HARD

CHAPTER 15

lightning and tornado hitting village

Hidden among dense shrub, stood a looming radio tower a few meters off the fort. Waves of strong gusts challenged the hill, howling, preparing for the oncoming tornados.

As the women in horses approached, the gate leading into the compound seemed to have unlocked itself. A panel automatically keyed itself and the colour changed from red to bright green. The gate slid open drawing suspicion as to what might await them.

‘Looks like someone is expecting us,’ Kim gripped her holster watching keenly for any scouts around the corner. She paced herself forward ahead of Kira to check if the coast was clear.

‘Nope?’

‘Nobody! Guess we’re in the clear,’

‘I have a suspicion as to who might be waiting for us,’ Kira smiled.

There was a small bunker. Faded into the concrete was the old symbol of the Democracy. Kira placed her hand on the door panel and again it unlocked for her instantaneously.

The room lit up as soon as the girls came in. There was a long stairwell heading underground. Even with the lights, it was eerie as hell, and Kim though reluctant decided to brave ahead.

They descended to the very bottom to find another place similar to the bunker before in Golgotha, just huge black boxes and screens everywhere.

Kim smiled. ‘I think I know who you mean. Hey! You there?’

‘Yes Miss, I am here,’ the voice replied. A figure appeared over one of the screens to their right.

‘Am I glad to see you,’ Kim replied.

‘It certainly is a pleasure. I see you found new outfits,’ Deric commented on the plain-cloth and rags from the village.

‘Yeah, long story,’

While they exchanged banter, Kira instead scanned the room with great scrutiny. There was something a little odd about the place that she couldn’t just quite figure out.

‘This place has not been activated in quite a while. The district was one of the first to be evacuated. Forgive me if the archives aren’t at all updated.

Kim walked to the central desk. You have some photos here,’

‘Yes, shall I load them up for you? It’s the local drive,’

Deric started displaying several photographs of men and women in jumpsuits posing together, some of the shots in the same room, just more brightly lit then now, and some in the fields outside, back when it was still barren. She hadn’t recognized a single one of them personally, but just watching the photos brought back some good memories of the work she used to do.

‘That used to be you too, huh?’ Kim surmised.

‘Yes! Look how happy they were. Did they make it off the planet?’ Kira enquired to Deric.

After a brief pause, Deric continued to speak, ‘some of them did. Some didn’t have exit logs. I assume those that didn’t just stayed. I might be wrong,’

‘You seemed to have a lot of messages here as well,’ Kira pointed on a blinking symbol on the screen. It read “messages” next to it,’

‘Well, it was an active centre,’ Kira replied. ‘Must be tons of them,’

‘Despite a heavy backlog, some of the messages are fairly recent, Ms Okeke,’ Deric replied

‘What?’ Kira was aghast. ‘Open them!’

The first mail wrote,

‘Dear Mars-4 expedition, I still try, after all these years, though it has become more of an annual tradition, I still feel some lingering hope or the slight chance this all be a large conspiracy. Won’t that be convenient? Although, maybe at this point, these letters serve more like therapy for me than an actual conversation.

Still, Mom, if you’re there, we Love You. Please come home.’

‘That’s sweet!’ Kim felt slightly a warm tingle in her chest, however she also noticed a still silence from her partner. Her eyes wide open, her face numb and pale. Then, a tear started to roll.

‘Kira?’

‘Its…’ Kira stammered. She struggled to voice out as her throat was closing in on her.

‘Kira, do you know who wrote this?’

Kira held her fingers close to her lips. She manually clicked something on the screen and it displayed all the messengers from the sender.

‘Kate?’ Kim noticed that in one of many messengers, the sender actually typed in her name. All her messengers had that final line, ‘Mom, if you’re there, We Love You. Please come home,’

‘Kate…’ Kira started weeping.

Her knees started to get weak and she gradually sank to the floor.

‘It’s your kid.’

‘I can’t really say, I don’t really have the privileges to read the mail myself,’ the Deric answered.

Kira felt that something wasn’t right. At some point she was considering it, however she realised now that she might have gravely miscalculated something. ‘Kate said the word “annual”. Exactly how long has it been?’

‘You said it took you a couple of months,’

‘Yes, but we sometime travel through wormholes as well. This place is galaxies away, gravities had to be dealt it. I assumed I was here for maybe 2 years elapsed,’

‘Wormholes?’ Kim frowned confused.

‘Something like shortcuts, for both space and time. It might feel like months, but in reality, it might be a lot more than that,’

‘Well that’s a fairly crude way of putting it but yes. As for your journey Miss Okeke, I believe it’s been a lot longer than that,’ Deric answered, ‘Intergalactic time would suggest something close to 18 years 2 months, and 7 days.’

