"I'm not going down there, Ragor."
A muscle-bound mountain of a man turns to look at the small, slender woman beside him. His ocular implant illuminates for a moment.
"You're afraid, Ka'reen?" he asks.
The diminutive redhead wraps her arms around her half naked torso and shivers. She pulls the bits of cloth covering her a little tighter and exhales a plume of frosty breath.
It was a cold night in the lush, tropical jungle – something which no one ever expected.
Ragor looks back to the deep, black hole several feet in front of him. Frigid air continues to rush up from the darkness below.
Ka'reen's teeth begin to chatter. "I'm not afraid... I'm cold. I'm cold up here. It looks colder down there. I'm not going with you. I'll wait for you here."
The large man uses his implant to scan the surrounding area. He turns back to the small woman, his facial expression completely blank.
"There is life all around us. Life that may try to make a meal out of you. Are you sure you want to stay here alone?"
The little redhead sneezes and wipes her nose. She lifts the alien-looking canon slung casually over her left shoulder and gives a little nod.
"I'm not alone. I've got my POW-POW. She'll watch over me."
A slight grin crosses Ragor's face and he returns the nod. "As you wish, little one. I will return as quickly as I can."
He steps to the edge of the opening in the earth and stares down into the abyss.
"Be careful, Ragor!" Ka'reen cautions. I'll send a 'Power-Thought' when the rest of the team arrives.
The large man nods again and smiles. "With any luck, I'll be back before they arrive."
He taps the heels of his metallic boots together. Repulser technology lifts him into the air and positions him over the middle of the gaping hole.
"It's not fair that your tech implants regulate your body temperature so efficiently!" Ka'reen shouts and stomps her foot. "You never feel the temperature around you!"
Ragor smiles up at the small woman as he begins to descend into the darkness below. "Try running around the lip of this opening. I'm sure the local wildlife would love to play tag with you. It will keep you warm."
"Not funny!" Her words echo in the blackness that swallows him whole.
Time loses meaning as the large man continues to descend into the earth. He feels the dim sensation of the frigid air rushing upward all around him, but that is all. Were it not so ominous, this might actually be considered relaxing.
"Intriguing," he mutters. "The temperature actually seems to be dropping the further down I go. This is exactly opposite of what is expected."
More time passes. Icicles begin to form along his extremities and make a soft tingling sound as the frigid air continues to rush past.
Ragor's optical implant flashes to life.
"No conclusive readings. How odd. Perhaps traditional optical will yield a better result."
The tips of his massive fingers burst into brilliant light and illuminate the walls of the cylindrical cavern as he continues to descend. They are perfectly smooth – almost as if they were drilled with a laser.
"Intriguing," he mutters again.
More time passes. Suddenly, a voice materializes in his mind. "Ragor, the rest of the team has arrived. It's been half an hour; are you okay down there, big guy?"
He closes his eyes in the darkness and concentrates. "Yes, I am fine. I continue to descend. I wonder if this cavern will ever have an –"
The large man's feet splash down into a hyper cold liquid. Now he finally begins to feel the chill.
"Correction, I have reached a pool of frigid liquid. Scanning now."
Ragor's boot technology fails and the large man suddenly finds himself immersed. Emotion finally makes an appearance on his face as the numbing cold quickly overcomes his environmental countermeasures.
"Immersed," he desperately 'Power-Thinks' back to Ka'reen. "Freezing... Too dangerous... Do not follow..."
"Ragor!" the small woman desperately communicates her thoughts back. "Ragor, can you feel me? Are you still receiving? Ragor!"
The man-machine feels his internal systems begin to shut down, one by one.
"Farewell," he mouths from his liquid tomb.
The last of his physical sensations drain away. Only numbness and nothingness remain.
But then, a most curious thing happens.
Ragor the Red falls out of the water and onto dry land. A warm, tropical land illuminated by biofluorescent plant life.
An hour later, Ragor's systems come back online and stimulate his organic tissue back to life. He sits up and gasps for air.
