by Tabico (email@example.com)
(mc, sf, nc)
DISCLAIMER: This material is for adults only; it contains explicit sexual imagery and non-consensual relationships. If you are offended by this type of material or you are under legal age in your area, do NOT continue.
Copyright (c) 2005 Tabico (firstname.lastname@example.org)
All rights reserved; this story is not to be reproduced in any form for profit without the express written permission of the author. This story may be freely circulated only in its entirety and with this notice attached.
An alien threat has come to Millennium City, but the heroines of Millennium Force are there to combat it!
What they don't know is that they are what it has come for.
Inspired by some artwork by Vice.
"So," asked the Awe, "what do we know about these 'Ziim'?"
The Millennium Force were sitting around their conference table. At least, those of them currently in Millennium City were. Lady Thunder, Avocet, and Dynamic were out of town. Off of the planet, actually, helping the Upholders fight daemons in the Forsaken Dimension.
Which left Dare Damsel, the Awe, and Calico holding down the fort. Normally, that wouldn't have been a problem. Millennium City had no more than the usual levels of petty crime and violence to deal with, and the three of them were more than a match for any mugger or street gang. In fact, any of them alone were.
Dare Damsel tapped a button on her miniconsole and the room dimmed. An image of a six-legged creature, wiry and without any apparent head, came up on the viewscreen. A human silhouette next to it underscored its size, easily twice that of a person.
"Well," Dare Damsel began, "the Upholders and the Crimson League have both fought them before. Apparently, the Ziim are some sort of alien super-race. I don't mean that they are super-powered or anything, I mean that they take over other races and incorporate them into their own. So they are a race of many races."
"Like the Borg," Calico observed. "Wicked."
Dare Damsel gave her eyes a quick roll. "Yes, like the Borg. Only they aren't technologically based. When the Upholders fought them, it was on the planet Kalimdar, and the Ziim were trying to invade in a more traditional fashion. We don't have any pictures, but apparently they had huge bio-engineered ships dropping all sorts of creatures onto the planet. Creatures genetically designed for war."
"But the Upholders defeated them," the Awe stated.
"Indeed." Dare Damsel clicked a button, and the image changed to a humanoid biped. "Now this is one of the sort of Ziim that showed up in Missouri and took over the town of Riverdon. I spoke with Captain Colossal of the Crimson League at some length about that; apparently, the Ziim were trying to invade Earth in a much more subtle fashion. They had some creatures who could take over minds, and had turned all of the townspeople into their slaves."
"Captain Colossal," Calico snorted. "Nice name."
"... Anyway, he said that most of the people were controlled by parasitic creepy-crawlies on their backs, and once the Ziim hive mind was destroyed, and the creepy-crawlies removed, the people went back to normal. Needed counseling, of course."
"A hive mind?" the Awe asked.
"Yes. Apparently, the Ziim are sort of like insects; they have one mind, centered on a huge brain-like thing in their hive. Destroy that, and their ability to communicate and to think is badly impaired until they can create a new one."
"I see. You said that 'most' of the people were controlled by these parasites. What about the rest?"
"A few of them appeared to be working for the Ziim voluntarily, and were thrown in jail. And a few... the Ziim had some sort of biological vats or pods or something, and they used them to... change people. Turn them into Ziim. Alter their physical bodies."
Dare Damsel shook her head. "We don't know. When they were captured, they killed themselves by exploding some sort of internal organ."
Calico stuck out her tongue. "Gross."
"Can you please be serious?" Dare Damsel asked, exasperated. "If Protectron is right, we could already have a Ziim nest here in Millennium!"
<i>My-analysis-of-surveillance-data-indicates-a-seventy-four-percent-chance-that-Ziim-are-in-Millennium-City</i> the computer stated. <i>If-the-observed-individuals-have-been-subverted-by-the-Ziim-then-there-are-at-present-at-least-thirty-subverted-humans-with-a-standard-deviation-of-six-point-four-currently-living-in-Millenium-City</i>
"What do you recommend, Dare Damsel?" the Awe asked.
Dare Damsel frowned. "I don't know. On the one hand, we should stop them before they get any more innocent people. And if they are... converting people, biologically, then we have no time to lose. On the other hand... caution dictates that we should wait for the rest of the Force. None of the three of us are immune to mind control. I'd feel more comfortable if Avocet were here to monitor the situation."