‘18 Years?’ Kira froze.

‘If I were to use the original message as the point of reference,’

‘Wait! That means?’ Kim started to cogitate as well. ‘You said ages are double where you come from right? So that must mean, she is 11 ages old? That’s a grown up,’

’22 years!’ Kim’s face was flushed, sobbing away, regretting how she missed so much of her one daughter’s formative years. ‘And yet she writes me, every year. She never gave up, poor child. I left her all by herself, without her mother.’

Deric found a message that had an attachment, which after a brief second of load time it showed a portrait image of a man and woman, next to each other In front of a tree in what looked like a living space in a home.

‘There’s a tree inside her house?’ Kim chuckled at the absurdity of it.

‘An old tradition, Xmas. It’s a holiday,’ Kira explained all the time her eyes transfixed the photo admiring how beautiful her daughter grew up to be.

‘Can we send a message back?’ Kim asked.

Kira’s heart stopped. ‘No, I don’t think we should,’

‘What? Why not?’

‘Look how happy she is?’

‘Well yeah, but clearly she wants to talk. Are there like any voice messages or anything?’

Deric projected himself clearing his throat. ‘So far no voicemails, but I have always been sending messages Miss, and I regret to say I have gotten no replies myself,’

‘To Kate?’

‘No! More like emergency pings or distress signals,’

‘Can you try replying to Kate?’ Kim asked.

‘Technically yes, you can click the button and text, send a picture or a voicemail, but reaching her is something I believe would not be possible unless there are channels in space it can bounce off of.’

‘Leave it, Kim, it’s probably best I don’t,’ she retracted.

‘Look, I don’t know what’s your problem, but I’m writing a message,’ Kim interjected. ‘This shit is so cool. Open a message thingy Deric,’

A large white window popped up on the screen in reply to ‘Kate Sullivan-Okeke’ alongside a code or something that signified an address. ‘I’ve seen you talk to her photo at nights. It’s mommy right?’

‘Hey, Kate, Mommy is doing great!’ Kim typed. She found the translucent panel that read her gestures extremely fun to type on.

‘STOP!’ Kira yelled.

There was a tremor creeping in the room and the ladies noticed some sand and dust started to drizzle from the ceiling.

‘The winds are catching up,’ Kim warned herself cracking her knuckles before typing even more.

‘I said STOP! She shouldn’t know. She can’t. It’s best she thinks I’m dead,’

‘WHY?’

‘Because I missed it,’

‘Missed it?’

‘I missed all of it,’ Kira got up abruptly and pulled her friend away from the panels.

Deric was sensing some hostility and as part of his programing, he loaded some comedy videos by the side to reduce the tension. It was something that had shown to help the engineer’s relief stress and anxiety from living in closed quarters for prolonged durations of time.

‘I can’t face her now!’

‘No!’ Deric expressed surprise. He shut off the videos and focused his attention on a strange ping he was getting.

‘What?’ Kira peered at the screen. Something popped up, read in italic, flickering, ‘Kate Sullivan-Okeke is typing…’

‘Too late, I sent it,’ Kim smiled unabashedly. ‘You’re welcome, by the way,’

‘What did you do?’ Kira slowly approached the screen, her eyes watching those words flicker over and over again.

A new mail popped up.

‘OPEN IT!’ They both yelled at Deric.

‘It’s a voicemail,’ he replied.

The sound-clip started to play,

‘Mom?’

**

‘Hey!’ Rayna called out, ‘yeah you,’

A tall, burly grunt peered sideways past the small barred window on the door of her cell. She sat at the very end, in just the same old torn rags tagging on to her, smiling, opening her legs apart hooking his attention. She moved her hand to block his view of her nether regions and gestured him to come in with two of her fingers.

‘Pshh!’ the grunt turned away.

‘Hey, come on. A girl needs some loving. Don’t say you don’t want it?’

She gave him a few more seconds before he gave in and tilted his neck slightly backward, with just the corner of his eye watching her. He noticed how she was vulgarly touching herself, moaning quietly. His throat suddenly felt dry.

He then started to search around before he turned in to unlock the door with his card key.

She knew she had him.

Swiftly, she made it the side of the metal door. As soon as he was in and looking for her, she launched from the back and started rubbing herself all over his hairy posterior, distracting him from attending back to the door.

She felt his muscles tense, surprised, but then he started to relax. As he turned, they started to kiss and she patted him for card key.

