bags.

“You have to see the commandant. Your bags will be placed in your quarters, Lieutenant Farrow,” a Liaison said. She opened the facility, and directed Jayde to Commandant Kolosov's office.

Jayde acknowledged the liaison’s direction, and began to move.

She began walking towards his office, with the liaison following. Jayde adjusted herself, and knocked on the door.

She heard the word “Vvodit!”and curiously looked at the liaison.

“That means ‘enter’,” the liaison said. “Go in, Lieutenant. I'll wait for you out here.”

Jayde nodded, and opened the door.

When she entered, she closed the door, and stood at attention in front of the commandant's desk.

“Lieutenant Jayde Farrow reporting for duty, Commandant Kolosov,” she announced with a salute.

Commandant Kolosov returned the salute, and switched to his English language once he saw who was reporting to him.

“Ah, good day Lieutenant Farrow. I take it you are enjoying our beautiful morning,” the Commandant said.

“The morning is stupendous, Commandant, but I seem to have misplaced my Thursday,” Jayde said.

“You left New York around eight in the evening, and flew against the grain of time,” Kolosov said. “Your Thursday just went into fast-forward. You didn't misplace Thursday, you just blinked as it passed you.”

“My job does require travel. Jet lag comes with the territory, Sir,” Jayde said.

“Let me call for Sergeant Doshmononov. You two need to be acquainted,” Kolosov said.

The commandant pressed the button on his intercom.

His secretary answered. “Commandant?”

“Prizyvayet Sergeant Doshmononov pozhaluysta. (Summon Sergeant Doshmononov, please),” Kolosov spoke into the intercom.

Srazu Commandant.” His secretary understood.

“The Sergeant will be here, momentarily,” The commandant said.

“The one thing I have to say about the Soviets, Commandant.” Jayde began, “The Soviets are efficient. I haven't even seen my quarters yet, and I'm meeting my bodyguard. I don't even have time to freshen up, Sir.”

“Sergeant Doshmononov is your bodyguard, not your date, Lieutenant Farrow,” the Commandant said.

“A woman still wants to look fresh, instead of travel worn when she's meeting someone new, Commandant,” Jayde said.

“My apologies, Lieutenant Farrow. We don't accommodate for leisure in our military,” Kolosov said.

“We don't either, Sir,” Jayde returned. “We can just perform this art of ‘making time’. Maybe I can show it to you, someday, Commandant.”

“Unless you had taught it to me yesterday, the day you weren't here, you won't have time to teach me before you leave with Sergeant Doshmononov today, Lieutenant Farrow.” Kolosov displayed his temporal metaphysics.

“Once I show you how the trick is done, you'll recant that statement, Commandant Kolosov,” Jayde said, with a smile on her face.

That was when she heard a knock on the door.

“Vvodit!” Kolosov yelled at the door.

Sergeant Doshmononov entered the office. He closed the door, didn't acknowledge Jayde, stood at attention, and addressed Commandant Kolosov.

“Sergeant Doshmononov otchetnost' Commandant!” Alexi reported.

The commandant motioned to Jayde. “Leytenant Farrow.”

Alexi finally looked at her. She was a svelte, ebony, muscular, young woman.

Jayde gave a salute, and tried to address Sergeant Doshmononov. “Privet Sergeant Doshmononov.”

Alexi saluted. “Dobryy utro Leytenant Farrow. Vy govoryat na Russkom, khorosho. Chto oblegchayet perevod (Good day Lieutenant Farrow. You speak Russian, good. That alleviates translation).”

Jayde tried to be amicable, however, her amicability backfired. “I-I'm sorry, Sergeant Doshmononov, I don't speak Russian. I just know ‘hello’ and ‘good bye’.”

Alexi looked as if she insulted him. Far be it for an American to study his language. He had studied theirs. That was the difference. A Russian was versatile. An American was too arrogant for versatility. They thought all other cultures were beneath them. They always thought of themselves as ‘Top Dog’.

They had foreign language classes in high school, but it was more so for recreation instead of necessity. They travel to our country, and don't take the time to learn our language. That aloofness just boiled his borscht.

Alexi had his silent rant, and put a smile on his face. “No worries, Lieutenant Farrow. I know English fluently. We can speak in your language, with ease.”

Alexi offered his hand in a handshake, to show Jayde his congruity with her culture.

Jayde had a strange look on her face. They just saluted. Did she have to touch him? Maybe it was a Slavic thing she didn't know about. She wouldn't freak out if an Israeli kissed her on both cheeks. She didn't want any ripples in the water, so she offered her hand, timidly.

Alexi grabbed her hand, and began to shake vigorously. I do this for the Mother, he thought.

Jayde still had an aberrant look on her face, while Alexi kept his pleasant persona about him.

“I see your meeting is a pleasurable one.” Kolosov tried to smooth over the greeting. “The liaison will show you to your quarters, Lieutenant Farrow. You and Sergeant Doshmononov will report to the briefing room at 0730 hours. The liaison will show you on the way to your quarters.”

Jayde felt like a fish out of water, literally. At least her bodyguardlooked as if he could kick some ass.

Jayde stood back to attention, and saluted. “Instructions acknowledged, Commandant!”

Doshmononov mimicked her actions. They both looked like life-sized army men.

Kolosov perused them both. Jayde looked as if she were just following protocol. Doshmononov looked as if he were in a Cadet competition.

“The both of you are dismissed, soldiers,” Kolosov said.

They both dropped their salutes, and headed towards the door. Once they got there, another puzzle was presented to them.

Who was leaving first?

Alexi was a gentleman. Despite his prejudice, she was still the fairer sex. “After you, Lieutenant.”

Jayde felt as if she were the interloper. It wasn't her country, her base, or her privilege. That chivalry thing hadn't entered her mind, since before she was in the military, she acquiesced. “By all means, Sergeant Doshmononov, be my guest.”

“Your graciousness is appreciated, Lieutenant, however, we are gentlemen here. The exit is all yours,” Alexi said.

“All soldiers are equal for their commitment. Don't let me being a woman tarnish that commitment.” Jayde motioned out the door with a smile.

Kolosov had had enough. If they were fighting about who would leave his office first, it would be World War III before lunch! He had to intervene.

“If you two are so worried about braving that big, new world outside of my office, leave by rank!” Kolosov vociferated.

Alexi felt as if Kolosov was on his side. He mimed the ‘after you’ gesture, with a smile of accomplishment.

Jayde hrumphed under her breath, while she passed Alexi. “0730, bodyguard.”

Jayde joined the liaison, and Alexi watched her storm off to her quarters.

“I see what you were doing, Doshmononov,” Kolosov said to Alexi. “Don't think I took your side. My office just began to stink of lower rank, and with your out-nice-ing one another, you'd miss your meeting bickering at my door, Doshmononov, 0730 chesov.”

After Alexi feeling as if he were caned, snapped back to attention, and saluted. “Commandant!”

Kolosov knew this wouldn't go smoothly. He just hoped the fireworks would happen in Belize. “Get out of here, Doshmononov, dismissed.”

Alexi quickly left the office. Kolosov knew the wick had already been lit.


That Doshmononov character is a card, Jayde thought, as she fixed her hair in her bathroom's mirror. Her quarters were actually spacious. This base consisted mostly of men. Jayde was in the women's wing. There were just as many female Spetsnaz soldiers as the United States had female Green Berets. The women's wing was primarily desolate.

She was humming an Isley Brothers song as she freshened up. The Soviets really didn't allot any time for leisure. Her arrival at the meeting was in fifteen minutes. She was lucky it was right down the hall.

Does he hate me because I'm an officer, I'm a female, I'm black, or American? she questioned herself.

It was a quandary she had to find out quickly. If they were shedding blood in the mud, she wanted to know why he hesitated. Not that it would matter, when a 7.62 round pierced her skull.

He's a dedicated soldier. It wouldn't be his duty to let harm come to me, she thought.

That was when her female gene activated.

Men aren't complicated. He won't even acknowledge his hesitation when he's picking up your brains from the sand. He'll chalk it up as “The black Yankee officer chick walked where she shouldn't have.”

Her mind was a dastardly trick player. Being all those things, gave her brain carte blanche to make her paranoid.

She spritzed a bit of Shalini Perfums' on her neck and wrists. That intoxicating scent should halt all dislikes.

It was given to her as a gift from her father. He was proud she had graduated from West Point United States Military Academy. She accomplished her career goals, now her next mission was to get a man.

Jayde went online one day to find out about her gift. Shalini was a floral fragrance. It had fragrance notes. The top note consisted of neroli, while the middle note had tuberose and tiere flower. The base note had sandalwood, and musk. The scent was enchanting. That was when she came across the price. 2.2 ounces cost $900! Daddy must reallywant her to snag a man!

She inhaled the aroma. It was light yet aggressive. Her bouquet accented her persona. It displayed elegant authority. It also mixed with her chemistry well. She put it on unconsciously. She wasn't going ‘Man Huntin'’, it was just the perfume she wore when she met new people.

She adjusted her dress clothing, checked her make-up, grabbed her briefcase, and began to walk from her quarters. It was a staple for her to be early to any meeting.

She entered the room. There was no one there. She didn't expect anybody to be there before her, anyway. There was just a TV-Blu-Ray combination set on a boardroom table, with a couple manila folders in front of it. The atmosphere in the room had this strange pressurized feel to it. The florescent lights woke you up with sterile starkness.

The room felt like a data entry room. The walls were an antiseptic white. It had a blood-red crimson carpet from wall to wall. There were several chairs placed at the meeting table. She sat near the video-combo unit, and waited.

She opened her aluminum briefcase, and pulled out her Belize papers. She had that ‘ready, set, go’ feeling about her.

She thought of nothing, other than the tropical disturbance, until Alexi walked in. With their initial meeting, her attention became divided.

Alexi automatically snapped to attention, and saluted Jayde. “Lieutenant Farrow.”

Jayde placed her papers on the table, stood at attention, and answered Alexi's salute. “Sergeant Doshmononov. You don't have to salute me every time we meet, Sergeant. I know you've acknowledged my rank this morning. I won't hold it against you, if you don't salute.”

“Unless we are in a combat theater, procedure states I have to salute you whenever you or I arrive, Lieutenant Farrow,” Alexi recited from his manual.

“I respect your procedure, Sergeant, but we aren't at war,” Jayde said. “You don't need to be lock-step with me.”

Alexi dropped his salute. That was when her heavenly scent impinged upon any prejudice he harbored. What was that seducing emanation her being possessed? Do all Americans smell like that? He hadn't been around other Americans, so the experience was new to him.

Her alluring aroma portrayed her in a different light. All Jayde did was spritz herself with her perfume, her ‘Man Huntin'’ perfume. She didn't realized how indebted she was to its powerful scope. It made Alexi sign a mental truce in relations to Jayde. There was a reason Shalini costs so much. With an affable female in control, men had no power over its redolence.

Alexi sat on the other side of the video unit. He unconsciously h

ad to distance himself from her euphoric bouquet. He never had to deal with an inadvertent femme fatale before.

They didn't speak. Jayde immersed herself in her Belize papers, while Alexi absorbed himself in battling her fragrance.

He finally gave in. “What, may I ask, is that perfume you are wearing, Lieutenant Farrow?”

Jayde looked up at Alexi in surprise. She never thought he would volunteer a personal question. “I'm wearing Shalini, Sergeant. My dad gave it to me for graduation.”

“Your father has impeccable tastes, Lieutenant Farrow,” Alexi complemented her father.

“T-thank you, Sergeant Doshmononov. Dad has been my match-maker since I've been an officer,” Jayde said.

“Well, to be politically correct, how does your spouse feel about you still baiting your hook?” Alexi asked.

“Your political correctness is not necessary, Sergeant. I like guys, but I haven't caught a fish yet,” Jayde admitted. “The ocean's my husband.”

That was when Commandant Kolosov entered the room. “Ah, my team is here.”

They both stood at attention and saluted the commandant.

Kolosov immediately pish-poshed their actions. “Everybody met this morning, stop saluting every time you see me.”

Both the soldiers sat back down awkwardly.

“I guess I do not have to tell you, this mission is top secret. The only people who know of this anomaly are you, me, and your superiors. Your president and our premier aren't even privy to this information. You have no re-enforcements qualified enough to aid you. Once you have completed this mission, it never happened,” Kolosov recited. This was getting serious.

“Are there going to be any superiors monitoring us today, Commandant Kolosov?” Jayde asked.

“They already have the particulars of the mission, Lieutenant Farrow. They trust your discretion,” Kolosov said. “At this point, this briefing consists of just us.”

Jayde saw where this mission would go. She would be the brains, while Doshmononov would be her acolyte of holy protection.

“The call sign for your team will be Team Veridical. You will answer on frequency whatever degree it is Celsius for the Kremlin's temperature for the 0630 hours to the sixth power,” Kolosov explained the code.

Jayde knew this briefing was to get them up to speed. She decided to interject some intelligence herself.

“Have you ever visited the Light House Reef, in the Caribbean, Sergeant?” she asked Doshmononov.

“My locations have a bit harsher terrain than a tropical vacation spot, Lieutenant.” Alexi said.

“Don't get this mission confused with a vacation, Sergeant. This may look desirable, but we have a glaring problem corrupting the tropical ecosystem, in the midst of pirate country. Parasailing and wake-boarding aren't choices on this operation,” Jayde said.

“Do not get a dedicated Spetsnaz commando confused with a soldier who has the option of leave, Lieutenant. That word was forfeit the day I became a commando. I have no desire to play badminton on the beach. Commandos accomplish their missions. I will protect you, or die trying,” Alexi returned.

Jayde was surprised at Alexi. She knew he couldn't stand her, yet, he was a loyal soldier. His vocation trumped his personal dislikes.

“We will rendezvous with a French scientist, named Doctor Deveaxun Chalet. He knows the Belize Barrier Reef like the back of his hand. His nick-name is ‘The DarwinWarrior’. He takes natural selection to the nth degree,” Jayde explained about her mentor.

“Doctor Chalet sounds interesting,” Alexi said.

“If the word ‘interesting’ means ‘bat crap crazy’, your assumptions would be correct,” Jayde said. “I respect his barrier reef knowledge, but I'm terrified of his eccentricities.”

“I have dealt with odd cookies before,” Alexi said.

“I am not telling you this with aloofness, Sergeant Doshmononov, Doctor Chalet is the epitome of capriciousness. He only eats sea urchin, seaweed, and bee pollen,” Jayde said.

“I eat borscht, cod fish soup, and tvorog. That is normal for me. He would probably gag,” Alexi told her.

“There is one major difference between both your cuisines; one can be categorized as food, no matter how exotic it is,” she explained, to get her point of his irregularity across.

“Now, you are getting extreme, Lieutenant,” Alexi said. “Seaweed is food.”

“...To a mollusk,” Jayde completed his sentence.

“You would eat seaweed,” Alexi claimed.

“Not on a dare,” Jayde answered him again.

Commandant Kolosov had a poignant question. “Does ‘Mister Unique Diet’ have the proper clearance?”

“He is more secure than we are, Commandant. He messaged me about a disturbance at the reef even before my orders were cut. I would never introduce a leak into this delicate operation, Sir,” Jayde said.

“Regardless, I will wire a request to Belize about the doctor's background. I, unfortunately, cannot trust yourword with statements,” Kolosov said.

Jayde knew the protocol. She couldn't say ‘boo’ without proper authorization. She had to get some sleep before they traveled to Belize, anyway. That should give Kolosov enough time to get all his ducks in line.

Kolosov looked over his team. Doshmononov was in white knight shield mode, and Jayde looked like a curious pixie.

“You know exactly what we know. Are there any questions?” Kolosov asked.

“Am I authorized to use deadly force, Commandant?” Alexi asked.

Jayde and the commandant had a strange look on their faces.

“I am not asking to kill anyone,” Alexi explained. “I just want to know what restrictions, if any, I have. That is the basis of my question,” Alexi clarified.

“This operation is considered a krasnyy robin (red robin). Neutralizationis authorized. Just don't kill anyone because they like the Beach Boys instead of Bulanova,” Kolosov said.

“YA budu khoroshim mal' chikom,” Alexi spoke in Russian.

“We have an officer from the United States as a guest, Doshmononov, have some respect,” Kolosov admonished Alexi, and then he turned to Jayde. “I am sorry, Lieutenant, he said he would be a good boy.”

Jayde just looked at Alexi. She hoped he would be effective, not ‘good’. “I have a question, Commandant, when do we leave?”

“Your departure from our base is 1800 hours. I know it isn't a lot of time for you to get familiar with Kiev, but your liaison can give you a tour of our city,” Kolosov said.

“A tour is not necessary, Commandant, I must get sleep. I've been living in time's ‘Outer Limits’. I've literally been awake for three days. I need to rest before we add another day,” Jayde explained.

“Yes, I understand time has ravaged your sleep pattern, and you must claim more, before the time zone molests you again. Your liaison will wake you at 1500 hours,” Kolosov said.

Alexi decided it was an opportune time to meditate. The woman needed sleep, he needed relaxation.

“There is nothing else?” Kolosov asked. The team was quiet. “Dismissed.”

Jayde took her files, and presented them to Alexi. “These papers will help you bone up on Belize.”

Alexi took the folder. “Spacibo Lieutenant. Walking into a disturbance blindly is never an advantage.”

“I feel the same way, Sergeant. We need to work as smooth as water off a waxed car,” she said.

They didn't know they were the key gears to a complex timepiece. Chapter Four. The Preparation Initiative

The liaison woke Jayde at three pm. They were going to travel at six, not around, or about. The Soviets were very punctual. She was refreshed. Earlier, during her Soviet orientation, the cloud of fatigue hung on her like an iron cloak.

She squared away her billet area. It felt as if she were a VIP. There just weren't any female Special Forces soldiers populating the area. She didn't know if they were on maneuvers, or just weren't. The Russian military felt very different.

She jumped in the shower. The warm water caressed her body. She was alert and relaxed at the same time. She felt pleasant, at that moment. This would be a day she would relish at a later date. Humans weren't able to harness every aspect of time at that point. That was why they used the phrase ‘If I knew then what I know now’. Humans don't, though the Cheasu have mastered that circuitous ability. Jayde subconsciously put herself in the paradox of wanting that endowment for now, later.

She had hoped Alexi studied up on Belize. It was critical to her mission for him to know locations and customs, so he could fit in well with the native Hondurans. She had to quiz him before they left.

Was he a bit more compliant the second time we met? she thought. Not knowing her perfume made him sign a mental treaty of peace, she was inadvertently breaking down his defenses.

Once she got out of the shower, she got dressed in her service dress uniform. She changed from slacks to a skirt. She had rows of medals placed on the left side of her chest. They glimmered majestically in the barracks light. They showed everyone her experience. They even looked intimidating to the uninformed. She was proud of herself.

She adjusted herself in her mirror. She saw a professional, independent, knowledgeable officer looking back at her.

She sat her equipment near the door, and walked to the common area. Her liaison was sitting at her desk.

Jayde walked to her desk.

“Privet Sergeant Igntyav, would you know the location of Sergeant Doshmononov?” Jayde asked.

“Sergeant Doshmononov is in the physical training area, Lieutenant Farrow,” Igntyav told her. “I will escort you there.”

“If you don't need to drive there, I can get there on my own, but you can help me with where it is in the building,” Jayde said.

“Go upstairs to the second floor, and take a left. Go until you can smell the sweat. It's the double doors at the end of the hall, Lieutenant,” Igntyav directed her.

“Spacibo Sergeant, do svidaniya,” Jayde expressed a thank you, and good bye.

Jayde walked down the hall, up the stairs, and towards the double doors. She was going to quiz Alexi on Belize. He should've been studying longer than working out. He should've gotten his knowledge on instead of his sweat on.

She opened the double doors. Alexi was lifting weights with his back to her. She saw the sweat traipsing down his alabaster skin. She saw his taught muscles excelling while curling around 140 kilograms—300 pounds. His breathing was steady, and his lifting was relentless.

Alexi saw her marveling at his back through the mirrored wall in front of him.

“Is there an order you wish for me to perform for you, Lieutenant Farrow?” Alexi asked the preoccupied Jayde.

Jayde had forgotten why she was there! Alexi's muscular frame scratched her mind. Her record had skipped.

She quickly got back on task. “Sergeant Doshmononov, have you studied my report?”

“I went over it twice,” Alexi said, as he kept curling the bar as if he was picking up a single roll of paper towel. “When I came across your report on the pirates, it told me to pump for my job.”

“That's commendable, Sergeant. It took me two years to write that report, and you finished it by early afternoon?” she asked.

“It takes longer to imagine, write, and record a song, than it takes to listen to it,” Alexi said, while still curling. “I know Belize, try me.”

“Okay genius, we'll start off easy. Where is Belize?” she asked.

“It is a country located on the north eastern coast of Central America,” Alexi rattled off, without missing a curl. “That was Romper Room. Give me a real question.”

Jayde thought anyone that skimmed the first page of her report could've pegged that question. He answered if he even read it. Now it was time to get deeper.

“Bravo Professor, you read the introduction. Let's just see how far you read,” she said. “Belize was a colony to which country?”

Alexi wanted to stun her. He not only answered her question, he began an oral dissertation. “Belize became a colony of the British Empire after the Battle of Saint George Caye. It was a short skirmish that started September third of 1798. On the tenth, the Spanish Armada tried to take Belize by force, only to be repelled by the British. The Battle of Saint George Caye has been a Belize holiday ever since.”

Jayde thought, I guess he did read. That information was in the depths of my report.

“I have a question for you, Lieutenant,” Alexi said, with his sweat absorbing into the leather of his weight belt. “The reef we are going to investigate is called the Belize Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is off the coast of Australia. Why are you confusing reefs?”

“The reason I call it the Great Barrier Reef, is because it's the first reef I've explored, and it's massive, and the great Charles Darwin once said it was the greatest reef in the West Indies. I understand your confusion. You Soviets are too precise for my nick-names. I'll call it the Belize Barrier Reef from now on,” she apologized.

“I just needed your explanation, Lieutenant. Since it makes sense, I can assimilate your reason. Call it whatever you wish,” Alexi said.

“And if it didn't make sense?” Jayde asked.

“Begging your pardon, Lieutenant,” Alexi started. “You are a woman. Women do not make sense, and men just adjust. I just needed to know where we sat. Since you did make sense, there is no sense in digging myself a deeper hole. So, shutting up would be my best option.”

As brash as he was, he explained with directness. She couldn't fault him for that. She decided to change the subject.

“We have around two and a half hours before we depart. Will you be ready?” she asked.

“I have never missed a mission pinpoint. You could wrap me in duct tape five minutes before departure, and I will still be ready,” Alexi touted.

“That's enlightening to know, He-Man. I think taking a shower would suffice for this operation,” she said, with snark.

“At your command, Lieutenant,” Alexi said, as he accented his statement by dropping his weights to the floor. They bounced on the mat once to stress their heaviness.

“O-okay, I'll see you in the front of the commandant's office at 1730 hours.” She tried to keep composure, although she witnessed Alexi's prowess.

As she closed the door, and left him, Alexi grabbed his water bottle and towel. He began wiping his forehead, and thought, the girl is smart. I can see why she is a lieutenant. She can train me on the scientific things, while I can train her on how to pull a pirate's spine out through his nostrils. We will work together fine.


Jayde walked back to her quarters. She had gotten hot and bothered. Not from the trek from the physical training room, she jogged ten miles a day, normally. It was from Alexi's sweaty torso gleaming in the sunlight.

Jayde was an independent woman. She never got, or didn't want, any special favors to get to her position from any man. She was proud to be in total control of her destiny. Then how was a man making her lose it?

She closed her door, and began to breathe normally. “Come on girl, keep it together. He's so white, you can see him at night!”

That was her father crawling in her mind. Jayde wasn't brought up in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. She didn't care if he was purple. Those purple pecs of his would still be sexy.

What am I thinking? He hates me! I don't even know why, but affection for me is not in his repertoire! she thought.

She walked back to the liaison. “Sergeant Igntyav, where would a computer with online capabilities happen to be?”

“Our resource room is in the opposite direction of the physical training area. That is upstairs, turn right, and it is the third door on the left side of the hallway,” Igntyav directed Jayde. “I take it you do not need any assistance?”

“The legs are still operational, Sergeant,” Jayde joked. “Don't worry, Svetlana, your liaison skills are commendable.”

“Spacibo, Lieutenant,” Igntyav obliged.

“You are very welcome, Sergeant,” Jayde said.

She went back upstairs, and found the resource room. That was where she found some Spetsnaz women. They were studying for a NATO/Warsaw Pact recognition test. They had to know who used what fighter jet.

Jayde didn't want to bother them. Learning the difference between a Falcon and a Foxbat was tough enough.

They all looked up at her when she walked into the room. They were surprised to see a new, different looking woman officer enter the resource room.

“Don't mind me, soldiers,” she held up her hand. “My name is Lieutenant Farrow, with the United States Air Force. I just need an open terminal. I'll be out of your hair, momentarily.”

This was a rare opportunity for the female Spetsnaz. They had never met an American. Especially not one who worked intimately with NATO aircraft. Lieutenant Farrow was the ‘gift horse’.

One of the women stood at attention, and saluted Jayde. “Sergeant Zherdev, Lieutenant Farrow. Begging your pardon, Lieutenant, but could you identify some of these NATO aircraft pozhaluysta (please)?”

Jayde, oddly, felt like a rock star. She was not only pleased to see more than one other woman on the base, she didn't mind signing some autographs.

“I am an Air Force lieutenant, Sergeant Zherdev. I can identify every non-classified North Atlantic Treaty Organization aircraft.” Jayde was happy to jog her knowledge.

“Spacibo Lieutenant.” Zherdev turned her LCD screen to Jayde. “Would you happen to know the names of these aircraft?”

Jayde saw a slew of NATO aircraft. They were gridded on her screen. This was going to be a piece of cake for her.

She pointed at the jet at the top left of the screen. “That's an F-18 Hornet,” she began, then pointed to the next ones in the row. “An A-6 Intruder, an F-15 Eagle, A Saab 35 Draken, an SR-71 Blackbird, how old are these files?”

That was when Jayde saw the copyright on the side of the pictures. “1988!? The F-117 Nighthawk wasn't even active then!”

“We have seen a stealth fighter, Lieutenant, we just don't have one in our files,” Zherdev said.

Jayde was disgusted with the lack of general knowledge the Soviets administered to females. She looked to the next computer.

“Is this terminal open?” she asked.

“That one is available, Lieutenant,” Zherdev said.

Jayde moved to the open computer, adjacent Zherdev's. She logged on, and tapped to a NATO website.

“I feel it is time you ladies were updated,” Jayde announced. “This site will show you all non-classified NATO aircraft, from the A-4 Skyhawk, to the YF-23 Black Widow, prevetstvenneyy.” Jayde felt knowledge equality should be gender neutral.

All the women crowded around the terminal. They were incredibly grateful—they acquired their ringer for their exam.

Zherdev looked up at Jayde. “Spacibo, Lieutenant. Those terminals are free for you.”

“Sticking up for my fellow female soldiers is mandatory in my book. Sergeant,” Jayde said.

Since the women were satisfied with educating themselves on what every man knew as a Spetsnaz soldier, Jayde was free to do what she came here for, in the first place.

She logged on to a Belize website to check the forecast for the week. It was sunny and around 85 degrees. It was everything, weather-wise, a paradise had... everything.

She looked at the world weather map, and saw a hurricane disruption off the coast of Namibia, Africa. It was heading towards Belize!

This will be a new experience for the Arctic Warrior. He's been cold before, but never wind-whipped and drenched, she thought.

She got her information, and helped her fellow women. It was almost time to leave the peculiarity of Kiev, to go straight into the tropical unconventionality of Belize. At least that oddity was familiar, if not strangely common.

Jayde stood from the computer. She saw her girls busy soaking up everything the men knew. She was pleased at the result.

She walked out of the resource room, and back to her quarters. She saw Sergeant Igntyav working hard at tidying her desk. She wasn't just sitting there, waiting for the rare dignitary to arrive, to greet him. She sought out work. The female soldiers were efficient also.

She walked into her room, and saw, all her items were gone. They must have loaded them already.

She looked at her watch, and realized it was 1703 hundred hours. She did a once-over, grabbed her toiletries, and walked to Commandant Kolosov's office.

Alexi was standing in a standard battle dress uniform, waiting to depart. He had two Soviet military soldier bags, and a camouflage tactical array backpack sitting beside him.

“They have loaded your gear onto the transport, Lieutenant,” Alexi informed Jayde.

“Why do you have yours sitting in front of you?” she asked.

“I prefer to have possession of the equipment that keeps me alive, Lieutenant,” Alexi explained.

“What about when they load your gear into the cargo hold of the plane?” she inquired.

“I monitor all movement, from my possession to the cargo hold of the Ilyushin,” he said. “There will be only us, and two pilots in the craft. There will be no one available to tamper in the cargo hold, Lieutenant.”

His reasoning was sound. She knew he was a private person. She also knew his job was built around security, but she had to question why.

“I know you trust your comrades, Sergeant, so why are you so protective of your equipment?” Jayde was curious.

This was the first time Alexi opened up to... anybody. He decided the security of what he was going to say wouldn't compromise anybody, so he elucidated.

“I have been a paratrooper for years. I was a VDV Blue Beret Skull. I was good. One fateful day, I jumped with my squad on a training operation. Since I commanded my squad, I was the last one to jump. The comrades, whom I trusted so much, packed my chute. That was their job, so I thought nothing of their proficiency.

Since we were Spetsnaz soldiers, we did speed jumps from 380 meters. When we popped, we fell at seven meters per second, so we would not be airborne targets for long. I was in charge, so I was the last one to jump.

When I jumped, I pulled my ripcord at the proper time. That was when things got interesting. When my chute deployed, my suspension cords wrapped in my canopy's middle. It looked like a brazier. I think your Airborne calls it a ‘Mae West’. I was the last paratrooper to jump, and the first one to land.

My squad thought I was dead. At least, I must have broken every bone in my legs. When they landed, they searched for my mangled body.

That was when everyone nick-named me the ‘Iron Grizzly’. When they searched for me, they saw me get up, aggressively, ripping off my gear, and yelling, “Who packed my damned chute!?” Of course, it was in Russian. I think that will answer your question of my paranoia.”

It did answer that, and another of Jayde's questions. Sergeant Doshmononov was a rock-hard trooper. Any time a soldier drops over a thousand feet from a plane, with no more than a streamer, and survive, angrily? The nick-name ‘Iron Grizzly’ was appropriate.

The liaison interrupted Jayde's wonder. “Izvanite, soldiers. The transport is ready for you.”

Jayde looked at her watch. 1800 hours on the dot. She knew she could set her watch by the Russians. They were like German public transportation. If you left early, or arrived late, you were fired. The term ‘fashionably late’ didn't exist in Eurasia.

Jayde grabbed one of Alexi's bags. Alexi stopped her in mid-transport.

“Pozhaluysta Lieutenant, I can handle my equipment,” he said.

Jayde released his bag, and witnessed him haul his bags and backpack, all at once, to their transport truck.

That man's not only an Iron Grizzly, he's a Steel Work Horse, she thought, as she checked her gear, and filed into the truck. They were on their way to the Ilyushin-76 to travel to Belize, and be administered another confusing dose of jet lag. Jayde was excited to do what she did. In her mind was one phrase—Bring it on!

Chapter Five. Fun In the Sun?

The Ilyushin-76 was an impressive aircraft. It was the Warsaw Pact's crown jewel. It was designed in 1967 as the hauler of massive armament to remote locations in the USSR at that time. They also used it as a refueling tanker, but now, it had entered its final use as a command center.

It was their version of the Galaxy. Granted, the U.S. Air Force utilized the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker for aerial refueling, but the Ilyushin served its purpose well.

The interior of the fuselage was massive. It used to transport IS-4 and T-10 heavy tanks. Now they carry T2S25, T-84, and T-90 tanks, post-USSR. They were still in use.

Alexi was fine with flight. Anytime you could jump out of an aircraft for work, flying in them was an afterthought. Unfortunately for Jayde, flying needled at her like the elusive pin in a new shirt that arbitrarily poked at you, one that you missed—annoying.

Turbulence hit, and jostled Jayde. It enhanced her nervousness. Alexi looked over to the uncomfortable fawn. Jayde was involuntarily shaking out of uneasiness and frustration. How could an Air Force officer be a head case flying? Something was wrong with that picture.

“I am stuck in a paradox, Lieutenant,” Alexi chimed in over the four colossal engines of the 76.

“What is that, Sergeant?” Jayde asked.

“I have been commanding men for years Lieutenant… men. You are a womanwith uncomfortableness in flight. I know how I can help you overcome your uneasiness, however, I train men. Training women would be... irregular, to say the least,” he said. He was as uncomfortable with his suggestion, as much as she was with flying.

It was strange. Both were experienced soldiers, who were proud of their expertise, but unsure of what should come automatically to them. Interesting.

“Sergeant Doshmononov, I'm a soldier in your eyes first, a woman second. If you can help me beat my phobia, have at me. The Air Force has.” Jayde tried to comfort Alexi's chanciness.

Alexi contemplated his situation. He weighed the pros and cons of the locus. He, inherently, wasn't nice. He was purposefully harsh when training his men. He didn't care if they went crying home to Mamma! They needed to get tough to serve under him. She did say he should have at her. She volunteered herself to chug lava. She just didn't know how hot lava was. Well, she was about to find out.

“First, you must forgive me for what I am about to do, Lieutenant,” Alexi said.

Jayde had a curious look on her face. What was he going to do to her? She knew he wasn't going to hit her. He had more sense than that. Then, she thought, Well, he can't kill me, just agree to whatever abuse he is going to administer.

“Okay, Sergeant. All is forgiven,” she said, and unknowingly, tripped the switch.

Alexi stood up, and walked over to Jayde. He had a possessed look on his face. Jayde became immediately pensive. He bent down by her ear.

Alexi spoke in a frighteningly calm voice. “What are you afraid of?”

Jayde had no idea how to answer that question. “What do you mean, Sergeant?”

Alexi was patiently quiet for a second. Then he changed. He morphed into Beelzebub himself.


Jayde was gravely shocked. She scrambled to release her seat belt, and stood, quickly.

Alexi began to yell in her face. “ANSWER THE QUESTION, YOU WASTE OF OXYGEN!”

“F-flying disturbs me, Sergeant!” Jayde yelled back.

“YOU ARE AFRAID OF FLYING!?” Alexi yelled.

“Yes Sergeant! I am afraid!” Jayde yelled.


“N-no Sergeant, it doesn't!” Jayde answered.

That was when Alexi towered over Jayde. “THAT IS FUNNY, PLEBE, I DO! ARE YOU MORE AFRAID OF A DESTROYER, OR FLYING!?”

T-the destroyer, Sergeant!” Jayde answered.

Alexi let his reasoning soak in. Aside from her surprised terror, his reasoning permeated.

“Now, sit your dainty ass down, and think about what you chose,” Alexi said, with a menacing somberness.

Alexi sat back down. Jayde had to control her sporadic breathing. He looked like the devil himself! He definitely frightened her. She knew of him. She was familiar with some of his quirks, but she never knew he could transform into a demon at will.

“Are you all right, Lieutenant?” Alexi asked. He was the docile soldier, as if he had never turned into Mephistopheles earlier.

“You can be intense, Sergeant,” she said.

“That is why my platoon is draped with medals, Lieutenant,” he said, with a hint of pride. “Did my exercise work?”

She sat, and thought about her flying phobia. She realized it had taken a hiatus! It was gone! He actually scared it out of her!

“You know, Sergeant, I'd say that is an affirmative! Thank you for scaring the phobia out of me,” she obliged him.

The co-pilot came out of the pilot's station. “Is everyone all right?”

“Oh, yes, Sir. Everything's fine,” Jayde announced.

“Was everybody fine with the turbulence?” The captain asked.

“I believe the turbulence kick-started the alleviation of my phobia of flying, Captain.” Jayde said.

“That is good, Lieutenant. That means the air pockets won't disturb you,” the Captain said.

Jayde looked to Alexi.

“Remember Lieutenant, air pockets cannot even use harsh language,” Alexi reminded her.

The funny thing about her analytical thought was, since he was right, she had no fear anymore.

“I'm about to sleep, to try to avoid the jet lag, Captain. Air pockets shouldn't bother me,” Jayde said.


“Lieutenant Farrow, wake up.” Alexi gently shook Jayde from her sleep. She awoke with his massive hand swallowing her arm.

“Now I see why they call you the Iron Grizzly, Alexi.” She was coming out of her stupor. She realized she called him by his first name! She felt, immediately inappropriate. “I am so sorry, Sergeant Doshmononov! I will never assume the use of your first name, ever again!”

Alexi was more surprised at her outburst, than calling him by his first name.

“Remember when you told me to cool it with my military protocol, and to stop saluting you?” he asked. “Alexi is fine. That actually is my name. Besides, I feel that I owe you. I did call you ‘plebe’afew hours ago.”

She began to stretch, and said, “C'mon Alexi, you know I was a West Point freshman at one time, and calling me that would strike a nerve. I knew what you were doing when you did it.”

Alexi smiled. She read him like a book. “When was the last time you slept so well on a jet?”

“Just because I knew what you were doing—impressive, by the way—doesn't mean it didn't work, Sergeant.” Jayde sat up from her slumber. “Where are we?”

“I would say around 550 kilometers away from the Belize airport,” he said.

Jayde looked out the window. The moonlight frolicked off the waves of the Atlantic. There were no clouds. They were, proverbially, in the quiet before the storm.

She looked at her smart-phone. It was 2100 hours on Friday! They had been in the air over eight hours! That damned time zone anomaly struck again.

“Looks like we'll arrive in Belize, from Kiev in two hours, Sergeant,” she said.

“At least you caught up on the sleep you did not get when you traveled from New York, Lieutenant,” Alexi said.

Jayde knew the devastating effects of jet lag. She was concerned about Alexi.

“Are you well rested, Sergeant?” she asked.

“Spetsnaz soldiers do not need sleep, Lieutenant. We grant sleep permission to happen,” he said.

“You Special Forces soldiers are... different,” Jayde said.

“We are the personification of our name, Lieutenant,” Alexi clarified. “Whoever called us that, should be commended.”

Jayde's curiosity crept into her brain, once more. “I know you eat rusty nails for breakfast, but really, what makes you Special Forces?”

“You need my resume, Lieutenant,” Alexi said. “You want to know what makes me so special.”

“Unclassified, of course,” Jayde concluded.

Alexi knew they had a while before they touched down, so he decided to regaleher.

“A Spetsnaz soldier is a commando that participates in special purpose operations. We do tasks other soldiers will not, and cannotdo. We deal in the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and Special Rescue, from covert ranks, to Premiers.

The acronym Spetsnaz means ‘SPETsialnovo NAZnacheniya osobovo naznacheniya’, which in American means ‘Special Purpose’.

“I have qualified as an expert marksman in the AS VAL Auto-assault rifle, the GP-25 and 30 grenade launchers, the Iahmash AK9, AN94, Saiga-12 gauge, and SV98 firing armaments. The Kalashnikov AK103, and AKSU 74 sub-machine guns. The KBP SA-91, GM-94, and VSK-94. That is a silenced sniper rifle, my favorite. All Makarov pistols, and an experimental VSS Vitorez auto-silence incendiary, and Mercury tipped sniper rifle, just to ruin someone's day.” Alexi went down an impressive laundry list of weapons. It was scary enough that he knew so many, let alone was an expert marksman at every last one of them!

“I know you're not complete with what makes you so special, Sergeant, but I do have one poignant thing to say about everything you've told me already—damn!” Jayde was in awe. She knew all the obscure entities in the ocean, but all she could do with a rifle was to pull the trigger and make it go boom.

“I am what America calls a ‘Macgyver Assassin’. I can kill you with a bubble gum wrapper and a wet noodle,” Alexi touted.

Jayde could do things also. It just wasn't of the combat variety. Her profession was highly respected in the scholar realm. She had to face it. She had to get comfortable with embracing her nerd.

“That is why I have no problem protecting you, Lieutenant,” Alexi said.

“You are an impressive commando, Sergeant Doshmononov, but you're about to step into my world.” Jayde became serious. “You're going to need to know the difference between random amino acid compounds, and conjugated peptides.”

“You are an impressive soldier also, Lieutenant Farrow. You can flex too. You just do it mentally.” Alexi said.

Jayde had a smile behind her eyes. At least the brute could respect her brain. She definitely respected his brawn.

“Attention all passengers, attach your seat belts. We are landing at Belize Airport. It is 30 degrees Celsius, 8 degrees Fahrenheit, and a calm night. Dobro pozhalovat'! Comrades,” the captain announced over the intercom.

Jayde immediately locked her seat belt. It was the first time she didn't feel nervous about landing. Alexi could be a psychiatrist, just a psychotic psychiatrist.

She remembered the depressurization. Her ears began to pop. That wasn't part of her flying phobia; it was just plain annoying.

She looked over to Alexi. He flew much more than she did. She saw him holding his nose, and blowing. That was when her flight training crashed back. He was doing something called the Valsalva Maneuver! He forcefully exhaled against a closed airway! She almost slapped her own forehead for forgetting that one.

She held her nose, and blew. The pressure in her head regulated. No more popping ears. Everything neutralized itself on her flight from Kiev to Belize. She remembered why she enlisted in the Air Force in the first place.

There were no problems with the landing. The Ilyushin was just a big bird. It announced its touchdown boisterously.

When the engines relented, Jayde grabbed her things. Alexi picked up his backpack. They were ready to exit the aircraft. Jayde was back home. Well, her summer home. She waited, with anticipation, to meet Doctor Chalet. He knew she would be excited to see if everything was back where she left it. She was at the door, like a pet, waiting for her master to get home.

Alexi saw her frenzied activity at the door. He felt the same way she did, waiting to begin his parachute deployment on a H.A.L.O. (High Altitude Low Opening) Dive.

The door opened. She saw Doctor Chalet waiting for them at the base of the stairs. There were no soldiers waiting to greet them. No commanders, big brass, or dignitaries. It was just the doctor.

They began walking down the mobile stairs. Jayde had a smile on her face. She was like a kid returning to an amusement park. Alexi assessed the area. He wanted to know the tactical way to egress from the area. He did that, automatically, when he was in new surroundings.

Jayde didn't have to salute Chalet. He was a civilian scientist, but she was happy to greet her mentor.

“Hello Deveauxn. I heard somebody kicked my reef,” she said.

“Jayde! Great to zee ju keed! Jour reev iz jus, 'ow do ju zay...zhaky.” Doctor Chalet said, while holding his arms wide for her.

Jayde gave him a big hug. Alexi had never seen her casual affection before. That whole persona of her being a woman overshadowed her title as a soldier. He was glad to see her compassion.

“Howya been, Doc?” she asked Chalet.

“I 'ave been teep top, Jayde. Jou veel zoleed,” Chalet said.

“I train every day as an Air Force officer, Doc. I can't help, but to be solid,” she said.

Then, Deveauxn looked over her shoulder, and saw Alexi.

“Who iz ze akshon feegure, Jayde?” he asked in her ear.

She broke their embrace. She felt unprofessional in front of Alexi. She straightened herself.

“Pardon me, Doctor Chalet. Doctor Chalet, Sergeant Doshmononov,” she introduced them.

Deveauxn looked over Alexi. “Ju look like an akshon ztar, Zergeant.”

Alexi didn't expect a greeting like that. He heard the doctor was eccentric. He was about to be introduced into imbecilic extravagance.

“I am Spetsnaz, Doctor. My muscles are for action. The ‘show’ is just a bonus,” Alexi said, and shook Deveauxn's hand.

Chalet felt Alexi's grip, and was impressed. “Jou are an eemprezeeve zpezimen, Zergeant. Eez jour nourishment leaded, or unleaded?”

Alexi didn't know what Doctor Chalet was talking about. “I eat Kiev style chicken, and potato vareniki.”

“Jour dieet iz leaded,” Chalet said.

“We can catch up and administer pleasantries tomorrow, Doc. I need to set up. Show us to the palace,” Jayde interrupted their meeting.

“Vhat am I zinking? Jou are here on buizness!” Chalet came back to the real reason for their visit. “Jour billeets are over 'ere, vollow me.”

Alexi saw that all his bags were stacked under the Ilyushin. He walked over and grabbed them. Jayde did the same while Chalet grabbed her board. They were ready to settle in.

The barracks were on the other side of the air strip. The airport was military. Commercial jets arrived, and shared. It was very touristy-busy. The military owned it, but used it sporadically. It was, figuratively, a Delta hub.

The two soldiers followed the doctor through the terminal. They went to the barracks. It was different for Alexi. He was used to the living quarters being gender segregated. His area was right next to Jayde’s.

Jayde saw his apprehension. She tried to joke with him, to quell his uneasiness. “Belize is so small a country, the soldiers are packed like sardines, here.”

Alexi assimilated, and accepted her whimsical explanation. “I like being closer to my target. I can slit a throat quicker from next door.”

Jayde took that to describe his dedication to protecting her. She didn't want to think about his blood lust.

Deveauxn whispered to Jayde. “Zomeone broke heez model train az a child, I vould zink.”

“Brutal is his job, Doc,” Jayde explained.

“I take it you have rested, Lieutenant. I will watch you prepare your equipment,” Alexi offered.

“Pirates aren't going to infiltrate this base and try to gut me at 2200 tonight, Sergeant,” Jayde claimed.

“I know that, Lieutenant. This is for me. You wanted me to learn the difference between random amino acid compounds, and conjugated peptides. Who better to learn from, than the source?”

He was right. She did say that. She wasn't sleepy, and Alexi wouldn't allow sleep. She also knew he wanted to be next to her, just in case. He wasn't that crafty in his intention. Once they arrived, he was on duty.

“Give me time to get into my sweats. Come to my room in fifteen minutes.” She accepted his invitation.

Chalet saw their date forming. He was French. He knew when to leave them to their own devices.

