Disclaimer: This is a copyrighted work of fiction.  Any similarity to any actual events or characters, living or deceased, is merely coincidental.  The author of this manuscript reserves all rights.  All illegal copying, distributing or publishing is strictly prohibited.  Only one (1) copy of this text may be downloaded to be read off-line.  ©2000 Panic Attack Productions, Author: John Hammersmith.

The Valerian Invasion
By John Hammersmith

Part Nineteen

As she slowly began to thaw, Lieutenant Godiva could feel a kindred spirit nearby, which lifted her grim outlook immensely.  Immediately recognizing the determined soul of Sergeant Magnum, she felt her heart racing in anticipation.  ‘You made it, Jimmy! You’ve come to save us all, haven’t you?’

As Eddie worked on filming the haunting scene around them, Sergeant Magnum paused in front of the oddly familiar sculpture while he struggled to comprehend the recognizable voice of Godiva within his tired mind.  ‘Carrie? Is that you?’ questioned Magnum in excitement as he traced a line across the solid surface of her open lips.

‘Yes,’ replied Godiva happily, completely engrossed by their unexpected reunion.  Suddenly, Sergeant Magnum backed away from his discovery as her right arm began to move ever so slightly.  Quickly, her pale countenance was beginning to grow flush with color as he stared in pure amazement.  ‘I wish I could hug you right now, Sergeant Magnum, but I’m not quite back to my old self, yet.’

‘Is it just me, or did your right arm move,’ asked Sergeant Magnum giddily.

‘That’s right,’ projected Godiva, ‘I am slowly beginning to reanimate.’  Inside her altering body, Lieutenant Godiva could feel tiny pins and needles as each inch of her body began to soften, reversing the shocking processes that captured her solid only a day ago.  Quickly remembering the danger around them, Godiva warned, ‘Be careful, Sergeant Magnum, Emperor Titus is also located somewhere within this very room.’

‘What!’ exclaimed Magnum in disgust.  ‘Where is that miserable bastard! I want to make him pay for capturing all of these poor humans like this!’

Lieutenant Godiva could feel her once unmovable face beginning to smile as she replied, ‘Trust me, Jimmy, Emperor Titus is not someone you’re going to want to trifle with.’

‘Who’s trifling? I want to tear him limb from limb!’

Suddenly, a piercing scream rang out in the distance, somewhere near the humming blue cylinder of energy in the center of the room.

Niko quickly began to feel her arms and legs radiating warmth previously ignored within her dream-like state.  Quickly, the dazzling images of the elegant ball began to fade abruptly as her dashing prince began to pull away, his face changing from his handsome features, revealing the hideous reality beneath.  In an instant, the façade had been lifted away from her fragile mind, leaving only an empty sense of remorseful loss.  Suddenly, the formerly lifeless statue began to scream, “No! Please, don’t go away! Come back to me, darling!”

Instantly, the enraged king swung his head around as he stared at the slowly animating damsel to his right.  Without any remaining doubt, the festering emperor began to understand the deception played out by this previously adored woman.  Slowly, he began to see only red, as he felt overpowered by the dreadful betrayal concocted by this mere human.  He screamed, “How could you deceive me like this, you snake! I offer you eternal happiness, and you thank me by conspiring against me!”

“No!” screamed Niko as she continued to change back into her living form.  “I didn’t know! Please don’t lose your faith in me now!” Sobbing tears streaked down her face as the immensely pleasurable sensations began to instantly drift away, leaving only an empty void within her aching soul.  Gladly willing to sell her soul to be able to experience another dosage of blissful peace, she wept inside at the deep loss within her wounded psyche.

All begging fell upon deaf ears as Titus continued to rage, picking up his sturdy throne and throwing it against the rocky floor.  In an instant, his deep longing love had been transformed into seething anger and revulsion; his chosen queen had forsaken him during his brilliant return to power.

