Chapter 27: The Serpent
I drag my hand across my face, finger trailing down my cunt. I feel sick. Washed out…
I blink open my eyes and I’m laying facedown on a hard metal table. Where am I? I push myself up and “Oh fuck!!!”
“YeSss.” The Serpent says from across the table.
“You’re me, a Halley!?”
“Of courSsse, haven’t you paid any attention to the Ssstory?” The Serpent’s eyes are golden reptilian slits and her fanged mouth is open in a crooked grin. Her face is my face, but more angular, sharper, and she has a ridge of gunmetal green scales where eyebrows should be. She has a huge mane of indigo iridescent feathers that fan out like a hood and cascade down her back, wild peacock plumage shining beautifully in the harsh light. The Serpent tastes the air with a long black forked tongue and clear membranes swish across her eyes. She waits.
Of fuck! Oh shit! The heist! I’m caught! My heart starts to race and I look frantically around the room. Bare black walls. A steel table. A hard chair. Harsh light from above. The Serpent watching me carefully. I’ve seen enough bad TV to recognize an interrogation room. I’m fucked! I need to get out of here! I’ve been stripped of my veil and sarong and I’m still barefoot, just an unarmed pregnant woman in a mint green swimsuit trapped in a room with an angry Dragon. I’m not restrained or handcuffed, but I’m sure the door is locked and guarded. Fuck! What am I going to do? I fidget nervously with my rings and… my rings! I still have my rings! My magic ring for ghosting and my HAL-E guardian angel ring! Maybe I can escape!
How can I do this? Can I get to the door? It’s all the way across the room from me, around the table and past the Serpent. I’m much stronger now, could I overpower the Serpent? Somehow I doubt it. And even if I make it out through the door, what then? It’s gotta be swarming with guards and it’s not like I’m a speedy getaway with this big belly. I need a better plan. So if not the door, then what? Could I run though a wall? Dive through the floor? The floor! The interrogation rooms are in the first basement! There’s another level below! I could just drop, find some space, call HAL-E! I stroke my magic thievery ring and visualize ghosting through the chair and floor. I smile at The Serpent and do a little finger wave. “Shazam!”
…and nothing happens. I’m still sitting in the room! Fuck!
I grip my ring and focus harder, “Down! Abracadabra!”
Still nothing! Oh fuck, the ring isn’t working! Is it out of power!? Fuck! Fuck fuck fuck! Nothing else left to try: “HAL-E help! I need help!”
Nothing. No reponse!
“HAL-Eeeee! Help me!” Oh fuck!
“Are you finished?”
My heart is racing and tears sting my eyes. “Why isn’t this working?” My electronic voice comes out panicky, warped and strange.
The Serpent shows me her fangs and taps the large amethyst crystal embedded in her chest just above her six bare breasts. “My little Sssouvenir killSss Grey tech.“ She pauses to let that settle in: no escape. “Ssso why don’t we have a little converSssation?”
I take a shuddering, terrified breath. My voice glitches, “What are you going to do to me?”
The Serpent shrugs with all six of her arms, “Ssstill deSssiding.” She slams something down on the table with a bang. The Memory Crystal. “Tell me: why did you want thiSss?”
“I… *static squeal*” I take a deep breath and try again, “I was told it has information about who abducted us from Earth, and that you have it as blackmail…” But that can’t be right, since she’s a Halley too. I shake my head, “You wanted to know for yourself! To find Halley-Prime.”
The Serpent rears up and hisses, “I don’t give a fuck about Halley-Prime.”
I cringe back and whimper! The serpent continues to loom over me with her fangs out. Her body below her hips is a huge snake, as wide as her torso, more than twenty feet long and covered in layered sharp gunmetal scales. The Serpent’s tail is flexed as if she is about to strike me and I can’t help notice the sharp claws on her fingers and how long her fangs are. “Sorry! I’m sorry!”
“AcSssepted.” The Serpent says, relaxing her serpentine body to lower her human torso. “Continue.”
“So it was just for blackmail?” My voice cautiously warbles.
“No. You were cloSsser before.” The Serpent drums the fingers of a hand on a table, a metal prosthetic gauntlet with recessed blades. “The SssapientSss who paid for the abduction were much too clever for there to be evidenSsse on the flight recorder.” She idly flicks the Memory Crystal with a clawed finger. “I wanted Sssomething elSsse.”