“I 'ope jou two 'ad an enjoyable vlight to Belize. I vil leave jou, unteel tomorrow. Au revoir.” Chalet said farewell.

“We'll get dirty tomorrow, Doc,” Jayde said. She walked into her room.

It was the first time in a week she felt relaxed. Her room was different, but it was her old stomping grounds. She slipped into her environment like an old sneaker.

She wasn't on any aircraft, she wasn't in a strange country. Normalcy rang true.

She looked at her things. She had to unpack. First, she wanted to put on her sweats. She had been in her formal military attire since the beginning of the week. She wanted to let her hair down, literally.

She pulled her sweats from her garment bag. She walked into the bathroom, and turned on the shower. She wanted to wash the travel off her. She jumped in the shower. The warm water complimented her stay. She got out, quickly. She was Air Force. That meant quick showers, plus Alexi would knock on her door in ten minutes.

She didn't primp. She did put on her Shalini, though. It wasn't meant to lure him in, she just did it out of habit.

She was adjusting her mascara when she heard a knock at the door. She dropped her mascara pen and walked to the door. She opened it and saw Alexi, in front of her, standing at parade rest.

“Get in here, Alexi,” she told him.

Alexi obliged. He saw her in her sweats. With her hair down. She was wearing that damned treaty producer! That wasn't fair!

“You look... relaxed, Lieutenant,” Alexi said.

“All right Alexi, while we're here, you have a new order,” she said.

“What is your order, Lieutenant?” Alexi asked.

“Stop calling me lieutenant all the time! My name is Jayde. You can pronounce that, right?” she asked.

Of course Alexi could pronounce her name! He just needed her request, disguised as an order.

“Jayde is easier to say than Lieutenant. I will obey your order,” Alexi said.

“That's good,” Jayde said. “I'm glad you allowed me to call you Alexi. Sergeant Doshmononov was wearing out my throat.”

“I do not even like my last name, Jayde. Saying Doshmononov sounds like your record is skipping,” he said with a bit of levity.

Jayde smiled. She was truly relaxed. She was at home, in her element, and her sweats. She finally felt in control.

“Okay Alexi, let's get to work,” Jayde said. “What is a peptide?”

Alexi inadvertently tripped, and fell into class. “You are a quick teacher, Jayde. I do not know what a peptide is.”

Jayde knew he didn't know a peptide from a ruble. “A peptide is a compound containing two or more amino acids in which the carboxyl group of one acid is linked to the amino group of the other.”

Alexi knew she was the sensei. That he was the trainee.

“So, random means arbitrary, and conjugated means to put in a fixed order!” Alexi figured it out.

“So, Random amino acid compounds, and conjugated peptides are...?” Jayde asked.

“The difference between putting crazy troops anywhere, and into formation!”

“And you can attest that crazy troopers in formation fight more effectively than willy-nilly troopers,” Jayde said.

“So, the difference between random amino acid compounds, and conjugated peptides is, order gives them power,” Alexi concluded.

“See, you can be a scientist, and rip out throats at the same time!” she said.

“That reminds me. Where is the weight room?” Alexi asked. “I need to do a little late night pumping.”

“It's at the end of the hall. You're lucky, the sleeping quarters are on the other side,” Jayde said.

“Well, I hope grunts will not jostle anyone,” he said.

“Grunt all you want, Alexi, no one's going to hear you,” she assured him.

“Spacibo for the lesson, Jayde. I will use it here, and shed it when it is not needed.”

“You don't want to keep that information?” she asked.

“My mind is used where it is needed. I will need it to shoot straight, instead of being concerned about a carrier protein. Yes, I carried around Cliff Notes in order not to look too stupid,” Alexi admitted.

“I have to set up my station. That reef isn't going to correct itself,” she informed him. “Be back here at 0630 hours.”

“I will not work out that long,” he said.

“Catch a cat nap. We're going to be knee deep in mollusks tomorrow,” she said.

Spokoynoy nochi Jayde,” Alexi said.

“I'm assuming you said good night. I'll see you tomorrow, Alexi,” she said.

“Do svidaniya, do zavtra,” Alexi said.

“I know some of that one!” Jayde exclaimed. ”Good-bye.”

“The end means until tomorrow,” he said. “I will teach you vecherom when it is appropriate.”

Alexi walked down the hall after Jayde closed her door. He needed to get his pump on. He saw the weight room, and was surprised to see Doctor Chalet lifting.

“Good evening, Zergeant. Vancy zeeing jou 'ere,” Chalet said, as he lifted 450 pounds over his head.

“I needed to burn off some excitement,” Alexi said. “It looks like you're lifting around 450 kilograms, impressive.”

“Zhe Uniteed Ztates militaree uzes zhe English measurement zcale. I am lifting 450 poundz. Zheir zcale makes zem zound more eemprezeeve,” Chalet explained.

Alexi went to the bar bells. He saw some 150 pound ones and picked them up. They were much heavier than what he was used to.

“Zcrew ze converzion. Zink ov zem az being tvice az 'eavy az what jou are joos to,” Chalet explained.

Alexi decided to begin pumping the same weight he always did. He thought it would be no problem. He didn't realize, twice as heavy meant ten times the strain. His lifting became rather unyielding.

Deveauxn look at Alexi struggling. “Zose numberz are real, Zergeant. Who are jou trying to eemprez?”

Alexi, slowly curled a bar bell with a grunt, said, “Myself, Doctor. Lifting is mind over matter.”

“I zon't care if jou zon't mind about ze measurement zcale. Zhe veight ov zat bar bell, zhe ztill matterz,” Deveauxn said.

Alexi decided to power through his sets. He wasn't going to let an inanimate object dictate any of his actions. Ego was one emotion that laughed at reality. That was why ego was so full of itself.

“Jou are determeened to rupture jour zpleen, Zergeant,” Chalet said. “Jou must zlow down!”

“Well, I heard you go by the mantra of survival of the fittest. I am just trying to be the fittest, Doctor,” Alexi said, as he powered through his sets.

“Ze vittest iz ze zmartest, Zergeant. Vork-ut vizin jour meanz,” Chalet said.

“What about you, lifting over 200 kilograms! That is insane!” Alexi expressed.

“Eet iz vithin my meanz, Zergeant. I could leeft much more,” Chalet said.

“That sounds like you're King Rooster, crowing loudly,” Alexi said.

“I am not zhallenging jour man'ood. I am just ztating a vact, Zergeant.” Chalet tried to calm Alexi down.

It didn't work. Alexi saw him, proverbially, drop the gauntlet. “How much do you think you can lift, Doctor?”

“I can lift vou zimes my bodyveight, Zergeant, eazily. Zientizt never eztimate. Zey verk vit vacts.”

“I can lift four of you to move you out of my way, Doctor,” Alexi said.

“Let me do ze mat, Zergeant,” Chalet began. “I am around 80 kilos, zhat iz about 240 kilograms. Zat would be 530 poundzs. Leeft zat, to move eet out uv jour vay.”

Alexi accepted Chalet's challenge. He began to add forty pound weights on the bar. He put seven on each side, and began to count.

“My math is off, Doctor. I put on 560 pounds, not 530. If I take off a forty pound weight, the balance would be wrong, and you would talk about me only lifting 520 pounds. You were diligent in your math. I should just get this over with, and lift it.”

Chalet looked at Alexi, and granted him access. “Poursuivre (go ahead).”

Alexi walked up to the mat with the weights on it. He bent down, and grabbed the bar. He began to breathe heavily to psyche himself up. He began to pick up the weights, The bar violently resisted. It bowed to stay with its best friend, gravity. Alexi was having none of that. With a guttural yell from Alexi, the bar and weights defected from gravity's clutching anchor, and emancipated itself from the death grip. Alexi raised it to his chest. He blew out once more, and hoisted it over his head.

It stayed suspended over his head for five seconds. That was when Alexi dropped the bar like a sack of potatoes. It landed, compellingly, on the mat. The calamitous sound was cacophonous, and gave Chalet temporary tinnitus with the emphatic crash.

Alexi looked at the weights as if he owned their destiny. He turned, and looked at Deveauxn.

“Your turn,” Alexi said.

“Zat vas a very eemprezive veat, Zergeant,” Chalet said. “Like I zaid before, I only vork-ut vizin my meanz. I just vanted to zee if jou could back jour bluster,” Chalet said.

“You mean, I almost blew out my back, because you were curious?!” Alexi asked, surprised.

“I vouldn't lift vour uv me on a dare, Zergeant,” Chalet said.

Alexi contemplated what just happened. Deveauxn wanted to kick his tires, to see if he was worthy enough to protect his protégée. “Touché, Doctor.”

Chalet smiled, and they began working out, strangely liking each other.


It was three in the morning when they completed their exercise. It was time Alexi rested.

“I will see you... today, Doctor,” Alexi said.

I vas vondering ven jou zlept, Zergeant,” Chalet said.

I am Spetsnaz, Doctor. Sleep is an allowance, not a necessity,” Alexi said.

“Zleep vill be necezzary ven jou proteekt Jayde,” Chalet said. “I do not vant jou doezink vile a pirate 'as a gun to 'er 'ead.”

“That will not happen, Doctor. My duty is more important than my dozing,” Alexi said.

“Just reemember, Zergeant, Be vit, und zmart.” Chalet dropped his pearl of wisdom.

“I understand, Doctor. Strong, dumb men leave pretty corpses,” Alexi said.

“Bravo, Zergeant,” Chalet agreed.

Alexi wrapped a towel around his neck, and chugged a power drink. He felt replenished, as the doctor kept lifting.

“I know I do not sleep, Doctor, but you have not powered down since we arrived,” Alexi claimed.

“Zeaveed, and bee polleen are my vuel, Zergeant. Eet 'as to be run off, or ozervize, I vould be too vired to vunczon,” Chalet told Alexi.

“We need Energizer Bunnieslike you, Doctor,” Alexi said, as he began to leave. “Do svidaniya.”

“Au revoir, Zergeant,” Chalet said in farewell.

Alexi left Chalet working out. He walked to his room. He heard faint thunder in the night. He thought nothing of it. The weather in Russia was just another challenge. The extremity didn't matter. He was in Belize. The land of the hurricane. He knew of extreme cold. Extreme wind and rain was a new one to him. Hopefully, he would adjust, when the storm came a'knockin'.

He listened at Jayde's door. She must have been asleep. She had to have been done with her set-up, also.

He walked into his room, and started a shower. This one was warm. He used the water to prep for sleep. Granted, it would be just for two hours, however, he would switch to cold water around five.

He got out of the shower. He donned his sleepwear, lay in bed, and literally, cut off.

That was another Spetsnaz skill, deactivation. He had to replenish quickly, to be at Jayde's door at 0630 hours.

He didn't dream. That was a distraction to him. He just recharged for when he was needed. He slept.

Charter Six. Getting To Know You

Jayde dreamed—beautifully, by the way. She never contravened her mind its mental adventure. She was anywhere, any when. Her imagination was unbounded. She could be the first woman president. She could be a famous astronaut. She could be the first woman president astronaut that saves the world. Imagination was a bawdy, intractable cuss.

A knock woke her. She had to repudiate her world-saving for a later date—oh, that was coming. She opened her eyes, and looked at the clock. 0500 hours!? She was ready to slay whoever woke her from her world-saving!

She walked to the door, and yelled out, “Who's breaking my sleep pattern so early this morning!?”

She heard a muffled, Slavic voice through the door. “It is Sergeant Doshmononov, Lieutenant!”

She was angry, but surprised. She opened her door during Alexi's second sentence.

“I decided to come by early to get dirty with the mollusks.” Alexi was cut off by an upset Jayde. She was wearing her shorts. She had to shed her sweats, being in Belize at 86 degrees. She didn't think sleeping in a pool of sweat would suffice.

“It is 0500 hours! You're a tad early, Alexi!” She became boisterous.

“I would figure that you would be excited to get to work, Lieutenant,” Alexi explained.

“Didn't you work out last night!?” she asked, rhetorically. “Never mind, come back in a half an hour. I need to take a shower, and put on my face. I need some privacy, instead of a gung-ho Spetsnaz waking me this damned early!” she yelled, and closed the door harshly on Alexi.

He did the ‘oh, well’ face, and began to walk to his room.

“And call me Jayde! I thought we went over that last night!” he heard through the door.


Alexi was apprehensive about knocking on Jayde's door, after his head was bitten off forty five minutes earlier. He was usually punctual; however, he wanted Jayde's embers to fade from their redness before he bothered her again.

This was his moment of truth. He knocked on the door. He heard some bustling, crashing, and cursing. He had to be prepared for herbrimstone.

She opened her door. Alexi expected for her to damage his feelings.

“Come in, Alexi,” Jayde offered, pleasantly! “I knocked over my erase board on the way to the door. You have to forgive me.”

“A-all is... forgiven, Jayde,” Alexi said.

Wasn't he just having his head bitten off by the pleasant, acquiescent Jayde? Where did the beast go?

“Come in, Alexi. I'll be with you in a second. I have to pick up, and adjust my board. Those peptides aren't going to conjugate themselves,” the transformed Jayde said.

“I am confused,” Alexi began. “Earlier, this morning, you wanted to crucify me. Now, it seems as though you have stayed my execution, and have become cordial, why?” he asked.

“I'm sorry Alexi, I'm a Gorgon Medusa at 0500. Put some coffee in my system, and I calm down,” she said. “I have some percolating. Do you want a cup?”

Alexi could usually control his psychotic troops. Dealing with a psychotic woman was... antithetic.

“Black would be excellent.” Alexi decided to let his female confusion go.

Jayde grabbed a clean beaker—she didn't expect company. He could probably drink his coffee from a muddy combat boot.

“I hope my waitress skills are fine. That beaker isn't laced with renegade microbes.” Jayde gave him the beaker full of hot, black coffee.

“Everything is... surprisingly amicable. Why have you changed?” he asked.

“Haven't you ever had a girlfriend before?” Jayde asked. “I'm a woman. A finely tuned woman can go from zero to bitch in 3.2 seconds.”

“Being Special Forces has been my girlfriend for years. She is tough, but I understand her,” Alexi said.

“That's another thing I have to train you on, relationships. Then you'd be a well-rounded commando,” she said. “Just remember my first lesson. Even when a woman is wrong, she's always right.”

Alexi knew females were complex, irrational, discombobulating bemusing queens. He decided not to joust with Tiamat, the Mesopotamian chaos monster with a broken twig.

“I have decided to follow my mantra. Do not try to conquer the impossible,” Alexi said. “In Russian, it is ‘ne pytaytes' zavoyevat' nevozmozhno.’”

“Well, my mantra is ‘even if it's impossible, go for it, anyway’,” Jayde responded. “I guess our mantras are slightly different.”

“You are a dreamer. I am a realist,” Alexi said.

“Haven't you ever dreamed before?” she asked.

“A dream is a voluntary vision of indulgence, reality is existing facts that can affect you. When I am shot, that is a reality I cannot just dream away,” Alexi explained his reasoning.

“Everything about you is centered around combat,” Jayde deduced.

“If you cannot love what you do, your love will betray you,” Alexi said.

“I guess you have relationships down pat. Just substitute your job for a woman,” Jayde said.

“My job does not have anything hidden. It lays everything, good and bad, on the table. A woman can hide things from you, for years. They are not as open as my job. I think I will stick with my job,” Alexi said.

Jayde wanted to win her individual debate. She was like Alexi in that way. If someone challenged her opinion, she wanted to hit her opinion home.

“I'm 5'-11”, in metrics that's around 180 centimeters. I'm about 61 Kilograms. I like rhythm and blues, classical, alternative, trip and hip hop music. I visit museums. I'm a football fan. I can sit in front of a great love story, and cry like a baby,” she began to rattle off who she was.

“What are you doing, Jayde?” Alexi interrupted.

“I'm trying to show you, not all women hide things from you. I'm laying myself out on the table.” Then she thought about what she said. “I'm laying my personality out on the table, not myself, pervert.”

Alexi began to smile. “I understood what you were talking about. I am not a pervert. A Russian cannot think as fast, or as dirty as an American.”

This was when Jayde felt strange. Most of the guys she knew would break their necks to make a joke at her actions. Alexi didn't even have that intention brewing.

“Well, anyway, Paladin, ask me anything. Well, notanything. I still have a top secret clearance, and I don't want any errant, classified pillow talk. Just keep the subject on my personality,” she said.

“I do not want to know anything about you personally. I am your bodyguard. We are not dating. Why are you doing this?” he asked.

“I just hate to see honest, strapping, young men being alone because of their beliefs. Call it my moral duty.”she said.

Alexi looked at her peculiarly. “It is what you people call official. Women are strange.”

“Look, even you said women don't tell you everything. I'm your stool pigeon. I'll let you know the dirt. Just consider me your femalemole.

“How did we get on this subject in the first place? I just complimented you on your civility, and now, we are talking about my relationships. You should have gone into interrogation in the Air Force,” Alexi said.

“That's a power all women have over men, driving the conversation to where they want it to go,” she said. “That's another advantage women don't speak of. You see why I'm a good operative?”

Alexi's coffee was cooling. He looked at the beaker, and decided to down it, quickly. He guzzled the entire beaker, sat it back on the table, and began to ask his questions.

“All right, Secret Agent, why do women get upset at soap operas?” he asked.

“Hold on.” Jayde held the awe this time. “You had an entire beaker of hot coffee, and you chugged it, as if it were a sip?”

“That coffee was warm, not hot. I chugged it like I would chug a liter of beer, and that beaker was not a liter. Now, stop avoiding my question.”

“That was just amazing to me. I'm sorry, the reason women cry at soap operas is because we have this innate ability to be able to escape reality for hours at a time.”

“So, they believe that junk?” Alexi asked.

“You aren't asking the correct question. The query should be ‘do they allow themselves to believe that junk’. The answer is yes,” Jayde informed him.

“When I get sprayed with mace in the eyes, I cry. That mace is real. It confuses me that women can cry over imaginary people,” he said.

Jayde looked at her watch.

“We have to pick up this discussion later, it's 0645 hours. I always get to my job early. Don't worry, I'll dish the dirt later.” She began to walk towards the door.

“Do you need anything, Jayde?” Alexi reminded her.

“That board is too bulky to carry.” Then Jayde tapped her temple with her finger. “I already know whatever we need to know about peptides up here.”

Alexi saw she had everything she needed to tackle the problem. A soldier never wanted to think, if I only would've brought that, we'd be victorious.

They walked out into the hallway.

“All I can say is that I am new in town. Where is the laboratory?” Alexi asked Jayde.

“Give me your I.D.” she said.

Alexi had an impertinent look on his face as he reached in his back pocket to get his wallet and pull out his identification. He gave it to her.

“Now, I know you're Spetsnaz, and the top of the combat food chain, but are you sure you have top secret clearance?” she asked, seriously.

“I guard nuclear missile silos. They do not just pat you on the shoulder, and say you are cleared.” Alexi felt kind of offended.

“The only reason I'm asking you these obvious questions, is we're about to enter a top secret facility.”

“Do you mean it is not here?” Alexi was in a conundrum.

Jayde began to walk down the hall. “Follow me, Soldier Boy.”

Alexi was curious, but eager to get to the facility.

They walked down the hall, and took a right. They saw a sign that said MESS HALL on the wall. They walked to the mess hall, past all the soldiers, to the kitchen. They turned down a corridor where the latrines were. Between the latrines was an unassuming supply closet.

“Here we are,” Jayde announced.

“We are where?” Alexi was in a quandary. “If I wanted to use the latrine, I had facilities in my room.”

“You've never been in a covert, cloak and dagger type of area, have you?” Jayde asked.

She walked to the supply closet, and unlocked the door. When she opened it, Alexi didn't see the typical mop bucket, mops, and cleaning supplies. It wasn't even a room!

It was a metallic, brushed aluminum panel that the door hid! She placed hers and Alexi's identification cards in an ATM-like slot. Parts of the smooth panel sank deeper to reveal a rectangle about eye level to Jayde. It was a panel that flipped downward to reveal goggles! They readjusted, so Jayde could place her face in the goggles.

“Two patrons requesting access to Chambre d'Expérience,” Jayde spoke out loud.

After a few seconds, the panel responded. “Access Granted.”

The panel clicked, hummed, and slid to the side.

“Chambre d'Expérience is laboratory in French,” she informed Alexi.

“Knowing Doctor Chalet is the lead, I suspected that,” he said.

They walked into a square cubicle. The panel slid shut, and they began to drop. Alexi felt as if he left his stomach on the ground floor. It was the same feeling he had when he was about to reach terminal velocity when he jumped.

“How fast are we dropping?” he asked her.

“Around 120 miles an hour. I'm sorry, 193 kilometers an hour. I keep forgetting. Your country has evolved,” she told him.

That was that same feeling! Terminal velocity was 200 kilometers an hour. He felt his stomach drop at around 193.

It didn't take too long to get to their destination. Alexi heard the pistons activate, and felt like he was being crushed. Then he felt nothing, and the door slid open. They walked out of the cubicle, and into the laboratory.

Jayde opened her arms, and looked up, around, and twirled slowly. “Welcome to Shangri-La.

“Did you shut the closet door to Shangri-La?” he asked.

“The supply closet door shuts automatically when we transported down here. You really haven't been in a covert area before, have you?” she asked.

Alexi ignored her, because of how vast the laboratory was.

“Udivitel'nyy,” he said to himself, and then saw Jayde's confused look. “I am sorry. That means amazing.”

“Yes, I said ‘udivitel'nvyy’the first I saw it, too,” she said.

She saw Doctor Chalet looking into a microscope. He looked up, and over to the two. He stood up, and walked towards them.

“Zergeant Doshmononov und Jayde. Eet iz belle to zee jou!” Chalet greeted them.

“Hi Doc. Who kicked my reef?” Jayde asked.

“It zeemz az doe evoluzion keeked jour reev,” Chalet said. He walked to an observation window, and the two followed.

Chalet began to tap some buttons on a panel. A spotlight peered in the murky darkness of the ocean floor.

“Ve 'ave traveled razer var vrom ze baze. Ve are at ozean zhelv leevel,” Chalet explained, mainly to Alexi.

Chalet began to direct the spotlight at the base of the reef.

“Do jou zee zhe probleem?” Chalet asked.

Jayde saw her reef. It had been picked clean! It was like ravenous hyenas had their way with it! No plant life, no fish, not even a deep sea angler, which was indigenous to the ocean floor!

“It looks like Mom cleaned my reef!” Jayde expressed.

“Not jour muzer. Eevoluzion cleaned jour reev,” Chalet said.

“This is more than a hiccup, Doc. We have a missing food chain link!” Jayde said.

“I deed not vant to alarm jou. Jou got 'ere een time, before ze 'erricane,” Chalet tried to calm her alarm. He just added to it.

“We have to get some samples from the vegetation that isn't gone. We have to corral some fish also. We also have to put the natives in the shelter, before the storm hits! We have no time to waste! Why didn't you say anything yesterday!?” Jayde was getting frazzled.

“Eev I told jou vhen jou arrived from vorld vide travel, jou vould be more irrazional, and jou'd make razh designazons,” Chalet tried to make her listen to reason.

Jayde thought about it. She didn't want to land in Hades, especially in her summer home.

“You just cut my discovery and rescue time in half, Doc!” Jayde expressed.

“Ve 'ave a zubmerzible prepared vor jou to launch, cutting jour prep time,” Chalet said.

“A submersible is exactly what I need,” Jayde said, and looked to Alexi. “Do you have SCUBA training in your vast repertoire of skills?”

“I have never had any underwater missions before. It is, normally, too cold to swim in Russia,” Alexi said.

“No problem, we'll be in the submersible for the duration. Let's get moving.” She was sounding impatient. “Doc, I'm going to be on channel 2, frequency 717. I'll contact you when we're in the drink.”

Jayde jogged to the elevator, and Alexi followed. He knew she was an energetic woman, however, it was time for her to stretch her legs.

“I vill direkt jou in ze dark, by backing jou up vit ze spotlight, guud luck Jayde,” Chalet said.

“I gotta rely on my skill, Doc,” Jayde said, as she accessed the elevator.

They both jumped into the cubicle, and sped topside. She hoped they were ready, because it was showtime.

Chapter Seven. Rain Is a Different Kind of Snow

“I feel lighter,” Alexi said, as they moved from the supply closet.

“That's called atmospheric pressure.” Jayde said. “At least you weren't in the ocean. You wouldn't feel strange, you'd feel crushed.”

Alexi knew he could brave many obstacles, but this one was menacingly new.

They hurried through the mess hall, and deeper outside, towards the outer edge of the barracks. Jayde pulled out her I.D. She showed it to a military cadre.

“We need the submersible!” she told the cadre.

“The Iron Seahorse is ready and waiting for you, Lieutenant Farrow. Doctor Chalet radioed and said you were coming,” the cadre said.

“Thank you, Senior Airman.” Jayde turned to Alexi. “Let’s go, Doshmononov.”

Alexi followed her to a deck in a hangar.

“You have to get dressed in a wetsuit. What size are you? Oh, never mind.” She motioned to an Airman. “Give him a men's, extra-large.”

“Yes Lieutenant,” the airman answered. “This way, Mister.”

Alexi followed the airman to a changing booth. The airman reached into a cabinet, and pulled out an extra-large wetsuit. He gave it to Alexi.

“Change in there, Mister,” the airman said.

Alexi took the wetsuit, and went into the changing booth. He closed the door, and began to disrobe.

He felt strange, and called out, “I have never changed into a wetsuit before!”

“You have to strip to your birthday suit in order to don that wetsuit, Mister!” the airman called back.

This, definitely, was a new experience for Alexi. He stripped naked before he put on the wetsuit. At least the suit had protective padding for his package. He walked out of the changing booth, and Jayde was waiting for him.

“I feel like I am wearing a condom,” Alexi complained about putting on the wetsuit.

“At least when I stripped, and put on my wetsuit, it didn't show my panty lines,” Jayde said, to try to lighten the urgency. “Are you ready?”

“I have read about Malaya class submarines, but I have never deployed in one. Do you not need training for this?”

“Have you ever been a passenger in a car before?” she asked.

“Of course I have,” Alexi said.

“Unless you go outside of the submersible, it's exactly like that. Just don't roll down your window,” Jayde said, as she opened the hatch.

“I take it you would drown if you went outside of the submersible,” Alexi assumed.

“With the pressure we'd deal with down there, you'd be crushed too quickly to die from drowning,” Jayde said. “Don't worry. If that ever happens, you'll never have time to think about it.”

Alexi hesitated. He was the proverbial fish out of water, venturing into water. Then he thought of his duty, and Jayde's expertise.

Screw it, he said to himself, and dropped into the hatch.

“I thought the big bad Russian bodyguard was about to chicken out on me,” Jayde told Alexi, as she strapped herself in.

Alexi mimicked her, and fastened his five point harness. “Spetsnaz have no fear.”

“Yes, but Spetsnaz know when to avoid impossible situations,” she said.

Alexi thought about what she said. “No, not really.”

That was when Jayde knew whatever they found, it was going to turn out to be a wild ride.

“Lieutenant Farrow, are you ready to launch?” the intercom blared at Jayde.

“Affirmative Control. Ready to launch. Your communication is five by five,” Jayde recited into the com.

“At your discretion, Lieutenant,” Control said.

“All right Alexi, you ready for the log ride?” Jayde asked.

“If you mean, am I ready for execution, yes,” he said.

“Ready to deploy, Control.” She reached up to a switch. “Don't freak, the first drop's a bitch.”

She clicked the switch. Alexi surprisingly felt his stomach drop once more. They fell from a harness, into the ocean. The water resisted them for a second. It caused Alexi to regulate, immediately. That jostle was more violent than the stomach drop.

It began with the aqua blue of the ocean. They began to descend. The sunlight was robbed by the insidiousness of murky darkness. There was a ping that adamantly kept sounding, like a monotone metronome.

It began to get darker in the cabin. The lights from the computer panel had their chance to shine. It was only for a second, before Jayde robbed them of their glory by turning on a dim interior light.

Alexi was in an eerie area. He was in a claustrophobic tin can that constantly beeped, and pinged.

“We're at optimal depth, Control. Turning on the flood lights,” Jayde announced into the com.

“Acknowledged Seahorse, engage,” Control announced.

Jayde turned on the flood lights. Many ocean creatures were accompanying them on their journey to the depths. When the floods instantly bathed the immediate area in consummate, halogen light, they felt savagely exposed and quickly scurried away. All, except the killer whale that swam beside them.

“The rest of them scattered like roaches, when you cut on the lights. I guess Orca's keeping us company,” Jayde said.

Alexi felt nervous with their companion. “I do not like fish that are the size of a bus.”

“That's not a fish, silly. That's a killer whale. That swimming behemoth is a mammal. It doesn't want to eat you, unless you can morph into an otter or a sea turtle.”

“My Mat' told me a long time ago, ‘If it has teeth, an appetite, and is larger than you, it can eat you.’” Alexi laid out the wisdom from his mother.

“That's amazing. Spetsnaz commandos do know fear,” she said.

“Fear is the respect for something that will harm or kill you,” Alexi said. “It is sanctioned to fear that thing!”

Jayde had a smile behind her eyes. “Aww, don't worry Alexi, I won't let the big 'ole bad killer whale get you!”

“That is not funny, Jayde. My surroundings are new, and I do not know of these things. I would think you would be compassionate of my situation,” Alexi said.

“I am compassionate. If there was danger, witch there isn't any, I'd tell you immediately!” Jayde defended herself.

“Yes, but you are making jokes at my expense!” Alexi said.

“I'm sorry, I thought Spetsnaz had tougher skin,” she said, sarcastically.

Alexi was getting upset. He never wanted to let a woman put him in that position. He believed changing the subject would benefit him.

“Are we almost there?” he asked.

Jayde knew he had given up. She mentally celebrated her victory.

“The shelf is near. Prepare yourself, there's going to be much ocean debris strewn about,” she warned him.

They were about five minutes from the shelf. She checked the gauges, and their pressure. Everything was working the way it should.

“We're almost there, and everything's kosher, considering this can was constructed by the lowest bidder,” she said.

“I thought these were government vehicles,” Alexi said.

“The government aren't nautical engineers. They have to contract these things,” Jayde explained. “The funny thing is, the government doesn't like to pay for what we need. They pay for all their parties, and hookers. Then, they buy $kilo00 hammers to balance the books. We just use, and fix what they give us,” she explained.

“...And America is the lone superpower,” Alexi scoffed.

“Remember, that's for your ears only. If that information gets out, they'd call me a conspiracy theorist,” she said.

“I am Spetsnaz. What is said between us, stays between us,” Alexi told her.

“You sound like Las Vegas,” she said.

“How do I sound like one of your demographic regions?” he asked.

“Never mind, Alexi, it's an inside joke,” she said.

They were very close to the shelf. The sonar was pinging back, faster. That indicated they were about to touch down on the ocean shelf.

Jayde grabbed the intercom. “We're about to hit the ocean shelf, Doc, illuminate us.”

“I zee jour lights, Jayde. Eet iz going to be bright,” Chalet responded.

Chalet shined the spotlight. Jayde was too busy setting down to see the desolation of the ocean floor.

“Bozhe moy!” Alexi expressed, and pointed outside.

It wasn't like walking on a darkened soccer field with a flashlight. It was like someone turned the power on.

Jayde looked at Alexi's stunned face, and followed his pointing finger to the outside of the submersible.

The ocean floor looked like it belonged to a kid who just got an aquarium, and just put the sand into it, before he started decorating! There was... nothing! No plants, no fish, not even a wayward octopus, nothing!

“Oh my God,” Jayde was amazed.

“That is what I said!” Alexi agreed with her. “I was prepared for debris. I was not prepared for, just sand!”

“Believe me, Alexi, I wasn't prepared for... absence ofeverything!” Jayde was still shocked.

Eet luukz like ze garbage men ov ze ozean cleaned jour reev,” Chalet transmitted from the intercom. He didn't know how right he was.

“Track me higher, Doc,” Jayde said. “I have to acquire some samples, to find out what happened here.”

Jayde began to ascend, slowly. “I wonder if it's this devastated deeper down.”

“I thought we were on the ocean floor,” Alexi said.

“We were on the continental shelf. The actual ocean floor is several fathoms deeper. We don't have the technology to get that deep,” Jayde explained.

“We are in this submersible. Why can we not go deeper?” Alexi asked.

“The reason we can't go much deeper, is because the pressure would crush this submersible like a soda can under your boot,” Jayde said.

They ascended far enough to see plants. Jayde grabbed the intercom.

“Stop right here, Doc,” Jayde said.

“I cannot go too much farzer. I cannot even zee jou,” Chalet said.

“Just hold it there, Doc.” Jayde was implementing the mechanical arms of the submersible.

She clipped some of the plants, and netted some of the fish. She placed her specimens in a container on the outside of the submersible.

“Okay, Doc. Retract the spotlight. I have my samples,” she said.

The spotlight returned to its original area. It turned to seat itself in its position. Jayde and Alexi tracked the light, to see if it would seat properly. The light shined at something that looked like a strange looking humanoid, on the continental shelf, only for a split second.

“Did you see that, Jayde!?” Alexi asked.

“I haven't the slightest idea what it was,” Jayde said. “Let's go down there, to find out what it is.”

Just then, an alarm chimed. Jayde looked at the panel.

“Damn,” she said, and began to ascend. “That was the oxygen alarm. Whatever that was, we won't find out today.”

They began to ascend topside. The killer whale was replaced by a tiger shark.

“Now, that's a fish that will eat you,” she said.

Alexi looked apprehensive. “That fish does not know how to pop a hatch, does it?”

“We're the top species on this planet. We're the only deductive ones that have opposable thumbs,” she said. “We'd be crushed way before you felt its teeth, anyway.”

“Just get to the surface,” he said.

They were seeing glints of light from the sun in fifteen minutes. They were almost ready to stop breathing recycled air.

“What do you think that thing was, moving on the shelf in the ocean?” Alexi asked.

“Well, it was humanoid, and it seemed like it was moving freely. My official answer, Alexi, is... I have no idea,” she said.

“There is only one thing that looks human, and can move, freely on the bottom of the ocean. It had to be a mermaid,” Alexi said.

“I didn't know Spetsnaz were trained in cryptozoology,” Jayde said, sarcastically. “Maybe she's hanging out with the Abominable Snowman, and Bigfoot.”

“Then what was it?” Alexi asked.

Jayde was at a loss. “I don't know what it was, but it wasn't a mermaid! They don't exist!”

“Prove they do not exist,” he said.

“Prove they do!” she challenged him.

Alexi pointed out the window, to the ocean floor. “What did we just see?”

Jayde got upset. “I'm an aqua-horticulturist! I've mapped every ocean inhabitant in this pond, and I'm confident in saying, that wasn't a mermaid, Sergeant!”

Alexi realized she was getting angry. He decided to back off. “All right, Lieutenant, we have no idea what that was.”

They surfaced, by splitting the waves in the hangar. A crane attached itself to the submersible, and hoisted it to the launch pier. Mechanical arms protruded from the dock, and secured the Iron Seahorse. They popped the hatch, and both climbed out.

Jayde grabbed her samples from the outer compartment. She put them in research bags, so she could carry them to the lab.

She went to the control room to radio Doctor Chalet. “Doc, this is Jayde, over.”

She waited a few seconds, then she heard Deveauxn. “Dis iz Chalet. Over.”

“I'm about to bring down my findings. Get a team ready, over,” she spoke into the intercom.

“Zee team iz ready and vaiting Jayde, over,” Chalet transmitted.

“Over and out, Doc,” Jayde concluded.

She exited the control room, and walked up to Alexi. “Get changed, we're going back down to the laboratory.”

“Give me a minute. I have never peeled off a wetsuit, before,” he said.

“It's easy. Haven't you ever taken off a condom like you said you felt like you were in before? Just think of your wetsuit as being naughty, and you'll peel it right off,” she said, while walking towards the changing station.

Alexi gave her a strange look. Then he walked to his changing station.

It only took a few minutes for them both to get changed into their BDUs (battle dress uniform). Again, Jayde waited for Alexi.

Alexi came out of the changing area, walked up, and pointed to Jayde. “You have been doing this change much longer than I have. That is why you have beaten me.”

Then Jayde looked at Alexi strangely. “I had no idea we were racing, Alexi.”

Alexi realized his juvenile, mental competition was futile, and decided to lock away his desire to be first all the time.

He changed the subject. “Do you have all of your samples?”

She wanted to get back on task, also. Their pointless volley was wasting time. “They're right here. Let's hit the lab.”

They headed out quickly to the supply room door, and entered into the cubicle.

They began to descend, and that was when Jayde spoke. “We have to drop these samples off, quickly. The hurricane's coming with urgency, and we have to get those Belize natives in the shelter.”

“Why do they not just enter the shelter themselves?” He was curious.

“They think they're as tough as a Spetsnaz. They think ‘riding it out’ is logical,” she explained. “You've never been in a category 3, let alone a hurricane before.”

“What is a category 3?” Alexi asked.

“That's a hurricane with winds up to 210 kilometers an hour,” she said. “All large trees and street signs are blown down. There's roof damage, and huts are destroyed. It's not a fun time,” she explained.

“And that is what is coming!?” Alexi asked, desperately.

“If it doesn't pick up to a category 4 or 5 in the ocean,” she said.

“I am afraid to ask, how fast are the winds in a category 5?” he asked.

“The fastest wind speed ever recorded on the Saffrin-Simpson intensity scale has been 315 kilometers an hour,” she told him.

“What happens at that speed?” he asked.

“We just call a category 5 ‘Armageddon’. See your ass? Just hope you can bend over, and kiss it Do svidaniya.”

Alexi knew the gravitas of the situation. “We have to get those people in the shelter!”

Jayde looked at him with an obvious look. “You think, Sherlock?”

“Who is this Sherlock person?” he asked.

“Never mind, Alexi. Let's just say,I agree,” she said.

They made it to the laboratory. Jayde looked at Alexi. “Wait here.”

Jayde stepped out of the elevator, and met Doctor Chalet. She gave him the bags.

“Some of these plants look like a half-eaten burger, and these fish are wounded, Doc. Check the residue around the bite marks. I want to know what is the garbage disposal in my ocean,” she said.

“Eet veel take zeveral days, Jayde. My team iz eevicient, not vast,” Chalet said.

“Don't worry about speed, Doc. We have to go topside and weather the storm. It'll take us several days to clean up. Take your time. I would rather you be right than fast,” she said. “See you in three days, Doc. ‘Several’ does mean ‘three’ to you, right?”

“Go rescue jour catz from zheir treez. I veel zee jou in zhree dayz,” Chalet said.

Jayde jogged, quickly back to the elevator. She pressed the return button, and the door sealed shut. They returned, quickly, topside.

They left out the supply room door, and went outside of the barracks. The sky had a darkened, reddish look to it. The wind was picking up. They heard thunder in the distance. It was go time.

“Look Alexi, I know your job is to wear my uniform with me, but we can corral these natives quicker, if we split up,” she said.

Alexi looked into the ocean, and felt how coarse the wind was getting. “If those pirates sail right now, they would drown. I believe you would be safe enough for us to split up.”

She looked at Alexi and smiled. “Okay Alexi, you grab them from down the coast, and I'll take the village. We'll meet near the airstrip, over there.”

“I know we are not in a race, but this wind is firing the starter’s pistol. I will meet you, with the natives, with speed,” he said.

“The wind has already fired. Beat you to the shelter!” She broke towards the village.

She is on my playground, now, Alexi thought, as he sprinted down the coast.

They both became the proverbial shepherd. They quickly rounded up all the men, women, and children. There were a few errant people roaming aimlessly, and some that didn't want to move. They showed their military authority, and they gathered them all.

They ended up at a building in the front of the airstrip. All the natives entered the doorway of the shelter. Jayde and Alexi felt a sense of accomplishment. It was the first task they had completed since they set foot in Belize.

“We have to get all the soldiers in the shelter, also,” Jayde said.

“What about the scientist in the laboratory?” Alexi asked.

“As deep as they are, they're safer than us,” she said. “Let's get the rest.”

This took longer to execute than the natives. The lower ranks were no problem, but telling the upper brass they had to drop everything, and follow a lieutenant and a Russian proved a slight difficulty.

As the wind began to show who was in control, Jayde sealed the shelter doors. Everyone was secure.

“Well, in the military, we have a saying. Travel the world, and gain new experiences. Welcome to the hurricane experience, Alexi,” she said.

“Is it still a category 3?” Alexi asked.

“I'll check the Armed Forces Network to find out the status,” she said.

They walked down the stairs, to a radio. Many soldiers were already listening in.

“This hurricane officially has been named Tristan,” the radio reported. “It turned into a category 4 in the Atlantic, but then it slowed down to a category 3 when it ravaged Brazil. It is in Honduras as we speak, and will hit Belize in half an hour. Everyone should batten down. The winds are at 123 miles an hour. It's embedding twigs in tree trunks. Do not, I repeat, do not go outside. Find a shelter.

“Well, we're right where we need to be,” Jayde told Alexi.

It took around twenty minutes before they began to hear the wind whip, and the heavy doors start to shudder. Tristan was coming with a vengeance.

“This category 3 sounds like the beginnings of Armageddon,” Alexi said.

“Everything you've ever read about hurricanes will not prepare you for what you are about to witness,” Jayde said. “These are just the preliminaries.”

“They built this shelter to withstand a category 5?” he asked.

“Those storms are rare, but why would you build a shelter, if it couldn't withstand a category 5?” she answered him with a question.

“So, no matter what sort of Hell is happening outside, stay put,” Alexi deduced.

“What did I say about being where we're supposed to be?” she kept answering him with a question. He thought her western snark emanated in stressful situations. If you asked her, she wouldn't know what you were talking about. Western snark was too natural for her.

A lightening flash lit the entire shelter in overexposed white, for a split second. A shocking, uproarious, booming thunderclap followed immediately thereafter.

“That thunder following that lightening so quickly means it's right on top of us!” Jayde announced to everybody. “And some of you natives thought you were going to ride out the charge of the four horsemen? Aren't you glad we strongly suggested you to come down here?”

Their silence answered Jayde with a resounding YES!

The storm battered them for a while. In the middle of the onslaught, Alexi wanted to see the damage a category 3 could do.

“You know clean-up after this storm passes will feel like it's going to be insurmountable,” she told Alexi. “You're being bit by the curiousbug, and you want to see the devastation in progress. If you're that curious, go upstairs, nobody that knows what a hurricane can do will be there, and look out one of the security doors. Do not go outside! Well, once you've witnessed the devastation, you won't want to go outside, anyway.”

Alexi almost felt as if she were daring him. He wasn't going to back down, plus he wanted to see what was happening. He decided to walk upstairs.

She was right—no one obstructed his upward journey. They were, actually, looking at him, as if to say, he can't be from around here. Alexi ignored those bizarre stares, and continued to ascend the stairs.

When he was in front of the security doors, the howling wind and the pelting rain showed how torrential Tristan was.

When he looked outside, a picnic table introduced him to the dynamism of Tristan, by brutally slamming itself into the doors. The doors held, but the crashing impact was startlingly raucous.

He looked outside as panels from the roofs of huts tore themselves away, and swirled in the renegade gusts. The watercraft on the pier were getting themselves relentlessly rocked, like toy dinghies in a raucous toddler's bathtub. That was when he saw a piece of a billboard fly by. Its course was unknown.

The ‘hurricane experience’was new to Alexi. He walked back down to where Jayde was. His perspective on human achievement and destruction had completely changed.

“So, how did it look, Commando?” she asked.

“A... billboard, you know, the thing that advertises on the highway? A piece flew by, like a scrap of paper,” Alexi said, with astonishment.

“That should tell you a category 3 doesn't play around. Every once in a while, God lets us know who's in charge,” she told him.

“That also tells me, the Earth can shake us off, like fleas from a dog,” he agreed with her.

The deluge commenced for a few hours. The only thing unaffected by Tristan was the AFN broadcast. It stayed very informational. Once the wind died down, they announced its passing, and began to play classic rock. As Mick Jagger complained about acquiring satisfaction, Jayde was getting ready to police the devastation.

“It's still raining. I'll grab some ponchos, and we'll get moving chop-chop,” she told Alexi.

“Did you even realize that last statement you just said was racist against the Asian community?” Alexi asked.

“I never said anything racist!” she was offended.

“What is the definition of chop-chop?” he asked.

“That means quickly, or with haste!” she explained.

“Did you get that definition out of the dictionary, or did you hear it somewhere?” he asked.

“I never looked up the definition for dog, but I know what that means!” She was getting heated.

“I am sure you do, but there is one difference, the word ‘dog’ is not racist,” Alexi capped off his argument.

Jayde looked at Alexi. “You have to win every argument you start.”

“I am like an attorney. I never ask a question I do not know the answer to.” he said.

“You're a special kind of bodyguard, Alexi,” she said.

“I am Spetsnaz. You did not buy me from your Mom and Pop store,” he said.

She knew he was victorious in the exchange she never realized they were in. The clean-up was more important. All Alexi could've asked her, was not to say that. The funny thing about her was she would have listened.

“As I was saying before, I'll grab some ponchos, and we'll get moving… expediently,” she augmented her statement.

She went to grab the ponchos. Alexi saw all the soldiers organizing. The brass was delegating tasks for the lower ranks to accomplish. Some were tasked to escort the natives back home and to record repairs that had to be done, and others had to begin the cleanup. This military did more than defend their country. They helped people who were in dire straits. If they were delegated to watch over a continent, they didn't shirk their duties.

Jayde walked back with two ponchos. “I guessed you wore an extra large. Don't worry about our size discrepancies. I know you had concerns about that when you put on that wetsuit. This poncho won't fit like a surgical glove.”

She gave him the poncho, and put hers on. Alexi mimicked her actions. It felt like putting on a plastic tablecloth, with a hood in the middle. Once the poncho draped over his BDUs, they were ready.

“You look like a camouflaged, ruffled napkin,” she told Alexi. Then she had a disturbing revelation. “Wow, do I look like that!?”

Alexi smiled. “No, you belong in a military fashion show.”

