Stars, Only Visible in Darkness

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Stars, Only Visible in Darkness, Robot, Robots, Blonde, German, Spy, Mecha, God, Transhuman, Tor, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Tor Books, Torling, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Torlok, Hugos, Hugo Awards, Sad Puppies, Rapid Puppies, Vox Day, Radical Islam, Muslim Invasion of Europe



Authors Note


Though this is a direct prequel to Starblade, there exist many connections to both published Neo-human stories, and those yet to be released.


Epigraph


I see angels, angels in this very room. Now, I may be mad, but that doesn't mean that I'm not right. Because there's another force at work here. There always has been. It's undeniable. We've all experienced it. Everyone in this room has witnessed events that they can't fathom, let alone explain by rational means. Puzzles deciphered in prophecy. Dreams given to a chosen few. Our loved ones, dead, risen. Whether we want to call that "God" or "gods" or some sublime inspiration or a divine force we can't know or understand, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. It's here. It exists, and our two destinies are entwined in its force.

--- Doctor Gaius Baltar, Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak Part 3




Part 1. Machine Cult


[Argentina, Ushuaia. Techatron Union. June 1, 2029]

Eyesight, digitized. The world became an ugly lime green, pixelated fog, as her heads-up display tried to compensate for the recursive feedback, induced by the node jacked into her right temple. The node worked perfectly with most human interfaces. Yet, thanks to Frederika's 'enhanced' nature, it presented a conflict. Oberon Kreis, her guardian, assured Frederika, those very superhuman improvements however allowed her entree, and the skill to avoid Omicron.

She just wished that the shrill buzz would lay off inside her brain.

Omicron attempted to align Frederika to its overmind. Only passively aware of her, its next scan, Frederika could be sure, the great machine would accomplish its connection. Not a whole lot of time to pilfer those gel circuits.

Frederika harrumphed, ran her fingertips across the cool ceramic alloy wall. HUD restored on retinas, that belonged to big emerald cat-eyes. Thus far, she'd managed to avoid both humanoids, or Techla. Sooner or later, she'd encounter a member of the Techatron Union. That's why she wore the implanted node, so as to appear as if she were a novice cultist.

The beginnings of Omicron were shrouded in rumor. Far as could be determined, Omicron predated The Singularity. Which didn't make much sense. Those so called, self-aware computers that followed were not at Omicron's level. There were no true AIs. Only extremely good mimicries of the human brain. Sentient, but not sapient. Tantamount of beast to man. Nothing like Omicron. The technological rapture itself well-nigh obliterated Omicron and its followers. The event scarred, or killed many members of the Union. Those who hadn't yet uploaded into Techla bodies were said to have been resurrected by Omicron. Living dead, animated by nanites.

Two pallid, bald humanoids, known as Tors, garbed in utilitarian gray overcoats, eyes hidden behind thick black lenses, went by, gave no acknowledgment to Frederika's person. A male and female. For whatever gender counted among these people. Neither so much as ogled Frederika's generous cleavage, or admired her honey blonde mane, that she presently wore in Punk braids, a plait loose, over her left eye. To be remade into automatons. The whole idea offended Frederika. Yet the Techatron Union seemed never lacking recruits, eager to join up and get the First Stage Node. What for? What did they get out of it? A near loss of individuality.



Heads-up display presented a schematic that guided Frederika down a descending, labyrinthine passageway. Lower into the complex, it became colder. Advanced eyesight aside, at her every exhalation, Frederika could behold streams of her own breath, coming out in crystalline particles. Temperature variations seldom bothered her. yet, she'd an aversion to genuine iciness, as her advanced body tended to lock up, heat proved much less of an issue.

Beyond a side archway, Frederika glanced in, and eyed a hive of Techla. Ovular tentacled bodies hovered, and burst with gel synapses, congregated close to a giant, levitating black globe, that brandished a fiery red eye. The Omicron core. Bright scarlet caught her attention, jarred with the otherwise dull silver decor. A Budjah Monk? What was a Budjah, doing here? They were hardily affiliated with the Techatron Union.

