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Dave Fragments

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CAGE FIGHTER

August 2, 2008

The State Dinner

"A world that speaks a hundreds of languages? Built in the image of a single creator? Impossible I say, absolutely impossible!" said Gagblak Xoiner, the First Prothonotary of Capella, a habitable planet in the constellation Auriga. He turned sideways in his seat to face the guests. His potbelly -- exaggerated by his stick-like legs, emasculated torso and non-existent shoulders -- stuck out like a watermelon. The nearest guests, martial arts experts Julio and Linus Dieterwald ducked away from his long arms as he gestured. Earth ambassador Wilton Burdine, Admiral Twerski and the Capellan ambassador Boigda Pommet, set their silverware so the Prothonotary couldn't accidentally spear his limbs.

"An Earth legend tells of a time when every human spoke the same language and that they grew so bold as to build a tower to reach the Creator. Displeased, the Creator struck the tower, confused the languages. They named the tower Babel which gives us the English word, babble." Linus answered.

"The Creator? Did this creator fashion Capella in Earth's image? Piddly-Diddly nonsense. A conceit of you humans. How singularly egotistical and narcissistic of your creator. A creator in your image. Is this creator part of your personal beliefs, your Dao, Linus? Do you really want to be like water and seeking the lowest level like a puddle or stain?" He paused and waved off Linus' answer. His three eyes shifted around the table at the delegations from Earth and Capella. "I asked you once but you seemed unable to explain the nature of the Dao, the way. You told me a story of sittin around with long pointy sticks and catching locusts? What's a locust? Our insects would eat the pole. I guess that Earth insects are benign little bugs that sit around discussing unimportant matters like whether one fighter can beat the other fighter while pretending to be puddles of still water."

Linus didn't answer the First Prothonotary. Julio, his fighting partner mocked the First Prothonotary's gesticulations, waving his arms and ending with one upraised finger. "Yo baby, I'm, like yanno, dumb for right now, sweetie. I'm eating, like, at dinner."

The First Prothonotary rose to his feet and squared his blue vestments over his scrawny shoulders. He towered over Julio by eighteen inches. But that was all he did, tower. Julio outweighed and out-muscled him by 150 pounds.

"Insults," the First Prothonotary bellowed. "The refuge of a tiny mind. This is a superior, intellectual discussion of the eccentricities of foreign language between duly designated plenipotentiaries. Your emotional alien hand signs cannot mock me. You are a fighter, not an intellectuals, not a proper member of society, a mere entertainer, a stupid functionary and my inferior."

"Prothonotary, we apologize. It was a joke," Linus said, wrapping his arm around Julio's shoulder to hold him down.

"I need a profanity, young Earthling, something to restore my bruised distinctiveness." The First Prothonotary stopped to consider his words.

"Stink is a good word," Julio blurted out.

"You said you had a girl friend back on Earth. A sexual acquaintance, I presume. If I may ask, you must tell me if she appreciates, now what do you call it. Like I said before, you have too many words for things, too much language to express emotions, so many words. But I think in your native language, it is pinga or tube of meat byproduct, or wait, I got it; going down on your wienerschnitzel." The First Prothonotary said, drawing out the syllables, making his voice break high on the schnitz. The Capellans had no visible genitalia and considered Earthmen degenerate for theirs. "Yes, young wrestler. Does your girlfriend like wienerschnitzel with whipped nuts or do you eat it for her and spit out your buddy's seed?"

"You overblown scumbag. How dare you." Julio snarled. Ambassador Wilton Burdine, Admiral Twerski and the Capellan ambassador, Boigda Pommet, set their silverware on the table.

"Oh, did I hit a nerve, ballboy? Does she take that wienerschnitzel that you all so proudly display and whip your nuts? And do you both pant like dogs when she plays hide the dinky-doodle, wienerschnitzel-boy." The First Prothonotary poked his finger into Julio's shoulder.

"Gentlemen!" Both Ambassadors said as one voice. The Prothonotary ignored them.

"No, you're much smaller than that in both statue and mind You're the Vienna sausage of Earth. The teeny weenie of snacks!" the Prothonotary poked Julio again. He didn't expect Julio to jump up but Julio did jump up and head-butt the First Prothonotary. The Capellan promptly fell onto his back. Julio didn't stop. He roared like a tiger and rammed his fist into the alien's torso. Linus launched his body at Julio, rolling him off the alien and pinning him to the floor. The Prothonotary puked blood all over his white clothes. Julio unleashed a string of profanities and spit on the Prothonotary. YakMat P'Koil the Capellan fighter, lifted the injured Prothonotary while Capellan security guards secured Julio's arms and legs and arrested him.

Ambassador Burdine told Linus to trust the Capella legal system and that's what Linus did. One word filled his mind as he followed Julio that night - perfunctory. Perfunctory is not a word one wishes to hear when one is accused of nearly killing a diplomat. Justice in Capella is perfunctory. Guilt before innocence and arcane laws guaranteed a perfunctory verdict. By the next morning, the Capellan Legal system had found Juan-Diego Julio Marcato Hernandez guilty, sentenced him to life in prison and saddled Linus with the responsibility of settling Julio's affairs.

2 -- The Local Bar

Capellan society has two classes. Ninety percent of Capellan men are tall, thin wispy creatures like the Prothonotary. They stand nine foot tall with parchment-like, pale-white skin stretched over fragile skeletons. Ten percent of Capellan men are heavy-boned and thickly muscled thugs with dark, pleochroic skin resembling the color of heavy oils. They do the heavy work, form the military, deal with off-worlders and are outcasts.

"Julio's trial made the news. I'm told it's all over the tabloids back on Earth," YakMat P'Koil, leader of the Fighters Guild said. The bartender set up whiskey and beer for both men.

"Julio's temper erupts for most anything. It's his family heritage. Prove your manhood to everyone at any cost." Linus Dieterwald gulped the shot of whiskey, chased it with beer. "I warned the Ambassador about having him to dinner. Diplomats behave. Fighters fight. Who'da thought the First Prothonotary would bloom, spouting English like a native. Neither of us speak native English as a first language. It's archaic, old fashioned..." Linus drank. He pushed his money at the Bartender who waved it off and set up another round.

"A rare sight, the First Prothonotary dissembling in foreign tongues. I always tell the men, run for your linguistic life, call the emergency squad, sound the klaxons. The great white whale is going to blow!" YakMat joked, his three eyes watery with laughter.

"Ja, Ja, not rare enough site! I couldn't jump fast enough to stop Julio after the Prothonotary implied Julio sucked dick and ate cum out of his wife's snatch. Doesn't the Prothonotary have a wife?"

"He does, but she has a dick." YamMat and Linus laughed. Linus shook his head and thumping the bar with his fist. Glasses jumped and tinkled.

"You should have seen the Prothonotary go down screaming wienerschnitzel, wienerschnitzel as Julio beat him."

"How about the Judge lecturing the courtroom on the hidden meanings of wienerschnitzel. I could have sold tickets had I known." YakMat made a clapping motion letting his hands miss each other. They leaned on each other and laughed, descending into giggles. The other patrons stopped and stared at the two. Sniffing and wiping his eyes, Linus stopped laughing. His smile turned to a frown. He lifted his vest back up on his shoulders and pulled it over his muscular chest.

"Ach that judge, he acted like I could control Julio. Julio's a drinking buddy and my opponent. He did this s back on Earth. He got drunk, started fights and let the team had to bail him out. Now your judge says I'm honor bound to break Julio out of prison. Oh fuck, shit, piss screw. Tell me it's a bad dream." Linus let his shoulders slide down. He drank the whiskey and beer then rested his hands on the table.

"Understand our customs, Linus. You and Julio share living quarters. On Capella, men sharing rooms share ther bodies." YakMat motioned for the bartender to refill their drinks.

"Between you and me," Linus gestured, squared his shoulder and leaned over to YakMat, his voice in a whisper. "Yakmat, I feel like you're a father I never knew. A father I could say anything to and not be ashamed. It's true, Julio and I spent a few nights together on the spaceship but I broke it off when Julio refused to recognize our bastard love child. Our breakup was so bad that I trolled the underdecks for weeks servicing hard up spacemen with blueballs and drunken mechanics with minor cases of the clap." He finished with tears in his eyes.

Yakmat beer blew out of his mouth and all over the bar. The bartender gave him an evil stare and threw him a cloth.

"I almost believed you, just for a moment," Yakmat said.

"No, your world has me. It seems has caught me in the judicial system. I've got to free Julio or lose my good name. I can't abandon him on Capella and not be disgraced."

"Capellan law is all about honor, Linus. My business partner cheating me and to save his honor, he agreed to let me adopt his three sons. Honor being served, he doesn't cheat my family anymore." The bartender refreshed their drinks.

"How did I get in this mess?" Linus muttered into his glass. YakMat stood and raised his glass to the Capella flag. Linus stood, hitching his jeans up and raising a shot in salute.

"To Capella law and honor." He toasted and drank. Without warning, YakMat grabbed Linus, kissed his forehead three times before he wrapped his alien arms around Linus in the custom of the Mu Thai Guild. The pleochroic skin of YakMat's chest felt like warm rubber on the side of Linus' head. Whispers filled the bar at the sight of human-Capellan contact and then silence. The bar patrons, members of YakMat's fighters, began tapping their glasses in unison. YakMat hands moved over Linus' body. He's taking the measure of my body, thought Linus. Linus reached behind his waist and stopped YakMat's hands.

"What's going on?" Linus listened to the strange rhythmic beating of Yakmat's heart.

"We, the Mu Thai of Capella, approve of you. Your fighting skills impress. We have a proposition for you, Linus Dierterwald. We want you to join the MuThai. Teach us your human style of fighting. In return, we'll help you break Julio out of prison," YakMat said. Linus leaned way from YakMat's body, resting his buttocks against the larger man's hands. A layer of alcoholic sweat glistened on their chests. Linus' muscles gleamed while YakMat's dark alien skin reflected rainbows like oil on water.

"Break Julio out of prison. How? I'm not Captain Earth saving the downtrodden, Jay Edgar saving the world from communism, or even John Carter of Barsoom. I've never handled a particle beams gun. Never touched plastique and my accent is so bad, I'd never be mistaken for an Earth gangsters. I make my living by beating men with my fists inside of cages. I'm not even sure that I could beat you Capellans. You're huge compared to me."

"The Capellan honor codes are older than written law."

"Honor codes?"

"We don't use guns and bombs, nothing of the sort. We do what we're trained to do, fight. We have already asked for resolution by the Mu Thai. The warden and the Judge agreed. It's simple, you fight for honor, win and leave with Julio." Wobbly, Linus put an arm around Yakmat's waist.