The guard saw through the trick. He started laughing at her, at the same undoing his pants.

She pushed him away and headed straight for the door. As she moved out to the corridor, Rayna exclaimed. ‘Come outside and play,’

The guard panicked ran after leaving the door ajar and unattended to. Another caught her attention from the corridor. ‘What are you doing?’ he yelled.

Rayna smirked and threw her arms open. ‘Come get me,’ she exclaimed and started running, but not seemingly with any intention to escape. It appeared as though she was literally playing with them, as more guards caught her attention, she just jumped and wiggled, smiled and chuckled. She played with her breasts and danced with her hips teasing them to catch her. And if they did, she would kiss them, stroke their backs, thighs and even their crotches, until they would lose their minds. She would then use that window to escape their grasp and run to the next corridor and to the next until she found where she had to be as per Kade’s instructions. Whenever she could, she would pat them for card keys and just drop it to ground for him to pick up provided the guards don’t notice. Kade had been here for a very long time, and he had memorized every inch of the place.

Her little show was getting quite the traction, and the cellmates started running to their windows.

‘Run girl, run,’ they screamed.

Rayna found a larger open area where there was a stairwell leading upstairs guarded by 2 men in Kevlar. These guards didn’t budge, regardless however much she moaned, exposed, danced and slapped her naked rear just meters away from them. ‘NO?’ she laughed and soon as the horde of horny guards caught up to her, she continued to run in the same direction into another corridor. The guards in kevlar saw all their friends running behind her like a pack of rabid animals and started to consider abandoning posts themselves.

She noticed the floors getting a little slippery. Kade had mentioned this; that part of the East Wing that is directly below a treatment area, and riddled with wet patches due to oil leakages. It was where Karin was held the last time she was here. Rayna took a misstep and fell, slithering her whole front and back with oil and sludge. Her clothes were are shrivelled and torn it was practically non existent.

‘Hehehe,’ one of the guards caught up to her. He started to unbuckle his belt. She could see the raging bulge protruding out his garments.

As he tried to grab her, she slipped out her clothes and between his legs, slid her way behind him. She stood naked, grimy and wet. The guard sniffed her clothing and threw them before launching at her again just to slip and fall exactly where she did before.

Rayna giggled like a child, moved closer, stuck out her tongue playfully, then cupped her breasts & juggled it at his face before she dashed off.

As she ran, she found a damp part of the wall and slammed her body against it. A gush of oil mixed with water sprayed into the corridor. She tried that a few more times when she could as it did manage to slow the horde down and buy her sometime.

More of them came close eventually just wild with lustful desires and adrenaline in their systems. Many comically fell like idiots, yet burst back up quickly to continue their chase. As she kept running, avoiding the slippery bits, the number of her assailants became rather intimidating. They got to her faster, kept playing with her longer and the more she had to struggle her way out. However, the oil helped a hell of lot, even to reduce the pain when they tried to force their genitals in. One of them even managed to push her against the wall and penetrate her from the rear. She didn’t fight it though, instead, she turned around, raised one leg to his shoulder, gave him two powerful thrusts of her own and kicked him off guard then slipping backwards and falling on his back.

Onward she ran, trying her best not to slip. Then she saw it; a large metal door guarding a vault of some kind.

‘I hope he made it,’ she thought to herself while she braced herself to face over a 100 oily and bruised men, waiting to pounce on her. ‘If a whore is what I am,’ sadly smiling to herself, she said oddly enough it was calming her senses.

Kade figured that his body was just sufficiently small and limber for the task. The phobia was real but he had to take the risk. He squeezed himself into that tiny window that separated his cell from Rayna’s, and despite there being some trouble at the hips, he still managed to wiggle himself through. There were severe abrasions over his pelvis but all that had to come secondary. His hands were still busted and it couldn’t really grab on to anything. He used his elbows to push open the door that was only slightly ajar and made it out of Rayna’s cell.

He started following the trail she left, now left practically unguarded. There were just riled up cellmates yelling at him, reaching their hand out begging him to let them go as well. Some were men, some were women, some young and some old enough to have spent their entire adult lives here. Then he saw it, a card key just lying there on the ground, among a few others that Rayna had cleverly snatched and left for him to pick up while she steered the horde away.

Kade found himself at the large area Rayna was earlier, with the stairs leading up, and luckily for him, even these guards had fallen prey to her invitation. ‘I thought they would be the challenge at least. Wow, Rayna.’

He approached the stairs and started to climb. He found himself entering a narrow hallway where one room read ‘OFFICE’ in plain bold letters. He brought the card key close and scanned it. The door opened and he was inside.