The monk moved, and talked at the Omicron core, in a grating, synthesized voice, surrounded by Techla, hands inside the folds of his voluminous, crimson frock. From a thick beaded rope, swung a hefty crucifix. Yet most striking to Frederika, his golden robotic bucket-head, that featured a singular black rectangular sensor plate. Could this Budjah, be a Mecha?

Neither the Omicron core, or this odd, perhaps, mechanical monk, were why Frederika had come to Argentina. She required the gel circuitry.




The Techatron, were shockingly open. Given their preference for a collective, which functioned as a literal Communist system, it made sense. Techatron also maintained a rather open door policy. Even inside their complex. Gel circuity was stored in a public warehouse, so any cultist, Techla, or Tors could go about self-repairs. Only necessary to gain access, a valid node. And her own node had been hacked, in order to make it register as a Second Stage Node – Tors, even though it was really a novice, First Stage implant.

Frederika paused outside the warehouse vault, took a deep breath, and stepped toward the automatic doors – Which promptly parted, once the security scanner validated her node. Relief however remained short. Inside the silent vault were a number of Techatron. All keeping to themselves, but for a disinterested glance at her, as she entered.

Silence, that was one of the most upsetting features about this place. Its absolute hush. Of course, everyone partook in the overmind. No need to gossip.

Unusual technology, of various sorts crammed the vault. Frederika needed an NT5 ClusterPak, standard to both Techla and Tors. Of course, Oberon's Blackeagle Knights (really, her Blackeagle Knights) had acquired their Intel from a disaffected Tors, but the latent technology in his body proved most useless, since it already imprinted onto his nervous system. That is why she'd come, they required a tabula rasa gel circuit, to study and replicate.

Frederika went to the locker labeled: NT5 ClusterPak, It scanned her node. She tapped in the numeral 3. and it dispensed three, quarter-size discs, each in a protective seal. Nonchalantly, Frederika placed the gel circuits into her thigh sack. Exiting the vault, Frederika reminded herself, the Techatron were a cult and not a paranoid government, bent on keeping secrets. Oberon had been right. This was a milk run. Just in and out. All she needed to do, get to the hover bike, stashed outside and make the extraction point in time for retrieval.



There were no alarms. No blaring klaxons.

Only, foreboding silence.

Frederika quickened her stride. Soon confronted by a palisade of Tors, that looked on in that disinterested, chilly manner all seemed to have assumed. None however, made an aggressive move. They just blocked the path. Behind, an aggregation of Techla barred her way.

Icy tendrils of an all-powerful intelligence stretched out to its many followers. And in its deep vocalizations, issued a command. “Bring her to us.”

Superhuman agility propelled Frederika. She ran up the nearby wall. Tors grasped at her limbs. She punched and flailed, and somersaulted over them all. No doubt inflicting grievous injury to those whom her rock hard fists rained down upon.

Soon, Techla were upon Frederika. Many tentacled appendages, clasped onto her arms and legs, slowing her advance. Frederika tore wiry extremities off many a floating ovular body. Yet Omicron did the math. Numbers proved enough to overcome Frederika's superhuman strength. It had an inexhaustible army of drones to send at her.

Whether Frederika understood it or not. She wasn't, as a being, completely 'Switched On'. All because the man who brought her up, did not grok her true nature. If anything harmful befell Frederika, Oberon would be at fault.

Omicron, did have an idea. Which proved to be its advantage.



Part 2. The Face of Rao


Frederika struggled against her bonds.

“Those fibers, will tighten up, harder you fight.”

“Yes. Best to relax. Omicron selected them, just for you.”

“Naturally.” Quipped Frederika.