Jayde knew placation when she saw it. “You're a commendable bodyguard, Alexi. You not only protect me, you're pretty good at protecting my feelings, as well.”

Alexi had that ‘you got me’ look on his face and said, “Let us walk upstairs, and assess the damage.”

Jayde threw up a casual salute. “Affirmative, Sergeant.”

They walked upstairs and outside.


The area looked like a tropical dystopia. With everyone cleaning the debris, the area looked overcrowded. With the coast in disarray, it portrayed squalor. The natives who lived there were in an oppressive, miserable state. Tristan definitely did a number on Belize.

Alexi began to pick up all the misplaced items, like that splintered picnic table, Tristan had flung, and cracked it as if she had a personal vendetta against Alexi, as if she were saying, “You don't belong here, Snow Boy! Go, and shovel a driveway somewhere else!” Tristan was a scornful woman.

Jayde saw all the devastation. She felt for the inhabitants of Belize. The inhabitants were fine. Hurricane Season was that of any other season. Siberia couldn't avoid winter. They had already been through it, since they were born. They literally grew up with annual hurricanes, like a northerner grew up with a fall. They didn't know a year without torrential wind and rain. It was their lot in life. Jayde should not have been worried, the natives weren't.

It took until twilight to police the area. It was at some semblance of order when the daylight waned. They looked at their list of repairs for the next day. It was going to be a bit of work, but basic training was a bit more work, and all the soldiers got through that experience, so repairing the village was just going to be a field trip. At least they thought of it that way.

Jayde felt as if she were clocking out from a factory job that evening. She just needed a good meal, and some chamomile tea for relaxation.

Alexi thought ordering out for pizza was a college thing. He was a closet chef. He decided to treat Jayde to Russian cuisine.

He went to the mess hall, to see what ingredients they had. Since they were on the coast, fish played an integral part of their diet. It seemed as though another food staffer was a chef. He found a bevy of vegetables and spices the soldiers weren't graced with. He had everything he needed to complete a masterpiece. He decided to cook a cocktail herring with fried potato garnish.

He started with ruffling an onion. He placed it on a dish and covered it in vinegar. He put that in the refrigerator for later. Then he put the herring on a cutting board to bone and clean. He fileted the herring and baked the fish. He didn't think she would like it only pickled. Then he sliced the potatoes in quarters and fried them.

After the fish was done, he took out the onion on the dish, and placed the fish, potatoes, and chives on the dish. He made the meal look as if it were made at a gourmet chef's restaurant.

He made the chamomile tea to top off Jayde's dinner. He walked a tray to Jayde's room, and knocked on the door.

It took a few seconds, and then he heard her. “Who is it?”

“I felt that a pizza would be inappropriate for all that work you did!” he yelled through the door.

She was wondering what he was talking about. As she was opening the door, she said, “But I like pizza.”

She saw a spread. It looked good enough to surprise her.

“You cooked this?” she pointed at the herring, and asked him.

“What would your doctor say? Oh yes... Voir La!” he said to her.

“You look like an Adonis, you can beat up anybody that gets fresh with a woman, and you can cook? Why don't you have a girlfriend?” she asked.

“One, I do not, usually ‘beat up’, I kill, and two, being a soldier is my girlfriend, and women do not like to share,” he explained.

“That looks scrumptious. What did you cook?” she asked.

“Cocktail herring with fried potato garnish,” he said.

“So, a hamburger was out of the question?” she asked. “I'm kidding, thank you for making dinner exotic.”

“I have your chamomile tea, also,” he added to the meal. “Did you want sugar and lemon?”

“Squeeze some lemon in there. Tea doesn't need sweetness, it needs flavor,” she instructed.

“I know you wanted chamomile, but Earl Grey accents this delicacy perfectly,” he instructed.

“Come in, Alexi. That delicacy is getting cold in the hallway,” she said.

Alexi gave her the teacup, and ushered in the dinner. They enjoyed their meal. She loved what he did for her. He didn't have to cater to her nourishment. If he called for a pizza, she would've been fine. She also would've been ignorant to the fact Alexi could cook, and the exquisite flavor of cocktail herring. He was becoming much more than a bodyguard.

Alexi unscrewed the top on some bottled water. He didn't ask her where the beer was, nor did he have a snifter with vodka. He didn't smoke anything. It seemed like he didn't have any vices. He was what she called a ‘prime cut’.

What was her problem? She knew he wasn't attached to her, carnally or otherwise. She liked things he did. He was a fit, attractive Adonis. Why did she hesitate?

She hesitated because you needed two to tango. Alexi tolerated her. That was a long way from affection. How would she, or even could she proposition him on anything? Not to even think of how her father would feel about a white guy, not to even fathom his thoughts on a Russian! They would have less than nothing in common!

That was when her female consciousness cavorted with her. Out of nowhere, she thought, Opposites attract.

Where did that come from!? Mind, stop playing with me!

“What are you thinking of?” Alexi asked.

Now, what was she going to tell him? That she wanted to lick pudding off his biceps? That would've been a speculated disaster!

“I'm wondering who kicked my reef,” she lied.

“Well, I am wondering what was moving on the shelf,” Alexi said.

“I do believe that's an argument neither of us will win,” she said. “I'm not even going to say it wasn't a mermaid. We can just label it as unknown.”

“We can agree on that,” he said. “We never met that mermaid.”

She looked at him with peculiarity in her gaze. “You're a stubborn Russian, Alexi.”

“Eat your herring, Jayde.” He eschewed her determination.

She drank her tea. “This chamomile has some beneficial properties,” she said.

“I know it stops muscle twitches, and insomnia,” Alexi reported. Why did you need it? You don't jitter like a Chihuahua in 80 degree weather, and that cleanup should have made you exhausted.”

“It doesn't matter how exhausting the cleanup was, and I don't shake like that restaurant dog. Witnessing my cleaned-out reef is tearing my mind apart. A scientist lives for a succinct answer, or a valid hypothesis. I'm in the unique position of not knowing; a paradox for a scientist. My mind would keep me up, constantly, without a little aid,” she said.

“I better leave, that stuff kicks in about forty five minutes from now,” Alexi said.

“I said I needed a little aid. That chamomile is a good starter,” She said.

Alexi found himself in a weird position. “W-what are you proposing?”

He looks like a frightened mouse. It's time to grab him like a hawk! she thought.

“I need another form of protection. Bodyguard, your job is to guard my body.”

Alexi thought, I wanted to avoid the inevitable ever since I smelled her perfume. Like I said before, do not fight a battle you cannot win.

“What is it that you need?” he asked.

“How about a little company? Only until I fall asleep, though. Then, you can crash in your room.” The switch was flipped.

“Well, I am your bodyguard, that does mean guarding your body,” he said.

The man is stoic! He wasn't repulsed at the suggestion! Either they are thinking the same way, or he's placating. The ball is in her court now. She better roll the dice, and all those other gambling analogies, like playing her cards right.

“All right Alexi, you pull commander of quarters duty, and I'll don my sleepwear,” she instructed.

“You are lucky a Spetsnaz does not sleep,” he said. “You will be safe. I will watch you.”

“I'll go change,” she said.

“I will take the dishes back to the mess hall, and wash them,” he said. “Do not worry, I wash fast.”

They both went about doing their respective tasks. Alexi gathered the dishes and trays, while Jayde grabbed her sleepwear. He left for the mess hall, and she went into the bathroom.

Jayde looked in the mirror as she let her hair down. She went to the shower, and turned on the water. She stripped and stepped under the nozzle. The shower was relaxing. It was something she was able to do, because Alexi was washing dishes.

She got out of the shower, put on her sleepwear, and looked at herself in the mirror.

What are you doing girl? she thought, as she spritzed a hint of Shalini on her wrists and neck. With this crazy gesture, I need all the help I can get.


Alexi took everything to the mess hall. He took off his jacket, turned on the water, and put the dishes in the sink with soap. There was a dishwashing machine next to the sink, but he wanted to think while he cleaned.

Why did you say yes, soldier? he thought. She is going to think I want to get into her pants! That is not professional! Women are evil that way! That perfume made me say yes. My sense of duty made me say yes. Her being a smart, athletic, ebony princess had nothing to do with it! Yes, and if I believe that, I have some ICBMs in my pocket, and those intercontinental ballistic missiles are for sale. Look at me. That woman is making me ramble. I am just going to do my job, guard her body.

Just then, he thought how perverted that sounded. He was an upstanding soldier. He did upstanding soldier things. The notion of kissing her inner thighs was put out of his mind. Temptation was another challenge for him. He always took challenges head on. He was going to conquer this one as well.


He knocked on her door again. He brought her another cup of chamomile tea.

“Come in!” Jayde yelled through the door.

Alexi opened the door. She was wearing her PT shorts and a t-shirt that said, ‘I'm not looking for trouble. I'm looking for you. I'm trouble!’

“I brought you more tea,” he said, and offered her the cup.

“Oh, thank you Alexi. Or should I say Spacibo?” she asked.

“I know ‘thank you’. You do not have to speak Russian, until you become fluent.” He handed her the cup. She was wearing that damned perfume! This challenge punched him in the jaw, bounced back dancing, and said, ‘Come on!’ She wasn't playing fair!

“I brought you the cup of tea to help you sleep,” he said to defuse his thinking of her heavenly scent.

“I'll drink it in bed,” she said, and placed the cup on the nightstand.

She got into bed, and turned on her CD player/clock radio. Mary J. Blige rang out.

“I hope that music doesn't offend you. It helps me sleep,” she apologized.

“That music does not offend me. She sounds like Yulia Nelson!” he expressed.

“Who's Yulia Nelson?” she asked.

“Hold on, I will be right back.” Alexi went next door, to his room. He came back with a disc. “I think you may like her.”

He put the disc in the CD player. “This is a song called “I Run To You.””

He tapped play, and a soulful sound graced her ears. It had a Neo-soul rhythm. She expected Mary J. Blige, or Angie Stone to begin to sing. Instead, she heard angelic Russian emanating from her speakers. When did Russians get that funky?

“I know it is in Russian, and you do not understand a word, but the music is universal,” he said.

“Begook teebay means I run to you?” she asked.

“You are close. She is saying begu K tebe,” he corrected her. “Here, let me write it down.”

He picked up a dry erase marker from her board, and began to write.

“Begu K tebe?” she repeated what he wrote.

“See, Russian is not that hard,” he said.

“Yes, but contractions, for you, must be,” she joked. “I'm kidding, that Slavic accent is kinda sexy.”

“I learned in school years ago. Contractions were not in the lesson plan,” he defended himself. “If you do not mind listening to Yulia, we both can enjoy music.”

“So, you're just going to sit over there, and watch me sleep?” she asked.

“That is my job, body guarding,” he confirmed.

“Now, I don't snore, so, call me gently. If I don't answer, that means I'm three sheets to the wind.” Then she thought about her Western colloquialisms. “I mean asleep, and you can go next door.”

“I will know when you are sleeping. I will leave when you have three windy sheets,” he said.

“You're a card, Alexi,” she said, clicked on Yulia, and pulled up the covers. “Could you get the lights?”

“Do not worry, I can see you in the dark,” he said, as he walked to the entrance, and turned off the light. Having him there was nice. It was so nice, she fell asleep immediately.


The alarm was loud. It woke her from her slumber. It was kind of hard to get up with Alexi's arms draped around her… WHAT!?

She was lying in bed, with Alexi!? What on earth happened last night? She checked her sleepwear. Nothing was in disarray. She checked Alexi, while he was getting up. He wasn't wearing BDUs! He was in his pajamas! When did THAT happen!?

Alexi stretched, as if he was in his own bed! “Dobrey utro Jayde.”

“I'm guessing you said good morning to me,” she said, with startlement. “Two questions. Why are you in my bed, and why are you in your pajamas?”

“I believe that cleanup was taxing. I was beginning to fall asleep while monitoring you. I did not want to disappoint you, or your doctor friend. So I had to get closer to you. Waking you would be stupid, and lying in your bed with BDUs on would be as well. So I changed as not to disturb you. I figured you would be safer in my arms. Unfortunately, we both fell asleep listening to Yulia. I set the alarm, so we would not miss our village repair,” he explained.

Well, he did answer. She thought he must have prepared that last night. He didn't want to stumble this morning. At least she knew they did share the same intention. Nobody's placation was that strong.

“Don't you have to take a shower, before we get moving?” she asked.

“Yes, but I left my BDUs next door, in my room,” he said.

“Let me embellish my question. Don't you have to take a shower in your room? I have to take one in my room,” she clarified.

“T-that is what I meant. We will be much faster if we took showers in our own separate rooms,” he agreed with her.

She got out of bed, he followed her. He walked out of her room, briskly.

She knew she was rather forward with him. In every gambling analogy, it looks like she won. She should have thrown her dice in the first place.

They both got dressed, separately. They had their little excursion—their ‘outside the box’ vacation. It was time to get back to work, however, since many of their questions were answered, well, more so inferred through evidence.

As she was squaring herself away, Alexi knocked on her door. She straightened her collar, and walked to the door. She opened it, and Alexi was waiting for her.

“I hope you are ready. I trust you had a good sleep?” he asked her.

“Oh, my sleep was stupendous,” she said. “That chamomile tea really did the trick.”

She must've killed his expectations on purpose. They both were sweet on each other, just not vocally.

They went outside. Everything around the barracks was as if Tristan avoided them. The village was a different story.

Their area looked like a napalmed village from the Vietnam War. Jayde and the rest of the soldiers took the natives list, and began to work on the village. The soldiers felt like they got their side of Belize clean. It took all day, with a lot of their crew chiefs dabbling in carpentry, but they completed all their tasks. The natives were thankful. There were many a ‘gracias’ given to the soldiers.

They nourished themselves with meals ready to eat packages, called MREs. Some of the soldiers joked and said MRE stood for meals rejected by Ethiopians, but everyone ate them.

Twilight caught the soldiers, again. It was another hard day. That was a major reason they did PT (physical training) every day, well, when a hurricane didn't come to town.

The soldiers decided to turn in. They had PT in the morning. Tristan was gone.

Jayde went back to her room. Alexi was stuck in a quandary. Does he go to his room, or does he knock on Jayde's door? Did he read the signs correctly? Was she really interested in him? What to do?

Just when he decided to go to his room, Jayde's door opened. She came out, and looked, sultrily, at Alexi. Then she returned to her room. What was that about!? Why did she come out of her room, into the hallway, and give him that look? If she walked back into her room, why hasn't she closed her door?

Just then, an arm wrapped around the outside of Jayde's room door. Her hands motioned a ‘come hither’ gesture. Well. He couldn't disappoint a lady, and he wanted his questions answered. He went into Jayde's room, and got a little more than his questions answered.


Today was the day. They were going to find out who, or what wiped out the base of the reef.

They were descending to the laboratory. It took a while to reach the lab. They were alone, together, in the cubicle.

“So, Alexi, how was last night?” Jayde asked.

“I will show you exactly how I felt about last night,” he said, walking close to her, wrapping his arm around her waist. He began to kiss her, taking her breath away.

Jayde was apprehensive about their coupling last night. She wondered if he felt they did the right thing. With him being her bodyguard, and the two of them having a professional relationship, intimacy was highly inappropriate. They both decided to throw caution to the wind.

They finished their heat before they arrived at the base of the laboratory's entrance.

“We have to act like we don't know each other carnally,” Jayde instructed.

“I just know you as that American scientist I am ordered to protect,” Alexi said.

“It's going to be tougher playing it off with Chalet. After all, he is French. He can smell love, like being able to witness the process of the Grand Canyon erosion. No matter how slow it seems, he can pinpoint it, with ease,” she warned.

“I am Spetsnaz, with a top secret clearance. I have kept nuclear launch codes secure. The Doctor will not be a problem,” Alexi said.

“All your training won't matter. He probably already knows,” Jayde said. “Please, try to keep it concealed.”

They arrived at the entrance of the laboratory. Everyone turned in their acknowledgment.

Deveauxn walked up to them, and said, “I 'ave zomezink to zhow jou.”

He looked at the two. “May I zpeak to jou first, Zergeant, in private?”

“What happens to be the problem, Doctor?” Alexi asked.

“Eet iz a nashonal zecurity conzern. I zink ze phraze iz ‘mumz ze vord’,” Chalet said, and walked towards a research room.

“I will lock it away in this vault,” Alexi tapped his head, and followed Chalet to the research room.

They both walked into the empty room, and Chalet closed the door.

“So, what is this national security concern, Doctor?” Alexi asked.

“'Ow long 'ave jou und Jayde been intimate?” Chalet asked.

Alexi was thrown. They weren't in the lab long enough for him to slip enough for Chalet to know! He decided to play it off.

“What are you talking about, Deveauxn!? I am her bodyguard, nothing more!” Alexi exclaimed.

“Do not try to fool me, Zergeant! I 'ave zis zpeshal power. I am French! I can zmell her perfume on jou from ze meeddle uv ze room! Jou deedn't 'ave to do anyzink!” Chalet accused.

They were busted. He should've known the doctor would have this French ability to know. His misdirection had never been found out. What was he going to do?

“Do not vorry, Romeo. I vil not tell anyvon, not even Jayde. I zuzpect zhe told jou not to tell me. Ze zilly girl zinks I von't underztand love? She needz 'er 'ead examined. Jour zecret iz zafe vit me.”

“Spacibo Deveauxn, I will make sure no one else knows,” Alexi said.

“De rien Alexi, and vun more vavor, call me Doctor Chalet out zere. Jou can call me Deveauxn in ze veight room,” Chalet said.

They both shook hands in agreement, and walked out to Jayde.

“I'm not even going to ask,” she said.

“It is best you do not,” Alexi said.

“So, what did you find, Doc?” Jayde asked Chalet.

“Vollow me.” Chalet walked to another research room. The two followed him as he came up to a microscope. “Check ut ze vindingz.”

Jayde bent down, and looked into the microscope. “What is this, Doc?”

“Eet iz a zilicone bazed residue,” Chalet said.

“So, whatever ate my reef isn't carbon based, it's silicone!?” She was surprised.

“Jez, eet iz a zpeciez jou 'aven't mapped jet, and zince eet iz zilocone bazed, eet could be an ozer vorld livevorm,” Chalet said.

“Are you saying an alien ate my reef?” Jayde asked, surprised.

“Everyzing 'ere iz carbon bazed. Zience iz ztating zis iz zilicone bazed. Vhat iz jour hypothezeez?” Chalet asked.

“First, Alexi thought he saw a mermaid, and now, you're saying we may have been invaded by alien lifeforms? I truly don't know, Doc. This is looking all X-Files around here,” she said.

“Vell, ve 'ave zee rezearch. Now, all ve need to know iz vhat do ve do now?” Chalet didn't want to believe science, but its failure rate was zero. That was the scary part.

Chapter Eight. Maritime Mayhem

I can navigate around a hurricane! the captain thought. I've been running this ship for thirteen years!

Captain Shiloh had commanded his cruise ship through hairier situations than Tristan. He had avoided whirlpools, icebergs, rouge tidal waves, and obnoxious pirates. Tristan wasn't the most devastating force in the ocean. For Captain Shiloh, it was Wednesday.

“We have veered to 78 degrees, and are moving at 32 knots, Captain!” the helmsman said.

“Reroute to 93 degrees, slow to 26 knots, and keep Hawaii astarboard. The Panama Canal should be safe harbor from Tristan,” Shiloh said.

“Aye aye Captain!” the helmsman acknowledged.

Captain Shiloh had ultimate control of his vessel. He knew every bolt. He knew how long the gourmet meals took to prepare from the galley. He knew who was seasick or hung over from the night before. He was what was called an ‘unconscious competent’,he didn't know how much he knew.

That made him an amazing captain. Everyone under his command respected him. When he commanded, he treated everyone with respect. That was what beckoned reciprocation. When he didn't berate his crew, they ran like silk. The events that were about to transpire would show the crews allegiance. To stare death in the face, and smile the entire time it's happening.

Captain Shiloh checked the azimuth compass. They were moving towards 93 degrees, and the speed was dropping to 26 knots. The only passengers who knew of Tristan, heard from news broadcasts. They knew the sky got dark, and the wind became brisk, however, if you asked them if they were near a hurricane, they would say they weren't. Captain Shiloh almost wrote the playbook on hurricane avoidance.

Everything was running smoothly. He was wondering about his rebellious daughter. She was a senior in high school. Her dad wasn't home much. He was a responsible captain of a cruise ship. It was almost like being in the Navy. He gave her anything she wanted. The price for that luxury was he was abroad more than he was at home. Many people think money makes you comfortable. When you have a family, time is a dominant contender.

She had a stoner boyfriend. Not the accurate, precise, appropriate kind; the drug addled, constantly inebriated kind. Women either emulate their fathers by finding a like boyfriend, or resent them. With the lack of fatherly guidance at home, she chose the latter.

Her boyfriend's nickname was Mud. Shiloh thought that moniker was appropriate. The kid never did anything except get drunk and wasted. He wasn't even going to graduate! He checked her FaceSpace page one day. He wanted to log on and chat with his daughter on-line. He read a conversation she was having with her best friend, talking about Mud. It wasn't his speculation; he got the information from the horse's mouth. Mud was failing.

He was thinking about intervening. When he wasn't there often, why would she listen to him? That was his parental conundrum.

He was her dad, damn it! He was a responsible parent who provided for her! Why wouldn't she listen to him!? There was one factor he couldn't overcome—she was a teenager. A teen knows no rationality. All they know is what they want right now! What could he do?

At least his wife understood his hardship. She knew he had to journey to slay dragons, in order to rescue her from the tower. She knew no one else would save her but him. That was why her negotiation for his lack of being home made sense to her. She took up many extra activities. She had an award winning garden. She participated in a book club, and she fired many pottery pieces in her kiln, and sold them at the local decoration store. She knew he wasn't running around on her. He didn't gamble, was an alcoholic, or dealt drugs. Her man was a stoic ship captain. He wasn't a deadbeat. She knew what he was before she married him. Why would she change mid-stream? Certain women can be stupid that way.

“Hawaii is Astarboard, Sir!” the navigator vociferated. “We have moved to 289 degrees, and are underway to the Panama Canal with swiftness!”

“Aye Charlie, we need to check the liquor stock for the Alkochen businessmen. This is their vacation,” Shiloh said.

“We should've picked up a couple vats of tequila when we pulled into port in Mexico,” Lieutenant Adams, his first mate said. “Those businessmenare bonafide lushes.”

“They're on vacation, Lance. Let them indulge,” Shiloh said.

“I don't want to be around when the sexual harassment claims began to sprout up,” Lance said.

“We have a squad of Navy SEALs on board on leave. Their mere presence should nip those claims in the bud. Don't worry, Lance, they'll behave,” Shiloh calmed him down.

Shiloh gazed at the horizon. The storm was nowhere in sight. Hopefully, it will blow itself out, before it hits San Francisco. That was their main port. He didn't want to worry about docking. Even if it struck in Mexico and headed towards America, California was a long state. Hurricanes seemed like they were scared of Los Angeles anyway. It would probably fizzle in the Pacific.

The ocean was calm. All they had to do was sail to the Panama Canal, and begin their trip to Bournemouth, England. They were stopping off in Cuba, Jamaica, Monaco, and Spain. It was the way to travel the world. The passengers paid enough for the excursion.

Shiloh was looking at the horizon, when suddenly the ship felt as if it were hit by a rogue wave! Shiloh almost lost his balance. The crew felt like the crew from that space show getting hit by a laser blast! They all stumbled in unison.

“What the... Lance! Find out what hit us!” Shiloh was emphatic.

“There are no aftershocks from a hurricane!” Lance expressed. “We aren't in enemy territory, and the ocean is calm as glass, so no rouge waves!”

“Great deduction, Lance. I'll repeat my order, because you must not have heard me. FIND OUT WHAT THE HELL HIT US!” Shiloh pushed his point.

Lance left the control room to find the elusive culprit.

The ship not only slowed down, it became avast. There was no advancement. Shiloh wondered what happened. They were well on their way. Then the ocean, harshly halted their advancement. Actually, not the ocean, something in the ocean.

Shiloh scrambled to the port side of the ship. That was the direction of the hit. He looked into the water. He saw mysterious, violent bubbling at the base of the ship.

He ran back to the helm, and grabbed the intercom.

“Engine room! Why have we stopped!?” Shiloh asked.

“The engine room is flooded, Sir! There are… fish things spilling in the hole!” The engine room transmitted.

“What fish things!?” he asked.

“They swim, and have sharp teeth, Sir!” The engine room said. “I haven't the sligh...AHHHH!”

The engine room was abruptly cut off.

“Engine room... engine room, come in, dammit!” Shiloh yelled into the intercom.

Shiloh heard the clicking of the intercom. He heard, “What are those things!? They're eating the hull! Abandon the engine room! Oh God, the blood!” It became peculiar, immediately. What were they screaming about?

“The ship is sinking, Sir! These monsters have killed Sandow, and are sinking the ship!” The engine room transmitted.

What was sinking his ship? Why were they sinking his ship? What had the power to sink his ship!? He had to know. He took the elevator down to the engine room. He was lucky he was in the private elevator, and avoided the chaos around the ship.

He went down to the engine room. When the door opened he was greeted by salt water all over the floor. It looked like a salty swamp in the hallway going towards the engine room. There had to be a little more than a leak; the salt water was flowing profusely.

Shiloh walked towards the engine room. The hatch was open from the crew abandoning the room, quickly.

From down the hall, he saw the engine room's flooring was submerged in ocean liquid, and fodder.

What did this!? Shiloh thought. What could devastate a cruise ship so quickly!?

He thought he got his answer, when a mako shark lunged at him from the room! The shark landed in the hallway, and was stopped by the shallowness of the water. He was an unstoppable killing machine in the ocean, but without water, he was a floundering fish, with fruitless, murderous intentions.

Shiloh jumped back, so the shark wouldn't sink its teeth into Shiloh's foot. Although the shark was out of its element, it still had determination, and sharp teeth.

The shark kept inching, and splashing the water to try to get to Shiloh. The attempts were futile. It had no advantage, and Shiloh wasn't stupid enough to feed it his foot.

All of a sudden the shark began to wildly flail, and emit a sound Shiloh hadn't heard before. It was a strange grunting sound. When did sharks grunt? Then he heard the sound of a band saw. That sound wasn't indigenous to the ocean. That was when he saw movement.

Shiloh had done everything there was to do in his ship. He braved many obstacles, and conquered them. Unfortunately, for him, this wasn't Wednesday. They had gills and fins.

He saw... something, with teeth, tearing at the shark! Thethings weren't fish. They weren't ocean animals, or plants either. They had gills and fins, but he had never seen this before. It kept eating the shark. It had no recourse. Whatever it was, it made one of the Earth's greatest predators, into one of Earth's most helpless prey.

There were many of them. Some of them were finished with the shark. They fell to the hallway. Shiloh thought they would suffocate, like the shark was doing. He was waiting to see them flail and flounder, like the shark, but they surprised him.

They didn't flail, and splash in the water. They began to morph! They transformed from a fish-like creature, to a reptilian, Komodo dragon type of animal! It was changing right in front of him!

That thing ain't from around these parts! Shiloh thought, and pulled out his service revolver.

He was equipped with a .38 because of pirate attacks. He hoped he could use it to ward off psychotic, hungry, morphing creatures. He shot at the closest one.

It made no hole. It didn't even make a mark! It didn't even phase that thing! By not phasing the animal, this meant it didn't even acknowledge him! It was on the floor, and it began to tear at the metal of the hallway with its teeth! That thing ate... everything! Not only animals, but inanimate objects also!

Shiloh saw what he needed to see. He ran back to the elevator, and jumped inside. The doors closed, and he pressed the button to return to the control room.

In thirteen years, he never had to go mission critical. Nothing this devastating had threatened his ship before. He knew the procedure, he just had never implemented it before.

The doors opened, and he ran to the transmitter. He switched to the emergency frequency, and began to express his Mayday.

“Emergency, emergency! The Aniju, call number 1453h65t4e has been struck at 2.37 degrees latitude, -95.712 degrees longitude! The Aniju is sinking, repeat, sinking!” he yelled into the intercom.

“The distress of the Cruise Ship Aniju has been acknowledged. The Coast Guard will be able to assist you,” the emergency operator said.

Shiloh replaced the intercom, and grabbed a few life jackets. He went out on the deck to assist.

“Oh my God, what are those things!?” A passenger said, as he ran desperately to a lifeboat.

He couldn't believe it, but it was happening. His ship was being sunk, with all his passengers on board! This was a scenario he never thought would happen. Everyone was panicking, and not helping. Everyone was out for themselves. They didn't care if the elderly were in trouble. They've never dealt with a sinking ship, infested with monsters either.

The ship began to creak. The wood of the deck began to crack. The ship suddenly dropped ten feet deeper into the ocean. Whatever these things were, they were fast! They were, literally, eating the ship from the bottom, up!

The hull was the first non-human, casualty. There were many of these... erasers. They constantly ate the wood, the metal, and the passengers! People were screaming at the ethereal carnage. There were splinters of wood, shards of metal, and bloody body parts flying from these things! Shiloh looked, and the image of Cookie Monster eating cookies popped into his mind. The only difference between the two is these monsters ate their crumbs.

It didn't take two hours for the ship to sink, like the famed Titanic; the Aniju sank in ten minutes! It didn't just sink, the entire ship was simply not there. Not the metal, wood, deck chairs, swimming pool, people, nothing!

Captain Shiloh always had the question of him going down with his ship. He never thought he would be put in the situation where the question would've needed to be answered. He didn't drink where he would run his ship aground, so the question didn't come up. This was his moment of stoicism. He met the inevitable head-on.

All the passengers were eaten as quickly as the mako shark. There were a lot of those creatures, but not enough to digest two thousand passengers, and an entire cruise ship! Where did it all go?

Shiloh fell in the water, along with the Komodo dragon-like creatures. As he looked, they morphed back into a fish-type creature! What on Earth are these things? Was the last thing he thought, as the creatures sank their teeth into his arm.

The proper question, which he never would know was, What on Valan-Cheanus were these things? Earth was just their new residence.

They were actually here before we were. The Cheasu just thought we would know about interstellar space travel by now. I guess their calculations were slightly off.

The Coast Guard was swift. They were patrolling off the coast of Mexico.They arrived for rescue. They were going to call in all available guards to assist with the passengers. The captain took his binoculars, and saw nothing.

“Lieutenant, repeat the Lat Long coordinates,” the captain said.

“The coordinates are 2.37 degrees latitude, -95.712 degrees longitude, Sir,” the Lieutenant said.

“How long ago was the emergency call?” the captain asked.

“Twenty four minutes ago, Sir,” the Lieutenant said.

“I've been on the Aniju, cruising, on vacation. That behemoth is a floating city. There's no way it could completely sink in twenty four minutes! There are no deck chairs, lifeboats, or any passengers, for that matter,” the captain said.

“Maybe we should troll the area, Sir,” the Lieutenant suggested.

“And waste more taxpayer money locating nothing?” the captain asked. “Face it, Lieutenant Arland, we've been punked.”

Arland looked out. He didn't even see any frothy wave activity.

“Turn about, and tell no one they got us, Sir?” Arland asked.

“Affirmative, Lieutenant, tell no one. I'm going to talk to the emergency dispatcher, and tell her karma's a bitch,” the captain said.

Everything switched from terrible pandemonium, to nothing.

Chapter Nine. The Pins Have Fallen, Revelation Time

Everybody's full of it, Jayde thought. Alexi and the doctor were getting mythical, and celestial, respectively. They have lived on different continents, yet they were collectively ‘out there’.

Their actions really confused her. One was an analytical scientist, the other, a hardened soldier. They shouldn't believe in myths, and sky fairy-tales.

How could rational men believe in irrationality? That queried catechism threw her.

She looked at the doctor's history. He taught her! Everything she knew about aqua-science she’d learned from him! Did his new statement question her competency? If he taught her, and he thought that way, what did he actually teach her?

Alexi's been through secret overthrow attempts, nuclear heist endeavors, civil disobedience struggles, and troop command. She hadn't known him long, but you don't get promoted in any military without mental adequacy. Sitting at her table in her room, she didn't know what to think.

“All your questions will be answered,” an ominous, omnipresent voice emanated throughout her room.

She quickly reached for her firearm that wasn't there. She wasn't military police. Frustrated, she whipped around to see what she saw on the ocean floor!

“The mermaid! How in Hell did you get in my room!?” Jayde was completely surprised.

“I know the lore of this planet's history. Although I have trans-morphed my figure to suit the conditions of this world, I am not your fabled mermaid,” the mysterious figure said. “Since my kind is eons in advancement to your kind, a doorway is primitively rudimentary. We can phase through non-uniform molecules. You're what is called a scientist, so I believe you are competent enough to understand my actions.”

Jayde felt strange. Where did this... being come from? Why was he here? Was it hostile? Did it have malicious intent? She decided to ask it.

The being interrupted her questioning. “I am not malicious. I don't have hostility toward you. I am here to assist you.”

How did it know what I was thinking? she thought.

“Speech is the beginning of how we communicate. We not only listen, we sense communication. We interpret thoughts, and read physical motion. That is how I know what you were thinking. I've studied your culture, and language. I will explain everything,” the being said. “You should answer the door.”

Jayde was miffed. “Why would I answer...”

Just then, she heard a knock at the door. The being said, “That's Alexi Doshmononov. I believe I need to explain myself to him, as well.”

Jayde walked to the door with her eyes glued to the being. She got to the door. “Who is it?”

“It is Alexi!” Doshmononov vociferated through the door.

Jayde opened the door. “Before you lose it, Alexi, I have a guest you need to see.”

“Privet Alexi Doshmononov.” the being spoke to Alexi. “Ne volnuyts' YA znayu Russkiy (Don't worry, I know Russian).”

Alexi looked at the being, and then to Jayde. Jayde had a strange smile on her face.

“This thing is passive, Alexi. It knows who you are,” she said.

Alexi recognized it. “The mermaid!”

That's not a mermaid, Alexi. I won the argument. It's a...” she had no clue.

“I must apologize, Jayde. Our people know of us without us addressing one another. My name is Cheauflux. I am of the Cheasu race, from a planet called Valan-Cheanus,” it said.

Jayde stepped aside to let Alexi in. Alexi walked in, slowly. His expression was as strange as Jayde's was, initially.

“Vy znayette Russkiy? (You know Russian)?” Alexi asked.

“Ya mogu govorit' ne vsekh yazkakh (I can speak all languages).” Cheauflux said. “No tak kak vy znayete Angliyskiy davayte sdelayem eto legche na Jayde. (But since you know English, let's make it easier on Jayde).”

Jayde looked at the two. “I have no idea what you two were talking about, but this is kinda trippy, huh?”

“I guess the doctor was right,” Alexi said.

“Yes and no,” Cheauflux interrupted. “We are from light years away, and we sent the Chauzek, the beings that destroyed your reef, after your evolutionary level event happened. If we didn't send them in a vessel with a protective barrier, everything that exists here would be silicone based instead of carbon based.”

“So, since some lower, carbon based life forms survived, our planet would be a hodgepodge of species,” Jayde speculated.

“If the Chauzek were not dormant at that time, the lower life forms that survived would have become extinct. The Chauzek are dominant species,” Cheauflux said.

“Wait a minute!” It was Alexi's turn to interrupt. Whatever those things are; they were here before we even existed?”

“Yes, they were, technically, here first,” Cheauflux explained.

“I don't care who the evolutionary landlord is, how do you stop them from destroying my reef? Jayde asked.

“The Chauzek are relentless. They clean everything. The only problem is they don't discern. They can't separate the valuable from the useless, so they destroy everything,” Cheauflux said.

“Nice book report, Cheauflux. I don't need to know their intentions, or idiosyncrasies. I just need to know how to destroy them,” Jayde said.

“The Cheasu don't destroy. We relocate our problems, and with your primitive weaponry, you couldn't destroy the Chauzek without destroying yourselves,” Cheauflux said.

“Then how are you going to… assist us?” she asked.

“What our Cheacorin, our supreme leader knew, from that time didn't fully understand, was that the Chauzek can adapt to any environment. They don't need to be on a life sustainable planet. We can relocate them to another planet in your system,” Cheauflux said.

“We aren't advanced enough to have manned flight to anywhere in our system. We haven't even gone next door to Mars!” Jayde exclaimed.

“Who said we need manned travel? As I said before, the Chauzek adapt to anything. The only problem I need to help you with is creating a stasis field, so the Chauzek don't eat their craft, and to make a craft larger than the probes you've made for exploration. It has to be the size of a transport,” Cheauflux said.

“Even if the higher-ups believed you, this planet does not have the money to even make what you are suggesting,” Alexi said.

“When the higher-ups see how this planet will be inevitably destroyed, I believe your archaic practice of monetary exchange will be inert against this threat,” Cheauflux assured him.

Jayde was curious. “Why are you helping us?”

“The Cheasu have been through a bloody war, many millennial cycles ago, so we evolved into a non-violent race. That's the reason we don't kill. We didn't destroy the Chauzek; we relocated them to another planet before it had sentient beings. We thought you'd be advanced enough by now, to relocate the Chauzek yourselves, or leave this planet. Since our calculations were imperceptibly askew, I'm here to kick-start you, so to say,” Cheauflux said.

“Well, you need to tell Doc what we're dealing with,” Jayde said.

“Yes he is another important entity in this synopsis,” Cheauflux said. “I will meet you in the laboratory.”

“We're on our way now. You can follow us,” she said.

“I prefer tele-migrating, phasing. Being encased in any enclosed area when I can move freely is a bit disconcerting,” Cheauflux said.

“I understand your apprehension. Just don't beat us there. I want to prepare Doc,” She said.

“I will remain inconspicuous until you introduce me,” it acknowledged. Then it dropped into the floor.

They walked towards the mess hall. As they walked with swiftness, she looked at Alexi.

“Of course he's going to beat us there. The fastest way between two points is a straight line. We have to navigate to the mess hall, reach the supply room template, and go down the elevator. He can phase through rocks, and dirt, moving directly to the lab, instantly. He wins every time.”

“And you are not ‘weirded out’, being confronted by an alien?” Alexi asked.

“At first I was, but when he started explaining everything, and answering my questions, he made sense. A scientist lives on analytical deduction. My trait trumped my freak out. Before, I couldn't prove it. With Cheauflux, I could,” she said.

“Yes, but with all that explanation, it does not stop the fact that he is an alien!” Alexi clarified.

“When you see all the stars at night, and all we can see is a mere sliver of a fraction of all the stars in the universe we know, you don't think there's more life out there older than us? Think about going back in ancient Egyptian times with a cellphone. You would be worshiped as a god. When you think about things analytically, meeting an alien isn't all that strange,” she explained.

Alexi began thinking of things he knew. If he could touch it and prove it, it must be fact. Facts are what he has learned from. The strange part is, he could touch, and prove Cheauflux's existence. The situation weirded him out anyway.

They made it to the covert elevator, did the secret protocol, and entered. They began to descend. After a few minutes, the door slid open, and the two stepped into the laboratory.

“Jayde, lovely to ze jou and jour bodyguard!” Chalet called out from the middle of the room.

“You really have to see this, Doc. It will answer all you questions,” she said.

Chalet's eyes got wider. “Vat do jou 'ave up jour zleve?” he asked her, with excitement.

“First, your mind has to be open,” she said.

“Of course I vill keep an open mind. I am a razional zientist,” he assured her.

“I was thinking of how to prepare you for what is about to happen. Then I realized, there is no preparation for this, so, Doc, meet Cheauflux. An alien from Valan-Cheanus,” she said.

Cheauflux revealed itself. “Bonjour Docteur Chalet.”

Deveauxn stepped back. “Sacre bleu!”

“Ne soyez pas alarmé, Docteur. Je peux parler votre langue maternelle (Do not be alarmed Doctor. I can speak your native language).” Cheauflux explained.

“Jayde, vat ze 'ell iz dis... ding?” Chalet pointed to Cheauflux, and asked her.

“I told you Doc, no preparation. If you weren't cerebral, I wouldn't have showed it to you,” she said.

Chalet looked to Alexi for some sort of assistance.

Alexi shrugged his shoulders, and said, “How can I help you, when we are in the same boat, Doctor?”

“Fight through your initial shock, and be deductive, Doc. Once you began to think about the situation, it's not as ludicrous as it seems.” Jayde tried to bring his heart rate down.

He was going to be deductive. He asked his question in French. “Que détruit le Récif? (What is destroying the Reef?).”

“Il est les espèces étrangères appelées le Chauzek. Parlons en Anglais. (It's an alien species called the Chauzek. Let's speak in English).” Cheauflux said.

“Vat iz zees Chauzek?” Chalet asked.

“A hungry, communal, relentless creature, with black matter for a digestive system,” Cheauflux said.

“Vhere deed zey come vrom?” Chalet asked.

“These two already know the preliminaries. Let's speak in private, so I can catch you up. Since it will only be us, we can speak in French,” Cheauflux said.

“Oui, ve can go een 'ere, and jou can geev me ze dirt,” Chalet began walking to a research room to converse, and Cheauflux followed.

The conversation wore on, for a while. Jayde knew Chalet didn't want any of his questions about the universe squandered. It was like he was the student, and Cheauflux was the professor.

After an hour, they walked out of the research room.

“Zo, deez dingz are like voratiouz black 'olez?” Chalet asked, as they left the room.

“They are relentless, mindless demons,” Cheauflux said. “Holes that cannot be filled.”

Chalet walked to Jayde. “Do jou 'ave clout in ze Air Vorce?”

“I know a four star who has a thing for dolphins,” she said.

“Jou must get 'eem on ze 'orn, und tell 'eem to talk to ze prezident about zpace travel,” Chalet said.

“Sure, let me see if I can switch my conference call with God for Thursday.” Her comment dripped with sarcasm. “Are you crazy, Doc!? I don't have that much clout!”

“The level of your importance should become irrelevant when they hear what you have to say,” Cheauflux told her.

“I don't know how it is on your planet, but skepticism is king down here, and credibility is kind of important also!” she exclaimed to Cheauflux.

“The main complication of their knowledge of the Chauzek is their coversion. You won't be able to prove what they can't see,” Cheauflux said, with foreboding.

“You just told me, my informing the president is an impossibility.” Jayde said.

“You forget, I am Cheasu, far more advanced than a human. Humans will be treated as our chealings, what you call children, are treated,” Cheauflux said.

“What are you talking about?” Alexi asked.

“We have an old chealing trick we use to guide them to obedience,” Cheauflux explained. “We display imminent danger to them, to get them to listen.”

“So, rearing children is universal,” Jayde speculated.

“The chealings are constituted as violent Cheasu. We have to curry them to benevolence,” Cheauflux confirmed.

“What are you going to do?” Jayde asked.

“Humans are like our chealings, impregnated with violence. I will show them a threat they will have to respond to,” Cheauflux said.

“You're going to spook the president!” Jayde realized.

“I believe misdirection is necessary to get them to respond. Our chealings become compliant immediately,” Cheauflux said.

“Vell, 'ow long do jou need to prepare?” Chalet asked.

“If you are prepared to execute, I am,” Cheauflux said.

What did it have up its alien sleeve? They all wanted to see what was going to be revealed.

Chapter Ten. Momentum Is Difficult To Cease

“Sir, there is something on the RADAR (Radio Detection And Ranging),” a distressed officer cadet said.

“What is it, Cadet?” the flight lieutenant asked.

“It looks... sci-fI, Sir,” the cadet reported.

“What are you harping about?” the flight lieutenant walked up to the cadet, and looked over his shoulder at the screen.

What he saw was what he trained for, although, his training was hypothetical, the hypothetical was brandishing itself on the screen.

“Track whatever that thing is, and report if you see any more.” Just as the flight lieutenant issued the order, twenty more popped on-screen!

“Uh Sir... order confirmed, and I see twenty more of them,” the cadet said.

Flight lieutenant Kalumn was in command of his crew at NORAD (The North American Aerospace Defense Command). They tracked hostile entities in the air, and beyond. It seemed as though they detected a squadron of hostile entities.

Flight lieutenant Kalumn scrambled upstairs, to his annex. He exploded into his office, grabbed the fabled red phone, and called the White House.

The operator answered the ring. “Call code Fluctuation.”

“Response code Static! We have a Mulder Alert! I repeat, a Mulder Alert!” Kalumn yelled into the phone.

“The president is on Air Force One flying to a retreat in Camp David. I will radio him in route, and he will call you back,” the operator said.

“Trust me, I'm not leaving,” Kalumn told the operator.

He decided to call his second lieutenant from the floor. The second lieutenant picked up the phone.

“Yes Sir,” the second lieutenant said.

“Bring me some coffee, Mike. I'm stuck in my office for a bit, and I can't miss this call from the president,” Kalumn explained.

“Of the United States!?” Mike asked.

“No, of the Sheena Easton Fan Club. Of course it's the POTUS, idiot! We man NORAD!” Kalumn was cynical.

“I apologize, Sir. Do you still want your coffee black?” Mike asked.

“I didn't mean to bite off your head, Mike. We're just knee deep right now, and I'm venting,” Kalumn apologized for himself. “Just bring my usual jet fuel, and we'll talk about it.”

Lieutenant Mike Despin hung up the phone, and went to the mess hall to pour the coffee. Then he walked upstairs to the flight lieutenant's office, and knocked on the door.

“Get in here, Mike!” the flight lieutenant yelled through the door.

Mike opened the door, and handed the coffee to the flight lieutenant.

“Now that we're alone, Rico, where's the fire?” Mike asked.

“The fire is outside the exosphere, about to knock on our door,” Rico said. “We just discovered a squadron of alien ships primed for attack.”

“Are you sure they are alien?” Mike was skeptical.

“Well, let's see. The Russian Republic hasn't been united since '91, and the North Koreans can't launch a space worthy probe, let alone a squadron of war ships. That leaves aliens,” Rico said.

Mike felt the gravitas. “What are you going to do?”