"No, it can't be as simple as that. What's the catch?" Linus asked.

"We have comrades in the same prison. They'll let you defeat them. Take a dive, as you say. With the win, you own them and you are entitled to remove them from the prison. Once off planet, nothing compels you to keep the fighters." A fight! I haven't had a real challenge since I left Earth, Linus thought.

"But you guys are like giants. Look at me."

"Our imprisoned comrades are bantamweights and novices. You can beat them easily," YakMat countered.

"I can?"

"Yes, you can. They are ignorant weaklings, barely trained. And they would rather be indebted to a Human than rotting in prison," YakMat explained. They're lying about something but if I can own two fighters, I can establish a club on this world. Linus thought.

"YakMat, I couldn't," Linus said. This sounds too good to be true. Too high stakes. Linus thought.

"They are truly and genuinely bantamweight fighters. This is their last chance. Their shame is our shame." The demeanor of every Capella in the bar sank on cue. Linus shook his head. An alien he recognized as YakMat's lieutenant stood up and walked over with three glasses of the native beer. Linus braced his free shoulder against the alien's chest, his head barely reaching past the alien's shoulder.

"That means that they will owe me their lives as a debt of honor, doesn't it?"

"Julio will leave prison with you." YakMat said. His three eyes darted at each other. What's up with those three eyes. They telegraph so much. I could even tell what the judge was thinking, thought Linus.

"It's a deal," Linus raised his glass and drank. The Capellan's drank to success. Linus drank to gain a fight club.

3 -- Prison Fight

Razor wire, security cameras and gun ports created a "no man's land" around the prison walls broken by a narrow, zigzagged gravel walkway. Scorched marks from energy weapons decorated the path.

Linus walked in front of Yakmat and his fighters. He announced their intentions at the gate. Automatic weapons swiveled and tracked their movement through the gates. The guards stopped them in the middle of the yard, stripped them. Inside the main building, they submitted to full cavity searches. Linus' golden brown hair and well-tanned body stood in stark contrast to the dark greens and blues of the Capellans who displayed no external genitalia. Linus' endowment brought insults and catcalls from the tiers of inmates. The guards fondled his package and photographed his body. The only similarity in color was Linus' black Fighter's Guild tattoos that enhanced his Herculean physique. He left the security check naked, holding only a wrestling unitard in one hand and his pride in the other.

Guards in metallic body armor holding energy rifles escorted them to the fight arena -- a gray room with gray walls broken only by the white of caged lights. Gray cages held a dozen prisoners. The rest of the prisoners sat in bleachers. 3D vidcams lined the walls just above each black guard station. More guards flanked the door.Linus passed through without seeming to notice the details. He'd done this before, a specialty of his brain. The doctors never figured out what let him do it, but he could walk through a room and see all that mattered with his peripheral vision. On the other side of the arena was a small, semi-private shower room and dressing area. Two naked Capellan men stood shoulder-to-shoulder. Julio crouched behind them.

"Julio?"

"You're a sight for sorry eyes? The prison doctor came down and ordered these two dingleberries to strip me, drag me from my cell and haul me here. I had visions of rape or death. The Doctor kept talking about how much he enjoyed learning alien anatomy and how much information my body was already providing him. I swear if he had the chance he would have opened me up right thern and there. You never know what these alien douchebags are going to do. I thought I was alone. I heard that everyone left for Earth and abandoned me. I thought for sure I was going to die in here." Julio hugged and kissed Linus.

Linus pulled away. "Mind your language, they speak English." While Julio hugged Linus to his chest and kissed him again, Linus took a good look at the two Capellan inmates.

"Then, I apologize for the douche bag remark. You're not douche bags, just big fucking aliens. God Almighty I'd hate to have to fight these two bruisers. Ya know what I mean, Linus? Know what I mean? There're what like fifty, sixty pounds heavier than us and eight inches taller?" Julio's rambling words pissed off Linus. He pulled Julio off his body and wagged a finger at him.

"I have to fight them to get you out, Julio. That's the deal."

"Just for beating up that fool, the Prothonotary. Shit, fuck, screw!"

"The Prothonotary Pladoyer for your life. And don't insult these fighters anymore, consider that they lose Stellung when I fight and beat them. That's der Preis of letting you walk out with me." Between anger and nerves, Linus' English suffered.

"Fight these two? Shitty luck buddy, better you than me. You're almost a midget compared to these pussies, Dude. They're going to fuck up your pretty face, don't ya think? Not that I doubt your ability but I could always beat the shit out of you on a good day. These two dodo's are like gorillas on horse steroids." Julio stopped talking.

"I think you've said enough," Linus protested.

"Never dude, that's why my will has a clause for a microphone in the casket. Did you know that son of a bitch warden offered me a death match to get out? I swear he's in cahoots with that doctor and they both want my body. I don't know if I could have beaten one of those monster turds out in the exercise yard, let alone kill the bastard. They look tough. Personally, I don't think the dickless wonders can fight worth a shit but I wouldn't want to find out the hard way."

Linus put his face in one hand and shook his head in disbelief.

"You're a strange man, Linus. We must prepare for the match," YakMat interrupted.

"Well don't let me stop you. I'll do anything. Can I be your second? I'll pay you back when we get to Earth. My Daddy's got deep rich pockets. I'm never leaving Earth again. No more of this asinine extraterrestrial exploration shit for me. Fuck this world and the horse they rode in on. I hate these filthy aliens, present company excluded. Let's get on with it. My life is in your hands, buddy."

"Will you shut the fuck up for just one minute asshole?" Linus yelled. Julio stepped back from Linus.

"Well, if you insist. Be that way. Of course I'll shut up," Julio answered.

Yakmat turned to the two Capellans. "Yokla P'Koil and Jarak P'Koil, do you acknowledge a debt of honor to Linus Dieterwald of Earth and do you pledge yourself to his service?"

"We pledge our bodies, minds and souls to the man who can best us." They answered in unison. Yakmat turned to Julio who puffed his chest out, flexed his muscles and posed.

"Juan-Diego Julio Marcato Hernandez, do you acknowledge a debt of honor to Linus Dieterwald for saving your life?" YakMat asked.

"Oh yeah, sure, anything to get out of this hell hole." Julio answered.

"Then eat this." YakMat held his hand out. On it rested a black, rubbery pill about the size of a Vienna sausage. Julio sniffed it without touching it and frowned. Linus growled at Julio.

"You sure this is the only way? Eat a pellet he had stuck up his ass?"

"It wasn't stuck up his ass. Damn you Julio! Quit acting like a jackass. Your drinking buddies launched off-world at the first sign of trouble. Your family refused to pay the fines. Your diplomatic friends washed their hands of you. I'm the last human on this planet who gives a fuck about your whiny, self-absorbed, pathetic ass. So shut your stupid pie-hole and eat the fucking thing." Linus yelled. He grabbed the black object, shoved it into Julio's mouth and held his jaw shut.

"Forgive me," Julio mumbled his last words. He swallowed. A few seconds later, Julio tried to retch. His eyes bulged as his limbs twisted and his body crumpled to the ground. Julio moaned as his skin darkened and his body shrank into a black, featureless mass. Yokla and Jarak grabbed the mass. They shaped it high around Linus' waist, down between his buttocks and up between his legs. They pushed his penis upwards tight against his stomach and formed Julio into a cushiony pouch around his testicles. The warm rubbery material shrank up tight against Linus' body.

"Is he alive?"

"Very much so and he's nearly indestructible." Yokla and Jarak lifted Linus off the ground and spread his legs. YakMat land a kick on Linus' crotch that lifted his body a couple inches into the air. Julio absorbed the force of the blow.

"Amazing, Julio's my new jockstrap. Does he feel anything?" Linus snickered.

"Only pleasure. You can keep him incommunicado, in this form, until the diplomatic crisis dies down. Then Yokla and Jarak will show you how to restore him." YakMat answered. Linus pulled his wrestling unitard over his body. He felt better about fighting men so much larger and more powerful.

Crowd noise drew their attention. Rhythmic pounding and guttural yells filtered into the shower room.

"Hear the inmates? We still have the prison exhibition matches."

"Anticipation. This is my first lesson for you fighters: never be afraid of an audience. Act like you can beat them into submission and they'll respect and fear you. When you fight, choose your blows well. Don't pretend and pull a deathblow. They'll know and they'll hate you for it. Understand? Start now. Act like you can beat the world. Act like you could smack down every inmate in this joint. Swagger, strut, become the meanest motherfucker on the planet." Linus pulled himself up as tall as he could and went to the doorway. Yokla and Jarak followed second, the rest of the fighters with YakMat third. Two guards in full battle regalia escorted them to open chairs to watch the preliminary fight.

The warden and contestants climbed into the ring for the preliminary match. Guards stood at each side and corner with electric truncheons sparking at the ready. Linus felt the adrenalin surge in his body as the microphone slithered from the ceiling. The warden's urbane voice and slick manner appeased the alien catcalls into silence. Linus blocked out the Warden's introduction. He didn't care who fought. He only wanted to observe their technique.

The taller, oily-green Capellan faced his opponent, a stocky, metallic blue Capellan. They snarled at each other like rampant lions, circled, weaved. Tested each other. The Blue struck the first blow, jabbing his fingers between ribs of the Green. The Green twisted, caught the Blue's arm. Threw him to the ground. The Blue's leg whipped out and knocked the Green onto his back. Then he leapt up and stomped the Green's left armpit and ribs five, six times. Bruises turned the dark-green skin to black. The Green rolled to the ropes where the guards zapped him, forcing him onto shaky feet. They circled and charged at each other like crazed rams -- heads crashing, hands gripping, legs bracing for advantage. The Blue found advantage, twisted the Green's left arm, punched his ribs. Already bruised ribs shattered. Green broke away, swung a heel high into the Blue's jaw. Teeth flew. Dazed, they battered each other with hard-knuckles, with biting, with gouging -- a brawl without style, without finesse. Only one honor was left.

Linus looked for the referee, found none. This isn't fighting. This is a sanctioned death match, he thought as the Blue punched the Green's head into a formless mass.

Linus stopped watching the match and turned his attention to Yokla and Jarak seated nearby. Their breathing and gestures betrayed them. They delighted in every splatter of red, every bit of flesh ripped from the Green's body. Linus knew the feelings, the feel of blood engorging his manhood, the tightening of his testicles, the rapid heartbeat. They too, would fight like the two animals they watched pummeling and mauling each other to the death. They too, would play to the crowd. Linus formulated his plans. Their defeat would be swift and decisive.

They didn't even realize that their match had already begun. Linus leaned over to Yokla and Jarak. "We can't dog it. Not with this crowd. The crowd wants blood and action. So what I want you two to do, is to fight as hard as you can. I'll counter your moves and make it look like you're winning. Once I get tired, I'll signal and you can open your weak side. Your defeat will be fast, painful and I hate to say, bloody."