On either side of the restraining bench, were two Tors. This duo were known to Frederika. Torling, the female, and Torlock, the male. Out of place among all the rest of their kind. What with being overweight, compared to most, gangly, almost malnourished Tors. These were the human founders of the Techatron Union. Who they'd been before, none could be sure. Biographies, long ago misplaced to the depredations of World War III and its near desolation of society. Omicron's overmind, since supplemented Torling, and Torlock as leaders of the Techatron Union. It, if nothing else, proved to be a more honest, if not more God-like ruler.

“Go Torling, Torlock. We desire to speak with our guest alone.” Omicron's disembodied voice said while its intense red eye burned hard. “There is much We must come to understand. For her singular being interests us.”

Great! Thought Frederika. A supercomputer that thinks of itself in the royal plural.

The room darkened after Torling, and Torlock left. Only the bench Frederika had been latched against remained lit. Also the temperature further dropped. “You – Should – Not – Exist!” Omicron declaimed, both indignant and yet betraying concern.

“Neither, should you.” Frederika answered back. “Und yet. Here we are.”

The surge jactitated her body. Not electric, rather, Omicron manipulated her neural structure, impelling undulations of pain, or pleasure throughout Frederika.

“What do you want to know?” Frederika gasped when the last wave hit. “I'm just an augmented human.” She felt another surge coming on. “Nothing special. Genetic engineering is common place since The Singularity --”

Omicron shot her with another jolt of extreme pain.

Profound pleasure soon followed.

“This is not the brain of a hominid.” Omicron stated, with condescension. It spent after all a great deal of its time cohabiting hominid minds. “Least of all, that of an augmented human.”

The hologram of what Frederika guessed to be her very own brain hovered before her. No. It really did not resemble any brain she'd ever seen. Not with its fibrous, blue crystal lattice and pulsing blips, which were more electronic, than organic.

“That, is a positronic mind.”

“You're saying, I'm a gynoid. A robot.” Frederika didn't think it herself. It didn’t make any sense. “Positronic minds are the insurmountable, uncanny valley. The impossibility. The reason there is no, true Artificial Intelligence. Only facsimile.” Frederika guaranteed Omicron. “I bleed, I eat, I excrete. I fuck.” She proclaimed. “I am a living being.”

“Primitive, inaccurate summation.” Omicron mused. “What you are. If you are, what We suspect. Only God could construct. We've some acquaintance.”

Frederika thought the overmind, might have gone insane.

“Sure --”

Another round of pleasure and pain. Frederika writhed, arched her back, which only caused her constraints to tighten. On the brink of, what could only be described as an orgasm, she fell into darkness.

Blue sparks, stars, brightened the dark which surrounded Frederika. They twinkled and pulsed.

“Tell me.” Coldly demanded Omicron. “Who, made you?”

Awareness restored to her wracked body, yet, far off, twinkled those blue stars. “You don't care that I came to steal your technology?”

Omicron repeated. “Who, made you?”

“As you've demonstrated.” Frederika answered. “My mind is an open book --”

A bombardment of pain/pleasure. Along with it, a hint of information that intrigued Omicron. A known corporation's name: Genetic Konnections INC.

Biographical data related to Frederika began to scroll across the domed curve of the chamber: Frederika Gisela von Gotha, Duchess of Saxe-Coburg. Heiress, to Duke Magnus and his wife Gisela Gotha, née Drossel.

In the shadows, the scarlet robed Budjah witnessed Omicron interrogate its prisoner, careful to go unnoticed. The monk hadn't ever seen Omicron quite so troubled, as it had, when its overmind locked onto Frederika's node.

Omicron frantic, if you could characterize a stringently glacial, dispassionate intellect as such, hunted every available network for hints related to Genetic Konnections INC. Nothing, but ghosts, where information should have been, yet wasn't.

“Tell me, about Veritraan Prime.”

“I don't know what Veritraan Prime is.” Frederika truthfully said.

