I, special forces agent D. Lasko—and the rest of Astronaval Strike Team 7—checked my gun, my rebreather, and my environmental suit a few times over. ONCI got a tip on an affini general being transferred aboard a shuttle on its way towards the Baiera.
The mission came straight from the top brass which means one of those COSMIC agents left the tip. Finally some good intel. Every ship that seemed to come into contact with the affini went dark. Lot of horror stories. Folks being turned into slaves, pets, even into something called a snuggly.
We were the elite of the elite, a team of dedicate special forces that the brass sent in when they wanted something done *right*. Could take a commie out from orbit without injuring the employer to his right. That was a good job. I still saw it in my sleep some nights.
"You wimpin' out on us Lasko?" Davis grinned. I followed his line of sight. My hand was trembling again. Happened a lot when I thought about that union busting job on Xel'thon 6. It was excitement. That's what I told myself. I was just thrilled to have seen all that death. I was tough. A big tough strong man. Men didn't cry themselves to sleep at night. Men followed orders.
I punched him in the shoulder with enough force to show him how much of a man I was. "Fuck off, Dav. I'm just excited to finally kill some stars damn xenos." I got an oorah from Kennedy. The blond loved his battle cries.
"Intercept jump in t-minus 5 minutes." Said our pilot Slate. Our ship was his bird, and boy did he love this thing more than the stars themselves. Talked about like it was his lover. Got real weird with the descriptions sometimes.
Taylor didn't even look up from his snap rifle. Every one of his movements precise and smooth. "Double check your suits, one whiff of their chemical weapons can kill a man."
"Yeah, I heard you then rise as one of their thralls afterwards. Just a bunch of plantfucker zombies infected with the weed's parasites." Kenn kept talking with his hands.
I stood up. Nothing screamed 'I'm a man' quite like taking a hypermetric kick while standing. Then I gave the boys some tough love. "Ken shut up. The rest, listen to Taylor. Affini favor chemical weaponry. This is our first deployment against 'em, y'all better not make it our last. Do you get me?"
"Sir, yes, sir!" Came a few cries back. That's right I was the sir. The man in charge of this whole operation. Of course Jericho didn't say a word the whole time. Never spoke unless ordered.
Slate called out, "Three. Two. One."
One second I'm standing amidst my boys, the next the universe was kicking me in the lungs. The universe got nothing more than a grunt outa me. I wasn't a weak woman.
"Fuck fuckfuckfuckityfuck!" Slate yelled right before something shook our bird. "Captain, they got us. It was a fucking trap!."
Shit. I gripped my weapon tight, my hand shaking only slightly. I hollered orders. "Men, get ready to be boarded, looks like we're fighting our way out of this one." We all took positions, weapons trained on the door. I called out to Slate. "How long till the break in?"
"Vines are pulling us into a hanger now, cap."
Taylor had his snap rifle at the ready. Dav, Kennedy, Jericho and I wielded gauss rifles. Each trained on the rear hatch of our strike craft. Any minute some monster was gonna open that hatch and be turned to splinters.
Slate ran in holding his submachine gun. "Cap, they hacked her. I've lost control of the systems."
"Then point your weapon at that hatch and sit tight. We've dealt with worse."
Dav called out, "When have we dealt with worse?"
"Lasko you alri—" Taylor got cut off by the rear hatch opening. Depressurization seal broke with a hiss. The door crept down as a pink fog leaked in.
The moment I saw the shimmering eyes of one of the xenos We let loose seven hells on them… Click.
Wait, my gun jammed? Or did I just forget to pay the service fee again? Ducking behind cover I double checked and nope, the service was paid and the ammo count was down. I even felt the kickback of the magnetic acceleration. Something was wrong.
Kenn called out. "Shit none of our weapons are working!" My eyes went wide. No, nonono!
"Greetings little ones! Would you be kind enough to set down those dangerous toys? They're useless with the firebreak on." Came an insidious alien voice. Firebreak? What in the stars was that damn weed talking about?
Dav yelled, "Grenade ou—what the fuck it vanished!"
