The action in this story by "Mortal" begins where Superman 2 ended, with Ursa's Phantom Zone companions dead, and our anti-heroine de-powered and barely alive. However, it's not long before she restores her amazing Kryptionian abilities as well as absorbing her former colleagues' powers.

With no allies to distract her, and a burning desire to to avenge her general and punish an entire planet for daring to resist her, Ursa is more powerful and cruel than ever.

Later in the story, in Book 2, she'll face her old Kryptonian nemesis. In Book 1, however, there's no superhero to challenge her. She told you this was a puny planet!

Watch out, Earth... Ursa's Back!

Index

Prologue
Book 1 Chapter 1
Book 1 Chapter 2
Book 1 Chapter 3
Book 1 Chapter 4
Book 1 Chapter 5
Book 1 Chapter 6
Book 1 Chapter 7
Book 1 Chapter 8
Book 1 Chapter 9
Book 1 Chapter 10
Book 1 Chapter 11

Prologue

Ursa lay buried in snow. She was in total darkness. Shocked, she realised that her eyes could no longer penetrate the black. Worse than that, she actually felt cold. Very cold. It was a constant reminder that she was vulnerable again. Every one of her senses seemed to be complaining. Her chin burned where the Lane woman had punched her. Her back ached where she had landed on the ice-ledge after falling backwards into a crack in the glacier. In horror, she realised that if her resting spot had not been covered in nearly two meters of soft snow, she would now be dead. Dead! Like Zod, her lover, killed by that accursed son of Jor El. Like Non, the brute, killed by his own stupidity. She really was mortal once more.

It was hateful. The son of her most bitter enemy had tricked them. He had lured Zod, Non and her to his base at the planet's North Pole. He had duped their puny Terran ally Luthor into reducing all three of them to mere mortals. Then he had killed her lover, the only man for whom she had ever felt anything other than hatred. Meanwhile, Non, her sole remaining comrade, had fallen to his death and then, unbelievably, Lane, a pathetic mortal woman, had almost managed to kill her. But Ursa wasn't dead. She was mortal, cold, hurt and angry. But not dead.

Every fibre of her being burned with a desire for revenge. She wanted to punish the son of Jor El for the death of Zod. For Non, she felt nothing; he had been little more than a pet, yet another useless male. But Zod... she had almost cared for him. No other being, certainly no other man, had ever, even for an instant, inspired such feelings in her. She could not let his murder remain unavenged. Much more than that though, she craved personal satisfaction from that accursed so-called "Superman" - a Kryptonian male who had caused her to be reduced from a goddess to a mortal.

That thought made Ursa also long to punish the Lane woman for her audacity. She desperately wanted to take the life of that particular Terran for daring to try to kill her. And that made her realise that, above all, she burned to be the absolute ruler of this entire pathetic planet once again. A tingle of excitement ran through her as she imagined herself as sole leader of the Terrans, no longer having to share her dominion with Non or even with Zod. She pushed her discomfort to the back of her mind and pictured herself a goddess whose supreme power meant that every Earth creature and especially the puny males, would have no choice but to submit to her.

Her yearning for the power to punish and to rule was even greater than her pain. Summoning mental strength and adrenaline she had never needed in this solar system before, she set about the task of carving foot and hand holds in the sheer wall of ice above her. Before Kal-El had taken her powers, she could have easily flown the short distance back to the top of the glacier, and been back in his laboratory in seconds. As a mortal it took her two days of difficult climbing, but her determination was too strong to allow her even to rest.

Finally, she hauled herself onto the flat ice plateau where Kal's Kryptonian equipment was located. There was no sign of the son of Jor El, but Ursa was not interested in meeting him yet. After all, she was a mortal now, and he possessed all of the fantastic powers that had once been hers. It was time to eliminate that imbalance. She was certain that it would not be easy; she would have to rely on this "Superman" to make a mistake. Then, she realised that her idiot foe had already committed his fatal error. Assuming his three Kryptonian enemies to be dead, he had neglected to destroy the crystal that had absorbed their powers. She could not help but laugh. The stupid male had actually left it in the control panel of the molecule chamber! It was as if he was as desperate for her to regain her powers as she was... A broad, cold grin spread across Ursa's face. Only this muscle-headed fool stood between her and her destiny. And, she thought, looking at the unguarded molecule chamber, he was clearly little more than just another feeble-minded man.

Despite her aching body and the waves of exhaustion lapping over her, Ursa walked briskly over to the waiting control panel. Having spent her life well into adulthood on Krypton, she was familiar with the extinct planet's science. It took her only a few moments to work out how to activate the molecule chamber. Too overcome now with excitement, Ursa almost ran into the open white tube. The few seconds she waited before the process began felt like an eternity to her. Then, suddenly, the whole universe seemed to become red light and she could sense nothing but a pain greater than any she had ever known.

It felt like it lasted for hours; in actual fact it was less than a minute. Eventually, as dramatically as they had first appeared, the pain and the red light vanished. Ursa opened her eyes. She was immediately struck by how clear her vision now seemed. All her weariness had disappeared and now her mind and her body felt fresh, alert and, to her delight, powerful. The chamber door opened and Ursa stepped out into Kal's laboratory. She knew instantly that she had been successful. Her steps felt light, her senses incredibly alive. Free of the confines of the molecule chamber, and revelling in the new possibilities now opening up for her once again, she subconsciously adopted her favourite pose. She placed her feet parallel to one another, but spread apart, legs straight, hands open and resting on the top of her hips. Her neck and head were dead straight, a cold stare in her eyes and the faintest hint of an evil grin on her closed full, yet cruel, lips.

Ursa studied the rudimentary control panel. She was struck by the sight of the energy crystal that the son of Jor-El had so carelessly left for her. Whereas a few moments ago it was glowing bright with the absorbed power of three Kryptonians it was now as dull as green glass. The wicked smile appeared on her beautiful face once again. Not only had she reabsorbed her original powers, but she seemed to have also consumed Zod's and Non's. She was even more powerful than before. Her smile gave way to her previous icy expression. "Kal-El," she said out loud, her voice defiant as if she were challenging the universe to question her words, "I shall have my vengeance now!" and then, with her smile returning she added, almost as an afterthought, "And as for the other puny creatures on this planet...." The rest of her words were lost as she raised her right arm and took off faster than the speed of sound, smashing straight through fifty feet of solid ice as through it didn't exist, sending huge chunks of debris flying in every direction.

 

 

BOOK 1 "Fourteen Days Unchallenged"

CHAPTER 1

Day One 05:00 hrs GMT

Ursa zoomed into the polar sky, heading south. Had she used her enhanced vision at that very moment, she might have noticed another flying figure on the other side of the thick snow-filled clouds. If she had, she would also have seen that the figure was travelling away from the planet and into deep space and that it was carrying a large metal object. For his part, meanwhile, Kal-El, the Kryptonian known to billions of Terrans as "Superman", failed to spot Ursa in the atmosphere beneath him. Like the woman who shared his planet of birth, he had other things on his mind.

Kal-El felt that he owed the people of Earth. He had promised to be their protector and, in their darkest hour when they found themselves facing three villains with powers like his own, he had been too busy enjoying himself with a woman to help. True, with cunning, he had defeated the trio in the end, but not before they had caused terrible losses. Now, to assuage his feelings of guilt, he had agreed to boost Earth's scientific knowledge by carrying a probe to the Planet Uranus.

Although it was against his code to participate in such a project, Kal urgently wanted to atone for his costly selfishness and the lonely two-week journey seemed an ideal opportunity. The scientists who had constructed the probe had asked him to take along a communications radio, but he had refused, looking forward to the chance of a fortnight's silent reflection. He had agreed only to carry the probe and drop it in to the distant planet's atmosphere. Then, he would return to his adopted home, his guilt significantly eased. But that was fourteen days away.

 

Day One 06:00hrs GMT

Ursa wondered what her first move should be. Her priority was vengeance on the son of Jor-El, but she was unsure how to best seek him out. Then, it occurred to her that she should let the idiot male come to her. If she could let him have the advantages of preparation and initiative and still manage to defeat him, then her victory would be even more satisfying. She would make him seek her out. And what better way to do that, she thought, than by testing out her powers on some pathetic Terrans? The fool was bound to come to the rescue of his beloved Earth creatures, and she could enjoy herself in the meantime.

The delicious idea of using her incredible abilities to defeat, humiliate and destroy mortals made her think of the last time she had done just that. Zod and Non had been at her side then of course. She remembered the general's lust for power and how quickly he had grown bored with the one-sided battles they waged against the hopeless Terrans. She recalled her disappointment that he had not sought out more confrontations with their puny armies; she had found defeating the Earthlings - especially the males - much more enjoyable than lounging around in the ruins of their palaces afterwards.

As she flew over Siberia, Ursa smiled, only partly in response to the thought of destroying mortals. The main reason for her glee was the knowledge that now there was no Zod and no idiot Non. Now, at last, she could do exactly what she wanted. And, if she truly had regained all her Kryptonian powers - and possibly even those of her two dead comrades as well - then only her imagination could set the limits. She could wait no longer. It was time.

Her keen eyes glanced at the ground rushing by beneath her. She was looking for evidence of mortal life. She soon found it amongst the snow; a cube-shaped building surrounded by a cluster of similar, but smaller units. The entire complex was within a perimeter wall, made of the material Earthlings called concrete. The wall was the height of two men and about a quarter as thick. There were a few figures moving about inside the wall, all covered in the ugly, clumsy garments that Terrans depended upon to protect their fragile bodies from cold. "How pathetic," she mused. "Needing all that padding because the temperature is fractionally below the freezing point of water!"

Ursa descended towards the settlement, noticing that its huge walls were covered and topped with messy lengths of metal wire. She knew that the Earth creatures had gone to great lengths to protect the area. She considered briefly the idea of landing next to the large central building, to show how useless mere walls were against her. But then, she noticed a solitary figure walking slowly outside the perimeter, and gracefully steered herself in that direction.

To her delight, the isolated Terran was a male. She lowered her feet to the ground silently about two meters behind him, her hands coming to rest on her hips. She spoke in a commanding voice loud enough to be heard above the howl of the bitter wind. "You. Turn around!" Her Russian was perfect and her ability to address any Earth creature in his or her native tongue without ever having heard that creature speak was still amazing even for her.

In a state of shock, the young soldier spun on his heels as best he could in the deep snow, instinctively cocking and raising his rifle. As he looked down the barrel, he was stunned to see a woman in nothing but a revealing loose shiny black outfit and knee-length boots. Wasn't she cold? She was certainly beautiful. What was she doing out here? Then, he remembered the news footage he had seen over the past few weeks. She was one of the three alien invaders! He recognised her cold stare. But wasn't she dead? He began to panic - did she still possess her fantastic abilities?

Before he could formulate a question, she snapped at him again. "I am not interested in your toy, male. Tell me the purpose of this settlement." By "toy" he could only guess that she meant his rifle. He recalled seeing this woman, if indeed it was her, on the TV news, looking disinterested and utterly unaffected whilst a small army battalion fired automatic weapons and rockets at her. His mind raced. "Maybe at this range..." he thought to himself, and pulled the trigger of his rifle. The gun cracked and the soldier felt the kickback. He heard a sound like a bullet striking thick steel and looked at the woman. She was standing exactly as she had been before he had fired. The bullet had bounced off her face without leaving a trace.

Ursa was a little angry now. She had asked this male a question, and instead of replying, he had used his weapon against her. She knew that she had nothing to fear from the rifle, but she was aware that the soldier had wanted to harm her, perhaps even kill her. Still, she had enjoyed seeing the pathetic little bullet squashing against the bridge of her nose before falling wasted to the ground, and though she had hardly felt the impact, it hadn't exactly been an unpleasant sensation. And the look of horror on the young man's face when he realised the ineffectiveness of his shot... that had caused her much delight.

She was still curious about the group of buildings behind the high wall. She decided not to ask this soldier again; she would waste no more time with this particular male. He had failed to obey her once and furthermore he had attempted to hurt her. He would be punished. Suddenly, there was a faint hint of a smile in Ursa's dead pan expression. She could not help it; the thought of what she was about to do was too thrilling. Leisurely, keeping her hands on her hips, she began to walk towards the doomed soldier. The look on her face was calm, but she was throbbing inside with anticipation.

He was scared now; not only had his rifle not wounded her, but now she was walking towards him. She was not moving quickly, and the fact that she seemed confident enough to approach him so casually unnerved him. He could see now the arrogant look in her eyes and observed the corners of her mouth move slightly upwards as if she could not hide her delight at his obvious fright. This was indeed one of the aliens from the TV. If all he had heard about them was true, then he was in grave danger.

The closer she came to him, the more she seemed in control. She was so certain of herself as she approached; he had to do something. He came to his senses, refocusing on his rifle sights. He still had enough time to squeeze off three shots straight at her.

Ursa almost groaned to herself. The pathetic mortal had decided to try his useless weapon against her again. Instinctively her lips parted slightly as her face revealed a trace of boredom. She watched the three flashes of light at the end of the barrel and saw the sad pellets as they seemed to float towards her. She felt a light tap as the first hit her neck, squashing flat as it was crushed between its own momentum and her invulnerable skin. The second bullet made a much sharper sound as it smashed into her exposed upper front tooth. A fraction of a second later the slug fell at her feet, a deformed wreck of its original state. She did not even close her lips; the experience of a high-powered rifle shot hitting her tooth had been too negligible for her to bother.