“I'm going to leave it up to the POTUS. This is a ‘leader of the free world’ problem now. All I can do is suggest,” Rico said. “That is why I can't leave.”

As if on cue, the red phone rang.

The flight lieutenant picked up the phone. “Lieutenant Kalumn.”

“Report,” the President spoke.

“We picked up a squadron of alien war ships on the edge of the exosphere, Mister President,” Rico reported.

“Damn, and I was about to go on vacation. Foreign affair nightmares don't work by schedule,” the President said.

“That's the price of being the leader of the free world, Mister President, and it can be expensive,” Rico said.

“You're assuming they're attack ships?” the President asked.

“There are twenty one ships in a delta formation, with the leader taking point position,” Rico confirmed.

“That may mean ‘hi fellas’ in alien,” the President said.

“I've been a flight lieutenant for many years, Mister President, and a delta formation, generally means attack,” Rico said.

“You don't know if they ripped a page out of the U.S. Military playbook. They obviously, aren't from around here. They may be peaceful,” the President said.

“All I know, Mister President, is, don't offer your chin so they can hit you with a hay-maker.Be ondefense until they pose us no threat. Then offer your hand in friendship. I've seen too many science fiction movies to encounter the amiable stranger,” Rico advised.

The President thought about it. “You're right Kalumn. Get ready to block the blow. If we shirk that duty, we may be too dead for anybody to criticize my actions. Get everyone ready to defend.”

“Affirmative Mister President. I will call for a celestial advance for all members of Service. We will be primed by 0600 hours, tomorrow,” Rico said.

“Make me proud Kalumn,” the President said, and hung up the phone.

Rico hung up his phone. “I was going to watch Spark of Dawn tonight. I guess I'll ask my wife to record it. We have a task to do tonight, Mike.”

“What did he tell you to do, Rico?” Mike asked.

“I have to call a celestial advance for the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and of course, the Air Force. Brew some more jet fuel, Mike. It's going to be a long night.”


“What have you done, Cheauflux?” Jayde asked the alien.

“I just dis-facaded my ship, and fabricated twenty more in a delta formation,” Cheauflux said. “I believe a delta formation defines attack in your military.”

“I think you got their attention by faking an attack from aliens. You can pull a rabbit out of a hat,” she said.

“You can call your general now,” Cheauflux said. “Tell him you know of me, because I thought the killer whale was the dominant species of this planet, but you told me otherwise. I believe your president will want to talk to you.”

“You definitely changed my clout, instantly, without much work,” Jayde said.

“I don't want to insult your race, but humans are easily manipulated like our chealings. You can make them do what you want them to do,” Cheauflux said.

“I guess I should call my general,” she said.

“Ze nazonal communique is in research room 8,” Chalet pointed to a room.

“Thanks Doc. I guess it's time to put on a show,” she said, as she walked to research room 8. Alexi began to follow her. She stopped him. “Look, I know you're my bodyguard, but both of us wearing my shirt at the same time stretches it out again, so let me do this one by myself. We're in a secure location. Pirates can't get to me.”

Alexi was slightly, offended. She was questioning his duty when she was the one who asked for help!? How dare she! Then he thought maybe doing his duty in a secure location was a bit overzealous. Besides, a woman needed her privacy, although, she had a good bodyguard.

“I understand your dilemma. Go, and do your business alone, but I will be standing outside of the room,” Alexi said.

Jayde fabricated authority. “A commendable decision, Sergeant Doshmononov. Your review will be admirable.”

“I learned another English word today,” Alexi said. “Hilarious, Lieutenant. I will wait outside.”

Jayde silently chuckled, and went into the room.

It took a half an hour to finally get in touch with General Slaydon, but her performance was Academy award winning. The general believed her enough to contact the president, and engineer a conference call. She told the president of Cheauflux, and their detrimental meeting. He agreed they needed to meet immediately, and they needed to hop a transport to Washington, DC. She was fine with that. There was only a two hour time zone difference between both locations. They had to get prepared to put on a show for the president. She said good bye, and walked out of the room.

Alexi looked pensive as Jayde walked out of research room 8.

“Will your president see you?” he asked.

“Be prepared to visit the United States capital, because we're going to Washington, DC!” she said.

Chapter Eleven. Subterfuge Can Get the Wheels Turning

They were flying in a Galaxy C-5 to Washington, DC. It was the first time Jayde wasn't nervous flying. Everything that was transpiring made their immediate situation a bit more prevalent. They had to get the money and authorization to build something never before invented, with instructions from an alien most people believed didn't exist, from a president, in an election year. Prevalence was the supreme understatement of the century.

“Are you sure it will meet us there?” Alexi asked.

“According to Cheauflux, it's already waiting for us at the capitol,” Jayde said.

“That is amazing, if we could travel like that, we could be gods,” he said.

“We will, Alexi, we will. Remember my analogy about you going back in time to the first Egyptian civilization? Let's say you arrived in this plane, or your Ilyushin. Would they consider you a god?” she asked. “Cheauflux has the same mentality you would have. To them, you would be a god. To you, it would be Thursday. Cheauflux thinks that of you. I'm not insulting your intelligence, I just want you to think in perspective.”

Alexi looked at her with realization. “Nothing surprises you, does it?”

“When things aren't explained to me logically, and I can't figure the reasoning, I get as surprised as everyone else. I was surprised when I didn't know what destroyed the base of my reef, but when Cheauflux explained it logically, my surprise went away,” she explained her demeanor.

“That is why men are afraid of you,” he said. “You are hard pressed to display emotion. Everything you see or do, you proceed through analysis. You are too logical for a man.”

“Hey, if you come to a battle mace fight with a water pistol, you deserve your fate,” she said.

“You better be glad I strive for challenges,” he said. “And I carry my battle mace in my pocket.”

They flew through the ear popping and the turbulence without a problem. Even the landing was routine. Jayde felt content her phobia was quashed. She was also happy the man that helped her quash it was sitting beside her. If his battle mace was primed, she was ready.

They landed at the Washington DC Military Naval and Air Attache in a few hours. The military had a detail waiting for them. They were escorted to the White House. The President had to augment his retreat, so he was waiting for them.

They arrived at the White House accompanied by a full military cavalcade. Jayde felt important for once. Alexi felt strange, about to meet the one title he had trained for years to assassinate. Now, he was primed to shake the President's hand. It told him propaganda wasn't permanent.

They were escorted through the White House, to the Oval Office. Two Marines in their blue dress uniforms entered the Oval Office, and announced the two. The Marines came out of the Oval office, and escorted them into the President's presence.

Jayde remembered she was back in what soldiers stationed in a foreign country called ‘The World’. She stood at attention, and saluted her Commander In Chief. “Lieutenant Farrow, President Logan. It is an honor to be in your presence, Sir!”

President Logan returned her salute. “As my mother used to say, Lieutenant Farrow, this is a big pot of stale greens. Is this your special guest?”

“No, he isn't, President Logan. This is my Spetsnaz bodyguard, Sergeant Alexi Doshmononov,” she explained.

“This is our Russian operative, sent to protect you? Now he may not be the alien, but since he is standing in the White House protecting you, instead of trying to kill me, I'd call him special,” President Logan said.

Jayde looked to Alexi. “I'm sorry for belittling your duty, Sergeant Doshmononov.”

“Like hurting my feelings is the worst thing to happen to me. I do not see any wounds, Lieutenant Farrow,” Alexi said.

“You must forgive me for my neurotic anticipation, Lieutenant Farrow, but I've never seen an alien before,” President Logan said.

“I am sorry to keep you waiting, Mister President. Cheauflux—its name, not its race—should be along shortly,” she said.

“He didn't travel with you?” President Logan asked.

Before Jayde answered, Cheauflux phased through the wall, and interrupted her.

“I don't like being encased in any shell. Hello President Sydney Logan,” Cheauflux said.

“I take it this is your special guest?” President Logan asked.

“Let me explain, Mister President,” Jayde spoke up quickly. “Cheauflux can transport through solid objects, and space effortlessly, and instantaneously.”

“The second I knew he was an alien, Lieutenant Farrow, nothing it would do could surprise me,” President Logan said.

“Then you won't be surprised when I tell you the alien invasion you've been losing sleep over is a farce,” Cheauflux said.

“And I'm supposed to believe an alien, who I've just met, and know nothing about, is telling me what I see with my own eyes, is a farce? I wasn't born yesterday. I won't believe a strange alien, about an alien attack!” the President displayed his doubts.

“Call your defense mountain. Ask them about the status of the attack,” Cheauflux said.

“Security, grab these mendicants,” President Logan said. At that very second, the red phone rang. “Security wait! Let me answer. If I don't hear anything favorable, commence with your order.”

As the Marines were eying Jayde and her team, Logan picked up the phone.

“Report,” Logan began. “What do you mean, they just disappeared? You have a celestial lock on them, right? They're not behind the moon or in a cosmic cloud? They're just gone, and you can't track them. So, we haven't a threat anymore? Don't tell them to stand down, just yet, there may still be a threat. Call me back with the status every hour. If there's a change in any way, ring the phone. Godspeed flight lieutenant,” the President hung up the phone.

“Your reasoning for me misdirecting you on this subject is unfounded. I just used misdirection to override your protocols,” Cheauflux said.

“Well, you're standing in my office now, congratulations on your beguiling. What is really going on here?” Logan asked, and looked at the Marines. “Stand down fellas.”

“Oh, there is an alien threat, however, it’s not from my race. There is another race. One that can catapult this society into a dystopia,” Cheauflux said.

“What form of weaponry do they have? Are we able to stop them with a nuclear defense?” Logan asked.

“Their weaponry is silicone teeth, and if you want to destroy your planet trying to stop them, nuclear authorization is fine,” Cheauflux said.

“What, no lasers or photons, just teeth?” Logan was in a quandary. “What can they do with silicone teeth?”

“Literally eat this planet out of house and home,” Cheauflux said. “Did I mention these ‘cleaners’ are legion, insatiable, and are impossible to stop?”

“What are these cleaners called?” Logan asked.

“They were named the Chauzek on my planet. They were a nuisance there. They would be considered the Four Horsemen here,” Cheauflux was grave.

“This sounds a bit more serious than our imagined alien attack,” Logan said. “What do we need to do to stop them?”

“You can't stop these things. You don't have the technology to stop them.” Cheauflux was very blunt. “My planet was able to travel interstellar, through space, when we had to combat them, and we had to send them to your planet. They arrived just after your dinosaurs occupied the Earth. We know now, the Chauzek can adapt to anywhere. We thought they needed an inhabitable planet to survive on. We know now, that your neighboring planet will work just fine, without any discrepancies,” Cheauflux explained.

“We can get probes to Mars,” Logan perked up.

“That's like putting an entire circus troop in a clown car's glove box,” Cheauflux dashed his hopes. You need a transport sized vessel. I can show you how to build one.”

“That is beautiful. We have the men; we just don't have the money,” Logan said.

“I have studied your commerce model. When humans create something like a Blu-Ray player, it costs much money to own it. That pays for the research, trial and error. I need no compensation. My knowledge doesn't cost anything,” Cheauflux said. “Besides, I couldn't use Earthen currency on my planet anyway.”

“We still have to pay the architects, fabricators, and assemblers,” Logan said.

“I believe once you tell them of eminent danger on a global scale, they would comply,” Cheauflux speculated.

“You really don't know how this planet works. We would know this planet could turn into a barren wasteland, but they still want to get paid,” Logan dropped his reality.

“When the time comes to direct your people the correct way, I will do it. If you don't think that's possible, aren't I talking to you, right now?” Cheauflux countered Logan's realism.

Logan thought about this situation. He knew Cheauflux had just told him about a threat he never knew of. After the alien attack he made vanish, his trust was more credible. He always knew leaders from foreign countries had things up their sleeves for personal gain. Cheauflux's race taking over our planet would be like an adult kicking an ant hill. They had nothing to gain from taking over. He made his decision.

“I'll trust you because it's an election year, and if they think I had a part in saving the planet, I'd be a shoe-in. How long will this... transport take to construct?” he asked.

“You are a good leader, Sydney Logan. You are cautious, however, you ultimately do what's good for the people of your planet. I can complete the outline of the transport immediately. It will take as long as two of your Earth weeks,” Cheauflux answered.

Cheauflux turned to Jayde. “We still have to keep the Chauzek occupied. You have to disrupt their constant, relentless cleaning. Go back to Belize with a healthy branch of Marines and Navy to slow them down. You can't stop them, but you can redirect them.”

Alexi stepped up. “I am trained on tactics. I will engineer their redirection.”

“I don't know if the Marines will listen to a Russian,” Logan said.

“Their petty prejudging should be irrelevant when it comes to the safety of this planet.” Cheauflux was amazed this would even be a problem.

“I was the same way,” Alexi said. “The propaganda displayed of America portrayed you as anarchists with no discipline. I was trained with that argument being widespread. Now, I know differently. I cannot be upset with the Marines who have not shared borscht with one of my tovarich.”

“Don't worry Sergeant Doshmononov, I will order civility among the troops,” Logan said.

“Begging your pardon Mister President, I know of your authority, but ordering people to change what they believe would be more impossible than battling these aliens. Let them discover their opinions on their own. I can take the disdain,” Alexi said.

“Sticks and stones, huh Sergeant Doshmononov?” Logan recited.

Alexi was mired in mysticism.

Jayde completed the American saying. “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt you. We say that when bullies talk about you, and hurt your feelings.”

“I apologize Sergeant Doshmononov. You speak English so fluently, I forgot you weren't American, and have no idea of what I'm talking about,” President Logan said.

“There was one American saying I picked up while watching a movie. ‘No harm, no foul’. I believe I am saying that right,” Alexi said.

“We have a process in making you a citizen, but after saying that, you're American to me,” Logan said.

Alexi walked toward President Logan, and offered his hand. Jayde remembered their first encounter, and became horrified. President Logan grabbed his hand and shook it. Everything was normal.

“Spacibo President Logan,” Alexi said.

“I think you said ‘thank you’. You're welcome, soldier,” Logan returned.

“If our orders are to return to Belize, we better get cracking. We don't want to miss those Chauzek,” Jayde reminded them. Pleasantries could wait.

They said goodbye to the President and Cheauflux. They walked out of the Oval Office, filed back into the limousine, and headed back to the airbase. As they drove down Pennsylvania Avenue, Alexi was in awe of all the monuments.

“When we get back, I'll take you on a tour,” she said.

“We have to go to Moscow. I must show you the Kremlin, and Saint Basil Cathedral in Red Square,” Alexi touted.

They got back on the C-5, and headed back to Belize. It took several hours. That was where they met up with a few companies of Navy and Marine Soldiers at their base.

Doctor Chalet met with them in Jayde's room. “I vent over ze blueprintz of ze anatomy of ze Chauzek, and we cannot kill zem.”

“What do you know about them, Doc?” Jayde asked.

“Vell, ze template vas unique. Eet vas a zree dee eenage jou kin dizect,” Chalet said. “Zee alienz make-up iz eendeezructable.”

“But they're made from silicone, Doc. A diamond is tougher than silicone,” Jayde claimed.

“Zis iz a zpace-age zilicone. Zey kin zhew diamonds like potatozhipz,” Chalet said.

“That's why they're impossible to kill,” she said.

“Ze zilicone eelement iz not on our peereeodic zable,” Chalet said. “Zee onlee advantage iz zeir brainz ur very tynee. Zey 'ave a zingular goal. Eat unzil deat.”

“So, no reasoning or deduction, Doc?” she asked.

“Eef jou 'ave predaturz, jou use reazoning und deduckzion vor deevence. Zey 'ave no predaturz, zo zey don't need doze.”

“The goal isn't to kill them, it's to distract them. They have an ultimate weapon against destruction, but with the brain capacity of a rock, we can annoy the hell out of them,” she said.

“Zat iz vhere jour a mazter. Begging jour pardon, but jou're a voman,” Chalet said.

Jayde felt insulted, initially. Then she thought of all the women Chalet had been burned by, and understood why he said what he did.

“I'm going to pretend you didn't say that, Doc.” She had a scolding look on her face.

“Vonce jou prove me wrong I vill apologize,” Chalet said.

“She looked him dead in his eyes. She knew she couldn't beat the ‘Love Master’, so she spoke to Alexi while still staring at him.

“Are you ready to command your troops, Alexi?” she asked.

“I believe they should be waiting in the hangar,” Alexi tried to change the subject.

“Let's go, so we can update them,” she said.

“Da Lieutenant, we should update them,” Alexi said.

“We have to show the regiment how to beat down the Chauzek, Doc. If you find anything else, contact us,” she said with slight coldness.

“Just remember, Jayde, ze zilicone properteez ur an enigma to a zientizt, however, to ze laymen, zilicone astz az eet alvayz doez,” Chalet informed her, ignoring the chill in her voice.

“Seeya Doc, we have to fly,” Jayde said farewell.

“Au revoir Jayde,” Chalet returned the farewell.

They both walked down the hall, to the hangar.

“Are both of you all right?” Alexi asked.

Don't sweat it, Alexi. I can't tell you how many tiffs we've had, but out of all that petty bickering, he's the only civilian I'd want to share a foxhole with,” she explained.

As they walked into the hangar, they saw the regiment. It was a mixture of men and women in Navy and Marine garb, stirred in an ethnic stew.

“Quiet on deck! First Lieutenant Farrow has arrived, a-ten-tion!” an ensign barked out.

Jayde saluted them, and began to speak. “At ease! I am Lieutenant Farrow, your commander for this exercise! Sergeant Doshmononov is your regiment leader! You will listen to his instructions, and answer only to him! He knows the foe we are dealing with, and how we divert them! Do not become gung-ho and try to kill your enemy! You will fail! No ifs, ands, or buts! Failure is a definite! I will turn you over to Sergeant Doshmononov! Listen to him, and execute with efficiency!”

Alexi had never seen her authority. Her commanding was rather sexy to him. She could take charge of him anytime. He quickly halted his ogling, and began to speak.

“I am Sergeant Doshmononov! I am a Spetsnaz commando from Kiev! I am authorized by the President of these United States to lead you! I will train you as I have trained many troops! We will execute this exercise to divert the Chauzek with swiftness! The Chauzek are an alien threat!” He paused, and felt the unsettling of the troops. “Now, that the surprise has settled, skepticism will manifest! It is natural, get over it! Hesitation will not be tolerated! We have never combated these aliens before, but I know more about them than you do! Mistakes are acceptable, but failure of this exercise is not! I will teach you what I know! Any questions!?”

It took a second for the surprise to set in, but a soldier raised his hand.

“Yes soldier!?” Alexi addressed him.

“Sergeant! What are these things, Sergeant!?” the soldier asked.

“These things are an adaptable species! They look like whatever their environment dictates they look like! The main thing to look for is something you have never seen before, with sharp teeth, and a voracious appetite! Yes soldier!?” he addressed another soldier that raised her hand.

“Sergeant! What will happen if we shoot them, Sergeant!?” she asked.

“If you hit them dead on, that would be a good way to divert them... if they were not legion! If we had an entire regiment of DShK machine cannons, we could corral them! You cannot kill them! If there was a nuclear holocaust, them, roaches, and Twinkies would be the only things left on this planet!” Alexi saw the apprehension settle in. “Our job is not to kill! It is to divert! If we were able to kill them, their dark matter digestive systems would act like a malfunctioning Hadron Collider! There would be random black holes everywhere! That should impress upon you the importance of our mission!”

At first, the believability was suspect. Then, the reality was devastating. They had no idea what they had stepped into. The frightening part was that they had volunteered for this!

“Phase one of this mission; I need trackers from an S.E.A.L team to find these things! Yes, I know you, or I do not know what they look like! This is where you suck it up, and do you job!” Alexi yelled. “Get organized! We have no time to waste!”

The soldiers began to find the qualified people for the job. Alexi walked over to Jayde.

“How did I do?” he asked her.

“That's the first time I've seen you command troops. If I had to go against you, I'd be scared,” she said.

“Just be lucky we are on the same side,” he told her.

The soldiers were getting organized for a threat. They had no idea what it was, just that it was very strange, and highly dangerous. They didn't know or care. All they did was get ready for Hades. The United States soldier was impassively enduring that way.

This was Alexi's first time seeing the United States soldiers in their element. Now he knew if there was a ground war, victory would've been complicated.

Chapter Twelve. How Can You Stop a Juggernaut?

One of the soldiers ran up to Jayde and Alexi from the group. They seemed prepared for their endeavor.

The soldier saluted Jayde and spoke to Alexi. “Sergeant, our meeting has been completed, and I believe we are ready to get it on, Sergeant!”

Alexi looked concerned. “It sounds like you are a little too ready for this exercise.”

Jayde looked at the soldier in a scolding motherly way. “Didn't I just say being gung-ho about this mission would be detrimental to your life!?”

“Yes you did, Ma'am! I apologize for my choice of words, Ma'am! I will rephrase it to, our discussion has been completed, and we are ready, Ma'am!” the soldier corrected his attitude.

“Tell the Scouts to wait for orders, and the rest are dismissed,” Alexi said.

The soldier returned to the group, and issued the orders.

“You may have to work overtime in controlling these overzealous soldiers,” Jayde said to Alexi.

“It will be difficult to deprogram these soldiers. Their commanders have been beating over-zealousness into their heads ever since basic training,” Alexi said.

“You've trained people how to endure the weather in Siberia. I think Siberian blizzards beat American basic training attitude any day,” Jayde said.

“The one advantage I had over my people was just that, they were my people. A Russian soldier can respect his superior. I have never seen an American soldier respect a Russian superior,” Alexi said.

Jayde was disgusted at his presage. “Oh wah, you big baby! You remember that sticks and stones adage?”

“I know names will never hurt me, but your troops not respecting you can get you killed,” Alexi said.

“These are United States military warriors. They respect their superiors. In the Air Force, when we execute any sortie in the Middle East, even if a colonel is the squad leader, he will acquiesce to an Israeli second lieutenant, if he joins us. We know, no matter how much training you've had, and what rank you are, you've been practicing with paper targets. An Israeli pilot has been in war. They know what they're doing. Rank means nothing against shedding blood in the mud,” she explained.

“How many soldiers know about the Moscow theater, and the Beslan school hostage crises?” Alexi asked.

“Everybody here watches CNN, so I believe all of them know,” Jayde said. “We listened to the Saudi's and Libyans in the Iraq War. They knew what they were doing. If it weren't for them, we'd just be babes in the woods. They will respect you.” She eased his concern.

Jayde was a great speech writer, but she couldn't quell his feelings. He felt the same way about those soldiers, before he met Jayde. He knew of their scorn, because he possessed it himself. Unless an avalanche hits your belief, it was impossible to budge. He was not only fighting the soldiers, he was fighting his former self, and that opponent was kicking his ass.

Jayde thought she got through to him, then she saw the look on his face. She could read him like a book.

“The Doc told me something a long time ago. ‘Que sera sera’. That means...”

Alexi cut her off.

“Whatever will be, will be,” he completed her saying. “You are my supervisor. All I can do is follow your orders.”

“All I'm ordering you to do is be that Spetsnaz ass sergeant you always have been, and stop acting like a little bitch, Sergeant.” Jayde got harsh on him. At this time, she didn't need his worries.

“Yes, Lieutenant.” Alexi settled back into the Spetsnaz soldier he was.

He turned to the remaining soldiers, and walked towards them. “Who is the head scout?”

A soldier stepped forward, and saluted. “Chief Petty Officer Wylmen at your service, Sergeant!”

“You will be Squad Leader, Chief Petty Officer Wylmen. You will report your findings to me. Since you are a special request from the Navy, and SEAL stands for a Sea, Air, and Land team, you can spot these critters in the ocean,” Alexi said.

“We do have tactics, and military Sea Rovers equipped with adequate SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) gear, Sergeant. Our only challenge is success, and we don't like calling an order a challenge, Sergeant!” Wylmen was confident.

He said exactly what Alexi wanted to hear. “Excellent Chief Wylmen. Report back your findings on the epsilon zed frequency. I will issue further orders upon your easy report.”

“We're booted, suited, and ready to get this mission executed, Sergeant!” Wylmen yelled.

Alexi was feeling it; the dangerous excitement. He felt like he was leading an operation in Russia. “Dismissed Chief Petty Officer Wylmen, and Chief? Do me proud.”

Wylmen had a smile on his face. “Yes Sergeant!”

Wylmen turned to his team to tell them where their rovers were, and they began to head to the docks.

As they left, Jayde walked up to Alexi. “I witnessed everything. They didn't prejudge you in any way.”

“It was different with them,” Alexi said. “They were the same rank, and in Special Forces. We have a certain alliance we callkinship.”

“Yep, you're, definitely, a man,” she said. “You make up excuses in order to be right all the time.”

“Let us go over those blueprints the doctor has.” As they walked to the laboratory, Alexi had a grin on his face.


As they entered the laboratory, they saw the doctor working feverishly on the 3-D hologram blueprint of the creature. It looked like a large medieval legend animal floating over a table. The doctor looked like he was dissecting a frog in high school.

“Did you come up with anything new, Doc?” Jayde asked Chalet.

“I vas aboot to koontakt jou,” Chalet said. “Eet ees dere digesteev zysteem. Eet shares the zame teeoreez az a black 'ole.”

“Everything it eats moves to another dimension!?” She was alarmed.

“Eet 'as to go zome vhere,” Chalet said. “Zince zey are garbohje deespozalz, I vill call eet ze Landfill Deemension.”

“That's why there's no evidence of waste,” she speculated.

“Zey 'ave no eliminazion tract or resiviour een zere zysteem. Zey ur not equeeped veet rectums,” Chalet said.

“These creatures don't follow carbon laws,” Jayde said.

“Being zilicone bazed allowz dem zat luzuree,” Chalet said.

“I don't think them being silicone based has anything to do with it, Doc,” she said. “These things were designed perfectly in their simplicity. We should rename them Circles.”

“Yes, a circle is simply perfect,” Alexi added to the conversation. He wanted to participate also.

“Does this augment our diversion of them, Doc?” Jayde asked.

“No. Eet just kunfirmz vhy ve should not try to keel zem,” Chalet said. “Reemember ven I zaid ze zilicone 'az deefrent properteez onlee a zientitizt vould be conzerned vit? Zee zilicone outer bodee 'ouzez zee dark matter digesteev zysteem. Eef zat eez destroeed, zeir dark matter, oonleazhed,eet vould deestroy zis planet.”

And they say nerds don't rule the world,” she said. “These things have a perfect defense, like those acid for blood xenomorphs in that movie. The only way we can kill those things is a nuclear attack, destroying the planet in the process of killing those creatures to save the planet. Can you say Catch 22?”

“Just be lookee jou don't 'ave to keel zem,” Chalet said.

“All we have to do is wait for the SEALs to contact us,” Alexi said.

“Let's just hope those things are resting around the corner,” Jayde said.

“Vun probleem vit jour 'ope. Zee Chauzek do not rest.” Chalet sounded ominous.


“We have patrolled this area, Chief Wylmen. We don't even know what they look like!” a petty officer said.

“Once we see something that doesn’t look familiar, Stangler, we'll report! Until then, our job is to become exactly what they call us!” Wylmen yelled over the roar of the Rover.

A Coast Guard rescue helicopter passed quickly over them.

“Was that a Sikorsky HH-60 Chief!?” Stangler asked.

“Yep, follow that Jayhawk! Odds are they’re not just sightseeing!” Wylmen said.

They moved down the Nicaraguan coastline, towards the Panama Canal, after the Jayhawk. They knew something was about to happen, they just didn't know what. As they were traveling to the canal for a few minutes, the Jayhawk came screaming back! It slowed, and hovered over the SEAL team.

“Revert back North to 37 degrees! Rouge bogeys are advancing!” the Sikorsky blared from a speaker.

They must have known they were in a form of Service, because of the garb and colors they wore. How else would the Coast Guard know they knew of degrees, and the term ‘bogeys’?

Just then, a herd of... something came barreling off the coast of Puerto Limon, and into the Caribbean Sea!

The creatures were bizarre wangdoodles that had Komodo dragon like features to them. They obviously weren't indigenous to this planet.

“Choctaw, drop underwater, and track their movement!” Wylmen yelled.

As Choctaw put his goggles on, he answered, “I'm on it, Chief!”

Choctaw placed an air tank valve in his mouth, and dropped into the water.

Wylmen grabbed his walkie-talkie and dialed it to the emergency frequency. “Jayhawk, this is SEAL Team 4, over!?”

The Coast Guard answered. “This is Jayhawk, SEAL Team 4, come back.”

“We've been looking for your bogeys for over an hour! We are squared away! Thanks for finding them for us, over!” Wylmen said.

“I'm glad you know what they are, SEAL Team 4. I'll just report them as exotic anomalies, over,” the Jayhawk pilot said.

“We'll take over from here Jayhawk. SEAL Team out!” Wylmen signed off.

That was when Petty Officer Choctaw broke the surface of the water. He took the valve out of his mouth.

“They changed from those lizard things to fish things Chief!” Choctaw yelled over the Rover engines.

“We know they're aliens, Choctaw. Where are they going!?” Wylmen asked.

“Their heading is not favorable, Chief! They aren't going back towards Belize! They're new destination looks like Jamaica, Chief!” Choctaw yelled.

Choctaw was a Native American tracker, before he became a Navy SEAL. Wylmen trusted him more than he did a compass, or himself.

“I have to report to the Sergeant! I need to tell him they are heading to a tourist hot spot!” Wylmen told Choctaw.

Wylmen dialed the EZ frequency.


“When we find then, what are we going to do then?” Alexi asked Jayde.

“The rest of the regiment is preparing a net impregnated with a diamond filament. They're going to set it up between two Destroyers they bought with them. It won't hold them long, but it should be long enough to transport them to Cape Canaveral in Florida. After that, Cheauflux will direct NASA,” Jayde explained the plan.

“How are we going to get them in the net?” Alexi became the Devil's Advocate.

“Don't you guys have rodeos in Russia?” she asked. “No matter where they are, we're going to call in some ‘Puff The Magic Dragons’ to coral them to the net.”

“I know of your Hueys, Blackbirds, and Predators. What is this Puff aircraft?” he inquired.

She knew Alexi was only in Special Forces since 1992, so he would have no idea about the Vietnam War. It was time for her to educate him. She became the teacher again.

“The first aircraft nicknamed Puff the Magic Dragon was a Douglas AC 47 Spooky. I know your question is, “What is a Spooky?” she said, in her version of a Slavic accent. “They've been mothballed. I'll show you one in a museum one day. That aircraft was a gunship. It was equipped with three 7.62 millimeter General Electric miniguns to enhance better aerial fire power. When they fired all at once, they produced an iconic cloud of smoke, hence the nickname of Puff the Magic Dragon.”

That was the first series. Have you heard of the Vietnam War?” She asked.

“Have you heard of the Russia-Georgia War?” he asked sarcastically. “I am in the military. I know of famous wars.”

She looked at him with feigned disgust. “Okay Commando, as I was explaining, before you became sarcastic, we modified the Puff aircraft to that Huey you know. It didn't have General Electric miniguns on it. They put three M61 20 millimeter Vulcan cannon rail guns, with the fire rate of 6,000 rounds per minute on the helicopter. When it fired, it turned dense jungles into airstrips, and enemy troops into red mist. We never needed them in the desert, but we still have them for special occasions.”

“So the Unites States Air Force has a squadron of these Dragons available?” Alexi asked.

“Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it,” she said.

“SEAL Team to Sergeant Doshmononov, over,” a voice rang out from the transmitter on the far side of the room.

Alexi walked swiftly over to the transmitter, and grabbed the intercom. “This is Sergeant Doshmononov, SEAL Team, report.”

“They looked like lizards coming off the coast of Puerto Limon. When they migrated to water, they transformed into fish-like creatures, over.”

“At least they're in the Caribbean Sea, Chief. Are they coming this way, over?” Alexi asked.

“Negative Sergeant, their trajectory is the Jamaican Islands. Tourists from around the world will be terrified, Sergeant, over,” Wylmen said.

Alexi was shocked. Up until now, this exercise was contained. Now civilians would know, and panic would ensue.

“Tell them to return, Alexi. They've done their job,” Jayde said.

“You do not want them to pursue the Chauzek?” Alexi asked.

“Not if they don't want their Rovers eaten, and to be turned into blood soup in the ocean. Tell them to return,” she instructed.

“Good job, SEAL team. Rendezvous at the Belize dock, and wait for further orders, over,” Alexi told Wylmen.

“Acknowledged Sergeant Doshmononov. Returning to Belize forthwith, over and out.”

Jayde dialed the transmitter to MacDill Air Force base in Florida.

“Come in, Cadre from MacDill, come in,” she spoke into the intercom.

“MacDill Cadre present, over” The cadre responded.

“This is Lieutenant Farrow from the Belize Air base. Confirm with your superiors, over,” Jayde said.

It took a minute for the Cadre to respond.

I'm calling in the Cowboys,” she told Alexi.

“Status confirmed, Lieutenant Farrow. What do you need, over?” the cadre asked.

“I'm going to fax your target to you. I need a squadron of Puffs for this sortie, over,” she said.

“The Puffs need to be fueled. Where is this target, over?” the cadre asked.

“It's a school of these targets heading for Jamaica. According to our sources, they should be in the middle of the Caribbean Sea in two days, over,” she said.

“The Hueys will arrive in thirty four minutes Lieutenant Farrow, over,” the cadre announced.

“Tell the Hueys to fire towards Belize, I repeat towards Belize, over,” Jayde transmitted the vital information. “If those Puffscan divert them from tourists, this mission can remain covert.”

“Acknowledged Lieutenant. They will fire at the targets towards Belize to keep your mission need to know, over,” the cadre said.

“Lieutenant Farrow over and out.”Jayde placed the intercom on its holder.

“They do not need to keep firing at the Chauzek?” Alexi asked.

“The Doc said they don't have reasoning skills. The Puffs can't kill then, but they can turn them. Those monsters will just follow the herd like cattle,” she explained.

“So just fire upon them, and wait,” Alexi summarized.

“They have to know what they're shooting at first. I have to fax a picture, so they can detect them on their FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) RADAR,” she said.

They both went down to the laboratory. Chalet gave them a page of the Chauzek in their aquatic form, and Jayde faxed it to MacDill. She grabbed the transmitter in the lab, and confirmed they received it.

“I wish I was there to see it,” Jayde said.

“You have seen the Puff in action before,” Alexi said.

“The reason I know what they are is because I retain information when I read. The last time they were used in combat was in Vietnam, before I was born. I've read about them. I've never actually seen them in action,” she explained to Alexi.

“The reason you teach is not through experience. You can just talk a good game,” Alexi summed it up.

“I'm a scientist. I need to know a little something about everything,” she said.

“Well, let us hope your education is sound,” Alexi said.


The intercom in Jayde's room rang out an hour later. “Huey pilot to Lieutenant Farrow, over.”

Jayde grabbed the intercom. “Lieutenant Farrow to Huey pilot, report, over.”

“These things are divergent, Lieutenant,” the pilot said. “We fired upon them with a full complement of Vulcan cannons. That was eight Hueys with three cannons each. That didn't turn them into the expected soup. They just turned around like they were annoyed, over,” the pilot said.

“Are they heading towards Belize, over?” she asked.

“That was the order, Lieutenant, over,” the pilot said.

She turned to Alexi. “Prep your regiment. They're headed this way!”

She addressed the Huey pilot once more. “You did excellent. As much as you expected for the terminal to happen, they cannot be destroyed, over,” Jayde said.

“I didn't enlist to ask questions, Lieutenant. Is there anything else you scientists need, over?” the pilot asked.

“Your mission is complete. Return to MacDill for a debrief, over,” Jayde said.

“Acknowledged Lieutenant, pilot out,” the pilot said.

Jayde replaced the receiver. “This is going like clockwork!” Jayde was excited.

“I am going to tell my regiment to equip a generator to the net so we can electrocute them, and put them to sleep,” Alexi was getting into his command.

“Didn't Russians have basic science in high school?” Jayde asked, rather irritated. “If you electrocute a silicone based life form, it doesn't knock it out, it heats it up!”

“You cannot shock them?” Alexi asked.

“If you want to turn this into a Godzilla movie, be my guest,” she said. “That's why you need me. You're not a scientist, you're just good at lifting heavy things.”

Alexi felt stupid for a second. She may know the theory of relativity, but I can shoot relativity in the head at a thousand meters.

I will tell my regiment to hurry, and attach the net to the Destroyers,” he said.

“I'm sorry Alexi, I know you aren't a scientist, and can pull a pirate's spine out through his nostrils if you needed to. I just have this hang-up about hearing inaccurate science information from somebody I like,” she admitted.

Alexi had a grin on his face. “I am sorry, Lieutenant Farrow, your apology is not accepted. I will have to spank you later.”

At least he knew what sarcasm was. “We have to stop these Chauzek first. When that's over, you can spank me all you want.”

“You are thinking of the future. That’s healthy. I guess we better stop those Chauzek. I will order my regiment to execute.” Alexi walked out of her room.

Chapter Thirteen. When a Cog Breaks, Clockwork Isn't Feasible

“Bringing her about!” Captain Yaunch yelled to his crew. “Attach the net on my mark!”

Captain Yaunch was positioning his destroyer adjacent to Captain Willow's destroyer. They had to sail in cohesion with each other to capture the Chauzek. After the Chauzek apprehension, they had to sail to Cape Canaveral to move them to the transport no one has ever seen before.

The sailors were prepped for attachment of the net. They had to secure it correctly, because with the diamond filament in the net, the secure point could be the only weakness. Failure, at this point, was no alternative.

A warrant officer was a trainer of knotting. He secured the net with a buntline hitch, the same as he did on the U.S.S. Riptide, their sister destroyer.

Once the net was secure, both captains had their crew file into their respective destroyers, and they all set sail for open waters.

Captain Yaunch got Captain Willow on the communique. “Head out at 78 degrees, towards the Jamaican Islands. We need to stretch the net about 300 meters, give or take. This should, literally, be likecatching fish in a barrel. We need to heave to six miles out, over.”

“I'll heave to on your mark, Captain Yaunch, over,” Willow transmitted.

They sailed in formation to the target spot. Everyone was apprehensive, but ready. Those things were about to be abruptly, detained.

“Captain Willow, heave to in ten seconds,” Captain Yaunch transmitted. He counted down, and transmitted again. “three... two... one, mark!”

They both cut the engines consecutively. The military contraption halted at the six mile marker. That was when the waiting game ensued.

“Are you sure we're in the right area, Captain Yaunch, over?” Captain Willow transmitted to Yaunch.

“Sergeant Doshmononov said their trajectory won't waive. The only thing between us is water, over.”

“What if a blue whale blocks their path, over?” Willow asked.

“According to Sergeant Doshmononov, they'll eat that whale like a boneless drumstick, no exaggeration, over,” Yaunch said.

“If they can eat a blue whale as a snack, they need to be stopped, over,” Willow transmitted.

“When they arrive, their journey will be disrupted. Hold on, you're about to ride the steel gargantuan coaster. I hope you can hold down your lunch, over,” Yaunch warned.

“This destroyer has much more girth than a blue whale. My ensigns will have to tell me when they are captured, over,” Willow transmitted.

It actually took an hour before the festivities started. Captain Willow's ensigns didn't need to tell him about the Chauzek's arrival, the Mack truck sized crashing impact announced them with a fervor-like fanfare.

How could they have the momentum to rock two destroyers as if they were simultaneously hit by torpedoes? With that outrageous strength, they really needed to be stopped!

The sailors were shaken, however, they did their jobs. Two SEAL snipers were on each destroyer. They each had modified, long range harpoon rifles. They were attached to each hitch attaching the net to the destroyers. The two sailors who were in charge of the attachment of the net fashioned those buntline hitches to be slip knots attached to the harpoons. The snipers fired to the other destroyer in succession. It was the Navy's way of ‘closing the lid’. Each harpoon towed either side of the net to the other ship. The warrant officers re-attached the buntline hitches. That was the Navy's way of ‘twisting the cap’. There they were bound and captured.

“Are you secure, Captain Willow, over?” Yaunch asked.

“An Ensign just reported to me, we're ready to rock and roll, over,” Willow transmitted.

“Adjust your heading to 12 degrees. Next stop, Cape Canaveral, over,” Yaunch announced.

“When this crap is over, I'm going to Disneyland, over,” Willow transmitted.

“Do me a favor, and tell Mickey I said hi, over.” Yaunch said.

They began their journey to Cape Canaveral.


“They have them.” Alexi told Jayde. “They are hightailing it to NASA as we speak.”

“We have all of them?” she asked.

“They are communal, like sheep. They belong to their own alien community. Their brains are too small to stray. If they missed any, those strays would still follow the pack,” Alexi explained. “I do not know science, but behavior is something I am good at.”

“You must forgive my concern. I do know the science, and what they could do is shockingly scary,” she said.

“If I speculated on every consequence I have quashed, instead of thinking of them as the next mission, I would lose my mind,” he said.

She raised her hand. “Guilty.”

“Well, the nightmare is almost over,” he said. “They are on the way to NASA to send the Chauzek packing.”

“What if Cheauflux isn't ready for them? They won't just be fish out of water, having us waiting for them to suffocate. They'll turn into hungry alligator-like things. They don't sleep, and won't stop. Our hardest substance can't hold them. They could, literally, shave this planet bald of resources and life. That is why I stay awake at night,” she surmised.

“I thought you trusted your military,” Alexi said. “They will not fail. The Chauzek are not bad guys. They do what they are supposed to do. They are just on a different planet, and do not know what they are not supposed to eat, so they eat everything. They are not evil, they just clean up, thoroughly.”

“Your opinion is noted. Since we don't have to deal with them anymore, I'll file your opinion in the ‘rationality’ folder. I have to call, and tell Cheauflux they're coming.” She reached for the intercom.

The receiver quickly startled them. “Captain Yaunch calling Sergeant Doshmononov, emergency!” Yaunch's voice blared loudly out of the speaker.

She gave the intercom to Alexi.

“This is Sergeant Doshmononov. What happens to be the emergency?” Alexi asked.

“Those relentless bastards ate through the net! They are heading towards Florida, over!” Captain Yaunch sounded desperately alarmed.

“Your orders are to follow them, and locate their destination. Over!” Alexi was alarmed as well.

“We cannot kill these things! We're in very deep Sergeant, over!” Captain Yaunch transmitted.

“I will call you with new orders, when I consult my superiors, over,” Alexi said.

“Acknowledged Sergeant Doshmononov, Captain Yaunch out!” Yaunch signed off.

“This is exactly what I was talking about,” Jayde said to Alexi.

“At least they are going towards NASA. Call Cheauflux and tell him they are still coming, except they are just running there,” he said.

“Yes, and I'll also tell them they’ll be dealing with mutant alligators, with edacious cravings,” she said.

A monkey wrench was thrown into their hemi. Chapter Fourteen. If You Build It, They Will Come

“If our orders are to return to Belize, we better get cracking. We don't want to miss those Chauzek,” Jayde reminded them. Pleasantries could wait.

Jayde and Alexi said farewell, and left the Oval Office.

“Are you male or female?” President Logan asked Cheauflux.

“My people are asexual, Sydney Logan. We do not need another Cheasu to reproduce,” Cheauflux revealed. “It is an advantage to the propagation of our species.”

President Logan was surprised. He had more questions. What other time would he be able to interview an alien? This was his ‘Nat Geo’ moment.

“How old are you?” he continued.

“Our make-up is radically different than yours. Aging is not what we do. Our physical forms expire, our souls are eternal. They transfer to our chealings, our children, as our physical bodies expire,” Cheauflux said.

“We sort of, do the same thing. Our kids perpetuate our family line,” Logan said.

“The difference is that your children share different features from their mother and father, mixing them into an individual entity of their own design. That individual entity's soul expires with their physical bodies in this dimension. They don't come back mentally. Our kind is, individually, from us. Since there are no mixture of two beings, there aren't other entities. Our chealings are, merely, our next physical vessels. We still have the whole ‘rearing’ aspect of having children. Furthermore our memory and experience stay intact when our chealings evolve into maturity, keeping our population copacetic with our planet's size.” Cheauflux showed how his people existed. “Your kind is terminal, which is fortuitous for your planet. If you were eternal, you would run out of room on the Earth, and since you can't exist, comfortably in water of extreme temperature, and pressure, and you don't know how to migrate from this planet due to your biological make-up, your Earth would be doomed.”

President Logan had to soak all this information in. He thought that was the way you reproduced. Actually reproduction was so natural, he didn't think about it.

“So you have memories from about a million years back!?” Logan asked.

“According to what you call time, I have memories from trillions of millennium back,” Cheauflux said.

“Well, you learn something new every day,” Logan said.

“Your contractors will learn how to construct a transport. As soon as you employ them,” Cheauflux said.

“We had an enormous conspiracy theory about our SR-71 Blackbird being constructed from alien technology,” Logan said.

“That means your contractors should be able to understand my instructions,” Cheauflux alluded to the conspiracy theory being true.

“I'll employ some sharp people to follow your instructions,” Logan assured Cheauflux.

“When you are prepared, we can commence,” Cheauflux said.

Logan got on the phone to Crenshaw Industries, Lockheed, Boeing, and Cessna. He asked for their best, and to put them on a plane to NASA, where they build spacecraft. Cheauflux was told where NASA was located and transported there when the first contractors arrived.

The contractors took around ten hours to get to NASA. Cheauflux's travel was instant.

Cheauflux was greeted by a general.

“Welcome to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Cheauflux,” General Harper said.

“Greetings, General Harper. I believe your NASA is off to a good start,” Cheauflux said.

“We went to the moon in '69, and we've been sending probes to Mars for around twenty years,” General Harper touted.

“As I said, NASA is off to a good start. Once you can physically travel to your closest neighbor planet with ease, you will be past infancy,” Cheauflux said.

“We don't take kindly to insults!” Harper was offended at Cheauflux's statement.

“I am not insulting NASA, I'm just merely stating facts, General,” Cheauflux explained.

“You aliens aren't too keen on social skills, are you?” Harper asked.

