The ship carved its way through the darkness of infinite space, on a slow course to nowhere, its dented and discolored hull showing that this ship had not had an easy passage.
“I love it,” sighed Laris looking out through the window with a faint smile on her face.
“Why? It's nothing, it's an absence of all things?” Responded Ma’ra looking up from the table she was laying on.
“Because it doesn’t care,” explained Laris. “The black doesn’t give a crap who you are, or where you are from. It doesn’t care if you exist, it doesn’t care if you don’t. It’s just there. It’s comforting.”
“You have a point, forgive me if I don’t exactly have time for philosophy Captain, I just hadn’t expected to be in this situation when I woke up,” replied Ma’ra, closing her eyes once more.
“I wasn’t exactly planning a liberation mission,” nodded Laris. “Then I didn’t know that Ather Corp had made a habit of jettisoning people into space.”
“Why were you even flying at an Ather ship? You’ve actually yet to give me an answer.”
“We’re pirates, we loot things,” grinned Laris.
“You’re a terrible liar,” sighed Ma’ra. “No one flies headfirst at the Corp without something major on the line, pirates attack carriers, the small fry”.
“The Majestic,” interrupted Caziel, looking up from her piloting console and adjusting her hat. “We’re looking for The Majestic.” Laris sighed and shook her head.
“We shouldn’t be advertising that fact.”
“She seems trustworthy,” replied Caziel, looking back down at her console.
“You? The Majestic?” Coughed Ma’ra, sitting bolt upright, her eyes going wide.
“You know it then?” Asked Laris, raising an eyebrow.
“Of course I do, management has been obsessed with finding that thing for years, they think they can monopolize the universe with it,” answered Ma’ra, pushing herself off the table. “But why were you attacking them for it?”
“Because they have it, your ship was carrying it, or at least, part of it,” replied Laris, spinning her chair to face Ma’ra.
“Rubbish, you think people like you would be around if Ather Corp had The Majestic?” Laughed Ma’ra, growing obviously annoyed by this continued avoidance and half-truths.
“Well, turns out, your company haven’t the first clue about how it works, they’ve only got part of it,” replied Laris, pushing out of her chair and moving closer to Ma’ra.
“Not my company, I just worked for them, I need credits to live you know,” growled Ma’ra. “And how do you know better than Ather? They have whole worlds dedicated to researching this stuff!”
“We just do,” sighed Laris. “It is a very long story”.
“Well luckily for you, I’m not busy right now! So answer me!” Screamed Ma’ra, all of her anger and frustration overflowing in one moment.
“Today hasn’t been the best day for any of us, don’t make me have to add knocking you out onto it,” shouted Aria as she walked onto the bridge, her robotic exo-suit whirring with each and every step.
Ma’ra let out a deep breath and backed up. “You’re right,” she nodded. “I’m sorry, I lost control of my better instincts.” She said before climbing back onto the table.
“But you should at least give her the summary,” glared Aria, making Laris flinch.
“I came into some information, on a crashed world, it was a guide to finding the Majestic and a guide to operating it.”
“So why did Ather Corp have it on that ship?” Interrupted Ma’ra.
“They were moving it, likely to one of their facilities, and the second it goes into one of those, then we have no good chance of getting it back.” Nodded Laris.
“So we decided to try our luck, unfortunately, rescuing you gave the carrier time to fly off, leaving us without a lead,” added Aria.
“I didn’t ask to be fired into space,” sighed Ma’ra.
“I’m not saying you did,” interrupted Aria firmly. “But it still meant we lost the carrier and a big chance of getting that part of The Majestic.”
“Umm, girls,” shouted Caziel. “I’m getting strange readings, really strange.” The girls all turned and looked at the pilot before Laris started to walk back to her station.
“Weird how?” Asked Laris.
“Massive energy spikes in local space, it's almost like something is warping the space around itself, something big,” said Caziel, tapping on her screen, her voice trailing off as she did.
“Blackhole?” Asked Laris as Aria came up behind her.
“Not the right signature and there is nothing like that within any nearby sectors.”
Suddenly a rift opened up in front of the ship, a huge bow puncturing through the void of space.
“It’s massive,” gasped Ma’ra.
“Turn on the burners, try and hide our weapons’ signatures, let’s try and pass as a generic carrier,” shouted Laris as Aria quickly moved to a console and started hitting buttons.