As for the final shot, it proved as futile as its predecessors, rapping against the outer curve of her left breast, flattening and falling to the ground. She barely even felt that one. Three strides later, she stood face to face with the terrified soldier, her body just centimetres away from the end of his rifle.

He had closed his eyes as he fired the three shots, but he heard the trio of metallic ricochets and knew instantly that she was still unharmed. When he dared to look, his worst fears were confirmed. She was standing less than a meter from him, her hands still on her hips, her face impassive once more. Although she was quite a few centimetres shorter than him, the look in her eye was almost as if she were looking down at him.

She had almost forgotten how much she enjoyed these moments. She had shown the male her physical superiority by taking four direct hits from his rifle. He was utterly hers now in every single way. All that remained was for her to choose the moment and manner of his destruction. She smiled broadly at him as he squirmed. She knew exactly what she was going to do.

He was paralysed by fear. He could do nothing but watch as the alien reached for his rifle. She placed her finger and thumb low down the barrel, a few centimetres from the trembling, fixed, grip of his non-trigger hand.

Ursa wanted to be certain that the male could see everything she did. As unhurriedly as she could bare, she held his gun dead still, its end remaining a few centimetres from the centre of her left breast. Without revealing even a trace of exertion on her face, she gently squeezed her thumb and forefinger together. She was secretly delighted as the tough steel yielded immediately to her delicate Kyptonian hand, bending, stretching and melting under the incredible pressure of her casual two-finger grip.

He could not believe his eyes. He stole a look at her face, but saw no sign of strain. Without making any great effort, she had severed the barrel of the gun in less than a second, leaving him holding a deformed stub of metal projecting from the untouched butt, his finger still on the now pointless trigger.

She could not hide her widening grin; her power on this planet was truly absolute. She wondered if she would have been able to crush the steel tube so easily a few days ago, or whether she was now filled with extra power. Extra power that had been drained from Non and Zod. Had she become even stronger, even more powerful than before? Would she now - unaided - be able to defeat the accursed son of Jorel?

She paused for a moment to allow the male's terror to reach its peak before completing her victory and ending his ordeal. Her hands remaining motionless on her hips and her cruel smile fixed on her face, Ursa calmly drew back her right foot and then swung it forwards, casually planting the toe of her long black boot into the soldier's undefended crotch. A fraction of a second later, shattered bone piercing many of his major organs, he was dead. Meanwhile, the force of Ursa's indifferent kick lifted his body off the ground and propelled it - almost too fast for the eyes of a non-Kryptonian - into the high, thick perimeter wall some fifteen meters away. It hit the concrete about two meters above the ground, instantly transforming from a human body into a mass of red gore, leaving an enormous stain and a series of crimson streams flowing downwards, puddling on the bloody mess in the snow at the base of the wall.

It was all she could do not to laugh out loud. She had utterly destroyed a male in peak physical condition, despite his military training and his supposedly deadly weapon. And she had done it at her leisure, taking the time to increase both his suffering and her enjoyment, and all without having to make the slightest effort. She truly was back. She would have her revenge on the wimp who called himself "superman", the infuriating Lane woman and that other pathetic mortal, Luthor.

Her smile took on a smug quality. No-one on this planet could oppose her. They would all pay for daring to defy her.

 

 

CHAPTER 2

Day One 06:20 hrs GMT

Ursa had spilled her first blood since recovering her powers. She was back. The helpless soldier had - unwillingly - given her a great deal of pleasure. Now that his body lay in shapeless pieces on the ground he was no longer of interest to her. Yet there was no reason for her to end her fun with him. From the air, she had seen many more mortals moving around within the concrete walls of the settlement that lay in front of her.

She stared at the blood-spattered wall some fifteen meters away. Four-and-a-half meters high, and meter deep, made of reinforced concrete and protected by generous amounts of vicious electrified barbed wire, it was all that stood between her and her next victims. It was designed to keep a medium-sized well-armed battalion at bay for a few hours. To Ursa, it was nothing more than a minor diversion. With her remarkable abilities, she could clearly see the activity taking place on the other side of the gigantic wall. Two soldiers marched past on a perimeter patrol, and she noticed another four in a open-topped vehicle trundling towards the large building at the centre of the base.

She paused for a while, considering her next move. The problem with being a Kryptonian under a yellow sun, she reflected, was not battling mortals. Rather, the difficulty lay in deciding which of her powers to use to conquer them. That, and the challenge of making any conflict last long enough to amuse her. Now she faced the huge wall and weighed up her options. There were so many! She could clear the obstacle with a casual standing jump, landing gracefully on the other side. With only slightly more effort she could take to the air, flying over the wall and descending like a bird of prey inside the military base.

Alternatively, thought Ursa, she could use her heat-vision, melting a hole right through the concrete in seconds. Or she could fill her lungs with vast amounts of super-compressed air and expel it, creating a blast of wind with enough force to uproot the heavy fortification from its foundations. Less dramatically, she could simply walk up to the wall and destroy it with a few kicks from her long leg. Or smash it to dust with her fists.

These were all good options, but Ursa selected another. Hands on hips and a emotionless expression on her face, she walked confidently towards the wall. When she reached the huge slab of concrete, she did not adjust her stride in the slightest. Her right leg slammed into the concrete, her foot crashing through the material in its path, crushing it as through it were made of mere paper. The wall was so thick, that her foot was embedded beyond the knee without emerging on the other side.

She continued her step as if she had not even noticed the enormous obstacle. Her right leg straightened, carrying her upper body forward. Her breasts slammed into and through the concrete, pulverising it beneath thousands of tons of pressure. Then came her stomach and her face, both meeting no resistance as they reduced the wall to dust. Her slender elbows, making triangles on either side of her body as her hands rested on her hips, were equally unstoppable. Following the natural rhythm of her stride, her left leg now carved into the concrete, passing the right and emerging in a shower of stony chunks on the other side. The next step brought the rest of her through the wall.

Inside the secret military installation, Dimitri and Ivan were on perimeter patrol. They were both loyal soldiers, but they hated having to complete these hourly circuits of the base. It was always cold up here, always snowing. Besides, they both knew that there was no chance of a land attack on this installation, hidden as it was behind huge walls and located so deep inside Russian territory. Nevertheless, they were well-trained and diligent in their work as they marched alongside the perimeter.

It was Ivan who noticed first. He held out a hand to stop his partner and gave him the signal to listen. It was unmistakable. Shots were being fired outside the base. Dimitri immediately radioed the news to his controller, who alerted the lookout. Hidden in the roof of the large building at the centre of the installation, a figure turned his binoculars to where he expected to see the external patrol. What he saw made him drop his 2-way radio on to the ground where it smashed into a dozen useless pieces. Without this vital means of communication, he was reduced to trying to shout, but shock had all but robbed him of his voice. Had anyone been close enough, they might have heard him croak "The alien girl is here!"

Ivan and Dimitri heard the controller on their radio trying without success to raise first the external guard and then the lookout. Military instinct made their senses grow sharper, and their muscles tense and alert. They both jumped back as they heard a sound like a wrecking ball plunging into a building. Something was attempting to breach the perimeter. The sound got louder, the wall seemed to shake and then in a shower of debris, a black shiny boot burst through the wall. Open mouthed they gazed in disbelief as the boot turned out to be attached to a shapely feminine leg. Then the wall appeared to explode. The two guards were covered in a rain of concrete chunks and dust as Ursa walked calmly through the massive barrier, her hands still on her hips, her face emotionless.

In the observation area, the lookout could only watch in horror. He had seen this woman with her comrades on the television news, terrorising US soldiers. He thought the three aliens had been defeated, but now her saw her, here in Russia, even more inhumanly powerful than she had appeared on the TV screen. She had just walked through a one meter thick concrete wall as easily as he would walk through an open door. What were they supposed to do against her?

Ivan and Dimitri had no time to ask questions. Ignoring the debris covering their uniforms and the cuts and bruises caused by flying rocks striking their bodies and faces, they instinctively grabbed their machine guns and opened fire at the intruder. Ursa continued to advance towards them, the hail of bullets, like the concrete wall, not having any effect on her stride. On her face, she wore a look of disinterest. Dozens of steel pieces shot from the two weapons every second, only to bounce off her. She paid them no attention as she closed in on the trigger men. Before she could reach them, they had both ceased firing and collapsed on to the snowy ground, their bodies riddled with ugly wounds caused by ricocheting bullets.

Ursa stood still for a moment, savouring the irony of the two men's deaths. They had been trying to harm her but had been killed themselves. She looked down at the pair of bullet-ridden corpses. They had not provided her with nearly as much entertainment as their colleague outside the base had done. "What pathetic creatures." she said out loud, her voice carrying the arrogantly superior tone of a naturalist examining an insect.

The chief was not sure what was happening. He knew there was still no contact with his man outside the base, nor with the lookout. Now, he could hear explosions and automatic weapons fire somewhere on the base. He frantically radioed the perimeter patrol. After a few seconds of trying and failing to get a response from either Ivan or Dimitri, he decided to sound the red alert. Sirens filled the air and within a few moments the base was alive with rushing soldiers carrying weapons of various sizes. The noise of engines added to the wailing as military vehicles began to speed around, looking for the cause of the alarm.

High above, the lookout finally snapped himself out of his state of shock. Leaning out of a slit just under the roof of the central building, he screamed at the top of his lungs, "Over here!". The rest of the staff of the base could not hear his cry above the sound of alarms and petrol motors and paid no attention, but his voice was as clear as a bell to Ursa's ears. She looked up towards the source of the shout and immediately spotted the man near the top of the large edifice. He was the only other being in view. She could hear many others rushing about and vehicles too, all clearly on the other side of the main construction, presumably looking for her.

She realised that the male who was shouting had been trying to draw attention to her location. The sounds of distant frantic activity continued. She decided she was not prepared to wait for these useless Terrans to find her. Rather, she would make sure that the lone figure near the top of the large building would get their attention. Turning her face towards the hapless lookout, she narrowed her eyes. Two red beams of pure energy shot out of her pupils, converging nearly a fifty meters away, just below the roof of the installation's main construction.

In less than a fraction of a second, there was nothing left of the lookout but ashes. Ursa's heat-vision rapidly heated the top of the concrete building until a huge chunk of wall glowed red and then appeared to explode, collapsing and falling noisily down to the ground, followed by the huge roof which, unsupported, crashed on top of the existing rubble. Dust filled the air rising in a column as high as twenty meters.

Smiling at the devastation she had wrought, Ursa listened to the sounds of shouting and engines getting louder and louder. Now the mortals knew where to find her.

Now she could really start to enjoy herself.

 

 

CHAPTER 3

Day One 06:30 hrs GMT

First on the scene was a jeep carrying four soldiers. With her superior vision, Ursa saw the vehicle through the thick dust long before its occupants spotted her. Without really being interested, she noticed that two of the soldiers were holding machine guns. A third was crouched behind a weapon that was mounted on the front of the jeep. Ursa assumed it was a more powerful version of the portable weapons the others carried. The fourth soldier had no weapon, his hands busy controlling the vehicle.

As soon as the car emerged from the dust cloud, the four men inside noticed the rough hole torn in the perimeter wall. Then they saw Ursa, standing completely still, hands on her hips. One of the soldiers grabbed his radio and shouted into it. The jeep accelerated towards her and one of the men began to operate the larger weapon. Ursa saw the flashes at the end of the huge gun, like bigger versions of those she had observed coming out of the rifle she had crushed half an hour earlier. This weapon however was louder, and the pellets it spat out were a lot bigger. She watched them streak towards her, but made to effort to get out of their path.

Sacha had tweaked the jeep's engine only that morning and it was running beautifully. As soon as he saw the top of the main building explode and realised that the intruders were on the other side of the base, he spun the car around and floored the pedal. He knew his would be the first vehicle on the scene - he was the best mechanic and the best driver on the base. He saw the cloud of dust where the roof had collapsed and headed straight into it. In the back seat behind him, two conscripts he hadn't properly met yet readied their machine guns. On his right, Assanovich was preparing the anti-tank gun and checking the amour-piercing bullets. They broke through to the other side of the dust, expecting to see a small army waiting there. They found something far worse.

At first they noticed only the breach in the perimeter wall and wondered what weapon could have caused such damage. A few moments later, one of the enlisted men spotted the woman. Recognising her, he immediately screeched "One of the aliens!" Assanovich grabbed his radio and relayed the information to the rest of the base. He too had seen the television reports. He knew he was not dealing with something of this world. Without waiting for the order, he seized the controls of his anti-tank gun and opened fire at her, sending a spray of giant explosive-tipped bullets towards the unarmed woman.

Ursa soon realised that these bigger pellets contained something to make them explode on impact. She observed the bright flames erupting noisily each time one of them slammed into her, noticing that the explosions destroyed the bullets before they could be deformed by her invulnerable body. She watched them strike her with bored indifference; she could hardly even feel them, exploding tips or not. The jeep continued to roar towards her. Soon the two males at the back of the vehicle began using their lighter weapons as well. If she had not seen and heard the additional firing, she probably would not have noticed this latest contribution.

Assanovich cursed. He had never seen a tank that could survive such a barrage unscathed, let alone an unprotected woman. Now the two men behind him were firing too and yet she didn't even seem bothered by the deadly rain being directed at her. In desperation he turned to his colleague and yelled "Run her down!" Sacha turned to him, a look of fear etched on his features. "Do it for the motherland! For the Earth!" cried Assanovich, utterly overwhelmed by the adrenaline pumping through his veins. "Smash her!". Sacha looked at the slender alien woman and the tiny explosions all over her body as Assanovich's ammunition hit her. His pressed the accelerator to the floor and closed his eyes.