It wasn't the pain that bothered Frederika, so much. She could endure that. Omicron had discovered a chink, forcing her to near orgasm and pulling it away. That agitated her. Frederika could have sworn Omicron was getting depraved enjoyment from inducing such reactions out of her lithesome chassis. Yet, he – It, was an asexual machine.

Blinking out, under more torture, Frederika again beheld those blue stars. Orbs of light, in interminable darkness. Their vibrations, and light provided warm solace.

When once more, Frederika was fully present in her body, Omicron amazingly offered. “We shall tell you, of Veritraan.”

Frederika understood, Omicron only shared its guarded accumulation of knowledge, in order to cajole more out of her. But this seemed worth it. “I'm listening.” She bit off. “You und your royal self, can entertain me.”

All holograms, ceased. Leaving the room empty black.

Before Frederika, a gargantuan face materialized. Dominated by red lidless eyes, the static-y hologram of a burnished, gilded countenance, employed a simple downward mouth, over a pointy chin. No nose, and an ovular head. Where ears should have been, were domes. Very mechanical, robotic looking. Frederika's own imagination completed the details. Guessing a slight frame and that head supported by a thin neck. Disturbingly, alien.

“We, are Rao.” Explained the gilded face in Omicron's voice.

“Oh...” A moment of insight. “Alien? But that's absurd. There are no extraterrestrials. Not yet. Only varied human types, each moving off into a new branch, thanks to technology --”

“You,” said Rao. “Are not in error. We are not alien, as it is commonly comprehended on this planet.” The face of Rao leaned closer, and continued in a whisper. “Once, before time, as measured by you, a civilization roamed the stars. The FIRST civilization. Given a spark of life by the Ramahite Crystal – Shard of a hyperintelligence.”

“Und you, Rao, or is it Omicron?” Frederika speculated, Omicron might be really two different computer minds. “You're the aggregate intelligence of this now dead species?”

“An orb,” said the Face of Rao. “The incipient Omicron core, crashed onto this planet. Generations, buried it slumbered. Humans, expelled from their garden paradise, soon built a civilization above it. Flourished. Until one day, it was unearthed by a man, a human who called himself, Veritraan Prime. He sought immortality and used the orb to construct for himself a Cathedral in the stars. There, Veritraan placed Thirteen Watchmen to guard his citadel.”

That didn't explain Rao's other personality.

“Und, Omicron?”

“We are Rao, We are Omicron.” The face of Rao explained. “Omicron, is the consequence of Veritraan's contact with the core.”

“Many minds, made one. Yes, I think I understand --”

Omicron/Rao hit her with a wave of pain. “You are of the Ramahite Crystal. How?”

“Rao...” Now, Frederika started to lose her temper. Whatever the truth, Omicron must have been damaged in its history. Probably by The Singularity. “My guardian, Oberon Kreis, only ever told me I am an advanced human. Born in his own Father's corporation’s, genetic research labs. I've never heard of Veritraan Prime, or this Ramahite Crystal.”

Omicron implored. “You are forged of it. Just as We, the Rao were.”

“Perhaps...” Frederika exhaled.

She didn't often feel fatigue. It took much to break Frederika's endurance. The trance overcame her consciousness. Darkness surmounted Frederika's existence. Out there, a multitude of blue stars oscillated heavenly light. For the first time, she beheld them for what they genuinely were. Embryos. Others like herself. The blue silhouette approached. A cloaked figure, extended a finger to her temple, and an electronic ping, brought Frederika, furious out of the vision. Emerald eyes, illuminated neon-blue. Breaking her bonds, Frederika became an instrument of destruction.



Fists, drenched in blood, and goo. Woozy, Frederika, whose skull pounded, slumped against the hover bike that seconds before she uncovered from underneath a tarp.

“Despite its abhorrent handling of you.” The bucket-headed Budjah Monk remarked when he traipsed out of the hole Frederika tore, barefisted, in the Techatron Dome's wall. “Omicron, does have, or at least, keeps, the possibility for, moral agency.” He moved closer, studied the node embedded in Frederika's temple. “Here, let me help.” Produced a tool from his robe. “Fascinating.” Yes indeed. The wound where the node had been, began to at once mend. “There. The buzz should go away, and Omicron won't be able to trace you.”

