The Valerian Invasion
By John Hammersmith
Under a flickering fluorescent lamp, Eddie lathered up his face with blue shaving gel. Still humbled by his recent encounter with the mean-spirited Katherine Ross, he struggled to remain calm and focused. Already, he worried relentlessly about the ratings for Pure Adrenaline. ‘Why can’t simply they let me do my job,’ thought Eddie somberly. Picking up his straight razor, he began to slide the sharp blade across his frowning face. As he worked down his hairy chin, he suddenly heard a voice within his weary mind.
“Greetings, Eddie,” said the familiar ghost.
Accidentally cutting himself from the shock of her abrupt entrance, he groaned as he tried to block the flow of blood with a tissue. “Dammit,” projected Eddie silently. “Must you summon me when I have a blade at my neck?”
Gliding around the wincing man, the ghostly apparition bowed her head in apology. “I am terribly sorry about my poor timing.” As she floated through the small bathroom, Eddie could see no reflection of the beautiful ghost displayed in the large mirror on the wall. Patiently waiting until Eddie could clean himself up, she continued. “I wish we could meet under less critical circumstances, but the situation is becoming quite dire out there.”
Wandering out of the claustrophobic surroundings of the washroom, Eddie replied telepathically, “Yes, the Nil Corporation seems to be in a big hurry to capture new recruits. I take it they plan on leaving soon?”
Quickly, an expression of proud surprise swept across the ghost’s wispy features. “Incredible!” thought the lovely vision to her undercover ally. “So, you know that much, already. You are proving to be a resourceful collaborator, Eddie! Do you know who I am, yet?”
Eddie smiled silently, still trying to elude the camera behind him. “The hard part was discovering the origins of the Nil Corporation. It seems a medical equipment company named McAlistar/Davis was the precursor to the massive Nil Corporation empire. After studying the details of the acquisition, I found your picture in the press releases from a few years ago. You are the murdered philanthropist, Lillian McAlistar, aren’t you?”
Taking a humble bow, the glowing ghost smiled, beaming with admiration. “You are correct, I am the spirit of Lillian McAlistar. What do you know about the current management of the Nil Corporation?”
Scratching his head, Eddie replied, “Not much, I’m afraid. It seems that scoundrel, Stephen Davis, hasn’t been heard from in two months, so the current ownership remains cloaked in rumor and secrecy. Based on what I’ve heard, mad rumblings and such, this company is under some sort of alien control. I had always dismissed this strange bit of gossip, until recently anyway.”
“Yes,” replied Lillian in a panicked tone. “A race of aliens known as Valerians have seized control of this empire. They are led by a tyrant named, Emperor Titus.”
“Ah,” said Eddie in acknowledgement. “So, he’s the one calling all the shots.”
“That’s right,” replied Lillian remorsefully. “And we must do everything we can to stop him from fulfilling his diabolical mission. Have you gotten in any trouble for my earlier request, Eddie?”
“Ah, yes. Lovely Lieutenant Godiva. Well, I’ve done just as you requested, Lillian, and she hasn’t appeared in any scenes since the two of us met. Katherine Ross, my supervisor, chewed me out earlier today because the ratings were down. She threatened to fire me, but that’s pretty much routine around here.”
The soft reflection of Lillian’s face began to frown as she listened to Eddie’s woes. “Do you think she’d really dismiss you now?”
“I don’t know,” replied Eddie in disgust. “I wouldn’t put it past them. They are pulling in big dollars with this show, and they seem anxious to keep all of it.”
“Well, I think I know how we can lift up the ratings,” offered Lillian thoughtfully. “This won’t be an easy task, but I’m confident you have the skills to pull this off. Earlier, using a secret potion, Lieutenant Godiva and a new partner, Niko, transformed themselves into stone monuments just outside of the thorn fields. They’ve already been discovered and are currently en route to Nil Corporation headquarters as we speak. They will restore back to flesh within twenty-four hours, but I need to ensure their safety until they are able to return to normal.”
“And you want them to appear as if they’ve been captured like all the others,” interjected Eddie observantly.
“Exactly, with one additional complication. Unfortunately, the illegal potions have recently been discovered by the Nil Corporation, so I’ll also need you to remove another scene, in order to protect Godiva and Niko from probing eyes. Within your footage, you will find a pair of ladies struggling with the petrifying thorns. One lady ends up stepping on a thorn and her ally attempts to remove it from her friend’s sore foot. In the process, they both end up freezing into stone. Since the potions were discovered on those two innocent ladies, I will need you to destroy any footage containing their actual, legitimate petrifaction.”