The Awe nodded. "Protectron, have you stepped up surveillance?"
"Oh screw that," Calico said, springing to her feet. "Let's just go get them! I'm not afraid of any little bugs taking over my mind, I'll shred them before they can get close. Besides, aren't our costumes made of impregnite? How could they get to us?"
Dare Damsel shook her head. "We don't know what else they can do, Calico. Earth heroes have only ever fought the Ziim twice, and both times there were lots of different types of aliens. It's risky."
Calico shrugged. "So what's not? Come on, there could be helpless people being Body Snatched right now. Protectron, where is this nest?"
"So we head up there, break in, round everyone up, find the big brain, and smash it. Nipped in the bud." Calico put her hands on her hips and dared them to disagree with her.
"She makes a good case," the Awe said, turning to face Dare Damsel. "However, I feel that waiting would serve us better. Protectron can gather more information about what exactly is at this nest, and where the Hive mind might be, and the rest of the Force may return at any time. How quickly are these possible Ziim spreading, Protectron?"
Dare Damsel nodded. "We should wait, then. The others should be back within a few days, there won't be that many more of the bad guys, and we'll know a lot more once Protectron's Spybots can get into the nest."
"And what about the folks who are being turned into Pod People right now?" Calico demanded angrily.
"We don't know that anyone is. The nest is only just getting started, and it will take them time to set up any sort of conversion facility. Look, Calico, I understand how you feel, but it's just a few days. If the others aren't back soon, we'll hit them ourselves, okay?"
Calico fumed, but sat down again. "I guess I don't have any choice. I'm not going up there by myself."
The human woman opened her eyes, and rose from the conversion pod.
"I am Ziim," she stated. "I am a slave worker. I obey the Master Brain."
The Master Brain reached out to her mind and took over, guiding her naked body out of the pod and up the winding passages to the surface building. Once there, she showered off the slime of the pod and put her human clothes back on. She tucked in her blouse and checked her makeup in the mirror, giving no sign that anything at all had happened to her.
But something had.
Marianne Baker was now fully Ziim. Her brain, redesigned and reprogrammed with the goals of her new race, was in constant touch with the other slave minds of this Hive and with the Master Brain which she belonged to. Her body, externally human, pulsed inside with new organs designed by the Ziim to make her a more useful slave.
She only looked human now.
She left the building, walking past the Ziim-controlled but still human slaves who guarded it, and back to her apartment. In the morning, she would return to work at City Hall as if nothing was wrong.
In her new mind, nothing was. All was proceeding according to plan. She was perfectly happy that she had been turned into a slave. She was Ziim now, and lived only to obey.
The knowledge that she was expendable did not bother her in the slightest. She understood that she was part of a greater plan to improve the Ziim race, and would eagerly give her life, or that of her prior friends, her former family, any human or Ziim at all, if she was instructed to. The race was all. The individual was nothing.
The Master Brain felt the same. It had been brought here as a cyst and grown deep beneath Millennium City with a single purpose. A purpose that the Ziim had devised after their two prior encounters with the super-humans, encounters which had ended in failure each time.
Failures which had, in the minds of the Ziim, been worth it, because they had introduced the Ziim to beings powerful enough to defeat them.
Beings who would make perfect Ziim.
Calico watched Marianne emerge from the building.
<i>I wonder if she's one of them,</i> she thought.
The woman walked off down the street. She looked normal - she dressed nicely - was her walk a little stiff? Dronelike? Or was that just Calico's imagination?
Calico dismissed her. Time enough to round them all up later. This was a surgical strike - a one-woman blitzkrieg to destroy the brain and render these aliens helpless.
She'd studied the files all afternoon - the brains, the slaves, the warriors. Protectron hadn't seen any of those, the big six-armed alien spiders, but then it also hadn't gotten any of its Spybots into the hive, either. It really had no idea what was in there at all.
The brain would just have to be found the old-fashioned way.
Calico pulled her grapnel from her belt. She frowned a moment, feeling the empty spot where her communicator usually was. She'd left it in her room - Protectron would have raised an alarm if it had noticed her headed for Astara Heights after DD had specifically told her not to come here. So she had no backup.