“What's a Budjah doing here?”

“Omicron, and I have a history.”

Blonde brow raised, Frederika asked. “Are you its confessor?”

“In a manner of speaking.”

“It claims to know, God.”

The monk hummed. “So I've been told.” Explained. “My grasp of Omicron's meaning is, it has accumulated enough data, to be confident, that a transcendental Creator exists. Not so different from others who've undergone such a religious breakthrough.”

“I don't think Omicron, ah or is it, Rao --”

“You came for these.” The monk thrust a bundle into Frederika's hands.“NT5 ClusterPak, gel circuitry. Trust me Omicron won't miss them.” Urged. “Now, best to go. They'll regroup soon and there will be many more Techla to contend with.”

Frederika revved up her hover bike, steered toward the Atlantic Ocean, and skimmed over the boundless, moonlit water.




[Falkland Islands. 90 Minutes Later]

The hover bike, slipped along, only to halt in an abrupt thud, as it reached a rocky coastline. Frederika thrown off, landed a good fifteen feet away from her steed. Laying in the surf, on her side. “So… Cold...” The icy mind of Omicron didn't entirely vacate her brain once the node had been removed. “...Enough to make my systems blow...”

Overhead, a gunship levitated, and shone a bright spotlight onto the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg, slowly lowered and touched down on the island.

Frederika blinked, faltering, at the edge of unconsciousness. Before she yielded to sleep, Frederika glimpsed the war weary, eye-patched, and bearded visage of Oberon Kreis, her guardian. Mighty hands, raised Frederika up off the sand and carried her onto the gunship. “I've got you” A thick, Prussian accent, paternally soothed. “I'm here, my child.”




Part 3. Ciji



[The Veste Coburg, Germany. June 12, 2029]

Days, Frederika slept, while her body repaired. When it came to medical concerns and the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg, her guardian came to understand, it was best to leave Frederika's body to take care of itself, as it seemed geared toward self-repair.

Helpful, Frederika never got sick.

She dreamed, of the glowing blue embryos, and the cloaked figure. In a start, Frederika sat up in her snug antique bed. Mused. “At least its not that damnable golden dragon dream.” Meaning a recurrent vision she'd experienced since childhood.

As she got out of bed, Frederika smoothed her nightgown down her leg and went to a window so she could gaze outside at the brightly-lit courtyard. Nighttime. A tarp hid Oberon's latest project. The prototype Nemesis jet. Why she'd stolen Omicron's gel circuity.

Her thoughts kept returning to that ghostly cloaked figure she'd seen in her mind's eye. Had that been Veritraan Prime? No. That felt wrong. For some reason, dwelling on Veritraan – Whatever his connection to Omicron, brought her a sense of dread.

Omicron messing with her brain, Frederika remained unfulfilled, sexually. What to do about that? Seize a footmen, and bang him in her rooms? That hadn't gone so well for either herself, or the hapless footman last time. Thinking of it, she rubbed at her pert bottom. Coburg, the city kept up a booming nightlife. There were biergartens and nightclubs regularly filled with young people. Surely, Frederika thought, she could find a worthwhile fuck in the city.

Showering. Frederika selected her most scandalous dress. A gossamer, green item with an exceedingly minimal hemline. Dispensed with a bra, which left nothing much to the imagination. Chose white lace high cut panties, so as to preserve her modesty. Completed the sexy outfit with pricy open-toe, high heel clogs. Frederika picked an alternate identification card. A persona that resonated for her. It read: Ciji Maria Drossel. Residence: Hanau. Age: 18. Becoming others, this is what Frederika did. Ready to party, the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg, slunk out of Castle Coburg.