"Ka'reen?" He Power-Thinks. "Ka'reen? Are you there? Are you feeling this?"
He turns his gaze to the torrent of hyper-cooled liquid swirling above his head like some sort of terrible nightmare sky.
"Ka'reen!?" he tries again in vain.
"She cannot feel you, Ragor the Red," a soft, female voice says from behind him. "Not while you're here. Not while you're with me."
The man mountain leaps to his feet and whirls around to face his captor.
A beautiful and majestic female in blood red robes stands before him. Easily a match for his height, her golden skin shimmers and glints as it partially reflects the illuminated flora around them.
Ragor's optical implant comes to life and scans the grinning woman. Something about her smile... the look in her eye... made his stomach turn.
The woman continues to smile as she reaches forward and begins running the tips of her fingers over the man-mountain's chiseled upper body. She looks him directly in his eye and smiles a little larger.
"Do you like what your machine sees? I am quite unlike anything to be found on the surface of Ajs An'hlj – I can promise you that."
Several of Ragor's internal circuits come to life as his heart begins to beat a little faster.
"Ajs An'hlj? That is your name for this planet? Our word for this planet is—"
"I don't care," she whispers in his ear and continues to explore his upper body with her hands. "You're here. You survived the descent. That is all that matters now."
He catches her at the wrists and removes her hands from his body.
"What are you called?" he asks.
The woman leans forward and smells his neck. His scent pleases her.
"What name do I call you? He asks again.
"Endless," she whispers.
"Endless?" he asks, a slight puzzlement on his face. "Are you a visitor to this planet? Or did your people origina—"
"Shhh," she says cutting him off again. "Let us speak of other things. Do you desire me, Ragor the Red?"
His muscles strain to create more distance between their bodies.
"How do you know my name? Have we met somewhere before?"
The golden woman closes the distance between them again and speaks softly.
"I know many things. Secret things. Do you wish me to share my secrets with you? There is but a small price to pay."
The circuitry just beneath his skin suddenly lights up like a Christmas tree and Ragor's strength doubles. He roughly shoves the female called Endless backward. She falls into the dense, glowing fauna with a high pitched screech.
"You are incorrect, Endless. My scan of you reveals that I have seen your kind before. Not on this earth, mind you, but my team and I have travelled extensively."
The golden woman sits up from the undergrowth and hisses at the large man standing over her.
"I gather you are past your reproductive prime? You must have waited an unfathomable amount of time for someone to be able to breech your freezing liquid shield."
"Every thousand years, I make another invitation to the surface!" she screams and lashes out at the object of her desire. "Your weak, primate minds are so easy to read!"
"But I am not of this planet – and neither are you. You are from a distant star beyond the reach of our current technology."
"Silence, worm!" Endless springs from her spot on the ground and tackles the red-skinned alien being. "Your physiology is compatible with my own. I can sense it. You will not deny my race its continued survival!"
Ragor grunts as his body struggles to match the star woman's strength. There is a desperation behind her actions that frightens his highly evolved mind.
The alien beings wrestle and struggle to overcome each other as they roll through the shining undergrowth. The large man begins to feel his power levels drop while unsuccessfully trying to defend against the large woman's advances.
"You're weakening, I can feel it!" she hisses as she finally manages to pin her trophy beneath her. "Now! Now, Ragor the Red! Now you will give me what I need!"
"The nine hells he will, blondie!"
Endless looks upward to see a small group of people descend out of the liquid sky in a force bubble. A small redheaded female points a weapon at her and fires. Ka'reen's POW-POW hits the other woman square in the chest and blasts her back into the undergrowth.
Endless writhes in pain and clutches her breasts as Ragor and his team surround her.
"Sorry, big guy," Ka'reen pipes up, "I didn't mean to interrupt your date."
Several of the other members of the Galaxy Squad attend to the wounded Eternal as Ragor places a hand gently on the little redhead's shoulder.
"That's alright, Ka'reen. At least you're warm now."