The ship continued the push through the rift revealing more and more of the bow. It was covered in ornate carvings of various warrior women each one nearly the size of Laris’ ship.
“That thing is gigantic, it's larger than most stations,” gasped Ma’ra, “I’ve never seen anything like it”.
“The rift is too strong, we don’t have enough power to pull away, can only just maintain distance” shouted Caziel.
The ship continued to push out, revealing that the ship looked like a historical galleon on a massive scale, its deck carrying a massive palace that dwarfed even the grandest station or colony. With a sudden burst of speed, the ship pushed totally out of the rift which closed instantly behind it, letting out a burst of energy that rocked Laris’ small carrier.
“I don’t think this is good,” muttered Caziel as the rocking of the ship sent everyone else flying.
“Get us out of here!” Shouted Laris.
Suddenly a blue rippling wave radiated from the edge of the ship’s hull, rocking the carrier once more, knocking Laris right back down to the floor.
“They are generating a gravity well!” Shouted Caziel, her tapping growing more and more furious. “I can’t pull us out, we’re totally stuck!”
“How much power do they have?” Shouted Aria, “I’m going to uncloak our weapons, show them we are not going to sit here and do nothing!” She said as she worked on her console.
Suddenly, one of the warrior carvings on the bow of the ship started to open up, revealing a large barrel, one so big that Laris’ ship could easily fly inside it.
“No, no way,” gasped Caziel, shaking her head as the barrel extended outwards.
“That, that looks like a Catastrophic cannon,” mumbled Laris, her voice wobbling.
“Energy signature checks out,” nodded Caziel. “You could mine a whole planet in a single shot with that thing.”
“A Catastrophic cannon?” Asked Ma’ra. “That doesn’t sound good,” she said as her eyes grew wider.
“It is an anti-planet weapon, it requires a horrific amount of energy, what are they using to power it.” Replied Laris, her thoughts wandering as she tried to make sense of the situation.
The barrel started to pull in wisps of energy as it started to faintly glow. “Captain, the cannon is charging,” shouted Caziel.
“How long until they fire?” replied Laris, shaking her head as she furiously checked the readouts.
“Unknown. I don’t have good data on Catastrophic cannons and they are using an unknown power source.” Said Caziel gravely.
“Depower our weapons and turn off the burners, go into a full shutdown,” shouted Laris, looking towards the other members of her crew. For a moment Aria looked doubtful but then a wave of resignation came over her face.
“Weapons offline. Only core systems running,” nodded Aria.
“Maybe they are open to talking,” replied Laris as she looked out at the massive ship, hoping her gamble was going to pay off.
“Thank the stars, cannon charging has been canceled.” sighed Caziel, slumping forward onto her console as a wave of relief washed over the bridge.
Almost instantly the bow of the ship started to close up and within a few moments, it was like the weapon had never been there at all.
Suddenly, the carrier rocked, throwing the crew once more. Caziel quickly pulled herself back into her seat. “Captain, they are manipulating the gravity well, I think they are pulling us on board.”
“Where are they getting this technology?” Asked Aria, obviously stunned by these events.
“Well, prepare for diplomacy then,” grinned Laris as she stood up and steadied herself.
The carrier was slowly dragged towards the gigantic ship, eventually being lifted up and dropped onto the deck, a little in front of the palace.
“Gravity well has dissipated, the local area has artificial gravity and a breathable atmosphere,” said Caziel as she quickly checked her data.
“Habitation tech, wonderful,” smiled Ma’ra. “Well at least they are going to be a bit like us,” she said looking towards Laris.
“Well, follow my lead,” nodded Laris, gesturing to Aris who followed her closely.
The group quickly made their way to the exit, walking out into the grounds of the palace. Suddenly a massive line of armed women came out, each of them was wearing a rather ornate red jacket and carrying a small laser pistol.
“Empress Rane wishes to meet you.” Said the first woman, her voice firm yet melodic.
“Then take us to her!” Nodded Laris before turning to Ma’ra, Caziel, and Aris. “Well, at least we are getting the formal diplomat treatment!” She smirked.
The large platoon of women led the group into the palace revealing just how large and ornate it was. Each little detail looking like it had taken several years of work to produce.