She wouldn't need any. No ten men could overpower her, and if she ran into something she couldn't handle, well, Calico was the Mistress of Escape. Smoke Bombs, flash powder, you name it.
She fired the grapnel, hooked it onto the building opposite, and swung across to a third-story window. A quick twirl with the glass cutter and she was inside.
Then out of the room and down the hall to the stairs. No one around. The lights were off, but cats saw just fine in the dark.
Downstairs, and down again, and she was on the ground floor. Sure enough, guards. But they were facing the front door, not the stairs. Calico peered carefully at them.
There were little tentacles on their necks, emerging from under their shirt collars.
She snuck across to the basement stairs, picked the lock without making any noise at all, and then she was headed down.
Carefully, quietly, she descended the stairs. In the basement were two more guards, staring blankly at the staircase. There was no way around - she'd have to subdue them.
Would the tranquilizer darts work? Maybe not. She'd have to knock heads.
That was okay. Knocking heads was fun.
They weren't any faster than normal people, and they'd have had to have been to stand a chance of stopping Calico. Twelve seconds later, she stood over their unconscious bodies. She slipped her sap back onto her belt.
She risked a peek under one of their shirts, gingerly lifting his collar. A rough-skinned green tentacle crept up the spine, with roots in the flesh every few centimeters.
The rear wall of the basement had been knocked out, and there was a steep shaft going down behind it. Calico peered into it and saw no one. At the bottom, a flickering light. There was a rope ladder, but something about it set off her warning bells, so she unfurled a cord, tied it off to a pipe, and let herself down, holding the rope so that she was at the end. No extra rope to warn anyone below that she was coming.
It went down a good forty feet; somehow, they had tunneled into the bedrock below the city. Calico reached out to touch a wall - smooth, not the sort of tunnel dug by men with picks or jackhammers. She wondered how they had dug it, then pictured a large acid-mouthed alien eating the rock and wished she hadn't.
Then she was at the bottom. Hanging upside-down, she peered into the room. It was lit, and as she looked around she realized that the light was coming from several head-sized glowing bugs wandering idly around the room. Creepy, but they didn't seem to have any pincers or fangs or even eyes.
There weren't any people, and aside from the light-bugs, no aliens. She dropped lightly to the floor. A half dozen tunnels led out of the room.
Her ears picked up the sounds of motion, and squelchier noises that gave her unpleasant mental images. But maybe it was the brain making those sounds. She fingered her claws, hanging from her belt, ready to fit over her hands in an instant.
Reassured, she headed down the hallway leading towards the sounds.
They grew louder. Motion, and wet noises, but no talking. She passed a glowbug standing in the hallway.
Then there was an opening on the side of the hall into a large room. Calico peered in and gasped.
Dozens of people were standing around, some in clothes, some half naked, some totally naked. There were large pods on the ground, green and wrinkly, shaped like a man-sized Idaho potato.
As she watched, one of them opened, a slit on the top pulling apart with a wet sound.
A hand reached up out of it.
Calico stared, horrified. A woman was rising from the pod, naked, covered in green slime. Her eyes were open and stared straight ahead as she raised herself from the pod. She looked like she was deeply hypnotized.
Or a drone.
Calico realized that it was already too late; the aliens were converting people *now*.
The woman stepped out of the pod and walked across the room, striding between dozens of other pods and the people tending them. On some of the bare backs Calico could see the parasites, just like in the pictures, a green lump at the base of the spine above the buttocks and a wiry green root lacing its way up the spine to the neck.
They all moved slowly, their faces blank.
Another woman had taken off her clothes and was stepping gingerly into the open pod. Calico wanted to run in and grab her as she slowly lowered herself into the slimy interior.
Her hands were the last to disappear, releasing the sides of the pod and withdrawing into it. The slit in the pod closed over her.
Okay. That was enough. Forget finding the brain - she had to get out of here, get Dare Damsel and the Awe and come back and Destroy the Whole Place, Right Now. She turned to leave.
There was an alien in the hallway.
Calico froze. It wasn't one of the big six-armed ones. It was smaller than she was, walked on four legs, had a spherical body. It also had two sharp-looking arms in front of it - at least, on the side she was facing.
Her hands went to her belt, and she slid her claws on.