Turning to lash out at the disobedient and disloyal servant, he raised his fat fists in the air with pure fury.  Slowly, Niko began to slump to her knees as she completely regained her physical form, no longer a statue crafted from unyielding stone.  Just as the plump emperor lunged to strike Niko, a large man stepped in to shoulder the force of the blow.  The burly savior was wearing repulsor shield armor, and quickly the large emperor began to slow slightly as he became enveloped within the blue glow of the repulsor device.

Sergeant Magnum smiled at the corpulent king, reveling in his apparent victory.  However, the massive Valerian swiftly began to reanimate as he focused his energy in full force.  Without even lifting a chubby finger, he hauled the astounded sergeant high into the air using only his thoughts, and then he slammed the hovering human to the ground with all of his force.  Niko looked on in horror as the noble stranger crashed into the concrete floor, taking an abusive beating in an effort to save her from harm.

“Stop!” screamed Niko in a panic.  “Please, don’t harm him! I’ll do anything you want me to do, Lord Titus!”

Smugly, Titus shouted, “How dignified! Well, since he’s pretty well out of commission anyway, I think I will do as I wish to you!” Closing his eyes intensely, a flickering ripple of light-bending energy shot out from his body, striking Niko with full force.  Suddenly, Niko let out a piercing cry as she felt herself locking back into place while kneeling on the cold ground.  Quickly, her feet and ankles began to change again, stiffening uncontrollably into unyielding mineral.  “You were so much more agreeable as a statue, I’ve decided to change you back, only this time I plan on freezing you permanently!”

Niko immediately began to hyperventilate as she understood what was suddenly occurring within her reawakening body—she was instantly hardening back into a marble statue.  “No!” screamed Niko in a panic.  “Please, Lord Titus, allow me to serve you in a more useful format.  I can’t go back to being a lifeless sculpture, again!”

“Ahh,” grinned Emperor Titus maniacally, “but that’s what’s so perfect about it, puny human.  You quickly forget, I know all about your fear of confining spaces and isolation.”  With a menacing laugh, the evil dictator shouted, “Once you become an eternal monument of solid stone, I think I shall mount you on the surface of Olseac, a distant moon of Valeria.  If you are lucky, my sweet, perhaps you’ll see one or two unfortunate travelers… every 10,000 years or so!”

“Aieee!!” screamed Niko in absolute terror as the stony energy began to lap at her thighs and waist, rendering each delicate pivot point into dense marble, completely unable to be twisted or flexed in the slightest.  Sweeping across the surface of her thighs, the fluctuating molecules instantly fused her sweaty palms to the rocky musculature of her strong legs, leaving her remaining body trapped and shivering in absolute terror.

However, the swiftly conquering tide quickly fell silent in an instant before gently receding.  Niko quivered violently as more of her nude body became once again capable of movement, until her legs finally became free of her stony burden.  Then, she felt her herself becoming hoisted into the air mysteriously; no ropes or pulleys had managed to ensnare her.  With a cruel laugh, Emperor Titus shouted to the hovering girl, “I’ve decided to change my mind, young Jessie, especially once considering your greatest fear.  Besides, common stone isn’t nearly cold enough for your icy heart, my dear.”

Niko continued to soar across the packed room, being forced to glide past the shocked faces of hundreds of trapped competitors.  The entire time she flew uncontrollably, she thought nervously, ‘What does he mean by my greatest fear?’ Then the harsh conclusion dawned on her as she floated over the familiar figure of her precious sister, Rebecca, still utterly halted within pure gold.  “You fiend!” shouted Jessie in a panic.  “You’ll never get away with this abuse, you vindictive toad!”

Her incensing statement quickly garnered a bold chuckle from the plump emperor as he focused his entire mental force on her.  With a grim smile, he said slyly, “I AM getting away with this.  You humans are so preoccupied with entertainment and fashion, you fail to see the dire consequences of your actions.”  With a sweeping gesture aimed at the multitude of captured hardbodies, he added, “Look at all of these simple conduits of energy.  Either wealth or fame lured each and every one of them away from their families and friends.  Their greed and ambition has delivered them to me, and I believe this human weakness befits their now static condition.  It’s not my fault they blindly threw their lives away for a lie.”