“This is bigger than most of Ather Corp’s planets,” gasped Ma’ra as she looked around, her eyes filled with wonder, almost tripping over herself due to being so distracted by her surroundings.
Soon the group was marched into a gigantic throne room, each wall was covered in statues of heroic women, each with their weapons held aloft. At the end of the room was a gigantic platform on which sat a grand throne.
Sat on this throne was a woman, clad in a jacket much like the one the escorts were wearing, except hers was much more ornate and matched with a large domed skirt around her hips. Her large hat made her easy to see despite the height of her throne.
Suddenly all of the women bowed down, pressing their noses against the floor. “Empress Rane, we have brought them as you commanded,” shouted one of the women.
Laris looked around quickly before starting to bow, motioning for her crew to do the same. “We are pleased to meet you, Empress,” shouted Laris.
“And I am pleased to meet you,” smiled the Empress, rising from her throne and looking down at the bowing crew. “You may rise,” she added, waving her hand.
The crew pulled themselves up, brushing themselves off as they did. “Very nice ship you have here,” compliment Laris, pointing to some of the statues around them.
“Thank you, I am glad you like it!” Replied the Empress as another woman appeared on the platform with her. “Speak,” stated the Empress, not even turning to acknowledge the girl.
“Empress, the timeline is stable, and there seem to be signatures of the collection here,” she said, looking obviously nervous.
“Excellent, excellent,” smiled the Empress before smiling down on Laris and her crew. “And you might be able to help me.”
“How can we help?” Asked Laris, a cocky smirk coming to her face.
“We are looking for something, I wonder if you’ve encountered an object that is. Well let’s just say something powerful, vastly powerful,” grinned the Empress.
“The Majestic!” Gasped Ma’ra, only for Laris and Aris to glare daggers at her.
“The Majestic? Tell me more,” beamed the Empress as she sat back down on her throne.
“I,” started Ma’ra, only to cower a little. Laris rubbed the bridge of her nose and sighed.
“Please tell her Ma’ra.”
“Well.” Started Ma’ra, taking a deep breath. “The Majestic is a device that allows unlimited energy generation and transformation. Apparently one could turn one form of energy into another without any loss,” she explained.
“And you’ve encountered this?” Asked the Empress.
“Well, apparently I was on a ship with part of it and these people,” replied Ma’ra, pointing to the girls around her. “Have knowledge about the rest of it!”
“Perfect! Glorious!” Shouted the Empress. “You will make perfect additions to my crew!”
“Hey! We’re not joining your crew!” Shouted Laris, slightly taken aback by how forward this woman was.
“Oh, you don’t have a choice.” Grinned the Empress, pointing at the guards around the room. “Take her to the mesmerica!” She screamed.
“Take me to the what? You’re not taking me anywhere!” Screamed Laris, only to be quickly swept off her feet by the guards. Once she was lifted the guards started to march her out of the throne room totally ignoring her displeasure at the situation.
Laris continued to struggle, but she was far too weak to break away from the guards who continued to carry her through corridor after corridor until they came to a heavy door.
One guard broke away from the group and tapped at a keypad before the door opened and Laris was tossed inside.
Laris hit the cold metal floor hard, she quickly tried to pull herself up, only to see the metal door slide closed, throwing the room into total darkness.
Laris moved to hammer on it but instead, she felt herself start to float up until she was no longer touching the floor.
“What? You think no gravity is going to stop me? I can kick your ass regardless!” She screamed, swinging her fists into the darkness, sending her floating around the room.
However, no matter how hard she kicked or swung, she never seemed to hit a wall, she just continued to float in an infinite darkness.
After a while a sphere in the center of the room lit up, a black and white spiraling pattern appearing over its surface. Laris’ eyes were instantly drawn to it, her mind looking for any sensory input it could find.
Laris watched the pattern spiral over the sphere, getting drawn into it. Suddenly she started to blink. “I’m not going to fall for this!” she screamed, turning her head away from the sphere.
Laris started to kick again, trying to find the walls of the room, but every few seconds her eyes would be drawn back to the pattern on the sphere, and every time it took more and more energy to pull her gaze away from it.
After a while she found herself just floating in the darkness, staring at the sphere and its pattern. “I won’t, you can’t do this to me,” she screeched into the darkness.
“Do not fear,” came a robotic voice.
“Let me out of here!” Screamed Laris. “Before I break my way out!”