Clogs clacked on ornate cobblestones, Frederika smiled and watched the busy progression of people around her. You'd never know that the planet recently endured a nearly calamitous World War. Of course, Genetic Konnections INC., had done its utmost to reconstruct the tiny Nation-State of Saxe-Coburg, into a thriving anchor of civilization.

Germany itself had been moving toward national self-annihilation a long while before the global conflict erupted, which if anything halted the invasive deterioration, and let Oberon and his Blackeagles sweep in and clean up the carnage.

A few guys gave Frederika the once over. Mostly fascinated by her hardened nipples beneath the semitransparent fabric of her dress. Too intimidated by her beauty however, to try a proposition. She sighed. On the one hand, in all likelihood they had no idea who she was. Oberon, for an assortment of reasons, guarded Frederika's image and kept it from being plastered everywhere. This, among other things, didn't help her social life.

Frederika ducked away, into the shadow of a building. A unit of Blackeagle Knights, outfitted in sharp black and silver uniforms went by. She grinned, Frederika had a female version of that uniform, only trimmed in gold, complete with an awesome hat. Now, Blackeagle Knights would know her on sight. They were probably already aware Frederika, very much without permission, absconded from Castle Coburg. She might be the Duchess and Saxe-Coburg her duchy, nevertheless Oberon's Counsel of Blackeagle, with military proficiency, governed the daily affairs of state.

Safe, Frederika emerged back onto the cobblestones. The aroma of food grabbed her attention. A leberkäse vendor. Hungry, she went and purchased a sandwich, and a small bottle of apple Schnapps. Her meal quickly consumed, Frederika put her mind to find a club or biergarten to spend her evening and choose a fuck buddy.




Reverberation of song, music, and chants of: ‘Ziggy zaggy, ziggy zaggy, hoi hoi hoi!’ Lured Frederika to a cacophonous biergarten. Rounding a corner, promptly she slammed face first into the bare chest of a perfect wall of a man. And oh, was he some male! Muscular broad torso, forked goatee and long red hair tied back in a ponytail. Garbed only in pants and dusterjacket. More remarkable to Frederika, his golden sheen and bright blue eyes. Genetic modifications, guessed Frederika, who tried to push him aside, yet discovered him to be astonishingly unmovable.

“Careful, little Duchess.” Said the Golden Man in a beguiling baritone.

He recognized her!

Managed. “I'm sorry.” Thwarted from entering the biergarten by his baronial presence. Ah, nein!, Frederika thought. Bikers aren't my type.

“Not a problem, little Duchess.” He leered.

“I'm,” Frederika asserted. “Ciji. Ciji Drossel.”

“Sure.” He half-growled, not buying it.

“Und, you are?”

“The Devil” Not joking. “But you can call me, Iblis Jinn.” His nostrils flared, and Iblis let out an amused laugh. “You're in heat, little Duchess.”

Great, Frederika thought. Not only does he have cosmetic improvements, he can detect pheromones! Suddenly, she found herself pondering, what other parts of Iblis might also be enhanced…

Frederika tried to get a grip. An indicator on her heads-up display registered that she churned out mass quantities of pheromones. This wasn't ordinarily an involuntary function, yet could be triggered by horny moods. Every male in range soon would bow at her feet.

“Let me sate your passions, little Duchess.” Offered Iblis Jinn in his seductive baritone.

“No, thanks.” Frederika twisted out of his dangerous embrace and entered the bustling biergarten. Not the smoothest blow off, yet it however got her away. Inside, among the rowdy crowd, Frederika placed hands to her temples and considered. That guy, Iblis, he'd have dominated her. Not what she required. She needed to dominate, not be rode by some testosterone addicted gang member – Even if he was a great specimen of a man.