I peeked out of my cover and found the smiling affini looking down at all of us, not a single rifle fired, a grenade vanished, and the entire room was filled with that pink gas. "I told you, the firebreak is on. You can't hurt anyone with your toys, so come out peacefully and we'll even let you pick an owner!"
There wasn't a single weapon held by the thing. An unarmed xeno taunted us. I got up, standing firmly on my two feet. My rifle slung back and I drew a knife. "Over your dead body." I charged.
As I charged down the ramp I realized the size difference. I kept moving lower and it towered more and more over me. Until I halted a foot away. This thing was twice my height, and it didn't even flinch at my charge. I gulped, my hand shaking.
Two rippling metallic eyes zeroed in on me. "Oh, you're surrendering? Good boy." I winced. "Hmm, good girl perhaps?" Its vision hung on me while Davis ran past in his own charge to stab the colossus. Vines had him restrained before his knife made contact. "Oh another one! You've been a bad boy, but it's okay we'll make you good little boys and girls." I saw Dav flinch. "Really another?"
"Another what? Man? Because I'm a man and won't bow down to a weed like you." Dav spat against his own evo suit mask. He was right though. We were men. That's the way we were born, and that's how we'd die. It's not like we got to pick like some queer. Sure over a round of drinks it came out that all six members of team 7 wished we could be women, but that was 3am talk with the bros.
The weed then ripped off Dav's helmet and he breathed in the pink fog. Davis went limp. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed it wasn't just the one giant, there were a dozen of them. Each capable of effortlessly stopping a trained special forces agent like it was nothing… This was it. This was finally the end.
I made the call. "Hades contingency."
Taylor questioned me. "But Lask—"
I set the charges on my suit. "You heard me!" Vines grabbed me before the detonation sequence finished and stripped me nude. The last thing I saw was the suit getting sucked into a small pocket of hyperspace that shifted the fog. I took one breath, and I was gone.
"Girls I'm back!" I perked up, my ears twitching excitedly. Mistress was home! I scampered on my pawbs across the hab unit only to collide with Cinnamon. I got a face full of Cinn's boobs. Then Donut tripped over us and tumbled forward.
Warm soft Mistress vines grabbed us all off the floor. Sprinkle, Biscuit, and lastly Fudge joined us in Mistress's hold. She pulled us in for group snuggles! "Aww, such lovely kittens." We all chirped cute little meow-meows back.
We got carried over to the couch where we piled on top of each other to be on Mistress's lap. I of course always got to be on the top of the pile because I was the leader! I booped Mistress with a pawb. "I love you too, Cupcake." She gave me a head pat. "Now girls, I have exciting news!" We all perked up at that. "So my second date with Euphorbia went well and you all are getting a second owner!"
"Nyaaaa!" Mistress got a partner! We all pounced on her and gave her lots of kisses and bities. She squeezed us all tight and gave us each a kiss on our foreheads and then another round giving us kisses on our tummies. We wiggled and squirmed and someone's tail bapped my nose.
I was doing an excitement! Mistress talked a lot about finding someone to help take care of us. Apparently owning so many kittens was really tough especially because we were all florets pinnate! Mistress would never separate Nya team 7… which was funny because there were only… I counted one, two, three, four, five… I looked and saw Mistress and pointed with my pawb. "Six."
She smiled at me while her vines played with Fudge and Cinnamon. "You forgot to count one, Cupcake." She patted my head. "Seven!" Oh, oh yeah! There were seven of us! Nya team 7. The perfect team of perfect kittens and a perfect Mistress.
Then Sprinkle spoke up, her voice was super cute and I liked to nibble on her ears because she made the most adorable noises. "But Euphorbia is 8." I was shocked. Stunned. Mortified! That was one too many!
I looked to Mistress. My face pleading with anguish. "What do we do Mistress? Our number is 7!"
She smiled and gave me a peck on the cheek. "Then we do what I taught all of you. When something doesn't work we…?"
Sprinkle, Fudge, and I all answered in unison. "Change it!" That was Mistress's most important lesson. If things were bad, we changed them to be good! Like our bodies, and our memories, and our love for Mistress.
I smiled and snuggled up to my florets pinnate. We were a team, and we always would be!