“The mesmerica is your friend,” continued the voice, causing Laris to shake her head.
“No, it isn’t my friend, I won’t let you mess with me!” She argued, not sure if anyone could hear her.
“The mesmerica is your friend,” repeated the voice. “Please look at the mesmerica,” it cooed.
“No!” Shouted Laris, still floating around, her eyes drifting back to the pattern every few seconds.
“The mesmerica is so pretty, the pattern keeps changing and spiraling,” echoed the voice. “Just enjoy it, the mesmerica just wants to make you feel good.”
“I, it is pretty,” mumbled Laris before blinking and shaking her head. “No, I won’t give in.” She shouted through gritted teeth.
“Without the mesmerica you are lost, floating alone in space,” added the voice before the sphere turned off, plunging the room into total darkness once more.
Laris continued to float in the void, time stretching out. Laris was unsure how long she had been in that room, it could have been years. She started to claw at her face, anything to reassure herself that she was still real, the lack of input starting to unravel her mind a little.
After what felt like an age the sphere illuminated once more, the spiraling pattern cascading over it. Laris stared at it and felt herself smile. She knew she shouldn’t look at it, but she needed stimulation and sensory input.
“Look at the mesmerica,” started the voice.
“Okay, but it won’t affect me,” argued Laris. “My mind is too strong for this.”
“The mesmerica is so pretty,” continued the voice, becoming more human as it did.
“Yes, it is,” nodded Laris, her eyes following one spiral into its center. “It is very pretty”.
“It is so beautiful, the mesmerica is so beautiful,” added the voice.
“The mesmerica is beautiful.” Replied Laris, her voice wavering a little.
“It would look even more beautiful if you got closer to it.”
“I, it would?” Murmured Laris. “I shouldn’t go closer though.”
“You could see the patterns so much better if you moved closer,” cooed the voice, almost taking on a sing-song tone.
“I could, yes,” nodded Laris.
“The patterns would be so pretty up close.”
“I, guess it wouldn’t hurt,” replied Laris gently. She started to kick her legs propelling herself closer and closer to the sphere.
“It is so beautiful, move closer,” continued the voice.
“Move closer,” replied Laris. The voice was right, the spiraling patterns were even more detailed up close, there were so many different facets to them, it was mind-blowingly beautiful.
Laris’ eyes started to glaze over as she watched the pattern loop over the surface of the sphere.
“The mesemerica is your friend,” explained the voice. “Go closer to the mesemerica.” Laris didn’t wait and moved closer and closer until she was almost touching the sphere, her mind slowly fading away into the patterns.
“So pretty, my friend,” she slurred.
“Hug the mesmerica, it is so beautiful, hug it.” Said the voice as Laris complied, wrapping her arms around the sphere, pressing her face into it as her eyes went wide, admiring all of the beautiful patterns.
“So beautiful,” slurred Laris.
“The mesmerica is your friend,” echoed the voice.
“The mesmerica is my friend,” repeated Laris, the words sliding into her mind, tickling at the corners of her brain.
“The mesmerica would never lie to you, you can trust the mesmerica,” sang the voice.
“Never lie to me, trust you,” slurred Laris, her eyes mesmerized by the patterns.
“The mesmerica wants what is best for you.”
“Yes, best for me, I love the mesmerica,” smiled Laris.
“The mesmerica thinks you should obey the Empress. Empress Rane is wonderful.” Added the voice, seemingly sounding much kinder than it had when this all started.
“She is?” asked Laris, her eyes gently rolling into her head.
“Empress Rane is wonderful,” repeated the voice, slightly more firmly.
“Empress Rane is wonderful,” agreed Laris nodding slowly.
“Empress Rane commands all.”
“Empress Rane commands all,” mumbled Laris, not even stopping to think about the statement.
“It is a pleasure to serve Empress Rane.”
“It is a pleasure to serve Empress Rane,” continued Laris, totally giving into the words, her mind too fixated on the patterns to fight.
“Empress Rane is always right.”
“Empress Rane is always right,” nodded Laris, drool trickling down and forming little floating droplets in the low gravity environment.
“The mesermerica is always in your mind, helping you, teaching you, guiding you,” slowly explained the voice as a flash from the sphere caused Laris’ eyes to flutter closed.