"The inmates will love that," said Jarak.

"Is this the way you fight on Earth?" Yokla asked. Linus hid his surprise. The kid had half-a-brain.

"Of course, we typically agree on a scenario for an exhibition match. That way, we don't stand up there looking stupid in front of the crowd." Linus lied.

Jarak elbowed Yokla to shut him up. "We prefer choreographed matches."

"I proffer. They believe." Linus thought. He described the first match as exchanging body blows with fists and feet. Yokla's knockout punch would come in a flurry of blows to his head and shoulders sending him spinning to the floor. Linus described the second match, a slugfest, to Jarak. They would trade several punches and posture to the inmates between hitting chins, shoulders, guts. After which, Jarak would land a foot into Linus' crotch where, thanks to Julio the Jockstrap, he was damn near indestructible. Then Linus would deliver a right-left combination and knock him out. The warden signaled for them to make ready. Yokla and Jarak joined their inmate seconds and acted their parts -- too much ego, too much muscle and too few brains made even uglier by prison. The inmates love the act.

Once again, the microphone slithered from the ceiling and the Warden's voice lubricated the silence. Linus stepped up to enter the ring as YakMat whispered. "My sons, dishonorable as it would be, may not..." Linus raised a hand to YakMat's lips.

"I'm counting on it..." Linus said, stepping into the ring and focused his attention on Yokla.

They grappled, arm on arm -- a test of strength. Linus caught Yokla's three-eyed glance, felt his weight shift. Linus let his smaller body bend with the movement and slid sideways out of Yokla's grip. Yokla stood alone. Two quick right jabs from Linus hit his face. Angered, Yokla grabbed Linus' unitard and yanked. Linus laughed aloud and twirled. The unitard ripped away and left Yokla holding fabric. Still spinning, Linus swung his heel up and caught Yokla's jaw. Bone shattered. Teeth and blood flew. Yokla staggered and fell to one knee, red blood running down his chest and abdomen. Wearing only the black, rubbery jockstrap that was once Julio his wrestling buddy, Linus waited. Yokla stood with a scream and brought a fist around. Linus took the hit and landed a left jab and right uppercut to Yokla's head. Yokla dropped to the mat unconscious. Blood pooled under his face.

Murmurs rippled through the alien convicts. The victor, a puny human, smaller than any Capellan but wearing his buddy in the Capellan fashion, stood over Yokla's limp form and raised his arm. No one moved. Linus turned to Jarak who stood in Yokla's corner.

"You," Linus bellowed. "It's your turn. You won't last any longer than your brother."

Jarak tripped under the ropes and slid on his brother's blood. Linus kicked his chest hard enough to hear ribs crack. He stepped back. Jarak howled and charged -- head down, eyes closed. Linus ran sideways and let Jarak ram the guard standing on the side of the rink. The guard nearest Linus took advantage and speared his thigh with a baton. Electric pain shot through his leg. Jarak charged again. Linus grabbed Jarak's head and vaulted up over his broad back. On the way down he wrapped his arms around Jarak's legs and his ankles around JArak's head. His momentum dragged Jarak's body backwards. Jarak landed on top of Linus but couldn't take advantage of his position. Linus twisted his arms and legs into a small bundle. As Jarak kicked out and scrambled, Linus punched and drew blood. Jarak again charged at Linus and again, Linus grabbed his head. This time, Linus rode it into the mat landing his full weight on the back of Jarak's head. Nose broke, teeth broke, bones broke, blood splattered. Jarak lay unconscious just like his brother. Blood pooled under his face.

Linus stepped atop the body. Sweat and blood stained his torso. Rather than the smile of victory, his expression remained hard, ruthless -- a challenge daring anyone to fight him and lose.

"According to your custom, these men are my slaves. Anyone have a problem with that, step into the ring," Linus yelled. It was a statement of pure arrogance for a human to make on an alien planet. But, no one moved. No one spoke. Linus gestured. Yakmat and his fighters ammoniated Yokla and Jarak to semi-consciousness and staunched the bleeding. Linus pointed to the exit. He vaulted the ropes over the heads of two guards, and spiked his landing on the floor outside the ring. The guards rolled away and leveled their weapons at Linus.

"Lee... nus" came a voice from the inmates. A second voice joined it from across the ring. "Lee... Nus." The Warden squirmed. The Captain of the Guard turned his back to the Warden. "Linus, Linus, Linus," he chanted. The iron bars sealing them in, opened. Linus walked through, defiant. Yakmat, his fighters and the two defeated Capellans scrambled to keep up with him. Linus never broke stride through the prison, out the main gates, past the energy weapons on the towers of the prison, past the scorched gravel and thebarbed wire of the perimeter, until he reached their transport.

"Take us to the Earth hospital for treatment," Linus barked. YakMat hesitated.

"They lied to you, YakMat. I wasn't supposed to win. We weren't supposed to leave. That was a deathtrap. Take me to the Earth Diplomatic Hospital," Linus ordered, getting into the transport. He spat blood into a cup and leaned back against the seat.

"But the Guild hospital is closer," YakMat said.

4 -- The Hospital

"How long was I out, Doc?" Linus asked. The nurse felt Linus' pulse. Her hands lingered too long on his arm.

"Two days."

"I wasn't hurt that bad, as I recall."

"You caused quite a bit of excitement here, you know. Showing up all busted up with two Capellans in tow and an entourage of fighters. The military wanted to take custody of you. They uncloaked a warship with complete medical facilities within minutes of your arrival. "

"Just for little old me?" Linus laughed. The nurse gave him moony eyes filled with puppy love.

"Oh sir, your video is all over the networks. The government tried to ban it but they couldn't. It's the talk of all the nurses and the way you fought them almost naked. Oh Sir, your body is so dreamy. We established a lottery to be your nurse. I was lucky to get you today." She leaned over the bed and flashed her tits at Linus.

"Get me some food Nurse, and I'll let you watch me shower naked." Linus reached out and patted the nurse's backside. She giggled and blushed. Her butt cheeks wiggled unconstrained as she hurried from the room. Doctor Everett Harris closed the door for privacy.

"Is that true? I'm on the networks?" Linus asked when they were alone.

"Somebody paid huge money to make sure half the universe saw you defeat those two Capellans. You could have been a little gentler. Those guys might not have been handsome by Earth standards, but after your beating they're lucky they have faces. Just the eyeball reconstructions gave my interns fits."

"Your interns enjoy working on aliens. I'm sure they did a good job. Tell them thanks for fixing up my property." Linus sat up and stretched.

"Property? Then it's true. They're..."

"Slaves, body and soul; Capella sanctions slavery and I'm a slave-owner. I'm going to use them to start a fight club on Capella. You should join, Everett. You're getting soft. You need the exercise." Linus stretched, his ribs ached but his hunger overrode the discomfort.

"The diplomats are going crazy over the idea."

"Ambassador Wilton Burdine can handle it," Linus said. I wonder if Harris knows or is just fishing for information. Linus thought.

A soft knock and the door opened. The nurse carried a tray of food. Linus sat up, letting his bare legs off the bed. The nurse was plump and appealing. Linus drank a large cup of coffee and smacked his lips. He winked at the nurse. "My dear, I need someone to wash my back. Why don't you bring an extra set of scrubs with you next time?" he said. She giggled and left to get more coffee.

"Well, your slaves are waiting for you across the hall. They eat next to nothing and they won't leave their room. Should I worry about post traumatic stress disorders?" Linus slid a sunny-side up egg onto a piece of toast and swallowed the toast and egg in one gulp.

"No, not PTSD, more like buyer's remorse. They thought they could beat me. Did they tell you that they're brothers and their names are Yokla and Jarak?"

"No, YakMat told us their names and then left for parts unknown."

"I'll collect them after my shower," Linus mumbled through a mouthful of hashed browns. The nurse returned with the second coffee and several pairs of scrubs. "Good, fresh scrubs. I'd hate to walk around the hospital naked. You want to join us in the shower, Doc," Linus said. He winked at the nurse.

"No," Doc Harris let his hands slip to his side and rolled his eyes upward. "There's condoms in the drug lockup. Do we understand each other?" he asked the nurse. She left the room.

"Lovely and buxom young nurse. So eager to serve the sick and ill."

"You wear condoms until we figure out what that black thing is," Harris said.

"It's a Capellan jockstrap. It keeps my family jewels from being cracked." Linus stood up and took off his hospital gown. He ran his fingers under the waistband of the jockstrap. He pulled it away from his waist and let Harris examine his genitals.

"Jerk it and I'll give you a DNA sample."

Doctor Harris raised both hands into the air and shrugged. "You're shameless, only the French consider resistance futile. Do you know that it gives you orgasms when you sleep? The diagnostic machines say it's alive and we've seen it penetrate your orifices. When we tired to cut through the material but we couldn't. When we tried to remove it but couldn't. Whatever it is, it's dense and indestructible. We think that it teleports waste away from your body because, well, because you don't seem to do that anymore. The military wants it."

"I never imagined it could do all that. It's keeps me warm," Linus lied and took a good look at his body in the mirror. The jockstrap matched the dark green Fighter's Guild tattoos that swirled over his body.

"The truth is," Linus stopped and considered what he was about to say. "Well, I don't know what the truth is. It's just native rubber and nothing more." Harris rested a hand on his face and frowned.

"What's that look about?" Linus let Julio snap back against his body.

"I put some street clothes in the closet. The military confiscated almost of your possessions. They left your title belt."

"I'll bet Admiral Twerski has the military police analyzing the DNA on my sweaty jocks."

"And the skid marks on your sheets." They laughed. The nurse returned and Linus dropped his gown. Linus flexed his arms and chest.

"That's your hint to leave Doc." The nursse tugged her clothes off as Linus stepped into the shower. They eagerly soaped each other's bodies paying close attention to all those sensitive areas. The jockstrap would not budge for the nurse, but Linus moved it around easily. The water steamed the room and soon, both Linus and the nurse's body steamed with orgasms. Hungry for human contact, Linus' tongue drove the nurse to her first orgasm. Her body shuddered at his manipulations. He held her halfway on and off of a shower chair as she wrapped her thighs around his head. He lifted her body and let his more than ready manhood slid into her body. Her nipples tickled his as their bodies danced as one. She felt him grow large and fill her body. Their orgasms seemed to last for hours. She must have screamed three or four times. Linus didn't count. When their bodies finally separated, an oversized cock and balls hung between Linus' legs. It wasn't pink, but oily-black like the jockstrap. As the water temperature cooled, the cup reformed over his genitals.