“I wanted the method they uSssed to find Halley-Prime.”
“What do you mean?”
“Think about it: how could they Sssingle out one worthleSss human orphan girl from billionSss? What made her Ssspecial? Detectable from orbit?” The Serpent cocks her head and tastes the air with her tongue. “Sssss?”
That’s… actually a good question. The Sleeping God told me that Halley-Prime was special somehow. Valuable. Could this have something to do with that? “Halley-Prime was unique?”
“YeSssss.” I hear the whispered scrape of The Serpents tail moving and she draws herself a little higher and looks down at me. “The abducterSss were given approximate coordinateSss and a Ssspecific lifeSssign to find. A non-human one.” The Serpent’s glares at me. “Halley-Prime waSss an alien.”
“We are alienSss.”
“Jesus Christ! How? Wh-what are we?”
“I’m not Sssure.” The Serpent starts to slowly rock side to side like a dancing snake. “The lifeSssign is Ssstrange, exotic. Nothing recognized. Nothing common. Halley-Prime waSss phySssically human, indiSsstinguishable, but her eSssence, our eSssence, iSss not. I’ve checked.” The Serpent smiles ruefully, a weirdly Halley expression on her harsh face. “Yet another mySsstery.”
“Let me help you solve it.”
The Serpent hisses in amusement. “Why? It’Sss immaterial.”
“What?” I blink. “What do you mean?”
“I have what I want: proof that I’m not a lowly human.”
What the fuck? “Huh?”
“Do you think the Reptilian Council would allow a Ssslave to run their FlotSssam Sssyndicate? To be their Dragon? PrepoSssterouSss. ImpoSssible.” The Serpent poses with her six arms open and winds the flexible tip of her tail around her upper body. “But an alien OutSssider from an advanced MaSsster Ssspecies? Maybe, if Ssshe is uSsseful snd careful and ruthleSss…”
“So this was all about strengthening your claim?”
“Of courSsse. Sssentimentallity is weakneSss.”
The Serpent regards me with cool reptilian eyes. I shiver, so what now? “If you let me go, I promise not to tell anyone.”
The Serpent grins and cocks her head, “But I want you to tell anyone. Everyone! I want every Sssapient on FlotSssam to know the truth!” Her forked tongue flicks, “The point of thiSss little party waSss to share my newSss, to publicly reveal mySsself! My Dragon debutante ball.”
“I’ll even let you keep your little copy of the Memory CrySsstal to bring back to your headleSss SssiSsster.” She touches her chin with a claw, “Independent verification only helpSss me.”
Hope jumps in my belly. “You’re going to let me go?”
I slump in my seat and feel a surge of giddy relief. Happy tears sting my eyes. “Thank God…”
The Serpent roles her eyes, “You can come in now.” The door to the interrogation room opens and two figures enter. The first is Krait, tall and lean and purposeful, her midnight blue scales brilliant in the bright interrogation room light. She smiles at me with all the warmth of an alligator. The second is a slight human woman with mousey brown hair and a shapeless dress. She regards me with furious bruised eyes from a face with no mouth, just smoothed over skin below her nose. The Dragon’s Shaper. Krait discreetly hands something to The Serpent and walks behind me and the Shaper stands behind The Serpent watching angrily. My hope slips back into worry, “What’s going on? Why are they here?”
“I can’t juSsst allow you to leave,” The Serpent says pleasantly. “You broke into my home, violated my Sssanctum. Ssstole from me.” She shakes her head and places something on the table: an envelop. A red and yellow and white envelope, striped like a poisonous snake. That envelope! The one from Halley’s story! The memetic weapon! Of fuck! Oh Jesus fuck! I feel strong hands suddenly grab my shoulders and hear the hiss of snake rattles. The Serpent snaps open the envelope. “There muSsst be conSssequenSsseSss.”