“If stating facts in your culture is socially unacceptable, I believe my social skills are inadequate,” Cheauflux said.

General Harperfinally realized his foreign relationswere inadequate, and Cheauflux was, definitely, a foreigner.

“I'm sorry Cheauflux. I keep forgetting, you're literally not from around here.I'll adjust my attitude,” Harper said.

“The Cheasu do not get offended at attitudes, General. Allowing offense births hate, and hate initiates violence. We learned from violence since before humans existed. We aren't a violent entity,” Cheauflux explained his demeanor.

“Well, we haven't evolved to that state yet. If you don't apologize after you inadvertently, offend someone, they will think you mean it, and you're an ass.” Harper tried to show how the human society operated.

“I am on your planet, so I'll be the one to adjust, General,” Cheauflux said.

“Just obliterate the, blatant obviousness, and you'll get along fine in this world,” Harper said.

“If that means alleviating the saying of what you mean, I could do that,” Cheauflux said.

All your people haven't arrived yet, but some of them are here, and can't wait to meet you,” Harper said.

“Show them to me, General,” Cheauflux requested.

“Follow me, they're right down this corridor,” Harper said.

Cheauflux followed General Harper down the hallway, to a certain room.

“Now remember, these people didn't think they'd spot an alien when they woke up this morning, let alone be greeted by one. Hold your tongue whenever you think you need to,” Harper advised.

“I just would like to say hello to your area's most competent contractors, and I don't have a tongue to hold,” Cheauflux said.

“So, you can anticipate,” Harper deducted.

“We have not evolved out of anticipation. That is a trait every being that wants to evolve should have. You can't advance if you have no desire to learn the previously unknown. Anticipation is that drive to learn,” Cheauflux explained.

“Just when I thought I figured you out, you keep turning the page on me,” Harper said. “I would think you look at us the way we see an ant hill.”

“You still have entomologists studying that ant hill to learn what they do. I have the same drive to learn as you have that drive,” Cheauflux said. “May I meet the contractors?”

Harper had warned it about the contractor's apprehensions, so he decided to just let the chips fall.

“Let's meet your people.” Harper opened the door, and Cheauflux followed him.

As they walked in, the murmurs became quickly silent. One, because Harper was a general, and, more so, two, Cheauflux was an alien.

“Good day, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am General Harper. I would like you to meet your teacher, Cheauflux,” Harper said. “As you already know, Cheauflux is a Xenomorph. It is fluent in the English language, so there should be no problems with understanding. It speaks with a Midwestern accent, so his pronunciation is accurate. Ladies and gentleman, I introduce to you, Cheauflux,” Harper said.

Cheauflux stepped forward, and began to speak. “Greetings contractors, I am going to teach you the art of constructing a transport space craft, designed to go to Mars. It will be simple, because the lifeforms housed in the transport require no life support. With the size of the craft, we just have to build it sturdy enough so it can make it there. The rest of the contractors should arrive by tomorrow morning. You will consume nourishment... let me correct that. You will have breakfast, and then we will begin. Are there any questions?”

The entire room was silent. Everyone was stunned, and, strangely uncomfortable being addressed by a Xenomorph.

“I understand your abnormality towards me. I look like a funny mermaid, mixed with a cheetah and a rhinoceros. Just call me NASA's Griffin if that eases your preternatural feeling. How do you humans say it? Treat me like one of the guys,” Cheauflux said.

The contractors felt a bit odd. They were all college graduates. They were, automatically, realists. Dreamers couldn't build an accurate aircraft, especially not one that transported human passengers. Listening to an alien talking about something they've never built before threw them. They've never even seen this exotic alien design before. For that matter, no one has ever seen this thing. It felt dangerous believing a Xenomorphic being, one never even discovered in ancient lore.

A contractor raised his hand. Cheauflux called on him.

“You have a question, Sir?” it asked.

“It is not a question, alien entity. It is more so a statement,” Mr. Chandler of Boeing said. “I was a sergeant in the military; greetings General Harper. I was in Intelligence. We speculated on the SR-71 Blackbird, and Area 51. I've expected aliens existing for years, so your appearance doesn't bother me. I can see everyone else’s… botheration, and I speculate it won't be the last. I don't believe you know humans well enough to ease their minds. Since I'm actually excited to create something no other contractors, outside of our circle, have the privilege to create, I would love to be your Mediator of Foreign Affairs.” Chandler broke down the particulars everyone knew, but no one dared say.

Cheauflux knew, at least, one human was a dreamer enough to understand what Cheauflux was trying to convey.

“Your offer is adequate, and accepted...” Cheauflux didn't know his name.

“My name is Mister Chandler, Cheauflux,” Chandler said.

“Mister Chandler, you will be my Number One. You can subjugate the weirdness,” Cheauflux said.

“I am honored to do it, Cheauflux,” Chandler said.

Cheauflux knew humans felt uncomfortable in new environments, so he wanted to release them.

“Enjoy this base. General Harper will engineer a tour. Be back in this room, tomorrow morning, at six AM. By that time, everyone should be here, and ready to work. Number One, subjugate the new contractors in the morning,” Cheauflux requested.

“I've been here before for the building of the 787 Dreamliner, I can get some sleep so can be chipper in the morning,” Chandler said.

“Whoever else wants the tour, see General Harper; that is all.” Cheauflux dismissed them.

All the contractors filed out. Some of them spoke to General Harper, while others followed Chandler to their quarters. After General Harper directed them to the greet desk, he walked to Cheauflux.

“What are you going to do, while waiting? Get some shut eye?” he asked.

“We have no eyelids, so shutting ones eye is an impossibility, Cheauflux said.

"I'm sorry for my slang. Boy, I apologize a lot. I guess humans have a long way to get to your evolutionary level. What I meant was, are you going to get some sleep?” he asked.

“Humans use sleep for regeneration. Your stamina is miniscule. Your planet revolves around your star, and change light shades constantly. When your light becomes absent, you generally become tired. Your system has been designed that way, so you are used to that conformity. Valan-Cheanaus is positioned the same place your system's seventh planet is positioned. Our planet is more massive than yours. In your language, we have a six week day, and the same length of night. We can last much longer than you. The only difference is, I guess you would call our sleep hibernation. We shut down for six weeks. So, do not bother me for those six weeks.”

“I must remember, waking you up in two weeks is like waking you at three in the morning,” Harper surmised.

“What you consider a cat nap would be a blink to me, if I had eyelids,” Cheauflux said.

“Well, at least your kind hasn’t evolved past humor,” Harper said, and inadvertently gained a bit of rapport.

“I must review every available contractor to discover their specialty. It will make construction more efficient,” Cheauflux answered his initial question.

That was when General Harper realized alien meant not of the normal; different than what you were used to. Cheauflux displayed his title. He was what we called an extraterrestrial.

“Come to my office. I have everyone's dossier,” Harper began to walk towards his athenaeum, Cheauflux followed.

They got to his office. General Harper opened the door, and walked in. The office was filled with science journals. He typed on his computer and brought up the contractor file. Cheauflux gazed at the computer, and concluded the human race had barely evolved.

“Okay, Cheauflux, use this thing called a mouse to navigate the screen. I'll show you.” Harper pulled out the chair for him.

“If you don't mind, General Harper, I prefer to stand. Cheasu don't bend that way,” Cheauflux explained another anatomical difference between them.

Harper grabbed the mouse. “All right Cheauflux, you use this thing to move that arrow around the screen. The text will change to a different color when you can open the file. When you want to know more about a certain contractor, just click this left button, like so.”

General Harper clicked the button, and the file for a contractor's resume opened and displayed itself on-screen. It showed his background, his accomplishments, and his aptitude.

Cheauflux grabbed the mouse. “How do I view the next contractor?”

Harper pointed to the X displayed at the top right corner of the screen. “Click on that icon, and the first file will close.”

Cheauflux clicked the mouse, and the resume dropped back into the folder.

“Now, the next file will change to the color of translucent blue when you highlight it with that arrow on-screen,” Harper instructed.

Cheauflux moved the mouse, and the arrow on the screen moved over the next contractor’s folder. It clicked the left mouse button, and the folder opened.

“I assumed that was the next step you would instruct me on,” Cheauflux said.

“I've been a military general for five years. All of my subordinates need… guidance. I've been in professor mode for five years. I've been instructing for that long. Forgive my presumption. I've been used to that all my military career,” Harper apologized.

“You must understand me, General Harper. The Cheasu are an assimilating entity. I must adjust to what humans are used to. You can't learn every language of Earthen vernacular because you decide that is what you aspire to do, and know them automatically. Humans aren't advanced enough, yet, to do that. Since I know your language, and your idiosyncrasies, all I can say is, when in Rome...” Cheauflux began.

“... do as the Romans do.” Harper unconsciously completed the saying.

“Interesting, if you know the apothegm, you either finish it in your mind, or vocally,” Cheauflux assumed, and was correct. “I can navigate your information box, with ease. Your help was invaluable, but not essential anymore. I know it's called a computer. I just wanted to sound extra-terrestrial to comfort you. Leave me to my evaluations, and inform me when they arrive.”

“I'll let you be. You don't have two minds, or do you?” Harper asked. “We're going to have to sit down, and have a beer, and discuss you. I'm very curious.”

“To answer your query, and request. I only have one brain. It's highly efficient on your planet, and when we've completed this task, you can ask me anything, except I don't consume behavior altering beverages. I understand that is what you always say to a peer, when you want to discuss subjects. I didn't want you to be surprised, or insulted, when I decline your beer,” Cheauflux said.

Harper looked at Cheauflux, and began another saying he knew. “No harm...”

“You have turned my assumption on the speculator. You knew I was thinking ‘no foul’.” Cheauflux said.

“I'm sorry Cheauflux, I compete over trivial things. What's good for the goose...” Harper started another saying.

“You can stop now. I understand, you understand,” Cheauflux said.

General Harper gave Cheauflux a smile. “I'll inform you when the contractors arrive, Cheauflux.”


It was three AM. Everyone, except Cheauflux had eaten earlier. They all were bestowed a gourmet meal of steak and lobster. The NASA chefs flexed their culinary skill with celestial surf-n-turf. The meal was accented with Dom Perignon champagne. A 750 milliliter bottle ran around $360. It was NASA; they could afford it. Those astronauts were waited on hand and foot, when they re-entered Earth's atmosphere and came back to NASA. The astronauts were really obliged. NASA was indebted to them.

General Harper entered the room where Cheauflux was going over the contractors resumes.

“The rest of your team has arrived, Cheauflux,” Harper said.

“I will address the entire crew tomorrow at six AM. Give them these pills. They will sleep like the dead, until the meeting at six. They will have no fatigue at the meeting, actually, it will be hard pressed to contain them.” Cheauflux gave General Harper a packet of pills.

“These things aren't harmful to anybody?” Harper looked at the pills in his hand.

“They were engineered for human physiology. They are as harmful as jelly beans to a thin, non-diabetic person,” Cheauflux said. “We have alleviated your side-effect conundrum.”

“Wow, I'm distributing pills for an alien drug dealer,” Harper joked.

“I'm not like all the aliens in your action sci-fi movies, I have a sense of humor. That anecdote was funny. That laughing thing is impossible for my structure. Just know, I'm laughing inside, literally,” Cheauflux said.

“That's one for the books; an alien with a sense of humor. You're more human than you think, Cheauflux,” Harper said.

“Just administer those pills. I don't want my crew tired when they are beginning the conception of their construction task. Jayde and Alexi should arrive in Belize soon. They should find a way to corral the Chauzek and transport them here,” Cheauflux said.

“Won't it take a while to corral the strays? Even cowboys rope stray calves,” Harper said.

“That won't be their problem, General, the Chauzek don't stray. They are, inherently, communal. They believe they would expire if weren't with the crowd. They're just indestructible monsters, with one goal; clean whatever is in front of them,” Cheauflux said. “That is their elite complication, augmenting their intended, obsessed course. Their dilemma is being able to turn a straight, determined line.”

“That may take some time,” Harper said.

“Those two are very resourceful. Don't underestimate determination,” Cheauflux said. “I speculate hearing from them in six days. That is why I need my team chipper. They need to work with expedience.”

“Let me give out these pills. Your team will be bright by six,” Harper said.

“Make sure that Faolin Thunderstar contractor gets one. He's the lynch pin to the propulsion system,” Cheauflux said.


It was 5:46 in the morning. Every contractor was in the meeting room waiting for Cheauflux. Chandler decided to review what Cheauflux had said yesterday to get the rest of the team up to speed.

“Attention everybody!” Chandler began. “I know you've been getting rumors about who's leading this project. These are the facts. The leader's name is Cheauflux. Cheauflux is an alien from a planet you've never heard of, called Valan-Cheanaus. Whatever you've imagined an alien to look like? You aren't even close. If you've had a bad acid trip in college, you might be close. Don't freak out. I think humans made up the word ‘humanoid’. That was arrogant presumption by science fiction writers to believe an alien can look similar to us. When you see Cheauflux, the words ‘alien humanoid’ will become an oxymoron.

I just want to prepare you for the shock of its appearance.

You people from Crenshaw and Cessna got in at three this morning. Why aren't you catching Z’s?” Chandler was curious.

“General Harper gave us these amazing pills that knocked you out, and then woke you up, like a mutant adrenaline shot,” Faolin said. “Trust me, we're very awake.”

Chandler was amazed, for a second. Then he realized where those super-pills came from, and settled back to normalcy.

“That probably isn't the only alien bobble you'll witness for your duration here. Cheauflux is going to show us how to build a transport that can make it to Mars. It'll be like building a Star Destroyer, except it won't do any destroying. Just think about sending a cruise liner to Mars,” Chandler said.

Faolin shot his hand up. Chandler pointed at Faolin.

Faolin began to ask, “I am Faolin Thunderstar, a propulsion contractor. I specialize in constructing containers that can house JP-8 jet fuel. What will we use to move this... behemoth?”

“This is just the orientation,” Chandler explained. “We just opened the book, and you're asking what happens on page fifty.”

Faolin understood they all were on the same ride. They were going to go down the same death-drop together.

“To answer your question, Faolin, the fuel we will use is something called Cheamytex.” Cheauflux walked in from his contractor research. “Good morning people from Cessna, and Crenshaw. And Dobrýto you Misses Novakova.”

“It is true, I emigrated from Czechoslovakia, however, I am all American now. Thank you for the nostalgic greeting,” Mrs. Novakova said.

“Není zač; prosím Misses Novakova,” Cheauflux added ‘you're welcome’ in Czechoslovakian. “Is everyone ready to play in the proverbial sandbox?”

“Nobody knew what they were in for, but Cheauflux was an intriguing character. Chandler was right. They couldn't even come close to imagining what an alien looked like. Arthur C. Clarke, Phillip K. Dick, and George Lucas had lied to them.

Chandler stood, and clapped his hands together. “Come on people, we have to build this thing, and the president chose you! Your questions will be answered during the course of construction! Is everybody ready to play?!”

Faolin stood. “Come on everybody, Chandler's interrobanging here! Aren't you just a little bit interested?”

Everybody nodded to each other, and began to clap. They all gave a positive response.

“I just want to see what E.T. makes,” a Lockheed contractor said.

“I'm just going to show you how to build it. You probably can't wait to see what you build,” Cheauflux corrected him.

“All right, everyone has the preliminaries. I know the Crenshaw and Cessna people don't need any coffee. I took one of those super-pills also, and I'm wired like an alien computer, pun intended. There's breakfast. Let's charge for the morning, and report back here in an hour,” Harper said.

The contractors adjourned to the mess hall. They had a gourmet breakfast. It consisted of raspberry crepes, quiche lorraine, with french toast. Most of them didn't need the Hawaiian Ka'u coffee, but others were about to partake in the beverage.

Cheauflux interrupted their consumption.

“I need my team running at 100%. That term is different on Valan-Cheanaus. Everyone who arrived initially, take these pills.” Cheauflux offered the turbo pills.

Chandler took them, and handed them out to the initial group.

“100% means you won't sleep until the task is completed. Humans waste time recharging. These pills augment your natural replenishment. You will not become tired until this undertaking has been completed,” Cheauflux explained.

The rest of the contractors took the pills. They felt as if they were on speed. The difference wasn't the ‘high’ speed produced, it was the lucidity the pills generated. As gourmet as the coffee was, and their ritual of not moving without a cup of coffee, they had no use for it.

“You could sell these things on the street as natural uppers, Cheauflux,” Chandler said.

“These pills were designed for the contractors. They are not recreational, they are necessary,” Cheauflux said.

“You aliens need to learn sarcasm, Cheauflux. If you knew me, instead of knowing of me, you'd know I was just kidding,” Chandler said.

“We will work around the clock, so I can't help but to know you, and by the way, aliens know sarcasm. We have a sense of humor. When there is appropriate humor, I will sense it,” Cheauflux said.

They had never experienced this before; human and alien interaction. They were the pioneers of this experience.

They finished their breakfast, and returned to the meeting room. They began speaking to each other, to get to know one another. They were chatting when General Harper entered the room.

“Is everyone recharged?” Harper asked.

“With those pills Cheauflux administered to us, I believe we're on perpetual Nitrous,” Chandler said.

“So, everyone has taken the super-pill, good. That means everyone is running on all cylinders,” Harper said.

Cheauflux entered behind General Harper. “All right everyone, time to get dirty. Faolin, head up a team to engineer the fuel tanks, and don't worry, Cheamytex isn't flammable, or caustic. Misses Novakova, you will head a team on infrastructural integrity. You don't have to integrate life support, it just has to be Tonka trucksturdy.” Cheauflux took out a holographic blueprint of the ship, and the anatomical make-up of the Chauzek. The images sent light directly into the contractors heads.

“Now you know what you're dealing with, and what you are building. You have the specs. Your meals will be catered, and I have NASA chemists composing a gaseous suspension agent to put the Chauzek to sleep. It smells like strawberry air freshener to humans, but harmless. It can't be used as a military war agent. Your other task, Misses Novakova, is to create canisters for this gas. It should permeate throughout the cabin. Everyone else, haul the materials. The blueprints are in your minds, people, you know the measurements, we have the material. Time to play,” Cheauflux said.

All the contractors were hyped. They felt as if this was their calling. Like they were made to build this ship. They were, literally itching to begin. Cheauflux cried havoc, and let the dogs slip.

The contractors broke out, and organized. They felt like the Olympic Dream Team. Everyone had their specialty, and didn't mind showing off. That was what happened when you took pride in your work. They built the transport with expedience. Since the only time they had a break was for eating, and that was done in intervals, the construction remained constant. It was done in three days. With exigent wonder, relentless work ethic, and voracious dreamers, construction went smoothly.

The chemist created the suspension gas, and also the Cheamytex. It was going to be the new gas for every car. They didn't have to make cars to house Cheamytex. It adapted to every property of oil based substances. It costs nothing to make, and was harmless. All the politicians had to do was give the authorization to convert oil refineries to switch to making Cheamytex, but the contractors had to erase the threat, first.

The construction was complete. Cheauflux inspected their work. The team was very efficient. They forged immediate friendships. The singles of opposite sex actually acquired like relationships. Their other suitors believed they were too obsessed with their vocation, and they had no time for another significant. The Chauzek weren't the only beings that were communal.

Smoothness was the wish everyone aspired to. If that always happened, the story would be lifeless. Adversity has been the valiant component of every story. This was adversity's introduction.

As Cheauflux was waiting for Jayde and Alexi to report, a NASA assistant entered the hangar.

“You have an urgent message from Belize, Cheauflux,” the assistant said.

“That must be Jayde and Alexi calling to tell me when the Chauzek are arriving, they are early,” Cheauflux told General Harper.

Cheauflux went to the office to answer the phone. They had to use a speaker phone, because a receiver didn't work with Chauflux's physics.

“Hello Jayde, how is the Chauzek capture commencing?” Cheauflux said.

“We hit a snag, Cheauflux. We corralled them in a diamond net, to contain them until we got them to Florida, but they ate through that, and are headed your way,” Jayde had desperation in her voice.

Cheauflux didn't expect that. They can eat through the Earth's hardest substance, however, it should have taken some time. The Chauzek personified the words ‘ferociously dogged’.

“The team President Logan put together for me is a resourceful crew. They're coming this way. Don't worry, I have a plan,” Cheauflux said.

Chapter Fifteen. The Alpha Is a Survivor

The evolution of a species. On Earth, it can take over a thousand years. The Chauzek weren't from Earth. They were also were congenital adapters. Their transformation was virtually instantaneous. You could drop them off a cliff, and they wouldn't even hit the ground. They absorb their environment, and mimic the ingenuous creatures. They would morph into a proverbial hawk while plummeting to certain death—if they could die, and fly away.

The Chauzek were the ultimate weapon, that didn't know it was a weapon. They just ate... everything. They had no malice, revenge, or rancor. They just did their job. They had no obstacles. Everything that existed became Chauzek fodder. The equivalency was dust particles trying to battle a lint-free cloth.


“Where are they?” Cheauflux asked Jayde.

“The Naval Officers said they are headed directly for Mound Key Archeological State Park,” Alexi chimed in.

“That's on the other side of the state. How far away, would you speculate?” Cheauflux asked.

“I estimate 2,000 kilometers,” Alexi transmitted.

“We have something the NASA chemists created to knock them out. We have to fill eight fire trucks with the chemical, and head to Everglade City,” Cheauflux told them the plan.

“Will you make it in time?” Jayde interjected.

“This is the first time I am happy the Chauzek do their job adamantly. They can't help but to clean everything, and I don't think the Gulf Of Mexico is pristine. Yes, they move in a straight line, but they must clean all the debris, plants, whales, and fish. That gives me adequate time,” Cheauflux said. “My time is adequate, however, lolly-gagging is deleterious. I will call you back after completion. Thank you for executing. You hit a roadblock, but with them still coming towards me, it's just a speed bump. We just have to add a ‘director's cut’ to the story,” Cheauflux said.

“I see you're getting our metaphors down. Just be safe, Cheauflux,” Jayde said.

“Farewell Jayde, and Alexi, do svidaniya.” Cheauflux signed off.

There was no time to waste. Cheauflux went to General Harper.

“Is everything silky Cheauflux?” Harper asked.

“We have run into a complication,” Cheauflux said. “How many fire teams does NASA have?”

“They have to protect billion dollar space craft. NASA has a squadron. What do you need them for?” Harper was concerned.

“The Chauzek escaped from the military. Don't be alarmed, they're Florida bound. We just have to empty eight fire trucks of their water, and refill them with the Cheabeyancethe chemists created,” Cheauflux explained.

“That liquid stuff that turns into gas when it hits air?” Harper asked.

“We made a surplus, so the Cheabeyance won't run out. We have to drive to the Mound Key Archeological State Park, near the coast, and be ready to shower them,” Cheauflux seemed urgent.

Harper picked up on its criticality, and got on the phone with expedience.

“Get me Fire Chief Brickmann,” Harper spoke over the phone. He waited for a minute, and the fire chief answered.

“Brickmann,” the fire chief responded.

“This is General Harper, Chief. We have a mission critical task for your squadron to execute. We have to empty eight of your Fire trucks of water, and fill them with a chemical. No, it's not caustic. It smells like strawberries, and is as safe as water—stop asking questions, and scramble your team. Fill your gas tanks, you're driving to the coast of Mound Key State Park. I know it's on the other side of Florida! That's why I told you to top off your tanks! Just empty your water tanks, and drive to the research building. I'll have a crew waiting to fill your water tanks. How fast do I need you? Scramble like it's a fire drill, and you're trying to beat your old record. Five minutes will be fine. I'll meet you here,” Harper hung up the phone.

“We have to capture, and contain them. If the Chauzek become renegades, they will sweep a swath of destruction across Florida. We have to nip them in the bud, immediately,” Cheauflux said.

“This is why I enlisted in the military. We do more things before nine AM, well, you should know the saying,” Harper said.

“What will transpire will almost take all day,” Cheauflux said. “I'll tell the contractors not to slumber just yet. They have a space launch to complete.”

“It's amazing you've kept them up and alert for this long,” Harper said.

“When this is over, they can tell their friends how they saved the world,” Cheauflux said. “You inform the chemists, and I'll talk to my contractors.”

General Harper hadn't been given an order in years. It felt strange, but good. He snapped to attention.

“Yes... Hermaphrodite Creature! We address gender in the military, so addressing you is... odd,” Harper said.

“Just think, your military stories will be unique,” Cheauflux said. “I'm going to inform my contractors to be ready. I know you're going to be busy, so let’s meet back here in an hour?”

“Already gone Cheauflux,” Harper said, and walked to the laboratory.

Cheauflux moved to the recreation room. The contractors were playing cards, pool, ping-pong, or joy-sticking on a vintage Space Invaders video game cabinet.

“Attention everyone! The Chauzek will arrive very early, tomorrow morning. I'd estimate around three AM. Don't sleep just yet. We have to prep the ship!” Cheauflux broadcast.

All the contractors got silently excited. They just hit their two minute warning in the fourth quarter. It was time to dig in their cleats to defend the goal.

“I have to get to navigation, to inspect the course they're going to take,” Mrs. Chablis said. She was the coordinates contractor. Yes, she hauled, built, and shined the hull, but now it was time for her to do her real job.

“I have to get the transport moved from the staging area, closer to the launch pad,” Mr. LeCapitan said. He was the launch coordinator.

They dropped their cards, joy-sticks, pool cues, paddles, and moved to their stations. Cheauflux's apprehension eased.


You could see the gleam from the sun bouncing off the yellow fire trucks as they advanced to the research building. General Harper was waiting for Fire Chief Brickmann. He had never seen him, but he knew he wasn't the typical civilian fire chief, old and out of shape. NASA expected nothing less than proficiency. A fat fire chief wouldn't cut it.

The fire trucks slowed, and parked. The crew chiefs grabbed the hoses, and the firemen guided them to the water tank nozzles. Fire Chief Brickmann stepped off the lead fire truck. He was in full gear. He had wrenches and the standard fire axe draped off his back. He was a young one. It looked as if he just passed probation, but he knew more about fire than any other firefighter.

He walked up to General Harper, and offered his Nomex-gloved hand.

“General Harper,” Brickmann said. “What class fire are we putting out?”

“This fire isn't hot, Brickmann. You're going to spray a couple of uncivilized, untamed mutants,” Harper said, while noticing his athletic grip.

“And we're convoying to the coast of Mound Key?” Brickmann asked.

“Come here, Brickmann.” Harper walked into the building, and went to the projection room; Brickmann followed. Harper dimmed the lights, and shined the projector in Brickmann's eyes.

Brickmann's mind had a Chauzek beamed into his mind. It was a devastating, feral creature, not from this planet.

“And we have the only substance on Earth to knock them out. Now, do you see why your team is convoying to Mount Key?” Harper asked.

“Are those things dangerous!?” Brickmann asked.

“About as dangerous to you as an inferno is. You can handle an inferno, right?” Harper asked.

“I've never handled one with teeth before!” Brickmann exclaimed.

“Buck up Brickmann. You live for danger!” Harper encouraged him. “You're the head of the NASA fire squad, you don't douse camp fires! Show me a pair!”

Brickmann thought about what he said. He was a NASA firefighter for a reason. He didn't run away from explosions; he ran towardsthem. So did the rest of his crew.

“Since they mothballed the Shuttle project, my crew has been stuck playing tiddlywinks. They're itching for some action as much as I am, and my pair is in my trousers,” Brickmann said.

“That's what I wanted to hear,” Harper said. “Your team should be prepped, and ready to travel, Brickmann. When you get there, you're going to have a close encounter of the fourth kind, except it won't abduct your team, it'll instruct your team. Ease their shock.”

“I came to work at NASA, because I wanted to see Martians, I just never thought it would happen,” Brickmann said.

“Well, this should really freak you out,” Harper said. “You know those contractors that built that Star Cruiser in four days? They've been under its tutelage, since Thursday.”

“You mean we have a bona fide alien in our midst!?” Brickmann asked, surprised.

“I'm right here, Chauncey Brickmann,” Cheauflux phased through the wall.

“My contractors are primed and ready to execute, General Harper. Are the firemen ready?” Cheauflux asked.

“After Brickmann recovers from the stroke you just gave him, I believe they are ready to travel,” Harper had a grin on his face. “You okay, Brickmann?”

“Th-that's an alien!” Brickmann pointed.

“When you tell your crew, and they don't believe you, you'll realize you better keep it to yourself. People will think you're the crazy man, yelling at dandelions,” Harper said.

“After we stop the Chauzek, I'll keep this adventure classified,” Brickmann said. “I understand this story won't be a girl catcher.”

“I knew you were a man with rationality. Get your team ready,” Harper said.

Brickmann returned to the fire trucks, and his people were waiting. Brickmann got into the truck, and clicked on the CB.

“Time to move out, people! We're going to Mound Key, non-stop,” Brickmann said over the CB.

The trucks started, and filed off base.

“Is there a fire in Mount Key, Sir?” a firefighter asked.

“Oh, I'd say there's a fire, but not the kind that burns. I have some stories to tell you on the way,” Brickmann said.

“Are you going to tell us how to save the world, Sir?” the firefighter joked.

“That's a good start, Kelis,” Brickmann began. They had an interesting conversation along the way to Mound Key.

“So, you showed him what the Chauzek looked like?” Cheauflux asked.

“I briefed him with that projector information you brought,” Harper said.

“And they are going to be all right at my appearance?” Cheauflux asked.

“Brickmann seems like a good guy. He'll settle their uneasiness,” Harper said.

“They should get there in about four hours,” Cheauflux said. “I have time to check on my contractors.”

“This is my waiting period, until all Hell breaks loose,” Harper said.

“I understand Hell to be a realm of despair. If things go correctly, despair shouldn't break containment anywhere,” Cheauflux was rational. “Just rest, General, I'm going to need you for action later.”

General Harper couldn't sleep, that pill had energized him. He didn't have anyone to play billiards or ping-pong with, and he despised video games. He grabbed the deck of cards, and began to play free cell. It was more challenging than solitaire, it jogged his mind, and calmed him.

Cheauflux perused his contractors. They had the feeling they knew they were saving the world. Many people have no clue how a Digital Virtual Disc player works, they just know it plays movies. They don't have the realization that every player consists of over 150 moving parts. They just know it plays movies. The contractors were those moving parts. If they faltered, the movie wouldn't play. They were determined to show a feature film.


“So, you're telling us, we're about to deal with The Thing, Sir?” Kelis asked over the Citizens Band.

“It doesn't assimilate, and mimic you, Kelis. That's a movie. This thing just morphs in front of you,” Brickmann explained.

“No offense, Sir, but that sounds like a movie,” Kelis transmitted.

General Harper, and Cheauflux were correct. His crew thought of him as the crazy drunkard, accosting dandelions.

“You think my water pressures low while fighting an inferno. I'm not whacked in the head. When you see them, just do your jobs, because if you hesitate, they'll still do theirs,” Brickmann warned.

“Is there anymore enlightenment you'd want to bestow upon us, Sir?” Kelis asked.

It was time to explain the ludicrous. “There's one more thing. We'll have another alien directing us when we get there. Don't worry, this one is a benign alien. It’s here to help,” Brickmann said, feeling as if he were participating in a land not only of sight and sound, but of mind.

“Are there any Rebel Space Armadas on the edge of the atmosphere, Sir?” Kelis' words dripped with sarcasm.

“That is all I know people. Just prepare yourselves, Brickmann out.” He put the CB back on the receiver.

“You know they think you have a collection of phasers in your rec room at home, right?” Lopez, his driver, asked.

“You think I'm wearing a long black cape, with a helmet, and breathing problems too, huh Pablo?” Brickmann asked.

“I don't think that, Chauncey. Dark Lords make more sense than you,” Lopez said.

“Just drive, Pablo. When we get there, you'll think you're in white armor too,” Brickmann said.

They kept driving to Mound Key Archeological State Park. At that point, they were ready for anything.


The chemical contractor began the Cheabeyance fill of the transport. They created an air lock. It was designed, primarily, for the adding the Cheabeyance gas. The cabin was hermetically sealed, to over-saturate the cabin with the gas. The one problem was that Cheabeyance stayed in liquid from, with the absence of adequate air circulating. They overcame that by adding some air tank nozzles strewn across the top of the hull of the ship. It was simple, but effective. There was no life support, but Mrs. Novakova knew they had to craft an apparatus to fill the cabin with air.

The second the oxygen showered the cabin, the Cheabeyance instantly switched states. It was in a liquidus state, initially, but when oxygen was introduced, it became gaseous, instantly.

“How long will it stay foggy like that?” Mrs. Novakova asked Cheauflux.

“Cheabeyance is lighter than your oxygen. Oxygen's atomic weight is 15.99994, while Cheabayance's atomic weight is 3.62321. That means it will stay in the air indefinitely,” Cheauflux said.

“It's like a cowboy riding a horse that doesn't get tired,” General Harper chimed in.

“Your western analogy is correct, General Harper,” Cheauflux said.

“I pressurize aircraft. I know a little bit about oxygen's atomic weight. You could have just said Cheabeyance is lighter than oxygen. I would've understood,” Mrs. Novakova said.

“I cannot assume anything for this operation. Assumptions can turn this planet into barren rock. Besides, General Harper doesn't have your chemistry skills. He needed to understand, also.”

She looked at General Harper, and realized if Cheauflux said what she understood, it would just be gobblety-gook to Harper.

“I apologize, Cheauflux. I must choose my response more carefully. I usually work with people who have the same degree as I have. This working situation is... unique,” Mrs. Novakova atoned.

“If you were aware of your environment at all times, you'd be an MI-6 agent,” Cheauflux said.

“I get it Cheauflux. Everyone has use, somewhere. Instead of thwarting enemy combatants, I'm saving the world,” she said.

“You're a scientist. You're exactly like another human I know. You need to know a little something about everything,” Cheauflux said.

“The fire team should be arriving at Mound Key by now. I think you better go, and meet them,” Harper said, while tapping his watch face.

“They are six kilometers away. I have an internal time keeping ability. I couldn’t wear a watch anyway, but you're correct. I should meet them. Could you call Fort Meyers, and get me a platoon for back-up, General?” Cheauflux asked.

“I'm a brigadier general, Cheauflux. I don't mind throwing my weight. Are you sure a platoon will be enough?” Harper asked.

“We're going to drug them, not fight them. The platoon will probably just watch. What does NASA say? Have a back-up to the back-up?” Cheauflux rhetorically asked.

“Gotcha Cheauflux, I'm calling now,” Harper said.

“Mind the store until I get back,” Cheauflux told Harper, and disappeared through a wall.

“I've thwarted terrorists with dirty bombs, but I still can't get over that phasing thing,” Harper said.

“You're a general by profession, but a human by nature. I can't get over it either,” Mrs. Novakova said.

“Godspeed, Cheauflux, godspeed,” Harper wished Cheauflux well.


“We're about three miles away,” Lopez said. “I don't smell any smoke.”

“This is a figurative fire. You won't smell fire, you'll smell the other firefighter's fear,” Brickmann said.

“They've braved spacecraft explosions and back drafts. What is going to scare them?” Lopez asked.

“Witnessing hostile alien contact,” Brickmann said. “They projected these things in my mind. They move relentlessly, they transform right in front of your eyes, and they have these big, shiny teeth. They look like they have no business on Earth, they have no fear, and they’re voracious. I've been terrified since I saw them.”

“That's if they even exist, Chauncey,” Lopez was doubtful.

“When you see Cheauflux, I've already accepted your apology,” Brickmann said.

They drove for five minutes, and they saw what they thought was a monster on the coast. It was standing? Well, what they speculated as standing. It had a mesh of a cheetah, and a rhinoceros as skin. It had more than four appendages. It had no head, but its face, if that's what you would call it, had an expression of contentment.

Lopez parked the fire truck. He sat, dumfounded and confused. Brickmann jumped out the truck, as if he was ready for work.

“You were right Cheauflux, they think I need therapy!” Brickmann called out to it.

“Now your team is fighting with their sanity,” Cheauflux said. “Tell them to exfiltrate their vehicles, because they think I'm the enemy. Let them know I won't bite, but the Chauzek will.”

Brickmann nodded to Cheauflux, turned to the trucks, and yelled. “You have a task to do, people! Cheauflux is not the enemy! It's here to help you! Remember, your job is to drop the Chauzek! They don't greet, they eat! You do not want to be sitting in disbelief in your truck, while the Chauzek are munching on your engine block! Let's prep like we're about to douse some flames!”

Everyone was still for a few seconds, and then Kelis braved the exiting of his truck.

When his boots hit the ground, Brickmann began to smile. His team was beginning to believe.

“You were cracking the most jokes, Kelis,” Brickmann accused.

“I'm like Missouri, Chauncey. I guess you did ‘show me’. I'll never doubt my commander, ever again,” Kelis said in a round-about apology.

The rest of his crew stepped from their trucks, staring at Cheauflux.

“We're very sorry for thinking you thought Cylons were real, Chauncey, but you have to admit, your explanation was a bit loopy,” Lopez said.

“And you believe in Santeria. As much as I think your religion is loopy, you thought what I was saying was the same thing. Just be one of the select few humans to meet an alien,” Brickmann gestured to Cheauflux.

Lopez slowly walked towards Cheauflux. The rest followed suit.

“I hope my appearance dictates the seriousness of this, people. The Chauzek aren't fantasy. If you feel their teeth, you'll think they're the realest thing on this planet. Get out your hoses, and spray those monsters the second they hit land,” Cheauflux said. “The reason I am here, is because I must oversee your attainment, and to keep your heads in the game, because the Chauzek's existence is the game.” Cheauflux sounded like General Patton.

The fire team nodded to each other, silently.

Ms. Ramos clapped her hands together to get the team motivated. “Come on people, game time! Let's show those Chauzek they can't pee on our floor! I want to see my kids graduate college, and I'm not even married yet! I'm feeling froggy, let's jump!”

Everyone hopped to task like a well-oiled machine. Some of the firefighters positioned the trucks in a parallel formation, in front of the coastline. All that separated them from the gulf, and getting wet, was the beach. They pulled out their hoses, and positioned themselves for dousing a fire. They were primed, and waiting to surprise the Chauzek.

Cheauflux walked on the sand, in front of them. He saw their excitement.

“I understand your brevity, and you have no idea what they look like! Chauncey Brickmann has seen one, however, Hemingway couldn't describe what these things look like, so as you say, a picture says a thousand words.” Cheauflux sent a beam of light to each firefighter. It was a projection, and description of the Chauzek. Everyone was intimate with their description.

Kelis began. “We won't know what they'll turn into when they hit the shore, but, at last we know it's a lot of them. Even if we spray a beached killer whale, he'll just know what strawberries smell like. I don't care what comes on shore, spray 'em all, and let God sort 'em out!”

It didn't take long for the Chauzek to arrive. Thank goodness Alexi's intelligence was accurate, because running after the Chauzek would have been impossible.

“Party time people! Turn on your hoses!” Brickmann yelled.

The fire team was swift. They began spraying the Cheabeyance all over the Chauzek. The smell of strawberries over-saturated the coastline. The chaos had a fruity smell to it.

The Chauzek looked as if they were hit with tranquilizer darts. They were slowing down, and transforming at the same time. You didn't need cognizance for something that happens involuntarily. How many times have you blinked in the last twenty minutes? You never thought about blinking, you just blinked. That was the Chauzek's predicament.

They slowed to a stop. At least the fire team had an abundance of Cheabeyance, for the Chauzek were legion.

That was when the soldiers from Fort Meyers arrived. They brought twenty four ‘deuce and a half’ (M-35 2 ½ ton) cargo trucks for transport. They weren't there for support, they were there for aftermath.

Brickmann walked up to the General. “We just need to scoop 'em and transport 'em to Cape Canaveral, General,” Brickmann told the General.

“I came here to see if General Harper was drinking too much moonshine. Now I see a slew of these strange creatures being doused with strawberry air freshener, and a freak show leading your squad. I guess I owe him an apology. I brought my ninety six bravos with me because of what he said. The bravos are intelligence analysts, and can keep quiet. Of course we'll transport these beasts to Cape Canaveral. I need to have a beer with Harper anyway,” General Slaydon said. “Jayde in Belize said there were aliens coming, but I thought she was kidding me.”

Brickmann smiled. “Once they stop moving, load the cargo on your deuces, and we'll journey back to NASA.”

They kept spraying. The Chauzek slowed to a stop. They all looked like a school of fish that committed beach suicide. It smelled like strawberry death.

“All right Bravos, put those beasts in the deuces! Grab your donkey dicks, and top off the trucks, and my Humvee. We're transporting them to NASA!” General Slaydon ordered.

The bravos heard the crack of the whip. They scrambled to pick up the Chauzek. They were around sixty pounds of dead weight. The bravos loaded them in the trucks. Other solders filled their gas tanks. The operation was efficient.

“Are those personal tanks filled with Cheabeyance?” Brickmann asked Kelis.

“They're topped with water, Chauncey,” Kelis said.

Brickmann had been around too many NASA scientists. “Drain those tanks, and fill them with Cheabeyance. Position twenty four firefighters in the back of those deuce and a halfs. If the military hits a bump on the way to NASA, spray those monsters.”

“Got it, Boss, If they yawn, douse them,” Kelis said.

“You know the drill, do it. At least the firefighters will be sitting in a truck, and not hanging like streamers off ours,” Brickmann said.

It took about an hour. All the Chauzek were loaded.

“I'm heading the convoy! The military will be right behind us, and the rest of the fire team will cover the rear! It'll be like an alien sandwich!” Brickmann yelled.

“Have a safe trip. I have to return to NASA, to make sure my contractors are ready for you. I will meet back up with you when you arrive at NASA,” Cheauflux said, then turned and disappeared into thin air.

“That doesn't freak you out?” Lopez asked.

“I've witnessed a legion of rabid aliens we doused with strawberry air freshener, being led by a rhino-cheetah. Cheauflux disappearing into thin air is the least freakiest thing that has happened to me today,” Brickmann said. “After all that, I should ask you the same question.”

“Now, since you put it that way, Chauncey, I guess it isn't freaky,” Pablo said.

Everyone filed into their vehicles, and headed to NASA. It took several hours, but they had no discrepancies. The Chauzek slept all the way.

They got back to base looking like an olive drab, yellow-tipped snake.

The Crew Chiefs directed them to the transport ship. General Slaydon got out of his Humvee, and asked one of the chiefs, “Where's General Harper?”

“I'm right here, you geriatric coot!” Harper announced himself.

Slaydon walked to Harper. “I thought you had swigged a bottle of Everclear before you called me. Now I know those bastards are real!” Slaydon shook Harper's hand.

“When aren't you going to second guess me, Slaydon?” Harper asked.

“When you stop pranking your troops, Harper,” Slaydon said.

They perused their troops. They saw them working with the contractors well. The contractors knew their jobs, and the soldiers followed their lead. They loaded the Chauzek into the craft's air lock. They were pushed into the entrance of the ship. Novakova hit a button, and all heard a vacuum seal. The airlock moved back to its original position, minus the Chauzek. The craft was equipped with a conveyor belt. It moved the Chauzek to the front of the transport. They repeated the cycle, until every Chauzek was loaded.

Once they were full, LeCapitan moved the ship to the launch pad.

Everyone went to Mission Control. The head launcher had the countdown down to three minutes.

“Operation Clean Sweep launches in T-minus two minutes, thirty two seconds. Is flight control capcom green?” she asked.

“Capcom green,” the flight controller said.

“Cheabeyance support green?” she asked.

“Support green, Ma'am.” life support said.

“Navigation and trajectory green?” she continued her checklist.

“Navigation is a go,” the navigator said.

“So, this is a launch sequence?” Slaydon whispered the question into Harper's ear.

Harper leaned to Slaydon. “Watch the Discovery Channel's archives to see the moon launch, and you'll see a legitimate launch.”

“T-minus thirty seconds,” the head launcher said. “All support green.”

Slaydon looked like a kid waiting for Christmas. It was old hat to Harper.

Three... two... one, we are executing lift-off!” The head launcher pushed a button.

The engines exploded with a shock. The vapored smoke billowed out the bottom of the ship. Although Control was over three hundred yards away, it trembled like a school girl's first day of Kindergarten.

The ship, slowly, began its journey. It released from the launch pad, and defied gravity.

“So, this is what you see on every launch?” Slaydon asked Harper.

“As long as an O-ring doesn't blow, I think we're golden,” Harper said.

The transport pushed past the clouds, and it broke orbit. The last desperation of Earth's grip on it was gone.

“We officially have a transport on its way to Mars, people,” the head launcher said.

The cheer was immediate. The hugs ensued, instantly. Everyone was happy with their hard work.

“Is the threat gone?” Cheauflux appeared from nowhere.

“Sorry Cheauflux, we're all out of Chauzek, but I'm sure Mars is getting a shipment,” Harper smiled at Cheauflux.

“I must return to Belize, to tell Jayde and Alexi the mission has been completed. They can go back to their normal programming.” Cheauflux turned, and phased through the wall.

“Yes Slaydon. I didn't believe it either. Aliens have a sense of humor.” Harper turned to join the festivities.


Evolution is slow on Earth. Darwin had to prove the theory of evolution on the Galapagos Islands. Some people still don't believe in evolution. They can look directly at the bone structure of Cro-Magnon man, and still not believe. Science isn't a sometimes thing. Facts don't waiver with opinion. Now, we realize evolution is universal.

Nature is never finished. It's the universe's most finicky artist. It seems like it got sharks right, so it didn't have to change those for millions of years, but some things are works in progress.

The Chauzek were indestructible on every planet they inhabited, but they were dumb, and you could put them to sleep. They actually had predators; Cheasu, and humans. A smarter animal could best a moron any day.

One Chauzek was granted the gift of evolution. When it saw its cohorts were being dropped the second they made it to land, it had the wherewithal to divert. It stayed under water. The gathering was over after a few hours. As the trucks left, it surfaced.

As dangerous as the Chauzek were, they weren't as nearly as dangerous as the Chauzek that could think.

It transformed into a larger creature. It didn't switch into a Komodo dragon sized creature, It was in Florida. Alligators were the indigenous animal of the Everglades. It turned into a behemoth gator type creature.