Despite the noise of anti-tank weaponry, Ursa heard one of the soldiers in the vehicle instructing the driver to steer the jeep into her. Then she saw the driver close his eyes. She smiled. The engine became louder as the car gained speed. She saw the two men in the back seat leap out on to the snow. Then the jeep ploughed into her. The thin metal at the front of the vehicle folded around her waist like wet newspaper until the much more solid engine was pressed against her, instantly exploding as it was crushed almost flat.

The impact sent Sacha and Assanovich flying forwards over the windscreen. Ursa flashed out her left arm, decapitating the anti-tank gunner as his body sailed past her. She grabbed the driver with her other hand, catching him by his neck and, in the same movement, squeezing it to a pulp before dropping her latest kill at her feet without a second glance. This freed her right arm to brush away the burning, crumpled remains of the jeep. In a gesture similar to a mortal scaring off a wasp, she swatted the vehicle into the air to come down twenty meters away.

The two men who had been in the back of the jeep were still climbing to their feet when their destroyed ride crashed to earth. Blazing fuel splashed out of the vehicle, setting one of the men alight. His screams attracted the attention of his colleague, who turned with the intention of coming to the burning man's aid. But he paused when he saw the alien woman was now directly in the path between the two survivors from the jeep. How could she be standing there as if nothing had happened?

He could not believe that she was unhurt either by the thousands of armour-piercing bullets that had struck her body or by the jeep that had smashed into her. But his eyes gave him the proof that she was completely untouched. As he watched in stunned disbelief, she turned to fully face him and began striding with arrogant self-assurance straight towards him.

He knew that he should have been running, but he was paralysed, half-way back to his feet, as his brain struggled to process what it had observed. How could a woman who looked so slender, so feminine and so beautiful survive such an assault? Even now, as she approached him, he could see the flashes of light, and hear the metallic pings as more ammunition continued to bounce, uselessly, off her body.

Their eyes met. The soldier felt the fear twisting his stomach as the alien woman smiled right at him. There was nothing in her grin to offer him any comfort. In fact, she seemed to be revelling in his terror, enjoying this moment of torture as she steadily neared him. She had her hands on her hips, the posture only adding to the aura of crushing superiority which she projected.

Ursa was delighted with the look of abject fear on the soldier's face. She loved inspiring such extreme emotions in these mortals. She studied him in mild amusement as she walked up to him, listening to his thumping heartbeat, observing the beads of sweat that appeared on his forehead despite the sub-zero temperatures. This Earth creature was entirely hers to do with as she pleased. His terror was merely a reflection of that fact.

It struck her as fitting that he had still not yet stood up after his fall from the jeep, meaning that he was kneeling on one knee whilst she remained tall and upright, even a head-on collision with a speeding vehicle proving not enough to knock her down. The closer she strode, the more she had to look down on him, the more he had to bend his neck to look up at her.

The soldier knew that escape was not an option. And he had seen enough - more than enough - of the alien woman to understand that trying to attack her, with or without a weapon, was futile. There was nothing, nothing at all, that he could do to slow her advance on him, to stop her doing whatever she wished with him. Recognising this, he threw his arms up above his head in a gesture of complete surrender.

It was all Ursa could do not to laugh. She understood the creature's actions; that by holding up his hands, he was conceding defeat. But, this individual soldier's defeat, and that of all his colleagues, had been a certainty from the moment she had spotted the settlement from the air. What did he hope to gain from acknowledging her indisputable, untouchable superiority? Did he think she didn't know he was defeated until that moment? What difference did it make to her if he surrendered or tried to fight on with his useless weapons?

It occurred to Ursa that the male might be appealing to her for mercy. Such a thought amused her greatly. The creature was so pathetic, that he could do nothing but beg! She came to a halt just half a step from the kneeling soldier, her hands still dominantly on her hips. The arrogant smile on her face broadened momentarily as she savoured the anticipation of the next moment.

It was just a casual movement, the easiest swing of her leg. Her hands did not need to move from their station on her hip. Her smile did not even flicker. Her long leg flashed out, the toe of her knee-length boot catching the prostrate Earthman in his chest, instantly crushing every bone in his upper-body as it lifted him high into the air. His corpse had still not yet returned to the ground as Ursa's foot settled comfortably back on the snow.

She grinned with smug satisfaction as she watched the body finally crashing down. These creatures were so easy to kill!

She glanced around at the remaining soldiers, barely even paying attention to the men still firing their noisy, pointless weapons at her as her gaze settled on the final occupant of the jeep that had crashed into her. Still ablaze, he was thrashing around on the ground, yelling in agony as he was slowly being consumed by flames.

Ursa knew that the same flames would not even warm her skin, let alone cause her discomfort. She knew that it would require no exertion on her behalf to extinguish the fire and rescue the male. But, she merely smiled at the soldier's predicament and turned away, sparing him no further thought as he suffered his final agonies. To her, he was not even worth the minimal effort needed to bring about a swift end to his suffering.

Looking up, she took in the scene before her with a haughty, superior sneer on her beautiful face. All those males, running to and fro, the vehicles, the weapons still pouring their pathetic fire on her??? there was nothing here to offer her any challenge. Everything that she could see was hers. She would show them all the futility of their resistance.

Ursa felt the unlimited power that filled her being and thrilled to it. She had no doubt in herself. She knew she could destroy every last creature in sight in a heartbeat. But, she realised, it would be much, much more enjoyable to take her time. She cast her eyes about, selecting her next helpless victim???

 

 

CHAPTER 4

Day One 06:35 hrs GMT

Ursa was beginning to regard these displays of frantic activity involving dozens of Earth creatures as a sort of primitive recognition of her unstoppable power. So many men, in vehicles like the one she'd just destroyed and on foot, all carrying weapons of various designs, running and shouting and panicking. She surveyed them haughtily, confident in the knowledge that, no matter how many of them appeared, no matter which of their crude weapons they deployed, she could, and would, defeat them. She, alone, and unarmed, would defeat them. With ease. And delight.

The Kryptonian goddess had almost ceased to notice the countless impacts and tiny explosions all over her body as more and more men and their vehicles bore down on her, their weapons pouring out at her. "These noise-makers," she observed, dismissively, "have less effect on me than the breeze!" She cast her eyes around, taking less than the duration of an Earth creature's heartbeat to count and mentally catalogue all the firearms targeting her at that moment.

So many weapons were trained upon her, firing their ammunition, discharging their explosives, some loud, some far louder. Small weapons that fit into the hands of the men. Larger ones they could only carry on their puny backs. Some so big they were mounted on vehicles and were being dragged around by primitive engines. It amused her to think that, although the noisy, inefficient motors of this planet's vehicles were pathetically weak compared to her, they were still many hundreds of times more powerful than the men driving them.

Thinking of the vehicles reminded Ursa of the hopeless weakness she had seen displayed so many times since arriving on Earth. The useless contraptions ran on an extremely volatile fuel. The slightest ignition and the entire machine would always explode and, although fireballs and supersonic shrapnel did not cause a Kryptonian any discomfort under a yellow sun, all the mortals within range of the fire would perish. She could not help but allow her lips to stretch slightly towards a smile when considering how she possessed the means to destroy any of the vehicles she could see before her, and kill all the men inside, without needing to lift so much as a finger.

But whilst the knowledge that she had the power to inflict such destruction with so much ease was a source of pleasure to her, the thought of actually proving the fact was vastly more exciting. What did it mean to possess such power over the men all around her if she did not exercise it? And what other way would she teach the surviving creatures that her superiority was complete, and her dominance over them absolute? Her lips continued to betray her delight as she anticipated the next few moments. She cast her gaze, seeking, completely at random, a vehicle.

"Hold still, dammit, Yuri!" Vladimir shouted at the driver of the truck. "How am I supposed to aim this thing if you keep swerving about?" He crouched behind the sights of the grenade-launcher once again, trying to align the cross-hairs in his view-finder with the centre of the alien woman's black-clad body, but the truck lurched and he lost his footing for a moment and his aim for much longer than that. "Yuri! Stop so I can aim!"

"Wait, Vlad! I can get us closer! That bitch is soaking up all our ammo... we have to make everything count!" Yuri yelled as he swerved around foot soldiers running with rifles. He hit the brakes hard to avoid a man poised to hurl a grenade towards the alien. There was a thud behind him as the sudden stop caused Vladimir to be sent flying into the back of the cab. Yuri paid him little heed as he watched his colleague launch his throw.

"Poor fool," thought Yuri, "he'll never reach her from this distance!" But he watched the grenade continue to rise as it hurtled away. By now, he would have expected the downward portion of the arc to have commenced, but still the thing was gaining height. Finally, the grenade's trajectory levelled out. "Ah," Yuri said to himself, "now it will drop like a stone." However, he was wrong. The explosive continued to gain ground as it descended. "What a throw!" thought Yuri, "What an awesome, glorious throw by my compatriot!"

Oleg had joined the army with dreams of stardom. The brightest athletic prospect at his school, he had chosen the military because of the sports training on offer. Everyone was certain it would only be a few years until he was representing his country gloriously in front of the eyes of the world at the Olympic Games. His coach said he had never before seen a javelin-thrower with so much promise. Then he had been assigned, for his first month's training, to this frozen hellhole.

But nothing in the three weeks of hardship he had experienced could have prepared him for this moment. He had no time to pause and think about the situation. He had his orders, and he had what his eyes and ears told him. Impossible or not, he and the rest of the base were fighting, and losing, a battle against a single girl from the stars. A girl with powers that seemed undefeatable.

As he raced with all the others towards the place the invader had been spotted, he thought about destiny. For a while, he had been coming to believe that his destiny was to become a hero of his country. In his daydreams, the glory was always won in an imaginary athletics stadium. But what if his actual fate was to achieve hero status as a soldier? Here. Today. Right now. Because he could just see the alien in the distance now. He pulled the pin out of the grenade in his hand. People were running all around him. Jeeps and trucks were driving past, too. He ignored them and focussed on the tiny, distant female figure.

A truck's brakes sounded very close behind him. Someone yelled at him, but he blanked it out as, in his dreams, he would blank out the sound of the Olympic crowds chanting his name as he began his run-up. Oleg pictured the grenade in his hand becoming a javelin, imagined the military chaos in front of him as a track and field stadium, and pretended that the alien girl who he could just see, far, far away, was marking the world-record line. And then he threw the grenade.

He watched it soar away, recognising instantly that he'd released it well, finding that sweet-spot. He knew it was a good throw, a great throw even. He felt pride. It was an enormous throw. A heroic achievement. Behind him, from the interior of a truck cab, someone shouted "Awesome throw, son!" Oleg watched the grenade finally come down, so very far from him now as it took one bounce and landed, precisely, at the booted feet of the alien girl. He just knew that such a heroic throw would be rewarded. His would be the bomb that finally killed the girl. Glory was coming his way any instant, when the fuse ran out and the grenade between the alien's heels detonated.

Ursa was aware of the fist-sized metal object that was hurled at her and, more by luck than judgement (or so she suspected, knowing these creatures' excessive limitations) had actually landed next to her. Her superhumanly fast senses were aware of every action and every man around her. Her eyes could see everything, even through walls. Her ears heard every conversation. Nothing could happen in her presence without her knowledge. She truly was a goddess amongst these Earth people.

Although her powers meant that the object had not reached her unnoticed, Ursa did not realise the scale of the feat involved in the throw. She knew the distance it had travelled, because she knew, with amazing accuracy, which man had thrown it and where he had been standing at the time. But she did not appreciate that such a distance was a remarkable achievement and that the man responsible was an exceptional example of his species.

With a casual toss, Ursa could throw one of the vehicles she was studying a hundred times as far as the soldier had thrown his object. Neither the throw nor the object itself were of any interest to her. She knew it was an explosive and that it would shortly detonate. She had already experienced dozens of them at close quarters. They were as ineffective against her as any weapon the Earth armies tried.

She was beginning to believe that, in this planet's solar system, she simply could not be harmed in any way by any force. Nothing seemed to hurt her, or even scratch her. She could ignore the weapons used against her just as she could ignore the creatures firing them. Compared to her, they were utterly, utterly insignificant. She resumed her study of the vehicles in view and paid no further mind to the object.

The grenade exploded. The alien girl vanished inside a blinding eruption of yellow and orange flame that quickly subsided to a redder hue before itself becoming obscured from view, this time by a thick, billowing cloud of black smoke that rose from the ground.

Displaced earth, torn up by the blast, rained down over a vast area. Dirt and small stones fell on Oleg and on Vladimir who had recovered his footing on the back of the truck once again. The falling grit sounded like thunder on the roof of the cab over Yuri's head. The choking smoke continued to pour upwards. Oleg, Yuri and Vladimir strained to see if there was any sign of the extraterrestrial, waiting for the black cloud to disperse. "She is dead," thought Oleg. "Surely, she is dead..."

Ursa had felt the ground being blown away from underneath her. With Kryptonian speed, almost as quick as light itself, she had adjusted, using her powers of flight to compensate for the surface she had been standing upon. Although the Earth was ripped away from beneath her, thrown up with enormous force at her body, and, simultaneously, she was bathed in temperatures like those at the planet's very core, she did not move. Not even the width of a single hair.

The metal, stone and dirt that hit her merely bounced away without causing her discomfort. She had known it would be this way. It was the same with all the weapons of this planet. Ursa knew she could not be harmed. She did not even acknowledge the tremendous power of the blast by glancing down at its source. Instead she merely looked straight ahead, continuing to think about the vulnerability of the various vehicles she was observing, her eyes penetrating the thick black smoke.