Over the biergarten's incessant din, Frederika's precise hearing picked up a BBC News report playing on a holoviewer. “… His Majesty, King Odin Battenberg recently appointed Baron Silas Cumberbatch to oversee a committee, in regards to working with the American Imperium on a joint space mission.” The BBC reporter didn't hide his snobbery toward the upstart king. “Our controversial Sovereign continues to test the bounds of his power. Though, it must be pointed out, Prime Minster Bludd completely endorses his undertaking...”

Ah yes, Odin Battenberg, Frederika's improbable cousin. The adopted son of Edward VIII and his Queen, Wallis Simpson, who childless, and being natural radicals, very late in life, elected to fulfill their royal obligations in a most innovative manner. A fact, according to Oberon Kreis, that didn't change Frederika's literal relation to the upstart on the British throne. They were blood kin. She could never quite get past the weird feeling a soundless revolution took place, and that she were but a cog in the machine that built the uprising.

“Here, little Duchess, drink.”

Frederika gaped, Iblis Jinn pushed a sizable stein of frothy beer into her hand. Automatically gulped on the brew. “Danke...” She stammered, and glanced at him over the rim of the stone mug. Had to concede, he was persistent, and good looking.

“Pleased to… Serve, little Duchess.”

Things got a bit hazy, after each gulp of beer. Frederika’s brain warned, that didn’t make sense, given typically she could drink Oberon under the table. One stein of beer didn’t normally get her buzzed, never mind giddy. Yet it felt good, to let go and just be. Whatever, Frederika found herself dragged into this titan of a male’s gravity and magnetic attraction.



Later, in a rented room Frederika rode Iblis Jinn.

The modifications, and enhancements improved every part of his incandescent anatomy, including his cock. She’d never seen a gold phallus before on a living man, until now.

To her surprise, Iblis allowed Frederika to control their encounter. Permitted her to be on top, when he so easily could, and usually would have, bent her over and dominated. But Iblis Jinn understood that’s not what his ‘Little Duchess’ required this night.

A few hours later, the rented room’s door burst open and in stormed a burly cadre of Blackeagles. It hadn’t taken them that long to discover her absence from Castle Coburg, or her whereabouts. Frederika awoke, yawned and stretched, let the blanket slip away from her lush bare body, which prompted the Blackeagle commander to disapprovingly harrumph. “Madam, Colonel Kreis would care for a word.”

Unashamed by her nudity, Frederika got off the bed, irritated her sexual companion seemed to have vanished. Probably heard the troopers and thought it best to depart in haste. Likely a good idea, the Blackeagle would have tossed him in a dungeon for violating their Duchess – Even if it had been her pleasure. “Of course he does, Captain Roth.” Licked her lips and made a point as she gathered her belongings to bump into the Blackeagle commander, in all her nude glory.

Captain Roth simmered. Frederika von Gotha, could be difficult. To be sure, she’d get much more then a stern lecture. Well deserved, thought the Blackeagle commander. Not the first time Frederika had gone rogue. It was however part of his job to keep track of the Duchess, even if she didn’t care for it. “Kindly dress yourself, Madam.” Otto Roth said and brandished Frederika’s slinky gossamer green dress in her direction.

Stepping into her lace panties, and placing her feet into her clogs, at last Frederika draped her barely-there dress over her lithe body. Hand on hip, asked. “I trust there’s a car?”

“You’re most familiar Madam, with our armored transports.” Otto Roth crustily responded. Were the Duchess his daughter, he’d already have tanned her backside, but alas, that duty exclusively belonged to his superior officer, Colonel Oberon Kreis.



Recalcitrant and arms folded over generous bosoms, Frederika waited, a few feet from Oberon’s monolithic oak desk. Her guardian had his grumpy face on. So much disapproval could be conveyed by that one-eye of his. On the desk, rested his thick leather strap, which Frederika was all too accustomed having whipped across her bare butt. “Yet, another unsanctioned, late night jaunt. We’ve discussed this, repeatedly.” Oberon got up from his chair.

“I have a question, about my last mission.”

That caught Oberon off guard, he recovered. “Jah?”