Linus used his tongue to drive the nurse to another orgasm. She fainted from the exertion. Linus carried her to his hospital bed and waited until she fell asleep against his muscles. He found the clothing. In the back pocket was Linus' quantum lockbox. It looked like a poker chip. He slid it under the waistband of Julio, his jockstrap. He kissed the nurse one last time and said good-bye. Then he went across the hall and collected Yokla and Jarak and left the hospital.

5 -- The Guildhouse

In the months after their release from prison, Yokla and Jarak devoted themselves to Linus' dream of an interspecies Fighter's Guild House. As hard as the Capellans worked, they didn't talk. The refurbished an old warehouse in the run down, factory district. Partitioned the first floor into studios with sixteen-foot high ceilings, an office and showers and the second floor they built a weight room, sleeping quarters, and a hot tub one of the spaceships cast off. If Linus couldn't beg old equipment from a spaceship or a freighter, he fought for it.

He designed a training program for Yokla or Jarak that substituted finesse and agility for sheer strength and brute force. He began each exercise routine with a series of precise movements and ended with both Capellans sweating and groaning at the effort. He led them through the exercises four times a day for the first month. He created a second routine of proper punching and kicking techniques and added that to the first routine. As their bodies learned Linus' smooth, graceful movements in the exercises and sparring matches, they began to understand why Linus beat them so easily.

Six months later, Linus had four students in an advanced class with Yokla and Jarak while they tutored a dozen more students in the basics. They sat down to the evening meal of some Capellan animal that resembled beef and a root vegetable that resembled potatoes.

"Good news, the new equipment arrives in a two weeks," Linus said.

"Great, now we won't have to stuff the old punching bags or retape the mats," Yokla said.

"Sure you will. We'll set up the old equipment in the smaller studio for beginner's practice. Keep the new equipment for the more advanced fighters," Linus said.

"We might get more students if we let them use the new equipment. The students from the orphanage feel like their families cast them off and if we won't let them use the good equipment, they might feel cast off again. They need a encouragement."

"They'll get it as they learn our techniques. Use it as a reward. Don't let them use it without learning something good. Talk to those boys. They need to understand the technique and execute it as muscle memory. Takes time to learn that. Take time to teach them. These are the fighters we want to train more fighters. We can't teach everyone on Capella," Linus said.. Both Capellans pushed their food around on their plates. Linus let them. He knew they wanted to use the new equipment. Capellan society consisted of teenage boys. Xeno-psychologists and sociologists argued that the origin of this emotional immaturity was the lack of functioning females or possibly the oddity of non-sexual relationships or the effects of hierarchical Patriarchy. Linus had the practical problem -- maturing these two.

"Doc Harris called." Linus broke the silence with what he knew was bad news. "I told him that we'd submit to physical exams tomorrow morning."

"Not again. Last time, he shined a light up my ass, took pictures and published them in a medical journal," Yokla grumbled.

"You should be proud of your asses. Doc tells me Capellan rectums are unique in the universe," Linus snarked. Both Capellans blushed and hung their heads over their plates. "I'm the real problem. I've bulked up so you guys can't beat the crap out of me and the military thinks I'm using non-human steroids."

"There's no of steroids on Capella. Why don't they accept that? Our biologists explained Capellan physiology to your medical doctors but they refuse to understand."

"Some know. The Military believe what they want to. The politicians are driving this mess. They're using Julio to get his father elected." Linus regretted his words. He never said anything derogatory about humans. He'd let his guard down too far.

"The hospital employees had a video of the cold-hearted bastard telling Julio to peddle his ass to the highest bidder so he could pay the fines and if he had any money left over, he could use it for his cremation." Jarak moved like a caged animal. He cleared his dishes and began to rinse them in the sink. Linus cleared his dish and poured himself a glass of wine. He sat down with his legs around the back of the kitchen chair.

"Hypocrisy knows no bounds. If I thought it would do any good, I'd reanimate Julio and let him speak for himself."

"Never goin'a happen," Jarak mumbled over the water. Linus' head whipped around at the statement. Yokla and Jarak gave each other what Linus called "the shifty eyes."

"What?"

"I belched. He farted," Yokla answered.

"I didn't say nuthin' as you humans say," Jarak answered. Linus folded his arms and studied the two. Their eyes danced a tango of hope that Linus bought the lie. Their feet shuffled.

"What did you say about Julio," Linus asked in slow and measured tones. He waited through the nods, sighs, hand gestures and shoulder shrugging.

"I misspoke." Jarak's eyes darted back and forth.

"He meant you're growing accustomed to Julio." Yokla tried the excuse. Again the lying eyes. Linus reached inside the waistband of his sweatpants and petted Julio. He had grown used to having the rubbery presence of Julio around his genitals.

"YakMat said I was OK to keep Julio until the diplomatic crisis settled down. He said that Julio's might be darker skinned when he returned to human form."

Yokla choked. He laughed with wine dripping from his face. "YakMat told you THAT?"

"It's not funny. We owe him the truth," Jarak snarled at Yokla. He took a moment to regain his composure before he faced Linus. "YakMat, the old bastard, didn't tell you that you would gain all of Julio's strength and power. Your bones would thicken and your muscles would grow. That's why the Military Brass thinks you're using steroids. Look at the muscle mass you've gained."

Linus took off his clothes and studied his body in the wall of mirrors. Jarak and Yokla got naked and stood on either side of Linus to accentuate the similarities.

"So, I'm bigger, big deal. I've put on weight sparring with you."

"You're slowly turning into a Capellan. Our lubricant will help stretch Julio over your body. You'll be the most handsome Capellan when you're transformed," Yokla said.

"We want to speed the process. We want you to become Capellan as sooner than later," Jarak said. He grabbed Linus' shoulders and kissed him. Linus pulled back, but Yokla sandwiched him against Jarak's body. Linus resisted, but sexual desire overwhelmed him. Jarak pulled back and showed Linus how to create his erection from the mere bulge. A thick penis and ample testicles pulled away from Jarak's body and inflamed Linus' sex drive. Yokla imitated the movements on Linus' belly, arousing his genitals. Then he released his own sexual equipment. His body demanded release. After months of abstinence, Linus didn't have willpower to prevent. In his mind, he felt Julio demand sexual satisfaction, demand to be one with him. Linus' heart raced. His blood pounded. His genitals burned from the additional hormones that Julio released into his body.

Julio drove Linus' orgasms forward like a stampede of horses - wild, uncontrollable and unstoppable. Yokla and Jarak probed his body with equal abandon. The trio sucked and fucked well past sunset and into the night. Linus lasted longer and achieved more orgasms than either Yokla or Jarak. His sexual desires never shrank or diminished. The three men fell asleep still having sex with each other.

6 -- The Physical Exam

Heavy knocking on the main door woke Linus the next morning. He tried to sit up but Yokla and Jarak lay on top of his body, their DNA kumquats holding them like good glue. He sniffed his body, smelling sweat and sex. Linus looked at his crotch and once again, Julio protected his genitals in a black bulge. The rubbery material had spread up his torso and down his thighs in swirling patterns of oily black skin. The knocking began again. He groped the Yokla and Jarak awake and extricated himself. He went to the window and looked down to the door. His bare chest glistened with sweat.

"It's young Doctor Kildare! Can't a man sleep late one day?" Linus yelled down, laughing, putting on a carefree face.

"I make one house call and what do I get? Abused and turned away!" Doc Harris yelled back.

"I'd never turn you away. You can come in if you brought coffee."

"I'm not your waitress. Wipe the sleep from your eyes or I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in."

"Not without caffeine. Put those big, bad soldiers to work, Dude. Order them around like you do those cute little nurses you sexually harass in the linen closets. Go get five coffees and bring them back untouched by human lips, dicks or fingers." Linus pulled his body back in the window. He kicked and shoved Yokla and Jarak into the shower and told them not to talk about their sexual adventures of the night before. In the four minutes that it took the soldiers to get the coffee, Linus was at the first floor door -- washed, dried, dressed, perfumed and wholesome.

He gave Harris and the two soldiers a tour of the lower floor and then took them upstairs. Yokla and Jarak were cooking breakfast, pancakes hissing on the grill. They took the coffees motioned for Doc Harris and Linus to sit. The soldiers muscled their way to the table making gruff faces and growling noises at Yokla and Jarak.

"You're looking a little chubby, Doc. You ought to come over, we'll work that weight off you in a hurry."

"Aw Linus, I'm a doctor, not a fighter. Now if you taught gymnastics, I'd join in a minute."

"The Doc likes his pretty face," the Sergeant said.

"Just as much as you love those cute little penises on your shoulder," Yokla said.

"Them things are chevrons Dude. Call them by their proper names," Sergeant Wolfe growled. Linus and Doc Harris laughed.

"You remember Sergeant Wolfe and Private Black. They were your guards at the hospital. They're thinking about joining your fighters guild." Linus shook their hands

"We can set up a couple sparring matches with Yokla and Jarak. You can patch up Sergeant Wolfe and Private Black afterward." Yokla and Jarak made surly noises. They set a dish of pancakes on the table, fresh fruit for the pancakes and a coffee cup of white liquid in front of the Doctor.

"Sometimes I wonder about the allure of a good beating," Doc Harris joked.

"You need to fight to enjoy it. Speaking of wrestling, how's all those nurses at the hospital? Have you probed their love canals lately?" Linus broached the subject without warning.

"You really are rotten. That nurse you 'showered' with did everything but sacrifice a dead chicken hoping she was pregnant. We had to get her counseling after she heard you took up with Capellans." Harris smiled and faked his happy-go-lucky composure. Linus returned to his pancakes while Harris took a mouthful of the Capellan liquid. It tasted pungent and ripe. It tasted of stinky feet. Harris' face turned beet red. Moaning and writhing, he tried desperately not to swallow the mouthful. He started to choke and gag but he couldn't bring himself to spit the liquid out on the table. His face going splotchy red and venous blue, his spine stiffened and his stomach revolted spewing gak down the front of his shirt. Harris gargled as the stuff poisoned him, pulled his shirt from his chest to reveal fade blood-red hives. He opened his medical bag and stabbed both thighs with hypodermics.

"Bastard! I'm allergic to cheese and you know it. This wasn't funny." Harris gasped for air as the swelling in his throat lessened. His body slowly returned to normal. Linus and Jarak laughed and smacked each other's palms in a victory salute.

"God Damn you, that was not funny, Linus."

"See, he can't resist anything that even vaguely resembles food," Linus said. "That was the Capellan equivalent of gorgonzola cheese sauce for tonight's salads. I bought it special. Just for you."