Quickly, Niko felt her arms and legs moving on their own accord, undoubtedly pulled by Emperor Titus’ sadistic urges.  Then she shuddered as she felt cold metal touching her wrists and toes.  Turning her head to investigate, she suddenly realized her body was being positioned across a series of steel beams along the far wall.  In a breathless stutter, she yelled, “What about me, then, Titus? You know very well that I was forced to compete in this wicked game.”

“That’s very true, conspirator,” bellowed Emperor Titus fanatically.  Slowly, his twisted mind began to shape her supple body, pulling her arms fiercely behind her back as they stretched painfully, until they just barely brushed against two jutting beams.  Then, she felt the air being pumped out of her lungs as her chest became completely extended forward, the difficult contortion yanking her shoulders as far as they would go without snapping like twigs.  Suddenly, the chilly sensations at her wrists began to spread at a snail’s pace, eventually working down her tense hands and up her slim arms simultaneously.   Emperor Titus menacingly continued, “And your reason for competing brings me right back to your greatest fear, Niko.”  Steadily, her timid face began to lower slightly despite her efforts to seize control over her own body, until her prime focus was the glowing statue posed directly in front of her tear-streaked eyes.  “For you, my dear, failing to save your precious sister is the most terrifying thing imaginable! Now, you shall have an eternity to ponder your shortcomings as you helplessly stare at your fallen sibling, knowing with every passing thought that you should have done more to save her, yet you didn’t.”

Niko let out a faint gasp as she felt freezing metal slowly crawling up her extended arms like a poisonous lizard.  Then, Emperor Titus guided her slender legs, delicately placing just the very tips of her demure toes against the pillar of stainless steel behind her, quickly fusing the warm flesh to the structural support.

As Emperor Titus proudly wandered up to her stationary position, he rubbed his chubby fingers together in gleeful wrath.  “I hope you enjoy your extended stay, darling.  Now that the process has begun, I will not reverse this final transformation.  I recommend you start getting used to your new station in life, sweetie, since it will take several days for you to completely harden into my new stainless steel masthead.  Once the process solidifies your heart entirely, you will become a permanent object of beauty, never to return to flesh again.”

Inside of her leisurely transforming body, Niko felt complete revulsion and shame as she found herself forced to stare endlessly at her captured sister.  With a single teardrop congealed on her sister’s gilded cheek, poor Rebecca held a pained look of pity on her rigid facial features, and Jessie found herself gradually going mad as she studied the all too familiar face of her adored sister, rendered helplessly into unmoving gold.  As each fiber of her wrists and ankles coagulated with excruciating clarity, Niko could only pray that her horrified mind would mercifully black out, so she wouldn’t be forced to feel every microbe hardening beyond her futile control.  Just as she began to hurl away from sanity, she could hear a quiet voice within her weary mind.

‘Don’t listen to this power-mad fool,’ echoed the delicate voice.

Slowly, Niko began to ignore the dreadful sensations locking her into place, focusing instead on the reassuring voice coaxing her to fight.  ‘Rebecca? Is that you?’

‘Yes, I can see you, Jessie.’  In an apologetic tone, she continued, ‘I’m so sorry I ran away and signed up for Pure Adrenaline.  You tried to warn me about the danger, but I foolishly ignored your wisdom.’

Quickly, Jessie stepped in to console her grieving sibling, saying warmly, ‘Oh, Rebecca, don’t feel bad about what happened.  When I was your age, I did my share of foolhardy stunts.  I only regret I wasn’t able to save you.’

‘But, don’t you see, Jessie, you didn’t fail me? That fat tyrant was all wrong about you.’

Confused and disappointed, Niko asked, ‘What do you mean, Rebecca?’

Slowly, the kindred spirit began to explain.  ‘You have saved me in the most important way possible, Jessie.  Sure, my body may still be confined within this golden statue, but you restored my faith and hope, reminded me that even in this limited state that I can still feel love and compassion.  If you hadn’t risked everything to save me, I would have remained a despondent soul, still utterly trapped on the inside as well as on the outside.  Now I realize, this body is merely a temporary shell anyway.  With your determined heroism, you’ve given me the freedom to spread my wings, even if my bodily appendages are only rigid curves rendered in solid gold.  Search within your soul, darling sister, and I’m certain you will discover what I’m saying to be true.  Regardless of our physical limitations, if we allow our spirits to roam freely, then we aren’t really trapped, are we?’

