Glutton for More Punishment

"We're just about to break through the atmosphere." Elise called out to the group. Carmen sat next to her while the others Jen, Suzie and an uncomfortable-looking John sat at different consoles of the bridge.

In the viewing screen, a background of bright orange light combined with sheer speed was seen by the group. The rumble and tumble the ship gave was on account of breaching the atmosphere.

"I hope we pass through this quick." Suzie remarked.

"It's not like we don't have much time. The planet's not gonna blow up yet." Jen bit out as she as she gripped the handles of her seat.

"Doesn't mean we're not out of danger either…" Carmen said.

"What do you mean?" Suzie asked.

"Going through the portal beforehand sent in a lot of Laterus' ships into this universe. They were damaged during the battle that started out before we even got to the planet, but a long time has passed since then and there wasn't much mention to them. It's highly probable that the ships may be at full power once more. I can sense that they're still far out but in a few hours, we'll catch up to them."

"Ain't this some sheer crap…" Elise shook her head while the rest of the group moaned over a possible situation.

"Well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, as the saying goes." Jen spoke. "We got one of their flagships so maybe we'll stand a fighting chance."

At the moment, the breaking of the atmosphere ceased and white, eerie space was shown. The ship was calm and floated off to the side until it was straightened and went forward.

"At least that's over with." John said while frowning and continued to squirm in his seat.

"I agree as well. But John now we have some questions." Suzie said as she looked at him.

"Yeah, major ones!" Jen nodded in agreement.

"Well, let's start with the obvious…" Nodding, John waited and looked at Suzie.

"What happened to you? That 'Vesuvia' woman said you disappeared and the great power-"

John held up a hand. "I have to talk smart and that's the only way I can explain it."

"We can adjust easily." Carmen said and stood next to Suzie and waited for him to continue. "Please, I'm eager to know myself."

"Alright, here goes…" John cleared his throat before going on. "It was the abyss."

Each of the women gave off confused expressions. Frowns were heavily apparent. Nevertheless, John explained.

"Before the universe was created, the afterlives, a superior race of titans that managed order and civility. Now they reside in the abyss and look to every universe to check its progress and whatnot. They were the very judges I was conversing when I was there. When I disappeared, that's where I went. They call it the abyss. They told me that a higher being with the power to control the universe, in other words, someone with the power of a very titan was to ensure the management, safety and control of the entire universe. There are many universes that these titans control. I somehow made a deal with them."

"A deal?" Carmen asked.

"The truth is I was only given a mere tenth of their power. At the time, the responsibility of having the great power was burdensome and thus, the only power I was given or sustained rather, was a superior intellect, energy projection and other similar abilities."

"So if you don't have the great power then…" Suzie said slowly and tried to figure out what John was implying.

"I gave it back to them. I couldn't do it." John shook his head and spoke like himself now. "I was afraid of it. I convinced them to give me just a fraction of their power so that somehow I can be used to bring back the men, all men."

"Well that's good, I guess." Jen said.

"Soon every single man will regain their focus and mentality."

"But you have a portion of their power and I'm assuming that that portion didn't come without a price, did it?" Carmen said carefully.

John shook his head slowly. "The power was too much and I know how corruptible it can do to someone. I didn't want to be seen as a threat so I made a deal for them to transfer some of their power to me in exchange for another threat to emerge."

"What?" Jen said confused.

"What are you saying?" Elise spoke now.

"He told me a threat similar to me would awaken. Basically a balance has to be made. One positive and one negative."

"Oh my God!" Suzie replied as she put a hand to her mouth in shock.

"Someone or something is going to come at us at some point in the future." John said sadly.

"Great, just when things were going so well." a disappointed Jen said.

A pensive Carmen frowned. Still contemplating, she then made her way out of the bridge with nobody taking regard to her.

"The male species for someone like you?" A confused Elise said with her arms crossed.

"Well..." Jen struggled to say. "at least we'll have a fighting chance. But here's a question: how would you be used to bring the men back?"

"I can't do it here...I need to open a portal. This place isn't technically a real universe. The universe we know, and the ones like it are the only genuine ones. Once we get through, I can use up all the power I have in my system to send a large wave all around existence. It would echo, it would give off waves. Any man will be functional again."

"I'm sorry, I'm lost. Why can't you use it here? You just demonstrated an assortment of powers here." Jen said.

"Well, yeah of course. But there's no life in this universe. This power to make people have coherent thought holds no purpose here. So I can't use it here. It would be pointless."

"So how do we do this then?" Elise asked.

"I need a missile." John proposed. "Or anything similar to that. The energy I have would be uploaded there, store it, and use it immediately once we get out."

"Now or afterwards?" Suzie frowned.

"I'll still have power to create a portal. Right now, I have to put in at least 90% of what I have in me into the missile. It's the only way to save my gender, guys."

Down the hallway of the main area of the ship, Carmen went a long way several levels down and finally arrived at a door, opening it was an all-white room that had a laser-barred cell that contained Vesuvia. From the other side of the cell, Vesuvia stood proud and waited for what Carmen had to say.