"How do you eat that shit? Stinky cheese is vile, disgusting garbage. It's laced with mold from filthy feet." Harris went to a utility sink. He emptied his pockets on the counter, removed his shirt, stuck his head and chest under the faucet and made the most disgusting puking sounds into the sink. Linus and the brothers laughed while Sergeant Wolfe and Private Black sat stunned.

"You've had worse in your mouth," Linus laughed. Harris swung his soaking head toward Linus. Water ran down his chest and onto his pants. Jarak jumped up and got a towel for Harris to dry off.

"Next time I come here, I'm going to have a food taster to make sure you can't poison me." He kept sticking his fingers in his mouth to dig out the cheese. Harris stuck his head back under the water and disgorged the contents of his stomach. Jarak aimed a sprayer at the mess and washed it down the drain.

"I hate to break up this party while you are puking in my sink, but we have a class starting in less than an hour. Now that you're showing off your well-developed chest and arms, Let's give the students an exhibition. I promise not to break any of your bones. I'll just leave a few bruises," Linus chided. Harris dried off. As he collected his belongings, he slid a computer memory module into the folded towel.

"Sorry, not today. I'm here on my last official assignment." Jarak brought him an oversized t-shirt.

"Last?" Linus asked. Jarak almost cheered but Linus' glare stopped him.

"The Admiral Twerski and his Top Brass pressured the hospital administration to put their own military doctor in charge. I'll still have privileges and I'm 'On Call' until they get a replacement doc. It's only a matter of time before I start my civilian practice. But that's not what I came to tell you. I have to reexamine you and the Capellans who came to the hospital." Doc Harris said. Yokla and Jarak groaned. Harris sought to reassure them. "It's not that bad, in fact, it's good news. The military's computers crashed and they lost all the alien data. All that work we did in healing you after the fight at the jail is lost. Everything bit and byte blew in the crash, including your stuff, Linus. The computer geeks found the perp. A hacker doing opposition research for an oppo research linked to Julio's father. He covered his tracks by erasing the medical records. Isn't that right, Sergeant Wolfe?" Harris said.

"Yes Sir," Sergeant Wolfe said. Linus caught Yokla and Jarak exchanging three-eyed shifty looks in Doc Harris' direction.

"Let Doc Harris do his work," Linus said. He went over to the counter where Doc Harris stood and pulled his t-shirt over his head with one hand and set his t-shirt over the towel and the memory module. He flexed, showing off his muscles and smiling his "I'm cute and adorable" look at Doc Harris. There was no mistaking the come-on.

"Every time we meet you want me naked." Linus winked and dropped his pants to the floor.

"Dream on old man. I no more have the hots for you as for that barbell over there," Harris said. Yokla giggled like naughty boy. Jarak smacked his brother's shoulder. Doc Harris ignored them. He barely touched Linus' body as he dictated numbers and medical data to Sergeant Wolfe.

"Everything about Linus seems normal to me, Sergeant Wolfe. Would you examine Linus' jockstrap to verify it is just a jockstrap," Harris said. Sergeant Wolfe didn't move from the chair.

"I certify that it's a black rubber jockstrap, Sir. I examined under the foreskin of Linus Dieterwald's cock, felt both his testicles in his sack and probed his anus deep enough to find his prostate just as you instructed. He's a normal human wearing a black rubber jockstrap," Sergeant Wolf said. Linus didn't react to the obvious lie. He motioned for Yokla and Jarak to stand. Sergeant wolf poked and prodded the intimate portions of their bodies.

"And would you verify that the Capellans have not changed since we saw them at the hospital after the prison match."

"They lost a few pounds but they look basically the same to my untrained eye." A lawyerly lie, Linus thought.

"I concur." Private Black added. Harris signed his copy of the med report and passed it to the soldiers. They countersigned it. Doc Harris sealed his medical report in the leather bag. Sergeant Wolfe sealed his version in his carry bag. Harris stood with his head down, saying nothing. He turned his back to everyone else and faced Linus.

"We're done," Harris informed them.

"Good," Linus said. I wonder if they'll agree to an exhibition fight at the Guildhouse? Linus thought.

"Why don't you tell Doc Harris and his soldiers about the sparring matches you're arranging for next fortnight. They might be interested in the Guildhouse if you invite them." He turned back to Harris and the two soldiers. "We have students who would be interested in sparring with a human challenger. What they lack in technique and skill, they make up in sheer strength and enthusiasm. You're all muscular enough to handle the Capellans. Why don't you talk it over?" Linus patted both Capellans on the back and moved them towards the stairs.

"Interesting proposal," Sergeant Wolfe said, taking up the suggestion.

"I'm not a fighter." Doc Harris nodded his head in agreement. Linus put his hand over his crotch and nodded his head toward the bathroom as an excuse to get away. He left them and waited until he heard them go down the steps. Alone, he retrieved the hidden memory module and sealed it in his quantum safe. That will keep it safe from prying eyes, he thought. Then, he listened until he heard the doors close before he went downstairs.

Yokla and Jarak waited for Linus in the main hallway. "They agreed to exhibition matches. Do you think if we beat them, they'd be back for lessons," Yokla and Jarak laughed and patted each other on the back.

"They're well trained and they'll give you a run for your money," Linus wagged a finger.

"Doc Harris still insists he won't fight. I think he's afraid of getting hurt," Jarak winked. Closing alternating pairs of his three eyes. Linus felt his stomach go queasy. Jarak looked deranged. No Capellan could close only one eye.

"Stop that. Promise me you won't try to wink again. Doc Harris is just shy."

"You should invite him to sleep with us."

"Yeah. He wants you. His dick gets rock hard and heart races, master."

"This is stupid. Offensive? When never discussed sex like this," Linus bristled.

"Intimacy changed everything." They giggled like naughty little boys masturbating for the first time.

"Intimacy changed everything," Linus' raised his voice to mock them.

"Eventually you'll see the truth. You arouse Harris and we arouse Sergeant Wolfe and Private Black. Those three left with serious hardons. Talk about alien horndogs." They laughed.

"I didn't see any behavior to indicate that." Linus put his hands on his hips.

"It's as plain as the nose dangling off your face." Jarak laughed at his own joke. Linus put his hands on his hips and didn't smile. Jarak continued. "Sergeant Wolfe has a real firehose hiding in his fatigues. I've seen smaller dicks on Capellan horses. Doc Harris is as big and thick as you are Master. Private Black is the shrimp of the gang but he's like a ton of tight, hot muscles. He's always erect. His heart races when he gets close to us. Blood pumps all over his body. They're ripe and ready for plucking, as the porn novels say." His brother landed a reproachful elbow. When the hell did they get Earth porn to read? Linus thought.

"Can we pluck them, master?" Yokla asked.

Doubt played all over Linus' face. What the hell have I done?" he thought. Then he said: "I stood next to Harris and those two soldiers and never saw erections."

Jarak waved his hand in front of Linus' eyes. "Never saw erections? How can you not see human cocks? All that blood makes them visible a mile away." Linus grabbed his Jarak's hand and stopped him.

"You can't see through camouflage uniforms," Linus said. Yokla and Jarak's eyes danced an entire ballet of weirdness as he watched their faces for signs of untruth and falsehood. "What did I just say that caused that reaction? You're lying."

"None of this makes any sense. Camo doesn't hide human anatomy. We're black and you humans are all just like the privileged Capellans. What do call this color? It's not blood red. It's glyptyx," Jarak spoke a word Linus couldn't understand. He went over to the computer and called up Capellan physiology. Then brought up Human physiology and compared their responses to the the visible light spectrum. Jarak pointed to the spectrums below red and above blue. The Capellan eye saw more than the human eye.

"What do you call these colors?"

"Puce, mauve, taupe and magnolia," Yokla smirked. Jarak slapped the back of his Yokla's head.

"Behave! We have to understand this. Humans glow red as their muscles move. You do it when you fight and your sexual organs go red when you're aroused. We can see blood flow into your muscles. Earthmen are hot dudes. Capellans are cold and black," Jarak answered. Linus kept reading and tried to absorb the knowledge they were exposing.

"We can even see through Julio when you masturbate in your sleep thanks to hydraulic nature of your human cocks and the amount of red-hot blood flowing through it," Yokla added. Linus stared at the spectrums. How could the damn doctors miss something like this? Linus thought.

"Don't you use this to your advantage? You should beat the crap out of me in any fight. No way I'm winning a fight when you have an advantage like this," Linus asked, shaking his head in disbelief. If I train these Capellans properly, they'll be unbeatable. Linus thought.

"We don't have the advantage because we don't have any technique. YakMat never taught us technique," Jarak and Yokla stood crushed by the knowledge of just how bad a fighter they were.

Some students knocked on the door, interrupting them. They wanted to get ready for the day's lessons. Linus looked at the door and put a hand up for Jarak and Yokla to remain still. "Two things... First, was Doc Harris lying when he said he's resigning from the military?"

Both Capellans spoke together. "Big time."

"Second, don't talk about our having sex last night or your eyesight with the students. Use the current drills without comment until we adjust the training. Let's keep that advantage between us, right now," Linus ordered. Yokla and Jarak's eyes went all shifty but they agreed to remain silent. They opened the doors for the students to begin warmups.

7 -- The Embassy

"You got brass balls picking a fight with the guards today. Half of the staff is probably reporting the incident to Earth." Ambassador Wilton Burdine held a finger to his lips to prevent Linus from talking. Linus looked around the room, grinning and mugging for the surveillance systems. He juggled a medallion from the Ambassador's credenza.

"You know, your soldiers are rough, tough guys. But, if I threaten their testicles, they run screaming like schoolgirls with their anuses a-quiver and jockstraps dripping piss. They're like whimpering, emasculated, sycophantic footstools."

The ambassador grabbed the medallion from Linus' hands, set it in its cradle and yelled. "Quit fucking with my soldiers and stop being such an ass! Hassle the embassy guards one more time, and I'll shut you and your guildhouse and deport your arrogant ass to the nearest orbiting shit hole for the rest of your stupid days. Got that?" Linus looked everywhere else but the Ambassador's face. Has he lost it? Or are we under surveillance? Linus thought.

The Ambassador grabbed Linus' shoulders and pulled his face close. "Understand?" His words shook the walls of the office. Linus' blank, mouth open stare and blank face greeted the ambassador's anger.

"Yes," Linus answered. Disgusted, the Ambassador pushed Linus into an overstuffed chair and stepped behind his desk. Linus waited for the Ambassador to seal his office electronically.

"Good act today," Linus said.

"Act my ass. Last month I had to deport a dozen diplomats who wanted to lynch you, for real asshole. They believed you castrated two human fighters and displayed their genitals as trophies. Do you think good diplomatic material grows on trees? You couldn't wait? You couldn't shut up for even a few minutes? I'll have to answer weeks of inquiries about your stupid ass shenanigans... inquiries from political enemies. "

Linus squirmed. "Tell them go pound salt. Tell them, I find adding an icing of fear to their pound-cake of hate gives me an edge." Linus put on his "I'm so cute" face and "I've been bad" demeanor. The ambassador stopped for a moment before he began to laugh so hard he sat down, wiped his face with both hands and then brought his clenched fists down together on his desk.