This one knew how to avoid the gas they used to knock out its kindred. It started with random beer cans, lost Frisbees, and plants. This was a new threat, and even Cheauflux wasn't ready.

Chapter Sixteen. Just When You Think It's Over...

Cheauflux went to its original arrival point. You couldn't call it home. It was like the visiting team returning to the visitor’s locker room. That was where all of its stuff was, but residence was extremely temporary.

It appeared in the laboratory. It was 0500 hours, however, Doctor Chalet was working feverishly on amino acid compounds.

“Your voracious visitors have migrated to a different planet, Deveauxn Chalet,” Cheauflux announced.

Deveauxn jumped from his microscope. “Jou do not ztartle a zientist zat vey!”

“I thought you would be elated, Deveauxn. You don't have to worry about Armageddon anymore,” Cheauflux said.

Chalet dismissed the shock. It was replaced with delight. “Jou eeveekted zose monzterz?”

“The only thing they are threatening is the surface of Mars, Deveauxn,” Cheauflux said.

“'Ave jou told Alexi, und Jayde?” Chalet asked.

“I just got here one minute ago. I would want to tell them. Could you summon them?” Cheauflux asked.

Eet's five O'clock een zee morneeng. Zey ur meelitaree. Zey ur probablee 'aving zeir coffee anyvey. I tink zees eez more eemportant zhan coffee. I vill alert zhem.” Chalet was excited.

He went to the intercom to call Jayde. She answered quickly.

“Whats the problem, Doc?” she asked.

“Vake Alexi, und come to zee laboratoree. I 'ave en eemergencee matter to deescuz vit jou!” Chalet feigned desperation.

“We're already dressed, Doc. We'll be down in five!” Jayde transmitted.

Chalet turned, and smiled at Cheauflux. “Zometimez jou 'ave to josh jour freendz.”

“I'm trying to understand your social idiosyncrasies, however, it doesn't have rules, so science is inert,” Cheauflux said.

“Jou 'ave to be ‘een countree’ for a vile before jou can catch zheir qirkz,” Chalet said.

Cheauflux was a far superior entity, but the human condition was a quagmire to it. It was strange, not knowing everything. It, literally, stuck in its craw.

The elevator opened, and Jayde bounded out, with Alexi following. She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Cheauflux.

Cheauflux couldn't display emotions, and Chalet was a master at controlling his, so Jayde couldn't read them at all.

“After all that work, those monsters eluded you!?” Despair creeped into Jayde's psyche.

“Akshuallee, zhey ur oon zheir vey tu Marz. I zaid eemergencee, not eerroneeouz.” Chalet began to smile.

Jayde's excitement took over. “You aren't playing with me, are you Doc?”

“Ven eet comez down to telleeng a voman goot newz, I learned playeeng culd bee dangeruz,” Chalet said.

“Time for celebration!” Alexi yelled. “I was lucky I was next door to Jayde when she heard of your emergency.”

Chalet looked at Alexi. “Culd I zee jou een private again, Alexi? I 'ave another nashonal zecuritee breech.”

Alexi knew that was their code for talking about his relatonship.

Alexi pointed at a room. “Research room 8?”

Chalet nodded, and walked towards the room. Alexi followed.

“Do they do that all the time?” Cheauflux asked Jayde.

“Only when they want to have girl-talk,” Jayde said. “They act like I don't know.”

“That is the last leg of my mission. I understand some of your colloquialisms as you heard me speak your metaphors before. I need to explore this world. I need to understand human aberrations, idiosyncrasies, and equivocations. I am computation smart, not mannerism smart. For example, you know they are speaking about you and Alexi's relationship. Why not bring the matter to fruition?” Cheauflux was curious.

“There's another quirk humans relish, Cheauflux,” Jayde explained. “Men need to have their secrets. It makes them feel all ‘secret agent’ like,” Jayde answered Cheauflux's question.

“So, you're going to live the fallacy of naivety?” Cheauflux asked another question. He was a scientist also.

“We have an old saying on Earth, it's a human thing. You wouldn't understand,” Jayde summed it up.

They waited for the boys to leave the Secret Agent Club.


“Zee reason I called Jayde first, iz because I knew jou vere een bed vit 'er,” Chalet revealed to Alexi.

“I was next door, Deveauxn!” Alexi defended himself.

Chalet had disbelief plastered on his face. ”By now, jou zhould know, jou kinot keed a keeder, and jou kinot treek a luver,” Chalet said. “Jou culd, et leaze, teell zee rezearch team.”

“I need one very important thing to do that, Deveauxn. I need Jayde's permission,” Alexi said. “I've been in a relationship long enough to know how to keep one.”

Chalet looked at Alexi like he just graduated college. He proudly put his hand on Alexi's shoulder.

“Jou know, manee men vonder vhy zeir relashonsheepz do not last. Jou 'ave zee geeft of avoideeng zee elefant in zee room.” Chalet was dignified.

“You have to learn many things to stay Spetsnaz,” Alexi said.

“Our zecuritee breech eez over. Ve zhould geet back tu Jayde und Cheauflux,” Chalet said.

They walked back to the two. It was amazing to Cheauflux that Jayde acted like she didn't know at all, but knew all too well.


Remy Boedecker was a Cajun with an American profession. Remy was a methamphetamine dealer. He lived deep in the heart of the Everglades—a place where Army rangers wouldn't brave, let alone the local sheriff. He was in Southern comfort.

He was concocting some meth in his trailer, while his whiskey still was brewing some potent moonshine outside of his trailer. He had to keep both contraband away from each other. Being adjacent, a spark could produce a gargantuan fireball, and Remy wanted to keep his eyebrows, not to mention his life.

The whiskey still was around fifty yards away, surrounded by ferns, algae, and Spanish moss. No one could get there, let alone steal his moonshine. Anyone brave enough to navigate the water moccasins, mosquitos, and bobcats earned a swig of his ‘white lightening’.

Remy was deep into cooking his drug, when he heard the alarm he had rigged to his still. Once he heard the alert of pilfering, he grabbed his double barrel shotgun and walked outside. He thought it was another white-tailed deer nibbling on those ferns. At least he'll have supper tonight.

Remy didn't see supper. He saw a mutated gator chewing on his whiskey still! He knew catfish turned into monsters, eating everything spilling at the base of a dam, so mega-gator didn't disturb him in any way. It did look strange, but he wrote that off as the mutation taking effect.

It didn't matter how exotic the gator was. This thing was eating his still, severely crippling his income, and he owned a double barrel. It was gator steaks time.

Remy pointed his shotgun at the large animal.

“Git yer ass away from my still, gator!” Remy yelled.

The monster paid him no attention. Remy never realized the gator's path had no reminiscence of Everglade. It was like the monster mowed the Everglades. Maybe if he saw that, he wouldn't have fired.

That was when he made a choice without evaluating all known variables. He fired at the gator. The spray from the double barrel had limited range, so the buckshot wasn't lethal.

The ‘gator’ finally noticed Remy. It turned toward him, and began to advance.

“What the... that gator should be full of buckshot!” Remy yelled, reloaded, and fired in the gator's face. The buckshot ricocheted off the gator's snout, glanced off its face, and killed some orchids. The gator kept coming.

“Not close enough.” Remy was a speedy shot. He quickly discarded the spent shells, reloaded, and fired once more.

The buckshot deflected again!

Maybe it was the meth, or the moonshine, but instead of running and regrouping, like all other rational people. He got what was called target fixation. Many A-10 Warthog pilots were afflicted with that disease. They locked in on their ground target, and ended up flying on a glide scope for harpooning the ground. None of the pilots survived, so Remy's fate was already sealed.

“Die you giant lizard!” Remy fired once more.

It was closer. The buckshot almost had the same result. Oh, it did bounce off mega-gator's hide. But this time Remy was considered a threat. Mega-gator was only five feet away from Remy, when Remy reloaded, and fired again.

The monster opened its massive jaws, and exposed the roof of its mouth. Remy thought he had an advantage. He reloaded, and fired both barrels into the inside of the monsters throat, hoping that would stop the beast.

Bad news for Remy. The monster swallowed the buckshot, as if it were consuming Chiclets. On the closing of its jaws, the razor sharp teeth caught Remy's left leg! As Remy's shin bone snapped in three places, he screamed a throaty wail. To augment the phrase; when in the heart of the Everglades, nobody can hear you scream.

The agony was swift. The gator continued. It got a vital part in seconds. Remy stopped screaming, because he couldn't anymore. He switched from the go-to drug dealer to Chauzek fodder in an instant. The Chauzek thought nothing of the public service it performed. It just went about cleaning up. It destroyed the still. The trailer was next.


“You have to teach me human quirks,” Cheauflux told Jayde.

Jayde had a confused look on her face. “That's like asking a kid to teach you English. They do it without thinking, they just can't teach it. They grew up knowing English. It's inherent to them. They don't know how to teach what comes natural,” she explained.

“They also don't have teaching skills, but you do. Who else could I go to for help, if you couldn't help me, Jayde?” Cheauflux had desperation in its voice.

Jayde thought about it. Who else that knows what it is could help it? Alexi and Doc weren't from around America, so their knowledge of American idiosyncrasies would be unsubstantiated, not to mention that guessing can't be considered fact. She taught Alexi about the properties of peptides, so why couldn't she teach Cheauflux American mannerisms?

“All right, Cheauflux, since you're a fellow scientist, I'll take a shot at it.”

“You can start right with that statement,” Cheauflux said. “I understand when to say things, I just don't know what they mean. Why would you shoot at your attempt?”

That was when Jayde came up with her curriculum.

“In order to begin to understand human characteristics, you have to master the term figure of speech.” Her cultivation reared its ugly head. “A figure of speech is any expressive use of language as a metaphor. You do know what a metaphor is.”

“A metaphor is a term applied to something that isn't literal, like I said in Cape Canaveral,” Cheauflux recited. “Remember, I'm academically smart, not socially smart.”

“Sorry Cheauflux, when I'm in professor mode, I carpet bomb knowledge,” Jayde said.

“Now, that was a metaphor,” Cheauflux said.

“I have to treat you like a student with Asperger's Syndrome, and stop metaphoring.” Jayde caught herself.

“No, no, keep doing what comes naturally. I'm like a kid myself. Children don't pick up social activities by studying a text book, they imitate their environment. Trust me, I'll learn faster that way,” Cheauflux explained.

“Well, get ready for class, Cheauflux, because I'm going to teach you what I know.” Jayde tried to prepare Cheauflux. It was thirsty, and needed a drink.


This creature was what scientists would consider an alien discoverer, except it didn't want to explore. The Chauzek was, literally, programmed to destroy. The creature would cogitate it as cleaning. Without the attribute of separation, it was acknowledged as destruction. It would take longer without its kindred there to assist it, but none the less, it headed for Naples.

The Naples residents would have no idea the annihilation coming for their town.

The Chauzek finished the last remnants of the meth lab and trailer. It ate a forage toward Naples, help them.

Chapter Seventeen. Ventures Vindicate!

“So, what you are saying is, you take nothing seriously?” Cheauflux asked.

“Not when we're slinging metaphors like a farmer slings chicken feed to the hungry fowl,” Jayde answered.

“Now, you're analogizing! I get the mechanics, I just can't turn the key to get the engine to purr,” Cheauflux said.

“This is going to be easy.” Jayde smiled. “You just used a figure of speech, and analogized in one sentence. You didn't say those things randomly, so you're half way there!”

“I'm just imitating my environment,” Cheauflux claimed.

Jayde felt proud as her teaching skills became celestial. Once the language became copacetic, the lesson was universal. That was when the intercom rang, and drastically altered their instruction.

Alexi was learning as much as Cheauflux, however, duty was more important than learning American mannerisms, so he picked up the receiver.

“Sergeant Doshmononov,” Alexi answered.

“This is General Harper! I hate to ruin your party, Alex, but it may be a premature one! Get Lieutenant Farrow, and Cheauflux! They need to hear this too!” General Harper transmitted.

Alexi quickly waved over Cheauflux and Jayde, who were already on their way.

“Everybody is here, General. What is your news?” Alexi asked.

“We thought we were done, but I just got a call from General Slaydon from Fort Meyers, and a stray is tearing up Naples as we speak! They tried that surplus canister of that strawberry air freshener, to knock it out, but it just ticked it off! We don't know what to do! Godzilla's destroying the city!” Harper was erratic.

Alexi looked dramatically at Cheauflux.

“Ask him if he knows what this Chauzek looks like,” Cheauflux requested.

“Do you know what this Chauzek looks like?” Alexi asked.

“Slaydon said this thing isn't the size of a Rottweiler. It's the size of a mini-van!” Harper said. “The contractors were caught mid-celebration, and they haven't gone home yet. They are waiting for orders! If Cheauflux has any suggestions, they are ready and waiting!”

“That means the Chauzek has gone through an evolutionary process. Tell them to construct another transport, smaller, of course, but sturdier. I will contact them as to what chemical they need to add,” Cheauflux said.

Alexi relayed the message to Harper, said they were in the same boat as he, and that he would get back to Harper. He signed off and replaced the receiver.

“The Cheabeyance stuff you had NASA create isn't working,” Alexi said. “We already know any poison on Earth is ineffective. You got those NASA chemists to make Cheabeyance, can you make Turbo-Cheabeyance?” Alexi asked.

“There is no such substance as Turbo-Cheabeyance, and I'm not an inventor,” Cheauflux said. “This Chauzek evolved on your planet. Our species compute evolution. When there is a threat, our evolution corrects that threat, so no matter what you call it, Cheabeyance, even the most potent, would be useless now,” Cheauflux explained the foreboding news.

“I thought the old Chauzek were impossible to defeat, this new one is unrestricted,” Jayde said.

“Jou people ur not tinking,” Chalet entered their doomed discussion. ”Zee Chauzek eevolved to kombat zee 'uman eelemeent, vit Cheasu chemeekalz. Jou zhould eevolve jour ztragetey vit eet.”

“I think your accent is getting thicker, Doc, because I can't understand a word you're saying,” Jayde spoke to Chalet.

“Naychure eez an amazeeng force, but naychure steel 'as ruwellz,” Chalet said.

“Okay, Doc, I'm reverting back to the student. What are you talking about?” Jayde asked.

“Zeez eez zee first time eet eevolved, un eet eevolved on Earz tu kombat Valan-Cheanaus teknologee. Eet never 'ad tu kombat Earzan teknologee. Eet eez eendeegeenuz to zis planeet. Joost go tu zee ochean vor zee mozt poteent poison,” Chalet explained.

“I understand your theory,” Cheauflux said. “Evolution is a powerful, but efficient force. It won't keep safety protocols from what it doesn't need. It will have those protocols inherently, but since they haven't been used since we stranded them on this planet, those protocols are sleeping!”

“Und zee eevoluzion poot zem deeper tu zleep!” Chalet explained. “Now, I know jou 'aven't zee zlightest idea vat ur zee deadlieezt aneemalz on zis planeet, zo I'll eenlighteen jou. Zey ur ze ztone und poofer feesh,” Chalet said.

“Even I know the stone and puffer fish are dangerous. That's the main reason I won't have that Korean delicacy. That could be the most uncomfortably, deadly dinner you'll terminally eat,” Jayde said. “So, you think fish poison can kill this thing?”

“Not keel eet. Zee protocalz ur zteel akteeve, zo eet vill knock eet ut, like zee alien droog. Ve kinot teezt eet, zo ve dun't know 'ow loong eet vill lazt, zo teel jour kuntraktorz to breeng zee zhip veet zem tu Naples.” Chalet wanted to leave no stone unturned.

Alexi still had the use of the SEAL team, so he ordered them to capture a few stone and puffer fish. They were lucky to be stationed in Belize, so they didn't have to go far to net the fish. Exotic aqua-life was what Belize was famous for. It took several hours, but they hauled in a few schools of those fish. This was the personification of ‘deadliest catch’.

They had to get to work quickly. Cheauflux went back to NASA to tell them the animus. The contractors were welding a mini version of their transport. The blueprints was congenitally in their minds, so they turned their work into an assembly line. It told them the new subduing drug was being invented in Belize, and to bring their packs along with the ship. They also needed to add some spice to their recipe, so Chalet called Syria.


Captain Issan Asahdi was a pilot at Khalkhala Air Force Base in Syria. He was contracted to transport extremely hazardous material to Belize, Central America. He had to scramble, but be incredibly careful. He was shipping dangerous acetylcholinesterace inhibitor effluvium. The laymen term for the substance was VX gas, the most dangerous nerve agent ever synthesized. It caused a runny nose, muscle convulsions, tightness of the chest, sweating, miosis (pinpointing of the pupils), and eventually, cardiac arrest. It had what was called bad juju. It was some pretty nasty stuff.

Captain Asahdi was brave enough to haul the hellion overseas, and smart enough not to ask why. Whatever they were going to use it for, this stuff would definitely ruin your day. The less you knew about it, the longer you'd live. Issan liked living. The only cause for his demise would be natural causes. He seemed more frightened of his friends than he was of his enemies. That was a smart choice for his longevity.

This was a departure from all the bomb and mine defusing, the boring stuff. He was thirsty to play craps with Mephistopheles, and Beelzebub was available, so he shook his dice in the underworld.

He was lucky VX gas wasn't volatile, because it didn't explode when he hit violent turbulence.

It would have only been one Syrian casualty, because he had no co-pilots. Nobody wanted to play Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun. Issan didn't care. He would kick the Devil out of Hell, because his rent was due.

Issan wasn't crazy, he was meticulous in deadly situations. He had a healthy diet of instability and the treacherously wicked. He sounded like a certain Spetsnaz commando we know of.

Issan had to fly over a tropical depression. He was near the ceiling of his C-130 Hercules. It was strange, but he understood why a lone pilot flew a C-130 across the Atlantic. He had four days of crew rest prior to this assignment. He was wondering how his leaders would have disposed of this illegal substance, if Belize hadn't ordered a batch. You couldn't just toss this in the trash, and burying it in the ground would contaminate Syria for years. Even their leaders wouldn't call that process ‘disposal’. They dodged a bullet on that one.

Issan saw the beautiful sky above, and the dastardly clouds below. He was flying in Heaven’s Envelope, where wind shear and turbulence had no existence. He was in aviator bliss.

It only took eight hours to fly the journey from Syria to Belize. To a normal pilot, it would have been like an angry razorback pacing behind your back for eight hours, and you could do nothing about it, except prepare for death. Issan wasn't most pilots. He was as calm as a still pond when he landed at Belize International Airport.

The soldiers that were assigned to Belize were waiting to unload the plane, and reload the VX gas shipment in the cafeteria. Captain Asahdi released the rear cargo hatch of the plane.

“I heard this stuff is deadly, Gunny!” a Marine corporal said.

“You better proceed with caution, Son. I don't want to call your folks, and tell them you died coughing up a lung on a training exercise!” Gunny Cartwright said. The Marines brought Basic. They were the only ones available for such a quick exercise.

The soldiers ascended the ramp, and slowly, carefully unloaded the C-130. They got the entire shipment on the tarmac, and waited for Captain Asahdi to get clearance to take off. Gunny Cartwright altered those intentions by boarding the plane to talk to Captain Asahdi.

“You know this mission is on a need to know basis, correct?” Cartwright asked.

“All I know is I'm delivering Risk board games to the troops, Sergeant,” Asahdi said, knowing the consequence of a big mouth. That ‘natural causes’ death wouldn't be a contender anymore if he didn't.

Cartwright put his hand on Asadhi's shoulder. “I know this is going to sound funny coming from a gunny, but great response, Sir.”

As they finished refueling the plane, Cartwright exited the aircraft, and watched Captain Asahdi taxi to the runway. The C-130 shook the ground as it headed back to Syria. The crew chiefs safety checked the C-130 before Captain Asahdi took off, as the soldiers unloaded the cargo, so Captain Asahdi didn't get to sightsee.

It mattered not to him. Completing the mission was vacation enough.

“All right ladies, time to move this ingredient to the mess hall. The scientists are itchin' to add some flavor to their concoction!” Gunny Cartwright was ready to keep the ball rolling.

The soldiers snapped to. Some of them branched out, and acquired two fork lifts. The others, carefully, loaded the VX gas on to the fork lifts, and escorted the deadly elixir to the mess hall.

The scientists, led by Doctor Chalet, looked like dogs waiting for their treats. All of them trained under Chalet, so they looked like the Belize Olympic Weightlifting team in white coats. There were certain perks working under the Darwin Warrior.

They made the soldiers look like kids, effortlessly picking up the boxes, and disappearing down the hall.

Nobody knew where they were going, and nobody cared. As long as the soldiers were successful in completing their job, they were happy. It was time for the scientists to get to work, and they were chomping at the bit.

Alexi saw the scientist transport the VX gas into the laboratory. Chalet walked beside him.

“Ower cuncokshun needed a leetle zalt,” Chalet told Alexi. “Ve 'ave a dash uv VX gas to make eet zpizey.”

“VX gas was considered illegal by the United Nations because of its barbarism,” Jayde said.

“That stuff reminds me of a Russian warfare chemical the United Nations labeled illegal, it is called Novichok. It can convulse your body like a discarded, crumpled sheet from a writer with another idea,” Alexi sounded gruesome.

“This planet has interesting ways of upsetting your life,” she said.

“You are being nice, Jayde, Your American accent has you mispronouncing ‘upsetting’. I think you pronounce that word ‘prekrashchat'’,” Alexi said.

“That word is pronounced ‘terminate’ in English,” Cheauflux added that comment to their conversation. “This may be the correct evolutionary state humans need to be in to change their fate.”

“Are you saying violence is a good thing?” Jayde asked in disbelief.

“Let me rephrase my statement, so you understand,” Cheauflux said. “Your race is at a vulnerable point in your existence, and it is beneficial for your people that you can use defense to propagate your species.”

“I understand what you're saying, however, you must admit our defense is severely mordacious,” she said.

“Yes, your buttress has bite, but as you have said before; it's a human thing, I wouldn't understand,” Cheauflux admitted.

“Zee droog vill be readee een a 'alf 'our.” Chalet walked up to Jayde and Cheauflux. “Teel jour kuntraktorz to muv zee zheep, viretrookz, und cuntaynurz tu Naplez. Ve vill feel zem oop zhere.”

“So, your witch's brew is almost ready?” she asked.

“Akvire zome tankurz vrom zee motur pool, und ve kin geet un zee aiyrkavt kareeur zee prezeedint zent vor uz,” Chalet explained. “Und I am goeeng tu make zure eet iz dune right.”

“A gas station attendant can fill a tank, Doc. You just want to get out of the lab, and see us take out Super-Chauzek,” Jayde said.

“Zee onlee diverunz iz, petroleum vont eeat jour vace uff, und jes, avter all zis verk, I vant tu zee ze Chauzek geet bote baeelz,” Chalet said.

No one even realized Cheauflux had left. The only thing that brought attention to its absence was its return.

“The contractors and the equipment have departed for Naples already, so I went to General Harper's Humvee to tell him we will meet them there. I take it you are using tankers, loaded on to an aircraft carrier?” Cheauflux wanted to confirm the modus operandi.

“You got it, Cheauflux.” Jayde had a determined look on her face, “Forward to Naples!”


The soldiers from Fort Meyers were at Defense Condition One. They were the Calvary that came storming into Naples to stop whatever menace threatening Naples. The taxpayers paid for the Army's protection. They didn't ask for it many times, but at least, the Army was ready at a moment's notice. This time, it wasn't warriors coming to the rescue, it was more like throwing dry twigs into an inferno. All they wanted to do was to keep the leviathan titan occupied until the avengers arrived. That was where the real firepower was coming from. At this point, it was like throwing pebbles at a renegade supertanker. The soldiers were trying.

One soldier blocked the beast with an M1 A1 Abrams tank. He blocked Main Street with the Abrams, popped the hatch, and egressed quickly.

The monster had eaten a few SUVs, some cars, and a few delivery trucks. The soldiers wondered where everything went. It was the size of a minivan. Four entire sports utility vehicles, six cars, and two delivery trucks would cause the behemoth to explode, but along with a couple of brick buildings, it kept eating!

The military didn't quit because they were guaranteed to dive in acid, and they, bravely, put on their swim trunks.

Specialist Vasquez was a TOW missile operator. The Tube-launched Optically tracked Wire-guided weapon was useless against the beast, but she kept firing. She was hitting it on its side with Sabot rounds; armor piercing, tank busting rounds that would destroy a T-88 tank with reactive armor, an explosive armor that mitigates the damage of Sabot missiles. Hitting that monster was the equivalent of underhand tossing jellybeans at Mount Vesuvius when it was active. She didn't even tickle the thing.

It didn't notice those Sabots, but it did see that M1 blocking the road.

This was the first time the soldiers stopped their barrage so they could witness what they were up against.

The Chauzek walked to the Abrams, and began to eat the cannon barrel! It crunched like a Chik-O-Stick. The carbonium barrel snapped in its teeth like a candy stick. It started with the barrel, and continued to the treads. That beast had an efficient way of breaking track on the M1. It was efficient, just not feasible. Every tank soldier was in awe at the snapping of the tank's treads. They knew how hard it was to change the tack on an M1 Abrams, and it just snapped it like a taut rubber band against sharp scissors.

It didn't stop there. It wasn't repairing it, the monster was ingesting it! The body of the tank was its next morsel. It chomped and crunched the body like potato chips. It kept going. Armor, tracks, barrel, grills, shells and all.

The soldiers were amazed. Not about the military's best ground weapon being eaten like Cool Ranch Doritos, but how a minivan sized creature could eat a massive M1 A1 Abrams tank, and still have an appetite!

One soldier caught himself. “Why is the battlefield quiet!? We have a demon to take out!” That was when he fired his AT-4 Anti-tank rocket. The smoke trail acted like a starter’s pistol. The Army started up the barrage once more.

M-16 assault rifles, M-60 machine guns, M2 Browning Ma Deuce .50 calibers, TOWs, grenade launchers, and anti-tank rocket launchers. They all kept pelting the Chauzek to no avail. The military went as far as to bring two mobile Howitzers. They aimed the cannons in a duet of devastation. They both fired at once, to dwarf the sounds of the Blitzkrieg.

Both the missiles hit at the same time. The impact and concussion gouged divots of road and buildings into colossal, smoky debris.

Once the smoke cleared, it was seen that the impact had pushed the Chauzek backward a few feet, but the Leviathan was unscathed.

The military was dumbfounded. Two of those Howitzers could sink a destroyer! Those cannons just pushed that monster. They couldn't even knock it over!

The battle wasn't going the way they planned. Naples had more damage from the Army than from the demon! The military's philosophy was to destroy everything and let God sort it out, unfortunately for the military, everything was destroyed except their intended target. It was, proverbially, sitting pretty.

The military had no concept of insanity. Doing the same thing in the same situation, hoping for a different result was sensible in their eyes. They kept going. They had no choice.

The Army attacked in shifts, as the Chauzek advanced. They slowed it down by slinging Bradley fighting vehicles its way. That was one constant the Army could rely on, the Chauzek's appetite. It gobbled them with fervor. It wanted more. The diversionary tactic was expensive, but successful. All they had to do was keep feeding it Bradley vehicles. They had an entire squadron left. They just hoped they wouldn't run out.


The Belize team was well on their way. They had two tankers filled with their witch's brew (those things would have to be destroyed after the melee), and the contractors were already on their way. Their only problem, was time. How long could the Army hold off the Chauzek before it obliterated property and people? Would the contractors be acting against the foe, or watching the carnage? This was where the animus got murky.

Cheauflux had a different idea.

“We are well away from the coast, Captain Yaunch. Is everyone ready for a travel technique I call tele-migration?” it asked.

“What on Earth is tele-migration?” Jayde asked.

“That's the oddity; it's nothing on Earth,” Cheauflux said. “Tele-migration is a quantum physics form of travel. It takes your molecules, transports them, and reassembles you in another location, instantly. I have done it, internally, since I have been to your planet. My celestial conveyance has enough endowment to tele-migrate this entire aircraft carrier. You may get queasy, but trust me, the method saves enormous amounts of time.”

“Now, I believe these soldiers are just getting used to having an encounter with a xenomorph. I don't think they're ready to dabble in alien technology.” Jayde became a tad nervous.

“I can get them to dabble. It is like being a jump master the first time a soldier dives.” Alexi was confident.

Jayde remembered him yelling her phobia out of her. “He can do it, Cheauflux, trust me.”

“I will leave the troops in your capable hands, Sergeant Doshmononov. Please alert me when they're ready.” Cheauflux gave Alexi the floor.

Alexi smiled, and told Captain Yaunch to tell everyone to file on deck.

Captain Yaunch gave an ‘all call’ over the ship's speakers, and set the carrier on auto-pilot. He wanted to see Alexi at work, so he followed Alexi to the upper deck.

All the troops filed onto the lower deck, where all the F-14 Tomcats, F-15 Eagles, and A-6 Intruders were positioned. They filed, but were extremely curious.

Alexi walked to the balcony of the upper deck. The captain, lieutenant, and Cheauflux were behind him. Captain Yaunch handed Alexi a microphone. Alexi shook his head to refuse it. Yaunch looked at all the troops waiting for the information, and heard just the distant hum of the engines. The breeze disrupted the sound. He figured a sergeant could overcome that dulled droning, and get his point across to the troops, especially when they were quiet enough to listen.

Alexi's Slavic accent made him sound menacing, gravely intense, and rough.


Everyone was aghast, and dismayed. This Russian soldier had the stones to tell them what to do! The only soldier to yell at them that way was their drill sergeant. That was when they realized, no matter what country you hail from, if you were an ally, soldiers respected rank. Even officers understood the chain of command when it came down to a combat mission. Nobody had a query.


As they were dispersing, Captain Yaunch walked up to Alexi. “I haven't seen a drill sergeant motivate a company like that.”

“When you are Spetsnaz, respect dwarfs all opinions and prejudices,” Alexi said.

“When you think about it, when you're in the military, it's not a democracy, it's a dictatorship.”

“I have experienced both, and a dictatorship works better in the military,” Alexi determined.

“Told you he was a soldier. I don't care where he's from; soldiering is in the blood. He's probably going to retire a soldier,” Jayde told Captain Yaunch, as they all walked back to the control room.

“Some soldiers worry about being short, but Sergeant Doshmononov wouldn't know what to do when retiring becomes mandatory,” Yaunch said.

“He's going to be that grizzly, old vet telling war stories,” she said.

“This is going to be one for the books.” Yaunch walked into the control room.

Cheauflux went to the lower decks to contact his ship. Alexi felt proud commanding troops from another country. They were allies fighting for the same cause, so they respected the tenure.

“So, nobody was iffy about your command?” Jayde asked.

“Military reverence trumps umbrage,” Alexi said. “There are not any Latino, Nubian, Jewish, Armenian, Or Ukrainian soldiers, there are justgreensoldiers.”

Jayde admired his attitude. She thought she owned the racism card. She never realized racism was universal.

If Daddy gets angry with me for hooking up with a Russian, then he becomes the thing he fought all his life against, she thought. Having a good man was rare. At least she was interested in someone of her own species.

“Lieutenant Farrow, could you tell Cheauflux he better transport the soldiers before the natives get restless,” Alexi said. “I have learned some American analogies also.”

Jayde smiled at Alexi. “Here's another. You're batting a thousand on your analogies, Sergeant Doshmononov. I'll be back with Cheauflux quicker than you could shake a stick. I'm American, I can drop some analogies.”

“I can see that, lieutenant Farrow. I will be on the upper deck,” Alexi said.

“You're a doctor, Chalet. I know they've only met a month ago, but can you see the chemistry between them?” Yaunch asked.

Chalet smiled, because he knew their chemistry was carnal in nature, but he was a master at keeping a secret.

“Zey ur joost zoljerz verkink vor ze zame tink,” Chalet diverted him.

Jayde went down to the lower holds, and found Cheauflux. It was calibrating neon templates in the air.

“Is that how you contact your ship?” she asked.

“This is the Cheasu version of a cellphone, I'm just never out of range.” Cheauflux kept calculating.

Jayde marveled for a second, and then she remembered why she found Cheauflux in the first place.

“Alexi told me to tell you, everybody's ready,” she said.

Cheauflux swiped the air, as if erasing a virtual chalkboard. “The preparation for tele-migration is complete. Are you ready Jayde?” it asked.

Jayde was jittery. “Have you ever done this with a human before?”

“How does your species display disbelieving awe?” Cheauflux asked. “I haven't even thought about tele-migrating a human, until we were pressed for time! I know you're uptight that I've never attempted this. Just understand, this teleportation will not kill you. Oh, you're definitely going to, how do you analogize this one, lose your lunch, but you won't die.”

“That's what I'm afraid of, Cheauflux, vomiting in front of the entire crew,” she said.

“You don't have to worry about the crew,” Cheauflux told her. “Everybody is going to vomit.”

“Remind me later to show you how to comfort someone,” she said.

“I just stated a fact,” it said.

“Sometimes you have to omit the facts, and lie. Even if we know it's not true, we like to cling to that,” she said.

“I'll never get humans,” Cheauflux stated. “Your entire race doesn't mind living in a paradox.”

“Just... come on, and take us for a ride on the Vomit Comet,” she said.

They began walking to the upper deck.

Chapter Eighteen. This Just Got Real

“Is everyone ready!?” Alexi yelled over the company. “If not, we will not wait for you! This will happen!”

Cheauflux moved to the balcony. It sounded as if he had an omnipresent bullhorn.


“All right, I think they are prepared,” Alexi said.

“How do humans prepare for something they have never witnessed, or experienced before?” Cheauflux asked. “How do they change their physiology to compensate for the unknown?”

“We have this fallacy, we can prepare for anything, as long as an authority figure tells them to,” Jayde said.

“I speculate it would disturb them if they knew the tele-migrator has never done this before, and aside from knowing this is not deadly, has no clue of the results?” Cheauflux asked.

“We just won't tell them that bit of information. We also have another practice. We call it psyching ourselves up, but that practice is severely limited, time wise, so flip the switch before we lose our psyche,” Jayde said.

Cheauflux decided she was right. Why prolong the anguish of an inevitable process? He contacted his mother ship, and began the tele-migration.

Cheauflux was correct. The teleportation was instantaneous, and no one died. The crew was safe, except extremely sick.

Every one of every rank, North American, Icelandic, Honduran, Russian, French, South American, everybody threw up.

All the pancakes, eggs, protein bars, bacon, hash browns, last night's beer, everything returned. And splatted onto the deck.

Cheauflux displayed slight concern for Jayde. “Are you all right, Lieutenant?”

“It feels like I have severe flu and PMS, tripled, at the same time!” she yelled, bent over. “The first time you made initial contact with me, I wanted to shoot you, but I didn't have my gun. At this point, you're lucky I still don't have my gun!”

Cheauflux was confused. It had told her what was going to happen. She was the only one to know of the consequences, yet, she still was angry.

“Why did you not tell us about this!?” It seemed as though Alexi was upset also.

“If I told you about the inevitable vomiting, what good would it have done?” Cheauflux asked.

They all heard the barrage the Army was dishing out to the Chauzek. It sounded like D-day on the beaches of Normandy, except it was emanating from downtown Naples.

Alexi put his hand on the rail, and watched the one-sided battle.

“At least that tele-migration thing worked,” Alexi said. “If it did not, I know you can swim, but you were going into the gulf, inevitably.”

“Scramble your team... ugh, that's not a good word to use, at this point. Assemble your company to storm ashore, to assist!” Jayde exclaimed.

“I have business at hand now, alien, but when this is over, I am going to kick your ass!” Alexi was still upset.

“That will be an impossibility, Sergeant,” Cheauflux said. “I don't have an ass.”

“I will find something to kick!” Alexi yelled. He began to yell at the company. “EVERYONE SCRAM... ADVANCE TO YOUR BATTLE SKIFFS, AND HIT THE SHORE TO ASSIST!”

Most of the company bounded towards their battle skiffs, lowered them into the water with a full crew, and advanced to the shore.

The others of the company were the inspectors. Everything in the military had to be ship-shape, including the ship. The grabbed the mops, and literally swabbed the deck.

“Your company will have more pressing matters than attacking me, Sergeant,” Cheauflux said.

“I have to drop those tankers on the pier,” Alexi said. His anger switched to accomplishing his task. “Captain Yaunch, can you position this aircraft carrier close enough to transfer those tankers?” Alexi asked.

“You're good at jumping out of planes, I'm good at positioning aircraft carriers,” Yaunch touted.

Alexi smiled, and nodded. He left for the garage under the deck. He jumped into a portable crane, and moved it to the elevator platform. He grabbed another crane, and moved it next to the other crane. He got out, and pressed the lift button. The cranes lifted top-side. Another captain assisted him.

Alexi and Captain Willow drove the crane to the edge of the deck, beside the tankers. They both got out, and attached the crane chains to the base of both tankers.

Once they were balanced and attached, Alexi look towards the shore. That was when he thought Captain Yaunch should've been commended, because if they were any closer, the carrier would've ran aground. Captain Yaunch was proactive also. There was a crew on the pier ready to receive the tankers.

Alexi looked at Captain Willow. “You direct me on the lowering of the tanker, and then we will switch.”

“You got it, Sergeant,” Willow acknowledged.

Alexi jumped in the crane, and began to lift the tanker. Captain Willow guided him onto the pier. A Mack truck backed up to the tanker, and Alexi slowly lowered the tanker onto the back cab of the truck. The rest of the crew began fastening hoses, and cords. The tanker was ready to move out quickly.

The diver moved his tanker truck out of the way so the next truck could back up and receive the next tanker. Alexi jumped out of the crane, and switched roles. Captain Willow assumed Alexi's assignment. Both tankers were ready to move to battle.

The crew was almost quaked off their feet when a Howitzer fired, and contacted the monster.

Alexi witnessed the devastation of the Howitzer. He also witnessed the resilience of the impregnable Chauzek, as the smoke cleared and it was unscathed.

“We really have to get down there,” Alexi said to himself.

He ran across the deck, and upstairs to the control tower. He burst through the door and addressed the soldiers, doctor, and Cheauflux.

“I pressed the lowering ramp. It should be on the pier when we get down there! We have to join the fight!” Alexi had desperation on his face.

Everyone followed Alexi to the ramp. They shuffled off, and stood on the pier. Some soldiers from the motor pool were there.

“We understand this is a combat situation, and you don't salute in this scenario! We are here to escort you to General Slaydon!” one of the soldiers said.

They got into the Humvee. A soldier felt strange trying to put Cheauflux in the vehicle.

“Do not worry about transporting Cheauflux. It will be there before we are,” Alexi explained.

“Does it walk?” the soldier asked.

“It tele-migrates, the Cheasu way of walking,” Alexi said.

The soldier didn't understand, and didn't want to. They got into the Humvee, and drove to General Slaydon. Cheauflux was waiting for them.

“General Harper, the firefighters and contractors are right around the corner, about two miles out. How did you get here so quick?” Slaydon asked,

“Cheauflux didn't tell you, Sir?” Jayde asked.

“He didn't ask me,” Cheauflux said.

Jayde had an irritated look on her face. “We had some xenomorph prestidigitation, called tele-migration, General. We teleported here.”

“I’m at the point where wonder packed its bags with marvel. With us fighting that mini-leviathan, nothing surprises me anymore. That thing is smaller than Godzilla, but it really can take a punch!” Slaydon said.

A ranger burst into the tent. “I think you need to see this, General!”

General Slaydon rose and exited the tent. To the left of the Chauzek, many pick-up trucks, and an army of bikers were entering from the side.

“We’re getting drowned with rednecks, Sir!” the ranger said.

One of the men from the lead pick-up drove in front of General Slaydon, and stepped out.

“Who's in charge here!?” the leader asked.

“I'm General Slaydon. I'm in charge here!” Slaydon revealed.

“That thang killed and ate Remy! We want ta offer our services ta help you end that bastard's day!” The Everglades Militia leader said. “We got our thirty-odd 6’s, and Cleatus is a mechanic! He can fix anythang! We're willing and able! Just point us in the right direction!”

“Get on the front line, gentlemen. You can't kill it, but you can occupy it!” Slaydon ordered.

“Just don't go near its teeth, Bartlemy,” Cheauflux instructed.

“I aint even askin' what you are, but since you're on this side of the fence, I'll listen to ya!” Bartlemy said.

“How did you know his name?” Jayde asked, believing he could read minds.

“I heard one of his motorcycle friends call his name earlier. I anticipate emotions, I'm not psychic,” Cheauflux quelled her curiosity.

“With all the stuff you have been doing, being psychic isn't a big leap,” she said.

That was when General Harper and the calvary came riding in. The gang was all here.

Harper jumped out of his Humvee, and addressed General Slaydon.

“You been dangling the carrot, Slaydon?” Harper shook his hand.

“We've been maintaining, while your people were doing their hair. What took you so long?” Slaydon asked.

“Are you on your menstrual cycle, Slaydon? It takes a minute to drive down yonder,” Harper said.

“Just lock and load your crew,” Slaydon said.

One tanker filled the ship, and tanks. The other was set for ramming speed. They had more than enough to fill the equipment. Brickmann lead his fire team to the front of the line, and they put on their masks.

“All right everyone, drench this sucker!” Brickmann yelled, put on his gas mask, and squeezed the trigger.

The spray wasn't misty. It felt as if they were spraying motor oil. They covered the Chauzek—more like painted it.

“Everybody hold, and retreat! Lopez is going to give it a present!” Brickmann yelled.

Everybody cut off their hoses, and ran back behind some barricades. It was Lopez's turn.

Lopez pulled on the horn to announce to all they were about to see the finale.

He began to drive at breakneck speeds towards the Chauzek. He picked up velocity, and aimed it at the Chauzek's side.

Pablo was a stuntman before he became a NASA firefighter. If he was going to do something dangerous, he wanted to make a difference. He wanted to hear an astronaut's heartbeat more so than all the oohs, and ahhs.

It was time for Pablo to jump out. Being a stuntman taught you how to fall, so Lopez tucked and rolled. The tanker crashed into the Chauzek.

Lopez pulled out a walkie-talkie. “Contact! Blow it!”

The tanker was laced with a slew of C-4 bars. The soldiers detonated the tanker! The explosion was so devastating, it leveled every building in the downtown area. Thank goodness everyone was protected by an explosion field administered by Cheauflux's mother ship. If they weren't, all the humans would be as leveled as those buildings were.

The smoke was clearing, and the contractors were waiting to haul the Chauzek onto their ship so they could send it away.

After the ravaging shockwave, after all the leveled buildings, after all the flattened vehicles, the smoke dissipated. The Chauzek didn't have a gaping hole in it! It didn't even have a laceration! After all that work, bupkis!

Jayde got desperate. She began to search her memory, to find the Chauzek's weakness.

The hide is impenetrable, that's apparent from that heart stopping blast. The only thing that stopped the other Chauzeks was putting them to sleep. This new elixir isn't a gas, it's an oily liquid! That's the reason we can’t put it to sleep! You inhale gas, not oil! We don't even know where this things nostrils are, or even if it has nostrils! At least we know the beast has a mouth! She thought.

“General Slaydon, who is your best TOW Operator?” Jayde asked.

“We've hit that thing with dual Howitzers, and we didn't even ruffle its feathers, what on Earth can a TOW do?” he asked.

“We're performing surgery with a chain saw, not a scalpel! I just need an accurate surgeon!” she exclaimed.

General Slaydon got on the radio. “Sergeant Willis, this is General Slaydon. Get me Specialist Vasquez!” He requested, more like ordered over the radio.

“Your surgeon is coming right up, Farrow,” Slaydon said.

“Are there any tools from the motor pool?” she asked.

“We have all the tools, what do you need?” Slaydon asked.

“I don't know. Just bring the entire tool box, get me a mechanic, and a crazy soldier,” she said.

What was she planning? Well, she's been intimate with these things, so her scheme would be the most viable one.

Slaydon called for all of her components.

“Where are your TOWs?” she asked.

“The TOW stations are seventy five meters that way.” Slaydon pointed to the left.

Jayde ran to the TOW station. “Lieutenant Farrow, I need one of your TOW missiles!”

“Those ain’t light, Ma'am. I'll get Contreras to carry it for you,” The TOW Commander said.

Contreras was a thick, bulky gentleman. He dead-lifted the missile.

“Where to, Ma'am?” Contreras asked.

“Take it to General Slaydon's tent!” she ordered.

“Yes Ma'am!” Contreras hoisted the missile on his shoulder, and began walking towards the General's tent.

Jayde knew that missile was about two hundred pounds, but Contreras wasn't strained at all.

As they got the missile back to the tent, Jayde asked. “How often do you work out, Soldier?”

“Every day, Ma'am,” Contreras said. “I'm actually upset because we have to deal with this, and it's interrupting my weight lifting session.”

“Well, at least you got to lift that missile seventy five meters,” Jayde said.

“That was just a tease, Ma'am. That just pumps me up more to work out,” Contreras said.

“I have a certain doctor I want you to meet. He's not a head doctor, he just works out every day also. After this, I think you two would get along,” she said. “Just put that brick down here.”

Contreras placed the missile where she pointed. Just then, the mechanic came into the tent with his tools.

“Great timing, Sergeant...” Jayde began.

“Catapon Ma'am, Sergeant Catapon,” the soldier finished her statement.

“Can you take off this panel, Sergeant?” She pointed to the missile.

“That panel’s fastened with a hex, Ma'am. I have that tool in my box.” Catapon reached in his toolbox, and pulled out a hexagonal screwdriver. As he began to open the panel, another soldier entered.

He saluted. “Corporal Dawson, Sir! You requested a soldier who cares more about the mission, than himself? I'm your man, Sir!”

“I'm the one that needs you, Soldier,” Jayde said. “I need for you to fill this canister Sergeant Catapon will dismantle, with that deadly substance coming from that tanker.”

“Affirmative, Ma'am!” Dawson said.

“Uh, we have a problem, Ma'am,” Catapon said. “I'm a motor pool Sergeant. If it's not from a deuce and a quarter, or a Humvee, I don't know how to take anything off.”