"I know you know." Carmen stated to her face to face. "The fact that you went through all this trouble getting here and leaving here with absolutely nothing must be beyond distressful."

"What do you think you know?" she growled.

"Don't underestimate me. I have withstood death and rebirth, both of which were painful processes for me but nevertheless, I remain unscathed and I remain eager to make sure the universe is a good place to live in once again."

"I'm the last of my kind." Vesuvia growled in a sort of menacing tone. "I have absolutely nothing to lose or to gain."

"Do not sidestep my question. John Thomson is the only one who can bring back all males. You wanted to be queen to him being king. Now you're not. All you want is him. But he's not who you want. I cannot let this happen." Carmen seethed in anger.

"You cannot stop me. What you want to do will change you. I accept my fate. Do you?"

Never lowering her glance to Vesuvia, Carmen went to the other wall where she pressed a series of buttons. Immediately, the laser bars disappeared. Carmen proceeded to fight Vesuvia as she let out a punch to her reptilian face. Vesuvia staggered back and let out her own volley of kicks and punches. They were all blocked while Carmen let out her own hits which were not very effective.

Carmen grabbed her by her tentacle-like hair strands and let her out of the room. Both of them struggled with one another. Vesuvia broke free of Carmen's hold and let out a punch that sent Carmen to the other wall behind her. Carmen wiped the trickle of blood coming down her nose. She went back to fighting Vesuvia and let out a kick that tripped her sending her to the ground.

Growling and growing desperate, Carmen got on top of her and punched her repeatedly in the face. Carmen's next fist was held by Vesuvia and turned her over and which she was the one hitting her. Carmen was out cold by the sheer ferocity of Vesuvia's blows. Seeing as Carmen was incapacitated, Vesuvia looked over her shoulder and prepared for the next step.

Retrieving a missile from the firing bay took Elise and Jen to do it. Bringing it into the bridge and disassembling it, took a while. After which, Suzie spoke.

"Where's Carmen?"

"I don't know. I haven't heard from her." Elise said concerned.

"She just walked out without giving us a heads up." Jen pointed out.

"You guys should go ahead and find her. I'll finish up with this. Believe me, I know how." John said indicating the opened missile.

"Alright then." Elise said and the rest of the ladies then went out the door.

"You sure you don't want me to stay with you?" Suzie asked.

"I'm surprised you want to stay with me after everything I just did." John said the last bit with disappointment.

"You did what you thought was right. Besides, whatever will come, we'll face it together." Suzie said as she put a hand to his cheek.

Suddenly a force from behind knocked out Suzie. A blow had been issued to her head and she fell down with her eyes closed, completely out of it.

"Hello there." It was Vesuvia who stood in Suzie's place.

John didn't need her to tell her how crafty and elusive Vesuvia can be.

'I can't let her get this!' He thought as he was afraid she would get his powers. 'Not that she could...' From behind his head, all the power swirled down in a golden mist and finally, to the missile behind his feet. 'Hopefully she won't take notice...'

John tried to fight back with a punch. But Vesuvia countered his moves easily and planted a swift kick to his big gut, making him gasp for breath. He began to get away from her.

"I see you're weak now. I don't know how. But I don't care anymore. You have embarrassed me." she did a front flip and brought her foot down to John's head, stunning him.

John was behind a console but soon saw an angry Vesuvia right there and no matter how hard he tried to fight her. All his blows were countered. Eventually he was met with a kick to his chest and knocked to a chair. He was nudged in and couldn't get out due to his size.

Vesuvia stood in front of a worried John. No power was within him. Hence, he was at a disadvantage. Right now he squirmed himself free only to have Vesuvia leap toward him and have her seated on his fat thighs. The chair was knocked back to the edge of the console.

"You will pay for all that you've caused!" she whispered menacingly as she held a hand to his throat and prepared to choke him.

"We're not doing this." John raised his hands as Vesuvia began to advance.

Vesuvia smirked. "Why? Are you really that afraid to hit a woman now? It didn't stop you the last time." she cocked her head as if understanding.

"You're beautiful for whatever you are and we should just talk about this..." he suggested and tried to back away but Vesuvia kept coming toward him.

"It's time we both get what we want." Vesuvia pulled out a small knife and lowered her face toward John's who trembled at her closeness. "I know you lust for me. However, I lust for your death!" she then planted a big kiss to him while she prepared to swing down the knife.

The bridge of the ship was hit by an effective force from the outside just then. Both Vesuvia and John were knocked to the side and again laser blasts were heard. The knife disappeared. The gravity was a problem now. Everything swung to the left side of the bridge.

"What the-?" John cried out and eventually shook his head looking for an answer as to why everything was rumbling.

He looked at the viewing screen and saw his answer.

Several freighters were seen far ahead.

"We know you have captured our leader, Laterus Assum-Uklina. Surrender now, or we will be forced to use deadly means!" a voice was heard on the radio.

"Oh crap-ola!" John sighed.