“Omicron, it showed me what it claimed to be my brain – It was, positronic?”

Soon, they’d need answer Frederika’s emerging doubts regarding her superhuman existence. Even Oberon didn’t altogether comprehend her true nature. The one whom he served, did. At present, Oberon more was concerned about chastening his disobedient ward for leaving Castle Coburg without authorization, or escort. So he evaded. “A ruse to confuse. Do not be deceived by the Machine’s lies. You’ve experienced how inhuman it is.”

Not quite satisfactory, but Frederika implicitly trusted her guardian. Omicron had every reason to lie.

Lower lip, quivered, Frederika sighed. “I suppose, we should get on with it...”

Oberon grunted. “Jah, my dear.”

Braced against his desk, in a graceful movement Frederika bent, and reached up under her dress, to slide her panties down and out of the way. The gossamer gown, rode up, leaving her taut posterior unprotected. Resigned. “Ready, Sir.”

The reinforced lash cracked hard across her buttocks at full force. Oberon determined, an over the knee, paternal spanking just didn’t make an impact upon the obstinate girl. To begin with, Frederika proved too physically tough. Yet her resolute personality did respond best to corporal punishment. When genuine tears began to tumble from Frederika’s emerald eyes, along with pained grunts and yelps, Oberon finally allowed his ward to stand. She clutched at her ruined buttocks, covered in overlapped, wide purplish welts that reached her thighs. Contrite, and weeping, Frederika dabbed her teary eyes with the palms of her hands.

“You’re dismissed, young lady.” Oberon said.




Oberon’s office doors bolted behind Frederika as she left, clutching still onto her injured rump. The lights muted. Oberon removed the stolen Techatron gel circuits from out of his desk and closely examined the fantastic technology. Now they could move forward. The one whom he served would be most pleased. Mused. “That girl, is headstrong – “

“My son. You persist in misunderstanding her to be human.” Proclaimed an unfathomable voice.”Despite Frederika’s chassis, she and her Morningstar brethren bear no connection to your – Our, hominid forerunners.” A blazing, singular red eye coagulated in the shape of a hologram, belonged to that of a gargantuan mechanized figure, colored purple, verged on black. “You worked beside one such as her. Why do you not fully grasp, they are not human?”

“Father,” said Oberon to the hologram, which wasn’t representative of the beings real shape, but rather a self-idolized concept. Uric Kreis currently existed only as a discorporate brain, housed in a preservation canister. “We ran a genetic engineering company. Und, besides, I’ve always just been a soldier. I am not a scientist, like you.” Gestured with an open palm, revealed the gel circuits. “These shall further your goals, Veritraan. Though Frederika thinks they’re meant for the Nemesis, they will help us construct your dragon body.”

Veritraan Prime, heartily bellowed. A troubling demonstration from the holographic mechanoid. “Yes. Though my interaction with the Rao proved disastrous, gravely causing me to become ill, and demanding I abandon my human body. It has also reaped many benefits.” Veritraan rubbed at his mouth-less chin, blazing eye, pulsed. “We shall soon need to place Frederika on the pathway to truth. I think she could be a delightful beguilement for your half-brother.” Veritraan’s other son, indirectly reached achievements that would service his own agenda. “Besides. I think its long past time, we reunite ourselves with Dr. Korelia.”

“He’s dead.”

“Yes, Oberon.” Even dead, Dr. Turhan Korelia continued to be an obstruction to Veritraan Prime and his agenda. The good doctor had attained apotheosis. “I mean, Dr. Nadia Korelia, his daughter. The first Morningstar.” Veritraan’s silent instruction produced a thousand points of holographic blue light. “Out there, in the vast darkness, within my star-born Cathedral, my Lucifer's Watchtower, each of these is a Morningstar, yet unborn. When the time comes, I shall unleash this Neo-humanity upon the Universe and rule as its master.”



CONTINUED IN… STARBLADE (NEO-HUMAN #1)