He didn't just yell; he exploded. "An icing of fear! An icing of fear to a pound cake of salt? Jesus Christ on a crutch! You've lost all common sense and reason. You're a diplomatic goober, an utter fool." Linus cringed. The Ambassador continued. "Do you ever think beyond the moment or does your ego ALWAYS outrun your common sense? Did it ever occur to you that those two guards at the gate might be on our side before you made them look like fools this morning? Do you understand nothing beyond antagonizing people and then beating them half to death? Why did you pick a fight with guards who are our friends?"

Linus slouched under the weight of the ambassador's rage. He sat cowed, nodding his head in agreement.

"It always worked before." Linus said without guile or sarcasm. The ambassador's desk moved as he stood and faced Linus.

"How would you know? You never listened or stayed to find out. Do you understand what we're doing?"

"Yes." What the hell does he want from me? Linus thought.

"No you don't understand. If you did, you would act like a shithead... Answer this: Why do you act up in my office? There's no crowd of fight-crazed yokels here. There's no audience. Did your ego need a boost? Did you drink too much coffee this morning? Did your manhood fail you last night?" Linus grabbed the arms of the chair. No one questioned his manhood. He looked at Ambassador Burdine and calmed his temper. The ambassador stood up and leaned over his desk. "These guards aren't your personal whack-a-moles. These guards aren't here to enhance your pathetic ego. I have too much invested in you, in Capella, in my career to blow this deal. From now on, you'll DO what I tell you or I WILL deport your stupid ass offplanet. That's not a threat. That's a promise." Linus sat open mouthed and dumbstruck.

"No," Linus resisted.

"No? Did you dare to say no? My ass... I don't care what you think anymore. You will do as I say... You will follow my rules... You will not leave that guildhouse or stop teaching those fighters without my permission. That's your ONE and ONLY task on Capella. If you don't like it, I'll replace you. It's your decision." The ambassador sank back into his chair, closed his eyes and took a couple deep breaths. Linus swallowed his pride and stood up. He pulled his sweatshirt over his head and let his sweat pants fall. Julio covered Linus' torso from his collarbone down below his knees and the blackness fell halfway between his elbows and wrists.

"I can't leave the planet. Julio's grown. Except for the third eye, I look Capellan. Julio won't stop growing." The Ambassador gave Linus the once over and then turned to the credenza. He poured a glass of water.

"That was the plan, wasn't it? Big sacrifice you got going there. Your own guildhouse, a growing number of students and a pair of devoted sex partners. From what I hear, you three go at it hot and heavy," the Ambassador said. He sat down at his desk and opened a folder.

He's got spies that I don't know about, thought Linus. "How the hell do you know that?"

"I just know. Your part of the plan is to spread that guildhouse all over Capella. That's all you need to concentrate on right now. I've asked Sergeant Wolfe and Private Black to help and they agreed. They bought a small house and will become Capellan." The Ambassador closed the folder and put it into his desk.

"They found volunteers to be their skins?"

"I don't know." Linus couldn't tell if Burdine was lying. "Go back to the guildhouse and don't show up here again."

"But how will I..." Linus never finished the sentence. The Ambassador cut him off with a wave of his hand and the tone of his voice.

"Train the students. Make them a political force. Beyond that, keep silent."

"What about my new equipment?" Linus asked.

"I'll release it today. You'll have to get the labor to move it from the warehouse." Linus nodded to the ambassador. Rather than leave by the front door, the Ambassador had a guard show Linus out the back door of the embassy.

8 - Moving Day

New Equipment Day meant two days of organized chaos and no classes at the Guildhouse. Linus moved through the arraignments Linus moved through the Capellans with ease. Only his hands and his head remained pink. Julio covered the rest of his body in dark, oil-colored splendor according to the Capellans. The closer he came to complete conversion, the more the Capellan students trusted him.

This evening, Sergeant Wolfe and Private Black, newly retired from their commissions, would become Capellans. Yokla and Jarak selected the four best students to become partners with the men. In a few months, they would establish new Guildhouses in two of Capella's lesser cities.

The surprise of New Equipment Day was that Doc Harris showed up with Jaylen Collingsworth, the Ambassador's aide-de-camp and two Capellan "slave-boys." The young Capellan slaves stood sullen and silent, staying close to Jaylen. Linus pulled Jaylen into his office to discuss the matter of Earthmen owning Capellan slaves.

"The Ambassador agreed? Agreed to what? You dress them like humans and forced them to live like humans."

"Not publicly. We were in a bind. I thought I'd use my initiative when these two tried to claim sanctuary in the Embassy. I bought them to prevent a diplomatic incident but Ambassador Burdine nearly stroked out. Wolfe is renting us an apartment. They do anything I ask."

"They're your slaves, asshole. They have no choice."

"But you own Yokla and Jarak and they don't act like slaves."

"I don't treat them as slaves for one thing and for another, I'm living openly as a half-Capellan mutant. They're already disgraced as outcasts and now an alien offworlder owns them. Shit couldn't sink any lower in their estimation. You didn't save them, you disgraced the rejects of society and you want them to act thrilled." Jaylen's face and neck turned red with shame. Linus regretted the tone. Jaylen didn't need scorn; he needed help. But all of this didn't ring true. Linus gave him the evil eye. Jaylen nearly sobbed but got his emotions under control.

"Burdine and Twerskie ordered me to solve the problem or else. I'm willing to learn to fight."

"Going to take more than fighting if you want those two boys to respect you."

"I thought I was doing doing something good!" Jaylen turned away and grabbed a box of smaller weights and walked away from Linus. He half-turned and yelled. "I thought I was doing them a favor."

"You want me to solve the problem? Stay in my guildhouse tonight. Tell your slaves to make the arrangements with Yokla and Jarak." The rumble of a Capellan freight hauler shook the air and signaled the arrival of the new equipment.

By the time Linus reached the street, the robotic unloaders had crates sitting on the street, the sidewalk and the stoop of the Guildhouse. Sergeant Wolfe and his nephew, Preston, helped the guildhouse students uncrate the equipment and feed the crates into the maw of a Capellan dumpster. Preston moved with the ease of youth. Linus told his two best students, Lorok and Nars to work with Wolfe and Preston. As Preston turned to greet them, Linus saw the metal implant with gold connectors over one ear. Up close, the tiny shutters in Preston's left eye opened and closed.

"We work together, make good team," Preston said. His voice was flat and mechanical. Military technology is rarely used in civilians. How many implants does he have? Thought Linus. He lifted a box containing 400 pounds of weights equipment onto his shoulder and walked into the Guildhouse. Wolfe lifted a box of weights, rolled his eyes at Linus and followed Preston into the Guildhouse. The five men took twenty minutes to load the new weights in to the weight room. These men are well-matched, same wide backs, broad shoulders, v-shaped torsos, thought Linus as they placed one of the large frames into position inside the basement weight room.

"You Capellans are big boys." Preston squeezed Lorok's bicep. Lorok was an inch taller and just as muscular as Preston. Lorok elbowed Preston into Nars.

"You're almost big as us, Earthboy." They laughed and grappled landing on the wrestling mats. Linus and Wolfe stood back.

"I want to get rid of this metal, be part of my Uncle." Preston said. His voice stayed flat and emotionless.

"But you've been augmented. Don't Augments live forever back on Earth?" Jarak asked. Preston peeled the hair on his head to reveal a circular plastic cap embedded into skull. LEDs blinked and changed color as they monitored his brain functions. Linus never saw this extensive a brain reconstruction on a human. Preston was a cyborg.

"Augment keeps me alive not living. Hit a tree on motorcycle. Sort of died. Cyborg implants keep me functioning, sort of. Feel nothing. Learn nothing. Can't live like this. I won't be military zombie. Better to be skin for Uncle Wolfe like Julio skin for Linus." Preston laughed in his electronic voice. Linus shivered. He replaced his hair and grappled with Lorok and Nars again.

Wolfe turned Linus away from the three wrestlers and whispered. "I've heard that most cyborg reconstructions suicide themselves within two years."

"That's what they want you to believe. If it happens, the military doctors strip away the personality and use the brain in a spaceship or as planetary control. Twerskie intervened on my behalf. Eventually Preston's human body will fail and then, they'll turn him into a machine. When I told him about you and Julio after your stay at the hospital, we made plans." Wolfe turned back to find Preston standing at his elbow.

"They did ears. I hear... everything and before I left Earth, they made me fast." The two Capellans sat befuddled on the floor a dozen feet away. Preston pointed at Linus' chest. "When will you let me be a skin? What does Julio feel like. Does Julio like what he is?" Preston felt around the edges of Julio where it met his Linus' flesh. Linus let him explore.

"Julio responds to pleasure. We're inseparable."

"How do I do it?" His directness surprised Linus. Nars and Lorok scrambled to the doors and locked them.

"I was going to wait until later. Eat this." Linus pulled a black, sausage-shaped lozenge from his pocket. Preston pulled his shirt over his head and let his sweat pants drop to the floor. Preston grabbed the catalyst and chewed it.

"Uncle, get naked." Preston said yanked at Wolfe's clothing, undressing him. Wolfe stood naked when Preston's eyes opened very wide. His body folded in the middle and collapsed. He slid to the floor as his features disappeared and turned into an oily-black mass of rubbery flesh. The metal pieces . Lorok and Nars scooped Preston's formless body from the floor and wrapped it around Wolfe. They smoothed Preston, now black rubbery material, into a unitard covering half of Wolfe's body. Breathless and sweating, Wolfe stopped them from spreading Preston below his elbows and over his feet.

"We can stretch Preston to completely cover your body," Nars said.

"Then you'll be one of us," Lorok said.

"So fast?" Wolfe flexed, stretching as Preston tightened around his body.

"Cover his body completely then show him how to use his new equipment. I'll lock the three of you in here in the basement until tomorrow morning. By then, you'll be almost indistinguishable from a Capellan," Linus ordered.

"But?" Preston objected. Nars and Lorok grabbed Wolfe's body and continued spreading the oily black remains of Preston over Wolfe's body.

"You're a Capellan triad, now. These two young and healthy Capellan studs will explain." Nars started to work on Wolfe's wrist and hand.

"What?" Wolfe asked. Lorok stretched Preston over Wolfe's pink feet. They disappeared under blackness.

"What indeed," Lorok said.

