‘Not so rough!’ 9 watched 23 hurl the human across the rock floor. ‘We need the specimen unharmed.’
23 grunted before skulking into the darkness.
9 stood next to the machine. The human was gathering herself up, pushing pale arms off the ground, golden strands of hair falling around her shoulders. She looked up at him from eyes almost as dark as the universal skies; he felt a stirring deep in his chest.
Was The Experiment succeeding?
She stood up, shoving the hair off her face with those strange human fingers.
‘Will we practice Kindness today?’ Her mouth curled around the words. He found himself staring at the full pinkness of it.
He flicked his gaze away. ‘No. We progress to Love.’
She let out a bark of laughter, his antennae could easily pick up the bitter tone. Grogians were well tuned to the negative. To hatred. Hah! Wasn’t that why they were on the brink of extinction? Fighting their way through three universes in a blood bath of destruction. That humans, with their unshelled bodies and their ability to care, were now the Grogians’ only chance of pulling back from the void, was a deep humiliation to his race.
9’s torso prickled as the human moved closer, the warmth of her body fanning his scales.
It should be distasteful.
He blinked, maintaining his second eyelids over his eyes to shut out the disturbing visual impact.
‘Seems you have assimilated kindness from yesterday’s session?’ She said softly. She was fearless, questioning him, the General’s son. He’d call it courage in war, but this was not war.
Reluctantly his lids peeled back and he sank into the strangeness of her eyes. Those pupils, that dilated and retracted, unnerved him. He said nothing.
‘You told your colleague not to harm me. Were you experiencing kindness?’
‘Perhaps, but only to save our race.’ He spoke harshly.
‘If it’s not already too late.’ She took a step closer, almost level with his height. ‘Tell me your name.’ She whispered, her breath soft and sweet scented. A memory shivered through him, of dappled light in a distant world.
‘I have no name.’ 9 shot back.
Before he could will himself to move, her finger traced along his jagged cheekbone and a zap of heat hit, low in his belly. He grabbed her hand, and she yelped.
‘Over there.’ He gave a shove towards the equipment, but not hard. Part of him, an inexplicable part, wanted to pull her closer, experience her pliable flesh against his armoured body.
She stared straight ahead as he fixed the helmet on her head, the electrodes above the swell of her breasts, on her belly, and lower, on her abdomen.
9 told himself he felt nothing.
He strapped her in, swallowing hard as the soft pads just above his claws sank into her waist. He kept his claws deeply furled. Something in him wanted not to hurt her, it was true.
Then he mirrored the action, helmet on, electrodes in corresponding spots.
Closed his eyes. And let his brain read hers.
Time lost meaning. Somewhere inside his cortex she reached in, pushing aside his armour. He felt the touch of her fingertips trailing across the reptilian nature of his skin, melting his defences. He was wound around her, limbs entwined. Heat melting ice. Their mouths touching, no, much more than touching, exploring, fusing. He was rising above her and she was reaching for him, a soft crooning like the song of the universe falling from her lips.
9’s eyes flew open. His heart pumped at speed. A rush bigger than any battle victory speared through him.
Opposite him the human watched, her lips slightly parted, breasts moving fast with her breath. His own moved in synch with hers.
‘You feel it, don’t you?’ She panted.
‘Yes, I feel it.’ He confessed.
‘This is love. Between a man and a woman. It is how we humans survived. In the end only love saved us.’ Her voice was like the wind of his home planet, long destroyed. ‘Now please, tell me your name.’
He remembered that once he had a name. ‘Thor.’
Her mouth twisted in a smile. ‘The Norse warrior God. I thought as much. You have human in you. This is why we are able to connect. Why your father chose you… and why he allowed me to be spared.’
9 dragged his hand across his quills ‘That’s a fantasy. A fairy tale. The Grogians never dwelt with humans.’
Sadness edged her smile. ‘Many moons ago in another galaxy. It is forever imprinted in your DNA.’
A groan escaped him, deep and harsh. He had fought against The Experiment as if his life depended on it.
For fear of losing his soul to a human.
Yet, it had happened.
Without thinking, led purely by something so powerful he could no longer deny it, Thor ripped off the helmet and electrodes and hurled himself at her feet. The scales along his spine quivered as she crouched next to him, hands exploring his face, his shoulders, feathering lightly over his wings.
‘The Experiment has succeeded,’ she said, eyes shining.
Now he reached for her, his cold limbs twining around her, but gently so as not to damage her tender skin.
He held his breath. She placed her lips on his and intense fire seared through him.
As she pulled away her tone was urgent. ‘We must escape the barren crater of this dead moon and finally fulfil the prophecy. Together, my love, we will form another race, far, far away from here.’
He bowed his head in ascent. This beautiful creature had won a war with no bloodshed.
He gazed deep into her eyes, reverence overcoming fear. ‘What is it? This feeling like my chest might burst, my body disintegrate into a thousand exploding stars?’
‘Ecstasy.’ The human murmured into his antennae.