The room was large and there were controls and little screens everywhere. ‘Didn’t think they would know how to operate this,’

‘Kade?’ said a voice. Kade looked up to see one of the guards sitting on a chair, staring at him, one hand over his holster, unsure if he should fire at him.

‘Denis, it’s been a while,’

‘I heard you did some bad things,’

‘Well, it’s not over.’

‘You know I wanted to join. It’s just,’

‘I understand. But I think you can help me now,’

‘No Kade, I still think I can’t. I…’ he took out his pistol and pointed at him.

Kade swiftly grabbed the boy’s wrist and disarmed him, the gun now in Kade’s hands, gripping strong but gradually shaking. ‘You’re still so new at this,’ he laughed when suddenly sharp pain flared over his entire hand. ‘Arghhh!’ he dropped the pistol but before Denis could jump for it, he kicked it to the side and elbowed his friend to the ground.

‘OK!’ Denis opened his arms, ‘fine. What is it you want?’

‘Show me how to work this place.’

**

‘Sweetheart? Is that you?’ Kira recorded and clicked ‘send’.

Seconds later, another message came in, ‘MOM!’ said the voice of a young woman, sullen, as if crying on the other side. ‘Please tell me this is not a joke,’

‘Your voice is the same, Kate. How is that even possible?’

‘It’s your voice too Mom, I would know that from anywhere. How are you still… how…’

‘Sweetie, I am so sorry. Please, sweetheart, I’m so so sorry…’

‘I knew it. They wouldn’t believe me. Oh my God, mom. Oh my God… Why can’t we just talk normally?’

Deric quickly interjected. ‘There is a feature, and I see your daughter is trying to patch herself through, unfortunately, we don’t have the update. This is the best is I can do for you,’

‘Sweetie,’ Kira paused while she sobbed. ‘How have you been? Where’s dad?’

‘Oh my God mom. It’s been so long. I’m sorry but… he didn’t make it. Pancreatic cancer… and we tried everything… He left happy though… There’s so much I want to tell you.’

Kira closed her mouth, her body trembling; she was struggling to breathe just digesting the amount of information coming at her way. She had met Richard during her college years. He worked for the finance department and they used to have their lunch just outside the main office building at party headquarters. As they spoke about politics, they figured they shared other interests as well, and soon enough they tied the knot for a monogamous commitment and had Kate 3 years later. Richard was always supportive of her, though the traveling on her part meant only seeing her 6 months to a year at a time, the job promised an early retirement and he was looking forward to that. He wanted to get a house in Neptune-8, face the glorious sees and rear fish together. She would have given everything to have spent just one more day with him.

‘Sweetheart, How are you doing all this? How are handling life on your own?’

‘I have had help mom. Aunt Reggie took me in, gave me money and worked,’

Kim had her arms crossed, watching the whole scene play out she could help but get a little teary-eyed herself.

‘Mom, another thing… I’m getting married,’

‘Is it that guy in the X-mas photo?’ Kira smiled, ‘he seems nice,’

‘I know it’s soon but Dan and I are in love mom, and even Dad loved him so much and I think… well, I think…,’ Kira could hear more crying on the other end at the tail of the message.

‘Whatever decision you make I know you’ll make the right one. I hope I get to see it.’

‘Mom… just come home. Please!’ Kate kept on sobbing through her voicemails.

Kira wiped her tears and cleared her throat before pressing record to send another message. ‘I am working on it, sweetie. It’s all I have been doing, Mars-4 didn’t even make the landing. We lost a lot of people. I made a friend and she has been helping me. I swear to you honey I will get home OK?’

There was a long pause before a reply. Kira waited patiently watching the flickering dots trailed away.

‘Mom, I think there’s something going on. The news here was different. Mars-4 was apparently a failure, and the planet was deemed inhospitable. The reports were all over the news. I knew there was something up because I never heard from you. They just kept making excuses that the comm centres were still in development and later they just said you were dead from some plague that I just knew didn’t add up. I called up a friend from school who hacked a backdoor channel, the same one I am using to message you right now. I had faith mom, every year until the last three. I’m sorry… I’m sorry I doubted you,’

‘Please don’t apologize sweetie. You said you used a channel? What do you mean sweetie? ARE YOU OK? Is it safe there?’

Deric felt something change. ‘It’s a hostile takeover, I’ve being attacked,’

‘Somethings happening, there’s a bunch of windows popping up on the screen. The connection is fleeting. Mom, are you getting this?’