Niko pondered the wise assessment of her sister for a moment, gradually feeling the colossal weight being lifted from her heavy heart.  Introspectively, she understood just what her sage-like kin was saying.  With dedicated ambition, she began to drift away from her slowly altering body.  As her spirit began to spin towards the ground, she could see the wispy figure of her treasured buddy reaching out to her.  In pure merriment, the two wandering essences circled each other in rapturous celebration, the long awaited reunion sparking a flood of pleasant memories and blissful happiness.  ‘Oh, Rebecca,’ wept Niko uncontrollably, ‘I’ve missed you so much!’

Meg adamantly continued to assist and protect the dozens of shaky women propelling down the transport device, although her mind often drifted from her duties as she worried about her adored ally, Sergeant Magnum.  Already, twenty minutes had passed since he bravely led Eddie into the control room, and she couldn’t resist fearing the danger contained within the dehumanizing tomb down the hall.

Quickly doing a brief head count, she counted forty-six active warriors, all armed and raring to go.  Deep within her gut, she hoped these new combatants contained enough skill and experience to defeat the hordes of Valerian militants.  Still, Meg had to admit, at least they still possessed the element of surprise, and perhaps, with luck, that would be enough to pull off a victory after all.  With a steady voice, she spoke to her courageous teammates, Kari and Tatiana, still waiting outside of the sprawling fortress.  “We’re preparing for an offensive strike, Commander Kari.”

Crackling, Kari replied, “Understood, Meg.  Now, you be careful, okay? And may sweet victory await us all!”

“Thanks, Kari! Please offer my gratitude to Lieutenant Tatiana.”  Swiftly, another pair of gorgeous women stumbled out of the clear tubing, completely disoriented and confused.  Meg gingerly guided them to the safe corner, then quietly began to brief them on the plan of attack.  After a few more minutes, another pair of women pulled themselves apart as they landed.  Without any further hesitation, Meg gathered her troop together, saying proudly, “Alright, ladies, we now have enough soldiers to take control of this enemy outpost.  Fortunately, we’ve remained undetected thus far, so we still hold a valuable element of surprise that will hopefully catch the enemy off guard.”  With her right arm, she divided the group into two sections before addressing the first divided team to the right.  “All of you in this group will be a part of the alpha team.  It shall be your responsibility to neutralize any threats to the far corners, providing controlled firepower along the perimeters of the room.”  Pointing to the anxious team to her right, she said, “And all of you will be a part of the beta team.  Once the alpha team has engaged the enemy, your responsibility shall be to break through to the control room along the left wall.  Does everyone understand their responsibilities?”

Quietly, all fifty women nodded silently, adamantly projecting their confidence to their leader with pride.  Meg assertively saluted the brave women before leading the way, storming angrily through the arched opening into the preparation room.  In an instant, the preparation room exploded with reckless firepower as the members of the alpha team focused on blazing a trail for the beta team.

Caught completely on their heels by the stealth-like appearance of the warring women, many of the workers simply stood dumbfounded by the aggressive battle being unexpectedly waged against them.  As one determined worker dashed towards a stocked cabinet full of weaponry, a daring starlet fired a blast at the threatening man, leveling him in one shot.  At the top of her lungs, Meg screamed defiantly, “If any of you wish to go on living, I would recommend placing your hands into the air and dropping to your knees.  Now!” In an instant, thirty muscular workmen complied, slumping to their knees as they lifted their arms high into the air.  With a sweeping motion, Meg called to the beta team, saying proudly, “All right! Beta team, the area has been secured! Move out!” Instantly, the plucky women sped out, sprinting towards the distant control room.

