Sanctus Virgo
By: Steve Carr

Seated at the head of the table with nine other Brothers of the Infinity seated around the table with their eyes glued on him, Brother Maxwell announced, "We've received our latest directive from the Cabinet of the Brotherhood."

Small hailstones battered the windows made of see-through titanium that lined the small dining hall. The sound reverberated in the room like ricocheting bullets. The brothers glanced at the windows.

"Hailstorms so early in this planet's axis shift. It's going to be a particularly violent second season," Brother Lyle intoned.

The other Brothers nodded knowingly.

"We're to host the Princess Undra from the planet Harsus in the Tropanic Galaxy," Brother Maxwell continued. "She'll be arriving in a fortnight."

The Brothers chattered anxiously among themselves before Brother Tomas meekly raised his hand.

"Yes, Brother. Tomas?" Brother Maxwell said.

"Is it wise to bring a female here? It's never been done in the six hundred years of this monastery," he said, which provoked a fresh round of chatter.

Brother Maxwell raised his hand and the brothers quietened. "It's because we are eunuchs, and that the Cabinet of the Brotherhood has just formed a peace agreement with the government of Harsus, that makes us uniquely qualified to perform this simple task. The princess is to be with us for only seventy-six hours before her nuptials are to take place."

After taking the last sip of wine from his goblet, Brother David belched, and then said, "She's coming from such a distance to be with us for only seventy-six hours? Why?"

What sounded like bucketfuls of hailstones smashed against the windows.

Brother Maxwell looked around the table at the faces of the brothers. "The Cabinet sent me a brief summary of the Harsus culture and people. A Harsus female in their royal lines enter a phase called romance starculatum for seventy-six hours before their wedding where they will do anything within their power to kill the groom. This is both genetically instilled in the female royalty and is part of Harsus culture. The females are generally banished for that time period. We have just happened to be chosen as the place where Princess Undra will be banished to."

Brother Paul placed his folded hands on the table. "There's something you haven't told us yet, Brother Maxwell."

Brother Maxwell bowed his head and mumbled a prayer. "I was told she will be at her most aggressively seductive, and possibly a little violent," he said. "She is particularly dangerous to any Harsus male."

"Is she a great beauty?" Brother David asked as he poured more wine into his goblet.

"They sent no pictures of her or a description," Brother. Maxwell replied, "but I was given to understand that the chips in our brains that make us eunuchs will be enough to withstand her seductive powers or physical allure."

Brother Tomas slowly stood and bowed his head. "We should begin to pray now that our faith alone will keep us from her influence and harm."

The rest of the brothers stood, folded their hands, and bowed their heads.

#

The Harsus spacecraft broke through the thick, gray clouds. The red and blue lights that circled its round hull shone through the hurricane-force winds of snow and sleet. As it descended, six metallic legs with claw-like feet extended from the craft, melting the deep snowdrifts and ice as the craft settled on the ground.

Eight of the Brothers stood huddled outside the monastery door and watched as a door opened in the side of the craft and a ramp extended from it. A few minutes later, four Harsus men pushed a cage down the ramp. The men were built like humans, except they were hairless, had two extra arms, and four eyes that were located in different places on the face of each of the men. Three of the men had scratches on their faces. One had a pad taped to his eye. They wore skintight bright yellow spacesuits that covered their entire bodies from the neck down.

"This is Princess Undra. She has begun her starculatum early," one of the men said, pointing to the Harsus female standing in the cage.

She was naked and had human female attributes, but had the same muscular body of the Harsus men. She had silver hair that reached the ground. She glared at the brothers, grasped the bars of the cage with her four hands, shook it, and growled menacingly.

"Good luck," one of the Harsus men said. "We'll be circling your planet until it's time to come back for the princess." He handed Brother Maxwell a key to the cage. The Harsus men turned and ran back up the ramp. "Wait, I have questions," Brother Maxwell called out, but the ramp quickly retracted into the ship and the door closed.

"We need to get her inside. She'll freeze to death in a matter of minutes out here," Brother Lyle said.

The brothers encircled the cage and pushed and pulled it across the snow to the door of the monastery. Princess Undra clawed at the brothers' gloved hands and faces, putting scratches on the faces of Brother Jason and Brother Michael.

The Harsus ship rose into the air just as the brothers got the cage through the door.

# # #

Brother Maxwell stared at the blank communication screen that sat on his desk. He said to it again, "This is Brother Maxwell. Princess Undra has been here for seventy-four hours. I'm the last of the brothers alive here. Please respond." He waited several minutes and after not getting a response he turned off the screen. He got up from his chair, grasped the brass candlestick holder from his desk and left his office. The halls to the monastery were eerily quiet. Near the library he stepped over the body of Brother David, who's head was turned backward on his neck; the first victim of the Princess, and the person she somehow convinced to let her out of the cage.

As he passed the dining room he saw the body of Brother Matthew sprawled out on the table. His robe was shred and hung in bloody strips from his body. He then walked by the kitchen where Brother John's body lay pinned to the wall by several large butcher knives. Beyond that in several of the brothers' cells, mangled, broken bodies, lay on the cots. It wasn't until he reached the door of the chapel that he heard her. In the last few hours she had taken to laughing and giggling instead of growling and hissing. He slowly opened the door.

Princess Undra was on the podium at the front of the chapel. She was squatting over the body of Brother Tomas, and while not eating him, she was tearing his flesh from his body with her teeth. When the door squeaked she looked up, and with her eyes shifting locations several times on her face, she eyed Brother Maxwell for a few seconds before standing. She licked her lips and wiped the blood from her face with one of her forearms. She then ran her four hands suggestively up and down her body.

Brother Maxwell felt something snap in his head, in the location of the implant. This was followed by a surge of heat that coursed through his entire body. He broke out into a cold sweat and his knees felt weak. He had become a eunuch when he was eleven, so what he was feeling was totally foreign to him, but what was happening to his body left him with no doubt that he was aroused by her. But he wasn't just sexually drawn to her, he had fallen in love with her, instantly.

He dropped the candlestick and kicked off his sandals. Then he did what all the other brothers said he did like an angel. He sang. "Like a nova you burn so bright in my heart." He began to walk toward her with his arms spread.

She cocked her head as a smile crossed her face. Her eyes formed a horizontal line across her forehead.

"My love for you is as hot as the center of the sun," he sang. He stopped and removed his robe and tossed it onto a pew.

She stepped over Brother Tomas's body and then stepped down from the podium. She swung her hips as she slowly walked toward him.

He reached out his arms, closed his eyes, and puckered his lips.

#

Four Harsus men stood outside the monastery door being buffeted by the howling wind and sleet.

Princess Undra opened the door. She was wearing a brother's robe. "I'm ready to be wed now," she said calmly.

"If you will forgive the intimacy of my mentioning this, your highness, but you have spots of fresh blood on your face," one of the men said.

She raised a sleeve and wiped her face with it. As she lowered her arm, her middle eye saw stitched on the hem of the sleeve, Brother Maxwell.

The End

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