Just when Jayde's plan was working smoothly, it hit a snag. She couldn't do it! She had never seen a TOW missile! 11 Hotel wasn't her MOS (Military Occupational Specialty)! What was she going to do?

General Slaydon got on the radio again. “Send a soldier to the front line, and ask for Cleatus, the mechanic, and bring him to my tent!”

He looked at Jayde, and explained. “Cleatus is a local. He can tweak the carburetor on a tractor, and check the nitrous oxide mixture of a funny car, I think he can take that canister out.”

Specialist Vasquez entered the tent, and saluted. “Specialist Vasquez, Sir!”

“We hit a snag, Vasquez,” Jayde said. “Sergeant Catapon can't and won't touch the guts of a TOW missile, and I understand, so we have a civilian mechanic you can direct in the dismantling of this canister.”

“I've been an anti-tank operator two years, Ma'am. As long as we have the tools, and a seasoned mechanic, I can show him how to pull, and replace the canister,” she said with pride.

They got back on track. They had to stop, and clear the rails, but they kept on.

The military wasn't quiet. Although they knew their firepower inflicted no damage, it did keep the Chauzek occupied. All the bullets, grenades, and missiles kept coming.

They even had some F-18 Interceptors from the carrier firing some Sidewinders, and some Apaches dropping Hellfires over the Chauzek. Although it made no difference, the missiles kept it there.

Another soldier entered the tent.

He saluted. “Private Cho, General Slaydon! I have found Cleatus, Sir!”

“Well, get him in here, Son,” Slaydon ordered.

“Yes Sir!” Cho stepped out for a second, and then Cleatus entered.

“I heard ya need me ta change the oil on a tank or sumthin',” Cleatus said.

“I need you to pull this canister, Cleatus.” Jayde pointed to the missile compartment.

Cleatus looked into the compartment, and smiled.

“Gettin' dat canister out taint gon be nutin'! Imo need a philips, a vice grip, and a dent puller.”

Catapon was happy, because he had all those things. He reached into his toolbox and pulled out all the items.

“Tank 'e, Buddy,” Cleatus went to work. Specialist Vasquez didn't need to direct Cleatus in anything.

It was clicking again. This was the occasion for time consuming preparation all for a second of result.

It didn't take long for Cleatus to free the canister. He gave it to Dawson.

“We don't need Dawson to commit suicide bringing that canister back up here, so Contreras, bring the missile to the tanker,” Jayde ordered.

Contreras picked up the missile, and followed Dawson's run to the tanker. The rest followed.

It took a few minutes for a contractor to fill the canister.

“Why are we fillin' that canister?” Cleatus asked Jayde.

“That canister is used for spreading napalm on enemy troops. We’re going to use it for a different, but similar, effective strategy,” she said.

Contreras got to the tanker just as the canister was full. He sat the missile down. Cleatus stepped in and placed the canister, carefully. Contreras lifted the missile as if it were a newborn. They all walked, quickly, back to the TOW Station.

“So Contreras, you brought back an entourage,” The TOW commander said.

“Very funny, McKay. I have a pizza with anchovies for the creature,” Contreras said.

“Well, lock and load, soldier!” McKay said.

Contreras attached the wire, and loaded the missile.

“You haven't said anything, Cheauflux, why?” Jayde asked it.

“I observed everything you have done. I know what you are going to do, and your method. Everything was correct, so why interject anything?” Cheauflux answered the question with a question.

“Will this work?” Jayde asked.

“Again, Jayde. I'm an alien, not a fortune teller. I'm on the same pins and needles as you are,” Cheauflux said.

Jayde smiled. It was time for Dawson to become the lunatic he has touted.

“Okay, Dawson, time to get all Section 8. See that Bradley fighting vehicle?” Jayde asked.

“Yes Ma'am!” Dawson yelled.

“I need some Kamikaze action from you! I need you to drive that Bradley, directly into that things mouth. When it closes prematurely, back up, and get the hell outa there!” Jayde said.

There was no hesitation from Dawson. He just tore off to the Bradley.

Jayde ran to Vasquez. “Are you an accurate launcher, Vasquez?”

“I can knock a beer can off a fence at three hundred meters, Ma'am,” Vasquez said.

“If you can do that, you can do this,” Jayde said. “When the Chauzek opens its mouth, fire this missile down its throat!”

“Aint nuthin' but a thang, Ma'am!” Vasquez smiled, and set herself to fire her TOW.

I hope this works, God, Jayde thought, and silently prayed.

Dawson looked as if he were street racing towards the Chauzek's mouth. He dodged all the debris strewn about from the previous blast, and barreled towards the Chauzek's mouth.

The Chauzek saw him, and heard his horn blaring. It did the inherent thing by opening its mouth.

“Now Vasquez!” Jayde yelled, and Vasquez fired.

The round screamed across the battlefield, and landed in the Chauzeks throat.

The Chauzek automatically closed its mouth. That was when Dawson hit the brakes, turned around, and hightailed it out of there.

The round exploded. It was a muffled boom, but they heard it.

That was when it happened. The Chauzek had never felt that way. After the explosion, it began to get drowsy!

The beast dropped, and was beginning to lose consciousness. It had definitely slowed down. It was evolved on Earth. It emitted a rumbling sound that vibrated the brick shards nearest its mouth.

“I can't believe it!” General Slaydon said. “We got that thing snoring!”

That was when the cheer exploded across downtown Naples.

“We knocked that thing out!” Vasquez said.

“Youknocked that thing out,” Jayde told her.

“You had the plan, Lieutenant, I just pulled the trigger, Ma'am,” Vasquez said.

The contracting team raced to get the Chauzek into the transport ship. With the help of the motor pool soldiers, they hauled the Chauzek.

They backed up a portable launch pad holding the ship, and drove the tanker near. Once the Chauzek was in the ship, they finished filling the ship with the solution, and dropped in a road flare. The elixir ignited, and filled the cabin with fumes.

Mrs. Novakova designed an air circulation system, because she didn't know what type of solution they were going to use. It was acclamatory she did that, because it would've been difficult to circulate oil. Oxygen was not only easier, it was possible.

The rest of the team unloaded their portable launching apparatus.

“This is, usually, a large explosion, even with the Cheamytex fuel. Tell your soldiers to retreat 2,000 meters. 1,500 meters is minimal safe distance,” Cheauflux instructed

“Is this one going to be big, Lieutenant?” Vasquez asked, as they retreated.

“I've never witnessed a launch before, Vasquez,” Jayde admitted.

“Well, I have,” General Harper said. “I hope the contractors brought a regiment-sized allotment of earplugs.”

“So, it's going to be that loud, Sir?” Vasquez asked.

“Our concrete control room was vibrating like a nervous Chihuahua, so yes, it's going to be that loud,” Harper said.

Once the contractors locked in their radio signal and moved to minimal safe distance, they began their Capcom check.

“Are thrusters a go?” Thunderstar asked.

“Propulsion is go, Controller,” a Contractor said.

“Life support, navigation, and hull integrity?” Thunderstar asked.

He saw a slew of thumbs up, and heard ‘go!’ three times in succession.

Everybody have on their earplugs, and are behind us!?” Thunderstar yelled out loud.

Everybody put up their thumbs, and General Harper yelled back, “The regiment is go!”

I'll see you later... what am I saying? Good bye, Garbageman!” Thunderstar hit the launch button.

The spaceship ignited. Everyone felt the shockwave in their chest. It slowly began to climb. It pierced the troposphere, and headed towards the stratosphere. Once it entered the mesosphere, and began to disappear, the regiment roared in a cheer almost as loud as the launch!

Vasquez yelled, and hugged Jayde. Then she realized her place as a specialist.

“I am very sorry, Ma'am,” Vasquez stepped away, immediately, and apologized.

“After everything we've been through, all I can say to you, Vasquez, is Madame Muscle!” Jayde grabbed her, and hugged her back.

At first, it felt strange, hugging an officer, but she treated her like a girlfriend, and hugging her friend felt comfortable, so she hugged her back.

Doctor Chalet made it to Jayde. “Zat eez vhy I like jou, Jayde, jou ur rezorzevul.”

“You hypothesized, and whipped up that witches brew, Doc. If it weren't for you, we'd be writing letters to everyone's folks!” Jayde smiled. “You have always given me the tools. I just know you can't torque a bolt with a screwdriver. I have someone I want you to meet. Could you wait here for a minute?”

“I em not readee tu meet a voman,” Chalet said.

“I'm not Miss Matchmaker, Doc. He works out, like you do. Maybe you two could be great pen pals. Stay here, I'll be right back,” Jayde said.

“Vasquez, where's your fellow 11 Hotel?” Jayde asked Vasquez.

“I think Contreras is talking with motor pool about fast cars.” She pointed to the motor pool soldiers.

“Thanks, Vasquez, I'll be right back, Doc.” She walked to the motor pool crowd.

“Iz Contreres beeg, Vaskez?” Chalet asked Vasquez.

“Contreras is Linebacker Big, Doctor,” Vasquez answered.

Jayde finally made her way through the crowd, followed by a shaved Kodiak bear.

“Doctor Chalet, Sergeant Contreras, Sergeant Contreras, Doctor Chalet,” Jayde introduced them.

Contreras held out his hand. “Nice to meet you, Doctor Chalet.”

“I'm not geeveeng preskripshonz. Call me Deveauxn,” Chalet said, while offering his hand. Contreras' hand swallowed his. “I take eet, jou vork-ut eevery day.”

“Every day a monster doesn't come knocking at your door,” Contreras said. “You can call me Hector.”

“Now, zat zee moonstar iz gone, 'Ector, vat ur jour planz?” Chalet asked.

“I'm eating chow, then I'm going to the gym,” Contreras said.

“Do jou vant a partnur?” Chalet asked.

“Sure, Deveauxn, if you can keep up,” Contreras said.

“I don't mind a dare,” Chalet said.

“If you think you can hang, Deveauxn, you're welcome to join me,” Contreras invited Chalet.

Chalet turned to Jayde. “Tanks Keed. Avter dees, I need a goot poomp.”

“Just don't get married, Doc,” she joked.

Alexi saw Jayde talking to Doctor Chalet, and walked up to her.

“I guess you never needed a bodyguard. If you can take out a Chauzek, you could kick a pirates ass!” Alexi said.

She walked up to him, hugged him, and gave him a kiss. Not a peck. It was the French kind.

“You're more than a bodyguard, Buster,” she smiled.

“You are not afraid of anybody knowing about us? Not even your father?” Alexi was confused.

“I just saved the world. What is Daddy going to do to me?” she asked. “Besides, I found a keeper,” she said, and kissed him again.

Alexi was confused, but it was obvious, she wasn't. He had been covert his entire military career. It felt good not to be, for once.

“Zo, I kin teel my zientists jou two ur a couple?” Chalet asked.

“I know you know, Doc, and you are bursting at the seams to dish your gossip. Go ahead and tell them,” Jayde said.

'Sacrebleu! I do not goseep!” Chalet exclaimed.

“What do the French call telling someone else’s business?” Jayde sarcastically asked.

“Boot jou gave me permeezhon!” Chalet said.

“Come on, Doc, my job is to screw with you!” Jayde grinned.

Chalet pointed in a scolding manner at her. “Jou ur eencourageble.”

“I'm a woman, Doc,” she was still smiling.

Alexi became concerned. “You are not going to complain about me doing my job, are you?”

“Let me rephrase that, I'm a military woman.” She eased his concern.

“Ve ur not een any 'uree to geet 'ome, zo zee tele theeng iz not needed,” Chalet said.

“I don't want to blow chunks either, Doc, its unladylike,” she said.

“Ploos, I 'ave a date vit a bodee builder,” Chalet said.

“You are lifting on this side of Florida? Can I come?” Alexi asked.

“I just shoved my tongue down your throat, Sergeant! We are in Florida, with a beach, and no Chauzek! You can lift when you get back to Belize,” Jayde interrupted.

“Besidez, Alexi, I tink ze zezzion iz ekzkluzive,” Chalet added.

“Fine, Deveauxn, I will pump with you in Belize. Me and my woman have a beach to comb,” Alexi smiled.

“Breeng blankeetz, eemberz kin burn jour azz vit a campvire!” Chalet knew what they were going to do.

Everyone had a pleasant evening.

Chapter Nineteen. Epiphany

They were returning to Belize on the U.S.S. Reverence. The aircraft carrier was on calm seas. No whirlpools, no rouge waves, or surprising tsunamis. Everything was happening as if nothing ever did. Instead of it being the beginning of dystopia, it was very early Thursday morning.

Alexi was standing on deck with Jayde. Doctor Chalet and Cheauflux were looking at the jets.

“America is not what I expected,” Alexi said.

“You have to show me Russia, I only did a pit stop in your country, so I really don't know anything about the Land Of Gulags,” Jayde said.

“I will take that as a kid. I believe you have more prisons than we have gulags,” he said.

“That's all I know,” she said. “You're going to have to teach me.”

“You are still in the Air Force,.” He said. “I will need longer than your leave to show you Russian culture.”

“I won't be in the Air Force all of my life. It's not even my primary career choice,” she said. “I'm going to explore the oceans, like Jacques Cousteau, and be a famous aqua-horticulturist.”

“Do you have the money to explore?” he asked.

“I just saved the world, and the president will know about it, if he doesn't already. Do you think I'll ever be strapped for cash?” she asked.

“This planet changes like I change socks. Save your denig (money),” Alexi advised.

“I'll just add to my IRA, and my 401K,” she explained, and then she saw Alexi's confusion. “I'll just put more money in the bank.”

Alexi smiled, and nodded. He understood that.

The return was leisurely. It took longer to get back. Nobody cared. It felt more like a cruise. The soldiers played volleyball on deck. If they lost a ball through all the jets, and the width of the deck, it was meant to be sacrificed to the Water Gods.

Some of the more jock soldiers found some MOP Gear (Mission Oriented Protection) below decks, and wanted to play volleyball in it. That was like playing volleyball with a lead blanket and a clogged snorkel on. They called it playing in the “Twilight Zone”.

“Are they crazy?!” Jayde asked.

Alexi smiled. “They are not crazy, they are soldiers.”

“Hey, I'm also a soldier, but I don't need to one-up another soldier,” she said.

“It is a guy thing, Jayde, you would not understand.” Alexi was still smiling.

“You want to go over there, don't you?” she asked.

“I do not want to abandon my woman,” he said.

“I know you're my bodyguard, but pirates can't catch an aircraft carrier, and a dolphin isn't going to bite my leg, go play,” she said.

“Is that an order Lieutenant?” he asked.

“Get out of here, Alexi,” Jayde shooed him.

“Thank you, Sweetheart,” Alexi said, and ran off to put on some MOP gear, so he could dominate.

It took around ten hours to reach Belize. With all the soldiers, natives, and scientists standing at the pier, it felt like a homecoming.

Everyone was clapping, and cheering. The soldiers on the Reverence departed, and went to their respective companies. Alexi, Cheauflux, and Jayde were met by a Secret Service detail.

“I am sorry about interrupting your return, soldiers, but President Logan requests your presence,” The Secret Service agent said.

“We have another emergency?!” Jayde was surprised. “We haven't slept, but fine. Let's go, Robin.”

“We are Secret Service, Lieutenant Farrow. We are on a need to know basis, and we didn't need to know.”

“That's fine. I'll get some sleep on the plane. Don't worry about Cheauflux. It can tele-migrate to Washington. I know you have no idea what tele-migration is. Just don't volunteer to do it,” Jayde said.

So the passenger roster is two?” the Agent asked.

“Yes, tovarish, it is two.” Alexi chimed in.

Two agents escorted them to the back of the limousine drove to the air strip, and into a C-5. They got out, secured themselves, and headed for Washington, DC.

Jayde felt good being able to sleep on a Galaxy while in flight. They landed in a few hours.

Alexi woke her, and they all got back into the limousine and headed for the White House. They all got out near the rose garden, and went in the side entrance. They walked to the Oval Office. The same two marines greeted them. One of them went into the Oval Office to announce them. The Marine returned, and told them to go in.

Jayde had to prepare herself for her next challenge. She and Alexi walked in.

President Logan got up from his desk, immediately, walked over to them, and began to shake their hands.

“Thank you, soldiers, for averting Armageddon! FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is already there, cleaning up! I heard that thing fell off the page of a horror novel!” Logan said, with a smile.

“Y-you're welcome, Mister President.” Jayde was taken aback. “That monster was just that, a monster. What is our next assignment, Mister President?”

“Your next assignment is to go and buy an elegant dress, Lieutenant Farrow, and get Sergeant Doshmononov a tuxedo. You have a gala honoring your bravery! And get a dress with sequins. Those things accent the Medal of Honor rather well.” Logan was smiling.

“You mean, I don't have to stop a dictator, or protect a pipeline?” she asked.

“The only warrior you have to joust with is the dress salesperson, Lieutenant,” Logan said. “The gala's tomorrow at eight, or should I say 2000 hours?”

“I don't know any dress shops in Washington, Mister President,” she said.

“You scientists love to throw in a glitch,” Logan said. “Don't worry, Lieutenant. My wife, Nattie, knows where all the primo dress shops are, and if you've seen her appearances, trust me, she knows...”

Jayde smiled at him. She never thought she was going shopping with the first lady when she woke up from her plane ride!

“Are you Dole Conservative, or Elton John flamboyant, Alexi?” Logan asked.

“I like to look presentable, Mister President, not sparkly,” Alexi said.

“Tell my wife to go to Pierre’s for his tuxedo. I'll get my tailors to measure him, and send over his size momentarily,” Logan said.

As if on cue, Logan's tailors entered the Oval Office, and greeted Alexi.

“I think I might need my other tape measure, you're big!” the head tailor said.

“I-I work out,” Alexi said.

“Well, you didn't get those muscles surfing the web, silly!” the Tailor said. “Well, let's go to my fitting room.”

The tailor took Alexi out of the Oval Office.

“D'artagnan can fit you like a glove,” Logan said. “Doshmononov is in good hands.”

“This sounds big, Mister President,” Jayde said.

“That beast you put to sleep sounded big, too,” Logan said. “Okay, Lieutenant, war story time. How'd you drop that thing, when two Howitzers didn't even draw its attention?”

“I beat it with science, Mister President,” she began. “The Chauzek was impenetrable. We used Hellfires, Sidewinders, .50 Cals, .60 Cals, grenades, nothing damaged it. We even crashed a tanker filled with poison, strapped with enough C-4 to blow a blue whale to blubber chunks into it, but it kept coming.”

“We should've went nuclear,” Logan was amazed.

“A MOAB (Mother Of All Bombs) couldn't do it, and a hydrogen bomb would just put a radioactive hole in Naples. It would have kept coming.

Luckily, I realized, the external couldn't be scathed, so I went for the internal.I had a TOW Operator shoot a poison missile down its throat. Dropped it like a whiskey overdose,” she said.

“No offense, Lieutenant Farrow, but I'm glad you're a nerd,” Logan said.

“None taken, Mister President. I'm a proud nerd,” she smiled at him.

The first lady walked in. “So, this is Wonder Woman?” She looked at Jayde.

“Good day, Misses Logan,” Jayde said.

“Call me Nattie, Lieutenant Farrow. I get extremely tired of all that formal crap,” Nattie said.

I am so glad you said exactly what I was thinking. Call me Jayde,” she said.

“I get enough of ‘Misses Logan’ from all those political functions. We're going dress shopping, Girlfriend. You have to tell me what you like without all that formal rigmarole,” Nattie said. “Are we ready, Jayde?”

“Could you pick up Doshmononov's tuxedo, Dear?” Logan asked.

“You want some beer and hotdogs too, Honey?” she asked him, sarcastically.

“Stop playing around, Babe. You know I don't drink, or eat swine,” Logan said.

“I know, Sweetness. I'll get you some O'Douls, and some beef Ballparks.” She smiled at him.

“Look, I know this isgirl's time’ but I have meetings. The country isn't going to run itself. I'll call in Doshmononov's size to Pierre's, and just pick it up, could you?” Logan threw in a sympathetic look.

“That's not fair! You put that puppy dog face on ten years ago, and I married you! You're dirty, Sydney!” she exclaimed.

“You're the only person I can't beat in a debate without a secret weapon.” He smiled at her.

“Let's go, Jayde, before I break Sydney,” Nattie said.

As Jayde and Nattie walked out, Sydney had one more thing to ask Jayde. “Where's your alien friend, Jayde?”

Cheauflux phased through the wall. “I'm right here, Sydney Logan.”

“Cheauflux! What part did you play?” Logan asked.

“I just watched, Sydney Logan, the capture was all Lieutenant Farrow,” Cheauflux said.

“That's a weird creature, Girl,” Nattie said, while walking out with Jayde.

“You don't think like that once you get to know it,” Jayde said.

“Is that a he or a she?” Nattie asked.

“Yes.” Jayde smiled.

“All this military stuff keeps blowing my mind,” Nattie said.

“Just be lucky you didn't have to battle the Chauzek. You'd make your therapist rich.” Jayde smiled.

Their outing was fruitful. Nattie showed Jayde all the hot spots. They went to a sauna for pampering, and after the relaxation, they went dress shopping.

Jayde was getting fitted and measured for an incredible dress. It was skin-tight, with gold sequins.

Her fitter asked her. “What's that intoxicating smell you have on, Dear?”

“You can still smell that? I put it on three days ago, and was in a war. I'm surprised you caught a whiff. It's called Shalini,” Jayde said.

“You have Shalini Parfums on?! We have it in stock here. Just opening it up to inhale the aroma is cause for termination!” her fitter said.

“I'm glad you can still smell it. It costs enough,” Jayde said. “That's good, because I'm almost out of it.”

“Your dress will be ready, momentarily, Miss. I will fit it for you,” her fitter said.

“Thanks Sally, I'll be sitting over here, enjoying the Handel on your speaker system.” Jayde sat next to Nattie.

“So, is that Russian hunk you boyfriend?” Nattie surprised Jayde.

“Wha... Alexi's my bodyguard!” Jayde said, startled.

“I'm glad they don't have to interrogate you in the Middle East, Girl. How long have you two been dating?” Nattie asked.

Jayde was embarrassed. “How did you know?”

“I'm bilingual, Girl, I know English, and I'm very fluent inbody language. When you two walked to the Oval Office, you were looking at him the same way I look at Sydney. Do your parents know?” Nattie kept interviewing Jayde.

“We haven't even visited yet,” Jayde answered.

Nattie moved close to Jayde. “Let me tell you something. You have a good man. I don't care if he's blue, black, yellow, white, or purple. Don't be anxious in front of your parents. Tell them you've found a catch.”

“But my daddy will be upset,” Jayde told her.

“Your daddy isn't sleeping with him, you are. Why does he care who you like?” Nattie asked.

“He's been fighting for civil rights all his life. Alexi doesn't possess the proper melanin count,” Jayde said.

“I think you got it twisted, Girl. Civil rights is the right for all citizens to receive fair treatment in society, not the right to hate whitey. If your father fought for that, then he would be a hypocrite if he didn't like your boyfriend because of the color of his skin.” Nattie dropped some knowledge on Jayde.

“You know Nattie, you're right! I just saved the world, and I had a lot of help from the Rainbow Coalition. Daddy always wanted me to find a good man, and I found one who doesn't wash windshields for change! He should be happy I found somebody. He bought me that Shalini for that exact purpose, and since I'm almost out. I think his mission was accomplished!” Jayde had her epiphany.

“It feels good to kick a chick out of the nest, and she flies, instead of hitting the ground, Jayde, you're flying.” Nattie smiled.

“That's why you're a popular first lady, you make America think,” Jayde said.

“Well thank you, Miss Farrow,” Nattie said.

“You are very welcome, Misses Logan,” Jayde returned.

“Your dress is finished, Miss.” Sally interrupted their conversation.

“Go put it on, Girl, this is the reason I shop,” Nattie said.

Jayde got up, and went into the changing room. She had been in Air Force business attire, and battle dress uniforms so long, she had forgotten how pretty she looked in a dress.

She emerged from the changing room looking stunning.

“How do I look?” Jayde asked Nattie.

“I'm glad you're not a spy for the other side, because you'd acquire all our secrets from all our agents, men and women alike, Miss Femme Fatale,” Nattie smiled.

Sally went to work, adjusting here, and tweaking there. When she was done, Jayde looked like a rare masterpiece.

“Thank you, Nattie, for making me feel like a woman again,” Jayde beamed.

“Sometimes, you have to gift wrap the gold,” Nattie smiled back.

Jayde took off her dress, and Sally put in a silk carrier. They went up to the counter, and Nattie told Sally to put it on the account.

“And put some of that Shalini on the account, too.” Nattie looked at Jayde's surprised eyes. “You said you were running low, right?”

“That bottle costs about a thousand dollars, Nattie!” Jayde was stunned.

Nattie put a mock concerned look on her face. “That's a lot. Do you think I can afford it? Being First Lady comes with fringe benefits.”

“Thank you, Nattie. Daddy gave me my first Shalini for graduating West Point,” Jayde said.

“You've kept that bottle that long!? Girl, you needed a refill. Call it your real Medal of Honor,” Nattie said.

This was turning into a special day, and she had another ‘special day’ coming up very soon.

They got in the limousine, and headed towards Pierre's. They stepped out and Jacques, the owner, greeted them at the door.

“Nattie!” Jacques gave her a big hug. “Seednee 'as geeven me zee zize uv jour geezt.”

Nattie released from the hug. “Jacques, this is Jayde. Thank her, she saved the world, no joke. Our guest is her boyfriend, so treat him as you would treat Sydney.”

“I vill treet 'eem like a voreign deegnotaree,” Jacques said.

They went into Pierre's and Jacques gave Nattie the tuxedo.

“Jou joost peek ut zee zhooze und zee ekzezoreez, und 'ee vill luuk golden,” Jacques said.

They picked out suspenders, silk socks, diamond cufflinks, and size twelve shoes.

Nattie unscrewed the top from a bottle of Loris Azzaro's Chrome cologne, and held it under Jayde's nose to let her smell.

“This is like Cool Water on steroids,” Nattie said.

Jayde sniffed the alluring, exotic aroma. “You're trying to get me and him into bed, Nattie.”

“You just saved the world, girl. Is there any other point better?” Nattie asked.

Jayde smiled, and shook her head. Nattie threw in the Chrome with all the other accessories, paid for them, and was escorted back to the White House.

Jayde walked into the Oval office holding some packages. Alexi was sitting with President Logan and Cheauflux. He was regaling them with Spetsnaz war stories.

“Lieutenant Farrow, did you find an elegant dress?” Logan asked.

“Your wife is a fashionista, Mister President,” Jayde said.

“Nattie’s been wanting a girlfriend to shop with since I was elected, but the Secret Service hasn't cleared anybody yet, and all her old girlfriends live out of town. I think you gave her a present, also. Did you get Alexi's tux?” he asked.

She held up her package from Pierre's.

“You need to break in those shoes, Alexi. I know you've been tough enough to single-handedly quash coups, but standing at a formal event for a few hours will even break down the Iron Grizzly,”Logan said.

“I know I have H.A.L.O. dived out of planes, but I will take your advice on the shoes, Mister President,” Alexi said.

“Call me Sydney, Alexi. It's just us in the Oval Office. We don't have to put on airs for each other,” Logan said.

“He means go formal, Alexi,” Jayde interjected, quickly.

Nattie walked behind her. “You don't want him to look lost over here, do you?”

Jayde felt cornered for a second, and then Nattie let her off the hook by saying hi to her husband.

“Hi Hun. Is he giving you some soviet secrets?” she asked.

“Alexi, Cheauflux, and I are just shooting the crap. You had your girl time, we needed our guy time,” Logan said.

“That's funny, Dear, according to Jayde, Cheauflux is playing for both teams,” Nattie said.

“So that means it has been putting up with his own crap since it existed,” he said, with a bit of snark.

“If you're not careful, Sydney, I won't show you the unmentionables I got from Chanels,” she said to him.

After a bit of uncomfortable silence, Jayde spoke.

“I believe Alexi wants to try on his tuxedo,” she broke the silence.

“Da, da. I would like to see if it fits,” Alexi spoke up.

“D'artagnan measured you, and Jacques picked out the tux, it fits,” Logan said, then Nattie looked at him. “But if you want to see what you look like in it, be my guest.”

“Take Alexi to the guest room down the hall, Jayde. The marine will show you,” Nattie said.

The marine heard her, stood at attention, and waited for the two.

Alexi stood and began to take the packages.

“I brought these things all the way from the limo, and they haven't broken my back yet. I think I can manage, Alexi,” Jayde was slightly perturbed.

“Let your bodyguard do his job, Girl!” Nattie said. “Stop being a feminist!”

“Fine, Nattie. Here, Alexi.” She shoved the packages in his chest.

Alex wondered why she was so angry. He was a great soldier, however, in this scenario, he was a man. Scholars couldn't explain a woman's habits.

They walked with the marine to the guest room. They walked in, and felt the relief of privacy.

“How does your dress look?” Alexi asked.

“If I can hold my breath for the entire function, and not eat until it, I think I can pull it off,” Jayde said. “I've already read that book before, I want to see what you look like.”

“So, we are good?” Alexi asked. He was still concerned about the package thrusting.

“You mean when I, gruffly, handed you the parcels? Don't sweat that. You know I'm a stubborn woman,” she said. “Look, put on your tuxedo, and I'll squeeze into my dress, and we can give each other a fashion show.”

Alexi was relived she wasn't angry, and let Jayde separate the packages. He went into the changing room, and Jayde went into the rest room. With a lot of adjustments, they both entered the bedroom.

“You're looking kind of studly there, Bolshevik Bond,” Jayde said.

“You make Zoe Saldana nervous,” Alexi smiled.

She looked at him with a smile. “Fresh.”

“President Logan... Sydney was right, I need to break in these Stacey Adams.”

“Go on a White House tour with them. That should make them comfortable,” she suggested.

“I need to know of your George Washington anyway. I heard he was a popular president who did not like cherry trees,” Alexi said.

“Well I saw Gorbachev, and he had a country on his head. What, too soon?” Jayde countered. “You're in America, Dear. Don't talk about our presidents.”

“I just spoke about your first one, and his dislike for cherries,” Alexi explained.

“Well, when you speak about one of our star players of the home team, when you're, literally, in our house, it sounds kind of rude,” she said.

“I am sorry. I meant nothing by it,” Alexi apologized.

“We get kind of touchy around here, and I'm being nice. Better to hear it from your girlfriend, than some tour guide interning for college credits,” she said. “Besides, the cherry tree chopping is a myth anyway.”

It always felt good to him to hear her say she was his girlfriend. All petty squabbles were wiped away.

“Oh, I got you one more thing. Well, Nattie bought it for you as a thanks for helping.” She reached into the Pierre's package, and pulled out the cologne. “It's called Chrome. It's my Kryptonite, wait, you probably don't know about American comics. It's my weakness.”

“I know who Clark is. I was a teenager also,” Alexi clarified.

She dabbed it on his wrist, and put it up to his nose.

“It smells good,” he said.

“Good? That cologne is erotic steroids!” she claimed.

“For you, my weakness is what you wear,” he said.

“Well, I guess when you put this one on, we'll be alluringly copacetic. I got my Shalini as an accessory with my dress,” she said.

“That reminds me, are we going to see your parents?” Alexi asked.

“We'll go to Granville in New York when this ceremony is over. Let's tackle one problem at a time,” she said.

“I am going to play billiards with your father,” Alexi smiled.

“How did you know Daddy has a pool table in the basement?” she asked.

“I did not know that. I hope he has practiced, because it would feel strange to beat my girlfriend's father in his own house,” he touted.

“I know you're Spetsnaz, and you don't like to lose. But if you go against Daddy in his own house? You'll be embarrassed,” she smiled.

“I have not met your father yet, but the gauntlet has been thrown at my feet before I have even said ‘Hello, Mister Farrow’.” Alexi's competitive gene woke up. “I am going to go on tour. I will see you later.”

“Put your BDUs back on. I don't want to knock out a college teenybopper for trying to snag you,” Jayde joked with an ounce of seriousness.

“I can resist terrorists. A college student will be effortless, but I will put back on my BDUs

... for you.” Alexi went into the changing room.


There was much bustle going on at the White House over the next few days. They were getting ready for the function. They had to get caterers, wait staff, organizers, and sanitation. They went with filet mignon, lobster, svitanak (Russian style chicken), and Russian standard vodka from Saint Petersburg. They wanted Alexi to feel comfortable.

Jayde decided to peruse the White House. She saw all the portraits of all the presidents, and their wives, including the present one. It was like visiting a historical museum. She and Alexi took strolls through the common areas.

There was a little kid on one of the tours. She pointed at Jayde, and asked her mother. “Is that Wonder Woman, mommy?”

“Her name is Lieutenant Farrow, Honey, and stop pointing. Yes, she beat that big bad monster,” her mother said.

“I have never seen a Nubian Princess turn red, before,” Alexi smiled, and whispered to Jayde.

Jayde had a bashful grin. “Shut up, Alexi. I didn't beat that Chauzek for fame.”

“And yet even with military elusiveness, fame still found you,” he said.

This was a new, odd feeling for Jayde. She went above and beyond, and gained fans in a week! She wasn't a celebrity, she was a soldier. Her SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) manual didn't cover illustriousness.

“Hey, you were there too, Buster!” she vociferated in a quiet way.

“Yes, but I did not knock it out, Wonder Woman,” Alexi answered with a grin.

She immediately punched him in the arm. “That's not my name, Spetsnaz!”

“Yet, it follows you around, like a hungry wolf, and you have many rabbits, Wonder Woman.” Alexi's smile didn't dissipate.

“You're going to stop playing with me, Alexi. I can hold something hostage from you, until you act right,” she said.

Alexi knew what she was talking about. “I am sorry, Jayde. You do not have to send fingers, toes, Vagasil, and Massengill in the mail.”

“At least we understand each other.” She said.

Jayde had a good time giving Alexi a history lesson. He was a hungry student, so she didn't bore him. Everything she taught him, he soaked up like a sponge. She was running out of political worms, while her chick's mouth was still open.

“I know Russia's curriculum doesn't have a slew of American history, but I'm not a professor,” she admitted when she ran out of events from the past.

“You mean every American knows that?” he asked.

“Every American officer who graduated from West Point knows that,” she corrected him.

“I guess I should have known, after that peptide lesson, and the way you found how to knock out that Chauzek, you are a smart woman,” he realized.

“I know what's important to me. If you'd ask me to break down an AK-47, I'd babble like an idiot,” she admitted.

“That is easy. I know how to break down an AK-47,” Alexi said.

“That's because you're interested in it,” she said. “Don't think I'm a Poindexter, I just like amino acids over assault rifles.”

Alexi realized she was a humble woman. No matter the amazement, she would explain it away. She didn't want idolization. Being a role model wasn't her job.

They kept looking at all the artifacts in the White House, and Jayde silently critiqued the tour interns. It was their job, not their passion.

It was getting late, so they both went back to their room. Jayde turned on the television, and Gold digger Scavenger Hunt was on.

“This is American television?” Alexi asked.

“I was looking for the news. This programming is drivel,” Jayde turned the channel.

“No, switch that back! That was interesting,” Alexi stopped her.

“If you think this is interesting, you need to watch the Jack Shorington Show,” Jayde said. “That show is filled with incest, transgender sex, cheating, paternity suits, and betrayal, just your speed.”

“Well, you know about it, so you must watch it too,” he said.

“I leave my brain in the closet every once in a while,” she defended herself. “Sometimes, I like to go on vacation from thinking.”

Alexi sat on the bed to watch the reality show. Jayde went into the rest room and took a shower.

She put on some unmentionables she got from Chanel's. They were frilly and tiny. She also hoped they would be temporary. She walked out with an alluring nightie on.

“You done with them gold-diggers?” she asked him.

Alexi turned his head to look at her. He blindly felt for the remote control, because he couldn't break his gaze with Jayde.

“I-I think I am done,” he stammered.

Jayde, slowly walked over to the other side of the bed, grabbed the remote he fruitlessly pawed for, and turned off the television.

“You have some silk boxer-briefs from Pierre's in your package. I'm sorry, I forgot pajamas. I guess you'll just have to wear those to bed all by themselves,” Jayde said, with a bewitching voice.

Alexi looked like a kid in a candy store. He popped up to go to the changing room.

He kept up his ogling of Jayde, pointed at the changing room, and asked. “They are in my package?”

“If you can't find them, just come to bed in your birthday suit,” she suggested.

That was when he stopped, dead in his tracks, and smiled at her. “You are trying to get me in trouble.”

“Getting you in trouble is my mission, Spetsnaz,” Jayde said.

“I will one-up you, tomorrow. I am the soldier who does that,” he said, and went to get his boxer-briefs.


They had a day of preparation. They had to get ready for the function. Dignitaries from many nations were going to be there. This was global, not just American. Jayde was getting nervous,

“Is my hair straight, Nattie?” she asked the first lady.

“Everything's in place, Girl. Stop getting anxious,” Nattie told her.

“I've never been around this many foreign dignitaries before! I'm a bit out of sorts,” Jayde admitted.

“Just think about all of them using the toilet. After you stop laughing in your mind, you'll come to the conclusion I came up with years ago; people are people.” Nattie tried to settle her jumpiness.

“I do that when I'm teaching a class of scientists. That works on foreign dignitaries?” Jayde asked.

“It works on anybody, Honey. Remember, they put on their clothes the same way you do,” Nattie said. “You're going to have those same women being jealous of you, and those same men wanting to jump your bones.”

“So, you think I look presentable?” Jayde asked.

“Presentable?” You're the Queen of Understatements, Girlfriend. You have that Halle Berry vibe happening, you're wearing Vera Wang for your dress, and Marc Jacobs for your designer shoes. You look like royalty,” Nattie complemented her.

“Thanks, Nattie, you make me feel better. I grew up with all brothers, and instead of tea parties, I was watching them play pick-up games on the basketball court,” Jayde said.

“You probably beat them sometimes, too. You're rough around the edges, that's why frilly is so uncomfortable for you,” Nattie realized. “Don't worry, Girl, when Alexi sees you, his jaw is going to H.A.L.O. dive.”

They finished primping, and found their men waiting for them.

“D'artagnan and Jacques turned you into a lady killer, Alexi, you're all debonair,” Sydney said.

“Thank you, Mister Log... Sydney, you were the one to make this possible,” Alexi said.

“You can't get past that formal stuff, can you?” Logan asked.

“I have been trained to respect authority. You must forgive me,” Alexi apologized.

“I can't be angry with a soldier who is trained to respect authority. That would make me an ass. I don't like to look like an ass,” Logan said.

“Spasibo, Sydney.” Alexi thanked Logan.

Logan saw how dashing Alexi looked, and decided to reveal what he knew. “I'm going to keep all those ladies away from you during the function. I don't think your girlfriend would want those desperate skanks to hang all over you.”

Alexi had the surprise. “How did you know?!”

“Nattie told me last night. The girls spoke, and Nattie can pry a pearl out of a clam with her fingers. You didn't have any tells,” Logan answered the unasked question. This time, Alexi had a big tell.

“And you are not angry with me that I am courting one of your officers?” Alexi asked.

“If it were 1980, I'd be very upset, but it's not cold now. That's not my daughter. I don't want to kill you. By the way, have you met her parents yet?” Logan was concerned.

“We are going to visit them after the awards ceremony,” Alexi revealed.

Logan wanted to help. “Before you leave, I'm going to tell you about some gladiators called the New York Giants. If you know them, at least your foot will be in the door.”

“Spacibo for the assistance, Sydney. That is a team in American football, right?” Alexi asked.

Logan put his hand on Alexi's shoulder. “Oh, you poor man. We have a lot of work to do.”

A female butler entered. “Gentlemen, your ladies are in waiting.”

President Logan and Alexi stood and straightened themselves. Nattie and Jayde walked out. It almost looked as if they were going to a debutante cotillion.

“Damn, you look stunning, Nattie,” Logan said.

“You look amazing also, Jayde,” Alexi said.

Nattie smiled at her dashing husband. “I wouldn't kick you out of bed either, Stud.”

Jayde looked at Alexi, and deduced the obvious. “Thank you, Alexi, they both know.”

“You couldn't disguise that, Lieutenant Farrow,” Logan said.

“I guess you're a smarter president than the previous one,” Jayde smiled at him.

“He just has a smart woman kicking him on a regular basis,” Nattie interjected.

“Well, Lieutenant Farrow, I'm smart enough to know not to argue with the first lady.” Logan smiled. “Time to go visit some dignitaries. Shall we begin?”

They all left the White House, got into a limousine, and went to the function.

They got out of the limousine and were engulfed with stupendous fanfare. Logan and his wife waved. They were used to the public admiration, Alexi and Jayde weren't. They waved, uncomfortably.

“The President and the First Lady have arrived with Wonder Woman, and her Bolshevik sidekick. We will have more news of the ceremony, and we will have live coverage of Wonder Woman receiving the Medal of Honor. Stay tuned to Eyewitness News,’ a reporter spoke to a camera.

“They're calling me Wonder Woman, Nattie,” Jayde whispered to Nattie.

“Get used to it, Girl, it'll be a trivia question in twenty years,” Nattie whispered back.

They entered, and went to the front, to the stage. The waiters seated them, and began with the wine list.

They had Chateau Lafite 1869, Chateau Mounton-Rothchild 1945, Penfold Grange Hermitage 1951, and Romancee Cont, DRC 1990. The most expensive bottle on the list was the Chateau Lafite, at $232,693!

They ordered, and Alexi got the Russian vodka. Logan was happy he’d requested the vodka.

The maitre d's were replaced by the wait staff. They took everyone's orders, and went into the cuisine galley.

Jayde and the president had filet mignon, Nattie had lobster, and Alexi had the Russian chicken. They finished their meals, and President Logan stood up, went to the podium, and began the ceremony.

“Everyone, thank you for coming to our medal ceremony. We are honoring an exceptional soldier. She stopped a violent alien force from destroying this planet. There was much military help, however this was the amazing soldier who augmented their deadly results with courage, and valor. Lieutenant Farrow deserves more than a medal. She deserves your gratitude,” President Logan said. “Lieutenant Jayde Farrow, could you, please, join me at the podium?”

This was it. Jayde stood, and walked to the podium. She stood at attention, while a fellow Air Force officer stood next to President Logan, displaying the Medal of Honor.

“Lieutenant Jayde Farrow performed above and beyond the call of duty. After the military used everything in its arsenal to defeat the alien threat with no results, Lieutenant Farrow used her skills and mind to defeat the alien, saving the residents of Naples Florida, the United States, and the entire world. Her unwavering courage, and steadfast devotion to the planet Earth, in the face of certain death, reflected enormous credit upon herself, and the Unites States Air Force.”

At that point, Jayde turned her back to Logan, and the Air Force officer gave the president the medal. President Logan adorned Jayde with the medal by placing it around her neck. Then he walked in front of her, and shook her hand.

“It’s not illegal to smile, Lieutenant Farrow,” Logan grinned, which Jayde returned in kind.

Everyone began clapping, including President Logan. Jayde felt like a celebrity. From now on, she had to get used to the accolades. The president turned back to the podium.

“We would like to thank you all for coming to this ceremony tonight,” Logan began. “We are grateful for Lieutenant Farrow, we are grateful for Generals Slaydon, Harper, and Sergeant Doshmononov, a Soviet Spetsnaz bodyguard that kept Lieutenant Farrow safe, and all the men and women of the United States Military who fought beside Lieutenant Farrow that fateful day. I hope you were inspired by this ceremony this evening. Again, thank you, and God bless you,” Logan concluded the ceremony. Jayde sat back down, and President Logan followed.

“Do you feel like Big Man on Campus, Dear?” Nattie asked.

“It's Big Woman on Campus this evening, dear,” Logan said.

“How does it feel to be a hero, Jayde?” Alexi asked.

“I'm not a hero.” Jayde put up air quotes.

“A hero is defined as a person of distinguished courage and ability who is admired for their brave deeds by their peers,” Alexi corrected her. “Face it, you are a hero.”

“All the other soldiers are heroes. They held it there, and it didn't eat anybody. I admire them,” she stated.

“Yes, they held it at bay, but you were the only one to understand how to knock it out,” Alexi said.

“Did anyone want any more drinks?” Logan asked over the group. It must have been time to go.

“I'm good, Mister President. Alexi, Nattie, you good?” Jayde asked.

“It's going to take forever to get out of here with all the hand shaking you're going to do, Girl. Let's try to get out of here,” Nattie said.

“We could go out the back,” Sydney suggested.

“And deprive her of greeting her fans? I don't think so, Sydney. She'll probably never get this opportunity ever again.” Nattie hit him on the arm.

“Do not worry, Jayde, I am still your bodyguard,” Alexi said.

“How about this, Alexi, you don't have to be my bodyguard tonight, being my boyfriend will suffice,” Jayde said.

“I will still protect you,” Alexi said.

“I think that ability is required to be a boyfriend, Alexi,” Jayde said.

Cheauflux appeared from nowhere. “I believe the first part of my excursion has been completed. I still have to become your Lewis and Clark, and explore your planet. I must leave all of you. Farewell President Logan, Natalie Logan, and Jayde Farrow. Do svidaniya Alexi Doshmononov, and tell Deveauxn Chalet au revoir from me please. I have to explore your planet's people and culture.”

“This is going to sound strange, but I'm going to miss you, Cheauflux,” Jayde had a tear in her eye.

“As long as you remember me, part of my essence will always be with you. I am never gone, I'm just always around your mental corner,” Cheauflux said.

“Do svidaniya Cheauflux. When you visit Moscow, share a snifter of vodka with the premier,” Alexi said goodbye to Cheauflux.

“Thanks for the close encounter, Cheauflux. My wife and I will have tales to tell to our grandkids when we're rocking on the porch,” President Logan said.

“We have to have some kids before we get grand kids, Cheauflux, and I think we better get to work tonight,” Nattie said. “Thanks for your help, Cheauflux, and goodbye.”