She stared at it.
Then it spoke.
<i>Submit, human,</i> it said.
No, not 'said', 'thought'. It was thinking at her.
"No chance," she muttered. She eyed it carefully, considered where it was standing in the hallway. How fast could those arms move? Could she dart around it on the wall?
<i>Submit, human,</i> echoed in her mind again.
"Not likely." She tensed. From where it was, it could reach the entire passage.
Calico shifted in place. She wanted to... to...
...to get around it. But they were dangerous, arms.
She relaxed a little. She had to consider this, had to think about...
...getting around. It.
Her hands relaxed a little in her claws. It was no threat.
Calico kept looking at it, as she slowly came erect.
She was just standing there, now, calm, relaxed, the unnecessary tension draining from her body.
Its thoughts were waves, pulsing with a strong rhythm, and Calico's own mind was calming down and beginning to pulse in time. She could feel it.
It didn't bother her.
She let go of her claws, let her hands go slack at her sides.
Calico stood erect but relaxed, hands at her sides. Her eyes left the alien and drifted upward, to stare at nothing in particular.
"I submit," Calico said.
"She did <i>what</i>?" Dare Damsel demanded.
Dare Damsel sank into her chair. She rested the bridge of her nose on her fist.
The Awe drifted into the room. "I surmise, from your position, that Calico has gone and gotten into trouble," she said.
Dare Damsel simply nodded.
"Shall we go get her?"
With a sigh, Dare Damsel leaned back. "Protectron, when did she leave?"
Dare Damsel rolled her eyes. "And did she take her communicator?"
"She's probably fine," the Awe observed. "This isn't the first time she's done this."
"And it's not the first time she's had to be rescued," Dare Damsel said back. "Stupid... little... girl!"
"Well, we know where she went. I'm ready to go if you are."
"Protectron, do you think she is in trouble?"
"But we don't know what's actually in the hive."
Dare Damsel looked at the Awe, who was now sitting in the chair next to her at the table. "The risk is, if we go in and have problems, there's no one left to bail us out."
"Not true. Avocet, Lady Thunder, and Dynamic will be back soon, and Protectron can advise them of our situation."
Dare Damsel nodded. "You're right. Okay, lets go get her."
Calico stood at attention before the Master Brain.
She was not thinking at all - the Will Suppressor behind her was ensuring that. She simply stood there, will-less, obeying whatever commands it placed into her open mind.
The Master Brain considered. It had succeeded in capturing a super-human. From the minds of its slaves, it already knew a great deal about Calico. She was strong and quick, a definite asset, and she would make a superior Ziim warrior.
However, she was not one of the true super-humans who had pushed back the Ziim invasions. The super-humans who were the reason the Master Brain was here.
It had to decide, now, whether to convert her into a Ziim, which would take time, or to enslave her with a Ziim parasite, which was much faster but impermanent.
She was not a core target. Conversion could happen later.
A human slave brought in a parasite egg at the command of the Master Brain. She held it cupped it in her hands; it was the size of an ostrich egg, leathery on the outside, with a sharp tendril emerging from the top.
The Will Suppressor instructed Calico to remove her clothes.
Calico reached up and touched the top clasp at her neck, turning it, and then slid the microzipper down the back. She pulled the suit off of her arms, one at a time, until the suit hung at her waist, dangling in front of her.
That was enough. The Will Suppressor instructed Calico to stop.
The slave approached with the egg. She lowered it to her waist, and gently touched the small of Calico's back, just above where her costume still covered her ass, with the pointed tip.
Nothing happened for a moment. Then the egg shivered. The tip began to writhe, and then pushed into Calico's flesh, the tip burrowing in, surrounding and engulfing her spine, threading its filaments into her spinal cord.
The egg opened, and the long coil of parasite within began to attach to Calico's back, starting where the nodule of the parasite's body was already binding itself to her lower back and pulling itself up her spine, like a bent tree slowly righting itself, each new inch pressing against her flesh and burrowing a root in.
Calico had started to breathe heavily as the parasite began making its inroads into her mind.
It finished attaching itself, twitching a little against the warm flesh of her back, then it was still. The slave with the empty egg case left, as did the Will Suppressor. It was no longer needed here.