‘Yes, sweetheart, tell me…’

‘Somethings up…’

‘Tell me Kate, honey,’

Deric cleared his throat. ‘I can no longer access the channel. They figured I was snooping around, I could feel entire army coming for me. I’m sorry,’

‘What the fuck did you that for?’ Kim scowled.

‘Sweetheart?’ Kira called out and pressed ‘send’ only this time the message was marked as ‘unread’. She sighed in deep regret and anger.

‘Kira?’ Kim empathetically called out.

‘AHHHHH!’ Kira burst into a rage and started repeatedly banging her fists against the desk cracking the glass panels.

‘Please don’t do that,’ Deric exclaimed.

‘Kira!’ Kim approached her and held her by the shoulders. Kira stopped and feeling defeated, she just stood there sobbing, while her head rested on her friend’s chest.

‘The channel was closed on their end.’ Deric remarked, ‘I tried to hold it open for as long as I could.’

‘It’s ok,’ Kira forgave him. She sniffled and sobbed, then sat her bottom on the glass desk trying to calm herself down. She started to ponder in deep thought. The room was silent for a while.

‘They closed the channels. They created a fake story. They got what they wanted, for Mars-4 to fail,’ Kira finally spoke.

‘But it didn’t right? That’s what you guys have been telling me,’ Kim retorted.

‘They didn’t want the truth. This mission was not a surveillance mission… It was to get rid of me… Those fuckers wanted me dead. They knew I was here, for 18 FUCKING YEARS… and didn’t bother coming.’

Kira was furious, her skin red, flushed. Kim understood the feeling though not exactly the circumstance. ‘So now what are you going to do?’

‘I have to get back to my daughter Kim, even if it takes me another 18. I guess I’m a lot older than both of us figured.’

‘And I will get you there, the deal hasn’t changed.’

‘Thanks!’ They reached out their hands and gripped hard before embracing each other. Kim had only started to trust the strange alien from space after their first encounter at the sewers, but now Kira had gained her utmost respect and admiration as well.

**

‘What are you doing up there sweetie? Come on down,’ they laughed as Rayna found herself on a thin ledge high up and just sat there, stammering, exhausted while her old wounds reopened and fresh ones burned. Blood trickled down her calves from her mouth, vagina and anus. Next to her was a bright lightbulb giving her the worst headache. Some of the guards just stood there watching her while they pleasured themselves while others threw rocks and pebbles at her to force her down. ‘Come on Kade!’ she muttered as she tried to avoid the projectiles as much as she could.

‘THOMP!’ the vault door suddenly swung open before them, and a loud sound accompanying it. A moderate gush of cold wind kept flowing carrying little red dust from outside.

Rayna closed her eyes unable to stare directly at the lightbulb but as the winds became stronger, she knew this was her chance. She wiped her hand on the grainy wall to get rid of as much grease as possible. She moved her hands blindly until she got hold of the lightbulb. As hot as it was, she yanked it out of its socket, causing a short circuit and sparked a small fire. It started to burn her hands while she waved it around to get the fire going.

‘Woah there sweetie, what are you doing?’

‘Wouldn’t you say it’s my turn to have some fun?’ she flung the bulb over as it reached the ground, causing a burst of flames to erupt. Easily 20 of them were ablaze, hysterical, running about in all directions while the winds blew in taking along the fire with it streaming through the corridors finding an exit.

Screaming, yelling, rolling, running, and begging for the sweet release of death, they scurried like ants only helping to spread the fire even more. Soon, they escaped the lower floors, and went upward. Some were carried by the winds & flung to the walls, or flew through shattered glass windows outside to join the multitude of rotating dead bodies of horses, men and whores and the inertia alone wringed them to their death. Others weren’t so fortunate, just heading off cliffs, jumping through windows hoping the fall would kill them instead of bearing a second more of pain.

Explosions soon followed few corridors down. Rayna had to get down fast before the flames would eventually reach her. Despite being able to pat it off, she did notice some first-degree burns over the palm of her hand, but there was no pain though, just a strange sense of overwhelming joy even. As she watched the men die in horrible anguish, she felt it heartwarming, and it made her smile uncontrollably while a strange thirst quenched; a thirst that has always been there, ever since she was a child, sold into sex and labour. It was the same excitement she got every time she saw Karin shoot a bad guy or how good it felt spitting bullets into rapists and murderers herself, penetrating them like they would do her. She remembered how hard it was the first time she had to make ‘pyre’, but now the Goddess was her friend and ally. Rayna learned something about herself. She wasn’t just a whore, nor was she a hero, but a monster, and now she knew and it made her feel power for the first time.

fire warm radio flame

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