Cheauflux turned, walked into the air, and disappeared. Jayde hoped she would see it before it went back to its planet.

It took some time to get to the limo. Jayde was getting major praise. Everybody congratulated her. It took forty minutes to get to the limo.

They left for the White House, and the marines escorted them in. They went to their respective bedrooms. Alexi wanted to have a nightcap.

“That was an interesting night,” Jayde said to Alexi, as she peeled off her dress. They were together—he has seen her in less, much less.

“It was a special night,” Alexi said, as he took off his tux. “I have to put this monkey suit into the changing room. I shall return.”

Jayde didn't even think of what he said. She just went into the rest room to let her hair down.

Okay, that's over. Time to go and visit mom and daddy. I think I'll wait a day before I drop the bomb on them, she thought.

She came out of the restroom to hang her dress, and saw Alexi sitting on the bed, with an alluring look about him.

“You looked enchanting tonight in your new dress, and you look amazing now, with your hair down,” he said. He had a bottle of Dom Perignon, a strange vial, and two champagne glasses sitting on the table.

“Why thank you, Alexi. You looked suave in that tuxedo tonight, and those boxer-briefs are the proverbial cherry on top,” she said, and looked at the table. “You're trying to get me drunk!”

Alexi stood, and walked to the table. He popped the cork on the champagne, grabbed a glass, and that strange vial. He walked over to Jayde, and gave her the glass.

As he poured the champagne, he spoke. “This was not meant to get you drunk. It makes what I have in this vial go down easier.”

“What do you have in that vial, drugs?” she asked.

“The liquid I possess is an aphrodisiac. What do you know of oxytocin?” Alexi asked.

“You know I know what oxytocin is,” Jayde said. “Oxytocin is a polypeptide hormone produced by the pituitary gland of the brain, that stimulates contractions of the uterus.”

Alexi smiled, and held up the vial. “This is dolphin oxytocin.”

He poured it into her drink. “Doctor Chalet gave it to me before we went to Naples. I was going to give it to you on the beach, but that was already romantic. I wanted to wait for a special occasion. This is that special occasion.”

She knew what human oxytocin would do to her, but dolphin oxytocin might make her go crazy.

“Screw it,” she said, and downed her champagne. She had this warm feeling that blanketed her body. “I am so glad I taught you about peptides.”

As her hips started to become warm, Alexi looked at her. “I told you I was going to one-up you tonight.”

“I think we both won that challenge, Alexi,” she said, as she climbed into bed.

Alexi turned off the lights, with a smile on his face.

Another stupendous night.

Chapter Twenty. The Time Is Now

The morning was busy. The White House staff kicked into gear. Many of the foreign dignitaries visited its hallowed halls. All prime ministers, ambassadors, kings, and amirs were treated like royalty, which, at least for the kings, the treatment was normal.

Jayde got on a special phone in her room to contact Doctor Chalet in Belize. After much relaying, she got him on the phone.

“Jayde, 'ow vas jour treep?” Chalet asked.

“I didn't have any time to tell you I was traveling to the White House. Weren't you worried when I didn't show up in the billets?” she asked him.

“I zaw zee Zeecret Zervice vizk jou und Alexi avay. Vhere eelze could jou be ozer zan zee Vite 'ouze?”

Chalet asked.

“They gave me the Medal of Honor for beating that Chauzek, Doc!” Jayde's excitement finally sank in.

“Jou deezerve more zan a meedal, Keed. Jou zaved zee veld,” Chalet said.

“I got this Vera Wang dress also, this was a good trip, Doc, and thank you ever so much, for giving Alexi that oxytocin. It really made the evening,” Jayde smiled.

“Zo, 'ee vinaly gave eet tu jou. I zaught 'ee vas goeeng to geev eet tu jou een Vlorida. I guezz 'ee peeked zee right time,” Chalet said.

“Tell your scientists it worked like a charm,” she said. “Did he ask for a polypeptide?”

“'Ee azked vor a zienteevik avrodeeziak. I gave 'eem dolveen oxeetoseen. Zienze gave jou jour counztant orgazeem,” Chalet said.

“You know you're a ‘Mad Scientist Don Juan’, right Doc?” she asked.

“Vhen jou need an advanteeg, zienze iz jour vrieend, no mattur 'ow mad eet iz,” Chalet said. “Jou ur velcum Jayde.”

“Now I have to take my medicine, Doc, we're going to see Daddy,” she said with foreboding.

“Avzer Alexi meezs jour fazah, jou vill need anozer meedal, guud luck mon ami,” Chalet said.

“Thanks for always being in my corner, Doc,” Jayde said. “I'll see you back on the beaches. Farewell Doc,” Jayde concluded.

“Au revoir, Jayde.” Chalet hang up the phone.

As Jayde hung up her receiver, Nattie came in her room through the open door, wearing a jogging suit and holding two extra jogging suits.

“Let's go on a jog, Girl. Alexi's learning football from Sydney, and who is Biff going to choose, Alexis, or Madeline?” she asked.

“I'm sorry Nattie, I don't know those people,” Jayde said.

“Just as I thought. You don't get a body like that watching daytime soaps. You take a small or medium? They're long enough, WNBA Center,” Nattie showed Jayde the jogging suits.

I wear a size three, so I would guess a small?” Jayde didn't know if the United States government adjusted the first lady's sizes.

Nattie threw the small at Jayde. “Get dressed, Girl. We have some jogging and gossiping to do.”

Jayde caught the jogging suit, and went into the restroom to change. The suit fit perfectly. It wasn't too tight, and it wasn't high-waters. Now, all Jayde had to get were socks and jogging shoes.

She came out, and Nattie said, “You're going to knock the Secret Service dead, Girl.” She threw Jayde some tube socks. “What size shoe?” Nattie asked her.

“I wear a size twelve, most girls in West Point said I had flippers instead of feet,” Jayde said, as she put on the socks.

“Have you ever heard of Altra Lone Peak runners?” Nattie asked.

“I've been putting on Asics for fifteen years,” Jayde said.

“It's treat time, Girl.” Nattie called to Alfonzo, “Alfonzo, could you get some Altra Lone Peaks, size twelve from my dressing room, please?”

“Yes Ma'am.” Alfonzo said, and left for her dressing room.

“These shoes are designed for running,” Nattie assured her.

“How did you have my size? Do you have a shoe store in your dressing room?” Jayde asked.

“With all the foreign nationals sojourning in the White House, I'd have to say yes,” Nattie said.

Another fringe benefit of being First Lady, I take it?” Jayde asked a rhetorical question.

“So, how was last night?” Nattie asked.

“Receiving that Medal of Honor felt stupendous,” Jayde said.

“I saw that, I'm talking about last night. Give me the blow by blow,” Nattie smiled.

“You want to know everything, Naughty Nattie!” Jayde exclaimed.

“I just wanted to see if that Chrome worked,” Nattie said.

“That Chrome just seasoned my gourmet meal. He brought me a present,” Jayde began to dish.

“What did he bring you? Roses, chocolates?” Nattie was a master at prying.

“Something better, I call it Nerd Spanish Fly, the only difference is, this stuff isn't an urban legend, it actually works!”

“You could write speeches for congress, Girl, what did he bring you?!” Nattie was getting impatient.

“Dolphin oxytocin, it constantly contracts your uterine wall,” Jayde explained.

“So what did he do, watch you lay there and lose it?” Nattie asked.

“Alexi is an amazing lover. Let’s just say, I had a marvelously fascinating night,” Jayde smiled.

There was a knock on the door frame. “Madame Logan, your running shoes.”

“Could you please give them to Jayde?” Nattie asked.

Alfonzo walked in, knelt in front of Jayde, and put on her shoes. The shoes felt like old, comfortable sneakers, except they still had the tags on them!

“Where did you get these shoes, Nattie?!” Jayde was impressed.

“I'll order you some every two months. I know they won't wear out in two months, but you may need a collection of them. Are you stationed at Davis-Monthan, or Belize?” Nattie asked.

“I just saved the world, and I have the president to vouch for me, I think Belize will be my new station,” Jayde said.

“Let's go jogging, Girl, and you can tell me the blow by blow. I still want to know the details.”

They started in the rose garden, and went on an interesting journey.


“Now what is first down?” Sydney asked Alexi.

“It is the down that gives you four more chances to advance another ten yards,” Alexi said.

“And when you make it a hundred yards?” Sydney asked.

“You get the king of downs, the touchdown.”Alexi smiled, because he was understanding the sport.

“Now, this is a full contact sport,” Sydney said. “You have to be tough, and sometimes gargantuan to play.”

“Your sport sounds like rugby,” Alexi said.

“The two sports do share a likeness, except rugby is like soccer with a football. That's very perceptive Alexi,” Sydney said. “The main difference is, each football player has a certain job. You won't have a 350 pound linebacker going out for a pass. He stops the opposing behemoths from tackling the quarterback,” Sydney taught him. “All football players are elite, so the coaches have to be chess players.”

“There are only eleven active players on a team, why do they have a fifty three man roster? That is what you told me, right?” Alexi asked.

“Now you're getting into the technique of winning a game. There are big lines, built to stop runners on the opposing team, speed lines, made for the two minute drill, and specialty lines, made to highlight a certain type of player. A good coach can mix and match these lines all day,” Sydney was on a roll.

“The rules are easy, but how to play the game is extremely complicated,” Alexi surmised.

“We can watch Monday Night Football tonight, and I can explain the game,” Sydney said. “The good thing for you, is the New York Giants are playing the Cleveland Browns tonight, so I can show you some of the players.”

“Do you think Mister Farrow is a football fan?” Alexi asked.

“He's a guy in New York. Unless he's got a pottery class, you have about a 90% chance he's a football fan,” Sydney said.

“I am very nervous about meeting the father of Jayde, Sydney,” Alexi admitted.

“I learned a good bit of advice in the military, many years ago; he can't eat you,” Sydney gave him good advice.

Alexi took in the advice, but he wanted to get back to American football.

“How long is the game?” Alexi asked.

“The game is sixty minutes, with four fifteen minute quarters, but with all the stopping and starting, halftime, and the two minute warning, it could take up to three and a half hours to watch one full game.”

“Well, rugby has two forty minute periods with a five minute half in between the two, but aside from injury time outs, the game is continuous,” Alexi said.

“Our game is not continuous, but it is exciting, once you know what you need to know to appreciate the game. Right now, I'm teaching you ‘Football for Dummies’ that's not an insult, we just say that when somebody knows nothing about a subject.” Sydney remembered he was Russian.

“No offense taken, Sydney, I know less than nothing about the sport, so I am a dummy when it comes to football,” Alexi admitted.

“At least you're going to be able to talk to Mister Farrow tomorrow, and you won't have an uncomfortable silence when you two are alone. Trust me, she's a woman, she'll leave you alone with her father so you can bond with him, not realizing a root canal would be less painful,” Sydney said.


Nattie and Jayde were working up a sweat. They passed the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Kennedy Center. They were heading towards the Watergate Hotel.

“How long do you normally jog?” Nattie asked through deep breaths.

“I normally go ten to fifteen K,” Jayde said.

“I know the Secret Service is obligated to protect us, but you know they're staring at your ass, right?” Nattie asked.

“You're a bad girl, Nattie,” Jayde said.

“I'm a girl, men don't think we talk crass. They just don't know how dirty we can be,” Nattie said. “That reminds me! Details, girl!”

“Nattie, I don't kiss and tell,” Jayde said.

“You don't think you kiss and tell,” Nattie said. “At West Point, the other girls thought you were a mutant, and in high school, you were probably the loner bookworm, so when you kissed you had nobody to tell. You had no choice,” Nattie conjectured.

Nattie's speculations were correct. Jayde's only close friend was in grade school. She was a study nut in high school, and she was lanky at West Point, so she had no confidants.

“The man has an eight pack,” she began. “You should see the sweat racing down his pecs, and his veins guide you around his muscles.”

“When he's in his skivvies, does he hit that special spot?” Nattie asked.

“Him just standing there bats at my G all day,” Jayde was happy to have a friend to release to.

“So, you're not scared of him meeting your father?” Nattie asked the question.

“I can say I'm strong, but Daddy scares the hell out of me,” Jayde admitted.

“That monster must have scared the hell out of you, but you conquered that problem,” Nattie said. “Your father has one major weakness that monster didn't possess, he loves his daughter.”

“Well, he did buy me that Shalini to snag a man... he must love me. He doesn't have first lady disposable income.” Jayde had another epiphany.

They stopped at the Watergate Hotel. “How long have we been jogging, Alfonzo!?”

“You two have run eighteen miles, according to the speedometer, Madame!” Alfonzo yelled out.

“That's almost thirty K, Nattie!” Jayde was surprised.

“And you're not even tired, are you?” Jayde shook her head. “You see, dishing dirt with a friend helps your physical training.”

“I wish I could jog with you every day, Nattie,” Jayde said, as they walked to the car.

“Whenever you're in Washington during the next four years, hit me up. After you saved the world, I think Sydney's re-election is guaranteed,” Nattie smiled, as they drove back to the White House.


“Go, go, go! Aw, come on!” Sydney was getting excited about the game.

The men were watching the game, a male tradition, spanning time since gladiators fought in the Coliseum. Nowadays, they just didn't have to go to the Coliseum if they didn't want to. An eighty inch, high definition, liquid emitting diode television did the trick at this time.

Okay, Alexi, that was a running play. Many teams do that on first down,” Sydney said.

“Why do they not throw the ball, Sydney?” Alexi asked.

“Most coaches don't want to get an interception on first down, but running on first is not a rule, it's a choice.” Sydney was trying to teach Alexi the nuances of how to watch a game. “Sometimes, coaches are predictable, sometimes they're surprising. If the play works, that's when you get excited.”

“You seem passionate about trying to guess what the team is going to do next,” Alexi realized.

“If they do the right thing, and still get stuffed, that's when the owners fire them,” Sydney said.

“Second down was a passing play, and they made it seven yards. Most coaches call in a run play for gaining only one yard, but the other team knows that also, so their job is to stop the other team from getting that one yard, so the coach is calling in his ‘big package’, the players whose specialty is to stop the run.” Sydney explained. “Okay fellas, its third down, show me some magic.”

The New York Giants hiked the ball, and did a play action fake. They made it look like they were running, and all the linebackers went after the runner, leaving the receivers in a one on one defensive position. The quarterback threw a bullet to the receiver. The cornerback sniffed out the trickery, and batted the ball away.

“Sometimes tricks work, sometimes they don't. Now the Giants are going to punt, uh, kick the ball deeper into the opposing team’s area, to make them have a longer field to play,” Sydney predicted, but was wrong.

Instead of getting in a punt formation, the Giants got into a heavy package.

Sydney put his hand on Alexi's arm. “They're going for it!”

“If they make that one yard, they get four more tries to make another ten yards?” Alex asked.

“But if they get stuffed, they have to turn the ball over. This is dangerous on their fifteen yard line. That means, if they fail to get that one yard, instead of the Browns having to go seventy five or so yards to get a touchdown, they only have to go fifteen.” Sydney felt tense.

The Giants audibled.

“The quarterback saw something he didn't like, so he changed the play to a passing formation,” Sydney squeezed Alexi's arm.

The Giants hiked the ball. The quarterback drew back to throw to a receiver. All the defenders were on the receivers, ready to knock down the ball. Instead of the quarterback throwing the ball, he handed it off to the running back!

Sydney squeezed Alexi's arm tighter. “It's a draw! Go baby, go!”

Since everyone was expecting a pass, the running back was untouched for three yards! They got another first down!

“Woohoo! That's right, baby, get your yards!” Sydney was excited. “See, Alexi, that is what we call a trick play. That was a draw play, it's the opposite of a play action fake. I call it the pass action run. Everybody is expecting you to pass the ball, but you hand it off to the running back. By the time everybody realizes they've been fooled, the running back gets at least a yard,” Sydney explained.

“I can understand your excitement, Sydney. They can trick their opponent in order to win,” Alexi said.

They continued to watch the game. Alexi picked up the game quickly. By third quarter, he was yelling at the screen also.

“What did you say about reptile appendages?” Alexi asked, after a receiver dropped a pass.

“We call a receiver dropping the ball without any defense on him, ‘Alligator Arms’,” Sydney said.

“Spacibo, Sydney,” Alexi turned to the television. “You have Alligator Arms, receiver person!”

Sydney grinned. “I think you know enough to be dangerous, Alexi.”

“Spacibo, Sydney, do you think Mister Farrow will like me?” Alexi asked.

“Give me a minute.” Sydney walked to the computer, went on the Giants website, and downloaded the roster. He turned to the printer, and pulled out a sheet of paper.

“This is everyone on the team, including second and third string players. Memorize those names, and trust me, it will definitely help.” Sydney gave him the sheet.

“Spacibo, Sydney, this will be beneficial,” Alexi said.

“You're not nervous about meeting Mister Farrow, are you?” Sydney asked.

“I have knocked out 160 kilogram professional Sambo fighters, while drunk. My only problem with Mister Farrow is that he also cares about the woman I love, and he has final say over my worthiness.” Alexi looked concerned.

“If it weren't for you, Son, Lieutenant Farrow would be road kill in Florida, and he would be waiting to die somewhere in a shelter. You shouldn't be worried about your worthiness to be captivated with his daughter. He should be happy a soldier protected his daughter, so he could see her again. Why are both of you chalking her father into being a nasty savage?” Sydney was curious.

“It is her father, she is his only daughter, I would expect he would be very protective,” Alexi said.

“Do you eat babies?” Sydney asked, out of the blue.

“Do I… what!?” Alexi was in a conundrum.

“Do you eat babies, Spetsnaz brute?” Sydney sounded very negative.

“No, I do not eat babies!” Alexi was adamant.

“Then why would he be overprotective of her protector?” Sydney asked.

“Because I sunburn when you light a candle at night,” Alexi got to the real threshold of his concern.

“This is the twenty first century, Alexi, they don't even make people like that anymore! Stop fearing paper tigers!” Sydney said. “I'm African-American, and they elected me! The people chose pocketbook over prejudice. Everybody realized how stupid prejudice was, and some of those people used to hang us in the '50s! Do you think the father of the woman you love has that ‘50s mentality?” Sydney asked.

“Now that you say it that way, I do not believe Jayde's father holds a grudge about the '50s.” Alexi said.

“After everything he has done for his daughter, as long as you, truly, love her, I think you'll be fine.” Sydney calmed down. “You want to watch the last quarter?”

“Da, Sydney, The New York Giants seem like they will win tonight,” Alexi said.

“That's another perk for you, Son,” Sydney said.

They watched the rest of the game, and the Giants did win.


Sergeant Alexi Vladimir Doshmononov was a Spetsnaz Commando. He was born in Kemerovo, Russia. He lived in Russia all his life. He trained in the military to protect the Mother. He knew of the general stereotype of the United States, however, he never experienced America, until this point. He understood Americans possessed deep culture, because America was a melting pot of aestheticism. America was mixed with the classic ingredients of Earth. Your heritage could come from the royalty of Mesopotamia, or the deep heritage of Edo Japan.

He saw that when an entire regiment of United States military soldiers fought a battle they knew they couldn't win, but went after it, guns-a-blazin', without apprehension, or fear. Their origins were from all over the world, but these people were American.

Sergeant Doshmononov committed the grim error of actually falling in love with an American! That was an executable offense in his old book, but in his new, more tolerant book, he was more than fine with that. Now, he had to meet an important figure in his life that agreed with the old Alexi, the intolerant Alexi. The soldier who would rather kick an indigent American in the teeth than give her a piece of bread. This was a new challenge for him.

No matter how many operations you've been on, or your expertise in weaponry, this experience would be completely unprepared for.

“I have our plane tickets, Alexi, you ready to dance in lava, barefoot?” Jayde showed Alexi their plane tickets for LaGuardia Airport.

“When do we leave for Kennedy?” he asked.

“We leave in forty five minutes for JFK. Make sure you have all your combat gear in the duffel you have to check. In America, you can only bring your accoutrements on board, and your dress blues,” she instructed him.

“They should know we are military. We wear our dress uniforms,” Alexi said.

Terrorists could buy those, American, and Russian alike, at a PX Exchange,” Jayde said. “We have many Americans here who collect that stuff.”

“We use this clothing for our jobs. Do some Americans collect Burger King pants?” Alexi asked in cynicism.

As much as he tried to avoid the inevitable, Sydney brought him right back.

“Have you taken up my advice, Alexi?” Sydney said, as he walked into their room.

“Your advice was invaluable, President Logan,” Alexi said.

Sydney could tell Alexi was nervous. “I have to get this central air fixed in here. You're pouring sweat, Alexi.”

“You have no problems with your air regulation, Mister President, I get distressed when I know not of my operation,” Alexi admitted.

“Your girlfriend isn't jumping out of her dress uniform, and she intimately knows what she's up against!” Sydney tried to rationalize with him.

“Actually, Mister President, I'm as nervous as Alexi. I just can't sweat, because it will ruin my make-up,” Jayde said.

“I guess the weekend's over. You two are calling me Mister President again,” Sydney said. “Lighten up, people! You stopped the Earth from certain destruction. Mister Farrow isn't as scary as that Chauzek!” Sydney said.

Jayde was analytical. She knew Sydney made sense. “I know that Chauzek would devour Daddy, Sydney. I just have to recite what you said in my mind as an affirmation.”

That was when Cheauflux phased through the wall.

“Why are you so jittery, Jayde Farrow?” Cheauflux asked, concerned.

“I thought you went back home, Cheauflux, the threat is over,” Jayde said.

“My human idiosyncrasy query isn't though. You are intriguing me as we speak. Why do rational humans become irrational at will?” Cheauflux asked.

Jayde was put on the spot. Why was she irrational? What made her fear her father? Alexi told her a few weeks back, fear is the respect for something that would harm, or kill you.

“Do you think Daddy can beat you in a fight, Alexi?” she asked Alexi out of the blue.

Alexi felt as if she had thrown a curve. “What are you talking about, Jayde?”

“I'll ask it, again, military style, so you can understand me. Can Daddy, a sixty year old man, kick your ass?” Jayde was clearer.

“Unless he is a Sambo fighter....” Alexi began.

“Trust me, he isn't a Sambo fighter,” Jayde interrupted. “When he gets out of bed in the morning, there's more creaking than a haunted house, he cannot best you in fighting. I'm not talking about letting him win out of respect either. If it was life or death, could you kick his ass?” she asked again.

Alexi still didn't know where she was going with this. He knew the rational thing to say would be wrong in her eyes. He knew it, but he answered rationally anyway.

“Yes, I could kick the ass of a sixty year old man,” Alexi said, defiantly.

“Then why are you afraid of him? You told me fear is the respect for something that would harm or kill you. He can't harm you, and he's too humane to pull a gun on you, so why are you fearing him?” she asked earnestly.

That was where she was going! She was just like him! She never asked him a question she didn't know the answer to! He was in a corner, and she was a master at delegating him where to paint!

He wagged his index finger at her. “You could be a good lawyer, also. No, I do not fear your father for what he could do to me. I fear him for what he could do to you.”

“You should know by now you shouldn't worry about me. I'm a big girl now. I love a Spetsnaz stud, and he has no opinion in the matter.”

She finally said it. He knew she had affection for him. She just never said the L word before.

“I love you also, Jayde,” Alexi smiled.

“Oh, you thought I was talking about you! I meant another Spetsnaz stud!” She smiled at him. She couldn't help it. That ripe apple was hanging at shoulder height off the tree, so why wouldn't she pick it?”

Sydney grinned. “You better watch out, Alexi, your girlfriend's a card.”

“She will realize she should not play me in cards, Sydney,” Alexi said, with a smile.

“When she always has a trump tight hand, she'll consistently win,” Sydney said. “I learned a long time ago not to argue with Nattie.”

“To answer your question, Cheauflux, I shouldn't be jittery. That was the fear of my father that should have never existed,” Jayde said. “Sometimes, your questions show me how fruitlessly nervous I can get.”

“That is what an analytical thinking human can do. Once the problem is displayed, they can overcome the problem,” Cheauflux said.

“I'm not a computer, Cheauflux. I have another idiosyncrasy called human nature. When you understand that quirk, you'll be able to understand the rest of them with more ease,” she said.

“You haven't said goodbye to Nattie yet, Jade. You can go upstairs, and ask the woman butler where Nattie's dressing room is. You can thank her for getting you those Jackie Joyner-Kersee killers,” Sydney said.

“He's talking about those Altra Lone Peak running shoes, Alexi, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee is...” she was cut off.

“I know of your world famous track star! That is the definition of ‘world famous’. Do you know who Svetlana Boginskaya is?” he asked her.

“An Olympic gymnast who held her own against the United States Olympic Gymnastics team. They call her the Belarus Swan,” Jayde said.

“Her name is Khorkina now, but you do know of her?” he asked.

“Yes, Alexi, I know of her,” Jayde said.

“She is Russian, by the way.” Alexi wanted to hit his point home.

“Yep, you two are a couple,” Sydney said. “I think Nattie wants to say bye to you, Jayde. Please go upstairs.”

Jayde had that ‘thank you for saving me, Sydney’ look on her face, as she left to find Nattie.

Jayde went upstairs, and saw the butler. She asked where Nattie was, and the butler gave her a pass, and directed Jayde to Mrs. Logan's dressing room.

Alfonzo was standing guard. Jayde showed him her pass, and Alfonzo let her in. She knocked on Nattie's door.

“Come in!” Nattie yelled through the door.

Jayde opened the door to see Nattie admiring herself in three full-length mirrors, in a dinner dress.

“You're a beautiful first lady, Nattie,” Jayde spoke behind her.

Jayde surprised Nattie. Nattie turned her head to see who it was, and saw Jayde admiring her elegance.

“Oh, this old thing? I'm about to wash the limo, and I misplaced my sweats. How you doin', Girl?” Nattie asked with a smile.

“I've come to say goodbye, Nattie,” Jayde said, somberly. “You were my first sister.”

“You coming back, Girlfriend?” Nattie asked.

“I have to visit Daddy and Mom, first. I'll come back in a couple days, before I travel back to Belize,” Jayde said.

“Is Alexi accompanying you on your visit to your parents?” Nattie asked.

“Alexi isn't afraid of Daddy anymore, and yes, he will be accompanying me on my trip. It would be difficult to tell them he's my boyfriend if he isn't there,” Jayde said.

Nattie began smiling. “My Girl! You heard what I said. You have a good man. Don't let anybody, even your parents, tell you any differently.”

“I've realized nobody should be able to push me around. I tell that to my girls in my rape prevention course. It doesn't matter what type of rape it is. Physical, mental, paternal, maternal, or otherwise, they shouldn't be able to control your body or mind,” Jayde concluded.

“It takes you a while to assimilate information, but when you accept the sense it makes, you become steadfast, Girl!” Nattie was realizing Jayde's conclusion was pure, not manufactured. “Come here.”

Jayde walked over to Nattie. Nattie gave her a big hug, and began rocking Jayde.

“My little girl is all grown up, now,” Nattie spoke in Jayde's ear.

Jayde hugged her back. “Spacibo, Girlfriend.”

“That's good, you need to learn your boyfriend's language, so he can't cuss you out in Russian,” Nattie grinned.

“Like I told Specialist Vasquez, the TOW operator who helped me take down that Chauzek; Madame Muscle!” Jayde exclaimed.

Nattie hugged her tighter. “Goodbye, Girl.”

“Do svidaniya, Nattie.” Jayde kept up her lingual abilities.

“You should be fluent the next time I see you, Girl,” Nattie told her.

“All I know is, I'll be able to say more than ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’. I'll see you next week, Nattie. Even I can't study that fast.” Jayde was happy she found a new friend.

“You have to go and see Daddy, you ready?” Nattie asked.

“As I'll ever be,” Jayde said. “You two are like my other parents.”

“But we don't look like your other parents.We're too young for that. Think of us as your older brother and sister.” Nattie defended her age.

“Oh, Nattie, My older brother isn't that smart,” Jayde smiled.

“You know, if we keep saying goodbye, you're going to miss your flight,” Nattie said.

“You caught on to my plan of missing my flight, so I don't have to see Daddy!” Jayde feigned disappointment. “I'm just kidding, Nattie. It's not like that'll be the last flight to New York.”

“Besides, Girl, if you keep missing your flights, Sydney can take Air Force One out of the garage.” Nattie smiled.

“That's funny, Nattie, the White House garage,” Jayde said.

“I'll get Alfonzo to grab your things,” Nattie said. “Alfonzo, come in here, please!”

Alfonzo came into Nattie's changing room. “At your service, Madame.”

“Alfonzo, could you grab all of Jayde's and Alexi's equipment, take it out, and pack the limo, please?” Nattie asked.

Alfonzo bowed to the ladies, and left for downstairs.

“You better tell Alfonzo to pack your personal items on top. You don't want to dig for your Shalini in front of JFK,” Nattie advised.

“I'll see you next week, Nattie.” Jayde waved to her.

“Show your father, Madame Muscle is alive, well, and strong, Girl.” Nattie waved back.

Jayde went down the stairs to the guest room. Alfonzo had already taken some of her bags to the limousine.

“Thank goodness Alfonzo didn't take my carry-on yet, I want to keep that like you do, Alexi,” Jayde said.

“The Secret Service agent is very efficient, however, I still have to watch my equipment,” Alexi said.

“You're not going to be in a hostile environment, or jump out of a plane any time soon,” Jayde said.

“I know I am not jumping out of a plane, but the whole hostile environment scenario is a situation yet to be answered,” Alexi said.

“I thought you were over that querulous feeling,” Jayde said.

“I am a soldier, a Special Forces one at that. I am trained to expect the unexpected,” Alexi said.

“And now you've witnessed aliens? All your doubts must have gone out the window,” she said.

“They went out the window the day I fell in love with an American,” he said.

“Those precocious American Neanderthals!” Jayde draped her arms around his shoulders, and gave him a long kiss.

Sydney actually got uncomfortable. “Okay soldiers, we’re in TMI land. I think I have to go and sign some bills. You two kids take care.”

They both looked at Sydney, and said in unison, “Do svidaniya, Sydney.”

Alexi looked at Jayde. “You are getting good at Russian. What does this mean? YA lyublu tebya kak sumasshedshiy kotenka.” He smiled at her.

“No fair, Mister Russian is my first language!” She play-hit him on the shoulder.

“Be careful, Alexi, the girl is smart. You won't be able to talk dirty to her in Russian for too much longer,” Sydney smiled.

“I know enough English to tell her I want to kiss her four thousand times, but never in the same place twice,” Alexi grinned at Sydney. “That phrase I said was a loving one. I just gave her a little homework.”

Jayde pulled out her personal data assistant, and put it under Alexi's chin. “Say it again, buddy, I'll find out by Friday.”

Alexi recited the phrase, slowly. “Did you get that, Vozlyublennyy?” he asked.

“You're just playing with me now. I'm going to find out what you said.” Jayde had a determined look on her face.

Alfonzo came in for the rest of her bags. “Would you like to hold on to that bag, Lieutenant?”

“I have this one, Alfonzo. I will take this one with me,” Jayde said.

“I don't want to keep you here. You two have half an hour to get to JFK. You won't have to wait, under my order, so you two should be in the air within an hour.” Sydney waved to them. “Farewell, soldiers.”

“Goodbye, Mister President!” Jayde wanted to give Sydney his respect.

Alfonzo grabbed the rest of Jayde's bags, and began to walk to the limo.

The Secret Service gathered the rest of the bags, Jayde's and Alexis’—Alexi watched his bags—and they began to travel to John Fitzgerald Kennedy Airport. They went straight to the terminal, while the plane was ready to board. They got on first, and sat in first class. The flight attendants offered them Dom Perignon, and vodka. It seemed as though they knew the soldiers were coming.

“I am sorry, Sir. I just got over my flying phobias a little while ago, I need to have all my faculties about me when I fly. Do you have any bottled water?” Jayde was polite in denying her champagne, besides, they were on their way to meet her father. She didn't want to look cognizant altered around him.

“And would you like a bottled water, also, Sir?” the flight attendant asked Alexi.

“I jump out of these things for recreation. Please, bring me vodka.” Alexi definitely wasn't afraid to fly.

The attendant returned with a whiskey glass filled with Absolut.

Alexi wanted to try something for Jayde. When in Rome... “Thank you, Sir.”

Jayde was surprised at Alexi appreciating the flight attendant in English!

“I know you know English, but that's the first time I heard you say thank you to anyone other than the president,” she whispered to him.

“If you are doing it for me, I should do it for you,” he said.

“I have a bit of homework for you to do.” She began to whisper in his ear.

Alexi's eyes got wide. “You know I know English!”

“Then what I asked you to do should be easy to figure out.” She had a sultry look on her face.

“I am Russian. I understand kilometers. How high is a mile, and why do you want me to join a club?” Alexi asked.

Jayde smiled, and whispered in his ear again.

“That is another American idiosyncrasy,” he said.

That's an important one, Alexi,” she told him.

The flight attendant recited her safety mantra, and they taxied for takeoff. This was it. Jayde felt more concerned with meeting her father than battling that Chauzek. Alexi seemed relaxed. Maybe she did need some alcohol to calm her nerves.

They were at cruising altitude, so they disengaged their seat belts. Jayde leaned to Alexi, and whispered in his ear.

“I am very jumpy, Honey, I really need an endorphin release. Go to the bathroom in the back of the plane. I'll come back in fifteen minutes to initiate you into the Mile High Club,” she whispered.

“Is this an illegal action?” Alexi whispered back.

“Let's just say, you're going to want to write Penthouse Forums after this experience,” Jayde whispered.

Alexi was always one to comply with his girlfriend. He got up from his seat, and walked back to the rear rest room. He slid the lock to show the ‘occupied’ sign, and waited.

It took around ten minutes. Jayde came back to the rest room door. She did the beginning of the ‘shave and a haircut’ song, to let him know he could open the door. Dat-da-da-dat-dat. Alexi opened the door.

“Dat-dat,” he said to her as she walked into the rest room.

She began by kissing him surprisingly, and deeply. Then she began to undo his uniform.

“The only requirement to join the Mile High Club is to be quiet!” she whispered to him.

“You are rather... aggressive, Jayde,” Alexi said in a low tone.

As she unbuckled his belt, she looked into his eyes. ”Do me a favor, Alexi, enjoy your first American commercial flight, and shut up.”

She shoved her tongue down his throat again, to stop his words and opinions. It must have worked. He closed his eyes, and shut up.

They had an amazing rest room visit, and a relaxing flight.

They landed at LaGuardia Airport, and went to the baggage claim.

“So, how was your first commercial flight in America?” Jayde asked him.

“The only thing I can say is you cannot do that on an Illusion,” he said.

She hugged his arm, while walking. “We're military, we can try it.”

“I believe you are too adventurous,” Alexi said.

“I guess I'll have to put that one on my Rocking Chair Test.” She said.

“What is your Rocking Chair Test?” Alexi was curious.

“When I'm an old lady, sitting on my porch, and I look back at my life, I don't want to have any shoulda, woulda, couldas. When I die, I want no regrets,” she explained her test.

“Is this test the same as a Bucket List?” he asked.

“It's similar; a Bucket List is a list of things you want to do before you die, a Rocking Chair Test helps you make strange or difficult decisions. A Rocking Chair Test helps you make the decisions you don't want to do, while a Bucket List is an after the fact maneuver,” Jayde explained.

“You know you could have been a teacher,” Alexi said.

“I use my teaching skills for me, Mister Oxytocin.” She smiled at him.

“What can I say? I am a good student.” Alexi smiled back at her.

They went to the baggage claim, and Alexi inspected his equipment. Jayde should've expected that. They were about to hail a cab, when they saw a gentleman in a business suit displaying a card that said ‘Lieutenant Farrow/Sergeant Doshmonoov’. He was waiting for them.

“President Logan requested your safe travel, soldiers,” the Secret Service agent said. Two soldiers took their bags, put them in the trunk of a limousine, and stood by the rear door the agent opened for them.

“I guess we get some fringe benefits for saving the world,” Jayde said to Alexi.

They got in the back of the limousine. Some police got on their motorcycles. The soldiers got into a Humvee, and the agent got behind the wheel of the limousine.

They traveled to Granville, New York. They took Interstate 87 to get there. It was a full presidential compliment. They were surrounded by Humvees, police escort, and a helicopter. They felt as if they were important. They knew there was no one plotting to assassinate them. There were no alien PETA radicals in existence. There were pro-USA freaks that would shoot Alexi if they had a chance.

President Logan always said, “The second you let your guard down, that is when you began to swallow bullets.” That was why he gave them a full complement.

“Remind me to thank Sydney for saving us the cab fare,” Jayde told Alexi.

Alexi had his game face on. The last time she saw him that serious was when they were in their initial briefing.

“Calm down, Alexi. You're not prepping to take over a third world country, although, I know you could do it. You're about to meet Daddy. He loves me, so that means he'll love you.” Jayde tried to ease his mind.

“Spacibo for your words of encouragement, but a Spetsnaz soldier assumes nothing. The second you assume, you get hurt. Forgive me, Sweetheart, that is who I am,” Alexi explained the inevitable.

“It won't be as devastating as you think,” she told him. “Daddy is a rational man.”

“Is that why you wanted an incredible last meal on the plane, before you came to visit your father?” Alexi asked her. “We deal with stress in different ways.”

She was surprised at his question. “I'm not stressed!”

“...anymore.” Alexi finished her sentence.

They remained quiet, until they got to Granville. Jayde was remembering her birth place. Where she played hide-n-seek with her brother, and softball with her friends. She reminisced when they passed the library. That was where her oceanic curiosity's seed was planted. It actually grew into a majestic Sequoia.

Then they turned the corner to her father's house. It was a brick home, but the trim's paint was a different color. Her old house looked like an imposter. Her father was outside, shoveling the sidewalk when the entourage pulled up.

The Secret Service driver got out of the limousine. “My name is Agent Shellings of the Secret Service. Are you Mister Farrow?”

John Farrow confirmed his identity.

“Mister Farrow, we have your daughter, accompanied by her bodyguard in the back of the limousine. She has come to pay you a visit.”

“Kitten has come to see her daddy, well, tell her to get out here!” John was excited.

Agent Shellings walked to the rear passenger door of the limousine, and elevated his voice through the window of the limousine. “Lieutenant Farrow, Mister Farrow requests your presence!”

“Well, this is it, Alexi. Time to pay the piper,” she said.

“You have to educate me on your American mannerisms, because I do not want to pay anyone to meet your father,” Alexi said.

“It's another figure of speech called an idiom. Shut up, and get out there,” Jayde said.

They both took a couple deep breaths, and got out of the limousine.

All the apprehension, delirium, nervousness, and sweat went away when she saw her father. Jayde ran to her father.

“Daddy!” she called out, running, with her arms wide.

She embraced her father.

“I heard my little girl has the Medal of Honor in her jewelry box,” John said. “President Logan told me you were coming.”

“Why didn't you come to my function, Daddy?” Jayde was concerned.

“I had some prior, required engagements, control the animal population. Nature is designed with harmony. One's desperate intention for s but President Logan sent me the DVD of your function. I'm wearing it out now. He also said you were coming to see me, so I waited to give you a hug,” John said. “I heard you saved the world! You can't shake a stick at that.”

Funny, her dream came true. Now she just had to get that astronaut/president thing down.

She hugged him again. Alexi walked near the two.

“This is Sergeant Doshmononov, Daddy. He is my bodyguard,” Jayde said.

Alexi held out his hand. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Mister Farrow.”

John went over to Alexi, and hugged him. “Any man that protected my daughter while she saved the world is all right in my book.”

Alexi felt strange. All the horror stories Jayde told him portrayed Mr. Farrow in the wrong light. He wasn't the flesh eating ogre Jayde said he was. He was a cordial gentleman.

“It was my duty, and also my pleasure, Mister Farrow,” Alexi said.

“You are at your location safely, Lieutenant. We will return to take you back to LaGuardia at 2000 hours,” Agent Shellings said.

“Godspeed, Agent Shellings,” Jayde said farewell.

“It's cold out here. Let's go inside. The sidewalk can wait,” John said.

I have not been home in two months, Mister Farrow. I do not think it is cold out here. May I finish shoveling your sidewalk?” Alexi asked.

John looked at Jayde.

“He's from Russia, Daddy. This is summer compared to Siberia,” Jayde said.

John acknowledged what she said, and give Alexi the snow shovel. “The snow's all yours, Sergeant. This gives me time to catch up with my little girl.”

Alexi took the shovel. “Spac... thank you, Mister Farrow.”

“Spacibo is ‘thank you’ in Russian, Daddy,” Jayde explained.

“You two must have gotten close in the past few months,” John said.

She was about to tell him how close in a few minutes.


Alexi relaxed himself with work. The snow was a wet snow. It wasn't fluffy, it was messy, and heavy. Must people would shovel the snow in levels. Alexi was taking entire swaths of snow away in one scoop. Then he realized his form of snow removal would be too fast, and he would interrupt Jayde and her father's reunion, so he began shoveling in levels.

It took longer, but Alexi was still concerned about Jayde telling her father the news. He finished at twilight. He walked to the front door. He knocked, and entered. John was sitting on his lounger, while Jayde sat on the couch. She had a pensive look on her face.

John peered at Alexi with a stern look.

“Question one, are you in any other relationships in Russia?” John asked.

It had begun, the father interrogation.

“No, Mister Farrow. I do not have any other relationships back in Russia. My job is my mistress,” Alexi said.

“Question two,” John continued. “What are your intentions towards my daughter?”

“I love your daughter, Mister Farrow. My intention is to love her,” Alexi said. He was honest and succinct.

“Have you ever hit a woman out of anger, or have used drugs?” John continued.

“It is forbidden for a Spetsnaz soldier to engage in any of those activities, and I have a moral responsibility not to partake in any of those activities,” Alexi answered.

“Do you love my daughter?” John asked the important question.

“Yes, Mister Farrow, I am hopelessly in love with Jayde Farrow,” Alexi said.

Now, this is the most important question I have for you,” Jayde's father said. “Do you play billiards?”

Alexi looked at Jayde's smile on her face, then he saw John's smile.

“They call me ‘The Soviet Shark’ in Oslo, Russia.” Alexi was relieved.

“I have a pool table down in the basement. I'm going to take you to school, Son. I'll give you two a minute to talk about how scary you thought I was going to be. I bought that Shalini for a reason. When you two are done, come downstairs, and take your medicine,” John smiled.

As John went downstairs, Alexi sat on the couch, next to Jayde.

“That was not as difficult as we speculated,” he said.

“I told him you were a good man, and it turned out that was what he wanted me to find after I started my career,” Jayde said.

“But the civil rights demonstrations he participated in,” Alexi said.

“Nattie told me a few days ago, civil rights means equal treatment, not the right to hate ‘Whitey’. Your ethnicity didn't even come up in our conversation,” she said. “He just wanted to know if you were serious about his only daughter.”

“Again, it was my duty and honor to protect you, Jayde,” Alexi said. 'Now, I have to go downstairs to show your father I can run the table.”

“When Daddy embarrasses you, don't get mad,” she said.

Alexi smiled as he walked downstairs.


A species can flourish when it has no predators to stop it. The Everglades are filled with predators; animals designed by God to urvival becomes anther animal's snack. You never think about how intricate existence is.

One animal, an animal indigenous to this planet, but very foreign, lived in the Everglades.

The evolved Chauzek was a different type of Chauzek. Since it evolved on Earth, it took on the planet's properties.

It was from Valan-Cheanaus, so it was asexual, but it evolved on this planet. That gave it the opportunity to have offspring!

As one of its litter slid into a river and transformed into a shark-like devourer of other fauna biota, it showed this wasn't over.


I had to learn a lot for this one. Peptides, oxytocin (thanks Roisin), different rankings and military procedures, everything. I consider my writings edutainment. They are definitely fantasy in story, but a Foxbat is a real fighter jet.

It was fun writing about my military experiences. My friends say I should write an autobiography, but why give away all my material in one book? That is the epitome of shooting yourself in the foot.

Did you read the preliminary first? I stressed it would tell you nothing about the story. If you read it before you read this conclusion, I think it would satisfy you more.

I wanted to make up a race of aliens we couldn't defeat. A race that was unstoppable, and try to find an amicable solution. That was a challenge.

Stories don't just fall into your lap. You honestly have to work at them. Sometimes it becomes Art House, where aficionados are the only ones who can see your direction. Others are succinct tales. Stories everyone can follow.

The critics who critique Art House material should be ethereal aficionados. A typical critic has no business judging something they don't understand.

You hope everyone can find a sliver of entertainment in your story. They may not like the entire story, however, there should be something they should be interested in. If they find something interesting, they may slip, trip, and fall into the tale.

I like sharing my warped ideas. Writing a story is an adventure for me as well. I usually have a rough outline about a story, but that's it, a rough outline. I never know where a story is going to end up. I've never read that book before. It takes time to think up an ending.

Back in the day, movies never had epilogues. You kill the bad guy, and the credits roll. Later, they started epilogues. Now, you expect it, unless they are making a franchise with sequels.

Many of my friends tell me I need to make sequels. I don't want to mar the integrity of the story. This story could be a sequel. I could make another story, but why? I think I would have another good chapter. The rest of the story would be fluff. I don't write for fluff. That is where extra money and franchises are birthed. If I don't have a series of stories already planned from the beginning, I don't want to cheat the fans by manufacturing a story. That's a shallow art. I don't do, or entertain, shallow. Haven't you ever seen a movie you loved, and when they came out with a second, the story falls apart? Certain movies and books are made for only one story. When it's over, it's over. Don't manufacture another story just to make it a franchise. That's my two cents for books or movies.

Certain entertainment was built for sequels. The Borne movies, the Dark Tower stories. You expect another. If Steve made The Stand 2, I wouldn't read it. As great as Stephen King is, I don't think even he could continue a story that has already finished.

Hopefully, this story leaves it up to your imagination. Your mind can make a scarier scenario than I could write, so why spoil your morbid fun?

I hope you enjoyed this story. Make your own sequel.

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