Calico faced the Brain and waited for her mind to be fully enslaved.
Then it was.
"I am a slave of the Ziim," she announced. "I will obey. What is your command?"
<i>Tell me all things you know about your colleagues.</i>
The two guards were still slumped over each other on the floor.
"Well, she's definitely been here," the Awe observed.
"And she hasn't called in," Dare Damsel said, looking down the shaft in the back of the room. "This is her rope, too."
The Awe nodded. Dare Damsel took flight, hovering above the floor, then slowly floated down into the shaft. The Awe activated her flight belt and followed suit.
At the bottom of the shaft was a round room with several passages leading from it. Strange bugs the size of melons loitered around the room, emitting a yellow glow.
"Look at this place," Dare Damsel said.
"It appears that the Ziim have been here longer and achieved more than we had anticipated," the Awe replied.
"It sure does."
Through the light bugs, the Master Brain observed the super-humans. These were the ones it had been sent to convert. These were the beings of power that the Ziim needed to enfold into their race to make it unstoppable.
But it only had one Will Suppressor. The creatures were complicated and very hard to grow. And there were two super-humans.
It had to split them up.
It gave its commands.
There was a scream.
"Help me, oh please, help me!"
The heroines whirled around.
"No, please, don't! I don't want to be a mmmmmpth!"
Dare Damsel flew down the hallway the voice had come from at full speed.
The Awe opened her mouth to say something, but Dare Damsel was already gone. She refrained from sighing as she activated her flight belt again and followed at a much slower rate.
Dare Damsel flew down the hall - it forked, but she thought the voice had come from the right and so she flew that way, past some light bugs and over an ugly round thing with sharp blades for arms and into a large, low room.
The room was full of goo - there were three large pools of faintly glowing slime against the walls, and at least a dozen other pools dotting the floor. There were no other ways out.
Dare Damsel scanned the room. She didn't see...
Then a hand rose from one of the slime pools, followed by and arm, and then a woman's body. The woman pulled long streamers of slime from her face, and gasped, "help me!"
Dare Damsel flew to her, and pulled her from the pool. In it she could see other bodies - but not bodies of people, alien bodies.
Six-armed alien bodies.
This was where they were growing the Ziim.
Dare Damsel held the woman in her arms. She was voluptuous, very naked, and covered in slime. She stared up at Dare Damsel, but her eyes were distant, unfocused.
"Hello?" Dare Damsel asked. "Hello?"
The woman whispered something.
Dare Damsel looked around the room - none of the aliens were bursting from their pools, nothing was rushing her. The strange round alien on four legs with the scythe arms had entered the room, but stood at a respectful distance. It seemed somehow to be focusing on her, but it wasn't moving.
She leaned over to hear the woman's whispers.
"Submit, human," the woman breathed.
Dare Damsel looked at her. Obviously, the aliens were trying to control her. A wave of sympathy washed over Dare Damsel. What this woman had to have gone through, what she was still enduring...
"Submit, human," the woman repeated, a little louder.
Dare Damsel had a sudden moment of worry and felt the woman's back, but there was nothing there, no mind controlling parasite. She was just in a trance.
"Submit, human," she said again.
Dare Damsel relaxed a little. That was silly of her, rushing off like that. She was supposed to be looking for Calico.
"Submit, human," the woman kept saying. Her voice was pretty. And firm, now, like she meant what she was saying.
Dare Damsel considered the alien in the room. It still seemed to somehow be focused on her, but it didn't seem very dangerous.
"Submit, human," the woman said.
Dare Damsel looked at the woman in her arms. She was looking at Dare Damsel, but now her eyes were focused and her expression very firm. She seemed quite commanding.
"Submit, human," she said.
She really ought to be leaving here, rescuing the woman and meeting up with the Awe. But the woman kept talking to her and she seemed so powerful, so important. Dare Damsel didn't want to look away from her.
"Submit, human," the woman said.
Dare Damsel found that she was relaxing, allowing the woman's body to sink to the floor, following it by leaning over. Those dark dark eyes had her full attention and she could not look away.
"Submit, Dare Damsel," the woman said.
She <i>was</i> talking to Dare Damsel, not just murmuring out loud. The woman was fully awake, now, and Dare Damsel felt like she was the groggy one, distant and vague. But relaxed, calm.