“No…” My heart is racing and my chest is heaving, “No no no no no…”
“YeSss.” The Serpent shuts her eyes and draws a sheet of paper out of the envelope. I try to look away but scaled hands grab my chin, hold my head straight, and I try to fight but then I see lines on the paper, just a glance, just lines, but lines with a purpose, except what could it be? I stop fighting and lean in to look closer, the lines are part of a pattern, a design. I suck on my labia in concentration, the pattern is deceptively simple, orderly, except not? Not at all, actually. There is depth to it, a repetition, a fractal construction that drills down and down and down. Obscured complexity. I follow the pattern deeper, seeking clarity. I feel something in my mind change a little, a sensation like shifting, but not physical. It’s hard to explain, but not really important. The pattern is here. I can tell it has a secret, something important I’ll learn if I can just concentrate harder. I focus and something about me becomes clearer, sharper. I need to know the answer! I need to hone my mind, to concentrate myself totally to the task. The pattern suddenly changes, or no, I just see it more clearly. The meaning is right there! Except no, it goes deeper. So close! I shift in my seat and ugh, fuck, I lose it! Slip back from epiphany! My stupid body is a distraction! A weakness! I only need my mind for the Pattern, the rest of me is just holding me back! If only I could shed this useless physicality! Become a Halley made of energy and intelligence! Then I could learn The Truth! Then I could become One with the Pattern! I could be Optimized! Idealized! Perfect! …And suddenly the wonderful Pattern is gone! The paper hidden from me! Returned to the envelope! “NOOOOO!!” I scream! “Bring it back!”
I look frantically around the room and everyone is staring at me! But I don’t care! I need to see the Pattern again! I raise my hands to beg and… I scream! My hands! Awful! Disgusting! Hideous! Useless! Revulsion fills me! I feel myself, my whole terrible body! All of it! Arms and legs and ass and torso and head! A riotous chaos of physical sensation! Too much! Too much me! This horrible body held me back! Is holding me back! I need to be smaller! Distilled down to my essence! Crystallized!
I need to be reduced!
“Help me!” I look at The Serpent, but no she can’t save me from myself. The Shaper! The Shaper can help! I hold my hated hands out to her. “Please!!”
“Go ahead.” The Serpent says and The Shaper looks at me with eyes glowing with loathing and pleasure. The mouthless woman shuffles towards me and takes me by the arms. My skin crawls at the unwanted sensation of extremity. “Please…” I whisper.
The Shaper grips my arms and strokes my wrists and I feel a warmth like bathwater appear in my horrid flesh. I shiver and groan and The Shaper scowls. The heat builds and my arms feel heavy and dead, like warm bags instead of limbs. I moan and feel the heat boil in my hands and watch as my fingers lose definition, become floppy, and recede into my hands, leaving my arms with only blunt stumps. My rings fall to the floor with a bright clatter. I gasp in pleasure! Euphoria fills me! I’m one step closer to purity! The fever travels up my arms and I feel my flesh pull into itself. I moan and watch my wretched arms recede inch by glorious inch, my hands gone, my wrists, my forearms, until my arms end smoothly at the elbows. Tears of joy fill my eyes! I feel so much better! But it’s not enough! There is still so much of me! The Shaper triumphantly grabs me by my blunt elbows and pushes! I feel a jolt like electricity and a molten glow as my upper arms are squeezed into my shoulders! The Shaper caresses my shoulders smooth and lifts her hands away revealing perfectly scultped flesh. I choke on my happiness! I’m completely armless! I’m beautiful! Clean! “Thank you…”
I twist my body, enjoying the feeling of lightness, the lack of hanging weight, the shedding of unwanted complexity. I sigh and shift my hips and… no! There is still so much of me! So much more to do! These legs! My shoulders! My body! I look desperately at the Shaper who is panting through her nose and slick with sweat. “More! Please you have to take more!”
The Shaper looks at me hungrily but glances at The Serpent who shakes her head. “No. I want her to carry my newSsss home.”
“What!? No!” I need more! I whimper and try to stand, falter with my swollen belly and wonderful lack of arms. I look at the Shaper who glowers back. “Please! Help me! You have to help me!!”
The Serpent gestures and Krait steps out from behind me with a blindfold perched on her forehead. She picks my rings off the floor and carries them to The Serpent who holds each ring in a left hand and strings them onto a silver chain. She uncoils and slithers over the table, drapes the necklace of rings around my neck and clutches me with her six hands. The Serpent stares into my eyes and kisses me deeply on my mouthpussy, “Tell Clem I Sssend my regardSss.”