At last, the burning cloud began to disperse. They could see.... the alien girl! Still standing! With her hands so arrogantly on her hips, exactly as she had been before the grenade exploded. The weapon had not hurt her in any way! The heroics had been completely futile. Their opponent had not been beaten. Not even by their most extraordinary effort to date.

Oleg sank to his knees, exhausted. He had summoned every last gram of energy in his body into throwing the grenade. Now that he had seen his dream of heroism turn to smoke around the invulnerable alien, he felt as though he had nothing left to give to the battle.

Watching from the cab of the truck, Yuri recognised Oleg's gesture. The boy had given his all. Now it was the turn of his crew. Neither he nor Vladimir could ever hope to throw a grenade half as far as the youngster had managed. But the rocket-launcher on the back of the truck didn't require nearly so much athleticism to operate. Vladimir had already lined up his sights once again. With the middle of the alien's torso carefully targeted, he hit the launch button.

Ursa had been idly choosing which of the many vehicles in front of her she was going to make explode. She saw the flash of light of the missile being launched at her and made her decision. The vehicle that fired the weapon would be the first one she would destroy. Cruelly, she decided to delay her assault in order to allow the men inside and around the contraption to witness their missile's ineffectiveness.

With her hands on her hips she waited for the device to reach her, her face devoid of any emotion. By the rough standards of the various munitions that had been hurled at her, this one was well-aimed. She could predict its path and realised that it was on course to collide with the front of her body, not far below her chin. It did not matter to her. She knew she could not be harmed. She did not move as it neared.

"Bull's-eye!" shouted Vladimir a split-second before the rocket hit.

"Brilliant shot!" shouted Yuri.

The girl vanished inside a fountain of furious fire once again. The smashed up ground that fell on them this time contained larger pieces of stone, making Oleg and Vladimir cover their heads. The flames burned intensely, so that it was impossible to see anything.

Oleg looked round and yelled "You got her! You got her!"

Vladimir studied the shifting smoke through the rocket launcher's view finder. Maybe they had got her this time...

"These weapons are beginning to tire me," Ursa admitted to herself. "Enough of this nonsense. I have seen what they have to offer. It is time I showed these creatures how effective my powers are." She narrowed her eyes at the vehicle she had selected.

"Oh, shit, no!" cried Vladimir. His heart sunk. "She's still there."

"But you hit her, right? I mean I saw..." Yuri shouted back.

"It was a perfect hit!" Vladimir confirmed. "But she survived. This is impossible! That bitch just survived a rocket-propelled grenade right in the ti-" He never finished the word his lips were forming.

Two beams of red light shot out from the alien girl's eyes, travelling to their position in no time at all. The beams converged at the front of the truck, below the cab window, right where the engine was. Yuri barely had time to see the lasers before it was too late. Vladimir never knew what happened.

As soon as the beams from Ursa's eyes reached the motor in the front of the vehicle, the whole contraption exploded, just as she had predicted. The two men inside died immediately. A third, standing in front of the vehicle, whom she recognised as the one who had just thrown an explosive at her, was killed by flames a few seconds later. She grinned with delight as she watched the pieces of burning metal wreckage falling from the sky, wounding other men as they came crashing down.

She turned her head slightly until she was directly facing another vehicle, this one much smaller, but with four men seated within. Letting vast reservoirs of unlimited pure energy flow through her, she channelled some through her eyes into the front of the machine. For the briefest of instants, a large area of metal panelling glowed red with heat before the vehicle, and the four men, were torn apart by a huge blast.

A third vehicle followed in similar fashion and then a fourth and a fifth as Ursa methodically destroyed every last vehicle in sight. Men ran screaming, only to disappear inside massive explosions of fire as she fired her lasers into the vulnerable fuel reserves. The entire base seemed to shudder as one by one, she located and then effortlessly wiped out anything that had an engine.

In very little time, there was nothing remaining of the base but piles of burning wreckage and a few dozen surviving foot soldiers. She had decimated an army without even removing her hands from her hips. A smile of satisfaction and supreme self-confidence appeared on her face as she surveyed the evidence of the full scale of her power.

Those soldiers who had not been killed now knew the futility, not to mention the danger, of resistance. This woman from another planet, this solitary woman with no weapons, had defeated them. They understood that to oppose her any longer meant certain death. There was nothing they could do now but surrender and throw themselves at her mercy.

Ursa recognised the meaning of the soldiers when they all dropped their weapons and raised their hands above their heads. She had already encountered the gesture several times before on this planet. The surviving men had realised that her superiority was unopposable and had decided to surrender to her. Her victory over them was as total as it had been inevitable.

With an air of complete command and the stride of a goddess who knew she could not be challenged, she walked towards the defeated men.

 

 

CHAPTER 5

Day One 06:55 hrs GMT

Ursa could see that the soldiers no longer had the stomach for the battle. She felt no great triumph seeing their unconditional surrender - she had been confident of her total victory before the fight had even begun. She already knew that the puny weapons of Earth could not harm her. She already knew the Earth creatures' pathetic bodies could not withstand her apparently unlimited powers.

Despite the complete lack of surprise at the ease and completeness of her victory, she was satisfied seeing the fear and helplessness on the faces of the surviving fighters. She turned her neck, taking in the panorama of men throwing down their useless weapons and raising their hands, signalling that they now understood that they were powerless to oppose her. The goddess from Krypton could not help letting the corners of her beautiful mouth turn up slightly. The beginnings of a smile were forming on her features as she observed the soldiers surrendering to her.

With her hands dominantly resting on her hips and her head held arrogantly high, she stepped calmly towards the nearest group of men, utterly confident in the knowledge that there was absolutely nothing the defeated soldiers, or any of their colleagues, could do to even slow her stride. Every creature she could see was completely at her mercy. They belonged to her. They were hers to do with as she pleased. Her grin broadened with the thought.

Like many of the other soldiers, Aleksi had felt a tremendous sense of relief when the surrender order had gone out. He'd watched the alien invader destroying all the base's jeeps by firing lasers from her eyes and heard the screams as men vanished inside deadly explosions. He'd seen a jeep crash into her slim waist and crumple up as if the vehicle was made of paper and the extraterrestrial woman was made of steel. He'd observed grenades and rockets exploding against her, without causing her so much as a scratch. He'd fired his machinegun at her, along with countless others, and seen her do nothing but raise a mocking eyebrow in response.

He'd long since realised that the battle was futile. Their opponent, this solitary, beautiful woman, was not of this world. She was not bound by the limitations of its people. Its weapons had no effect on her. And she possessed such fantastic abilities! Not just the lasers that had killed so many of his comrades. He'd seen her throwing a large man, lifting his weight with a single arm. A hundred kilos - probably also a thousand, or even tens of thousands - were nothing to her. He shuddered to thing what other terrifying powers she might have.

Aleksi had been terrified as the alien woman had used those powers to kill dozens of his colleagues, showing no emotion as she effortlessly took their lives. He felt as is she had actively enjoyed the panic she had caused, that she was quite content for the men to continue to oppose her, so that she could continue to punish them. Now, at last, his commanders had realised that resisting her had brought nothing but death. Surrender, he hoped, bought them a chance of survival.

He'd been one of the first to cast down his weapon, happy to throw the sub-machinegun down on the ground. It had offered him no protection from the bullet-proof woman. Instead, it was merely an invitation for her to take his life. Without it, he felt considerably safer. He stretched his arms as high as he could over his head, making his submission as clear as possible.

All the men were studying the alien, looking for clues to what she might do next. They knew that their fates lay entirely with her. If she chose to kill them, they could do nothing about it. Aleksi, as one of the closest to her at the moment of surrender, had a clear view of her face. He watched it intently, waiting for her move. It was all he could do. It was all any of them could do. They were powerless. Utterly, totally, powerless. The black-clad woman from the stars was in complete control.

As he stared at her features, he noticed her cold, emotionless expression softening slightly. Her lips seemed to be stretching, as if she were smiling. She was looking them over, apparently pleased with their decision not to offer any further resistance. Was the hint of a smile an indication that she was planning to be merciful with them? He felt a flicker of hope. Then she began to walk. Directly towards him. The hope vanished, along with the blood from his face. Fear took over.

She was actively grinning now as each confident stride brought her closer to him. She was so beautiful! So sure of herself. He felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. Terror began to claw at his mind. Part of him wanted to turn and run, to get as far away from her as possible. But he knew that it would be a futile effort. Even if his muscles were not frozen in fear. He kept his hands high over his head, eager for her to see his submission, but every second brought her nearer and made his terror grow.

Ursa picked out one of the soldiers at random. It did not matter to her which one she chose. They were all equal to her. All so vastly inferior, all so insignificant compared with her enormous power. She enjoyed the way he began to tremble as she approached him and delighted in his obvious terror. Such a reaction was fitting in a mortal face-to-face with a goddess.

Sensing the way the man's discomfort increased the closer she came to him, she continued to walk towards him until she was less than half a stride away, her invulnerable body a mere hand-span away from his very, very fragile flesh and bones. They were about equal in height, yet she, with her hands on her hips, felt as if she were looking down on him, with his hands in the air. The confidence of her movement and the sternness of her facial expression contrasted wildly with him as he trembled, utterly terrified.

For a few moments, Ursa did nothing. She wanted to prolong the moment, to enjoy the mortal's deadly fear of her. She loved holding so much power over these creatures. At that instant, it was a single man that she was dominating, but she was aware that she had the same effect on the dozens of other soldiers present. Indeed, she knew, the whole planet was just as powerless before her. She was a true goddess here.

Finally she moved. Unhurriedly, aware that she had no need to rush and happy to make the soldier's agony last, she removed her right hand from her hip and brought it up slowly into the space between their bodies. She pointed her index finger, and placed it under the man's chin. Easily, she lifted his head, bending his neck backwards until she could hear the tendons beginning to stretch. The soldier's shaking became even more pronounced, and his face showed the increasing discomfort she was inflicting on him. Sweat began to bead on his forehead. A tear formed in one of his eyes. Despite her growing enjoyment, Ursa kept the stern look on her face as she stared straight into the creature's terrified eyes.

Aleksi was certain he was living his last moments. He knew that the woman standing before him was capable of ending his life in an instant, with the most casual of movements. The muscles at the back of his neck screamed out in agony as she pushed his chin higher and higher until he thought they would snap at any moment. How was it possible for such a feminine-looking being to possess so much strength in just a solitary finger?

He wanted to pull her hand away from him, to push her back, to run away. But mortal terror had stripped him of the ability to move. And, besides, he knew that any attempt to fight against her would be a waste. She was too powerful. All he would achieve by trying to resist her would be a swift death. Whilst he did nothing, there was still a chance that she would spare him. His life was now, quite literally, in her hand. His only hope of survival was to pray that she would decide not to kill him.

After what seemed an age, during which he stared into her cold, expressionless eyes, hoping against hope to see a spark of mercy within them, she finally spoke.

"Where is your commander?" she asked. Her voice was calm, almost disinterested. Her Russian was perfect, without any trace of an accent. Her tone that of someone addressing an animal or other lower form of life. It was immediately clear that she thought less than nothing of him. Of any of them. They were merely insignificant objects to her. She needed no direct threat beyond the finger pushing painfully under his chin. He realised that if he failed to answer to her satisfaction, she would kill him without a thought.

Aleksi did not want to die. It was hard to form words in his throat. Hard to find the necessary air to speak. Hard to pronounce words as he continued to tremble. But the fear of death concentrated his mind. "I??? I??? don't know" he croaked. He wished he could tell her, but he genuinely could not. His mind raced with possibilities. Would she punish him for failing to supply the information she wanted or would she move on, leaving him, and seek out someone else who could help. He looked intently at the woman for any sign that his reply might bring about either reaction. There was no indication either way in her stony gaze.

Ursa knew that the creature would not dare to lie to her. He was too much in awe of her power over him for that. But if he could not even tell her where his commander was, then he was clearly of no further use to her. He did not deserve punishment for withholding the truth or defying her. But with her finger already under his chin, she calculated that it would require no more effort to terminate his pathetic existence than it would to drop her hand and let him live. Perhaps if the creature had been a female, she might have spared its life. But she hated all men. At least, this one could provide her with a brief moment's enjoyment as she killed him. And it would remind all the other soldiers who were watching of the two facts she was eager for them to understand: Firstly, that her power was absolute and secondly, that her regard for their lives was nonexistent.

Having decided what she would do, she gave it no further thought. She raised her finger under the man's chin sharply upwards, not needing to move any other part of her body. His weight simply did not register to her as her fingertip lifted him from the ground and pushed him straight up into the air. He had no time to scream as the violence of her easy action snapped his neck in an instant. She stood impassively, observing with mild curiosity as his belly, then his knees and then his feet flashed past her face as he shot upwards.

As Ursa's hand returned nonchalantly to her hip, the soldier's body continued to soar in a vertical line towards the snow-filled sky. She knew the dozens of other men present would be craning their necks to watch as the soles of his boots disappeared from their puny fields of vision into the clouds. She did not bother to watch his flight herself, even though her own, Kryptonian, eyes would have been able to track the dead man's voyage much much further than those of the soldiers. She did not bother because she had already lost interest in him.

She allowed herself a brief moment of pleasure as she considered the utter ease with which she had killed yet another man. Then she focussed her attention on the remaining men, noting with satisfaction the shock and terror that her most recent display of power and ruthlessness had instilled. Unhurriedly, she turned to address them.