Laris felt herself falling until she gently hit the cold metal floor. She lay there for a few minutes until a metallic sound shook her awake. She turned her head and saw people coming into the chamber.
Laris pulled herself up off the floor, still feeling dazed. It was like she was floating on a cloud. A woman broke away from the group and came close to Laris.
“Hail Empress Rane!” She shouted.
“Hail Empress Rane!” Shouted Laris without thought or question. The woman smirked and waved another lady forward. This lady was carrying one of the uniforms that all of Rane’s crew wore. Laris didn’t need to be prompted and quickly moved to put it on, throwing her old clothes into the chamber without a second thought.
“Follow,” stated the first woman as the whole group turned and started to march. Laris followed, quickly falling into step with the platoon as they marched through the place.
Just as they were about to reach the throne room the group stopped, and the leader turned to face Laris. “Through this door. Quick march!” She shouted, pointing to a door just off to the side.
Laris complied and marched through the door, climbing the stairs until she found herself on the massive platform, just behind the throne. Laris’ heart skipped a beat.
She continued to walk until she saw Rane, reclining on her throne, using a girl as a footrest. Laris had never noticed how beautiful Rane was. She was stunning, breathtaking, Laris would do whatever she wanted, just for a chance to see her smile.
“Ah wonderful,” grinned the Empress, kicking her feet off the girl and turning to face Laris. “Now, are you ready to join my crew?” She asked, moving close and running a hand along Laris’ cheek.
“Yes, Empress.” Nodded Laris, feeling a heat growing between her legs.
“Wonderful,” grinned the Empress. “Form a line!” She shouted, pointing to the area in front of the throne. Laris quickly complied, it was only when she got in front of the throne that she could see that the footrest girl was Ma’ra.
Ma’ra quickly rose and stood next to Laris, only to be joined by Aria and Caziel, all of them wearing the same glazed and dazed expression.
“You took the longest to break, but I’m glad you did, what is a crew without a captain?” Chuckled Rane. “Now, what do you say?”
“Hail Empress Rane,” shouted all four in mindless unison. Rane smiled wider and walked down the line with a smile, rubbing each face in turn.
“Perfect, perfect,” purred Rane before sitting on her throne and slowly raising her skirt. “Then it is time for you to pledge eternal fealty to me, to worship at my shrine and give yourself totally to my command.”
“Yes Empress,” replied all four in unison, falling to their knees and crawling towards Rane, heads going between her legs as they started to worship her, feeling her control grow inside them. They all knew that they were forever obedient to Empress Rane and that was all that mattered, it was the only logical choice, why would anyone not want to be under the benevolent control of the Empress?
The girls kissed, licked and worshipped the Empress, relishing in her little squeals and moans of pleasure as she wrapped her legs around them, pulling them all closer, forcing them to worship with even more devotion, their minds twisting around the Empress’ body, their whole world reduced to nothing more than her will.
When Rane cried out in bliss, each of the girls felt it washing through them, filing them with the greatest bliss they had ever experienced in their lives, a bliss that was so transcendent that they knew they would do anything to experience it again.
They all collapsed into a heap, looking up at Empress Rane, their eyes filled with devotion and submission. Rane took a few seconds to compose herself, scanning her eyes across the pile. “Stand,” she commanded.
The girls quickly scrambled to their feet, swaying a little as they re-formed the line. Rane pulled herself off the throne and walked up to them.
“Laris, you will be my personal guard,” she said as she gently kissed the girl.
“Yes, Empress Rane.” Replied Laris, knowing that the Empress was never wrong.
“And you Aria will join her. Once we get you a more fitting exo-suit,” nodded Rane.
“Your wish is my command my Empress,” nodded Aria.
“Caziel, I need a scientist, you will submit your mind to my needs,” stated Rane firmly.
“My mind is yours to use Empress,” nodded Caziel drowsily.
“And Ma’ra, oh Ma’ra, a wonderful footstool, and a wonderful pleasure slave.” Finished Rane, walking to the door before Ma’ra could reply.
“My body is yours, Empress,” said Ma’ra, bowing a little she did.
“Oh and Laris, please turn over all your information on The Majestic.” Smirked Rane, turning back to look at the line. “Now all of you, go get your uniforms and then begin your duties.” Command Rane, walking off the platform as the four started to march towards the processing room.