"Adult skin acquisition requires a certain lubrication shall we say," Nars was all white teeth grin, almost bouncing on his toes. Lorok ran his hand along Wolfe's crotch. Preston's pent up hormones rushed into Wolfe's body. The two Capellans kissed Wolfe and shoed Linus away as they showed Wolfe how to release their genitals.

"We need some privacy for tonight," Lorok leered, his eyes growing wide up as he became aroused. Linus locked the basement door and went to find Yokla and Jarak. He found them installing equipment in the main practice hall with a group of younger Capellans. The equivalent of Earth teenagers, their black skins glistened in various shades of oily black as they moved. They all stopped and greeted Linus.

"The basement is off-limits. Got that?"

"I'll make sure everyone knows. No one will go there until you say so." Jarak answered. Yokla elbowed him. Their eyes did that shifty thing. Linus gave them a quizzical look. "Yokla and I think that you should go upstairs. We just hauled a half-ton of stuff for Private Black and his friend. They said you were expecting it."

"I wasn't even expecting them, let alone video equipment." Linus looked upward and shook his head. "Make sure the new equipment is installed properly." He said before he went up the stairs. In the smaller of the two unused upstairs rooms Private Black and his friend stood unpacking and assembling what a complete video studio.

"What are you two doing? Who ordered all this equipment?"

Blackie grabbed Linus in one hand and put his other over Linus' shoulder. Too much, Linus thought. Blackie forced a chest bump to emphasize his enthusiasm. Linus stood like a wall.

"Harrison Hawker meet Linus Dieterwald, the hero of the Capellan prison fight and those two are his slave boys that he beat the shit out of. Ain't that right, Mister Dieterwald," Blackie said, striking poses.

"Nice to finally meet you in person. I don't know if Blackie told you, but I was the brain that bribed the guards and installed all those cameras at the prison. Then I net-casted your fight to half-a-hundred worlds," He held out his hand. Harrison Hawker was a small but compact pixy of a man. He had too much muscle for his frame. Linus met one or two of his type at every gym. They always saw themselves as under-muscled and weak so they built excess muscle on muscle.

"Bribed the guards? I seriously doubt that the guards knew anything in English other than four letter words." How did these two know about the fight far enough in advance to smuggle State-of-the-art video cams in there? Linus thought.

"Those guards understood a bribe. We're too hot to go back to earth. Figured we stay here and hide out for a lifetime or two, yanno what I mean?" Harrison winked.

"We told tem two slave boys of your we was here. They must of found you. Them two slaves boys you got have all their bulges all in the right places. Whatcha wanna bet they's hung like stud mules." Blackie leered. Linus bristled.

"Down boy, down boy," Harrison pulled Blackie away from Linus. "I gotta apologize for my lover. Now that he's retired from the military, his self-discipline has gone to the dogs."

"I hardly noticed." Linus clenched his hands open and closed.

"Now I have a business proposition."

"I'm listening."

"I produce and distribute viral videos all over the networks. Any earthman-on-alien fight as long as sweat and blood splatters and the earthman wins, hellfire and damnation, even the the earthman crawls away as long as the alien lies unconscious and bleeding. Your prison fight is white-dwarf-nova-hot. There's a market three galaxies wide begging for man-on-Capellan fights. Even your training sessions have a market." Harrison's offer surprised Linus. He'd forgot about the video of the prison fight. Someone was busy behind the scenes. Linus wondered if it was Ambassador Burdine. "Can you do nude fights with raging erections? Audiences like to see a guy get his junk all messed up and maybe even torn off."

"I don't fight that way. If you want a death match, go make a deal with the Warden. My Capellans and I will have to discuss your offer. Videos create notoriety and I'm not sure we want the attention." Linus pulled his hands behind his back. These two are disgusting but Yokla and Jarak would jump at the chance, thought Linus.

"Fair enuf," Harrison replied. Blackie puffed and snorted like a bull in heat, pumped his arms and danced around. Linus nearly slugged him into stopping but he pulled back and started to talk.

"Did I ever tell you about how Harrison and I got involved in the fighting business?" He rubbed his nose with the back of his arm. "We went to high school together. Harrison was the best-damned quarterback in the history of the high school and I was the lucky boy to land him. When I started boxing in the marines, he started taping and broadcasting the fights on the networks. I won five fights that season and had fans on six planets. But you're my idol. You're the best fighter I know." Blackie flexed one arm and licked his own bicep. Harrison snorted with laughter.

"Down boy! We could do with a little less self-love here." Harrison put his arm around Blackie and stopped him from twitching. "He lost some matches too, that season. That's when I started to rig matches. Some of those fighters were so radiation damaged by outer space they'd have had offspring with two heads and three asses. We did them a favor by ripping their family jewels from their steroid-enhanced bodies."

This was enough. He wanted nothing to do with these two. "And you want me to make a deal with you?" They laughed. Blackie batted his eyes at Linus and smiled.

"Linus, baby, I've been your biggest fan for years. When I heard you were opening a guildhouse on Capella, I got myself transferred here. I nearly jerked my cock raw beatin' off to the prison fights while I was guarding you at the hospital. Harrison had to step in there to keep me from doin' real damage to my equipment."

Step away from the crazy men. Step away from the crazy men. Linus thought. He folded his arms and stood like a statue. "No one's ever admitted anything like that to me before. I never thought you could wear that out," Linus said. Blackie and Harrison poked and elbowed each other, giggling like silly schoolgirls. Linus grew angrier.

"Ach du lieber, snitchzie. I think rubbing my dick raw was too outré?" Blackie asked his buddy as if Linus wasn't there.

"Ya, Mein dickless Swartzie." Harrison pretended to twist the ends of his non-existent moustache. "I saw panic in our host's eyes. He thinks we is nuts."

"I'm sorry Sensei," Blackie said.

"I'm not your sensei and if you want to be a member at my Guildhouse, you will never use that terminology. NOW, WHAT are you two doing HERE?" Linus' voice made heads turn.

"Finally, the oompa-loompa has reached his limit!" Blackie juked back just to be sure that Linus didn't unleash a right jab to his teeth. Then he continued. "You are really amazing. Most men wouldn't take that much shit and not try to kill me. Not that I can't fight, but I'd lose to you. We should apologize for the act."

Linus eyed them both. Whatever act they were up to, he needed to read the encoded messages first.

"Ambassador Burdine said that the Guildhouse would branch out and become a presence on Capella. He wanted a video presence on the galactic network. Since I was marked for death back on earth, we volunteered to live on Capella," Blackie said without bravado, without playacting.

"The Ambassador gets what he wants and you gets what HE says you need." Harrison slipped a medallion into Linus' hands. It contained a computer disc.

Blackie waved his hands over the equipment. "State of the art 3D vidcams and editing board."

"I'll check it out." Linus slid the disc into his pocket. "You can set up but don't tell anyone what it's for other than internal training. I need to talk to the Capellans about this. Lie low."

"We promise not to shoot pies out of our asses," Blackie said.

Oh great creator, do I have my work cut out for me. Linus thought as he went to find Yokla and Jarak.

9 - Transfigured Night

Moving the various pieces of equipment took the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. Linus arranged for food and beverages. Yokla, Jarak and two younger Capellans sat with Jaylen, his two slaves and Blackie at the far side of the second floor. Linus sat with Doc Harris, Jayden Collingsworth, sat drinking at a small table at the other end of the building. Harrison sat at his video console.

"You booked passage on Orion's Spear for its return trip to Earth?" Linus said.

"The situation on Earth has changed. The explorationists and xenophiles are winning too much influence." Doc Harris took a mouthful of the flat bread Capellan dish that looked like pizza and tasted like citrus fruit.

"I thought you wanted to be the authority on Capellan physiology? The Guildhouse is the perfect place to study Capellans."

"Not really. They'll never tell me the secret of that skin they all wear. In only a matter of time before the politics back on earth permit crossbreeding to get their way."

"So this political desire trumps our friendship? Linus pushed. He wanted to understand Harris' change.

"This has nothing to do with our friendship or your far-fetched plot to take over the Capellan government with fighters." His admission surprised Linus.

"How can fighters take over a government? That's a foolish thing to say." Linus landed a gentle punch on Harris' arm. "But seriously, you've never been anti-alien."

"I'm not anti-alien. Cross-breeding doesn't spread Human hegemony. I'm against cross-breeding and cultural dilution. Present company excluded." Harris moved his glass of beer from one hand to the other.

"It's even more subtle than that. You see, old man Hernandez lost the election to one of those young, wholesome Marine boys. It will take a few years, but I can beat a gung ho marine at his own game. So I'll join his opposition. The military expansionists have to be brought down. My family founded that town. I'll just say that the marine is a carpetbagger from the ass-side of the moon and the town will vote for its own. All politics is local, they say. Earth might be the seat of power, someday. But hegemony won't happen if mankind spreads its precious genetic material all over the universe."

"You sound like Julio's father. Do you think it's wise to follow his political shortcomings?" Linus asked. He picked up a couple bottles of earth beer.

"Someone has to speak up against the wanton expansionism."

"Why not lie low and wait it out? The pendulum has to change."

"They're planning to use that skin on a small army. They think it will make human soldiers indestructible. When they do, they'll blast a civilization into rubble with a few mass-drivers and send the converted men as shock troops. I must stop that," Harris said. Linus stopped moving equipment. The Military was locked out Capella by order of Ambassador Burdine.

"I've heard of no plans to establish an empire." Linus put the words as obscurely as he dared. Harris had to be way out of the loop not to know what Burdine was planning.

"I've seen too much evil, known too much duplicity. I have to strike a blow for the old ways. I will not be a party to the mass sacrifice of fine, young men if the Top Brass successfully uses Julio-like outer skin. It's unethical. I won't be responsible for an atrocity that would make the First Genetic War seem like Sunday in the park sucking dick."

"Oh that's just too facile, lover boy. Too easy an argument. All supposition and guesswork."

"No it's not. You and I both know what the whores in the military and a few mean-spirited bastards can do. I'm determined to counter their influence." Doc Harris finished his beer. Linus got up and put bottles and glasses on a tray. He snapped and pointed to the tray. Yokla nodded.

"Well, as your friend, I advise you shut up and stay here on Capella."

"I appreciate your concern but I've got to go home and redeem myself..." He drank and raised his bottle to Linus. "Redeem the human race. Humans becoming aliens. It's all so sad. You're sad, Linus. Not human. Not Capellan. I'm guessing you're fucking your two Capellan slave boys every night? Do they swoon like those nurses you screwed at the hospital? When will one of them get pregnant and have hybrids?" Harris mocked Linus. Linus' jaw clenched and his hands formed fists.

"You're out of line Doc." Linus stood and motioned for Yokla to come and get the tray. The Capellan hadn't moved.