The soldiers, no longer able to see the still rising body of their colleague, returned their horror-struck, fearful gazes to her. She smiled at them, delighted to be the centre of their attention, delighted to see the sheer terror she was causing them. Haughtily, she announced "The commander will step forward. Or everyone here will die."

 

 

CHAPTER 6

Day One 07:05 hrs GMT

Silent panic. There was no other way of describing the behaviour of the defeated soldiers. Their conqueror, the solitary, beautiful alien woman who had already killed so many of their comrades, was facing them with a calm, total authority, demanding that their commander step forward.

She had threatened to take the lives of the survivors if her wish was not fulfilled, and there was no-one left amongst the fighting men who doubted that she would keep her word. After all they had each witnessed, countless times, how she possessed both the limitless physical ability and the cold-hearted ruthlessness to carry out the massacre. They'd just seen her dispatching one of their number with an effortless movement of one of her arms, and those close enough had observed the pleased look on her face in the moments afterwards.

At the same time the men knew they were powerless to resist her. They could not outrun her. She had shown herself capable of moving at speeds so great, they eyes could not even follow her.

They could not fight her. She possessed more strength in her slender, womanly arms and legs than an entire army of men.

They could not use their weapons against her. She had smiled through a barrage of heavy-gage automatic gun-fire as it bounced from her body like dry peas from a marble table-top. She had ignored grenades exploding at her feet, even as the metal shrapnel had ricocheted off her invulnerable costume.

The soldiers' silence reflected the fact that none of them dared speak, for fear of angering the alien woman. They knew she had defeated them and that they could not oppose her will.

The panic that rippled through them, manifesting itself in nervous glances, the uneasy shifting of feet and the trembling of arms held aloft in surrender, reflected the fact that, despite the general terror of the consequences of failing to provide her with the information she had demanded, no-one seemed to actually know the whereabouts of the commander.

Such was the soldiers' fear of the invader that, had their commander been present among them, all loyalty would have been forgotten and he would surely have been thrown to the front by his men and offered up as a sacrifice to their new master. But he was not there.

Ursa could sense the terror that had seized the men before her. Her superhuman ears could hear the hearts thumping so rapidly in their puny chests. Her superhuman eyes could see the sweat still beading on their faces, long after the physical exertion of the brief, one-sided battle was over. Her superhuman nose could smell the trace of fear in the perspiration.

She looked out over the men in delight. She felt an inner pride at the horror she had instilled in them. She took her time as she surveyed them, savouring the panic on each face, enjoying the sight of so many shaking arms being held in the air in a gesture of submission to her.

She had no need to hurry. She knew for certain now that no weapon any of these creatures might posses could harm her. She had no reason to be concerned about the massive imbalance of numbers between herself and the remainder of the force that had sought to battle her. A million of these pathetic Earth men would be no match for the remarkable powers that she possessed under this yellow sun.

Ursa smiled, a smug smile at seeing so many men so completely defeated, with her hands still resting on her hips in arrogant certainty of her crushing superiority over everything this planet had to offer. If the Commander did not come forward as she had ordered, it would be no great loss to her. She could find another army, defeat it with equal ease, and interrogate its Commander. One Commander was no different to another for her. They were all puny men, as insignificant to her as any of their soldiers. As insignificant to her as insects or any another vastly lower form of life.

Barely two hundred meters from her, Commander Miskov lay half-buried under the collapsed ceiling of his office in the ground floor of the building at the centre of his base. A massive explosion on the floors above him had shaken the command centre, dislodging some of the plaster and concrete over his head and killing the men with him at the time. Now he was pinned under the rubble, powerless to communicate with his men, forced to follow the ensuing battle through the booms, the thuds and the sounds of gunfire outside.

After a brief while, the noise of the fighting had stopped. He had felt an immediate sense of relief. His men, he reasoned, must have repelled the hostile force that had attacked them. He would not have to wait long to be rescued from his current predicament.

But then the moments passed without any sign of anyone coming near. He began to wonder where his men were. Could it be that they were not coming because they had not defeated the invaders? Some of the explosions he had heard and felt had been close - very close - to where he was lying. Had his men been hit? Had they sustained casualties? Was that why no-one was coming - because there were wounded men outside who needed attention?

Surely, by now, thought Miskov, someone would have come inside the damaged building looking for him. Surely by now he should have at least heard the voices of a search party or a medical crew. Unless???. Unless the unthinkable had happened. Unless his men had been defeated...

He dismissed the idea. It was preposterous. His men were well-trained soldiers, inside a well-fortified base deep within friendly territory. They had good weapons, and good vehicles. It would take a massive hostile army to defeat them, and such a force could never hope to approach his base unnoticed. No force he could imagine would be powerful enough to fight his men into submission and discrete enough to take them by surprise. His men were probably just outside, about to enter. "In here!" he called out to them, his voice restricted by the weight of the rubble pressing down on his torso.

Hundreds of strides away from the trapped man, Ursa turned a quarter-circle on her heels, her slender body moving fluidly, illustrating both its immunity to the planet's gravity and its supreme confidence in its invulnerability. Her remarkable hearing had detected something. A sound. Distant and quiet. But not quiet enough to escape her Kryptonian senses.

It was coming from the building at the middle of the tiny walled settlement. Even though a hundred men stood between her and the source of the noise, each one adding to the background sounds, she had clearly heard a voice from inside the lower portion of the edifice.

As she looked at the construction, smoke still rising from the remains of its roof, she recalled the way she had destroyed the upper floors of the building along with all the men on them with nothing more than a blast of the lasers from her eyes. Evidently, the damage she had caused in that brief moment had affected the rest of the building. Someone appeared to be appealing for help inside.

Perhaps the survivor inside the building would know something about the Commander. It was becoming clear to her that the rest of the men did not. She knew that the soldiers before her were too terrified to try and keep any truths from her. If any of them had known where their Commander was, they would have told her.

Their faces, their trembling - everything about them made it perfectly clear that they realised her threat of death was not a bluff. Her corners of her mouth stretched outwards at the thought. They were all terrified of her!

"Kneel before me!" she commanded them, tremendously enjoying the sight of a hundred men hurrying to obey her. Within a few instants, every single soldier was on his knees, not a single one of them prepared to face the consequences of retaining his dignity. She looked down over them, barely hiding her delight at the demonstration of her complete dominance.

"You will await my return," she instructed, haughtily. "Any man who moves during my absence will meet a painful death." She delivered the warning more as a casual fact than a threat but its effect on the men kneeling in front of her was immediate. Their hearts started to pound faster. Fresh sweat appeared on many of the faces she surveyed.

Satisfied that her words had been registered, she effortlessly took to the air, her booted feet rising smoothly from the snowy ground as she flew over the heads of the submissive soldiers, ignoring the hushed gasp of amazement caused by the sight of her taking to the air unaided. The creatures of Earth could not leave the surface of their planet without large, loud clumsy machines. For her, a Kryptonian under a yellow sun, it was the easiest of feats to achieve.

Meanwhile, losing hope that rescue was coming, Miskov was struggling to try and push aside some of the rubble that was pinning him to the floor. He managed with extreme difficulty to dislodge one of the smallest concrete chunks, but could not, not matter how hard he tried, move any of the larger pieces. He did not even attempt to budge the huge steel beam that had fallen across his thighs. It had to weigh several tonnes and would require ten men to lift. But if he could just clear some space around it, he reasoned, he might be able to crawl out from underneath.

Ursa did not fly very far. She was still well within the eyesight-range of the soldiers she had just left as she descended to the ground. However, with her order not to move still fresh in their minds, none of them dared to turn to follow her flight. She landed by the side of the building from which she had heard the voice moments before.

Staring at the wall in front of her, her fantastic ability to see through solid objects allowed her to view and examine the interior of the edifice as if the walls were transparent. Her eyes scanned the building, noting the devastation she had wrought, feeling pleasure - knowing she had caused the carnage - at the sight of so many broken male bodies. She amused herself briefly reflecting on the ease with which she had brought it all about.

She was taking her time to admire her handiwork as she cast her gaze through the various rooms of the construction, but her Kryptonian speed allowed her to be leisurely and still locate what she was seeking within the time it takes an Earth creature's heart to beat twice. A single man, struggling and failing to free himself from a pile of fallen debris. He was the one she had heard earlier. The sole survivor inside the building. She would go to him to find out if he knew about the Commander.

 

 

CHAPTER 7

Day One 07:15 hrs GMT

At last! Commander Miskov heard a sound outside the building. Finally, someone was coming to rescue him. More than one person, he thought, as he heard a crash. The rubble all around him shuddered for a moment as another even louder noise filled the ruined room. Maybe the entire staff of the base had come to dig him out!

He could hear big pieces of masonry being displaced and smashing down on the ground and imagined teams of ten or more men working together to lift and push aside the debris. The sounds were getting closer and closer to where he was lying. It wouldn't be long now. He'd soon be freed. His men - crowds and crowds of his men - were coming to rescue him. It never occurred to him that it was strange he couldn't hear any voices amidst the bangs and crashes.

For a Kryptonian under a yellow sun, there are no obstacles. If a being from that planet decides not to circumvent an object in his or her path, then that object will not in any way delay the Kryptonian's advance. It does not matter if the object is a man, an army, a block of solid steel or a concrete wall. A Kryptonian will walk right through it, destroying everything that cannot or does not move aside.

A Kryptonian woman under a yellow sun, Ursa had gazed at the stricken man inside the building from her position on the outside using her X-ray vision. She had seen the only-partially damaged thick walls that stood between her and the male, but she knew she had no need to pay them any mind. They could not deter her any more than all the soldiers and all their weapons could.

With her hands resting on her hips, and a look of mild boredom on her otherwise expressionless face, she walked towards the trapped Earthman. Half a step later, her knee hit the concrete wall in front of her. The knee kept on going, not slowed at all, carving a path through the solid stone. The rest of her leg likewise met no resistance. Loose chips of concrete flew into the air having been dismissively brushed aside.

Then the front of her body struck. It slammed into the wall with a power few Earth machines could match. The concrete stood no chance as it shattered into countless fragments, blasted out from the wall by the sheer force of Ursa's advancing, invulnerable body. Pieces of rock fell all around her, as she reduced a thick wall to fragments in a single, effortless step.

Inside the building, huge pieces of broken structure lay in her path. She did not even deem them worthy of her gaze as she walked through them, kicking chunks as big as a man to the side with the toe of one of her long, black boots without even breaking her calm, assured stride. In almost unthinkingly casual gestures, she languidly swept one of her long arms in front of her, knocking massive pieces of collapsed ceiling aside. The air filled with thick displaced dust but her superhuman eyes saw with complete clarity. She did not even need to blink as she strolled towards her target.

In all the confusion when the building had been hit, Miskov never even managed to find out what was going on. He was aware of an incident reported beyond the perimeter, but nothing after that, apart from the massive explosion that had rattled the building and brought the ceiling and part of the upper floor down on top of him, trapping him. Who had attacked them and how? He'd heard the sounds of a battle, and then a long, long period of silence after that. He longed to find out what had happened. The approaching sounds of rescue promised hope of an answer.

They were close now! He could feel the vibrations coming from the corridor outside his office. He wondered how many men were in the party. There had to be twenty at least, he reckoned, judging by the speed with which they seemed to be picking their way through the rubble towards him. Any second now, they would work their way through to his office, and someone would finally be able to tell him what the hell had happened on his base.

There was a massive crash on the other side of the wall behind him. Because of his predicament, pinned under a massive girder and countless chunks of heavy concrete, he could not turn his head to look towards the source of the noise. It sounded - and felt - as if a huge rock had just been lifted and dropped from a height of several meters. It wasn't what Miskov expected to hear or to feel. He hoped it wasn't caused by debris shifting on the storeys above and falling onto the men who were trying to rescue him.

In fact, the crash was made by a large section of concrete pillar. Originally, it had fallen through the building when Ursa had destroyed the top of the construction with a blast of her eye-lasers. The solid, rectangular block, wider than most men in both depth and width and almost as tall as a man in length had been lying across the ground over which the Kryptonian woman was walking.

Rather than stepping over the potential obstruction, Ursa just flicked it aside with the foot of her boot as she strode past, the easy movement powerful enough to lift the entire pillar and throw it into the wall about ten paces away. She did not even deign to watch its flight, so negligible was the effort required to brush it aside. Three more steps and she was within touching distance of the last wall separating her from the trapped male. The next step pulverised that wall.

Miskov heard the crash and felt the building shake just as the wall behind him seemed to explode into the room with him. He was showered in small pieces of dislodged concrete that hurt wherever they touched him. Before he could even cry out, his lungs were filled with thick dust that made him choke and forced him to shut his eyes.

The rain of fragments stopped and the room fell silent again for a moment. Still coughing, he was aware of the debris shifting a little around him, and heard footsteps. Curiously, it was only a single pair of footsteps. They sounded strange - the rhythm was slow and relaxed, and each step made a clicking sound which struck him as more like the noise of a woman's high heel than a soldier's boot.

Ursa looked down at the creature lying on the ground. He was unable to move simply because of a few pieces of fallen building that she could have swept away with a single finger! She could not hide either her contempt for his weakness or her arrogant sense of superiority. Both sentiments showed on the sneer on her face as she calmly walked around him.

She saw that his eyes were tightly shut and realised that the pathetic man had been temporarily blinded by the dust. He was choking too. Ursa wondered at the fragility of such a creature who could be disabled by a few tiny particles of stone in the air. In contrast, in this solar system, she could not be harmed by anything. All this planet's inhabitants combined could never hope to oppose her!