She sank to her knees next to the woman, never breaking eye contact.
"Submit, Dare Damsel," the woman repeated.
Dare Damsel stared into her dark, dark eyes.
"Submit, Dare Damsel."
Dare Damsel felt herself slipping away into those beautiful eyes. Behind her, the Will Suppressor came closer.
"Submit, Dare Damsel."
Dare Damsel relaxed even more, sunk down onto her knees, her hands falling limply to her sides. She stared unresistingly into the woman's eyes. Her mouth slowly drooped open.
<i>Submit, Dare Damsel,</i> the alien right behind her said.
"I submit," Dare Damsel breathed with a sigh.
The Awe followed the corridor after Dare Damsel. She came to a fork.
The shouting seemed to have come from the right.
"Awe!" someone shouted.
She was down the left fork. The Awe flew over to her.
"Calico," she said. "What are you doing down here? We agreed not to come alone."
Calico gave her a guilty look and a shrug. "Sorry," she said, "but I just knew they were already converting people. I had to find out. And they are, aren't they?"
The Awe nodded. "I don't know about that, but it does seem as though they have gotten much farther than we expected. Did you see Dare Damsel? She flew down here to investigate a call for help."
Calico nodded. "She went down the other corridor. Let's go find her."
The Awe smiled, and turned around.
Calico hit her over the head with her sap.
She looked down at her unconscious comrade impassively.
"I told you they were converting people," she told the Awe's slumped body.
"They have converted me."
The Awe never got a chance to awaken.
In her sleep, she heard the voice.
"Never," her subconscious responded.
The Will Suppressor woke her up.
The three super-humans stood in front of the Master Brain.
It was gratified; these two, particularly the one known as Dare Damsel, were precisely the slaves that the Ziim needed.
From the slave Calico, it had learned much. Importantly, it learned that there were other local super-humans who would shortly return. This could pose difficulties; full conversion into Ziim would take several days.
However, with the slave Calico as its tool, it should be able to delay them long enough for these two to undergo complete conversion into Ziim. The slave Calico agreed with her Master's assessment, and would eagerly mislead the other super-humans until the converted Dare Damsel and Awe could return, and the others could be captured and converted as well.
And the Master Brain was eager to create its first super-slaves.
Other slaves brought the special conversion pods into the chamber. Not knowing what made the super-humans super, it had been decided that the Ziim would only convert their brains into Ziim slave brains, and leave the rest of their bodies alone; once the Ziim had learned how to breed their own super-humans, experiments with their bodies could take place.
The special conversion pods were thus much smaller than the normal pods; they were thick curved shells, the size of masks.
The slaves placed the pods into the waiting hands of Dare Damsel and the Awe.
Her eyes empty, Dare Damsel looked at the pod in her hands. Slowly, she raised it to her face.
She opened her mouth.
The tendrils of the pod slid into her mouth and nose, as it bound itself tightly to her. Her conversion into Ziim would take several days; the pod would live parasitically on her until then, feeding from her even as it converted her brain into a Ziim slave brain.
As the tendrils burrowed into her mind, Dare Damsel's hands came slowly back to rest at her sides.
It's attention now undivided, the Will Suppressor turned to the Awe. She in turn looked down at the pod in her hands, then slowly raised it to her face and opened her mouth.
A moment later, and both super-humans stood at attention, their hands at their sides, parasitic
masks in place, remaking their minds.
The slave Calico stood impassively next to them, ready to obey.
<i>Return to your headquarters,</i> her Master instructed. <i>Prepare to deceive the others.</i>
"I obey," Calico replied, and walked from the chamber.
END Part One
(Original) END COMMENTS:
Oh no! Will our heroines be rescued from a life of
slavery? With the rest of Millennium Force arrive in
time to save them?
Secret Files Afterword (2016):
As I mentioned with regards to 'Deeper Than You Think', back in the early naughties one of the wings of the EMC community was Yahoo groups, and of those one of the best was Vice's image group.
In late 2004 he posted some renders of mind-controlled superheroines - still a strong suit of his - and I was so taken by them that I felt like writing some fan fiction. So I did; 'Masks' here is basically a 'thank you' gift to him.
Turns out that writing super-heroes is fun! I should do it more often.