As Meg walked purposefully up to the stocked armory in the corner, she gasped as she heard a loud chime from the elevator behind them.  Before she could even warn the beta team, the doors swung open violently, revealing a smug middle-aged man inside.  Although obviously shocked by the aggressive troop’s unanticipated presence, he remained unflappable as he reached into his coat pocket, producing a small, handheld switch in his wrinkly hand.

Meg shouted urgently, “Quick, ladies! Behind you! Seize him before he presses that button!” However, her dire warning came too late.  In one quick motion, Scientist Turner depressed the remote switch before anyone could stop him.  Then, curiously, he waved goodbye as the elevator doors slammed shut, propelling him away from any possible danger.  Suddenly, the bleating sound of sirens rang out as a solid door began to lower, quickly sealing up the valued control room in an instant.  Several brave girls tried to lunge towards the heavy door, hoping to make it before closing, but unfortunately, their proximity was far too distant, and the steel door slammed shut ominously.

Then, beyond anyone’s expectations, a series of overhead sprinklers sprang into action, quickly dousing the room with an odd pink fluid.  Finding no place to avoid the sticky spray, the women screamed in panic as they scurried desperately.  Even the many workers huddled on the ground began to scream in fear and revulsion, immediately realizing something was horribly wrong.  A loud, crunching sound suddenly began to fill the air around them as the frenzied activity began to abruptly slow to a halt.  With a heart full of fearful regret, Meg instantly began to feel herself also grinding to a stop as the misty concoction began to creep through the tiny cracks in her armor, silently spilling in until it coated her delicate skin underneath.  All around her, she could hear muted cries for help as everyone inside stood rigidly in place, fully rooted to the ground by a mysterious force.

Shiny reflections began to fill the room as the fine mist began to cease, its dreadful purpose already fully served.  Loud popping sounds began to fill each person’s ears as they felt their skin growing cold at an exponential rate of decrease, until all sense of heat was truly vanquished.  Within moments, Meg could see her entire team transform before her anguished eyes, as the brave women quickly became replaced by stiff department store mannequins.

Feeling immense pity for her teammates, Meg quickly realized she also couldn’t move a muscle, no matter how diligently she begged her body to comply with her unvoiced commands.  An odd, tightening sensation began to spring up from the soles of her feet, locking her armored body into place with cruel efficiency.

Directly within her now stationary line of sight, Meg could see Eddie’s recording partner, Kelly, gingerly holding the buzzing camera within her unmoving hands.  Even greater humiliation swept through her mournful outlook as she realized her impending transformation would be captured for all to see, this black moment becoming immortalized on laser disc.  Hollow crackles began to emanate from her enraptured body as she stood, absolutely flabbergasted by the swift capture of her entire team.  Using every last ounce of strength left within her rapidly altering body, she yelled over the intercom, “Commander… Kari… we’ve… failed!” Promptly, her abdomen began to buckle under the force of the dreadful plastic wave, removing any further chance to breathe or speak.

As her breasts and shoulders began to lock rigidly into place, she could hear Kari shouting, “What’s happening, Meg? What’s going on in there? Are you alright?” Meg could only savor the precious voice of her dear friend as the snapping energy quickly lunged up her poised neck, rendering the sweaty skin into unbending plastic.  Before she could even brace herself for the impending conclusion, she felt her flawless face tightening relentlessly before finally clenching indefinitely, leaving her utterly trapped within her own halted body.

A haunting silence filled the air once the room full of occupants finally surrendered to the dreadful trap that stiffened them all into mere objects of inflexible plastic and fiberglass.  Within her arrested figure, Meg mourned their defeat with sympathy, knowing full well that her actions had lead these poor girls to this harsh doom.  As Kari begged for her ally to respond to her, Meg felt like sobbing, but even that slight relief was not allowed due to her new condition as a mannequin.  With grim remorse, Meg thought woefully, ‘I was responsible for these poor girls, and now they have all been imprisoned as plastic dummies.’  From her stationary position, she studied the dozens of stunned women directly in front of her, immediately concluding shamefully, ‘I will never forgive myself for failing them like this.’

To be continued...

On to Part Twenty