The footsteps seemed to approach him and then stop. The dust Miskov had inhaled did not let him stop coughing, and his eyes were still tightly shut to protect themselves against the particles that still filled the air. A few moments passed and then he heard a strange, low, metallic creaking sound from somewhere nearby. The rubble beside him shifted. Quite a few bits of rock fell to the ground on either side of him. He wished he could see what was happening. The creaking noise got louder. More material was falling all around. And then, suddenly, he felt the massive weight that had been pressing down on his hips, holding him against the ground, disappear. He had been freed!

He fought to blink his eyes open. He wanted to see his rescuers. He must've been mistaken when he thought he'd only heard a single pair of footsteps - and high-heels at that! Obviously there were loads of them. Somehow, between them, they had managed to lift that massive steel girder off his lower body. He recalled how the beam had looked lying across him. That thing must've weighed several tonnes, not to mention the weight of all the pieces of debris that had fallen on top of it. How many men must there be lifting it, he wondered? Four at each end and as many in the middle?

He blinked rapidly, trying to clear away the water and dust from his retinas. The air was still heavy with it, and he had to constantly close and re-open his eyes to see anything. Finally, his vision began to clear. He saw the girder, still horizontal, but now a meter in the air above him. He expected to see himself surrounded by men. He saw no-one but one??? one???. Woman?

So, this man - this big, strong-looking man, was helplessly trapped by a piece of metal? Ursa bent down momentarily, the long fingers of her slender right arm with their perfect, jet-black nails reaching for the girder. She took hold of it, not far from the centre of its length, establishing an unbreakable grip by pinching a corner of it between a few fingertips. Small indentations appeared beneath her fingers, testament to the unearthly power of her hold.

After that, she smoothly and easily lifted her arm, the entire steel length rising in her grasp. So much for the steel bar that had defeated a man! The metal groaned a little in protest at the enormous forces working on it, but to Ursa, her slim arm supporting the massive weight with a total lack of difficulty, the girder was as light as an autumn leaf. On this planet, she possessed strength that is beyond the capability of many to even imagine. Endless, limitless, all-conquering, unstoppable strength!

It took Miskov a few seconds to place her. She was familiar but he could not think from where, until suddenly, his memory conjured up a succession of television-images of the three alien invaders who had so nearly conquered the US a month before. This woman before him was one of those three! He'd seen news reports of these extraterrestrials surviving gun-fire at point-blank range and exhibiting awesome superhuman abilities as they caused violence and destruction.

Suddenly, he understood. This was who had attacked his base. This was why he had heard the sound of weapons. His men had been firing on this woman. This beautiful, stony-faced woman from the stars who could not be harmed by any weapon. This indestructible, hostile alien. It seemed impossible to contemplate that this woman might have single-handedly defeated his entire base. And yet seeing her holding several tonnes of steel in a comfortable, one handed grip without any sign of discomfort made him realise that nothing was impossible for a being of such terrifying power.

"You!" she addressed him, her voice cold and authoritative. "Do you know where the commander is?"

Miskov coughed up the last of the dust from his lungs and stared at the alien woman. "I??? er??? I am the commander," he spluttered.

"You?" Ursa asked, almost laughing at the thought that such a pathetic creature might be the commander of other men. She raised an eyebrow in mockery for a moment. "And where is YOUR commander?" she enquired.

"I don't have to tell you anything other than my name, rank and number," stated Miskov in brave defiance.

Ursa merely smiled at the male's stubbornness. His refusal to answer gave her an excuse to cause him pain, and she was delighted to seize it. Without lowering the massive metal girder in her hand, she glanced down at the prostrate man's shoes and fired a quick blast of her eye-lasers, instantly vaporising his feet from the ankles down, the air suddenly full of his screams of agony and the smell of burnt flesh.

Grinning broadly at the suffering she had caused him, she waited as the injured man thrashed around in pain for a second before regaining just enough control of his vocal chords to scream in desperation at her "General Barazhov! My commander is General Barazhov!"

Satisfied at having so easily broken his will, Ursa let him see her triumphant smile. "Where do I find this General Barazhov?" she demanded, pronouncing the name with an air of chilling superiority.

Miskov shouted the name of the town where the General was based and in the same breath told the alien woman the direction in which it lay. Everything she might want to know. Anything to stop her causing him any more pain.

Ursa needed no further information from the commander. Without a second thought for him, she opened the fingers still gripping the massive steel girder. Immediately, the huge metal bar fell, landing with a mighty crash across the wounded man's body. He was dead long before it had fully settled onto his crushed chest.

The woman from Krypton rose into the air, flying through storey after storey of the ruined building until she burst from the remains of its roof, glancing down at the destruction all around that she had wrought. She saw the remains of the men she had killed and also the survivors, kneeling on the ground according to the orders she had given them. Her victory over them was utter and complete, just as it would be in the next battle she fought, and every battle after that.

General Barazhov and his men would be the next to kneel before her. And then his commander and his men. And all the commanders and all the men of this planet.

 

 

CHAPTER 8

Day One 07:35 hrs GMT

The countless corpses, burnt-out vehicles and half-destroyed buildings all around bore witness to the alien woman's awesome power. A freezing northerly wind whipped around the men as they remained on their knees on the snow-covered ground. They shivered in the unforgiving cold, longing for warmth, longing to move. But not one of them dared even shift slightly from his position, no matter how uncomfortable it seemed. The alien had commanded them to remain in place, and no-one amongst them was prepared to risk the consequences of disobeying her. So they continued to kneel and to shiver.

She had told them to wait like that for her return. She'd promised death to any of them who moved during her absence. As they bided their time, expecting their conqueror to make her dreaded reappearance at any time, they tried to distract themselves from the cold. Fear prevented any of them from speaking, or even making the slightest sound. They could not communicate their thoughts or share their anxieties with each other. Each of them was left with his own imagination, his own nightmarish visions of what the future held.

It seemed that nothing but terror lay ahead - both for themselves in the immediate short-term when the unopposable alien woman returned, and also longer-term for the entire world. What would she do to the other armies, the other military bases, the other people of the planet? What did she intend to do with the men kneeling all around when she came back?

Flying low over the white landscape, the snow-burdened upper branches of an occasional tree streaking by beneath her, Ursa grinned broadly. The biting air blasting her beautiful, flawless face felt pleasant to her as she carved through it. Once again, her sleek body was proving to be the most powerful and agile "flying machine" that the planet had ever seen, but her smile was not a reflection of her remarkable aerial abilities. The Kryptonian exile was merely amusing herself thinking about the defeated males she had left kneeling on the ground.

She did not feel the cold. Under this weak yellow sun, her thin garment and her long, black boots were perfectly comfortable in all environments, from the near-absolute-zero frigid wastes of outer space to the fiery edges of the golden star itself. Extreme temperatures meant nothing to her. She was beginning to understand: whilst she remained in this solar system, she quite simply could not be harmed. Or scratched. Or bruised. Or even be made to feel slightly uncomfortable.

The same could not be said for the men she had ordered to kneel. Their puny bodies could not withstand the cold temperatures for long, even if they were wearing many layers of thick garments. Ursa was well aware that making them wait, exposed to the elements, without food or water or warmth, for any length of time would be more than many of them would be able to survive. Such pathetic creatures!

She chuckled to herself, imagining the suffering of the men, knowing that they were too terrified of her return to dare to stand or to move, no matter how cold and hungry they became. She wondered how many of them would die before the others realised she wasn't coming back...

Soon however, she put the men and their little military base out of her mind. Now that she had extracted from their commander the name and location of his superior, she had no further interest in them. Their fate had briefly amused her, but they were too insignificant to take up a single further moment of her considerations.

Sparing no more thought for the males freezing to death, Ursa turned her mind instead to the information their commander had furnished. She was travelling in the direction he had given for the town where, he had claimed, she would find his superior, a male called General Barazhov. The man's rank stirred memories of Zod, her lover and former comrade; the only other being she had ever felt affection for. The only male who had inspired in her something other than homicidal contempt.

She had yet to meet this Barazhov, but already she knew he would not prove worthy of the title General. Her General had been a companion, an equal. This Earth creature would be nothing more than all the others of his species: weak, and helpless.

She lifted her head, studying the horizon for signs of life. A tiny, single building caught her gaze. It could not be the population settlement that she was seeking, but as the only non-natural feature in view, it drew her attention. Her clear and bright brown eyes focussed on the distant, but ever-nearing edifice in a way that no native of the planet could ever match. In an instant, the far away building appeared as if it were close, her remarkable Kyrptonian powers allowing her to study it in tiny detail, even to peer through its walls and examine its contents.

The building was obviously some kind of dwelling. There were three Earth creatures inside, seated around an extremely primitive stove, clustering around the heat-source. Their vision could not pierce solid objects as hers did, but even if they had left their tiny house and looked at the sky, their puny eyes would not have been powerful enough to spot her from so far away. As she shot through the air, flying faster than the planet's flying machines but at an altitude that kept her only just above the tops of the tallest trees, Ursa knew that the trio were completely unaware of her approach.

It did not matter that the two men and one woman were unaware of her. It would have made no difference had they known that she was passing. Even if they were waiting for her, armed with a massive array of weapons, the woman from Krypton knew that the three natives could not hope to delay her in any way. With her amazing powers, all the creatures of the planet combined could not oppose her will!

Ursa grinned as she rocketed towards the tiny building. Its occupants were so insignificant compared to her might. Like all the inhabitants of Earth, so utterly helpless in the face of her goddess-like powers, these three were hers to ignore, to command or to destroy according to her desire. She did not slow her supersonic flight as she approached their little dwelling. They were not worthy of even an instant of her limitless time.

She was almost directly above them now. Still smiling, she narrowed her eyes. Two bright red beams of heat energy shot from her pupils, instantly piercing the wooden roof of the structure. The twin lasers converged on the metal stove, heating it in a fraction of a heartbeat until it glowed red and then white. The air all around was warmed to temperatures close to those on the surface of the planet's sun.

There was no time for the two men and one woman to form cries of shock before their flesh burnt. They were dead before the stove dissolved into a ball of flame that destroyed the three corpses and reduced their home to charred dust. The blaze soon died down, partly extinguished by a pool of molten snow. As Ursa passed overhead, chuckling at her handiwork, the black smoke rising into the sky behind her was the only proof that three people and their home had existed at that spot moments before.

They had not presented any threat to her. In the absence of any witnesses, their deaths did not serve as a warning, or a demonstration of her power. There had been no need for her violence, no justification for the act. She had destroyed them purely for her own amusement. Because she could. And there was nothing, nothing at all on the planet to prevent her. Her superiority was absolute. General Barazhov and his men would be the next to learn that fact.

She continued her journey towards the population settlement where she'd been told she would find the General. Her laughter and the grin of satisfaction brought on by the casual triple murder faded. She had already consigned her latest kills to her memory, the victims too insignificant to merit further thought. The planet was full of other easy-to-destroy, puny creatures like them.

The sun had risen over the snowy landscape. Ursa stared into the distance, looking for any sign of the promised settlement. Soon enough, she saw it: a haze of smoke and pollution typical of Earth towns and cities. The ground beneath the dirty air was still obscured by the planet's curve and it was not until a few moments later that it became visible. Then, quickly, buildings started to appear on the horizon. Quite a few buildings.

Every instant of supersonic flight brought her ever closer and allowed her superhuman vision to make out more and more details. This had to be the town of which the commander had told her. It was quite a sizeable settlement, she realised, studying the many edifices. Not as large as some of the cities she had seen, but still far from tiny.

As seemed to be the custom on the planet, the tallest edifices were concentrated together near the centre of the town. She was close enough now to see the primitive vehicles moving on the streets and the pedestrians walking alongside. Her Kryptonian powers allowed her to see through the walls of the buildings and examine the many people inside them. Ursa estimated that there were as many as a hundred thousand Earth creatures in the town. The scale of the population did not cause her concern. A hundred million such beings were as powerless before her as a single individual. They would all bow to her in time.

She flew over the roofs of a cluster of small buildings that marked the outer edges of the town. Locating her target, the so-called "General" Barazhov, would take her some time. She did not even know what he looked like. The woman from Krypton cast her gaze over and through some of the larger constructions of the town, but found no obvious clues as to where a General might be found.

Slowing to a halt in mid-air, she paused in the sky and looked down at the hundreds of people below her. Anchored to the ground by the planet's pathetic gravity and moving about so slowly, even in their noisy vehicles, they truly looked weak and vulnerable. So puny! So helpless! Even the military were powerless to protect them.

The military! Of course! Ursa's stern features softened slightly as her lips stretched into a smile. An idea was forming in her mind. Instead of searching for the General, she would make him come to her. She would give him no choice. He would have to make himself known to her. It would be the only way he could save the lives of his people...

Her smile gave way to a broad grin and her brown eyes sparkled with happy anticipation as she considered how she might go about the task of attracting this Barazhov's attention. Glancing down at the town laid out beneath her, she spotted a wide, open space between a group of buildings and streets near its centre. It seemed an ideal location to begin. Turning in the air with fluid grace, she flew downwards.

 

 

CHAPTER 9

Day One 08:03 hrs GMT

There were only a few pedestrians out in the square that morning. It was far too cold for strolling. Those who had no choice walked briskly towards their destinations, wrapped up in their warmest clothes. A swirling, freezing wind played with the tiny flakes of snow falling from the pure white sky and stung the eyes of anyone who lifted their head, even for a moment.