Slowly taking a moment to let it all sink in, Eddie said silently, “Do you realize the huge risk you’re asking me to take?”
Somberly, the departed Lillian McAlistar studied Eddie’s darting eyes. “I know this puts a great deal of pressure on you, Eddie. I wouldn’t ask this of you if we didn’t truly need this done. However, with the hardening and softening agents discovered, it will only be a matter of time before the Nil Corporation begins investigating the events out there in the thorn field. We only need to divert them for fourteen, maybe fifteen hours.”
Regaining confidence, Eddie added, “Then Lieutenant Godiva and Niko will reanimate, thereby allowing them an opportunity to destroy Emperor Titus.”
“That’s the plan. Can you help us?” asked Lillian somberly.
“Yes,” quietly sighed Eddie aloud.
“Do you have any questions, Eddie?” asked the friendly ghost.
“Just one. Why are you helping us against these Valerians?”
As she faded away into a fine mist, Lillian whispered to Eddie’s consciousness,
just trying set things right again.”
As they reached a foreboding checkpoint, the workers waved to the guards stationed inside. Lowering the throttle, they slowly brought the craft to a halt so they could be investigated by the Nil Corporation’s security staff. Using mirrors and scanners, every nook and cranny of the vessel was completely searched for stowaways. Spotting a human life form inside the cabin, one security guard questioned the foreman of the ship. “Is that being accounted for?” asked the militant guard.
“Check the manifest, Ralph,” said the foreman bluntly. “He has an appointment with Scientist Turner.”
Quickly scanning the lengthy document, the guard quietly nodded his approval, then waved them onward. As the massive, 12-foot gate opened the grinding sound of gears and pulleys filled the air, as well as the deep, bleating sound of alarms. Suddenly, Byron’s eyes were shocked to see a tunnel mysteriously beginning to appear directly in front of the bow, replacing the beachfront mirage previously within view. Once powering up the engines again, the crew guided the hovercraft through the gateway slowly, eventually reaching the entrance of a dark tunnel, now completely uncloaked and accessible. Speedily, the crew fired up a series of bright deck lights as the vessel became swallowed by darkness.
‘Where are they taking us?’ asked Niko anxiously to her nearby companion.
Wobbling slightly as they began to slope downwards, Lieutenant Godiva replied, ‘I don’t know, Niko. We seem to be entering in a deep tunnel. Perhaps it runs under the ocean floor?’
The passageway seemed to stretch for many miles as the hovercraft sped along the damp corridor. Now cruising at full throttle, they traveled at immense speeds, guided by a peculiar laser running the entire length of the tunnel. “This thing practically drives itself,” mused one workman to his foreman. Still traveling in a downward slope, the few flesh and blood passengers could feel their ears pop from the change in air pressure as they continued their speedy descent.
With his nose pressed against the thick glass inside the meager cabin, Byron watched in wonder as a large domed compound began to loom in the distance. Nearly ten stories tall, the stainless steel structure possessed an awe-inspiring luminosity, gleaming strobes pulsed around the entire building in a dizzying sequence. Letting out a dreamy sigh as he studied the monolithic architecture, Byron crossed his fingers as they approached closer to the Nil Corporation headquarters. ‘Seize the opportunity,’ thought the young traitor as he focused on his impending encounter with Scientist Turner.
As they began to near closer to the well-illuminated compound, the hovercraft glided over a narrow yet deep trench dug around the pulsing structure, constructed to prevent any wheeled vehicles from entering the restricted zone around the building. Slowly, the buzzing craft decelerated as it approached a massive loading dock. Workers holding light batons waved the loaded hovercraft towards an empty stall within the sprawling receiving dock.
With a loud thud, the levitating vessel quickly became secured by steel mooring clamps, effectively anchoring the quieting ship. Loud cheers emanated from the paltry crew as they eagerly anticipated their ten-hour furlough. Running across the docking platform, the two workers saluted their foreman from the other side before disappearing into the security checkpoint. After delivering his manifest to the armed guard, the foreman guided his anxious witness through the structure in search of Scientist Turner.
Swiftly, dozens of robotic arms began to unload the priceless cargo from the docked vessel. Encased in soft rubber padding, several cobalt fingers firmly gripped Niko at the legs, waist and neck, methodically lifting her dense figure up. As she felt herself being risen high into the air, Niko could see a lengthy conveyer belt rolling beneath her position. ‘Godiva! Where are you? They’re taking me away!’ Before she could even prepare for it, she suddenly found herself being propelled along the progressing track. Her stony body rocked back and forth gently as the vibrating motors sped her into the bowels of the building.