"I will not be the Abraham who forsakes the goat and kills on command. I have no God of War to pay obeisance, no High Command that speaks with all-knowing authority."

"No one wants to sacrifice young men to war."

"And what are you? The sirocco that spreads the hot sands before it? The lion? The king of the beasts? Master of the jungle?" Harris asked. Linus rattled the bottles. Yokla and Jarak both looked over at the sound. Linus knew they didn't drink earth beer.

"You're out of your mind," Linus said as he lifted the tray and nodded towards the Capellans. A group made its way over to Linus. Only the two Capellanstudents remained behind.

"No, I am the voice of one crying the wilderness announcing the new age, the age of reason over brute force. I herald the millennia of words that speak with the force of actions. Tomorrow, I begin. I've discovered the purpose of the third eye. I'll start by reporting that. The military will go wild at the thought. You'll be exposed and Earth will be shocked into withdrawing."

"We shouldn't talke this way in front of anyone. Have a beer, relax. Have you expressed these views to Jaylen?" Linus watched as Jaylen and his two slaves came over. Doc Harris smiled and laughed.

"I suppose you're going to tell me this is one of Burdine's schemes to conquer the world, to spread hegemony without bombs and guns. Burdine's a dreamer and I won't have it." Doc Harris leaned back in the chair and looked up at the ceiling with both hands holding the back of his head. Linus didn't wait for a second chance. He entwined both arms around Harris' head and shoulders and stretched his body backwards. Yokla and Jarak grabbed his legs. Harris couldn't move. Jaylen forced what looked like a piece of licorice into Harris' mouth and forced him to swallow. Linus let Harris drop to the floor. Jaylen and his slaves yanked Harris' clothing from his body. They let Harris stand naked, gasping for air, clutching at his throat and chest. In seconds, then he doubled over just like Julio and Preston before him.

"Payback between friends?" Jaylen removed his shirt and pants.

"No, you're too dangerous. Goodbye old friend." Linus watched as Harris' body shrank into a black mass. Jaylen's Capellans began to mold what was left of Doc Harris around Jaylen's body.

"Will he be different than Julio since we forced him?" Jaylen asked. His slaves answered that it didn't matter. They stretched and kneaded Harris around Jaylen's body.

"Leave his head exposed but cover the rest of his body. He has to report back to Ambassador Burdine and he can't very well report back completely covered. Take him into the other room and show your master what to do with his slaves." Linus yelled to Yokla and Jarak to prepare a room for them to spend the night. Yokla took Jaylen and his slaves to a storage room where they kept old wrestling mats. Jarak brought a case of water bottles and some food. The Capellans chattered in Capellan before Yokla and Jarak locked them in.

"We need to talk to our other guests. We need to ensure that they never speak of this." Blackie and Harrison came out of their video room. Blackie was bare to the waist and shoeless. He looked like a fireplug of muscle. His body bore telltale red-sucker marks.

"We already prepared the students. What about the earthmen?" Jarak asked.

"If they want to make fight videos. They'll be silent. Isn't that right gentlemen?" Linus spoke so Blackie and Harrison heard him.

"Oh hell, Linus. I have it all on tape."

"You recorded that?"

"The Capellan transformation. No one's seen that, ever. Do you know how rich we'd be if we released it?" The statements disturbed Yokla and Jarak. Blackie motioned for them Yokla and Jarak to be still. The Capellans stared at Blackie and Harrison for a moment before they spoke.

"We're not releasing that tape, ever. You guys don't have to buy our silence. Harry and I talked about how we could justify staying on Capella," Blackie said.

"It's one thing to bootleg a single video out of your prison fight. It's quite another to create and promote a fighting program on video and make it successful on a dozen worlds." Harrison unbuttoned his shirt and took it off. His thin, pixyish body gleamed with sweat. "I got the business plan that could make you guys great but I can't do it as a human. No one could. We'd be denounced as hateful, deceitful, exploitative, shameless and out-and-out bastards?" Harrison waited for a response.

"Videos of our fights?" Yokla said.

"Posted by humans?" Jarak said.

"I couldn't permit that." Linus said.

"We figured that. For the record," Blackie said.

"So we're in the market to adopt some Capellan lovers. Just like you, Linus, just like you. We've been eyeing Capellans all day." Harrison stepped out of his shoes.

"Lovers?" Linus stood stunned. He never expected Blackie and Harrison to propose this situation.

"That night at the hospital. YakMat complained he lost lovers, plural, not slaves. All that bullshit YakMat fed you in his Fight Club was to trap you into fighting with Yokla and Jarak. You know he wanted you to lose and remain in that prison, don't you? When you showed up at the Earth hospital that night thinking you owned slaves, Wolfe and I bummed-rushed YakMat away from any hospital staff and then Burdine had his Capellan buddies banish him to the other side of the planet .YakMat was going to breed you in prison and force you to train a Capellan army. We just rearranged YakMat's plans." Blackie and Harrison stood together shaking their heads in an effort to prove the veracity of their statements. Yokla and Jarak's shoulders slumped when Linus looked to them for a denial. If they could have hidden under furniture, they would have.

"What the hell? This is one of your jokes," Linus blustered. Blackie and Harrison laughed and exchanged goofy grins.

"You are such a blond, Linus, a real dumb blond. You fight better than anyone in the universe right now but you are stupid, stupid, stupid," Harrison did one of those pretend toothless grins with the retarded eyes to mock Linus.

"Yup and I won the bet. I told Harry that you still didn't know, but he didn't want to believe you weren't in on the complete plan. Burdine never told you all about YakMat and his plan to breed hybrids, did he?" Blackie asked. Linus turned to face Yokla and Jarak. Their eyes shifted left and right like built in lie detectors. He didn't even bother to ask the question.

"Son of a bitch," Linus

"Right before Twerskie and Burdine invited you to fight here, they had all the dictionaries and the Capellan books adjusted to replace 'lover' with 'slave.' They altered the written descriptions of Capellan physiology to include females. Then they forced the government to disseminate the story," Harrison said, dropping the rest of his clothes on the floor.

"How do you force lies on a population?"

"Simple dude, there are less than ten Humans on Capella who aren't military. Diplomat stooges like you are easy to gag. We knew because we set up all the surveillance and video recorded very sleazy participant in this sordid drama. We just act messed up and hinky. No one expects the town idiot to know anything. We're safe when Burdine and Twerski think we're dumb-as-shit fools. But you can't fool everyone, all the time," Blackie said. He stood naked.

"And what do you want from me?" Linus asked.

"Simple things. A bed to sleep in, a pair of Capellans willing to learn videography and one of those cute little licorice sticks you just shoved down the Doc's throat," Harrison said.

"This day is getting out of control." Linus shook his head in disbelief. "What happens if we refuse?"

"The equipment is complete. All Burdine has to do is send in soldiers to man it and he can deport our asses to the nearest military brainwashing facility. We'll become brainless stooges on some a recreation planet or cyborg controllers for some new spaceship." Harrison said.

"Something vile like that." Blackie almost had tears in his eyes. What an actor, thought Linus. He turned to Yokla and Jarak.

"What do you think?"

"If the Vidcams see Infrared, we could use them for training," Yokla answered.

"And these two students are our best. This would be a reward for their hard work and save them from the forced labor pool," Jarak added. Linus put a hand up for all of them to be quiet. He stood silent for several minutes.

"No more until we establish satellite guildhouses. One new guildhouse will be hard, three is going to be nearly impossible," Linus said with a shrug. Yokla went to one of the back offices and reappeared with the change agent in his hands. He held it in front of Blackie and Harrison. They studied the small piece of blackness that could change a human body.

"I've never heard of licorice, what is it?" Yokla asked. Harrison picked up the piece and felt it.

"A candy," Harrison said. Yokla and Jarak positioned the two students and removed Blackie and Harrison's clothing.

"The essence of a plant root from earth."

"Since we're going to be living together, what are you names?" Blackie asked. He took a deep breath and flexed his muscles. The students told them and acted too young for Linus' much more adult sensibilities. They four stood there making silly small talk about each other while Linus, Yokla and Jarak waited for one of the humans to swallow the change agent. Blackie finally looked at Linus and smiled. He grabbed the change agent and popped it in his mouth.

"Treat my partner well, Linus. Don't beat him up too much." Blackie's arms folded inward to hold his chest. The Capellan students grabbed his body and folded him over on himself several times. They pushed him against Harrison and started to spread. It wasn't neat or orderly or thought out. The students just spread the blackness over Harrison's body as fast as they could. Harrison helped as much as he could. He obviously enjoyed their handling his body. Even before they completely covered Harrison, they released their genitals. Yokla and Jarak hustled them into the nearest room where they could carryon in private.

Yokla turned to his brother as they closed the door. "We're going to have to teach those boys a little restraint."

"They're kids. They're nothing but hormones. We're old compared to them."

"You two owe me some explanations, don't you?" Linus asked.

Jarak smiled at Linus and put his arm around Linus' shoulder. "You think so?"

"Are you my slaves or did we get married?" Linus asked. Yokla came and stood against Linus' back. His body felt warm and comforting after a long day. Linus knew the type of foreplay the two engaged in and he pushed back against their bodies.

"Yes and yes. We explain it all tomorrow morning. I'm sure the three new Capellans will want to know the answer too." Jarak pulled Linus' lips to his and pressed their bodies together. Yokla's hands quickly found their genitals and Linus knew that nothing much other than sex would be accomplished until the morning.

10 - Epilogue

That night, four rooms in the guildhouse rocked with sex. In the morning, four humans woke with dark, pleochroic skin resembling the color of heavy oils covering their bodies. The group planned and eventually built three more guildhouses based on Linus' fighting techniques. Admiral Twerski and Ambassador Burdine discovered that they couldn't leverage fight clubs into world power and were sent home in disgrace. However, ten years later, Linus, Wolfe and Blackie stood as the power behind the new elected president of Capella.

16,000 words more or less


My Anthology

FUTURES YET UNKNOWN
Ten Stories by Dave Fragments
*A hunting expedition on an alien world.
*An Alien serial murderer and a furry detective with fleas.
*Murder on a world with altered humans.
*Disturbing apocalyptic visions *Monstrous dystopian societies.
*A man on trial for betraying the human race to robots.
*Devils, demons and ghosts.
*Survivors of a plague war.
*Cyborgs trying to be human.
*Six friends in a strange sinkhole.
*The truth about a world drowning in rain, without sun, without hope.

Available at:
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DISCLAIMER
Fragments is devoted to adult-themed transformation stories. In most of these stories, men are turned into statues, animals, mythological creatures, and other changes both physical and mental. In almost every story, the transformation involves sex and the situations are adult in nature. If that disturbs you, or you are underage -- please don't read these stories.