As a result of the weather conditions, no-one saw the woman clad in a strange, thin black garment and long shiny black boots as she descended from above. Not until her heels were barely ten meters from the snowy ground. She was coming down slowly, looking around herself with undisguised and haughty contempt when, suddenly, a woman whose head was almost entirely hidden under a fur hat and a thick woollen scarf pointed and screamed. "An angel! An angel is coming down from heaven!"

All those within earshot turned quickly, first to see the woman who had shouted and then, following her extended finger, to see the subject of her exclamation. A young man, no older than twenty-five, ran as best as the deep snow would allow towards the pointer. "That's no angel!" he hissed. "That's one of the aliens from TV!"

By now, everyone on the ground was starting to move. An older man on the far side of the square dropped the four bulging shopping bags he had been carrying and stared, open mouthed at the beautiful female as she descended the final few meters to the street. Two middle-aged women, walking near by, froze briefly to stare at the bizarre sight, then glanced at each other in panic and turning their backs on the new arrival, broke into an uncomfortable jog.

A young couple, their heavy-coated arms locked, were looking frantically around themselves, perhaps wondering if there were any more underdressed people floating down from the sky. The girl turned to her lover. "She's one of those three!" she whispered urgently, her face white with fear. "We have to get away from her!"

Her companion shot a glance at the alien, just in time to see her high-heeled boots coming to rest on the snow. "I thought they were all dead!" he whispered back.

"Do you think we should run?" asked the girl.

"Maybe we should just walk away slowly and hope she doesn't notice us???" the young man suggested, his voice trembling.

Ursa placed her hands on her hips as she surveyed the various creatures in front of her. Their weakness was highlighted by the multiple layers of garments they were wrapped up in to protect their fragile bodies from the cold. Cold! The atmospheric temperature was barely below the freezing point of water! Such pathetic beings.

Her superhuman sense of hearing allowed her to eavesdrop on a hushed conversation between two of the humans. They had obviously recognised her from coverage in the planet's primitive media and were discussing the best tactic for escaping the scene. They were wondering if they should run or try to slip away slowly.

Didn't these creatures understand anything? Hadn't they seen her fly just now? How did they plan to outrun her - a vastly superior life-form with powers that allowed her to move at almost the speed of light? And how did they expect to creep away unnoticed from her if she could hear the beating of their hearts from ten thousand paces away? Such ignorance deserved punishment. "If it's warmth they need, I will provide it," Ursa thought, malevolently.

She focussed her eyes on the couple, directing a quick, powerful beam of her heat vision at them. Two red lasers shot instantly from her beautiful brown irises, the twin lines of energy meeting where the two Earth creatures stood. The snow beneath their feet melted to water that boiled away in the extreme heat created by the Kryptonian goddess' angry stare. Before that, the stellar temperatures had incinerated the endless layers of clothing and both of the bodies within, leaving nothing but fine ash that quickly dispersed on the wind.

Ursa had also spotted a pair female creatures running away from her on the opposite side of the open area she had landed in. Despite the greater distance, she vaporised them with similar ease and efficiency with a second brief blast from her eyes. They had been running past a long bench when she targeted them. Although it was several paces from the focus of the heat, it burst into flames and continued to burn once the two women had vanished.

There wasn't time for any of her first four victims to scream, but a couple of the other humans who witnessed the attacks managed to give voice to their terror. She grinned in delight at the panic she was causing. No-one else was running from her now, but an elderly male had dropped to his knees to start hurriedly digging in the snow with his hands. The excruciatingly slow movements of the planet's natives were still a wonder to her. She watched him for a while as he burrowed into the frozen ground.

Andreyi had seen the news reports on TV of the three alien invaders causing mayhem in an American city. He'd also seen the bulletin in which their deaths had been announced. His first reaction once he recognised the female member of the trio was confusion. Hadn't the three evil extraterrestrials been killed? But when he saw her taking the lives of a young couple with lasers that shot from her eyes before dispatching other two women with similar casual ruthlessness, he knew that at least one of the aliens was still very much alive.

He also knew that merely by remaining in her presence, his own life was in grave danger. The deaths of the two fleeing women were enough to convince him that running was not a good option. At his age, he wouldn't be able to go far anyway. Many decades before, he'd been in the army and his military training came to the fore as he searched the big mostly featureless town square for something that might offer shelter. The nearest tree was thirty meters away, and it offered little promise of protection. Not from an alien who could turn people to ash with her eyes.

The only thing he could do was to bury himself in the snow and hope that she wouldn't see him. It was hard work for a man of his years to scoop out a burrow, but terror overruled his aching limbs and he worked quickly to hollow out a space large enough to fit inside. He crawled into the half-completed hole he dug and began wriggling his body to dislodge the snow beneath so that he could bury himself ever deeper.

The woman from Krypton watched the old man trying to hide. Under a yellow sun, like that of Earth, her eyes could see through solid objects, and she tracked the male's movements under the white covering as clearly as if he had been above the snow. Quickly, she grew bored of his pathetic efforts.

She narrowed her eyes in his direction and felt the familiar sensation of her heat vision being activated. A moment later, the snow that had been surrounding the old man had been turned to steam, and the old man himself had become charred dust. Ursa allowed herself a brief grin of satisfaction as she observed the effects of her power. Then she cast her gaze over the remaining creatures.

None of the others were trying to run now, or to hide. They were not moving at all, other than to tremble in fear. A young man, his face turning suddenly extremely pale when her eyes fell on him, raised his arms into the air above his head. Ursa recognised the gesture of surrender. One by one, the other surviving pedestrians began to copy it until, looking around, she saw nine sets of hands held aloft.

These nine had clearly come to understand the impossibility of escaping her. There was no need to take their lives. Incinerating them would be purely for her amusement. She was about to start the massacre, when she was distracted by the sounds of a vehicle turning a corner behind her. With her hands still on her hips, she turned her back on the surrendering creatures and gracefully rotated to face the vehicle.

It was passing along the street that lead down one side of the open space where she and the pedestrians were standing. The exiled Kryptonian watched the shocked face of the man inside the vehicle as he stared at the scene. He clearly hadn't noticed her yet, so intently was he staring at the people with their arms raised and the bench which was still aflame.

At the wheel of his car, Piotr turned into the main square as he had done thousands of times before. It was a quiet weekend early morning and there were hardly any other cars on the road. As he instinctively checked the side of the street ahead, he noticed a woman standing with her hands in the air. The unusual stance made him look again. That was when he noticed two men about twenty meters behind her, also adopting the same posture. Curious now, he looked around the square and saw other people dotted about, none of them moving, all of them with their arms aloft.

They were all looking in the same direction. He eased his foot off the accelerator slightly to buy himself more time to investigate. One person - a woman - had not lifted her hands, but had planted them on her hips. She seemed to be the one they were all looking at. Only she wasn't looking at them. She was looking at him, in his car.

What on earth was she wearing? She must be freezing in that strange outfit, thought Piotr. It was unthinkable that someone might be outside in this weather with a top that was so open at the neck. The woman was turning her head to follow him as he drove past. There was something familiar about her, he thought, although he couldn't say from where. She was certainly beautiful. Out of this world, even.

Out of this world! Of course! That was where he knew her from! The television news! She was one of the three superhuman aliens who had almost taken over the planet. "Shit!" he thought. "This is not good!" Adrenaline began to pump into his veins. He slammed his foot down, making the car accelerate with a jolt. He had to get away from her fast, and tell the police.

Ursa smiled as the vehicle suddenly picked up speed. It had taken a while, but the creature driving it had finally worked out who she was. They were so inferior! Their movements, their thought processes, even their vehicles were slow!

She was still smiling as the twin beams of red light shot out from her eyes, catching up with the fleeing vehicle in less time than it took a human's heart to beat once. Recalling how she had once stood by Zod's side and watched as he had exploited the tanks full of unstable fuel in similar vehicles, she focussed her heat lasers on the reservoir near the back of the primitive machine.

There was a slight pause as the two crimson lines converged on the vehicle. The metal panels nearest the focal point heated quickly until they were glowing. The air all around appeared to waver. Then, with a satisfyingly loud "Boom!", the machine exploded. The windows of the nearest building shattered. A large ball of orange fire erupted from the back of the vehicle, reddening as it grew outwards. Pieces of burnt and twisted metal were flung into the air and began to crash down all around, some carrying the flames with them.

The last pieces of debris fell. Gradually, the bright fire started to give way to thick black smoke that rose into the cold air. Faces began to appear in the windows of the edifices all around the open area. Ursa heard the sounds of people shouting and running from behind the buildings. In the distance, the bi-tonal siren sound of one of those vehicles the planet's various authorities loved to use - the kind that had the flashing lights.

"Good." she thought. "Let them gather here. Their General Barazhov will come and kneel before me to save their puny lives."

 

 

CHAPTER 10

Day One 08:15 hrs GMT

Usually, Sunday mornings were quiet, especially at this time of year. Usually, the officers on duty just sat in their cars, or drove in endless circles around the town's almost-deserted streets.

Today was different. Goranov and Brevski heard the explosion from a few streets away, and had already turned around and switched on the siren by the time the radio cackled, informing them of the as yet unidentified blast. As they neared the reported site, they could see black smoke rising above the tops of buildings.

"I reckon it's a car burning." Brevski speculated. "You don't get that kind of black smoke from a house-fire." They turned the corner into the square. There were people standing like statues all over the pedestrianised area and the policemen peered at them in puzzlement.

"There's your car!" Goranov pointed.

"There's another bit of it over on this side," the driver added. "Looks like it's been properly blown up."

"What? As in ???blown up by a bomb?'" asked his colleague.

Brevski craned his neck to get a better look at the heap of twisted, blacked metal. "A bomb or maybe some kind of-"

"-Look out!" Goranov shouted.

Brevski snapped his eyes back to the road. He'd checked the street in front just moments ago and had seen nothing. Suddenly, there was a woman standing right in the middle of the road, directly in their path, her hands on her hips. She was looking straight at them, but didn't seem to be in any way alarmed by her predicament. In fact she seemed calm. The driver slammed on the brakes. "Shit!" he said. "Where did she come from?"

The patrol car's tyres screeched as they scrapped the road surface, trying to get a good grip in the icy conditions. It was immediately obvious that they were not going to stop in time. The next few seconds seemed to stretch out for the two men in the car. They stared in shock and disbelief at the woman clad in a strange, thin black garment as she held herself dead still, seemingly oblivious to the impending collision.

"Oh god!" Goranov suddenly shouted. Something had clicked into place in his mind. A recognition. "She's one of the three aliens!" Brevski looked at his partner in stunned silence. Horror filled him as he realised the truth of the words.

Ursa had moved across the open area in less time than it takes a native of the planet to blink. None of the creatures present would have been able to follow her movements, not even the two in the vehicle she had rushed to intercept. As she faced the on-coming primitive machine, utterly confident in the knowledge that it, or its occupants, could not hurt her in any way, she unthinkingly rested her hands on her hips, adopting a stance that reflected her arrogant assurance in her own superiority.

She looked down with contempt at the two panicking males inside the vehicle. The one responsible for controlling the thing was desperately trying to make it stop, but the mechanism was so pathetic that it could not halt itself even at such a ponderously slow speed. "Very well," she thought to herself. "If they cannot stop themselves, I will have to do it for them."

Her hands remained on her hips. The haughty expression of disinterested, total superiority remained on her beautiful face. The heels and toes of her long, shiny black boots remained planted, immovably, on the ground. She did not move. She did not flinch. She did not even blink. She merely held her position and watched, half-bored, as the front of the Earth vehicle slammed into her slender waist and instantly began to crumple around her, the steel of its construction hopelessly mismatched against impenetrable Kryptonian skin and bones.

The machine's momentum continued to cause more and more of it to fold up against itself, pressing up against her invulnerable body as it fought, and failed, to move her. The two creatures inside the vehicle were thrown forward by the impact, one of them slamming his head on the circular steering device, cutting open his skin. The other was restrained by the thick strap across his body and bounced back into his seat.

A column of pressured steam rose from the mangled metal. An Earth woman in such close proximity to the hot gas would have suffered irreparable burns. But the goddess from Krypton merely blinked instinctively and otherwise ignored the cloud as it dispersed.

Looking down with undisguised contempt at the two males, she spoke. Her voice was clear and feminine, but her tone was one of total command. "Get out," she ordered.

The two men immediately began struggling to open the doors beside them. The frame of the vehicle was badly distorted, and their puny efforts were unsuccessful at first. Finally one of them succeeded and stepped out. The other gave up trying to force the door on his side and instead slid over the two seats to leave by the same exit.

They stood, in silence, looking at her in terrified discomfort. The one with the wound dripped blood from his head onto the snow. The other was pressing his fingers into his lower back, indicating that he had suffered some sort of internal injury in the tiny impact. So puny!

Ursa knew that they were waiting for her instructions, too frightened to speak or move lest they might displease her. "Go with the others," she commanded them. She could barely hide her smug satisfaction as the pair, already defeated, obeyed immediately. Limping awkwardly, they made slow way towards the centre of the open area.

Paying them no further attention, she looked about, her bright, superhuman brown eyes seeing the inside of the buildings all around, and the streets behind them. She spotted a couple more vehicles racing towards the big open area where she was standing. People were running over as well. And there was plenty of activity inside the surrounding edifices.

She calculated that the next arrivals on the scene would be a big group of panicking Earth creatures about to emerge from the door of a large, grand structure on one side of the big open area. Effortlessly, she took to the air, her boots leaving the ground with languid grace. A moment later, and a hundred paces away, they settled back down on the snow, immediately in front of the about-to-be-opened door.