Lieutenant Godiva projected to her anxious teammate, ‘Try to remain
brave, Niko. I’ll be joining you soon enough.’ As the mechanical
arms eventually lifted her prone figure off of the luminous vessel, Lieutenant
Godiva desperately hoped the dastardly boy named Bryon knew nothing about
her secret mission. As she wobbled along the moving corridor, she
could feel herself humbled by the cold and calculated equipment delivering
her to the Valerian stronghold. ‘Give me the strength to overcome
this, somehow,’ thought Godiva somberly as she found herself engulfed by
Discretely spying the situation from a hidden location, the makeshift excursion team could see a small craft hovering about thirty feet away, driven by a seductive lady dressed in jet black. Scanning the distance, they could see a pair of ladies huddled together in absolute terror, firmly and fearfully hugging each other. To their right stood a delicately balanced mannequin, arms and legs fully tensed in guarded positions. On her rigid and unmoving face, she held an odd sense of peace on her reflective facial features.
From behind her menacing position on the hovercraft, the travelers could hear the strange woman speaking in a mocking tone. “Come on, you two! This is no fun at all! Look at your commander; doesn’t she look stunning? You don’t want to ruin your poses by hiding behind each other, do you?” Quickly, the vile woman fired a blazing shot from her cannon to their right, hoping to provoke a flight response from the terrified ladies, yet they adamantly remained together, locked in their timid embrace.
At last, Sergeant Magnum couldn’t allow the poor girls to suffer any longer. Reaching into the holster around his waist, he pulled out a small device, aiming it at the oblivious tormentor. Quietly shooing his companions away, he shouted to the masochistic pilot, “Hey, lady! Why don’t you pick on somebody your own size!” Spinning around abruptly, the mysterious female sized up the wounded man for a moment, laughing loudly.
“What a hero!” she mocked. “How dare you meddle in Plastique’s affairs?” Spotting a small camera in Sergeant Magnum’s dirty hand, she squealed with girlish glee. “Gee, are you a member of my fan club?”
Sergeant Magnum waited anxiously for the frightened ladies behind Plastique to flee before pointing his camera at the brazen brunette clad in black vinyl. “I wouldn’t call myself a fan,” replied Magnum defiantly as he eyed her through the viewfinder, “although do I plan to capture the moment. Say cheese, darling!”
As the conceited villain posed seductively for her adoring public, she could feel a brilliant flash of light wash over her slender curves. Waiting until just the right instant to lash out at the disobedient cameraman, she instantly discovered that her arms wouldn’t move in the slightest. Murmuring thoughts began to fill her mind as she stood absolutely still.
At first, Sergeant Magnum worried that the peculiar device in his trembling hand didn’t function properly. With shimmering vinyl covering her entire body, he didn’t know for certain whether enough skin was exposed to transform the dastardly woman. Likewise, he worried that the device wouldn’t conquer her at such a great distance, since nearly thirty feet of ground separated them. In fact, it wasn’t until the crystalline transformation began to wash over his adversary’s willowy neck that he’d begun to realize she’d been fully captured. Her pouting lips soon began to follow suit, the warm flesh becoming impenetrable diamond. Rolling across her nose and eyes, the swift conversion popped with energy as she hardened into a priceless, gleaming sculpture. Before she could even understand what had been done to her, she found herself utterly halted in an instant. Unable to taunt or hunt her victims anymore, she quickly discovered her knew role would be as a mere object, like a statue in a museum. She shivered inside as she analyzed her helpless situation.
As the transformation reached a stunning conclusion, Sergeant Magnum admired the stiffened dominatrix in her ultimate pose. The foul temptress now stood with her hands on her hips, her legs spread wide in defiance. On her sparkling face, Sergeant Magnum could see her lush lips pursed tightly, a mocking kiss left frozen on her glassy mouth. With her chin held high, she now seemed to be looking far into the distance, adding to the statuesque posture now exhibited flawlessly in unbreakable diamond.
Within moments, the two damsels in distress ran up to the brash sergeant, hugging and kissing him in ecstatic gratitude. “Thank you so much,” they both howled in fearful relief. Handing him a tiny, powder blue flower, the small blonde dressed in radiant blue planted a grateful kiss on his rugged cheek.
Climbing out of the bushes, Meg and Commander Kari quietly approached
Sergeant Magnum as he struggled with his adoring pair of women. As
they both blissfully looked on, Kari beamed with pride while Meg simply
said, “Looks like you have your own fan club, now!”
To be continued...
On to Part Nine