When they heard the bang, everyone had left their desks and ran to the window. They could see the burning car, and the people scattered about. Then, one of Mischa's colleagues shouted "Look! One of those extraterrestrials!" Everyone knew what she meant right away. The few who hadn't seen pictures of the evil superhuman trio had read or heard plenty about them. The others recognised the woman down on the square from television news reports.

"What's she doing here?" someone asked.

"Are the other two around as well?" another voice enquired.

Mischa said nothing, but stared in disbelief as she watched the scene below. Suddenly, the alien woman had vanished, only to appear again, a moment later, directly in front of a police car. She turned away, scared of the gory impact and heard a sound more like two cars crashing than a woman being knocked down.

The gasps all around her told her that something extraordinary had happened. She looked and saw the woman in black still standing exactly as she had been before, only now with the front portion of the car wrapped around her lower half. The police vehicle had sustained more damage than she had! So it was true: this really was one of the superhuman aliens.

"The aliens are attacking us!" screamed the normally unflappable head of her Department. His panic spread through the other observers.

"We're not safe in here!" someone shouted. "Everybody get out of the building now!"

The next few moments were pure chaos. They ran out of the office, shouting and yelling. In the corridor, they bumped into other groups from other rooms, all shouting "The aliens are invading!" People began to run out of the offices on the other side of the building, immediately getting caught up in the commotion. The same thing was happening on other floors too. There was a stampede for the stairs.

People fell and were stepped on by their colleagues. Mischa tripped on an abandoned briefcase and cut her arm on a wall-mounted fire extinguisher, but no-one heard her cry of pain above the general panic. People pushed passed her and she found herself forced towards the back of the mass exodus. Meanwhile, the front runners had almost made it to the street entrance.

The first to reach the door threw it open, and ran, head-first, into the outstretched arm of the subject of all their terror. The arm was thin and female, at the end of a slender and equally female body. It should have broken when the big man blundered uncontrollably into it. His momentum should have knocked the petite attached body aside like a bowling ball clipping a pin. But that is not what happened.

The woman's arm made a metallic "Clang!" as the man's forehead struck. He staggered back, concussed, as the arm stayed motionless and utterly unaffected. The rest of the crowd surged forwards, unaware of what was happening. Someone tripped on the first man. Another man failed to notice the outstretched arm blocking the exit and charged into it, the impact with his chest winding him and sending him reeling back into the onrushing mob.

People were falling everywhere now, tripping over one another. The people at the back of the group continued to try and push forward. A short man, catching a glimpse of the daylight of the open doorway close ahead, tried to break through the chaos, clambering over a couple of people rolling on the floor. Only too late did he realise what was blocking the exit.

Desperately, he tried to duck under the alien's arm, only to be pushed forward by the mass behind him. His neck was shoved against the unmovable limb. The pressure on his back grew. He felt his throat being squeezed between the crowd of people at his back and the slim, alien arm in front. No sound left his lips when he tried to scream. He vision started to fade.

Ursa let the first couple of runners bounce off her back into the building. She kept her arm at a right-angle to her body, knowing that her single, delicate-looking limb was more than powerful enough to hold back the panicking mob. Those at the back of the mass clearly did not know what was happening at the front, because they were continuing to push the others forwards. A male's neck was getting crushed against her arm. Noticing his face turning blue, she smiled briefly at his helplessness before looking back to the rest of the crowd.

More and more of the creatures were falling under the feet of the others. The pressure of the crush continued to increase as more of them made their way down the stairs to the entrance. The combined force of the desperate will of the crowd was concentrated on her single, slender arm, but she held it firm, comfortably able to withstand the pressure.

"It's her!" one of the creatures screamed. "Everyone back inside!" The Kryptonian exile almost laughed at the sheer panic her presence was causing. Now the crowd were moving in different directions, some trying to get back into the building, others still trying to force their way to the exit. The creature whose neck was pressed into her arm was dead, along with five or six others. And she hadn't even moved against them yet, other than to block their exit with her arm!

At the back of the mob, Mischa was unsure what was happening at the door. She knew that it was blocked for some reason, and that people were getting hurt, some of them badly, as they were pressed against each other. Fearful of the crush, she held back, waiting for the exit to become clear. Then she heard someone shouting that the alien was out there.

She turned around to run back up the stairs, just in time to see two bright red beams flash over her head, hitting the ceiling. The plaster glowed crimson for an instant and then the concrete above seemed to explode. Big pieces of shattered stone fell all around, some hitting her colleagues, knocking them down. People were moving towards her now from the door area. She had to choose between getting trampled or running the risk of a chunk of masonry falling on her.

She decided to run. She heard a low rumble over her head, but was too frightened to look up. She missed the sight of a portion of heavy steel girder, sliced in two by the powerful lasers and freed by the already dislodged stone, falling from the ceiling. It hit her a moment later, her body seeming to disappear beneath its massive bulk.

Ursa had lifted her beautiful head and narrowed her crystal clear brown eyes at the ceiling of the entrance hall. Two beams of pure energy shot from her pupils, converging on the white surface, and immediately causing a large amount of material to become displaced. Huge portions of it fell from above, some landing on those trying to follow the instruction to get back inside the building. More screaming ensued. A thick length of metal, presumably part of the edifice's structure, came down, instantly flattening a woman and completely blocking the way back into the building for the rest of the crowd.

The Kryptonian smiled. The survivors were utterly trapped now. Some of them were still screaming, others were sobbing, and the rest coughing as the air filled with thick dust. Imperiously, her arm still held out blocking the door, she addressed them in a loud, strident voice.

"Silence!"

The screaming stopped abruptly. The sobbing faded fast. Even the coughing was, largely, brought under control. Ursa was pleased with the dramatic effect of her single word. The creatures understood her power, her complete dominance. They were hers to command, so she commanded them, calmly and with total confidence. "Outside! With the others!"

At last, let her arm fall to her side, removing the impassable barrier and watched as, one by one, the surviving creatures from the building shuffled nervously past her to join the growing collection of her prisoners. As they walked by, she studied them with a mixture of mild interest and mocking contempt, enjoying the way her scrutiny heightened the terror of each one she looked at.

A fraction of an instant later, the door of another building, on the opposite side of the open area, was opened. Another group of creatures were about to burst out into the street. Having moved at almost the speed of light itself, Ursa was already waiting for them, her face coldly expressionless, her hands once again on her hips.

 

 

CHAPTER 11

Day One 08:25 hrs GMT

Piotr had been asleep when the first explosion rattled his window. He woke with a start and sat up to peer down at the square below. He saw the flames and panicked pedestrians. And he saw the woman clad in an usual, thin black outfit that seemed completely inappropriate for the weather. Immediately he realised what was happening. "The aliens are invading!" he said out-loud as he ran, still in his pyjamas, out of his apartment.

Other people in the building had also been disturbed. They were coming out of their flats in their gowns and night-clothes, heading for the stairs. Being a light sleeper, and particularly nimble on his feet, Piotr made it down to the big main entrance door first. Another young man was only a meter or so behind him and four or five more residents were in a tight group not much further back.

He released the big catch on the heavy old door and pushed it open, ready to run down the building's steps and turn sharply to sprint off the square, away from the hostile extraterrestrial he had seen from his window. But there was a flaw with his plan. The doorway was blocked. Blocked by the slim, female alien.

Piotr froze in fear at the shocking turn of events. In the moments that followed, he slowly took in the sight confronting him. She was standing right in front of the entrance, her face beautiful with its perfect complexion, clear brown eyes, and dark lips set in an emotionless expression.

Her unusual costume left her neck exposed, and some of the unblemished skin of her upper-body. He could see the shape of her chest under the strange material, and felt himself becoming stirred by it, regardless of the terror he felt. Her hands were planted on her curvaceous hips, emphasising the alluring undulations of her body, and indicating a supreme confidence that unnerved him. A gap in the side of the lower portion of her garment allowed him a glimpse of thigh, the flesh, once again, totally flawless. Beneath, long sexy shiny black boots completed her outfit.

He was breathing heavily, partly from the exertions of running down stairs, partly from fear and partly from the lust filling his thoughts as he stared at the desirable woman standing in his path. The whole purpose of running had been to escape the aliens. Now he found himself face-to-face with one of them and he seemed incapable of any coherent thought, let alone any movement. "Come on, Piotr!" said an urgent voice in his head, "Pull yourself together and act!"

Ursa had already examined the creatures running towards the door before the lead male had even managed to throw it open. Her X-ray vision and superhuman speed of thought allowed her to study the interiors of all the buildings around her. She was already more than familiar with the unimpressive appearance of the creature now standing before her, panting as he stared.

The Kryptonian exile looked at the small crowd gathering in front of her in the entrance room of the building with contempt. There was nothing to interest her, only more puny Earth-beings. Her aloof gaze lighted on the nearest male. She noted the desire that was so evident in his eyes and his body. How could a vastly inferior creature like this even dare to entertain such thoughts about her, a veritable goddess by comparison? Such impudence deserved instant punishment.

Her lips stretched slightly as the beginnings of a smile appeared on her impassive features. She loved to exercise her power over the people of this planet, especially the males. Even anticipating her next move was sufficient to mildly excite her. As this particular man seemed so eager to touch her, she would grant him the contact he wished for. As well as providing her with some brief amusement, it would also serve as an excellent demonstration of her total superiority to all the others present.

Without hurrying, she removed her right hand from its station on her hip and calmly reached for the male's shoulder. As she curled her slender fingers around him, she felt a momentary shiver running through his body. The merest touch of her hand through his clothes seemed to be thrilling him on a very personal level. Slowly, she tightened her grip. She did not hide her own delight when the creature screamed as her fingers noisily crushed his bone.

Piotr did not notice the alien looking at his face, as his own eyes were locked, in a trance-like state, on her torso. Too late, he saw her begin to reach for him. She was moving slowly; slowly enough for him to try and react, if only his brain had been functioning normally. He watched her feminine hand approach him, and felt the warmth of her firm touch on his shoulder. Being touched by the object of his lust made him spasm with desire. She was so beautiful!

The delight did not last long. He felt her fingertips pressing uncomfortably into him. Quickly the grip became painful and then unbearable. A cry of pain left his lips. He could hear his shoulder crunching under the extraterrestrial's digits. How was it possible for such a feminine hand to exert such an agonising pressure? His mind filled with pain. Panicking, he looked at her lovely face, perhaps hoping to appeal to her for mercy. But far from appearing susceptible to his pleas, he saw with horror that she was grinning in triumph at his predicament.

As he struggled to come to terms with what was happening, he felt a sharp pull on his damaged shoulder. His feet came off the ground. The crushing, unbreakable hold on him seemed to grow worse for a moment. Something jerked his entire body with tremendous force. Suddenly the pain in his shoulder eased. She was no longer holding him. She had released him.

Now, new agonies were registering. He felt as if his spine had been violently stretched. With a shock, he suddenly realised that he was now flying through the air. Had the alien really managed to get him airborne with just that single, petite hand? Surely that couldn't be possible!

Snowy ground was rushing by beneath him. He caught a flashing glimpse of someone standing far below. How high was he? How fast was he travelling? Surely it wasn't real??? He was almost on the other side of the fifty-meter wide square, his arms and legs flying helplessly all around him. As he turned in the air, the whiteness of the sky and the ground became confused. He felt dizzy and faint. Then he caught a fleeting glimpse of a different colour. The colour of the stone wall of a building.

Ursa had briefly paused as her fingers sunk into the skin and bone of the male. She took a moment to enjoy his scream, and to admire the damage she had so easily caused him. She noticed him looking directly into her face, his expression one of desperate pleading. She could not help but return it with a broad, triumphant grin.

She quickly assessed that the creature was not worth of any more of her time. Holding tightly onto his badly wounded shoulder, she lifted his entire body from the floor with her single arm and flung him over her head in a single, effortless gesture. Her shapely, but slender, arm found the task of raising a fully-grown man and hurling him through the air to be barely noticeable.

She put no extra effort into the casual toss, and yet she threw the creature with enough strength to send him spinning through the air. He was still flying as her hand, no longer holding his shoulder, found its way back to her hip. The woman from Kypton heard the dull thud of his body impacting high up on the side of another building some sixty paces behind her, but ignored it.

A moment later, her superhuman senses picked up the sound of his corpse, having bounced from the wall, finally hitting the snow-covered ground. She did not turn around to admire her work. After all, she knew that the future promised innumerable more opportunities for her to observe the fatal effects of her power on the fragile inhabitants of Earth.

Most of the twelve remaining men and women still inside the building had been able to see their neighbour's stunning flight and its sickening conclusion well enough. The spectacular murder sparked new terror amongst them. All of them, without exception, remained motionless. The cold air rushing into from outside was not the main reason why they were trembling. They were terrified of doing anything that might provoke the wrath of the alien woman who had so easily, and apparently so happily, killed one of their number.

They watched, a dozen pairs of frightened eyes looking at the two, bright brown irises of their tormentor, knowing that their fates rested fully on the whim of the beautiful alien. She seemed to be looking over them, as if judging them and finding them hopelessly lacking, her air of arrogant superiority only serving to heighten their unease. Finally, she spoke.

Her words were cold, her tone one of command. "Come out," she ordered. "Stand with the others." In complete surrender, they shuffled out, past her, to join the ever growing crowd of people waiting in the square.

Satisfied with this latest addition to her collection of prisoners, Ursa left the men and women to make their pathetically slow way towards the middle of the open area.

More Earth creatures were starting to emerge from the other buildings now. Taking to the air with unthinking grace, she flew across the ever-more crowded space towards them.

 

 

To be continued...